NOTE: The Syracuse Food Truck Association is holding a weekly Food Truck Rodeo in the parking lot of the Cosmopolitan Building on West Fayette Street from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Since that’s right around the corner from my office, I plan to make this my midweek lunch plan. As a service to you, dear reader, I’ll round them up and report back.
NOTE DEUX: I missed May 20 due to a work engagement. Syracuse.com did its own roundup of the day.
Who made a repeat appearance?
Who was missing from previous weeks?
Was there music?
No. The dull hum of generators provided the only rhythm to the day.
What was new?
No music, I suppose.
The usual suspects were lined up, though I wonder if Sarita’s will ever return. Don’t get me wrong…Mami’s makes a nice empanada, but I lean to Saritas in the empanada race.
We rolled in just after 11:30 a.m. and found a small crowd. The threat of rain showers, as well as the annoying sprinkles that did fall inconsistently from the sky, may have kept people away. Toni and I beelined directly to Mami’s, where we each got Cubanos and I grabbed an empanada.
Mami’s Cuban sandwiches are made to order using their homemade pernil, deli ham, pickles, cheese and mayo, before being pressed. I enjoyed mine, though I think that next time I might just get a pernil sandwich. I’m not sure how much lard the sisters use in their pork, but it is nothing short of decadent. Toni, however, was less impressed, reporting that her sandwich was the key ingredient to any stellar Cubano: the pickles. There’s something about the salty dill flavors that brings this style of sandwich together. Anyhow, for her, it was missing. We think that this might have been because Denise, one half of the sister duo that runs the truck, was flying solo on Wednesday. Had the weather been better and it been busier, she would have really struggled to ring orders and cook.
My empanada was molten hot in its foil wrapper. There was a good blend of ground beef and cheese, plus some chilies for heat. They are very good, but I like Sarita’s a little better. I think the Food Truck Rodeo needs an empanada competition and I’m pretty sure that I need to be the judge.
While my Cubano was being pressed, I wandered across the lot to PB&J Lunchbox for their house specialty. PB&J has a fairly vanilla lineup compared to the odd assortment of offerings available at each truck, but one thing stands out: the grilled PB&J. Now, anyone can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and slap it on a plancha grill. But, this was…
Let’s start with the bread. This isn’t flimsy white bread. No, she’s going with a thicker sliced loaf that she slathers in butter like a grilled cheese. The inside gets a solid treatment of peanut butter and grape jelly and the outsides get a delicate but deep browning. You know how grilled cheese that that toasted bread and butter flavor that immediately ships you back to your childhood? Yeah, she did it with this, except sub out the gooey cheese for sweet grape jelly and salty peanut butter. It was nothing short of life changing.
It’s interesting to see how this has evolved over the past six weeks. Some of the stands — The Chicken Bandit, PB&J’s and Shattuck’s, for instance — just keep on doing their thing, knowing that they have a good thing going. Others are still trying to find their footing, working out the kinks in their menus and figuring out what works.
Words of compliment and/or grievance?
Had we not taken lunch back to the office I would have ponied up another $4 for a second PB&J. Stupid rain. And cheers to the Missio Church for adding a Thursday rodeo in their parking lot. Twice a week is not going to be good…