If you’re willing to wait out in the rain at the side of a re-purposed Airstream for your lunch, it must be pretty special.
And, if the person waiting in the rain is one of your best customers, getting ready to load up because he’s going out of town on a job and won’t be back for a few days, it must be very special!
Welcome to Papa’s Best Batch where “it’s all about the product”.
I spent a fun afternoon with Jonathan and Jody, buddies since their college days, at their original location, the iconic 1972 Airstream trailer they have parked at the edge of Grieg Farm in Red Hook where you can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful view.
This will be the 4th summer that they’ve had the trailer, and this year they’ve expanded with an additional food truck that will be parked at the Phantom Gardner in Rhinebeck for lunch and Crossroads Brewery in Catskill Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Jody, the chef, was an avid home cook. He had a smoker at home and was always playing around when he began seasoning and smoking nuts. He started packaging them and you can now find Papa’s Best Batch smoked almonds and pistachios online and in more than 80 stores throughout the Hudson Valley.
He figured that while he was hanging around waiting for the nuts to smoke, he’d open a food truck. It quickly took off --he was selling more from the food truck and trying to keep up with the nut production.
The secret to the sammiches (“a sandwich but better”) and everything on the menu, is that at least one ingredient is straight from a pair of rustic looking smokers, aptly named Smokey and the Bandit, or Cheech and Chong, depending on the day.
Jody and Jonathan gave me a sampling (okay, full portions) of everything on the menu and it was all great!
The stars of the menu are the brisket and smoked salmon sammiches. The brisket was a hit from the start “it’s a bizarre Ruben, is what it is” with smoked brisket, homemade slaw, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. Not bizarre--definitely delicious!
The smoked salmon is marinated and hot smoked. It’s served with a schmear of cream cheese and some pureed capers. Jody is a stickler for the spreads covering the entire surface of the bread, so you can be sure that every bite will have all the toppings. It’s a great sandwich with the smokiness of the salmon, the salt from the capers and the creaminess of the cream cheese.
An unusual item are the smoked deviled eggs. Jody hard-boils the eggs, then takes the whites and smokes them. It gives the whites a nice smoky flavor which is enhanced by the slightly “zippy” filling.
There’s a wonderful smoked chicken salad—smoked chicken tossed in pesto and topped with shaved Asiago cheese.
The hummus was one of the best I’ve ever had and actually got better the next day, when I came home, took a bite from the container and shortly (and happily) devoured the rest of it. The extra day gave the smoked chickpeas a chance to really develop their flavor and shine.
Out of kindness to my waistline, I was served the chicken salad and hummus straight-up, but they would normally come on one of the signature soft ciabatta rolls and every sammich comes with your choice of homemade coleslaw or potato salad.
Jody says “I make food that I think is awesome” and I agree! It’s definitely “good food in a good spot, served by a couple of good guys”.
Check out their website for hours and locations, or their Facebook page for updates.
The food trucks are out from mid-April to Halloween, nuts are available year-round and their garlic smoked jerky is exclusively at the food trucks.
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Red Hook, Rhinebeck & Catskill