Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Sweet Taste of Lemonade

Greetings, Readers!

It's amazing to think that January is almost over, and before we'll notice it, it'll be time for summer sandwiches.

But while it's still cold outside, why don't we take a look at a fresh sandwich to warm your insides during the cold months to come?

In the LA area, there is a fantastic chain of cafeteria-style eateries called Lemonade. I've been to the one in Beverly Hills a long time ago, but even then I hadn't tried one of their sandwiches. Recently though, a location opened up close to where I live in Toluca Lake, making it all the easier to stop on by for a quick lunch to try some of their amazing offerings.

Your first time inside of Lemonade may be a bit overwhelming. Sure the decor is simple, stylized and welcoming with its bright colors, what's going to throw you for a loop is the number of amazing selections waiting for you when you jump into the lunch line.

At the start of the line you will see a long line of various salads to add to your lunch. I picked the Thai quinoa salad one that is combined with cucumbers, red pepper, mango, peanuts and carrots. There's a bit of bite to this and a mild bright flavor that would make this a great combination with a number of offerings at Lemonade.

After the burden of deciding on which delicious side salad to have, the real challenge of the afternoon began: which of the numerous sandwiches should I choose.

All look delicious, and all are on display along the lunch line. If the words weren't enough to help you pick one from many, then looking at all of them won't make your decision any easier. After much debate, I settled on the El Tijuana: turkey, jalapeno aioli, jicama slaw, and queso fresco.

While the sandwich could be toasted to order, I left that part alone and the bread stayed with me until the end. A little bit of cheese crusted onto the side with a whole-grain flavor made this an excellent bookend to the delight inside.

The turkey was fresh, with a mild flavor and thinly sliced. The jicama slaw added some bite and fresh flavor while the jalapeno aioli brought the spice kick this sandwich needed to propel it further. The queso fresco, for those who have not heard of it before, is a mild white cheese and in this case it's shredded and put on top of the turkey. It's a nice, mild addition to the flavor that brings the fresh and spicy flavors of the slaw and aioli more into line with the turkey.

A delicious lunch, and that doesn't even count the amazing lemonade options (all sound fantastic though I went with Blood Orange) and the desserts. Frankly, you may lose half of a paycheck here in an afternoon.

Whether sitting outside on the gorgeous patio overlooking Toluca Lake, or the inside with its modernized cafeteria look, you really can't go wrong stopping in at Lemonade. It's a place where the delicious options will have you coming back for more in the future until you try nearly every of the innumerable options in front of you.

Until next week, Readers...

El Tijuana
***** Stars
4400 W. Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's On The Sandwich Board?

Greetings, Readers!

I hope the past week has brought you many delicious sandwiches at new places for you.

Speaking of new places, every time I visit Philadelphia, I am amazed at the amount of sandwich shops that have sprung up in my absence. It seems that the City of Brotherly Love is embracing the art of sandwiching past just their fantastic cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches.

Case in point: going on a suggestion from Visit Philly (thanks btw!) I stopped at a restaurant I had heard about in whispers for awhile: Jake's Sandwich Board. A few years ago, they had a Ghost Pepper Cheesesteak on the menu which I had wanted to try, but I also did not want my stomach destroyed for a few days on vacation and so passed on it.

This time though, I wasn't going to be swayed. While I didn't see the Ghost Pepper sandwich, there were a number of options that seemed incredible, creative, and daring.

Heading there on a frigid night in late December, Jake's Sandwich Board is a small shop in downtown Philadelphia, a great place to settle in at a table, eat great food, and catch up with friends before heading out to some great bars in that part of town. We headed there one night to catch up with a friend we hadn't seen in awhile, but during dinner we weren't able to do a lot of talking because of the food itself.

I eventually settled on the 50/50, which contained half shredded pork (from locally sourced farms), half bacon, Sriracha spread and shredded provolone cheese.

The pork was plentiful, juicy and flavorful. The sriracha spread definitely gave an incredible spice kick, and the provolone was heavily present. Almost so much that it overpowered the sandwich in some areas. I really love provolone, but maybe a little bit less would help accentuate the delicious pork rather than overpower.

The roll held together until the end and was well made. A definite killer sandwich that I would absolutely have again my next time in Philadelphia.

If you're downtown and looking for a great sandwich stop, I highly suggest you check out Jake's Sandwich Board. While I had a pork sandwich (and there are others), they also offer options with brisket, turkey and veggies. You will have an excellent selection of options before you there.

Until next week...

The 50/50
**** 1/2 Stars
122 South 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

This Ain't No Bull

 Greetings, Readers!

While my first day or two back in Pennsylvania wasn't exactly chilly, considering the fact it was December, by the time of my second sandwich stop, it was downright frigid.

Heading into Croydon on a cold Monday evening, we stopped by a small pub called the Dog and Bull House.

Standing right next to the local train stop, The Dog and Bull just oozes atmosphere. The restaurant is small and cramped, a little dim with low ceilings, but really on a cold night when you want good food and a high ABV beer, you couldn't ask for a better place.

After settling in with some fantastic beer from The Bruery, I ordered the Black and Blue Burger. Granted the suggestion is to drink a nice IPA with this sandwich, but on this cold night, nothing but a 9% or higher beer will do.

The burger, a thick beef patty, comes topped with blackened seasoning, blue cheese crumbles, all topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions between two sides of a toasted bun.

The sandwich was flavorful, the beef patty incredibly juicy and savory. The blue cheese brought a little funk, smoke and contrast to the overall savory flavor of the burger. The mushrooms and onions were cooked to perfection providing mild flavors of their own while also bringing a textural pop and bite to the sandwich.

Overall, The Dog and Bull provides excellent food complemented with fantastic beers. If you're in the Croydon area, you should definitely stop by. It might be an even better visit for you if one of their musical acts is playing that night too.

That's all for this week's review. Next week I have a really dangerous sandwich to write about, so I hope you'll join me back here next Wednesday for that.

Until then...

Black and Blue Burger
**** Stars
Dog and Bull Brew & Music
810 Bristol Pike
Croydon, PA 19021

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Victory For Taste

Greetings, Readers, and Happy New Year!

It's been awhile, but for the holidays I took a little trip back to Philadelphia and took some time away from the internet in order to relax at the end of the year.

But don't think this means I disappeared from the trail of a good sandwich!

I reached out to the Visit Philly twitter account for suggestions and they were fantastic (one of them will be spotlighted in the coming weeks), but for my first trip, we went out to Downingtown to visit Victory Brewing Co. for beer, a brewery tour, and lunch.

The brewery tour is great experience, and one I would highly recommend. If you also haven't ever had any Victory beer before, I would also tell you to try everything on tap.

We can't forget the food though. Settling down to a table with family after a few pints of Victory's beer (the Gose and then Storm King for me), I settled on the Pastrami with Swiss sandwich.

A simple choice, but if you've been reading this blog long enough, you know that it's one of my favorite types of sandwiches. For Victory's offering, they filled it with house-made hickory smoked pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and cole slaw between two slices of grilled rye bread.

The pastrami was fantastic. Warm, thin slices full of flavor, juice and tenderness. The smoky Swiss permeated the entire sandwich, holding it together, and the crisp cool cole slaw presented an excellent contrast to the rest of the sandwich.

The fries were crisp on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside with great seasoning. Pair these two together with a light-in-color-but-not-in-flavor beer and you have a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family at one of Pennsylvania's best breweries.

My journey over the holidays continues next week in Philadelphia itself with a great sandwich from Jake's Sandwich Board. So for the next few days let this sandwich's savory flavors mellow in your mind.

Until next week...

Pastrami and Swiss
**** Stars
Victory Brewing Company
420 Acorn Lane
Downingtown, PA 19335