Wednesday, December 12, 2012

this is a blog about all the food we eat.

max and lauren.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

dining finely: thomas keller's ad hoc

(note: i don't have a lot to add to this one, so i'll just periodically interject as such. -l)

capitalism was killing the arts. if you dont think cooking is an art, then youre probably starving. im not starving (i 'm just Fat). eating is supposedly a necessity, but in an overpopulated civilization, it has turned into a privilege. i am a white male,so im fairly privileged. i want to eat well (by 'well', i dont mean healthily, necessarily) but because i am accustomed to eating well. i eat relatively well because i can occasionally afford to. recently, i was able to afford to eat well; finely in fact. disclaimer: we saved our change for months, then cashed it in at the bank. we took the money and used it buy a dinner. we spent more than we have ever spent on a single meal. weird, right?

at 48$ a person (prix fixe 4 course meal), ad hoc is thomas kellers least expensive restaurant. its in yountville, in the napa valley nestled side by side w his other higher priced creations, bouchon and the french laundry, surrounded by bucolic vineyards, and exclusive resort style hotels. kellers apparent intent was to create an affordable, casual, fine dining alternative to the overpriced eateries surrounding. his success in that endeavour exists only in relation to the price range of the other capitalist monstrosities lining the boulevard ad hoc lies on. but napa is napa and rich cunts are rich cunts. all people, not just rich cunts should be able to enjoy high quality food, so by bringing down the price, keller believes that he will be able to create an accessible restaurant experience for all. ah yes, and there it lies, a real working mans oasis! come one, come all, enjoy the bounty of our mother earth, a common treasury for everyone to share! pull up a chair, boys, tonite we dine-- finely! see the waiters? why lookee there, they wear the garb of a commoner-a work shirt and jeans! the price? well, its only 48 dollars a person! pocket change! no dress code, neither! cletus, put on them cover-alls and come grab some grub! soups on!

when we arrived our knowledgeable and sober waiter gave us a brief rundown of the menu. he seemed to rush our ad hoc primer slightly, but that was ok. i dont fancy any type of meal where i need a briefing to dig it. he did, however, emphasize the importance of enjoying the meal, having fun with it, not worrying about being held to any sort of fine dining standard as a customer. hey, just like olive garden! upon the waiters recommendation my mate ordered a sparkling wine. i ordered a beer, sudwerks out of davis. excellent, both (l.-as the only other 'high quality' wine i enjoy is the pink andre, i found this almost unpalatablely delicious. also, one glass of it costs as much as three bottles of andre, pink or otherwise.).

the first course was a salad of iceburg (l.-butter lettuce! mayhap you know it as boston lettuce.) lettuce, radishes, andouille sausage, medallions of corn on the cob and a creamed black pepper dressing. our server mentioned specifically the importance of eating the corn with our hands to maximize the casualness of it all. he also spoke briefly about the vegetables being raised on the keller restaurant farm so it was organic, seasonally fresh and local. huzzah! the food is delivered family style so we served ourselves. at first i felt slighlty shy, embarassed that i was ignorant of proper etiquette in front of the food. but, remembering our new best friends advice i lightened up. besides, it was amusing watching the rich cunts ignore obvious advantages of feasting handily on corn and scramble with forks after it like they was hunting an endangered species. the waiter humored them with humoring and spent much time speaking in great, florid detail about the quality of the food. more time with them than us. the food was delicious- fresh crunchy, flavorful vegetables complimented by the peppery kick of the dressing.

second course was steak and potatoes with asparagus and heirloom tomatoes under a red pepper sauce. it was pretty great. the steak was cooked sous vide, where the meat is vacuum sealed in a bag to preserve natural flavors and immersed in boiling water at a very precise temperature. it emphasizes the meaty, formerly alive qualities of the steak, preserving gristle, fat, veins and the like within a tender, medium rare prison of pink flesh. holla! the vegetables were, again, fresh and flavorful; the sauce, friendly and giving . (l.-the piquillo pepper sauce, my lord!)

the third course at ad hoc is always a cheese course. we got some kind of goat cheese (i forget the name), hard and salty like parmesan, with olives and almonds. this was without a doubt my favorite course. as an avowed salt freak, i ate each bite with a little of each of the ingredients. holy cow, ive never tasted that before. the flavors were perfect compliments to each other, fitting together like puzzle pieces.

throughout this whole affair, our waiter would return periodically to update us on the next course. we felt slightly rushed, like he was trying to get us out of there quickly. we did not recieve the same attention he flattered the other diners with. perhaps he thought our comparatively shabby attire (i was wearing a collared shirt and slacks[!] and my mate was dressed in business casual (l.-actually, one of the servers-not-waiters took this opportunity to compliment my "style," in such a way that i felt, though she may be blind, she was not making fun.) represented our tipping limits. meanwhile, the place was filling up and i felt ill at ease. why were the rich cunts so well dressed? oh yes, theyre rich cunts in napa, and their 'slumming it' was still superior to our 'dressed up'. now, this is the thorn in this rose-- why should i be feeling wiggy? i just want a meal, like any other schlub! (l.-here i am, baby!) but the thing was, in this restaurant for the 'common' schlub, we were the only common schlubs! the other schlubs were rich schlubs. so privileged though i may be to eat out, at what, to me, is a fancy restaurant, i was still getting the evil eye from the regulars! yeah, there was a table of regulars getting preferential treatment from the waiter. he brought them off the menu dishes as he asked about their ivy league offspring.

dessert, the last course, was panna cotta and peaches. it was ok. i was not especially moved. im not a dessert person. (l.- i really liked this. i am a sweets person. it tasted like an elegant and mature cheesecake. i wish the coffee i ordered specifcally because i felt like i was being rushed and wanted to take some more time arrived along with my dessert, but by this point, we were long forgotten. when the coffee did come, though, it took cream incredibly well, and i think was pivotal in my eventual low-brow coffee snobbery.) our grand total came to about 155$, with tip.

ok, youre saying this, then: 'why, shlub, would you go there? youre not welcome, you dont dig the vibes, its pricey, what gives?' and to you i say this-- 'i went because i have never dined finely before and i wanted to see what the fuss was about.and, oh yes, the fuss is about delicious food. the food was amazing; an accessible menu, eating with your hands, casual fine dining! thats groovy, daddy. but look, dont give me the stink eye because everyone is overdressed but us. im not part of your group and i dont want to be. i do, however want to enjoy good food in a receptive, loving atmosphere. even for the middle class, so lowly in the eyes of the napanese, eating is about the social experience, not survival. so many dont have the luxury of that social experience and so few do, and how! alright, buddy, this may not be the place to argue for the redistribution of wealth (i wish), but everyone, every single scum sucking schlub, from the worm schlubs to the rich cunt schlubs should be able to eat good food all the time. dont give that casual dining shit when its just another jerk booth for rich cunts and the panderers who yearn to be in their numbers. yeeesh!'

(l.-in my sociology lecture at a large state university, the professor really drove it home [with a chart] about taste vs. money, as in, us liberal art students had high taste (liked ethnic food), but no money, the nouveau-riche had lotsa money and low taste, (he left out low money/low taste because, at the time, there was not enough space on the internet for the bloggable fury incited by talking about poor people in front of 500 rich white and liberal 20 year olds) and, he alone as a professor had high taste, much money (debatable). anyway, i've never been transported so abruptly back to that moment of some run of the mill power-douche jumping on his desk and screaming, arguably word for word, about how much better he was than me (and the people filling up the rest of the hall). the association alone kind of slowed down the good time i had been having with this meal and i gradually grew more and more self conscious that no matter how much i love food, and how many (all of them) of the technical terms the waiter described in patronizing detail i already knew, and whatever else, this meal was Not for Us, it was for Them.)

now, capitalism is the art. the artist produces a product or object and trades it for money. the patron of the arts is the lynchpin in this lifestyle of exclusivity for artist and patron, brandishing the art (status) object as an advertisement for themselves, their class, their club, their comfort. the privilege of people who can afford to be arts patrons seems a given to them as schlubs of the world trudge wearily to their minimum wage job, unwitting noble savages in a post agricultural world, killing time for rich cunts-- patrons of the arts and of ad hoc.

so, kellers aim is supposedly righteous, but he misses the mark. he is a chef to be respected, a restrauteur to be admired, a capitalist (artist) to be feared. he disguises his notions of class and status behind an all too transparent veil of community and equality. his patrons and their ilk sour the arts experience with their putrid stink--the empty smell of money. the fresh, local, organic trophies of luxury that should be available to all, they congratulate themselves with. the souvenirs of lifestyle will rot soon enough in their bellies, falling into greasy, useless detritus in 'the house where every man goes', perhaps the only equalizer in the civilization of More and Less.

northwest staycation

our northwest staycation (or, journey to the center of maxs negative bank account) begins with a wop bop a lu bop a wop bam boo at glos. no wait (except for on james and emily), caffiene jitters gripped my jet lagged brain ([bro]oakland to seattle), but i was soothed by the creamy deliciousness of the steadfast benedict. carry on, glo! steady as she goes!

l: you know the shellac song 'steady as she goes'? that's all i can think of when i hear that phrase now, which is fine with me, for several reasons, as follows: 1. i never thought that song was going to get released; a happy day indeed when it was, 2. clearly, shellac is inextricably and understandably linked in my brainskull with bob weston, 3. who is the stuff my dreams are made of. in fact, i would say the only thing wrong with this meal at glo's is that weston wasn't there, but, really, he never is. i think i had a greek scramble. does bob weston like greek scrambles? i could pretty easily switch to pancakes, if it would make breakfasttime easier.

thai tom in u district next. ok, look. first i just had a sweating problem, but then i got fucking Fat, so lay off, capice? swimming rama, foah stah {ed note: max only got two or three stars. i remember because i ordered four stars in an attempt to gain control as the AMOG [alpha male of group]}! see, its just that i love deep fried tofu. on a placid bed of spinach. flavored saltily by my sweat dropping into it, but still, y know, like, impervious. uh, whatever

l: the money meal here is splitting the coconut soup and then taking home your delicious entree (mama likes the spicy broccoli with chicken). are you listening, bob weston? i need someone to split soup with.

no dinner for you! you too Fat! you dance with james on mask on!

back to glos but i dont think the waitress remembered us. which is likely for the best. portions are extraordinary. after eating a spanish omlette i was quite full. like bowed-buttons-on-shirt-full. yipes. garnished w a grapefruit slice and shredded cabbage. first of all, orange and purple are complimentary colors. second of all, im not even sure if thats true. so, yeah, thats like, two things.

l: what did i eat? i think french toast. we should start writing these sooner, so people have more time to not read our blog.

go meet nate schmoe downtown in line for salumi, (as featured on no reservations. i dont care for that show. but i care for salami. a great deal.) where else? wait 45 minutes so that i can never eat another salami sandwich again. the bars been raised to high. hot coppa, come to poppa. (pause for laughter; my own) AHAHAHAHAHA!!!

"oh im sorry, im wasted. i will need 'dicks in my mouth'. not my words. no, sir, i wont try to climb through the tiny window. not tonite. its too late now anyway. im too Fat. havent you been reading? oh, and i will have a deluxe, a cheeseburger, and a tartar sauce. yes, id like to eat them and pass out immediately. no, i dont care about The Facts Of Unhealthiness. havent you been reading? oh, and i will have a deluxe, a cheeseburger, and a tartar sauce. yes, id like to eat them and pass out immediately. "

than bros pho hangover over staple. the medium bowl is so big i would wear it as a helmet if thats what it took to get another free custard puff pastry. i also had a coconut drink.

l: did you know that i'd never had pho till i moved to seattle? now my neck hurts from eating it 3-5 times per week? my chopstick skills are unparalleled. bring me a creampuff, then.

we off to portland with nate, james, johnnie. reservation (for 8 minus 1) at pizza scholls bypasses around the block line straight to the best pizza i ever had. the truffle oil especially is like eating one million dollars. astounding. fifth reich pizza nazis reign of terror begins. this was before i got into fiber supplements, by the way.
l: we ordered five pizzas (two margherita, one truffle, one bacon, one sausage and peppers), and i wisely asked the waitress if this was going to be enough. she laughed. she is a fool. i ate an entire pizza by myself, lady, and if nate was the man he once was (see: sharkweek vol. 2), he would've too. plus, the only thing that stopped me at eight slices was embarrassment. why i'm not embarrassed to discuss this now, i do not know.

l: do fiber supplements deserve their own entry? does bob weston take fiber? of course it does. of course he does. our "friends" had been telling us about fiber for months, but our friends are also idiots, so it took a while for us to catch this wave, but eventually we got some fiber and were so disgusted with the outcome (ha!) we kept taking it.

next morning, screen door portland. oyster benedict. amazing fresh ocean taste, but after glos benedict i am more impressed with screen doors generous syrup annointed nut bacon and the onion cheese biscuits than anything else. except for our unhinged capacity for inhalation of food.

l: i unsurprisingly overate and then played wii fit at nate's house, except it wasn't playing because i didn't have fun because i was too full because the fucking bacon was covered in molasses.

unremarkable thai food. actually downright weird. actually sub par. also, i had a canned coconut drink.

l: i had "artichoke drink." thinking about it nauseates me and if max didnt write the first section of this, i would have willingly excluded this section altogether.

more pictures there.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

this was a solo venture on my part, but the food was so delicious that it would be impossible to overlook it as a culinary adventure.

a few weeks back, i started an epic trip visiting my friend studying abroad in paris. before i touched ground, though, i had a surprisingly delicious meal aboard continental.

i fly kind of a lot, and once i grew weary of the chicken patty/big bite pizza/cheeseburger rotation continental typically serves, i decided to work my way through all the special meals. for this trip, i had finally hit 'hindu' and i might just stop the experiment because this curry was delicious, the coconut rice was delicious, and who doesn't love milanos, hmmm? no one. delicious. it made up for my later plane faux-pas of assuming rich, creamy european butter was actually brie and spreading it lavishly on my pear. i'm sorry for being american.

i ate my way across paris without taking any pictures, unfortunately, but rest assured, one of my meals was served in scallop shells and basted with wine. i purposely skipped taking any pictures of those pastel delicacies, macarons, because i feel the internet is already oversaturated with such things, though i now see why: there is nothing else in the world that tastes like this. i had moroccan food for the first time in paris as well, and it was sweeter than i ever imagined lamb could be.

moving on! greece was up next, and while i found the country itself a general bumout, this salad is the kind of thing my dreams are made of. i eat greek salads probably five days a week at home, but never so decadently topped with an actual brick of feta oozing with drizzled olive oil. have mercy!

after ten hours on two ferries, and two overnight buses, i ended up traversing turkey, from traditional clay pot stews in goreme to kofte in istanbul's sultanahmet.

and of course, what visit would be complete without doner kebaps?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

sxsf: south by south food

lauren: typically, these middle weeks of march are reserved in austin for showcasing music, technology, and film. under these auspices, we trek across the desert deep into the heart of texas, but find ourselves much more interested in food than, well, anything else.

lauren: as you may or may not know, your heroes are more than obsessed with barbque. we often quiz each other on favorite bbqs, idly discuss going to the bbq championships in memphis, and frequently riff on things we'd do with ribs before we eat them (make silly moustaches, lazer pointers, etc.); thus, texas was kind of our holy grail.

and oh, it was beautiful. that little gem is from ruby's in austin, kind of a hipster-ish place, but that is irrelevant as no texan bbq is bad, no matter how ironic your waiter's haircut is. the brisket in question had discernible smoke rings around its flaky exterior that gave way into sweet tenderness, complimented by a vinegary coleslaw and a bun toasted just so. later, i went into a complete and total food coma at sam's across town, where i filled myself well beyond capacity with a completely different tomatoey style of 'que.

max: sam's bbq in austin. the only boss worth listening to, bruce springsteen, eats here. so does leann rimes. they claim its so tender you dont even need teeth, and though i have teeth (mostly), i believe them. the fellow behind the counter (sam?) picked up a huge baby sized chunk and cut it with love. so tenderly, just like the meat.

lauren: of course, the dual gems in texas's crown are bbq, yes, but also mexican food. from our starting meal in san francisco at papalote, to a repeat visit to el taurino in la, to tamale house in austin, we covered most of the southwest. it was, in short, an extravaganza.

lauren: but there is also regional cuisine, and we found this in las cruces, at nopalitos.
this is completely novel to me, but my enchilada was vertical rather than cylindrical, and covered with a god damned egg that melted beautifully deep into the chile sauce. my all-star here was the sopapilla, another newcomer to me, that likely will forever change how i think of fried dough slathered in honey.

max: dig- southwest(ish) poutine (waffle house). to wit: double order hashbrowns 2.25. smothered .25, covered .35, chunked .75, peppered .50, capped .75, gravy (! NEW) .75. go!

and, as always, more pictures from our trip here.
y'all come back now!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

happy barfday to us.

Gluttons for Gluttony: A True Story

lauren: our birthdays are february 8 & 9, which gave us an entire weekend to gorging ourselves on our favorite foods, ever. we discussed for weeks what we wanted to eat on our special days, obsessing over every detail, assuring and reassuring we wouldn't eat those foods until then so they were that much better. finally, i decided my theme would be "burgers and beards," but max's birthday was first, so he took to the internet and we met in mission for burritos at papalote.

max: is that true? is that really what happened? i wouldnt know, having gone into a blackout food coma the moment feb 8th food touched my lips. see, i started out that day with a back pack full of piss and spit- specimens, see?- for a research study. after a pint blood draw and a 12 hour fast, you may know, i will tell you, daddy was hungry. at the hospital, they gave me veg lasagna and broccoli (not pictured). it was my choice from a menu. it was free, no, they paid me for it. i coulda got more but i didnt want to fill up before the 2 day food orgy i was about to embark on. im sensible like that. ahem- like dat

yeah so what i defer to a burritto blog? doh kay. papalote in the mission, short walk from my UCSF doctor office, where i meet lauren. what a vision! she appears carrying two chicken sandwiches, cookies, lemon squares from bake sale bettys. my legs shake, my kneees quiver, my pants become tight, my mouth gets sandpaper dry. confusion reigns. gorge chicken sandwiches here in the heart of burrittoville, usa, or forsake the crushing warmth of baked goods for a mexican food? uh, we just go to papalote. not that it was easy. but
so i got a chicken burrito. im kinda on a white meat burrito kick, ive been betrayed by the attendance of gristle in my bites too many times, not at paplote, but anyway. i got blackened chick super burrito- truly the balls. tender meat dissolves and perfect, not overwhelming mix of super burrito accoutrement.

lauren: burritos are the least photogenic of all the foods. on the left is max's pollo asado burrito, and the right is my fish burrito, and as you can see, they are snuggling.
i was having trouble deciding what to order, when an angel sent from heaven to stand in line behind me and gush over foodstuffs gushed over the fish. she settled my mind, and i thank her to this day for turning me on to garlic chili lime marinated fillets of just the sweetest little fish you ever did eat.

next, we headed to sutro baths for a picnic comprised of bakesale betty chicken sandwiches and lemon squares i picked up in oakland earlier.
i feel like the only thing that could possibly enhance this sandwich is sea air, and thank you, sutro baths, for that. lemon squares are perfect as always, and thank you, bakesale betty, for that.

max: ok, so to sutro for outdoor seaside picnic. but not romantic, just gluttonous. oh, also, i was pretty full from my two previous meals but so what? we feast on the still warm bakesale betty sandwiches. delicious parsley/ green pepper coleslaw, oil and vinegar heavy, no mayo or other condiments. clean, busy taste, but quite uncrowded. in between bites lauren curese me savagley. 'we could be eating these for free, swine!!' she seethes. see, folks, i got hired at this reputable but chaotic establishment well into being broke after our move here. i worked one shift then went no call, no show for the second. i got The FEAR, employment sweats, fuck, man. anyway, i have not the maturity of my now 26yrs(!) and havent set foot in there since. god, those lemon squares! out of sight. always they give free shortbread cookies too. yes. wonderful.

lauren: my birthday was the next day, and i have a very special place in my soul for mcdonald's breakfast, so we trudged the blocks up telegraph before 10.30 struck us breakfast-less, and placed our order.

i couldn't decide, so i opted to add on pancakes. further, i covered every single crumb of my meal in syrup, and this is the distinct pleasure of being a grown ass newly 23 year old woman.

max: right. next, i got a little messed up that night. this is important, dear reader, because it segues nicely into breakfast the next day. my hangover was immense and i struggled to my feet to walk a total of three blocks to mcdonalds(!). i embarked on another day of self indulgent cramming of my foodhole with an egg mcmuffin and a sausage mcmuffin. my head was still spinning, but there must have been some sort of moment of clarity, for in one swift, sudden movement, i swiped laurens extra pat of butter lying motionless and unused on the sidelines, to place it deftly in my s mc m. fuck, dude, it was the shit.

lauren: but, as you know, the theme for the day was 'burgers and beards.' we hopped on the bart to head back to the mission for zeitgeist. this was one of the first places we went when we moved to the bay area, and by god, it is the best burger i have ever had.

delicious, juicy niman-ranch house smoked beef with that ever so scrumptious, ever so elusive salty crust that me and my george foreman struggle to recreate, thick cheddar lazily oozing and melting off the sides into crisp, almost burnt but just right hash browns. mama, i'm coming home.

max: a bart ride that almost made me vomit (why? beats me) and we arrive at zeitgeist for burgering. they use niman ranch organic beef its like a 6oz patty. ok. owen used to work there so i know now. see imminent myspace picture. cooked perfect and did you know you can smoke pot on that back patio? i didnt, smoke, i mean, but i did know. now you know. the requisite starch side is home fries, potato clumps and you have to ask for cheese.

laurenonto the beards. cream puffs have always been my favorite birthday treat, always, so when asked for my birthday dessert, it was clearly destined to be beard papa, a softball sized japanese cream puff joint in a mall downtown.

max: trek down market to see the papa. BEARD PAPA THAT IS!!!!!!!!!!111!!!. those japanese export puff pastry in mall food court. uh, doi. its pretty darn good. vanilla cream is almost of a sandy granule quality good, and i dont really have a sweet tooth.

max: whoop, take the trolley car the right way, to see the sea lions, but we go the wrong way and lurch with the oldest car in the fleet all through its route, my stomach bouncing, also upset (fat joke[?-ed]). at this point, i lust for sea food. im not hungry, i dont really want to eat, i feel sick, but i lust for sea food. (this yearning will stay with me for weeks until finally sated, greasily, at catch isle, in yuk mall food court. ) i guess i just remembered it.

max: we wander aimlessly through touristy pier 39 area and little italy, chinatown, back downtown, fruitlessly waiting till we am hungry again. but for what? well...punk, i guess. delay is in town so we meander to thrillhouse. somehow, i manage to slug a 40 of budweiser, but i would have confused austin and ryan anyway, how do you tell who is which? we leave the show and i convince lauren to stop at papalote before we get onto the bart. pork chile verde super burrito, please. yes. gosh darn, does this place score highly on all fronts. so tender, marinated pig meat, perfect black bean (whole, not refried)/rice ratio. good lord! my fave right now

lauren: and like that, our birthday food adventure was over and all we got were these lousy t-shirts

Monday, October 1, 2007

let them eat tacos: west coast food tour 2007.

(admittedly, we took this trip at the end of september 2007, but to be fair, we did eat a LOT of bacon, and that takes a lot out of us.)

this trip was a celebration of life, lauren quitting her job and food porn. we photographed everything we ate (except for an apple, some figs, an ice cream bar, and several lackluster beverages). accordingly, we started out, as most trips often do, with nate, in portland.

lauren: taqueria santa cruz has the most amazing habanero salsa in the universe. and the tacos are really good. and the vegetarian burrito has like, two avocados in it. and they have rice pudding ice cream bars in the tienda in front that i can't even begin to describe.

max- i use hyphens. i had an exceedingly delightful burrito (al pastor) at this establishment not two weeks previous to this excursion and most every visit had been positive so i felt secure in ordering a 'veggie' (bean) burrito. the thing is this - i am something of a mexican food snob because of a southern californian upbringing, so upon my first visit to this 503 eatery i was taken aback at the crispiness of the tortilla surrounding the, uh, guts of the burrito. it had been grilled? after being stuffed? not to worry though, the gut pocket is both delicious, adding a textural variety to an otherwise mushy venture, and structurally sound. never have i found the physical integrity in question at the santa cruz eatery. yes. so- this veggie burrito (not pictured) was 'dee-lish'. yes- a great many avocado is crammed into this mexican cornucopia and i grant approval. santa cruz--- yes! you may continue to disburse your foodstuffs!

lauren: thai basil is a food cart in portland that nate "kinda turned us on" to, like bret michaels is "kinda turned on" to every single thing in existence, except this is just thai food. everything costs five dollars, and each (huge) entree comes with spring rolls (as many as you want, i think, if you want two or less), peanut sauce, thai tea (or a soda) and an almost overwhelming portion of rice.
i had a spring roll, a diet coke and the pumpkin curry. coming from an asian foodless existence in central new jersey, pretty much everything i eat in the vicinity of the pacific rim is completely mindblowing. this was full of pumpkin, not at all greasy (as i believe most food that comes out of a window of a van typically is), and unfortunately, not as spicy as i would have liked. luckily, all the other flavors pulled through, especially after being inspired by max to use the rest of my peanut sauce as a thick, crunchy blanket for my excess rice, and i left portland confident in our decision to spend the next 1200 miles scouring the west coast for the best meal of our lives.

max- after thai tom does any other thai food really exist? no, a thousand times, no! i would gladly drop a neutron bomb upon the country of thailand, permanently cutting myself off from 'the real deal' following the first bite i took from thai tom in seattles university district. why should i eat thai basil, sir? once again however, my fears were assuaged by one nate schmoe (not his real name) as i partook, all vacuum cleaner like, of a green coconut curry in a park by a river. i must break with my partner at the mention of greaselessness. it is greasy, but, like, in a good way. this is a public service announcement- with two(2) free spring rolls! how can you give me fresh vegetables from a van window, maam? there is peanut sauce (salty/sweet) from a plastic cup on my food. but really, not that spicy. tom has you there! but quite good. and cheap.

lauren: i'm starting to come to terms with the fact that i don't really like sausage. it grosses me out, i'm constantly picking gristle out of my teeth, and i'm living in fear that my casing is actually an intestine. taylor sausage temporarily assuaged me with a jalapeno dog, that was spicy enough that if i had known that first, i wouldn't have slathered it in enough horseradish mustard to give myself a headache for the rest of that day. taylor sausage had a lot, a lot of meat in the store, more meat than i had ever seen, which i liked. what i didn't like was the sausage i had later at justin's house in arcata, which is grossing me out even more in hindsight than at the time, as i build it up in my head as some kind of monster, full of miniscule inedible sausage vittles and cased in saran wrap. i can't get it out of my head, and thus, am currently "off sausage."

max- good god. i am most decidedly 'on' sausage. taylor sausage filled the bun+dog shaped hand food hole in my george foreman seared jet black heart. yes. a warehouse, an eden, of meats. one half an assorted cornucopia of meats that runneth over, the other half devoted only to ground pig and spices in a casing. oh, its intestinal casing? good! am i picking gristle out of my teeth one hour later? fantastico! i relive the glory of my delicious, mind altering meal anew!!1!!(.) i recieved a louisiana hot link and the eponymous taylor dog after clogging the line, stammering and clammy staring at the menu. delightful and refreshing, both. i broke a sweat, as i am wont to do with startling frequency, when i cut my teeth on the hot link. crunchy snap of casing, tickle to burn spiciness, mounted with peppers, onions, mustard. and glory be- the jerky of cow meat blew my mind all over again. pepper encrusted trail beef snack. heres me full mouth mangle translation- 'im gonna save the rest of this for tommorow'. then i finished it. and stopped for more at a roadside stand (with taylor affiliation, natch).

lauren: as soon as i moved to seattle, justin stayed with us and taught us how to make gravy so we could make disco fries. i never impressed myself, and it took a long time, and i hate cooking, and wah wah wah, next thing you know, we're back to pouring from a can. justin, however, in the wee hours before i even entirely awoke, stirred up some pepper gravy, slopped it over home made still warm biscuits, and finished off the plate with perfectly scrambled eggs, before sending us off to san francisco.

max- yeah.

lauren: on the way to san francisco was the first in'n'out of the trip. we were deep into california at this point, and had been starving ourselves waiting. a grilled cheese, cheeseburger, strawberry shake and fries later, i was sated temporarily, my fullness only a reminder that soon, i would hunger, and soon, in'n'out would cure me once more.

max- santa rosa, ca. first coastal purveyor of i'n'o. double double, fries, grilled cheese. standard order. also, lemon water. we filled our water bottles here too. of course- consistent, great fast food, untouchable by any other chain, very affordable, etc. the first of the twin joys of california eating in my greasy mitts.

lauren: one of the first blogs i started reading regularly was, the story of a man on a search to thoroughly evaluate every burrito known to the bay area. this man is tenacious and persistent, routinely going back to places he doesn't even enjoy just as to solidify an accurate rating, including such burrito facets as filling, spiciness, and even burstage abatement. on the top of his list was taqueria cancun, and thus, i knew my first adventure to san francisco would have to include their al pastor super burrito. my. god. first of all, chips with a meal is a constant plus in my book, especially at a wait-in-line vs. sit-down place. the salsa fucked up my world with its sheer heat, and the al pastor. oh, the al pastor. this was unlike any pork i've ever had, in that it was sweet. it still had those delicious crunchy bits, and tender inside bits, and all the other good bits that come from spit-roasting meat, but most remarkably, it tasted as if it was glazed in heaven with brown sugar molasses ambrosia. set against a large amount of creamy avocado, cool sour cream, and spicy salsa, this could well be one of the best burritos i've ever ravaged in all my days. i was sad to see it go, but our host, owen, was to chauffer us to big sur that very night and time was of the essence.

max- the other half of the duo of california highlights is obviously mexican food. if this concept is hard to grasp, i feel sure a phrenological exam would reveal trepanation the only cure for your foolishness. we began our unending intake of mexican at cancun burrito in sfs mission district. i have sampled their wares on previous occasions, so i felt i had a good grip on a standard order- carnitas super burrito. however, the structural integrity of my burrito was compromised when i removed it from its paper holding case to thouroughly examine up close the beauty of its construction. alas, gluttonly turned to frustration as i turned to a fork to eat this goliath. this is no way for a human being to eat a burrito, sirs! the fault, of couse, was mine, but the whole excursion was soured for me with improper handling of my own food stuff. oh, the shame! really, i know how to eat a burrito. i was out of practice. so humiliating. perfectly cooked carnitas- tender, juicy, it handles itself well in my food hole. very hot salsa verde, quite good.

lauren: big sur has probably the most beautiful beach in the world, aside from the dead seal rotting near a cliff that greeted us once on shore. regardless, it's perfect for a picnic and also perfect for a picnic is a tomato, mozzerella and balsamic sandwich from a local cafe, paired with chocolate milk and yogurt covered pretzels. the only stand out thing probably was the sandwich was on this amazing crusty west coast style sourdough that's still relatively new to me. good, but the good taq. cancun left big shoes to fill indeed.

max- my black forest ham and swiss on sourdough (mine not crusty) was adequate. diagonal cut. anti climatic. the sea whets my appetite and i find it shall only be sated by i'n'o or mexican food. forgive me, my vessal. i had forgotten. ( hangs head, single tear drops in slow motion onto fine white sand at bare feet, curtain falls, fade to black, etc ['suck it'- ed.])

lauren: moving on from big sur, we headed south to LA and again ventured into the sacred land of in'n'outs. what an addiction i've developed: crisp fresh fries, thick creamy shakes, epic grilled cheese, and most impressive, the only fast food restaurant that won't give you a massive food hangover. this place is quality, and i know this in my soul.

max- uh huh

lauren: ah, morning in LA. we stayed in a motel near the airport and obligatorily headed down to the contintental breakfast, snacked on cornflakes and subpar juice, and headed out to our REAL breakfast, at Toast. i read about toast in, sarah gim's personal food blog (hi, my name is lauren, and i'm a slashfood addict), and felt a strange, strong urge to make a pilgrimage. my eggs florentine were excellently prepared: perfectly poached globules of egg atop a crusty sourdough and slathered in thick mushroom spinach sauce. on the side, an elaborate exotic fruit salad topped with slivers of starfruit. delicious, and the second time the internet had help up for me in delicious reccomendations. satisfied, we headed off to la brea tar pits.

max- surrounded by perrenial blondes and affected light talkers, we braved the califor nai ay los angeles. la has always been a very spiritual place for me, and as a pair of reality tv show hopefuls, we knew we had found our mecca. perhaps i over estimated this tost butbasil hollandaise sauce over salmon mounted croissants seemed like a good idea at the time. unfortunately, my breakfast was neutered by overly fishy flavors, successfully negating any semblance of delisciousness. how distracting! oh, cruel fate, you have failed me again. perhaps i had failed myself. but the sourdough toast was fine.

lauren: it had been almost a full day since our last mexican meal, so again, back to the internet to sniff out some tacos. again, another blog to which i am faithful (literally, "full of faith"), the great taco hunt, did not disappoint. the second place we went to, el parian, had large fresh grilled flour tortillas and incredibly steaklike carne asada, but lost points with canned salsa, bagged chips, and general not-my-thing-ness. but the first place! oh, el taurino. el taurino, at first bite, leaped into my top two meals of all time. tiny little corn tortillas bursting with crispy and tender al pastor, and juicy shreds of carne asada, topped with salsa roja, cilantro and onions; huge cups full of thick, cinnamony horchata obviously made fresh daily; even max's quesadilla, just cheese between tortilla, was somehow just a little bit more than perfect with every oozy bite sauced with thick guacamole and fresh tomatillo salsa. this was an indescribable experience for the most part, and the best i can do is encourage the world to make a special trip.

max- el taurino- shitfuckpisscunt- real mexican food at last. sure, you can just get by in the northwest, but why? el taurino bestowed science upon me and i knelt at its altar to recieve it. my carne asada taco dripped its juice, anointing my fingers and i crunched into crispy wet edges of al pastor taco dat drips da juice too. salsa unnecessary, but if youre ready to beatify your taco i vote yes. my quesadilla detached from its styrafoam prison with skeins of cheese still shackling it away from my taste buds. i freed it with a tug and dipped it into the salsa verde that burned flavor into my mouth. uh, ok. my horchata was milky with sediment and powder so when the ice melted, i gave it a mix with my straw and had a new drink all over. el parian is supposed to be the shit, i guess. its been around for 40 years and they make their own tortillas on the premises so uh, yeah. but you get pussy footing pico salsa and store bought chips and i already had el taurino so what the fuck? but super tender carnitas and unremarkable carne asada.

lauren: next was breakfast again, in san diego this time. we went to cafe on park, somewhere max knew about from having grown up there. i got a gigantic pancake, eggs, and bacon, all good, but why bother with pancakes? why do *I* bother with pancakes? the world may never know.

max- cafe on park is a cafe on park (avenue). good breakfast, but not mindblowing. some kind of poached egg with hollandaise, probably. why i not eat mexican (rivas) or not eat i'n'o, i dunno? fuck

lauren: lunch in san diego. obviously, mexican food, so we stopped in at pokez. everyone there was hipster trash, and really unsettlingly rude to us. it made my already below average meal worse. god!

max- i used to eat routinely at pokez when i was a student at the nearby prestigious institution of san diego city college (13th grade of coronado high school- ed). i was accompanied by a 'friend' who was cream of the hipperati crop so service was always friendly, prompt, etc. the food was good, as far as i can recall, but my palate had yet to develop into the efficient and finely tuned instrument of joy it is today. on this occasion, i was humiliated. after trumpeting the joys of 619 mexican food to lauren for so long, we breached the surface with a choice based on convenience to our location at time of hunger. the service was rude, dismissive, brusque, overbearing, snappy, and flawed. our order was botched, my beer was never provided, we recieved service long after others who were seated after us, who were clearly compatriots of the hipster employees. my huge taco was flavorless, a directionless jumble of 'mexican' mexican food components. my veggie quesadilla floundered in the shallows, vainly trying to provide culinary entertainment based on its massive size rather than the quality, care, soul of its construction and components. look, normally getting A LOT of food is enough for this reviewer, but the service just amplified the mediocrity of the meal. bullshit. dear pokez- suck it. love, max

lauren: max had to redeem himself, so he took me to this great italian deli/restaurant, mona lisa. wowowow. i had another caprese sandwich, but this was on a really crusty semolina dusted with sesame seeds and liberally doused in balsamic vinegar, and was lightyears beyond the big sur sandwich of days past. furthermore, they had these little amaretto ice cream cups with toasted coconut and a cherry on top that i remember devouring as a kid and haven't seen in about 15 years, and a broad selection of novel italian sodas; and thus, i stuffed my face and contentedly fell deep into a food coma early in the evening.

max- yes, mona lisa. a fantastic and authentic (i would suppose?) deli in little italy near our hotel. we decided to forgo the odd attitudes of staying with the kinfolks and so strayed from our motel six accommodations for an evening stroll. we happened upon the kindness of the italian people in the form of a salami, ham, and coppa sandwich slathered generously with olive oil encased in a crusty sesame seed bread. the amaretto ice cream cup was a perfect complement to my two 24 ounce coors banquet beers as we watched another riveting episode of law and order: special victims unit back in the room. ding ding!

lauren: we gave mexican another shot, this time at la fuente, where max had claimed one of his top five meals of all time (a garlic shrimp burrito) was consumed. my fish burrito was good, but, and even though i despise shrimp (its cell vacuole texture repulses me), max's was better. tons of fat little shrimp bursting with flavor in a garlic cilantro sauce that seeped into every bite. we topped it off with some cinnamon sugar tortilla chips and began the trek north back to seattle.

max- i have eaten at la fuente, a hillcrest mexican mainstay, many times before over the years. on one such excursion, and after listening to a lot of hawkwind, i had my mind blown apart by a shrimp burrito. i never really was able to fit the pieces back together. i almost lost it there for awhile. i decided to come back later the next day (natch!-ed) and get the real shit on the place and yes to my great astonishment, it was still astounding. the shrimp was softish and tasty, the sauce was a buttery, peppery, lemony, garlicky concoction that perks up the tastebuds and although you lose the structural integrity of the tortilla about halfway through, you are provided a fork for just such an inevitable situation. since experiencing this revelation. i had not ordered another item off the menu, and in fact, the taste memory of the other options had faded into the fog of the past, duh. so it was with trepidation that i brought a shrimpless freak to this establishment. she dug it ok. my burrito was as expected- the shit. the deep fried chips with cinnamon and sugar were good car companions on our return trip.

lauren: basically, we drove staight from san diego to portland, with one stop for in'n'out, and one stop for cobbler at a pie stand. both will not be soon forgotten. a thousand hours and many sleep deprived hallucinations later, we pulled into nate's house where he declared he would buy us weary travellers breakfast. it had been many hours and miles since our last meal, and we were more than delirious at this point, but nate always knows best. more than sleep, we needed the cricket cafe. there was nothing more i wanted than, on that chilled rainy northwestern morning, to crawl into a warm bed and sleep for the better part of a millenium; that not being on the menu, i settled for the pancake embodiment of that: oatmeal apple cakes, with bacon. i have no idea if this meal was actually good or not. i have no idea if i even ate this meal or it was a strange fever dream guiding me northwards. honestly, i barely know that i was definitively in portland. the only thing i'm sure of, is that if these pancakes were real, they might as well have been a dream, albeit a dream saturated with butter and syrup (though most of mine are, anyway), but a fitting end to our eating adventure.

max- nate schmoe is perhaps behind all cycles that bind together the cosmic reality we have been known to call life, and i would not be surprised to find him in flowing robes as the great scorer when it comes time to tally up my count in the book of life. i both fear and respect him, mostly. so, when it came time to breakout of my sleep diet visions in p-tizzle , i turned the wheel over to the captain. he would not steer us aground. my plate at cricket was simple, but fiendish in its conception. to wit: an omlettish concoction of eggs, sausage, cheese, mushrooms, laced atop with bacon and covered in gravy. yes. there is nothing to dislike here and the meal took me in its porky arms and enveloped me in the joy of weary food travels and as ben says 'you take pictures of your food, right?'. yeah

you can see more pictures of our trip food here, though be warned, many are of bacon and very few look as good as they taste.

stay tuned for our next (much shorter, i promise) entry, a state by state blow by blow of b b q as we know it.