Saturday, June 16, 2012

Completely Sauced

I finally caved to considerable pressure. Pressure from my lovely wife Angel, and oddly enough, my boss, who I will refer to as ‘Larry’.
A few months back fliers started showing up on the doors at work for food trucks. About once per week a different rolling kitchen would park in front of our office complex and serve out meals. The fliers usually listed the limited menu as well as the prices. One of the trucks I’d recognized as being a competitor on Food Network’s “Food Truck Wars” a show I was quite fond of.  It was a competition between modern, upscale food trucks. They’d load up, drive across the country and see who could make the most money in two or three days in cities unfamiliar to them. Each week one truck would get eliminated and would be sent home.
That was my first real schooling on this new wave of food truckery. My only previous experiences with rolling food vendors were the old 'roach coaches', mostly loud, greasy rattletraps serving out nasty burgers, stale sandwiches and dubious tacos. They also served horrific, burnt and probably slightly dieseled coffee. In other words I had no romantic notions of food trucks. This show altered my perspective. Clean, fresh ingredients, upscale offerings, reasonably priced.
I mentioned the fliers to Angel one night, she asked if I was going to try them and perhaps review them. I said I would, but I kept forgetting about them on the days they were there. Though I go outside everyday at lunchtime, I’m not usually thinking of food. Also the trucks tend to park in front of the main building, not our leased annex to the side, so I wouldn’t casually see them and suddenly remember.
"So what do you do at lunch if you're not thinking about food when you go out?” you’re asking. I can hear it.
I go to the gym and work out, lift weights, treadmill a bit.. then punch the heavy bag for a while. In my mind anyhow. Actually I go to my car and read. I am exercising, just a different organ. In my car I keep a stash of cheese nabs* and little boxes of raisins. That’s lunch. I don’t have to think about food at lunchtime since the car’s already loaded with enough to get me by.
You sit alone in your car for an hour, read and wolf down cheap snacks?
Yeah I do. I’m an asocial introvert (socially diseased?) and an avid  reader, you should know this already.
Anyway, Larry asked me about the food trucks a few weeks ago, if I've ever reviewed them. I answered no, I keep forgetting. I knew that he was aware of my blog though this was the first time I recall him ever mentioning it. We're professionals, we try to keep our work and our enjoyable pursuits completely separate.
He mentioned it a couple more times over the next few weeks, same answer.
Then on Wednesday he tasked me. He tells me about the one coming in on Thursday and practically insists that I try it and write it up. I say okay, insisting that he and  Doug, also in earshot, go along and offer their opinions.
Larry, to my surprise says “Okay.” Then I offer the disclaimer.
“This will happen on our free, non-billable, personal time. Anything I write up, or anything we say will be considered social, not professional. Any mammal I may compare you to in my written review reflects my observations of you as a private person, not a professional or co-worker.”
He looked confused. Doug piped up. “I’m a star-nosed mole!” which apparently required more explanation. “The fastest eating mammal in the world!” He added, extending two, large, mole-like thumbs-up.  Larry looked at me. “From the time a star nosed mole comes in contact with an object till he decides it is edible and is actually consuming it is around 150 milliseconds. Doug eats just about as fast, it’s kind of disgusting, but also rather fascinating.” I explain.
Doug isn’t ashamed or upset by this.
The Place.
It’s a food truck, in our parking lot. Professionally painted, in rather good shape. 'Completely Sauced' has been rolling for just a few months, since April I believe. I don’t know for sure where the name comes from and in my humble (but usually correct) opinion, it doesn't really reflect the truck’s menu which boasts mostly Cajun/Creole fare. Maybe there’s a culinary connection I’m just not aware of. When I think of Cajun/Creole I tend to think of spices, not sauces. Maybe I’m missing something.
There were, as best as I could tell, two people in the truck, one large, fetching woman at the window and a garrulous, energetic young man assembling the food. Both seemed to know what they were doing and were quick, attentive, upbeat and professional. No complaints whatsoever with the personnel. From the middle of the line I flashed my magic debit card as if to ask if they would take it. She caught the subtle gesture and nodded, without skipping a beat as she was taking another person’s order.
There was a sandwich board on the ground in front of the truck. Doug, Larry and I studied our options.
The Food.
Red beans and rice
My strikingly handsome, highly intelligent boss ordered the red beans and rice. A bit bland I thought, but he’s much smarter and better looking than me**  so I didn't openly question his choice. Doug ordered the jambalaya. These items were dipped up out of a warming vat and served almost immediately. Doug added Tabasco sauce before he even tasted it. Doug, besides eating really, really fast also hot-sauces up nearly everything he eats. I imagine that he’s in a constant state of searing acid reflux, which would help explain his occasionally-volatile temperament.
My order, a shrimp po’ boy, house-style, dressed with remoulade and slaw, (referred to on the menu as an 'Oxymoron' (Jumbo-shrimp, get it?) would take a few minutes I was told, since they don’t pre-cook the shrimp. This impressed me. The old roach coaches would precook everything, sometimes several weeks in advance. The wait was not terribly long, I snapped photos of Doug and Larry’s food while I waited. I had to get to Doug’s plate pretty quickly.  I think I might actually need a faster camera, one of those high speed jobs that you can photograph a bullet in mid flight with. Doug eats fast.
They called my order, we headed back to the office as there was no seating anywhere near the truck.
I found an empty cubicle and sat my plate down. Larry and Doug had been sampling theirs, Doug’s was all gone before we even got inside the building. His face was red and sweaty from the spicy heat.
I sat at the cube and Larry hovered over me.
I examined the sandwich. Red and green cabbage in the simple slaw, a dollop of sauce, just a dollop, and five grilled jumbo shrimp. The bread was very pretty. Fresh, crunchy crust, soft, fluffy and snow white on the inside. The shrimp was spiced, at first I thought a bit too heavily, but it turned out to be pretty good. It made me sweat a little, but not enough to cause pain or abdominal discomfort. The slaw was not strong, frankly, it might as well have just been shredded cabbage. It may have had flavor, but if it did it was stifled by the shrimp spice and the remoulade.  It wasn’t bad at all, just lacked its own distinct personality. It didn’t make the sandwich less tasty though. The bed of potato chips underneath was fine, nothing fancy.
Shrimp po' boy
Larry had said he didn’t like spicy food very much, and his choice bore that out. Red beans and rice are neither very strong by themselves in any way, you have to add heavy spices to make them tasty at all. He said that the beans were indeed a bit bland, not a rousing compliment from someone who openly claims to not like spicy food.
Doug says his was pretty spicy, but not too much, and that even with the additional Tabasco sauce it wasn’t too hot for him. I actually think Doug has a culinary death wish.
Overall, Larry didn’t seem terribly impressed,  I’m quite familiar with him being not terribly impressed, I’ve worked for him for three years. I asked him if given the choice between this meal and a fast-food burger which he would choose. “It depends on which fast food burger we’re talking about.”  Ouch.
Doug claimed to be pleased and even considered stepping out and grabbing a po’ boy like mine.  I don’t recall if he actually did or not, I might not have seen it anyhow since I blinked.
I was quite happy with my sandwich. The price was good, eight bucks. The Jambalaya and red beans were only seven. I would certainly rather have that po’ boy than any fast-food burger. The food was good, the price was reasonable, the service, exceptional.


* Cheese nabs. It's a southern term. Snack crackers, usually bright orange in color, filled with peanut butter or fake cheese. You know what I'm talking about.

** Yes you are correct, this is absolutely and un-apologetically, gratuitous sucking up. My boss will probably read this, but he's used to it.

Competely Sauced Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment