The Curious Palate

Curiousity ended with the name, The Curious Palate.  I was curious about what was so curious about The Curious Palate.

The Curious Palate is pretty much a sandwich and salad shop.  And some sides.  Or maybe it’s sort of like a little deli.  Whatever it is, it’s a pretty neat place.  Aside from sandwiches and salads and a few other things on the menu, they sell different cheeses, deli meats, unique sodas, homemade jams, artisan chocolates, and they serve Intelligentsia coffee for the Westsiders in between Silverlake and Venice.

I ordered the Prosciutto Panini, the Mac n’ Cheese, and some pineapple soda.  The prosciutto panini had obviously prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers, and artichoke.  The panini was pressed to a perfect crisp yet soft on the inside, the melted cheese gave the sandwich a nice texture, the peppers and artichoke gave the panini a nice flavor, and the prosciutto good.  I especially liked the taste the vegetables added to the panini.  It came with a side of couscous.  The Mac n’ Cheese had four different cheeses which is too long for me to list but you can check out their menu.  The mac n’ cheese was good, but considering the amount they give and for five dollars I could get three yummy carne asada tacos and a bottle of Jarritos in the Eastside…  I know you can’t compare apples and oranges, but hey, weigh in some opportunity cost and there ya go.

Overall, I like having The Curious Palate as an option to go to if I want a good sandwich.  10-15 minute drive from my place just ain’t that bad of a drive.  But I do think it’s a tad pricey for what it is and for what you can get elsewhere.  But then again, so are the burgers at the Apple Pan but I keep going back for more.  And once again I go on comparing things that aren’t equivalent.

The Curious Palate
12034 Venice Blvd

Los Angeles
, CA 90066
Phone: 310.437.0144

The Curious Palate on Urbanspoon

Cemitas Tepeaca

The plan.  Go to school and finish class at 2:00pm.  Head over to East LA to try a cemita from Cemitas Tepeaca which I read about over on York Blvd.  And then head on over to Irvine to meet up with some church folk for dinner.

Things didn’t go quite as planned.  I went to school.  I tried a cemita for my very first time.  And I did go to Irvine to spend some time with church friends.  I did all that.  But who would have thought that heading over deep into Orange Country from East LA at 3 in the afternoon would take less than an hour.  That gave me a lot of time to spare so I went to Strawberry Farms to hit some range balls.  The only reason why I bother to mention this is because at this pretty nice golf course, I saw two grown white men go at it.  Started out with some casual trash talking to an all-out fist fight.  Wow.

Alright, so with that irrelevant piece of information aside, I’ll talk about what I had over in East LA.  If I could compare the cemita to anything, it would be a torta.  I ordered the Cemita de Milanesa.  Milanesa is a breaded and deep fried cutlet.  So it was simple.  Sesame roll, the cutlet, avocado, these carrots and red jalapeno peppers (side note, don’t ask for them on the side like I did), and cheese… a lot of cheese.  The bread was pretty hard, unlike the torta.  I thought what made the cemita different was the peppers.  Despite it being red, I didn’t think there was too much of a difference from the green peppers and carrot mix you get at other Mexican places but it certainly was a nice addition.  The peppers gave a kick to a rather heavier taste.

But I noticed my cemita looked different from everyone elses.  Everyone else, when they bit into their cemita had strands of cheese coming out just like a slice of cheesy pizza.  Mine didn’t do that.  After I finished mine, I realized, everyone else paid a dollar more to get a cemita CON QUESILLO.  I guess it’s some type of Mexican string cheese but it looked better than what I had.  I need to remember that for next time.  Cemita de Milanesa con Quesillo.

Oh yeah, and I ordered a coke too.  And of course my coke was different from everyone elses’.  I was drinking out from a can while everyone else was drinking out from a bottle…  Soy un gringo.

<Edited 5/11/09> I don’t know what it was about today, but my Cemita experience was a whole lot different.  It was more like that described on York Blvd. than my first time there.  I ordered the Cemita de Milanesa con Quesillo with jalapeno.  The first time I was there, there was a bit of a communication problem in regards to the chile on my part.  He asked me what kind of chile and I said yes.  He paused.  Chipotle or Jalapeno?  Yes.  Hahaha.

Today the bun was a whole lot softer.  I tasted the papalo (if you’re not into the whole herby/minty thang, then don’t ask for it) which gave the cemita its own unique taste.  The quesillo was good, maybe a tad salty.  I got the Mexican coke.  I don’t know what it was, but I know it was better this time around.

Cemitas Tepeaca
E. Cesar Chavez Ave & N Indiana St.
Los Angeles, CA 90063

Bar on 4 (Neiman Marcus)

I don’t have many reasons to go to Neiman Marcus.  I don’t have much desire to go to Neiman Marcus.  But I guess the bad economy can be felt at high-end department stores such as Neiman Marcus.  This past weekend, there was this promotion where on top of sales, the number of points you get for every dollar you purchase went up many-fold.  That’s the least of my concerns.  But what I do care about is the “Perk Card” they sent… it’s basically a $50 card to any of the restaurants in Neiman Marcus and it expires on the 30th of this month.

That meant, “Oh heck yea I’m going to Neiman Marcus!  Lobster Club Sandwich here I come!!”  Normally, it will cost you $24.  $24 for a sandwich!  But hey, it’s a free lunch, might as well splurge.  One of the first things I learned in Economics was that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  Apparently, these economic scholars were wrong; forgoing this presents an even larger opportunity cost than enjoying the sandwich.  Normally, the Lobster Club is good; but a free Lobster Club is even better.

Make your way up to the fourth floor of Neiman Marcus for this treat.  The bread is perfectly toasted and there’s just the right amount of everything.  The lobster doesn’t have that fishy smell.  The bacon is cut into bits and it doesn’t have a strong smoky flavor (I don’t like that smoky taste), there’s just the right amount of avocado and a hardboiled egg found it’s way on there.  It feels so clean.

This sandwich isn’t something I can enjoy everyday.  Thank goodness for that Perk Card.  I think Neiman Marcus made a mistake by sending us another Perk Card.  Hehehe.

Bar on 4 (Neiman Marcus)
Fourth floor, Men’s Dept.
Neiman Marcus
9700 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: 310.550.5900  ext: 4370

Super Tortas

Let’s put yourself in my shoes.  You love tortas.  But you can’t find places that make good tortas.  And then you come across a place with a name like “Super Tortas.”  I’d bet you’d try it too.  I mean, how could you not at least give it a try.

With a name like Super Tortas, you’d better expect a damn good torta.  With a name like Super Tortas, you’d expect them to be pretty damn confident with their tortas.  Let me say this, I wasn’t disappointed.  I found this place online desperate to try tortas from places other than El Taurino (which by the way makes awesome tortas).  And if I wasn’t looking out for this place, I probably would have missed it too.  It’s on some strip mall on Alvarado and you definitely would not have been able to see it from Alvarado if you’re driving.  To spare you that trouble, it’s on Alvarado and Maryland (one street south of 3rd Street).  Parking may not be ideal, but there should be plenty of street parking all around the place.

You walk in and order at the counter.  As soon as you sit down, you probably would wait two minutes before your food comes out.  Five minutes at the most.  It’s that fast.  I ordered the Rib-eye torta.  And just as fast as it came out, I finished it.  The bread, the heavenly bread, the yummy bread that’s buttered and toasted just right, the bread that’s toasted just right and yet nice and soft inside.  The slabs of rib-eye, the tasty slabs of rib-eye.  Everything about it was perfect.  I washed it down with some horchata.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I want to compare the torta from El Taurino and Super Tortas sometime in the near future I hope.  Wait for it!

Super Tortas
360 S Alvarado St Ste 6
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Phone: 213.413.7953

The French Garden

This is where you would least expect it. Make your way out to The French Garden and you’d probably think you were lost. If you have the correct directions, chances are, you’re not. It’s a nice little place amidst the warehouses and the factories in that area of Downtown where you probably do not venture out to unless you have business there, or of course, if you want to eat lunch at The French Garden.

You’d expect the place to be French fare. But nothing stood out as being exclusively French. Or maybe it was because I was able to pronounce everything on the menu. Whatever it was, it was a good lunch at a good price. The French Garden opens for lunch only. I don’t think you’d want to eat dinner in this area anyway. Okay, I exaggerate the shady-ness of the area. But it’s a great place for lunch. You can sit out in the sun if you’d like or go over to the shaded patio or maybe even indoors. Well, to be honest, I don’t know if indoor sitting is available but considering they got the building to themselves, I assumed they did. Anyway, the menu consists of a bunch of salads, sandwiches, and pastas. They have some meat dishes as well.

I had the steak sandwich and enjoyed it. You got yourself some cuts of steak in there along with onions, greens, and some dijon mustard on a toasted French Baguette! I loved that combo of the steak and the dijon mustard, and the toasty-ness of the bread made it better. ‘Twas good. ‘Twas satisfying. If I knew French I would have said something in French but oh well.

There are plenty of tables at The French Garden, the food is good, and the price is generous. It’s close to USC so Trojans should check this out. I think the 10-15 minute drive here for lunch is worth it. It’s a good alternative to the corridor of fast food establishments on Figueroa and it sure beats the food on campus. Valet parking is available so you don’t have to worry about looking for parking space unlike the rest of Downtown and I believe it’s complimentary. The French Garden is something you should add to your “to-try” lists if you haven’t done so already.

Oh yeah. Happy New Year everyone!

The French Garden
1936 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Phone: 213.623.4028

French Garden on Urbanspoon

The Trails Cafe

In 1896, a wealthy man by the name Griffith J. Griffith donated a huge plot of land to the City of Los Angeles. He wasn’t the sanest of people and he referred to himself as a Colonel. I was about to go into a little history but now I realize… this is a food blog, or at least an attempt at a food blog. So long story short, we have Griffith Park in Los Angeles today because of a generous donation by Mr. Griffith, excuse me, Colonel Griffith. An interesting place considering how urbanized this city is. It’s wilderness in the heart of a concrete jungle. Okay, maybe a bit north of the heart of Los Angeles.

I’d consider it one of the jewels in Los Angeles. You have two 18-hole golf courses and a 9-hole course, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theater, Pony Rides, recreation areas, trails, some more trails, and a whole list of other things that I do not know about and obviously have not taken advantage of. It’s a shame that it isn’t frequented by fellow Angelenos. We all know where and what Griffith Park is. But we just go about our daily lives living in our little bubbles and don’t even dare to explore.

So I decided to explore a little and went to Griffith Park with my mother. One of my classes got canceled and free time was all I had. I wanted to check out this ginormous chunk of land. We drove over to Griffith Park, parked the car, and wondered which trail to go up. Maybe I should get some sort of map next time. But we walked, hoped we wouldn’t get lost, and almost made it to the Griffith Observatory but decided to head back down. I was hungry and my mom insisted that it was too hot. So we walked back down the trail and made a stop at The Trails Cafe to grab something to eat.

It’s a little cafe at the end of the trails. Or at the start. Wait. It depends where you start. Ok. That’s not the point. I was hungry. I went to The Trails Cafe to eat lunch after that brief walk on the trail. It was a nice, quiet little place. Apparently they have wifi too! And they play, what I believe is hippie music. Too bad I don’t know what hippie music sounds like. It’s a modest place. Nothing fancy. You have your park tables and benches and some trees providing you with ample shade and some leaves falling down. That can be good for scenery I suppose, but I wouldn’t want leaves falling on my food. Eh, what can one leaf do, right? But anyway, the food. The food. It was okay. Just okay. Somethings are too good to be true. A nice little walk on one of the trails of Griffith Park. Almost a great view; almost because of the smog. A nice shaded area for eating and also just being away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the not-so-friendly Los Angeles traffic. But the food was ok. Not bad. But not great. I had a “Snake Dog,” an Avocado Sandwich, a slice of apple pie, and some lemonade to go with that.

There aren’t too many things on the menu. Pretty simple I must say. But it sucked that not everything on the menu is being served. I asked for a Snake Dog and “Let me check” was the answer I got. I don’t know what I would have done if they had no Snake Dogs considering almost everything else is vegan this or vegetarian that. I love meat. I can’t live without meat. Meat. I need meat. But they had a Snake Dog and all was good. The Snake Dog is a sausage on a skewer that’s wrapped in some puff pastry. It was buttery and good but it was a tad too little to fill me up. So I had an Avocado Sandwich along with that. One thing that I thought was weird was that, the thing had “soy bacon bits” in it. Soy bacon bits… what in the world is that? It was red, I did not know soy was red, and it was crunchy and had no flavor. All it did for the Avocado Sandwich was add a little crunch to it. Can’t go wrong with avocados and I didn’t mind the crunch in my sandwich. Other than the avocado and the soy bacon bits, the sandwich had cheese, mayo, a bunch of alfalfa sprouts, tomato, and served on squaw bread. The sandwich was light and good enough. It was pretty healthy I must say. Then for the apple pie. It looked amazing, to me at least, but it didn’t turn out the way it looked. I didn’t like the fact that they did not peel the damn apples. I want peeled apples in my apple pie next time, thank you. They did have other pastry selections and maybe I’ll try those next time. To give them the benefit of the doubt, it was the unpeeled apples I didn’t like, not the pie crust. So maybe they have other pies.

To sum it up, I like the place. The food was decent. It was healthy, maybe except that Snake Dog! The price isn’t something I would be complaining about. It’s a nice way to relax after walking the trails. It’s a nice way of getting away from the stress of the city. But what I do recommend is probably that you pack some lunch or some snacks, or breakfast at that. Though The Trails Cafe does have a breakfast menu which I haven’t tried so I can’t jump to conclusions on that. But I think I’m stamping my approval on the location itself, Griffith Park. There are plenty of benches there to eat at, there’s plenty of shade, and who knows, maybe The Trails Cafe has some good coffee and tea. So whether you choose to eat at The Trails Cafe or pack your own meal, come to Griffith Park and enjoy what the city is offering to Angelenos at no cost. Ok, so the revenues from taxes fund this place but you get my point. Griffith Park. Go. Now.

The Trails Cafe
2333 Fern Dell Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90068
Phone: 323.871.2102

The Trails Outdoor Cafe on Urbanspoon

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