Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rolling into the New School Year One Food Truck at a Time

The Grilled Cheese Truck
Last Friday was my son’s back to school picnic.  The hubby Jason was out of town so it was date night for Shane and me.  Due to battling rush hour traffic to get home from work and picking the kiddo up from extended care by 6pm, we were about an hour and a half late.

When we arrived, I was surprised to see that the picnic itself was set up a bit different than the year previous.  This year, the school had arranged to have four Los Angeles area based food trucks on-hand for the festivities.  As we made our way across the blacktop over to the soccer fields to place our blanket and chair, I eyed the long lines that snaked out from all the food trucks like ants moving at a snail’s pace.

They had The Grilled Cheese Truck (Twitter handle: @grlldcheesetruk); The Flat Iron Truck (; The Roll’n Lobster Truck (Twitter handle: @RollnLobster); and our personal favorite King Kone (Twitter handle: @kingkonela).

I asked Shane which one he wanted for dinner and his reply…wait for it…ice cream.

As much as I would have been interested in the Roll’n Lobster, I knew Shane would not go for it at all.  Not being huge meat eaters, the Flat Iron Truck would not have been a good choice for the two of us (although, my disclaimer is that, if Jason had been with us, he certainly would have been on that long ass line).

In a panic, I looked up and made a quick assessment and arduous decision, it would have to be the Grilled Cheese Truck.

I said to Shane, “You must eat dinner honey; so let’s both get grilled cheese.”  He said OK and ran off to play with his friends as I yelled at his back to check in with me soon.

I looked at my phone and it was 6:38pm.  I scanned the long, long line I was on and settled down for the wait.

First, I got myself all caught up with Words with Friends, then I checked out Facebook and then onto Twitter where I started following the aforementioned food trucks. 

By then, it was 6:55pm and it was almost my turn.  I scanned the crowd of children running amok searching vainly for Shane who was nowhere to be seen.  I decided that he would get a traditional grilled cheese on wheat bread and then there was me.

Who was I kidding; the 8-year-old in me wanted a yummy grilled cheese sandwich even more than my own son.

So, with only 3 minutes left, the pressure was on…which grilled cheese sandwich would I order? I grilled myself down to two choices: Havarti Melt and Caprese Melt.  The Havarti Melt is made with white wine braised chicken with artichoke pesto on French bread while the Caprese Melt comes with fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and balsamic syrup on roasted garlic bread.

Yum and double yum: I was torn as they both sounded so delish and, at the last minute, I went with the Caprese Melt.

I paid for our dinner and then walked toward the lynch mob waiting to pick up their food.  I saw a guy, whom I knew, who had ordered his food about 20 minutes before me and realized I was in for an even longer wait.

I headed over to our blanket and chair; looking for Shane.  His Sprite radar was on and, as if he knew I had his treat for him, he materialized out of thin air.  I had about a 30 second conversation with him before he was off again.

I chatted with a few moms that I knew from school and then moved our blanket, the chair and said Sprite over to where our neighbors were sitting, but the inevitable lay ahead of me.  I was going to have to make my way over to The Grilled Cheese Truck to actually pick up my sandwiches sooner or later. 

It was chaos, but I stood my ground.  I found the woman who had been directly in front of me in line and decided to shadow her.  I was tired of being plugged in so I just sort of people watched when another mom struck up a conversation with me.  We discussed what we had ordered, our children, the food trucks, fashion and then suddenly her name was called and she was gone.  Then I struck up a conversation with another woman. 

By this time, it was 7:30pm and I had been waiting almost an hour for my sandwiches.  I hoped it would be a good as the wait was long.  Other people in the mob were getting pretty impatient and asking each other what time they ordered based off their receipts.  Then, there it was, the call of pure decadent delight, “Tracy, order up.”

I quickly said my goodbyes and made my way up to the window and, in my haste, almost dropped both sandwiches.  Miraculously, the foodie gods were looking down on me and I saved both.

Once again, as if he had a honing device, Shane showed up by my side.  We sat down at our little campsite and both unceremoniously scarfed down our sandwiches. 

Shane said his traditional grilled cheese was one of the best that he had ever had and the Caprese was literally melting in my mouth. 

The burst of fresh basil mixed with the sour taste of the balsamic reduction married in such an orgasmic fusion that I was speechless.

Hidden in our own little corner, without the threat of being detected by Miss Manners, I ate that Caprese Melt like it was my last meal.  When it was all gone, I found myself licking my fingers and perfectly sated.

These grilled cheese sandwiches were not just good, but really good. Yet, before I had even had a chance to digest, Shane warned me that there were only 15 minutes left until the end of the picnic.  He said he hadn’t even had his ice cream from King Kone yet.

I immediately jumped up and found myself – once again – on a long line.  Two things happened:  one, the first woman that I met while on line for the grilled cheese walked by and said I was a glutton for punishment (yes that was true) and two, my neighbor waved me up to the front of the line and let me cut.

I could feel 20 pairs of eyes boring into me, but I could not turn down such an invitation.  After waiting an hour to secure our grilled cheeses, I was ready to take my chances with karma and a little retribution.

As we left the picnic, I couldn’t help but feel a little regretful.  As much as I enjoyed my grilled cheese sandwich, I only needed to take one look at Shane and the explosion of vanilla ice cream and rainbow jimmies smeared around his big smile to know which had been his favorite truck and how fun it would have been to have ice cream for dinner.

Keep on truckin’.



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