Thursday, April 23, 2009

Food Blog Mashup: The All Kinds of Yum Food Marathon

A food blog mashup: two food bloggers come together to eat, meet, and take awkward photos in restaurants. One provides the premise -- that's Food Marathon, with his flights through several eateries in rapidfire succession; the other provides the location -- Fairfax Avenue, where I could offer Food Marathon a taste of my neighborhood, all within a block's walk.

Food Marathon likes to keep some anonymity on the web, so we'll refer to him as FM from here on in. Since FM already had covered West Third Street with another favorite local blogger of mine, I suggested Fairfax. And since the offerings on Fairfax lend themselves to late night noshing, we decided to make it a night owl's food marathon. In a gametime decision, we nixed Chameau, since, despite its delicious Moroccan fare, there actually is a limit to how much I can eat in one night. This left us with three stops: Canter's, Animal, and Golden State.

We met at Canter's Delicatessen, immediately got past the potential weirdness of a blind meeting over nothing but food (guess it's not that weird to us anyway), and got down to business. We ordered four items, all noteworthy for the restaurant: corned beef on rye, known as some of the best in town, the humble waffle, which LA Magazine named the best in the city in 2005, the meticulously composed fruit cup, and an egg cream -- a throwback to FM's childhood Canter's visits.

As we ate, we talked -- not just about food, though it was a popular topic. FM's made it a point to get to know as many local food bloggers as he can, and it was eye opening to me to learn what a network our city has developed over the many years. He also told me about his idea for a different kind of food mashup -- taking items from different restaurants, and combining them to make new dishes -- all while sandwiching some corned beef between a couple waffle wedges, as if to demonstrate his point.

All well and good, but it was time for the next stop. FM handed off our leftovers to a homeless guy outside Canter's, and we stepped over to the bar at Animal. It was here that our mashup would soon take on new meaning, but we didn't know that yet. What we did know was twofold: Joe's doughnuts and the bacon chocolate bar. The latter has been the talk of Animal since its opening -- the old schtick of the two dudes that are such meatheads they even put pork in their dessert. And it was all you'd expect: rich and chocolatey, with that winning salty-sweet-smokey combo. But the other dessert, Joe's doughnuts, completely stole the show. I'd had them once before, and was excited to share them with FM. And to eat them again myself -- these doughnuts are incredibly delicious. They come freshly made and warm, three fluffy orbs, in a pool of dark caramel sauce.

It was as we were leaving the restaurant that one table caught our eye for two reasons: I saw a guy I met at 11 in 11 (talk about food marathon), FM saw an old high school friend. Both were the same guy. This one table brought the mashup full circle, as social circles merged unexpectedly. FM caught up with a couple more schoolmates as I chatted with another 11 in 11 compatriot; they all mentioned their plan to go to Golden State after their dinner, and then Jon Shook, whom I'd first met through Golden State's Jason Bernstein at Animal's soft opening, came out and told us how well the restaurant was doing in the late night hours. Exactly why we were there!

We let our friends carry on with their dinner though, as we still had to get to Golden State ourselves. I walked in immediately elated: Golden State is home turf for me, and in addition to owners Jim and Jason, two of my best friends, Rachel and Nick -- Jim's brother, in town from New York to check out the new place -- were also hanging out. Though I was hoping that FM might see the place for more than his first impression of "Scoops comes west", we really couldn't eat anything substantial at this point. So, he got Scoops. And I got wine. And we chatted with my friends. Jason and FM talked shop, Jim told us the history of the Canter's fruit cup (apparently an old schoolmate of his has made a documentary on the topic), ice cream flowed, and -- I hope -- good times were had.

But eventually, every great mashup must end. FM said his goodbyes, and I hung back at Golden State a little longer. At some point the rowdy crew from Animal made their way in and a dance party ensued, with my friends and FM's friends rocking out together in the middle of the now-closed restaurant. Welcome to my neighborhood, Food Marathon. This is how we do things here.

Here's Food Marathon's take on the night.

Canter's Delicatessen is at 419 N. Fairfax.
Animal is at 435 N. Fairfax.
Golden State is at 426 N. Fairfax.
All of these spots are between Beverly and Melrose.


  1. I'm trying to imagine a suburban Food Marathon: start at Rite-Aid for ice cream, dinner at Olive Garden, Cheesecake Factory for dessert, and end at Starbucks for a coffee. That's how we do things in MY neighborhood. At least, we would if we had an Olive Garden.

  2. Love it! So fun, Golden State really is your home turf :)

  3. Awww, love it! Canter's holds a fond place in my heart. A couple years ago, I hosted my first (and probably my last, but that's a whole 'nother story) Thanksgiving dinner. Beforehand, I marched over to Canter's by myself and inhaled a pastrami sandwich for lunch before heading back to the preparation circus. Great job showing him the neighborhood!

  4. tsp, i think we could do it -- between chipotle's guacamole and those chocolate chip pancakes we had that one time, there are gems to be found in your little suburban hood.

    and b+s, yes! perhaps we will run into each other there again. strange we never seem to on third street...

    and marie, i must say i admire your consistent unabashedness in eating against the 'rules'. pastrami before the thanksgiving feast is totally something i would do, but i'd feel too guilty to tell!