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!

DEL REAL RECIPE CHALLENGE

 

 

 

Hi everyone, I’m excited to let you know that I have entered the Del Real Foods Recipe Competition! I have entered two recipes into the competition:

 

and

I hope you could take a quick second to follow the link below to vote for either one of these recipes. The cool thing about it is, that they let you vote once per day! And to inspire you my friends to vote, if my recipe wins, I will randomly pick a group of up to 10 voters that I will cook the recipe for! So, please, share with all your friends through Facebook (use the hash tag #DRFRecipeChallenge), and vote as many times as you can! Any and ALL votes/help is sincerely appreciated!

Here is the link: http://www.delrealfoods.com/voting

Win A Pair Of Tickets To: BIG BITE BACON FEST

Big Bite Bacon Festival

EVENT WILL BE SATURDAY, AUG 1st; AND SUNDAY, AUG. 2nd. Photo courtesy of Big Bite Events.

I am happy to announce that I am partnering up with Big Bite Events this year to raffle away a pair of tickets (for one G.A. session on either day) to their 2nd Annual Big Bites Bacon Fest that will be held alongside the Queen Mary (includes free self-guided tour of the Queen Mary while at the festival). If you would like to purchase your own tickets, the prices range from $40-80 (a price well worth it, considering all the food that you will eat; beer is sold separately). The events which started last year as a one day event, has grown to become three massive 3-hr sessions over two days, which includes VIP entrances, and wristbands for beer tastings.

Some of the AMAZING restaurants/food trucks that will be there, include:

* Dia De Los Puercos

* Ragin Cajun Cafe

* Slater’s 50/50; and

* The Old World German Restaurant

 

Also, some of the breweries that will be on deck are:

* Lagunitas Breweing Co.

* Allagash Brewing Co.

* Angel City Brewery; and

* Bootleggers Brewery

 

SO . . . If you would like to win a PAIR of tickets for one session on either day, all you have to do is:

1) Like the Big Bite Event FB page

2) Like/follow The Chonchudo Files; and

3) Share this post on Facebook, tag 2 friends & commment with #BigBiteBaconFest, and #ChonchudoLove

GOOD LUCK!!!

*The contest will run from now until July 26th, the WINNER will be announced on July 27th!

#DelRealTaster

I’ve just received my samples from Del Real Foods (Mexican Cuisine) which include Tamales, Pupusas, Carnitas, and much more. While, I’m excited to be able to create recipes from these foods, I need your help: I need tasters. If you’d like to be a #DelRealTaster all you need to do is like The Chonchudo Files on Facebook and comment on this post with #delrealtaster. I will choose people by the end of the week.

Also, there’s the chance that these tasters will win a “Summer Party In A Box” from Del Real Foods featuring Carnitas, Tamales, and Pupusas, as well as a Del Real cooler bag and water bottle. Summer is not over yet, folks, with this box you can have a picnic.

So are you ready to be a #DelRealTaster?

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OC Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival

The time has come to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the OC Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival taking place Saturday, September 6th.

-1Named as “Orange County’s Best Beer Festival,” this year’s theme is “Dr. Strange Matter” bringing the spotlight onto 175  different craft brews from over 70 breweries including Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Maui Brewing Company, Bootlegger’s Brewery, and Stone Brewing Company. OC Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival will benefit Firefighters Relief fund dedicated to helping families of fallen firefighters, in fact, there will be off-duty firefighters helping out at the festival. Where there’s beer, there must also be food, right? Right. You’ll have the opportunity to indulge in the various cuisines presented by food vendors and gourmet trucks. There’s so much happening at this festival, you just have to be there. Check out www.ocbrewhaha.com or call 714.646.911 ext. 305 for more information.

THE RAYMOND

 You don’t really notice it from the outside as it’s surrounded by greenery, making it feel as if you’re on an endeavour to find an elusive object of mythological proportions. Hidden away from the city, it feels like a treasure, even though it is smack dab in the middle of it. When you first walk in, you’ll feel that you’ve found the entrance to The Secret Garden. Once you are inside, the place looks like a petite cottage style restaurant that apparently used to be a small hotel/ resort in its yesteryears. but once you check out the outdoor seating, you immediately notice it is larger and much livelier than once anticipated and yet still rocking some of its past with a wrought iron chandelier above the outdoor seating.  The indoor seating is more intimate, fit for a romantic date. The outside on the other hand, is definitely set for groups or those that love outdoor seating, because it feels as if you are eating in a luxurious tree house in the middle of the forest. The vibe outside has a spunk to it with great music ranging from the killers and Fabulosos Cadillacs, to beck, MIA, and DEADMAU5. Some of the tables even started dancing a few minutes before they finished their meals and parted ways.

 As for the staff? They were amazing, too. I know that in the past there were issues with the service and time management, but not anymore. The staff was completely knowledgeable of the entire menu. They were also very friendly, attentive, approachable, and even took time to converse with us for a little bit in between tables about food and life.

  • Artisanal Baguette- Freshly baked with a thick crust served with creamy, sultry cultured butter exquisitely made by the Vermont Creamery. One of the better butters (try saying THAT fast six times) I have tasted in a while from artisanal creameries.

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  • Salmon Creek Pork Belly Confit $14- Served with house made kimchi and grilled pears. Simply amazing. The pork is cooked for many hours in duck fat, giving a whole other layer of complexity and oh-so-good flavor to this mouth watering, pornographic display of visual temptation. Crispy on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside. Richness is cut through with the tangy, spiciness of the kimchi, and sweetness from the grilled pears.

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  • Hand Harvested Scallops- beautifully paired with guanciale, lollipop kale, muskmelon, bet gel and powder. Beautifully seared, sweet, buttery, and fork tender. Strong, potent flavor comes through from the melon that is delicately balanced with the earthiness from the beets, sweetness & bite from the Guanciale, and crispness from the kale.

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  • Small Farm Massachusetts Oysters $4ea- Served with Chef Tim’s hot sauce, made with Habanero, carrots and, well, a few extra ingredients that I cannot divulge. Remarkable… sweet and succulent with whispers of brininess fluctuating through with the only added flavors coming from the hot sauce.

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  • Spring Vegetable Risotto $14- Garnished with asparagus, peas, pea tendrils, and morel mushrooms. Ever since I tried a perfectly made risotto at an amazing Michelin rated restaurant in Hollywood, I fell in love with it. For this reason, The Raymond is now in my top 5 restaurants when it comes to risotto. The saltiness from the Parmigiano balanced with the creaminess of the Mascarpone is elevated with the “mountain notes” of the morels, and freshness from the pea tendrils, and asparagus.

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  • Octopus and Bone Marrow Bruschetta $16- Baby octopus tentacles and bone marrow served in a cast iron mini tray with thinly sliced radish, carrots, grape tomatoes, kalamata and Manzanilla olives, and capers. Tender octopus on toasted bread, with the acid of the tomatoes, and briny flavor of the olives cutting through the richness of the bone marrow. Now, not everyone will like bone marrow right away, but it’s worth giving it a try or two before you completely make up your mind on this delicacy…

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  • Roasted Duck $35- garnishes with pan roasted haricot vert, smoked cipollinis, hazelnuts, and what they call “flavors of the forest.” How can you go wrong with tender, juicy duck with crispy skin? The answer is never, as is the case here. Smooth creaminess coming through from the cipollini puree, and the delicate “flavors of the forest” that consist of hazelnut, rosemary, juniper berries, thyme, and raisin.

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  • Broken Arrow Venison $40- braised in butter, and seductively partnered with creamy mashed potatoes, maple turnips, American lardo (cured fat), and nasturtium. Unfortunately, we had to get it medium-well since the person I went with is used to eating everything as we affectionately call in the industry “burnt to a crisp”. Since she liked it medium well, hopefully in time I can get her to see the beauty in medium rare or rare. Even then, the meat was seared to an amazing level of sexiness and cooked to perfection. Has a slight smokiness and richness to the meat, with slight hints game. The whole meal itself tasted as if everything was just harvested from the forest and artistically orchestrated on my plate.

Overall, the food sent out by Chef Tim Guiltinan was simply mouth watering and worth every penny. This place is incredibly, one of the hidden jewels of Pasadena. Not too many people know about it, but once you discover it, it is sincerely worth trying out and enlightening others of the diamond you found hidden in the rough…

 

TACOS LOS GUICHOS

Los Guichos Pastor Slice 

Los Guichos Pastor Man

Out of all the different taco trucks and Mexican restaurants that I have been to, Los Guichos by far has some of the better tacos I have tried- specially their pastor tacos. It is located at a tire repair shop on Slauson between the 110frwy and Broadway, a block away from its competition, Tacos El Gavilan. One of the great things about this spot is that it is open late so you can stop by after hours when you leave the club looking for something to help soak up some of the libations you had while getting your boogie on with your lady or the drunk chick that was supposed to be the D.D. from her group of girl’s night out. This time that I came here, I decided to treat the family to a taco tasting platter, and not surprisingly enough, we came to the same conclusions…

Los Guichos Asada Burrito

  • Burrito de Asada- . I’ve had their burritos as well, which are a good handful that an average sized person can barely handle. Fully packed with flavorful beans, rice, salsa roja, and carne asada. Has a nice kick from the sauce, and tender meat with a nice sear that goes even better with the roasted jalapenos and a horchata or Mexican sodas that they have to choose from.
  • Taco Platter:

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-Asada- like I said before, tender n juicy with a good sear. Best topped with the salsa roja and habenero- if you can handle the heat. For the record, I put habanero on all my tacos, salsa roja only on the asada tacos, and spicy tomatillo on the rest of the tacos to cut through the richness on the different meats with a squeeze of lime.

-Buche- beef jowl, in English. Tender and slightly sweet, but not as meaty. Best with a little bit of cilantro, tomatillo/ salsa verde, and a squeeze of lime. Tastes better paired with a true Czech style pilsner.

-Cabeza- also known as beef cheeks. Very tender, filled with richness from the random cuts of fat strewn in between all the meat. Served best the same way as buche.

-Lengua- beef tongue. Tender, but not much flavor to it. Overall decent, with sliced radishes, cilantro, roasted jalapeno, and a squeeze of lime.

-Suadero- known as rose meat, which comes from the belly right against the ribs and slow cooked until tender then finished on the plancha (flat top). Had a nice crunch on the exterior, well seasoned, nothing spectacular.

-Pastor- spit roasted pork butt. By far, the BEST pastor tacos I’ve had anywhere in LA. You get more than you bargain for with this taco that costs less than $2 bucks, yet a handful of deliciousness packed inside two small tortillas. Crunchy on the outside, very tender on the inside. Immense flavor from the marinade with hints of guajillo, cumin, and pineapple coming through. I love this taco with tomatillo, cilantro, habanero, lime, with a great hefeweizen.

Definitely worth coming to try out!

 

TACO MESA

A friend brought me here to try what she called Mexican food that hasn’t been “white-washed”, since that’s all her husband can eat… lol. It’s a very casual atmosphere, with  printings of various newspaper articles written about Taco Mesa and what the owner is trying to accomplish- good reading while I was in the can.

We went in with her raving about the horchata and aguas frescas- although I gotta say that the horchata was ok, nothing spectacular there, but their sandia (watermelon) agua fresca was better than other places. Luckily, they sell beers, too.

My friend ordered the blackened chicken burrito, while I ordered myself a “taco platter”:

Blackened chicken burrito- was an impressive size considering what you pay for it, can easily compete against Chipotle, both in size and taste. She was only able to finish half, including the few bites I had to taste it. Well-seasoned chicken, and grilled, you can never go wrong. With the sweet, spicy, and smokiness emanating from the chipotle sauce that marries well into the rice and beans that were served on the side. With a house made guajillo sauce(which is another name for enchilada sauce) ladled across the top like a blanket for the cheese to melt onto it. In other words, it’s a fat man’s wet dream…

Taco Patter- consisted of three types of meat on regular sized yellow corn tortillas, which made them twice the size of regular street tacos.

*Asada- Was nothing spectacular, but tasted better once you add your preferred selection of salsas, and needed a tiny bit of salt since the meat was slightly on the bland side.

*Pastor- Better than the asada tacos, but so far ranks 3rd on my list for the best pastor I’ve tried. Perfectly seasoned, can taste a bit of the guajillo in the marinade. The one that surprised me that most places don’t do that is traditional, is serve it with caramelized pineapple- which they did. The pineapple gave it just enough acidity to cut through the richness/fattyness of the spit roasted pork, with a slight sweetness to balance the heat when you add their salsa caliente to them with a squeeze of lime.

Carnitas Pibil- by far, my favorite type of taco there. Slow roasted pork shoulder topped with achiote/ annato seed based pibil sauce (which in a way, they reinvented the traditional dish called cochinito pibil). The pork was fork tender, doused with the sweet and tangy sauce that cut through the richness since carnitas are cooked in their own fat, that brought an earthy flavor to the taco in whole. Even though I might have stopped eating since I was getting full at this point, it did not deter this chonchudo from feasting on that last taco like it was my last meal, lol.

Will be back sometime time to try out the shrimp, and calamari tacos. Def sound like a good time…

Originally posted: 5/6/2014