Street Food: The Milk Truck at Brooklyn Flea
First, a disclosure: The Milk Truck is not actually a truck. Proprietor Keith Klein intends to launch the enterprise in mobile form as soon as November, but for now, the Milk Truck is a stationary food stand, operating exclusively at the Saturday and Sunday iterations of the Brooklyn Flea and at special events. Nor does it sell milk. It sells milk shakes and grilled cheese (or cheesy) sandwiches, both of which rely heavily on milk products, sure, but look elsewhere if you're craving a cold, frosty glass.
Not to imply that the Milk Truck, launched in early 2009, isn't about satisfying cravings. I'm sure I'm not the only person who periodically stalks around a dark kitchen searching for grilled cheese fixings. "Our goal," Klein says, "is to create delicious food that makes people happy."
Klein still works at a small advertising agency as the creative director during the week, but the food truck business has been his weekend dream for years. "I'd been researching food trucks for a while... and one morning around 5 a.m. I just woke up and thought, 'Grilled cheese.' It's simple; it's familiar; and it hits you in the happy place."
The All Day Breakfast Sandwich ($6.75) definitely hit me in that happy place: aged Wisconsin Gruyère, a fresh egg courtesy of Red Hook, and caramelized onions sandwiched between two slices of generously buttered rye bread. Not that every ingredient was fantastic: I enjoyed the Gruyère (more on that later), found the bread satisfactory if not memorable, and wished for a few more caramelized onions--they hardly registered in all but a few bites, but those I tasted lent the sandwich wonderful texture and sweetness.
Mainly, I loved the sandwich because I loved the egg. This fried egg, obviously fresh off the farm, soundly trounced all my home-made attempts to date. In other cases, either the egg is too dry and therefore unsatisfying, or it's too runny and therefore non-portable and messy. This egg somehow finds an admirable middle ground. Says Klein: "We fry the eggs until they're still a little loose and then finish them up on the press. It took a while to figure it out, but it's pretty simple now that we've got the procedure down."
Next, I ventured on to the Milk Truck's seasonal offerings with the
Last on the sandwich front, I figured I had to go for the "Milk Truck Classic" ($5.75). This grilled cheese sandwich was exactly what you would expect: a solid grilled cheese sandiwch. Yet, a conversation with my eating buddy was particularly telling.
Me: So, do you think there's enough cheese? (I did.)
Friend: Well, I wish there were more.
Me: But in relation to the bread, do you think there's enough?
Friend: Well, I wish there were more bread too.
Like the other two sandwiches, it's just not that big. And given that the "classic" wouldn't be all that difficult to reproduce at home, it might make sense to stick to your own. The Levain Pullman bread was not noticeably better than the bread my local grocery store provides; the Gruyère was good—assertive but not too salty—but it's certainly simple enough to pick up good Gruyère. The sandwich was delicious, to be sure, but it's not quite worth the trek, the wait, or the cash.
Finally, I topped those sandwiches off with the Bittersweet Chocolate Shake and the Market Shake (both $5.50), the latter of which currently features fresh strawberries. (In the winter, customers can expect a tomato soup instead.) The Market Shake was a lovely concoction, marinated strawberries blended into a light, creamy vanilla ice cream. That chunks of strawberry periodically stopped up my straw only made me love this shake more. And the chocolate was precisely what I had hoped it would be. The shake made me think of my favorite hot chocolate—thick, creamy, and above all genuinely chocolaty—frozen, with a straw stuck in.
In spite of some shortcomings, the Milk Truck didn't leave me with a sour taste in my mouth. While I wouldn't go back for every sandwich on offer, they did each hit that "happy spot" square on the head.