Food Truck Bliss

Today's divine duo - BLT and Grilled Cheese

Today’s divine duo – BLT and Grilled Cheese

I’ll admit that I got into the Chicago food truck craze on the late side. Living in the suburbs (for only a few more days!) has not made it easy to enjoy some of Chicago’s finest food on wheels. So you can imagine my surprise this spring when I pulled into my condo’s driveway and saw a food truck in the parking lot on the other side of the street. It was part of the antique mall’s spring sidewalk sale or something, and I was curious to find out more. Naturally, I googled the strange name of the truck – The Fat Shallot – because I had no clue from appearances or their name what type of fare they offered.

I was amazed when I read that this truck – parked 100 feet from my front door – was on Thrillist’s 2014 Top 21 Food Trucks in America list! (Check out their picks by clicking here.) I parked my car and walked across the street. I had just come back from lunch so I wasn’t going to buy anything, but their array of hot sandwiches (grilled cheese, BLT) and selection of fries (including truffle fries) made me salivate. First thought – I have to get them to come to my office for lunch. I talked to one of the owners, a lovely woman named Sarah, and explained that our company provides lunch for us every day, that I coordinate these efforts, and could they come out to us? It took some phone calls and emails, but we got it worked out in just a few days’ time. We settled on a date about a month away.

I couldn’t wait for the magical day to arrive. Sure, it was just going to be a hot sandwich. But as someone who tries to eat healthy and avoids bread quite often, this was going to be a special treat for me. Plus, if their reputation was to be believed, this wasn’t just any hot sandwich. These bad boys were top-notch. As well, there was just something about the food world’s hottest trend, the food truck, pulling up to our office at lunch time and lining up to order our own meals.

Sarah sent me the menu on the Friday before our Monday lunch, and I immediately seized on the BLT – bacon, arugula, tomato and avocado, with truffle aioli on challah. Super yum! I thought about it all weekend. But after a weekend at a food truck festival, Sarah texted me on Monday morning to say that they were out of both bacon and avocado. What? No bacon? I was bummed. The office was bummed.

My first ever Fat Shallot meal - grilled cheese and truffle fries

My first ever Fat Shallot meal – grilled cheese and truffle fries

Then they arrived. And all was forgotten and forgiven. I went for the ultimate indulgence – grilled cheese, with caramelized onions and spinach on sourdough bread. It was divine. The muenster cheese was gooey and salty and everything grilled cheese should be. Paired with a hefty order of truffle fries (another special indulgence), this lunch took me to the stratosphere. Now, I have always been a fast eater. My mom had chided me, time and again, that I would make myself sick eating my food so fast. I believe she considered what I do to be “inhaling” more than eating. However, recently, I’d managed to pace myself better, enjoy my meals more and SLOW DOWN.

With this incredible food sitting in front of me, all that went out the window. I ate it fast. I ate it all. I was beyond full. And I was beyond satisfied. I loved it so much that I followed them on Twitter (www.twitter.com/thefatshallot) and Instagram (@thefatshallot) right away, and pined for every photo they posted. Did I ever track them down and get another sandwich or two? No. Why? Because it was special. They came to me. And I wanted their next visit to our office to feel just as special, rare, celebration-worthy.

Today was the much-anticipated return of The Fat Shallot. Were they out of bacon? No sir. Were they out of avocado? No sir. Did I skip the fries and order two sandwiches instead? Yes sir. The impossibly tall and unbelievably bacon-stuffed BLT, and another round of the grilled cheese. I had, however, learned my lesson from power-eating the last time. I cut them each in half, plating one portion of each for lunch, and saving the other halves for dinner.

I ate slowly. I savored. I enjoyed. I was able to walk afterward. And life was good.

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The Journey Begins

I am consumed by food. I think about my next meal, or the one after that. I plan the restaurant reservations days or weeks or months in advance. I keep lists of places to go, recipes to try, and cities to eat in.

Whether for anyone else’s enjoyment or just my own, I felt it was time to put my thoughts, experiences and meals down on (virtual) paper. If you love food as much as I do…or even if you don’t…I hope you’ll enjoy this journey.

There are a variety of surprises on the way, so documenting the next year should be quite an experience.