"Too few people understand a really good sandwich" James Beard

Few people understand the affect that a proper sandwich, an awesome friend, and a day lazing can have on a person. I am one of the lucky few who had one of these days today. Not that I haven't been lazing the entire summer, but lazing at the Malibu Country Mart, brings lazing to a whole new level. Park under a shade tree and get ready for a kick-back day. However, one must first stop in at one of my favorite stores, Kitson in the Lumberyard. Here you will enjoy shelling out  $100-$200  for overpriced funky sweatshirts and knickknacks, said no one ever. But today I did thumb through Bacon 24/7 (Theresa Gilliam), a cookbook, that I simply must have. And where else but Kitson Kids would one find a baby boy onsie that says, My Girlfriend Is Out of Town, or Call My Agent? Self-control, two words, that are slowly becoming part of my new vocabulary. Lunch at John's Garden is always healthy and delicious. Well, at least part of that statement is true for me. Decide what you want before you get in line; the menu is located in about four different places, so it shouldn't be hard to do. My favorite sandwich is the Chef's Club ($9.99). This is a triple decker, so come hungry! Tuna salad, avocado, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and mayo, dominate in this hearty sandwich served on your choice of bread. I always get the seven grain. Other favorite sandwiches include the Tuna Melt ($8.75), the Bu-ben Melt-Malibu's version of a Ruben ($9.29), a combo of corned beef, pastrami, or smoked turkey, swiss cheese, saurekraut, and 1000 island dressing! Regular deli sandwiches include basic turkey, roast beef, blt, and brisket. Vegetarian salads and sandwiches and salads abound. We also love the Italian salad ($10.99) served on a bed of mixed lettuce, salami, provolone, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, garbanzo and kidney beans, tomatoes, and croutons. Help yourself to a drink from the 'fridge or order up a seasonal fresh peach milkshake ($4.99). Sit yourself down at a picnic table under an umbrella and wile away the afternoon. John's Garden 3835 Cross Creek Road #1 (In the Malibu Country Mart) Malibu (310) 456-8377 Hours: Mon-Fri: 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. Sat & Sun: 9:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

 

Recommended Dishes: The Italian Salad, The Chef's Club, Tuna Melt, Bu-Ben, BLT, Ice Cream Milkshakes.

If ever there was a "Champ," Chef Eric Greenspan fits that title. I cannot rave enough about the grilled cheese I had here today; and don't worry, I am going to. But first, a little back story about Eric. Raised in California, but born in New Jersey, Greenspan has worked in many fine kitchens including Bouley, Union Pacific, Alain Ducasse, Patina, and The Foundry on Melrose. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Greenspan attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in France. I find it interesting that he has been a contributor to Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," because once you taste his food; you are sure to think it's some of the best things you'll ever eat! I'm going to start off with the Latke Bites ($3.25) with apple creme fraiche. I'm starting with these because I don't think I've ever met anyone who ever came close to making a latke taste like this. Crunchy on the outside, and moist, hot and fluffy on the inside. The creme fraiche is an adult version of sour cream and applesauce. This might be on my dying meal menu! French fries ($2.75) come with garlic lemon aioli and I love that combination! Tomato Basil soup ($4 bowl/$3 cup/$1 dip) is available as a side too. Now I'm going to cut to the chase. I studied the menu for a good ten minutes until the amazing Sean told me that I could make my own sandwich. Sean helped me pick ingredients from the most popular sandwich (The Champ) to create a masterpiece! My sandwich was over the top! I chose sourdough bread, taleggio cheese, and beef shortribs. ($9.75). Now you know, when the cheese is dripping down your chin, that this is one outstanding sandwich! And it was! Loaded with meat and cheese and well-buttered and toasted; it was a sandwich after my own heart (literally). You can order sandwiches from a Classic ($3.25) with white bread and American cheese to the Johnny Apple Cheese ($7.50) with sourdough, aged white cheddar, apple mustard chutney, pastrami, and green apple. There are eight sandwiches on the menu, or for people like me; nine, if you create your own. For anyone who would come here and not order grilled cheese (I'm not sure why) there are thoughtfully, three salads on the menu as well. East coasters will love the variety of Utz Chips ($2.50) too. Drinks include regular fountain beverages and house made specials like Blood Orange Creamsicle ($3.75) or Key Lime Rickey. Oh, and don't miss dessert. The S'mores ($3.25) taste just like you made them at your own campfire, only better. Eat them at your own risk. Sticky, gooey fingers are definitely going to happen. If you are looking for the perfect grilled cheese to try this summer, hop on over to Greenspan's! Greenspan's Grilled Cheese 7461 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles (323) 591-0177 Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

 

Recommended Dishes: The Champ, Make Your Own, Johnny Apple Cheese, Latke Bites, S'Mores.

I don't know about you, but I'll use any excuse to go to Grand Central Market. Since April, my dream (well my foodie dream, anyway) has been to sit at Micah Wexler's Pastrami counter and wolf down a supreme sandwich. I had just the opportunity Saturday afternoon. My husband had to go look at one of his properties, that just opened (a Starbucks on Soto & Olympic) so I went along for the ride, snicker, snicker). Yeah right, sure I did. Having said this, I did discover the best places to buy very cool pinatas on Olympic Blvd. should you ever need one. Back to my purpose for going, beside being the very supportive wife. Wexler's! Wexler's Classic Jewish deli food is the name of the game here and it is made by, as they proclaim, "people who really care." So get yourself in line, do not take a seat first, and get ready for some fantastic food. Meats and fish at Wexler's are hand-crafted and cured in a special blend of salt and spices, then slowly smoked in house, over applewood. Afterwards, they are hand-sliced. Pickles are fermented in salt brine and cost $2 extra but are well worth it! I had the best OG (pastrami) sandwich in Los Angeles! ($10 ). Micah Wexler knows old-school deli fare and this sandwich proves it. The hand cut, thick, high quality meat needs only mustard and Etchea Bakery (213)626-0157 rye bread to showcase its tender juicy flavor. Order some of the tangiest, creamy potato salad on the side ($3), and it's a lunch to die for. For $2 you can get a smaller side of pickles and potato salad with any sandwich. We also tried the Boyle Heights ($10) which is mighty tasty corned beef, with mustard, on rye. The corned beef was every bit as delicious as the pastrami! Other sandwiches worth mentioning include the Macarthur Park ($11) pastrami, coleslaw, swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on rye, and the Ruskie ($9), egg salad and pickles on a kaiser roll. Bagels come with cream cheese ($3), lox and cream cheese ($8), smoked sturgeon and cream cheese ($9), pastrami, egg, and cheddar ($8), or egg, lox, and onion ($8). If you come for breakfast, be sure to try one of these! For dessert try the chocolate babka ($4) or a black and white cookie ($4). Drink a chocolate phosphate ($3) or an egg cream ($3) and you'll really experience traditional Jewish deli fare at its best! Wexler's Deli  Grand Central Market 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles. (213) 624-2378. Hours: M-F: 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Sat/Sun 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Recommended Dishes: OG, Boyle Heights, Potato Salad, Pickles.

You know, I think NoHo is fabulous, I really do. I enjoy so many places in this hipster part of town. What I don't get about Noho though is the blatant idiocy of the traffic engineers in this city. Take the corner where Georgi's is located for instance. I will take that corner actually. There are so many  accidents at that five-corner intersection where Riverside Drive, Lankershim Boulevard, Vineland Avenue,  and Camarillo Street all intersect. There are hardly any marked lanes here and even when the light is green, it's ominous to go. Drivers are coming at you from every direction, as well as pedestrians, and cyclists. And what's more, everyone's confused. If they put in some left turn arrows, the problem would be solved. Okay, that's enough ranting for me on the LA traffic problems. On to the review. If you make it through the intersection, park in the tiny lot where H. Salt is and be prepared to enjoy a Mediterranean sandwich like no other! Order at the counter and pay after you're done eating. The Chicken Iliki ($9.25) is my favorite wrap. Hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, cucumbers, Greek olives, avocado, feta cheese, lemon, olive oil, mint and basil, pepper, and chicken topped with tzatkiki yogurt and tahini sauce blend so well together to make this sandwich simply irresistible! The Gyro Gone Wild ($9.49) includes all the sauces and veggies of the Chicken Iliki with gyro meat and falafel is another favorite. The Italian Sub ($9.25) with pastrami, mortadella, salami, and provolone comes on a freshly baked Armenian roll, white or wheat wrap. All subs include lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, salt, pepper, olive oil, Georgi's Sauce (chipolte/1000 island hybrid), mustard and, mayo. Each sandwich is made to order to guarantee freshness. It's worth the wait. We are so excited to go back to try the Garlic Chicken Sub Sandwich ($8.50) and about 10 other things! Just watch out for crazy drivers! Georgi's Place Hy-Mart Sandwiches 4795 Vineland Avenue Suite C, North Hollywood (818) 506-7264. Hours: Mon-Fri: 10:30 a.m.- 7 p.m. Sat: 10:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sun: 12 p.m.- 6 p.m.

 

Recommended Dishes: Gyros, Chicken Iliki, Pastrami, Italian Sub.

When I used to work in Culver City eons ago it was nothing but a vast wasteland save for the studios and a few liquor stores sprinkled here and there. Now we love going to some of our favorite places on Main Street for a light lunch or a great dinner when we're in the area. Lunch is one of our favorites when we want to compose our "ideal" sandwich or salad or enjoy a custom sandwich with names like Un-Brie-Lievable or Chick Magnet. Walk up to the counter or take an order form and you'll be ready to start!  Step #1 (for the ideal sandwich $9.95) is choosing your bread. Choose from 6 different varieties or make yours a wrap. Step #2: Pick a spread. Anything goes here from fig spread, hummus, olive paste, pesto, to Russian dressing, peanut butter, and everthing imaginable. Next pick a protein. ($2 for each additional) Choose from bacon, chicken breast, chicken salad, egg salad, garden burger, ham, prosciutto, roast beef, salami, turkey, tuna salad, mayo-free tuna salad, or seared tuna (add $5 for seared tuna). Step #4 Select a cheese ($1 for additional). Brie, cheddar, goat, gorganzola, mozzarella, parmesan, provolone, or Swiss are available. Finally, choose 3 toppings (.$75 for each additional). Green apple, artichoke hearts, avocado, carrots, mushrooms, cucumber, roasted eggplant, olives, caramelized onions, red onion, jalepenos, pickles, tomato, sun dried tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, mixed greens, spinach, and arugula are all tasty choices. All sandwiches come with a bag of chips. We love the California Turkey. ($9.95) Turkey, avocado, tomato, sprouts, provalone, and Russian dressing are piled high onto sourdough (we get it toasted). This sandwich is huge, so we share it. We add a side of the Mac and Cheese which is only $1 with any sandwich. Mac and cheese is elbow macaroni and unbelievably creamy cheese sauce. We always get a ideal sandwich too. Yesterday we had the chicken breast with melted provolone, and caramelized onions! Yum! If you are feeling defiant, you can even go to "Lunch" for breakfast! The delicious Breakfast Burrito ($10.95) is bacon, eggs, tomato, onion, black beans, avocado, and cheddar served with mixed greens or home style potatoes. Be sure to check out the Brioche French Toast ($9.95) topped with fresh berries, powdered sugar, and served with real maple syrup. This cozy little spot offers both indoor and outdoor seating. I think we'll be spending a lot of summer days here. Lunch 3829 Main Street Culver City (310) 837-6201 Hours: Breakfast Mon-Fri: 7am-11am Sat: 10am-3pm. Lunch until 4 pm.

 

Recommended Dishes:Ideal Sandwiches, California Turkey, Mac and Cheese, Grilled Cheese, Mayo Free Tuna Salad, Breakfast Burrito, Brioche French Toast.

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