The Mobile Excursion

13 May

I’m so excited about this recent development that I actually started this blog in the car, while the Mister picked up a script from the ghetto Walgreens in Capital Plaza. At my urging, we sought out mmmpanadas, one of the few food trucks that makes it home north of the river.

Anyone who’s lived in Austin more than six minutes knows the almost cult-like hype that surrounds them in this town, and I’m frankly on the fence about whether or not I want to jump on that hipster bandwagon. In order to preserve my dignity, I won’t use any unnecessary punctuation or adjectives, and will refrain from overly dramatic proclamations of deliciousness. Unless I really, really mean them.

What we ate:

We ultimately tried two places: mmmpanadas and Short Bus Subs. They totally go together, really. At mmmpanadas, I was excited; who doesn’t like a portable pastry of tastiness? It’s brilliant, and I thank Latin America for bringing us the empanada. But enough of the yakkity yak — on to the food!

  

Between the two of us, we tried five different types: asparagus and prosciutto, pineapple and cinnamon, ham and cheese, spinach and mushroom and the Argentinian. According to Mister, the ham and cheese was just… well, ham and cheese. Good, but not great, and a bit dry. Simple isn’t always best if you can’t execute. The asparagus and prosciutto was – at first bite – pretty damned tasty. The meat was plentiful and the addition of blue cheese gave it an interesting tang. Much like A, I’m very big on stinky cheese, and blue and feta are right up in the top five. This one came with a lemon garlic aioli, and taken all together, it was pretty fab… until the third bite. With the third bite, I hit a big pocket of prosciutto and well… wow. I’m quite certain if my name was Seabiscuit, I would’ve loved this salt lick, but as it stands, it was a bit overwhelming. Plus, the asparagus was noticeably limp by this time; while it’s one of my favorite vegetables, I much prefer it fresh and with a good crunch. This poor little stalk may have started life that way, but by the time I made his acquaintance, he could have come from any canning factory this side of Mexico. Moreover, once asparagus gets limp, two things happen: (a) it gets slimy, and (b) it gets stringy. Ever try to bite through a wet, stringy piece of asparagus? And what happens? Exactly.

The Argentinean was an interesting mix of ground beef, olives and hard boiled eggs. I have no idea if they actually eat that particular mixture in Argentina, but if so, I’d expect it to be a bit more seasoned. Maybe it was the boudin from Thursday night, but I really need a little kick of heat or spice or *something*. The accompanying salsa was your run of the mill salsa. Interestingly, when I poured some over my second bite, I could smell the peppers and thought, “holy crap, this is going to punch me in the face!” But all it did was give me a wet willy. The spinach and mushroom was far and away my favorite — it was packed with a mixture of spinach, pine nuts and goat cheese. Did I mention I will also do some pretty questionable things for a good goat cheese? Man, oh man.  But getting back to this — the mixture was evocative of a great Greek diner, where an old lady who still speaks her mother tongue is cooking in the back. The one thing I don’t actually recall seeing – or tasting – in the spinach mushroom empanada was mushroom. But honestly, it was so good, I didn’t miss it. Who knew spinach could be so savory? Finally, the pineapple and cinnamon proved a really nice way to end our trip to Latin America (via Airport Blvd.); it gave me enough sweetness, but wasn’t overpowering. Pineapples have a real tendency to be sickeningly sweet, and one can rarely disconnect the sight of pineapple with the thought of it marinating in heavy syrup. These, however, were soaked in something – I can’t put a finger on it – to cut that sweetness, and the cinnamon offered a really nice counterbalance. And was that allspice I caught a hint of? Oh mmmpanadas, you tease.

  

With a belly full of empanadas, I was ready to go, but we walked the short row of food trucks just to see what our little eyes could spot. Two down from mmmpanadas was Short Bus Subs, a truck I’d heard about, but wasn’t especially interested in. I like a good sandwich as much as the next person, but truth be told I’m slightly burned out from my sub consumption; between Jimmy John’s, Jason’s Deli, Which Wich? and Quizno’s, I have – for better or worse – started to look at the submarine sandwich as an easy, but not particularly cravable option for lunch or dinner. In short, I turn to subs when I can’t think of anything better to eat. But Short Bus has made me re-think this position in its entirety.

It took the Mister about 30 seconds to proclaim he was still hungry, so this second round of dinner was on his dime. We ordered two Dublin Dr. Peppers and split a class clown, which has Genoa salami, pepperoni, provolone, parmesan, marinara, mozzarella, mushrooms, pepperocinis and crushed red pepper. And in case you’re wondering, yes, my heart is still throbbing and my fingers look like sausages from the amount of sodium I ingested with that thing. But ask me if I care!

This sandwich was a messy bite of meaty heaven. The sauce had a great flavor of what my limited knowledge of herbs tells me was basil, and the pepperoncinis added a sweet that tied it all in a nice, neat bow. Honestly, it seems a bit crazy that you can load all of that on a sandwich and be able to actually taste layers of flavor, but they were most definitely there — the familiar taste of pepperoni and salami, mingled with the sharpness of parmesan, and the finish gave you the taste of sweet pepper. Not heat, mind you, but an unadulterated pepper. The best part? The sandwich is toasted, which gives you a satisfying crunch and a nice textual contrast to the softness of meat, cheese and marinara bonanza.

Do I really have to comment on the Dublin Dr. Pepper? If you’ve never heard of one, educate yourself. And if you aren’t in an area that distributes them (which you likely are), then know I will say a little prayer for you tonight… then crack one open and laugh with child-like glee.

-B

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