Wednesday, October 27, 2010

French Dip Sandwich Part 1: Brent's Deli

Plenty of thin-sliced roast beef layers.
Often, you hear about Philippe's, Cole's, and Langer's, all of which are located in Los Angeles, for having the best deli sandwiches in California. While I don't dispute claims that they make fine sandwiches, I would argue that location plays a large part in how these restaurants have earned their reputation.

For those of us who can't make the trip to L.A. just for a nice sandwich, we make due with our own cities' modest attractions. Anyone from the 818 Valley should know about Brent's Delicatessen. Started in 1967, Brent's is a family-run restaurant that offers a fine selection of sandwiches, smoked fish, baked goods, and soups. The kosher and non-kosher meats satisfy hundreds of hungry customers daily, especially those within the large Jewish community.

After work, I stopped by Brent's in Westlake for a French dip sandwich with au jus on the side. While Brent's is most known for their pastrami, I had no doubt that their roast beef would be just as good. In fact, I would recommend that whenever one orders a sandwich from Brent's, you eat the sandwich alone like a meat-lusting carnivore. Disregard the dinosaur-sized French fries and coleslaw until you finish the sandwich. They're good, but unimportant.

Brent's Delicatessen & Restaurant
19565 Parthenia St. Northridge, CA 91324
2799 Townsgate Rd. Westlake, CA 91361

Friday, October 22, 2010

Upper Playground Fillmore

Sam Flores mural above Upper Playground's storefront.

Upper Playground interior

Upper Playground interior

Sam Flores display

Jeremy Fish sculpture

When I was a kid, I took a trip with my family to San Francisco to visit a friend of my parents. We walked the typical tourist attractions - Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, cable cars, etc. I had fun watching all the gold-sprayed dancers pop 'n lock for loose change. But the hills took their toll on a kid who hadn't hit puberty yet.

At the time, all I wanted to do was go to the comic store and buy X-Men cards. Instead, I ended up with a bunch of cheap tourist t-shirts. For a while, I rocked them at school. Then I wore them to bed before throwing them out. I didn't know any better, but I liked them for their distinctive, yet simple graphics.

Fifteen-some years later, I'm wearing Upper Playground t-shirts. And I finally made the pilgrimage to Fillmore. Distinctively San Franciscan, yet un-touristy, Upper Playground has been an advocate promoter of SF street art and subculture. Although it has strong brand recognition, I've always admired their ability to collaborate and support individual artists like San Flores, Jeremy Fish, Alex Pardee, David Choe, and more recently, James Jean.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Architecture of SF

Building on Post St.

Building on Post St.

Building on Post St.

House on Haight St.

Church on Haight St.

Ornate stoop on Haight St.

SFO Check-in.

San Francisco was a nice change of scenery. Upon my arrival, my friend - Jason gave me a nonchalant tour through San Francisco's maze of winding roads that led up and down steep hills. It seemed pointless to ask him where we were headed since I immediately felt lost after the second or third turn. Driving along the streets would disorient any layman's sense of direction.

Not that it mattered. I was too busy marveling at the architecture to even care where we were headed. Unlike the minimal stucco variations commonly found in Los Angeles, San Francisco's buildings were modeled with an ornate aesthetic in mind. As an aesthetic-minded person, I could appreciate all the Victorian details from stoop to rooftop. The most vivid of buildings called Painted Ladies are usually set apart by an exterior polychrome color scheme. Being immersed in this endless sea of old Victorian buildings felt like time-travel.

While the buildings are frozen in time, the local people seem unfazed by their surroundings. I suppose when you see something everyday, it's not that exciting. Life keeps going for them. Regardless, San Franciscans should know that they live in an unadulterated, chic nest. With that said, there's not much dedicated material written about San Francisco's Victorian architecture. That's something I want to research.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sushi On Steroids

Sashimi Combo

Toro Nigiri

Spanish Mackerel Nigiri

Drink, Drank, Drunk.

There comes a time in every man's life when he must eat the best sushi available to him, regardless of the price. My friends, that time had come for me. I'm not talking about some celebrity chef dining experience. I'm talking about a true master, his knife, and his keen ability to handle the freshest ingredients that can only come with age.

Could I handle it? In short, there was nothing elegant about my approach. The giant portions of sushi and sashimi served to me had blown belly-flopped every small morsel of so-called 'fresh fish' that I've ever had out of the water. I was like a grizzly bear ripping off the heads of wild salmon.

Attempting to devouring these massive chunks of raw flesh became a strategy in itself. How do you savor every delectable bite when you're bursting at the seams? Do you save the best for last? Or do you eat the best immediately in fear that you won't be able to finish everything?

In the end, I ruthlessly murdered everything in front of me. The BEST EVER. Only a few will ever experience it.