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.