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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Food Trucks Run Amok in Loch Raven

Loch Raven Village Food Trucks Deliver Yums On the Run!

One of the few perks of living in this dystopian proletarian community of pickup trucks and pick-up trash (where you can spot a discarded shopping cart or PPE mask every other block - sometimes even a pair of "Bootay"-brand panties) is the steady availability of weekend food trucks just around the corner from our house in the parking lot of Babcock Presbyterian Church, 8240 Loch Raven Boulevard. We used to see them mostly in the summer, but with the dining and gathering restrictions associated with the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, they have become a regular feature and something to look forward to each week. Like the obsessive cult of trainspotters, we have become obsessive foodtruckspotters, regularly checking the Knettishall Community Association Facebook page to see that week's mobile food vendors. For neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these comestible couriers from their appointed rounds. Yes Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. And yes, Loch Raven Villagers, there IS a Food Truck a-comin'! BELIEVE!

For latest postings, always check the Knettishall Community Association Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/knettishalltowson. You have to scroll down a bit because, for some reason, an old post about a vehicle running over the Knettishall sign is permanently embedded as the lead story of the page. (It's time to move on, Knettishall.) Oh, and while waiting for your food, you can walk around the little labyrinth that's behind the church facing Loch Ness Road; blink and you miss it, partially obscured as it is by surrounding trees, but it's well worth a merry-go-round!

So far, Amy and I have lauded the following "Top of the Slops" vendors on our personal Hit Parade at Loch Raven's Trucks-a-palooza:

  • Jimmy's Seafood food truck
    I first discovered the Jimmy's food truck back in the summer as I jogged past the Babcock Church on my run up Loch Raven Boulevard. I saw a crowd gathered and stopped to check it out; on my arrival back home, I relayed the menu to Amy and from then on my weekend runs became "recon missions" giving her a preview of available weekend dining options. Though we are biased towards our beloved Pappas crabcakes over on Taylor and Oakleigh Road (oh how we missed the Pappas Sports Lounge - only recenty reopened - during the pandemic!), Amy took the first plunge (despite her hard-to-please mom criticizing it) and sampled the 5-ounce Jimmy's crabcake - plus "Crabby Fries" (fries smothered in a sea of imperial crab) - and was pleasantly surprised. We have now converted to Jimmy's! Moreover, we are now addicted to Jimmy's famous Chesapeake Bay Sauce (which looks like a mix of Aioli/Russian dressing with a little kick), which we use on everything from crab to brussels sprouts. Jimmy's has several trucks that go all over the metro Baltimore area. You can check their food truck schedule here. Wish they would come back to Loch Raven Blvd. It's been a while! (But, alas, I don't recall seeing their famous Crabcake Egg Roll on the food truck menu.)

Jimmy's Seafood food truck

Jimmy's Chesapeake Bay Sauce
  • Stony Man Coffee and Donuts 
    As a RoFo and Dunkin' Donuts devotee, I found the $4 coffee a little pricey, but hey, it's good coffee and he's a independent entrepreneur, so I willingly paid it. The donuts - 15 donut holes for $10 - are also a little pricey compared to Dunkin', but you get what you pay for and Stony Man's deliciously sweet toppings make any flavor selected worth it. The self-described "Gourmet, small batch coffee shop on wheels" offers the highest quality and locally roasted coffee and eats to you, with cold brew, nitro cold brew, and fresh hot donuts in every conceivable variety (over 20, in fact), from Boston Cream and Bananas Foster (our neighbor Todd's favorite) to Old Bay caramel and Hot Honey. The Stony Man himself is a friendly sort (who I noticed either paints his fingernails or has them permanently covered in some sort of topping). The Caramel Apple and French Toast donuts in particular are to die for. We try to make them last several days, heating them up in microwave when they start to get a little stale. Probably the biggest line we've waited in is for the Stony Man! He is loved in the Loch Raven community and also in the Perry Hall area, where he makes regular appearances at the Seven Courts community. Find also on Facebook or call: (410) 660-5772.

Stony Man Coffee and Donuts food truck

Over 20 varieties of donut delectables!

Holistic Therapy: Stony Man's Hot Donut Hole menu

  • Gypsy Queen Cafe truckstaurant
    This Hampden-based food truck (the mobile version of the Clipper Mill truckstaurant at Clipper Mill Auto) is known for serving up dishes in ice-cream waffle cones (though they have others that come in tortillas, pitas and whatnot), specifically its wildly popular "Crab Cone" (a jumbo lump crab cake sitting atop garlic-and-Old Bay fries drenched with chipotle aioli inside a large waffle cone) and "Crabgasm." We haven't sampled these top-sellers - a tad pricey for us, plus sampling the "Crabgasm" sounded like we might have to wash our clothes and take a shower afterwards - but Amy tried the Curried Basil Falafel, which is avalable in either a waffle cone or a pita wrap. There's also Fish Tacos, Lamb Gyros, Buffalo Wings and Korean BBQ Wraps on offer, as well. And we recently just discovered their Bacon and Bourbon BBQ Brussels Sprouts side dish that is a meal in itself - THESE ARE THE BEST BRUSSELS SPROUTS WE'VE EVER TASTED! We love grilled Brussels sprouts and have tried many variations ever since they became a thing a few years back when we first saw them being touted and celebrated on Rocket To Venus' menu; these easily trump those and even Ryleigh Oyster's superb crispy roasted sprouts in vinegar reduction version. After spotting their "Every time you don't tip, a child gets a mullet" sign, Amy made sure she dropped a buck in the tip jar. Contact Val at vweidel70@gmail.com for food truck suggested visits.

Gypsy Queen Cafe menu

  • Kommie Pig BBQ 
    Kommie Pig has perhaps the best icon -  a red boar emblazoned with the Soviet hammer and sickle - and is actually run by a Russian guy from St. Petersburg. Since I only know one Russian expression (taught to me by my Russian former workmate Alex, who told me, "Thees is only dink you need ever say to womans"), I said the the guy, "I only know one Russian expression, but I can't say it to you, so I'll say it to your lovely lady helper: Ty ochen krasivaya!" He laughed and said, "You can say that to me - I am!" then translated to his female assistant ("He says you are very beautiful!"), who thanked me. Kommie Pig is renowned for its ribs and pulled pork, but also offers Cubans and Reubens sandwiches and every variety of Hot Dogs-Kielbasas-Sausages. Best-named entree: The Chernobyl (ham, pulled pork, bacon, Tiger and BBQ sauce on a Hawaiian Kaiser roll). Amy got the smoked BBQ chicken that came with spicy collard greens (which I stole!) and cole slaw. Check out the Kommie Pig Facebook page for latest food truck location info.

    Amy mulls over the Kommie Pig options

Kommie Pig menu

  • Southrn' Spice 
    This "soul food restaurant" on wheels offers every kind of smoked BBQ meat you can imagine, but Amy settled on the glazed salmon with sides of leafy collard greens and red-beans-and rice. The salmon was served on a bed of richly seasoned southern rice, as well (bonus!). Totally boss combo! Plus, a big ole brick of CORNBREAD to die for! Only pet peev: Why the apostrophe on Southrn'? If anything, it should be after the "h," as there is no "e" in their spelling. (Sorry, the English major in me...) Contact at: southrnspice@gmail.com,@southrnspicedmv, or call (202) 914-1151.

    Southrn' Spice's flame-emblazoned food truck

Glazed salmon, collard greens, reds bean and rice

Southrn' Spice menu

  • Craving Potato Factory
    The surprisingly awesome carbocentric 'tater dining experience and Amy's go-to favorite. On its surface, getting a  baked potato is a pretty vanilla dining option, but these 'taters are HUGE and the spud toppings are "scrumptious"! Amy tried the shrimp and spud combination and the shrimps were some of the tastiest we've ever had, with one entree lasting several meals (if you can consume an entree in one sitting, you might want to consider a career on the Competitive Eating Circuit!). Later we went the extra $2 to add crab - available as the misleading "Dirty Bird" combo - to the shrimp, all lathered in a gooey cheese topping. Check out their Facebook page, as well.

    "I Am Spud Truck": Craving Potato Factory food truck

    The humble potato: It's elementary!
  • Kooper's Chowhound Burger Wagon
    Kooper's of Fells Point is known for their big gourmet burgers and since 2009 has been sending its Burger Wagon out to offices, festivals and private events all over Baltimore. They offer a veggie burger as well as all slaughtered creatures great and small: beef, bison, turkey, lamb, even Japanese Wagyu. Amy custom-built her humungous turkey burger - with a choice of one cheese and three sides, she selected feta cheese to go with sauteed mushrooms, roasted red peppers and arugula - on a soft brioche roll and got two tasty meals out of it. Since the same owners run the Irish soccer pub Slainte, they also offer Slainte's rich and thick seafood gumbo. It's chock-full of crawfish, shrimp and sausage with a spicy kick that makes it perfect for this chilly time of year! Sound good? Then check their Burger Wagon schedule here.

    A customer-built Kooper's Turkey Burger

    Baby Yoda would eat here again! So should you!

  • The Chowhound food truck: home of gourmet burgers

  • Just Like Home (Indian cuisine)
    It's just like home...if home is India! "Dumb name," says Amy, "but good food!" The Knettishall Community web master apparently agrees, adding "Really really good!" to this week's schedule listing. Specialties include the popular Goat Curry (mutton slow-cooked with spices and herbs in yogurt and fresh cream) and - since this a seafood state - Crab Curry (cooked in dry, grated coconut, coconut milk, cilantro and spices). Amy got the Chicken Saag Paneer which featured very spicy creamed spinach (all the more to my benefit, as it was too spicy for her delicate palate but not for mine!), plus garlic Naan bread. Just Like Home is also on Facebook (isn't everyone?) and you can always call 443-570-3302 for more information.

    Amy prepares to order her Chicken Saag with Rice

    Just Like Home's Indian Cuisine menu

  • BMore Greek Grill
    Amy got the Gyro platter with gyro slices over rice and drizzled Tzatziki sauce and pita strips to soak up that tasty sauce. They are due back soon, so more details about the menu offerings to come later...

BMore Greek Grill menu

  • Taco Bar
    Don't know much about this truck, but we happened upon it by accident one night (it wasn't listed on the Knettishall Community Facebook schedule). Amy got the Shrimp Tacos and said they were not bad. She got three meals out of them. I like that their sign changes colors in the dark. Check out their menu here and their Facebook page here.

Those are the trucks we've sampled so far. And we haven't yet sampled Mi Ranchito, the Tex-Mex truck that is permanently parked in the Exxon station lot at the intersection of Putty Hill and Goucher Boulevard across from the Red Robin and Calvert Hall. I hope there're more trux redux to come this winter! In the meantime, keep on truckin'! This winter I'll be truckin' my blues away!

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