Grilled Cheese and Beer, a taste of paradise

DISCLAIMER: I broke some rules here. I ate meat, and I’m not sorry for it – I wanted to taste the sandwiches the way Andrew intended them be enjoyed. I understand some of you won’t like this, but I honestly don’t give a shit. It was high quality stuff, not the corn fed farmed garbage Tyson will pawn off on you, so don’t grief me and I won’t send monkey’s to fling feces on your pristine suburban house.

Now then – this post is dedicated to Andrew over at Andrew’s Cheese Shop. Salutations, sir, and many thanks for an incredibly memorable evening.

For the poor saps out there unfortunate enough to be unable to attend, you are lessened by your absence. I’m serious about this, if you live in LA, fucking get over there ASAP.

Allow me to set the stage: Its 7:30 on a Friday night. Beautiful weather outside, just enough light to see by, you approach a relatively unassuming storefront. Inside its all candles and soft light, surrounded by high quality wine, beer, salts, craft soda and best of all, under the quiet luminescent glow, wonderful cheeses.  A long table with beautiful flat ware and 2o seats confronts you –  an intimate setting, to say the least. You settle in and make idle conversation with your friends as the rest of the group files in – an interesting assortment of folks, from all apparent walks of life, each beautiful in their own way, especially those close to you.

Once all have gathered, the door is locked and the evening begins with a small speech from Andrew, preparing you for the glory about to be thrust upon you, and you dig into the salad artfully set in front of you.

Wasabi vinaigrette? Fuck yea.

Tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red bell pepper, red onion, all topped with a pleasantly spicy Wasabi vinaigrette. The purpose here, as Andrew elucidates, is to prep your taste buds for some bold flavors, and to whet your thirst for some top notch beer.

The first course arrives, more of an amuse-bouche than anything else.

Beer soaked baguette topped with 1 year old Grafton sharp cheddar

Beer: Called ‘Blanche de Chambly’, this light and cidery Belgian white is brewed by the wonderful folks over at Unibroue, who have given us La Terrible, my current favorite beer. A great start, paired with the richness of the baguette, as the sunny citrus sweet really livens up your palate.

This is dangerous. I can see myself drinking several bottles and running into walls before I even noticed I was drunk.

Sandwich: Very simple baguette topped with sharp cheddar cheese – the kicker hits once you bite into the bread proper, whereupon you realize what Andrew meant when he said ‘Beer Soaked Baguette’… simply bursts with flavor. And then, once you’ve finished the whole thing, a small tingling at the back of your throat – horseradish! I’ve never had the stuff used subtly before, very interesting.

A few minutes to settle, and on comes course two….

Very reminiscent of a Caprese salad...on bread...

Unfortunately these pictures aren’t going to do much justice…so much of the magic happens just under the cheese.

Beer: Saison Rue, brewed by ‘The Bruery‘ (a clever play on words based on the families last name). Quite similar to the last beer actually, with more of a bite on the back end. Pleasantly fruity ‘peasant beer’.

Sandwich: Hands down the best damn thing I’ve put in my mouth in years (and don’t you dare take that out of context…). A few others, including my wonderfully ascerbic neighbor, were a little underwhelmed by this one, and that’s fine…and its your opinion…but your wrong Lucy (true name omitted in the interest of safety)! I’M LOOKING AT YOU.

This shits the bee’s knees, or whatever the kids say these days…Olive bread, basil butter, prosciutto de parma, Burrata (OMFGYESSS), tomato, basil, truffle salt. Yea, you read that right, fucking truffle salt. It wasn’t simply the composition of the sandwich, which was impressive given the quality of the ingredients, but the BREAD! Perfectly soaked through with each one of the above mentioned flavors, lightly browned basil butter…..heaven. Heaven on bread.

Paired well with the beer as well.

And as I’m coming down from this euphoric height, considering whether or not I need to change my pants, in comes Course the Third.

Not a personal favorite, delightful nonetheless

Beer: Arrogant Bastard. Bitter, angry, unapologetic – you’ve had it before, and if you haven’t, or you didn’t like it, the fine folks at Stone don’t give a shit and neither do I.

Sandwich: Harvest (carrot, walnut, raisin) wheat bread, Isle of Mull and Quicke’s oak smoked cheddar cheese, dijon mustard, black forest ham, raisins. A nice sandwich, this one was probably the low point of the evening for me. A little too salty, a little too heavy – delicious, nonetheless, but a little much for me. Although, I will say this – the dijon mustard really accented the smoked cheddar beautifully.

Course Four, or how I discovered my ‘Jolly Face’ and appeal to ‘Alternative Women’.

Simple. Spectacular.

I’m not going to explain the last comment, needless to say its an inside joke relating to the conversation at hand.

Beer: Malheur 12. The 12 refers to the percentage of alcohol present, and I must say I found this hard to believe – honestly – since most high alcohol beers end up tasting like ass. For reference, try out Brew Dog’s 18% Tokyo some time; relatively popular, it tastes like sickeningly sweet ass, and I’m convinced the hipsters who drink it all despise it. No, this beer was wonderful. Smooth, nutty coffe chocolate flavor, absolutely no bitterness on the back end, which is off putting considering its color, which is remarkably similar to Arrogant Bastard.

Brandon, my roommate, didn’t like it much…but that doesn’t say anything to the quality of the beer. Homie doesn’t like pickles and has to eat a Hostess Cosmic Brownie with every damn meal, so, yeah. He also hates watermelon. WHO HATES WATERMELON SERIOUSLY.

Sandwich: This was all about the cheese – Morbier, Beaufort de Savoie, varieties of Gruyere, on multigrain wheat. It was topped with some amazing Fleur de Sel, which completely changed the taste, in an ‘OMG I CAN SEE INTO THE FUTURE’ kind of way.

At this point we’d all sort of settled into a comfortable food coma, contentedly sipping our beers and making idle conversation about traveling and the inherent dangers of Italian dentistry, when the Final Course arrived.

Gorgonzola, honey, mana from god

Beer: Meantime London Porter. Another tasty one, made with no less than 7 malts – very intense flavor, also reminiscent of chocolate.

Sandwich: Saison bread, with hazelnuts, walnuts, and raisins soaked in LAMILL coffee. Not sure why that’s all caps. The cheeses were gorgonzola, Munster Gerome, topped with honey – a nice sweeter way to end what was all around a damn spectacular night.

Good friends, new and old, tasty food and eye opening beers…I’m marking this one a downright success.

Thanks again Andrew!

Various info on the Cheese Shop:

Site

Yelp

Facebook

“Salad-eatin’ bitches”, Or how Coolio changed my life

Vegetarian? How bout ghetto-tarian? HAHAHAHAOMGIMSOFUNNY
The pictures blurry cuz I’m just so excited it arrived.

For those of you who don’t know (FOR SHAME) Coolio is not just a burnt out pothead who apparently rapped in the nineties, but also a chef!

Really, you say? How did this come to be? HOW, in the wide world that is the interwebs, did I miss this miracle?

I THOUGHT I WAS ‘HIP’, you are now thinking.

I THOUGHT I WAS COOL.

You. Were. Wrong.

I present to you, in its raw, untouched glory, COOKIN’ WITH COOLIO!!!!! (huzzah!)

Go ahead and let that clip play. Let it digest, while you understand that this, in fact, is actually happening right fucking now. I understand your initial confusion – why am I privy to this? Why o why am I watching this and why o why can I not stop?

I asked myself the same thing when the book arrived. Why did I buy it? Not sure, chapter titles seemed amusing. Why am I so excited about it? Not sure, there’s no way in hell I’m cooking any of his ‘ghetto-gourmet’ shite.

But…

My loving roommate Brandon will!

Poor bastard actually volunteered.

I’m going to let him pick the recipe (since all the ‘salads’ he offers sound as original as sin…wait does that even make sense? Whatever. you get the point.)

The ‘Book’ Itself

Remarkably enough, its well put together. Concise recipes that sound…not terrible…along with a bit of humor thrown in. The issue I had, from the start, was the simple fact it required a glossary. Not, mind you, of commonly used cooking vernacular, but rather to describe the terms he’s come up with to describe measurements.

I’m talking about ‘peench’, or ‘dyme bag’, or even ‘Shaka Zulu‘, his coined catchphrase. According to him this is a phrase for when something is ‘about to taste better than your momma’s nipples’. I am not lying, this is a direct quote. According to the internet, on the other hand, Shaka was king of the Zulu tribe, a remarkable man who revolutionized battle tactics to help advance his people.

When I think Coolio, I do not think revolutionary battle tactics. And I don’t think he does either.

Even more interesting is Coolio’s liberal abbreviation of words. I feel as though I’ve over dosed on apostrophe’s…givin’, livin’, lickin’, pimpin’, stickin’, FUCK YOU . Honestly, I understand the approach here, but we get the point without you feeling the remarkable need to have your ghost writer jot down everything exactly the way you say it. As far as content goes, we’re only talking a few pages at best of actual writing – take the time, write the whole word out, and a little piece of me won’t die every time I see an apostrophe.

I R TALENT

This is me on my knees in front of Coolio's apostrophe monster

Still, I have to give him props for making cooking more accessible through his ‘Ghetto Gourmet’. Well done sir, if only the rest of us blackguards can achieve what you have.

I’ll update this some more once my all too adventurous roomie decides on a recipe.

The book itself, should you find yourself so moved.

And Coolio’s website. Wonderful research material…

LA Vegan

Shot stolen from Yelp of the front

I’ve been eating here for a considerable amount of time, and after today’s meal, I absolutely had to share my thoughts with teh interwebs.

To begin, its a small unassuming dime a dozen vegan thai restaurant. Next to a pet shop, its easy

The famous orange chicken, image also stolen from Yelp.

to miss – but once you’ve eaten here you’ll see why its become an obsession. There are a number of dishes I’d consider worth trying, but the most famous is the orange chicken.

Pictured on the right, the batter is just phenomenal. I shit you not – first time I tried this, I freaked out thinking I’d accidentally eaten regular chicken. Typical soy chicken texture is shite – and the same is true here, except in the orange chicken. It has to be the way they fry it, but its quite deceptive.

The lunch special comes with a salad, brown rice (FUCK YEA) and these awesome little dough pockets of potato and honey.

Other recommended items include the Green Curry, their corn pancake appetizer, dumplings, and, most recently, their PHO!

You heard (or…err…read. Since I’m not actually speaking to you…) me right – PHO!

I’d all but given up hope since going vegetarian that I’d ever taste the wonder of Pho, since it is, by nature, a dish consisting of meat broth and meat chunks. I didn’t truly believe it could be made vegetarian and still be considered Pho, but they fucking did it. And goddamn well.

Admittedly its a simple dish – a spicy broth with Soy Chicken, rice noodles and onion. You get your side dish of sprouts, chile’s, thai basil and lime, and some assorted sauces, usually Hoisin and Sriracha – all told, a mythical experience. Whether your hungover or just sick, this is the magic juice to burn out what ails you.

You can see just how good it is since I couldn’t wait to take the pic til I was nearly through the meal!

The staffs nice, the locations convenient, delivery is free, the food is good.

Pay attention to the daily specials – its quite evident they care about their food here.

Info:

Website

Yelp

Cafe Bolivar

I stumbled across this place when i was idly surfing yelp – and i’ve been nothing but impressed since then. If you’ve never had arepas, this is the place to be. Hidden in the heart of Santa Monica behind a drab exterior, its a gallery/coffee shop/brazilian restaurant all rolled into one.

Image stolen ruthlessly from yelp.com

I’ve tasted their brazilian mocha, as well as both the domino and pacifico arepas (pictured below) – all were nearly perfect. The pacifico, in true California form, has thin slices of mango, avocado, and gruyere cheese, leading to a generally epic flavor profile. Friends of mine who enjoy flesh have spoken favorably of every other type of arepa on their menu – shit, even their house salad rocks.

Arepa's at Cafe Bolivar. I had mango and avocado, with gruyere...wonderful!

Just today I went and tried out the Vegan Torta – a different variety of sandwich, using only what I can qualify as french bread – and it was fantastic. Another family friend gave the Chicken Caesar sandwich w/soup dujour a shot…but with only lukewarm reviews.

I’d stick to the vegan/vegetarian options here. They don’t seem to treat their meat well, but I’d say thats a good thing!

Chicken Caesar on the left (eclipsed by the massive man paw), Vegan Torta on the right.

Take some time – when its bright and sunny, and the breeze blows just so that the faintest hint of ocean air hits you – and sit outside. Order a variety of arepas and coffee and wait, since the servers bring your food to you without expectation of compensation (though I suggest you tip, they aren’t the fastest kitchen i’ve encountered…so don’t come on a tight time schedule)

Maybe plan the rest of the day while you enjoy your slightly spicy house salad, and enjoy the eye candy as the beach babes exit their expensive Santa Monica properties, their hemp shoulder bags slung ever so casually across perfectly tanned shoulders-

take my word for it. You need the break, and Cafe Bolivar is a great place to take it.

information

Yelp

Google Maps

The Liquid Kitty

Oh my…where to start…

This is my favorite watering hole. My drink of choice is the dirty martini, and the bartender Damien makes the BEST I’ve ever had.

The atmosphere is sufficiently dark and dingy, and you get the impression everything’s…sticky…but its a classic Dive Bar for this and many other reasons. If you do stop by, try out the Evil Knievel. Its half a glass of Matador energy drink bombed with a shot of 151 and peach shnapps…that has been lit on fire!

FUCK YES. FIERY BOOZE.

Damien serving me and my friends some Evil Knievel's

I can’t count the number of nights i’ve stumbled out of here and asked Fernando the valet to call us a cab. Every time we meet new and interesting people, and thankfully its also located to a number of nice restaurants.

Simple unpretentious liquor, served with a smile and some conversation.

Wonderful.

Information:

Facebook

Site

Kabob N’Roll Truck

Kabob N Roll Mediterranean

I oversee most of the food ordering at Treyarch, where I’m an Associate Producer – and as such we see  lot of food come through. And not much of it stands up to catering portions, so of late I have pursued this new phenomenon of food trucks – and Kabob N’Roll is my current favorite. Absolutely wonderful stuff – Y.L., the head chef and proprietor, has recently acquired a new truck which enables them to service large groups quickly and efficiently.

We were feeding approximately 140 hungry video game developers – and these guys churned it out in an hour, for less than 1000 bucks!

If you are in the mood, try the veggie pita sandwich – well worth your time. The tzatziki sauce is out of this world; savory, fresh, creamy…everything you would desire in a proper tzatziki.

Chicken Breast Pita Sandwich

They even have vegan options!

Average price for a meal ranges between 5-7 bucks. Check ’em out here, or follow them on twitter here.

I’ll grab some more pics the next time we have them stop by.