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The Goodness

Goodness Truck

The sun is shinning, the grass is beginning to green, the birds are chirping, and spring is here! I cannot even begin to explain how this turn of seasons makes me feel. I’m not one for winter at all. I hate it. So the arrival of spring and summer makes me feel thrilled to be alive.

It’s also the season where food trucks no longer have to struggle through snow, slick roads, and empty patios. The arrival of warm weather brings forth farm fresh produce, cold beer, and food truck picnics. I feel the goosebumps already just typing this out.

Longtime readers know how much I love food trucks. Love may be an understatement. I’m probably one of their biggest fans in Fort Collins. It’s because they combine the two things I love most – good food and the outdoors. Sure, you can always pick up an order to go from a brick and mortar restaurant and plant yourself in the grass somewhere, or dine alfresco on their patios, but it’s just not the same. The food trucks of Fort Collins add a whole lot of flavor to our outdoor lifestyle, and The Goodness is one of those trucks who do this combination best.

The Goodness launched in June of 2013 with a focus on hearty sandwiches, burgers, and as they say, “glorified comfort between bread.” Owned and operated by husband and wife team, Abby and Andrew Andrews, they moved back to Fort Collins after a two year stint in Canada to start this new adventure. You can find them at various breweries serving up a menu comprised of locally sourced ingredients. Here’s their list of local vendors from their website:

  • Fiddletown Bakery, Fort Collins
  • The Shire CSA, Fort Collins
  • Colorado Mills, Lakewood
  • Quatrix Aquaponics, Laporte
  • Fagerberg Produce, Eaton
  • LOCO Foods, Fort Collins
  • Gilberto’s Gourmet Goodness, Fort Collins
  • Noosa Finest Yoghurt

You can absolutely taste the freshness and flavors of Colorado in their food. It makes a huge difference in quality, and while their price point may be on the higher side, it’s worth it. Not only are they using local ingredients, they’re also one of the very few food trucks in the country who are cooking up this amazingness with the Big Green Egg – a mobile BBQ, smoker, oven all in one. Fresh produce with smoked meats? Yeah, that’s what Colorado tastes like.

Menu

I took my first bite from their menu last summer at Odell with Lauren from Napa of Beer. She let me sample a bite of her Hogfather sandwich and I was immediately impressed. As what usually happens, time slipped by and I wasn’t able to catch them for the review…until now.

I returned again for the full experience this week, on a cold and blustery day. The patio at Odell was barren, everyone opting for cold beers and warm seats inside. Yet, The Goodness was parked outside enduring the last days of winter and texting people when their orders were ready for pickup.

I ordered the Grateful Goodness - house cranberry sauce with a signature stuffing, thick carved slow smoked turkey breast, mixed greens, fresh tomato and house lemon tarragon aioli, completed with a Fiddletown Bakery kaiser roll.

The Grateful Goodness

This was phenomenal. The turkey slice had an irresistible smokiness to it that is completely unique compared to all other Thanksgiving-like sandwiches you can find in town. Most of the other restaurants in town who offer this dish year-round will just slap on regular deli turkey in there, and while it may be a short cut, it’s also a shortcut on flavor. The Grateful Goodness is the real comfort deal. I also enjoyed the light-handed use of herbs in their stuffing. A good thanksgiving stuffing is usually packed with sage and thyme, a flavor combo often signaling the readiness of a post-feast hibernation. But this sandwich was nicely balanced in heavy comfort foods while still being light enough for a outdoor summer adventure. They have generous portions without the couch coma.

I returned again for a lunch meeting at New Belgium to plan an epic dining event this summer (yeah, it’s going to be incredible). This time we delved into most of the menu.

Jana ordered a slider – slow smoked port shoulder tossed in their house BBQ sauce, on a sweet Hawaiian roll with a dill pickle. I forgot to take a photo and a taste, but her first reaction was, “Oh, this is so good!” So, I think that about sums it up.

I ordered the Beer Cheese Burger - 1/2 lb Angus beef burger made with porter, cheddar, mixed greens, tomato, house lemon tarragon aioli on a Fiddletown Bakery kaiser.

Beer Cheese Burger

It was cooked well done, and next time I’ll ask if they can cook to a different temperature (I like my meat medium at most), but it was still dripping with juice and flavor. It was a fantastic burger. I think the Fiddletown rolls make a big difference, too.

We both ordered a side of their chips which are hand cut to order. Your can chose to have them tossed in either sea salt or Goodness BBQ blend. We both opted for the sea salt toss.

Chips

I love these chip! They aren’t too greasy and they aren’t fried all the way through, so they still have a little tenderness to them that is almost like baked potato (almost, but not quite). It’s a great texture, but mostly, a damn tasty flavor.

I also ordered their dessert – the Doughnettes – mini churro style donut holes tossed in coarse sugar. They change the flavor every day, and this day happened to be mixed berry. Sadly, this was the only fail for me. It’s not too shocking either because unless a restaurant or a truck has a pastry chef on staff, you can count on them being successful with food or desserts, but rarely both.

Mixed Berry

They weren’t cooked all the way through and had a gummy texture with a mildly odd flavor. While writing this review, I really struggled with the decision on whether or not this effected the overall star rating. I do think this item is a fail, but I don’t think it diminishes the quality of the other dishes or the general flavor of the whole menu, which is quite frankly, amazing. So, just skip the dessert here until they get something else on board. Everything else is a win.

So, now that the sun is out longer, the scenery is greening up, and we’re all ready to hang out with our sunglasses and flip-flops in the fresh Colorado air, you can add some extra flavor from The Goodness to your Rocky Mountain lifestyle. If you’re going to live Colorado, you might as well taste it at the same time!

 

The Goodness  
Roaming around Fort Collins, mostly at breweries
(970) 227-4141
Thegoodnesstruck.com

Kid-Friendly? No kids’ menu, but it’s a food truck. They’re always kid friendly.

Parking: Wherever the truck is parked

Healthy Options? One vegetarian option, sliders are good for smaller portions. But that’s it.

Budget-Friendly? Lunch averages $10-$12 if you get more than a sandwich.

Recent Health Inspection: Unknown

Five Stars

 

 

 

Umami Mobile Eatery

Photo credit: Umami's Facebook Page

Photo credit: Umami’s Facebook Page

The world of food trucks really resonates with me as a person. I see food trucks almost as rogue restaurants run by people who really thrive on the freedom that comes from independence and creativity, and people who aren’t afraid of taking some serious risks. I see a lot of similarities between food trucks and bloggers, because I see bloggers as the rogue writers, the writers who’ve bucked the system to do their own thing.

Same kind of people, two different worlds, both doing their own thing so they can create something worthwhile without limitation. So maybe this is why I love them so much. The risks they take enable them to make some seriously delicious food with control of quality ingredients, much like bloggers are able to take risks with writing to create something you would never find in a print publication.

And? They make amazing food. So, there’s that.

This is exactly what I thought about as I ate at Umami, another one of Fort Collins’ fantastic food trucks. Umami launched their remodeled airstream trailer in June 2012 and have been going strong ever since. You can find them at CSU with a limited menu during the week and at New Belgium on the weekends with a full and more flavorful menu. My Scoop Blog Network partner, Kara at Faces of Fort Collins, wrote their profile back in May, which shares the story of Martin and Chelsea and all that they’ve gone through to get the truck up and going.

I’ve been to Umami a lot and I’ve had quite a bit from their menu, although there’s still so much to try because they are constantly doing new things in the kitchen and coming up with new menus. I first tried them at the very first Food Truck Rally last year that was in the Pateros Creek parking lot. So many people were excited to try them out that there was a crazy long line and subsequently they were quickly selling out. But, despite the long line and the limited menu, I was impressed at first taste. I ordered the grilled shrimp ninja bowl with basmati rice, sautéed vegetables and teriyaki sauce. It was bright and fresh with crispy vegetables and made me crave more, especially the sweet and savory sauce. I had also ordered a side of edemame (but failed at getting a photo). I think it’s great to be able to get a side of something healthy and shareable from the side of a truck.

Umami

On my most recent visit, I was joined by The Preschooler, who is a huge fan of food trucks for a kid his age, for a meeting with my Scoop Blog Network blogger, Erica at Farming Fort Collins. We met up at CSU to catch Umami for lunch during the week. We ordered the Ooh-Mah-Mi tacos – Sweet chili marinated pork on three double stacked corn tortillas topped with tangy Asian slaw, siracha raita, and fresh cilantro.

Umami Tacos

These tacos were tangy, and a little bit spicy. The Preschooler wanted these for his lunch, but they were a tad too spicy for him. I was happy to swap lunches with him. These were hefty tacos filled to the brim with crunchy slaw and dripping with siracha sauce. Loved them. Absolutely loved them.

We also ordered the pork dumplings - 6 pork dumpling seared on the griddle on a bed of rice and covered with peanut sauce. Again – the peanut sauce! I don’t know what they put in there, but it’s a hell of a lot better than all of the other peanut sauces I’ve had in Fort Collins. There’s something about the lightness of the sauce – most of the other peanut sauces are tick and heavy, while this is light and yet still packed with savory nuttiness. You know, mix that in a bowl with some rice on it’s own and I’m a happy camper. But, that brings us to the rice – rice is a simple, unimaginative filler ingredient, but the rice at Umami is surprisingly sweet, which lends some complex flavor profiles to simple dishes. This is how you know that there is an expert hand in the kitchen.

pork dumplings

Erica ordered the Ninja Bowl with chicken, rice, sautéed vegetables, and coconut sauce. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that their sauces are like the cherry on top of a cake. They are all very tasty and well prepared. The coconut was no exception, and maybe even better than the peanut sauce.

Chicken coconut Ninja Bowl

It’s clear to me from each of my dining experiences at Umami that there is a level of freedom from the kitchen that reflects in the flavor. It’s a strong spice, a freshness, a crispness – the taste of no limitations.

 

Umami Mobile Eatery  
Various locations, but most often at CSU during the week, New Belgium lot on Saturdays
(970) 690-5475
umamieats.com

Kid Friendly? I’m pretty sure all food trucks are kid-friendly

Parking: CSU parking is a pain. The trucks are on Pitkin. Don’t forget to pay for parking there. Saturdays at New Belgium are easier.

Healthy Options? Absolutely. This is one of the main focuses, besides quality ingredients.

Budget Friendly? Everything is under $10.

Recent Health Inspection: Unknown - broken Health Inspection site

Five Stars

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express

It’s interesting how food trucks have become the vehicle (pun intended?) to bring creative culinary concoctions to Fort Collins. With lower overhead and a little more freedom to flex those creative muscles in the kitchen, food trucks are able to drive over those boundaries that some brick and mortar restaurants have stuck to. Offering something unusual brings a bit of risk – will the dining community respond to this? And if not, that means fewer people in seats. Fewer people in seats means lost profits, and lost profits means the restaurant isn’t sustainable. The restaurant business is high-risk to begin with and more restauranteurs want to mitigate any additional risks by taking the proven food path. In Fort Collins, this explains why we have an overabundance of pizzerias, burger joints, and Tex-Mex/Mexican options.

I often lament about the lack of cuisine options in our city, often wishing more people took bigger risks. But hey, I get it. And it’s not my business and livelihood to risk. This is one of many reason why I’m such a huge fan of food trucks. They can do what we crave.

Pineapple Express is one of those food trucks bringing us something that we probably wouldn’t see survive in a standing restaurant (much to my chagrin) – Hawaiian-style. Granted, there is a Hawaiian restaurant that’s been thriving for years in Windsor… Owner Chris Albete and partner Heidi Halvorson seem to be some big risk takers after launching a Hawaiian-style food truck in the middle of winter. They rolled out January 18, 2013 and have been going strong ever since. Much like every other food truck, you can find them parked at breweries and events.

I first wanted to give them a taste at the Kites In The Park event in Spring Canyon Park in April, but they sold out quickly. I finally caught them at the Front Range Rally  in May with blog sponsor, Jennifer Bond. Amidst the wind and impending rainstorm rolling in, I had a chance to try their Macadamia Nut Chicken Sliders on Hawaiian sweet rolls with pineapple slaw and katsu sauce. Jennifer had the Kalua Pork Sliders on Hawaiian sweet rolls with shredded Kalua pork and topped with pineapple slaw.

macadamia nut chicken

I was a fan from the first bite. I think it was a bit dried out, but I can’t really hold it against them too much in that weather along with the very long lines. Considering the circumstances, I was still happy. The slaw was fresh and sweet and the chicken had a nice savory crunch to it. Jennifer had similar feelings about her sliders, too.

pork slider

I hit them up again when they were parked at New Belgium Brewery. I brought the kids with and we had a little picnic in the grass by the park. We ordered just about everything on the menu that day: Fried Rice Balls – spicy Kim Chee fried rice, mozzarella and vegetables, rolled in panko and fried; Dynamite Spam Musubi – a bed of rice topped with a teriyaki marinated  slice of Spam, wrapped in Nori, rolled in panko and fried; a shredded Kalua Pork Plate – pork shoulder seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt, wrapped in banana leaves and slow roasted for 10 hours, shredded and sautéed with cabbage, and served with  a scoop of rice and macaroni salad; and the Teriyaki Tofu Stir-Fry – organic tofu marinated in pineapple-infused teriyaki sauce and sautéed with seasonal fresh vegetables.

With the picnic spread before us, we dug in starting with the fried rice balls. I really enjoyed the spiciness from both the fried rice and the kim chee sauce served on the side. It was deliciously tangy with a bite. The kids thought they were too spicy, and I was happy to eat theirs. This is one of my favorite items on their menu.

Fried Rice Balls

The Spam Musubi was next, and we were fortunate to have non-fried musubi that day. I’ve had both fried and non-fried from them, and I prefer the latter. It has a better flavor than when it’s fried. I think the combination of spam and fried panko crust is just bit much for me, maybe too far on the greasy side of things. I’m not a Spam fan to begin with, but I’m a fan of their musubi and would absolutely order this every time they have the non-fried version available. It’s a tasty snack.

Spam Musubi

The Kalua Pork plate was on the dry side again, this time confirming for me that they meat is just a little too dry no matter the weather conditions of the day. After a few bites to taste the sweetness of the meat on its own, I did have to give it a hefty dousing of sauce to moisten it up, which added some awesome flavor. If you’re not a sauce fan, then this dish probably isn’t for you.

Kalua Pork Plate

The Teriyaki Tofu was a nice vegetarian option. The flavor was subtle and the vegetables maintained their crunch after being stir-fried. The portion size was quite generous. That actually goes for all of their lunch plates.

Tofu Plate

I’m pretty excited that Pineapple Express decided to take the risk with a Hawaiian food truck, giving Fort Collins a little bit more culinary variety. Seeing as though they launched during the coldest winter months, I’m hoping they’ll tough it out this winter, too. Consistently selling out at events and convincing me that spam is tasty – Pineapple Express get the Aloha Spirit from me.

 

Pineapple Express
various locations around town
(970) 222-1249
no website available, but they are on Facebook and Twitter

Kid-Friendly? No specific kid dishes, but it’s a food truck. They’ll have fun eating there.

Parking: Shared Parking lot with whatever lot they’re parked in

Healthy Options? They do some menu labeling for vegetarian and gluten-free

Budget-Friendly? Munchies are $4-5, plate lunches are $7-9

Recent Health Inspection: Good

Four Stars