Tagged: food trucks

Stoked for pies that r round

One of the small upsides to a torrential rain at lunchtime is that there’s nearly zero line at the food trucks. Finding myself at Dewey square in the company of old favorites Bon Me and Mei Mei, I opted for the as yet untried (by me) Stoked Wood Fired Pizza truck. How do they get a wood fired oven in a truck and how do they get a permit for something that sounds, even on a rainy day, like a recipe for a dramatic and garlic-infused explosion? I have no idea, but I ordered the mushroom pizza anyway.

Mushroom pizza from Stoked
Made on the spot, the mushroom pie includes mozzarella, pecorino romano, seasoned mushrooms, roasted garlic, and truffle oil. (listed as “optional,” but why would one opt out of truffle oil??) Also present but not mentioned, caramelized onions. It took a few minutes to prepare and cook, but even after a five minute slog back to the office, it was still hot and crispy.

They should call this the umami pizza. From the pecorino to the mushrooms and truffle and garlic it was full of salty (not a pejorative in my book) savory umami-y goodness. And while the char on the bottom might put some off, I found the smoky note comforting on a cold day.

A hungry person could easily eat an entire thin crust pie from Stoked, and I recommend doing so at your earliest convenience. After all, even with a wood-burning oven on board, this truck will probably go into hibernation with the others sometime in November.

 

Shooting at the walls of hunger, biang biang the Mei Mei dinner

About a year ago I was standing inside 506 Park Drive trying not to get plaster dust on my clothes while Margaret, Irene and Andy described the restaurant they were going to open. I knew the truck well and loved it, but could they really make it serving sit-down dinner with $15-20 entrees, here, on a side street in Audubon Circle next to an empty storefront and across the street from some BU dorms? Well, I’m not privy to the financials, but my stomach says yes.

I dropped by on a Saturday night with Professor M and the place was just filling up. By the time we left, there was a handful of people waiting to be seated. The professor had the roasted mushrooms (caramelized parsnip, house malt vinegar, toasted almonds, arugula, herbs) and I had the Biang Biang Cacio e Pepe (hand pulled noodles, chili oil, green garlic, black and sichuan peppercorns, Consider Bardwell Manchester (cheese), house guanciale, and miner’s lettuce), pictured below.

Biang Biang Cacio e Pepe, at Mei Mei Street Kitchen

This dish brings together all that’s great about Mei Mei: playful creativity that partially hides some serious depth of knowledge of global food, local ingredients, and excellent execution. Biang Biang noodles (such as those featured at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe) are a classic in Chinese cooking, and Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper pasta) is a pillar of Roman cooking as one might find at Cinquecento. Mei Mei casually fuses them and does it with house guanciale (that’s pig jowl, folks), local cheese and miner’s lettuce. It all seems totally natural and would be entirely at home on a white table cloth.

The noodles were, as Biang Biang should be, chewy, with lots of peppery flavor working nicely with the cheese. The guanciale was shaved like parmesan, almost transparent and melty like lardo, and the miner’s lettuce (see what wonders you get when you buy locally?) added a bright note and looked a bit like the lily pads on the chalkboard mural on the wall.

I’m still bummed out by the lack of liquor license and the not entirely convenient location, but the food and the friendly service make it an experience I’ll seek out again.

Lunch at the solar breakfast truck

There’s just enough uncertainty in the food truck world that catching sight of the telltale profile of your favorite truck as you round the corner can still be a rush. Green Bean Mobile Cafe has an unusual profile because there are solar panels on top of the truck, in this case optimistically yet pointlessly tilted toward the grey sky of a City Hall Plaza spring day.

Green Bean Mobile Cafe Breakfast Menu Green Bean Mobile Cafe Lunch Menu

Breakfast – served all day – is the focus of Green Bean, but they also have some nice pressed panini on the lunch menu. Despite the presence of a waffle sandwich (!) I chose the turkey bacon panini, and took the cucumber salad side rather than the chips.

Turkey bacon cheddar tomato panini with cucumber salad, from Green Bean Mobile Cafe

This is a high-functioning sandwich. Perfectly griddled bread with a nice ribbed texture. Bacon, not too thick or overwhelming, cheddar cheese sharp enough, thin sliced tomato that didn’t try to escape, and BBQ aioli throwing in some creamy smoky stuff, too. What about the turkey? What a about it, it’s turkey, not much to say except that it didn’t get in the way and wasn’t too dry. All in all a harmonious bundle. I usually decline mayo or aioli, but this time I’m glad I forget to ask for it with without. What with the bacon and cheese and aioli on buttered bread, you’d have to have some kind of death wish to add chips, so I recommend the cucumber salad as a nice change of pace, palate-cleansing and touched with dill.

It’s a shame Green Bean doesn’t do breakfast (hello, Nutella bacon waffle!)  at City Hall. In fact, I don’t think any truck has done the breakfast shift there since Clover a year or two ago. I’ll have to make an early morning field trip to an earlier-rising truck zone.

Three siblings, one truck, double awesome, local eggs

My tour of Boston City Hall food trucks is winding down. It looks like I won’t catch them all in April as I’d planned but it was great to catch up with the estimable Mei Mei team this week and finally sample their signature sandwich, the Double Awesome.

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I don’t know if Mei Mei invented the scallion pancake sandwich, but I’m glad it’s here. The Double Awesome is filled with sharp Vermont cheddar, pesto, and two slow poached then fried eggs. I don’t usually dig on poached eggs or eggs in non-breakfast sandwiches, but this next sign meant I just had to go there.

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Yes, these eggs were from happy vegetarian Rhode Island chickens from a family farm. And if you’re feeling a little edgy about eating poached eggs, these are the sorts of eggs you should be seeking out. Most of Mei Mei’s ingredients are locally sourced (where practical, it’s not 100%), but this little chalkboard made the point and connected it to that day’s menu. I couldn’t not get the eggy double awesome now.

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It looks innocent enough, right? At first, it’s a grilled cheese sandwich on scallion pancake with pesto. The fried outside and the the white of the egg don’t make much initial impression as you savor the sharp cheese and garlicky pesto. But then, at some point, you get to the heart of the matter.

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Now you’ve got a situation on your hands. The sandwich has gone full eggy on you. I hope you took some napkins. I’m not sure I’ll be ordering poached eggs straight up any time soon, but in this context, I can’t imagine them any other way, it just seems to pull the whole sandwich together.  Be warned though, I have to classify the Double Awesome as a Hot Mess since a scallion pancake just cannot contain things like a crepe or burrito can,.

One last note on the Mei Mei truck, check out this sign. As helpful and seemingly obvious as it is, I don’t think I’ve seen this info on any of the other trucks. Where to find them on other days, and where to find their restaurant, which I’ll write more about another time.

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Operational Efficiency at Roxy's Grilled Cheese

Two weeks later, I kept my Cheese Weasel Day date with Roxy’s Grilled Cheese truck. You know how I like a simple menu: they offered five sandwiches, two add-ons and a single side.

Menu at Roxy's Grilled Cheese

What I really wanted was a grilled cheese sandwich made with sharp cheddar, ideally with bacon and avocado, most of the Green Muenster but not quite all of it. I just don’t dig the muenster cheese, and owing to the partially pre-assembled nature of Roxy’s sandwiches, some substitutions just can’t be made. I settled on the Rookie Melt, which was served up in just seven minutes.

The Rookie Melt at Roxy's Grilled Cheese

Behold the Rookie Melt. I wonder if I should be offended by the name? It’s cheddar and tomato, griddled up just right. The cheddar could be sharper (but it’s certainly not as dull as muenster) and the tomato runs the risk of sliding out of the sandwich, but no grilled cheese rookie would let that happen.

Burek Börek Byrek Truck Truck Truck

One of the newest trucks on the scene at City Hall Plaza is Mediterranean Home Cooking, what looks like a family operation with no evident social media presence or brick and mortar location. But they do have one of my favorite things, a focused menu:

Menu at Mediterranean Home Cooking

That’s right folks, we’re talking about byrek and that stars with B and ends with K and there’s a great deal of variability about what goes in between and inside. At Sabur in Somerville, it’s burek and it’s hand-stretched, at wikipedia, it’s börek and it’s everywhere from Armenia to Albania and lots of places in between. At Mediterranean Home Cooking, it’s fresh filo dough with olive oil and your choice of meat, spinach and cheese fillings. I had spinach (triangular) and meat.

Spinach and meat byrek at the Mediterranean Home Cooking truck

Both shells were crisp and a little chewy while still flaky but not impossibly messy. I was expecting something more like spanakopita with lots of cheese but there was just a bit of something not as pungent as feta, allowing the spinach to be the star. It was leafy and not overcooked or minced beyond all recognition as sometimes happens in these things. Probably not a whole meal for most, but at $4, no complaints.

Byrek with cheese at the Mediterranean Home Cooking truck

The meat byrek – beef, I’m pretty sure – was the standout. A seemingly more generous portion in general and not at all stingy on the meat but also nicely spiced and generously endowed with melty onions. Gotta love the onions. At just 50 cents more than the spinach, the meat byrek felt like most of a meal. Fries were on the menu with the burger but not listed a la carte, but I’m sure the peckish could make a special order.

Byrek with meat from the Mediterranean Home Cooking truck

It can’t be easy to compete side by side with the more polished Bacon Truck and Green Bean Mobile, but Mediterranean Home Cooking brings the byrek, and that’s something you won’t find in too many other places, and they deliver it simply and with a smile.

Res Ipsa loquitur at Chicken & Rice Guys

The menu board is improved and the prices have gone up, but the Chicken & Rice Guys still deliver exactly what they say and they do it very well.

Menu at Chicken & Rice Guys, Cash Only

Last year I had the chicken and rice, this time I tried the lamb and rice, small size.

Small Lamb and Rice at the Chicken & Rice Guys

I admire the focus and appreciate the results. Plentiful yellow rice, tender meat, three sauces to choose from (BBQ, white, and hot), pita and lettuce. Boom.

Compliments all around

Yesterday the good folks at the Compliments food truck seem to have decided it was their duty to dispense compliments to their patrons. It certainly brightened my day. I got “hey, I really like your sunglasses” (they’re Warby Parkers, and it’s like looking through an Instagram filter all the time!) and the gent behind me was told he was “a beautiful man” even though or perhaps because he ordered the last focaccia.

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I chose the grilled cheese with tomato because it seemed like the right thing to do and because I remembered the tuna melt I got from this truck last season was superb. I was not disappointed. It was a wonderfully toasted sandwich on good bread with good cheese. The tomato was just ok but it didn’t diminish the totality of the sandwich. Tomato is always a tricky element of a grilled cheese sandwich because it can be slippery, causing the sandwich halves to drift like tectonic plates. But I digress.

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At the last minute I also ordered the fried cauliflower, though I’m a bit skeptical of the “too fresh” moniker. I like cauliflower almost any way except overcooked, and I’m now prepared to say that fried with sea salt and some spices is a very good way to have cauliflower. Crispy from the frying but not crunchy from the cauliflower, which was cooked just enough. Highly recommended.

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Compliments to the chef!

MMM MMM M&M ribs

I was sorely tempted to return to The Latin Spoon for empanadas on this almost springy Tuesday, but the Quest requires that I visit each truck in turn before repeating. I’d been to M&M Ribs before and enjoyed it, so it was nice to return to a familiar menu.

The menu at M&M Ribs

I seem to remember having pulled pork and collard greens last time, so I chose the beef brisket with a side of BBQ baked beans. I was quickly served up with a smile.

BBQ beef brisket sandwich from M&M Ribs truck

This is a fantastic sandwich. In contrast to the dry rub on offer at Lilian’s Smokin’ Rack, M&M’s BBQ is moist and saucy, exceptionally tender, and served on a bun. The sandwich size is generous but not coma-inducing, though the quantity of beans was a bit excessive, though no less delicious. The sauce is on the sweet side, not spicy, and gives a real sense that summer might some day arrive. At twice the price of a Lilian’s “slider” one might question the relative value for the money, but certainly not the absolute deliciousness.

Truckless Tenoch Totally Tackles Tortas

At City Hall Plaza yesterday, there was a different kind of truck, more like a trailer really, offering Mexican sandwiches called tortas. It was Tenoch Movil, the roving branch of Tenoch Mexican restaurant of Medford and Boston.

This is my kind of food truck operation. Simple menu, simple pricing, do one thing – tortas, juicy Mexican sandwiches – and do it very well. Cash only, too, by the way.

The menu at Tenoch Movil

I chose the Campechana, which was swiftly assembled, wrapped, bagged, and handed over with a smile. The smooth operation produces a smooth sandwich. Spicy pork is front and center in the form of carnitas and chorizo, but the buttery telera bread, creamy avocado, and mild Oaxaca cheese cool it down just enough to get set on fire again by the chipotle mayo.

Torta Campechana at Tenoch Movil

The sandwich looks small but don’t let it fool you, there’s no need for a side, though we did have a frozen yogurt craving afterwards perhaps to shake off some of the zesty spices. I’ve been enjoying tortas at Aguacate Verde in Somerville and will continue to do so, but Tenoch has won a major share of my heart, and perhaps narrowed my arteries, too.