Tragic Sandwich

Food. Family. Fun.

Archive for the category “L.A. Landmarks”

Traditions: What We Did on the Fourth of July

I like to think my Independence Day tradition is watching 1776, but the fact is that I don’t always do that. In fact, I suspect I usually don’t. But I love that movie so much that it feels like it ought to be my tradition.

My second favorite Fourth came when I lived in Austin. It was incredibly hot, as Austin is wont to be, and my apartment air conditioning was working poorly, as my apartment air conditioning was wont to do. On the spur of the moment, I called my brother in San Antonio and said, “What are you doing for the Fourth?” He said, “[Best friend] is coming over, and we’re going to grill.” I said, “Can I join you?” and then did so. We grilled everything but the french fries–burgers, buns, corn, you name it. After dinner we all went up to the second floor and watched fireworks on the horizon. And because my brother was house-sitting for my parents, the air conditioning was much better.

My favorite Fourth doesn’t even feel like the Fourth, because the highlight of the day had nothing to do with American independence. Nine years ago today, Mr. Sandwich proposed in a way that was so perfectly us that I can’t imagine it happening any other way.

In more recent years, we’ve gone to a variety of parties–last year I think we hit four in the 3-day weekend. But none of those materialized for today, so we woke up this morning with no plans. We talked about whether to take Baguette out to see fireworks–would she love them? would she get scared? After deciding that it would probably keep her up (and us out) too late, we opted for a daytime visit to Travel Town.

When my brother and I were kids, he adored Travel Town–after all, you could climb all over the trains and even sit on top of them. On one visit he spotted a birthday party and announced that he wanted his next birthday to be at Travel Town, and it was.

But we moved away and grew up, and I hadn’t been back. Now, with Baguette, it seemed like it might make a nice outing. We decided to head over as soon as they opened, and I began to get ready. As I was packing the diaper bag, I looked up and discovered that Baguette had passed out on the couch. Apparently she was ready for her nap–two and a half hours early. In the interest of letting sleeping babies lie, we moved her to the bed and postponed our departure.

I’m glad that we did, because she loved it. We read about different kinds of train cars, peered into a car that had been used by USPS, examined a variety of engines and box cars and lounge cars, ran around an empty passenger car (now used for parties, but not being used for anything at the moment we were there)–and of course rode the miniature train that circles the grounds.

She fell asleep on the way home, resulting in an unusual second nap. So while we’re still set on grilling later on, the question remains: will we, or will we not, bundle her up in PJs and shoes to watch fireworks?

Regardless, may you all have a happy and safe Fourth of July. And if you don’t celebrate the Fourth of July, just be happy and safe.


A Day at the Beach




Ready for Action

Big Ocean, Little Girl

Sand castle destruction

Mommy and Baguette

It’s a Zoo!

Baguette is probably not looking at elephants.

My dad and stepmom were in town this past weekend, and while Mr. Sandwich did his 20-mile run (someone’s training for the L.A. Marathon next month), the four of us went to the Los Angeles Zoo.

Baguette wasn’t particularly interested in the animals, but she did enjoy spinning and walking in circles. She enjoyed me doing that, too.

She was less interested in riding in the stroller we rented, although it was handy for pushing around the diaper bag, which still weighs a ton for reasons I can’t quite identify. And while she did walk, for an awful lot of the time, she wanted me to carry her.

Which really pointed out to me that I don’t particularly care for the L.A. Zoo. There is a lot of walking involved in a visit, and when you’re carrying a toddler, it’s a long way between animals.

A long way.

This is why I still haven’t joined a gym.

Down on The Farm

The San Fernando Valley is home to The Farm, a ramshackle but delightful animal rescue site that doubles as a petting zoo. It’s home to horses, cows, sheep, emus, alpacas, pigs, a variety of poultry, and an astonishing number of goats.

Although as far as Baguette was concerned, the place was full of puppies. She loved it, and them. We’ll be back.

Thank You, Los Angeles

I’d like to give a special thanks to the city of Los Angeles. Because I’m sure they realized just how bad traffic would be if they shut down exits on the 405 and started construction on Sepulveda Blvd., the nearest alternative for getting through the Santa Monica Mountains.

I know we’re supposed to be impressed that they realized that shutting down the Wilshire Blvd. on- and off-ramps now, on top of that, would be madness. And, sure, it’s good that the Rampture was delayed.

But did those planners factor in what it would be like when, just as you pull onto the long, long on-ramp that is jammed with cars, with nowhere to go but straight ahead (at a crawl), you hear the dulcet tones of your toddler vomiting in the back seat?

I’m going to guess not.

Espresso Profeta


I’ve been by this place any number of times, and it’s really not that far from my bus stop. So why did it take me so long to actually go?

I’m not sure, but I’m glad I did. After a quick lunch at Sak’s (a Westwood institution), I decided to drop in at Espresso Profeta. They offer a familiar variety of lattes, mochas, and teas–and something called Cafe Nico. This delight is a shot of espresso with orange syrup, a dollop of steamed half-and-half, cinnamon, and orange zest.

And it really was a delight. I savored that tiny cup for much longer than any Starbucks latte of late (or even of this morning), and three hours later am still smiling a little on the inside. Now that’s a pick-me-up.

Photo by Peter Hellberg, via Flickr

Cult Dining

There’s cult dining everywhere. What’s cult dining? PoorTaste has a definition (see paragraphs two and three), as well as a list of the top 100 cult restaurants in the U.S.

Los Angeles has 14 of them, which is a pretty respectable percentage. I’ve eaten at (or from) five of those–Father’s Office, Pink’s Hot Dogs, Philippe the Original, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, and Porto’s Bakery and Cafe–which I think is also respectable.

For the record, I’ve also eaten at Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C. (#9, and RIP, Ben); Pat’s King of Steaks in Philadelphia (#36); Pike Place Chowder in Seattle (#68); and the Salt Lick Bar-B-Que in Driftwood, TX (#80, located outside of Austin).

I guess I’m just surprised that I didn’t see Gray’s Papaya or Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in there somewhere.

Johnnie’s Pastrami

I love chili-cheese fries. There, I said it. Mind you, this won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, especially Madame Scandal. And, of course, Mr. Sandwich.

In our old neighborhood, we had easy access to a Los Angeles institution: Johnnie’s Pastrami. Sure, the pastrami’s so good they put it in the name–but for my money, give me their chili-cheese fries.

The crinkle-cut fries are thick and crispy, and the chili is spicy enough to be flavorful without later regrets. And the cheese? It’s actual cheese, grated over the chili-drenched fries.


A Whole Lot of Food in One Post

It’s been a long time between posts. So let’s go to the highlight reel, shall we?

Recently we were introduced to Fabrocini’s Italian Restaurant in Tarzana. Best chicken piccata I can remember.

Little Toni’s in North Hollywood has great pizza–we had Canadian bacon, meatballs, and garlic on ours. It makes me wonder why we haven’t been adding garlic as a topping all along.

Tacos Michoacan serves some awesome carne asada, and the price cannot be beat.

But the real news is that my dear friend Madame Scandal (of Tea & Scandal) came for a long weekend. As she, like the Sandwiches, loves food, I figured that a tour of Los Angeles food institutions was in order. No, we did not enroll in L.A. Trade-Tech, although I hear their cafeteria–run and staffed by the culinary arts students–is excellent.

So what did we do?

First, we had lunch at Salsa and Beer. This may not be an institution, but it’s mighty fine Mexican food, which is tough to find in Madame Scandal’s home state. Dinner, naturally, was In-n-Out. You just can’t beat a good double-double.

The next day, we packed up Baguette and headed to Hollywood. Our destination? Pink’s. Verdict? A hit. That evening we invited a few other friends over for a cookout over the wood-fired grill that Mr. Sandwich has installed in our back yard.

Saturday started off slow, but wrapped up nicely with the second L.A. Street Food Festival at the Rose Bowl. Yes, I know that’s not in L.A. But the field was the site of dozens of tables stocked by local food trucks, which have become a Twitter sensation. We ate so much, and enough time has passed, that I don’t remember all of the details. But I loved the banana pudding at Nana Queen’s, and I’ve never been a fan of banana pudding. I’d go back for more of Nana Queen’s, though. Manila Machine had good adobo, although unfortunately they had run out of lumpia. And although I didn’t spot The Grilled Cheese Truck until I was too full for anything but dessert (the concourse or mezzanine or whatever it’s called midway up the stands still seems like an odd spot), I did finally get to try Coolhaus‘s ice cream sandwiches. While I had never before imagined ice cream that includes candied bacon, I can tell you that it? Is delicious.

One suggestion to the organizers: although there is a cool factor to being on the field, the need for vendors to run food down from the trucks added to the slowness of quite a few lines–even for those of us who spent the extra $$ for VIP tickets (totally worthwhile, I might add). Why not have the event in the parking lot, like the monthly swap meet held there? You can still control access (the swap meet does), and it seems like there would be fewer delays.

On Sunday we made a trip to the Encino Farmers’ Market (who doesn’t love farmers’ markets?) in the morning, and made our way to Philippe’s in Chinatown for French dip sandwiches.

And then, sadly, on Monday Madame Scandal had to go home. Frowny face. We live too far apart.

But the eat goes on.

Stan’s Doughnuts

It’s often featured on “best of lists” that focus on donuts, and if you stop in for a sample, you’ll see why.

Stan’s Doughnuts is a decades-long tradition in L.A’s Westwood Village, near UCLA. I don’t go very often, because it’s too easy to overdo. But a stop today resulted in a cream-filled chocolate-frosted (tasty), a chocolate-cheese (fantastic), and something along the lines of a honey wheat cake (in reserve).

That certainly makes more doughnuts than I need. But what the heck–they’re from Stan’s!

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