4th Street Market 2 of 2

Man, I had a pretty Santa Ana-y day. Walking the streets of DTSA, admiring local art, 4th Street Market (again), and band practice. Maybe I should just move there.

After a leisurely stroll around, Angela, my companion for the evening, was intrigued by Inc Waffles a.k.a. Ink Waffles a.k.a. Waffles Inc. Depends on which waffle one orders, I suppose. On this occasion, we both happened to get sandwiches on regular waffles.

Angela got the Ratatouille and I the BBELT (blueberry, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato).

Angela got the Ratatouille (with gruyere and sprouts) and I the BBELT (blueberry, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato).

The ratatouille on a waffle concept provoked a bit of a discussion between the two of us. I thought it was “weird,” though she countered that blueberry on a BLT was at least as “weird.” Regardless, both sandwiches worked far better than expected!

The ratatouille was an excellent specimen, so, as you would expect, a very soft experience. Perhaps I can illustrate the total softness of this sandwich with this:  the most textural component was the sprouts. Does that get the point across? Anyways, my irrational weariness aside, it was an excellent dish.

The BBELT also worked well, but this wasn’t quite as surprising to me as both a fruit and BLT enthusiast. And of course no right-thinking person would ever turn down an egg on top of, well, anything, right? Thin bacon and shredded lettuce yielded an overall pleasantly crispy sandwich, and the cooked blueberries were almost more fruitily rich and savory than sweet.

Also of note were the fries, which bore a seasoning suspiciously similar to PFC’s seasoning. Not that I begrudge any (alleged) seasoning powder sharing between food hall neighbors.

The order number buckets made handy beer holders, at least until you have to return them to the cashier. The classic "i haz a bucket"-"no they stealing ma bucket" story.

The order number buckets made handy beer holders, at least until you have to return them to the cashier. The classic “i haz a bucket”-“no they stealing ma bucket” story.

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4th Street Market 1 of 2

This place had been on my list since its opening, and Sam, an old friend, finally becoming available for an outing provided the ideal opportunity to visit.

After a quick walk around the logically arrayed restaurants, PFC’s large trays of fried chicken and Wagyu Chuck’s burgers jumped out at us. I got the burger, and Sam the chicken. Service was (pleasantly) surprisingly quick! We barely had time to try our beers. Or beer, rather. We both got Ritual Brewing’s Wits End.

Sam’s first reaction upon trying the burger was “Oh, that’s just not fair.” I agreed! The balance of components in the double cheeseburger is bang on. Shredded lettuce, well formed and cooked patties, and thin buns make for a soft but hearty burger experience. The patties themselves were by far the most prominently rich burger patties I’ve ever had.

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Even the box reminds one of a certain Socal burger chain…

While the baked potato “fries” are pretty far removed from what I’d call “fries,” they tasted great. I’ll have to try the loaded fries option on another visit.

Really, the only thing I wanted was a nice chocolate shake, but there’s beer available, and the house cola is quite enjoyable for those teetotaler types.

Photo credit goes to my friend.

Photo credit goes to my friend.

One of the main things that drew me to the fried chicken was its appearance. It seemed to be quite dark, but I could tell just by looking that it wasn’t from overcooking. It was, in fact, from an excellent seasoning mixture applied to it. And, as one can see in the picture, the color is noticeably red in the normal light of the eating area. It’s mostly cayenne/paprika/other red powder spice in the nose, but on the tongue it balances sweet and spicy. A wonderful complement to perfectly fried chicken.

Their dipping sauce is also great, but almost superfluous for me.

Honorable mention to the charred corn salad as well! Good corn, lettuce, tortilla chip pieces atop, and quite a generous portion.

And since I had band practice the next night, I went again!

Burntzilla Brick and Mortar Location—Irvine

Week two of voluntary unemployment:  accompanied my mom to a small event at Burntzilla’s newish brick and mortar location in Irvine.

Reasonable prices and excellent food (especially in the fried department)! Pretty much everything except the King’s Hawaiian rolls is house-made here, but you’d almost have to ask if you didn’t happen to notice the short bio to the right of the menu. Speaking of the King’s Hawaiian, it seemed to me that every dish we tried was, in fact, made to use the flavor of the rolls as an integral part. Even the off-menu bread pudding was unexpectedly not overly sweet.

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PB & J, fried chicken, and cheeseburger.

PB & J – peanut butter (peanuts, crushed pretzel, sugar), blueberry jam, and a bit of banana. I think this was the first PB & J I’ve had outside of home. I tend to actively avoid ordering such things in restaurants, but I had a feeling about this place.

Fried chicken – Perfectly fried chicken! Totally crisp outside and juicy inside. Nice gravy and garlic mashed potatoes too. I had to mention that I had that same idea when I was a kid, but I never developed it beyond the mashed potatoes on leftover bread phase.

Cheeseburger – I can only say I wish this was a full size burger! Everything was spot-on. The avocado aioli came through really well, too. Better than most other aiolis I’ve had on burgers.

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Spicy Chili and Yaki Dog(zilla)s.

Spicy chili – Burntzilla was proud to really that they’re just coming off a win at the Tustin Chili Cook-Off! Besides excellent ingredients and a solid recipe, they said that the secret to their success was that it was fresh cooked. For those who don’t know from chili cook-offs, most contestants usually prepare chilis in advance and reheat them for tasting, which obviously does no favors for the flavor of any food. Overall a great dog!

Yaki – Again the starch upon starch theme! Yakisoba (good in its own right) on a high quality hot dog. Not much else that needs to be said about that.

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As aforementioned, the off-menu bread pudding was a nice bookend to our visit.

Though not expansive, the carefully curated menu offers anything and everything one could want for a great, quick lunch.

The sweet tea with strawberry purée would be good with most anything else one orders, and the $9 Golden Combo is a good deal.


14413 Culver Dr. Irvine, CA

burntzilla.com

Angelo’s Drive-In Hamburger

Well, I was quite happy with myself after finding this place on Yelp for me and my friends after my band’s show, but when I told my parents where I was eating, they were all like “Oh yeah we used to eat there years ago.”

That happens to me a lot.

Regardless, a really solid burger! On menu it’s called the “bacon guac cheeseburger,” but really it’s just avocado on there. Which I prefer! The vegetables in a full on guac would prove redundant on a burger, in my opinion.

Blue Moon and Newcastle are about as crafty as the beer list goes, but I can totally live with those. A word of warning, though―a “large” beer here could perhaps be called gauche if it were some beverage other than beer.

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Good fries and an excellent chocolate shake rounded out the drive-in burger experience.

Yelp – yelp.com/biz/angelos-drive-in-hamburgers-anaheim

Beef Palace

Or perhaps I should say BEEF PALACE.

Seriously. This is one of my favorite store names ever.

And the meat is at least as good as the name!

Great service, great meat, and great prices. This is one of the few pre-hipster butcher revival shops in OC. It’s a small store, physically, but the there’s not much else other than meat in it. After taking a good chunk of time surveying the selection, the ribeye jumped out at me. Specifically, the steaks from the smaller end of the muscle that lacked the fat eye. As bon vivant as am (or consider myself to be), I actually prefer that. The steak itself still has all the richness of an excellent ribeye, but it makes a better presentation when served whole on a plate.

I cooked them simply and quickly―salt and pepper a couple of hours ahead, super hot pan, and butter melted atop during resting.

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Served with broccoli and a baguette trencher.

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And, if I do say so myself, near-perfect cooking on my part.

A Day in Little Saigon with Mom

Water is a pretty big deal in our family. We put as much thought and effort into finding a water we like as some people put into buying things like clothes or wine. OC’s various ethnic stores are valuable sources for finding new and exotic waters (usually of the mineral/sparkling variety) for us to try.

Our current favorite, Romania’s Borsec, is a bit of an exceptional case for us. There is but one importer of it in our area, a small supermarket chain called Jon’s, and their only OC location is in Westminster.

It’s a 40+ minute drive for us. We really like this water.

But this was nearly at the end of our list. First on the list was, of course, food.

Brodard Restaurant (9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove)

Brodard is widely known for their nem nướng̣, which I have ordered and picked up on many occasions, but today we took the time to get a table in the actual restaurant. In addition to a plate of out usual NN, we tried another type of shrimp spring roll (fantastic, obviously) and classic egg rolls. We were surprised to see the egg rolls come out in a boat shaped dish!

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Excellent across the board! And, as were paying the bill, we bought some mango slices and salt from a fruit seller who was selling to some Brodard employees.

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After this, we meandered to the south and west, stopping at a some old favorites. Au Cœur de Paris for dessert later that night and Tip Top sandwiches for baguettes.

ACdP's mango mousse cake is excellent.

ACdP’s mango mousse cake is excellent.

We were heading for one of the best-named stores I’ve ever shopped in:  Beef Palace (see link for a full post about all that).

For a final coffee stop before heading home, my mom looked up Lynda Sandwich. I ended up trying their excellent shredded chicken bành mì as well. The sauce was almost adamantly peanut-y!

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Apparently this place is owned by a pop singer, which would (could?) explain the wall of signed headshots and the old-school Hollywood memorabilia.

Paris Day 8 (September 8) (I swear I thought I posted this ages ago)

When I first found Square Georges Cain, I was very intrigued by all the edible produce growing among the decorative flowers and bushes. I meant to research it, but time slipped away until I ended up leading about it at the Musée Carnavalet. During WWII, gardens like Square Georges Cain were used to grow produce. Today there are just a few chard plants and squash vines in Georges Cain, but people still eat them, as was evidenced by the cut chard stems. My other question was, as you might imagine, who gets to eat this produce?

The answer to this question came when I stopped by the square to use the free Paris wifi. The wifi at the apartment was being stupid, so I had to my morning research and all the in the park. Hardly even a nuissance.

There were three groundskeepers doing their thing—keeping the grounds and all that—in a discussion with two other guys. I couldn’t make it out from the bench in far corner, but the upshot is that the two non-groundskeeper guys walked away with some very nice squash that was picked right then for them.

Now I don't want to say it wasn't necessary for all the groundskeepers to gather around and moderate the proceedings, but two of them did take the opportunity to have a smoke.

Now I don’t want to say it wasn’t necessary for all the groundskeepers to gather around and moderate the proceedings, but two of them did take the opportunity to have a smoke.

My Aunt met me there and we went to Ladurée for lunch.

But you know, whatever.

But you know, whatever.

Comedic understatement aside, Ladurée was pretty much perfect. I adhered to their no photo policy, so the only online proof I have that I actually went there is that picture. I guess something CAN actually happen even if I don’t post about it!

Anyways, I had the Monday special, steak tartare. When I ordered, the (I assume) well-meaning waitress asked “Euh, you know, is not cooked, right?” Yes, I knew. We have steak tartare in the US too. Nothing like Ladurée’s, of course. It was served with their pommes Pont Neuf, which are basically big frites, served in a cross-hatched stack on a separate plate. Also perfect.

Even the little chocolates that come with the receipt are fantastic, and I had the best café au lait of my life. All in all, a productive visit.

This day turned out to be a sort of double pilgrimage day with the proceeding stop at E. Dehillerin. I won’t publish exactly what I got because some of it is a gift for my mom, but I will say is was knives, because what else would I get there?

Here, have a picture of the storefront instead.

Here, have a picture of the storefront instead.

It was cool to see all the same knives my mom has from 30 years ago still being made and sold like it’s no big deal, and of course it’s a cool place overall.

This was a relatively quick and practical stop, but afterwards we continued on to BHV, a French department store. Very cool! There was even a craft beer display, and this Hardcore IPA jumped out at me.

9.2% ABV!

That ABV is a little hardcore for an IPA.

At this point it had been basically 9 days since my last Stone IPA, so I was craving an that kind of flavor—grapefruit, hops, bitter—and this beer actually delivered! It was a bit cloying, but great other than that.

BHV’s hardware section also yielded a cool “SORTIE” decal for my kick drum head.

We were oddly not so hungry after all that shopping, and a crêpe sounded just about perfect for dinner this night. A small time investment to scour the area around our apartment turned up La Cidrerie du Marais.

La Basque - jambon de Bayonne, tomato and bell pepper-y sauce, buckwheat crêpe.

La Basque – jambon de Bayonne, tomato and bell pepper-y sauce, buckwheat crêpe.

I’m not usually super into whole grain things, but the crêpe was just a small part of the dish. The cider was excellent too!