After over a month of anticipation, the day finally arrived. It was Saturday the 8th of October, 2011. The day was already looking to be wonderful, with the sun heating things up already at 8:30 in the morning. We arrived at the Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, CA at about 9:30. After getting our gear, we lined up with the rest of the early birds, (We all had VIP tickets that would allow us to get in an hour early!) with grilled cheese on the brain! (Breakfast of Champions, of course)
As we made our way into the entrance, we noticed something was a bit wrong. We saw tons of trucks, but all of them seemed to still have the doors down! This could not be right, we figured if anyone would be open, it would be The Grilled Cheese Truck. (Heck, how much prep does that take!) Well, the Grilled Cheese Truck had not even arrived. In fact, there were atleast 5 trucks that were barely pulling in at 10 am, when the event was supposed to start.
After combing the area, there seemed to be only about 5 trucks ready as they opened the gates! This was very disappointing. Especially since we paid 25 dollars a ticket to get the privilege of not having to wait in line with the other 10,000 people that were estimated to be there during the day.
To top things off, the Beer Fest was a bust. I am not sure why the organizers used beer fest in the event name. (I guess they knew people like me would probably NOT show up just for a food truck, if there was not going to be some great beers to drink!)
In all, there were only 4 craft breweries represented. IE Brewing, Dale Brothers, Bootleggers and Stone. Any they were not pouring samples. It was strickly a cash a carry, being served by the budwiser trucks on either site of the event. I do understand that this is great exposer for the local brewries, but it think having the event server their beer might have been a detrement. (More on this later in the article!)
We ended up at the Piaggio truck. This is a truck my buddy Jim frequents, but it was my first. They serve mostly Argentinian influenced dishes. We decided to share the Pork Sandwich. It was FANTASTIC. Man, this guy can cook! He actually used to own a restaurant in Downtown Brea, CA before the economy force him to take his restaurant on wheels! The flavor of the chicken and the chimmicuri sauce and tomato was incredible. And the french baguette had a nice crunch to it. I will be hitting this truck up again!
We were then ready for some beer. Since we had spoken to Andy Dale a bit when we arrived, we decided to get some of his brew. We were quite surprised to find that his beers were not on tap. And to top that off, they did not have bombers, but a 12 oz bottle that Dale Bros has never produced! We bought 1 Pomona Queen and 1 Oktober Fiesta. We opened the bottles to find that the beer was NOT Cold. Not even close. It was a bit of a bummer to spend 12 dollars on 2 beers that were warmer then the water bottle I left back in the car. The beer was still tasty, we both agreed the Fiesta, which is an amber style with some spicy notes, (More on this when we get one to review in the right setting) was the better of the two. After the experience so far, we knew our day was going to be cut short.
As we finished our beers, we picked up some Pupusa’s from the Vchos Truck. I opted for the Shrimp, Beans and Spinach while Jim went with the Pork and Beans. These are almost like quesadilla but with a thicker flat bread made of masa. There were tasting but not exactly what we were looking to eat. (There were still only about 10 trucks open at this time) As we finished our Beer, we pondered our next move.
I ended the Food Truck session with a couple of Sliders from Baby’s Badass Burgers. These placed number two on my list for the day. They were very tasty, with some nice grilled onion and mushrooms on them! But, without a nice beer to wash it down, it was just not the total experience I was looking for in a food review!
After this, we were ready to head out! It was not quite 12:30 PM. With our palettes still yearning for some hops, barley, grains, yeast and malt, we decided to venture elsewhere! It just so happened the California Beer Fest was being held just a short 9 miles away in Clairemont, CA (More about that in my next post.) As we walked out, we did see the Grilled Cheese Truck. There were probably 250 people in line now!
I was very disappointed with this event. I have very high hopes and much of those were gone, right out of the gate. I hope the organizers will listen to the feedback that will be provided by many of the attendees and really make some adjustments for their next event.
Ken (Aka El Hefe)