Sunday, May 19, 2019

City of Angels

After being assigned work for 2 weeks on the west coast, first in San Francisco then in LA, I decided that instead of flying home  I would spend the weekend in LA to go to a few more places.

After arriving and settling in to my hotel for the week I got a car and headed out.  The notorious LA traffic lived up to it's reputation and I had some thoughts about turning around but then decided I'm here so why not!

I headed into downtown LA to an area known as the Grand Central Market.  This is a very cool place almost a city block with restaurants and markets with all types of cuisines.

Grand Central Market in historic downtown LA

Inside the Grand Central Market

Love the market's Neon Wall!

Many of the restaurant stands have small seating areas, which seemed unusual from what I have seen at other city markets.    About halfway inside the market I found "La Tostaderia" a Latin themed food stand with a small counter of about 10 seats.  I took a seat and looked over the menu board.  I decided to try the Crispy Fried Shrimp tacos.  While waiting I heard the staff talking about my picture taking and I told them about my travels and the manager signed my book.  The two tacos were huge and looked to be one massive mound of taco!  The shrimp sat atop two corn tostada's with lettuce and a very spicy sauce.  The shrimp were huge and perfectly fried.  The tostada's made for a great way to cool down the heat of the sauce.

The "Guy Ate Here" pan at La Tostaderia

2 Fried Shrimp Taco's at La Tostaderia

The staff came by a few times to make sure I was happy with the meal and I was.  I said my goodbye's and headed out.  Just a few steps away on the back side of the market sits "Horse Thief BBQ".  They have a small stand where you order and then there is a picnic table area where Horse Thief patrons can enjoy their meals.  I was lucky to fine a table with an umbrella cover as it was a typically warm and sunny day in LA!    I looked over the menu and decided to try what Guy had during his visit, the Fried Chicken Sandwich along with Sweet Tea.

Horse Thief BBQ in LA's Grand Central Market

I got my sandwich after a short wait and it was delicious!  The chicken was crispy with honey mustard slaw, mayonnaise and pickles on the side.  It was very juicy and after my first bite the juices were flowing.  As I looked around at the other diners, they were really enjoying their meals and with a full bar on the side this is a popular after work destination.

Horse Thief BBQ's Fried Chicken Sandwich with pickles on the side

Juicy and delicious!

The next morning I headed out to try a few more places and made the 40 minute drive from the LAX airport area to Long Beach.  I ended up in a very quaint neighborhood of Long Beach.  "The Starling Diner" is a breakfast and lunch place, very popular with the locals.  I arrived just before it opened at 8a and there was already a small group waiting for it to open, I think they were regulars by the way the staff greeted them when they opened the door.  I took a seat at a small corner table and was warmly greeted by my server.  He explained the menu and their specials and we chatted a bit about my travels.  I decided to try one of their Baguette based French toast dishes, for which the Starling is known.  I chose the Apple French Toast and  was surprised how quick my meal was delivered.  Two huge baguettes stuffed with apples and mascarpone cheese in a brandy butter sauce and topped with fresh whipped crème and powdered sugar.  The meal looked huge and heavy but it was surprisingly light and delicious.  The place filled up while I was there and they even have outdoor seating, which was being used, too. My server signed my book and I headed out.  This is a place I can highly recommend if you are in the Long Beach area.

Long Beach's Starling Diner

Inside the quaint Starling Diner

My Apple French Toast - Mascarpone stuffed Baguette with Apples and Bandy Butter sauce

Leaving Long Beach I headed back into the LA downtown area and the notorious LA traffic on this Saturday morning was beginning to rear it's ugly head, which for me was not a problem as I had some time to kill before my next stop would be opening.  I got to what seemed to be the LA Arts District and I was glad that I had some time because finding parking would be a problem.  The area has a lot of condos and apartments but not too many parking places!  I finally found a spot and walked a few blocks to my next place.  "ediBol" is a place that specializes and Asian fusion cuisine.  They also have some interesting sides and sandwich choices.  I decided to try two of their smaller plates, rice fritters and grilled cheese bites.  
ediBol in the LA Arts District

ediBol's version of the Guy Ate Here poster

ediBol's small dining room area

My server brought me a bottled water service along with my small plates.  The rice fritters can first, a 6 portion triangular fritter with a rice taste and slightly sweet taste, which surprised me.  The grilled cheese bites came, 4 large pieces of cheddar and Havarti cheese with grilled onions and stone ground mustard on pretzel rolls, which is a small version of their signature sandwich.  This was delcious, one of the best I have ever had.  The sandwich is made by the roll, but it is enhanced by the strong mustard.  I had planned to try and get to another place before heading back ot the hotel but I was stuffed!  In the past I would have been able to get to one or even two more places but not anymore!

ediBol's Rice Fritter's small plate

Grilled Cheese bites

Grilled Cheese with grilled onions, stone ground mustard and Cheddar and Havarti cheeses

I headed back to my hotel to take care of some things.  I headed out later in the afternoon to the area near West Hollywood.  My first stop ws a place that when it was on the show was in the Compton area but had moved to the Hollywood area and was less then a block from a legendary food landmark. Pink's Hot Dogs, a place that I have visited several times and had a huge line.  I went to "Bludso's Bar and Que".  I was seated at a small table and looked over the menu.  They serve everything ala carte.  I chose to try the 1/4 lb. Rib Tips along with the brisket baked beans and sweet tea.

Bludso's dining area in West Hollywood

The rib tips were big and meaty, they would pass at regular ribs in many restaurants.  They were rubbed with a slightly spicy and salty base.  The beans had a chili-like taste and was pretty good.  They also brought mild house made BBQ sauce which was ok.  The meal was really good and it was very reasonably priced.  The service was excellant, too!

Bludso's Rib Tips and Baked Beans

Very meaty Rib Tips

I headed out to my last place on the trip to the very cool Fairfax Avenue in West Hollywood.  This area has a lot of restaurants and shops.  The trendy clothing shops seemed to be the most popular with lines of 20-somethings waiting to get in.

"The Golden State" is a small place that serves bugers, sandwiches, salads and hot dogs along with local microbrews on tap.  I walked up to the counter to check out the menu and order.  The guys at the counter saw my book and we chatted about my travels and they were really interested and gave me the popular fist bump.  I chose a hot dog with grilled onions and house made relish along with a micro green and cucumber salad.

The Golden State on Fairfax in West Hollywood

The meal came and the hot dog was definitely a knife and fork type of meal.  The relish had a spicy kick and the grilled onions made it very tasty, the hot dog had a Coney Island snap to it.  I really enjoyed the cucumber salad, they were thinly sliced and crispy. Before leaving several of the staff signed my book.

My Golden State Hot Dog with Cucumber Salad

Knife and Fork Hot Dog with Onions and Relish

I met a couple who were also dining there who are friends with Chef G Garvin and have met Guy before and they frequently go to the Golden State and didn't even know it had been on the show!  They were a very charming couple and we talked about the show and the different places that I had visited both in the area and around the country.

I headed back to my hotel to get ready for my work week.  My Tripe D total was now at 710.

Monday, April 22, 2019

To 700 and Beyond!

My Triple D journey began on Memorial Day 2008 with a visit to the Village Café in Richmond, Virginia.  In the 10+ years I have been to 699 places from Maine to Florida to Hawaii and many in between.  As I flew out to work in Seattle I was planning to visit a few more places and the first would be my 700th!  I called my nephew wo had recently moved to the area to see if he'd like to join me, so him and his fiancée would be with me on this milestone visit.

There were several places I had to choose from for this visit but after checking out all the places I decided on a places that looked like it would be fun and a good looking menu.  I spent the day with my nephew, Keith and his fiancée, Michele, then we headed to "The Red Door" in the north side of Seattle.  The Red Door is in the Fremont area of Seattle, an area of shops and eateries.

We walked up the stairs to the restaurant which has seating both inside and out.  We decided to eat in the bar area, which we were told is called "The Jungle" due to some fun late night parties.  We were served by Pete, who with his wife, Emily are the owners.  Pete spent a lot of time with us talking about the history of the restaurant and the building, which was actually in a different location and physically moved to the present location.

The Red Door in  Seattle

The menu has a large selection to choose from.  We decided to share a couple of appetizers and then each choose a main meal.  We chose the Korean Chicken Wings with Ranch Dressing and the Soft Pretzel with cheese.  The wings were very tasty with medium spice sauce called Gochujang, it was very good, the Ranch really enhanced the taste.  The pretzel was large and the cheese had a small amount of spice which was really good.  Michele chose the Mushroom Dip, a vegetarian version of a French Dip.  Pete told us that one of his managers is vegetarian and designed the sandwich for those that choose not to eat meat.  When it came to the table I was amazed because it looked like a French Dip! Keith chose the Chicken Fire Circle sandwich which looked spicy and he said was very spicy, loaded with jalapenos and Chipotle Mayo.  I chose the Fish and Chips (Alaskan Cod and fresh cut fries), which was featured on their Triple D episode.  The fish was very good, moist and tasty.

Red Door's bar area, the bottles are displayed in a former drugstore pantry from a past store in the building

My Fish and Chips dinner

After dinner we took some pictures wth Pete and he showed us around the restaurant.  I really enjoyed the meal and atmosphere of The Red Door.  It's a real neighborhood place, many of the other diners are regulars, it has a real family atmosphere.  I highly recommend The Red Door when vising the Seattle area.  This was a great place to celebrate my 700th Triple D visit!

The recently displayed "The Guy Ate Here" pan

Pete and I

Keith, Michele, me and Pete at The Red Door

On a side note, Pete told me that after I had emailed them prior to my visit, him and Emily were so impressed with my travels that they decided to display both the Guy Fieri signed Triple D poster and the "Guy Ate Here" pan.

My next place was in the downtown area and is open during business hours so I decided to get up early and try to get there shortly after their 630a opening.  "Piroshki on 3rd" is a Russian/European café and bakery.  I ordered from the front counter and found a table in the small dining room.

Piroshki on3rd, a Russian/European Bakery in Downtown Seattle

Front Counter and dining area

I ordered a sausage pastry and a Hot Cross Bun.  The sausage pastry is best described as a pig=in-the-blnket, The pastry roll was delicious.  Growing up I had always heard of Hot Cross Buns but had never had one.  The bun was a round roll with cinnamon and raisins, but was not overly sweet and very good.  I really enjoyed both, my biggest disappointment was the staff was not very friendly and I could sense that although they had both the Triple D poster and pan in display they really couldn't care less about my visit, which was very disappointing.

Piroshki on 3rd's "Guy Ate Here" pan

Sausage Pastry

Hot Cross Bun

My next place is one that has alluded me for a long time.  It's in the Capitol City of Olympia which is  little over a hours drive south of the Seattle airport.     I made a late morning drive because in the afternoon the drive south can be very tough!  I arrived at "Fish Tale Brew Pub" shortly after they opened.  The place has a number of different sections, a family section, bar and a small lounge to try their many beer offerings.  I took a seat in the bar area and was greeted by my server.  They specialize in pub food and local seafood.

In the State Capitol city of Olympia

This is the only mention of being on the show I could find

It's a brew pub, I found this funny!

Inside Fish Tale Brew Pub

I decided to try the Crab Cakes, 3 small cakes served over mixed greens and a side of aioli mayo.  They were really good!  I am a bit spoiled by having the best crab cakes in Baltimore but these were very good, almost on par with what I am used to.  After finishing the meal I asked my server if I could get my book signed and she gave me a very quizzical look but she did.

My Fish Tale Crab Cake meal

As I headed out of Olympia back to Seattle I passed a McDonalds where there as a mild protest going on about wages, I had heard that this was going on around the country but this was first time I had seen it!

A protest at a nearby Olympia, Washington McDonalds

After driving back from Olympia I had two places left to try on this trip.  I had to fight the two negative parts of the Emerald City, rain and traffic! I made my way to a place on the northeast side of the city.  "Wood Shop BBQ" is a small neighborhood place with a large bar.  The walls are decorated with paintings of barbecue smokers, the different types of wood used and their smoke levels and a map of the main barbecue areas of the USA inside an outline of the State of Washington.

Wood Shop BBQ in Seattle

I loved the BBQ wall with info about the popular BBQ areas of the USA 

Surprised to see Salina, Kansas on the BBQ wall!

I went up the bar to order my meal and took a seat at one of the few tables in the dining room.  Wood Shop does a huge take-out business and also a huge business at the bar.  I ordered a half a rack of ribs which came out very quickly.  The rack sat on two slices of white bread and was accompanied by some house made spicy pickles.  On the table was Wood Shops 3 house made sauces, one mild, one hot and another called coffee, which was a medium spice with a gritty coffee taste, it was pretty good.  The ribs were fall off the bone and had a nice heat kick.  They were some of he better ribs that I have ever had!

Wood Shop's Half Rack of Ribs

Wood Shop's sauces - Coffee, Regular and Spicy

After getting my book signed I headed out to my last place on the southwest side of the city.  It took about 30 minutes to get there.  "Bok A Bok Fried Chicken" is in an eclectic neighborhood with all types of restaurants and shops.  I noticed Vietnamese, Mexican, and Italian to name just a few.  Bok A Bok is a Korean place.  I decided to try their specialty and got the Chicken Drumstick plate.  It comes with a choice of sauce and I selected the Sesame Soy Garlic which came on the side.

Bok A Bok in Seattle

The Bok A Bok symbol

That's what Bok A Bok chicken is!

My meal and it was delicious.  The chicken was crunchy fried with flecks of Korean chili in the batter, but it wasn't very spicy.  I asked the chef about it when he came out to sign my book ad he told me that it is freeze dried and chopped so the potency of the spice only comes out when it's cooked out.

Some of the best fried chicken ever!

Bok A Bok's Guy poster

I headed back to the hotel to get ready for my week of work.  This was a great Triple D trip!  I was able to get to my milestone 700th Triple D place made more special by sharing it with my nephew Keith and Michele! My Tripe D count was now 704!