Hodge Podge
 Cleveland, Ohio           Date of Visit: 08/24/11             

I have been getting tweets (Geez, that still gives me the creeps to admit) from something called Walnut Wednesdays for a few weeks now. While I am loath to admit it when it comes to rolling food sources Twitter has been a boon. To be completely transparent the remarks from a number of comedians keep me chuckling through earthquakes both terrestrial and otherwise.


More  Boring Than Sweet Tots

But back to the food trucks…a group called the Downtown Cleveland Alliance has organized this weekly gnoshfest by inviting a number of trucks to converge in the same locations. Sort of like the 70’s movie Convoy, except in this version the trucks conflagrate to deliver lunch instead of vengeance. We haven’t had a chance to get out much as of late and here was opportunity to try loads of places at once. Let’s see how we do? Well, back surgery and all we made it to Cleveland without incident and turn on to Rockwell Street instead of Walnut since the usual spot and name sake is closed for the filming of the film Avengers.

The line looks promising, eight brightly colored trucks, all bellowing smoke with notes of protein and veg into the air. Does Cleveland have a temporary but weekly Utopiaesqe food nexus? Well yes and no. While some of the menus show great promise, most are slightly upscale drive thru food. Two trucks do capture our notice…Hodge Podge and Umami Moto.


Hodge Podge is a sister truck to Dim and Den Sum which we had thoroughly enjoyed on a previous journey and has gained notoriety on the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network as a competitor. While Chef Hodgson has been edited into something of a hothead so far on the show, I know how different people can be in the kitchen compared to anywhere else…plus television is television; life is life; and seldom the twain doth meet, we were excited to try his food. We ordered the tuna sliders, the kim chi mac and cheese, the sweet tots, and the duck and Korean sausage frites. We watched Chef Hodgson race around on his cell while we were eating to mixed results. First the less than spectacular. The tuna sliders were salty to me. If they are salty to someone whose palate has been dulled to the effects of the chemical, it should be ridiculously salty to others. Steph couldn’t finish hers, confirmed. It sounds snarky but it’s not intended to be. Put the phone down for a couple of minutes and check your product…the attention will only last as long as the quality of the food does, don’t lose both by losing site of the truly important one. The red onion and goat cheese atop the  grilled roll would have been a really nice combo for me if it didn’t taste like a salt lick. The sweet potato tots were also a real disappointment, the slight sweetness that pervades sweet potato fries is completely lost in the tot form, which is nicely crispy but lacks any worthwhile flavor. Things did get better, however.

The Tuna Had Been Assaulted

Rich Wonderful Mac n Cheese Paired with Spicy Korean Kim Chi. Awesome!

The mac and cheese had a thick and rich cheese sauce enveloping a fat rigatoni noodle. I tried a bite from the side, away from the cabbage, and noticed a hint of spice in the cheese sauce itself. The fermented Korean cabbage known as Kim Chi added a blast of heat and tang which worked surprisingly well with the rich pasta and sauce. The fries.... Oh, the fries. To be honest it looks a little like someone threw up in a container of French fries. Don’t let the look stop you. Simple fries are exponentially elevated with a rich ducky gravy swathing ground duck and Korean sausage. Easily the best thing we had all day. Unique, stupendous, exactly what you would be looking for from a specialist. If only everything approached that criteria. The fries alone were worth the trip.


I Know it Looks Kinda Like Dog Vomit...

But It's Fries Swathed In Fatty, Ducky, Delightfulness!




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