Let me begin this Food Truck Fetish Friday post by saying that tapas are not my cup of tea. While I have long admired the nation of Spain for its collective embrace of daily siesta nap culture as necessity, folklore of El Cid and Don Quixote, and a storied tradition of running with—and being gored by—enormous angry bulls, I have never cared for their saucer-sized contribution to the scene of international cuisine.
Or at least that is the notion I have always firmly ingrained in my mind because I rarely indulge in tapas. Like, ever. You see, my perception of this style of dining gravitates toward the quintessential American school of thought: it’s freakin’ lame, much as it is perceived in Birmingham, Kansas City, Memphis, or anywhere that prides themselves on the value of sizable portions, which, judging by our restaurants and waistlines is…THE ENTIRE U.S.A.!
I also have innate biological restraints to tapas that are hardwired deep into my inner circuitry. Being a self-conscious barbaric male precludes me from seeking out this form of nutrition when I need to satisfy my appetite. Typically, these dishes are served alongside glass pitchers of fruit-infused, pinkish sangria to groups of 24 year-old female interns on Capitol Hill. Apparently, these young ladies enjoy paying $15 for each paltry appetizer plate in a fleeting attempt to relive their trials and tribulations as study-abroad students in Barcelona.
Me? I know where I belong and that is usually sitting in a dark, dank dive bar with a lukewarm beer in one hand, an overstuffed roast beef po’ boy sandwich in the other, and my mind flip-flopping back and forth as I decide whether it is advisable to carry my foodstuffs with me when I get up to use the bathroom.
Well, wouldn’t you know—my next stop on the free food truck lunch tour was…the Tapas Truck.
My free ticket to the Tapas Truck entitled me to a three-tapas platter, not some stinking gyro like other roach coaches in this city. Appeased, I approached the window, slammed my lunch ticket on the counter, and barked an order of Chicken Pimenton, Pork Verracruz, and Corn Fritters….to go.
The Chicken Pimenton is a mild, flavorful chicken dish served similar to a curry over a bed of golden saffron rice. The sautéed chicken was quite tender, retaining its moistness in a creamy roasted paprika sauce garnished with red piquilo peppers. The pimenton truly tasted like a homemade delight, soothing my soul every moment of the 90 seconds it took to devour.
Adjacent to the chicken was the “Pork Verracruz” tapa, which consisted of crispy, bite-sized pork bits. I’m not sure what part of the magical pork animal these came from, but they were a little dry, possibly from overcooking—not uncommon with pork. However, it was “situation normal” with the addition of the cilantro sauce accompanying the corn fritters came to the rescue, which you will read all about.
Underneath vittles of crunchy pork rested a small mound of garlic fries. Tapas Truck’s garlic fries were extremely potent, which when translated, means “they are fantastic.” The bittersweet sting in my mouth indicated that they use real garlic—not some pre-packaged powder or garlic-infused salt—and the fries are sure to repel vampires and their lame admirers from far, far away.
The corn fritters were surprisingly…awesome. My mouth was prepared to endure a dry desert of fried cornmeal, but was pleasantly blindsided with the sweetness of moist, fried corn cake fritters that featured whole kernels inside the golden-brown battered balls. The fritters reminded me of hush puppies, only smaller and 1,000 times better. And the green cilantro cream sauce is absolutely magnificent, both as a condiment for the fritters and pork bits, and as a new challenger on a meteoric rise to the apex of food condiments. I want this sauce on fries, I want this sauce on burgers, on pizza, on tacos, a la mode or by itself. I will consume it in liquid, solid, and gaseous form. Man, I wish I were eating this sauce right now.
Twitter Summary in 140 characters or less:
Barbaric appetite surprisingly fulfilled by tapas: pork, chicken, corn fritters, and amazing cilantro sauce from @TapasTruck #CilantroSauce4Prez2012
Rating in a Nutshell
Ratings are based on a scale of 1-5 hungry hippos
Recommended dish: Chicken pimenton was great, especially if you are looking more for an actual meal at lunch instead of, well, tapas. I’d also recommend the corn fritters as one of the best snacks you will find off a food truck in DC. If there is a way to order a 32oz Big Gulp of their cilantro cream sauce, I will not only recommend you do so, but alert me so that I may join you in toasting our health as we down a Styrofoam cup’s worth of condiment heaven, holding hands, and victoriously sailing to the far away land of Valhalla on a full stomach.
Would I pay to go back? Sure, why not.
Website: http://tapastruckdc.com/ (currently a “future home of something cool” – under construction, I assume)
For more information about food trucks in Washington, D.C., including daily locations of every single food truck in the district, check out www.foodtruckfiesta.com and follow them on Twitter: @foodtruckfiesta
Next time, I revert to my strength as an eater and my wannabe foodie roots from my days of living in New Orleans as I review po’ boy sandwiches from Cajunators food truck. I’ve had approximately 732 po’ boys in the last five years, so how does Cajunators stack up against the big boys from the bayou?