By Lou Bustamante | SF Weekly
Before we started logging a serious number of hours and calories exploring food trucks, a friend asked what our favorite food truck was. “Oh, the cupcake truck,” we replied, and he asked again, annoyed, implying that cupcakes were not a valid food truck cuisine.
It made us think of the discussion you often hear in the music scene about DJs and their validity as musicians. Just like DJs sequence their rhythms ahead of time, dessert trucks make their wares in a kitchen before loading them on the truck. Perhaps if we referred to both as conductors (one with sweets, the other with beats) we could stop arguing, start dancing, and enjoying truck-dispensed sweet treats again, preferably at the same time.
The truck serves some seasonal varieties and a few anchor flavors like The Classic ($3.25, choux pastry puff, Madagascar bourbon vanilla cream, chocolate glaze), but the special Peanut Butter Cream Puff ($3.25) was the most irresistible. The crackling chocolate coating on top had just the right amount of give without shattering, and concentrated chocolate flavor that contrasted with the fluffy peanut butter filling. The cream stuffing was simultaneously velvety, gooey, and just peanut-buttery enough, without that eating-straight-from-the-jar intensity. Eating one is a messy affair, and trying to share one is advised only if you don’t mind crumbs and plops of cream on your clothes. They make mini sizes ($2 each) of some flavors, but not the peanut butter, because people are going to need their own full-size one.
The cream puffs dished out at the Pacific Puffs truck (part of the operation that includes two storefronts here in SF) are classic pâte à choux style morsels of crisp and light pastry. The dough is unique in that part of the preparation involves some stovetop cooking before baking, and that step can make large-scale production a challenge to get right. Done wrong and it’s dense and a dangerous object; done right and it’s the perfect vessel for sweet and delicious things. This type of pastry often ends up cut in half, stuffed with ice cream, drizzled with chocolate sauce, and served as profiteroles.
While cream puffs may not be made on the truck with sizzling smoke and aromas to entice you from across the parking lot, the show at this truck happens in each bite.