Andrew Zimmern's Truck and Many More on Midtown Tracks for SoBeWFF
For more on the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, check out New Times' Taste guide, hitting newsstands Thursday, February 21.
Andrew Zimmern and Aarti Sequeira.
By the time 2012 was upon us, more than 100 food trucks were rolling around Greater Miami. It seemed only natural some of them should feed the gastrophilic masses of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and so its first truck party, Trucks on the Beach, was launched to close out the fete.
Some changes are afoot this year. The truck gathering is the second-to-last fete of the festival after closing things out in 2012, and are rolling across Biscayne Bay to the ever-trendier midtown area. Take the opportunity to visit an art gallery or a hipster dive bar to warm up for the party. America's favorite bug-eater Andrew Zimmern is still the host and has selected a sampling of trucks from across Florida that dish out everything from Hong Kong-style waffles to wood-oven-baked pizza.
"We only invite the best of the best to the event," Zimmern said, but noted it's impossible to get every truck he would want there. He's also got a different perspective on the food truck business -- figuring how best to serve different markets and how to jump through red tape -- after starting his own cart, AZ Canteen.
Here's the rundown of the featured trucks:
Alisa Romano wanted to spend time with her girls while making the most of her passion for baking and creativity. The result was Color Me Mine. Half art studio, half bakery, kids and adults alike decorate blank clay figures however they choose. Pink and purple polka-dot skull? Sure, and all come with Alisa's cupcakes. The treats became so popular that Alisa put them on wheels, and now everything from bourbon vanilla to key lime pie to peanut butter marshmallow crunch comes to you.
Was it too many bugs, too much jet lag, or hosting the festival's first-ever food truck party that inspired Andrew Zimmern to start his own mobile eatery? AZ Canteen lives up to Zimmern's reputation with griddled veal tongue, oyster and crab gumbo, and cabrito (goat) butter burgers. Zimmern's truck has been touring the country, finding unique challenges and tastes wherever it goes. Still, the memory of Miami must have lingered, because that tongue dish on the menu is vaguely reminiscent of another one that Zimmern ate at a Nicaraguan restaurant while filming for Bizarre Foods Miami.
Brooklyn Italian Ice Company
Can't take the South Florida heat? Fuhgeddaboutit! This cart serves up ice-cold treats bursting with unique flavors like cotton candy, plus old standbys like lemon and blue raspberry. It's just like your childhood in New York City, knocking off fire hydrant covers for a cool stream of water on a hot summer afternoon. Italian ice isn't shaved, but instead is made with fruit concentrates and then frozen -- similar to a sorbet or regular ice cream.
Some people may call cupcakes a fad or passing trend, but anything scratch-made with fresh ingredients will earn followers for a good reason. Alejandra Contenti-Carvajal raised $800 on Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding website, to refit a pocket-sized trailer into a cupcake wonderland. There's double chocolate, there's red velvet, and there are also key lime pie cupcakes with graham cracker and vanilla chai tea.
To pronounce the double l or not to -- that's not the question. The question is what culinary ethnicity do you want smothered in cheese and grilled up inside a tortilla? For vegans, there's the Capresedilla, with mozzarella cheese, tomato, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Or get your deli fix with the Reubadilla, filled with corned beef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut.
It was only a matter of time until Miami's favorite eateries caught onto the food truck craze and realized that going mobile was another way to feed the people. CubanCube is the child of Miami's famous Islas Canarias Cuban restaurant, run by Eileen and Jonathan Andrade. They cover all the bases of Cuban classics with award-winning croquetas and empanadas. They also twist things up with mini ropa vieja sandwiches with mango-lime sauce and the Three Amigos, a trio of fried plantains filled with shrimp ceviche.
The Palm Beach County-based truck fits right in with the Breakers and Worth Avenue, though the seersucker suit and trust fund aren't mandatory. Chefs Mary Brittain Cheatham and Rick Simek source much of their produce locally -- greens from Swank Farms and a Delray tomato grower. Whatever's good usually ends up on a chalkboard of daily specials that throw a curveball at regulars. Soups and breakfast frittatas change daily, but those in the know let the ocean decide with the fresh-catch-of-the-day tacos.
El Rey de las Fritas
You want a real taste of Miami? How about a Cuban guilty pleasure? Fritas are Cubans' far-superior answer to the generic fast food burger. El Rey de las Fritas has been dishing out beef and chorizo patties for years, recently adding a food truck to their frita empire. The juicy, fragrant patties are topped with diced onion and crunchy golden shoestring potatoes, all tucked inside a fluffy toasted Cuban bun. Some are frita purists and may allow a squirt of ketchup. We say go for the slice of American cheese.
Firewall Food Truck
It's a wood-fired oven on wheels. Co-owners Katy Westman and Chris Noe converted a former handicap transit bus into a fire-red pie-making machine. Pizzas are made with Italian "00" flour and San Marzano tomatoes, but no one's handcuffed to classics. There's a Greek salad folded into a pizza crust and a lobster pie made with Florida spiny lobster meat, marinara, and fontina cheese with scallions and lemon.