Thursday, July 28, 2011

Disaster in the Park

When it was all said and done I sent my friend a text that said "We need cocktails."

Her reply: "You're telling me. It's like instant punishment for even THINKING about fun."

Last night I was so excited to go to a local event that just started here in Ft. Lauderdale called Gourmet in the Park where all of the trendy food trucks so popular in Miami head up our way so all of us here in Broward can see what the fuss is all about. Couldn't wait to go because I've heard so much about these trucks and really, I haven't done all that much in public in the past nine months. Now the baby is getting to the point where she likes going out, so I'm starting to venture forth and discover a new kind of social life for myself. I thought this would be a good event to attend. It's outside, we can walk around and we could come and go on our own schedule. Plus, grilled cheeses, nachos, cupcakes, burgers, BBQ!! I was ready for some grease and sugar.

My sister went with her baby too. It took us a good twenty minutes to jam the double stroller into her trunk. We'd never folded the thing up before and it's the size of a golf cart and we probably should have read the manual, but whatever.

Gourmet in the Park is at Esplanade Park on the New River in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. It's a lovely location across from the Museum of Science where the IMAX theater is and is close to Las Olas Boulevard and the downtown area where all the clubs are. I haven't been to that part of town in ages.

My husband went there straight from work and we all met up with a friend of mine, J, who has a baby, a six year old and a little wiry-haired dog. Little did I know what a recipe for disaster four children and a dog could be.

But let's discuss the actual event first. The good thing is that it was cloudy and therefore less hot than it would have been with sun even in the evening. The bad thing is everything else.

My friend explained the problem perfectly. The food trucks are a victim of their own success. The event was too crowded for the cooks in the trucks to handle the number of orders they were getting. There were several trucks, but not enough to handle several thousand hungry people at once and really, those trucks aren't meant to serve such throngs coming at them all at one time. The lines were ridiculous and the trucks were all clearly in the weeds, taking more orders than they could get out. This caused a situation where there were two long lines for the starved - one to place your order and one to actually wait for your food to come out. Waits at each truck were averaging around an hour. For a four hour event with many trucks to visit, it just wasn't possible to sample much of anything except standing in line and I didn't see anyone who wasn't aggravated. Worst of all, I didn't see anyone actually eating anything and Gourmet in the Park is supposed to be about food! My husband and my friend's husband thought maybe the beer line would be faster because there was nothing to prepare, but the beer line was over 200 people long.

I can't write about this evening without discussing the live music. I love the idea of live music at festivals, but the band they had playing last night just didn't fit the crowd. People who eat a lunch trucks are pretty hip types overall and the band was like something out of a Christopher Guest movie. My husband asked me what was up with the Peter, Paul and Mary cover band and I said I thought it was a scene from A Mighty Wind. Maybe next time they can get something a little more, well, festive? Current?

I really wanted to support the food trucks and I was dying for something delicious, but it was just too crowded and you know, I have bread, butter and cheese at home. Why wait an hour in the humidity for a grilled cheese sandwich? It wasn't worth it, so my sister and I decided to leave and on the way home we stopped at Chipotle and had dinner done in all of about five minutes. On the way home, both babies decided to have nuclear meltdowns in their car seats. Once home, Baby Lawns decided to pee in her crib (don't ask and yes it was my fault), spit up and then poop immediately after I'd given her a bath and after all that my husband still wasn't home, so I called him and he described a scene of chaos and devastation that made me very glad I left when I did.

Since we drove separately, my husband had to go back to our friend's house to get his car. It was a 15 minute walk away and my sister and I had parked easily for five dollars at the park. Husband and his friend went back to our friend's house. My friend J wanted to stay and try to get some food and her husband told her that he wanted her to have a good time and that he would take their two kids home. My husband went with him. They were going to entertain the two kids and have a quick beer before my husband came home to me. Well, this didn't happen because on the way home, the six year old, who had had a cupcake, became violently ill all over himself. There was vomit. There was diarrhea. It wasn't pleasant. Two men, a baby, a sick child and a dog. It sounds like a scene from a bad comedy. My husband said it was like The Hangover if The Hangover had been a kids movie and the way he tells it, I'm surprised there wasn't a tiger involved too. J's Husband panicked and called J to come home while he tried to corral the sick son in the bathroom, but he didn't get him there in time before he puked all over a foot stool in their living room. My husband ended up hiding in the kitchen trying to entertain their baby boy, who naturally freaked because he was in the company of a total stranger and his mom was nowhere around. While my husband was trying to get the baby to stop screaming and while J's husband was trying to tend to puky poop boy, the dog decides to jump up on the foot stool and lick the throw up. Of course the dog then got vomit in its paws and tracked it all over the carpet and my husband couldn't stop it because he was trying to deal with our friends' angry baby.

Poor J had just gotten some food and a beer when her husband called, so she rushed home to put everything back together again and when she arrived, my poor husband finally came home where he took a much needed shower and then cooked himself three shrimp tacos from stuff we already had.

In all, the night was a total disaster. No one got to eat any food from the trucks and the only person who did (the six year old) came down with a nasty case of food poisoning. I think the next time they have Gourmet in the Park, I'll invite J and her husband over, get a case of Stella, make everyone grilled cheeses and whip up a batch of cupcakes right here at home. Where it's safe.


Hey! My Sock! said...

I live in NYC where they like to occasionally have these outdoor food events. I've always wanted to go to one, but whenever I talk to someone who has been the story always ends with, "...and I stood in line for an hour only to be told they were out of food." And this is after paying some crazy fee for food tickets.

rosie-b said...

Gawd, that sounds awful! I've never been to one of those things and I don't think I will now. :P

JoeinVegas said...

You could call it 'food in the kitchen' or something

jmm said...

They had a similar event here in Austin, and I heard it was impossible to get any food.

Head Ant said...

We have a wonderful Greek fest here that I would love to take the kids to; but it's always so hot and the crowds get bigger every year. There is always an hour plus line to get the desserts which, in my opinion, the reason I go.

Miss Kitty said...

LOLOLOLOL!!! Oh, WL, I know this was a complete disaster, but the way you tell it is HILARIOUS!

Damn, but I do love hole-in-the-wall food and food trucks. And I also love Chipotle. Don't judge, y'all...I live in Small Town, GA, two hours from Atlanta AND from the nearest Chipotle. And if I lived near a Chipotle, I'd eat there all the time. When I go visit my sister in Denver, we have to eat at Chipotle at least twice in a week. Minimum.

BTW, your broken RSS feed from six weeks ago is now "fixed." I'm getting Dashboard updates telling me about "new" posts that you actually wrote in mid-July. WTF?

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