cheese

It had been quite hot these days. Spring is here, and it is making us forget all about the cold winter. Hot days means nice walks on the beach and sunsets. Corona del Mar is by far one of my favorite beaches in Orange County. You have nice homes to look at on one side, and a beautiful seaside sunset on the other. Stumbling across Side Door, the concept of it was what drew me to this place. Just adjacent to the uber expensive restaurant, Five Crowns, Side Door is literally a side entrance to the restaurant. They both share the same space. Side Door, being more relaxed, less expensive and less stuffy, it looked like a good fit. The English-style gastropub specializes in cheeses and charcuterie — just my kind of place.

We started off with the shishito peppers. Blistered, then topped with manchego, the peppers were a good start. It had a nice mild flavor, and the blanket of cheese just finished it off nicely. The peppers were kind of bitter and earthy. Thank goodness for the manchego.

Of course, we went for the charcuterie and cheese. For the meats, I had to go for the prosciutto. The flavor was delicate and buttery. One of the cheeses, La Tur from Italy, was a nice “funky” cheese. It was strong, creamy, and quite delicious. A little went a long way. Eating it all with the prosciutto and fruit preserves was a delight. I also had a sample of some cheese from Vermont, and that was quite good as well. I am a sucker for cheese and cured meats. The selection at Side Door was quite impressive.

When I saw avocado mash, I immediately thought guacamole. This was very much a guacamole, but very much not. Not tainted with any lime, cilantro, or other over bearing ingredients, this one allowed the avocado to shine. To me, this was nothing special. The baked pita chips were a good match with the avocado, but nothing was screaming deliciousness. A tasty and healthy snack — I’ll give it that.

This must have been my favorite item of the night. Ironic that it’s a salad. The combination of some of the best tomatoes ever and balsamic reduction wasn’t enough, they had a nice micro green salad to go with it. To top it all off, they put it besides some of creamiest and smoothest fresh mozzarella slices ever. Everything together, yes, I mean with the tomato, balsamic reduction, cheese, and even some of that prosciutto, each bite was fresh and fantastic.

Have you had really good prime rib? I mean the stuff from Lawry’s or Summit House. Now, slice that up, and put a heaping pile inside a French roll. That is what we have here at Side Door. The prime rib was cooked so perfectly medium rare, and each bite was easy to tear off. The meat was fatty, juicy, and delicious. Dipping it in the au jus and the horseradish made it even tastier. I wasn’t expecting much from this sandwich, but the simplicity of the ingredients and the legit prime rib was all it needed. This is a must order.

I dig the concept of this place. The back door from a more expensive restaurant is all I really need. Less expensive, more casual, and probably better tasting, the Side Door restaurant has it all — a nice beer selection for those coming for drinks, a nice selection of cheap eats for those who come for food. This little corner in the upscale part of Corona del Mar is indeed a gem.

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The Kitchen in Silver Lake was intriguing to me. I was first introduced to this place by a friend and was told about the cool concoctions they have here. Pear pancakes? Delicious mac and cheese? I was sold. Upon arriving, I couldn’t help but notice the interesting layout of the whole restaurant. A mural on the side, the small, quaint space, and the different people dining there, it was all just different — in a good way of course.

I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken. It was a 7oz boneless fried filet topped with country gravy. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes and succotash. The chicken was crispy, and believe it or not, tasted healthy. Though fried, it was light and the chicken was juicy. The gravy mixed in with the potatoes and vegetables from the succotash was a good mixture.

The mac and cheese in my opinion was a disappointment. My ideal mac and cheese is very cheesy, gooey, and savory. Theirs, though made with extra sharp cheddar and a garlicy cream sauce, was a bit lacking in flavor. The cream sauce made more of a soupy bottom, and the decadent cheese flavor I yearned for was missing. Hints of garlic flavor saved this dish in some ways, but it just needed to be more creamy.

It sucks that I couldn’t order the pear pancakes. I wouldn’t mind coming here during breakfast time to give them a try. The cuisine here was less refined in a good way. The food was straignt forward and had no pretension at all. Our waitor, who seemed to be the owner was friendly and genuinely nice to us. He conversed with us and made us feel as comfortable as possible. He just seemed like a cool, down to earth kind of guy. That, you can’t find just anywhere. I guess that’s what The Kitchen is all about — the people.

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There comes a time in a man’s life where sliced bread and meat and cheese won’t work.  Regular baloney and American cheese, microwave lasagna, Lays potato chips, soup from a can — all of this won’t work.  One would need more.  Bay Cities Italian Deli is what Los Angeles needs more of — a gourmet deli market with a sense of knowing what they are doing. It needs to be a little messy and chaotic in there, but the food has to be on point.  Bay Cities Italian Deli is what every salted cured meat enthusiast wants.  Santa Monica, you are one lucky city.

So here is the short story of why we decided not to eat there, and make this into a little beach picnic.  Waiting in line, I busted out my camera.  I took one shot, and the guy behind the counter says, “no photography”. He continues to explain that since there are a bunch of paparazzi and celebrity activity there, they have a no camera policy.  See that guy in black, looking at the camera?  That was him. I quietly put my camera away in embarrassment, and moved along.  Though I did luckily get one shot of the inside, we decided to take our food to-go.

First, I will start off with the Godmother.  This is their most popular sandwich, and it comes in spicy, or mild — in which I had the latter.  I had high expectations for this sandwich, and it delivered for the most part. This thing was huge, and quite a deal for 8 bucks.  Get the works like I did, and you are looking at mayo, Italian dressing, mustard onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and a chopped pepper salad.  That’s a lot of ingredients, and we didn’t even touch upon the meat and cheese yet. You got Genoa salami, mortadella, coppacola, ham, and prosciutto. With that, layers of provolone sealed the deal.  This sandwich packs a lot of flavor.

Taste wise, this thing has a bunch of it.  A little too much maybe?  The pepper salad is very tart and vinegary.  I tend to like picked and salty things, but to others — I can see why this would be a bit much for them. The bread was another factor — by itself, probably one of the best.   It was too chewy and hard to bite through, which made the sandwich messy to eat.  Trust me, I love a nice chewy, dense bread with a crispy crust.  Eating it as a sandwich bread wasn’t functional.

We ordered some chicken wings just to try.  I would pass on these.  They were cold, salty and breaded.  The breading wasn’t crispy, but just packed with salt. The spice was there as my mouth was burning after one wing.  Try other options, as they have a lot of other stuff.

We ordered the bocconcini because we were feeling a bit like cheese. This was really tasty.  Each ball of the fresh mozzarella was delicious.  It was spiced with pepper flakes and was marinating with peppers in oil.  The texture of the fatty, buttery cheese was delicious.

I wanted some prosciutto.  Prosciutto is probably my favorite deli meat.  It is delicate and butter in texture, and it has the right amount of saltiness.  The little don Lorenzo was perfect for my craving.  It was a small torpedo sandwich stacked full of prosciutto. Inside it also had fresh mozzarella and peppers.  Though it did get boring after a while, it was deliciously meaty and salty and buttery.  Honestly, I would have just been happy with a pile of prosciutto.

For dessert, we had the mini cannoli.  This was not to my liking.  The filling tasted a bit off and outer cookie part was stale. It soaked in all of that cream and formed weird texture and taste that I can’t describe.  And the green stuff, not a clue.  I heard that they were good, but I guess I was misinformed.  Good thing I had more fresh mozzarella to wash out the taste.

Los Angeles can use a lot more markets like Bay Cities Italian Deli.  They have the right recipe.  Everything deli, they offer it.  Stay away on Mondays, because they are closed.  Their sandwiches are one of the best money can buy in Los Angeles. Relaxing at the beach, with all that good food was the best.  They really stay true to their roots.  They don’t try to change much — the just do what they usually do, and they are good at it.  The products are good as a result of that.

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Walking around the Orange Circle in Orange, CA, I stumbled upon The Bruery Provisions.  Entering, I was amazed by the wall of beer bottles.  They had so much, I don’t know how anyone can choose from such a wide selection. They sold different kinds of wines and drinks.  What fascinated me the most was their interesting cheese selection.  We were thrilled to find out they offered a beer tasting.  It was only noon and planning on drinking was kind of exciting.

The 5 flights were all on tap.  The menu pictured above, these beers were kinds I have never heard before.  It was fun trying out these exotic beers for the first time.  I think my favorite was the first one.  I like beer that is light and crisp, and the citrus and fruity notes in the beer were really nice. It was a great eye opener to different kinds of beers.  I think I can benefit from trying more beers.  Heck, I think anyone can.

We also got some bread and butter so that our stomachs wouldn’t be so empty.  The best part was the truffle salt on top of the butter. I don’t know if it was the truffle or the fact that it was Danish butter, but the butter was very rich.  It had such a depth of flavor, and it was really wasn’t your ordinary butter. The sourdough slices were a perfect match for this.

This is a really nice shop.  They have a wide variety of beers all over the world.  The wine selection was broad, and the fact that they have cheese and other goods was a plus.  It would be heaven for anyone trying to host and wine and cheese party or any exotic beer enthusiast. The prices are affordable and trying out a cheese tasting or wine and beer is really fun.  I am glad I stumbled upon this place walking around Orange Square.  Also check out Felix Continental Cafe down the street if you want something more after your bread and butter — just don’t forget to take home your favorite beer and wine before hand.

The Bruery Provisions on Urbanspoon

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