The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Park Slope Gastronome #13 - West Coast Baseball Trip Day 2

Our first full day in El Aye begins with a trip to Japantown. The area is filled with modest, well cared-for ranch style homes, but due to its low crime rate and overall pleasantry, the houses go for over a million dollars. Crazy! Of course my need to check out this area has nothing to do with real estate, but everything to do with visiting the Giant Robot stores. The store is an offshoot of an Asian American lifestyles magazine of the same name. I've been a fan for some time now. When I last visited Los Angeles around 2002, there existed but one store. It's since expanded to include another store across the street (GR2), a restaurant (GR Eats), a shop across town (GR Silverlake) and outlets in San Francisco and New York (GRSF and GRNY, respectively). It's safe to say the robots are doing all right. I must say, I was on my absolute best behavior at the stores and only purchased a couple sheets of stickers, a Relax Bear mini-diorama and a Japanese book about chewing gum wrapper graphic design. Stop laughing.

On the way back from shopping, we hit the Apple Pan in West LA, a city institution since 1947, serving quality forever! This is the kind of place that you live for. It's a u-shaped counter with stools all around. It's also free form, first come, first serve, making the seating situation a bit hectic. After a short wait, our party of six managed to secure 5 seats together. The ladies (myself and Jen) were allowed to sit first, so it was us who got to initially witness the ketchup magic. We both ordered Hickory Burgers with cheddar cheese and french fries. The fries were up first - a golden, crispy mass of half inch thick potato joy strips. Our server put out two paper plates made of recycled gray pulp and deftly poured ketchup onto both using a bottle in each hand. As we munched on the fries and made our way through the initial serving of ketchup, our guy came over, saw that our ketchup supply had dwindled and promptly refilled. Judging by the eyes I'm giving our server, the experience was magical! Then it was time for the burgers! We all opted for the Hickory with cheese, except for Balgavy who has an aversion to cheese that is not found on pizza. But come to think of it he ordered the plain burger, not even the Hickory, so I don't know what to tell you. The mounds of happiness came snuggled in their own little white paper wrapper. The burgers were juicy with a pile of crisp lettuce acting as a good counterpart to the mush created by the melting cheese and ketchup. I made a mess. The consensus was that this was a fantastic burger, except for Balgavy, but like I mentioned, all he got a regular burger, plain. Beef and bun as he likes to call it. I believe it's a decision he still rues to this day.

Unfortunately, we didn't have enough room for a slice of their famous apple pie. I could see a wall of them through a window inside the restaurant and they seemed to be about 2 feet high. No kidding.

That evening we hit Angels Stadium in the OC to watch a game between the ridiculous named Anaheim Angles of Los Angeles and the Boston Red Sox. Wow, talk about boring fans. The Red Sox fans made mince meat of the Orange County snoozers. While the boys were taking pictures of the flair outside the stadium, I had to rush in cause of course I had to use the ladies' room because I suffer from SABS (small Asian bladder syndrome). I am not sure if this is a real disease or if I am the only case of this existing. After emptying, I took a tour of the stadium to figure out where I wanted to get my dinner. I had nearly walked the full perimeter of the stadium when it appeared. The line was surprisingly short, although once I got in line, I realized there was a terrible glare off the concession window that made it nearly impossible to look at the cashier. After some debate, I decided on the hot Italian beef with jus. It came with a side of crunchy barbecue chips. The meat was dripping with drippings, but it was a nice alternative to a hot dog. This would be the first of many times I would double beef in a day on the trip.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Park Slope Gastronome #12 - West Coast Baseball Trip Day 1

The unthinkable has happened and I have fallen in love with the city of Los Angeles. My first two trips there were relatively underwhelming, leaving me wondering what people could possibly see in this sprawling city. But this time there was an emphasis on food, not the nouveau cuisine served in dim, trendy settings for vapid club hopping dumbasses and out of touch richies, but the food made by the people and for the people that are the pulse of this city - the working class, the immigrants, the regular joes.

Our first meal in the city came past midnight. We had been hoping to pass an In-n-Out from the airport to Dave and Jen's, but instead settled for Carl's Jr. Carl's Jrs are mostly found on the West Coast. I had my first taste on a trip to Hawaii about a decade ago. It was founded by a man named Carl and the franchise began as a hot dog cart. Eventually Carl's hot dog cart turned into a drive in, which in turn begat a smaller version, the Jr. Later in the week we even passed a couple Carl's Jr. Jr's, akin to Pizza Hut Expresses, I imagine, serving a condensed version of the menu.

While waiting for our turn at the drive-in, I was able to study part of the menu. It was only part because of the angle of the car and I didn't even learn about the fried zucchini until the order was placed, which in retrospect was probably a good thing. And this is also a place where instead of chicken nuggets, you get chicken stars! I wasn't really hungry, but am I not one to pass up a meal, so I settled on the Western Bacon Cheeseburger. It would fufill my bacon quota for the day, it was relatively small and the idea of two onion rings nestled between the charbroiled patty and sesame seed bun was too ingenius to pass up. I always like having sides. I don't like just having a burger. Or just an entree. I like having a salad or vegetables - something to break up the monotony of what you're eating. How perfect was this, I thought. I just wanted a little taste of a side and it already came with the package! Brilliant! The most remarkable thing about the burger was the staying power of the pleasing crunchy texture of the onion rings. I got crunch on my last bite and couldn't have asked for more.

Labels: , , ,