Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where's The Beef?

Greetings fellow sandwich lovers!

I've come to realize that sometimes, what we're looking for can be right under our noses. On the other hand, what we may find there might not be exactly what we want.

Let me explain...

I work in Studio City, arguable the best part of the Valley, and in this little neighborhood there is a well spoken of Argentinian restaurant known as LaLa's.

Now for the record, I love Argentinian food. Adore it. It's amazing. I love it so much in fact that every time I drive up to Santa Barbara I stop at this amazing Argentine restaurant (Cafe Buenos Aires on State St. for those of you interested).

So after being in Studio City for years, I decided that now was the time to order a sandwich from LaLa's. The first point to mention here is the amount of food that is given with the order1: 1.) the sandwich was very sizable; 2.) the fries were more than a large order from any major chain (and much more delicious); and 3.) a few slices of bread with delicious chimichurri sauce.

I swear if it were healthy to drink chimichurri sauce, I'd probably do it.

For this adventure, I ordered the Lomito sandwich. Finely sliced Angus beef, lettuce, tomatoes and Argentine sauce, I was hoping to be greeted with excellence, instead I was sadly disappointed.

The bread was good, the lettuce was crisp, even the tomatoes were enjoyable (and if you know me, that's rare for me to say). So what was the problem?

The beef.

Was it tasty? Yes it was. It was full of flavor and juicy. The problem was the chewiness. For something that seemed so well cooked, I expected a bit more of it to fall apart in my mouth, instead, there were times where I was pulling the sandwich away to separate it from what I had already tried to bite off.

This didn't happen every time, but enough to disappoint me.

I had tasted greatness, only to have it violently ripped away between two halves of gnashing, moderately pearly white teeth (coffee's doing wonders for that).

So would I be dissuaded from visiting LaLa's again? No, probably not.

Just next time, I won't be ordering the beef.

Until next week, readers!

*** Stars
Lomito Sandwich
LaLa's Grill
Studio City and Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summertime In The City

Greetings Dear Readers!

This destination for this week's adventure began a few days ago when I read an article about hip new restaurants in downtown Los Angeles, and was again brought to my attention the following day in a conversation about downtown eateries.

For those of you who do not live in LA, the downtown area can be a ghost town on weekends, as the business people have left for other areas of the city, and there aren't as many bars, restaurants or hot spots to hit up.

That is beginning to change though, and Wurstküche is one of the newest hot spots.

Tucked away into the arts district on a fairly empty street, Wurstküche serves up a wide range of sausage sandwiches, Belgian fries, and has an incredible selection of German and Belgian beers on tap. What a meal to have in the middle of the summer!

This is the place that dreams are made of...but could it hold up on sampling their offerings?

I stared at the menu for quite a while and finally settled on the Sante Fe Jack Cheese and Jalapeno Smoked Turkey sausage sandwich. Add some Belgian fries to that and a Floris apple ale and you have an incredible lunch.

The sandwich itself was awesome. The sausage had a good 'pop' to it and had an amazing kick to it with the roasted jalapeno. The roll it was wrapped in was fresh, soft, and thoroughly delicious. The only complaint is that I wish the roll wasn't so big, or the sausage were slightly larger so there wasn't so much excess bread. The sauerkraut and sweet peppers I had it topped off with were crisp, fresh and full of contrasting sour/sweet flavor.

The Belgian fries were thick cut, crunchy on the outside and hot and fluffy on the inside. These fries were amazing and even got topped off with some coarse sea salt. These are a must-order anytime you go there.

And lastly, the Floris Apple Ale. An ale with the taste of apples? Are you kidding? Delicious. Light, crisp, refreshing and apple-y. I would have ordered five of these things if I had the time.

Overall, this experience at Wurstküche was unbelievable (and only got better after crossing the street to Angel City Brewing Co. for a pint). For all you LA-ers i know downtown can sometimes feel like a trek, but this is one expedition worthy of the drive.

Sante Fe Jack Cheese and Jalapeno Sausage Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
800 E. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sun, Shore and Sandwiches

Greetings, Dear Readers!

This week I've moved east from Philadelphia to Wildwood, NJ and the wonderful Jersey shore.

No, don't run off just yet! There's no GTL or "battling the beats", just a nice little write up of some delicious eats.

Yeah, I just did that.

One night, while hanging out with the entire extended family in Wildwood, I sat down to eat a cheese steak from Tony Luke's.

This sandwich shop, while also being stationed in Philadelphia, is well known for its signature sandwiches and I'm going to let you in on a little secret here: I've never had a sandwich from Tony Luke's.

I know, some of you may wonder how that's even possible, but now I know what's I've been missing all along.

The sandwich was packed with delicious steak, provolone cheese, and grilled onions and peppers. Despite how much was layered between the bread, the roll did an amazing job at keeping everything together, with a minimal amount of sogginess. The again, I really didn't give the sandwich enough time to fall apart after I opened it.

The meat was delicious, well cooked, and tender. The onions and peppers were well cooked too, not soggy, and still with a little pop left to them. The ony thing that caught me off guard was the use of red peppers instead of green peppers, which lent a slightly different taste to the sandwich.

The cheese was also very noticeable on this sandwich because there was so much piled on. In some bites it was almost overpowering and definitely caused my tongue to get stuck sometimes. Regardless, provolone trumps wiz any day and it still made this sandwich a real winner.

One day, I'll have to rank all of the cheesesteaks I've eaten in a blog entry, but for now, you should know that Tony Luke's is definitely a worthwhile destination.

And so ends my trip back home to Philadelphia. Much fun was had by all, and many sandwiches were eaten by me. Many thanks to my family for always making trips back east exceptional.

Until next week, Readers...

Tony Luke's Cheesesteak
**** Stars
Various Locations

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nothing Quite Like Home

Welcome back dear Readers! This week begins a two week special on the sandwiches of my hometown.

Two weeks ago when I visited Philadelphia, PA, I was lucky enough to see a Phillies home game, something I had not seen in almost four years since I moved to Los Angeles.

Paired with that sweet homecoming game (despite losing to the A’s 4-1), I also was able to tackle a mythical sandwich that I had read about for so long: The Schmitter.

Created by McNally's Tavern in Chestnut Hill, the sandwich is actually not named after legendary Phillies 3rd baseman, Mike Schmidt, but while it does lack that famous connection, the sandwich does make up for in flavor and overall deliciousness. A forewarning though, readers. This sandwich is ballpark food, and by nature is messy and contains an unhealthy amount of carbs and cholesterol.

Then again, this blog wouldn't live up to its name if there wasn't some element of danger to it.

The sandwich is composed of grilled salami, steak, fried onions, a huge slab of tomato, three sliced of cheese (split up throughout the sandwich), and special sauce on a kaiser bun.

I thought that the salami and steak were grilled very well without burning the edges or becoming too crisp or dry. The cheese though is where I had a little bit of a problem as there was really so much of it that it overpowered a lot of other flavors and it was so present with every bite that it was sometimes hard to notice other components.

The onions were a little bit soggy, and this is probably because the sandwiches hadn't been made at the moment of ordering them. A downside to ballpark food. I'm also pretty sure the special sauce was just Thousand Island dressing

The kaiser bun also held up well under pressure, and also after being sealed in foil for a few minutes before I grabbed mine. It did its job.

All in all, I highly enjoyed the sandwich, and it should definitely be accepted in the canon of ballpark food. Sitting there in the outfield concourse with family, the smell of barbecue, a good sandwich, and the sounds of baseball, it was truly good to be home.

Until next week, Readers...

*** 1/2 Stars
The Schmitter
Citizen's Bank Park
Philadelphia, PA