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Eating in the Streetsby Julie Goldstein, Bull and Buddha

A world of scents wafts through city streets and dozens of people gather around silver stationary vehicles eager to taste what these trucks have to offer. Each truck is home to something equally mysterious, nourishing, and delicious—street food—often from the cook’s country of origin.

Almost every country has its own street food, the cuisine that its people eat every day (and it’s often the best way to learn about an individual country). Venezuela is known for crunchy corn arepas filled with meat or cheese; Israel has crispy falafel balls tucked inside pita bread; Greece is famous for savory lamb gyros. Even cities have their own particular street foods—often served at all hours of the day. The vendors of the Muslim Quarter in Xian, China, dish up thin pancakes stuffed with meat and green onions, and, of course, New York City is famous for its hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut.

The charm of street food is that the vendors take such pride in it, often making every ingredient by hand; it is a gratifying craft as well as a business. Serving food from carts has been a practice for hundreds of years. Ancient Romans sold food from wagons at sporting events; Victorians vended pickled and salted items on the roads.

The streets of Portland, Oregon are sprinkled with food truck lots where diners can simply walk up to a procession of food carts and opt to eat from a diverse selection of dishes. If one lot is unsatisfactory, a different lot of food trucks is parked a few blocks away. Not only is there a great selection to choose from, but even the indecisive eaters can be pleased since this food is a fine deal; one could very well choose pad Thai from one truck, a crepe from another, and spend less than ten dollars.

A favorite local street food is Aba’s falafel whose cart rolls up at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market on Sundays. The pita bread is homemade, the chickpeas (for the falafel) are organic, and the flavor takes you away to the Middle East. Bull and Buddha is serving our version of street food at The Backyard, an outdoor garden oasis behind the restaurant where guests can lounge al fresco and snack from a menu of Asian street food such as noodle dishes and grilled satay skewers, served in the classic take-out container. Jap chae is traditionally served at parties for special occasions as a side dish, or even main dish. Literally meaning a mixture of vegetables, jap chae is delicately flavored with sesame and soy. If you do not want to make it at home, come and try ours!

Jap Chae—Korean Glass Noodles

(serves 4-6)

½ lb. sweet potato noodles?(can be found at Asian markets; rice noodles are a good substitute)
2 ½ tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce?
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. cooking oil?
½ cup thinly sliced onions
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks?
2 cloves garlic, minced?
3 scallions, cut thin?
½ cup mushrooms, sliced (whichever you prefer, but shiitake adds a depth of flavor to this dish)?
½ lb. spinach, washed well and drained?
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. When the water reaches a boil, add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again and toss with 1 tsp. of the sesame oil. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the soy sauce & honey together. Pour the cooking oil in a wok or large sauté pan on high heat. When the cooking oil is hot, add the onions, peppers, and carrots, and cook until just softened, about 1 minute. Add the garlic, scallions, and mushrooms, and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the spinach, the noodles, and the sauce. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked soft. Turn off heat and toss with the sesame seeds and the remaining sesame oil.

Bull and Buddha Restaurant fuses an urban interior with exotic design elements of the East nestled in Poughkeepsie’s revitalized downtown. Served under the watchful eye of a hand-carved two-ton Buddha, the Asian-themed menu reflects the bounty and diversity of the Hudson Valley: an inspired dining experience in a chic yet casual setting.

Bull and Buddha is located at 319 Main St., Poughkeepsie,, 845.337.4848. Open Mo-Th 11:30 AM-10 PM, Fr/Sa 11:30 AM-1 AM, Sunday Brunch 11 AM-8 PM. Closed 3-5 PM daily except Su.

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