Oh Jubilee! Faire is back!

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 Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire is celebrating its 50th year with a Golden Jubilee, starting Saturday, April 7. The faire will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through May 20.
Aside from the jolly good time one can have frolicking around the transformed 20 acres and enjoying the music, dancing, laughs, thirst-quenching ale and delicious food in the food court, the faire will also feature different visiting food trucks each weekend – they are members of the “Food Truck Army.”
Enjoy offerings from trucks such as Auntie’s Fry Bread Native American fusion, sweet goods from The Fry Girl Inc., burger truck Grill ‘em All, also winners of the Food Network’s first Great American Food Truck Race, and more.
If you go, feel free to comment below with what you have tried and I will follow up when I get a chance to stop in at the faire and see what I try. See my review of some foods I enjoyed at last year’s faire here
Cost is $25 for adults, $15 for ages 5 to 12, children ages 4 and younger are free. For more information and discount offers, including a buy one get one free coupon, visit www.renfair.com.

Santa Anita food truck fest part II and the alternative…

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/specialevent/2011/food-truck-festival-ii
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.

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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.


Food trucks and festival

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 .

 

Food truck festival (special discount)!

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.

Calling all foodies!!

HERE ARE TWO EVENTS THIS WEEKEND, NO FOODIE WOULD WANT TO MISS:

L.A. STREET FOOD FEST

Of course, I would have to be out of town when one of the largest foodie events in L.A.is set to take place. Good for them because I would actually wait overnight to be the first to hit up each truck and I would be all over seconds and thirds at each truck like Winnie the Pooh to honey.

But if you’ll be in town and looking to splurge on that summer diet and workout routine, make some rounds at the second L.A Street Food Fest taking place this Saturday, July 24, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (1001 Rose Bowl Drive, off North Arroyo Blvd.)

More than 60 mobile food truck vendors from eateries, restaurants, celeb chefs and classic carts will park it outside the bowl while vendor booths sit under tents inside.
What will be offered? The question is really, what won’t be offered.

Everything from breakfast at Monsieur Egg to dessert from Cool Haus and Sweet Lucie’s. There will also be open bars and beer gardens for tequila and mezcal tastings, and specialty juices and cocktails.

Presale tickets are limited and only available online. No at-door sales. Tickets are $45 per person and is all inclusive, as much as you can handle. The last food fest included long lines for some foodie favorites so be sure to get there early if you want to make a couple rounds at your favorite truck or vendor..

For more information and tickets, visit www.lastreetfoodfest.com.

Read about how some vendors are preparing in Staff Writer Brian Charles’ story.

 

YOGA FOR FOODIES

David Romanelli (aka Yeah Dave) is bringing his Yoga for Foodies to Los Angeles. Yoga for Foodies is a national tour  where at each stop, David collaborates with local chefs to create an unforgettable foodie experience.

On July 25, Dave will be pairing up with Akasha Richmond, chef founder of the critically acclaimed Culver City-based Akasha Restaurant, Bar, Bakery.

During the event, the morning will begin with David’s flowing yoga class whose message and music will emphasize a more sustainable pace.

Following yoga while participants are relaxed and in the moment, Akasha will lead a guided tasting inspired by her years of cooking for and studying with Yogi Bhajan, and how his teachings influenced her style of cooking. Akasha began her professional career at Yogi Bhajan’s Golden Temple Conscious Cookery, a now defunct but once popular vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles.

Menu highlights include: giner-mint lemonade and organic mango lassi; local farm egg and goat cheese frittata with spinach and caramelized onions; cumin and coriander spiced lamb sausage; grilled tandoori vegetable salad with coleman farms greens, white corn, zucchini, red peppers, and chutney dressing; punjabi focaccia with holy basil pesto, heirloom tomatoes, grilled eggplant, fresh paneer; fresh baked blackberry coffee cake, peach scones, and housemade preserves.

Yoga for Foodies will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $54. Reservations are required.
Akasha Restaurant, Bar, Bakery is at 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City. For more information, call (310) 845-1700.

World Cup feeding frenzy

What better way to really get in the spirit of the World Cup than enjoying some world fare.

Seems more and more restaurants and locales are helping soccer fans get in the spirit of cheering on their favorite team or country by having the games on for viewing. Well others are stepping it up by offering up a variety of dishes representing the many countries taking part in the soccer matchups.

Starting today through Tuesday, June 29, the ESPN Match Truck will be rolling through Los Angeles offering a world menu while you catch a game on their high-def television screens attached to the top of the truck. The menu designed by Kogi and Chego chef Roy Choi features items such as the South African bunny chow, Mexico’s carne asada burrito and American silver-dollar pancakes, to name a few. Follow the truck on Twitter @ESPNWCTRUCKLA or visit espnwctrucks.com for more information and location dates and times.

I know, what’s bunny chow right? Well, we’re not talking a Fatal Attraction dish here. Basically, the chow is a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with a chicken curry – juicy chicken leg meat seasoned with Madras, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and yogurt, with fresh peas, grilled onions, mizuna, Thai basil, pickled red onions. Then the flesh of the bread is slathered with curried goat cheese. ($6)

If you’re feeling a bit more fancy, check out the Langham Huntington’s World Cup Street Food Menu offered at The Bar, now through July 11. The menu features dishes such as semisweet coconut curry puffs (South Africa); brown butter spaetzle with beer cheese (Germany); Faina flat bread with chimichurri (Argentina); and more. There will also be specials on signature cocktails.

For more information, visit http://pasadena.langhamhotels.com or follow on Twitter @langhampasadena. Retweet on Twitter to win two dishes each week. The Langham Huntington is at 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena,  (626) 568-3700.

GOAL!! (That’s me scoring some good food!)

Street Feast at the American at Brand in Glendale

I’ve always enjoyed street food and taco trucks, despite the bad rep they had for many years. Now, thanks to the Kogi BBQ truck, it seems it’s cool to enjoy lunch or dinner from a food truck.

I’ve honestly been very interested to go try some of the new food truck varieties that are popping up everywhere, but obviously not enough to follow them all over Los Angeles County. Then came the “festivals” where armies of food trucks get together.

I hadn’t had a chance to make it to one of these until Tuesday. I finally made a date with my best friend and we headed to the Street Feast at the Americana at Brand.

It was my first time at the Americana, the indoor/outdoor mall adjacent to the Glendale Galleria. I liked the open space in the middle of this retail/residential community. There’s a fountain, grass you can relax on, and plenty of casual and fine dining around.

On this Tuesday night, there was a good crowd that were settled on the grass. I thought they were either taking a retail break or just enjoying some of the food they had picked up at one of the nine food trucks at the feast, and then I spotted a flat screen that drew their full attention – game 6 of the Lakers/Celtics basketball playoffs – Ah! I guess there was no need to decide between the Street Feast and playoffs.

I checked the score early in the game and then went back to business. There was no map, so my feast partner and I walked around the perimeter of the inside of the Americana to scope out what each of the food trucks had to offer and spot the ones we were most interested in – The Grilled Cheese Truck and The Flying Pig.

The other food trucks were Coolhaus, mainly dessert; The Buttermilk Truck, breakfast-time and dessert; Mandoline Grill, curry and noodles; Worldfare; Patty Wagon; Comfort Truck; and Vizzi.

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Almost every truck already had a good long line of people eager for service. The Grilled Cheese Truck seemed to be the winner though. It looked like there was about 15 to 20 people in line, relatively short, but when I tried to step into the back of the line, an Americana “ambassador” politely asked if I was looking for the Grilled Cheese truck line, which I was so he patiently pointed to a line that wrapped around one of the stores to the actual end of the line with about 40 more people waiting. I apparently tried to step in at a traffic break and cut the line. Oops.

Knowing we would not be able to wait in line patiently, and our stomachs already grumbling, we decided to find a smaller line to grab something quicker and smaller while we take our chances waiting at the Flying Pig line, which also looked like it would be a good wait.

Some local restaurants were serving up mac and cheese and salad plates and sliders. We each grabbed a quick slider and headed to the Flying Pig line. Again an ambassador approached us and asked if we had ordered yet, we hadn’t so he directed us to the front to order.

The Flying Pig menu on a small stand outside had a selection of tacos and drinks, we found out later the menu directly on the truck had more of a selection.

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The pork belly taco and spiced pork taco piqued my interest but alas the attendant regrettably informed me they were out of spiced pork, so I went with the tamarind duck taco instead.

There was no line to order but then we had to head back to the end of the 20-something-people-long line, which was not much compared to others.

Fifteen minutes and one slider later, we had barely moved one person up in the line. After almost 30 minutes and only one more move up, we overheard the ambassador was beginning to tell people wishing to get in line or to order, that the Flying Pig had stopped taking orders since they were having problems with one of their “ovens” (maybe he meant grills, I hoped those ordering carne asada tacos were not getting oven-cooked asada – weird.)

Seeing the occasional plate of tacos being served, we remained hopeful we would get the tacos we paid for - eventually.

According to their website, “The Flying Pig truck has hit the streets featuring the perfect blend of Asian & Pacific Rim flavors with French technique.” The tamarind duck was a great example of that combination. It featured duck confit with pickled red beets, toasted almonds, radish sprouts, mandarin orange, and tamarind gravy.

The pork belly taco features braised pork belly with red onion escabeche, pickled sesame cucumber, and death sauce.

After learning of the “oven” trouble, I decided to take a chance on the Mandoline Grill which seemed to have many people coming away with food pretty quickly, and some tasty smells were coming from that direction. I went ahead and waited in the grill line to order while my friend stayed in line at the pig truck.

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In 15 minutes, I had one 12″ grilled pork and one 12″ grilled beef banh mi, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich ($6 each). I headed back to the taco line and had a few nibbles of the sandwich as we were quickly approaching the end of the line.

After over an hour wait, we finally got our tacos - priced between $2.75 and $3.25 each – and although I wasn’t as hungry as before, these definitely were worth the wait. I was only sorry I hadn’t ordered the limit of five items to begin with.

The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth awesome, soft but not greasy. The sesame cucumber and sauce complemented it well without overwhelming the natural taste of this little piggy. The sauce was a kind of chili sauce with a bit of a kick but I still have no clue why it’s called the “death” sauce. It wasn’t that hot. There was Sriracha, or rooster, sauce available to add. I passed.

This would be my first time tasting duck, in any way, but my friend was excited about it so I imagined it wasn’t as odd as it sounded to me. The beets and small orange slices were a nice start. When I finally bit into the duck, it was moist and tender. Surprisingly, it reminded me of shredded beef and not like its cousin, the chicken, but not as fatty either.

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Yes, these tacos were worth the wait but I don’t know if I’ll do it again. I will be more prepared next time, arriving a lot earlier, getting a large group together and planning out a strategy of who to send out to wait at different trucks, all mission-impossible style.

A mission I could definitely practice at the next L.A. Street Food Fest to be featured at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 24. But sadly, I will be out on other adventures that weekend and will have to hold off on that rescue plan. Next time Gadget, next time.

Check out details for the L.A. Street Food Fest at their website or here on our Rose magazine blog.