Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An All American Experience at All American Burger

The hamburger – it is, without question, the quintessential patriarch of Classic American cuisine. As one of the few dishes that speaks the same culinary language nationwide, you’d be hard-pressed not to find your standard hamburger from coast to coast, sea to shining sea.

In recent years, however, the typical hamburger has been jazzed up from your typical patty and bun to some almost-foreign creation piled high with endless accents of fancy cheeses, unusual condiments, and pretty much anything else that you wouldn’t expect to find under the doughy top dome. And yes, while these masterpieces may be delicious, they will, arguably, never compare to the classic hamburger.

It is for this reason, precisely, that so many unassuming, old-fashioned burger joints are still thriving today. From the retro décor to the faithful old recipes, these places subliminally promise their diners one crucial thing – that they haven’t changed in years, and they don’t plan to do so in the future either. It is this reliability, above anything else, that ensures a customer’s return.

This past weekend, I too got the chance to experience one of these good old-fashioned burger joints. After venturing to the renowned All American Burger on Long Island, a place that I have heard so much about time and time again, I was ready to try out one of their burgers for myself.

Pulling into the parking lot of the restaurant, it had a very humble quality which I most definitely expected. There were picnic tables outside for those who wanted to dine somewhere other than in their cars, though everyone opted for the latter as the weather was not conducive to outdoor dining. Inside the actual building was a simple counter with registers and cashiers which sat just in front of a large menu board.

The menu contained the standard faire – burgers, fries, onion rings, thick shakes. But it also contained a few surprises; I can’t say that I really anticipated finding knishes, fish fillets, butterfly shrimp, and “tuna on a bun” at a place like this. But hey, who am I to judge?

I ordered very strategically (or so I like to think), by getting a single cheeseburger, side of onion rings, and a Coke, bringing my total to a whopping $3 and change – a splurge, I know. Once my order was ready (which was only about 2 or 3 minutes after I had placed it), I headed straight for the car.

My first bite of All-American Burger, the cheeseburger, was, in one word, average. The bun was very soft and lacked a degree of texture, the meat itself was a severely deflated patty expertly hidden between the two saucers of dough, and the cheese was palatably processed, though nicely melted. Finished off with a squirt or two of ketchup and a few slices of pickle, it reminded me, almost exactly of, dare I say it, a McDonald’s cheeseburger. The onion rings were reminiscent of a similar caliber; they were void of the characteristic battered crunch, were not all that hot upon arrival, and could have benefitted from a bit more seasoning. But was I disappointed? No, not really.

As surprising as it may be based on my critique, I cannot find much fault with All American Burger. They delivered on good prices, fast service, and a familiar flavor experience that, on occasion (however rare that may be), most of us really don’t mind having. Like I said, it’s that dependability factor. It’s that mental, if not also emotional, comfort and insurance from knowing exactly what you're going to get.

So if I felt like going out on a whim in search of a predictable, common, run of the mill hamburger, would I return to All American Burger?

Yes, absolutely.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy One Week Anniversary!

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve last posted . . . there’s just so much to say, yet so little time to blog.

But regardless of my shortage of time, we have still managed to reach the one week anniversary (or thereabout) of The [Real] Refrigerator Door, and I’d say it’s been a pretty successful “grand opening” thus far. We’ve dished on the Food Network/ Cablevision spat, Travel Channel and Man vs. Food, and even the first ever recipe to be added to my site, Cook with Kim. So what’s next? As cliché as it may be, the possibilities truly are endless. And remember – if you have any suggestions or requests for topics (food-related, of course) that you’d like me to address, just leave a comment and I will most definitely do my best blog about it.

For now, however, I am unfortunately out of time (once again, damn it!), but I promise to return next time with a full-fledged spiel.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cook with Kim Makes History

I hope all my readers are enjoying the weekend – I know I am!

Today’s post won’t be quite as much of a monstrosity as my previous two. Don’t worry though, I’m not running out of topics or ideas to write about, I’m just saving those ideas for a time when I know I’ll be able to express them to the best of my ability.

A few years ago, I started up a website called Cook with Kim. For a while, I spent time beautifying it with slideshows, fancy fonts, and what not, but I never really had a vision for it. The concept was unrefined and unfocused, thus eventually becoming an obsolete possession of mine. Obsolete, that is, until just recently.

Over the past week, I have re-devoted myself to not only, but also to you, my readers. The website, and this blog, is just as much here for me as it is for you.

It’s no secret that a major part of cooking websites is the recipe section. This is incredibly apparent when you enter “chocolate chip cookies” into Google and come up with a thousand plus recipes (like anyone has time to go through all those pages, please). On the old Cook with Kim website, I too aimed to share my recipes with the world. Though, admittedly, my attempt was an incredible failure. For over a year, the website had a recipe tab that listed numerous potential recipes – recipes that never got posted, but instead remained blank pages.

Seeing as I have returned to Cook with Kim with a new perspective and far more commitment, however, I am putting forth a second effort to pursue an online “recipe box”. And I hope you’d agree, if you do so happen to have the frame of reference, that I am doing far better than before.

In case the title didn’t clue you in, broke history today with its first ever complete (and original) recipe that was posted on the site – Banana Almond Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce (I highly recommend trying it out!).

I typically don’t write out my recipes since cooking tends to be more of an organic process for me. But considering the fact that I really want to be able to share my recipes with you, I am more than happy to put in the extra time writing out my ingredients, typing up the instructions, photographing the finished product, and, at last, posting all of the information to the site.

As promised, I’m just about done writing for today (writing these is as exhausting as reading them, I’m sure!). But hopefully I was able to give you some breakfast ideas for tomorrow morning (and I’m not just saying that – pancakes always seem to be the perfect Sunday morning supplement).

Have a great rest of the weekend and be sure to tell me what you think of the recipe!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Man vs. Medical Bills?

Hi everyone!

Before I proceed with today’s topic (which, by the way, is a lot lighter in nature than my previous post as I no longer feel the need to air my grievances with Food Network), I’d just like to take a moment to thank all of my current readers for visiting (and hopefully enjoying) my blog, in addition to leaving comments and sharing in my enthusiasm.

And now, on with the show!

Over the course of 2009, and especially during the past two weeks, the Travel Channel has, in many ways (and for many reasons), become my surrogate Food Network. Once laden with episode after episode of Samantha Brown (and other lesser-known globe-trotters), it has now caught on to, and successfully incorporated, what many of us instinctively associate with travel - food. While the Food Network may not be pleased with this increased competition, I, as a food-oriented TV viewer (and Cablevision subscriber), am thrilled to now have alternative television options.

Prior to 2009, I would watch the Travel Channel every now and then, perhaps to see the captivating panoramas of somewhere exotic or, more likely, because nothing else “good” was on. Considering this lacking devotion to the channel, there had to be something special, something unique and exciting, to change my impression and keep me coming back day after day, faithfully, to channel 63. And there was.

What really got me hooked (other than Samantha Brown’s occasionally tolerable antics) was the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives spin-off, Man vs. Food. Hosted by Adam Richman, the show takes its Food Network-esque counterpart to a whole new dimension by simultaneously serving as a glorified eating competition.

For the record, I’ve never been a fan of competitive eating. Frankly, I typically find it rather disgusting (though I do, admittedly, make an exception for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest). But this show, for some odd and almost unexplainable reason, has gained not only my respect, but also my applause (I should totally be paid for plugging and promoting these networks as much as I am, don’t you agree? Travel Channel scouts . . . anyone?)

Where was I? Oh, yes- Mr. Adam Richman. Throughout his travels, and many meals (each of which probably constitutes a day and a half’s worth of food in and of itself), Richman maintains an indescribable kind of poise that makes him and his plight that much more respectable. I often find myself cheering him on, alongside the likes of the crowds featured on the given episode, to eat the last super spicy chicken wing, down the last spoonful of ice cream, finish off the last French fry, or conquer whatever else the case may be. But I have to wonder, who pays for it all?

No, I am not referring to the plane tickets that he needs, the meals that he consumes, or even the Pepto Bismol that he will undoubtedly need following each Man vs. Food encounter. I’m talking about the long-term effects of pursuing such an audacious cause.

Consistently eating in the fashion that he does, and in such large and unjustifiable quantities, must be taking a major toll on his body. And with the unlimited access we have to the information that is swirling around libraries, universities, and cyberspace, Richman, and the Travel Channel, must be aware of the health risks that he is imposing on himself. So did they agree to monitor Richman’s health during the filming of the show? Did the Travel Channel commit, in his contract, to providing for doctors visits and their accoutrements in what is, realistically speaking, the not-so-distant future? Did anyone, besides me, ever really consider, contemplate, and meddle on this topic for more than just a brief second?

Regardless of the answers, I can’t say that I am unhappy to see Richman continue to film new seasons of his show. And if I don’t have to pay anything, other than remote attention, to see the Travel Channel and its beloved Adam Richman in upcoming years, I guess I can’t complain. I guess I can just fade back into the persona of the average Man vs. Food viewer and utter to myself the words, “Go Adam, go! Go Adam, go!”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Food Network and Cablevision Play the Blame Game

Hello again!

Over the past 24 hours, I have relentlessly been brainstorming ideas about future postings so my head is absolutely EXPLODING at the moment. I am super excited to share them with you (once I get the chance to sit down and write them, of course) as well as hear your thoughts and criticisms.

But now that I do actually have a moment to breathe and write to you, I thought there’d be no better topic to address than the current Food Network/ Cablevision situation.

As a five year Food Network devotee who is also committed to a contract with Cablevision, this little spat that the two companies are having is, above all, extremely frustrating.

On December 31, 2009, I received an e-mail from Food Network stating that there was a possibility that Cablevision viewers would no longer be able to watch the Food Network on TV as of the new year, 2010. Well, the warning was just a little too late- I woke up the next morning, grabbed a cup of coffee, turned on the TV, and flipped to channel 66. However, instead of being greeted by one of the oh so familiar Food Network faces that I’ve grown accustomed to, I was presented with a generic message issued by Cablevision that was accompanied by a rather insensitive narration. In layman’s terms, it basically said, “It’s not our fault, so don’t blame us”.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that they kept playing that lovely message on a loop?

Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means devastated by the Food Network’s absence. (No, I am not curled up in the fetal position tearing my hair out if that’s what you are picturing). My eyes are completely dry as I write this to you, I promise. All I am trying to say, to which I’m sure many of you can relate, is that this is a major inconvenience, annoyance, and display of inconsideration on both companies’ behalves.

Of course, for example, I miss being able to run on the treadmill while watching Food Network- I mean who doesn’t like to watch Paula Deen frost a cake that contains an entire pound of butter in and of itself while you’re simultaneously running at five or six miles an hour and sweating like pig? (And before you even think of laughing at me for this exercise ritual, just think of how many times you’ve been guilty of the same crime . . . that’s what I thought.) But that is hardly the bulk of it.

What bothers me most about the whole ordeal is the way in which it’s become a finger-pointing smear campaign. Really now, I thought we finished playing that game when Obama beat McCain in the 2008 Presidential Election. Please tell me I am not mistaken.

Now, when I go to open up my morning newspaper, I am not shocked to find a full page ad by Food Network bitching about Cablevision's unwillingness to compromise. And I’ve seen this level of immaturity from the Food Network persist as they are still spamming my e-mail with more complaints about their good friend Cablevision.

So now, I think it’s time that I leave you to marinate in what you have just read- but not without one more quick assertion.

Dear Cablevision and Food Network,

Grow up, children. Grow up.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Foodies Unite!

Welcome fellow foodies!

I'm so excited to get started on this blog and I'm hoping you are looking forward to sharing this project with me as well.

If you haven't figured it out by now, the main focus of this blog is anything and everything food- it's such a hot topic in today's culture and it's easy to see why. Whether enjoyed via reality TV, in a great cookbook, or a simple home cooked meal, the idea itself of cooking is so incredibly accesible and full of fantasy.

Anyway, when it comes to food, I happen to be highly opinionated (which you will soon find out), so don't expect to read b.s. posts. But hey, that's what blogging is all about! It's also all about hearing back from readers, so PLEASE, I encourage you to comment freely!

Gotta run! More soon!