charlies1.jpg
It's holiday time! Which also means that for me, it's family time. Which also means that I'm often asked questions about my post-college plans like:

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The Top Three Truck Stops of 2011

charlies1.jpg
It's holiday time! Which also means that for me, it's family time. Which also means that I'm often asked questions about my post-college plans like: "So, er, what's next?" As if I have the slightest idea. Usually I field these types of questions with vague mumblings about my ideal job, or about how I'm so terrified to graduate and enter into the real world. (Cue a long-winded conversation about the economy and rates of unemployment). Other times, I'll instead talk about things that I already do, like, say, write a weekly food column about food trucks. And my relatives always, always respond with: "Ohh, so what's the best truck you've eaten at?"

And to be honest, I can never easily answer that question, either. There are just too many awesome trucks rolling around this rainy city to choose just one as The Very Best, but I've narrowed my truck stops to a sturdy top three -- mostly by how memorable they've been.

Charlies Buns 'N Stuff was the first truck to impress me. It wooed me with its tasty, unforgettable balls -- buffalo chicken cheese balls -- and left me craving more. These two-inch in diameter fried cheese balls, stuffed with shredded chicken and coated with a layer of bread crumbs, are gooey, piping-hot, fiery-hot globs that this columnist can't forget about. Other notables are the peanut butter sliders, which have bacon, peanut butter, and grilled onions atop a hand-formed beef patty. The coconut chicken sliders also pair sweet and salty, with coleslaw and sweet chili sauce -- the Asian flare you wanted.

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Photo courtesy of streettreatswa.com.
Street Treats -- you know, the one that serves ice cream cookie sandwiches -- is another truck I haven't and won't forget about. Yeah, ice cream sandwiches are nothing new to trucks -- but homemade ice cream sandwiches, with freshly-baked cookies and freshly-churned ice cream is a treat of its own. If you think it's too cold for ice cream, you can order cookie sandwiches sans ice cream. The sugar cookie with toasted coconut and homemade caramel filling is buttery, sweet, and chewy. They're like Grandma's fanciest holiday cookies, but way better. The salted brown butter rice krispy treats are one of the most popular things on the menu -- sweet and salty, and stick-to-your-teeth good.

And for barbecue that reminds you of Thanksgiving, you need to stop at Raney Brother's BBQ. The pulled pork sandwiches, topped with creamy, crunchy red cabbage slaw and grilled onions, are the type of food that'll have you drooling for days. The pulled pork, seasoned with a dry rub for 24 hours and then smoked for 12 hours using cherry or apple wood from Wenatchee, is owner Paul Raney's pride and joys. He refers to it as "northwest style barbecue."

I'm looking forward to more truck stops that'll have me craving menu items weeks later. Bring it, 2012.

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