November 24, 2011

Chez Panisse

Alice Water’s restaurant has been a fixture in the Bay Area since its opening in 1971.  Alice’s philosophy is that “cooking should be based on the finest and freshest ingredients that are produced locally and sustainable.”  Her philosophy has helped spawn the Slow Food Movement which promotes and celebrate local artisanal food traditions.  This global movement has continued to grow and now has over 100,000 members in 130 countries.

Through a stroke of luck, and the determination of my step-mother, we were able to get reservations for the Monday night rustic three-course fixed dinner.  The restaurant is broken up into two sections: the Cafe and the restaurant down-stairs.  The cafe serves similar fare to its more prestigious counterpart, however, at a more modest price.

Our meal started off with a Lobster Salad with belgian endives and Meyer Lemon.  The salad had originally  been advertised with local dungenesss crab, however due to the fisherman strike lobster was substituted for the dungeness crab.  The salad was amazingly fresh and the ingredients popped individually although I felt that the bitterness of the endive overpowered the delicate soft flavors of the other ingredients – especially the lobster.

Our second course was the Maiale arrosto con mostarda di cotogna: spit-roasted Llano Seco Ranch pork loin with polenta, roasted vegetables, and quince mostarda.  This dish was absolutely fantastic and really showcased the natural sweetness of the pork loin by simmering cherries and rasins into the sauce.  The pork was very juicy and fell apart in my mouth.  The polenta and the roasted vegetables provided a subtle backdrop to showcase the complexity of the pork loin and rib.  My mouth waters when thinking back on the meal.

The dessert consisted of a pear-pomegranate and orange sherbets with Prosecco gelee.  It provided a great finish to the meal as the trapped Prosecco bubbles in the gelee cleansed my palate.  The sherbet was delicious as well and its lightness was much appreciated as my stomach was getting close to its limit.

One area the Chez Panisse feel short, surprisingly, was in the communication of their mission to their guests.  I would have greatly appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the food and why supporting the slow food movement is important.  Had we walked off the street knowing nothing of the restaurant we would have dined and left that way as well.  Even the freshly printed menu did not take advantage of the fact that it had the readers attention to plant the Slow Food Movements ideals.  The staff really missed an opportunity to expand our food IQ.  If Chez Panisse is not openly talking about their food philosophy than who is?

Overall my experience at Chez Panisee was great – from the beautiful kitchen to the friendly staff.  Everyone should eat at Chez Panisse at least once  – 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709 – as it truly does showcase local ingredients at their most delicious – whether you know the ingredients are local are not.

November 23, 2011

Postino

Anatra - Pan Roasted Duck

Carr Jones designed this charming restaurant in Lafayette California.  Jones who died in 1965 was known throughout Northern and Southern California as one of the premier storybook builders.  Postino is a great example of his work as you dine in dimly lit rooms amongst beautiful fireplaces and slate floors.  The setting evokes images of traveling throughout Europe, discovering not only great food but inspiring architecture.  It is truly a special place – not to mention the food is brilliant. Stewart Beatty, Executive Chef and born and bred local, delivers some fantastic dishes that compete with the beautiful setting to overwhelm your senses.

Our meal started off with the Insalata Di Cavolleti, brown butter brussel sprouts with warm pears, toasted hazelnuts and shaved pecorino, which highlighted Chef Beatty’s use of fresh local ingredients.  Chef Beatty strives to use sustainable ingredients throughout his menu and this first dish hit it out of the park.  Along with the Insalata Di Cavolleti I ordered the Insalata Mela – seasonal mixed greens with shaved apples, celery, creamy gorgonzola dressing and candies walnuts.  This dish, although delicious, lacked the “stinky” cheese kick that I was hoping for.  Maybe its just me but when I see this veined Italian blue cheese I want it to be pungent.

Now for the main event – a pan roasted duck breast over herb spaetzle, garlic duck sausage and grilled scallions with a stone mustard duck glace.  As this dish was placed in front of me a huge smile crept onto my face as I realized the utter joy that I was about to experience.  The smells were intoxicating: the mustard glace enhanced the salty nutty flavor of the breast meat while the heady smell of the garlic duck sausage provided a formidable undertone for the entire dish.  The herb spaetzle was a nice neutral base and best described as a knopfle style spaetzle – little pellet sized morsels of fresh dough.  Other dishes that graced our table included: Melanzana Parmigiana, crisp eggplant parmesan with marinara, grilled zucchini, balsamic molassa and EVOO; Papardelle, ribbons of fresh pasta with pork sugo and reggiasno cheese and last but not least the Spada, pan roasted swordfish with smokehouse almonds, golden raisins and rosemary butter over garlic whipped potatoes.

I love restaurants that make an immediate impression leaving you wanting more.  I can not wait for another excuse to dine at this amazing culinary gem.  I can’t think of a better setting to enjoy friends and family east of the Caldecott Tunnel – 3565 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549.

November 19, 2011

The Griddle Cafe – WOW!

I lived in LA for a little under five years while in college at USC and during that time the City of Angels provided me many excellent dining experiences.  My last trip to LA, for USC’s homecoming game, gave me a little taste/reminder of what my college years were like – late nights, binge drinking and The Griddle Cafe.

The Griddle Cafe is a popular hangout in West Hollywood that often has a line out the door and around the block – Monday at 11am provided us with a 20 minute wait.  As my stomach turned with thoughts of the previous two night’s escapades my taste buds surprisingly started salivating at the smell of pancakes wafting through the open front door.  I would have waited any amount of time to get a taste of what was creating that smell – and I did.  45 minutes later we were sitting down getting our first cup of freshly pressed coffee.

One of my finest memories of The Griddle Cafe in college was the greasy spoon “Chili My Soul” that they served up daily.  Chili My Soul is not an authentic Griddle dish as they import around 10 different chilis per day from Encino.  These chilis range from vegetarian to full on carnivore with a scale of spice that ranges from 1 to 10.  Chef Randy Hoffman, owner of Chili My Soul, was often seen at The Griddle Cafe hob-nobbing with the patrons and trying to convince them to take on the Demon – his spiciest chili made with 6 of the World’s hottest peppers.  I was distraught, to say the least, when I found out that in the past 8 years Chef Hoffman had passed away and in tribute to his life The Griddle Cafe was no longer selling chili – of any kind.  Rest in peace Chef Hoffman – your contributions to our palate will be greatly missed.

The Griddle Cafe did not skip a beat though and my mind started racing around the menu driven by my stomach’s desire to get something into it.  As I reviewed some of the classic pancakes like The Teacher’s Pet, three buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon apples baked in, or the Yellow Brick Road, butterscotch with walnuts and carmel, I decided to try something new – three lemon raspberry stuffed pancakes.  Examine the picture closely as words can not describe how delicious the experience was.  My friends and I also shared an egg dish called Chicago Charlie’s Scramble – delicious as well.  The Griddle Cafe definitely gives you bang for your buck.  All three of us ate off two dishes and could not get even close to finishing them.

As I stumbled out of the restaurant, stuffed to the brim, I realized how much I appreciated The Griddle Cafe staying strong and providing me access to a time machine every time I visit my alma mater.  If you are ever in West Hollywood stop by and give it a try – 7916 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90046 – you won’t regret it!  Now all I need to do is figure out how to stock plates big enough to serve these pancakes on le truc!

December 13, 2010

le truc Open in SOMA!

Hugh and I are proud to announce that le truc is officially open in SOMA at 470 Brannan Street (4th & Brannan).  We are open for lunch between the hours of 11:30am-2:30pm Monday-Friday.  Later this week we will add a breakfast service from 7:00am-9:30am.  So far lunch has been a blast and we have been selling out almost every day!  If you want to taste our famous organic chicken meatball sandwich and extreme gingerbread cookies you better come see us before 1:00pm.   

We have also launched the first version of eatletruc.com.  The website features links to all of our social media as well information as to how to find our location and book le truc for private parties and events.  Please go check it out and let us know what you think.  As soon as our POS (point-of-sale) is finished we will be adding a link that will allow you to order directly from the website.  

Over the Thanksgiving holidays we were finally able to get the bus painted black.  It has been a long time coming and we are stoked about the way that it turned out.  The bus has a beautiful vintage feel and the color combo goes perfectly with the inside copper and bronze.  Please visit our website for finished pictures of the interior and exterior of the bus.

Thank you SOMA for the warm welcome over the past two weeks.  We will work hard to continue to provide a variety of great food options at reasonable prices.  We appreciate your support and look forward to meeting everyone that comes to visit le truc.

September 14, 2010

le truc Now Open!

le truc is finally open for business! Our grand opening at Eat Real went as well as we could have hoped – even with the bus still painted yellow. The turnout at the festival was huge, it was great to see so many Bay Area residents showing up in support of street food. We were lucky to get a great spot at the event and sold close to 1,000 meals in 2 days.

We have also been participating in Matt Cohen’s Off The Grid events. These weekly street truck and cart events draw thousands of people to the Upper Haight and Fort Mason while providing a great opportunity for venders to proove that restaurant quality food can in fact come from a street truck kitchen. The word is out and people are flocking to see what’s next.

A new era of street food has begun. Come visit us this Thursday and Friday at Off The Grid to see for yourself – if you want the full experience come sample our five course chef’s menu in le truc’s private dining room. Visit our Facebook page for booking information. We hope to see all of you there!

July 27, 2010

The stainless steel wings!

The mulititalented “jeweler at large” gary anthony, my high school roommate and known most recently for his stunning beach glass pieces, will be fabricating the stainless steel wings for our side emblems (yes, this will be more than a 2D biz-card graphic: we will have these mounted on the side of the bus!)

July 20, 2010

Street food made simple with twitter!

San Francisco street food can be made simple with twitter. If your feeling hungry just log into twitter and check out the location of your favorite street food vendor.  Eat Le Truc is on twitter follow us @eatletruc, you will be able to find our location and specials all on twitter. If you are a street food fan here is an article with some more information on street food vendors on twitter – http://current.newsweek.com/budgettravel/2010/01/san_francisco_street_food_made.html

Hope you enjoy! See you at Le Truc in August!

July 14, 2010

School Lunch Programs Must Be Reformed! (posted by Blake Tally)

Do you remember what you were served for lunch in elementary school? I do, and it did not include potato pearls!  It is a shame that children, most of whom already struggle to find responsible role models, have to look up to a lunch lady (most likely the only “chef” they know) that reheats potato like substances and calls them nutritious.  What type of example does that set for children?

I know that I have abused le truc’s mission statement by repeating it every time I blog – you cannot live a healthy lifestyle without having access to healthy food at a price you can afford.  Jamie Oliver is on to something and I know that it is going to take more than a reality show to change the tide.  I recently read an article that broke down the current food budgets allocated to most school lunch programs – $1.63 per child per day!  I will give anyone reading this blog a lifetime supply of free food at le truc if you can bring me a healthy lunch supporting the five basic food groups for this price.

This fight starts at home by helping parents to become better role models to their children – serve vegetables at dinner, include their children when they go grocery shopping (teach them why items on the their list are included in the five basic food groups), identify harmful products and explain why they are bad and last but not least be a good example by exercising portion control and eating well balanced meals – anyone remember the clean plate club?  Child obesity is a huge problem in the United States and is something we need to correct as many adult health problems like congestive heart failure, breast cancer and pulmonary embolism occur due to poor eating habits.

Hugh and I understand the importance of this issue and want to help fight the good fight.  Please join us by going to your children’s school district and asking them what they plan to do about this problem.  With budget cuts looming it is only a matter of time before we see physical education programs disappear, if they have not already, taking away one of the best avenues for educating elementary school children about the importance of daily exercise and healthy eating.  Stand up to your school board and demand that they become accountable for solving these problems.  Please read the following article and sign Jamie Oliver’s petition to help do your part.

July 9, 2010

Second Annual Eat Real Street Food Festival in Oakland, CA!

Attention Bay Area Foodies – check-out the following article for more information on the Eat Real Street Food Festival.  le truc wants to thank the dedicated team at Eat Real for putting together such an important event!  Creating sustainable healthy food choices is the wave of the future and le truc’s mission!  You can’t live a healthy lifestyle without access to affordable healthy food choices.

http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/2967

July 8, 2010

Le Truc’s Construction in Full Swing! (posted by Blake Tally)

le truc construction is in full swing!  Hugh and I spent the first part of this week working hand-in-hand with our manufacturer, Armenco, down in LA.  Armenco is one of the premier custom truck builders on the West Coast and we are confident that the truck is going to look amazing when completed.  Imagine our grand opening at the Eat Real Street Food Festival – 34 box van taco trucks with our beautiful bus looming over them.  Which food truck would entice you more?

Armenco is currently installing the sub-frame to support all of the kitchen equipment.  The interior skeleton, built out of steel tube, is required as the exterior skin of the truck is not designed to sustain the weight that we are adding to the frame.  This is a time consuming project but they are making great strides and hope to be able to start installing the steam table, refrigerators, fryer and griddle early next week.  Royal Range is supplying the equipment and through a partnership with Hugh have designed a professional grade series that is specifically designed for street food trucks – an industry first.

We also met with Albert Lara, one of LA’s premier custom interior installers, who showed us leather samples and a few mock-ups of what the interior will look like.  The finish out in our truck is going to be a mixture of wood and leather with flame-treated copper walls and brass accents.  le truc will be different than any other vehicle currently operating in our industry as we have interior seating to promote our customers’ ability to interact personally with our executive chef in a beautifully designed space.

We also met with our lead programmer, Jonathan Ibera, regarding our customer facing POS system.  The system that we are creating will allow our customers to quickly and efficiently order from either a touch-screen mounted to the side of the truck or from their mobile phones or personal computer.  This system will allow us to access neighboring consumers without having to move the vehicle to a new location.  The touch screen design, spearheaded by graphic design guru Bryan Pape of Red 11 Designs, is progressing quickly towards a finished product and looks amazing.

Stay tuned for more blog posts.  We look forward to seeing all of you at our Grand Opening August 27th-29th at Oakland’s Eat Real Street Food Festival!

 

 

 

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