The sky was an unbroken swirl of gray with the near constant patter of drizzle at the start of Mercer County Park’s First Annual Food Truck Festival. Unlike other annual events held at Mercer Park, which are usually coordinated in the sprawling pastors at the doorstep of Mercer’s Ice Skating Rink, The Food Truck Festival was held in the parking lot overlooking Mercer’s lake.
Under normal circumstances the space would have been a tight squeeze for the sizable turnout, but with the addition of umbrellas, the cramped quarters became a mosh pit of foodies and delivered new respect for the servers who make their living behind the steel walls of their trucks on a day to day bases.
Lines blurred in more than one spot, including those for the Surf and Turf Truck, melding with patrons for Unionville Vineyards and Dark Side of the Moo, an exotic meats food truck.
The average time for each line was roughly 45 minutes, though there were exceptions in addition as well as subtraction when it came to the passage of time and the glory of gastronomic consumption. The line for Dark Side of the Moo, though shorter than Surf and Turf, moved at about one half the speed. Word has it operations for the exotic meat truck weren’t as tightly orchestrated as some other mobiles. Orders were lost or bumbled and the average waiting time was over two hours.
Quantities were understandably limited and meats were swapped in selection as time went by. Along with elk, llama, boar, antelope, venison, duck, alligator and buffalo were available on rotation. In sampling of but a few, llama and wild boar both had a naturally clean taste to them and are exceptionally lean. Elk stood out in a defining taste with a slightly more gamey flavor that registers as an aftertaste to the initial lean beefy flavor. As Melanie, a visitor committed to brave the elements put it, “Apparently any animal tastes like beef if it’s ground up.”
The yielding at the Surf and Turf Truck were fiscally solvent, or so the constant pace of patrons would suggest. Respectably, there were only six items offered on their menu, three of them different verities of lobster roll. The star of the show was without question the Lobster BLT, which despite the obviousness of its name deserves further explanation.
The lobster was seared in a white truffle olive oil, surrounded by steamed kale, topped with bacon bits and placed inside a lightly toasted six inch slice of French bread. The lobster was sweet and paired magnificently with the middle taste of truffle oil. Topped with bacon for a salty finish inside the textural crunch of the bread, it was well worth the rain and the cold for many who had come out for Surf and Turf’s truck alone.
Over the course of the of the afternoon a banquet-like feast took place under the awnings of umbrellas, sampling tater tots from The Tot Cart, Cheese Curds from the Cow and the Curd, artisan doughnuts from Underground Doughnuts, authentic Mexican cuisine from Taco Truck, gourmet sliders from Outslider and of course, fired Oreos, which though technically did not come from a food truck, are stables of typical fair cuisine and should always be purchased in homage to the gods of outdoor festivities.
It’s natural that some trucks fared better than others. Selling out well before the scheduled closing at 7 p.m. the Moo and Oink Chili at Oink Moo BBQ, made with brisket and pulled pork, which sounds like the best thing ever invented by mankind (electricity doesn’t even come close) was sold out by 3 o’clock. And while far fewer people visited their truck, more than quite a few salads contained in plastic travel cups floated around, purchased by from Kevin's Salad Station, a healthy and vegetarian alternative to the otherwise carnivore dominated festival.
By the time the festival closed at 7 p.m. many were shivering and wet and a tad poorer then they would have liked to admit, but satisfyingly stuffed with some of the best food New Jersey’s fleet of Food Trucks had to offer. Word has it the food trucks might return in the fall for a second round of mobile festivities. We can only hope they do, and this time the weather is a bit more cooperative.
Food Trucks participating were: The Cow and the Curd, The Dark Side of the Moo, Cupcake Carnival, Fred’s Kitchen, Keven’s Salad Station, Kami, Lombardi Pizza Co., The Outslider, Underground Doughnuts, Oink Moo BBQ, Surf and Turf, the Tot cart and Taco Truck.
Menus as well as upcoming locations can be found for each at their official Facebook pages.