Burger Quest :: Working Class Kitchen

Burger Quest :: Working Class Kitchen

I hadn’t realized how long I’d gone without adding a new burger to my celebrated (by me) Burger Quest list until yesterday when my co-worker/work son William suggested relative newcomer Working Class Kitchen as our destination for lunch. I’d been here for the first time a week or so ago, considering it as a Quest spot after seeing the many mentions of their burger online. With such a long lapse in time since the last Quest venture, I decided to go for it at WCK with their genuine, bona fide Chianina burger made with BEEF, a rate appearance on any Dianderthal list due to my on-again/off-again pescetarianism/semi-vegetarianism habits. Yesterday, it felt wonderful to be off as the Chianina burger was On. Right on, so juicy, so flavorful – the meat tender and succulent, attuned by the vibrant color provided by their scratch-made remoulade and sweetly caramelized onions. And much of the burger’s beauty was in the bun, a not-too-soft split roll dense enough to handle all the juiciness.

working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest

Work son and the rest of my lunchtime pals marveled at the speed at which I finished my burger. Gone in 60 seconds? Pretty close. Probably in five or six healthy bites. Perhaps I almost bit off a couple of my fingers. Made in my hometown, enjoyed outdoors, and paired with a few handfuls of WCK’s divine frites, I was in lunchtime heaven as I savored this meal. Only thing about lunchtime heaven, however, is that it isn’t eternal. After 15 minutes or so, we had to pack it up and head back to the office. At least it was a Friday, giving me the weekend to look forward to.

working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest

I am eternally grateful, though, that a great burger is such a short drive away from my workplace. Now if I can only find a way to make this burger fit into my diet should I resume my sometimes pescetarian ways. Maybe a monthly cheat day will do the trick. Whatever I do, the Burger Quest continues, with WCK shaking things up…

Official Dianderthal Burger Quest Burger List:
1. Hawkins House of Burgers turkey burger with everything (mayo, mustard, pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce), cheese added
2. The Chianina Burger at Working Class Kitchen with cheese
3. PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check with americanized dashi cheese, ketchup leather, schmaltz onions, mixed pickles, crunch bun
4. 25 Degrees Number One Burger (turkey subbed for beef) with caramelized onions, crescenza, prelibato gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, thousand island
5. Burger Lounge’s Free Range Turkey Burger, served Lounge Style with organic white cheddar, grilled onion, lettuce, tomato, and house-made 1000 Island
6. Father’s Office Burger with arugula, caramelized onions, Gruyere, applewood bacon, and maytag blue cheese
7. Island’s California Flyer turkey burger (BBQ sauce, “Island Reds” – fried onion straws, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato & mayo)
8.Golden State turkey burger with provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and ketchup, (added grilled onions)
9. Oh My Burger BYOMB (Build Your Oh My Burger) turkey with OMB sauce, ketchup, pepper jack, and onion rings
10. Holstein’s California Turkey Burger with sprouts, tomato, avocado, cucumber claw, pepperjack cheese, and Russian dressing
11. Yeah! Burger (Make It Your Own – turkey patty, whole wheat bun, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo, ketchup, grilled onions, honey mustard)
12. The Habit (Veggie burger made like a Charburger, with mayo, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, cucumber, and sprouts)
13. The Counter (Build Your Own – turkey patty, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, ketchup)
14. Burger City Grill (The BCG, turkey patty, pickles, grilled onions)
15. The Dallas at Bobby’s Burger Palace – spice crusted ground turkey patty with coleslaw, jack cheese, BBQ sauce, and pickles

Fry Factor
1. Island’s fries with ranch dressing
2. Golden State fried sweet potato wedges with garlic aioli (and a few with curry ketchup)
3. Working Class Kitchen’s frites
4. Burger Lounge’s fries with house-made Ranch
5. Holstein’s sweet potato fries
6. 25 Degrees Half & Half (sweet potato and regular fries)
7. Father’s Office sweet potato fries with blue cheese aioli
8. The Counter 50-50 fries (half regular, half sweet Ps)
9. Oh My Burger sweet potato fries
10. The Habit french fries
11. Plan Check sweet potato waffle fries and regular fries
12. Bobby’s Burger Palace sweet potato fries
13. Burger City Grill fries
14. Yeah! Burger sweet potato fries
15. Hawkins House of Burgers fries

Working Class Kitchen
1322 Coronado Avenue in Long Beach

Burger Quest :: Working Class Kitchen

Burger Quest :: Working Class Kitchen

I hadn’t realized how long I’d gone without adding a new burger to my celebrated (by me) Burger Quest list until yesterday when my co-worker/work son William suggested relative newcomer Working Class Kitchen as our destination for lunch. I’d been here for the first time a week or so ago, considering it as a Quest spot after seeing the many mentions of their burger online. With such a long lapse in time since the last Quest venture, I decided to go for it at WCK with their genuine, bona fide Chianina burger made with BEEF, a rate appearance on any Dianderthal list due to my on-again/off-again pescetarianism/semi-vegetarianism habits. Yesterday, it felt wonderful to be off as the Chianina burger was On. Right on, so juicy, so flavorful – the meat tender and succulent, attuned by the vibrant color provided by their scratch-made remoulade and sweetly caramelized onions. And much of the burger’s beauty was in the bun, a not-to-soft split roll dense enough to handle all the juiciness.

working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest

Work son and the rest of my lunchtime pals marveled at the speed at which I finished my burger. Gone in 60 seconds? Pretty close. Probably in five or six healthy bites. Perhaps I almost bit off a couple of my fingers. Made in my hometown, enjoyed outdoors, and paired with a few handfuls of WCK’s divine frites, I was in lunchtime heaven as I savored this meal. Only thing about lunchtime heaven, however, is that it isn’t eternal. After 15 minutes or so, we had to pack it up and head back to the office. At least it was a Friday, giving me the weekend to look forward to.

working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest working class kitchen Long Beach chianina burger quest

I am eternally grateful, though, that a great burger is such a short drive away from my workplace. Now if I can only find a way to make this burger fit into my diet should I resume my sometimes pescetarian ways. Maybe a monthly cheat day will do the trick. Whatever I do, the Burger Quest continues, with WCK shaking things up…

Official Dianderthal Burger Quest Burger List:
1. Hawkins House of Burgers turkey burger with everything (mayo, mustard, pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce), cheese added
2. The Chianina Burger at Working Class Kitchen with cheese
3. PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check with americanized dashi cheese, ketchup leather, schmaltz onions, mixed pickles, crunch bun
4. 25 Degrees Number One Burger (turkey subbed for beef) with caramelized onions, crescenza, prelibato gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, thousand island
5. Burger Lounge’s Free Range Turkey Burger, served Lounge Style with organic white cheddar, grilled onion, lettuce, tomato, and house-made 1000 Island
6. Father’s Office Burger with arugula, caramelized onions, Gruyere, applewood bacon, and maytag blue cheese
7. Island’s California Flyer turkey burger (BBQ sauce, “Island Reds” – fried onion straws, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato & mayo)
8.Golden State turkey burger with provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and ketchup, (added grilled onions)
9. Oh My Burger BYOMB (Build Your Oh My Burger) turkey with OMB sauce, ketchup, pepper jack, and onion rings
10. Holstein’s California Turkey Burger with sprouts, tomato, avocado, cucumber claw, pepperjack cheese, and Russian dressing
11. Yeah! Burger (Make It Your Own – turkey patty, whole wheat bun, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo, ketchup, grilled onions, honey mustard)
12. The Habit (Veggie burger made like a Charburger, with mayo, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, cucumber, and sprouts)
13. The Counter (Build Your Own – turkey patty, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, ketchup)
14. Burger City Grill (The BCG, turkey patty, pickles, grilled onions)
15. The Dallas at Bobby’s Burger Palace – spice crusted ground turkey patty with coleslaw, jack cheese, BBQ sauce, and pickles

Fry Factor
1. Island’s fries with ranch dressing
2. Golden State fried sweet potato wedges with garlic aioli (and a few with curry ketchup)
3. Working Class Kitchen’s frites
4. Burger Lounge’s fries with house-made Ranch
5. Holstein’s sweet potato fries
6. 25 Degrees Half & Half (sweet potato and regular fries)
7. Father’s Office sweet potato fries with blue cheese aioli
8. The Counter 50-50 fries (half regular, half sweet Ps)
9. Oh My Burger sweet potato fries
10. The Habit french fries
11. Plan Check sweet potato waffle fries and regular fries
12. Bobby’s Burger Palace sweet potato fries
13. Burger City Grill fries
14. Yeah! Burger sweet potato fries
15. Hawkins House of Burgers fries

Working Class Kitchen
1322 Coronado Avenue in Long Beach

Ladies Who Wine :: The Social List

Ladies Who Wine :: The Social List

It’s been a while since we’ve had one of our Ladies Who Wine outings, so there was a big turnout for our visit to The Social List on Long Beach’s Retro Row, those attending ready to be social, and to make lists (of all the food and drink they planned to suck down).

The Social List easily gets your attention if you’re driving by. It begs you to stop in with its pale yellow façade, its bold lettering letting you know you’ve arrived; its patio seating and windowed doors summoning Long Beach inside while the aroma of their perky food, their hearty brews floats out onto 4th Street. Settled on a corner near the Arts Theater and The Center LB, The Social List holds its own with other culinary favorites in the area, like Lola’s and Number Nine.

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This outing’s beverage lesson, provided by Nora, educated the table on beers. Sour beers, which until last night I’d never heard of. They’re made tart from a careful balance of bacteria added during brewing, a risky trick though an oft-practice one in Belgium. The art of developing a pleasingly soured brew has spread to the US in recent years, Nora informing us that sour beers are what all the cool kids are drinking. We followed up our lesson with a practical application, ordering a couple bottles of Silly Sour to share. I adopted one of the bottles as my own once the table had a try at it, the taste reminding me of a cool summer shandy, though not as sweet.

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In addition to beers, we munched on small plates and a couple of entrees. I quite enjoyed my chicken apple cinnamon (!) sausage, a different choice than my usual type of go-to fare. I’d get it again, along with the patatas bravas and the butternut squash and onion jam toast.

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We had a special guest in the form of Kristina’s cousin from Paris, so in addition to sour beer, I got a quick schooling in European geography. And with French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese speakers around the table, I was able to practice many a foreign language – and to give my not so pleasant British accent another try. They say it tends to drift toward Jamaican. Despite my likely offense of certain groups, it was another fabulous time indeed with the Ladies, our lesson, and our love of food. The Social List is certainly a place we’ll have to check twice and then some.

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The Social List
2105 E. 4th Street on Long Beach’s Retro Row

Tasty Places :: Working Class Kitchen

Tasty Places :: Working Class Kitchen

Working Class Kitchen is the newest gift to Long Beach from Michael’s Restaurant Group. The folks that brought the southland’s most celebrated pizza to my city (from Michael’s Pizzeria if you didn’t know – now, you know) – in addition to the elegant Michael’s on Naples and new Naples favorite, Chianina Steakhouse – now offer an every day kind of place for people like me – I certainly am what you’d call a working class kind of gal.

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A sort of gastro-butcher, WCK packs sandwiches with fresh meats brought in daily from local sources. You can pick up a sandwich stuffed with smoked ham, meatloaf, or corned beef, or grab a freshly butchered rabbit or a pork shank as fixer uppers of your own. For lunch, the gang and I were on our way to Los Compadres (as usual) when I noticed a sign for WCK parked on the sidewalk near the Walgreens on the corner of Redondo and Anaheim. Seeing the word “kitchen,” I had to investigate further, Googling the place instantly and deciding that I’d try it out the next day. Sandy agreed to go with me, so the two of us left behind our Los Compadres leftovers the following day, ready to add something new to our lunchtime repertoire.

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I really wanted to try the Chianina burger, which received high praise from those sharing about WCK online. But deciding to postpone a Burger Quest mission to a day when I’d have more time to savor, could pair my burger with a beer, I went instead with the grilled cheese, a wonderfully crisp and melty construction, enlivened with roasted red peppers. Sandy got the smoked ham, a good choice, she said, balanced and rich. My favorite find here, however, were their frites – you know I’m not just a fly girl; I’m a fry girl. And these fries did it for me, greasy and chewy and fluffy, the way fries are meant to be. Can’t wait to have more of these with my burger when I return.

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I was glad their food met my expectations (which were high) but also, the place has a cool factor that is digable. Industrial and bare and rustic, the vibe says it’s a place to sit, to hang, to revel. It’s just what we working class people need. Their motto Sine Labore Nihil is Latin for Without Work, There is Nothing – a stance WCK seems to take on with pride, and one I appreciate, especially when I can treat myself to local spots like these using my hard earned money.

Working Class Kitchen
1322 Coronado Avenue in Long Beach

52 Notes :: Valentine’s Quickies

52 Notes :: Valentine’s Quickies

I’m that person whose party gift lands on the table without a tag, requiring the recipient to look around sheepishly as she opens it to figure out the givee, me lifting my hand, apologizing for my lack of decorum with a grand smile, a gentle shrug. A few times, I’ve written my name on the top corner of the bag, practically having to etch the letters, the waxy paper not easily accepting of ink. I’m at least better than my husband, who once showed up to a friend’s wedding with our gift in a floppy gray plastic bag, the bold lettering of Bed, Bath & Beyond viewable from space. My bad for not picking something up early, forgetting I hadn’t purchased a gift as I helped the bride-to-be prep. A hard one but lesson learned – I no longer wanted to be that gifter. Five years ago, when the American Greetings store in the Cerritos Mall closed, I spent about fifteen bucks on 30 or so cards, a purchase meant to support my new habit of being ready to bid fond farewells, best wishes, and the happiest of birthdays to family and friends. My greeting card bonanza was to save me from my chronic lack of preparedness. At 70-90% off, I picked up cards for work birthdays, for congratulations, for condolences, for missing those who were far away (at the time, my oldest daughter  was preparing to leave for college in the fall). And I purchased a pair of Valentine’s Day cards for my husband, though we’d never really been the card-swapping type. 52 notes quickie valentine With the bulk of my collection to be used for work birthdays, I kept the bunch in my office so as to prevent burning a morning break with a trip to Ralph’s for a last minute purchase when someone asked if I’d remembered that it was so-and-so’s birthday. 52notes quickie valentine Problem was that I kept forgetting to pull out the non-work cards, leaving me with an obsolete stack of greetings, collecting dust on my bookshelf over the years, including the love cards for my husband. 52 notes february valentine And he didn’t get any of them this year either as it wasn’t until I’d spent five bucks at Target on a new card that I remembered the waning stash at work. But I did indeed send him a card – mailed it from Elm Street to Elm Street, stamp and everything, along with a Valentine’s card to my sweet parents far away in Stockton, and a birthday card for my hound loving UCLA homie, Tami. This lucky bunch can brag that they received full-priced greetings from me. Hopefully, I’ll find a use for my remaining, obscure bargain bin remains before the year is over, even the juvenile one for my youngest niece, who is now 16.

What is 52 Notes?

Tasty Places :: La Vida Cantina

Tasty Places :: La Vida Cantina

It is finished. And that means that I’m just beginning again. I finished my half marathon on Sunday and I did so without my knee exploding or falling off. And this means that training for the (full) Los Angeles Marathon is back on. Yay.

Can you feel the enthusiasm?

la vida cantina || dianderthal || surf city marathon la vida cantina || dianderthal || surf city marathon

I do this. Groan when I’m ailing – bemoaning the pain, jealous of those jogging the parks, the sidewalks as I drive; but lazy, hopelessly tired when well; full of gripes. But if running were easy, I suppose everyone would do it.

A big motivator for these runs – in addition to the heavy medals we get after crossing the finish line – is food. I eat plenty of it while training, and always enjoy a hearty meal after one of these big races. Sunday’s Surf City Marathon was no exception, three of my favorite homies heading to Costa Mesa with me to replenish and refuel after 13.1 grueling miles.

la vida cantina || dianderthal || surf city marathon la vida cantina || dianderthal || surf city marathon

It was a first half marathon for my friends Sandy (aka the work wife) and Julio, both of whom survived and are hungry for another medal (OC is up next in the Beach Cities Challenge). Our friend Kristina, Julio’s partner Gil (who brought a congratulatory cake from 85 Degrees), and two of our kids met us at our restaurant of refuge, La Vida Cantina at The Triangle. I admit that what kept me going on Sunday was knowing that, eventually, I’d have my lips wrapped ’round a straw, sipping a salty-sweet margarita post-race. Maybe my runner’s high was still kicking in; maybe it was my beloved company; but I have to say that my experience at La Vida was one of the best I’ve had in a while.

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The service was part of this. Perhaps we got lucky, but our waiter (didn’t catch his name) charmed us; treated us to fabulous service. Funny and responsive, he and the rest of the crew made us feel comfortable and welcome.

We also enjoyed the setting, our seats outside The Triangle’s rooftop patio. You can’t beat a SoCal February, the temperature a idyllic 70 degrees. I could have chilled there all afternoon, and probably would have had it not been Super Bowl Sunday and in a hurry to get home (more for the commercials, though I crashed and missed the entire first half). If close to home, La Vida would be a definite “kick it” spot, especially on Sundays for their brunch, the “B” word bringing me to a third reason for my La Vida love…

Their food! Both sumptuous and reasonably priced. Those who know me are aware of my fondness for enchiladas suizas, especially from Los Compadres – all other suizas are compared to theirs. This is what I ordered at La Vida, and I have to say that their version held up pretty well to LC’s; not as creamy but with more fire to them. Don’t know if I can really compare, truthfully. The La Vida suizas certainly satisfied and left me wanting more. And their margarita delighted me; made me forget about my heavy fatigue, my pain (while not acute as it had been, my knee still gave me a little trouble). Lesson learned here, La Vida Cantina is a wonderful go-to spot after a race, and anytime. If it weren’t so far away, I’d designate it as my crashing spot after LA. I have a feeling however that, after 26 miles, I will stop, drop, and eat at the first alcohol-serving hole-in-the-wall I’m able to find near the finish line. But thank you, La Vida Cantina, for treating us to a wonderful time after Surf City!

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La Vida Cantina
1870 Harbor Blvd. in Costa Mesa

52 Notes :: Moved!

52 Notes :: Moved!

This little project of mine was really meant to get my pen moving. To push me from talking to walking – me always saying I should send so-and-so a card, a note, a letter, yet never doing it. I wasn’t doing it to get a letter in return, though I hoped that one day I would. And I have, already; one from Gay McDonald, the woman who directed UCLA Child Care Services back when I was a student at UCLA. She’s retired now (after 23 years of service), she told me, but the staff forwarded a copy of my note to her. In her response, she congratulated me on my success in parenting and my career (I was kind of vague about my current civil-servitude). I’m incredibly moved that she took the time to write back to me, and for her kind words – in beautiful blue script on actual paper! 🙂

UCLA thanks 52 notes dianderthal Gay McDonald