Baltimore's Best: The Gathering, Not Your Average Food Festival


Behind all the fashion and beauty there is a hardcore foodie living inside me and last weekend I had the pleasure of merging food with one of my other loves.

Thats right blogging and food were brought together into one night of tantalizing tastes and sociability when I covered "The Gathering" one of my favorite reoccurring foodie events here in Baltimore.

Now I'm sure when you think of a foodie event you imagine someone sitting in a lavish restaurant sipping on a glass of the most expensive wine and dining off of fine china at 100 dollars a plate.

Well this soooooo not that type of party.  

The K.P Staker from Kommie Pig
Trade in your visions of a restaurant for a food truck in a park, that expensive wine is a nice cold beer oh and your 100 dollar plate is a reasonable 10 bucks. Sound good to you? Because it sounds great to me and everyone else who has ever attended The Gathering or visited one of its many food truck regulars on their weekly routes.



Food trucks here in Baltimore are KING and I'm not talking about your everyday regular hot dog and sub stands. No, those are a thing of the past im talking about real live chefs serving gourmet food from all across the world and taste combinations that will knock your socks off.

Trust me if you hear the words food truck and all you can imagine is a slightly over or under cooked burger, you need to get yourself down to The Gathering ASAP because you have no idea what your missing!

 So what exactly is The Gathering?


To explain it simply The Gathering is a weekly food truck festival that takes place here in Baltimore from March to Novemember. The events feature more that a dozen food trucks from the greater Baltimore Metropolitan area along with live music, a full on site bar and a variety of games for kids and other entertainment or live acts.

Food trucks and their rallys like The Gathering have quickly become a part of Balttimore culture. Many Baltimore residents and those from surrounding areas in the DMV have been turned into over night or should I say made into one bite fans of everything food truck.

Andre of Kommi Pig helping a little boy to his free soda.
"I never charge kids or dogs"- Andre
People look forward to The Gatherings weekly rallys throughout the summer, its an environment where the whole family can have fun. The Gathering supports and promotes positivity, Baltimore pride, buying local along with unity and a sense of community in a town that may not always show it. People from all walks of life and socioeconomic status's come together to enjoy and experience new flavors, groove to music or just take in Baltimore at whatever beautiful location The Gathering has set up shop without ever giving one thought to their differences. Its a stress reliever, a much needed break at the end of your long week and more than anything exactly what this city needs.

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This past Gathering was held at the War Memorial Plaza and honestly this may have been one of the best yet! 

The live band was Let The Monkey Go who's members are made up of.....wait for it lol George Clintons P. Funk and Parliament and they defiantly kept the party going. People were dancing the whole from the littlest of babies to gown folk, everyone that had a groove thang was shaking it.

There were also face painters on site to be enjoyed by the kids


and all those young at heart =)
 

 Also in attendance were arial artist, showing off their skills high above the heads of patrons as they lounged on the lawn below. Having arial artist was a first for The Gathering but I hope its not the last. I was completely blown away at the performance. This was my first time ever seeing an arial show live and it was spectacular. She was so beautiful and graceful. She made every move look like a work of art...and completely effortless might I add. 


Ive always wanted to try this but the fear of falling alone is enough to scare me off, I mean come on theres no net, no harness, I'm clumsy. Clearly a set up for disaster but koudos to her!

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Also at The Gathering were members of the I Am Love Project. Haven't heard of them? No worries. They are local a group of people here in Baltimore who's sole goals are to put smiles on the faces of every person that crosses their path and spread the message of love. Carrying signs with motivational messages like "You are loved" and greeting people with warm smiles and free hugs as people entered The Gathering each member of the I Am Love project volunteers their time to promote happiness, love, equality and much more.

"All it takes is a little cardboard, a pen and love...its so simple"- Sarah
I got the chance to sit down with one of the founders Sarah. She explained that the whole idea behind the I Am Love Project came to be all by chance one night at a show. Sarah and her fellow co-founder Johnny were on their way in when they spotted a group of people protesting close to the show. She said "there were so many people holding signs filled with nothing but hatred" it was sad. After that experience their imaginations were sparked with something revolutionary. "We came up with the concept to do the same thing, but instead of protesting or spewing hate, we professed our love for everybody" Its such a simple idea right? Its almost crazy to think it as revolutionary. How cant there not more people doing this? Its genius.


We are quick to fight hate with hate or protest from points of anger or unrest when the power of love is so much stronger and comes long before any of those feelings. Sarah went on to say that "we share 99.9 percent of the same DNA, every single human does. So there is so much more keeping us together and united than there ever is keeping us apart and different"


Its really warms your heart to see people so committed to just making others feel good. This is only the I Am Love projects third appearance here in Baltimore however they are quickly growing in popularity on their Facebook page which you can find HERE they are already getting asked to make appearances at events overseas! Happiness is such a contagious feeling and it should be spread. Sarah hopes to eventually branch out and possibly have independent chapters all across the world working to promote all things positive!

After chatting it up it was time to get down to business.....food business that is, my tummy was grumbling and there were a lot of trucks at The Gathering this time around who I had never seen before and I was in the mood to branch out and give some new trucks a try.

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The first tuck that caught my eye was called side dish, from where I was standing I couldn't see exactly what they had to offer but it seemed unlike others. I could see from across the lawn that you could actually go inside this one so I headed over. 

However when I got closer I could see that it wasnt a food truck at all.


It was an acessorie truck!!!

I stepped in and there I was face to face with tons of sparkling bracelets, earrings, colorful purses and bags....SHOPPING HEAVEN. Of course I then understood the name of the truck, side dish not like a foods side dish but an outfits side dish (the accessories).


I was greeted and welcomed into the truck that was filled with "no calorie treats" lol. I'm sure the owners could tell that I was a little confused I mean I walked in expecting food but....hey I'm a girl lol  amazing jewelry works too.


Leading with the tag line "The other trucks are food" SideDish is defiantly unique. I had heard about fashion trucks before but all that I had seen in the past were clothing. Side Dish carries an assortment of trendy accessories to satisfy even the pickiest fashionistas appetite.

SideDish limits the amount of each piece they carry, there is nothing worse than finding an item you love and then seeing on the next girl walking down the street. With SideDish that will be the least of your worries =)

While carrying many of the latest trends in contemporary fashion jewelry and accessories, they also carry the classically modern jewelry collection of ECB Vintage and some select handmade designs by Tracey Beale Jewelry.


Also for all my budget conscious pretty girls out there, have no fear I checked it out and Side Dish is SUPER reasonably priced *thumbs up* so if your in the Baltimore area be sure to check their Instagram @Sidedish_mobile to see where they will be next or catch the trends online HERE

Oh and you'll defiantly be seeing more with me and SideDish in the near future =)

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After leaving SideDish it was back on the hunt for some tasty treats....the edible kind, because clearly a girl can not live on accessories alone lol. I got in line at my fave truck The Gypsy Queen, my love affair with their Crab cone started 2 years ago when I was first introduced to food trucks by my mom.  She had suggested that I try a "crab cone" from a food truck that had started parking across the street from her job not to long ago. I of course, thinking of all the traditional food carts that park by her job I was completely against the idea. "Why would I ever eat crab thats cooked in a truck on the street?!" She again insisted I try it saying "all my co-workers love it". I continued to refuse her advances until she said the magic words "ill treat". At that point I figured what was the worst that could happen? She's paying and if I get sick I was at a hospital lol. 

We went over to The Gypsy Queen and I ordered the crab cone as recommend and waited. To my surprise the line was pretty long and growing, defiantly not something you saw at regular food carts unless you were standing outside an O's game, so naturally my curiosity built. About 5 minuets later I was handed a waffle cone stuffed with old bay fries, topped with a plump crab cake and a creamy sauce. I grabbed a fork and took my first bite making sure to get a little of everything and...well we can just say from that moment on it was history. There was CLEARLY no longer any other way to eat a crab cake.


Although I have tried other things the crab cone is always my go to dish from the Gypsy Queen and that doesn't just go for me. If you ever find yourself staring at a Gypsy Queen menu...well first take the advice of owner Annmarrie "if you see a line, get in it" second ask anyone in that line what they recommend and 9 times out of 10 it will be the crab cone it is a fan favorite and will always leave your tummy full and your tastebuds happy!

I had one crab cone down but the night was far from over...there were still more trucks to try!

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Just a litte puppy love
Thats another thing I love about The Gathering, you don't have to just settle on one thing, try a little of everything! Mix it up a bit! Not sure what you want? Cant decide? Dont worry get it all! Sliders and  crab cakes and asian food! OH MY! Show everyone some love =)


Speaking of sliders one of the next trucks I visited was Up Slide Down Dave. I was originally drawn to the truck because of the mustache logo on the side, my boyfriend however went for the burgers lol. While he was ordering I took it upon myself to ask a few questions. I hadn't seen this truck before and was curious as to when they had opened.  

Turns out the Up Slide Down Dave truck is actually based out of the Burtonsville/Columbia Maryland area but they find their way down to good ol' Bmore every Tuesday and Friday. The truck caters to the classic all American love that is the burger, or slider depending on your appetite and they have a different one to fit every taste.

Dave himself (who actually has a mustache might I add) said "we welcome everyone who wants to come out to the truck we love having smiling faces before and after they receive their food"


They pride themselves on being consistent, "Everything comes out the same every time. So if you had a great burger before your going to have a great burger again".

By time the I was done playing 20 questions, Dave was handing my boyfriend his sliders.


They looked delicious however I don't eat beef sooooo I couldn't have any. Apparently along with a super cool mustache Dave has super hearing lol he overheard me saying I couldn't try the slider because I don't eat beef so he told me not to worry he had something special coming up for me.


A few mins later he handed me a Portobello mushroom slider complete with mozzarella cheese, onions and a little touch of Heaven. I was in complete shock, one from his generosity and two from the taste!!!!! When I say this may have been the best burger I have ever eaten I'm soooo serious and YES Portobello mushrooms count as a burger!

You can really tell that the folks at Up Slide Down Dave  have great passion in what they serve and they make sure that everything is perfect from front to back! Be sure to check them out on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE to keep up to date with where they are headed.

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One of our last stops for the night was at a truck called Sexy Vegie, yes....Sexy Vegie.
Let me just tell you Vegies can be very sexy, and yummy too! My boyfriend had made quick friends with the owners when we saw them at another event a few weeks back, he had scouted them out for an upcoming project that he was working on. I however was surprised to see them at The Gathering,  I mean its not every day that you come across a completely vegan food truck.

I later found out that didn't all start out that way.

Last year Sexy Vegie was actually a grill cheese truck (one of my favorite comfort foods) however as the owners lifestyle changed, so did the trucks. The transition for owner Ashwini was easy she explained, prior to the revamp she wasn't eating very much meat anyway so naturally the change to her truck made sense.

Sooooo what do you get to eat at a vegan food truck if you you ask? The Banh Mi by the chefs recommendation "its by far the best thing we serve, because even though its not pork it taste a lot like it so people are always surprised"

Me being the sceptic that I am had to try a taste on for size. I mean I LOVE pork so when anyone claims they can make something thats not pork taste as good as pork...ill take them up on the challenge.
 I tried a taste of the "pork less piggy" as they called it and honestly if you didn't tell me that I wasn't eating pork, I probably wouldn't have had any idea at all. It was that convincing, from texture to taste I dare anyone to try it and not be pleased. Hey you may even go vegan! Which has its benefits I'm told, Ashwini let me know that going vegan leaves your body and mind feeling more energized. For those trying to make the transition to vegan Ashwini suggested to start by going vegetarian and then because its a hard especially if your used to going out a lot you need the transition time to learn recipes and condition your body for the change.

I was super happy I got to talk to the Sexy Vegie truck, I admit its not a truck that I would normally approach on my own but I'm glad I went over, I left feeling informed, a bit healthier and dare I say energized? The next time you see Sexy Vegie out go give the pork less piggy a try and tell them Deanna of The Pretty Girls Guide sent you!

You can find follow Sexy Veggie on Facebook Here and Twitter Here

After our vegan experience our night was coming to a close, our tummies were full our feet were tired and I personally was ready for a nap!



But don't think just because I was turning in that the party was stopping. Not at all Let The Monkey Go was still jamming, people were still partying and others enjoying the night air and good conversation as they finished their food.


and see thats what The Gathering is really all about the simple things in life. Good food, great people and a good atmosphere.


If you miss this past Gathering and you want to experience this all for yourself don't worry your chance to taste all that Baltimore has to offer is coming again!


Where can you catch The Gathering next?
May 18th Bikejam 14
May 23rd Metro Centre

And then all of the previous Gatherings will culminate at the holy grail of all food truck rally's on May 31st in M&T Stadium at The Taste Of Three Cities where 50+ food trucks from Bmore, Philly and DC will be going head to head in a good ol fashion cook off to see which city reins supreme and who shall be named the best darn food ever!

You can find out more about The Taste Of Three Cities and purchase tickets HERE

You know I will be there the question is will you? If you see me don't forget to come say hi!


Until then....stay hungry my friends (unless your in a line at a food truck)
XO, Deanna

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