Judging the 2011 Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival
Equipped with cash, personal utensils, and moist towelettes, a peaceable horde of eaters descended on the Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival the minute the gates opened. Employing a divide-and-conquer approach, they dispersed to the forty or so trailers, only to return minutes (not hours) later with their spoils, ready to load up their commandeered picnic tables with paper boats of bacon fried rice, Loaded Nacho-Dillas, and Jalapeño Shrimp Bopper Salads. Meanwhile, I sat ensconced in a tent with nine other lucky souls, honored with the opportunity to serve as a judge for the Gypsy Picnic Cook-Off, one of the perks of which was having all kinds of delectable dishes brought to me (the others being my own parking space and an unsullied portable toilet). After about an hour spent stuffing ourselves, we chose the winners. Austin heavyweight Torchy’s Tacos got Best Taco (Baja Shrimp). East Side King cleaned up, winning both Fan Favorite and Best on a Bun (Poor Qui’s, with roasted pork belly, hoisin, and cucumber kimchee). Kebabalicious got the Best Vegetarian award, for their falafel kebab, and Mmmpanadas’ Traditional Argentinean empanada won the Best Ethnic category. Best Dessert went to Hey Cupcake, for their Pumpkinator. And MamboBerry took Best Drink, for their strawberry basil smoothie (which was, unfortunately, the only entry in the category but still a big hit in the judges’ tent). It was nice to see everyone having such a good time, since the overall response to the first Gypsy Picnic, last year, was less than charitable, with complaints about long lines, insufficient food, and a bunch of other annoyances you’d expect from an inaugural endeavor of that size. But, as Oprah says, when you know better you do better. Other than a dust storm here and there and a real-live dustup between Firefly Pies’ wood-fired oven and the fire marshal, there wasn’t much to complain about this year. So kudos to organizers Tiffany Harelik, the Sustainable Food Center, and C3 Presents. I mean, really, live music, beer, activities for kids, rest stations for dogs, and every major food trailer from the area, parked in one beautiful place for nine hours (which solves two of the biggest obstacles to satisfactory trailer dining right there). What more can you ask for? Here’s to next year.