Showing posts with label food truck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food truck. Show all posts

Saturday, April 15, 2017

best thing i ate last week: fried chicken sandwich at La Pollita

There's yet another wave of taquerias opening in Miami these days, so many I've given up even trying to list them, much less sample them all. But last week I did stop in on La Pollita, which is currently operating from a trailer parked in the Midtown Garden Center. The backstory is intriguing: chefs Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer worked at some pretty highfalutin places before this: Eleven Madison Park (just named as "World's Best Restaurant" by the suspect but influential 50 Best list), its sibling the NoMad, Scarpetta in Manhattan, Animal in L.A. Which made me wonder – what are these folks doing running a taco truck?

Making really great food, it turns out. They've got a short list of tacos, served on fresh tortillas pressed from masa supplied by Miami masa maestro Steve Santana (of Taquiza), and the cochinita pibil I tried was very good. But the standout item was the fried chicken cemita. A hot, crispy, juicy tranche of fried chicken. A crunchy, vinegar-laced, herb-flecked cabbage slaw. A dollop of mashed avocado for some richness. A creamy, mildly spicy Valentina aioli. A sesame-seed flecked bun with just the right heft: substantial enough to be a meaningful component of the sandwich composition and to keep everything together until the last bite; but not so much as to overwhelm the stars of the show. It is just about perfect, and was the best thing I ate last week.

(You can see some more pictures in this La Pollita - Miami flickr set).

The mantra at EMP is "Make It Nice." The alumni running La Pollita learned it well.

La Pollita
2600 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, Florida

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

best thing i ate last week: magurozuke nigiri at Myumi

Last summer, I wrote some "first thoughts" about Myumi – a food truck doing an omakase-only sushi service out of a lot in Wynwood. I came away impressed: fish, rice, knife-work, garnishes were all quite good, and indeed if I had any complaint, it was only that they could be a tad heavy-handed with the embellishments, hiding the quality of the base components. By Miami sushi standards, I rated it quite highly; for sushi coming from a food truck, it was downright exceptional.

Since I last wrote about Myumi, the truck moved a few blocks to Wynwood Yard, where it now shares space with a funky outdoor bar, Mortar & Pistil, a vegetable garden, as well as a few other food trucks. The sushi is still every bit as good as my initial experience, and now you can  stroll a few steps and grab a cocktail or a beer (I highly recommend the locally made M.I.A. Megamix pale ale) to accompany your meal, and finish it with some frilly shaved ice cream from Mr. Bing.

The ten rounds that made up our omakase selection had about a 2/3 overlap with my earlier visit. This time around, my favorite bite among many good ones was the magurozuke, the glistening tranche of lean tuna marinated, if my taste buds are on target, in a blend of shoyu, mirin and dashi, and topped with a dab of fresh wasabi.

You can see the rest of the pictures from this meal towards the bottom of this Myumi - Miami (Wynwood) flickr set.

Friday, April 5, 2013

podBrunch v4.0

The gleaming chrome of the gastroPod's Airstream trailer is always a promising sight - even more so when it's pulled up in front of GAB Studio in Wynwood. Good things have happened here with the Pod - a Cobaya dinner with Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food, and a P.I.G.-fest among them.

This time around, it was Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog's version of Sunday brunch, his fourth such "podBrunch." Eggs were broken, but fortunately nobody had to break out their emergency kicks.

(You can see all my pictures in this podBrunch 2013 flickr set.)

A somewhat deceptively simple salad started things off. Just a few ingredients: asparagus, onion, and a lemony vinaigrette, but with a layering of textures and forms. The asparagus appeared both as thinly shaved stalks and delicate pickled tips.Sprigs of fresh spring onion were mixed with thin, crispy golden dried onion (onion "katsuobushi," as Jeremiah called it). A synesthete would say this tasted like "green" - really fresh, clean flavors.

The Korean "jeon" is essentially a savory pancake that will often include kimchi. So a kimchi waffle is really not all that far-fetched. But to pair it up with a slow-poached duck egg, and then drizzle it all with a rich, but not overly sweet, cane syrup butter, was a particularly clever way to tie it back to a more traditional brunch theme.

(continued ...)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Relief Dinner at The Dutch

"Superstorm Sandy" hit the eastern seaboard exactly three weeks ago on October 29, leaving a trail of damage that will have lasting aftereffects. Lower Manhattan went dark for days; some New York and New Jersey communities like Rockaway, Red Hook, Staten Island and Long Beach Island have been devastated by flooding, fires and ongoing power outages.

The restaurant community, with its thin margins, perishable inventory and dependence on customer foot traffic, is among the most sensitive to disasters like this. And at the same time, it is also one of the most apt to respond and assist: almost immediately after the storm cleared and the damage was assessed, chefs and restaurant owners were looking for ways they could help others.

One of the first to jump on the task was Andrew Carmellini: two days after Sandy, before the power was even restored, The Dutch in New York was serving up free soup and salad for anyone in the neighborhood. And together with fellow New York chefs Marco Canora, George Mendes and Seamus Mullen, he quickly put together "NYC Food Flood" to provide direct aid to those impacted by the storm.

When I heard Carmellini had a stash of truffles for a planned "Trufflepalooza" dinner that had to be cancelled, I suggested he send them down to Miami so we could do a fundraiser down here. The truffles found another home, but the idea stuck. Chef Carmellini suggested lining up some local chefs to team up for a charity dinner, and the outpouring of support was overwhelming. In only a couple days, Michelle Bernstein (Michy's), Richard Gras and Antonio Bachour (J&G Grill), Aaron Brooks (Edge Steak), Brad Kilgore (Exit 1), Jeremiah Bullfrog (gastroPod), and Bar Lab had all agreed to participate. Andrew Zimmern sent his AZ Canteen truck down for the event. Many others - Michael's Genuine, The Bazaar, Bourbon Steak, neMesis Urban Bistro, Wolfe's Wine Shoppe, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Miami Wine and Food Festival, and more - contributed items for a silent auction.

And when we called for our Cobaya "guinea pigs" to come out and support the event, we received an equally enthusiastic response, filling more than 40 of the available spots for the dinner. South Floridians can surely empathize as New York recovers from the aftermath of a destructive hurricane, and I was gratified and moved by the generous support for the efforts of Chef Carmellini and so many others. Thank you for being "Cobayas for a Cause".

So, sure, it's all for a good cause; but what about the food?

(continued ...)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

P.I.G. 3

It's no secret we're big fans here at FFT of (1) pig and (2) Chef Jeremiah. The two will be coming together for a third reunion on Sunday November 27 for P.I.G. #3.

"P.I.G." = "Pork Is Good," Chef Jeremiah's celebration of all things porcine. For a bit of a preview, you can read my takes on P.I.G. #1 and P.I.G. #2, or you can just go and experience it for yourself.

The festivities begin at 4pm on Sunday, November 27, right around the time you start to get tired of Thanksgiving leftovers. There will be plenty of porky goodness being served from Chef Jeremiah's gastroPod and Ms. Cheezious, desserts from Coolhaus, a cash bar tended by Bar Lab, and music by Cog Nomen. Location: 210 NE 65th Street in Little Haiti.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Maybe I'm not the best person to comment on the South Beach Wine and Food Fest. Truth is, I haven't been to an event in years. I still recall going when it was primarily a wine tasting in a tent on the Florida International University campus, but those days were some time ago. My most recent experience was to take my spawn to a "Kidz Cooking" event a few years ago, in which we got to watch Giada DeLaurentiis demonstrate how not to finish a single dish in an hour.

Over the years, the SoBeFest itinerary has become increasingly dominated by "TV Personalities," which I suppose is fine for those people happy to pay just for the opportunity to stand near them, perhaps in ways the personalities don't necessarily enjoy. But the experience doesn't come cheap. The keynote dinner events - the "Q"[1], the "Burger Bash," the "Best of the Best," and the "Tribute Dinner"[2] - are priced between $225 and $500 a person. And while they feature some pretty impressive names, when I think of the meal(s) I could buy for that kind of money, I just can't bring myself to join the teeming hordes. I mean, for $500 a person I could fly to New York, have the tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park or Le Bernardin or Daniel, and still have a good bit of money left for the wine.

There are several lower-priced events, however, and when you consider the prospect of paying as much as $1,000 for you and your significant other to have dinner, suddenly $95 per person starts to look incredibly reasonable.

Consider, for instance, "Party Impossible," hosted by the hammer-headed, resume-fudging Robert Irvine and presented by Epicure Gourmet Market. This event on the roof of the 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage "showcases Epicure Market, Miami’s answer to Dean and Deluca" and presents "the gourmet meats, cheeses, breads, soups, pastries, prepared foods and much more that can only be found in this vivant store in SOBE and in Sunny Isles."[3]

What's it going to be like?
"Expect to walk around like you would a grocery store, with one major exception, instead of pushing a shopping cart, you’ll be holding a glass featuring the hottest spirits from the Southern Wine & Spirits portfolio."

Who would want to do that?

"This event is perfect for locals who can’t get enough of Epicure’s delights and bon vivant out-of-towners who have heard the buzz for years."

SoBe Fest grand poobah Lee Schrager is particularly excited about this one, saying:

"We're basically recreating an afternoon at Epicure [Gourmet Market] -- all the best prepared foods you can find in market will be there."

So. It's just like going to the grocery store and eating the grocery store's prepared foods, except you get to pay $95 per person for it.

You know how else you can get an experience like that? You can go to Epicure Market. Which, I know, seems like it would be really hard to do. But I'm going to let all of you "bon vivant out-of-towners" in on a little secret that only us locals who are hopelessly addicted to Epicure know: Epicure Market is literally directly across the street from the venue for this $95 event.

(continued... )

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Want a Burger and a Shake with that Pork Bun?

Richard Hales, chef/owner of Sakaya Kitchen, was not in pole position when the Miami food truck trend started. But when he unveiled his Dim Ssam a Gogo truck about a year ago, it quickly rolled to among the front of the pack, mobilizing Sakaya's offerings with some street-friendly contemporary Asian dishes and expanding them with some truck-only items. A few months ago Hales added a second truck, initially dubbed, somewhat uninspiredly, the "Sakaya Kitchen" truck. With a menu that was mostly a short-form version of the regular restaurant menu, the second truck primarily enabled Sakaya to be in two places at once (three, if you count the brick-and-mortar location in Midtown).[*]

Now that's all changed. Hales is rolling out not one, but two new trucks: the "Baketress" and "Burger Cheese Bun."

The "Baketress" will offer "a homey American dessert menu with an old southern soul," meaning soft-serve ice cream, fresh baked pies, made to order "hot now" doughnuts, handmade ice cream sandwiches, shakes and "re-created ice cream truck novelties." But while Hales has a sweet tooth, he doesn't claim to be a pastry chef. Instead he's bringing in some big guns to help: Vanessa Paz, formerly the pastry chef for Michelle Bernstein's restaurants. Those of you who were in attendance at our "Cobakayapaz" Cobaya dinner, when Chef Paz tried to kill us with more than a half-dozen gorgeous desserts (after seven savory courses from Chef Hales) will be anticipating good things.

(continued ...)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Miami Food Trucks Keep on Trucking

Food Trucks

A year ago, Miami had only barely caught on to the food truck trend that already was sweeping New York, Los Angeles, Portland and several other cities. It was late 2009 when the trucks started rolling here - first Latin Burger, then very shortly after, the gastroPod. Now, only a bit more than a year later, there are more than 50 trucks on the road or about to launch (you can follow all of them on this Miami Food Trucks twitter list I compiled, or check Burger Beast's Street Food Locator).

Though some people were ready to dismiss the food truck phenomenon as a goofy and ill-fated trend like pet rocks, white-rimmed sunglasses, or jeggings, the turnout at recent gatherings like the Biscayne Triangle Truck Roundup ("BTTR") Tuesday at the Johnson & Wales North Miami campus, and Street Food Fridays at the Adrienne Arsht Center, would suggest it has staying power. These events, where as many as 20 trucks set up shop, and which lately have included additional amenities like tables and chairs, porta-potties, and live music, seem to have been a real win-win deal for truckers and their customers, with hundreds of people coming out and almost all of the trucks doing brisk business. It's been busy enough that some of the truckers have started expanding - gastroPod and Sakaya Kitchen (Dim Ssam a Gogo) both are adding second vessels to their fleets.

Indeed, one of the biggest problems facing the food trucks lately is not finding customers, but finding places to operate. Both Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami have recently started cracking down on some food truck gatherings, though their rules and policies remain ill-defined and inconsistent. In the meantime, events like BTTR, the Wynwood Food Truckers Meetup, Street Food Fridays and others have still managed to go forward, and trucks continue to find places to do business.

While I've welcomed the food truck invasion, I've also been concerned at times with the quality and the variety - or lack thereof - available. For a while, it seemed like every new truck hitting the road was doing burgers, or tacos, or both.[*] Now it's true that everyone who has a soul loves burgers and tacos, but I had my doubts that Miami really needed twenty, or forty, trucks all serving the same things. But lately the mix has improved. I can't claim to have tried anywhere close to all the new offerings out there, but here are some thoughts on a few. (In earlier posts I shared my thoughts on gastroPod, Latin Burger, Sakaya Kitchen's Dim Ssam a Gogo, and Jefe's Original.)

(continued ...)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eat Basel - Where to Eat for Art Basel

It's that time of year, when culturati from all over the world, like the swallows of Capistrano, descend upon Miami for Art Basel. There will be plenty of sources for information on art installations, events and parties: New Times has a comprehensive list of Art Basel events as well as a guide to the satellite art fairs, and the New York Times just published a more curated list. And though we've danced around the food as art question here occasionally, right now let me address the issue in a more pedestrisn fashion: where should you eat?

South Beach / North Beach

The Art Basel exhibition itself is in the Miami Beach Convention Center on South Beach. The good news is that from the Convention Center, you'll be in easy walking distance of the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall. The bad news is that there's hardly anyplace good to eat on Lincoln Road any more. If you must, consider Meat Market for a contemporary take on the steakhouse genre, or for smaller budgets, the new Shake Shack (my Shake Shack review here) in the Herzog & de Meuron designed building at 1111 Lincoln Road. Otherwise, keep in mind that any place with saran-wrapped food and the hostess' bodacious cleavage on display out front generally is not worth eating at.

But all hope is not lost. South Beach has several promising new additions within about a mile of the Convention Center. The recently opened Pubbelly is an "Asian-inspired" (read "Momofuku-inspired") gastropub which brings the contemporary casual Asian meme to South Beach. Eden, in the late (and missed) Talula space, features a menu designed by New York chef Christopher Lee and a gorgeous outdoor patio space.[*]

For the high rollers of the art world, the Wolfsonian Collection is hosting a special event dinner on December 1 in conjunction with a site-specific installation, "Seduce Me," by actress/filmmaker Isabella Rossellini. While "Seduce Me" explores the mating rituals of various animals, big name chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will be doing the cooking, Robert Mondavi Winery will be pouring the wines, and Bulgari will be providing a special Rossellini-designed handbag and a watch for a post-dinner auction. Tickets are $1,000 (!); more information can be had from Michael Hughes at 305.535.2602 or

If it's some local flavor you want, try one of Chef Douglas Rodriguez's venues, each of which takes a slightly different spin on contemporizing Latin American cuisines: Ola at the Sanctuary Hotel, the most pan-Latin of his restaurants (and also the closest to the Convention Center); De Rodriguez Cuba (my De Rodriguez review), in the Astor Hotel, for updated versions of Cuban classics; or the newly opened and seafood-focused De Rodriguez Ocean, on the south end of Ocean Drive. Or for something more casual and funky, there's Tap Tap, South Beach's only Haitian restaurant.

But if you want to really want to do South Beach like a local, consider a few more options: Altamare (my Altamare review), on the quiet western end of Lincoln Road (across Alton Road), is a local seafood specialist, and the menu has gotten more interesting and diverse since Michael's Genuine alum Simon Stojanovic took over the kitchen. Indomania (my Indomania review) is a hidden gem of a place, just a little bit north of South Beach proper on 26th Street, but worth the trek for their fun, flavorful Dutch-Indonesian food (the rijsttafels come with more than a dozen different dishes). And if you're up late and hungry, you'll be better off ignoring Anthony Bourdain's recommendation of T-Mex Cantina (f/k/a San Loco); it's not his fault, I'm sure he just had one too many at Club Deuce and his judgment was impaired. Instead, head over to the The Alibi, tucked away in Lost Weekend, a divey bar on Española Way, for their Philly Cheese Steak (on an authentic Amoroso roll) or a shrimp po'boy, with a side of hand-cut fries with Ranch Dust (open till 5am).

(continued ...)

Monday, November 22, 2010

This Little Piggy Went to P.I.G.

It's hard for me to believe it's been a year since the inaugeral "P.I.G." (Pork Is Good) event, a celebration of all things porcine by Chef Jeremiah, pilot of the gastroPod. Indeed, a year ago, there wasn't even a gastroPod yet: just a hard-working chef with the slightly crazy-sounding idea of retrofitting a vintage Airstream trailer with a 21st century kitchen, and bringing Miami some creative but budget-friendly mobile food.[*] We had some good stuff that day: chicharrones, banh mi trotter tacos, pork belly Cuban sandwiches, East meets South pulled pork char shiu bao, home-made hot dogs, a whole roasted pig done in the Caja China, and some moonshine/black cherry cocktails to wash it all down. Some of those items, in one form or another, eventually became gastroPod menu items.

With nearly a year of trucking under his belt, Chef Jeremiah put on the "second annual" P.I.G. event this weekend, at GAB Studio in Wynwood. Though I only had a short time to run in and out and would have liked to have stayed longer, I did get a quick sampling of this year's P.I.G.-fest.

prosciutto and melon

"Prosciutto and Melon" was actually not prosciutto, but rather some country ham from Allan Benton, paired with a cold and vividly flavored melon gelée. Benton's hams, produced in Madisonville, Tennessee and aged between nine months and a year or more, are a ridiculously delicious product and a real treat.

tongue in cheek

"Tongue in Cheek" was a, well, tongue in cheek take on tongue, and, y'know, cheek. Here, "tongue" = beef tongue, "cheek" = pork cheek, and the unifying inspiration for the flavors was a tongue sandwich from a New York deli. The meats - the tongue thinly sliced, the cheek in a heftier slab - were layered over a slice of pumpernickel bread, with a bright purple slaw and a squirt of deli mustard over the top, and pickled okra standing in for the classic pickle on the side. It was enough to get you thinking that what Jewish delis need is perhaps more pork products.

(continued ...)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Great Moments in Food Truck Tweets

It's nice to see the spirit of cooperation overcome any rivalry among South Florida's food truckers:

Grillers stick together, I guess.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Good Food Good Cause x2

Some upcoming events of note that should offer some good food and the chance to do some good, too:

Ceviche Throwdown - October 17

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill is playing host to a "Ceviche Throwdown" to benefit Friends of the Fishermen, a non-profit organization set up by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to assist Louisiana fishermen impacted by the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Competing for the title of Ceviche King (or Queen) will be Sugarcane's chef Timon Balloo, Douglas Rodriguez (Ola, De Rodriguez Cuba and the newly opened De Rodriguez Ocean), Andrea Curto-Randazzo (Water Club), Tim Andriola (Timo), Philip Bryant (Norman's 180), Jonathan Eismann (Fin), Kris Wessel (Red Light), Bernard Matz (Books & Books), Juan Chipoco (Cvi.che 105), Dena Marino (formerly Devito South Beach) and Clay Conley (formerly Azul and soon-to-be Buccan). Tickets ($40) can be purchased at the Miami Wine Fair website.

Ceviche Throwdown @
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
3250 NE 1st Avenue, Miami
October 17, 3pm-6pm

Food Truck Battle / Wine on Harvest Moon
Deering Estate Fundraiser - October 23

The next week, two of Miami's mobile chefs take their trucks to the Deering Estate to duel it out as part of the Deering Estate Foundation's annual "Wine on Harvest Moon" fundraiser. The gastroPod will be facing off against Jefe's Original. Each will be cooking some of their regular specialties (including Chef Jeremiah's Mo' Better Burger and Jefe's Ensenada Style Fish Tacos), but also will be facing a secret ingredient challenge. And as they say on TV, "But that's not all ..." The evening also offers the Florida debut of Deering Wines, a Sonoma winery founded by descendants of the Deering McCormick family. There will also be more food samples from Bizcaya at the Ritz-Carlton, Anacapri, Smith & Wollensky, Sawa, Kaliapy's, Delicias del Mundo, Wendy's Chocolates, Donna's Delights, and Sugar Shack. Tickets ($90, $75 for members, VIP $175, $150 for members) are available at the Deering Estate website or by calling 305.235.1668, x263.

Food Truck Battle / Wine on Harvest Moon
@ Deering Estate
16701 SW 72nd Avenue, Miami
October 23, 7:30pm-10:30pm

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Return of the Truck Party - Dim Ssam a Gogo, Jefe's Original

The last time we mentioned a "truck party" here, it was a two-part taste test featuring the gastroPod and Latin Burger. That was more than half a year ago, and since then several more food trucks have started up operations in Miami. In fact, the twitter list of South Florida food trucks I've compiled now numbers more than twenty, though not all of those are in regular circulation (and conversely, there are others who shun contemporary social media such as Twitter in favor of - I don't know, paper cups and string?). As I mentioned Friday, several of the food trucks were gathered in Haulover Marina Park on Saturday for the South Florida Dragon Boat Festival, and I stopped by for some more samples. There was not much in the way of dragon boats actually racing when we were there at mid-day, but there was some good eating.

One of the newest trucks on the block is the Dim Ssäm à Gogo truck from Sakaya Kitchen. Chef Richard Hales has been doing a fantastic job at Sakaya putting out creative, vibrantly flavored, Korean-influenced food (my raves over his "Dim Ssam Brunch" and the regular menu have already appeared here), and the Dim Ssäm à Gogo takes that show on the road (I think I've now officially used up every corny "street"-related reference). On board, Chef Richard Hales is offering a nice short-form sampling of items from the restaurant menu, both some "greatest hits" (Korean Fried Chicken, Honey Orange Ribs) and a grab-bag of other creations.

Family Frod split some KFC, a "K-Dog," and some "Covered & Chunk'd Tots."

(continued ...)

Friday, October 1, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

How about some actual Miami foodstuffs as a palate cleanser between all these Spain updates?  A couple particular items of note:

The South Florida Dragon Boat Festival at Haulover Park is always a fun excuse to spend the day outside by the water, but this Saturday (10/2/10) it will offer the additional, significant bonus of a gathering of some of our city's finest food trucks (many of which I've personally not yet had the good fortune to try). You'll find Sakaya Kitchen's Dim Ssäm à Gogo, La Camaronera's Fish Box, Latin Burger, Jefe's Original, and Wing Commander. The festival runs 9am - 5pm, but I'm not sure all the trucks will be there for all that time.

South Florida Dragon Boat Festival
Haulover Beach Park Marina
10800 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
Saturday October 2 9am - 5pm

And another thing:

Chef Douglas Rodriguez's latest venture, De Rodriguez Ocean, in the Hilton Bentley on South Beach, opens this coming Thursday. We got something of a sneak peak at the oceanfront venue and D-Rod's ceviche stylings at our last Cobaya dinner, but now it's for real. Here's a look at the menu, courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

De Rodriguez Ocean
101 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL
Opening Thursday October 7

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

PODZILLA! Cobaya Dinner

The last Cobaya event at Bourbon Steak was a pretty posh affair: beautiful long wood table, glowing candles, fine china, elegant plating. This latest one? Not so much. Coming together somewhat at the last minute, this one put together Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog, and his gastroPod (a mobile 21st century kitchen built into a shiny vintage 1962 Airstream trailer), with Chefs Kurtis Jantz and Chad Galiano, the masterminds of the Paradigm dinner series who cooked up Cobaya Gras a few months ago. Was it a bit rough around the edges? Perhaps. Was it rather steamy eating outdoors, even with a breeze blowing in off Biscayne Bay? Well, I finally stopped sweating about an hour ago. Did we eat some great food? Yes, and that's really what it's all about.

Lining up at the gPod

Our venue for the evening was Harvey's by the Bay, a bare-bones, divey bar in the back of the Harvey Seeds American Legion Post off Biscayne Boulevard and 64th Street. It was a somewhat fitting location given our theme, which was to celebrate American (loosely speaking, anyway) street foods. Given the chefs' propensity to tweak and fluency with contemporary techniques, I knew we could also expect some interesting twists. Here's the menu for the evening:

The event even felt a bit like a genuine street food experience, as Chef Jeremiah served everyone from the gPod, and Chefs Kurtis and Chad (and Mike Marshall, the zen master of fried chicken) did their service either right off the grill, or from a covered otudoor bar in Harvey's spacious backyard looking out on Biscayne Bay. I forgot my camera and so you'll instead have to put up with a few goofy "Hipstamatic" pictures I took on my iPhone, though you'll find better pictures and more recaps at Tinkering With Dinner, or a chef's-eye view from Chef Chad at Chadzilla.

Updated: another recap with lots of pics here at Wokstar.

(continued ...)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Truck Party! (Part II) - gastroPod

I told you, Starbury, it's not that kind of truck party. Go back to China. Anyway, as I drove south on Biscayne Boulevard, it gleamed like a shining beacon from a block east: the gastroPod! The gastroPod is Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog's mobile foodmobile, a converted 1962 Airstream trailer retrofitted with a high-tech kitchen to crank out some gourmet street eats. I got a preview sampling of some of the gastroPod menu at a Cobaya event we did a couple months ago, but this was my first chance to actually pay a visit to the Silver Submarine.

Though the gastroPod was set up near Biscayne Boulevard and 18th Street for the day, the vintage Airstream trailer would fit right in along the more northerly stretch of Biscayne whose "Miami Modern" architecture earned it the designation as the Biscayne Boulevard Historic District. The guts of the gastroPod, though are completely 21st century.

Along one side is a station rigged for an immersion circulator for sous vide cooking (he's got one running with room for more); along the other is a CVap Cook and Hold oven, another wonder of contemporary technology that uses a combination of air and vapor heat to hold foods at specific temperatures without drying out or overcooking. Eventually a couple CVap warming drawers will be installed underneath the area set up for the grill.

So what's Chef Jeremiah doing with all this new-fangled technology? Here's the menu:

Having already had a burger at Latin Burger, I went in a different direction with gastroPod and started with the "Old Dirty Dawg."

No ordinary hot dog, this one is home-made of beef short rib which is ground, stuffed into a wide casing, and then smoked. It is just loaded with flavor, and has a nice snap and a good meaty bite to it. Chef Jeremiah gives it a shmear of mustard "if you're nice" and then tops it with "stupid slaw," which Chef told me has "something like ten different ingredients." I couldn't figure out ten, but I could detect at least a couple different kinds of cabbage, carrots, possibly some beets (though it could have been red cabbage), possibly some red pepper, all with a lightly vinegared tang and whiffs of spice (turmeric giving the cabbage a neon-yellow hue?). The slaw was the perfect contrast to the smokey dawg, and I liked the Martin's potato bun too which was soft without being mushy.

Truck Party! (Part I) Latin Burger & Taco

Sorry for the confusion, Mr. Marbury - not that kind of truck party. No, we're talking mobile food trucks, which of late have been establishing a foothold in Miami. This Friday a couple of the new additions - gastroPod, from Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog, and Latin Burger & Taco Truck, from Food Network personality Ingrid Hoffman, set up shop in close proximity to each other, and a food truck tour was in order.

My first visit was to Latin Burger, which was camped out off Miami Avenue and 34th Street near Midtown. I managed to drive by twice before spotting the truck in the back of a parking lot behind a furniture store between 34th & 35th Streets, and I felt a bit like Tommy Vercetti trying to hunt down a target in Grand Theft Auto Vice City.

With truck found, I took a look at the menu, which is short and to the point:

You can get a "Latin Macho" burger, or a selection of tacos - chicken tomatillo, chicken mole or pulled pork. You can also add "Plain Jane" fries if you wish. I went with the "Latin Macho" burger and skipped the fries, knowing I was saving some room for a further stop at gastroPod.

The burger uses a grind of chuck, sirloin and chorizo, and while it doesn't taste specifically like chorizo, it is a meaty, well-salted burger with a subtle backbone of spice that probably comes from the sausage in the mix. They use the double-patty approach like that employed by Five Guys, which starts to make up for the decision to cook all burgers medium-well (though not completely). The burger is topped with melted Oaxaca cheese, caramelized onions and jalapeños, all tucked within a soft sesame-seed studded bun. It is an excellent combination of toppings - creamy melted cheese, a lightly sweet-salty touch from the onions backed up with a little heat from the jalapeños - enough elements to give some flavor variety, not so many as to overwhelm.

Though the menu says the burger comes with either "avocadolicious sauce" or red pepper mayo, it in fact came with neither - though another customer had the good idea to ask for the sauces, which were available in squeeze bottles. I topped the last quarter of my burger with some of the "avocadolicious sauce" - a thick, lightly creamy avocado puree - and it completed the package very nicely.

This was a very good burger - maybe not as good as the one I had recently at Burger & Beer Joint (even if I screwed up by ordering one with too many goofy toppings there), but comparable to - naw, better than - a Five Guys burger; similar in style, but with the added bonus of more exotic and interesting flavors to the burger and the toppings (and at a comparable price).

It is worth hunting down this truck if it's in your neighborhood.

Next - a shiny object beckons - the gastroPod!

Latin Burger & Taco Truck
on twitter: @LatinBurger