Go out for lunch with Tori: Nate’s cart

May heralds the arrival of greener grass, blooming flowers, and food trucks that appear at local events.

As the Midland Area Farmers Market started its season last Saturday, I thought it was time to visit one of my good friends and support her son’s business.

Dozens of vendors flocked to the first farmer’s market of the season. There were stalls of hanging flowers, fresh meats and cheeses – the queue for a cheesemonger was the longest I’ve seen that day – and baked goods. I arrived around noon, strolled the aisles and bought a muffin from a baker before heading to Nate’s Cart.

Nate’s Cart is run by young Midland entrepreneur, Nate Surbrook, with his family helping with the operations. On Saturday, Nate and his father, Chris Surbrook, took the controls while his mother, Eileen, was in the cart.

Nate’s Cart offers a selection of hot dogs, some with sauerkraut, others with bacon, onions, or drizzled with mustard. Usually I’m good with just a regular dog with no trimmings – I admit I can be quite boring in my food preferences at times. On this particularly windy day, however, I was drawn to the chili cheese dog.

I asked Chris about the chili and he explained to me that it was meat sauce with no beans. This lifted my spirits considerably – the beans and I have a difficult relationship – so I placed an order for a chili cheese dog.

It may seem painfully obvious, but eating a meal at a food truck is radically different from eating out. With food trucks, you sometimes have the opportunity to talk to the cooks while they prepare your meal, perhaps making you a new friend. Seating options can be limited and you don’t have the luxury of having a hostess offer you a table; therefore, you must be willing to be patient or flexible enough to eat your food on the go.

Then there is the weather. With a complexion that can go from ghostly white to lobster red in minutes, I’m ready to eat outdoors only with the availability of shade. When I received my order, I saw that the only option for seating was three tables completely exposed to the wind and sun. Luckily, Eileen offered the back of Nate’s cart, where a single high table was placed under a tent. She literally saved my skin.

Eating a chili cheese hot dog while handling a stack of towels in a high wind is a recipe for a big mess if I’ve ever heard of it; I can’t even imagine how the Surbrooks settled down with strong gusts of wind coming in randomly. Call it skill or sheer luck, but I managed to finish my meal without a drop of spilled pepper, and enjoyed every minute of it. .

Victoria Ritter scours the Midland region for the best places to eat. Revisit her culinary adventures at ourmidland.com.

The sausage itself was juicy and the casing was crispy. The chili was barely spicy but gave a nice flavor that didn’t overpower the hot dog itself. The shredded cheddar cheese was a nice touch, melting in a lattice-like pattern over the chili. By the end of the meal, I felt full enough to be satisfied, but not so stuffed that I couldn’t take another walk through the market. For me, it was a perfect start to the farmer’s market season.

Food truck operators like the Surbrooks have earned my respect. They work in a space a fraction of the size of regular restaurant kitchens, rain or shine, or even strong winds, and they set up and put away wherever they go. Through it all, they are dedicated to providing the highest quality food possible.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Nate’s Cart at the Midland Area Farmers Market and other events throughout the summer. I plan to explore more food trucks this summer and try their mobile culinary delights. Cheers!

Editor’s note: Out to Lunch with Tori will appear every Thursday in the Midland Daily News. Victoria (Tori) Ritter can be reached at [email protected]