Blog Archives

Beefing It Up At Burger Brawl

The Burger Brawl was started by a bunch of parents at a local elementary school to raise money for a new computer lab. Now, years later, it has spiraled out to become a huge event with 60 restaurants making thier best burger! Check out the slideshow for all the burger goodness!

DidjaEat? Ep. 16: Meghan Walsh

This episode features Meghan Walsh from The Food Trust talking about what the Food Trust is, how they try to combat hunger and what the Night Market is and how it’s put together!

You can also check it out on iTunes!

This podcast is sponsored by Audible! Get your free audiobook and help us with the bills, man!

A Chat With The Big Cheese of the Vendy Awards

Unless you have been living under a very large rock, you may have noticed that Food Trucks have exploded in popularity in the past few years. This Saturday at Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown, the 4th Annual Vendy Awards are back with a vengence to crown the best in Food Truck-ery in Philly! Tickets are still available and all proceeds go to The Food Trust (the gang that runs Night Market), a worthy organization that makes sure there is healthy food out there for everyone.

We had a little chat with Zeina Muna, the Managing Director of the Vendy Awards, to get some delicious facts on this fun event benefitting a worthwhile cause.

How did the Vendy Awards come about?
The Vendy Awards’ modest beginnings took place in 2005 in an East Village (NYC) garage with only a handful of vendors. The Street Vendor Project was a young organization and wanted an occasion to celebrate NYC’s street food and an opportunity to showcase the vendors we represented. Today, we have expanded across the country to include events in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Philadelphia!

How did you end up as Managing Director of the delicious Vendy Awards?
I have personally attended the Vendy Awards in NYC for the past 7 years. In 2011 I was lucky enough to be selected as a Citizen Judge to join the judge’s table to help pick the eventual winner of the 2011 NYC Vendy Cup! Needless to say it has been a thrill to be part of the organization and watch it grow – so when the opportunity came I put my name in the hat and the rest is history!

How did the SVP come to be as a part of the Urban Justice Center?
The Street Vendor Project joined the Urban Justice Center upon its founding in 2001. The Urban Justice Center has since operated as a collective of ten small projects that share common overhead costs and a common social justice mission.

Has there been an increased awareness to the plight of the vendor over the past few years with food trucks being so overwhelmingly popular?
Being a street vendor is a very difficult job – something that eaters of street food often do not know. Vendors are small business people struggling to make ends meet by working long hours, multiple jobs, and often in stressful conditions. Set up costs and maintenance are incredibly expensive and time consuming. To top that, there are often laws in place that are confusing or inconsistently monitored which can limit the availability of permits, where a food vendor can operate, and the health codes to follow.. In some ways, the rapid growth of street food has given people the impression that its easy to set up as a newbie – but the fact is its incredibly easy to have to shut down as well!

Are there plans to start new chapters of the Street Vendor project in the other cities in which the Vendy Awards happen, or are there
similar organizations out there?
There are no plans, at this time, but perhaps eventually! For now the goal is for these events to act as a fundraiser for local organizations in each city that have similar values to us.

Has there been a large growth in interest in the Vendy’s over the years?
Absolutely! Our audiences have grown and we are constantly getting requests to open in new cities. We have also seen a lot of our winners from prior years go on to grow – opening multiple trucks and even restaurants in some cases.

Finally, what is your favorite kind of food cart food, and what city do you think does it best?
I’d never kiss & tell! But in all honesty that is almost impossible to answer…. the quality, range, and quantity of food carts is so immense. Each chef has his or her own personal twist and each city has its own vibe and specialties. One of the best part of the Vendys is being able to try food from each truck, so that you are able to try a vendor you may not come across on your regular route, or give a shot to a type of food you wouldn’t ordinarily try. And every time I come to an event like this I am blown away by how exciting street food can be. They are all my favorites!

Be Still My Clogged Arteries!: Fat Sandwiches in New Brunswick

I have always been fascinated by ridiculous sandwiches. Even when I was a kid and would see Dagwood, in the Blondie comic strip, make those crazy sandwiches, I was fascinated. In New Brunswick, New Jersey, there lives Rutgers University. Whenever you have a college, especially one as large at Rutgers, you get food trucks. These trucks, known as “grease trucks”, are exactly what you think they are: sandwich trucks. But these sandwich trucks spawned something interesting: The Fat Sandwich.

The Fat Sandwich is a bad meal on a long roll. That’s the best way to put it. You feel like eating a cheesesteak with a side of fries? Well, why not just put the whole thing on the cheesesteak? Maybe you wanted Jalapeno Poppers as well? Put those bad boys on there too. And maybe some chicken fingers? Yup, everyone in the pool!

So when I went to visit my friend Pat, who seems to be becoming my new food-partner-in-crime at times, we put down our beers long enough to decide to order some sandwiches. He steered me towards a place called Giovanelli’s. This place has a laundry list of fat sandwiches, as does a bunch of others. He really likes this place tho, so we ordered!

Fat Phillipino

Fat Phillipino

First up is the Fat Phillipino. Not a very politically correct name, but the tastiness of the sandwich makes up for it.  I felt a little better about eating it because it has a lot of lettuce and tomato on it. Maybe it’s a mini-salad? Yeah, let’s go with that.

But this puppy is loaded to the gills. It doesn’t look so bad when you take a top down view of it. It looks almost tame, right? Like it’s a small sandwich? (This is a half by the way. Pat and I decided to switch halves in order to try 2 kinds. No wonder he is a graduate school graduate. I can’t even say that 5 times fast…)

Fat Phillipino Side View

Fat Phillipino Side View

Now let’s take a look at this thing from the side and I will go over the things that are loaded in here. Are ya ready? (And please, click on the picture to get the full effect. Yowza!) It’s got cheese steak, chicken fingers, gyro meat,  mozzarella sticks, french fries, white sauce, lettuce and tomato. The fries were a little bit limp by the time the food got to us, but I’m ok with that.

The sandwich is supposed to have white sauce on it, but it did taste a little dry. I imagine it’s because of the time of transportation and also because of the bread and the breaded ingredients within the sandwich. How did it taste overall? It was pretty darn delicious, I have to say.

Fat Giovanelli

Fat Giovanelli

The second sandwich was the the Fat Giovanelli. I actually heard my Mom yelling at me in my head for eating this thing. The things I do for journalism! This one looks really harmless from the top, doesn’t it?

That red you see is hot sauce. It’s actually not a very spicy sauce but it does give the sandwich a bit of a kick. It also made the sandwich a lot less dry then the other ones, but it could have used more moisture. But, like I said, I think transportation and bread’s moisture sucking qualities kind of did me in a little bit. Don’t despair, beer helped.

Fat Giovanelli Side

Fat Giovanelli Side

Now check out the side shot of this thing (then go take your cholesterol meds). This thing contains: cheesesteak, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, french fries, bacon, egg, hot sauce. I am a HUGE fan of eggs on cheeseburgers, so when I saw there was a sandwich with egg on it, I was all over it. This thing does not disappoint. The egg gives the whole thing some more moisture and some great texture when you are up against the cheesesteak meat and the breading of the chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks. And again, the hot sauce moistens up the fries a bit.

So, would I eat one of these monstrosities again? Sure. Do I think I can take on the challenge of eating 5 that one of the trucks does? No way. Will I be eating salads the rest of the week to make up for the damage I did? Probably. I’d like to try another kind of these at some point, so we’ll see what happens. But thanks to Pat Farley for being smart enough to not only graduate grad school but also to know where the good places to eat are!

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