AMANDA LAFFERTY ’21
Hip-hop music blasting, swarms of people laughing and dancing, and intoxicating food smells filling the cool fall air, dominated at KNOW GOOD Market’s Nov. 9 food truck gathering.
Had it been a few degrees warmer outside, I’m sure more of the Hartford community would have ventured out to the monthly festival. I would encourage fellow Trinity students to attend their next event, a Holiday Bazaar on Saturday Dec. 9 at 30 Bartholomew Ave, as this will be a fun, easy, and delicious ways to engage with the local community and its restaurants. I guarantee spending a few extra dollars every now and then to go outside the comforts of Trinity’s dining options will be a welcome endeavor for your tastebuds.
The market of sorts was located in the empty lot adjacent to Hog River Brewing Co. in the Parkville neighborhood of Hartford. Though small, the event managed to host vendors of varying cuisines, products, and locations from across the Greater Hartford area. For those in attendance who were 21 or older, Hog River also offered their daily tap options in addition to a KNOW GOOD pale ale inside of the brewery.
Lines were short at many of the food trucks, which was much appreciated due to the deathly cold climate of that evening. Though seeing many enticing options such as Bear’s BBQ, Faddy’s Donuts & Ice Cream, and Taco Tequila Food Truck to name a few, I made my way through only a few vendors: Mercado Foods and Dee’s.
A caterer and food truck, Mercado Foods boasts “Span-ish” tapas that utilize local produce and products whenever possible. Each of the three items I ordered –the duck fat potatoes, brussel sprouts, and skirt steak– were rich in flavor and entirely satisfying. The duck fat potatoes were undoubtedly a favorite due to the bacon chimichurri and fried egg, which sat softly on top. The flavor pairings of this tapa reminded me of Chicago’s infamous Au Cheval, a New American burger-oriented staple that makes the most mouthwatering duck fat fries, also topped with a fried egg. They are obviously different in terms of how the potatoes are prepared –Mercado seems to pan fry the fingerling potatoes instead of Au Cheval’s deep frying method– the duck fat is a staple in both and emboldens the flavor of the root vegetable.
The skirt steak, paired with butternut squash, garlic-lime aioli, and presented with a layer of microgreens on top, was grilled to a preferred medium rare and created an unctuous mouthfeel. A dish perfect for fall, the squash was a starchy and clever addition that elevated the hearty yet more-often-than-not boring “meat and potatoes” duo.
The last tapa from Mercado that I indulged in was the crispy brussel sprouts. The dish packed on some heat due to the sriracha aioli, thankfully spicier than expected. One aspect of the dish that was somewhat lost was the crushed pistachios. Texturally the nuts were relatively noticeable, but they offered little to the flavor profile of the dish.
The palate cleansing drink that completed my tour of the food trucks was a simple yet highly refreshing passion fruit juice over ice from Dee’s Flavor, a food truck that also emphasizes local and farm fresh ingredients with a Latin-Caribbean flare. The man working in the truck jokingly added, “You know, this would make a great margarita,” as he handed me the drink; a funny and positive note on which to end the evening.