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Foodie in training. Currently focusing on my senior year curriculum, so there have not been recent posts. Please peruse previous posts for recommendations!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Gypsy Picnic 2011

Bringin' the gypsy to the picnic

If you got to experience Gypsy Picnic this year, yay! I hope you ate your fill of the variety of trailer food and enjoyed the amazing weather. If you went to last year’s Gypsy Picnic and tried it out again this year, WASN’T IT 50,000X BETTER?

The harsh, but true criticism of the first-ever Gypsy Picnic in 2010 was heeded and the attendees benefitted. I was thoroughly impressed by C3’s improvements to the festival: the area blocked off at Auditorium shores seemed twice as big as last year, the number of trucks increased and the vendors were more prepared overall.

This year I had the chance to work behind-the-scenes at the festival at The Peached Tortilla. If you’ve read my posts (and there isn’t an overabundance of them...yet) you should know that I’m madly in love with the Banh Mi taco and all other things ‘peached.’ So basically I felt like I was getting to work backstage on the set of one of my favorite TV shows!

"I'm a peach head!"

Being on the inside of the truck – or in Gypsy Picnic’s case, on the other side of the table – was such an amazing experience! I got to talk to so many cool people and tell hundreds of hungry folks that they should buy one of my favorite foods in Austin. And man, were we churning out some tacos!

I parted ways with the peached crew around 2 p.m., but not before having a banh mi taco, BBQ brisket taco and szechwan veggie taco. I have no shame. The Szechwan veggie was new to me and caught me off guard with how spicy it was. The eggplant, red bell pepper and onions blended well with the black bean garlic sauce, tofu and pickled daikon slaw. I don’t think anything will top the banh mi taco for me though.

After happily stuffing my face, I wandered out to the center of the park to try to decide where I wanted to go with my $20 in ‘research funds.’

My first stop was Short Bus Subs because I saw on Twitter that it was one of their peeps' birthday and I have never been out to visit the trailer at Mueller Park. Eric, the birthday boy and one of the three co-owners and brothers who runs the bus, traded my birthday wish for a sub!

The Short Bus

I sampled The Hot Teacher, a veggie sub with roasted portabella mushroom, red pepper, sun-dried tomato pesto, mozzarella, cheddar and fresh sun dried tomatoes. I was honestly surprised with how good the sub was. I mean subs are subs, but I think it was the sun-dried tomato pesto and freshly baked from scratch bread that made it.

My second stop was East Side King, the fan favorite winner. A hippy-biker type recommended the Thai Chicken Karaage, but I opted for the Fried Brussels Sprout Salad. It was a unique combo of fried brussels sprouts, sweet and spicy sauce, shredded cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, basil, cilantro, mint, onion and jalapeƱo. The brussels sprouts were flavorful and not deep fried, just crispy enough. I’m not sure if it was the sweet and spicy sauce or the mint in the dish, but something triggered a coughing fit. I had to give up on the rest of the salad which was unfortunate because I really liked it!

East Side King
Left Thai Chicken Karaage, Right Fried Brussels Sprout Salad

I met up with some friends and we made our way over to Tenderland for the “battered” (aka deep fried) pork tenderloin sandwich. It was HUGE! I snagged a couple of bites of my friend’s sandwich and it was good, but a little too much fried sandwich for me. I think if they made the sandwich in a smaller portion it’d be better, but it’s not something I would seek out to buy.

Gypsy Michelle with her Austin-made craft beer and tenderloin sandwich.

I was getting full, but I had few more stops on my list. I powered through to give you more, fellow food truck lovers. I had planned on trying Ju Ju’s Kaboose, a Cajun/traditional Louisianan food trailer that I learned about for the first time in the Gypsy Picnic lineup. I loved the roving musicians that happened to be walking by as were waiting in line at Ju Ju’s, especially because they had a brass band sound that went along with the Cajun cuisine.

The roving jazz band!

Having roots in New Orleans I was really looking forward to trying the Crawfish Cornbread served up by Ju Ju herself…I was so disappointed. The cornbread was served in a cupcake sleeve with a spoon. You needed the spoon because it was so mushy you couldn’t eat it like normal crumbly corn bread. It lacked flavor overall and left me wishing I had a bottle of Crystal hot sauce to pour all over it. The Pork Poboy did look like the real thing (compared to some so-called poboys I've seen in Austin), but I was too full and also didn’t want to shell out $8 to try the foot long sub.

Ju Ju's Kaboose
Crawfish Cornbread

My last two samples before dessert were bites of each slice from Spartan Pizza. The Zeus, made with roasted garlic olive oil (something I don’t think I’ve ever tried, but loved!), bacon, spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella, was delicious, but was a little overtaken by the bacon. It seemed to be their rendition of a Margarita pizza. I really liked The Spartan with tomato sauce, green bell pepper, white onion, lots of fresh garlic and parmesan, and topped with red pepper flakes. People at the picnic had said that Spartan Pizza was better than Homeslice Pizza which is pretty much the only place that can get me out of the house for a pie. Though Spartan definitely gave 'em a run for their money, I think Homeslice still has a special place on my palette.

Van kissing eating a slice of The Zeus.

I ended on a high note with the Frozen Hot Chocolate from Holy Cacao. Holy chocolate was that shake amazing. I had planned on sharing it with a friend to try to compensate for all the calories I’d already consumed, but once I tasted that sucker I became very greedy. It was great when you were drinking it and at the end of each sip there was a punch of chocolate that stayed with you. Everyone I was with either bought or shared one after tasting it. Yeah, it was good.

Leah and I fighting over Holy Cacao's Frozen Hot Chocolate.

Overall, this Gypsy Picnic was a 500% improvement from last year. Lines were kept to three minutes or less at most spots, hardly anyone sold out before 5 p.m. and the $3 samples at every trailer made it easy to try a wide variety. AND I got to meet Tiffany Harelik of Trailer Food Diaries who I consider to be a total local celebrity.

Tiffany Harelik, Trailer Food Diaries author and co-creator of Gypsy Picnic and me squinting happily.

This food truck foodie left feeling happy, full and excited for next year's picnic.

Which trailer was your favorite? Did you try one of the dishes I did? Do you agree or disagree with my reviews? Was there something I missed that I need to hunt down around Austin? Leave a comment below and share your Gypsy Picnic experience with me!