In addition to filling Carmalita Street with vendors, eight different food trucks arrived with world-class offerings
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Riverside County has long suffered a drought of food trucks. But since the county has let up on some restrictions, trucks were allowed to roll right into Hemet for the third annual Hemet Food Truck Festival!
The event started at 2 p.m., with afternoon heat ensuring nobody’s hot plates went cold until 9 p.m. An admission fee was charged to enter the food truck court, but that fee went toward programs the United Way of Central County was working on for our community. And it was also convenient for those who went to the Ramona Street Festival, as it was just around the corner in the Fingerprints Museum parking lot off of Carmalita Street and Florida Avenue.
Bob Duistermars, president and CEO of United Way of Central County, was in charge of this year’s festival.
“United Way is putting it on in conjunction with the Ramona Spring Festival,” said Duistermars. “And so we’re here up and out and having a good time.”
Eight different trucks were present, each highlighting their culinary offerings:
• The Big Cheese food truck rolled in from Los Angeles (a food trucker’s paradise) where owner Mike (no last name given) highlighted his signature sandwich, which is a medley of barbeque chicken, pepper jack cheese, green onions, and sour cream and onion kettle chips all on two thick slices of cheese-covered white toast.
• The “doctor” on board “A New York Delicatessen on Wheels” prescribed his garlicky cheese fries. It’s been said that garlic is good to counteract high cholesterol, but maybe not in fries. Oh yes, they have pastrami as well – a deli staple to many.
• Baby’s Badass Burgers (pardon the name) represented Orange County with its barbeque burger, laden with barbecue sauce, bacon, cheese and crispy onions on a King’s Hawaiian bun. Track them down and get yourself one!
• El Buen Sazon set up its tent and highlighted taco plates (carne or pollo) enveloped by handmade tortillas with plenty of fresh guacamole and crema to go around. Olé!
• Meat the Greek came not from Athens but from Los Angeles, where their own Mariano Islas prepared lamb gyro sandwiches; to get your veggies, order a Greek salad on the side. When in Rome, I mean, Greece, do as the Greeks.
• The Wood Fired Gourmet is a little more local, coming in from Murrieta to show off some rustic Italian cooking. Their pistachio pesto pizza is a welcome change from plain old pepperoni. But make sure you have a delicious drink to wash it down with, as you’ll need it.
• The owner of Pearson’s Louisiana truck is actually from Louisiana (with his truck being registered in Menifee), so you know his recipes are pure Louisiana-style goodness. His truck highlighted a “Swamp Platter,” with frog legs and gator bites served over French fries. The frog legs taste like chicken, in case you’re nervous about trying them. And make sure you have creole sauce with yours!
• The Sweet Stop pumped its brakes here, coming from Riverside to round off everyone’s food truck experience with dessert: funnel cakes are its top sellers, naturally.
• And to wash it all down, El Ojo de Agua came across city limits to offer their freshly-made horchatas. Their pineapple drinks come highly recommended by this reporter. Of course, they too had plenty of fresh Mexican offerings en mano.
As well as food, the local Cub Scouts displayed their handiwork, racing wooden boats they crafted to attract potential new scouts… and pick up an extra merit badge. There were even more street vendors looking to cash in on the excitement, including Tikila Willie Carvings, which offers beach themed signage for your bungalow or poolside patio. The Women of W.A.R. educated local women on how to protect themselves against criminals more effectively. And the Hemet Police Department also had a booth, educating the public on how to help the men and women of law enforcement to reduce crime and its effects, and on what to expect with Measure U.
The Valley Queens also popped in to sell raffle tickets, raffling off an adult-size bicycle to benefit the community as well.
There was no shortage of flavor in this year’s food truck festival, and no shortage of calories either. That said, every diet does indeed need a little wiggle room.