Lavender Lemonade (lavender sugar syrup, lemonade & club soda) from the Ahwanee Bar.
I’m in love.
Pinakbet, dinuguan, and fried salmon. Filipino food at my uncle’s house. It’s been forever since I’d had any Filipino home cooking. I sort of miss it. :) It’s just regular Filipino grub, but I grew up on the stuff but my attempts at recreating it pale in comparison to the real thing so I’m extremely grateful when I get to visit relatives.
Pinakbet is basically a vegetable stew. Hearty veggies like eggplant, okra, and green beans are braised with tomatoes and fish sauce. The resulting stew is this wonderful mix, and my favorite part is the broth which settles to the bottom of the pot. I love pouring a bit of this over rice and just eating it.
Dinuguan (or as it’s known in Ilocano, dinardaraan) is pork blood stew, also called “chocolate meat” with a smile and a wink, because blood. Slices of pork and organ meat (usually liver and intestine) are cooked in a mix of pork blood and vinegar. The result is an umami bomb best eaten over rice. My salivary glands explode with delight. Truthfully, it’s an acquired taste and some might not get over the metallic tones of cooked blood and liver.
Fried salmon is a testament to the FIlipino tendency to fry every damn fish we get our hands on. If it’s not fried, it’s made into soup, usually with a very sour tamarind base. Again, my salivary glands explode with delight.
If I could live at Aliki’s, I would. This was a hole-in-the-wall, family-run Greek place about two blocks from the LAX Marriott which I’d heard about in the past but never had a chance to check out until this year. We ended up eating here twice, and everything I tried was delicious: the spanakopita, the dolmades, falafel, chicken souvlaki (with this wonderful stewed tomatoes and green bean side dish), and baklava with ice cream for dessert. After days of eating at Disneyland and a plan to not resort to Dennys for any meal this year, I think Aliki’s was the best restaurant on this trip. Glad I was able to try it out and get my Mediterranean food fix, which has been sorely lacking lately.
Pann’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop is about a 10 minute drive from the LAX Marriott (venue for Gallifrey One), and going here for breakfast has now become a tradition every time we’re in L.A. for Gally. The place offers a lot of regular diner fare (breakfast all day, burgers, hot sandwiches, and blue plate specials which sound really really good), but I only order one thing there: chicken wings and waffles (along with subtle variations thereof, like two eggs any style).
I love the mixture of chicken and waffles, of the sweet and the savory, and Pann’s chicken wings are pretty much perfect. I love fried chicken, but there’s always a small danger when you fry wings, because it has a mix of some white and some dark meat, and it can be very easy to dry out the white meat while trying to wait for the dark meat to cook. Somehow Pann’s wings always come out moist and tender, the “drumstick” side as well as the “wing” side. I don’t know how this is done, but I’m always impressed by it. I also appreciate the fact that the butter is already melted and served on the side for easy pouring (or dipping), so that the waffle is still nicely crisp when it gets to your table.
Anyway we ended up eating at Pann’s twice during this past Gally, and I figure that it’s going to be a stop whenever I’m back in L.A. as well.
On the day we left Anaheim, my boyfriend and I decided that we should try the Earl of Sandwich location at Downtown Disney, which opened recently amidst a lot of hype. It’s an interesting concept. A direct descendent of the real Earl of Sandwich (the nobleman credited with inventing the sandwich because he didn’t want to stop playing cards) apparently started the eatery, which boasts that they have the world’s best hot sandwich. I’ve eaten a lot of very good sandwiches in my time, so I wanted to put their words to the test.
The location itself is nicely themed. You walk into what seems like someone’s fancy library, but nope. There are posts which lead up to the ordering counter. I had the original 1762 (roast beef and horseradish), paid for my meal, and then was given a pager (the kind you get at a restaurant which buzzes when your table is ready). Each sandwich is made fresh to order, so you had to wait until the order is ready to pick up.
I was very impressed with the heartiness of the bread. Face it, it’s pretty much ciabatta, but I wasn’t complaining because I could see how it was readily able to sop up the juices and sauces from the meats inside.
My sandwich had chopped up roast beef with the horseradish sauce mixed in and topped with cheddar cheese. The cheddar was nicely melted, and I appreciated that the beef was chopped up because it meant that every bite had the same amount of horseradish sauce. Sometimes with roast beef sandwiches, one side gets more sauce that the other and you’re faced with sinus-clearing heat on one bite but nothing in the next.
My verdict: the sandwich was pretty damn tasty but I don’t think it’s the world’s best hot sandwich. That title goes to a late, lamented sandwich shop near my former workplace. I no longer work there, and the shop closed. That’s still my favorite meatball sandwich ever.
However, I’ll give a shoutout to my favorite current sandwich “shop”, a food truck called Mayo and Mustard. These guys truly have the world’s best hot sandwich.