There is a fun, new food trend in town and I am happy to hop on it …. the gourmet food truck. Lansing has gotten itself some stellar new locations to find fresh, exciting, innovative and creative food. To add to that already impressive list of adjectives is that they are also local, seasonal, organic and sustainable. So, not only is the food amazing, your psyche gets a jolt of good karma to boot. Trailer Park’d @TrailerParkd Boasting “Slow” Fast Food, Trailer Park’d was the first truck I chased down to sample this new trend of roaming restaurant fare. The trailer was parked in Old Town. A few seats were lined up against the truck and there was a barbqueue billowing smoke from what appeared to be actual hardwood. Upon perusing the menu, I found myself first confused, and then somewhat aghast. Was I hallucinating, or was one of the most sophisticated menus I had seen in the Lansing area written on a chalkboard and attached to a trailer? Did I see a salad with rhubarb, fennel, ramp, chevre and apricot balsamic vinaigrette? Seriously? As I eyeballed what was being passed through the food window, I had to approach my fellow diners for the low down. Apparently there are some staples on the menu that are usually available, like the Ballin’ Ass Taco (chorizo, queso freso, mole verde, lime and cilantro) and The Burger (grass fed beef, fontina, greens, caramelized onion, focaccia). However, because the truck’s philosophy is seasonal and local, many items come and go depending upon what is available. The soups, salads and sides are always changing. I went with a Tasso Ham and Cheese sandwich and a salad composed of, well, lots of stuff. The ham sandwich was a departure from what you would find in most lunch spots. First off, the ham was beautiful. Yes, I said beautiful. It had a mean kick of pepper that was off-set by a cool and creamy cole slaw. The salad was also beautiful. Collard greens, kale, asparagus, potatoes, kalamata olives and a gorgeous fried egg, all harmonized together under a kicky balsamic dressing. Everything served was so fresh and so well seasoned, it almost made me forget that I barely had a chair. The Purple Carrot @eatpurplecarrot My Purple Carrot day was HOT. I found them in the parking lot of the Hannah Office building. First of all, this truck is adorable and I couldn’t wait to see what they had to offer. Upon investigation of the menu, I was flabbergasted at how novel the choices were, most of them being driven by what was fresh and locally available. How lucky was I, on this sweltering day, that a Chilled Asparagus and Yogurt Soup was my first course. Emily, my fellow foodie and editor, joined me, so along with the soup we got a Beet Salad and two of the truck’s “Sammys.” The soup was perfectly cool and satisfying. The flavor was somewhat flirty. There was a “prosciutto” chip that added some salt and crunch. The yogurt was accompanied by some rice wine vinegar that hit you with a tang, and it was all rounded out with a dash of tarragon. The Beet Salad was made with the greens of the beets themselves, roasted red and gold beets, and topped off with goat cheese, puffed quinoa and maple vinaigrette. The quinoa was my favorite part. Against the smoothness of the goat cheese, the quinoa added such a cool, unexpected texture. Let us move on to the sandwiches. Emily and I choose the Banh MI and the Pure Michigan Smoked Chicken Salad to share. The Banh MI showcased Vietnamese spiced chicken, chicken pate, siracha mayonnaise, pickled carrots, daikon, jalapeño and cilantro. The chicken salad was made with free range chicken, cherry honey mustard, walnuts and fresh herbs. Upon sampling these two winners, I decided to arm wrestled Emily for her half of the Banh and she stole my half of the chicken salad. I loved the spicy punch of the Banh, and the velvety pate took it all to a new level of gastromic bliss. Emily cooed over the chicken salad’s chewy, tart cherries and the big crunch of walnuts. The best part of the meal however, was the Carrot Cake Pops. For $1, I discovered love on the end of a stick. Moist, dense carrot cake dipped in purple frosting and chilled. Yum! Now since these roaming restaurants make their way around town, you have to find them using Facebook or Twitter. Or just look for the lines. Though not new to the area, I feel we need to give a shout out to two other mobile dining experiences we have around town. El Oasis on Michigan Avenue (@ElOasisTruck) has fantastic tortas. And make sure to support Clint’s Hot Dog Cart across from the Capitol. He has a great selection of dogs, including a Chicago Dog, and he makes his own chili. The moral of the story is no more fast food in the car. Go find our fun new food trucks and support the local economy while eating some fantastic culinary creations.
Colette Evangelista sells certified organic, non-toxic beauty, health, baby and home products at www.healthandhopeorganics.com. Twenty percent of her profits go to Ascending Above Autisim, a charity that helps parents pay for autism treatment.