As if I didn’t love faire enough, now this jolly festival is partnering with various food trucks throughout its stay at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale.
The top West Coast BBQ teams will battle for the California State Championship title and $10,000 in cash prizes this Saturday, March 10, at Santa Anita Race track.
The competition is unique in it is one of only two sanctioned barbecue contests scheduled within L.A. County this year. Usually you have to drive out of state or just out of the county, to experience bbq competition like this.
Get your wet napkins and bibs ready to taste and vote for your favorite bbq to win “People’s Choice,” with the purchase of $10 script per vote. One script is worth $1 and each bbq vendor determines their own prices.
Face painting, jumpers, games and more will entertain the kids while live music by Steel Rod will entertain everyone.
The competition will take place in the infield during the races. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. and racing beings at 12:30 p.m. The BBQ competition is free with $5 admission to the track.
Santa Anita Park is located at 285 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia. For more information, visit the Santa Anita Park website.
The 49th Annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire and Artisans Market returned its rein over the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area in Irwindale last weekend and will continue its pillage Saturdays and Sundays through May 22.
From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., faire-goers, many dressed in period costumes, are transported to the magically recreated Royal shipyard city of Port Deptford during the reign of Elizabeth I and immersed into the music, language, culture and entertainment of the time.
This is one of my favorite times of the year to let the imagination roam free while taking in some history, even centuries later.
Take in one of the many wonderful shows in the various stages throughout the shire, barter with the vendors for one of their handcrafted treasures, practice your knife throwing or canon ball launch, or just chat up a conversation with the hundreds of performers and characters including Her Majesty herself, pirate Sir Francis Drake and playwright William Shakespeare.
Along with the many adult-rated entertainment, the young ones can also take in the games, rides, crafts, story time and more in the Kid’s Kingdom.
If you really want to get delved in the era but didn’t come fully prepared, don’t fuss as costume rental and purchase opportunities abound in the Faire’s Marketplace, as well as more than 100 artisans offering Renaissance and contemporary jewelry, home dcor and original artwork.
Or be a glutton like me and just come for the food and libations. Food vendors offer something for everyone, whether you have a small or large appetite or crave something sweet. A novelty food item is the roasted turkey leg. This iconic meat is huge for first-timers, but beware, if you don’t have a big appetite for turkey or at least someone to share with, this monster leg will end up eating you.
After my share of Faire visits, I have some favorite stops. The first bar is popular for those needing their favorite ale, Port or my favorite, mead or honey wine, with a haste. But those prepared know to just keep walking to the next bar stop and the wait is almost half as long.
Once you’re appetite is worked up, I like to take on a “Steak-on-a-Stake”, which is pretty much grilled beef chunks on a wooden skewer. Simple but tasty. I’m almost certain curly cheese fries were not common in the Renaissance era but in my circle, this is a must side when dining at the faire – cheese devours these warm and crispy ringlets of potatoes.
My new favorite must-have at faire is the tri-tip sandwich with chili. Now don’t be fooled like many, this is not chili like at Wienerschnitzel or spicy chili, this is a hearty serving of simmered kidney beans, tomatoes, onions and spices, all to complement the generous offering of tri-tip beef slices on a roll. A fork is accompanied with this dish because trying to eat this sandwich without making a mess is an impossible mission, even with two hands.
As I said, there is something for everyone. Vegetarian entrees and desserts are available.
My teen cousin was a little wary of the fish and chips and quail offerings so opted for a slice of Renaissance pepperoni pizza instead. Kids!
And on those warm spring days, cool down at the shire with a fruit ice. Flavored shaved ice is frozen into its shell – mango, pineapple, coconut – just a few flavors offered. I treated myself to a coconut ice during my visit and love the fresh flavor with coconut pieces.
For a fun tour, adults can purchase $25 tickets to an exclusive and riotous Pub Crawl offered each day of the faire. The crawl features cold spirits, lusty wenches, bawdy songs, drinking games and a guided tour of the shire. The ticket includes one beverage of your choice at each of the five pubs visited in the shire.
Tickets for faire are $25 for adults and $15 for children aged 5-12. Children under age 5 are free. Adult season passes for $130 and a child’s season pass for $65 are available. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at www.renfair.com.
The Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area is at 15501 Arrow Highway in Irwindale. A vehicle entry fee of $10 is charged by Los Angeles County. For more information, visit www.renfair.com.
I have heard a lot about the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market but have never had the opportunity to stop by and see what everyone’s raving about.
Tomorrow, Thursday, April 14, I plan to rearrange my schedule to visit this farmer’s market as they will welcome Toyota’s Farm to Table Tour. Select local talented chefs will demonstrate how to use what’s available fresh at the farmer’s market to create delicious dishes. Complimentary samplings are a huge plus!
Three tents will feature three chefs each:
Tent 1- 4 to 5 p.m. Kyu Yi from Gus’s Barbecue
5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Sally Cook of Heirloom Bakery & Cafe
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Susan Feniger of Susan Feniger’s STREET (as well as Ciudad and Border Grill)
Tent 2: 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. Tim Guiltinan of The Raymond Restaurant
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jennifer Kreft and Derrick Shields of Nicole’s Gourmet Foods
6:45 to 7:45 p.m. Bill Disselhorst of Fiore Market Cafe
Tent 3: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Erica Lins of Mike & Anne’s Restaurant and Bar
5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Paul Rosenbluh of Firefly Bistro
7 to 8 p.m. Luis Alfonso Ortega Banuelos of Shiro Restaurant
For more details, visit www.farmtotabletour.com or the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market site at www.southpasadenafarmersmarket.org.
I’ve professed my love for Carl’s Jr’s Guacamole Bacon Six Dollar burgers before – for a fast food burger, the patty is juicy, the guacamole tastes fresh complete with little chunks of tomato and cilantro, the chipotle spread instead of mayo and red onion, my favorite – it’s delicious!
As much as I love that burger, I admit it can be much. I either can’t finish the whole thing at once or can’t move after I’m done and that does not include fries and a drink.
So when I saw the chain’s new turkey burgers had a guacamole version, I gave in and needed to try it. I don’t believe I ever had a turkey burger before. Actually, having turkey any time other than Thanksgiving is pretty rare for me – I’m all about the pork and beef.
But I was drawn by the fact that Carl’s version is supposed to be under 500 calories and I can still enjoy the guacamole.
When I unwrapped my Turkey Guacamole burger ($3.99), it was already smaller than the six dollar burger. There was plenty of guacamole that for a second, I couldn’t see the turkey patty. With the first bite, I was impressed with the texture of the patty, it wasn’t too weird and it didn’t have a strong taste, letting the guacamole and chipotle spread take care of that part.
I finished the burger pretty quick, for me that is, and happily I was not in a food coma. It was satisfying and a feeling of food guilt didn’t follow.
I do have a few suggestions though for Carl’s Jr store #7393 in Covina – I’m all for not wasting produce, including lettuce, but I would like some green in my lettuce and please don’t be so stingy on the tomato or onion.
So the folks at Santa Anita got the message loud and clear about the madness that was the first Food Truck Festival held in February, (see my previous post.)
A separate admission into the festival, 23 trucks, ridiculously long lines, trucks running out of food – there was reportedly 10,000 folks in the festival alone – not the greatest start.
Now, with Food Truck Festival II being held this Saturday, April 2, they hope to make it up to foodies by not having a separate admission fee – yes, just $5 gets you into the park and the infield where the festival will be held – and featuring more than 80 food trucks.
I have to admit, I’m a little skeptical. No separate admission can mean there may be way more people trying to get at least one taste of these gourmet food offerings and there will be some trucks who will be more popular than others, no matter how many are offered.
For me, the idea of a food truck festival is great because one has the opportunity to try more than one truck in one place versus driving around all over SoCal – it’s a one stop shop!
But when there are long wait times and that doesn’t happen, it makes me just want to give up and resort to just following a few fav trucks.
I don’t think I’ve been to a festival yet that features over 80 trucks, so guess I’ll wait and see until after how it all went.
For more info on the festival and a full list of trucks, visit http://www.santaanita.com/
I will not be able to attend, but if anyone out there knows how it went, or has pictures – let me know. Meanwhile, check out below what’s new in the food truck world.
Forget drive-throughs, food trucks and pop-ups are practically bringing gourmet truck and other delicious food to your front door. But for those who still like the sit-down dinner night out, Breadbar presents the Hatchi Truck Stop.
For one night a month for the rest of 2011, a new guest truck will be cooking up a specialty menu of 8 items for $8 a pop at the bakery and pastry shop’s kitchen in Century City. Yes, inside. No eating in your car or outside the truck (unless you have leftovers after.)
Kicking off the series tonight, March 31, is Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” winner, Grill ‘Em All.
Reservations are essential for all series dinners, served from 6 to 10 p.m., with a minimum purchase of $32 per guest.
Last check in by the Grill ‘Em All team is some spots opened up for tonight’s event which will feature heavy-metal inspired cuisines such as Molson Beer and Cheese Soup with Frise, Lardons, and a Bacon
Vinaigrette; “Behemoth Style” Meatballs with BBQ Sauce, Bacon, Smoked
Cheddar, and Funyuns Onion Flavored Rings; Duck Confit Poutine with
Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Rosemary; and Peanut Butter and Jelly Three
Ways-Canap and more. Microbrews from Humboldt
County’s Lost Coast Brewery will be offered along with the menu.
Call 310-277-3770 to see if you can snag a table tonight, or for any future series events which includes “The Great Food Truck Race” runner-ups, Nom Nom Truck, Frysmith and more. Visit www.breadbar.net for the full list of trucks and more details.
Breadbar is at 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
To celebrate 40 years of taking over every other corner of the world, starting in Seattle, Starbucks has a couple ways to celebrate this year. (I kind of joke about the every other corner part, you know what I mean.)
Not being a coffee drinker since I was probably 12 years old, it took me a lot longer than most to jump on the Starbucks grande latte, no foam, skim milk, coffee craze. (I don’t even know if that’s a real drink.)
It wasn’t until I was introduced to the Frappuccino – frozen cappuccino – less than 10 years ago that I was sucked in. Though it’s not a daily ritual, I admit I like to treat myself to an occasional caramel frapp – being caffeine sensitive, a little of that goes a long way for me.
First, in celebration of this milestone, Starbucks will offer one free Starbucks Petite to each customer purchasing any beverage on Customer Tribute Day, from 2 to 5 p.m. today, March 10, through March 12 at participating stores in U.S. and Canada.
Starbucks Petites are eight petite sweets, perfectly sized
for an afternoon treat, that are made with
only premium ingredients and all under 200 calories. The treats range from whoopie pies to mini cupcakes and more.
I took advantage of this deal today and cooled down with a sweetened iced green tea. I decided to try the red velvet whoopie pie. The size was definitely perfect. If I was a giant, it would be a crumb but trying to be lady-like, I took a few bites to devour this little goodness that was filled with a sweet cream cheese filling and topped with a red little glaze. Careful, there was a lot of red dye in the glaze which left me with pink fingers. This was actually my first whoopie pie and the cake was moist and delicious.
At $1.50 each, it would have to be a special occasion or a bad-day pick-me-up to grab one of these small desserts. I picked up a latte for a co-worker and she tried the birthday cake flavored cake pop with light pink frosting. She said the cake was moist and sweet. She had tried other cake pops before that were crumbly but was surprised how well this one held up.
Starbucks is also launching its Starbucks Tribute Blend that pays tribute to “customers, partners (employees) and the accomplishments of coffee farmers and roasters over the past 40 years.” The new coffee is a blend of four coffees, from three coffee growing regions using three different coffee processing methods such as Aged Sumatra, that is semi-washed and aged; Sun-dried Ethiopian coffee that is naturally processed; Washed coffee from Papua New Guinea; and Washed coffee from Colombia.
The Starbucks Tribute Blend will also be available as Starbucks VIA Ready Brew.
WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE AT STARBUCKS?
If you were at the first ever Food Truck Festival at Santa Anita Park as I was last month, you know how crazy busy they can get and how long one might have to wait just for a nibble of what is to be gourmet food truck fare.
I’ll admit, I was expecting some wait, having been to a food truck festival a while back in Glendale. But this was different. First, the Santa Anita event was a weekend, unlike the festival I’d been to at the Americana was a weekday. A weekend event seems to draw more of a crowd. Second, there was a separate entrance fee to the festival area within the park unlike in Glendale, where it was all open and no extra fee aside from the food.
Web comments after the Santa Anita festival showed how frustrated event attendees were as they waited hours at just one food truck. I arrived with my friends about an hour after the festival began and already could see at least 50 people at each line. Some trucks were already shut down by that time. Lines were intertwining with other lines making it confusing to find an end to one.
A friend and I found the shortest line at the Knockout Tacos Truck, which serves tacos inspired by various global cuisines.
Our other group of friends waited about 30 minutes at the beer garden as well, where the selections weren’t much to be desired but still better than the typical domestic or imports you find at the local dive.
Luckily for me, the KO Taco truck was next to the soundstage and I was entertained by the Spazmatics as I waited, mostly alone. My friends gave up and went to get hot dogs and popcorn from the park concession stands and place a few bets on some races. I hung in, even though there were a few times I also gave up. Every once in a while, the girl taking taco orders would come out and cover up another item on the menu that is sold out. I wondered if it would even be worth waiting all that time – almost three hours – for a few tacos or maybe none at all, if they ran out before I got up to the front of the line.
I hung in considering I hadn’t ever heard of this food truck before and didn’t know if these tacos were any good. I got three behind and I could still see four kinds of tacos on the menu – taco dorado con carne (shredded beef taco in a fried, crunchy tortilla shell); jalapeno teriyaki chicken taco with marinated cucumber and roasted jalapenos; bbq pork burnt ends taco with baked beans and southern style cole slaw; and the taco de papas, or spiced yukon gold mashed potatoes with lettuce, salsa, pico de gallo, cheese and crema mexicana, a Mexican-style cream.
Finally, I reached the end and these taco items were still available – “two of each please,” I said with a slight hesitation. I wasn’t sure if there would be enough to order two of each or if something changed last minute and nothing was available. They were and at $2.50 to $3.50 each, and hours later – I was holding a lot of expectations for these tacos.
As hungry as I was by the time I got the tacos – 10 minutes later – I did share them with friends who still had room after hot dogs.
We all agreed the jalapeno teriyaki had moist pieces of chicken and a great cucumber topping, almost like a slaw, with a nice cool spiciness to it. No one else seemed to share the same love and enthusiasm I had for the potato tacos though but they were my favorite. The potatoes were creamy and had a great spicy salsa flavor mashed right in. It was also topped with lots of grated cheese, I can never have enough cheese.
The bbq burnt end taco was also tasty but I was expecting a little more burnt end pieces with a crunchiness where it was more of cubed pork pieces.
The Lobster Truck still had a line as the festival winded down, though smaller, and I was tempted to give it a try. That was one of the trucks we wanted to try first.
Instead I settled for some dessert at Tapa Boy, a Filipino food truck. I had the fried flan pieces. My friend visited the Chunk N’ Chip truck for a warm chocolate chip cookie and cool mint ice cream sandwich.
After our experience at two different truck festivals, we decided to just stick to following certain food trucks as they come to the area, one truck at a time. But with the city of Rosemead’s Munch for the Memorial food truck festival this weekend – Saturday and Sunday – and the appearance of the Grill ‘Em All truck, the winners of the Food Network’s first The Great Food Truck Race, I can’t say never just yet.
Even after hearing of the Grill ‘Em All truck coming to the San Gabriel Valley, I couldn’t help but take advantage of their recent President’s Day lunch stop in Echo Park. I happened to be off as well and my husband and I decided for some burger lunch.
We watched the Food Network reality competition show so we’re already aware of some of the burgers the truck featured including the Behemoth – a nice grilled burger patty, cheddar, bacon, beer soaked onions, pickles, Grandma’s mosh pit bbq, sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwich buns. I think the name says it all.
My husband decided to take on the Behemoth while I wanted to Waste ‘em All – burger with green chilies, beer soaked onions and pepper jack. Fries are nice and crunchy and come with your choice of sauce – garlic aioli, Grandma’s mosh pit bbq, malt vinegar aioli, chipotle ketchup, ketchup or blue cheese.
We tried the bbq and chipotle ketchup. Both pretty delicious. My favorite thing about the burgers were we could tell it was quality ground beef, very tasty, and the patties were not small by any means. Mine was even a little medium rare – I love medium rare!
If you don’t mind the festival crowd, check out Grill ‘Em All and more than 15 more food trucks including Tapa Boy, Sweets Truck, Dosa Truck, Jose O’Malleys and more from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 and from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the UFC Gym parking lot, 8920 Glendon Way, Rosemead.
The festival is being held to benefit the city’s September 11 Memorial. Admission is free and a limited number of ‘Cut to the Front’ passes will be sold at $20 for each truck on each day. For more information, visit www.cityofrosemead.org, www.facebook.com/rosemeadca or www.grillemalltruck.com .
Although there have been crazy rumors that the gourmet food truck phenomenon is ready to bust. We here in the San Gabriel Valley are just starting to get a taste, especially since it’s rare that one of those big-name trucks make regular appearances in our neck of the woods.
Luckily, there have been enough outcries and great supporters that have rallied to bring food trucks to the area, most recently the Irwindale Speedway held a food truck festival and now it’s Santa Anita racetrack’s turn.
This Saturday, Jan. 29, get your grub on at the tracks’ first Food Truck Festival being held from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., coinciding with one of the tracks big season races – Sunshine Millions.
The festival will feature about 20 of some of the hottest gourmet food trucks in Southern California as well as a wine tent and gastropub, and a special performance by the Spazmatics – all taking place in the infield, literally in the center of all the racing action.
The Grilled Cheese Truck, Border Grill, Ragin’ Cajun and Lobsta Truck are just a few trucks to feast at during the festival. Unlike other food truck festivals, there is no need to buy tickets separately before ordering food at the trucks. Each truck will take orders and payments individually on the spot. Wine and drinks will work the same.
Tickets are $12 in advance which includes parking, entrance, race program and everyone in attendance will get an 18-pack cooler bag. Tickets at the door are $12 but do not include parking ($4). If you pay for the park entrance only, there will be a separate $5 fee to enter the festival area.
For racing fans, gates open at 10 a.m. and first post time is 11:30 a.m. For more information on the race, visit www.santaanita.com or call (800) 574-6401.
**DISCOUNT** – As a special incentive for San Gabriel Valley residents, Santa Anita is offering a $2 discount with special code SG News when purchasing tickets at www.santaanitaevents.com. The code is only valid until Friday, Jan. 28, so go get your $10 tickets now!
For more information about the festival, visit www.santaanita.com/specialevent/2011/2011-food-truck-festival.
BIG BEAR: The 40th Annual Oktoberfest runs through Oct. 30 this year. Held weekends at the Convention Center at Big Bear Lake, 42900 Big Bear Blvd., this festival features live entertainment, food, music, log sawing and stein holding contests, The Safe Slam beer drinking contest, children’s contests and an “Outside Budenstrasse” with game booths, exhibitor booths and a petting zoo. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for children on Saturdays. Sundays are family day with half-priced admission for adults and free for children. Pre-purchase tickets online and get a small discount. The Burgermeister package is perfect for the serious Oktoberfest partier. The $39 admission includes a commemorative Oktoberfest beer stein, a German meal, a German beer or beverage of your choice, and a set of Oktoberfest party beads. Visit the Oktoberfest website for more details
LAKE ARROWHEAD: Head down the mountain from Big Bear to the Lake Arrowhead Village (28200 State Highway 189, Lake Arrowhead) for a free Oktoberfest event. Held every weekend through Oct. 30, this festival is definitely a good time for the whole family with German music bands, contests, games, food and beer. For more information, call 909-337-2533.
LONG BEACH: The annual Long Beach Oktoberfest kicks off this weekend, Oct. 22-24 and Oct. 28-31, at El Dorado Park, 7550 E. Spring St., Long Beach, with free parking, live entertainment, a biergarten, an international food court, arts and crafts booths, desserts and a free souvenir digital photo. Children can take in story time with live storytellers, magicians and unlimited carnival rides. General admission is $15 and includes entertainment and unlimited. Online only presales prices are available. The purchase of a presale admission guarantees one Bavarian Feast of one large Bristol Farms grilled bratwurst, served with authentic German potato salad, sauerkraut and red slaw. Bavarian Feast will be served until 9 p.m. on Thurs., 10 p.m. on Fri. and Sat. and 9 p.m. Sundays. Check out the site for tickets and entertainment lineup.