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La Piadina

La Piadina

Last Friday night Bill and I took a walk around our neighborhood in the rain. It was warm for a light rainstorm and it felt so reviving being in the gentle darkness, breathing in deep cleansing breaths. When we got home I didn’t want to go back inside. I wanted to stay outside forever. So I plopped down in the grass, starfish-style, looking up at the night sky as raindrops sprinkled down on my face. Being the dorky writer that I am, I realized the difference between the definition of “sprinkle” and “drizzle” in that moment. FYI – it’s all in the size and spray pattern.

The grass was soft, like natures blanket. It smelled of earthy mushrooms. It was a moment I wanted to soak in for hours, and I would have if it would have been socially acceptable to look like you’re passed out on your front lawn in the middle of the night.

I was brought back to this moment when I was at the most recent food truck rally on Wednesday evening. It had been raining ever so slightly, the same kind of sprinkle on that magical Friday night. I sat with friends under a beautiful tree in City Park, comfortable on the soft grass beneath us.

My friend Paul commented about loving food trucks, being able to eat dinner in the sun on the grass. I felt like sprawling out on the soft blades to watch the leaves flutter in the rain again, but this time with food in my hands.

I had a similar moment with my friend Jennifer at the food truck rally at City Park a couple of weeks before – sitting in the green, the warm sun on our skin, people watching and having insightful conversation.

By now, long time readers know that I’m one of the biggest food truck fans in town. It’s because of these simple moments that cannot be experienced inside a brick and mortar restaurant – not even on a patio. It is the perfect balance between food and the outdoors in the city – a picnic that you don’t have to prepare for. While the dining is as minimalistic as you can get, the food – simple to make and serve – reflects that balance of nature and quality flavor our dining community strives for.

At both food truck rallies I ate at La Piadina, a truck I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. La Piadina has been running for a little over year by owner Menyus Borocz and his girlfriend Stacy Sevelin. Menyus is also the bassist in Wire Faces. La Piadina has a typical food truck schedule, brewery rounds at lunch and events in the evening. As of today, the CSU lunch contracts have expired and have not been renewed, so you won’t find them there again from this point on. 

Jennifer and I chowed down on their piadina sandwiches at City Park, determining that the bread looks like a quesadilla but has the texture and flavor closer to naan. Although it’s an old dish, it’s unique in Fort Collins.

Piadina

Their ingredients are farm fresh; they even grow arugula and basil from their own backyard garden. Everything is made from scratch – including their cheese, pesto, and marinara. It tastes like an Italian garden in your hand. My first impression after eating there? “La Piadina is probably the most underrated food truck in Fort Collins,” I said at the food truck rally.

La Piadina Menu

I’ve had their “Da Capri” – fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic. I’ve also had their “La Genovese” – fresh pesto, stracchino cheese, and tomatoes. Both were light and refreshing meals with straightforward, uncomplicated flavors. The sandwiches are large, and word to the wise, keep them wrapped as they are. I made the mistake of unwrapping mine for the photo and it’s not as easy to eat. But, when kept in the wrap, it’s the same as eating a Big City Burrito in foil.

La Piadina Sandwich

Piadina Wrapped

Photo Credit: La Piadina Facebook Page

Photo Credit: La Piadina Facebook Page

I also suggest adding a little bit of their flavored olive oil or balsamic vinegar to add some extra kick. Without it, it’s a mild garden flavor. Adding a little extra is a nice touch of punch.

They also serve San Pellegrino if you’d like a beverage to go with, and let me tell you, this is one of my weaknesses. It is the absolute perfect pairing for a meal in the grass.

A great food truck is able to capture the relaxing feeling of dining al fresco in the flavor of their menu. La Piadina does just this. It’s delicious dining in the gentle breeze with a perfect seat on the lawn. They are the truck that makes you enjoy the small simple pleasures in life – like feeling the sprinkle of rain on your face, and licking fresh pesto from your fingers in the park.

 

La Piadina    
Roaming the streets of Fort Collins
la-piadina-foodtruck.weebly.com

Kid Friendly? Yes! But they won’t be able to eat a whole sandwich, make sure to split it.

Parking: Wherever the truck is parked

Healthy Options? They do have bread options that are vegan/vegetarian safe. The whole concept is pretty healthy to begin with.

Budget Friendly? Average pricing is $7

Recent Health Inspection: Excellent

Four Stars

 

 

 

 

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