Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Salvadorean Coffee Quest

As many of you know, I am Salvadorean. I was born in San Salvador, and came to the US when I was 5 years old. Growing up in California, I was always more influenced by Mexican culture than Salvadoran. So it wasn't until college that I began to get "in touch with my roots," sort of speak. In this process, I had always heard that El Salvador had at one point produced great coffee, but due to the war that industry died in the country.

Well, as I have become more of a seasoned coffee drinker, I have started hearing that El Salvador is making a resurgence in the international coffee scene. This has a lot to do with big time barristas using Salvadoran coffee in large competitions. Anyway, until recently all the different Salvadoran coffees I had tried really sucked (including Starbucks' Black Apron and the one that Whole Foods sales.) Some these coffees have been so bad, that my wife (who is particular about her coffee) made me empty out freshly made pots, because the coffee was so terrible. However, deep inside me, I knew there had to be one out there that would redeem the labor of my people.

Back in November, I finally found a contender, Intelligentsia's Los Inmortales (The Immortals). If anything, the name made it sound bad ass. I tried it and yes it was good. I can't say it was the best, but much better than any other Salvadoran coffee I had tried. Although, my big breakthrough came just a few weeks ago when I visited New York. When I went to Craft, a Salvadoran coffee called Los Luchadores (The Wrestlers or Fighters) caught my attention. Again a very interesting name for a coffee. I knew if its being served at Craft it has to be good. Unfortunately that day they didn't have any, so I was determine to find it. Fortunately, our friends ME and RE, who joined us for dinner at Craft, found it and sent us a pound. The coffee is roasted and sold by Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco. These peeps really know their coffee and like Intelligentsia's coffee, Los Luchadores didn't suck. Actually, my wife and I really enjoyed it. Finally, a couple of coffees to be proud of and share with my friends.

While Los Luchadores and Los Inmortales are a start, I know there may be some other gems out there, so my quest continues.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Culver City Eats at Tub's Fine Chili

On Monday my wife and I were coming home from our weekly fitness bootcamp session and we were starving. As is usually the case, we were debating what to eat. So driving down Overland we saw a new sign for a chili spot called Tub's Fine Chili. Interestingly enough it is in a small shopping center next to the liquor store where they shot one of the opening scenes of Superbad. Anyway, we pulled over and decided to try it out.

I am always excited to try new restaurants in the hope that I will discover the next big thing before it gets commercial. As it turns out the place was closed, but the owners were keeping it open a little later to see who would pop in. Right away we got samples of the different types of chili. Wow, this was not your average chili....they had steak, turkey, chicken, pork and even vegetarian chili....and it was delicious. They serve and sell the chili by the scoop in these tortilla/pita-like bowls. You can also, order various toppings and tasty buffalo chips.

We finally decided to order one bowl of the "Steak Town" and one of the "Turkey Drive" with a "Tubs Topper" side. The chili was off the hook, well seasoned, flavorful and not overly greasy. Overall, I could have used a little more heat, but they did give us a few small containers of their homemade habanero hot sauce, which sufficed. I was so hungry, I took my two-scoop bowl out pretty quickly, so much for the bootcamp workout.

This place is great, and best of all its walking distance from our condo. We will definitely be back and as long as it is in business it will probably force us to cut back on our Pho Show addiction.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Print for My Office

Just received a new Cesar Chavez print that I recently purchased, from a young up-and-coming Latino artist named Ernesto Yerena. I originally saw the original painting in D.C. at an exhibit called Manifest Hope that ran the week of the Inauguration. At the time, I remember really liking it and being bummed out that someone had purchased it already. Nevertheless, the artist released a limited run of a 100 artist prints (50 in turquoise, 50 in brown), so I managed to snatch one up.

This one is going in my office for sure!

I believe there may still be a few left, you can get more info at the Jetset Graffiti web site.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bringing Some Design to Bedroom

I finally had a chance to take photos of what we have done with our bedroom. It is still a work in progress, but nevertheless, we've come a long way from when we moved in 2 and half years ago.



On the to-do list is the renovation of our closets and addition of artwork. Once I get it framed, I'm planning on putting my new Shag print in here.

Also, in case you are reading this on Facebook, these posts are part of my blog, Perdidos in a Condo.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New York Adventures, Friends, Food, Drink and Hotel

My wife and I just returned from a quick weekend trip to New York City. As usual, we had plenty planned for this outing and not enough time to do everything. Nevertheless, we had a great time and even had the opportunity to share our adventures with some of our L.A. expat friends (RE, ME, JD & visiting friends), who now live on the East Coast....thanks again for all the hospitality.

Some of the great places we ate and drank at, included:

Casa Mono - Small Batali spot on Lexington and 17th serving Spanish (Catalan) cuisine. The Jamon Iberico was really good. Also, Top Chef Ilan used to work there. I had eaten there before, but it was nice to take my wife there.

Rue 57 - Its on 57 and Ave. of Americas, mainly French but interestingly also serves Sushi. This place was a pleasant surprise and the mushroom salad that my wife ordered was one of the most amazing things I have ever tasted.

Craft - This is a Tom Colicchio restaurant, who I am a big fan of. As expected the food was delicious and ambiance was great. We were joined by ME and RE, and we all shared a variety of dishes. A highlight and disappointment for me was the Salvadorean coffee on the menu "Los Luchadores," which unfortunately they did not have that day. Regardless, what a great name for a coffee. I will write more about that later.

The Continental - Talk about a cheap spot to get faded at. This place is famous for its 5 shots for $10 deal. So between our friends we ordered 20....and this was the first bar we hit.

Florencia 13 - Named after the infamous L.A. street gang, this SoHo bar is straight up chingon. With its tribute to gangster culture and cholo paraphernalia on the walls, this place is a magnet for out of town Chicanos and West Coast Raza in NY. The place is tiny but we had a blast. Special thanks to Lori, for being such a gracious hostess. Check out her Beaner Bar in Brooklyn.

Dean & DeLuca - We always see this spot in the background on the Today Show, so we stopped by for coffee and pastries. My wife and I had been to the one in DC, and since they don't have these in L.A. it was a nice treat.

La Superior - This joint is a Mexican restaurant in a real hipeester (out of the way) part of town in Brooklyn. The place itself embodied the arty/bohemian vibe of the neighborhood. Aside from some of the minimal folkloric accents on the walls (various images of the Virgen de Guadalupe, even on a skateboard.) you would of thought you were in some type of minimalist vegan spot. While the decor was subtle, the food was vibrant and delicious. Our group ordered a lot of food, specially JD, that guy eats like its his job. I recommend this place, its good... just don't trip out on the electronic ambient groove tunes playing in the background.

Finally, a big highlight of the trip was the hotel we stayed at, The London Hotel. This hotel was truly amazing, probably one of the bests that I have stayed in. My wife and I are big fans of the show Hotel Babylon on BBC America, and we felt almost as if we had been transported into the show...except this place is nicer. The decor is modern elegant, with a very tasteful earthy color palette. The room was off the hook, super comfy bed, incredible bath and overall it had every luxury amenity of a contemporary home. Our view was also fabulous, as we looked out towards northern Manhattan facing the southern part of Central Park. On the night before we left we even ran into Chef Gordon Ramsay, who has a restaurant at the hotel. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to eat there.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Guanaco Modern Design on Dwell

I was at the grocery store this weekend and picked up the latest issue of Dwell. I really enjoy reading this magazine, it always has smart and insightful articles on architecture, design and "modern living." While the content is not very practical for everyday home implementation, I appreciate the vision and innovation behind their concept of future home decor. Nevertheless, I was really impressed when I read the cover story, which featured a home in my native country of El Salvador.

The featured home is the work of a Salvadoran architect named Jose Roberto Paredes, who lives in the home with his family just outside of San Salvador. The article was a pleasant surprise, since the type of homes that Dwell features are usually from European countries with rich architecture traditions. You can read more about this unique home on the Dwell web site.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Art, My Guilty Pleasure

For my wife it is shoes and purses, but my guilty pleasures are art (whatever I can afford) and music. So I'm pretty excited about the new Shag print I just purchased, its called "The Secret Cul-De-Sac." This print reminds me of life in Culver City, being that it is just west of Downtown and for being part of L.A., it has a very leisurely sub-urban feel. Now I have to save up for the framing, it will probably be more than the print.