Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ice Scream, You Scream

Greetings, Readers!

Just a short post today for you all to celebrate the official start of summertime this past week.

Though if you go by how many times I've been grilling so far, summer started about six weeks ago.

At work recently, we had a visit from Coolhaus, an ice cream sandwich truck here in LA.

With Coolhaus, you are able to not only pick the cookies of your sandwich (you're even allowed to mix and match) but you also get top choose your ice cream in between. For mine I went with the Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie and Dirty Mint ice cream in the middle.

Dirty Mint has chocolate chips and mint leaves mixed in so you get a strong, natural mint flavor mixed in with all of the sweet chocolate. The combination was savory and refreshing at the same time. It was a great combination to ride out the coming summer months with.

If you are looking for a way to keep cool with a sweet treat as the next few months heat up, I highly suggest you seek out a Coolhaus truck, or visit their brick-and-mortar shops in Culver City and Pasadena.

Until next week, Readers.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies with Dirty Mint Ice Cream
**** 1/2
Coolhaus LA

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sandwich Celebrations

Greetings, Readers!

You know, when people find out that I write a sandwich blog, I am quite often asked which sandwich is the best I've ever had, or at least the best in Los Angeles. Sometimes particular sandwiches stick in my head as favorites (pulled pork or cubanos) but sometimes it depends on the mood I'm in at the moment (I could be feeling pastrami-ish on a Wednesday).

But the thing I usually tell people about what makes a sandwich experience exception is the company.

Sure, exploring places on my own is a fun time because i'm still experiencing great food in great places. but the people who join me on my excursions help take these trips to the next level.

Take for example two weeks ago when my wife and I went to The Fat Dog in Hollywood to help our friend Ross propose to his girlfriend, Katie. Under the ruse of filming a video segment for this blog (there will eventually be some in the future!), we filmed the build up to the proposal and the actual proposal itself.

Following such a life-changing event, could the sandwiches at The Fat Dog be memorable in themselves?

Ordering the Braised Short-Rib French Dip sandwich I braced myself for what could be a sure winner. I've eaten a lot of short rib sandwiches, as well as French Dips from classics like Cole's and Philippe's, so this sandwich had a lot to live up to.

Braised short rib, Gruyere cheese, and caramelized onions sit nicely between two slices of buttered and grilled toast.  The short rib was delicious and well flavored along with the mild, creamy Gruyere. I really enjoyed the buttered and toasted bread (it held together better with dipping) but along with the salty au jus made for an overpowering experience that hid the greatness of the short ribs. While enjoyable, the salt was a little much for me.

The ambiance and experience here at The Fat Dog warrant a second look at their menu. Off topic of sandwiches, it seems like their Fish and Chips would be an excellent choice for an evening there, and a lot of their other options sound equally tasty. My next time around though I'd probably just stick to trying their burger.

Until next week, Readers.

Braised Short Rib French Dip
*** 1/2
The Fat Dog
801 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Afternoon with a Legend

Greetings, Readers!

After five entries of sandwiches from Hawaii, it seemed difficult at first to find a good sandwich to mark my return to Los Angeles based sandwiches.

How could I find something so good here, in LA that would be able to put my memories of my time in the 50th state behind me for the time being so that I may impartially judge a sandwich here.

Such is the hard life of a sandwichologist.

Taking away the great responsibility of picking a place though, my former roommate Ross suggested we meet at Langer's Delicatessen for a belated birthday lunch. Only a one block walk from a Red Line Metro Station (yes we have a Metro system), I approached what would soon turn out to be a momentous occasion on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Stepping inside this Los Angeles institution, one is transported back in time. The interior hasn't been updated in what seems like quite some time but it absolutely adds to the charm of the place. The warm and welcoming staff don't hurt either. The experience of Langer's reminds me very much of many of the East Coast diners I've been to, and I mean that as a statement of high compliment.

While at times the lines to get into Langer's can be exceptionally long, and the fact that they close at 4pm, this is a great place to order a sandwich, have a drink and soak in the history and homeliness of a fantastic dining establishment.

But you're here to find out if their sandwiches are any good, right? You want to know if it's possible that all the talk about Langer's pastrami or corned beef sandwiches are really worth the hype.

Take it from me, it is not hype at all. It is honest truth.

Langer's is known for their #19, a pastrami, Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian Dressing affair. I had considered going with this, but I am not always a fan of the cold cole slaw contrast with the warm pastrami and so did the #19 without cole slaw.

The pastrami was delicious. Thick, tender cuts stacked high between two slices of rye bread, it's obvious why their pastrami is so famous. Smoky cuts combined with the smoky melted Swiss and a bit of tang and sweetness from the Russian dressing, this sandwich is a great excuse to take Metro and meet a friend for lunch. It's simple and straightforward. This sandwich doesn't need flashy ingredients to make it stand out.

And compared to the other pastrami sandwiches I've had, this one is top notch, conversation or not. If you live here or are just visiting, make sure this is the stop you make if you're looking for great pastrami.

Until next week, Readers...

Pastrami w/ Swiss and Russian Dressing
Langer's Delicatessen
704 S. Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sandwich Island Fever (Part 5)

Greetings, Readers!

This week's blog will have both a very sad, and very happy tone.

Very happy because this may be one of the top stops I made on my recent trip to Hawai'i.

Very sad because it was one of the last stops I made in Hawai'i.

But what better place to visit to wrap up our trip there than to stop at Kona Brewing Company on The Big Island. Visiting the brewery and pub was one of my top destinations while we were visiting the state. I'm a huge fan of their beer and wanted to be able to taste some more limited options that are only available on tap at the brewery itself.

The beer, as usual was delicious, and made me wish that the brewery bottled some of these other limited options sometime soon. Duke's Blonde Ale was a fantastically refreshing. I was happy to see that six-packs of their delicious Castaway IPA are now in bottles for the season. Definitely pick that up if you see it and enjoy refreshing IPAs.

But enough of their fantastic beer, let's discuss the sandwich.

The menu has so many delicious sounding options that it did take quite a bit for me to settle on one. Most of them also use their beers as an ingredient. Wanting to stick with the success of the seafood based sandwich from my post two weeks ago, I ordered the Big Wave Shrimp Melt.

A significant amount of tender shrimp are braised in Big Wave Golden Ale (a fantastic beer) and garlic with house made avocado aioli, parmesan and provolone cheeses, roasted garlic, fresh spinach and locally grown tomato thrown on top. Stack this deliciousness between tow halves a hearty roll and you have a great sandwich.

The shrimp were tender but still had a bit of pop to them when you took a bite with plenty of delicious flavor. The parmesan and provolone cheese combined for an incredibly savory, powerful flavor that was very present, but not overpowering of the more mild shrimp flavor.

The fresh spinach and tomato added a contrast of fresh crunch and flavor. The tomato was not mealy in the least and was an excellent contrast to the savory sandwich. The roasted garlic added a great flavor that complemented the cheeses and mild seafood.

Plus, anything with roasted garlic gets a big thumbs up from me.

Stack all of this between the sides of a hearty roll that held it all together until the end of the sandwich, and you have an excellent example and one of the best sandwiches I had during out stay in the 50th state.

If you happen to be in Kona and stop by KBC, definitely take the tour as well. I find it's always great to see the inner workings of a place like this before or after you enjoy their delicious beer. You get to see the process at work and may even get a better understand and appreciation of the craft of beer.

An excellent way to wrap up our stay in the islands for a week and definitely left me wanting to return very soon. Hawai'i is not only a fantastic place to visit, but it's obvious that it is a place where the people understand what makes a good sandwich.

Until next week, Readers...

Big Wave Shrimp Melt
**** 1/2 Stars
Kona Brewing Company
75-5629 Kuakini Highway
Kailua Kona, HI 96740