Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spain = Delicious

Oh, hello readers.

back for more DANGER?

Recently, Los Angeles Magazine had their annual food issue, and this year they've written an article about the 17 best sandwiches in LA.

And I of course, must try them all.

But have no fear! It may take all of my fortitude to survive this challenge, but I will.


This week's delicious challenge is the Spanish Turkey Sandwich from Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City.

Now, I had always seen this place, seeing as I work very close to it, but had never stopped in. On my first visit there I was very pleased with the ambiance of the place. A very rustic looking shop, lined with wine bottles and soothing music playing. They have regular wine and cheese tastings too! Once you sit down here, you feel right at home.

But, no time for dillydallying! For I have a half hour lunch break, and sandwiches to conquer!

The Spanish Turkey is served on a delicious baked ciabattina roll, which just so happens to be another favorite of mine. Perfectly smooth and golden exterior, with warm and soft insides.

Between those two delicious slices of heaven, there is a Campo de Montelban Cheese (A type of Spanish cheese made from combining cow, sheep, and goat's milk), turkey breast, chopped marcona almonds, roasted sweet red peppers, and aioli sauce.

It seriously was like someone assembled a dream team of foods to fight off the evils of hunger.

The cheese is more similar to a goat's cheese, despite the combination: a little dry, but very creamy.

The turkey breast was roughly chopped, and perfectly cooked. Full of flavor, succulent, and not the least bit dry or overdone. They also pack in a surprising amount into this sandwich, which makes this sandwich very filling.

The roasted sweet red peppers were pretty surprising. I'm a person who loves peppers of all types, and tends to use a lot in cooking, but I never have ever tasted peppers like these. Seriously, their sweet flavor is so powerful, but not so powerful that it's all you taste. The garlic aioli definitely helps in acting as a delicious balance.

The last part of the sandwich was a bit of a surprise. The chopped Marcona almonds added this very subtle nutty flavor to the mix. And as you can see by the photos, they stuff a lot in there. It was something new for this Sandwichologist, but a very welcome addition to the sandwich.

If you couldn't tell yet, dear readers, I loved this sandwich very much. LA Magazine may just be right in naming this sandwich in their top 17, but there's only one way to find out if they're right...


**** stars
Artisan Cheese Gallery
12023 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Muffu-whatta?

Welcome back, dear readers!

This week, I am tracking another treat from the deep south: The Muffuletta sandwich.

Originating from New Orleans' French Quarter. The Muffuletta was accidentally created in the early 1900s at The Central Grocery, a local hangout for Sicilian farmers who sold their produce at the market.

The sandwich consists of capicola, salami, mortadella, emmentaler, and provolone cheese topped with a tangy olive salad, and stuffed between two halves of an Italian roll, also known as muffuletta.

It's a thick sandwich. Really thick.

I had always heard of people mention this sandwich as it seems to be incredibly popular in Louisiana. Bobby Flay even delved into the history of the sandwich and professed his love for it on an episode of his show, Throwdown.

So when I was prompted with a suggestion of where to find a Muffuletta in Los Angeles, I was eager to try it...and try it, I did.

Making my way through the tight winding corridors of the Farmers' Market at The Grove in Los Angeles, I finally arrived at The Gumbo Pot.

Biting into my first Muffuletta, the first thing I noticed was the olive salad, and I really, really enjoyed it. Tangy and full of flavor the olive salad really stood out among all of the other ingredients of the sandwich.

The flavor of the numerous meats and cheeses blended together a little too well, though. Nothing really stood out, nor could I tell which meats were actually even used as no single taste was discernible from the others.

The real low point for me was the bread.

And as you may know from previous posts, this can sometimes be the break point for a sandwich.

The bread was chewy, and had very little, if any, taste.

Bland would be putting it mildly when talking about the bread.

The sandwich did receive a second wind though, when the next day I braved the trials of turning on my own oven and placed the sandwich in the fires at 350 for 10 minutes to bring this monstrous creation back to life.

The bread was much less chewy, and I would have to say the overall experience definitely was better, but still, I was left wanting more.

Another time, Muffuletta?

All in all, my first experience with the Muffuletta was a let down. But have no fear, for I will keep my eyes and ears open for another place that offers this supposedly DANGEROUS sandwich.

Until then, dear readers...

** 1/2 Stars
The Farmers Market at the Grove
6301 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles CA

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hey, Stunad!*

Ever since I started this blog, I have constantly asked for suggestions of places to try in my quest to find the ultimate sandwich.

And when I've asked for DANGER, dear readers, you have all reached out and thrown it my way.

And I applaud you.

This week I wanted to try a place that was recommended to me by numerous people: Bay Cities Italian Deli.


After hearing stories about long wait times, I was a little bit wary about my first expedition there. I headed out to Bay Cities around dinner time though and lucked out with a very short wait.

The most surprising thing about my visit to Bay Cities is that the deli itself was more than what I expected. I had gone there thinking it would be another east-coast style deli, but was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the deli was only one half of a fully stocked Italian Market. They were stocked with fresh baked goods and a wide selection of other items you would normally find at any local market.

The excellent selection of hard to find sodas in the back is always a welcome sight in a sandwich shop.

For my first expedition into DANGER, Italian Style, I saddled up to the counter where I felt compelled to order like a portly Italian man from Brooklyn.

Deciding that ordering a sandwich like Tony Soprano in this case would be more DANGEROUS than necessary, I grabbed a number and ordered the Godmother.

What a name.

I mean, with a name like that, you'd almost expect something magical.

And It delivered.

The Godmother consists of freshly baked Italian bread, genoa salami, mortadella, coppacola, ham, prosciutto, and provolone. I also got it with "The Works" which adds mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, Italian dressing, and mild or hot pepper salad.

Now, that's a sandwich.

As I always like to do when evaluating a sandwich, let's start with the bread.

The Italian style baked bread is excellent. Soft on the inside, but a nicely baked tough crust on the outside. It's a real treat to find bread as well made as this. If it were used as a side, or torn off and covered in butter, it would be equally enjoyable by itself.

The army of meat is an delicious combination of Italian cold cuts. It is high quality deli meat that easily falls apart in your mouth. Combined with the more pungent and spicy "Works", this is an all around savory sandwich with a nice spicy kick that contrasts nicely with the subtle, but delicious combination of Italian meats.

The only problem though, and it's a minor one, is when these two parts of the sandwich are combined into...well, a sandwich.

With the tough exterior of the bread, any bite made into the sandwich pushes the contents out. By the end of your dining experience, your hands are covered in about four different liquids, and about a third of the sandwich may be on the table.

Nonetheless though, this is a first rate sandwich worth the drive out to Santa Monica.

Note, all sandwiches at Bay Cities come in small or large sizes. I highly recommend you get the small. It's more than enough, unless you just so happen to starve yourself three days in advance.

Bay Cities is the type of place I would love to live around the corner from. It has a wide variety of items, and the place has real charm. But those two things are easily trumped by the excellent deli counter, and their delicious sandwiches.

Until next week, Danger Lovers...

*(Stunad - n. Italian slang for a stupid person. Aka one who does not try Bay Cities' Sandwiches.)

Bay Cities Italian Deli
1517 Lincoln Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Louisiana By Way of Los Feliz

Welcome back readers. This week I am taking you on a trip over the hill, into Los Feliz: The Hipster Capital of Los Angeles.

But no worries, there is no reason to fear, dear readers, for I will face...the DANGER.

Recently, I stopped at one of my favorite hangouts on Vermont Ave: Fred 62.

It's got a great atmosphere: dim lighting, excellent outdoor seating even cool nights, amazing soundtrack, excellent servers, and a great menu.

This time around, I decided that I would change up my order of a burger of sorts, to something new that caught my eye: The Poorest Boy sandwich.

For those not in the know, a Po' Boy is a sandwich from Louisiana in which a fried meat or seafood and served on a Louisiana style French bread. The Poorest Boy tries to spice up the sandwich by using fried chicken strips smothered with a very light, and delicious, red pepper remoulade.

Before I go any further, let us step backwards in time...

One time readers, many moons ago, I was lost in Lousiana near Shreveport. It was raining, it was cold, and I was hungry. Stumbling into a warm bar after searching for what seemed like hours, I saddled up and asked for a menu.

I figured since I was in Louisiana, I would try a local delicacy, and ordered myself a Po' Boy. It was delicious. The light and airy bread, the lightly fried white fish and shrimp. The lettuce, tomatoes and remoulade that contrasted nicely with the prominent fried flavor.

Well readers, Louisiana this is not. In general, the Poorest Boy sandwich at Fred 62 is good. But that's it.


I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't turn you away from it if you were so set on having it. Truth is, I'm sure you could find a better one around Los Angeles if you tried. The bread was a little tougher than I would have liked, and the chicken really wasn't that great. It was like the chicken was kept in the deep fryer a littler too long: too tough and not enough good taste.

The red pepper remoulade was a nice addition and gave the sandwich some missing flavor.

Despite this less-than-stellar review, don't let me deter you from Fred 62. It's got an excellent menu with a number of other great sandwiches to enjoy. And let me recommend the Mac Daddy & Cheese Balls. Deep fried balls of mac and cheese never tasted so good.

** 1/2 Stars
Fred 62
1850 N. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Into the heart of The Valley...

For those of you who are not from, or do not live in Los Angeles, there is a place called 'The Valley'. It is a place deeply feared by outsiders: those on the "other side of the hill". To some, it is a dry, dirty, scary place that is only traveled to when absolutely necessary.

I live in this place of infamy, and just for you my dear reader, I have taken a treacherous journey further into The search of DANGER.

On recommendations from a number of sources, I traveled west to Northridge.

Ah, Northridge. Home of Cal State Northridge, The US Metric Association, and Brent's Delicatessen and Restaurant.

Brent's is an excellent deli tucked away in a strip mall, that if you're not careful, you'll definitely miss the first time you go looking for it.

For my first outing here, I decided to go with an old favorite of mine: The Corned Beef Reuben

One of the best things about the restaurant experience here is the free appetizers consisting of fresh pickles and Brent's famous rye bread.

The rye bread is double baked, and is an absolute delight. Warm and fluffy in the center, and crisp and crusty on the outside, it is the perfect prelude to what awaited me next.

The Reuben itself, for those that don't know, is actually pretty simple. Rye bread, corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a bit of Russian Dressing.

As you can see, like any great deli, Brent's does not skimp on the corned beef. And let me tell you, the meat in this sandwich could not be more delicious if it tried. It is very lean, has the perfect seasoned taste (not too weak, not too pungent), and just falls apart in your mouth when you bite into it.

Even a few hours afterwards ( I was not able to tackle the entire sandwich in one sitting), the fat on the meat hadn't congealed as happens with some deli's that don't take enough time and pride in what they put into their sandwiches. So for this, I applaud the fine people at Brent's.

The swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing are all layered on proportionally and blend well with the corned beef. The double baked rye bread adds a bit of crispness to the sandwich that is much appreciated in every bite.

For the side, I opted for the seasoned curly fries ( though i sampled the potato salad which is also a good selection) and sweet cole slaw, which really surprised me in being sweet but not overbearing.

Make sure you plan ahead for this trip. The wait lines can be pretty long if you go for dinner, or during the day on weekends. I lucked out and only waited about 15 minutes, but i'm told the waits can be up to 45-60 minutes.

It's absolutely worth it though.

**** - 4 stars (oh, back to the star system?)
Brent's Delicatessen and Restaurant
19565 Parthenia Street
Northridge, CA 91324