Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Grilled Cheese Truck: Appallingly delightful

I was predisposed to hate the Grilled Cheese Truck from its inception.

To be fair, I am predisposed against most of the trucks on LA’s mobile dining circuit because (in most cases) I don’t believe the quality of food makes up for the precarious nature of eating or acquiring it, but, even so, the Grilled Cheese Truck seemed particularly irksome to me.

While I have been known to indulge in Campanile’s Grilled Cheese Night, in general I find it appalling when people order the simple sandwich out at a restaurant.

Grilled cheese is a last resort dinner when the fridge is bare (everybody has bread, butter and cheese), and it’s one of the first things that young kids learn to make when their parents deem them capable of operating a stove. I even featured the humble fried sandwich on the menu of “Diana’s Cafe” when I was a precocious tike with culinary ambitions. (Other menu items included “Terrific Tuna” and “Perfect Pancakes” made with Bisquick.)

I thought it was completely absurd that people were willing to wait in hour-long lines to pay for a grilled cheese sandwich, and I half considered opening up my own operation from my apartment just to prove a point.

Until I realized that I would never be able to get the buttery smell out of my linens, and I don’t like touching other people’s dirty money.

So, when I heard that the Grilled Cheese Truck would be handing out samples at the EAT: LA 2010 Book Signing event that I was planning to attend with Cathy of Gastronomy Blog at Vroman's in Pasadena, I wasn’t excited. In fact, I think my exact words were, “I think I'll save my appetite.”

And I fully intended to do just that.

I didn’t count on it taking me ninety minutes to get from Santa Monica to Pasadena. I didn’t count on going to the wrong Vroman’s bookstore and then having to backtrack to get to the actual location of the book signing. And I didn’t count on staying at the bookstore until almost 9:00 pm because (some) archaic Pasadenians don’t know how to figure out where food trucks will be at any given time. (Apparently they’ve never heard of Twitter.)

Driven by extreme hunger and frustration at the world and everyone in it, I greedily snatched up a sample of the truck’s famed cheesy mac and rib sandwich that comes with macaroni and cheese, sharp cheddar, BBQ pork, and caramelized onions ($7.50).

At first glance, the sandwich is everything that I hate wrapped into one decidedly un-neat package.

It’s messy.

It’s buttery.

It’s completely, gratuitously over-the-top.

But, in that moment, it was also completely, gratuitously delightful.

While I’m not sure that I would ever wait in an hour-long line for the indulgent sandwich, the combination of the tender smoky meat, sweet onions, buttery white bread, and traditional blue box-style mac and cheese, was exactly what I needed last night -- comfort delivered directly into my hands. And, moments later, into my very grateful, no-longer griping mouth.

The Grilled Cheese Truck


Esi said...

It's 50 kinds of awesome and I am not embarrassed to admit, the first time I had it, I ordered a side of mac and cheese too.

Bianca said...

Isn't it delightful? The trucks don't stop by my area a lot so I plan to chase them down... glad I got to try the grilled cheese truck already. I know what you mean bout the food trucks. I'm going to try the ones that are easy to eat (sandwiches, desserts) vs things that require you to cut, cuz that can just be all sorts of messy....especially when you don't have a table.

Jenn said...

It's awesomeness on the go. Before I started reading I saw that pic and my imediate reaction was "Mac and Cheese?!?!"

I hope that truck comes back to the Glendale/Pasadena area. I want that sandwich now.

Gastronomer said...

We've got a convert!

You're always so open minded. That's what I like about you ;-)

Diana said...

Esi - Haha LOVE it! I think I want to try to recreate this in the kitchen... stay tuned...

Bianca - So delightful! I'm still not a big fan of the food trucks, but if I was happenning by the GCT and there happenned to be a short line, I might happen to get another sandwich... ;)

Jenn - It's pretty incredible. You must try it for yourself to believe it!

Cathy - Sigh. I blame you for all of it. The pig ears, the snails, the grilled cheese... if you even try to get tripe near me, I may scream!

Active Foodie said...

Holy heartattack! That looks amazing! I mean, pork, mac and cheese and grilled cheese all in one! My mind can barely process it all!!

stuffycheaks said...

OMG looks delicious. If it tastes more like Kraft's vs a gormet mac and cheese, I could be down for it!

Cafe Pasadena said...

D, your pics came out better than mine! And, I agree you didn't appear excited about it.

CD, it was good but this K9 is still not convinced to make it a staple of my diet. But, even I couldn't turn down Free Food!

Anna A. said...

Awwww poor TALF I could see this all happening to you. Thank god for over the top grilled cheeses. PS. Showing my commitment and loyalty to you with a comment from my travels in exotic Cupertino, CA.

weezermonkey said...

Appallingly delightful sounds perfect.

Ashley said...

Now that you've combined beef and cheese, it looks like you'll never again be able to separate the two!

(You should know that I am currently consuming Nook mac 'n cheese. Delish, but I still think Tavern reigns supreme!)

Kung Food Panda said...

I went, the line was over 1 hour long, so I left.

The sandwich looked good, but I don't think ANY grilled cheese sandwich is worth a long way. As you said, we can all make it at home :)

Sippity Sup said...

The truck phenomenon is amazing! I have certainly had my share of meals from one, but this was is new to me! GREG

catty said...

Wow that looks deliciously messy! Something I (total self confessed grub) would LOVE!

The Duo Dishes said...

We've both gone on separate occasions, and the truck is worth the hype. The food is goooood.