On a Roll
A beautiful food truck drops it into drive (and a trunk full of other nuggets).
Thursday, August 19, 2010
As the booming boutique food truck trend delivers great grub to every big city nook from Atlanta to L.A. – Argentine meats, gourmet grilled cheeses, falafels, waffles – I’ve been patiently tracking our best candidates to join the rolling repast, leaving a path of drool in my rearview.
So this news tastes good: We have our first real foodiemobile now merging into traffic. Gladys Parada has survived the gauntlet of state and county inspections to bring her colorful 1986 Chevy P30 Stepvan and its Babaloo Cuban Cuisine to the West End Celebration (see story, p. 34) this weekend. She’ll take the ride she calls “The Duchess” – after her flamboyant Cuban mother, who is painted on the side – to local businesses and parties thereafter (she has to stick to private property).
While wearing a tropical fruit hat and grilling up sandwiches and chicken, Parada told me she was drawn to the mobile game after she left a manager position at the former Citronelle.
“I was thinking I have to do something that doesn’t kill me,” she said. “Like a lunch truck. I started reading and everyone was doing it, but not here. I thought, ‘I can’t die without trying.’”
With it she’s bringing a fresh-organic-sustainable attitude – sourcing her ingredients consciously and distributing compostable containers – and some downright tasty stuff with names inspired by I Love Lucy.
The McGillicuddy (Lucy’s maiden name, $6) comes dynamic and sassy like its namesake, packing grilled organic chicken, melting muenster cheese, avocado gobs and a tangy citrus salsa between crusty Cuban bread baked by Palermo and grilled to order on the spot. The Ricky Ricardo ($6) is a more macho version with pulled pork, Virginia ham and melted Swiss. The Fred and Ethel sliders ($6) are two cute little fishcake sliders with tilapia or mahi mahi (from Sea Harvest for now), a clever cream sauce and a tasty tropical island slaw that also accompanies the grilled chicken and “Vitameatavegamin” veggie plates ($8 and $5 with pedestrian yellow rice and some serviceable beans). Parada and her sweet wingwoman Lady also slang delicious virgin strawberry mojitos or guava drinks ($2) depending on the day.
Call 262-4150 or hit up babalootruck.com if you’ve got at least 20 hungry monkeys ready to eat. When I got the truck to visit the Weekly, it inspired one of the paper’s powers that be to pull me aside for commentary on my career. “Mark,” he said, “this is the best thing you’ve ever done.”
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There’s a discovery to be made above Seaside with Bayonet-Blackhorse’s clubhouse grill (899-5954).
The revelation was inspired by BB’s infant Friday Afternoon Club. From 4-6pm Fridays, draft pints like Black Horse Ale, English Ales Fat Lip and Sierra Nevada are but $2. Local wines are $4. Well drinks run $3 and a nice lineup of appetizers – inferno hot wings, chili verde nachos, calamari, etc. – are $5. Worthy burgers, a grilled Caesar sandwich and barbecued tri-tip sandwich (each with fries) are $6.
The honey mustard chicken strips ($5), a big basket of long, panko-breaded, thin-sliced lengths with twice-fried potatoes, were nice; the Texas chili potato skins ($5) not so much.
The real treat was the underpopulated oceanview patio and window-heavy bar-dining area. Whether there’s a discount going on or not it makes for a great mid-Seaside/Marina/Salinas stop off for a scenic sipper and maybe a little play on the putting green.
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The upcoming La Playa Wine Festival Saturday, Aug. 21, looks like a ravishing value for wine lovers. Opus One, Caymus and Quintessa – and dozens more – all pour tastes and offer deals. Only $35 (!) for four hours of indulgence at La Playa Hotel in Carmel. 624-6476 x488… Old Fisherman’s Grotto (375-4604) took Best Chowder from our readers this spring; their greatest recent victory, though, was visible last weekend: No more little Styrofoam sample cups that will outlive all of us… PigWizard is a finalist in a butchery contest – vote for our local unparalleled pork purveyor at http://www.proteinuniversity.com/top-20.html… Chopstix on Fremont (899-2622) now slangs an avocado boba smoothie ($3.75). Let’s say it was more interesting than tasty. The cantaloupe came off superior for $.50 less. Sources tell me Bagel Bakery (various locations, including Monterey, 372-5242, and Sand City, 392-1581) is also advertising avocado smoothies. And they’re adding boba too… Carmel restaurateur Rich Pepe is doing something cool with his high school buddy Joe Pantoliano of Sopranos fame. Their Pepe and Pants pasta sauce is a response to all the requests Pepe has gotten for sauce recipes over the years at places like Little Napoli (626-6335). The pair is calling it the Newman’s Own of pasta sauces – all profits will support No Kidding Me Too, Pants’ foundation that brings awareness to mental illness. Buy the sauces at the P and P website… “Do you pop out at parties?,” Lucy Ricardo said, “Are you unpoopular?”