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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Food truck smorgasbord worth crowds, withering heat

Two days prior to the dietary calamity that was going to be the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally, my doctor suggested I reduce my carb intake. Argh!

To lower my cholesterol, I’m to avoid “white” foods such as potatoes, pasta, sugar, white breads and white rice. And, I have three months to do so. Double argh.

But I just couldn’t resist the idea of checking out what 99 restaurants-on-wheels would be serving on their diverse menus of American, Mexican, Italian, French, Asian and even Portuguese-inspired food.

Bigger than a bread box but smaller than a restaurant, these food trucks sported unusual names like Rollin’ Zoinks, Hott Mess, Holy Crepe, Thai One On and Gone Bananas.

The event was too good to be true.

So off I went.

Once inside the Florida State Fairgrounds I mapped out my strategy.

In food-focused fashion, I researched all of my eating options — from sweet and savory crepes and cupcakes to gourmet grilled cheese and mouth-watering barbecue.

With so many tempting foods I wanted to try everything.

My no-guilt-trip plan was to find a healthy entree and allow myself an indulgence for dessert. I’d also turn a blind eye to soda, beer and sugar-soaked lemonades in favor of nature’s way to cool down: water.

By the time I circled the grounds several times I was famished. I opted for the mango-painted fish tacos from the Bem Bom food truck. The line was depressingly long but I took this as a good sign. It offered Portuguese cuisine.

I waited in line for 30 minutes to order, and then another 15 to pick up my lunch.

I wasn’t happy. It was hot and I was hungry. “This better be good,” I thought.

It was well worth the wait.

The fish tacos — dredged in Bem Bom blackening, sauteed and served with slaw, shredded radish, avocado and a mango-paint vinaigrette — were visually striking and equally flavorful. They had quite a kick.

Putting aside the heat and the day’s phenomenal crush of hungry diners, I couldn’t help but appreciate the festive scene, packed with twenty-somethings and entire families. While standing in line I met a couple who had driven down from Ocala.

Taco-fortified, I pressed onward for dessert and didn’t have to go far. Next door to Bem Bom was Maggie on the Move.

Don’t tell your cardiologist about this one. (And don’t tell my doctor, either.) I trained my sights on what I thought hit the highest marks on the delish-o-meter, bacon baklava. Who says bacon can’t be dessert? It was incredible.

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist and blogger. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel or look for her blog at www.lynnkessel.blogspot.com.


1 16-oz. package walnuts

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 16-oz. package frozen phyllo, thawed

1 cup butter, melted

1 12-oz. jar honey

1 16-oz. package bacon, fried crisp

In a large food processor bowl, add walnuts, bacon, sugar and cinnamon. Pulse until walnuts and bacon are chopped; set aside. Be sure to fry the bacon to a crispy stage so it will chop up finely and evenly.

Cut phyllo into 13-by-9-inch rectangles. In greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish, place 1 phyllo sheet. Brush with melted butter. Repeat with phyllo and butter to make 5 more layers, overlapping any small strips of phyllo to make rectangles, as necessary.

Sprinkle 1 cup walnut mixture over phyllo in baking dish.

Repeat phyllo and butter 3 more layers then a layer of walnuts. Place remaining phyllo on top of last walnut layer; brush with butter.

With sharp knife, cut just halfway through layers in triangle or diamond pattern.

Bake in a 300-degree oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

In small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the honey until it’s hot but not boiling. Evenly spoon the hot honey over the hot baklava.

Cool baklava in a dish on a wire rack at least 1 hour. Cover with foil and let stand at room temperature until ready to serve, then finish cutting with a sharp knife through layers to make triangles or diamonds.

Source: Adapted from www.foodista.com

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