Sunday, March 28, 2010

But it might be soon

We were at brunch today, and my son was playing with my husband's phone.

My son:  What's this one? Google mobile?
My husband:  You can use it to search by voice.

There is a pause while my son taps on the screen.  Suddenly he puts the phone to his mouth and yells:


Conversations around us cease.   Forks drop and heads swivel towards our table.   My husband looks over and says exasperatedly,

"Google's not deaf!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Foodie Girls Lunch Brigade - Episode 13

Despite our somewhat deserved reputation as dabbling dilettantes, flitting from place to place based on little more than wistful e-mails or random pork cravings, the FG's can, in fact, be highly efficient.   We've now done it exactly once.   

Episode 13 - We meet and eat at Street

It helped, of course, that Susan Feniger's Street made it incredibly easy for us to check the following global cuisines* off our list in one fell swoop:


Honestly, I don't know how much more efficient seven hungry people** could possibly be in an hour.

This place was conceived as a way for the chef***, known primarily as a Latin food diva and one of the lively co-creators of Border Grill, to showcase the multitude of global street food and flavors she fell in love with while traveling all over the world.   As a one-stop shop, it succeeds amazingly well.    It is by no means real street food.  It's fancier, consciously chef-created, and decidedly at home in the trendy digs the restaurant occupies.  Plus there are elaborate cocktail pairings, wines and craft beers, all priced, like the food, at upscale indoor rates.  That being said, the place is energetic, comfortable, and very fun.   We liked being there from the moment we walked in, and we had a hard time leaving our spot on the patio.   The menu, with its cleverly stenciled cover, felt and read like a "greatest hits" compilation:  Nothing had any relationship to anything else, but each individual thing sounded fantastic.    And for the most part, the dishes were terrific.  With such a diversity of carefully curated food, everything we ordered had at least one big fan, and a few got universal raves.  

Our tour started with an odd savory marshmallow crispy treat, probably of Indian provenance.  Puffed millet with curry and marshmallows.  But it was on the house, so there you go.  And the gorgeous assortment of drinks made the millet go down a lot easier:  a melon and beet aqua fresca, a concoction of mint and fresh ginger, a bittersweet lemonade, and a lethally alcoholic version of a New Orleans Sazerac.

The waiter insisted we try the Kaya toast, from Singapore.  Coconut jam on thickly buttered toast, to be dipped into a sunny side up egg laced with dark soy sauce and a smattering of micro arugula.   I was done after one bite, others were lukewarm, but FG8 loved it.

Everybody adored the Korean dumplings, made of sweet potato noodles that were crispy on the outside, filled with vegetables and drizzled with a tangy sweet and sour sesame sauce.  

The Ukranian spinach and cheese dumplings with sour cream were also a hit. A Jerusalem bread salad was huge and briny, with cucumbers, feta, and toasted olive bread.   FG8 was all over this one, too.****

From the selection of "handhelds" (otherwise known as sandwiches), the clear favorite was the beef brisket reuben.  The meat was fork-tender, rich, and perfectly paired with the buttery rye toast, sauerkraut, caramelized onions and melted Jarlsberg cheese.  A Vietnamese pulled-pork sandwich exploded with flavor in every bite:  peppercorns, anise, kafir-lime.  Served with fried plantains and crispy shrimp crackers, it wowed the table. The spicy fish Po-Boy was very tasty, but the lamb taquitos, while good, paled in comparison to the other choices.

Of the larger plates, the tempura fried chicken made people quite happy, as did the yummy cold soba noodles that came with it, but the soft pretzel platter fell flat.   Yes, the smoked fish salad was good, but the pretzel was overdone and the tiny squares of cheese in a pile made no sense.

As the last dishes were cleared away and coffee came, we all agreed that we'd had a great lunch.  But each one of our "great lunches" was different than everyone else's, even though we'd been served the same things.  Mine was those dumplings, the reuben and the pulled pork sandwich.  For others, it was the Jerusalem salad and the Po Boy.   Still others would return for the chicken and the coconut toast.  That's both the fun and the oddity of Street.

Is it the same as being on a sweltering hot sidewalk in Korea eating dumplings fresh from a guy with a sizzling wok on a cart?  No.  It's not even the same as going to an authentic Mexican dive in East LA.  And it's about 4 times as expensive as either of those options.*****    But it is like going on a luxury whirlwind tour with an expert who not only knows her stuff, but loves sharing it with you. 

FG Final Verdict?  Street is ON the list
Pricing info:  Street bites & salads $7-12, handhelds & larger plates $10-16
FG Value Rating: Fair deal -- barely.  The prices are high but the portions, especially on the larger dishes, are substantial and easy to share.

Ready for more?  Want to know where we're going next?  Come visit the Foodie Girls on our website!  More good stuff for your rumbling tummy.

*There was also a glass of sparkling French rose, so we could consider that country covered as well.
**I was joined by FG3, FG7, FG8, and a brand new member, FG14.  In a first, we also had two FG husbands come for lunch.   We were careful to impress upon the men how much of a privilege it was for them to be there, and they rose to the occasion beautifully.  They ordered well, shared generously, and in general treated the whole thing with the appropriate reverence.  
*** She'll be bringing her global flair to the upcoming season of Top Chef Masters on Bravo as a contestant.  Go Susan!  Bring home a win for LA!
**** I hesitate to speculate that her enthusiasm was at all related to that Sazerac.
***** This was by far our most expensive outing.  The bill came to $35 per person, but we did order a ton of food, alcohol, and coffee.  The alcohol and coffee, at least, are unusual for us.  In reality, if you came for lunch on your own, you'd probably get out of there for about $25, with a drink and tip.  But still!  There's also an interesting article in Newsweek about the incongruity of this whole "upscale street food" trend.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Points of pride

He was in a crowd of thousands.  She was up there all alone.
She walked slowly, stood, and faced them.
He ran on for miles and hours.
He got tired, hot and thirsty.  His body ached and muscles screamed.
She spoke up, bashful but firm.
Her voice sang pure and sweet and clear.
He pushed himself.  Far.  Then further.  
The echoing song was loud and sure.
Bands were playing.  Spectators cheered.
Water cups fell down like snow.
She ended with a grin that pierced me.
He came across the finish line.   We howled.

My daughter, teaching a song to the entire school community on a Friday morning.

My husband, completing his first marathon*.

* When my mom heard he had finished, she was also very proud.

"You know," she said, "Oprah did that."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What a Top Chef loser cooks for dinner

Spring cherry tomatoes with Parmesan and basil
Mixed heirloom lettuces with balsamic vinaigrette*
Grilled broccolini with dates, honey, vinegar and bacon
Burrata and squash crostini with minted apple salsa
Spring risotto with king crab, snap peas and baby radishes
Spice-smoked tri-tip with fresh herb pesto
Grilled chicken breasts with a ridiculously tasty natural jus
Roasted whitefish with leek puree, buerre blanc, preserved lemon and grilled collard greens
Strawberry rhubarb bread pudding with Chantilly cream and vanilla ice cream

Tom, Padma, Gail.
What were you thinking?
CJ* rocks.

CJ's Tomatoes
Find a good farmer.
Get a bunch of his juiciest, sweetest baby cherry tomatoes.
Wash them. (They may still be warm from the sun at this point.  This is OK.)
Place in large bowl.
Chop some fresh basil into thin strips, and add to bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil, toss.
Take some excellent aged Parmesan.  Shave a generous amount onto the bowl.
Toss again.
Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Let obnoxious nosy guest with camera have a spoonful ahead of time.

Serve the rest of the group immediately.

* Just a guess that he may still be using his old recipe for this one.

** Season Three Top Chef contestant Chris "CJ" Jacobson, eliminated for bad broccolini on a plane.   Our bacon-date broccolini was, on the other hand, a total winner! He's currently executive chef at The Yard in Santa Monica, when he hasn't been pressed in to creating dinner as an auction prize for a bunch of famished foodie parents as part of our recent school fundraiser.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Not in the cards

I suppose it was a slippery slope that began with the manicure, but I admit to being quite excited about the ladies' night out.  A bevy of moms gathering for an evening of cocktails, canapes, and tarot card readings*.   Yes!

The morning of the party, I drove my daughter to school and took the dog to the park.   After the requisite snuffling, romping and depositing**, I dialed into a board meeting for a company perilously low on cash.   Two hours and a long Powerpoint*** discussion later, it looked like the company would pull through****.    Relieved, I returned a call from my mom.

Me:  Hi Mom!  What's up?
Her:  Was everything OK at the post office?

I draw a blank for a moment, and then suddenly remember that I was supposed to have mailed off her package to my brother-in-law for his birthday.   She had provided a lovely tin, a handwritten birthday card, and a pre-addressed box complete with just the right amount of bubble-wrap cushioning for the tin to nestle snugly into said box.    She barely masked her disappointment when I showed up to take her to the grocery store the day before without the missing ingredient:  a pound of his favorite mixed nuts from the LA Farmer's Market.   Only by offering to fill the tin myself and personally escort the completed gift to the post office had she been consoled.  Oh, that post office!

Me: Yep.  It's all taken care of.
Her:  Oh, that's such good news.  I've been so worried.
Me:  No need to worry, Mom.
Her:  OK.  Bye!

I get in the car and head over the hill.   Traffic is terrible.  I pull into a space and call my husband.

Me:  Can you pick up from school today?
Him:  Where are you?
Me:  At the market by The Grove.  I had to get some nuts.
Him:  You had to get some nuts.
Me:  Mixed nuts.  I told Mom I'd get them for Clarence but I forgot, so now I'm getting them.
Him:  And you had to go all the way there to get nuts?  I'm pretty sure they have nuts in the Valley.
Me:  Not these nuts.  He loves these nuts*****.  Mom wants him to have these nuts.
Him:  Why don't you ever say no to your mother?
Me:  You try saying no to my mother.
Him:  I'll do pick-up.

I get the nuts.  I get back in the car and head for home. I've already decided to fork over the cost of UPS second day air for the package so I can put off the actual mailing part until tomorrow.  It is T minus 90 minutes until I escape to the party, and I am anticipating a long soothing bath as I walk in the door.    I arrive to find my daughter unpacking a giant plastic bag of what looks suspiciously like art supplies onto the kitchen table.

Her:  Hi Mom!  I have to have a satyr costume for school tomorrow.  Dad took me to Michael's and said I should wait for you to put it together.
Me:  He said that, huh?
Her:  Where's the glue gun?
Him:  The silver poster board is for the armor, and she said something about horns.  I'll be in my office.
Her:  I'm going to make the beard out of felt and these mini pom-pom balls, and I'm pretty sure I have enough here for my hooves.  What do you think? 

I plug in the glue gun, put the nuts on the counter and reach for the pipe cleaners.   A few tantrums later******, I'm able to leave her with a stapler, some elastic, and a sharpie and make my way, at last, to the party.  

Loaded up on artichoke dip and a pomegranate and Proseco cocktail, my turn with the tarot reader finally arrives.   I tap a deck.  She deals the cards one by one.

Her:  The Queen of Wands.  That's you.
(A glue gun is like a wand, yes?)
Her:  The King of Wands.  That's your husband.  I see that you are very close to him.  The bond is strong.
(Check.  Also may be another reference to glue gun.)
Her:  This card shows a battle.  You have survived something very tiring.
(She's good.)
Her:  Some people worry about getting the Death card.  You shouldn't.  It means transformation.  A new beginning.
Me:  But it could mean death?  Like for a teacher who assigns satyr costumes without any warning?
Her:  I don't see that.
(I knew this was a crock.)
Her:  Now this one.  It's a very interesting card, and I see this very strongly for you.   You need to be more selfish.   There are many forces pulling at you, and you need to take charge and do more for yourself.
(Now that's more like it!)

We talk and drink more and eat decadent bites of chocolate covered red velvet cake for dessert.  This being selfish thing is totally working for me.

I walk in the door and find my husband flaked out on the couch.

Him:  How was your night?
Me:  Wonderful.  Thanks so much for watching everyone.   How was your night?
Him:  Pretty good.  Except that we came back from dinner and the dog had pushed the back door open.  He made a mess out of some kind of a paper bag in the driveway.
Me:  Oh god.
Him:  What?

The next day, after an unpleasant morning with my plastic bag at the park, and waiting an hour to see my daughter the satyr cavort in her armor and horns for two minutes, I get in the car and drive back over the hill.


* In a brilliant fundraising move by my daughter's school, you could get a tax deduction for leaving your kids at home while you hang out and drink with your girlfriends.   The party was sold out in seconds.
** Him, not me.

Credit to this blog for the hilarious image referencing Edward Tufte, eminent critic of all things Powerpoint.
**** I'm pretty sure that was the outcome.  There seemed to be a lot of mumbling and people asking if I was still on the phone.  I was.
***** It's true that for some reason he really loves these particular nuts.  When I was in miracle aunt mode during my niece's recent visit, we spent an afternoon at the American Girl store.  She had called her dad to gush about her new treasures as soon as we got home, and after the appropriate "oohing" and "aahing" he asked my sister quietly, "Did you happen to get any nuts?"
****** One for her and one for me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Foodie Girls Lunch Brigade - Episode 12

It was a perfect storm of desire.    First, our own unsatisfied urges, so cruelly aroused and doused by Spoc's.  Then, the by now familiar e-mail missive from FG2:  "Should we defy gravity and go for another place?  Downtown for Wurstkuche?"  And, as a climax, FG3's report of tantalizing tater tots and Jonathan Gold's list of 99 Things to Eat in LA Before You Die, sporting this description of Fab Hot Dog's Street dog:

"Actually, you should be eating this after midnight somewhere out on Whittier Boulevard, cooked on a cheap device crudely welded to a stolen shopping cart by a guy who knows that sheriff's deputies are required to demolish the rig on sight. Street dogs always taste better that way: wrapped in bacon, squirted with mayonnaise and ketchup, and piled with grilled onions, peppers and grilled chiles...the street dog is bad to the bone, chips of which you can probably find in the meat. But sometimes you want all of the flavor and none of the salmonella. At such times, there is always Reseda."

Disease free and loaded?  It was too much to resist.  We needed a big fat sausage.  And we needed it now.

Episode 12:  Doubling down on the dogs

The momentum was all Fab's.  We had a quorum of FG's, primed and ready for action.  Yet the siren call of the downtown sausages pulled.  It pulled hard.   Hungrily, greedily, we abandoned the niceties and our base instincts took over.  We would do both places.   And we would not wait a proper interval.   Oh no!  We would do them back to back.   We would be... dog harlots*.

But not strictly for our own pleasure!  This would be an orgy of eating for the greater good.  Only by virtue of intimate comparisons between the contenders could we possibly know which of these sly dogs would ultimately win our FG hearts.

Bachelor #1:  Wurstkuche

After being detoured off our planned route by a street closure, we found ourselves driving through parts of LA that most people only see when an entire block of abandoned warehouses is being blown up in a Jackie Chan movie.   We turned left past a line of people and their rusted grocery carts** waiting outside social services, down an alley, and found an open parking space on the street.   It was broad daylight, and things seemed quiet enough, so we got out of the car and headed for the brick building on the corner.   Ducking through the oversized wooden door, we found ourselves in a cavernous, cool (as in very industrial-hip) room, with sunlight streaming through narrow windows and skylights, a gleaming bar with what seemed like a hundred shiny beer taps emerging from the walls, long communal chunky wooden tables and a set up in the corner for a DJ.   A youthful, good looking guy in a fitted gray t-shirt approached us, smiling.

Him:  Can I help you?
FG2:  Is this the hot dog place?

His smile gets tight around the edges.

Him:  Sausages.
FG2:  Oh, so sorry.
Him:  (a bit frostily) You order around the corner.

We hurried along a dark, narrow passageway to the front, and beheld the case of goodies.   Bratwurst.  Bockwusrt.  Kielbasa.   Austin Blues.   Mango Jalapeno.  Duck and Bacon.  Alligator Andouille.  Rattlesnake and Rabbit.   All grilled to order, topped with sweet  peppers, hot peppers, caramelized onions, sauerkraut.  Belgian Fries with truffle oil, assorted dipping sauces, and a bevy of gourmet mustards to choose from.   We drooled.

Sirens wailed.  Through the open doorway, we could see paramedics, police and fire engines were surrounding a derelict hotel across the street.   An EMT rolled an empty stretcher down the sidewalk.   Someone said something about a stabbing.   But then it was our turn at the register.

After ordering six dogs (excuse me, sausages!) for the four of us, fries and drinks, we found a place to perch in the back room, amid a group of businessmen in suits and a scattering of hipster couples.    The artisan sodas were both cunningly bottled and highly refreshing. The food?  Fantastic.   The sausages, one and all, delivered that indescribably satsifying crisp snap and burst of hot, meaty flavor with every mouthful.  They were grilled to perfection. 

The duck and bacon was rich, earthy and warm.   The bratwurst was light, almost lemony, and practically sang with the sauerkraut and country mustard on top.   The Austin Blues tasted like Texas, full of smoke in a really good way.   The Santa Fe seamlessly blended turkey, jack cheese and peppers into a whole new food group.   The only slight disappointment was the kielbasa, but FG13 pointed out that it may have suffered only by comparison to its more exotic brethren.   The buns, admittedly only an accessory to the main event, I found a bit dry and almost stale, but this did not seem to bother the others.  

And the fries, thick cut, golden brown, and flecked with sea salt, were awesome.   The chipotle aioli was the hands down favorite sauce, but the curry ketchup and blue cheese bacon dip did not disappoint.   Overall, this was a brilliant, brilliant lunch, and we loved it. 

Perhaps the real signs of success were these:  FG2 and FG13 left the building with bulging brown bags of sausages to cook at home for dinner that night.  And, when we emerged into the sun, all trace of the medical emergency was gone.  The coast was clear, the trees were in bloom, our stomachs were groaning with happiness, and all was well with the world.

Bachelor #2 - Fab Hot Dogs

The very next day, we convened at a tiny storefront on dilapidated block in the flats of the San Fernando Valley.    It's about 25 miles away from Wurstkuche in distance, and about a million miles away in everything else.

To wit:  If you ordered a "sausage" here I'm sure they'd look at you funny if they had the time to spare.    The entire menu is an homage to iconic hot dogs from all over the US.  Chicago Dogs, Kansas City Dogs, Coney Islanders and Sonora Dogs.   They have something called "the Ripper", a deep fried monster with a blistered casing in a bun.    They have burgers on the menu, but we didn't see a single one cross the counter.     A harried lady in a baseball cap and sweatshirt recommends the tater tots, scribbles your order down and passes it less than a foot to the cook hovering over the griddle behind her.     Not one thing is Belgian.   The sodas are in paper cups from a fountain that is barely squeezed into a nook behind the fridge.   The mustard is yellow, the ketchup is Heinz, and the relish is bright green or dark green, your choice.   If you want a DJ to go with your meal, turn on the radio and eat in the car.        

Atmosphere be damned.   The price tag here was easily half of what it was downtown***.  We had a table (Formica, natch!), a sunny day, and lots to talk about.  We eat and gab and eat and gab some more.  Refill our Diet Cokes and keep talking.   Before we know it, the afternoon has gotten away from us and I have to pull our thoughts back to the food.

And?  It was good.  Last meal good?  Absolutely not.  The Kansas City, bacon wrapped, with BBQ sauce, shredded cheddar and onions is mighty tasty and the best of the bunch.   The spicy polish is juicy and fiery.  The Chicago dog has all the right stuff on it, but the proportion of dog to bun is off.  The BLT has too much L and not enough T or B.  And the famous "Ripper" is curiously bland.****

But what the dogs lack is more than made up for in the potato department.   Fab's knows fries!  They make near-perfect shoestrings, crunchy on the outside,  dusted with seasoned salt and, in some cases buried beneath a glistening pile of delicious, lightly grilled chopped garlic.    The recommended tater tots are, if possible, even better.  Done to an almost caramelized golden crunch, they burst with salty flavor in every bite.  De-lish!

After giving ourselves over to dogs all around town, was our desire sated?  Yes, indeed. At least for a week or two.  But we'll be back on the prowl again soon. 

FG final verdict?  Bachelor #1, come on down! But Bachelor #2, you made us happy, too.  Both places are ON the list!
Pricing info:  WK - Dogs $6 to 8, fries $4.50 to 6; Fabs - Dogs $3-5, sides $1.50
Value rating: WK - Fair deal, Fabs - A steal!

* OK, a confession.  I, FG1, am the only actual hot dog slut.  The rest of the FG's remain relatively chaste in this department.  FG2, FG3, and our newest addition, FG13, joined me at Wurstkuche, while FG6, FG7, and FG10 were in the Fab's foursome.   I alone, apparently, have no shame.  
** Hey, maybe this was the right place?  See Jonathan Gold quote, above.
*** Even with our 15% KCRW fringe benefits discount, the WK lunch was not cheap.
*** This may be a situation where the hot dogs get better in volume.  At the table next to us, two guys had 8 completely loaded dogs between them, with fries and tater tots.  They were blissfully happy with their meal.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bereavement Pasta

The ostensible reason for me getting out the casserole dish and crumbling sausage into the pot was to bring a meal to a friend whose father died over the weekend. But who was I fooling?

My niece and sister were on a plane back to Michigan, and the house was terribly quiet.

I got out two casserole dishes.

Bereavement Baked Pasta
Adapted from Seriously Simple, by Diane Rossen Worthington. This also happens to be a great dish for a completely grief-free ski vacation dinner.

1 1/2-2 lbs. spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 28 oz. cans or jars of good quality marinara sauce
6 Tbs. prepared basil pesto
2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lb penne pasta
10 oz. Parano, smoked gouda, fontina, or mozzarella cheese, or a mix of all of them, diced
1 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

Heat a large, heavy pot over medium high heat and add the sausage. Cook, breaking up with a spoon, until crumbled and no pinkness remains, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook for 5 more minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add marinara sauce and oregano, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the pesto, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well. Preheat the oven to 375, and get out one large (13x9) or two medium baking dishes. Spread a thin layer of the red sauce on the bottom of the pan(s).

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, the rest of the sauce, the diced cheeses, 1/2 c. of the shredded Parmesan, and the basil leaves, mixing well to combine. Spoon the mixture into the baking pan(s), and sprinkle the remaining 1 c. of Parmesan cheese on top. *

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the casserole begins to bubble and the cheese is melted and light golden brown. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then serve and feel a little better.

Click to Print this recipe!

* You can freeze or refrigerate the whole thing at this point, and it keeps beautifully. If frozen, defrost before proceeding as directed, and if it was in the fridge, allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes first.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Men are from a planet with maid service

My version of a rainy day family activity? Marathon monopoly and baking stuff that's really fattening.

My husband's?

Rainy Day Mess

1 large bowl
several boxes of cheap cornstarch
food coloring
tablecloth you don't want any more
small, washable objects to submerge (keys, marbles, coins, bottle caps, mismatched doll parts)
industrial strength soap
laundry room

Dump boxes of cornstarch in the bowl. Add between 1 and 1 1/2 times as much water as cornstarch. Mix with your hands until it's nice and goopy. If you use less water, the glop will be slightly firm, like shiny chalky jello. If you add more water, it's just gooey and slimy. Drop in as much food color as you want. Mix again, making sure to slop a good portion onto the table and everybody's clothes while you're at it. This step can last as long as an hour.

When your audience begins to get bored, start dropping objects into the bowl. They will sink into oblivion. Kids will then dive in to try and find the objects, chanting loudly with each new discovery. They will then delightedly drop objects back in and start over. Seriously, it totally works.

After a few more hours have passed, try to end activity when all objects are out of the goop. Otherwise you will either have to fish them out yourself or toss them. Put kids into bathtub with industrial strength soap. Bundle up clothes and bring immediately to laundry room. Tip contents of bowl into waterproof trash bag. Roll up tablecloth and add to trash. Wait a day, then vacuum up caked, dry residue of multiple enthusiastic drips from rug. Hide any remaining cornstarch and food coloring from husband.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Twitter is an aunt's best friend

Hmm. What to do for an encore?

The beach?
Done it.

Done it.

The alley behind Colorado Ave. between noon and 2 pm on a Thursday?

There was...The Grilled Cheese Truck. Just like its twitter feed said.

It was literally in an alley

Parked just past a bunch of dumpsters (full ones, by the way)

It was 1:15 pm. There was a long line of excited, hungry people. We were excited, hungry people. This was perfect!

Well, not so perfect. This was the sign held by the person right in front of us in line. We were crushed. He was firm. The sign was not for sale. His order had no room for three more. He was unmoved by a child from thousands of miles away whose bottom lip was trembling, just like her aunt's. He was a total jerk*.

This was that same sign 10 minutes later, now in the possession of my sister and another girl who, like us, had been emitting pitiful wails of woe but had stayed, hoping against hope for a miracle. A kindly security guard for the alley convinced the grilled cheese truck management to have pity on us. The jerk reluctantly handed it over.

They were out of the short ribs, so the Cheesy Mac & Rib Melt would have to wait for another day.

Our sandwiches emerge from the window, piping hot off the grill.

Even better, our drinks emerge from the bin, refreshingly cold from the ice!

Tater tots with rich garlic aioli and tangy homemade BBQ dipping sauces. Yum!

Today's special: Club Melt, with Provolone, smoked turkey, avocado, bacon and tomato on perfectly crisp, buttery wheat bread. A great, great sandwich.

My "Plain and Simple" with Gruyere, bacon, and apple slices on cranberry walnut bread. I ate every last bite and loved it.

And yes, they do make a mighty tasty $3 grilled cheese with just cheese and bread.

Auntie Shar comes through again! Thank you, Grilled Cheese Truck!!!

* It turns out he was bribed with a promise of free tater tots to be mean to everyone who showed up after him. He became much nicer once they gave him the tater tots even though he wasn't actually the last guy being served.