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.

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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!

Office Bonding Buffet: New Delhi Palace, Pasadena

The picture above is reason enough for you to believe me when I say, I absolutely and totally love my job. For all you Uncouth Gourmands fans out there, I’m Meryl aka the CFO: nice to meet you. I love trying out Indian cuisine in LA; I moved here from India two years ago, and I’m constantly on the prowl for any semblance of the food I dearly miss. So when Carina mentioned Indian food, I was ecstatic!

The UG team (missing two members: Lea and Maria) set out early to the buffet at New Delhi Palace. I liked the vibe here; they had statues and ethnic decorations all over. I picked up the camera and got clicking, while the rest of the team headed over to the buffet, which definitely did not lack variety. I found the salad particularly amusing, it was a combination of potatoes, corn and carrots among other food items, but I don’t think I’ve seen this anywhere back home.

I was delighted to see the ‘basmati’ fried rice, always a favorite, which went hand in hand with the ‘Dal Makhani’ (a creamy lentil delicacy). The ‘Chole’ (chickpeas) was not as spicy as I would have expected, but then most Indian food I’ve eaten here is toned down on the spices front. The Chicken curry was simple and delicious, cooked in typical North Indian style, and along with the ‘Palak’ (spinach) curry, worked well in combination with the ‘naan’ (Indian oven-baked flat-bread).

My top choice of the buffet would definitely be the ‘Baingan Bharta’ (eggplant curry). It had just the right blend of sweet and spicy although I think they took the liberty of changing it up by adding potatoes. Anyway, it tasted just right with the fried rice. The ‘raita’ (a traditional yogurt side dish) was good, but the ‘Tandoori Chicken’ was a bit of a let down though the chutneys were appetizing. They had a mango pudding and rice pudding for desert, which were both great, but I guess I was hoping for the more traditional ‘Gulab Jamun’ or ‘Halwa’.

I think among all of us, Josie had the best time (refer to food plate above). I lost out on the garlic naan, and had to settle for the regular naan as I was too involved with getting the right pictures for my first post on this prestigious blog. But Josie and Carina both argued that it was in good faith: they didn’t want me to be embarrassed just in case I did get kissed anytime soon(!). Below is a shot of the rest of the team; to the left is Ian, our website designer, on the right is Kristiana, our marketing intern, and that’s me in the center. Overall, it was nice team lunch and good bonding time; we all had our fill and blissfully drifted off to sleep in Carina’s car on the way back to the office. In light of our food comas, I doubt we will be returning anytime soon, but I do know the buffet selection is changed daily. A definite must-try!

Brunchin’ with the Girls in Pasadena

It’s a mix of insomnia, hypomania, and a lot of love that gets me up in the morning to build this little thing we often refer to as UG. But on this particular morning, I woke up in a bunk bed in Malibu! The problem, however, was that I was supposed to meet Carina, Roni, and her bud Caroline who was in town from Sweden for brunch at Central Park in Pasadena!

We’ve been there only once before. Funny thing about that place is that when we went last time, Carina’s then-boyfriend said this of the pic of us: “Dude, you guys look so hungover!” Don’t be quick to judge – we were and he was right. Therefore, our memory of this place was a little fuzzy. It wasn’t a first choice place. The non-UGs were coming from the monthly Rose Bowl flea market and we were looking for a brunch spot in Pasadena. Carina wanted to try Maison Akira’s $38 French-Japanese buffet brunch. Caroline wanted something a bit more traditional and I, being jobless, didn’t want to spent that much on eggs. Go figure, right? If I could have yolky eggs on everything, I’d be a satisfied woman. But since there aren’t many brunch places in Pasadena, we opted for Central Park.

We had met Roni a couple times before through Arun, the Mayor of Downtown, and she has always intrigued me. She’s from Tel Aviv, a Harvard grad, runs a math club, is a blogette peer, and fronts a band (which she just fired everyone from). Only two words can describe this girl: F-in awesome. When talking to her, you get this feeling that this girl is running her own one-man pirate ship; she is no marginal character. We learned a lot from her and chitchatted about everything from books, movies, music, dating, and life in general. The place was packed so we talked for a bit, and well, we could’ve talked for hours more. It was nice.

Here at UG, you get a more playful and, often times, less sophisticated worldview of food. Admittedly, our blogosphere buds do this just as passionately, but more beautifully and probably a lot more couthly than we do. I’ll try my best to explain. We sat down and were all super hungry. After indecisively narrowing my entree down to waffles and eggs, an impulsive urge for a turkey club came upon me as I coveted my table neighbor’s food. Carina ordered the eggs sardu, Roni the croissant french toast, and Caroline ordered the shrimp pasta.

The meals got to us and they looked edible enough to tickle our pickle. We dove in. I try to write as honest and true as possible so that anyone sitting at the same table before me, at the same establishment, about to eat the same food can relate on some level – albeit without the company. And perhaps it was our excitement, our hunger, or the lack of Pasadena brunch spots – but these butter loving babes didn’t melt.

In fact, it sucked. I mean it was only a slight notch above typical diner fare for probably double the price.

But fear not. Like any loyal dater, we’ll just have to give it another shot. Plus, this brunch place does impress more with a hungover body…so I am sure this can continue to be a morning after place. However, after a whirlwind weekend in Malibu, it just simply didn’t stack up.

After Months of Waiting, Josie Finally Got a Date

So let me get this straight: LA is a hook-up culture, right?! Well, perhaps I am too uncool, too busy with my favorite girlfriends, or maybe I’m just too busy eating too many good meals – but why is it that I can’t find a date? Men should be lining up. I’m young, I’m smart and I’m uberhip. Why then, am I so plagued in the dating space? It’s been a slow winter…

Alas, this week was different. I had a date (sort of) with a corporate guy that my Twitter peepette, Veronica in LA, set up for me. It was a basketball game and a Nate and Al’s meal all rolled into one. I took the metro into downtown and met up with (ah, the psuedo name…) “The Suit” (he’s a corporate guy and God knows I never date any of those) at his place. He lives in a beautiful loft that overlooks downtown and I was envious. My next residence will most definitely be in downtown LA. I love it. Anyway, his company gave him four tickets and we walked over to LA Live. I’ve been to several games there, but since I’m usually a commoner, I sit in the nosebleed section but this time was different. We sat with the suits up in the corporate seats. They had their own buffet and bar. I was stoked. I could really get used to this. Nate and Al’s was the caterer and since I was stuffed, I opted for a salad. I’m never usually a salad girl, but I just couldn’t do the heavy Jewish pastrami sandwich on this night. Did you know Larry King goes to the Nate and Al’s in Beverly Hills everyday for breakfast? By the way, that is Carina’s weirdest celebrity crush, she likes that he looks like a frog and she wants to do naughty things with his suspenders. Maybe I shouldn’t disclose that but…oh well. If you like the two pics below, the first was taken using the iPhone app, TiltShiftGen, that our dearest AKesq recommended. I suggest you download it; it’s so cool.

Ok, so here comes the awkward turtle of the night, well, because my life is a series of awkward turtles:

(While waiting in line and deciding what to order)

Josie: (To Suit) I’m thinking Jewish Pastrami sandwich or Chicken Caesar. What do you prefer?

The Suit: Um, I know this may be a deal breaker because you’re a food blogger, but I’m a vegetarian.

Josie: (With a nervous giggle) Ha! Funny. So which one will it be?

The Suit: No, I’m serious.

Josie: (With a devastated stare) Oh, you’re not joking… This is not good. How long have you been meat deprived?

The Suit: For a while.

Josie: Shit. So… it’s not something I can change. (With a pensive pause) Ok, this is never going to work.

Had he not seen the site? After all, “thou shall not dabble in vegetarianism” is one of the 10 Uncouth Gourmandments. Just my luck.

How will he fare? Stay tuned.

Which couple do you like better? The one above or below.

Yelp Party at J Lounge: Yelp vs. Citysearch continues…

As you’ve read, our lovely Miss. Minty is far cooler than the UG girls, so when she asked me to be her “plus one” for the Yelp.com party at J Lounge in downtown, I willingly agreed. I met her there a bit shy of 7P and the line was surprisingly not worrisome. It was a cold night and I don’t know why but I decided to wear my most scandalous looking ensemble. Our friend, Arun, always takes one look at me and says “JoMo, where’s the rest of your outfit?!” He’s certainly right most of the time and I really should start gauging the efficacy of my outfits in relation to the weather.

I was far ahead of Minty in line but Minty, despite being a Yelp Elite, exerted much willpower and didn’t cut in line with me. You really got to admire that girl. At exactly 7P, the doors opened and the line moved rather briskly. In no time at all, I was inside and headed upstairs with some of Minty’s peers and grabbed a specialty cocktail. I scoped up the place and saw a rather disproportionate amount of sweet to savory vendors. There were five sweet vendors inside and a few others outside. Not a usual sweet aficionado, I admit that the adorable little suckers below by Dollhouse Bake Shoppe were adorable. They were not for sample, but I don’t even think I could even bring myself to eat such beautiful and petite goodies.

I was told there would be over 1K people there, but I must admit that I was a little shocked at the low turnout. But hey, I thought the night was still young  and we continued outside and waited for more patrons to arrive. To our surprise there was a runway show with women dressed as flight attendants passing out food on a catwalk. I was confused. I later found out that they were from Kitchen 12000. The company is in Glendale and I heard about it over a year ago and have been meaning to try it. It seems like an interesting group of founders and, well, I am glad I got to see the live show in action. The experience was memorable but I think it fell short of the point. As we looked around, people were just confused. Why were girls on catwalks and stages?!! And most importantly, why were they showing you how to put on a life vest and safety belts?! It seemed out of place and a gratuitous display of scantily clad women. It just seemed strange and unfitting for the occasion. And trust me, I come from a design background where form usually overrides function, but I (and everyone else) could not see the sense in it – especially, with this devoted crowd where food always takes precedent over anything. However, I have seen their food pics online and I am eager to try it (minus the flight attendants).

After 26 years, I have recently picked up coffee as a preferred beverage and perhaps the funniest moment came from the stoner-looking guy on the patio who was pushing his coffee and coffee flavored desserts. He was handing out medical bottles with coffee beans in it and a sticker that said “legalize it”. I don’t know if he was an actor but he was acting stoned and said to me, “take this coffee, man, it’s dangerous. It’ll keep you up all night.” I laughed and took a bottle and some deserts. On one hand, Kitchen 12000 failed in connecting it’s experience to its product, Coffee Nugs created a memorable touch-point that was novel and funny. I can appreciate that.

VeronicaInLA and I have become buddies over the past few weeks and she joined us for the ending festivities. We spent a bit more time at the Yelp party and headed to the new Big Wangs in downtown to meet up with a few new friends. I will report back soon.

I have to say, Yelp’s most charming facet is its members, and in LA, its members are fabulous. And hell, any company that can bring all those cool ass people together and throw a party to celebrate, is f-in ok in my book. However, I will say this – I have yet to attend a CitySearch party and from what Carina says, there’s a new player in town and she’s slowly usurping the hearts of many of Yelp’s Elite and early adopters. I’d watch my back, Yelp. Just sayin’…