Fork in the Road

To say that I was drowning in sweet anticipation for Chico’s very first food truck rally, Fork In The Road, would be a vast understatement. I have been happily watching the burgeoning food truck scene in Chico expand by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years; hungrily, greedily trying as many of the new food trucks as I could. It has been so satisfying to see such a variety of food options (Paleo, gourmet cupcakes, Filipino, Jamaican) hit the streets of our small town, since we have all been jealously listening to our friends who live in bigger cities shout praises for all their amazing food trucks.

Well, Chico just stepped up its game, y’all.

The first thing that I noticed when I arrived at the event was that it had only been going for 30 minutes and there was already a sizable turnout. People strolled around everywhere, braving the brutal sun and checking out what food was on offer and making their decisions about where to start—a difficult thing to do! The rally was held at Manzanita Place (Elks Lodge) and so there was a shady, grassy area behind the food trucks, a playground for the kiddos and even a shaded area with picnic tables. With more than a dozen vendors set up and ready to feed the hungry masses, it was tricky to pick which I wanted to hit up first, but I went with one of my favorites: Inday’s Filipino Food. I am Filipino, too, so her food always calls to me, and tonight I went with my standard: lumpia. Lumpia is a Filipino-style egg roll filled with ground meat and vegetables and deep-fried to crispy, crunchy perfection.

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After cruising up and down the aisle trying to choose my next stop, I decided to give Pop’s Pizza a try. I have heard good things about this wood-fired pizza truck and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into that slightly charred crust. My pizza did not disappoint. I ordered the “pizzalad”: garlic, bacon, little bits of broccoli, topped with fresh, peppery arugula lightly dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and shaved parmesan. The crust of the pizza was crisp on the bottom, and then soft where the crust forms a gentle mound at the top of the slice. Pop’s was definitely a hot spot, with an hour-long (sometimes longer) wait for your pie to be ready, but I think it was worth the wait.

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The final stop for us was Ike’s Smokehouse, which is a food truck spin-off of CJ’s Last Diner. Another long and slow line, but the aromas drifting from that truck straight to my nose were enough to make me put on my patient pants and wait it out. We eagerly ordered the smoked pulled-pork sandwich on a bun, topped with slaw, bbq sauce and onion crisps. Unfortunately, by the time we got our food they had run out of buns, wraps, and onion crisps, so instead we received pulled pork on a small scoop of coleslaw in a bowl. The vendor was extremely apologetic and friendly, and that truly goes a long way in my book. The smoky, tender pork was so flavorful and juicy and the slaw was crisp and lightly dressed with a light and tangy apple cider dressing, so honestly, we didn’t even mind that it wasn’t the sandwich that we had our sights set upon. But I’m hunting that truck down soon so that I can try those onion crisps.

Overall, we had a great time at this food truck rally’s maiden voyage. We arrived expecting long lines and wait times, so we weren’t too surprised by the amount of time it took to get our food.  Yes, hopefully the next time they have that shindig, the lines will move a little faster and the food may come a little sooner, but there was an excitement that lingered in the air over the crowds, the long lines and even the heat, that made this a truly memorable community event. I loved seeing friends, neighbors and even my favorite checkers from S & S Produce enjoying the food in the shady grass while their children giggled on the swings. And that is what it all came down to for me—the amazing food and the pleasurable social experience of it all. My appetite and I eagerly await Fork In The Road #2!

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Jackie is a sometimes food-blogger that is trying to balance the world of mama-hood and her love of food by getting in the kitchen and whipping up edible bits for herself, her husband and her 1 year old and by writing here in this space. She likes to keep it local as much as she can, and you will probably see her cruising the Saturday farmer's market, coffee in hand (always), and chowing down at local restaurants. She braises, she roasts, she can do a mean chiffonade and she firmly believes that bacon and butter make everything better.