LuncHaim Favorites

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Dear LuncHaimers,

I am recapping a solid first half of LuncHaim eats for 2013 and would like to pay a little visual homage to my favorite spots to lunch it up!

FYI, the Chego Truck is no more. Visit their new location in Chinatown:
727 North Broadway, #117, 90012

As for Guisados. They are still up to their old tricks and are in the works of launching a 3rd location in DTLA.

Much love to Guisados and Chego for all the good eats and pretty pictures!

The Elotes Man – Culver City Farmers Market

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The Elotes Man…Of all the goodness I have come across in my 6 years as an Angelino, this is my favorite slice of culinary tradition. Corn is sweet, crisp, snappy and juicy. Buttery at times…Maybe some salt. That’s as far as American’s have taken your traditional ear of corn. Leave it to Mexican culture to completely transform your flavor perception of those little golden nuggets. Butter, lime juice, salt, parmesan cheese, spices/seasoning, hot sauce and mayonnaise roasted in a 800 degree inferno of heat; that is The Elotes Man. Just press play and make your way to the Downtown Culver City Farmers Market every Tuesday afternoon/evenings from 2-7pm.
Thank you, Elotes Man!
#LuncHaim

Sotto – Beverly Hills

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Lets start with dessert. I have been a cannoli connoisseur since 1997. In my 6 years living here in Los Angeles I’ve uncovered ZERO cannoli spots. Italian restaurants, bakeries, cafes…Nothing of note. I’ve gone as far as having people fly me cannoli’s back from their trips to New York, Boston and Miami. It wasn’t until a recent trip to Beverly HIlls that I discovered an Italian kitchen called Sotto on Pico just off Beverwil. Sotto’s cannoli has a thinner and flakier crust inspired by traditional Sicilian recipes. According to the chef, they use red wine instead of marsala or cooking wine (shows what I know…Had no idea you needed wine to make crust!). The typical LA cannoli would involve one of those disgusting maraschino cherries or flakes of green-dyed coconut (Bay Cities…barf!).Image Here we have ends covered in coarse crumbles of pistachio and what looks like the cannoli was used for a q-tip. That isnt ear wax though, its fresh orange marmalade; a truly toothsome touch. The ricotta custard within is cool, fresh, dotted with crumbled chocolate chips and filled into shells on the spot. In my 15 years of cannoli connoisseurship I have not enjoyed a finer specimen.

ImageMy LuncHaimers…I’m starting to feel like you all think I am like the Double Rainbow Guy of food reviews. Think of me what you will, but have I steered you wrong? Lest the streak remain unfettered when I unveil to you Sotto’s Cauliflower Almond Zuppa: (pureed cauliflower and almond, chilies, capers, raisins, onion, garlic, honey). You look at it, you think cream. You taste it, you think cream. No cream. Supposedly, the almonds are cooked down and pureed with the cauliflower. The pureed almonds’ oils and fats provide the illusion of cream while your buds are smacked around with salty sweetness, herbs, charred capers and raisins. Served with toasted bread that stays crunchy despite the flavorful soup it soaks up. I deliver no lies. It is the best soup I’ve ever had that wasn’t Ramen or Pho. (But do you really count those as soups?)

 
Charred Little GemsBlistered Little Gems salad: slightly charred wedges of fresh greens covered with anchovy garlic pestata and breadcrumbs. The flavors going on in this simple yet extravagant appetizer are ones I strongly recommend your taste buds reckon with. The garlic and anchovy fillets when ground down to a paste go incredible together. The dish says bread crumbs, but they aren’t your typical bread crumbs. It more resembles a very soft sand with a completely pleasant texture rather than grit. The dish is drizzled in what I would imagine is some high quality olive oil and topped with thin slabs of freshly grated aged Caprino Sardo. The cheese, olive oil, garlic anchovy paste, bread crumbs and charred greens come to life in your mouth to form a flavor equation that must be broken down and experienced. I don’t think I’ve ever written such mouthwatering prose about a salad in my life.

Salsiccia e friarielli                                                                                                                                                    Oh right, Sotto also fires Neopolitan style pizzas (probably what they are most known for in Los Angeles). Pictured above is Salsiccia e friarielli. sotto-6 I am a rapini lover and the crumbled sausage could not be a finer dance partner for rapini’s wilted waltz atop the pizza dance floor. The dough            resembles thin crust but is by no means crisp or flakey. Instead the doughy foundation is the right combo and fluff and chew. Fired in Sotto’s high quality wood burning furnace, the final product comes out with charred imperfections which gives the pizza a surprising subtle crunch while the insides remain pillow soft. The chilies and mozz congeal the pizza’s Italian harmony.

In a city with notoriously bad pizza noteriety, the first question is: Is it the best pizza in LA? I’m telling you it is up there. But regardless of where or how you rank the pizza, Sotto is so much more than a swanky pizza parlor. Get to Sotto, stat! 

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Earl’s Gourmet Grub – Mar Vista

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What better place for #LuncHaim to exploit than a spot that focuses on one thing: Lunch!

ImageMy trusty Lunch disciple Ben Liebenberg and I set off a mile down the road to Earl’s Gourmet Grub in Mar Vista. They sling a few staple breakfast items that can be altered (check out their Order of the Week!) here and there all day, starting at 8am (coffee served next door @ Venice Grind). Lunch is broken down into four sections: hot & cold sandwiches, burgers & salads. LA is a burger mecca, and my heart will forever belong to The Apple Pan, but Earl’s Cowsciutto is a flavor-filled wrecking ball of sweet and pungent juiciness. A half lb. Niman Ranch patty (If you want to go lean and gamey, they also have Bison patties), crispy Prosciutto di Parma, Fig Hash, a Maytag Bleu Cheese blob, fresh bed of Arugula and Aioli on a Brioche bun. Served with a small mixed green side salad and very light cabbage slaw. Is it the best burger in LA? No, but worth being devoured for consideration. I will go as far as saying it is the best burger within the district of Mar Vista!

ImageThe word Gourmet is thrown around so cheaply now-a-days. Earl’s elevates the noun back to its root meaning with their salad menu. Ahi Tuna, Grilled Prawns, and Blue Crab are the headlining mains for these savory salads. All are plated with Mixed Greens or Arugula and very light yet immensely flavorful dressings; perfect accoutrements! My go to has always been the Ahi Tuna Niçoise: Green Beans, Fingerling Potato, Hard Boiled Egg, Olives, Tomato, Mixed Greens, Lemon Herb Vinaigrette. That is up until I found you can pretty much order any sandwich and have it made as a salad. In which case I had Earl’s Grub Experts doctor up their NEW Sushi Sammy (Seared Sushi-Grade Ahi, Asian Slaw, Avocado, Cucumber, Spicy Mayo on Brioche Bun) in salad form (*Pictured above). 

ImageIf you venture to Earl’s for Lunch, you will be pleasantly surprised as you stroll back to the punch clock. It all burns clean. Its because they don’t slack on the quality of their ingredients. The prices are slightly higher than the norm for that reason, but they are not ludicrous. There are a handful of lunch spots in the area I will leave unmentioned that charge in upwards of $15 for the same fare. Every item at Earl’s ranges from $7-$12. Not cheap, not exorbitant, but worth every ounce of love put into their Grub.

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12226 Venice Boulevard, Mar Vista, CA 90066
Hours:
8-4 Seven Days a Week