Local carts are hitting area events and wineries, enjoying mobility

While the sun and its triple-digit emanation kept many people from turning out to the Newberg Farmers Market last week, those who showed up were privy to a visible indication of the food cart industry gaining local momentum as two new mobile eateries showed up for their first appearances at the venue.

Artisan Peacock, a mobile effort by Market Barrel and Darlin Vintage proprietors Alain and Tiffany Darwich, launched about a month ago and has been making the rounds at regional wineries ever since.GARY ALLEN - Keeping cool - Cream Northwest proprietor Mike Roberts serves up some of his signature artisan ice cream during the Newberg Farmers Market last week. The food truck is one of several new additions to Newberg's growing cart population.

Last week marked their first attendance at the farmers market. While the cart did not meet its goal with Kickstarter funding, its owners are making it work anyway and said there has been positive reaction so far.

“There’s no lack of enthusiasm,” Alain Darwich said.

The couple came up with the idea for a food cart that would market itself to the wine country crowd that often finds itself without food options while touring the winery circuit, and instead is left with options not befitting a day sipping wine. With the mobility of a cart, Artisan Peacock can bring the artisanal food to the wineries.

In between tasting rooms, though, the cart is making appearances at local standbys like the farmers market and Tunes on Tuesday.

Nearby at the farmers market a line formed in front of a bright orange cart. The line was understandable given the hot, muggy conditions of the day combined with the cart’s offering: artisanal homemade ice cream.

The orange cart of Cream Northwest had finished construction about a week prior to the farmers market, had received its permits a couple days later and had operated its first day July 24. For proprietors Mike Roberts and Helen Voong, it was a bit of a whirlwind but they were quickly getting the hang of running the mobile business.

“It was the biggest rush I’ve ever seen,” Roberts said of their opening day.

While the ice cream is homemade — including fresh waffle cones cooked and shaped as they are ordered — its localness doesn’t stop there. The flavors are also sourced locally, sometimes by the cart proprietors themselves. A blackberry and sage flavor, for instance, came from berries picked by Roberts and Voong the day before the farmers market. The menu flavors will change based on whatever is in season and available.

“Every day we’re going to change them,” Roberts said. “It’s already changed twice.”

In a similar vein, Artisan Peacock has an evolving menu, which works out well as the cart is always on the move.

“We can tailor our menu to wineries,” Darwich explained. “We’ll work with the winemakers to actually come up with a seasonal menu.”

Some of the upcoming offerings are planned to include Syrian kebabs and Indian Tanjoori chicken, inspiration that comes from Darwich’s heritage as well as that of his business partner.

As the carts get off the ground and into the day-to-day food truck schedule, they still look to the future and have some ideas about where the food cart scene in Newberg will go. There’s nothing confirmed and no location given, but Darwich hinted that a food cart pod — a piece of property that hosts a collection of food carts — could be in the downtown area’s future.

Enough food carts have opened up in the area that such a concept could be supported. But in the meantime, the carts have the freedom to pack up and move on if the day’s location doesn’t yield customers.

“For the time being, it’s trial and error and getting the word out,” Helen Voong said.

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