A Burger State of Mind

This year, to celebrate its 10th Birthday, Shake Shack invited some of the best chefs for a collaboration, and asked them to create their own burgers.  David Chang, with his shrimp burger, caused a four hour line up at the original Shack in Madison Square Park. Cov

This past Sunday, the London branch of Shake Shack in Covent Garden made Massimo Bottura’s Emilia Burger available for the people of London for one day only.  So, I had to go (I mean, how could I not?).   I made my way to Covent Garden about 45 minutes before the opening, to try to avoid any massive lines (I was one of the first 15 I’d say).  We received a small bottle of balsamic vinegar that Massimo used to make the balsamic mayo for his burger.  Okay, enough with my shit writing.  Let’s get on to the burger and the photos.

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The Emilia burger.  100% Aberdeen Angus beef patty ground with cotechino sausage and parmigiano reggiano, topped with salsa verde and Villa Manodori balsamic mayonnaise.  It was messy.  It was good, but it was still messy.  The salsa verde, was as Massimo said, “key” because it cut through everything and cleaned your palate.  I also got a cheeseburger (with everything) to compare with, and personally, I preferred the original (I’m a sucker for the classics).

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Copies of Massimo’s book “Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef” were sold and available for signing as well (One for me, one for my head chef, and one for my Italian mate from Modena).

DSC_1405 DSC_1398Before the day was over, Massimo took it upon himself to award Mark Rosati, the food director of Shake Shack, (I’d kill…or give up pizza and fried chicken, my favorite foods  to have his job) three Michelin stars (note Mark’s whites). All in all it was a morning and afternoon (and 100 quid) well spent. Man I love Shake Shack.

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Dinner…at lunch? Or lunch at Dinner?

I’m not dead!  I’ve just been lazy, and working, and…yeah…that’s about it. So, been almost a year since my last post. Let’s see…moved a few times, spent, earned, and lost money, got a new job, and uh…disappointingly, only had two Michelin starred meals. Oh, and I’ve asked a bunch of European girls to marry me cause I’ve got three months left in London, and it’s so awesome that I don’t want to leave.

So I went to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge, and it was great.  I can’t wait to go back.

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White and Brown Sourdough breads with salted butter

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Meat Fruit.  A iconic dish to the restaurant.  It is to Dinner, what Oysters and Pearls are to The French Laundry.

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Brown Butter Ice Cream.

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Tipsy cake.  Get two, seriously, and don’t feel guilty about it either.

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Earl Grey infused Chocolate Ganache with Caraway biscuit.

Cold Sunrise

Sometimes, it’s worth getting up early, especially for that one shot, although, in this case, it was a few shots, later stitched together.

Please click the photo to see it in an enlarged version.

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6 seconds of Times Square

I really like this photo I took in Times Square during my trip to NYC, and I wanted to share it with everyone.

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San Diego Comic Con 2013.

Comic Con is over, and now, we’re just left with memories, photos, maybe a little debt, and all the cool swag we picked up. This was a bit of a bittersweet year for me as two of my Comic con buddies were unable to attend. However, highlights of my con include getting told by Moon Bloodgood (Falling Skies) that she wants a Chocopie from me next year, as well meeting the one, the only, the legendary, Thomas Keller of Sci Fi, Joss Whedon. Yeah, that’s right. Joss freakin’ Whedon.

As always, I started the con with walkabout of the exhibition floor. I had done that the previous night during preview night, but, each day, swag changes, exclusive products become available for purchase, and some crazy shit goes down. You could spend all con on the floor and still never meet a person you might be searching for, or miss out on something big like a Fox poster tube giveaway, or something bigger like The Walking Dead cast signing. In previous years, I had managed to collect lots of cool things, but this year, not so much. Part of the reason was that I wasn’t looking, and the other part of the reason was that there just wasn’t much to collect. I did manage to collect two awesome things, one of which has now been sent to my friend

Some people base their con trip around going to the panels. I stay away from hall H and Ballroom 20 because they both require a minimum overnight wait to get a good seat. However, sometimes, they are worth it. Last year, fans waiting for the Firefly 10th Anniversary panel were awoken at night by Joss Whedon who signed and took photos with the fans. This year, those were patiently waited to get into the Marvel panel were treated to a special visit from Tom Hiddleston in character.

I went to the Mortal Kombat Legacy panel on Thursday. However, the general rule of thumb is that if you want to go to see a panel, you need to go to the panel that’s before or two panels before the one you want to watch, so that you can get a good seat. I sat through the Wilfred panel, and then once the panel was over, I ran up to the front, and got a good seat for the John Barrowman panel. I gotta say, John Barrowman is, to quote Sheldon Cooper, “a hoot and a half”. Sometimes you go to a panel just so you can sit through it and get a better seat for the panel you want and then the panel you’re sitting through just turns out to be so much fun. Such was the case with John Barrowman’s panel. After sitting through the panels, I managed to get a front row seat and great view of the cast of the Mortal Kombat Legacy. At the end of the panel, I ran over to Ian Anthony Dale and asked for his autograph on his name card. Also, for those of you who watch Hawaii Five-O, he’ll be back.

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The following days seem like a blur now, having passed quickly, and having been over for weeks now. However, I won’t forget the famous people I’ve met. I got a slip after three tries to the Falling Skies cast signing. Last year, I told Moon Bloodgood that I wanted to get her a chocopie for the end of the world, but I didn’t have the time to buy one. This year, I had forgotten to buy one, and so, when I explained it to her, she told me that she wants one next year. I would have to say that this year, the biggest highlight was meeting Joss Whedon. I mean, Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Avengers, etc. He’s had a lot of influence on geek fandom.

All in all, it was a fun con, bit of a pain in the ass with all the line waiting, and line confusion, but, not bad in the end. Hopefully I’ll make it again next year.

Where to eat during Comic Con

Comic Con is less than a week away, and naturally, as a glutton, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to be eating while I’m in San Diego.  My past two visits to the city have left me with mixed feelings, but also a realization that Gaslamp really sucks for great food.  Don’t misunderstand; there is good food in Gaslamp.  You won’t have to journey to Del Mar or La Jolla for a good meal.

Last year I discovered some nice places for breakfast: Grant Grill and the Broken Yolk Cafe.  the Grant Grill is located in the US Grant Hotel (hence the name) and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It’s a walk all the up to Broadway, and 4th Ave, but if you’re a block or two away, it’s worth the detour for breakfast, unless you’d rather sit or stand in the halls of the convention center, waiting to get into the Exhibition floor.

Another spot in Gaslamp, one closer to the convention center, is The Broken Yolk Cafe. Be warned, if you go in a large group, you might have to wait. Despite the number seats available, it can get busy there. I’m a solo traveller, and so, getting a table for one wasn’t difficult at all. While it may just be a diner, the food was worth my second (and I think even third, can’t quite remember) visit. I had the country fried steak, and while it was delicious, it was heavy, and left me in a bit of a food coma/ugh-I-ate-too-much state for about half an hour, but, that was the steak, not the rest of their entire menu. I’m gonna get another fried steak next week, so, I’d say it’s worth the coma.

If you’re staying near Nordstrom, then check out Panera Bread for breakfast on the go. Panera Bread is a bakery/coffee shop that servers baked goods, bread, sandwiches, and some wonderful bagels and cream cheese.

If you want to take a break from the nerdfest, head to Saltbox at the Hotel Palomar on 5th and Broadway.  They have some nice korean tacos during happy hour for a great price.

I hope you guys find this entry helpful.  Safe travels, good eating, and maybe I’ll see you at the con.

Planning for Comic Con: Mise En Place

Every time you travel, you pack, and you plan.  You book hotels or hostels, and while I may have only been to San Diego twice, I still know a thing or two that’s relevent to making your life easier.

When I go to San Diego, I try to go a day ahead.  Why?  Simple.  Outlet mall shopping.  I’m not a $100 shirt kind of guy.  Las Americas Premium Outlet Shopping Mall located at the US/Mexico border offers many great stores such as Nike, Old Navy, Banana Republic, etc.  But that’s not the only reason you should go early.  If you’re going to another city, why not take a day to explore it?  It’s San Diego.  It may not be New York, but they have beaches, California weather, Coronado Island, and Balboa Park (worth checking out by the way).

If this is your first time in San Diego, you should go a day before Pre-reg badge pickup begins (on Wednesday).  Get a feel for Gaslamp.  Get to know the area so that you don’t get lost.  When you find out that the secret Game of Thrones Fan meeting is on 5th and K, and you have no idea how to get there, knowing how the streets work in San Diego will help.  Trust me.  You can also find where everything is, from grocery shops, to post services (you’ll get so much swag that you’ll have to mail it or bin it).

Okay, so, you’ve landed a day early, and you need to stock up on supplies.  Where do you go?  My personal favorite is Ralph’s.  Oh crap, I just realized I forgot to pack my Ralph’s card.  Meh.  Moving on, Ralph’s carries fresh produce, meats and fish, snacks, toiletries, alcohol, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.  There is also  a CVS on 6th and Market, which, is pretty much a pharmacy.  It’s got your basic snacks, toiletries, cosmetics, etc, but not fresh produce.

The most important thing you’ll need to prepare in advance is lodging.  It’s hard.  Hotels and hostels will raise their prices from Wednesday to Sunday because of the Con.  I would highly recommend staying at the Hi Hostel in downtown San Diego on 5th and Market.  It’s a great location, the people downstairs are helpful, it’s got a fridge to store your food (make sure you label.), and quite frankly, it’s the best hostel in the area.  Alternatively, there is the USA hostel a block and a half up the street, but, I found it a bit too hot for my liking.  Whatever you do, just try to stay as close to the convention center as your budget allows.  When you need to recharge your camera, or drop off your swag, a ten minute walk is better than an hour-long free shuttle ride.

Now, what to pack?  One advice; pack light.  Now, I’m not a cosplayer, so I won’t need a suitcase for my stormtrooper costume.  However, you’ll pick up a lot of swag, and you’re going to want all that extra space in your luggage.  When I go to San Diego, I’ll have one checked baggage, one carry on, and one backpack.  If you can fit all your stuff into your backpack and carry on, then you have a checked baggage all to your swag and potential shopping goodies.

In general, you should pack the following:

Wallet, cards, ID
Smartphone with data (when you need to like a group on facebook to get swag, it’ll come in handy)
Camera and batteries, usb connector, charger
pen, notebook
two or three small things you want to get signed.

Now, when it comes to the actual convention itself, you should pack the following:
wallet, cards, ID
Smartphone
Camera and batteries, (charger if your hostel/hotel is far away)
pen, sharpies, and small notebook
one or two things to get signed.
water bottle
snacks (granola, fruit, etc, not chips and cookies)

Okay, you’re ready to go.  See you at the con.