Vendy Awards 2011

Cloudy skies... looking at Downtown Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridge Brooklyn Beer's Lager with a cute Vendy's insulation sleeve
The lines and crowds
View of Downtown Manhattan, a can of Brooklyn Beer’s Lager with a Vendy sleeve, and the crowd

Probably some of you might think I won’t ever eat street food. That’s a really bad assumption of me, as I’m an equal opportunity eater. I don’t mind eating things that are street food, homemade, to haute cuisine. My minimum criteria is that it has to taste good. Hence, my attendance to 2011 Vendy Awards at Governors Island.

Granted, I don’t have the time to track down every vendor who was nominated (total of 21 for both New York City and a few from New Jersey) but I have eaten from a few of them like Miss Softee‘s crazy, fun soft serve ice cream concoctions and Souvlaki GR‘s tasty pitas and Taïm Mobile Truck for quick meals on the go. This event gave me an opportunity to try a pool of vendors that I’ve never tried before. From the general scope of this event, it’s mostly about the taco and its culturally diverse use in street food.

Korilla BBQ Truck and the line
Rib Eye of the Tiger taco Porkinator taco
Korilla BBQ: Rib Eye of the Tiger and Porkinator tacos

Since I’ve seen Korilla BBQ a few times on Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” recently, my curiosity gotten the best of me and wanted to try their Korean inspired tacos. What really surprised me was the fact this crew had the chutzpah to actually make every taco to order and customize your tacos (if you wanted cheese and sauce). Knowing that this is serving a lot of people (I’m thinking close to a thousand orders, if not more), they fall behind. Anyway, I had their Rib Eye of the Tiger and the Porkinator tacos with a mild sauce. They were pretty darn good but I wish I had the spicy sauce instead. It had good balance of filling to tortilla, the meats were delicious and the toppings made it more Korean from the kimchi. To note, this truck won Rookie Award. Congratulations, Korilla BBQ!

Souvlaki GR truck
Pork souvlaki pita Greek fries
Souvlaki GR: My pork sovlaki pita and Greek fries

Since I’m relatively a creature of habit, I had to go eat Souvlaki GR‘s pork souvlaki and their Greek fries. The souvlaki is consistently good. Warm, chewy pita meets grilled pork, sweet, juicy tomatoes, slivers of red onion, and a few French fries. But the Greek fries really stole the show. How can you not love hand-cut fries that’s seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano and feta? It’s flavor fireworks in my mouth! Especially from the salty zing of the crumbled feta cheese. Also, it’s the best fries I’ve eaten of the 16 vendors who were serving savory dishes. (Congratulations to Souvlaki GR for winning People’s Choice!)

My pork tamale and arroz con leche
Pork tamale (mild) and arroz con leche

I thoroughly enjoyed eating through Tamales Guadalupe‘s pork tamale. She usually sells her food on Knickerbocker & DeKalb Avenues in Brooklyn. I’ve heard from friends I’ve met at the Vendys and read on Twitter that her spicy pork tamale was deliciously painful (as in, slap-your-face spicy but it tastes damn good). These were served piping hot and these tamales tasted like they were made with love. Her arroz con leche is like a rice-based horchata to me but richer, if that made any sense. Traditionally, as far as my knowledge goes for Latin cuisine, arroz con leche is supposed to be a pudding. However, Guadalupe made it into a warm, vanilla-y, drinkable pudding.

Elote (Mexican style corn on the cob) Crispy catfish taco and Adobo marinated pork taco
Elote and crispy catfish and pork tacos from The Taco Truck

The elote from The Taco Truck in New Jersey, was a delicious side. Warm, sweet corn meets salty, mildly spicy, creamy cheese and mayonnaise. They did serve very good tacos. Of the two, I did like the crispy catfish fish taco because it was crispy as advertised and the accoutrements of shredded red cabbage, sweet tomatoes, and pico de gallo enhanced the fish even further.

Flavor flight tasting concepts at Miss Softee ice cream truck Flight #3: Chocolate
Miss Softee’s sign of “Flights” and My Flight #3

Jumping to dessert (though I have eaten a lot more food than stated on this post), my most favorite dessert was from Miss Softee. She had this intriguing concept of taking her quirky soft serve toppings and categorize them into three parts: sweet and salty, fruity, and chocolate. Since I’ve read “choinky crash” I had to opt for Flight 3.

My cone was chocolate based soft serve, dipped in a chocolate shell bath, rolled on one half: Whatchamacallit, crushed peanut butter filled pretzels; the other half was rolled in what I think were crushed chocolate cookies and what Chrissy, the proprietor, calls them “Bac-Os.” As undecided as I was for which side to eat first, I ate from the top initially, which yielded in an odd mix of different types and flavors of chocolate with crunchy and salty things. But when I worked on each side independently, it makes more sense; meaning, a better tasting cone. My favorite was the bacon side. It does reminds me of Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream‘s choinkwich but in ice cream form. Props to you, Chrissy for accomplishing that.

La Bella Torte's Maker's Mark Chocolate Panna Cotta Creamy... Maker's Mark Chocolate Panna Cotta My cup of green tea shaved ice with mochi and fresh mango
Maker’s Mark Chocolate Panna Cotta from La Bella Torte and Wooly’s Green tea shaved ice

Other notable desserts were from La Bella Torte for their Maker’s Mark decadently rich and chocolate-y chocolate panna cotta and Wooly’s Ice (they won the Dessert category) for their shaved green tea ice with mochi and fresh mango. The latter was not overwhelmingly rich as all the other desserts were but it did have very good, delicate flavors of green tea, sweet mango and chewy bits of mochi with a coating of silky sweet condensed milk.

This was an epic day of eating street food. Not just because I haven’t eaten that much street food in one day but this award means a lot to these street vendors that they worked hard to make people like me, happy and wanting to come back and eat more of their delicious food.

Congratulations to the winners and finalists of the Vendys! You and your peers make this event great and on a normal basis, keep us going from the grind of work.

To see more of my photos of the Vendys, please scroll through the slideshow below:

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Vendy Awards

Website: http://streetvendor.org/vendys
On Governors Island, NYC


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.