Nothing says “I love you” like a heart-shaped mound of raw beef, and so to celebrate our friend Alec’s birthday (which falls on Valentine’s Day) we made steak tartare last night using Anthony Bourdain’s awesome recipe. As is our custom, Alec stopped at Burger King on the way over to grab a few FryPods (we are all about high-low over here) and we washed it all down with some Cabernet. And for dessert? Alec and my husband’s favorite chocolate bread pudding with cinnamon custard. What’s not to love?
Posts Tagged ‘french fries’
When I was a kid, Taylor’s Refresher in St Helena was a local’s only roadside stand where you could get a 50-cent corn dog. Sadly Taylor’s was threatening to go the way of the dodo back in ’99 when, by the grace of god, Joel Gott and his brother, Duncan, rescued the joint and turned it into the now-famous and cash cow franchise, home of the $15 ahi burger. (You read that right, $15.) Here’s a snap of one along with some sweet potato fries I enjoyed last Christmas when I was visiting my parents.
Last week the Gotts made the decision, “for legal reasons,” to change the name to Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet. While I totally get them wanting their family name above the door, I hate it (the change that is, not the name). But more than that I am beside myself—like, throw myself into oncoming traffic on Hwy 29 upset—that they have done away with the Green Goddess aioli for the sweet potato fries, which has been replaced by ranch. RANCH! The loss is unbearable. But as another childhood favorite, Crystal Gayle, (and yes, you read that right, too) says, “You never want a sip of water, till the well runs dry. You never miss a real good thing, till he says ‘goodbye.’”
Steak tartare has to be my all-time favorite meal, and my very favorite rendition is one we make at home. Lie. My true favorite, which has more to do with sentiment than flavor, is the super mustardy steak tartare at Brasserie Lipp in Paris, which is the first thing I order along with a glass or two (or a bottle, who are we kidding) of house red upon landing to deal with jetlag. CUT in Beverly Hills makes a mean third-place contender, and uses decadent and fatty kobe beef. Here at home we follow an Anthony Bourdain recipe, which has a gazillion ingredients with everything from cognac to ketchup that add to up to a complexity of flavor that is RIGHT. OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. But the pièce de resistence are the French fries we serve with—hot off the press from Burger King. Yes, I said it. So one night last week I ground up some sirloin, and our friend Alec brought over four frypods from Burger King, along with a pretty ritzy bottle of 2006 Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Genius—and generous, very.
Anthony Bourdain’s Steak Tartare
From Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain
Serves 4-6 as main course
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (28 g)
4 anchovy filets, finely chopped (Foodinista’s note: I sometimes substitute a healthy squeeze of anchovy paste if I don’t have filets on hand.)
2 tsp ketchup (10 g)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (5 g)
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup salad (i.e., corn or soy) oil (56 ml)
1 oz Cognac (28 ml)
1 small onion, freshly and finely chopped
2 oz capers, rinsed (56 g)
2 oz cornichons, finely chopped (56 g)
4 sprigs of flat parsley, finely chopped
1 1/4 lb. fresh sirloin, finely chopped (560 g)
French fries, optional
4 slices fine quality white bread, toasted, quartered, for toast points
Place the egg yolks in a large stainless-steel bowl and add the mustard and anchovies. Mix well, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and pepper and mix well again. Slowly whisk in the oil, then add the Cognac and mix again.
Fold in the onion, capers, cornichons, and parsley.
Foodinista’s note: Bourdain calls for a fine hand-chop of the meat, but on a weeknight I just can’t muster the energy so instead I send it through a meat grinder attached to my KitchenAid mixer. What’s the deal with the saran wrap, you ask? Um, sometimes it can get kind of messy (think Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Enough said.
Then I feed the ground beef through the grinder, which is also pretty gross…
And now back to Bourdain… Add the chopped meat to the bowl and mix well using a spoon or your hands. Divide the meat evenly among the six chilled dinner plates and, using a ring mold or spatula, form it into disks on the plates. Serve immediately with French fries and toasted bread points. (Note, Mr. Foodinista likes to grill the bread instead of toasting.)
In which The Foodinsta is intrigued by a provocative posting she read on Thrillist about a new burger joint, which results in a lunch that is wacko even by LA standards.
Before I launch in here, I do want to say up front that the food at Umami Burger is really quite good. And the service, while totally batty, ends up being inexplicably charming.
Okay. Let’s back up. Met my friends Mary and Leslee for a girls lunch today at the newly—and I mean newly—opened Umami Burger on La Brea.
Once inside, it’s an attractive space with an attractive clientele. The tightly edited menu consists of 10 burgers, and a few sides including fries and a market salad. But, we’re told at 12:45 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, they’ve run out of buns.
Allow that to sink in. At a burger joint. Next we’re told they are out of salad, but have french fries or chili. We ask how long they’ve been open. Since Friday, our server tells us. Who is the chef? Oh, the first chef quit, then the second chef basically had a meltdown and it is unclear whether or not there is a third chef working today. We ask and are told, “I think so.” And when no food appears an hour after ordering, we begin to wonder.
But then our food does arrive and, surprise!, they’ve found buns! We ordered the port and stilton sliders ($8); an Umami burger with amazing homemade ketchup, grilled onions, fried parm, grilled shiitake mushroom, and tomato ($8); a SoCal burger with butter lettuce, “dried” tomato, house spread, house-made processed cheese (yum!), and caramelized onions, which came with soggy if colorful sweet potato chips ($7.50); and a couple sides of fries ($2.50). By the way – the beef patties on all of the above, really flavorful and just plain GOOD. I don’t know how they can make such a great burger and charge so little.
Back to the fries. We got a stack of eight thick-cut french fries on one of the plates along with a spoonful of that amazing house-made ketchup. But when we asked about the rest of our fries, we were informed they’d run out. Of fries.
Which we then sort of forgot about because there was a kerfuffle at the next table where one model-good-looking 30-ish hipster yelled at a 20ish hipster at a neighboring table “Get out of my FACE!” to which the provocateur yelled, “What are you going to do if I don’t?” Our server escorted the offending hipster and his well-heeled girlfriend out of the restaurant, smoothing over the dispute in the parking lot. What the … ? An attractive 40ish woman at a third table huffily got up to leave, passing by our table and pointing to the enormous painting above our table, snorting, “Yeah, Buddha.”
Oh, and they don’t accept Amex.
But regardless, their credit card machine wasn’t working so it was a good thing we had cash (why do I never have cash???). Yet even with all of the madness, our server remained unflappable and, I’m telling you, the burgers are great. So let me know if you brave a visit, and if chef #3 is still holding his—or her?—own. I’ll be heading back with the husband this weekend, if only to confirm that today’s lunch was or was not in fact a special Food Network episode of Punk’d.
Update 2/19/09: For a less frenetic, but every bit as tantalizing, experience, check out Pat Saperstein’s review on Eating L.A. Interestingly they have raised the prices since my Tuesday visit—but we’re talking .50 or $1 on a couple items. I still don’t get how they can produce such a superior burger at these recession friendly prices!