Monthly Archives: May 2008

Project Pork Shank

It’s been my goal to post here much more responsibly than I do to my personal blog, which goes decades without an update. However, it’s been only weeks since this blog was born and I’ve already dropped the ball. To make up for it, I’ve decided to share with you something so appetizing and delicious that you’ll always want to come back for more hardtack and swill.

Monday some friends and I met at the Red Lion, a local fake German biergarden in Silverlake. I say fake just because the beer garden is kind of like drinking in the Germany section of Epcot Center. It’s full of faux ivy and painted on bricks and a semi-working fountain and signs pointing out the direction and distance to Berlin. But despite its facade, it actually makes for a quaint little sun-dappled place to sit and have some good beer. And the service is authentic. They’ve brought in actual Germans in full costume to ignore you completely all afternoon. Monday being labor day, I called ahead to make sure they were open. Here’s a transcript:

Mean, heavily accented German bar wench: RED LION, WHAT.

Me: Oh, uh yes – I was just calling to see if you were open today.

MHAGBW: YOU ARE LIKE ZE 10TH – NO, 11TH PERSON TO CALL ABOUT ZIS TODAY. CONGRATULATIONS.

Me: So, you’re open?

MHAGBW: WHY WOULDN’T WE BE OPEN????!

Me: Because it’s Memorial Day and you were closed last Fourth of July.

MHAGBW: WELL WE ARE OPEN. ZAT IS ZE ONLY TIME VE ARE CLOSED, OK? IS THAT OK?

Me: Jesus, yes, ok. You don’t have to yell at me. (click)

Happily, the same cheery and loving beer wench who answered the phone was also our server. I call her Sunshine.

They serve what I can only assume is fairly authentic German food, meaning flavorless sausages of varying kinds. One comes hanging limply out of a giant glass stein filled with dishwater-flavored pea soup. We call it the Lipton Cup ‘O Dong. It is a sight to see. I’ll order it next time just for the photos and post them.

This time I didn’t eat, but my friend Nick bravely ordered the pork shank. Here’s what arrived:

Now, if you’ll notice, there is a small patch of hair protruding from the skin in one spot:

Nevertheless, Nick soldiered on. He cut that baby up and went to work. And actually, the meat looked pretty good. Then again, Nick has a fascination with bums. So who can say.

The final result: Nick 1, Pork Shank 0.

My favorite server, Sarah, a very attractive and hard-working red-headed American girl, wasn’t there. However, a very pretty slim blonde woman showed up and began WORKING the room. I’m telling you she was focused. I was instantly smitten. Perhaps 25 years of terrible reviews have finally led to a change in service staff policy. Or maybe two or three girls have figured out that they can earn 138 times the tips of a German by simply trying a bit. Sorry, but Germans, you build a fine automobile. You are not cut out for the service industries.

Of course we were forced to leave at that point because another friend with us (the only female – I’m just sayin) wanted to go immediately. I never get to stay for the pretty shift. Ever. I really need to stop hanging out with couples.

Perhaps next time I’ll bring more than my camera phone and take some pics with the wenches. I’ll say I’m a food critic. A bachelor food critic. I think I’m onto something here…

I just won’t order the pork shank. I don’t think it’s a very “sexy” food. Then again, neither is the Cup ‘O Dong.

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The Gentleman Bachelor

As it’s the Friday before Memorial Day weekend and I’m feeling particularly lazy, I’m going to do a cop-out post today. Some friends and I have started another blog to rant, gush, and/or generally spout off about sports, the movie business, L.A. in general, and other nonsense. One feature, the brainchild of my friend Mike, is “The Gentleman Bachelor,” wherein my cohorts and I school the uneducated on how to be a more “classy” single guy. Or a more classy guy in general. Or at least give the appearance of more class. Or something.

In any case, Mike likes to cook as much as I do, so TGB will often involve food. I suppose I could just rip the post straight from the Peach Basket, plop it here, and claim it as my own. But Mike knows where I live. So hop on over why dontcha and check out his very informative piece on shallots. I’ll bet you didn’t know they were an aphrodisiac, did you? See, you need The Peach Basket in your life. And don’t forget to read the comments!

Teriyaki Chicken Salad with Gaysian Dressing

My friends had a bbq at their place, and they bought a new grill for the occasion. They asked me if I wanted their old one, and then just gave it to me! Nice, huh? It’s an Aussie Bushman Elite, and it is my new favorite thing in the world. First of all, I love the audacity of the name. It takes balls to name a propane fueled grill after a group of Aborigines. Sure, they were bushmen. They figured out how to live by making fire with two pieces of wood and their hands. But had they just gone that one step further and mastered electricity, steel manufacturing, sheet metal pressing, propane storage, and the push-button ignition, they could have been elite bushmen.

Anyway, for this dish I marinated some chicken breasts over night in a mix of Wonnie’s spicy hot korean bbq sauce and House of Tsang regular stir fry sauce. You can get both at the regular grocery store, and any stir fry nonsense will work. I find the Wonnie’s too be a bit too heavy on the heat so I mix it up. Once upon a time I was into making things as hot as humanly possible and then some, but nowadays I’m kind of getting into the whole “flavor” thing. Maybe I’m old.

So I grilled the chicken breasts on the Aussie, and then just chopped ’em up and put ’em over a bed of spring mix from a bag in the produce section. I cut up some orange sections and added red grape tomatoes. If I had some orange grape tomatoes and scallions I’d have used those too. Top with some crunchy chow mein noodles.

This is basically a variation on a salad my sister makes. She puts goat cheese in it, which I love. So I wanted to do that, but the first few times I made my own dressing and it sort of melted all the goat cheese. Then I thought, why not put the goat cheese in the dressing? I know it’s that kind of dangerous thinking that will get me in trouble one day, but I went for it anyway. I’m hard core.

I don’t measure anything, by the way. You should know that right up front. So if you’re upset that I haven’t provided measurements here, sorry. You’ll just have to keep tinkering with it until it tastes right. It’ll be good for you to loosen up a little.

The amounts below made enough for two people, or one person who likes a LOT of dressing. You can always make too much and refrigerate it.

Sesame seed oil – I’d say several tablespoons
Pineapple vinegar – slightly less than the amount of sesame oil used. You can get this in the Asian foods aisle, near the stir fry sauce
Goat cheese – about half of one of those small tubular packages is what I used.
Brown sugar – to taste. I would add this last, about a teaspoon at a time until it’s not too tart
Oregano – to taste
Tarragon – same
Ginger – dried powdered kind, to taste

I used one of those “salad magic” carafe thingies you get when you buy the dry package Italian dressing. I shook it vigorously after adding each ingredient, and kept tasting it. The goat cheese will “creamify” (new word) in there if you shake the s#$t out of it. The herbs you can add, omit, or use something else.

What makes this dressing “Gaysian,” you ask? Goat cheese + Asian = funny word. Plus you have to admit, it doesn’t get much gayer than making your own goat cheese salad dressing. It works on so many levels!

With the dressing it’s nice and shiny. And I am all about shiny food.

Let me start by saying

Cracklin’ Oat Bran is the greatest cereal ever made. It is created with honey, nuts, magic, oats, magic, and dewdrops from Mount Olympus. It costs more per ounce than launching something into orbit on the space shuttle. Each box contains only one “O” and costs $48,000.00. It was on sale at Von’s. I backed up six tanker trucks and bought 88,198 tons of it. It looks like dog food and tastes like dog food in heaven. I will be buried in a casket made entirely of Cracklin’ Oat Bran. I will float inside on a silky white river of skim milk deliciousness for all eternity.