Go Pack Go: Same-Day Bratwurst from Grindhaus LA

Beer-Marinated, Grilled Bratwurst

Hollywood is a long way from Green Bay. And when beating the cross-stateline rivals, Chicago Bears, was essential to, first, making it into the 2010-2011 playoffs and, second, making it to Super Bowl XLV, I knew I needed a good luck ritual to help my team win the NFC Championships last week. I needed a good luck food.

My lack of planning meant that I forgot to mail-order the Sheboygan brats ahead of time. Instead of going to the supermarket for Johnsonville, I decided to channel my fandom through locally-made sausages, instead. I figured my Wisconsin meat-packing counterparts would understand, since I’d be saving shipping fuel and time. After all, freshness is key, and always has been the priority – even as a matter of spoilage thanks to high fat content in bratwurst, with the earliest recipes dating back to the 1400s.

Marinating Bratwursts

I stopped in the brand new, brick and mortar sausage shop known as Grindhaus on Hollywood Blvd. to see what was ready in their case. Italian sausage, bockwurst, pickled vegetables were all available, but of course, the bratwurst were sold out. I was lucky in that they were working on another batch. When I asked about their sauerkraut, they were also working on it then – but said it’d be ready and done fermenting in 8 days. I returned 2.5 hours later to get the first of the new batch of brats. They cost a reasonable $6/lb, which yielded 6 sausages for about $10.50. If my experience taught a lesson, phone in if you have specific tastes to see what they have in stock. They are allegedly rolling out their food truck very soon and will be roaming the eastside, so I can’t wait to taste their prepared food on-the-go.

Since my brats were completed literally a few minutes beforehand, one of the three friendly Grindhaus guys present advised to leave them in my fridge, uncovered, for a few hours so that the meat would settle and harden a bit inside the fresh casing. Done. And then it was time to start the ritual of marinating them overnight. Below is the marinade recipe I used, which I’m in no way touting as the best out there, nor is the method I used. I have a lot more experimentation to do before I cross that bridge. But these fresh brats from Grindhaus turned out so tasty, I was extremely proud of my somewhat haphazard method. Maybe this method will work for you, too.

(Recipe after the jump.)

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Roving Mammoth Smuggles Burritos So You Don’t Have To

Roving Mammoth

This article first appeared on LAist.com

It’s known amongst California snow birds that while San Francisco and Sacramento snow sport enthusiasts flock to Tahoe, Angelenos looking for more ski-able real estate flock to Mammoth. If your commitment is intact, the choice is clear: The five-to-sixish hour drive rewards you with Mammoth Mountain’s over 3500 acres.

I couldn’t be more surprised, then, that it wasn’t a local resort but Mammoth that took cues straight out of Los Angeles culture. Or could I? Friends directed me via Twitter to articles detailing that there would be food trucks retro-fitted snow cat food trucks, dubbed Roving Mammoth, parked right on the runs. While this past weekend marked my third trip this season to the mountain, it was my first time finally getting to try out this phenomenon-gone-snow. (For another such phenomenon, check out the new Art Park, a terrain park dedicated to Jeff Anderson showcasing artwork, complete with descriptions posted by each feature. What’s next? First Fridays?)

Let’s be honest, when you get a record-breaking 17 feet of snow in December, the last thing on your mind when you’re on the mountain is to track down a food truck when your Monday through Friday, 9-5 is spitting distance from Miracle Mile. The first? Fresh tracks and tree runs. But now, having tried the burrito at a price point that undercuts anything at the four lodges ($9 baked potato? $7 slice of soggy pizza? $12 tostada salad?), I will make it a point to make a burrito break whenever I’m thinking fast and simple.

I caught Neil Mallery, McCoy Station Manager, in action inside the truck at the major intersection by the top of Canyon Express (Chair 16) and Roller Coaster (Chair 4). Having debuted on Christmas, Roving Mammoth is in service Thursdays through Sundays. Just check the @MammothMountain Twitter feed to get the DL on which runs they’re doling out their $5.50 burritos. They go until they sell out, which typically happens around 3PM (or sooner, especially on Saturdays on Sundays). Pick from their green chile breakfast burrito with eggs, a chicken burrito, a beef burrito and a bean and cheese burrito.

Thanks to their heated storage, the burrito was still warm and the pleasantries weren’t lost on my bare hands. I’ve never tried eating with gloves, before, but I’m counting on the burrito as the only viable candidate to do that with. No hot drinks are available yet, but grab a bottle of Cholula (or Tabasco) to take with you when you sit down at one of the plastic lounge chairs situated outside the snow cat, and you’ll pack some heat in every bite. The selection and price of the drinks and snacks are identical to the lodges’ (meaning you’ll pay as much for those as for the burrito), but the burrito itself was better than I expected. Beans – yes, rice – yes, ground beef – yes, fresh flour tortilla – bingo! I would have enjoyed more cheese and salsa since it was advertised, but there was no doubting that the medium-sized burrito I enjoyed was indeed made fresh that morning. There were good ratios of each ingredient, overall. Now, I’m just curious about that green chile in the breakfast burrito. Guess I’ll save it for my next visit.

It’s no small point that there’s a good reason to actually sit down to eat your so-described hand-held burrito by the truck, as you would a food truck in the streets of Los Angeles, nouveau or O.G. Enjoy it while it’s warm and round. That is the advice I can offer from having made the mistake of putting my first purchase inside my jacket, meaning to ride down with it to meet my buddies at the lodge during their coffee break. You can guess what happened (it fell out of my jacket) – so if you see a burrito on that intermediate run called “Downhill,” down to Canyon Lodge, congratulations: You just scored a free, cold, hard burrito.

Currently roving Thursday – Sunday

10 AM – 3 PM

Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort
10001 Minaret Road
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
800.626.6684

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Food (Truck) Fight

Courtesy of Artstechnica.com, Marvel, Capcom

Q: What do Marvel & Capcom video games and food trucks all have in common? A: Very little

But there’s no better excuse to celebrate your anticipation for either the new Marvel vs. Capcom 3 video game and/or Chef Ludo Lefebvre (LudoBites) and Chef Eric Greenspan’s (The Foundry on Melrose) awesome food than to attend tomorrow’s tailgate launch party at Kim Sing Theatre. It’s from 11 AM – 3 PM so it’s prime time for lunch or linner.

Food and drinks will be served off food trucks for this event and you’ll get to try out the brand new video game on-the-spot. A live DJ will be spinning tunes to help create that unique gaming atmosphere. What’s on the food menu, you ask? Dishes and bites inspired by the video game, itself.

So come out and check out your potentially new gaming addiction while enjoying food from two of the most talented (and yes, famous) chefs in the city. See you there!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

11 AM – 3 PM

Email: [email protected]

Kim Sing Theatre
722 N. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Get Your “Lardon” With the Bacon Food Truck

The Lardon Food Truck hard launch is on Monday

Food trucks come and go. I mean, literally. Everyday, they do this. But now we can add to the fleet a truck that is inspired primarily by bacon. Because we all have that vegetarian friend whose sole weakness is strips of pork – so you know that centering a truck around one ingredient is, well, putting all your pigs in a very big, fail-safe basket.

Yesterday afternoon, I caught their soft launch in Silver Lake. Heather and Jeremiah Crowley, the masterminds themselves who discovered the magic of bacon at home with their kids, were on board and super excited to be putting their home-cooked recipes out on the road.  Heather says, “There’s nothing like the scent and sizzle of bacon in the early morning, but we felt it could and SHOULD be eaten anytime, anywhere!”

Touché. “Fo sizzle.”

Check below for some mouth-watering bacon applications:

Breakfast

Frisee au Lardon Sandwich ($6) | With fried egg, vinaigrette on toasted brioche

  • Smoked bacon, over easy eggs & cheddar sandwich ($6)
  • Breakfast burrito with potatoes, cheddar & smoked bacon ($6)
  • Brioche french toast sandwich filled with crumbled bacon & bacon bourbon maple syrup ($6)
  • Bacon pancakes served with bacon-infused bourbon maple syrup ($5.50).

All-Day Sides

  • “The Bacone” – 3 strips of bacon, rotating inclusions ($4)
  • “The Baco” – Potatoes and cheddar in a bacon shell served with horseradish bacon sour cream ($4)

Lunch, Dinner, Late Night

The Baco

  • Chicken wings covered in bacon hot sauce, topped with hot sauce-covered bacon and served with bacon blue cheese dipping sauce ($5)
  • Frisee au Lardon sandwich with fried egg & vinaigrette on toasted brioche ($6)
  • “The Lardon” – BLT Nueske’s peppered bacon, butter lettuce & tomatoes and St. Agur Blue Cheese served on toasted baguette ($6)

Dessert

Lark sugar cookies

  • Lark brownies with bacon Nutella spread ($3.50)
  • Lark sugar cookies ($3.50)

Desserts come from the popular Silver Lake bakery, Lark. As for refreshments, the truck serves canned soda, water and even fresh-squeezed OJ if you’d like Vitamin C with your bacon breakfast.

I very much enjoyed my Frisee sandwich as well as The Baco. And I can’t wait to try other things on their menu. So whether you catch a soft launch (soft stop?) of theirs while they iron out the menu and operating kinks the rest of this week - or wait til their hard launch on Monday - be on the look-out for the Lardon truck via their Twitter account (@getyourlardon) and Facebook page. Your bacon cravings demand it!

Catch the Lardon truck around Los Angeles

Moving target

Go Green With Cube LA’s Gardening Classes

Photo credit to Amy Sheridan

Urbanite Angelenos, rejoice. Especially if you have that little patch of soil in that planter outside your door or are even fortunate enough to live in a building or a house with a dedicated garden. It’s time to get out that green thumb (or grow one) and attend one or both of Cube LA‘s garden classes downtown.

The next installment is on Saturday, August 14th, 2010. Get ready for your fall vegetable garden – and remember to invite me to your October dinner party so I can test the fruits (vegetables) of your labor. And if you fix me a cocktail with a garnish from your herb garden, that counts, too.

Further incentive to attend will be provided by Chef Ludo Lefebvre and The Ludo Bites Fried Chicken Truck and Coolhaus with their delicious ice cream sandwiches. You didn’t think they’d let you go hungry, did you?

The Fall Vegetable Garden
10:30 AM - 12 PM
$35 per person

This class will introduce strategies for year-round food production for Southern California gardeners. Cool season gardens can provide a bounty of fresh produce. August is a great time for planning fall gardens and to start planting seeds for broccoli, cauliflower, root vegetables and a variety of delicious leafy greens.

This class will cover the basics of planting seeds and seedlings, choosing appropriate varieties to plant, understanding day length and temperature and how they affect the growth of your fall garden.

Using Garden Herbs
1:30 – 3 PM
$40 per person

This class will offer fresh ideas for ways to use herbs from your garden. We will make use of common garden herbs such as rosemary, sage, lemon verbena, mint, etc. and use them to make flavored salts, herbal vinegar, butter, tea and several bath and beauty products. Participants will get to sample a variety of herbal products and get to take home an item that they make in class. Recipes will be provided.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

10:30 AM – 12 PM, 1:30 – 3 PM

Tickets

Cube Marketplace Downtown
550 Ceres Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90013
213.542.3316

Save Nina’s Food: Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nina's Quesadillas | Photo credit to LASates.com

Nina's Food | Photo credit to LASates.com

I admit it. I made a huge mistake by missing the first ever L.A. Vendy Awards about a month ago, in May. And to this day, I suffer having never tried a variety of O.G. and N.S. (new school) street food vendors  at the site of one, well-organized event. Of course, the argument of who’s who, we’ll leave out here.

But one thing’s for sure – the vendor I really missed out on was Nina’s Pambazos and Quesadillas, originally of Breed Street fame. Nina Garcia is notorious for her Pambazos, which Evan Kleiman, KCRW’s Good Food host and Vendy Awards Judge so vividly describes in this way:

The first bite of her Pambazo was like being hit in the face with a big punch of flavor followed by an incredibly comforting and satisfying textural surprise.  The torta, soaked in enchillada sauce then griddled became a sort of savory, spicy bread pudding filled with potato, cheese and chorizo.  Her Quesidillas are justly famous, a pile of cheese on the griddle turning into Queso Fundido that’s scraped into a corn tortilla made to oder and garnished with your choice of chicharron, zucchini flowers, huitlacoche etc.

The problem is that since her Vendy Awards honor, it has brought on the bad notoriety along with the good. The police have had a bit of a time breathing down her back, lately – with her not-exactly-mobile operation being a griddle and tables. And so Evan, along with Erin Glenn, Chief Executive Officer of Asociación de Loncheros L.A. Familia Unida de California are trying to raise money in order to get Nina into her own truck. Thanks also goes to Bill Esparza who passed along the word to us food bloggers so we could get the word out to you.

The Pambazo-Quesadilla-Gordita Fest fundraiser will be held on Sunday from 11 AM – 3 PM at Angeli Caffe on Melrose just west of La Brea. Buy a Pambazo, Quesadilla and/or Gordita for yourself and everyone’s father. It’ll be the best tasting fundraiser you ever did help support. And you’ll also be helping to sustain an important part of L.A.’s culture.

If you can’t make it and want to make any size donation, please make your check out to Nina Garcia and send it to:

Nina’s Food
c/o Carl Berquist
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
2533 West 3rd Street, Suite 101
Los Angeles, California 90057

Check the menu for Sunday’s event below:

Pambazo $5
(A roll soaked in Guajillo Chile Sauce filled with Potato and Chorizo and Griddled)

Quesadillas – griddled or fried – cheese only $3.50

Quesadillas or gorditas $6.50
Guisados (fillings)
Huitlacoche – Corn Fungus
Flor de Calabaza – Zucchini Flowers
Hongos – Mushrooms
Chicharron prensad
Tinga – Spicy Chipotle Beef

Bowl of pozole w/condiments $5
Nina’s salsa seca (to-go) $5
(Combo of sesame seeds, peanuts, chile de arbol)

There will also be a selection of beverages:
Agua de Limon
Agua de Sandia
Soft Drinks/Ice Tea
Selection of Beers

Further reading:
Help Nina of the Famous Quesadillas – Evan Kleiman of KCRW Good Food

Breed Street Vendor Nina’s Food Takes Home the First Ever L.A. Vendy Awards – Midtown Lunch LA

Vendy Awards Update – Nina’s Foods the Winner – LA Weekly Squid Ink


Nina’s Food Fundraiser

Sunday, June 20, 2010

11 AM – 3 PM

Angeli Caffe
7274 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323.936.9086

Cart For a Cause In Santa Monica Featuring Comme Ça Today

Quiche

It’s Tuesday in L.A., which means that Cart For a Cause is serving up the month’s featured restaurant fare yet again to benefit St. Vincent Meals On Wheels. You can find the red food truck at 2220 Colorado Blvd. at Cloverfield in Santa Monica starting noon with David Myers’ and Dong Choi’s recipes on board (last week, it was quiche and French dip at the Pacific Design Center). It’ll run you $10 (cash only) and comes with your selected dish, a sponsored side & drink – and even a cookie. What a great deal for a take-away Comme Ça lunch – and you can feel good that the proceeds of each meal purchased feeds a senior citizen for an entire day.

Doesn’t get much better than eating a delicious lunch while helping out a great cause, now, does it? Just be sure to get there early, because the truck is usually equipped with about 150 lunches – and they serve until they run out.

Previously:

Cart For a Cause Launches Tomorrow Featuring Alex Becker of Nobu

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

12 PM

$10 cash

2220 Colorado Blvd. (at Cloverfield)
Santa Monica, CA 90494

@cartforacause

@atcommeca

Cart For A Cause Launches Tomorrow Featuring Alex Becker of Nobu

Cart For A Cause

There’s no denying that the food truck movement has essentially exploded as of late. Want fusion tacos (bad and good)? Want grilled cheese? Or a banh mi sandwich? What about dim sum or even red velvet pancakes? The menus are vast – but as of now, the food truck explosion has expanded to include benefitting a good cause.

St. Vincent Meals On Wheels, the Los Angeles-based chapter of Meals On Wheels, is launching an initiative tomorrow in the form of yet another food truck. This time, the truck rolls out once a week and the menu will be rotating as will the chef. Gourmet meals featuring a preeminent Los Angeles-area chef will be rolling out on the Cart For A Cause (@cartforacause) every Tuesday through fall. Tomorrow, Executive Chef Alex Becker of Nobu West Hollywood will be on showcase as 100% of the proceeds of the $10 lunches – which include drink - benefit St. Vincent Meals On Wheels.

On Tuesdays to come, you can look forward to specially made menu items by confirmed chefs including Susan Feniger (STREET), David Myers and Dong Choi (Comme Ça), Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (Animal), Josef Centeno (Lazy Ox Canteen), Eric Greenspan (The Foundry), Nicholas Peter (Little Door) and Sal Marino (Il Grano).

Satisfying your penchant for food truck chasing while helping to deliver nutritious food and love to Los Angeles’ home-bound seniors? Seems like a win-win charitable cause to me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

12:30 – 2:30 PM

United Talent Agency
9650 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA
(Truck located in rear of building in valet turn–off of S. Camden St.)

@cartforacause

The Dim Sum Truck: For Your Fix In Metro LA

Dim Sum Truck

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was in Westwood without a car and without access to any of the great Chinese food I had been hearing about. I have fond memories mooching rides all the way to Monterey Park for the sole purposes of late night, greasy Chinese cafe food and pre-Boba Explosion Era boba milk tea. There was so much as one or two Lollicups in the area. The ritual of a Saturday or Sunday morning at NBC Seafood was to get there before 11:30 to minimize the wait for a table. But the tastes that resulted were always worth the labor for us Westside college students – especially this Midwestern one.

Turnip Cakes - 2 for $3

Enter: 2008, 2009 and now, 2010 – where specialized food trucks join the movement that Kogi BBQ singlehandedly initiated. Well, it’s now come to dim sum – and though some may feel the truck movement has gotten “a lot” out of hand at over 75 food trucks (and counting), I myself can’t complain. If it’s a choice between Subway sandwiches or Trimana sandwiches every Monday through Friday at my 9 to 5, who am I to argue with entrepreneurs who choose to expand those choices – and so widely - for me?

Sticky Rice - $3

I admit, I had reservations about a truck that would hold a monopoly on an entire sub-genre of Chinese cuisine on the Westside. Sorry - I would sooner die than eat dim sum I didn’t drive at least 15 miles for, and being wrong about that generalization was worth the risk of cold shu mai or stale-skinned har gow.

So when I got invited to check out the Dim Sum Truck on a preview during one of their soft openings, Alex – the U$C grad who put the pedal to the metal when everyone else (including myself) only talked about how there should be a dim sum truck – was gracious enough to give me a sampling of everything from their soft opening menu. Apparently, there will be more menu items on the cart in the truck once it officially rolls out tomorrow night at The Brig on Abbot Kinney – but half the food that I got was enough to put me in a truly authentic post-dim sum food coma…without the 15 mile drive west.

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Bánh mì On A Truck, Eats On A Dime

The pork is in there

nomnom_menu3Like Pat over at Eating LA, I also tried the Nom Nom Truck. I’m fortunate enough to work not too far from where food trucks get cited park at Miracle Mile at Mid-Wilshire. Fortunately, I found The Noms practicing their business in peace and relatively un-harrassed for the day. I was pleased, too, to find the menu of Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches actually “food truck-like,” price-wise. Cheap eats on the go. Hype, Twitter-infused or not, does not account for atmosphere.

I ate my banh mi at my desk.

I love Lee’s Sandwiches (known to be dirt cheap) as much as pie but let’s be serious – a 6″ Lee’s would cost more than a Wahoo’s fish taco if sold on The Westside and, well - I have yet to hear about a Wahoo’s opening up in Little Saigon. So yes, Nom Nom bánh mì is not at competitive Westminster prices but it is still dirt cheap in comparison to what else is out there on Miracle Mile.

And for the most part, delicious. Unfortunately, they were out of the shrimp spring rolls at the time of my visit – so I’m eager to try those at a later time. But I went for the full deal and got a 12″ bánh mì combo. My extra was a lemongrass chicken taco – very respectable – and after consulting with one of the ladies inside the truck, chose the grilled pork bánh mì. It was good and hit the spot in what would otherwise be just another ordinary “tuna sandwich day” at work. My only complaint would be that the pork cut could have been a bit choicier and moist, but for a 12″ sandwich, side and soda for $7 – there really is little cause to complain. It had the essential ingredients liked daikon, pickled carrots, onions, cilantro and of course pork. If I had known (like EatingLA) you could ask for sliced jalapenos, that would’ve “upped” the sandwich a bit for me – so if you have that spicy-tooth, don’t forget. ;)

I’d recommend checking out the Nom Nom Truck at least once if it’s in your area. They’re not your run-of-the-mill sandwiches.

 

 Nom Nom Truck
@nomnomtruck
(Check the website and Twitter to see when they’ll be in your area)