Tag Archives: down town

The Raleigh International Festival – 2014

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mary_smThis past week was the Raleigh International Festival. This was my first time going. I was concerned that the traffic would be bad and there would not be parking. I arrived a few minutes before the 11 o’clock start time, and easily found a parking spot in the garage next to the event. It was a short walk across the street and I was in the venue. I had pre-purchased my ticket and was pleased that there was a short line for us.

I started talking to the woman in front of me. She was from Romania. She stated she had been to the festival yesterday and had returned today. She began telling me about the food. She said her favorite thing from the day before was the Columbia arepas, which are corn cakes made from pre-cooked corn flour, salt and water, cooled then cooked on a griddle. A sandwich is made with chicken or beef. She said there was a great tomato sauce. She said it was the most popular food booth yesterday and that they ran out of food. I knew that I must try it.

Inside there were many booths, some selling items made in their country, while others were informational. Tee shirts were for sale and of course I had to get one. I also purchased a cookbook, which vendors from the previous year had contributed their recipes.

It was time to start looking about what I wanted for lunch. There was so much to choose from. The first booth was an African booth, they had samosas stuffed with either beef or peas. Since I hate peas, I selected the beef and it was wonderful. A soft flakey crust with delicately seasoned beef inside cooked to perfection. Nearby was a Filipino booth. They had a vegetable pancit, made with rice noodles, carrots, onion, cabbage and bell peppers. I was somewhat disappointed because I wanted pancit with beef, pork, shrimp and chicken, like I had when I lived in New Jersey and had many Filipino friends. I have never been able to make it myself, and was hopeful I would get a good sampling. The vegetable was okay, but the other is spectacular. I also wanted a beef lumpia roll which is a Filipino egg roll, this is better than the traditional egg rolls, however all they had was chicken, so I passed.

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There was Thai food, Greek food, French pastries, Iranian food, Japanese food – then I came to the Lebanese booth. I saw they had Kibi on the menu. There are several types of kibi and was happy to find that they had the stuffed shell kibi. The outter shell is made with bulgar wheat and finely ground lamb along with some spices. A ball is formed, then hollowed out in the center to allow for the placement of ground or chopped lamb, onion, pine nuts and seasoning. It is then fried to a nice golden brown. I ordered it, and it looked great. I tasted it with some tzatziki sauce made from cucumber, garlic and yogurt and I felt transported back to one of my favorite restaurants in Tucson, Arizona called the Shish Kabob.   I could taste and smell the humus, baba ganoush a wonderful dip made from egg plants and sesame paste and the meat stuffed grape leaves. I looked for these items, but came away empty handed, but the wonderful kibi was enough.

My next stop was the Columbia booth. I had to try the arepas. However it was not meant to be because, they had to make everything from scratch and would not have the beef ones ready for nearly 1-2 hours. I went away empty handed. The vendor, stated he sold these items out of his home to order, however he did not have any business card to give me.

Next door was a Polish booth who was selling pierogies. I asked what kind he was selling and he stated he had only made the potato and cheese, since they were the most popular. I had gone to a Polish restaurant in New York City, close to Macy’s that had both savory and sweet pierogies, ranging from prunes, to cherry to mushroom to sauerkraut, that were fried with butter and onions.

My final stop was to the Vietnamese booth, to get some bubble tea. This was not the bubble tea that I was accustomed to. This was a strawberry sorbet with some large tapioca at the bottom. It was not too sweet and made a great end to the food sampling.

There were food demonstrations; the one at this time was for Pad Thai. There were also dancing from the various countries and people dressed in their traditional costumes. I was glad that I had stumbled on to this festival and will definitely plan on returning next year.

The Traveler

 

 

 

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Movie Review for ‘A 100 Foot Journey’

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Since I was not reviewing or eating at food trucks, I went to see the movie, The 100 Feet Journey. While not about food trucks, it a movie about food, change, memories and adaptation. The Kadam family was tragically displaced from their home in India; first moving to England, the settling in France. The father, played by Om Puri, decides to open an Indian restaurant that is located across the street from a well-established French restaurant operated by Madame Mallory played by Hellen Mirren.

Hassan Kadam played by Manish Daval, a young aspiring cook, taught by his mother and self-taught wants to learn to cook French food, while still keeping true to his India roots. His mother had told him scent and taste of food contains the memories of his dead family and friends.

It depicts how change is hard, yet people are adaptable. It made me nostalgic, bringing back memories of the smells of Grandma’s kitchen, my Mom cooking holiday meals and my Dad making coffee and cooking his breakfast after Mom died. I can still smell it all.

While not the best movie I have ever seen, I enjoyed, as did Jack and Bob whom I smuggled into the theatre, since they were bored staying at home. I gave the movie ‘three tires.’ Bob and Jack agreed.

mary_smThe Traveler

Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo – 3rd Edition

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Walking or driving through downtown Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street, you will pass through the business district. Fayetteville Street is tree lined with many benches and tables, giving you an opportunity to relax and enjoy the diversity that has attracted many businesses and residents to call Raleigh, North Carolina their headquarters and home. If, by chance, you are a resident of the greater Triangle Area, you are aware of a myriad of festivals and events that use the Raleigh Downtown district as their backdrop. These events attract thousands of participants from around the state, as well as from around the country. There are several activities to participate in on any given weekend. Once you decide what peaks your interest you can avoid the parking hassles by taking Uber.

For Triangle Street Eats, our vice happens to be food trucks. We have found the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo with its energetic atmosphere and numerous food trucks offering diverse flavors to be an event worth attending, again and again.

Attendees are often left to navigate a labyrinth of food trucks and crowds, in order to sample the wonderful fare offered by nearly 50 venders. There are locally crafted beers that can be sampled as well. When you see how the Downtown District is used as a backdrop for this event, you will understand why this event is so popular. If you haven’t had an opportunity to participate in a Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo, and have been meaning to, you have one more opportunity to do so this year on Sunday, October 12, from 1pm – 6pm.

As is typical for larger events, The Friends started to form a plan-of-action a week or so in advance. Since we have sampled fare from many of the food truck participants, we tried very diligently to sample from those we hadn’t tried yet, as well as from a few tried and true. Below you will find the results of our effort, as well as their links. It is important to appreciate some of what we sampled was specifically offered for the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo attendees, as is not necessarily part of their regular menu.


 

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Food Trucks We Visited:

From Virgil’s Jamaica, the Belle and I had sampled the Jerked Chicken before. I enjoyed this flavorful island dish, and asked the Traveler to try it for herself. She said that it was moist and to her liking, but could have used more heat.

From King Creole, we had the blackened pork chop, which again the Belle and myself had sampled at the 2nd Food Truck Rodeo, but the Traveler had not. She commented that it was wonderful in both taste and portion size. She will definitely repeat.

From Hanu Food Truck we sampled the B.S. (Brussel sprouts). They were incredible with a creative medley of flavors. Look forward to having these again, since none of us eat enough greens. We also sampled their duck dumplings, which were delight flavorful, and the dipping sauce was sweet and tangy.

From Parlezvous Crepe, we had a savory special, which is not a regular menu item. It consisted of a delicate crepe, wrapped around smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill and onion. Highly recommended by the friends

Dank Burrito Truck offered jerk chicken tacos, which was one of my favorites of the event. The Traveler commented that it was spicy and great tasting. She loved the moistness of the chicken and would definitely eat it again. A glowing review if ever there was one.

We sampled the truffle mac bites from Olio & Aceto before, and had them again at the Raleigh Downtown Food Truck Rodeo. As they were previously, they were to our collective liking and would recommend them to anyone looking for gooey goodness.

From Mama Dukes, we sampled their breaded shrimp. They were tasty but would have preferred more shrimp and less fries and salad. $10 for only 5 shrimp is over-priced.

From Barone Meatball we sampled the crab balls. We collectively determined that they had too much filler, and seemed slightly undercooked.

From American Meltdown, one of most popular food truck in the Triangle, we sampled their Pigs & Figs. It is no wonder that this is one of their more popular sandwiches – very sweet, smooth and moist.

From Gussy’s Greeks, we sampled Greek Lasagna and gyro. The lasagna was not spicy enough. The béchamel sauce was light and fluffy, but lacked flavor. The gyro, on the other hand was very good, loved the meat and sauce.

The sheer amount of food that can be sampled at one of these events can be overwhelming. Try as we did, it was impossible to taste more than we did, even when we paced ourselves. One thing is certain, to experience one of these events first-hand is a must if you want to get a feel for the extraordinary phenomena culture surrounding food trucks, and all things related, like this blog. Stay hungry my friends!

The Traveler, Southern Belle and Bad Boy

 

 

 

Halal Brothers at Park-It in the Market

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mary_smThe Traveler:

During my travels, I have had the opportunity to experience many different types of food. While living in the UP of Michigan, I became friends with a wonderful woman from Pakistan, named Aisha. She was happy to share her culture with me. We would take trips to Milwaukee so she could obtain Halal food items to cook for her family and fortunately for me. I was introduced to wonders of Halal Pakistani cuisine.

When I looked at the list of food trucks that would be at the Holly Springs Food Truck rodeo, I was both surprised and pleased. I knew immediately I wanted to sample and review the Halal Brothers Food Truck and took the lead on deciding what we should order. I could not access the Halal menu from their website so I emailed and received the items which would be served. The truck is operated by, Sameer Cheema, Nabeel Cheema and Dominick Stellato, who have relocated to the Raleigh area from Woodstock New York.

I selected Nihari. Nihari is a Pakistani stew consisting of slow cooked beef or lamb garnished to taste and served with rice and naan. The word Nihar originated from the Arabic word “Nahar” which means “morning” after sunrise Fajr prayers. This dish was usually eaten in the early morning.

Halal’s beef stew was fork tender and very flavorful. It was served with rice, lettuce and tomato. The menu stated it was garnished with ginger, jalapenos and ginger, but I did not find those items in our dish. Never the less it was a great dish, that I will be asking my friend Aisha to share her recipe with me to make at home.

The second dish was going to be Biryani, but regretfully it was not available. This is a delicious Pakistani/Indian rice dish, which is often reserved for very special occasions such as weddings, parties, or holidays such as Ramadan. It has a lengthy preparation, but the work is definitely worth it.

Our next selection was a Seekh kabob made with beef and lamb, served with lettuce, rice tomatoes, pita and sauce. A Seekh kabob is a Pakistani and Indian dish, somewhat similar to a shish kebob, which consist of ground meat and spices pressed on to a skewer and cooked on charcoal stove. These kebabs are traditionally cooked using a tandoor, which is a type of oven popular throughout Pakistan, India and the Middle East. There are other types of ovens and grills can work just as well.

I found the Seekh kabob to be tough and slightly dry. I prefer the kabob made with lamb, they are more tender and flavorful. I prefer a heavier hand on the traditional spices, but I will give the chefs the benefit of the doubt assuming they have been modified for the North Carolina palate.

The Falafel was not available so was given Baingan which is a unique yet tasty way of making eggplants and Saag. Saag can be made from spinach, mustard leaves, finely chopped broccoli, or other greens along with added spices. The dishes tasted very good. The only suggestion I would make, would be to use some type of garnish to make the dish more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. A majority of the North Carolinians who attend food truck rodeos are not familiar with the dish.

The Bad Boy and the Belle wanted to sample the beef gyro, the Tawa chicken sandwich and Hummus. The beef gyro needed more sauce. It was an average gyro to my palate. I did not care for the Tawa chicken sandwich. I felt both sandwiches needed more seasoning.

Tawa Chicken is a spicy and succulent quick fix boneless chicken dish that can be prepared in just minutes. Tawa stands for flat-pan or a saucepan. So the literal translation of the name is saucepan chicken. It goes beautifully with fries or potato wedges and some sauce/ketchup or a dip, but can also be served with a simple salad for a healthier twist. This chicken can also be shredded and used as a sandwich filler or a pizza topping. I would suggest adding the salad to their menu. I would also like to see other types of kabobs and roti.

The Hummus was average, once again lacking in seasoning and slightly thick in texture. It was just okay.

I hope the Halal truck will add special items to their menu, since there are so many great Pakistani dishes to sample. I look forward to periodically following this food truck to see if they have followed any of my suggestions

bruce_smBad Boy:

Admittedly, this was my first experience with Halal Pakistani cuisine. I knew beforehand that because of similar spice pallets I had been introduced to, I would find it enjoyable. It could be argued I am always up for a challenge when it comes to cuisine. Reading through the menu, I was both confused, as well as intimidated by what I was getting into. Once I saw the food, I realized there was little about it that was unfamiliar.

The Nihari, a Pakistani stew consisting of slow cooked beef or lamb, reminded me immediately of one of my favorite Cuban dishes, Ropa Vieja, with a similar spice flavoring. I found this dish delightful, and would feel comfortable recommending it to someone familiar with Cuban style food.

The Seekh kabob, which is made with beef and lamb, as in the above dish, resembles more a sausage, than what those of us familiar with kabobs would expect. Though the meat seemed dry, I found it flavorful and distinctive to anything I have had before. I will look forward to sampling Seekh kabob again soon.

The Tawa Chicken, served like a gyro, was one of my favorites. The chunky styled, hearty seasoned chicken went well with a pita wrap, along with a creamy sauce, lettuce and tomato. It was very satisfying, especially if you are a fan of gyros, as I am.

The beef gyro was typical of most gyros, except the meat was spicier and chunky, instead of sliced. The gyro is a very popular food found among food trucks. I suggest you try the beef gyro from Halal Brothers for a culinary comparison. You will not be disappointed.

Side Dishes

The Baingan, a spicy stewed eggplant was surprisingly tasty.

The Saag was not unlike collard or other greens that are popular among residents in North Carolina. I found these a little too mushy for my taste.

The Hummus was uneventful, which is how I feel about Hummus in general anyways.

One of the things that surprised me about the Halal Brothers food truck was the size of it. The thing is huge! The size allows them to provide one of the most diversified menus among other food trucks I have seen. Please take an opportunity to widen your own culinary horizons by visiting Halal Brothers food truck and sampling one or more of the unique fares they offer – I recommend the Nihari. Stay hungry my friends…Bad Boy.

s_belle_smSouthern Belle:

I am familiar with gyros and humus from the Halal Bros Food Truck but I had no idea about other choices available on their menu. I was glad The Traveler made the selections for my introduction to Pakistani cuisine. Nihari and Tawa Chicken were my favorite choices from Halal Bros. The Nihari was served over yellow rice. The meat was very tender and had a pleasant blend of spices that made it very flavorful. The Tawa chicken was spicy and juicy and served as a gyro. Seekh kabob was a combination of beef and lamb flavored with nice spices that I wasn’t used to but liked. Like The Traveler, the kabobs were on the dry side. The beef gyro and humus were average. I feel a little more sauce on both the Tawa chicken and beef gyro would have made them tastier. Since you eat with your eyes first, imagine my surprise when I tasted the unappealing, mush looking Baingan. It had a unique flavor and was very good. Overall, I really enjoyed our choices from the Halal Bros. Food Truck.

bobcat_smBob:

This food made me feel like I was once again living in Michigan. I liked the beef gyro and the Seekh kabob. They were very tasty. I loved the stewed beef and nearly managed to eat it all before Jack ran me off. I did not bother trying the chicken, humus or vegetables. Jack does not know it, but he is scheduled for neutering on September 4. Hehehe!

Jack_smJack:

I ate everything, but did not really care for the eggplant, spinach or hummus. I loved the chicken, beef and the kabob. I ate part of Bobs. I am a growing boy and need lots of food. Bob is old, fat and grumpy. I think Mom likes me best.


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Park-it in the Market Food Truck Rodeo at Holly Springs

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Food truck rodeo events are springing up everywhere, every weekend. It is amazing how this concept has become such a phenomenon throughout the Triangle area. What seems to be just as amazing is the diversity of food that can be found at each one. Belle as usual discovered the food truck rodeo, Park-It in the Market Food Truck Rodeo, to be held at the Holly Springs Farmer’s Market. What was unique about this one was that it combined a food trucks with their Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market. The market was filled with venders selling homegrown fruits, vegetables, flowers, mushrooms, soaps, food and more for visitors. It is also interesting to note that this will be an annual event, yet another first!

At first, it seemed that the attendance was hampered by a light drizzled that lingered in the morning. As the weather improved, a crowd started to form. Since the rodeo started at 9 am, we headed straight to the food trucks to check out our choices for breakfast. Belle and the Bad Boy got in line for waffles. Having waiting for some for the opportunity to sample the waffles prepared by Belgian Waffology, the Belle and Bad Boy ordered the sweet strawberry waffles. This food truck has one of the best following in the Triangle, and it is no wonder. Golden, crispy and delicate, they provide a delectable medium for strawberries and whipped cream. The Traveler on the other hand wanted something more savory. At Big Mike’s BBQ, she found Big Mike grilling a homemade sausage for himself and asked him to fix one for her too.

While dining, Belle, The Traveler and Bad Boy shared a table with Tamara Ward, the Communications Specialist for the Town of Holly Springs, and one of her young sons. They were enjoying the ‘choco waffle,’ another one of Belgin Waffology’s specialties that infuses chocolate right into the waffle itself. We took a minute to share our thoughts on our choices. Like Belle and Bad Boy, Tamara and her son enjoyed the hearty sweetness of their waffle choices. The Traveler shared that the sausage was seasoned well, with the right amount of heat and she was enjoying her breakfast sausage biscuit. The friends also used this time to finalize plans for the rest of the day. The Traveler headed off for an appointment and would be joining Belle and Bad Boy later for lunch. We collectively had planned on enjoying breakfast, then get a modest sampling from Halal Bros, a Pakistani inspired food truck to have for lunch and to use in our next review, coming out later in the week.


 

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Belle and Bad Boy decided to take time to stroll through the market before placing orders for lunch. They took home handmade soaps, award winning baklava and cinnamon buns to have with Sunday morning coffee. After making these purchases, Belle and Bad Boy headed over to put in the orders for The Friends’ lunch at Halal Bros and Valentino’s for pale ale poppers as appetizers. These poppers definitely lived up to their reputation of being hot and flavorful.

The morning was a great way to spend a Saturday morning in a quaint town talking with people and appreciating small town life.

The Traveler, Belle and Bad Boy.

Wake Forest Food Truck Rodeo

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bruce_sm In this edition of Pounding Pavement, we review the first Wake Forest Food Truck Rodeo. 15 miles north of Raleigh is a community steeped in southern pride and charm, a community rich with heritage and societal tolerance, the Town of Wake Forest. This community recently hosted its first Food Truck Rodeo to an overwhelming success. The event was held at the Renaissance Center, 419 South Brooks St. The location, a mall parking lot that has a bowling alley and classic car dealership, gave ample room needed to facilitate the event. The occasion was largely the effort of food truck vender, Virgil and Taffy Wilson, of Virgil’s Jamaica.

The Belle and I arrived early. The traveler was not able to attend due to a previous engagement. It had been raining since about 10 am, but we were certain that the skies would clear, and the afternoon would be dryer. We were not disappointed. As was usual, we had arrived about 30 minutes early, and took the opportunity to network and decide a plan-of-action; whose food were we going to try and who was going to get our choices. We found the food extraordinarily diverse in both taste and ethnicity; a plus for any event whose foundation is food.

Within 30 minutes, much to our astonishment, a crowd had swelled to fill nearly all of the allotted area encircling the venue. Lines were forming at all the food trucks, and people seemed to be enjoying the cooler than forecasted afternoon. My mind had started to refrain a line from a popular movie that declared, “If you build it, they will come.” Certainly, this event’s attendance will have to be used as the benchmark upon which all other events in Wake Forest will be measured a success.

Because Virgil Wilson was instrumental in making this event possible, it was only fair we sample selections from Virgil’s Jamaica. Our other selections included pizza from Pie Pushers, Tailgater Toby’s BBQ, and Turtle Brownies, sweet treat from Lady Bug’s Treats (a twitted recommendation from Not Just Icing and The Wandering Sheppard). Having grown up in a region of the US, where the Caribbean was my backyard, I am no stranger to ‘Jamaican jerk’ and it enticing flavor of spices. We sampled Virgil’s jerk chicken with dirty-rice and plantains, another food that I am familiar with. I found the jerk flavor liking to my pallet. An excellent rendition of jerk seasoning I remember so fondly from my youth. I also sampled a meat pie, which I am also familiar with and I found this fare genuinely Jamaican, and to my liking as well.


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The Belle and I chose Pie Pushers ‘Bacon N Brie,’ which also had mild peppers to sample. This vender is one of the Triangle’s more popular food trucks, and it is no mystery why. Fresh from the oven, the slices are a hearty, generous portion, a meal unto itself. The crust is thin and crispy, much to our liking. The bacon and brie was a flavorful combination. As Belle says “everything is better with bacon.”

No self-respecting food rodeo in the Triangle would be complete without at least one vender serving BBQ. It was up to Tailgater Toby to carry the BBQ ball! The Belle selected a BBQ pork sandwich, which came with two sides; coleslaw and potato salad. This sample was very good and hearty as well. We both agreed that the red potato salad was above average.

To satisfy our sweet tooth later in the evening, we each got a different sampling from Lady Bug’s Treats. Belle selected the Turtle Brownies, while I chose the Carrot Cake. We found both selections excellent and satisfying. We not only left the rodeo with our evening desserts but also Tee shirts from the House of Swank.

Though this event was touted as Wake Forest’s first Food Truck Rodeo Event, It is this participant’s hope that it will be looked upon as Wake Forest’s First Annual Food Truck Rodeo.            Stay hungry my friends…

The following food trucks were in attendance for the event:

Profile: Hugh Mokry of Green Olive Deli

hughTriangle Street Eats is developing a new series that profiles owners of food trucks. The first of these series profiles Hugh Mokry of Green Olive Deli, a newcomer to the Triangle food truck scene. We caught up with him at Sub Noir Brewing one afternoon, while reviewing his fare for our blog. You can find his review here. If you are a food truck operator, and you would like for us to tell your story, please contact us at Triangle Street Eats. We would love to hear from you.

My story is short and sweet. I have always liked cooking and feeding people. I think when you share food with someone; you are able to connect to them, being if it’s only for a few minutes of contact, especially if your food satisfies their hunger. I was in the automotive business for 35+ years. After selling my business, I decided to turn my hobby and passion into a small business.

I also enjoy helping the local anti hunger efforts, from volunteering at food shelters, to buying pre-packaged groceries, to making food and monetary donations to Raleigh or Durham rescue. I also try to remind people that the problem of hunger exists, and what they can do to help.

Thanks for your interest.

Green Olive Deli – Hugh Mokry

Contact Information:

Facebook – Greenolivedelifoodtruck

Twitter – @godelift

Email – greenolivedeli@gmail.com