Our first book comes out Nov. 4, 2014.
Pre-Order: Food Truck Road Trip: A Cookbook

Ahhhhh! We got an advanced copy of our first book, Food Truck Road Trip: A Cookbook, from the publisher this week. It looks amazing and we could not be more proud of the way it turned out. Of course the first thing I did when I got it was to open it up and smell it. It smells amazing if you’re wondering. In it you’ll find stories and over 100 recipes from food trucks and mobile vendors across the country; like this amazing Braised Coconut Chipotle Pork Shoulder with Carrot Slaw from Fuki in San Francisco. Stay tuned for a giveaway and sample recipes for you try out! We were also just named one the Most Anticipated Cookbooks of Fall 2014 by Eater.

The book will be released November 4, 2014.
Pre-order on Amazon.

Skylite Snowballs | East Bay Food Truck

We admit it, we haven’t quite grown all the way up yet. Despite being somewhat responsible adults, our little crew still can’t resist a game of Mario Kart, an action-packed Marvel movie, or a good ol’ fashioned Nerf shootout. We’ve been noticing a similar theme while interviewing food truck owners lately. The spark for a lot of culinary careers has been lit by one central desire: to capture the taste of childhood.

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To Baltimore-bred Katie Baum, childhood tastes like a snowball. No, not the kind you toss at your unsuspecting sister on the walk to school, the kind you drizzle in syrup and top with marshmallow cream. “The whole concept of snowballs and using real ingredients hadn’t really been done,” recalls Kate. “I hadn’t seen it anywhere. I got excited about the idea of creating a truck and bringing that concept of natural snowballs.” Katie started up Skylite Snowballs, teamed up with flavor fanatic Marykate McGoldrick, and has been introducing the East Bay area to her childhood favorite ever since.

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“The whole concept of snowballs and using real ingredients hadn’t really been done.”

If you were anywhere else but Baltimore or New Orleans, you might call this a snowcone. You’d be close, but a Baltimore snowball has a style all its own. Here’s a breakdown:

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The ice: It all starts with the ice. “In Baltimore, the ice is a little bit coarser,” says Katie. “But I had a feeling people out here were going to want the ice finer, like a Hawaiian shave ice.” Enter the Snowie 3000. This futuristic sounding machine produces a snowy grade of ice somewhere between a Hawaiian shave ice and a snow cone. “I find with this consistency, the syrup absorbs nicely. It holds the flavor.”

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The syrup: Marykate is the mastermind behind the syrups. Each syrup she creates starts life as a whole ingredient. ”What’s in season is always inspiring to me,” she says. “Going to the Farmer’s Markets and seeing what’s just coming out and what tastes the best. And I just get inspired by everything around me, a certain flavor, something I might taste, and see if it would taste good in a syrup. I play around the kitchen.” Her syrups have been such a hit, Skylite Snowballs has started bottling them to sell for use in sodas or cocktails. (They’ve even created cocktail recipes for each one.)

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The marshmallow cream: The marshmallow cream is the hallmark of a true Baltimore snowball. Katie recommends a dollop of their rich, fluffy, homemade marshmallow cream on every flavor, especially fruit, “It’s kind of like a lemon meringue pie or a key lime pie when you put the marshmallow on.”

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We can verify that it’s pretty amazing with their blueberry syrup, but we liked it even better on the Four Barrel Coffee snowball. One of their most popular flavors, this snowball comes drizzled in a syrup made from local Four Barrel Coffee and finished off with dark chocolate.

There’s something about all-natural syrup, homemade marshmallow cream, and cold ice and that takes us right back to those idyllic, happy-go-lucky summers of old. Check them out and get back in touch with your inner kid.

Skylite Snowballs  - East Bay, CA
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Peaches’ | Los Angeles Food Truck

When Ryan Lamon first opened Peaches’ Smokehouse and Southern Kitchen, he experimented with incorporating the many influences of his culinary career into his barbecue. But then he hit upon a realization. “At the end of the day, one of the reasons Peaches’ is able to be different in Los Angeles is that we’re not doing fusion,” he says. Instead Ryan draws upon a childhood working the barbecue pit alongside his father in Georgia (hence his nickname “Peaches”) to offer the tangy, sweet, vinegar-spiked flavors of authentic Southern comfort food and barbecue.

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But don’t think he isn’t putting his own spin on things. Ryan works hard to keep his truck as chef-driven as possible. “By ‘chef-driven’ we mean our ingredients are from scratch,” he explains. “They’re selected based on quality, not necessarily price point. We’re using free-range and grass-fed meats. Our aiolis are made in-house. Our pickles are made in-house. We work tirelessly to source the best things we can get, to put out the best food we can.”

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Food such as their fried chicken sandwich. We don’t feel shy saying we’re fried chicken sandwich connoisseurs. We’ve eaten a shameful amount of fried chicken sandwiches, and that’s only a fraction of the amount we would eat if our bodies could withstand it. But it’s safe to say this is one of the best fried chicken sandwiches we’ve had. Ryan uses dark meat (which makes it super juicy), brines and marinates it in buttermilk for a day, fries it, and serves it with house aioli and house pickles on a sweet Portuguese bun. It’s simple, delicious, and perfect.

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“By ‘chef-driven’ we mean our ingredients are from scratch.”

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If beef is more your thing, we also had the Southern Patty Melt: house pimiento cheese on country white bread with a grass-fed beef patty, serrano peppers, and seared onions. Each dish out of Peaches’ boasts the same loving attention to detail. Every meat served in Ryan’s kitchen has spent time in his smokehouse. “We use solely white oak from California. It’s not a strong hickory-style smoke,” says Ryan. “It’s nice. It’s sweet. More of a seasoning than an overwhelming flavor.”

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“We work tirelessly to source the best things we can get, to put out the best food we can.”

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Peaches’ down home yet high quality approach has been successful enough to launch Poppy+Rose, a made-from-scratch diner. But he’s not letting go of the food truck lifestyle anytime soon. “The food truck scene in L.A. has given us a definite sense of community. It took awhile to grow into it, but at this point there are several trucks we can honestly say are friends. As a community we help each other out, give each other opportunities, and just work as a team to further the reputation of food trucks throughout Southern California.”

Peaches’ Truck - Los Angeles, CA
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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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