Saturday, September 10, 2011

It Wasn't A Mirage

I'm usually pretty careful not to pre-apologize for anything. I have to start off here by saying, though, that I don't have any pictures for this post and I'm really sorry about that. I'm sure I'll get some shots of the business in question in the coming weeks and I promise to share them then.

If you follow me on Twitter you know that I've gotten seriously into fancy food trucks over the past year or so. That sort of food in a truck or cart or a stand at a flea market is getting pretty common and popular around here. Still, with regulations being what they are and the city administration not catching on, I haven't actually been eating from food trucks terribly often. They aren't always welcomed in midtown where I work and they move around a lot and a number of other factors are at play.

All that may have changed.

Trudging home on the second soggy day in a row last week I peeked out from under my hood and saw a mirage. I peered between the raindrops on my glasses and it wasn't a mirage it was a food truck. A food truck in my very own neighborhood and they were making grilled cheese! It was like the universe apologizing for how thoroughly I got soaked the night before.

Let's keep in mind that I've been ravenous all week. Every time I finish eating I want more. That day I had eaten a lunch of a salad and a meat cupcake. I'd had some sort of snack and a bunch of Junior Mints. At the very end of the day I'd been given half an egg salad sandwich. I thought, "This is perfect, I'll take it home and eat it for dinner." Then I stayed late solely to finish eating it right then.

What I'm saying is, I wasn't hungry.  I was having ding dang grilled cheese, though, come hell've seen the news this week. You see, food trucks often move around and I'm sure that the spots they're loyal to depend on sales and perhaps you've heard it's rained a bit this week. People don't exactly stand around waiting for cheese to melt in the rain. What if this cart never came back and I let this golden (crispy, cheesy, golden) chance pass me by?

There were a couple of people reading the menu and a couple of other guys having a chat and two guys in the cart having a conversation with a woman standing at its back door. After a moment I gave my patented ridicuously meek "hi" and one of the guys in the truck did turn around. I ordered a Fort Greene and while it cooked I tweeted my find.

By this point one of the guys from the chat came over and introduced himself as Steve. Steve is one of the partners in the venture and while my cheese was grilling we talked about the space and the business and the internet and, you know, stuff. Steve let me sound very important and knowledgeable about the area even though it was clear that he'd done plenty of research before they applied for this spot so they knew exactly what was going on. When my gums weren't flapping I learned some great things.

For instance, they're going to be in that spot 5-6 days per week, circumstances permitting. The city put out an RFP for 80 food truck and cart spots in and near city parks. There were two spots up for bid near Fort Greene Park, this one on DeKalb and another one on (we think) Myrtle. They applied specifically for this one after some deliberation and were able to get it. They are thinking they'll have some treats and water for dogs. They have receptacles for garbage, recycling and compost. They do all their ordering and cashing out via iPad and are working on a system for people to be able to order online then come and pick up said order. Some asshat stole their license plate. Given the early morning dog crowd they're also tossing about ideas for a breakfast service.

It's a good thing Steve is a social guy 'cause you can't hurry up a good grilled cheese so we had time for in-depth discussion.

We have a regular food truck! Seriously, I know this sounds insane but I could hardly be more excited.

I suppose the rest of you want to know about the food, though. Very well. It's delicious and I'm not blowing smoke. The Fort Greene was a little salty for my taste but that was, I think, a problem with my own expectations. I expected the avocado to even out the saltiness a little more but, since it was warm, it didn't quite do that job. However, cheese, sourdough bread, avocado and bacon is not going down in history as a bad dinner. Not even a mediocre dinner. Good dinner. Yum. I also tried the grilled brussels sprouts which were fantastic. I little oily for me but  I think I grabbed one off the bottom of the bowl so that's to be expected. Didn't bother me enough to keep me from wishing that my compostable pickle fork thingee had two pointy ends so I could have double dipped without contaminating. Perhaps I should have gotten my own order but you read above all that I had crammed down my gullet that day.

Now the second day...yeah I went back two days in a row. I knew I was going to write about them, it's a gloomy week, contrast is good in writing and grilled cheese is the food of the gods. It had to happen.

I'd been thinking the whole day about what my next sandwich would be. I was going to build my own. Wheat bread, gruyere cheese, tomato and agave mayo. Now I had pictured the mayo on the sandwich but I spoke with one of the chefs (note to self: learn more names) and he said they envisioned their condiments as dipping sauces. He was willing to put it right on my sammie but I went with the expert advice and dipped. Not a bad choice at all. A tomato stands up to the salt of good cheese better than avocado. The gruyere is stinkier and therefore better eating as far as I'm concerned. Wheat bread makes it healthy. (Ha!) And the agave mayo adds just the right touch of sweetness to the whole shebang. Plus when you dip you have control over the ratio of mayo to sandwich at every bite. I could have eaten another one directly on the heels of the first. I would have been very sick but I could have. I saved the leftover partial serving of the mayo and I think I'm going to put it on corn on the cob. That's going to be fucking awesome, right?

Conversation on the second day ran the gamut from frequent eater cards to Amanda Palmer and her kamikaze, Twitter-organized surprise gigs.

In short I highly recommend The Food Freaks Grilled Cheese and I want you all to go there immediately and get a grilled cheese (or two!) because I want them to succeed. I want them to thrive and prosper. I want them to be the shining example for all other food trucks to follow so we have whole streets full of them to pick from soon. Also, I want to be able to grab a nice half sandwich and tomato soup on a cold fall day when I'm out walking the dog. Make that happen for me, will you please?


P.S. Food Freaks, thank you so much for placing your bet on Fort Greene. I've already had someone suggest a menu item for you. Can we get some Velveeta (not American, Velveeta) on Wonder Bread, please? We don't know what to call it. The White Trash? The Budget? The Low Rent? The Classic? The Mad Men? Let us know what you think.


  1. Dude. We are so eating from that truck when we come up there next year.

  2. oh you're making me drool in the worst way, i LOVE LOVE LOVE grilled cheese! in the industrial park in PA where michael used to have the business with his brothers, there was a cheapo food cart that used to park on the edge of the area and i'd often stop and get a nice greasy grilled cheese and bacon to take in with me. i miss it ... and now have to go ask them if they can add a GF option, or maybe just take my own bread? not sure if that's allowed. hmm.

  3. my long lost sister, I also have a ridicuously meek "hi" ;-) I want a grilled cheese now!

  4. Cindy, oh hell yes you are!

    Bethany, I bet they'd work with you. They're nice guys! It's good grilled cheese. A little pricey but awesome and they sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and then brown it on both sides so you get crispy, cheesy bread, too.

    Janet, have as much grilled cheese as you can manage. It is awesome! Why is it so hard to just say 'hi' like a normal person? It's not like I was interrupting anything and I was there AS A CUSTOMER. It's just my way. Maybe it's a New England thing. (It's so not a New England thing.)