As part of the Must Love Festivals Team, I travelled to my home country The Netherlands last week! Not to Amsterdam this time, but a city just one hour away (that I must admit to my shame I’d never visited before): ‘s-Gravenhage, or as we usually say: Den Haag (or maybe even as you probably know it: The Hague -we seem to like giving everything in our country as many different names as we can, just to confuse you).
Just in time for the last weekend of the Food Truck Festival TREK, I ate my way through the handmade produce of several mobile kitchens and soaked up the atmosphere that I always love so much on festivals.
Unfortunately, I also got to soak up some typical Dutch weather and got a massive cold that made me leave quite soon, but I did manage to find out just what the magic is behind this unique food truck festival and why I think you should definitely visit next year, so let’s have a look:
‘vrij entree’ (‘free entrance’)
The Rise of the Food Truck
In the Netherlands, the concept of the food truck is rather new. It used to be illegal to have one actually and apart from the fish stalls (selling the famous raw herring) and the stalls selling fries (‘patat’) & deep-fried goodies as kroketten and frikandellen, you would only really find a food truck at the markets or at a sports event, and then they were usually just practical and definitely not shaped in the fun and creative ways you can see at TREK. But since you can now get a licence as a food truck vendor, it’s becoming more and more popular.
Another popular food truck event in The Netherlands is the ‘Rollende Keukens‘ (‘Rolling Kitchens’), which is a yearly festival in Amsterdam also showcasing great mobile restaurants.
Food Trucks at TREK come in all shapes and sizes
Food Truck Festival TREK: The Highlights
To start off, the best thing about the TREK foodtruck festival is that it’s completely free. Sure, the food at the different stalls wasn’t very cheap, but because there were so many options, you can keep a good eye on what you spend and make a choice what to spend it on.
At the entrance, you can pick up you very own TREK environment-friendly hard plastic cup for €2,50, that will be rinsed and re-used every time you top up your drink at one of the stalls.
Another thing I liked about the TREK festival was the mix of different food and drink options, live music, theatre and cabaret. There was a great atmosphere -even when it started pooring down and there really was only one little tent that provided some cover.
The Magic of Food Trucks
I don’t know about you, but I find these gathering of food trucks such a great idea and this year I got to visit no less than three food truck festivals around Europe. One in Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava, Spain, one in Manchester, UK and now in Den Haag.
So what makes these type of food festivals so specials? Let’s have a closer look.
What I really like about all the different foodtrucks, is that they all chose a specialty dish to focus on. For example at TREK, there was a mobile kitchen selling Temaki (Sushi Handrolls) & Yakatori (Japanese Skewered Chicken), so not just Japanese food in general, not even ‘sushi’, no specially the handrolls and chicken skewers, nothing else. Another stall sold smoky BBQ burgers, but just three different variations. Yet another sold just Spanish Paella.
It’s this specialty that makes these mobile restaurants exciting for me, as the seller is (or a least seems to me) a real pro in his field. Another reason is because I simply HATE choosing from a menu, this makes life so much easier for me.
I loved this truck selling coconut balls (some mixed with chocolate)… soooo good (and still warm!)
There is a strong community around food trucks I’ve noticed. Because the setting of dining at a food truck is less formal than in your typical restaurant, it’s easy to strike up a conversation with others waiting in line or sitting next to you on picnic table benches.
And the best thing: you get to speak to the person actually preparing the food, learn more about their ideas behind the food truck and their passion for food in general. If they are locals, they are a great resource to ask for other restaurant (food truck!) recommendations and of course recipe tips.
The creative aspect of festivals is probably the main thing that attracts me to them. From the music to the festival food itself, the organisers have gone all out to create a unique vibe. I love how some mobile restaurant owners went creative on their names (‘Curry Up!’ and ‘Mister Maisguy’) and made sure their cars, trucks or caravans looked the best.
Some of the trucks even had their own entertainment, with a DJ, lounge area, face paint/photo booth and games section. There was also a podium where a live band was playing. Cool!
The Joy of Discovery
I guess what I like best about food trucks, is that you always discover something new to try out. Usually it’s food you’ve never even tasted before! As truck owners have all creative freedom, even with known kitchens, they usually give a spin to a dish that makes it unique to try out.
On top of that, as they only prepare food in small batches, it’s fresh and you won’t have to wait too long before being served! So you have time left to eat even more at other stalls :)
“Ik trek het niet meer – tot ziens!”, meaning “I’ve had enough – good bye!”
Food Truck Festival TREK Den Haag: Westbroekpark, Kapelweg, 2587 BK Den Haag
How to get there: From Amsterdam, take the intercity that goes directly to Den Haag Centraal (The Hague Central Station), it’s about 50 minutes. Check www.ns.nl for all information about trains.
From Den Haag Centraal, you go to the festival by bike of course! Need public transport? Take tram 9 (about 15 minutes from Central Station) Check www.htm.nl for all current information (when I was there, tram 9 was under construction, so they had replacement buses instead).
More information on Den Haag: All information on the website of the tourist board of Den Haag >> denhaag.com
Are you a festival fan? Curious to see more interesting festivals around the world? On the Must Love Festivals website, you will find the best tips for arts, culture, music, heritage, food, theatre, film, sport and many other festivals in over 15 countries in the world: mustlovefestivals.com
Do you love food trucks? Would you visit this Den Haag festival? Let know if so, and why!