Tuesday is Farmer’s Market Day here in Valpo, and for once my schedule and the weather were in synergy and I could do something I’ve been wanting to do since I bought my latest camera back in April. Mischief (the Fuji X-T10/35mm f/1.4 combo) went to market. Normally you would expect pictures of flowers and vegetables and architecture and other people’s dogs, and there are a few of those waiting for tomorrow’s post. But today, let’s talk about food. Specifically a new food truck. Because if you can resist this menu you are way tougher than I am.
I’ve never met up with Lulu’s Licks before, but when I came around the corner and saw “Mearl” here, a 1960 Chevy van, I had a feeling I was in for a treat. Generally speaking a truck in an interesting vehicle offers interesting food. (The opposite is not always true.)
Noon was approaching and the truck was already drawing a nice crowd. As you see from the menu at the top of the post, prices are set to attractive, which encourages people to visit in the first place and to sample several dishes once they get there. I did just that, choosing a pork belly taco and a crab Rangoon empanada. (Yes, substantial lunch dishes rather than bubble tea. I am one of those people who think bubble tea is rather silly, although a lot of people were ordering it and drinking it with enthusiasm.)
Keen eyed observers will notice that these are not Real Camera pictures. These are phone camera pictures. I have apparently not yet mastered the art of managing depth of field while photographing food outdoors with a large sensor camera. The phone camera, of course, is the perfect tool for taking pictures of your food. And you also will notice that there are bites out of each of the dishes– when photographers bite the food before they remember to shoot it, that’s a pretty good sign.
That’s the crab Rangoon empanada in the back. It’s exactly what you would expect a very good crab Rangoon empanada to be like– a light, crispy empanada, perfectly cooked and rich without being greasy, wrapped around properly seasoned crab Rangoon filling, hot enough to flow properly without being too hot to eat, and balanced perfectly with the crust, which unlike the wonton wrappers around many Chinese restaurant crab Rangoons, is strong enough to hold it without squirting. It’s great. I’d eat it again. If I’d hadn’t had that pork belly taco, I would have more good things to say about it.
But the pork belly taco blew it away. In fact, the pork belly taco pretty much blew away everything new I’ve eaten over the last few months. (OK, the new cinnamon swirl French toast at the Corner Cafe in Griffith is also extremely good, but it’s hard to compare a sweet with a savory. This is the best savory dish I’ve had in a very long time.)
The taco is deceptively simple, which is one of the reasons why it works. Just four ingredients inside a simple grilled corn tortilla: crispy pork belly taco meat, conventionally seasoned, strips of deep fried sweet potato, onion salsa that was primarily the most delicious red onions, and a smooth and herby something or other the woman in the truck told me was “cilantro and jalapeno sauce” –mayo based, balanced and full of flavor, not hot at all. (Hot green salsa is offered for those who like it.) It’s fresh, it’s creative, but mostly it is a very, very tasty thing. I think my Tuesday plans for next week, and probably several other Tuesdays until October, involve a pork belly taco from Lulu’s Licks. And maybe some of that Mexican street corn.
Lulu’s Licks. Food Truck Rating: four wheels. One awesome dish and one very good dish confirmed, other interesting things to try, modest prices. Water for dogs and a tip jar for charity. Watch out for the green Chevy.
(Hey. I guess “food truck reviews” are a thing here now. Watch for more.)