You know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? --Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

TeenwithTaste on Tour?--Senior Project Extravaganza

You may have seen me out of school--in early May nonetheless--and wondered: what is he doing with all his time? Well, when I'm not making pizzas at Snap Custom Pizza in Ardmore, PA, I'm working on my Senior Project! The Senior Project is a required study that each senior at LM has to do before he or she graduates. It's super open ended and has allowed for me to take on a project where I make most of the rules.

For my project, I'm trying to create a picture of what I think "dining out" in America will be like in the future. In the 60s and 70s when McDonald's began appearing everywhere, fast food was on the horizon for America. Now, the scene has changed. My job in a fast-casual style restaurant has caused me to think about what kind of restaurant will succeed in the future of America. Americans want food quickly--but with a level of quality. The  environment one gets from Snap, for instance, offers food quickly without compromising quality. But Snap is not the entire answer to my question--what about those who want luxurious food? Or food even more on-the-go than fast-casual can offer?

Today, I spent time exploring one path I see food walking in the future: the food truck. Food trucks are becoming a staple in cities across America. A good food truck offers high quality food served up on the go, in whatever relaxing environment it's parked in. Today, I visited three trucks parked in LOVE Park, in Philadelphia.

First, I visited the "Foo Truck," an Asian sandwich truck that--while it didn't look gorgeous on the outside--seemed to pack a flavorful punch into every sandwich it put out and draw a huge crowd--see below! The concept of the Foo Truck is that they take what would be traditional Asian dishes (Lemongrass Chicken, Thai Chicken Curry) and serve them up ready-to-go in a tortilla wrap or "Foowich." When I finally made it through the mob waiting for their food, I ordered Saigon Pork-Belly Foowich Special. Pictured below, it was a succulent combination I just couldn't get enough of! A cool and creamy carrot-daikon slaw (think fancy coleslaw) paired insanely well with the rich, sweet pork belly. I'll definitely have to catch up with The Foo Truck again in the future...and you should too! See what's happening at

Next, I visited the Vernalicious truck. A cleaner design than Foo Truck, but, confusingly, it didn't have the crowd. To make things worse, I realized that I couldn't figure out what kind of food the truck specialized in. The name "Vernalicious" didn't lend itself to any region or type of cuisine. The menu, shown below, confused me further. The top billed item was a pulled pork sandwich, but the next three items were greek specialties! I spoke with an older woman named Claudia who had dined at Vernalicious before, but she couldn't seem to do anything other than rave about the pulled pork sandwich.

I tried the Spanakopita because it's not only one of my favorite dishes to eat but one of my favorites to prepare as well. I was excited--and kind of nervous--to see how the chefs would serve what is usually known as a delicate dish in such a raucous setting, passing it out of a glorified car onto a street corner. Not only was I disappointed with their presentation--the phyllo wasn't flaky, it all seemed uncomfortably doughy--but I was also uncomfortable with the taste. Spanakopita is generally pure: spinach and feta is required; nothing else can take the front seat. With Vernalicious' spanakopita, there was some overwhelming flavor I couldn't place that absolutely soiled the taste I was hoping for from the spinach and feta. Finally, my piece was slightly burned on the bottom. If you want to catch up with Vernalicious later, check, but I can't promise you'll like it. The plate of spanakopita is shown below.

The final truck I went to was the "Cupcake Carnivale" truck. The truck didn't have any sort of crowd, so I decided to strike up a conversation with the only employee in the truck, a nice young lady named Christine. Christine explained she wasn't worried about the fall in sales because she had been at a festival all weekend over a thousand cupcakes each day. After talking about her truck for a few minutes, Christine sold me the signature Carnivale Red Velvet Cupcake seen below. There might have been a little too much cream cheese icing on top, but the cake and the icing were both well done and I was quite pleased with the cupcake as a whole.

Overall, I had a great day in Love Park! I'm excited to see other food trucks in different neighborhoods of Philadelphia--I'll keep you updated on the mission to see if anyone can top what I tasted today!