Treat yourself!

If one of my favorite recent TV phrases ends up on your business card, I am immediately a fan, even if I haven’t yet tried your cupcakes, even if I don’t know whether the TV phrase was actually your inspiration or not. But I’ll take it as a food-truck win. And I will so try your cupcakes.

What I received this week at Metro Center promoting the new truck:

What I hope was the inspiration:

(If you’re not watching Parks & Rec, you should be. Trust me on this.)

Food trucks + wine + journalism = this

When I heard the Press Club’s restaurant was hosting a night full of food-truck food with wine pairings, I bought tickets within a minute. I hadn’t had time to visit the trucks as much this winter, but I still liked their meals and¬†entrepreneurial¬†spirit. The NPC, I’ve always liked its food and spirit too. The night turned out well — seven courses, each paired, over three hours. Fourth Estate manager Justin and chef Susan were gracious hosts, with journo-friendly skill and energy to them.

On the menu: Big Cheese had my favorite sandwich. I’d never tried Go Fish and Lemongrass before, and both were winners. DC Empanadas had the spiciest offering of the night, and they announced they were opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which was awesome. BBQ Bus, which I’d also never been able to try before, lived up to reputation for doing good things with pork. By that point in the meal, we were pretty stuffed. But the wine pick for that one, as Justin predicted to the room earlier, was the best. All were good, all different. But the wine slid us there better than we had any right to expect into cupcakes and beer.

My raffle ticket fell one away from winning cooking class. Not bad in a room of 200. Still felt like a winner, though. A stuffed, sleepy winner.

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Eight moments of food truck questions in 2011

1. Could the Pi truck, with its cornmeal crust, compete with a serious Chicago-style pizza? Was the truck’s James Brown mix the best food-truck soundtrack in the city? No (good but not mind-blowing) and yes.

2. Would I ever buy fries from the Fry Captain? After going 0-2 in 2010, this year didn’t start well. The propane tank broke as I was just a few customers away from the window, and then I waited 45 minutes for a milkshake. Another a month later proved more fortunate. Friend Marc and I found a tiny line, ordered quickly and then brainstormed all the disaster scenarios in which we would not get our fries. Would preppy jackasses get the last fries? Would the propane explode? No. Success.

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Food trucks (and carts) I have known — 2011 check-in

The Fry Captain running out of fries aside, it’s been a successful year.

In the rankings I keep in my heart, the mac-and-cheese truck, the pie truck, the crepe cart, and the poutine truck tie for #1. And you? What do you rank as your best trucks of ’10? Here’s my year. Tell me yours.

December:
-Big Cheese (get the Mt. Fuji!)
CapMac
-District Taco (pictured below en route to breakfast taco)
-Takorean (pictured at right en route to my belly)

November (I think):
-Dangerously Delicious
-Sauca

October:
-Curbside Cupcakes
-DC Empanadas
-DC Slices
-Lovebites
-Sweetbites
-Sweetflow

September:
Eat Wonky
Red Hook Lobster DC

July:
Choupi

June:
Rebel Heroes

Goals for 2011: Bada Bing cheesesteaks. BBQ Bandidos. Fojol Bros. Fry Captain. PORC. Solar Crepes. Whatever the streets decide to bring us.

And I’m serious about Big Cheese and the Mt. Fuji. Brie and apple! Try the tomato soup if you can as well. The truck was the NPR Digital Food Truck Collective’s most recent win. Looking forward to having it again.

Finally, we hit the mac-and-cheese truck

I’ve been following CapMacDC on Twitter for months. Even before the truck started rolling, I was following. When the owners asked for ideas on food containers, I suggested they pour the pasta right in my hands.

When CapMac did hit the D.C. streets, I waited for it to come by. The truck went to McPherson Square, Dupont, Farragut, even as close as Metro Center, but the truck never made it to Chinatown or Mt. Vernon Square. And my NPR coworkers were waiting too. When the Captain announced a Chinatown run yesterday, we were ready. As I told desk-neighbor Sondra about the truck’s glories, as she’d made a great mac-and-cheese recently for our cube fam, colleague Aly was planning with her desk-neighbor Nelson and shooting me an e-mail. Noon? Yeah.

Fellow neighbors Stephanie, Demian and Max joined us. We braved the brutal cold on 7th Street, found the line short but steady, took photos, hid in the warm Portrait Gallery atrium, and inhaled our food.

How was it? Completely lived up to high expectations. The mac was a familiar friend. The crumbled Cheez-Its on top put your friend in a top hat. While working the mac, I may have eaten my fork. We also tried the truck’s new soup: butternut squash with “brown butter croutons and whipped goatcheese.” On a frigid day, the soup tasted genius.

Nelson captures us at the truck:

Aly, along with documenting the mac, got us saluting the Captain:

(Should saluting the Captain become a thing for the truck’s followers? Yes. You think I’m kidding? Find the truck and get the mac and soup.)

 

Only six food trucks, but we all float on okay

Friend Randy and I shared a dream last week: to run the table at the D.C. Curbside Cook-off. To eat at each of the 20 trucks and be able to proclaim a personal winner among them. In the early morning hours of Thursday, as the trucks were arriving down the street from our NPR office, this goal seemed reasonable. By lunchtime, it was out of reach.

Packs of ravenous Gen X and Yers descended on CityCenter like mall teens, the lobster roll truck as Bieiber and Eat Wonky as Drake. Friend Sheri and I agreed days later the scene would’ve been a great place to meet people if we all hadn’t been hustling to get through the hour lines and get back to our offices. So, I went back after work for more.

Lunch: Sweetflow tart frozen yogurt with bananas, strawberries and chocolate chips. Different but balanced well and had minimal lines.

Lunch: Then tried the Fry Captain for duck-fat fries, but he had run out of all fries. So, settled (ha!) for a coconut-frosted chocolate cupcake at Sweetbites. Amid the trucks and a beat-thumping DJ on stage, I took a phone call. Hello, 401(k) rollover guy! He volunteered to call back later.

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The shining, flying, eating, drinking, exploding river

Lessons learned at yesterday’s grand opening festival for Yards Park, on the Anacostia riverfront, just upstream from the Nationals Ballpark:

The renewed riverfront is beautiful. People are going to pack the place one day. Fireboats are cool. Same, kayakers who want beer. Art wants to be free. Kids want to be free to dance. Trapeze school is not for the masses. Except for kids with hearts of steel. And men with pants of…

Eat Wonky’s poutine meets high hopes. When people ask if the cheese is squeaky, say yes. Follow fries with the chocolate mint whoopie pie. A Red-Headed Stranger is on your side. Same for Dirty Harry. When the random dude’s photo of me in front of Clint appears on Flickr, I want it.

Cheer for the Central Virginia band that plays Lil’ Jon and the East Side Boyz’ Get Low, and manages to keep the song child-danceable. Quaff the various Capitol City beers as the sun disappears, and don’t decide on a favorite. Lean on the river railing and get the clearest view you’ve ever had of a massive fireworks display. Let the fireworks come at you. Don’t let your friend fall into the fountain, but have that camera ready.

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Pix: Hunting the lobster roll truck

I’d been following the lobster roll truck on Twitter for weeks, but friend Hilary beat me to realizing how close it was coming to our workplaces. She put out an alert. Colleague Sondra and I hustled to Metro Center.

As we waited on a street corner and then in a mysterious line, the Red Hook Lobster DC truck arrived. A kindly man in a yellow suit stepped out of line, moved his car from a spot and allowed the truck to pull in.

Mr. Yellow then returned for a free lobster roll — the truck’s standing reward for getting it a parking space — and the line grew wildly long.

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