Bold Bite

Who doesn’t love a good hot dog? Especially when it’s dressed with fresh toppings & nestled in a warm bun. Luckily, Bold Bite opened several blocks from my apartment in Bethesda last year.

During our first trip there, my accomplice was tempted by the spicy chorizo show dog; a Mexican-style dog with guacamole, Monterrey jack cheese, pico de gallo and cilantro lime sauce. But she went with a “simpler” dog for her first experience; The Bold BLT with applegate all-natural beef frank, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, apple wood smoked bacon, house aioli on a buttered bun. We also ordered a medium fry with the cilantro lime sauce. Although the dog itself looked a little small, the overflowing toppings more than made up for it.

These were the kind of fries I wish every burger (and dog) food joint served. The perfect mix of crispy, salty and tender on the inside. And taking them over the edge, they’re served with one of the same sauces you can top your dog with. We chose cilantro lime, and it took everything she had not to lick the cup clean.

Spicy Chorizo Show Dog

On our second trip a couple of weeks ago, we went with the spicy chorizo show dog, described above, and the spicy chicken dog.

On the chorizo, the spiciness was subtle, which was great for me but maybe not for the spice lover. To be honest, I’m not even sure that my dog had any guacamole, but the other toppings provided plenty of flavor.

To my delight, the fries gave the same crispy crunch they did the first time around, proving that they were prepared the same way constantly.

The spicy chicken was a nice mix of a spiced mayo sauce on Asian style coleslaw, a toasted french baguette which nested the chicken sausage, and a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds. It was a lighter and spicy meal that satisfied without leaving me filling too full, a fine meal for anyone wanting to lay off red meat.

Check out Bold Bite’s website or Facebook page, or go straight to their menu. Interested? Then drop by for a bite at 4901 Fairmont Ave, Bethesda.


Caramelized Onion & Prosciutto Pizza

It looked so promising yet it was such a disappointment. You see, recently C’s roommate cooked up a delicious-looking and smelling pizza  she had found on the Pioneer Woman’s blog.  We decided to give it a shot due to its relative simplicity and appearance.

The recipe was very easy when we made a single alteration. Instead of making our own pizza dough, we followed C’s roommate’s lead and used Indian naan bread. Naan is available in many grocery stores. It’s soft and tasty, and was ideal for a “flash pizza” like this one. You see, we only needed to warm the pizza enough to melt and meld the toppings together since nothing needed to be cooked. So it actually saved a great deal of time and effort.

With the pizza dough handled, the only other challenge was cutting the red onion. The recipe calls for very thin slices that are long. Taking a knife, I cut the top and bottom parts off a red onion and then cut it into rings as thinly as possible. Once done, I ran the knife down the center of all the rings, splitting them into noodle-like strands. This took five minutes.

By using naan bread and this cutting technique, this meal was one of the fastest but fancier dinners we’ve ever made. The onions were caramelized within minutes while we sliced chunks of mozzarella and scattered them on the naan. And when the pizza was assembled and put into the oven, we set a timer for 8 minutes rather than 15.

The final product.

The results were gorgeous to look at. The cheese was perfectly mixed with the richly colored ingredients. It cooled enough to be eaten within a minute. I was really looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, the taste was a letdown. It’s strange and sad, but the two things that made this pizza so unique were, in fact, the two major downfalls.

The caramelized onions were simply too powerful and too sweet. They were all we could taste when we bit into it. And the prosciutto was weak. I thought for a while it was simply the brown sugar of the onions coating the prosciutto, but when I picked up an individual piece and bit down, I discovered it had lost a lot of flavor.

C and I spent some time analyzing what went wrong and figured that the writer must enjoy an incredible amount of sweetness. In the future, we will reduce the amount of brown sugar. And second, either I will find some substitute for the prosciutto or find a better brand. The prosciutto would have benefited from some added time in the oven to allow the slight crispiness Ree describes on her blog, but the naan would have burned if we added too much time.

Despite these setbacks, what emerged from the recipe was a good idea. While the prosciutto and caramelized onions were not to my liking, the use of the naan bread crust and torn mozzarella cheese are both a fantastic building block for a better pizza: Faster and better quality.

C and I will be talking about what kinds of toppings we could use in the future.  Arugula was suggested in the blog comments as a means to counteract the sweetness of the onions with bitterness. I made a mental note to add garlic to the pizza. For whatever reason, if you go to a Neapolitan pizza place, they charge an exorbitant amount of money just to add garlic to a pizza, when you add minced garlic at home for perhaps $.15.

Another joy of this pizza is that it would be an extremely ideal appetizer choice. It’s easy to make, reasonably priced and quick. To such an end, I will have to invest in a pizza cutter.

The Lime Truck Wins Season 2

What has six thumbs, four wheels and took home a hundred grand? These guuuuuuuuuys....

What has six thumbs, four wheels and took home a hundred grand? These guuuuuuuuuys....

The Lime Truck took home the bacon this season of The Great Food Truck Race. Or rather however much $100,000 of it could bring.

Miami welcomed both teams (or rather their food) with open arms and hungry mouths. Both teams had to earn $15,000 and then race to the beach where the prize awaited.

The first surprise that show host Tyler Florence struck the teams with was to send them off without an initial truck stop like they were used to. This threw the Lime Truck off as they had not done their homework on sales places or food vendors.

But that wasn’t all. Tyler had multiple wrenches to throw in this time. On the first day, Tyler hit the teams with their first speed bump: Being towed. The cost to get their truck back was $200, which could be earned by selling on the sidewalk. Chris of Hodge Podge jumped on the team’s Jetta and started selling and slinging sashimi at customers, while The Lime Truck tried to be tricky with $14 sales on how a few Californian chefs do mussels.

The Lime Truck’s lessons didn’t pay off as quickly as Hodge Podge sold food, and Chris and his crew had their truck back before you knew it, with Lime Truck not too far behind. Night was coming up, and I turned and asked a person who had spent considerable time in Miami how late the bars stayed open.

Apparently, some go as late as 6 am. I could only imagine how many customers both teams were forced to miss.

This meant that the trucks could have been selling food all through the night. Instead, rather than risk the contestants burning themselves out cooking through the night, Tyler called with the next truck stop. His orders? Get some sleep, be at the pier bright and early in the morning for a fishing trip. But before sending them off, Tyler alerted both teams that the difference in sales was $176. Thus far, it was a very close race.

Hodge Podge pulled themselves up a large Mackerel while the Lime Truck dragged three fish from the Atlantic. The cook-off resulted in two dishes, a lighter fare by the Lime Truck, and a Mackerel steak by Hodge Podge. But Chris’ meal was too heavy on ingredients, and the award went to Lime Truck: $1,500, a full 10% of what they needed.

Both teams pounded the streets and stuffed their cash boxes until, once again, Tyler hit them with a speed bump towards the night. Only this time, it was a two part handicap. The first part? Shut down for the night. The second? In the morning, they had to be a dessert truck for two hours.

Hodge Podge opened that morning near a factory full of hungry workers and sold a basic but wide fare of berries and chocolate pies for a whopping $35 a pop. The Lime Truck stuck to their style of breakfast food, and on that morning, both teams trickled past the $15,000 mark.

Good try guys. Hope to see you on the show again soon.

Good try guys. Hope to see you on the show again soon.

Rubber was burnt, both tires and sneakers, as the two teams rushed to the beach finish line where Tyler waited. By a difference of roughly five minutes (or so Jason Quinn guessed), The Lime Truck arrived out of breath and in luck, taking home the money and victory.

Congratulations are due to the Lime Truck for an astounding job and a respectable nod to Hodge Podge for holding on as hard as they did. If my calculations are correct based on the timing, Hodge Podge actually did better in sales by a thin margin given that the Lime Truck had a 10% advantage thanks to the cooking challenge. Which meant that if the Lime Truck had not won that truck stop, or if the amount was less or the event never occurred, Hodge Podge could have been the winner.

I have to feel a little frustrated that Tyler took control of the night away from the teams. Bars that go late night mean a steady stream of hungry customers, often times with eyes bigger than their stomach, and BAC larger than their sense of budget. I guess I could understand the concern Tyler might feel for what these teams would do to themselves if they were allowed to stay up too late, but perhaps he could have forced them to wait until night in one challenge?

Check out the entry on The Great Food Truck Race’s blog for more details and vote your feelings on the matter. Personally? Although I am disappointed my team didn’t win, the Lime Truck deserved victory. They cooked hard, sold hard and worked hard. I won’t deny that they’re arrogant, but they walked the walk as well as talked the talk.

And the results speak for themselves.

The Great Food Truck Race Penultimate Round

Sorry fellas. But if you're ever in our area, we'll drop by for a bite.

Sorry fellas. But if you're ever in our area, we'll drop by for a bite.

Are the Truck Stop challenges a kiss of death on this season of The Great Food Truck Race?

Last time, it was the Seabirds who won a challenge. They were given a guaranteed hot sales spot. The result? They were wiped out that round. This time, it was Roxy’s Grilled Cheese who won a challenge involving cooking a dish with both peanuts and peaches. They won the challenge and were given an automatic $1,000 in their cash box, a huge round making advantage. And yet, they lost.

The penultimate round pitted Hodge Podge, the Lime Truck and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese against one another in Atlanta, Georgia. With two days, the three teams rushed to make as many sales as they could before the Speed Bump struck them. For the first day, Hodge Podge scored an amazing location next to a mall outlet, which netted them crowds of people including none other than the mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed. Rules and regulations at the mall only permitted Hodge Podge to hold the spot for one day, while the Lime Truck snatch up the permission for the following day. Roxy’s hit a snag when they had a poor day of sales that only seemed to turn around at dinner time. The Lime Truck didn’t perform much better the first day.

On the second day, things turned around for everyone. The Lime Truck took their reservation at the mall, netting them better sales. Hodge Podge didn’t seem to lose much momentum, while Roxy’s Grilled Cheese began to gain some, letting them catch up. It was then that Tyler Florence hit the teams with what he thought would be a tough speed bump: Pulling the head chefs from each of the three trucks and sending them to the Museum of Art for several hours, and leaving the teams to cook for themselves.

Despite this set back, it was not that bad all around. The Lime Truck actually had two, not one, trained chefs and so weathered the challenge with little difficulty. Roxy’s food was not hard to prepare, so the remaining duo made considerable bank. But it was Hodge Podge’s Catie who absolutely rocked the show. Nervous to the point of paralysis, Chris led his sister around and showed her what to do to run the truck before leaving her. Despite feeling overwhelmed and anxious, the ladies at Hodge Podge not only managed to get their food lines in order, and put Hodge Podge at number one in sales by the round’s end. Nicely done, girls. Way to earn redemption after last week.

But in the end, Roxy’s finished short and was wiped. A disappointing day for fans of grilled cheese.

With Roxy’s out, that means that only the Lime Truck or Hodge Podge can win. It’s anyone’s guess how things will go in Miami. The Lime Truck has a skill advantage and maybe offering food more to Florida’s liking. But Hodge Podge has the girls, and Catie proved herself capable in the kitchen, giving the Podgers an advantage they never knew they possessed. We’ll found out next Sunday.

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & GritsShrimp and grits. A lot of people aren’t familiar with grits, and those that are may think of them only as a breakfast item to be eaten alongside their eggs. But grits have a savory aspect to them that works well when mixed with, rather than served beside, certain ingredients and flavors.

My first taste of shrimp and grits occurred at Againn, but being from the South, it was not Cass’ first sampling. However, Againn set an unfairly high standard for the dish. The dish was terrific and they were surely versed in how to prepare grits perfectly. Still, we decided to try our hand at preparing this dish as an entree after finding a recipe in Southern Living from Bill Smith, executive chef at Crook’s Corner, a Southern food restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC,  which was honored this year with a James Beard Foundation America’s Classics award.

One of the joys of this recipe was very little prep time. There are only green onions to chop, which aren’t as tear-inducing as their larger cousins. For the shrimp however, we chose to peel and de-vein fresh shrimp ourselves instead of going for the pricier pre-peeled shrimp.  You can learn how to do this by checking out this how-to video. While this process takes a little practice, it’s relatively easy. Although I do recommend care with a knife when cutting down the backside of the shrimp.

The final product was not entirely as we had hoped. Cass was a little off on the measurements for the grits since we were unexpectedly in a rush. I also wondered if the chicken broth really imparted a full flavor. Part of me daydreamed of experimenting with  gravy on the dish instead of the broth. Don’t discount the bacon bits sprinkled atop the grits. The bacon added a nice crunch to each bite. Cass pointed out that the dish may have been richer if we had used full fat milk and cheese. The other problem was my fault as I had overcooked the shrimp slightly, making it tough. But all in all, it was a fairly quick dish to prepare and surely one that could be perfected over time.