Dear New England,
Have you ever been to a food truck festival? This was my first one! And, ohhh, the food. You can see all of the choices we had, so it’s safe to tell you the following: no, we didn’t eat something at every truck, and yes, we purposely skipped certain trucks.
Don’t hate! There is a reason. We purposely skipped three trucks, and I’ll share with you why. BT’s Smokehouse was skip number one *gasp* I know, what a sin. Why would we skip one of the most highly regarded and rewarded bbq joints in New England??!
Because! We go there often. As I’m sure will come up in later posts, we rather enjoy Tree House brewing in Monson/Charlton, and BT’s (whose brick & mortar location is on Route 20) is a must-go when we’re over there. So we opted to skip on the food truck fest prices. I promise you, they will be featured VERY soon!
The other two were Say Cheese! (operating out of Worcester) and Murphy’s (whose brick & mortar location is in Agawam.) Both trucks frequent Iron Duke brewing in Ludlow, another popular stop for my friends and myself. Both trucks are excellent, but again, we opted to skip trucks we have regular access to.
I mean, a lady only has so much room in her belly!
What’s the first thing you do when you get to a food festival? I’m not sure, really. And since the day was “supposed” to be overcast but turned into sunny & blue skies (read: it got toasty,) we opted to scope out the beer garden. While it looks rather paltry, I can say the Sam Adams beer garden did have quite a few selections. And that special beer they had just for the festival? A batch of Coldsnap they either brewed or reserved for the weekend.
Of course I opted for the Coldsnap. I know many in the craft beer community are either for or against Sam Adams (again, another time, another post) but I have endless respect for the man behind the brews. Jim Koch gave up a lot to brew beer, because he loved it. Who can not agree with that! Unfortunately, having had two Coldsnaps, I was disappointed by how…not very cold they were. Coldsnap is up there on my list of favorite Sam’s, and once it started warming up, I decided to switch.
The switch was, for lack of better terms, interesting. Curious Traveler had their own section, and as you can see, they were offering their Jack-O Pumpkin Shandy. A bit odd, considering it’s the end of July. But, hey…to each their own! And it was cold.
Overall, the beer/adult beverage selection wasn’t all that bad. They had something for everyone (including hard root beer floats, courtesy of the Coney Island Brand!) The prices were also good, with beers going for $7. Seeing as how the festival was being held on the Big E/Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds, I expected Big E prices. And those range from $9-12, to start!
Also fair to mention, we found a tent selling bottles of soda and water for a fair price of $2! Not too shabby, guys.
I’m not Polish, but when there’s fresh pierogi’s to be had, you better believe I’m having them! Bernat’s Polish Meat Products is located on Meadow St in Chicopee, and while we (as in: my boyfriend and I) keep meaning to stop in, this was my first experience. Not disappointing. I have a high bar for Polish food (I grew up eating Millie’s pierogi’s, also a Chicopee staple.) And Bernat’s were excellent! They had spicy brown mustard and horseradish available, which often go with a number of the dishes they had to choose from. Sticking to my go-to, the potato & cheese pierogi’s were a great value (3 for $5) and a great start.
If we could’ve handed out an award for “best sales pitch/tag line,” Chompers would be my #1!! Crunchy balls of goodness! Or so their truck proclaims. For $8, you get 5 balls of goodness, either the chicken parm or bacon cheeseburger. I opted for the chicken parm, the other half opted for the bacon cheeseburger (you’ll soon learn about his affection for anything cheeseburger.)
First off, it was a horrible decision for the group of 5 adults to get two orders of each. These things are MASSIVE (go ahead, get your giggle on.) But, they were delectable. Finger-lickin’, I’d even venture to say. The bacon cheeseburger balls came with a zesty ketchup combo that complimented them just right. Very flavorful, and encompassed the bacon cheeseburger idea well.
The chicken parm was good, just not on the same level. A friend pointed out that the chicken appeared to be boiled, which stripped away any attempt at adding flavor. The bites I had that included a significant amount of cheese were amazing! Overall, these crunchy balls of goodness were great, and as you’ll see as we go on, could’ve been given in smaller quanitities (which a matching reduction in price.)
Chompers (860) 218-5622
15 Pine Acres Dr, Canton, CT
While I’m not Polish, I am very much French Canadian. Clearly, I directed one of my friends to the Poutine Gourmet truck. Let’s be clear of something: it’s Poots-in, not Poot-een. Thank you for staying with me this far, eh.
Poutine, for those uninitiated among the masses, is a Canadian dish that, at it’s most basic, consists of: french fries, cheese curds, and a light gravy. Having been served poutine in the heart of Quebec, my standards are high. And the Poutine cart (which can also be found by the Big Yellow Slide during the Big E) doesn’t let me down.
Their fries are cooked just right, with no hint of burning or soggy, oily-ness. This is important, as fries are the building blocks, the foundation of poutine. Their cheese curds are impressive, and once they settle in and on the fries, they melt just right so you get that yummy, stringy effect with each bites. Last, but certainly not least, the gravy. Light, but still packing a punch of warmth and flavor, it tied together a perfect batch of poutine for only $8.
Fun Fact: the guy operating Chompers and some of the wonderful people operating Poutine Gourmet are siblings! Cheers to keeping delicious food truck noms in the family!
Poutine Gourmet (860) 335-4555
338 Buckland St, Plantsville, CT
Ready to hate me? I was so overwhelmed by the tempting cannoli’s (and possibly sliding into an early food coma) when we came across Meriano’s Cannoli truck, I forgot to take a photo of our cannoli’s!! My boyfriend’s love for cheeseburgers can only be eclipsed by his love of cannoli’s, so we had dessert a bit early. The above photo was taken from their website (which will be linked at the end.)
Delightfuly. Heavenly. Magical.
I opted for the Raspberry Chocolate while OH (the other half) opted for the Original. If you’ve never had a cannoli, shameful because you’re missing out. Cannoli’s consist of a tubular pastry shell that, in it’s original form, contains a whipped riccota filling with the ends dipped into chocolate chips. They, of course, only get fancier from there.
Many places (read: local grocery store bakeries) fall short on cannoli’s mainly for the pastry shell. They’re often soft and get soggy rather quickly. A well-made cannoli should be crisp, but easy to bite into. Italian magic, I say. Meriano’s scores! And the filling..! My cannoli was chocolate dipped (guys, I’m saying, the whole shell) and filled with a raspberry filling with the occasional chocolate chip. Another common failing is the filling tends to be too sweet, but alas, Meriano’s scored again! They nailed the light, fluffiness with the right amount of raspberry without making your teeth hurt for a mere $4 per cannoli.
If it wasn’t so hot out, I would’ve bought some to bring home. But, knowing the box of cannoli’s from La Fiorintina’s barely lasted a few hours the other day, I opted to just savor the memory.
Meriano’s Bake Shop (203) 779-5812
200 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT
By this time, I needed to walk off a fair amount of the calories I had indulged in. But OH’s brother had spotted the Open Season food truck earlier, and had yet to hush about their venison chili option.
After being offered, I helped myself to a piece of the jalapeño corn bread. Corn bread seems to be one of those “hit or miss” menu items, and boy, did the Camo Chefs hit! Somehow, they were able to keep the bread light and fluffy, but still buttery with that ever-so-soft intro-burn of jalapeño. And as was described to me by OH’s brother, the bread was the right amount of sweet with a slight heat to open your palate to the appropriate spiciness of the chili. Even after he had finished, he noted how he still had the favorable post-chili warmth at the back of his throat, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
They also had elk hot dogs, and a (V) option labeled “Lousy Hunter.” I hope I run into these guys again, because I’d love to get a real taste of their food!
Open Season (401) 921-2911
10 Music Lane, Warwick, RI
As they day went on, and the temperature unexpectedly went up, we were about to call it quits when some of the guys opted to stop for coffee. Right next door was Jay’s Wicked, a local bbq and hot sauce company. It’s July in New England, why wouldn’t I check this place out?
They have 6 options: Barbeque, Spicy Gold, Honey Raz-BQ, Fiery Chipotle, Green Rocket, and Habañero. I’ll stick to the first three, as I was too far into coma status to want to try anything spicy.
Barbeque is, simply put, perfection. Once I had a taste, my mind immediately flipped to throwing wings on the grill that had marinated in this deliciousness for a few hours. It’s your all-American summer bbq sauce. Dare I say, it could give Sweet Baby Ray’s a run for their money? If you get your hands on this sauce, you will not be disappointed.
Spicy Gold is their take on southern/Carolina style sauce. It doesn’t fail it’s name! At first taste, you get a solid kick in the buds with the roasty mustard flavor. This could easily become a substitute in my kitchen for any recipe that calls for mustard.
Honey Raz-BQ is last, but oh-so-not least. It’s listed as having no heat, but do not fear! The flavor and aroma will not leave you feeling like you wandered astray. Sweet, but the bbq sauce sweet you always look for, supplied between the raspberries and honey (which is provided by a location in Barre.) This could work as a sauce, or as a glaze.
Guys. If you ever think of purchasing something online, this is it. I promise. They’re also available locally: Arnold’s Meats (2 locations, Grattan St in Chicopee and Shaker Road in East Longmeadow,) Hardwick Farmer’s Co-Op (Lower Road in Hardwick,) and The Shops at Marketplace (Main Street in Springfield.)
Worth noting, if you subscribe to their website, you receive 20% off of your first online order!
Overall, the food truck festival did not disappoint. If someone would ask, I would only have two recommendations: one, if you’re a part of a festival, I feel that your portions should be much smaller. With 40+ food trucks, I’m sure people feel pulled into which trucks they realllly want to try, and how much money they have available. They had such a wide range of amazing options (and it all smelled just as good!) I felt a bit short changed when having to choose only a few trucks to visit. And yes, OH and I could have shared dishes (like the Chompers, oh boy) but we also have varying tastes in food. So, smaller options with comparible pricing.
And two, open up your beer garden game! Food trucks and craft beer are going hand-in-hand these days. You’ll see as much in future posts about our brewery visits. While the beer garden had a great selection of Boston Beer Company offerings (Sam Adams, Angry Orchard, Curious Traveler,) I think allowing some other local craft breweries to have a small offering would’ve really ramped up the place. I spotted a significant amount of people wearing t-shirts supporting craft beer, and I feel the truck fest fell short in their/my expectations.
New England Food Truck Festival
We had a great afternoon! The fairgrounds opened up the Better Living Center so people could get out of the sun and sit down. There were lawn games, face painting, and plenty of seating for the hundreds of people who attended. There were SO many food trucks that covered SO many food options, from halal, to vegetarian, to meat lovers, to sweets! I look forward to visiting again.