The Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival kicked off its inaugural event here in Austin, TX and the brain child behind this fabulous event was Tiffany Harelik. It was a celebration of the mobile food movement that is sweeping the nation and Austin! A culmination of over 30+ food trailers descended upon Auditorium Shores in downtown Austin to serve up a “day of tasty treats, tunes & more” with cuisine ranging from Moroccan, Mexican-Korean Fusion, Japanese, German, Ice Cream, Donuts, BBQ to good old Southern style comfort food!
In addition to the 30+ trailers to tantalize your taste buds, there was a “Best of the Fest” cook-off competition awarding prizes in five categories: meat, vegetarian/vegan, sweets, drinks, & creativity (see winners list below), live music (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians sponsored/presented the event) & story time (presented by BookPeople) for the little ones between music sets on The Sideshow , which included jugglers, acrobats and flaming hula hoops later in the afternoon! Le Cordon Bleu had demonstrations throughout the day to help you brush up on your kitchen skills!
Arriving at the Gypsy Picnic Festival around 11:30am, I met up with another foodie friend/blogger (@FoodDrinkLove) to enjoy an afternoon of eating (*Note: I did maintain my gluten-free regiment, but the paleo/no processed sugar went to the way side a bit, but I made smart/limited choices in my selections)! Each trailer was offering up sample size eats priced at $3.00 each, along with other options to choose from (prices varied). The trailers were set up based on their locations in Austin (liken it to the boroughs of New York): Eastside, SoCo, Campus, Downtown, South side, & included trailers that move around the city (Rovers). We checked our list twice & decided just how we wanted to tackle the trailers, as we had both eaten at some trailers and not at others. So we were off on our trailer eating adventure!
Starting off with The Flying Carpet, I ordered up the “Kefta & Potatoes.” If you’ve never had Kefta, it is a savory Moroccan meat dish that incorporates either beef or lamb (my preference is the lamb) and is seasoned with such spices as garlic, onions, cumin, coriander, harissa and turmeric. The kefta was light, non-greasy and the combination of spices gave it a bit of heat that left me wanting more. The potatoes were the perfect accompaniment to the kefta and the portion size just right! The Flying Carpet is one of my favorite trailers on South Congress!
Next we moved onto 86 This, a full service mobile catering company I had never heard of, nor had I ever tried their food, so I was excited to check out their menu and taste what they were serving up. Serving up classic Southern favorites, we opted to order two items from the menu to share. I ordered up the “Multi-Tasker” sample (smoked brisket and cheesy mashed potatoes – I ordered this without the bun to keep it gluten-free).
I love all things BBQ, especially brisket and my love for all things potato (be it mashed, hashed, fried, scalloped – I love potato’s) and they were serving up “cheesy potato’s” with this sample dish (heavenly song playing in my head as I ordered)! We also ordered their Chili Cheese Fries (yes more potato’s). As we dug into the “Multi-Tasker” the taste of the brisket was savory, smokey and perfectly cooked. The cheesy mash that sat aloft the brisket were tasty, but I would have liked them to be more cheesy (personal preference the more cheese the better). The Chili Cheese Fries were good, but the chili was a bit to sweet for my liking.
Our next stop was The Peached Tortilla – Yes it was with excitement, as I’m a huge fan of The Peached Tortilla’s trailer delights! A taco truck that is a fusion of “Southern & Asian flavors” to bring you one of the best Bahn Mi tacos I’ve ever had! The pork belly is the perfectly cooked! I always order the Bahn Mi taco (corn tortilla), but Owner, Eric Silverstein, tells me the “Bahn Mi Slider” is a favorite! The sweetness of the bun in combination with the pork belly, sriarach mayo and pickled daikon, carrot and cilantro salad sound heavenly! Yes I am jealous I cannot get this version with being a Celiac, but I trust my foodie friends who’ve eaten the slider & say it is “to die for.” Two other fav’s: Catfish and The Southern Squash! Make sure to check out The Peached Tortilla – Check twitter feed for locations during the week/weekend! The Peached Tortilla is creating a lot of buzz and has been recently featured in the Austinist and Eater Austin.
Our last stop – Dessert at Bananarchy! I knew this would be one of the last times I got to try the delicious frozen banana treat from Bananarchy with it being fall and winter just around the corner! This is one dessert that I can have with gluten-free/vegan options and not a ton of extra processed sugars added in! So I selected the 1/2 vegan chocolate and nuts sample size (I was getting really full at this point from all of the other delicious eats I had partaken in earlier in the day). I don’t remember the last time I had a frozen banana dessert, but I will tell you this, I will not wait this long again! Bananarchy has mastered the art of the frozen banana dessert! Your dip choices of: Milk chocolate, vegan chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter (this is a must try next time for me). Toppings: Nuts, Oreo Cookies, M & M’s, Reese’s Pieces, graham crackers, toffee, coconut, cookies, and granola. You can create your own banana delight or order up on of their kitch named creations -“The Afternoon Delight” & “The Joe Banana.”
Wrapping up the afternoon around 2:30pm, the lines were becoming long (average wait at this point was 30-50 minutes) and the crowds quite large. There were a lot of complaints flying across twitter throughout the event about how long the lines were, but if you had gotten there early is wasn’t too bad (I waited 35-40 minutes for Bananarchy & it was worth the wait)! Over all I think that the Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival was a success. More than 15,000+ were in attendance, exposing Austin to mobile food vendors that can be found throughout the various neighborhoods of Austin, with offerings from the standard hot dogs and pretzels to gourmet ice cream and fusion tacos, mobile cuisine has become a part of Austin’s culture. Be it an airstream trailer or a brightly colored mobile truck, get out and enjoy the cuisine these vendors are serving up!
Here is the winner’s list from the “Best of the Fest” cook-off competition:
Greatest Gulp: Holy Cacao (Frozen Hot Chocolate)
Carnivore’s Delight: Torchy’s Taco (Green Chile Pork Taco)
Most Veggie-Licious Vittle: Bananarchy (Vegan Half-Size Frozen Banana)
Darn Good Dessert: Cutie Pies (Betty Lou’s Award Winning Buttermilk Pie)
Trailblazing Creation: The Mighty Cone (Shrimp Cone)
For up-to-date information on mobile food vendors here are three great links to check out:
You can also follow Austin Food Carts on Twitter @austinfoodcarts
You can also follow Food Trailers Austin on Twitter @FoodTrailersATX
You can also follow Trailer Food Diaries on Twitter @trailerfood