Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Last month, I set up a tasting with the Frysmith Food Truck for my dining group and we got to sample 6 items from their menu. Before we get into the food itself, let's talk a little about the family and it truly is a family behind Frysmith. Frysmith is the brain child of Eric Cho, a native Angeleno who having exposed his palate to the diverse ethnic dining scene, used to dream up of how those flavors could be translated as french fry toppings; hence, the birth of Frysmith.

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Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Along with what's currently on the menu, he'll also dream up specials to ensure that there's always variety for Frysmith customers. With his wife, Brooke, who came aboard to handle the business side of things, to bake delectable cookies as well being the head driver and his father, Ed, who maintains the truck and ensures that they never run out of canola oil, this family really knows how to get things done in the fry world.

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

One thing that I also like to point out about this truck is while they do sell canned sodas, they also have bottled craft sodas available. I'm not sure if these sodas change every week but for our tasting event, I enjoyed sips from both a Squamsco Sarsaparilla and an Original China Cola made with Chinese Herbs. I tend to think that bottled soda actually tastes better than the canned version and smaller distributors usually have more interesting flavored sodas anyway.

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Ok, now let's start with our tasting. First off, we had the Chili Cheese, which is regular fries topped with Angus all-beef chili made with beer and chocolate along with cheddar cheese and onion. At my first bite, I already knew this was a good start. No, it was a great start. This is the first time I've had beer and chocolate chili and the flavors were amazing. I could easily eat that chili in a bowl by itself and pronounce myself a very happy woman.

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Our next sample were off menu Poutine fries, which were basically fries topped with Ballard family farms cheese curds and smothered in a porcini gravy. That gravy was rich and I could really taste those mushrooms. Even though this was just the second dish we tried, it was already my favorite. The combination of the semi-soft curds, the crispy fries and that gravy was a perfect example of fry heaven.

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Third up were the Rajas, which were fries topped with fire-roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions, marinated Angus skirt steak and Jack cheese. I enjoyed the smokiness of the poblano chilies and how the steak had a nice little char to the meat's surface.

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

What came our way next was their Kimchi fries with Kurobuta pork belly, onions and cheddar. Cheese and kimchi would seem an odd coupling, but it works and when you add the pork belly, you have a triad of spicy, cheesy, meaty goodness.

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Only two more french fry creations left and the next item was the second off menu item of our tasting. The fries came with calamari, burrata, shredded basil (I think) topped with a ponzu dressing. I think our group was the first ever to try this dish. Unfortunately, this wasn't a hit for me. I did like the tartness of the ponzu dressing, but the burrata didn't really melt and part of the joy of cheese and fries is having the cheese be at least a little gooey. As for the calamari with the long tentacles, I felt like I was eating seafood spaghetti. I think calamari rings may have been a better option. Regardless, while I liked the components separately, I didn't care much for them together.

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Last, but not least, was the SweetPo, which was free-range chicken in tomatillo-tamarind sauce over sweet potato fries and topped with mixed nuts. I was actually already getting full by this point, so I just had a little of the SweetPo. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling this dish either. The sweetness of the potatoes pairing with the slightly tart/sour tomatillo-tamarind sauce was a disconnect for me. It didn't quite jive; however, I'd like to replace the sweet potato fries with just regular fries and I have feeling that I'd like it much better.

Tasting with Frysmith Food Truck

Our tasting included dessert, so everyone got 3 different cookies baked by Brooke. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos but they were: Green Tea Cranberry (green tea cookies with cranberries and white chocolate chunks, Oatmeal Cranberry (dark chocolate, cranberries and pecan) and Apricot Curry (apricots, almonds, white chocolate and a touch of curry). My favorite were the Apricot Curry cookies. The curry just added a different flavor nuance and ensured that the white chocolate wouldn't be too sweet. I wish I had a cookie jar full of them right now, but then, they probably wouldn't last long.

Overall, this was a great sampling of menu items from the Frysmith Food Truck. I really loved the crispy fries. Soggy fries are a no-no for me. The various toppings were delicious and while a couple of them wouldn't be considered faves of mine, they were at least interesting and unique. So the next time you see the Frysmith Truck parked close to you, be sure to check them out for some of the best gourmet fries in LA.

Frysmith Website
Follow Frysmith on Twitter
Follow Frysmith on Facebook


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Upcoming Food Events: Food GPS Walking Tour, Food Trucks & The Taste of Beverly Hills

LA Street Food's Summer Tasting Event
July 24, 2010 ~ Saturday ~ 4 PM (VIP) or 5 to 9 PM ~ $45 to $69

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Grilled Cheese Truck

Enjoy sampling signature bites from more than 60 vendors including hot gourmet food trucks, old school carts and stands, celeb chefs and street inspired dishes from LA’s best restaurants. Our open bars and beer gardens will keep you hydrated ‘n happy with cold suds, delicious cocktails, tequila tasting, juices and more. To top it off, you’ll rock out with their summer concert from two of LA’s hottest new bands, all on the grassy green field of the Rose Bowl for one affordable, all-inclusive ticket price benefiting St Vincent Meals on Wheels & Woolly School Gardens! Click Here to Get More Info and to Purchase Tickets.

Food GPS Culinary Walking Tour of Beverly Boulevard
July 25, 2010 ~ Sunday ~ Starts at 3 PM ~ $45

Last fall, Blogger, Josh Lurie of Food GPS brought you progressive dining tours of Santa Monica and Downtown. On the afternoon of Sunday, July 25, it's the continuation of the in-depth exploration of L.A.’s best eating neighborhoods as Food GPS spotlights four great restaurants located on (or just off) Beverly Boulevard. Eva, BLD, MILK and The Golden State are the destinations. Each chef-owner will introduce a plate, treat or drink, and it looks like there will be some great surprises in store. Participants will also be able to learn more about the neighborhood’s history and get to know other Los Angeles food lovers. The walking tour begins at Eva at 3 PM and costs $45 per person, including tax and tip. If you have any questions, please e-mail organizer and tour guide Joshua Lurie at joshua@foodgps.com. Click Here to Purchase Tickets.

Westside Food Fest to Benefit the Achievable Foundation
July 31, 2010 ~ Saturday ~ 12 - 4 PM ~ $5.00

Tasting with Mandoline Grill Food Truck

The Achievable Foundation (Achievable) is teaming up with 12 of LA’s best food truck vendors to provide an afternoon of great food and fun, while helping low-income children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. On Saturday, July 31, 2010, from 12–4 P.M., Achievable’s Westside Food Fest will roll onto the campus of Venice High School featuring local favorites Fishlips Sushi, India Jones, Munchie Machine, and Mandoline Grill, among others. Guests can also enjoy live music, a marketplace and resource fair, and valuable raffle prizes.

The purpose of the event is to promote community inclusion and raise money for low-income individuals with developmental disabilities. The Westside Food Fest will prominently feature individuals with developmental disabilities, including Scott Siegel, the lead singer of the headlining band, Arrest My Sister. 100% of gate receipts will directly benefit people with developmental disabilities through Achievable’s health and welfare, specialized adaptive equipment, emergency support, and camp sponsorship programs.

Admission to the event is $5. Advance purchase tickets are on sale at www.achievable.org, with tickets also available on the day of the event.

Food and Wine Presents The Taste of Beverly Hills
Thursday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010 ~ $125, $150 or 150

The Taste of the Beverly Hills is a four-day food, wine, and music extravaganza taking place in Beverly Hills (near the Beverly Hilton Hotel). Chefs from around LA—and the country—are coming together in celebration of what will hopefully become LA’s go-to food and wine festival. Wolfgang Puck, Michael Voltaggio, Jon and Vinny of Animal, Ludo Lefebvre, Walter Manzke, Ted Allen, Scott Conant, and many more, are confirmed to showcase at the event. KCRW’s Jason Bentley is also curating the music lineup and there are some VERY exciting bands in the works (TBD). “Good Food” Host Evan Kleiman is also participating (keep an eye out for her annual pie contest). Chef demos, wine tastings, and LG Electronics’ “Taste of Something Better” amateur chef competition happening LIVE, are just a few of the many exciting events taking place over the weekend.

The Taste of Beverly Hills Website

Follow The Taste of Beverly Hills on Twitter

Follow The Taste of Beverly Hills on Facebook

Click Here to Purchase Tickets

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Fabulous Off-Menu Thai Burger and More at Jitlada

Southern Thai Dishes at Jitlada

Last May, I read about the off-menu Thai burger from Jitlada in an article by Jonathan Gold. As soon as I finished, I knew that I had to have that burger. It took a couple of months for it to happen, but wow, was it worth it and thanks so much to Jazz, owner of Jitlada, for making my burger wish come true. As mentioned, this burger is not only off-menu, but also involves a lot of preparation on Jazz's part.

First, don't come into Jitlada, ask for this burger and expect to get it that same night. Jazz uses ingredients that may not be available to whip up an impromptu burger. Second, if you really want to try this burger, you'll have to ask for it ahead of time and even then, because of the work involved, Jazz may say Yes or No to your request, depending on her availability. Again, because of the work involved, she may be more inclined to say "Yes" to a regular customer. These are just a few things to keep in mind. Now let's get to the good stuff, the Thai Burger itself.

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Dinner at Jitlada

This burger usually comes with two patties, like the double-double at In-N-Out, but so much better. Since I had plans for our group to order other items from Jitlada's menu, Jazz kindly dressed up one burger for each person. That one burger was on crunchy lettuce leaves with a slice of tomato, red onions, Thai basil and topped with a sweet sauce. I wrapped the whole thing up in my lettuce, took a bite and was in burger heaven. That burger was definitely spicy, but the sauce helped lessen the impact a bit. The tomato's acidity and the green herbiness of the Thai basil also added wonderful nuances of flavor. I also enjoyed the slight crunch of the burger, which Jonathan Gold referred to in his article.

Overall, I can see why this burger got such kudos. It's definitely worth having over and over again. I almost wish we went all out and enjoyed a full burger, instead of this half portion. All I know is that I hope there will be a chance in the near future that Jazz will agree to a repeat performance and if so, I'll be there, ready for some eating action.

Dinner at Jitlada

While still glowing in the afterglow of that amazing burger, the rest of our dishes started to arrive, one by one. First, there was the Crispy Morning Glory Salad, made up of deep-fried Chinese watercress with shrimp and a house dressing. If you've never had this dish, make sure you order it at your next visit. I absolutely love the light crispiness of the watercress and it's definitely a different way to enjoy this slightly peppery green.

Dinner at Jitlada

Our next dish was an Off-Menu Rice Salad. Now there is a rice salad on the menu, but the particular rice salad at our meal was Jazz's variation of the one on the menu. I had the original rice menu earlier in the year and based on my memory, I think this newer rice salad had more of a curry taste to it? I could be wrong, but nevertheless, it was delicious, so no complaints.

Dinner at Jitlada

As we all know, Jitlada is known for their spicy foods, but now, they also have a spicy smoothie on the menu, too. This smoothie is made up of mango, pineapple and other unknown ingredients that give this drink its heat. Our table actually shared 4 of these smoothies between 8 of us and some couldn't even finish their portion after a couple of sips. Others were drinking water or taking bites of food to cool down their palate. When I drank it, I could taste chilies and then some.

Dinner at Jitlada

Up next was the Pork Crying Tiger, which was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate Show (the Hot and Spicy Edition) on Food Network. The pork itself isn't spicy, but the chili-lime sauce this dish comes in will give you the hit of heat you're looking for. I like how the meat has such a caramelization to its surface that some of the spots have a slightly blackened crust to them. Thsi dish actually reminds me of Filipino BBQ.

Dinner at Jitlada

Turmeric chicken drumsticks soon arrived and with it came sticky rice and a papaya salad. The chicken didn't have any batter and was fried within the inch of its life, which is how I like it personally. However, for some, the jerky-life texture of the chicken meat may not be as appealing. The only thing I would have liked is to taste more of the turmeric and the pepper. Those spices were just a little MIA for me.

Dinner at Jitlada

What came next was the spiciest dish of our entire meal, which was the Pumpkin Lamb. The lamb was cooked in a dried curry and with more of a squash than a pumpkin and oh my, it was a dish that lit up my mouth. I mistakenly took a sip of my spicy smoothie, which made things slightly worse. Thank goodness for the iced vegetables that soon hit our table. They helped put out the fire. I still went back for seconds, but this time ate it with bites of rice so that I could better enjoy this dish.

Dinner at Jitlada
Dinner at Jitlada

Our last two dishes were seafood items. What arrived first was the Krabee, deep fried catfish (bone-in) with dry chili sauce and fried sweet basil. Even with the chili oil and chili flakes, the fish wasn't very spicy, but fried fish and I always enjoy each other's company so it was still a good dish for me and I absolutely loved the fried sweet basil.

Dinner at Jitlada

Last, but not least, was the Kaeng Leuang Cha-Om Khai, an acacia leaf omelette and shrimp in a hot and sour curry. When I first saw this dish, I was a little confused. When I think of an omelette, I was thinking something more traditional. Instead, what we got was egg battered acacia leaves and shrimp in a bowl of hot and sour curry soup. After taking a few bites, I actually found myself really liking it. The acacia leaves had a slight bitterness to it that was offset by the egg and the sweetness of the shrimp while I really liked tang of the soup itself. It reminded me of a sour Filipino soup known as Sinigang.

Dinner at Jitlada

We were contemplating dessert, but decided to opt out. Then we were surprised by an Off-Menu Shaved Ice dessert made by Jazz's sister. I've had my share of shaved ice dessert, but this one was different. This is the first time I tasted rose. I'm not sure whether some kind of rose flavoring was added to the milk or if it was some kind of rose milk, but this dessert was both sweet and floral. Along with palm seeds and jackfruit, there were also water chestnuts encased in some kind of pink tapioca flour. It's a dessert that I'd love to have again.

Dinner at Jitlada
Dinner at Jitlada

Overall, this was a delicious meal that started off with the best burger, actually, the best thing I've eaten so far this year and ended with a dessert that took shaved ice desserts to another level. Simply, Jitlada is one of my favorite restaurants and with meals like this, it's easy to see why.

5233 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-9809
Jitlada Thai on Urbanspoon


Monday, July 12, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Filipino Food Love and Upcoming Events

CONTEST CLOSED: Congrats to Chris G and trixtersme who will be joining me for The Manila Machine Truck Tasting!

"Soup's On!" - Mami Soup Outing at Asian Noodles

Being a Filipino Blogger, I always try to support Filipino food efforts in Los Angeles, primarily through meals in Filipino restaurant hosted through my dining group, as a way to introduce people to what Filipino food is all about. Filipino food is still very much an untapped cuisine and is usually the most associated with just lumpia (egg rolls) and pansit (noodles). Those dishes are usually the ones that show up the most at potlucks or at Filipino parties, but our cuisine definitely goes beyond just lumpia. In fact, I did a posting a while back that I had hoped would open the reader's eyes to Filipino food. Click the link below to read that post.

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Filipino Food Beyond Lumpia

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Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24:  Filipino Food Beyond Lumpia

Below are some reviews of Filipino restaurants I've visited, which you may want to check out for yourself. You may notice mixed reviews of the various dishes at the individual restaurant posts. Growing up with my Mom's cooking, which I consider to be the best Filipino cooking around, I'm definitely very critical about the Filipino food I eat that isn't hers. The one exception is the wonderful Park's Finest BBQ, a Filipino-owned bbq catering company that makes the best bbq ever as far as I'm concerned.

Barrio Fiesta in Eagle Rock
Gerry's Grill in Cerritos
Magic Wok in Artesia
Pondahan in West Covina
The Park's Finest BBQ in Echo Park

Lunch at Pondahan

Unfortunately, my favorite Filipino restaurant closed, but you can read why Alejandro's did it for me here and here. Of course, there are Filipino restaurants that I have never visited or have visited, but just never blogged about. There will definitely be postings in the future as I visit or re-visit Filipino restaurants around town, so keep an eye out for them.

Interested in looking at Filipino Food Porn? Check out the links below.

Flickr Filipino Food Group
My Flickr Filipino Food Pics

Lunch at Magic Wok

Interested in cooking Filipino Food? Take a look at the Filipino Food blogs below.

Burnt Lumpia
Crispy Waffle
Kulinarya Cooking Club
Market Manila
One Filipino Dish a Week
Panlasang Pinoy
Pinoy Cook
Pinoy Food Blog
Skip to Malou
When Adobo Met Feijoada

Dinner at Alejandro's

Interested in Upcoming Filipino Food Events? Here are some to look into.

07/17 - Tasting with Manila Machine

07/23 - Filipino Food and Wine Pairing with Six Taste

07/31 - Tuesday Night Project's Annual Fundraiser: Please support one of LA's longest running public art series featuring Asian Americans performing everything from sketch comedy and poetry to singing and dancing. This is also the only opportunity in July to try out Filipino-owned Park's Finest BBQ!

09/13 - 18th Annual Festival of Arts & Culture, includes Filipino Food Stands

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24:  Filipino Food Beyond Lumpia


Hopefully, you've gotten a better idea of what Filipino food is about and on that note, I'd like to treat two of my readers to the Manila Machine Food Truck Tasting this Saturday, 07/17.

There are two ways to enter:

Mandatory 1: Leave a comment and tell me why you'd like to try out Filipino food. (Please leave your email so that I can contact you. Spell it out like abby at pleasurepalate dot com)

Optional 2: Win a tasting with @manilamachine via @pleasurepalate http://bit.ly/alF08H

Optional 3: Follow Pleasure Palate on Twitter

Optional 4: Join Pleasure Palate on Facebook

You can have up to 4 total entries each; however, please note that you have to comment back and let me know which of the actions you took, so that I can keep track of them. This is especially true for 2 through 4. If you don’t let me know which actions you took, then I won’t count them as entries.

Contest ends Thursday, July 15 at 11:59 AM, PST and two winners will be randomly chosen from all entries. Good Luck!


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

More Cheesy Goodness at the 2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

My first time attending the Grilled Cheese Invitational was in 2008, which you can read about here. It was definitely a fun time and I've been a regular goer ever since. Since my first visit, this event has grown in size and last April, I found myself with other avid grilled cheese sandwich lovers at the Los Angeles Center Studios for the 2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational.

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2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

At the Grilled Cheese Invitational, it's all about the spirit of competition as both amateur and professional cooks competed separately for grilled cheese sandwich greatness in 3 different categories.
  • The Missionary Position: Standard bread, standard cheese (or cheeses), standard butter and no additional ingredients.

  • The Kama Sutra: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese PLUS additional ingredients(the interior ingredients must be at least 60% cheese).

  • The Honey Pot: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese (the interior ingredients of the sammich must be at least 60% cheese), and with an overall flavor that is sweet and would best be served as dessert.
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

As for the judging, Invitational go-ers had to apply online ahead of time to become a judge and though they had still pay for admission, they were able to sample as many of the grilled cheese sandwiches as they could get to in the competition area. So what are the general rules of judging?
  • Get Sammy from Runner
  • Eat Sammy
  • Vote on Sammich
  • Put Vote in Ballot Box
However, just because you're a judge, it doesn't mean that you'll automatically get sandwiches to judge. When it comes to the nitty gritty of judging, the main goal is to "get that sammy from the runner."

2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

To get that sammy can involve anything from being patient for some and being aggressive for others. It could mean being at the right place at the right time or knowing people who are competing. A cheese-inspired costume could give you brownie points, especially since a lot of the chef and runners themselves were also dressed accordingly. Knowing how to make good eye contact and smiling doesn't hurt and looking excited, being enthusiastic and vocal may also draw the chef and the runner's attention to you. In short, a shy violet will not get any sammiches.

2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

Once you get that sandwich and hopefully, you'll get more than one, you'll get a ballot where you get to score that sandwich on 4 different categories.
  • Presentation: How does the sammich look? (Scale of 1 – 10, 10 being highest)
  • Taste: How does it taste? (Scale of 1 – 20, 20 being highest)
  • Wessonality: Is this sammich special? Deliver Style points here (Scale of 1- 5, 5 being highest)
  • SPAZ: The Weird Factor (Scale of 1 – 15, 15 being biggest Spaz
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

If you weren't an official judge, there were other opportunities that day to get some grilled cheese sandwich action. Tillamook Cheese, was one of the main sponsors and there were free Tillamook grilled cheese sandwiches for all. There were also other vendors competing for a People's Choice Awards like The Grilled Cheese Truck, the Oaks Gourmet, Chef Eric Greenspan of the Foundry and more.

2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational
2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

Overall, being a cheesehead, this is one event I look forward to every year and even better, one of my friend's Missionary entry won a Judge's Choice Award. You can see that winning sandwich below as well as my friend Cecilia and her runner for the day, Miho along with her trophy. To see the list of all the winners, click here.

2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational

If you don't want to miss out on the 2011 Grilled Cheese Invitational, see below for all the contact information.

Grilled Cheese Invitational Website
Grilled Cheese Invitational on Twitter
Grilled Cheese Invitational on Facebook

My 70+ photos of the 2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational can be found here!