Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cole's vs. Philippe

I think I was 16 or 17 years old the first time I went to Philippe and fell in love with the French dip sandwich.  I've been there probably close to a dozen times and it ranks as one of my favorite eateries in downtown Los Angeles.

A while ago, I read that there was another restaurant in downtown that makes awesome French dip sandwiches -- Cole's.  In fact, both restaurants claim to be the originators of the sandwich.  Ever the skeptic, I didn't want to even try Cole's - how could it possibly be better than Philippe's?  How could someplace else even claim to invent the same sandwich?

After eating there a few weekends ago, I think my mind has been changed and I am now a supporter of Cole's.  Let's break it down.

Line/Seating -- Philippe's typically has long lines at all hours of the day.  You basically wait in line, order your food at the counter and they make it right there for you.  Then you get a tray full of food and have to navigate past the sea of other people in line (don't believe that photo -- that line typically stretches back another 15 people deep), and you have to find your own seat somewhere.  Contrast that with Cole's - we got there at 12:30 on a Saturday and were seated a table and waited on.  We got to enjoy a nice cold soda and wait for our food to be brought to us.  I think the wait time of standing in line or sitting at the table was shorter at Cole's by a good amount, plus you get to sit, relax and unwind instead of shifting around in a mess of people.  Advantage: Cole's.

Food -- The sandwiches are pretty equal, although it may be a little hard to tell.  The sandwich at Cole's tasted fresher.  At Philippe's, they dip the sandwich for you while at Cole's, you get your own cup of au jus, so you can dunk it to your tastes.  I think the bread was better at Cole's.  The real sides you can get with your sandwich at Philippe's are potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, a bag of chips and/or a can of soda.  At Cole's, you can get those, or mac and cheese, French fries, sweet potato fries or the super awesome spicy garlic fries.  Oh yeah, and free refills.  Advantage: Cole's.

Location -- Well - technically both locations suck.  I think Philippe's actually has a slight advantage in this one because they have their own free parking lot, but they do go around and mark your tires to make sure you're not staying there all day long.  We actually parked at the Los Angeles Public Library and took a 10-minute walk over to Cole's.  FYI - parking at the library is only $1.00 all day on Saturdays with validation (showing your library card). Advantage: Philppe's but not by much.

What say you, other Angelenos?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adventures in BBQ'ing

The Wife and I recently purchased a barbecue from the fine people at Sears. The guy we were talking to tried to get us to take the floor model because it was "really complicated to put together" so I might as well take the one that's already assembled. If it's that complicated, why are you trying to give away the showpiece of your handiwork? It wouldn't have fit in our car and when I got it home, it didn't take that long to assemble anyway.

A couple of weeks later, I decided to try barbecueing some salmon.  The butcher at the grocery store recommended putting it on these cedar planks they also sell. Something about the wood bringing out some smokey flavor or some shit into the fish. It seemed like a good idea (that is, I misread the price tag) so I got those, too. The directions for the plank said to soak it in water for between 1-24 hours. It was already in the afternoon, so I threw that sucker in a pan of water for 2 hours before we started getting hungry. Remember, the thing said a minimum of 1 hour so 2 hours should have been good.

The barbecue of the salmon is going along fine until I start to see a lot of smoke pouring out of the top. I flip open the lid and the fucking plank is on fire. I grabbed it with tongs and pulled it off the heat, saved the salmon and dunked the fiery plank back into the water pan. Minimum of 1 hour my ass!!!

Sidebar: apparently the plank is supposed to catch fire but mine was engulfed.  D'oh!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I recently joined a gym for the second time in my life. I had been opposed to the idea for a long time but am finding this go around much more enjoyable than when I went to the YMCA years ago. I joined the gym where The Wife goes but I nearly gave up on the entire idea when I was asked to sign a waiver just to take a tour of the gym. How litigious have we become? I realize I'm walking into a gym with no intention of working out and I may get hit by a stray basketball (even though the door to the court is closed) or one of the weights may come flying off the machines (even though I'm standing at the front counter).

I was also super annoyed by the person who gave me the tour because she was ultra peppy and was like, "So why you want to start working out?" WHY DO YOU THINK??!?! So I can go cram 3 burrito supremes in my throat from the Taco Bell in the parking lot and not feel guilty about it? WHY DO PEOPLE WORK OUT, YOU IDIOT?!

Anyway. I'm glad I started going back. My legs don't hurt as much from softball anymore and dare I say it, I think my hits are going a little bit further. I'm also glad the gym we go to isn't super crowded so despite my negative thoughts to starting - so far, so good.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I think we can all agree that The Academy Awards more or less sucked this year. Children singing at the end?! Kirk Douglas stumbling through a presentation speech?! I heard two recent ideas that I think can help to fix the Oscars®. So while I can't take credit for either of these ideas, I would like to help spread them around.

First up, the Oscars® should reveal the final tallies of the ballots. Yes, The King's Speech won the Best Picture Oscar®, but what if it only won by a margin of 0.15%? Wouldn't it be interesting to see the final breakdowns like The King's Speech -- 22.3%, Inception 22.15%, Twilight 18%, etc.? Then even if an undeserving movie like The King's Speech wins, you can argue that it only won by a slight margin over a better movie.

Second, the Oscars® should have a 5-year minimum waiting period to be voted on and announced. Much like the athletes who become eligible for their Hall of Fame years after they've retired from their sport, we should have the opportunity to look back at the movies with some perspective. I think in another 2-3 years, we'd all like to take back the Best Picture Oscars® for Crash and Slumdog Millionaire. Consider that Forrest Gump beat out Shawshank Redemption for the Best Picture and think about which movie resonates with you more these days.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pharmacy vs. Doctor - Battle of Lazy

I recently had some fun* phone conversations between the doctor's office and the pharmacy trying to get a refill on my prescriptions. The conversation basically went like this:

Me: "Are all three of my prescriptions ready to pick up?"
Pharmacy: "No, we never got a doctor's authorization on one of them. Can you call the doctor's office and have them send it?"

Call to the doctor's office.

Me: "The pharmacy said they never got that. Can you guys send it over again?"
Doctor's office: "We sent that already on the 4th. You need to call the pharmacy and tell them we sent it."
¡JESUS CRISTO! Can't someone take some f'ing initiative in these situations?!?!!

* - indeed sarcastic.