I drove past Gjusta twice without seeing it. There is no sign outside and you enter through the side lot.
It is worth finding.
Touting itself as a bakery, which is important as the most important element of a sandwich is the bread, but they do so much more.
They have cheese. And charcuterie. I love cheese and charcuterie.
I extra love fresh mixed ginger lemonade and they have it there.
But above all, what I love most, is a great environment and better company with which to share my meals. At Gjusta, you have to bring you own company, but they provide the rest.
Every now and again Yelp serves up more than you expect. I picked the Foundation Room because it was the closest thing to my location with an acceptable number of stars. What I got was almost enough to inspire an arson laden revolution against Olive Gardens world wide. But do not fear, as I think your endless bread sticks are at least one Yelp dollar sign into safety. I don’t think I could rile up the masses for anything past 2.
The Foundation Room is the restaurant lounge attached to the back of Houston’s House of Blues. I guess this makes it a chain establishment, which should offend me, but it didn’t. The decor could be best described as South Asian rock n roll in red and orange, the service was casually attentive, and the food was the best I’ve had in Texas. I would need to investigate the locations in Vegas, Chicago, or New Orleans to see if the ambiance is dictatorially scripted, but after testing Texas I might be up for finding out.
I chose to eat in the lounge with the live music, versus the back room with booths, making it my own fault that the table was at knee level. Moving sauce covered chops from plate to mouth without dripping on your suit is hard with a table that low. My scientific testing says it is impossible.
But whoever that no-name, or maybe not-yet-name was, up there singing Jill Scott and D’angelo covers, made the suit splatters worth it.
Yelp didn’t tell me I would hang out way past my bedtime, or long after the check was paid, just because I liked being there. I’m not sure I have ever loitered past paying at an Olive Garden.
When asked about food I easily fall into an oft repeated diatribe against chain restaurants. Occasionally I wonder if I am being unfair. But then I remember that I have not once, not ever, seen a pickup unloading stacks and stacks of mesquite logs at a Chili’s, or T.G.I. Friday’s, or any other of those other places that list “smokehouse” items on their menus.
So when I recently visited Texas I did not eat at Texas Roadhouse, but rather my brother took me to an actual Texas roadhouse.
Ribs and brisket, side of slaw, potato salad. The food was great, the company was even better (because it was my brother), and while we comfortably ate outside in November, two guys were adding mesquite logs to the stacks that surrounded the building. At the Pit Room in Houston, the wood decor isn’t decor, it is fuel for the fire. No shtick, just barbecue.
So moving forward, should you want to know how I feel about eating out, just know that I no longer have any reservations about my explicit, overt, stated-up-front, bias against those share-holder liable staples of mall parking lots nation wide with their dispassionate standardized menus and liquid smoke injected ribs.
I have never been kind to Provo. I have no intentions of changing my attitude or moving there ever, but gosh darn-it if Provo doesn’t keep serving me up surprises.
Not that I recommend anyone visit that city, but if you do, go to Taste.
They make, and sell, chocolate. Good chocolate.
Surrounded by pseudo French styled decor you can sidle up to the bar for an $8 chocolate and balsamic tasting. Or you could spend just a touch more for afternoon tea, Friday night chocolate and cheese pairings, or, because of where you are, non-alcoholic wine.
I am a bottom dweller so I ponied up 8 bucks.
For that I got a square of 6 different chocolates, 3 balsamics , and a taste of the stuff Nutella is trying to be. The chocolatier explained as we went a long what it was we were eating and the process of its production.By far the best was called Karamelizalt Levendulaviragok Csillaganizsos Tejcsokoladeban. Those are real words. I didn’t make that up. This stuff won a silver medal at the Academy of Chocolate and it is the only milk chocolate I like- because it also has caramelized lavender and anise- and my heart. It also has my heart.What I walked away with is this stuff made in Portland called Pok Pok Som. It is a drinking vinegar with ginger and I think I swooned.
Swooned? In Provo?
I do not have survey data or comparative sales reports, and yet I have no hesitation in declaring Diddy Reise as LA’s favorite ice cream sandwich. It just is.
Located right next door to UCLA’s campus this little shop serves up your choice of ice cream flavors to be scooped up and squished between whichever freshly baked cookies you prefer.
For $2 per sandwich. These are confectioner’s quality at McDonald’s prices.
Just know that they only take cash and there will be a line.
There is always, I repeat, always, a line.
If you just want cookies, $4.50 gets you a dozen. Hawaiian shave ice with a scoop of ice cream inside? $2.
You cannot lose.
The premise of the show is a guy, maybe two of them, who travel around eating at various locations. Anthony Bourdain, Guy Fieri, a sub plot in Master of None, or the main plot in The Trip, they are all the same show, and they are incredibly cliche’.
Just like me.
I suppose it is better to live those shows than CSI.
These are times of trouble and contention, often exaggerated through online debate or trolling. While this rancor is deplorable I must admit I may have found myself growling and lurking beneath a digital bridge here and there. For example, about a week ago a friend lamented on Facebook that he was kept up at night perplexed at the injustice that while there exists chocolate covered donuts, there are no such things as chocolate covered donut holes.
He posted this as a statement of fact.
While I am no expert on donuts or pastries in general, his statement appeared unresearched and I found it hard to believe that such a culinary gap was the case. Perhaps chocolate covered donut holes were rare, but nonexistent? There is a whole wide world out there. How could anyone make such absolute statements without thorough investigation? Had he really been everywhere?
So I investigated.
A few Google searches and a couple phone calls later I rose up grunting and growling from under the bridge to confront my friend’s foolish statement. “You are wrong! You say they don’t exist but that’s wrong. I know where they are because I am smart and the internet gave me a different answer than yours so I win!” Having made my point so powerfully and with such fancy words, and exclamation points, I was a bit taken aback when despite my obvious victory a delegation was immediately assembled to investigate my claims.
The website said they stay open till 2AM so despite it being 9PM on a Thursday I was told a minivan was on its way to get me. We made it there in 20 minutes.
The Donut Hole in La Puente, CA is a perfect example of novelty design, kitsch, and everything the state of California stood for in the mid-20th Century. It is a giant drive-through donut. There may have been some way to access the place on foot but I couldn’t see it. Instead we drove that van right into the hole to find ourselves surrounded by well-lit glass cases and the sweet, wonderful, glorious, American obesity epidemic. Éclairs, maple bars, cronuts, and this giant glazed thing they called the Texan called out to us with the words “cash only”. We threw handfuls of cash out the window and in return received diabetes.
Along with all that sugar I was also served a half helping of crow. Over the phone, through admittedly broken English, I was promised chocolate covered donut holes. What I got was a pile of glazed donut holes drizzled with chocolate and sprinkles. It was decided that these did not perfectly match the original description and thereby did not represent evidence enough to contradict my friend’s original statement. I am of course a gracious man and accepted that I had not proven my point, but my friend was unwilling to be open to the idea that our failure did not in fact prove his. What an unreasonable ideologue. He was, and dare I say still is, so entrenched in his unfounded and unproven beliefs that he is not open to the idea that alternate philosophy may refute his. No. He would not bend.
He demands proof.
Please send proof to email@example.com
So there is this place in Rancho Cucamonga, CA (yes that is an actual place), where all diets go to die.I would describe it as a middle eastern creperie that specializes in calories. Like, Olympic levels of calories.
The place looks harmless, like some suburban strip mall afterthought, but do not be fooled. The Nutella double chocolate Twix crepe will send you to a joyful early grave.
But that is just for the average “I want extra helpings of the sugar I know” palate. They have other stuff too. For instance, if you want to overdose in calories derived from things that should otherwise be healthy, you can indulge in any one of their fruit cocktails.
This thing took ten days to build, not because they are slow, but because the guy behind the counter just kept stuffing things into that glass.
Then there is this stuff I had never heard about called “ashta”. I would describe it as something in between heavy cream and cottage cheese. Apparently it can be turned into ice cream, like a less-sweet vanilla, and then be piled on top of a crepe then sprinkled with rose water, then dusted with pistachio and then drowned in honey, then devoured by me.
I saw behind the counter they have baklava, and dates, and every combination of phyllo dough stuffed with sweet stuff imaginable and I want all of it.
It is a bad thing that I found this place. Curse you JJ. Curse you.
Wine isn’t just a beverage, or even an industry, it is a country. It is of course those other things too, but since that first day a zillion years ago when someone decided to drink a bottle of spoiled grape juice the whole world has been spending inordinate amounts of time and real estate on grapes.
Half way between San Diego and Riverside is Southern California’s version of Tuscany. Or maybe its another version of Sonoma, or Napa, wherever it is like, it is called Temecula and I went there.
I spent three days at the Carter Estates and didn’t drink a drop of wine. I did however guzzle about a gallon of root beer and ate my weight in cheese. But I was not alone and there were plenty of others to make sure the wine didn’t go to waste.
Any place that has that much cheese is great with me, and the idea that it might be the sort of place where an ascot could be worn made me a fan.
An ascot. In real life.
Wine helps people do all sorts of things.
Like fly in hot air balloons. It was more than a hundred years ago that some French folks broke humans free from Terra firma, and since that time we have developed other things like airplanes and the ability to steer. Yet somehow people still climb into combustible unsteerable baskets and go up into the sky.
There was of course some swirling and sniffing, lots of toasting and nibbling, but most of all, there was an ascot.