Showing posts with label food cart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food cart. Show all posts

Friday, September 24, 2010

IFBC 2010: Day 2

Day two of the International Food Blogger Conference started the way more mornings should. Doughnuts! But no dunkin' around here, these were Seattle's best, yummy Top Pot Doughnuts. Combined with a cup of Caffé Vita coffee I was ready to dive into another day of culinary radness. The delicious irony was that the first session of the day was on the topic of "specialized diets" focusing on gluten-free and vegan... There was more than an audible rumble among some specialized bloggers about the choice of doughnuts (though frankly I found it a little obnoxious, as there was an entire table of wheat-free, vegan muffins from PCC Natural Markets and gluten-free muffins from Udi’s Gluten-Free...). I kept quiet and enjoyed my French cruller.
The Food Blogging For Specialized Diets panel starred Shauna James Ahern, author of the blog Gluten-Free Girl and the book Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too (and I say star because this woman is loved by her disciples) and the quietly winning Alex Jamieson, author of Living Vegan for Dummies and The Great American Detox Diet. One of the most impactful moments of the weekend came at the beginning of this session when the panelists asked all of the vegans in the room to stand up, followed by vegetarians, then gluten-free, those with a wheat allergy, lactose intolerance, etc. all the way down to issues with spicy foods. By the end, basically everybody was standing, point being: everyone has a specialized diet. A laugh erupted when Jamieson was asked about her militant vegan critics and she responded "oh, don't get me wrong vegans drive me nuts!"
Next up was Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, a titillating session led by Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, CEO and found of Intellectual Ventures, a firm dedicated to creating and investing in inventions. Myhrvold gave an exciting visual preview of his soon-to-be-published multi-volume food and cooking book Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Meticulous cross section digital photographs and slow motion high-def video of spilling wine and gun-shot eggs had the room in enraptured silence. Myhrvold's books cover the science of cooking ("bread is actually a gel") but also include parametric recipes that make contemporary molecular gastronomy seem like child's play. A full live taping of the presentation can be viewed here.
The next session was far and away many bloggers' favorite, Digital Food Photography presented by Penny De Los Santos, award-winning documentary photographer (contributing photographer for Saveur Magazine, National Geographic and Martha Stewart Living, and cookbooks including the nationally acclaimed book “Asian Dumplings” by Andrea Nguyen). De Los Santos' slide show and stories were awe-inspiring, my only disappointment was that it was not a hands-on photography workshop as I somehow misunderstood, rather a conceptual overview and inspirational talk. What I took away and appreciated most though was De Los Santos' use of the term "making pictures", for we are not taking anything away, we are creating beautiful imagery.
Our lunch break on Sunday was an exciting one, featuring Gourmet Food Trucks of the Pacific Northwest. Familiar with the droves in LA I was intrigued what the Northwest had to offer. I couldn't get to all of them (regretfully missing El Camion and Dante’s Inferno Dogs) as I also had to fit in a Theo chocolate factory tour and time for enjoying some local beer selections from Pike Brewing Co.
Charles and Rose Ann Finkel might be THE most charming business owners I've ever met, and reading their adorable history on the Pike Brewing Co. site, I have an even more enormous amount of respect for the way they've built their empire. Rose Ann laughed while pouring us Kilt Lifter and Naughty Nellies, two of Pike's cheekily named brews.
My lunchtime partner-in-crime Sharon (of Delicious Musings) snuck us beers to make the truck queue more bearable.
My favorite bite was from Skillet, a grass fed beef burger slider with arugula, bacon jam and cambozola on a soft roll. So good! I want to buy this bacon jam (and apparently for a pretty penny I can).
Next we got in line at Kaosamai Thai. Their Pla Sam Rose was the most gorgeous street food I've ever seen, an elegant deep-fried trout topped with fresh sliced mango, red onion, carrot, cashew nuts and a sweet & sour dressing. Their pineapple curry with salmon was also top notch.
The Georgetown neighborhood's Hallava Falafel truck represented, serving a tasty slow roasted lamb shawarma served with Russian red relish, spinach and cabbage mix, tzatziki, wild Armenian pickle, and a "super secret" spice mix on a warm pita.
Sharon enjoyed the wild Armenian pickle with her crispy falafel.
I was impressed with the portable wood-fired oven Rolling Fire employed, the closest thing to a truly portable restaurant yet. The crust of the white pies was bubbly, crisp and light. Ingredients were clearly farm-fresh, a refreshingly clean pizza!
I didn't indulge in one of Anita’s Crepes, but always enjoy watching the process...
Olive Oil ice cream sounded soo good, I was very excited to try a taste. Unfortunately the pointed Molly Moon’s Ice Cream vendor declared that he was closed and told the woman in front of me that she was the last customer. I looked behind me and there was no one. I waved and asked if he could make an exception given it's only one more... and he shook his head. The blogger in front of me loudly exclaimed "Sorry!" over her shoulder. Dumbstruck I left the line, not terribly stoked for ice cream anymore. More beer!
Though not part of the corral of IFBC-sponsoring trucks, the Maximus Minimus truck had an undeniable presence, serving porcine dishes to the neighboring farmer's market crowd.
Sharon and I finished our beers and headed to the main Theo building for our guided factory tour. Our docent Kathleen was totally awesome. After a run-down of exactly where the cocoa beans come from and how Theo stands apart from other chocolate companies, she walked us through the color-coded process under the roof that produces all chocolate bearing the Theo logo. Their small batch chocolate production is truly an art form!
Goodies from the Theo chocolate shop...(You can taste everything!)
Capturing the magic that is Theo's PB&J chocolate truffle... Meanwhile, back at the ranch lunch was definitely over.
Photo contest winners were picked for capturing and posting the best food truck images, judged by IFBC presenters.
And then the final, highly-anticipated panel: Pitch to Publish, lead by Victoria von Biel, Executive Editor of Bon Appétit, Kirsty Melville, President, Book Division at Andrews-McMeel, and food blogger It girl Molly Wizenberg, Bon Appétit columnist, author of the blog, Orangette, and A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. Here is where the bloggers' burning questions finally came out, receiving both helpful advice and also some discouraging realities in return. Presenter Dianne Jacob from the first panel of the weekend won me over yet again with a devil's advocate rebuttal to the panel's [sometimes vacantly] encouraging advice: How many cold submissions are ever actually published at Bon Appétit or by Andrews-McMeel? The answer was obviously none, and the panel smiled knowingly, as did Dianne and half of the room. Naturally, following the presentation the line to meet these women was a long one.
I think with everything I learned throughout the weekend, a certain clarity and pride about what I already do was the most beneficial take-away. Every panel dropped the line at least once "you're here because you love it, it's not supporting you, it's your passion." Nor is it a popularity contest, as James Oseland stated. Wizenberg's cornerstone advice was to have a story to tell. And the burrito baby of all of it is to keep on truckin'. So I am.
This is my story, World. Eat it up.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Croquer: Lake Street Creamery

OK so this tiny kitten licking a tiny ice cream cone may have sold me, but the Lake Street Creamery truck has a mouthwatering menu worth checking out.
I'm ready for the Pancake Breakfast Ice Cream, with real maple syrup, bacon chunks and fresh ground peaberry coffee. There's also a cake donut flavored ice cream, licorice flavored Black Jack, and chili-spiked chocolate Aztec Sacrifice Ice Cream. All in an eco-friendly waffle bowl. Or if you prefer, floating in black cherry or cream soda.
Truck launches this Saturday, so grab your cat, tiny hat, and let's do this.

Follow them on Twitter

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Croquer: Flying Pig

This spring's Silver Lake Jubilee may have been a sleepy alternative to the overcooked Sunset Junction summer cluster-you-know-what, but the Jubilee definitely represented what LA's current mobile food scene has to offer. One newbie to me was the cotton candy pink truck donning a flying pig called.. Flying Pig.
James Seitz's menu transposes Asian and Pacific Rim recipes using Le Cordon Bleu French technique, proffering some tasty results.
First on my list was the braised pork belly with red onion escabeche, pickled sesame cucumber, death sauce on a steamed bao bun - basically a chocomeat bushwhack, reason enough to seek out the pink truck.
Furthering me admiration was the spicy pork taco of marinated pork shoulder with green papaya, black sesame seeds, cilantro cream, and death sauce.
And for dessert the tamarind duck taco - Duck confit with pickled red beets, toasted almonds, radish sprouts, mandarin orange, and tamarind gravy. YUM.

Don't wait for Sunday dim sum, seek out this sucker.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Croquer: LA Street Food Fest 2.0

If there's one event I am more than willing to give a second chance after a decidedly disastrous trial run it's the charmingly determined LA Street Food Fest. Quick to clean up its reputation, the fest isn't waiting until next February to go at it again, rather re-conceptualizing the event July 24 as a festive all-inclusive Summertime tasting fair at Pasadena's world famous Rose Bowl.
The all-inclusive ticket price ($45) benefits St Vincent Meals on Wheels & Woolly School Gardens, and covers all food booths, open bars, live music, and parking. The spacious Rose Bowl should alleviate the overwhelming crowds of the previous event, plus all some 60 vendors (including hot gourmet food trucks, old school carts and stands, celeb chefs and street inspired dishes from LA’s best restaurants) will be out of their trucks in booth tents on the lawn, prepared for the onslaught. Not willing to compromise missing out on your gourmet grilled cheese? A VIP ticket ($65) is available for a full preview hour and VIP parking before the gates open. Get your tickets, this will surely, once again, sell the eff out.

LA Street Food Fest
Saturday July 24, 2010
Rose Bowl
1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, CA

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

En Vitesse: LA's First Mobile Restaurant Row

In conjunction with their Night at the Movies event this Saturday June 27, Dwell On Design 09 will be corralling some of LA's favorite mobile eateries for the city's first mobile restaurant row. Square Meal on Wheels, this temporary street food bazaar will include a classic taco truck, a modern hot dog cart, organic fast food, ice cream sandwiches, cupcakes and more.
(Note: the movie ticket price does not include food).

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90013
5:00pm Mobile Restaurant Row, 6:30pm Movie Screenings
Tickets: $15 Regular until June 24; $25 Last-minute after June 24
Register for tickets

On other mobile news, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's brand new Border Grill taco truck has begun its rounds serving braised achiote pork tacos topped with orange-jicama slaw, tangy mahi mahi ceviche cones, and hot churro poppers.
Follow on Twitter and Facebook for location updates.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

En Vitesse: LA Taco Madness!

AMAZING! One of my fave blogs LA TACO is holding an official tourney to declare the fairest taco in the L.A.nd! Playoffs have already begun, so make sure you VOTE for your favorites immediately! Will it be newcomer Korean hotshot Kogi? High-end pleaser Loteria? Hipster haven Taco Zone? Constant star Cactus? World famous Yuca's? I can hardly contain myself!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Croquer: KOGI BBQ - May Require Hard Hat and Thick Skin

The time now is 12:58am
This may be the first time I have written on an experience immediately following.. But this could not wait. Too rich.
This isn’t really a post about food. More about cultural phenomena, the power that is word of mouth, trends, and innovation. It’s about hunger. I thought I was simply going to get tacos tonight, but in addition I was pinned by a mob, saw some celebs, witnessed a fight (over tacos), laughed with strangers, and awoke my taste buds.
I’d been flirting with the Kogi truck’s website for a solid week or two, fantasizing about the trucks’ schedule.. Trying to imagine myself in those places at those times, how long the line would be and who might be there. The closest it would be to my home was in Silverlake tonight, Thursday at 10:30pm, parked outside of the 4100 Bar. I vowed to be there.
OK back story: For several months now I’ve been hearing rave reviews about this roving taco truck. A Korean taco truck. Yeah, we’re talking Korean BBQ short ribs wrapped up in tortillas and Kim chi quesadillas. Only in LA. What’s more, since the truck is always on the go, you have to follow it on Twitter to get the current location. Luckily for the Twitterless, the website hosts a feed of the most recent posts, as well as a rough weekly schedule.
So there I was earlier tonight, 10:00pm, pulling up beside darkened Sunset Junction shop windows and scoping the scene. I saw a small gang of loiterers outside of the 4100 down the block. They were already hovering.
“First time?” a tipsy Korean girl in a furry hood asked as I approached the crowd and settled beside her. I nodded excitedly. Everyone was abuzz; the electricity in the late winter air was tangible. The 40-some-odd of us were shifting from one foot to the other in anticipation of something that hadn’t even arrived yet. I checked the time; it was now past 10:30 and still nothing. The crowd was mounting, in an unorganized sprawling continent spanning from the bar door down to the parking lot around the corner. I anticipated madness. Within minutes, I heard chirps and shouts, as if a gleaming tour bus was approaching an alley of adoring fans. A modest catering truck driven by insta-celebrity Kogi MVP Chef Roy himself pulled alongside us, he hung his baseball-capped head out of the window to address his people with a raised party fist. “Aziz!” he shouted to the Human Giant star and loyal customer in the crowd. Everyone cheered.
The truck pulled up literally onto the sidewalk where we had been standing, so the mob was ushered backward to the parking lot, where you could feel the tension thickening. Everyone started murmuring complaints about who was there first, and when. I understand the concern, but I for one had zero choice where I was going to end up in the line, I was pinned firmly to the wall, where I stayed planted for the next 20 minutes until the line inched forward. The truck teetered ominously on its perch and someone behind me commented that this was a Darwin Award waiting to happen. A wily taco lover in the back shouted something about cutting in line to a few people toward the front; the usual offensive remarks were tossed back and forth from each ‘gentleman’ until someone must have bit their thumb, because the escalation became very real. People laughed, others taunted, while most rolled their eyes, huddled against each other in the cold, and squinted ahead toward the aromatic truck. Chef Roy stepped in, further delaying Taco time, to appease his people and exorcise the drama with his winning grin. Inside the truck Roy’s cooks worked furiously. Tacos began filing out of the small window. Somehow, I made it to the front of the line, and I felt like Charlie approaching that chocolate factory for the first time. I decided to sample three tacos (which, coincidentally is the limit per customer!). I ordered a Korean Short Rib, Spicy Pork, and Spicy BBQ Chicken. Each was dressed with sesame-chili salsa roja, julienne romaine lettuce and cabbage tossed in Korean chili-soy vinaigrette, cilantro-green onion-lime relish, crushed sesame seeds, and sea salt. Eager to escape the twisted juju of the mob, I crossed the street to taste my bounty is the serene glow of the Jiffy Lube. Bite one converted me. The Short Rib was a (pardon the cliché) true explosion of complex and intricate flavors. Deeply savory with a bbq tang, rich smoke, brown sugar sweetness, hint of nuttiness and a vinegar-sweet/tart finish. Yes, I think I finally understand you, elusive umami. The Spicy Pork was less spicy than expected, but similarly flavored and robust. The Spicy BBQ Chicken too could have benefited from more of its namesake (or a healthy dose of Sriracha), but had a delightful crunch that I wanted more of. Much more. I devoured all three tacos before I made it to my car, delicious sweet grease dripping from my fingers. My palate was content, still trying to process what it had experienced, as I too tried to piece together how the last couple hours of my life were spent. I drank the [Korean] Kool-Aid, I jumped on the tacowagon. I know I’ll see Aziz again, and hope when I do it’s not at the end of mile-long giant human line.

Kogi is also available in a reliable, stationary sit-down format Mon-Sat from 6pm-12am at the Alibi Room (12236 Washington Blvd, Culver City), which I recommend for the weak of heart and/or claustrophobic.