Oyster ice cream: A surprising scoop of American food history

“People actually ate this...It was once a big deal in Read more

Chocolate, ice cream and N.C. root beer!

In my favorite round, Battle Uncle Scott's Root Beer, Merrell, who runs the tapas restaurant and "cocktaileria" Circa 81 restaurant in Morehead City, prepared one heck of a riff on a Black Cow, that famous chocolate, ice cream and Read more

Cooking lessons learned at 2014 Fire on the Dock

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Southern Collards should be the new kale

Will collards be the new kale, darling of diners seeking farm-to-table fare? If the 2014 Fire on the Dock chef competition is any indication, maybe. Read more

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barbecue

Food truck news: rally, new wheels and a restaurant!

TruckARooEventLogoAnother food truck rally is rolling into downtown Wilmington. Meantime, chef Keith Rhodes of well-known Catch restaurant is working on another food truck, and yummy Mex food truck La Bella Airosa is so successful it’s adding a restaurant to its food truck business!

Five food trucks are scheduled to compete in the third Truck-A-Roo, an event that lets diners vote for their favorite food truck.

Truck-A-Roo organizer Pipeline Event Management of Wilmington announced the latest date, scheduled 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 2, 2013, at 101 N. Front St. in downtown Wilmington.

As with the previous two Truck-A-Roo rallies, the first in November 2012 and the second in June 2013, diners purchase a “sample ticket,” which costs $12 in advance or $15 at the gate. Ticket holders may try fare at each truck and then vote for their favorite taste.

The public needn’t purchase a ticket to attend Truck-A-Roo. Admission to the event, which includes beer sales and live bands, is free. Attendees who do not have tickets may purchase food from each truck.

Flaming Amy's Sacred Burrito Bus owner Jay Muxworthy taking first prize at the first Truck-a-Roo.

Flaming Amy’s Sacred Burrito Bus owner Jay Muxworthy taking first prize at the first Truck-a-Roo.

Participating trucks are Catch The Food Truck, The Patty Wagon burgers, Truck-a-Roo champ Flaming Amy’s Sacred Burrito Bus, Tacos El Nene and multi-award-winning Poor Piggy’s BBQ.

Look for a new food truck on the horizon!

Catch owner/chef Keith Rhodes is promising “hot chicken” and “sexy wings” on his approaching Wing Star food truck. The bright orange truck’s slogan is “Party Like a Wing Star!” Rhodes reported that he is still upfitting the truck, which he said is “coming together.” He has not announced a debut date.

Some restaurants have jumped on the food truck trend for catering. P.T.’s Olde Fashioned Grille is among them. The local burger chain’s truck is “used exclusively for parties, corporate events, private events, and lunch at the office. This food trailer is fully functional to cook our famous burgers, chicken sandwiches and fries on site!” according to the P.T.’s website.

Other trucks have inspired new restaurants. Recently, the owners of two trucks named La Bella Airosa purchased the 3500 N. Kerr Ave. building that once housed Pearl’s Seafood and Catering.

With around 7,000 square feet, the brick-and-mortar restaurant is large enough for 150 people, said Erik Romero, who operates the La Bella Airosa trucks with his parents and two brothers.The restaurant, of the same name as the trucks, will allow the family to expand the menu and offer more of La Bella Airosa’s current menu favorites such as tamales, which are served on Friday. Get there early, as service starts at 11 a.m. and the tamales are usually gone by 2 p.m., Romero said.

Chef Keith Rhodes is getting his Wing Star wheels rolling (Photo by Wing Star).

Chef Keith Rhodes is getting his Wing Star wheels rolling (Photo by Wing Star).

“Our speciaty is making everything from scratch: handmade tortillas, sauces homemade, everything pretty much fresh,” Romero said.

The mobile units will continue to operate when La Bella Airosa the restaurant opens in a few months, perhaps before the year’s end, Romero said.

One La Bella Airosa truck serves lunch and dinner in a parking lot on north Market Street, between Lullwater Drive and New Bern Street. The truck stays there late into the night on weekends.

The other truck parks near Wilco Hess and Intrepid Hardward on U.S. 117, near the N.C. 210 intersection at Rocky Point., Romero said.

The Romeros hail from the town of Pachuca, in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo. The windy town’s nickname is La Bella Airosa, or The Windy Beauty, Romero said.

Posted on by lizbiro in barbecue, Chefs, Downtown, downtown Wilmington, Food trucks, Midtown Wilmington, Uptown Wilmington Leave a comment

Delish garden party for a good cause

Chefs from Catch restaurant, La Gemma bakery and The Seasoned Gourmet unite this eveningt, June 27, for a wine-and-dine fundraiser to benefit a garden serving people with special needs.

The five-course event named Grapes & Grub features casual fare prepared by Catch chef/owner Keith Rhodes aboard the restaurant’s food truck.

Pastry chef Roberta Campani will supply desserts from her La Gemma bakery in Wilmington.

A different “affordable” wine enhances each course, according to information from The Seasoned Gourmet, a Lumina Commons specialty foods market organizing Grapes & Grub to aid The Ability Garden at New Hanover County Arboretum.

Here’s the menu:

First Course: Compressed watermelon with basil paired with Sequin Sparkling Pinot Grigio 2011, California

Second Course: Shrimp gazpacho paired with Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc 2011, California

Third Course: Spicy pork salad paired with Laurent Miquel Pere et Fils Rosè 2012, Languedoc, France

Fourth Course: Smoked beef tenderloin with blue cheese vinaigrette paired with Shooting Star Pinot Noir 2010, Lake County, California

Fifth Course: Chocolate mimosa cakes with raspberries paired with Shooting Star ‘Black Bubbles’ Syrah N/V, Lake County, CA

The $50-per-person dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and ends around sunset at New Hanover County Arboretum, 6206 Oleander Drive. Guests should bring lawn chairs.

B & B, a duet offspring of the local band ‘shine, performs at the event.

Purchase tickets online, at the arboretum or at The Seasoned Gourmet, 1930 Eastwood Road.

Founded in 1999 by Friends of the Arboretum, the nonprofit Ability Garden provides professionally directed, nature-based activities to individuals of all ages facing various challenges and diagnoses. Organizers say that participants experience increased self-confidence and self-esteem, learn horticultural skills and take pride in volunteering in a community garden.

Posted on by lizbiro in dinner specials, Food festivals, Food trucks, Local food, Restaurants, Uptown Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach Leave a comment

Pork tacos on wheels! Mex food trucks you may not know

The best thing on Mexican restaurant menus? Tacos carnitas.

What’s better? Tacos carnitas on the fly.

Carnitas is pork ham or butt that is first fried and then braised or slow-roasted, making the meat fall-apart tender but with caramelized edges, a fiesta of flavor and texture. Tucked inside a homemade tortilla and garnished with cilantro, onion and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, carnitas make pork lovers moan.

My favorite place for tacos carnitas is Las Fincas in Swansboro, N.C. The tacos there are obese with pork. Recently, I found two taco trucks in Wilmington that satisfy my carnitas cravings when I’m on the go.

Carnitas under cheese on a sope from La Bella Airosa food truck. The taco contains carne asada.

Carnitas under cheese on a sope from La Bella Airosa food truck. The taco contains carne asada.

I learned about these trucks from Wilmington chefs, my most trusted sources for great places to eat.

Catch chef/owner Keith Rhodes is a fan of Tacos El Nene. The truck offers beef, chicken and roasted pork fillings in its flavorful tacos. Look for the truck at Dollar General, 6789 Market St. The carnitas I sampled were rich and sported plenty of crisp, brown edges.

The Patty Wagon burger food truck owner James Smith and Manna line cook Paula Pacini told me about Taqueria La Bella Airosa. The truck specializes in tacos, tortas, sopes and quesadillas. The carnitas are moist and tender, hardly salted, allowing the pork flavor to shine and counter the fiery salsa verde served alongside La Bella Airosa items. I had my carnitas on a sope, a thick but soft, light cornmeal cake.

Find Taqueria La Bella Airosa for lunch and dinner in a parking lot on north Market Street, between Lullwater Drive and New Bern Street. The truck stays there late into the night on weekends.

Posted on by lizbiro in Food trucks, Uncategorized Leave a comment

A new Wilmington food truck

Some Wilmington food truck operators, including a new set of wheels hitting the road in March, have united to create a commissary from which they may all work.

Blount’s Street Bistro, which rolls out international street food in March, joins Poor Piggy’s BBQ, Chicken, Ribs and The Patty Wagon burger truck at the former Dinner A-Go-Go meal preparation store, 5424 Oleander Dr., Suite 1, said Blount’s Street partner Paul Kern.

The commissary idea began with Poor Piggy’s owner Ed Coulbourn, who pursued the Dinner A-Go-Go location for the group kitchen, Kern said. Dinner A-Go-Go operated briefly in the early 2000s. At the time, such shops where home cooks could prep meals with which to fill their refrigerators popped up all over the country. Read more…

Posted on by lizbiro in barbecue, Food trucks Leave a comment

Vote for your favorite food truck

Get a look at Flaming Amy’s new food truck this weekend when Wilmington food trucks compete in downtown’s first TRUCK-a-ROO 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at Riverfront Park.

Flaming Amy’s Sacred Burrito Bus will serve its full menu including burritos, a fried tofu burrito and Jamaican jerk chicken or tofu chimichangas with pineapple jalapeno salsa, Flaming Amy’s owner Jay Muxworthy reported.

Also participating are Poor Piggy’s barbecue truck, The Patty Wagon burger truck, Catch restaurant’s food truck and  The Cheesy Banker.

Diners may purchase $10 ballot cards to sample fare from each truck and then vote for their favorite. The truck earning the most votes will be named best in show.

Admission to TRUCK-a-ROO is free, and guests may purchase from participating trucks’ full menus.

Posted on by lizbiro in downtown Wilmington, Food festivals, Food trucks Leave a comment

Catch food truck adds more than a menu

Thai Spicy Pork Salad at Catch.

Chef Keith Rhodes’s first truck, an extension of Catch, 6623 Market St., was scheduled to hit pavement July 7 at the Ocean City Beach Jazz Festival at North Topsail Beach’s Ocean City Beach Community Center. Expect easy Catch menu items and Latin leanings: fish tacos, Rhodes’ well-known North Carolina sweet potato salad, ceviche, fresh calamari tostadas.

About a month later, look for the Phun Seafood Bar truck featuring the Asian street food stylings served at Rhodes’ 215 Princess St. eatery.

Rhodes has yet one more food truck in the works, but he’s not ready to reveal details.

Rhodes’ celebrity – he’s been a James Beard Award nominee and a Bravo TV “Top Chef” contender – helps assure his trucks’ profitability, but his entry into the market is also likely to boost the area’s food truck industry.

Read more in the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in Downtown, downtown Wilmington, Food trucks, New restaurants, Restaurants, Uptown Wilmington Leave a comment