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FOODfare: A Cluster Of Food Trucks

Ready or not, the holidays are officially upon us. It’s time to deck the halls and brave the malls. You wouldn’t want to do either on an empty stomach and this Friday brings the perfect opportunity to fuel up at the San Elijo Hills Foodie Fest and Tree Lighting.

Drawing on their allies at Cluster Truck Events, the San Elijo Hills Development Co. has succeeded in mobilizing 20 gourmet food trucks to chart a course for this collaborative holiday event. Hometown representatives include the MIHO Gastrotruck (piloted by a pair of former employees from The Linkery who’ve taken that eatery’s fresh, local, all-natural approach on the road), Tabe BBQ (Asian barbecue meets traditional Mexican fare), Devilicious (sinfully decadent sandwiches and fried goods including Satan Fries with bacon, blue cheese and “Devilicious Sauce”), Sweet Treats (ice cream bars and gourmet baked goods in a flame-painted, sonically-enhanced delivery truck) and Joe’s on the Nose (a purveyor of gourmet coffee drinks).

Food-truck

Barcelona on the Go food truck.
Courtesy photo

I’m all for being a full-on homer, but one of the most appealing aspects of this meals on wheels yuletide affair is the fact that three-fourths of the foodie field will be made up of vehicles trucked down from Los Angeles and Orange County, areas at the forefront of the runaway gastrotruck trend. These road warriors compete in regions that are much more highly-saturated with competition, relying on their unique cuisinal niches to flourish. The result is a great deal of variety which will be on display on Friday when event-goers can choose from the AhnJoo Truck (Korean snack food), Barcelona on the Go (Spanish tapas), DOSAtruck (Indian cuisine), Fishlips (sushi), Streethawker (Singaporean cuisine) and Uncle Lau’s (Hawaiian barbecue) to name a handful.

The trucks will open for business promptly on December 3 at 5 p.m. at the San Elijo Hills Town Square. Guests are advised to show up early. Events like these can get pretty crazy pretty quick and sampling such an assortment of globally diverse dishes takes time. Family-oriented activities such as ornament-decorating stations will also be set up and the main event, the tree lighting, will take place at 7 p.m. Family, fun, festivities and food, glorious food! God bless us everyone.

Strong Ties to the Community
Recent innovations like San Diego Beer Week have helped shine the light on our community’s beer culture, but there are certain long-standing events and beer industry veterans that are chiefly responsible for growing that societal sect. One such event, Pizza Port Carlsbad’s 14th annual Strong Ale Festival, an event celebrating beers registering above 8% alcohol by volume, will take place this weekend. $30 gets you admission and eight four-ounce taster tickets at this two-day multi-session taste-to-your-heart’s-content (or your liver’s limit), which will featuremore than75 of these behemoth brews, a number of which will only be available at the VIP session from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday. Getting in on that requires $40 and a good excuse for calling in sick from the day job in the name of pure leisure. Friday’s regular session will take place from 4 to 11 p.m. and Saturday’s goes from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For those who can’t wait until the end of the week, festival co-founder, Tom Nickel, the owner of O’Brien’s Pub, will hold his annual pre-party tonight starting at 5 p.m. That soiree will feature a cask each of the hop-plentiful AleSmith Winter YuleSmith and Alpine Beer Co. Bad Boy plus other gems like Beer de L’Amite, an international collaboration between Vista’s Green Flash Brewing Co. and Belgium’s Brasserie St. Fuillen, a barrel-blended 10th anniversary version of Stone Imperial Russian Stout and Karl Strauss’ Parrot in a Palm Tree, the first in a series of a dozen holiday beers being released over a twelve-year span.
Pizza Port: 571 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, 760.720.7007
O’Brien’s Pub: 4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa, 858.715.1745

Holiday Grill-ing
Many of the world’s strongest ales are brewed during the winter season. Not only does the high alcohol burn provide warmth during the chilly months, the spices they’re brewed with match up great with yuletide dishes peppered with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, chestnuts and cocoa. That symbiosis of taste sensations will be on full display on Dec. 8 when Kyle Bergman, the head chef of The Grill at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, presents a night of communal dining at a table stocked with dishes designed to pair with a quartet of locally-produced holiday beers including the aforementioned YuleSmith and Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper imperial stout. Bergman will match those rich December tipples with baked oysters, apple-persimmon soup, prime rib with Brussels sprouts and an old-fashioned Yule log made with chocolate sponge cake. Sounds like a good way to get into the holiday spirit to me.
11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, 858.777.6645

A Proper Brunch
Special events are great, but for folks who just want some good beer and equally good grub in a traditional setting, the East Village’s Proper Gastropub is vying to knock that item off your Christmas list care of their new tapas-style offerings and Sunday brunch. Both keep Proper’s British pub style intact with dishes like their corned beef and roasted potato frittata (think corned beef hash wrapped up in a cheesy-eggy envelope) and playful handles like the “Knicker Dropper Sarnie,” a kitchen-sink scrambled egg dish with roasted peppers, bacon and pesto. On the small plate front are dishes that share a most decadent commonality in that they take vegetables like Brussels sprouts and piquillo peppers that are beefed up with pork-fatty goodness in the form of applewood-smoked lardon (thick-cut bacon) and chorizo sausage. Or you can just cut to the chase and get the crispy pork belly dusted with cocoa powder and served with a light coffee crème and smoky-sweet black currant reduction sauce. No matter which way you go, the bold and hearty nature of these menu items make them well-suited as accompaniments to Proper’s all-in ale array and the people-watching perfect views from their rooftop dining area.
795 J Street, Downtown, 619.255.7520

A Link’ Between the Future and the Past
The Linkery
may be one of North Park’s busiest eateries, but the folks at its helm aren’t content to rest on their laurels simply because they’ve garnered a reputation as pioneering everyman-geared proponents of the farm-to-table movement. From Dec. 6 through 8, the restaurant will be closed while it undergoes a rapid yet considerable revamp in an effort to make their dining area more comfortable and the bar area more functional. When “The Linkery 2.0” reopens on Dec. 9, there will also be new dinner and brunch menus featuring dishes that will be less rotational—the kind of fresh-from-the-farm fare you can count on daily—and available by and large for less than $20. Those who fear change (or love the exiting menu items so much that they want a proper farewell) can get one last bite at the Good-Bye to All That Party on Dec. 5.
3794 30th Street, North Park, 619.255.8778