I am in San Francisco this week ~ one of the worlds most respected culinary destinations ~ exploring some of the city’s most unique and exciting food trucks.
Before leaving my home in Los Angeles, I began my research online and discovered OffTheGridSF, a Bay Area resource dedicated to supporting the city’s growing gourmet food truck movement. As a matter of fact be on the lookout for an exclusive interview with Off The Grid SF creator Matt Cohen in the next couple of days.
He’ll share with us his passion for organizing these talented artisans and their growing fan base.
OTGSF publishes a weekly calendar on its blog where loyal followers can track the location of various food trucks. This one-stop resource will alert you on exactly where to go and the hours of the truck’s availability. As a matter of fact, on the morning of my excursion I received an up-to-the minute Twitter text alerting me of the names of trucks being featured that day.
Depending upon the size of the location, diners can expect to find anywhere from 4 to 6 unique trucks. Today’s destination: a quaint little park known as St Mary’s Square ~ a beautiful setting located in the heart of North Beach, and a mere stones throw away from Chinatown. The tree lined park features benches where diners could enjoy their meals unhurried. Certainly a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the financial district a mere few blocks away.
The first day of my food truck dining adventure started off with a slight mishap … I forgot to load the battery into my digital camera! Unfortunately, I didn’t make this discovery until I arrived at my destination.
Being the improviser that I am (and armed with a camera-enabled smart phone), I made the executive decision to attempt to create some decent shots and I forged ahead. That was an adventure unto itself, but in the meantime: onto the real adventure “the food” !
For todays selection I picked three trucks, the first, Fins On The Hoof ~ is a gourmet truck whose catch phrase is: “Where the sea meets the barnyard”. An illustration of a swimming pig seemed pretty adventurous to me and, since my mission this week is to try the new and the different, this truck sounded like the perfect opportunity to “wet my own hoof”, as it were.
So, after exploring the rather small selections on the menu, I opted to try the Beluga Lentil and Smoked Trout Salad w/Pickled Red Onions, Walnuts and Creme Fraiche, and a Grilled Roquefort-Stuffed Merquez Lamb Burger w/Harissa Aioli, Tomato/Onion Compote with Organic Greens on a toasted Brioche Bun – Total Cost $15
First up, the Lentil Salad: I’d rate it a 3.5 out of a possible 5 plates. (I took away a point and a half because I found the trout a little salty, and there was not enough seasoning for the lentils) Overall, the fish was smoked beautifully.
The salad starts with a bed of Beluga Lentils (named after the caviar they resemble these lentils are black in color and earthy in flavor). Delicate pieces of smoked trout top the chilled lentils. Finally the salad is finished with walnuts, pickled purple onions and creme fraiche (resembles sour cream), which rounds out the dish nicely.
Overall I give the salad a 3.5.
The Merquez Lamb Burger stuffed with Roquefort cheese was a hit ~ easily a 4. This was a popular sandwich, so much so that I managed to snag the last one available before they were officially sold out.
Imagine biting down a juicy burger and finding it filled with creamy, tangy cheese. Roquefort is a blue cheese made sheep’s milk and so, as with all types of blue cheese, it has a pungent flavor.
I felt the Roquefort was the perfect accompaniment to the lamb seasoned with fennel, garlic and other North African inspired herbs. Grilled to temperature, the patty is topped with Harissa Aioli ~ a tangy dressing made of dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, cumin, lemon juice, (sometimes mint and cilantro is used), and salt and pepper.
Finally, the burger is topped with fresh organic lettuce greens, tomato/onion compote, placed on a soft sweet brioche bun, and served with crispy shoestring fries.
The tomato/onion compote made the bun a little too soggy, but other than that I found the flavors paired beautifully. Literally one bite and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to Morocco.
Except in my case I was seated in the middle of a beautiful park in San Francisco.
Fins On The Hoof
Can found on both Twitter and Facebook @finsonthhoof
Next up on my international food odyssey is – Kasa Indian Truck
Kasa Indian is rated as some of the best Indian food in the city by 7 x 7 Magazine (first as a free standing restaurant) and now from numerous locations throughout San Francisco because of their elaborately decked out Fushia and brown food truck.
The moment I spotted the truck and realized that they served Indian food I was hooked. It took mere moments for me to explore the menu before I eyed the Scooter Plate consisting of a Kati Roll and Samosas. The Kati roll resembles a burrito, but much better ~ in my opinion. To create the Kati roll Kasa start off with piece flat Indian bread known as Roti. Roti is similar to a tortilla only thicker and more buttery.
I requested mine to be filled with the special of the day ~ a slow cooked, fork tender lamb curry and potatoes. The curry is accentuated with lime marinated onions, cilantro chutney all rolled up in the warm Roti bread and served with a side of cool creamy yogurt. The combination in a word ~ Awesome!
The perfect accompaniment to the Kati roll are the Samosas. Samosas are an Indian equivalent of an Empanada. Triangular in shape, the flaky pastry is stuffed with potatoes, peas, onions, lentils, coriander and fried to a golden brown and served with a coconut, cilantro and tamarind chutney.
You can find the Kasa Indian Truck on Twitter at @kasaindian
Directly across from Kasa Indian Truck was Bacon Bacon SF – a truck that specializes in ~ well, you guessed it, all things bacon.
As I was photographing the Kati Roll for today’s article a really colorful lady driving by in a portable wheel chair inquiring about my photography. We instantly struck up a conversation and I asked her for recommendations on other dishes I should try on my tour and that when I was introduced the grandfather of all pork based tacos known as the three B’s
The Triple B is pork belly, pork butte and crispy bacon. All three of the best parts of the pig are represented in this decadent taco, sinfully combined and placed on a warm corn tortilla topped with sweet red peppers known as “Momma’s Lil Peppers” and goat cheese.
All I can say is that it certainly lives up to it’s name. Actually the taco was the perfect choice since I love Carnitas. Carnitas in Mexican cuisine means “little meats” typically the pork is either braised and slow roasted until it is fork tender. The sweet red peppers are a perfect contrast to the creamy goat cheese.
Other dishes I’m sorry I missed but would definitely try on my next visit is a specialty sandwich known as “The Belly” slow roast pork belly, topped with an organic fried egg and garnished arugula and caper aioli served a beautiful burger bun.
Finally those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss the bacon caramel corn but seeing as I still have a few more days in the city if I happen upon the Bacon Bacon SF truck again I will have to give a try and report back. So Stay Tuned.
In the mean time, enjoy, please leave comments AND stop missing what you could be eating…
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