I ate dog meat in Vietnam

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All photos by Zachary Fagenson
Dog meat, herbs, fish sauce.
No I don't know what breed it was. Yes, I know I'm disgusting. It tastes mostly like overcooked lamb. The worst part is actually the mushy gray fermented shrimp sauce that smells like a bowl of anchovies left to bake in the sun for six months.

Now that your basic questions about dog meat, thit cho (pronounced teet-choh) in Vietnamese, are out of the way we can dig a little deeper

In northern Vietnam dog meat is a common, even celebratory meal fare. It is safest, I'm told, to eat at restaurants that specialize in it. It's not uncommon for the poor to dig up a recently deceased Snoopy or pull a stray off the street and sell it to the highest bidder eager to make an extra buck.

In a country where a plate of grilled pork meatballs or chicken thighs sprinkled with rock sugar and fish sauce might cost you a dollar or two, a plate of dog meat with ribbons of fat and skin attached to each will cost you seven.

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Easy to find, not for the squeamish.
North Vietnam's taste for dog (and cat) meat stems from yearlong famine that took place there in 1944 and 45, long before work began on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and hippies burned their draft cards.

"Look around," my guide told me on a drive through rice paddies en route to Ha Long Bay. "You don't see any wild animals."

Somewhere between 400,000 and 2 million people died when Vietnam's then colonial master, France, forced its agrarian economy into one to support the war effort.

Desperate to survive the Vietnamese ate anything that moved. And today much of it can still be found on the street. In and around Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam (also called Saigon) thit cay (rat meat) is the preferred obscure protein.

Yet it was dog meat that became the most sought after.

For the first timer, it would be easiest to down for the tucked into a crispy baguette with chilies and a small field of greens, but that's too good to be true. It comes as a heaping grey pile, skin and fat attached, next to a basket of herbs, a small bowl of fish sauce with diced chilies and the aforementioned shrimp sauce.

Luck for you thit cho is always consumed with a bottle eye-crossing rice wine. Dig in.

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Critical Mass: Cycling Ice-Cream Chef to Offer Halloween Treats Tomorrow

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Sear'N Gears
Critical Mass, the monthly cycling frenzy with more than 2,000 participants, will take place tomorrow. And Aleric "AJ" Constantin, the chef who made headlines in July after police arrested him for selling ice cream without a license, will offer Halloween-inspired treats.

See also: Critical Mass Miami: Charges Dropped Against Bike-Riding Ice Cream Chef AJ Constantin

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Whole Foods Aventura Street Food Festival: Indoor Food Truck Tomorrow

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Indoors Street Food. Come on in!
Miami is known for outdoor eats. Food trucks revolutionized the Magic City's street food scene four years ago, and now they're going indoors. At Whole Foods for a day anyway.

Whole Foods Market in Aventura is celebrating Miami's street food scene by transforming their store into a street food festival tomorrow from 5 to 8 p.m.,= and you're invited.

See also: Miami's Best Pho

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PBR: Pub Bike Ride on Saturday

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courtesy of Edgar Garcia
Remember when Critical Mass started and took the Magic City by storm? Now it's a citywide event where more than 1,000 people, sometimes including Gabrielle Union and D. Wade, ride 14 miles collectively to a finish line with Miami's own first ice cream bicycle. What you didn't know is that there's another bicycle event that's been going on for quite some time and hasn't really gotten much recognition. The PBR Crawl -- Pub Bike Ride -- is celebrating its one-year anniversary this Saturday, June 29, with bar hopping on wheels, which is exactly what they do every month.

Starting at 7 p.m. bikers and drinkers will gather at The Corner for a low-paced ride -- you are drinking and cycling after all -- with nothing but positive vibes and responsible drinking. Oh and there's eating too, so be sure to bring your appetite and your tires -- full of air.

See also: -Sear'N Gears: Miami's First Ice-Cream Bicycle Sears Through Critical Mass

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Calle Ocho 2013, Dish-by-Dish (Pictures)

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For the past 35 years, loyal denizens have gathered every March to party in the street and support the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana. The popularity of the massive Carnaval Miami has afforded the Kiwanis Club the ability to help improve the lives of underserved kids. Though the attractions range from an arts village to stages featuring some of the biggest names in music, there is one thing nearly every attendee partakes in -- the food.

Short Order traveled the entire length of the massive 19-block festival, stopping to chronicle the tastiest treats we could find. Right off the bat, the highlight of our day came at "Cuzn Tim's" food truck with his unbelievable fried lobster tail (below). Doused in garlic and cooked until just the right amount of tender, the tail is to be eaten slowly so as to savor the delectable flavor. Tim's, which can be found at all the popular food truck rallies in South Florida, also featured delicious wings, fish, crabs and shrimp. Tim and crew cater special events and can be reached at 954-485-0637.

See also:
- Photos: The Food of Calle Ocho 2013
- Photos: The Fashion of Calle Ocho 2013
- The Music of Calle Ocho 2013

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Santa's Enchanted Forest: Top Ten Things to Eat and Drink

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As Miamians, this time of year can be a little tough. Thanks to our balmy weather and eternal sunshine, seasonal spirit can be hard to come by. So like good little elves, locals flock to Santa's Enchanted Forest to bask in some semblance of holiday cheer.

Dubbed the world's largest Christmas theme park, the spot has been inspiring intense emotions amongst locals for 30 years. But whether you love it or hate it - you can't deny that it's as Christmasey as our city gets.

Locals will espouse various reasons for their annual attendance -- the wild animal shows, the carnival rides, the twinkly lights, etc.

But you're a Short Order reader, so we know the real reason you shell out the admission fee, endure screaming children and hike five miles from the parking lot: the eats. While it may be greasy, overpriced and hopelessly messy - carnival food is also undeniably delicious.

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Labor Day Barbecue Tips from Miami's Top Pastor and Grillmaster

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More focus on the barbecue, less on the decor makes for a better rack.

It can sometimes be hard to find Mark Gibson -- the pastor-turned-grillmaster and owner of Ribs-2-Go catering -- among the swarm of candy colored food trucks rolling around Wynwood. It's easy, however, to smell him.

He's not on Twitter nor did he even want to be mentioned by name when, with Labor Day approaching, he offered some grilling tips for those with less (wo)man hours spent over the pit.

Gibson moved from Compton to Dania Beach in 2006 as a full time pastor. In 2009 he was transferred to Miami, but only for part-time preaching. He started selling barbecue to his Liberty City flock and later began hitching a metal cage with a built-in grill to his white Ford E Class pickup. You can usually find him around Wynwood and the Design District on weekends selling slabs of ribs, pork brisket, and smoked chicken thigh. At the moment you can find him outside Wood Tavern on Sundays during their "Backyard Boogie." It's not the prettiest of mobile food operations, but it's a no gimmicks, good eatin' kind of operation that has staying power.

Here's some barbecue wisdom:

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Taste of Brickell Coming March 26

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​We Miamians just can't get enough of these food festivals, huh? Sharpen your knives and shine your spoons because on Saturday, March 26, we've got another new one popping up: Taste of Brickell. Over 50 local restaurants and vendors will be shoveling out samples at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive (that's between The Mark and The Jade) from noon to 10 p.m., including the new Boiler House, Truluck's, Chophouse, Kosta, and Cittadeli.

Festivalgoers can also expect a live concert (starting at 1 p.m.), cooking demos, a kids' zone, art expo, and, yes, a wine garden tasting tent. Tastings begin at noon so you'll have plenty of time to digest your breakfast before the sampling onslaught.

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Redland's Bargain Town: the Farmers Market in Photos

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Our earlier post about the Redland flea market was devoted to its outdoor food court -- but the second big centerpiece of the place is its massive farmers market. No, this isn't the kind of pristine, cutesy "farmers market" that sells cupcakes and boasts signs with clever graphic design. This, instead, is for those who aren't particular about organics (though they do occasionally appear here) but are instead in search of serious bargains on produce.

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Biscayne Plaza and Triangle Food Truck Roundups in Miami Tonight

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Laine Doss
Miso Hungry will be at the Biscayne Triangle Roundup tonight.
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Food Truck fans have their choice of two roundups in Miami this evening. One location even offers cheap booze and bathrooms.

The Biscayne Triangle Truck Roundup Head over to the American Legion Post #29 at 6445 NE 7th Avenue, Miami from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and grab a craft beer while enjoying the bay breezes and some great food truck eats. Some 18 trucks were at this location last week, as well as a beer and wine tent selling good stuff for $5 a pop (easier to count change).  The American Legion remains open so you can use a real bathroom at this roundup - the availability of cheap beer makes bathrooms a real necessity.

Some of the trucks seen at the Biscayne Triangle Truck Roundup are Jefe's Original Fish Taco & Burgers, Caza Crepes, Ms. Cheezious, Miso Hungry, Red Truck, Dolci Peccaiti, Snow Caps, Grill Master, Wrapito Yum, Caballos Mobile Cigars and Slow Food Truck.

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