April 30, 2010
Sorry for the gap in posts, its been a pretty busy week. But - a boys gotta eat. And as you probably know, I'm addicted to LA's twittering gourmet food trucks, so every Tuesday a trip to the fairly new LAX Food Truck Lot is a must for me. This week was a tough one, with so many different trucks offering things that sounded really good. The @LeesPhilly truck seemed to have the biggest crowds for their Gogi Beef Cheesesteaks, but that sounded like too much food - no way to try more than one truck if I got that. So my main stop ended up being the @CrepenAround truck. They actually recognized me as I was walking by (uh oh, my groupiness is getting noticed), so I asked them about a special they had tweeted the night before that I didn't see posted. They had forgotten about it, but offered to make it for me. It turns out they hadn't even made one for themselves yet, it was a new creation: Salmon, cream cheese, capers, greens, onions and viniagrette. It was even better than I expected. The guys were super nice and while talking to them later also dropped the idea of a dessert maple crepe - they liked the idea, so maybe they'll give it a try sometime. I had enough room to try something else small, so went for a chicken skewer from the @Louks gourmet greek truck. Again, I was surprised - the meat was more tender and full of spices and flavor than I expected - not your ordinary skewer. I wish I had more room to try more things, but as it was, that was enough to end up being the only food I ate that day. A good break in a busy week.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:49 PM
April 27, 2010
If you've been on the beach in LA the last few days, you may have noticed some changes to the lifeguard towers. From May to September, 150 lifeguard towers stretching 30 miles from Malibu to Point Vicente will become an art installation of vivid colors and designs in the latest project by the Massey Brothers' Portraits of Hope. Area youth from schools, hospitals and other service groups will create and install the project. In preparation, the railings of the lifeguard towers were painted bright colors by volunteers this past weekend. The rest of the installation happens later, but the color is already beginning to show.
April 26, 2010
April 24, 2010
If you've followed me a while, you know this is one of my favorite events of the year. Today was the 1st 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational Tournament. After a dismal event last year, this year was really well done. This was our third year judging, and the changes they've made really helped to accommodate an event that had unexpectedly ballooned larger than they knew how to handle. I read that last year they planned for 3,000 people and got 5,000. This year they planned for 10,000. Tickets and judging registration were done in advance online this year, so the huge line that wrapped around the block when we got there was fast and easy getting us into LA Center Studios - a sprawling new location for the fest. We bypassed the vendor and sponsor areas and made a pitstop at the beer garden. Unfortunately it was basically five versions of IPA's. blech. I'm sure the hipsters loved it, but it was the one big failure of the fest this year. We moved on to the main event - the cheese! We got into the judging area near the end of the "missionary position" entries (cheese, bread, butter only) and got a couple samples of tasty cheesy goodness. That wrapped quick, so we went back out to the sponsor area. Tillamook replaced Kraft this year - and the difference was huge. The free giveaway grilled cheeses Tillamook was giving away were really damn tasty instead of the barely passable Kraft ones last year. They used sourdough, a medium cheddar and clearly some kind of good butter. The line was fast, and they were churning out tons of those - even as we left at the end of the day. Tillamook deserves kudos for really doing it up right. Then it was back to the judging for the "Kama Sutra" category, which basically allows anything as long as the sammich is 60% cheese. We sampled a lot here. A lot of the competitors tried a little too hard here too. Some used bread that was too thick to allow for grilling - great at home, but in a time crunch and limited situation, it was a downfall. Others lost out in their own marketing. For instance, one entry was billed as being all about the bacon, yet the bacon was hardly noticeable in the taste. It was a perfectly good combo of ingredients, but because it was promoted for the bacon, it ended up being disappointing. That said, there were plenty of amazing entries. Surprisingly a couple of the best were simple and unassuming veggie entries. By the time that wrapped, we were ready for the beer garden again (I never did see non-alcoholic drinks sold anywhere). Finally, the last category, "Honey Pot," was up. Again, anything goes, but entries in this category are to be sweet, not savory. By this time, the long day was clearly getting to everyone. Others judging were cranky at each other waiting and trying for samples. Competitors were reluctant to give out samples. One even was giving out samples but not ballots, saying "tell us if you like it and we'll give you a ballot." The saving grace was one finished competitor walking around with samples they made just for fun; and a team of high school students who slowly and awkwardly put together a really wonderful slightly sweet concoction with carmelized pear and boysenberry, named "secret." Perfect ending. With an event as big as this has gotten, its hard to satisfy everyone or make everything perfect, but especially after last year, this was the makings of a very Merry Cheezmas to all!
April 22, 2010
a few slivers from jury duty a couple weeks ago. Shots of Gehry's Walt Disney Hall exterior are pretty common, but here are some glimpses of the interior. For jury duty, you park in the parking lots underneath the hall, so I snapped these on my walk through. The space is warmer and more intimate than I would expect, but carries on the buildings trademark curves with a few surprise glimpses to the sky.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:26 PM
April 21, 2010
There's no better way to be back in LA than to go after some food trucks. So I wasn't gonna let the rain yesterday keep me away from the Tuesday LAX Food Truck Lot. My friend Alan joined me for it, and considering the rain, the crowd was pretty good (though I'm sure it wasn't too great in general for the trucks.) This week I sampled the @FlyingPigTruck which blends Asian/Pacific Rim flavors with French techniques. I was hoping for their crab balls, but they were out (I guess business must not have been that bad), so I went for their sliders. They were different than I expected, and as is often the case with Twittering gourmet food trucks - that's a good thing. They were beef and pork - not sure if they were mixed or one of each because they both tasted about the same, but they had a crispy edge to them that was actually pretty good. The daikon sprouts (I have no idea what those are) added a great contrast. I also went for the @DelsLA frozen watermelon lemonade, which was good, but I probably should have gone for the original. A pork quesadilla from @CalbiBBQ was also good, but left me thinking I should have chosen something different. If there's any challenge to the truck lots, its finding dishes small enough to sample more than one truck. Yeah, its a rough life.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:28 PM
April 20, 2010
Back home at the beach now, but my flight out of Fort Lauderdale wasn't until the evening yesterday. That ended up giving me a pretty leisurely day of catching up from the weekend, doing some work in the hotel lobby, and just driving around town - and of course a stop at Primanti Bros - an outpost of the legendary Pittsburgh sandwich shop. I have to admit, they never taste quite as good as in Pittsburgh, but they're still something else and worth the stop. These are just snaps and slivers from yesterday's roamings. Despite the great weekend, its still good to be home.
Posted by Jon Berry at 9:06 PM
April 19, 2010
And another rodeo weekend has come and gone. Fort Lauderdale is one of the largest and always a lot of fun - really well run and organized, plus a great venue from the arena to the hotel to the bar. Sunday brought in some big rainstorms, so I expected a much smaller crowd, but it actually seemed like the biggest crowd I've ever seen here on a Sunday. It might have just been that no one wanted to leave the covered arena after getting there. I'm sure it put a damper on the vendors sales, but from my end, it was just as fun as ever. The rain just added a little flavor, not to mention keeping things cool. Cap it off with a night of beer, two-stepping, and friends and there isn't a lot more you could ask for.
Posted by Jon Berry at 10:44 AM
April 18, 2010
I promised better shots in the last post and, well... um... ok maybe in the next one. Regardless, here are a few shots from the rodeo yesterday. Of course there is the good one of the lady in the orange dress with her turkey leg - cracked me up how she kept it perfectly and delicately perched right next to her head. Otherwise, just the usual fun rodeo day, which is why I kept forgetting to snap pics. My cousins Chris and Cindy did come up for dinner and went out to the bar afterwards; was a great time. Of course I'm moving slowly today after all that, but gotta get on out for day two even though it is raining, so I'll leave this post at that and get on my way...
Posted by Jon Berry at 9:41 AM