If you are looking for a linear story line with laser-like focus, this is not the blog post for you.
This Blog post will be like one of those movie pitches that is a all over the place. Do you know the kind? “It’s a movie about a guy who steals cars but helps his Granny, who was formerly a Green Beret before he became a hippy, and they live in space, in the future, where they are trying to find an ancient alien treasure protected by…, etc.”
Too many premises. Here are the premises we are dealing with for this Blog Post: Food Truck Thursday, trumping our friend Dak, who usually trumps us, checking out new treats, The Summer Food Drive 2012, dieting in advance of the Summer Food Drive, breaking said diet, A short lunch window for the trucks with 2 important meetings 40 Minutes away when aforementioned trucks would be right down the street, & a new camera phone I am still getting the hang of.
It all started our innocently enough. Reading the AZ Republic’s Wednesday food section, my interest was peaked by an article AZ Diamondbacks Taste Test Local Chefs’ Hot Dogs. The winner was The 7th Inning Stretch, made with a beer hot link from Shreiner’s Fine Sausages over on 7th, served on a Naan (Indian Flat Bread / Pita) and covered with bacon, smoked gouda and BBQ sauce. Sounded interesting but not weird yet.
Finally, to lock in the baseball theme both peanuts (really peanut butter) and Crackerjack were included as an homage to the “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” song. Sounded pretty terrible, and terribly interesting, especially if a panel of ball players and foodies awarded it first prize in a head-to-head taste challenge.
Now add in the fact that The 7th Inning Stretch was created by Short Leash Hot Dogs, who are the last truck that I was dying to try at Food Truck Thursdays (always too long a line) and you have a strong curiosity building, with the fact that the 7th Inning Stretch was only going to be offered for 7 days you had a call to action.
A potential wrinkle was that The Summer Food Drive 2012, which is a roving food road trip across this great land is in the initial planning stages (separate blog post on the Summer Food Drive shortly) but the dieting has already begun. The 7th Inning Stretch seemed like the kind of food item I’d drive to see and taste. A partial solution occurred to me, drive to the Short Leash Hot Dogs location, wherever it was, consider it a practice run and forget the diet for an hour. In fact, with a sense of urgency driven by the 7 day deadline, I recalled that the next day I had two meetings far afield which would certainly necessitate driving somewhere close to where Short Leash would be set up on Thursday, right? Are you anticipating me?
Checking the Short Leash Website I learned that they would not be out in the central metropolitan area, allowing me to play a mental subterfuge with the diet, but just down the road. They would be set up with their fabulously interesting hot dogs only a mile or two away from the Smart Kitchen chomping grounds at a time when I wouldn’t be. What to do?
Dump the mental subterfuge (and dieting for one hour) and try of course! I made sure I was early for the meetings and got done right at 12.30 PM. 49 miles away but 60 minutes from closing time. It could be done. I pointed the Smart Kitchen Mobile North and drove…responsibly. Would any 7th Inning Stretches be left?
The upside of arriving somewhat late to Food Truck Thursday was that the line in the 95 degree heat for Short Leash was only 8 -10 people deep.
The upside of showing initiative and trying to make it was that in addition to Short Leash, a new truck was making its debut: The Maine Lobster Lady.
With the heat and the thoughts of the Summer Food Drive, it was starting to feel like summer when some pretty amazing seafood is available. Some of the best, in my humble opinion, is a Lobster Roll on that peculiar New England bun, half white bread / half roll.
When I saw the Maine Lobster Lady’s “Lobster Shack on Wheels” with its New Englandy decor, it felt like I heard triumphal trumpets blaring in the distance and the sound of breakers on the rocky Maine shore. That paint job is something. Before I knew it, I was murdering the diet and ordering a $17 Lobster Roll, Connecticut Style. The price was steep, and I am not a spender, but the paint job, the serendipity of a pleasant surprise and the chance to try a new type of Lobster Roll, got me. As I waited, I recalled that our friend Dak had complained that he was not able to wait in line for the reportedly amazing Lobster Rolls at the Food Truck event at the Salt River Fields. Right then, $5 came off the price in my head and became instead a $5 debit in the left column of the Trumping Dak account. I had phoned him on the way over but he had some food prep to do instead. He missed out. Thinking of my $12 Maine Lobster Roll in the desert made me pretty happy.
The Maine Lobster Lady uses white claw meat, and leg meat, imported from Maine where her husband is a genuine Lobsterman. Some of his catch is likely in her product (he sells his load to the processor she uses for her lobster) which is succulent, sweet and fresh tasting. I asked about the distribution, guessing at air freight, but only learned it wasn’t shipped by air. After a single bite, I knew the distribution was good as was the preparation. The photo though left something to be desired. I wish I could blame the new camera phone, but I can’t. It took a nice picture of the lemon wedge I put right in front of it. Silly P Chef!
By the time that the Lobster Roll was gone, the line had shortened at Short Leash. Luckily, the diet had included skipping breakfast so I was not unduly penalized, in terms of appetite, for my impulsive visit to Maine. I waited a few minutes to order and had a chance to appreciate Short Leash’s branding and creativity.
All their items are named after known dogs belonging to customers or friends. Below the Talula Dog.
And the good branding energy comes from someplace, namely Brad & Kat Moore. By the way, Kat is aware of the irony of her name when considered in light of her profession as a Hot Dog vendor.
This post is getting a bit long in the tooth so we will just get to the good stuff. The 7th Inning Stretch Burlesque. The Plating & Presentation are very good and not your traditional hot dog experience.
The Recipe for the 7th Inning Stretch is on AZ Central’s website. I believe that the hot dog is actually steamed before being Grilled. I also heard from the horse’s mouth…the dogs mouth that the 7th Inning Stretch will not be terminated at the end of the week. Brad & Kat are going to keep it going all summer. It must be popular. If you have a chance stop in see Short Leash, the menu is constantly changing because Brad & Kat Moore do all of their prep in the wagon with what is best & available.
They also have some other surprises up their sleeves. Kat’s Jalapeno & Cheddar Corndog (actually a half-dog) is one. She experimented with Corn Meal batter until she got it just right.
The crunchy but chewy texture was terrific. After the diet, I will have to get out the batter and fryer and experiment some myself.
So how does this practice run end, with some Smart Kitchen work and then a 3 mile run for real and not practice.
“The Smartest Way to Learn to Cook™”