October 30, 2012

Food Truck Rally!

I don't know how long Boise has been having food truck rallies; presumably they appeared sometime shortly after food trucks became all the rage on Food Network. I do know that "gourmet" food trucks have been around for at least a couple of years, having seen them around at various events (beer festival, I'm looking at you,) but as for the rallies? I first heard of them when I moved to the day shift at my "real" job, and began being able to use Twitter. (Sidebar: for any of you who use Twitter regularly and can't imagine your social media experience without it? Not that interesting on the graveyard shift.) Between fellow local foodies and such entities as the Boise Weekly and Radio Boise--both of whom are affiliated with said rally--I began to hear about it quite a bit.
That being said, I didn't know when I'd actually have a chance to go.  The event has a specific time--the last Friday of every month--and so it was dependent on my own availability.  Coupled with finances, the chances were already slim.  But on top of it all, I was laboring under a misconception.  I thought it was a lunchtime rally, taking place while I was stuck at work without transportation.  Luckily, though, a perfect storm of events happened this last week.  It was the last Friday of the month.  It was payday, and my check was larger than I'd expected.  Wife got off work early and decided to pick me up instead of letting me take the bus.  Finally, we decided that we should buy liquor for the company we were having that night, and took a different route home.  All that added up to driving right past the event.  Smelling good smells, I ran up to one of the vendors and asked how much longer they would be open.  Turned out the event didn't start until five.  We took care of our liquor stop, let the dogs out to pee, and invited the in-laws to join us.
We decided pretty quickly that we would each pick an item that we wanted, but then share it all around.  It didn't take Boy long.  He went to the bright yellow truck housing P. Diddy's Wrap Wagon and looked with gleaming appreciation at the special--pulled pork and bacon nachos.  To think we used to be vegetarians.

Wife and Mother-in-Law both grabbed a "burnt end sammich" from Big Daddy's Barbecue.
 Which Mother-in-Law supplemented with some purple potato fries from the Boise Fry Company.
 Father-in-Law surprised us all by getting a chicken teriyaki bowl from Rice Works Asian Street Food.

Finally, I was drawn to the All Saint's Burger at the Saint Lawrence Gridiron.

So, now that you've seen some of the options, we should get to the important part.  How was it?  Well, almost everything was fantastic.  The burnt end sammich from Big Daddy was wonderfully smoky, and their signature sauce was far better than anything you can get out of a bottle.  When I went with my family to the fiddle festival in Weiser this past summer, we stumbled across a group of bikers hosting a fundraiser, and they'd gone to the effort to dig a pit in a field and slow roast an entire pig wrapped in burlap for 24 hours, but after all that work the succulent pork was served with a sauce from the local grocery (although they had researched on Google how the locally available sauces fared in taste tests.)  It seemed like such a waste.  Big Daddy's sauce was sweet, thick, and tangy, and a perfect complement to the meat and bread.  If I didn't have so much other food available, I might have hoped for a larger portion, but the flavor was fantastic.  

However, fantastic wasn't enough to keep the sammich from being completely upstaged by the pulled pork nachos Boy found at P. Diddy's.  I'm glad he found it, because I'll admit to being enough of an elitist that I saw their silly name and kind of overlooked their menu.  These nachos were the family favorite.  The shredded pork went perfectly onto salty chips, and the bacon added a nice flavor component but was used sparingly, allowing the other meat to define the dish.  Topped with a mixture of cheddar and jack cheeses as well as sour cream and a tasty (if mild, to my taste) salsa, everything about it just worked.  This is the sort of thing I will look to recreate at home should my Broncos somehow sneak into the BCS this season.  (Who am I kidding, any bowl game will do.)  It really was simple food--apart from the time invested into making good pulled pork, these nachos weren't as complex as some of the other food we tried--but like a good blues groove, it didn't have to be.  They were just perfect.  

I didn't get to try F-i-L's teriyaki bowl--he bought his own food, and wanted to eat it.  He did wait a really long time for his order, only to have the meat portion of the dish be cold, which is a shame.  He also thought that their chicken might secretly be turkey, but I don't really put much stake in that.  Overall he liked the flavor but was dissatisfied on a whole.  I will say that I tried Rice Work's General Tso's Chicken at a different event and found it to be quite tasty, with a pretty good spice level and nice, crispy breading, but at this rallying of food trucks, they didn't seem to be the cream of the crop.  That, and there's this:
"Dericious" Asian food.
Another minor disappointment were the purple fries by Boise Fry Company, but I think the setting had a lot to do with that.  I've been hearing alot about the restaurant where they serve "burgers on the side," but I've never made it to their actual storefront yet.  Here, on a blustery fall day where everyone was wearing jackets or sweaters, it didn't take long for the thin strips of purple potato to go completely cold, and cold fries are not good eats.  They still had rosemary-garlic (wonderful) and jalapeno (tastes exactly like chips) salts available, and a couple of sauce options--including a slightly spicy fry sauce that I absolutely loved--to make things interesting, and while the fries weren't a highlight of my Friday night, I find myself even more in the mood to check out their indoor dining establishment.

Finally, I lucked out.  Everyone else had ordered before I was done deciding, and it was determined by Wife that I should wait until we'd shared the first couple of items before I got my burger.  When I finally got it, Wife and Boy took token bites, but I pretty much got to devour it on my own.  The All Saints Burger was served on a toasted bun with pickled onions and peppers, gorgonzola cheese, and Chinden sauce, which is apparently a fermented bean paste.  Seriously, this burger was fantastic.  Wife thought it was just another burger, but she took her bite from the edge.  The bean paste was a fantastic idea, salty and well....I always looked askew when the talking heads on food television talk about umami, but I think I get it now.  Coupled with the stinky cheese--and they used good gorgonzola--and the decision to pickle their peppers....I hope Saint Lawrence Gridiron is at all of these events or that I run into them again around town, because their burger had a serious wow factor.

Of course, gorging on this level wouldn't be complete without dessert, courtesy of Father-in-Law.
 Again, I didn't get to try his Black Chocolate cupcake, but I did get to try the Tiger's Tail he bought for Boy.  (Both items from "A Cupcake Paradise.")  A combination of raspberry and coconut frosting made my son delighted, but what I really appreciated was that the cupcake itself was fluffy and moist--I've had cupcakes that cost twice as much as what they were selling from their food truck, in northern Oregon, where cupcake boutiques run rampant, and those had nothing on these dreamy little sweets.

Really, this was a fantastic event and if you live in or around Boise you are missing out if you don't make it to one of these.  The food was wonderful, and we didn't even make it to everyone's booth (we missed out on Archie's Place, which serves a contradiction on bread--gourmet sloppy joes--Calle 75, a burrito place I wish I'd had room in my stomach for, and the Brown Shuga Soul Food truck, which just got cancelled out by BBQ redundancy.  I also missed out on Payette Brewing's beer tent, which is a shame, but I've had enough of their beers in the past that it couldn't qualify as blog research.  Radio Boise provided music both in the form of a DJ (of the radio station variety, playing entire songs, not a hip-hop instrumentalist) and a guitarist.  I cannot recommend this event enough, but you'll have to pay attention to the event pages of the Boise Weekly (or follow Food Truck Rally on Twitter.)  The rally is never in the same place twice.

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