for March, 2011
There’s something going on in the 99 Cents Store parking lot in Highland Park. And it involves food. Every Tuesday night from 5:30 to 9, Figueroa Produce hosts Din Din A Go Go, billed as a “weekly food truck feast” with vegan-friendly options. A little more than a month old, the event has become an event, attracting a wide variety of local Highland Park residents—young folks, old folks, hipsters, families and more than a few dog owners.
I made my way over last Tuesday and, after finagling a parking space, I found a good selection of quality food trucks, including Ahn-Joo, the popular Korean snack bar on wheels, Lomo Arigato, serving Peruvian-Japanese fusion, The Dim Sum Truck and the Filipino Tapa Boy. Also present was a really friendly vibe aided by the most popular conversation starter of the night: “where’d you get that?”
“Do you do sandwiches?”
“What, you never had my sandwich?” said the older man with an Italian accent behind the counter.
“No,” Josh replied.
“Hey, get over here!” the man yelled to a guy looking at bottles of olive oil. “This guy’s never had my sandwich.”
“Oh,” said the olive oil guy, “he makes a good sandwich. No lettuce or tomatoes or anything, but he makes a good sandwich.”
“Trust me,” the Italian man said. “I’ll make you a good sandwich.”
So we did, and he did. The man’s name is Rosario, and he’s been behind the deli counter at Roma Market since 1955, the year his family moved to Pasadena from Sicily. The market, itself, is small strip mall affair, filled to the brim with fresh produce and a substantial array of imported Italian goods. The deli counter is tucked away and tiny, but it’s big enough to fit Rosario’s stool and a satisfying selection cheeses and meats.
I guess you can’t really call it ice “cream”, but the raw vegan desserts at KindKreme will most likely con your cravings into submission.
Taking up half of the Sunset Blvd. storefront most recently occupied by Mooi, this is the small vegan chain’s third Los Angeles location. Also sharing the new space is Sage Organic Vegan, a full-service restaurant (from the owners of Millie’s) that’s already earning heaps of praise—the Jamaican Jerk Burger is suppose to be out of hand. But we went strictly for some scoops.
The flavors available during my visit—honey chai, banana chocolate swirl, chocolate salted caramel, ginger basil among them—made for some tough choices. But, I eventually settled on chocolate and caramel apple, both of which were rich, creamy and very satisfying. The well-rounded texture is created by non-dairy bases of coconut, almonds, almond milk and cashews. I guess that also makes this stuff nutritious. Yes!
Last summer I had a dramatic mole experience at the 3rd Annual Feria de Los Moles. Well, a few actually, but the most pivotal of all happened when I sunk my teeth into a succulent piece of pork souped-up in Pueblan mole verde from Antojitos de mi Abuelita. “Divine” is the only word that accurately describes the moment.
And the only word that can describe the moment I found out that the North Hollywood food truck would be showcased at the last installment of Street Food Mondays is “YAY!” It was enough to make me leave my house on a Monday night. Hosted by Street Gourmet LA’s Bill Esparza and Evan Kleiman of KCRW’s Good Food, Street Food Mondays brings the city’s best street food to Kleiman’s Angeli Caffe in the form of a 3-course meal.
Restaurant chains aren’t always bad. My proof? Two Boots Pizza. Mostly scattered around New York City for the last 20 something years, the pizzeria chain’s Los Angeles station has become a mainstay on Echo Park’s Sunset Blvd. It’s taken me awhile to get myself there—two years to be exact—but as of this weekend, I’m a fan.
Pizza is a touchy subject, but I have no beef with Two Boots. The giant-slab slices (a pizza style that’s hard to come by in LA) have a crispy crust with a scattering of cornmeal grit—a pizza quality I love. As far as comparisons go, I preferred Two Boot’s lighter, less chewy crust to the bagel version at Abbot’s Pizza in Venice, another well-respected proprietor of great big slices.
Sometimes nostalgia makes food taste better—and Mid-Century Modern décor doesn’t hurt either. My friend Yolanda had been gunning for lunch at Rae’s Restaurant on Pico Blvd. for months now, and on a rainy Friday, I finally obliged. It’s a good thing I had my camera because Rae’s is the real deal. Plus, it was featured in the coolest movie ever, True Romance.
Like the décor, the menu at Rae’s is very 1950s greasy spoon. Breakfast is served all day with options like Bacon Tid Bit Waffles (bacon is crumbled into the batter) and the Hobo Breakfast, perhaps designed to soothe some scruffy tramp’s hangover with a meal of tomato juice, hotcakes, eggs, ham, bacon and sausage. You can also get old-timey sides like prunes, Bartlett pears, and applesauce with cinnamon and sugar.