Thursday, February 18, 2010

My First Cheeseburger

It had to be on my terms.

There would need to be a (good) red wine – a peppery Cantina Tre Seerre Barbera ($9) that glistens on the tongue.

There would need to be a mound of hand-cut seasoned fries that I could count as one of my daily servings of vegetables.

There would need to be soft lighting – all the better to conceal the sloppy process of consuming the item in question.

And there would need to be pickles.

There had to be pickles.

Rustic Canyon would be the place. 8 pm on Wednesday, February 17th would be the time. And Nastassia of Let Me Eat Cake, would be by my side – urging me on if I tried to chicken out and order the pappardelle with braised duck ($15) or pan roasted branzino ($30) instead of the cheeseburger we’d come for. She wouldn’t protest when I ordered it medium rather than medium-rare. And she wouldn’t find it repulsive if the herb rémoulade dripped on my fingers.

And I licked it off.

So I made a reservation. I booked a spot in a Bar Method class before said reservation in order to work up an appetite (and eradicate some of the guilt), and then I snapped my mouth shut lest anyone try to convince me that my choice of restaurant for my first ever cheeseburger was a terrible decision.

Of course, even if they had I wouldn’t have listened. I’d made up my mind -- Rustic Canyon was it.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I woke up yesterday morning.

“I’m going to eat a cheeseburger today!” I thought happily as I selected my attire for the evening – a pair of not-so-skinny jeans with room to grow around an expanding stomach, and a comfortable sweater that I wouldn’t need to dry clean if I happened to get grease on it.

The words repeated in my head all day, and I felt a rush of excitement every time I thought about it – like I was going to a movie premiere or flying to Paris or doing something considerably more exciting than eating a cheeseburger. For a girl who typically opts for fish over steak or fruit over a side of fries, however, it felt decidedly rebellious.

Arriving at the restaurant last night, my appetite raging from my difficult workout class, I was flush with lusty anticipation for the burger to come.

This is it. I thought. No turning back now.

A cursory glance at the menu did nothing to steer me off my course.

“I’ll have the burger,” I said proudly to our server. “Medium.” I finished more sheepishly, knowing that my male friends and foodie counterparts would be gouging their eyes out if they heard my request. But I was being a rebel tonight. Rebels buck tradition. Challenge authority. Defy expectations.

Just like the Niman Ranch burger ($16) at Rustic Canyon.

After 26 years of avoiding cheeseburgers, and nearly five years of snubbing burgers, I thought I was setting myself up for disappointment when I finally broke down and ate one.

It would be too greasy. It would fall apart in my fingers. It would be undercooked. Overcooked. I would feel sick after.

But biting into that thick patty of beef that is caressed by a pliant brioche-style bun from Rockenwagner Bakery, and lovingly topped with sharp cheddar cheese, sweet onion fondue, bread and butter pickles, herb rémoulade, and arugula, was a moment akin to my first taste of the squid ink pasta at Babbo in NYC three years ago.

I closed my eyes, searing the flavors into my memory.

It was bliss.

My subsequent actions are not fit to be shared with the general public, but there was a considerable amount of moaning, groaning and excessive dipping of the thick-cut fries into the accompanying aioli sauce during the next fifteen minutes.

The end result was not a pretty sight, but as I waddled to my car (thankful I’d thought to bring the un-skinny jeans with me that morning), I felt overwhelming happy.

I’d eaten a cheeseburger.

And, more importantly, I'd loved it.

Rustic Canyon Winebar
119 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-7050


SinoSoul said...

Nice! So there will be seconds, and thirds, just like sloppy sex.

Anna A. said...

Yay Bravo!!!!!

Nicole Euan said...

Looks delicious! Your post has convinced me to go to Rustic Canyon asap. I've also been dying to try their salted caramel chocolate torte. Congrats on your first cheeseburger! :)

Daily Gluttony said...

Diana Can Haz Cheezburger! I love it!

OMG, I can't believe you've never had a cheeseburger before, but congrats on popping your cheeseburger cherry. Feels good doesn't it? hahaha

yutjangsah said...

Diana; Let me be the first to say to you "Diana can haz cheezburger." Oh, DailyG already said that? Let me be the second to say it then.

And let me also say, bravo. And let me also say um watch out but I think your burger is possessed bc in the first photo, it distinctly has eaten one of your fries. sneaky bastard! hehe. hope you have your 2nd or 3rd cheeseburger soon!

Hank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hank said...

You are a bizarre but charming woman. Loved this. And that cheeseburger looks absolutely amazing. I wish you had taken me. P.S. I always order mine medium as well, so no judgment there. CONGRATS!

Gastronomer said...

Third! "Diana can haz cheezburger!"

I hope you won't be waiting another 26 years for burger number two. Let's go to Umami! I have never been and want to try. Or better yet, take me to Rustic Canyon. A sure winner.

Kate said...

I just found your blog through a New York Times article and what a great first post to read! I have to say, you've captured that first juicy bite perfectly and gave me a good laugh (not to mention a monster burger craving). Congrats and many happy burgers to you!

Jenn said...

I'm heading to rustic canyon for that burger!!! See burgers ain't so bad. There are really good ones out there.

Ashley said...

runny eggs, cheeseburgers, what's next?

Kung Food Panda said...

Eff that looked good!

Go Diana!! :)

mattatouille said...

wow you've never had a burger...until now? that's a good burger to start off with though.

FS said...

Yay! How long are you going to wait until your 2nd cheeseburger? :D

Esi said...

I'm so proud of you...even though you ordered it medium...although if you ever go to Umami and want medium, you should order medium-well, they always under cook. Little tip from me to you ;)

Diana said...

Tony – Thank you for tainting this glorious experience. And for the record, my seconds will never be sloppy!!

Anna – We’ll have to get the Grace burger together some time!

Nicole – Please do go and report back immediately! They didn’t have the salted caramel torte on the menu last night but I hear the cinnamon sugar doughnuts with hot chocolate are amazing.

Pam – I know – I am a disgraceful food blogger! But yes, it feels great. :)

Sook – Haha, I didn’t notice the fry until I uploaded the burger! But don’t you worry, I ate that fry and most of his friends.

Hank – Congratulations, you have now qualified to be a Diana Takes a Bite burger buddy. And not just because you called me charming. :)

Cathy – Don’t you worry – I won’t wait another 26 years! Though I’m not sure any cheeseburger will ever taste as good as the first one at Rustic Canyon.

Kate – Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so glad you stopped by and said hello. Hope you fulfill that burger craving soon! :

Jenn – Haha, nope, not bad at all. Though I have to admit that I’m feeling a little iffy today!

Ashley – Bone marrow?

Danny – Haha, thanks! And thank you for not mocking me for ordering it medium.

Matt – I’ve actually had tons of real burgers (though none in the past 5 years), but haven’t had a cheeseburger. Just as bad though, huh?

Meg – Last night I was ready to go for another one immediately, but today… oof. Let’s just say I ate very light today!

Esi – Thanks for the tip! I will used it wisely!

Nicole said...

how fun, congratulations! the burger was bigger than you are!!!! LOL!!! FUN!!!!

weezermonkey said...

Yay! That burger looks awesome.

But just slightly less awesome than Hank's comment.

Bianca said...

That's the biggest cheeseburger I've ever seen! Good choice for your very first!

stuffycheaks said...

I'm not a cheeseburger gal myself, but that looks amazingly juicy and dripping with ingredients. Any burger with fried egg is worth a shot. Thanks for sharing!

sarah j. gim said...

well, see, now you wont be able to eat any other burger!

which is probably ok. :D

Diana said...

Nicole – The bun looks a lot bigger than it is – it squishes down quite nicely! Who am I kidding – it was HUGE! And I ate it all.

Weezer – Hank wins best comment. I like when people call me charming. :)

Bianca – Haha, thank you! I was very pleased with it.

Stuffy Cheaks – It’s totally worth the splurge. I’d go back in a (glug glug) heartbeat!

Sarah – Yeah, this is pretty much my burger soulmate. There will be no other love like this one.

Jennifer Dawn Rogers said...

Oh, yum! I can't believe you'd avoided one all these years. I next suggest a cheeseburger tour of LA (Father's Office, Comme Ca, Umami Burger). It could be a new pastime!

Great hangin' with you yesterday at Stir It 28. I love your writing - you could totally write a novel.


Suzanne said...

Is it bad that I knew it was the Rustic Canyon burger before I even read it? GREAT blog--so glad I stumbled upon it!


Moth said...

this is so cute, diana! way to go. :)

~paella sylvia