Girls on Food

pop-up

The Traveling Speakeasy: LA’s Coolest Bar Takeover

Over the past few years, pop-up concepts in the food world have been picking up steam. Our very own Blogger and Bartender Christina Russo alongside Bartender Mark Moehle created The Traveling Speakeasy to bring craft cocktails into LA pop-up scene. I recently had the pleasure of checking out their first bar takeover at Pedaler’s Fork in Calabasas, CA.

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The Traveling Speakeasy creators Mark and Christina taking over Pedaler’s Fork.

First off, Pedaler’s Fork is a conceptually a unique restaurant to take over. In addition to being a restaurant with a full bar, they also have a coffee shop, bike shop, and a large outdoor area perfect for live music. When The Traveling Speakeasy takes over, they offer their own personal cocktail menu in addition to the restaurant’s drink and food menu, sort of like how The Bartender Company always offers their own spin on things when they take over the bar. Anyway, the regulars of Pedaler’s Fork get to try something new and a customer like me, who’s never been there, is exposed to both menus. I see the concept of a bar takeover being a fun way for a restaurant/bar to get new customers.

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Pretty Polly serving up an atmospheric folk rock.

The Traveling Speakeasy takeover on this night was teamed up with Kilbeggan Irish Whiskeys, so many of Kilbeggan Whiskeys were incorporated into their original cocktails. There was a fantastic acoustic, female led band, Pretty Polly, playing on the patio and there was a brand ambassador for Kilbeggan sampling all their Irish Whiskeys. Can this night get any cooler? See video here.

I’m a bit of lightweight when it comes to whiskeys, so I stuck with small tastes (I’m sure my Irish relatives are rolling in their graves). My favorite was their 2 Gingers Whiskey, and not just cause of my strawberry locks. 2 Ginger whiskey is very smooth, has that malty taste I expect from Irish Whiskey but has a slight sweetness. I could tell it would be great in a cocktail (I need mixers… I’m a total chick drinker). The Traveling Speakeasy then put that theory to the test, and I tried their O’Reilly’s Remedy.

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Christina and Mark concocting a liquor “caviar” for The O’Reilly’s Remedy.

The O’Reilly’s Remedy is 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey, Traveling Speakeasy’s own organic ginger black pepper honey syrup, fresh lemon and topped with Connemara caviar. I couldn’t resist a unique take on the classic Penicillin cocktail and was super intrigued by the idea of a whiskey caviar. As you can see above the Connemara is made into little gelatinous-like circular shapes, and that is the topping. It definitely met my girlie cocktail loving expectations, and I loved the smokiness from the black pepper honey syrup.

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The final product.

Pedalers forkI parked at the bar, ordered Hand Cut Kennebec Truffle Fries (with garlic aioli instead of ketchup) and got to know The Traveling Speakeasy a little better. It started as an idea of Mark and Christina’s when they were working together in a certain -ahem- nameless restaurant. This brainchild grew into a vision of cocktails and the culture surrounding them, without forgetting what bartending is all about; the customers. These two and their staff, make everyone feel welcome kick back and learn more about craft cocktails. They send out a very positive energy, not that stereotypical “LA Bartender and too cool to talk to you” vibe.

Mark TRSPMark comes from Louisville, Kentucky, the heart of bourbon country. After starting in the cocktail scene as a bartender at Giardina’s restaurant in Greenwood, MS, he worked his way up into management, implementing craft cocktails into Giardina’s. Some cocktails were so popular; they are still being served at the restaurant today. He then worked his way into the world of bar consulting. Now that he is in the LA market, you can find him creating cocktails at Pedaler’s Fork and also with The Traveling Speakeasy. Mark told me “seeing a trend of cocktail driven bars with zero personality, other then the libations makes us want to shake it up. The Traveling Speakeasy is about reinventing the modern bar experience, bringing back the old school neighborhood bartender who has a quick wit and tongue and marrying it with cocktails that innovate and push the envelope.”
TRSP1We all know Christina (two-time regional finalist for Diageo World Class, btw) cause she blogs with GOF but upon this visit, I learned how tough it is for a bartender coming from a corporate chain to get her foot in the door with a San Francisco craft cocktail bar. Chains do teach you organization and efficiency, which has certainly paid off, but it took her years of training with the best bartenders in SF before she could even work in a nicer bar. She and I are on common ground with the somewhat lacking LA scene. There are fantastic cocktails being created here, but a lot of the bartenders are lacking that in that personality that keeps you coming back to them. I can totally see Christina owning her bar some day and having innovative drinks and a rad staff. And I will be at this bar. Drinking. Maybe heavily…

The Traveling Speakeasy is available for bar takeovers, private events, consultations and looks to create their own products for bartenders by bartenders. Keep up with them on their Facebook page or their Instagram for their next event.

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Special thanks to photographer James Roddy for providing amazing images of this night!

Audrey’s Delights: Guilt-free Treats in LA

After 10 years, my foodie relationship with raw almonds has ended. They’ve been my go-to pre-workout snack, mid-day edger and dessert, but I just needed to move on. It’s not them, it’s me. One of my girlfriends who is up on Los Angeles healthy eats told me about Audrey’s Delights, so I checked out her website and had them delivered to me. Best. Decision. Ever.

Audrey’s Delights are sweet, petite, circular treats. They were created by model-turned-budding entrepreneur Audrey Chihocky. Audrey has been a foodie her whole life and recently decided to turn that hobby into something a little more lucrative.

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Audrey Chihocky

Each flavor is raw, vegan and gluten-free. They’re made with healthy ingredients straight out of Audrey’s kitchen. You can eat these before a workout like me, but they’re also perfect to carry in your purse or keep in your car for a pick-me-up.

Audrey's Delights
Top left: Trail Mix, Cashew Cookie Bottom left: Espresso Buzz, Peanut Butter Brownie

The most popular flavor is the trail mix and I can see why. It’s like having the best flavors of trail mix together in one bite. It has dried apricots, dried cranberries, flaxseed, oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and shredded coconut wrapped around it. This one is also nut free.

My personal favorite flavor is the cashew cookie. The classic vanilla flavor I associate cookies with is prominent and I love the nuttiness from the cashew. This also makes a great dessert when paired with a cup of coffee.

The espresso buzz adds a caffeinated kick to your snack. It’s flavored with Italian espresso, almond butter and has quinoa in it. This one has a softer texture, less chewy than the others.

The peanut butter brownie is great for those who love sweet and savory. This one for me has a more traditional “energy bar” flavor to it.

They also have a 3 week shelf life if you keep them in the fridge, 3 months if you keep them in the freezer (make sure to defrost 20 minutes for a softer texture). This is a fantastic local LA treat and they will be available for shipping soon. Keep an eye out on Audrey’s site for that info.

Check out: http://www.audreysdelights.com or if you’re in the Hollywood area, you can pick some up at Shred Juice, 8160 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046.

A Shucking Great Time: #summerwithWolfgang Clambake

The #summerwithwolfgang events by Wolfgang Puck Catering just got bigger and better. I’m not sure how they can top this one, but here’s to hoping they give it a shot. This event was held at the legendary Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The stadium was closed for this event and it was surreal to be in such a gigantic stadium without a crowd of people.

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Wolfgang Puck Catering and Legends Hospitality are partnering up to host private events at the Rose Bowl. There were demonstrations of how they would set up a party, including tours of the Rose Bowl, entertainment and the catering. Maybe someday Girls on Food will be so huge, we could host a party here.

Fellow Girl on Food Julieta and I started our tour in the Terry Donohue Pavilion with a couple of refreshing cocktails by The Cocktail Academy.

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Julieta had the breezy Strawberry Fix with gin, lemon, strawberry and club soda.

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I had the more complex Kentucky Maid with bourbon, lime, cucumber and mint. Both cocktails where perfect for a summer evening watching party guests play games on the field.

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As anticipated, the food was to die for. We started at the dim sum station, which was perfect for Julieta and I, cause we love Chinese food. This station was great because in addition to dim sum already steamed, I was able to get a fresh duck bao bun, which was one of the highlights of the night for me. The servers were also providing all kinds of hors d’oeuvres ranging from comfort food to more sophisticated fare.

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It’s not a stadium without hotdogs!

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These were chicken potpies encrusted with black truffle breadcrumbs. They’re so little and yet so decedent.

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Grilled cauliflower with edible flowers.

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Hamachi sashimi with a peach and pomegranate salsa.

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Pork tenderloin with English peas, edamame, mushroom sauce and roasted potato.

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After this indulgence, we wandered down to the Rose Gardens, which had a sample of how their private parties could be arranged.

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Love this set-up.

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Julieta and I were impressed (for obvious reasons) by the on-site oyster shucker from Oysters XO. Must’ve been tough for this guy to be serving aphrodisiacs to a bunch of women…

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Mini spicy tuna crepes.

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Mini lobster rolls with a squid ink bun.

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We got a tour of the locker room, which is gigantic. For this event, it was treated as a game room. We played a round of roulette and got to meet the UCLA cheerleaders. But the court of champions is where the summer clambake was happening, so we meandered over.

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Lots of Angel City Beer.

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Plenty of crustaceans to share!

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The spread for the clambake was ideal oceanic fare and included clams, crab legs, lobster claw, shrimp (with heads!), spicy pork sausage, potatoes and grilled corn on the cob. Then they top it off with butter and lemon. All the items were so fresh. Julieta especially dug the sausage and my favorite was the lobster claw.

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Life’s a peach! Every item in the dessert spread had peaches incorporated.

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Our favorite dessert was the peach cake. It was topped with fresh sliced peaches and had white peaches layered in with the buttery frosting.

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After this, we waddled back up to the Terry Donohue Pavilion for more desserts. We noshed on the angel fruitcake with fresh berries, which had a squirt tube for the sauce.

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Peach turnovers.

This event embodied summer and we can’t wait to see what #summerwithwolfgang is going to pull off next!

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Patties and Pies: 3 Square Cafe + Bakery’s Summer Pop-Up

The term “pop-up” doesn’t just apply to fashion. Restaurants in cities all over the world, especially in the past couple of years, have been developing their own pop-ups. Pop-ups are tough on customers because unlike a restaurant that has central locations, we can’t always get that food again. As a customer, we have to savor that food while we can. Food trucks are probably the most popular form of a pop-up I can think of, but I’m starting to see more in actual restaurants.

I finally got around to walking the Abbot Kinney First Friday in Venice, CA last week. Abbot Kinney Blvd. was deemed “the coolest block in America” by GQ magazine in 2012 and I can see why. The mile long street has a very hip, boho-chic vibe to it. Even the buildings with expensive retailers look distressed and as if they’ve been there since the 60’s. I like this look though. It’s fun.
There was an overwhelming amount of food trucks on Abbot Kinney. I suppose I could’ve stopped at one, but I didn’t want to wait in a long line only to end up eating my food on the sidewalk. I found 3 Square Cafe + Bakery and found to be aesthetically inviting right off the bat.
3 Square Cafe + Bakery 
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
I am coining their patio “the coolest people watching spot in America”, cause it has a great view of the block.
3 Square is known for their German and Californian blended Breakfast and Lunch on the weekdays and Brunch on the weekends. During the Summer they have a dinner pop-up open Wednesday – Saturday nights 4 PM – 10 PM called Patties and Pies. As you can gather from the name, it’s all about burgers and dessert pies. It all sounded amazing and after a long walk, I was ready to kick back and chow down.

 

3 Square is owned by Chef/Restaurateur Hans Rockenwagner who wrote the popular cookbooks Rockenwagner and Das Cookbook: German Cooking…California Style. Hans is well known in the LA food scene for providing pretzels and other baked good to retailers like Gelson’s and Whole Foods. He’s also credited with inventing the Rockenwagner Pretzel Burger, which has been imitated by many other restaurants. I was stoked to come in on a night he was there, cause he was able to provide me with a look at their updated Patties and Pies menu starting this week (5/3/15). Foodies, it’s  sehr gut.
Pictured: Avocado Fries
The avocado fries are a staple here. It’s literally a sliced avocado, battered and deep fried with a side of fire roasted salsa. I was amazed by this dish, because even though it’s deep fried, it has an unexpected freshness to it. I expect to see county fairs imitating this dish soon.
Pictured: Avocado Crostini
Yes Foodies, I was on an avocado kick that day. The avocado crostini is another longtime dish here. The toast is fresh baked, then grilled, topped with mashed avocado and watermelon radish. Simple, yet delectable.
Pictured: Grilled asparagus with leeks and romesco sauce
This is an interesting item to have on the menu, cause it’s inspired by Spanish tapas. The fresh asparagus is grilled and topped with leeks. The leeks are prepared in a similar style to Calcotada, the leeks are roasted, then topped with a romesco sauce. The romesco sauce at 3 Square is made with ground almonds, which adds a soft nuttiness to it. It still has that expected garlic and chilli kick to it.
Pictured: The Swiss Burger
Oh boy. Here we go. It’s a doozy to eat, but it’s so worth it. It’s a ground veal patty, topped with fried onion rings, bacon, hash browns, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, then smothered with a parsley aioli and that is all sandwiched in a biscuit bun. It’s bonkers. It’s also one of the best burgers I’ve ever had and now I’m wishing more places had veal patties. This burger separates 3 Square from all the other burgers on the Westside.
Pictured: Wild Blueberry Pie
It wouldn’t be Patties and Pies without a delicious pie to finish it off. The blueberry pie a la mode paired with a hot cup of their Stumptown Coffee brought out the Dale Cooper in me. The crust is flakey and buttery. The filling was packed with actual berries that maintained their flavor.
I can’t turn down a Twin Peaks reference.
Foodies, you have to stop into Patties and Pies this Summer before the pop-up goes away! Check out rockenwagner.com for more information.

Click to add a blog post for 3 Square Café + Bakery on Zomato

Meatless Monday: The Best of the Ballard Farmer’s Markets

WARNING: This market is not meatless. There are meat, seafood and poultry stands, but I am choosing to showcase the fun items the vegetarian/vegans and meat lovers can enjoy.
You all know I’m a sucker for a free sample and there’s stinginess or shortage of them here. All the vendors want you try their products and are all very knowledgable on them.
Ballard Farmer’s Market 
Sundays 10 AM – 3 PM
Street Parking (get there early or take a bus, it’s brutal!)
5300 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
I already miss you Seattle. I miss the drizzle, I miss the overcast skies but most of all I miss your Winter produce. The Winter veggies are the best in Seattle (broccoli, kale, spinach, lettuce, squash) and it’s so sad when February kills it. So of course when I decided to showcase all the vegetables, they had died down quite a bit. This market has so many other vegetarian/vegan friendly eats though.
Soda Jerk
I was a fanatic of Dry’s Lavender soda for while, but now that I’ve had Soda Jerk, I’m converted. Soda Jerk’s Lemon Lavender soda has a much better flavor than Dry’s. It’s has the perfect amount of sweet and sour from the lemon and the lavender isn’t overwhelming or medicinal. The Elderflower is almost like a soda version of St. Germain and the Apple Ginger was also fantastic.
They have soda dispenser’s at their stand and you can also purchase a growler of them. The gentleman running the stand told me they mix up their flavors (they’re seasonal flavors), so if you go there it may be different. The sodas are also all natural, organic and local ingredients. Soda Jerk is a must try and will added to our “Best of” list (nudge nudge Tiffany). I am sad I can’t pick up a bottle at Whole Foods now that I’m in Venice. Woe is the life of a Soda Jerk lover.
Firefly Kimchi by Firefly Kitchens
Kimchi is a Korean style fermented cabbage that is often used as a topping and sometimes cooked in with food. I love to add it on hot dogs and spread it on crackers the most. Firefly Kitchen is a Seattle based fermented jarred foods business. Unlike a lot of pickled and persevered products you see in the stores, Firefly uses natural fermenting, which is better for you since it preserves natural enzymes and good-for-you bacteria. Natural fermenting doesn’t cook the food either so if you’re on a raw food diet you can use this as a topping.  Firefly Kimchi is considered Firefly Kitchen’s “go to” topping, it’s the perfect blend of spicy, garlicy and the cabbage holds it’s uncooked texture very well.
Jonboy Caramels
Jonboy Caramels make a great gift with their unique flavor pairings and party-ready packaging. The Fluer de Sel is an ultimate mash-up of sweet, buttery and salty flavors. My favorite Jonboy Caramel is the Absinthe with Black Salt. Not only do they use the local Pacifique Absinthe from Woodenville, WA, but also has a fennel and anise flavor to it. Jonboy is like a more sophisticated version of those wrapper caramels I got at the Sweet Factory in the mall growing up.
West Seattle Farmer’s Market Love: If you’re at the West Seattle Farmer’s Market during the Winter, you must try the Kale varieties at Five Acre Farms. Their Kale grows a lot bigger and with fuller leaves than the ones you find in the supermarket. Their Broccoli stems are so large and tasty you can snack on them raw or dip them in hummus. Their website is here (http://www.facebook.com/fiveacrefarm) and until next Winter she is just selling her organic Chicken Eggs, but email her for market scheduling.
I leave you with pretty Tulips…

Time to Ketchup!

Wowza. It’s been a while since my last post! I’ve been all over the West Coast auditioning, shooting and visiting friends and family. Below is a re-cap of my gluttonous adventures.

 

Bunk Sandwiches
211 SW 6th Ave
Portland, OR 97205

Say hello to my little friend. This is the Pork Belly Cubano. Ham, swiss, pickles, mustard and pork belly. Also comes with fresh fried kettle chips for only $9.

This isn’t one of those “keep Portland weird” spots. It seems to be popular with the lunch and mom crowds. It wasn’t on par with the Swinery’s BLT, but a very good effort.

Tat’s Delicatessen 
159 Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98104

Tat’s is located in Pioneer Square, so it’s over-crowded with Seahawks fans. It’s a little loud but the energy is fun. They are known for their Philly Cheesesteak, you are given an option of cheeses, but it’s considered “authentic” if you go with Cheez Whiz. Yup, canned Cheez Wiz that I loathed as a child. I pretty skeptical to try this since the “food in a can” mentality usually disgusts me, but I was wrong.
The Cheez Whiz melts beautifully their thin sliced beef and fresh Italian roll. I added sweet peppers to mine as well for a kick. The fries were also fresh tasting and reminded me of the now closed Ford’s in Sacramento.

BONUS – The left-overs heat up great the next day!

Pioneer Hot Dogs 
Outside Qwest and Safeco Field
Seattle, WA 98134

I was promoting Miller Lite and I learned about the tailgating culture. Tons of football fans invade the vacant Safeco Field (since it’s football season) and relish in beer and food. There were a lot of food stands tailored for the junk food junkie.

I tried the “Seattle Dog” which is grilled with onions and cream cheese. Honestly this was a bit overrated. I’m not a fan of raw onions, so I wish mine were cooked more. Also the dog itself tasted a little burned. Maybe they were busy listening to the game when they cooked it?

NOTE: I DID NOT EAT ALL OF THE ITEMS BELOW MYSELF. I SHARED WITH MY FABULOUS CO-WORKER BRE, WHO IS A FAT MAN DISGUISED IN A RUNWAY MODEL’S BODY. IT’S UNFAIR SHE LOOKS THAT GOOD…

Po Dog Hot Dogs
1009 E Union St
(between 10th Ave & 11th Ave)
Seattle, WA 98122

This establishment is located next to a bar that plays a lot of indie rock, so it’s fun to people watch here. They have lots of options to wash the dogs down and there’s plenty of seating. What separates this place from other hot dog stands/spots is the bun. It’s made in house (not Rainbow brand!) and reminds me of a softer, sweeter pretzel that accommodates the dogs beautifully.
To my left is the PB dog, a hot dog topped with peanut butter, bananas and topped with more peanuts. I know what you’re thinking, it sounds awful but it was actually amazing. I like I made Elvis proud eating this.

 

Fried pickles are easy for a place to screw up. First off, I despise the pickle chips. They don’t keep the vinegar flavor and the crust slides off too easy. Second, most places that serve fried pickles don’t have many options for sides, you’re stuck with either ketchup (BLEH) or Ranch (DOUBLE BLEH!).

At Po Dog, they are fried as spears, the coatings actually stays on the pickle. Also, there are a lot of options for dippings. We got the wasabi and house aioli which was a nice switch from the usual condiments.

This is the Deep Fried Danger Dog. Oh boy. A hotdog wrapped in peppered bacon and deep fried to perfection, topped with sauteed onion and a chilli sauce. This is heartburn in a bun, but it’s so worth it. I don’t think the two of us could eat this in one sitting but it was delicious trying.

Po Dog does offer a Seattle Dog, which is topped with cream cheese and scallions. We didn’t try it but it gives me an excuse to come back and I will let you know when I do.

Happy eatings!

Sac Food Trucks: Drewski’s & OM Karmabile

Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen – Grilled Cheese, Tots, Fries

@drewskishotrod for locations

This seems to be the truck that everyone knows
about, and loves. A friend has been raving about it so I drove a little out of
the way to seek them out. When I arrived they had been open for about an hour
and the line was still growing. Their deep fried mac-n-cheese balls with smoked
bacon and black truffle were sold out. (My waistline thanks all those before
me.)
All of their ‘cheeses were tempting. My runner
up was the “Prius.”
Prius
sliced and grilled Granny Smith apples, wild
flower honey, smokehouse almonds, double crème brie cheese grilled on 9 grain
sliced wheat
Next time Prius. This time, I had to go with the
“Hemi.” I figured there must be a reason it’s first on the menu and the cover
photo on their Facebook page.
 
 
Hemi
slow roasted Carolina pulled pork, mac-n-cheese,
grilled onions, cheddar cheese, grilled on sliced French
(I ordered it on
wheat.)
Wow. The pork was incredibly good, tender and
sweet. I’ll admit I rolled my eyes a little at the mac-n-cheese addition, assumed
I’d pick it out, but I loved it. My inner child jumped for joy.
This is comfort food at its best. Don’t let the
line discourage you.
OM Karmabile – Indian Fusion
@OMKarmabile for locations
This food truck has two goals: fill your
belly with delicious Indian fusion cuisine and send you on your way with a
little good Karma. I’m a fan of both. The food part is a no-brainer and I was
very excited to try it because I rarely eat Indian food, mainly because I have
yet to find a great Indian restaurant in Sacramento. (Suggestions please!) The
bit about the Karma though, that’s a head scratcher at first. I learned the
reason for the truck’s name when I went to drop a tip in the jar. After a thank
you I was told they donate all of their tips to different children’s charities,
currently St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I was thrilled with my lunch choice
even before my order was up!

 

I became happier when the food didn’t disappoint. They have burritos, tortas and rice bowls with chicken, lamb and vegetarian fillings but I went with the tacos…
Vegetarian Curry Taco
Corn tortilla with potatoes, peas and carrots
in a mild curry sauce with tomato chutney
Spicy Curry Chicken Taco
Corn tortilla with chicken cooked in spicy curry
sauce with potatoes, peas and carrots with tomato chutney
Masala Chicken Taco
Corn tortilla with Masala chicken, cucumber
chutney and creamy mint garlic sauce

 

All three were simple, tasty, and a delightful
leap from your standard lunch fare. The Masala chicken was my favorite of the
three. The true standout of the meal though was this fascinating dessert…
Gulab a la mode
Indian style doughnut soaked in rose water syrup
with coconut caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, toasted coconut flakes and
topped with nutmeg and cardamom
This sounded incredibly intriguing because I had
no idea what an Indian style doughnut was and lately I have a fascination with
any dish that includes rose water.
(I used to absolutely hate rose
water. It tasted like perfume to me. I tried it in a couple amazing desserts
though and now, I love it! It still tastes like perfume, but in a good way?)
I really didn’t imagine myself loving this once I saw it but it turned out to be one of the most interesting and surprising desserts I’ve had in a long time. The gulab had the consistency of a cake doughnut with the rose water syrup softening and sweetening just the outside. They were addicting on their own and the flavor pairs incredibly well with the coconut and cardamom, with the vanilla ice cream serving to mellow it all out.
It’s definitely sweet and should be shared but if you’re in the mood to treat
yourself, I bet you’ll find it’s the best ice cream sundae you’ve ever had.