Category Archives: Beef

Artisanal LA 2010, Downtown LA (Savory Edition)

And so man cannot live with desserts alone. After all, the sweets often come after the savory. So as not to saturate and kill my palate and appetite with too much sugar, I also had to make my way towards the salty, bitter, meaty, and even the “hoppy”. At the Artisanal LA Fall 2010, I didn’t need the salt over the shoulder to have good luck, I had no problem finding the best savory had to offer.

Enjoy my sumptuous finds:

I had to buy Damn That’s Good’s curry sauce for a dinner idea I immediately envisioned after I tasted their sample. It was not a simple sauce to make, and the taste showcased its complexity well. It had a perfect amount of spice, very well-balanced with a spicy taste towards the back-end without overpowering the combination. Their risottos were actually okay. I must admit, bias set it when I had to taste it cold, it didn’t really sit well atop my tongue but I’m sure it would have been better received had it been at least a little warm. Their pastas were also cold. But all had a good promise of flavors.

Winner of the KCRW 2nd Annual Pie Contest, The Flying Pie Man shared his savory creation only during this event. Yuichiro Sato unfortunately does not have a means of selling his product yet (store or online), but we were blessed indeed that he has shared and we have tasted. It was more like a Shepherd’s pie or also called Cottage Pie. The seasonings in the ground beef had strong flavor (almost too overpowering for my taste), the mashed potato at the bottom was creamy and buttery, and the vegetables were actually still crunchy despite having been marinating with the juices from the meat, the mashed potato, and steam within.  The pie crust was actually the best part; it was flaky, salty, buttery, and just crunchy delicious. So here’s a plea: get your site together Yuichiro, the line at your table said it all.

This table was packed with visitors so I barely had a chance to take a decent photo, my apologies. I was about to leave when I was asked to go ahead and taste the meat, so over the shoulder of a stranger I reached out for my sample of healthy, grass-fed steak from Open Space Meats. It was decently cooked, I didn’t expect it to be like a restaurant serving me my medium rare cut, but the meat had a much stronger beef flavor. And of course, lower in saturated fat and higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, which means a healthier option for you.

Of course, I wouldn’t think of leaving without visiting a local brewery. Eagle Rock Brewery showcased two of their Artisan brews. Addicted to my caffeine, I had to choose the Stimulus (Belgian Amber with Ethiopian Coffee). It did not have a strong coffee flavor, but it was definitely present in each sip. The citrus created a fine after-taste that it was a little sad that it only came in sample cups.

I had just enough time to peak in at the most popular demo of the event: Pig Butchering by Lindy and Grundy’s Erika Nakamura. Skilled with a knife, Erika wielded with ease and cut down the half-pig in no time at all. Lindy and Grundy will soon serve Los Angeles just like the forgotten times, with a local, sustainable butcher shop selling organic and grass-fed meat.

Whew, the tasting extravaganza ended there. But it was not only the samples that shined during this Artisanal LA event. The owners and chefs that continue to pursue the healthier, organic side of cuisine and produce showed to us that healthier does not necessarily mean tasteless. And that handmade with the finest ingredients are sometimes a much better and not necessarily a more expensive route to take. So don’t deprive and cheat yourself of the finer and healthier things in life, Artisanal LA proves that they are definitely worth it.

Please support our local farmers and business owners. Click on the links to check out their websites and also how to order.

 

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Alcohol, Artisan, Beef, Event, Occasion, Pork

The Fix Burger, Los Angeles

Finding the perfect, juicy burger amidst the hype and mushrooming of burger joints in Los Angeles is like finding a needle in a haystack, well maybe a perfect needle in a pin cushion. Most of these burger joints are okay, some are good, and only a few really are just perfectly delicious.

Having passed by The Fix Burger on Hyperion more than a few times, I realized it’s long overdue to try their certified humane burgers. So one day when traffic had me arching one eyebrow more than once, I stopped by for dinner.

The Fix with Seoul: 1/2 pound of meat, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, button mushrooms, Korean slaw, jack cheese, Korean sauce and Mayo. It was one messy package. The beef was thick, medium inside, and actually pretty good. It was simply seasoned that the beefy taste shone through with obvious ease and such impact. The Korean slaw and the sauce was actually almost the same beginning of a typical coleslaw with a twist of a Kimchi. I was hoping for a more spicy kick but was not delivered to my tastebuds. The meat was juicy and the sauce was slightly watery that my buns had no fight at all. It was falling apart as soon as it hit the table and became a knife and fork burger dinner.

Joe had the Veggie Ono: veggie burger, mushrooms, teriyaki sauce, pineapple, jack cheese, and mayo. It was, as explained to me, just “Okay”. Sadly, it was nothing special. The burger itself was fine, it had good texture but on the bland side. The pineapple was sweet and the teriyaki was on the sweeter side as well, this made the flavors slightly off. It’s hard to envision a savory, juicy burger when you can clearly tasted dessert.

The garlic fries were a perfect side dish, in fact, another order and it would have been my main dish. The fries were crispy, and the garlic was embedded in each bite and even in the burnt after-fried bits at the bottom. The garlic basil mayo was not necessary but with each dip added an elevated taste that bordered fried food indulgence. It was just fried comfort food that can make anyone feel good.

The homemade breaded shrooms were actually also pretty good. It was panko breading and fried to a golden color that made it crispy but not burnt. The button mushrooms inside were perfectly cooked and still juicy, with a combination of oil and its own juices. It was a progression of addiction with each bite.

Surprisingly, in a burger joint, the stars were the side dishes. Although the meat on my burger was delicious the rest of the players made it difficult for me to enjoy each bite. It was too cumbersome to savor each bite with ease. I would love to give it a second chance, I heard they do not have ostrich anymore but the buffalo burger sounds promising, and a talk of a lamb burger is encouraging such cravings that are becoming too hard to control.

Leave a comment

Filed under American Food, Beef, Burger, Comfort Food, Fries, Side Dishes, Uncategorized

Carmen’s (A deconstruction of a Torta Cubana), Los Angeles

Not even back to Ktown and I already dreamt of which places I must go to before my deadline by end of May. Having stepped inside the hold, memories flood back as I remember the many months I stayed here, including the many places I go to for my fix. I must admit, Ktown is one of my favorite places to dine in LA. It is crawling in diversity, unabashed, hole-in-the-wall locations that are just simply put: delicious. Carmen’s taco truck is one of those places.

Nestled between Kingsley and Ardmore on 8th, Carmen’s shares the usual Mexican taco truck servings, including some “acquired tastes” of meat (cabeza, lengua)

But I do not go to Carmen’s for the tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. I go for the tortas. Not all taco trucks serving tortas are made the same. Some are just rolls and whatever meats they serve their tacos or burritos with, plus some salsa on top. But here at Carmen’s you actually get more than just chopped meat and bread. Expect to stay for more than a few minutes, because made-to-order goodness comes to those who wait.

The quesillo torta. First of all, the bread. They actually use a telera or a soft round bread, commonly used in tortas in Mexico. They grill the bread to a nice crust, with treasures of burnt parts on the outside. Whilst slightly crunchy on the outside, the inside is a soft, somewhat thin layer of bread that holds well against the heavy pounding of other ingredients. Lettuce, slices of a half of an avocado, and real queso oaxaca. Oaxacan cheese is similar to string cheese but sold in balls and very much used in a lot of Mexican dishes; with a very light taste such as mozzarella and even melts into an almost same consistency. Only $4, you really can’t go wrong with this torta if you’re looking for something simple and (almost) light to the belly.

But if your need is for weight and gain, then go for gusto and get the Torta Cubana.

There are no words big enough to describe this colossal monstrosity. It is MEAT in a sandwich, VS just a sandwich with meat, plain and simple. Five layers of one meat after another plus the addition of lettuce, quesillo, and half of an avocado.

This is only half of the torta (the rest lay peacefully inside my expanding stomach). Let’s have a closer look (from  LEFT clockwise):

-Salchicha: sausages. A whole sausage cut right down the middle and placed down on the grill to get those burnt, grill marks. It excretes necessary oils onto the grill to mingle with the rest of the meats. I don’t mind that their sausage is generic, I’ve had worse.

-Jamon: HAMMMM. Yes, let’s add pork to the equation. Salty, cured pork.

-Cecina: a type of jerky but not as salty as the one’s we’re used to here, comparable to Thai beef jerky or the Filipino tapa. It’s hard on the teeth and stringy, nevertheless one slice is NOT enough Carmen’s. Please make note of.

-Tasajo: a type of preparation of beef. It’s usually marinated in achiote which gives it that reddish or orange color, then it’s seared on the grill to an almost chewy consistency. But do not be deceived, it’s not one tough cookie.

-Milanesa: a breaded steak filet (think wiener schnitzel). Now this slice was the least on my list. It was a too thin that it almost had a mushy consistency. It would probably be a good thing compared to its chewy compadres, but it was a little off-putting.

Like any doubtful Thomas, I tried them individually. They actually tasted common; sausage and ham from any local supermarket. Two slices of hard, salted, and jerked beef. A mushy piece of breaded something. Combined, these slices of protein sing a song so dear to my heart (and my arteries). One bite gets the most out of everything. And with the bread as an envelope, the cheese as a coagulant, and the avocado as a salt buffer, they all make a wonderful, simple, and inexpensive symphony of flavors.

How can you go wrong??? Tell me. I dare you to tell me. You may have had better meats, a better Torta Cubana somewhere else; but given the location, the circumstances, and the SOURCE? A taco truck in Ktown? This is indeed the pinnacle, the culmination, if I may exaggerate. This is the best taco truck torta in LA. And now that I have had a chance to almost finish it, I am off to my next mission in Ktown. Manna Bakery? Mr Pizza Factory? Korean BBQ? Beverly Soon Tofu House? Bonchon? I can go on and on and on, but I will not. I’ll let you dream with me for now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beef, Bread, Cheese, Mexican Food, Pork, Sandwich, Sausages, Street-food

Absolutely Phobulous, Los Angeles

Coming from the many twists and turns of X2, Tatsu, and the Riddler (AKA Six Flags), we all decided we needed something to soothe our stomachs. And so we came to a conclusion to go ahead and eat pho. But with the proliferation of many Vietnamese places serving this staple, it might be hard for the wandering tongue to pick and choose a place. Where to? Where to pho?  Someone said Absolutely Phobulous, I thought it was joke. Only until we parked, did I realize it was not. It is called Absolutely Phobulous. So  then by all means I should take the road less traveled and be enticed by a name that says gimmick written all over it.

Small space with very confused decor strewn all over the wall, with busy wait staff that will unfortunately not wait for you. Look long and hard, decide without doubt and swiftly or you will be passed by without any regret. Fact: he passed by many times without regret.

The menu has more items than the usual Vietnamese pho places. With appetizers, salads, vermicelli and even baguettes and dessert. Fresh spring rolls, vegetarian vermicelli (rice noodles served cold), pho beef combo, baguette sandwich, and Thai iced tea for everyone. Done.

The fresh spring rolls come fat (and I do mean about 2in in diameter each). It was filled with huge shrimp and plenty of vermicelli noodles to easily become an entree vs just an appetizer. The carrots, bean sprouts, and cilantro were crisp and fresh. And instead of the peanut sauce, this time it was served with hoisin which lent it a different sweetness, much different from what you’ll get from the shrimp and vegetables.

The vegetarian vermicelli came with both crystal noodles (clear noodles) and vermicelli which for $6.75 is a big, heaping bowl of satisfaction. It comes with mushrooms, tofu, the usual vegetables, and even a vegetarian egg roll. It’s finished with peanuts on top and drizzled with their “house” sauce (which, by guess, was a mix of soy sauce, vinegar, and maybe a little hoisin). It was a delicious combination of ingredients that a lack of protein was never an issue.

The baguette sandwich was just a simpler version of banh mi. Instead of plus the pickled carrots, daikon, and a pate, this one came with spicy chicken, just the cucumbers, fresh carrots (which on the menu said marinated), slices of jalapeno, and the usual cilantro. Although the baguette was a little too hard, scraping the roof of your mouth (that kind of hard), the fillings were actually a good merry mix of fresh, spicy, and flavor. The chicken just had enough amount of spices to still taste like chicken, until that little kick comes in towards the end.

But we must not forget the purpose of this visit. Let us see if this place lives up to its name. The beef combo came with rare steak, beef meatballs, and brisket. It’s served in beef broth with vermicelli, green onions, and bean sprouts, jalapeno, and basil on the side for your mixing pleasure. The meat balls were flavorless, the brisket was hard (AKA tough), and the rare steak was huhum. The beef broth was not as resounding, meaning many of bullion in lesser time (at least that kind of taste). I was hoping for that thick flavor you get from hours and hours of boiling those lovely bones, but was disappointed. Although pho broth is not as dense as some ramen broths but at least give more love into it. A little bit of hoisin and chili sauce helped enhance the taste a little bit or a lot.

Soon we will find that perfect bowl of Vietnamese chicken noodle (not literally). For now I’ll just be satisfied at their attempt at delivering a delicious bowl; whilst failed, it was still able to provide that sigh of comfort when that warm broth started traveling from my mouth to my stomach (and the rest of the menu were not  that bad either). And that is good comfort food in my book.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beef, Bread, Chicken, Comfort Food, Noodles, Pho, Roll (non-bread), Uncategorized, Vegetable, Vietnamese Food

Viva Las Vegas Day Three- Carnival Buffet at the Rio

So after a night of over-indulging of many, many, many, never-ending diuretics, we definitely needed some carbs and protein in generous variety. We failed at agreeing as to where to do Sunday Brunch Buffet so with the help of friends already waiting in line we moved on to the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio.

After waiting in line for an hour we finally made it inside and didn’t even bother to warm the seats. Here comes plate #1.

I proceeded to chew. The chow mein were hard and cold, an expected disappointment. The shu mai were also hard and cold. The turkey sausage from the breakfast line was salty and cold. The har gow was a better bite as they just came off their steamers, were still hot, and filled with plump shrimp.

Seeing as my plate looked nowhere near empty, I knew I needed more than a taste here and there. So I went for plate #2. The fried catfish was actually pretty good. The batter was light and crunchy, with a touch of Cajun seasoning as well as salt and pepper. The fish inside was still warm and flaky. I also wanted eggs with my mimosa to complete the brunch’s plated environment. This was not egg. And no, I do not consider boxed, diluted eggs ideal. The pork sausage was a little too salty even for sausage standards, but had a good snap and was surprisingly still warm on the inside. But the best part of my plate was the prime rib. With a perfectly salty crust on the outside and a tender, medium rare meat. I needed no assistance from my knife as my fork did the job just fine. I thought two slices were more than enough but I was proved wrong. But there were more to come so I had to make room for plate #3.

I was really on my way for desserts but for some reason I wanted to walk around some more. I saw a friend waiting for the roasted duck that’s still sitting on the chopping board waiting for the butcher’s knife to strike. I had to try it. Feeling the plate so empty with just one piece of duck, I had to get some more carbs with it, and pasta seemed to be the untried dish of the whole vacation. The pasta was overcooked but the bolognese was well-seasoned and packed with flavor; subtle hints of thyme, garlic, basil, with a touch of spicy-most likely cayenne. The duck was unexpectedly good. It was glistening with the good oils, crispy skin, and the fat in between melted in my mouth. The meat was cooked perfectly with a balance of salty and sweet. Delicious.

I knew I had room inside my stomach for sweets. After all, their spread looked so enticing I felt my feet flying effortless towards their display. The cheesecake was sour. And it wasn’t a lime cheesecake. The gelato had to be tried. The tiramisu was actually bland, and did not taste a tiramisu at all. It had a very indescribable after-taste. The coconut gelato was actually ahead of both, although the coconut tasted like the syrup vs the fresh one, but an artificial taste more comparable to the real one. Moving on again.

But of course, I will not leave without my own version of my bread pudding. Bread pudding, topped with vanilla ice cream this time and hot chocolate fudge drizzled all around. Their pudding is less dense as the Hilton’s but with more cinnamon and vanilla flavor. And the chocolate fudge was still warm and sweet, elevating this humble plate to a masterpiece inside my mouth. Delicious indeed. I’m sorry, I really can’t help but brag about my sugar overload.

Whew. I didn’t think I would survive outside of the buffet. The mimosas were overflowing and the food was gluttony at it’s worst. But the prime rib, duck, and bread pudding were all worth coming back and waiting in line for an hour. In fact, I would get multiple servings of each, and even with only these three I would chew without regret. Ignoring the rest of the hundreds of dishes will not be a painful undertaking.

Goodbye Vegas. Until I see you again, which will be soon. After all, over-indulgence is a magnetic pull hard to resist. And everything in Vegas is evident of excess.

 

2 Comments

Filed under American Food, Beef, Breakfast, Buffet, Chinese Food, Dessert, Drinks, Duck, Dumplings, Fish, Gelato, Noodles, Pasta, Sausages, Shrimp

Viva Las Vegas Day One- Las Vegas Hilton Buffet

Coming to Vegas,  food is always last on the priority list. But not for me. I know the calories will pile up and exercise will be a necessity after but you cannot blame a foodie for trying to enjoy the pleasures in life wherever I may be.

But first we couldn’t leave LA without a stop at Auntie Em’s Kitchen in Eagle Rock for their delicious cupcakes. Not that we weren’t full yet from the brunch I made. But this is Auntie Em’s people! The red velvet is and will always be delicious. The coconut was a little too sweet for my taste, but the shavings on top were good added sprinkles. The carrot and chocolate I had no more room for, but according to reliable sources they were both delicious. But the star of the show was the peanut butter and jelly, a new flavor. The peanut butter must have been incorporated in the batter as the taste is very assertive in a very good way.

Of course when you go to Vegas you think of the buffets. A linear presentation of gluttony at its peak. So it is but natural for us to go to the first buffet we saw after the many hours of traveling the long and winding road. We happened to have complimentary tickets to the Las Vegas Hilton buffet (also where we stayed) so we just dropped off our luggage and skipped merrily down to the buffet line.

I started with soup. I needed something hot going down my throat. The clam chowder was runny, I missed the thick soup and the generous add-ons. I had no clams and barely some potatoes, but it was not lacking of celery which I do not know if an upside or downside.


Any measure of a good buffet is a test of across the board dishes popular at any location. Meat is always a good starting point. So I went and picked my weapons of choice. The ribs were a little dry. The turkey sausage was actually not as bad as I expected, the casing had a good snap but I doubt that this was made from scratch. The bbq chicken was fine, it wasn’t too sweet nor bland. But nothing exciting to brag about. The New York steak was cooked to medium well, a little too much for my liking but very well-seasoned. The dumplings/potstickers were very oily. But star of the plate was my grilled lamb. Seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and cooked to perfection. It was very tender and needed not much effort to devour inside my mouth.

The savory showed little promise of satisfaction. So I got off my seat and moved towards the dessert section. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. The cherry crepe was too sour. I barely made it to my second bite. I went ahead and tried some more. The wafer roll was hard to bite, if you say wafer hard is the last thing to associate it with. The frosted cookie was killing my palate with sweetness. But the bread pudding was my favorite so far. It was so good that I had to get a separate plate just for my much needed happy place.

Now this is how I make my bread pudding. Top it with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, a little bit of nuts, and drizzle with hot chocolate fudge. And it was finished to the last morsel without me even batting an eyelash. Now this was a good ending.

Maybe it was a little too much to expect in a buffet. But there is more to come and this food lover will have more chances to love Vegas once again. I’ve been to their finest restaurants with award-winning chefs at the helm of the kitchen, now its about time to really go back and explore Vegas once more. Maybe dimsum tomorrow (or is it today already)? Sounds like a plan, we shall see.

2 Comments

Filed under BBQ, Beef, Buffet, Clams, Cupcakes, Dessert, Lamb, Related Article, Soup

Pampa’s Grill, Farmer’s Market

(I had to put this in my blog. One of my favorite examiner articles so far-maybe because I love me Pampa’s.)

Nothing is more enticing than the smell of grilled meat. It is the ambrosia that turns heads, tilts noses up, and puts people in a complete stand still. Experience the aroma that spells meat at Pampa’s Grill at the Farmer’s Market and leave your taste buds completely tickled fancy.

Beware of the line, it will be your first obstacle. Know your hours, dinner is the worst so come prepared. Bring your most talkative friend or fully charged phones with your Facebook app in place.


What to pick? The dilemma that is choices is the next hurdle to overcome. As you take your to-go “plate” (as it is likely to not finish, better avoid the hassle and be ready to take it home) and move along, the onslaught of picks might overwhelm you as this is paid by poundage ($8.95/lb). You wouldn’t want to go heavy on the sides as the meat weighs much more but you also wouldn’t want to miss out on the entrancing colors and tastes that lay before you. The garlic rice is a must carb pairing for the salty proteins, the collard greens are garlicky, the chicken stroganoff is unremarkable but a popular choice, the eggplant salad is a refreshing side to the savory, and the Pao de Queijo (cheese bread) is a personal favorite and is always stocked to the top of the plate.

But these are only reminiscence compared to what is the ultimate comfort food here, meat-Brazilian style. Spinning all day on a rotisserie grill, their choices rival the best tailgates and backyards anywhere. And so here comes the next predicament, the meat. You may be forced to try them all, but what with the weight limiting you then pick the ones you think you’ll enjoy the most and move on. Out of the many choices of protein the Picanha (sirloin cap) is the most popular, the Carneiro (lamb leg) is highly recommended as it is both flavorful and tender, the garlic chicken and beef are personal favorites and both salty, garlicky addicting, and the Brazilian sausage is slightly spicy, well-seasoned,and a must-try.

As you hit the end, pick either their Goya coconut water or a Guarana drink to complete the experience. But coming here comes with another warning. You may think that you haven’t put enough on your plate to compare to a sit-down restaurant. This can get pricey, even though it is super fast food. And no, it’s not the plate or the container.


With the many halts Pampa’s brings to the dining table, it is hard to give them a perfect score. The crowd that forms at the blink of an eye, the wait made by fellow confused diners, the price that better suits a restaurant, and the impasse at the line of wondrous food make one wonder if it’s worth it to try. But the many upsides make it then all the more difficult to decide to go or not. Taste over lines? Meat over prices? Comfort over choices? If the craving hits then live a little. Go meat and meatlovers unite.

Pampa’s Grill is at the Farmer’s Market at 6333 W 3rd St LA, T: (323)931-1928. They accept major credit cards.

Leave a comment

Filed under BBQ, Beef, Brazilian Food, Bread, Chicken, Drinks, Lamb, Pork, Related Article, Sausages