So I would go ahead and classify myself as a weathered traveler of sorts. I have seen many countries and visited even more of their cities. One thing that remains constant (yes you should embed this fine piece of knowledge into your brain) is that, hands down and regardless of where you might be, the absolute tastiest foods you will find on a new adventure will reside in some dainty and somewhat questionable 3-legged stand that is nestled into a tiny nook on the side of the street. I suggest … no I insist, that you go there.
Now the “truck food” revolution may well have been a thing of the recent past, but it definitely does not change that deep and unforgiving craving for some delicious culinary on wheels. I mean my neighbor[hood] in Dallas was the renowned Knox/Henderson area and, to no surprise, I was what you might reference as a “Gold Card” member over at our friend Jason Boso’s Truck Yard. This place is literally the “holy grail” of awesome hangouts forecasting unforgettable times and delicious foods, many of which are carefully constructed in one of the 4 food tucks on premises. It shouldn’t be surprising that, while trekking through the snow on my way to learn some Deutsch (yes it snows in November here my fellow Texans), I noticed a vibrant and kinda funky poster with the bold letters “EUROPEAN STREET FOOD FESTIVAL“. I was all-in from that very moment. What better way to become more cultured and knowledgeable about some traditional, as well as unique, foods from several European cuisines? So Courtney and I saddled up in the “Batwing” and hit the trail …
Entering the grounds we were welcomed with a variety of unfamiliar but delicious scents. With our senses peaked and stomachs howling, we set off with beer in hand, and began browsing. This process was not necessarily an easy one. With over 40 vendors on sight narrowing down the list took more diligence than we would prefer. Now I should enlighten y’all to the fact that the dearest thing to a Texan, is our beloved “Tex-Mex”, and unfortunately here in Österreich, there isn’t the slightest glimmer of anything related (No, but seriously, I was previously served marinara sauce as salsa. A very unpleasant surprise). After meandering through the event, guided by our keen senses and paired with our deeply rooted hankering for familiar cuisine, we wound up at Gordita. Upon further inspection and a slight hesitation toward excitement, we were shocked to recognize the familiar characteristics: cilantro, blue-corn tortillas, cotija cheese, mole sauce, and salsa verde. We were stoked! After concluding it was worthy of a go, I quickly struck up a conversation with the cook asking her where she was from … irony had it, Canada! Canada, I thought to myself?! Then decided, what the hell! It is close enough! The dish was carefully crafted and displayed beautifully on a paper plate. The first bite was damn near overwhelming. We were finally able to embrace the ever sweet sensation of flavors that we had thought to become extinct. Needless to say, our tastebuds were overwhelmed in the best way possible.
Filled with satisfaction and yearning for more, we moved on to the next stop. The next decision was not so difficult. Back home we were frequent customers at a number of Asian establishments, from Thai to Vietnamese, we love it all. Although it is not as foreign as our beloved Tex-Mex, Asian food remains a constant in our diet. The next stop was a familiar item but from a more unique Eastern Asian region, Tibet.There was not a whole lot of complexity with the involved item in this decision. The Tibetan cook offered one item in a couple of variations … dumplings. If you don’t love these things, you’re an idiot. They are literally sent from the Bön Gods and probably explain the other hefty bald man they worship in this area of the world (no-offense Buddha). The best part of the dumpling is usually the sauce, this experience was no different. A perfectly balanced combination of sweet, salty, and spicy. Game on!
Feeling like we had curbed the wolves of hunger, it was time to embellish into a fine beverage. If any of you know me, you understand that I am kind of a beer nerd. I love the stuff. Living in the heart of beer country, I am constantly on the prowl for something new. Of course there was your standard beer caterer hired for the event by the good people over at Stiegl Braurei, but that is available everywhere here in Austria. Following our way through the maze of food trucks we happened upon a tent reading “Slovenish Essen und Bier” meaning Slovenien Food, you can figure out the rest. I was intrigued and decided to check it out. I ordered us a couple of frosties and paid the man what was owed with an extra tip of 1euro (this is evidently rare). Upon thanking me he asked me to hold on a second. The man pulled out a bottle of clear stuff from underneath the table and set up a shooter and filled it to the brim. He told me it was home made and from his long-time Slovenian family recipe. The “Schnapps” was most definitely a corn spirit with a very high alcohol content. A very pure type of liquor with very little sugar or any other additives; literally awful stuff if you prefer a darker spirit like myself, but behind my humble smile paired with a good ole American Handshake, I disguised my scorn and went about my day as if I had just finished Grandma’s homemade fudge. The beer, on the other hand, was delicious. Union beer is a crisp pale-ale with a mild hop flavor and is a bit lighter than the traditional “märzen” beer here in Austria (Märzen means March; which is the time of year most beer was brewed decades ago to keep from spoiling in the warmer months prior to refrigeration).
After guzzling a few brews it was back to the reason we were here, food. We decided to go to a stand that had a pretty tasty looking pulled-pork sandwich that was literally roasting on a spit over the fire and pulled off right in front of you. Unfortunately, it was awful. The meat was way too dry and had little to no flavor. We cut our losses and went back to a safer and more familiar continent, Asia … Earlier we had noticed a stand near the Gordita that had quite a few people waiting in line. It must be good right?! We uncovered that it was in-fact Korean fried chicken. Now I do not know much about Korea (other than that prideful prick Dictator in the North) or its’ cuisine. All we knew going into it was that fried chicken is fried chicken and happens to be delicious … decision made. The chicken was cut into small pieces (popcorn size) and battered and deep fried like you would expect. The kicker was the sauce. Offering two separate sauces, spicy or regular, it was a no-brainer. The sauce was topped with a generous amount of chives and was dark red in color; resembling the sweetness and texture of Hoisin Sauce that you normally find in Vietnamese restaurants. It was savory and had a subtle spicy finish. The perfect follow-up to our disastrous pork-belly sandwich.
We end this post with the way it started. Travel more, live happily, and eat street food!
Prost und Mahlzeit!