Food lust from this weekend's The Great Food Truck Race adventure in Denver -- and grades, greatest hits and misses and predictions
For concrete, unassailable proof that Denverites have well and truly embraced the street-food phenomena, all you had to do was walk outside this weekend -- straight into food-truck utopia. As you all know by now, the Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race made an extended pit stop in the Mile High metropolis this weekend as part of a multi-city, cross-country tour that started in Las Vegas, swept through Salt Lake City and Denver and is now en route to Kansas City -- minus one truck, which was eliminated this morning (at Red Rocks, we hear) due to having the lowest sales. Judging from what I saw (and ate) this weekend, that truck is Cafe con Leche, the Cuban truck from Van Nuys, California.
But I digress.
All in all, it was a spectacular weekend full of camaraderie, spirited competition, pranks, speed bumps, theatrics, drama and, for the most part, chow-worthy grub that required six teams from here, there and everywhere to pump out as much food as they possibly could under a ton of pressure: the weight of time constraints, prep constraints, kitchen constraints, parking constraints (thanks to Denver's finest police officers in Wash Park for your leeway!), the strain of having to make enough money to move on, and long queues of crowds with rumbling guts.
The food-truck rivals posted up all over the city, many in collaboration with local mobile food vendors, in Washington Park, in the parking lot of Steuben's, in front of Atomic Cowboy, Marczyk Fine Foods and Cuba Cuba, at the Horseshoe Craft and Flea Market, and, last night, curbside at Great Divide Brewery, which was interesting, mainly because the crew manning the Cafe con Leche truck had hoped to protect its turf without the interference of its competitors.
But, no! The Korilla BBQ truck, hailing from New York, skunked the Cubans, pulling up around 7 p.m., and after a lengthy discussion (all of it caught on camera), the boys were allowed to stay -- with Cafe con Leche's permission. But the Cafe con Leche crew talked smack about the Lime Truck, which one member deemed "Lime slime," as well as the Hodge Podge truck " -- "Hodgey Podgey" -- the two of which stuck together for the duration of the weekend. Neither of those trucks crashed the Great Divide party, but Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese, from Boston, Massachusetts, which had spent the majority of its hours in Wash Park, was fashionably late, and while there was a bit of stomping and kvetching on the part of Frankie, the chef of Cafe con Leche, in the end the trucks managed to amicably co-exist.
We, of course, were there to catch it all on camera, the photos of which are below. Bring your appetite.
Truck: Roxy Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Home turf: Boston, Massachusetts
Denver board: French port salut, foie gras, candied walnut and cherry compote grilled cheese; Vermont goat cheese, Il Mondo Vecchio duck breast prosciutto and fig preserves grilled cheese; Vermont extra sharp cheddar, applewood smoked bacon and caramelized onions grilled cheese; rosemary hand-cut fries with garlic and herb cheddar; beer-battered pickles; Grandma's tomato soup
Biggest hit: The crew running the truck were some of the friendliest boys you'll ever meet, and they sourced locally, from Il Mondo Vecchio; excellent grilled cheese sandwiches, to boot -- and, damn, those fried pickles!
Biggest miss: The lines on Sunday inched along about as quickly as a worn-out worm.
Prediction: The truck keeps rolling.