Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.
The Truck: The Whole Beast
The Cuisine: Whole animal cuisine
Specialty Items: Sandwiches, smoked meats and veggies
Worth the Wait in Line? At peak dinner time, a total 13 minutes from the end of the line to food in hand.
The way we eat is largely defined by our culture and upbringing, but globally there is one thing we can all agree on: The smell of food cooked over a wood fire or smoke will trigger a reaction from the primitive and logical parts of our brain that politely says, "Fuck yes!"
Watching John Fink and his team at The Whole Beast pull a large, dark, bronzed stump of porchetta out of the large Southern Pride smoker oven at last week's Fort Mason edition of Off the Grid, the smell had my brain in overdrive like broker on the stock exchange shouting, "Buy! Buy! Buy!" at the pork belly market.
The menu was short and sweet with a porchetta sandwich, smoked potatoes, and Cuban Porchetta Nachos ($7, Cuban style chopped porchetta, tortilla chips, housemade white cheese sauce, Rancho Gordo black beans, crema, green onions) that was on everybody's buy list. With good reason too. The meat was rough chopped into small pieces, dressed with a citrus and herb sauce that foiled the fattiness and brightened the meat with a flash of lime.
Tender and lightly smoky, with skin that was more on the chewy than crispy side, the juicy pork highlighted what regular nachos have been lacking all along. The chips were large and thick enough to provide a sound structural platform for the toppings, yet had plenty of sweet corn masa flavor. The beans were tender and the cheese sauce was creamy, but it also served the crucial function of fastening the toppings to the chips.
The Whole Beast is one of this season's newest vendors, and a worthy addition that has been making the mobile vending rounds now with some serious productions like last year's Outside Lambs area with their fantastic rendition of poutine with lamb gravy and sheep's cheese curds.
From chatting with the staff, we learned that the porchetta was such a huge hit Friday night that it's very likely to make a return on future Fort Mason nights. If you're a planner, keep an eye out for the Off The Grid newletter (sign up here) or if you're not, just go and follow your nose and listen to your brain. For once, it's not trying to get you into trouble, just into delicious.