By Chelsea Karnash
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Whether it’s grilled cheese or mac and cheese, there’s no shortage of Philadelphia food trucks that revolve around America’s favorite dairy product. Now, a new mobile food operation is rolling into town, offering something that would make Miss Muffet drool: fried cheese curds.
“My wife is a psychologist from Chicago. She spent her childhood in Illinois, about a mile from the Wisconsin border. She’s determined to make cheese curds as well-known and beloved on the East Coast as they are in the Midwest,” explains Rob Mitchell, who – along with wife, Laura – will be helming the truck, called “The Cow and the Curd.”
For those not in the know, Mitchell explains that a cheese “curd” is essentially cheese in its most natural state – after it’s been separated from whey and before it’s mixed with preservatives and shaped into wheels. Curds, he says, are a common snack in Wisconsin, whether fresh or fried, and a fried cheese curd is just what it sounds like: a delicious chunk of cheese that’s battered then fried.
While the duo initially considered sourcing their cheese from local dairy farms, Rob says the Philadelphia region is lacking in facilities with the necessary equipment.
“The process of large scale cheese curd production occurs only in cheese factories,” Mitchell explains, which is why people in our area aren’t as familiar with the tasty snack. The Cow and the Curd will get its supply of curds weekly, shipped directly from Wisconsin — “the cheese curd mecca.”
As for the actual product, Mitchell says the truck will serve two or three different kinds of cheese curds at a time, including classic white or yellow cheddar and a number of specialties such as chipotle, tomato basil, dill and garlic. There will also be a selection of gourmet dipping sauces like sriracha aioli, smoked ketchup and chipotle ranch available, as well as Sprecher Soda’s root beer and cream sodas.
And customers should expect super high-quality curds:
“Laura and I have spent considerable time in Wisconsin exploring different cheese producers, sampling innumerable recipes and interviewing countless chefs. After getting back home with an improved game plan, we hired Chef Mark Tropea to develop our hand battered recipe – and he’s nailed it!” Rob says.
So far, hungry Philadelphians seem to agree. The Cow and the Curd debuted this past Saturday at Bottle Bar East, and Mitchell says that despite the frigid weather, there was a large crowd.
“The reaction was overwhelming. Saturday was a slam dunk from start to finish,” he says, adding that they also tested the corner of Girard & Frankford in Fishtown after the event.
While the Mitchells are considering having The Cow and the Curd roaming the streets of Philly every day, they say they’re still wading through the city’s legal hurdles, which are “fairly prohibitive for food trucks.” Currently, the plan is to stick to seasonal and food-centric events, like the one at Bottle Bar.