Taco Truck Throwdown 2.0

The Fresno Beehive is once again putting on the Taco Truck Throwdown at The Chuk. Last years event sold thousands of tacos and was the highest attended Thursday night game of the year. I remember waiting outside to buy a ticket thinking it was the busiest I had seen the stadium ever.

According to event organizers this years event will offer more trucks. That equals shorter lines and more options. Some people (weird people) may wonder why you would want to go to this event. I can give you three reasons:

  1. You don’t have to haul yourself to distant and sketchy parts of Fresno to eat some of the best tacos the valley has to offer, all the while having your wife complain about getting shot at. Oh is that just in my family?
  2. It’s Thirsty Thursday ($1 beverages for the responsible adults with designated drivers. Be safe kiddo’s.)
  3. Last but not least you’ll see me there working on my figure.

The event starts at 6:00pm on August 30th. If you buy a ticket to the game that gets you in to the event. Tacos are $2 bucks each.

 

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2012 TasteFresno Tri-Tip Throwdown

8/21/2012 Update- Looks like Fresno won’t get to try my nasty tri-tip this year. Taste Fresno announced the event has been canceled. Details here.

Original Post- So apparently James Collier of Taste Fresno is some kind of tri-tip expert. He posted a challenge on tastefresno.com to all Fresnans to compete in this years cook-off. We’ve known James as one of Fresno’s biggest foodies but have never seen him behind a grill, unless the words George Foreman were on it or he happened to be stealing some meat off of one. Kidding. Zing!

I don’t know about you but that’s enough to get my competitive juices flowing. I’m accepting the challenge and will be competing in the cook-off this year. If you spot me at the event (I’ll be the guy holding the trophy at the end), stop by and say hello. If you’re competing this year, which I encourage you to do, good luck. You’re going to need it!

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The Mike Oz Custom Taco

Who likes tacos? Raise your hand.

If your hand is in the air you can put it down now but you might want to listen up. It’s not everyday that you get to eat tacos created by the Fresno taco king himself, Mike Oz. Tonight I took advantage of a sneak preview (or two) of his super duper tacos, developed with the chef at Revolucion Tequila Bar & Cocina.

As you can see by the flier above, you have an opportunity to eat them yourself, with proceeds benefiting Children’s Hospital. More details here at the Beehive. I’m not at liberty to disclose all of the ingredients but just check out the picture below and you can probably guess what some of them are. The homemade tortillas are great and so was the rest of the taco.

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Good Times Cafe Clovis

Good Times Cafe (GTC) opened at Sierra Vista Mall this Friday. It took over the old Tacone location. I don’t expect anyone to remember Tacone because honestly it was pretty forgettable. So to help you out a bit, it’s located right next door to Maggie Moo’s. That’s the ice cream parlor that, oh wait, never mind. They’re closed too. Crap! Anyhow, when I heard they were opening I was pleasantly surprised. The dining scene in Clovis is especially dismal with the exception of a handful of restaurants.

GTC is run by a few restaurant veterans. The owners have a two locations already, Paso Robles and Visalia. The theme is based on the 1950’s drive-in era. If you want more details read the Bee’s article here.

The menu at GTC is pretty expansive but I knew exactly what I wanted. It was burger or bust. My reasoning on this, aside from always eating cheeseburgers, was that if they couldn’t cook a decent burger I really didn’t need to try anything else there.

Here’s the lowdown on the “Duke”: fresh beef patty shaped in-house (never from frozen beef per the owner), thick bacon with just enough salt, BBQ sauce, onion ring, double cheese (processed American but it’s a 50’s diner after all), all nestled nicely within a bun delivered from a bakery in San Luis Obispo. I don’t know what others expect from a diner burger but this was more than acceptable to me.

I didn’t care much for the fries but it’s really just a personal preference. Maybe if they had salted them immediately after frying they would swayed me. That was really my only gripe especially considering they just opened two days ago.

So unless something drastically changes between now and the next time I visit, I have no problems adding GTC to my burger rotation and neither should you.

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Cereal Trip

Over the weekend I was tweeted by a local company, Cereal Trip, who’s opening a cereal restaurant. Yeah that’s right I said cereal. Like the kind you pour for breakfast when you’ve barely wiped away the eye boogers. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for someone to relieve me of this culinary burden.

It kind of reminds me of this Brian Reagan bit (give him a few seconds to get rolling).

For all the details visit the Beehive. Mike wrote a good article on it. Currently the menu board only shows cold cereal but what would interest me is a fantastic bowl of hot oatmeal. Not the packet crap but some honest to goodness clean you out oatmeal. Make it a specialty and load it with goodies.

This new local place got me thinking if there were other cereal joints across the country. Turns out there are a few out there. Cereality has a couple of locations and even offers franchises. They are located within a hospital, airport, and a Cold Stone Creamery. That’s a lot of foot traffic. Another cereal place is The Cereal Bowl. They also offer franchises. It makes me wonder just how much cereal needs to be sold to survive. I wish them the best. Judging by the Twitter response today I’m sure there will be a few cereal diehards there on opening day.

 

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Cravings Wood Grilled Burgers N’ Dogs

Several months’ back my brother “Clovis Bites” clued me in on Cravings Wood Grilled Burgers and Dogs in Clovis. After eating there he couldn’t quite give it a thumbs up or down so I decided to give them a few weeks to work out the kinks and then pay them a visit. I should have given them a few months.

To sum up my experience in one word I would say: disastrous. Despite making their own patties and grilling burgers and dogs over almond wood (with gas assist), the service was horribly slow, the hot dog undercooked, the burger burnt to a crisp (the cook kept smashing on it with the spatula like a rookie), the bun flimsy and the heat-lamped fries weren’t great. Not only that, somehow they managed to serve two raw turkey burgers in a row to the lady next to us. Disastrous.

To add to the frustrations, the ordering process is confusing and awkward. Basically you walk up to the counter, place your order and then sit down. So far so good. Then when your burger is done they call you up to the sneeze window, ala Subway, so you can stare at the three separate menu boards loaded with toppings. I asked the owner what his inspiration was for the process and was told he borrowed ideas from different restaurants and merged them together. I could tell. Just let me pick my toppings in advance (that’s what the initial order is for right?) and bring me the burger when it’s done. Simple enough. They would do themselves and their customers a huge favor just by changing this one thing.

Fast-forward six months.

After several friends kept going back with positive reports (@chadlonetree and @6nak6) I finally caved and returned. I ordered the double bacon burger with pepper jack cheese. Aside from not changing the lame ordering process, Cravings should be commended for making some good adjustments.

Gone is the heat lamp they were using for the fries and rings. The fries were cooked nicely and served piping hot, along with the onion rings. The bun eventually succumbed to the thousand island and BBQ sauce but the quality was much improved. The bacon was crisp, cooked right over the almond wood fire. The biggest downside and perhaps most important though was the patty was tough. The beef had good flavor but I think the local meat market they selected to shape the patties is overworking them. At least they’re fresh.

While the ordering process hasn’t changed, they are going in the right direction and making adjustments. I noticed that they’ve also brought in local sausages from Fresno State. I didn’t eat one but it’s great that they’re supporting the community and buying local.

Cravings Wood Fire Grill on Urbanspoon

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Dizzy Pig Rub Review

When I first started barbecuing I would get all geeked up about experimenting with sauces and rubs. From time to time I still do some tinkering with rubs but as things get busier it’s nice to have an off-the-shelf product you can rely on that’s not full of MSG or high fructose corn syrup. Enter the The Dizzy Pig Rub Company.

Dizzy Pig has exploded on the BBQ scene recently and for good reason. Their products are fantastic. I personally know several people who use them, professionals and amateurs like me, and they all get great results. So when Dizzy Pig offered some free samples I was all over it.

For this cook I used two products: Dizzy Dust and Red Eye Express. Dizzy Dust is their all-around rub which fits very nicely with pork and the Red Eye is a coffee infused rub best suited for lamb and beef (it works for pork but is very bold). The Red Eye Express is on the left and Dizzy Dust on the right.

After the ribs soak in a brown sugar and salt bath they get rubbed down and go on the smoker.

The finished product. No sauce.

Blogger confession: I cooked them a little long but they were still juicy due to the brine solution.

Another blogger confession: The rub from Dizzy Pig packs a huge punch so you don’t need a lot. I over-seasoned my ribs but now you’ve learned from me and yours will be much better. Pro tip: For those locals wanting to buy it you can find it at HomeCrafters Spas and BBQ if you want to get cooking this weekend.

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