great los angeles walk recap
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Nov. 19th, 2007 | 10:34 am
on the starting line...
a few words and photos from the great los angeles walk down pico on saturday, november 17th. i was accompanied by a few of the ladies from deep fried tuesdays for the 15.6 mile hike.
we encountered our first “must try” spot about two miles into the walk. erin s. and i popped in to try the birria jonathan gold labeled as the single best mexican dish he'd ever encountered in los angeles (seriously, you can look it up).
homemade tortillas at el parian
we went in through the back alley because my wimpy ass didn't have enough strength to open the steel front door. the large dining area wasn't packed, but there were plenty of small groups of two and three huddled around their bowls of birria to clue me in that this was the place to go when you need a hangover cure.
since we were on the go (our group continued walking while we scoped out the parian), we ordered two tacos de birria to eat as we walked.
there was a middle-aged lady slapping masa between her hands for the tortillas. damn, fresh tortillas. i knew this would be good. i could see folks slurping their birria at their tables and i couldn't wait.
the tacos were finally served up, wrapped in aluminum foil along with radish slices, chopped cilantro and onions, limes and a few containers of salsa roja. we walked out (the front door, this time) and noticed that we were now orphaned. the rest of the group went on, but we completely lost sight of them. tacos in tow, we hurried along trying to find them. it turns out they went to scope out the shortest street in los angeles while we jumped into el parian. no worry, we stopped at the king taco to “wait” for them (they were already five minutes ahead of us) while we ate the tacos.
we dressed our dense, dripping tacos and chomped right into the tender chunks of amazingly juicy goat meat. (note: use as much of the salsa in your tacos as you can tolerate... birria is supposed to be eaten so spicy it makes your nose run).
satiated and smelling of goat (we could have used a few wet naps), we were fueled for the remainder of the morning as we proceeded down pico towards the ocean; we managed to pick up some wet naps a few miles further at the cvs on pico and la brea, where we all stopped for lunch.
crossing crenshaw at pico
oki’s-dog was another place recommended to the group by jonathan gold—i still can't believe he ATE his way down pico. we pressed ourselves up against the order window to see what we could see...
still stuffed from our birria taco at el parian earlier in the day, the yelpers that were with me decided to split the "grease bomb" that is the pastrami burrito (it was the size of a small child) and an order of chili cheese fries.
one of LA's many beloved fast food shacks
there were too many things going on with the pastrami burrito to make it really stand out. the pastrami itself was drowned out by the chili poured over top. perhaps it's not spiced enough, but i was having trouble identifying the flavor. i knew i was having pastrami because of the unique texture it provided, but that was about it. everything else in the burrito worked against providing a truly remarkable fatty experience. the bell peppers still had that raw flavor so they covered up the nice caramel flavor of the grilled onions. i'll give it three stars because i've never in my life encountered such a beast. i'm glad we split it three ways. 1/3 was more than enough.
the chili on the chili cheese fries didn't look like dog food, which I later learned from jennifer w. is a bad thing. good chili apparently looks like dog food. the fries were remarkably crunchy and fluffy on the inside. but we got worried when the "cheese" topping the order didn't melt even with all the heat from the fries and the chili radiating in to it. scary.
a crane collapses on cool baby near la cienega; le maison du pain
further down the road was le maison du pain, a bakery owned by “two filipina ladies.” risking our very lives to try french pastries in the middle of the day, a handful of the walkers jaywalked across pico and ran into the tiny shop. inside we found there were still quite a few folks enjoying a late lunch and/or afternoon coffee with pastry. i knew i couldn’t overdo it (remember that birria taco and the pastrami burrito?), so i opted for a few small items to enjoy later on the walk if and when my fuel reserves should begin to run low.
the tiny beignets and microscopic éclairs (they had regular and mini ones, too, but i wanted a bit size version) looked like they would suffice. i packed them into my messenger bag and had them about two hours later when we jumped into the coffee bean and tea leaf across from the westside pavilion for a coffee break. the éclairs had a thin chocolate shell to keep the not-too rich cream filling trapped in its place. the pastry itself was light, cool and had a hint of that eggy flavor i like. the beignets were better, i thought; the size of a hostess cupcake, the french doughnut was semi-dense yet airy. with a light dusting of sugar on top it was the perfect accompaniment to my coffee. oh yeah, this coffee bean doesn’t serve flavored coffee after noon… is that the case at all coffee beans? i’d never had that happen before.
eventually, we made it to the end of the road (har har) and ended the day with a spicy caribbean meal at cha cha chicken in santa monica. mmm, salt air, spicy dinner, a few bottles of viognier we snagged at trader joe’s a mile up the road all made for a pretty sweet end to a truly rewarding day. many thanks to franklin avenue for organizing the event!
more photos available at my flickr page.