Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Croquer: Cup Cafe at the Hotel Congress

I grew up fielding some pretty ludicrous inquiries about what desert living is like. Before moving to Oregon for college, Tucson life is what I knew, and the dry rivers, cacti, rattle snakes and other natural dangers never really bothered me because it was.. normal. But did we ride horses to school? No. Tucson is a pretty misunderstood town I would say. For anyone who hasn't been there, a Phoenix comparison is generally pitched first (they are nothing alike). And for those who haven't been to Arizona, a dry expansive wasteland apparently comes to mind. So when pictures of the lush Sonoran foliage or monumental Catalina Mountain range are added to the mix, things start to come into place. Sure Tucson is a flat, expansive sprawl with strip malls and home developments galore, but its historic core in downtown with bona fide gangster stories and vintage flare is generally the most unexpected curveball for the uninitiated. At the crux of this, bordering the Armory Park neighborhood is the beacon of Tucson's racy heritage, the Hotel Congress (circa 1919).
A historic hot spot known for its concert venue/nightclub and ghostly visitors, Hotel Congress has recently been bringing more attention to its roaring heyday, climaxing with the fire of 1934 that resulted in the capture of John Dillinger and his gang who were "vacationing" on the hotel's third floor. The hotel has retained its original Southwest Art Deco ambiance and charm, with iron beds and vintage radios in each room (no TVs). The hotel also benefits from housing one of the most reputable cafes in town, the Cup Cafe.Harkening to said glory days, the cocktail menu at the Cup features specialty cocktails such as Dillinger Sidecar, and Public Enemy No. 1, but the El Camino is what called out to me. "A salute to the 'Tucson Pickup Truck'", it blends Corralejo Reposado, Gran Marnier, grapefruit & a hint of lavenar honey. Delightful! Nicole got the Lisbon Blonde, light and fresh with white port, Averna Amaro Italian Liqueur & tonic with a lemon twist.Nicole's sandwich was a glorious sight to behold (though I can't for the life of me recall what was in it)! Chilly and overcast outside, it was no-effing-around burger kind of day for me. I got the Locals Only - Angus beef topped with asadero cheese and roasted chiles, with a side of gooey delicious tortilla soup. Definitely not in LA, and loving every bite.Lunch at the Cup won't break your bank, just don't drop your change on the floor. You may not recover it...311 East Congress St. Tucson, AZ 85701; 800.722.8848
Cup Cafe (at Hotel Congress) on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 15, 2010

Croquer: LA Street Food Fest Overview

I'm not going to be unreasonable, a first time event is difficult - I've been there, gone through it. It's mayhem. For anyone who attempted attending the 1st annual LA Street Food Fest this past Saturday, you may feel a flare of frustration at the very mention. But let's recognize the positive - a LOT of people in LA love and care about street food, a bounty definitely worth celebrating. Also encouraging is the increasing number of Angelenos sharpening their foodie chops and keeping our diverse and exciting culinary scene thriving.
That said, the weekend was not without a few bumps in the road. If there's going to be a 2nd annual Street Food Fest, well, I am sure the organizers have more than enough feedback by this point. And since I didn't actually get IN, here is what I have to represent my experience on Saturday: A slew of text messages from and between friends of mine who also trekked downtown to end up eating... anything but street food.
Bon appetit!

11:16am: Are you going to the Street Food fest? Downtown now, looking for parking...

11:21am: Is it Crazy? Going a little later...

11:37am: We're leaving. It's kind of ridiculous. They just opened the gates. Bad setup. Maybe it'll be better later?

11:38am: Oh man! Thx for the report...

11:46am: OK see you @ 1215. A drink before sounds that much better now. She also said parking was difficult.

12:08pm: just heard from Tim the line is very, very long.

12:19pm: Sorry Traffic is retarded.

12:23pm: i think we should all meet there. i am in bad shape. just took a muscle relaxer, will see how it goes.

12:59pm: Food fest fail. 2 hour line to get in. Off to explore downtown.

1:29pm: Having a difficult day. heard the line is super long... tried to find it anyway got really lost... got into fight with parking lot attendant who held me hostage. currently at olvera street having a marg.

2:05pm: Tried. failed. Dwntwn nightmare.

2:16pm: where r u exactly?

3:18pm: Failed. On Olvera instead. You?

3:20pm: Also failed. At Grand Central market instead.

4:08pm: we ditched the food fest. kept walking around to find brunch. everywhere we went had a 45 minute wait. we walked around for hours. ended up at this little cafe where all i could eat was their smooshed avocado on toast.

4:08pm: though it was pretty good

Did you get in? Get to EAT anything yummy?
Share your texts with ChocoMeat!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

En Vitesse: i ♥ pie

No valentine this year? Haha me neither! Screw corporate holidays and eat some pie instead! Silver Lake's Apiary Gallery at the Hive is hosting a Valentine's Pie [Making] Contest!
Bring your fair-winning pie to compete, taste the competition, check out some new art, heck maybe find a valentine!

Feb 14th from 2pm-5pm
Email info@thehive.la or call (323) 665-1028 for more information.
at the Hive
1402 Micheltorena St. LA 90026

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Croquer: LA Street Food Fest

Spend this Saturday with all the best of LA's mobile food trucks and street food at the 1st annual LA Street Food Fest!

Sample from dozens of the city's most popular mobile food trucks including The Buttermilk Truck, Grilled Cheese Truck, Sweets Truck, Fresser's, Frysmith, Slice Truck, Flying Pig, Fishlips, Komodo, and many more

Sample dozens of authentic street food delicacies including pambazos from Antojitos de Abuelita, acaraje from Sabor de Bahia, Mama Koh's Korean chicken wings, and much more

Sample street food vendors from East LA's Breed Street scene including Rodolfo's Barbacoa, Hello Lupe's Pancakes, Antojitos Carmen and Nina's Foods

If you can't attend, expect a full report from ChocoMeat!

Saturday, February 13
11:00am - 5:00pm
LA Center Studios
500 S. Beaudry Ave
Entrance on Beaudry Ave. off 6th
Bike Valet Entrance on Bixel off 6th
$5 General Admission

Monday, February 8, 2010

Carnish Culture: Sedmikrásky ("Daisies," 1966)

Easily one of the most incredible films I have ever seen, Věra Chytilová's 1966 Czech new wave darling Daisies is an unhinged romp of youthful excess. Set against the backdrop of the iron curtain, Marie 1 and Marie 2 embark on recklessly epicurean adventures without a care in the world. They have each other, their Nouveau Réalist flat, plenty of pickles, a love of running about town, upscale dining, and older men to pick up the tab (who they hilariously repeatedly ditch as the train departs). The storytelling is as skewed as the varied film techniques, which immediately shred the viewer's perception into ribbons of saturated beauty and arcane comedy. You quickly understand you are at the film's whimsical mercy, and submit - Then for the 74 minutes that follow, ooh and ahh at the labored Bocuse d'Or-like food, laugh at the (extremely talented Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová's) drunken antics, and marvel at the sheer beauty of the flawless photography.
Daisies belongs high on any artist, food or film lover's MUST list.
Watch a short clip here.
Dobrou chuť!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

En Vitesse: Fallen Fruit Webstories

Check out the guys on KCET...You can read my Edible LA article on Fallen Fruit here. Mary and I walked the same route for our Edible LA photo shoot (in fact, the seated FF interview in the video above is across the street from Mary's house). See some outtakes from our forage/shoot below.

And on Sunday Feb. 7, introducing EATLACMA (a year-long investigation into food, art, culture and politics curated by Fallen Fruit—David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young—and LACMA curator Michele Urton) Fallen Fruit will distribute free bare-root fruit trees, requesting they be planted in public space or on the perimeter of private property. This event was chosen to open EATLACMA in order to honor the beginning of the growth cycle, as well as to signal the project’s commitment to changing the shape of our city. EATLACMA will unfold seasonally, with artist's gardens planted and harvested on the museum campus, hands-on public events, and a concurrent exhibition, Fallen Fruit Presents The Fruit of LACMA (June 27-November 7, 2010). It culminates in a day-long event (November 7, 2010) in which over fifty artists and collectives will activate, intervene, and re-imagine the entire museum's campus and galleries.
Fruit Tree Giveaway
Sunday Feb. 7 (noon - 3pm)
BP Grand Entrance, 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Miracle Mile

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Super Bon!: Food City

While in Tucson last, I was out one day with my friend Nicole on the hunt for a tortilla press. It was harder to find than you'd think in a Southwestern town so alive with Latin culture, but everyone sent us to the same place, the ever-modest Food City. A fusion of Mexican specialty food market and American grocery mart, it's a bit like LA's Jon's Market but WAY more fun. They didn't end up having a tortilla press, but I mean, where else can you stock up on your Skwinkles Salsagheti??