by Mike Sula
Sometimes it's easy to lapse into a state of complacency with regard to the galaxy of available eats around town. But do you really think you can always get whatever you want to eat whenever you want it? If that's true, where's our Burmese restaurant? Where's our Malaysian? And where's our haggis food truck?
I spotted one this weekend at the Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Itasca (I was judging the shortbread contest), where the Highland Glenn Foods truck was selling, among other things, a scoop of minced lamb liver, beef, and oats atop some crispy fries. I doubt Robert Burns would approve, since this mildly gamy stuff wasn't made with hearts or lights. But it was tasty, needing only a few acidic squirts of HP Sauce to cut the livery richness. Poutine had nothing on it. Alas, the itinerant Sarasota truck has decamped for its next stop on the the Caber Toss Circuit. But if you were there to watch the haggis-hurling contest (yes, that happened) or the 50-pound sheaf throw, for $8.50 there was no excuse not to break your haggis cherry.
It certainly is easy to deride the summer festival season as an endless progression of meat jello, funnel cakes, and turkey legs. But like the Highland Games, the Humboldt Park Puerto Rican Fest had a surprise. I heard tell of this carne a la llanera stand at the fest, using a marvelous conical spinning meat cage, modeled after the slanted poles Colombian cowboys use to barbecue their meat. It wasn't hard to find, set up right in front of the fest's entrance. Who knows what kind of clout Patterson, New Jersey's Rancho Mateo, wielded to secure this prime real estate over the local Boricuan restaurants? But maybe it was based on merit: the massive pork steaks draped over the cage cooked slowly enough to develop noticeable pink smoke ring. I'll be looking for them again next year.
As for the haggis, I'm sure someone's gonna start the Gut Truck before those folks come back to town.
(h/t David Nelson)