Cool Runnings: An Interview with Treatbot

It’s a hot Thursday in June. You want some ice cream. But dang it, you also want to SING.

 

I’m sure we’ve all been in this predicament before, and the good news is, San Jose’s infamous Treatbot karaoke ice cream truck is the answer—bringing the songs AND the sweetness to delighted San Jose residents for 7 years.

To kick off our new summer series featuring the best of the best in San Jose ice cream, we were lucky enough to catch up with Treatbot owner Christine to get answers to some of the questions that have been chilling in our readers’ and our minds.

 

What led to the birth of the Treatbot?

We started Treatbot in 2010 hoping to have  a “side business” after I had my son. We had paid all our debt off and had quite a bit of savings and money to invest from other sources so it was either buy a house or start a food truck. So we decided to start a food truck. With the economic downturn at the time all our equipment and labor was inexpensive and it was a good time to get our foot in the door as food trucks were up and coming at the time in the Bay Area. Everyone was doing fusion food but no one was doing gourmet dessert, so we decided to go for ice cream sandwiches and then add karaoke onto the truck to give us a niche but also add our personal “flavor” to the truck, because we love karaoke. After all the love we got from social media and fans loving the concept, it was hard to stop the momentum and it became more than a side business and has become our passion and livelihood.

We need the ‘dish’: What’s your most popular flavor of ice cream?

It’s “408” hands down—our caramel ice cream, fudge ripple and crushed oreos. However Eastside Horchata comes in a close second, which is our cinnamon flavored ice cream fashioned after the Mexican rice drink. Closely after that is our Filipino flavors Macapuno (young candied coconut) and Ube (purple yam).

What’s the weirdest flavor you’ve put out there?

Bacon and Cheese, Durian, Banana, with peanut butter and bacon.

Talk a bit about the “karaoke” part of the Treatbot Karaoke Ice Cream Truck. Do you still give people the opportunity to sing? Or are you pretty stationery in San Pedro Market Square now?

At our store at the San Pedro Square Market we have karaoke every Thursday night from 7:30-10:00 pm. We are revamping our karaoke on the truck so that we have it available for the masses more often for public events. It’s a big part of our roots. Being of Filipino descent, karaoke is a huge part of family parties, so it’s a special thing. Add ice cream to that and you have good clean fun!

What’s the strangest song choice someone’s made when singing with Treatbot?

Strangest song….hmmm that’s a tough one. I can’t say, to be honest, because karaoke can be strange and wonderful all in one fell swoop whether you know the song or you don’t. It really depends on the person singing.

What’s a song you WISH people would do?

My personal preference would be some older R&B. A lot of pop gets done, and show tunes, but not enough oldies. That’s my jam and I’d love to hear more….maybe we’ll start doing themed nights so we can hear some of this stuff!

We want an invite to the first theme night if you do! Final question: How do you feel about San Jose, and what makes you passionate to operate here?

What makes us passionate to operate here is that this is our home and we want to make our home awesome to be in. We want to put it “on the map.” There is so much diversity here that breeds our creativity along with the innovation of Silicon Valley. It truly is a special place a diamond in the rough.

To get a scoop of 408, visit Treatbot in San Pedro Public Market, or learn more at https://treatbot.com/.

San Jose Celebs: Places Woz Eats

Guys — we love Steve Wozniak, amitrite? He’s integral to the tech world, he has a street in San Jose named after him, his dancing skills are unparalleled, and most importantly, he’s a lover of some of our favorite franchise eateries. Woz is known for taking to Twitter and noting the (very ordinary) culinary delights he’s enjoying around San Jose.

Want to run into Woz? Try heading to some of the favorite haunts he’s been frequenting this year:

Outback Steakhouse, Campbell — seems to be a fave of his lately! 

 

Marie Callenders, San Jose

Famous Daves, San Jose

Mandarin Gourmet, Cupertino

Jalisco, Campbell

The Old Spaghetti Factory, San Jose

Hickr’y Pit, Campbell

Bonus!

Got dogs? Have a canine playdate with Woz and his pups Ziggy and Zelda at Butcher Dog Park or Blossom Hill Park.

Interested in seeing a movie? Sit shoulder to shoulder with Woz at AMC Saratoga 14.

A bet, a beating, and a basket: Mayor Liccardo’s San Jose-themed gifts to Pittsburgh’s mayor

By: Vaughn and Jordan

As many of you know, the Sharks didn’t bring home the Stanley Cup. (I know, I know–sorry to reopen the wound).  What you might not have known is that Bill Peduto, the Mayor of Pittsburg and our very own Mayor Sam Liccardo had a friendly bet riding on the series. First, the losing mayor had to take a picture in the opposing team’s jersey and post it to social media. (It’s too painful to repost here. We’re sorry. We just can’t do it). Second, the losing mayor would send a gift basket full of treats representing his city to the winning mayor.

 

If you missed Mayor Liccardo’s basket on social media, here it is:

Mayor Basket

Looks like a great assortment, but what IS all of that in there? And more importantly, WHY is it in there? And most importantly of all, what’s missing that should have been included?

 

Let’s take a closer look at the contents:

 

Schurra’s Fine Confections

Schurra’s has been in business on the Alameda for over 100 years providing fine confectionary treats to young and old alike.  A strong choice from the Mayor regardless of if he went with chocolates, brittle, or the delightful Beethoven Bon Bon’s (and why not, as readers know San Jose is home to the Beethoven Center).  See’s Candies might be the first shop people think of concerning Bay Area candies but do yourself a favor, skip the chaos and go to Schurra’s instead.

 

La Vic’s Orange Sauce

La Vic’s has become so synonymous with their oddly addicting and widely adored orange sauce that they proudly proclaim themselves as, “the home of the orange sauce” and after Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto polishes off the bottle of J. Lohr and the sixer of Gordon Biersch he too will undoubtedly fall in love with the delightful concoction.  While Liccardo can share the La Vic’s orange sauce he’ll never be able to tell about its ingredients.  La Vic’s, who claim that the sauce originated in their first restaurant near the SJSU campus, continues to keep the recipe secret to this day.  

 

Greenlee’s Bakery Best Cinnamon Bread

Liccardo continued his stroll a bit further down the Alameda to visit Greenlee’s Bakery and pick up a loaf of their nationally renowned cinnamon bread.  Greenlee’s has been baking in San Jose for over 90 years and thanks to QVC, Amazon, and Costco the delightfully tempting and aromatic bread has become available beyond the South Bay.  It’s unclear how Greenlee’s cinnamon bread earned the honor of being the best but take one bite and I’m sure you’ll agree.  

 

Gordon Biersch beer

Arguably, the most popular brewery in San Jose is the beloved Gordon Biersch brewery and bottling facility, opened in 1997 and designed by Dan Gordon himself. It’s state-of-the-art, uses San Jose water so you get a taste of San Jose in every sip, and offers fact-filled tours of the brewery throughout the week. Not to mention a few other secrets we’ve uncovered as well. A perfect addition to the basket; we can see Mayor Peduto pairing it with one of those Pittsburgh pierogis now…

 

Fruit cocktail

Yes, ladies and gentlemen: the familiar go-to serving of canned fruit from our childhoods has its origins here in fine city of San Jose. The first reference to delicious, syrupy pear, peach, cherry, and…whatever other chunks are in there being referred to as “fruit cocktail” was right here in San Jose in 1930. Ignore that this can is Raley’s brand; the original San Jose fruit cocktail was produced by Herbert Gray of San Jose’s Barron-Gray Packing Company. (Though the jury is out on this. For a rundown of the great “Fruit Cocktail Mystery” check out the online History San Jose exhibit).

J. Lohr wine

First of all, if you’re not having a sip of J. Lohr wine as you read this, stop right now and go pick some up. I’ll give you a few minutes…

Back? Okay good. And cheers.

 

J. Lohr Winery, established in 1974, has become a local favorite in a city not known for its fine wines. In 2013, it was named Tasting Panel Magazine’s Winery of the Year. It’s become so popular, the mayor’s basket wouldn’t have been complete without it. You can find their wine in most grocery stores around the city, as well as at the winery itself. (Which you should definitely plan to hit up for your next date night; check their events calendar to see when they have live music and special pairings/tastings).

 

Chiaramonte’s Sausage

We reached out to the Mayor’s office to find out Liccardo’s sausage of choice from Chiaramonte’s Deli & Sausages however aides declined to comment (ok, fine they didn’t even reply)*.  It doesn’t really matter if it was the Italian hot sausage or the Portuguese smoked sausage, we know regardless that Chiaramonte’s is San Jose’s go to for handmade sausages.  Contrasting the burgeoning La Vic’s, Chiaramonte’s has quietly remained a South Bay staple of sausage for over 100 years from its quaint deli just outside of Japantown.  Come for a taste of Sicily, stay for the cool collection of antiques and the beautiful vintage sign outside.  

*Mayor Liccardo responded to confirm that it was the spicy Italian sausage.  A fine choice indeed.

So what’s missing? While it poses shipping issues, Eggo waffles invented in San Jose in 1953 (and a LOVELY accompaniment to fruit cocktail, I might add) would be a critical addition to this basket. Also burnt almond cake from either Dick’s Bakery or Peters’ Bakery (don’t even get us started on THIS rivalry!) has become a food synonymous with the city. And, seeing that San Jose was the first commercial producer of broccoli, for good measure—and a pop of color—a nice heap of broccoli would top this whole basket off.

And perhaps a challenge to a rematch next year.

It’s my birthday, and I’ll have it in San Jose if I want to

TreatbotYou’ve done your birthday in SF, you don’t want to spend the money to do your birthday in Vegas, and in San Jose, well, it seems like your options are pretty dang limited.

Don’t resort to Denny’s! You can actually have a birthday that you WANT to talk about on social media right here in San Jo. Here are some of our picks for what to do:

 

HayesHayes Mansion: History and a Hefeweizen

The second best mansion in San Jose (it’s hard to beat Sarah W’s place), is Hayes Mansion. The former home of Mary Hayes Chynoweth (a spiritualist and close personal pal of–you guessed it–Sarah Winchester), Hayes Mansion is now a gem of a hotel in South San Jose. Built in 1905, this place is loaded with history, including a library full of Mary’s favorite books, framed pictures of turn of the century San Jose, and a secret speakeasy you can access via a secret elevator. (We’ll let you discover that one on your own). Palm Plaza Lounge, the bar on the property, has a gorgeous, large outdoor patio area with heat lamps, sofas, and live entertainment on weekends.

 

4thstreet4th Street Bowl: For something completely different

Do you enjoy bowling? Do you equally enjoy singing? How about dancing to generic ‘90’s beats? Then 4th Street is the place for your annual shindig. A combination bowling alley/karaoke bar/club, it is a truly memorable (and weird) experience that you have to try at least once…and possibly only once.

 

MonopolyMonopoly in the Park: For a record-setting birthday

Joey Chestnut isn’t the only record-setter of note in San Jose. We are also home to the largest Monopoly board in the world, a 930- square foot Guinness World Record holder you can rent out for your birthday. Play the game with larger-than-life dice, giant token hats, black and white stripes for unfortunate “go directly to jail” cards, and more.

 

sanpedrosquaremarketlightingSan Pedro Market: Lots of food, plenty of alcohol, and a really, really old house

With more than 20 unique vendors selling food, beverage, and trinkets in the shadow of the oldest residence in San Jose (the 219-year-old Peralta Adobe), you’ll be able to make everyone on your b-day guest list happy here. Check the calendar of events for live music, and be sure to visit our friends at Treatbot Karaoke Ice Cream for a perfect birthday dessert from a San Jose original.

 

campoCampo di Bocce: Bocce ball if you’re feeling old; Fireball if you’re still feeling young

Okay, okay, it’s TECHNICALLY Los Gatos, but we couldn’t leave this place off the list. Just when you thought bocce ball was just for bored people at parks, Campo’s got food, alcohol, and a super competitive environment: all the ingredients for a perfect birthday (assuming you’re on the winning team).

Hot Dog!

A culinary trip to east San Jose conjures up thoughts of the delicious Salsa Festival, a bowl of warm Pho on a cold day, or brightly colored helados from a push cart.  Chances are you don’t think of classic style hot dogs when you head east of 101 however at Mark’s Hot Dogs at 48 South Capitol Ave that’s exactly what you’ll find.  What may be the last San Jose restaurant to provide carhop service Mark’s has been serving up delicious dogs since 1936 out of a tiny round orange building that can only be described as Flinstonian.

The hot dog stand has moved several times in the last 75 years and most recently relocated to its current location in 2000.  Fortunately the unique hut has remained intact and proves to be impossible to miss if you happen to drive by.  While the dogs won’t send ripples through the restaurant world they are big, messy, and cheap and above all the novelty of being served meat products in your parked car out of a building that looks like a big piece of fruit makes the trip well worth it.

Togo’s – The Better Way to Travel with Hunger

No report on the culinary features of San Jose would be complete without a mention of what is perhaps San Jose’s most famous edible offspring: Togo’s Sandwiches.  Started in San Jose in 1971, the single shop has grown to a chain of 240 locations on a platform that boils down to: ‘Our sandwiches are bigger than theirs.’ (Theirs in this case, being that other sandwich shop, the one that takes as their namesake the dirtiest of transportation systems – interesting choice if you ask me)  And while it’s true that Togo’s sandwiches are larger (and served on something that far better approximates real bread) I would have to state that their offerings seem to have gotten less “larger” over the years, while still maintaining a calculable edge.  I seem to recall a time when the sandwiches were almost dauntingly large, the amount of meat on them visibly outweighing the amount of bread.  Sadly, they have been acquired by a corporate conglomerate (probably more than once) and their sandwiches today are far more normally proportioned, but still tasty and always fresh.  If you’re looking for a healthy lunch on the West Coast, Togo’s will certainly factor prominently on your ‘fast & fresh’ radar.

Sources: togos.com

The Happiest Little House

One of the beautiful things about living in a large city is the variety of food that is available, allowing you to stretch yourself beyond the national food chains (whose menus are predicated upon the lowest common taste denominator).  A little place that I especially enjoy (and a San Jose original) is a fast food teriyaki joint known as Happi House.   Started in 1976 in San Jose’s Japantown, the restaurant known for its fast, “California” style teriyaki became a chain, with a current six locations around the San Jose area.  A great place to go for quick bite, the chain serves both meals and a la carte style food, with the meals generally consisting of a central meat choice, accompanied by their Asian chicken salad, white or brown (beef) rice, and a few pieces of tempura.  The real draw here is the teriyaki sauce.  I don’t know what they put in it (they say that they don’t add any MSG) but the stuff is ADDICTIVE.  The spicy teriyaki sauce is especially delicious, and a step outside the usual.  You can even buy a bottle to take home if you like (oh, and I do!)  Visit the updated original Japantown location off Taylor and 5th for extra urban originality points!

Sources: happihouse.com

Eggo – The San Jose Treat

There are plenty of tremendous dining establishments that go unnoticed in San Jose (more to come on this later) but there is one contribution to the culinary world that stands out amongst all others; the Eggo.  Undoubtedly you’ve enjoyed them at one point in your life be it in the styling of chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, added fiber, honey oats, low fat, cinnamon sugar, antioxidized, or just plain ol’ thick and fluffy original, but you probably never realized that they were an invention of San Jose.

Eggo originated with an investment of $50 by three South Bay brothers (Tony, Frank, and Sam Dorsa) in the mid 1930’s as a dry waffle batter that required only milk and soon evolved into the frozen waffle to accommodate a growing demand for the product.   Originally named Froffle (as in frozen waffle) the Dorsa’s eventually adopted the name Eggo to reflect the unique eggy taste.  Despite a fire that burned the San Jose factory to the ground in 1946, a sale of the company to Kellogg in 1970, and a production issue that caused the Great Eggo Shortage and subsequent Eggo rationing in 2009, the tasty frozen treats continue to be churned out just off of 101 at the Kellogg factory on Eggo Way.  While you can’t take your out of town guests to tour the factory you can certainly head to your local Zanotto’s or Mi Pueblo Markets (both San Jose originals) and impress them with the vast selection of Eggo products, born out of the dream from three brothers for warm flaky goodness.  A dream that has people worldwide saying “Leggo my Eggo” to this day.