Friday, November 16, 2012

The Food Truck Thanksgiving Challenge at The Hard Rock Hollywood

With only a week to go before the great American feasting holiday of Thanksgiving, the Hard Rock provided a gastronomic warm-up of sorts.  Temperatures dropped to the lower seventies as the lights of the casino served as backdrop.  The motorcade of food trucks fired up grills and waffle makers to feed those looking for alternatives to the same old turkey meal.

While the nearby band played way too loud, crowds enjoyed a classic car display on the way out to the parking lot full of renovated trucks that slung a variety of dishes.  But this was no ordinary night for the trendy food trucks; no, this night those mobile chefs had been challenged to present Thanksgiving based meals.

The Info Zombie brought his crew of seasoned foodies to sample the special evening.  Included beyond the break are photos and comments of selected trucks.  Try not to droll too much.

SLOW FOOD TRUCK: Open faced grilled corn bread turkey sandwich with buttered corn bread, cranberry chutney, duck fat sous vide fried dark meat topped with a giblet gravy.  $10

A delicious combination of all things Thanksgiving, the sandwich tasted best down at the cranberry chutney cornbread bottom.  This was a good starter for the night since it blended well.  However, the individual parts were good at best.

THE LOADED BURGER: Fresh ground turkey stuffed with homemade southern cornbread stuffin’, injected with roasted turkey gravy and topped with Mac n’ Cheez served on toasted brioche with cranberry relish and garlic mayo.  $9

There’s nothing more odd—or more rewarding—than biting into a burger and expecting a savory taste but getting sweet instead.  Evenly cooked turkey provided the base for this stuffed burger that satisfied with each perfectly prepared component.

BEST FRENCH FRIES: Mashed potato fries served with cranberry sour cream.  $6

The crispy fried outer shell of the mashed potato fries held the cooked mashed portions inside.  Pouring the sauce on the fries works better since the portions are so big.

B.C. TACOS: Roasted Turkey taco topped with stuffing and charred green beans.  Included a mini taco with sweet potatoes and roasted marshmallows served with a side of gravy and cranberry sauce.  $9

Turkey in a taco put the whole Thanksgiving meal into one bite.  Evenly roasted turkey made the brunt of the flavor while the side taco showed one can deliver the standard sweet potato dish in a different way.

WAFFLEOSOPHY: Pumpkin waffle with roasted turkey, chestnut gravy, cranberry/raspberry reduction, sweet potato crisps, and roasted marshmallows.  $8

The foundation of this unique presentation was the pumpkin waffle.  For a food truck, this proves to be brilliant since there’s little cooking time.  All the fixings have been prepared in advance, so the wait time comes only from the fresh waffle.  Critic, chef, and friend of the Zombie, Cindy, suggested that more roasted marshmallows would have tied the flavors together better.  And she was right.

SAKAYA KITCHEN TRUCK: House-cured and pulled turkey breast, house organic miso-mustard, kimchi maple sweet potato on a butterhead bibb with garlic’d brussel sprouts and orange glazed Kurobuta pork belly. $8

Although a side, the brussel sprouts and pork belly stole the show off this satisfying dish.  Unlike anything you’ve tasted before, the pulled turkey breast makes you wish this food truck parked in front of your house on the third Thursday of November.

FIREMAN DEREK: Pumpkin cheesecake. $6

With a caramel glaze and sweet crust, this full-bodied pumpkin cheesecake provided a refreshing dessert.

HipPOP’s Handcrafted Gelato Bars: Vanilla gelato pop with caramelized pecans, dipped in semi-sweet chocolate, incrusted with cinnamon dusted graham cracker crumbs.  $5

You have never had dessert this good.  Never.  The blend of the chocolate with the smooth gelato got only better with the cinnamon graham cracker crust.  I will search out this treat any time the Food Trucks circle their wagons.  I suggest you save room for this gelato because it will make you very happy inside.

If I had to pick the best experiences of the night, I would say that Loaded Burger and HipPOPs win hands down.  If those mobile chefs read this, please keep those foods on your permanent menus.

The Food Trucks park every third Thursday of the month at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.  Can’t make it there?  Don’t fret.  Those trucks wheel up in the strangest places.  Do a quick web search with your town and “Food Trucks”, and you will find an event closer to home.

For now, I have to go walk off some calories.

Keep rising from the graves of ignorance, my Zombies…


  1. I was there.. You really hit a homerun with this article. This was my first time going to the Food Trucks at the Hard Rock and I have to add it to the monthly rotation.

  2. Look forward to seeing you there, Auto. Just watch out for the Zombie because he may have a free t-shirt for you.