First produced by Mexican Franciscan monks of Monterey, California, Monterey Jack cheese is one of the true original American cheeses. Add to that cheese bits of chopped hot peppers (usually jalapeño), and you've got yourself pepper jack. Perfect in jalapeño poppers, bang-up on burgers, crazy-good on crackers, top-notch at topping nachos, and, uh... inquedible in quesadillas, it's the snackers' cheese par excellence. So who makes the ooziest, tangiest, hottest of the bunch?
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The glass bottle-lined shelves of Galco's Soda Pop Stop in Highland Park are well known by Los Angeles' soda connoisseurs. Owner John Nese stocks over 500 well-loved to esoteric flavors from all over the world (most of which are available by mail-order through Galco's website). Last Sunday Galco's hosted its first ever Summer Soda Tasting to benefit the shuttered Southwest Museum.