By: Bonnie Burgess
For a food truck that screams 90s Euro pop, you may be surprised to learn what delicacies are cooking inside. Hiding behind a facade of hot pink brick with vertical teal and black stripes, they call themselves EuroTrash. Don’t let your eyes fool you now; listen to your nose! Maybe you catch a hint of curry? That’s “THE! Prawn Baguette,” and it’s anything but trashy. The sandwich literally tops the menu of this Portland-native food truck, and you can dabble in the eccentric offerings at the SF Street Food Festival this August.
Grab a tall stack of napkins because this is going to be messy. The Prawn Baguette features creator Charles Thomas’s favorite spice, curry, or what he calls one of the “dark spices.” The base resembles a toasty and airy street food veteran, bahn-mi. Serving as the glue and the gold, a sweet curry nectar is smothered across the buns, and nestled between, rest five plump and juicy prawns. Not just any prawns, they’re curried-up and grilled ‘til peachy and vibrant. Shattering slaw stereotypes, the coconut cilantro slaw sits coolly on top, balancing the sweetness of the curry. So gracefully tied together, The Prawn Baguette together is much more than just a sandwich.
Save a few more napkins for the signature Nah-Nah Chips. These guys really are chips, rather than British chips of the fish and chips dynamic duo. The Nah-Nahs are made fresh from potatoes slicked to a thick, optimal width for a hearty crisp outside and a tender center. The flaxen fried chips are drizzled with just enough garlic aioli and a smattering of parsley to make them insanely addictive.
EuroTrash draws upon the creator’s travel experiences in Portugal, mixed with Charles’s humble, family-honed culinary roots in the Pacific Northwest, and a bit of a “sloppy American twist.” A fusion this funky is sure to tickle your taste buds in foreign ways. The attention to quality ingredients, a cheeky sense of humor and bold creativity produces a rare standout amongst food truck cuisine. EuroTrash gutsily proclaims, “our food is dope” and rightfully so. Snag a few extras from the napkin department not only for the overflow of sauce, but for seconds.
Local Foragers: the Winners are In!
The people have spoken! The winners of this year’s Local Forager Contest are: Little Red Dot Kitchen, Rice Paper Scissors, Mozzeria, and Banh Mi Love You Long Time. These four, decided by the votes you cast, will each receive a free spot at this year’s Street Food Festival plus wisdom from the folks here at La Cocina and experts from Whole Foods Market. The entrants were impressive, ranging from a gluten-free bread maker to a bread pudding queen and a major SPAM lover. We wanted to shed some light on two of the winners and get you excited about trying their eats in a few short weeks.
First up: Little Red Dot Kitchen, named for how Singapore is often represented on a map, is dedicated to bringing the Malaysian-Singaporean snack bak kwa to the USA. What began as a part-time project by five tech engineers in 2011, is now a full-time gig for one co-founder, Ching Lee, and marketer Karen Kuk. The company’s bak kwa is similar to jerky but rather than dehydrate the meat, they use the traditional grilling practice. As a result, says Lee, it stays softer and more tender than jerky with a flavor that’s “juicy, smoky, and very savory.” Made by hand in small batches, Lee and her team want to build a community-focused company; for their spicy chipotle beef variety this means using beef sourced from Sonoma and berries from Santa Cruz as a sweetener. Little Red Dot plans to bring all four of their flavors (classic pork, pork lite, turkey, and spicy chipotle beef) to the Food Festival, with recipes perfected by the engineers themselves. When asked why Little Red Dot wants to be at this year’s event, Lee proclaimed bak kwa is ”an awesome little snack and the world should know about it!” We’re excited to get to try it and hope you are, too.
Next, the ladies behind Rice Paper Scissors, created an amazing “If I was Your Vendor” Justin Bieber parody to get your votes (clearly, it worked). Valerie and Katie, co-founders of the pop-up Vietnamese cafe, will be feeding SF their Charcoal-Grilled Baby Octopus and Pork Belly Banh Mi (and have you wash ‘em down with Vietnamese iced coffee). In their own words, the reason why you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for these two:
“People dig our Pork Belly Banh Mi because it’s truly handcrafted: the pork belly is brined in fish sauce and caramelized and brown to perfection, and everything from the mayo, chicken liver pate, and daikon pickles is housemade.
We’re all about bringing Vietnamese street food you can’t find anywhere else — foods we’ve researched and sought after in Vietnam. The Grilled Baby Octopus to share one of our favorite street food discoveries. The octopus is perfectly charred, and served with shredded cabbage and salt and pepper with lime juice over it. Interesting, savory, bite-sized — the perfect street food.”
By: Bonnie Burgess
Like a mad scientist, the Yakamein Lady cascades her steaming potion from beaker to beaker. Forget the white coat, she’s in a tee and sunglasses, and meticulously concocting a beef soup – New Orleans style. This August, she and her soulful, yakamein food truck will visit the SF Street Food Festival, all the way from the Gulf Coast, and you won’t want to miss her in action.
More formerly known as Miss Linda Green, she is as artful as she is methodic in preparing her yakamein– the solo item on her raved-about menu. From a steamy vat, she ladles the beef broth over noodles and swooshes it back and forth between the bowl and the vat until the nest of noodles fully captures the flavor. The result is a unique and satisfying combination of a full-bodied savory and a hint of sweet. Imagine a hearty noodle soup heaping with chuck roast, hard-boiled egg, scallions, and topped to your taste with sweet and spicy sauces – it’s a proper fusion of East and West beneath your spoon.
The soup originally emerged as a late-night street food for hepcats. After a night in the bustling jazz clubs, folks wandered through New Orleans’ Chinatown looking for a snack and wound down with a bowl of yakamein, or “Old Sober” as it became known. Now the Yakamein Lady is keeping up its glory.
Ten years ago, the Yakamein Lady began tantalizing the taste buds of NOLA’s street food scene, and has since landed in the spotlight of No Reservations, United Tastes of America and Chopped. Anthony Bourdain, in particular, marveled at her polished handling of the New Orleans-style soup, remarking it’s the way she “gets those flavors marrying up doing magical things.”
On August 18, the Yakamein Lady is coming to town, and you can experience Old Sober for yourself at the SF Street Food Festival. Snag a bowl and taste the rich, wholesome and meaty goodness of the Creole-rooted soup. Get ready because after Miss Linda meticulously masters a perfect union in your bowl, she’ll pass it to you for the finishing touch, a trifecta of sauce, customizing your own medley of hot sauce, soy sauce and sweet sauce.
Not only does yakamein cure a Friday night hangover, but slurping down a piping bowl is certainly something to feel good about. Miss Linda’s festival profits will be donated to San Francisco’s own incubator kitchen, La Cocina, helping develop local food entrepreneurs. With a festival passport in hand, explore San Francisco’s multicultural cuisine corralled on Folsom Street, while supporting the food movement in our backyard.
So let’s jazz up our southern hospitality and welcome the Yakamein Lady into The Bay with open mouths, grumbling bellies, and hands poised to sauce your yakamein.
Stay tuned for more news!
The history of mobile food in the US is an intriguing one, going back to the first chuckwagon, a scrappy invention by a Texas cattleman in the 1860s to feed frontier cowboys. But the background of the street food movement in San Francisco is perhaps more fascinating. It seems hard to imagine that the plethora of food trucks, stands, and bikes that have emerged in recent years was seen at any prior date, but in fact, this recent abundance has roots in our city at the turn of the 20th century.
After the 1906 earthquake and the fires that raged due to a series of gas line ruptures, cooking in any building that remained intact was prohibited for the weeks and months following the April events. Our San Franciscan ancestors approached their dilemma with a similar spirit to that seen in the street food community in San Francisco today: innovative, entrepreneurial, and a little bit cheeky. Residents took to the streets, building brick ovens or moving their home stoves outside to sit directly over the gas mains, to cook for their families and anyone else in need.
Rough structures were built around the outdoor kitchens (often called “gutter kitchens”) using whatever was available: cloth, shutters, roofing, or corrugated metal. Photos of the city from April and May of 1906 show innumerable pop ups, rivaling the numbers we see at today’s Off the Grid or the San Francisco Street Food Festival. Even in dire straights, low on food and shelter, these street food groundbreakers kept their tongue-in-cheek humor intact. Popular spots emblazoned their ramshackle eateries with ironic names like “The Palace Hotel” and “The Appetite Killery.” Communities emerged around these kitchens and mottos such as “Make the best of it. Forget the rest of it.” reflected the resiliency of the city.
While these kitchens slowly disappeared as chimneys were rebuilt and the gas turned back on, the approach to dishing out food with limited resources has stuck with us!
An important note for our Conference Attendees:
We regret to announce that Jonathan Gold will no longer be able to participate in this years’ National Street Food Conference as he originally had planned, and as appeared on the schedule. He sends his sincerest apologies and regards! The good news? This panel is still stacked with some amazing folks: Francis Lam, Celia Sack, Karen Leibowitz and Niloufer King!
We’re looking forward to Sunday!
Sunday, August 21st
12:00-1:30PM “EAT YOUR CART OUT” BRUNCH
Join Top Chef Masters contestant Suvir Saran, Wise Sons Deli, Ingrid’s Lunchbox and La Cocina’s Azalina’s Malaysian for a delicious culinary extravaganza. Eat and drink to your cart’s content!
1:30-3:00PM PANEL ONE: BUT OH, IT TASTES SO GOOD: Chefs in conversation about the world’s best street food
Panelists: Jessica Battiliana, Suvir Saran, Azalina Eusope, Hoss Zare and Andrea Nguyen
3:15-5:00PM PANEL TWO: WRITING ABOUT STREET FOOD IS LIKE…
Panelists: Celia Sack, Karen Leibowitz, Francis Lam and Niloufer King
Monday, August 22nd
9:00-10:45AM PANEL ONE: TALES OF TWO CITIES: From Taco Trucks to Gastrobuses: Has American “Street Food” Fundamentally Changed?
Panelists: Michelle Branch, Gail Lillian, Lizzy Caston, Lucero Munoz Arrellano and Luis and Maria de la luz Vazquez
11:00AM-12:00PM BREAKOUT TRACKS
- INCUBATOR AND VENDOR ORGANIZATION TRACK Advocacy and Organizing: Participants: Leticia Landa and Matthew Geller
- VENDOR TRACK Marketing for Mobile Food: Participants: Baylen Linnekin, Joshua Henderson, Matt Cohen, and Brian and Lisa Wood
- PLANNING TRACK Policy Lab: Participants: Wendy Mendes, Warren Hansen, Dan Sider
12:00PM-1:00PM LUNCH, SPONSORED BY METAL GOURMET AND PREPARED BY ALICIA VILLANUEVA OF ALICIA’S TAMALES LOS MAYAS
Metal Gourmet manufactures and distributes food carts and trailers for the mobile food industry, including entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, caterers and other food service professionals. www.metalgourmet.com
1:00-2:30PM PANEL TWO: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE GREAT AMERICAN FOOD TRUCK Aka, How to Make Money in America on Wheels
Panelists: Annaliese DeNooyer, Ernesto Hernandez, Daniella Sawaya, Alicia Villanueva and Robb Walsh
2:45-4:00PM BREAKOUT TRACKS:
- INCUBATOR AND VENDOR ORGANIZATION TRACK Advocacy and Organizing Participants: Robin Burger and Matthew Geller
- VENDOR TRACK COGS, POS and Increasing Your Revenue Participants: Laurie Aaronson, Gio Mahmoud, Wendy Weiden, Denon Moore
- PLANNING TRACK Mobile Food as Economic Development Participants: Jordan Klein and Wendy Mendes
4:00-5:30PM PANEL THREE: MAKING POLICY WORK, A Vertical Conversation
Panelists: Robin Burger, Joshua Henderson, Lauren Dunning, Gio Mahmoud and Maria Piedad Cano
Get your game on! La Cocina is proud to present the third annual San Francisco Street Food Festival Game.
We’re teaming up with The Go Game again to bring you the ultimate foodie adventure, a three-week scavenger hunt culminating at the San Francisco Street Food Festival on August 20. Contestants can vote and track their progress on Facebook, “liking” photos and videos to rack up points, all the while inching closer and closer to prizes that their food lover friends will be drooling over.
Get started today! Signing up is easy – just head to the Street Food Festival Game homepage and click on “Play Game” on the left-hand panel. You can invite up to nine other players to join your team, so grab a handful of friends and let the madness begin!
Once you’re signed up, make sure to check back regularly for updates on prizes, who’s in the lead, and which photos are getting the most love on Facebook. May the most devoted foodie win!
The Street Food Festival is all about celebrating the diverse food (and people) that makes San Francisco the amazing it is to eat and live, and we’re confident that this year will have the best of the Bay Area’s best. Still, when it comes to street food, we have to admit that there are some other places that do it pretty well. That’s why we’re more than a little bit excited to announce that we’ve signed up vendors from some of the best known food cities in the country to join us this year, and help us taste what we’re missing in Seattle, New York, Madison and Portland. Read on to hear about the food and the people behind it:
From rainy Seattle comes Joshua Henderson, the creator of bacon jam (which you may have seen popping up in stores across San Francisco) and the proprietor of Skillet Street Food. Skillet is known for dishing up innovative twists on American-inspired food, with a burger to live for (topped with his bacon spread) and poutine (fries with gravy) as menu constants. The five-year old airstream business was so successful that Joshua opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Skillet Diner, earlier this year.
The American coasts tend to get a lot of culinary acclaim, but we think we’ve found street food that might help the heartland get the attention it deserves. Madison, Wisconsin representative Ingrid’s LunchBox was named the number one spot for street food by Bon Appetit way back in 2008, and from the sounds of it, the popularity of Ingrid’s farm-to-table breakfast fare hasn’t abated a bit. Ingrid’s motto is ‘the finest of the heartland’ and we’re looking forward to digging into whatever she whips up.
Finally, no list of food truck cities would be complete without a rep from food-crazy Portland, Oregon. We’re pleased to say that we’ve signed on the nationally-lauded Big-Ass Sandwiches. Tag-teamed by husband and wife duo Brian and Lisa Wood, Big-Ass Sandwiches was named the number one Portland food truck by locals in 2010 and was featured in the Cooking Channel’s Food Truck Revolution. They’re known for ample, fry-stuffed sammies, and we’re drooling just thinking about them.
Stay tuned for more information!
* * *SCAVENGER HUNT CLUE* * *
Now that we’ve got you thinking in Spanish at Mijita, it is time for you to translate the following to find your next answer: butterflies, earth mothers and someone who lives in a port city. FREE HINT: all three of these things can be found in the Ferry Building! And all of these vendors use ONE KITCHEN to produce their delicious treats. If you think you know what we are talking about, write the NAME OF THE KITCHEN to move on!
(for more information on the SF Street Food Scavenger Hunt, visitwww.thegogame.com/streetfood)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Banh Mi Burgers or Ooh La La Lumpia? Sweet Potato Pie Waffles or Samosas? Why not have them all!
La Cocina is taking to the streets once again, for the 3rd Annual San Francisco Street Food Festival on Saturday, August 20, 2011. Over 50,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event, which will feature more vendors than ever. 60 sellers, half of whom are part of La Cocina’s incubator program, will be setting up shop over 8 blocks in La Cocina’s Mission neighborhood. The San Francisco Street Food Festival will also feature a hand-selected group of talented chefs with brick and mortar establishments and food trucks in other cities, providing visitors a unique opportunity to graze from a selection of the best foods from all over the Bay Area, in a block party atmosphere.
Admission is free and food is priced between $3 and $8, but you can buy a passport to save time. Buy your passport in advance online, and you’ll save money too.
3rd Annual San Francisco Street Food Festival
When: Saturday, August 20, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Conference on August 21 -22)
Where: In the La Cocina neighborhood of Folsom Street from 22nd to 26th Streets, and 23rd and 25th Streets from Treat to Shotwell.