Posts Tagged ‘Duck Fat’

After a night of partying hard, what should people expect to feel like the following morning? Depending on the actions taken during the previous night, a person can feel anywhere from refreshed to exhausted to downright hungover in the morning. For those on the lower end, people can take up multiple types of remedies to relieve the fatigue and pain caused from excessive drinking the previous night. Some may take a cold shower, while some may drink black coffee. On the more aggressive end, the “hair of the dog” approach sees them drinking again that morning, but in lesser quantities to act as “downward stairs” to slowly descend from a boozy night to a manageable morning. Drinking lots of water always helps, but so far, the best remedy involves eating a greasy breakfast. Although terrible for your health (and drinking ruins your health too), greasy foods act as alcohol sponges, since the oil will help to nullify the effects of alcohol in your system. Sunday brunch typically involves this approach, plus the “hair of the dog” approach, to generate a fatty breakfast plus a mimosa or two, a drink light enough on alcohol that serves as the perfect vessel to bring down a previous night’s high. Sure you can have your omelet bars or pancakes and such, but if you want to truly indulge, take a trip to Beer Belly for the guiltiest pleasures in Sunday brunches.

Nestled deep inside Koreatown largely hidden from street view, Beer Belly lives up to its name as a food and beer institution. Imagine your typical gastropub looking all fancy and such, then along comes Beer Belly to tear it all down and deliver taste directly to your face. Beer Belly does not utilize standard restaurant service procedures – guests order food at the bar/counter, receive a number, then sit down and wait for a server to deliver the goods. These goods include conventional bar snacks elevated to a new level. For example, I can rave all day about their grilled cheese, but I shall save that for another day. Their Sunday brunch includes some items exclusive to that menu, such as their Chicken “IN” Waffle – again, saving that for another day. During brunch hours, the regular menu remains available, allowing access to Sunday morning goodies such as their Death By Duck. This duck three-way item comes with Duck Fat Fries (with Smoked Salt and Sweet Onion Sugar), Duck Skin Cracklins, Duck Confit, and Raspberry Mustard sauce. Sauce? Who needs sauce? Once you bite into a fry, you may quack in ecstasy as the duck fat oozes out from the fry to vehemently massage your taste buds. Set that sauce aside for now and savor the ducky flavor, because a duck sacrificed itself so that you may relish this moment. Just for fun, because they serve it here, pair this duck three-way with a nice cold light beer, such as a cream ale, pilsner, or lager.

Duck got your tongue? You can nab a Death By Duck from Beer Belly for just $8. You can find Beer Belly in Koreatown west of Downtown Los Angeles on S Western Avenue between 5th and 6th Street. Once you can locate Iota and I Love Boba, look at the back of the parking lot between the two, and you will find Beer Belly. Guests can park in the parking lot on the other side of I Love Boba, though I suggest parking in the neighborhood via 5th Street. If you find yourself believing in the powers of the almighty Beer Belly, check out the rest of their menu when you arrive there. Bring friends too, as you will all want to come back sooner than later.

As we embark on a new year, we look back on the previous year to learn and make progress for the upcoming year. Day by day, people live their lives, some by a set routine, others by thriving on new discoveries and expansions. The human race always seeks to progress culture by devising and adapting new approaches to existing methods. While not all humans share the same interests, all humans at least bear knowledge about food, as everyone has eaten food their entire lives. From the early days of basic meats, vegetables, and grains, food has evolved into a vast range of ingredients, tastes, cooking methods, and presentation. Innovative foods often make headlines as a new discovery, so as a result, many modern chefs tend to experiment more rather than stick to basics. Over time, many food trends surface, giving way to entrepreneurs to capitalize on those growing trends, such as cupcakes, frozen yogurt, and the recent gourmet food trucks trend. However, many food trends remain relatively undisturbed, known only to the true food fans. Last year saw a few food trends touched on, yet they still have not flourished. Read on to find out five food trends to pay attention to this year.

5. Duck Fat

320 Main‘s Duck Fat Fries

Ask any meat eater about their favorite meat, and nine times out of ten you will receive “Bacon” as the response. Those nine people also agree that the tenth person should shut up, but that argument belongs to someone else. Anyways, most people recognize that fried foods get fried in oil, which does not add much flavor to the end product, just the crunch. Most mass-produced food tend to use cheaper ingredients, like how many chain restaurants fry their fries in oil. When you start to step up the quality, you see the previously mass-produced foods getting prepared in small batches. Have you ever tried a small batch of fries fried in duck fat? Move over, bacon – duck fat fries carry tons more flavor, cooked right into each fry. Sure one can cook fries in bacon grease, but in addition to gaining more bad grease than flavor, does the fryer use high-quality bacon or store-bought bacon? Besides just fries, plenty of other foods can cook in duck fat. Duck carries more flavor and texture than chicken and turkey, as most ducks live in the wild. Always remember that wild meat almost always outperforms farm meat in every category.

4. The Influx of Gastropubs

Red Table‘s Loco Moco

When deciding on a place to go dine out, do you ask where to go, or do you get asked where to go? Traditionally, recommendations go along the line of cuisine type, such as Asian, Italian, Mexican, Sushi, and so forth. But when you ask someone where to eat (or vice versa), how often would you hear someone mention a gastropub? Until recently, nobody had even heard of the word gastropub. With the recent preference shift towards higher quality food, people started recognizing the significance of gastropubs in the restaurant circuit. If you have not heard of a gastropub, imagine a pub that serves craft beer and high-end food at reasonable prices. Because of how recent gastropubs started emerging, most gastropubs feature nontraditional dishes, preferring to think outside of the box they call a kitchen, and rambling up something crazy that works. Want to see pulled duck, cheese, and a fried egg over fries? Only at a gastropub. Want to see french toast, bacon, maple syrup, and peanut butter ice cream? Only at a gastropub. Want to see a bacon-wrapped meatloaf stuffed with a hard-boiled egg? Only at a gastropub. You can find amazing food at a gastropub that you most likely will not find anywhere else.

3. Cooking with Craft Beer

The Viking Truck‘s Wipeout IPA Lamb Sliders

The popularity of craft beer has soared over the past few years. While the same few fizzy yellow beers continue to dominate market share across the globe, as people get educated about craft beer, the preference shifts from cheap beer to quality beer. Like wine, craft beer pairs well with almost all food, especially meat. Also like wine, the color of the beer should pair with the meat; e.g. wheat or white ales should pair with poultry, and brown or amber ales should pair with red meat. Some crafty chefs have experimented with cooking with craft beer as well. Following the simple aforementioned pairing guide, chefs have churned out food made with craft beer, which dynamically alters the entire dish. Cooking with alcohol usually burns it all off, allowing minors to order the food, but the reduction process enhances the dish, modifying the flavor to something different than the beer. Do not see it as tasting like a mix of the two – see it as an entirely new dish. Once you eat something prepared with craft beer, you will understand what I mean.

2. Meat in Desserts

UMAMIcatessen‘s Foie Gras & Jelly Donut

How often does one end a meal with a component of the main course? When selecting dessert, people want something sweet, or perhaps a warm drink like coffee or tea. Would you ever expect to eat a dessert contained meat? To some people, they see meat as their choice of comfort food, and thus opt towards something meaty. But if those people ever found out about dessert with meat in it, I doubt I could keep them down for long. This food trend started over a decade ago, when some restaurants served dessert with bacon in or on it. Since people did not accept this change back then, it fell out of favor… until recently. When the good food revolution came about, all sorts of people wanted to explore the culinary world to find out what they had ever missed. One restaurant created a chocolate bar with bacon in it, which got them on the Food Network. Since then, multitudes of restaurants across the world have followed suit, attempting to build working desserts with meat in it. Today, bacon remains the most popular choice for meat in dessert. But with no real limits now, chefs can freely test ideas without getting scrutinized. Fancy some candied duck confit?

1. Crazy Burgers

2nd Floor‘s Sailor Jerry Burger

You cannot start cooking something without the foundation of the dish. Prior to cooking, one needs to know what to make. Will the customer eat food with a knife and fork, or with bare hands? Understanding the template changes the dish completely, and even after selecting the template, building the dish can go any way. With the recent surge of gastropubs, people now look at hamburgers as something gourmet instead of something cheap from fast food places. As a basic template, restaurants can freely throw whatever they want onto a patty and call it a hamburger. Would you like some peanut butter, jelly, bacon, and hot sauce on that burger? How about some pork belly and barbacoa beef? Have you have a burger with chicken and waffles on it? I have tried all of these, and will never stop searching for the ultimate burger. No limit exists in the creation of a hamburger, only that the chef or cook uses a meat (or meat substitute) patty. Erase any preconceived notions you may have about hamburgers. Forget about fast food chains or chain restaurants that will not cook your burger medium rare. You owe yourself a fine (medium rare) burger with toppings that synergize with the patty. Extravagant toppings make the burger look epic, but if they overpower the burger, then you ordered an open-faced sandwich.

Although 2012 showed much progress with many different types of food, 2013 appears promising as far as pushing the boundaries of delicious food. Chefs constantly work to devise new & creative foods that patrons can fall in love with and tell their friends about. The way I see it, in order to garner success, one needs to invent or reinvent. In other words, one needs to create something brand new, or take an existing idea and improve it, which applies to both the art and the canvas. Many people tend to look only at the art without acknowledging the quality of the canvas. Culinarily, the toppings, which represent the art, may enhance the appearance and flavor of a dish, but you need the base template, which represents the canvas, in order to build the dish. Burgers represent a basic yet open-ended canvas to craft works of art. The majority of the world only sees burgers for what you can top them with; however, the quality of the meat greatly determines the overall quality of the burger – after all, you cannot have a burger without the patty. Read on to discover five burgers in the Greater Los Angeles area that I urge you to try this season.

5. Tavern On 2‘s Black & Blue Burger

Leave it to small-town charm to come up with a burger this succulent. Tavern On 2 enters this list with their Black & Blue Burger. With their recent expansion, they also decided to step up the quality of their burgers. Tavern serves a good variety of burgers, but by far the Black & Blue remains their most popular among locals. This burger gets topped with maytag blue cheese, rosemary-candied woodfired bacon, horseradish mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes. They recently switched the bread to a pretzel bun to keep with the theme of a true gastropub. Tavern serves all burgers and sandwiches with a side salad and house-made chips. The combination of blue cheese and bacon dates back to the 90’s, yet very few restaurants get it right. Tavern On 2 does this concept justice with their Black & Blue. Pair it with one of their fine craft beers, and you have a meal worth feeling proud of.

4. Burger Parlor‘s The Royal w/ Cheese

Sometimes a restaurant serves something so amazing that they may not even list it on their regular menu, and only feature it as a secret item. Bruxie Waffles currently does that with their Prosciutto Hash & Egg, which they only sell on weekends and sell out within hours of opening due to the overwhelming reception of that creation. In Downtown Fullerton, Burger Parlor does that with their most expensive burger, The Royal w/ Cheese. Chef Joseph Mahon cooks this burger medium rare, then tops it with bacon, fried onions, tomato, lettuce, truffle oil, chipotle aioli, and a fried egg. Always keep in mind that flavor tends to scale positively with the mess it generates on your hands! The juices that flow from the burger patty coupled with the oozing egg will leave your hand tasting delicious – just take care not to start sucking on your fingers in public. Pair this burger with one of their craft beers on tap for a terrific meal.

3. Lazy Ox Canteen‘s Lazy Ox Burger

When someone random recommends a place to eat, you typically have to understand that person’s tastes. When a reputable source recommends a place to eat, you can bet that place will have amazing food. Accepting recommendations comes with risk, as you may not know what to expect, since a person may like something that you do not, even if that person speaks for an entity. Biting the bullet and moving on the recommendation, I land at Lazy Ox Canteen in Downtown Los Angeles. This dim little restaurant carries some interesting meals fit for large groups in addition to the standard individual plates. Per my mission, I dove straight for their Lazy Ox Burger, complete with whole grain mustard and white cheddar, served with kennebec fries. The mustard truly gives this burger its unique kick with its tangy texture, as it brings out the full flavor of the beef patty. Although the burger appears small, Lazy Ox packs a lot into each bite. Despite its location in Downtown LA, parking meters right outside only operate until 8pm, and do not operate at all on Sundays. Take advantage of this and go order a Lazy Ox Burger!

2. Chapter One: The Modern Local‘s American Burger

Meat, meat, and more meat. Apologies to the vegetarians and vegans out there, for I know that meatless burgers exist. Sadly, meatless burgers can never measure up to the real thing in taste and quality. If you want to scare off a vegetarian or vegan, find out how much meat you can pile onto a burger, which Chapter One: The Modern Local appears to have done to their burger. In addition to the beef patty, Chapter One also includes pork belly and bacon on their American Burger, as if one type of meat does not deserve to stand alone. Just for safety’s sake, Chapter One throws white cheddar fondue, roasted shallots, pork belly jus, aioli, lettuce, and tomato on the burger, then scoop up some duck fat fries for your snacking enjoyment. I feel sad for vegetarians, as they will never get a chance to savor this meaty burger. But if you eat meat, you have a chance to try what everybody talks about here! With each bite, savor every ingredient on the burger, from the beef to the pork belly to the bacon. Also consider finishing off your meal with one of their donuts, like their Bourbon Bacon Banana Donut, and walk away from Chapter One feeling like a true hero.

1. The Parish‘s Burger

Embrace simplicity. Sometimes you have to take things back to square one to analyze where you stand. In this world of add-ons and multitudes of color, we often lose sight of what lies behind all the bells and whistles. An artist can slap on dozens of layers of colors and paints onto the canvas and call it art. But what could one make of the actual canvas? A painter cannot claim that title without the canvas, as any artist requires a solid foundation before initiating the work of art. At The Parish in Downtown Los Angeles, they fully recognize the importance of the canvas, and build their food around it instead of covering it up. The Parish forgoes the fancy building of additions to their food, and focus on the base of the food, which you can find most apparent in their burger. This simple yet untitled Burger consists of one of the best beef patties you will ever sink your teeth into, Époisse cheese, and highly caramelized onions, all on grilled ciabatta bread. Their menu claims that the burger contains pickled carrots and arugula, but unless I mistook the onions for those, I could not detect any of those in the burger. Almost all burger patties cooked medium rare contain pink in the very middle. At The Parish, their burgers come pink all the way right to just before the edge, yet the patty still retains a crisp texture on the outside. The juices seep into the bottom bun, creating a wet yet meaty handle for the burger. Lastly, the cheese and onions work overtime to bring out the meatiness of the patty. Oh, and you get fries with your burger too. I randomly stumbled upon The Parish while adventuring in Downtown LA one day. I love their location – at the end of a building peninsula located in the center where Main St and Spring St split off like a Y. With a cafe downstairs and the main dining room and bar upstairs, The Parish truly has all grounds covered to operate a successful business. Do yourself a favor and get to The Parish and try their food – I promise you will not stop thinking about the food once you try it.

Since the ban of Foie Gras, eager eaters have searched for alternative ways to sate their lust for the quack. Finding out how tough a quack-less life would turn into, eaters compiled an unwritten compilation of places serving the best duck-based dishes. Not one to pass this opportunity, I joined in on this hunt, searching for the best hidden gem nestled in a duck. One recommendation led to another, which finally landed me at the front patio of 320 Main in Seal Beach.

One of the underrated gems of the 714, 320 Main serves modern renditions of American comfort food. With a variety of classics like Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup to adult favorites like Blackened Chicken or BBQ Ribs, 320 Main covers a wide scope of tastes. Besides their regular menu, 320 Main’s Happy Hour menu contains a few items not on the regular menu, one of which you can see above. For $5 during Happy Hour, you can order their Duck Fat Fries, which contain fries fried in duck fat, duck confit, and a duck fat egg. The fries hold the duck fat flavor very well – each bite releases the inner juices of the fry, which absorbed all the duck fat during frying. For added protein, just to make it more like a meal, these fries come with not only an egg, but pieces of duck confit as well. If you have never tried duck confit, think of it as an advanced version of bacon, though down a different path than pork belly. Whereas pork belly allows you to savor a thicker piece of the pig, duck confit holds much more savory flavor and feels more comforting, texture-wise, like a natural texture that man should bite into. But anyways, I digress – you should head down to 320 Main very soon and try their Duck Fat Fries! Do note that you can only order this during Happy Hour. If you arrive at a different time, you can instead order the Smothered Duck Fries off their regular menu! (will get covered sooner than later)