what luck, a food truck!

I hope you all enjoyed Todd’s guest post yesterday, I certainly did.

Before I get started with today’s post, I want to say happy, happy birthday to my dad!  I couldn’t ask for a better one and I’m looking forward to celebrating you at dinner tonight. Love you, Dad!

Now, onto the post!

Even though we have a lot of good options as far as restaurants go, one thing that our city is lacking is food trucks.  I started hearing about the food truck scene in LA, Seattle, Austin and Portland awhile ago and I just love the idea.  Sure we have some street vendors around, hot dog carts and the occasional ice cream truck but there just aren’t any good options for fast, interesting food.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  Recently, maybe a year ago, a local restaurant started a food truck here which is great news for people like me.  It’s called What the Truck and is owned by one of my favorite local restaurants, The Winchester.

Last night, Todd was going to go out with friends and I was going to stay home.  Then he mentioned that they were going to a community event, the Local First Street Party.  I was interested but not totally sold on going.  Then I found out that What the Truck was going to be there and I immediately decided to go.  Is it sad that the promise of food is the best way to get me out of the house?  Don’t answer that.

This would be my first time eating from a food truck and I couldn’t wait.  We got to the party, met up with our friends, bought some food tickets and then I made a beeline to What the Truck.  They were offering tacos, a veggie burrito and steak satay.  I settled on the steak when I saw that it had chimichurri sauce, an Argentine favorite.

After a short wait my steak satay was ready.  The meat had great flavor, the grilled vegetables were quite delicious and I was one satisfied customer.

I will definitely be trying food from What the Truck again.  It was delicious and I love the concept of freshly cooked, delicious food to go.  And who could resist that fun, brightly colored truck?  It just looks like a good time.

After enjoying my food truck grub we had a few beers and eventually some ice cream.  Todd ordered a hot dog too and I convinced him to get a few inches of it with just ketchup so I could try it.  I’m not a huge hot dog person but these were from a new hot dog place, Jonny B’z Dog and More and rumor had it they were the best dogs around.  They’re all-beef and they grill the buns so they’re a little crispy, like a grilled cheese.

Now that was one delicious hot dog.  They offer hamburgers and sandwiches at their shop too and I wouldn’t be surprised if Todd and I grabbed a meal or two there this summer.

We also enjoyed a beer or three (or four) from Founders, a local brewery. I opted for Cerise, a cherry ale.  Delicioso.

As if the food and beer choices weren’t enough we were also treated to great entertainment.  Local hip hop band, A.B! and Coconut Brown played and they were awesome.  The whole crowd was into it and we danced the night away.  The band has a great jazz-inspired horn section with trombone, saxophone and trumpet that accompanies their keyboardist, drummer, bassist and guitarist.  The full band added a lot of depth to the music.  They had great energy and really got the crowd going.  Hands up, hands up, Coconut Brown!  I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it onto the national scene one of these days.

Needless to say, I’m glad that I decided to go out last night.  The street party was a great time.

Do you enjoy local street parties or festivals?

Are there food trucks in your area?  If so, what’s your favorite food truck treat?

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guest post – i’m a cooker

Hello world – Todd, here. I’m Kate’s husband, though if you’re reading this, you probably already knew that. I’m thoroughly honored to be the first (of many?) guest bloggers on Pomelo Sunshine. Without further ado, please enjoy my (guest) post.

Just because you run doesn’t mean you’re an Olympian. Nope, you’re just a runner.

Just because you blog doesn’t mean you’re an author. Nope, you’re just a blogger.

Just because you cook, doesn’t mean you’re a chef. Nope, you’re — like me – just a cooker.

You might be a cooker if, while reading a recipe, you ask yourself, ‘What the heck is neutral oil?’ (Turns out it is a neutral-flavored oil, like canola oil.)

You might be a cooker if you can’t fathom how Kate takes the time to take photos while she cooks because cooking is far too frantic of activity to mix photography with.

You might be a cooker if you aim for Top Chef Masters, but end up looking more like Worst Cooks in America.

That said, I’ve learned (mainly from Kate – more on that in a minute), that you can put together some pretty delectable dishes, even if you’re just a cooker. As proof, I offer you BBQ Chicken Nachos.

I even made the bbq sauce myself. I mainly used this recipe from Macheesmo, making a few substitutions along the way – extra ketchup and brown sugar to make the sauce thicker and sweeter, and subbed the whole white onion for a half red onion – it’s what we had. Plus, the jalapenos only went on one side of the nachos – they’re a no-go for Kate.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, they turned out wonderfully, and were quite delicious. Despite being married to Kate, I’m really dispassionate about food. Maybe it is because I just don’t feel strongly about food, or maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I never bothered to learn to cook. At all. Kate and I made jello together on our first date (as preparation for a bake-off my family was doing), and she mostly had to teach me how to make jello. Did you know you can layer jello? Did you know you can put whip cream in jello? Did you know that you pull the pork AFTER you cook it when you make pulled pork? I’ve learned all of this, and much more, while cooking with (and for) Kate.

In my time as a cooker, I’ve developed the following rules for cooking:

Rule 1: Follow the recipe exactly.

Rule 2: Only make things you are (reasonably) sure you’ll like: that way, when you’re black bean and corn burgers turn into black bean and corn scramble, it will at least taste (reasonably) good.

Rule 3: Have confidence. You’ll always be surprised by what you can cook up if you just try (especially if you’re following a recipe).

So whatever it is you do, run, blog, cook, whatever – remember, you don’t have to be an Olympian, author, or chef, to enjoy it. And isn’t that what matters?

Ok, since this is Kate’s blog, I think I should end it the way she does, so…

What are your rules for cooking?

What do you enjoy doing, even though you’re far from a pro at it? 

festival 2011 – alexis steals the show

So what is Festival?  Officially known at the Festival of the Arts, Festival is an annual celebration held each June in Grand Rapids since 1970.  It all started when Alexander Calder installed “Le Grande Vitesse“, known as The Calder around here,  in Grand Rapids in 1969.  The next year, in celebration, Festival began in honor of the artwork that has become the symbol of our fair city.

Since I can remember, Festival has been a part of life each summer, happening the first weekend in June, marking the end of the school year and beginning of summer.  In high school we’d walk downtown to see a few (free) shows, hang out with friends and eat food from the booths run by community organizations.  My favorites growing up were the ice cream and elephant ear stands but in high school, friends opened me up to the world of Greek, Vietnamese and Bosnian foods.  Always, always a good time was had by all.

This year, Todd and I walked down to meet up with some friends who were coming to see a local band, Alexis.  Before we met them we got dinner.  Lines were long for the Bosnian food and a Vietnamese co-worker had already brought amazingly delicious spring rolls from one of the Vietnamese booths into work on Friday so we settled for BBQ Chicken sandwiches and fries.  These weren’t just any fries those. They were bacon dusted fries.  I don’t have to tell you that they were delicious.  Yes, I’m a fatty, haha.

Now that we have my gluttony out of the way, back to Alexis.  I had never seen them before and goodness, gracious, I had no idea what I was missing.  Alexis is a local electro-pop duo.  Normally they wouldn’t be on my musical radar but man, these guys are so entertaining.  The lead singer, Matt, – postman by day, rockstar by night – lights up the stage and Dan, the keyboardist, provides equally entertaining backup.  On top of it, I am still singing their super catchy tunes a day later.

I’m positive that words cannot describe the Alexis experience.  I’ve never seen shorts that tight or dance moves so flamboyant and enthusiastic.  I can honestly say that I can’t wait to see them in concert again.  There’s something entirely infectious about seeing performers who so clearly love what they do.

After Festival we headed to a new local bar, Pyramid Scheme for a few drinks.  We ended up staying for a few hours and probably two hours into it the guys were busy playing pinball and us girls were chatting near the window and guess who walked up?  Alexis.  We went crazy like teenage girls at a BSB concert.  They were gracious and, I think, flattered.  We were still talking about it half an hour later.  I must say, being a groupie could be a fun gig.  I’m so glad Alexis played Festival, I’m officially a fan.

Are there any local bands that you love?

Does your town have any annual festivals or events you look forward to?

ann arbor farmer’s market

On Saturday, Todd and I made a trip down to the Ann Arbor farmer’s market.  We were heading to Crate and Barrel and Ikea to pick up furniture and figured Ann Arbor would be the perfect place to stop for lunch and a quick stroll through the farmers’ stalls.

It was flower day at the market which would have been perfect – I’ve been looking forward to buying some flowers and herbs to grow on our deck – but I didn’t want to run the risk of the dirt flying all over the back of the car or not having room for the furniture we were buying that day.  The plants had to wait.

I was surprised that there wasn’t more produce at the market but it makes sense since here in Michigan most fruits and vegetables won’t be ready for a few more weeks.

The farmer’s market there is much bigger than our local one and it was fun to walk through.

Before we left, we made one purchase.  One of my favorite things, a result of my study abroad in Buenos Aires, is a good alfajor (that’s pronounced al-fa-hore).  Alfajores come in a variety of flavors but my favorite are two shortbread cookies with dulce de leche filling.  The can either be eaten as they are, dusted with powdered sugar, edged with coconut flakes or covered in chocolate.  All of these combinations are delicious.

I recently found out that an Ann Arbor based company, Maitelates, sells their alfajores at the Ann Arbor farmer’s market.  The company is owned by a Chilean woman who makes the alfajores from a family recipe.  For more on her and the business, read this.

Honestly, that was the real reason we stopped in Ann Arbor.  They happened to be the first booth we saw when we walked in and we wasted no time picking out several different flavors – dulce de leche (the classic), coffee (for Todd), peanut butter, almond and a few more dulce de leche for good measure.

[photo from alionthego.com]

We tried them today and the stop in Ann Arbor was definitely worth it.  The cookies were buttery and light, the dulce de leche was delicious and the chocolate covering all of that sweet deliciousness was amazing.  For some reason, I wasn’t expecting the semi-sweet chocolate and it was dark and thick and just perfect.

I’m looking forward to getting to our own farmer’s market.  It’s only a few blocks away from our apartment so I plan on lots of Saturday morning walks there throughout the summer.  Just another week or so and the produce will be filling up the stalls, I can’t wait!

What is your favorite non-produce item at your local farmer’s market?

What are you looking forward to buying at the farmer’s market this summer?

who i read wednesday

I haven’t been able to get into What I Ate Wednesday so I decided that I’d go another route tonight.  Recently, some of my good, real life friends have been getting into the blogging world and I wanted to share their blogs with you.

stinkandhincks

My good friends Sarah and Lindsey have start a blog called stinkandhincks.  Sarah is Stink and Lindsey is Hincks and they’ve grown up and left the Mitten (that’s Michigan for those of you who don’t know) and the blog features their exciting adventures in NYC and Cincinnatti.  They’re only a week into it but so far, it’s been highly entertaining plus, I love these girls so for me it’s a win-win to keep up with their daily happenings.  Seriously, you’ll love these two.

The Mode Life

The Mode Life is a blog that multiple women from in and around Michigan contribute to.  One of those contributors is my wonderful sister, Emily.  This week they posted her first entry and soon after, her second!  She has lots of wise things to say as do the rest of the ladies so read up.

The Smiths

Jess and Erik are some of my nearest and dearest friends and proud parents to little Owen who will be 1 year old on Saturday.  Since he was born they’ve been keeping us all up to date on his adventures, growth and irresistible cuteness through their blog.  Seriously, if you’re looking for a cute baby blog, this is the one.

Of course there are lots of other blogs that I read that are written by blog friends or by people I don’t know at all.  You can find these on my favorites page.

Do your friends blog?

What are some of your favorite blogs?

saturday in denver – graduation

The reason for our trip to Denver this weekend was the graduation of Todd’s younger brother, Scott, from law school.  Now the family is even more jam-packed with attorneys.  Everyone is an attorney except me and Todd’s mom – crazy, huh?  Thankfully they now how to not talk shop at the dinner table so we all get along just fine.

We arrived in Denver on Friday evening and Todd’s brother and his wife, my new siblings-in-law, greeted us at the airport.  When we got to their house I met their dog, Turtle, for the first time.

Turtle is huge.  I’d heard the stories but I really wasn’t expect him to be so big.  I’ve never met a dog before who weighs more than I do!  Thankfully after some obedience classes he’s just a big ball of love.

The graduation was at 10:00 on Saturday morning so we all got up and went to the ceremony at the University of Denver.  The ceremony was nice and we were all proud to see Scott get hooded as he officially became a law school graduate.

After the graduation we all met outside to congratulate the new grad and snap some family photos.

After graduation we went out for brunch at Satchel’s on 6th, “a nice little place to eat and drink” per their slogan. I would agree.  They have a very limited menu but lots of things sounded good.  I ended up ordering a mimosa with Tang on the rim while I was deciding.

The Tang on the rim was a great touch.  I hadn’t had Tang since I was about 10 years old and it brought back great memories.  I basically licked the whole edge clean before touching the mimosa.

I finally ordered their farm fresh ricotta.  I’d say it was a good decision.  I tend to overeat at brunch (Don’t we all?  I hope I’m not the only one…) so I was happy with the small portion size and lightness of the dish.  And the honeycomb on top was exactly the perfect touch to sweeten up the ricotta.

One thing I knew I wasn’t going to order was the roasted bone marrow.  Todd and his older brother Joel went out on a limb and they both tried it.

Both of them hated it.

Oh well, you live and learn.  Plus, Turtle was VERY happy to munch on their bones when we got home.

This post is getting a bit long so I’ll sign off for now.  Coming up tomorrow, a family barbecue and a new dessert called sour puss, yum.

Happy graduation, Scott!

Did you try any interesting foods this weekend?

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

goodbye cancun!

Where did this week go?  Well, I guess I know where it went.  We spent a lot of time reading and soaking up the rays.

We enjoyed some good food.

And some great desserts.

Does anyone know how to make mint mousse?  I need to learn, STAT.

We even made some animal friends.

Some real and some of the folded variety…

We also met some warriors.

One of them was especially fierce.

We had a few romantic dinners.  It’s our honeymoon after all.

As if that weren’t enough, I got a hole-in-one at mini golf!

But mostly we just spent time together, goofing around and having fun.

Enjoying being husband and wife.

Which made for a very happy week, indeed.

Goodbye, Cancun!  Thanks for a great honeymoon!