Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Recap - 2015 Seattle Street Food Festival

Food Trucks

Originally, I planned on attending one day of the Seattle Street Food Festival.  So…yeah, I ended up going on Saturday and Sunday.  That’s the debauchery and excess that is my life.
Street Food Vendors / Seating Area

This event had a mellow vibe, food trucks, street food, craft vendors, and music.  I find that “food truck events” standing alone can be a bit stressful and overcrowded.  I enjoyed the South Lake Union location.  Denny Park offered grassy seating, playgrounds for kids, shade, and even a few benches!  The streets left room for constant movement and it was rare to see food truck lines cross or impede pedestrian foot traffic.  The event was also well-organized, which goes a long way.  I really liked the organization of the street food vendors with tables and chairs nearby.  I’ll eat anywhere but I prefer a seat, just sayin’.  Now on to the food! 

I’ll admit that I shy away from places that serve fried chicken.  Why?  Because I love it so much!  I decided to dive in just for a taste - $5 chicken wings.  When I got the basket, I thought the wings were a bit small.  No matter, I had a big day of eating ahead of me.  The chicken looked a bit dry before I poured on the sauce.  I was so wrong!  They were juicy, tender and the sauce had just the right amount of kick. 

Chicken Wings - Chick'n Fix
I say it every time.  Taiyaki is the perfect street food!  It’s a soft waffle; it’s filled with your sweet or savory dreams; and you can walk and eat at the same time.  What’s not to love?  Grab some ramune FTW!

Custard Taiyaki - BeanFish

The People’s Burger
I’m not a huge burger fan but I could eat one, just sayin’.  The jalapeno burger is topped with fire roasted jalapeno, cream cheese, tomato, argula, and The People’s sauce.  The burger was prepared well and clearly the meat was of decent quality.  I’d like a little less cream cheese since it tapers the spice level of the jalapeno but overall, a good burger.

Jalapeno Burger - The People's Burger
I’ve been on the hunt for Seattle’s best mini-donut since I lost my faith in my former favorite.  The crispy outside of the donut is only matched by the tenderness inside.  Top that with maple and real bacon…well, you get me, you really get me.  By the way, I’ve had their plain donuts to test the batter.  I could eat them all day long – no toppings required.

Maple Bacon Donuts - Hot Revolution Donuts

Waffles on a stick – why not?  Their chicken and waffle is one of my favorites.  Sometimes they serve it with maple butter but this time, they served it with maple syrup.  The quality of the chicken comes through in every bite.  It’s on a stick so it travels well and everyone asks, “Where did you get that?”  Pepper adds a little spice.  Pair that with comforting potato salad and it’s summer all over again.

Chicken and Waffle - My Sweet lil Cakes

Sweet Bumpas (street vendor)
I discovered Sweet Bumpas earlier this year at Fremont Sunday Market.  It’s hard not to stalk them.  My favorite flavor is monkey batter.  On this particular day, I tried the lemon sesame.  I’m a sucker for “sesame” anything.  The flavor went really well with the citrus of the lemon. 

Lemon Sesame - Sweet Bumpas

Anchorhead Coffee (street vendor)
I like coffee flavored coffee.  No cream, no sugar, and plenty strong.  Anchorhead is perfect for me.  After an exhausting day of eating (clearly) I grabbed a large bottle of concentrated cold brew to go.  Best decision ever.  Make it hot, make it cold, just make it! 

Single Cold Brew - Anchorhead

Jemil’s Big Easy
I was blessed with Jemil’s Cajun ribs!  All you need to know is that I will eat them all given the chance and will likely wrestle you for them.  Tender meat off the bone with Cajun flavor that will have you licking your fingers and smacking your lips.   My favorite dish is the jambalaya.  It’s always spot on and the spices leave me wanting more every time!

Cajun Rib with Asian Slaw - Jemil's Big Easy

Caravan Crepes
This truck has production down and wait times are minimal.  The crepe is delicate and beautiful.  The star of the show was the chocolate mousse with bourbon salted caramel.  Read it again and wipe the drool off your chin.  Each flavor of the mousse was meant to be.  I’m pretty sure I could eat scoops of it and Brooke should consider making pints for sale. 

Chocolate Mousse Bourbon Salted Caramel - Caravan Crepes

Soda Jerk 
If I see Soda Jerk, I'm buying something to drink.  Always.  Lemon Lavender is one of my favorites because I love lavender anything.  Blueberry basil is my second fave since I love blueberry anything (notice a pattern?).  Funny thing is, I don't drink soda on the regular.  Somehow, these flavors keep me coming back for more!  And how could you NOT love the adorable little car?

Soda Jerk Soda

Fruit Chatter Box
I don't like to cut my own fruit.  My friend Evan said that's the most bougie thing he's ever heard.  Lucky for me, Fruit Chatter Box can be found around town.  I love sliced mango, but again, will never slice them and can buy them here!  They slice other fruit like watermelon, papaya, and pineapple just to name a few!

Mango - Fruit Chatter Box

The Blue W
I decided to try the peppered bacon poutine and hoped they wouldn’t run out like they did the previous day.  They served it with something called vampire cheese curds and pan gravy.  When I saw the dish, it looked fairly simple.  The pan gravy looked watery but I was really surprised by the flavor punch.  It also coated the fries really well which is something I always look for in poutine. 

Peppered Bacon Poutine - The Blue W
Handsome Dave will tell you (as he told me a few weeks ago) that the caprese sandwich is a dish I order often.  Why?  Honestly, I’m not always hungry enough to eat an order of fish and chips.  Have you seen the size of those fish?  HUGE!!!  I also find it hard to pass up the hand pulled mozzarella on the caprese.  It forms the base of a perfect sandwich between Macrina bread. 

Caprese Sandwich and Fries - NOSH

If it seems like a lot of food, it was.  Overall, a great weekend, filled with great food, and great people!  Until next time, follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more real time foodtruckery posts!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Chef Jemil Aziz Johnson - From NOLA with Love

Jemil's Big Easy in South Lake Union
The sight of Jemil's Big Easy food truck makes me do a double take every time.  I've been following the truck for years with good reason - the food is amazing!  Combine that with great staff and I'll follow the truck just about anywhere! 

On Monday, July 27, 2015, I stopped by Kraken Congee to attend Jemil's pop-up - From NOLA with Love.  My mouth was watering as I looked over the menu and smiled when I saw a picture I took on the Dyne page.  I'm in!!!

First Course - Corn Fritter with Crab, Spiced Yam, and Greens.  The fritter had a crispy texture.  The crunch was tapered by the delicate greens.  The sweetness of the spiced yam was a perfect pairing with the salty crab.  Great way to start the meal! 

Corn Fritter with Crab, Spiced Yam, and Greens
Second Course - Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo.  I've had Jemil's gumbo many times.  The bite of the spices keep me coming back for more!  The sausage is expertly prepared.  The tender, fatty duck is a perfect addition to the already well-composed dish.  This was comfort in a bowl.  

Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Third Course - Melon Soup.  I'd never had melon soup before and imagined it would be overly sweet.  I was wrong.  It was refreshing and the sweetness was balanced by a nice mix of peppers which also gave it a kick. 

Melon Soup
Fourth Course - Pasta Bordelaise with Toast Points and Basil Butter.  The pasta was cooked al dente.  The crunchy toast points covered with basil butter had me wanting to eat the butter by the spoonful!  My friends literally tried to grab my bread off the plate! 

Pasta Bordelaise with Toast Points and Basil Butter
Fifth Course - Cajun Trio Taster.  Yikes!  By the time this course rolls around, I'm seriously struggling.  Jemil loves to feed people and you'll never walk away hungry.  The blackened quail was cooked really well and was a great way to introduce folks to the dish if they've never had it before.  The jambalaya is one of my favorite dishes!  It had perfectly cooked rice and the seasoning was on the money.  I have to confess that I couldn't eat all the étouffée since I stuffed my mouth full of jambalaya! 

Cajun Trio Taster
Sixth Course - Flambéed Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.  Just when I thought I couldn't eat another bite, it was time for dessert!  Okay, maybe I can have just a bit.  Yes.  I ate it all.  All the sweetness of bananas foster with chunks of bread pudding.  Did I mention the dreamy ice cream?  How could I forget?  I scream for ice cream!!!  

Flambéed Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
Overall, it was a great night and honestly one of the best pop-ups I've been to.  Then again, I've come to expect nothing less from Jemil.  I left with a very happy tummy.  :-)

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Oh!  Guess who's getting some national attention?  That's right, catch Jemil on Cutthroat Kitchen later this month!  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

GaiBox | Mobile Mavens

GaiBox at The Bite of Seattle

GaiBox is one of a collection of campers that make up Mobile Mavens.  The concept behind GaiBox is chicken and rice.  Many cultures have a version of the dish.  This version is based on Nong’s Khao Man Gai in Portland, Oregon.

I recently stopped by the camper when they were at The Bite.  You choose a sauce top off your chicken and rice.  I chose the pattaya sauce made of thai chilis, nuoc cham, and sweet vinegar.  I was struck by the fragrant chicken when I scooped a bite to eat.  The herbs pervaded the soft, poached chicken and worked very well with the rice.  

Chicken and Rice with Pattaya Sauce

The rice!  My rice NEVER gets that fluffy when I make it.  They were tiny pillows of puffy goodness cooked in broth.  Delicate in flavor and texture, it was a perfect pairing with the chicken.  The chicken suffered from a common ailment of being poached – it needed more salt.  Also, if you’re into “spice”, their definition of spicy and mine are totally different.  Prefer my chicken and rice spicier but can definitely understand how it would be less so for mainstream purposes.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Recap - 2015 Taco Libre Truck Showdown

Crowd shot - angle courtesy of short people problems :-)

I read a number of interesting comments posted by folks who attended this event. Some had a great time; others a terrible time. I understand some of the frustration since I’ve had many of the same concerns over the years. Many concerns could have been mitigated by visiting the Mobile Food Rodeo website. They provide tips and ALWAYS list their truck lineup. Yes, it’s busy. Because everyone has the same idea – eat yummy food!

My mantra is the same for each huge food truck event. If you want to see as many trucks as possible, get there early before the lines. I was there at 5pm and the lines were minimal.  Otherwise, get there whenever you want and come with friends. If there's 6 of you and each of you stand in a line to buy food to share, that's only one time you have to wait in line. If each person gets 2-3 dishes (12-18 dishes total), all of you will have plenty to eat.  

For most of the trucks, I'm in line with everyone else. I typically don't see trucks that I have access to on a regular basis and focus on newer trucks and those with interesting menus. It's hard to spread the love around with the sheer volume of mobile trucks in Seattle.
Are dogs welcome? I'm not sure but there's always a good amount of well-behaved, leashed friends. This is my current crush Sawyer. Isn't he adorable? 

Sawyer the Shiba Inu

Now on to the trucks!

Brisket Sandwich - Meat on a Mission

Meat on a Mission is a truck I haven't visited before. I decided to stop by for a brisket sandwich. I love brisket! I prefer my brisket sliced (and they give you a choice). The slices were a decent size and the portion was good for the price. It was fragrant with smoke and the sauce was flavorful. The brisket was slightly underdone and not as tender as I would expect. The bun was sweet and easy to grab...for a little while. By the time I got to the last 1/4 of my sandwich, the bottom of the bun was a soggy, gooey mess. The presentation was messy, including the box that was covered with sauce on the outside. 

Al's Gourmet Sausage totally blew my mind! Now, there was a shave ice vendor on site. When I stopped there, they were actually selling snow cones. Shave ice and snow cones are not the same thing. I was bummed, wandering aimlessly. I came across Al's and they had a shave ice machine! They even had syrups imported from Hawaii! Al's is totally legit in my book. 

I recognize that picture! - Fish Basket
Cod Tacos - Fish Basket

Fish Basket was in the house with their cod tacos. The fish was crispy as ever! The flavors of the fish, sauce, and fresh veggies will make you want more! Okay, I was starting to get full but remember, I'm in it to win it!!!

Sweet Taco - Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses was a hit! They ran out of their savory tacos early that night. They did have a few sweet tacos left - chocolate tortilla, macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Thank goodness I found them. It had been a whole 15 minutes since the last time I ate! 

Beef Tamales - Jemil's Big Easy

Cajun Tacos - Jemil's Big Easy

Jemil's Big Easy was on the street with two specials - beef tamales and cajun tacos. The biggest thing about Jemil's food is the flavor and spice. The tamale sauce had just the right amount of heat. The cajun tacos featured a fried and not-so-fried option for those who think they're going to eat healthier, lol. 

Honestly, I wanted to hit up more trucks but a combination of lines, growing fullness in my belly, and exhaustion of hitting up two major food truck events on the same day set in. Overall, the event was pretty successful. 

The "All-You-Can-Eat" Taco Bar lounge was presented by The Matador. For $25, people were promised as many tacos as they could fit in their bellies. I didn't participate (mostly since I'm not a huge fan of food from The Matador) so I won't write from personal experience. Suffice to say, it seems that it could have been a more positive experience for folks.  

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Seoul Kitchen - Korean Fusion Food Truck

One day, two food truck chefs told me about Seoul KitchenThat’s not uncommon.  What is uncommon is the raving I heard about the food.  In the last week, I’ve visited Seoul Kitchen twice. 

My first visit was at 2nd & Pike.  Since I was eating at another truck, I decided to go light, buy a few things, and share with friends.  I got Kimchi Fries ($4), Mochi Beignets ($4), and Hibiscus Lychee Tea ($3).  The truck was just picking up for the lunch rush so my wait was minimal.  Counter staff was friendly and efficient.  I took my booty back to the office to share with others. 

Kimchi Fries

The Kimchi Fries were very good.  Thin, shoestring potatoes form the base of the dish.  It was topped with sweetened gochujang aioli and spicy pork.  The sweetener in the gochujang aioli is a closely guarded secret as I casually asked, and was expertly distracted.  The sweet and savory is a winning combination but the aioli is a little too sweet.  Also, my vegetarian friend made a sad face when I told her about the pork.  It’s a really good dish that could be hit with a bit of salt. 

Mochi Beignets

The Mochi Beignets were a mystery to me.  I’m half Japanese so I’m no stranger to mochi.  I’m also a huge fan of beignets.  This is not what I would name the dish because it doesn’t remotely remind me of a beignet.  Regardless of the name, this is an amazing dessert!  A crisp outer shell wraps warm, chewy filling.  It’s all covered with lovely powdered sugar.  It’s best when eaten warm but on two occasions, hungry (yet lazy) foodies in my office have walked away with a few cold ones, come back, and pestered me about where to get them.  I’ll eat these any day of the week. 

I’m a big fan of signature beverages.  I love the hibiscus lychee iced tea!   Hibiscus is a distinctive flavor that I love in tea.  The combination is refreshing and not too sweet.  It was a great compliment to the food. 

Tofu Bibimap with Basil Curry Sauce

My second visit was at Occidental Park.  The truck was busier than last time and definitely took longer.  This time, I decided to order bibimap.  You start with a bowl for $6 that comes with seasoned white rice, spinach salad, sautéed carrots, soy sprouts, pickled daikon, and seaweed.  From there, you choose a protein (tofu, chicken, pork, or steak) for $2 or $3.  I chose the tofu.  Up next, you choose a sauce – Korean chili, ginger soy, or basil curry.  I asked for a recommendation for which sauce would pair well with the tofu and was given a definitive recommendation for basil curry.  I’m glad I asked because it was spot on and would have been my last choice.  Finally, you can choose optional items such as fried egg ($1), salad ($1), or brown rice ($1).  The tofu was seasoned perfectly and had great texture! The mix of the ingredients was good but the carrots were sautéed a bit too much.  It was good and I want to try more. 

As with all trucks, schedules can vary so track Seoul Kitchen by social media or their website.  

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