Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Food over....California - Part I

While the blog is usually taken up with our culinary take on everything in London, it's good to get out now and again. Especially escaping the snow and rain to sunny California with warm weather..and most importantly some excellent food!

Esaus cafe
Esau's Cafe on Urbanspoon

One of the main reasons I was looking forward to going to California is breakfast... and portion sizes. I've been brought up on plates with enough food to feed 3 let alone one, so I knew I would fit into the US style of eating quite well. On a miserable sunday morning, we needed somewhere substancial to eat before a long drive up Highway 1 all the way to San Fran. Thankfully, since most places seemed deserted, a security guard pointed us in the direction of his favourite place 'Esaus cafe'. A clear surfer's hangout from all the 'boards hanging up on the ceiling, it's clear it was this was a favourite for most of the locals as well who had descended in here from the deserted streets. For breakfast, well there is choice, choice, and some extra choice on the side. Meat and eggs (all the varieties) pancakes, mexican breakfasts, english breakfasts. The table next to us order a huge burrito with mounds of guac and rice. It's only 10am not sure I can manage what would normally be dinner at this time. Check out their menu

I opt for a 'conservative' 3 pancakes bacon and eggs, little did I know the pancakes would be the size of dinner plates, completely dwarfing anything of the like you get back in the UK. These buttermilk beauties were awesome, and with a whole jug of maple syrup to myself, probably not what the doctor ordered. With a whole plate of eggs on the side aswell and bottomless coffee, I was waddling away back to the rental car in deep satisfaction. If you are passing through and need somewhere to have breakfast I thoroughly recommend here.

Dripping in all that SSAAWWCCE

Ike's place
Ike's Place on Urbanspoon

I couldn't have gone to the US without trying at least one of the Man Vs Food place's, after hitting San Fran I look up Ike's place, a shine to the sandwich. I like sandwiches, but wouldn't normally travel far but Ike's seemed to have enough of a reputation to justify the mission to Castro, and even managed to persuade a veggie along for the ride. 

Saturday lunchtime the queue is snaking out of the door, but doesn't take long until we get to the counter and order up a 'Damon Bruce', with rib eye, steak sauce, beer battered onion rings and provolone in some sourdough. My veggie friend had the 'Meatless Mike' for what he would later describe as 'The best sandwich he has ever eaten'. True praise. With your choice of sandwich you can add extra red onions, pickles, peppers, jalapenos for FREE, but far away from MvF culture I stick with just extra red onions, they even throw in a bag of crisps as well. For those extra greedy there is seamlessly limitless additions. 

It truly is a masterpiece of all sandwiches from the crusty sourdough through to the dirty secret sauce, the crunch of fresh lettuce and red onions, beer battered goodness of the onion rings soaking up the steak sauce, cutting through the marvelous meat of the ribeye, just wow. The attention to detail of the different layers is outstanding. It hurts writing this knowing it's soo far away. 
Really doesn't do it justice

Stinking Rose
The Stinking Rose on Urbanspoon

There are very few places which are a homage to garlic, such as the stinking rose, to leave your customers stenching of the cloved allium. While garlic to many condurs up unsavourable thoughts, after all it can be very pungent in large quantities, it can carry dishes and add a real of flavour to something that would otherwise be bland and characterless. The stinking rose isn't going to win any awards for culinary expertise, or be an ideal first date place, but it is good fun with a vibrant atmosphere. For those vampires amongst you, there is even option to forgo garlic, but they may also drive you away with holy water.
We set the prescedent early on devouring about 3 bulbs worth of cloves between us of the roasted garlic with olive oil and anchovy mopping up any excess with focaccia. The braised shortrib was good, but I had serious food envy of my friends HUGE 'small' tureen of steamed clams. 

Memphis Minnies's @memphisminnies
Memphis Minnie's on Urbanspoon

Memphis Minnie's is an all smoke and no mirrors, barbeque diner. Forget cooking on gas, these guys are smoking. In the back of the kitchen lies 'Olivia' a massive smoker where 'the magic happens' fed on white oak which is lined up at the back door. From ribs, to brisket and chicken there is a lot going on here, with choices of meat coming with 2 sides, or for the especially carnivorous there is option to order meats by the pound. Luckily our vegetarian friend wasn't put off and thoroughly enjoyed his mac'n'cheese with sweet potatoes. The only nearest thing we have to this in London is Pitt Cue Co (read our review here)

Check out the smoke rings on the ribs and brisket on the pics below, says it all, awesome. While I had the beef ribs which were really meaty, the brisket was absolutely amazing. The meat is smoked with their dry rub, no extra sauces, and I like my meat lathered in dripping juices but after a generous application of their homemade BBQ and chilli sauces it really brought it all together.
They really know how to do things in these parts

Beef Ribs
Beef brisket with pit smoked beans

Tru' dat

Stay tuned for even more in Part II from Shahz.

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