Santa Barbara is hardly the cutting edge of food trends, we gladly take the spillover several years down the line. Food trucks are one of those trends I’ve been waiting for. In my impatience, I’ve gone to LA to explore them (and failed, thank you over-capacity food truck fest), and to Portland (big big big big win!!). They’re such a great way for small businesses to get running and provide a wonderful diversity of food treats.
But it’s now starting. And while some trucks in SB have been building up the marketing before they’ve opened, this truck sneaked right up on people, kicking off their first day unknown to anyone in my circle.
Culture Shock was set up at the Wheelhouse downtown. It was their first day, they were happy, enthusiastic, and definitely learning things for their next day of operation. Like…to bring some chalk to make the menu! Or more business cards because they’d totally run out.
They’re a husband and wife team, making street food with Sri Lankan flavors. I know nothing more of their background, because they were busy reading the menu, taking orders, cooking and delivering. But here’s what we got.
One organic chicken curry plate, with rice, dal, shredded carrot salad, and spicy sweet mango chutney, for $8 (their website says $8.50, note), and a $5 chicken bratwurst (made by the owners’ friends) with mustard and curry wrapped in paratha roti. That’s the layered flaky style roti. Very filling and the roti dog was our favorite of the two although definitely more messy.
We also had a mango lassi, which was lovely and thick and refreshing on this hot day, but there’s no photo.
It looks like their schedule isn’t solid yet, but with food trucks in SB, it’s always changing anyway. The Wheelhouse, however, appears to be the Saturday stop for Culture Shock, which is awesome since the farmers market is just around the corner and people can probably learn some new things about Sri Lankan flavors.
Tonight was Glühwein and cocktails at the Emerson house. I had my first proper mulled wine at the Christkindlmarket in Germany 1999 while visiting Claudia. At the time it seemed bitter, but it was warming on those snowy nights. I’ve had mulled wine this month from several places and found them much yummier than my memory of it. And this is a good thing. I am a fan now.
We cooked up a little bratwursts with onions, and potato salad as nibbles, to keep with the German theme.
Ingrid also had pastries from Renaud’s. People brought ornaments to decorate the tree. Lots of chatter and drinking of mulled wine took place. Little decorating of the giant gingerbread man took place, poor guy must have gotten cold from being naked.
Love the holidays.
A phone call from Ted drew me out of hiding indoors from the summer heat (and reading a copy of Watchmen, because I’m a geek) suggesting food, and I was up for some German sausages. We headed off to Dutch Gardens on upper State Street.
We were there for dinner, but opted to sit in the front bar area. Really, I think I enjoy the bar area more, with its teensy little blue swivel chairs and the casual appeal. Next time I’m there when it’s raining, you’ll find me in the back sitting under the metal rooftop, but tonight was a bar night.
The menu is deliciously simple, just a page of half a dozen standards, a nightly special meat dish and a nightly special fish dish. We teamed up and ordered one bratwurst sausage dinner, and the meat special: Eisbein.
What is Eisbein, you say? Well, it turns out there is curiosity enough that Molly, of mollycules.com, created a video for it.
The ham hock was delicious. Very tender and succulent. There was also gravy and some very large white beans in the sauce. And I don’t know what the vegetables are cooked in, but it’s some kind of heavenly spiced broth. It’s very good.
All the dinners come with a choice of soup or salad, and with our order of two dinners we were sure to get one of each. I quite liked the salad, and thought the soup was great to dip our German rye bread into. We also ordered a triple fermented Belgian Ale, Piraat. Now, I tell people I am not much a beer person, but this ale went well with the meal. Spicy, a little sweet, and quite rich. It was good to savor throughout the whole meal.
The basket of bread was piping hot and came with both a white and brown rye bread, and butter. We ate it with the butter and dipped it in the soup. Perhaps not the best starter on a hot summer evening, but good nonetheless. I would very much look forward to this on a cozy winter night.
Our other dinner was a bratwurst, which we combined with the above soup, potato salad, vegetables, sauerkraut and bread, plus an in-house mustard mix. It was very satisfying, and there was still leftovers. In fact, we had to take home two boxes of leftovers, as seen in the far right picture. But don’t you worry, we did manage to finish up that fine glass of Piraat ale.
We sat in the back of the restaurant, had the soup which was a lovely cream and celery, and ate a hearty meal of catfish for him, and chicken breast stuffed with banana and mushrooms for me. Yeah, I said banana! Sounds like a queer combination but it totally worked.
The chicken skin was perfectly crisp roasted, and breast was sliced and fanned out on the plate. Both our meals came with choice of potatoes (pancake or potato salad, and you can have half of both if you like), sauerkraut, vegetables, and a basket of rye bread.
Left: cream of celery soup. Right: banana stuffed chicken and veg.
I’m down with checking that out.
When I was a wee bean, my parents ate here and hated it. Their disdain spilled over onto me and I have held back from eating here for years. YEARS.
But I’d just donated blood, and the yoghurt and tangerine I’d brought for lunch just wouldn’t cut it. A co-worker said, “Dutch Gardens!” and we were off.
The bar rocks. I am all over this cozy kitschy stuff. It helps that the music was Radiohead, too. The area is tight, with small blue swivel chairs. The whole place, in fact, is all lopsided and slopy and quirky. LOVE.
Left: the bar. Middle: bar chairs, so tiny! Right: Weiswurst lunch plate
The vegetables were so good, they must have been par-boiled in a lightly spiced broth, the carrots tasted vaguely of cloves. I really liked it.
Left: bread and butter, served with the weistwurst lunch. Right: reuben!
Friend had the reuben and a beer.
I’d love to come back some day after work for a swift half, a sausage and some mellow times with friends. And please do come with your young, hip friends, because most of the other diners were part of the blue rinse brigade. And they were *not* rocking the Radiohead.
The wrap-up? Either Dutch Gardens has changed for the better or my parents are liars. Probably a combination of both.