Friday, February 20, 2009

Blog Business

Mystery Eater says...

Per an anonymous tip in the comments, Clayfood was reviewed by another local blog! Described as "know[ing] his stuff" and "[f]un to read, adventurous."

Also, for your food-viewing pleasure, some quality Clayfood photos . . .

Go Clayfu! And thanks readers!

Boomerang's Gourmet Burger Joint (San Diego)

We have now arrived at Burger Spot #2. What an exciting countdown this has been so far =P. I wanted to try something different, if I wanted a plain burger with standard bun and fixing (aka Hodad's and it's brethren) I'd go to In&Out and get food similar in taste but faste rand cheaper. So when I heard about the Coldstone of burgers Boomerang's I had to try it.

The "specialty" of Boomerang's is that you pick your style of meat (turkey/beef for mixing), weight, then you pick your MIXERS. The rest of the meats the mixes are not put inside but a TOPPING.

When I was in High School man moons ago (wow has it been that long...) my mom used to pack an occasional home made burger for us. It'd be chinese toast (YUM) with a slice of cucumber, tomato, some ranch dressing and a home made patty. THe patty would be filled with salt , pepper, diced onions, mushrooms, and garlic. It was AMAZING. I'd say I was the envy of the school yard until my mom went back to giving me ham and cheese sandwiches.. or PB&J with cheese. SO whenever I make my own burgers I usually dice all kinds of vegetables into it.. and was expecting great things from Boomerang's.

You pick 3 mixers that they chop up and put together with your burger so you have a large patty stuffed with beef and ingredients.

There are standard toppings as well as "Gourmet toppings" that cost $1 more each. I figure since the stuff all gets mashed in there, you wouldn't tell much of a difference between grilled mushrooms and the normal mushrooms =).

You then get your order of cheese from a HUGE variety which is an A+, I hate how you're limited to a handful of cheese but Boomerang's has some nicer variety cheeses. You then get a FREE , I REPEAT FREE SIDE. This is the ONLY place so far that has given a free side of anything. They also had sweet potato fries *drooool*. You can then pick a sauce to put on the burger if you'd like =P.

Both Jeff and I ordered the 1/2lb hamburger. The burgers come with large pieces of leafy romaine lettuce, spicy red onions, tomatoes and pickles. The essentials for your every day lunch burger.

I added mixers of BACON (of course!), Onions, Mushrooms and topped with Gouda (how I LOVE Gouda.. so nutty and full of slate and bite!) with a side of Garlic Aioli sauce on the side. Jeff did Pineapple, Bacon, and onions topped with Swiss and Teriyaki Sauce on the side. . Our opinions on the burger are pretty similar so I'm just going to lump the two of them together.

First off, when you look at this burger it doesn't look that large.

It actually looks like a pretty normal size quarter pound burger. It's until you start eating it that you realize the burger gets progressively larger as it gets to the middle. The meat is also densely packed so it gets heavier and heavier as you eat it. Note, that is not a negative, I'm just observing this is a VERY filling burger.

The burger itself is charred heavily on the outside to give it that charbroiled taste with a crisp outer skin while sealing the juices inside. The meatiness permeates through each bite due to being locked in by the "browning" on the outside. But even though I could taste the inherent beef flavors of the burger it seemed to run a bit dry. I'll have to try this burger again at medium rare.. made a mistake ordering it Medium (WHAT CAME OVER ME!?).

The sauce provided is a hearty, rich, mouth coating sauce of heavy garlic and olive oil. It was thick, almost pasty but full of rich deep flavors of fresh chopped garlic and copious olive oil. I think I ate about a quarter of it, my heart rejected the rest.

My negative about this burger is... you really don't taste the mix-ins. When you have a Coldstone ice-cream and you get brownies in it, you taste a whole bunch of brownie. I pretty much tasted charred bacon and that was it. The mushrooms and onions were diced so small that they imparted absolutely no flavor to the burger. The bacon was burnt to a crisp so I didn't get that pork rendered fat flavor that I like in my burgers. Mix in fail?

Jeff said he couldn't taste his pineapple in his burger. PINEAPPLE. A fruit filled with sour acidity could not rise out in a savory dish. MIX IN FAIL!

The fries on the other hand were approved by both parties. I enjoyed my "free" sweet potato fries, hints of garlic and Parmesan with each bite. Wish they were a bit crispier.. but since I didn't have to pay $6.50 extra for them I have Zero/Zilch/No complaints.

I appreciate the creative efforts put behind this restaurant. It's not often you see ingredients diced into a burger. But I'm slightly confused on why the mixings were diced so small you couldn't taste anything. For that being their claim of fame it was rather disappointing.

But now you ask.. "Charlie why did you rate this as your 2nd favorite out of the 3 then?" Well young grasshopper, the burger itself was far superior to Tioli's. It was full of great beef flavor and the meat was packed tightly but not so tightly that you couldn't let it crumble in your mouth bite after bite.

Try it for yourself, maybe the Mix-ins will be better for you than me!

Boomerang's Gourmet Burger Joint
4577 Clairemont Dr
(between Clairemont Mesa Blvd & Joplin Ave)
San Diego, CA 92117


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Soul Food in San Francisco

This is A Mystery Eater posting! Read on for a culinary affair in SOUL FOOD!

Farmerbrown, touting itself as "farm-fresh soul food", has gotten a lot of press in the SF area-- it has over 850 reviews on yelp, and various reviews from the local papers (SFGate). Despite its plentiful lunch/dinner options (jambalaya, catfish, etc.), its "all-you-can-eat-brunch" with eggs, bacon, fresh biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, fried chicken, bacon, hash browns, grits, buttermilk pancakes, fresh fruit, was what drew us in!

As with most buffet fare, the goodies are housed in "serve-yourself" containers. It's hard to tell in the photo but there's a lot of steam emanating from the fried chicken on the left, and the hash browns on the right. The staff replenishes the supply whenever it gets low, so have no fear...

A small plate of everything to begin. First the bad news-- the biscuits. They weren't the flaky, buttery, warm biscuits I had dreamed about. Instead, they were cold and dense. The rest was pretty good. The bacon was crispy but not overly greasy. The eggs were fluffy and went very well with the honey jalapeno hot sauce available on every table. The hash browns were also very good-- crispy and well-seasoned.

But the real star (and the real reason we ventured to farmerbrown)... the FRIED CHICKEN! Crispy skin coupled with tender, warm meat. The batter was very thin (which I liked), which allowed the chicken's own tenderness to shine through. Out of the cuts available, the drumstick was the best (by far), then the thigh, and the breast (sorry, not even Mr. (or Ms.) Brown can make breast meat tender!).

Also, there was a fresh fruit medley of granny smith apples, bananas, red grapes, oranges, and grapefruit. Very fresh and nice. Also, if you look closely, you'll see a green herb throughout the salad-- it took me a while to figure out what it was-- but pretty sure it was basil!

Cucumber water . . . reminds me of a spa.

Also, live music adds to the atmosphere.

Other thoughts: It gets very crowded. We made reservations (via opentable) for 11:45 and still had to wait once we got there. Also, the place is just about 2 blocks down from the Westfield SF Centre (home to Lupicia tea!) and other shopping areas, if you're looking for things to do afterward. Additionally, having gone there for dinner before, I can vouch for the Seafood Jambalaya and the Catfish (and its side of green beans)-- the portions are big, but the prices are also heftier.

25 Mason (at Market)
415- 409-FARM (3276)
Easily-accessible via Muni and Bart (Powell Station).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blog Links

Hi people!

I noticed that my little blog link is incredibly out of date, if you'd like me to link to your blog please email me at . If you've linked me already and I don't know, let me know as well so I can link you back!



Notified of this last night by a Ms. Sharon Lee. Jack in the Box is giving our free curly fries today until midnight. HANG IN THERE JACK!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Tioli's Crazy Burger (San Diego, CA)

A few weeks ago I was watching "How I met Your Mother" and one of the main characters Marshall was on a quest to find the greatest burger in New York city. He looked far and wide for this one burger he had a LONG time ago. Unfortunately he did not remember where the burger was nor the name of the restaurant. But his fervor and tenacity in searching for that most amazing of burgers got me drooling and craving a burger.

I started up a thread on Chowhound in search for a burger right after I turned off the TV. So after perusing the thread and filtering out what would be good, what I've tried already and wasn't impressed by (BURGER LOUNGE ANYONE... which I'm told has improved.. but since Management/Staff are so immature and childish as to FAKE "anonymous" comments.. I've banned it for life) I decided on 3 burger joints.

I'll be doing a mini countdown from 3 to 1. Just as a disclaimer none of them were bad. I just didn't love #3 as much as #2 and etc. My Hamburger journey was taken with my two friends Jeff and Travis, who insist on being in the post in some way shape or form, so they took pictures at the places went.

So here's Jeff and Travis. Jeff is currently single, 6'1, hails from Malibu-area, CA, drives a BMW 6 series convertible. He loves long walks on the beach,girls playing Rock Band with him, and he used to be a child model. Travis is not single, so he's not getting a description. You might see a random picture here or there from them in the next 3 entries. You have been warned.

So our first stop was Tioli's Crazy Burger.

This restaurant was shown on Guy's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives last year and has been all over the local news affiliates for their very courageous use of exotic meats for burgers. You're looking at Turkey, Crab, Chicken, Alligator, Venison, Ostrich, Antelope meat being formed into a patty and served with a side of fries. A burger joint with so much press has gotta be astounding right?

The prices here are very reasonable, $5-7 for their standard beef based burgers and $8-12 for their exotic meats. They patties are roughly 1/2lb burgers. They even have combo deals where you get a soda, fries, and a specific speciality burger for under $7. The restaurant has about 7-8 beers on tap and a few wine choices for your liquid refreshment.

Seating is rather limited here, you're looking at about 7 tables of 4 in the "dining room".. so about 3 alligator widths =P. There is a limited bar area.

I ordered the special of the day, which is the Croatia Burger with a side of CRAZY FRIES.

The Croatio Burger is a standard grilled beef patty with a garlic roasted red pepper and garlic pesto sauce on top. *hum* Doesn't look very much like a half lb burger to me. The patty sits on a white roll which I found to be a bit too bready and thick and detracted from the flavor of the burger. It was too much bread for the patty. Maybe if the patty was 1/2lb's then the bun would have been fine. The burger itself wasn't flavorful on it's own, actually a bit dry and it really needed the help of the sauce to have any sort of flavor. Not sure where the moniker of best burger comes from, it's certainly not bad and I'll definitely come back to try one of the more exotic burgers, but I wasn't impressed by the beef-based burger at all.

The fries were thin and crispy, just how I like them. They were covered in parmesean and salt. I enjoy fries and I enjoyed these ones!

Jeff and Travis both got the Aloha Burger.

Pineapple, Teriyaki sauce, and Swiss Cheese. They found it to be juicy from the teriyaki marinade but across the board, this place was the least favorite out of the 3 we went to.

Now I wouldn't say I'm disappointed in the place, cause it seems to be that Guy doesn't know what the hell he is eating half the time (EL INDIO?) so my expectations weren't sky high. It's just I wonder if this place would even be on the rader if they didn't serve the really exotic meat? They say they handform their patties but the burger was pretty standard. The bun was really overwhelming, it just soaked up and took over any juicy/richness the meat could have had.