I first read Charles Kuralt's America when I was 19. I've mentioned it before: Kuralt spent one month of a year in his 12 favorite American places. He spent December in New York City and wrote about some of the things he saw: I've wanted to spend a Christmas in New York ever since. The other night, Elizabeth and I went to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and the ice-skating rink. It was very cool.
Afterwards, we stopped in to Iron Chef House for dinner. I had hot tea and cold beer.
We started with an appetizer of Volcano beef: raw beef marinated in sesame and garlic sauce.
Elizabeth had the Monkey Roll (shrimp tempura and three different kinds of spicy sauce), and she generously scraped the avocado off of a couple of pieces so I could have some.
I had one of the evening's specials: a 1.5-pound lobster and veggies, stir-fried in sherry wine, black vinegar, ginger and garlic. It was delicious, if a little (a lot) messy.
One of Elizabeth's co-workers baked cookies for her, and I ate two of them when she got home. They were great.
Elizabeth's office closes the week between Christmas and New Year's, so to celebrate, she wanted to bring in cheesecake. I volunteered to pick one up from Junior's for her, as long as she promised to bring home any leftovers. It turned out, almost half the cheesecake went uneaten in the office. Which was just fine by me.
Elizabeth's parents stayed with us for two nights, so the night before they arrived in town, I picked up a big, 2.5-pound flank steak at a local market's butcher counter. I put it in a gallon bag and marinated it overnight.
The next night I cut the steak in two (I wanted to cook some of it much longer, for Elizabeth and either of her parents, in case they like steak well-done just as she does) and put it on the indoor grill.
Seven minutes on each side.
It turned out wonderfully. I got compliments (more like raves) all around.
When Elizabeth's mom learned that I had made chili a few days earlier, she got very excited and asked if there was any left. I said that I had just finished it that day for lunch. Her disappointment was obvious. "I'll make chili tomorrow night, if you like," I said.
I got a little over two pounds of ground beef, brisket and short rib blend from Paisanos and cooked it for hours in the slow-cooker with chili seasonings and onion. When it was ready I put out bowls of sharp white cheddar, pickled jalapenos, Fritos, red onion, diced pickles, and sour cream. I added everything except the last item to my bowl. It was great.
"You're two for two," Elizabeth's dad said.
The next day, for lunch, we went to Teresa's.
Elizabeth and her dad both got plates of potato pancakes as their meal. Applesauce for him, sour cream for her.
I had the corned beef sandwich. I did not care for the beef - it was as rubbery as any corned beef I have ever tasted. At least it wasn't fatty, though, and once I slathered mustard all over the sandwich, it was edible. (Plus I got an order of Teresa's fries, which are always crispy and delicious. But I didn't get a usable photo of them.)
The next day there was some leftover chili and I had an idea: I was disappointed in that Fritos Crunch Burger I had at Slater's 50/50 back in Pasadena. So why not make my own?
I got some high-quality ground beef, formed it into a patty with my burger press, grilled it, and let it rest for a few minutes with a slice of cheese on top.
Then I piled on plenty of Fritos - enough to actually give the burger crunch, as the name of the Slater's burger implied but did not deliver.
And then I poured on the reheated chili.
And topped it with Thousand Island, which doesn't seem necessary, but I wanted to get all the details right.
I had no complaints about this burger. The Slater's burger utilized a better bun than the egg bun that I used here, but this was better in every other way.