It is a fact universally acknowledged that a raincoaster in possession of a dining-out budget must be in need of a burger. I admit it: I’m a sucker for any savory-looking patty with nice buns. I try hard not to be That Guy, that guy who orders the steak at a seafood restaurant, but when there’s a burger on the menu it’s gonna get ordered and that’s a fact. Since I’ve been traveling the back roads and highways of BC lately I will update you on the state of burgerage around the province, starting with the capital, which is not Vancouver which everybody thinks it is, but Victoria, land of the newly wed and nearly dead.
Of Victoria we have spoken before, and shall again, for it is one of my favorite cities. Large enough and wealthy enough (thanks to our taxes!) to have a great arts scene, but small enough to be walkable, at least neighborhood by neighborhood, with a great transit system, a magnificent setting, and a foodie culture that runs far more to the making than the ordering-and-photographing, it’s a charming, pretty city. Heck, I made an offhand reference to it on a hacker forum recently and was blizzarded with posts expressing just how much these hardcore hackers adored twee little Victoria, with its houseboats, its shameless Anglophilia, and its borderline-deranged worship of afternoon tea.
God only knows how many burgers I ate there, but here is one whose photo I happen to have with me at the moment.
The Beacon Drive In just beside Beacon Hill Park boasts that it has been “Serving up smiles since 1958″ and I don’t doubt it, in part because I’m not sure they ever redecorated. I remember coming here in the early 80’s, and it was laughably old-fashioned then. Now, it’s bloody priceless (which reminds me, is Archie from the comic books still driving that ridiculous Model T, because if he is, it must be worth about the cost of a new Lambo, but I digress). It’s also still busy, for good reason.
Not only is the menu a classic Diner With Everything from a Gidget movie, but it has West Coast add-ons like the Oyster Burger and Salmon Burger. Mine hostess and photographer Lori Dunn even got a float, it’s that old-fashioned. You can order a float here without being ironic.
In the 80’s it was famous for its onion rings, and even now they’re terrific; perfectly cooked in a crispy batter that’s not too thick, the onions within just caramelized enough to fall apart when bitten and not before. Could use a bit of seasoning salt, but that’s my only quibble. I ordered the BBQ Swiss Mushroom Burger and it was exactly as a diner burger should be; sloppy with sauce, juicy patty, whopping big pickle on top. There’s nothing exceptional about the sauce or the burger or the bun; it is exactly what it seems, a plain low rent burger that is nonetheless perfectly respectable in its blue-collar way. Note: the “Screaming Deluxe” Cheeseburger has hot sauce. And this is a place where “Deluxe” itself means “comes with lettuce, tomato, and onions.” So don’t be sniffing that you can’t find truffle fries on the menu. If Bruce Springsteen eats truffle fries, I don’t wanna KNOW! You know what I’m saying?
But the soft serve looks truly wonderful, and if it hadn’t been freezing cold and raining I’d have tried some. Striped, swirled ice cream! Truly, we live in an age of wonders.
More burgers to come! And even some non-burger food items!]]>
That’s what I call a Go Cup. Heck, it might even make jogging tolerable.
Well, maybe it won’t boost your cup size all the way through the alphabet. Still, this handy-dandy little portable wine container will definitely bump you from an A to something farther down towards the Mittel-European consonantry. And yes, it’s called the Wine Rack. And no, I have no use for it myself, as I can already hide a 40-ouncer and a couple of highball glasses in my bra with room left over for garnishes.]]>
A sincere Happy 56th birthday to Paris Hilton, the Manolosphere’s favorite celebutard. We saw the pictures from your party (and we wondered, for a moment, if when someone told you to “blow” the candles, awkward hijinks ensued) and it looks like a great time was had by all.
Especially the guy who crashed your party and stole your birthday cake.
I woke up this morning with a $2000 birthday cake in my living room.
It says “Paris”.
And its fucking delicious.
24 hours ago I got a call from my well-connected buddy Kevin. “Dude, I’m crashing Paris Hilton’s birthday tonight. Pretty sure I can get you in,” he says. “Pretty sure you can’t,” I say. “Pretty sure I will,” he says.
90 minutes later we’re strolling down a red carpet like we belong there…
This is as delightful a tale of dessert-based Schadenfreude as the interwebs possess! Yes, just like Kim Kardashian’s $1million birthday cake, this relatively low-rent stunner was just going to be used for decoration and then thrown out. Naturally, in an economic climate as dire as ours, this offended our young adventurer, and he took the only course of action which an ethical partycrasher could, liberating the tasty treat in the name of The People.
and then posting the whole thing to Facebook, god love him.
Even in my sub-functional state, I realize this is going to be a delicate mission. There are still at least 100 people in the building, 20% of whom are employed to be looking for idiots like me.
Parading a confection the size of a small firetruck through the main hall is going to turn a head or two…
I take my cue and make a bullet for cake city.
In one fluid motion, I sidestep a confused waiter, seize the prize, and about face to the door.
I pass the security chief again on the way out.
I nod purposefully… he nods in return.
40 seconds later I’m in the front seat of a Nissan Maxima with 70 lbs. of awesome in my lap.
As the sun rises, I crash hard. In the morning, I’ll awake to an interesting surprise in the den.
It’s red. It’s delicious. And I don’t know WTF I’m going to do with it.
Prepare to be gobsmacked by this gentleman of the road, a mere street food vendor in the humble Namdaemun Market in Seoul, Korea. In only a couple of minutes he spins a hunk of chilled honey into 16,000 delicious candy threads, then rolls and stuffs them to form individual desserts. While he calls this an ancient Korean delicacy, it’s really nothing more or less than a dressed up version of that staple known as Dragon’s Beard in any Chinatown, or Cotton Candy in any county fair.
I’d tip big for a snack served with a side of this fresh charm.]]>
You can just put the laptop into the checked luggage, but don’t let THIS baby out of your sight. You know what they say: keep your friends close, and your andouille closer.]]>
When lunch is late, Mother Henry is not at her best.
How do you hurry a mahi-mahi onto the lunch plate? The answer is salt.
Sea salt liberally applied helped the fish thaw. Scouring the fridge for ingredients, Mr. Henry found a bottle of capers, a lemon, and some dried parsley flakes – just sufficient to construct a sauce piccata.
Dredge the salted filet in flour (with black pepper) and sauté to a light brown in a mixture of butter and olive oil. Remove to a serving plate and deglaze your pan with lemon juice, white wine, or both. (Add more butter if you want more sauce.) Add capers and chopped parsley (fresh is preferable), combine briefly and pour over the filets.
From start to finish the whole thing won’t take more than five minutes, so don’t begin until your guests are ready to eat.
The recipe works equally well with filet of veal or breast of chicken. To assure the meat is evenly thin, pound it flat beforehand between plastic wrap.
Capers are a curiosity – immature flower buds cured in brine or vinegar. The best ones are Italian cured only in rock salt. Before using these you should them soak in cold water for a few minutes.
Mr. Henry’s friend Famous Howard lives exclusively on take-out. In his refrigerator there are precious few items, but always a bottle of capers. Howard finds the addition of capers adds immeasurably to the flavor of almost any sandwich.
As a history buff Howard might be excited to learn that capers are mentioned in The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian story from the third millennium B.C.]]>
At home, Doper never wore clothes.
Hearing the call of the Age of Aquarius, he was a naturalist who went back to the land, which for him meant the Upper West Side between 72nd Street and 96th Street.
During the quarter century he shared the backyard airspace with this hirsute old hippie, Mr. Henry never learned his real name.
Mr. Henry spoke directly to him only once. On a bright and cheerful morning Mr. Henry stepped out onto his tiny porch and was assaulted by the sight of natural man scratching his furry self.
“Couldn’t you put something on?” Mr. Henry asked rhetorically. Doper did not speak. Furrowing his giant uni-brow, he shrank back inside the dark apartment.
Doper did not go to work in any conventional sense. Once in a while he was spotted rifling corner trash cans for books and knicknacks that he displayed for sale on the sidewalk in front of Artie’s Delicatessen on Broadway and 83rd Street. Until ten years ago, every six months or so his aged parents came to straighten up his grotty apartment.
Perhaps because Doper always traveled by bicycle, he managed to maintain an enviably sleek physique despite being in his middle 60’s. Did he subsist exclusively on marijuana, Chinese take-out, and paper bags of birdseed? Will we soon be seeing The Doper Diet at Barnes & Noble?
Perhaps he simply couldn’t stand the yuppification of Broadway.
At the corner of 77th Street a new restaurant is about to open, The West Branch, an offshoot of Tom Valenti’s Ouest which for years has been the only place in this neighborhood to get a really fine restaurant meal.
The West Branch will provide room service to the sleekly renovated hotel On the Ave.
What’s more, next to The West Branch will be a new Fatty Crab, an uptown offshoot of the downtown place famous for Singaporean street food and for not accepting reservations.
Instantly 77th and Broadway, a corner where store after store has foundered, is becoming a destination location for people with appetite and cash.
The Doper moves on.
To capture the internet he cruised Third Avenue while his laptop Airport searched for a signal. Parked in the breezeway of the Jacksonville Beach Quality Suites, he logged onto the hotel wi-fi and downloaded the Manolosphere. Across the parking lot the Crab Shack loudspeaker bellowed “Baker, party of six! Baker, party of six!” Even from 100 yards the air was thick with frying oil. He wanted to shout, “Bakers, save yourselves! Don’t do it!” but Mr. Henry does not foist his opinions upon innocent beach people.
To his amusement and delight, during his absence spirited contributors duked things out for themselves without intrusive guidance or editorial assistance. It was a barroom brawl from the Old West, a fair fight in which things sorted themselves out to the satisfaction of the many.
Mr. Henry does not like to apologize. He embraces the old show business adage, “Never complain. Never explain.” Now and again, however, he will do so, if only for the pleasure of breaking his own rules.
The kerfuffle over Michael Pollan’s injunction against more than five ingredients was settled satisfactorily. Yes, Pollan does refer to packaged products, not to other recipes, as Mr. Henry should have noted.
The food fight over pizza was such good fun that Mr. Henry is almost sorry to say he is sorry. He should have specified “American pizza,” the take-out kind. A thin-crust pizza with light tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil like Serafina’s in New York or Mrs. Henry’s home-made is one of life’s irresistible temptations.
Likewise for take-out tacos. A fresh fish taco from Baja California is one of the world’s great treats. Here in Florida Mr. Henry has been imagining just such treats by dipping his corn chips into the tuna fish, watching the Atlantic while dreaming of the Pacific. (There must be a name for such ingratitude, no? Or does the beach air simply render you perpetually sulky and less than satisfied?)
Regarding Mr. Henry’s denunciation of Subway, he just does not trust “cold cuts.”(Chachaheels explained most eloquently precisely why you should avoid fast-food sandwich places.) When he eats a roast beef sandwich, he cuts the meat from beef he roasts himself. In a pinch he will eat the fresh baked country ham from Zabar’s, but if he wants to eat genuine salumeria, he doesn’t put it on a sandwich.
Inevitably cold cuts are preserved in some nitrate or glutamate that to Mr. Henry’s nose smells like embalming fluid. Eating cold cuts he gets the queasy sensation of having crashed high in the Andes trying to remain ALIVE!
In Roughing It, Mark Twain reports:
“At the Green River station we had breakfast – hot biscuits, fresh antelope steaks, and coffee – the only decent meal we tasted between the United States and Great Salt Lake City, and the only one we were ever really thankful for. Think of the monotonous execrableness of the thirty that went before it, to leave this one simple breakfast looming up in my memory like a shot-tower after all these years gone by!”
Tomorrow Mr. Henry faces the monotonous execrableness of Walt Disney World, and he must face it like a man, not a mouse.]]>
At age 35 the male metabolism changes. Between 35 and 40 Mr. Henry gained two pounds per year. At his annual check-up he asked his physician what to do. Dr. K’s immortal reply was “Quit eating!”
Clearly this is sound medical advice, but as in financial, political, and sexual matters, sound advice is difficult to follow.
Today Mr. Henry faces another problem of 35. Blue jeans are manufactured in graduated sizes of 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34-inch waist. After 34 comes 36.
The problem of 35 is that it isn’t there.
Faced with a sinister plot, Mr. Henry’s mind, unlike the darker minds of political reporters, federal prosecutors, and religious fanatics, does not immediately leap to conspiracy for a solution.
Regarding the problem of 35, however, hearsay evidence points to a world-wide conspiracy of skinny fashionistas – black-clad eaters of take-out salads with creamy dressing, spicy tuna rolls, Thai peanut noodles, and cheese-flavored corn chips, all of which are secretly laced with MSG.
Their collective goal is to prevent gracefully aging men from wearing the one worldwide signature garment of youth – blue jeans that fit.
When walking to the dog run Mr. Henry dons a ancient pair of 34’s unwashed since late 2007. Rips at knees and cuffs are not a deliberate style statement. The fabric is spontaneously shredding and simply will not withstand the rigors of a washing machine.
His replacement 34’s will not yet yield to the fundamental argument, and Mr. Henry refuses on principle to buy a pair of 36’s.
Thus diet dominates life. Like a train wreck, the expanded waistline collides with the blue jeans which in turn degrade personal hygiene and shatter self-respect. Not just the jeans lie in tatters.
The solution? Mr. Henry’s Dietary Dicta prescribe no carbohydrates at dinner. It seems he must cease playing by winter rules and face 35 days of fasting in the desert, or at least 35 days of fasting without dessert.]]>