–By Staci Wolfson
An afternoon of pounding rain and ominous clouds couldn’t keep me away from the Gathering, Baltimore’s first food truck rally in Harbor East.
And I’m pleased to report it wasn’t able to keep hundreds of likeminded foodies away either.
After battling over licensing issues, Baltimore’s food trucks came together to form the Baltimore Food Truck Association. The group had planned a rally for the fall, but decided to move it up to July. With Friday night’s success, a monthly Gathering seems likely.
Nine trucks participated – Silver Platter, Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon, Creperie Breizh, Miss Shirley’s, Iced Gems, Souper Freak, GrrChe, Dangerously Delicious Pies, and my personal favorite, Gypsy Queen.
Held in a small lot off Central Avenue that is usually the home of the Silver Platter truck, the Gathering had the feel of an old-fashioned block party with live music and a visit from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Lines snaked through each other and around corners as items quickly began to sell out, disappearing from the dry-erase boards mounted on each truck.
My friends and I arrived about an hour and a half in, and quickly strategized. We deemed it best to divide and conquer and then share our finds.
I waited about 45 minutes in line at the Gypsy Queen truck, owned and operated by the former owners and chef of Helen’s Garden, my favorite Canton restaurant that closed its doors about a year ago.
When I made it to the front of the line, I realized my task wouldn’t be an easy one. The wide-ranging options sounded as delicious as my old Helen’s favorites, and I knew that we wouldn’t be eating typical street fare.
I ordered some refreshing peach sangria, a crab cone and a key lime tart. The crab cone was an ingenious invention with piping hot French fries stuffed into a waffle cone, topped with a crab cake, and topped off with a delectable sauce and Old Bay seasoning. As you can imagine, I had trouble waiting for my friends to return from their respective lines and share with me.
Gypsy Queen was clearly in good company.
A bison burger from Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon, an offshoot of the Fells Point restaurant Kooper’s Tavern, was perfectly cooked and nearly addictive. When a stranger told us he couldn’t finish his meal and offered us his fried green tomatoes from Miss Shirley’s, we happily forgot any childhood warnings and accepted. We were not disappointed by the tangy southern delicacy.
Although Iced Gems sold out of their cupcakes before we had a chance to hit the truck, the key lime tart from Gypsy Queen and a slice of rich and dense chocolate peanut butter pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies, based in Federal Hill, satisfied this sweet tooth’s desire for dessert. And not to be outdone, GrrChe provided an amazing sweet and savory dessert grilled cheese made with brie, chocolate and caramel chunks.
If you’re looking for me any time soon, you can find me trolling Twitter and Facebook, looking for signs of next month’s Gathering.