Celtic Cuisine Is Surging To The Forefront In Southern California

 

Everyone is familiar in one form or another with whiskeys, whether it be blended, single-malt, or single barrel. But how many of us have really been familiarized with the cuisine from the 8 Celtic nations? Those nations are Scotland, Ireland, Brittany France, Manx, Wales, Cornwall, Galacia & Asturies France. Even though they have a similar potato-based diets, each region has it’s own unique twist to their local cuisines. Thanks to Chef Eric McBride and many other Historical Chefs like him, there has been a rise in Scottish/Celtic food popularity with Americans in the past years. Not only is he helping bring back to light the traditional fare of the Great Clans, but he is pioneering a renaissance with the cuisine by modernizing ancestral roots-grounded recipes in his own unique interpretations. As it is unfortunate that there really are no Scottish restaurants to try in California, I hope the Chef McBride and the rest of the Chefs inspire an influx for communities to delve into the rich cultures of the Celtic 8.

For all those that get to attend this weekend, we will be lucky enough to sample Chef McBride’s (whom originally started his career off as a Historian and found his calling as a Celtic Chef) dishes at the 23rd Annual ScotsFestival which will also be showcasing the International Highland Games, all at The Queen Mary. And of course, yes, there WILL be a special area for adults to do whiskey and beer tastings. I, for one, will make sure to get there as early as possible to take in as much of the culture as I can. From the live bands/pipers, to the games throughout the day, to the various forms of haggis/neeps & tatties/and blood pudding.

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*Photo courtesy of The Queen Mary

The festival will run this weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 9am-6pm; with a special Robert Burns Supper on Saturday night that starts at 6:30pm. I hope to run into many of you there. And if I can find me a proper kilt, I shall be rocking it at the festival! Feel free to follow me as I eat and drink my way through the festival on Instagram and Twitter.

Pork: The New King Of Meats In LA?

DIA DE LOS PUERCOS

I recently had a chance to interview one of the famed returning Chefs from last year’s Big Bite Bacon Fest to get a little insight into his pork-centric realm that is Dia De Los Puercos food truck. Here is a portion of what we discussed…

Q: Since the majority of your inspiration came from your abuelita’s home cooking, what are 3
of your favorite dishes of hers that always bring you back to your childhood?

A: 99% of my inspiration is from my Gramma ‘B’, she is the reason I love to live in the
kitchen. So to narrow it down to 3 dishes is going to be tough! But I will do my best; the first
would be her Menudo, second is her carne en su jugo and last, but definitely not least, is her
mole tamales.
Q:  While you were at LCB, who were some of the Chef Instructors that inspired you and helped you hone your skills in the kitchen?

A: Although there were some interesting Chef personalities at LCB, There were two that
stood above the others. Chef Fred Jean Marie and Chef Farid Zadi, were the most influential
and motivating Chefs’ I have ever worked with to this day! I will forever be grateful for
sharing their passion for food with me.
Q: Which restaurants did you work at prior to opening up your truck?

A: I worked for quite a few restaurants, which is quite the norm for a line cook. One
restaurant that I gained the most from is ‘The Cellar’ in Fullerton, this is where I was able to
hone and broaden my classic French culinary techniques. I, also worked as Executive sous Chef
and Executive Chef for seven years with Hilton Hotels.
Q: Since bacon is the focus for the Big Bite Bacon Fest, what delicious recipe will you surprise everyone with at the event?

A: Dia De Los Puercos will be serving our Trademarked dessert, The ‘Hog Pocket’. I can describe it
for you, but it would just make you more anxious for the Bacon Fest.
Q: I have been a big fan/supporter of Dia De Los Puercos ever since I tried your Mochomos at the monthly Truck-It Fest, what made you decide on having those three types of pork dishes on the menu? (Well, four, if you include the vegetarian soy-rizo.)

A: We wanted to provide an experience for everyone who came out to try our food, and
what better way to do that then to make food that NO other truck does. But we will not stop
there; there are many other ideas in the works for our upcoming projects.

Q: I hear you will be doing a special event with Carnitas El Momo and Primera Taza, what type of dish collaboration will you be doing there?

A: Not to sound like a dick or anything, but your gonna have to wait for that one..
Q: Where do you see your biz going in the next 5 years? Do you see yourself making that jump to brick and mortar somewhere in LA?

A: Definitely! We want to expand DDLP to other Cities and eventually other States.
Q: Would love to do a friendly Del Real/non specific competition with you in the near future, would you be interested? We can set up a group of Bloggers/Writers/Chefs to judge the dishes… (I think it would be a cool idea to do friendly underground competitions with Chefs in random restaurant locations…)

A: I’m always down for a friendly match! We can do Pop up ‘Cuchillo Battles’!

From what I gathered, I wish I would’ve had the opportunity to have met Chef Rick’s grandmother to see the inspiration comes from, and maybe try a dish, or two of hers which sound amazing- especially the mole tamales. Also, I don’t know about you, but Can’t wait to see what other events/dishes El Chefe and DDLP comes out with in the near future. If many of you haven’t noticed, not only bacon, but pork itself is becoming one of the main proteins being sold in restaurants and food trucks alike. From pulled pork sandwiches to carnitas, to EVERYTHING bacon. For me, the favorite style to have pork in is Al Pastor. Tender, slowly roasted spicy pork on a spit with a pineapple on the top to shower the ‘trompo’ with sweet/tangy juices to add another depth of flavor to beautifully charred chunks of meat- which surprisingly enough, has it’s origins coming from Middle Eastern immigrants moving to Mexico. Make sure to keep an eye (and an ear) open for when we start doing the Kitchen Battles throughout LA!

Photo by: Big Bite Events

Photo by: Big Bite Events

The Big Bite Bacon Fest will be returning to the Queen Mary this weekend, Sat and Sun (Aug 1-2) for three 3-hr sessions (4 hrs with VIP entrance) of pork-gasmic tastings to satisfy your heart’s desire. I will be there from 11a-3p doing my thing, hope to see many of you there!