Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
Having a good 2 months to try and plan a weeks worth of eats was no easy task, especially with all the available burger options in southern California. I started narrowing down my search by categorizing burgers into classic and gourmet. I wound up with Father’s Office and Umami Burger for gourmet, Hodad’s and In N Out Burger for classic. Sadly, we decided to be responsible and only ended up eating at Father’s Office and In N Out.
Oasis and Cool Down
During our beach day in Santa Monica, we decided to take a 2 mile hike from the pier to Father’s Office to “earn” our burger. After worrying about getting seats, we were able to easily grab a table as it was already 2pm. The lunch crowd trickled down, while still holding enough patrons to keep it from being completely barren. Another perk of Father’s Office is that you have to be 21 to enter so no kids or teens.
We ordered 3 office burgers, a basket of sweet potato fries and beer. The burger was served on an elongated sub like bread and topped with a arugula, Gruyere, Maytag blue cheese and a caramelized onion and bacon compote that was something out of a dream I had a few years ago when I decided that I did in fact love onions. We weren’t able to choose how we wanted the burger cooked, but it came out about between a medium and medium well. It was so juicy that I didn’t even care. The burger was delicious and was more filling than I thought. Sadly, the meat patty took a backseat to the compote though I’m sure that it would have been great by itself. Be sure not to skip the sweet potato fries that were crispy and hot without being overcooked, which is what I run into too frequently with sweet potato fries. The fries also came with a garlic aoli that could kill any vampire within breathing distance so have mints or gum handy. Although I won’t say that Father’s Office had the best burger I’ve ever eaten, I will say that the Office Burger was among the top 3 gourmet burgers I’ve tried and would highly recommend it to others visiting LA or Santa Monica.
Artists at Work
Pour Some In N Out On Me!
On the final leg of our trip back in LA, we hit up a few different bars for cocktails before heading back home when Katie decided to be a complete genius and use the late night dining chip on In N Out before we headed back to my friend’s place for the night. This marked my second visit to In N Out ever and the first time armed with knowledge of the secret menu. I ordered a double double animal style and another t-shirt, which I’m still deciding whether or not to wear to work tomorrow. I passed on the fries since I remembered not liking them that much on the first go around. However, after stealing a few from my friend’s, In N Out fries are back in my good graces and will be an option on my next visit. They were crisp, hot and had plenty of fluffy potato goodness in them. The burger itself was a lot greasier than I remembered. The wrapping it came in was turning translucent as Katie was busy snapping pictures, but oh man did that grease translate well into flavor. I’ve never met a juicier thin patty burger and writing these words are making me visibly angry that there are 45 states in this great country that do not have access to a fresh In N Out burger. If a presidential candidate wants the fatty vote, here’s an idea: RUN ON THE IN N OUT FOR ALL STATES party.
My original plan went out the window when I went shopping with Krissie, my twin sister, who was on a mission to get chicken noodle soup ingredients from Stop & Shop. When we passed by the meat section, I happened to spot marrow bones and jumped for joy like the knights who just found the holy grail!!!!! I pretty much couldn’t contain myself, thus resulting in the following:
Shortly after my spontaneous Disney princess like dance party in the supermarket, I went home and put my tripod to good use.
Yes, I am well aware that I look like a complete noob. After seeing this picture, I also realize I should probably find my actual photography lights rather than using my ghetto fab light from college. One fun photography toy I came home to was a light box. It’s still in its shipping package, but I’m hoping to get it moving and shaking for the actual dish tomorrow night. In the meantime, I’m off to soak my marrow bones in salted water.
Though I’m disappointed that I didn’t get my butcher interview, I’m absolutely positive I will have my time to shine with the lamb neck. For now, my grocery aisle dance will have to suffice. Until tomorrow!
Thank Don Henley for my title inspiration. If my intentional lyric change didn’t make it obvious, I’ve been dealing with some marrow woes.
Despite marrow’s fairly recent big ticket item status at bourgie dining establishments, I’ve never attempted to make it myself. The thought alone gets my palms sweaty. I’m not sure why I have so much anxiety about it, but as my dad always says – it is fear of the unknown. My dad is always mostly right, so I’m with him this time. Something about chartering this unknown territory literally terrifies me.
My first marrow memory goes back quite a few years. I was seven years old when my Trinidadian babysitter second mother Jen, a real master in the kitchen, presented lunch to my twin sister, Krissie and me that Tuesday at noon. I’m not entirely sure if it was a Tuesday, but I’d like to imagine it was on one of those early in the week school days. In any case, Jen whipped something together with beef shank and our treat after eating the “normal” meaty goodness was marrow from the bone. As a seven year old, I was most likely skeeved by the idea of eating meat jelly from inside a bone, but Jen was a firm believer in adventures in the kitchen and exposing us youngins to new foods. Not one to disappoint Jen (because I loved and continue to love her), I opened wide and stuck the fork full of marrow in my mouth. I can imagine myself initially chewing very quickly and taking very deep breaths through my nose. What I do remember is that it tasted especially beefy, but the texture was something from a dream. It literally melted in an instant, no quick chewing necessary, and before I knew it, it was gone.
In theory, this should all be very easy. The problem is I am not Jen. I am not a born cook and sometimes when you throw certain things at me, I don’t know what to do with them. In an ideal world, I should be able to very easily buy marrow, soak it, cook it, extract it, and eat it. I’m sure I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill, but this (and figuring out how to record Skype video chats) keeps me up at night.
I look at Daniel on the cover, with his encouraging smile and note these are recipes for the “home cook”, which I suppose is the category I’d fall under. All I have to say is you better be right about this, buddy.
I have a good lead on where to get my bone marrow. I can either:
I’m leaning toward #2 because many smart foodies on Chowhound said this may be a good place to find bone marrow. I did see some others also say Stop and Shop carries it from time to time, but you have to ask the butcher if they have any since they don’t normally showcase it with the rest of the meat.
Choice #1 sounds like a good idea because it may be my cheapest option, but the thought of Chinese women seeing my Asian face and suddenly asking me questions in Cantonese makes me nervous that I’ll end up ordering something I don’t want. For anyone who may not know this, I may look Asian, but I am a twinkie through and through. My dad is Croatian and German and my mom is Italian and Irish. I cannot stress the absence of Asian in me any more than I am right now. Plus, I’m technically Korean. My Chinese boyfriend thinks I look Chinese, which then only drives the point home that my predicted scenario at the Asian grocery store will most likely pan out.
I’m planning on taking a trip to the butcher on Monday. If I have the nerve, I will bring my Flip and try to see if someone can give us some valuable know how on marrow. Until then, I will try to grow a pair.