A Taste of Two Cities Review

| June 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

Guest Feature by Jeremy Gunderson

Well, despite arriving a little late due to a grumpy, jet-lagged 1-year old, the Taste of Two Cities did not disappoint. Even before reaching Wenburn Street, you could tell by the stream of vehicles with DC plates that this was not just a neighborhood event, but the development of another rivalry between the two cities. Upon arriving, it was nice to see the organizers had invested in security, and I didn’t even mind paying the $5 to pay to park to support the event infrastructure (more on that later…).

It would have been easy to just stop at the first food truck, but we decided to roll through and see the offerings of all 40 trucks. Having been a fan of food trucks for years (this writer is a Portland, Oregon transplant – where the truck scene is well established), I recognized the standard fare of pulled pork, and different varieties of noodle-based cuisine. My eye was on the lookout for the most inventive types of food. After thoroughly examining the menus, I settled on the Pan con Lechon from El Floridano from DC. A Puerto Rican chopped pork sandwich with spicy guava sauce, the sandwich was tasty, full of juicy pork and a nice spicy kick. The best part, and, I think a good reason there was a steady stream of traffic at this truck was due to their “Taster Size” option. Nobody wants to go to a food truck rally and get full off their first purchase. Only a few vendors at the event had the foresight to think of this option.

Despite thoroughly examining the menus of all the trucks, all my choices were the result of first seeing someone walking around with it and asking them where they got it. The highlight of my Taste of Two Cities experience was my next purchase. After seeing no fewer than 20 people walking around with a creamy concoction in a plastic margarita glass – complete with orange and pepper garnishes – I was informed that they were various types of gazpachos (cold soups) from the Souper-Freak truck. Although it is a Baltimore food truck, and while I’d heard of it, this was my first experience with Souper Freak. One word: Unbelievable!!! I ordered the Mexican Sweet Potato and Chile Vicheyssoise, and I could have just asked them to hook me up with an IV of the stuff.

I’ve never been a big fan of gazpachos, I think due to my limited experience with the chunky vegetable-based types. This gazpacho was pureed, topped with a dollop of sour cream, drizzled with peppered olive oil, and garnished with pickled peppers and an orange. This is the type of inventive cuisine that I was on the lookout for. Unfortunately, after this and sharing some ice cream with my now suddenly-curious and engaged 1 year old daughter, we were stuffed to the gills.

While it would be very easy to toot Baltimore’s own horn, despite their late entry into the food truck craze, an objective analysis of who won the Taste of Two Cities might be to base it off of who had the longest lines. While I did not get to sample their cuisine on this day, by far the most patient and excited customers waited in the near constant 40+ people line to get a taste of Baltimore’s own Gypsy Café food truck. Since they frequent Hampden often, I have quickly grown addicted to the Gypsy Café’s Korean Pork Tacos. If you ever see this truck in Baltimore, slam on your brakes, double-park if you have to, and try any one of their offerings and thank me later.

As for the event itself, the place was laid out well. One minor complaint would have been the lack of shaded areas. They had several shade tents with tables clustered in the middle of the affair, but it looked more like a small island packed with people, as if a nearby ship had capsized. Several more tents would have been welcomed; however, if the cleanliness and orderliness was any indication of the organizer’s abilities, this oversight will be addressed next time.

All in all, a great event, a great chance to build interest in Westport, and a great barometer of Baltimore’s fast and furious entry into the food truck craze.

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