Erika eats in PHILLY – Camp Lauren 2010

At the end of the summer, during the dregs of August, nothing is better than meeting up with friends and enjoying good food in a city far, far away from New York. Well, we got as far as Philly and decided that was far enough! Time for Camp Lauren 2010!

One of the highlights of our trip this year was a little place called Carman’s Country Kitchen! (1301 S. 11th St) Here is a photo of the restaurant from the outside:

Carman’s is run by a woman named Carman. (duh) I imagine her to be a former southern belle, though I may be wrong. The menu has four or five items on it everyday. Each item has a recommended meat side, which is awesome! All the food is made by Carman. She also answers the phone. She has one sassy waiter helping her and that is it. You better call ahead and reserve a seat or you will wait a while. Did I mention that the place has boobs and peen everywhere? And THIS sign:

Here are some of the things around the restaurant:

Here is Carman serving food from her kitchen under what appears to be a portrait of younger Carman:

So we perused the menu for the day:

I decided on the challah french toast with nectarines and blackberries plus country sausage.  Brenden got the broccoli and corn beef hash with ham, potatoes, eggs and a side of bacon. Let’s take a look at these dishes:

Beecy’s Hashish:

You gotta love a dish made with corned beef and ham that has a recommended bacon side. The hash was really good. I have never had broccoli in hash form and it was rather enjoyable. The ham was clovey and Beecy said it “tastes like the South”  or something sentimental like that to him. He returned the favor by giving Carman’s the CPC Award. (Clean Plate Club)

Here’s my french toast. Homemade whipped cream is the best thing ever. Just wait til I post my recipe for lavender whipped cream. FOR REAL. Anyways, this breakfast was fucking sweet! And also, it was sweet. But not too sweet. The fruits were tender and juicy and the french toast was really spot on. Also, the sausage was so toothsome. It was the best sausage I have ever had. EVER.

One more thing, any restaurant that knows to place the mug that says THE BOSS at my seat at the bar, is totally fucking sweet. See?

Doan went to Kansas City over Labor Day weekend.

So this past weekend I went to celebrate a grandmother’s 100th birthday in Kansas City.  I should also note that I was born in Kansas City, moved away when I was 5, but went back almost every year to visit the many relatives I have there. I hadn’t been there in a good 5 or so years and when my parents said they were going, I said, “sure why not?”

Here are the highlights (please pardon my lack of photos).

Right off the plane I explained that I was hungry and I went with my cousin Khoi and his kids to Zarda BBQ for a quick barbecue fix. Kansas City is considered one of, if not the bbq capitals of the world, and bbq spots are to Kansas City what Kennedy Fried Chicken is to New York: ubiquitous. Zarda, I think because of its close proximity to my cousin’s house and good fare seems to be a go to when even I’m in town and I’m not complaining. I had a burnt ends sandwich and some cheesy potatoes, and both were solid stick to your ribs eats.  The burnt ends were meaty and smokey, the sauce tangy and spicey like I like it.

A few hours later, still full from my barbecue lunch, I accompanied Khoi and the whole clan to a fried chicken dinner at The Stonewall Inn, which is known for its pan-fried chicken and supposed ghosts. I had entered “I’m not hungry but I can force myself to eat” territory at this point so I wasn’t daring enough to go for the all-you-can-eat fried chickenn for $11 special, but I did get the two piece dinner which included mashed potatoes and pepper gravy (its been a while) and green beans. I chose leg and thigh for my pieces and once again, shit was solid. I kinda wish there was a little more spice to the chicken, but that’s just me being picky. Mashed potatoes were good, green beans I don’t like, and if I ever go back I’m getting the chicken livers with gravy. I’ve never been to Stroud’s, which some claim has the best fried chicken in Kansas City, but I was told that Stonewall rivals if not betters it. Stonewall also had an adjacent pizza place which looked packed, and long story short, I am definitely making this place the next time I’m in town.

The next day I went to a Thai buffet with my parents and some relatives. It was pretty good but I can’t remember what it was called. The highlight of that meal was the Thai curry pork fried rice (I’m a sucker for crunchy fried rice) and a slightly chilled spicy beef dish.

That night we all went to my aunt’s house to celebrate grandma’s 100th, and while it’s nothing new, the spread made me smile as it was a testament to some Vietnamese immigrants living in Kansas City. There were noodles, egg rolls (!), Vietnamese meatballs, and rice balls, and right next to that was some sliced brisket from Oklahoma Joe’s, ham and cheese croissants, and those Chinese pastry wrapped hotdogs. I had a nice mish mash of all of it and once again, ate myself silly.

The next day we stopped back at my aunt’s place where I had a great bowl of Bún bò, which literally translates to “cow noodles”. Later on for dinner I indulged myself on some smoked pork butt that my cousin Khoi had been smoking for the past day and I have to say that it was some of the best barbecue I’d had in a long time, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my cousin. I think he used a combination of hickory and apple and smoked that thing for about 14 hours and the meat was moist and smokey like a mofo. Topped off with some Gates’ barbecue sauce and I was somewhere in pork nirvana (come as you are).

Also in the mix for the weekend were aunts, uncles, cousins, the first house I ever lived in, the second house I ever lived in, where my dad used to work, and cases of Miller light, which were available in 16oz 12 packs(!). I didn’t make it to Winstead’s(though I’ve been there before) or get any Mexican, but there’s always next time right? I should also note that while much of the country suffers, KC has a Sonic for what seems like every 5 miles.

And then this morning I woke up at 5am to catch a flight. It was sort of a rude awakening to a short but jolly little weekend in cow town.

Here is the sign you pass when you leave Kansas to go into Missouri. I think it’s pretty funny.

that's what she said.

Erika visits Joshua Tree

I recently took a vacation to Los Angeles, California to visit the one and only Alison O’Daniel. During my trip I visited many taco joints, danced at a Japanese piano bar with the Zunkley brothers, got naked with Korean ladies at a spa and got a sound bath at The Integratron in Joshua Tree. It was a wonderful trip and my experience at Joshua Tree was rounded out with a visit to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, the only cool and “hip” restaurant/bar in Joshua Tree, or so I hear. And apparently, as their website boasts, the best honky tonk west of the Mississippi!

The vibe of this place was pretty chill country western meets family chain but nowhere near as cheesy as Friday’s or something. They have stuff hanging everywhere but it’s all got that metal-hesher-country feel to it so it works.

And the food is awesome!

Here are some shots of the restaurant:

The restaurant exterior. Seeing this car here was a good sign.

Pool room when you walk in. Nice.

The bar.

A cool area of the restaurant with bottles inside the walls.

The BBQ pit area in the back.

Some of the cool things on the walls.

So we were there on a Sunday evening and they have live music. We were served chips and salsa, which was rather incredible, while we waited for our food. I was surprised considering this place seems more like BBQ to me. Or rather, you’d be crazy NOT to get BBQ here. They did have some southwest tex-mex shit on the menu though.

We got two orders of ribs, a burger and the grilled chicken (mine, now that I am eating chicken again).

Here is Alison enjoying her burger.

Here is my half grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and broccoli. The mashed potatoes and gravy were INCREDIBLE!!!!! The chicken was juicy and shit, even the broccoli was amazing. It was lemony and buttery and SO GREEN and fresh you forgot about how much meat you’d been eating lately.

An overhead view of our feast.

So the food was really good. The ribs were pretty right on. They give you way too much food, but most restaurants do these days anyways. After we ate we enjoyed some live music and their awesome outdoor patio/sand-trap.

This is the stage. There was good sound too.

The girls enjoying beers in the outdoor patio area.

All in all, if you find yourself in Joshua Tree definitely hit up Pappy and Harriet’s. What a wonderful way to spend the evening. And, if it gets dark you can see all the stars in the universe from their front yard!

Lisa liked it too!

Crif Dog

I don’t really eat out that much, but I was on the internet today reading about hot dogs, and was interested in Crif Dogs for their deep-fried hot dog style. And then upon rereading some of the old blogs on this food party blog, I remembered that one of our favorite bloggers, Doan Buu, had mentioned preferring this place over another hot dog place that he reviewed.

Walking down St. Marks, I never really crave a hot dog, but today, Danny B and I were debating over what to eat for dinner. He was into eating some hummus, but then would not stop talking about hot dogs, and then I said, “Well I’d rather eat Hot Dogs than Hummus!” So we went to Crif Dogs!

We walked in on an early Friday evening, and the place was half empty, double dragon and donkey kong arcade games in the front, old skate videos playing on TV with little kids skating, cute trucker-hatted blond lady manning the counter with pigtail braids, dim lighting, and mainly yuppie couples having quiet little dinners. Danny B and I ordered; he got the “Spicy Redneck” (chili, cheese, jalapenos, coleslaw, hotdog is wrapped in bacon) with a plain dog, and I got the “Chihuahua” with jalapenos. (“chihuahua” has sour cream, avocado, hotdog is wrapped in bacon).

"chihuahua." I was really worried it wasn't going to be spicy, so I added jalapenos. Thank god.
"spicy redneck" and a plain dog; Danny B anticipated the toppings being overloaded enough to spread on another hotdog. He was right.
This was the "small" order of tater tots. They came out piping hot.
Is this picture upside down? I don't care.

The deep-fried aspect of this hot dog was awesome. Nice dry snap on the outside, juicy on the inside. Loved it. The toppings we got felt totally L.A. oki-dog/danger dog style, which are my favorite hot dogs anyway. Danny B and I enjoyed this place a lot, and all in all, this place gets two swift farts from us.

Oh! I forgot to mention there was this totally spooky phone booth in the restaurant that people kept going into and then disappearing. Later I found out it’s a speakeasy.

Anyway, I always think it’s a little weird to out of your way for a hot dog, and if you’re on St. Mark’s and crave a hot dog, this place does rule. If you’re in Greenpoint though, I hear the new 7-eleven that just opened up on Manhattan Ave serves a very good JUMBO DOG!! (Dana Strasser testifies requiring 4 hands and 20 napkins!!)

This is actually a cheeseburger, not a hot dog, but this sums it all up. (Apparently, it's also the awesome album art for a Greenpoint band named "Cheeseburger.")