Monday, November 7, 2011

Ready to Nosh

I am a big fan of Groupons and eagerly read my daily emails from Groupon to see if there are any offers that tempt me to purchase that day's offerings. Most Groupons offer food, merchandise, or services at at least half their full price. The Groupon is for sale for just one day but, once purchased, has anywhere from a few weeks to a year to be used.

Today, Mary Ann, Harriet, and I used our Groupons for a Ready to Nosh San Francisco Food Truck Walking tour.

As many of you who live near large cities know, food trucks have come a long way from the "Roach Coaches" that used to pull up outside my office building each day to sell pre-packaged sandwiches, pastries, and other snacks and beverages. The Food Truck movement got its start in New York City and seems to be in every metropolitan area. Chefs, both well-known and fledgling, offer their freshly-prepared foods from their trucks.

At least in San Francisco, the different trucks move to different locations on different days. They are popular particularly for lunch among the downtown office crowd who want a quick well-prepared meal for a moderate price; eating out in the City can be pricey.

While I have gotten a bite to eat at some Food Trucks around town, I really haven't explored them in depth.

Ready To Nosh promises several stops with lots to eat. Their tours are given most days at mid day and also in the evening. They start in different parts of San Francisco, depending of there the trucks are situated that day.

We met our guide, Nick, at 11:30 a.m. today at the foot of Market Street in front of One Market Restaurant (where a sandwich at lunchtime costs $16.75!!).

Our meeting place was right across the street from the Occupy San Francisco encampment and across the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building. Mary Ann and I got into town a few minutes early and took a walk by the encampment.

Things were pretty quiet at almost noon and there was a visible police presence on the periphery (three police cars and SF police on foot), just keeping an eye on things.

We also took a quick look at the WPA murals by Anton Refregier at the Rincon Center, formerly the site of San Francisco's Rincon Annex Post Office. The murals were begun in 1941 and depict the history of California.

As soon as our group had gathered, Nick walked us across the street to Alicia's Tamales

where we started our tour with Chicken Tamales, freshly made by Alicia.

Alicia's is not a food truck per se, but rather one of the many food stands that set up at lunch time near the Ferry Building. Nick started us off here so we'd have a "little something" to eat before getting to our first truck stop.

Alicia's Tamales cost $3 each and have a variety of fillings from which to choose. They are delicious and one would have been enough for me for lunch...but, there was more to come.

We then walked up Market Street, with Nick telling us a bit about life in and the history of San Francisco. The others in the group, other than my group, were all visitors to San Francisco, so they were anxious to hear about San Francisco from Nick's perspective and we enjoyed his stories as well.

We saw an F-Line Trolley, one of the historic trolleys that runs across San Francisco from the Ferry Building.

We'd never seen a "convertible" F-Line trolley but, rather are used to seeing the bright orange ones on this special trolley line. Here is the open air trolley.

Our destination was an alley off Mission Street near First Street where three food trucks were busily serving the line of hungry people on their lunch hours.

I checked out the website posted on the sign at this alley for Truck Stop and found a calendar with a daily schedule of which food trucks will be there between 11 and 2 on any given weekday. So if you have your heart set on Senor Sisig's Filipino Fusion Food, Monday is the day. But if it is Indian Curry you desire, come this Tuesday. And, one of the trucks scheduled for this Thursday is The Rib Whip, a BBQ truck that has its own smoker installed on board!!!

Nick had placed our food orders in advance with two of the three trucks. While we waited, he ran over to a nearby store to get us soft drinks,

We each got a full serving of Garlic Noodles with skewers of Shrimp, Beef, or Chicken from An the Go, a truck run by the An Family whose first restaurant Thanh Long dates back to 1971.

Our other food was Filipino Tacos from Senor Sisig. The tacos were delicious and filled with freshly grilled meats and vegetables.

We took our truck food back to the courtyard behind the alley where there are outdoor tables. The Monday Farmer's Market was busily going on in the background.

Our tour ended a Yerba Buena Plaza.

Harriet went back to her office and Mary Ann and I stopped at SFMOMA for a bit of art and ended our day with coffee, tea, and cookies at the Blue Bottle Cafe in the rooftop garden on the top level of SFMOMA.

Blue Bottle's coffee is made cup by cup, to order. Their pastries at the museum are inspired by works of art in the Museum. The napkin under our cookies directed us to look around the roof top art for specific works that each cookie represents...clever and just that little sweet something we wanted after our many-cuisine lunch tour.

My take on Ready to Nosh: It was fun but not exactly what I expected. I thought we would taste more food, rather than having only three full servings. I would have liked to go to more than one Food Truck stop. I even brought a supply of Ziploc bags, thinking we'd be having just little bites of this and that as we walked across the City. I liked the combination of it being a sightseeing and eating tour. Even Harriet, who works near the Alley where we stopped, did not know about its food trucks. We made discoveries and had a lot of tasty food, for sure.

But, if I had paid the full price of $45, I would have felt it was a bit too expensive. At our Groupon price, it was a bargain and a fun outing with good friends.

Ready to Nosh provides all the food and soft, our food costs would have been $15 plus the cost of a soft drink, just about what we paid for our tour. We were advised beforehand that the tour did not include a tip for our guide and we did tip Nick who took good care of us...such good care that after we left him, he called me to suggest a place that Mary Ann and I stop for something sweet because he knew we were talking about having a little dessert after we left him.

Thanks, Nick! It was fun.

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