The Gathering, Part III

GrrChe at the Gathering III in BaltimoreLet me begin, then, at the end.

A lobster mac and cheese sandwich should be phenomenal.  It should ooze creamy cheese sauce with a hint of smokiness and an exotic tang, rich with butter.  An adequate supply of lobster should be interspersed, but it should not overpower the mac and cheese, and the amalgam should be served on a sourdough roll, or on a croissant.

Alas, this was not how my $17 lobster mac and cheese sandwich from GrrChe was constructed.  The mac and cheese was rather tasteless (where was the promised cheddar?), and there was (incredibly) too much lobster involved.  Being served on Texas toast didn’t help matters any (although after-the-fact I did realize I could have specified a different type of bread), with the thick mild bread distracting from the otherwise already flavor-deficient affair.  The combination – it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good, it was just bland.  A traditional grilled cheese with pickle would have tasted better. My heart was broken – this was a disappointing flavor let down from a favored local vendor at the end of what had been an otherwise tasty and (fairly) successful foray into Baltimore food truck cuisine.

Sixteen food trucks, including Baltimore regulars and guests from Washington, D.C., and beyond, parked in the lot across from the Red Star in Fell’s Point for the third installment of The Gathering on Friday night.  Add in live nineties rock covers from Captain Jack, a beer and wine truck selling alcohol to raise money to fight cancer (wristbands benefiting There Goes My Hero and tips going to the Tyanna Foundation), and the entertainment of crowd watching and the various vendors themselves.

Sixteen food trucks is, of course, too much for any one man to sample in one standing.  Nevertheless, giving it my best shot, I managed to taste fare from four of them, two Baltimore vehicles and two from the Washington, D.C., metro area, scoring an even draw.  Except for GrrChe, the trucks were those that I had never tried before.

In chronological order, then, here’s the scorecard:

Turkish Taco from Cazbar at The Gathering IIICazbarDoner Turkish Taco: Beef and lamb doner sliced onto a corn tortilla with all of the traditional doner trappings, excellent flavor, perfect for sampling and still having room for other culinary creations.  A solid win for this great extension of the downtown Baltimore Turkish restaurant of the same name.

Fojol Bros. of Benethiopia – Beef Berbere: Melt-in-your-mouth beef in a spicy Ethiopian sauce with tasty injira bread, in the $2 dingo bite sampler size.  Score one for this Washington, D.C., “traveling culinary carnival”.  Of course, vendors wearing carnival outfits, a juggler, and a stilt-walking hula hooper didn’t hurt either.

Justin the pizza guy flips a pieFlippin PizzaSausage Pizza Slice: Crunchy thin crust, flavorful sausage, but lacking enough pizza sauce, too dry.  Put this one in the loss column, but close to the margin, as watching Justin the pizza guy flipping dough was rather fun.

GrrCheLobster Mac and Cheese on Texas Toast: Conceptually promising but a bland delivery, costing $17.  An extremely dissatisfying and painful loss to close out the evening.

It would, of course, be too much to ask for all of the food to be taste bud blowing.  After all, even if, by some fluke of culinary fortune, all sixteen trucks provided stellar fare from Michelin star chefs, individual taste proclivities would exclude certain items from being likable by certain individuals.  Maybe I just don’t enjoy deep-fried ostrich liver balls – that doesn’t mean you won’t (sadly, no deep-fried ostrich liver balls were served at this event).  Maybe, though, you like more lobster than cheese in your macaroni, or perhaps your anti-tomato and think that the sauce just gets in the way of the meaty goodness…

The point is, this wide selection of food trucks, a beer and wine truck, a live band, a juggler, a pizza spinner, and a hula hooping stilt walker (and I’m sure many more people and things that I missed) – this Gathering had something to offer for everyone.  More than just a taste adventure, it was a community outing, a good cause, a fun Friday night alternative to eating out at a restaurant or boozing it up at the local pub. That is, an entertaining and tasty evening.

***

Food trucks in attendance:

  • Stilt walker hula hooping, part of the Fojol Bros. food truck routineFojol Bros. of Benethiopia
  • Cupcake Runners
  • Miss Twist
  • Gypsy Queen Cafe
  • Creperie Breizh
  • Flippin Pizza
  • Souper Freak
  • Kooper’s Chowhound
  • Cruisin Cafe
  • Dangerously Delicious Pies (technically a table – their truck nowhere to be found)
  • The nameless chicken fish fries truck
  • Silver Platter
  • Iced Gems
  • Miss Shirley’s
  • GrrChe
  • Cazbar

2 thoughts on “The Gathering, Part III

  1. Nice review – thanks! I’m definitely hitting this up soon. Can’t wait, and the heads-up on the mac-n-cheese lobster gig is appreciated. I might have went that direction. Thanks, Dan

  2. I’d suggest going for a different grilled cheese from GrrChe if you’re in the mood for melted dairy and toast. I’ve had their sandwiches a couple of other times and they’ve been tasty. I think this lobster thing, though, was too far out on a limb. The Silver Platter and Gypsy Queen Cafe both boast lobster on their menus as well. I have not tried those specific concoctions yet but this foray makes me nervous. I think lobster might be best simply grilled over an open flame and then drowned in lemon and butter.

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