Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ostrich burgers and animal fries, junebug lust and brome seed in my socks

What a fucking week. I got a sunburn that may warrant a trip to the dermatologist's office, leaving me with cracking and peeling on my ears and shoulders that feel like I spent a fortnight moving refrigerators. I needed a full recovery day of napping and Nintendo before I could muster the energy to write about it.

Monday was mostly a travel day, but offered a couple of charming joints. Johnson's Drive-In in Acampo sported a somewhat limited menu (that albeit included an ostrich burger that's to die for).

Delicious, juicy ostrich - the "other red meat." Burgers always taste better when lovingly slung by a butch dyke in a do-rag. The drippy ketchup and melty American cheese dumbed it down to the pedestrian levels expected by local folks and the road-weary. Unfortunately, the French fries tasted of days-old oil, but thank god fish isn't on the menu.

A some-hour drive south brought us to our hotel and a dearth of culinaria. The only store within 15 miles was a Mobil Food-Mart. Fortunately, every little shit town has a joint called "(Some Dude's Name)'s Roadhouse". In Kettleman City, it's Mike.

Tragically, they did NOT have salisbury steak (I was crestfallen), but they did have liver and onions. Topped with bacon! How could I say no? I channeled my inner geriatric and ordered without a shred of irony, with my potato mashed and my salad dressed in thousand island. I don't take this shit lightly.

The misuse of the apostrophe makes me want to choke someone. Seriously. IT'S NOT POSSESSIVE, PEOPLE!

Other selections included the California-style chicken burger, but since you had to request avocado I wondered what made it California-style. My compatriats had said California burger, steak and eggs, and Heineken. One, a fellow foodie, tried my liver (but failed to share my enthusiasm).

The following day I was trying to ramp down the grease and red meat scene in my intestines, and opted to eat some chips and salsa with some store-bought guac. It's kinda nice - since they grow so much produce in California, these simple things taste really good. Even the ubiquitous free oranges from the hotel lobby were succulent and chin-dripping sweet orbs of sunshine.

Wednesday I went for the In-N-Out Burger experience. I'm a huge fan of Can Only Find it Here specialties, fast food meibutsu being no exception. Travelling with natives offered a peek into the secret menu, and I ordered a Double-Double with Animal-Style fries. "Animal-style" means coated with gooey cheese, grilled onions, and "spread" (a mélange of ketchup, mayonnaise and pickle relish). "Spread" and "animal-style" are not evocative of fast food, but of something else.

Day 4 was another long one - by then we had covered more than 30 miles of spiny grassland overlaying gypsum and ancient sea floor on foot. Some of the guys wanted to drive a few miles out of the way for a steak at Harris Ranch, and even though I really just wanted to shower and get drunk, I tagged along. Since we looked like we'd been in the sun and dust all day, we were seated in the Ranch Kitchen instead of the nicer side of the restaurant. I took a quick paper towel bath at the restroom sink like a common hobo.

I didn't take any photos in there, and now I can't think of any reason why. Shrug.

I had the prime rib sandwich au jus (medium rare) with fries and a green salad, the rest of the crew had tri-tip in either sandwich or steak form, with various sides. The sandwich was delicious, the meat of excellent quality, but the service was gastropodan. It took at least 15 minutes before anyone even acknowledged our presence after being seated, another 15 or 20 before our order was taken, another 15 to see our drinks, you get the picture. This, at 5:00 on a Thursday.

I guess that's it. I'm home for the week, yay for home-cooking.


peter said...

Welcome back. You astonish me; if I ate like that for a week, I'd be dead.

The apostrophe thing drives me up a wall, too.

Looking forward to some home-cooked posts...

Emiline said...

Welcome back! You crack me up.

You should visit the restaurant where I work. We have L&O. We put gravy on ours.

Sorry about the sunburn-wear more sunscreen!!

MrOrph said...

I am picking myself up off the floor from, well, you know, LOL-ing. :-)

What a post. I felt like I was on the road again.

The burger? Isn't ostrich a bit lean? Was it juicy enough?

In any case...

Welcome back,
Your dreams were your ticket out.

Welcome back,

to that same old place that you laughed about.

Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.

Who'd of thought they lead ya...

bye now

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Glad your back,really missed you! This post cracked me up. T. is ready it right now and I can here him chuckling away. Road food sucks. I hate our annual drives to vacation because of the food. Thank God we are starting to see some better options now!
P.S.-I happen to know some really good dermatologists here???!!!

Peter M said...

Welcome back Heather! Your road trip reminds me Alton's Feasting on Asphalt...looks like you've found some gems already.

Thanks for the bug-porn!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back but don't choke me please! My blog is scattered with spelling, punctuation, grammar and word choice errors. I'm English handicapped but at least i try. I wasn't born here you know. There's a spell checker position available on my blog, no pay, no benefit, no 401K, no recognition... Are you interested? :-)

Looks like you came back from hell, i think i would be dead too if i ate like that for a week.

Peter G said...

As usual Heather very entertaining. (I love "in and out burger". Probably the "freshest" fast food you can find on the west coast...I know I hate admitting to that but as a visitor to the US it was actually quite good!).
Can't wait to hear more...

cookiecrumb said...

I love how the crisp bacon strips compliment the onions: "You're sweet. Really, I mean it. Awfully sweet, you are."

Heather said...

Cornpwn - I have definitely been craving salads, to say the least.

Em - I would eat the shit out of your restaurant's L&O!

MrOrph - The ostrich was lean, but picked up some grease from the flat top. You crack me up with your lyrics.

Judy - I missed you too! If you lived a wee bit closer I'd go with your derm for sure. ;)

Peter - Glad to provide a little bug porn to the internets. There really isn't enough, methinks. I heart AB and loved his show. I though of him often in those places.

Meester Zen - I give a pass on the choking to the ESL crowd. My French would make you want to choke a bitch, that's for sure.

Petah - I thought the In-N-Out was good too. We don't have it in the Pacific NW, so I will definitely have it again when I go back down in a week.

Cookie - Hahaha. Bacon is just saying that to get on onions' good side.

tammy said...

Ah, the call of the open road. I'll take it. The paper towel bath, the misspellinings, I'll take it all.

Bellini Valli said...

I long for the days when I could eat this way and did.I have had ostrich burger...try some ostrich oil on your sunburn...oh sorry that was emu works quite well:D

Núria said...

Hola Guapa! Nice to see your face again! I think that you urgently need a dinner at Simpatica!!!!

If you have aloe vera in your garden: cut a thick leave and use the inner moister over your burned skin... you probably knew about this one :D

kittie said...

Welcome home!

Your funny!

Syd said...

I love that you aren't the "I'll just have a salad and lemon water" type of girl. And completely unashamed and unapologetic to boot. (as you should be)

Great recap. Sorry you're toasty.

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Glad you are home, even with clogged arteries and a terrible sunburn! Please tend to that, stat!
You gotta come to AZ sometime and we'll go to all the joints on the border - you ain't had no road food like bull ball tacos. With a case of Pacifico.

Leigh said...

great post. it's not often you get a decent piece of writing like that, especially seeing as though im a sucker for americana. great pictures too. that one of the the short-order chef rocks, in a way that i can't explain. being english, i have a adverse curiosity for anything described as 'chicken-fried'...

robin (caviar and codfish) said...

You really just can't beat the butch dyke ostrich burger.

Nice post. Sorry bout the sunburn.

Toni said...

Welcome back, Heather! I think I felt my arteries hardening while I read your post! But I was reminded, like Peter, of Feasting on Asphalt. Great post!

Brittany said...

Welcome back, and I adore this post! I love a good road trip, and I love road food even more! Your pictures were fantastic!

Heather said...

Tammy - You can have it! I'm more of a homebody.

Valli - I prefer to keep the grease in my burger and off my sunburn! :D

Nuria - I DO need a dinner at Simpatica to make the pain go away.

Kittie - People often tell me I'm funny, but looks aren't everything!

Syd - Fuck a salad and lemon water. A bitch needs nutrients.

Catherine - I am totally down with some bull fry taco! But only if I can also try cabeza and lingua too. The holy trinity, they are.

Leigh - I think the Scots wrote the book on frying perfection. Battered and deep-fried chocolate bar? Yes please.

Robin - They make the very best burgers, don't they?

Toni - I just wish I'd done the trip on the back of Alton Brown's bike. He is such a sexy motherfucker.

Heather said...

Dang you sneaky Brittany! You snuck in while I was typing! It's good to be back, but I am totally still craving burgers.

Jeremy said...

Haven't passed your site in some days, too busy working with my wing nut Union cooks! As usual you make reading a joyful experience, whew that gravy on that mash looked like stuff I used to make in the Army Mess hall I worked in!

We Are Never Full said...

is it weird that i actually missed your blog while you were gone? wtf?

that post is awesome. hilarious. i wish we had brought our camera into the places we ate in during our trip to the south west 2 years ago. HIGH-LARIOUS. when you find those jems called "(insert owner's name here)'s Place", you know you're about to have the meal of a lifetime - and with many spelling mistakes.

welcome home. check that sunburn...

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I thought you said you'd have nothing to write about... ;)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Man, I am really out of it... I didn't even realise you were gone! This was such a fun post - Heather the food critic! You are such an awesome cook, I bet you realy miss your home cooked meals when you are on the road! ;)

Welcome back! Now I'm outta here! :)

Heather said...

Jeremy - If I'da seen SOS on a menu, you know I woulda.

Amy - Awww! It's good to be missed. The sunburn is in the itchy peely stage now.

Sketti - I guess I can always find something of which to make fun. :P

Jenn - Seriously, woman! Are you reading blogs while you get your hair and nails done? I was a basket case this close to my wedding. :D

glamah16 said...

Great post. I would have ordered the liver and onions too. But I bet your glad to be back home.