Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Breed Street Food Fair, East Los Angeles - Taking A Trip on the Mexico Time Travel Machine

Breed Street Food Fair East LA

If you could time travel, where would you go? More importantly, where would you LIKE to travel to solely for food? If you ask me, it would be very difficult for me to answer. But, I would consider...

Shanghai. For some of the crispiest, juiciest pan-fried dumplings ever. A line with no less than 30 people at any given moment. One bite of these, and you'll know you're in China.

Hong Kong. For some of the crunchiest, toothsome wontons ever. So crunch you can hear the friction between the shrimp and your lucky tooth.

Vietnam. I could die eating a bowl of pho on a tiny stool at 7:15 am, inhaling the toxic gas from scooters passing by.

Paris. For those gigantic oysters known as belons, or European Flats. They taste like Duracell batteries at first, but with one swig of a fine wine, you''ll understand the relationship between the sea and land, and ascend into oyster heaven.

I could go on and on about things that would get me hot & bothered, but until I nail the Lotto or if Virgin surpasses its galactic endeavors with an actual time travel machine, I'm stuck in Los Angeles. But if you're interested in all things Mexican and strapped for cash, like I am, during the economic hardship, you may find what you're looking for – a portal into Mexico. Right in East LA.

I first heard about this food fair from Anjali of Delicious Coma, Abby of Pleasure Palate and Bill of Street Gourmet LA – who write fantastic blogs. On a Friday night, some friends and I met up with Anjali and Pam for some time traveling. We got off the 5 freeway and as we neared our destination, I really didn't know what to expect. Would it be similar to our trips to Oaxaca and D.F.? Or would this be an overhyped event. Once we saw the Big Buy Foods market and people crossing back and forth on the street, we knew it would be stellar. There were a good 25-30 people working the 10+ booths and about 100 hungry patrons walking around with cash in their hands.

If you haven't been to Mexico, I'd say this is a pretty good simulation of it. Portable lights affixed to poles, rainbow-colored parasols, Tejano music pumping from old boomboxes, people's voices and the pattering of spatulas on metal griddles. All within a parking lot on a Friday night. This was fantastic.

We also ran into a nice couple that we had met at a La Casita dinner in Bell, hosted by a certain teenager. Jocie and Al are also heavily involved in the Los Angeles food scene and head their own 'food tours', including stopovers here at the Breed Street food fair. With their guidance and generosity and our swine-like instincts, we would only eat the best tonight.

Breed Street Food Fair Fish Taco & Pupusa

This couple offered fish tacos, flautas and pupusas. Quite a cultural mix of food.

Breed Street Food Fair Taquitos

Taquitos/flautas getting a spicy, green bubble bath.

Breed Street Food Fair Pozole

Pozole/posole. One of my favorite Mexican soups made with pork feet, tomato sauce, broth and hominy. Topped with thinly sliced radishes (rabanos), onions, cilantro and lime – so good on a cold night. A large container of this for only $5.99.

Breed Street Food Fair Pozole

Breed Street Food Fair Elotes

Esquites. A Mexican favorite. What is there not to love about
corn, mayonnaise, cheese, chile and lime? I always get stinging
red lips after eating this but it's so worth it.

Breed Street Food Fair Quesadilla Nina

Breed Street Food Fair Dough

Breed Street Food Fair Quesadilla

Tortillas hecho a mano. Yummy corn tortillas.

Breed Street Food Fair Quesadilla

This vendor, Nina, as written on her t-shirt, specializes in Mexico City (D.F.) style quesadillas. The tub in the center with the dark filling is huitlacoche, Mexican corn fungus. It has a pungent, sour taste similar to parmesan cheese. Great stuff.

Breed Street Food Fair Quesadilla Salsas

Breed Street Food Fair Enchilada

Breed Street Food Fair Enchilada

From the same female chef, Nina, is this variation of enchiladas that
has huitlacoche. Jocie's friends were kind enough to order this
and share some with us. Thanks!

Breed Street Food Fair Barbacoa

Have you had barbacoa? If not, you should eat it because it's fabulous. It's slow roasted lamb served on a tortilla.

Breed Street Food Fair Barbacoa

Breed Street Food Fair Barbacoa

Breed Street Food Fair Barbacoa

But what I love most about eating barbacoa or even birria, is the accompaniment of rich, flavorful broth known as consome. Usually in the flavor of goat (chivo). You take a bite of the taco and refresh your palate with a shot of this soup. So good. Might even taste good dipping it in the consome.

Breed Street Food Fair Cabeza al Vapor

If you've been to a taco stand/table, you'll usually see a pan covered in saran wrap or even a white towel. That type of meat, usually cabeza or lengua, is being steamed. Mexicans call it tacos al vapor, as in steam/vapor, because they steam both the meat AND the tortilla. And it's hot enough to leave blisters on your hands. I had the cabeza here and I can't explain to you how moist this meat was – melted right away.

Breed Street Food Fair Cabeza al Vapor

Breed Street Food Fair Tacos Al Pastor

Of course you'll find your standard taco vendor. But to tell you the truth, they become the lonely stepchild of the family when there's so many other new things to try. I'm sure they are good.

Breed Street Food Fair Churros

But what I found to be the most delicious and interesting was the Churro Man and his son. They were situated next to the barbacoa people and told me that he had constructed the churro machine at home. An ingenious contraption that involves a crank, star-shaped tip and a pool of hot oil. You can't see, but the man has his right hand on a crank that pushes out a segment of churro dough. He then carefully catches the churro and gently lays it in the pool of oil. The whole process takes a few minutes and is finished off in a bowl of cinnamon sugar, done by his son. Only 4 pieces for $1. Crunchy on the outside, and doughy in the middle - a perfect churro in my opinion. I wonder how these compare to the churro truck in Echo Park.

Breed Street Food Fair Churros

Breed Street Food Fair Churros

Breed Street Food Fair Flan Dessert

Just an FYI, there are only 10 vendors in a small portion of a parking lot. It may look small from the outside, but once you see the amount of food offered by the vendor, it is definitely larger in one's perspective.

Bill of Street Gourmet LA's writeup.
Abby of Pleasure Palate's writeup.
Anjali of Delicious Coma's writeup.

Big Buy Foods (Across the street)
2233 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Thursday - Sunday, 7-10 pm


Anonymous said...

Beautiful pics and a great description of what it feels like to go there. It was great to meet you guys there and share with you our experience of eating at Breed street.


WeezerMonkey said...

This looks incredible!

Unrelated, congrats on coming up with the Worst Bands Ever when mangling my blog identity -- that's true talent!

pleasurepalate said...

I'm so glad you finally checked out Breed Street. I actually went last Saturday for the first time since last year and totally fell in love with the consomme. On a cold night, I could drink gallons of it. :)

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Jocie, thank you again for the breakdown of all the vendors. i'll for sure be back. next time, i'll be looking for Nina's pozole. Tuesdays only?

CrazyTownMonkey, don't worry, i have a whole bucket of crappy bands to throw out.

Abby, I am bringing my own container there to take home pozole and consome. nothing tastes better than goat juice and onions/cilantro.

Anjali said...

The churros... I'm still dreaming about them.

Thanks for such a fun night! We'll have to have another food adventure very soon.

Daily Gluttony said...

breed street rocks! thanks so much for inviting us out w/ you guys--isaac, chachob & i had so much fun! i just wish we coulda hung out longer but it was past chachob's bubble bath time. :)

i really, really wanna go back here & try some of the things i didn't get to try like the pozole & the esquites! next time!

burumun said...

Too bad I couldn't join you guys this time, I was there with that group just the week before! I really love those churros. Need to try the pozole next!

Oh, also, a friend of mine linked to this post on facebook, haha, I feel proud by association when I saw that =p

One Food Guy said...

Seriously, why can't I find stuff like this in Boston. It's just not fair I tell you. I think the closest thing might be the Red Hook ball fields in Brooklyn, which I still have not been to.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Anjali, yes! crunchy on the outside, doughy on the inside – way too heavenly. we had a great time hanging out w/ you and whitesuitboy.

DG, we have a photo to give you of Chachob. let's find the time and go eat there again.

Burumun, good thing they are there FOUR times a week. you're a truly lazy foodie if you miss this grand opportunity ha.

OFG, again there is the tradeoff. you have solid beers/seafood... we have restaurants on 4 legs and 4 wheels. you can only choose one!

Anonymous said...

that kind churro contraption has existed for eons in tijuana and other urban mexican cities.... just twist, scrape, fry, you're done.


I'm a lifelong LA native and this is news to me. Did you know your 'word verification' for comments is frappo, even your word verification sounds tasty.

Allison said...

Hey I'm flattered you liked my pictures. I've been following your blog for a while and I love it. Its like I'm eating there on the street with you.

Have you been to Taipei? I just got back from there and its street food heaven!

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Dazy said...

Street food is what we don't have regularly for health issues. And also I have stomach problem with those. But Thai street food are good.

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