If you’ve ever visited southern California or the Pacific Northwest, the idea of food trucks would be just part of your consciousness. Walking around any decently sized city, near parks and sidled up to breweries, food trucks are just a part of the culture. It’s a low-rent way of bringing tasty specialty or ethnic food to new neighborhoods without having to buy a space – or pay for wait staff. Trucks featuring everything from tacos, burgers and pizza to sushi and even cupcakes are just… expected. And perhaps the niche they fill is perfect – inexpensive variety in a fun and casual atmosphere. A win all around.
Until recently, however, Maine has not been able to enjoy the creative and funky foods from mobile vehicles. But recent rule changes have allowed a small fleet of trucks to start spreading out throughout the city, albeit to limited locations and times. As exciting as that is, it takes a few more partnerships before the “food truck culture” will sweep Portland. And this weekend, I think I witnessed a perfect union between two community-focused businesses – breweries and food trucks – as executed by Rising Tide Brewing in East Bayside.
Every Saturday this summer, Rising Tide has invited a different food truck in the fleet to appear from 12-5 and hang out at the brewery. This weekend was the debut of this effort, and featured Pizza Pie on the Fly, a brick oven on wheels that can “deliver” wood-fired deliciousness anywhere it is parked. Being a little more familiar with the greasy fast-food like trucks, I was very curious how this type of truck would work, and how the brewery could complement their efforts.
I arrived at the brewery a little after 1pm on an absolutely beautiful spring afternoon. I saw the truck, parked a little offset from the brewery entrance, was fired up and ready, and several delicious pizzas awaited consumption. A decent crowd, including a pack of beer enthusiasts from the Maine Beer Tour bus, chatted and played corn hole in the fresh sunlight and light breeze.
I ordered a slice of Tomato Basil Mozzarella, that had left the brick oven only minutes ago. As I took a bite, I watched as the Pizza Pie on the Fly crew took handfuls of bright, fresh ingredients and piled them onto another pizza, deftly sliding it into the oven, like a beautiful choreography.
The taste was just what I was craving. This wasn’t your typical tomato/basil slice with a sparse application of basil, but was instead brimming with fresh tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, featured great heaps of cheese, as well as some sea salt to add a little salty bite. Just right.
I went inside and grabbed a small pour of Daymark, and followed it with Rising Tide’s newest beer, Spinnaker Hefeweizen. While I sipped on the hefeweizen, Heather Sanborn lead the group in a tour, and we learned about the humble beginnings of the brewery and their process. While this information wasn’t particularly new to me, there was something fulfilling about seeing the people who had never visited before light up in understanding.
These two handcrafted items – craft beer and hand made pizza – are just a match that works. On a broader level, it’s the union of independent and young entrepreneurs that have a passion for community.
The combination of great comfort-style food and inexpensive samples of beer from the brewery, with the chance to hang out at a local neighborhood business only serves to strengthen that community feeling. The brewery was alive with chatter, laughter, pizza and beer, on a day that was all sunlight and welcoming.
Each Saturday this summer, a different truck will be stopping by the brewery for a similar event, from 12-5pm. While each may bring a different type of food, I hope that each continues to bring the spirit of East Bayside with it.