Wednesday, January 29, 2014

All Aboard The Flavor Train!

Greetings, Readers!

My expectation a few months ago was that by January I would be enjoying excellent winter-appropriate sandwiches because of the change of season here in Los Angeles seems to have fallen short.

Granted, I wasn't expecting the same temperatures as I had in Philadelphia, but I did expect something cooler than 80 degrees. Something that would make grilled cheese and tomato soup mildly appropriate.

Instead, this past weekend I found myself at a classic San Fernando Valley location with summer appropriate foods: Carney's.

This location on Ventura Blvd. has been around since 1981 (the original on Sunset has been around since 1975). The original owners, John Wolf Sr. and his wife Pat wanted to have an eatery that was memorable and easy to move if their original lease on Sunset Blvd. became too expensive. So they built the first location with an old Pacific Railroad passenger train.

The image of Carney's being cooked and served on an old rail car became so synonymous with the name that they kept with this theme when they opened the second location in Studio City.

Having passed this location numerous times in my six-plus years here, I never had the opportunity to stop in until this past weekend, and now I will be sure not to wait that long until the next time.

I ordered the Carney's Spicy Polish, a grilled spicy sausage topped with chili, cheese, onions and thick sliced tomatoes. The sausage was delicious, well grilled and a little bit of a spicy kick. Despite all of the toppings, the flavor of the sausage still shone through.

The chili added a bit of spice and smoke flavor to the mix, and it was added in copious amounts to the top of the sausage making this a slightly messy meal. The thickly sliced tomatoes were a great topper and not mealy at all. I ended up picking these off and eating them separately since the sandwich was already too big to take a bite out of of. The fresh flavor offered by the tomatoes was an excellent contrast to the savory flavor of the rest of the meal.

The only thing that may be off-putting to some people is that the onions are not cooked. Maybe this wouldn't be a problem on a different sandwich, but it was somewhat odd that they weren't grilled for this one. I feel like that extra step would have put this sandwich over the top.

Overall, the experience of eating in an old train car, as well as eating at a Los Angeles institution was excellent, and something I hope to do again sometime soon.

Oh, and for those outside the city who have always heard about Pink's and how awesome their hot dogs are? Carney's is just as good (if not better) and you won't have a two hour wait for a hot dog.

Make this your must-have hot dog on your next stop in the city.

Until next week...

Carney's Spicy Polish
**** Stars
Carney's Studio City
12601 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Breakfast For Champions

Photo courtesy Cassie Craves
Greetings, Readers!

Over the past few weeks, I have developed somewhat of a fascination (maybe obsession is the better word) with breakfast sandwiches. The combination of eggs, avocado, bacon, and other ingredients between two toasty halves of an English Muffin is an excellent way to start the day along with a cup of coffee.

So, since the weekend is quickly approaching (not as quickly as we'd all like to have it though), I have provided a few links and tips for your Saturday morning breakfast sandwich and encourage you to share you own suggestions, tips, and favorites.

If you'd like to put scrambled eggs on your breakfast sandwich, I found one of the best tutorials on making the perfect, fluffy scrambled eggs. It comes courtesy of one of my favorite chefs of all time: Gordon Ramsay.
You can find the directions here and they will knock you over with their flavor and lightness. A perfect addition to a morning sandwich.

The other way I like to cook eggs, sunny side up, is a great way to enjoy a creamy yolk that is able to be soaked up by whichever bread you choose for your sandwich. A simple as cracking an egg into a warm pan until the yolk is cooked (though still runny). With each bite into the sandwich, more of the flavorful yolk is released, changing the flavor profile.

For a great breakfast sandwich idea, here's a fantastic recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine.

Of course to complement the eggs, whichever way you choose to make them, we have to have bacon. As I've made very well known here on the blog, I'm a big fan of this pork product. Sometimes though, in the interest of making sure it's cooked fully through, I make my bacon a little too crispy. So recently I tried baking my bacon in the oven.

Lay down a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, lay down the bacon and cook for a few minutes at 375 degrees. When the top side is looking like it's cooked, give your bacon a flip and allow it to sit in the over for a few more minutes. The end product is a thoroughly cooked, slightly crispy bacon. A much better experience then burned pan bacon.

For the bread, an English muffin is always a great way to go, but I'm also a huge proponent of sourdough in the morning. The sour edge to that bread is a great complement to the umami flavors of the rest of your breakfast.

So there you go, Readers. I have put forth my own ideas on sandwiching for breakfast, but what do you prefer? Anything else you like to top your morning sandwich with?

Until next week...

P.S. - Always Tapatio.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

One Last Night Into The Cold

Greetings, Readers!

I hope that those affected by the recent polar vortex have come out stronger on the other side it. I also hope that you took my twitter advice to stay inside and enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup as others tried to throw boiling water into the air to watch it freeze.

You obviously came out on top if you did. And with fewer burns.

When I was visiting Philly last month, it was a bit colder than I had become used to in Los Angeles, but still nowhere near what the weeks after my visit would be like. Regardless, there wasn't a better way to deal with the cold than a night out at the bar with friends for drinks and dinner.

We headed out to Kraftwork Bar, a place I had visited before on a prior trip. This time around, the bar was packed, but after waiting for a seat, we settled down and looked through their excellent dinner menu. I had gone back and forth between a few of the sandwich options, but the Beer Can Chicken Sandwich's call was just too strong to ignore. Paired with a heavy, dark beer we settled into our booth and all caught up with each other.

The sandwich came out shortly (service was excellent even with it being so busy) and looked like a challenge. The shredded chicken was piled high between the light fluffy bun. With every bite, the juicy and marinated chicken nearly dissolved in my mouth, it was that well cooked. Combined with fried long hot peppers, onions and smoky provolone, this sandwich was quickly consumed. A bit of spice, a bit of heat a bit of smoke, a lot of delicious.

The bread really was just there as a way to eat the meal, as whatever flavor it would have added to the sandwich was easily blocked out by the flavorful mash-up in the middle. The sandwich is heavy and plentiful so if you're hungry and looking to stay warm do the same as I did and pair this up with a dark beer like a porter or stout to complete your meal.

Add some old friends in and you'll complete your night.

Following Kraftwork we walked to Barcade and Frankford Hall, both of which we met up with more people, family included). I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with both of these bars as well and will plan a return visit on my next trip east.

Until next week, Readers...stay warm, and stay full!

Beer Can Chicken Sandwich
**** Stars
Kraftwork Bar
541 E. Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spring House in Winter Weather

Greetings, Readers!

I hope the last two weeks of the holidays have left you satisfied, relaxed, and ready to start off 2014 with a bang.

2013 led to a lot of amazing sandwich experiences, and I'm looking to take you through another year of them.

Wrapping up 2013 with my visit to Philadelphia, I had a number of great experiences, and one of the top ones was my trip to Spring House Brewery Tap Room in Lancaster, PA.

Part of a full day of brewery tours in eastern Pennsylvania with my brother, Spring House was our first stop. To accompany the ten beer sampler, I decided to go with the Reuben. On a cool December day, this filling sandwich sounded like the perfect companion to some of the amazing house brews.

To be fair, every sandwich sounded excellent. I was also leaning towards the French Dip.

The Reuben is a straight forward affair at Spring House: Sliced Corned Beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese on lightly grilled rye bread. Sometimes being simple is the best way to take it. For this Reuben, the corned beef was cooked well and full of mouth-watering flavor. The spices in the meat shone through even with all of the other flavors competing for the spotlight. The Swiss cheese was melted thoroughly and offered its smooth smoky flavor, a delicious contrast to the sour bite or the sauerkraut and the sweet taste of the Thousand Island.

My only complaint, and it's minor in this situation, is that I would have preferred the bread toasted/grilled just slightly longer. This factor should in no way deter you form this sandwich though.

This was a delicious choice to accompany the beer sampler we had and a great way to keep warm on a cold December afternoon.

If your'e able to swing by the Tap Room, I highly suggest getting this sandwich as well as their extensive ten-pour sampler so you can try every one of their offerings. My favorite was the Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout. It's a real knockout and thoroughly delicious.

One more stop to go in my trip back to Philadelphia, but we'll continue that next week.

Until then, Readers...

Reuben Sandwich
**** Stars
Spring House Tap Room
25 West King Street
Lancaster, PA 17603

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Here's To 2014 and The Year Of The Sandwich

Happy New Year, Readers!

So maybe 2014 is actually the year of the horse. I'm offering it up as the Year of the Sandwich as well.

May 2014 bring all of us some fantastic sandwiching adventures.

Next week, my reviews from my trip to Philadelphia continue. Enjoy the remainder of the holidays!

Until next week...