A Barn Yard of Feast and Fun | Recappin' the First Annual Bates Nut Farm Gourmet Food Truck Festival

August 23, 2012

San Diego's summer heatwave was at its pinnacle as we headed up Interstate 15 to the winding country roads leading to Valley Center for the 1st Annual Bates Nut Farm Gourmet Food Truck Festival.  As usual with most inaugural events, we had limited expectations, but we quickly found ourselves sweatily skipping from food truck to food truck, to petting zoo, to vendor, and back to food truck again.  The festival was a great success, and based on the attendance (and the increasing popularity of the food truck movement), this will be an event that will return for many years to come.

Scott "Lucks" Lucksanalamai of Lucks Media Group (and Thai-1-On food truck) was the organizer of the 1st Annual Bates Nut Farm Gourmet Food Truck Festival (and also the DJ!), which took over the picturesque country farm on Saturday, August 18th from 3-9pm.  When we arrived, we immediately noticed the tremendous turnout, as the parking area was packed and hordes of people were gathered around the complex, many with portable chairs and other picnic stuffs.  Although attendance was a' plenty,  the trucks seemed to be putting out food fast enough to keep the lines reasonable, and unlike other gatherings, we didn't hear much grumbling about long lines and wait times.  Everybody seemed to be having fun, staying calm, and enjoying their munchies, despite the 90+ degree heat.

Super Q pork melt
Food truck gatherings always force me to face my biggest shortcoming: indecisiveness.  We saw many visually appealing dishes coming out of the trucks, and we had to do a few laps before coming to a consensus on our order.  The Super Q pork melt appeared juicy and delicious, with mac n'cheese and sauteed onion topped with pulled pork between two crisp slices of toast.  The SloCal Slop from SloCal BBQ looked like a scrumptious starter, with truffled tater tots smothered in pulled pork, tomato, grilled onions, cilantro, and served with sides of BBQ and ranch.  The Surfin' Chubby burger from Chubby's looked amazing - an all beef Angus patty, topped with a sizable portion of grilled shrimp, covered in three cheeses and served on an artisan bun.  And while I know that they say spicy foods cool you down, if it wasn't for the heat, we may have succumbed to the Spicy Drunken Noodle Challenge from Thai-1-On - as we already know they do the classic Thai dish right - and we think that we could take it down in 15 minutes to get it for free!  Yea, I know, if you can talk the talk, walk the walk.  Maybe next time!

After seeing the grilled reuben and the New Yorker come out of New York on Rye, we decided to grab a sandwich from this well-critiqued deli-on-wheels.  After asking the proprietor for recommendations, we went with "The Beast" ($10) - a sandwich consisting of grilled roast beef lathered in honey orange horseradish sauce, port wine onion marmalade and cheddar on toasted rye bread.  To be completely honest, this was one of the best tasting, most flavorful, and most craveable sandwiches that we've had in San Diego, and we will definitely get it again.  We highly recommend The Beast for multidimensional flavors, culminating in sweet and savory goodness.

Mangia Mangia's pesto fries
Because we always go 'splitsville' on all our orders , we were still hungry and had to sample more.  We went with an eggplant parmesan sandwich ($7) and some pesto fries ($5) from Mangia Mangia.  Mangia's egglplant parm was classic - thin slices of eggplant, breaded, fried, coated with marinara and mozzarella and served on a long hoagie roll.  It was simple and comforting, and while we could have used extra sauce, we were so pleased that we got one more to-go to enjoy later at the Ben Harper concert at the Del Mar Racetrack.  We sensed the jealousy in the glances of surrounding concert goers.  As for the fries, while the flavors were great, coating the fries with pesto pre-fry left the outside with a strange consistency, not really crisp nor soggy, a texture we couldn't really come to terms with.

Me with a goat!
After filling our fat faces, we explored the rest of the festival and Bates Nut Farm.  There was a rock wall placed in the shade, live music, and even a petting zoo.  Although I initially scoffed at visiting the petting zoo portion, I found myself filled with childish glee as I went from goat, to pig, to sheep, to peacock, to chickens, to ostrich.  It was great fun!
When asked about the success of the Food Truck Fest, organizer Scott Lucks exclaimed "Can't wait til ye' next one...DO IT!"  Neither can we!  See you there!

Bates Nut Farm is located at 15954 Woods Valley Rd., Valley Center, CA 92082.  For more information and directions call 760-749-3333 or visit www.batesnutfarm.biz or www.vcfoodtruckfest.com, and be sure to follow the Valley Center Gourmet Food Truck Fest on Facebook.