Category Archives: food

Burger Wars 2009

– From the

While most Angelenos will urge their visitors to try a meal at In N’ Out (the best to capture that classic sunshiney L.A. drive-through burger experience), they often forget about the other local fast-food burger phenomenon: Fatburger. Both establishments boast excellent burgers and a fool-proof menu, but there are some major (and delicious) differences that make it almost impossible to decide which is better (kind of like the Pink’s versus Skooby’s debate — but that, dear reader, must wait for another time).

Fatburger just as much the juicy slice of L.A. history that In N’ Out is: the first of the spreading chain was opened in 1952 by Lovey Yancey and Charles Simpson at 31st Street and Western Avenue (In N’ Out got its start in Baldwin Park in 1948); the decor and free-wheeling spirit were inspired by Yancey’s home-cooking style and love of r&b, soul, and rock n’ roll music. They’ve franchised out much further than In N’ Out, and you can now enjoy Fatburgers in New Jersey, Florida, and Texas – but I’ll bet that nothing comes close to a Kingburger with Skinny fries, topped with an egg and chili, enjoyed at your closest SoCal location. You can’t franchise freshness, my friends.

Everyone knows about In N’ Out’s “secret” menu (you probably had a friend in college who ordered 6×6’s and 8×8’s, I did, and his name was Josh Brooks and he had been an undergrad at UCLA for nine years, but that is also another story), but Fatburger really brings is with the add-ons: chili, fried eggs, bacon (cheaters), pickles, and a lavish helping of pickle relish, which bring a tangy crispness to each bite of burger.

But how strange is it that one particular geographical area led to such different interpretations of the burger? In N’ Out chooses to garnish its burgers with grilled onion, cheese, and that inimitable special sauce — pink, speckled with their own relish, and absolutely luscious once it mixes with the juices of an well-grilled all-beef patty. We are surrounded by an embarassment of hamburger riches, people. Don’t even breathe the word Tommy’s. Just don’t. Not now.

Both chains aspire to an ideal of “freshness” and hand-grilled goodness that are meant to contrast against the frozen, warmed-over artificial yuckiness of your corner McDonald’s. This doesn’t mean the food’s that much healthier than ol Mickey D’s, but it does taste a heck of a lot better.

Wanna take a look at Fatburger’s nutrional stats? Oh, come on, it’ll be fun! The Kingburger definitely should be avoided if you’re worried about calories: one of the fun things about Fatburger is that you can pile on a ton of extras, so you don’t need a giant 800-calorie burger on top of that. The In N’ Out Double-Double, on the other hand, packs in only 690 calories, but 90% of your daily fat intake. (Blame cheese: the food that giveth the taste but taketh away the slim waist.)

The Baby Fat is a great option for those of us less interested in pigging out — all the phat flavor in a 300-calorie package (so you can go a little crazy with the egg & bacon toppings if you want). An In N’ Out hamburger (no cheese), with mustard & ketchup substituted for the pink spread, comes in at a tidy 310 calories – score on both counts, honestly. Although – that pink mayo-relish secret sauce is pretty phenomenal.

Like I said, Fatburger’s fries win for crispiness and seasoning, but In N’ Out does have that great super-secret menu option: fries doused in grilled onions, special sauce, and cheese. Ask for it next time, I think it’s just called “fries animal style”.These are the things that unite us as Americans: melty cheese and special sauce over grilled onions and fries.

The burgers themselves are about equal quality: although I have to say, I prefer Fatburger fries, and you can get them skinny or fat. I’ve never really understood In N’ Out’s fries. They’re almost never crispy (except for those little ones), and they get cold and soggy almost immediately out of the fryer. Fatburger fries stay crispy and warm – unless you choose to dump chili all over them, which is a totally understandable impulse. One advantage In N’ Out does hold is that it’s a lot cheaper: two burgers, two drinks, and one order of fries came to $15.00 at Fatburger, while the same could be gotten for under $10 at In N’ Out.

What’s that you’re saying? You want to know about the shakes? Erm. Uh. Well, see, the thing is — you’ve just discovered the chink in my foodie armor. I am not into shakes. I am not into soda pop. When I go to a burger stand, I want nothing but burger — perhaps a cool iced tea on the side, but I have no time for these sweet, thick, mucus-making “shakes” you speak of. I could not tell you who does it better if you paid me twenty bucks (I’ll take your money though). But I am absolutely sure that somebody out there has an informed opinion. Do share. Do.

I do not see an end in sight to these burger wars: and like I said, I haven’t even begun to explore the many-lettered world of Tommy’s (Tomy’s? Tommi’s? Tomi’s? the mind is boggled!). All I know is that thanks to the many In N’ Outs and Fatburgers scattered around the Southland, I could conceivably go the rest of my life without ever venturing into a McDonald’s. And that, my fellow foodies, is a very, very, very good thing.

Nos Gustan Los Avocados.

There are many reasons to love living in California, but ranking high among them are the avocados. Sure, you can find avocados everywhere these days. But only here can you find any variety.

For the most part, when you’re talking about commercial avocados, you’re talking about Hass. And truth be told, it really is about as good as anything out there. But sometimes you want to try something a little different.

In Southern California farmers markets right now, you can also find Fuertes, Bacons, Zutanos and Pinkertons. The first three are Mexican avocados, which are usually harvested from January until May. They tend to be smooth-skinned and a little lighter green; they also usually are lower in fat. Hass and Pinkerton have a Guatemalan heritage. They are usually rounder in shape, with a pebbly skin that’s darker in color; especially right now, at the peak harvest, they are lusciously high in fat.

How to choose: Really ripe avocados will give when they are squeezed gently. Use your palm, not your fingers. Usually, you’re better off buying avocados that are quite firm, even hard, and ripening them at home. It’ll take only a couple of days, and it will keep you from getting stuck with fruit that’s been badly bruised by overenthusiastic shoppers.

How to store: Keep avocados at room temperature until they are fully ripe. Once they’ve been cut open, they need to be consumed quickly — the flesh blackens within hours when exposed to air (this is ugly but harmless).

How to prepare: If you’ve got really good avocados, even guacamole is too complicated. Instead, peel and pit the avocado and crush it onto warm toast. Sprinkle with salt and season with a good grinding of black pepper.
– LA Times

Slow Food

The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy to combat fast food. It claims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an eco-region. It was the first established part of the broader Slow movement.

The movement has since expanded globally to over 83,000 members in 122 countries.
Slow Food began in Italy with the foundation of its forerunner organization, Arcigola, in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish steps in Rome.[1] The Slow Food organization spawned by the movement has expanded to include over 83,000 members with chapters in over 122 countries. All totaled, 800 local convivia chapters exist. 360 convivia in Italy — to which the name condotta (singular) / condotte (plural) applies — are composed of 35,000 members, along with 450 other regional chapters around the world. The organizational structure is decentralized: each convivium has a leader who is responsible for promoting local artisans, local farmers, and local flavors through regional events such as Taste Workshops, wine tastings, and farmers’ markets.

Offices have been opened in Switzerland (1995), Germany (1998), New York City (2000), France (2003), Japan (2005), and most recently in the United Kingdom. The head offices are located in Bra, near the famous city of Turin, northern Italy. Numerous publications are put out by the organization, in several languages. In the US, the Snail is the quarterly of choice, while Slow Food puts out literature in several other European nations. Recent efforts at publicity include the world’s largest food and wine fair, the Salone del Gusto in Turin , a biennial cheese fair in Bra called Cheese, the Genoan fish festival called SlowFish, and Turin’s Terra Madre (“Mother Earth”) world meeting of food communities.

In 2004 Slow Food opened a University of Gastronomic Sciences[2] at Pollenzo, in Piedmont, and Colorno, in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Carlo Petrini and Massimo Montanari are the leading figures in the creation of the University, whose goal is to promote awareness of good food and nutrition.

Molecular gastronomy

Molecular gastronomy is a scientific discipline involving the study of physical and chemical processes that occur in cooking. It pertains to the mechanisms behind the transformation of ingredients in cooking and the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general (from a scientific point of view).

There are many branches of food science, all of which study different aspects of food such as safety, microbiology, preservation, chemistry, engineering, physics and the like. Though until the advent of molecular gastronomy, there was no formal scientific discipline dedicated to studying the processes in regular cooking as done in the home or in a restaurant. The aforementioned (perhaps with the exception of food safety) have mostly been concerned with industrial food production and while the disciplines may overlap with each other to varying degrees, they are considered separate areas of investigation.

Though many disparate examples of the scientific investigation of cooking exist throughout history, the creation of the discipline of molecular gastronomy was intended to bring together what had previously been fragmented and isolated investigation into the chemical and physical processes of cooking into an organized discipline within food science to address what the other disciplines within food science either do not cover, or cover in a manner intended for scientists rather than cooks.


Hot Diggity Dog!

Top Dog is nothing too fancy but if you’re looking for a good hot dog that’s easy on the pocket book, then you have chosen the right place. Not only do they have tasty Top dogs but they also have variety of different sausages and links. One of my favorites is the Lemon Chicken Sausage.

All dogs, sausages and links come on toasted buns plain leaving you to decide whether you want their tasty chili or of course your basic hot dog toppings which consist of specialty mustard, sauerkraut, ketchup, sweet pickle relish and fresh onion! If the dogs aren’t enough to fill you up, then there are bags of chips, and to wash it all down there’s a small variety of fountain drinks. So if you’re ever in Berkeley and are craving a good hot dog, sausage or link I would recommend Top Dog, which is located @ 2534 Durant Ave. I recommend this spot because of taste/Price/Location..It’s really close to the U.C campus and Telegraph in which there’s plenty to see and do!

SMR 22!



Rolling Dunes
3331 Lakeshore Ave
(between Lake Park Ave & Trestle Glen Rd)
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 836-3863

It’s a place where I’ve been plenty of times, so I usually eat the specials of the day. Tonight, it was a turkey burger. Blah. It was alright, nothing great, or even special about it. The server seemed kind of confused about who ordered what and kept trying to offer me salad. But other than that the service seemed OK they were consistent with refills of the drinks and clearing up the tables. I’ll go back there because it’s decently priced and the food is usually good. My recommendation the Italian Sausage Fettuccine Alfredo w/ Pesto added in.

Juans Place

Do you like big portions? Do you like cheese? Do you like spending $15 a plate for Mexican food?

If you said yes to all of these then you would like Juan’s Place on Carleton St in Berkeley. It’s a family owned restaurant that’s been there for over 20 years. They have all the traditional Mexican entries and they have half orders of everything, so if you don’t really feel like spending $14 for Chile Verde you can get a smaller portion for $9.99. The main thing that makes this place great is the flour tortilla chips that they offer.

fucking amazing.


cam huong

If you know anything about Vietnamese sandwiches, then you already know about Cam Huong Deli on International. It’s a gem in the Eastlake Neighborhood. They have all the traditional Vietnamese deserts and dishes. But their specialty is the Vietnamese Sandwich, they have a variety of meats, a vegetarian sandwich, even a curry tofu sandwich. All ranging from $2.50 to $2.75.

The sandwiches are extremely tasty. They consist of freshly baked bread, white and orange carrots blanched in a white vinegar and sugar sauce, cucumbers, jalapenos, a little bit of mayo, and topped off with some salt and pepper.

The family has been a staple in Oakland for the past decade they own the Cam Huong deli, Cam Huong bakery in Chinatown, and Sierra Deli on 3rd street.

It’s filling sandwich at a great cost.