Archive for Food Truck Corner

Food Truck Review: El Floridano’s Banh Mi hits the spot!

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The other day, I was running a few errands during my lunch hour when all of a sudden I realized I was sooo hungry.  Because I’d consulted my Twitter list (@ellinida_dc/food-trucks) earlier that day, I remembered that El Floridano would be parked in the area.  So, I went in search of what I like to call the “world market” of sandwich trucks.  El Floridano offers the Fidel and Pan con Lechon, both Cuban-inspired sandwiches as well as the Chiang Mai and Banh Mi.  The first time I tried El Floridano, I opted for the Chiang Mai, which I’m guessing is Thai-inspired since it shares its name with a Thai province and its capital.  I have to say I wasn’t a fan.  The chicken was dry.  When coupled with the somewhat tough roll it came sandwiched between, it turned out to be unsatisfying and hard to eat without washing it down with plenty of liquids.

So this time I tried the Banh Mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich.  I’m not sure where El Floridano’s version stands on the Banh Mi authenticity scale, but I frankly don’t care.  That was a darn tasty sandwich that so hit the spot!

Pause for encyclopedia lesson of the day:

I understand that a traditional Banh Mi is a baguette containing a “slaw” composed of thinly sliced pickled carrotsand daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, chili peppers, pâté,mayonnaise and meat or tofu.  The meat can be pork, sausage,chicken, head cheese or ham.

El Floridano’s version is similarly served on a baguette filled with turkey meatloaf, crunchy, pickled slaw, and slathered in a spicy mayonnaise.  (El Floridano also offers a non-spicy version of the sandwich for the weak eaters among us.)   Along with my rather large Banh Mi, I purchased a Mash grapefruit-citrus soda.  I’d never heard of Mash, but came to learn that it’s a new line of bevvies offered by Boylan.  (Thank you, Google.)

So, I took my sandwich and bev back to my office, closed the door, and went to town.  I’m so glad that went down behind closed doors because it was neither pretty nor lady-like.  Oh well.  The spicy mayonnaise brings a nice heat to the flavorful meatloaf that hits your tongue only to be followed by the cooling effect of the pickled slaw.  And let me just say that I may have developed a slight crush on the Mash grapefruit-citrus soda that I can only describe as a cross between a flavored soda like Sunkist or Fresca and a flavored carbonated water.

The one suggestion I’d make to El Floridano is to switch the baguettes they use to ones that put up less of a fight when I try to bite into them.  The bread interfered with my ability to eat (that’s bad), which in turn meant that I had trouble really tasting the filling.  In fact, I ended up discarding some of the bread so I could really savor the filling (and eat faster).

Bottom line: If you happen to see El Floridano parked on a street near you, stop by and check out the Banh Mi.  I hear the Pan con Lechon and Fidel are pretty good too!

Review: BBQ Food Truck

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For my first blog entry, I’ve decided to write about today’s experience with the newest addition to the DC food truck scene: Carnivore BBQ (http://carnbbq.com/).  While these guys may be new to the growing list of food purveyors via truck, they are certainly not new to BBQ.  That’s clear.
For those who don’t know, Carnivore BBQ offers two options, pulled pork and brisket.  Each comes with a topping of cole slaw and your choice of one of three sauces.  Ok, all that’s explained on the website so let’s get to the biz-ness.  I chose pork (duh, did you miss the blog’s title?).  First, I was doled out a heaping helping of pulled pork on a nice firm bun.  Then, anxiety hit.  I had to choose a sauce.  Aggh! Foodie’s dilemma: the pulled pork purist in me said “the vinegar sauce, of course”.  Yet, a little voice inside me also wanted to try out their Memphis (tomato-based) sauce.  I asked for vinegar on the pork and a sample of the Memphis sauce.  The two guys operating the truck were very friendly and indulged my request.  Crisis averted.  The additional sauce was well worth it, but I’ll get to that in a little bit.The pork was tender with just enough fatty-ness to keep it succulent, but not so much that I was grossed out.  The cole slaw supplied a nice dose of crunch and brine.  But for me, the best part of the sandwich — hands down — was the bottom half of the bun that waited patiently for me, while I diligently worked through the pile of pork. (I know, it’s tough to be me.) The bun’s better half had soaked up all that porky fatty goodness and a bit of the vinegar.  Top that off with a bit of the pork and . . . Delicious!

Now back to the Memphis sauce.  I learned my lesson: my gut never steers me wrong! The fact that I was debating between these two sauces meant I should have asked for both sauces on my sandwich.  What held me back was that the Memphis sauce was described as sweet. I don’t like sweet on my pulled pork.  However, I’d describe the Memphis sauce as a little sweet but with enough of a briny undertone that it ends up working with the vinegar sauce to complement the pork while not overpowering it.  So, my recommendation? Ask that both sauces be added to your pulled pork sandwich.

This pork lover (not the legislative kind) couldn’t finish the entire meal despite being ravenous when she started in on the sandwich.  Next time I see those guys I’ll try the brisket.  Their website describes it as “better than Texas.”  Hmmph.  This Texas girl will be the judge of that.

I’m off to nap and shake off my pork-induced coma.  Until next time, folks: happy eating, traveling, and life living.