Plate It or Hate It

Recent food world discoveries the ES crew is loving and hating…

Plate It: Stacker Mallows

We’re usually not partial to Rachel Ray-esque products that dumb down food to the lowest common denominator, but anything that gets s’mores in our mouths quicker is fine by us.

Hate It: Paula Deen’s Butter-Flavored Lip Balm

If you felt the need for a taste in your mouth to remind you all day long that you are an insatiable glutton. (Photo: Holly Bailey, via Grub Street)

Plate It: Ramen to the Rescue

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Feed Us Back: Comments of the Week


– You ESers were in fighting mood, this week! Can’t we agree on anything? First up, Benito opines that no, the customer shouldn’t be the chef:

I figure if I’m going out to eat, I’m paying for someone (the chef or the corporate test kitchen) to figure out a set of ingredients that work well with each other and produce a good overall dish. The problem with something like this is that people often have an idea of what tastes good, but end up with something unbalanced and nasty. Like angel hair, a gloopy Americanized alfredo sauce, and slices of steak. Ugh.

But Cindy says, why not?

Well, I think it is a pretty novel idea that a restaurant is willing to prepare my recipe! This is an example of exceptional customer service! I love the idea.

– ESers are split down the middle on whether In-N-Out is worth the hype. Lauren:

Thank you! I am a Californian and have never understood the adoration of the In-N-Out burger. Whenever I travel and people find out I’m from L.A. I usually get people asking me about In-N-Out. I met some Canadians in Thailand who told me they were going to have a layover in L.A. and the one thing they wanted to know was where to get an In-N-Out burger. I couldn’t help but think they would be disappointed.

Jeanne @JollyTomato disagrees:

I wouldn’t choose In-N-Out for my last meal, but if someone offered me a chance to go there for lunch, I wouldn’t turn it down either. I think it just is what it is – a quintessential SoCal experience. And the fries are good too!

– Perhaps the only thing more foodie controversial than In-N-Out is raw kale. Maids:

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It’s In, It’s Out, It’s Over

in and out

If you’ve ever known anyone from California, you have undoubtedly heard them go on (and on and on) about the glory of In-N-Out Burger, a fast food joint that, to hear them tell it, must have been founded by Jesus or something.

While I’m not here to hate on In-N-Out, I have to say that in my limited excursions to the golden state I’ve been a little underwhelmed. Yes, the lettuce and tomato are surprisingly fresh, and the beef patty is a huge improvement over McDonald’s — although if you ask me, that’s not a particularly high bar to clear. I’d pick this burger over McD’s any day, but I still say it’s no Shake Shack, and on a California road trip I’d choose fish tacos instead every time. I’m thinking In-N-Out is one of those things you don’t fully understand the love for if you didn’t grow up with it — like scrapple, or the Goonies.

The veggie gf, a SoCal native, is a fervent In-N-Out pusher even though, as you might have guessed, she doesn’t do meat. Instead she orders the off-the-menu item seen above, an animal style “grilled cheese,” which is actually a cheeseburger with the burger part removed — lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles, cheese and secret sauce layered on a hamburger bun. Not bad for fast food, but I’m still not a disciple. I also dispute the classification of calling any sandwich that’s less than 50 percent cheese a “grilled cheese”

So am I wrong or what? Are there non-Californians out there who understand the unadulterated love for In-N-Out, or will I just never get it?

Good Bites: Hot Chocolate, Joel Robuchon and In-N-Out


If you haven’t yet discovered Good Bite, then you’re missing out on one of our favorite new food sites. With contributions from folks like David Lebovitz, Steamy Kitchen and even our nemesis Sandra Lee, it’s quickly shot to the top of our must-read list. To make sure you don’t miss out, we’ll be bringing you a weekly round-up of their best posts. This week they’ve got:

– An interview with Joel Robuchon, who talks Top Chef, El Bulli and In-N-Out (Yes, In-N-Out, and their photo of Robuchon sitting down for an animal-style is pretty priceless).

– A dish-by-dish recap of dinner at Robuchon’s new Vegas restaurant (think truffles, lots of truffles).

– Plus, a gourmet hot chocolate taste test.