Postcard from Budapest, Hungary: Caravan of food trucks kept calling us

Normally our preference is to sit down in a restaurant and be waited upon, but the Karavan Street Food courtyard of food trucks drew us back several times. Trucks line two sides of tables canopied when needed. Unlike many food truck sites we’ve encountered in Austin and San Antonio, access is hospitably pedestrian only. You don’t feel as though you are standing in the middle of a parking lot, and everything seems clean, fresh and new – even the restrooms.

The food is not inexpensive by Budapest standards, but we could buy a reasonable bottle of respectable red wine to have with our lunch. Always a draw for us. In fact, without TABC to interfere, Karavan Bar offers full-bar service.

We cobbled our meals together from several trucks, but always included orders of the best sweet potato fries we have ever had anywhere. Surprisingly, these emerge from an Asian-themed truck, Samu-Rice, specializing in fillings sandwiched in between two rounds of sticky rice – like the chicken teriyaki roll seen below.

The rice rolls are not the only unusual, for us, bun-type offerings. The Mister’s favorite was the curried chickpea patty from Las Vegan’s (Hey, definitely better to have a misplaced apostrophe than for us to struggle to comprehend the same name written in Hungarian.). The Real Cheeseburger skips the meat patty, substituting it, for example, with a wedge of fried camembert topped with grilled eggplant.

There is no shortage of meat, though. The bread encasing the Langos burgers is fried first, without tasting greasy at all. We sampled a beef burger with red pepper and a pork one with red onion chutney, both with a generous serving of sheep cheese.

We were among the first customers for the opening of Rocket Ice, unfortunately near the end of our stay. Fresh ingredients are combined upon ordering and quick-frozen into ice cream using some mad-scientist-looking process employing nitrogen. The most extravagant combination, Berry’Zola with gorgonzola, blueberries, pears and walnuts, was amazingly good.

Our sampling missed several trucks, including Kobe Sausages, Vespa Rossa Pizza and Pasta, The Soup Truck featuring goulash served in bread bowls and Tortilla Street Pirog, an unusual fusion of Mexican wraps and Russian-style pierogis.

Oh, and chimney cakes. In addition to the truck at Karavan, we saw the pastry cooking over hot coals before being cream-filled at numerous festivals, yet never ordered one. Food trucks and serious booth set-ups are major ingredients of festivals, so I am including photos of the incredibly huge meat-filled sandwiches dished up at Rosalia 2017, a rose wine festival in the city park.

Postcard from Parma, Italy: Festivals fill the streets with art and regional flavors

Beginning in early April, for 45 days contemporary art popped up in public spaces and unexpected places throughout the city as part of Parma 360. Although the event map listed 40 venues, we tended to stumble upon them rather randomly.

Man cannot live on art alone. In the midst of the art events, Parma hosted its three-day Street Food Festival with approximately two dozen food trucks and portable booths in Piazzale della Pilotta in the shadow of the Farnese Palace. Street food in Parma covers a broad sweep of flavors. In addition to burgers and brews, vendors offered some of the region’s finest hams, cheeses and wines.

Am still unsure whether the clever plays on the “do not enter” signs we encountered in our immediate neighborhood were part of Parma 360 or vigilante street art, but hope they remain past yesterday’s closing of the festival.

Stepping out our door smack into First Friday

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When we first bought our loft in King William, we walked over to the patio at Azuca for lunch. It immediately hit us that we were going to live in the exact spot we would want to stay if we were on vacation in San Antonio – a block off the river, a quick walk into downtown, in the midst of an emerging restaurant scene.

Last night, we strolled through Southtown’s First Friday for about 20 minutes before sitting down with banh mi sandwiches from the Duk Truck at Alamo Street Eat to listen to a set by Mitch Webb and the Swindles. I snapped a few – well, a lot of – photos on the way, all taken within about a three-block radius of our house.

I would recommend any of the food stops in the photos, and I cheated by throwing in our favorite weekend lunch spot – Tre Trattoria Downtown.