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Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Long and Cheesy Afternoon

After spending a long day in sunny L.A. I am thoroughly exhausted! Allow me to recount my journey to all of those interested in finding out how the whole grilled cheese sensation really panned out.

First, as suggested by the event hosts on their website, I decided to brave the Metrorail system and take the bus to grilled cheese heaven. I figured it would be a nice weekend ride and save me the hassle of finding parking, and uh of course, doing my part for Earth. Let me begin by stating the ride took 1.5 hours from Redondo Beach to my final destination. Giving credit to the Metro process, only one stop was canceled due to maintenance, while everything else was in expected order. It was admittedly a bad call on my part to endure three transfers with at least five stops within each line rather than just braving L.A traffic. I've previously taken the Metro's Chinatown line from Pasadena and recall that trip to be much less painful than today's...lesson learned.

So we've arrived in lively Chinatown, and walk just a short couple of blocks to the State Historic Park, which oddly doesn't feel like any of my childhood parks. To my amazement, we are met with the longest line I've ever seen!!! (Now I'm no virgin to lines, a la Disneyland, all woman's public restrooms, and Lord of the Rings I, II, and III premiers, point made.) And in case you think I'm exaggerating, take a look at this photo, and yes, that's a vegan roach coach, worth every penny!

The line moves decently, 40 minutes I think, I really try not to remember. When we're close to the front gates, an event coordinator comes out to announce they have reached the maximum number of judges for the competition. Great! This means my chance to taste the deliciousness of grilled cheese variations is no longer available. Oh well, hopefully they don't run out of freebies. We pay our $5 admission to an out-going, red-headed woman dressed in a lavish orange colored dress, receive our paper bracelet, and we're in!

Once inside the hipster, cheese-loving festival, we stand in line again for our free grilled cheese sandwich made by the Kraft sponsors. Among the hungry patrons, I wait. Excitement peaks when I can finally see the grill and can fulfill my appetite of digging into a gooey cheese sammie. Then I hear the Krafts peeps saying only 1 serving per person per visit. No big deal, can't be greedy, but wait! The sandwiches are cut into fours, and you only get that 1/4 cut! Un-effin-believable! Now, here's the problem with that: you have people waiting in line to get in, waiting to get a sandwich, then you cut them in tiny servings not even filling enough for a 4-year old! Here's a thought, why not give people the whole dang sandwich? The line wasn't caused by the fact Kraft cooks couldn't spit 'em out fast enough, it was because it took so long just to have 2 people serve them out to 100's! And as they politely remind you, "sorry 1 per person," they don't consider that if you feel satisfied with eating a whole sandwich, we wouldn't come back so many times! Or how about reducing the line by allowing one person to collect a bunch for the group. Rationing isn't the problem, it's lack of thoughtfulness. The final verdict of Kraft's version? Good, it was good like "school lunch" good. Next time, get here earlier to try the real stuff.

Last stop, the "adult" section where alcohol is available for sale at a reasonable $5. So as any trained monkey would do, we get in line. Reaching the front of the line we discover that you need to purchase a ticket to actually pay for the alcohol. So back to another booth, no line here, but also no more beer tickets! Instead, they have wine, so desperate to get any kind of libation in us, we take it. Fortunately, back in the beer line, they don't actually differentiate between "wine" or "beer" tickets, so we take off with two refreshing pilsners, ahhh!

With all this disappointment, was there anything enjoyable about this grilled cheese invitational? Well, yes there were; the nice warm day was perfect, the free IZZE cold drinks (even though they were down to 1 flavor), and the easy-going atmosphere and good-spirited crowd of people attending. After staying a solid three hours, we decide it's time to leave, skip on the $15 Cheesy t-shirts, take whatever peek we can at the competition and head back to the Metro. All in all, it was an interesting way to spend a California afternoon, but I think I'll stick to grilling up my own cheese sammies the next time they come to town.

One more photo you might enjoy...yes, he's wearing ketchup packets!

1 comment:

  1. It was pretty fun as a competitor, honestly (and you got to skip the lines because you WERE pre-registered). And, if you worked your way to the barricades near the grillers toward the last 15 mins or so in a heat, most grillers were giving away free samples to the crowd. I ate quite well during the Meat Kama Sutra (we competed in veggie Kama Sutra). I should have worn more sunblock and brought my own beer, but we still had a great time.