Sunday, April 24, 2011

Le Roi De Trempettes

With fuel prices in California climbing close to meltdown levels, I intended to keep today's comida expedition within rifle shot of the quaint Casa Basura. Luckily, a solid (and historic) option came to mind that fit the bill perfectly. Philippe's (nowadays pronounced with the E on the end) is an LA landmark that hardly needs anymore introductions, but I will gladly oblige nevertheless. Originally opened in 1908 by French immigrant Philippe Mathieu, this old-fashioned lunchroom holds title for generating the illustrious French Dip. While this dubious claim is often disputed by Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet (who also declares the honor), most Angelenos think Philippe's first for dips. I somehow managed to miss the noon rush, so I chose the shortest line with the most animated lunch lady (all orders carved on the spot) and presented my humble request: beef dip, coleslaw, pickled huevo (brined in beet juice for a psychedelic effect), and an ice cold lemonade.
 After receiving my trayful, the next step is to procure a seat in the institutionalized (not unlike grade school or a psych ward) dining room. This can prove no easy task during peak hours but today I was chowing down in no time flat. The most exquisita feature of the dips here, as well as Cole's, is that the French roll is dipped (or double dipped) in the au jus rather than having it served on the side. This technique insures a desirable uniform moistness. Accompanied by some chiles and Philippe's hot mustard (which has a nice creamy horseradish flavor), these sandwiches bring out the wolf that lives in all of us. As for the sides, the slaw had a cool vinegar finish and the egg (after I was done staring at it) maintained a sturdy texture with an earthy undertone. With the world turned upside down and imminent doom basically unavoidable, it's a welcome relief to see that Philippe's hasn't changed much after all these years. Truly a lesson on the benefits of patience. Now if only more things in life were just as practical we'd be in good shape.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sea Shanty

After an unintentional hiatus, I, Solo Basura, have returned once again to the lunch lines to seek out worthy comida that proves to be both mildly inspirational and downright delectable. On a lovely Viernes afternoon, K and I found ourselves in Encinitas at one of my favorecido North County roadside stalls. Raul's is mostly known for their adobaba, chile verde, and fish burritos but whenever I'm in San Diego my brain instantly computes rolled tacos. I swiftly ordered the number 13 combo: four rolled tacos (2 carne, 2 pollo) served with rice and beans (both vegetarian as it goes). At this point I will pause because I know what you're thinking: "Man, that's some gringo comida if I've ever seen any." While this is certainly true (catering mainly to surfers and teenagers), Raul's does manage to keep it real with items like the Mexico City style chicken sopa: flavorful broth, tomates, onion, shredded pollo, sliced avacado. This happens to be K's go to choice here (with a taco back of course), so after the stage was set we started on in.
Ah, a perfecto snack before heading down to San Elijo state beach for a night of camping in the sand. Shortly after we arrived, however, the wind picked up and the sky darkened followed by some light hail and rain that banished us to the tent for the rest of the night. During this restless time, drifting in and out of sleep, I had the tune of the Drunken Sailor stuck firmly in my cerebro (put him in the scuppers with a hose-pipe on him!). I hadn't thought of this song in years but there it was clear as a bell. I'm not sure if I can attribute this heightened musical ability to Raul's, but I'm certain that further testing is definitely in order. Who knows how many hits one might get for a video of a half asleep guy belting out a popular standard (secretly fueled by rolled tacos), but I'm guessing lots.