Saturday, June 13, 2015

Capital City Food Truck Festival -- Day 2

I returned for Day 2 and wasn't disappointed.

First, Visit Topeka fixed some of the initial problems by moving the food trucks apart and spacing
Pulled pork, Mr. Nice Guy's
everything out a bit more. There were also better markers indicating where the lines should go and end, so there was less confusion today. There were just as many people, though.

Topeka definitely turned out for this event, and organizers were not expecting the turnout. I heard over 4,000 people attended on Friday alone, and even more are coming out today, (Saturday). Some food trucks were running out of food, but that happens with food trucks. They only have a limited amount of space, so that happens.

Philly Cheesesteak, Mr. Nice Guy's
When Ryan and I first got there today, we jumped into Mr. Nice Guy's line, which didn't seem too long. We only waited about 30 minutes to order and a few more for our food which was acceptable. We got a pulled pork sandwich and a Philly cheesesteak. The pork sandwich was good, but nothing special. I think they roast the meat as opposed to smoking it, which is fine with me, it was still tender, juicy and good. My favorite barbecue sauce, Sweet Baby Ray's was available for smothering so that was a plus.

The Philly cheesesteak is what I'd write home about, though. I've heard people talk about how Mr. Nice Guy's, located in Oakland, has the best cheesesteak in town, and now I know they weren't lying. I don't even like green peppers but I could eat this sandwich without complaint. I tried a couple bites of Ryan's and couldn't get over the fact that the green peppers didn't bother me. The meat is tender, steaming hot and the melted cheese sauce makes it that much better. I would order it again, never mind the pulled pork.
Chocolate avocado smoothie,
photo courtesy of Bailey Mushok

Next, we tried the Purple Carrot Co-Op, where you can find vegan cuisine. Their line wasn't long but they always seemed to have one. We had to try one of their avocado chocolate smoothies because we kept hearing good things from other people. The smoothie was  definitely different, but still good. It was bright green with chunks of dark chocolate floating around in it. At first I wasn't sure about it, but after a few swigs I quickly realized I really liked it. I The chocolate chunks melted in your mouth and blended well with the strong avocado flavor and I thought the two flavors worked together.

As we were waiting for our shake, X-Marks the Spot showed up so I jumped in line to wait for them to open. We waited for about an hour because they were being inspected, (Blue Moose had the same thing before they could open), but then only waited about 10 minutes for our food to be cooked. I got a grilled chicken wrap and Ryan got the Wrigley Dog, which seemed like a Chicago dog just with a different name. It was a little different, but pretty much a Chicago dog.

I appreciated the chicken wrap because it featured salad greens instead of iceberg lettuce, which most
Grilled chicken wrap, X-Marks the Spot
places use. The chicken was juicy and hot, the mustard didn't overwhelm me and I liked the tomato bacon jam. It was sweet and smokey thanks to the bacon. The tortilla didn't rip and everything stayed together until the very end. I would order this wrap again, but I may try the veggie wrap next time.

X-Marks the Spot was not serving their pickle fries, (my favorite) but with good reason. The pickles were messing up the fryer and causing longer wait times I'm sure, because when you batter and fry things, much of the batter separates off and leaves little floating pieces of overcooked batter which sticks to other fried items, wreaking havoc on your fryer. I don't blame them for taking the pickles off the menu. Hopefully that is only for the festival and the pickle fries will be back on their regular, daily menu. I didn't ask.

The Wrigley Dog, X-Marks the Spot
The Wrigley Dog looked pretty amazing, probably about like an authentic Chicago dog. The only thing that stood out to me as way different was the bun. It seemed like they weren't as soft and yeasty as the buns I remember in Chicago, they were a little more dense, but that's not to say it was bad. It's not from Chicago, so of course it will be a little different.

Overall, I feel like the Capital City Food Truck Festival was a hit. New events always have kinks to be worked out, and as long as the event coordinators are open to suggestions, things will be better next year. Even this year I thought was a great turnout, good, tasty food and Topekans showed up to support the event.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Capital City Food Truck Festival -- Day 1

The hubs and I checked out the Capital City Food Truck Festival tonight. There were so many people, it was awesome! Now, if only the weather will be as beautiful tomorrow as it was tonight.

Before I headed out to the crowd, I checked the Facebook event page to see what people were saying. Some were complaining about the length of the food lines and others were complaining about finding the end of the line. I have to say, I didn't have an issue with either of those complaints.

First of all, it's dinner time and Topeka is hungry for food trucks, you're going to wait in line. Secondly, there were markers at the end of each line -- a piece of paper with "END OF LINE" then the food truck's name printed on it, indicated the end of each line. I thought it was a pretty clever idea. I just started at the beginning of the line and followed it to the end where I would find that lovely piece of paper. Here's an article by KSNT about how the organizers of the event are already planning improvements for tomorrow, Day 2.

The first truck we picked was called Big Boyz Gourmet out of St. Marys, Kansas.  There were a bunch of different tacos on the menu, so of course Ryan was down for that. Plus, the line wasn't as long as some of the others. We waited 25 minutes to order our food, and probably another 15-20 minutes for our order. (I actually ran over to CoffeeCake KC and got some coffee cake real quick because their line wasn't long). I ordered the chicken feta taco but only because they were out of all the rest of their tacos except the salmon, and I didn't want salmon. Ryan got one and he liked it a lot, I'm just not sure about smoked salmon tacos. I went for the chicken.

Chicken Feta taco
It was warm, fresh and tasty. The grilled flour tortilla was topped with chopped chicken, feta,
cabbage, pico de gallo, chimichurri sauce and basil cream. The feta was a great contrast with the chimichurri and basil cream, but the pico seemed lost to me. I could have used a little more pico for my taste, but overall it was really good. Hopefully, tomorrow they will have their steak tacos back, and I just might try that. I liked their food and plan to check them out again in the future.

Each taco cost $5. They seemed a little small for $5, but there was a lot of meat and filling, so I got pretty full off of just one.

Coffee cake
CoffeeCake KC ran out of cookies and cupcakes, so I tried their coffee cake and a blended mocha drink. The coffee cake was sweet, moist and dense, just like I like it. I don't, however, like white icing, so I removed all of that, which there wasn't much. After that, it was delightful. The only thing I would like to have in addition is some kind of crumb-like topping. That's one of my favorite parts of coffee cake, but this was still good without it.

Each piece of coffee cake was $3. I thought the price was right for the size of piece that was served. The mocha was $4, about what you'd pay at any coffee shop.

 The blended mocha was creamy and chocolatey and ice cold. It would be great on a hot day, and it was still great tonight even though it was a cool 73 degrees. It reminded me of chocolate milk, only frozen. Yum.

I'm looking forward to returning tomorrow and trying a few more trucks. The festival is open from 11 am until 9 p.m. so, we are planning to go for lunch and dinner. There were lots of people tonight, and the lines were long, but I feel like it's a great event for Topeka. It was the first night and Visit Topeka, the organizers of the event, is already planning improvements for tomorrow, Day 2. It can only get better next year, and I plan to be there then, too. Hope to see ya there!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Annie's Place

I felt like some good pie so I went to Annie's Place for lunch.  I know I've been before, but for some reason I never wrote a review for my blog. I did, however, write one for the Washburn Review in 2011, and you can read it HERE.

When I walked inside it was nice and cool and the hostess sat me immediately. It wasn't very busy so my waitress was right over.

I ordered iced tea to drink. I must say, it's some good stuff. The waitress said it's brewed daily, and it's strong, too. I don't usually add sugar to weak tea, but this stuff was strong enough to hold up to some sweetness, so I added a pink one. I even got a to-go cup to take it with me because I didn't want to waste it.

The menu offers a nice variety of items including, salads, appetizers, soups, sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, dinner entrees and specialty items. Can't forget the bakery that churns out various pies, brownies and desserts. There's also a breakfast menu, which I've never tried. I hope to try it sometime soon.

I went for the Guacamole Burger and asked to add lettuce, tomato and pickle. I got chips because I didn't feel like fries. The chips were just crinkle-cut potato chips that are probably from a bag. The burger was good, but after putting my "salad" on my burger I took a huge bite and got a bad surprise. The pickle chips were not dill pickle chips, they were sweet pickle chips. Bleh. Not what I was expecting on a guacamole burger. It was pretty awful, (which one can argue would still be awful with dill pickles). I pulled the rest of them off of the burger and continued.

The guacamole was creamy, with no real chunks of avocado in it. It wasn't spicy and I kind of wish it had just a little more jalapeƱo flavor to it. Spiciness aside, I like guac on my burger and I would order it again. Although, next time I may eat it a little differently starting out. No pickles and I should try to plan out how I'm going to eat it so it's less messy. I ended up with guacamole all over me, the table and my plate. The guac shot out both sides of the burger the first time I sank my teeth in, covering my cheeks in avocado and dripping all over the plate and table. Awesome. I was lucky it wasn't busy and nobody saw me.

The bun was one item that stood out to me, mostly because they are made in-house. It was fluffy, a little dry (as opposed to chewy), but in a good way, and it held up to my messy burger. The guacamole just slid all over the place and would have caused most buns to become soggy or rip. This one did neither and I was able to eat my burger sans fork all the way to the end. Plus, the bun tasted good and that's what really matters. It durability was an added bonus.

I wasn't done with lunch, I wanted dessert.

This time, I ordered the Mile-High Apple Pie, which is essentially apple pie a'la mode. Oh yum. In
my last article I only ordered the apple pie but this time I added ice cream. The crust was my favorite part, because it's sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar it seems crunchy, but in a good way. At first I thought the ice cream was made in-house, but after asking I found out it wasn't. The scoop they give is a pretty generous one, and I like lots of ice cream on my pie. The apples were tender and sweet, with just enough cinnamon for me. I felt like there was a good texture combination in this dish -- soft apples, crunchy crust, doughy bottom crust, creamy ice cream and rough sugar-crust. Yum.

I think my only complaint for the menu would be the pricing. I spent $18 on my meal, dessert and a drink. For lunch, that seems a little pricey. I did get the pie a'la mode, but that was $6 of my meal. Subtract that completely and I'm still paying around $12 for lunch. I think they have the same prices for dinner, so there's that. I don't mind spending a little bit more money for good food, which it was, and most of it's made right there, in the restaurant every day -- such as the homemade hamburger buns. I would recommend trying Annie's Place for lunch some time or just dessert. (They even sell whole pies.)