Truck-A-Roo

6 Nov

I guess as a Wilmington food blogger I felt it my civil duty to check this festival out. As well my civil duty to drink beer and write a review at 6am on a Sunday. I owe it to you. I’ve been slack as fuck lately. Beyond that it was also a chance to check out the new Flaming Amy’s food truck, try some of the trucks I haven’t had a chance to, and drink beer in public. All indications of at least a decent time. I even paid the $12 to get a ballot and be able to sample and vote on everything, mostly because I’m an indecisive person who would rather get everything than choose only one or two. After finding a space in the parking deck yesterday I strolled downtown and flashed my ticket on my phone (technology!) and got down to the business of waiting in line.

Poor Piggy’s BBQ was my first stop because of the way shorter line. I walked up, grabbed a cup of pork BBQ, and scrommed. It wasn’t the most tender I’ve had, and it wanted a squirt of vinegar-based BBQ sauce so bad – but it did have a delicious smokiness to it. I would say it was decent, but not the best I’ve ever had by a long shot. I finished this cup in a second and went to wait in my next line.

 

 

Catch is a place that I have been dying to try. Seriously, if I had a list of places that seem right up my alley it would be at the top. I’m a fan of Chef Rhodes and even forgive him for the Top Chef frozen shrimp sin (it was a team challenge and no one cared about the frozen shrimp until all their shitty dishes landed them on the chopping block) since he was repping for Wilmington on one of my favorite cooking shows. I was beyond excited when I saw that the sample was a crab quesadilla with lobster bisque. I fucking love seafood, and if I was judging based solely on the ballot sampling menu titles, Catch would’ve won right then and there. Unfortunately I then tried it. The lobster bisque was lacking salt and flavor and was just a sad sip of soup. If it had been given to me without explanation I doubt I could have pinned down what it was supposed to be. The crab quesadilla was lacking in cheese and I had a bit of hard something in it, probably crab shell. It was topped with a dallop of Sriracha sour cream that felt sad for being on such a sad food item. It told me so. I was so let down, because Catch had an awesome idea and serious potential to steal my heart, and the show. Kudos for ambition, and while crying my tears into the soup I headed over to the next line.

It was right around this time when they ran out of beer. Truck-A-Roo had two beer trucks and they fucking ran out of beer. I will pay $5 for a festival beer, but be damned if I’m going to pay it for wine (the only thing they had left) unless it’s a whole bottle. How can you not know when this many people show up that they are all going to be drinking beer? The more you know, I guess. Bitch of it is I had already bought a “coupon” for a beer.

Flaming Amy’s is one of my top places to eat. Ever. I go almost every Monday for $3.50 PBR pitchers and burritos. I was worried that they were going to get a lot of votes just because they have such a cult-like following. They definitely had the longest line of anyone, I think mostly due to having the most people ordering actual items. And the fact that they had Flaming Amy’s. I was tempted to say fuck the line and just go to Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn and eat it without as long of a line with the chips and salsa bar. And the all important beer. But being the idiot blogger I persevered and eventually got my Big Jerk chimi with Pineapple Jalapeno salsa and went to the next line to eat it. I have never tried the Big Jerk and am normally not a fan of the Pineapple salsa owing to it’s sweetness BUT the salsa on the chimi worked as a deliciously bright and sweet counterpoint. Goddamn Flaming Amy’s for making me like shit that I don’t even like. Also they had a bottle of Sriracha on the truck ledge.

Patty Wagon had a cute idea, and the second longest line next to Flaming Amy’s. The only difference is the line did not seem to move, at all. At this point my roommate abandoned me to go to nearby Firebellys for a beer and fuck if I can blame him. The ONLY thing that makes standing in line for hours tolerable is being able to drink a beer while doing so. Once I got to the front I realized they were cooking all the sliders to order and giving you a choice of brisket or burger. I opted for the burger slider and was surprised that it came with a couple fries. The burger was seasoned and pretty good, the toppings were fresh and included pickle. The fries seemed to be lacking a bit of salt. The bun of the slider was a little thick and chewy and would have benefited from a quick toasting or warming, but given the situation it’s understandable. I liked it and it was pretty filling for how tiny it was. I also managed to sell my beer ticket to some guy. At this point there was beer again but with two trucks left I couldn’t stand the thought of yet another line.

Webos BBQ doesn’t have a website and seemed to be very much a family affair. The turkey BBQ I got was okay, but even less okay than Poor Piggy’s. I drenched it in hot sauce to get it down. I do think it was poor planning on the BBQ trucks part to not offer a bun for their meat. I mean what chance does a cup of BBQ have against a full on slider or half a chimi which are pretty substantial samples? It just feels like a throwaway.

 

The Cheesy Banker was the last leg of this line marathon. The music blasting from the truck mixed perfectly with the band blasting from the stage to form an impenetrable noise wall. After getting to the front of the line I was handed a half grilled cheese sandwich and a bacon/tater tot/jalapeno skewered on top. The tater tot thing was a cool idea but needed a sauce of some sort to keep it from being just a tater tot. The grilled cheese was not hot and the cheese was already congealed. It was ok, but the sandwich needed something to make it unique.

 

All in all, I like the idea of Truck-A-Roo. The reality was hundreds of people waiting in line for hours to try 6 samples. To get across the fest to the beer tents you had to walk through each line. The beer ran out for half of the two hours I was there. And the two hours I spent there was just waiting in line to try all the samples. I understand this was the first year and bravo for getting it done, but next year there need to be changes. Shorter lines for the samplers who prepaid for the event. A larger space for the lines and better planning for those lines. More beer tents and no beer famines. And sell some booths to other vendors so there’s something to do other than eat the samples. If possible I would even see if you can get some more trucks from around NC in on the act. This could end up being an awesome celebration of Wilmington and NC food, and I have high hopes. But it’s not worth paying $12 for 6 bites of food that I have to stand in line for 2 hours to get. Get your act together, Line A Roo.

Also, the winner by judges and ballot holders alike was, not shockingly, Flaming Amy’s. I agree, with the runners up being Patty Wagon followed by The Cheesy Banker. Word of advice to next years contenders: It’s going to take a lot more than a plain grilled cheese or burger to take down the juggernaut of the Barn. Catch had the right idea, but failed in execution. Let’s see you step it up next year boys.

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