SFC: Fish Party

                A leftover Filet of Sole from a special project lay in the fridge one empty morning, crying to be turned into a sandwich. Who am I to deny it such pleasure?

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                Giving it a bath in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, I gently transport it back to bed… a hot pan with an even layer of butter and oil. Though, the sole wanted a slumber party, so I invited a few friends: some split king trumpet mushrooms I had leftover, letting them sear and sizzle in the pan next to the gloriously browning breadcrumbs.

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                An accompanying sauce is always desired in things to come such as this, so a rich mixture of mayo, chopped parsley, paprika, cayenne, and a heaping helping of chopped garlic seemed suitable.

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                For a properly firm yet tender blanket, I decided to employ the technique of toasting both slices of bread in the same slot, creating a crispy outside while retaining soft grains within.

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                As the fish finishes its little nap, we prepare the final playgrounds for enjoyment, layering the mayo-based-spread with seared mushrooms and fresh, crispy romaine hearts. Take the crispy filets out from the pan, slice in half, pile on and dive in. A nice, simple little way to make a tasty lunch without having to drive to McDonalds. Warm, crispy-crunchy, with a creamy garlic punch, perfect sammich material.

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Vellee Deli at Crema Cafe: the Visit

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                It’s been so long, I had actually forgotten how much I missed Vellee Deli. But with their recent Pop up venture at the Crema Café (home of the local Sonny’s Ice Cream), I had a chance to visit them once more in the cold months and experience one of my favorite street food ventures once more.

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                Though still keeping their Breakfast/Lunch Menu, the popular neighborhood café now swaps its Dinner dining options for Vellee’s starting at 5pm, Thursdays through Sundays. The menu, unlike many other truck-turned-sit-down-affair businesses, still sticks purely with what is offered on the truck without anything new, though now we can get all three burritos that have been offered (if I’m correct they usually only do two of which at a time from the truck).

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                Which ended up great for me, since I was able to go along with a couple other people and grab a bevy of items, those yet unexperienced and a certain favorite. And unlike at the truck, one’s able to take advantage of Crema’s still-operating full drink offerings to grab something special, like say a couple nice beers or…

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                … a warm, fluffy, steamed-milk topped cup of their Homemade Chai Tea. Mmmmm, that was good on the snowy night we went. Let me say, I love my Chai, and though I’m no expert it’s certainly the best version of it that I’ve had so far (though Namaste Café comes in a close second, they certainly have the advantage in variety options); not to mention it sorta works nicely with the Korean/Asian cuisine.

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                Speaking of the cuisine, I finally got my hands on their Dragon Enchilada. Which, certainly, had a nice crispy crust and some tasty, gooey cheese-meat insides, though it ultimately didn’t wow me as much as some of their other options. I’ve certainly had much worse versions of it though, and if you’re an enchilada junky it’s a solid one to buy.

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                Now, the Chicken Currito (-cough- curry burrito), that’s back on the Vellee Deli tracks. Very distinct, delicious, and well-rounded, with that nice combo of mouthfuls of soft rice paired alongside tender, delicately yellow-flavored curry chicken, a creamy bright sauce and properly used crispy lettuce. Basically hitting that burrito perfection reminiscent of the better trips to Chipotle (cuz we all know there are the “good” Chipotle stores and the not so good), but of course with a very well-put ethnic flavor twist.

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                Of course, with it being my colleague’s first visit, we had to get the Bahn Mi. I feel there’s nothing I need to say about this than what I’ve said before; still the best bahn mi that I’ve had, truck or otherwise.

                The Café itself is pretty small, so it can be tricky finding seats during one of the “rush” periods, especially with a group, so if planning on visiting for a sit-down affair then it’s best to time things properly. But one doesn’t have to just come for Vellee, as my little group can attest; we had to end the night with some of their ice cream.

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                Yep, that’s a nice little display of flavors. We decided to grab a scoop each of Raspberry-Chocolate-Truffle, Butter-Toffee, and Chocolate-Almond. Delicious as always, though I say that about most ice cream…

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                Overall, a very fun and successful co-op venture into temporary mobile housing (yes, I could have said that in a much simpler way, but I chose not to! Ha!), it almost makes me feel sad that it shall only last 5 months. Then again, I want Vellee back on the street, so I guess I shouldn’t really complain. For those feeling the craving for their fare, or any Korean/Pan-Asian kind of meal, do take the chance to head on down for a bite, a drink, and/or a cool frozen snack. And until the season is over, I wish both the businesses luck and success in this slow-season strategy, and good eatings to all those traveling their way.

Smack Shack Happy Hour

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                 Despite the many trucks I’ve been to so far and the many city restaurants I crave to visit, for research or personal reasons, I don’t actually get that many opportunities to go out, especially with my new work schedule (would think getting paid might help my cause but… not so much). Imagine my delight when, after joining multiple groups on the Meetup website (which is a great way for those house-stuck people like me to find ways and excuses to get out and socialize), my first opportunity knocked right into my ballpark: Happy Hour at the Smack Shack Restaurant.

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                Finally I can check them off my list, and soon before I’m about to hit Vellee Deli’s pop-up too! As for my little socialization thing, it was fun and eventful and a great way to spend a couple hours, but let’s get to what really matters (particularly with this blog); the Food.

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                Let me just say that walking in is the first experience in culinary delight, as the long, skinny high hallway ends right before the main bar, of which is connected to the giant Boiler Pot swimming in onions and spices (at first I wondered if it was just a big thing of popular soup or sauce or something, but nope, they use the same big thing to cook aaaaalllllll their boils. Makes me wonder of the awesomeness in flavor development as the night progresses), the aroma wafting up as one views the windowed kitchen from afar.

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                From there one can continue forward or turn into the larger bar area (not sure if Happy Hour has to be there, never asked, sorry!), lined on the left with their glass case of various kegs and bottled beer selections. I mean why store them in the back when they can all be lighted and on display?

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                After ordering a Fulton Ringer (sadly I wish they had more and interesting beers on their Happy Hour, like their drink menu, but Fulton and Summit were sorta the limit), looking very odd next to the piles of Hurricane Glasses around me (and no I’m not sure if they were better than New Orlean’s, but one can always guess; still tasty though), I placed a couple food bids from the well-priced Happy Hour selections.

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                For my first time here, I of course had to stick with some truck-reminiscent items (though I guess most of the happy hour selections were of that locale), in particular a Fried Oyster Slider. Oh, I haven’t had fried oysters in a long while, and this was a good one to come back to. Batter was good, firm and crispy, with a soft, juicy, tender inside which still contains that nice little grey-ish (I’ve discovered I like describing flavors and aromas in colors at times) briny flavor. And the mayo sauce was good too.

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                Next plate went to a couple Short Rib Tacos, made of course from Masa as it should be. Now, I love a good Short Rib, and the flavor from these were certainly proper, but it feels like they missed the mark a bit. For starters, the meat didn’t feel as tender and moist and juicy as it can be; not DRY, but like some pulled pork. I mean, if you KNOW beef short ribs, and what they can taste like after long hours of moist, rich braising…. awww man, they can just epitomize that peak of melty beefy heaven. And the texture here just seemed at a noticeably lower stepping stone than what it should be.

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                Secondly, I think the tacos needed at least one or two more elements; other ones I saw had a few toppings, while this only had pickled onions and pickled red peppers; which were good, but bare and very singular in note. Well, and a sauce too, but on bottom and very inline with the short rib flavors. Maybe just a sprinkle of queso blanco, or a little herby corn salsa mixed into the sauce, and it would have been PERFECT.

                Mind you, again, it tasted pretty darn good overall, but knowing what these guys can do I’m just surprised at what was offered over the simple possibility.

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                Of course, though this was all I ate, I had to take pictures of my colleague’s food. Both Pork and Catfish tacos were offered, and they looked GOOD (see, look at all those toppings on the fish one).

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                A Cobb Salad featuring a heaping pile of Lobster Meat, and of course some of that signature toasted Milk Bread on the side in place of croutons.

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                Someone had gotten the Blackened Catfish Slider, and god I was tempted to steal a piece of that fish; very much wish I had ordered that. It’s on the Happy Hour too, and I’m betting one of the best deals for it.

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                And it’s not a Smack Shack Dining Event without one of their Mac n Cheeses, here served into a proper soup bowl as opposed to the giant paper-made bar trays (so annoying when dealing with the leftovers). I think they got Bacon, but not too sure; and for those who still have yet to have or hear of this, it’s a must-get. Made with Taleggio cheese, it’s a much stronger and more “distinctive” flavor, but good with the bacon or lobster.

                Sadly, no one getting the traditional Roll, but I’m sure it tastes just as good as it has before. Overall I had fun, the menu was as interesting as before, a little pricey as expected though there area  few good deals here and there (especially in Happy Hour), and I was able to scratch them off my list. I do regret and wish I could have tried those Lobster Corn Dogs, but we can’t have everything I guess.

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                If you ever wanna experience Smack Shack, definitely go here; I still think that their concept is much better as a sit-down Lunch or Dinner affair than on the street, and there are a lot more various fun and interesting options. Plus, you can drink, and who doesn’t love that?

                Good Boils and Great Claw Crushing to you all, thank you to the particular social group for having me on, and I wish everyone reading luck in their street-food-related adventures!

Favreau’s on the Move?

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                So of all the venues I’ve been using to try and keep track of Food Truck related news (facebook, blogs, magazine feeds, actually walking the streets, etc), I never figured watching pirated internet videos of Top Chef would be one of them.

                For those who don’t watch and, as such, don’t immediately understand the reference I’m making, apparently a mister guest judge Jon Favreau appeared in a recent episode, in which he made the announcement and talked about his new acting+directing project: “Chef”. To describe it simply, the Movie will be about an L.A. chef (played by Favreau) who, after losing his way and passion in the industry, opens up a Food Truck in Miami. The Truck, well and properly named “El Jefe Cubano” (oh yeah, definitely want to go to that truck), is driven cross-country in his journey to find himself.

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                With the Production and Filming having started July-August of 2013; shooting in places like Miami, Austin, and New Orleans (which thus explains his presence on this season’s bayou-centric Top Chef); Chef is slated to release May 9, 2014, and will be opening Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival on March 7th. So for all you Texans and Southern Travelers going to the festival, have fun and enjoy the early premier! Wish I was in your shoes! (And -cough- hate you with my very soul and all that)

                Think it’s safe to say that I am uber excited for this culinary comedy to finish up production and get into theaters. Especially since it’ll be featuring Robert Downy Jr. along with other Iron Man co-stars. But of course the main point of interest is simply seeing how they translate this common-day food trend to the silver screen, along with that most spiritualistic of journeys that food tends to play in our lives (oh, and the jokes, gotta look for the jokes).

                There’s no questioning that I will see this as soon as it comes out, and I hope you do too! Can’t wait, make sure you look out for my reaction (which will NOT contain a whole damn summary of the film, way too much work for something that other people will do on Wikipedia anyways) about a week after it hits!

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                 And speaking of special projects, I myself have been working and planning out something of my own in the past week or so (haven’t had much to report for RoW anyways). Should have things “up and running” on it in a week I’d guess; make sure to keep your eyes peeled for my reveal post.

                But until all that, good luck and good eating, warmer weather is only a couple months away (supposedly)!

Beer Dabbler 2014

(Crap! I meant to post this like a week ago, but I guess it was stuck in my editing box. Sorry about that guys! Feel so lazy now…)

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http://www.thebeerdabbler.com/ 

                The New Years is passed, the first cold snap hit, and as always at this time of year the Beer Dabbler is just around the corner.

                Taking place in the ginormous area that is the State Fair Grounds (or at least the Midway), the Dabbler (for those still unaware… as I was until recently -cries-) is the biggest outdoor Beer Festival in the State (and I’m sure it rivals a few others outside it, though don’t quote me on that). Showcasing and sampling beers from over 150 different local and national breweries, this even is sure to shoo away all the winter cold Mother Nature keeps trying to throw at us.

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                Of course there’s more than just Beer to be offered; entertainment is key and expected in these events, with a full lineup of Live Bands and Music (which is yet to be up), Wynchfest’s typical Snowboard course to watch professionals shred, a “Silent Disco” (no clue, I’m hoping it’s not what it sounds like), and an attempt to break a Guinness World Record. That’s right, this year those at the event will help participate in the World’s Largest Snowball Fight!

                Various vendors and of COURSE Food Trucks will be there as well to better accompany the many alcoholic exchanges. And though they have yet to get a list up of who all will be there, I’ll be sure to update when (or, more realistically, if) they get around to it on the site.

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                The Dabbler will be taking place on Saturday 25th, from 3:30-7:30pm as stated, with regular entrance tickets being $35 online beforehand ($50 if buying at entrance), which allow one to try aaalllll the beers on sample for free (they also had V.I.D. tickets for $99, but they’re already sold out). As far as travel goes, for those unable or not feeling like driving a car good news, as the local metro buses are giving free rides along routs to the Fairgrounds (provided you show them the downloadable “voucher” for it on the site).

                And that’s about all I can say about it, as any attempt I could make in going into FURTHER detail of the event would pale in comparison and skill versus what one can find on the site itself or from more able-fingered local magazines and experienced bloggers. And sadly, despite a huge love of beer and desire to attend I doubt I’ll actually be able to go this year and further report on the street food (and ok, some beer) findings in person. Varying work schedule and monetary budges can just be a bitch can’t they?

                For those who do go, have fun, good eating, but especially good drinking! Look forward to various other blogger’s more detailed and beer-centered reviews/reactions to the day’s events afterwards!

A Journey in Dim Sum

(Spurred on by a morning “brunch” at Pagoda, I couldn’t help but want to write about a certain subject today. Sadly though I forgot to take multiple pictures of the food to better pair along with it, so I had to settle for simple, general shots of carts and things I found online)

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                The practice of Dim Sum, the almost buffet-style service of small Chinese plates from pushed carts (regular and steamed, though apparently there are some places that eschew the carts to ordering from a “menu” of sorts) and offered to patrons at different costs per item, owes its origins not to restaurants or Chinese family tradition, but to Tea; or, to be more specific, Tea Houses which took up residence along the Silk Road (Ancient trans-Asian trading route). Travelers, weary from the long treks and business, and Rural Farmers alike would use the houses as a place of rest. Just rest, and warm rehydration for the longest time, as tea and food were not consumed together (a belief of 1+1=really fat) until it was “discovered” that tea aided in digestion. Though there’s also theories it started due to a recent ban on Opium Dens; the only sense of which I could make out of being that they themselves (somehow) entertained a rich tea-drinking tradition… along with certain other indulgences.

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                With freedom to eat, owners of the small, limited houses started offering Small Snacks and dishes to consume and restore the patrons along with the tea. It might have lightly started with only a couple of “options,” or just one set dish made from whichever cooking tools they used. In particular, simple dishes like traditional Porridge (made with Rice in the South and Wheat in the North, also marking the regional focus on dumpling wrapper base ingredients), flavored with local aromatics and whichever proteins and vegetables one could get their hands on, were employed in much the same fashion as the Soups of the French Restaurers (said to be the first true “restaurants,” and where we get the term, and coming into existence a few hundred years after the tea house development). They “restored” a person’s energy, along with their Chi, their Soul.

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                This was “Eating to Live,” one of the various Chinese concepts and theories about the connection between food and person. Basically describing the consumption of grains, cereals, and similar energy and nutrition-focused items, it stands in stark contrast to “Eating for Pleasure,” the cooking of Meats and Vegetables designed, at that time (and still true today in many a sense), purely for the enjoyment of flavor, an extravagance used mainly when one can afford it, for special occasions, or the rich.

                Growing to consist of a variety of now-familiar items such as various dumplings (bun and noodle based), sticky rice wraps, porridge, and fried noodle rolls/balls, ALL offered as-is or filled with any form of protein desired, one could thus conclude these Tea Houses (and/or some of the bigger “cafes” grown from the concept in a later century) to be one of the first Chinese establishments to properly combine and display both of these long-held ideals. A place one could go to experience pleasure, while eating that needed to live, either separately or together.

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                Its origins have been said to stem from the South, which makes a bit of sense considering the cuisine of the Canton region boasts the most diverse and varied offerings in China. Perhaps this may have been one of the original factors which lead to the smorgasbord of different offerings we have today (not to mention the many Steamed Dishes, the vaporized cooking method being a particularly important and traditional method in the region). Nonetheless where it began, this popular trend spread from the southern trading paths of Guangzou to nearby Hong Kong, soon becoming an inlaid practice for the sustenance of cities (not just roads) throughout the Country. Not to mention providing even further variety in main ingredients, cooking styles, and preparation techniques for the many different food options to choose from today (thank you North for the extra dumplings!).

                Of the many new demographics over the coming decades of growth for this tradition, one of the most important (both in volume and impact), oddly enough, came in the form of their elderly. As morning exercises were an important cultural part to their day, the consumption of tea and (as follows) dim sum right afterwards to replenish energy and partake in group social traditions soon followed into a cultural habit. With this, the benefiting cafes and tea houses ended up “opening” the establishments as early as 5am as part of their culture (or that could just be certain ones nowadays, unclear), and traditionally halting dim sum around mid-afternoon. Which answered my personal wonderment as to why so many dim sum times happen during “brunch.”

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                With social convention woven in over the years, dim sum slowly turned from quiet moments of rest and contemplation to loud, joyful dining experiences. By this point its transition into “restaurant” use was more complete, and with various technological, geographical, emigrational and social changes has evolved to that point where it is today, both in China and worldwide.

                And as many of these cultural culinary focuses sink into the present, the actions of interests, cravings and trends do what they are wont to do. For both the good and the bad, they find ways to take this tradition and apply it to ever changing demographics, ever needy audiences who shape delivery along with industry itself. From serving “dim sum” from carts and booths on the streets of today (some in skewers), to selling it as “take out,” and to who knows whatever interesting and weird ways of presenting it; and yes, even Food Trucks.

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                But one can’t deny the soul that this tradition has grown, starting its course from the routes of travel and moving to the table, yet still finding its way back. Even in this mishmashed, modern culture we live in today, dim sum is able to express itself and delight us in the same way as when it began, and in the way it truly is: as Street Food. Maybe not in the mobile sense, though some carts ARE sliding those dumplings on skewers, but in what street food WAS, and how it started. As those little booths, and stands, and shacks, run by family and serving simple, heart-warming food meant not just for the body but for the spirit.

                This is the food that was tied to people, who they are and how they lived. It’s for this reason that it is still engrained into the cuisines and restaurants today, and it’s for this reason we still celebrate and look forward to it, not just because it’s fun and delicious but because of what it ties into, what those who make it try to share with us. Street food is more than just something one can hold in their hand, it’s something that can transport our spirit, and Dim Sum does that.

                So, with all that said, why don’t we have a Dim Sum Food Truck here yet!!? Come oooonnnn, please?? I swear it’d be popular, truly (the Dim Sum restaurants do seem to be quite successful here, or at least growing)! It might not be the PERFECT street food, but it’s close, it even has the whole nostalgic and historic traditional thing going for it! I’ve already said they have carts skewering things, so why can’t we put the rest in a big truck as well? They already perform well in rolling mini carts, this way we just have people come to the food instead of the other way around (though I guess the truck would still be coming to “your area,” so kinda the same?).

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                Just think about it. Heading up to a very simple truck or large cart with large glass windows showing the various options just waiting for you underneath steamers or light warming areas (like Potter’s little pasty pile). You grab yourself a long skewer of 4 sauce laden pork/shrimp dumplings, large fluffy Char Siu (bbq pork) Bun, the thick and chewy deep-fried rice “dumpling” of Haam Sei Gauu (look it up, seriously, so good) in a paper wrapping, or maybe even a Coconut/Red Bean Custard Bun if you’re in the mood for dessert. Or maybe it’s a cold day, you’re tired from work/exercise or for whatever reason under the wheather, and you grab a nice, warm bowl of aromatic herb Rice Porridge filled with seafood or other meat to rejuvenate yourself for the rest of the day. Not to mention all the other almost-limitless possibilities.

               Doesn’t that sound good? Doesn’t that sound AMAZING to find on the street, especially on some of the colder spring/autumn days? Of course it does. But it’s not going to be a reality until someone makes a decision to start, so let’s do all we can to find a way and make this happen! If you’re thinking about starting a truck and have some skill in Chinese Cuisine, consider this idea before stir-fry; if you know someone who makes awesome Dumplings and/or Cantonese food, push them to open a cart (don’t be subtle about it, I want these guys on the street NOW, haha), if you see a Kickstarter campaign… find a way to dupe someone with money to help fund it (don’t look at me, I’m practically still a college student with my budget atm)!

                But above all, just keep supporting the various (quality) Trucks which come out, as well as the various means they use to survive, to help encourage other culinary entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and ideas. For in this ever expanding world of cuisine, Ever-changing Modern and Long-standing Tradition both hang at the forefront of importance; two very hot, burning pyres which need be ever stoked and kept alive, keeping the warmth of our lives ongoing and filled with flickering excitement. For this way we can spread the warmth, the traditions, the history of all these great and amazing cuisines, to show those we love and care about something new and fun, for which they can do the same for others. In that sense we shall truly expand and celebrate that warmth that is our soul with others, and connect with others as people have for centuries. That is what food does for us, and what it continues to do as we implement both new and old traditions of spreading its joy.

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                Maybe that’s why I decided to start writing about Dim Sum today, because it’s one of the World Foods which evoke this idea and feeling so well, and so easily on the initial thoughts and emotions whence consuming; after all, it does translate to “Touch the Heart.”

                I rambled much from my initial dialogue and history lesson, much as I usually do in my various posts on this site, but I hope that in THIS sense/situation my readers are able to better understand why it is I do this now. And from here, hopefully my thoughts and feelings can better go out and encourage others to let themselves go in thought and conversation, and travel on their own fun, exciting, and emotional tangents in the middle of some journey that has nothing to do with it ever more often.

                Though whether you enjoyed my travel in thoughts of this afternoon or simply see these paragraphs as the typings of an unorderly, random weirdo on a soapbox (which is about to collapse on itself I assure you), I dearly wish you Good Luck in whatever culinary travels you are to partake in, either soon coming or down the line, and Good Eating experiences to all.

                Now go put a dumpling in your mouth.

SFC: The Deep Pickle, Part 4 (The Revenge! Wait, revenge is sweet…)

                When I was in culinary school, we learned a quick, one-day method for making “preserved lemons” during our African Cuisine class. The memory is hazy, but it involved cutting them in half, putting them in a hot skillet with saltwater (I think) and in the oven for a bit before shoving into a jar. Or something like that. Suffice it to say, it was an interesting thing to do, though the results were less than impressive (not bad, just… not noteworthy).

                My particular intrigue in this particular Moroccan culinary item was peaked again after seeing the full preparation method utilized on TV (no, this one wasn’t Alton, it was someone else… who I’m too ashamed to say). This being soon after I practiced full mason-jar-pickling, and the actual method of it being quite simple, I thought it’d be fun to attempt (and give myself another great pantry ingredient).

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Preserved Lemons

8 (ish) Lemons (ideally small)

Coarse Kosher or Sea Salt

Juice of 4 Lemons

½ cup EV Olive Oil

Bay Leaves, Cloves, Other Whole Spices (Optional)

                Starting with our equipment, we sterilize our Mason Jar as with the usual boiling method. You’ll want to grab the biggest Jar/s you can find (maybe decorated from a recent holiday), though the size of the jar is nowhere near as important to ensuring it has a very wide Mouth (you’ll see why later).

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                Cut the lemons in Deep Crosswise slices, almost cutting them in quarters but stopping right at the bud. Basically you want to keep them as whole as possible, while opening the insides up for “stuffing” (which makes me wonder if there are other cutting designs that can be tried out, like scooping V-slices).

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                Take your Salt and press a liberal sprinkle right into the flesh; like a Tablespoon or two at least. The proposed method for using this, and definitely great if you can do it, is to do this over a large pile (medium bowl, filled) of the salt and just do it by hand. Super easy, don’t have to wash hands or worry about salt going everywhere, but it becomes a big waste for all the salt you DON’T get in (as it’s now polluted with dripping citrus juice), so it has to be thrown or used immediately in some salt-heavy dish. So for those who are a bit conscious in how much they use, I sprinkled directly from the box, over a bowl so I can collect and immediately use the leftover salt.

                From here we can start stacking in the sterilized jars…

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                … is what I’d like to say, if I had a wide-mouth jar. If I did, we could just push the lemons in whole. However, some of us don’t have jars large enough, or lemons that are just too damn big, so we have to improvise, which as far as I can tell shouldn’t have affected the quality of my lemons at all (or if it did, VERY very small). I just cut mine in half, crosswise or lengthwise, and then a similar cross-cut as before to better stuff. Personally I think I prefer the length-wise cut better for getting and stuffing into the jar, though I’m not sure if there’s any curing advantage.

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                Either way, stuff the lemons deep into the glass, sprinkling some more salt every now and then between (at least if you’re not sure you stuffed enough salt inside) citruses. Go right to underneath the rim, and do NOT be afraid to squish and shove things down tight; we want that sort of environement. Probably while you’re doing this, or once done, you can choose to insert some bay leaves along the side of the glass, or a few other chosen spices between layers (or even in the lemon cuts beforehand) to flavor the preservation. I decided to keep mine simple and plain just to see what it’s like.

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                Fill with a 50-50 mix of water and some of the lemon juice, to the top, cover and leave on the counter for about two days. By this point the lemons would have softened a bit (you can sorta see it in the jar, just looky!) and you can shove one or maybe two extra ones back in. Re-fill with lemon juice as needed, and then top with Olive Oil to better form a lipid barrier (which I COMPLETELY forgot to do and am only just realizing! God I hope my results aren’t drastically different than what they should have been).

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                Re-cover and leave in a room temperature location, doesn’t need to be fridged or put in the snow, for at LEAST 3 weeks, a little over a month ideal (at least for me).

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                By the end you’ll have a soft, malleably pungent chunk of citrus that can be placed in any soup, stew, sauce, marinade, salad, or whichever kind of food one desires. Following a few simple rules, and supposing the flavor fits, of course. Firstly, despite its deliciousness, one should not be eating this “raw,” as-is; just a bit TOO much for that. If you want it in a very minimalistic, “pure” or fresh connotation as opposed to manipulated flavors, should still Blanch for at least 5 minutes (great to blend in salad dressings, or julienne fine afterwards for a garnish).

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                Secondly, when using, one can most likely get rid of or reduce the amount of salt used in the dish. And Lastly, you’re only using this for the Skin. When applying for cooking, you want to peel the flesh out (which is accomplished really easily and cleanly, as can see by the pic) and toss it, as it is supposedly unusable… at least that’s what I’ve heard, I also ran across a stew recipe that used some of it. Sooooo… best left to your own judgment in the situation I think?

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                As for what we can make with it here, could easily stick with a classic Moroccon Lamb (or other meat) Tagine, like I made one night… and will probably wrap in a tortilla for work tomorrow. Or we could use it to substitute and enhance the lemon aspect of another recipe, sayyyy… something Shrimp based….

Preserved Lemon Shrimp Scampi (after adjustments)

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

½ Head of Garlic (5-6 large Cloves)

1 Small Onion

½ Preserved Lemon Peel

1-3 Tb (depending) Fresh Herbs, chopped

Ground Black Pepper

1 Package, 24-32 Large Shrimp

                I saw a fun recipe for Shrimp Scampi that I thought would be great to put in a Taco, though I had to adjust it a bit (can you believe they only used 4 small cloves of garlic and TWO whole onions? I mean seriously), then re-adjust from some… -cough- overestimations.

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                Start by heating up the olive oil to about a medium-low to medium level. While this is going, mince the onions and garlic to very small portions, almost a paste: using a grater works really well for this purpose.

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                Dice the Lemon peel small, almost to a mince, and transfer to the hot oil along with the onion and garlic. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, add your Herb of choice (Tarragon works really well, or Cilantro since we’re doing a Taco, but I only had Sage) and a pinch of Pepper, and keep cooking 1-2 minutes more. By the end, the veggies should have softened, released their rich aromatics, and not have any form of caramelization to them.

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                Let this cool a bit in the pan, and prepare your shrimp as needed.

                Peel, devein, disassemble, or do whatever your particular shrimp needs doing so as to leave it as desired for the preparation. Traditionally, this would be with only the tail on, but for this use all shells should come off; also, I like cutting them in half so as not to deal with the weird, large circular whole pieces. (Though a note on selection, I would have LOVED to use those really tiny, flavor-packed Rock Shrimp, and suggest them highly if you have the chance)

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                This does leave me with a lot of leftover shells though, which I hate to throw away, and you shouldn’t either. If you have them, I suggest sautéing in a pan, covering with water and boil/simmering for a few hours to make a Shrimp Stock, great for Sauces, Soups, or other uses (I used it for my liquid base when making a Rice Pilaf).

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                Mix shrimp and garlic mixture in bowl (yes, my garlic turned green… no I’m not sure why, but I assume it was due to an olive oil absorption) and let “marinate” for as long as desired. The original recipe only did it for 30 minutes… but again, seriously? I popped it in the fridge for the afternoon, whoooo Go Garlic!

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                There are probably a few ways one could cook this, with the most oft used and generally useful being to Broil at High, which only takes 5 minutes. I tried it, and it looked beautiful and turned out tasty, but I wasn’t fully satisfied for the final results. I’m sure it worked great for the original recipe, or maybe it was that my broiler wasn’t AS hot as “ideal,” but ultimately the garlic marinade never cooked around it ideally (harsh as it is to say, but I might have had too much garlic in there initially… thus the adjusted recipe). Next time, I’ll probably end up skewering them in bunches and grilling; always been my FAVORITE way of shrimp preparation anyways, no matter the use and flavors.

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                Once cooked as desired, it’s simply a matter of assembling your taco however you want. I did use the Flour Tortilla in this, I will defend that point; it’s basically a European based recipe, so I find it acceptable (plus there’s many a Caribbean seafood taco that uses flour over masa/corn). A little bit of the Shrimp Rice (also cooked with a bit of preserved lemon), some Salsa, Onion-Celery Slaw, and a fresh grating of Parm on top, and we have ourselves a tender, garlicky bundle of perfumed lemony goodness (and salsa, much salsa…).

I hope this post has helped to get you thinking about even more ways to “cure” and “pickle” the various produce we interact with on a day to day basis. Still I look forward to making even more things to fill this ever expanding “series” which I seem to be doing, and can’t wait to get onto the next delicious venture. But for now thanks for reading, enjoy your sour little condiment, and good luck preserving in the rest of the cold winter months.

Those Lost, 2013

                Another year has come and gone, filled with many exciting adventures, relationships, new discoveries, and for this blog of course Food Trucks. But with many new ventures rolling onto the street, we have inevitably lost quite a few along the way. A made a small memento post about a few of these missing businesses shortly after starting this blog, and I think it’s only fair to Update and Continue this list in the years to come.

                So please join me in a moment of silent respect and remembrance as I take a brief look back into those no longer with us, starting with our more recent losses.

 

Barrio Taco Truck

Link to Review

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                Though my disdain for their prices was heavily known, I was very surprised to see this highly popular truck no longer roaming Downtown. Truly they did offer the best quality and technically executed Tacos from any of our trucks, and I’m sad to see them go.

Aussie’s Kebabs

Link to Review

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                 A real shame, as they pedaled out one of the most unique and idealistic Street Food item that I’ve found in my travels. A traditional “kebab,” not the one you’re thinking of, made by slicing of gyro (or gyro-style) meat, wrapping it with veggies and sauce in a pita bread “tortilla,” and then pressing like a Panini. Maybe the size of their cart never truly stood out amongst the rest, but their food and idea reached high to a potential which I sorely miss.

Trinh Food Truck

Link to Review

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               Serving up very simple and traditional Bahn Mi’s, they were the only truck one could find Boba Tea, which was an odd but very effective highlight for me. I’m not that surprised to see them go, but I don’t think it should have been an inevitable end for them. Hopefully they’ve found success in whatever catering/food career they’re at outside of the mobile.

Untamed Cart

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                A True Culinarian’s Delight, the small cart was operated by two professional chefs (I forget which kitchen it was out of) who served a small variety of easy-to-assemble but complex-to-prep sandwiches, along with some good quality chips. I was SO depressed when I found out they were gone, they had some really good food. My very first taste was a homemade Porketta (if you don’t know what that it, look it up and watch your mouth salivate and get excited) sandwich, probably one of my favorite food items I’ve had from a Truck so far (which makes me think, I should do a list of my favorites…). What makes me even sadder is knowing many that now no longer have a chance to try their food.

Taqueria La Hacienda

Link to Review  

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               Serving out of a large, long yellow Truck with an up-front ice tray filled to the brim full of Mexican sodas, Hacienda was the Downtown’s access to delicious traditional tacos, which we are sorely in more need of (we have other trucks that do that, but they seem to stay away from the Downtown Cities). Technically I am still unsure as to whether they are truly off the street, but there has been no word on Twitter for over a year and it seems the website is down. Possibly they are just keeping the Truck down in the Latin district of Minneapolis, near the Mercado Central, but either way I will miss you Hacienda.

Yummi

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                A bahn mi-based cart. Previously discussed in 2013 Article.

Origins Coffee and Tea

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                A drink-only specialization cart for the morning runner. Previously discussed in 2013 Article.

Magic Bus

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                A big Purple Bus shoveling out amazing Hot Dogs, which sadly moved their business to Colorado. Previously discussed in the 2013 Article.

Cook n Wheels

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                A food truck I hadn’t had a chance to visit (and know nothing about), has appeared to be off the streets for quite a long while. Previously discussed in the 2013 Article.

The Brothers Deli

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                A small cart serving awesome Deli Sandwiches and knish based out of their store. Previously discussed in the 2013 Article.

 

Honorable Absentees

                Sort of weird to have an “Honorable Mentions” type section in a post like this, however there are, without a doubt, some trucks that seem to have made a noticeable absence in the past summer/s yet have still left doubt as to whether or not they’re really gone, or are still operating out of a different kitchen (or some other thing). So I wanted to put these guys here, at least for now.

Awesome Eats

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                A big green catering truck that started serving tacos and then switched things up on people, AE moved into the NE Palace kitchens during the last winter and, as far as I can tell, have yet to move out of it. Though I haven’t seen any update post on their facebook since summer, so I’m not sure if they’re even still there.

Cruzn Café

Link to Review  

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              After seeming to come back on the scene with new menu additions a couple summers ago, and still having a fully operating and detailed website, I have yet to see Cruzn on the street since the first “Annual Food Truck Event” in downtown, nor any updates to their Twitter. My guess and hope is that they’re keeping themselves to catering, as it would disappoint me to see them completely done with such a fun Business.

Smack Shack

Link to Review  

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               With their recent new, very Big Restaurant, Smack Shack basically backed away from the streets in the summer of 2013. Whether they’ll be returning or not is anyone’s guess at this point.

The Cave Café

Link to Review  

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                 A big White “Truck” serving African cuisine, I haven’t heard much from cave since a twitter post exactly one year ago. Where they are is currently unclear, hopefully this will be remedied in the coming season.

 

                Already we miss all of you who visited and served our streets, and though your success may have been short lived I speak for us all when I say Thank You in your efforts and for including us in your journey. I wish all the people running these trucks good luck in their future, and perhaps chance that we may meet again in a revised future go-at-it.

                This is Andrew with Reviews on Wheels, wishing all my readers a Happy 2014 and all the Trucks, current, past, and upcoming, a great Year. I’ll be out to get you soon.

                Good Luck and Good Eating.