[I'm still going to Paris in less than a week oh crap oh crap ohcrapcrap!!#@!$@#! JE NE SAIS RIEN. (Well, I know that much. Helpful, eh?)]
I celebrated my birthday over two days with the magic of compressed meat patties, or something resembling compressed meat patties. That's right—I got me some BURGERS.
As I foreshadowed in a previous entry, for dinner I went to Shake Shack, a stylish hut of super-fine American dining in the corner of Madison Square Park, with whoever cared to show up. Not everyone I invited could make it, but seven people eventually arrived and one friend swung by just to say hello. Some friends were busy spending time with family before the start of school (oh damn, that's soon!) while some other people were stuck in Brooklyn working on stuff...AHEMCOUGH...I'm not bitter. :)
If anyone reading this was eating at Shake Shack last night around 7 PM, I apologize for being the head of the large, excessively loud group that was being...excessively loud. I was fully aware of our unending laughing and weirdness, yet did nothing to stop it. Those groups may annoy the crap out of you, but sometimes you have to be in that group. Be the party! The madness! Laugh until your brain feels like it's going to explode and your eyes expel buckets of fluid! IT IS SO MUCH FUN.
If you're wondering, the B-LINE cashier is not actually red-colored. That would be pretty intense though, eh? I mean, if they decided to go so far as to make a sign so that people wouldn't be confused, maybe they should just paint the cashiers their respective colors so that they can match the sign.
CJ's cheese fries looked alright at first, but you know what melted cheese does over time? It becomes the opposite of melted. Coagulated cheese fries do not make for enjoyable eating. I didn't try the cheese fries, but I suspect they were tasty up until the coagulation point. My naked fries were great—perfectly crisp, nicely salted, and came in a large portion. They're not hand-cut, but these were better than a lot of hand-cut fries I've had. I don't need no fancy fries.
Since I've already tried their hamburger (it's gooood), I went with the vegetarian shroom burger, described as "crisp-fried portobello filled with melted cheese and onions, topped with lettuce, tomato and shack sauce". I would object to the "filled with melted cheese and onions" part—they were there, just not to the point of filling the burger in any impressive manner—but overall it was a very satisfying burger. Their shroom patty is indeed full of crispy-fried deliciousness, unlike any other mushroom burger I've had. This doesn't necessarily make it better than other mushroom burgers I've had, but it's certainly different, which makes it more memorable. The lettuce, such a simple, lowly, leafy ingredient, really makes a difference in a yummy burger if it's fresh and crispy like Shake Shake's is. And Shake Shack excells at another basic burger component: the bun. The bun of wonder. The bun of buttery griddled perfection that makes you go, "How did they make this bun taste so good? Fairies?" It doesn't look special nor feel like anything out of the ordinary when you grasp it in your hands, but once it hits your mouth you can't help but realize, "...Damn, this is a tasty bun. I think it is full of magic."
[Sidenote: I had a hard time remembering what a griddle was. This happens to me all the time. I mean, all the times I ponder, "What's that flat-top thing you find mainly in professional kitchens?" which strangely happens a lot. My failure to remember what it is probably has to do with never actually having used one before. If I had one, I'd probably fry every sandwich I ever make in butter, which for some reason seems like a more appealing thing to do on a griddle than in a pan.]
I should've taken a photo of John's large milkshake, which we estimated to contain about 3000 calories. For some reason there is no such size as medium; you only get to choose between large and small. A large is at least twice the size of a small, possibly even more than that. And John drank the whole freakin' bucket, perhaps due to my goading, "John, you have to drink the whole thing"...such a good influence I am. You should know that he didn't eat anything else at SS (he had eaten something beforehand), but damn, that's a lot of milkshake. You should start with a small cup of their indulgent, deliciously "keeps a straw upright" thick milkshakes unless you're taking part in some kind of milkshake drinking contest. Or you just really crave tasty dairy-based pain.
I don't take enough photos of humans! So here they are. Humans. No, I did not eat my friends.
And here's a ridiculously smiley group photo! From left to right: Allen, Mary, CJ, me, and JD. Missing from the incomplete group photo are John (who took the photo), Janet (who had to go home) and Carol (who also had to go home). After Mary left, it was just me and the guys!...because we have no lives to go home to.
I was the only one who wanted dessert. THE ONLY ONE. Bastards, making me feel like a glutton. After ordering my single vanilla cone (yes, in the B-LINE), I waited. And waited some more. Overall I probably only waited a few minutes, but it seemed like an excessively long wait for a cone with a scoop of custard dumped on top. During the waiting period I observed the orchestration of burgers being put into boxes, the calling of names, the distribution of boxes, people standing around waiting for boxes of burgers, people staring at the boxes thinking, "THE NEXT ONE IS TOTALLY MINE", and me staring at the boxes wondering, "WHERE IS MY CONE, MY COOOONE?!?!?!"
Yay, a cone with spherical frozen custard! It was good—dense, creamy, and vanilla-y. I would've enjoyed it more in sundae form with whipped cream and a topping, but that would've made it even more gluttonous. However, these cones...these cones! What is up with these cones? I already know I don't like them, yet I eat them anyway.
"Why does this cone taste like styrofoam?" I ask CJ.
"Because it is styrofoam. ...Dude, you're not supposed to eat it."
Anyhoo, that's not SS's fault. All those cones taste the same, from my experience.
Shake Shack was a great venue for gathering a bunch of people together and eating awesome, fairly inexpensive food. Aside from being eaten alive by mosquitoes, sitting outside in a park was preferable to eating inside a restaurant.
Janet was thoughtful enough to get me my most favorite cookie, Levain Bakery's chocolate chip walnut cookie, as a parting gift. How much do I love this cookie? Weelllllll. I started eating it at around 11 PM while working on my emails and by 11:50 that mountain of dough was gone. In my belly. Never to see daylight again. The rest of its life would consist solely of pain while churning in my stomach acids. I have no idea how I managed to eat the whole six-ounce behemoth in under an hour without any discomfort when previous experience has already taught me that eating the whole thing by myself in a day will result in stomach explosion, but perhaps I have eaten so many cookies over the year that I grew an extra cookie pouch where excess cookie can digest, separated from the lesser non-cookie food matter.
...Okay, that's definitely not how I ate it. It's just that good. I've never found a cookie like this that was really just a chunk of cookie dough with a crispy crust masquerading under the simple title of "cookie". The innards are so soft that you can eat it with a freakin' spoon.
So. My day was awesome, even if I ate something like 5000 calories.
While riding the train home, I was struck by just how awesome my friends are. Seriously. I know most of them don't read this blog and will thus not know what love I thrust upon them, but I'm really, really, really lucky to know all these people. I may be thinking too highly of myself, but when I bring a large number of my friends together who may not know each other, by the end of the day they're all like, "OMG BYE, I LOVE YOU!" and giving each other secret handshakes (even if they haven't memorized everyone else's names). This isn't something I experience when I go to meetings organized by other people. (However, I'll admit that I don't go to many meetings organized by other people.)
...Okay, bottom line, my friends are odd in their own ways and all this oddness meshes together in a way you could not predict. Except for me.
I have more burger action
After getting on a train that was 40 minutes late and walking from a subway stop I hadn't intended to get off at because the F train was running on the D line (that redirecting crap makes me go insane), my initial plans for dinner in Brooklyn got switched to staying in the Lower East Side. I dragged John and Pete to Rush Hour since [cue dramatic music] I AM THE FOOD MASTER, BWAHAHA.
And really, who wouldn't want to go to a restaurant who exclaims, "You drunk, we deliver!" and plasters the most flattering photos of a drunken customer who happens to be Ben Affleck by their cash register?
When I had trouble deciding between a mozzerella sandwich and a hamburger, my fate was sealed when I noticed the pesto and mozzerella "Old Lady's Burger". (Don't ask me where the name comes from; I haven't figured it out.) I could hardly believe such a burger existed, not that the combination is weird, but...I had just never seen it before. I knew I had found heaven.
If you take an innards shot, you should really wait until you have a sufficient amount of innards to shoot. Alas, this is all you get—I'll have to describe the rest to you. The heart of the burger contained a large chunk of soft mozzerella and a generous slathering of pesto on both bun halves. My rare patty was pink in the center and, while not as flavorful as other burgers I've had, was as moist and soft as possible without peeing meat juice all over my hands. The bun was impressively tasty grilled brioche, like a baby version of The Spotted Pig's hamburger bun. It became apparent that the burger was much larger than it initially appeared when after eating about half of it I moaned, "Uhhh...this burger is freakin' huge."
Of course, I still ate the whole thing. Because it was awesome.
Oh, but the onion rings were only okay. Skip them and go for the fries, or just stick with the burger since it's large enough to satisfy most stomachs.
John finished his "blue cheese and magic mushrooms" Iceland burger, but Pete couldn't eat all of his mozzerella and tomato sandwich, probably because it was even larger than our hamburgers and the human stomach can only hold so much sandwich.
I love how I ended up taking photos mid-chomp that don't exactly make the burger/sandwich eating experience look all that appealing. But it was! It just wasn't a Kodak moment.
After polishing off sandwichy goodness, we went up Ludlow to Cake Shop, a quirky spot that combines two of the greatest things—cake and music—and happens to sit next to the very evil Living Room (at least in the world of Robyn it is a very evil place). Alas, we didn't actually eat any cake (that's right, I didn't have any birthday cake, not on Sunday or Monday!), but I wanted to mention it because from what I saw, the baked goods-eating opportunities at Cake Shop are very enticing. I recall a fluffy looking cream pie and a tray of cute cupcakes. Someone told me that their cookies are also very good. It also carries the pluses of providing vegan goods (I don't recall if everything is vegan or if it's just a few things), free wi-fi, and late opening hours. You can have cake! You can surf the net! You can drink tea! You can buy a CD! You can go into the basement and buy a beer while watching live music! All in the same place! CRAZY.
We were there to see James Kochalka. He is kind of insane, but in a safe way, not a "please get away from me" way. However, you probably shouldn't stand close to him while he's performing or else he may accidentally high-kick you in the face/important body part.
a new ratings system
...Well, not really new, but I don't think I ever established one. This might be a one time thing, unless I actually remember to do it again. Here it is:
Shake Shack: Worth going back to. Not worth wating in line for ages, but thankfully I've never had to do that. Woo!
Rush Hour: Worth going back to. For one thing, I didn't try any of their sweets. Next time, I AM GETTING DESSERT. If I lived in the area I'd probably eat here a lot.
Cake Shop: Worth going back to, primarily because I didn't get to try any freakin' cake!
134 Ludlow St
New York, NY 10002
You'd think THE INTERNET takes up enough of my time already (sure does; it's almost 4 AM and I have no idea how long it's taken me to write this entry, hehehe, hehehehe, HAHAHA, oh I'm tired), but it's not enough. I must also draw round things. Lots of round things. In a shoddy manner that evokes the penmanship of a 5-year-old .
What Say You? mentioned my blog! That's quite nice. I like making people drool and become incoherent. :)
On that note, I'm starting to feel drooly and incoherent since I'm at about level 5 tiredness and I have to go to the orthodontist in the mornin'. Damn teeth just don't want to be straight on their own terms.