Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Set to Launch!!! plus Before and After Pics

The time has finally come!  Permits in hand and a fully functioning truck, means only one thing's left.  It's time to cook and serve up some delicious Southern Style Sandwiches!!  As promised, and awaited by some, the before and after post has also arrived!!!!!

Thank you all our friends and family who helped us out with everything from graphic work, videos, taste testing, scrubbing, sanding, and even riveting.  We are beyond grateful and owe you a sandwich and some fried okra.




We are rolling out tomorrow morning!  Check the website and twitter for our location!!


Come hungry!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Well we have been sidelined by yet another repair that had to be made to the truck.  I realize it has been awhile  since our last post, but we have been tres busy sifting our way though the endless list of requirements needed to pass health inspections. *Good news!!! We are now legal in San Mateo County.

After finally fixing the truck so it would no longer electrocute its operators, San Francisco County alerted us that our 2 compartment sink needed to become a 3 compartment sink.  This would be an easy fix say if we were located in a restaurant, but we're not.. So it took some creativity a bunch of sheet metal, rivets, sawing, and voila! Our refrigerator shrank by about 10 inches and a new sink went in its place.

Brett has been hard at work with the finishing touches on the wagon.  It's looking really dialed.  Next Wednesday all the graphic work goes up and soon enough we will be fully mobile!!  Take a peek!

Below a cleaned and ready flat top griddle. Ready for action!

Sweet Tea, Lemonade, and Ice-water.  Salvage yard spigot finds!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Break and an 80 Year Celebration

The truck is still being repaired from it's tangled maze of bad wiring and electrical tape thus furthering our delay.  A new generator was finally installed and we hope to have the vehicle back in our possession by the end of the week.  The best part of this little unplanned hiatus is that it allowed us to sneak away to celebrate my Grandfather's 80th birthday in San Antonio Texas.

It was a wonderful weekend of family, friends, and a little time to further our research on cooking techniques and recipes.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this time of year is especially beautiful in the Texas Hill Country.  I'm happy to report that my childhood memories were spot-on.

The words that floated around the room when conversations grew tired were that of it being one of the prettiest years in recent memory.   My grandfather assured me that the coming days would only get better and that I was going to miss the best part.  I feel pretty fortunate to have caught even a couple of days of it, and I am happy knowing that he and my Grandma will have more beautiful spring days to enjoy.

I have to believe that one of the best parts about growing old is the catalogue of stories one acquires over the course of a lifetime.  Texans have long been known for their story telling traditions and I often believe that the best of these storytellers are in my extended family.  There never seems to be a shortage of interesting conversation, be it a lengthy discussion about the changing weather, or just a memory from a life within a life once lived.  

One  story in particular has always struck a chord with me.  In his early years one my Grandfather's first businesses was a taco joint in San Antonio called "Take a Taco".  The second night of his birthday celebration,  I was in his study looking at the old menus listening to my mother's memories of her childhood days at her father's restaurant.  She told me she could order whatever she wanted.. and then not have to pay.  Sounds pretty good to me. Well this was just one a series of ventures and another story to add to the library, and a little bit of inspiration passed along.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hush Puppies!! and Electrical Issues.

We are in a serious holding pattern with the launch of the business.  Over the years this old truck's electronics have been jerry rigged six ways from Sunday.  We first noticed the problem when we would get the holy  S* shocked out of us when we were working near the electrical compartment.

So we've been working on the Hush Puppies, making pickles, and I cut my finger pretty bad on the mandolin.  Now we are just waiting on the installation of a new generator, and pretty much a complete re-wiring of the vehicle.  Should be done in a week or so...

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Sense of Place: The Texas Hill Country.

March is here and we are testing recipes with great success.  This past week we have jumped right into the meat and potatoes of the menu. Literally. We have focused our efforts on beef brisket in the style of the Texas Hill Country. We imparted a three step cooking process that replicates the flavors of the Texas Hill Country to a "T".    Not going to share any recipes here.

The Hill Country of Texas is a region in the center part of the state stretching from Northern San Antonio all the way up to the state's capital, Austin.  Brett and I were both born here and still refer to it as home..   It is a beautiful place with weather that's always changing.  

Undoubtably Spring is one of the prettiest times of year.  The rugged limestone hills are checkered with splotches of blue from the reemergence of the sleeping state flower, the Bluebonnet.  The prickly pear cactus displays its softer side with inviting, delicate yellow flowers tempting the many winged insects of the region to polinate the fruit on which they sit.   The soft Spring days lead into the long hot and dry Summers when the air is hot with the smell of cedar and oak.  Wispy golden grasses sway in the wind and cover the low areas between the hills.  The sky is as clear as it is hot.   Cumulous clouds and thunderheads trade time in the afternoon skies, occasionally breaking out into lightning storms.

It is here in the summer months that the Cicadas hide in cool places during the day only to emerge in the evening hours, greeting the people who live there with their evening songs.  It is in the cool evenings that people come out from the shade, the earth cools, and the night comes to life.  People dance, drink cold beers, and often cook over an open fire of Live Oak and Mesquite.

It is all these elements that I remember as a child, and after 8 hours of cook time, the finished product took our senses back to a specific time and place.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Charyn Auctions

Yesterday Brett and I headed over to Charyn Auctions to dig through their large inventory of second hand restaurant supplies. Familiar Spanish phrases could be heard everywhere reminding us of the many markets we've visited in Mexico. But instead of calling out prices for vegetables and dried goods the air was filled with squabbling over pots, pans, grills, and appliances. All stocked high to the rafters in this giant Mission District warehouse.

Our shopping list was composed of a few very simple, but necessary items: Large Stock Pot, Roasting Pans, Roundo's and hopefully no surprise "must have" items. (Fortunately only one item fell into that category. A 6 foot baker's table that's a bit of a fixer project). We managed to get everything we needed and saved 50 bucks in the process.

Sifting through the remnants of restaurants past is a bipolar sort of experience. At one end of the spectrum there is a sense of exhilaration when you discover a great find, but there also looms an undeniable uneasiness as you pick over what is likely the last tangible pieces of someone's dream.

In one corner of the lofty warehouse we discovered the entire inventory of a closed coffee shop. Menu board, cups, signs, tables, chairs, all the way down to the computer system. In another corner, the remains of a restaurant / lounge that couldn't have been more than a few months old. The menus were stashed neatly away under one of the many work tables that litter the warehouse floor. All shiny and new with no dust, dirt, or any first course residue to be seen. A sobering sight for any restauranteur.

Having been to this auction house many times before, Brett and I usually know what to expect before entering. The smell of old caked grease on metal pans, the smoke from day laborers welding repairs on old appliances, the bad interior decorations of old Chinese restaurants. This old warehouse is akin to the best estate sale you have ever been to. All kinds of treasures stuffed away in deep and dark places. And just like an estate sale, you can't help but have a knot in your stomach as you make your way through the maze of pre-owned bits and peices from some stranger's past.

For me, I find the best remedy for this sense of unease is to imagine what once simmered away in these old pots and pans: the wrought iron stove tops where they sat, the hands that stirred their contents, and the journey those same hands made in effort to bring to life the ingredients of which they once contained. These images put my mind at ease and remind me that all things in life are cyclical. And that with death comes life, and that now it is our turn to have our hands stirring these same pots, adding one more chapter to their culinary legacy.

Before and after of the Baker's Table:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lonchera No Mas (No longer a taco truck)

Today was a cold and foggy day at The SSC headquarters located at San Francisco's Ocean Beach. Brett and I have been working double-time in effort to get all the finishing touches assembled and put on the truck. There are subtle hints of spring in the air marked most noticeably by the building onshore winds. The changing weather patterns signal an end to the surf season and tease the senses with the promise of warmer days to come. Soon the Outer Sunset will be the City's destination for occasional sunshine, bonfires, and barbecues.

When we started on the restoration of the service side of the vehicle, we had no idea that we'd spend the better part of 2 weeks completing it. I was tempted to name this post the "Door Dilemma" as it took us nearly three days to figure out how to raise the clearance of the service side doors by three inches. Brett and I talked today about doing a large scale "Before and After" post to showcase all of the work we've done, but thought it'd be best if we kept it just to the wood working additions. *Note: We've also put in hours of metalworking, but I don't feel that aluminum reinforcement plates and machine screws have quite the visual appeal as reborn scrap lumber.. Maybe I'm missing something having only taken wood shop classes in middle school.

Below you can see the transformation from scrap pile to our most noticeable accents. The 10 foot Redwood mantle piece and the mystery wood slats that transformed beautifully into the menu board framing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Salvage Yards to Side Rails

It has been a busy few days! We have spent the better part of the past week scrounging around salvage yards looking for the perfect pieces of reclaimed lumber, trim, and other accents to finish out the truck. It is slowly taking shape and is looking terrific.

Many a guy or girl has been known to seek out vintage odds and ends for the inherent “cool” factor that these objects possess. Brett and I have been more interested in the “save money” factor on this project. Fortunately, as any hipster can attest, these two forces often work together in great harmony. The old, dusty, and cheap, with a little creativity can be transformed into the…. Tres Cool.

Anyways, the real find of the week has been an old 10 foot long Redwood mantle piece we discovered at Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley. In the photo you can see it hiding up in the rafters in the top right hand corner of the frame. That is were it sat patiently for any number of years until Brett discovered it. I give him full credit for the incredible find. We barely got it home and after a few hours of sanding and a couple coats of stain, what once served as steady ground for photos, candles, and other knick knacks in an old Victorian, will now be affixed to the side of a 1985 Chevy Step Van. Bet they never saw that one coming.

The most exciting part about finding this old Redwood mantle piece is that it put an end to three days of disagreements, arguments, and serious side-eyes that Brett and I had been exchanging over this one detail. I find one of the most challenging elements of a partnership is agreeing on a decision that you both feel is very important. I firmly believe that this difficulty is only compounded when your business partner is your brother. I’m sure he will agree with me on this one.

Pickle Tasting Results:

Sweet Hots are Bomba! By a stroke of pure luck the first batch turned out great. The perfect balance of sweet and spice. We are thinking that they will be our signature pickle to be served on every plate.

Garlic Dills: Need a little salt.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sweet Hots & Dills.. A Day of Pickling

Yesterday we embarked on our first adventure into pickling. Exciting stuff. Actually, for any history buff the evolution of food preservation is truly an interesting subject.

Pickling has ancient roots dating back to the early Mesopotamians and has had many interesting twists and turns along its historical path. From feeding Napolean Bonaparte’s armies in 18th century France to the more recent 57 varieties of pickles and preserves from the Heinz family, pickling has come a long way. Now we’re giving it a go. Making Sweet Hot pickles with Guajillo chiles and the classic garlic and dill variety pickle. So far they look and smell pretty delish!

Once we set out on this little project I was reminded of the humid Summers along the Intracoastal waterway in South Carolina, and a neighborhood girl whose fingers were forever stained from her endless consumption of this pickled vegetable. I couldn’t help but think of her and chuckle. If she only knew the boys from down the street would one day be making her favorite snack by the gallons I think she would die.

"On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally's cellar." Thomas Jefferson

I will return in 48 hours with the tasting results from our first round of pickles.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting Legal

Back at it today.. These past two weeks of intermittent rain have been good for a couple of things.. 1) sleeping in.. 2) getting paper work done. Unfortunately didn't sleep in today.

After a Saturday night of playing dominoes and drinking Bushmills, Sunday was a total waste. The Burrito that was intended to cure my hangover.. only managed to put me over the edge. Food poisoning or really bad hangover?.. That is TBD. Scratch that.. I don't care to know which. Just glad to be functioning today.

So here I am sitting at my kitchen table sorting through the bureaucratic mess that is permitting. All in all it's not too bad. I've heard other street vendors gripe about permitting, but it is way easier than if you were to open a restaurant.

Today it is feeling about a month or so away from the official launch party. We've got the truck. Jennifer Talesfore has done some great work on the design and we should have this puppy painted and fully tricked out in the next two weeks.
We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Welcome to the Southern Sandwich Company

Wow. We have come a long way. We are so excited to be following our dream, going back to our roots by bringing to Northern California the best in Southern style sandwiches plus Okra!!.

The Southern Sandwich Co. is a concept we created that dates back to our early childhood growing up in Texas and also along the Southern Atlantic Seaboard. After closing our last restaurant, we decided that we wanted to make food that was more fun and less fussy. So we jogged our culinary memories and were reminded of the many road-trips we took in our teens and early twenties through the Southern US. Brett and I, Nathan, would make the 26 hour drive from Raleigh North Carolina all the way to San Antonio Texas to visit our large and ever growing extended family. Along the way we'd hit every burger stand, BBQ joint, or truck stop whenever hunger, or craving would strike.

After making the long journey and finally reaching the land where BBQ was beef and no longer pork, a hesitant realization would come to us. We realized that the epicurean journey through all the Southern states was equally as enjoyable as arriving at the destination.. My Grandfather's ranch in Bulverde Texas. So today, here we are bringing our childhood journey to your palate. The pulled pork sandwiches from North Carolina, the muffuletta and poor boys from New Orleans, the chopped beef brisket, and German style sausages of central Texas. Not to mention interesting sides and local fare of the deep south.

So... What's next??

JD and I are on our way to the 1st annual Tasty Awards to spread the word..

Keep an ear out and an eye peeled. Look forward to cooking for you.