Swedish Food Truck Dishes Up Airport Cuisine

Sweden Airport Food Truck
Photo credit: Swedavia

Whether you like to hunt down the hidden hole-in-the-wall eateries, the popular street food stalls or the city’s best haute cuisine, you probably agree that food is an important part of the travel experience. But if there’s one aspect of travel dining that is universally loathed, it has to be airport food. Bland, congealed — not to mention overpriced — airport meals seem to be an inevitable part of the journey.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that one country has decided its airport food is so good that it is part of its marketing campaign. Sweden believes the fare at Stockholm Arlanda Airport is so nom-worthy that it is loading up food trucks with the airport cuisine to tempt the taste buds of the city’s residents and visitors.For $10, hungry patrons can dine on dishes like braised veal, pulled pork, truffle risotto, lasagna and ramen soup with wasabi-marinated smoked salmon. Those behind the concept say they believe people will be surprised by the quality of the food, and will hopefully be encouraged to get to the airport earlier to sample more of the cuisine on offer.

The food truck will make rounds of Stockholm for several weeks, but may stick around longer if the idea proves a success.

What do you think of airport food? Would you try out the Arlanda Food Truck?

Budget Guide 2013: Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio, is known as both “Cowtown” and “The Biggest Small Town in America,” nicknames that begin to shed light on the destination’s Midwest charm mixed with big city amenities. Relative to other urban centers, the streets are safe and the people are friendly, yet you’ll find restaurants, galleries, shops and other attractions that have Columbus competing with cities two and three times its size.

Contrary to many other cities across the nation, the population of Columbus has been growing steadily. This influx of new residents has led to many new business openings in the city, and kept healthy competition amongst both old and new proprietors. Here, the average price for a beer at a bar is a modest $3.50, and meals at reasonably priced restaurants will only set you back about $10 per person. The food scene is delicious, there are plenty of attractions to explore, and getting around is simple – whether you’re traveling by foot, bus, bike, taxi or even pedicab.

If you need more convincing, consider this: Columbus has been ranked a top shopping destination by Forbes, a top arts destination by American Style, a top city for biking by Bicycling Magazine, and the city’s Science Center, COSI, was named the number one in the country for families by Parents Magazine. On top of that, National Geographic recently named the city one of the top 10 best fall trips. Spend a long weekend in this city, and you might find yourself wanting to come back for more.


Hotels

The Wayfaring Buckeye Hostel: Columbus is known for its mega-sized university, Ohio State, and this newly established house-turned-hostel is the place to be if you want to stay in the heart of it all. The whole place is ready to party: on the front porch you’ll find a beer pong table, the common area is outfitted with a projector screen for movies and a foosball table, and the back patio frequently hosts music performances. Despite the frat house atmosphere, managers keep the hostel clean, and visitors can also take advantage of free Wi-Fi, bicycle rental, laundry facilities and more. From $25.
WayfaringBuckeye.com 2407 Indiana Ave.; 614-754-0945.

The Lofts: At this recently renovated boutique hotel in Columbus’ Arena District, old meets new: the hotel’s exterior is set in a historic former warehouse, yet inside you’ll find clean, contemporary designed rooms with exposed brick walls. Other amenities include an indoor swimming pool and an on-site restaurant. Be sure to check into package deals, as the hotel has been running a special where they throw in a third night stay for free, bringing the overall price tag way, way down. From $144 (before discount).
55Lofts.com 55 East Nationwide Blvd.; 614-461-2663

German Village Guesthouse: If you’re looking for something a little quieter, the cozy German Village Guesthouse is not only ranked as the top bed-and-breakfast in Columbus on TripAdvisor, but was also voted the “Best Hotel/B&B in Columbus” in the 2012 reader poll by 614 Magazine. Some of the rooms offer great views of the Columbus skyline, and on the ground you can explore the cobblestone streets and lush gardens of historic German Village, a neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Districts. From $195.
GVGuesthouse.com 748 Jaeger St.; 614-437-9712

Eat and Drink

Grass Skirt Tiki Room: The newest oasis in Columbus’ downtown area is this tiki-themed bar, the brainchild of the city’s ragtag group of unorthodox restaurateurs, the Columbus Food League. Here you can chow down on a Loco Moco (traditional Hawaiian dish of burger patties over rice smothered in gravy and a sunny side-up egg) while throwing back a mai tai, or you could head to one of the group’s other restaurants: the Surly Girl Saloon, Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits, or Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails, where you’ll also get a dose of Ohio history.
GrassSkirtTiki.com 105 N Grant Ave.; 614-429-3650

Bodega: Every Monday night hipsters flock to Bodega, when the restaurant offers $1 panini-style grilled cheese sandwiches. What money you save on dinner you can contribute to trying one of the restaurants 50+ craft beers on tap – which, by the way, are also half off from 4 to 8 p.m. Don’t forget to try the local suds, including Columbus Brewing Company, Buckeye Lake Brewery, Elevator Brewing Company, Hoff Hearted Brewing and more. The patio makes for a great spot to people watch, while the interior has an artsy, sophisticated vibe. ColumbusBodega.com 1044 N. High St.; 614-299-9399

Food Trucks: These days, it seems as though you can’t talk about cheap eats without mentioning meals on wheels. Columbus is no exception to the food truck craze, with nearly 100 roving restaurants circulating the city. Options range from creole to crepes, Indonesian to Italian, pierogies to pulled pork, or Jamaican to Korean, but the trend that has really taken off are taco trucks. More than 40 of these trucks cater to Columbus’ fastest growing population – Latinos – as well as anyone else who wants a quick, tasty bite.
StreetEatsColumbus.com

Budget Activities

North Market: In the late 1800s there were four public markets in Columbus, each with a name paying homage to its cardinal direction. Today, only one remains: North Market. The current 36 merchants inside the building include delis, bakeries, pastry shops, ethnic restaurants, specialty goods sellers, produce stands and more. Even if you only pop in for a taste, don’t miss Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. This creamery takes the label “artisan” seriously, promising “[e]very single thing we put in our ice cream is legit.” Just last year, head honcho Jeni Britton Bauer won a James Beard Foundation Book Award for her cookbook, “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home” – a great takeaway if you’re looking to bring a piece of Columbus back home.

Experience Cafe Culture: It would be far-fetched to say Columbus is the next Paris, but this city has become obsessed with cafe culture recently. Artisan roasters and craft coffeemakers are popping up all over the city, promising a cafe on nearly every street corner – that isn’t Starbucks. Cafe Brioso and Staufs Coffee roast all their coffees in house, while Back Room Coffee Roasters operates out of a local bike repair shop and Thunderkiss roasts single-origin coffees in less than five pound batches. There are also mainstays such as Cup o’ Joe and Crimson Cup.

Swim with Stingrays: You no longer have to go to a place like Belize’s “Shark Ray Alley” to swim with stingrays. Last year, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium opened a new attraction, Stingray Bay, inside an 18,000-gallon saltwater pool that allows you to get up close and personal with the creatures. Touching the stingrays in Stingray Bay is perfectly safe, and it only costs an extra $3. Even better, you’ll be inside a top-rated zoo that was developed with great help from famed zookeeper Jack Hanna and is currently home to more than 9,000 animals. If that’s not enough, the zoo is adjacent to the Zoombezi Bay Waterpark. A day pass to both attractions is less than $30, and you’ll also save on parking!

Get Around

Columbus is easily walkable, with much of the city centered around the main north/south drag: High Street. Along this road you’ll find some of the city’s best bars, restaurants, art galleries and specialty shops. Several neighborhoods are worth a walk-through, particularly the Short North, the arts and entertainment district. If you happen to visit during the first Saturday of each month, the Short North hosts a free gala on fine art and food starting at 4 p.m., when all the galleries along High Street open their doors to unveil new exhibitions – and many offer small bites and samples of wine.

However, if you need to get from one end of High Street to the other faster than your legs will take you, the #2 bus operated by Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) can get you anywhere along this main artery for $2 per trip or $4.50 for a day pass. Since the city is flat, renting a bike is also a great option, or if preferred you can have someone else do the legwork by taking a ride in one of the many pedicabs that navigate the city.

Buses also service Port Columbus International Airport, which is six miles from Columbus. Use the trip planner on the COTA website to find the next bus, or just pop the address into Google maps to get bus directions to your starting (or ending) location. The next best option is a shuttle bus, of which there are many options to and from the airport.

Budget Tip

If you’re looking for a night out on the town without hurting your wallet, check out the Columbus-based website 20 Dollar Dates. There you’ll find plenty for two people to do, and you’re guaranteed to never spend more than a Jackson. Date ideas range from happy hour specials to nearby hikes to holiday-themed activities.

[Photo credits: Flickr user Jack Zalium (top image) and Flickr user codydean]

Food Trucks Gone Wild: A Video Tour Of LA’s Melrose Night


Care for a $5 ice cream sandwich made with fried chicken and waffle flavored ice cream and a gluten-free coconut almond cookie? Or how about some Hawaiian breakfast sliders, made with Portuguese sausage, sautéed onions, and Shoyu scrambled eggs on Hawaiian bread? Those of are just a couple of the tantalizing selections I noticed when I stumbled across Melrose Night in Los Angeles last Thursday night.

On the first Thursday of each month, more than a dozen food trucks and an assortment of shops set up on Melrose Avenue between Ogden and Curson between 6-10 p.m. The event began in January 2011, and the crowds and vendor list continues to grow. I counted 15 food trucks at Melrose Night last week and almost every one of them had something I wanted to eat.There was gelato on a stick ($4) at Cool Cow Feel Good, Frito pies ($6) and chicken and waffles ($8) at the Trailer Park Truck, red velvet chocolate chip pancakes ($6), lobster rolls ($12) and a host of other goodies. One truck was even selling flatiron steaks at $15 a pop.


I love the gourmet food truck trend, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to order a steak or fried chicken and stand on the street eating it. I will order tacos, ice cream, lobster rolls, burgers, basically anything that doesn’t require a knife and fork, but I really don’t want to be eating pancakes, omelets, steaks and the like on the street.

My other issue with some gourmet food trucks is the high prices. Some are offering very good values. We had a rocky road ice cream sandwich that I thought was pricey at $5 until I realized the thing was big enough to feed my family of four!


But others are pricing their menu items as though they were restaurants. There is a difference between standing on a street corner eating something and being able to sit down at a restaurant, be it fast food or sit down. I do expect a discount at a food truck, but I think a few food truck proprietors are getting a bit high and mighty.

I know that they need permits and have overhead as well, but their fixed costs are lower than restaurants, so I don’t expect to pay $11 for a veggie burger and fries at a food truck when that is roughly the same price I’d pay in a restaurant.

Those minor beefs aside, I highly recommend checking out Melrose Night. Show up hungry and you will definitely eat well. It’s also a great area for window-shopping and people watching. L.A. isn’t much of a pedestrian city, but this is one of the few opportunities to walk around on sidewalks that are full of people and life. You might not save a ton of money by dining on the street, but you’ll eat well and have a blast.

The best food trucks in New York City

best food trucks nyc

In recent years, food trucks have taken over the streets of New York City. But for the casual observer, it can be difficult to distinguish between the good (organic, artisanal, locally-sourced), the bad (hello street meat), and the ugly (any of the cupcake carts in SoHo) when it comes to street food. To help, we’ve compiled a slideshow of some of our favorite mobile restaurants in NYC. You can thank us later.

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Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
The truck is in the garage until spring, but ice cream lovers hankering for treats like the Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, chocolate dip) or Mermaid (vanilla ice cream, key lime curd, crushed graham crackers, whipped cream) can stop by the new Big Gay Ice Cream Shop on East 7th Street.

Bistro Truck
A step up from your standard gyro stand, Bistro Truck serves high-quality Moroccan-Mediterranean food, like lamb over couscous, grass fed beef bistro burgers, and more. White linen napkins not included. Check their weekly schedule for locations.

Calexico
With carts in SoHo and Flatiron, restaurants in Greenpoint and Red Hook, and appearances on Food Truck Revolution and the Cooking Channel under their belts, the brothers behind Calexico are taking over New York with fresh tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.

Halal Guys at 53rd and 6th
Their website proclaims, “We are different.” Maybe that’s why hundreds of people line up at the corner of 53rd and 6th Avenue each day for the Halal Guys’ chicken, gyro, and mixed platters and sandwiches, while other midtown gyro vendors stay empty.

King of Falafel
The King of Falafel’s falafel, shawarma, and chicken platters are more than worth the trip into the Astoria, where he holds court at the corner of 30th Street and Broadway.

Korilla BBQ
Korean tacos? Why not? The guys behind Korilla BBQ whip up fusion foods like bulgogi burritos and house-made tofu chosun bowls at locations around Manhattan. Check their Truck Finder to track them down.

Jamaican Dutchy
Try a taste of Jamaica (jah) at the Jamaican Dutchy truck, which serves full sized and mini meals of specialties like jerk chicken and curry goat. Follow them on Twitter to see where they’re parked.

N.Y. Dosas
The best vegetarian dosas in town can be found at Thiru Kumar’s food cart, which is usually parked on Washington Square Park, at West 4th Street and Sullivan. The accompanying chutney is unreal.

Red Hook Lobster Truck
Red Hook Lobster Pound’s famous lobster rolls are now available on the road! Rolls are available Maine-style, with mayo, or Connecticut-style, with butter. Both are excellent. Stalk them on Twitter.

Solber Pupusas
Last year’s Vendy Award winner serves authentic El Salvadoran pupusas, grilled corn masa patties stuffed with cheese and delicious fillings. You can find them at the Red Hook Ball Fields, or at the Fort Greene Brooklyn Flea Market.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Nothing spells summer in New York like creamy red currant and Earl Grey artisanal ice cream from Van Leeuwen. Though the business has expanded to storefronts in Greenpoint, Boerum Hill, and the East Village, they still operate trucks in SoHo and Madison Square Park.

Wafels & Dinges
Traditional Belgian wafels, dinges, and speculoos can be found at the Wafels & Dinges truck, which makes the rounds around Manhattan and Brooklyn year-round. Save some room for the Belgian hot cocoa too.

[Flickr image via Bob the Astorian]

Asian-inspired night market comes to Brooklyn, New York

brooklyn night bazaar in brooklyn, new yorkOn Sunday, October 9, 2011, from 5PM to midnight, the Brooklyn Night Bazaar will be held at Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, New York. The event, which is inspired by the night markets across Asia, will feature more than 65 independent vendors, food, music, art, and a beer and wine garden, all outdoors. While the event is free, there will be a ticket charge of $12-$15 to enter the performance area. Tickets can be purchased here.

Some things to expect:

Dekalb Market is located at 138 Willoughby St., at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue Extension and Willoughby in Brooklyn, New York.