Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who you callin' jive, turkey?

Welcome Back Dear Readers!

I hope your sandwiching this week has been most excellent.

I recently noticed that I am quickly approaching one year of sandwiching and blogging (i tried to combine these words, but every possibility seemed hopelessly clunky). Despite this, I have such a long list of suggestions of places to try, not only in Los Angeles but numerous other cities as well, and I thank you all for helping me on this road to discovering sandwich greatness with your suggestions.

This week I tried a local shop in Hollywood that is beloved by its closest followers and is quickly spreading its name among LA foodies.

While searching the internet for a new sandwich to try, I stumbled upon reviews of The Oaks Gourmet, an excellent eatery in Hollywood. Not only does it have an inspired selection of food, coffee, and drinks, but it's close enough to a few fun after dinner entertainment spots such as Upright Citizen's Brigade and my favorite coffee spot, The Bourgeois Pig.

I was drawn to The Oaks Gourmet because so many people praised the Pulled Short Rib French Onion Dip sandwich. Two of my favorite sandwiches so far, Short Rib Sandwiches and French Dip, the combination of the two had to be spectacular.

But instead of trying this out, I decided to switch it up a bit. Besides last week's Chicken Cubano, I had been eating a lot of red meat sandwiches lately, and thought that maybe I should stay away from the red meat for another week.

My doctor agreed.

So after a bout of indecisiveness, I chose the Oven Roasted Turkey & Camembert Cheese sandwich. Combining freshly cut turkey, red onions, creamy camembert cheese, baby arugula, a sherried fig and shallot aioli all combined on toasted dark honey wheat bread, this truly was an upstart young sandwich looking to make a name for itself.

The turkey was delicious. Fresh and thinly sliced, this delicious deli meat was a generous portion stacked high on the sandwich.

Something that was completely unexpected with this sandwich was the sweet taste that was so prominent. With oven roasted turkey, creamy camembert and earthy arugula, i did not expect so much sweetness to be present, but it was an excellent surprise. The sherried fig and subtly sweet honey wheat bread combine to evenly match the savory turkey and camembert.

My only problem with this sandwich was the bread. The dark honey wheat definitely added to the sweetness of the sandwich, and tasted great, but the level of toasting was sub par. It was so lightly toasted, it didn't seem toasted at all, more like the bread had been a little stale on the outside. With a slightly higher toasting level, I think this problem would be easily remedied.

This sandwich is definitely worth your time though.

Until next week, dearest readers!

Do the DANGER!

Oven Roasted Turkey and Camembert
**** Stars
The Oaks Gourmet
1915 N. Bronson Ave (Corner of Bronson and Franklin)
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Caribbean By Freeway

Welcome Back, Dear Readers!

Hopefully your part of the world is expecting a lot more sun and warmth than Los Angeles is this week. Despite signs all weekend that spring was coming a bit early, this week is set to prove otherwise.

So what should I do to brighten up my days when the sun won't do it for me?

Eat delicious Caribbean style sandwiches.

Suggested by reader Mike, I headed to a little shack in Santa Monica called Cha Cha Chicken, home to the very promising Mulato Cubano sandwich.

Having talked at length about my love for Porto's Cubano sandwich numerous times, I was very intrigued to try a new style of cubano that came highly recommended.

Instead of various pork products piled high, the Mulato Cubano takes marinated shredded chicken, cheese, lettuce, pickles and mustard pressed inside a crisp baguette.

The baguette was excellent. Crisp and flaky outside and a warm inside, this pressed roll is the best pair of bookends a cuban sandwich could have.

I have to admit, that on my first bite, I was nervous about the chicken. The first mouthful wasn't very tender and lacked flavor, but as I continued, its quality increased and by the end of my first half I had devoured a large portion of incredibly tender, thoroughly cooked (although not overcooked), juicy, and deliciously marinated chicken.

The mustard, cheese, and pickles added their familiar tastes to this sandwich as they do all cuban sandwiches and are definitely a delight in this mix.

My favorite part of this sandwich was the jerk sauce (appropriately timed which was provided on the side. This allowed me to dip my sandwich or pour on as much as I wanted. Jerk sauce is a Jamaican style sauce similar to barbecue sauce, but a bit spicier. I used all of it that I could, but the sandwich is just as enjoyable without as it already comes packed with flavor.

As a side I ordered the fried plantains. While the fruit itself was not as sweet as a banana, the deep fried batter enveloping them provided a light sweet flavor that made these an enjoyable side dish.

The Mulato Cubano is indeed another excellent cuban sandwich and should be tried by anyone visiting Santa Monica. Is it better than Porto's Cubano? That's a tough call. Both are delicious and well made. Both have fresh ingredients. It's more of an issue of whether you're a chicken person or pork person.

Either way, you will not be disappointed.

Until next week....D-A-N-G-E-R and DANGER was his name-o.

Mulato Cubano
**** Stars
Cha Cha Chicken
1906 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's Delicious! It's DELICIOUS!

Welcome back again dear Readers!

Boy, do I have a surprise for you this week.

Since I've started this blog, I have been reviewing the work of others sandwichmakers, but I have yet to put my own stamp on this human institution.

So, his week I have taken on a challenge in creating my own sandwich, a custom made turkey burger at the Counter in Studio City.

The Counter has been a hugely popular burger joint since it opened a year ago. The menu offers a few pre-planned burgers but the main draw is checklist of ingredients to create your own.

Every time I go to The Counter, I take forever to order. What sauce will a pick? Which 4 add-on ingredients do i want? Cheese? Too many options.

For my creation this time, I chose the 1/3lb turkey burger on a multigrain bun with feta cheese, sweet bbq sauce, greens, jalapenos, pickles, and cranberries.


First of all, the burgers that I have eaten over the past year at The Counter have been juicy, savory, and cooked to perfection. If I get beef, the middle is just slightly pink, and this turkey is cooked fully through without losing its deliciousness.

The multigrain bun was soft and fluffy and the feta cheese had its usual pungent flavor but was an evenly matched participant in this sandwich.

With all of the strong and savory flavors I added the cranberries and sweet bbq sauce to provide some flavor contrast. The cranberries were dried, chewy and full of flavor. They were a definite standout on the sandwich. The BBQ sauce added a nice slightly sweet and tangy flavor that permeated the sandwich.

It was one of the best burgers I've had yet at The Counter, and will even name it TDS Special.

Did you just get chills too?

But in fairness to the blog, I don't think I can rate my own sandwich. I think it was pretty awesome, but it is a bit unfair for me to rate my own creation.

So why don't you all rate it for me?

One final note: This past weekend for the "Big Game", I invited a few people over for a party. Food was plentiful, but one standout was created by reader Charlene. She brought a stuffed sub: sausage, ground turkey, cheese and onions, stuffed into a long roll and baked. Wow. It was such a hit at the party that people ate the leftover stuffing with tortilla chips.

If you're interested in trying this delicious sandwich, you can find the recipe in the The I Heart Trader Joe's Party Cookbook available at all Urban Outfitters.

Until next week Readers!

The Counter
12117 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rabbit season....No, DUCK Season.

Greetings Readers!

Has the sandwich fairy visited you this past week?

It visited me, as I finally stopped at a place that I have been recommended before and has also been mentioned by various blog and magazines. For this sandwich I took a trip out to Toluca Lake (Editor's note: It's not really a's only 3 miles away).

Toluca Lake is by far one of my favorite sections of Los Angeles. It's a quaint little neighborhood between North Hollywood and Burbank with a main strip of stores that includes numerous coffee shops, diners, boutique shops, and the original Bob's Big Boy.

And nestled on this main strip on Riverside Drive is a cafe called Sweetsalt. If you're not looking for it, you may even miss it.

For as much as I've heard about Sweetsalt, it was relatively uncrowded for lunchtime on a Saturday.

Be warned though Reader, everything on the menu sounds delicious, and the daily specials won't make your decisions any easier. After much internal debate though, I decided on the Lavender Duck sandwich.

Duck is something new for the Danger Sandwich as it has never made an appearance on a previous sandwich. It's also been quite awhile since I've had duck in any meal, and for those of you who may not have had duck before, there is a problem that you should be aware of.

Duck can be incredibly greasy. It's delicious and savory, but the grease can sometimes be offputting, depending on who makes it.

With this in mind, I bit into this sandwich, and consider my tastebuds in heaven.

The flavors of this sandwich married together so incredibly well, and yet you could easily pick out each different ingredient as the flavors came in waves.

On your first bite you taste the bread and then right into the duck. Followed by the goat cheese, onion confit and then the sprouts. And lastly, oh what's this? Sweetness followed by the previous savory flavors? That's right, sweetness provided by your friend lavender honey.

The duck was tender, savory, and not greasy. It had the same texture as dark meat from chicken, but a more prominent savory flavor. This is quite possibly the best prepared duck I have ever had. And I don't say things like that very easily.

On top of the duck is an onion confit. The onions still had a bit of crispness to them even though that had been marinated for quite some time before being added to this sandwich. Still maintaining their onion flavor, they also provided a bit of the sweetness to the sandwich.

The ciabatta bread was an excellent choice for this sandwich too. A soft and spongy inside with a nice firm and golden exterior, the ciabatta's flavor was still noticeable even over the flavor explosion created by the rest of the sandwich.

The goat cheese on the sandwich is not the dry spread that I've had before, but more like a sour cream texture, easily spreadable and instantly noticeable on the sandwich with its slightly pungent cheese flavor.

This is topped off with a healthy dose of earthy sprouts and a spot of lavender honey which rounds off the flavor parade with sweetness. Delicious.

I've had an excellent run of sandwiches lately and the Lavender Duck sandwich at Sweetsalt is no different. I couldn't recommend this sandwich more to someone in the area. If you're hanging out in Toluca Lake on a beautiful weekend afternoon, definitely make sure you keep your eyes open for this quaint cafe along Riverside.

You'd certainly be missing out otherwise.

Until next week!

Lavender Duck Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
10218 1/2 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, CA 91602