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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Free food, yummy cookies and more

My CaptureI’m drooling here. I am being inundated with luscious photos of desserts, recipes, emails about free food and all sorts of delicious food-related goodness. So I figured I would share. We ran this photo of cookies being made at P*DE*Q on the front page this morning. The story that accompanies it is about Valley food producers jumping into gluten-free and other specialty markets. And here’s a gallery of photos from the G-Free Foodie box club and P*DE*Q. (And by the way, a story about the upcoming Fresno Food Expo was on the business page today.)

Today’s food page was chock full of taters. My colleague’s story about potato appetizers for the Super Bowl has recipes for Dusty Buns‘ bistro fries, potato lollipops from Trelio and others. My column about the House of JuJu restaurant opening in Clovis ran next to it.

But I just don’t want to pimp my own stuff here, especially since there’s free food involved.

  • Panda Express is celebrating Chinese New Year on Friday with a free serving of Firecracker chicken breast. You need to print out this coupon or show it to them on your phone.
  • On Monday, the Yogurtland in River Park will be celebrating National Frozen Yogurt Day with free yogurt and toppings between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Customers will also get a spoon that changes colors when it gets cold.
  • After the internets got all excited about Carl’s Jr.’s strawberry pop tart ice cream sandwich, the fast-food chain is debuting its successor, the snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich. It’s a scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two snickerdoodles. For a limited time (they don’t say how long), customers can get a free snickerdoodle sandwich with the purchase of any Philly cheesesteak burger combo. It costs $1.49 on its own, but here’s a 50 cents off coupon.

Taco Truck Throwdown III: a mouth-watering recap

TTToverall So, taco fans survived another year of the Taco Truck Throwdown. And quite happily, it seemed to me as I worked my way through the mob (there were a lot of people). For those used to eating tacos at 11:30 p.m. on the side of a road somewhere, the fact they were there with thousands of others was a treat.

There were more than five reasons to love this event. Thirteen to be exact, though sadly, I only tried two them (Tacos Tepa and Las Adas Manzanillo). The fact there were hour-long lines (the two I was in moved considerably faster) should prove that the Central Valley is serious about its tacos.

Or at very least happy to have an excuse to gorge on them.

So, how did it all pan out when the voted were tallied? Who has the best tacos in the Central Valley?

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Get your garden party on at Gazebo Gardens

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Update: Looks like there won’t be any beer at this event after all. Some issues with a temporary beer license have come up, though all the food vendors will still be there and there will most likely be beer at future events.

Partying in the garden is becoming a regular Fresno thing. Gazebo Gardens Nursery is gearing up to host its third garden party this Saturday with food trucks, local beer and music in among the plants. The nursery will soon announce regular, twice-monthly dates for the garden party.

Local ice pop maker Ooh De Lolli is organizing this one and will be selling her ice pops (hello, strawberry cheesecake ice pop!) at the event. Most of the regular food trucks will be there too, including Casa de Tamales, Dusty Buns, Benaddiction, Mattie’s Mobile Wood Fired Pizza and Summertime Pies.  The event is also a fundraiser for Children’s Musical Theaterworks, with volunteers from the organization selling Tioga Sequoia beer (and yes, I’ve been assured that adults, not singing children, will be selling the beer).

Ska band Pocket Money will be playing and the gift shop will be open. Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs or a blanket. The event runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Gazebo Gardens is at 3204 N. Van Ness Blvd. You can get more details here.

Dusty Buns named one of 101 best food trucks

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Photo: Dusty Buns/The Daily Meal

The Daily Meal website has named Dusty Buns one of the country’s top 101 food trucks. The Fresno favorite landed at No. 55 on the list and is the only Valley food truck on the list. (And an extra special “yea” for beating out some trucks from L.A. and New York.)

Owners Kristin and Dustin Stewart weren’t even sure what people were talking about when the “congratulations” texts started rolling in today. But they quickly figured it out. “We are stoked,” Dustin says. “We’re just so excited to be here and our team is so pumped again.”

You can read a little about methodology of how Daily Meal editors made their picks at on the website, but here’s a sampling:

The inaugural list of The Daily Meal’s best food trucks canvassed more than 30 cities. Added to those were staff favorites, trucks praised by organizations, and national and local publications, both in print and online. Editors consulted popular review sites and critical appraisal. They analyzed trucks’ number of Twitter followers and Facebook “likes.” … That methodology applied in 2013, save some differences.

What’s up with the Dusty Buns love?

After the popularDusty Buns logo BLOB award Dusty Buns Bistro Bus blew an engine last week, I got invited to a fundraiser to help fix the bus. A bunch of people got together at the Fresno Brewing Company Monday night and raised about $1,500 selling tacos, beer and auctioning off donated items.

I mentioned it to a co-worker who said, “Huh, a fundraiser for a for-profit business? That’s unusual.”
Another local food blogger, The Cured Ham, asked where the fundraiser was for another food truck with mechanical problems.

It’s worth noting that the Dusty Buns folks didn’t plan this fundraiser. A group of their personal friends — including Fresno Brewing Company owner Ephiram Bosse and Taste Fresno blogger James Collier — did. Once they put it out there, the donations for silent auction items poured in. The Stewarts were very vocal with their thank yous on the internet.

It got me thinking, what exactly is it about Dusty Buns that inspires such love from the community? There’s no doubt these people have a following. Just look at the line at any of their events. So seriously, tell us, what is it about them? It has to be more than the food, right? Is it the trail blazing they’ve done in creating food truck events like Cart Hop? The emphasis on organic food? Or is it just that they’re a cute hippie couple with an adorable baby?

More food trucks downtown on Fridays

The new Cart Hop food truck event starts today. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., six food vendors will be selling their yummy lunches at Eaton Plaza near the water tower. (See map here.)

Participating are:

 

CartHop expands to north Fresno, Saturday nights on Fulton Mall

CartHop, the weekly downtown food truck and music event, is expanding. The north Fresno CartHop debuts today, Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Applebee’s parking lot at Friant Road and Fresno Street. Here’s a map of exactly where they are.

Food vendors include Dusty Buns serving its organic sandwiches, newcomer Benaddiction selling its breakfast and lunch food, Tako BBQ with its Korean barbecue, Summertime Pies serving individual-sized pies and empanadas, and Casa de Tamales with its traditional and fusion tamales.

They’ll be there every Tuesday from here on out. The original downtown CartHop on Fulton Mall — Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — continues. It got so many requests for a north Fresno version that its Creative Fresno organizers made it happen.

And if you can’t make it today, the CartHop folks will also be at the Fulton Mall ice rink from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Saturday night through Jan. 13. Here’s a map.

Photo courtesy of CartHop.

Mobile food feast CArthop begins today

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Today Fresno welcomes another step forward in its growing mobile food culture. CArthop, a weekly gathering of mobile food vendors, debuts at 10 a.m. on the Fulton Mall. The event is a joint effort from Dusty Buns Bistro Bus and Fresno Brewing Co.

It’s not quite Fresno’s version of Off the Grid. Instead, CArthop focuses on local, organic food. There’s also live music and art, making it seem a bit like a smaller, food-focused version of the Catacomb Party that happened in July

Today’s vendors include Dusty Buns, of course, plus Casa De Tamales, Summertime Pies and Mattie’s Mobile Wood Fired Pizza. It’ll take place on the mall, outside Fresno Brewing Co., which is at 1243 Fulton Mall, just south of CVS.

The Bee’s Bethany Clough had a nice piece about CArthop in Wednesday’s paper. You can read the whole thing, but this part will tell you more about the motivation behind the event:

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Best sandwich in the Central Valley?

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On Wednesday, the Travel Channel’s “Best Sandwich in America” wound down a few months’ worth of shows and crowned a winner. After crossing the country and narrowing it down to 10 finalists, host Adam Richman (of “Man vs. Food” fame) handed the best sandwich honor to the roast pork sandwich at DiNic’s in Philadelphia.

The other day, I caught the episode where Richman picked his West Coast winner. Not surprisingly, the three sandwiches featured on the show came from San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. The San Diego sandwich was eventually picked the best on the West Coast. It came from Phil’s BBQ and — are you ready for this, Fresnans? — was a tri-tip sandwich.

All this got me pondering: What’s the best sandwich in Fresno? There’s the tri-tip at Doghouse Grill, Le Grilled Cheese at Dusty Buns, TBA at Sunnyside Deli, any number of options at Sam’s Italian Deli or Piemonte’s or my current fave, the jalapeno pulled-pork at Keith’s BoxCar Cafe. And that’s just Fresno. What about Madera and Visalia and Kingsburg and Sanger and the rest?

So let’s open this one to your comments: What’s the best sandwich in the Central Valley? The Beehive apologizes in advance for any tummy-rumbling this may cause.

Fres-Know: Dude, where’s our car? Oh, right, it’s stolen.

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NEWS: Fresno still No. 1 city for car thefts. [The Bee]

LOOK: Chris Colfer on cover of Entertainment Weekly. [EW]

WTF MADERA: 154 cats discovered at dead man’s home. [The Bee]

YAY FRESNO: Fresno-born comic has Showtime special this weekend. [The Bee]

COOL: Hate FX + Patrick Contreras collabo makes new. [Blabbermouth]

WATCH THIS: Looking for late-night eats. [TasteFresno]

REVIEWED: Getting Irish at O’Sullivans. [Dead in 60 Years]

NICE: Oregon brewing company taps Fierce Creatures. [The Fresnan]

GOOD READ: Storyland celebrates 50 years. [Fresno Famous]

NEWS: Wesson home to become an AutoZone. [The Bee]

WELCOME TO THE INTERNET: “Critic’s voice” for Fresno. [Good, Bad, Fresno]

… AND: One critic reviews a sandwich he hasn’t eaten. Fail. [Good, Bad, Fresno]

What are the five eateries someone new to Fresno should try immediately?

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As I wrote in my Friday Bee column last week, I recently celebrated my 10-year anniversary as a Fresnan. Also, my sister just accepted a job and moved here. Both had me thinking back to being a Fresno newb and exploring the city for the first time.

In my case, I was luck to meet some cool peeps who took me to some under-the-radar jewels of the city. In my sister’s case, my wife and I are trying to introduce her to the best Fresno has to offers.

So, of course, one of the first places we took her for dinner was Dusty Buns Bistro (pictured). As we drove home that night, remarking how wonderful Dusty Buns was as always, I tried to pin down a list of five local eateries a Fresno newb needs to experience. My list — for a variety of food types and experiences — would include Dusty Buns (so good), Doghouse Grill (a staple), Keith’s Box Car Cafe (my current addiction), La Elegante (tacos to die for) and Me-N-Ed’s (it’s a Fresno icon). I’m not saying these are the five best restaurants in town, rather these are five that I’d want to share because they’re interesting, historic, trending, etc.

I figured this would also make a good blog topic. So I turn it over to you all: What are the five local eateries you’d recommend a new Fresnan taste immediately?

New Eats: Tako BBQ — another Fresno food truck!

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Many folks have been waiting for the food truck scene in Fresno to get kicked up a notch — what with the overwhelming success of Dusty Buns and all. Taste Kitchen is still in limbo, last we heard.

Well, today comes good news for Fresno food truck fans: We’ve got a Korean barbecue truck rolling around town now.

It’s called Tako BBQ and this is its second week on the street. They were just parked across from The Bee and I grabbed a spicy pork taco. It was delicious — and spicy.

Tako BBQ is run by the husband-wife duo Tony and Eun Joo Mullins. Tony is an ex-marketing guy and Eun Joo went to culinary school in Korea. She’s previously worked in town at restaurants such as Karma and Sushi Go Round.

Tony says they started the truck because Fresno didn’t have a Korean barbecue truck — and as you probably know, trucks like Kogi in L.A. are staples of the gourmet food truck scene.

He says they’re still “feeling out” their route — but that Tako is on the move Monday-Friday. For lunch on Wednesdays, for instance, you can find Tako near Community Hospital downtown. On Fridays, it’s at the Manchester Farmer’s Market. Other stops are announced on Twitter. Menu and a few more pics below.

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The Beehive Asks: What’s the best grilled cheese in the Valley?

legrilledcheese.jpgApril is National Grilled Cheese Month (there’s even an invitational), so let’s discuss where to find the best grilled cheese sandwich in the Valley. Because, really, is there any better sandwich?

I’ve actually only come across one I think has the wow factor — you know the kind of sandwich you dream about. It’s the Dusty Buns Bistro‘s “Le Grilled Cheese” — made with aged white cheddar and smoked bacon — topping my list. I’m not the only one in LOVE with this gooey sandwich, there are raves and more raves out there.

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Dusty Buns Bistro graduates from food truck to restaurant

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Good news, Fresno eaters. Dusty Buns Bistro — the oft-embattled (and more-oft-delicious) food truck — is settling into a brick-and-mortar location in the Tower District. It opens tonight.

Dusty Buns Bistro is at the corner of Echo and Weldon avenues, across from Fresno High and in the same row of shops as P*DE*Q. It’ll be open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, serving the same fresh, local and seasonal food that draws big lines to its food truck.

This doesn’t mean the bistro bus will stop truckin’. Dusty Buns is still doing the food truck thing — just for the lunch crowd. It’s keeping its usual afternoon stops on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and changing its Thursday night Wishow Row stop to a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. lunch stop.

So basically, you’ll find Dusty Buns out on the streets for lunch Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., then in the restaurant from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. those same days. The entire schedule is here.

The Bee’s Bethany Clough explains why all this is great news for Dusty Buns fans:

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Dusty Buns back on the road again

UPDATE: I was mistaken. Dusty Buns won’t be at the Midtown Marketplace on Fridays. Instead at the Manchester Market. I’ve fixed and I bow to Bethany Clough for schooling me. Proper schedule below.

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ORIGINAL POST: Dusty Buns Bistro Bus — Fresno’s beloved, but controversial gourmet food truck — is back on the road this week after a winter hiatus that saw its proprietors become parents.

Apparently, some people on Yelp think it’s too tough to keep up with Dusty Buns — oh, Yelpers, it ain’t that hard, really. So for them, and for any of you who haven’t enjoyed the Dusty Buns deliciousness yet, here’s where you can find the bistro bus on a weekly basis. Now go get you a Le Grilled Cheese.

WEDNESDAYS: The Kaiser farmer’s market, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Fresno & Alluvial)

THURSDAYS: At “It’s On Wishon” on Wishon Row, near Twee Boutique, Cafe Corazon, Tower Sports Club, etc. 6-9 p.m. (Wishon, between Fern and Floradora)

FRIDAYS: At Manchester Market, Noon-4(ish) p.m. (Shields & Blackstone)

Fres-Know: Anybody seen our car?

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WEIRD NEWS: Airborne car lands on Fresno rooftop at 1 a.m. [The Bee]

VIRAL FRESNO: Story, subsequently, has landed all over the web. [CBS News]

LISTEN TO THIS: Locals The Quiet Americans get love from Filter Mag. [Filter]

DID YOU KNOW? Local chocolatier creates for Target, Fresh & Easy. [The Bee]

VOTE: For Dusty Buns Bistro Bus in online food truck contest. [Eat St.]

YAY FRESNO: Chaffee Zoo’s 2011 attendance breaks 1989 record. [The Bee]

HAPPENING: A marathon built around Robertito’s locations? [Dead in 60 Years]

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: DSW, Carter’s opening in Fresno in July. [The Bee]

COOL PICS: No snow = ice-skating in Yosemite. [The Bee]

WATCH THIS: Side-by-side of DumbDrum’s “Dark Knight Rises” swede. [YouTube]

THIS TOO: An evening with the Fresno Swing Dance club. [Kyle Lowe]

[photo: CBS News via CBS 47]

2011: The Beehive Year in Review

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Another year in the books, another year of blogging here at The Beehive.

So, as is customary in our annual “Year in Review,” you’ll find below our most viewed and most commented posts of the year, our most popular recurring features, which contests you tried most feverishly to win and who our most frequent commenters were.

We thank you all for clicking, reading, commenting, sharing and so on. Here’s to a nice 2012 for everyone out there — even you trolls.

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2011 Rewind: Favorite local discovery?

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Will 2011 be the year that you discovered your favorite. thing. ever? Perhaps.

As you know, we started our 2011 Rewind series with talk of local events then our favorite release of the year. Now we’re onto our favorite local discovery. What new (or new to you) Fresno thing rocked your world in 2011? It could be a restaurant you love an event you don’t miss or a favorite place to visit. Or, heck, anything else.

Check out our picks and leave your own in the comments.

KATHY: I discovered Eureka!Burger and fell in food love. I especially love the Turkey Cobb Burger with its gooey mix of blue cheese, avocado, bacon and spicy mustard. Delicious. I’m looking forward to trying some other creations on the menu in 2012.

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The Bistro Bus finally hits the road

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Dusty Buns’ renovated taco truck launches today, bringing farm-fresh, seasonal dishes to Fresno. If you missed my column about it, here’s a snippet:


Called the Bistro Bus, this 1975 truck is part of Dusty Buns, a catering service owned by Dustin and Kristin Stewart. Their philosophy: comfort-food versions of California cuisine.
… Chocolate ganache covers Three Sisters figs. A grilled-cheese sandwich contains Bravo Farms cheese. Organic vegetables from growers such as K.M.K. Farms appear in various sandwiches, such as Veg Out (roasted squash and eggplant with olive tapenade and Parmesan cheese) and the Dusty (chipotle roast chicken with pasilla peppers and cilantro-lime slaw).

Check out the full menu. If you like what you see, keep track of their whereabouts on Twitter. You also can send requests to chefs@dustybuns.com.

Right now, the bus can stop only in private parking lots, the Stewarts say. Here’s part of an e-mail they sent me:


The response to your article was huge and so many people are requesting us downtown & on Fulton; unfortunately most of these places don’t have parking lots and the city won’t let us sell on any city street. We’ve approached city hall with the lists of enthusiastic requests to show them we want to be an exciting addition to Fresno…

Are you listening, city of Fresno? I’d love to see a food truck culture as vibrant as Los Angeles’. Sure, we’d run a greater risk of turf wars, but I doubt it would ever get that bad here.