Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Food Trucks

Come and get it: Free food truck event in Santa Monica

Ice cream sandwiches from the Coolhaus truck

Who can resist a free meal? Especially when it involves the Lobsta Truck, ice cream sandwiches from Coolhaus and other dishes from popular food trucks.

BBC America will host a free food truck event on Tuesday in Santa Monica to celebrate its new cooking adventure series "No Kitchen Required." From 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. diners can get free food, drinks, desserts and even free T-shirts. The event is first come, first served. So its Facebook page suggests not being late.

There will also be a screening of "No Kitchen Required" at 7 p.m. The new show involves three chefs in exotic and remote locations who must work with the local community to cook meals inspired by their surroundings. The show premieres April 3 at 10 p.m. Pacific time on BBC America.

RSVPing for the food truck event requires liking the "No Kitchen Required" Facebook page.

2612 Main St., Santa Monica (corner of Main Street and Ocean Park).

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-- Jenn Harris
twitter.com/jenn_harris

Photo: Ice cream sandwiches from the Coolhaus truck. Credit: Brian Leatart.

Green Truck to visit the LAPD festival of skid row artists

Gardein

Food truck fare is known for being tastebud-friendly, but not necessarily healthful. The Green Truck and Gardein team is trying to accomplish both. In January, Green Truck, a food truck dedicated to organic, sustainable cooking, and Gardein, makers of meatless protein products, got together to launch the "Cheat on Meat" campaign. The Green Truck and Gardein food carts travel to various L.A. communities to sell and distribute samples of their wholesome products.

"Part of Gardein’s mission is to make healthy vegan, nutritious food available to the people who need it most -- those low-income families who by and large only have access to McDonalds," said Colette Brooks, Meat cheater and marketing representative for Gardein.

GardeinburgerThe Green Truck will make an appearance at the Los Angeles Poverty Department's (LAPD) second annual skid row artists festival in Gladys Park on Friday from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Public art will be displayed along with a stage for live performances of poetry, music, rap and more.

Attendees can feast on vegetarian dishes from the truck that will showcase the Gardein meatless products and the Green Truck's signature sauces, including the Cheat on Meat beefless sliders made with Gardein's ultimate beefless slider, grilled onions, fresh arugula, lemon and heirloom tomato ($3 for one or $5 for two), the vegan shawarma miniature wrap made with cornmeal-crusted Gardein beefless tips, hummus, cherry tomatoes, arugula and marinated onions ($5) or the chick'n and nopalitos tacos made with nopalitos (marinated cactus), Gardein's grilled chick'n strips and ancho chile-pineapple salsa ($3 for one or $5 for two).

The festival will take place at Gladys park Friday and Saturday at the corner of 6th and Gladys Street in skid row from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

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 -- Jenn Harris
twitter.com/jenn_harris

Photos, from top: A Gardein food cart stationed at a Whole Foods Market to dole out free samples, inviting shoppers to "cheat on meat"; the Gardein ultimate beef-less burger. Credit: Gardein 2012.

Eagle Rock Brewery anniversary party at Verdugo Bar

ERB_Anniversary_YearTwo_ADDRESS_V1Eagle Rock Brewery is hosting its anniversary party at Verdugo Bar on Saturday to celebrate its second year as an L.A. brewery. 

Craft beer lovers can sip on all Eagle Rock's signature brews along with a few surprise beers to be revealed at the event.  Grill 'Em All and Mandoline Grill food trucks will be there to nourish your inebriated body. 

Tickets are $12 per person at the door and include four drink tickets and a commemorative glass (while supplies last). Verdugo Bar, 3408 Verdugo Road, Eagle Rock, eaglerockbrewery.com

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Photo Credit: Eagle Rock Brewery

5 Questions for Tara Maxey

Tara Maxey 600

Tara Maxey is co-owner of Heirloom LA, a catering company that specializes in fresh pasta and local ingredients. The former wardrobe stylist studied pastry under Suzanne Griswold of Spago and also worked with Cake Monkey Bakery's Elizabeth Belkind. Since opening in 2009, the catering company has wowed Angelenos with its "lasagna cupcakes," added a food truck to its repertoire and is now in the process of opening a tasting room in Eagle Rock.

What’s coming next on your menu? Our holiday menu! Every Monday my dad sets out for McGrath Family Farms in Camarillo to pick up any of their overages. This year they provided us with roughly 8,000 pounds of strawberries, which forced us to come up with a lot of flavor combinations for jam (my favorite: lavender and rosemary), as well as learn how to utilize a dehydrator (strawberry dust maintains its color and flavor). Now we're getting in a gorgeous array of pumpkins and squash that boldly point out the season and possess arresting shapes and stunning hues and flavors that you would never find in corporate agriculture. We're classically pairing these organic beauties with brown butter and sage or vanilla and using them for fillings in our lasagna cupcakes, agnolotti and shepherd’s pies ... and cocktails!

Latest ingredient obsession? Bitters because they scare me. We've been making a lot of cocktails for ourselves over here at Heirloom, something we like to call "research and development," and it occurred to me that bitters, like most extracts used in baking, taste corrosive on their own but have the power to really bring out a different layer to what they are teamed up with provided they are applied well. I'm certain I am not the first person to think about using bitters in baking, but it's a new frontier to me so I am currently obsessed with figuring them out and making them in house.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? D.J. Olsen prepares a Monday Supper at Lou, executing a three-course chef's tasting menu that is intensely farmers market driven and never disappoints. He finds so much joy in his job and you can taste it. I'd love to say that's where you'll find us each week, but our food truck is at Silverlake Wine on Mondays so it's tough to get away. We do, however, run into D.J. every Wednesday at the Santa Monica farmers market, which is always so inspiring because he rolls with this janky cart full of broken boxes piled on top of one another making you wonder what is up with this guy but on closer inspection you see that he’s accumulated the most coveted produce of the market, which tempts me, every time, to swashbuckle him down to the ground so I can steal his lot, but he’s just so nice, I could never.

What’s your favorite breakfast? A strong yet nuanced cup of joe with a few nibbles of several buttery pastries prepared with superb ingredients and a light hand. Right now, Proof Bakery in Atwater Village is fitting that tall order.

The last cookbook you read – and what inspired you to pick it up? Due to a resume void of culinary school I have amassed an unreasonable amount of cookbooks to quiet any throbbing insecurities that may bubble up and obstruct my to-do list for the day. My favorite is Claudia Fleming's "The Last Course" even though I don’t have this one. It's out of print and out of my budget but I’ve managed to Xerox certain pages of it, most notably her macaroon recipe, which is unrivaled. Santa, I’d like the hard copy.

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--Caitlin Keller

Photo credit: George Simian

Speculoos slowly spreading through L.A.

Speculoos NEW Some say Speculoos is the new Nutella. It looks like peanut butter but tastes like the gingerbread, cinnamon-flavored cookie it's made from, known as biscoff. (You may know the flavor from those cookies handed out on Delta airlines.) The popular Belgian cookie via paste is making its way over the Atlantic and now it's coming to food trucks, slowly but surely.

If you've been fortunate enough to have stumbled upon the spread while abroad, chances are you've returned home with a new sugary obsession to share. Lotus Bakeries introduced Speculoos to the U.S. market this year; but even so, most Americans don't know about it yet. A gradually increasing number of food trucks are looking to change this. Wafels & Dinges in New York sells its own version (called Spekuloos) and offers the spread as one of many waffle toppings, as does L.A.'s Waffles de Liege.

In the height of the food truck boom, will Speculoos ever really catch on, on the street food scene? George Wu of Waffles de Liege believes it will. "If the popularity of Liege waffles grows," says Wu, "more people will get a chance to try Speculoos, and as a result, more people will talk about it and experiment with it on different food; and before long, it'll be a kitchen staple like Nutella."

Fingers crossed, Waffles de Liege's use of the cookie-made-spread will cause a domino effect of sorts among other Southern California food trucks and thus the spread of scrumptious Speculoos.

Waffles 600

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-- Caitlin Keller

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City Council approves restaurants for LAX (Cole's in Terminal 4, ¡Loteria! Grill in Terminal 5, and more...)

Marketplace

After a contentious contract bidding process (and plenty of big talk about big-name restaurants), the Los Angeles City Council has approved plans by three concessions companies for new eats at LAX. Yes, it looks like there will be a ¡Lotería! Grill at Terminal 5. 

Expect an airport version of the Original Farmers Market at Terminal 5, including ¡Lotería! and Monsieur Marcel. The Original Farmers Market at LAX will feature longtime tenants such as T&Y Bakery, Magee's House of Nuts, Light My Fire and Three Dog Bakery. There will also be two locations of L.A.-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Last fall, Delaware North Cos., as part of a joint venture, was also selected by LAX to bring Skewers, a new Japanese yakitori concept by "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto, to Terminal 5. Delaware North also operates Pink's Hot Dogs LAX and the Daily Grill in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, as well as the Encounter inside the LAX Theme Building.

Meanwhile, in Terminal 4, Host International will operate Cole's French Dip, Campanile, 8 Oz. Burger Bar, La Provence Patisserie & Café and L.A. Gourmet Street Truck -- a venue for a rotating roster of food trucks such as Buttermilk and Nom Nom. There will be Starbucks locations too. 

And in Terminals 7 and 8, CMS/Camacho Ventures is bringing Seven Grand, BLD, Yogurtland and more Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations. 

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Coney Dog!

-- Betty Hallock

Rendering of Cole's and L.A. Gourmet Street Truck courtesy of HMS Host

Food truck scavenger hunt

Border grill

The Amazing Food Truck Race is a scavenger hunt that combines L.A.'s most iconic sights with seven of its best food trucks. The race will be held June 25. Participants will scour the city eating their way from clue to clue. You might savor masala fries from NaanStop or enjoy the salty-sweet combination of Lardon’s bacon brownies, or something else.

Teams can be from two to eight people. All participants will meet at a predetermined location that is given when you sign up. The first three teams will receive prizes from Puma, Honest Tea and Rockstar, among others. 

An after-party will be held at Busby’s East with complimentary food truck favorites to celebrate the event. Tickets for the race are $60 per person, available online.

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Photo: Border Grill truck. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times

Have new-wave food trucks jumped the shark?

GrilledCheeseTruck 
Two-and-a-half years after Kogi ignited the food truck firestorm that is sweeping L.A., many involved in the scene are calling for sanity. With nearly 200 new-wave food trucks on the road in L.A. County, it is becoming harder and harder to find quality food. And some say that what was once special and underground has become just another dulled-down commercial endeavor. 

Still, if L.A. can move past the hype of the scene's tricky adolescence, a wonderful world of tasty eats awaits, says Roy Choi, the chef who put "Koreatown in one bite" with his Kogi Korean barbecue tacos.

In this week's Food section, we take a  look at the debate swirling around new-wave food trucks. We also hopped in Tom LaBonge's car for a ride to Mid-Wilshire, where the L.A. City Council member  explained his latest plan for city regulation of the trucks. 

And if you're hungry to follow along on the fun and chaos of the scene, we've compiled a few key Facebook pages, websites and Twitter feeds that might come in handy.

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The wearable grill is the next food truck

-- Jessica Gelt 

Photo: Cheese Executive Officer Michele Grant puts together an order at the Grilled Cheese Truck. Credit: Christina House / Los Angeles Times

 

 

The next big thing in street food? The wearable grill

WURST GRILL (1 of 1) In Berlin, I found this wurst vendor staked out on the pedestrian bridge leading to Museum Island. While Berliners sunned themselves in canvas beach chairs sprinkled on the grassy banks of the Spree, this fellow sweated under his umbrella grilling wursts. For 1.5 euros, or about $2.25 at the current exchange rate, you get a freshly grilled sausage in a bun.  

This guy's wearable grill is pretty ingenious: The rectangular grill is worn in front , cigarette girl-style, counterbalanced by a brace and supply box at the back. An umbrella is part of the outfit too, shading  him (barely) from the  sun. He looks strong and fit, but even so, what a hard job. I wonder how he got there. Did he wear this getup on the subway or the bus? Or does it come apart and stow in a canvas carryall? Another day, I saw a sturdy blond woman in a similar getup working the crowd.

The wearable grill may be new, but the idea of street food vendors hanging their goods on their bodies isn’t. Somewhere I have a collection of images of street food vendors from, I think,  the 18th century. (My books and papers are all boxed up right now so I can’t find it.) Instead of a big umbrella, though, they usually wore a hat with a wide brim for shade. 

-- S. Irene Virbila

Photo:  S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times

The Week in Restaurant Openings: The Misfit and Hungry Cat in Santa Monica; Heirloom-LA launches food truck

Misfit The Misfit is scheduled to open in Santa Monica on Thursday. LGO Hospitality, the restaurant group behind La Grande Orange in Pasadena, has transformed what was formerly Anisette on Santa Monica Boulevard into the Misfit. It's a breakfast-lunch-dinner spot that intends to offer some things virtuous (plenty of vegan and vegetarian options) and some things not-so (plenty of cocktails). Seven nights a week, open late.    

225 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica

The Hungry Cat might now be a mini-empire, with its third location open on West Channel Road. (First Hollywood, then Santa Barbara, now Santa Monica.) Expect more of chef-owner David Lentz's Maine-meets-L.A. seafood menu: seafood platters, peel-n-eat shrimp, crudo, salads and fruity cocktails. 

100 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica

Heirloom-LA, the local-favorite catering company that made a splash with lasagna cupcakes, is launching a food truck, set to debut Tuesday. Watch Twitter for locations: @wpheirloomla

-- Betty Hallock

[Updated April 26, 10:34 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that LGO Hospitality operated M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica.] 

Photo: The Misfit. Credit: Sara Abbot / The Misfit

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.