On a recent sunny Sunday, people poured into Durham Central Park for the latest food truck rodeo—a style of event that continues to grow in the Triangle with the addition of new mobile eateries. Earlier this month, Andrea Weigl of the News & Observer counted 35 trucks that currently cater to the region's streets, not to mention three cart operations and a handful of businesses still in the works. Of the total, approximately 29 made an appearance at the Durham rodeo.
Among them was American Meltdown (americanmeltdown.org), a blazing orange truck that is one of the newest ventures on the scene. The rodeo on March 11 marked its second day in business.
Operated by husband and wife duo Paul Inserra and Alycia Grace, the truck serves gooey cheese melts and sandwiches—from the Patty Melt (a cheese- and onion-smothered burger on sourdough, $6) to a simple grilled cheese ($3). As to why melts, Inserra quips: "Because we love cheese. Everything is better with cheese." (He has, in fact, contributed stories on the subject in the past for these pages.)
But as to the real reason—at least for the truck's name—there's a larger story at play. American Meltdown is a nod to the recession and the couple's struggle to find work. Former New Yorkers, Inserra explains that he and Grace "both lost jobs within a month of each other." Grace was with Elegant Bride, a Conde Nast publication that shuttered along with Gourmet and other magazines years ago, and Inserra worked with a wine distributor. The loss of employment for both, Inserra explains, "was the impetus to relocate and start the food truck."
Inserra says to look for the truck at many upcoming events. For a full schedule, visit American Meltdown online or follow them on Twitter (@AmericanMLTDWN).
Another new venture for the spring will roll out this Sunday at Capital Club 16 (capitalclub16.com). At 7 p.m., the restaurant will host its first in a series of Sunday suppers.
Co-owner Shannon Wolf says the dinners are an opportunity to showcase local farmers and artisans and "let others get to know them" because they are "so integral to what we do."
The upcoming dinner will begin with a reception where attendees can mingle with representatives from Foothills Brewing, Videri Chocolate Factory and Heritage Farms, who all have a part in the evening's menu.
Foothills will pour four of its brews to coincide with dinner courses, including Heritage Farms Porchetta served with stewed apples, kale and garlic chickpeas, plus Videri fondue for dessert. Chef Jake Wolf, along with representatives from the three participating vendors, will talk about their foods and beverages during the course of the dinner.
The evening is $45 per person including food and drinks or $30 for food only, not including tax or tip. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling the restaurant at 747-9345.
For future Sunday suppers, held on the last Sunday of the month, visit Capital Club 16 online.
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