As those that have been to this site a lot have noticed, I have a weakness for hot dogs. Indeed, a coworker claiming that “hot dogs are just hot dogs” was one of my inspirations for starting this blog, since there are really quite a few varieties of hot dogs in existence (indeed, I’ve got as far as the Iceland Pylsur in my reviews). One of the more intriguing things I like is when essentially the same concept, like the “Chili dog”, gets some regional variations. When I was growing up (in the Southwest), a chili dog was simply a “chili dog” (albeit with the caveat that the sort of chili that makes a good condiment isn’t the same sort that tastes good in a bowl). The “Coney Island” dog is a variant of this with “Coney sauce”, a meaty, near-chili spicy meat sauce, and can be spotted by that name ranging from Michigan all the way over to Massachusetts. However, nearly the exact same dog as a “Coney Dog”, with a slightly drier and less spicy sauce, goes by the name “Texas Hot” or a “Michigan” (likely in homage to the Coney Island variety primarily coming from Michigan) in Upstate New York and Vermont (and as far north as northern Quebec, my friend Ben has a great story about buying a “Michigan” hot dog at a food cart at a Hydro Quebec station in far, far, northern Quebec). And a particularly good example of the “Michigan” hot dog can be found at Beansie’s Bus in Burlington, VT.
One of our first stops heading west from Klaustur was Skógafoss. Skógafoss is one of South Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls, about 75 feet wide and 200 feet tall, with a large enough water volume that it generates a fair amount of wind and mist. Like most of the major waterfalls, it also has it’s own legend. No, not trolls this time, but Vikings, apparently one early Viking settler, Prasi Þórólfsson, hid a chest of gold under the falls that was never found except for a large ring from the side of the chest. If it’s not those troublesome trolls, it’s the Vikings, I guess.
Oh, and Skógafoss also sports a hot dog truck. The Skógafoss Country Wagon can generally be found in the main parking lot of Skógafoss, near the campsites and the laundry area for hikers.
I’ll admit I’ve got a love for real Belgian waffles. But one of the major problems I’ve had is that you can’t get a proper Belgian waffle here in the US. Sure, a rather large fraction of the breakfast places here will serve you something called a “Belgian waffle”, but what you are getting is really just a regular ole American waffle made in a waffle iron with bigger crenelations, usually served up with a small mountain of fruit (or fruit-like “pie topping”) and whipped cream. Not that there is anything wrong with that, heck, I like a good waffle, and even own an American-style “Belgian” waffle maker myself that gets used several times a month.
But a real Belgian Waffle is a different beast. A proper Belgian waffle (also known as a Liège waffle, from the Eastern Belgium city of the same name) is a distinctly more refined item. First of all, it’s not made in a round iron, but a large rectangular iron with an open grid crenelations. A large lump of raised, yeasted batter is dumped right on the surface and the iron closes around it, allowing the lump to spread out into whatever globular shape it wants. The batter also has a bunch of pearl sugar crystals mixed into it, the idea being that as the waffles cook in the iron, the sugar crystals melt, resulting in a rich, crunchy, and caramelized exterior. The result is a nice hot treat that’s a noticeable leg up above the normal “Belgian waffle”, with a nice buttery interior, a yeasty taste, and a nice crunchy exterior.
Well, it turns out that many food trucks of the Boardwalk on Bulverde that night included one that makes… proper Belgian waffles. The Begian Waffle Co is a nice, shiny, new food truck run by a pair of pleasant Belgians, offering up a menu of waffles. They start with three types of waffles: their original “Waffle de Liége”, as well as cinnamon and chocolate variants. They then offer up a rather impressive list of toppings: whipped cream, powdered sugar, and butter are free, while various modest surcharges will get you toppings ranging from fresh fruit, to Nutella, to peanut butter, to a variety of savory toppings (eggs, cheese, and ham, for example).
Well, the nice think about the Boardwalk on Bulverde is that, on any given night, there are almost a dozen food trucks there hawking their wares, so after you’ve started a meal at one truck, you can work your way through the many other trucks to find your next course. In our case, Food Truck #2 at the Boardwalk was Spice Runner, a food truck serving sandwiches and “Pocket Pies”.
Like Austin to the Northeast, San Antonio has a growing food truck scene. While nothing like Austin at present, it has a few up and coming areas, like the Boardwalk on Bulverde food court, a rather substantial cluster of food trucks, for some food truck action… (located adjacent to, and run by, a company that makes food trucks, btw). The Boardwalk is a Thursday-Sunday operation, with about a dozen food trucks all located at this one spot in Northern San Antonio. It’s a rather nice little outside area, with the obligatory random selection of seating, a mechanical bulls, and a few other oddments. And, as I mentioned in my review of Erick’s Tacos, it’s only open Thursday-Sunday, so we had to make a separate trip back here to try it out. But on Friday, we finally made it to the Boardwalk, where Stop #1 was Rickshaw Stop, a well-known San Antonio Food Truck serving up delicious Pakistani kebab.
And now it’s on to San Antonio, where I joined Carol partway through a conference. The day I arrived in San Antonio, Carol was off at a BBQ and rodeo hosted by the conference, which started too early for me to join in. So my first act after arriving in San Antonio was to drive up to the Boardwalk on Bulverde food court, a rather substantial cluster of food trucks, for some food truck action…
…and learned that sometimes I need to research things better. The Boardwalk isn’t open except Thursday through Sunday. So I had to find someplace else nearby for a food truck fix. Luckily, just over a mile away was Erick’s Tacos on nearby Nacogdoches Road, so I headed on over to check out their fare…
(Closed) After our weekend of wandering around Austin eating BBQ and sampling several of Austin’s many food trucks, you’d think that we’d start to be a bit worn out on food trucks. Well, we weren’t. About a week after we got back from Austin, we decided that the weekend weather was nice, and we wandered over to White River Junction, Vermont to check out Streats, our area’s latest food truck.
That’s right, the Upper Valley actually has several food trucks (some of which I’ve even review here, like Wicked Awesome BBQ, but I’ll admit I’m way overdue for reviewing Vermont Crepe and Waffle and Mama Tina’s Tamales), of which Streats is the newest arrival. Billing themselves as a “mobile canteen”, Streats is currently located in a mostly vacant lot at the corner of Prospect and Bridge Streets, just west of the bridge to West Lebanon, New Hampshire (for those familiar with the area, it’s across the street from the Listen Center)…
Well, our third day in Austin ended up primarily being BBQ: one visit to a new place for me (Black’s) and two visits to favorites from last year (Kreuz and City Market). After all that, and a quick refreshment break at Dairy Queen in Lockhart (another part of the annual Austin tradition), we headed back downtown for some more food truck action.
The interesting thing about the food truck scene is that it’s always in a bit of flux. Indeed, almost every food truck I had visited in 2011 had either relocated to a new spot (indeed, the two major “food courts” from 2011 had both been sold for development, in what’s likely going to be an ongoing phenomenon in the mobile food business, so Gourdough’s and Love Balls found themselves uprooted), turned into a brick and mortar restaurant (like Odd Duck), or just plain gone out of business (I’ll miss you, Bits and Druthers). So we ended up going to a new (for us) food truck venue, the South Congress Strip.
I went to South Congress with one particular food truck in mind: The Best Wurst, which sells all sorts of great sausages and such from the South Congress Strip. They get great reviews and people like them. They also sell out early, they had finished up for the day at least an hour before I got there. However, I found myself lured in by the sights and smells of the nearby Coat and Thai food truck.
Austin’s East Side is known for several good food trucks. One of the better known ones is East Side King, run by Paul Qui (of recent Top Chef fame).
Actually, there are several East Side King food trucks, each with a different menu. The this one being located at The Grackle bar (the others are located down the street behind Liberty Bar and Shangri La). They’ve got the now-standard standing arrangement with The Grackle where you can get your food from the food truck, and eat it inside the bar (or on their spacious patio), while drinking beer off their license.
The menu at the Grackle location focuses on Ssam (lettuce wrap) and rice dishes. Looking over the options, the top options were mushroom dishes, vegetarian dished (mostly with eggplant), and pork belly dishes. So it’s pretty obvious what I ordered: the pork belly Ssam…
After a brief period of convalescence from all the meat eating earlier in the day at JMueller and Stiles Switch, we decided to indulge in the other type of cuisine that really makes Austin special: more food trucks!
The nice thing about the food truck scene is that it’s forever changing. Trucks move to new locations. New places show up all the time. Other places close. Yet others convert from trucks to permanent location. It’s never the same scene twice. So this time, despite returning to East 6th Street like last year, the makeup of trucks was almost entirely different (this was made even more clear by the closing of the East Side Drive In collection of carts).
Well, there actually is one food truck in Austin that specializes in Detroit-style Pizza it: Via 313…