Well, Haute Wheels is over, so it is time to write about it. I was only able to partake of the festivities on Saturday, since I had to work on Mother’s Day. I was trying to figure out a way to approach this, and I thought “Hey this is the same thing I told my mom when I called her tonight” (pardon the gratuitous Mother’s Day tie in here, I could not resist).
Ok, here is where it gets tricky. I am angry from a business standpoint, based on the comments on Twitter and in some of the lines about the cost of admission. I understand that this is something to which some people would like to take their family of 4, but, seriously, folks, this was really for the hardcore foodie. There were not games or things for children. It was a bit difficult to find a beverage if you didn’t go in for beer or wine. The $16.00 admission fee that so many complained about actually covered more than you might think. There was entertainment, restroom facilities, and, let’s not forget to mention, a donation to the Houston Community College System. If you do the math, you paid $8 for entry, $5 for a beverage, $2 for entertainment, and a $1 donation to education. Get over it!
Now, back to the topic at hand. I agree the line was a bit long for admission since I already had tickets, but that was necessary to adhere to strict T.A.B.C. regulations (I know. I am T.A.B.C. certified.), so I can understand. The line moved quickly, much to my pleasure, and we were inside to partake in the fare that we had been yearning for.
Now, you have to remember I am friends with one truck, Stick It, so I wanted to say hello immediately before it got nuts in there. We went and said hi to Kesha (pronounced key-sha) and Ruth and moved on (we did partake in a fried chicken stick later in the day). The information we received here was important, however. Apparently the festival organizers “suggested” that the truck serve appetizer portions and not whole meals to keep the costs down, as well as the lines. One truck noticeably did not heed the advice, but I will say more on that later.
The first stop was at St. John’s Fire truck. I don’t know the meaning of the name but I would like to find out. We tried some form of ceviche that was refreshing for the warm spring day, and a good palate cleanser to begin the food journey.
Our next stop was Kurbside Eatz, and let me tell you that what I had there, I will be craving on a daily basis from here on out. The Philly Cheese Steak egg rolls are now last meal food for me. The beef is tender, the cheese savory, and the veggies have a light crunch that plays off the spring roll wrapper in a way I can not put into words.
Now this diatribe is mostly about the food. However there were beverages in the mix, as well. I tried beers from a multitude of breweries and a few drinks like a skinny margarita in a bottle. These deserve their own post, so, for the time being, we will table them.
As we were walking, I found the No Borders Truck and my friend Nick Cassares, and we started talking. His mother (proprietor of the truck, as well as Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen) was there as well. This is significant as she had recently been involved in a shooting, but I was happy to see that she was back on her feet. I got to talk to Sylvia later that day, it went well, and I will leave it at that.
Next, onto the fish taco from H-Town Streats. While the girlfriend stood in line, I went to procure more beverages, and I wondered what this taco would be like. I was not sure if it was grilled or fried, but I did not care since there was beer to be had. The thing that got me was the preserved lemon slaw. I love citrus, especially preserved lemons. It was fried, much to my caloric dismay, but had a fabulous cornmeal crunch and the slaw was citrusy, tangy, and bitter all at the same time. I loved it, but the GF was apathetic.
Next, on to the pulled pork aspect of the program. The GF is from East Tennessee, where pulled pork is an art form. I took her to try the Maya Bowl at Bare Bowls. We waited longer than I had hoped, but what we got was worth waiting for (though not much longer). The pork was tender with a great flavor, and it was served over a bed of rice that I truly enjoyed. I would have liked a sauce or some from of Jus to round out the flavor but this was fine for the price.
Now, I am a loyal guy, and my belief is to take care of those that take care of me. Pi Pizza was the subject of my last post, and I had to visit them again. I took advantage of the Tre Porcellini (a three-meat variety) this time since I had been inundated with fusion food most of the day, and I wanted “regular food” on my way out. It was also the pie that that the GF has been dying to try, but I would not let her. I prefer to take advantage of Pi Pizza’s creativity.
Now, we come to the end of my journey to Haute Wheels. I am going to catch some flack from some people, but I was disappointed in Bernie’s Burger Bus. Based on what I was told from numerous vendors this festival was a chance to highlight your best in an effort to grow your business, but when I went to Bernie’s I was a bit put out. I was looking forward to sampling the fare, but I was hit with a full menu, and not many options for sampling. $11 for a burger and fries are extra? I understand that when you are out trying to make a profit and competing with other trucks, you should give it your all and dominate. However, when you are working together to build an image, it would probably be better to play well with others. The lines when I was there will agree with me, since they were non-existent at such a well known truck.
Now when I was walking out of Haute Wheels, I felt good (the artisan beer did not hurt). Then the GF said she wanted something sweet. I told that I had noticed The Sweet Shop near the entrance, and we made our way there. It had a manageable line, a good sign in my opinion. We got to the front, and an argument ensued about what we should get. We decided on a turtle brownie cupcake filled with vanilla ice cream. I hate sweets, but this was a religious experience. The caramel had a bite without the stickiness, and the chocolate butter cream was smooth and savory, adding a touch of sweetness to the decadence of the cake. Then I realized what was different about this cake. It was stuffed to order with vanilla ice cream. If you are not hooked by now on this dessert, you are dead inside.
The cupcake was the icing on the cake (pun intended). I had a fantastic time at Haute Wheels, and I am looking forward to next year’s festival. I do think that there needs to be more non-truck vendor participation, but that will come with time. The parking situation could be improved, too. However, Haute Wheels brings to light the great food that is out there because of the guys (and girls) with a truck, a dream, and the willingness to sell their soul through a window night in and night out.