Ridiculously full, I reflect back on tonight's dinner of samples (actually my only meal for today) at Eat Mobile 2011, a food cart festival benefiting Mercy Corp Northwest. You pay admission weeks beforehand to get tickets, and then once you are through the gate you are on your own to sample at any and every cart you wish (each cart decides what samples it wants to offer, most carts offer multiple kinds of samples). So Ready, Set, go EAT
|From Eat Mobile 2011|
Over the Top Wild Game Burgers offered an elk sloppy joe in mini me fashion… adorable to see, though the bread to meat ratio became too much carb and came oddly in little paper cups with gigantic skewers, which were no help to me in eating them at all.
Shut up and Eat offered open faced, thin sliced beef wtih caramalized onions served with a parmesan herb biscuit with a horseradish mashed potato cake on top- another one that looked great but was messy to eat
PDX 671 offered a little taste of Guam in this spicy interesting dish of Kelaguen Mannok with chopped grilled chicken (they also offered pickled papaya). Kettle Kitchen's rich and creamy mushroom gravy over gorgonzola biscuit brought my palatte back. I liked both of these a lot.
My favorite part of Leroy's Familiar Vittles was their pig mascot; the barbecue, at least mass produced like this, didn't stick in my memory. Nuevo Mexico's sadly did not offer sopapillas like last year- instead, they seemed to offer what would normally be inside of them?
Happy Grillmore offered a sample of one of their latest creations, a Chicken Salad Sammy with housemade garlic aioli, applewood smoked bacon and havarti on ciabatta bread, as well as the Larry, pastrami and herb roasted turkey with Tillamook pepperjack. Fon-due-it gave a small dip of cheese with bread, which was ok. I thought they really would have garned more excitement and a memorable impression with the people (who do love pork) if they had mentioned the chocolate covered bacon. After all, although the proceeds do go to Mercy Corps Northwest, what better customers to market and leverage word of mouth than those foodie enough to go to a Food Cart festival and wait in ridiculous lines (if you hadn't been in the first hour) just for a little sample? I've had and made a lot of cheese fondue, and the cheese sauce in this case didn't stand out to me.
Creme de la Creme offered escargot along wtih some bread to soak up the briny butter. I love escargot, but after already eating what you've seen so far, I had been hoping a bit that they would be offering their roasted beet salad with a little bit of their cucumber brie to offer something fresh instead of so heavy. Their escargot was good though, and thanks to being introduced to them at this festival, similar to last year's, I now have a desire to seek them out in the future. Thankfully, Oregon Ice Works was there to cleanse my palatte of the richness I had so far- and they had my vote for the People's Choice at Eat Mobile this year. I couldn't just have one sample- I had to go have Marionberry, and then Mango, and Strawberry… I tried their Philly Roast Pork also, but clearly Ice is their strength.
Yogio offered one of the components of their "Rock Paper Scissors Dish" dish- the Rock is bibimbap vegetables stuffed inside seasoned rice seared and wrapped in gochujang (Korean chili paste) and seaweed. These rice cakes were incredibly hard- maybe I got a terrible sample and they aren't supposed to be like a stale rice cake. Their Korean Frito pie fared better, created using fritos topped with cheddar, house pork, and chili lime sour cream.
A romantic look at the Rolling Stoves Gimme Sandwich sample… and an up close look at Flavourspot's waffle taco (a savory one- they also had sweet strawberry ones). Meanwhile EuroTrash's fried anchovy (an example of their Fishy Chips menu item) brought back memories of my childhood in Chicago with fried smelt. All of these were decent sample bites that also told you what the cart was all about. As a surprise to me, Pyro Pizza was focused more on giving out samples of their in-house sodas and the sarsaparilla was awesome- I already knew about their pizzas thanks to last year's Eat Mobile, but any trip to Cartopia will include a soda from them too in the future. All great sample bites.
808 Grinds offered shredded tender kalua pork and macaroni salad. I gave Ethiopian food a chance at Emame's Ethiopian cart, and gave a nod to hardworking parents of Vietnamese Banh Mi Sanwiches dutifully keeping their sample trays filled as their two sons occupied themselves playing at the back of the booth. The highlight of El Gallo Taqueria with their mini tacos were their great sauces- I was really hoping they would have their fry bread, but I can see how the tacos were easier to produce in large quantities (though not as memorable against all the other truck offerings). I also had the bacon cheeseburger dumpling from the Dump Truck, a food cart truck specializing in, well dumplings. Brown Chicken Brown Cow offered steamed cheeseburger in meatball form – their last offering ever, as they are closing down and selling their carts.
Ooof… ok, trying to finish off most of the carts now, but getting full… I know I can't visit them all, so some which I've had before or who may be offering sample items I am not particularly interested in now will have to be passed up… Wet Hot Beef had awesome temporary tattoo proclaiming "Wet Hot Beef" that I cannot wait to put on packaged with their Piedmontese roast beef au jus sandwich samples with juniper smoked cabbage, anise brined pork belly, and thyme aioli. The sandwich also came with a few of their homemade lavendar black pepper chips. Artigiano showcased their homemade pasta offering of handmade gnocchi with pork ragu of yukon gold tomatoes, san marzano tomatoes, and sweet brair farms pork.
Eat This had several offerings on their flatbread, varying from thick skin on house cured bacon with grilled asparagus and mustard garlic aioli, black angus brisket with caramelized onions and parmesan creamed spinach, the pork shoulder confit with apple and cranberry compote and homemade slaw, and the herb marinated chicken with sundried tomato gorgonzola brocolli sauce (which I somehow forgot to take a photo of). My favorite was the pork shoulder, thanks to the brightness from the apple cranberry compote.
Lardo– and Koi Fusion – the pictures say it all. Actually, these next set of photos from the next few carts say a lot, so I'll let them speak for themselves, except that that arugula from Slice Brick Oven Pizza tasted so good after all I had eaten… and I like the option of with or without melted ice cream from Whiffies.
The Baowry– the only cart that with our VIP admission, had a line. Bao with soy curls (vegetarian). Bao with meat (pork of course). Actually, we thought the kimchee was the highlight, nice and spicy!
And… the best dressed ice cream man I have ever seen… handing out itty bitty cones for Fifty Licks, yaaayyy…
Thanks to the organizers this year who offered VIP admission so that for a higher price I could enjoy the carts without so many people- yes you're right I am willing to pay a premium price for that (although the 15 minute delay in letting everyone in the line was getting incredibly restless…). Also, there were a lot more garbage cans around so trash did not build up, unlike last year… and after all this food, there was plenty of beverage to be found, Thanks for Improving! Thanks to Vitamin Water and Smartwater for hydrating everyone- I appreciated the easy access to wash down food from their booth setup. Once general admission time came, the lines were too soon backing up to the wall opposite where the cart was parked- which just shows how high the demand is and the interest is, and the dilemna in that they really do need to find a bigger space.
|Eat Mobile 2011|