Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Del Mar Gourmet Food Truck Festival

The crowds start to gather outside the food trucks at the Del Mar Races.

It's no secret that I enjoy a good meal from a gourmet food truck. I follow several on Twitter and Facebook and love trying new ones when I get the chance. So when I found out that there would be about 50 food trucks gathered at the Del Mar races this weekend, I obviously jumped at the opportunity.

Upon arrival at the festival, we were given a map of where each food truck was located, but that was pretty useless, since nothing was where the map said it was. Our plan of attack was to walk around and look at each of the menus then go back to the ones we thought looked good. After looking through the first 10-15 trucks we couldn't resist trying something.

First stop: The Green Truck and its Smoked Gouda grilled cheese with apple slices and prosciutto on a honey, fig bread.

Bryan showing off his Loco Moco dog.
First stop: The Green Truck, a San Diego truck (which also has trucks in L.A. and NYC) that serves local and organic food and also operates from a green truck. Order: Grilled Cheese with smoked gouda, apple slices and prosciutto on a honey, fig bread. This was a simple grilled cheese that packed a lot of flavor. The use of the smoked gouda was nice, but it was shredded and not sliced and not fully melted so it got a little messy to eat. Overall: I'd order it again, maybe with a side of their sweet potato fries or one of their salads. Other things ordered by friends in my group included a Loco Moco dog from Dogzilla, an Orange County truck specializing in not-so-ordinary hot dogs. The Loco Moco was an all beef frank topped with grilled onions, grilled spam, beef gravy and a fried egg. WOW! Another friend got a grilled cheese sandwich from a different truck, but it wasn't very good, so no need to mention more.

Second stop: Lime Truck. Adobo taco on the bottom, Ultimate Taco on the top.

Second stop: The Lime Truck, an Irvine truck that won a season of "The Great Food Truck Race" on the Food Network. The truck serves California cuisine with local, organic and sustainable food. Just as we were about to reach the window, a woman walked up to the truck with a certificate in hand announcing that the Lime Truck had been voted best fresh food truck at the festival. Looks like we picked a good one. Order: Ultimate Taco, Sweet and Spicy Taco, Adobo Taco and Roasted Corn (don't worry, it wasn't all for me). Clear winner to me was the Adobo Taco filled with pork belly, tomatillo pico de gallo, cilantro and sriracha. I probably could have eaten two or three more of these tacos, but the line was way too long to get back into.

After stuffing our bellys with food truck food we decided to head into the arena for some horse racing. Food must have been on my mind because it carried into my horse betting. Apparently putting my money on horses like Sweet Treat and Kettlecorn wasn't the best idea because I didn't win one race. I like hedging my bets with Food Trucks more than horses.

Workers inside the Waffles de Leige bake up tasty waffles.
The piece de resistance: dessert. Yum!

To finish off the day we went back to the festival area for some dessert. Two of my friends got make-your-own ice cream sandwiches from the Sweet Treats truck. They were super yummy, but didn't compare to the awesome waffle I got at the Waffles de Leige truck, an Orange County/LA County truck that serves, well, waffles. I got a fresh Leige waffle with a nutella spread and a scoop of toffee ice cream. HEAVEN! It's a good thing this truck isn't in San Diego because I would be there all the time.

To top the night off I went to see "Moonrise Kingdom," the newest film from Wes Anderson. It was an all-star cast and an endearing story marked with Anderson's quirky touches. The actor and actress that played the main characters were both newbies to the big screen, but did an excellent job. I haven't seen a lot of Anderson's movies, but am glad to have seen this one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summertime Jello shots

My love for Pinterest continues when I found a pin for a new way to present Jello shots. If you ever went to a party in college, chances are you've had a Jello shot before. They're usually served in the bottom of a small dixie cup where you have to use your finger to pry it out, usually resulting in a colored finger and a mangled chunk of Jello.

Some wonderful mind out there came up with the idea to use hollowed out lemons and limes to hold the Jello instead. The presentation is not only way more beautiful, but it is so much easier to actually eat the Jello shot. Instead of downing a mangled chunk of Jello, where, let's face it, most of it ends up staying stuck to the cup, it's as simple as eating a fruit slice akin to the days of getting orange slices after a hard-played tee ball game as a child.

Simple ingredient list:
10-12 medium size lemons or limes (will result in 40-48 "shots")
1 small box of flavored Jello
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold vodka

Slice each lemon (or lime) in half. To aid with the removal of the flesh, score around the outside of the fruit careful not to cut the skin. Using a spoon (I used a sugar spoon with more square edges, which was helpful) dig out the flesh of the fruit, again being careful not to tear a hole in the skin. Set aside the flesh that you accumulated to use in other cooking ventures (I love to use lemon in simple, summery pastas with just olive oil, lemon juice, a little garlic powder and some fresh vegis).

After all of the lemons/limes are hollowed, line them up in a large Tupperware container or baking sheet that will fit into the refrigerator. Now it's time to make the Jello. Simply boil a cup of water, then pour it over the packet of gelatin powder (I did this in a medium sized glass measuring cup with a spout to help with ease of pouring). Once the powder is dissolved, add a cup of cold vodka. Stir together then pour into fruit halves, careful not to tip them over. Place in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.

Once the Jello is set, using a sharp knife (it's helpful to spray with a little non-stick cooking spray) cut the fruit halves in half once more so they are bite-sized wedges.

The result: Hand-held, easy to eat slices of Jello shots perfect for any summer (or any season for that matter) party or picnic.

Notes: If you take these to an outdoor party or picnic, make sure to keep them cold in a cooler. Also, depending on what flavor Jello you make, think about getting a flavored vodka to accommodate (I used strawberry lemonade Jello and used citrus vodka). Enjoy, but remember, these tasty treats have a way of sneaking up on you, so have fun and be safe!