LA Food Truck Critic

Tasting My Way Through LA's Food Scene, One Truck at a Time

Best Party Ever! March 5, 2013

Filed under: Dessert,Food Trucks — Liz Temkin @ 4:02 pm
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Truck-LizLast Sunday, Feb. 24, I had a very special party.  Several elements made it special – I was surrounded by people that care about me and support me, it was an absolutely gorgeous sunny southern California day and just as important, the BSweet Mobile Truck catered.  I got to choose the menu and went with three different kinds of bread pudding – Dutch Apple, Chocolate Banana and Cookies & Cream.  Everyone could pick one of the bread puddings and choose either a Salted Caramel Cookie (which actually looked more like a huge brownie) or a Fudgie Brownie.  The serving sizes were very generous.  That’s the way Barb & Kurt roll.

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They made the most adorable stickers for my party and people put them on their shirts or wherever, and when they were ready to order, they gave the sticker to Barb & Kurt.

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If you have not tasted any of their products, you are really missing out on amazing desserts.  And, they are two of the nicest people I’ve met since I started blogging about gourmet food trucks.

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Barb also does great savory foods as well and I was lucky enough to have her cater for me at my previous company.  Thank you to all who came.  You can follow Barb on her catering Facebook or Twitter or her mobile truck Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

P.S.  I had to include this random shot of the shoes I was wearing because they were diva fabulous!shoe

 

2011-2012 Biennial Review January 1, 2013

2011This is my first ever biennial review, since I didn’t do an annual review for 2011 or 2012.  I looked back at the trucks that I blogged about and realized so many of them are no longer in business.  Trucks like the popular The Grilled Cheese Truck, Buttermilk Truck and Me So Hungry are still rolling along but so many have disappeared such as Lardon (damn, I miss your baco taco), Takosher, Papas Tapas, Da Munch Box, Great Balls on Tires and many more. Even food truck lots like Century and Culver City have disappeared and new ones have arisen.  My favorite food truck event is still First Friday in Westchester since it’s literally up the street from me AND has a newly improved organizer!

The gourmet food truck industry is not going away but if you think you’re going to make a quick easy buck, you are very mistaken. This is a tough business and you have to be smart in so many ways; you have to find the right niche, be a good marketer and cultivate relationships.  Also, from what I’ve seen, the successful food trucks seem to have a thriving catering business.  The retail industry depends largely on the holiday season to float them the rest of the year; the same seems to be true for food trucks and catering.

2012-There are some new trucks that are very deserving of my attention, such as Roll’n Lobster (you cannot go wrong when you’re serving fresh fried Ipswich clams!) and Pineapple Express, as well as some that have been around for awhile that I’ve never reviewed, such as Rosa’s Bella Cucina (real Italian food from a real Italian).

Some cities and communities continue to try and find ways to limit the gourmet food trucks from parking and serving in certain areas. I still maintain that there is plenty of business for the brick and mortar eateries, as well as the gourmet food trucks.  I will continue to speak out and support the endeavors of the gourmet food truck industry business owners.

This blog started in November 2010 when I was unemployed.  I started working full-time in May 2011 and I wasn’t able to spend as much time on my blog but I still enjoy the camaraderie of a food truck event.  I’ve met some great people and sampled great foods. Here’s to many more gourmet food truck adventures in 2013!

 

WTF? August 12, 2012

Filed under: Food Trucks — Liz Temkin @ 7:31 am
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Normally, I use this blog to spotlight a new gourmet food truck or a truck with an interesting twist.  However, every once in a while, something gets struck in my craw and I need to vent about it.  I became a gourmet food truck devotee about 18 months ago.  I haven’t been shy about sharing my passion for this industry and have been a strong proponent for fair business practices for them, as well as speaking out against politicians who bash/ban/overregulate the industry to advance their personal agendas.  So, what’s got me so fired up at the moment?

I work for a company in Century City and every Tuesday and Wednesday, we have a food truck come to our building.  Just one truck.  They have exclusive access to all of the tenants in our 2 buildings, as well as surrounding buildings.  They easily write 60-100 tickets depending on how fast they can serve people, in a 2 hour span.  Not a bad gig.

In an effort to provide a wide variety, I offered my quasi-consulting services to the guy in my office that books the trucks.  He was thrilled, newer trucks got an opportunity they wouldn’t have had access to and everyone was happy … until this past week.  On Tuesday, the truck showed up an hour late; no call, just showed up an hour late and 1 less staff person.  Consequently, we had long lines & 45-60 minute wait times.  For an hourly worker, that’s their entire lunch period.  In addition, we also booked a frozen dessert truck, who unfortunately had truck issues and wasn’t able to make it.  I had gone to bat for this truck to get them booked due to a competitor bashing them in an email to the booker in our company.  Free Tip:  If you’re going to talk badly about someone, do not put it in an email.  You never know where that email is going to end up.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, on Wednesday, a different truck just plain didn’t show up.  When I contacted them, they said their truck was down for repairs & they had no record of the commitment for lunch.  I forwarded the confirmation email to them.  Several hours went by before they called the booker in our office to apologize but the damage was already done.  This was a truck that I recommended and it was going to be their first time here.  Guess what?  You have ONE CHANCE to make a first impression.

The fallout from this was not pretty.  Tenants complained to the booker (you & I know it wasn’t his fault but the buck stopped at his desk) and the booker is completely turned off (at least for the time being) to booking new trucks.  My hope is that in time, and with no more incidents of no-shows, perhaps I’ll be able to get new trucks invited.

If the food trucks want to be taken seriously, they have to take their business and their customers seriously.  Truck problems are normal & understandable; not calling is not.  If you are booked somewhere and you screw up, drop everything and try to make it right.  Think about the 60-100 people that were expecting to get lunch from you.  I talked to one woman on Tuesday and it was her very first food truck experience.  Needless to say, she was underwhelmed.  I told her most trucks were not like this but first impressions can make lasting impressions.  One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

 

Soup’s On! January 15, 2012

Looks like 2012 is starting off with a pop-up truck!  Frysmith is known for elevating fries to a whole ‘nutha level by including meats, cheese, veggies, etc.  They offer the standard chili and cheese (with a vegan twist), as well as the more exotic sweet potato fries topped with free-range chicken in a tomatillo-tamarind sauce with cheese and cashews.

They are converting their truck to a soup truck for one week only (locations on their website).  We’re not talking Campbell’s soup here people!  We’re talking hearty meal-type soups like Short Rib Soup with Israeli couscous & roasted cauliflower, Seafood Chowder with Curry and Sauternes or Butternut Soup with apples, chipotle & pumpkin seeds.  Omg, my mouth is watering already!  As you can see from their schedule next week, they are primarily outside of the West L.A. area (bah, humbug!) but you Valley folks are in luck!

I’m hoping this soup pop-up truck is a huge success and they bring it back often.  I’m also hoping other trucks take the hint and come up with their own pop-up truck.  C’mon gourmet food truck owners, let’s think outside of the box for 2012!  You can follow Frysmith/Soupsmith on Facebook or Twitter.  Oh, and one more thing, you couldn’t ask for better soup-eating weather this week – dig in!

 

Lobsticle Anyone? October 23, 2011

About a month ago, I headed over to a fairly new food truck lot in El Segundo (you can follow them on Twitter ElSegundoDDaGG) and ate at SlapFish truck.  I talked to one of the owners, Chef Andrew Gruel, and he told me that he was primarily an Orange County truck.  He’s got a cafe in Huntington Beach, hence, he’s able to get very good quality seafood and keep his costs down on the truck.  I also found out that Andrew attended one of the finest culinary schools in the country,  Johnson & Wales (shout out to my tiny little hometown of Providence, Rhode Island!).  Yet another reason for me to like Andrew and his truck.

More importantly, though, is the food that Andrew serves up.  He only uses sustainable seafood and if you don’t know that what means, you can read up by clicking here.  One of his more cheeky menu items is the title of this post – a lobsticle.  It’s a portable piece of lobster, more specifically a half of a pan-grilled lobster tail topped with chipotle aioli, vinaigrette and fresh chives, served on a skewer.  It’s served on top of their Virgin Slaw, which has just the right amount of spice to it, and pickled vegetables.

They also serve up fresh local oysters from Carlsbad, Hake and sea bream, as well as constantly offering mouth-watering specials such as Smoked Salmon on brioche topped with an egg or Shrimp & Lobster quesadilla.

Here’s the best news of all – Andrew now has a truck just for Los Angeles peeps!  So keep your eyes out for his truck and follow him on Twitter to find out where they’ll be next.  Fresh, sustainable seafood at an extremely reasonable price?  I’m in!

 

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for … Peanut Butter! August 13, 2011

There’s a new truck out on the streets, The Pnut Butter Bar Truck, and it really takes me back to my childhood.  The owner,  Kharyn, has completely elevated the simple pb&j and taken it to a new level, and then some.  Yes, you can get a simple pb&j (grape, strawberry, boisenberry, blueberry and apricot) but you should really try a grilled peanut butter, Nutella and marshmallow fluff sandwich (Choconut on a Cloud).  Or perhaps you’d like an all-beef hot dog with applewood-smoked bacon, grilled onions and their peanut butter sweet chili mustard (Walking the Pig).  I tasted the mustard and it had a hint of peanut butter with a nice hit of spicy chili that lingered on the back of my tongue.

For me, their proudest moment comes in the form of something that is distantly related to a beignet.  It’s their Pnut Butter Puffs – pb&j or pb&Nutella deep-fried, topped with a drizzle of Hershey’s chocolate, whipped cream and powdered sugar.  I was lucky enough to get a free order by showing up after Kharyn had tweeted her current location.  I brought my son back and bought him an order because after I told him about dessert, he said, “that sounds really good”!

As more and more trucks make their way onto the streets, it’ll become increasingly important to set themselves apart from the herd.  There are lots of burger trucks, sandwich trucks, etc.  I predict this truck will be a big hit because it taps into a childhood food that brings back many fond memories.  This is a truck that the whole family will enjoy.  I am seriously thinking I may need to get this truck for my next birthday celebration.  Anyone for a Choconut Monkey?  Follow this truck on Twitter.

 

Here a Lot, There a Lot, Everywhere there’s a Food Truck Lot! July 4, 2011

The average person may not have noticed but there’s been a huge uptick in organized food truck lots.  Since it’s my job to keep you informed, let me tell you what I know.  In my mind, a successful food truck lot is one where you’ve got ample parking, a variety of cuisines and a lack of geographical competition.

The most recent food truck lot is in Culver City. The Culver City Food Truck Fest meets on the last Friday of each month at the Culver City High School.  The first one kicked off June 24th from 5-9 in the parking lot.  Normally, truck lots are free; this one had a suggested $2 donation, which went to Culver City High School, as well as the trucks donating 10% of their profits.  There were tables and chairs set out, so you could hang out with friends and family.  Also, since this event was organized by Go Country 105 Chuck Wagon, there was alot of good music and tickets were being handed out to a select few to the upcoming LeAnn Rimes concert.  There were 9 different trucks, covering a range of cuisines, including Da Munch Box (NY knish, pastrami & beef dogs), Auntie’s Fry Bread (Native American fry bread with savory or sweet toppings) and of course, Go Country 105 Chuck Wagon (BBQ beef, pulled pork & fried pickles).  Check out the next event on Friday, July 29th; some of the same trucks and some new ones!

The original First Friday started down on Abbot Kinney in Venice.  It was started by the local merchants to bring awareness to the street.  Unfortunately, it became so successful that the food trucks descended and before you knew it, there were over 50 trucks lining the street.  The local merchants got together and purchased a permit banning the trucks.  Enter Westchester!  The local merchants on 87th Street in Westchester (aka Business Triangle) saw a golden opportunity and grabbed it. 

 The event is hosted and organized by No Reservations Catering/Food Truck (hot wrap sandwiches), in conjunction with the Westchester merchant group.  It’s been running for about 5-6 months now and they typically have about 8-9 trucks on the first Friday of the month.  The merchants got together for First Friday in July and bought a city permit to close the street.  They also added a jazz band, a total of 13 trucks, and literally lined the street with tables and chairs, as well as 4th of July decorations.  The street is adjacent to a large free parking lot.  Since it was quite warm this past Friday, it looked like Tango Mango (Italian Ice) would be selling out pretty quickly!  Again, there were a variety of cuisines represented, including the ever popular The Grilled Cheese Truck (grilled cheese sandwiches, tater tots & tomato soup), as well as The Dumpling Station (dumplings & chocolate banana wontons).  The next first Friday is Friday, August 5th from 4-9pm.

There’s a new lot starting next Friday in Westwood, July 8th from 5-9pm; located at Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822 Wilshire Blvd.  It’s being organized by Da Munch Box and they may have it every Friday.  It’s called Munchin After Dark and their first line-up includes10 trucks so far, including Papas Tapas (Spanish), Sweet E’s Bake Shop (cupcakes & cake pops) and Frysmith (fries with meat & extras).  Since it hasn’t happened yet, I can’t say too much more about it but given that it’s at a church, I would think the parking is ample.  If they’re going to do it every week, I’m not sure how much business they’ll get on Friday the 15th, since that’s the beginning of the dreaded Carmageddon.

Finally, a word about a food truck lot that is no longer around.  Every Tuesday night, you could go to the Best Buy in Hawthorne (147th St) and find 6-7 trucks, tables and chairs, and plenty of free parking, organized by The Truck Chaser.  For some reason, the city of Hawthorne brought down the hammer and shut it down.  I don’t understand how that works, since they were on Best Buy’s property and if Best Buy didn’t have a problem with it, then why should the city of Hawthorne.  Several food truck owners tried to approach the City Council and were not even allowed to be heard!  I think that’s very short-sighted of the city, as well as a show of  bad manners.  A number of us that followed the event on Twitter have expressed our discontent.  Personally, the city of Hawthorne can forget about getting my consumer dollars and I know I’m not alone.  Food trucks are not a fad and they’re not going away anytime soon.  If anything, there’s been an ever-growing proliferation of trucks, as well as their integration into just about every festival or event.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of food truck lots.  Since I’m a Westchester resident, I focused on a few that are closer to me.  The list of food truck lots just keeps on growing – happy eating!

 

 
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