Friday, June 29, 2012

Serendipitous Day!

It's a good thing my eldest daughter is so observant, or I might not know about the two latest food trucks at the Manchester Center Farmer's Market.
The first is Summertime Pies,  a family run place that sells "fried and baked sweet and savory mini pies"..    I loves me some pies...both sweet and savory, and fried? Even better!  We tried the peach fried pie, and the beef fried empanada.  The crusts were perfectly flaky, there was a great balance of filling and crust.  The sweet was just sweet enough without being cloying and the savory brought tears of joy to my tummy.  
And one of the nicest families in town runs it..  I spoke extensively with the owner,  John Liles, who with the cook, his lovely wife Sherry has been in the catering business for over 30 years.  They moved to Idaho after selling the business, and decided to come back to Fresno and bless us with their pies.   Today was only their 4th time out with the trailer, and their 2nd at Manchester.   I'm looking forward to many more happy visits to this place.

Summertime Pies on Urbanspoon

The other place, K's Pastas, my eldest found by accident.   I was waiting on our pies, and she said in a conspiratorial voice, "Mom, there's another one."  I said, "What????",  She said, "Yeah, there's another new truck... it's pasta!".     Halleluiah!   I couldn't find out much about the owners or the operation, since their English was limited and my Spanish is rusty.   But we happily ordered a small Shrimp Alfredo to share.   It was delicious!  The shrimp as a good size and there were plenty of them.  Both the linguini and the sauce were cooked perfectly.   We topped everything off with some fresh watermelon juice from the fruit/juice truck across the way (Would you like a little juice with all that crushed watermelon?).  It was a darn good day :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Like I needed an excuse....

My daughter who works at Chukchansi Park,  wasn't working today, and was on the fence about going to watch a game...   I encouraged her to do so....  Why?  So I had an excuse to introduce my husband to a place everyone who lives in Fresno needs to go at least once.... Chris (or April if you will) Meat Market.   

Yes its in a dicey area...near Kern and E St....not so bad on a Sunday afternoon though....but you will wait... this is handcrafted food, and it takes time...   the ordering is confusing if you've not been before but you order and pay at one counter,  the cashier writes your order and any special instructions on a small paper bag, you take the paper bag and give it to one of the men in the food prep area, and then you wait.. and entertain yourself watching them men prepare food, chopping meat, rolling fat burritos,  loading lots of tacos into a bag...   then when yours is ready, they will call either your name or what you ordered...

Today we got a carnitas burrito, and the cheeseburger and fries ...  cheeseburger and fries in a Mexican meat market you ask? YES...oh hell YES....  there's nothing unusual about it,  but its massively tasty, and its a bargain... at 3.99 or 2.99 on Wednesdays...steak fries included....
The burrito was a big fat bastard of a meal...with rice, beans, lots of juicy meat, and salsa..they also give you about a lemon's worth of lemon quarters....DO squirt the juice on your burrito, it cuts the richness..  the burritos are 4.50.    Where else can you stuff 2 people for less than 10 bux?

So don't be a wimp or a snob...go...  you will be rewarded....  they have all the usual meats you'll find on most taco trucks...(including lengua and tripas),  you can get tacos for 1.50 (or 1.00 each on Mondays),  Burritos, single or double burgers with fries included,  tortas, and big sheets of deep fried pigskin.... You can also get those meats and sides by the pound...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lunchtime Quickie Review

No this is NOT a review of a quickie I had at lunchtime... not THAT kind anyhow....pervos....  We went to Maw n Paw bbq today...  on Clovis Ave, a couple blocks north of City Lights....don't act like you've never heard of it and don't know where it is....

Did a quick to-go lunchtime stop in with my honey.   We got the "Big Man" combo with 3 meats and 2 sides.   Chicken, Rib tips, and Brisket.   Sides were Pilaf and Beans.
First off, you've got a good start when you can smell a bbq place before you enter it..means they do things right.   Front room was pretty full at lunch...another good sign.  Service was prompt and pleasant.  Prices are competiive if not better than some similar places.   On to the food.
I'm not usually that big on chicken breast for bbq, but this was the best I've ever had! Meaty, smoky, juicy, tasty...     Rib tips weren't very meaty, bark was dry, but below that was smoky good.   Brisket was sparse, in bits and pieces, and juicy/smoky.  I would have preferred definite slices like they do in Texas.    Have had better pilaf in a pilaf rich town.   Beans were delicious...smoky, not sweet but more like chili beans.   Tried all 3 sauces, wasn't impressed.  And both the hot and smoky had unidentified flavors in them.  Not bad, necessarily, just...driving me crazy trying to figure out what it was...
I think its a good thing that my hands still smell smoky...good bbq should infuse everything with that smell...      I'd definitely recommend a go.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sunday Dinner

My love suggested we go out to dinner.... seemed like a simple enough request and one I was ready and willing to do.  I asked him if he had any place in mind...  "not really" , he said.    He asked if I had any place I wanted to go, I asked what were my options, he said, "anywhere".   Uh oh...  I'm TERRIBLE at making decicsions when I don't have a particular desire in mind..and unfortunately he's the same..  we really should have researched this first, but I don't have my "places to try" list on this computer (its on the broken one), and I was getting pretty hungry already, so when he finally suggested the newish place, Texas Roadhouse, I was game.

Got there just before 5, on a Sunday evening.  I should have known, it was packed.   And there was at least a 20 minute wait.   No thanks..  we drove for about an hour, trying to decide where to go... didn't want fast food, didn't want a sports bar atmosphere, should go to a non-chain place because I feel like local non-chains should always be patronized first, but couldn't think of any nearby off the top of my head without my list.   So we drove...up and down Shaw... up Clovis, through Old Town,...back up Shaw and turned onto Blackstone North, knowing full well that waiting there would be nothing but crowded chains with waiting people.   I thought let's drive through Riverpark proper and see how the parking is, since I was thinking about Dai Bai Dang.  No everywhere....  I remembered Mimi's (yes another chain) and how we hadn't gotten to eat there before because it was packed...but the parking lot looked relatively empty near we stopped and went in.   The place was quiet, pleasant, and mostly deserted.   So we asked to be seated.

Service was good, (except the silly waitress correcting my pronunciation of "beignets" (ben-YAY) with her own incorrect "ben-A".  And the food was very good.   We shared the "Asian Sampler" appetizer,  (coconut shrimp, chicken tender, and potstickers all in a delicious sauce on top of  'Asian Slaw').,  my love had the pork chops (perfectly cooked but not much of the advertised "dijon honey mustard sauce), and really good mashed potatoes.   I had the "Asiago Artichoke Chicken" pasta some such was also very good.  My love enjoyed his Apple Crisp very much for dessert...  as for my "ben-A's", well.. I think the pancake puppies at Denny's are better...  they LOOKED like pancake puppies (not like real beignets") but weren't quite cooked through.   But we will be back now that we know what time to be there... (6 something, Sunday evening).

Most importantly, I got to spend a quiet evening out with my husband, and that alone is worth all the proper New Orleans pastries in the world.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Men with Chainsaws

They're loud, they're proud, they're handsome, and they're cutting down the tree that's been causing havoc in my yard....   and I'm rewarding them with food and drink....

Brunch Casserole
Fresh Fruit Salad
Sticky Sweet Pull Apart Bread
Lemon Mint Iced Tea

Recipes (after a fashion), and pictures to follow....

Brunch Casserole:
about 3/4 of a package of seasoned french fries, thawed and chopped up
4 eggs, beaten with about
1/2 cup milk
1 pkg cocktail weenies cut into halves (I used Aidell's pineapple flavor)
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
1 pkg refrigerator biscuits, cut into quarters
garlic powder
onion powder
curry powder
black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

spray 9 by 13 pan with nonstick spray
place everything but eggs and milk into pan
pour eggs/milk mixture over all.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Fresh Fruit Salad:
Cherries, pitted and halved
Strawberries, quartered                                          
Fresh pineapple, chunks
blackberries, whole
5 or 6 mint leaves
lemon zest and
lemon juice from whole lemon
1/2 cup honey

Mix fruit in bowl, set aside.
Mix mint leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice, and honey in food processor bowl
Mix until finely pureed and pour over fruit and let macerate for at least an hour.

Sticky Sweet Pull Apart Bread:                                                 
1 pkg refrigerator biscuits
1 stick unsalted butter
quarter cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
pinch kosher salt

place everything but biscuits into bowl or cup and melt in microwave...stir vigorously.
Cut biscuits into eighths and put in large bowl with melted stuff and roll around. (The biscuits, not YOU), put biscuits and melty stuff into loaf pan that's been sprayed with nonstick spray.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Lemon Mint Iced Tea:
14 cups water
10 tea bags
lemon zest from 1 lemon
4 mint leaves (chiffonade)
1 cup sugar

Place sugar into 1 cup water and microwave for 2 minutes.  Add 1 more cup of hot water and add tea bags, lemon zest and mint .   Let steep for 1 hour.   Add rest of water into pitcher and strain tea/lemon/mint mixture into pitcher.   Chill.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Viva La Truck Food!

I'm terrible about taking pictures... I don't even OWN a camera...if you see pics, its because my eldest daughter has lent me hers...   anyhow..

I've always loved the idea of food trucks...they're where you are, convenient, less expensive than a sit down meal, and you can try many different things (and I'm ALL about that!)..  

So now, mixed in the with multiple standard Mexican taco type trucks (nothing wrong with that but if you grow up here you get used to it), are two interesting contemporary contenders..  Dusty Buns (who also just opened up a brick and mortar place as well), and Tako BBQ..  

Having had multiple items at both places I can recommend both..  at once even...     Dusty Buns is all about fresh, organic, and local...  sandwiches, tacos, salads, soups, sweets, all with interesting ingredients ...    Tako is our local Asian/Mexican fusion truck...  tacos, burritos, bowls, sliders, all with a Korean/Mexican flair...

I'm really hoping this is just the beginning... a city our size should have a lot more in the way of trucks...hell I'd open one myself if I had the cash, energy, and business management skills (not happening any time soon)...   I think if the city steps up  and shows that its a truck friendly environment, we could really shine, because we surely have the talent... and the demand is definitely there!

So Fresnans, patronize your local trucks and demand more!   And next time there's a city hall meeting on the subject....attend and be heard! Let the powers that be know in no uncertain terms that this is what the people want, and that it will bring good publicity (we NEED it), jobs (we NEED NEED them!), and revenue into the city...and that trucks can peacefully co-exist with brick and mortar places with plenty of business for both.