Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Detour to the LA Street Food Festival

Carol's away in Thailand this week, so I'm guest blogging until she gets back. For those readers who don't know me, I'm husband Andy, the oft-mentioned "Himself."

This past weekend was the first annual LA Street Food Festival in downtown LA. Over 30 different food trucks gathered to serve up samplings of their tasty wares. No ordinary roach coaches, these trucks were gourmet operations, with offerings ranging from grilled cheese to foie-gras topped french fries.

Eager to try it all, I hopped on the Metro and hooked up with some friends from work for a day of mobile eating.

The Good News

This was an exciting event, no question about that. Rows of colorful trucks greeted us as we entered the gate, and mouth-watering aromas of wonderful things fried, baked and grilled hung in the air. People were happy --despite the late start of event, the growing heat and swelling crowd. As we waited in line for our treats, we chatted with total strangers about which truck we were going to hit next.

And the food? Fantastic. The highlight of the day were the pork sliders and pork buns from The Flying Pig Truck. We shared the plate, but we easily could have ordered one or two more.

I really couldn't decide which of these I liked better. But I think the pork belly steamed buns might edge out the sliders by a hair...

Our next major stop was the Buttermilk truck for a breakfast sampler.

The famous "Brick": Hash brown topped with a fried egg, chorizo gravy, and a biscuit top. Get your doctor's permission before eating one -- but so very tasty!

I'm a sucker for these Red Velvet & Chocolate Chip pancake bites!

 Homemade Doughnuts for dessert, of course!)

Snacking in Line:  gingery, garlicky chicken wings from Mama Koh's! I ate 'em all!

The Bad News

I'm not sure the organizers were prepared for the size of the crowd. We were fortunate to arrive early, and made it through the gates with only a relatively short wait. But the longer we were there, the larger the crowd got -- and the waits for the more popular trucks grew to well over an hour each. It helped that we took a "divide and conquer" approach, splitting our group to maximize each hour we spent waiting. But in the end, there were just too many trucks we couldn't get to. The lines for those trucks grew so long they almost seemed to merge into one giant Uberline that wrapped around the venue.

Unfortunately, that happened outside the gates as well -- where wait times just to get in exceeded two hours. Another friend who had planned to meet us gave up-- and seeing the updates of other friends on Twitter and Facebook, he wasn't the only one.

I don't want to end on a negative note, however. This was the first year for the fest, and these sorts of issues usually work themselves out. Kudos to getting the show off the ground, and to the crews of the trucks, who I'm sure worked their butts off to feed us. I'm hoping it returns next year, and judging from the popularity of the event, I'm betting it will.

In the meantime, I gotta start hunting those trucks down in their native habitats....

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