I don’t know if you know this or not, but my birthday this year was, well, less sparkly than usual. Our home had been broken into just 2 days before and that messed with us for a long time, particularly the few days immediately after. The day before my birthday I had planned to go to Seattle and seek out some of the gourmet food trucks that are out there and hopefully meet up with friends along the way. There was too much to deal with for the insurance and police and I was not yet ready to leave my home and kitties unattended, so we did not go anywhere. Flash forward to Friday October 1 and the 5th Mobile Chowdown. Food trucks from Seattle and Portland convened upon the parking lot to Qwest Field, we paid $5 to get in to the 21 and over event, and we were in food truck heaven. Pyramid Ale sold beer, though I felt that the selection (a dark beer and a hefeweizen) was not particularly food friendly across the board, especially since I don’t care for hef. Plus, at $8 a pour, when we were there to try food, seemed outrageous to me… but I digress. We attended the festival with 2 of our best friends in the world, Erin (our baker and friend) and a friend of Erin’s. The best part of all that is that we got to get several things and try them all without eating all of everything, which would be impossible.

I had very specific ideas of what food trucks I wanted to hit and the others had no idea about any of it so I took the lead and hightailed it straight to Skillet Street Food. Now mind you, I have been watching the online presence of this and a couple of other trucks since their inception. I am impressed by their business styles and have been crazy excited to try their food. At Skillet we had the burger. It was a small one and only 4 of us ate it so it worked out well. From their web site: the burger; grass fed beef, arugula, bacon jam, cambozola, soft roll. Yes, they make the bacon jam and of course I bought some! This was the most sublime burger I have ever had. We all agreed it was delicious and if I had any capacity to go back for more after the other trucks, that is where I would have headed. We were smart and got there early (of course we did, we go to bed early and had a breakfast cater at 7 the next morning so we weren’t going to be out late!) so the lines were not bad except for the last place we went.

Our second stop-and this was my second choice of truck in general, wasMarination Mobile. We got two things here: a slider – Warm and soft, stuffed with their signature slaw and spicy, juicy, shredded kalua pork. Both N and I were mmm’ing and ooo’ing over this one. It was absolutely delicious, with the perfect balance of tangy, spicy, sweet, soft and crunchy. We also got the Kimchi rice bowl, served with a sunnyside up egg on top. I loved this dish and wish I could get it for breakfast regularly! So far at each truck we had stood in short lines, and the music had started (live bands) and we could see folks meandering in and around the lot so lines would be forming longer quite soon.

We headed over to Maximus Minimus, a food truck with personality! The truck itself is in the shape of a giant pig and it is very cool to see. Here we had Posole with pork (the best posole I have had from a ‘restaurant’!) and a Maximus: bbq pulled pork, Hot and Spicy from a mixture of peppers, onions, and fruit juices. It was, once again, totally fabulous. I mean the quality of the food coming out of these mobile ‘joints’ is supreme… hands down as good as, and certainly better than many, local restaurants in Seattle. While we were in line for this one Mark and Erin went to get donuts at Top Pot, who has their own mobile truck that they take out. They actually went really well with the dark beer, and we hadn’t found anything yet that it went as well with, so that was a fun surprise. After we slurped our way through the soup and sandwich we headed towards the spot on the map that had my other 2 main trucks that I wanted to try.

As we got closer I could see that at least one truck was missing and one truck had the longest line ever. That truck was Where Ya At Matt and we had THE BEST OYSTER PO’BOY EVER! Now I have not been to Louisiana, and since I have tasted this I know what it tastes like there. From their web site: “Peace Maker” Fried Oysters with bacon, cheddar cheese, Mama Lils bread and butter pickles and lemon aioli. Oh Babe!!! Guaranteed to bring anyone back to the table, this one is influenced by the Street Car Shop in New Orleans, pre-Katrina…let us pray. HA! Too funny… the oysters were small, super crisp, and flavorful, and the sandwich itself really did make my mouth sing! I could hear it! We also tried the gumbo and it was excellent, but that po’boy, well it made me want to slap my mama.

That line was so long we took turns standing in it. While I wandered I picked up a few desserty things to take back to the group and checked out all the other trucks to see if there was anywhere else I really wanted to go. The lines were very much longer now and we were getting full-even sharing everything it was a lot of food. The truck that was missing, which made me very sad, was Hallava Falafel and I will go find them one day. I love great falafel and I hear that theirs is the best, and after this experience I believe it. There was also another truck right next to Where Ya’At Matt’s, and there was no one in line, so I went to check it out. It was called ‘Got Soup?’ and since no one was around I got to talk with the proprietor. Jerry puts his rig out at various farmer’s markets around Seattle AND offers a soup delivery service! It’s a great idea and after he gave me a sample of the Thai Pumpkin Coconut soup I bought a bowl and took it to the Matt’s line and we all ate it while waiting. It was so fantastic that even Erin loved it, and she does not love coconut, which topped the soup. I loved it so much that I am going to create a version of it for the cafe. I emailed Jerry and liked that idea, but if you are in Seattle and near one of his stops you need his soup. I hope his lines got long that night, because if they didn’t, all those people were missing out on one of the best stops of the festival!

We all piled the food we had on a table and dug in to what was left. Erin and her friend went over to Veraci Pizza and got a slice or two, and man can those boys rule a wood oven. It was as good as Mark’s for sure, and Mark’s is the best I have had. (So much so that we are going to build our own wood oven at home, but I digress…) The music was fun and it was getting dark and we were quite full, so it was time to head home. Mark and I left the others to continue on the party while we headed for the Link Light Rail to take us back to our free parking in Tukwila, then home. You can go to the Mobile Chowdown (linked above) to see all the vendors who were there, notes about the next one, and the fact that they didn’t like the beer prices, either. It was a great spot, but #6 will be even better! Maybe you will meet me down there next time and try something, there is food for all tastes and pleasures!!

Today is the last full day we are home, and tomorrow we will leave for Italy. We want to be tired on the plane so we will get up around 2 am and start packing. We don’t need to leave the house until 10 am, so we will have plenty of time and I will get some administrative stuff done, as well. It is stressful to leave for that long, the house, the kitties, the business will all be fine without our presence for 2 weeks (especially since the house is fully alarmed and we have a friend who stays at the house the whole time, and it is only one small reason that we love her so much!) I will be working full time in Italy and hopefully I will get an online card right away so I can begin updating the blog. We won’t get there until Friday, and it may not be the first day that I get what I need, but I will do my best so that you can be with us, virtually. I am excited and nervous, since we host 18 people (and it can be complicated to keep everyone happy and relaxed) we are ‘on’ the whole week of the tour, and it is nice to have a couple of days before, and a day after, to relax and see what we want to see. The tour starts on the 21st and we will definitely be live by then!

So Ciao for now, Rome here we come!

The recipe today uses Skillet’s bacon jam. I made this meatloaf last night and I think it is fantastic! I will put in an alternative to the jam, but if you can find Skillet, you should get some!

1/3 cup milk
1 cup bread crumbs (I use the cafe croûtons all crunched up)
(soak them together in the bowl you will mix everything in)

1 extra large egg, or 2 regular eggs (the farmer’s chickens laid extra big ones!)
1.1 lb lean ground beef (I used Clark Farms grass fed, from Sequim)
a couple of bunches of bok choy, chopped fine (you can use celery instead)
1 half a red onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
a hand full of Italian Parsley, chopped
2 TBS tomato paste
1/3 cup bacon jam (you could use ground pork sausage, or grind up bacon and herbs in a food processor)

because I use our flavorful croûtons as bread crumbs, I don’t put in other seasonings. If you are using store bought or plain bread crumbs I would punch it up with the following:
1 TBS Worcestershire
a shy TBS of cider vinegar
1/4 tsp allspice (or 1 TBS chili powder, or 1 tsp smoked paprika)

2 TBS balsamic-rhubarb compote OR you can just use catsup if you didn’t get any of my compote.

Let the meat and come up to room temperature by pulling it out an hour or so early. Meanwhile soak the breadcrumbs on the counter so the milk warms up as well. Chop everything and get it ready to go.

Put everything in a bowl and mix it gently with your fingers. You don’t want to overwork the meat, though you do want everything incorporated completely. Form it into a loaf pan, or a loaf shape in a baking dish and let it rest, again at room temp, for 30-45 minutes. (yes, you CAN put it right in the oven; this step will make it more tender.)

Preheat the oven to 350 (or 325 convect bake) and cook the meatloaf for about an hour. I turned it at 25 minutes and let it go another 30 and then pulled it out. Cover it with a piece of foil (loosely) and let it sit as long as you can stand it…at least 10 minutes.

I put a couple of russet potatoes in the oven with the meatloaf and they cooked up in the same amount of time.

While the meatloaf was resting I baked a pan of kale so it was crispy and it is so fun to eat! Pull big pieces of kale off the the stems and rub them with some olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and bake them for about 5-7 minutes, turning at the 3 minute mark. It is crunchy and the kale flavor is more pronounced-delicious!

See you in Italy!