A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a friend at Big Boss Brewery to engage in a mutually shared hobby: hunting down a food truck and cornering it in a spot where we can sample the goods along with a pint or two of local beer. This particular night, our quarry was The Wandering Moose, a mobile vendor specializing in sandwiches made with slow-cooked meats. I had spotted the Moose a couple of weeks earlier at this same spot, but had other plans that night.
This time around, I came prepared. I’d done a little advance scouting on the Wandering Moose website, and I’d brought backup to help me explore the menu’s rustic territory. I was especially intrigued by the description of the Montreal-style smoked meat sandwich: “Our Montreal style meat is brined, smoked to perfection and piled high on toasted rye bread with a spiced mustard. A Canadian cousin to the classic pastrami!!”
As luck would have it, that particular sandwich was not on the menu board that night. I’d have to go with plan B, the smoked brisket sandwich: “Slow cooked brisket topped with melted bleu cheese, caramelized onions and horsey sauce.” My friend got the Moose Cubano, a freewheeling riff on the classic Cuban sandwich that switches out the ham for house-cured bacon, and serves it up on grill-pressed ciabatta. In the interest of research (and bacon parity), we traded halves.
The Cubano was a worthy sandwich, we agreed, the star being the bacon: crunchy-chewy ribbons sliced thick but not too thick, neither too smoky nor too sweet. But we knew we’d bagged a trophy in the brisket. Pulled into succulent shreds and piled so high on the bun that the sandwich was nearly as tall as it was big around, the meat was so flavorful it could have stood on its own without any of the toppings. With them, the sandwich was a three-napkin delight.
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A couple of sides rounded out our order. We couldn’t pick out all the individual meats in the 5 Meat Chili (ground beef, ground sausage, sausage links, bacon and pork tenderloin), but gave two thumbs up to the chunky brew and agreed we could detect a hint of cinnamon in its complex spice kick. The creamy cilantro jalapeño coleslaw was fine, but could have used a little more oomph to live up to its name.
By this point, our brains were telling us to call off the hunt. But our stomachs reminded us that we’d seen mini-beignets on the menu board. A follow-up expedition to the truck produced a reasonable facsimile of the genuine article – a little heavier than the airy, powdered sugar-dusted pillows made famous by Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, but still a reliable cure for the sweet tooth blues. And the Wandering Moose version comes with a bonus: house-made bourbon-maple syrup that the guy behind me in line volunteered is so good he drinks the leftovers straight out of the little plastic container it comes in.
For a future outing, I’ve got my sights set on the brined jerk chicken sandwich. If I’m in the mood, I may even try the Southwest veggie burger (scratch-made with black beans, and topped with roasted tomatillo salsa). But if the Montreal-style smoked meat is available, all bets are off.
Seeking to improve my odds in catching up with that elusive sandwich, I gave a call to Matt Lundgren, who owns and operates the truck with fellow restaurant industry veteran and longtime friend Anthony Reid. Lundgren explained that the pastrami style preparation is a seven-day curing and smoking process, which until recently they’ve had to complete in an ordinary oven. He was excited about a smoker they recently acquired, but warned that availability of the popular Montreal style is still likely to be sporadic.
“Check our Twitter,” he said. “We post when it’s going to be available there.”
Next time I go stalking the Wandering Moose, I’ll know just how to scope out my quarry.