Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Tastes and Sounds of Downtown (Orlando)

This summer something fabulous is going on in the parking lot of Firestone Live in Orlando. Every Wednesday night from 6:00-12:00ish a collection of food trucks and musicians set up shop to serve local patrons. Dubbed the Tastes and Sounds of Downtown great food is flinging, craft beer is flowing and local bands are performing about thirty feet away on a stage. It is exactly like town fairs in Pennsylvania, only the food is good and the music isn't okie bluegrass.

J-Fur and I, along with our friends Bob and Elizabeth, made the 1.5 hour drive mainly because of the food. The fact that Stockholm (here and here) was headlining was the proverbial icing on the cupcake.

Our first stop was the Batter Bowl Truck. This all dessert truck was one of the newer food vehicles in town, making its debut in July. Last nights menu including four different cupcakes, goat cheese brownies and Lemon Olive Oil Gelato (made from Lemon Olive Oil that they lugged back from California). J-Fur went with the Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing:

Her first comment when she saw it was "Holy no icing." She smeared it with her finger to cover the remainder of the cupcake and took a bite before offering me one. My take was that it was great. I hate too much icing so I thought the amount was just right. The cream cheese icing was more cream cheese, less sweet and the cake wasn't overly sugary either. J-Fur thought it could use a tad more sugar but she is an addict. I kindly disagreed. I picked the Goat Cheese Brownie knowing that I normally don't like brownies:

The beauty of this brownie is that you can actually see the goat cheese swirled into the top. Taste wise the brownie echoed the cupcake in that it wasn't overly rich or sweet. The goat cheese served to temper the overpowering fudge taste that most brownies suffer from. Overall the Batter Bowl is my kind of dessert truck. It is dessert that doesn't hit you over the head with disgusting sweetness but let's the subtlety of their ingredients linger on your palette. To use a teacher analogy: the Batter Bowl desserts are sort of like the kid who whispers an insult into a bully's ear causing the bully to loudly announce "I'm gonna kick your a@@" right in front of the principal.

Our next stop was the Tastebuds Catering Truck. Bob and Elizabeth went with the Tostones (which were sold out by the time I snapped the picture of the sign) and Tequenos while J-Fur and I ordered two Tequenos. I was slightly worried at the sound of "cheese sticks" because I could only think of the mozzarella sticks that a lot of Italian restaurants serve. I am not a fan of these because they are too much cheese and not enough breading and they usually end with my gut hurting.

These Tequenos (sorry about the picture) were the perfect balance of dough and cheese. It helped that they weren't covered with the fried breading of other cheese sticks but a dough that was much smoother. It is reminiscent of the dough that covers empanadas. The dipping sauce was a spicy cilantro sauce that thankfully wasn't overpowering on the cilantro side of things. Otherwise I wouldn't have eaten it. Another great experience.

Next up was the Pure Mobile Cafe truck. This truck offers all vegan choices. It is run by Jen Dostie who also sells loose leaf tea and organic skincare and makeup at her website Everything Organic. The Pure Mobile Cafe had falafel and homemade naan, spicy tempeh tacos, and a beat salad. It also offered sides of hummus and pita, sweet potato fries as well as three of Jen's teas. There was a vegan brownie with vegan chocolate ganache for dessert. What I really wanted was the falafel and homemade naan but it was already sold out by the time we arrived. That meant tempeh tacos for me:

The tacos included tempeh that was baked in a slightly sweet sauce, avocados, radish, mixed greens and a side of vegan chipotle ranch sauce. There were a lot of different flavors and textures in the taco and I really liked that. I especially enjoyed the crunchy/soft combo provided by the radish and avocado. It is similar to the lentil/cabbage tacos I made the other day. I decided to end the night with their vegan brownie:

The Vegan Brownie was ok. I like how they gave me the option of an end or middle piece. I'm a middle fan because I like it soft all around. The brownie was moist, not overly dry like some vegan desserts can be. Really the only reason that it wasn't great was that it was pretty sweet. After having the Batter Bowl's brownie I think the added sweetness was drawn out even more. J-Fur also tasted it and she commented on the sweetness as well (if the sugar queen comments then...). In reality it comes down to your taste preference. Do you want sweetness with your desserts or do you want something a little more subtle? Oh yeah and do you want something dairy free or chock full of goat milk? I'd eat the vegan brownie again, I'd just be more prepared.

Finally, once all the food was out of the way, there was the matter of enjoying Stockholm. The crowd had thinned a lot by the time they were on so it felt like they were performing for just me (and the other twenty friends I had standing around me). I'll just pretend it was like my sixteenth birthday party and my mom hired them to play for it. I had a pretty rad party (thanks mom!). The lack of a crowd didn't temper their show at all and that is a good thing. If the band keeps at it, I don't think they'll have many more shows that size.

Other performers included: Everyday Ghosts, Waiting on Wonders, John Holbrook and Great Deceivers.

Stockholm at their finest:
Stockholm-Bad by Design