The Cinnamon Snail is the winner of the first-ever Silver Spatula Award for top food truck in New Jersey.
The popular vegan lunch truck garnered the most votes of the 4,000-plus cast in an online poll that was part of a week-long series on food trucks in Inside Jersey magazine.
Cinnamon Snail has been serving “maniacal vegan goodies” since Valentine’s Day 2010, says owner Adam Sobel.
His reaction to winning the award?
“I am so wonderfully ecstatic about this news that I just ran through a cookie brick wall into a deadly moat of melted fudge,” he said.
Yep, sure sounds like the free-spirited Sobel.
The truck, which can be found in New York City and in Red Bank, has built a devoted if not fanatical following. Never tried vegan or organic food? Stop at the Snail; it may change your mind, if not your life.
The truck’s Thanksgiving sandoo was named one of the top 20 food truck dishes in Inside Jersey’s Ultimate Jersey Food Truck Showdown series. A Cinnamon Snail Cookbook is due this fall.
Here is the account of
the Munchmobile’s visit to the Cinnamon Snail in the summer of 2010.
The Taco Truck, like the Cinnamon Snail one of the first specialty food trucks to gain a foothold in New Jersey, placed second in the online poll. The truck’s pork torta also was named to the list of the state’s 20 best truck dishes.
Oink and Moo BBQ finished third in the voting.
The breakdown of the voting can be found here. Voting ended at midnight last Friday.
The entire Ultimate Jersey Food Truck Showdown series — beware, it will make you hungry — can be found here.
A new food truck pared by our office on Wednesday called Yume Teriyaki Grill. They have been around for a month or so, but mainly parked downtown by Wall St. Now it looks like they have 2 outlets, a food truck in midtown and a food cart downtown.
The menu is obviously teriyaki-based, but there are 7 different choices ranging from $6-11, including a veggie option.
Being big seafood lovers, we went for the shrimp teriyaki for $8. Steak and salmon teriyaki are the only dishes over $10.
We didn’t know this, but their website says “yaki” means grill in Japanese and “teri” means shine, as in glazed.
Each meal comes with white or brown rice, gyoza or sauteed veggies, and a salad with either balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette dressing.
There were 10 small-to-medium-sized shrimp in the order, with a light, slightly fruity teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds on top.
The shrimp didn’t appear to be grilled, or if they were, it was very lightly. We understand they want to keep the shrimp juicy and not have them dry out, but there was no noticeable “grilled” flavor on the shrimp.
With a choice of fried dumplings or steamed veggies, we chose the healthy alternative (for once). The assorted vegetables included broccoli, carrots, , snow peas, water chestnuts and string beans. They were similar to what you get with a hibachi meal, but once again, not grilled much, if at all.
The brown rice was really good, especially with the teriyaki sauce. We need to order brown rice more often instead of white rice.
Salads are usually an afterthought in street food, but the quality of the greens was high, and the balsamic vinaigrette was a step up from the usual street food salad dressing. They also have a raspberry vinaigrette dressing that we want to try next time.
Yume Teritaki Grill is not the most original street food vendor in NYC, but this was a fairly healthy, varied, good lunch for $8.
Gary Lowe, the man behind the meat smoker at Crown Q Market Deli, recalls an earlier Northeast Portland, a time when his grandmother, Josephine “Outlaw Josie” Bell, “carried a little Derringer and a razor blade” while running “the only food cart in the roughest part of town.”
But last year, when Lowe decided to turn his own cart, Crown Q, into a brick-and-mortar restaurant, he had different memories in mind: Learning to cook while helping out at the Tropicana, a once-hopping North Williams Avenue barbecue joint, and the sense of togetherness and community he felt there.
At his new restaurant, he devoted half the dining room to a little market, where customers can pick up Northwest beer and wine, farm-fresh eggs and meat from Stroupe Family Farm in Aurora while Lowe smokes ribs, brisket and turkey legs out front.
By opening with a market, Lowe tapped into the latest trend in Portland’s food scene. In the past year-plus, nearly 10 Portland restaurants, including Crown Q, Old Salt Marketplace and Oso Market and Bar have opened with small markets where everything from everyday staples to boutique goods are available to-go.
Market-restaurant hybrids — pharmacies with soda fountains, Mexican tiendas with back-of-house taquerias, convenience stores with heat-lamped pizza — aren’t new. But today’s restaurant owners are flipping the script, with restaurants that pave the way for (and sometimes financially support) the market.
Along the way, these restaurateurs may have stumbled on a salve for the persistent problem of so-called “food deserts,” areas under-served by stores with fresh produce and healthful food.
After a combined 30 years in restaurant work, Emily Anderson and Paul Davis seemed perfectly positioned to open a restaurant of their own.
But while looking around their Woodlawn neighborhood, Anderson, a former server and front-of-house manager (Por Que No?, Lovely’s Fifty Fifty), and Davis, a cook and kitchen manager (Kenny Zuke’s, Dove Vivi), realized there was a more pressing need.
“Technically we’re in a food desert, or we used to be,” says Anderson, whose house is about a mile from the nearest grocery store. “We were just tired of having to drive. We wanted to have a little neighborhood grocery store we could walk to.”
The couple found a space, a former soul food restaurant that had sat empty for several years, and transformed it into Ps and Qs Market, a cozy grocery store selling fresh produce and a small kitchen where Davis prepares tasty soups, salads and sandwiches.
“The two businesses work really well together,” Anderson says. “People come in for food, then peruse the store and inevitably buy something. Or they come in for groceries and see a special on the board and stay for dinner.”
Asafetida and au jus
Not every restaurant-market hybrid has community-building on the brain. Some spots just want to give their customers easier access to unusual or hard-to-find ingredients.
Shut Up and Eat, the Southeast Portland sandwich shop known for its cheesesteak, recently expanded with a market and deli next door. The move was deigned to increase the restaurant’s prep space, but co-owner John Fimmano said he also wanted to offer Portland a taste of his Philadelphia-area childhood.
“When we were growing up, we used to go down to the store and get 10 pounds of roast beef, a quart of au jus, some rolls and Provolone and go home and make our own sandwiches and watch some football,” Fimmano says. “We wanted to create that option here.”
On Southeast Division Street, chef Troy MacLarty’s second Bollywood Theater location has a small market on the side selling hard-to-find ingredients such as puffed rice, ghee (clarified butter) and asafetida (a strong-smelling herbal resin prized in Indian cooking).
“The original idea for the market has come from our customers,” MacLarty emailed from his wedding weekend in Mexico. “They’ve asked us many times (whether) they could buy small amounts of certain ingredients because they didn’t want to drive out to the suburbs to purchase them.”
Not far away, shoppers can find Thai ingredients at Tarad Thai Market and carefully sourced Italian products at Luce, an Italian restaurant in a space resembling a general goods store.
Cutting down waste
For Ps and Qs, the market provides an added bonus: Davis can plan his menus around what’s available in the store, cutting down on the food waste typically found at larger grocery stores. And though the market barely breaks even, the profits from the restaurant help Anderson and Davis employ 14 people.
“We’re sustainable because of the deli,” Anderson says.
“Emily is a born entrepreneur,” Davis says. “She’s had a ton of multi-faceted business ideas: a coffee shop with a record store, a flower shop with a bar. When we met, she had this idea to do a general store. I said, “If you had a market, I could do this and this with the food. The idea just grew and grew.”
Turns out, Anderson had been plotting the market for while. She recalls talking the idea over with Old Salt Marketplace co-owner Ben Meyer years ago. And before opening, she took a job at the Woodsman Market, a small food boutique attached to the Woodsman Tavern restaurant, to learn the trade.
Over at Crown Q, Lowe says he plans to add fresh fruit and vegetables to the market in May. He hopes customers will embrace his store as a smaller-scale alternative to big grocery stores such as Safeway and Trader Joe’s, the latter of which recently reverse plans to build a location a few blocks from Crown Q.
But mostly, Lowe wants to offer people a reason to swing by and hang out.
“This was a predominantly black area,” Lowe says. “Now that everyone’s here — the whole melting pot — we’re trying to make this a clean, community place where you can sit back with a glass of wine, a beer and listen to some Bob Marley or jazz music.
“We really don’t know what we’re doing, but it seems to be working.”
– Michael Russell
WEST WINDSOR — The rain won’t stop the parade of food trucks into Mercer County Park tomorrow, but the $5 fee to attend the Food Truck Fiesta is a washout.
Surf and Turf Truck owner and organizer Adam Browne of Hamilton said admission will be free at the event at the Boathouse Marina, 1638 Old Trenton Road.
The fee was intended to cover a DJ, a live band, children’s bounce houses, a rock wall and other entertainment, but Browne canceled those yesterday over safety concerns because of the near-certain probability of precipitation.
“We’re still going to have the trucks, still going to have the wine,” Browne said. He instructed the vendors, which include 13 food trucks as well as the Unionville Winery of Hunterdon County, to be prepared for the biggest crowds between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., before the heaviest rain arrives. The event is scheduled to run until 7 p.m.
“People are still excited about coming out,” Browne said, noting that they’re indicating interest on the event’s Facebook page. And the vendors have already started preparing the food. “We’ve all done events where we know weather is a factor,” he said.
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Barbecue reigned supreme in our poll asking readers which cuisine they’d like to see roll into Beaverton in the form of a food cart.
With 10.4 percent of the vote (33 votes), barbecue beat out 15 other poll options, including close runner-ups gyros and Indian food, which both received about 9 percent of the vote. The poll, which opened Wednesday, March 26, received a total 316 votes.
The poll was part of our series on Beaverton food carts spawned by the city’s decision to revisit its stiff regulations on the mobile eateries. Because changes to the regulations could bring more food carts to the city, we were curious which types of cuisines readers wanted most.
And readers chose barbecue, though Pork Chop City, a trailer stationed just outside Beaverton city limits on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, serves up ribs, brisket and pulled pork daily. (Head Cook Troy Herren classifies the food as smoked meat, not barbecue.)
Other Beaverton food carts – there are only a handful of them – serve up Filipino fare and Mexican food.
The poll results beg the following questions: Why do readers want barbecue in Beaverton? Does Pork Chop City fail to qualify as true barbecue, as Herren pointed out? Or is the hunger for barbecue in Beaverton simply too great for one food cart to satisfy? Comment below and satisfy our curiosity.
– Anna Marum
The first and most obvious difference with Detroit-style is that the sauce is put over the cheese. You can almost taste the chewy and crunchy crust you see in the photo above, which is the result of baking it in a well-oiled pan, sometimes twice.
And it’s not just any pan, it’s a blue-steel industrial utility pan. A few years ago, when the West Virginia manufacturer who made them closed down, shop owners were forced to get creative and even make their own pans. Many reported that the pizza was not the same when made in other pans.
Like New York and Chicago-styles, you can find Detroit-style all over the States, including Pizza Squared in Tampa Bay, Via 313 Pizza in Austin, Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride, Grande Augy’s Pizza in Boca Raton, Klausie’s Pizza in Raleigh, Northside Nathan’s in Vegas, Pizza Tree in Columbia (Mizzouri), Pizza Shuttle in Milwaukee, Loui Loui’s Authentic Detroit Style Pizza in Louisville, and even Little Caesars, among others.
If you find yourself in Detroit and want to try the real deal, Buddy’s and Luigi’s have been singled out and honored as recently as 2009 by GQ. Some other choices include Niki’s in Greektown, Jet’s in Sterling Heights, Tower Inn in Ypsilanti, Papa Bella’s in Ortonville, Green Lantern in Madison Heights, The Gathering Place Marinelli’s in Troy, and Detroit Style Pizza Company.
We tried it for the first time last week at Brown Dog in Telluride, and were surprised with how light it was despite its intimidating appearance. Chicago-style deep dish usually leaves us holding our gut, but Detroit-style really did have an airy aspect to it that was impressive. Stop by one of the shops listed above to try it out for yourself.
[Photo: Detroit Style Pizza Company]
Food trucks in Rochester are here to stay, at least for now.
City Council has voted to extend the current food truck agreement for one month. Although frustrated, food truck owners say it is a step in the right direction. City Council put the brakes on legislation to work out the kinks in the pilot program. While City Council has talked about expanding the program, food truck owners have balked at changes that may force them to close earlier. The owners say customers love late nights. Council will now take the next month to re-evaluate the regulations. Questions about vending on private property and locations are among the biggest issues.
“We didn’t want the food truck pilot program to end abruptly March 31st because then we would have no food trucks, and so we did something unusual in the middle of our council meeting. We voted for a one month extension of the pilot program,” Councilwoman Elaine Spaull said.
“It was nice to feel like we were heard and some of the council people actually approached us and said ‘hey we hear what you are saying. We realize this is a problem so let’s try to do something about it,’ which is really encouraging,” food truck owner Arthur Rothfuss said.
The food truck pilot program started last year. City Council will vote on legislation on April 30th.
Dartmouth College – that hallowed, prestigious Ivy League institution of higher learning – is now home to a food truck.
It’s known as The Box, and it will serve Mediterranean-style sandwiches, salads and other foods, while giving students at the Tuck School of Business a chance to manage and operate a private, for-profit business.
The Box is the brainchild of Eric Winn and Mike Parshley, students finishing their MBA degrees at Tuck. Parshley says while there are some fine restaurants in Hanover, they wanted to find a way to serve the thousands of students, staff and faculty “who are currently served only by the dining halls. We were going, wow, it would be great to get some alternative dining up here, and the quickest way to do that was, in fact, a food truck.”
Even so, starting a food truck business can be costly in its own way – The Box team raised over $16,000 in a fundraiser on Kickstarter, which covered only a portion of their startup costs.
Food trucks might not be the most obvious choice in a community like Hanover, but Winn says there was no resistance from the town or the college to the idea – probably because they made a point of seeking officials’ input as they developed the business concept. “They were very supportive,” Winn explained. “Part of that is, we’re insiders. I’m a Dartmouth alum, Mike and I are both Tuck students, our entire team is made up of Tuck and Dartmouth students. Because we’re insiders, and because we’re adding value to the educational platform here, there was more interest in it.”
The educational mission extends into the kitchen at The Box. Executive chef Tyler Harvey says she’s looking forward to teaching employees how to make healthy, light food options made from “awesome produce in the area.” And, she says, the team’s research and focus group testing shows that Dartmouth’s community is interested in food and sustainability, which means they’ll be willing to try beet hummus, lamb meatballs with harissa sauce (“my go-to meal,” says Box team member Peter Shively) and other foods with which they might not be familiar. “Making ingredients like that accessible to your average consumer is something I always have in mind with my cooking.”
The Box team says that while their truck is the first to set up shop in the Dartmouth area, they’d be happy to set up another there, or possibly on another campus, if The Box proves successful.
Rachell Billow was trained as a social worker. Benoit Angulo had attended culinary school in his native Venezuela. When they met, they were both working the elegant dining rooms of Commander’s Palace.
One night after work, they had a few drinks at the Rendevous Tavern on Magazine Street. Around midnight, they got hungry. But there was nothing around that late worth eating.
“Benoit pitched the idea of starting a food truck,” Billow said, “and there went my masters degree.”
Arepas, a traditional Venezuelan corn cake, was the culinary foundation of La Cocinita, which means “little kitchen” in Spanish. They expanded the menu to embrace other Latin American street foods. And since November 2011 running a food truck has been their career.
Cuisine: Latin American street food
On the menu: Traditional arepas, tacos and quesadillas with filling such as carne asada, lechon (braised pork) and roasted beets with black beans
Top seller: Tacos
I said: “The nearly dozen homemade salsas, like, spicy mango, cilantro and roasted green onion and chipotle mayo, are key.”
Price: $8-9 (Cash or credit)
Regular stops: Tulane Medical Center, LSU Health Sciences Center (lunch); Pearl Wine Bar, The Rendezvous Tavern (night)
Truck: 1990 Chevrolet P30
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