Trailer Food Tuesdays is a series of five food truck gatherings on the last Tuesday of the month starting July 31 through November 27, that takes place at the Long Performing Arts Center in Austin, TX.
Basically, Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla and YuméBurger, Kristen Stacy of The Seedling Truck, and Royal Fig Catering and Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook author Tiffany Harelik, have joined forces with the Long Center to launch this event to spotlight local Austin Food Trailers and their innovative menus!
Best. Idea. Ever. I just wish I’d known about it before this week, but I’m glad I could attend at least ONE of these awesome events before the season ended. I asked my mom to accompany me to Austin for an evening full of yummy eats from local food trailers. And now it was the two of us couldn’t wait to go.
Finally, the time had come to leave Wimberley and make the trek to Austin. It’s really not a trek, and somehow, we missed all the traffic heading in. It blows my mind how it only took us 25 minutes to get to the Long Center at 5:30 p.m. Hey, I’m not complaining!
When we drove up to the Long Center, all I could see from the road below were food trucks lining the edge around the top terrace. Pretty purple lights shining on each truck illuminated the whole scene. (I found out the lighting was from Intelligent Lighting Design, good job guys!) From a distance, it just looked SO dang cool, like something out of a movie for an elaborate party that you only wish you could get into. There was definitely something really tremendous going on up there, and I could not wait any longer to see it for myself.
|The Long Center|
After my mom and I parked the truck and got bundled up in jackets and gloves we made our way to the Long Center steps that lead to the terrace. We kept tightening our jackets around us against the chilly wind as we went, following the heavenly fragrance of cooking meat and veggies. It was a savory, and mouthwatering scent. My feet followed my nose up the final steps and to the top of the terrace where I stood motionless and in amazement of the awesomeness that stood before me.
Truck after truck after truck lined the perimeter of the terrace overlooking the city. The Austin skyline shone brightly in the background. It was simply stunning, incredibly exciting, and almost overwhelming. Good thing I had sort-of prepared for the evening.
|Cool shot, huh?|
My mom and I split up to check out the scene. While she went and cruised each trailer, seeing what they were serving up for that night, I went to the Trailer Food Diaries table, set up against the entrance to the Long Center. There, I was able to meet the beautiful Tiffany Harelik, the brain power behind The Trailer Food Diaries, The Gypsy Picnic, Trailer Food Tuesdays, her line of cookbooks and now her brand new line of jellies and jams inspired by food trailers and their recipes.
She’s SO nice and such a wonderful inspiration for someone like me. She took her passion and ran with it, and look where she is today only a few years after she took the first step! I really admire her and what she does.
|Tiffany & I holding a copy of Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook|
Austin Edition, Volume 2
Super sappy, I know. Whatever.
After I had the chance to meet Tiffany, my mom and I regrouped. Except, wait… she had a quesadilla in her hand! And a huge smile on her face! What? She already started!
She got her veggie quesadilla from Colibri Cuisine W Sixth. This gourmet food trailer specializes in fresh Mexican-American cuisine. They take pleasure in serving a fusion cuisine of Southern Texas and Mexican flavors, and the two of us certainly took pleasure in sampling some of this fusion fare.
“You’ve GOT to try this” she managed between bites. So I did. I mean, who am I to disobey my mom’s direct orders?
This was one amazing quesadilla, I tell you what! I’ve had my share of quesadillas throughout my 27 years of existence, but this was something different and special. The veggie quesadilla had marinated Baby Spring Mix, Spinach, Mushroom-Carrot Mix, Homemade Beans, Monterrey Jack Cheese, Fresh Cilantro Cream, Pico de Gallo, Apple Cider Vinaigrette and their “Sexy Salsa.”
|Veggie Quesadilla from Colibri Cuisine|
Cozy, warm, light, crisp. That almost sums it up. But I will go on. The quesadilla had a delicious melty blend of flavors I didn’t expect to all go together. Carrots? Beans? Spinach? But hey, it worked wonderfully. I could see and taste that the fresh veggies truly were fresh. The initial bite into this dish felt like biting into a cracker; all crispy and nice, but somehow the tortilla was still soft. It was also very juicy, but not drippy or at all messy. The juiciness allowed the flavors to burst in and fill your whole mouth, teasing you with each of the complex layers the ingredients created. It was an exciting bite, that’s for dang sure.
Next, I wandered over to Way South Philly, a favorite of mine. I was excited that Willy, the chef/owner, took some time to chat with me. He made me feel so welcome, and I am sure I was just smiling from ear to ear the whole time. He made me my favorite sammy, the Balboa. You can read about the first time I dug into one of these beauties here.
|WSP @ TFT|
This WSP cheesesteak sandwich was almost better this time than the first time I had one, and that is a nearly impossible feat. I just couldn’t speak while I was eating it. The cheese was perfect, the meat was seasoned and chopped and beautifully. The whole sandwich was moist and juicy. My mushrooms were earthy and had that perfect grilled taste. Again, the cheesesteak is one of my favorite foods in the world and it is done SO right by WSP.
I tried so hard to get a picture of the sammy, but my camera was being a butt. Well, no, that’s not exactly fair. I just have not yet honed the technique of picture taking with a real camera. I’m so used to the iPhone, where I just touch an area and it captures the image. The whole pushing a button while maintaining perfect stillness had eluded me until the middle of the eating extravaganza. I realized later that I don’t have to fling my finger up from the button, which in turn makes my hands jiggle and leaves me with pictures that leave a lot to be desired.
Next, my mom and I went to The Peached Tortilla, winner of the 2011 Eater Austin Food Truck of the Year award, Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2012 Best New Food Trailer award, and Food & Wine’s Best Slider in U.S. 2012 award. Now… those are some seriously distinguished awards. I felt lucky to be able to get some of this innovative and exciting, “knows no boundaries” food.
|The Peached Tortilla|
When it came time to order, I chose the Banh Mi taco, vietnamese braised pork belly, pickled daikon and carrot salad, sriracha mayo, cilantro, and my mom ordered the Pad Thai Rice Bowl. After a super surprisingly short wait for our food, my name as called, we collected our goods, and for the first time, my mom and I chose to take a seat instead of meander around the terrace.
|Ordering @ The Peached Tortilla|
I liked how the seating was arranged: big tables with lots of chairs. Basically, it encouraged people to not be loners and sit at a table other people with a similar interest in exciting food and food trailers. And Finally! A GOOD PICTURE! I didn’t jiggle or do any other weird movements. Satisfied with the photos, I took a bite of the Banh Mi.
WOW. HOLY COW. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! The flavors simply EXPLODED in my mouth. First the punch of brightness from the pickled veggies ignited my mouth-watering button into overdrive. Then hardy pork belly was so soft, warm and succulent that it mellowed the other tastes, then the srirachia and cilantro combined to create a clean, spicy yet citrusy taste that lingered and warmed. The taco had so many levels of taste and texture. I just couldn’t stop praising this tiny taco packed with huge flavors. Simply genious. Really.
|Bahn Mi Taco|
My mom’s rice bowl on the other hand made her want to die. I don’t exactly know what it was, except for the fact she kept saying the texture was grainy and she just could not take another bite. I felt bad, since my dish from the very same truck was mind-blowing. I let her have a bite, and her eyes opened wide, and she agreed with me, that the taco was something that would be talked about for the days to come.
THIRSTY! As if on cue, someone at our table started talking about the yummy fruit sodas from trailer set up directly behind us, Cascal. Good call buddy. We thanked him and made our way to Cascal.
What is Cascal? I can’t remember the exact shpeal that the really nice guy who was giving out samples gave us, but I do remember I was really impressed by it. I looked it up online, and here’s their website’s explanation: “Cascal is a delicious, natural soft drink crafted with natural juices and fermented for fuller flavor. It is complex yet has a refreshingly light and bubbly taste. The flavors range from more delicate to more robust and are the perfect complement to a meal or as a stand-alone refreshment.”
|My yummy (FREE) drink!|
I do recall he said that there was no added sugar, just the sugar from the fruit, and they were all between 60-80 calories per can. The fizzy juice contains no caffeine or gluten. Win.
After sampling all of the flavors, I settled on the Lemongrass-Tangerine-Pineapple flavor, and WHAM! I got myself a free can! HOW COOL. It was super delicious, and I simply adore fizzy drinks. Mmm… My mom’s favorite was the Mint Mango variety, which was also totally innovative and completely full of yum.
Moving forward, my mom and I headed to Tapas Bravas, a trailer that boasts authentic Spanish cuisine. I do love tapas. My mom and I one time had the most amazing lunch at a José Andrés tapas restaurant. By the end of the meal, our table was 100% covered in little dishes, empty of course. So when we saw this tapas trailer, we both giggled a little at the memory I’m sure we were both having. I LOVE how food can be not only just something to eat, but it can be a foundation for memories, experiences, excitement, etc.
Anyway, while we were admiring the menu, the owner, Jed Holdredge, approached us, letting us know that they’re opening a brand spakin’ new location the next day (today) on E. Caeser Chavez! He handed us a coupon for a BOGO (buy one, get one) meal. Love it. I hope to get out there again, because what my mom and I ordered and split was completely and utterly magnificent: The Pimientos Piquillos Rellenos de Queso de Cabra y Peñones, or goat-cheese stuffed piquillo peppers with pine nuts and honey.
|Peppers from Tapas Bravas|
After the chef inside prepared the peppers, and handed us our plate, we headed for another one of the big tables, where three other girls sat at the other side. Here’s where my photo taking drama went to a whole new level. I tried to take another picture of the gorgeous peppers at the table, but fail after fail after fail, I became super frustrated. UGH!
Giving up my photography efforts, my mom and I each took a bite. The peppers were beautifully roasted and had a gorgeous red color that contrasted nicely with the fresh parsley and the soft goat cheese. The goat cheese was remarkable. It was velvety and luscious. It filled my mouth with the tangy pungency that only goat cheese can bring. The sweet roasted peppers combined with the cheese was a perfect pair. Perfect. Pair. The pine nuts added a nice and unexpected crunch while the honey just tied everything together.
But I HAD to get another picture!! As I went back to fussing over my camera, I felt the girls across from us at the table staring at me. I looked up and they were all, indeed, staring.
“Are you a blogger?” one of them tactfully interrupted my camera-induced hissy fit.
“Yes I am. Are you a blogger?” I responded, noticing she too was taking pictures of her food.
How super cool? This table was now the Austin food bloggers table! I was sitting across from the writers of some of my favorite blogs in the city; South Austin Foodie, Bake Me Away, Sugarfoot Eats, and now me, Slow Down & Savor, all at one table. How AWESOME! Then Blinded By the Bite! came and chatted for a few before she had to head home to her family. It was really awesome and super special getting a chance to talk with these really amazing women.
But I still had one more truck I’d been dying to try: Little Big Mikes. I couldn’t leave without sampling some of their gourmet pizza. Before heading out to TFT, I did a little bit of reading on Little Big Mike’s and learned that they only just opened for business in October of this year! They make their own dough, red sauce, Italian sausage and spicy giardiniera from scratch. They bake both of their personal sized and large pizzas into custom made dark steel pans. They say their goal is to create the perfect pan pizza crust.
|Little Big Mike's|
As I got up from my seat, I let my table-mates know I’d be right back; that I required pizza from Little Big Mike’s. So off I went, headed to the pizza trailer which was a bright yellow Airstream with an artichoke painted on it. Cool.
I ordered one of the specialty pizzas, the name of which I can’t remember for the life of me, (something tells me it’s “Bruno.”) but I do remember what made it so good. It was a square shaped personal pan pizza with arugala, olives, garlic and some oil with the blend of yummy bubbly cheeses. It was a bit steep in its price, clocking in at $8. My mom let me know that I better either eat it all, or at least take the leftovers home. Eating the whole thing seemed like a daunting task, due to the fact I’d already eaten a cheese steak, some quesadilla, a pork belly taco, a goat cheese stuffed pepper and drank a fizzy juice.
Anyway, this was a gorgeous pizza, really. The crust was golden brown, and the arugala was a dark emerald green. It stood out in contrast to the bubbling cheesy platform it was resting on.
My first bite was crunchy, chewy, briny, garlicky and… OH SO GOOD. I really loved the raw arugala on top. It gave it that nice peppery kick with a nice textural element that kept my mouth excited. This was no boring pizza. My mom, not a pizza lover, loved it too. I passed a bite along to South Austin Foodie blogger, Suzanna, and she seemed to be on the same page as I was with the taste. Jessica from Bake Me Away and Julie from Sugarfoot Eats went and got their own to split. Woo Hoo! Trendsetter over here! Just kidding, but it was definitely a crowd-pleasing pizza. I’m definitely glad to have been able to grab a bite from this extremely new food trailer. I can see them sticking around for a good long while.
|Another shot of the same pizza|
And I will say this; there were no leftovers to take home… Yep… Between my mom and I, we totally ate it all.
By this time, it was closing in on 8 p.m. and I was good and stuffed. In fact, I started to get enormously sleepy, and felt a food coma coming on. I looked over at my mom and she and I silently decided that it was time to hit the road back to Wimberley.
After saying some goodbyes to some new friends, my mom and I strolled out of the Long Center. We couldn’t stop talking about how amazing everything was and what a really great time we had.
Experiencing something like Trailer Food Tuesdays with my mom was really fantastic. I love that she’s getting more and more intrigued and inspired each time we share a meal like this together. There really is something special about good food, passionate people, and a nice brisk evening to bring people together. I’ll remember this night as an exceptional experience.