By Chris Lundy | Asbury Park Press
There were about 50 vendors spread across Monmouth Park for the Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival Saturday. The trucks were pretty easy to wander around, but sometimes, it’s good to come with a plan.
Tammy Douglas came down from Elmsford, N.Y., to hit the festival, and to visit her parents in Point Pleasant. She had done her research. She looked online to see which trucks were going to be there, and scoured their menus. She decided on a brisket slider from Oink and Moo BBQ.
The smell of barbecue and fried food hung heavily in the air. There was the traditional fair food that most people equate with food trucks — sausage and peppers, funnel cakes, cheese steaks and hot dogs. Another staple was some variety of an overstuffed roll, such as the Fat Chance, which shoved chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and fries into a sandwich.
For picky eaters, pizza and macaroni and cheese could always be found. Sometimes it was simple. Sometimes it was fancy, like spicy mac and cheese or mac with broccoli. One truck had a wood fired oven cooking pizzas.
But there were also some more unusual choices, such as smoked alligator sausage, deep fried curds and spreadable bacon. Some stretched the belief of what could be sold from a food truck, such as Alaskan king crab legs.
It’s worth looking at the menus, and not judging solely by the name of the vendor. For example, it’s not a surprise that Maddalena’s Cheesecake serves cheesecake (on a stick, no less). But there is also iced coffee and apple crumb pie on the menu.
Drinks included smoothies, old fashioned sodas, craft beers and the more name brand beers and sodas.
International and regional selections could be found as well: Falafels, empanadas, shawarma, jerk chicken, gumbo, tabbouleh salad, or a Suki roll: mac and cheese and applewood smoked bacon rolled into an egg roll. One pierogi, filled with chipotle aioli, avocado and sour cream was advertised as gluten free and vegan.
And for dessert (or dessert in place of a meal) there were two different cupcake vendors offering flavors such as strawberry and champagne or bacon brownie. There were Belgian waffles with toppings like salted caramel and fruit. Other choices included Italian ice, Igloo push pops, Cold Stone ice cream, or a sandwich made from a warm glazed donut filled with ice cream.
There were a dozen or more vendors selling other items besides food, such as jewelry, sports memorabilia, toys and clothes. Other booths had face painting, sand art and a psychic. There were easily a few hundred patrons scouting out the concessions. Some vendors had ropes to corral the lines.
It was extremely hot, and a mild cool breeze did little to help that. One group of families assembled a makeshift picnic area with fold-out chairs in a pocket of shade. Chris Maniscalco of Staten Island said he and his group came prepared after coming here last year.
The children ate food brought from home, since some of them can be picky eaters, and it wasn’t worth spending $10 on stuff they could get from home. “We didn’t come here for pizza,” he said. He said it was very well laid out this year, with room to move and see what’s available without running around. “Last year at this time, you couldn’t even walk.”
When Aubriann Fox and Erik Revilla arrived, they didn’t have much of a plan except skipping breakfast. They knew that they would get full quickly and then what? “How aren’t we going to fill up?” asked Revilla, a resident of Asbury Park.
They wound up pacing themselves, picking up a long stick full of potato chips like a kebob. They chose that because “it was shareable,” said Fox, who came from Highlands.
They also checked out the Spudwich, a baked potato hollowed out and filled with sandwichy stuff. One of the better sellers was a Thanksgiving Spudwich, filled with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Sold by 1 Potato Two, there also were a few other choices, like hamburger. The owner, Wink Hall, is from Little Egg Harbor. He does heating and air conditioning when he’s not running the truck to more than 50 festivals, corporate events and weddings throughout the year. Appearing in USA Today put him on the radar of event planners, and then more calls started coming in.
He always liked to tinker with food, putting potato chips or french fries on sandwiches and stuff things like that. After one experiment, making the spudwich, his wife, a more discerning palate, gave him a thumbs up. “She didn’t realize that was the OK to get a trailer,” he said jokingly.
The Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival runs Sunday, starting at 11 a.m., and Monday, opening at 11:30 a.m.