Monday, December 26, 2011

Go Burger

Much like most of my Saturday nights, Go Burger is a foggy mystery. Even though the website portrays Go Burger as a reputable brand with two New York restaurants, the truck itself remains enigmatic. It’s more difficult to find than other food trucks because the location of the truck isn’t regularly disclosed over Twitter, and it doesn’t seem to stick to a set weekly schedule.

On one of the off-days that Go Burger decided to do themselves a favor and tweet their location, I tried the BLT Burger: double smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and BLT burger sauce. Like usual, I was starving from being emotionally beaten by Corporate America and I wolfed the burger down so fast I could barely remember anything about it besides the fact that I liked it and didn’t feel ill after (Five Guys burgers are usually accompanied by a 2 hour recovery period after consuming). I treated the BLT Burger like my cats treat a piece of turkey that has been accidentally dropped on the floor, and ate it so fast that I realized I had nothing to write about. The only logical conclusion was that I’d have to go back for further research another day. A sacrifice I was willing to make for the good of mankind.

Being a woman of my word, I next tried the Philly Burger: onions, peppers, pickled jalapenos (although I abstained from the jalapenos because I was not up for such a physical challenge), and melted provolone. Again, pretty good, but nothing too distinguishable. Sure I liked it, but I couldn’t really figure out much more to say about it than “yeah, it was good.” This leads me to realize that perhaps my initial encounter with the BLT Burger was not necessarily due to the fact that I wolfed the burger down like a rabid dog, but was more due to the fact that these burgers are amorphous. There is no concrete redeeming quality about them and the burgers need some sort of trademark that will really define the brand. They’re not that unique, and I’m certain you could find an equivalent option at many other bars or fast food establishments. If, for some reason, someone blindfolded me and force fed me a Go Burger (not that I’d really object to this scenario), I highly doubt I’d be able to differentiate and victoriously exclaim “By jove! That is a Go Burger!”

Eating Go Burger was kind of like making out with a stranger in a bar when you’re browned out. You know you had fun, but their face is fuzzy in your mind and you certainly cannot provide your friends with a name of the said creature. You know it happened, but there isn’t much more to say than that. Similarly, Go Burger is a good time, but if your friends started asking you to provide details, you’d probably be at a loss for words.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Schnitzel & Things

I have a confession. Before investigating the Schnitzel & Things truck further, I had no idea what a schnitzel was, besides a funny sounding word. What usually comes to mind when I hear the word schnitzel are the terms bratwurst, sauerkraut, German bar-maidens with two thick braids, and Beerfest, because these are obvious symbols of Germany. Regardless, I saw Schnitzel & Things on Food Network, which completely legitimized it. Whether I liked this mystifying schnitzel or not, if it was on Food Network, it was my duty to find something on the menu worth trying.

I opted for the Chicken Schnitzel sandwich as it seemed the least intimidating. Mild conflict arose when it came to choosing my accompanying sandwich condiment. I carefully detailed to the schnitzel lady how I was a first timer on my maiden schnitzel voyage and explained my temptation with the Chipotle Sour Cream. I inquired what more seasoned patrons usually order, and I appreciated her honesty when she warned that the Chipotle Sour Cream was probably spicier than I could handle and that the most popular choice was the Spicy Sriracha Mayo. In that instant, a small seed of trust was planted with the schnitzel lady. A comrade navigating me and my taste buds on the right path on the rocky seas of schnitzel.

I initially was against this notion that Spicy Sriracha Mayo was the appropriate choice, because my research (Wikipedia) clarified that Sriracha is of Thai descent. That is simply too much culture in one sandwich. Thai and German? Let’s not get carried away, I’m already about to eat a sandwich that I know nothing about because I am a sucker for Food Network. However, the seed of trust had been planted by the schnitzel lady (and the Yelp reviews), so I acquiesced. Much to my delight, this gem of a woman sensed my hesitation with her German superpowers and informed me she she’d throw in a Chipotle Sour Cream, just so I could try it anyway (Take notes Frying Dutchmen. Schnitzel & Things doesn’t even promote their sauces as a cornerstone of their brand, and not only did they have four available, but they gave it away for free. Schnitzel & Things 1, Frying Dutchmen 0. Ouch).

With the addition of my extra sauce, I was primed to enjoy this fantastic chicken sandwich. The chicken was perfectly cooked, with none of those unidentified crunchy or stringy lurking objects. The ones that you roll around your tongue trying to decipher whether it’s really part of the chicken, and then in a split second of shocked horror realize it is not and eject into a napkin. This prize piece of chicken was not too greasy or heavy, which is what I realistically expect when ordering a piece of meat from a vehicle. Not only could the Schnitzel & Things truck make a mean schnitzel, but they complemented it perfectly with the warm and flaky bread. The Chicken Schnitzel sandwich was really an ideal lunch, extremely tasty, not too heavy, and accompanying flavorful sauces. With regards to the sauces, the schnitzel lady was right. The Chipotle Sour Cream would have been too spicy to spread over a whole sandwich, but I did manage a handful of nice sandwich dips before my taste buds closed for business.

That being said, I was a little bummed at the whole schnitzel concept. In reality, this was just a phenomenal chicken sandwich. However, this whole schnitzel thing had me thinking I’d be experiencing a new cuisine, or new flavor of sorts. In reality, after looking up the definition of schnitzel, it really is just a breaded chicken breast, so I only have myself to blame for setting my expectations too high. Putting the exceptional quality on hold, this sandwich could have come from a variety of other food trucks or deli’s, there was nothing about it that was particularly distinguishable as being from a German-themed schnitzel truck. On the other hand, I easily could have gotten a schnitzel platter with 2 sides such as the Austrian Potato Salad, Cucumber Salad, Roasted Beet & Feta Salad, Chickpea Salad, Mesclun Salad, Braised Sauerkraut, Red Cabbage Salad, Yukon Gold French Fries, or Sweet Potato Fries. I’m fairly confident any of these sides would have contributed to the German theme I apparently felt I was missing, but I was already braving a completely unfamiliar food and didn’t have the courage to try anything even more exotic. I was my own worst enemy.

If my mild disappointment with my lack of German culture is my biggest complaint, I think that speaks for itself. Exceptionally tasty, friendly service, and you aren’t faced with the predicament of gracefully launching questionable pieces of meat out of your mouth. I’d call it a win.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Frying Dutchmen

The Frying Dutchmen is a Pommes Frites wannabe. Pommes Frites is a well greased (pun intended) machine dominating the french fry market. I give The Frying Dutchmen credit for capitalizing on the success of Pommes Frites and blatantly stealing such a successful enterprise idea and taking it mobile, but it needs some serious revamping.

I often struggled with the concept of eating only french fries for lunch. I spent many minutes that should have been used stomping around my office and power walking to and from the water cooler to amplify just how much busier I am than my colleagues, instead debating if I really could eat just a plate of fries and call it lunch. This is probably extremely surprising as my eating habits are unparalleled and display how concerned I am about health and wellness, but even I have to draw the line somewhere.

Naturally, I began to casually date the truck. I’d find excuses to walk past it and steal a secret glance at my crush. What was really going on with this mystifying creature? After courting the truck for awhile I finally saw “chicken tenders” scrawled in untidy handwriting on the menu, at which point I decided chicken fingers and fries was a socially acceptable lunch.

This brings me to my next point, which is that The Frying Dutchmen is a disgrace to social media. On their website and Facebook page it says “Our Current Location - we will be back on the street soon!” The website has said this since about April. So if you didn’t stalk them for a hobby like I did, you might think they have been under repair for months. The menu on the website also said nothing about chicken fingers. So I could have initiated my relationship with the truck and eaten there about three months earlier than I actually did, but instead I was forced to agonize over the inner turmoil of whether it was appropriate to eat a lunch consisting entirely of french fries.

While the menu on the website looks like it offers a treasure chest of sauces, the truck only had four when I went, one of which was already sold out. Weaksauce. I was sure to check in on foursquare to unlock the “Newbie Special” which allegedly grants customers one free dipping sauce. Allegedly being the operative word. I only got one dipping sauce which came with my combo, even though I made a point of proudly displaying my phone to the bro taking orders and announcing “I get a free sauce because of foursquare right, so that’s two total!” Now that I have already checked in once, I am no longer a newbie, so I am disqualified and can’t unlock this special on foursquare ever again. I’d been duped.

To unleash my dismay, I tweeted my disappointment at them, but got no response. This is foolish because I’m sure it’s no trouble to either 1. apologize 2. offer me a free sauce 3. offer me a free meal (the chance that a normal customer, and not a weirdo like me, would actually find the truck again and remember to get their free meal is probably slim). Instead I just got no response, which made me bitter and resentful as evidenced in this forum. Gorilla Cheese answered my tweet within an hour when they accidentally gave me the wrong sandwich. Just sayin’.

The bros (and I don’t use the term lightly but this really was a truck full of bros in BU t-shirts playing with deep fryers) on the truck didn’t have a system down. The charismatic front man tried to pep up his crew and fake out the crowd by urging his french fry creators onwards and upwards, but it was literally transparent as you could see the crew mosey around the back of the truck unperturbed. I think it’s safe to say the moseying crew was where the ball was dropped and the failure to pack my second sauce occurred, as ringleader bro did in fact write the names of two sauces on my bag.

As for the food itself, this was your average chicken fingers and fries meal. Certainly tasty, but I’d only go back if I happened to walk past and there was no line. The fries were a little dry and nothing special. I’ve had better at plenty of other restaurants. The Sweet and Spicy mayonnaise sauce was decent, but there certainly was not enough of it to properly coat each french fry and chicken finger, leaving my needs unsatiated. Therefore, I found myself resorting to ketchup, although this was also because they forgot my extra sauce I was promised via foursquare. Did I mention I’m bitter?

The Frying Dutchmen recently added burgers and chicken sandwiches to their menu. Good for you guys, but that really defeats the purpose of their tagline: “FRYING DUTCHMEN: the best fries you can find, with some INSANE and DELICIOUS dipping sauces!” You mean those dipping sauces you only have three of and casually forget to give your customers? Perhaps it should read “Frying Dutchmen: moderate fries with enough semi-interesting dipping sauce for half your plate of fries at which point you’ll have to move on to ketchup.”

The Frying Dutchmen is on the outside looking in. When I go to Pommes Frites, the friendly employees give me a napkin of fries and let me try each and every sauce like a hobo trying to manipulate them into a meal. These fries are of a high enough quality that they can stand alone and don’t even need sauces. Pommes Frites is the jock quarterback sitting at the coolest lunch table dating the cheerleader. The Frying Dutchmen is that chubby waterboy who didn’t make the team, but desperately wants to sit at the cool table. The quarterback is a good guy, so the football team lets the waterboy sit at the cool table because they don’t have the heart to say no. A nice effort, but The Frying Dutchmen will always be second string.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Green Pirate

Green Pirate, based in Brooklyn, is a truck selling freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. I figured it might be fun to trick myself into thinking I was healthy and consume some nutrients disguised in a pleasant tasting beverage. However, my apprehension grew when I saw some of the juices had ingredients like kale and beets, which I am not mature enough to try. After discussing with the hipster juice lady what a rookie should start with, I was steered towards a simple classic, the Green Pirate Lemonade.

The truck’s wide window allowed me to watch the juice chef select all of my fresh looking ingredients and put them into the magic juicer. I liked that I could actually see the beverage being made with real ingredients, thereby assuaging my concerns that I was being scammed with some prepackaged concoction.

Upon initially sipping the juice, I wished it was bit colder. But then it dawned on me what a lucky customer I was. While most movie theater snack bars and fast food joints hustle their patrons by filling fountain sodas with one ounce of soda and three tons of ice, Green Pirate gave more real ingredients and less filler. A breath of fresh air in this greedy society.

The Green Pirate Lemonade was delicious. The cucumber flavor really balanced out the potentially tart lemon flavor. The lemon and cucumber combined with apple, created a very unique taste that I’ve never experienced, leaving me curious to try the other exotic juices on the menu.

The Green Pirate Lemonade was actually the cheapest option at $5 and some of the others were pushing $6 and $7. I found this rather ridiculous as that is equivalent to the cost of an entire lunch. However, Naked Juice, which is the same idea, but prepackaged and loaded with sugar, goes for about $4. Most Starbucks beverages push $5, and I’d definitely pick this juice with real fruit instead of the syrups pumped into Starbucks beverages. With whimsical names like “Canteloupe Creamsicle” and “Hot Pink Limeade,” I’ll most likely be back at some point. Definitely worth a try, and if debating between Green Pirate and Kelvin Slush for a fun beverage, I’d definitely vote Green Pirate.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rickshaw Dumpling Truck

One lunch hour I was perusing the Soho food truck scene to see if anything piqued my interest. I didn’t have much time to mess around, but then I saw the Rickshaw Dumping Truck with no one in line. Jackpot! Luckily the only decision-making required of the soon to be dumpling consumer is to choose which type of dumpling they desire: Pork & Chinese Chive with soy sesame dip, Chicken & Thai Basil with spicy peanut sate dip, or Vegetarian Edamame with lemon-sansho dip. The soy sesame dip sounded most appealing, so I chose the Pork & Chinese Chive. I enjoyed the simplicity of only choosing between three kinds of dumplings and I opted to add a side salad to experience more tastes for my refined palate.

Rickshaw wins the award for most creative packaging. Opening my meal was significantly more fun than opening meals from other establishments. The dumpling box had an “eat me” sticker on it, and the soy sesame sauce had a “dip me” sticker on it. I thought this was a very nice personal touch. It dawned on me that some minimum wage employee had to put all of these stickers on the packaging in the event that my intelligence level was equivalent to Sarah Palin’s and I wasn’t sure how to correctly maneuver my food. I didn’t realize it was possible for food packaging to elicit a smile, so I must give credit where credit is due.

The dumplings were relatively average and could have been a little warmer, but overall they made for a satisfying lunch. The “salad” was some lettuce thrown in a plastic bowl with a peculiar dressing. Barely worth mentioning, except to suggest that you don’t order it.

Because the dumplings were prepackaged, it resulted in a rapid transaction time and a lack of customers in line. This is by far the quickest I have ever gotten a lunch meal from any food truck, let alone an Asian establishment. Normally my experience with Asian lunch cuisine involves at least a 30 minute to an hour wait while an Asian delivery man navigates the streets of Manhattan on his bicycle muttering “scuse me” and endangering citizens almost as much as when they’re operating a motor vehicle. Then I pray to the Lunch Gods that whoever I spoke to on the phone actually understood my order. After battling these Everest-like hurdles, I’m forced to do one of my least favorite activities, math, while straining to read whatever number was scrawled on the grease-stained order ticket to figure out how much I need to tip. These astronomical stress factors bring me to the conclusion that, in the event that you are debating between mundane options such as a sandwich or slice of pizza, the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck is definitely an easy way to switch up your lunch routine.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wafels & Dinges

The Wafels & Dinges truck gets a hefty amount of press in the food truck world and repeatedly gets great reviews (4.5 stars on Yelp out of 630 reviews). Naturally this sparked my interest, but I was struggling to find an opportunity to try it since I never saw the truck parked in my neighborhood.

One joyous evening on my way to meet my friends for happy hour, I passed the waffle truck. I was tempted to try it right then and there, but I was already late and didn’t want to ruin my impending buzz by coating my stomach with food. This resulted in me spending the majority of the happy hour fixating on the waffle truck and repeatedly saying, “I hope it’s still there when we leave,” to the annoyance of everyone forced into my company. Thankfully when I left it was still parked where I originally saw it and I exuberantly shoved my mildly tipsy self up to the truck and aggressively began rambling about how I’d been looking forward to this day and had heard lots of great things but didn’t know where to begin. To their credit, the waffle men were extremely warm and friendly to a seemingly deranged and overzealous stranger. They patiently explained the difference between the two types of waffles: the brussels waffle was light and crispy and the liege was more soft and chewy.

To be honest I wish they only had one type of waffle, because that just meant another choice I had to make in addition to choosing toppings. I’d heard talk of the signature spekuloos spread, but then there was also dulce de leche, butter, bananas, strawberries, walnuts, belgian chocolate fudge, nutella, maple syrup, and whipped cream. In the end, I decided to heed the wise words of King Curtis, and realized, “bacon, is good for me.” I ordered myself a brussels waffle with bacon and then proceeded to pace in circles like a caged zoo animal while I waited for my made-to-order waffle.

Shortly after, the waffle men slid my golden-brown companion into its cardboard tray, or waffle Snuggie as I like to think of it. They called my name and I proudly pushed my way up to the window, much to the jealousy of the other customers. One of the more embarrassing moments of my life occurred when I saw my waffle for the first time. I did not see any thick strips of juicy bacon on top of, or next to my waffle. My confusion must have been evident as the jolly waffle man reassured me that the bacon was, in fact, baked into the batter. I’m not sure what expression one gives off when showing severe dismay due to a lack of bacon, but I was apparently transparent. The waffle man was simply too genuine to play cruel mind games with me, so I placed all of my trust in him that the bacon was present, seized my waffle in its Snuggie, and strolled off towards the subway with my new prize.

This waffle was above average, but not quite as amazing and life-changing as Yelp and Twitter had me believing. Definitely a good waffle, but not anything too different than I’ve had in most diners. However, I don’t consider myself to be any kind of waffle expert so perhaps I haven’t developed strong enough analytical skills when it comes to waffles. The bacon baked into the batter was a nice touch, but I love bacon almost as much as King Curtis loves chicken nuggets, so I would have appreciated larger bacon bits. They were a bit hard to taste since they were so small, so it mostly just tasted like a salty waffle.

The strength of Wafels & Dinges is the fact that it quickly provides waffles from a mobile location. If I wanted a decent waffle with tasty toppings, my first instinct would be to assume I’d have to sit down at a crowded diner and wait around for the server to bring me my waffle. Wafels & Dinges takes out the middle-man and the waiting game and cuts to the chase. Additionally, they provide a wide variety of toppings that aren’t available in diners. While I haven’t had the spekuloos spread myself, it receives high praise - enough so that Wafels & Dinges sells it in individual jars for retail. Most diners provide fruit and ice cream toppings, but Wafels &d Dinges provides all of these and more, even pulled pork.

And even though I said this waffle wasn’t life-changing, I did in fact go back for a second mini wafellini with strawberries and Nutella a few weeks later. Wafels & Dinges isn’t something I’d necessarily go out of my way to hunt down, but I surprised myself and inadvertently proved that I would succumb to the power of Wafels & Dinges in the event that I walk past it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck had been high on my to-do list for quite some time. Besides the intriguing name, I was curious to see why this ice cream truck had such a solid reputation when there are ice cream trucks all over Manhattan. Luckily Groupon had an offer of $5 for $10-worth of ice cream, which my inner-jew couldn’t resist. This sent Big Gay Ice Cream truck to the top of my priority list to make sure I used the Groupon before it expired (I shudder to think of expired coupons). One hot summer’s eve I made the commitment and ventured to Union Square to try it out with one of my extremely good looking friends.

For once I was decisive and knew I must try the Salty Pimp first. Not only did the name make me giggle, but the flavors tempted me the way HGH tempts guidos. The Salty Pimp consists of vanilla soft-serve ice cream, dulce de leche drizzles, and sea salt, all dipped in chocolate. Try as I might to resist eating my cone before we sat down, I am only human. My lack of self-control, combined with the heat, proved to be a fatal mistake. The salty chocolate flavor was wonderful, and unlike any ice cream cone I’d had before. However, after one bite, you really need to put your game-face on and consume the rest of the cone as fast as possible because it started melting faster than Britney Spear’s marriage to Jason Alexander. As each piece of the scrumptious chocolate shell broke and fell onto the table, my heart broke with it. So much joy, and yet so much pain. If you ever try this (and you should) I’d recommend a training-wheels approach. Learn from my mistakes, and put that sucker in a bowl. Regardless of the melting situation, the cone itself was really unique and delicious. My taste buds were almost confused. Salt? On an ice cream cone? But it worked. Big time. While the actual ice cream was pretty standard and had nothing distinguishable about it, the combination of sea salt, chocolate, and dulce de leche far overshadowed this. Once my taste buds adjusted they only wanted more. They begged me to pick the chocolate pieces off of the table, but as I like to pretend that I have a certain level of class (not really) I refrained. I wistfully stared at the fallen soldiers. If picking chocolate shell pieces off of a public table in Union Square is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

After I carried on about how great the Salty Pimp was, my other extremely good looking friend decided she wanted to see what the fuss was about too. I’m not one to turn down excuses for ice cream, so being the selfless humanitarian that I am, I graciously volunteered to go back to the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. A brilliant opportunity to try a new flavor. This time I opted for the Bea Arthur - vanilla soft-serve, dulce de leche, dipped in Nilla Wafer crumbs. This cone wasn’t quite as good as the Salty Pimp, but I think that’s only because I am more passionate about chocolate. It was a little lighter and a little less intense. One key engineering aspect that the Bea Arthur had going for it was the lack of chocolate shell. The Nilla Wafers allowed the ice cream to maintain its majestic swirl structure, even in extensive heat. So while I love the chocolate taste, if you’re trying to do yourself a favor and not look like a swamp monster covered in chocolate, try out the Bea Arthur.

After these two cones I’m convinced you can’t go wrong here. I’m eagerly awaiting the opening of the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village, which will feature more flavors and the Choinkwich, an ice cream sandwich with caramelized bacon ( Pure brilliance.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cupcake Stop: Including a Detailed Comparison to Crumbs

Upon initially hearing of the CupcakeStop truck, I thought to myself, “Good try, but I have Crumbs, cya never.” I have always been beyond satisfied with each experience I’ve had at Crumbs, so what could possibly convince me to break my ties of loyalty to something I value and treasure so much? Something that I hold on the highest pedestal and will drive 20 minutes one way to obtain?

Well, the answer was simple: location. One Friday afternoon I was strolling back to the office when I spotted the truck. Of course I’d heard of it, as I like to consider myself a knowledgeable and well-informed cupcake connoisseur. It was late in the day, I was fading quickly and needed an afternoon pick-me-up. The price was right - $2.50 per cupcake (that’s equivalent to the price of one subway ride. I don’t know about you but I’d rather be stranded and with a cupcake instead of being where I’m supposed to be and without a cupcake). I had an in-depth conversation with the lady who was lucky to have a job which entails sitting in van full of cupcakes about which cupcake a person on their maiden voyage should try. She sold me hard on red velvet, but obviously I’d already consumed a red velvet from Crumbs earlier in the week, so I went for plan B and selected an Oreo Crumb. I exerted all of my willpower and waited until I got back to my office while I mentally prepared for what lay ahead on my cupcake journey.

Fret not my loyal readers - the cupcake was fantastic. The cake achieved that ever-challenging balance between moist and dry (dry = that Baked by Melissa garbage) while being topped with a truly unique frosting, that was more sugary and sweeter than a cream-cheese based frosting. The perfectly textured cake combined with the silky, melt-in-your-mouth frosting blended together to form an unforgettable bite of dessert. The success of the balance of cake and frosting can be attributed to the perfect size of the cupcake. Often, I find myself facing a challenge when eating the larger, gourmet cupcakes. I end up alternating between bites of cake and frosting as the cupcake is too tall for my jaw. The CupcakeStop chef has conquered this first-world problem by baking his cupcakes into an ideal size. They are just large enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and your hunger, without being so large that the consumer overeats. On the other hand, they are big enough that they don’t blueball you into wanting more, like that sneaky betch Baked by Melissa (not that I’d ever want more of such nonsense). The simplicity of this dessert is what really sets these cupcakes apart. Often I find that cakes try to hide behind their poor excuse for dessert through gimmicks like fancy frosting (see Dean and Deluca). CupcakeStop needs no fancy frosting or other disguises because they are selling a quality product.

Since my original Oreo Crumb purchase, I have obviously been back for more. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Oreo Crumb: Vanilla cake with oreo frosting. Great for someone like me who wants the oreo flavor but isn’t a big fan of chocolate cake.
  • Chocolate Mint: The mint was a little strong, I would have preferred a sweeter mint frosting. However, the contrast of the sweetness of the cake evened this out, so I’d say it’s solid provided your bite ratio to is proper.
  • Chocolate Caramel: Almost the opposite of the Mint Chocolate. The caramel frosting was very sweet, and with a proper bite of cake it was perfect.
  • Cannoli: Amazing. Best, as well as most unique. Vanilla cake with chocolate chips baked in, with a ricotta cheese frosting (like the filling inside a cannoli, duh). Beautiful.
  • Vanilla Chocolate: A classic, done right.

After it really sunk in how much I enjoyed the original cupcake, I began to feel extremely guilty. I felt like I had cheated on my lover Crumbs. Crumbs has been there for me through good times and bad, celebrations and hangovers. It felt like my identity was crumbling (pun intended). And then I realized, Crumbs didn’t open a Soho location, but CupcakeStop is consistently parked on the corner of Varick and Vandam. Who am I to say no to a midday dessert? Sorry I’m not sorry.

So, I’m sure you are all wondering what the differences between these cupcake masterpieces might be. As previously mentioned, the size difference greatly affects the entire cupcake experience. Because CupcakeStop cupcakes are smaller, the ratio of frosting to cake is perfected. With Crumbs, I sometimes face the aforementioned cake/frosting alternation process. On the other hand, I’ve found CupcakeStop cupcakes to be less travel-ready than Crumbs. I recently purchased a Vanilla Chocolate cupcake when I passed the truck as a snack for myself during an evening showing of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2. The wear and tear of being tossed around my bag was entirely too much for the poor fellow, and the frosting slid right off, thus throwing off the cake to frosting ratio. A bit disappointing, but a valuable lesson learned. Crumbs cupcakes, however, have this magical protective shell on the frosting that keeps it intact through all kinds of terrain, including 4 hour drives to Virginia. However, this elusive shell layer does nothing to detract from the the taste or flavor of the cupcake. It simply provides for a less messy, neater eating experience. I like to think of this invisible shield as being similar to how Harry is protected from Voldemort through the shield of his mother’s love. We can’t see Lily Potters love, but we sure can see the results in a duel. A third key difference between these cakes is price. Cupcake Stop is $2.50 per cupcake, which I find rather reasonable. Crumbs is $4.50 per cupcake. While the cupcake is also much bigger, I have a harder time digesting paying $4.50 for a snack. In my mind, CupcakeStop is a reasonable snack, while Crumbs is a luxury treat. Perhaps that is the intended message of their respective marketing departments. A final key difference, which coincides with my reasonable snack/luxury treat conclusion, is the amount of variety. Crumbs consistently has a treasure chest of unique and magical flavors that I can barely wrap my dessert-fantasized brain around. CupcakeStop sticks to the classics, most likely due to lack of space on a truck (although according to the website the store has many more options).

What do all of these differences mean to the average connoisseur reading this extremely witty and well-written blog? The cupcake you purchase depends on the situation. If you need an aesthetically pleasing and tasty gourmet gift for someone I’d recommend Crumbs. If you are walking back to your office trying to find any way to salvage the torture that is the rest of your afternoon of doing an 18-tab spreadsheet, I’d recommend CupcakeStop. But either way you can’t go wrong (unless you go to Dean and Deluca).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kimchi Taco Truck

My next lunch adventure took me to the Kimchi Taco Truck. I was rather skeptical about the idea of Korean and barbecue mixed together as I tend to think of Barbecue as a strictly American food genre. However, I saw the tweet announcing the truck would be in my neighborhood and my curiosity was piqued. I carefully researched the Yelp reviews, which convinced me enough to try this unlikely combination and when I arrived at the truck, the lengthy line confirmed this was worth a shot.

While the line was long, the service was good and the naive Korean taco-serving man apologized to me for the wait. I appreciated this, but little did he know that the longer the line, the longer I was spared from my estrogen-filled office.

My menu research had me somewhat torn between a “Kim-Cheesesteak” or the tacos. While I am very passionate about cheesesteaks, I realized it was probably in my best interest to try the trucks namesake. Furthermore, I realized if I got the tacos I could try each of the meats, Korean BBQ beef, seared pork, and pulled chicken (3 tacos for $7). Depending on how these meats satisfied me, I could get the Kim-Cheesesteak on a future visit with whichever meat excited me most.

It turned out the Yelp reviews were right. While sounding rather odd, the Korean Barbecue concept was quite delightful. I can confidently say it was unlike any other taco I’ve consumed before and I’ve consumed many tacos. When I initially opened my box and saw my 3 tacos staring back at me begging to be eaten, I was a little disappointed at the size as they were rather small. However, it turned out that this was actually a great serving size and to my advantage. For once I didn’t find myself secretly strategizing ways to possibly nap in the stairwell or storage room with the AC Unit because I felt too full and sick from overeating.

The tacos themselves were pretty messy, but I enjoyed the exotic flavoring. They were a bit spicy, but in a sweeter way than Mexican tacos. However, I ran into one gigantic problem. I wolfed down the first taco, then consumed a bite of each of the remaining two. Tragedy struck when I realized I had no idea which taco was which, and which meat was which. One taco was definitely the surefire winner and I am tempted to say it was the Korean BBQ beef. The other two were definitely good, but not as good as the maybe-BBQ beef. While I realize it’s absurd, part of me wished the tacos came with labels so I could properly evaluate my meats. My master plan of trying each meat and then getting a Kim-cheesesteak with the winningest meat was foiled! Perhaps it is all part of the Kimchi Taco Truck’s business strategy to lure me back...which they probably will. But only after I try Korilla BBQ and determine who is the master of Korean Barbecue!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kelvin Slush Truck

Since it was a Saturday afternoon, I was feeling a bit dehydrated for obvious reasons. A nice beverage would have really hit the spot and given me the strength I needed to bring my A-game to the Trader Joe’s endeavor I was about to embark on. I began to crave a Slurpee from 7/11, which I firmly believe are one of the most underrated products in the market. So refreshing, and so cheap, that I never once have felt guilty purchasing one (and usually I feel a degree of guilt with most leisure purchases thanks to my ridiculously frugal father).

As I emerged from the the subway, the Kelvin Slush Truck was beckoning towards me like a gorilla juice-head to Snooki. It was like captain Kelvin read my mind that I’d be too dehydrated to function at Trader Joe’s and in need of a nice beverage. I’d heard many positive things about the Kelvin Slush Truck (4.5 stars on Yelp!) so I gave it a go.

Luckily on the menu board I saw the special was the Arnold Palmer, which certainly appealed to me as I have a soft spot for Firefly and Lemonade, and I was able to decide on my flavor without too much internal struggle and anxiety. I got a medium (the small looked like it was fit for Victoria Beckham) for about $4.

All I can really say about this is “meh.” I didn’t find myself inhaling this Slush the way I might a Coke Slurpee from 7/11. It had this rather odd aftertaste, I think from the tea flavor, that I just wasn’t feeling. In fact, the Slush lasted me the entirety of the time I was in Trader Joe’s, because frankly I just wasn’t that into it (which as you might be able to tell is very odd for me when it comes to food). I found myself finishing it off more because I paid $4 for it and felt compelled to, than because I actually wanted to. Perhaps other flavors are better, but I’d much rather pay $1 and change for an artificial sugar-filled Slurpee from 7/11 where I can drink the whole top part, wander around the store, and then refill it again, than some “all-natural” overpriced concoction.

Only about a month til Free Slurpee Day at 7/11. See you there.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eddie's Pizza Truck

After my success at the Gorilla Cheese truck, I was eager to see what else the newly discovered world of food trucks had to offer me. After poking around Twitter, I was pleased to learn Eddie’s Pizza Truck would be parked in my vicinity the next day. I did some research on Yelp, and read some rather questionable reviews. In the back of my mind I thought, “It’s only pizza, how bad can they really screw this up?” After all, this is New York, so maybe the reviewers were just very particular about their pizza.

Friday morning arrived, and I purposely took the long way to work to do some preliminary investigating. Sure enough, Eddie’s Pizza Truck was parked exactly where Twitter promised me it would be. I spent more of my morning than is normal to admit polling friends on Gchat and internally debating whether I should give it a try. Finally, my curiosity was victorious and I told myself I might as well give it a go, at the very least to squelch any future time wasting on Gchat. As they say, knowledge is power, and I needed the knowledge of whether or not this pizza was something my taste buds would thank me for.

The first setback arose when I was tempted by the advertised special. I tried to place my order, but the gentleman in the truck, while extremely pleasant, informed me they were out of basil, so I could not get the special. Regardless of the fact that basil seems like a strange ingredient to be out of (it’s not particularly space consuming), you’d think they’d at least erase the special from the dry-erase board, to prevent future customers like me from having their hopes crushed. It seemed as though Eddie’s Pizza Truck could use a lesson from my old cross country coach. He was a strong advocate of reminding us of the 5 P’s: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Perhaps Eddie’s should bring more ingredients for something they are advertising as a special.

After my initial disappointment, I settled for a plain pie with garlic. I figured that I should just go with the basics, because if they can’t get that right, then what can they get right? Moving along, my pizza was made relatively quickly, I re-entered my dungeon office, situated myself, and opened the box to see what awaited me. The Yelp reviews did not lie. This was VERY thin-crust pizza. One review I’d read compared it to a tortilla, and I would have to agree. The overall quality was mediocre at best. Sadly, there was nothing particularly distinguishable to note about this pizza. It wasn’t bad…but it wasn’t good either. Certainly edible, but nothing I’m jumping up and down to try again.

While the product was sub-par, I will give Eddie’s Pizza Truck credit for innovation and creativity. I do think the concept of personal pizzas freshly prepared and made to each customer’s order is worth some recognition. The idea is there, just not the product to back it up. Additionally, it was significantly less greasy than a regular slice. For once, I didn’t feel the need to lie down and let the pools of grease and globs of cheese rearrange themselves into various pockets of my stomach as I do after most other types of pizza.

That being said, I’m perplexed as to how these guys stay in business. This is a pizza truck in New York! They charged me $8 for a rather mundane version of pizza with no noteworthy aspects, and yet there are amazingly delicious pizza slices to be had for $2 or $3 on nearly every corner! While my curiosity is now satisfied, I think I’ll be sticking to the comfort of grease dripping down my hand and Italian men calling me “Mi amore,” (I’m talking about you, Ben’s Pizza), as opposed to a lack of basil and stomachaches. I learned my lesson: stomachaches are equivalent to quality.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gorilla Cheese

My first food truck experience occurred on my walk to work one morning. Still half asleep, I was on autopilot walking from the subway to my office, when a brightly painted orange truck drove past and caught my eye. Much like when Pauly D made fun of J-Woww’s ex Tom for sending her flowers after she blatantly cheated on him and dropped this pearl of wisdom “He’s a sucker,” I was similarly a sucker to this glowing orange vehicle. I made note of the name and googled it while pretending to be productive at my desk. The Gorilla Cheese truck menu was much to my liking, and after checking the Twitter @gcny1, I realized it was parked on Broadway and Spring near my office. The stars were aligned, I was destined to try it.

After patiently waiting to escape my hamster wheel cubicle, I finally found my escape route and began my journey towards grilled cheese delight. Lucky for me it was raining so there was no line. I ordered the Smoked Gouda w/BBQ pulled pork & onions on wheat and tater tots. To my dismay they had turned off the fryer already (poor business if you ask me, which I think you are since you’re taking the time to read this), so I could not get my desired tots. I settled with my sandwich and plowed past all the rich people strolling into rich people stores on Spring to get back to my desk so I could embrace my sandwich. I gleefully unwrapped my sandwich to see what treasures awaited my consumption. I was so hungry I wolfed down the entire first half while barely tasting it. Once my caveman needs were met I really sat back and enjoyed the second half. I didn’t want it to end. Each bite meant less sandwich. A real win-lose situation. The sweetness and juiciness of the pulled pork, combined with melted gouda and caramelized onions was a divine creation, and my first reaction was to check the site to see when then truck would be back again.

After reflecting upon my Gorilla Cheese experience I would definitely say its overpriced. Let’s be real - it’s grilled cheese. The “Classic” sandwiches (no toppings) range from $4.75 to $6.25. C’mon, you can get an entire burger from Shake Shack or Five Guys for that price. While I understand my sandwich was a bit more gourmet, $8.50 still felt like entirely too much. These guys don’t even pay rent! And yet, if the truck comes to my area again would I feel similar feelings of excitement and mostly likely purchase a sandwich? Yes.

rred on my walk to work one morning. Still half asleep, I was on autopilot walking from th