Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
While running an errand for my internship I had seen a flyer for the Culver City monthly block party. It is held every third Wednesday and this day I decided to check it out. After I parked I wandered around the nearby street looking for the party, the only thing that I found was that whoever named the event really did not know what those words meant. Rather than a blocked off area with booths and such, the whole thing amounted to balloons in front of select restaurants, some free samples, and a few specials at certain locations. This wasn’t the worst thing, but it really wasn’t what I was expecting. I decided to stop into a place called Fords’s Filling Station for their special of a beer and a slider. Possible extra s aside, I was very excited for the fresh cooked outdoor meal.The deal came with a beer, a slider, and some music from a folk trio (not pictured). I chose lamb over beef for the slider and draft 24th street pale ale over bottled PBR for the beer (who would ever choose the PBR?). The slider was fresh grilled and topped with blue cheese, lettuce, and sautéed onions. The meat was rather juicy, the bun was very good and I was surprised find that the blue cheese was not overpowering. Some might have noticed from the photo that I have really stepped up from my regular college days to the blue cup. This yuppie serving style was an important departure from the ubiquitous red cups that I’m used to. What filled the blue cup was even better and this nice bitter flavor was a fine compliment to the lamb. With a very delicious slider and a nice beer pairing, the meal was very good. The only thing that kept it from being a great dinner was that the portion was more of a sample than a full food experience.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
With a wide variety of hotdog styles as well as preparations, the menu itself seemed rather daunting. I overcame my indecision by choosing the special written on a chalk board. I was in for the fire dog. Most of the time when restaurants serve things with fire in the name, they are unwilling to actually cook with significant heat for fear of scaring away more sensitive customers. Would be disappointed by another mild meal? I was trying to keep my hopes up.
When I first bit into the hotdog there was very little heat and I was ready to throw in the towel. Immediately after my hope was restored by a nice late heat, which was accompanied by red pepper flavor in addition to the burn. The hotdog was pretty thick and would probably more accurately described as a sausage. I ordered mine with mustard, relish, and onions, but the wide variety of possible toppings would probably allow anyone to customize their dog to their own standards. With a delicious dog and a fun environment, I would highly recommend a trip to the Infield.14333 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Friday, July 16, 2010
Today I made sure to eat a salad for lunch and withdraw money from in an ATM in preparation for an exciting BBQ dinner. The inside of Texas BBQ was well adorned with ox heads and other Americana, but I wasn’t there for the decor. I decided to order “the Duke,” which was listed on the cover of the menu as a combination of ribs and brisket accompanied by my choice of side, which happened to be baked beans. While I waited for my order I was given peanuts in the shell to eat. Though I knew that I was supposed to just leave the shells around and on the floor as those before me had, I generally have trouble just throwing my trash on the floor and therefore kept mine as a pile on the table.
When the plate was served I noticed immediately that there was very little sauce on the meat. I had tasted barbecue without sauce, but was still suspicious. As soon as I took a bit of the brisket though, all of my fears were put to rest. This was some of the most moist and tender brisket I had ever tasted and that was all without being particularly fatty. The ribs were slightly more seasoned but still very tender. The lack of sauce and seasoning actually allowed me to really taste the flavor of the meat, which was very pronounced.There was a small cup of sauce included with the meal on the side for those who were not happy with the general preparation. This sauce was thinner than others I had used before and was much heavier on the vinegar. Although not something that I had experienced before, I think that this style of sauce is very typical of Texas BBQ and southern BBQ in general. Overall I thought that the meal was very good and incredibly moist without fatty. The lack of sauce and spices might seem like a setback, but in this case it really accentuated the taste of the meat.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
For dinner I first endeavored to eat at the Texas BBQ restaurant that I had seen on my way to work. After a route that a kind person might have called innovative and any other would have called stupid, I had arrived. My worst fears were realized when I saw the sign prominently displayed on the counter that read “cash only.” I was completely out of cash and therefore out of luck. As I continued home I passed several strip malls and on a whim pulled into one of them. I was searching for a restaurant that would give me food in exchange for brief possession of a plastic card. I arrived at the Mandarin Kitchen and ordered the orange chicken. I sat waiting for my meal listening to a playlist that was mostly made up of heartfelt Chinese ballads, but that also contained Greenday’s “Wake Me up When September Ends.” Huh? The food was given to me in a brown paper bag inside of a plastic bag, so it was not until I got home that I actually saw what I had ordered.Sometimes Chinese restaurants include a large amount of vegetables in their meat dishes, and while that probably would have made my mother happier, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this serving was all meat. With a large container of chicken I was sure to have plenty in the event it tasted good and plenty in the event it tasted bad. This chicken unfortunately fell on the side of the latter. It was neither low quality meat nor over fried, but I would say that the rice had substantially more flavor than the chicken. In a restaurant authentic enough to have Chinese on the menu I have no clue as to how they got away with serving food so bland. Maybe I just picked the wrong dish or maybe some people around here just can’t handle flavor. The fortune of “you will be coming into a fortune,” rounded out the meal by adding a tasteless prediction to tasteless food.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
If this were a job interview meal it would probably be the time when they looked at me very suspiciously for adding salt to the soup before I tasted it, but this time I made sure to check around to make sure that nobody was watching. I reached for the hot sauce and poured some on, then went for the brown sauce, which had taken on a new and interesting label.
Monday, July 12, 2010
It took me a long time to look through the menu and decide what I wanted, but out of the category of Olive Luxury Chicken I decided to go for the chicken strips. The woman behind the counter was nice enough to tell me that I could upgrade my order from four strips to five for the low, low price of zero dollars. There were so many different combos on the menu that two of them offered such similar things at the same price. Each meal was cooked fresh so I sat down at a table and listened to the Korean pop music while I waited for my food.
When the chicken arrived it was served with French fries, honey mustard, ketchup, and a knife and fork. I put aside the knife and fork and bit straight into the first French fry. It was well crisped but still large enough that one could actually taste the potato. The fries were great when dipped in the honey mustard, which was not as sweet as it is sometimes served. When I first bit into the chicken it was a little too hot for me to actually eat so I was forced to take a slight break and soak up some more Koreapop. When I was finally able to eat the chicken I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the breading was thin enough to not interfere with the taste of the chicken but substantial enough to have kept the meat very moist. The breading was also seasoned with enough red pepper to give it some kick, but not enough to make it painful to eat.
Health means different things in different places, but this experience had certainly taught me that I have no idea what the Koreans think is healthy. Since I have been concentrating on names recently, the second thing that I am still unclear about is what the Koreans think is barbecue. Categorical concerns aside, I really enjoyed the meal and think it is well summarized with a quote from the restaurant wall:
10970 Le Conte Ave.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
As I have come to expect of cinnamon buns in general, the pastry was huge and covered with frosting. I took my first bite and realized that I made a mistake in ordering the bun so late in the day and that by ordering it to go I probably prevented them from heating it up. Oh well. It wasn't as moist as it would have been fresh, but for being room temperature the pastry wasn't bad. It was a tasty dough, although without a strong cinnamon flavor. The most interesting part was actually the frosting that topped the monumental mound of bun. While most frosting is made of almost pure sugar and is very sweet, this was much more similar to a butter cream. I normally don‘t like that type of frosting, but the less sweet frosting kept the sugariness of the bun from becoming overwhelming.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
On a morning mission to Pep Boys I was excited to see a common LA sight, a taco truck, parked on the street next to the parking lot. In New York City there has been expansion into trucks featuring food ranging from brownies to brown rice. Sadly, in Chicago there are no food trucks. I have read that this is due to a city regulation requiring all food to be packaged and secured before it is loaded onto a truck. Although this particular truck offered several types of Mexican food, this was a taco truck so I was getting tacos.
I chose to get the tacos with everything on them, which included onions, cilantro, and guacamole on top of the meat and corn tortillas. One thing by which I am continuously confounded with taco truck cuisine is the two tortillas per taco. Am I supposed to just eat the two at once? Am I supposed to just eat one and leave one? Or am I supposed to divide the meat and other toppings amongst the two tortillas and eat two smaller tacos? I’m an experimentalist so I’ll try all three.
The first taco was served with carnitas, a type of pork, and I ate it with a single tortilla. The meat was truly flavorful and in addition to the nice soft texture it had quite a bit of spice. The single tortilla really allowed the pork to shine by decreasing the taste of the corn from the tortilla. The second taco was pollo, chicken, and was eaten with two tortillas. The chicken was fairly bland, as chicken are wont to be, which meant the second tortilla, as well as the extra lime juice was really needed to get some flavor. The last taco was filled with asada, grilled beef. The meat was not a great texture, but had a nice charcoal taste that spread across the two tortillas. I do realize that I had terrible control and used a different meat for each style of tortilla eating. While I may not have gotten any usable results from the tortilla experiment, I certainly enjoyed running it.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
For lunch today I went to one of the catering stands on the Sony lot that emerge around lunch time and disappear shortly after. The main reason that I wanted to stop was that they offer employee pricing at five dollars, which, more important that saving me money, just makes me feel cool. There was a choice of Italian sausage (pork or turkey) or a veggie burger. Since I didn’t want to look ridiculous in front of the other intern by picking the veggie patty and since I am a big fan of streaks (devotees will know that I had the turkey burger yesterday), I chose the turkey sausage.
The sausage and peppers were accompanied by a pasta salad, a cookie, and my favorite part of the offering: the “eco friendly cup of water.” The sausage was fairly standard, but suffered from a bit too much bun for the amount of sausage. The pasta had a pesto that returned me to thoughts of my youth and added a nice touch of strong parmesan flavor to round it out. The cookie was standard and the whole thing was slightly better than one should have expected from a pop up catered lunch.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
After the finish of the world cup game I decided to venture forth from my apartment and into my local Fatburger. The first thing I noticed when walking in to the restaurant, besides the awkwardly placed Juke box, was the high price of everything on the menu. The combos were all around eight dollars, which reaches around nine with tax. This may seem expensive for fast food, but everything around Los Angeles costs about two dollars more.
I am a big fan of dining in at fast food places because it allows me to keep refilling my soda with that oh so delicious diet coke. Brands may have been originally created to guarantee uniform quality and flavor so one would think that a product from such a developed brand as Coke would taste the same no matter where it came from. In practice, an experienced connoisseur knows that the flavor of diet coke at different fountains varies greatly due to the syrup content. Just as a waiter pours a small amount of wine into a glass to make sure the cork has not spoiled, one should take a sample from the fountain just to make sure that it isn’t overly diluted. The fatcoke, as I want to call it, was particularly concentrated. It was something I noticed as I waited what seemed like an eternity for my combo to arrive. I noticed that service is a bit slower in Los Angeles, even though consumers often seem upset with the extended wait.
My wait was brought to an end as my combo finally arrived. The fries were well crisped and well salted, but my appetite piqued as my eyes turned to the burger. My first bite brought me many pleasant surprises. The patty itself was very flavorful and seasoned with pepper, the extra pickles I requested were tasty, the whole wheat bun added a nice base, and most importantly, all the ingredients of the burger were warm. While Heston Blumenthal worked hard to develop his hot and cold tea, the mixing of temperatures in a burger just dulls the taste of the veggies. Fatburgers well heated ingredients brought out the full flavors and combined to make a very tasty burger. The restaurant heralding itself as “The last great hamburger stand” may not deserve quite that distinction, but it was well worth the inflated price tag and extended wait.