Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Sandwiches

Los Angeles BBQ Festival: Smoke in your eyes and yummy in your tummy

09bbqfest 057

After a first year troubled by long lines and vendors running out of food, everything seemed right on Q at the second Los Angeles BBQ Festival on Sunday.

“This year is 10 times better – no lines. It’s like it should be,” said Jason Sinroll of Manhattan Beach, who was bitterly disappointed in last year’s festival.

Organizer Dan Silberstein of DrinkEatPlay saw to it that last year’s problems would not be repeated, increasing the number of food vendors and drink stations and putting in more seating. The food stalls were plenty busy, but what lines there were moved quickly. Finding a seat at a table with an umbrella could be a challenge, but getting a chair somewhere didn't take long.

09bbqfest 045 “How could it be any better?” asked Brian Stein, pit master of Susie Q’s in Santa Maria, as he supervised tri-tip cooking over red oak (at right). “We’re in Santa Monica, the pier’s right there … barbecue and tri-tip in Santa Monica on Mother’s Day.” He was ably assisted by a Le Cordon Bleu student, plus a guy the Susie Q’s crew met in the parking lot and hit it off with. Brian’s wife, Nancy Stein, said that’s part of the Susie Q’s family atmosphere, adding, “It’s really sweet how everyone is all sweet.”

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Sampler Platter: Creme brulee, beer and snow cones

Top: Crème brûlée meets the business end of a blowtorch. Bottom Left: A new Kentucky Grilled Chicken two-piece meal. Bottom Right: Tecate cans on the factory line.
Immigrant beer, sandwiches from Hong Kong and snow cones in today's food news roundup...

  • Umami Burger might be looking for another location. New on the current menu: taro and yucca fries; ice cream sandwiches from Milk; the Manly burger. Coming soon: lobster rolls. Eating LA
  • Is bo lo bao, a crunchy sweet bread from the Hong Kong/Macau region, the new banh mi? Fork in the Road
  • Crème brûlée cart prowls the Mission in San Francisco. Serious Eats
  • Sno-On-The-Go, drive-through snow cone hut, coming to Mission Viejo. Fast Food Maven
  • Michael Pollan reviews food and farming policy during Obama's first 100 days. Salon
  • Top 10 hand-me-down cookbooks according to AbeBooks. No. 1 = "The Joy of Cooking," by Irma S. Rombauer.
  • Tecate focuses on selling beer to immigrants rather than targeting broader Hispanic market. Ad Age
  • -- Elina Shatkin

    Photos, clockwise from top: Crème brûlée meets the business end of a blowtorch. Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times. Tecate cans on the factory line. Credit: Bob Grieser / Los Angeles Times. A new Kentucky Grilled Chicken two-piece meal. Credit: Brian Bohannon / Associated Press

Grilled Cheese Invitational, briefly explained

The 2008 Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles

More than mac 'n' cheese, meatloaf, burgers or cupcakes, the grilled cheese sandwich is the ultimate comfort food. It's the first meal many of us learn to cook and a staple of bachelor kitchens everywhere. Anyone can make a grilled cheese sandwich. But unlike most gentrified comfort foods, elevating this pinnacle of pragmatic American cooking into the realm of haute cuisine doesn't require a culinary degree or time spent behind a professional stove. That's the appeal of the Grilled Cheese Invitational; it allows amateur cooks to unleash their inner "Iron Chef."

"For the longest time the grilled cheese sandwich was held prisoner to the children's menu," says the event's founder and organizer, Tim Walker, a comedy writer and performer. "But there's such an amazing world of cheese out there that the possibilities of mixing cheese with bread are endless."

Held during National Grilled Cheese Month, this weekend's annual cook-off is expected to draw nearly 300 sandwich makers and 1,700 sandwich eaters to Los Angeles State Historic Park, where would-be champions can compete in three categories: Missionary Position (a true test of grilling skill, only bread, butter and cheese are allowed); Kama Sutra (a free-for-all of savory ingredients); or Honey Pot (dessert sandwiches).

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A cornfield blossoms into a field of grilled cheese

A grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, ham, chopped olives, mustard and pickles at Clementine.If you build it, they will come. Located just north of downtown, the former site of the "Not a Cornfield" art installation (known officially as Los Angeles State Historic Park) will be the location for this weekend's Grilled Cheese Invitational. Toasted bread, melted cheese and hundreds  of grills going at once? That's our field of dreams.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: A grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, ham, chopped olives, mustard and pickles at Clementine. Credit: Anastasia Sotiropulos.

Scanwiches: The meaty truth behind the popular sandwich blog

4 sandwiches from Scanwiches

Jon Chonko looks at sandwiches the way a dendrologist might look at tree rings. The density of the bread, the color of the meat . . . you never know what culinary and cultural riches a double-decker Reuben might hold. Then again, maybe he just likes them because of how neat they look.

When Chonko, 24, a designer at Manhattan ad firm thehappycorp global, launched his sandwich picture blog, Scanwiches, less than two months ago, he had a simple concept that he executed even more simply. The site's high-res, close-up scans of halved sandwiches floating against a black sea proved instantly appealing.

"It was going to be a quick little lunch blog to encourage me to eat at new places in the neighborhood, and try different types of sandwiches," Chonko says. "Then it got really popular, and I felt obligated to keep it up."

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.