One can't help but be impressed by La Cocina and its participants. Many were gathered last Thursday for a preview press event for the SF Street Food Festival coming up on August 18th. Along with tasty nibbles, there were participants with stories and ambitions for a successful future in food.

I first learned of La Cocina, an incubator kitchen, in 2010. (Please read my 2010 post on La Cocina and its operations.) A fast recap, La Cocina is an organization and commercial kitchen that assists immigrant and low income women to start food based businesses. They provide training in marketing, packaging, licenses and permits, and much more. The program has two tracts: prepared foods (catering, restaurants, mobile food vending) and packaged foods for retail sale. 

There are phases that each participant goes through. First is a thorough application process after which the successful candidate enters the pre-incubation period. During pre-incubation they learn about marketing, fine tuning their concept, financing, and more. The next phase is incubation where they actually start the business after getting assistance with permitting and investors. Finally they graduate after their business has achieved a secure, sustainable point and the business can now survive on its own. 

Just two minutes. "That's all?" I ask. Michael Johnson assures me that, with a couple rotations, the pizza is done in only two minutes. The internal oven temperature is a sizzling 800+ degrees and the pizza crust is thin. It doesn't take more time than that.

I'm not sitting in restaurant waiting for my meal. Instead, it's lunchtime and I'm standing outside at the farmers market waiting for my pizza at a tent. This pizza may be served on a plate outside, but it rivals any in town.

For any Sacramentan living in midtown, there is often a debate over drinks - are you Masullo or Hot Italian?  Yes, there may be other places doing thin crust, Italian style, wood fired pizza, but those are the two main camps in town. The Pizza Company, rolling its oven around behind a pickup truck, is as good, or better, than either of those.  

Johnson has been pulling his oven around the Sacramento area for the last three years. His background includes graduating from the Culinary Institute of America 21 years ago (coincidentally with classmate Robert Masullo). Since that time he has worked in restaurants on the East Coast as well as in Napa and Sonoma. His history with pizza, though, is even older than that. Johnson started tossing pizza as a teenager, working in pizza parlors throughout high school and college.

That's right. When the out-of-town food trucks come for the big SactoMoFo events, I stock up. SactoMoFo4 in April? I ate truck food for three days. After all, these trucks only come to town once in a while and I get to them in the City even less. Here are the items that I get and save to eat over the following couple of days.

First you need to be prepared. I am lucky in that I live two blocks from the event site and so I go home a few times during the day. Better my own bathroom than those porta-potties! But if you are not close by, bring an ice chest with those freezer ice blocks to keep it cool. After all, it gets hot in the summer. You also need a variety of baggies or plastic containers to put everything.

Here are the things I always get that last well.

I love the steamed buns from the Chairman Truck. These actually do keep well for the next day. Place them into a plastic container for careful storage. When you are ready to reheat them, put them in a microwave steamer with just a little bit of water to steam, and then nuke them for a minute. They revive just great. If you don't own a microwave steamer, I would plate them and drape a wet paper towel over them and then nuke them.

El Porteno's empanadas are an easy one to keep. Sure the pastry suffers a little, but overall they keep and reheat really well.

A Curry Up Now or Red Truck Tahoe Indian burrito keeps really well also. They are wrapped up tightly in foil. I bet you could even freeze a couple without much problem.

Hapa SF's sisig and lumpia will survive a day or two, if you can keep yourself from eating them.

These are just a few of my favorites that you can count on me getting tomorrow.

Most people have a go-to potluck dish, even if yours is a flat of grocery store cupcakes or a bag of chips and salsa. I have one that I always get recipe requests for, my Avocado Tortellini Salad, with just six ingredients, it's easy and always popular.

I had made a batch of ceviche and was enjoying it when it occurred to me that I could mix the two ideas together, minus the tortellini. Since I've been dabbling in paleo and trying to not eat pasta and grains, this seemed like a great mix of two favorite recipes.

If you love avocados, then check out a bunch of great recipes at Avocados from Mexico’s Website “Recipes from Avocado Lovers”. 

Avocado Dill Ceviche

  • 2 cups any firm white fish, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, completely deboned
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • 2 avocados, diced
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients but avocados together in a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate for four hours, stirring every hour.
  2. When ready to serve, cut peeled/seeded avocado into 1/2 inch cubes and toss with the ceviche. Serve chilled.

 “This sponsorship is brought to you by Avocados From Mexico who we have partnered with for this promotion.

As SactoMoFo 5 approaches on Saturday, it seemed only fitting that I write a post related to my favorite Bay area truck, Hapa SF. 

If you know your Hawaiian pidgin, "hapa" means "half-caste" or "of mixed descent". Therefore, I would be a hapa since I am half Filipino and half British. In the case of Hapa SF, the truck specializes in contemporary Filipino food. As their website says, "Our focus is to tantalize your taste buds with our innovative take on classic Filipino cuisine."

Whenever I see them I have to go and get a plate of sisig, a pork dish that any pork lover would crave. Then William Pilz,  Hapa SF's chef and owner, gave a sisig recipe to for printing. I pinned that sucker onto my Pinterest board right away with a goal to make it.

strawberry coconut cream pie, peanut butter tart, smores, dessert disco fries
The Foodspotting Eatup gauntlet was thrown in Sacramento recently. The July Eatup was held at The Eatery in West Sacramento and the lucky Foodspotters who attended had no idea they were about to be treated so well! Chef Jess Milbourn had decided to test new menu items and served five well received dishes.

Harissa Bacon Caramel Corn
Peanut Butter Habanero Wings
Beer Battered Housemade Chicken Sausage Bites
Slow Smoked BBQ Pork Shoulder
Smoked Bacon and Vegetable Raviolis

I was on a mission. I needed to get a pig's earjowls, and some pork butt for the sisig I wanted to make. (Post on that in a few days.) Off I went to Good: Street Food  and Design on Sunday because Danny Johnson, the butcher from Taylor's Market, was going to be butchering a hog and selling the pork. Unfortunately he did not bring the head (although he did have the jowls). Without an ear, I considered alternatives. When he got to skinning the carcass I called out my request, "Can I have the skin?" He was nice enough to give it to me for free.

At home I cut the skin into three so that I could use one section for the sisig. Then it occurred to me I could try my hand making deep fried pork rinds, or chicharron. With a search of various recipes online, I mostly followed the method used by