The Del Mar Fairgrounds was the host of the first ever Gourmet Food Truck Festival. It was a gorgeous day out and perfect for gorging ourselves with amazing food. Now as I seat here after some “down” time, I am going through all my pictures and reminiscing about the eat-a-thon with my friend, LA.
We arrived at the fairgrounds with a tentative game plan: hit as many trucks as we could, and share everything we get. Oh look! This sign told us where our adventure would begin…
To kick off the eating, we started at Dogzilla:
To wet our appetites, we started with the Yakisoba Dog ($6) – a spicy hot link topped with stir-fried Yakisoba noodles with cabbage, bean sprouts, and green onions, Okonomi sauce, red ginger, finished off with Ao-Nori. I was excited to try this because it was everything I love, in a bun! And not just any bun, but a sweet Hawaiian bun.
The sausage gave the meal the spicy kick I prefer my meals to have. With the lack of Sriracha and only ketchup, the sausage provided that spiciness that made my tongue happy! The yakisoba was good, slightly sweet and salty, and the sweet bun helped wrapped everything for mobility. I think this was one of the best starter for this food adventure!
Next…Great Balls on Tires:
Specializing in well…great balls! Of meat :). While waiting in line, we talked with two fellow foodies and had a great conversation with them! As LA said, I make friends where ever I go and you know what? Food always tastes better with great company! 🙂 Also, during our conversation, LA came up with a perfect phrase that even our new friends found to be quite amusing, and reflected myself perfectly – “food stalker”. There needs some definition to go with this new phrase….here’s a shot: a food stalker is one who stares at others, known and unknown, solely to drool/obsess/investigate food that is not at one’s own plate. Who will ask many questions to inquire about the food item being consumed and occasionally proceed to request for some.
Maybe that’s what a food stalker is? If anyone has a better definition, send it to me! For now, under this definition, I am a bona fide food stalker extraordinaire!
This bona fide food stalker and her accomplice went for an order of the Ballywood and Buffalo Balls (respectively and $6 per item). The Ballywood was garam masala chicken balls, topped with coconut madras curry, crispy fired onions, and served with saffron basmati rice with tomato and cilantro chutneys. The Buffalo Balls were buffalo style chicken ball, mac & cheese, blue cheese dressing, and served with celery and carrot.
The meatballs were amazingly juicy and tender – both of them! The curry was not spicy (how I like mine), but rather on the sweet side. However, it was flavor packed and I couldn’t help but lap it all up (my half) along with the somehow decently cooked basmati rice! The buffalo sauce on the other hand was not spicy, and was sweet with a bit of vinegar tang. Again, not my usual go-to flavor combo, but the meatball itself was so good, plus when I took a bite with the mac & cheese (with panko bread crumbs at top!!!), it made for a great bite! Overall – this red, black, and white truck satisfied me and LA.
Next stop – the Tornado Potato:
We went for the “Tornado” with cajun seasoning. As you can see, it’s a towering spiral of a whole potato on a stick! LA and I had this at the County Fair this year, but we both wanted a fried potato item so we went with this place! We both agreed that the potato should be sliced thinner to get that crispiness of a chip on the exterior, while remaining fluffy inside like a fry. It was still tasty and we both love our potato treat!
Having had so many savory items, plus with the sun baring down on us for sometime now, we both needed a cool off and something sweet. The answer to our prayers?
Longboard’s Ice Cream:
The recipe of this truck is simple: pick your ice cream flavor on a stick, then your chocolate coating choice (milk or dark) and finally your topping to coat the whole thing.
My choice: coconut ice cream, dipped in dark chocolate and topped with half graham cracker crumbs, and half rainbow sprinkles. I loved the idea of how this worked and I loved the freshly dipped items, but my only issue was that ice cream bar on the stick was too icy. It must be from keeping the ice cream frozen in order to dip them, so I can understand yet it did bother me a little. However, it was still quite enjoyable! Oh! And since I forgot to take an individual pic of LA’s pop, she chose: pistachio ice cream, dipped in dark chocolate, and covered with rainbow sprinkles. According to LA, the pistachio ice cream was only ok and didn’t have enough pistachio flavor to it.
After our pops, we decided to sit and rest for a bit, to let all the food mix in our stomachs and begin to really process it. That was when the food coma started creeping in! Oh man…I knew from there, it was only going to go downhill. However, after sitting, then walking, and watching a race, we dove back into the crowds (which only grew even larger at that point). I met up with a couple of friends and a colleague, watched what they ate and decided I had to make one more last haul!
Hence, LA and I made our way to Tapa Boy:
I ordered the Pork Longanisa Bowl with garlic fried rice (sinangag), an egg, and a side of papaya relish (atsara) with tomato and cucumber. Man…when they say garlic rice…boy, oh, boy…did they really mean it! The rice was packed with garlic and I loved it! Their longanisa was sweet, which surprised me a little because I was expecting something spicy (are you noticing a trend here?…because I am). The meat was super tender and yield to a plastic fork with ease, so it was still quite good. Though it didn’t blow my mind away.
To end a long day, though I didn’t have any…a friend bought herself a decked out waffle from Waffles de Liege:
This here is a liege waffle with chocolate drizzle, almonds, and topped with a giant scope of Fosselman’s English toffee nut ice cream. I only had the ice cream and it was amazing! My friend “Channy” dove into this with a huge smile on her face. Judging from her expression, I think she liked it ;).
Well my friends, that was my first ever Gourmet Food Truck Festival! I can’t wait for the next one, but until then…I am going to start having to find these food trucks around town for lunch! Bon appetit my fellow food stalkers!For more information on the food trucks visited: Dogzilla
Great Balls on Tires
Long Boards Ice Cream
Waffles de Liege
We woke up to clear, blue skies and pristine, crystal waters. So what else would we do, but go swimming!
Trust me…I was very high strung when we arrived, but after going through this routine: dip into the crystal blue waters, lay on the warm sands, soaking in the sun, and repeat – one can see why you can easily get swept up in the lazy attitude. Basically, the only reason we finally decided to do something was because our stomachs were growling. So…it was off to find a late lunch!
PUKA DOGS!!! It is basically taking a Chinese bakery item, that is quite common, and give it a Hawaiian twist. A loaf of slightly sweet bread, pierced by a “puka” or a hot, iron poker, which toasts the bread from inside out. They offer both white and wheat bread and then you get the choice of a polish or veggie sausage. Next comes the hardest part: the choices of many relishes and mustard. I had gone on a store worker’s suggestion (when we asked for directions): mango relish and guava mustard, with Hot garlic lemon sauce, on my polish dog with wheat bread. CP had gone with a polish dog in white, with Mild garlic lemon sauce, and dijon mustard.
Simple and delicious. With the bread toasted inside, it gave it a nice little crunch when you bit into it. My puka dog was salty and sweet, not that spicy (as my spice level is pretty high). It was a mouthful of the tropics and not exactly what I would normally go for, but it was something I had to try and did not regret doing so! CP was equally happy with his choice.
After that snack, we returned to the waters and continued our day with the amazing weather. Eventually, we needed another snack and I needed some shaved ice!! (After all, we were in Hawaii!)
Under not only 1 visitor’s suggestion, but also a local who I work with, I avoided the “tourist trap” and headed to where the locals do:
This place was literally on the corner of a neighborhood. It isn’t a place where you would “drive by”, nor give a second thought had you driven by. However, under the guidance of fellow foodies, CP and I had ourselves some great shaved ice:
Our respective treats: my azuki with mochi shaved ice, topped with a little condense milk. And CP’s lime and pink lemonade shaved ice. I loved how finely shaved the ice was because you would just put a little in your mouth and before you can even close your mouth, the ice was melted. Next best way to cool off after dipping into the water.
Basically, after this side snack, we took a drive around the island to see the rest of the island:
After we made it back to the hotel, we clean up and by that time, it was dinner time. Where did we head to? Yet, another suggestion by the same 2 foodies:
The best way to describe this place is a Chinese cafe style restaurant with big family portion dishes. We ordered the signature Side Street Inn fried rice and the Miso-yaki chicken. The fried rice was loaded with char siu, bacon, and Portuguese sausage…aka: it was pig with some rice.
The chicken was sweet, savory, and tender. It is what you would want for a good, grilled chicken. The secret: marinating and cook with skin. Mmmm….
It was another great day in paradise!
Puka Dog (2 locations)
Island of Oahu
Waikiki Town Center
2301 Kuhio Avenue # 2
Honolulu, HI 96815
Island of Kauai
Poipu Shopping Village
2650 Kiahuna Plantation Dr.
Koloa, HI 96756
2135 Waiola St
Corner of Paani St
Honolulu, HI 96805
Side Street Inn (2 locations)
1225 Hopaka St.
614 Kapahulu Ave.
My colleagues and I unfortunately had to work a little during this weekend. Normally, it would not be an issue but the fact is that we were in Chicago for goodness sake! I was about to chuck my laptop out the 19th floor window being stuck indoors, in a city that I had never been to!
“What the shit?!…”
That was the phrase of the week, literally. This is why I took the initiative in deciding for the team as a whole that we needed something great to break up this crappy start to the weekend. Thus, I ordered for us the Chicago icon: deep dish pizza!
We were staying in downtown Chicago and Gino’s East was not all that far away! Turns out that the place actually delivered to hotels and so we had an order of the Cheesy Bread with marinara:
and Gino’s East Supreme deep dish.
The crust had to be at least 2 inch high, which was needed for all the ingredients that were piled into this gorgeous break to a crappy day. It had chunky tomato sauce, mushroom, peppers, onions, and half sausage patty, half pepperoni. Of course, there was an oozy, gooey cheesy layer buried underneath all of that. It was so delicious!
Leonidas Chocolate Cafe
Sometime between lunch and dinner, a pick me up was needed. I was going to get coffee at first yet ended up going to Leonidas Chocolate Cafe because I needed ice cream or gelato ASAP! It felt like an emergency and all the alarms in me were going off shouting, “I. NEEDED. THIS. NOW!” So…
My medium cup of gelato was HUMONGOUS! I got half toasted coconut with almond and fudge, and half Belgium chocolate. I realized as I was eating this was that: my gawd I was so terribly depressed and this is why I am enjoying this even more. Secondly, I should have gotten all Belgium chocolate. It was smooth, creamy, and bittersweet. The best chocolate gelato I’ve had in some time.
Now also in passing, I saw a plate and bags of macaroons being displayed at the cafe. How could I ever pass up the opportunity?!
They looked much better than tasted sadly :(…I should have just stuck with the gelato and maybe some chocolates. Oh well, how could I have known until I tried it for myself? Live and let learn!
Later that evening, when the guys decided the stay in for the night, my new friend/colleague (PR) and I went out for dinner. We were both craving tapas all week and decided we both needed it! However, since we didn’t have the car, we walked the 2.5 miles through downtown to the restaurant. It was actually a really nice walk except for a certain area we had to walk through, but we were both quite hasty in getting to the restaurant so nothing exciting happened.
The spread included (starting from the top and going clockwise): lamb tenderloin with caramelized onions and mushroom, stuffed mushroom caps with cheese, and stuffed peppers with goat cheese.
Goodness gracious….it was an explosion of flavors! PR and I have been feeling trapped with the choices of food we have been eating and desperately needed this change up in our diet. However, just 3 tapas would never satisfy the two of us, so we had an order of the vegetable paella!
The paella was good and it was what we both wanted: something flavorful, fresh, and light too. I had 2 criticisms about the dish: 1. not enough crust! This is the best part of paella in my opinion! Also, when one thinks of paella, one would think saffron being the key spice for the rice yet this one was more tomato base. The entire meal was the best meal we had since arriving to the city!
The following day, PR and I went on an architectural river boat tour which was very informative and fun! I love learning the history of a city and I realized even before the tour, how beautiful the buildings were in the city. After our tour, we met up with the guys to grab a late lunch.
We had another staple of the city that was not all that far from the hotel again! Portillo’s had a fun atmosphere and there were so many options to chose from. However, what I wanted was an Italian sausage, onion rings, and a milk shake! And that was exactly what I got:
Look at the glory that is the delicious, greasy, fatty food that you know you shouldn’t have but you just can’t help it because it has been quite “shitty”.
The Italian sausage was typical, but the bun was a soft crusty bread that was so much better than a hot dog bun! I wish I had grilled onions and peppers to go with it :(…The onion rings were fried super crispy and even though I would normally complain at the number of rings I got that day (very few), it ended up being just enough. The milkshake was a chocolate milkshake with chocolate cake pieces mixed into it. W.O.W. Talk about chocolate overload! It was so rich that I couldn’t finish it and had to recruit my colleagues to help out. Overall I enjoyed myself again with this meal and would do it again in a heart beat.
That was pretty much my time in Chicago. I wish I had more time in the city, but we did our best in between work and commuting. I would definitely be coming back to Chi-town (hopefully not for work) for more!
Leonidas Chocolate Cafe
59 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
1530 s. state st
Chicago, IL 60605
We’ve all had that moment when the thought crosses our minds when we lay our eyes upon something that is so wrong…but so right. That moment definitely happened for me during one of the first country stops during my European trip with my honey.
In the Netherlands, where their red light district and coffee shops are well-known, there are dozens of “snack bars” that line the streets. These snack bars serve whatever you are craving for when you’ve got the case of the munchies or need a “recharge”. Ranging from the sweets to the savory, they’ve got you covered!
Now what was it that caught my eye and had me think: “Omg…should I really be even considering EATING this!? At this hour?!”
But hey! We were in Europe where the typical dinner didn’t start until about 8pm or later. It was about 11pm at that time. So once you see the beauty of a beast that was being offered in so many forms…you’ll understand.
Now that I’ve caught and kept your interest, I don’t keep the object of such amazement, of such gastronomic blasphemy from you any longer…
Yes, I consumed that THING that you see there. My honey helped with a bite or two, but I polished the rest off on my own. The surprising thing was…I did not feel the tremendous guilt as I thought I would. In fact, given the chance, I would do it all over again and again because it was absolutely delicious. Simple concept and we’ve all probably consumed this contraption in one form or another (unless you’re a vegetarian).
So please my friends, before you blast on the travesty from far away, think about how if you just opened up the bread, spreading it thinner, it would almost resemble a makeshift pizza.
Can you see it now? Can you see how this wonderful (not so) little bun filled with meats (hot dog and spiced chicken), cheese, and bell pepper…is essentially a rolled up pizza?