Three months ago, we got word that Michael's Genuine line cook Aleric "AJ" Constantin planned to introduce a form of food delivery that would be new to Miami's epicurean scene. His concept: a food bicycle. Think ice-cream truck but with two wheels and powered by man.
An avid cyclist, AJ owns a car, but only out of necessity. He can't remember the last time he used it. His many bicycles are his standard form of transportation, and his latest wheeled acquisition will now also be his place of business.
At last week's Critical Mass, the bike activist ride taking place the last Friday of every month, AJ's Metrofiets bike joined for the first time. Weighting more than 150 pounds and beautifully constructed, it bears a temporary Sear'N Gears logo on the side.
As he made his way through the crowd to start in the front line, heads turned and eyes locked on the unusual bike that had a large compartment right smack in the middle of its two wheels. Although the compartment was empty, everyone had the same question: What's in the bike?
AJ and his gang of three friends and fellow cyclists surrounded him, guiding him through the race and deferring bike traffic, any possible encounters with the crowd, or cars. A car door to this contraption would seriously stifle his dream of a food-bicycle revolution. AJ and his bike boys socialized with the crowd, responding to the question of the evening with comic remarks like "puppies, Asian hookers, E.T." for what could be found in the mystery box. The real answer, however, is all-natural healthy ice cream. Well, isn't that what everyone wants after a 14-mile bike ride on a presummer evening? AJ knows this.
In fact, the entire focus of Sear'N Gears is bicycle events and bicycle-friendly environments. After pedaling 150 pounds for 14 miles, AJ left the crowd to load up the bike at the Corner, his ice-cream-making headquarters. Coolers stocked with free samples were ready and packaged. His flavor of the night: orange mango saffron ice cream with mint-infused whipped cream, made using all local and sustainable ingredients. His time with Michael Schwartz has done good for AJ. The free samples were well received, followed by intensive questioning of his mobile business' whereabouts, prices, and other flavorful concoctions. On Saturday, Sear'N Gears also attended PBR's Pub Bicycle Crawl, during which he also handed free samples of ice cream. This would be his last PR event.
Beginning next Friday and Saturday, which are his days off from Michael's Genuine, AJ will roam the streets of Miami to serve healthful, conscious ice-cream treats for just $5 a push-pop. Cyclists and ice-cream fanatics can find AJ through Facebook and Twitter, where he will post his whereabouts.
Just two days shy of the four-year anniversary of Albert Hoffman's death and a week short of Bicycle Day's 70-year anniversary, Sear'N Gears' debut trip was perfectly positioned to be as emblematic to the city of Miami as those two events were to the world.
Only time will tell if Miami's screams for ice cream and other bicycle fare will be loud enough to result in a new food movement. Hey, five years ago, food trucks seemed like a crazy idea.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha