Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The LA Ice Cream Arms Race Is Getting Ridiculous.

Not so long ago LA had an ice cream problem. As in, it wasn't very good. We had the progenitorial Fosselman's and that was about it. Then slowly the scene evolved. First came Scoops then Sweet Rose and Coolhaus and Carmela and Mother Moo's, followed by inviting imports Salt & Straw and Jeni's. Most recently we were gifted the splendiferous Magpie's

LA no longer has an ice cream problem.

Yet, the proliferation of Southland scoop shops continues at a breakneck pace. Almost every week or so a new shop pops up and in an attempt to woo customers, almost every single one of them serves more than merely scoops. Just serving quality 'scream appears to be so yesterday. In today's Instagram World, you need a gimmick and goddamnit, it better be photogenic as fuck. 

In this Trump world, you go for the gauntlet or you're left in the streets. Remember under Obama when honeycomb on milky soft serve was considered esoteric? 

Think I'm exaggerating? Here are some examples of the new age of LA ice cream:

Nitrolado - liquid nitrogen ice cream in (and/or topped by) a CHURRO BOWL...

Little Damage - ACTIVATED CHARCOAL-laden soft serve and waffle cones...

Gresescent - ice cream via a 10-FLAVOR "BOUQET"...

Afters - donut milky buns with multiple ice cream flavors AND TOPPINGS.

Yoga-urt - vegan, gluten-free, soy-free ICE CREAM TACOS...


You might have noticed the above doesn't even include the just nitro-made-to-order ice cream or the Thai ice cream roll phenomenons that have swept through our fair city like a Sucrose Sharknado.

It's all very interesting when you view the present ice cream current to the recently passed: the Froyo Craze. As a city for a few years we embraced "healthier" ice cream/frozen yogurt like mad (whether it was, in fact, 'healthier,' toppings included, remains suspect at best), as chains and local swirlers engulfed every neighborhood. The new-new is almost the complete opposite. The above examples pretty much completely throw caution to the wind. It's almost like LA has decided, "What the hell. I'm eating ice cream. It's not good for me. Might as well really go for it!" This motto, accompanied with the rise of Instagram food porn ("If there's not a pic, you didn't eat it!"), leads to the new ice cream age of the City of Angels.

Right now it's reaching its apex. Lines for Little Damage in particular can reach close to an hour. Afters has expanded locations exponentially almost over night. There's also almost no Insta accounts I follow that haven't snapped that Gresescent "bouquet." Basically a prerequisite nowadays. 

So, how long will this "Wall Street"-esque age of local ice cream extravagance last? At the end of the day, it will probably eventually come down to the actual ice cream. I know that sounds really obvious and maybe even a tad parental, but I'm serious. Good, creamy, flavorful ice cream will win out. There are only so many teenagers and college students willing to come to your shop to shoot a 'Gram. They will quickly grow tired of the fads - especially if it doesn't taste all that special. Even more so when you're in an area blessed with delicious "regular" ice cream options.

Just ask Pinkberry, which continues to barely hang on by a thread. The exact same Pinkberry I once waited over an hour in line to try. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Current Pizza Crush: Pizzana's Messicana.

What: The "Messicana."
Where: Pizzana (11712 San Vicente Blvd, Brentwood).

Why: I know, I know. I just stated my new favorite LA pizza last week. But amorous Kelly Kapoor-esque pie flirtations can be fleeting. And in today's LA, there's a new good pizza shop popping up here, there and everywhere. I consider it my task to keep you aware of the new-new. 

Pizzana is the new, cool kid on the block and the Messicana is their signature, most distinctive pizza. For a spot that prides itself on SoCal twists of Neopolitian classics, there's not a more ample representation than this multi-colored beauty. Akin to Abbot Kinney bringing Venice's canals to the Southland, Pizzana's pizzaiolo Danielle Uditi's pie unites The Boot and the Stars and Stripes, with a touch of our Southern brethren. (Sorry, that was incredibly hyperbolic and I apologize.) The Messicana, an ode to the Italian Uditi's Mexican better half, features chorizo cups, pickled sweet chile, jalapeƱo, queso fresco and spontaneous squirts of a not overwhelming, yet flavor-packed cilantro-lime sauce. It's a Southern California taco, in a light and chewy, yet sturdy Southern Italian crust. Despite the influences -- unlike many a poor BBQ Chicken pie -- you know you're eating pizza. 

Very, very good pizza.

I also highly recommend Pizzana's Pepperoni. The cute 'ronis also come via cuppage, which seems to be all the rage these days. Except their thicker and meatier compared to their chorizo counterparts. Although the "personal" pizzas are a bit pricey (both the aforementioned are $18), at 11", they're both rather sizable compared to normal LA personals and could probably feed 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 people per. Furthermore, the flour is a proprietal Pizzana blend and the mozz shipped in multiple times a week from Italy. You can taste it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Favorite Pizza in LA Right Now...

What: "The Sicilian" Square Pie. 

Where: Prime Pizza (446 N. Fairfax Avenue, LA).

Why: I know what you're going through. I feel the same: in the time of Trump, every night feels like a Pizza Night. Every goddamn day I get home and immediately want to put on my athleisures, fire up the AppleTV to a "House Hunters" I somehow haven't seen and just EAT. Really, really eat

Prime's Sicilian is perfect for these times. It's HUGE, thick and filling (seriously one slice probably can do the trick). The crushed tomato sauce oozes freshness, while the pesto pops both in appearance and taste. I don't know for a fact, but my guess is they make it fresh daily (after all this is the pizza joint that actually smokes the chicken on their BBQ Chicken 'za). There's also not one, but two cheeses in a stretchy mozz and a ballpark of ricotta. And then there's that crunch. Oh, man, that crunch! Like all good square pies, almost every bite of the Sicilian begins and ends with the crispness that comes via a magical chemistry experiment between the cheese, the dough, the oil and the pan that results in a beautiful, delicious caramelization. 

During a dark period in our country where you almost can't take anything at face value, Prime Pizza's Sicilian is as good as it looks. It is the Anti-Trump.

Available via slice or whole pie.