Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Lowdown: Bulgarini Gelato

Thursday's LA Times Food section sent us trekking up to Altadena yesterday, to the brand new location of Bulgarini Gelato at the corner of Lake and Altadena, in the Rite Aid shopping center. In fact, we were so thrilled with the description of Bulgarini's fresh-made fruit ice creams that we neglected to see that their grand opening wasn't until today. So imagine our disappointment when the shop was closed up tight with only the window washer sparkling up the glass for today's big fete.

We weren't the only ones who arrived to a closed shop, but we were the only ones who stayed to lick our wounds in the newly created outdoor space. But when owner Leo Bulgarini peeked outside to see what our sad quartet was doing and heard that we'd driven all the way from Echo Park, he invited us inside for a quick scoop, actually 4.

After tasting about a dozen flavors, we settled on the amazingly flavorful and nutty pistachio mentioned in the Times piece, a wonderfully sweet and tart blood orange granita, a subtle blueberry and, of course, chocolate. It was all delicious, and the granita was simply the best i've had. (Sorry there are no photos, but the gelato was gone before we thought of memoralizing it.) While he was obviously in a hurry to transport some gelato to his other locations at the Laemmle Playhouse theaters and the Pacific Asia Museum, both in Pasadena, he didn't rush us and graciously served the father/daughter pair that snuck in behind us before locking the doors and rushing off with buckets of gelato to his other locations.

For those of you who are heading up there today for their grand opening--and undoubtedly long lines--it's worth it. Buona fortuna Bulgarinis on your new business. We'll be back. Soon.

Bulgarini Gelato
749 E. Altadena Dr.
Altadena, CA 91001

Wed-Sun: Noon-8 p.m.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Lowdown: Tokyo Delves

The St. Sake Bomb Celebration

Tokyo Delve’s is the Carlos and Charlie’s/Senor Frog’s of sushi bars. The sushi is terrible, I wouldn’t even waste my time with food there, but you’re not going for the sushi. You’re going for sake bombing.

Tokyo Delve’s is known for its sake bombing and they do it right! You can get a gallon keg of Sapporo for your table and the waiters keep the sake coming. The waiters and sushi chefs will come to your table and lead you in the great cheer (“When I say sake, you say bomb! SAKE! BOMB! SAKE! BOMB!”), which ends with them pounding on the table until your sake falls from its precarious perch on your chopsticks into a glass of Sapporo.

You will be greeted with thunderous cheers the minute you walk in the door. You will dance on your chairs. You will conga with your neighbor tables. You will play trivia and win stupid t-shirts. You will drink sake.

A fabulous place to celebrate your birthday, and oddly enough, St. Patrick’s Day and the entire month of March, known as the St. Sake Bomb Celebration. So you've got exactly 3 nights left to celebrate—or 365, depending on how you look at it.

Any time you go you’ll be sure to love the kitschy atmosphere and you can’t help but have a good time—but don't eat the sushi!

—Kaelin Burns

5239 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood 91601
(818) 766-3868

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Raves: The Bishop Coffee and Gourmet

When I discovered the Bishop in early 2006, I was thrilled to have a coffee place near our South Park offices. I hated walking up to 7th and Fig and the FIDM-adjacent Fusion Cafe just doesn't cut it. Sadly, the new Starbucks at 11th and Grand gets more of our business these days, simply due to its close proximity, but my heart is at the Bishop. Why? 'Cause they make me happy—and make sandwiches to order.

Of course, their cold cases have pasta salads and pre-made sandwiches and, if you get there at the right time, that wonderful chicken curry. But sometimes you just want something, you know, special. That's when Suze pops in and says, "Can we just make you a sandwich?" Mine today was turkey and pesto on a croissant. Ymmm. It hit the spot--which is why there's no photo to attach. Sorry 'bout that.

Oh, did I say they make a mean cappuccino, too? And open early--and late!

The Bishop Coffee and Gourmet
816 S. Grand Ave.
Downtown 90017
(213) 239-0411

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Only 172 Days 'til the Fair

I love the LA County Fair. Way more than any adult should. I wait for it all year. As a kid, I would anxiously await those "Ya gotta see it to believe it..." jingles that would air on KTLA weeks before the big event, when LA temps were hot and dry and you knew Pomona would be scorching, but didn't really care.

Then it was about the food--mostly anything involving sugar. Some things never change. Like a Dodger game, you gotta pace yourself. I'm kinda fond of food that comes on a stick, so we generally start with a Hot Dog on a Stick and a lemonade. Why it tastes so much better at the Fair, I don't know, but it's the only place we belly up to the little shack and watch them deep fry those dogs. Then after scoping out the exhibit buildings, we'll head over to the gingerbread house for some fresh-made gingerbread cake, which goes really well with the icy-cold fresh-squeezed milk sold outside the cow barn.

After a little more nosing around, maybe a ride or two and a visit to the Garden Pavillion, it's time to check out the food stand that has the newest food concoction imported from some state fair in the midwest, often Minnesota. I'm sure you've heard of them—they're almost always deep fried—the deep-fried Twinkie, the deep-fried Oreo, the deep-fried Snicker's bar. This year it was the Krispy Kreme fried chicken sandwich. Yep, a deep-friend chicken breast smothered in cheese and tucked inside a Krispy Kreme glazed donut. All this, and a side of honey to go with it—in case you weren't already in a diabetic coma. A bit fearful, we decided to split this one three ways and, I have to admit, it was a lot yummier than it sounds. I'm not sure I'd want a whole one, but a couple bites were awfully tasty.

A couple of glasses at the wine pavillion and some zucchini on a stick and it was time to head home. We always promise to go back a few days later but as Angelenos, the schlep out to Pomona is even more daunting the second time. So we count the days until next year. Which is now, this year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Coca-Cola, hecho en Mexico, vendido en Costco!

Yeah, we all know they changed the recipe on us years ago. It wasn't hard to figure out. One day it just didn't taste so good anymore. I stopped drinking it. Then, a few years ago, I was in Zacualpan, a stunning hilltop mining town south of Mexico City and it was hot. Too hot for cerveza, so really, really warm. I get a Coke. It's in a bottle and it's amazingly delicious. Finally I understood what John at Galco's has been talking about all those times I was stubbornly filling my cart with spicy ginger ales. Yes, it's the real thing.

You see, Mexican Coca-Cola is made with cane sugar, while the stuff we get here is made with corn syrup. A small difference, the folks at Coke thought, but a tasty one.

Mexican Coke has been around the states for a while and, if you know where to look, readily available—but pricey. Until now. Costco has it for just under $18 for a 24-bottle case. Get it while you can—summer's coming.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Lowdown: The Spanish Kitchen

In Los Angeles, the land of superb authentic Mexican cuisine, The Spanish Kitchen stands out as one of the best gourmet restaurants. It’s dimly lit, but warm interior, is decorated with dark woods, leather, ornamental iron-work, and soft red lights. Guests are invited to sit down, get comfy and enjoy any of the panoply of tasty dishes they’ve got to offer.

Like any good Mexican restaurant, the bar has a lengthy menu of top shelf tequilas, for those that can handle it, and offers a variety of dressed up margaritas, such as pomegranate and prickly pear. Salsa and chips arrive at the table right away, and the guacamole that can be ordered to go with them is delicious! (What kind of Mexican restaurant would it be if it had mediocre guac?)

For starters, there’s the sweet corn tamale. I shared it with three other people as an appetizer, but it was so delicious we wished that we had all ordered our own! Their fajitas are a generous portion of meat served in a sizzling hot pan with peppers and onions, tortillas and fixings on the side, so you can make your own at your table. I ordered the Mexican barbeque pork, cooked in a banana leaf and served with tortillas to wrap it up in- so tender and flavorful!

While we were too full to stick around for dessert, they offer traditional vanilla flan, which I’m sure would have been just as good as the rest of our meal. The Spanish Kitchen also has “Enchilada Mondays”, boasting fourteen different enchiladas to choose from. “Tequila School” classes beginning in June. Intrigued? Then check The Spanish Kitchen out at…

—Kaelin Burns

826 N La Cienega Blvd
(at Willoughby Ave.)
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 659-4794