Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fatter & now wetter in the rain, but still Happy

Another (sorta) marathon day, or at least it feels like it.  So far, I have only tackled two trucks, although Stella's PopKern is still on my radar for a bit later for what has become my regular Wednesday large basil & Thai ginger popcorn.  (It will last through Friday...)  For a couple of reasons, I made the extended hike back over to Franklin Square today for the (expected) new menu's from Chef Driven and Cirque Cuisine.  I've said it twice already, and now with multiple visits to both, I continued to be delighted with the lively and frequently changing offerings from Chefs Jerry and Jessica.

First stop was to Chef Driven for steak frites and a side of Panang curry stew.  For $13, I received a huge portion of juicy, cooked-to-order skirt steak, offered with a choice of chimichurri or au poivre sauces, a generous serving of fresh cut truffle fries, plus a micro-green and bibb lettuce salad.  My steak was perfectly cooked medium-rare and paired perfectly with the garlic in the sauce and the earthiness of the potatoes.  Luckily, Jerry picked up on my cues from last week and now has knives and uses containers with lids ... particularly welcome today in the spit of the rain. 
The stew ($6) was more st-oup-y than stew-y for me, with a thin (soup-like), slightly tart coconut broth, made in to stew with jasmine rice, bamboo shoots, roasted grape tomatoes, and baby corn.  It was topped with the "signature tendrils" of carrots and beets, plus fresh tender stalks of green onion.  Personally, I wouldn't be scared off by a little more "Panang heat," but the comfort-factor was well suited for the chill and dampness in the air today.  Three visits in just over a week, and haven't had the same thing twice, so with food this good, it's tough to go wrong with Chef Driven; go order anything.

My other new favorite truck also happened to be visiting Franklin today with their latest menu of open-faced sandwiches, a tart, and 3 salads. 
Wanting to try something else new from them too, I landed on the croque monsieur highlighted by prosciutto in lieu of ham.  When I asked for more protein than just the finely sliced goodness of Italian meat, Chef Jessica offered a side of the quinoa salad.  Love that idea!

While a traditional croque monsieur is a basically hot ham and cheese, the change in pork and general configuration, as well as the additions of apples, creamy onions and greens, kicked this crunchy stack of deliciousness to another category.  If it was the only thing I ate for lunch (which it clearly isn't) I might still be hungry as it was pretty light, but I wouldn't be disappointed.  So what would I recommend as an accompaniment?  It did come with (obviously house-made) radish chips, but I liked Jessica's suggestion better: the hearty yet still delicate quinoa salad.  It had nice bright flavor complemented by the coconut-lime dressing, mustard seeds, pine nuts, and green onions.  It wasn't quite Tapas Truck quinoa salad, but this one is a very close second and is probably healthier for me.  She even put a pretty little edible flower in the box, but somehow I was having brain-farts when I took the photo because that's the only corner that's cut off.
To round out my tasting at Cirque Cuisine, I tried the latest flavor of aqua fresca, and this one was right up my alley.  Pineapple, lime, and mint.  "Fresca!"  I might have to order a gallon for my next party to pair with some rum.

In a separate note, I hit DC Slices again yesterday and grabbed a slice of pizza.  I am very happy to say it seems to me the crust is thinner and therefore somewhat crispier than the last several times I had it.  Granted, it has been a while, but part of the reason the pizza was lower on my radar is because I remembered it being thicker, and thus heavier.  I enjoyed yesterday far more than other visits, and will be back again soon.