Is "burger" an emotion? I think it might be. Because when I was at Elephant and Castle with Olivia and I had my heart set on eating a burger, all I could think was "buuurrrggerrrr," in the tone of a low rumble, like a growl, or a malfunctioning washing machine. I didn't just think "burger"—I felt it too. Semi-raw meat juices seeping out of the crags of a chunk of ground beef, mixing with a layer of melted cheese, soaking into a semi-crisp, patchily carbonized toasted bun. You know? BURGER. Or cheeseburger, more like.
Upon Olivia's recommendation I ordered a medium rare Elephant Burger, a big messy thing topped with curried sour cream, crisp bacon strips, a pool of melted cheddar, raw scallions, tomato, and an herb of some sort that I can't identify because I suck at that sort of thing. Oh, and the bun was nicely toasted. Maybe it was double-toasted.
Although the burger was a bit too lumpy/tall to eat whole (unless you're one of those people who can stick your fist into your mouth, which is...just scary, dude), it was perfectly manageable post-bisection. And what lovely innards it had, 50% meat, 50% "other stuff." I found the meat just a bit overdone (although that weeny bit makes a huge impact overall satisfaction, in this case an impact of the negative sort), but it still had some of that messy juice action going for it. The toppings were more impressive than the beef: fresh, flavorful and texturally diverse, like if there were a Kingdom of Texture and I kidnapped a baby from every major village and put them in a sandwich. Gooey Cheese Baby, Crispy Bacon Baby (man, that was good, like a bacon cracker), Unidentified Herb Baby, Fat Tomato Slice Baby, Pungent Crunchy Scallion Baby, Creamy Curried Sour Cream Baby...so many babies...swaddled in a fluffy bun.
The Elephant Burger didn't blow me away, but I really liked it and wouldn't mind getting it again, maybe asking for rare instead of medium-well. That's kind of a mixed recommendation, isn't it? "Eh, it was okay, but MAN, I SO WANT ANOTHER ONE, RIGHT NOW." If this serves as any explanation, last night I scarfed down rice and bean soup out of a can for dinner (I didn't eat it straight out of the can, just that it had lived in a can before I dumped it in a pot to heat it) so most other things are looking overly enticing at the moment.
Can I eat a burger without fries? Yes. If I didn't have a choice. If the world's potato supply ran out. Of course, I had to order a nice mountain of skinny fries to go with my burger. They started off deliciously crispy straight from the fryer, although that also meant they scorched any bit of exposed skin they came in contact with. I foolishly let them cool down as I tackled my burger; by the time I remembered, "Hey, I ordered a bunch of fries," they had deteriorated into semi-undesirable hardened carbo-sticks. Which is okay—throw on some salt and I'm ready for round two—just not as good as they would've been had I been less of a wuss and more willing to sacrifice a few skin cells for the ephemeral deliciousness of fried. (That's not a typo—I meant to end with "fried." I don't know why.)
Olivia took a much healthier route than I did by ordering one of the specials of the day, a sort of Mexican crepe doused in cheese and some kind of tomato tasting sauce that wasn't made of tomato, and other tasty things. I had a bite. And I liked it! Whatever it was! Yeah! The exclamation marks do nothing!
After slumping over in a burger and fries induced coma, there was just one thought on my mind. Or two. One, I'm really full, oh crap, and two, what's for dessert? It's almost like I have two different brains, except the two brains work at 25% the rate of a normal brain, which gives me 50% functionality, resulting in the blog post that you are reading now. Yeah, I don't know how I graduated college either.
So we went to L'Arte Del Gelato because when in the West Village, there's no point in going anywhere else for dessert. If you're going to be cold on the outside, you may as well be cold on the inside too, and that inner coldness may as well taste like pistachio. Right? Have I convinced you that everything I'm saying is making sense? Because it's really not. But if you pretend that what I'm saying is right, then this is where gelato comes in.
I always have to get pistachio. Always. When done right, it's the best flavor ever. L'Arte del Gelato makes a very good version, the kind that warms you up a bit in a completely psychological way by transporting you to a land where rivers are made of thick pistachio puree, suffocating everything in its path with...with pure nut essence! That's the last thing you taste before you die—sweet, sweet pistachio squeezings.
I had a bit of that and vanilla. I quite liked the vanilla until Olivia pointed out that it tasted like frosting. Which it kind of did. And I continued to like it after that, except I had to think of it as vanilla frosting flavored gelato instead of vanilla. Hey, I love frosting; it's all good.
I think she enjoyed it. Hell, people always look peaceful when eating gelato. ...Well, that or insane.
Persian Food Coma
The first time I met Olivia was more than a month ago at Ravagh. I had never eaten Persian food before, but since Olivia is part Persian (and Argentinean; you know we're gonna gorge on steak later) I figured this was a good opportunity to be guided into new fooding territory by someone who knew what the hell everything was. Kathy joined us after a day of shooting photos with Diana. (Did you not click? You better look at those photos! I don't think Kathy pimped them in her blog, but they're a million kinds of awesome and shouldn't be overlooked. PIMP PIMP PIMP.)
We were started off with a complimentary stack of warm, fluffy pita breads accompanied by radishes, fresh mint and butter. Ooh. Ooooh. ...Well, I think I skipped most of the condiments and just tore into the bread, but the idea is probably to eat them together. I FAILED.
Olivia ordered a bottle of doogh, or yogurt soda. Kathy and I were both curious about this drink, but Olivia suggested that we just try hers. And it was a good suggestion because this is probably the kind of thing that you wouldn't appreciate on the first sip but have to be assimilated into liking/tolerating through many years of conditioning. Many years. What's it taste like? Liquidy, plain yogurt with carbonation. Not offensive, nor something I can imagine myself ever craving. Not yet at least; doogh may reappear in my future. Maybe if I added a lot of sugar to it. Yes, that usually helps.
I would've never thought of ordering kashk bademjan on my own—it was thanks to Olivia that we shared the smooth mash of eggplant, onion, tomato sauce, kashk and "special seasoning" (well, that's what the menu said). AND IT WAS SO GOOD. Because you can't go wrong with eggplant. And all that other stuff.
The lamb in my khoresh bademjan (stewed lamb chunks with eggplant and tomato) fell apart at the touch of my fork. Every morsel was at 110% tenderness (if such a thing exists...sure, why not) and had soaked up all the flavors of the surrounding tomato-based sauced, possible seasoned with nutmeg, tumeric, and/or cinnamon. Or not. Just order it.
I requested awesome rice to go with my stew instead of plain rice.
It has a real name that Olivia would be able to identify, but I was kind of hoping it would be on the online menu. Which it's not. I recall raisins, maybe, and tomato, maybe, and this is the worst description, maybe. Update: Olivia came to the rescue! The rice is called zereshk polo and is flavored with barberries and saffron. I think I tasted tomato in EVERYTHING for some reason. Phantomato. Oops. If you go to the restaurant you'll see special rices at the bottom of the menu—make sure you order one.
Kathy ordered ghoureh sabzi, a beef stew with fried parsley and scallions simmered with red kidney beans and dried lemon. I tried some. It was awesome. How the hell could stewed beef not be awesome? Ain't no better way to get the most tenderliciously meat floofing properties out of beef, is there? Did that make any sense? I dunno. By the way, all the food at Ravagh is awesome. Can you tell that I'm getting tired? It's almost 1:30 AM.
Olivia's salmon shish kabob came on this massive plate. To hold the mountain of fluffy rice and hefty stick impaled with fat salmon chunks. Ravagh makes sure you leave with a stuffed belly. That's the way we like it.
RAVAGH, YOU ARE AWESOME. I HOPE WE MEET AGAIN.
And now I really need to get ready for bed. Once again, you've witnessed the deterioration of my brain. The 50% powered brain. And this will happen again.