Jennie-O and Bitro Truck Turkey Burgers: NYC: Roaming Food Truck

A couple months ago I got an email from someone inviting me to come appear on the show Eat St. because they were going to be covering the Bistro Truck, a food truck in Manhattan about which I had written this tiny little review (having lost my picture of the food and written about it months after I actually ate it).  To my utter dismay, there was just no way for me to go to NYC that weekend.  It was Boston Pride, and a friend was coming up from Orlando to visit me.

I was happy to hear from someone who at least must be related in some way a couple of weeks ago, inviting me to a tasting event for a new partnership between the Bistro Truck and Jennie-o Turkey that would take place at 11:30 AM on Monday, July 25th.  Would I like to come try their new turkey burgers at their media event?  Yes, yes I would.

I bought my Megabus ticket, figuring that, since I knew I'd want to work on the Sunday before (you get time and a half on Sundays in Massachusetts), I'd just take the midnight bus in to NY, arrive at 4:30 AM, get breakfast at a good 24 hour restaurant and chill there, do some reading for a bit, maybe switch to another diner or coffee shop after a while, maybe head to a library for a bit, then go to the media event (:D), then finally do the Sony Wonder Lab tour (which a handful of people have told me is super fun, and which I once tried to go to but ended up being five minutes late for the last daily tour at 4 PM), then wander around, maybe get a snack for the bus, and take the 5:10 Megabus home.

I ended up being scheduled to work from five to midnight Sunday night, but I switched that with a friend at work so that I worked from 2-9 instead.  I packed my little backpack before work so that I wouldn't have to go home between work and the bus but could instead casually wander and stroll through the Commons to South Station.


As I strolled along, I thought, as I had thought on random occasions throughout the past few days, about how I'd kind of like to puff on a cigar right now, chilling in the beautiful Commons.  I've smoked a cigar maybe twice in my life, but I've been re-listening to the audio version of the wonderful book Stumbling on Happinness, and Daniel Gilbert mentioned how nice smoking a cigar could be, and it had created a little voice in my head, cooing, "Ooooh, a cigar would be nice."  I mused that I was sure I could find a cigar shop on my way to the station but that I don't know the first thing about cigars and didn't really feel like getting into a whole thing with a salesman about it right then.  What would be perfect would be to find a nice, non-threatening older man, who happened to be relaxing in the park, sm...

Well what was I to stumble on while meandering through this little stretch of the park but three upper-middle aged men in casual business attire, all luxuriously puffing away on thick cigars, enjoying one of the most beautiful, cool breeze-filled nights we've had this summer.

As the heady cigar aromas wafted over to me and I breathed them in, I smiled as I thought of my favorite uncle and of the fact that it seemed like I had manifested these men and their cigars into being.  One of them said, "Hey there, pretty young lady."

I said, "Hi," and smiled again, took two more steps forward, and then turned toward them.

"You know what's weird?  I was just thinking about how nice a cigar on a night like this would be, but I don't even smoke cigars."

The man who'd hello-ed me didn't hesitate a moment before sliding over to give me room on the bench and pulling out a bag of cigars to offer me one.  It took me forever to get it lit at all, and then it kept going out anyway, because of course I had begun my rapid fire talking, as per usual.

In the midst of the life story sharing, we discovered that this man Don, lives a few miles from my parents (both outside of Houston) and has a car dealership there as well as his one other location, which is just outside Asheville, where my mother and her family grew up (and where my favorite aunt now has a loft downtown).  This man and I had enough shared experience to discuss specific dishes at Japaneiros, the restaurant in Sugarland, Texas that was really the turning point in my foodie-ism (I'm working on a review of Japaneiros wherein I'll share this story, by the way), both reminiscing over the avocado cream soup and me recommending to him the baja sauce.

Anyway, I now have a nice cigar to puff away at a little bit at a time over the next week(s).  I also got to the Megabus in time to snag one of the front seats on the top level, so that I had an absolutely gorgeous view for the ride.  I tried to sleep for 4 hours of the ride, but I only got enough quasi-sleep to make me so tired that I was really starting to regret this whole ridiculous plan.

In Manhattan at 4:30 AM, I walked 30 minutes to Veselka in the East Village and had a tasty but ridiculously indulgent and filling meal for breakfast.  Oh well, I thought, it'll be at least 6 hours until I go to the turkey burger thing.  I then fueled up on espresso at Bourbon Coffee, and did some writing on my book.  From here, I decided that just espresso would not be enough to get me through this day, so, from some random bodega, I picked up one of the new low-cal Monster drinks that has tons of chemical bull shit in it, and strolled through the streets of NYC at 8 AM, listening to and aggressively lip-synching along with my short list of favorite songs of the moment as I chugged away at the 16 oz. black and yellow can.




I thought about how even more awesome the looks on the faces of the strangers who passed me would be if I were alternately puffing on my cigar and gulping from the can, but I didn't have matches or a zippo, and anyway I was just trying to get through the morning, so I didn't have the wherewithal.

As I passed through Madison Square Park, I contemplated joining these people:

After a brief stint in the un-airconditioned Mid-Manhattan library and some reading in Bryant Park, I finally made my way to the event.  It was roped off, and I got to check in and get a name badge!

How bad ass is this shit!

Isn't it adorable that they changed one of my S's to a $?

So I sat down at a table with a middle aged woman and introduced myself.  She wrote reviews for some finance foodie blog.  She was a boring whiner, bitching about how some restaurant she was going to be covering wouldn't allow her to have 4 people at one table, 3 of whom would be reviewing their food and all of whom would be comped.  Instead, they were asked to go in separate parties of two, but they would still all be comped.  Now, I don't really understand their reasoning perfectly, unless it's to keep larger tables for paying customers or to hedge their bets on good dining experiences, or because they've found larger dining groups tend toward negative group-think reviews, but the point, to me, is what a spoiled brat!  You're job involves getting paid to eat at nice places for free (and to go to events such as the one we were currently at) and then writing about them.  Jesus.  Get a little fucking perspective.

Another man sat down at that table, and they seemed to know each other.  He wrote for some blog too, and he was socially weird, and I just wanted to leave that table.  I had noticed that there were three guys who were about my age at the next table down, so I mumbled something about moving to get a better view of the woman who was now giving a speech about the turkey burgers, and slid down to there table, never looking back at those people.

My "better" view




The woman with the speech was talking about food trends, about how they thought it'd be cool to combine the food truck trend with the "better burger" trend.  It struck me that the food truck trend, the better burger trend, and in fact the turkey burger meme, had all been established years ago and that this whole thing was far from groundbreaking, but, hey, maybe these lean turkey burgers really were going to taste better than the bland pucks of meat served at a lot of "healthy fast food" places.


Then the Bistro Truck dude got on the mic and described the 5 turkey burgers we'd be sampling, themed after 5 neighborhoods in NYC.  I was delighting in the interested looks of passersby as they curiously gazed at the proceedings, perhaps envying those of us on my side of the ropes.


These are their descriptions, along with the locations where you can go and get a free sample yourself throughout the week.  Keep in mind about the pictures, they gave us sliders on little potato buns to try, which the free samples probably ill be too, but when you actually purchase these things, you'll get a full burger:

Yes, I would be eating all 5 of these.  I was somewhat hungry by this point.



Tuesday, July 26 – Hudson Street and King Street – The Mulberry Street Turkey Burger – A turkey patty topped with homemade marinara sauce, and finished with premium parmesan cheese:


Actually this is the only one I didn't finish.  Unless someone has slaved away all day perfecting it and then serves it to you hot and fresh, marinara sauce can go fuck itself, in my opinion.


Wednesday, July 27 – Union Square Farmer’s Market (15th St) – The Flatiron Turkey Burger – Made by thin-slicing portobello and oyster mushrooms, saut√©ing everything with a blend of herbs and spices, and placing it on top of a cooked turkey patty, which is topped with cheddar cheese and sliced avocado.

This one was better.  Since I could now actually taste the meat instead of tomato paste, I noticed it tasted breakfast sausagey!  So it seems they have actually made a better, lean turkey burger.  Unless it's not actually than lean.  They didn't give us nutrition info.


Thursday, July 28 – Old Slip Street and Water FIDI -  The Brooklyn-Style Turkey Burger – A turkey burger sprinkled with oregano, cumin and chili powder, cooked, and fried red onions and cheddar cheese are added.

He said he wanted the Brooklyn one to have "attitude."  I dunno that he captured anything Brooklyny with this one, but it was tasty.  I mean, everybody likes cumin, chili powder and caramelized onions.


Friday, July 29 – 52nd Street and Park Avenue – The Bronx Turkey Burger – A turkey patty is placed on the grill.  As it cooks, it’s topped with blackened poblano peppers and charred scallions.  Then it’s served with spicy mayo and a creamy cheese sauce.

This is the one I enjoyed the most.  If you're going to make it out for one free one, this should probably be it.  Great vegetables and a slightly spicy creamy cheese sauce.  What could be better?!


Saturday, July 30 – Washington Street and Gansevoort Street – The East Village Turkey Burger – A simple turkey burger patty mixed with panko (or “punko” as Yassir calls it) and parsley before cooking, then served with thin slice of cucumber, bean sprouts and brie.

As much as I love brie, I don't know that we needed this much on the burger.  First of all, it kind of detracts from the "lean" situation they're ostensibly promoting, and secondly, I needed a bit less in order to be able to taste that "sausagey" turkey patty!

That being said, I had saved this one for last as I thought I'd enjoy it the most.

This was poor decision-making on my part as by the time I got to it, I was pretty well stuffed.  I could still appreciate though, the nice sprouts and cucumber, the light panko coat, and how a slightly lower brie : turkey ration (which may well happen in the full burger size) is probably the making of a really wonderful burger.  This East Village one and The Bronx is clearly the two contenders for the best.  My favorite part was how we called this one the "East Village" burger "in honor of the vegetarians of the East Village, even though it's, of course, got turkey in it..."  A little brie, some bean sprouts and a slice of cucumber, plus the panko breading that can sometimes be found on a veggie burger.. okay I can see the connection I guess.  Except, the truck isn't going to be in the East Village.  Washington Street and Gansevoort Street intersect in the Meatpacking District, closer to the West Village than the East Village, anyway.

I met the three boys and found out they all also work for various blogs, all of them actually for travel blogs.  I wonder if I was the only asshole there who just blogs on her own, as a hobby, albeit a way too consuming one.

Either way, we all got goodie bags!  Check it:
An iPod Shuffle, a silly coupon I'll never use, and a $5 Starbucks gift card.

These gifts are apparently to represent the prizes you might get if you show up to the truck for your free turkey burger samples over the course of this week. If you wonder, as I did, why Jennie-o is being so generous about giving all this stuff away, you can read here for what I assume to be the reason.

Then, just to live up to my asshole name, I accepted the offer of free car service even though I was just going 4 blocks to Sony Wonder Lab (which would turn out to be closed Mondays, so that I should've had another plan and taken advantage of the car service to go somewhere far out, like, say, the Bronx Zoo).  Either way, I got a cute little free bottle of water out of the tiny trip:

Don't mind if I do!

I wound up going to the Central Park Zoo and paying $7 to see a 13 minute excerpt from the Planet Earth movies, a clipping together of penguin and polar bear footage.  It was called Ice Worlds 4D, by which they mean a horrible post-production 3D rendering, a couple of flurries of ice flakes, a little seat rumbling and, once, a random little squirt of water on everyone in the audience's knees.  If I had paid $4 or less, I would call it worth it.