Tag Archives: food

Trader Joe’s Hollywood Annex

Yeah, Trader Joe’s has an annex and it’s in my kitchen. In a burst of New Year organizational energy, I tackled the depths of my main kitchen cupboard. After an hour of stacking organizing and grouping I was amazed. From the depths of my shelves, my cupboard is built really deep into the wall…came can after can of the same stuff! I’m nothing if not consistent.
Looking at the bounty, I realized, I may never have to shop again for any foodstuffs other than fresh vegies and the occasional piece of animal protein.

I was mortified at the number of unused Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce jars I had (6), jars of Hearts of Palms (5), cans of organic black beans (6) and containers of olives I had (can’t even count em).
Forget about tallying up the gross amounts and varieties of pasta, rice, and quinoa stacked in my cupboard. It’s as if I expected that the world was gonna end and I had to have a stockpile of food to hold me over until spring vegetables could grow.
So now, part of my New Year’s agenda is to make every meal use some of the canned, jarred, dried or packaged food I have lurking in my cupboards. I should be able to cook til April.
I googled Trader Joes Recipes and found some on their site, chow hound and several more. Any ideas welcomed!

I’m also planning a trip to a shelter to share some of this discovered bounty!
I guess getting out the old broom is good every once in a while cuz we all win!

Win Tickets to Beats Antique at Club Nokia

Try describing Beats Antique to someone that hasn’t experienced them and you end up talking about a kaleidoscope of styles.
It’s Electronica, No! it’s Middle Eastern, wait, it’s Down-tempo, maybe Afro-Beat? There’s an amazing bellydancer and her team, there’s sometimes a crazy Marching Band, occasionally a wild explosion of live puppet dancers, jazz. What the hell is it?

Divine. Going to a Beats Antique concert is always an experience, kind of psychedelic, kinda dreamy…always fun.
If you want to get in on the action for FREE just give us your description of what describes their vibe onstage. Best four descriptions get free tickets for this Friday nights show on the 30th at the Club Nokia.
Do it now, cuz we have to make a decision and give these tickets away! Make sure when you sign in you leave us your email so we can contact you if you win (it’s not published!)

If you don’t win, you can buy tickets here.
Along with Beats Antique, Emancipator, Random Rab and Lynx are hitting the stage.
Beats Antique was formed by two rad musicians Tommy “Sidecar” Cappeland, David Satori and a hip-hop belly dancer named Zoe Jakes. Their performances defy description! But give it your best shot!

Menu Mining: House Special Soup at Vinh Loi Tofu

Okay, sure, so the Menu Mining series has been over for a while. But this gem is among my favorite things about living in LA, and one of the (few) redeeming qualities of working in the San Fernando Valley.

Vinh Loi Tofu House Special Soup
A bowl full of awesome.

I was first introduced to Vinh Loi Tofu when I moved here from central Illinois in August 2006, and it has been a staple in my diet ever since. Owner Kevin Tran seems to be there around the clock, and he has both a friendly rapport with his regular customers and a willingness to guide new recruits to the right introductory dish for their tastes. (Noodles or soup? Spicy – not spicy?) Kevin serves up a great variety of Vietnamese-inspired vegan dishes of his own creation, featuring his own special tofu mock meats that this omnivore could happily subsist on for the rest of his days.

While I love the vegan Banh Mi subs Travis Koplow lovingly refers to as “(s)ham sandwiches,” the House Special Soup holds a very special place in my heart. Garnished (as pictured by me, gets bigger with clickage) with sprouts, peppers, and lemon, this rice noodle soup is loaded with chicken, fish, and shrimp in an amazing savory peanut broth that somehow surprises me each and every time with just how damned good it is. This menu item is one that I have a hard time veering away from, even if I do occasionally feel tempted to try out one of Kevin’s newer soups or noodle dishes, some of which he has resorted to simply naming by year – “Soup 2011,” for example. (He’s actually been getting ahead of himself – he’s already serving “Soup 2012.” Or maybe that’s supposed to indicate “end-of-the-world” soup?)

Of course the drawback for many Angelenos is that there seem to be few things worthy of venturing all the way into Reseda for. (As Mike Doughty would remind us, “We are all in some way or another going to Reseda someday to die.”) I tell you, gentle reader, the House Special soup – and Vinh Loi in general – is definitely one thing worth going to Reseda for.

Grilled Cheesy Goodness

Hey blogging.la community! Wanted to quickly introduce myself… in blogging.la’s wonderful decision to add on a slew of new bloggers, I somehow made it through the hurdles and have been warmly welcomed into the community. So who is this newbie blogger you ask? Well, even if you didn’t I’m still going to tell you. I’m a native Los Angelino, such a rarity it seems, who had a normal childhood growing up in the suburbs of West Hollywood, traipsed to New York for a quick jaunt, and then missing the warm So-Cali sun returned back to the homeland. Like all good LA children, I’ve made my nest in the “Industry” but fashion myself as a foodie & blogger on the side. If your taste buds teeter on the side of adventure, you’d probably enjoy my collection of deliciously baffling cupcakes on my blog, Cake & Heels. When I’m not baking, reading scripts or planning massive beer pong tournaments, I’ve decided that I’m dedicating that remaining 5% of free time on my pie chart of life to writing HERE, on blogging.la. So seriously, THANKS for having me and hopefully this is the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship!

Grilled Cheese Invitational

So let’s get down to the oh-so-gooey and cheesy heart of this post… preferably layered between slices of freshly baked bread. It’s that time of the year, the 2nd 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational! This Saturday, April 23rd, Los Angeles Center Studios plays host to what has grown into a massive annual tradition. Over 300 amateur & professional competitors battle for grilled cheese glory in 4 different categories: Love, American Style || The Missionary Position || The Kama Sutra || The Honey Pot. And the best part? YOU can be the judge.

In addition to the usual crowd of foodies, fans and cheese heads, you can expect some fierce competition out of the likes of Top Chef Masters: Eric Greenspan from The Foundry, Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 2011: Ricardo Zarate from Mo-Chica and the soon to be hit Picca, the amazing Walter Manzke formerly of Bastide, Church & State and currently at Le Saint Amour, Eric Samaniego from my Sunday night favorite Comme Ca, Micah Fields who loves to please at the Standard Downtown and Nyesha Arrington from the gorgeous Cache on Main Street. Plus the fabulous Alie & Georgia of McNuggetini Cocktail Fame will be on hand mixing up magical libations during the event!

The 2nd 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational
Saturday April 23rd || 11AM – 6PM
Los Angeles Center Studios
1201 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017
$12 Online, $15 at the Door, $17 Judging Pass

Got Fed!

JavaJunkee and a Grill Em All Weedeater
JavaJunkee and a GrillemAll Weedeater

Hey everybody – I’m a newbie blogger here at blogging.la, so I wanted to get things started on the right foot by letting you know two things: 1. I love to eat. 2. Nevermind, I guess I already covered that in point 1.

But seriously, I’ve been a longtime reader of blogging.la and have always appreciated what the fine authors here have offered in terms of both individual character and LA culture. I’ve tagged along to various events such as the Blog-around-the-clock marathon at Canter’s and the Donut Summit in Griffith Park. (I missed the Hot Dog Death March and have yet to attend an installment of Classic Eats, but it’s going to happen!) Now that blogging.la has given me an opportunity to contribute to what they’ve got going here, I’m certainly hoping that my offerings will be half as valuable to other readers as I’ve found blogging.la to be for me over these past (almost) five years I’ve had the privilege of calling myself an Angeleno.

Anyway, I wanted to take the opportunity in this post to let folks know about a semi-regular event that seems to be gaining steam over in my neck of the woods, North Hollywood. Last Saturday I ventured out with fellow blogging.la author Travis Koplow and a couple other friends to a lot behind The Federal Bar where ten food trucks had gathered for a third installment of “Get FED!” The truck lineup appears to vary from month to month, and the purpose of the event seems to be at least a little bit focused on trying to promote The Federal Bar. The first time through, back in mid-January, Frysmith tried to dissuade one of my companions from swapping out sweet po’ fries for the regulars on whatever special she happened to order, and then tweeted an apology after the fact. This time around, me and my companions tried out one of the Grill Em All Truck‘s specials, the “weedeater,” and left feeling quite satisfied. Probably the highlight of the event, though, was the two homeless men, or homeless-looking men – completely independent of one another – getting down to the music provided by live DJs. I haven’t seen anything that says with certainty that this will be a monthly event; the first took place on the 15th of January, the second on the 12th of March, and the third on the 9th of April. If you’re looking for a chance to catch multiple food trucks in a single location in the east Valley, I’d say keep your eyes peeled around the first or second Saturday of May for your next chance to catch this one.

While it’s definitely nice to have an event like this just down the street on occasion, I do have to temper my excitement with the sense of disappointment I experience when something really cool – like the food truck phenomenon in LA – reaches that point at which it starts to feel like it’s being exploited as another great marketing gimmick. I’m still not sure, though, which is more distasteful to me: businesses shamelessly trying to tap into the zeitgeist to make a quick dollar (which Get FED! may or may not be, but bank billboards definitely are when they say things like “we have ATMs all over for when you happen to cross paths with that gourmet food truck” – no I don’t have a pic for this but I swear I’ve seen it), or the fact that something cool and obscure about the city becomes ubiquitous and pedestrian. Is that hipster-ish of me to say? Oops.

Classic Eats #14 – This Saturday

Classic Eats #14 is this Saturday February 19!

Just a gentle reminder to join us downtown. Theoretically it will be raining so bring your brollys and rubbers! (Wait, wasn’t that was a Valentine Post from last week?)

Classic Eats #14 – Downtown Delights
Saturday February 19
5:30 at Traxx inside Union Station
7:00 (ish) at Phillipe’s

Union Station – Traxx – Classic cocktails in a classic location. All your train travel fantasies come true.

Phillipe‘s – They claim to be the original french dip sandwich place! Their mustard is pretty damn good too. I should know.

Classic Eats!

Classic Eats #14 – The Deets

Classic Eats #14 is on Saturday February 19!

And while normally I set up a voting system and give you options to choose from, I’m going to make it so much easier for all of us. (And by “all of us” I mean me.) Classic Eats #14 is going to be a reprise of Classic Eats #2: Downtown Delights – Union Station and Phillipe’s.

It was two years ago (how time flies) that we had a great gang of folks come down to Traxx at Union Station for a cocktail before walking the two blocks to Phillipe’s where we all had some classic LA nosh and a star sighting to boot! (Adam Arkin)

I want to relive that awesome night and I want you to join in.

Classic Eats #14 – Downtown Delights
Saturday February 19
5:30 at Traxx inside Union Station
7:00 (ish) at Phillipe’s

Union Station – Traxx – Classic cocktails in a classic location. All your train travel fantasies come true.

Phillipe‘s – They claim to be the original french dip sandwich place! Their mustard is pretty damn good too. I should know.

Classic Eats!

Menu Mining: Café Tropical’s Medianoche Sandwich

Ah, Key West, home of so many delicious foods. And so much rum….

Oh yeah. Los Angeles. Yes.

We may not be splashing distance from Cuba, but thank goodness we have people who used to be.

Seen that deep purple building on the corner of Sunset and Reservoir (where you turn to get to Silver Lake Blvd.)? That’s Café Tropical, and in addition to having a truly surprising array of pastries, they serve what are arguably the best Cuban sandwiches west of Miami.

Sure, you can order the Cuban Mix, and it’s done up right, but I’ve always considered those to be … well, just a sandwich.

OR –

You can order up the incomparable Midnight (we professionals say Medianoche) and get something really worth eating. I recommend you ask for it “all the way,” which is how they say “everything on it” in Key West. Now you look like a real bigshot.

Ingredients: roasted pork, ham, cheese, some slices of pickle, on a special sweet bread. The sandwich is heat-pressed but it ain’t no Panini.

Aaaarch, my eyes roll up in my head just thinking about it.

Bonus: Prices are Dirt Cheap. Medianoche is $6.50 and it comes with free wifi.

Café Tropical

2900 W Sunset Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90026

Open every day from 6am – 10pm

(yeah, go get your Con Leche on before work)

Am I cheating by including this link to Yelp? Maybe. But I’m putting it at the end, and only because I couldn’t find a website for them.

Menu Mining: Potato Balls and Rellenitos at Porto’s

Potato Balls & Rellenitos

I was first introduced to Porto’s Bakery & Café through co-workers who occasionally brought pastries from the Glendale storefront to work. They were different and delicious, unlike any other sweets I’d had before. It wasn’t until the second location opened in Burbank in January of 2006 that I actually went into a Porto’s and discovered what a wide and varied menu they offer. In addition to the popular tres leches cake, cheese rolls, and guava strudel, you can indulge in a number of sandwiches and salads.

While I’m quite fond of the steak torta, I usually gravitate toward the café’s “house specialties,” especially the potato balls and rellenitos. The potato ball, or papa rellena, is mashed potato filled with seasoned ground beef that is lightly breaded and fried. The meat reminds me of sloppy joe meat. It’s comfort food you can hold in your hand. They are so good that I didn’t mind eating them when it was over 100 degrees.

Black Beans & Ground Beef Inside

The rellenito pairs nicely with the savory potato ball. It is sweet plantain filled with black beans and coated in sugar. The flavors work so well together. While not technically a “meal,” you can make one out of these. They are dense and filling and oh so scrumptious. Also, a potato ball or rellenito will set you back only 90 cents. A true bargain.

The family-run Cuban bakery and café currently has two locations, one at 315 North Brand Blvd. in Glendale and the other at 3614 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank. A third location in Downey is slated to open sometime this year. The establishments are quite popular, especially on weekends, so be prepared to stand in line while waiting to place your order. The staff at the Burbank location are fast and very friendly and the food is worth the wait.

Menu Mining: Musso and Frank’s Semi-Secret Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Holy Trinity: Grilled Cheese, Stewed ToMAAAHtoes, Old Fashioned Cocktail

Certainly this is far from my first post about the legendary Musso and Frank Grill, and it’s no secret that by this time I’ve likely eaten my weight in the Thursday night special: Chicken Pot Pie.

But what if you’re hungry, near Musso’s, and it’s just not Thursday?

Allow me to suggest the (hiding in plain sight) Grilled Cheese Sandwich. It’s right there on the menu, in the Sandwiches section, but if you’re not looking for it you might just miss it.

There are a couple of key elements to replicating the pictured result: the first is you need to have SERGIO as your waiter, and the second is you need to know that if Sergio likes you – and for the love of god be nice to him or I will personally have you killed – that you can ever so sweetly ask him to ADD things to the Grilled Cheese.

Things like bacon. And tomato. Or even (if you’re one Very Special Lady) a fried eggiweg.

Think you can’t afford to eat at Musso’s any more? While steaks and those delightful lamb chops (best in LA) may have slipped beyond your grasp, this little beauty is only about nine bucks. Oh yeah. The cat’s out of the bag now.

Remember that meager price tag when your bill comes – tip generously.

6667 Hollywood Blvd

Los Angeles, California 90028

(323) 467-7788
Open Tue-Thu 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11am-2am

Menu Mining: Little Dom’s Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Sweet Fancy Moses these are exceptional.

I like a nice plain regular pancake as much as the next guy, but this take on the ‘cake is just a tremendous treat.

Soaring high above the regular pancake-o-sphere, Little Dom manages to use the power of Portion Control (and quality ingredients) to make these nearly guilt-free.

Who could fault you for eating three tiny pancakes, loaded with antioxidant-happy blueberries? And just the tiniest ramekin of syrup – why it’s barely a thimbleful! (But it’s plenty, because the ‘cakes themselves are so delicious they hardly require any.) And don’t even look at the butter; why it melts right away!

Don’t wanna know calorie or fat content. Don’t care. But I honestly don’t consider this an unhealthy meal. In fact their whole breakfast menu is pretty mindblowing.

Honorable Mention also goes to the grilled house-made Italian Sausage. Better than the bacon here.

Oh and they’re Just Eight Bucks.


Little Dom’s

2128 Hillhurst Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

323.661.0055 phone

323.661.0066 fax


Breakfast, Lunch all day, 8am – 3pm

Sunday-Thursday 6pm – 11pm

Friday and Saturday 6pm – 12am