street food in boston: chickpea fritters and incredible bread from the clover food truck

chickpea fritter sandwich

my mother has been working at the same building at MIT medical my entire life. that’s 27 years (as of last week…yeeesh) that i have been visiting or picking her up on the same exact street in cambridge upon which there have never before been big white street food trucks serving freshly made locally sourced meals. and all of a sudden, i pop into boston for three days and here you are, delightful clover food truck.  so happy to make your acquaintance.

if you don’t obsessively follow the san francisco food scene from halfway around the world like i do, you may not know that street food is big these days. it used to be just the taco trucks and the tamale lady when you were drunk at zeitgeist. now everything from soup to salami and curry to creme brulee is being sold from carts and bikes and trucks and hovercraft all over the city. okay, maybe not the last part, but that would be pretty sweet. anyway, the SF street food scene has seriously blown up recently, as have the NYC and LA scenes, many of whom release their locations in real-time via twitter. even from london, i know exactly when a delicious fatty cured pig part sandwich goes on sale at a random intersection in san francisco and i can only mourn that i’m about 6,000 miles too far away to get in line. it’s gotten so big that it’s even spawned a backlash of anti-street-food-fad-sentiment. yes, you know things have gotten big when the haters come out to play. but ignore them and revel in the excitement that is street food. beyond all the tastiness, what’s particularly exciting is that the amazing people at la cocina are organizing a street food festival and the go game is running a street food themed scavenger hunt!  if you’re anywhere near san francisco, go sign up to play because it’s going to be AMAZING.

anyway. talking about street food gets me so excited that i’ve lost track of the original topic of this post, which was intended to be the excellent clover food truck. hooray boston for not letting sf, nyc, and la grab all the attention and making an impressive showing of your own.

considering how zealously i follow the street food scene online (that’s a really nerdy statement), i’m happily surprised by the totally serendipitous nature of my encounter with clover. waiting to pick up my mom and drive off to new york for the weekend, i noticed the small crowd standing next to the truck parked directly across the street from her office. my street food radar started beeping an insistent alarm, so i wandered over and perused the handwritten menu. upon seeing the happy crew of lunchtime munchers and the breakfast options like granola and popovers and lunch selections including a variety of cold salads and hot sandwiches, i knew something good was in store. and i was seriously psyched to see that the sandwich special of the day – a pesto, fontina and cucumber creation – featured basil from allandale farm in my hometown of brookline, which i used to visit as a kid.  i love that they’re supporting local producers and in fact, apparently their brunch is nearly 100% local, down to even the flour. so fantastic.

i chatted with the friendly people taking orders for a bit, and they recommended the popular chickpea fritter sandwich, pictured at the top. mmmmmmm tasty. warm, crunchy, and lightly spiced fritters, topped with a deliciously cool and creamy cole slaw, and lovingly encased in a thick wheat pita, toasted on the outside and perfectly chewy on the inside. i was really impressed with the quality of the bread and said so to the really nice guy wearing the clover t-shirt in the top photo whose name i am stupid for not getting. he told me that they actually get the bread from new york city because they couldn’t find a good enough alternative in the boston area. that’s true testament to a passion for quality. not exactly local, but excusable for bread that good.  you can see by the doughy strands in the photo below that this is a whole different ball game from those thin, hard, and dry pieces of cardboard that sometimes try to pass themselves off as pita pockets.

the tasty wheat pita from clover food truck

mmm. that photo makes me want to go back right now and eat another one. but even more so, i want to go try their brunch, which changes depending on what’s seasonal and available, but has at times featured pancakes with wild massachusetts blueberries,  corn fritters with local corn, and agua fresca made from local mass strawberries. damn, gina! that makes me happy. and hungry.  i love the local and seasonal ethos, i love that they’re all about running out of food (only serve what’s fresh and don’t waste!) and they even spoke at IDEO recently.  that’s pretty freaking cool.  apparently they’re using the truck to test out recipes for what will someday be a clover restaurant. i’m psyched to patronize your brick-and-mortar establishment, but keep on with the street food, ok? there’s nothing like standing in a light drizzle with a bunch of eager eaters and stuffing your face with a really amazingly good sandwich, unless it’s a really amazingly good sandwich and a big glass of lavender lemonade.  thanks clover food truck! you’re only 3,000 miles away or something, so i might even see you again sometime soon…

the clover food truck at MIT

4 Responses

  1. LinziMG says:

    My God, that top picture looks amazing! Great post.

  2. lex says:

    Stomach. Grumble. Want.

  3. vaman says:

    i want to eat the top picture and sprinkle some of the second picture on top. good lord.

  4. J The S says:

    mmmm…marvelous

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