Archive for September, 2007

Hour of the CHIPwreck

September 27, 2007

One of my favorite snacks tastes like dog food- at least that’s what many people say. I think they taste delicious. The snack is called Bissli.It’s made by an Israeli company called Osem and it’s their number two snack brand (not far behind Bamba, which I’m not a fan of). Bissli are unhealthy wheat snacks in tube and swirl shapes. They’re made with palm oil, corn starch and MSG. People say they taste like dog food because of their texture, which is less oily than a Frito and not as crunchy. The Smokey flavor isn’t overpowering. They also come in Falafel, Pizza, Taco, Burger, BBQ and Onion flavors (note: no cheese as it’s not a common part of middle eastern cuisine).
The brand’s mascots are these two weird-looking cartoon characters imaginatively called Grill and Barbeque. Grill has Bissli-Grill-shaped hair, is laid-back, witty and sharp-tongued. Barbeque who has curly, Bissli-Barbeque-shaped hair is depressive and apprehensive. Barbeque is always anxious and Grill is cool and easygoing. Barbeque is always worried that he’ll run out of Bissli and Grill calms him down. Oh the hilarity…


Severely Spicy Soup

September 18, 2007

We have never said it’s too hot. Over the past few years we’ve been building up our tolerance to spicy food- mainly through Thai food. Jitlada is the only restaurant that significantly steps it up each time we visit. Jazz consistently one-ups the previous bowl of spicy shrimp soup with one choke-inducing blend of peppery broth after the other.Last night we definitely had the spiciest yet. By the end it literally was like razor blades in my stomach. It’s a wonderful pain stemming from stubbornness- a no pain, no gain attitude towards eating. I think we’re at the point where we won’t ask for them to make it spicier until we’re used to this intense level.We’ve added mango sticky rice to the equation, to help quell the burn.

The 6 Freeway Marathon

September 12, 2007

2, 5, 10, 101, 134, 710. No, they’re not this week’s winning lottery numbers. They’re the numbers of the freeways on which we drove Saturday for the 6 Freeway Food Marathon. Coming from different parts of LA, we met up at Tacos Baja Ensenada on Whittier Blvd (which is Route 72 for those who are counting).
The bright green and yellow building invitingly offers the start of the marathon.
We order two tacos each: one fish and one shrimp. We grab large fresh peppers and eagerly await our number to be called. The fish, shrimp and veggies are on display to prove their freshness. Although TBE is known for their fish I would bet that their steak, chicken and pork are all terrific. The tangy slaw that tops each taco is something I could happily eat by the spoonful.
The shrimp are battered and fried as we order them.
The tacos are big compared to many of LA’s taco trucks and stands. They’re messy and well worth the drive.
We continued on the 710 to the 10 towards Alhambra.
Ten minutes later we arrived at Lee’s Sandwiches, a popular California chain specializing in Vietnamese and European sandwiches.
In a bold move I ordered an avocado smoothie. It wasn’t terrible, but definitely not something I’d order again. We split two sandwiches between the three of us- Lee’s Combination and Special Combination.
All the bahn mi come with house pickle (daikon and carrot), onion, jalapeno, cilantro, house mayonnaise, salt, pepper and soy sauce.
Lee’s combo has sliced jambon (ham), headcheese and pate. The Special has “pork roll” as well. The sandwiches were very tasty, with the non-American combinations working together beautifully. The bread was nothing special and we likened the overall experience to the Vietnamese Subway. That said, I’d invest now before it blows up (they have 29 locations with 3 opening soon). We didn’t finish the sandwiches and wrapped them up for a post-marathon snack.
We drove down Valley Blvd to a perennial food marathon stop, Wonton Time.
It always amazes us how many shrimp they can pack into their brilliant dumplings
We normally buy their sauce, which goes well on anything (pasta, burritos, salads, sandwiches), but Jitlada brought so much heat the night before we opted against it this time.
It was a warm day and when we returned to the car we were almost knocked out by the pungent odor the leftover bahn mi left in the car. We rolled down all the windows in hopes of clearing the trash-like smell left by the pickled vegetables, onions, head cheese and pate…
On to 10 to the 5 to the 2 to Eagle Rock for dessert.
We passed Eagle Rock’s Milk in hopes of later visiting Milk on Beverly Blvd and comparing the two
but we didn’t make it past Auntie Em’s Kitchen. Auntie Em’s has a good reputation for breakfast, lunch and, most importantly, cupcakes.
Big red velvet and coconut cupcakes sit aside an open faced cajun turkey sausage breakfast sandwich (served on grilled ciabatta bread with Gruyere cheese and scrambled eggs, served with a side of our housemade Harissa Sauce).
Banana rum cake next to previously mentioned cupcakes. Note the colorful plates.
The red velvet falls perfectly between Sprinkles and Vanilla Bake Shop in terms of cream cheesiness. (VBS is too cream cheesy and Sprinkles isn’t enough). I’ve yet to try Dainties to compare fairly.
The rum flavor was powerful but not overwhelming. If we weren’t at the end of the marathon I definitely would have finished it. They also have mini cupcakes but we split the large ones.
As is always the case with LA-based food marathons, freeways are a major part of the story. It’s still a great example of how diverse LA is. To go from an entirely Spanish-speaking neighborhood to an area almost completely devoid of Mexican food in ten minutes. One of the many reasons I love traffic-less LA. Good luck doing this marathon during rush hour.

Two Words: Bacon Bread

September 11, 2007

Went to the opening of Boule Atelier last night. Blah blah friendly, fun, blah blah view into the kitchen, blah blah blah. Champagne. None of that matters at all.
The only concern you should have is about their soon-to-be-famous Bacon Bread. That’s bread coated in bacon grease with small chunks of bacon on top.

First Look at the New Joan’s on Third

September 7, 2007

It’s amazing that Joan’s on Third was able to continue service in their old space during expansion construction.The service counter has doubled in size (that’s the old counter in the back of the picture), as the western wall was removed making a large U in the center of the clean, white space. Separately standing in the northwest corner is the dessert counter featuring gelato, cupcakes and Joan’s other notable sweets.
The cheese counter has expanded and continues to be helmed by Marty the Cheenius (that’s a terrible pun for ‘cheese genius’). Expounding more facts than wikipedia (and certainly more trustworthy), Marty offered slice after slice of delicious, smile-inducing cheese. I could have sat there for hours, and he even noted that a customer once pulled up a stool to get a lesson.
Breakfast items like an egg sandwich, roasted breakfast potatoes and french toast stuffed with chocolate were fantastic.
We got things that were new on the menu, which mainly were breakfast. Pancakes, oatmeal, blended mocha drink, fruit smoothies,
The grilled cheese with tomatoes was good, but not the best I’ve ever had. Definitely reminded me of my youth and would go perfectly with Joan’s tomato soup. Next time I’ll order it with bacon inside.The muffaletta was extremely fresh and light for an oil-rich, tepenade-topped sandwich.
Chocolate cupcake with maple meringue frosting.
The fresh fruit slushee was not overly sweetened like most Jamba Juice-style concoctions, and dare I say tasted hangover-conqueringly healthy.
Back to the cheese counter for my favorite, the Mongier. Note that the cheese should always be unpasteurized from Franche-Comté (which, despite the sign, is where Joan’s is from).
Lastly, the vanilla gelato in brioche was good, but probably would have worked better with chocolate gelato. The gelato itself was terrific. The lemon pudding went quickly, and is very rich. It will be one of their more popular desserts, especially if it was served with fresh vanilla wafers. Other desserts included apple turnover, fruit tart, blackberry cabernet sorbet (which was said to be phenomenal) and white cake. These are the chocolate mousse:The southwest wall is lined with deli cases holding salads, fresh dressings, dips, drinks and a variety of other quick service items. Shelves and shelves of snacks and spreads further Joan’s unique-to-LA collection of high-end deli items. The chocolate cows on the table in the center of the new wing are quintessentially Joan’s- unique, clean and made of chocolate.
Joan’s was always one of my favorite places in LA- for it to grow the way it has is like an edible gift from above. I can’t imagine how crowded it’s gonna be in a few weeks…

It’s Just the Truth

September 6, 2007

According to the world wide web “Pho” is pronounced “fuh.” Not the most reliable source but I’d guess that the hipster-filled Pho Cafe is full of mispronouncers.
Ordered take out which took a total of three minutes to be served, ingredients cleanly divided amongst two containers and a bag. Vegetable pho. It was fine. Perfect for a quick, inexpensive meal. I’m sure it’s not he best in town but probably not the worst either. That said, I’ll take Tom Yum over it any day.

Hot and Chili

September 4, 2007

On this blazing hot Labor Day I had no intention of joining the un-air-conditioned masses as they fled westbound towards the slightly cooler oceanfront climate. Instead I satisfied a year-long hunger for chili at Carney’s.
Having grown up eating in the Studio City-based train, I have a nostalgic place in my heart and little room in my arteries for Carney’s.The orange sheen is the sign of excellence in their chili. It means it’s oily and salty and perfect. I realize it’s not the best chili in LA, but, like Henry’s Tacos, it satisfies a carnal desire I often have for gluttonous indulgence.
The messy burgers and grease-drowned fries hit the spot. Our hands smelled like onions for the next twelve hours.You can keep your 100+ degree Labor Day BBQ’s- I’m perfectly happy in the train.