Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lobos Truck (Los Angeles)

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Part of the truck.



Wa-chos with everything  - Waffle Fry Nachos with blue cheese and buffalo sauce. 

The waffle fries were good but the bacon was bone dry, leathery and not smoky at all.  Easily the worst bacon I've ever had.  Even McDonald's flimsy bacon beats this thing.  In fact, I'd hardly even call it bacon - it was that bad.  Everything else was just okay.  But damn, I can't get over how bad the bacon was.  Talk about a travesty!


 

Sno con Amor @ Hollywood Farmer's Marker (Hollywood)

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For anyone that knows me, they can tell you that I cannot stand the sweltering summer heat.  Heck, winter heat or any heat for that matter.  I h-a-t-e it.  The perfect weather for me is a brisk 65º - and cloudy.

It's been hot all summer long - unbearably so for me.  So, a few weekends ago, I made it a point to check out a cool snow cone stand at the Hollywood Farmers Market - Sno con Amor..  What? you live in South Gate and you drove all the way to Hollyweird just for flavored ice?  Yup! Was it worth it?  Well, for one, I have no a/c at home so any drive inside an air conditioned vehicle is already leaps and bounds better than being couped-up in this oven. And two, I had heard some good things about this particular food stand.  
     


 The stand.



 Beet Lemonade Sno Cone.

Erase from your memory banks the notion of artificially-flavored syrupy smurf blue electric raspberry or viscous incredible hulk lime-flavored ice.  No goopy pink bubble gum flavored nonsense over ice.  These are all-naturally flavored snow cones.  
   


 The Menu - or what was left by the time we got there.

We arrived just before closing and luckily for us they still had a couple of flavors left.  I went knowing I wanted to try the walnut snow cone and fortunately for us, it was still available.  As for my second choice, I would have tried coconut, tamarind chile, strawberry/rhubarb, blackberry lavender or watermelon basil, but those were sold out.  So we ordered up a beet lemonade. 



Walnut Sno Cone.

The walnut snow cone made me kick myself for not having had a snow cone like this before.  Shit, if snow cones tasted like this growing up, I would have never stopped having them.  This hit the spot under the squelching heat.  Heatwave or not, this is good, period.  Seriously though, why do people pushing [artificially-flavored] raspado carts sell raspados the way they do?  These are supremely better.


  
Sno con Amor - right in the middle of it all.

We also tried the beet lemonade "sno" cone and that too was delicious - believe it or not.  So, was the trip worth it, you asked?  Is the sky blue?  Is water wet?  I plan on trying more flavors whether it's hot or not.  And even if I don't return soon, I hope to mimic the flavors here at home, especially since I already have the machine to churn out "snow."  And do you wanna know the best part?  I can booze mine up.  Stay tuned...  


Monday, August 27, 2012

FigOly @ Luxe Hotel (Los Angeles - Downtown)

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Patio/Lounge Menu cover.

 A few weeks ago, 2 much anticipated downtown restaurants opened their doors to the public for the first time.  For the most part, my attention was on their bar programs.  One restaurant, The Parish, has it's bar helmed by former Copa 'd Oro/Seven Grand bartender John Coltharp while the other, FigOly, had their cocktails created by Matt Biancaniello of Library Bar fame.  



FigOly (Figueroa/Olympic) is located on the 2nd floor of the Luxe Hotel.

 We already had other plans around town, but I just had to stop by one of these places, if not both.  Well, as difficult a decision as this was for me, I decided to make room for both.  But now, I had to choose between having 2 drinks at one place while just having one at the other.  I mean, the place just opened, so can you really just stop by for 1 drink?  I can't.  But that's precisely the pickle I was in.  I knew I would WANT to have have 2 drinks in one place while I COULD ONLY have 1 at the other.         



The Last Tango in Modena.

Initially, my intent was to have 2 drinks at FigOly because I wanted to try Matt's drinks slightly more than John's.  It's rare when I go to Matt's Library Bar because of parking/valet rates and the price of drinks ($18 now?) so when I heard Matt was behind the drink menu at FigOly, I figured now was the perfect time to enjoy his creations.  



 The rather small cocktail menu.

Well, as planned, we went to The Parish to have a single drink but as soon as I walked into the bar, I came across 3 former co-workers that work there now.  Well, suddenly, I felt obliged to stick around longer than I wanted to.  As it turns out, I had 2 drinks there and only 1 at FigOly.  In the end. I'm glad I did. 



Patio/Lounge with fireplace.

The bar area is nice enough and the view of LA Live is neat.  But I just wasn't digging the drinks as much as I had hoped and the service was terrible.  They did a good job of hiring eye candy, but I wasn't there to peruse the staff.  Don't get me wrong, I got nothing against anyone hiring bootylicious or top heavy ladies; but at least train them to do their job properly.  



Nusco.

My boy ordered The Last tango in Modena, but was brought out a Nusco instead.  Yes, she let him keep the drink and I had no problem with the mix-up.  But she was seldom seen and when she was, she was busy chatting it up with another table of what appeared to be her friends.  



The view directly in front of us over Figueroa.

Her nonchalant or negligent service soured on us but almost as disappointing were the drinks.  They were nothing like I had remembered having from Matt inside the Roosevelt Hotel.


  
Mamma Mia.

Every drink had it's issue.  One tasted too sweet, almost syrupy.  The other was over-diluted and lacking in alcohol.  The Last Tango in Modena, looked good but Jessie said the taste didn't match up.



Beer List.

Between the non-existent service and lackluster drinks, we were both glad to have spent more time and money at The Parish.  I don't think Matt is to blame for the the drinks.  Someone just wasn't making them right.  



The view over Olympic.

Needless to say, my favorite of the 2 bars is Parish, by leaps and bounds.  And that has nothing to do with the fact that old co-workers work there. I said, co-workers, not friends.  The fact of the matter is, FigOly reminded me of everything that I hate about Hollywood while The Parish reminded me of everything that I now love about Downtown LA.  



The Mojito

Although I don't order it or make it as much as I used to, this is one of my all-time favorite summertime drinks.  It's so simple to prepare and the ingredients are humble.  This was one of the first cocktails I ever made, probably because I had mint and limes accessible in the backyard.  All I needed was rum and that was dirt cheap when on sale.



The Mojito.

I used to make my Mojitos with Bicardi light rum ($7.99), Key limes, granulated sugar and fresh mint.  Rather than club soda, I would use Sprite or another lemon-lime soda to give the drink a bit of fizz and also compliment the flavors already present in the cocktail.  See, the budding home bartender was already thinking of ways elevate the drink!  I would muddle, shake and pour over standard white elongated ice cubes.



Cast of characters, with mint leading the way.

15 or so years later, this is how I make em.  The only thing that has not changed is the mint.  You gotta use mint and it's gotta be fresh.  I swapped the granulated sugar for simple syrup to cut back on leftover granules that didn't dissolve while muddling.  And if you muddle the sugar and mint long enough for the sugar to completely dissolve, the mint will be pulverized to the point that it will be pulverized and bitter.  That's a no-no.  Next up, I bought Persian limes (the bigger of the 2 varieties sold in supermarkets) to use instead of the key limes I had out back.  The difference is really a matter of taste (I used to love my mojitos on the sour side).  If you want key lime and not mint to be featured in your mojito, by all means...  But if you're making a proper mojito, mint should be in the foreground.  Moving on - rather than using light rum, I make my mojitos with a slightly aged rum, just to impart more flavor and add a bit of depth.       



Taken from The PDT Cocktail Book.


Last but not least, I shake vigorously with ice made from drinking water (not tap like I used to) and I double strain over a Collin's glass filled with more fresh ice (or 1 long ice cube like I have now) and I top with club soda (not lemon-lime soda - it only brings artificial flavors to the party) for some effervescence.  Now, throw in a long straw to give the drink a little stir to work the bubbles around.  Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint and that is all she wrote.  Cheers! 

 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saisan du Buff

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I've had a couple of Saison's now but this one was unusual.



 Not in a bad way, but a weird way. 



I like experimental, out of the box thinking, beer.  It's probably why I love The Bruery's releases as much as I do.  


But this collaboration between Stone, Dogfish & Victory was unique, to say the very least.  I tried Victory's bottle (all 3 breweries bottled them under their label) from our stash at work.



Saison du Buff is honey in color with pine and citrus aromatics.  It pours a vivid white head with decent retention. The flavor is hoppy with malt and rosemary dominating.  Carbonation was mild.  While this beer is brewed with parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary, rosemary takes the lead.  Apparently, each brewery crafted this beer with slight modifications so I'm curious how the other 2 turned out.  Either way, I wasn't a huge fan of this beer.  I'm glad I tried it but it's not something I would drink on its own.  But maybe with a roast chicken?  Who knows.  As much as I like rosemary, I don't think I like it so pungent in my beer.



Caña Rum Bar (Los Angeles - Downtown)

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Signage.



Luau Old Fashioned.  

I liked our bartender's joke to slap an umbrella on this drink.  Funny guy!   



The specifics.



Heroic Dose.



I've been watching my intake lately so I got this healthful little number.



Holy cow!! This dude has his own line of rum??  I wonder who this ole distinguished looking chap is/was.  Hmmmm, I must investigate.  



Señor Fish (Los Angeles - Little Tokyo)

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Signage.



Chips, salsa y guacamole.  

I've never had a restaurant send out guac with chips n salsa so that was cool.  But why in plastic to-go containers.  As far as the quality of the salsa and guacamole; middle of the road.


 
Costa Azul - Bacon wrapped shrimp with Monterrey cheese on telera bread.  

This was just pitiful.  I didn't get any cheese.  And I'm not so certain that was a bad thing necessarily.  And what's with the mound of mayo in the center over the lemon?  What was the point of the toasted then microwaved bread?  That's what it seemed like anyway.  This was the worst dish I've had anywhere.  Just awful.



 Tacos - the real reason we came here.



Fried Shrimp Taco.


 Ensenada FishTaco & Battered Cod Taco.

We went specifically for the fish tacos, however.  All I got to say is, "Damn!"  What a huge disappointment.  Small tortillas, too much slaw, not enough seafood.  Flavorless sauces...and no lime to squeeze over the top.  I had higher hopes for a place that covets fish as these guys supposedly do.  I had loftier expectations for a restaurant that has expanded by 5 restaurants in the last few years.  Never again.