While we’re talking about sandwiches, I will confess that I am wary of Philadelphia cheese steaks. Before you send hate mail, I say up front that I have not knowingly been to Pat’s or Geno’s, and I admit that my lack of appreciation for Cheez Wiz and, for that matter, scrapple, reflects my lack of sophistication. Okay?
The problem is that, at least outside Philadelphia, the ratio of grease to sandwich runs high, and when they refer to “thinly sliced grilled prime rib” I’m pretty sure that “prime rib” refers to a cut of meat and not to the meat quality; or perhaps a lot of USDA meat graders are driving Bentleys.
But I try to keep an open mind, and hope springs eternal, so I ordered a cheese steak from a food truck in Loveland, Colorado, one of America’s leading Valentine re-mailing centers. Why were we in Loveland? We were on our way from Vail to Cheyenne*, and Loveland is an art mecca. There are several metal casting foundries in Loveland, Benson Park with over 100 sculptures, and another park with a large number of African sculptures. I got hungry between the African sculptures and Benson Park, and we stopped at a group of food trucks, including a craft sandwich truck, Curbed Hunger.
Both Nancy and I ordered a cheese steak, hers as a salad and mine as a sandwich. As you will guess, I did so only after checking out the ingredient list, which took the sandwich, here dubbed the Fresh Prince, well beyond a standard Philly cheese steak:
I also casually (and, I think, pretty discretely) looked at sandwiches ordered by other customers; and I noted, by the way, that the Curbed Hunger customers were much more attractive that the corn dog truck customers.
I made a good choice.
Now that’s good bread. And look at the filling.
Beautiful. This the sort of sandwich that cheese steaks dream of becoming when they are little cheese steak sliders, and that they think of wistfully as they plod through a brief existence as the DMV employees of the sandwich world, able to accomplish nothing more than spreading dyspepsia. Each Curbed Hunger sandwich and salad is made to order. The bread is a match for the sandwich. The beef tastes like real beef, with caramelization and texture, and the taste is enhanced by the vegetables. Grease? What grease? The horseradish sauce is very good, with a real horseradish flavor. The jalapeños add nice crunch and bite. This is a really good sandwich, well conceived and well crafted.
Now a cheese steak salad? I actually may have raised an eyebrow involuntarily when Nancy decided on that.
But she loved it. The greens were perfectly fresh and tasty, and worked well with the beef and cheese.
We ate on the late side, so I had a chance to talk to the Chef/owner, Brennan McAuliffe. This was a weekday gathering at an office park, but more of his business is in the evenings at microbreweries, which abound in Colorado. I didn’t think to ask about marijuana dispensaries, but I read about a 9-year old in San Francisco who sold 300 boxes of girl scout cookies in six hours outside a marijuana dispensary. I’m not sure what badge she got for that, but the same plan should work for a food truck. “I’ll have the left side of the menu. Do you have brownies?”
If you’re anywhere near Loveland — and it’s well worth a side trip from Denver — you really should check the Curbed Hunger website and track it down. Have a great sandwich and, if you’e outside a brewery, a local beer. Come for the sculptures and stay for a sandwich or, really, vice versa.
I know, some of you are asking yourselves, why were we on our way to Cheyenne? More on that anon. (see here.)