chicken

Knott’s Berry Farm is know for many things. It really was a farm back in the day — it’s not just a name. Today, kids know it for Snoopy, teens seek thrills on their roller coasters, and adults and old folks know Knott’s for their jams. For me, I am all about the food. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner is a popular spot for people who want fried chicken. The country style interior and waitresses in olden day attire gives Mrs. Knott’s Chicken a certain charm you can’t get anywhere else. Once you enter (possibly after waiting an hour), you are taken back to when Knott’s Berry Farm first opened. It wasn’t about roller coasters, Snoopy, or fun in the sun all access passes. It was all about food.

I may come here for one thing, and one thing only — their home made biscuits! They are tiny little biscuits wrapped in a cloth napkin. They come on a plate by about 10 to 12 at a time. They are warm and fluffy, right out of the oven. I usually put boysenberry jam on it, and is probably the only time I get to eat that delicious jam. I usually over do it and eat about 3 before the the main course. I can eat these with jam all day, and I would be full and satisfied. If you don’t come here for their chicken, you definitely need to come here for the biscuits.

I always get the fried chicken. Why wouldn’t I? They made their mark on this stuff — I have to order it. I got mine with corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cabbage with ham. Their chicken is light and the batter isn’t too overwhelming. The seasoning isn’t too overdone either and they llet the juicy chicken shine on its own. The sides were nothing special, though it was a good accompaniment to the chicken. If their fried chicken was a lot more crispy, it would probably be the best fried chicken ever.

With the chicken dinner, you get a choice of chicken noodle soup or rhubarb. At the time, I didn’t know what rhubarb was, so I went with the chicken noodle. Though not a fan of chicken noodle soup, this was probably the best I ever had. Thicker than normal, the chicken broth was hearty and delicious. I wouldn’t mind having a bowl of this when I’m sick, or any regular day for that matter. This was thick and creamy like a chowder more than just soup. Maybe that is why I liked it so much.

At the end, I treated myself to a huge slice of boysenberry pie. Boysenberry is a cross between a blackberry, loganberry, and raspberry. Walter Knott’s, owner of Knott’s Berry Farm, and his partner were responsible for cultivating and growing the boysenberry. Without the help of Walter Knotts and coining the name boysenberry, none of these roller coasters and Snoopy might not even exist today. More importantly, the boysenberry wouldn’t have existed, and the jam, and the pie, all of it might not have been around. That is one important berry. The berry is tart like raspberry but sweet like a blackberry. The pie is warm and the boysenberry filling has a perfect tart and sweet balance. A perfect ending to a great country style meal.

Knott’s Berry Farm is special in that everything associated with it has no credit to food, but food deserves all the credit. The restaurant and pie business grew to Knott’s Berry Farm, and it is great to see that food is the driving force for a business. It is a piece of history that I am happy to take part in, though it is through the consumption of fried chicken. Others may see Knott’s Berry Farm as a theme park, but all I see is pies, biscuits, jam, and fried chicken.

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Clue number 1, Chicken. Clue number 2, purple turnips. Clue number 3, and this is the kicker, garlic sauce and hummus. By now, if Zankou Chicken isn’t alarming in your mind, you probably haven’t had it before. Heck, did you even read the title? Zankou Chicken is as Middle Eastern as can be. It all started in Beirut, Lebanon in 1962 by the Iskenderian family. In 1984, the family having moved to Los Angeles, opened their first Zankou Chicken in Hollywood. They are all about fast food that is all natural and fresh — and in the end of it all, it really isn’t fast food. They have served the diverse city of Beirut, and what better place than to serve a diverse city like Los Angeles. They are known for their Mediterranean Middle Eastern food, and their secret garlic sauce is their signature item besides their chicken. Being healthy and delicious is what they strive for.

Ordering the half chicken, I was excited to eat. As usual, their chicken was perfectly roasted, and eating even the breast meat was tender and juicy. The skin was nicely caramelized on the outside, it was almost as if it was fried. I would split open the pita to a pocket, stuff it with hommus, chicken, lettuce, and garlic sauce. Each bite was an explosion of flavor, especially with the accompanyment of the pickled purple turnips and yellow peppers. What made this pop was their secret garlic sauce. A bit zesty, and white as snow, I can never have enough of that stuff. Would I ever eat at Zankou Chicken without this stuff? Maybe. Their garlic sauce is what makes Zankou Chicken so special. Put that on anything, and it turns the dish into a flavorful mouthful. the secret recipe is coveted by other, and loved by all.

Shawarma is the preparation of stacked meats on top of each other. Heat is applied to the sides and the meat is cut off as it is cooked on a rotating spit. Their shawerma wrap had slices of marinated USDA steak. Inside hommus, tomatoes, onions and sesame sauce. The meat was much too dry as was the pita bread — hence, the mangled looking wrap. I immediately thought I should have ordered the chicken. The sauces didn’t seem enough because it didn’t help with the dry beef. You are better off ordering the whole chicken and making your own wraps.

At a placed called Zankou Chicken, the chicken is what you should order. Amazingly fresh and clean, the taste of the food is as delicious as can be. The food doesn’t try anything spectacular or over the top. The simplicity of everything just shines. Fresh ingredients and classic recipes make Zankou Chicken one of my favorite casual eateries. Eating here, I am always taken for a trip to Lebanon and the Middle East.

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Chocolate and chocolate. Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. Chocolate. Everyone loves this stuff. Girls devour it after breakups. Guys say they don’t like chocolate, but secretly love this stuff. I am sure chocolate has some kind of chemical that makes us happy. That is we love it so much. Max Brenner, an Israeli chocolate shop, uses the powers of chocolate to entice their customers. From hot chocolates, chocolate pops, and monstrous chocolate chip cookies, chocolate is definaltey the name of the game at this restaurant. Upon ordering off of the dinner menu, my eyes were wide open for the dessert.

I wanted to try the mac and cheese, and I was surprised. Called the Really Cheesy, Really Crunchy Mac and Cheese, the taste was perfect, though not too cheesy. The noodles were al dente, something missed in a lot of mac and cheese dishes. Help from the applewood smoked bacon gave it that salty flavor. Baked in a large skillet, it was enough as a complete meal. The maranara sauce in the flask was interesting, and delicious – It transformed the dish completely, giving the dish a robust flavor profile. As for the diced tomatoes, I did not care much for it. This dish was delicious in itself. Sensing a lack of meat, I ordered some.

Another table ordered the Thai style chicken satay, and I thought it looked good. The chicken were grilled perfectly, and the meat was soft, almost too soft. The barbecue sauce was disappointing — it was like the ones from the dollar store. Fortunately, the hoisin like sauce was more of my liking. The best part of the dish was the That style slaw. Mixed with peanuts, peppers, lettuce, and a sweet sauce, it was a perfect compliment to the chicken.

Now that we had savory out of the way, I was excited about dessert. I decided to order the cold iced chocolate, chocolate pizza with the works, and as an after thought, the chocolate chip cookie.

I was utterly disappointed with the dessert I ordered. The chocolate chunks dessert pizza was lacking in every way. Topped with melted chocolate, hazelnuts, bananas, peanut butter, and roasted marshmallows, it was all a sugary mix. The ingredients would have been perfect if the pizza dough was better. The dough was just a thick piece of dough and didn’t resemble anything pizza dough like. Even frozen microwave pizza had better dough. I imagined and yearned for dough that was like that of a gooey Wetzels Pretzels or a doughnut. I wasn’t getting my chocolate fix at all.

The Pure Chocolate Truffle Granita was chocolate in ice cold liquid form. It was basically dark chocolate truffle blended with ice. At first, I was in remorse after finding out the drink didn’t contain any ice cream, but this turned into a blessing in disguise. The pureness of the chocolate shined with ever sip. A bit on the bitter side, it was a little drinking really good coffee without any creamer. Why ruin a good cup of coffee with creamer? In this case, the ice cream was perfect not in this drink. As for the DRINK ME cup, this was a play on the movie Alice in Wonderland. These whimsical accents made this drink fun and exciting.

The chocolate chip cookie is such a classic, it’s the favorite among the masses. The cookies at Max Brenner are monstrous. Each one costing $5, they are well worth it. Warm and fluffy on the inside, and crispy on the outside, there is no doubt that they were bakes not too long ago. Each bite was perfectly chocolatey and delicious. The chocolate was of the highest quality, and each bite had mostly chocolate. In hind site, these would have been perfect with the iced chocolate drink. How perfect would that have been?

Honestly, this place is all about the dessert. If you plan on eating dinner here, eat elsewhere. Yeah, you will get some good eats, but save this place for a dessert only. Do get their interesting desserts, do skip the dessert pizza, and opt for their chocolate chip cookie. You can get a chocolate over load, and buy some stuff for a chocolate overload for another time. The Israeli know their chocolates. Max Brenner is a true testament to that. Check out their online store here, and maybe you can get a chocolate overload as well.

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Dino’s is one of those spots in Los Angeles that is equally dingy as it is delicious. As weird as that may sound, it is true. The place is near on Pico, near Vermont — not the nicest location, but not the worst either. This one is the original that started it all. Even though it is called Dino’s Chicken and Burgers, everyone gets the chicken. I wanted to get the chicken and try maybe a burrito or burger. I asked the guy, “what else is popular?”. He gave me a puzzled answer which led me to believe that chicken was the way to go. I looked around the kitchen, and all I saw was chicken. No burgers were being made, no burritos were being rolled. It was all chicken.

You get a bed of french fries, half a chicken, cole slaw, and tortillas — it all came out to less than 6 bucks. That was an amazing deal for a delicious meal on the cheap. The chicken had a nice char to it, and the taste was intense at times. It has an orange pigmented marinade that turns your finger orange for days (imagine hot Cheetos fingers). The kicker though, is this sauce they pour over the whole plate, fries and all. It is a sweet, salty, vinegary, and spicy mixture. You can easily have too much and have heart burn right after. This was delicious though — it made the dish pop. The tortillas were soft and were actually tasty — they weren’t just thrown in there. The cole slaw was nice too, a good textural crunch amongst the meaty chicken and fries. All of this for 6 bucks is well worth your money.

So there you have it — delicious cheap eats. Don’t bother going to Dino’s and get a burger or Mexican food, though I am curious as to how it is. Do get the chicken plate, and if you don’t want a bed of fries, you can always substitute it with rice. Dino’s is expanding and you can find a few of them around Los Angeles County. Find one near you, bring it home, or enjoy it there — just be ready for orange fingers.

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It’s not every day that I get the pleasure to eat Middle Eastern food, especially Persian. It was my brother’s birthday, and I wanted to treat my family to something they never really had before. The exotic cuisine was a success to say the least. It was fun eating family style at Raffi’s Place in Glendale. The place was really busy, but waiting for a table wasn’t a long wait. The interior was nice — when I say the interior, I mean the outside eating area. Most of the patrons eat outside, which was adorned with lights and trees. It is a fitting place to celebrate something special, or just to have nice a meal.

Not being a fan of lamb, I was hesitant in ordering the Rack Of Lamb. Surprisingly, it was one of the best meats there. It was a succulent rack of spring lamb marinated and charbroiled with bell pepper and onions. It didn’t have an ounce of dryness and was not gamey. The char on the meat was tasty. Soltani Kabob is a filet mignon and ground beef, skewered and charbroiled. It was a perfect beef for sharing. The Shish Kabob was marinated chunks of filet mignon, skewered and charbroiled with bell pepper and onion. The meat was perfectly cooked to a medium well. It was softer that I thought it would be. The Chicken Barg is their most popular item, and their cheapest option. It is skewered and charbroiled, and being a boneless breast of chicken means it is easy to eat.

The side dishes were perfect with the meat. The hummus was as good as it can be. It was cooked, mashed garbanzo beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. The eggplant was grilled eggplant with tomato sauce and garlic. It was an awesome side with the meat. It was zesty and flavorful. My favorite was the Yogurt And Cucumber with mixed herbs. Just dipping the flat bread with the hummus was delicious — even better with the meat

The flat bread they gave us was tasty and perfect for meat. It may be the Los Angeles in me, or maybe I am eating it right, but I would stuff the flat bread with meat and all the sauces and eat it like a taco. Each bite with the meat, yogurt sauce, and eggplant along with the hummus was amazing. Then I would take a few scoops of the basmati rice. It is so fluffy and delicious. Cutting up some roasted tomatoes and onions, every flavor was just a perfect mix of textures and taste.

We had to end this meat with dessert. We ordered the Chocolate Raspberry Gelato. It had chocolate gelato with a heart of raspberry sorbet all covered with cocoa powder. The cool thing was that the inside of the chocolate gelato was the raspberry sorbet. It was kind of a cool surprise.

Raffi’s Place is a sure thing. Located in Glendale, CA it is close to The Americana and Glendale Galleria. Inside and out, the place is somewhat classy and isn’t too expensive. The staff can be a bit inattentive, especially when it is busy, but the service is very quick when you do get their attention. I guess Middle Eastern food isn’t quite exotic to me. Make your taco fajitas? Meat and rice? That is an everyday kind of food for me. Their flavors are nice and the atmosphere is pleasant. Nothing more that I can ask for.

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