The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Gorging with Olivia: Burgers, Gelato, and Persian Food

elephant burger


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.

other view
And here it is assembled, although still too hefty to pick up.

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.

Innards, it haz em

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 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.)

the special of the day
Special of the day

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.

yom yom
Olivia just wants a lick

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.

vanilla and pistachio
Pistachio and vanilla

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.

Olivia likes the gelato

I think she enjoyed it. Hell, people always look peaceful when eating gelato. ...Well, that or insane.

Persian Food Coma

Danging wire! Sweet ass!

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.)

pita! mint, radish, butter
Pitas and things

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.

yogurt soda
Upside down to help mix it up

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.

Kashk Bademjan
Kashk Bademjan

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.

Khoresh Bademjan
Lamb chunks, yes!

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.

awesome rice
Awesome rice

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.

Ghoureh Sabzi
Well, that ain't pretty.

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.

salmon shish kabob
Salmon shish kabob

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.


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.


Elephant and Castle
68 Greenwich Avenue
New York, NY 10011

L'Arte Del Gelato
75 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014

11 E 30th St
New York, NY 10016


Christine / December 20, 2007 4:40 AM

That burger was overdone?! Yikes!

Okay, I don't eat meat but love reading about your culinary adventures.

Tina / December 20, 2007 8:47 AM

Aww...too bad the burger was overcooked. It did looked awesome.

Ya know, I need to get meself some Persian food since I never eaten it either. But that "awesome" rice you had does sound tasty. Does it have any meat or nuts in it?

Kathy / December 20, 2007 9:12 AM

GAH I never posted on RAVAGH yet!!!! =(
I'm reading this at 9 in the morning...and am now craving a BURGER - lunch!
The persian food photos came out REAL WELL despite the real crap lighting in the restaurant! :)

hehe, thanks for the link to the photos...maybe I should link them on my blog? lol.

am I going to see you before xmas??

honey / December 20, 2007 10:30 AM

Oh man....that burger looks a-okay to me Robin! I worship the brunch at elephant and castle. Yetta and I go there and get the poached eggs with sliced apples and french toast. To. Die. For...

Julie / December 20, 2007 12:50 PM

Middle Eastern food always looks the same to me, and by that, I mean good, but I also mean kinda stew-like and kabob-ey. Yum ... I love eggplant and lamb in Middle Eastern dishes.

I get those cheeseburrrgerrrrr and fries (must be skinny and crispy) cravings, too. Bummer about it being overdone. My parents would broil burgers to a crisp to get rid of all the third-world bacteria that lives in meat, except we don't live in a third-world country, so I didn't like burgers until I left home.

Every time I read about pistachio gelato, I think of my high school best friend's pistachio ice cream cake. Imagine it with gelato. Wow.

roboppy / December 20, 2007 4:08 PM

Christine: Just a smiiidge overdone. Tiny! Smidgen! I think I like my burgers rarer than most. -__-

Tina: I don't think the rice had meat in it. Nuts?....maybe...I DON'T REMEMBER, OH GOD. We should go to Ravagh sometime!

Kathy: Man, don't worry about it; there's SO much stuff I never blogged about. From ages ago. Sucks.

You should use those photos. IN YOUR BLOG'S HEADER! BWAHAHA.

Honey: Damn, that sounds good! Especially if it's worth death.

Julie: I love eggplant in most things! But eggplant and lamb. In stew. ...Is so freakin' good. (For some reason I couldn't say that in one sentence. Had to be. Three.)

I hate overcooked burgers! THAT IS SADNESS IN A BUN.

I've never heard of a pistachio ice cream cake! I bed that's awesome. Since most ice cream cakes are awesome. It doesn't seem to even matter what kind of ice cream; just that its in cake form makes it better than non-cake form.

Olivia / December 20, 2007 10:36 PM

Hahahaha. The name of that rice is zereshk polo. I have no idea where you got the idea that it has tomatoes (it has barberries and zaffron...?) but then again, my elephant and castle crepe contained false tomato information as well.

hope you are feeling better/prepping your stomach for our next food outing in DC!

Happy Holidays!

Mike / December 21, 2007 7:16 AM

I think if we cut Robin open, we'd see that she's made of moist, tender meat.

Actually, that's gross, let's not do that.

Maja / December 22, 2007 9:41 AM

OH MY GOD, those BURGERS!! I must have one. The melted cheese looks like perfection to me. And that bacon.. Sweet Jesus. I'm drooling all over my computer.

And finally you're eating gelato again ;) That looks super-yummy too.

roboppy / December 23, 2007 4:44 AM

Olivia: OMG I FAILED 1000%! Thanks for the info!

Maybe everything tastes like tomato to me. Uhhgugh.

Mike: If you cut me open, I'd think that would result in some kind of arrest for murder...

But yeah, I would be moist and tender and have some nice fat marbling. So much...fat...

Maja: Now I kind of want a bacon and cheese sandwich.

Oh yes, gelato, where have you been! I shouldn't stop eating you just because it's cold.

Coco / December 24, 2007 4:35 PM

Ok, creeper alert! My work is sending me to NY for 3 days in February. you'll need to help me figure out the best possible food itinerary ever, mostly involving baked goods. mmmm carbs. oh man, I can't wait!

roboppy / December 25, 2007 6:14 AM

Coco: Oooh....three days! I suppose you'll be working some of that time though? ;)

For baked goods my favorites are City Bakery/Birdbath and Grandaisy/Sullivan Street Bakery (they're kind of interchangeable). Oo, and Sugar Sweet Sunshine! And maybe Billy's Bakery if you're in Chelsea. And Levain Bakery for a giant chocolate chip cookie...

Giso / December 30, 2007 1:05 PM

Weee, persian food :) good stuff. man, im so hungry right now. the dish kathy had is my fav food, yummy, my mom makes the best (of course ;)

Mila / January 2, 2008 4:14 PM

Robyn, happy new year!

I get the burger urgings regularly, and yes, it's got to be rare or medium rare (that innards was definitely more medium). Something about the blood, juices, drippings mixing into the fixings. Hmmm, do you think a burger joint called Drippings and Fixings would work?

As I read your first persian outing, and saw the stuff you ate, I had a weird feeling I was there with you! A couple of days into my trip to San Francisco (I'm here in the Bay Area till Jan 5), my best friend and I went to a good persian restaurant, and had a filet mignon kebab (with mounds of fluffy saffron rice), lamb and lentils stew, the eggplant dish, and DOUGH! It's spelled like "dough" on the menu so I ordered it, and was happy to get a tall glass of wheaty stuff, hahaha, no it was the yogurt, but not fizzy, mine was yummy yogurt with mint bits in it. Very tasty.

While it was not the first time I've had persian food, it was definitely one of the better versions i've had lately. Hope you have many a persian adventure with Olivia. It's all good!

Christine / January 28, 2008 1:33 AM

I know this is an old entry, but I just started reading your blog.

I had never had gelato before and you write about it so much, that I finally decided to try some last night. Now I see why you eat so much of it. I think--no wait, I KNOW I could live off of that stuff. It's seriously like crack. I barely had it for the first time and now I just want more.

Anyway, on the verge of sounding creepy, I just wanted to say thank you for informing me of the deliciousness that is gelato.

roboppy / January 28, 2008 11:09 PM

Christine: Yes, you've had gelato! I'm so glad I could introduce you to this magical substance. Now you can die happily. :D Kinda. It's delicious frozen crack.

Something random from the archives