#TBT: Fun at the First Annual Los Angeles Food Truck Fest

Editor’s Note: This post was conceived 9 years ago, and never given birth. Ms. Foodie decided to give it a chance to fly on Throwback Thursday. She has no idea whether there have been any other Food Truck Fests, but this one was quite epic! Read on…
Thanks to Jason and Xochitl, our fellow foodie–and church–friends, Ms. and Mr. Foodie were able to catch the FIRST ANNUAL Los Angeles Street Food Festival, and we’re so glad we did!
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How a foodie like me could not have known about this food truck phenomenon , I don’t know; although the past few years have been tough. But I am a neophyte no longer!  And neither were thousands of other Angeleans, who came from far and wide (even Orange County, no less) to partake of mere morsels of gourmet street fare, from sushi to buttermilk donuts.
Personally, Ms. Foodie was looking for the fresh and innovative-Falafel?  Heck, I can go to Pita Kitchen for that.  Sushi?  Very cautious about who I get my raw fish from.  Good thing there were plenty of other offerings that fit the bill.  Jason decided to start at Monsieur Egg, which had some delicious breakfast fare.  The rest of us sampled the FREE mini-quiches they supplied; the only truck that bothered to do this.
After leaving Monsieur Egg, Dogzilla was the next hit, and it was the Hit!  Not since discovering Oki Dog has a food place made me do the happy dance!  I only have two words for you: Kari Furikake!
After sampling our first Japanese hot dog, Mr. Foodie and Ms. Foodie used our free drink tickets to sample an Izze–his was blueberry, mine was pomegranate.  While I appreciate that the company is trying to become more eco-friendly, the drinks taste much better out of glass than from aluminum. Jason and Xochitl went for an Honest Tea, that Xochitl said was mostly water. After quenching our thirst, we meandered around, looking for our next stop, which also ended up being our last stop: The Flying Pig, which was one of the most popular trucks, as it took us two hours to even order—and woefully understaffed, as it took us another two to get our morsels!
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While the food was well worth it (Tamarind Pig Tacos, Braised Short Rib Tacos and a Slider),  the wait was ridiculous. After we ordered, I decided to wander off to another food truck to see if I would have an easier time of sampling, and headed for the Grilled Cheese truck. This was one of the PREMIER trucks with a line all the way back to the entrance from the beginning of the fest—that hadn’t changed by late afternoon when I found the end of the line.

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However, while I didn’t succeed in getting anything grilled or with cheese, I did get a dose of entertainment! Some exceptionally entertaining college students who I met in line. The one on the right is named Cameron—he was a hoot!—Julia and her friend.  She asked me to hold her beer, then disappeared. Needless to say her friend Cameron relieved me of it.  Cameron likes beer!
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Off the Beaten Path: Rumi Cafe

Some parting wisdom, compliments of Rumi Cafe

Some parting wisdom, compliments of Rumi Cafe

Not really. This place is in Sherman Oaks, near Ms. Foodie’s Yoga studio. Thanks to the magic of Yelp! Ms. Foodie stumbled upon it, and I am so glad I did.

Rumi Cafe is a brand new establishment, only open three months; but they are working hard to make a good impression. The Cafe has a Middle Eastern vibe, with comfy seating (actual cushions on the chairs!), and a nice selection of books and music to go along with your coffee or meal. But they aren’t low-tech—there are two flat screens, and plenty of plugs for laptops—which was perfect for Ms. Foodie’s purposes today. I just needed a space on the way home from Yoga to patch off a few emails and do some research, but being early afternoon in the San Fernando Valley, I knew my usual haunts would be packed to the gills with the usual wannabe screenwriters and actors. So I decided to flip a coin (via Internet search) and try something new.

The Cafe had good reviews on Yelp! and since it is relatively new, Ms. Foodie took a chance that it probably would not be running a crowd. Sherlock Holmes would be proud of my deduction skills, as I was right. Ms. Foodie practically had the place to herself, on top of the focused attention of Mike, the Barista/Server on duty that afternoon.

The Cafe serves breakfast, lunch AND dinner, different from most cafes that only serve pastries or prefab sandwiches that are often too little sandwich for too much money. Ms. Foodie got her money’s worth with a delicious Spinach Omelette with hash browns and toast. One of the best Spinach omelettes Ms. Foodie has ever eaten. Fresh, light, and flavorful, yet hearty—Ms. Foodie couldn’t even finish it all. The price: less than $7.00.

The delicious Spinach Omelette, including bread (not pictured). All for less than $7.00.

The delicious Spinach Omelette, including bread (not pictured). All for less than $7.00.

Ms. Foodie also ordered an iced Vanilla Latte. Why is it 80 degrees in February? I digress, and most the nation is telling me to shut up. Where was Ms. Foodie? Yes, back to the Vanilla Latte. Ms. Foodie will be wired for sound for the rest of the day. The espresso was super strong (just the way Ms. Foodie likes it!), and the Vanilla was delicate—a mere hint of flavor without overpowering the espresso. A rare thing, especially if you frequent the majors like Starbucks and the Coffee Bean. Mike, being very gracious and solicitous, charmed Ms. Foodie into ordering another one—this time, blended. The blended Vanilla Latte was even better than the iced one, but now Ms. Foodie will be wired for sound for the rest of the night! But it was well worth it—Middle Eastern- type cafes make coffee and espresso like nobody’s business!

The cherry on Ms. Foodie’s sundae was Mike offering a sample of their soups of the day: Tomato-Basil, Carrot-Ginger, or Bean.   Ms. Foodie chose the Carrot-Ginger Soup, and thought I had died and gone to Heaven! The soup was so creamy, and lightly laced with Ginger and other spices, it made Ms. Foodie feel like she was being enveloped in a warm comforter.

This place may appear to be off the beaten path and tucked away, but Ms. Foodie has no doubt that this will change very soon. I recommend you pop by and give them some business—just give Ms. Foodie a few more months to feel like I have the place to myself….

13368 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, California 91423. Hours of operation: 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. You can also find them on Facebook at LA Rumi Cafe.

Food Truck Heaven: Ricky’s Fish Tacos

So Ms. Foodie is making it a New Year’s goal (no resolutions on this blog) to explore more of the L.A. Food Truck scene. After Christmas, Ms. Foodie and visiting family paid a visit to Ricky’s Fish Tacos. The menu is simple: Ensenada-style Fish Tacos and Shrimp Tacos with a few traditional Mexican drinks. In-N-Out has done well with that strategy, so why not?

Ms. Foodie tried both the Fish and Shrimp Tacos. The Shrimp was good, but the flavor of the shellfish felt overwhelmed by all that breading. But the Fish Taco? Oh My! Divine and melt in your mouth. Topped by delicious crema, or a mild, medium, or hot salsa, and you have a winner for dinner. Ms. Foodie didn’t see any lines around the block–yet; but I have no doubt Ricky’s will get there.

Ms. Foodie highly recommends you try the Mint-Cucumber drink–it will change your life!

Follow Ricky’s Fish Tacos on Twitter: @RickysFishTacos.

Eating Out: The Oinkster’s “Nick Offerman” All-American Burger

It’s been a rough week, and as much as Ms. Foodie loves to cook, even I need a night off sometimes. It was also the last day in October, and I had yet to try the Burger of the Month at one my favorite burger joints, The Oinkster.

Mr. Foodie and I were not disappointed in the “Nick Offerman” All-American Burger: Shaved Ham, Gruyere, hot n’ sweet Mustard, Mayo and house-made Pickles on top of a Beef Patty and stuffed in a Sourdough Bun.

Despite the list of ingredients, it was quite light, and always tasty. Ms. Foodie approves, and The Oinkster continues to not disappoint!

The Oinkster’s Burger Week, June 3-9

The Oinkster

Ms. Foodie loves living on the Eastside of Los Angeles, if for nothing else, the unique food offerings. The Oinkster is the go-to place for gourmet fast food. Don’t doubt me–it does exist.

Chef Andre Guerrero whips up “high-quality American classics”, and he does a good job of it. Every year, the Oinkster has a “Burger Week” with unique and awesome offerings for seven days. There’s even a contest for free swag if you are able to come in all 7 days and eat all 7 burgers. Unfortunately, Ms. Foodie was only able to sample two–but they were well worth the trip!

Wednesday’s Burger was “Burgerlord of the Rings”: One burger to rule them all. Five ounces of beef patty, homemade Onion Rings, Sriracha Cream Cheese, Pineapple Ring & Teriyaki Sauce on a Bagel Bun.

It was the bomb-diggity!

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On Thursday, Mr. Foodie and I hopped on over for “The Weed Eater”: a half pound Burger, Jalapeño Bacon, Cheddar, Funyuns, Garlic Aioli and seared Pulled Pork (in Mosh Pit BBQ Sauce).

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Mr. Foodie gave it a 9.5 out of 10.

Unfortunately, once Burger Week is done, so are those particular specialties. But fear not Burger Lovers, the Oinkster offers a specialty burger every month, as well as their signature burger, “The Royale”:  a 1/3 pound Nebraska Angus patty cheeseburger with bacon, chili  AND pastrami, plus dill pickles, onions, tomato, lettuce and 1000 Island dressing.  You can choose your cheese: American or sharp cheddar. For another .75 cents, add some gruyere.

Well worth the caloric intake.

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You can follow The Oinkster on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. To keep up all the food offerings, visit their website.

Ms. Foodie’s 5 Best Food Finds of 2012

Ms. Foodie has been away from the blog for a bit, but not away from creating good food in the kitchen, or finding it wherever I go. As a denouement to a 2012 of food, and a gift to you for 2013, here are Ms. Foodie’s  5 Best Food Finds of 2012:

Trader Joe’s Trader Jacques
Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce

  5182566877_9d5a236ff9_z Ms. Foodie loves caramel. It is one of those perfect foods that combines butter and salt, with just the right amount of sweet. However, there is nothing worse than bad caramel: that chalky, cloying, overly sweet goo that some manufacturers try to pass off on an unsuspecting palate. Ms. Foodie does not approve. So to my pure joy and delight, Ms. Foodie discovered the deliciously perfect Trader Jacques Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce at Trader Joe’s.

 Ms. Foodie puts it over vanilla ice cream, dips apples in it, even adds it to maple syrup! It blends perfectly, and it reheats nicely, without being clumpy or separating like some caramel sauces. Ms. Foodie hopes there are no recalls on this product, because I refuse to try anything else.

Quinoa

IMG_quinoa-saladThis latest trend in super foods is a hit with Ms. Foodie. Milled from a seed, (which makes it gluten-friendly), it is as versatile as the potato, and as simple to prepare as rice; so, it works as a main dish or a side dish. Like Pasta, Quinoa can be served hot or cold, and mixed with a variety of different ingredients, from vegetables, to dried fruits, nuts, even tofu or meat!

Quinoa takes on the flavor of whatever you prepare it with, and Ms. Foodie likes to use the tri-colored or red variety, preparing it using chicken or vegetable broth, instead of water. Quinoa is also very hearty. I find I eat less of a dish that contains Quinoa than I do of one without it. So it’s great for the waist!

 M Street Coffee

Since Ms. Foodie was introduced to this place (h/t Douglas E. Welch), I can’t even recall the last M Streettime I frequented a Starbucks or a Coffee Bean. From M Street’s simple, yet moist and flavorful breads and pastries, to their deliciously brewed organic coffee and tea beverages, this friendly neighborhood Coffee Bar has the corner on custom and hip–without the attitude to go along with it. Can’t say the same for the patrons, but what can you do?

Ms. Foodie’s personal fave is the Chai Tea Latte, one of the smoothest and creamiest Chais I have ever had. Not bitter and thin like FourBucks, or overly sugary like CBTL. Just good flavor at a good price.  They also have seasonal offerings, like the lovely Peppermint Mocha (pictured) during the Holidays. While I no longer live close to this Sherman Oaks treasure, I pop in whenever I get a chance–the Chai calls me!

Sweet Potatoes

Versatility is the key to how often an ingredient is used in cooking–why do you think Pasta is so popular? So Ms. Foodie has been rocking the versatility of the Sweet Potato in main dishes and desserts.

Broasted Chicken, Quinoa and Sweet PotatoesAside from my classic Sweet Potato Pie, Ms. Foodie has used them to make soups, stews, mashed potatoes, and of course, Sweet Potato fries. My current favorite dish is combining one of my other best finds above: Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes. Ms. Foodie cooks them in chicken broth, along with some cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Oh, my, what a tasty treat!

The Capri

Italian food can be made for mere pennies, and Ms. Foodie does a pretty good job of it. So it’s a rare restaurant where I bother to actually pay for it, especially since it is usually extremely overpriced, and not nearly as good as Ms. Foodie can make it. One of my exceptions is the revamped Capri Restaurant in Eagle Rock.

The Capri was a restaurant makeover candidate for Kitchen Nightmares, and Gordon Ramsey did good by them. They have a really stupendous thin crust pizza. The cheese and crust alone rates, but their Margherita is also a taste sensation. They have other traditional and non-traditional offerings, including a White Clam, Cuban, and a BBQ Pork! The Capri’s garlic knots are flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth good, and the meatball sliders are rich, without being overly heavy, and full of burst-in-your-mouth spice. To make this place even more palatable, the prices are not at all unreasonable.

Holiday Bash Spread 11-13-2012One of the owners is part of a Work@Homers networking group to which Ms. Foodie belongs, and we recently had a Holiday bash at The Capri. Which means they are good for parties and catering too!

Here’s to a New Year of good eating. Happy 2013!

A Passion for Cupcakes!

So Ms. Foodie has been under the weather for a few days, but I managed to drag myself outside today for the grand opening of Passions Pastries & Cupcakery at their new location in Studio City!

I have known owner and chef Darlene Perry for years. Darlene and her sisters, “The Perry Sisters”,  are well-known in Gospel and R&B music circles. We all used to sing in a gospel choir together, and through mutual friends, have managed to keep up with each others happenings.

Darlene started her yummy venture in 2008 in her home kitchen, and was one of the featured chefs on Cupcake Wars, Season 3. She has expanded from a delectable selection of mini and regular-sized assorted cupcakes, to ice-box cakes, confections, sandwiches, and Seafood Gumbo–Hey, now!

The location at 11310 Ventura Boulevard is lovely and bright, with enough seating room for you to sit a spell, and enjoy your cupcake with a warm cup of Joe.

I sampled the Seafood Gumbo, and it was to die for! Spicy, and melt-in-your-mouth goodness that gives Stevie’s a run for their money.

But what I came for was the cupcakes, and nobody does it better! My personal favorite is the Sweet Potato, but I indulged and also bought an Ebony, a Carrot Cake, and a Red Velvet.

Now I don’t consider myself a Red Velvet fan, but Darlene does an incredible job of making it light, moist, with just the right hint of sweetness. I’ve had Red Velvet before that was cloying and overly sugary–this is anything but. So as long as Darlene is doing it, I can now count the Red Velvet among my favorites too!

And of course, she caters.  Pop by the storefront, or phone it in: (818) 506-8773 and (818) 985-2376.

If you love cupcakes, you’ll love Passions! Stop on by, and tell them Ms. Foodie Patootie sent you.

NoHo Dine Out Friday Nights

Ms. Foodie likes the combination of  food with shopping–this is why the modern food court is so dang popular.

Friends and fellow transitioners MC and CJ are mounting the NoHo Dine Out Friday Nights starting on Friday, November 11 and continuing through November and December!

Each week 10 food trucks and 10 local vendors will be featured, offering a variety of cuisine, along with arts and crafts especially made for the Holiday shopper. In the past, MC and CJ have hosted admission-fee events where the proceeds have benefited animal rescue. This time around, they just want to build community and put Los Angeles on the map as a gourmet food town–this will bring it one step closer.

The best part–admission is free! So you can spend your ducats on the yummy food and the local arts and crafts.

Date:  Every Friday starting November 11 through the months of November and December

Time:  4:40 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Location:  The parking lot at 11458 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood (west of Lankershim, next to Twin Palms Apartments)

Ms. Foodie hopes to pop in before she plays the Yoga instructor on Friday nights–maybe I’ll see you there!

On the Plate…

Image Artwork: Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

If Ms. Foodie Patootie had had any sense, she would have been at the 1st 8th annual Grilled Cheese Invitational on Saturday.  Another premier event at the L.A. Center Studios that featured vendors like Tillamook Cheese and food trucks!  Will definitely have to put it on the calendar for next year…

And speaking of trucks, we have a new one to stalk!  The Munchie Machine rolled out its fare on April 20 at Bigfoot West in Venice.  Which is apropos, since the truck decor and menu would definitely appeal to a certain crowd that appreciates umm… herbal refreshments.   There’s much there for the rest of us too, with lots of tasty sandwiches with even tastier ingredients; and of course, salads and vegetarian fare for the non-carnivores of L.A.  The website is not up full blast just yet, but The Munchie Machine menu is viewable, as well as their follow link to Twitter.

When I worked near LAX in the early ’90s, there was little to speak of food-wise except fast food and greasy spoons.  Thankfully that has changed considerably, and now they are really upping the ante with the new Century Food Truck Lot!  On it’s premiere date a week ago, it hosted nine of the L.A. Food Trucks, including Komodo, India Jones, and The Buttermilk Truck.  Schedules are viewable in Google calendar–very convenient for those times when Ms. Foodie is near the airport!  Century Food Truck schedules.

H/t LAist.

The Word according to Eshman: LA is not yet a food city…

Could L.A. rival Chicago and New York as a Food City? Only time will tell...

Interesting post from the Foodaism blog at Jewish Journal dot com. “Nine ways to make  L.A. the ‘Ultimate Food City‘” is two parts snark, and one part “CYA”.   Rob Eshman is rebutting comments from a previous post where he posited that a Saveur magazine article claiming L.A. as “The Ultimate Food City” was a bit overhyped.   Apparently the locals got restless, so he decided to give his critique a new spin.

Read it for yourself, but points 2, 3, and 4 jumped off the screen at me, because it’s stuff I’ve been saying since I moved here 22 years ago:

#2. Triple the number of Food AND PROVISION trucks. Hello?! One of my major complaints is that you have to go to some “town” in order to get a particular type of food.   Sad. Sad. Sad.  The food trucks are the best thing that’s happened to L.A. food, ’cause it’s bringing good stuff to the people!  Being a transplanted native, I don’t have the memories of bakery trucks, etc. that he has, but I do remember being able to get Soul Food and Mexican in the same neighborhood, and getting donuts from a corner kiosk, not having to drive to Krispy Kreme.  Are they even still around?

# 3. Free up zoning and licensing to mix food businesses and residential areas, and F the NIMBYs. Again, NEVER understood this.  Chicago, San Francisco, New York all zone mixed-use neighborhoods.  Burbank is catching on and having GREAT success.  Wake up, L.A. City Council; opportunity is pounding and you’re asleep on the couch…

# 4. Loosen after hours regulations and encourage more late dining out.  Joe and Sharon, my New-Yorker transplant friends share this pain–why does every good restaurant close at 10 pm on a Friday night? What’s up with that?!  Some of my best social times have been 2 am dining adventures, and after moving here, those times have been limited to three restaurants: Mel’s Diner, Denny’s (sorry, not quite fine dining, but you know what I’m sayin’) and In-N-Out.  That needs to change, and change quickly.

I would add a #10 to this list: Get rid of the Nanny State food regulators in our government who create useless zoning regulations, come up with trans-fat restrictions, and trumpet fictitious causes like obesity.  Yes, Governor Schwarzenegger, I’m talkin’ to you!

H/t: LAist.