Archive for February, 2009


February 27, 2009

These little beasts are Mama’s Hot Tamales.

Mama's Hot Tamales

They’re not La Guera Tamalera tamales because I haven’t tried those yet. I’m gonna try to make it to Locali’s official launch party tonight for the free tamale samples. They also will have Let’s Be Frank grass-fed beef hot dogs, various organic wine vendors, and many others.

There’s a tamale marathon in the works. Stay tuned…


The Dig Lounge Ghetto Burger Food Marathon

February 24, 2009

Woke up quick, at about noon, just thought that I had to be in Compton soon-Eazy-E

For the second blogger mashup marathon I joined Matt (and his girlfriend) from Dig Lounge on a ghetto burger food marathon. Having already done The Good in the Hood Food Marathon I felt good returning to a very misunderstood part of LA. It begs the question, has mainstream media given South Central a bad rap, or is it as violent and poor as we’re lead to believe.

“As I leave, believe I’m stompin, but when I come back, boy, I’m comin’ straight outta Compton” -NWA

We started at the geographically southern-most stop, which in this case was Compton. Mom’s Burgers ranks very high on Yelp so I wanted to try it while I was hungry.

Moms Burgers

Unfortunately they were closed so we switched over to the most appropriately named burger stand in Compton, Marathon Burgers.marathonburgers

First thing we noticed were the bullet holes in the glass.Bullet hole

Second was the copy of Compton’s local newspaper indicating the increased murder rate likely due to the ailing economy.
Compton Newspaper

Marathon’s burger was standard issue- full of canned, frozen, mass-produced parts. The bar was set low, so we moved on to the second stop.Marathon Burger

“Just take a good look at the ni**a and you’ll capture, the fact that the bastard is simply just an actor, who mastered the bang and the slang and the mental, of ni**az in Compton, Watts, and South Central” – Eazy-E featuring Dresta

Hawkins House of Burgers in Watts was the home to the best burger of the day. The bar was set very high at this storefront/burger shack across the street from the Nickerson Gardens Project.

hawkins house of burgers

Hawkins introduced us to the ghetto burger menu- one that is replicated at every burger place in the hood. We chose the king burger with chili, cheese, bacon and egg- because what else would you choose? It came out fifteen minutes later wrapped in aluminum foil.
Hawkins Massive Burger

Don’t know if the picture does the size justice, but the key is there for scale. Unmasked it looks like this:
Hawkins Burger2
The flavors melded together in a fluid stream of triumphant beef, pork, cheese and salt.

“We goin’ to hustle out there. That’s Watts. Tough games out there. Big bucks.” Sidney Deane, White Men Can’t Jump

Next up was B&R’s Old Fashioned Burgers. This was one of the few indoor locations we visited, complete with a vintage Street Fighter arcade game and a small tv getting poor reception.

b and r's burgers

We went with the same order as Hawkins, and were again served a massive beast of a burger after a short wait. This burger’s chili lacked in goo, the binding force that propelled Hawkins’ to the top of the list. Overall it was a good, solid, messy ghetto burger.

b and r's burgers

“I ain’t from Africa. I’m from Crenshaw Mafia.” Kid from Boyz in da Hood

Fourth stop was Fresh and Meaty Burger, a tiny take-out burger stand with bullet proof glass, a short line and more burger goodness.

fresh and meaty burger

This time we lost the egg but kept the chili, cheese and bacon. Weighing in heavily, this burger was squished when it was wrapped, producing a less beautiful specimen than seen at previous stands. Flavor-wise it left a lot to be desired.fresh and meaty burger

“The sun went down when I hit Slauson on my way to the strip, now I’m just flossing.” -Dr Dre

Stop number five was another simple stand on Slauson- Fred’s Down Home Burgers. This one didn’t even have seating. freds down home burger

The burger was standard issue for the neighborhood, and easily would have been rated higher if it was eaten earlier in the marathon.freds down home burger

“So many people wanna cruise Crenshaw on Sunday, well then I’ma have to get in my car and go.” Skee-Lo

The sixth and final stop was at the flagship of the small Master Burger chain on Western just south of the 10. This was one of the liveliest burger stands that we visited. Master Burger
The wait was longer than anywhere else and the burger was probably the worst. It was too salty but it also fell victim to being the last burger of the marathon.Master Burger

Upon hearing about our journey, one of the other patrons suggested A-1 Burgers on Vernon and 8th. Maybe next time.

I have to say I never felt threatened at any point of the marathon. Everyone was very nice to us, on both sides of the counter. There’s a lot of negative hype about cheeseburgers in the hood, but there’s one image that stuck in my head the whole time:
“Man, I got these cheeseburgers. They some double cheeseburgers.” Crackhead in Menace II Society

odawg cheeseburger

“Anybody want a hamburger?” -O-Dog from Menace II Society

Steep Street Sweet Sweep

February 18, 2009

Little Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills is a high rent, high traffic street that happens to have a lot of dessert options. Catering to tourists mainly, but also Beverly Hills locals the street features the most famous of LA cupcake sue-ers, Sprinkles. In its wake are a number of other sweets purveyors including a crappy gelateria, some cafes and Fulfilled- a Japanese pastry shop I’d been wanting to try. Never letting a food 5k opportunity pass me by, I decided to make it a sweep of the steeply priced sweets on this small walkable street.

Fulfilled Pastries

First stop was Fulfilled, who specialize in Imagawa-yaki (known as Ima, pronounced ē-ma). These pancake-like pastries are filled with sweet Azuki bean and expertly handcrafted on a cast aluminum grill.

Fulfilled Pastries

The small shop serves Ima in flavor combinations like Ghirardelli chocolate/toffee/crunchy peanut butter and strawberry/cream cheese/Ghirardelli white chocolate.
Fulfilled Pastries Menu
I opted for the traditional Japanese Azuki bean and a simple combo of banana/Nutella. They also sell a large variety of Japanese beverages, from which I chose a bottle of milk tea. I decided to take all the snacks to my house and eat them together, so scroll down for the food pictures.

The next stop was Crumbs Bake Shop, Sprinkles cheaper nemesis.
Crumbs Bake Shop
Their decor is cheaper looking, as are their cupcakes. These minis were just sitting on the counter next to the cash register.
Crumbs Bake Shop minis
Last stop was the trademark marauding Sprinkles. I’m not wasting space or energy writing about them or posting pictures.

Finally home to eat everything.
Fulfilled, Crumbs, Sprinkles

The side by side cupcake comparison was just basic black and white.
Fulfilled, Crumbs, Sprinkles

The verdict was that Fulfilled were tasty, probably better eaten hot and worth the slightly high price tag. I hate to say it but Sprinkles blew Crumbs away. No contest in terms of moistness and the argument can rage on about whether their frosting is too sweet- but I like it.

The Blackburn & Sweetzer Food Marathon

February 12, 2009

For almost nine years I’ve lived in what I’d biasedly call the best part of Los Angeles. My little sliver of LA (across the street is Beverly Hills, a block north is West Hollywood) is the center of the westside. It’s literally seven miles from the Santa Monica pier and eight miles from Staples Center.
the view from my office
I’ll be the first to say that there’s much more to LA than the westside. Exxon should personally thank me for their record profits last year because I spend so much time driving around the LA basin to eat.

blackburnsweetzerMy neighborhood has some fantastic restaurants, shops, bars, hotels and eye candy, as well as a fair share of the douchebags, traffic, noise and tourists that the aforementioned attract. My neighborhood also has a smart, stylish voice in the form of Blackburn and Sweetzer.

In the first blogger combo food marathon I’ve done I met up with Tasha at La Terza. It was a rainy night and the comfort of food and wine was required. Rainy 3rd StreetI just read her post and instead of competing with her well-lit photos from her professional camera (I refuse to actually be a good blogger and buy one), I’ll just let you read her recap first. My thoughts are:

Every store on 3rd Street is either having a huge sale or going out of business.

La Terza is the best secret bar in the neighborhood. The bar area is spacious, comfortable, warm, well-stocked and ideal for a quiet work/date drink. It smoothly avoids Stone Rose’s scene, St Nicks’ dirt and El Carmen’s darkness. Also, the food is reasonably priced and they can handle large parties very easily for dinner, including their private room.La Terza Quail

Tasca is way more popular than I thought it was. For a rainy night it was packed. The food left a lot to be desired but the wine was good and the space is nice. My question is, in this recession where are all the twenty-somethings getting money to afford so many $10 glasses of wine?

The Little Door continues to be exactly what it always has been- one of the most romantic restaurants settings in LA, with a worldly (sometimes read: euro) clientele.The Little Door

This is the first of what will be many blogger combo food marathons. Stay tuned. And if you haven’t already, go bookmark Blackburn and Sweetzer.

Super Sober Sausage Bowl

February 5, 2009

It’s been a few years since the first Super Sausage Bowl so we brought it back again. This time (and for the first time in a long time) I had a sober super bowl- good thing it was an exciting game.

It was kind of a last minute event so the wonderful European Deluxe sausages were replaced with the less famous but still tasty Bristol Farms sausages. For the record, I tried to get sausages from Brats Brothers, but after only a few short months they went out of business.

Bristol Farms Sausages

I went with one of each of the eleven varieties offered which included pork bratwurst, Polish Kielbasa, hot Italian, sweet Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian, chicken apple and more.

Bristol Farms Sausages

After some time in the pan, they made their way to the table to be devoured with fresh jalapenos, a plethora of hot sauces, dijon mustard, pickles and boring old hot dog buns.

Hot Sauce, Jalapeños, Mustard and Pickles

Not exactly a Wallflour-worthy presentation but it did the trick.
The apple stood out very distinctly and blended perfectly with the chicken sausage. Some were a bit mealy and some were dry… not sure which as they all blended together in the end. Regardless the Sausage Super Bowl is a worthy past time and will certainly be repeated.