David L. Garcia & Nichole Rosanova
Off The Grid at Fort Mason is the city’s sign that Spring has begun. Beginning every March, the lot in front of the Fort Mason Center becomes a gastronomic wonderland, a swarm of food trucks, vendors, and foodies every Friday evening. This past week, we visited the scene with empty stomachs and open minds. Here’s what Off The Grid had to offer.
Bacon Bacon Truck
Excess is kind of the point at this truck. I mean, look at its name; its not The Bacon Truck, its the Bacon Bacon Truck, and pretty much everything comes topped with something porcine. That said, their pork belly sandwich, simply titled “The Belly”, is a really well-crafted, nuanced sandwich. The richness of the pork belly and fried egg is nicely quelled by a puckery caper aioli and some peppery arugula leaves. You’ll be able to eat the thing without pork fat dripping onto your shirt. Don’t worry though. If you are looking to cut loose at this truck, they’ll sell you a Bouquet, a half-dozen strips of thick-cut, still-sizzling bacon wrapped in wax paper, without batting an eye.
Jeepney Guy, a Filipino food stand, lures in customers with an immense rotisserie full of slowly-spinning, self-basting lechon, and it’s no gimmick. This stuff is crazy good, and if you manage to place your order just as the guy behind the counter is pulling one of the pork roasts off the rack, don’t bother trying to find your friends before tasting a forkful. Served on a bed of garlic-spiked jasmine rice, topped with a few shards of crispy pig skin and garnished with some tart green papaya pickles, the tender pork manages to be both robust and delicate, bursting with notes of citrus and garlic. Be sure to top the rice bowl with a splash of the house soy vinegar, which comes in a squeeze bottle jammed full of onion chunks and chile slices.
3-Sum Eats, an American food truck that offers unique ingredient combinations, serves up a constantly changing menu of three sandwiches, three appetizers, and three desserts, and there is always at least one fried item on the menu. This week their fried item of choice was their recurring Mac N’ Cheese Spring Roll appetizer. Al dente elbow noodles covered in a light cheddar cheese sauce are nestled inside tightly wrapped wonton skins which are deep fried to golden perfection. Their appetizer appeals to not just one of your senses, as you’re sure to hear an audible crunch once you bite into this bad boy. And if it’s not rich enough as is, it also comes with a creamy dipping sauce of cholula fondue.
Curry Up Now
This truck isn’t serving up your typical Indian food, but rather they’ve succeeded in putting a modern twist on all of our favorite classic Indian dishes, which can be seen through their deconstructed samosas, “sexy fries,” and burritos, which all come with a “Hella Vegan” option. Their Hella Vegan Burrito is packed with their flavorful samosas, chutney, and pico de gallo all wrapped up in a chewy whole wheat tortilla (which can also be substituted for a gluten free la palma flour tortilla). The impressive crispiness of the samosa added a much needed texture contrast to the smoothness of the chana masala, and the chutney–which offered a sweet cooling agent to the spiciness of the masala.
Famous for their innovative savory grilled cheese sandwiches, Drewski’s also provides their patrons with a dessert option they’ve entitled “S’moreski,” composed of whipped marshmallow, nutella, and graham crackers to counteract the richness. This sandwich will certainly satisfy your sweet tooth, but it definitely doesn’t have the same star power as it’s savory counterparts. The sweet french bread has a nice crust, which is what you look for with a good grilled cheese, but it tasted like it had been toasted over a grill that had been greased with artificial butter, like margarine or Pam. This wouldn’t have been as noticeable for a savory sandwich, but with the sweet ingredients of the “S’moreski,” it left a disatisfying after-taste.
The line at Johnny Doughnuts gets intimidatingly large, but it moves pretty quickly, and afterwards, you’ll be able to bite into one of the best doughnuts in SF; huge billows of fried dough that come tricked out with a variety of interesting toppings. The Chocolate Salted Caramel Old-Fashioned is a stout, crumbly cake doughnut that comes crowned with a layer of caramel hidden under its chocolate icing. The Strawberry Raised was also a standout, a chewy yeast doughnut the size of a truck tire that manages to pack the flavor of a whole basket of June strawberries into its ring of neon-pink glaze.
Photo courtesy of Nichole Rosanova/Foghorn