Our nationwide road trip recipe cookbook will be out late 2014.
Winner, Saveur's Best Culinary Travel Blog.

Atlanta+Charlotte | The Road Trip

We’re on a cross-country road trip to take pics for our upcoming cookbook!

Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina were both one-hit wonders with a food cart apiece. We got ambitious and crammed three cities, two carts, and ten hours of driving in one day. We were in Atlanta just long enough to sleep and meet Brett and Terrell at his Mix’D UP kitchen. Whatever experiences were lacking in our Atlanta visit, Brett more than made up for with his rebel chef/rockstar stories of food truck police chases and general mayhem in his pursuit of making Atlanta a more food truck-friendly city. Brett knows how to entertain as skillfully as he knows how to make an incredible burger, like his Lamb Burger with fresh made Tatziki

After saying goodbye to Brett we hit the road for Charlotte, NC where we met Brian at his Herban Legend food truck. As he served us a phenomenal pork belly and pineapple adobo and a hearty black bean burger, he talked about his own struggles dealing with a city still warming to the idea of food trucks. Brian’s been instrumental in starting up events such as Food Truck Friday in the hopes of highlighting the positive economic impact and these mobile kitchens bring to the community.

Other highlights:

  • On the way to Atlanta we decided to stop for some true Southern fried chicken. Martin’s Restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama was about as Deep South as it got. It’s the type of restaurant families would have Sunday dinner in every week for thirty years. And judging by the curious looks we attracted, they don’t get a whole lot of out-of-towners. Taking pics with our phones probably didn’t help. (I was dying to hear someone’s drawl, “You ain’t from around here are you?” But, alas, that dream will have to go unrealized.) The fried chicken was unbelievable. Piping hot, crunchy, and well-seasoned. It came with heaps of Southern-style sides: biscuits, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, creamed corn, etc. It was perfect.
  • Herban Legend was parked next to a dog bar celebrating Mardi Growl (harhar). We’ve never seen so many of the canine species gathered in one space, from 250 lb mastiffs to tiny little terriers. Dog watching and locally-brewed draft beers go surprisingly well together.

We’re not done with you yet, North Carolina! Next up: Raleigh/Durham


New Orleans | The Road Trip

We’re on a cross-country road trip to take pics for our upcoming cookbook!

New Orleans … I don’t even know where to start. If Austin was the city of hospitality, New Orleans was the city of decadence. Sights, sounds, tastes; our senses were constantly assaulted, and we loved every minute of it. Everything in New Orleans, from rundown abandoned buildings to downtown skyscrapers, is heartbreakingly beautiful and saturated with French-Creole culture. We basically spent two days pointing, exclaiming, and declaring we’d never leave.

While New Orleans had been enjoying an early spring of 70 degree weather, the cold seems to be stalking us. Poor Phil and Kim could barely press their camera shutters with their frozen fingers. Luckily, Rachel and Benoit from La Cocinita were on hand with piping hot comfort food inspired by Benoit’s Venezuelan childhood. Jason took his turn warming us up with gourmet grilled cheeses from Frencheeze. (He also put us to shame by strutting around in a T-shirt, totally unaffected by the cold.) Danielle from NOLA Girl shared her Creole take on Asian cuisine. (Crawfish + fried rice? Boudin sausage + pot stickers? Yes, please!) Michelle proved it’s never too cold to enjoy a fruit-filled frozen pop from her adorable Meltdown truck. And Rachel and Jarrett Eymard of Rue Chow sent us off stuffed with pork loin sandwiches and Salted Caramel Banana Cream Pie. 

Here’s a few of our favorite moments from the Big Easy:

  • Parades - So I guess Mardi Gras is a big deal in New Orleans? Just kidding, we knew it’d be a huge deal, but we were also resigned to missing it by a week. Nope! New Orleans does not mess around when it comes to Fat Tuesday. For the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, huge elaborate floats make their way up and down packed streets, throwing beads, cups, frisbees, and schwag to the crowd. Phil and Kim are expert bead-catchers, by the way.
  • Café du Monde - We didn’t JUST stick to Mardi Gras festivities. We had to take in a little culinary history too. Café du Monde is a fixture in the French Quarter. Serving beignets and café au lait since 1862, it’s a foodie landmark. Those beignets were like golden, sugary pillows of heaven. (Phil rocks a Café du Monde hat.)
  • Crawfish Étouffée - Crawfish étouffée was one of our must-have dishes, and we were told Bon Ton was the place to go. We weren’t prepared to walk into a fine dining establishment full of ladies in cocktail dresses and men in suits and ties. They took us in stride despite the fact we were dripping in beads and Phil was bleeding from a parade incident. I knew the crawfish étouffée was good the moment I heard Phil’s whispered profanity.

Two days gave us just the barest glimpse of New Orleans, but we saw enough to vow to come back. A huge thank you to the food truck owners for taking the time to meet with us and letting us warm our hands by their hot stoves. Coming up: Georgia and North Carolina!

Austin | The Road Trip

We’re on a cross-country road trip to take pics for our upcoming cookbook!

Austin! I don’t know if everything is bigger in Texas, but I can say with certainty their sense of hospitality is gigantic. Everyone bent over backwards to make us feel welcome. Eric of the Peached Tortilla brought out a beautiful brisket for a look at the preparation that goes into his phenomenal fusion tacos. Ben of Guac N’ Roll showed off his mohawk-bedecked truck and fed us huge portions of vegetarian fare that perfectly matched his exciting, in-your-face, playful personality (“No batches here, bitches!”). Dennis and his family at Fishey Bizness blew us away with a gorgeous setup worthy of their delicate, golden fried oyster tacos. And Gabe and Sao of Love Balls cooked up some delectable Japanese street food and made sure we weren’t all work and no play (thanks for the fishbowl-sized beer/margarita!).

Some quick highlights of our visit to this quirky Texan city:

  • At the recommendation of fellow food blogger Mike Sutter of Fed Man Walking, our very first meal was at Contigo. Outdoor seating and string lights in a beautiful space. Pretty sure we ate every animal there is. Dinner standouts: ox tongue sliders, face bacon (exactly what you think it is), smoky grilled kale, roasted golden beets, and rabbit and dumplings.
  • There’s a bridge in Austin under which reside millions of bats that all come swarming out at dusk. It’s one of the largest urban bat populations in the country. Turns out Phil is terrified of bats.
  • The photo shoot for Love Balls was easily at the most memorable location of the day. Situated behind the eclectic Spider House Cafe, everything about it screamed eccentric and playful. After playing Dr. Mario and other vintage video games with Gabe and Sao we headed across the street to I Luv Video, a mecca for cinephiles. Get this: free beer on Tuesdays!!
  • Speaking of cinephiles, we spotted Jason Schwartzman filming a movie. And by “spotted” I mean one of our favorite actors of all times passed within feet of us and made eye contact. A frantic discussion was held before it became clear we were too shy to ask for a photo op.
  • “Everytime I think about eating at Franklin’s BBQ, I cry.” Direct quote from Phil months before setting foot in Austin. So of course we’d get up at 7 a.m. to ensure our spot in line (FIRST!). The three-hour wait in 40 degree weather was well worth the tender and juicy brisket, ribs, and sausages we wolfed down. This time we weren’t the least bit shy about asking Aaron Franklin to autograph our Lucky Peach magazine (although Phil was in a starstruck daze).

But in all honesty, the best part of Austin was spending time with the wonderful contributors to the Behind the Food Carts cookbook. Austin was the perfect city to kick off our road trip. Next stop: New Orleans!

 

The Road Trip | Behind the Food Carts Cookbook

It’s time! Can’t believe it’s finally here. We’re heading off tomorrow to start our big all-American road trip to shoot pics for our upcoming food carts cookbook. We wanted to keep to what we’ve been doing on our blog and showcase all the carts and their own recipes that will be in the book as authentically as possible. That means taking pics and visiting every single food cart and owner.

On this road trip, we’ll be visiting 34 carts and trucks in 8 different cities from 2/24-3/12. Here’s our itinerary:

image

Austin, TX
Tue 2/25: The Peached Tortilla, Guac n’ Roll

New Orleans, LA
Thu 2/27: La Cocinita, Frencheeze, NOLA Girl
Fri 2/28: Meltdown, Rue Chow

Atlanta, GA
Sat 3/1: Mix’D UP

Charlotte, NC
Sat 3/1: Herban Legend

Raleigh/Durham, NC
Sun 3/2: Barone Meatball, American Meltdown, CJ’s, Porcjetta, Café Prost, Deli-icious
Mon 3/3: Pie Pushers

Washington, D.C.
Wed 3/5: El Fuego, Hula Girl

Philadelphia, PA
Thu 3/6: Hubbub Coffee, Lil’ Pop Shop, The Tot Cart, Poi Dog
Fri 3/7: Kami, Taco Mondo

New York, NY
Sat 3/8: Lumpia Shack, Big D’s Grub, Parantha Alley
Sun 3/9: La Bella Torte, The Treats Truck
Mon 3/10: Phil’s Steaks, Mayhem and Stout, The Cinnamon Snail

After New York, we will be flying back to Portland, OR where this blog started for us and visiting the last 8 carts that will be in our book.

A big thanks to all our Kickstarter backers who helped us fund this road trip so that we can finish our book. We’re so thankful for this opportunity and want to continue to do the best we can do to show everyone what this food truck community is all about!

We’ll be posting updates along the way right here on our blog.
You can also follow us even closer through, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Baby’s Badass Burgers | Los Angeles Food Truck

They say visual appeal plays a large part in how we perceive the taste of food. Baby’s Badass Burgers, with their bevy of Burger Babes, has visual appeal pretty much locked down. But we think their juicy, gourmet burgers are strong enough on their own to hog the spotlight all to themselves.

image

imageSamantha, Erica, and Lyla

Co-owner Erica Cohen has been obsessed with cheeseburgers ever since she was a kid. “I’ve always loved them,” she claims. “And I’ve always kind of been on a quest for the quintessential perfect burger.” To that end, she paired her 12 years of restaurant experience with event planner Lori Barbera and started up Baby’s Badass Burgers: a food truck that could best be described as “trucker glam.”

imageOriginal Beauty Sliders - Swiss Cheese, Sautéed Mushrooms

imageThe She’s Smokin! - BBQ Sauce, Smoked Cheddar, Bacon

Hot pink, decked out with retro pinups, and staffed with magazine-level beauties, Baby’s Badass Burgers isn’t just a food truck, it’s an experience. “We kind of bring the food truck, which is typically not very glamorous, to another level. It’s why we excel in the catering business and do so many private events. We offer something that’s unlike any other food truck.” It’s an experience that has drawn enough attention and crowds (among which a celebrity or two can often be spotted) to spark a franchise. Baby’s Badass Burger trucks are cropping up as far as Florida.

But Erica doesn’t want you to think they’re just another pretty face. “It’s not just about beautiful girls serving you, it’s also about backing it up,” she says of her burgers. “We use King’s Hawaiian bread, which is amazing. The sweetness is a really good compliment to our juicy, savory meat. We use our Baby Spice, which has a great kick to it. And we add our Baby’s Special Sauce; it’s like Thousand Island dressing on crack. It’s addictive, people love it. All of those things combined, and you have a pretty killer burger.“

imageThe All American Girl - Baby’s Special Sauce, Smoked Cheddar

image

Lori and Erica recommend the Original Beauty for first timers. With Swiss, onions, mushrooms, and their Baby’s Special Sauce, it’s the answer to Erica’s childhood quest for the perfect burger. Or, if you’re feeling particularly decadent, try the Cougar with aged beef, St. Andres cheese and black truffles, it’ll definitely have your tastebuds feeling pampered.

Baby’s Badass Burgers - Los Angeles, CA
Website | Twitter | Facebook