So I am at Chelsea Studios today taping a Tyra Banks show that will air during show's last week this coming May (Tyra is ending the show after a five-year run). I will post the air date when we get closer, but I was really flattered that she wanted to include me in her final round of shows. It turns out that she is addicted to Bizarre Foods— the show, not the foods themselves. While I was there I missed a bunch of friends who were shooting next door with Martha Look for Gavin Kaysen on The Martha Stewart Show on Monday February 22. Locally grown, he tastes just like chicken. Seriously, he’s one of the good guys and one of the best chefs in the country.
Tony Bourdain and Eric Ripert are launching a new radio show next month. Did you see them on Martha yesterday? Turn & Burn is a five-week series of shows that will launch this Thursday and will air from 7-8 p.m. ET every Thursday through March 18, on Martha Stewart Living Radio, SIRIUS channel 112, and XM channel 157, as part of “The Best of SIRIUS” package. Mario Batali will be live in studio for Turn & Burn ’s premiere. On February 25, Turn & Burn will broadcast live from the South Beach Food and Wine Festival. Anyone headed down there? I had to pass this year and it's killing me, the food is great, the event is even better. Founding Food guru Lee Schraeger also produces the NYC event in October, so if you are going to miss SOBE, get tix now for the NYC weekend and book your hotel and airfare too better safe than sorry. I will be there in NYC for sure. But the point of all this is that Martha is relevant. Very relevant. She has compelling guests and if you love food you should be keeping an eye on her show rundowns and DVR-ing the ones with the stellar food pros.
I have written about our local food truck culture or lack thereof, and I am not buying the argument that we cant support it because of our weather or other lame quibbles. Like many itinerant souls, I love wandering city streets and chowing on street cart fare. It's resonant to me and can help define a city, attract walkers and shoppers, and provide economic relief for families looking to get in the food business, and it brings personality to a neighborhood. Imagine a summery weekday outside the new Target Field, with street vendors supplying the ingredients for a block party fest just like they do on Yawkey Way in Beantown before every Sox home game. Or dozens of vendors hawking at Holidazzle or the Winter Carnival. Relaxing the rules of engagement for vendors is crucial to making this happen. Grow the vendor pool and you will see big results fast as they clamor to define our cities outdoor eating life, and attracting scores of new participants to civic events desperate for new blood and new buzz. How about a seafood fest for Aquatennial! Wonder what it would be like? Check out the carts below, selected from NYC’s Vendy Award nominees. Once you’ve finished drooling, write a letter to your city councilman or state rep or to the mayors office.
Biryani Cart - Meru Sikder
46th and 6th, Midtown Manhattan. ?2008 Vendy Awards People’s Taste Winner
“Biryani cart is the best vendor food in NYC, hands down. My American friends are addicted to it. I’ll put his spicy chicken biryani or spicy buradi rolls up against anything you can get in a restaurant, and Meru and his team will take the prize.”
The King of Falafel - Fares “Freddy” Zeidaies
30th Street and Broadway, Astoria. ?2007 Vendy Awards Finalist
“His food is out of this world. We call his chicken “crack chicken” because you can’t help yourself from coming back Watching them work is like watching a ballet, except instead of nutcrackers there are falafels. They move in synchronized magic, preparing your order in mere seconds, while simultaneously taking scores of orders from the ever-present line of people at their stand. Do these fine men deserve attention? NO! THEY DESERVE GODSHIP! THEY ARE THE FALAFEL PROPHETS!”
Rickshaw Dumpling - Kenny Lao
For locations, check their Twitter or Website.? First Vendy Awards appearance
“Their dumplings are the best I’ve ever had - by far. I will travel far and wide to eat their delicious dumplings - I dream about the Thai chicken ones! I check their Twitter daily to see if they’re nearby - and if they’re even remotely close to where I am, I’ll find them!”
Jamaican Dutchy - O’Neill Reid
51st Street & 7th Avenue, Midtown. ?First Vendy Awards appearance
“Jamaican Dutchy’s food is soooooo delicious, they have a TV playing reggae videos, and they serve up the phenomenal food with a smile. Seriously, the jerk chicken is the best chicken dish in Manhattan. Thank you, Jamaican Dutchy, for bringing authentic Jamaican food to Midtown streets and for being the most entertaining vendor in town!”
Country Boys/Martinez Taco Truck- Fernando & Jolanda Martinez
Red Hook Ball Fields (Clinton and Bay), weekends 9 a.m.-9 p.m. & Brooklyn Flea (Lafayette and Vanderbilt), Saturdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. ?First Vendy Awards appearance
“Every winter I dream of their huaraches and summer afternoons at the Red Hook ball fields. You watch the huaraches get made - pressing and cooking the tortillas, layering meat and cheese and all the other fillings and sauces - and when you are handed this unbelievable huge plate of deliciousness, you wonder how you are ever going to finish it. Next thing you know, it’s gone and you are already planning your next trip to Red Hook for another one.”
Presenting the 2009 Vendy Awards Dessert Finalists
Big Gay Ice Cream Truck - Doug Quint (with Bryan Petroff)
Soft Serve Ice Cream
Location: Varies, check their Twitter (@biggayicecream) and website (biggayicecreamtruck.com).
“Doug’s soft serve is anything but vanilla. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck has a unique and always-changing menu of toppings like curried coconut, wasabi pea dust, trix, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. And really all I can say is Choinkwich: Yummy caramelized bacon, soft serve chocolate ice cream between two cartwheel cookies. Best ice cream sandwich ever.”
Wafels & Dinges - Thomas DeGeest
Location: Varies, check their Twitter (@waffletruck) and website (waflesanddinges.com)
“The waffles have an absolutely fantastic flavor, just like the ones in Belgium! Their add-ons - nutella and pulled pork! - are great, although I don’t always get them because the waffles are delicious by themselves. I’m nominating Wafels & Dinges for SO many reasons - but, mostly because they’re educating Americans one ‘wafel’ at a time’.”
Cupcake Stop - Lev Ekster
Location: Varies, check their Twitter (@cupcakestop) and website (cupcakestop.com).
“As a Southerner I speak with authority when I say this Yankee vendor consistently produces top-notch Red Velvet. It’s like finding creamy grits north of the Mason Dixon line!! The constant introduction and rotation of cupcake flavors creates not just a product to be sold but an experience - every morning I check to see what new surprises have been baked overnight. Thank you for making my work life bearable, and giving me a reason to sneak away from my desk for 20 minutes of sunlight and sugar.”
Presenting the 2009 Vendy Awards Rookie Finalists
Meet the finalists in our 2009 exhibition category, Rookie Vendor of the Year. Thanks to our team of blogger friends (Serious Eats, Fork in the Road, Porkchop Express, Eating in Translation, and Slashfood) for nominating our Rookie finalists! Testimonials from their nominations will follow shortly! In addition to the three finalists below, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck was also nominated, making it the first vendor ever to be nominated in TWO categories: Dessert and Rookie Vendor!
NYC Cravings - Thomas Yang, Diana Yang, Eric Yu
Location: Varies, check their Twitter (@nyccravings) and website (nyccravings.com).
“I chose Cravings because it’s proper street food. Meat and rice — exactly what you want when you’ve been pounding the pavement and you come upon a vehicle that dispenses hot food. Plus, the pork sauce over rice could be a meal on its own.”
Schnitzel & Things - Oleg Voss and Jared Greenhouse
Austrian cuisine, Schnitzel
Location: Varies, check their Twitter (@schnitzeltruck) and website (schnitzelandthings.com).
“The golden shell is the first sign that the fry man knows his business, and the delicate crunch as you slice into your schnitzel is the second. But beneath that thin, crisp breading is what truly distinguishes Schnitzel and Things: pork, chicken, or the ethereal cod, a flaky white wonder.”