Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sandwiches of Future Past

Greetings, Readers!

I started this blog as a way to not only keep up with my writing, but also to explore many new places not only in Los Angeles, but outside of the city as well. I've come upon so many new and exciting places to eat that my eating experience has been fantastic over the past few years.

The one downside to trying so many new places is that sometimes some favorite, previously oft-visited places are not often returned to.

In my case, that would include Swingers Hollywood.

When I first came out to Los Angeles for an internship in 2005, I spent at least three nights a week at Swingers. It was a great diner-like atmosphere with excellent food, and usually a great spot to see B-list celebrities hanging out after being at clubs and bars.

If I wasn't interested in eating one of their delicious breakfast plates, my usual go-to was the Stuffed Grilled Cheese, which was thankfully still on the menu when my sabbatical from Swingers ended this past Friday evening.

Stuffed with melted Jack and cheddar cheeses, homemade guacamole, grilled onions, sliced tomatoes on sourdough, the Stuffed Grilled cheese is an excellent example of late night eats. The cheese is melty, the bread is lightly grilled and buttery, and the flavor added by the guacamole and onions is excellent.

If you find yourself not able to wait to bite into the sandwich, I suggest you have some water on-hand. The tomatoes can be quite a bit hot in the first few bites, so word of warning, be careful. After that though, this is an excellent sandwich, and perfect eats whether it's for lunch, or for soaking up the night's alcohol.

Since it had been so long since my last visit, I had to have desert here. Following up so much cheese, I could have probably picked a better flavor complement than the thick Peanut Butter and Banana milkshake, but really it was the right decision after all.

If you're in the area, you should definitely add a stop at Swingers to your itinerary. it'll be worth the visit as even the atmosphere is worth the dining experience.

Oh, and the jukebox? One of the best in town.

Until next week...

Stuffed Grilled Cheese
Swingers Hollywood
8020 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Patron Saint of Burgers

Greetings, Readers!

Hopefully this past week you took some time off to celebrate St. Patrick's Day the way that all good Irish Americans (or Irish Americans for the day) like to: with beer.

And hopefully a sandwich.

Meeting up with friends to catch up, I spent the evening at Stout Burgers and Beers in Studio City to enjoy a burger and beer.

Settling down with a Rosy Barl Sour Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing, and joined that up with a Goombah Burger.

The Goombah was an all-beef burger cooked medium-rare and was topped with Parmasiano flakes, smoked mozzarella, crispy prosciutto, and lemon basil aioli. The lemon flavor was surprisingly noticeable over the smooth and smoky flavors provided by the burger and other toppings. Not too powerful, but definitely on display and an interesting change of pace with a burger.

The patty itself was perfectly cooked and delicious tasting. One of the best things about Stout is that they have such an incredible burger philosophy listed on their menu page, and it shows in both the flavor of their burgers as well as the knowledge of the servers.

I've written about Stout before, and the message remains the same: this is a must visit.

What about you, Readers? Where did you stop to eat on St. Patrick's Day to celebrate?

Until next week, Readers...

The Goombah Burger
**** Stars
Stout Burgers and Beers
11262 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Horse Thief Among Us

Greetings, Readers!

Today, before I even get to discussing the sandwich of the week, there's something I must get out in the open. This week's blog is an incredibly special milestone, one that I could not have achieved without all of you reading my blog each week.

This is the 200th entry on the blog. Seriously. 200.

That's insane. When I first started this blog, I couldn't have imagined that the blog would still be going this long, despite my strong love of sandwiches. So I owe a great deal to you and your readership.

Now, onto the sandwich of the week.

While in downtown Los Angeles this past weekend, I stopped into one of my favorite spots to eat down there: Grand Central Market. It had been a little while since I last visited, and the changes that have happened since then were noticeable.

The market still had lots of its old taco stalls and produce sellers, but now there were a few newer places that had opened. One of the most noticeable was Horse Thief BBQ, on the edge of the market.

On this warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, the idea of authentic Texas barbecue with a refreshing lemonade sounded like a spectacular idea. When I saw that there was a brisket sandwich on the menu, I couldn't pass it up.

The bun here is nothing special, but really would I have expected it to be? The bread simply serves as a delivery mechanism for the delicious brisket. It's obvious through the taste that this brisket was given ample love through the cooking process. The meat was full of a deep, rich and savory flavor with a smooth infusion of smoke and burnt ends. Each bite pulled apart easily and nearly dissolved in my mouth while chewing.

All brisket should be made like this.

For the sides, I chose the cornbread (slightly sweet with some crispy edges) and the absolutely phenomenal bacon and blue cheese potato salad.

Yeah, I said that.

The blue cheese imparted its characteristic flavor, but not with the usual punch that accompanies it. This is a good thing though as too much blue cheese flavor would have been way too intense. Along with the crispy bacon bits and well cooked potatoes, this was an excellent side to have along with the brisket.

If you're downtown in LA, I would always recommend stopping for lunch at Grand Central Market. Now with the revamp, along with the classic taco stands and produce sellers, I recommend it even more. A visit to Horse Thief BBQ should be your first stop.

Thanks again, Readers, for your following over these past 200 posts, I hope to keep you engaged and hungry for 200 more and beyond if you'll allow me.

Until next week...

BBQ Brisket Sandwich
**** Stars
Horse Thief BBQ
324 S. Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Following The White Light to Hog Heaven

Greetings, Readers!

First let me start this blog by saying that if you're Christian, and going through the start of Lent with yoru lack of meat on certain days, this is not a sandwich that will appeal to you.

This may not be for you even if you're not celebrating Lent, because this is a blog about a burger.

A burger with a truckload of bacon.

On a suggestion from a coworker to visit the burger shack known as Slater's 50/50 in Pasadena, I headed out with my usual burger companion Bryan (@818newguy) to see what this place promised in regards to its loudly professed love of bacon.

Slater's offers two options: 1.) the standard set menu, with their deliciously crafted sandwiches listed to make your life easier; and 2.) a Choose Your Own Adventure burger menu, allowing you to craft your dream sandwich, and even name it.

Taking my time with the menu, I crafted a burger that I named Hog Heaven, or "So Long Arteries".

Look, if there's bacon in everything here, I'm going HAM...or...bacon. You know how it is.

Ridiculous in size, here's the "Hog Heaven"
I started with a 2/3lb 50/50 burger. That's 2/3lb. after cooking. The 50/50 patty, the one their known for and named after, if a patty consisting of 50% ground beer, and 50% ground bacon. mine was cooked to medium doneness, allowing for a warm pink interior.

For the bun, in this pub-style setting i thought that a pretzel bun would work great. Not only would it add more flavor over a regular white bun, but I also needed something that could tough it out and handle the burger itself. The twist on this burger though? The pretzel bun had bacon in it too.

I know!

The list of additional toppings contains a dizzying variation of items that you can choose from. Wanting to differentiate Hog Heaven from other burgers I've had, I added dill pickle chips (a standard) but then went in a different direction by adding Fritos for a bit of crunch.

Oh, yeah, and some arugula too. You know, for the peppery bite...and for the illusion of something healthy on this sandwich to counteract all that bacon.

Just because I have an unnatural love of bacon, I added an item from the "Premium" list: Thick Cut Bacon.

For the final selection on the menu, I decided to go with Slater's Bacon Ketchup. I mean, if I was going all-in with bacon, why not, right? The ketchup had some texture to it, somewhat thicker or chunky looking from the bacon included in it. It was delicious as it was like regular ketchup with a bit of bacon-y smoke goodness.

So that was my creation, Hog Heaven. Wild right? But was it any good? Have my years of sandwiching paid off and given me the talents to create a decent sandwich?

The bacon, though thoroughly infuse din this sandwich, is delicious and very present, but not overpowering. I was still able to taste all of the individual ingredients, even the arugula and pickle chips. The Fritos and thick cut bacon both provided the contrasting crunch to the sandwich with their salty kicks as well.

The patty is the real standout here, and it is definitely obvious as to why this is the namesake of the restaurant. The 50/50 patty cooked to medium doneness provides a delicious contrasting of flavors between the smooth and mellow beef flavor, and the smoky/salty cut of the ground bacon. This is a great combination and really brings the burger to life, more so than other all-beef burgers.

Since I can't exactly review my own creation (although I think it's delicious) I can say that if Hog Heaven is any indication of the deliciousness of all of the components, and an insight into the greatness of Slater's 50/50's in-house burgers, it's a fantastic place, and well worth your visit.

Until next week, Readers...

Hog Heaven
Unrated (I feel like I can't review my own sandwich, But Slater's is totally a 5 Star!)
Slater's 50/50
61 N. Raymond Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91103