Bun Boy Eats LA
BUN BOY EATS LA - Archives for 2011 November

ISRAEL – PART #3

  • November 28, 2011 11:27 pm

Best Schnitzel in Town!

The next morning we drove back to the West Bank to visit the ruins of Herodium, a fortress on top of a man made hill built by King Herod the Great.

The best part of this place were the series of caves to explore, making me feel like (even more of a) child.

Ruins at Herodium

Tunnels at Herodium

Aerial View of Herodium

On the way back to Jerusalem, we stopped by the Israel Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and a miniature model of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Full Scale Model of Old Jerusalem

That evening, we made our way to Flam winery.

Israel has over 200 wineries and apparently they don’t taste like crap anymore. Most of the wine we drank was pretty tasty. And if Jesus was drinking it way back in the day, I’m sure a few things were perfected by now.

We enjoyed an absolute feast that night after our tasting, probably my favorite food on the trip besides that very first chicken schwarma which I could kick myself for not photographing.

Flam Winery - We took over the joint

Eggs, Radishes and Asparagus

Baked Cauliflower - Assaulted with Knife

Sweet Potato and...uh...

Salmon Ginger Apple Carpaccio

Persimmon Rocket Salad

Pomegranate Tahini Eggplant

Chocolate Coffee Braised Beef

Cheesy Apricot Pastry - with Hair!

The following morning, we visited Netafim, a once small Kibbutz started in 1965 turned global company) who revolutionized the irrigation industry, especially for water starved countries.

Basically, they invented drip irrigation for crops. Instead of wasteful sprays, farmers can use a fraction of the water and only water the roots instead of spraying into the air to be evaporated or misdirected.

Watching the video presentation

Drip Irrigation Tubes

We made our way to the Ramon Crater and checked into our gorgeous hotel , overlooking the Grand Canyon like natural wonder.

Our amazing hotel

I wasn’t feeling well, so I ditched out early from dinner after sufficiently infecting everyone in a half table radius.

Chilled Tomato Bisque

In Israel, steaks are referred to as "Entrecote"

The next morning we jeeped around a bit in time to watch the sun rise and then enjoyed another posh Israeli breakfast of about 1000 dishes to choose from. I was still feeling awful so I just had some toast.

The Ramon Crater at Sunrise

I totally forgot to mention something!

This is my 5th day with a fever and sore throat! I tried to keep it a secret and just overdose on Advil but eventually nothing seemed to work and it all became too much!

The fever started on my nightmarish, middle-seat hell ride from JFK to Tel Aviv. I’ll never forgive the powers that be for that.

Dried Fruits

Honey straight from the source

Toast with Passion Fruit Jelly

That afternoon we made our way to Masada, the famous mountaintop fortress located on the edge of the Judean Desert known for the mass Jewish suicide to escape Roman capture. Pretty dramatic stuff. Look it up, I’m not a history teacher.

The views of the Dead Sea were pretty breathtaking. Too bad I was busy sneezing and coughing and bumming Sudafed from people like a crack addict.

The highlight of Masada (which we had to take a harrowing cable car ride to reach) was the Chicken Schnitzel we ate afterwards (pictured at the very top).

Who knew cafeteria food could be so great?! (Plus, McDonald’s was charging 50 Shekels (about 12 bucks) for a meal! Too much money for a cheeseless burger!

Cable Car up to Masada

Masada

View of the Dead Sea from the top of Masada

Angry Birds!

HAPPY BUNSGIVING!

  • November 27, 2011 10:52 pm

This took ALL day.....

Thanksgiving is like the superbowl for me.

It’s THE day for a food obssessed soul, such as myself.

Helping yourself to a second portion is not only encouraged but expected.

Why on earth do we only eat these autumnal delicacies once a year??

Hope everyone has a fantasmic Thanksgiving and eats their guts out so I don’t look like a little piggy!

BUN

ISRAEL – PART #2

  • November 23, 2011 10:32 am

The Best Chocolate Rugelach you will EVER eat.

The thing I found most interesting about Jerusalem is that you can pretty much touch every holy site you want.

Rub your hands, face, jewelry, clothing all over it. Go for it!

Slowly destroy history.

Just don’t take a picture of it.

I began to realize that these sacred stones which covered spots of historical Jesus-related significance were probably not very old (they probably had a few spares in back) but perhaps photos eliminate the need to visit for the those you show them to?

Or is it just the fact you’re boring everyone with your vacation slide show?

Today, was basically Jesus Day.

We spent the entire day exploring Jerusalem and Bethlehem and anywhere else Jesus hung out, took a poo, raised the dead, ect.

The Old City of Jerusalem (the oldest part, I guess) is completely walled in and contains 8 gates (grand entrances). The walls were built in the 1500’s, long after Jesus’ day.

All three major religions have a stake in the Old City. Muslims have their Dome of the Rock, Jews have their Western Wall and Temple Mount (which is housed in the Dome…makes things tricky) and the Christians have their Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

More on that later.

For those of you who aren’t Jewish or don’t live in LA or New York, a mezzuzah is placed on the doorway of every Jewish household.

It contains a piece of parchment with a few verses from the Torah.

It’s basically good luck to walk by it, so more agressive households place one in every doorway of their house.

Except the bathroom.

An Enormous Mezuzah at the Jaffa Gate - Entrance to the Jerusalem's Old City

The two things you'll see the most in Israel.

All three major languages get represented. In order of importance.

Hallah if you want some Challah!

Pomegranate Juice Stands. My favorite thing about Israel.

All the bad stuff that happened to Jesus, happened here!

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built, destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed a few times but I believe the current model was finished in 1048. Just don’t quote me on that.

Basically, it was built to commemorate the spot where Jesus was crucified, where his body was prepared for burial and his tomb.

And this place gets PACKED.

What make this place trippy is two-fold. One, it has been built and destroyed so many times it’s this crazy hodge podge of building styles. I could spend days in here exploring.

Second, each major Christian denomination runs a section of the church. One wing for Roman Catholic, one for Greek Orthodox, ect.

It’s kind of sad how rare it is for religion to share and intersect like this.

The general wait to get inside Jesus’ tomb can be a half a day!

We managed to luck out, so it was only an hour for us.

And, of course, no pictures inside the tomb.

But I could touch the hell out of the burial stone!

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

It was SO odd to see people furiously rubbing their scarves and necklaces and anything they could pull out of their pockets on the stone below.

I just stood and watched them for a second in awe. Even their lint must have been holy after this ritual.

The Alleged Spot where Jesus was prepared for Burial (and the Shroud of Turin was placed on him)

The Alleged Spot of the Crucifixion of Jesus

They had some stone fragments with holes where the cross supposedly was jammed in, covered in glass.

But people were jamming themselves in there so tight to get a picture, I wasn’t able to get one of my own.

Thanks, jerks.

Now, I don’t mean to sound jaded with my use of the term “allegedly” and “supposedly” (and “jerks”) and it was pretty incredible to see these sights and relics in person to match with the stories I was raised on.

I’ve just become very skeptical in my old age and have my doubts that any of these spots relating to jesus are exact.

I guess I won’t be happy unless they find ancient graffiti from Jesus himself saying “I was here” or “This Shroud is wrapped too tight.”

It’s nice to have a symbolic spot or memorial for reference and there’s definitely a lot of spiritual energy here, however, so I can appreciate that.

But there were a lot of crucifixions going on at the time, do they really know if that was Jesus’s exact spot? Or that belonging to Charles the farmer who had blatantly refused to use Monsanto’s seeds.

Trust me, if Monsanta was around back then, you know they would do it!

Crumbling Mosaics

Candles surrounding the structure containing the alleged burial place of Jesus.

The Alleged Room of the Last Supper

Afterwards, we roamed the Arab market. I LOVE Arab markets, there’s nothing like them anywhere else. So many colors and smells and fresh fruit and sticky desserts and carcasses surrounded by flies.

And pomegranates.

Everywhere you go.

So delicious.

Not like that POM shit we have here.

A Selection of Halva, a super sweet Middle Eastern dessert

Yarmulkes for Sale! Get yer Red Hot Yarmulkes!

On our way to Bethlehem, which I learned is in the West Bank, we crossed into Palestinian territory. They have the option to board your bus and check your passports, but they let us in without hassle.

It was sprinkling that day, creating a somber mood.

We visited the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus was supposedly born.

In order to avoid the long ass lines, our tour guide decided to grease some wheels.

I don’t think he slipped enough shekels to the guard cuz, cuz we sure were waiting… and waiting… these guards must have HATED our guide!

A Subtle Welcome

Outside the Church of the Nativity

Inside the Church of the Nativity

We finally got to slip through a side entrance to the basement area where the Jesus spot was.

People were lining up to kiss it.

While I should have been moved the experience, I was just thinking that a cold sore epidemic was about to break out.

You have to bend down really low to this enclave where all these lamps and incense are hanging.

It’s kind of trippy.

Kiss it!!

The exact spot where Jesus was born. Purell that shit!

That evening, before dinner, we did one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.

The Tower of David Museum’s Sound and Light Show.

It’s so gorgeous and moving, I can’t even describe it.

But since I kind of have to, it’s like watching the world’s largest IMAX movie (part trippy animation, part live action)

They basically take the ruins of the Tower of David pictured above (which is an ancient citadel, built in the 2nd Century BC) and turn it into the spectacle below.

(Keep in mind, no photos were allowed so these pics are courtesy of four jerks online who broke the rules. Just call me Robin Hood, stealing from the rich).

Pot smokers, delight!

Afterwards, we had dinner at a restaurant that boasted Biblical recipes and ingredients.

Like every meal in Israel, it was a 3 hour affair.

The Chef came out and gave us a little demonstration and passed around ancient ingredients including Jerusalem Artichoke, also called a Sunchoke..

Really fun, delicious, creative food. Especially that chicken stuffed fig! One of the richest things I’ve ever eaten.

Every Israeli dinner comes with about 89 salads/apps to start.

Fig stuffed with Chicken Breast in a Pomegranate sauce

Crap, I completely forget what this was.

Stuffed Grapeleaves and Stuffed Condoms?

This dish requires assistance from our studio audience

Sort of a Biblical Paella

Baked Eggplant with a Tahini Pomagranate sauce

Veal Meatballs and Okra

ISRAEL – PART #1

  • November 22, 2011 8:28 am

Dome of the Rock / Western Wall

I came back from Israel last week and have spent the time debating how I’m gonna portray my trip.

Usually Bun Boy would come back from a journey lambasting the country’s sanitary standards, questionable foods and odd customs.

Besides a few situations (which I will gladly share) Israel pleasantly surprised me.

The streets are relatively clean, the air appears pollution free, I always felt safe, poverty appears non-existent, the food was fresh, delicious and did not cause frequent toilet visits.

How on earth am I gonna make this interesting and utterly hilarious and perhaps not grossly offend anyone??

Then I stopped underestimating myself and realized people don’t read the crap I write anyways.

You all just come here for the pictures.

So….my adventure began at the JFK airport.

I knew that, at some point, I’d be asked a series of questions before my arrival into Israel to determine if I was going to attempt some sort of terrorism.

In LA, I had been given both sets of boarding passes, so I thought I was done or that someone would have told me what the hell I should be doing.

While sitting calmly at my gate at JFK, I overheard “Ladies and Gentlemen, if you did not check in upstairs, please report to the gate.”

Uh oh.

I was the ONLY one standing up to “report to the gate”.

There began my 30 minutes of intense questions by 3 different security staff.

Then they began the call to begin boarding.

I had never in my life felt like a criminal, until today.

My mouth became devoid of moisture, my hands shook as I handed the lady my itinerary when she asked what cities I’d be visiting.

While the entire line of travellers watch.

“I’m not sure, it says here-“

“I don’t need that, sir.”

They also had issue with the fact that all my luggage was being carried on.

“You’re going to be gone all that time and that’s all you packed??”

This question was asked by several individuals.

“Have you ever been to the middle east?”

“Do you keep in contact with anyone you met in Egypt?”

“Why isn’t the rest of your tour group with you?”

I was also led away from the gate to the other end of the airport, which seemed to take forever!

“Am I gonna miss my flight?”

No answer.

I was really starting to panic and get angry.

I was contemplating just buying a ticket back to LA and enjoying a nice staycation.

After my third round of questions upon my eventual return to the gate (the gal that led me away got to our destination just to say “Oh, I guess we didn’t have to come here”), I was eventually led to the front of the line, which had barely moved during my traumatizing ordeal.

Thank God!

Mouth moisture began to return but I think the shakes lasted for a bit longer.

My second tribulation lay ahead of me.

As I make my way to seat 39J, I realize I’m stuck in a MIDDLE seat.

Sandwiched between two unbathed individuals on a sweltering, 11 hour flight was my punishment for some unknown crime in a past life.

Mom had warned me to take an aspirin before the flight, which I forgot, so now I was sure to die of a blood clot.

Deep Vein Thrombosis, here I come!

I arrived in Tel Aviv and took a taxi to my friend’s house in Herzliya to spend the night before our tour was to begin.

I met Audrey last year on my India trip, she was an absolute hoot. She was with her husband, Freddy, this time.

We had dinner that night at an upscale Iraqi restaurant (Iraqi??) called Etnika and gorged ourselves until we nearly passed out at the table due to jet lag.

The first of 78 servings of Israeli Salads on this trip

Stuffed Eggplant in a spiced Tahini sauce

Lamb, Veggies and Cous Cous

Fish in sauce....that's the best I can remember.

The next morning (after sleeping on the world’s narrowest bed) I sneak a peak at the house’s bomb shelter which they use as a laundry room (every house in Israel has a bomb shelter, I learned) and visit one of Freddy’s relatives who lives next door.

She’s a sweet but odd duck who make miniatures (like doll houses and all the parts for them) and holds workshops in her basement instructing people how to do the same.

Eventually, we make our way to the airport where we meet the rest of our group and bus our way to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, the city I most closely associated with the word “bombing”.

Interesting that doing something as benign as eating at a cafe or riding the bus could prove deadly here.

The unfortunate thing is that many people still equate this city with suicide bombers even though there hasn’t been a suicide bomber in the Israeli controlled part of Jerusalem in 7 years.

Israel has one of the lowest murder rates in the world, averaging about 140 murders a year for the whole country. The city of LA has already had 509 murders this year alone, so far.

It’s been a slow year.

A hotel provided Yarmulke for our trip to the Western Wall

Before dinner, we grab our hotel-provided yarmulkes (which all the men must wear out of respect) and head out to visit the Western or Wailing Wall.

The only surviving portion of the Second Temple (King Herod’s Temple -the 1st being King Soloman’s temple) which was derstroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The wall surrounded the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock, which all three major religions consider very holy.

It’s nearly impossible for non-Muslims to visit the Dome of the Rock (the golden domed structure covering both the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven and the Holy of Holies, the holiest part of the Jewish temple).

A place I can’t go??

Get me there!

I kept asking if we could figure out a way to go and was rebuffed each time.

I soon became obsessed with going to the Dome.

…and just as soon, I forgot all about it.

The Western Wall at the start of Shabbat/Sabbath. Craziest place in Israel.

Camera's weren't allowed (stole this pic) but you can see how difficult it was getting up to the actual wall!

Sabbath at the Western Wall is a trip. Orthodox jews praying and bobbing and weaving and singing and dancing in circles. Almost like a wedding except with no women or drinking.

Women must go to their own section of the wall as not to distract the men.

I felt like such a stranger in a strange land at that moment, wandering through the crowd. It didn’t appear that there were any other tourists there but me. I felt like I had stumbled upon an ancient club or fraternity.

I made my way up to the wall which had become ultra smooth from everyone’s touch and attempted to find a place to cram my handwritten prayers.

Let’s just say, there was no room in the inn.

There were hundreds of prayers that had fallen out of the crevices and laying on the floor. But I managed to find a spot in the wall for mine, knowing they would blow away into oblivion moments later.

I later found out that twice a year, all the prayers are removed and buried so that not a single prayer is ever destroyed. I found that touching.

Pictures were not encouraged inside the arch.

There is a section of the wall called Wilson’s Arch (pictured above) and you walk through what appears to be this giant cave like aquaduct and there it became even crazier. If outside was the club, this was the secret clubhouse!

Lots more praying and Torahs and Synagogue paraphanelia (not to mention too many people, lots of heat, a few unpleasant smells. Get me outta here!)

I had felt so out of place but made myself stay for at least five minutes.

It felt so foreign to me, like discovering a new Alien race or going to NASCAR for the first time.

I wondered if this is what it would feel like for an athiest to come to a Catholic church but what made it so surreal was that everyone was dressed alike.

These were the ultra orthodox Jews and their outfits were intensely specific and layered and did not seem adequately constructed for Israeli temperatures!

Ok, back to the hotel for my first Shabbat dinner!

Welcome fruit in my hotel room at the David Citadel. It pretty much sat there my entire stay.

Push the Sabbath button once the sun goes down for all your light turning off needs!

This button baffled me. I pushed it and nothing happened. And then two hotel staff appeared at my door with chocolates asking if I needed anything.

I soon learned just how many things you cannot do on the Sabbath (Friday night through Saturday night) as a practicing Jew.

We sat down in one of the hotel’s conference rooms and enjoyed dinner with our guest speaker, the former Israeli Ambassador to Canada.

A moment to speak about my group. Besides one couple from New York, they were all from Canada.

When they had their orientation meeting in Toronto, I was present via a cell phone sitting on a chair and would listen in.

The tour that I was on was referred to as a mission. The purpose of which was to bring people to Israel and show them what its all about. To break stereotypes. To Educate Christians about Judaism, and vice versa. To bring business to Israel.

They occur once every other year and the folks that organize the tour are (and half of the group in attendance) some heavy hitters in the Canadian Jewish community.

Many in our group spoke Hebrew and had been to Israel dozens of times.

About 8 non-Jews out of the 29.

Many were also quite wealthy.

Everyone kept talking about their summer homes (which they all called their “cottages”) and their nannys.

I remember sitting with one of the gals as she described her real estate job. “We do mostly condos and shopping malls.”

I’ve BEEN to shopping malls and RENT an apartment….

Ok, enough about all this.

We all stood up and said a few prayers in Hebrew that everyone in the room seemed to know (except me and a few others) and then sat down to eat.

The food was pretty tasty but as it was kosher (and going to be for the next two weeks) I kept thinking something was missing.

I’m not sure I ever got used to it, even though everything was tasty, for the most part.

I wonder if anyone would have noticed if I would have snuck a slice of contraband cheddar from my pocket?

Jehova Juice

My first Shabbat dinner! Thanks Audrey!

Baked filet of St. Peter in Oriental Sauce

Braised Beef with Root Vegetable Puree

THE GRIDDLE CAFE

  • November 21, 2011 7:46 am

A Winter Wonderland of Decadence and Gluttony

Now, I’m not going to say that the Griddle Cafe is everything that’s wrong with America (that honor goes to Las Vegas).

However, the portions here are perhaps more appropriate for a Stegosaurus than a typically peckish human.

This throwback to the Roman Vomitorium* is known for two things. Big ass lines and big ass pancakes.

It can take forever to get a table.

And the pancakes are as big as blankets (to protect us during these harsh LA winters).

There’s a lot of waste going on.

If I was a homeless person, I would be parking my happy ass outside their dumpster (keeping myself warm, wrapped in sticky leftovers).

This particular morning, I decided to opt for the vastly smaller Peanut Bubba French Toast.

Now, I’m not complaining about the taste here, folks. This was some DAMN good stuff. Crunchy peanut butter crisps to be found througout every bite. What are these heavenly crisps??

Someone should run tests.

The only reason I chose this place was I knew we were to be dining at 8:30 a.m. Anytime past 9 on a weekend and you’re going to be waiting a long time to experience a fullness that could kill about 93% of Africa (from food shock).

Unfortunately, just like the other long-lined LA institution (Pink’s Hot Dog’s)…it really ain’t worth it.

*The definition of Vomitorium is not actually a room in which to evacuate the stomach to make room for more eatin’ but the name for the entrance to your typical Roman Amphitheater.

CUBE

  • November 17, 2011 9:39 am

Fall Crunch Salad

In preparation for the countless Israel blog posts to follow, I will make Cube short and sweet.

Like me.

Cube is a casual, gourmet market and cafe most well known for also selling fresh pasta to take home.

Soups, salads and cheese/salumi platters were simple and tasty. Duck Confit ravioli: Disappointing.

All right. I’m off to figure out how many different ways I can describe hummus…

Duck Confit Ravioli

Kabocha Squash Bisque w/ Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

INK SACK

  • November 15, 2011 9:30 pm

I went to Ink Sack days before my trip to Israel because I figured if I died in a plane crash, terrorist attack or from dysentery (my three biggest travel death concerns) I at least wanted my last meal to be a good sandwich.

Problem is Ink Sack is too Fancy Pants McGee to work. Sandwiches shouldn’t be this posh.

I did my research and choose the two sandwiches with the vaguest negative reviews.

The Maple-Pepper Turkey Melt and the Jose Andres (Spanish Godfather).

(News Flash!: I’m watching the TV Show “Raising Hope” right now and the guy that played MacGuyver who’s guest starring has gotten chunky! Fat Face Alert.)

Both sandwiches were small (about as small as the cafe), about 4 inches each. However, they were super rich. Too rich. Too…Fancy Pants McGee.

Besides the name Ink Sack being about as appetizing as looking at MacGuyver’s fat face while eating one of these sandwiches, the concept here just doesn’t work.

Didn’t I just say that? Stop making me repeat myself, people!

There’s a reason Subway is the most popular fast food chain in the US (yes, beating McDonald’s). People want a mediocre, traditional sandwich.

They don’t want a tiny, soggy loaf filled with spicy raw tuna or corned beef tongue.

MacGuyver appears to have a larger role in this episode than I thought. Time to finish this blog and watch the rest of this.

Poor MacGuyver. Geez, I feel like an old man.

Like finding out Debbie Gibson had her first grandchild.

BUN BOY GOES ON VACAY!

  • November 2, 2011 6:45 am

Hey everyone!

Going to be away for a while (some secret, far off, exotic destination. The usual) but look forward to my next blog on November 15th!

If you need a Bun Boy fix in the meantime (completely understandable), go read some of my old blogs. I’ve got about a million of them and they’re getting a little lonely and would greatly appreciate a revisit.

Happy Trails From Bun Boy!

KyoChon

  • November 1, 2011 7:01 pm

Sal Sal Chicken Strips

Who knew the best chicken strips on the planet could be found at a Korean fast food chain?

Sure, if you look them up on Yelp, you’ll see everybody yick-yackin’ about the famous wings.

I don’t really like wings, (gristle, tendons, 500 napkins) so I just said no.

These strips are EXCELLENT! They’re uber crispy, coated in fun rice balls which maintain their crunch even after being microwaved at a later date (30 minutes later when my stomach has rested).

They’re all white meat and they taste like egg rolls.

The parking really sucks, be prepared to valet your car….valet just for fried chicken. It all seems so silly.

But it’s worth it, people!