Le Pod: Authentic French Food from an Airstream

- January 10, 2012

"He poured the batter into the pan, expertly added the butter and sugar, then popped the crêpe into a paper cone and handed it to me, sweet and steaming"

Driving into town on Old Santa Fe Trail the other day, I noticed a shiny Airstream parked in the formerly vacant lot across from the little shopping plaza where Kaune's has long stood. I pulled into the lot and was astonished to discover a new food truck, Le Pod-Curbside Cuisine: Gourmet on the Go, serving up affordable portions of traditional French food with a New Mexican twist.

"Bonjour, ca va?" I asked the chef in the truck, who smiled and greeted me back, in French. I knew what I wanted the moment I saw it listed on the menu, a traditional French street crêpe made with butter and sugar. Turns out Chef Jean-Luc Salle knows how make these French street crêpes with a deft hand, having grown up in Bordeaux and cooked his way around the world.

He poured the batter into the pan, expertly added the butter and sugar, then popped the crêpe into a paper cone and handed it to me, sweet and steaming. I eagerly bit into it, and was instantly transported back to the streets of Paris, where I used to eat these daily when I lived there as a student at the Sorbonne for six months.

Jean-Luc and I spoke in the parking lot about Paris and Bordeaux, and about Austin, where he had a restaurant for a number of years and also taught French cooking through the Cordon Bleu.

Salle has other items on his menu, including savory crêpes like the Normandie, filled with braised pork, caramelized apples, crispy onions and cornichons; or the Parisienne, made with ham and Swiss cheese. There's also the Océanne, stuffed with smoked salmon, crispy potatoes, capers and sour cream; the Suprême, filled with chicken and mushrooms in a veloute cream sauce and the Végétarienne, made with roasted sweet potatoes, winter squash, pecans and maple syrup.

Salle's other specialty is the Frog Dog, a French style hot dog served in a warm baguette. Choose from the Regular, a beef frank with Dijon mustard; Fromage Frog Dog, an open face dog with melted cheddar cheese; and the Santa Fe Frog Dog, a cheese frog dog with mild green chile. You can also order a side of Gratin Dauphinois--cheesy, creamy scalloped potatoes.

Salle's warm baguette sandwiches, served on French style paninis, include the French Dip, a roast beef with horseradish, Brie and crispy onions with au jus; the Parisien, made with ham and Swiss cheese and Mornay sauce; and the Végétarien, made with grilled Portobello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, sautéed spinach and goat cheese. He also offers soups du jour, such as French onion, French lentil, Thai butternut squash, black bean, split pea and Garbure, a specialty from the Southwest of France made with potatoes, carrots, beans, celery and onion.

All of Le Pod's food looks amazing, so I'll have to come back to try more, especially that savory Supreme crêpe, and his other sweet crepes – made with seasonal fruit compote or nutella. You can also order your crepes as Galettes de Sarasin, a specialty of the Brittany region in northwest France that is made with gluten-free buckwheat flour. Ooh la la!

Le Pod is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 520 Old Santa Fe Trail, 501.0069.

For more info, visit www.lepodsantafe.com.