Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Spicy L.A-over...


Los Angeles. Nothing to report here...all is a little too safe...all is a little too unclean...even on the clearest of clear evenings.

As it almost always is whenever I arrive for a stop over in Los Angeles, the outskirts of the city are a-light with flames. Yes L.A. is burning again. I decide that my one afternoon and night in Los Angeles should be fittingly lit up as well.
I check into my airport hotel, the four points by Sheraton lax, a mid level hotel, not too much but certainly not a rotten suburban druggie slum like last time (holiday inn Inglewood, thanks powers that be for that one!). Upon check in, I cab it to Venice beach, to my favourite dive sports bar right on the boardwalk, Danny’s, always good for a few beers and a quality certified angus beef pastrami sandwich, cant be beat! And it's only a stones throw to the Venice Skate Park!

I meet two friends, both Czech immigrants to the US, both hockey and beer nuts, we whisk the afternoon away, them talking about the triumph of the kings a few months back and how they still play roller hockey against Lucky Luc. I tell them I’m staying at the four points Sheraton lax, they quickly murmur to one another in mother tongue, and come to the conclusion that we should all go there, they have a bar there that serves the best selection of local beers in all of California and a premium Belgian selection too. We jump in a cab and head back through marina del ray across to lax.

The bar, we find, is called Brewster’s, how fitting...like naming a steakhouse, rancher's, or a vegetarian restaurant, gardener's. 

First up, is an extensive beer menu, covering over 100 bottled brews. Including locally crafted beers from all over California. Some from as close as el Segundo, a mere few miles from lax. Also thrown into the mix are some west coast beers from Oregon and Washington State. And, just to show that they can compete with the big boys, there is a liberal helping of craft and traditional beers from all over the planet, including Canada, Mexico, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, and a generous amount of bottled Belgian delights. 

i done got me the THIRST!



Beyond this, there is a tap menu including 10 exquisite tap beers. We all try the pescadero pilsner from the Ballast point brewing co. (4.6%, 16oz (1pint) for 7usd)


Only North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout on nitro stays put on the tap menu

The dinner menu does not really surprise, as it is still a hotel bar, they cannot venture too far away from the standards: steak and chips, hamburgers, simple pastas, quesadillas, etc... What they do though is match beers to the menu's stereotypical fare. An excellent concept to keep everyone drinking and eating, even if the food seems a bit dull and expectant at first glance.

One menu item catches my eye, the 'I dare you' hot wings. A combination of jalapeƱo, Habanero and Serrano chilies, concocted into a smooth sauce with lime juice, spices and a pinch of salt and sugar. To eat one pound of these wings in less than two minutes, you receive fifty percent off your entire tables bill. At first I think that maybe I have drunk far too much quality whiskey and taken too many huffs upon Cuban purritos in the afternoon in Venice to make a valid attempt, but with a little bit of old fashioned Czech banter (ie: calling me a fucking pussy for ten straight minutes) and a great deal of beer courage, I decide to order them.

At first the young Hispanic waitress tries to deter me, saying I should have the regular wings, they are much better for 'you' (wow! racial profiling! like a white man can handle the Mexican heat). I tell her no, that I will be going for the 'I dare you' two-minute challenge. She kinda laughs, 'well, I suggest that you have a blue house citra pale ale to match the hot sauce.' The citra pale ale is from the el Segundo brewery. It’s the best beer to calm down the intense chilified flavour (5.5%, 7usd/pint). The blue house is light and fruity with hints of lemon peel and orange, with a hoppy finish, yet seems to leave the pallet feeling rather fresh. They know what they are talkin' bout...

The wings appear before me, absolutely smothered in the beaming vibrant orange sauce. You can feel the scolville scales breaking as your mouth and eyes begin to water simultaneously. I have a moment of silence before the clock begins. My Czechs full of laughter and shitty attempts at moral support. 


Habanero (rate 200,00 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale) Serrano (rate 8,000 to 23,000 on the Scoville) and Jalapeno (a laughable 2,500 to 8,000) Saucy!!!


The clock starts, I dive in!

The first wing goes down a spicy treat, I grab another one instantly after putting the down the first meatless bone. 'Shit! Its a builder!' I look at my Czechs, as they laugh uncontrollably, telling my, 'ay, c'mon day-veed, hurry facker, hurry the fack man!' Suddenly my lips are on fire, as I mulch into the second wing, my entire pallet going up in flames, but it tastes damned good besides the immense heat. 'Hot as fuck but tasty' I say to the waitress and she stands non-chalantly watching the clock, obviously this is nothing new to her, a drunkard attempting to burn his stomach out for a few bucks off the bill. After the second and third and fourth, I am getting rather teary eyed and I can feel my body beginning to sweat in its regular sweaty places. 'Sweet Christ!' one minute left and I’m half done, I drink a bit of the watery blue cheese dressing and gun in for the remaining four wings. I make it with four seconds left to spare. The Czechs are pleased, I am dying, the beer, doesn’t seem to be helping in any way, my lips burning, my tongue continuing to get hotter and hotter. I’m laughing and crying. A good sign, I think. I feel a ball of fire coagulating in my stomach, engulfing everything it touches. Its odd and a little painful and secretly pleasing.

The waitress, gathers the two bartenders, tells them I did it, then wanders off to the kitchen pass, and starts blathering in Spanish to the chefs, who all come out and are smiling at our table. I feel kinda important for some reason, but mostly I feel like I’m getting in touch with my Jewish heritage, getting half off the entire bill. 

Soon the main bartender and one of the young Hispanic chefs come over to the table and discuss the quality of the sauce with me and congratulate me on my efforts. 

We all have a few more beers, me sticking with the Blue House citra pale ale, hoping it will take the heat away. Then we split the house cubano sandwich (roast turkey, bacon, ham, pastrami, napa cabbage, pickled jalapeƱos, Monterrey cheese, chipotle sauce and lime mayo). In American fashion, the sandwich weighs roughly a kilogram. And the bun aint very big! It comes with a giant pile of spiced potato wedges. Just to be a hero I ask for a side of the ‘I dare you’ sauce to go with the wedges, just to make sure the Czechs still think I’m crazy after all these years.

I finish the night with my favourite Canadian beer from my favourite Canadian brewing company, a trios pistoles (9%, 341ml 9.5USD).  





The next morning the burning pit in my stomach is faint yet noticeable, I check out and head over to lax, off to my next destination, ready for any heat that can be thrown my way (good thing too, 'cause I'm headed here).

And hey! if you are lucky enough, be there on the third wednesday of every month, when they do free tastings! plan your L.A. layovers accordingly!

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