Tag Archives: Orange County

Review of Home Skillet Truck – Setting the Standard for Food Trucks!

15 Feb

Photo Courtesy of Anne Watson Photography

The Home Skillet Truck, as I pointed out in a previous post “Top 10 Food Trucks of 2011”, is one of my favorite new food trucks. This gourmet food truck is the baby of Orange County native, Chef Christie Morisoli. She gained her street cred by graduating from the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute and then cutting her chops at some of the most prestigious restaurants in San Francisco, Austin and Los Angeles. The Home Skillet Truck emerged into the OC food truck scene in the late summer of 2011. This was a time when the gourmet food truck scene was becoming overwhelmed by a swarm of new trucks. Some of the new trucks were simply roach coaches who purchased expensive wraps and threatened to cheapen the gourmet food truck movement. On the other hand, some of the new trucks were owned by talented Chefs who provided innovative menus and cooking techniques. These new gourmet trucks proved that food trucks have the propensity to be more than just deep fryers and “Fusion Tacos.”

I met Chef Morisoli when I was judging OC Foodie Fest. You can't tell from this picture, but I was wearing a full body pig costume.

I first tried the Home Skillet Truck while serving as a judge at the OC Foodie Fest. During the event I was one of the “Savory” judges and was trying “one dish from all 70 trucks.” By the time Chef Morisoli from Home Skillet came to my station, I had eaten one too many grilled cheese variations and my gut was reaching its limit. Chef Christie Morisoli presented me their now famous “Lamb Burger” and I knew it was time to suck up my pain and give this delicious looking lamb burger a chance. After that first bite at the OC Foodie Fest, I became a loyal customer. By the way, I gave her dish some of the highest marks in the “Best in Show” category.

Photo Courtesy of Anne Watson photography

The Home skillet truck is a family affair, as multiple members of the family work on the truck, including Morisoli’s mother and husband. This family involvement goes along with the truck’s comfort food theme. All of her dishes have a genesis around a classic home cooking and Americana comfort food theme; with that said, these are not your Grandma’s dishes. Chef Morisoli has given these home style dishes a sexy change-up that only a classically trained chef can pull off. I have eaten from truck about five different times and have always been impressed by the flavors and uniqueness of her dishes. The following descriptions of her dishes are based on 5 months of careful gastromic research.

Review of Home Skillet’s Dishes

Lamb Burger

Home Skillet's Lamb Burger - amateur Picture taken by Tom Holmberg's Smart Phone

The lamb burger consists of a slightly toasted bakery roll, a juicy lamb patty, and feta cheese with chili sauce, pickled cucumber, red onions and tomatoes. The size of the lamb burger is a slightly smaller than a standard burger and can be easily held with one hand. The hand-feel of the burger is pleasant, as the burger has a substantial weight and the bun gives under the weight of your grip.

The lamb burger uses ingredients whose flavors pair well together, resulting in an amazing dish that accentuates the natural lamb flavors. The bun itself is slightly crispy, yet retains a soft steamy center. The bun was the right size for the burger, such that you obtain the right balance of bread to meat. The actual lamb patty is roughly a quarter pound and is seasoned with traditional Greek style seasonings, like garlic, basil, and oregano.

Home Skillet's Lamb Burger - Professional Photography By Anne Watson Photography. Professional photography does pay off 🙂

The ground lamb meat has a very pleasant aroma and made me instantly salivate. The red chili feta blend was creamy, salty and had a sweet, savory and spicy profile. The cheese blend by itself is slightly spicy from the hot sauce. Although when the spicy feta is consumed in the context of the lamb burger, it simply brightens up the overall flavor profile of the lamb burger. The pickled onions and cucumbers were refreshing and broke up the complex flavors of the dish. This is one of their best items on the menu and I always have to order it. I give this dish 4.5 out of 5.


Truffled Mac and Cheese Ball

Truffled Mac and Cheese Ball by Home Skillet - Love comes in the form of a ball

Fried balls of love! I find it hard to describe the emotions I experienced as I ate the Truffled Mac and Cheese Ball. I have listed a series of words that describe my emotional journey, as I noshed down on the balls of love: “Crisp, molten, lush, sultry, orgasmic, crack, guilt, regret, acceptance, bliss.” This dish consists of rich and cheesy scoops of Mac and Cheese, infused with truffle. The mac is rolled in panko bread crumbs and then flash fried. This flash fry fuses the shape together and liquefies the cheese. These balls are fairly large, almost the size of an egg and are crisp to the touch. Despite the fact that these mac n cheese balls are deep-fried, they are surprisingly not very greasy.

Partially dissected Truffled Mac and Cheese Ball. Yes it is as delicious as it looks

When I placed the Fried Mac n Cheese ball in my mouth, the exterior was crispy on my tongue. When my front teeth pierced the ball, hot steam exploded into my mouth and the viscous cheese flowed unto my tongue. The lush and rich flavor of the Mac Ball is attained by being made from 3 types of cheese and an infusion of truffle. As I wiped my face with a napkin, I could feel that I had formed a naughty smile as a result of eating this sinfully decadent treat. What would my Mama think? This dish received 4.0 out of 5.

Pomegranate Riblets

Home Skillet pomegranate Riblets - Photo Courtesy of Anne Watson Photography

This dish consists of slow cooked pork baby back ribs covered in a pomegranate-soy glaze and accompanied by a jicama salad. I think that this is one of Home ‘ signature dishes. Home Skillet Truck’s slow cooking method of the ribs results in meat that literally falls off the bone! I yanked on one of the rib-bones to break off a chunk, but the bone literally pulled out of the slab. The ribs were that tender!Another Shot of the Riblets via my smart phone. These ribs had an amazing flavor. Those are not French Fries they are Jicama Strips. This dish is a good example of traditional home cooking with a foodie’s flare. These ribs had a nice wet pomegranate glaze that set off the entire dish. I tasted the sauce first by itself, via my fingers. The sauce was sweet and tangy, yet had a subtle spiciness that left a slight tingle on the tongue. When I placed the rib in my mouth, the exterior was slightly velvety; it appears that the sauce had softened the crispiness on the exterior of the ribs. When I bit down, the meat was extremely tender as it broke apart in my mouth on my first chomp. The flavors of the meat are sweet and savory. The juicy rib meat integrated well with the sweet, tangy and spicy flavors of the sauce. The flavors of the meat and sauce together were a near perfect balance. I was mad munching away and before I realized it, I ate all the ribs! Along with the ribs, the dish included a cold jicama salad which contained strips of jicama and slivers of sweet carrots. This cold side is a nice compliment to the ribs, as it adds a sweet crunchy contrast and serves as a palate cleanser.

I would expect to see this quality of baby back pork ribs from an upscale restaurant like Banderas, the Bungalow or Landmark, for $25+. The only difference is that these ribs came out on a paper plate from a food truck. This dish gets a 4.5 for some of the better ribs I have tried. The ribs were juicy and a good bargain at $7.

Brussels Sprouts

Home Skillet Brussels Sprouts - Photo courtesy of Anne Watson Photography.

Many of you may still harbor negative memories of Brussels Sprouts from your childhood. These memories probably developed from your Mother’s failed attempts to steam or boil these leafy balls. My first experience with Brussels sprouts permanently distorted my opinions of this otherwise worthy member of the cabbage family. For many years, the mere smell of Brussels sprouts would conjure of memories of not being allowed to leave the kitchen table until I finished my Brussels sprouts. My opinion of Brussels sprouts changed four months ago when I decided to have an adult moment and challenge my food prejudices. I was reading the book “The Man Who Ate Everything” and my experience reminded me of Jeffrey Steingarten attempting to eat clams after a lifetime of loathing.

There I was innocently standing in line one day to order my lamb burger from the Home Skillet truck, when I heard all the folks in line ranting about the Brussels sprouts. I must have scrunched my nose into the air when they said the word “brussel sprouts” because soon after an attractive woman came up to challenge me

“You don’t like Brussels sprouts do you?”

I snarkily retorted, “No I detest them.”

She responded, “Then you haven’t tried Home Skillet’s Brussels sprouts.”

I gave her a dismissive look with raised eye brows and lips pursed to one side. My body language communicated, “Do you really think you can convert me to the Brussels dark side?”

Sensing my dismissive attitude, she responded back, “Why don’t you go put some big girl panties on! Get over your food phobia and try the Brussels sprouts already, I will even let you take a bite of mine.”

“But I am a married man, you can’t tempt me with a taste of your Brussels sprouts”, I tartly responded. She rolled her eyes at me.

In the back of my head I was secretly taken aback by the ferocity of her taunt. I proceeded to get out of line, grab a plastic spoon and ask the Brussels sprout bitch for a bite (this was a silly act of bravado). Little did she know I had a napkin in the other hand, to spit it out and hide the Brussels sprouts if the need arose. My inner 10-year old boy was jumping out of my psyche, angry that I was about to put Brussels sprouts into my mouth.

These Brussels Sprouts have the most amazing flavors. Home Skillet's Brussel Sprouts will turn you into a fan as well

I let a pair of the leafy green balls into my mouth and juggled them with my tongue before taking a bite. The aromas of the Brussels sprouts were nutty, in true Brussels sprout fashion. In addition, I could smell wafts of wine, vinaigrette and fresh herbs. Together these flavors and aromas were amazingly delicious. My inner psyche was already relaxing and no longer feared taking a bite. When I chewed on the Brussels sprouts, they were wonderfully nutty, lush and tangy. The wine and vinaigrette enhanced the flavors of the Brussels sprouts and opened up my taste buds to enjoy this wonderful pairing of flavors. The capers and onions provided a subtle pungent, saltines to the flavor profile. It looks like the sprouts were first flash fried to cook and crisp the leaves. Next, they were hot tossed with vinaigrette, red wine, capers, onions and herbs. The sprouts were tender and juicy; yet, they retained a crunchy texture.

My “Brussels sprout hating inner child” was exorcised and I found myself ordering my own plate of Brussels sprouts. I ended up using the secret napkin to wipe my face and thanked the nice lady for sharing. I am giving the Brussels sprouts 4.75 out of 5, for near perfect execution of flavors and textures. Extra points were given for converting me into a Brussels sprout lover.


Pork Belly Reuben Slider

Pork Belly Reuben Slider by Home Skillet - Sinfully Delicious. I actually took this picture 🙂

This dish is composed of a fluffy brioche bun, a generous slab of grilled pork belly, Swiss cheese, and homemade sauerkraut and a creamy Russian dressing. The star of this slider is the pork belly. Pork belly is similar to bacon, but cut higher from the slab resulting in a meatier cut. The pork belly is cooked fat side down; as a result the meat is crisped under its own fat and topped with melting Swiss cheese.

Pork Belly Reuben Slider after I attacked it

When I took a bite of the slider, I had to open my mouth open wide. My teeth pierced the bun and into crisped meat, molten Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut and creamy Russian dressing. As I chewed, the flavors of lush sweet/savory flavors from the meat and cheese mixed with the sweet/vinegary flavors of the sauce and sauerkraut. This dish was obviously constructed with a balance of flavors in mind. An incredible dish when you feel like ordering something on the heavier side. I am giving this dish 4.0 out of 5.

My Final thoughts

The Home Skillet Truck represents the future of the food truck scene, professional Chefs breaking into the gourmet food truck circuit. Chef Morisoli modernizes classic American comfort food by giving them a foodie centric twist. The home skillet truck cooks with love and it shows in quality, presentation and taste. I am giving the home skillet truck an overall score of 4.25, a very high score. Home Skillet represents one of the food trucks who will force other trucks to elevate their game or lose customers.

Visit Home Skillet’s Website: www.homeskillettruck.com

Home Skillet’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeskillettruck

Home Skillet’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/homeskillettrk

Home Skillet’s Yelp Review: http://www.yelp.com/biz/home-skillet-truck-orange-county

Special Thanks to one of the better food photographers I know, Anne Watson. Thanks for spicing up my blog post with your amazing photographs. Visit Anne Watson’s Photography Page: www.annewatsonphoto.com.

Email Tom is you want to chat about Food Trucks or the Southern California Food Scene tom@tomsfoodieblog.com

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Expanded Orange County and L.A. Food Truck Directory on Tom’s Foodie Blog

3 Feb

A couple trucks out at the Youth Expo


Just a quick note to my Foodie followers and fans of Gourmet Food Trucks. I have expanded my Food Truck Directory to include Orange County based Gourmet Food Trucks and Los Angeles carpet bagging Gourmet Food Trucks that pouch the O.C. food truck lots. Don’t worry L.A. Truckers we still love you!

I have included links to all their available Social Media and Website, including Yelp Reviews.  Using the Trucks social media site is the bet way to find out where your favorite truck is located that day, as a service to my users I have done the hard work for you!


Tom’s Foodie Blog 2012 “Must Try” Restaurant Bucket List

6 Jan

2011 was a great year for http://www.tomsfoodieblog.com, I logged in a couple new pounds from the great tasting food and made a couple new friends along the way. This year I tried over 40 different restaurants and about 25 different food trucks.

That is me, Tom, on New Years vowing to try more new restaurants in 2012

Believe it or not my fellow foodies, I am really behind in trying new foodie friendly restaurants. My Wife’s group buying obsession has led us to discover some really nice restaurants, some featured in this blog;  but at the same time, we have experienced some really big disappointments.  The true downside of this group buying experience is that I yet to experience some foodie centric restaurants that have been open for several months.  

My New Year’s resolution is to make up for lost time by dining at all the new foodie centric restaurants in the O.C. and providing you my loyal readers detailed reviews. See I am a giver, I am doing the hard work, so you dont have to gain the extra pounds from bad food.

 This is my 2012  restaurant bucket list, if you think I am missing anything good,  please leave me a suggestion! Also if you think one of these restaurants is a waste of my time, please let me know.  Please take the poll on the bottom of the page and let me know which of these restaurants look the best to you:

Former Food Trucks Going Brick and Mortar

  • The Playground – Former part owner of the Lime Truck, Jason Quinn, struck it out The Playgroundon his own using his winnings from the Great Food Truck Race to start-up this brick and mortar. The restaurant has been open for a couple of months and has already created a loyal following by offering chef centric and foodie friendly dishes. The menu tends to change daily as well, so all dishes are very seasonal. The Playground’s website 


  • SeaBirds Brick and Mortar Shop – One of my top 10 food trucks of 2011 is going at it in a brick and mortar style, sometime in the first half of the year.  I have nothing but good expectations for this restaurant, as owner Stephanie Morgan makes Vegan food extremely enjoyable to eat, even for non-vegans.  I will be posting details when an opening date is announced. Rumor has it that a location has been picked in Santa Ana. OCWeekly article on the new restaurant 
  • Short Stop BBQ Brick and Mortar Shop – This Southern BBQ truck, opened their Brick and Mortar restaurant  last week. I read the menu and they were offering duck on the menu…my ears perked up. It is located at 711 N. Placentia Ave. in Fullerton, just east of the 57. Their website doesn’t give the address or hours, so I suggest you call or check their Facebook page if you plan on visiting. www.shortstopbbq.com
  • Slap Fish Truck’s Brick and Mortar – Chef Andrew Gruel’s sustainable seafood truck is opening a brick and mortar establishment somewhere in Huntington Beach. If the restaurant is anything like his truck, expect extremely fresh and seasonal seafood that you can feel good about. I think a brick and mortar restaurant will give him a little more room to show his flair for the dramatic. I’m looking forward to seeing what he will pull off. No word yet on the restaurants format. OC Weekly Article on anticipated restaurant opening.


Pizza and Italian

  • Pizzeria Mozza – –This is Los Angeles eatery that is the brainchild of Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton and Joseph Bastianich. This restaurant features authentic rustic and sophisticated Italian Cuisine. this restaurant has already attracted large crowds in it’s first couple months. It is located at 800 Coast Highway Newport Beach.Pizzeria Mozza Website
  • Cucina Enoteca – A new Italian restaurant in the Irvine Spectrum which opened in December 2011, with positive reviews from my foodie circle.  This restaurant represents an expansion from it’s San Diego sister restaurant Cucina Urbana. I have heard they serve upscale Italian with dishes in the mid $20’s price range for foodie friendly choices. Cucina Enoteca Website 

Chef Centric & Farm to Table

  • Paul Martin’s American Grill – This “Farm to Table” and “Chef Centric” restaurant  that recently opened in the Irvine Spectrum in late 2011, under the Guidance of Chef Paul Martin. This restaurant has turned into a favorite among Orange County foodies. This restaurant features sustainable seafood, all-natural meats and organic produce. Paul Martin’s American Grill Website
  • Tamarind of London – This is a London-based restaurant that opened an O.C. version in the Crystal Cove Promenade in Newport Beach.  I do not know much about this restaurant except reports that the London restaurant earned several Michelin Stars and features “Indian Cuisine and cross-over dishes.”  I checked out their online menu and sides range from $7-13 and mains range between $16- 22 for most items. The menu looked yummy! Tamarind of London Website  Link to Yelp Reviews
  • Charlie Palmers – One of the restaurants that helped put Orange County on the Foodie Radar. I am very embarrassed to say that I have never dinned at Charlie Palmers, even though it has been open for a couple of years. This restaurant had amazing reviews, although they have recently started taking a hit on yelp (perhaps due to Chef Santana’s departure?).  I will let you know the results of my investigative eating.   It is located at Bloomingdales in South Coast Plaza.  Charlie Palmers Website Yelp Review for Charlie Palmers Yelp Review for Charlie Palmer
  • The Ranch – This Anaheim restaurant is the creation of Disneyland’s two culinary geniuses and also highly respected members of the foodie community, Michael Jordan and Michael Rossi of Napa Rose fame. I have no doubt that the food will be amazing with these two at the helm.  The restaurant is part Country Western Saloon and Part Fine Dining. Does this concept remind anyone of an upscale Crazy Horse Saloon? Website for The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon   Yelp Review for the Ranch
  • The Eatery – This upcoming restaurant featuring “upscale and nutritious comfort food” according to the “Kick Start Funding Website”. The restaurant will be operated by three award-winning chef’s including Anahita Naderi. This restaurant will open in Anaheim in 2012. Not much is known about this restaurant , but I will be reporting when I get more details. News from the Eaterys KickStarter Investor’s Page
  • Three Seventy  Common – This Laguna Beach restaurant occupies the former Sorrento Grill locationand is another Chef Centric restaurant that features bold menu choices that are chef centric and wine friendly. The menu appears to have everything from steak to Foie Gras, something for foodies and the timid eater.  Three Seventy Common Website  Yelp Reviews 
  • Broadway by Amar Santana – Amar Santana is the former Chef at the Arnold Palmer Restaurant and his new restaurant Broadway offers a Chef centric menu,  featuring “Classic Modern Cuisine of the Americas.”  This restaurant looks very promising and a has been doing a brisk business every weekend.  Broadway by Amar Santana Website  Yelp Reviews for Broadway by Amar Santana

Something Eclectic

  • Bruxie – A Quick Service Restaurant that specializes in savory and sweet sandwiches stuffed in WAFFLES! Yes you read that right. Some of their offerings include a Chicken and Waffle sandwich to a banana and Nutella dessert offering.  This restaurant has gained a cult following on Yelp / Urbanspoon and is another restaurant that I am embarrassed that I have yet to try. There are two locations one in Brea and the more popular one in the Old Town Orange. Bruxi Website   Yelp Review for Bruxie
  • Anaheim Food Hall   – This is an upscale food center based inside a Spanish Revival Architecture building that was originally used as a citrus packing center, dating back to 1915. This venue will house 25 food concept vendors. Early committed restaurants include Pitfire Pizza. This concept is an experiment for Orange County, but similar ventures have been successful in places like New York’s “Eataly”, by Mario Batali.  OC Register Article on the planned venue:

Chains that have put on a big flashy bet on Orange County

  • Saddle Ranch Chop House – This chain restaurant is known for being

    a flashy “rock-western” chop house that prides

    itself on the rock and roll attitude of its staff. I tried one of the restaurants at the Universal City walk and it had good food and a fun vibe. Rumor has it that they will even have a mechanical bull.  This will their 5th restaurant, but their first in Orange County located at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa. Saddle Ranch Chop http://www.srrestaurants.com/

  • Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill – This upscale western themed chophouse that has a very strong presence in Southern California, including Rancho Santa Margarita. The new restaurant is located in the Irvine Spectrum is reported to have good food and ambiance.  Wood Ranch BBQ Website      Yelp Review for Wood Ranch BBQ at the Irvine Spectrum
  • P.F. Chang – Already reviewed this place but putting this on here as a reminder that you should try it as well. Great open floor design and awesome revamped menu. My blog Post on the revamp:  Tom’s Foodie Blog Review of P.F. Chang’s:/
  • Pitfire Pizza– For anyone who has lived on the border of Newport and Costa or even hung out at Peirce Street Annex, this new restaurant occupies the old Marie Calendars location. This restaurant features rustic pizzas that are cooked in a pit wood-fired pizza oven. This venue will have a large patio and fire pit, perfect for getting some food before hitting up my favorite dive bar across the street. I wonder if they will deliver to Pierce Street. Pitfire Pizza’s Website  Grub Street Los Angeles Blog Post about expansion to the O.C.

Gourmet Burgers

  • 25 Degrees – A upscale Burger and Wine Bar, that also serves alcoholic shakes, in a swanky French bordello ambiance. This Huntington Beach restaurant has an ideal location, just on Main Street to attract their target audience. Initial reports indicate this place has, “Giant and Juicy Burgers that will make you Tap Out half-way though.” Yelp reviews are mostly high with a couple bitter reviewers in the mix.  25 degrees website Yelp review of 25 Degrees.
  • Unami Burger -This upscale version of Fuddruckers is opening two locations in Orange County, Anaheim and Laguna Beach,   and is generating a good deal of buzz. According to their website the ground their own beef, process their own cheese and pickle their own vegetables. I admit I am curious about this restaurant, despite the gimmicky name. Unami Burger Website Nancy Luna’s Article about Unami in the OC Register
  • DG Burger – The sluttier side of Charlie Palmers Bloomingdales restaurant that features gourmet burgers that will make you salivate. Yelp and Urban Spoon reviewers are giving it either very high or very low reviews. The DG in its name stands for “Dam Good”, I will have to bring back a report. DG Burger Website  Yelp Review for DG Burger


Gastro Pubs

  • The Side Door – A gastropub attached to the Five Crowns restaurant in Corona Del Mar. Each time I visit the Five Crowns for dinner, I secretly want to go The Side Door instead.  This is a British themed Gastropub and there is a heavy emphasis on chartuerie, cheese, sandwiches.   The Side Door Website   Yelp Review of The Side Door
  • Lola Gaspar – A Gastropub in the Santora building of Santa Ana Artist’s District. This Gastropub that has generated a solid buzz among the foodies in my circle of friends. Rumor has it that this venue has great food and a nice craft beer selection. I am told this place might remind you of visiting a tapas bar in the alleys of Barcelona  Lola Gaspar Website Yelp Review for Lola Gaspar
  • Haven Gastropub – I am been here but never written a review, I will be back to take pictures and get a feel for the quality, service and seasonal menu on my return visit. Their food is spot on and always has a great craft beer selection. I have never been disappointed by a meal here, although recent Yelp reviews have seen complaints about the price to quantity ratio. I will do my due diligence and eat here to write a blog; again I will make the sacrifice for my readers 😉  Haven Gastropub Website Yelp review for Haven Gastropub
    • Bru – New establishment in Lake Forest attempting to blend chef centric and craft beer in a Gastropub setting. Bru has an interesting  wholesale wine purchase / Corkage  system as well. Does the concept work in the bedroom community of Lake Forest? Let’s find out.  Bru Website Yelp Review

www.TomsFoodieBlog.com Top 10 Gourmet Food Trucks of 2011

25 Dec

2011 was the year that food trucks exploded on the scene across the country and mainstreaming a niche foodie cult. Orange County became ground zero for the proliferation new food trucks (good and bad), food truck lot turf wars, high-end chefs going mobile and the movement even produced a couple of celebrities as a result of the Great Food Truck Race television show. By the end of 2011, there were some casualties as some trucks failed, while other’s flourished. This top 10 list is based on my personal observations and multiple visits to each truck I listed. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my list. Thanks to all the food truck owners for making my lunch hour pleasant and for being the genesis of Tom’s Foodie Blog.

#1- Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon – This truck features rustic Southern Italian Cuisine, with a high-end flare. The truck is owned and operated by a  former Ritz-Carlton Chef, Joe Youkhan. He knows how to perfectly integrate high-end ingredients into food truck friendly fare. Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon epitomizes the true essence of the gourmet food truck movement and does it with a foodie friendly flare.

Must Try Dishes: Foie Gras Slider and any of his flat bread pizzas

#2 – SlapFish Truck Truck specializing in sustainable seafood dishes. Not only do Chef Andrew Gruel and Jethro Naude prepare fish dishes to perfection and they bring a creative twist to their dishes. Since their fish comes from sustainable fisheries and are not on endangered or watch lists, you can feel good about eating these dishes.

Must Try Dishes: Lobsticle, Major Crunchy, and “Because we have to” fish tacos

#3 – Chomp Chomp Nation – This truck features Singapore Street Hawker style dishes, customized to the American Palate. This truck uses O.G. Singapore recipes from an O.G. Singapore Native Shaun Ng, and operates along side with his business partner Robert Zuetell. Some of this dishes use up to 26 ingredients and are full of complex flavors. The truck’s dishes are truly amazing and the food is always fresh. This truck did a good job at picking a niche theme and basing their entire menu around it.

Must Try Dishes: Surf and Turf Combo, Singapore Sloppy Joe, Hibiscus Ice Tea, Chili Crab Cake

#4 – SeaBirds – This is a Vegan and all girl operated Food Truck. Seabirds offers exclusively plant-based, raw and vegan dishes. To anyone who doesn’t think they will like this type of food, guess again! I avoided this truck for almost 3 months until I tried it for the first time and then I was hooked! The food is amazingly fresh, vibrant and you feel good about eating these dishes.

Must Try Dishes: Deep Fried Avocado Tacos, Jack Fruit Tacos, Locals Burrito, Coconut Crusted Deep Fried Mango

#5 The Lime Truck – This truck specialized with fresh/local ingredients and high-end menu. This truck won the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network and have expanded operations to three trucks. Although the original dream team is no longer together, the owner Daniele Shemtob still manages to keep the fresh food rolling out to the same high standards. I am hoping 2012 is the year that The Lime Truck starts resumes offering new and innovative items each week.

Must Try Dishes: Yum Yum Lamb Sandwich, Carnitas Fries, Ahi Tuna Poke Nachos

#6 – Dos Chinos – An amazing fusion concept truck that blends Vietnamese with Mexican Cuisine with a whole lota love. The owner, Hop Phan, grew up in Garden Grove and regularly would trade and mix and match Vietnamese Food with Mexican food to create innovative fusion dishes. When Hop grew up he opened up a food truck that capitalized on this fusion food concept.

Must Try Dishes: Stoner Burrito (on the secret menu), Hollywood Chicken, Garden Grove Taco, Surf and Turf Taco (on the secret menu)

#7 – Home Skillet – A newer truck on the scene that features a modern twist on Americana Comfort food and infuses occasional hints of Asian seasoning. The owner of the truck Chef Christie Morisoli is a classically trained chef who has worked at some of the top restaurants in San Francisco and O.C. This truck’s dishes have clean flavors and will make your Mama jealous

Must Try Dishes:  Mini Lamb Burger, Pomegranate  Riblets, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Fried Mac N Cheese Balls

#8 – The Lobsta Truck – Real Lobster or Crab on a bakery roll, that is pretty much it! This truck takes a North-Eastern Lobster shack and puts it on wheels. The Lobsta truck takes real crab  or lobster and shoves it into a fresh bakery roll. This truck offers very simple but amazing dishes, but it’s not cheap

Must Try Dishes: Lobster Roll (mayo based or Butter glazed), Crab Roll (mayo based or butter glazed), Clam Chowder Soup

#9 – Bacon Mania – This truck’s bacon based menu makes me smile because Bacon = Happiness. Baconmanias dishes all involve some aspect of bacon or pork. Extremely delicious food.

Must Try Dishes: Chili, Bacon Wrapped dates, Bacon wrapped Hotdog, speedy Gonzalez

#10 (tie) – Front Porch Pops – Gourmet and hand crafted popsicles from a push cart. Although this vendor is not a truck (actually a push cart), don’t judge Erin Witcomb’s Popsicle cart by its size. She produces some of the best gourmet items in the food truck scene. In the summer, there is a line forming for her yummy treats

Must Try Desserts: Monkey’s Gone to Heaven, Salted Caramel

#10 (tie) – Chunk N Chip : A desert truck that combines homemade ice cream with fresh-baked cookies to create custom ice cream sandwiches. Although this truck has a standard menu, you are encouraged to mix and match Ice Cream and cookies to make it your own.

Must Try Desserts: Snicker Doodle , Red Velvet

Images from OC Foodie Fest and Judging the “Best in Show” Food Contest

27 Aug

This years Foodie Fest made some amazing gains in improving the overall festival experience and ensuring easy access to the food trucks. There was plenty of water stations, lots of entertainment, and the lines for the food trucks were in control (except for the celebrity trucks). If you saw me there, I was wearing the full body pig costume and served as a judge for the “Best in Show” contest. This contest pitted all the food trucks against each other to determine who had the best dish of the  festival. The dishes were rated on presentation, taste and originality (if you remember the movie Porky’s you might find the humor in this rating scale). When I was handed a scoring sheet, my eyes opened wide when I saw that there was 70 trucks in the competition! The first few dishes were awesome and I ate most of them; although, the dishes kept coming and I couldn’t keep up. Each of the truck owners personally presented their dishes and lovingly explained the ingredients and cooking process. By my 15th dish, I was starting to feel the side effects of overeating. My co-judges were also starting to look a green and gave me that “I wish I didn’t eat too much of the early dishes” look. Although we all took our responsibilities seriously and put our personal pain aside to give each of the food trucks the respect and careful culinary examination their dishes deserved. By the end, we all felt like we went through a gastromic bonding experience.   A couple standouts from the competition includ the Panifiti Truck for a really awesome tri-tip panini, Dogzilla for a creative spicy kilbasa, Bacon Mania for their bacon balls and Sea Birds for their deep fried avacado tacos.  All the trucks did a great job, so many thanks for the food truck owners for the great dishes!

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