Guest Blogger of the Week: Ashley Massis

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

 

Originally from Binghamton, New York, Ashley Massis is a small town girl with big city dreams. After moving to Manhattan two years ago, she is currently pursuing her two great career passions: fashion and writing. With over 7 years in the fashion industry and working for various companies as a freelance author and critic, she has become an expert in NYC food, nightlife, and culture. After working as Editor for AskMissa.com, contributor to RunningShoesGuru.com and GuestofaGuest.com, she founded NYSocialStatus.com in 2012. She has a weak spot for champagne, cupcakes, and the latest food truck. Keep up with Ashley on Twitter and enjoy her guest post…

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Whenever I think of home, I think of foods that my parents used to make me when I was sick, namely grilled cheese sandwiches. Both parents would make the simple dish when I was sick, or wanted something fast for lunch, but both made it differently. My dad would add some ham slices, or cook it with cream cheese. My mother on the other hand, would make a buttery crunchier crust and the sandwich would ooze with cheese. Whenever homesick, I still will eat these and think fondly of my comfort food.

New York City is known for its growing culinary dishes on the road. The “World of Food Trucks” has become less about “water dogs” and more about tasty treats you can’t find anywhere else. As a reviewer, I spend a lot of time on the streets trying to find the best and unique food. As the competition becomes fierce in the food truck business, only the odd specialties survive. One of my favorite food trucks in New York City is Gorilla Cheese. This truck is popular because it is a reminder of childhood comfort meals, but with an adult twist. You can relive the “after-school” buttery grilled cheese like my mom used to make me, but in the comfort of your work cubicle!

Photo courtesy of newyorkstreetfood.com.

Using only fresh local breads and a variety of cheeses, Gorilla Cheese makes gourmet grilled cheeses, among other comfort foods such as Tater Tots. One of my favorite sandwiches is the Chicken Parm Melt. Made with smoked mozzarella, breaded chicken, and marinara, this sandwich is perfect for a rainy day. The “Brooklyn Special” is another popular choice. This sandwich is made with Fresh Asiago Cheese, layered Prosciutto de Parma, and aioli. The crispy, crunchy Panini is salty and gooey.

If you make your sandwich a meal, it comes with a side of tater tots. Bringing me back to the days of elementary school cafeterias, Gorilla Cheese gives your taste buds something more advanced by bringing in specialty dipping sauces. The sweet Vidalia Onion sauce is one of my personal favorites. Gorilla Cheese also offers other sides such as Creamy Tomato Soup, just in case you are missing a “mom quality” meal.

Photo courtesy of itsallfare.com.

Since you’re already indulging, no meal is complete without the “Big S” S’Mores Grilled Dessert. Made on homemade graham cracker bread, it is a must try. With one bite, it transports you back to your childhood, and leaves you with a satisfied smile and sticky sugary hands as evidence.

Take my advice and try out Gorilla Cheese if you haven’t already- Just be sure to leave some for me!

 

 

Guest Blogger of the Week: Anthony Landi

Do you remember your first love? Er, food truck love, that is. We all have one. It’s that truck that introduced you to the concept of readily-accessible, unique, and flavorful street food. This week’s Guest Blogger, Anthony, reminisces on the day- and that special truck- that changed everything for him (as far as food truck fare goes anyway!). Enjoy…

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

I remember walking around SoHo with some friends 3 or 4 years ago. I was nearing the end of my high school career, and it wasn’t until this point that I began to appreciate and truly love everything New York has to offer, saving up money for a train ticket to lope around the Village, eat cheap pizza and buy records on the weekends. On this particular day, the sky had been clouded over all day, and our luck held out until dusk. Suddenly, the sky opened, drenching Mercer Street and forcing my friends and I to take cover under a storefront, waiting for the worst of the storm to pass. We waited around listlessly, watching people dart about with coats and umbrellas, avoiding puddles and the inevitable splashes made by cabs as they passed.

After about a half hour of waiting, something caught my eye… a banana-cream-pie colored vintage truck with a difficult to pronounce name decal-ed on the side rounding the corner. I grabbed my brother’s arm to get his attention, and asked him what it read as it pulled away. He squinted through the rain and said “ Van L… I don’t know. I can’t read it.” “Well, what do you think it sells?”  I asked. “I think hard scoop ice cream. Damn, I wish it wasn’t rainy,” lamented my brother. The mysterious truck and its contents haunted me for the rest of the day, making me eager to find it in the future (under sunnier circumstances). I believe it’s important to note that at this point, food trucks to me were the stands at roadside fairs that sold overpriced hot dogs, pretzels, and bottles of water – the word “gourmet” had never crossed my mind to describe one.

Fast forward two years – I was walking with my girlfriend through the West Village on our December break, she never having been there. We walked and talked, bundled up against the brisk wind, until I saw something that made me stop in my tracks – the same yellow truck was parked a block ahead of us. I grabbed her wrist, and half-jogged to the truck. “Van Leeuwen’s!” I exclaimed, raising my fists in Rocky-like triumph, much to the bewilderment of my girlfriend. Once my breathing returned to normal (I’m not in the most peak of physical condition), I read over the menu, and was absolutely blown away. I really couldn’t have dreamed of a better concept for a food truck myself; before me lay a list of fresh, locally-sourced ice cream flavors, some of which I couldn’t even pronounce (when was the last time you had gianduja flavored ice cream?). The pastries, which I’ve only recently tried (you try passing up on their ice cream!), are also fantastic, artfully executed and baked fresh, and go great with one of Van Leeuwen’s delicious artisan, trained-barista-brewed coffees.

Ice cream, however, is the true star, and the mint chip was what caught my eye. On first bite, I was in love – the mint flavor was so natural and smooth, and the chocolate chips perfectly semi-sweet and rich, that the frigid air hardly mattered anymore. I could instantly tell how much the people who made it truly cared about their product – every detail, both aesthetically and flavor-wise, were absolutely perfected – and that left a huge impact on me. Quality food, to me, became less about fancy restaurants and more about people making food they love simply and getting it out to people who love good food too. This opened a whole new culinary world to me – some of the best food being made in New York is being cooked in food trucks with fresh ingredients, original recipes, and a bit of creativity. Now, I’m a frequenter of food trucks, and often share my trucks with friends, all thanks to Van Leeuwen’s, and all the operators of food trucks who truly love what they do.

About:

Anthony Landi is currently a student at Loyola University Maryland. He spends his time between New York and Baltimore, discovering cheap eats in the cities he calls home, and writing for his school paper and music website Manik Music. He loves food trucks because of the innovative and creative ways their passionate operators get delicious, fresh food out to people. The only things that rival his love of food are books and discovering new music– You know, the simple things in life. You can follow him online @Alandi92.

Concern Worldwide, NYCFTA, and You on World Food Day 2012

Because so many of you participated in World Food Day 2012 with us this year, we would like to follow up on how our partnership with Concern Worldwide helped the less fortunate. Today, Concern’s Press Officer Crystal Wells shares with us the impact our support will have.

Source: greenpeaceblogs.org via NYCFTA on Pinterest.

What do Philly cheese steaks, vegetarian dumplings, and empanadas all have in common? They all fought hunger on October 16th. I’m not talking about the rumble-in-your-belly-kind-of-hunger. I’m talking about the kind that claims lives because there was not enough nutritious food to eat.

This World Food Day, 13 of New York City’s food trucks came together to donate 5 percent of their sales to helping Concern Worldwide combat hunger and malnutrition in the world’s poorest countries. For New Yorkers, that means any item that you picked for your lunch at one of the participating food trucks last Tuesday will make a difference in the life of someone across the planet who does not have the same access to food—let alone nutritious foods—that we enjoy here.

The tragic reality is that a child dies every six seconds because of causes related to hunger. Another 171 million children are estimated to be stunted physically or mentally, or both, because they did not have enough nutritious foods to eat early in life to reach their full potential. It can be easy to read these statistics and think, “It’s too big. It’s too far away. I’ll never make a difference.” But you can and you don’t have to do something dramatic to do it. Just look at what these food trucks made possible. Because 13 food trucks did not back down in the face of these startling truths, we now have more support to break the cycle of hunger in the world’s poorest countries. The money they helped raise will make sure more malnourished children have the treatment they need to recover and survive. It will make sure more communities have the seeds, tools, livestock, and training they need to break the cycle of hunger.

Source: StreetGrubEveryday.com via NYCFTA on Pinterest.

And a little goes a long way: for approximately the same price as a chicken shawarma sandwich ($7) at Toum, we can give a family in Pakistan a 15-day supply of emergency food. Or, for $9, the same price as a chili dog and Belgian fries from Snap, we can give a malnourished child in Somalia therapeutic food for a week. For $28, just $3 more than the cost of a mouth-watering lobster dinner at Red Hook Lobster, we can save a child’s life from the grips of malnutrition in Ethiopia.

Source: blogs.concernusa.org via NYCFTA on Pinterest.

There is no silver bullet to ending hunger.  It will take an army of people willing to do their small part to move the needle.  That is exactly what the New York City Food Truck Association and 13 of its members did on World Food Day. On behalf of everyone at Concern, I would like to humbly thank the following food trucks for their compassion and commitment to making hunger history:

Gorilla Cheese NYC, Chinese Mirch, Milk Truck, Toum, Mexicue, Shorty’s on Wheels
Valducci’s, Phil’s Steaks, Snap, Mexico Blvd., Red Hook Lobster, Souvlaki GR, Nuchas

If you missed this offer on World Food Day, you can still make a difference! Please join our Concern for Hunger campaign through November 30th and help us end hunger by hosting a dinner party or going without food to raise money for our nutrition, food, and agriculture programs in 25 of the world’s poorest countries. To learn more, please visit: www.concernusa.org/hunger.

For more photos from World Food Day 2012, please visit the NYCFTA Pinterest board by clicking here.

Lunch with Us in Honor of World Food Day 2012

World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on October 16th in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. The day is celebrated widely by many other organizations concerned with food security, including the World Food Program.

Photo courtesy of Concern via ConcernUSA.org

We are excited to be partnering with Concern Worldwide in an effort to raise awareness and money to help address extreme hunger in the world’s poorest countries.

Thirteen of our members are donating 5% of their sales today to Concern Worldwide’s Concern for Hunger initiative, a movement against extreme hunger that Concern launched last month with award-winning actress Toni Collette . All donations to Concern for Hunger support Concern’s programs that treat and prevent malnutrition in the world’s poorest countries.

The participating trucks are: 

Gorilla Cheese (47th St. & Park Ave.)

Chinese Mirch (47th St. between Park & Madison Ave.)

Milk Truck (40th St. & 5th Ave, Bryant Park)

Toum (46th St. between 5th & 6th Ave.)

Valduccis (52nd St. & Park Ave.)

Mexico Boulevard (North End Ave. & Vesey St., World Financial Center Lot)

Phils Steaks (North End Ave. & Vesey St., World Financial Center Lot)

Red Hook Lobster (50th St. & 6th Ave.)

Shorty’s on Wheels (47th between Park Ave. & Lexington Ave.)

Nuchas (46th St. between 5th Ave & 6th Ave.)

Souvlaki GR (32 Old Slip)

Mexicue (26th Street between 11th St. & 12th St, Starrett LeHigh Building)

Snap Truck (TBA)

*These are their lunch locations only. Please check this list for dinner locations.

World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on October 16th in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. The day is celebrated widely by many other organizations concerned with food security, including the World Food Program. We encourage you to join us for lunch today at any of these trucks and to learn more about Concern for Hunger, and to get involved.

Guest Blogger of the Week: Why, it’s Rosemarie Gambetta!

Hello again, NYC! We’re back with another Guest Blogger and it’s none other than Rosemarie Gambetta of Cheap Eats, Inc. fame! We had so much positive feedback on her post last week that we knew you’d enjoy another. Take it away, Rosemarie!

A FOOD TRUCK THAT FUELS AND POWERS YOU

If you owned a luxury car; what kind of fuel would you put in it? High grade? Low grade? High grade, of course. So why do so many of us power our bodies with low grade food? What if I told you that there is a food truck that will jump start your engine and help it run smoothly? Who is that food truck?

Deborah of Green Pirate Juice Truck courtesy of Cargo Collective.com.

Green Pirate Juice Truck is a brightly colored food truck that plays killer music and serves up a tasty plant and fruit-based menu. Their juices and smoothies are made fresh on the truck and can be made to order. For those with a bigger appetite, they also feature healthy treats and vegan brownies that are not only tasty but gluten-free plus Deborah shared some great news: They’re starting to offer vegan wraps and seasonal salads for lunch… Can you hear the applause?! The normal season for Green Pirate, is Spring & Summer, but to the delight of their fans, they will be opened until November.

Deborah Smith, founder of Green Pirate Juice Truck courtesy of wellandgoodnyc.com

I had the honor of chatting with owner Deborah Smith to learn a little bit more about her truck and mission. Deborah is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she learned the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diet. The food we put in our bodies not only feeds us, it builds our immunity, helps to prevent diseases, fuels us and keeps us on our game. We know how necessary that is in this city!
I’m 100% on-board with all of this but had just one question for Deborah: Why open a food truck versus a brick and mortar shop? She made a great point: A free standing shop will only attract those already in the program but a food truck helps reach a larger audience and will attract not only those that already engage in this style, but those that just want to dip their toe in the water. Genius! And, if you’re thinking of doing a juice cleanse but are afraid to make the commitment, Green Pirate offers workshops and support groups to help you through the cleansing program. You won’t have to feel alone or left out of the rest of society because you’ll have supporters throughout the entire cleanse!

Thanks Green Pirate for proving once again that you can find a healthy food truck.

Photo courtesy of holisticjuicyliving.blogspot.com

 

Guest Blogger of the Week: Rosemarie Gambetta

A fierce love of food and twin careers in real estate and fashion taught Rosemarie to look for the hottest item and the hottest deal… Perfect attributes for creating her site, Cheap Eats Inc.! When friends and clients needed a great meal at a great price, she could rattle off restaurant names the way a sports nut ticks off batting averages—but with a lot more home runs. Today, she uses her deal-finding skills to find a healthy food truck option for those of us out there who watch our waistline as closely as we watch our wallet!

Are There Really Healthy Food Trucks?

Food trucks are the all the rage these days. Where else can you have a great and inexpensive meal, at your doorstep and freshly prepared? There’s burgers, hot dogs, tacos and grilled cheese, to name just a few. But what about those of us who are watching our waistline and are looking for healthy and tasty options?

Taim Mobile (pronounced taheem), is a food truck that serves falafel and smoothies. Its Hebrew name means; “Highly pleasant to the taste and delicious.”  Sound promising?

I know you can find falafel all over the city, but what sets Taim Mobile apart from the others is the ingredients they use and ultimately the taste. They use organic chickpeas, spices, mint, parsley and cilantro, hence the greenish hue, when you bite in one. They’re light, fresh and GLUTEN FREE. “Aren’t all falafels gluten free?” you might ask. No! Many use fillers, such as flour, to cut down on the cost. Taim doesn’t.

All of their sandwiches or platters, are served with REAL tahini sauce, made from ground sesame seeds. Not the white sauce that many other carts serve. FYI – that white sauce that many of you ask for, is mayonnaise based. Vegans are shrieking right now.

Their French fries are hand cut every day, using fresh Idaho potatoes. NEVER frozen. Their entire menu is Vegan and Vegetarian Friendly, except the aioli for the french fries. And, if you don’t eat the pita bread, their entire menu is gluten free!

But wait, there’s more. Their drinks are made fresh every day. How about Ginger -Mint Lemonade, or Pomegranate-Honey Iced Tea? Perhaps you’re in the mood for a smoothie?  Their Date Lime Banana Smoothie is made with 3 dates, a banana, fresh lime juice and Soy milk. YUM!!! But there are many more to choose from and all made with fresh ingredients.

Thanks Taim Mobile for providing us with outstanding food that is healthy and won’t break the bank.

And thank you, Rosemarie, for teaching us a little more about our food truck options! Be sure to follow her on Twitter @Cheap_Eats for more deal discoveries!

Guest Blogger of the Week: Johanna Scott

Johanna is a long time food lover, home cook, and food truck chaser. She blogs about these things and others at Words By Jo and Dining At My Desk. Johanna is also the Community Manager – PR, Social Media Manager, and Blogger for NYC start-up, Betterment. In today’s post, she brings up some great points and we must say we agree with her! Enjoy.

Source: foodspotting.com via NYCFTA on Pinterest

4 Reasons Food Truck Fare Just Tastes Better

Who can we thank for the success of food trucks? Jonathan Gold, Food Writer for Smithsonian Magazine, says “food trucks are the incubators of culinary innovation”. In the pricy, risky, and competitive restaurant business, food trucks provide a platform for testing novel ideas. They can also provide a service of convenience without the tainted legacy of behemoth food chains, tapping into the locavore movement in a way that is both surprisingly traditional and satisfyingly edgy. Most importantly – they make delicious food! Here are four reasons food truck fare tastes better than a dish served in a standard brick and mortar restaurant.

Source via David Blanks on slowfoodnyc.org

I. It’s Slow Food, Fast
Gourmet food trucks combine the hallmarks of the Slow Food Movement – local, exceptionally delicious food that is sustainably grown and sourced – with the fast paced, feed-me-now culture of big city living.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, for example, is made using fresh hormone-and-antibiotic-free milk and cream from local farms, cane sugar and egg yolks. Rickshaw Dumplings, along with using sustainable meats and local, organic produce (whenever possible), promises that your dumplings will be ready in the same time it takes you to get your morning latte. Fresh and fast!

Food on wheels is a long-standing tradition. Loncheras (Mexican food carts) and ice cream trucks have been around for decades. Much like the slow food movement, which relies on the collective knowledge of the traditional farming community, the food truck movement looks to the wisdom of earlier cultures: “A rickshaw is one of the oldest forms of transportation that originated in Asia. The word connotes speed and efficiency” (Rickshaw Dumplings).

II. It’s Outside
According to Bee Wilson, the food historian and columnist, we enjoy dining outside because we “feel liberated from the constraints of a table.” Annalisa Barbieri, food columnist for The Guardian, believes the “experience of eating outside is colored by (many) things—smell, anticipation, context, childhood memories, even gratitude.”

Source: StreetGrubSteve via NYCFTA on Pinterest

Food truck fare is picnic-esque. Seeking and finding a food truck has the same anticipation and excitement as planning a BBQ. The sun enhances the taste of food (heat increases the concentration of gaseous molecules), making the smell – and therefore the taste – more intense.

Pleasant memories of outdoor eating play a part in the taste too. If your family vacationed in Maine for example, your fond memories would increase your eagerness for a lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Truck.

III. It’s Exciting
The thrill of hunting down a meal is a primal instinct. We relish the taste of food we’ve worked hard to obtain — in the same way we enjoy mushrooms foraged from the forest floor or oysters harvested from a rock pool. Tracking food trucks requires experience from prior hunts, knowledge of local conditions, and anticipation of potential hazards.

Source: rhsroughriders.org

Truly committed food lovers share their food truck finds as badges of pride – spending time researching when the food trucks will be running (like schools of fish) and planning the outing when conditions are optimal. It’s so more than just a meal.

If you’re lucky enough to attend a food truck rally, the feeling is akin to stumbling across a waterhole on the savannah in dry season – every species imaginable is in abundance!

Culture writer Grant McCracken says: “(customers) are prepared to embrace brands that take a little more effort, especially if that effort rewards them with something that is exciting and rare.”

IV. It’s Specialized
I always take pages-long menus as a bad sign of the meal to come. You know the ones I’m talking about – those eateries that have the laminated menus, sticky with the leftovers from the person before you, with items ranging from pesto pasta, to fish tacos, to sushi. I highly doubt the chef is expert in all of these cuisines… and I question the quality of the produce. Can you really stock all the necessary ingredients for the 42 items listed on your menu and keep it fresh?

Source: StreetGrubSteve via NYCFTA on Pinterest

Food trucks do one thing only – and they only do it well. I know that falafel from Taim Mobile is the real deal, or that my vanilla bean milkshake from The Morris Truck comes from fellow dairy connoisseurs – these people don’t muck around with milk.

And if you’re unlucky enough to have a family of fussy eaters, skip the colossal eatery in favor of a food truck rally. It’s a smörgåsbord of wholesome, delicious food, that’s fast with no fuss. There’s bound to be something for everyone.