Architecturally inspired?  I just know it tasted great!

Coolhaus Gets a Warm Welcome to DFW

Conceived and created by Natasha Case and Freya Esteller, a couple of creative and ambitious Los Angeles entreprenuers, Coolhaus was born in Los Angeles in 2009.  The idea of an ice cream sandwich with an edible wrapper was introduced at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival.  Since launching in LA, they’ve expanded to New York, Miami and Austin.  How cool is it that Texas gets another Coolhaus truck in Dallas Fort Worth!  Coolhaus DFW made their local debut Saturday at StrEATs Frisco and a warm welcome it was!

Just opened and Cool Haus has long lines already.

 

Food trucks are always best enjoyed when you go as a group, whether friends or family, and share.  When I looked at the menu, only a sampling of all the flavors that have been created so far, I was really sorry I was here alone.  We’re not talking about ice cream sandwiches you had growing up or the sugary treats that come off the ice cream trucks in your neighborhood.  These are artisanal, hand crafted ice cream in a unique variety of flavors most of us would never consider sandwiched between your choice from a huge selection of cookies.   You can have a basic vanilla on a chocloate chip cookie ‘Sammich” if you’re not daring enough, but why go with the mundane when you have selections like:

  • Coconut Almond Cookie with Date Rum Pecan Ice Cream
  • Ginger Molasses Cookie with Mango Saffron Sorbet
  • Potato Chip & Butterscotch Cookie with Makers Mark Sponsored Ice Cream
  • Red Velvet Cookie with Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Smore’s Cookie with Dirty Mint
  • Vegan Chocolate Truffle Banana Cookie with Bananas Foster

One word of warning:  Don’t go with any preconceived ideas.  The availability varies based on the day and location, generally offering 7-10 ice cream choices and 5-7 cookies.  You’re bound to find something interesting because you select the cookie, you select the ice cream and they put it together and wrap it up in the edible wrapper (which is cooler than it sounds, because while you can eat it, you probably won’t want to).  A choice of interesting cookies including vegan options, standard and unusual ice cream creations or sorbets – Coolhaus has you covered.

It was a tough choice but I settled on a basic Chocolate Chip cookie with Chocolate Chipotle ice cream.  Not the most daring selection but you gotta start somewhere!  It reminded me of the Chocolate Jalapeno gelato I sometimes find at Paciugo’s.  Next time I get more exotic …

Chocolate Chip Cookie with Chocoloate Chipotle Ice Cream - Sweet with Zing!

 

One of the volunteers for the event was kind enough to let me take a picture of the Coconut Almond Cookie and Date Rum Pecan Ice Cream.

Cool Haus Almond Coconut Cookie with Date Rum Pecan Ice Cream

These are a great way to top off a meal or an awesome snack by itself.  The sandwiches aren’t so big they fill you up but they’re not so small they leave you hungry — it’s just your mouth that wants more!  At $5.50 a pop, they’re a ‘special treat’ best reserved to celebrate … but let’s not talk about how much “celebrating” I’ll probably do in the coming months.  C’mon, it’s my duty to go out and try some of the strange and exotic flavors they offer and report back to you!

If you are interesting in learning more about the creation of Coolhaus and the ladies behind it, check out this interview done by laist.  It provides more insight into how Natasha Case and Freya Esteller link architecture and food, not only in Coolhaus but their ideas for future projects.
Oh and that killer photo on our banner is the most awesome ice cream. It is Brown Butter with Carmelized Bacon! the Brown Butter has a delicate flavor and then you get that little  “POP” when you hit a piece of carmelized bacon….mmmm.

 

Cool Haus Street Eats Frisco 019

Frisco StrEATs Rocks the Square

Blue skies, long lines and loud music greeted the mass of attendees that made the first, and hopefully annual, Frisco StrEATs a resounding success.  Whether attending as a curious first – timer for the food truck experience, excited by the local debut of Cool Haus DFW or simply to support the talent on display from the School of Rock, there was something for everyone at this family friendly event.

Normally, my plan for food truck events is to arrive early and with a plan.  This time, my plan was to follow the advice of Ernestine Ulmer who is credited with saying,

 

“Life is uncertain.  Eat Dessert First.”

 

With that in mind, I headed directly for Cool Haus DFW, a mobile gourmet ice cream truck that offers ice cream Sammies constructed to order using fresh baked cookies and some of the most unusual ice cream flavors you’ll ever find.  They weren’t hard to find since they were granted the featured location right next to the band and just off Main Street.

From Vietnamese to gourmet hot dogs and most points in between, Frisco StrEATs provided a variety of food sure to satisfy your hunger, no matter what you wanted.  Joining Cool Haus DFW for their local debut were area faves Nammi, The Butcher’s Son, Cajun Tailgators, Easy Slider, EatJoDawgs, SoCal Tacos, Zombie’s (all Vegan), Ssahm and Rockstar Bakeshop.  In addition to the beverage offerings from the trucks, there was beer and wine available.

Based on the lines, there were no favorites.  By shortly after 3PM, there were more than 100 people in line for every truck and folks still arriving.  Finding the end of the food lines was harder than finding a parking space!  One of the volunteers for the event told me that people started arriving shortly after 2PM and the trucks opened as soon as they finished their prep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By all accounts, the inaugural StrEATs Frisco was a great success for the City of Frisco, the School of Rock and the participating trucks.  The trucks were well prepared and most had enough supplies on hand to serve until the scheduled end.  The attempt to plan and organize the event was overshadowed by one glaring error – you can’t cram hundreds of people and 10 food trucks into a single block!  In their defense, you can’t charge admission to a City sponsored event and you can’t limit attendance.  You can, however, ask those involved about what to expect and incorporate past experience into planning the event.  Projecting an attendance of 500 – 1000, a number exceeded in the first hour, was unrealistic for a 4-hour event given the rapid growth of the food truck community, both vendors and customers, in DFW over the past two years.  Hopefully, the City of Frisco (and the Collin County venues likely to jump on the bandwagon now) will learn from the experience and next year the planning will include:

 

  • More room for each truck and room permitting better separation of the lines
  • Separation of the entertainment and the trucks (the crying little ones with hands over their ears should be all the notice needed and the volume turned down!)
  • More Trucks to support the attendees and reduce the waiting time.

 

Frisco, congrats on being the first to bring the food trucks to an (obviously) hungry Collin County market.  Next time, don’t underestimate the success of the event.  There’s no reason, with just a few changes, you can’t make it bigger and better next year.

Tin_Star_Taco_Taxi_Back

Tin Star Taco Taxi Review

Tin Star Taco Taxi

 

The feature truck from Addison’s Thursday Night Bites this week is the Tin Star Taco Taxi.  A relative newcomer to the recent food truck scene in DFW, Tin Star rolled out from the brick and mortar Tin Star Taco Bar in Downtown Dallas.  Carrying on the vision of delivering great food at a good price – quickly – in a uniquely different approach that keeps the experience fresh, the Taco Taxi brings the food to the people.

 

 

 

You can’t claim to be the home of Notoriously Addictive Gourmet Tacos without making Tacos the premier item on the menu.  Tin Star doesn’t let you down, offering soft tacos in 2 versions of beef, 3 versions of chicken and pork and fish tacos grilled or deep fried.

 

Tonight we hit the trifecta with a Number 1 Grilled Steak taco, a Carnitas taco and a Grilled Fish taco.  There are no sides involved – just hot, moist, succulent tacos.

I found the grilled steak to be juicy and nearly melt in your mouth good but not what I was expecting from Grilled Steak.  The avocado, grilled onions and jack cheese were fresh and flavorful.

 

The Carnitas was tender and flavorful.  Simple, garnished with red onions and cilantro and a squeeze of lime.  It must have been good.  It disappeared before I got a bite!

 

First, the disclaimer.  I’m not a huge fish taco fan, but I keep trying them, hoping to be amazed.  My experience is that most are breaded and fried, then turn soggy in the taco.  Soooo, I went with the Grilled Fish.  The chipotle sauce had good spice but I found the slaw to be over used and over-powering, leaving the tortilla soggy.  Sorry, but this wasn’t the amazing fish taco I’m searching for … It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  Different strokes for different folks so you may get one with better balance on the ingredients that makes you happy.

 

I’m okay with the concept that fresh, high quality costs more resulting in higher costs.  I found the $3 per taco pretty steep for what I got (higher than prices on the website) and I’ve found tacos I prefer locally for less money.

I had a chance to sample the Street Nachos.  Available with Grilled Steak, Chicken or Seasoned Ground Beef, queso and jalapenos they are the quintessential Tex-Mex snack and these looked up to the challenge.  These are made with the Grilled Steak, the same buttery melt-in-your mouth meat on the tacos so how can they be anything less than great!

 

The competition between taco trucks is stiff and while I wasn’t blown away, I think Tin Star will remain a player.  Besides, keep in mind they’ve only been in business a couple of months and practice makes perfect.

And hey guys!  I don’t care if you need to raise prices to make a profit and stay in business …  but get the website updated so you don’t set expectations.  Clearly there were a bunch of people who didn’t mind paying $3 for a taco and $5 for Street Nachos but they’re just not as happy doing it when the website quotes lower prices.

The Freedom to Compete: Food Trucks take on Politics and the Establishment to Preserve the American Dream

“The freedom to pursue a livelihood, operate a business, and otherwise compete in the marketplace is essential to any free enterprise system.”  [The Free Dictionary]

One of the basic building blocks that sets the United States apart is the commitment to the American Dream; the concept that everyone who works hard and smart can become a success.  Throughout our history, the established business man has often turned to his local or national politician for regulations designed to prevent, or at least inhibit, competitors from starting up and threatening their livelihood.  The Food Truck Industry, at least in its current iteration, is an infant and in towns and cities across the country they are facing stiff challenges from local regulations designed to limit how and where they operate.

Jeffrey Dermer is both lawyer and founder of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, a group committed protecting the legal rights of food truck operators.  Recently, Dermer was interviewed by Zach Weissmueller.

Food Trucks vs. The Establishment

“I don’t think there’s anything unfair about it.  The problem is, your food isn’t good enough,”  says Dermer in the video interview.  I totally agree.  Don’t get me wrong.  I eat at a lot of restaurants.  And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a restaurant or a food truck – I don’t go back if I don’t enjoy the food.

If you follow Food Truck news, you are aware of the recent initiative to introduce legislation at the state level that banned vendors from operating within 1500 feet of a school.  Popular backlash killed the ban before it could be passed, but other cities across California and cities large and small across the country are still trying to restrict when, where and how food trucks.

The arguments by established restaurants generally focus on the unfair advantages of low cost for entry and mobility but overlook the challenges unique to the food truck operators.  But that’s another story for another day.

This is your typical David vs. Goliath conflict.  Food Truck Lovers Unite!  If your town attempts to invoke unfair limitations on food truck operators, show your support by signing petitions, and calling or writing your representatives.  And remember, in the original story David won!

 

Thursday Night Bites at Vitruvian Park

Addison’s Thursday Night Bites Leaves a Good Taste

It’s Thursday and I’ve been stuck in a business meetings all week.  Meal after meal of blasé buffet meals.  I need some comfortable food that pleases the palate and soothes the soul.  Wait … it’s Thursday!  I’m going to Addison’s Thursday Night Bites.

There are the signs pointing the way to Food Truck Event off Vitruvian Way and Spring Valley Road, leading through new construction, and opening into a beautiful open area with large grassy areas and ample free parking.  I get out of the car.  Music calls across the lawn and draws my attention to the trucks parked on the Ponte Avenue Bridge over a lovely little creek.  Below the bridge and along the creek is a trail perfect for walking off dinner.  This is one of the nicest locations I’ve visited that supports our local trucks.

 

Looking up the slope I see Bubbles, the stainless steel Airstream that is TrailerCakes home away from home.  If you like cupcakes, be daring and go for dessert first.  You may want to stop there first, even if you wait to eat them.  I checked about 6:45 PM and they were down to White on White and PB&J.

 

As we get closer, we find four additional trucks parked bumper-to-bumper on the bridge:  The Butcher’s Son, Tailgaters, Ssahm BBQ and Tin Star Taco Taxi.  And … anchoring the far end, there’s beer and wine in case your drink preference leans toward an adult beverage with your meal.

 

We arrived about 5:45 PM and the crowd was beginning to grow.  There are tables and chairs, trash cans aplenty, and lots of room on the bridge railing or lawn for overflow.

Thursday Night Bites in Addison is one of the newest recurring food truck events to hit the exploding DFW food truck scene.  Each Thursday from 5PM – 9PM, 4-6 food trucks are invited to the pop-up park adjacent to the Savoye Apartments, with a changing line-up each week.  The inaugural event last week featured some of the favorite trucks in the DFW area and the follow up last night included equally great offerings.

The sponsorship by the Savoye Apartments and U.S. Food Trucks, and support from the city of Addison, shows in the attention to detail and planning.  This a great way to enjoy the food trucks or to test the food truck experience.

Want to know who will be there next week?  Follow US Food Trucks on Facebook or Twitter to get each weeks truck line up.  And stay in touch.  There’s a big Food Truck Festival scheduled on June 9, 2012.  Mark your calendars now and I’ll see you there!

 

 

Food Trucks Go Hollywood, Sort of, on Bob’s Burgers

Come Sunday night on Fox, TV mirrors life on Bob’s Burgers.  Bob is losing customers to local food trucks setting up outside his restaurant.  His family persuades him to fight back by buying a food truck.  Things don’t turn out exactly has planned when the Belcher kids mischief causes the foodies and the other truck owners to riot against them.  No doubt, Fox will take artistic liberties for the sake of humor and we can only hope the focus stays on Bob and the Belchers as the bumblers and the other owners don’t get painted as the bad guys.  I’m not really a Bob’s Burgers fan and hopefully I won’t have reason to be less of a fan after Sunday.

If you want to watch, tune in to Fox Network at 8:30 PM on Sunday, April 15th, for the Food Truckin’ episode.