Archive for the ‘Ohio’ Category
Greetings, gentle readers. The more astute among you may have noticed that the amount of time since my last post has been right around a year. I’ve posted in the past the reason for the long gaps and what was true then remains true now: I just don’t have the luxury of the time required to write this blog on a consistent basis. So what brings me (temporarily) out of retirement today? A troubling tale I am prepared to tell, involving a food truck, squishy Italian hoagie rolls, and a blatant disregard for the safety of customers.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about food trucks on this blog. Some of them, including The Orange Truk, Wholly Frijoles, Zydeco Bistro, and Boca Loca Burrito Factory have set out and accomplished the main goal of a food truck: to be unique and serve quality, freshly prepared food to the people for a reasonable price. The best food trucks seek to recreate the same food experience one would find at a great restaurant (at least in terms of the food). Of course, I suppose you can’t have the best without having the worst. While I want every restaurant (and food truck) to succeed, real world studies indicate that nearly 60% of restaurants will fail over a three year period. Today’s visit to the Nacho Mama Food Truck out of Kent, Ohio proved exactly why this is the case.
Being a lovely sunny day in the low 70’s was too much of an allure to stay indoors. Coupled with the announcement I saw by one of the many food trucks I follow on Facebook, I discovered that there would be a “round up” of seven trucks at the Home Depot in Cuyahoga Falls. When I got to the round up around noon, I was relieved to find that the lines were fairly short. After getting my camera equipment set up in the back of my car, I walked around to survey the goods. While I enjoyed the crepe I had at Premier Crepes at a past round up, I wasn’t really in a crepe kind of mood today. Surveying my other options, I finally settled on Nacho Mama Food Truck. I had seen it at other round ups, but had yet to try their food. Today was as good as any to give it the college try.
I approached the truck and began to read the menu. The first red flag was that the chorizo dog they were offering was misspelled as a “chirizo” dog. Thinking the misspelling might have been done on purpose as a marketing gimmick, I asked the woman taking orders if that was indeed the case. When she stared back at me blankly, my question was answered without her having to actually say anything. Other menu items for today were nachos (as the name of the truck would imply), burritos, and a few other things aimed at children. My philosophy when trying out a new restaurant (or truck) is generally to buy two or three items, photograph them all, eat one and take the other(s) home for later consumption.
After ordering my chorizo dog topped with the spicy slaw, I set about attempting to order the tequila lime chicken nachos. This was where things started to get a little dicey. While people like to claim that they want choice in their lives, when faced with too much choice, the average human being becomes paralyzed with fear over having to actually make said choice. And with some fifteen toppings from which to choose, it took me a minute to get my bearings. Nacho Mama might be better served by offering a “standard” – beans, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, and salsa – and then allow customers to modify it to suit their taste. For whatever reason I was feeling in a nacho cheese kind of mood, so I added it as one of the toppings.
After paying the $15 for my haul (I included one of the Pepsi products as well), I walked to the other end of the truck to wait for my food. Within a minute or so, the woman inside the truck handed me the chorizo dog. While waiting for my nachos, she helpfully informed me that the chorizo link was actually from a place with which I am quite familiar, Dumas Meats in Mogadore, Ohio. That, to me, was a good sign. The bad sign, sadly, was the white squishy Italian hoagie bun on which the dog had been served. More on that later.
As I crossed the parking lot to my waiting car, I began to notice a problem. The nacho cheese had been poured too closely to one of the edges of the cardboard container and as it settled, had started to ooze over the edge. Not wanting to set this down anywhere in or on my car, I did the only thing a person holding a soda pop and chorizo dog in one hand and a container of nachos in the other hand could do: I decided to lick the cheese off the cardboard. I figured I just wouldn’t photograph that side of the dish. I put the cardboard container to my mouth and gently licked the offending cheese off with a quick swipe of my tongue and gasped in amazement: the nacho cheese was ROOM temperature!
Now, those of you reading with no commercial food preparation or restaurant experience may think my negative reaction was due to the fact that I (and probably you) prefer your nacho cheese food product served hot. Tepid liquid cheese is just not something I relish the thought of eating. In reality, my surprise was due to the fact that by not holding the cheese at a proper serving temperature, the Nacho Mama Food Truck folks were playing Russian roulette with their customer’s health.
Most food safety guidelines indicate that to avoid bacterial growth, food must be held below 40 degrees or above 135 (some say 140) degrees Fahrenheit. As for time spent in between those two extremes, the cumulative time must be calculated and the food must be discarded after it reaches four hours. In addition to the inappropriate holding temperature, the can of cheese was just sitting on the counter, completely uncovered. Who was to say that something couldn’t fly in through a window and contaminate the product
So, let me see if I’ve got my math straight. The food trucks started serving food at 11 am and I was there at noon. Best case scenario, let’s assume that the staff opened a fresh can of nacho cheese sauce right at 11 am. So, an uncovered can has already sat there for an hour right in the middle of the temperature danger zone? You can see why I was so alarmed. And honestly, if they can’t hold this food at the proper temperature, what makes me think they know how to hold any other food at the proper temperature to avoid potentially getting people sick.
After photographing both items, I turned my attention to the chorizo dog. Upon my first bite, I was rewarded with a nice snap from the dog and creamy cole slaw. Unfortunately, the spicy part of the “spicy slaw” I ordered to top the dog was nowhere to be found. This was straight up cole slaw, and I’d venture to say given the provenance of the other ingredients coming out of the truck, it was probably food service cole slaw. But for me, the bigger issue with the dog was the bun
The large Italian-style hoagie bun was straight out of squishy white bread hell and couldn’t contain the dog and the slaw. Within another couple of bites, the dog had broken through the spine and by the time I got halfway done with it, the bun had completely split along the spine, offering no additional structural support to keep everything together. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to grab a plastic fork from the truck and while I had originally envisioned using it with the nachos, found a more appropriate use for it to clean up the mounds of slaw that had fallen into the waiting basket below. The only real positive for me about this dog was the chorizo link itself from Dumas Meats.
I ended up disposing of the nachos in the garbage can, not even wanting to eat a single bite. I packed my camera gear away, got back in my car, and drove off. I do not plan on eating at the Nacho Mama Food Truck again, really for two reasons. First, the food safety issue (and that is the elephant in the room). Second, the quality and uniqueness of the food just didn’t appeal to my sense of adventure. It felt like really bad Americanized versions of Mexican staples and honestly, there are plenty of other places I can already go to for that. You can definitely cross this food truck off of my list of places I’d recommend.
(Editors Note: Ohio’s Nacho Mama Food Truck seems to no longer be in operation.)
With food trucks serving huge varieties of ethnic foods and gourmet fare it’s not unusual to sometimes overlook local food trucks who have been serving out native food to their local communities for years before the food truck phenomenan hit.
In Cleveland such a food truck is Seti’s Polish Boys. For the last ten years Seti and his wife have been serving up a sandwich invented in Cleveland – The Polish Boy. A Polish Boy is a Kielbasa sausage placed on a bun and covered with french fries, barbecue or hot sauce and cole slaw.
Iron Chef and Clevelander Michael Symon citied the Polish Boy as the “Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network when he featured the Polish Boy from Seti’s.
The Seti Polish Boy starts with the sausage being slow grilled. Then once you place your order it is then quickly deep fried before being added to the bun with hand cut french fries, their homemade bbq sauce and cole slaw. Although not totally traditional Seti’s offers chili and cheese as options to your Polish Boy.
Seti’s also serves jumbo beef hot dogs (prepared in the Polish Boy style if desired), Polish Dogs (onions, relish and mustard), BBQ Slaw Dog, Chili Cheese Dog and hand cut fries available with chili, BBQ sauce and cheese, or bbq sauce as toppings.
I wouldn’t be at all suprised if other food truck operators come to Cleveland to try a Seti’s Polish Boy and try to replicate the concept in their city! Philadelphia Cheesesteaks, Chicago Italian Beefs, and Cleveland Polish Boys – great sandwiches wherever you are!
Seti’s Polish Boys – Cleveland, OH
Update: The Hodge Podge Food Truck “Integrity… Learn It!” t-shirts are now available! Go to http://bit.ly/mYRmVx to order yours!
On September 11th’s episode of The Great Food Truck Race (on the @foodnetwork) host Tyler Florence (@tylerflorence) reveled that New York’s Korilla BBBQ (@korillabbq) had added extra money to their daily receipts in an effort to “cheat” the contest. With their heads down the Korilla team left the show before they found out that if they had NOT cheated they would have come in third place and would NOT have been eliminated. If Korilla BBQ had not been disqualified Cleveland’s Hodge Podge Truck would have went home.
As part of the episode Chef Chris Hodgson of the @hodgepodgetruck and @dimanddensum stated, “Integrity, Learn It.” Today Chris Hodgson announced on his Twitter and Facebook pages this new t-shirt:
What do you think of the t-shirt?
No word yet if the Hodge Podge Truck will put this shirt into production. If they do we’ll ask Chef Chris for the first shirts off the production line as give-aways to you food truck fans!
See our other posting about the Hodge Podge Food Truck at http://www.foodtrucktalk.com/hodge-podge-truck-cleveland-oh-hodgepodgetruck.
Update: The Hodge Podge Food Truck “Integrity… Learn It!” t-shirts are now available! Go to http://bit.ly/mYRmVx to order yours!
Hodge Podge Truck – Cleveland, OH
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It’s has been a few months since the Hodge Podge Truck launched. The truck’s first public appearances was as a contestant in the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Tune in tonight (August 14, 2011) to see the first episode of this season’s Great Food Truck Race. Good luck to the Hodge Podge truck and all of the other contestants!
(Originally posted on April 23, 2011)
Today is the first day for Cleveland’s newest food truck – in Las Vegas. Chef Chris Hodgon of Dim and Den Sum fame (@dimanddensum) has launched his second food truck as part of a food truck extravaganza in Las Vegas (we believe as part of the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race). Details are sketchy about the trucks involved in this seasons episodes so it is unclear when the Hodge Podge Truck will make it’s first Cleveland appearance.
Former Clevelander and current Las Vegas food blogger Kathy of .lasvegasfoodadventures.com reports that business was extremely brisk at the Hodge Podge Truck with Chef Hodgson and his team “working their tails off.” Thanks to Kathy for the first known photos of the new Hodge Podge Food Truck!
Note that the chalboard sign says “Rockin’ The C-Town Love.” Us Clevelanders are a proud lot! Chef Hodgson clearly has great culinatry skills but is also very active in supporting Cleveland as well as several area charities.
It’s the Hodge Podge Hot Dog!
Food truck fanatic Michelle from http://www.lookingforfoodtrucks.com also stopped by the Hodge Podge Truck and sent along some more photos! Here is todays menu, it includes Chef Hodges legendary Tater Tots.
It seems the menu has a lot of comfort food items including the Chef’s Steak (Filet) with some mac n cheese goodness.
Cleveland’s Dim and Den Sum food truck has received national recognition for their creativity and flair, they are among the best known food truck brands in the U.S. National magazines have profiled Chef Chris Hodgson and his truck numerous times.
Like many food trucks, from various cities, Dim and Den Sum has been embroiled in a dispute with the city they serve over where they can serve. It seems that although Dim and Den Sum has a permit to be able to set up shop in downtown Cleveland, the permit prevents them from doing so in areas where their would be enough people to support the business.
This controversy came to the attention of the mainstream media when Chef Hodgson announced via Twitter that if he was unable to service the more populated areas of downtown Cleveland that he would be out of business in “four weeks.”
Dim and Den Sum has become a Cleveland favorite and enjoys a great following! There is a groundswell of Dim and Den Sum support!
To bring more attention to the cause Dim and Den Sum has released a limited edition t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase: “STREET SNACKS ARE NOT A CRIME.” The shirts (pictured above and modeled by Chef Chris) are sure to be a popular site around Cleveland! The message will resonate not only in Cleveland but in all locations around the country where the food truck revolution is met with governmental resistance.
Cleveland’s WJW-TV (Fox 8) reporter Mark Zinni http://www.twitter.com/markzinni) has done a great job keeping Clevelanders up to date on the fate of Dim and Den Sum and other Cleveland food trucks.
We hope that all of the attention will help all of the Cleveland food trucks (including Dim and Den Sum) maintain a presence in Cleveland. This city has already seen another of it’s icons move to Miami and they don’t want to lose another one.
If you would like one of the “STREET SNACKS ARE NOT A CRIME” t-shirts contact Dim and Den Sum.
Dim and Den Sum – Cleveland, OH
(Note: For a review and recap of Cleveland’s C-Town Chow Down including photos visit ClevelandFoodAndBrews.com)
As the food truck phenomena continues it is great to note that two cities are having food truck oriented events for the very first time!
This coming Sunday (March 27) the C-Town Chow Down will take place in Cleveland’s Lincoln Park (Tremont neighborhood) from 11am – 3pm. Leading the charge in will be nationally recognized Dim and Den Sum gourmet food truck. Check out the “Convoy of Cleveland’s Finest Food!” with these food trucks:
Seti’s Polish Boys (Michael Symon’s favorite Polish Boy): http://setispolishboys.com/
Umami Moti (great Pad Thai): http://www.umamimototruck.com Twitter: @umamimoto
Pranzo Forno Wood Fired Pizza: http://www.pranzoforno.com/
Oh! Babycakes: http://www.babycakesohio.com/
Details can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/UmamiMoto#!/event.php?eid=111832328895274.
Meanwhile, down in Orlando Mark Baratelli has put together a new event for that city: The Food Truck Bazaar. This event takes place on Tuesday, March 29th from 7-10pm at 4400 S. Orange Ave. in Orlando. Trucks participitating in the Orlando even include:
Downtown: Corner of Orange and Washington. Tues – Fri 11:30am – 2:30pm, Thurs – Sat nights 10pm – 3am-ish. Big Wheel Provisions is a food company that uses only local ingredients and meat in the private food events, catering jobs and prepared meals.
At events around town, this Winter Park-based restaurant usually features a giant beer truck with a small food truck owned by a separate company serving lobster products. But since no one can serve alcohol at this iteration fo the bazaar, they will just be bringing the lobster truck with them.
You can find this truck almost every Saturday at the Dr Phillips Farmers Market and also a few nights per week at World Of Beer at Dr. Phillips. “We got into the BBQ biz out of the love for smoking meats in our backyard over the last 11 years and after taking 3rd place in people choose at the 2nd annual Orlando BBQ contest and competing with some top names in Orlando we decided to do a food truck as it was a fun way to get our name out on the street and see where that may take us in the future.”
The Taco Lady
Pupusas (Spanish Food)