Archive for the ‘Emeryville’ Category

Primo’s Parrilla: Interview with Javier Sandes, El Asador

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on April 22, 2010

Wait, Argentine food in the Bay Area? On a truck? I was curious. I hit up Javier Sandes, aka “El Asador” for the deets on Primo’s Parrilla.

1) What is Primo’s Parrilla? How did you come to start it? What’s your background in food/cooking/eating?

Primos Parrilla is a mobile food truck specializing in slow grilled Argentine style asado. We started Primos after many years of backyard asados with close friends. I missed a part of my culture which took place every Sunday in the backyard with friends and family — an all day asado. We would start late morning with picadas of cheeses, salami’s and olives washed down by Fernet & Coke, Cinzano & soda water — all this while the fire was starting and the meat getting placed on the grill. While the meat was grilling we caught up on the week’s events and kicked around the soccer ball. Early afternoon the asado was ready and we pushed together several tables, sometimes borrowing from the neighbors, and began our feast. This would include- blood sausage, kidney, tripes, sweet breads, short ribs and chicken. We’d wash it down with red wine and beer (Quilmes!) and finish it off with fruit salad or icecream.

A few of my “close primos” and I thought it would be great to bring Argentine asado to the streets of the East Bay. The term “Primos” came after my close Primo “Hammad” called me “primo”- meaning his “best one”. We all began affectionately calling one another primos and primas.

My father taught me to grill when I was young. He taught me the traditional way to slow grill by using natural mesquite and wood — quebracho (wood), I also had to learn the art of patience, you can’t rush asado if you want the meat cooked to perfection. I got better and better at grilling with friends and family back home and started exploring family recipes and began preparing those for everyone. A few of those recipes you will find on the menu at Primos. This and my love of eating, cooking and trying new foods is where I get my experience.

2) I think a lot of Bay Area are going to be familiar with Mexican carne asada. How is Argentinian asada different? Why are you serving up mostly in Emeryville?

Argentine asado is different in that we cut and grill the meat differently. For example- we use the entire rack of ribs when grilling which takes a couple hours. We also grill chickens whole rather then cutting and grilling. We also grill our tripe, rather than making soup with it, we don’t slice our meat thin and flash cook on each side — we like our meat cut thicker. We only season the meat and poultry with salt and pepper as opposed to marinating.

We are serving up mostly in Emeryville to start as that is the first place we are permitted to operate. We hope to move into Oakland in the very near future.

3) What’s the advantage of cooking in a truck versus on a stationary grill? Isn’t it dangerous to have it on a truck? Plus, doesn’t it have to cook for a long time anyway? Do you really do all the grilling in the truck?

I’m not cooking the meat in the truck. I actually have a grill and fire pit outside of the truck (see picture). I fire up the grill about 9:30 am and have the meat ready to serve by 11:30 am.

4) What else in on the menu? What’s your favorite item?

Sweet potato mash (my gramma’s recipe) and a green salad are served on the side. We also make homemade empanadas and serve alfajoes from a local Argentine baker.

5) Schneider or Quilmes?