I turned 40 years old on the 5th, and had a fun, laid-back birthday. I went with my friends Tavi and Jonathan to the Los Angeles Museum of Art, and, for my big 40th birthday dinner, we met our friend Steve at… a diner. Nothing fancy, just a diner.
I’ve known these guys since we were kids, and when they asked me, a couple weeks prior, how I wanted to celebrate, I knew exactly what I wanted: a Monte Cristo sandwich.
The Monte Cristo is my very favorite sandwich. For those of you in the dark, it’s a ham and cheese sandwich (or sometimes turkey) that’s dipped in egg and then griddled like French toast. Then it’s dusted with powdered sugar, and served with jam on the side. It’s amazing.
I hadn’t had a Monte Cristo for around ten years, because they’re not very healthy, and I’ve chosen to spend this past decade making better choices, and reaping the rewards. But my 40th birthday seemed like a great occasion to cut loose with my ultimate cheat meal.
So we went to House of Pies, a well-known diner in Los Angeles, which I knew had a Monte Cristo on the menu. It was a really fun evening with fellas that I’ve been friends with for almost 30 years.
I ordered the Monte Cristo with fries, and also a bowl of clam chowder, because this was a cheat meal!
The clam chowder:
…and the Monte Cristo:
There’s a major problem with the House of Pies Monte Cristo: it’s not griddled. It’s deep-fried.
It didn’t taste bad. (How could it? It’s deep fried!) And while the savory and sweet combo was there, it wasn’t quite right. I ate my meal and had a fun time with the boys but went home unsatisfied.
A week later, I met up with the same guys for dinner again, and this time we did our research to find an authentic Monte Cristo in Los Angeles. It wasn’t easy! We found two places that used to have it on their menu, but have removed it. And I found another restaurant that had one, but had gone out of business.
Then Jonathan found a real Monte Cristo at Canter’s, a classic Jewish deli on Fairfax. I had been to Canter’s a bunch of times before, but it has a huge menu, and since I generally make healthier choices, I’m not surprised that I hadn’t noticed the Monte Cristo listed before. But it’s there – good find Jonathan!
I skipped the soup and ordered cole slaw this time instead of fries. Mostly I just wanted an authentic Monte Cristo!
Canter’s delivered. Meat and cheese in between French toast, yes please! Jonathan ordered one too, just to see what the fuss was about, and said he he liked it but wouldn’t order it again.
The good Monte Cristo (and the other Monte Cristo) hit the spot and satisfied my craving. I’ll go back to ordering healthy choices as restaurants for a good long time. I’m sure I’ll order another Monte Cristo again in the future, at some point. On a special occasion. I don’t know when. I’m good for now.
And just in case you’re curious, my second-favorite sandwich is a gyro, and my third-favorite sandwich is a reuben. That’s as far as my list goes!
I know I’ve been quieter than usual on here, and that’s because I’ve been so swamped getting ready for my upcoming move to Michigan. I wrote most of this post, in fact, while waiting at the Spectrum store to return equipment and close out my account. I have lots to share, and I hope to do it soon. Until then, know that my silence on here doesn’t mean that I’m not taking care of myself. I’m eating well and exercising every day. Even a stressful move can’t stop me!
Keep it up, David!