Feasting at the Fountain

Food Truck Friday

Yestereve was my first Food Truck Friday of the year and aside from being 91 degrees at 6:00pm it was a good evening for dining al fresco next to the fountain.

I’d previously scoped out the lineup of food trucks and knew which one I was going to hit so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time roaming and reading menus.  But first things first I had to acquire a beverage from the adult beverage selection.  Being so hot I decided a cider would be better than a beer although the lady in front of me was singing the praises of the shandy she got.  In this case I got a Blake’s Hard Cider El Chavo.  Now to be honest I didn’t really pay attention to the graphics on the sign that showed one of the letters on fire and when the guy nodded smiled and said “It has little kick to it” I thought he meant the alcohol content.  Nope.  He meant the habaneros in this clearly labeled (and totally ignored by me) cider infused with habaneros & mangos.  He was correct it did have a little kick.  I didn’t taste any mango there was however some heat from the habaneros but it was a light sweet cider so I didn’t break down whining about a mouth on fire.

Now that I had my drink I went in search of the Chennai Curries food truck to see what Indian dishes they would be serving up on their first FTF.

I was fairly early and almost none of the trucks had much of a line but these folks had no one in line or waiting on food so that was not a great first impression.  I had geared myself up for Indian though so I was at least going to check them out.  One couple got their just ahead of me and the man told the young Indian lady running the window he had never had Indian before and wanted to try something new and she was very welcoming and answered his questions and made suggestions.  She also said “The owners are cooking the food so of course it is delicious”.  I’m not sure if she thought ownership conveyed cooking skill or she meant since they were in the truck and couldn’t get away they had to be good but either way her confidence was inspiring.

When my turn came she treated me the same way except I knew what I wanted from the get go so she didn’t have to make recommendations.  They had a couple of vegetarian options and three non-veg options and unsurprisingly I chose a non-veg option, going with the chicken biryani.

This was the fastest food truck I’ve ever purchased from aside from a cupcake van.  I’d no sooner finished giving my order than they were passing the guy in front of me his order.  Most fast food places aren’t as quick as these folks were.  That certainly explained why there was no line.   I got my plate and wandered over to sit on the wall by the fountain hoping for some wind born mist as I dined.

I’ll start by saying this was not the same as Hyderabadi biryani I had in India but it was tasty.  The chicken leg was fall off the bone tender and had been simmered in a mildly spicy curry.  The chicken gravy was spicy and so was the rice so between all the spiciness in the food plus my pepper laced cider my tongue was fully woke and able to taste and feel every single atom passing across it.  As I mentioned earlier it was 90 degrees out and I was sitting on concrete eating spicy food so there’s a chance I was sweating.  It was delicious and the thin yogurt sauce you got with it provided some cooling action so I poured that on half the rice and had the spicy gravy on the other half.  I could go back and forth so I didn’t melt right away.  One thing that seemed to be missing was some naan or roti to complete the Indian experience but there was plenty of feed as it was and there are no complaints about portions from me.

After the meal I needed a beverage that was not spiked with capsicum and selected a Windy Hill Orchard  Gala Peach cider which was a known quantity for me.  Nice cider with a hint of peach and just the thing to while away the time while waiting for the Chairmen of the Board to start playing.

By the time they started I had finished the peach cider and I was sitting across from the Italian ice booth and kept seeing all these people walking by with the cool refreshing treats so I broke down and got some pineapple Italian ice.

It was indeed cool and refreshing and just the thing to occupy oneself with while people watching and listening to a pretty good rendition of Superstition.  The funniest thing I saw was a guy walking past the fountain with his hand covering the top of his beer.  I thought, that’s weird is he afraid a stray drop of water is going to get in his beer and dilute it past drinkability or what?  No that would just be crazy.  Turns out that was apparently it because as soon as he got past the fountain he removed his hand from the top of the beer.  People are weird.

Anyway another great night of Food Truck Friday.  Next month it’s on the 20th.  Come on down.

Say Cheese!

Pimento Cheese Festival

This weekend I happened to be near my sister who lives in Cary, NC and the town of Cary was hosting the Pimento Cheese Festival with lots of food trucks, local brews & music so how could I not go.  My sister joined me and we spent a warm spring afternoon perusing the offerings and sweating a little bit.

They had two or three blocks of a street cordoned off with food & beverage trucks and tents lining one side and seating interspersed as well as a couple of “beer gardens” that were clusters of tables near the alcohol sources.  Our plan coming in was to walk the length and see what was available and then pick a favorite.  Each of the food vendors was supposed to have at least one selection for the event that included pimento cheese.  Not a surprising requirement.

Almost immediately we upon arrival we heard some rumbling about the trucks being out of the pimento cheese options and we saw that confirmed with more than one erased / scratched out / covered up menu entry as we strolled the truck line.  There were a number of good sounding choices and while we didn’t choose either of these I snapped pics because one was a cool little Airstream looking trailer that was a bakery / cafe vendor and the other because, well BACON!  If the line for that truck hadn’t been so long it would have been a lock.

When we got to the end we decided a beverage would make line standing and waiting more palatable.  Our choice was really local being a Cary business, Fortnight Brewing and I like supporting local businesses even when it’s not my locality.  They’d sold out of their amber ale and I was in no mood for yet another IPA.  The one with kambucha sounded just too weird so the Off With Her Red, raspberry sour ale got the nod.

It was a good choice for the warm day being light, berry flavored and smooth in spite of the sour moniker.  We got to see the band warming up and met several dogs and their humans as we waited in line.

After securing the beverages we walked back to the truck of choice which was Baguettaboutit.  A truck that served locally sourced sausages in fresh baked baguettes.   The pimento cheese plan to a hit right from the outset as they came out and covered up two selections just as we got in line and of course one was the requisite PC option.  We decided to stay anyway in part because it reminded us of the hot dogs we got at school in Switzerland that were served in a baguette.  Nostalgia can be a powerful motivator.

One thing I thought was a nice touch and different from all the other trucks I’ve visited over the last few years is that instead of getting your name and yelling it out when your selection was ready they handed out playing cards with some advertising, a card number and suit and that’s what they called out when your food was ready.  I thought it was clever.

I got the U Betcha, which was a bratwurst with coarse ground beer garden mustard shoved in that baguette and Lynn got the It’s Greek Tu Me which was a chicken spinach sausage with tzatziki sauce.  Interestingly both sausages had some unadvertised spiciness as well which was fine with me but my sister didn’t enjoy it quite as much and didn’t finish her sausage.  So I can tell you definitively that both were good since there were not going to be any abandoned sausages on my watch.  Oh and the baguettes were absolutely great.

So while all I saw of actual pimento cheese was one guy guarding a sandwich like it was his “precious” and a pimento cheese roll from the Filipino truck on the ground that someone either dropped or abandoned, overall it was a nice meal.  Like several recent meals, made better by the company of family.  I don’t know if this is a regular annual event but if it is I’d recommend it for a drive for a delicious diversion.


Filipino Yum


So I canceled one of my monthly nerd boxes a few months ago and last month I saw an ad for a different kind of subscription box that fit nicely with the theme of this blog.  The Universal Yums subscription box is a monthly box of snacks from a different country each month.

There are 3 different box sizes; 6+, 12+, & 20+ snacks.  I went with the Yum Yum box (12) items as that seemed like a good number to get a decent sample size and 20 seemed like too much.  The May box was my first and the country was the Philippines.

Flipping over the cover sheet as directed I found a ballot to vote for a favorite item, runner up, worst yum and most unusual plus the first of the activities, match the neighboring countries, solve a secret code with answers from the booklet included and a guess next months country.

Under this was the booklet mentioned above.  The booklet tells you more about the country, includes more activities, provides a link to a curated list of music from the country as well as a description of each of the snacks included and finally the answers to activities on the cover card.

After flipping through the book it was time to have a look at the included snacks (see the restraint I showed by looking at words and not food first).  Here’s a snap of the haul.

There were indeed 12 different snack items and I don’t want to take you through each one because that would be wordier than my common blog entry.  What I decided to do for the boxes is follow the ballot model and give details about my two favorites plus the most unusual and the one I liked the least.  This month I realized I didn’t take photos of the individual snack items which I’ll do going forward to provide a visual to go with the narrative.  Here are the snacks laid out in their original packaging though.

In general let me say the box had a good blend of sweet & savory snacks and most of the savory ones were crispy and / or crunchy.  Some were similar to mainstream snacks we have in the US but other decidedly not.  Here is a rundown of the 4 I chose for the ballot.

Favorite – Pinipig polvoron, a crisped sticky rice short bread cookie. It had a bit of dairy flavor and an interesting texture.  It was a nice solid cookie when removed from the package but as soon as I bit it the piece in my mouth lost all cohesion and turned into a silky powder with lumps of the crispy rice surfing through to be crunched between teeth.  It was an odd but pleasant textural touch. It was sweet but not overly so and in spite of the simpleness of it I liked this one a lot.

Runner up – Potato Fries Ketchup Flavor.  I was surprised at this coming in as #2 since ketchup is like my #3 condiment.  These were french fry shaped potato products that was light and had a snappy crunch along with a real, albeit slight, potato taste. And as much as I’m not a fan of tomato barbecue powder flavors this ketchup flavor was really good. It had a distinctive tomato taste with sweetness and a little tang you expect from ketchup.

Worst – Mr Mais chewy candy.  This little nugget was perhaps the closest to gag inducing of anything in the box, including the box. The candy is “chewy sweet corn” with a “butter” filling. Wow, it tasted like semi hardened corn syrup and then when chewed the artificial butter flavor spilled out like some noxious leak from a barrel of rancid butter wannabe.  It wasn’t tasty is what I’m saying.

Most Unusual – Mr Keso, another of the chewy candies.  I actually expected this one to be the nastiest of the lot but surprisingly it was not as you know from the previous award winner. The chewy outer had a mild sweet cheese flavor that wasn’t too bad and then the liquid hits with a much stronger cheesy flavor. Now this was not a real natural cheese flavor but more like a liquid version of the cheese “sauce” from boxed mac & cheese. Not exactly something I’m itching to try again but not the worst.  Oh and notice what they did with the names of the chewy candies?

I did get introduced to two new flavors, pandan & ube which added color as well, green & purple respectively.  In the snacks their flavors were much more subtle than the artificial colors that accompanied them so I truly don’t know if I could pick them out if I tasted them again.  For the interested pandan is a green plant that is apparently popular in southeast Asian circles and ube is a purple yam.

Overall the box was a fun, filling, educational romp through another culture’s snacks and I can’t wait until June’s box of Brazilian (I cracked that coded hint) snacks arrives.