Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweetsalt Food Shop

Sweetsalt Sign

Sweetsalt Food Shop is one of those places you keep your eye on for months, finally stop in and then kick yourself for not making it in when you first heard of it. Opened last January by husband and wife team Alex Eusebio (Top Chef contestant season 5) and Sara Mann, Sweetsalt is an adorable shop that serves sandwiches, salads, soup and baked goods with an unpretentious French flair. I stopped in on a weekend morning; while there is no breakfast menu, per se, many of the sandwiches work perfectly for starting off your day.

Sweetsalt Serrano ham & fig sandwich
Serrano ham & fig sandwich ($9): crusty bread, salty ham, sweet fig preserves and brie to bring it all together. I was incredibly happy while eating this sandwich and it's been a long time since I've had that blissful feeling. Swoon. The salad was fresh and had a slightly tangy dressing that seemed to be Dijon mustard based. I was stuffed from finishing the sandwich, but I ate as much of the salad as I could.

Sweetsalt Eggnog Macaron
Eggnog macaron ($1.50): I have started a slow courtship with macarons (I am unsure yet if I can't live without them or not), so I've been ordering them when they're around. Chewy and without an overwhelming eggnog flavor, their version was a light end to an indulgent breakfast.

I want to try so much more on their menu, such as: lavender duck sandwich (lavender as an ingredient intrigues me), Sweetsalt BLT (with pears!) and grapefruit truffle salad (pancetta, wild mushrooms, and a citrus-truffle vinaigrette warrant irresistible investigation). Add the fact that they have espresso and tea? You're going to see me eating and reading leisurely here through the winter, for sure.

You can read LA Weekly's Squid Ink interview with Alex Eusebio here.

Sweetsalt Food Shop
10218 1/2 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, CA 91602
(818) 509-7790

Friday, November 12, 2010

Banh Mi Che Cali

I did something daring today: I went in search of breakfast in the San Gabriel Valley without a game plan! I just chose an exit at random, drove around a bit and stopped in at the first place that looked somewhat promising, which was Banh Mi Che Cali. Of course, I did not get the two things they are famous for: cheap banh mi and buy one get one free boba. Instead, I chose to grab pre-made eats and ended up eating in my car on the side of the street like a madwoman.

banhcheli 4
I'm going to need some help here, but it was some sort of pork products and noodles. I was starving, so I wolfed it down.

banhcheli 1
Vegetarian spring roll. I could identify it, but I wasn't that pleased with them. Considering my breakfast total was $5.77, I wasn't that heartbroken about my very basic meal.

I have to say, I felt out of my element because of the language barrier and their counter setup (I wasn't sure if only certain things could be ordered in each area). The important thing is that I got my Vietnamese cravings taken care of for the time being. However, I'm going to have a Vietnamese speaking friend tag along next time around; I want the good stuff (and not my usual scenario of crossing my fingers, hoping for the best)!

Banh Mi Che Cali
7968 Garvey Ave
Rosemead, CA 91770