Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rockstar Bakeshop... Rocking the Whoopie Pies

What a shooting star Rockstar Bakeshop has been riding since last summer. In just a few months I have watched this truck and its owners, Kristin and Denver begin with selling whoopie pies, on the weekends at local farmer's markets to then arranging to set up their folding table along side the trucks at high traffic areas to finally, in March, rolling out their own truck, named Layla.

Voodoo Child, chocolate cake, butterscotch ganache, vanilla buttercream, rolled in brown sugar   
I have to admit that I had never had a whoopie pie before crossing paths with this mobile bakery, so I was not sure what to expect. My first meeting with Rockstar was when they set up with two  trucks, in Irving in order to sell their whoopie pies.  That visit would be the first of many visits,  For the first several months of business, Rockstar paired up with several of the established trucks, selling from their trucks or along side them.  For those trucks that they sold from, in several situations they custom made whoopie pies to be sold exclusively on that truck.

Each whoopie pie is named for a classic rock song, selections like "Smoke On the Water", "Voodoo Child" and "Proud Mary". Rockstar also makes seasonal whoppie pies, which don't necessarily have song names but are guaranteed to help you celebrate the season, "Lucky Leprechaun" in March, "Santa Baby" and "Happy Elf" in December.

White Rabbit, carrot cake with white chocolate cream
I could go in to great detail about each flavor, but they change regularly and honestly, I have not found one I don't like. I do have a favorite, "Kung Fu Fighting" (vanilla cake, lychee frosting, rolled in coconut) which is exclusive to the Nammi truck.Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of that one but a along with having an exclusive Nammi truck flavor, Rockstar has an exclusive Easy Slider flavor, Banana Pancake.

Banana Pancake Whoopie, exclusive to Easy Slider Truck
Each whoppie, regardless of whether the the cake is chocolate or vanilla, it is always moist and holds the flavor of frosting well.  Each filling of frosting is delicious.  You won't get a tiny schemer of frosting on these pies, the frosting is thick and sweet and the outer decoration, be they sprinkles or coconut or sugar add just the right finishing touch. Honestly, I have eaten most of the flavors from Rockstar and they are all equally good!
Ace of Spades,  vanilla cake, marshmallow fluff & chocolate ganache, rolled in graham crackers

If the large size whoopie is more than you are looking for, Rockstar also offers mini whoopies. These small size desserts give you just a taste of yumminess without you feeling like you have eaten enough sugar for the day.
Mini whoopies

One of my favorite features of Rockstar is that if you place a custom order they will customize the labels for you. I did this for Teacher Appreciation Week and the teachers all loved the whoopies and the fact that they had a personalized message on them.

Rockstar is one of those unique trucks that continually changes things and offers something new.  To know where to find Rockstar and their flavors of the day or season, be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter.

SplashCast Video: How Food Trucks Use Social Media

I was recently asked by Splash Media, a company that provides social media resources to companies to participate in their daily "SplashCast", a webcast that covers many different aspects of social media. My topic was how the food truck industry uses social media.  It was great fun to participate in the SplashCast and I am so appreciative of Splash Media for asking me to participate.

Here's the video:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cowtown Chowdown Opens to Light Crowds, Good Food and Live Music

After months of planning and waiting, Forth Worth now has a second food truck park as Cowtown Chowdown had its Grand Opening Weekend starting on Thursday and continuing through Sunday. I am going to refer to this location as "the Chowdown" to distinguish it from the first  food truck park in Fort Worth. The Chowdown is located on North Main, north of downtown, south of the Stockyards.  There were 17 trucks on the calendar for Saturday, although one left for another event before I arrived. 

The trucks are set up so that four, including the Snoball Corral were on the side and the remainder were in a horseshoe shape around the perimeter of the property. Picnic tables were in the middle, some in the sun, some under a covering, with part of the covering being over an area for the  band.   Behind one side of trucks there is also a converted office area, with seating for those wishing to be completely out of the elements and there is a small covered table in the far back of the property. 

Much had been made about the parking availability for the Chowdown, with talk of a parking lot and convenient street parking. My recommendation is to start with the street parking. The parking lot is very small, not necessarily in number of spaces but more importantly, in width and depth of the spaces. I, like many in DFW, drive a wide vehicle and going around the bends in the parking lot was tight. The driving and backing area is only one car width so it would have been extremely difficult to back out of a space and clear every other car.  It is very much a "compact only" parking lot.  I parked on the street, directly in front of the Chowdown with no problems. 

I visited the Chowdown at 6:30 on Saturday evening, a time that I consider prime dinner time and was surprised at how few people were there.  Several trucks had messaged me or posted on Facebook that the crowds were light on Thursday's opening and into Friday. However, I assumed Saturday would be different since there were 17 trucks. At 6:30, no truck had a line and food that was being ordered was coming out quickly.  I posted on Facebook and several people posted that by 7:45, the attendance had picked up, slightly. 

In the "something you don't see every day" category, those who were there during this time, did get to see a demonstration by The Fat Truck of how to make liquid nitrogen sorbet. 

My first impressions of the park:

1. I love that Chowdown is on a main thoroughfare in Fort Worth.  
2. I love that there is room for a large number of trucks. The website and brochures say room for 20. I'm going to question that, with the understanding that I have not seen the set up for 20. Having 16 was a good feel, I think 20 would be tight and the set up would to the detriment of those 4 additional trucks. However to have 16 trucks in one location, with several choices for every person in the family is amazing and is how food truck parks should be done, in my opinion. 
3. All that concrete is going to be hot in July and August. There was a nice breeze while I was there, so it wasn't a problem to be out in the sun. The covering is nice but it remains to be seen how much heat the concrete radiates when its 100 plus degrees. 
4. There needs to be recycling bins for cans and bottles.
5. As mentioned above, the parking lot did not live up to the hype. That said, parking on the street was not a problem.   
6. More people need to visit the Chowdown and take advantage of the variety of food being offered. With most of the trucks working both Dallas and Forth Worth and with two parks in Fort Worth and one coming soon to Keller, there is going to be a lot of competition for these trucks and under the purest form of "supply and demand" the trucks are going to go where there is the highest demand. 

Cowtown Chowdown is open seven days a week and a list of trucks schedule to be there on any particular day is posted on their website. If you are seeking a specific truck, be sure to confirm on that truck's Facebook or Twitter page; things frequently change with the truck schedules and the Chowdown calendar may not reflect last minute changes. 
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