Monday, May 30, 2011

Food Truck - SoCo Hey Cupcake!

My journey in Austin, is not complete until I have something sweet. I've driven by Hey Cupcake! many of times. While I kept thinking that this is a truly mobile business, come to find out, they have about 3 air-streamer locations and one permanent one. Who knew?! Not me!

If you go on their website, they have a cute little video about how they came to be, it was very cute... you have to see if for yourself. Surprising to me, their menu was very no frills, you got your Vanilla cake w/ Chocolate icing (the Standard), or Vanilla cake with Vanilla icing (Vanilla Dream), Chocolate cake w/ Vaniall icing (Snow Cap), or Chocolate cake with Chocolate icing (Double Dose). Of course they have the ever so famous Red Velvet, I think that's basically mandatory for any cupcakery.

The other flavors, but still not super creative was Strawberry w/ Cream Cheese icing (Sweetberry), Chocolate cake w/ Cream Cheese icing (Michael Jackson), and carrot cake (24 carrot).

I guess I'm so used to the creative stuff like Maple Bacon, Cinnamon Rolls, Cookies n' Cream (with the real cookies in the cupcake). That said, the cupcake isn't bad, it has a good texture on the cake, it did crumbled some when I unwrapped my cake portion of the dessert. The icing is very good, though, I would've love to see more of the icing topping the cake; but I understand that's their signature style.

Hey Cupcake!
1600 Block of S. Congress
Austin, Texas 78704

Friday, May 27, 2011

Food Truck - SoCo Wurst Texas

In the spirit of food truck, let's talk more ... about food truck! This time, it's in Austin, Texas. I'm not sure if it's the entrepreneur spirit or if it's poor college students being innovative, or what, but food truck has become a great way to get gourmet food, fast.

I was in Austin for a Craft Fair, and while driving down 1st street, I kept running into little food truck parks. Then, I remembered the huge empty lot on S.Congress (aka SoCo) has parked a few trucks there too. So, decided to go check them out.

I remember a while back, the only truck out there was snow cone truck, it seems appropriate, it was hot, there's sno-cone. On and off you see other truck park near it, then slowly, they become more and more permanent.

This round, I picked Wurst,Tex. Not only do they have the classic hot dog or pork bratwurst. They also have 2 Veggie version, so no one gets left out. For the gourmet lovers, there is a Mexican version (El Wursto), hunters version (Buckwurst), and spicy version (Pepperwurst). Of course, for the more adventurous, there are buffalo wurst (Bill's Pick), duck wurst (The Don), and rattlesnake + rabbin (Predator & Prey).... so appropriately named.

I got the Buckwurst, which was smoked venison and pork mixed w/ pepper and cheddar. I added ketchup and didn't want to add too much without trying it first. Mind you, they have 5 or 6 different types of sauce handy for your add-on conveniences.

It doesn't taste specially different on the venison. It does have a thicker texture when compares to other sausages. I can tell that's a more popuplar item, since behind me 3 other people also ordered the same thing. And I must say, that's a good choice! I was filled up, didn't feel hungry, it was well sized, and yummy, you can't beat that.

What else made it perfect was that they also offer Mexican Coke and Dublin Dr. Pepper... you just don't get that much around anywhere. I was so stuffed (and also wanting to save room for dessert) that I didn't get to try the french fries w/ truffle oil, but it sure sounded tempting.

Wurst Tex Grilled Sausages
1603 S. Congress
Austin, Texas 78704

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Food Truck Fest - OhMyGogi

At the 'haute mess' fest, one of the trucks that I was very much looking forward to wasOh My Gogi. It's a fun play on word between Oh My Gosh with Bulgogi. If you don't know what Bulgogi means, that is a style of Korean cooking, which includes marinated meat cooking over an open grill. You often find this at Korean restaurant.

What makes Oh My Gogi different, was that they billed themselves as a Korean BBQ & Mexican fusion. That idea just sounded intriguging and delicious... possibilities just seems endless. I would say that I was slightly disappointed, not at their food but they weren't ready when the gate open that day. Hungry attendees, myself included, was there bright and early on an empty stomach to make room for this highly anticipated truck, and they were waiting on supplies and didn't open almost 45 mins later.

That said, I will say that it was worth the wait. They fused the Mexican food favorites, tacos, quesadillas with the Korean marinate, sauce, and kimchi. It was delectable. While the spice may not be to some who are not used to it, for a whim like me who can't take much spice, it was not hard to eat.

I know they also have some sort of specialty taco, unfortunately they were out of it that weekend, but don't let that discourage you, go try it yourself!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Food Truck Fest - Eatsie Boys

I have long heard about how great the Eatsie Boys are. I finally got my first taste at the Sweet and Savory dinner back in April.

I remember that I had the Pork Snuggie, and boy it was yummy... that was their own homemade hoisin sauce, homemade pickles, and pork belly, boy that was good. Great combo, great palette, and all goes together like harmony.

At the 'haute mess' 2011 they were one of the big names on the billing. I can see why, they are super nice and food are awesome. The thing that irks me a little was that there was no clear instructions from the 'haute mess' organizer that their ticket doesn't include any food. While I agree that the vendors can't donate all the food for nothing, they should be better publicize that attendees should expects to pay full price on the food from each of the trucks.

While, I do know that each vendor already paid $500 deposit to the organizers, and each attendees pay at least $16 to enter, AND! I know they have to pay for security guards and such, seems like they can either lower the entree fee for the attendees or the vendor fee to let the people get the max out of the experience.

Another thing that was not well done was that food trucks' business, by nature is not made to feed over 300 people. Between the truck/kitchen, and the turn around and what not, every bit of logistics were not made to cater to that large size. Perhaps they all will learn next year, but to be honest, I've said this before and will say it again, I much rather go patronize each of these vendors separately than in a herd style. At one point, Eatsie Boys were so overloaded that they basically told people if you don't want to wait they'll refund your money. 2 or 3 people can't feed 300.

That said, I was smart to get there right before the gate opens and rush straight there for my 1st choice. I've had the Pork Snuggie before, so I know how great the food can be. This time, I had the Pork Revere. It was slow roasted pork, homemade pickles, homemade bbq sauce and slow dough roll. I honestly think the sauce really made the sandwich. Pork was good, but I'm not super picky unless it's marinated in a certain way. But, the sauce was the glue that binds.

Eatsie Boys
usually park outside of Agora Coffee shop on Westheimer and Dunlavy
or they are also at City Hall every Wednesday at the Farmers Market

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Food Truck Fest - Angie Cakes

I've been meaning to try Angie's Cakes for a while now. Mostly because schedule is different or that they're in different part of town than I am. But I've heard good things about them.

Finally got a chance to visit them at Haute Wheel. I'm not going to lie, I had fun eating, but truly no one can eat and sample everything all of the truck has to offer in one setting. I'll elaborate more on the festival in another post, but let's talk cake!

I walked up to the truck, not a whole lot of visitors yet, it was still early. But their claim to fame is their cake balls. They have your standard flavor: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and red velvet. They are no bigger than 2/3rd of your palm. The outside is dipped in chocolate ganache, while the side is cake.

It's not particularly hard to do if you have a good recipe to work with. But, if you were to play with it, I recommend baking your cake, crush them up, and mixed in w/ cream cheese and shape it the way you want. The cream cheese will hold the shape and not destroy the cake texture, also not so overempowering where the taste of the cake can't come out. (for further research or reading, check out When asked what is their best seller or their favorite, in unison both owners in the truck recommedned Ginger Beer. Alright, I know what you're thinking because I thought it too when I first heard their recommendation. Ginger Beer?

Here's the thing, I can be open minded about alot of stuff, but if you're not a Ginger lover, you'res just not. Not to mention ginger + beer together??? Well, basically, it tasted like ginger bread, but in a cake form. The outside is dipped in white chocolate ganached sprinkled w/ cinnamon. So, not quite a truffle where it's light and airy, but it's for sure a dessert that you can't eat just one bite.

Angie's Cake

Monday, May 23, 2011

Food truck Fest - It's a Wrap!

So, I know I'm a tad behind, but trust me, I got a schedule to get my posts out there... and soon. Don't you worry. LOL.

Let's see, the 'haute mess' of 2011, took place last weekend. In concept it's a great idea, instead of you running around town to all these awesome food trucks that are more like mobile haute cuisine, why not have them all at one spot. I thought of that too, until my friend Buffalo Sean told me about this weird law in Houston. That is, any mobile food truck carrying propane has to be 100 ft from each other. That would explain why the venue of HCC parking lot seems ideal.

That was made up of this production company that is obviously from a business class of some sort, read: none of these people actually ran an event, little to say an event like that. It's a great idea, but truthfully, no one would be able to eat ALL that good food in one setting. They do have great variety, but they didn't control the vendors very well. For instance, It's a Wrap (newcomer to the Food Truck scene) did not show up to the event until 1.5 hr after the gate has opened. Everyone was already well in line for other food trucks. If it's not for the famous fried mac and cheese ball, I wouldn't have bothered.

Throughout the week, as I post more stuff about the food trucks, I'll tell you how things can be better, but let's move on to the food, shall we?
So, It's a Wrap! it's unique that they are fusion of Indian and Mexican food, so it's not surprising to find a Bombay Taco, ironically, they also have Jerk Chicken and Thai lettuce wrap. Honestly, it sounds all over the place, but I wouldn't be so fast to judge until you tasted it. Maybe next time for me, because I was really there for the fried mac and cheese ball.

It was an interesting concept, it looks dainty and yet huge. That is until you tasted it. Whatever they breaded and fried with was super awesome and addictive. The mac and the cheese, however, was nothing to really write home about. It was no different than any mac and cheese you would make at home (no, not the box kind). I think they can use a better cheese and bring out the flavor more. Given that almost every gastropub has their own fancy mac and cheese, and there's a place in the Heights that just serve Mac and cheese; life is too short to eat boring mac and cheese.

I can't finish the entire ball of carb and bad cheese, so I dug thru the ball w/ the breading and the fried bits. Honestly, I think the wait was a big turn off, when you are already late and have to prep, which was pretty much 2 hrs behind everyone else, we had more hope than they deliver.

I wouldn't mind trekking them down and try them again. But, maybe no to the fried mac and cheese ball.

It's A Wrap! Bistro

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Extra Virgin

After the whirlwind of the LA trip, I handed home for merely 48 hrs and turned back around to the other airport of the city and headed East. I was really going for work, but who said that I can't snuck off to check out the city?

Truly, there weren't much sneaking out to be had due to some confusion on transportation, there were alot more waiting than checking things out. I will say this, if you ever wanted to use a luggage storage service for a few hours, I think Schwartz is your best bet. It is near the Penn Station, they also have 2 more locations around town for your convenience. I just wanted to jump down to Chinatown to get some errands done, by no means was I there to have a shopping fest. If you have a long layover and wanted to check out the city without lugging your luggage around, this is a good service to use. $10-15 to store your stuff, and you can tell it's quite popular too.

Anyway, on to the food. A colleague of mine and I went from Westchester down to the City to meet up w/ some folks that I work with on a regular basis. The group met up at Blind Tiger for drinks. And honestly, that's what I was there to do... to collect my drinks due to favors I've done for one of the peeps there.

You know how that goes, drinks leads to dinner. As we mobbed out of the bar, I have no idea where we went, but we landed at Extra Virgin in the Village. I'm not even going to pretend I know my geography, but it was just a few blocks away, literally.

The menu serves a wide range of food good for all types of tastes. Although, I do wonder, at the time, if it's possible to please everyone with one fell swoop. I'm glad to report that they did deliver.

Colleagues ordered the Fritto Misto (fried calamari), one guy didn't realized they're fried. Urm. Hello! What the heck did you think fritto mean in Italian??? (in case you honestly didn't know, it means fried). Another colleague ordered the bacon wrapped scallops, that was flavorful and along w/ the potato latke, that in itself can be a meal for me. Another appetizer that was ordered was the Artichoke Parmesan. That 'salad' was topped w/ mixed greens, poached egg, and hollandise. Amazingly, the hollandise was lighter than I expected. Then, again, it was quite dark in there, I could very well had dipped very little and not see it.

I was pretty torn between the chicken and the ravioli. As you can see, above, I picked the Lobster Ravioli for my choice. The green sauce looks more intimating than the taste. I would venture to say the taste was mild to nil. The flavor came from the lobster and the cheese inside the ravioli more than anything else. The pasta was fine, but nothing out of the ordinary, as a matter of fact, when it comes to ravioli, I don't want the pasta to be 'special' and disturb the flavor that were meant to be the signature of the dish.

One thing I will heed to you, is to save some room for their sides. They are not to be ignored, as I'm sure the chef would appreciate if you order some of that. While I only got the asparagus, which matched the green in my ravioli sauce. I did see the truffle mac and cheese tart and the brussel sprouts with caramelized apple and pancetta on the Sides menu. I do encourage you to try it and report back.

Extra Virgin
259 West 4th Street
NY, NY 10014
reservation is highly recommended

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The French Crepe

Alright, last post about LA. For my last day, I thought I go back to the Original Farmers Market and have some crepe. Last time I was in LA w/ my friend Angie, we both went to have crepes there.
As you can see, people are seated on the side of the booth, it is also seating on 2 of the other sides. They basically are served like a seated restaurant would. The menu range from savory to sweet, but they also have waffles, paninis and sandwiches for lunch.

This is kinda my 'usual'. This is the dish I compare w/ when I go and have crepe. That is Nutella with Strawberry, and Banana. I think it could use a thinner batter and cooked a little more, but given the volume they do, I'm not surprised. It was just any good breakfast needed, fruit and chocolate enveloped by some pancake like batter. This dish is really something that can't go wrong. But don't take my word for it. Go check it out yourself!

The French Crepe
6333 W. 3rd Street
Stall #318
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Monday, May 16, 2011

Singapore's Banana Leaf

So, one of the things we do as traveling gypsy dancers is to reciprocate the host by buying them dinner. It's customery, not a mandatory, but either way, I love breaking bread w/ my hosts. This is where some good story telling happens and more insight in your hosts than someone letting you crash at their place.

After the hot dog, we needed something tamer to our stomach, so by recommendation, we went to The Grove, which apparently American Idol was filming, so there were tons of people there. By we were just cutting thru to get to the Farmers Market. That's the original part of the farmers market I remember when I visited there when I was little.
Anyway, my hosts recommended Singapore's Banana Leaf, and to be honest, I haven't had any real Malay/Indonesian/Singaporean food for so long that I'll take it wherever I can get them. This place is interesting because they combined those 3 cultures as well as Indian in the mix. While that's not dominate, it does play w/ the rest of the menu nicely.

The picture above is the Indian Roti Paratha, which is the grilled thin bread and dip in the vegetarian curry sauce. I will say the bread was not greasy as some Indian bread can be. And the curry sauce was by no means spicy, just a little for taste.
This is Mee Gerong, which is stir fry noodle with chicken. I will say that the chicken was try and almost wished that I had done tofu instead. But the egg noodle had just enough grease to make it taste good.

One thing I didn't get a photo of, but you must try, is the Indoneisan Chendol, that is really a dessert more than drink. It's coconut milk based, it has crushed ice, chendol beans (which is sweet), and palm sugar syrup, and between all that, they have 3 colors, and you're supposed to mix them all up and drink. It just brings back childhood memory, that's what I used to get when I was little in the Indonesian restaurant. Of course, what would make it just perfect, would be the Indonesian dessert... hey, a girl can dream, right?!

Singapore's Banana Leaf
The Original Farmers Market
6333 3rd Street
Fairfax & 3rd Street, stall #122
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Food Truck, LA edition

So, one of the musts the locals insisted on having me experience was these Mexican hot dog. How it was described to me is that it is definitely decadent and will hurt your tummy (with all that mixed in), but it's a must try experience.

For $5, you get: bacon wrapped hot dog (yes you read that right), topped with mustard, ketchup, and mayo. Then, they fill it to the top with pico de gallo mixed in with avacago (you are in California after all). Not to mention, the hot dog bun is toastted in the grease where they cooked the bacon wrapped sausage. Yep... grease city!

I went 'lite' and skipped the avacado, mustard and mayo. It was sure messy, but totally worth it.

This is my host, Vicky, taking a bite. Yum yum.

Where to find these guys... we were walking downtown LA in the Garment District where these stands are pretty much every corner. But just to be specific, it was near Michael Levin Fabric (which is a giant warehouse of fabric happyland), and that would be around 9th and Maple.

If not, follow your nose, you can't be too far off, trust me, you smell them toasting and cooking. $5, big dawg, fill you up. As to the tummy ache part, I guess because I'm accustomed to eating junk, no biggie on me. But I will say that is not for the faint of heart, or heart attack susceptible.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Silver Lake

On the way to the dance at Lindy Groove, my hosts took me to the Local in the Silverlake area. It's actually pretty neat area. I think in their avoidance of the freeway, Sunset seems to be the best way to get from their place to Pasadena.

The concept of the restaurant is not super unique, but they do make it very convenient. They offer all locally growned vegetables, grain, meat, and on top of that offer good tasting food. My company all each got something very different. There were the Old School Mac & Cheese. I got couscous, wild grain rice.

On my plate, I had couscous w/ spinach salad and Dr. Pepper marinated flank steak (by recommendation). The couscous was mixed in with beans and cranberry. That's very different, I've never had that before. The Spinach was mixed w/ a very tangy dressing, so I can't name it, but it was tasty! The flank steak, unfortunately, being the bigger ticket item, it was also the not-so-good part of my meal. It was overdone and chewy. You can barely taste the marinate.

In theory, whenever they marinate w/ Dr. Pepper or Coke, the idea is not to have them to be sweet, as much as taking advantage of their acidity to soften the meat. In this case, they seemed to have failed in that aspect.

That said, it is not to say that I won't go back. I will go back, but maybe with another entree. Luckily for me, their food is always seasonal, so no fear on trying something new.

Afterards, we walked around a bit and checked out some boutiques, none of them are chains which is cool. There's neat vintage furniture stores, neat handmade stores... we didn't get to check out much because it was near closing time, but we did manage to go to coffee bar down the strip.

This ain't your regular Starbucks, they have variations up the wazoo. All kinds of milk variation and obviously espresso/chai variation. The place is a neat hangout, and you can tell that people definitely take advantage of that.

The Local
2943 W. Sunset Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA

Intelligentsia Coffee
3922 W Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

3rd Street Promenade - Monsieur Marcel

I know I've been on hiatus, but with a good reason, I promise! I was invited out to DJ for Lindy Groove out in LA. And what's a good time to soak up the beautiful California sun but to spend a day out at 3rd Street Promenade.

It might be cliche, seeing that it used to be filled with nifty little boutiques. And now ever main chain of clothing, food, tech are all located at 3rd street. As a matter of fact, it's not even valid to call it just 3rd street, it has expended from 3rd to 4th, to 5th. I will say though, it does slowly gets you to the ocean.

As I was walking along, I was ready for some decent lunch. You got your usual, of course, but for something that I don't have in Texas, might as well try something different. In the middle of the 'street', one side has an outdoor cafe that serves sandwiches and gelato. The other is a full fledge restaurant. I thought, why not.

In comes Monsieur Marcel, it was quite a popular spot to be. It is known for their wine and cheese, but their entree's looked enticing and I don't usually pass up on anything that looked and potentially tastes good.

Packed as it may, it was a beautiful day to sit outside and enjoy the sun with a bright French Lemonade and some salad. I had the salade nicoise, it was basically seared peppered ahi tuna, on top of bed of greens mixed with hard boiled egg, anchovies, red onions, cucumber, green beans with tarragon dressing.

The entire dish was very filling, the steak was done perfectly and the anchovies are not over empowering as one might think that it woudl be. While I'm not a big fan of hard boil eggs in my lunch. It did the job just fine.

Turns out Monsieur Marcel is also a grocer in the LA area, you can find alot of import as well as local items at their store. I visited the one in the Grove Farmers Market. If you get a chance you should as well. If not, definitely check out lunch or sunset dinner at their locations.

In Santa Monica, located in the North Pavilion on the Promenade & Arizona
Open everyday of the year, 9 am - 10pm
1260 Third St. Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Phone: 310.587.1166