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Foodie in training. Currently focusing on my senior year curriculum, so there have not been recent posts. Please peruse previous posts for recommendations!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mmm biscuits... - Biscuits + Groovy

WHO doesn't crave biscuits on a Sunday morning? (Especially after a late night of Halloween festivities?)

A couple weeks back I wanted to grab breakfast, but didn't feel like heading out of the comfort of my sweet Hyde Park surroundings. So, I did a quick Yelp search of "food trailer 78751" and the third listing down was "Biscuits + Groovy." I remembered that seasoned writer and foodie, Addie Broyles, had recommended the trailer via Twitter a few weeks back when I was looking for new trailers to try. A top recommendation plus a food trailer specializing in BISCUITS makes for a required visit.

We parked and were hit in the face by the smell of biscuits baking across the street (the Biscuits + Groovy site recommends you park in the Snappy Mart parking lot on the other side of 51st).

I tried to take pictures, but my phone wanted to take ultra-bright shots. I think it wanted to give an ethereal aura to the pictures because the biscuits were that good.

The menu has cute musically-inspired names for all the different biscuit plates- The Johnny Hash, The Gloria Gaynor, The M.C. Hammer - to name a few.

I decided on the M.C. Hammer because I was a little short on cash and it was only $4 for a biscuit, scrambled eggs, cheese and vegan bacon, I got white gravy on the side because I've never been a huge smother-your-food-in-gravy person. I went with the vegan bacon because I was trying to be a little healthier, but didn't like it so much. Unless you're vegan or vegetarian, I say just go with the real thing.

The scrambled eggs were fluffy and the cheddar cheese hit the spot. I took it easy on the gravy, I just wasn't feeling it that morning. The biscuit was lovely! It was warm, soft and had just the right amount of saltiness. It reminded me of the biscuits you'd get an authentic mom 'n pop comfort-food joint.

Again, the over-bright picture reflects the heavenly goodness.

I went back to Biscuits & Groovy the following Sunday because I didn't feel like I had fully experienced the groove of the trailer. (Sorry pun felt necessary.)

This time I went all out and ordered the Johnny Hash, vegan style. It comes with THREE halved, perfect biscuits, potatoes, (vegan) sausage, (vegan) bacon,(vegan) brown gravy, sprinkled with (vegan) cheddar cheese and chives on top . I think the biscuits alone make the meal, but the hash was pretty good.

Photo cred: @saholas

I don't know why I went with the vegan again against my own advice because I think the real deal tastes so much better. I know because I sampled my (clearly smarter) friend's dish. She ordered the orginial, Biscuits + Groovy with 3 halved biscuits, sausage, white pepper gravy and chives. The white gravy is ridiculous and I liked the real sausage better than the vegan. NOTE - I wouldn't recommend eating the whole boat of biscuits in one sitting because you'll leave feeling pretty heavy. We learned this lesson the hard way.

The wait at the trailer can be a little long, but just bring along your own coffee, sit back, sing along to ABBA and people watch. Time will fly.

Also, it seems like a pretty popular place for families with young kids. There were several cute moms wiping jelly off faces and dads in band tees sharing the perfect-for-sharing plates with the young'ins.

My overall recommendation is to not come starving because there WILL be a wait, order the real thing (if it's not against your food-lifestyle choices) and bring along a pal so you can try different dishes, toppings and fillings!

What's your favorite breakfast or brunch place around Austin? Comment below or tweet me, so I can try 'em out!

Biscuits + Groovy is off 51st and Duval, across the street from Snappy Mart. They offer vegetarian and vegan options. And they recycle! Hours are M-F 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and S&S 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

UPDATE: Since writing this, a friend of mine went to Biscuits + Groovy with her boyfriend when he came in town and my neighbor brought his parents when they visited from Wisconsin. They all raved about it! I love when friends help friends find good food. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gypsy Picnic 2011

Bringin' the gypsy to the picnic

If you got to experience Gypsy Picnic this year, yay! I hope you ate your fill of the variety of trailer food and enjoyed the amazing weather. If you went to last year’s Gypsy Picnic and tried it out again this year, WASN’T IT 50,000X BETTER?

The harsh, but true criticism of the first-ever Gypsy Picnic in 2010 was heeded and the attendees benefitted. I was thoroughly impressed by C3’s improvements to the festival: the area blocked off at Auditorium shores seemed twice as big as last year, the number of trucks increased and the vendors were more prepared overall.

This year I had the chance to work behind-the-scenes at the festival at The Peached Tortilla. If you’ve read my posts (and there isn’t an overabundance of them...yet) you should know that I’m madly in love with the Banh Mi taco and all other things ‘peached.’ So basically I felt like I was getting to work backstage on the set of one of my favorite TV shows!

"I'm a peach head!"

Being on the inside of the truck – or in Gypsy Picnic’s case, on the other side of the table – was such an amazing experience! I got to talk to so many cool people and tell hundreds of hungry folks that they should buy one of my favorite foods in Austin. And man, were we churning out some tacos!

I parted ways with the peached crew around 2 p.m., but not before having a banh mi taco, BBQ brisket taco and szechwan veggie taco. I have no shame. The Szechwan veggie was new to me and caught me off guard with how spicy it was. The eggplant, red bell pepper and onions blended well with the black bean garlic sauce, tofu and pickled daikon slaw. I don’t think anything will top the banh mi taco for me though.

After happily stuffing my face, I wandered out to the center of the park to try to decide where I wanted to go with my $20 in ‘research funds.’

My first stop was Short Bus Subs because I saw on Twitter that it was one of their peeps' birthday and I have never been out to visit the trailer at Mueller Park. Eric, the birthday boy and one of the three co-owners and brothers who runs the bus, traded my birthday wish for a sub!

The Short Bus

I sampled The Hot Teacher, a veggie sub with roasted portabella mushroom, red pepper, sun-dried tomato pesto, mozzarella, cheddar and fresh sun dried tomatoes. I was honestly surprised with how good the sub was. I mean subs are subs, but I think it was the sun-dried tomato pesto and freshly baked from scratch bread that made it.

My second stop was East Side King, the fan favorite winner. A hippy-biker type recommended the Thai Chicken Karaage, but I opted for the Fried Brussels Sprout Salad. It was a unique combo of fried brussels sprouts, sweet and spicy sauce, shredded cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, basil, cilantro, mint, onion and jalapeño. The brussels sprouts were flavorful and not deep fried, just crispy enough. I’m not sure if it was the sweet and spicy sauce or the mint in the dish, but something triggered a coughing fit. I had to give up on the rest of the salad which was unfortunate because I really liked it!

East Side King
Left Thai Chicken Karaage, Right Fried Brussels Sprout Salad

I met up with some friends and we made our way over to Tenderland for the “battered” (aka deep fried) pork tenderloin sandwich. It was HUGE! I snagged a couple of bites of my friend’s sandwich and it was good, but a little too much fried sandwich for me. I think if they made the sandwich in a smaller portion it’d be better, but it’s not something I would seek out to buy.

Gypsy Michelle with her Austin-made craft beer and tenderloin sandwich.

I was getting full, but I had few more stops on my list. I powered through to give you more, fellow food truck lovers. I had planned on trying Ju Ju’s Kaboose, a Cajun/traditional Louisianan food trailer that I learned about for the first time in the Gypsy Picnic lineup. I loved the roving musicians that happened to be walking by as were waiting in line at Ju Ju’s, especially because they had a brass band sound that went along with the Cajun cuisine.

The roving jazz band!

Having roots in New Orleans I was really looking forward to trying the Crawfish Cornbread served up by Ju Ju herself…I was so disappointed. The cornbread was served in a cupcake sleeve with a spoon. You needed the spoon because it was so mushy you couldn’t eat it like normal crumbly corn bread. It lacked flavor overall and left me wishing I had a bottle of Crystal hot sauce to pour all over it. The Pork Poboy did look like the real thing (compared to some so-called poboys I've seen in Austin), but I was too full and also didn’t want to shell out $8 to try the foot long sub.

Ju Ju's Kaboose
Crawfish Cornbread

My last two samples before dessert were bites of each slice from Spartan Pizza. The Zeus, made with roasted garlic olive oil (something I don’t think I’ve ever tried, but loved!), bacon, spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella, was delicious, but was a little overtaken by the bacon. It seemed to be their rendition of a Margarita pizza. I really liked The Spartan with tomato sauce, green bell pepper, white onion, lots of fresh garlic and parmesan, and topped with red pepper flakes. People at the picnic had said that Spartan Pizza was better than Homeslice Pizza which is pretty much the only place that can get me out of the house for a pie. Though Spartan definitely gave 'em a run for their money, I think Homeslice still has a special place on my palette.

Van kissing eating a slice of The Zeus.

I ended on a high note with the Frozen Hot Chocolate from Holy Cacao. Holy chocolate was that shake amazing. I had planned on sharing it with a friend to try to compensate for all the calories I’d already consumed, but once I tasted that sucker I became very greedy. It was great when you were drinking it and at the end of each sip there was a punch of chocolate that stayed with you. Everyone I was with either bought or shared one after tasting it. Yeah, it was good.

Leah and I fighting over Holy Cacao's Frozen Hot Chocolate.

Overall, this Gypsy Picnic was a 500% improvement from last year. Lines were kept to three minutes or less at most spots, hardly anyone sold out before 5 p.m. and the $3 samples at every trailer made it easy to try a wide variety. AND I got to meet Tiffany Harelik of Trailer Food Diaries who I consider to be a total local celebrity.

Tiffany Harelik, Trailer Food Diaries author and co-creator of Gypsy Picnic and me squinting happily.

This food truck foodie left feeling happy, full and excited for next year's picnic.

Which trailer was your favorite? Did you try one of the dishes I did? Do you agree or disagree with my reviews? Was there something I missed that I need to hunt down around Austin? Leave a comment below and share your Gypsy Picnic experience with me!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eating under the evil eye: Mati Greek Trailer

I took my first trip to the Eastside Drive-in a two weeks ago looking for an eggy breakfast at The Local Yolk.
My friend and I were severely disappointed when we arrived to find the trailer closed! We had our hearts so set on egg sandwiches that we were just going to leave and head home to make our own. But we decided to look around first, after all it was my first time at a new food-trailer park!
We scanned the menus of the trailers there and decided to stay and try out Mati Greek Trailer.

I didn't snag a pic, but chef/owner Jason Rodis is a character. He's one of those people who makes me feel like I'm a step behind or missing out on the joke- in a good way. His passion about Greek cuisine shows through the enthusiastic and proud way he talks about his menu.

"I don't have a favorite...it's my menu!" he told me when I was trying to decide what to order.

I went with the chicken souvlaki pita for $6. (Should I admit here that I knew what souvlaki would taste like based on my favorite Pita Pit menu item? I love my Pita Pit!)
Souvlaki is traditionally a lamb dish, but can be prepared with other meats or just vegetables. At Mati you can order "pork, chicken, shrimp or mushrooms marinated in herbs and olive oil grilled then topped with red onions and tomatoes." The tzatziki sauce was excellent, not too oily and no mint from what I could tell.

The chicken was easy to slide off the skewer and the marinade made the meat juicy and tender. I liked the healthy portion of onions and tomatoes, but some shredded lettuce wouldn't have hurt.
My favorite part though was the pita! It reminded me of a homemade tortilla: it was soft, warm, and got extra attention from the tzatziki sauce. Mmm
Rodis' "125%" Greek heritage makes for authentic Greek dishes right in East Austin. I enjoyed my lunch and didn't walk away feeling like I had overindulged...that came later when I went for froyo.

Head over to Mati at the East Side Drive-in, 1001 East 6th street, Austin, TX 78702.
@MatiGRtrailer https://www.facebook.com/Mati.Greek.trailer

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival Line Up

The line up has just been announced for the 2011 Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival Line Up.

Can I just say how excited I am?! I'm exciteeeeeeeeeeeeeeed!

Though last year's festival was a bit of a disappointment for me, I'm giving this year a clean slate.

The event site boasts more trailers, a bigger space and live music. If you want to bring your pup along, in true Austin fashion, it's encouraged at the designated dog area. There's also a children's space for the little ones to run around with their trailer treats.

The Gypsy Picnic will be Saturday, October 22 from 11AM to 8PM at Auditorium Shores. Admission is FREE, but the grub isn't. Bring about $30 and you can try 10 different sample items! Every trailer has $3 sample meals, but bring a little extra if you want to have a bigger bite. Cash is recommended.

With 35 trailers attending, I think this is going to be a very expensive weekend for me.

See you gypsies there!

Which trailer do you plan on sampling?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Peached Tortilla Strikes Again

I recently found out that one of my former coworkers, Jess, is the brand manager/operations manager for The Peached Tortilla--my favorite ATX food truck!

So of course once I was off from work at 2 a.m. I walked down the street to Star Bar, where The Peached Tortilla hangs out Friday and Saturday nights, and indulged in a few sliders.

I've sought out the truck a handful of times and I've always gone with tacos. Jess basically told me when I ordered my usual Bánh Mì tacos that I was in fact getting the sliders. (You don't argue with the chef!)

According to Jess, and the string of orders coming in, the Bánh Mì sliders are one of the most popular items on the menu.

Bánh Mì is a traditional type of Vietnamese sandwich that has been growing in popularity recently. See the entire website dedicated to these little morsels on http://battleofthebanhmi.com/. They can be served in a variety of ways, but the original recipe is on a Vietnamese baguette inspired by the French.
The sandwich can be stuffed with BBQ pork, pork belly, headcheese, grilled chicken or tofu. The usual condiments include pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeño or chili peppers, mayonnaise and paté.

Founder Eric Silverstein got it just right with his Bánh Mì sliders. Served on sweet Hawaiian rolls with braised pork belly, pickled daikon and carrot salad, sriracha mayonnaise and cilantro. The sweetness of the roll in combination with the spicy sriracha mayo, sweet and sour salad, and juicy pork hit every taste bud on my tongue. Rarely do I have those moments of pure joy and astonishment with how good a meal can taste, but tasting this slider was one of those moments.

I also tried the BBQ brisket slider following the Bánh Mì. That was a big mistake because after the perfection of the first slider, the BBQ brisket was good, but paled in comparison. The BBQ brisket is also served on a sweet Hawaiian roll with creamy slaw, and peach barbecue sauce. I think it could use a little less creamy and a bit more sweet peached flavor.

Next time I track the trailer down I want to try their banana nutella wontons...just thinking about the combination of banana, peanut butter, chocolate and Mexican caramel sauce makes my mouth water. I'll make sure to let y'all know how it is!

Have you been to The Peached Tortilla? Which slider or taco is your favorite?

Have you had a momentous food tasting experience while in Austin? Leave a comment and fill me in, so I can get out there and try!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'm back! - Cazamance Mini-Review

Hello mobile-food lovers!

I've been MIA for a couple of months due to my summer travels. I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica for seven weeks this summer and food trucks are unheard of there. My host family actually seemed a little offended at the idea of buying food out of a truck (which is odd to me because señors walk around the little pueblos with food in freezer packs and sell out all the time).

Needless to say, no food-truck updates writing opps there. Here's a pic of my favorite meal my mama tica (host mom) made for me though. It's basically shredded chicken with lots of vegetables, but made with that Tica style of real butter and lots of spices. Oh, and don't forget the 'platanos maduros,' overripe plantains sauteed with butter and brown sugar. Delicioso.

Following my Costa Rica trip was my second summer stay in New Orleans with my family. The food-truck business is growing there, but Lucky Dog Hot Dogs has a Rotolo's Pizza-like monopoly on the French Quarter.

When I'm bartending there, I pretty much don't make it out of that .66 square miles to get to the food-trucks uptown. I did get to have a tasting of gourmet appetizers at one of Emeril Lagasse's restaurants: NOLA. A friend of mine's sister, Tina, is the sous chef and is one talented young cook. Let's just agree that I was on vacation from venturing out to do my mobile food research.

But, now I'm back in Austin and have no more excuses! It seems like over the last few months tons of new food-trucks have rolled out and I can't wait to try them all (within my college-student budget, of course).

My first mobile-food tastings this semester, were not at food-trailers per se, but at an outdoor, catered, American Red Cross fundraiser: A Taste for Something Good, sponsored by The Cupcake Bar, CTC Garden Venue and Texas Belles.

The event featured donation-based tastings, raffles, and a silent auction that benefited the people of Central Texas who lost their possessions and homes in the recent fires. The fundraiser was at this cool place off Cesar Chavez, the CTC Garden Venue. CTC is known for hosting charity events and as the hangout spot for Food Network star, Rachael Ray, during SXSW 2011. The event was a success and raised over $2,000 to be donated to the American Red Cross of Central Texas.

The CTC Garden Venue
I don't know any better excuse to indulge in some delicious food than for charity- especially one for fellow Texans. I sampled the nachos from Tacodeli first. The Puerco Borracho, pork braised in tequila and sherry, was little a heavy, but delicious nonetheless. The Queso Fresco required second-helpings from all my girlfriends and me. But really, it was some good stuff.

Tacodeli has a couple of locations (all brick and mortar restaurants) in South, North, and Central Austin. I called two locations to double check that they were not a food-trailer and the staff were super friendly and both people that answered the phone told me to come by ASAP for some "freaking awesome" and "totally good" breakfast tacos. I think I will be visiting soon not just to try what I expect to be some delicious breakfast tacos, but for the energetic atmosphere as well.

I also sampled Kellie's Kandies and Cookies - which have a unique flavor of spicy shortbread with a creamy fondant topping; Objects of Confection Double Chocolate and Irish Cream truffles that would've been a lot better if it hadn't been so hot outside; the enticing build-your-own cupcakes from The Cupcake Bar and some tasty mini-endive appetizer from the onsite-trailer Cazamance. Unfortunately, by the time I realized there was an actual food-trailer in the back I was full and only had room for the endive. I want to go back and sample more from the Cazamance West African menu.

Overall, the event was a good way for me to donate to a good cause, eat and get back into the swing of blogging.

I'll be at ACL manaña and have so many trailers I want to sample I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to watch any live music. I'll make it work. The post will probably be up next weekend, so look out!

If you went to ACL yesterday and have a recommendation of a trailer I should sample please let me know in a comment below!

By the way, here is the updated link for my feature on social media and Austin food-trucks. The other link brings you to an error page now and I know all of you want to be able to read it over and over again!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I'm like a real grown up writer, or something.

Remeber when I hinted about more details to come surrounding my interview with Peached Tortilla? Well, whether you read that post or not, good news! An article I wrote (and edited with the help of Professor Dave Junker) was chosen to be published to the Texas Advertising and Public Relations news page.

So, click below to check it out! Texas Advertising and Public Relations - NEWS

A special thanks to Jodi Bart of Tasty Touring and Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla for their time and contributing words.

Comments are welcome!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ahem..Introductions? - The Peached Tortilla

Let's just say I've been on a brief hiatus for the last few months. After studying for exams, stressing over exams, and actually taking exams, I couldn't bring myself to voluntarily put effort into writing anything. I know that maintaining a blog takes self discipline and hopefully it will be a discipline I can master. At least on my free time from 386346 other school commitments or when it's 3 a.m. and I can't fall asleep.

I went to New Orleans for a month to work over break, but a few days before I left Austin I fulfilled one of my desired food truck visits at The Peached Tortilla.

I saw via twitter (@peachedtortilla) that there was a lunch special at the trailer off 2nd and Colorado. I convinced my roommate to hop in the car and take a trip to the truck that I had somehow kept missing. The food and the service were exceptional.

I went after the Banh Mi taco on white corn because it had been the most highly recommended. And I loved it! The description of "Vietnamese braised pork belly, pickled daikon and carrot salad" intimidated me a little, but these new ingredients didn't scare my palate. The spicy sriracha mayo and cilantro pulled it all together as a taco that rivaled my beloved Torchy's Brush Fire.
I think my roommate ordered the BBQ Brisket taco with creamy slaw and smoke roasted peach bbq sauce. Mmmmmmmmmmm

Eric Silverstein, owner and founder of The Peached Tortilla, was a pretty laid back guy. He answered some questions I had for an article I was working on (more details on that to come) and even let me take his picture.

I need to make my way over to West Campus (where the truck is located most evening at Freewheeling Bicycles), so I can relive the Banh Mi and maybe try a slider or two.

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