Thirsty Thursday: FOUR at Checkers & Chef Todd FTW!

We have written about Checkers and their Thursday happy hour called FOUR for a long time, but it is truly our favorite weekly deal. The man on the left, Tyler, takes care of the drinks and the man on the right, Chef Todd, handles the food. They have fine-dining expertise and skill that is made affordable so you can easily indulge to your belly’s content. They offer four plates and four drinks for four hours (from 4p-8p) on Thursday for $4 each. It is the deal of the century. Last week after John Kelly Chocolates and before the Sexy Singles Soiree 2.0 we sampled all four of the dishes.

Last week the theme for FOUR was “Best of FOUR” paying homage to people’s favorite bites and drinks. The food served was calamari salad, braised beef shortribs with risotto, halibut fish tacos, and a roasted red pepper and tomato soup. The drinks ranged from, my favorite, the Secret Garden to an Old Cuban. I know what you are thinking, why am I telling you about all of the delicious things you missed? There are a couple of reasons: 1. I am mean. 2. It featured edamame beans in the new ways that Chef Todd was interviewed about. 3. To make you go today and discover more FOUR deliciousness.

Here is what is on today’s FOUR Menu (all items are $4 from 4p-8pm):

2007 SANTA BARBARA SAUVIGNON BLANC – A gold medal recipient at the West Coast Wine Fair, this is a lively and bright example of the varietal, with lush flavors and a clean finish!
2008 SANTA BARBARA CHARDONNAY – Creamy on the palate with pear and citrus notes, this chardonnay is well-balanced and expressive.
2007 SANTA BARBARA PINOT NOIR – a great little pinot with hints of earth and cigar, foiled by ripe blackberry and lively acidity.  91+ PTS, WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE
2007 SANTA BARBARA COUNTY CABERNET SAUVIGNON – Deep and rich, with a velvety texture.  An ideal pairing with the Sonoma duck!

CALEDONIA PRAWN SCAMPI – beautiful large prawns with stewed tomatoes, tarragon, and house-made herb fettuccini!
CANNELLINI BEAN STEW – with charred Spanish chorizo and fresh lemon and basil…
MAITAKE MUSHROOM TOAST – served on grilled sourdough with a mushroom butter.
PAN-SEARED SONOMA DUCK BREAST – paired with caramelized cauliflower, spring onion and Medjool dates; spectacular!>

As someone that is from the Central Coast, I love that they are partnering with Summerland Winery this Thursday for FOUR. I don’t know if it is from my childhood dream of owning my own boutique hotel or my love of good quality cocktails and well prepared food but I just love Checkers. If you are unable to enjoy it tonight…shoot for next Thursday. Also, I just heard that Checkers will be giving away Mother’s Day gifts for all of the moms out there. Here are all the details:

MOM EATS FREE BRUNCH

The a-la-carte brunch will be served on Sunday, May 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Checkers Downtown’s newly renovated dining room replete with style and artwork evoking the hotel’s 1920’s origins. Checkers’ Executive Chef Todd Allison has culled a menu certain to sate the desires of the most finicky of mothers. For the traditionalists there are Checkers’ Buttermilk Pancakes filled with strawberries, blueberries or bananas and walnuts, or for the more adventurous there is the Open-Faced Fried Egg Sandwich on grilled sourdough with prosciutto, stewed tomatoes and arugula. But, if she is the elegant-at-all-times type, she’ll certainly enjoy the Maine Lobster Risotto, the Seared Maine Diver Scallops with Moro blood orange, fork mashed fingerling potato and pomegranate glaze or the Grilled Colorado Lamb Loin with Rancho Gordo heirloom bean ragout and natural jus. Whatever her tastes are, mom will dine in style – and the host will save enough to buy her some flowers too.

The “Mom Eats Free” offer is valid up to $30 in value and does not include alcohol, tax or gratuity. Certain conditions and restrictions apply. Prices range from $9 to $30 and the full Mother’s Day brunch menu can be viewed at http://www.hiltoncheckers.com/files/mothers_day_menu.pdf. Reservations can be made by calling 213-624-0000 or online at http://www.opentable.com/checkers-downtown?rid=276.

Times are tough and Checkers is making things easier for you. Whether it is by offering you four plates and four drinks for $4 on Thursdays or  by giving your mom a Mother’s Day meal, they have won our UG hearts! I don’t want to get in trouble with the other UG….but one of the UGs is working on winning Chef Todd’s heart! Hint: It isn’t me.

P.S. If you wanna know how Checkers makes the UGs feel, then order the plate of gooey chcolate chip cookies…yup, it’s kind of like that!

ProjectConnect: UG Girls are Giving Away 4 Tickets

Alright, this photo isn’t exactly the best representation of ProjectConnect, but hey it works. Plus we have a really fantastic event and opportunity to tell you about so we might as well use flirtation tactics. What is a flirtation tactic using social media to really connect? Funny you should ask, we have an event that you must attend to learn all about this and more. We have partnered with Social Bling on this experminental event that will take place tomorrow. Here is the official FB event page with all the naughty little details that I will also include here in case you aren’t ready to click yet.

Date:
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Time:
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Location:
Coloft
Street:
920 Santa Monica Blvd (free street parking)
City/Town:
Santa Monica, CA

7:00 – 7:30 – Check-in, general networking
7:30 –7:50 – Social Experiment kickoff and presentation from Sponsors.
8:00 – 8:45 – Social Challenge
9:00 – 10:00 – Results and Honorably Mentions.

SocialBling present ProjectConnect, An interactive social experiment using social media to inspire real life activities and connections.

Tools (suggested, not required): Web-enabled phones connected to your social networks, persuasion/flirtation skills and a readiness to meet new people and have great time.

Why? – Because having fun while expanding your cerebral and emotional intelligence sounds like a good way to spend a Tuesday night.

Cost: $25
For tickets – http://www.formstack.com/forms/socialbling-projectconnect
(preregistration required, no tickets sold at door)

We will, of course, be at the event and we have a special surprise planned in the Social Challenge section if you, attendees, can break our code. You won’t know about this surprise unless you come and if you want to come then you must buy a ticket. Although there is another way…you can win a ticket for you and your friend to the event. We are giving away two pairs of tickets by 5pm today, April 16th. All you have to do is:

Send us your most Uncouth Gourmand moment in a Tweet (@uncouthgourmand) or as a comment on here in 140 characters or less by 4:59pm today.

Josie’s example: @uncouthgourmand my most UG moment was when I put my hands in Carina’s drawn lobster butter with lemon slices thinking it was a water dish  (True Story: happened at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in London)

Carina’s example: @uncouthgourmand while discussing how much I like penetrating the straw in the boba cup, I dropped the entire drink with  boba down my shirt

Good luck and we hope to see you tomorrow! Even if you don’t win you can still be a winner (as opposed to a loser) by buying your ticket here by 3pm tomorrow.

My Time at the 1st 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational

Last year, I attended the 1st 7th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational and I had an absolute blast. There was no doubt that I would attend this year’s festivities. The last time around was also the first time our friend Arun and I really got to hang out and know each other. Arun is the so-called Mayor of Downtown and is a vegetarian that gets such joy from bread, butter, and cheese. He had secured himself as my date months ago and despite a new woman in his life, I was still kept as his official date. I arrived 15 minutes before the event started and the line was already quite long. We walked into the Los Angeles Studios and it was immediately reminiscent of the actual 1st annual LA Street Food Fest at the same location.

Once again, these nondescript streets were filled with people, food trucks, vendors, and a ton of high energy. The sea of people wasn’t quite as large and the judging area with all of the really interesting sandwiches was off to the side. I had entered as a judge several weeks ago and I was glad that my group and I were all approved as judges. The most exciting part of the GCI is the competition. You get to see some truly unusual concoctions. The first round is called the missionary and is supposed to be just standard bread and cheese. This may sound like boresville but the possibilities are endless.

There was some slight variation in this round, even though I am not quite positive that it was actually allowed. My favorite of this round was one on Russian Rye with tomatoes, relish, and onions added in the sandwich. I don’t know what it was about this dish but it just totally worked for me. It was like a meatless strange version of a reuben that made this a grilled cheese favorite for me.

After the first round we took a break and went to the common area for non-judges. There was all you can eat free Tillamook grilled cheeses, potato chips, tomato soup, and Izze sparkling juices. There was also numerous trucks including 2 Grilled Cheese Trucks, World Fare, Cool Haus, Border Grill and specialty sandwiches from some of LA’s finest chefs. I wasn’t quite ready to stand in line so I went up above to buy a beer.

If I had to make one complaint it would be that there were no drinks being sold or given out in the judging area. I got so desperate for a Diet Coke (remember I am a Diet Coke head) that I walked to the front of the Grilled Cheese truck and grabbed one and laid cash on the table. There was a ton of people in cheese costumes and other silly outfits and the atmosphere was fun the entire time. There was cheese calling contests, grilled cheese poetry, cheesy costume contests and speeches from the official Mayor of Cheese. When we returned back to the judging area it was the Kama Sutra round, which means the sandwiches got a little crazier.

The judging this year was much smoother than last year. The lines were shorter but you still got the distinct idea that you had to beg for your piece of the grilled cheese. One sandwich that I was camped out to get was being made at the end of the table with such care. It was the Duck, Duck, Goosed grilled cheese. It had duck confit, foie gras, a fruit jam for sweetness, and a cave-aged gruyere. It sounded incredible and it tasted even better! In line, I heard a girl that sounded disgusted ask, “Eww, duck feet?!?!” Apparently she only heard half of the “confit’ word. The guys that made the sandwich weren’t exactly amateurs, they were from The Oaks Gourmet Market in Hollywood. It was the last sandwich I tried and it was definitely the best! I was in love at first bite…

Josie didn’t attend last year or this year due to her Saturday catering job but she was at the first couple GCI events that took place in a loft in Downtown. Despite only seeing the last two years the upgrade in this event is remarkable. More people, more sponsors, more vendors, and way more enthusiasm. The tagline of the GCI is “Bread-Butter-Cheese-Victory” and I can, without hesitation, say that they nailed them all. The event was a complete success. I, on the other hand, disappointed myself by only making it 3.5 hours, but it IS a 6 hour food event. You were a true UG hero if you made it through all of the rounds. Anyway, that was my experience and my favorites, what do you got? I want all the cheesy details.

UG Crew in Full Force at Sexy Singles’ Soiree 2.0

The UG Girls can be described as many things but one of our favorite classifications is single. There ain’t no man holding us down, well, if they are it isn’t in a bad way. Unfortunately, it has been a while since that has happened, or as Josie has said, “I am a born again virgin.” Anyway, we knew we had to attend the Sexy Singles Soiree hosted by our two favorite bloggers and Tweetettes: The Minty and Vixen.

Since Josie and I are not the only Single Ladies in the office (you just did the Beyonce finger move, didn’t you?) we brought in our PR and Accounting interns, Lea and Maria. We were also reunited with our first intern ever, Young Jin, who gave us all the Eating Dog post. The two hosts had specialty cocktails and, as a Jameson girl, I loved the Minty’s drink. Although the interns told me the Vixen’s gin based drink was good and strong as hell. Did I meet the man of dreams? No, not quite but one thing that made a lovely cameo was the first USDA certified organic Tequila called Casa Noble. Relax folks, we did our part for Earth Day! The interns loved this tequila and I can guarantee we will all be looking for it this Cinco de Mayo.

Did I care that I didn’t meet the man of my dreams? Nope, not one bit. We had great drinks, we were at our favorite downtown spot Drago Centro with their Happy Hour which goes all day and every day, and of course we were in fantastic company. Our friends in the blogosphere/Twitterazi made appearances including Hanhonymous, VeronicainLA, and Finer Things.

The night was fantastic and the event thankfully wasn’t a sausage fest, so I had fun with the girls. Speaking of which, what is the female equivalent of a sausage fest? If you can answer that question, you’d be a total Uncouth Gourmand. My favorite part of the event was a game that they had where everyone drew a playing card and then you had to make the best poker hand. This required the group to socialize and talk to one another. I, Carina, am one hell of a competitive girl and I had the King of Spades. I was being rude and rejecting in honor of the game (probably not that far off real life) and told people that I wouldn’t talk to them unless they were atleast a face card. May not have been the best tactic but I was the only girl amongst the four winners, I got a King and Ace Full House. I liked to call us the only winners, but truly we were all winners for getting ourselves out there and opening ourselves up…I am talking about our hearts…get your mind out of the gutter!

Brewery Art WALK, Vizzi TRUCK, & WorldFare BUStaurant

Saturday was the day that I should have been at school taking graduation pictures and picking up my cap and gown for my grad school graduation. However, that was not what I was doing. Instead I was looking forward to another school on Saturday. I was going to be attending an Italian Wine Class at Cube Marketplace. Minty and I knew we’d be attending this and set off to the Brewery Art Walk before the class. It was perfect weekend weather and it was magical to wander into and out of lofts to look at people’s collections in this art colony area.

Everything was lovely and then I stumbled into a place that I have been wanting to visit for years. I found the second Hipcooks location in the Brewery Arts District. I fell in love with their large communal tables, wood stump cutting boards, and cute aprons. I have a list of their upcoming classes and will definitely return for a class. By the way, I am so in love with their colander light fixtures.

After walking in to this cute kitchen my hunger started to grow and I was in the market for some food. Thankfully, just outside the art walk was the Vizzi truck. Minty told me that she read on Twitter that the World Fare was gonna come, however, they were nowhere in sight. Vizzi was not a second choice by any means and we ordered food. They only launched a few weeks ago and we were blown away by the fancy TV screens on the truck. I ordered the Balsamic BBQ Braised Wagyu Sliders and Minty had the Black Skillet Jidori Chicken Sliders. Both sandwiches were served atop Pimento-Spiced and Yakima salted Popcorn. Popcorn is one of my favorite food and I loved this fun side dish. I think I love that popcorn is such an uncouth thing to eat, it always feels as though it is being shoveled into your mouth and I feel like I can it unbelievable quantities. Minty and I subscribe to the school of “Sharing is Caring” so I gave her one of my beef sliders in exchange for one of her chicken ones. I liked hers better and she could sense it, so she asked me if I wanted to switch one more chicken for beef. I apologetically nodded and was happy as can be. These were good sliders  and the popcorn was a wonderful surprise. If I had one complaint it would be the buns. I am a bit of a bread snob and this tasted similar to King’s Hawaiian rolls, so I am guessing that is what they use. Not bad, but not up to par with the rest of the slider.

It seemed almost immediately after we ordered, the famed World Fare Bus arrived. They were welcomed by a line and a camera crew for promotional purposes. It took a while for them to park and set up and so we waited, plus we had to digest.  This BusTaurant is famous for Bunny Chows, “Originally a South African street worker food; a hollowed out loaf of bread with filled with chicken curry, Chef Andi has taken the concept to a new level as a portable easy-to-eat medium for serving different flavors from around the world.” It is a very cool concept and we liked the second story, even if the steps were rather scary. We were already a bit full and ordered the Bunny Chow combo to share with Chicken Curry and Short Ribs and added in the Truffle Mac n Cheese Balls. We were first given the wrong order (photographed below) but we can’t complain because it was delivered to us after we were told to take a seat upstairs. The upstairs was beautiful but unfortunately there were no seats, so we stood.

We had the order corrected and we both dug in to sample. I liked this brioche bun much better and the chicken curry was good with my favorite golden raisins, athough, the short rib was pretty watery and it soaked right through the bread. Our meal came with a perfect cookie. However, for me, the item that was the clear winner was the truffle mac n cheese balls. They were perfection and reached a level that the ones at Fred 62 just can’t match. After these two lunches at mobile eateries, I was stuffed and prepared for wine class. They are both trucks I would try again, but that mac n cheese ball is something I would drive miles and wait in line for. Anyway walk, truck, and bus on and I will tell you about the wine class in the very near future.

Malibu—> Opera—> Yelp Party

And Malibu traps me yet again! As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with a shriek by a girl whom I had never met before. Apparently, it was the K from FinerthingsLA and she yelled, “You’re going to think I am such a nerd, but you’re Josie from Uncouth Gourmands! I recognize your hair!” In total disbelief that my hair was more popular than I was, I replied with a ‘yes’ and we poured ourselves a drink. We talked about blogs, boys, and friends. K is co-author to Finer Things LA, which she and her bestie have been operating for about three months now. Their motto is: A Classy Guide on Getting Drunk and Fat in Los Angeles. I dig this girl’s uncouth ways, and surely, we’re bound to collaborate soon.

The night wore on and we got, what else? Hungry. Next to the Minty, our newest and freshest UG face has been Ms. Veronica in LA. The girl knows far more about what’s hip in LA than I do, and she’s been my tour guide for the past few weeks. As you can see, I showed her my appreciation up above. Anyone that knows me, can vouche that I’m a total carnivore. In fact, I kind of hate vegetarians. I’ve been debating doing a 30-day expose into the life of a vegetarian and documenting it on the blog. However, I’m not sure if I have the discipline for that. Below you can see my last meal – A medium rare piece of pork loin of tenderness – Oops! I mean tenderloin. I think the vegetarian expose will have to wait… I’m not promising anything, either.

See above: It is perhaps the most uncouth moment of the night. Liking her fingers wet after a rare piece of meat, Miss. Veronica is now an official UG.

Speaking of UG staples, Miss Minty, invited me to the opera on Sunday and being the dilettante that I am, I jumped all over the invite on Facebook. I rushed from Malibu to downtown and headed over to see the matinee showing. It was a weird show, but we liked it anyway. From there, we headed to Eagle Rock.

Minty has over 2,000 quality reviews on Yelp, so she had a special invite to the Yelp Elite party in Eagle Rock (and a plus one). Since the show ran late, we missed the first party and met up with everyone at the Black Boar in Eagle Rock. Before we could hit up drinks, we had to tend to more important orders and since food always goes before liquor for this UG, we headed the Vietnamese place on Colorado, Lemongrass. Minty was on camera duty there, so I’ll write about that one soon.

We met up with the rest of the Yelp bunch and partied like rock stars for the rest of the night. We met up with Javier from WeirdTV and I talked him up about beer, OK Cupid, and his new favorite restaurant, Mac and Cheeza in downtown on 8th. M & C comes from the guys that brought you Larkin’s. Apparently, they mix in whatever ingredients to want into your mac and cheese. Anywhere from tomatoes to wild mushrooms. I must check this place out soon. Anyone want to join me?

I got to finally meet Carina’s gay boyfriend, Paul, and I think she may have some competition. Move over, Carina! Josie’s the new gay girlfriend in town. We stayed for a long time, actually and I got to know some of the fabulous people that make up the Yelp Elite mix. I joked at the party that I married into Yelp and when asked who my husband was — I pointed to Minty. See you at the next Yelp party… Or maybe CitySearch…

Figaro Cafe: HH with Crab Cakes, Mussels, and Escargot

Figaro Cafe was the home of the only hot bartender on the Hot Bartenders Crawl in Los Feliz a couple of months ago.  Therefore when the Happy Hour experts, The Minty and The Vixen, asked me to join them for the Happiest of Hours, I quickly agreed. I had just returned from my trip up in NorCal and Josie had class that night so I made the trek to my old hood. I lived in Los Feliz in the giant orange building behind the post office for two years of my life and I exhausted every shop and restaurant on the two main blocks. I used to go into Figaro Cafe for a croissant and to get a spotting of Danny Bonaduce after his radio show. Side Note: My mom used to tell me she sent fan letters to Danny Bonaduce in her teenage years. After I watched the Partridge Family in re-runs I asked her, “How could you have a crush on Danny?” She explained to me that she didn’t, she loved David Cassidy like all the other teeny boppers, but she was worried that Danny would get no mail and be sad that David Cassidy got bags full. That is my mother, she is the most considerate person. I told her I would tell that story at her funeral but I might as well tell it here, while she still very much alive.

Anyway, I arrived this evening at 5:45 and walked in with the Minty. The Vixen was already there and had just downed the smallest martini in the smallest martini glass I have ever seen. She laughed when she saw us staring and said, “Well, in all fairness, it does say mini martini on the Happy Hour menu.” It was priced at $5 but it was probably half the price and size of the normal sized martini. I am not sure if that is a deal so I got champagne for $5. Minty did the food ordering and got us escargot, mussels, crab cakes, and I piped in for the carpaccio that I have had there numerous times. All of this food ordered off the Happy Hour Menu and ranged in price from $4.50-$6. There HH is everyday from 5pm-7pm. The escargot was OMG garlicky, but apparently I was the only one complaining. It costs under 5 bucks for 1/2 dozen of these snails and it is well worth it. These slippery little suckers (oh yeah, Pretty Woman reference) stick around way after they have been consumed, not just the garlic aftertaste but you can dip your bread into their butter and you get a brand new delicious dish. The carpaccio was just as good as I remembered and the mussels were also doused in garlic. The food was good quality and well worth the discounted prices.

I don’t want to generalize but what is it with bad service at French restaurants and bad service in the actor infested Los Feliz? There were several awkward turtle moments with various waiters and waitresses. We had to say “We would like bread, too” when we noticed all of of the surrounding tables were topped with baskets of bread. I had the extra table torn away even while my arm was resting on it. We also had to play musical drinks each time the drinks arrived because they were served to the wrong people. Minty ordered the exact same drink for the night, a $4 well drink with bourbon and soda, and it seems that each time was various degrees of alcohol content and different levels of glass fullness. We laughed it off and said, “We get it, you are an ac-tor” in our heads. Whatever it was a fun night with the two girls that are bringing LA the Sexy Single Soiree 2.0 next week. It was also deliciously inexpensive snails, I was happy. Although, I would have been happier if the hot bartender, Ventura, was working.