Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Grilled Cheese Invitational 2013 (or, Cheese-ella)

Elbows Mac N Cheese's "Masala Grilled Cheese"
Greetings Readers!

I thought this week that I would take a bit of a break from reviewing the Burgers of Burbank and instead focus on an event that this blog was destined to cover.

The 11th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational.

I know, I was just like you once. I wondered if such a thing as that could actually exist, but it's true. I had actually known about the event since I first moved out to LA, but I always seemed to miss it every year. This time would be different though.

Heading to Downtown LA on a very warm Saturday afternoon with friends, we scoped out the numerous trucks lining the parking lot. Checking the menu listings, we each waited in different lines to grab sandwiches to share with each other. This way we could sample more.

The Counter's "Grilled Cheese Trifecta"
I'm not exaggerating when I say that even the my least favorite sandwich of the day was still excellently made, and absolutely delicious.

My choice was the Masala Grilled Cheese from Elbows Mac N Cheese. This sandwich with its Indian spices, sharp cheddar cheese, peppers and onions sounded great to begin with, but I felt compelled to add a layer of baked mac and cheese. The layer of mac is something I've done before with The Grilled Cheese Truck, and was a decision that added cheesy gooeyness as well as more cheddar flavor to complement the definitive and powerful Indian spices.

The Grilled Cheese Truck's "Cheesy Mac and Rib"

The Cheesy Mac and Rib from The Grilled Cheese Truck was as delicious as it was on my original meeting with them. This sandwich with its Southern style Mac and Cheese, sharp cheddar cheese and caramelized onions is topped off with tangy and delicious BBQ shredded pork. An excellent combination that leaves you wanting more.

The Counter offered something in the way of a more traditional grilled cheese with their Grilled Cheese Trifecta: Cheddar, American and Provolone on grilled Texas Toast. The provolone could have been melted better, but overall the flavors of the three cheeses blended well.

Cheesy Amigos Cart's "Strawberry Chardonnay"

Trailerpark Truck's Cheesy Bloomin' Onion Melt consisted of melted Monterey Jack cheese, house-made chipotle aioli and a healthy dose of crispy fried onion strings on grilled white bread. The fried onion strings gave a bit of textural contrast to the melty cheese, and provided a great additional flavor.

But Lo, Dear Reader! There were not only savory sandwiches, but dessert sandwiches as well.

Stay with me for this one, the two we sampled may just blow your mind.

First up was the Cheesy Amigos Cart's Strawberry Chardonnay. This sandwich used Strawberry Chardonnay Cheddar, fresh bananas and strawberries along with Nutella on grilled Brioche. Obviously different in flavor to the other sandwiches sampled, the straberries added a fresh, crisp flavor to this interesting mix, while the chocolaty Nutella added an excellent, but still sweet contrast. The cheddar was not a sharp flavor, but very mellow and blended well.

Before leaving though, I decided I needed to try the Tiramisu Grilled Cheese from McCalllum's Melt.

Trailerpark Truck's "Cheesy Bloomin' Onion Melt"
Yes, Tiramisu. You're not going crazy and making things up, and neither was I.

This sandwich used Chocolate Bread and filled it with a whipped Mascarpone cheese with a dose of coffee syrup.

I thought I had taken a photo of it, but I may have just eaten the whole thing before I got the chance. Either way, apologies.

It was delicious, and an excellent experimentation with what actually makes up a Grilled Cheese sandwich.

Overall, The Grilled Cheese Invitational was everything I could have imagined, and more. Not only was it a delightful way to spend an afternoon with friends, but it was also a great way to see how local chefs are experimenting with the form of the Grilled Cheese sandwich.

I know I for one will be going again next year, and so should you.

Until next week, Dear Readers!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Burgers of Burbank (Part 7)

Greetings, Readers!

Last week I told you about the first two burgers in our Five-In-Two-Hours Burgering Adventure, and while those two may have been a bit disappointing, the third one in this series definitely brightened the day a bit.

After the Peanut Butter Burger, we headed a few doors down on San Fernando Blvd. to the Burbank Bar and Grille.

It's been a long time since I was last in this restaurant, but this is a great place to eat with a clean sports bar vibe and a retractable roof on the patio on warm days/nights.

Settling in on a slow afternoon at the Grille, we decided to order the Angus Burger, which was essentially our only option at the Grille. The burger, a 1/2 pound patty of freshly ground Angus beef cooked to medium doneness, with a thick slice of gouda cheese and served on a brioche bun, this was definitely a step up from the previous burgers this day.

I added a few slices of onion and lettuce on top for a fresh and crunch contrast to the savory meat and cheese. The beef patty had a much more noticeable and palatable flavor than the previous burgers on this outing. While the gouda had a noticeable smooth and mellow cheese flavor, the Anugs patty was still able to shine through on this burger.

The sweet potato fries on the side were a nice addition to this meal, contrasting the flavor of the savory burger with a sweet crispness.

While this burger was delicious though, it wasn't a knockout, but if you're in the area and want a solid burger for lunch, The Burbank Bar and Grille would be a good option for lunch.

While I still have two more burgers from this day alone to write about, Readers, we are still a long way from the finish line. Having just spent an afternoon this past Sunday in Burbank, I have a lot more exciting sandwiches to tell you about in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

And make sure you leave a message in the comments below about your favorite burger, meat or meatless.

Until next week...

The Angus Burger
*** 1/2 Stars
Burbank Bar and Grille
112 N. San Fernando Blvd.
Burbank, CA

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Burgers of Burbank (Part 6)

Greetings, Readers!

Two weeks ago I mentioned that on one of the days of our burgering adventures, Bryan and I had taken on the challenge of eating five different burgers in an afternoon.

The first burger that we sat down for at The Great Grill Restaurant caught my eye immediately when I opened the menu as it was a combination I never would have dreamed of: a peanut butter burger.

That's right. No joke here, folks. The 50's Nutty Burger features a 1/4 pound beef patty with lettuce, thousand island dressing, and a healthy dose of peanut butter.

I know, I know. Thousand Island dressing AND peanut butter? That sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster, but with writing a blog called "The Danger Sandwich" you have to go out on a limb and risk your life sometimes.

The main thing about the burger is that the peanut butter flavor is such a dominant flavor on the sandwich. For the most part you can't even taste the beef patty, and if it wasn't for the texture you wouldn't even know there was meat on the sandwich.

Every once in awhile you could get a little taste of Thousand Island dressing, but it wasn't as gross of a combination as you would think, especially since the peanut butter quashed any competing flavor from that ingredient.

The second burger we tried, The 1/4lb Great Burger, was more like a 1/4lb Average Burger (zing?). Sure bacon, avocado and cheddar were added to the 1/4lb patty, and this time around I could definitely taste the beef aspect of the hamburger, but nothing stood out. It was a pretty standard burger that didn't have me dying to come back for more.

This visit was definitely a disappointment. Where the promise of experimentation with burgers (the 50's Nutty Burger), and the possibility of deliciousness with a good old stand-by (the 1/4lb Great Burger) I initially had high hopes, but sometimes even the prospect of burgers can let you down.

Next time, I'll have a few burgers from our 5-in-one-day outing that will make these two look like an easily forgotten memory of sandwiching.

Until next week, Readers...

The 50's Nutty Burger
* 1/2 stars
The 1/4lb. Great Burger
** Stars
The Great Grill
126 N. San Fernando Blvd.
Burbank, CA

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Burgers of Burbank (Part 5)

Greetings, Readers!

One of the most surprising things of this run of burgers is the sheer number of places in Burbank that are known for a particular burger.

Not counting diners or major chains, this town has an impressive lineup of this particular type of sandwich.

Not surprising on this outing was that we would find a burger worth trying at the world famous Bob's Big Boy.

Teeming with history, this location of Bob's has been around since 1949 and it's quickly noticed how much of an effect this restaurant has had on fast food and burger culture from that point on.

Take for example our choice for this visit, the Super Big Boy. Similar looking to a particular major chain's marquee burger, this sandwich quickly shows off why it's the superior option.

A double-decker burger with medium-sized patties, topped with fresh lettuce, melted American cheese, a special relish and a sesame seed bun, this burger was very enjoyable.

The burger patties have a great beef flavor that is still noticeable over the other ingredients. The lettuce adds a great crispy crunch, the American cheese was thoroughly melted and the relish adds an excellent tangy flavor to complement the delicious beef patties.

Overall delicious and so simple, the Super Big Boy shows you how it is the perfect template for a double-decker burger. Something that particular chains should take note of.

The Super Big Boy also is noted for having 50% more meat and double the cheese of the regular Big Boy, so if you're going to order a burger here I'm going to have to suggest the Super Big Boy over the original just to get more bang for your buck.

So the next time you're in Burbank, make sure to get a window booth at Bob's Big Boy, order up a super Big Boy and revel in the history of one of the oldest burger joints in the area.

Until next time, Readers...

Super Big Boy
**** Stars
4211 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505