Local, Grass-Fed Chevre Burgers At Humboldt Brews

I found myself at Humboldt State University over this last 4/20 weekend. No, not for the reason you are thinking, it was for a fencing tournament. Actually, The 5th Annual Redwood Coast Assault of Arms, an official national tournament held by the Historical Fencing Association. Along with seven other of my Salle Lancier (Pasadena City College’s fencing club) colleagues, we were invited to come up to defend the name of our lovely community college.

Well, most of us ended up getting slaughtered. Literally too, as was apparent by the epees this school of fencing uses, the tips actually have three sharp little teeth that are made to “cling on to your clothing” and create an “uncomfortable feeling.” Unlike the electricity-assisted, sport version of the dueling weapon sport that is more popular and made it to Olympic status that only has a flat screw top.

historical fencing epee tip
These dudes are hardcore.

There are only two cool things that came out of this trip. First, enjoying the edible splendors of their hippy student market (it hast stuff like crystallized ginger sheep’s milk yogurt and puffed sorghum “popcorn,” available daily?!) Second, eating and drinking at Humboldt Brews.

market goods
Pre-Fencing Breakfast of Champions

Humboldt Brews is disguised as the local collegetown pub but it’s the pride and joy of the city of Arcata really. And while the rest of the 20+ fencers that participated in the tournament feasted like lumberjacks at the local historic restaurant, Old Samoa Cookhouse for the dinner reception, I asked to get dropped off and go solo at Humboldt Brews for a burger and a beer. As soon as I walked in, I knew my anti-social decision was the correct one. I sat at the bar and the cook had long hair, wore shades and was listening to “Iron Man” at a decibel level that would rival that of a metalhead cooking lunch on his day off.

I opted for their “Shroomers Delight” burger: 1/3 lb Humboldt grass-fed beef, roasted red peppers, sautéed mushrooms, a thick smear of Cypress Grove local chevre on soft buns with a steak knife stabbed in it. The meal came with mixed greens, tomato, red onion and their “Pub Fries,” which is basically their own unfussy rendition of fresh-cut Pomme Frites, for about $12.

last burger pic

The burger was bomb. Under seasoned, but in a consciously healthful way. Since well, grass beef doesn’t need much salt. Unsurprisingly, their medium rare was more “well” done than rare. The buns were amongst the softest I’ve had, as far as burger standards go. But all this just digresses from the fact that there was a thick, white, opaque dollop of local Cypress Grove chevre on a freaking burger. Chevre is the missing link on burgers. It works double shift; soft and creamy enough to replicate what a mayonnaise or aioli would do, and richly flavored enough to satisfy that tangy richness that a slice of cheddar or any other hard cheese would impart. The mushrooms and peppers were ample as well, barely cooked and unmushy.

To further the heavy metal feeling of the dinner, I washed the beast down with a “Back in Black” Black IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. I am in the “Black IPA” phase of a budding beer enthusiasts at this moment and this was by far my favorite. It’s just something about the corequisite flavors of malt and hops in the same cup of beer, for the beer geek that wants it all.

The meal set me back only $17 and it turned out that the bartender is close friends with the owner of Cypress Grove cheese, yes creator of Humboldt Fog cheese. She informed me that the owner “was a single mom who did every step of the process by herself,” including driving down to San Francisco and distributing her cheese weekly. And that she recently, “sold her company for millions to Swiss dairy.”

Well, I may have not discussed the subtleties of an inquartata fencing pose with the rest of my fencing adversaries but I did eat one of the best damn burgers of my life thus far.

Humboldt Brews

856 10th St. Arcata, CA 95521

707.826.BREW

 

Gary Robins spotted cooking Oktoberfest food at Biergarten; Burgershnitzel! (Available today and next weekend only)

Chef Gary Robins seems to be the Where’s Waldo? of the Los Angeles and New York food worlds, just when you find him and finally taste his thoughtfully tasty food, he disappears. And, just as in Martin Handford’s Waldo series, we never know where the colorful main character will end up next.

Hell, he left Moko just a week after Jonathan Gold and I ( happened to write him up on the same freaking day too, haha) wrote him up. I was first impressed by his pretty bad ass fooding skills when he did his little pop up at Georgio’s Cucina. His food is, well, how shall I say…thoughtfully structured and deftly executed? Which seems to make for food that is foolhardy but yet somehow always spot on. He seems to adapt pretty damn well to whatever cuisine is placed before him. Well, at least the two (polar opposite) ones I have been fortunate to try myself.

This last weekend the unsung hero did a weekend warrior’s rendition of a pop up at Biergarten. And thanks to the burger “connect” homie Eddie Hah, I was informed about this earlier in the week and planned to show up to see what the guy had up his sleeve this time around.

I was rolling deep with the rest of YMFB (Young Money Foodbloggers yo!,) Garrett Snyder of Los Angeles Magazine and Los Angelicious Times foodblog. We showed up at around one in the afternoon to an unfortunately empty dining room.

First things first, we each got a beer. They tapped into a couple of Oktoberfest-style Dunkel German beers and we immediately spotted them on the menu and zeroed in for the thirsty kill. I went for Hacker Pschorr seasonal rendition of the celebratory Marzen, not as heavy as say, an Optimator but still as satisfying in the way only a German beer that is brewed in accordance to Reinheitsgebot, the German Beer Purity Law is, always palatable. As we banged our frosty glasses hard in cheers, Garrett informed me of the German tradition of looking dead straight into the other person’s eyes as you did this or else you would get seven years of bad sex; we basically had a staring competition at this point.

The guy actually remembered me and decided to send out a couple of his tater creations to supplement his “Shnitzel Burger” that Garrett and I decided to try.

Kartoffelpuffer
Kartoffelpuffer: German Potato Pancakes with Williamsbire cured Atlantic Salmon

Truffle Rosti
Truffle Scented Rösti: [Mashed] truffled potato pancake with air dried ham, ginger crisp, mixed chicories

The German potato pancakes got the traditional Robins treatment, keeping true to the essence of the original dish but chef-ing it up just enough to add a delightful twist. The rectangular Kartoffelpuffer looked and crisped up like his Korean Jeon pancakes at Moko. It was a tad saltier than I would had liked but the sashimi-like salmon topping the perfect hash brown pancake made up for it.

The latter pancake was similar but even a little more golden brown and delicious with a creamier center. They reminded me of a fancier truffled version of those hashbrown tater tot things from Burger King…in a good way.

Wurst at Biergarten
Niman Ranch Wursts: Grilled Venison with sour cherries and sage; Weiss wurst with Riesling, Lambic and Green Chilies

Also in traditional Robins style, they made everything from scratch. From their Bavarian pretzels to their hand-straddled custom sausages, just for this dining event. He sent out his two fleshy creations for us to try by themselves but they are traditionally served on a roll for a complete meal. Both were juicy as hell but of course my favorite was the venison one. Leaner and more flavorful like only Bambi meat could be.

Shnitzel Burger
Wiener Burgershnitzel!: Lightly breaded [pan- fried] ground Niman Ranch veal, red onion marmalade, Sarugula and [caper] remoulade on toasted potato buns

Not surprisingly, the burger was the most complex and amazing thing on the menu. After all, esteemed 8 oz. chef, Eddie Hah, is the main cook any other day at Biergarten. The breading was brown, crispy and non-greasy. In fact, the breading was so light, when poked with a fork, the ground veal’s translucent juiciness exuded through the stuff. It was hella delicious with every burger element covered, a rich, full flavored cheese, skillfully cooked meat, a tangy dressing and accoutrement and even some esoteric, peppery greens.

The $12 price tag for this monstrously delicious burger is actually a bargain when you take into account that the juicy veal is all from Niman Ranch. It will fill you up good too.

Garrett and I were pretty freaking stuffed and mildly buzzed by the end of the heavy meal. Garrett spent some time studying abroad in Germany and said the food was not too different than the type of stuff you ate over there. As always, I did not feel let down and will be looking forward to whatever cuisine or restaurant he cooks up next. I hope Los Angeles will finally start to realize and appreciate his food before it’s too late and we end up with yet another great chef lost to the East Coast!

Oktoberfest at Biergarten
Happening again on October 1st and 2nd
206 North Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 466-4860
Open for lunch

The Glutster Burger Featured as Best “Fusion” Burger in Los Angeles Magazine!

best ethnic inflenced burger
Not a bad way to be welcomed back to your hometown, right?

Home, sweet home…kinda. Ok, so I left my heart in el rancho, drenched in freshly-extracted pulque along side thick, homemade tortillas. But until I man up and realize my subconscious dreams of moving to el rancho myself. Me tengare que aguantar! (I’ll bite my maseca-based tortilla tainted lips!)

In other news, I broke my five day internet fast to find out that the burger that has been cursed with my title actually won “best fusion burger” on LA Magazine!


Our favorite ethnic-influenced variation is The Glutster burger at Biergarten in Koreatown. Cocreated by blogger Javier Cabral (aka the Glutster), the all-pork slab is joined by guac, pickled onions, epazote aioli, chipotle black beans and fried green tomato slice on a King’s Hawaiian sweet roll.”

Yees! Pretty awesome right?

But none of this would had been possible without the excellent burger’ing skills of Eddie Hah, so a huge thank you to him!

Eddie and his Chosun One
Eddie Hah: The Burger Maniac

Now, to go celebrate by eating one, or two with a beer or five.

the glutster money shot
The Glutster Burger

The magazine is out now so go out and buy one! Or else, just wait until the internet version is available on the Los Angeles Magazine website

cheers!

Mariscos Las Islitas in Stockton, California: Rocksteady Dining while On Tour with The Delirians II

It was the second day of the tour and we found ourselves in the middle of “Buttfuck Egypt” as Angel Salgado, The Delirians singer called it. Its true, the lonely streets of Stockton may not be the premiere central California destination but at least you can find some semi-decent Nayarit style Mexican seafood.

Delirians Brunch Picnic
Picnic Brunch with The Delirians!

Earlier that day, we partook in an extremely delightful picnic brunch in front of our lovely Motel 6, courtesy of governor Arnie himself. I oversaw and planned the menu, it included entrees like Laura Schudder’s peanut butter and raw blueberries on whole wheat bread with Almond Milk, veggie tray, baked Tostito’s and black bean salsa. “Hey, you down to be The Delirians official chef or what?” said Jo Quiñones, the the smokin’ bassist of the band, haha. But now it was time for a hot dinner before the show.

bienvenidos a su vitamina
Bienvenidos A Su Vitamina

While the majority of the band members drank 32’s and recuperated before the set, Cuca, Carlos and I went out and explored the city a bit. Unfortunately everything was pretty dead, even on a Saturday afternoon! Luckily though, our randomly chosen motel for the night happened to be next to this attractive mariscos joint. “There are more than six cars in the parking lot, it can’t be that bad, trust” I explained to Cuca and Carlos.

Sooner than we knew it, we were sat and pounding Modelo’s as we waited for our Pescado Sarandeado. “Awh dude, I LOVE ostiones, let’s just get it, its on me!” said an excited Carlos when he saw the attractive “Ostiones Preparados” on the menu. Something about ordering raw oysters in the middle of Nor. Cal. didn’t sound good to me, especially with the huge disclaimer on the menu basically saying if we die, it is not their fault. It didn’t help that half a dozen went for $20+ on the menu. But like I said in my earlier post…sometimes you just gotta say fuck it!

ostiones preparados
Ostiones Preparados at Mariscos Las Islitas in Stockton

The oysters came in their full briny, glory, topped with a tablespoon of gunpowdery, chile-de-arbol salsa, cubed pepino, a couple of chewy, chopped octopus fragments and one butterflied shrimp. It looked expecially plump and pink atop the black and chalky oyster. I like to think the jet-black liquid that seeped out into the plate and stained your fingers worse than a leaky pen was natural for an oyster. And with a squeeze of lime, I engulfed it whole. Salud! “You all know that oysters make you wanna do it, right?” said Carlos. Luckily, we did not share the same bed that night….

pescado sarandeado
Pescado Sarandeado at Mariscos Las Islitas

Almost an hour later, our main course had arrived. Pescado Sarandeado is a whole, grilled fish that is marinated in a red chile sauce. I’ve tried some in the beaches of Ensenada, Vallarta and even found an astonishingly delicious version in L.A. Suffice to say, the version at Mariscos Las Islitas was good, definitely not the best, but awesome for Stockton standards I’m sure. We got three pounds worth of the fish, it was slightly charred but didn’t really taste of wood and smoke. The flesh was mealy but when combined with the chunky salsas and fresh pepinos, it was pretty bomb. I was just grateful to eat some hot food and seafood.

The meal turned out to be pretty expensive actually, more than $60 if I remember correctly, so that sucked. But if that is the premium to pay for semi-fresh seafood in Stockton so be it.

Later on that night, the Delirians played at the Plea For Peace Center along side the swaying east coast ska sounds of The Forth Right. No one really showed up but better for us, we all left early and had a midnight snack of In-N-Out where I had my first ever animal style fries (extra crispy of course)!

DSC_0090
Role Call Group Shot at The Plea For Peace Center in Stockton

Anthony tearing it up
Anthony Medina (Keys) Devouring a 3×3 Right Before Going to Bed

post show snack
You Never Forget Your First: My Extra-Crispy Animal-Style Fries at the In-N-Out in Stockton.

Mariscos Las Islitas
319 S Wilson Way
Stockton, CA 95205
(209) 938-0939

In-N-Out Burger
2727 West March Lane
Stockton, CA 95219-6572
(800) 786-1000

The Tables Have Turned! A Collection of Reviews on My “Glutster” Burger at Biergarten From Fellow Bloggers

So, as you all may have heard, I recently had a burger named after me at Biergarten, an awesome Korean-German Gastropub in Koreatown L.A. Now, If you hadn’t had the chance to go try it, you are lagging it, go try it now! Seriously, Eddie Hah must had done something right because I haven’t heard one single complaint yet! Well, except having “too much Guacamole” from my ex-brother-in-law, haha.

In the meantime, here are a few honest reviews from fellow blogger homies to hold you over…

5682550038_e9b691d30b_z
Caroline On Crack Ate Me

Caroline on Crack called my burger “great”, [liking] [the] “spiciness and the creamy guac… accompanied with a bit of tang from the pickled onion and even char on the pork! She even goes as far as saying [it] “almost tasted homemade.” Although, she doesn’t recommend eating me “on a first date.” haha.

biergarten4theglutster
The Minty Ate Me

The Minty ate me as well. Although she was a bit skeptical at first due to the excessive use of high-calorie toppings of it all, she admitted “It was…good. Great, even! Yummy! I was surprised. And people eating the Glutster around me were also happy with their burgers.”

05042011-150291-biergarten-glutster
The Glutster Deconstructed on A Hamburger Today

The hamburger foodblog by Serious Eats, “A Hamburger Today“, indulged in me as well. Calling it a burger with a “delicious melange of Mexican flavors.”

And last but not least, my close friend and now successful ice cream entrepreneur Mattatouille featured my burger in his blog post titled “Good Things I’ve Eaten Lately.” Calling Biergarten’s new menu “the most exciting thing happening in Koreatown at the moment.”

Well, there you have it! If you get a chance to try it, please let me know what you think in the comment board.

Cheers!

The “Glutster” Burger Now Available in New Menu at Biergarten Tonight! Eat Me Now!

menu shot
Outta Nowhere!!!!!

1. Have a burger named after me.

Well, I can now scratch “having a burger named after me” off my bucket list. Yup, I can pretty much die a–very satiated–happy man now. There is now A BURGER NAMED AFTER ME at Biergartenahhhhhhh raaaaaza!

I’ve met some pretty awesome people along this long and winding journey of food writing self-discovery I took up back when I was 16. Although, I have learned–the hard way–that this industry thrives on fake and thirsty personalities, I have made some genuine lifelong friends that have all taught me so much. Eddie Hah is one of those homies.

Some of you may remember him from the post I did on him last year, hyping up his very own special burger at 8 oz Burger on Melrose. He comes from the lineage of the late Korean restaurant Sa Rit Gol, what many touted to be the best Korean place in L.A. And well, thanks to him, what started out as jocular late night texting is now…a full-fledged, meaty and balanced reality.

the glutster money shot
The Glutster Burger: Pickled Oregano-Onions, Epazote Aioli, Fried Green Tomato, Guacamole, Chipotle-Black Beans with an ALL-PORK Patty.

I present to you The Glutster: Eight juicy ounces of 100% pure charred ground pork loin, stratified with oregano-spiked, crisp-pickled onions, a thick and creamy Epazote-scented Aioli, a spread of Chipotle-laced black beans, two slices of fried green seasoned tomato and to finish the 2nd generation Mexification of it–a scoop of chunky, fresh Guacamole. All sandwiched between two toasted, soft, sweet and King’s Hawaiian burger buns.

For those of you that know me, you all may be smiling right now because you know that this is indeed a DIRECT homage to the way I eat. I didn’t call myself the GLUT-ster for nothing eyyy. I found out of my freakishly fast metabolism at an early age in life so basically, everything I cook for myself at home usually ends up being something stupidly ginormous like this, haha. Yes, with a giant mishmash of flavor-intensive simple ingredients like this as well.

And the bottom line? Well, bomb of course! I thought up of it! (burgers named after you do wonders for your low self-esteem apparently). Think of a glorified torta, one made with perfectly-balanced quality ingredients. In true nostalgic fashion, this burger reminds me of my fast-food driven childhood. I was skeptical at first, but the sweet buns really work awesomely with the burger. It reminds me of that flavor when the sweet ketchup adhered to the bread, remember?

My immortalization between two buns–along with many other interesting German-Korean bites–is part of the revamped new menu at Biergarten launching tonight (soft opening). Its a collaborative burger-fueled effort between Eddie Hah and Jacob Wildman (equally-abled burger bad ass formerly of 8 oz as well, Spago). Other chingon dishes include “German Fried Rice” (Kolbasa Sausage, Sauerkraut, Fried Egg, Dunkel Gravy; $9), “Pig Frites” (Korean Marinated Pork Loin, Fries, Celery Root Slaw; $14), grilled-chilled shrimp in Remoulade sauce, a new spin on the Korean classic Gol-bang-ee Muchim (Snail-Rice Noodle Salad with Chili but with fried snails instead!) and yes of course, the return of Eddie’s own “Chosun One” tasty Korean-fangled burger.

So come by and eat me tonight!

Biergarten
206 N Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Neighborhood: Wilshire Center
(323) 466-4860

New burgers all available starting at 5 PM tonight for $10-$11 each.

Disclaimer: Money cant buy you real burger love! I DID NOT PAY Eddie Hah, Biergarten or any one to make this happen!

Bonding Over Burgers & Beer: 8 oz

bonding over burgers and beer

It was Friday night, Fernando Lopez had just closed up shop at his restaurant and I was in dire need of calories after my Friday night fencing club session. The homie Eddie Hah had been wanting to hang out for a while now and he surprisingly wasn’t working the line tonight.

To bad we had to bring ’em back to his dear but rigorous avocation.

8 oz

8 oz Burger is the beefy pride of Govind Armstrong. A chef of Iron Chef fame who was once a a judge at top chef.

The place was mad cracking on a Friday night with a wait of half an hour to 45 minutes. We had to wait just like everyone else. Inside, the place was sprawling with the combined inaudible clamor of guys trying to impress girls and rambunctious dudes just having a trago. The bar stays open until 2 AM and they had done 600 covers in one day last weekend.

ambiance shot

To make time fly by, Eddie insisted on getting a classic Sazerac. His favorite, probably due to the unique complexities of the two different bitters used along with an absinthe rinse. And of course…we were seated shortly–I think–thereafter.

kobe corndoggies
Kobe Corn Doggies

The delicious onslaught was imminent. Our first conversation we had was a long and drunken conversation about how they made everything in-house. And the conversation was to continue as we each ordered a pint of California Telegraph White Ale to accompany our American Wagyu Corn Dogs. “The batter isn’t as sweet as the county fair’s and the violet mustard is made with white wine and purple mustard seeds, pretty complicated”. Well, I’m pretty sure that the fair’s wieners weren’t slightly game-y neither. Yum.

escarole ceasar
Escarole Caesar

I like to think that having every burger on the menu is ok before having some salad first. The Caesar is made with tender Escarole here with an acquired saltiness. I think the two thick anchovy fillets on the side of the plate have something to do with that.

haricot verts
Duck Prosciutto w/ Honey Truffle Vinaigrette
: A Table 8 Favorite

Eddie had told me that the dressing was a bit overwhelmingly sweet but the duck Prosciutto and toasted hazelnut duo just seemed to interesting to pass up. Well, it was sweet, but the truffle essence seemed to help it out. I wouldn’t mind getting this again.

grilled artichoke
Grilled Artichoke W/ Herbed Aioli

I’ve always seen Grilled Artichokes on endless food shows, I was always intrigued by how they pulled each petal and ate the meaty root part. I found the flavor to be somewhere close to a corn flavor. I basically ate this whole thing and saved the aioli for future use through out the meal.

grilled cheez
Grilled Cheese w/ Short Rib, Bel Paese and Onion Marmalade

A rec from blogger Mattatouille to Fernando, he wasn’t wrong. Utmost pleasure in every bite, oozing with that buttery Italian cheese, thin, crispy and meaty.

chicken pot pie croquettes
Chicken Pot Pie Croquettes

Tasted exactly like it sounds. Crispy and piping hot, I asked him if was gravy was roux based. He confirmed yes. This was served with a Paprika sour cream but I wasn’t able to taste the correlation between the pairing here other than just having something cold and creamy to dip hot fried stuff in.

hot wings
Hot Wings: Flaming Hot Flavored

The wings were wings, quite succulent with a nice spicy vinegary kick. Enjoyed a nibble or three.

stout battered onion rings
Stout Battered Rings

It was time for the official burger sides finally. Lately, I’ve been getting excited over onion rings whenever I see them on a non-franchise menu. I was a late bloomer with the stuff I guess. Here, they were not offensive but not amazing neither. They simply just did the job. “It could be worse” said Eddie, acknowledging this.

parm truffle fries extra crispy
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Kennebec Fries: Extra Crispy With Truffle Oil Glaze

Having just eaten some the overrated Pomme Frites at Wurstküche in the same week, I was vastly satisfied with this variety and preparation here, WAY better. Kennebec’s have a firm and bright potato flavor, and they stay firm and crispy a little longer than other spuds. Eddie goes on and rants about a couple of times when the purveyors accidentally bring Yukon Gold’s, getting mushier almost immediately even after the first blanch in oil. The truffle glaze and fried parsley specked papitas won the ring vs. fry battle this time around.

pork burger

It was finally time for the damn burgers. I’ll start off with my number one thing I look for: The Buns! Here, they alternate using a thick-skinned, buttery Brioche and a standard but indifferent sesame bun that they get from the nearby Melrose Bakery. We got pretty much every burger they had. The standouts being three only, the Pork Burger was the tables favorite. Juicy and the lightest tasting out of all the bunch actually. Topped with a kitschy coleslaw that added nice contrast.

8 oz with "Melrose" setup

Per Eddie’s recommendation, we got the house special 8 oz with the “Melrose setup”. Basically, this meant getting arugula, garlic roasted tomatoes and red onion jam instead of the “special sauced” house burger. The patty consisted of sirloin, tri-tip, short rib and chuck. The beef itself had a chunky texture in the mouth but came together when you bit the whole thing.

veggie burger

My favorite though was the Estancia. Grass fed beef with heirloom tomato ketchup, charred escarole and roasted mushrooms. We got this baby rare and still bloody. I enjoyed the most bites from this one. Perhaps because it was the leanest and most cleanest tasting out of all the beef, and I always like that minute gamieness that grass beef has. An honorable mention also goes out to the lamb burger, with harissa and a cool raita. But at that point I was burger’ed the hell out.

house made sorbets

Don’t worry, this hedonistic meal is almost over. A few scoops of their house made sorbets couldn’t had tasted fresher after eating everything off the menu. A cool, Mint Julep flavor and coconut ginger flavor being the ones I devoured. Yes, I still devoured this.

Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding w: Espresso Whip
Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding Anyone?

But of course, this is the Glutster. And the meal would not be complete without a whole serving of bread pudding made out of a ton of krispy kreme donuts made into a dessert. Served with an espresso whipped cream, this tasted exactly like a breakfast of donuts and coffee.

We capped off the night with a nice Hennepin, a medium bodied fruity British golden ale. Why not?

Hennepin Eddy
Thanks Eddie

Now if everyone excuses me, I think I’m gong to go eat some sprouts and iceberg lettuce for dinner.

8 oz.

www.8ozburgerbar.com

7661 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046-7442
(323) 852-0008