Posts Tagged ‘profile’

Photo by: Courtney Hergesheimer - Columbus Dispatch

Profiling mobile eateries is becoming a more difficult task for us at Mobile Cuisine Magazine. With every passing day, we receive numerous emails and direct messages on Twitter. These leads and tips give us scoops about new trucks and new cities that food trucks and carts are being allowed to operate in. From Durham, NC to Portland, OR, street food vendors are opening up on a daily basis. The tough part is narrowing down who is to be covered. This is fantastic for us, since if we chose to, we could profile 5-10 trucks a day…every day.

With that said, some towns are getting more mention than others due to their fans, and our readers. One such town that is continually being referred to us is not one that jumps to the top of the list when you think about mobile food, but in our estimation, that is coming to a close very shortly.

Columbus, Ohio, home of “the” Ohio State University, is quickly gaining a name for itself within the industry and it’s community, and we have taken notice.  Although the city doesn’t have specific codes governing food trucks, mobile vendors must still obtain health department approval and a peddler’s license as well as licenses for any additional employees they may have. The Columbus traffic code states that a vehicle selling goods cannot park on the street for more than 15 minutes, thus trucks must operate on private property; pushcarts have to work by a curb and leave at least 5 feet of pedestrian sidewalk space between the cart and the adjacent building. “It’s a safety issue,” said Sharon Gadd, the city’s licensing manager.

To research for today’s profile we were able to get a list of mobile vendors from the Columbus Underground Discussion Forum. At the top of their list sat our choice for a vendor profile.

Photo from: columbusalive.com

Last year, James (Jamie) Anderson sent out an email to his restaurant (Smackies BBQ) followers, which included this snippet,I have opened three restaurants and I have closed them all. I couldn’t seem to get my blood pressure down and closing the restaurant I think has finally got me nice and calm and I think my blood pressure is right where it needs to be.

The restaurant biz will make an old man out of a young man really fast. So I have went back to my roots. ONE MAN – ONE SMOKER. I have no restaurant and no staff to babysit. Just me and my Pit, back to the basics.” And so was born Ray Ray’s Hog Pit.

The smoke coming from the corner of Pacemont and High Street, is not what you may think it is, rather, it is the smoke generated from the barbeque pit of Ray Ray’s. The pit is situated in a barbecue cart where, on a blustery day, the aroma of hickory smoked brisket carries for blocks. The cart is only open Thursday through Sunday but on those days, there is always a line. According to his fans, that is because nobody in town makes better ribs than this Pit Boss.

Photo from: columbusalive.com

Ray Ray’s orders their beef from a certified organic farmer raising Heritage cattle in Oklahoma, and smokes it with only a light seasoning of salt and pepper. Once the meat comes out of the smoker, it is rubbed with Ray Ray’s special seasoning (paprika, onion powder, and sugar) and doused with his homemade Dogfish Head Ale Barbecue Sauce, a  tangy South Carolina style sauce and is finally grilled. The menu consists of 3 meat options; ribs, brisket and pulled pork. If you make your way to this food cart on Sunday you will have the additional option of a lean grass fed beef brisket. Once you have made your selection, you have the option of three sauces, mild, hot and habanero.

The tasty side dish options are Southern style collard greens, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and coleslaw. Any of these sides will help to compliment to main course. Should you have room after your meal, there is a desert offering which normally consists of banana pudding and fruit cobbler which are all made by Jamie’s wife.

Our suggestion is if you want to be sure to get your order filled, get there early, Ray Ray’s opens at noon but, according to Jamie, he almost always sells out of his daily 100 pound grass fed allotment long before his normally scheduled closing time of 8 p.m. The cart has no website, no tables and a posted warning about their inventory: When it’s out, it’s out. But one of his followers on Yelp may have said it best, “Ray Rays what can I say, you’re my BBQ crack heaven…”

You can follow Ray Ray’s Hog Pit at Facebook.

Ray Ray's Hog Pit on Urbanspoon

Now that our cities streets are being frequented more often by taco trucks, and cupcake trucks, why not expect to start finding trucks with something really useful, like fresh fruit and vegetables?  Although not the typical food truck, we have found a truck to profile that was truly designed to help its community.

Experts call Detroit a food desert since more than half of its population must travel at twice as far to reach the nearest grocery store as they do to a fast-food restaurant or liquor store. Detroit’s limited public transportation makes it difficult for those without cars to get to farmers markets or suburban stores, and decades of population decline (from 1.8 million in the 1950s to half that now) have made most neighborhoods in the 138 square mile city too sparse to support corner produce stands.

Those who have studied the city state that people in developing countries have much better access to fresh produce than Detroit’s residents. The lack of fresh food has become a public health problem in Detroit. In a neighborhood which is has a ratio of 26 liquor stores to every grocery, a community group has found a way to sell fresh fruits and vegetables like ice cream. This group is taking a fresh approach to the problem and, it’s bearing fruit.

Five days a week, the Peaches & Greens truck winds its way through the streets as a loudspeaker plays R&B and puts out the call: “Nutritious, delicious. Brought right to you. We have green and red tomatoes, white and sweet potatoes. We have greens, corn on the cob and cabbage, too.” The truck is set up like a small market and brings affordable produce to families on public assistance, homebound seniors and others who cannot reach the well-stocked grocery chains in the suburbs.

Lisa Johanon, executive director of the nonprofit Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corp., which runs Peaches & Greens, started to investigate the idea of a mobile produce truck as a way to get fresh food into the kitchens of Detroit residents. After navigating her way through Craigslist, she was able to locate a used UPS truck for the low price of $5,000. With the help of volunteers and donations of paint, shelves and a table-top refrigerator, the vehicle, which once sported the UPS logo, was converted into a colorful collage of bananas and watermelons.

Their prices are very reasonable. A single banana sells for a quarter and an apple for 50 cents. Compare that to a $1 bag of potato chips or $1.50 can of pop, and it’s hard to argue with the truck’s cost and health benefits. “When kids don’t have a proper diet, their brains are sluggish and they don’t perform nearly as well at school. Buying an apple or an orange is a treat for kids because they are not used to having it. To them it is candy,” Johanon explained.

Photo from Carlos Osorio/AP

The truck’s route is divided into four quadrants, traveling from Interstate 75 to Linwood Avenue and from West Grand Boulevard to one mile into Highland Park. It runs from March thru December, since residents are reluctant to leave their homes during Michigan’s snowy winters. The truck is equipped with a handheld scanner to ring up purchases from food assistance recipients, who get funds transferred electronically onto a card used like a debit card. About half of its customers use food stamps.  “We’re in the process of getting approved by WIC, so people will be able to come with their WIC coupons.”

The truck operates Tuesdays through Saturdays and is stocked and driven by employees of Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation. Johanon purchases the inventory twice a week from two local sources: the Detroit Produce Terminal and Eastern Market, as well as maintains an urban garden where produce is grown and maintained by the groups volunteers.

The nonprofit organization that funds the truck, the Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation, also runs a storefront where they offer cooking classes in addition to selling produce and other healthy staples like grains, beans and dairy products.  Together, these collective initiatives are trying to transform a city from a barren food desert into a community where the pounds of carrots and plums outnumber the pop cans, beer bottles and fast food items.

 

Photo from Justin C. from Yelp

 

Rumors have been circulating for the past few months about the possibility of the owners of Fojol Bros. of Merilindia, an Indian style food truck in Washington DC, opening up a new truck in our nation’s capital. These rumors were speculating that the new truck would be serving up a different style of food to the area. As we have recently found out, the rumors were true, and their latest food truck was unveiled last weekend and its name is Fojol Bros. of Benethiopia.

If you hadn’t guessed, this truck will be serving up Ethiopian selections and Wednesday marked its first official day. This is the first Ethiopian food truck to roll onto Washington DC streets, but based on the initial reviews of the truck’s fare, it won’t be the last. Managing this new truck is Russell Bailey, a high school friend of Fojol creator Justin Vitarello. Bailey and his wife, Lula Habte, are providing their culinary skills in the mobile kitchen. Both come from culinary backgrounds. His family operated a restaurant and deli in Leesburg, VA, and Habte’s mother owned restaurants in her native Ethiopia. In fact, Habte’s mother’s berbere blend is used in some of the truck’s dishes.

Initially, this truck will be tag teaming the streets with the Fojol Bros. original curry styled food truck. “We call ourselves a traveling culinary carnival,” the 31-year-old operator Bailey says. “But one truck isn’t quite a traveling culinary carnival. Now that we have two, we feel like we are really living up to the name.”

At first glance, the only difference between the trucks is their color scheme (the Benethiopian truck shares a color theme similar to the Ethiopian flag), however once you walk up to the new truck, you are going to see a large sink that is available to its customers. The sink provides hot water, soap and paper towels. If you are not familiar with Ethiopian food, you may wonder why a sink, however if you do know about the use of injera (a spongy, pancake style bread used as utensils) the sink makes perfect sense.

The menu offers 5 items, with 3 different size options. You are able to mix and match any way your taste sees fit. As of this report, there is only one meat option; however, once the chefs find a breed of chicken that meets their requirements, the truck will begin to offer a traditional doro wat. All of the items are served with a heaping portion of injera bread to use instead of utensils, even though forks are offered for those not interested in eating with their hands.

 

Photo by Justin C. from Yelp

 

Current options include

Beef Berbere:  Ethiopian spiced beef provides a sweet heat, but won’t offend customers with a low heat pain threshold.

Meatless offerings

Berbere Lentils: Lentils served with the same spices as the beef.

Collard Greens: Not to worry vegetarians, this selection is not made with pork, but does have a mix of tomatoes and onions.

Beets and Beans: Sliced beets with green beans.

Sunflower Injera Salad: Lightly cooked sunflower seeds combined with small pieces of injera.

The concept of this vehicle is fantastic and should widen the cultural perspective of many of DC’s population by introducing them to mobile Ethiopian cuisine. Food truck owners across the nation have the ability to share international food styles with a population that is more accustomed to grabbing a 6” turkey sandwich from Subway or a BigMac and large fries from McDonalds. With the Benethiopian Truck, the Fojol Bros. have done it again and we wish them continued success.

To date the Benethiopian Truck does not have a seperate Titter feed or website, however you can follow the Fojol Bros. on Twitter or at their website.

Fojol Bros. of Merlindia on Urbanspoon

 

To follow our Meatless Monday theme, we bring you a profile of one of Los Angeles’ only vegetarian food trucks.

 

Image by Urban Sketchers

 

The Dosa Truck is the brainchild of Brooklyn born, Leena Deneroff. Ms Deneroff grew up eating from many NY food trucks as well as from other various street food vendors. She had always wanted to open a restaurant, but couldn’t afford to do so financially. The mobile food trend allowed her to fulfill her dreams in 2009. The truck’s name originates from the style of South Indian cuisine they serve. The dosa is explained on their website as, “Take a crispy sourdough crepe made from rice and lentil flour… stuff it with regional and gourmet ingredients and roll it long and thin and you’ve got a DOSA.“ In our opinion the best way to describe the dosa is to take a French crepe, introduce it to a Mexican quesadilla and then match the pair with Indian pesto.

One of the standard vegan friendly menu items is the Sita’s Surprise. This dosa comes packed with a blend of spiced sweet potatoes. If you are a vegan, be sure to ask for it or any of your other orders without chutney which contains dairy ingredients. A rotating menu item from the truck is the Shiva’s Garden which comes with a tasty blend of chopped avocados, caramelized onions, and baby heirloom tomatoes.

Although known for their dosas, the Dosa Truck does serve additional fare. They serve other Indian inspired menu items such as the Samosa. It is filled with yellow curry, peas, and potatoes. How can you go wrong with a fried shell stuffed with fluffy spiced potatoes sprinkled with fennel seeds and choice of dipping sauce?

 

Dosa Truck owner Leena Deneroff

 

While dosas and samosas are a continual menu item, the Dosa Truck also carries items such as desserts, appetizers and salads such as the Channa Chaat. This salad is a cold chickpea salad served on greens with baby tomatoes, it is a cool and refreshing compliment to all the other hot dishes featured on the truck’s menu.

No matter what you order, you will find what many of the Dosa Truck’s customers have found.  Their food is delicious enough to repeat the quote from the side of the truck “ommm good.”

Dosas are an ideal street food that you can easily eat on while you walk or shop in the area the truck is visiting.

Follow the Dosa Truck on Twitter @dosatruck, or at their website.

DOSAtruck on Urbanspoon