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Food Trucks: Great Food on the Move

By Joy Summers

Birk Stefan Grudem holding a black bean-and-sweet potato arepa. It also has house-made queso, citrus onions, tomatoes and lime aioli.Birk Stefan Grudem holding a black bean-and-sweet potato arepa. It also has house-made queso, citrus onions, tomatoes and lime aioli.

The essence of summer can be found in the age-old art of flopping on the ground with food. Taking in a bit of sustenance in glorious sunshine can transform any humdrum day into a cherished memory.

The food trucks have been derided as a trend by some cynical souls, but as someone who follows them with a zeal familiar only to Deadheads, I’m here to declare, they’ve come to stay. Now that we’re finally in the full throes of the season, it’s harder to choose whom to follow and what to eat.

The most anticipated truck of the season is the debut of Foxy Falafel. After having spent past summers at a stand, foxy-gal Erica Strait found herself a sweet, vintage vehicle. For anyone who hasn’t tried her falafels yet, you’re in for a treat. These are, without question, the best falafel in the cities. Crispy on the outside and vibrantly colored on the inside, they have a complex herby flavor wrapped inside a savory crust. The array of condiments are also all made by Strait; her pickling skills are unmatched. For those who find her at the Sunday morning Kingfield Farmers’ Market will be happy to sip her restorative kombucha.

Birk Stefan Grudem and Christina Nguyen operate the turquoise blue Hola Arepa truck. They make fluffy arepas, a fried corn cake (which are naturally gluten-free) and pack them full of all manner of slow-cooked, highly flavorful ingredients. The breakfast arepa is stuffed with tender, juicy pork; long-simmered black beans; and a fried egg, topped with a zingy hot tomatillo salsa. They typically roll through downtown Minneapolis on weekdays, and are often at the Uptown or Midtown Farmers’ Markets on the weekends. Grudem was once a drink mastermind at Bradstreet Crafthouse, and his beverages continue to swivel heads. Changing as the season does, they are always delicious.

Gastrotruck is another truck driven by someone with a fancy name-highlighted rèsumé. Chef Stephen Trojahn had once run kitchens in area luxury hotels before jumping off the dreadmill. His dishes are easy to eat curbside but also created by a man passionate about his ingredients. He knows his way around a piece of pork belly, tucked into wee little New French Bakery buns these sliders are unctuous, salty, sweet and so savory. He also always has vegetarian, and usually vegan options, like the black bean burgers.

Natedogs may not be a truck, but the pastured pork wieners he peddles are essential summer eating. Topped with a variety of mustards he makes (now available for sale), they also come with Minnesota-wine-stewed ketchup; bright, crunchy kraut; and caramelized onions, depending on your selections. For just a couple of bucks, his dogs are wholly satisfying, full of fresh toppings and overloaded with flavor.

All three of these vendors work closely with the farmers who provide their ingredients, which are raised sustainably by small producers. Great food, in the great outdoors, with something for every ethical, discerning diner to savor: sounds like summer.

Joy Summers grew up in Northern Minnesota in a food-obsessed family; seeking out great meals is in her DNA. A freelance writer, she has written for CBS Minnesota, Lavender and City Pages. She lives in St. Paul with her husband and young son.

Food Trucks

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Check their Twitter pages for locations:

https://twitter.com/#!/foxyfalafel

https://twitter.com/#!/holaarepa

https://twitter.com/#!/gastrotruck

https://twitter.com/#!/natedogs

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