In today's Media Mix, why restaurants have a $10 minimum credit card charge, plus Cory Booker gets some critics
The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news in the food world.
Why Is $10 the Minimum Credit Card Charge?: Ever wonder why most restaurants ask for a $10 minimum for credit cards? Consumerist breaks down the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Protection Act, which makes the minimum charge legal. [Consumerist]
Noise Might Be the Next Big Thing for Restaurants: The hushed, prissy vibes of fine dining are now being replaced with open kitchens, hard surfaces, and a jumble of conversations mixed into one, especially at A-Frame, one of Los Angeles' loudest restaurants, with a noise level as high as a lawn mower. [MSNBC]
World's Largest Candy Cane: Geneva chefs have created a 51-foot candy cane with 900 pounds of sugar, using a blowtorch to piece all the sugar parts together. [World Record Academy]
Cory Booker Continues Food Stamp Challenge: As the Newark, N.J., mayor continues his journey, eating off $30 a week, critics claim that Booker is misrepresenting the food stamp program, saying the stamps are meant to supplement whatever income Americans on food stamps may have. [HuffPo]
Tech Gadgets at Restaurants: Restaurants are adding on mobile ordering, iPad order kiosks, Facebook ordering, and games for while you wait, replacing coloring book menus and crayons. Look at us, reminiscing about the old times. [Forbes]
If you haven’t heard, it’s ramps season. A comedy video from TikTok user Jake W. Cornell parodying a well-heeled Brooklyn dad panicking that his kid wouldn’t get to experience this year’s “ramps season” before it’s over has gone viral. “I’ve tried three markets, I’m literally in the park foraging right now and there are no ramps!” he yells into the phone at his husband.
The video has nearly a million views, and the comments are full of two types of people in particular — those saying they also love ramps season, and those reasonably asking: What are ramps, and what the heck is a ramp season?
Ramps are a wild onion that shows up briefly every spring and must be foraged. For the food-obsessed on the East Coast, “ramp season” has now become an annual frenzy. The combination of the rare, limited availability of these little alliums and the brief window in which they’re available makes them highly coveted among the type of people who obsess about their produce.
The recent obsession with ramps has also driven up demand, making them expensive Prices can sometimes run up to as much as $20 a pound. This has raised concerns about overharvesting and sustainability of the plant, and worries that even with such high prices, little of that money makes it back to the rural communities that supply ramps.
Ramp mania in affluent cities has also become something of a class marker. Talking about “ramps season” these days is a way to show taste and sophistication, to signal to people that you care about locally sourced produce and knowing where your food comes from. Ramp-obsessed urbanites have turned what was once a relatively obscure allium most popular in the Appalachian region into something that bougie New Yorkers hunt down at restaurants and farmers markets every April.
Here’s what you need to know about this little plant that drives some food-obsessed East Coast residents into a frenzy every spring — and the costs of this obsession.
What are ramps, and what is the big deal about them?
Ramps, also sometimes called wild leeks, are a type of wild onion, and they look similar to a scallion or spring onion — they have a bulb and a tall stalk and long, flat green leaves on top. They have a strong flavor that can taste like a cross between an onion and garlic. They’re often served grilled or sautéed, or incorporated into pasta dishes, turned into vinaigrette, pesto, or butter they can also be pickled and saved for later in the year.
There are a few reasons there’s so much fuss about ramps compared to other spring produce, and they largely add up to exclusivity. One reason is that ramps aren’t farmed — they’re wild, so they can only be acquired through foraging. This means supply is much more limited than other related alliums like scallions or leeks, which are more widely available since farmers can grow them in mass quantities. (There are some growing movements to try to cultivate ramps, but they haven’t gotten a lot of traction yet.)
The second reason ramps are so exclusive is that they’re in season for a very brief period before they disappear again, typically from mid-April to early May, which only adds to their allure. This means they’re available at grocery stores and farmers markets for just a short window every spring, which can lead to shoppers sometimes fighting to get the last bunch.
Ramps thrive in Appalachia and are a big part of local food culture in the region
Ramps grow all over the eastern US and Canada, and are especially prevalent in West Virginia and the Appalachian region.
“In West Virginia, [ramps] are a prominent part of local foraging practices, collectively shared knowledge and stewardship of the land, and the centerpiece of springtime community gatherings — often intended to draw both locals and tourists as fundraisers for schools and community organizations,” said Emily Hilliard, the state folklorist of West Virginia. Many towns have been holding these community dinners and festivals celebrating ramps for nearly a century the town of Richwood, West Virginia, which calls itself the “ramp capital of the world,” is holding its 82nd annual Feast of the Ramson (another name for ramps) this month. In 1930, a West Virginia man was dubbed the “King of Ramps” because he was reportedly able to forage ramps faster than anyone else in town.
Wild Ramps from Rick Bishop at Mountain Sweet Berry Farm. | We preserve the bottoms and often use the green tops for sautéing or making a nice flavorful oil. #purveyors #nyc pic.twitter.com/ibTkLkSK9W— Per Se (@PerSeNY) July 26, 2019
Mike Costello, a chef and farmer who runs Lost Creek Farm in West Virginia with his partner Amy Dawson, said that the local ramp dinners play a big role in building community in rural Appalachian towns. “This might be one of a couple community events they have each year. So it’s one of the only times people in rural communities can get together and enjoy this fellowship,” he told Vox. The dinners can also provide financial support for the town, he added: “Sometimes you might have a town that has a ramp dinner every year and that dinner is the fundraiser that helps them pay their municipal electric bill every year. There’s a history and heritage that people celebrate with the act of foraging and going to the woods to gather the things to prepare for the summer.”
Costello also says that one of the reasons ramps are so celebrated in Appalachian communities is because they signal the arrival of springtime. “There’s so much wrapped up in what it means to change seasons. Especially with spring, there’s this shift out of the winter months, the cold grayness, there’s this greenery and it’s sort of like a little taste of what’s to come, so it’s a cause for celebration,” Costello said. “That’s part of what people here in this region see out of ramps, and why ramps have more cultural significance in this place than others. . There’s more of a connection to the land, and those cycles are very significant for us.”
How ramps went from Appalachian staple to fine-dining restaurant menus
Outside of Appalachia and other regions where ramps grow, this allium was still a pretty obscure ingredient until the past couple of decades, after which it quickly went from an Appalachian food tradition to something that chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants work into their menus every spring.
In New York, farmer Rick Bishop is often credited with being one of the early farmers market pioneers who brought ramp mania to cities. Bishop runs Mountain Sweet Berry Farm in upstate New York, and has a stand at the popular Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Bishop is known for foraging wild foods growing in the Catskills — especially ramps — and he supplies his ramps to some of New York’s top restaurants, including Per Se, David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants, and Gramercy Tavern. Food websites like Eater and Grub Street (both our sister websites at Vox Media) often report each year on when Bishop’s ramps have arrived at farmers markets in New York. Soon after, like clockwork, ramp dishes start showing up on local restaurant menus.
Grub Street reported in 2013 that ramps started to really become a part of New York restaurant culture around 1996 this was the first year ramp dishes became a popular mainstay on many menus, including “ramps vinaigrette at Capsouto Freres ramps with morels and spaetzle at Peter Hoffman’s Savoy spaghetti with ramps and pecorino at Mario Batali’s Pó and ramps galore at Gramercy Tavern, where Tom Colicchio served sautéed sweetbreads with morels and ramps, as well as cod with fondue of ramps and bacon.”
Recently, after having a dish with ramps at LaLou, a wine bar in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, I emailed the chef, Jay Wolman, to ask: Why are people obsessed with ramps?
“I think ramps deserve all the hype and fascination associated with them,” Wolman replied. “I think it’s the allure of something you cannot replicate or cultivate, they have to be searched and foraged for. Anything that requires that sort of effort comes with a good story, and when you know the story of where the food comes from, it always tastes better.”
Ilene Rosen, co-owner of R&D Foods, a specialty grocer and cafe in Brooklyn, and the author of Saladish: A Crunchier, Grainier, Herbier, Heartier, Tastier Way With Vegetables, also loves ramps. “For me, it is their early arrival that fuels my anticipation for all spring produce,” Rosen said. She shared Costello’s sentiment that part of the hype about ramps’ arrival is because they’re one of the first spring vegetables to hit markets each year, and serve as a sign of the changing of seasons, a way to mark the end of a long, dreary winter.
And Costello, who grew up surrounded by community ramp dinners, remarked: “To me, it’s kind of funny being here in West Virginia and seeing this phenomenon.” When he was growing up, “there was no reason to expect they would have ended up on fine dining menus that would have been totally absurd for me to think of when I was 16 and first wanted to be a chef. Because at that time Appalachian food wasn’t trendy at all, it was kind of something people were actively trying to separate themselves from, so it’s been funny to witness this trend.”
The skyrocketing demand for ramps has raised concerns, too
Demand for ramps has grown so much in recent years that some botanists are concerned about overharvesting and sustainability of the plant. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park banned ramp harvesting in 2004, and in Canada, Quebec made it entirely illegal since the plant is considered endangered — which then led to a black market of ramp smuggling.
Costello also has deep concerns about overharvesting. “As foragers and people connected to the land, we have to see ourselves in community with those plants that sustain us. We have a responsibility to not only sustainably harvest them but to teach others to sustainably harvest and make sure that’s part of that body of knowledge that gets passed forward,” Costello said.
There is a growing movement of people advocating for more sustainable methods of harvesting ramps. The Cherokee have been foraging ramps for centuries, and they recommend cutting off only the tops of the plants and leaving the roots still growing, instead of pulling out the entire plant. And Bishop told the New York Times that he makes sure not to hit the same patch of ramps more than once every five years and rotates foraging from different areas, so the plants have time to recover.
Costello also pointed out that while many ramps come from West Virginia, rural communities that supply ramps to the rest of the US might not be seeing the financial benefits of the ramp craze.
Consumers should think more about “what your social responsibility is to communities that are providing these resources to you,” Costello said. “This is the thing restaurants in DC or other places don’t necessarily think about. They’re getting ramps they might pay $10 wholesale for the person who dug those ramps probably only gets $1 or $2 a pound for it. That’s not enough money to make sure that the time is invested to sustainably harvest those ramps. I remember in DC, at [a grocery store], seeing ramps for $25 a pound. But whoever dug those ramps is probably not seeing that cash.”
So do ramps even taste good?
Honestly? As a person who cares a lot about food, I have a controversial opinion on this: I think ramps are a touch overrated. Hear me out! Eating whole grilled or sautéed ramps is just not that enjoyable because the flavor is so strong. Melted leeks are sweeter and richer in flavor, while scallions provide a nice crunch and sharp flavor for garnishing a dish.
In most cultures, onions and other alliums are generally used as a component of a dish, not the main attraction. Garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives, shallots, because of their strong, sharp flavor when raw, are most often chopped, diced, minced, and then sautéed or otherwise cooked or worked into the base of the dish, as a building block that adds flavor. Most recipes don’t typically center onions or garlic as the star of a meal — they’re more like a supporting actor.
But during ramps season, ramps are often treated as the main attraction. Because they’re so rare, chefs and home cooks get excited when they arrive each year and then bend over backward trying to find ways to prepare and serve them, when in many cases a dish could be better served by leeks or scallions or chives for flavor. The rarity of this foraged food might make ramps feel more exciting, but unfortunately, in my opinion, it does not make them taste better.
That’s not to say ramps are bad I think they just might be a tad overhyped in some circles. And that hype has raised ethical concerns, too — when many Americans are struggling to access and afford healthy food, ramps are an obsession of the bougie and affluent, those who can afford a vegetable that runs at $20 a pound. And many of the wealthy shoppers buying up ramps in cities likely give very little thought to how much their ramp obsession might drive overharvesting of the plant, or how much of that $20 goes back to workers and communities that supply them at low prices.
But by all means, if you want to try ramps, I’m not here to discourage you. When shopping at farmers markets or dining at restaurants, it’s worth looking for ramps that have been harvested sustainably. And if you’re buying them yourself, consider buying them in small quantities rather than buying tons, so that you don’t contribute to the problem of overharvesting.
And if you haven’t had a chance to get in on this year’s ramps season, don’t worry — there’s always next year.
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Say goodbye to brown, slimy, two-day-old basil — pick herbs, wrap them in a damp paper towel, and refrigerate them in a small deli container. You’ll double or triple their shelf life.
I brew a rich and exquisitely smooth iced coffee by letting ⅓ cup of roughly ground coffee beans soak in a one quart deli container of water for one day. Strain it through a paper or metal filter before drinking. I make iced tea the same way (three tea bags or two tablespoons of loose leaf tea per one quart container of water), and even add a lovely zing to tap water by letting it get icy cold in a quart container with a few orange peels.
All-In-One Dinners for Two
Sometimes the “easy way out” is the most delectable! Our Market Meal Kits are savory, all-in-one meal solutions for two, ready in 20 minutes or less. Each kit features quality ingredients from our store—like boneless, skinless chicken breasts, succulent shrimp, sirloin beef steaks, Atlantic salmon fillets and fresh veggies—so you can feel good about what you’re cooking.
We’ve done the prepping, planning and packing for you: all you have to do is pick what you like, follow our step-by-step instructions and clean your plate (without washing too many dishes). Find our Market Meal Kits in stores now, along our chilled produce wall. Keep scrolling for descriptions of each recipe, plus wine recommendations to round out your meal.
Selection varies by store location, but you should always find at least five options to choose from. Don’t see your favorite meal? Ask your store manager to include it on the menu for your next visit!We recommend pairing with: La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Chicken Marsala with Broccoli & Homestyle Mashed Potatoes
Prepare an Italian-American classic in 15 minutes or less!
The Fresh Market boneless, skinless chicken breasts make for a tender, top-notch main course. The delectable Marsala sauce is pre-made with Marsala wine, mushrooms, onion, garlic and spices for full-bodied flavor. We’ve also included homestyle mashed potatoes blended with butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, as well as fresh broccoli from our store. The only thing left to bring to the table is your appetite!We recommend pairing with: Alto Limay Pinot Noir
Ginger Glazed Salmon with Fresh Asparagus & Creamy Mashed Potatoes
This meal is nourishing, flavorful and ready in 15 minutes.
Our Atlantic Salmon Fillets are tender, mild, flaky and delicious and lend themselves well to bold flavors. We’ve paired them with ginger sauce made with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and spices. Simply pan-sear your fish and complete the meal with fresh asparagus from our stores, plus creamy mashed potatoes blended with real butter and sour cream.We recommend pairing with: Calera Chardonnay
Parmesan Basil Chicken Penne with Fresh Vegetables & Cream Sauce
Tender chicken breast strips, perfectly al dente penne pasta, rich Parmesan sauce—what’s not to love? Enjoy a flavorful pasta dinner for two in just 15 minutes.
Pan-sear our chicken breast strips and add a side of sauté-ready zucchini and yellow squash from our Produce Department. The pasta is cooked, so all you have to do is toss it in the pan for a few minutes before serving. A creamy sauce made with Parmesan cheese, aromatic basil and garlic adds flavor to every bite.We recommend pairing with: Kung Fu Girl Reisling
Chicken Pad Thai
Skip the Thai delivery and whip up authentic Chicken Pad Thai in 15 minutes or less! There’s no need to prep—our non-GMO chicken breast strips are ready to cook, along with fresh vegetables from our Produce Department.
Sear the chicken first, then the vegetables. Add pre-cooked noodles and sauce, then simmer for about two minutes. Divide the finished dish between two bowls and you’re ready to eat.We recommend pairing with: Diora Chardonnay
Chicken Piccata with Wild Rice Pilaf & Green Beans
This Italian-inspired meal is ready to serve in 20 minutes or less. Simply sauté and steam fresh green beans from our Produce Department. Set them aside while you cook our tender, juicy, non-GMO chicken breasts. They’re hand-trimmed and 99% fat-free.
Add Lemon Garlic Sauce made with garlic, butter, lemon zest and capers. Pair with microwave-ready Wild Rice Pilaf.We recommend pairing with: One Million Cuttings Old School Red
Korean Beef Stir Fry with Fresh Vegetables & Rice
If you’re craving big, beefy flavor, you’re in luck. Our Premium Choice Sirloin Strips are tender, juicy and sauté-ready.
Enhance every bite with ready-made Korean BBQ sauce. Brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, herbs and spices combine to create sweet and savory flavor. Round out the meal with stir-fried broccoli, carrots, onion and snap peas, fresh from our stores. The best part? It’s all ready in 15 minutes or less.We recommend pairing with: Franciscan Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
Bourbon Peppercorn Steak with Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Green Beans
Sweet potatoes, fresh veggies and tender, savory sirloin beef steaks slathered in rich bourbon-peppercorn sauce: what’s not to love?
These sirloin steaks come straight from The Fresh Market, along with green beans and onions. The bourbon-peppercorn sauce is crafted with bourbon, garlic, Madeira wine and spices for robust flavor that tastes homemade. Crisp veggies and sweet potatoes mashed with butter and brown sugar add the perfect balance of savory and sweet. Best of all? This delicious dinner is fast and foolproof, with a prep time of just 15 minutes.We recommend pairing with: Luke Merlot
Honey Balsamic Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Green Beans & Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Our boneless pork tenderloin medallions make an impressive entrée. Simmer them in a rich sauce made with aged balsamic, sweet honey, fragrant rosemary and savory garlic for a memorable meal that takes 20 minutes or less to cook and serve.
Round out your meal for two with fresh green beans from our Produce Department, ready to sauté and steam, plus ready-to-heat mashed sweet potatoes.We recommend pairing with: St Francis Cabernet Sauvignon.
Portabella Cabernet Steak with Fresh Asparagus & Homestyle Mashed Potatoes
This dinner for two is ready to cook in 15 minutes or less, and tastes as delicious as what you’d find in a restaurant.
Our tender, juicy top sirloin steaks are ready to pan-sear. Add a side of fresh asparagus for color and crunch, along with homestyle mashed potatoes made with real butter and cream. We’ve even included portabella cabernet sauce made with mushrooms, rich red wine and the perfect blend of spices. It tastes homemade, and pairs perfectly with our steak!We recommend pairing with: Mer Soliel Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Cherry Port Glazed Salmon with Fresh Brussels Sprouts & Rice Pilaf
Our salmon fillets are fresh, tender, easy to cook and delicious with sweet and savory cherry port sauce. This meal is ready in just 20 minutes!
Simply pan-sear your salmon in sauce made with Port wine reduction, roasted garlic, dark sweet cherries and the perfect blend of spices. We’ve included fresh Brussels sprouts from our Produce Department you can sauté, steam and serve—oil and seasoning included. Add ready-to-heat rice pilaf and you’re finished!We recommend pairing with: Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rose
Thai Coconut Chicken with Rice & Fresh Vegetables
Ready in 10 minutes or less, this dish is just as quick as take-out and includes top-notch ingredients from The Fresh Market.
Our boneless, skinless chicken breast is hand-trimmed and antibiotic-free for a tender texture and natural flavor. Simmer in a savory Thai sauce made with rich coconut milk, garlic and flavorful spices like ginger and turmeric. Broccoli, carrots, onions and snap peas from our store complete this meal for two, along with herbaceous Cilantro Lime Rice.
Availability varies by storeWe recommend pairing with: David Bruce Russian River Chardonnay.
Brandy Apple Glazed Pork Chops with Fresh Asparagus & Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Treat yourself (and someone special) to our rich and flavorful Brandy Apple Glazed Pork Chops.
This meal is ready to cook and serve in 15 minutes or less. Start with fresh asparagus that’s simple to season, sauté and steam to perfection. Complement our thin-cut, pan-seared pork loin chops with mouthwatering brandy apple sauce, then round out the meal with mashed sweet potatoes—no peeling or prep work required.We recommend pairing with: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio
Shrimp Scampi with Squash Blend & Wild Rice Pilaf
This Italian-American dish is fresh, flavorful and ready to enjoy in just 10 minutes.
Garlic, lemon zest and tangy capers meld with white wine, butter and cream to create a traditional scampi sauce—perfect for our tender, succulent shrimp. We’ve peeled and deveined these easy-to-cook shellfish for even more time-saving convenience. Add fresh, pre-cut zucchini and yellow squash from The Fresh Market and perfectly-seasoned Wild Rice Pilaf for a healthy and satisfying meal.
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant Gets First Marker on Louisiana Civil Rights Trail
We can’t think of a better way to kick off this important project.
The Louisiana Office of Tourism installed the first of many markers on the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail Monday.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and the Chase family were on hand for the reveal of a six-foot-tall steel silhouette of a protestor erected outside Dooky Chase&aposs Restaurant, the world-famous New Orleans eatery that served as a safe meeting place for civil rights workers.
"Dooky Chase&aposs Restaurant in Tremé, the nation&aposs oldest African-American neighborhood, welcomed activists to Creole cuisine and a secret upstairs meeting room where extensive strategizing took place," the trail&aposs website says of the historic restaurant.
Leah Chase, widely considered to be the "Queen of Creole Cuisine," and her husband Edgar Lawrence "Dooky" Chase, Jr. ran Dooky Chase&aposs Restaurant for more than 50 years. Over the generations, luminaries, presidents and countless regular folk have dined on Leah&aposs unforgettable Creole dishes.
After Leah&aposs passing in 2019 at the age of 96, the restaurant has been in the hands of the couple&aposs children and grandchildren.
"To have a black, a six-foot-tall, steel-framed marker unveiled in front of Dooky Chase&aposs is the biggest honor we could hope for at Dooky&aposs," Edgar "Dooky" Chase III told WVUE.
The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail a series of 15 markers across the state accompanied by an interactive website detailing the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s.
Nungesser told NOLA.com that the trail was inspired by the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, adding that he feels that it&aposs important to educate generations to come about the struggles black people faced in the segregated South.
"There&aposs no better time than now to honor those heroes," he said.
The Beef About L.A.
In Los Angeles, the beef is in the burger. Everywhere. And I’m sure every Angeleno has an opinion about which joint reigns supreme, answers ranging from original, landmark burger stands to popular chains to a trendy restaurant’s rendition of this classic American fare. For me, this represents the beginnings of a Los Angeles Burger Tour, a small slice out of the bigger burger picture. Here’s a sampling of the where and why:
Original Tommy’s: There’s nothing special about the bun. The patty is small, requiring complaining carnivores to order a double or triple. The fixings are simple and always the same: tomato slice, chopped onion, mustard, optional cheese. The fries are mediocre but serve one special purpose: to sop up excess chili. Without this generous slopping of gooey, original recipe chili on your burger, you don’t have a Tommy’s.
Since 1946, the original Tommy’s has remained put on the corner of Rampart and Beverly. It’s the only Tommy’s (out of 27 locations) that doesn’t provide fountain drinks customers help themselves via the honor system to cans of soda out of several Pepsi coolers surrounding the stand.
Here’s what I’ve learned from the Tommy’s experience: don’t entirely remove the Tommy’s burger from the wrapper. If this mistake is made, all the chili will ooze out the bottom of the burger and meld into an even sloppier mess, creating chili-cheese paper which requires some serious fry-mopping.
Bob’s Big Boy: On a Saturday afternoon on the corner of Riverside and Rose in Burbank, the tables are turning as fast as a party of two can devour two Big Boy Combos and a vanilla shake. Hungry customers wait outside, sitting on benches surrounding the famous Big Boy statue which marks a true “state point of historical interest,” a designation given by the state of California in 1993. This location is the oldest standing Bob’s in America.
The menu is extensive (fried chicken, liver and onions. ), but the Original Big Boy Combo is the way to go. A double-decker. Shredded iceberg. American cheese. Soft sesame seed bun. A signature ketchup-relish blend. You can’t get more classic. For me, it certainly brings back childhood memories. The accompanying dinner salad, though, has sadly been updated from simply a wedge of iceberg to what appears to be lettuce from a bag. But fortunately the bleu cheese dressing hasn’t changed.
Fatburger: Sure, it’s a chain, and a growing one at that (Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey…). But there’s something about ordering a cheeseburger deliciously complete with an egg over easy. The people at Fatburger market freshness, using slogans such as “Most onion rings come from freezers. We prefer onions.” I think it’s the fried egg that keeps people coming back. At least that’s what lures me in.
The original Fatburger, Fatburger #1, is located on Western Avenue at 31st Street in East L.A. But Fatburger offspring are everywhere in L.A. and surrounding areas. You can’t miss ‘em.
In-N-Out: Nothing screams Southern California more than a 4 x 4, Animal Style. That’s four beef patties and four slices of American cheese with mustard seared onto the meat, pickles, grilled onions and extra “spread,” a tasty Thousand Island dressing-type condiment. I prefer a double-single (two beef, one cheese), without onions or sometimes with grilled onions. Oh, and fries, arguably the most debated In-N-Out menu item. Some people love them. Some people hate them. All opinions aside, there are no other fries like them. Peeled and cut on location and deep-fried to order in very clean oil, In-N-Out fries aren’t the crispiest ever served. But out of all the burger chains, their fries are the freshest and the most, well, potato-like.
The In-N-Out burger itself is a well-thought out food item. The cheese is melted onto the toasted top-bun before assembly, which assures adherence to the remaining burger components beneath. However, to insure a complete, intact burger throughout consumption, the best technique is removing the un-bitten burger from all wrapping, crumpling up the first tissue-like pre-wrap and stuffing it into the outer wrap, then replacing the burger. This technique exposes the majority of the burger, providing leverage for ease of ingestion while still keeping the burger intact and fingers relatively clean.
The original In-N-Out, in Baldwin Park, is claimed to be California’s first drive-thru.
The Apple Pan: The Westside’s best burger? Perhaps. Burger joint with the most character? Definitely. The Apple pan is one of those places that’s packed full of regulars. As a first-timer, I almost felt embarrassed asking for a menu, which are tucked away, out of site. I wasn’t fortunate enough to score a seat, all of which surround the “kitchen” in a u-shaped counter. I settled for a to go order of the Original Steakburger with fries. As I waited, I stood and watched the place work.
Two mustachioed men work the counter, taking orders, serving burgers, sandwiches and pie, fetching cans of Coke (no fountain drinks here). They are lightning quick, especially with ketchup refills (no, you don’t tap the 57’s yourself). These guys pull Heinz bottles from under the counter and masterfully, under 2.3 seconds, thrust blobs of ketchup onto small paper plates. Amazing. The burgers are retrieved and planted straight onto the counter no plates, no placemats to mess with.
My to go order didn’t merit any ketchup service, which disappointed me. The fries desperately needed something. Salt for sure. But I knew this place wasn’t known for its fries. The steakburger, never housing a tomato slice, gets Tillamook cheddar, not American. The top-bun (seedless) is slathered with a signature tangy-sweet relish sauce, reminiscent of Bob’s but tangier. A generous wedge of crisp iceberg gives the burger some girth. The steakburger stands on its own it doesn’t even need the fries. But I would get them just for the ketchup service.
The Apple Pan (the original and only since April of 1947) is located at 10801 Pico, between Overland and Westwood.
The Father’s Office: I’m usually not a fan of the fancied-up burger, but at this beer, beer and more beer and wine bar on Montana in Santa Monica, the burger is pleasing to the eye and tastes like you’re paying for quality. Deeply caramelized onions and lively arugula lend a sweet and peppery compliment to the juicy, cooked-how-you-like-it, dry-aged beef patty. Maytag blue and Gruyere add a sharpness of flavor. The traditional bun is replaced by a French roll, which fits the patty's oval shape. Crisp, fresh, delicious piled-high “Frites” or “Sweet Potato Frites” can be ordered at additional cost, which I recommend for sharing. But don’t ask for ketchup the place is devoid of Heinz bottles. Basic or blue cheese aioli, in ramekins, is served instead.
Fred 62:They call her the Juicy Lucy. She's held together by a what looks like a coffee stirrer with two potato chips fused together at the top with a parsley sprig in between. But that's beside the point. This burger shines for many reasons. For one, the bun is actually flavorful. On most burgers the tasteless bun merely acts as holding device a vehicle to get burger to mouth. Juicy Lucy's bun lends a flavor and texture balance (perfectly toasted, soft with slightly crisp edges) to the other burger components. Second, the red onion (which, to me, is the better onion choice for burgers) is thinly sliced, providing just the right amount of sweet onion "background noise." Thirdly, the shredded iceberg melds with the Thousand Island spread, which minimizes drips while providing an interesting salad-like component. Finally, the patty, an eight-ouncer, blanketed in melted cheddar, is seasoned well and cooked to the perfect medium-rare. Yes, you can see a good amount of pink.
Fred 62 is a can't miss lime green and orange building on the corner of Vermont and Rodney in the trendy Los Feliz. The waitresses in all black mini-skirted Dickies outfits and waiters in black T-shirts reading a stark "FRED 62," serve up everything from Belly Bomb omelets to sandwiches called The Manhandler. And the Juicy Lucy has a little sister called the Wimpy Burger (just 6 ounces).
My Los Angeles Burger Tour has been fun and quite filling. I'm sure I've missed a contending place or two, or many. I greatly welcome any recommendations.
Photos: Father's Office burger image provided by The Father's Office. All other images by Kristin Franklin.
Tar & Roses is a globally inspired culinary experience.
Chef Andrew Kirschner has transformed his kitchen into a local and welcoming home, focused on the element of the wood fired oven to bring out the best flavor in our dishes. Coming straight from the visionary mind of our award winning chef, our menu is created with only the highest quality ingredients and fresh, local products. This attention to detail helps makes our food a perfected craft which will inspire you to be adventurous, in the most approachable and delicious way possible.
With our heart beating in Southern California, we want to create a welcoming ambiance for all to come and celebrate food. Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times, claimed that Tar & Roses ". may also mark the first time in our nation&aposs history when cauliflower became more delicious than prime steak," and we love to push the limits when it comes to traditional ideas of food. With our rotating selection of local craft beer and our ever-changing menu, there is always something new and exciting to try.
When you step into Tar & Roses, you&aposll feel like you are coming home. Our entire staff awaits your arrival with warm smiles and thoughtful service
Danes’ Meatpacking District
THE directions to Copenhagen’s coolest art gallery sound more like a traipse through a deranged carnivore’s hallucinations: Enter the low-slung industrial complex called Kodbyen (literally, Meat City), the city’s meatpacking district stroll down the street called Slagterboderne (Butcher Stalls) pass the building topped by an enormous cow statue and amble across Flaesketorvet (Pork Square) until you reach No. 69.
But the sides of beef you might have once found have been replaced by avant art at the year-old V1 gallery (Flaesketorvet 69-71 45-33-31-03-21 www.v1gallery.com). The combination of setting and art a recent exhibit included the work of Neckface, an American known for cartoonishly violent drawings couldn’t be more appropriate.
Under an innovative plan by the city, which owns the land, abandoned butcheries and processing plants are being leased to art spaces, designers, cafes and clubs that, the city hopes, will transform the slightly deteriorated district into a hotbed of creativity. And unlike similar districts in cities like New York, the neighborhood is still home to active meat-processing facilities, with the wholesalers, refrigeration trucks and forklifts to prove it.
“If you come here at 4 a.m., you will see all the club kids coming home and all the butchers arriving in their white, bloody clothes,” said Jesper Elg, the director of V1, which has hosted shows by international of-the-moment artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey.
Thanks to a secluded location on the city fringe, Meat City has been able to welcome provocative, zany and strange concepts that might not succeed in Copenhagen’s more genteel center.
At Art Rebels (No. 17-19 45-26-22-33-73 www.artrebels.com), a meat locker is now a changing area for zebra-print dresses, toddlers’ dresses from Bangbang Copenhagen (450 kroner, $87 at 5.2 kroner to the dollar) and drainpipe trousers by Froks (700 kroner).
Karriere (No. 57-67 45-33-21-55-09 www.karrierebar.com) is beloved for its cocktails, flavored with classically Danish ingredients like birch water and elderflower juice, and its attitude: "yuppies," warns the menu, may be charged extra for their beers.
Nearby, under a cow statue, perhaps Copenhagen’s hottest new restaurant, Fiskebaren (No. 100 no phone www.fiskebaren.dk), has drawn raves both for its chic interiors and loyally Danish seafood creations like tartare of Jutland trout (75 kroner), and blue mussels from Holbaek Fjord, steamed in apple cider (75 kroner).
But during a recent visit, the night’s liveliest party was at the Jolene Bar (No. 81-85 45-35-85-69-60 www.myspace.com/jolenebar). By midnight, the line to get in was a sea of fedoras, skinny ties and horn-rimmed glasses. Inside, the crowd danced and smashed together at the bar, where the all-Icelandic staff slung green bottles of Carls-berg beer. Like the bar’s name, the interior pays tribute to Dolly Parton: a row of her LPs hangs proudly on the wall alongside a sign that warns, “We are not a [expletive] cocktail bar.”
Dora Duna, a co-owner, praised Meat City for saving the life of Jolene, which started in the trendy Norrebro neighborhood before the police shut it down for excessive noise.
“We can play the music as loud as we want here.” she said. “We are never going to leave.”
34 Best Canned Cocktails to Sip All Summer Long
Summer barbecues were made for pre-made canned cocktails. Even beer lovers can appreciate these mixes&mdashfrom classic vodka sodas and Mai Tais to intricate flavor blends of watermelon and mint or cranberry and elderflower. No matter what your alcohol preferences are, we've got your next afternoon drink covered. The best part? You literally have to lift just one finger to enjoy them&mdashno mixing and blending of a million ingredients required. Just tuck one of our picks for best canned cocktails into your beach bag or picnic cooler and thank us later. Cheers!
The only thing better than lemonade on a hot summer day is spiked lemonade. Crook & Marker's variety pack includes raspberry, blueberry, watermelon, and a classic lemon flavor so everyone at your backyard BBQ is satisfied.
Pulp Culture's line of alcoholic juices contain no sugar or added sweeteners and yet they pack a whole lot of flavor and probiotics. Similar in taste to a fruity kombucha, each can comes in at just 99 calories.
Vodka lovers looking for something different, here's what you've been waiting for. Spa Girl's line of canned cocktails come in cucumber, pear, and peach&mdashand each one is just 48 calories.
Nantucket and cranberries go hand in hand, so it makes sense that Triple Eight Distillery just launched a canned vodka soda with cranberry. If you're more of a blueberry person, the brand also has a blueberry-and-vodka version.
There are a lot of hard seltzers on the market today, but this one is a winner. The flavors are vibrant and there's no weird aftertaste. Plus, each 12-ounce can comes in at only 110 calories. The Weekender Mix Pack includes black cherry, raspberry lime, ruby red grapefruit, and pineapple pomelo.
Tequila, lime, and bubbles: what more can you ask for? The brand also has a classic tequila-only version and one with pineapple and rosemary flavors so you can take your pick.
If you thought wine coolers were a thing of the past, think again. Bartles & Jaymes elevates the experience with complex flavor profiles like ginger and lemon, grapefruit and green tea, watermelon and mint, and cucumber and lime&mdashall made with white wine.
Here's the answer for anyone who wants a classic cocktail without the fuss of mixing a ton of ingredients. Blue Marble has bloody Marys, greyhounds, and Moscow Mules.
The canned cocktails from Miami Cocktail Co. are low in sulfites and sugar&mdashand only 110 calories a pop. The Bellini Spritz and Mimosa Spritz are perfect for brunch while the Sangria, Margarita, and Paloma Spritz are great for afternoon sipping on the back deck.
These fizzy cocktails are perfect for stashing in your beach cooler. The variety pack includes margaritas, strawberry lemonades, and blackberry mojitos.
The Bramble Mule takes the classic Moscow mule to a whole new fruity level. It's a mix of vodka, raspberry juice, hibiscus, and ginger.
Blackberries, spearmint, and lemon give bourbon whiskey a new spin here. Just watch out&mdashwith an ABV of 10%, it's a doozy. The Cocktail Squad brand also sells canned greyhounds, margaritas, whiskey sours, gin and tonics, and vodka sodas to please any drinker.
A good G&T can turn any day around, but Conniption also sells canned rosé spritz and vodka soda for when you're in the mood for something else.
Cutwater Spirits has you covered no matter what type of cocktail you gravitate to. Their line includes a rum and ginger soda, grapefruit and vodka soda, whiskey and lemon tea, rum and cola, tequila Paloma, margarita, and vodka mule.
You don't have to go to Hawaii or buy a bunch of ingredients to enjoy a nice Mai Tai. This one from Fling Craft Cocktail will make you feel like you're on a tropical island even if you're in the backyard.
Satisfy your inner Carrie Bradshaw with a sparkling cosmo in a can or opt for Joia Spirit's canned Moscow mule or greyhound.
Have an espresso martini anywhere without the hassle of brewing coffee. Pop the tab on this can to activate a smooth nitro foam that complements the vodka-Kahlúa-coffee concoction inside.
Tea drinkers, rejoice! Loverboy's line of hard teas (which includes hibiscus pom, white tea peach, and black tea lemon) will give you the taste you love along with a nice buzz.
We've all stirred Malibu into an at-home cocktail at some point. Now the company is making happy hour even easier by doing the mixing for you and serving up their blends in cans.
If there ever was a can that screamed "American summer," this red, white, and blue number is it. Mezzo Spiritz Blood Orange is a mix of cider and sparkling water with flavor from botanicals.
If you've never had it before, the Caipirinha is Brazil's national cocktail. In addition to a mango-flavored version, Novo Fogo also sells cans with lime and passionfruit flavors.
You can now sip a mimosa without ever popping a bottle of champagne. Like the classic cocktail, this one from Ohza combines sparkling wine and orange juice, but has less sugar and fewer calories.
Pabst is now serving up the perfect drink for early-morning tailgaters and afternoon iced coffee aficionados. This malt liquor drink is the creamy coffee you've always said you would add a shot to but never did.
When you're tired of regular lime vodka sodas, reach for the canned cocktails from Rogue Spirits. In addition to the grapefruit vodka soda pictured here, they also sell a cucumber lime gin fizz, a cranberry elderflower vodka soda, and a ginger lime vodka mule.
You remember Smirnoff Ice, right? Well, the Smirnoff company has now expanded to canned cocktails. This bubbly one is tropical blend of pineapple and coconut, but Smirnoff Smash is also available in strawberry lemon, peach mango, and cherry lime.
This refreshing vodka soda has hints of lime, rosemary, blood orange, and pomelo. The Southern Tier Craft Cocktails line also includes a bourbon smash, vodka madras, and gin and tonic.
This simple tequila, lemon, and lime beverage is just one of the yummy sparkling canned cocktails sold by Two Chicks. If you're craving something different, they also sell a vodka fizz, sparkling Paloma, vodka CuTea, new fashioned, and apple gimlet.
You know canned cocktails are a thing when even Earl Grey tea is having its moment in the can. This one also has hints of elderflower.
You and Yours Distillery is making things easy for you by selling pre-made cocktails that use their own spirits. In addition to the vodka mule, they also sell a gin and tonic, vodka soda cranberry, blood orange gin and tonic, vodka soda key lime, and vodka soda tangerine.
Archer Roose is known for its canned wines, but don't forget about its spritz rosé. With the addition of bubbles, there are fewer calories and half the alcohol that's in a typical rosé, making it the perfect can to sip during afternoon drinking.
This cider combines peach, elderberry, apple, cherry, strawberry, and lime for a fruity punch. The company recommends it with tapas, seafood paella, and goat cheese.
Here's another nice rosé spritz for you, but this one is higher in alcohol content&mdashabout that of a normal wine. It pairs well with fish and chicken.
If you've never had kombucha before, here's your chance. Black cherry will please most tastebuds, but this line from Flying Embers also comes in ancient berry, lemon orchard, grapefruit thyme, pineapple chili, and ginger oak.
Here's another great hard kombucha to round out this list. Blood orange mint is super drinkable acai berry, honey ginger lemon, hoptical citrus, cucumber mojito, and midnight painkiller.
5. Planetary Transparency + Societal Care
Products with origin claims (e.g., &ldquomade in the USA,&rdquo &ldquoartisanal,&rdquo or &ldquolocal&rdquo) posted the highest dollar sales growth among foods/beverages carrying a benefit descriptor for the year ended Dec. 27, 2020, according to IRI&rsquos innovation report. &ldquoReal ingredients&rdquo was the most sought-after descriptor on frozen foods, per AFFI.
Renewal Mill urges customers to fight climate change by purchasing its cookie mixes made from upcycled ingredients. Photo courtesy of Renewal Mill
Renewal Mill urges customers to fight climate change by purchasing its cookie mixes made from upcycled ingredients. Photo courtesy of Renewal Mill
Claims supporting societal care (e.g., &ldquoB-corporation,&rdquo &ldquoeco-friendly,&rdquo or &ldquofair trade&rdquo) grew 14%. One-quarter of consumers say knowing where their food comes from is very important, according to IFIC.
Foods touting humane treatment of animals grew 21%, ethical claims were up 19%, and recyclable claims climbed by 12%. Packaged Facts reports that six in 10 consumers are more concerned about humane treatment of animals than they were two years ago.
Expect a new trend of hydroponic production with labeling as &ldquoregionally grown produce.&rdquo Fresh herbs and salad kits from Living Greens Farms are dual labeled &ldquoindoor grown&rdquo and &ldquoMidwest local produce.&rdquo Pictsweet Farms has added &ldquo100% grown on American soil,&rdquo which 87% of consumers say they prefer. Hartman reports that half of consumers are aware of/interested in regenerative agriculture.
Upcycled ingredients are also grabbing attention among consumers concerned about food waste. Renewal Mill uses organic okara, oat milk, and sunflower cake flours in its upcycled baking and cookie mixes.
Nearly a third (30%) of U.S. consumers believe that the pace of climate change will increase in 2021, according to Ipsos. While one-quarter of consumers think that animal agriculture has some impact on the environment, only 10% believe it has &ldquoa lot of negative impact,&rdquo according to FMI. Humane treatment of animals and regenerative agriculture resonate with consumers, but they are not strong purchase motivators unless a product satisfies other top consumer priorities (e.g., taste).
Loud music at restaurants could be leading you to order burgers over salads, study says
Noisy restaurants are a source of perennial complaints, but it’s not just diners’ ears that are affected — it’s their waistlines, too. A new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science has found that if ambient music played in a restaurant is louder, the customers are more susceptible to choose unhealthful foods.
Dipayan Biswas, a marketing professor at the University of South Florida, conducted the study at a cafe in Stockholm, where various genres of music were played on a loop at 55 decibels and 70 decibels at different times, for several days. When the music was louder, researchers found 20 percent more customers ordered something that was not good for them, compared to those who dined during the lower-volume times.
Softer music is calming, and louder music gets us amped up. “Volume is proven to directly impact heart rate and arousal,” according to the study. And it affects our decision-making, as well: In the soothing quiet of some gentle jazz, we have better self-control, and we make better decisions about which foods would be better for us. But in the excitement of loud rock music, we want meat and cheese on a bun, dammit, and some french fries on the side. Oh, and a beer . . . or three.
Though the study is new, it reinforces conventional wisdom that restaurant owners have known for quite some time: Creating the right atmosphere is essential.
Music “creates a vibe. Your body starts tingling,” said Alex McCoy, the chef-owner of Lucky Buns, a burger restaurant in Washington. “The more essential you make the experience, the more your brain just starts going crazy. You want to buy things, you want to eat, you want to meet people.”
McCoy’s internationally inspired burgers and fried chicken sandwiches have been lauded as some of the best in the District, and his restaurant is, according to Yelp reviewers, “wicked loud,” “but worth it!” He typically plays loud Euro house music or reggae, letting the thumping beat pulse through the restaurant, “ a playlist that allows [guests] to get lost in the music.”
“Different songs, mixtures, genres of music, it creates this chaotic setting,” he said. “And to me, those create the best bar vibe, when a song comes on and [diners are] like, ‘Oh yes! That’s the song! Get a round of drinks.’”
McCoy says he has never compared his sales during periods of different volumes of music. But there are four side salads on the menu, and any burger or fried chicken sandwich can be served on a bed of lettuce with no bun. You will not be surprised to learn that these options have not been top-sellers, especially compared with the burgers served with bacon jam and Gouda, or the fried chicken with pickles and Sriracha.
Restaurants weren’t always this loud. New York Magazine food writer Adam Platt pinned the origin of the “great noise boom” to the late ’90s, when now-disgraced Mario Batali’s restaurant Babbo was known for blasting Led Zeppelin, the Who and the Pixies. (The chef is now facing a criminal investigation after he has been accused of sexual assault.) Chefs such as David Chang began to ascend to the status of rock stars, and they pumped up the volume in their restaurants, all in an effort to draw in younger people who liked the raucous vibe. But loud restaurants can be a deterrent for older guests or the hard of hearing, or people who just want to enjoy dinner conversation without shouting till they are hoarse.