Indonesian Yum

Welcome to the country of islands, 17,508 according to the booklet with the snacks.

If this box is a representation of the Indonesian snacks as a whole they have a bit of a sweet tooth in southeast Asia. Two thirds of the snacks were sweet rather than savory. The ones I’m highlighting betray my own sweet tooth, starting with my favorite of the box.

The Coffee Joy cookies were as named. They were thin crispy cookies with a hint of coffee taste and topped with a sprinkling of sugar crystals. I sat there enjoying them watching TV and was surprised when I realized I reached the last cookie. Nothing complex but a complete treat.

My second favorite came from the Yum bag which has the little bite sized candies. In this case one of the several gummies in the box.

The Cola Burger, on the far left in the photo, did in fact taste like cola. This took me back to youth and the first cola flavored gummy I ever had in Geneva. I’m sure the nostalgia bumped it up in the rankings but it really did have a very nice cola flavor and the burger shape was fun. Since you saw them in the pic I’ll say the tamarind hard candy was interesting and I wouldn’t mind one every now and then. The melon milk chew was a contender for the oddest thing in the box. It wasn’t horrible but not two flavors I love together. Speaking of odd.

The track record for meat flavored snacks has been spotty and best and this one didn’t improve the record. They have a slightly weird smell I’ve started to associate with artificial meat flavor and find off putting. The little balls are made of tapioca and have a slightly sweet flavor and a decent crunch. The size and shape make them a pain in the behind to grab a few and eat though. If the flavor had been different they might not have been my least favorite snack in the box but alas it was fake beef and just kind of nasty.

This little bowl of fun I thought was the most unusual, but in a good way. Both the egg and noodles are like gummies with some slightly sour fruit taste but sweet overall. The noodles had a slight sugar coating that also made them easy to separate. I don’t know what the flavor was but I like it and it was definitely a snack that brought a smile as I ate it.

I just wanted to mention these because of the savories it was my favorite and sort of like corn nuts I can get here. The difference was instead of being the swollen kernels we have these are regular corn size kernels and just as light but with a crunch that makes a sound like an 18 wheeler driving down a gravel lane. Bonus they were garlic flavored.

Overall the Indonesia box was solid with only a couple of duds. Well done Universal Yums.

Surf City 2019

I was running a little early for check in and decided to stop for lunch when I got near Surf City. I was keeping an eye out for something that looked local rather than fast food or a franchise. I saw the Village Cafe in Hampstead, NC and decided to give it a try.

There weren’t many cars in the lot but it was a little after the prime lunch hour so I wasn’t that concerned. When I walked in it took a few moments for anyone to see me waiting and when they did I got a lady who walked over and smiled and asked “Can I help you?” “I thought I might get some lunch,” was my response and that got a surprised “Oh, OK.” I don’t know what she thought I was doing there and I’ll admit I wasn’t sporting my dress shorts and beach polo shirt but I don’t think I was channeling my inner hobo either. She offered a seat at the empty bar first and then reluctantly offered to seat me with the other patrons if I really wanted. I flirted with asking to sit right next to one of the two other occupied tables just to freak her out but I preferred the bar anyway.

After sorting this out and spending a minute with the menu I ordered the chicken Gouda sandwich with house made chips.

The sandwich was not bad. The avocado was an interesting touch but the chicken breast was really small, chips were probably made the day before and the bun was meh. Definitely not a great start to a culinary week.

Sunday morning I decided to venture forth for breakfast and set out walking towards the business area. I passed up a place I visited last year and was lured in by the aroma of the Xanadu Market bakery.

The shop is split into two sections customers can wander around in. As you enter there are a few tables and the bakery case, coffee urns and cashier in the first section. A large opening lets you into another section where you can see the bakers busily going at it and the products on cooling racks plus some being packaged.

Unlike most bakeries I’ve visited these had a lot of items already wrapped in plastic wrap and labeled so grab and go was certainly quick. From the case I got a cranberry orange muffin and just because I love them a blueberry scone. The cranberry orange muffin was good, a little moist and enough of both flavors to enjoy but let the batter taste still make it through. The scone was not as pleasant. The flavor was ok but it was too dry and crumbly and the consistency was not quite sconey (I’m sure that’s a word) enough. I also got some croissants to take back for the family and discovered they were the real deal. I got plain, chocolate, spinach, and red pepper & cheese. I had half of a spinach and half a red pepper & cheese and they were both great. They were buttery, sweet and savory with a fantastic texture. Definitely better than the scone.

The next new experience was lunch at Surf Dog with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Another place in walking distance so we got a little exercise strolling down to the shopping plaza where Surf Dog is located. They atmosphere is beachy. They have a decent number of tables and a good size bar / counter to eat at. The menu isn’t complicated but they certainly embrace the dog theme with the names of the hot dogs. I settled on a Boxer & a Mutt with homemade chips.

I liked the presentation of the dogs with the interesting bun that was like a cross between Texas toast and a top sliced bun. It did a good job of holding the grilled all beef dogs and the toppings. The Boxer was topped with pimento cheese, bacon, onion and jalapenos while the Mutt sported their secret sauce and sauerkraut. The pimento cheese was warm but not messy like I’ve had when it’s been a topping on burgers I’ve had in the past. The secret sauce wasn’t special but the kraut was tasty. Both were delicious. In summary the dogs were tasty and toppings were plentiful without being too messy. The chips were thick, fried enough to be crunchy, and based on the nice color in oil changed reasonably often. My sister gave the fried chicken sandwich a thumbs up. Surf Dog definitely worth a do-over unlike the next contestant.

We had just about the whole crew rounded up and carpooling to Coastal Wing & Spirits Co. We had high hopes for this place and they were across the street from a brewery so it felt like it should be a twofer; good food and local craft beer. It was barely a onefer. We were seated relatively quickly by the one person working the floor when we walked in. She pulled some tables together so we could sit in a big group so the initial impression was good, from the service point anyway.. The first bump came when the other server came to get our drink orders. They didn’t have any of the beer from the place, literally across the street, and the one beer I tried to order they were out of. At noon. On a weekday. Spoiler, it wasn’t going to be the last disappointment.

We got our food order in after determining they were out of something else, I can’t recall what. I ordered Uncle Carter’s Chicken Bog.

So the description on the menu was Long Grain Rice, Pulled Chicken, Smoked Sausage, Spices, Roll. That’s lifted right from the menu. The rice was long grain and the sausage might have been smoked at some time, there were some grey bits. The chicken was pulled alright, from a can. It still had the rounded contours from the can on some hunks. The main flavor was salt with stray hints of other spices. I never saw a roll so that might have been a warning to roll on out of there but I wasn’t smart enough to decode it. On the other hand the fries were competently done and the tea didn’t suck. And to be fair the waitstaff was very nice and friendly trying to work with what they did have. In case you haven’t guessed I’d not recommend this spot.

The last place I want to mention is Topsail Steamer and the food we got there. We take turns cooking supper for the whole group and my folks know how to make good grub. Each year I do a low country boil which other folks know by different names but it is essentially shrimp, sausage, corn & potatoes all boiled together with seafood seasoning. In the past I purchased the ingredients and we always had local shrimp. The issue in the past has been big cooking pots at a rental spot. Last year I saw Topsail Steamer (it’s next to the doughnut shop) and had been mulling that option for a year. In addition to the combo I wanted they have several others varying or adding the seafood plus you can add additional amounts of this or that ingredient. The big deal is they put all of this in a light single use (but you can find other uses for them) pot and they use local shrimp and have options for the seafood spice as well. Simple steaming instruction and a few containers of butter and cocktail sauce not to mention the brown paper for the table. It’s not as cheap as buying all the ingredients yourself and putting it together but I loved walking in, paying for it then coming back and picking it all up at the time I wanted. The end result was fantastic. This is the first of 3 piles to hit the table.

Photo courtesy of Keith Beasley

The quality of all the ingredients was good. The shrimp were a nice size, we had two kinds of sausage and they both had good flavors and the corn was sweet and the potatoes did their potato job and filled you up. They will be my go to next year on my night to cook.

This year I didn’t try as many new spots and my luck wasn’t as good as last year but as the saying goes, “just wait ’til next year.”

Beach Beer

I decided to add a new activity to our family beach vacation this year. On the way to get some cider for the trip I thought it might be fun to have a beer tasting and introduce people to beer they might not otherwise try and have some fun with their reactions. My thought was to keep it local by only including NC & SC beers and have 4 pretty different styles.

We used small cups as our tasters so it only took two bottles / cans for everyone to have a decent taste with little waste in case someone didn’t care for one of the selections.

The first one we tried was RJ Rockers Peachy King. Let me say now I’m using internet images because some brain surgeon forgot to take snaps of the containers.

RJ Rockers is out of Spartanburg, SC and the Peachy King is a wheat ale brewed with, you guessed it, peaches. It’s also 9% alcohol which got peoples attention even with the little shot cups. I didn’t do a word cloud but some comments were; creamy, bitter, peachy, pecan?, yuck and a straight up shiver of dislike. We had one person enthusiastic about it and several others like it while a third did not and a couple were in the OK camp. Personally I liked it.

Our next contestant was the Lenny Boy Ground Up Coffee Stout.

Lenny Boy is a Charlotte brewer and the name of the beer pretty well lays out what it’s all about. It is a 5.3% beer. The consensus was the coffee taste was there but it was mild. It was not as bitter as the Peachy King but we had several people who weren’t coffee fans so that didn’t help them much. No one was enthusiastic about this one, although a third liked it. It did get a nod for best aftertaste from one of the panel. As much as I like stouts I have to say I didn’t love this one.

Our third beer was from Sycamore Brewing, their Strawberry Lemonade Gose.

Sycamore is from Charlotte and I’ve been there a couple of time on a Friday when they had food trucks so I was already feeling positive towards the beer. If you aren’t familiar a gose is a sour beer that usually has a salty taste as well. This one is tarted up even more by being brewed with lemons and they say there are strawberries involved as well but it was a real struggle to find any. Initial impressions were; sour, lemon, lemonade flavor, acidic, and no. It is a summer beer that should be ice cold when you’re drinking it. About a third liked it, most were jumped on the OK bandwagon and one just didn’t like it at all.

Our final entry was the White Zombie white ale from Catawba Brewing.

Catawba is headquartered in Morganton, NC and I’ve visited the Charlotte location which has a very nice taproom. The White Zombie is a Belgian style wheat beer of 5.1% alcohol and a hint of citrus courtesy of the orange peel added to the brew. Interestingly this had the most initial likes but didn’t finish as the top beer in our final review. Early comments included; pissy (yes that’s what I typed), light, least bitter, watered down, a hint of orange. My feelings were it was meh.

When all was said and done Peachy King was the overall number 1, White Zombie took second, Strawberry Lemonade avoided last place by being third and the poor old Ground Up Coffee Stout was easily in 4th place.

Thanks to all the guinea pigs, I mean tasters; Lynn, Mr B, Dee, Alex, Haley, Chris, Paige, Garrett, and Lauren who joined us in spirit and can for real next year.

We all enjoyed the activity and plan to do it again on next years trip with the twist that everyone who wants to participate will bring a beer to ante up. Very much looking forward to it. Only 51 weeks to go.

Opening Day

Food Truck Friday

I am a couple of weeks behind posting and this was actually a couple of Friday’s ago. I’ve got stuff in the hopper now for the next few weeks but I wanted to start the catch-up with this one.

I’m not a hunter however I look forward to the opening of another season, my local Food Truck Friday season. I guess I do hunt for new food trucks and dishes to try during this season but my taxidermy bill is nil.

My day hadn’t been stellar up to the point I departed for the event. I’d flown earlier in the day and there was an almost hour delay getting bags from the plane to the carousel which peeved me a tad. I was counting on this first FTF to counteract that and it did. I rode in listening to 80’s music on the radio and got out to the strains of Journey’s Any Way You Want It from the evenings band, Kids In America an 80’s tribute band. They did a great job and as you can see from the photo committed to it with the hair and wardrobe.

With that promising start I was off to the beverage tent where the rotating tap selections included, Funky Buddha Black Currant beer.

It had a purple hue and tartness from the black currants that made this Belgian ale enjoyable from sip one. They call it a Tripel Lindy which seems like a Back To School reference to me and just added another point in its favor. It also had a 9 point something alcohol percentage which I noticed by the time I hit the bottom of the cup.

From that point I was in hunter mode searching for signs of something different and tasty. After reconning the array trucks available I backtracked to Momo Food Truck.

They had several options I was interested in but the special of dumplings over a rice bowl looked like a winner to me and spoiler, it was a winner.

Talk about fusion, there was a lot going on in this dish. The chicken was served with a gravy that had a definite Indian influence kind of like tandoori flavor with light tomato gravy. Accompanying that was plain basmati rice, steamed vegetables and oddly pico de gallo. The steamed dumplings were filled with minced chicken that was lightly spiced and had what tasted like a hint of coconut and the whole drizzled with a mustardy sweet sauce. Like I said a lot going on. I have to say this was absolutely worth having again.

I almost forgot, check out this utensil they were supplying with the food. I’d not seen this before and thought it was worth a pic. I didn’t need to cut anything so I didn’t test how sturdy it would have been with the knife snapped out.

The evening was a perfect temperature and as I shared a bench with a family, who’s kid knew every one of the 80’s tunes (good parenting), enjoying the breeze and my Sugar Creek Blood Orange IPA I felt the satisfaction of a successful opening day.

New Jersey Nosh

US – Northeast

As on most Saturday mornings I was preparing to go grab breakfast at one of my usual haunts when I remembered a new spot I’d seen on my way to the Doctor earlier in the week. It was in a spot that has been at least two other restaurants that I’d visited so I thought let’s see what #3 might have going for it.

I checked them out online and when I saw this on the menu I knew I had to check them out.

I figured if they had crayons on the salad I needed to see if they were cooking with E-Z Bake ovens and using a Lite Brite for the menu board. (Spoiler Alert – they didn’t and aren’t).

When I got to Momma’s Place I was the only patron in the restaurant. I was greeted and seated quickly and set up with coffee and a menu. When I got the menu the guy waiting on me let me know the whole menu was open so order anything I wanted. As tempting as a crayone salad might have been or more seriously an empanada for breakfast I decided to stick with “regular” breakfast fare.

In this case a bagel with eggs, pork roll & provolone cheese.

Now getting to that required navigating a lot of options. The stock breakfast sandwich is two eggs (fried, scrambled or omelet style) on a roll or bagel (plain, everything or cinnamon raisin). You can add meat (bacon, Italian sausage, pork roll or ham) or cheese (American, Swiss, provolone, cheddar, pepper jack, muenster, or Monterrey jack) for little extra.

Never having had pork roll and after some discussion about how pork roll was like the unofficial official breakfast meat of New Jersey & New York I had to try it out. It’s also called Taylor ham in some quarters for reasons you can find out on Wikipedia after Googling it.

Looking at the photo you may have had the same reaction I did, “that’s just fried bologna man.” It was in fact fried but it was definitely more hammy tasting that bologna. It was fried to the point where it was a little bit crispy and paired well with the rest of the sandwich.

The staff of this place was really great, friendly and more than willing to converse with the customers and answer any questions. I’ll definitely go back and try some of their other offerings, although I’m still not that keen to try the crayons.

Salivating over Salvadoran

El Salvador

After seeing an early showing of Captain Marvel I decided to just take a right onto South Blvd in Charlotte and see what struck my fancy. I had confidence there’d at least be something with a Latin American influence along the route that would serve. After passing a few that didn’t lure me in I decided to pull into a strip lot parking lot because I saw a Mexican place at the end that looked promising. The I saw Restaurante Comalapa that advertised being Salvadoran, Honduran & Mexican and that roped me right in.

When I first walked in and the waitress rounded the corner and saw me it apparently threw her off her game because she just stood there for a bit staring at me. I don’t know if she thought I was lost, wanted to use the phone or what but after a few seconds of silence I decided to help her out and said “Just uno” and that seemed to cut through the confusion and she went into action, grabbing a menu and beckoning me to follow.

As soon as butt hit booth she asked if I wanted guacamole fresco & chips so I said sure. I expected her to ask me what I wanted to drink first but nope that didn’t come up until she came back several minutes later with a platter of chips, salsa and guacamole.

I ordered up a Modelo Especial and tried my first bite of the guacamole. So let me say until just a few years ago I called this green concoction gag-a-mole or gackamole but I’ve had a change of heart and will eat it now and then. Based on that I am no connoisseur of guacamole but this was the best I’ve ever had. They mean the “fresco” part and that’s why she asked immediately because they make it to order. All the ingredients tasted fresh and it was both creamy and chunky with just the right amount of salt and cilantro. I did try the salsa and while it was good it was the second place finisher in a two dip race. Let me also add this is an appetizer and will show on the bill.

I tried to order the chicken tamales for my meal since the picture made them look pretty cool and they came wrapped in a plantain leaf. I barely got the word tamale out of my mouth and she was channeling her inner Soup Nazi with “no tamales for you!” At least she followed it up with “we ran out”. OK so it wasn’t personal. She recommended the other dish I was considering, pupusas.

These are kind of like corn flour pancakes stuffed with cheese and / or other things like the pork I got. They came with cabbage salad and a thin tomato sauce. I tasted the cabbage salad first and it was crunchy and tart with a bit of carrot and some green herb I think was oregano. At first I thought it was vinegar giving the tangy acidity but the more I had of it the more it reminded me of the tang from fermentation like the homemade sauerkraut I made last year. Regardless it was good but still only a side dish.

The pupusas were new to me but I’m now a fan, at least of the ones from Comalapa. They had a nice corn taste and the filling was ground pork with a little seasoning. It was ground fine, not quite a paste, so the filling layer wasn’t thick, just enough to give additional flavor to the corn bread. The tomato sauce for dipping was called “special” on the menu but that was optimistic at best. It was thin and fairly tasteless but to me it was extraneous anyway. The papusas stood on their own.

Overall I’d have to say this lunch was no kind of fancy but some kind of good. If you find yourself in the neighborhood stop in and grab a meal. Oh and by the end of the meal the waitress was friendly and chatty and on the way out the lady at the register made a point of waving, thanked me for coming and invited me back soon.

Italian Yum

Italian Snacks

The February box from Universal Yum was loaded with snacks from the best country shaped like footwear and like quality footwear even if it’s not your style it’s hard to say bad stuff about it. Nothing in this box fell into the “yuck” category although a couple were unusual enough to make you go hmmm.

It was hard to pick a favorite this month. Nothing really stood out far and away above the others but it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate an hazelnuts so here was the one that edged out the others.

The chocolate was good and the hazelnut chips, while not evenly distributed, managed to show up in every bite. Plus I like the packaging, no glitz just information. Interesting marketing.

Number two on the hit parade revisits the same combo.

That trapezoidal chocolate hunk in the middle is the runner up. The chocolate is silkier than the bar and the hazelnut flavor is fully saturated in the candy. As I’m writing this it occurs to me the reason this is in second place has more to do with size rather than taste. I guess it does matter.

The most unusual was a tie between a sweet and a savory.

The white chocolate bar with saffron was interesting. The white candy part was nothing special on it’s own but the saffron was a nice addition. It was subtle but obvious on first bite but the distinctiveness fell off with each additional square. After a break though the next first bite was interesting all over again.

The savory item was a lemon pepper wheat cracker sort of thing. After tasting the first one I decided this was going to be pared with some soup. In this case lentil soup. The tart lemon and spiciness of the black pepper were a perfect accompaniment to the earthy lentils. I’d not have thought about that combo in a cracker but it worked.

So my least favorite wasn’t really bad but just the back of the pack overall.

I feel like I should have liked these more but the truffle chips really just didn’t do it for me. The chips were crispy and their truffle game was strong but maybe too strong. I could taste the truffle before it even hit the tongue and it was just as strong on the last chip as it was on the first.

I have to give honorably mention to the almond crisp cookies.

After I had the first one I immediately got up and fixed a cup of coffee. Great almond taste and crispy and crunchy like nobody’s business. I don’t think I’ve a better coffee companion in quite a while.

The other items in the box were a carrot orange cake, tiramisu cake, rosemary crackers, pizza flavored corn puff rings, cappuccino chocolate ball and fizzy hard candies in lemon and orange flavor. All snack worthy.

I didn’t even crack the code for March. I figured I let it be a surprise.

Netherlands Yum


This month’s box of goodies from Universal Yums featured snacks from the Netherlands.  

There was only one item in the box I disliked and a couple of them I was meh about but I happened to start off with what turned out to be my favorite.

The Choco Stroopwafels is a delicious caramel and cookie combo wrapped in chocolaty goodness.  You can see the caramel trying to escape from the chocolate prison but the only place it went was in my belly.  Nice start to the box. 

My second favorite was a box of cookies.

These rectangular spice cookies reminded me of windmill cookies I used to buy at a bakery outlet back in the 80s.  I think you can still find them in stores.  The taste was not quite gingerbread but definitely cinnamon spiced and maybe something else.  The texture was a bit crumbly and they are topped with sliced peanuts and very light glaze.  These rivaled the stroopwafels when paired with a good strong cup of coffee.

For the most unusual I’m going to say it was the truck gummies.

These little trucks came in three different styles and colors and each one had a different flavor and texture.  The light brown ones were the least “gummy” and broke down quickly as you chewed them.  The flavor like licorice with a heavy dose of brown sugar or molasses.  The medium brown were like a combo of caramel, licorice and a hint of milk with a more gummy texture.  I know that sounds weird but they weren’t bad.  The dark trucks were the most stretchy and chewy of the lot and tasted most of licorice but also caramel mixed in. 

As odd as the trucks might sound the truly oddest also qualified for the worst of the lot.

From the bag of candies came the Napoleon Zwart-Wit in the top right of the photo.  This little nugget of nastiness was supposed to taste like licorice with a salty filling.  Now I like licorice a lot and I’ve tried some salted styles from Denmark that I quite enjoyed but even salt couldn’t save these balls of bad.  It tasted faintly of licorice with an ammonia aftertaste which was off putting to say the least.  Turns out ammonium chloride is an ingredient.  I’m game though and stuck with it until the hard shell melted enough for the salt kick in.  That did dampen the ammonia a bit but the overall taste experience was like sucking on some kind of caustic cleaning product.  These were the Waterloo of the Netherlands box.  Just in case you thought I was on the fence these were disgusting.

I did want to go ahead and mention a couple of the others because they were good or at least interesting.

The pink Cadillacs were fruit gummies that tasted pretty good but I could only sit there hearing Aretha Franklin Freeway of Love song in my head the whole time I was eating them.  They came in strawberry, cherry and black currant.

The Roka Cheddar & Raspberry cheese crispies were worth a mention two because they had some of the best cheddar taste I’ve had in a cracker.  The texture of these were like a pastry dough that had been sliced thick and back with the cheddar and the little dried raspberry bits scattered in for a surprise sweet taste every now and then.  

Overall the box was 75% good, 17% meh and 8% yucky.  That’s a win percentage I can live with.  Decembers box is going to be a holiday box with several countries represented and I’m looking forward to it.

Imbisswagen Freitag

German Food Truck

This last Food Truck Friday was one I was looking forward to even more than usual. I’d scoped out the list of trucks prior to and they had a new one in the mix, StrudelTeig.

A food truck with German food or at least German inspired food, sign me up.

As usual my first stop was the beverage tent where I procured a Catawba Brewing Co White Zombie witbeir to go with the warm evening and whatever I selected from StrudelTeig.

There was only a short line and all the options looked good but I settled on their Pretzel + Brat meal.

It was a nice choice. The bratwurst was a fine imported specimen that had a great taste. The pretzel was warm, soft and made from scratch and the sauerkraut was actually not very sauer due to it being “apple infused”. I didn’t really taste the apples but it did have a sweetness to it that I was surprised about until I reread the menu and saw the apple bit. I liked it and it paired well with the salty pretzel. Let’s talk about that pretzel. It was amazingly good.and if you notice it is a bit more rectangular than a regular pretzel and the holes are smaller. That’s because they use this for sandwiches as well including a grilled cheese that sounded pretty awesome. The obligatory mustard was a wonderful coarse ground Bavarian mustard that I dipped the brat and the pretzel in.

So while I sat enjoying my meal by the fountain a Journey cover band called Trial by Fire entertained the crowd.

They were ok but best when the music was a little louder than the vocals. I was more entertained by a group between the band and I.  I first noticed three “old ladies” really into the music.  Then it struck me the “old ladies” were actually about my age so what my mind meant was three “classic ladies”.  One really had the 80’s going and just to reinforce the whole vibe the rest of the Breakfast Club started showing up as well.  First was a dude wearing a flannel shirt with the arms torn off and long hair and a two day growth of beard channeling his inner Judd Nelson.  Next up was the jock wearing a Carolina Panthers jersey and his gothy / emo lady friend.  So in case you’re wondering they aged well after the movie and are hitting the Rock Hill food truck scene.

After being entertained for a while I decided to head back to the food truck and grab a Cherry Strusel Cake to go.  That and the interesting sodas they had caught my eye the first trip.  Turns out  first I had to deal with a significant line that wasn’t there the first time.  In a venue like this line standing is a bit of an art because you have a lot of traffic going perpendicular to the food truck lines and they need to cross somewhere.  I’m usually pretty good at line standing due to all my DragonCon experience but my mind wandered and the guy in front of me moved up and the gap between us opened a couple of centimeters and the crowd spotted the weakness in the line and surged for the opening.  It was like watching the sand in an hourglass go through the choke point.  I shifted back just a hair and hit the lady behind me who had apparently honed her sense of personal space on a Japanese subway.  Fortunately the line moved forward and during the shift I regained optimum distance to prevent line breakage.  Anyway I finally got my cake and soda.

The strusel cake was good, not too sweet and just enough cherry filling to give it a nice flavor without overwhelming the whole package.  Another thing I wanted to mention since you can see it clearly in the photo but these folks use wooden utensils.  The wooden knife did the job on the sausage but I wouldn’t want to try it on a steak but it was something I haven’t run into before and if your replacing plastic it’s not a bad way to go.

The interesting soda I selected was a Summer Pear, which was pear, green tea and honey.  I’m sure more than one of you went “Yuck!” but it was not bad at all.  The honey flavor was most prevalent and the pear was more of an undertone and the green tea seemed like an afterthought.  I could see adding some alcohol to this and calling it some fancy cocktail name.

In summary it was another enjoyable Food Truck Friday at Fountain Park.




Belgian Breakfast


Image result for belgian passport stamp

From Syria last week I continued west to Belgium and if you search Belgian food you’ll inevitably come up waffles.  So the passport went to Cast Iron Waffles in the Ballantyne, NC area for their “authentic Belgian Liege waffle”.  Now to be transparent I have had these waffles before at work for a special occasion breakfast so I had a good idea what I was in for except these would be hot of the iron.

The place is pretty easy to find as it’s right on the corner of a couple of side streets but parking is pretty scarce.  Luckily I got a place on the street right in front since it was just after 7:00am.  The outside is brick and the interior continues that design with some brick façade inside and a café appearance.  You order at the counter and they have a few tables in a seating area and they do “to go” business as well.

I went with a “naked” waffle although they did have plenty of toppings if I’d wanted some additional flavors with my breakfast.  To wash it down I opted for plain coffee rather than one of the expresso drinks they serve.

Naked in this case did include a dusting of powdered sugar, which honestly was just gratuitous sweetness.  I’m not going to do it justice but let me try.  The waffle is made from a very sweet batter that has enough sugar in it that the very hot waffle iron creates caramelly crystalized areas across the waffle.  Those spots give you an occasional sugary crunch that compliments the soft pastry like interior of the waffle.  It’s like a sweet bread but a bit denser without being heavy.

I’m definitely more of a savory breakfast person than a sweet breakfast person but one of these once in a blue moon is a treat.  Like I said there are other toppings you can get but aside from maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon I think you start getting too sweet at a certain point.  Adding syrup to these would be a travesty and now that I think about it I didn’t see a bottle of syrup in the place.

As I mentioned I just went with a standard coffee so I can’t speak to their specialty coffee drinks but the Saratoga dark roast I had was very good plain coffee. So the pre-sugar crash verdict is this was a fine Belgian breakfast that is worthy of recommending but only one or you’ll go into a sugar coma.

Be sure to check out the Tell Me More page for a recipe, the 2017 Belgium Eurovision entry and more.