August 26, 2008

truer words never spoke

more animals

Posted by foodnerd at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2008

Mandarin Deli, Northridge CA

Often with the tallasiandude's parents we go for dinner at the Mandarin Deli in Northridge. It's pretty close to the house, it's very mellow and low-key, and the food is really great.

Especially the cold cucumber pickle. Oh my god, it is so delicious: rough-chopped cucumber with some kind of intensely garlicky dressing and some cilantro. I can't quite tell if there is any sugar or vinegar involved; it's one of those pickles where it's probably just salt but some crazy alchemy makes it into a super-savory complexity that makes me happy all the way to the end of the plate. Can't get enough, especially in warm weather.

The shredded radish pickle is also excellent, we learned on this trip. It looks much like the daikon-thread pickle one gets as pan chan in Korean restaurants, but has a slightly different taste, almost as if it has just a whisper of fish sauce in it.

The spicy seafood chile noodle soup did turn out to be jambong, as we'd hoped. Hilariously, all the Chinese family at the table informed us that this soup is Korean, while every single Korean restaurant in Chicago that we asked for jambong told us, no, we don't have that, it's Chinese. This was a nice version, lots of heat in the buttery broth, but with a bit of a charred note that kept me from drinking down every drop.

The dry pork sauce noodle was delightful as always, a savory brown mess of pork and scallion and cabbage that makes those noodles into what lo mein desperately wants to be. There was also a lighter, brighter noodle with a serious chile kick and some shredded chicken, carrot and cucumber -- i didn't catch its name, but I will definitely try and find out next time so we can get some more.

The rice cakes were gummy, sadly, but came with a huge pile of perfectly crisp-cooked vegetables -- cabbage, carrot, and lots of snow peas -- in a stupendously savory but light sauce. There's another savory brown dish that we always get, deliciously similar to the dry pork sauce noodle but involving more vegetables and instead of the noodles a bunch of shredded shao bing. The wonton soup is a classic of course, and I like this broth more than most. It's darker and pepperier somehow, and gives a nice contrast to the bland dumplings.

But i think the very best thing that we ordered this trip was the tofu with thousand-year eggs. Sometimes the tofu can be bland in this dish, but this had absorbed just enough of a very flavorful soy dressing, and the edges of the cut eggs dissolved into a salty, creamy mess to add even more flavor. I love this dish anyway but this was for sure the best version I've ever had, and only a vague attempt at social grace kept me from licking the plate entirely clean.

Posted by foodnerd at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2008

Stroud's fried chicken

Satellite plate
Originally uploaded by tallasiandude
On our way to the airport as we left Kansas City, we stopped for lunch at Stroud's Fried Chicken. Just as a change of pace from all the barbecue meat, we figured we'd have a little fried meat. Heh heh heh.

Observe, please, this mess of chicken for 7, so bounteous in its largeness that it required an additional satellite plate just to contain it.

The chicken is delightful. Very crispy skin (be still my heart) and moist meat... my only complaint is that I had to salt it, but you know, that's hardly a complaint.

Perhaps it's done this way to balance the mashed potatoes, which were supersalty -- I actually really enjoyed them, but pretty much everyone else thought they were too salty for comfort. The green beans are cooked to death, as you might expect, but they seem homemade, studded with bits of bacon, rather than canned, and they are delicious.

Every chicken meal comes with salad or soup, potatoes, beans, and cinnamon rolls. The cinnamon rolls are dessert: these things are insane, gooey warm cinnamon treats. We nibbled 'em, but were so full that we ate most of ours a few days later, warmed back up once we got to LA.
Posted by foodnerd at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by foodnerd

"Pardon me, sir, do you have any Grey Poupon... I mean, chicken?"

He did this non-stop all through dinner. It was hilarious. This cat has no shame.
Posted by foodnerd at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2008


Late last night, I realized I'd left a pot of sauteed kale on the stove waiting to cool. So I got out of bed, went downstairs, and surprised a little mouse who scampered over the stove and disappeared.

That little fucker turned out to be hiding in the corner of the counter -- I could see his silhouette, and when I poked at him to confirm I wasn't imagining it, he ducked behind my jar of spoons. I could see his verminous little tail sticking out.

By this time the enraged yelling had roused tallasiandude as well, and he came down to see what was going on. I wasn't letting that little critter out of my sight, but I was too tired to also think up a way to catch him and get rid of him. But tallasiandude had the presence of mind to grab a little trap, box him in, and catch him... and then throw the rotten little marauder outside.

There were tiny little mousepoops on my stove. EEEEEEEWWWW. And I decided I couldn't be sure the pot of kale was unscathed, so that had to go too. Hateful little bastards, mice. Yuck.

Posted by foodnerd at 08:52 AM | Comments (2)

August 19, 2008

frozen treats at Milk in Los Angeles

I had lemon verbena ice cream and blood orange sorbet at a place called Milk in LA. Both were excellent, and went well together even. I am gonna have to try making some ice cream of my own, since i have a thriving lemon balm plant in the backyard that should work about the same.

Posted by foodnerd at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2008

Arthur Bryant's: Mecca for Trillin fans

On the way to the stadium for the Red Sox/Royals game, we stopped for dinner at Arthur Bryant's barbecue. I was very excited about this, having read Calvin Trillin's rhapsodic odes to the joys of Mr. Bryant's Kansas City meat cookery. Bryant's is the ur-barbecue in Kansas City. When my brother found out I'd been to KC, his only concern was, "Please tell me you went to Arthur Bryant's."

This is a brick building across from a vacant lot, with cheap tile floors and formica tables, and a long line up to the counter of meat pilgrims from every walk of life. You order your meat from the first man, and your sides from the cashier; there is clearly a method to this, and we did our best to fake our way through. And brother, let me assure you that it is worth it.

These beef burnt ends are where it's at, moist, tender, and sopped in a fantastic dark red, complex sauce that's only just barely sweet. There is pillowy Wonder bread (the ordering window is lined with the brightly colored bags of it) underneath, turning into a savory muck as the sauce soaks in. The pulled pork is also exemplary, but I had to go for the ends.

The fries are nothing special, I wouldn't bother on a return trip. But the slaw is excellent, chopped and well-seasoned, not sweet, and the beans are excellent as well. These beans are not as sophisticated and balanced as the ones at Jack Stack, but they are spicy-delicious and go well with the meat. The lemonade is too fake-sweet -- if you want something other than beer or iced tea, I'd go instead for the sugary, bright-red cream soda, something I've never seen anywhere else.

We have acceptable barbecue here in Massachusetts, particularly at Blue Ribbon, which is quite near the house, but there is really nothing like eating barbecue in its native habitats, made by people who've been perfecting the art for generations. Yum.

Posted by foodnerd at 01:17 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2008

more coming soon, and a product plug

Too busy and disinclined to sit at the computer to finish my trip posts... i will try and do over the weekend, i promise. And until then, I want you all to know that Lawry's Seasoned Salt is very very tasty when used in place of regular salt in swiss chard sauteed with olive oil and garlic. Yums.

Posted by foodnerd at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2008

Sheridan's Frozen Custard

This is the quintessential American summer experience: drive up to strip mall, park outside frozen-treat stand, loiter, select delicious treat, and sit crouched on the curb licking at the freezing sweet goodness, feeling the night breeze finally blow and cool you off, just a little tiny bit.

Sheridan's version of this involves very rich softserve, ie, custard, either plain, in a smoothie or sundae, or (most popularly) turned into a concrete, which is to say mixed up with a bunch of random solid material, like say, pretzels. Or chocolate bits and peanut butter. Or berries and marshmallow cream. Sheridan's does distinguish itself with a wide and very pleasing array of exotica that can be mushed into your vanilla or chocolate custard, and you could come up with something exciting for just about every taste.

Mine was vanilla with pretzels, so i could taste the creamy custard and get a little hit of salt while I was at it. Tallasiandude got vanilla with marshmallow cream and butterfingers, and our pal D got chocolate custard with something in that I forget, but it was really awfully good. I think next time I might do a chocolate custard with something mocha-ish involved, and possibly almonds. Nums.

Posted by foodnerd at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2008


Our second day in KC we intended to hit up some more barbecue for lunch, but Oklahoma Joe's is closed on Sunday. Two cars full of hot, hungry people needed a quick plan. Sonic? YES PLEASE.

Even though my mother has a serious jones to find a Sonic (we have none in the Massachusetts area), somehow I'd missed the idea that it was a gen-u-ine drive in. No inside tables. Just a drive thru, and even better, a bunch of drive-up slots each with their own menu and ordering intercom, and a bunch of carhops to bring you your loot.

The burgers are excellent, quite fresh tasting and the bacon is very flavorful -- usually you can't even taste the bacon on a fast-food burger should you bother with it in the first place. You can have fries but no one does, because you can also have tater tots. Yahooo! And tots with melted smoked cheddar over the top, even fake-ass processed smoked cheddar, are fantastic. Onion rings, very crisp the way I likes 'em, and in a weird sweet batter that somehow totally works.

The beverage to get is the limeade -- fresh limes squeezed into a cup of sugar syrup and topped off with fizzy soda water. You can get cherry or strawberry or what-have-you, but I like mine plain. It all comes with a cellophane-wrapped peppermint balanced on top of your drink, which is pretty much pointless, but completely adorable.

We didn't brave any of the frosty ice cream treats because there was a rumor of heading to Sheridan's Frozen Custard later in the day... more on that to come.

Posted by foodnerd at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2008

Jack Stack BBQ

Our first night in Kansas City was very hot. Hell, all our nights in Kansas City were very hot, and the days were hotter. Temps near 100, heat indexes nearer to 120. But everyone has central air, or so it seems, and all was entirely well. We waded through the humidity of the lovely 1920's Plaza open-air mall to the cool dark well-appointed confines of Jack Stack's barbecue palace, where we enjoyed the first of much barbecue goodness and drunken shenanigans with our friends.

To mute the roar of a glass of bourbon in a weary traveler, we ordered fried mushrooms, a pile of meaty delights with a horseradish cream to dip in, and onion rings, a mighty tower of buhgiant thick rings crusted in herb-livened cornmeal batter. Freaking awesome.

And then came the meat. Bar got KC's Best, a plate of beef burnt ends, pork ribs, and a completely insane 3-inch-tall marbled hunk of soft moist smoky short rib, plus barbecue beans that are probably the best I've ever had, spicy, subtle, not too sweet, and perfectly balanced in flavor.

I ordered pork burnt ends and sliced brisket, mostly to round out the samplings given what everyone else was ordering. Both were very good, the brisket a textbook specimen of Texas barbecue (albeit with a KC-style sauce, also excellent and spicier than I expected, given the molasses-y KC sauces you get up north), and the ends smoky but drier than I would like. (Mind you, the leftovers made a noble hash for brunch later in the weekend, chopped and mixed into a pile of potatoes, fried onions, and extra sauce plus some of the hot taco sauce i found in the O's fridge. Yums.) I should have gone with the beef burnt ends, as they were the stated specialty of the house, and distinctly more awesome... or that Crown Short Rib, holy cow, drool.

And do not miss the cheesy corn bake, a ramekin of corn kernels aswim in some loose, creamy cheese sauce and a few cubes of bacon. Hubba hubba. And I have to say, the french fries are excellent here also, perfectly crisp and golden, with creamy insides -- very likely double-fried, just as they should be.

But the true star of this show, I thought, was the hickory smoked prime rib that tallasiandude got. All the soft, melting fatty tenderness of prime rib, with the smoky flavors of slow-barbecued meat. Good lord, that was delicious, and something you don't often see on a menu. Do not miss.

Our lovely hostess D recommended the carrot cake, but we were all so very full of meat that we couldn't possibly eat any, so we got two orders to go. At breakfast the next day we found that she was entirely correct: a dark, very moist, not overly sweet spicy cake with visible carrots, topped with a perfectly sugary cream cheese icing. Exquisite.

nom nom nom nom... yay, barbecue!

Posted by foodnerd at 09:02 PM | Comments (1)

August 05, 2008

MEAT, KC style

We have been in Kansas City the last few days, and we have consumed large quantities of MEAT in all its midwestern glory. Posts to follow, once our colons have re-established contentment and well-being enough to allow coherent photo downloading.

Posted by foodnerd at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)