Farley Elliott is Taking it to the Streets in his DELICIOUS New Book

I am all about things that make you go “mmmmm”, and Farley Elliott’s debut book, “Los Angeles Street Food”, definitely falls in that category. Farley, a Senior Editor for Eater LA, does his city more than justice with mouth-watering descriptions of LA’s top food trucks, carts, stands, festivals and more, complete with photos that can only be described as food porn.

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Farley travelled far and wide for his soon to be go to guide, and I was lucky enough to catch up with him to talk about his book, the LA food scene, and of course tacos. You can check out our convo below.

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With all the great restaurants out there, what about street food gets you so excited?

It’s the innovation, the regional specificity. When you’re opening up big restaurants with big-name chefs, you sort have to take a maximalist approach — appeal to lots of people, and charge accordingly. With low overhead operations like carts and trucks, you can really focus on the one thing, or the two things, that you want to do, and do them with amazing accuracy. You can learn about the world through LA street food, because every place you visit is allowed to have its own footprint leading back to wherever it originated.

So many people come up with great ideas, but never follow through. What motivated you to actually make this book happen?

Well, for one, I always feel like I have something to say. That’s just part of being a writer. So there’s that idea — I get to say what I want, and you pick up the book and listen. That’s pretty great! I also wanted to write the book because, no matter how successful anyone is, we always try to find benchmarks to define ourselves. Having a book was a benchmark for me — a big one — and being able to see it on the shelf of my local bookstore was something that was important to me. Not wanting to fail yourself is a big motivator.

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You travelled to the far reaches of LA to hit up some of the vendors in your book. What was the craziest thing that happened on the road?

I did have a knife pulled on me once, but that was from a drunk guy and could have happened anywhere, at any time. It just happened to be in front of a taco truck. The idea of an unsafe taco stand or Taiwanese meat skewer truck has largely become a vicious rumor. Honestly, these are hardworking families trying to make a great product to feed their own neighborhoods; rotten food or outbursts of violence would be bad for business.

The photos in your book and on your drool-worthy instagram account are always amazing. Any tips or rules of thumb for taking awesome food photos?

Lighting is key. You can make bad food look good with the right light, but you will never be able to make amazing food look even remotely interesting in the dark.

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While delicious, the tacos, meat, pastries, etc. featured in the book might not be the most healthy. What street food would you recommend for someone trying to watch what they eat?

Well, there IS the idea of moderation in all things. But you’re right — it’s not the healthiest way to eat, especially if you spend most of your time in front of a computer screen. But there are fruit carts, juice vendors, trucks that serve goat birria with a hearty “bone broth” side of consommé. And yes, there are many, many vegetarian taco options, from huitlacoche (a funky sort of corn option) to stewed huazontle, which is a hearty green native to Mexico.

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If money and LA traffic weren’t an issue, what is your dream street food meal?

I’d start with elote from the Lincoln Heights corn man. It’s this amazingly simple corn on the cob that’s grilled, swiped with mayo and butter and dashed with salt and spices. From there, a round robin of tacos: one short rib from Kogi BBQ, one carne asada from the Tire Shop Taqueria, one al pastor from Tacos Tamix, and one carnitas from Tacos Los Guichos. Then the main: a torta cubana from Super Tortas D.F. in South LA. If there were any room left, I’d take some champurrado as a sweet finisher.

Oh, and an al pastor quesadilla from El Chato — as a late night snack, just in case.

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If you were to open up a food truck, what would it be?

I’d be no good at opening a truck. The margins are too thin, the days too long, and I’d blow up at a customer within the first few hours, probably. But in my best moments, I could see being a sort of short order breakfast cook within the food truck realm. Simple egg and sausage sandwiches, easy breakfast burritos, some high-quality drip coffee. There is something undeniably satisfying about feeding a crowd…

“Los Angeles Street food: A History from Tamaleros to Taco Trucks”, is available here, and be sure to follow Farley on Twitter and Instagram.

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A Chat with Katie Quinn AKA The Food World’s Next Star

You’ve seen epicurean extraordinaire Katie Quinn on Today Show, The Meredith Vieria Show, covering Sundance, and more, and now is your chance to get to know this amazing lady a little better.

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I met Katie way back when in the NBC Page Program, and she’s gone on to strut her stuff as a seriously inspiring self-starter, covering all things food. Her passion for the food world and drool-worthy YouTube Channel had me all kinds of curious, so I caught up with Katie to pick her brain about cooking, traveling the world, and how she made the brave decision to take her career into her own hands. Bon Appetit!

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After working for larger companies like the Today Show, Serious Eats, and NowThis News, how did you make the brave decision to go into business for yourself?

It was, indeed, a tough decision. A saying I kept in mind throughout the whole process was “Leap, and the net will appear.” I’ve found it to be outstandingly true. Here’s what happened for me: I was offered a staff position at a big network and going through the whole interview process, I completely intended on accepting the offer. Once the offer was made, though, I had a crisis: I did not have that feeling of excitement that you should really have when diving into a new position. I immediately knew why: I had to give myself a chance to make it on my own, for my own brand. It was a hard decision to make, but as soon as I made it, I knew it was the right thing. My heart was smiling. And it was time to hustle to make it work.

For many people, self-employment equals Netflix and sleeping in, but you post videos on your YouTube page twice a week, in addition to a ton of other amazing content. How do you stay on track, and what is your day to day workflow?

This question makes me laugh. For anyone who knows me personally, they know that I’m entirely too Type A for the pitfalls of self-employment to be much of an issue. Even in college, I was bordering on being the stereotypical obnoxious achiever. I think it’s probably just a personality thing. I’m a morning person, so I usually wake up with the sun. I do set a schedule for my days, which helps me organize the different projects I have and allows me keep my YouTube videos a priority–even though they are not the most profitable part of my work.

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Where does your love of food come from? What are some of the specific meals or dishes that inspired you to work with it full time?

I love this question! My love of food is inspired by the incredible variety of dishes that exists all around the world and the fascinating characters who make them. When I worked backstage at the TODAY show, I would get as excited about Thomas Keller coming on the show as other people would get about Kim Kardashian being a guest. Every morning, I hung around the TODAY kitchen set and would interview as many chefs as I could. Their stories and their passion is what wrapped me into the food world. So my love of food is less focused on a specific dish, but rather embellished by a good story, or an interesting person behind the dish.

I can’t help but notice the global feel of your recipes, which are no doubt a result of all your travels. What are some of the places you’ve traveled, and which ones have inspired your cooking the most?

Yes! Travel is SO inspiring, for so many reasons, but especially when it comes to food. Peru and China have had the greatest impact on the way I look at spices, at which parts of the animal can be eating, and at the eating ritual.

A lot of people reading are city dwellers, who maybe don’t have the time or resources to make extravagant meals. What are some staples you recommend keeping on hand to avoid a steady diet of Seamless and Chinese Food?

Lentil soup or a stew where you can just use up the variety of things in your fridge. Pasta tossed with sautéed veggies (whatever kind of veggies you like or have on hand). You can swap out the pasta for rice, quinoa, or any other grain. Put a fried egg on top–and you’re golden.

PHOTO CREDIT: Robert Caplin

In this video, you call YouTube your “metaphorical table” to gather and talk about food. If you could sit down at a real life table with three people from the food world, who would they be?

Holy moly, I love this question. I’ve never considered it before. Off the top of my head I’m going to say: Ina Garten, David Chang, Anthony Bourdain.

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2 Jews, An Italian, and A Food Festival

As a New Yorker, I spend a lot of time celebrating other people’s cultures through the city’s vibrant restaurant scene, but Sunday was all about the traditional foods of my fellow chosen ones. Thanks to The Workmen’s Circle “Taste of Jewish Culture” event, I ate  latkes, pickles, corn beef, falafel, chopped liver, and most importantly, the three B’s: Babka, Borscht, and Brisket. And I was lucky enough to be joined by my good friends Pamela and Michael.

Walking through the various stands brought back so many memories… Helping my grandma make rugelach when I was too little to reach the counter, Shabbat dinner centered around my mom’s secret brisket recipe (Heinz Ketchup and Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix), and the annual Hanukkah party I threw at my old apartment in Harlem. I am so proud of my heritage, and without getting too political, now feels like an important time to honor it. It was also nice to share this experience with Michael, who was eating some of these foods for the first time, and creating new memories of his own.

Big thanks go out to all the musicians, volunteers, and chefs who made this amazing event possible. My restaurant to do list just got a whole lot longer. Below are some snapshots from the festival, and links to my favorite vendors.

*Breads Bakery – 18 E. 16th Street

*Mile End – 53 Bond Street / 97A Hoyt Street (Brooklyn)

*Shelsky’s – 141 Court Street (Brooklyn)

*Peck’s Homemade – 455A Myrtle Ave (Brooklyn)

*Kossar’s Bialys – 367 Grand Street

*The Pickle Guys – 49 Essex Street

Meet Me In…

Vacation #2 of the summer found me in Montauk, surrounded by amazing beaches, super fresh seafood, and the constant temptation to quote  “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Here’s the low down on where to stay and what to eat in Montauk, along with some snapshots from my trip.

LODGING: Windward Shores

EATS: Goldberg’s Bagel, Lunch aka The Lobster Roll, Clam Bar, Surfside Inn, Gosman’s, John’s Drive-In

WARDROBE: All bathing suits, all the time… Except for lobster bibs with maxi dresses at dinner

Friday Inspiration from a “Plus Size Princess”

In this amazing essay from CeCe Olisa, the Plus Size Princess perfectly sums up the experience of having a little extra junk in your trunk, by eloquently stating what typically goes unsaid. People have implicit judgments when they see an overweight person, and it was wonderful to see them put in such frank, accessible terms by someone who has been through it. This paragraph especially stood out:

“Big girls know that we’re big, and most of us are working on our health. I started the#PSPfit online fitness community because big girls DO work out and eat healthy. If being skinny is in the future for any of us fatties, it wont happen overnight (heck, I’ve lost 55 pounds and I’m still fat). But, in the meantime, as WE figure out what’s best for OUR bodies, I think we should be allowed to have a nice day. We should be allowed to love our bodies as they are, as we work towards being our best selves. We should be allowed to smile, laugh, dance, go on dates, and break free from the body-policing many of us have been dealing with since childhood. “

Click for Cece’s full essay at Refinery29.

Team Brooklyn takes Cape Cod

Every year my college friends and I spend July 4th weekend celebrating Kristina’s birthday at her house in Cape Cod. We always hit up the beach, the seafood shop, and the local “Packie”, which is New England-speak for the liquor store, and Kristina’s parents are the best, most perfect hosts. This annual trek up north has seen us go from single to engaged to married to expecting, from playing Beer Pong and Kings all night to watching Wes Anderson movies, from loading up on Miller Light to making ginger-grapefruit cocktails with Bulleit Bourbon, and from a group of friends to straight up family. The memories from these weekends are priceless, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Here are some snapshots from Team Brooklyn’s 2014 trip to The Cape. Happy birthday, Xstina!

Guac Club

I don’t want to brag, but I belong to one of the most exclusive clubs in New York City. A club that celebrates one of the greatest inventions of all time… Guac.

Guac club meets at no particular time for no particular reason, and in the past we’ve gone on the Nachos NY Guac Crawl, attended the 2013 Guactacular at The Bell House, caused a scene at Salsa y Salsa in Chelsea (which you can read about here), and recently had our fourth gathering at Horchata in the West Village.

Guac Club

Horchata is relatively new, inhabiting the old BLT Burger space, and with cocktails like the “Drunk In Love” and Hibiscus Margaritas, Abby, Andy, and I couldn’t wait to check it out. Sadly Dan was busy being a crazy awesome comedian, so he’ll just have to live vicariously through this post.

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The first rule of guac club is to not to talk about how much you ate at guac club, but I’m gonna do it anyway. We of course started with the classic guac, although Horchata’s menu offers FOUR different kinds. One even uses apples and tomatillos. And for you meat eaters, the queso and house made chorizo option sounds like it’d be worth a shot… or a gallon.

The guac was super fresh, and therefore super good. And lemme tell ya about dem chips! By the taste of it, not five minutes earlier, someone had cut up fresh tortillas and dropped them in the fryer. Nothing from a bag here! I love Tostitos Hint of Lime as much as the next smart human, but there’s something about food made from scratch that always tastes better.

We went our own ways for the entrees. Abby and Andy stuck with tacos, which looked so so good, and I went with the avocado toast, which I feel like is the dish of the moment. I expected something a little more simple, however Horchata’s combo of radishes, cotija, and chipotle honey was interesting to say the least. Smoky, sweet, and salty, it made for some good eye candy to start, and totally delivered.

As a result of Horchata’s badass playlist, Guac club of course ended with some impromptu karaoke. Remember the 1997 hit “Love You Down” by INOJ? Turns out we still know every word. My sincerest apologies to our fellow diners, but my sincerest props to the staff at Horchata. They gave us a fun evening full of good food AND good music, sealing the deal that Guac Club will definitely meet there again.

*Points if you spotted Lil Jon in that video!

Summer Lovin’

Hey there, fellow conquerors! Here are some things that will surely spice up your summer. They’re already doing a number on mine.

TO EAT:

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BLACKSEED BAGELS

170 ELIZABETH STREET

TO DRINK:

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DEL’S SHANDY / ALLAGASH GINGER

GET THE SHANDY AT PROFESSOR THOM’S AND THE GINGER AT HARLEM PUBLIC

TO READ:

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LUCKY PEACH MAGAZINE

TO SEE:

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“CHEF” THE FILM

TO WATCH:

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“SILICON VALLEY” ON HBO

TO WEAR:

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DRESS AVAILABLE AT ANN TAYLOR LOFT

TO LISTEN:

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THE BLACK KEYS “TURN BLUE” / YOUNG THE GIANT “MIND OVER MATTER”

Where to go for Carbs and Cheese in NYC

Aside from this random heatwave, it’s been the most rainy and gray summer ever. Therefore, a little carb and cheese action is in order. Here are my go to spots in NYC for the day-brightening diet downfalls.

Beechers – 900 Broadway bt 19th & 20th

Seattle is home to many of my favorite things– The EMP Museum, Nirvana, Starbucks, my parents. Therefore,  I’m partial to anything that comes from our northwest neighbors. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is high on that list. The original Beecher’s is nestled inside the famous Pike Place Market, and it’s New York location might lack that impressive address, but it makes up for it in scenery and quality grub. You can buy various gourmet items in the front of the store, watch the cheese being made while you eat off their super affordable a la carte menu in the back, and have a classic sit down experience downstairs. I usually choose to sit by the cheese making situation to enjoy what is probably the best grilled cheese I’ve ever eaten. Thick bread, super melty homemade cheese, at the bargain rate of $7. If you’re feeling rich, go for adding the tomato soup, which will only cost you $5 more. They also have fancy grilled cheese situations with things like figs, veggies, and meat, that are also delicious, and a killer mac and cheese offering,  but it’s my recommendation to stick with the classics. You won’t be sorry.

 

Professor Thom’s – 219 2nd Ave bt 13th & 14th

You wouldn’t expect an Irish pub-style bar to have the best nachos in NYC, but for me, Professor Thom’s holds that title. Said nachos are delivered on a silver platter the size of a large pizza, and are the perfect accompaniment to Thom’s impressive beer and whiskey selection. It’s possible one could polish off the crazy-generous portion of fresh cheese, vegetables, guac, and chips all by themselves, but I’ve seen groups of ten manly men bested by the challenge. Aside from the nachos, Thom’s is a rock solid bar all around that you should also be going to anyway. Good service, great playlist, private party space, Girls/Mad Men/Lost viewing parties, and reasonable prices are just a few reasons why it’s one of my go to spots. The nachos will draw you in, but everything else about Professor Thom’s will keep you there.

Melt Shop – 55 W 26th St at 6th Ave

Outdoor seating… Perfect Location… Tater tots. SEE HERE

 

Earls Beer and Cheese – 1259 Park Ave at 97th

It’s all in the name… beer and cheese… also beer cheese… but we’ll get to that later. In a relatively tucked away shop on the Upper East Side, lies a menu that spans the globe with cheese as its common denominator. Tacos made of scallion pancakes, brie and blackberry grilled cheese, ginger and sriracha laced tomato soup, and the finest beer cheese outside of the midwest, are just a few of the things you can expect to find at Earl’s. As far as carbs go, they have a rotating beer menu and all the sandwiches and food come with crazy good bread. Some would consider Earl’s limited space a downside, but I feel like it provides the opportunity to get to know the other people there, perhaps by talking about the food, or the wallpaper that looks like a forest. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.

 

Jacob’s Pickles – 509 Amsterdam bt 84th and 85th

While all the chumps out there head to S’mac to fulfill their mac and cheese needs, I like to make my way to Jacob’s Pickles on the upper west side for their $9 version of the American classic. It’s far better than any other mac and cheese in the city, and you can enjoy it while talking to one of the plaid wearing, bearded bartenders about hot sauce and indie rock music.  They have sparkling rose on tap, every random whiskey you’ve ever wanted, and a whole display case for their pickled items… And this exists above 72nd street! In addition to the mac and cheese, their fried pickles are the bomb, I’ve been told their fried chicken is some of the best ever, and their french fries come in an obscenely large sized bowl with little squeeze bottles of ketchup, hot sauce, and honey. They also seem to hit the Black Keys and Jack White Pandora pretty hard, which is obvi a plus.

Birthday Instas

“Another Year, Another Freaking Incredible Birthday” is something I’m lucky enough to be able to say. Thanks to everyone who got the last year of my twenties off to a good start. Here are some highlights… Insta-style!

Yogurtland Party courtesy of my Fuse Family! Pic stitch courtesy of the great Mary Chaplin!

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Two of my Favorite Ladies at my Favorite Bar

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Friends, Presents, and a Flammable Birthday Card

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Not Birthday Dinner at Jacob’s Pickles

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It’s not a selfie if Hodapp takes it…

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