Tag Archives: reviews

The Raleigh International Festival – 2014

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mary_smThis past week was the Raleigh International Festival. This was my first time going. I was concerned that the traffic would be bad and there would not be parking. I arrived a few minutes before the 11 o’clock start time, and easily found a parking spot in the garage next to the event. It was a short walk across the street and I was in the venue. I had pre-purchased my ticket and was pleased that there was a short line for us.

I started talking to the woman in front of me. She was from Romania. She stated she had been to the festival yesterday and had returned today. She began telling me about the food. She said her favorite thing from the day before was the Columbia arepas, which are corn cakes made from pre-cooked corn flour, salt and water, cooled then cooked on a griddle. A sandwich is made with chicken or beef. She said there was a great tomato sauce. She said it was the most popular food booth yesterday and that they ran out of food. I knew that I must try it.

Inside there were many booths, some selling items made in their country, while others were informational. Tee shirts were for sale and of course I had to get one. I also purchased a cookbook, which vendors from the previous year had contributed their recipes.

It was time to start looking about what I wanted for lunch. There was so much to choose from. The first booth was an African booth, they had samosas stuffed with either beef or peas. Since I hate peas, I selected the beef and it was wonderful. A soft flakey crust with delicately seasoned beef inside cooked to perfection. Nearby was a Filipino booth. They had a vegetable pancit, made with rice noodles, carrots, onion, cabbage and bell peppers. I was somewhat disappointed because I wanted pancit with beef, pork, shrimp and chicken, like I had when I lived in New Jersey and had many Filipino friends. I have never been able to make it myself, and was hopeful I would get a good sampling. The vegetable was okay, but the other is spectacular. I also wanted a beef lumpia roll which is a Filipino egg roll, this is better than the traditional egg rolls, however all they had was chicken, so I passed.

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There was Thai food, Greek food, French pastries, Iranian food, Japanese food – then I came to the Lebanese booth. I saw they had Kibi on the menu. There are several types of kibi and was happy to find that they had the stuffed shell kibi. The outter shell is made with bulgar wheat and finely ground lamb along with some spices. A ball is formed, then hollowed out in the center to allow for the placement of ground or chopped lamb, onion, pine nuts and seasoning. It is then fried to a nice golden brown. I ordered it, and it looked great. I tasted it with some tzatziki sauce made from cucumber, garlic and yogurt and I felt transported back to one of my favorite restaurants in Tucson, Arizona called the Shish Kabob.   I could taste and smell the humus, baba ganoush a wonderful dip made from egg plants and sesame paste and the meat stuffed grape leaves. I looked for these items, but came away empty handed, but the wonderful kibi was enough.

My next stop was the Columbia booth. I had to try the arepas. However it was not meant to be because, they had to make everything from scratch and would not have the beef ones ready for nearly 1-2 hours. I went away empty handed. The vendor, stated he sold these items out of his home to order, however he did not have any business card to give me.

Next door was a Polish booth who was selling pierogies. I asked what kind he was selling and he stated he had only made the potato and cheese, since they were the most popular. I had gone to a Polish restaurant in New York City, close to Macy’s that had both savory and sweet pierogies, ranging from prunes, to cherry to mushroom to sauerkraut, that were fried with butter and onions.

My final stop was to the Vietnamese booth, to get some bubble tea. This was not the bubble tea that I was accustomed to. This was a strawberry sorbet with some large tapioca at the bottom. It was not too sweet and made a great end to the food sampling.

There were food demonstrations; the one at this time was for Pad Thai. There were also dancing from the various countries and people dressed in their traditional costumes. I was glad that I had stumbled on to this festival and will definitely plan on returning next year.

The Traveler

 

 

 

Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo – 3rd Edition

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Walking or driving through downtown Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street, you will pass through the business district. Fayetteville Street is tree lined with many benches and tables, giving you an opportunity to relax and enjoy the diversity that has attracted many businesses and residents to call Raleigh, North Carolina their headquarters and home. If, by chance, you are a resident of the greater Triangle Area, you are aware of a myriad of festivals and events that use the Raleigh Downtown district as their backdrop. These events attract thousands of participants from around the state, as well as from around the country. There are several activities to participate in on any given weekend. Once you decide what peaks your interest you can avoid the parking hassles by taking Uber.

For Triangle Street Eats, our vice happens to be food trucks. We have found the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo with its energetic atmosphere and numerous food trucks offering diverse flavors to be an event worth attending, again and again.

Attendees are often left to navigate a labyrinth of food trucks and crowds, in order to sample the wonderful fare offered by nearly 50 venders. There are locally crafted beers that can be sampled as well. When you see how the Downtown District is used as a backdrop for this event, you will understand why this event is so popular. If you haven’t had an opportunity to participate in a Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo, and have been meaning to, you have one more opportunity to do so this year on Sunday, October 12, from 1pm – 6pm.

As is typical for larger events, The Friends started to form a plan-of-action a week or so in advance. Since we have sampled fare from many of the food truck participants, we tried very diligently to sample from those we hadn’t tried yet, as well as from a few tried and true. Below you will find the results of our effort, as well as their links. It is important to appreciate some of what we sampled was specifically offered for the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo attendees, as is not necessarily part of their regular menu.


 

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Food Trucks We Visited:

From Virgil’s Jamaica, the Belle and I had sampled the Jerked Chicken before. I enjoyed this flavorful island dish, and asked the Traveler to try it for herself. She said that it was moist and to her liking, but could have used more heat.

From King Creole, we had the blackened pork chop, which again the Belle and myself had sampled at the 2nd Food Truck Rodeo, but the Traveler had not. She commented that it was wonderful in both taste and portion size. She will definitely repeat.

From Hanu Food Truck we sampled the B.S. (Brussel sprouts). They were incredible with a creative medley of flavors. Look forward to having these again, since none of us eat enough greens. We also sampled their duck dumplings, which were delight flavorful, and the dipping sauce was sweet and tangy.

From Parlezvous Crepe, we had a savory special, which is not a regular menu item. It consisted of a delicate crepe, wrapped around smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill and onion. Highly recommended by the friends

Dank Burrito Truck offered jerk chicken tacos, which was one of my favorites of the event. The Traveler commented that it was spicy and great tasting. She loved the moistness of the chicken and would definitely eat it again. A glowing review if ever there was one.

We sampled the truffle mac bites from Olio & Aceto before, and had them again at the Raleigh Downtown Food Truck Rodeo. As they were previously, they were to our collective liking and would recommend them to anyone looking for gooey goodness.

From Mama Dukes, we sampled their breaded shrimp. They were tasty but would have preferred more shrimp and less fries and salad. $10 for only 5 shrimp is over-priced.

From Barone Meatball we sampled the crab balls. We collectively determined that they had too much filler, and seemed slightly undercooked.

From American Meltdown, one of most popular food truck in the Triangle, we sampled their Pigs & Figs. It is no wonder that this is one of their more popular sandwiches – very sweet, smooth and moist.

From Gussy’s Greeks, we sampled Greek Lasagna and gyro. The lasagna was not spicy enough. The béchamel sauce was light and fluffy, but lacked flavor. The gyro, on the other hand was very good, loved the meat and sauce.

The sheer amount of food that can be sampled at one of these events can be overwhelming. Try as we did, it was impossible to taste more than we did, even when we paced ourselves. One thing is certain, to experience one of these events first-hand is a must if you want to get a feel for the extraordinary phenomena culture surrounding food trucks, and all things related, like this blog. Stay hungry my friends!

The Traveler, Southern Belle and Bad Boy

 

 

 

Halal Brothers at Park-It in the Market

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mary_smThe Traveler:

During my travels, I have had the opportunity to experience many different types of food. While living in the UP of Michigan, I became friends with a wonderful woman from Pakistan, named Aisha. She was happy to share her culture with me. We would take trips to Milwaukee so she could obtain Halal food items to cook for her family and fortunately for me. I was introduced to wonders of Halal Pakistani cuisine.

When I looked at the list of food trucks that would be at the Holly Springs Food Truck rodeo, I was both surprised and pleased. I knew immediately I wanted to sample and review the Halal Brothers Food Truck and took the lead on deciding what we should order. I could not access the Halal menu from their website so I emailed and received the items which would be served. The truck is operated by, Sameer Cheema, Nabeel Cheema and Dominick Stellato, who have relocated to the Raleigh area from Woodstock New York.

I selected Nihari. Nihari is a Pakistani stew consisting of slow cooked beef or lamb garnished to taste and served with rice and naan. The word Nihar originated from the Arabic word “Nahar” which means “morning” after sunrise Fajr prayers. This dish was usually eaten in the early morning.

Halal’s beef stew was fork tender and very flavorful. It was served with rice, lettuce and tomato. The menu stated it was garnished with ginger, jalapenos and ginger, but I did not find those items in our dish. Never the less it was a great dish, that I will be asking my friend Aisha to share her recipe with me to make at home.

The second dish was going to be Biryani, but regretfully it was not available. This is a delicious Pakistani/Indian rice dish, which is often reserved for very special occasions such as weddings, parties, or holidays such as Ramadan. It has a lengthy preparation, but the work is definitely worth it.

Our next selection was a Seekh kabob made with beef and lamb, served with lettuce, rice tomatoes, pita and sauce. A Seekh kabob is a Pakistani and Indian dish, somewhat similar to a shish kebob, which consist of ground meat and spices pressed on to a skewer and cooked on charcoal stove. These kebabs are traditionally cooked using a tandoor, which is a type of oven popular throughout Pakistan, India and the Middle East. There are other types of ovens and grills can work just as well.

I found the Seekh kabob to be tough and slightly dry. I prefer the kabob made with lamb, they are more tender and flavorful. I prefer a heavier hand on the traditional spices, but I will give the chefs the benefit of the doubt assuming they have been modified for the North Carolina palate.

The Falafel was not available so was given Baingan which is a unique yet tasty way of making eggplants and Saag. Saag can be made from spinach, mustard leaves, finely chopped broccoli, or other greens along with added spices. The dishes tasted very good. The only suggestion I would make, would be to use some type of garnish to make the dish more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. A majority of the North Carolinians who attend food truck rodeos are not familiar with the dish.

The Bad Boy and the Belle wanted to sample the beef gyro, the Tawa chicken sandwich and Hummus. The beef gyro needed more sauce. It was an average gyro to my palate. I did not care for the Tawa chicken sandwich. I felt both sandwiches needed more seasoning.

Tawa Chicken is a spicy and succulent quick fix boneless chicken dish that can be prepared in just minutes. Tawa stands for flat-pan or a saucepan. So the literal translation of the name is saucepan chicken. It goes beautifully with fries or potato wedges and some sauce/ketchup or a dip, but can also be served with a simple salad for a healthier twist. This chicken can also be shredded and used as a sandwich filler or a pizza topping. I would suggest adding the salad to their menu. I would also like to see other types of kabobs and roti.

The Hummus was average, once again lacking in seasoning and slightly thick in texture. It was just okay.

I hope the Halal truck will add special items to their menu, since there are so many great Pakistani dishes to sample. I look forward to periodically following this food truck to see if they have followed any of my suggestions

bruce_smBad Boy:

Admittedly, this was my first experience with Halal Pakistani cuisine. I knew beforehand that because of similar spice pallets I had been introduced to, I would find it enjoyable. It could be argued I am always up for a challenge when it comes to cuisine. Reading through the menu, I was both confused, as well as intimidated by what I was getting into. Once I saw the food, I realized there was little about it that was unfamiliar.

The Nihari, a Pakistani stew consisting of slow cooked beef or lamb, reminded me immediately of one of my favorite Cuban dishes, Ropa Vieja, with a similar spice flavoring. I found this dish delightful, and would feel comfortable recommending it to someone familiar with Cuban style food.

The Seekh kabob, which is made with beef and lamb, as in the above dish, resembles more a sausage, than what those of us familiar with kabobs would expect. Though the meat seemed dry, I found it flavorful and distinctive to anything I have had before. I will look forward to sampling Seekh kabob again soon.

The Tawa Chicken, served like a gyro, was one of my favorites. The chunky styled, hearty seasoned chicken went well with a pita wrap, along with a creamy sauce, lettuce and tomato. It was very satisfying, especially if you are a fan of gyros, as I am.

The beef gyro was typical of most gyros, except the meat was spicier and chunky, instead of sliced. The gyro is a very popular food found among food trucks. I suggest you try the beef gyro from Halal Brothers for a culinary comparison. You will not be disappointed.

Side Dishes

The Baingan, a spicy stewed eggplant was surprisingly tasty.

The Saag was not unlike collard or other greens that are popular among residents in North Carolina. I found these a little too mushy for my taste.

The Hummus was uneventful, which is how I feel about Hummus in general anyways.

One of the things that surprised me about the Halal Brothers food truck was the size of it. The thing is huge! The size allows them to provide one of the most diversified menus among other food trucks I have seen. Please take an opportunity to widen your own culinary horizons by visiting Halal Brothers food truck and sampling one or more of the unique fares they offer – I recommend the Nihari. Stay hungry my friends…Bad Boy.

s_belle_smSouthern Belle:

I am familiar with gyros and humus from the Halal Bros Food Truck but I had no idea about other choices available on their menu. I was glad The Traveler made the selections for my introduction to Pakistani cuisine. Nihari and Tawa Chicken were my favorite choices from Halal Bros. The Nihari was served over yellow rice. The meat was very tender and had a pleasant blend of spices that made it very flavorful. The Tawa chicken was spicy and juicy and served as a gyro. Seekh kabob was a combination of beef and lamb flavored with nice spices that I wasn’t used to but liked. Like The Traveler, the kabobs were on the dry side. The beef gyro and humus were average. I feel a little more sauce on both the Tawa chicken and beef gyro would have made them tastier. Since you eat with your eyes first, imagine my surprise when I tasted the unappealing, mush looking Baingan. It had a unique flavor and was very good. Overall, I really enjoyed our choices from the Halal Bros. Food Truck.

bobcat_smBob:

This food made me feel like I was once again living in Michigan. I liked the beef gyro and the Seekh kabob. They were very tasty. I loved the stewed beef and nearly managed to eat it all before Jack ran me off. I did not bother trying the chicken, humus or vegetables. Jack does not know it, but he is scheduled for neutering on September 4. Hehehe!

Jack_smJack:

I ate everything, but did not really care for the eggplant, spinach or hummus. I loved the chicken, beef and the kabob. I ate part of Bobs. I am a growing boy and need lots of food. Bob is old, fat and grumpy. I think Mom likes me best.


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Park-it in the Market Food Truck Rodeo at Holly Springs

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Food truck rodeo events are springing up everywhere, every weekend. It is amazing how this concept has become such a phenomenon throughout the Triangle area. What seems to be just as amazing is the diversity of food that can be found at each one. Belle as usual discovered the food truck rodeo, Park-It in the Market Food Truck Rodeo, to be held at the Holly Springs Farmer’s Market. What was unique about this one was that it combined a food trucks with their Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market. The market was filled with venders selling homegrown fruits, vegetables, flowers, mushrooms, soaps, food and more for visitors. It is also interesting to note that this will be an annual event, yet another first!

At first, it seemed that the attendance was hampered by a light drizzled that lingered in the morning. As the weather improved, a crowd started to form. Since the rodeo started at 9 am, we headed straight to the food trucks to check out our choices for breakfast. Belle and the Bad Boy got in line for waffles. Having waiting for some for the opportunity to sample the waffles prepared by Belgian Waffology, the Belle and Bad Boy ordered the sweet strawberry waffles. This food truck has one of the best following in the Triangle, and it is no wonder. Golden, crispy and delicate, they provide a delectable medium for strawberries and whipped cream. The Traveler on the other hand wanted something more savory. At Big Mike’s BBQ, she found Big Mike grilling a homemade sausage for himself and asked him to fix one for her too.

While dining, Belle, The Traveler and Bad Boy shared a table with Tamara Ward, the Communications Specialist for the Town of Holly Springs, and one of her young sons. They were enjoying the ‘choco waffle,’ another one of Belgin Waffology’s specialties that infuses chocolate right into the waffle itself. We took a minute to share our thoughts on our choices. Like Belle and Bad Boy, Tamara and her son enjoyed the hearty sweetness of their waffle choices. The Traveler shared that the sausage was seasoned well, with the right amount of heat and she was enjoying her breakfast sausage biscuit. The friends also used this time to finalize plans for the rest of the day. The Traveler headed off for an appointment and would be joining Belle and Bad Boy later for lunch. We collectively had planned on enjoying breakfast, then get a modest sampling from Halal Bros, a Pakistani inspired food truck to have for lunch and to use in our next review, coming out later in the week.


 

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Belle and Bad Boy decided to take time to stroll through the market before placing orders for lunch. They took home handmade soaps, award winning baklava and cinnamon buns to have with Sunday morning coffee. After making these purchases, Belle and Bad Boy headed over to put in the orders for The Friends’ lunch at Halal Bros and Valentino’s for pale ale poppers as appetizers. These poppers definitely lived up to their reputation of being hot and flavorful.

The morning was a great way to spend a Saturday morning in a quaint town talking with people and appreciating small town life.

The Traveler, Belle and Bad Boy.

Wake Forest Food Truck Rodeo

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bruce_sm In this edition of Pounding Pavement, we review the first Wake Forest Food Truck Rodeo. 15 miles north of Raleigh is a community steeped in southern pride and charm, a community rich with heritage and societal tolerance, the Town of Wake Forest. This community recently hosted its first Food Truck Rodeo to an overwhelming success. The event was held at the Renaissance Center, 419 South Brooks St. The location, a mall parking lot that has a bowling alley and classic car dealership, gave ample room needed to facilitate the event. The occasion was largely the effort of food truck vender, Virgil and Taffy Wilson, of Virgil’s Jamaica.

The Belle and I arrived early. The traveler was not able to attend due to a previous engagement. It had been raining since about 10 am, but we were certain that the skies would clear, and the afternoon would be dryer. We were not disappointed. As was usual, we had arrived about 30 minutes early, and took the opportunity to network and decide a plan-of-action; whose food were we going to try and who was going to get our choices. We found the food extraordinarily diverse in both taste and ethnicity; a plus for any event whose foundation is food.

Within 30 minutes, much to our astonishment, a crowd had swelled to fill nearly all of the allotted area encircling the venue. Lines were forming at all the food trucks, and people seemed to be enjoying the cooler than forecasted afternoon. My mind had started to refrain a line from a popular movie that declared, “If you build it, they will come.” Certainly, this event’s attendance will have to be used as the benchmark upon which all other events in Wake Forest will be measured a success.

Because Virgil Wilson was instrumental in making this event possible, it was only fair we sample selections from Virgil’s Jamaica. Our other selections included pizza from Pie Pushers, Tailgater Toby’s BBQ, and Turtle Brownies, sweet treat from Lady Bug’s Treats (a twitted recommendation from Not Just Icing and The Wandering Sheppard). Having grown up in a region of the US, where the Caribbean was my backyard, I am no stranger to ‘Jamaican jerk’ and it enticing flavor of spices. We sampled Virgil’s jerk chicken with dirty-rice and plantains, another food that I am familiar with. I found the jerk flavor liking to my pallet. An excellent rendition of jerk seasoning I remember so fondly from my youth. I also sampled a meat pie, which I am also familiar with and I found this fare genuinely Jamaican, and to my liking as well.


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The Belle and I chose Pie Pushers ‘Bacon N Brie,’ which also had mild peppers to sample. This vender is one of the Triangle’s more popular food trucks, and it is no mystery why. Fresh from the oven, the slices are a hearty, generous portion, a meal unto itself. The crust is thin and crispy, much to our liking. The bacon and brie was a flavorful combination. As Belle says “everything is better with bacon.”

No self-respecting food rodeo in the Triangle would be complete without at least one vender serving BBQ. It was up to Tailgater Toby to carry the BBQ ball! The Belle selected a BBQ pork sandwich, which came with two sides; coleslaw and potato salad. This sample was very good and hearty as well. We both agreed that the red potato salad was above average.

To satisfy our sweet tooth later in the evening, we each got a different sampling from Lady Bug’s Treats. Belle selected the Turtle Brownies, while I chose the Carrot Cake. We found both selections excellent and satisfying. We not only left the rodeo with our evening desserts but also Tee shirts from the House of Swank.

Though this event was touted as Wake Forest’s first Food Truck Rodeo Event, It is this participant’s hope that it will be looked upon as Wake Forest’s First Annual Food Truck Rodeo.            Stay hungry my friends…

The following food trucks were in attendance for the event:

Profile: Hugh Mokry of Green Olive Deli

hughTriangle Street Eats is developing a new series that profiles owners of food trucks. The first of these series profiles Hugh Mokry of Green Olive Deli, a newcomer to the Triangle food truck scene. We caught up with him at Sub Noir Brewing one afternoon, while reviewing his fare for our blog. You can find his review here. If you are a food truck operator, and you would like for us to tell your story, please contact us at Triangle Street Eats. We would love to hear from you.

My story is short and sweet. I have always liked cooking and feeding people. I think when you share food with someone; you are able to connect to them, being if it’s only for a few minutes of contact, especially if your food satisfies their hunger. I was in the automotive business for 35+ years. After selling my business, I decided to turn my hobby and passion into a small business.

I also enjoy helping the local anti hunger efforts, from volunteering at food shelters, to buying pre-packaged groceries, to making food and monetary donations to Raleigh or Durham rescue. I also try to remind people that the problem of hunger exists, and what they can do to help.

Thanks for your interest.

Green Olive Deli – Hugh Mokry

Contact Information:

Facebook – Greenolivedelifoodtruck

Twitter – @godelift

Email – greenolivedeli@gmail.com

Green Olive Deli Gets the Green Light

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There has been an influx of new restaurants and food trucks in the Triangle area recently. On Friday we had the opportunity to eat at the Cowfish. It is a trendy eatery combining burgers and sushi resulting in a very interesting menu. The service was top notch and the food did not disappoint.

Belle was still recovering from her cataract surgery on Thursday, Jack from his appointment at the Vet, getting more of his vaccinations; and the traveler from acupuncture treatments for her back, but we decided to try one of the new food trucks serving lunch at the Sub Noir Brewery. The Green Olive Deli has been up and running for approximately 3 weeks. The owner, Hugh Mokry makes simple food taste exquisite in his neon green food truck. He transforms bread from a grocery chain, into bread that could have been purchased at a fine bakery.   His use of fresh ingredients are transformed in to gastronomical delights.

mary_smTraveler:

The Green Olive Deli offered a variety of sandwich selections. I being part Italian ordered the Italian Beef sandwich. I know good Italian Beef since it was a staple at our house growing up. The bread was soft and held up to the ingredients piled upon it. The beef was tender, moist and flavorful; with pieces of sweet green peppers on top. On the side was a spicy giardiniera. Italian giardiniera is also called “sotto aceti”, which means “under vinegar”, a common term for pickled foods. It is typically eaten as an antipasto or with salads. In the United States, giardiniera is commonly available in traditional or spicy varieties, and the latter is sometimes referred to as “Hot Mix”. I loved the Green Olive’s version of the Italian Beef. It was as good as what I make at home.

I also ordered the Hummus topped with tabouli salad on a grilled Caiabatta roll. Both the hummus and tabouli were perfectly season and balanced, and beautifully presented. For those not familiar with Mediterranean cuisine; Hummus is dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.   Tabouli is traditionally made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Bulgur is often added to the dish; some variations add garlic or lettuce, or use couscous instead of bulgur.

The Jambon Beurre selected by Belle had a wonderful French ham with butter, mayonnaise and mustard on a French baguette. The flavor combination was wonderful.

The Chicken Panini ordered by the Bad Boy was your typical panini sandwich. The chicken was okay, but did not have the flavor experience as did the Italian, the Jambon Beurre and the hummus tabouli combination. I would suggest adding a sauce or relish to give it that extra special element.

My suggestion to the Green Olive would be to simplify your menu, definitely keeping the Italian beef, Jambon Beurre and the hummus/tabouli combo and possibly the chicken and then have a daily special.

s_belle_smSouthern Bell:

Julia Child once said, “Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.” Hugh of the Green Olive Deli Food Truck exemplifies this very statement. The friends were not disappointed with any of our selections. As they say, you eat first with your eyes and Hugh is an artist when it comes to presentation of food served on a paper tray. One look at each selection from the Green Olive Deli made you think you were going to have a scrumptious eating adventure. Each of the sandwiches were served with a side of tabouli salad and baby carrots. The Hummus was a mixture of textures with smooth hummus on a piece of crisp toasted Caiabatta and topped with tabouli salad.

The hummus was a tasty starter with a nice bright flavor. My favorite sandwich was the Jambon Beurre which consisted of French ham and butter. This was a very nice offering with just the perfect combination of flavors. The Traveler’s selection of the Italian Beef was a hearty sandwich full of moist, favorable meat. The chicken panini was nicely done but lack the “umph” of the other selections; maybe a little mayo or pesto would have made a difference. Before I had the Tabouli salad from the Green Olive I was not a fan of tabouli but Hugh’s redemption of this dish has changed my mind.

The crowd was small while we were at Sub Noir and this gave us an opportunity to meet Hugh, the owner of the Green Olive Deli. He shared his story with us along with the history of his bright green truck he has lovingly named “Ziggy”. Although Hugh described his selections as peasant food, it is definitely fit for a king.

bruce_smBad Boy:

Passion, It’s what separates us from beast, isn’t it? I believe that if more people had a passion about anything, then the world could be a better place, and society would be more cohesive. An example of this would be Hugh Mokry’s passion for his simple, yet delicious sandwiches and cleverly inspired sides. Also, learning about his passion to stifle hunger, and draw attention to it here in our area through his modest upstart business, Green Olive Deli Food Truck, was heartwarming as well.

Team Triangle Street Eats had the opportunity to sample his fare and chat with him about his new business venture. What we found was a man passionate about community and making a difference. Here at Triangle Street Eats, we too are passionate about helping small, independent business becoming successful, and making a contribution to our community in return. I believe it goes without saying, we have met a like-minded individual in Hugh Mokry.

It was a slow Saturday afternoon at Sub Noir, especially if you consider that upon our first visit, which was their 1st Anniversary party, patrons had all but overwhelmed the resources of the “boutique brewery.” Not being discouraged, we found a place under a small pop-up, and looked over the menu.

We had decided to sample the Italian Beef Sandwich, the Jambon Beurre, as well as a Roasted Chicken Panini. We also sampled his signature side, Hummus topped with tabouli salad, over grilled Caiabatta bread. All of which were very good. As I enjoyed our selections, I had a pint of Sub Nior’s Hi-yo, Saison, which I had fallen in love with on my first visit.

It might interest readers of our blog that we have updated our Triangle Area Food Truck Index Page. Please visit our latest version, complete with newcomers to the food truck community, as well as links to trucks we have already reviewed…Stay hungry my friends!

Jack_smJack:

I liked it all except the green stuff, but liked the taste of the spread under it. I even tried to eat Bob’s share. I am always hungry, since I am a growing boy.

Mom took me to the Vet on Friday. She said I had to come back in September for something she called neutering. I asked my brother Bob what neutering was, but he only smiled telling me I would find out soon enough. I am not sure if I should be worried.

bobcat_smBob:

I liked the chicken just the way it was. I am not a huge fan of vegetables, but liked the beef from the sandwich. I refused to try the hummus/tabouli salad combo. If I want to eat something green I prefer catnip or grass. I loved the ham and even ate the bread.

My brother Jack is a real pain.  He tries to steal my food, wants to play all of the time, bites my tail but I know something he doesn’t know; what N-E-U-T-E-R-I-N-G means.  You know what they say about paybacks…. after IT happens maybe he will not pester me as much.


 

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Philly’s Cheesesteak at Draft Line Brewing Co. Grand Opening

Clone of philly


Street Eats. We are all familiar with its recent evolution, as well as the surge in the popularity of curbside cuisine. Chefs are using imagination to develop their own specialties to entice customers to experience something that was once only available in brick-and-mortar bistros. Dynamic delicacies from rolling kitchens have created a culture of faithful followers, who are loyal to each one. Evidence suggests that this trend will continue to grow at a pace that is exponentialin the future. This is very encouraging for both, patrons, as well as the entrepreneurs who have decided to break with traditional foods, and develop a menu line that is unique and vibrant. But what about the traditional street eats, and where do they fit into the dynamic of this popular culture? It is the mission of Team Triangle Street Eats to explore all of the aspects that make up food truck cuisine, and give it a fair and impartial review. In this edition, we visited one such staple of the food truck industry, the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich.

We planned on attending the Draft Line Brewing Company’s grand opening in Fuquay-Varina on June 28th. We had also anticipated that we would be able to select from ample food trucks, but as fate would have it, several that were scheduled to attend experienced mechanical problems, leaving just one food truck, Philly’s Cheesesteak. Some things are just meant to be.

bruce_smBad Boy:

The Belle and I arrived at Draft Line Brewing Co. a little before noon. It would a little while before the Traveler would be joining us. A crowd had already started to form for the grand opening. I had looked over the line of crafted beers, and had decided on the Hemmings Pilsner for a ‘primer’. I’m more a Lager/Pilsner drinker, than a PA/IPA drinker. It was evident that only Philly’s Cheesesteak truck was the only one to make it to the grand opening that afternoon. The others who had been scheduled had reported on twitter that they had problems, and would not be able to attend.

The menu for Philly’s Cheesesteak was straightforward, plain chicken or steak or chicken cheese sandwich, or cheesesteak sandwich. There was also a veggie sandwich. You could have it topped with onions, peppers and/or sweet peppers. There was also a side of fries, or cheese fries. We opted for chicken cheese sandwich and cheesesteak sandwich, with a side of fries to sample from. I had optioned mine with Provolone Cheese, mushrooms and onions.

All the sandwiches, chicken and steak, were hearty and satisfying, especially with a good crafted beer. The fries were firm and crispy. It was good food and went well with the festivities. I must admit, when you consider that choices were limited, everything worked out – especially the food.

mary_sm The Traveler:

The Draft Line Brewery had planned an outstanding event with Sol Tacos, Valentino’s, Philly’s Cheese Steaks, Red Eye BBQ, Deli-icious, Jam and Stephens. However sometimes even the best laid plans go awry.   I had my food selections picked only to find that Sol Taco and Valentino’s were not coming due to problems with their trucks. I have no idea why Red Eye BBQ failed to show up.

The Philly Cheese Steak truck was the only food truck, and were super busy.  There was a small cart which was serving hot dogs, sausages and pizza.  I opted for a plain steak with raw onion and mushrooms.  I am on a diet so had left off the cheese.  The sandwich was okay, it was not the cheese steak I had sampled in Philly.  It lacked seasoning.  I probably should have added the green peppers, and this would have improved the flavor.  The steak was of good quality and was tender.

Belle had selected the chicken cheese steak.  It too was under seasoned.  The meat to bread ratio was good.  The French fries were awesome.

The cheese steak with provolone, onion and mushroom did not bring back the memories of the cheese steaks I had eaten while living in Pennsylvania.

The band, Camp Ground was good.  I enjoyed their music.  I did have the opportunity to meet Paul and his lovely wife Susie.  I hope to meet up with them again to continue getting to know them better.  There was not enough outside seating present at the event and hopefully at Draft Line’s next event this will be rectified.   Parking was ample and well organized.  All in all a very pleasant day despite the overcast weather, spent with friends.

s_belle_smSouthern Belle:

It was evident from the time we arrived that Draft Line Brewing had put a lot of thought into organizing their grand opening.  The attendant at the gate made my day when he asked to see my ID.  He then went on to explain the coupon system for the tap room and outside stations.  Thus eliminating the frustration of standing in line to purchase a beer to only find out you needed a coupon not cash.

Due to the mechanical problems being experienced by two of the scheduled food trucks Philly’s Cheesesteak was the lone food truck.  So why not turn this into a truck review opportunity.   While waiting for The Traveler to arrive, I walked over to check out the menu and discovered pads of order sheets and pencils available.  Since Philly’s sandwiches are made to order (you have all kinds of combos and add-in choices), this made ordering easy.  It also assured the customer received the correct sandwich.  All three of our sandwiches were exactly as ordered and they also accommodated us by cutting our sandwiches into thirds so we could sample each of the three we ordered. I found our cheesesteak selections to be flavorful with plenty of meat on good bread.  Both the beef and chicken were tasty, tender and moist.  The ratio of meat to add-ins was just right.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with our sandwiches.  However, I am not a Philly cheesesteak connoisseur so I’ll stick to 3 Tires for each of our selections.  I was delighted to see fries on the menu instead of a bag of chips.  Philly’s are “real” fries.  They were hand cut and fried to perfection.

bobcat_smBob:

I liked the steak. It was cut into thin slices and easy to eat. I liked the provolone cheese, but had no use for the onions or mushrooms. While the bread was soft and not soggy, I left it. I do not like chicken so I did not bother to even sample it. I did not eat the fries, even though they were expertly cooked.

Jack_smJack:

I loved the chicken cheese steak, eating everything except the veggies and bread. I enjoyed both the plain and the cheese steak. The meat was wonderful. I loved the taste and ate until I could eat no more. I left the bread, French fries and veggies, because I am a growing boy and I need the protein.


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Deli-icious at Chatham Street Chowdown

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The Friends decided to make the Chatham Street Chowdown a twofold event. We went to enjoy the fun and camaraderie of a food truck rodeo and to also take the opportunity to do a food truck review. After reviewing the online menus (that were available) for the participating trucks, we decided on Deli-icious. Both the menu, which looked like it had something for everyone, (meat lover, vegetarian, and vegan) and the name, Deli-icious, a truck specializing in paninis seemed intriguing. They are not your standard turkey, ham, and roast beef on a baguette – this truck makes it interesting not only with their paninis but also with their “more yummys.” The Friends selected three paninis: Smokey and the Bandit, Cubano, and Lucky – along with one “yummy”: watermelon gazpacho.

s_belle_smSouthern Belle:

Each of the paninis came with a side of baby carrots. Baby carrots instead of chips are a novel idea – a crunch like chips but refreshing like a salad. The paninis were good size and the bread was just like I like it, crispy outside and soft inside. My favorite was the Lucky with slow roasted pulled chicken with provolone, apple and a spicy cranberry mayo. This panini was on point. The ingredients were fresh and complimented each other well. When I took a bite of the Cubano it did make me recall trips to South Florida and the Cuban sandwiches I had tasted there. The meat was moist and flavorful and neither the pickles nor mustard over powered it. The Cubano was a very nice blend of flavors. For me, Smokey and the Bandit was just average. The chicken in this panini came across on the dry side and I would say overall it was kind of bland. I expected more kick from the chipotle mayo. As far as any gazpacho goes, I can take it or leave it. The watermelon gazpacho was cool and light but I felt it needed more watermelon flavor.

 mary_smTraveler:

During the Chowdown at the Cary Food Truck Rodeo, I had the opportunity to sample selections from the Deli-icious Food Truck. My sandwich was the sandwich called Smokey and the Bandit. The roll was good, and did not get soggy from the sandwich ingredients. The chicken was slightly over-cooked, needing a dressing of some type to add moisture to the sandwich. The avocado was green and the tomatoes were flavorful, but could have used some salt and pepper. The sandwich had an ample amount of meat and filling.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Cubano sandwich. The pork was cooked to perfection and was tender and moist. The mustard and the dill pickles were good and did not overpower the overall flavor of the sandwich. I would purchase this again.

The Lucky sandwich was okay, but the chicken was not as dry due to the cranberry mayonnaise. Once again the bun was full bodied and great for a sandwich. It was good, but I am not a big chicken eater, and prefer beef and pork over chicken.

The watermelon gazpacho had a good flavor. I could taste, or at least I thought I tasted garlic, tomato, olive oil, cilantro and of course watermelon. This gazpacho was more savory, than what I make myself, and could have used some salt. I really am not a heavy salt user, but a small amount makes everything taste better.

bruce_smBadboy:

Paninis are a popular sandwich style that can incorporate any small bread loafs, as well as an array of middle-matter. There are, of course those who would argue that the true “Panini” is pressed by a grill, but that is more a distinct variation. Deli-icious uses a baguette, and a very hearty one at that. Add to that hearty portions of chicken, pork and roast beef, and then finished off with fresh traditional toppings and cheese. The Deli-licious Panini is a mealtime must.

Of the fore-mentioned sandwiches, I enjoyed the Cubano the most. It closest resembles the traditional ‘Cuban-mix” that I have enjoyed countless times in my South Florida past. Succulent roasted pork, complimented by whole grain mustard and Swiss cheese made for an excellent experience

My next favorite was the Smokey and the Bandit. A hearty portion of roasted chicken breast, avocado and provolone cheese. I found the chicken a little on the dry side, but found that the ripe avocado made up for it with tender enhancement to both flavor and texture.

The Lucky, wasn’t so much – at lest for me. As above, a hearty portion of roasted chicken was left dry, with very little to give it any zeal.

I have never had Watermelon Gazpacho, but I do enjoy the summer fruit almost everyday when in season. It was tangy, as well as smooth. The flavor was unexpected, and delightful, though admittedly, I’m not Mr. Gazpacho, I felt the sweet and smooth watermelon provided a tangy tone down, a refreshing departure from regular Gazpacho.

bobcat_sm Bob

I liked the Cubano sandwich, minus the pickles the best. I left the bread, devoured the pork. I like my Mom, the Traveler do not eat chicken, so I chose to ignore both of the chicken sandwiches. Maybe if you added cheese, I would have sampled it. I do not like watermelon, so I walked away from the gazpacho. I do like ice cream, but it was too hot for the ice cream to make it home from the rodeo. Maybe next time Mom can buy some especially for me.

Jack

I eat anything. I loved it all. When mom is eating, she has to fight me off from her plate, when she is sitting on the couch watching TV. I am always hungry and can’t seem to get full, because I am bouncy like my idol Tigger. Mom tells me I am like an old commercial about Life Cereal. Instead of Mikey, she says give it to Jack, he will eat anything. Mom is going to take some pictures of me, Bob too so everyone can see how I am growing.


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Lowdown on Chatham Street Chowdown

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The Chatham Street Chowdown, Cary’s first food truck rodeo, was held in the heart of the downtown. There were 15 food trucks along with craft beers from Fortnight Brewing Company and wine choices from Chatham Hill Winery. Live music was also provided during the rodeo. In addition some of the local merchants opened their stores showing their support for the event. The atmosphere was that of a community block party showcasing Downtown Cary. Although this was a first time event, it was well executed and we could tell there had been a lot of behind the scene planning prior to “going live.” The Friends were very pleased with the ample seating available, recycling bins, and the presence of EMS and police.

The dreary start to the day didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of The Friends as they headed off to the Chatham Street Chowdown. As usual we had done a little pre-rodeo planning and were ready to put our plan in action when we arrived. But too our dismay, the online menus were not what the food trucks were preparing for the day. While there were plenty of food trucks to satisfy our appetites and give us a large variety of delicacies to delight our palates, we had adjust our plans to the actual menus. Perhaps with future events, which is sure to happen based on the turn out, maps of the truck’s locations and a highlight menu will be provided.

mary_sm Traveler

This food rodeo brought back memories of living in Louisiana. I love good boudin, but it is not readily available in North Carolina. For those of you not familiar with this treat, boudin, the king of Cajun food, is my favorite thing in the world to eat. It is a unique food in that it can be breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, or car food. No two boudins are exactly alike—that’s amazing, considering they all have basically the same ingredients of rice and pork.

While in line for the boudin from Baton Rouge Cuisine, I started talking to the man in line behind me. I asked him where he was from. He told me he was from Alexandria. I started laughing; telling him it was a small world because I too had lived in Alexandria. We talked about great food, favorite restaurants, such as Pre Jeans and the Country Tyme Store in Lake Charles, where to get the best cracklings or boudin. He told me that the LSU Alumni Associate had a yearly Crayfish Boil and it was open to everyone. He said they cooked nearly 400 lbs of crayfish for the event. I have already made a notation on my calendar.

Olio and Aceto made a great truffle macaroni bite. It was made to order, so it was hot and sticky, a delight to the taste buds; a true gastronomical wonder. This is a wonderful comfort food.

debbieSunday was a day to make new friends. Debbie and her husband Ron joined our table and were happy to talk about their food. Ron had selected Jambalaya from the Baton Rouge Food truck. He said it was very good, giving it a 3 out of 4 tires. Debbie had selected the chicken Pita from Gussy’s Greek Street Food, since she liked less spicy food. She loved the tzatziki sauce. Ron had considered ordering the boudin, so I parted with a piece so they could taste it. They loved it, giving it a 4.

The Cary Food Truck Rodeo was a great success and l hope it becomes a regular event, to bring the community together, as they did at this event.

s_belle_smSouthern Belle:

When we arrived, I headed off to get us a table and The Traveler and Bad Boy each went off in different directions to gather our food selections. I found us the perfect spot in the center of the rodeo, in the shade and close enough to the bandstand to have music for our dining experience. I waited patiently for my friends to return with the goodies. The Traveler dropped off Boudin Balls from Baton Rouge Cuisine before she went on to get the Slaw Plate (barbeque and slaw) from the Humble Pig and Truffled Mac and Cheese bites from Olio and Aceto. When the Bad Boy finally arrived with a selection of paninis and watermelon gazpacho from Deli-icious, we were ready to dig into and sample our selections. My favorite of the day was the pulled pork with the “kick butt sauce”. The meat was very juicy with just the right amount of smoke flavor. I tried each of the panins and “Lucky” was my pick. Olio and Aceto did not disappoint with their Truffled Mac and Cheese bite. It was a lightly breaded bite of gooey goodness, yum. After we had finished off the main course, I headed out under the pretense of “just wanting to look around” but my real mission was ice cream. I found several selections at The Freezing Point and returned with a bowl of salted caramel and a bowl of coffee with chocolate chip. Besides all the great food I also enjoy talking with other rodeo goers. At different times a couple of groups of dinners join us at our table. One particular group had visited Baton Rouge Cuisine and chosen the crawfish etouffee and the shrimpetouffee. Both said the dishes were delicious.

bruce_smBad Boy:

First time organized events, like festivals, can be demanding, as well as awkward for community organizers. There are the variables which they have control over; venue, location, amenities and public safety. Then there are those elements that they have no control over; turnout, no-shows, conflicts/controversy, and weather – being among the least predicable. All of these elements collectively can make-or-break future events of the same venue. Team Triangle Street Eats arrived a bit early for the Chatham Street Chowdown. I like to arrive at any event a little early, to see the layout, and to get a perception of people interaction, as the event unfolds. Also, arriving early helps to avoid the long lines for food, beverage and seating. Arriving early also gives me a good perspective on “crowd-swell,” the phenomenon by which an event or venue can increase/decrease its turnout by any of the above-mentioned elements through social media.

It would be an hour after we arrived that I noticed that the “crowd-swell” was headed in the positive direction, and the likelihood of rain did not deter many who had initially planned to attend. Before long, long lines had formed at all of the trucks and there were still many hours of planned activities.

My highest regards to the Town of Cary, and to all of the people who worked so hard to make the Chatham Street Chowdown a success. It was exceptionally well planed. Since Triangle Street Eats is based in Cary, I know that Team TSE can look forward to reviewing other Cary food truck events in the near future.


 

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