Oct 30, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food truck with not-so-ordinary fare rolls up at Airport Flea Market

BROOKSVILLE — From pot roast and Philly cheesesteaks to empanadas and tamales, chef Amy Chavez has her spoon in two worlds.

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The native Long Islander, married to a Costa Rican, serves up from her food truck, the Lunch Box, a menu loaded with hearty and/or spicy fare gleaned from relatives on both sides.

That said, the 41-year-old Chavez acknowledges her own special gift.

“If I taste it, I can make it,” she said with a theatrical shrug. “Cooking’s my thing.”

The Lunch Box, a roomy kitchen on wheels, rolled up its awning in mid September in front of the Airport Flea Market at 17375 Spring Hill Drive. From the kitchen’s custom-built stainless-steel interior, from Wednesday through Sunday Chavez has been feeding hungry market visitors and vendors, workers from Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center, truckers and repeat customers from close-by neighborhoods.

Waving toward her swing-out menu board, Chavez pointed out, “Plenty of food you don’t expect at a flea market, sit-down or walk-away.”

It lists, among a couple of dozen choices, beef stew, a roasted quarter chicken, black beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, egg salad sandwich, sausage and peppers over biscuits and gravy, and stuffed cabbages.

“Everything in this trailer is made from scratch,” she declared. “All the vegetables are fresh, like carrots with their roots on.”

She buys vegetables from the flea market’s produce vendor.

“Two specialties every weekend,” the onetime caterer added, both to answer customer requests and to keep her own creative juices flowing. Samples: dark-meat chicken stew, an omelet station, meatball sliders and subs, and split pea soup “with meat in every bite.”

As for customer favorites, “What’s going crazy here are empanadas,” Chavez said. “Mine are full, an entire meal, with ground beef, potato, Spanish seasonings, or pulled chicken, minced potato, cilantro.”

“The secret is the dough,” she said.

Chavez grinds her own white corn into maize flour, adds water, and then stuffs and fries the filled pocket.

By the way, she minimizes the food truck standard of deep frying, employing that method only for wings, french fries and empanadas.

A hamburger from her food truck is no mere hamburger.

“It’s fresh; never frozen. A half-pound,” she said.

She grills them in a flippable wire basket so their juices aren’t pressed out. Chavez stuffs them, too: a cowboy burger holding cheddar and barbecue sauce, a Greek hiding feta and tzatziki sauce, a BLT with you-know-what.

Coming soon will be tamales, steamed in banana leaves, adding a floral note to the meat-and-veggie mix in a masa crust. Hers are three days in the making.

Her husband, Eduardo Chavez, is surprised at how his wife’s business is thriving after a mere six weeks, unusual in the restaurant trade. When she wanted part-time cooking work after the family’s move from New York to Spring Hill in January, he bought her a bare-bones former catering truck and outfitted it himself with an 80-inch stove top, hood, specialty cooking units, steam table and refrigerators.

Amy purchased her big-batch cooking pots and utensils from flea market vendors, noting the couple’s aim to buy local when possible.

Their daughter, 5-year-old Veronica, helps on weekends — “chops, does meatballs, knows all the clean-food rules,” said her mother.

Chavez recently hired a waitress-runner to free her up for more cooking, tasting and concocting of not-so-ordinary food truck fare.

“I’m here to stay,” she declared.

Contact Beth Gray at graybethn@earthlink.net.

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Oct 30, 2014
Kim Rivers

Lucky Taco Food Truck Owners Have Big Plans For Newly Opened Restaurant …

Erin and Dave Emmons, owners of the popular Lucky Taco food truck, have gone from offering mobile dining to providing restaurant seating at their new business on Main Street in Manchester.

The couple purchased the former Brass Key restaurant at 729 Main St. in September and moved quickly to open the Lucky Taco Cantina and Tap Room three weeks later.

The Lucky Taco truck started traveling the streets of Hartford in 2011, winning instant popularity along the way and local awards for best food truck.

“We were popular right off the bat,” Erin Emmons said. “We had a good following immediately, and that helped us survive that first winter.”

The truck is currently on hiatus but will be up and running again once things become settled at the restaurant.

The Emmonses have lived in Manchester for three years. Erin Emmons, who is originally from Tolland, met her husband while the two were working at different restaurants in Austin, Texas. After spending some time working in New York City, the two moved to Connecticut after deciding to start a family.

Because of her local roots, Erin Emmons said Main Street in Manchester is the perfect location for their restaurant.

“I’ve been shopping on Main Street in Manchester since I was a little girl,” she said. “I used to go to Marlow’s. I bought my prom dress at East-West. I bought my wedding dress at East-West. We always wanted to open something here. It was our dream because we love Main Street.”

The Lucky Taco Cantina and Tap Room, which opened Oct. 15, initially served only breakfast and lunch but is scheduled to debut its dinner service Nov. 4. The restaurant also plans to to begin serving Saturday and Sunday brunch in November.

Erin Emmons said the restaurant’s tentative closing time will be 9 p.m. but that will be pushed to later into the evening when the restaurant receives its liquor license and opens its bar.

In the room next to the main dining area, the Emmons family has been working on a 16-foot bar that will provide customers with 20 tap handles pouring craft beer. The bar will also offer drinks using fresh juice, such as margaritas and sangria. The couple hopes to open the bar sometime in November.

Until then, the Emmonses said, the customers have their choice of Lucky Taco’s various tacos, burritos and other dishes, which will be made using fresh, homemade ingredients.

For more information or updates on the restaurant’s changing hours and the status of its bar, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page at facebook.com/LuckyTaco.

Copyright © 2014, Hartford Courant

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Oct 30, 2014
Tim Lester

Street food: Lucinda O’Sullivan at Siri, K Chido Mexico and My Meat Wagon

Street food is hot, hot, hot right now and it’s popping up in various spots all over the capital.

Lucinda O’Sullivan

Published 27/10/2014 | 02:30

Street food in Dublin

It’s easy to understand the universal appeal of street food. It’s a no-brainer – tasty, immediate, fresh and good value. You will note I omit the nasty words ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’ – that is a different sector! Street food has also become a way for people to set up in business, starting simply with a stall, a van or a modest premises. Indeed, many experienced people are doing so.


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Siri, facing Christ Church Cathedral, is such a case. It has just been opened by Jayraj Poojary and Kuldip Kumar, both of whom worked for a high-end Indian restaurant group here for many years. With them, they have Chef Rajeev Kalhotra, who has worked in the five-star Oberoi hotels in India. The premises are simple, the food is delicious and the prices are great.

You can either take your food out, or perch on a stool and chomp away from your snack box, as they do in Mumbai. There are three menus: in-house, take-away and a lunch box. The in-house menu (€7.50-€14.95) sports dishes such as prawn Molly, a South Indian dish of tiger prawns in a smooth coconut sauce; Punjabi lamb curry; aromatic biryanis or a wonderful thali selection of curries, plus specialities from their tandoor oven. The take-away menu (€3.50-€12.95) has all your favourite Indian dishes, while their lunch boxes at €5-€6 will brighten up your workplace.

I had a Udipi prawn box (€9.95) with gorgeous prawn ‘lollipops’ coated with very fine crispy potato strings, served with Goan sauce, rice and naan bread. A tandoori chicken tikka box (€8.75) was also ace, with spiced chicken breast served with paratha and mint chutney.

If you fancy Mexican food, take a wander down to K Chido, located at the back of the Four Courts, where you can’t miss the colourful wall-art on the front of a warehouse. A big pink-and-blue van is parked inside, from which they serve breakfast burritos, fajitas, tacos and quesadillas. The combinations include everything from pulled pork to chorizo, to re-fried beans and plenty of jalapenos – all around €4.50-€6. You can do take-out, or park yourself on the knocked-together, brightly painted wooden seating under the gaze of old Mexican photos. I had a delicious quesadilla filled with courgette, cheese and chillies (€4.50) – hot, hot, hot – while my friend had a toasted fajita with beef, cheese, onions, peppers and salad (€6). Now, was that really a senior counsel I saw in a corner, with a vast burrito between his chops?

Another ‘in-house van’ is My Meat Wagon in Smithfield. You don’t have to sport a beard or wear a beanie to enjoy it, but, if you do, I’d say you’d be in hipster heaven. Again, it’s a van with a boarded-up facade but, for all its laid-back, American hillbilly look, a lot of effort has gone into making this place comfortable as well as cool.

Grub-wise, it’s all about barbecued meat – cow, pig and bird with slaw, corn, fries, mash, beans and sausage. It was lunchtime; options included ‘meat in bread’ or ‘meat in a box’, with two sides and a drink – which was served in jam-jars – at €12 to sit in, or €10 to take out. Sides are a hefty €3.95. We shared ‘meat on a board’ at €14.95 with pulled pork, brisket, two chicken pieces, red slaw and fries – served in a mini shopping-trolley, natch!

Watching the ‘suits and beards’ chomp away, all I could think was that this was an update on the mammy dinner of meat and two veg – and probably more expensive than the auld lunchtime pub carvery. I guess it’s a bit like a Mickey D’s for big boys – there are even toy-animal table markers!


9A, Lord Edward Street,

Dublin 2

Tel: (01) 672-8080



K Chido

Chancery Street,

Dublin 7

Tel: (086) 353-4369



My Meat Wagon

Market Square,


Dublin 7

Tel: (01) 874-8172



Street Treats – Three to Try

Food Fiesta

69A Johnstown Grove, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

Tel: (087) 610-2414



Jaime Jambrina’s Spanish food, which includes paella, gazpacho and croquetas, is available at Dun Laoghaire and Merrion Square food markets, and soon Jaime will be in permanent new premises in Blackrock. Catering, cooking workshops and an online food store


Market food, €1-€10


Bocata de chistorra – a large Basque sausage on a bread roll, €4


Soft drinks



6/7 Carey’s Lane,


Tel: (021) 427-2388



Having wowed Limerick with his great Asian street food, Eddie Ong Chok Fong has opened in Cork. Choices range from fish cakes to wok noodles, stir-fries to curries, grilled dishes to zesty salads


Mains, €9-€10


Som Tam – green papaya salad, with dried shrimp and cherry tomato, €9


From €19.50


Susi Foods

The Gallops,


Dublin 18

Tel: (087) 974-2019


Susi is the Irish for sushi but Japanese chef, Yoshio Miyachi, also has many other authentic Japanese specialities in his repertoire. Available at Dun Laoghaire, Merrion Square, Stillorgan and Sandyford markets. Bento boxes for lunch and private catering


Market food, €2-€7


Yakisoba noodles with chicken


Soft drinks



Sunday Independent

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Oct 30, 2014
Kim Rivers

Portfolio manager chooses Pimco over croque-monsieur food truck

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jeremie Banet, who left Pimco to operate a food truck selling croque-monsieur sandwiches in Los Angeles, is returning to Pacific Investment Management Co next week as an executive vice president and portfolio manager.

Pimco, which oversees $1.87 trillion in assets under management as of Sept. 30, said in a statement on Wednesday that Banet will return to the firm on Nov. 3 under the real return strategies group, which includes Treasury Inflation Protected Securities. He will report to Mihir Worah, managing director and chief investment officer for Real Return and Asset Allocation.

Banet and his wife own a food truck operation but his wife will now manage the business on a daily basis, a person familiar with the matter said.

Banet’s move comes a month after Bill Gross’ shocking departure from the firm he helped launch more than four decades ago and built into a $2 trillion investment powerhouse.

Banet left Pimco in June at a time when Pimco and Gross were still dealing with the fallout from the departure of Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian as well as cash outflows and mediocre performance from the flagship Pimco Total Return Fund.

Banet had previously worked for Pimco as a portfolio manager for TIPS and real return strategies from 2011 until 2014.

Daniel Ivascyn, managing director and Pimco’s group chief investment officer, said in a news release: “Jeremie’s return adds strength to Pimco’s deep expertise in real return strategies, as we help clients navigate lower policy rates in The New Neutral which can leave their investments vulnerable to the corrosive long-term effects of inflation.”

Pimco also said on Wednesday that the Newport Beach, California-firm has named Nobel laureate economist Michael Spence as a consultant on macroeconomic and global policy issues.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Oct 30, 2014
Tim Lester

‘Food Truck Finale’ at Huntsville’s Straight to Ale promises shorter lines … – Press-Register

(Courtesy Downtown Huntsville Inc.)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - If you were turned off by the long lines at Huntsville’s wildly popular monthly food truck gatherings, Chad Emerson has a deal for you.

Emerson, CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc., on Wednesday announced a ticketed food truck event next month at Straight to Ale Brewery that will be limited to 250 people.

The Nov. 13 “Food Truck Finale” will serve as both the year’s final mass gathering of mobile vendors and a fundraiser to help with the cost of putting on more food truck rallies in 2015.

“There are some charges involved such as bands and restrooms, and we wanted to find a way to recoup some of that,” Emerson told AL.com. “All of the proceeds from the Food Truck Finale will be reinvested in the 2015 street food season.”

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at foodtruckfinale.brownpapertickets.com while supplies last.

Emerson said attendees will enjoy free samples from a dozen food trucks – Badd Newz BBQ, Café on Wheels, Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza, Fire Spice, Food Fighters Bustaurant, Honeypie Bakery, I Love Bacon, Mason Dixon Bakery, Neon Lilly, Piper Leaf, Sugar Belle and Sub Zero Ice Cream Yogurt – plus live music by Flannel Umbros.

If you’re still hungry after the samples, all the trucks will be selling food. You can also buy beer from the Straight to Ale tap room, including a special Street Food Brew being made just for this event.

The unique fundraiser will generate $3,750 for Downtown Huntsville Inc. if all 250 tickets are sold.

“It will allow us to have even more live entertainment next year, more restrooms – all of those things which people say are important,” said Emerson.

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Oct 30, 2014
Terri Judson

Weekly Q&A: Life Is Beautiful organizer Rehan Choudhry is already busy …

If you attended all three days of Life Is Beautiful, chances are good you made time for a nap on Monday. Rehan Choudhry slipped three into his schedule after spending three full days wandering the streets of Downtown, watching bands, chefs and crowds in action (see Pages 42 and 50 for coverage). We tracked down the festival’s exhausted organizer Tuesday morning for a chat about this year’s success rate and next year’s plans.

Generally speaking, how do you feel about what you guys accomplished in 2014? I could not be happier about it, largely because people had such a good time. There was a guy there who said he had been at the first Woodstock and a thousand other festivals in his career—he’s part of the industry—and he said it’s the best festival he’s been to in his life, which is crazy.

In terms of your own experience, how much did you get to enjoy the festival? I got to spend a lot more time this year actually being a part of the crowd and seeing the vibe and the reactions. Last year, it felt like I spent most of my time in a production trailer.

What were a few personal highlights from the weekend? No. 1 was the Cirque du Soleil/Philharmonic Love collaboration. Knowing how much work everybody put into it, it was cool to see that come together so well and to see it so well-attended. Lionel Richie’s crowd was incredible. People were super critical about him being in the lineup, and I think he surprised the hell out of everyone—it was just one big dance party. I saw Oscar Goodman’s talk. He speaks with such conviction and principal and defiance. It’s really cool to see him in his element. And I saw the headliners each night. I loved the Arctic Monkeys’ set, and Dave Grohl running in the crowd during Foo Fighters was unbelievable.

How did the festival perform financially? There’s two ways to look at a loss. There’s a strategic loss and then there’s an unexpected loss. For us it was purely strategic, because these things take three years at a minimum to break even and start making money, and if you’re really trying to push the boundaries it can take up to four or five years.

By adding the third day, we knew we were gonna see some incremental revenue bump, because of the third-day ticket. What I would have loved to see is the third day sell well and then all three days increase incrementally. What we ended up seeing was a flat year-over-year per day, I think largely because people are still getting to know this thing. We’re still new. But I would have loved to have increased ticket sales, like 10 or 15 percent per day. But going from 30,000 to 30,000 per day is a pretty good story, given that we just added an entire third day.

Was your 90,000 reported total attendance pretty evenly distributed across the three days? Friday and Saturday were really close, like 200 tickets off from each other, and Sunday was about 500 tickets higher. I expected Friday to be light and Sunday to be big, given the feedback we got about Kanye [West]. But it turns out Kanye haters are really loud, and Kanye fans are really quiet, but they buy tickets.

Now we’ve got our format. We’re a three-day festival, and I know we can fit another 10,000-15,000, maybe more, a day, without changing the footprint much. I think next year is going to be about increasing the dailies pretty considerably. This year was, can this market handle a three-day ticket? We’re a cheaper ticket compared to other comparable festivals, but to book this type of talent it’s still an expensive ticket in a relatively young market for festivals.

The biggest indicator is the Vegoose factor—in each year they saw a decrease in daily attendance, which would have been scary. And the good news is, we weren’t there. And the even better news is, for the people who attended, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Our reporters bumped into quite a few people over the weekend who seemed to have found discounted tickets or free tickets one way or another. How tough is it to sell full-price tickets in a market like Las Vegas, where comps are such a part of the culture? What I’ve learned over the last four years of being here is that it’s a little overstated. In reality, the influencer group in this market is not a big percentage. The people who are buying tickets are folks who don’t get into clubs for free every night and aren’t getting hookups for hotels. There’s still a lot of people who are just used to getting free tickets, but it’s not as many as you’d expect. So I’m less concerned about that.

We do the same amount of comps and promotional tickets and ticket giveaways as any festival. We’re just in a smaller market, so the locals get more of that pie than I think you’d see in most cities. But 50 percent of our audience came from outside the market and 50 percent were locals, and anyone from out of the market bought a ticket and the vast majority of locals bought a ticket.

How did that split compare to last year? We were actually 60 percent out of market last year, so we increased our percentage of locals pretty significantly.

Does the fact that Sunday sold best indicate that your crowd prefers rock acts like Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters to hip-hop headliners like Kanye West and OutKast? We did a rock festival last year—we had blended programming, but at a headliner level it was really a rock event—so a natural rollover of fans from last year to this year would cause a greater spike on Sunday. And with Friday and Saturday, largely we’re speaking to new audiences. If you’re a Killers, Kings of Leon, Beck, Imagine Dragons fan, you may not necessarily be into Lionel Richie, OutKast, Kanye and The Weeknd, so we had to actively market to a new audience for those days. And it turned out to be pretty successful, because we weren’t off by very many tickets on those days.

What does the 10 percent increase in local attendees tell you? I think part of it is increased awareness in the market. Last year, people who’d bought tickets didn’t know whether The Killers were gonna play on the 3rd St. stage. Nobody really knew what we were doing. So going into the second year, you expect an increase in the local market.

I do worry a little bit that the weekend we have has one of the highest weekend occupancies of the year in the city. There are still hotel rates that were as low as $120, $130 a night, but it’s hard to get something much cheaper during that weekend. So I worry that we might have to address that at some point.

Like, you might have to move the festival dates? We’ll never shift it off October, because the weather’s so great, but even if we moved it earlier a week … I don’t know. I’ve gotta sit down with Las Vegas Events and get an idea of whether that was a factor. That’s just my gut, that when you’re on a 90-percent occupancy weekend, it may affect people’s ability to travel in. But we can still shift earlier a week or later a week and not affect the vibe of the festival.

In terms of national coverage of the festival, were you surprised outlets like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork completely ignored Life Is Beautiful, from its lineup rollout to the weekend itself? I’ll take that responsibility on myself. I wanted to strengthen our marketing overall by doing some larger deals with very specific outlets. We have gotten a lot of great press—Businessweek, Billboard, USA Today—but I think a bit of our strategy played against us in that we became really good friends with a couple of national outlets, and that kind of precluded a couple of the other ones from participating. But that’s coming from a guy that’s not a media strategist by any means.

Let’s talk festival specifics. You shifted the footprint a bit this year. How do you think that worked out? I think it had a lot more energy. Last year, while some of the additional areas—like the Fremont Street bars or Jackie Gaughan Plaza across from the El Cortez—gave us some additional space to program, they also spread the crowd a little too thin. Where this year, especially in that area around the Huntridge Stage, we had a lot of energy. It always felt like there were a lot of people there hanging out, having a good time.

The introduction of the Container Park solved a lot of issues from last year. The only space we had for culinary demonstrations [in 2013] were two tents behind the Western, which were hard for people to see and access. Putting them in the Container Park not only made them more central and accessible, it created a better vibe for culinary. Having more space to do more murals—we effectively added the Ogden from 7th to 8th—gave us interesting space to add more elements. I wish the Fit Mob and Dancetronauts stage was a little more central, because where that was it probably didn’t do them much service. I liked the Western Stage; I think I want to grass that next year like we did the Huntridge Stage. And I like the new layout for Ambassador, facing that grassed beer, food and wine garden—I saw people just sitting on the Fremont Street side of the grass, watching the shows.

You opted to break apart the Culinary Village and scatter restaurant food throughout the footprint. Did that work out the way you’d hoped? I got really good feedback on that, but I still need to spend some time with my more hardcore foodie fans who go to food and wine festivals, to see how the broken-up experience compares to other tasting events they go to. But the good news is, at no point did anyone feel like they were sacrificing the quality of the food they were eating because of their programming choices.

How would you categorize your relationship with the city and the neighboring business and residents at this point? The city could not be happier. We have a great relationship there. The bars and restaurants, for the most part, were all really happy, because they saw increased business. They ones we’re having challenges with are the churches or the bail bondswoman who has a very unique business that doesn’t get better when you have more cops in the area. But we’re gonna keep trying to adjust, keep working on it. Outside Lands has been around seven years, and there are still people in the neighborhood that aren’t happy they get taken over for three days.

Is 2015 a definite go? Absolutely. We’re already talking to headliners. We still have to get some rest and debrief and figure out what next year looks like, but we’re not letting this thing go.

Musically, I’ll always bang the drum for edgier acts and more left-of-center bookings, to augment the more mainstream names. Do you see yourself tweaking the lineup in any direction in the future? In terms of the more indie stuff and some of the cool throwbacks like Afghan Whigs or The Replacements, the answer is yes, we want to skew a little more in that direction. iHeart is successful because they do mainstream well. And EDC does EDM better than anyone. We’re gonna kinda be this cultural lifestyle indie-vibed festival, and I want to make sure we have more of that cool factor. But we’re not FYF; we’re not gonna be a hardcore indie-rock event.

Positivity is part of your festival’s motivational message. Are there certain kinds of acts—punk, metal, whatever—you would steer clear of for that reason? Having created the Life Is Beautiful brand, I can tell you that we’re not a literal representation of “life is beautiful.” I’m not trying to only book people who are boy scouts. We’re trying to book people that align with our message in some deeper capacity.

Kanye’s mother tragically passed away, and he had to react on a public stage. And he ended up pushing through it, releasing one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time and getting married and having a kid. He’s learning and he’s growing and he’s a human being, and life is not pretty but it is beautiful. And I very much stand by that booking.

Would I book a hardcore metal band that promotes violence and anger? Maybe not. Would I book Rancid? Absolutely, ’cause I freaking love ’em. Some of it’s pretty subjective—there isn’t an application we can plug in to see how people are gonna work out. But I’m probably not booking death metal any time soon.

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Oct 30, 2014
Tim Lester

Real street food – No 3: Com Tam, broken rice from Ho Chi Minh City

What’s the dish?

Com Tam, aka Broken Rice – it’s essentially broken grains of rice left over from the traditional drying and milling process. It looks very similar to normal rice, only the grains are broken into smaller pieces, hence the name.

Where does it come from?

Basically, it’s hard to sell due to its imperfections. The grains were usually ground up for rice flour or animal feed, or eaten by the farmers themselves; however, the Saigonese have made an art-form of this rice and use it as a platform for all sorts of combinations.

What does it taste like?

Broken rice itself tastes like normal rice, and has a similar texture, it is just smaller – the taste depends on how you serve it.

How is it served?

A plate of com tam comes with a plethora of ingredients placed on top, such as suon nuong (marinated grilled pork chops), bi (shredded pork skin), cha trung (a steamed pork and egg quiche), cha ca (deep fried fish patty) and trung (fried egg). It is usually garnished with some lightly fried, sliced spring onions or some zingy accompaniments typical of Vietnamese cooking: mint, spring onions and lime, for instance.

Anything extra?

On the side you can have pickled vegetables or sliced cucumber and tomato. A dipping sauce of fish sauce, lime and chilli can be served.

Why should someone try it?

Street food in Saigon is slow food served fast and com tam is no different. Even though each ingredient on the plate can take up to 2-3 hours to prepare, when the order is up, it takes no more than a minute to get to your table. It’s also very tasty and the marinade that goes on the pork chop is full of umami.

What’s the bill?

A plate can cost from 20,000 VND (about 56p) to 60,000 VND (£1.50) depending on whether you buy it from a street vendor or a cafe.

Where can you get it?

Every neighbourhood in Ho Chi Minh has a stall, easily identifiable by their ‘Com Tam’ sign. It is served morning, noon and night. If you do manage to find it outside the city, it will be called Com Tam Saigon, as it is considered a Ho Chi Minh City dish.

Can you make it at home?

Yes, if you live in Ho Chi Minh City. But actually, broken rice isn’t usually exported.

What does this dish say about Ho Chi Minh City?

As Ho Chi Minh is the economic centre of Vietnam, the Saigonese are constantly on the go and need something fast and filling to get through the day – I suppose broken rice reflects that lifestyle.

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Oct 30, 2014
Terri Judson

Scary Side Of Fintech: Detroit Startup Helps Haunted Attractions

Sometimes, fintech startups get a little spooky. Or at least the customer base does.

Take HauntPay, for instance. It’s a payments and event ticketing system for haunted attractions.

Born out of experience in the payments industry and intrigue into the world of Halloween entertainment, HauntPay officially launched in the 2014 season and already has more than 17,000 new users, 60,000 tickets sold and $1 million transacted.

Related Link: This Startup Is Eating Adobe And IBM’s Lunch

CEO Alex Linebrink has run the parent payments company, Core Merchant, for four years. He told Benzinga in an email that he comes from a family that had always put together elaborate Halloween setups on their own property and even attended haunted attraction conventions. That’s how he got the idea for HauntPay.

“Through my interest in haunted attractions, I knew that they desperately needed a low-cost and low-effort solution,” he said.”I also knew where they did their buying every year (the conventions!) so I gathered some developer buddies, and we started working on our proprietary technology in early 2013.”

How It Works

Linebrink said HauntPay allows event owners to get set up in a few minutes, collect online pre-sales and in-person sales, and even add merchandise sales. The goal was to create a system for haunted attraction owners that was “low-cost, high-tech and super simple.”

The process is brisk, given that business owners have all of the information prepared, and accounts are automatically approved. HauntPay also gives owners access to the payments much sooner than other systems.

“Unlike other providers, we don’t make event owners wait until after the event to get their funds,” Linebrink said. “All funds show up in their bank accounts in 1 to 2 business days after a transaction takes place.”

But it’s more than just the set up that’s simple. At the event, itself, attraction owners can use the mobile app to scan purchased tickets — both printed ones and those displayed on mobile devices — look up guest names to redeem tickets or even sell tickets right there with a card swiper.

“The system has been incredibly well received,” Linebrink said. “Just one year in, we’re already the de facto leaders for online and in-person ticketing for haunted attractions.”

Why The Niche System Clicks

The team at HauntPay did a little research and found that the most likely future buyer of a ticket to a haunted attraction is someone who has already bought tickets to a haunted attraction in the past.

“Our biggest value over competitors to haunted attraction owners might just be that by using HauntPay, they’ll actually see more ticket sales just based on the fact that more than 100,000 other haunted house tickets are being sold on HauntPay,” Linebrink said.

He explained that just by listing their own event on HauntPay, attraction owners are getting exposure to their target market.

“People looking for haunted attraction tickets don’t go to Eventbrite. They go to HauntPay,” he said.

Post-Haunting Season

The team behind HauntPay has already begun the transition for when Halloween is over. This past August, they launched Passage, which is essentially a non-haunted version of the event ticketing system.

Passage has done a potpourri of events so far, including beer and wine festivals, pet costume parties and even a Bone Thugs N Harmony concert. While Passage remains somewhat generic right now, Linebrink said the plan is to utilize the success they found in the haunted attraction space across other niches.

“We plan to continue building out the system so that we can have that same value through specialized landing sites for other event verticals as well,” Linebrink said.

He said their next ventures will include beer and wine festivals, renaissance fairs, living history museums and paintball.

Posted-In: Alex Linebrink Detroit electronic paymentsEntrepreneurship Startups Tech Interview General Best of Benzinga

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Oct 30, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Are the big beer festivals beaten?

Comments (0)

October already and if the incredible speed at which this year seems to be passing, it seems unbelievable that the annual Stoke Beer and Cider Festival is almost upon us yet again. Now in its 34th year there will, as always, be a vast array of real ales to sample as the ‘proper’ pint juggernaut appears to maintain its momentum. The continued interest is apparent with over 19,000 different cask ales now brewed in Britain with around 634 million pints sold annually. In the UK we now have more breweries per head of population than any other country in the world. As punters look for something a little more special each time they head to the local, pubs have to keep up with the real ale revolution and adapt their bar accordingly.  Back in February of this year, Martyn and Ginny Ford took over my local The Hop Inn, revitalising the former tired pub on the site in Albert Street in Newcastle. The couple bought the premises from Punch Taverns determined to turn it into a haven for real ale lovers and they have done just that…and some! With 8 beers on the bar (more are in the pipeline – pun very much intended) and the guarantee of the always excellent Oakham or Mallinson’s breweries represented, the stalwart Bass and a rotating board of 6 other options, a varied and vibrant collection of ales are always available. Said haven they wished to create has therefore become a permanent beer festival in itself. Which begs the question as to whether the days of the big beer festivals are numbered? The sight of halls packed by blokes with beards busily scanning the list of choices on offer before sampling a previously unknown tipple are surely in decline. The Stoke shindig and others will always receive my support as such events draw people to the area, generating income and raising awareness  of our City; however on a local basis I am able to enjoy a similar experience every day if I so choose. The beer board that greets you at The Hop always throws up a surprise, whether it is a hitherto unheard of or as yet untried brewery or a new product from one of the old familiars. Combine that with exceptionally reasonable pricing and a landlord and family that are as enthusiastic about their product as the customer and you have an award winning formula – an award that is surely imminent in this particular pub’s case.

Follow Adam on Twitter @adscomms

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