Burger Quest :: Working Class Kitchen

Burger Quest :: Working Class Kitchen

I hadn’t realized how long I’d gone without adding a new burger to my celebrated (by me) Burger Quest list until yesterday when my co-worker/work son William suggested relative newcomer Working Class Kitchen as our destination for lunch. I’d been here for the first time a week or so ago, considering it as a Quest spot after seeing the many mentions of their burger online. With such a long lapse in time since the last Quest venture, I decided to go for it at WCK with their genuine, bona fide Chianina burger made with BEEF, a rate appearance on any Dianderthal list due to my on-again/off-again pescetarianism/semi-vegetarianism habits. Yesterday, it felt wonderful to be off as the Chianina burger was On. Right on, so juicy, so flavorful – the meat tender and succulent, attuned by the vibrant color provided by their scratch-made remoulade and sweetly caramelized onions. And much of the burger’s beauty was in the bun, a not-too-soft split roll dense enough to handle all the juiciness.

working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest

Work son and the rest of my lunchtime pals marveled at the speed at which I finished my burger. Gone in 60 seconds? Pretty close. Probably in five or six healthy bites. Perhaps I almost bit off a couple of my fingers. Made in my hometown, enjoyed outdoors, and paired with a few handfuls of WCK’s divine frites, I was in lunchtime heaven as I savored this meal. Only thing about lunchtime heaven, however, is that it isn’t eternal. After 15 minutes or so, we had to pack it up and head back to the office. At least it was a Friday, giving me the weekend to look forward to.

working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest

I am eternally grateful, though, that a great burger is such a short drive away from my workplace. Now if I can only find a way to make this burger fit into my diet should I resume my sometimes pescetarian ways. Maybe a monthly cheat day will do the trick. Whatever I do, the Burger Quest continues, with WCK shaking things up…

Official Dianderthal Burger Quest Burger List:
1. Hawkins House of Burgers turkey burger with everything (mayo, mustard, pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce), cheese added
2. The Chianina Burger at Working Class Kitchen with cheese
3. PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check with americanized dashi cheese, ketchup leather, schmaltz onions, mixed pickles, crunch bun
4. 25 Degrees Number One Burger (turkey subbed for beef) with caramelized onions, crescenza, prelibato gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, thousand island
5. Burger Lounge’s Free Range Turkey Burger, served Lounge Style with organic white cheddar, grilled onion, lettuce, tomato, and house-made 1000 Island
6. Father’s Office Burger with arugula, caramelized onions, Gruyere, applewood bacon, and maytag blue cheese
7. Island’s California Flyer turkey burger (BBQ sauce, “Island Reds” – fried onion straws, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato & mayo)
8.Golden State turkey burger with provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and ketchup, (added grilled onions)
9. Oh My Burger BYOMB (Build Your Oh My Burger) turkey with OMB sauce, ketchup, pepper jack, and onion rings
10. Holstein’s California Turkey Burger with sprouts, tomato, avocado, cucumber claw, pepperjack cheese, and Russian dressing
11. Yeah! Burger (Make It Your Own – turkey patty, whole wheat bun, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo, ketchup, grilled onions, honey mustard)
12. The Habit (Veggie burger made like a Charburger, with mayo, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, cucumber, and sprouts)
13. The Counter (Build Your Own – turkey patty, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, ketchup)
14. Burger City Grill (The BCG, turkey patty, pickles, grilled onions)
15. The Dallas at Bobby’s Burger Palace – spice crusted ground turkey patty with coleslaw, jack cheese, BBQ sauce, and pickles

Fry Factor
1. Island’s fries with ranch dressing
2. Golden State fried sweet potato wedges with garlic aioli (and a few with curry ketchup)
3. Working Class Kitchen’s frites
4. Burger Lounge’s fries with house-made Ranch
5. Holstein’s sweet potato fries
6. 25 Degrees Half & Half (sweet potato and regular fries)
7. Father’s Office sweet potato fries with blue cheese aioli
8. The Counter 50-50 fries (half regular, half sweet Ps)
9. Oh My Burger sweet potato fries
10. The Habit french fries
11. Plan Check sweet potato waffle fries and regular fries
12. Bobby’s Burger Palace sweet potato fries
13. Burger City Grill fries
14. Yeah! Burger sweet potato fries
15. Hawkins House of Burgers fries

Working Class Kitchen
1322 Coronado Avenue in Long Beach

Burger Quest :: Working Class Kitchen

Burger Quest :: Working Class Kitchen

I hadn’t realized how long I’d gone without adding a new burger to my celebrated (by me) Burger Quest list until yesterday when my co-worker/work son William suggested relative newcomer Working Class Kitchen as our destination for lunch. I’d been here for the first time a week or so ago, considering it as a Quest spot after seeing the many mentions of their burger online. With such a long lapse in time since the last Quest venture, I decided to go for it at WCK with their genuine, bona fide Chianina burger made with BEEF, a rate appearance on any Dianderthal list due to my on-again/off-again pescetarianism/semi-vegetarianism habits. Yesterday, it felt wonderful to be off as the Chianina burger was On. Right on, so juicy, so flavorful – the meat tender and succulent, attuned by the vibrant color provided by their scratch-made remoulade and sweetly caramelized onions. And much of the burger’s beauty was in the bun, a not-to-soft split roll dense enough to handle all the juiciness.

working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest

Work son and the rest of my lunchtime pals marveled at the speed at which I finished my burger. Gone in 60 seconds? Pretty close. Probably in five or six healthy bites. Perhaps I almost bit off a couple of my fingers. Made in my hometown, enjoyed outdoors, and paired with a few handfuls of WCK’s divine frites, I was in lunchtime heaven as I savored this meal. Only thing about lunchtime heaven, however, is that it isn’t eternal. After 15 minutes or so, we had to pack it up and head back to the office. At least it was a Friday, giving me the weekend to look forward to.

working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest

I am eternally grateful, though, that a great burger is such a short drive away from my workplace. Now if I can only find a way to make this burger fit into my diet should I resume my sometimes pescetarian ways. Maybe a monthly cheat day will do the trick. Whatever I do, the Burger Quest continues, with WCK shaking things up…

Official Dianderthal Burger Quest Burger List:
1. Hawkins House of Burgers turkey burger with everything (mayo, mustard, pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce), cheese added
2. The Chianina Burger at Working Class Kitchen with cheese
3. PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check with americanized dashi cheese, ketchup leather, schmaltz onions, mixed pickles, crunch bun
4. 25 Degrees Number One Burger (turkey subbed for beef) with caramelized onions, crescenza, prelibato gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, thousand island
5. Burger Lounge’s Free Range Turkey Burger, served Lounge Style with organic white cheddar, grilled onion, lettuce, tomato, and house-made 1000 Island
6. Father’s Office Burger with arugula, caramelized onions, Gruyere, applewood bacon, and maytag blue cheese
7. Island’s California Flyer turkey burger (BBQ sauce, “Island Reds” – fried onion straws, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato & mayo)
8.Golden State turkey burger with provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and ketchup, (added grilled onions)
9. Oh My Burger BYOMB (Build Your Oh My Burger) turkey with OMB sauce, ketchup, pepper jack, and onion rings
10. Holstein’s California Turkey Burger with sprouts, tomato, avocado, cucumber claw, pepperjack cheese, and Russian dressing
11. Yeah! Burger (Make It Your Own – turkey patty, whole wheat bun, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo, ketchup, grilled onions, honey mustard)
12. The Habit (Veggie burger made like a Charburger, with mayo, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, cucumber, and sprouts)
13. The Counter (Build Your Own – turkey patty, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, ketchup)
14. Burger City Grill (The BCG, turkey patty, pickles, grilled onions)
15. The Dallas at Bobby’s Burger Palace – spice crusted ground turkey patty with coleslaw, jack cheese, BBQ sauce, and pickles

Fry Factor
1. Island’s fries with ranch dressing
2. Golden State fried sweet potato wedges with garlic aioli (and a few with curry ketchup)
3. Working Class Kitchen’s frites
4. Burger Lounge’s fries with house-made Ranch
5. Holstein’s sweet potato fries
6. 25 Degrees Half & Half (sweet potato and regular fries)
7. Father’s Office sweet potato fries with blue cheese aioli
8. The Counter 50-50 fries (half regular, half sweet Ps)
9. Oh My Burger sweet potato fries
10. The Habit french fries
11. Plan Check sweet potato waffle fries and regular fries
12. Bobby’s Burger Palace sweet potato fries
13. Burger City Grill fries
14. Yeah! Burger sweet potato fries
15. Hawkins House of Burgers fries

Working Class Kitchen
1322 Coronado Avenue in Long Beach

52 Notes :: Valentine’s Quickies

52 Notes :: Valentine’s Quickies

I’m that person whose party gift lands on the table without a tag, requiring the recipient to look around sheepishly as she opens it to figure out the givee, me lifting my hand, apologizing for my lack of decorum with a grand smile, a gentle shrug. A few times, I’ve written my name on the top corner of the bag, practically having to etch the letters, the waxy paper not easily accepting of ink. I’m at least better than my husband, who once showed up to a friend’s wedding with our gift in a floppy gray plastic bag, the bold lettering of Bed, Bath & Beyond viewable from space. My bad for not picking something up early, forgetting I hadn’t purchased a gift as I helped the bride-to-be prep. A hard one but lesson learned – I no longer wanted to be that gifter. Five years ago, when the American Greetings store in the Cerritos Mall closed, I spent about fifteen bucks on 30 or so cards, a purchase meant to support my new habit of being ready to bid fond farewells, best wishes, and the happiest of birthdays to family and friends. My greeting card bonanza was to save me from my chronic lack of preparedness. At 70-90% off, I picked up cards for work birthdays, for congratulations, for condolences, for missing those who were far away (at the time, my oldest daughter  was preparing to leave for college in the fall). And I purchased a pair of Valentine’s Day cards for my husband, though we’d never really been the card-swapping type. 52 notes quickie valentine With the bulk of my collection to be used for work birthdays, I kept the bunch in my office so as to prevent burning a morning break with a trip to Ralph’s for a last minute purchase when someone asked if I’d remembered that it was so-and-so’s birthday. 52notes quickie valentine Problem was that I kept forgetting to pull out the non-work cards, leaving me with an obsolete stack of greetings, collecting dust on my bookshelf over the years, including the love cards for my husband. 52 notes february valentine And he didn’t get any of them this year either as it wasn’t until I’d spent five bucks at Target on a new card that I remembered the waning stash at work. But I did indeed send him a card – mailed it from Elm Street to Elm Street, stamp and everything, along with a Valentine’s card to my sweet parents far away in Stockton, and a birthday card for my hound loving UCLA homie, Tami. This lucky bunch can brag that they received full-priced greetings from me. Hopefully, I’ll find a use for my remaining, obscure bargain bin remains before the year is over, even the juvenile one for my youngest niece, who is now 16.

What is 52 Notes?

Tasty Places :: Blue Bottle Coffee & Rolling Dunes

Tasty Places :: Blue Bottle Coffee & Rolling Dunes

I’m already a sucker for a clean, bright, hipster space. Add coffee and waffles and I could move in for weeks. Lucky for my family, the closest waffle-serving Blue Bottle Coffee is some 300 miles north of home so daily commutes to and from Long Beach to there would make it difficult to get my kid to school in the mornings and back home in plenty of time to make supper for the husband.

Over the week of New Year’s, I was at my parents’ home in Stockton, my back out of whack from several nights rest on the sofa bed and my brain fried from waiting, waiting, waiting out slow Wi-Fi. Before heading back down to Long Beach, I thought it might be nice to take a drive west to the Bay Area to visit family, a nice bulk of my cousins and an aunt and uncle living there. And since I’d be there, why not check out a spot that I’d heard about for years from a co-worker of mine, who’d raved of a certain coffee place with delicious waffles ever since returning from a conference in San Francisco. Blue Bottle Coffee. I looked it up.

Blue Bottle Coffee - dianderthal

First lesson learned was that this place was no longer just a Bay Area favorite; that there were now a couple of locations in Southern California. But I also discovered was that not all of their outposts serve waffles. And I wanted a waffle; after finding that the LA stores were waffle-challenged, I figured this was my chance.

I’d expected to have to cross the Bay Bridge to get to a Blue Bottle before visiting with my family in Oakland, paying a toll and shelling out even more to park at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. But be still my heart – there was a location in Oakland, and – gasp! – it served waffles! It was on.

The morning of my outing, I overslept and had difficulty getting the kids awake as we’d resorted to staying up until 2:00 or 3:00 while on vacation, settling down for breakfast each morning by 11:15. I’d planned to get to Blue Bottle by 10:00 – sip coffee, do a bit of writing, let my wonderful waffle digest and still have plenty of time to meet up with my cousins for lunch. By the time we finally got on the freeway, it was 9:30. In my haste, I looked up the website on my phone just before pulling out of the driveway, thumbing through the site until I saw “Oakland” and then mapped the address – 300 Webster Street.

With traffic, we arrived at 11:00, my youngest just as ravenous for the place as I was after all the waffle talk. I was pumped about my coffee, but oh how thrilled was I to finally get a Blue Bottle Coffee waffle.

Blue Bottle Coffee - dianderthalBlue Bottle Coffee - Webster

“Oh, we don’t serve waffles at this location. Those are at the WC Morse location.” Yes. I was at the wrong place. What I hadn’t noticed before was that there were TWO Oakland locations; so while I was correct about an Oakland site having waffles, when I’d looked up the address before leaving, I’d done so for the wrong Oakland restaurant.

But I’m Dianderthal – and when I’m hungry for something, you best believe I’m going to get it. I still ordered my drink at the Webster spot – likely the best latte I’ve ever had in my time here on the planet with its pure, rich flavor that needed no further enhancement in the form of a sweetener – but took it to go along with a Snickerdoodle for my youngest kid, who could only shake her head at my goof. It would be tight with a time for lunch already scheduled, but I HAD to get to this WC Morse location.

And get there I did – eventually, as I had to get from the 300th to the 4200th block in town. Once I made it, I was fortunate enough to find a parking spot, taking the short walk over by myself, the kids probably worried about how I might react should things go badly.

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And this is when I found my potential second home – plenty of light and high ceilings and busy, bustling people, none of them perturbed by (or perhaps unaware of) my bulky camera, fixed on the space, the fixings and clicking away. I could go on about how fascinated I am by Blue Bottle, mentioning their training labs, free coffee tastings, the thought that goes into individualizing each of their locations to fit the neighborhoods in which they stand, the fact that they run a coffee machine repair shop – but you’ve likely stopped reading by now anyway (I do have a tendency to go on in these posts, don’t I?).

I’ve gone on long enough so I’ll just say here that the lengthy trip that brought me to my first Blue Bottle waffle (and my second Blue Bottle location) was very much worth it. Hand held, it was crisp and thick, the insides sugary and fluffy. Thank goodness the locations in Southern California are waffle negative or I might lose my home, lose my marriage due to my addiction.

Blue Bottle Coffee - dianderthal

I’d still like to sample some of the drip coffee the next time I’m in downtown LA. Maybe they’ll bring their waffles here soon – I’d be willing to sign a 2-year lease for a window seat near the waffle iron if they ever do.

Blue Bottle Coffee
Oakland’s “Waffle” location (with other breakfast items)
4270 Broadway
Oakland’s coffee and other treats (no waffles) location
300 Webster Street
and locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York

And lunch with the cousins was excellent – we spent time at Rolling Dunes on Oakland’s Lakeshore Avenue; a cozy “after church” kind of place with homey, succulent dishes – pastas, sandwiches, breakfast items. The kids and I enjoyed our delicious meals, and even more appreciated catching up with the cousins.

Rolling Dunes Oakland LakeshoreRolling Dunes Oakland Lakeshore Rolling Dunes Oakland LakeshoreRolling Dunes - Lakeshore - Oakland, dianderthal.com Rolling Dunes - Lakeshore - Oakland, dianderthal.com Rolling Dunes - Lakeshore - Oakland, dianderthal.com

Rolling Dunes
3331 Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland

Tasty Places :: Boudin Bakery

Tasty Places :: Boudin Bakery

It’s a wonder I haven’t written up this place before. I’m a regular here. This is my place. I eat here morning, midday, and evening. Only the staff here doesn’t know it. And that’s because I live some 300 miles plus away from Stockton’s Boudin Bakery. When I visit my hometown in the summer and during the holidays, however, I stack up the visits, making up for the many days I’m too far away to stop in for cookies or a tangy, nutty salad or hearty sandwich, along with a cup of coffee (they serve Peet’s). image It’s the morning of New Year’s Eve, my 4th of six official vacation days, mixed in with two holidays, which equals a week and a half-long break from work. I’d planned to spend my vacation in many a coffee shop and cafe, filling up page after page of verse, making much progress on short stories and a new novel and several essays in various degrees of incompletion. Instead, I was stricken with a shrewd bout of sinusitis – an ailment that tricks you into thinking you just have a cold or allergies, and after a few days rest convinces you you’re feeling better, only to yank you back down into idle days in bed, the lethargy and pain so bad that it kills you just to pick up the remote to switch the channel once Live with Kelly & Michael ends, forcing the voices of Whoopie and now two different Rosies (when did Perez join The View) into your hazy nap dreams. Now firmly on Day 3 of my antibiotic regimen, I finally got myself up to write, to sip, and to eat, well rested and feeling closer to normal after one night on my parents’ sofa bed, snuggled deep into several layers of covers since the dryness of the heater causes the fragile little blood vessels in my nose to bleed. All this to say, I got to my happy place this morning. imageimage Yes, give me a plate of French Toast and potatoes served alongside a cup ‘a joe, and I’m a happy gal. Drop off a notebook and a pen, and I can keep myself busy for hours (I’d similarly be sated if one were to leave me in a room full of Star Wars Legos). What finally got me up out of my booth seat was the burden of errands I needed to complete today – taking my mom to the AT&T store, and grabbing fabric from JoAnn’s. Oh, life. But I did get some writing done, after eating of course. I always take pictures of my food at its most pristine, but thought I’d take some shots of my table when I’m in the trenches – first I separate (gotta get rid of the blueberries since I’m allergic, then I set aside the remaining berries because I like them cold; and then I like to cut up the toast all at once rather than as I go to expedite the eating part), then savor (although today, with all the photos – DSLR and then IPhone, then all the separating and arranging, my toast had reached an internal temperature of negative five by the time I stuck my fork into it), then push back the leftovers to write along with a refill of coffee. imageimage I’m lucky to have offices away from home such as these, the sounds of the real regulars laughing as they played some sort of game; the smell of simmering clam chowder, some folks already ordering bread bowls of it so early in the morning. Boudin is my kind of place, with tasty options, friendly staff, and a chill vibe. There are actually locations a bit closer to home – including a store that I always walk past on my way to Nordstrom Rack in Costa Mesa – but logistically the Stockton one might just be easier to get to on a regular basis (have you ever tried to find parking at Metro Pointe?!). And it’s home – even though I’m only in town two or three times a year, the same lady takes my order, the same lady offers me water while I’m waiting on my to go order. image So tomorrow and the next day and the one after that, don’t be surprised to see “diateit” Instagram posts of chowder and flourless peanut butter cookies and chicken pesto sandwiches. Boudin SF 5616 Pacific Avenue in Stockton and other locations

Tasty Places :: TLT Food

Tasty Places :: TLT Food

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching my second oldest daughter’s volleyball team, the University of San Diego, take on the beloved team of my hometown, Cal State Long Beach, during the first round of NCAA playoffs at my alma mater, UCLA – just a game in a big arena for everyone else, but quite an event for me with so many of my worlds colliding, causing me to reflect and twaddle on, my youngest kid rolling her eyes, tuning me out at every mention of where I used to live, hang out, and get my hair done; how all my favorite stores and restaurants had been replaced.

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I’d hoped to return to my old college campus today for San Diego to take on the winner of the second game (which turned out to be UCLA). Instead, Long Beach swept USD in three, bringing our tournament hopes and my daughter’s last season to a close. [Sniff]

But why not take advantage of being in such proximity to so many new and remote restaurants (yes, I know UCLA is only 25 miles or so away from the LBC, but traffic to get there is a u-know-what). After some deliberation, I made my way to TLT Food, the storefront of the much-hyped winner of Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race.

And it was there that I officially named Friday, December 5th Sandwich Day, with me as the Earl, as I took down my third sandwich of the day (see Black Sheep GCB) with my trip to TLT. Okay, I suppose three sandwiches isn’t exactly a binge, but it did send a message to me that perhaps I have a thing for protein between two slabs of crusty carbs. The only thing that might have made Sandwich Day better is a breakfast item of some sort – perhaps next December 5th, I’ll begin with a visit to Burger King for an egg and cheese Croissan’wich.

My choice at TLT Food was the Bangkok Chicken, a lively dish flavored with the spices and textures of Thailand. Most enjoyable for me were the bits of cashews that dazzled and delighted me every few bites, surreptitiously tucked into a zippy slaw. The sliced chicken was delicate, kicking you in the taste buds only once you’d found the sweetness, the juiciness of it. What brought (and held) it all together was the bread, a perfectly crisp Ciabatta roll toasted just enough, and proportioned right for the sandwich stuffings. As tempted as I was to throw into my order a taco or their Chimi Wings, I honestly was still pretty full from sandwich #2. Instead, I asked for the two-buck side of roasted corn – a half cob slathered with chipotle-honey aioli and cotija cheese. The sweetness of the honey emboldened the already luscious corn, but the cheese and aioli curbed things nicely, providing quite the quixotic combination.

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The only unfortunate thing about TLT Food is their lack of a liquor license, one I didn’t realize they didn’t have until after I’d ordered their spiked limeade, made alcoholic not with tequila but a tequila-flavored wine. A cold beer would have been a better choice, but I didn’t want my 12-year-old (who begrudgingly joined me because I was her ride home) to give me the frowny eyes. Still, the fact that I downed my limeade means I can’t complain too much, even if the downing only served to speed along the agony that is tequila-flavored wine spiked limeade.

Overall, TLT Food amazed and awed and left me wanting more once I fully digest these three sandwiches. Perhaps by next December 5th? Let’s hope.

TLT Food in Westwood (there’s a 2nd location at the Irvine Spectrum)
1116 Westwood Blvd.

*Note to self and the other 7 readers of Dianderthal: TLT also offers a brunch that appears un-pass-upable, featuring breakfast burritos, breakfast tacos, and breakfast nachos; a sourdough French toast, and bottomless mimosas – feel free to hit a sista up if ever you want to roll early on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon. You can drive. 🙂

Tasty Places :: Black Sheep GCB

Tasty Places :: Black Sheep GCB

I’d only given cursory thought to attending a work meeting in Anaheim a few days before it happened. Once my colleague mentioned something about the group having lunch at the Anaheim Packing House nearby, I paid swift and serious attention, thinking that, yes, this meeting was integral and important to an upcoming project for my division, and it was very necessary for me to attend.

So I went. And actually, it proved to be a great meeting, one that shared key information about an exercise we’re holding with our regional partners next year. It was a good thing I went. However, my informant had erred on the lunch specifics. The group had not decided to go out for lunch. Instead, the agency who’d hosted the meeting was bringing lunch in – a working lunch with sandwiches from Togo’s. Now, I’m never one to grimace at a hosted lunch, but I had Packing House on the brain. So feeling bad about the mistake, my colleagues who’d made the trip with me to Anaheim obliged when I suggested a quick break on the way back to Long Beach for a to-go sampling from the OC’s hottest food court.

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While the two of them went for dessert, I wanted to try something new, as I’d already experienced the decadence that was Pop Bar, serving creamy gelato on a stick. New since my first visit to the Packing House in June was a place called Black Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar (GCB). Yes, I’d already eaten half a turkey sandwich not long before, but the buttery, toasted goodness that was going on there had me curious. And too, how could I pass up a place sharing the name with the 90s hip-hop group who brazenly told us who we could get with (This, or that – This was where it’s at).

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I decided on the #1: Frommage blanc, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, and arugula pesto, all pressed between two slices of marble rye. There was not much room in my belly but still, I didn’t ask for it to go so I could snap a few pictures of it before trying one small bite, then wrapping it up for a snack to enjoy on the way to my daughter’s volleyball game in Westwood, something to keep me satiated in the thick traffic in which I expected to be stuck. As sumptuous as it looked with cheese oozy-goozing over the crusty edges; as incredible as it smelled, I couldn’t manage even one bite. It was as if that Togo’s sandwich had inflated in my stomach, doubling in sizing and seizing every smidge of space there was of it. I covered the box with a few napkins and headed back to the car with my co-workers, defeated.

But, no. I knew I wanted to write about this grilled cheese and to do it justice, I needed to taste it while fresh and unsoggy. And wow, this sandwich more than lived up to my expectations. While the cheese appeared gooey, it was really more of a creamy soft cheese; a succulent and slightly sweet cheese that married phenomenally well with the zesty tomatoes. You hardly noticed the pesto, but it did its part, the sandwich pulling the ol’ Jerry Maguire line on it saying: “You complete me.” Turns out this was the Lay’s potato chip of sandwiches, in that I couldn’t stop at one bite – even when my belly started hurting; even when I thought the button at the top of my pants might burst. Finally, I found the strength, the guts to put the thing down to be enjoyed later in the day.

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Black Sheep GCB’s #1 might be the best thing I’ve sampled so far at the Anaheim Packing House, very much worthy of a return trip. Next time, I will save room to take on the whole thing at once, along with a side and a Packing House cocktail from one of the many bars, savoring it slowly while listening to mellow versions of rock and pop classics played by the hipster guitarist. Yep, I can get with This and That, and then some.

Black Sheep GCB at the Anaheim Packing House
440 S. Anaheim Blvd. in Anaheim