Great River Indoor Food Truck Fest recap and Sunday update

Yesterday I led off at Bardog Tavern then walked north to the Great Indoor Food Truck Festival at the Cook Convention Center. It was a beautiful day in the low 70s and sunny outside and I enjoyed the walk.

The food truck festival was in the South Hall downstairs, with the food trucks parked outside with a nice view of the river.

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After examining my options, I decided I was in a burger kind of mood. I went to the Memphis Mojo Cafe Street Eats food truck and looked at the menu.

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I decided on the Smoke Cheeseburger, a 6-ounce burger with Gouda cheese, caramelized onions, chipotle mayonnaise (I’m sorry, I refuse to call anything used to top a burger “aioli”) and bacon.

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This. Was. GOOD. To the owners of the Memphis Mojo Cafe food truck: I don’t know if you compete in Best Memphis Burger Festival but I think you should consider it. You would stand a fighting chance of making it on stage to pick up a trophy with this burger. I hate to admit it but this burger was better than the one my own team handed in.

For dessert I stopped by the MEMpops truck.

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This was the Neapolitan pop with strawberry, vanilla (yogurt I think), and Mexican chocolate. They also had solid Mexican chocolate pops as well as coconut-pineapple and mint lemonade flavors.

I walked around South Hall and snapped some photos of the festival. There was live music, about 15 vendors, as well as a game area with cornhole and table tennis. Landers Jeep sponsored the event.

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I want to take a minute to talk about the charity for which the festival raised money, Hospitality HUB. When a person is homeless, the journey back into society can seem like a jump over an enormous chasm. For one thing, homeless people often lack proper forms of ID, such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, state ID and such that are needed to become employed. The HUB helps them get these. The HUB also gives them a temporary mailing address and a place to receive phone messages, useful when interviewing for jobs. Bus passes and vouchers for nights at the Union Mission can also be obtained at the HUB. Perhaps most importantly, the HUB opens its doors and invites the homeless in for coffee and conversation, making them feel like they are part of the world again.

It is very hard to start a brand-new festival in a city like Memphis, and I tip my hat to the people who organized this event. Having a festival indoor in March was a splendid idea.

That said, I didn’t stay the entire afternoon as planned. I blogged earlier that I planned to eat two or even three meals, but I decided one was enough. There wasn’t as much diversity in the food trucks as I had hoped to see. I had hoped for Mexican food, Asian food, other ethnic specialties. All the trucks there were more or less American food. After the burger I kind of had a “been there, done that” feeling.

By the way: The number one food truck on my list to try right now is 4 Dumplings. I hope they will consider coming Downtown sometime on a day other than weekday lunch.

With unexpected free time on my hands, I walked south to the Blind Bear, stopping at home for a minute to pick up a box of Marshmallow Peeps for Lacey behind the bar and a box for my BBQ team president as well. My mother sent me 150 Marshmallow Peeps for Easter. I like Peeps but I don’t think I can eat that many.

While at the Bear I composed my message to Zoo Brew and Zoo Rendezvous sponsors and zoo members. Let me be clear: I am not going to be militant about this. I am not going to go to the Blind Bear any less if they continue to sponsor zoo events. I am not going to stop going to Aldo’s places if he continues to be a sponsor. However, I realized something yesterday. Previously I had not voiced an opinion on the zoo/Greensward parking issue because I didn’t see it as a Downtown issue. Now I see that it is. Many Downtown restaurants support the zoo. I won’t visit you any less if you continue that support, but as a loyal customer I want to say that I am very unhappy with the zoo and think it is being a poor neighbor. I would encourage you to look for other outlets for your sponsorship dollars if the zoo continues to use the Greensward for overflow parking.

About 6 I decided to walk over to the Brass Door. As I crossed Madison I saw some good news for residents of Bartlett.

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A second Havana’s Pilon restaurant will be opening there soon. If you live out that way, you are going to have some tasty and affordable Cuban food coming your way. Very few of their dishes are over $10 and they come with two sides. My personal favorites are the ropa vieja (shredded beef) and the picadillo (Cuban ground beef). I always get the Congri rice with beans as a side, and usually select the boiled yucca as my second side. Their empanadas are really good too.

I took a seat at the Brass Door bar and Dana, the bartender, said “Can I get you a beer, Paul?”

“Hold on, I want to order,” I replied. “As dori…” Dana’s face immediately lit up.

“As dori un Brass Door roşu, va rog.” (I would like a Brass Door Red, please.)

(They don’t have PBR.)

Dana gave me several tips on learning Romanian – apps to download, TV shows I might be able to watch. I didn’t tell her but I had already downloaded a free learn Romanian app the day before. BBQ team president Clay had made fun of me for playing with the app at Bardog brunch earlier in the day. Meanwhile our friend John D was sitting there playing the Simpsons game on his phone and nothing was said about that.

“I will teach you five new words each time you come in,” Dana said. “If you come here five times a week, you will know Romanian in six months.” If I come there five times a week, I am going to have some very pissed-off bartenders at Blind Bear and Silly Goose who are not going to like their “Paul time” (and Paul tips) diverted to another source. I will have to figure this one out.

Has anyone learned a foreign language entirely through a phone app? Languages are a case where I would be willing to pay for an app, if I knew it was really effective.

While there, I noticed that the Brass Door is having a comedy show Tuesday.

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Here’s the event description, which I stole from Facebook:

The greatest local lineup yet! Award-winner Sammy Anzer talks shop! Award-winner Wes Corwin talks folklore! Award-winner Kate Lucas talks being alive! Ashawntee wins an award! Headlined by the one and only queen of Memphis Comedy, two-time who’s who on twitter and 2015 Memphis Flyer’s Best Local Comedian – Katrina Coleman!

I left the Brass Door about 8. I planned to walk to Max’s Sports Bar, but as I got to the Blind Bear I thought, “This is far enough” and I went in. I was starting to tire out, so I did some bar yoga to wake up.

I can do tree now!
I can do tree now!

Happy Easter everyone! Today at 11 I will be attending a special service at Blind Bear with Reverend B-RAD and his altar boy Rahul. I will bring a few boxes of Peeps up there. I will ask Brad if he wants me to pick him up anything at the Farmers Market this coming Saturday, knowing that he is almost as big of a fan of fresh produce as I am. Rahul will probably jump in that conversation and ask if I can get him a nice long squash or zucchini. Tony will give me a shopping list of fruit to put in his cocktails, I am sure. Time to hit Publish and get outside and enjoy this nice weather!