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Food Truck Road Trip: A Cookbook will be out Nov. 4, 2014.

Outside Lands Food Tour | San Francisco

Yahoo! Food was kind enough to send us to Outside Lands 2014, a three-day music festival from notable not just for the big names featured in their swoon-worthy musical lineup, but also for showcasing some of San Francisco’s other rock stars: chefs. We took over Yahoo! Food’s Instagram for a day and covered the much-talked-about food scene.

San Francisco has had a long, colorful, musical history since before ushering in the revolution of the ‘60s. The city’s food scene has been equally innovative, with restaurants such as Chez Panisse pioneering a cooking style focused on local, high-quality ingredients. Outside Lands was the perfect setting for both foodies and music lovers alike to feast on the best of both worlds.

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And feast we did. First off, the food at Outside Lands was not even in the same stratosphere as your typical fair food. The four food sections boasted booths from such impossible-to-get-into restaurants as Rich Table and noted localvores like the Woodhouse Fish Co. Beyond enhancing the sheer awesomeness of the festival, these booths gave many festival goers a chance to sample food from restaurants that would otherwise seem intimidating. “There’s a different demographic [here] that we really never see,” says Mark Liberman, chef/owner of restaurants AQ and TBD. “People associate AQ as a really hoity-toity restaurant. We’re really not, but people have that assumption. [This] allows people who generally wouldn’t come to our restaurant to see we have nice, approachable food that’s not super expensive.”

Food that’s not just approachable, but downright incredible. Mark served up a Spaghetti Sloppy Joe: a sandwich born of a late, whiskey-infused night in the kitchen with some leftover spaghetti and bread. “We took something that’s really familiar and very Americana and made our version of it, he says. “With really nice, organic, local tomato, basil, and mozzarella cooked down until it’s really rich and tasty.” The result was a showstopper. We lost track of how many people just HAD to know where we got this visually stunning dish.

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Evan Rich of Rich Table also decided to change up a classic with his Porcini Doughnuts, by far one of the best things we’ve ever put in our mouths. One of the most popular items in their restaurant, the Porcini Doughnut is a marriage of fried dough dusted with dried porcinis and seasonings in a heavenly mass finished with a raclette cheese dipping sauce. As Evan puts it, “It’s the simple things people love.”

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“It’s the simple things people love.”

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Ryan Farr showcased another thing people love: burgers, fries, and ingredients that shine. Bringing only the best from 4505 Meats, Ryan’s “Best Damn Cheeseburger” features a grass-fed patty, gruyere cheese, lettuce, onions, secret sauce and a side of spicy garlic chimichurri fries. The beef is the true star of this ensemble. Says Ryan, “Claire at Mindful Meats does a great job of sourcing grass-fed meats. It’s got good flavor, good fat. It’s really important to us we use quality meats and good products.”

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If anyone is fanatical about good products, it’s August Schuchman of Woodhouse Fish Co. Knowing full well seafood is best when devoured only miles and minutes from its watery origins, he strives to keep it as local as possible. In addition to clam chowder and fresh oysters straight from Drakes Bay, his Lobster Roll was a hit. Fresh lobster mixed with celery, chives, and lemon aioli tucked inside a roll brushed with clarified butter and toasted on the griddle. As he puts it: “It’s a happy place for the lobster to be.”

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“It’s a happy place for the lobster to be.”

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If August has the surf down, Ian Marks has the turf, bringing that same focus to the meats and charcuterie served at the Beast and the Hare. While they featured mouth-watering, slow braised pork shoulder and chicken thighs, Ian’s true calling is the art of the cure. “It’s cool when you see [a cut of meat] that’s identified as one thing, and you turn it into something else. Like, turning pork shoulder into coppa. You spent a month curing it into something else. I’m really into that idea of cooking.”

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As much as we enjoyed chowing down on some of the Bay Area’s finest, every chef we visited, without exception, seemed to be having just as much fun. Ryan said it best: “We love cooking outside. It’s great to be outdoors, hearing the music. So many good food vendors here right now. It’s good to see all of our friends we see every year. It’s something we love to do. It’s pretty amazing. It’s Outside Lands, man, it’s awesome, it’s the best thing every year. The whole team looks forward to this particular weekend.”

Outside Lands - San Francisco, CA
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Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos | San Francisco Food Truck

Urban legend claims your taste buds change every seven years. One day you wake up, and suddenly mustard is amazing. Or a funfetti birthday cake buried beneath two inches of heavy frosting is no longer quite the draw it once was when you were seven. Lori Phillips (no relation to Terri) of Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos knows this all too well. “My food habits changed as an adult,” she says. “Things I used to love as a kid just doesn’t taste good anymore as an adult, especially a lot of junk or comfort foods.”But she wasn’t quite ready to give up her childhood love of Choco Tacos: crisp waffle cone shells folded around ice cream and dipped in chocolate.

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Lori wanted to make a version of the Choco Taco that would appeal to a more grown-up palate. “So when I started to examine what it is, I thought let’s make an ice cream cone without all the junk. No gums, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors. No preservatives. Just get all that junk out of there. Put in what we want and leave out all the unnecessary stuff.” And since Rocko’s was named after her dog, his four-legged friends aren’t left out. By replacing ice cream with honey-sweetened Greek yogurt and chocolate with carob, she’s created an “ice cream” taco your dog can enjoy as well.

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“If you’re going to eat dessert, eat it right.”

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So what does end up in a more sophisticated ice cream taco? Lori starts off with an organic base from Three Twins Ice Cream and flavors it herself with the purest, highest quality ingredients she can find; such as salted caramel, farm strawberries, or vegan chocolate chips. She then folds it in a waffle cone shell made up of three different kinds of flours sourced from a farmer Lori met at the Farmer’s Market. “He’s now my go-to guy for most of my vegetable, eggs, and wheat,” explains Lori. “It’s grown into a really great relationship. I’ve visited the farm and go back a couple times a year. It’s the blending of those flours that really give the waffle cone its texture. That’s what makes it so special.” The concoction is then dipped in your choice of milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate or a peanut butter dip (or double dipped if that’s your thing). And finally, the dipped shell is hardened almost instantly with the magic of liquid nitrogen.

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Though she was unsure at first how the city would react to a gourmet ice cream taco cart, her doubts were unfounded. Rocko’s word-of-mouth popularity enabled them to move from a food cart at the Fort Mason Off The Grid to a mobile food truck by their second year. Though honestly, how could she go wrong appealing to the kid in all of us? As Lori puts it: “We all live stressful lives, so we all enjoy our foods and desserts, and you should. Do it with organic ingredients, do it without a bunch of fillers, corn syrup, and all of that junk you don’t want to eat anyways. If you’re going to eat dessert, eat it right.”

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Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos
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Thanks to all our followers and fans, it’s been a whirlwind year for us. We’re always so honored to be recognized by valued sources. USA Today’s 10Best travel site has nominated us as one of the readers’ choice Favorite Travel and Food Blogger! Please support us by voting and spreading the word. Voting ends August 18th and you can vote once a day until then.
Vote for us!
Update: Yay, we made it into the Top 10. Thanks so much for voting everyone!

Thanks to all our followers and fans, it’s been a whirlwind year for us. We’re always so honored to be recognized by valued sources. USA Today’s 10Best travel site has nominated us as one of the readers’ choice Favorite Travel and Food Blogger! Please support us by voting and spreading the word. Voting ends August 18th and you can vote once a day until then.

Vote for us!

Update: Yay, we made it into the Top 10. Thanks so much for voting everyone!

Fukuburger | Las Vegas Food Truck

When we attended Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards again this year in Las Vegas, we thought we would take the opportunity to do a story on a Las Vegas food truck. We’ve heard a lot about Fukuburger and their amazing Japanese-inspired American comfort foods like their Tamago “Egg” Burger: all-beef patty with furikake, wasabi mayo, and topped with (of course) a fried egg and crispy onion strings.

We met up with owner Colin Fukunaga at his literally-just-opened first permanent spot in F.A.M.E at the Linq. He chatted with us about his motivations and a brief history of the Las Vegas food scene and how it has become more receptive to food trucks.

Fukubuger - Las Vegas, NV
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Love Belizean | Portland Food Cart

Tiffany Love is angry.” Thus opens an Oregonian article detailing the eviction of several food carts from their pod at SW 6th Ave and Columbia St in Portland. But when we caught up with Tiffany, owner of Love Belizean, she was singing a different tune. “We turned a negative into a positive and are totally expanding our business. I’m like, ecstatic.”

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“Where do you guys eat? Where’s the local food?’ They turned us on to a bunch of different local spots, and everybody serves this chicken and rice dish. I mean everybody.”

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Since the article ran, things have been falling into place for Tiffany. She’s moving her cart to a brand new food pod run by Tidbit Food & Farm—complete with a full nursery, beer garden, and fire pit—located at SE 20th and Division, and biggest of all, she’s in the process of opening up a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Both of these locations will offer Tiffany’s roasted red pepper and onion tri-tip, red beans and rice stewed in coconut curry, and their signature dish: Belizean chicken and rice. Tiffany was first introduced to this particular style of chicken while honeymooning in Belize with her husband Andy. “We were at the touristy hotels and everything on the menu was American,” she laughs. “So we asked them, ‘Where do you guys eat? Where’s the local food?’ They turned us on to a bunch of different local spots, and everybody serves this chicken and rice dish. I mean everybody. It was one of the cheapest things on the menu, but one of the most fantastic.”

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On their return, they looked in vain for something similar and came up empty. So Andy built her a food cart, literally from the ground up. Tiffany trained at Le Cordon Bleu and spent two years in the kitchen of a SE Portland pizza restaurant, where they let her create her own weekly specials. There, she learned the confidence to trust her culinary instincts. After a little experimentation, she came up with her own version of Belizean chicken and rice. Soon enough, Love Belizean was gaining media attention and was named one of Willamette Week’s Top 5 Food Carts of the Year.

The secret is in the recado rojo, a spice rub that’s easy enough to find in Belizean grocery stores for about 25 cents per ball, but not so easy to find in the States. When Tiffany ran out of the stockpile she brought back from her honeymoon, she figured out how to make it fresh. Made with hand-ground annatto seed, garlic, cumin, and other spices, Love Belizean’s recado rojo is what separates their chicken and rice from all the rest.

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By the way, a jar of that recado rojo is one of the rewards offered on Love Belizean’s Kickstarter page to help fund their brick-and-mortar. While Love Belizean may have hit an unexpected rough patch, Tiffany and Andy chose to see it as an opportunity for growth. Their Kickstarter runs until August 13th, so head over and show a little love of your own! As Tiffany says, “We’re kind of all family, the cart world out here. Everybody’s looking out for everybody.” Let’s prove them right.

Help fund Love Belizean’s new brick-and-mortar on Kickstarter!

Love Belizean - Portland, OR
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