Like any conference or convention, there were highs and lows at the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). For me, one of the highs was getting to sample food from Seattle's best food trucks--they parked outside of the conference location one day and we had free reign to sample, chat with the vendors and chefs, and learn more about mobile food in Seattle. From ice cream to crepes, tacos to schwarma--here were my favorites:
Anita's Crepes actually has a brick and mortar location in Ballard, but they were at IFBC representing their Lemon Sugar Crepe. Working quickly and quietly, they churned out crepe after crepe to hungry conference participants. For me, this was a welcome change from some of the heavier fare and the beer we'd all been guzzling. The crepe was incredibly light and had a subtle crust of lemon sugar, served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a lemon slice. Perfection.
I've been to Molly Moons a few times before while visiting my sister in Seattle. They have a truck, but they also have a few free-standing locations in Capital Hill and Wallingford. If you're a Salted Caramel fan, this is the place for you. I've never tasted a richer, more intensely caramel flavor then what they're doing at Molly Moons. From a girl who can eat her weight in ice cream, I generally have to stop after a few bites. At the conference, I also had the chance to try the special Olive Oil flavor and the Scout Mint (as in, Girl Scout Mint Cookie). The Scout Mint was pleasant enough, but the Olive Oil ice cream was very special--the sort of thing you try with friends and do a lot of nodding but no one's quite sure how to talk about it. It was an uber-rich vanilla ice cream spiked with the earthy, floral notes of a very fine olive oil. I hope they decide to carry this one over at the shop. If so, it'll be my first stop-off next time I'm in town.
Dante's Inferno Dogs
Up until IFBC, I had never tried a hot dog with cream cheese before. And I have to say, I'll never look at hot dogs the same. While I was too stuffed to have an entire Dante's Inferno Dog, I had many bites from friends and we all compared notes. Dante's story is a great one--after moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1995 and suffering a few failed business ventures, he decided on dogs. The rest is history. He's infamous with the late night bar crowd, but is also well-loved around town for his classic (and not-so-classic) dogs and quiet, friendly demeanor. If I lived in Seattle, I'd hunt him down frequently. And in the meantime, I'm going to start using cream cheese much more liberally when it comes to dogs and sausages. Who knew?
El Camion has three locations in Seattle and folks like Tom Douglas and publications including the Seattle Weekly and The Seattle Times have raved about the tacos. I had the chance to try the chicken mole taco -- I'm a huge fan of mole, especially when it's done right. And El Camion nailed it. The mole was warmly spiced with hints of cinnamon and pepper. Fabulous spicy salsas, too. And an extremely friendly, exuberant staff. Folks were talking about these tacos well into the afternoon.
The schwarma that I had at Hallava Falafel may just possibly have been the best schwarma I've ever tasted. I've previously reserved that honor for this dumpy spot off of University Ave. in Denver that I loved as a college student, but Hallava has pushed them to second place. The folks behind the truck decided to open in 2006 in the Georgetown neighborhood after realizing how difficult it was to get a quality lunch for under $10. The schwarma itself was flavorful and spicy--slow roasted lamb and beef accompanied by Russian red relish, spinach and cabbage mix, tzatziki a wild Armenian pickle, and their "super secret spice mix". They make all of their sauces, salads, and falafel from scratch and keep their menu relatively simple to keep costs down and keep customers coming back.
If you tied me down and asked me to name my favorite food truck that day, Skillet is it. The mini burger of grass-fed beef, arugula, bacon jam, and cambozola cheese on a little soft bun kind of blew my mind. Apparently they do poutine as well, and there's nothing like a good poutine to start the day off right. If you're local (or just visiting), check their rotating menu and calendar for specials. On his website, owner and executive chef, Joshua Henderson, notes: "we hope to create a business that sustains itself through impeccably executed food, simply done, and regionally relevant." From one small burger, I can attest to the fact that they are--without a doubt--achieving their goal.