In this crazy Liz Lemon world that we have all succumbed to, it makes great sense that Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck, another new member of the local street food community, should weather the rain with aplomb.
Familiarity's the sort of stuff you seek out in the rain. Cindy Hamilton, nee "Mom," offers it by the tonnage. She runs the truck much like a neighbourhood diner, eager to learn your name and pleased to give the gift of gab. It's the sort of energy that can run for miles, which is great for a food truck specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches, since there's really only so much one can stretch melted cheese between sliced bread.
Of course, if you count the variations of cheese, bread and add-ons, the combinations can be endless: $5.50 gets you a classic sandwich, with your choice of cheese (cheddar, havarti, pepper jack, swiss, or $0.75 more for vegan daiya) and bread (white, multigrain, sourdough, marbled rye, or $0.75 more for gluten free), accompanied by potato chips and a pickle. Take it a step beyond for $0.50, with either onion, tomato or dill pickle, or for $1.50, with either double cheese, double smoked bacon or a splash of chili. Each is brushed with oil before grilling, weighted down on the flat top with a grill press, slightly charred but with a crisp that will last the walk back to the office on a rainy day.
Order the pepperjack with bacon on multigrain (pictured above), and Mom gushes about the combination. "Well, I've never even thought of that," she says. She says that a lot, to everyone.
Of the combos she has thought of, two go for $8.50 (again, with potato chips and a pickle). Try the meatloaf sandwich, not quite a grilled cheese but certainly friendly towards it: the meatloaf is well-seasoned with basil and fennel seed, with just enough melted mozza and parmesan, and a touch of marinara. It's amazingly balanced for what could have easily been a overwrought nightmare, a perfect example of how good comfort food can often be deceptively simple in the right hands. The sandwich divides and conquers: plan for an afternoon nap shortly after, or bring a person to share.
There are further sides (including a serviceable tomato soup with a dollop of basil mascarpone cream, $1 for a shot, $3.50 for a cup), of which I'd only recommend if you're skipping the sandwich. Of course, "Mom" may offer a sample while you're waiting in the rain for your order. You'd be wise to take it, fuel for a patient wait, while all the passers-by stop for a split second, stare, and mutter, "I want to go to there."
Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck
Howe Street at W.Georgia Street, by the Vancouver Art Gallery
(as with all food trucks, note that locations may vary over time)