Anger Burger


Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 at 4:26 pm


*EDIT: I mean, cake! What else do you need to know? 

**EDIT: Fine. This one was prepared by the Captain and she proclaimed it “The perfect Chocky Cake.” That’s high praise from the angriest one. The recipe is from Fine Cooking no. 119 (oct/nov 2012), page 83, (“chocolate-honey ganache layer cake”). Look it up at your library or steal that issue from your foodie friend, who is probably kind of a prick anyway. Screw him. Or her.

*** EDIT: The recipe is notable because it contains COFFEE. As far as I can tell, adding coffee (as a substitute for water) pretty much improves any recipe. Redeye gravy, for instance. She altered the frosting recipe, so you’ll have to ask her about that. I think she made a vanilla-honey frosting instead of the recommended chocolate honey. I’m making a note here: huge success.

****EDIT: Either way, this cake is great. It’s so delicious and moist.

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6 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

Diesel Burgers and Freedom Sauce

Posted by on Mar 31, 2012 at 9:01 pm

For some reason I didn’t understand that Oly Burgers is inside a gas station.  As in, inside-inside.

I suppose this is a normal thing to many now, but I’m not sure my brain is capable of processing this many primary colors in conjunction with food.  Even when I’m at the gas station to buy gas I often become distracted and leave with a single tube of Necco Wafers instead.  Also: I genuinely believed that Washingtonians used the word soda instead of pop to describe a soft drink, but apparently we most assuredly do not.  I say soda, I’m pretty sure everyone in my family does.  I feel like I’ve had a false memory inserted, like there’s a glitch in the matrix.

So, Oly Burgers. My dad financed a reconnaissance mission after reading that Oly Burgers had fish and chips on their menu, and I was blissfully unaware of any details aside from the word ‘burgers’. Great!  I love burgers.  Let’s go.

But I’m still having a difficult time with the whole gas station thing.  It’s really a gas station, it’s busy and people are buying cigarettes and diesel about 10 feet away from where my tummy rumbles thinking about tater tots.  I don’t know what to make of it, to be honest.

There is only one woman working the shop, and she makes my dad anxious by being slightly harried in a good-natured, pleasant but frantic way as she makes burgers, hotdogs and milkshakes for the few people waiting in front of us.  I should also add that this isn’t a normal gas station – this is a gas station inside a massive automall.  So the other customers, so far, have been car salesmen.  I think we can vote out any ambiance appeal, but you know, fuck it.  How are the burgers?

Mike the Viking ordered off the South of the Border off the “Specialty Burgers” menu, and —

Wait.  The South of the Border includes onion straws, pepperjack cheese and BBQ sauce among the usual other burger flotsam.  I call shenanigans.  Since when is BBQ sauce a Mexican flavor?  Or onion straws?  Or pepperjack cheese?  Shouldn’t this burger be like jalapenos and nacho cheese? Closer inspection reveals further tomfoolery: the Hawaiian burger has pineapple, yes, but again onion straws, pepperjack cheese and BBQ sauce.  The TexMex burger?  Onion straws.  Pepperjack cheese.  Oh, and chili.

I’m just going to let all this slide for the time being.

The Viking’s burger is massive!  I’m actually impressed that the ratios of toppings to meat to bun are all pretty solid, if a little regionally challenged.  There isn’t too much of any one component.  He takes a few big bites and grunts enthusiastically.  It is, as he says, a pretty solid “messy burger,” which is the category of burgers that have a lot of shit going on with them.

(Stranger’s zombie hands reaching for the Viking’s brains on the right hand side of the photo.)

My regular ol’ Oly Burger starts off looking promising, but is soon revealed to have a few flaws.  The bun is lovely and soft and eggy, and well buttered and crisped on the inside.  The pickles are nice.  The “Oly Sauce” is a direct rip-off of the local favorite Goop, a sauce trademarked by Eastside Big Tom, the inarguable and still-reigning local burger champs.  Oly Sauce is similar but not quite right – it’s lacking something.  But sadder, so is the patty itself.  It’s a faux-hand-formed patty, I suspect — the rustic shape of it seems eerily similar to the rustic shape of the patty in Mike’s burger — and has the peculiar sponginess of some burgers that I just can’t entirely abide by.  But it’s cooked well, and if I weren’t in Olympia I would be pleased that I had something almost-but-not-quite-like a Big Tom’s ‘regular burger’.

My dad’s fish fared the least well.  They came out hot and initially tasty, but quickly cooled to a dense, unpleasant texture.  They weren’t cooked wrong, exactly, but I’m left to assume they were fried from frozen, which you know, is not a crime.  It’s a burger joint inside a gas station, after all.  If everything tastes a little Sysco, it’s probably because it is all a little Sysco.

But the food was prepared quickly, my dad’s strawberry milkshake was made from real ice cream, and the total (which included tater tots not pictured) was just over $20.  Not bad.  As my dad said, “I’m not disappointed.”  It was a fun food adventure, and if we’d also needed 2 for the price of 1 tins of snuff, a tank of gas and some Funyuns, this would have been a highly successful mission.

4 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

Bitches Don’t Know Fishes

Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I’ve mentioned before that I am a third¹ generation Pacific Northwesterner, and as a result of such I believe that fish should be fried in beer batter, and breading is an anathema, unless you’re frying oysters, in which case they should be fried in either seasoned flour or cracker meal.   I don’t mean to be an old lady about it or anything, but you don’t see me telling Southerners not to fry stuff in cornmeal.  Which I think is gross, but you know.  They can do whatever they want down in those sweaty states.

I’d heard on good authority that the food at Fish Tale Brew Pub was much better than since I last been, which was admittedly like 10 years ago or something.  I also made the mistake of checking in with them on Yelp and discovered that everyone TOTALLY DOESN’T GET WHAT THE HYPE IS and WHY WON’T THAT ASSHOLE SERVER BLEND MY HUSBAND’S SOUP IN A BLENDER FOR HIM, DOESN’T SHE CARE THAT HE HAD JAW SURGERY AND WE WANT TO EAT OUT SOMEWHERE THAT DOESN’T SERVE PUREED FOOD?

Anyway, the lure of potentially good fish and chips – of which there is a desperate dearth of in Olympia – was enough to lure my dad and the Viking out of our hut for the evening, which is a supremely rare event.  Truly rare.  In fact, I don’t think the three of us have left the house together in the last five months.  And the result?

Nope.  I mean, good for many.  Meh for me.  I’d never order their fish and chips, because the fish is breaded in panko, though the quality was good and the Viking and my dad were not-speaking-nomming happy.  The portion of fries with the fish was huge (in the photo it seems rather small, but they could barely finish) and the quality was high.

I ordered the oyster burger, which normally comes with fries but I substituted onion rings for.  And regretted.  PANKO, you bastard!  Shit.  So, in addition to demanding that my fish be beer battered, the same applies to my onion rings.  These were fresh and hot and tasty and totally shredded the holy living meatpaste out of the roof of my mouth.  I literally couldn’t eat them, because I’m a serious weakling, I guess.

The oyster burger though?  Divine.  Perfect.  Nicely fried, gently seasoned, and tasty enough on it’s own, but it was the Viking who handed me his dish of coleslaw and suggested “Put that on there,” and the angels sang and Yog Sothoth returned to the beyond and I greedily consumed the entire thing without offering anyone else a taste.  For god’s sake, ask for a side of slaw with your oyster burger.  They’ll try and push bacon on you, and that’s fine, but coleslaw on that fucker is what’ll make your day.

Anyway, I’m heartened by Fish Tale.  It wasn’t cheap, but their happy hour is solid.  I can see coming by here for a burger (which, served until 11pm means it’s one of the latest-serving joints in town; important information for post-work drunkards like myself) or some garlic & parm fries and a pint of brew as a reward for a particularly crusty day.  A lot of the negative reviews on Yelp center around the issue that the servers don’t afford any special treatment to regulars, delivering beer with equitable aloofness, and to that I say: bless them.  After a day of talking myself hoarse at work, sometimes I want to be served a beer by a lady who refuses to puree a customer’s chowder for them.

¹Or something, close enough.

5 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

Breakfast Delicious

Posted by on Feb 7, 2012 at 8:23 am

I’m not proud of myself.  But I suspect that’s why you’re here.

First, let’s objectively step back and admire this:

It’s lovely!  An oversized glazed bar-type donut with a thin ribbon of maple frosting and a generous heap of fine little bacon crumbles.  I love it.  I think it’s gorgeous – O, the aesthetics!

Okay wait.  We have to talk about bacon in desserts before this goes any further.  I need to be on the record as saying that I am not a fan, 99% of the time.  There have been exceptions, but they are just that: rare instances where it works.  Bacon is a very fatty meat that loses its appeal when cold.  I had bacon ice cream in Los Angeles and was totally offended by the rubbery, industrially greasy texture that I couldn’t scrape off my tongue even with a napkin.  I’ve had other bacon-maple donuts with large pieces of bacon, and again: cooked bacon tends to get rubbery when at room temperature, and trying to chew through a piece of meat while biting through a soft, silky donut that never did anything wrong to anyone is just a sad day for donuts everywhere.

But Twister Donuts in Olympia has achieved the bacon-topping pinnacle of evenly tiny, crunchy little pieces of bacon, like pork sprinkles.   Even their own magnificent signage shows an unpleasant application of bacon pieces:

But alas, this donut is far from unpleasant.  It is downright disgustingly scrumptious.

If you’re totally nauseated by the idea of such sugar/meat hybrids as the Krispy Cream Hamburger, then clearly there is nothing for you here.  It is, without fanfare, a donut stuffed with several long sticks of cheap ham, and what was probably at one point some Swiss cheese cheese product, but has since become a salty, dairy-flavored sauce around the ham.  I understand that my description is not improving the chances of you ever wanting to eat this, but I am not lying when I say that I enjoyed it.  And hated myself more than a little.  But I’ll eat another one in my lifetime, because you never know when that metaphorical and possibly literal bus is going to flatten you like the short-lived, wish-you’d-had-more-donuts wretch that you are.

Unrelated, I originally misspelled breakfast as “breakfats” and ham & cheese as “hand & cheese”.

8 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

What I Wouldn’t Give for a Guacamole House Right Now

Posted by on Jan 31, 2012 at 11:04 pm

No.  No.  No.

House hunting is one of my least favorite things ever.  I kind of like moving into a new place, of getting everything settled and learning the way the light moves through the windows at dawn, or how the eaves shake in the wind.  I don’t necessarily want to become familiar with the way the carpet squishes in the toilet dungeon – oh I’m sorry, I mean third bedroom with en suite.


We’ll keep looking.  MEANWHILE!  My mom had a birthday.   An important one, but I guess they all are.

There’s no real explanation, but she wasn’t really feeling her birthday this year.  The winter storm we just experienced was costly for her, having had to hire a professional to come clear her driveway so my stepdad could attempt to get to work and help my grandpa get a massive tree cut up and hauled from his driveway.  I really wish we could have surprised her with an Alaskan cruise or a room full of pug puppies, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way.  So what’s a family to do?  Eat at La Tarasca, for starters.  And then Harbor City dim sum for seconders.


And for dessert we tried Olympia’s new Jewish deli, Kitzel’s, which is a source of great drama for generally Jew-free Olympia.  Not the Jewish part, the skimpy-but-expensive-portions part.

My salted herring plate was $9 and actually too much food for me to eat.  Well, specifically too much salt.  Which is unusual.  I need salt like most people need water.  But the herring is magnificently, astonishingly salty, which is why there’s a heap of underseasoned potato salad and two pickled tomatoes on the plate.

My mom and The Viking shared a pastrami sandwich, which at another $10 wasn’t exactly a deal, but was enough food for them to share as a modest lunch.

I do have to call total and utter bullshit on them for charging $1.50 for a bagel (okay, I’ll let it slide) but $3.50 for a bagel with cream cheese.  TWO DOLLARS FOR CREAM CHEESE.  And!  Just when I sort of calmed down about that, I noticed that a bagel with butter was $2.75!  A dollar fucking twenty five for a pat of butter!  Oh ho, oh man.  That.  That is… ballsy.  And insulting.  The show-down at Yelp gives a good idea of the dramz, but the one thing that really irked me has been taken down: Kitzel’s gave themselves a five star review and then sassed back to every bad reviewer about how their prices and servings were the same¹ as elsewhere in town.

I like the sass, but I’d like it backed up with some substance. And by substance, I mean that I’d like to not spend four dollars on a bagel and a schmear.

¹ They are actually more expensive, but who cares, facts are for meshuggeners.

Doggy Gets a Treat

Posted by on Oct 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I did not have high hopes for this box of chocolates.  They’d bloomed a little from the heat, and were pretty scuffed up.  There was no lid on the chocolates, just a sheet of plastic wrap.  I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’m the one that’s genuinely pleased when Mike the Viking buys me boxes of discount Russel Stover chocolates after Valentine’s Day has passed, but I’m pretty realistic about it.  It’s not the good chocolate, it’s the gobbling chocolate.

Hence my surprise that these came to understand that their battered and scruffy demeanor was due entirely to their packing mishap.

The chocolates themselves are very, very high in cocoa and palm fat, which means that they melt into chocolate sauce the second they hit your tongue.  No waxy Easter chocolates here.  The fillings were all unique, and I have to admit that I’ve never seen a more attractive assortment of chocolates in my life.  The box has turned into my packing reward: I finish a box, I get to cut a chocolate in half and share it with Mike.  I should have thought of this motivational system sooner.

0 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

Wales Wants Me and Knows How to Get Me

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I’m going to cut straight to the chase here and tell you that I won a basket of food as a part of a promotional campaign for Wales.  I have since come to two conclusions:

  • As a matter of fact, yes I do want to visit Wales
  • Wales’ basket-assembling people need some educating on how to pack gift baskets

First I’d like to thank Su-Lin at Tamarind and Thyme for hosting the contest.  I’m not entirely proud that this was my winning entry:

As an American, Wales means one thing: Sean Connery. Except that I just looked it up on Wikipedia and Connery isn’t from Wales at all, and I’ve been telling people that he is for some years now — it is genuinely one of my favorite pointless facts to bandy about at parties. It just won’t be the same when I inform them that smugly that Ioan Gruffudd is from Wales.

Additionally, it appears that what my boyfriend’s Norwegian/Swedish grandmother called “pikelets” are actually Welsh cakes, and that the word “pikelet” is not Norwegian, Swedish or Welsh at all. It is with a deepening sense of dread that I realize I know nothing at all about Wales other than that they seem to enjoy the letter ‘y’ to an exceptional degree.

It isn’t often that I find myself at a total loss regarding an entire country’s cuisine, and yet here I am. The internet tells me of laverbread, which sounds like something I’d be eating alone and cockles, which I’m pretty sure are made up.

There is little in this world that titillates my ocelot more than boxes full of pantry goods, I tell you what.  DHL on the other hand needs to invest in some sign-reading skills, because this looks all the world like a box that was dropped on it’s damn end, am I right?

I opened it up and was greeted with an ominously sour odor.  But more on that in a minute.  First, look at this!  It’s like a wicker Christmas morning.

Need the tiniest spoon in the world?  Just ask, I’ll loan you mine.

So, let’s talk about that odor.  I’ve tried to think of how to word this, and I even temporarily decided I wasn’t going to talk about it because you know, this is a gift, but also I think that Wales is in all likelihood an awesome place.  But I think we’re all adult enough to understand that this basket does not represent the country of Wales.  That being said: this is exactly how it came “packed”.  It was a mix of paper boxed goods and glass jars loose inside a basket with a thin layer of shredded paper on the bottom.  More than one thing was quite effectively smashed to pieces.

Most sadly – and I’m dead serious here, I was actually depressed for the better part of an hour – the three jars of peculiar pickled things – PICKLED THINGS!  – were ruined.  All three jars’ seals were popped, and two of the jars had leaked juice all over the basket.  It was with a deeply heavy heart that I dropped them into the trash, untasted.

It is possible that this was all cleverly set up to lure me to Wales with promises of condiments, and if so, it’s working.  Or as the Welsh call them, cyndymynts.  Meanwhile a lot of tasty bites survived the journey, but more on that later.  I need a moment of silence for the plum conserve, ginger chutney and farmhouse piccalilli.

Posted by on Sep 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

When we first moved to Los Angeles we fell prey to what I briefly and angrily called “Mexican Fake-Outs.”  They would appear to be Mexican restaurants, and with names like “Los Burritos” you’d be a fool not to expect burritos, right?  But of course not.  Inside you’d find a sort of peculiar, vaguely Mexican breakfast and burger joint.  A diner, sort of.  With some Mexican foods on the menu of course, and staffed by Mexican people, and frequented by Mexican patrons.  But if you actually wanted to eat Mexican food, you would not pick these places.

It wasn’t until Mike the Viking christened them “dinerias” that my brain re-oriented itself.

They are not Mexican restaurants.  They are diners run by Mexicans.  And they are everywhere.  They are more prevalent than 7-11s.  They are the bodegas of Los Angeles, except you can’t buy cigarettes or beer or anything.  But you can get pastrami burritos.  I swear it!  I’ve never ordered one, but almost every dineria has them.  Also what many of them refer to as “California Burritos” which are burritos with french fries inside.  Mike swears by these, but I still have dignity so I haven’t eaten one.

Anyway, the menus are expansive and confusing and it’s often best to order without even looking at them.  Our favorite of the dinerias is Tom’s #7, also referred to by us as “Crash Test Tom’s.

Their menu says that you can only have breakfast until noon, but we know better.  Last time Mike was there in the afternoon he ordered a burger, turned around to leave and saw a man eating a delicious-looking chicken-fried steak.  Aghast, Mike asked the man “You can order breakfast after noon?!” and the man shrugged and said, “I did, yeah.  I drove all the way¹ from Studio City for their chicken-fried steak!”  Mike says he didn’t even remember how his burger tasted because he was so sad he didn’t know he could get chicken-fried steak.

It may look a little pedestrian, but it’s a solid specimen.  The gravy is not gluey-tasting, but sausagey, peppery and milky.  The eggs were perfectly cooked, the hashbrowns good enough, and the steak itself was very tender.  It had a cornmeal crust on it that I found disappointing because I dislike cornmeal crust, but Mike enjoyed it and that’s really what matters.

His hot sauce application cracks me up.

My avocado burger was excellent.  It’s nothing special, but it was precisely how I like it.  The bun was perfectly toasted, there was just the right amount of sauce and there was at least a half an avocado on the thing.  I have simple wants when it comes to avocado burgers, and that’s it.

It’s a great relief knowing that Tom’s #7 exists.  Anyone who has ever had a hangover knows that nothing cures like having both huevos rancheros and a chocolate milkshake in the same place at the same time.
¹ “All the way” makes us laugh because Studio City is maybe 4 miles away, but Angelinos are funny about distances.

“Take a Drink of My Coke, It Helps Cut Through the Cheese”

Posted by on Aug 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm

In the land of “authentic Mexican,” sometimes it’s hard to find some solid Whitey Mexican.  Our beloved taco truck shut down and we mourned in the way that Caucasians mourn, which is to tirelessly search the internet for some sort of replacement while spending money on increasingly expensive and crappy Mexican restaurants hoping that one of these goddamn Yelpers isn’t a fucking nutbag.

Seriously, is there no goopy, cheesy Combo Plate mecca to be had in this town?!  And then my friends Zied and Hatherly casually mention: Oh, you’ve never been to Salsa and Beer?

Perhaps foremost, it should be known that Salsa and Beer sets down a plate of fresh, hot tortilla chips and a small bowl of cheese and bean dip, gratis.  The rumor is that they’ll keep refilling it, but our food soon came and we had trouble focusing on anything but our own plates after that.

I haven’t ordered a combination plate of anything since I was a kid, I think, and I’m the sadder for it.  Unable to decide between enchiladas, floutas and chile rellenos, I had all three on the same plate.  When did I start thinking that was a bad idea?  Probably around the same time I decided that I was going to “follow my dreams” and not bother getting a useful college degree.

Mike the Viking ordered some sort of meat pile (hidden below there under some grilled onions and jalapenos) and was pleased as glögg to sit and form himself little steak-bit-burritos for an hour.

My dad, on the other hand, ordered a vegetarian burrito which apparently saddened the cooks sufficiently that they decided to make it the size of a healthy newborn baby.  I’m not sure if the photo below conveys the size of this thing, but the otherwise robust server’s arm shook as he lowered it to the table.

My dad killed half of it before we all decided that eating any more would be flirting with his health insurance’s out-of-state ER visit policy.

There’s really little more I can say about it.  It was precisely what we wanted, and I’m not ashamed to say that what we wanted was a feeding trough of cheese and sauces.  I’m somewhat more ashamed to say that the elastic waistband of my skirt is cutting into my skin a little.

9 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

This is How We Do It

Posted by on Aug 10, 2011 at 7:11 am

There are some popular and populated bakeries on the main drag in Cannon Beach, but the smart bet is Waves of Grain, home of the One-Eyed Willie (named after exactly what you think).  The idea turned me off entirely: a massive biscuit with a plug of jam and a coating of cinnamon sugar.  That’s a lot of damn carbohydrate to be putting into my piehole first thing in the morning.

I was, of course, totally wrong.  The biscuit is ethereally light, and the exterior is thin and crispy.  The choice of jam “eyes” changes daily, and we chose apple butter.  I thought it’d be plenty to share between four people (with uh, three other large pastries) but it was the first thing to get gobbled down.

Even with the One-Eyed Willie, I retained doubts about the bran muffin and the cinnamon roll, which of course was stupid because they were rad.  The bran muffin killed us; with a chewy, almost crispy espresso glaze, the top tasted like a darkly cooked caramel and the muffin itself was perfectly moist.  The cinnamon roll disappointed my mother and sister for being too sweet, but I liked it just fine and was very impressed with the texture of the roll dough – so often cinnamon rolls are dry, but Waves of Grain’s wasn’t.

(my mom’s contribution to the breakfast was an entire stick of butter there in the foreground)

Lunch was cheese, meat, olive tapanade and a fresh baguette from Waves of Grain.  They don’t make their bread until between 10 and 11 in the morning and will sell out by mid-afternoon, but do as we do and place an order.  They don’t require being pre-paid and it may be the only way you can secure yourself a baguette or seven.

Dinner finds us at Ecola Seafood, where the fish and chips absolutely do not fuck around.  I was deeply distracted by this display case as we entered (there was also a case of gorgeous fresh seafood over to the left, but I couldn’t even process this added attraction), full of shrimp and crab cocktails, smoked mussels, squid salad and multiple varieties of smoked salmon.  But my mother had been here before and kept me on target.

Captain’s Platter.

My sister and her daughter shared a cod and chips dinner.

My mother and I, being Captains, shared this platter of battered oysters, scallops, shrimp, salmon and cod.  And it was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  At one point my sister asked me “Were you hungry?” which is how my family politely says “You’re a terrifying pig monster.”

Walking back to our room, we saw this house:

And I was awash in another fresh wave of Anger Burger.  Why do I not live in this perfect house three blocks away from Ecola Seafood?  Why are all of you not here with me to share in this?  Where is justice?

19 Posted in Eatin' Fancy