I just got back from another great trip to Los Angeles to cat sit and do some standup. While I was in town I did 2 podcast interviews. This here is the first one, with The Comedy Store and now Comedy Central‘s Earl Skakel, from the Roast Battle! I met Earl last year when I was in town, courtesy of the #2 Roast Battler in LA, Philly comic Pat Barker. He was hilarious at The Hater’s Table and was super nice off stage. He graciously said yes to being on the DidjaEat Podcast and also had me on his Inappropriate Earl Podcast as well! Check out BOTH below! **edited to add** Earl just finished third on the Comedy Central Roast Battle!
Earl Skakel on DidjaEat
Nicole Yates on Inappropriate Earl
Nicole Yates on Inappropriate Earl
Nicole Yates sits down with standup comic/sketch guy/improver Brendan Kennedy. Brendan is originally from right outside Philly and now resides in Los Angeles where he appears in sketch videos and is generally hilarious. He also has a podcast with Luke Giordano called Hurtful Things, which is amazingly funny.
Due to a glitch in WordPress and Libsyn, I didn’t realize episode 10 did not post!
Episode 10 is with Blake Wexler, a friend of mine from comedy in Philly. He now lives in LA and works on the show Review and also is hilarious! Oh, and he can eat like he has 2 hollow legs. He was in town opening for Todd Glass at Helium Comedy Club. We had a small surprise pop in. Can you guess who it was?
Have a listen!
Episode 11 is with Chef Wes Lieberher. Wes is a displaced Philly guy living in LA. He is the head chef at Beer Belly and also at Whiz. Check out his restaurants and lsiten to this great interview. A very chill dude, indeed. Special shout out to JP Boudwin for turning me onto Beer Belly and helping me get ahold of Wes too!
Have a listen!
You can also subscribe on iTunes!
I spent a lot of time during my LA trip walking around, wether by myself or huffing, puffing and kind of jogging to keep up with my friend Sean who is 9 feet tall and totally fit. And of course, all the walking makes a person kinda hungry. I did not get to a few places I wanted to go, but I managed to go to a lot of them.
For my birthday I went to Disneyland. Overall, it was pretty kickass, except for the hour and a half wait to get on the Star Wars ride (of which, every 15 minutes I’d turn to Sean and say “this is gonna be awesome!”. He did not slap me, not once. Good man.) But I have to say, I ate 2 things when we were there: a churro, which was pretty great, and a piece of pizza and a soda which sucked beyond belief.
First off, the churro was warm and chewy and cinnamon and sugar deliciousness. There was a churro cart every 5 feet, which I found kind of weird. Hey Disney Corp: why not mix it up a bit more. Secondly, the pizza was 7 different kinds of awful. It was a puffy piece of wanna be pizza hut crap. I mean it was over the top bad. I ate it because it was either that or my arm by that point, but come on! I am going to Disneyworld in Novemeber, so I’ll see how the pizza holds up. But major, major disappointment!
Next up! I was sitting a the bar one nite, annoyed that the kitchen was closed and drinking my bazillionth whiskey. I needed to eat. Danny the bartender told me about Garage Pizza. It was open late! I was up off my barstool and over there in a flash.
- Garage PIzza has 2 locations, one in Silverlake and one in Downtown LA (DTLA). I visited the downtown location, on 7th between Spring and Main. Now, pizza in LA has a bad rap, and I understand why. You live in Philly or NYC, you are used to great pizza. The dough is awesome because of the water, and obviously the water out west if different and makes a different crust. So, I was sort of hesitant when the guys at the bar were talking it up.
- I walked over to the pizza joint. It is pretty bare bones, with a lot of concrete and a few basic booths. A few Latino guys scurried around behind the counter making pizzas, throwing some dough around.
- There was a menu with a bunch of very overpriced pizzas, and a few beers to select from, as well as some salads and sandwiches. I had no need for salads and sandwiches, but I was not too happy with the prices of the pies. Then I saw what made my stomach and heart dance a bit…on mondays, every pizza is $15. That is still kinda high, but the large pizza is a nice size, so what the hell, right?
- I stepped up to order and could not stop laughing in my head because the 2 girls working the counter were dressed like they were in some sort of swanky club, barely dressed and all made up. Honey, you work at a pizza place. But, this was LA, so it’s probably par for the course. Anyway, I walked away with this pepperoni and red onion beauty!
I staggered back to Sean’s place with this pizza. Nine homeless guys asked me for a slice. I think the door guy at the apartment building wanted a piece too. Mine. All mine.
This pizza almost blew me away. It had a nice thin crust, but with nice crunch, and the sauce wasn’t too sweet. The cheese was a little brown but not overdone and the onions caramelized nicely. This was a delicious, beautiful east coast pizza! I had another pizza later on in the week and it was just as good. If you live in LA, give this place a chance (go on mondays!)! Oh, and if you were wondering, it’s just as good cold the next day!
Part Two of my trip to LA..the food part anyway….
I do not understand the obsession people have with hot dogs. I am a fan, no doubt (my friends will attest to my love of Dollar Dog Nite at the Phils/Sixers games), but I will not travel a million miles for one. I think it is because I live in the land of cheesesteaks and, frankly, you can’t beat them. Ever. In a million years. With a million hot dogs.
It’s got nothing to do with the old tales of what is actually in a hot dog, or the bit in Upton Sinclair’s book “The Jungle” where the guy falls into the meat grinder. It’s more that I have rarely had a hot dog that has made me stand up and say “Yeow! That’s some good tube steak!”. Ahem.
Anyway, Pink’s Hot Dog’s has been in Los Angeles for 71 years and is the obligatory addition to any Food Network/Cooking Channel/Travel Show about food in that area. So when I was driving around LA and I drove past it, I figured I would give it a shot. That is how a lot of people end up at Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks, which, honestly, don’t do anything for me (but that is another article for another time. Please send your hate email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
If anything, you have to give it to a place that can survive for 71 years. Most *people* don’t even survive for 71 years. This might look like a dinky stand, but the back has some lovely outdoor seating with a mural and the place is spotless. I mean, I used the bathroom and it was spotless. This might not mean much to you, but some people out there, and you know who you are, are delighted to her that.
Let’s get to the goods, shall we?
I decided to get 2 different dogs. I figured I would get 2 different things on the menu in order to get what was going on there. I hate when people just order one thing and pass judgement on a place soley with that. Plus, I found myself a sweet parking spot for 2 hours and I hadn’t eaten that day. So, let’s move on.
The Royal Dog is the one with the bacon. It is 2 dogs in one bun with chili, mustard, cheese, relish and 2 pieces of bacon. They created this one in honor of William and Kate coming to America and it is a limited edition.
The Spicy Ozzy dog is a Polish Dog with Nacho cheese, American Cheese, grilled onions, guacamole and chopped tomatoes. And it is, if you guessed, named after Ozzy.
The Royal Dog is interesting. I have never had a hot dog that was, in fact, 2 dogs on a bun. Even the idea of that is weird to me, and I love eating and trying to turn food on it’s proverbial head.
But I have to admit, it was a good deal for 6 bucks. This thing is hefty and you get your money’s worth!
Check out the heftiness of this thing. I needed two hands to eat it. Actually, I had to cradle it so it wouldn’t get all over me, the tray, the table and the 2 kids across from me who were gawking at all the signed pictures of celebrities on the wall (“Oooohhh…Pat Sajak!”). I was expecting a big dog, but this was ridiculously good. The bacon was precooked and warmed up but not too chewy and the rolls they use are a nice cross between a lunch type roll and a hot dog bun, so you don’t have to lose a tooth ripping off a bite. The chili was a little salty, but it balanced out nice with the dog itself, which was a long dog, but not too bogged down with flavorings so it was actually a compliment to the toppings.
The Spicy Ozzy was another being unto itself. Polish dogs aren’t something we usually have in Philly, in fact I had never had one until I ate this. We have kielbasie (say it: “ka-bahss-ee”) and that suits me just fine. I love smoked kielbaise so much, it is ridiculous. My uncle even likes to butterfly it and put it on the grill. He calls it Polish Ribs. I can’t argue with that. Anyway, it seems Polish Dogs are big in the midwest and out west too. This thing was hot and loaded with fresh guac (which is on everything out there), fresh chopped tomatoes, nacho cheese and many, many fried onions. I think there was supposed to be American Cheese on there too, but I didn’t taste it. No big deal. It was delicious, and the dog itself was the diameter of a buick. It was super good, but I had to put it down because it was just too hot. I got about 89% done. It was a sad time. But, I recovered nicely. Anyway, for $6.50, it’s a great deal!
Has eating these 2 mammoth dogs turned me into a hot dog aficionado? Nah. Has it made me into a big hot dog fan? I think the answer is this: if it’s there I will give it a shot and see how it goes. I’m glad I did, because I supported a business that is doing something right by serving quality food in a clean establishment and not ripping off the customers. I am still thinking about that place…so maybe I *am* turning into a fan!
When I was a kid, I loved going on vacation. We always went someplace different (unless it was Colonial Williamsburg…again) and I really liked seeing different places, eating different foods, staying different places, you get the idea. I haven’t traveled a whole lot as an adult and that kinda sucks, so when I got the chance to crash at my friend Sean’s in LA, I went for it. This is part one of my trip out there, food wise.
I really like bars. Not bars in a strip mall with random shit glued to the walls. Not bars where you have to scream at someone to talk to them. Give me some dark wood and a nice whiskey selection in a capable bartender’s hands and I am a happy girl.
It was a long flight from Philly to LA, and by the time I got to the car rental place and then to my friend’s apartment, I was starving. He suggested we go to Cole’s. As we rounded the corner, we saw that they were shooting some kind of something there (film gear was all over outside, so we went to Pete’s instead. Pete’s has a burger that is kickass, unfortunately, I was so cracked out from traveling I didn’t take a picture. But if you are anywhere around 6th and Main, in Downtown LA, hit them up for the Hellman Burger: a half pound of prime beef, fontina cheese & smoked tomato aioli. Ridiculous.
I promptly fell asleep, the next day took it easy and after Sean went to work, I found myself looking for something to do later on in the nite and found myself walking to Cole’s.
Cole’s is located in downtown LA (DTLA for those hip assholes out there). It’s a downtown area that’s in the middle of changing from kind of ghetto-y ghost town into an area with lots of bars, restaurants, galleries and apartments.
Downtown used to be the Financial District (when the bar was founded, in 1908) and the bar was located right in the train station area, so all the stockbrokers used to come and drink there on the way home.
The place closed for awhile and then was reopened with a whole restoration of the entire place. The Red Car Bar was totally restored and it looks lovely (as you can see in the picture here). There are stations on each end where you can se the bartenders making old school cocktails.
The signature cocktail at this place is The Old Fashioned. Served with bourbon, bitters, a sugar cube and a luxardo cherry. What’s a Luxardo Cherry? It’s a real maraschino cherry, imported from Italy (and it is ridiculously delicious). They also hand chip a solid little block of ice for your drink. Think that doesn’t make a difference? You’d be wrong. And it’s really cool to watch the guys chip the ice to fit right in front of you! It’s also awesome to be asked what kind of whiskey you would like, because, you see, they have a fantastic selection of whiskey so you’ll great recommendation.
They also do variations on the Old Fashioned, this one is a rum version called The Old Devil. It will knock you right back just like the whiskey one, and if you look close, you can see the solid ice cube in there.
And then there are the cocktails. This one is called a Red Car Named Desire. I was a little disappointed at first when it was put in front of me. And then I took a sip. It has Rye Whiskey, Cynar, Luxardo & Maurin Liqueur. It goes down like a velvety fire, and, while not cheap, worth every penny.
Cole’s has a really cool old school drink menu, including a kick ass Manhattan, Sazerac (rye, bitters, and an absinthe rinse), a Moscow Mule (vodka, lime juice, topped with ginger beer and served in a copper mug) and many others. They also offer a special cocktail every few weeks or so. You can check out the drink menu here.
You know, after all that booze, you gotta eat. Cole’s has ya covered. The story is that they invented the French Dip sandwich. There is another place in LA, not too far away, called Philippe’s. They also say they are the home of the French Dip. According to Cole’s menu, the City Of Los Angeles has proclaimed the title to them. I am sure Philippe’s serves a nice sandwich, I did not get a chance to have one. I did, however, eat many Cole’s French Dip’s and lemme say…that’s a damn fine sandwich.
If you aren’t sure what a French Dip is, it’s a sandwich with some sort of meat (usually roast beef or something like that) on a nice crusty roll, that you dip into some Au Jus to soften up the roll and get some more goodness into the roll. Cole’s makes theirs with Prime Beef, which is delicious. The roll is tasty. You get your choice of different cheeses, I kept it simple with a nice cheddar. They offer a spicy mustard that will clear your sinuses and make you do a little happy dance. Put this all together, give it a dip in the nice sized bowl of Au Jus and you got a little bit of fantasticalness that melts right in your mouth.
For a little bit extra, you get what they call The Atomic Pickle. They keep a jar on the bar, and make them right there in the kitchen. I thought, when I ordered it, that it would just be a spicy pickle. This thing slowly explodes in your mouth and then works it’s way to the back of your tongue where it lights your head on fire. If you like hot stuff, this is a 10 on the excellence scale.
I also find it cool they keep the jar on the bar, like in the olden days before bars had refrigeration. It fits right in with the whole vibe of the place and it’s just cool to look at!
Let’s talk a minute about french fries. It’s real easy to make crappy ones. Under cooked, over cooked, freezer burned, luke warm, mushy, reheated, or just bad tasting. People just accept it and stuff them into his mouth. So, when I find awesome fries, I gotta talk about it.
These fries are crispy enough on the outside and fluffy inside. Specifically, these are Garlic Fries, and you can see the fried garlic in there. Needless to say, if you like garlic, dive head first in there. Just be sure you shower when you get home! It is worth every crunchy bit!
Sides! Let’s talk about some sides!
First off, there is Bacon Potato Salad. Otherwise known as German Potato Salad. When my Grandmom was alive, one thing she made that I absolutely loved was her German Potato Salad and my Dad loved it too. Since she died, we would go out to eat and if it was on the menu, we would both order it, hoping it would be like her’s, but it was always disappointing. It got to the point where we would just stop ordering it. I took a chance, and was rewarded kindly.
The potatoes were cubed small & were slightly al dente, so they had some crunch, as opposed to some potato salad thats just mush. The little bit of dill gave it a zing and the bacon popped right out onto your tongue to say hello. Absolutely delicious and a lovely compliment to the French Dip.
The homemade Mac and Cheese was like my Babci makes, very creamy with a nice bread crumb topping. People are usually used to either the Kraft Mac and Cheese (which I am most guilty of loving) or a dry, flavorless Mac and Cheese.
This cheesy, buttery bowl of goodness make me tune out the entire bar as I scraped as much cheese out of there as possible.
Dessert? Oh yeah!
Let me introduce you to the Dark Chocolate Cream Pie. Hellooooo Pie!
An oreo cookie base that is moist and delicious. A chocolate mouse center and a topping that’s a giant pile of delicious whipped cream, sprinkled with chocolate powder.
I’m not even a dessert fan for the most part. I can never get that far in the meal. When I asked Danny the bartender where they got the pies from, he told me they are them right there. A bar that makes it’s own pies….my heart grew 3 sizes.
Last but not least, let me introduce you to 2 bartenders I hung out with during the time I was in town. They made me drinks, kept me laughing and were all around cool dudes.
Meet Danny. Dog lover, comedy writer and the maker of some of the most kick ass drinks I have had in years. I had drinks I didn’t even know I liked and I think he has spoiled me on any other bars for quite awhile.
Meet Max. Max is a great dude, who will recommend 9 kinds of whiskey that all rule, wears a cool bowler for kicks at work, and can juggle 15 different kinds of customers, drinks & goofballs without batting an eye.
These guys are so good at making these old timey drinks & explaining them without that dead look of “you are the 15th person today I have had to explain this”, it’s just fun to sit at the bar and watch them work!
You can have a great building with a great menu but if the people working there suck, you got jack squat. These guys, and the rest of the staff (I’m looking at you, Ms. Bar Manager! Those Fernet shots were crazy!) are awesome. If you find yourself in LA, swing on by. Things might be a little expensive, but you not only get what you pay for, you get a whole lot more.