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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On the Prowl: The Charleston Food Truck Rodeo

Fate brought me Charleston this past week, just in time for Holy City's monthly Charleston Food Truck rodeo. Charleston, like Columbia, has become a hot spot for food trucks, supporting young local gourmet chefs looking to offer high-end food at affordable prices. Armed with a cold, crisp pilsner from Holy City Brewing - the host for September's rodeo and hopefully many more - I embarked on my perilous journey into the beast, starting with the oh so sinister Diggity Donuts.

Diggity Donuts is a vegan (!) food truck serving outrageous fried donut concoctions such as green pea and dates, mango, and other fruity, sweet, savory, maniacal creations. There were some incredible looking options available during the rodeo, but my eyes immediately wandered to two choices: the pluff mud porter and chocolate donut and the nefarious, wicked, sinfully brilliant peanut butter and sriracha donut. The porter and chocolate donut was more on the chocolate side - a good thing - but had a nice velvety touch thanks to the porter. You know, I would have been totally happy with just that. Crispy, sweet, chewy, and oh-so-chocolaty, it was knockout in its own right. The peanut butter and sriracha, however; that was f@#%ing amazing. The spicy sriracha, whipped with either peanut butter or frosting and lightly sweetened, worked beautifully with the creamy, savory peanut butter we all know and love dearly. This isn't just a donut, it's a revelation.

Next was the PotKettleBlack Wayward Bistro, which specialized in taking twists on the favorites. There's really no way to intro what I attempted this day. First off was an innocent jalapeno popper wrapped in bacon. Simple. Delicious.

Next was something perhaps on par with the peanut butter and sriracha donut in creativity and sheer ballsiness; a bacon wrapped crabcake stuffed shrimp with a sriracha aioli. Crazy. For a midday appetizer, this was fantastic. A little sloppy, but the weight of the idea itself was worth the trip. I want to critique this bad boy, but I just have to let it go. Easily worth a moment of your time if you have the opportunity.

While waiting in line at PKB, I ran into the owner of the neighboring truck, Carolina Creole. Hearing opportunity knock, I immediately threw down an order of their duck gumbo, their special of the day. The gumbo was a little thick for my taste, but chock full of rich duck with a nice burst of heat. Served on rice, this was definitely a solid, warm meal and good middle-of-the-road snack during my food truck run. Best of all was the heaping cornbread served atop the gumbo. It was beautifully crumbly, crispy, and just the right amount of sweetness to marry with the gumbo. Exactly the right contrast you want in a dish like this. Nice.

Feeling the food wall starting to creep my way, I decided to start moving towards desert. Tokyo Crepes has a bit of a nontraditional look to it with its very own platform, but their usually location at Folly Beach puts two-and-two together. While Tokyo serves up traditional sweet crepes like the ever popular banana and nutella and fruit rolls, they also serve a host of lunch and dinner crepes like the Spicy Corn Cheese and Teriyaki. Pretty cool.

I went the traditional route this day though, opting for The Dream, which contained fresh fruit of my choice, homemade pudding, and fresh whipped cream. The wrapping was a little clumsy, coming out in kind of a ice cream cone shape, but man alive, Tokyo Crepe's definitely knows their way around crepes, whipped cream and homemade pudding. The difference between store bought and homemade never was more apparent. Wildly fantastic. My only complaint that the crepe was tougher to gnaw on the deeper I went, with the folds become thicker and chewier as a whole. It was definitely a sloppy affair past the midway point, but one I was willing to tackle.

Feeling myself reaching a state of near coma, I dangerously decided to embark on one more culinary adventure at Happy Camper Snoballs. Verdict? Worth it. With the arrival of fall, Happy Camper decided to offer a new flavor for the season, the Fall Harvest, an apple cider thing full of spices. Lightly sweet, a little tart and slightly spicy from the spices and touch of ginger, the Harvest was a cool and pleasant way to cap off a frantic afternoon of good eats. The visual touch was great as well with the Chinese to go box, slightly creepy alien spoon, and straw for sucking up all those sweet juices drip to the bottom of all the shaved ice.

I had an excellent time at the rodeo, and hope to return for the remaining food trucks I missed out on. The whole event itself was a great time, filled with music, tours of the Holy City Brewery, and a little shopping on the side with some street vendors. Definitely a worthwhile event to check out if you are in the Holy City, for both foodies and families on the prowl for a good time.


Nichole Livengood said...

Hi fellow food blogger. I am salivating over this post. Gvlle has uno truck: Sexy Taco (fish taco is a must eat). I love the way you rated Pita House, too... next time you swing through town, check out Lebanese Restaurant on Wade Hampton Blvd across from McDonalds (Taylors/Greer area).
Happy food travels.
Gap Creek Gourmet

Bach Pham said...

I had no idea there was a food truck in Greenville, SC! I will definitely have to venture over and check it out the next time I'm in town.


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