Monday, August 11, 2014

Recap - Seattle Street Food Festival 2014

Oh, it's been awhile since I've consumed so much food (at least a few weeks). I decided to head over to the Seattle Street Food Festival. Held at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill, it's the perfect setting for a food festival.



I like the balance between food trucks, street vendors, and craft vendors. The food trucks and street vendors were on the street and craft vendors were on the turf in the park. The benefit of a two day festival is that it never gets "too" crowded. Don't get me wrong, there were lots of people but having a two day option gives folks the option to choose one day or both. Additionally, being at Cal Anderson is literally brilliant. People can sit down basically anywhere to eat their food whether they like sun or shade, grass or concrete, curbs or hills. If folks get tired of walking around, they can dip their feet in the wading pool or head over to check out some crafts.


Hungry foodies enjoy sitting in a patch of shade at Cal Anderson
Although the event is always free, the Very Important Foodie (VIF) Pass is available to purchase for those who are impatient. Standing in line is not a big deal if you're going to eat at a few spots. Because I eat at so many places, time can add up. I'm happy to pay a few dollars for a VIF Pass which comes with some swag, freebies, and access to the VIF lounge.



Aside from my recap of the festival, I'm sure a bunch of you are interested in the food. Before we get to that, I have to say that I'm really into beverages right now. I started off with cherry calamansi lemonade from People of the Chubbs. It was cool, refreshing and had a bit of tart tang to balance the sweetness. They had a somewhat limited, pricey menu so I didn't order anything to eat. My next drink was Vietnamese coffee from Lemongrass. I drink tons of this stuff but what I loved was how strong it was! It was bold and creamy from the condensed milk and if I weren't lactose intolerant, I would have drank it all day! I followed all that up with one of my faves, lavender cucumber lemonade from Papa Bois. This has quickly become one of my favorite drinks. It was a bit mild that day but still very freshing! 



Charlie's Buns n' Stuff. I opened with an order of sweet potato tater tots. This is the perfect dish to share and it comes with your choice of sauce. It reminds me of a tater tot but has a sweet, hearty center filled with sweet potato. 



Ezell's. The chicken strip basket is where it's at. With crispy, well-seasoned strips, this is a great way to indulge in fried chicken without feeling the guilt. Again, pick your favorite sauce and chow these down with a basket of fries. This is the perfect walking and sharing food! 



Two Shoe BBQ. The brisket sandwich is full of tender, saucy meat! It's messy and yummy! It doesn't travel well and I don't recommend sharing unless you have TONS of napkins and/or wipes. The sandwich was filling and well worth the cost of the plate (which comes with two sides). 



BeanFish. Wow! Having eaten at BeanFish for a year, they continue to up their game! The taiyaki gets better and better both with flavors and technique. I had a vanilla custard taiyaki (shown here with custard lipstick ^-^). The outside was smooth and crunchy. The inside was soft and filled with lovely custard. Don't let the line steer you wrong; they're pretty quick and this is perfect walking food! 



Street Donuts. The trailer was on hand with chocolate jalapeno donuts and others. The donuts have changed a bit over time but people definitely still like them. Donuts are made fresh so don't be surprised by the line. Perfect for sharing and walking! 



Pel Meni a.k.a. Dumpling Czar. I'm a fan of all kinds of dumplings! Grab a cup of these potato dumplings and you can continue on your journey. You can even share if you feel so inclined! 



Papa Bois. Unfortunately, the jerk chicken wings were sold out by the time I got there. At $5 a serving, it was a heck of a deal. Instead, I got the jerk chicken plate. It was a large serving that is good for sharing, but not walking. There's a lot of spicy chicken in here! It's balanced nicely by the pistachio rice. 




Off the Rez. I love grabbing a frybread taco for a number of reasons. It's yummy, small, and reasonably priced. The pork is seasoned well and melds well with the other ingredients. The frybread is crisp but absolutely devoid of grease. A great snack! 



My Sweet Lil Cakes. I found them posted up without their trailer but I was glad I did. I grabbed a sweet red velvet waffle. The hearty waffle topped with all kinds of sweetness makes the perfect dessert to top off the day! They serve their food with a smile and I even saw them handing out samples. 

Full Tilt. They recently launched their truck and it was at the festival. I forgot to take pictures. Ice cream on a hot afternoon? You do the math. I love that I can get their ice cream on a truck now. 

Overall, I was there for about 5-6 hours and I had a great time. It was easy to navigate and not too big or too small. I felt like I walked back and forth about 10 times and I still wasn't tired. Seating was so plentiful because of the park. Also, having a wading pool and other park amenities nearby was a nice compliment to a food event. Looking forward to next year! 

Seattle Foodtruckery photos are here. Feel free to browse some of my other albums when you visit. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

9 Must Try Dishes at the 2014 Seattle Street Food Festival

Today marks the return of the Seattle Street Food Festival.  For two days, hungry foodies will converge on Capitol Hill at Cal Anderson Park in search of the city's best street food.  If waiting in long lines are not your jam, wait in shorter lines by purchasing Very Important Foodie (VIF) passes.  From my perspective, these passes are totally worth the money.

Last year, I was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.  After reviewing the line up, I found myself thinking about the wonderful dishes I've had over the years and thought I would share them with you (in alphabetical order).

Beanfish

You can typically find Beanfish each week at Fremont Sunday Market. Rain or shine, they serve up taiyaki to street food fans. Fresh specials like the Kobe beef in addition to traditional favorites like azuki bean keep me coming back for more. Easily handheld, this is the perfect traveling food.


Crisp Creperie

Crisp continues to turn it up after a few years on the street. They have a unique batter and innovative recipes. Sweet or savory, you can't go wrong. One of my current faves is the banana and salted caramel. Yes, it contains bananas. Did I also mention that it has banana pudding and Nilla wafers? Enough said. The salted caramel has creamy depth of flavor that elevates this dish. Don't forget to grab some rosemary lemonade while you're there!



Jemil's Big Easy

Fan favorite Jemil's Big Easy returns to the festival. While I'm sure they'll have a special, I'm equally sure they will have my faves like jambalaya. Grab four spoons and you're ready to share with your friends (or not). Whether you're into catfish or chicken strips, they've got you covered. 



Los Agaves

Los Agaves can be found at farmers markets around the city. I've been impressed with the consistency of their food (always good). I love grabbing a plate of nachos to share with friends.  It gives me a chance to savor the ingredients and not fill up (so there's room for TONS more food).



Lumpia World

I've been eating at Lumpia World for years, well before they had a trailer. Lumpia makes great traveling food at a reasonable cost. You can get a sweet coconut rice pudding lumpia or ginger pork lumpia with your choice of sauce for just a few dollars.  Another winning dish is the island mac with SPAM. That's right...SPAM!!! Comfort food for your belly.



NOSH

This truck has it going on. My favorite dish is fried rabbit and they'll be running a special on it at the festival for $5. For just $5, this dish will change your life!  Crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.  NOSH has well-seasoned dishes for a reasonable price.  Handcut fries are a win as well as just about anything on their menu. 




My Sweet lil Cakes

My favorite savory waffle is the chicken and waffle.  However, the last time I saw My Sweet lil Cakes, I tried this sweet waffle - blueberry lemon ricotta.  It was fantastic!  Constrasting flavors with ripe blueberries, citrusy lemon, and creaminess of the ricotta.  Again, perfect street food for traveling!



Off the Rez

By far, the pork frybread taco from Off the Rez is my all-time favorite savory.  That marinated, pulled pork is juicy and flavorful.  Just the right toppings combine to make it the perfect bite.  The sweets are always yummy with classics such as Nutella but offering seasonal flavors depending on what's growing.



Papa Bois

Lavender cucumber lemonade from Papa Bois. Sound refreshing? Well, it is!  Combine that with spicy jerk chicken wings and the experience is heavenly.  The wings are a bit larger than I'm used to but those flavors are bold and definitely worth a try. 



The Seattle Street Food Festival runs from 5pm to 11pm on Friday, August 8th and 12pm to 10pm on Saturday, August 9th. Don't be a stranger...say hello if you see me on the street! 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

PDX ROAD TRIP: Rose City Food Park

Before I moved in Seattle  in 1999, I spent 7 years in Portland before the food cart craze began.  I don't get back as often as I'd like and this year, I chose a very hot and humid July to visit.  Each time I visit I choose a couple of different pods to hit up to sample the cuisine.


One of the pods I choose was Rose City Food Park located at NE Sandy Blvd & NE 52nd Ave.  I have to say, this is a very family friendly place.  Children all over the place, knocking things over, running around, and enjoying the food.  I even tripped over a few which is really hard since I'm really, really short.  There's street parking and a good-sized lot to park in.  There are tons of picnic tables to sit at (both covered and uncovered).  You can also pick up produce from Kruger's Farm City Farm Market which is a perk.  They have bathrooms onsite that are large and fairly clean.

Rose City boasts that they are home to 13 of the best food carts in Portland.  Based on my sampling, I'm not sure that's true.

PDX671
PDX671 garnered fame from Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  The kelaguen mannok with titiyas is supposed to be quite good.  No matter, they were out of it.  Our group ordered the fiesta plate (grilled chicken thigh, red rice, shrimp fritters, and ensaladan kiukumba) for $7.25 and an order of 3 lumpia for $5.25.  The grilled chicken thigh was marinated well with nice, crispy skin.  The red rice was seasoned with annatto seed.  The flavor was very mild and I didn't taste much salt.  The shrimp fritters were fried crisp and had really interesting flavors.  The shrimp blended well with the sweetness of the carrots, peas, and corn.  The lumpia was wrapped perfectly and had all the right ingredients.  I appreciate garlic sauce but think it could benefit from a bit of heat.  Finally, the ensaladan kiukumba (think cucumber salad with kimchee dressing) was refreshing.  The dressing had a little spicy kick.  Overall, it was okay and definitely a value for $12.50.

Fiesta Plate
Captain Dillie's Starlite Coach & Catering caught my eye with a blue paint job and an interesting menu.  I ordered a grilled mac 'n' cheese sandwich.  Mac 'n' cheese in a sandwich?  Yowza!  For $4, it was a pretty decent size.  The bread was nice, thick, and buttered well.  I got that "crunch" when I bit into it.  The mac 'n' cheese was cooked well but lacked seasoning, primarily salt.  It was a good sandwich but rather plain.  The star of the show was the spicy strawberry jalapeno lemonade.  Sweet, spicy and perfect on a warm summer day!  For $2, that was a steal!

Captain Dillie's Starlight Coach
Grilled Mac 'n' Cheese Sandwich
El Guero offered a nice cup of horchata.  It was perfect!  At $1.50, I could drink a gallon of it.  However, the burrito and quesadilla were both lackluster.  The prices were very reasonable with both those items coming in at under the $10 mark.

El Guero
Overall, I found the atmosphere at Rose City Food Park to be pleasant and welcoming.  However, the three carts I sampled were just okay.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Recap - 2nd Annual SeattleFoodTruck.com Truck-In


June 7, 2014, marked the opening day of the Des Moines Waterfront Farmers Market and the 2nd Annual SeattleFoodTruck.com Truck-In.  It’s hard to imagine a more gorgeous day - blue skies, sunshine, and that summertime feel. 
 
SeattleFoodTruck.com did a great job of warning folks about the traffic that day.  It was definitely busy coming from North Seattle, where I live. Once I got to the event, it was smooth sailing.  I had zero problems finding parking.  When I got there, live music was playing and I laid eyes on the most adorable couple dancing.  Great way to set the tone for the day! 
 
Cathy (Xplosive) serving it up with her signature smile!
The beautiful weather brought people out in droves.  It was still easy to move around but some of the trucks had long lines.  No matter, waiting is easy when everyone is happy.  It was great to see so many people turn out! 

12-inch lemongrass pork banh mi from Xplosive
I rarely get to see Xplosive anymore because I'm on the other side of town from their lunch route. I was excited to visit with Cathy, Mano, and the gang (not to mention grab some Vietnamese coffee, bahn mi, and tacos). I've had just about everything on their menu. Cheap, filling, and flavorful is all you need to know! Visit them on their regular route for a bite of their fantastic tofu (not served for most events). Yes, I said tofu. I'm a meat eater but I can't get enough of it! 

Alligator Gumbo from Jemil's Big Easy

The gang from Jemil's Big Easy was on hand and I couldn't pass on the alligator gumbo I missed a few weeks ago. Even on a warm, sunny day, that gumbo is comfort in a bowl! Their line was hopping most of the day! 
 
Handsome Harvey (NOSH)
I've seen a lot of food trucks in Seattle over the years. I'm often skeptical of new trucks that don't deliver service, food quality, or value. Let me say that NOSH is one of the best newer trucks I've had the pleasure of dining at 'cause they hit every mark. Whether it's fish and chips, fried rabbit (my fave!), or caprese sandwiches, I've loved every minute of it! On this particular day, Handsome Harvey hooked it up with a caprese sandwich. That hand pulled mozzarella is to die for! 
 
Caprese sandwich from NOSH
In my leisurely pace, I underestimated the power of the trucks.  They did really well and a number of them ran out of portions of their menus and some even sold out completely. That was my bad - I should have planned better. I spent most of the day talking to people - both new acquaintances and old friends. 

After the event was over, I spent a few hours at the Marina.  I saw a hungry seal begging for food and a bald eagle being chased by about 50 seagulls and crows.  It was the perfect way to relax. All of my uploaded photos for that day can be found in my Flickr album: http://goo.gl/GAkFya.
 
Overall, another successful event for SeattleFoodTruck.com!  Truckin' awesome!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Recap - May 24th Uwajimaya Big Tent & Food Truck Event

From time to time, the Renton location of Uwajimaya hosts food trucks.  On May 24th, I attended the Big Tent and Food Truck Event.  This store location is a bit different than the one in the International District so I'm glad food trucks bring me out to shop and eat.  I always buy some poke, fresh produce, and a few snacks that I can't get at a regular grocery store.  My best find this weekend - HUGE mangoes for $1 a piece.  I bought them green and I can't wait to make a batch of Hawaiian style pickled mango.

A few trucks were onsite to feed hungry shoppers: Big Boys Filipino Food Truck, Fish Basket, Jemil's Big Easy, The Box, and Tokyo Dog.  I love coming here because it's a laid back atmosphere.  It's not overly crowded and although lines may get long (depending on the truck), in general, I find it easy to get around.  The spirit for is like a reunion where I have time to talk to owners, staff, and often run into a few friends.  In fact, I ran into some family friends that I didn't know were coming.

Prawns and Chips from Fish Basket
Fish Basket has fantastic food!  I've been going to the truck for a long time and appreciate the kindness of Van, Amanda, and everyone else that works the truck.  My favorite is the NW salmon tacos.  The balance of flavors is complex and is everything I dreamed a fish taco could be.  On Saturday, I got to sample the prawns.  Wow!  Through that crisp batter, you can taste the meaty prawn with perfect texture.  I must say, if you're concerned about the price of items on this truck, don't be.  It is worth every penny and more!  I've had better seafood here than in countless restaurants in Seattle.


Jemil's Big Easy was on hand with many fan favorites.  My tummy got the yummy of jambalaya, chicken basket, and sweet tea.  The jambalaya is always spiced well and my "go to" dish.  I'm always comforted by a bowl.  The chicken basket has lovely, crispy strips with just the right amount of spice.  My kiddo and I both love the chicken strips.  The only thing I love more is probably the fried chicken special (when available).  The sweet tea is a refreshing beverage on a sunny day.

Kalbi Skewers from The Box
The Box.  How I love you!  Why won't you come to Seattle anymore?  This is by far one of my favorite food trucks despite the fact that I hardly get to see it.  My favorite is chicken karaage and I had to get some this weekend.  It was just as I remember....fried chicken (notice a pattern here) with a bit of sweet and spicy sauce.  I love the karaage recipe here!  Toss in some kalbi skewers and pork belly bao and let me tell you, your life will change!

Overall, a pretty solid day of food truckery hitting 3 of 5 trucks.  As of the writing of this post, Uwajimaya has confirmed a second Big Tent & Food Truck Event for June 7th.  As always, if you're interested in checking out the food before you eat at a truck, find my pictures of my food truckery on Flickr or on SeattleFoodTruck.com's phone applications.  In case you weren't aware, SeattleFoodTruck.com is a great resource for finding out more about food trucks, getting easy links to their websites, and tracking down trucks around the Seattle metro area.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SeattleFoodTruck.com 2nd Annual Truck-In

SeattleFoodTruck.com is having their 2nd Annual Truck-In at the opening day of Des Moines Waterfront Farmers Market.  The event is scheduled for Saturday, June 7th from 10am to 2pm.

Sweet SeattleFoodTruck.com wheels
I rarely venture down South and I was concerned that I would get lost.  The Market was easy to find and parking was plentiful!  I loved the layout - on one side, the regular Market vendors sold their goods and on the other, it's a food trucker paradise!  Tables were available for eating, they had nice spacing between the trucks, and shorter lines than I'm used to.

Last year, SeattleFoodTruck.com had t-shirts for sale, courtesy of Media Fly Mobile Screen Shop.  For just $15, you could get a really cool shirt.  I'm not sure if they're doing it again but I loved it!

Of course, my main attraction is always the trucks.  However, I have to say, I ended up buying a ton of produce, some artisan coffee, and even a book.  There's a peaceful park off to the side, it's right on the water, and I felt pretty relaxed during my time there.  It was good to catch up with folks.

My cool SeattleFoodTruck.com shirt
What trucks can you look forward to seeing?  Find photos of Seattle food truck cuisine on my Flickr page. Here's a list of the trucks in attendance in alphabetical order:


  • Ben and Jerry's 
  • Bikelava
  • Bing of Fire
  • Charlie's Buns 'n Stuff
  • Grilled Cheese Experience
  • Jemil's Big Easy
  • Lumpia World
  • NOSH
  • Outside the Box
  • Snout & Co. 
  • Stella Fiore Pizza
  • Xplosive
  • Thursday, May 8, 2014

    My Addiction to Street Donuts


    Street Donuts has been the center of my food truck world for three years.  The first time I visited the trailer was on 2nd & Pike (before the current food truck pod was established).  I never knew how lucky I was to have them within walking distance of my office.  My luck ran out when Street Donuts packed up and began serving only at events.  From that point on, I was always on the hunt for any fair, festival, or special event the trailer would be at. 

    Here’s the kicker - I don’t even like donuts.  If you catch me around town, you’ll never find me buying a donut.  What makes Street Donuts so special?  To me, mini-donuts are not special in and of themselves.  You buy a donut machine, perfect your batter, design some toppings and you’re good.  For me, the toppings make the difference.  Anyone can make a powdered donut but vanilla pudding and Nerds?  It’s hard to beat that.  Street Donuts captured my taste buds and no other mini-donut will do.  

    My first chance to meet the new owners was at the Mobile Food Rodeo in the International District on May 3, 2014.  As always, it was my first stop.  I had a nice conversation with Will and Yanna.  They told me they would be opening a bricks location in Greenwood.  I tried to keep my cool but I was doing a happy dance inside.  That location is a few minutes from my house!  Then I realized their opening will likely correspond with an additional 10 pounds on my ass in the first month alone.  Sigh.  We all have to make sacrifices.  As I understand it, I’ll be able to get donuts and beer there.  I was pleased to see that the donuts were as I remembered them.  I hope the owners like me because they won’t be able to get rid of me.