My oldest brother Greg was set to turn 40 years old, which blows my mind. Greg cannot be described in a simple blog post. He’s the kind of guy you’d need a novel to explain. Maybe one day I will write that novel with his permission. In any event, his girlfriend Kim had an ingenious and sneaky plan to celebrate Greg’s big four-oh in true Gregger fashion. We’d fly out to New York by cover of night and take Greg to a culinary event designed for him: The Vendys.
What are the Vendys? Think of dozens of Kogi trucks serving every kind of food imaginable pit against each other in fierce competition for the title of best New York City street vendor. While I will defend Los Angeles to the death, while I would argue til my face turns blue that this city on the West Coast is the beacon of hope in the universe, I must be honest: New York wrote the book of street vendors. They wrote the book and sold us the movie rights. Put it this way. You don’t need Twitter to find the quality food vendors in New York. You just need eyes.
The Vendys took place in Queens at the Queens Museum of Art. This put me in a really big park by the Unisphere, the ruins of the former World’s Fair and in the shadows of Arthur Ashe Stadium. You may remember the Unisphere and the World’s Fair towers from their performance in Men in Black. I looked everywhere though and couldn’t find Tommy Lee Jones. Bullshit.
I will say this, I liked last year’s logo better. It’s a taco fighting a hot dog in the lucha libre style. I mean, you can’t really beat that can you?
Anyway, the Vendys where in an enclosed area roped off with police tape which was appropriate, because shit was about to go down. Upon first entering, you see basically a long rectangular track with every ten feet or so, another “taco truck” type vendor. I knew this would be tough. We had gone out in Little Italy the night before and then to Brasserie for lunch so basically my tank was about full.
Almost every kind of food was represented. Literally. Sometimes these foods crossed over and blended into each other. There were lines everywhere. I had no idea where to begin, so I just went right for the Shwarma King, because you don’t make a claim like that if you aren’t intending to back it up. He did. This was some pretty good falafel. I am certain it took a few years off my life, which is exactly what I was looking for.
The longest two lines belonged to a Mexican food truck and an ice cream truck. The Mexican food was called the Country Boys. The line was an hour long. This comes from the fact that New Yorkers are always in search of a reasonable taco. Honestly, as an Angelino, this made me proud. New York certainly has a lot of culinary elements on Los Angeles, but here were hundreds of New Yorkers waiting in line in the slim hopes of finding something Angelinos have trouble NOT finding: a good taco.
My girlfriend and I decided we had to stand in this line. We’d heard this was the new hotness of East Coast tacos and despite not being culinary geniuses, we know a good taco when we see one. We met some nice dudes in line and chatted them up. One of them took down the name of the blog. Maybe he is reading this. If so, what’s up man? Remember that time we waited an hour for a taco? Me too.
When I got the taco, I immediately recognized that it was food shoved into a tortilla, so New York was off to a good start. I asked which salsa was the “hot” one and put a bunch on. I dove in face first. I’ll say this. It was good. It was a really good taco. It wasn’t a west coast taco. It was far from a San Diego taco. But it was good. If I lived back East, I’d have been all over this place. My girlfriend got a hurache. She thought it was great. I probably should have gotten one of them.
So what was the dessert truck I mentioned? Well, it was none other than the Big Gay Ice Cream truck. Unusual branding aside, these people are all about playing with sweet and savory flavors. I don’t want to get all foodie right now. Let’s just put it this way. They have toppings like wasabi peas. They have something called the Choinkwich. A chocolate ice cream sandwich with bacon in it. Not my thing. The whole “bacon porn” thing is over in my mind. I am tired of Ludo’s fois gras cupcuke and I am tired of chocolate dipped bacon. Bacon is awesome. So is chocolate. I get where we’re going, but let’s turn the car around. The real dessert star of the the Vendys was Wafels and Lieges.
You could have a soft and chewy wafel (a liege) or a crispy one (brussels). I went against all advice and got the chewy one because I go my own way. I put dulce de leche on it. Mouthgasm. This was the shit. I didn’t even take a picture because you don’t deserve to know what it looked like. It was the reason Belgium was founded. In fact, it was so good that they beat out the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and won best Dessert Truck of the 2009 Vendys. Well deserved in my mind, even though the red box talking about Brussels Style made me feel awkward. Check it out:
Just creeped me out a bit. Anyway. The day was fun. My brother totally had fun. I tried the best of what NYC has to offer and more importantly, I’ve learned some valuable insights to help Los Angeles catch up. We’re on our way. Some other highlights? The edamame dumpling at Rickshaw was ridiculous. Country Boys won the Vendy, but let’s be honest, NYC was just stoked to have some decent tacos finally. The edamame dumpling was totally killer. I wonder if anyone in LA makes it? It seems like it would be a big hit out here.