Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Trio of Food Truck Titans Tackle the Mac (and Cheese) Truck

It had to happen sooner or later.  The stars align, the traffic patterns converge, and I find myself food trucking on a stunning spring day with my BFF Amanda and my college roommate Ford McKenzie.  It’s almost as good as the first time the Super Friends teamed up – but less spandex.  Here’s what transpired. 

It started like any other ordinary, ho-hum day.  I am leaving an appointment at the dermatologist (I ask you, what could be more ordinary than that?) and I’m obsessively checking Facebook on my iPhone as I ride the elevator down to street level.  There I see the post that will forever change my day.  The Mac Truck has landed on 47th below Park.

The Mac Truck is the primary purveyor of mac and cheese truck food in New York City. I’ve been tracking the Mac Truck for close to a year, but never, ever have I found myself in the right place at the right time.  This is simply unacceptable for a mac and cheese addict. 

Standing on Broadway, I immediately ping my BFF Amanda back at the office.   Is she free for lunch?   Her response makes me weep.  She is in back-to-back meetings until 2:30 pm.  Next I ping my college roommate Ford McKenzie.  Despite having spent way too much quality time with me in recent days, he is game for lunch and agrees to rendezvous on Park Avenue at 12:15 PM.  Success!  I can almost taste the cheddar!

What happens next can only be described as carbohydrate karma, or an embarrassment of high calorie riches.  Amanda’s noon appointment cancels, and she too, is available for lunch!  “OMG, power of intention!” she responds.

Double good mac and cheese and a double date for lunch!

“I’m suited up and I’m even wearing lipstick today,” she writes.

“You will look stunning in whatever hotel Ford chooses for lunch,” I write back. 

We convene in the lobby at noon. Amanda is wearing a fabulous charcoal suit by Chicos, turquois jewelry accessories by Stella & Dot and cosmetics by Bobbi Brown. And don’t forget the heels.  

“This is the perfect lunch,” she tells me as we steel away through the not-so-secret underground tunnels that connect Rockefeller Center.  “My three basic food groups are lasagna, cupcakes and mac and cheese!”

The hike to 47th and Park is a little daunting, particularly for a gal in heels, but Amanda soldiers on with great pluckiness.   I have a moment of panic when we get to 47th and I don’t see the Mac Truck.   Have I dragged this poor woman across town in heels for nothing?

We spot Ford on the corner.  He is decked out in Carhart for Opening Ceremony cotton pants, checked custom shirt from Maxwell’s of Hong Kong, Timberland for Opening Ceremony boat shoes, a contrasting check car coat by Hope, and Brooks Brothers underwear and socks.  (I didn’t fact check the last reference).  
I am wearing generic jeans, and a Charles Tyrwhitt slim cut sky blue gingham shirt, but this is never about my fashion choices.  

I introduce them, realizing that Superman and Batman have nothing on this team.  This team up is perhaps more momentous than when Holmes met Watson, or Mary met Rhoda.

“I’m wearing skinny clothes,” says Ford by way of introduction.  “They’re not really conducive to eating mac and cheese.”  One must pity the poor fashion-forward gentleman who buys his slacks one size too small.   

I sense a commotion on the other side of Park, and indeed there seems to be a street party in progress.   There, sandwiched between a line of food vehicles is the elusive canary yellow Mac Truck.   We join the communal lunch line.   A medley of R&B and gospel music is blasting from the speaker on the Mac Truck.
Overall, this food choice may be a little risky.   It’s very near the end of mac and cheese season.  Gorging on mac and cheese in late spring is a little like wearing white after Labor Day. 

Ford immediately reveals all my deep, dark secrets from college.  “We used to call him the Phantom,” he tells Amanda, “because we could never find him.” Amanda appears to file that fact for future reference and leverage.  
My College Roommate and My Perfectly Accessorized BFF Line up for Mac N' Cheese
We reach the truck window where we are greeted by Dom, a lively and wiry guy, who is scooping mac and cheese into plastic containers.   He wears a black T-shirt with the slogan, “You May Say I’m A Dreamer.”   Until then, I’d not realized that John Lennon was a mac and cheese fan.  The “small” serving of mac and cheese could feed a small army.   We can't even fathom ordering the large serving.  Ford makes a snide remark about the calorie content, which Dom summarily dismisses. 
Dom Dishes Mac N' Cheese
“I’m on the mac and cheese diet and I’m losing weight,” he retorts.    
Amanda orders the Classic Mac N’ Cheese with breadcrumbs, I choose the Bacon Mac N’ Cheese with Parmesan, and Ford orders the BBQ Pulled Pork Mac N’ Cheese and a side of Fried Mac Bites.   That’s right – basically Mac N’ Cheese croquettes.   As he is a connoisseur, Ford also orders an orange soda to go with his nearly orange lunch.  
Ford Orders BBQ Pulled Pork Mac N' Cheese
The question we now consider is where do we eat?   Ford suggests the Intercontinental Hotel, which is right around the corner.  We’ve dined there before, but he likes the cushy paisley sofas in the lobby and thinks they will be perfect for the inevitable food coma that will follow lunch.   As we approach, the door to the hotel opens automatically, as if to welcome well-dressed street food urchins with open arms.  

We settle down on the paisley sofa, lay out the carbolicious buffet and begin to sample.   Immediately, the toasted breadcrumbs scatter across the mahogany veneer tabletop.   Amanda notes that the Classic is just a touch bland, and we wonder if Dom was dancing so fast that he might have left out the salt.   The Bacon Mac N’ Cheese is loaded with smoky flavor, and the fried Mac Bites are just a ridiculously excessive indulgence.   Hands down, our favorite is the BBQ Pulled Pork Mac N’ Cheese, which has a perfect balance of sweet and smoky BBQ sauce and cheesy goodness.   I guess we are mac and cheese iconoclasts at heart.  

Amanda gives Ford career advice (because that's what she does, and quite well, thank you) and the two of them trade parenting tips and tribulations, while I nosh on the noodles. And, if there is any doubt by now that dining on street food in hotel lobbies is the next big thing, I note that there is a couple reclining on the sofa not far from us, chowing down on taco salad in Styrofoam clamshells and drinking Pepsi.  We truly are trendsetters.  
Dining on Street Food in Hotels is the Next Big Thing
The food coma is almost immediate.  Ford considers checking into the hotel for the afternoon or making a coffee run.  After all that cheese sauce, Amanda wants a palate cleanser, so we agree to stop at a frozen yogurt truck on the way back to the office.

“Sprinkles are essential,” Amanda notes as we begin to clean up our indoor picnic.  

“My figure can’t handle frozen yogurt after mac and cheese,” says Ford and he leaves us after we’ve deposited our trash in a can on 48th Street.  

I treat Amanda to an awesome swirl of vanilla yogurt with rainbow sprinkles, and I can’t help but notice how beautifully her perfectly lacquered red nail sets off the multi-colored sprinkles.
Can you imagine that some people actually bother to go to the Four Seasons for lunch?   If only they knew what we know.  

©2014 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved  


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a delightful tale of mac and cheese addiction. You three are definitely trend setters in many more ways than one. I'm not sure if the Big Apple is ready for your
trio :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm laughing... and despite not having had breakfast, I am now strangely full after reading this! I'm waiting for someone to open a hotel and advertise "food truck diners welcome".

Kalyn Denny said...

Love the picture of you leaning on the truck window! I am not the biggest food truck fan, but a Mac-n-Cheese food truck would really get my attention!

Mad Me-Shell said...

I've never been so proud! ! And I'm obsessed with orange soda, so I fully approve of everything in this post!

Gloria Baker said...

I love this post!
First I love food trucks and yours adventures, the food look amazing!
I love Amanda always make me laugh!
And you look amazing T.W. waitying for your food, a really gentlemen!!

Debra Eliotseats said...

The stars have aligned. I love all things food truck but I would stalk this mac 'n cheese vehicle.

Barbara said...

OMG. A mac and cheese truck? I would be in heaven. But no, I would NOT wear skinny clothes for the event. Would love a taste of the pulled pork m & c. I'm sooooo envious. And to top it off with ice cream? Yikes.
(Really, T.W., I still can't get over the fact the you have your feasts in hotel lobbies. My NYC daughter is coming down this weekend and I'm going to have a chat with her about this. And show her your post. Amazing.)

Catherine said...

Sounds like a perfectly balanced lunch...good friends and good food!
That is what life is all about. Blessings T.W., Catherine

~~louise~~ said...

Hi T.W!

It sure sounds like you three broke all the delicious rules with this Springy Mac n Cheese excursion.

I can't tell you how this post has brightened my evening. Love the fashion under tone and of course, all those courses of Mac n Cheese. Who would have thought Ford would choose everyone's favorite, lol...

I'm so glad the stars aligned for all of you. Spring has been a bit stingy with her glee so far this year. Perhaps the stars aligning is a sign of future food truck expeditions:)

Thanks for sharing, T.W...

Velva said...

I would be in a delightful food coma…Mac and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods.

You guys know how to eat lunch!


Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I love your food truck adventures. Not only do we get a review of the latest food trends but fashion and hotels as well. :D I think you should write a book.