Tag Archives: dining

Fat Sal’s

Restaurant review. A classy and authentic place.

Over the weekend, I visited a very authentic  place at the corner of Highland and Fountain in Hollywood.  Owned in part by Jerry Ferrara, the New York born actor who played the role of  Turtle in the series Entourage,  the restaurant is a serious attempt to bring a bit of New York to California.  You might call it Italian American fast food, although not that fast.

The place is called Fat Sal’s.  The motto on the wall set in wall tiles is:  “Hey, we’re making sandwiches over here.”  It is nice but spartan with tall tables and stools. The French doors were open which makes the small space seem larger.   First thing I got to say is it smells right, smells like a serious Italian American sandwich joint should near the banks of the Hudson River.  

They make very authentic Hero Sandwiches, both hot and cold, they make Hamburgers, Salads, some raps and huge extra wide hero’s on specially baked  bread.  Mara and I split a foot long Classic Italian on a baguette and their Italian Chef’s Salad with olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing.  Good Stuff!! And it was the real thing.  They also have Cheese Steak, Italian Sausage & Peppers in marinara sauce, meat ball and roast beef in Marinara.  Buono.  

The big name sandwiches are extravaganzas with six to ten ingredients.  And they will add or subtract them as you might prefer.

Here is a link to FAT SAL’shttp://fatsalsdeli.com/

All I can say is, When you’se want to eat real good authentic New York Italian sandwiches or burgers,  dis is the joint for you’se.  Capish?


We were too busy eating that we forgot to take any photos.


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Blue Apron, meal in a box

A friend of my daughter Mara’s is quite a fan of Blue Apron, the meal in a box provider and she gave Mara a coupon for two free meals.  They arrived yesterday and we made the first and will make the second tonight.

At ten to five yesterday a large box arrived at my front door. Impressive very professional carton and it weighed about thirty-five pounds.  Half that weight was the four ice packs that keep the contents chilled.  I schlepped it into the kitchen and unpacked it.  The white special ice packs filled one of two sides of the dual sink.  Then I broke it down.  There were a few promotional fliers and two clear well illustrated instruction sheets.  I broke the ingredients into the two meals: one was Boston style salmon rolls with thick rounds of  Chesapeake style oven roasted potatoes, the other was a savory chicken sauté with garlicky smashed golf ball size new potatoes, nice long green beans and a few extras.  There were two plastic tubs of salmon filets and skinless boneless chicken thighs, a plastic bag of green beans, a clove of garlic,  three large russet potatoes and a packed of new potatoes and the supporting cast of chives, a cup of vinegar, a half cup of mayo, seasoning packets and literally everything you needed except salt, pepper and olive oil (which we had on hand as most people would). 

Mara put on an apron and prepared the meal, the salad was ready except for dressing.  She washed and sliced the russets into silver dollar disks and seasoned them per instructions and put them on a cookie sheet and into the oven.  Then she prepared the salmon as instructed and shortly we had a meal of savory salmon hash served in four hot dog buns.  Very nice and simple.  It would serve four people so the rest of it will go on toasted sour dough with another big salad and stuff to eat while we watch the Warriors and the Cav’s got at it in Cleveland.  We’re Cav’s fans via the St. Mary’s connection with Matt Delavedova the Cav’s Australian Gael alum as back up point guard and the fact that Mara’s boss and some other people at the office are Cleveland natives,  the most dogged and loyal and long suffering breed of sports fans in the USA.

The other meal will be cooked tomorrow and looks to come together as easily and quickly as the first.  So what do I think?   The meals are all there in the box, the instructions are clear and easy to follow and the results are a good healthy meal made from just the right amount of ingredients.  They will feed four people at a cost of $35 bucks.  It feels like they are to cover a weekend because you get two meals in each box and they cost $69.99 for both.  The food is good and obviously way less than what the same would cost at a good restaurant.  The boxes save a lot of time and trouble, if you have a cramped schedule.  Salads and desserts are not included, but not that big a deal to improvise.  So I would give the idea an  OK if you want to try it.  Sure, you could buy the stuff yourself for less at the Supermarket, but most of us would be hard pressed if time was at issue.  It is like those big black plastic boxes at Whole Foods with pot roast, beef stew, etc., etc., etc. which give you all you need to load into your Crockpot in the morning and know you will have a  good meal that night when you get home.  So, when the circumstances are right, I would recommend both items.

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Old California Dining is alive in Baskersfield

2. What is Noriega’s?

It is the oldest Basque Hotel with a bar and restaurant in California. Noriega’s is across the street from the old Southern Pacific depot on the east side of Bakersfield. It has been there since 1893. The current owners bought it in 1932. It also has a fronton for pelota (ball in Spanish) more commonly known as Jai Alai, Basque national game. Noriega’s is a unique restaurant that serves the simple abundant food you could have found in most ranches and in homes in many small towns a generation or two ago with a distinct Basque accent. It is a wonderful experience. This is like a big Sunday dinner at my Grandmother’s or one of my Portuguese great aunts in the 1950’s.

The Basques (Vascos in Spanish and Portuguese) are the best cooks in all of Iberia and southwest France. They have a unique language unrelated to any in Europe and the highest global apportion of the Rh- blood type (35% phenotypically, 60% genetically.) Additionally, the Basque population has virtually no B blood type, nor the related AB type. They have a high rate of O blood group but this is probably due to isolation.

Generally they are thought to be descended from neolithic farming people who lived in southwest Europe in prehistory. They may be a major source of the R1b DNA grouping common among the people of Iberia and other parts of the Mediterranean. (Not surprisingly my maternal DNA falls in this group.) In Caesar’s Gallic Wars, he refers to the Basques as Aquitanii who were the dominant people in Southwest France and over the Pyrenees into modern Spain. There were Basque settlers in California from the beginning of Spanish settlement in the 18th century. After the gold rush more immigrated here and they are  the originators of San Francisco’s unique sour dough “French” bread. Until a generation ago, Basque shepherds raised sheep in California and Nevada but after Spain joined the EU that ended and now our shepherds are highland Indians from Peru and Bolivia. There are Basque communities across Latin America and even a few in the Philippines.

3. The place received a James Beard award as one of the few landmark places in California and was featured in a long article in the New York Times food section.

4. How it works:

There is one sitting for dinner, at 7:00 pm every night but Monday when the place is closed. The dinning room is large with three very long tables and parties are seated facing on opposite side of their table. The menu is fixed for each night, with two main courses changing daily, while the basic beginning is fixed by the seasons.

The cost is listed at $27 per person plus tax and tip. It includes all the food and house red wine. The courses follow one another and the meal takes about two hours or a little longer.

When you are seated on the table waiting are:

A tureen of cabbage and vegetable soup, a large green salad, a platter of cold tongue vinaigrette, a bowl of very spicy basque salsa picante, baskets of french bread, a bowl of herb flavored cottage cheese in the basque manner, a large bowl of pinto bean stew. It is the local custom to add the stewed pinto beans and salsa picante to the soup in your plate, some people even add a splash of red wine. The herb cottage cheese is a counter to the spicy salsa picante. Although many say they don’t know or like tongue, the plate is usually renewed two or three times because most of us have never tasted basque style tongue vinaigrette. Sometimes there is an American potato salad, other times a plate of a veg and garbanzo vinaigrette. After this they serve a steamed cauliflower in a hollandaise, a large platter of pasta or a Basque style rice dish plus a slab of mild blue cheese. On Saturday night, they bring out large bowls of oxtail stew and finally a bit later platters of basque fried chicken with garlic and garlic and parsley french fries. It is addictive and you don’t have to worry about vampires for a week after.

After that ice cream is served and coffee is available at the bar in the next room. The bar serves two drinks as favorites: a Picon Punch and a Moscow Mule served in a copper mug. A full selection of good liquor is available plus a selection of authentic Spanish and Basque liqueurs from both sides of the Pyrenees. The local market prices at the bar haven’t been seen in LA this century .

5. This is a rustic bit of old rural California that is well worth the trip. Bakersfield is only 90 miles from LA City Hall, so it doesn’t mean you have to stay over in Bakersfield.

Here is a link to the Noriega’s web site:  http://www.noriegahotel.com/

You can also check it out on Yelp and some other sites that rate restaurants. Since it is not a major tourist center motels in Bakersfield are quite reasonable as you can check out on any of the reservation web site.

6. Let us know if you would like to join us for this special nostalgic experience. 


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