jury duty and grand central market

20150115_124617 copyI got pretty lucky yesterday. Sure, I didn’t get selected to serve Jury Duty after being called in to court, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I got to visit the Grand Central Market during my lunch break!

They gave us a generous 1.5 hour lunch break, plenty of time to explore Grand Central Market, savor a sentimental meal, and enjoy the sun at Grand Park.

I used to visit Grand Central Market as a kid with my grandma. Back when bus transfers were free, we’d stop by on our way to/from Chinatown and buy produce. Dragging a rolly cart along would help us to take advantage of major sales like taking home half my weight in tomatoes. At 8 lbs for $1, I’m not far off from the truth!

It’s sure changed a lot since then. As with the rest of downtown, it’s re-invented itself as a go-to spot for lunch and other foodstuffs. Stands like Olio Wood Fired Pizza, Press Brothers Juicery, or The Oyster Gourmet draw new, younger life in this historic building. The line for Eggslut wrapped around the stand. I was tempted to join in because who doesn’t love egg–centric food? 😉 Still, I felt nostalgic for old comforts instead.

Sarita’s Pupuseria has been around since before the eggsluts and fancy juices got there. I’ve had their pupusas many times before. Of course they’re handmade to order – I can’t think of a time I’ve ever had a pupusa that wasn’t handmade. But I can’t give a recent review of their pupusas because I ordered platanos fritos con frijoles y crema.

20150115_122620 copyThis dish isn’t anything particularly special, nor is it specific to El Salvador. However, I can say that it is traditional (perhaps mostly for breakfast) and when done right, hits the spot like nothing else. At Sarita’s, the platanos were certainly ripe enough and the natural sugars had crystallized into the perfect crispy-yet-chewy, sweet crunch on the edges. Plantain ripe-ness can be a big problem when ordering, which is why I usually like to see them before ordering. A darker color and seemingly limp texture are signs of delicious and sweet platanos that compliment the savory rich beans and sour cream. Underripe plantains will lead to a dry and tough meal, missing the sweet compliment to the beans/cream.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t try anything new. I stopped by the Booch Bar by Better Booch to try the Kombucha. I was looking for a healthful drink that might have a bit of caffeine in it to keep me from falling asleep in the juror’s waiting room. I sampled every flavor they had on tap. That’s right, they have tea on tap.

Daily Revival was my first sample and it was a clean and refreshing flavor. Simple and appropriate for a drink if you weren’t afraid to shell out about $6/16 oz. drink on a daily basis. I’m a huge fan of ginger in general and particularly love ginger teas. The Ginger Boost here, however, was much too sweet for me. Same with the Morning Glory, although a fellow sampler filled a growler with it, claiming it had a taste of coconut (I didn’t taste any coconut).

Snow Day - Better BoochI ended up with Snow Day. Living in Los Angeles, this is a dream the kombucha somehow achieved. Light, not too sweet, the chilled drink managed to warm and refresh me. I’m a sucker for ciders and almost anything remotely related to holiday treats. The ingredients listed only: rooibos tea, honeybush, evaporated cane juice, kombucha and other probiotics—all organic. I could have sworn it had notes of cinnamon and cloves, but maybe Better Booch’s specialty is to make you taste what you desire. It was served in a bottle and the guy serving it warned me it wouldn’t quite be as fizzy as what was on tap. True, but it didn’t take away at all from the delicious and refreshing drink.