Carmageddon last year was not what it was cracked up to be but check this: last weekend, starting on Friday night (through Sunday evening) in downtown LA (unless otherwise noted) there were two Dodger games, three NBA playoff games (1 Clippers and 2 Lakers), an NHL playoff game (those last 4 events in the same venue) a bike race that went all the way from Beverly Hills to downtown and ended across the street from the sporting events, a major fundraising walk (Jewish World Watch in midtown) and, just for good measure, the Pasadena Marathon. All we needed was a total eclipse of the sun…oh, yeah, we got a partial one late in afternoon. So here we go writing as I went…
Since traffic will be snarled everywhere, after the walk I am going to get on a big black bus with 39 other people and make six stops to sample cheese everywhere EXCEPT downtown.
We all got on the bus and headed out. The driver didn’t really think about it but the draft on the bus was too low to get over the hump getting out of the parking lot. OK, everyone off the bus. Woohoo!! He scraped a bit but made it. Back on the bus and it’s time for our first goodie – World Famous Smokehouse cheese bread. Garlicky and oily and CHEESY!
And out comes the first bottle of wine – Tres Pinos from LA’s only remaining winery, San Antonio, for that reason an no other – LA history.
Brand new restaurant. Marcona on Melrose. An off the menu grilled cheese sandwich. French bread bacon cheddar Dijon mustard and a hibiscus mint chaser. …but the water cooler provided a better photo op…
You’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus. …and we’re back on the bus. What’s next?
This is my bus buddy Viki. We’re both solo so we will make sure neither gets left behind in a cheese swoon.
Cheese quiz on the bus. 10 cheeses, name the country of origin. The prize for the winner? Cheese Doodles.
History break; clues to our next destination – 1923 opened, 1959 an employee from Texas being nice to regulars put cheese on their chips. Et voila! Nachos are born at El Cholo! The original. The challenge on a hot afternoon: we were told that there was a strict 15-minute limit, the bus would not wait for anyone who chose to order a maggie. Cheesy greasy goodness, a group photo and we’re back on the bus.
Next up – Yuca on Hollywood. The owner is absolutely lovely. The Gringadilla is another off menu item but with our feedback it will be added to the menu soon. Go get one! It’s delicious. Brie and mango with a spicy mango salsa. On a thin whole wheat tortilla. My favorite item so far. Back on the bus and we’re off up Vermont.
I’ve guessed the next stop! Fred 62 for fried Mac and cheese balls! Man oh man oh man. …and my prize is… oy!
Surprise guest while we’re parked in front of Fred 62… Pizza from Palermo’s. Family owned. Pizza Rosa – (mozzarella feta tomatoes) it’s their most popular pie.
Last stop was Say Cheese in Silver Lake. This was the first real cheese monger of my experience nearly 40 years ago. I used to shop here when I lived on Ewing Street on the second steepest block in Los Angeles, not far from the Mack Sennet Studios and the stairway where Laurel and Hardy filmed the Piano Delivery. We tasted 4 delicious cheeses in proper order: Les Freres (Wisconsin, though I would swear it was French), Raw Cave Aged Gruyere, real Manchego and finally from northern California, Humboldt Fog covered in ash made from vegetables grilled until charred. I also tasted 2 different raw Roqueforts and bought the papillon. Yum. Here are more photos: