There are times when my friends seem to know exactly what I’m thinking. It’s a little eerie.
It is a recent midday, and I’m in a bit of a funk. Zany’s former office, which was also once Mad Me-Shell’s former office, is gathering dust. The other day I found an old hamburger wrapper balled up in the corner of the office, once the hub of a massive lunch operation. It reminded me of those grand days when food trucks roamed wild across Manhattan. Now, thanks to a judge who is clearly dyspeptic, the food trucks have mostly fled midtown and I’ve eaten a turkey sub with honey mustard for lunch for exactly 21 days in a row.
At exactly that moment, I hear that distinctive email “ting.” I open the mailbox, and see Mad Me-Shell’s name flashing at me. She writes:
I realize you’re going through a very difficult time as you try to understand and move past the crushing scenario that is your current food truck situation in the city. But, I just read about this: http://gorillacheesenyc.com/
Were you aware of this? It’s grilled cheese, TW! You can’t go wrong with grilled cheese! And as if that weren’t enough, they have tater tots…with dipping sauces. You know, to make them gourmet.
Run, don’t walk, and go find that truck!
I’ve never met anyone like Mad. She has this razor sharp culinary radar that never dims, even when she’s got a couple of Pabst Blue Ribbons under her belt. I take a minute to contemplate the irony of my Chicago friends tracking down New York lunch recommendations for me. Then I get a little misty eyed, realizing that someone out there still cares. Then, I click on Instant Message and summon Marie Antoinette on an urgent mission. She needs no convincing. “You had me with the words “Gorilla Cheese,” she replies, and we are on our way.
We check our sources and find that the Gorilla Cheese truck has been frolicking in a couple of nearby neighborhoods, and we get a line on the truck’s location over on Park Avenue. It’s a bit of a walk, but as Marie Antoinette notes, with grilled cheese and tater tots on the menu, the extra exercise is a plus.
I haven’t seen MA in a while. She’s been off attending some kind of summer camp in Canada. She’s a bit mooney-eyed over the prospect of grilled cheese for lunch. “I think they should make grilled cheese one of the major food groups,” she says. I make a note to pass that suggestion along to the FDA.
We are heading across town at decent trot. I spot a yellow vehicle in the distance and my heart starts pounding with anticipation. Yet, as we get closer I am crushed to find that it is nothing more than a DHL delivery truck.
Marie Antoinette looks at me sideways. “Easy, Tiger,” she cautions.
Then we spot the Gorilla Cheese truck just ahead – it’s a bright banana yellow emblazoned with a cartoon of its simian mascot, who is sort of a cross between King Kong and Curious George.
We have to wait our turn behind a group of young bankers, dressed summer casual in khakis and button-downs. Gorilla Cheese promises "Awesome Grilled Cheese" and offers a variety of classic grilled cheese menu items along with specialty sandwiches and sides, like tater tots and mac and cheese. I’m thinking hard about the mac and cheese but MA refuses. “I’m sticking with the classic grilled cheese,” she insists.
The truck’s motto is “It’s Easy Being Cheesy,” and we fall right into line with that philosophy. Marie Antoinette orders a grilled American cheese on whole wheat, with tater tots and ketchup on the side. I send Mad an instant photo of Marie Antoinette posing with the friendly gorilla.
At exactly the same moment, Mad sends me a photo she’s harvested from Yelp which shows someone demonstrating the cheesy elasticity of Gorilla Cheese. It’s titled “Your Inspiration Today.” How does she know we are eating grilled cheese at that very moment? The woman is a redneck culinary psychic.
I decide to get a little creative. While I certainly advocate the classics, there’s always room for alternatives. I order a grilled Gruyere cheese on multigrain bread, and along with my tater tots, I ask for ginger dipping sauce. Yes, I’m an iconoclast and a gourmand. We head to a nearby plaza for an impromptu picnic.
The Gruyere grilled cheese is hot, nutty, and kind of stringy – everything a fine grilled cheese sandwich should offer.
The “classic” American grilled cheese gleams bright orange in the afternoon sun. It’s less pliable, but the essence of cheesy comfort oozes out of the bread.
The golden tater tots are so petite, they’re actually infants and they’ve got a nice crisp bite. I alternate between the ginger dipping sauce and ketchup. It’s a tough call.
Time’s a wasting, and we realize that we’ve been AWOL from the office for some time. We power walk back to HQ, and are both a bit winded.
“We probably burned off exactly ONE tater tot with that walk,” notes Marie Antoinette.
I don’t know about that, but later that afternoon, I do have a sudden urge to climb the Empire State Building.
©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved