A burger-ing we will go …
With our time in Yorba Linda running out, Carolyn was really keen for us (well, Len anyhow) to try a Californian icon, In-N-Out Burger. It’s consistently, she said, high on tourists’ to do lists. Not being a huge fast-food-chain fan, I was a bit sceptical but you never ignore the advice of a local do you? And so, we set off late morning with a plan of activity, starting with lunch at In-N-Out Burger.
Carolyn decided on one near her school, because it would work with a scenic route she’d worked out – but, you know that saying about best laid plans! We got there to find the parking lot strangely empty, except for several uniform-clad workers on patrol. Turns out they had “a maintenance issue” and would be closed for another hour. Hmm, we wondered what this “maintenance issue” might have been a euphemism for, but we were more interested in finding lunch than solving that … so, we headed off, as directed, to the “nearest In-N-Out Burger just 2 miles down the road”. We are sure it was more than 2 miles away, but we found it!
Interesting place. The business started in 1948. We did know of them when we lived here but hadn’t realised their “import”. They have, for example, a very minimal menu – basically three burgers and French fries. (I just had some French fries, taking one, on this occasion, for the team!) The chain is pretty much confined to the American southwest and Pacific coast, and is currently owned by the only grandchild of the founders. Wikipedia says that the business has
resisted franchising its operations or going public; one reason is the prospect of quality or customer consistency being compromised by excessively rapid business growth. The company’s business practices have been noted for employee-centered personnel policies. For example, In-N-Out is one of the few fast food chains in the United States to pay its employees more than state and federally mandated minimum wage guidelines […] and has been rated as one of the top fast food restaurants in several customer satisfaction surveys.
It is also famous for its “secret” menus – or, more accurately, its secret special ways of ordering its minimal menu. Carolyn clued Len up on this, telling him he needed to order his burger “animal style”. (Check the Wikipedia link if you’re interested!) Another “secret” order is “protein-style”, but we hear there are many more (if you are in the know). We came across something else new here too – ordering your French Fries “well-done”!
Anyhow, Len had his In-N-Out Burger and agreed that it was good, including a decent bun by comparison with most fast-food chains. We also liked the bright, clean, unfussy look – the establishment, I mean, not the burger!
Wow, I’ve just written more on a fast-food chain than on just about anything else this trip – and I didn’t even eat the burger! Time to move on.
Carolyn drove us around the Fullerton (another city in Orange County) area, a place we didn’t know so well when we lived here. She pointed out the historic Kraemer House and Fox Theatre, and Downtown Fullerton, then drove us to a place none of us had been to before, the …
Muckenthaler Cultural Centre
The original Spanish-style house in which the centre is now housed, was, says its website, commissioned at an original cost of $35,000, by Walter and Adella Muckenthaler. It was completed in 1924, after a bronze balustrade and stained glass window purchased from a monastery in Italy had arrived. It had 18 rooms, and is on 8.5-acres, the family farming oranges, almonds and avocados (if I remember correctly). It was donated to the city in 1965 by Walter and Adella’s son Harold Muckenthaler to be used as a cultural center. This means, among other things, that it has exhibitions in its gallery rooms, holds performances and a wide range of cultural events and festivals, and can also be hired for weddings. I wish now that I’d photographed the cute little amphitheatre (built after it was donated to the city), and that we’d known about the Thursday evening concerts before it was too late. Carolyn is now on the mailing list!
We all like visiting old homes, and since Len and I rarely see old Spanish-style homes, we were particularly interested in this (even though we could only see the bottom floor). I also enjoyed the current exhibition which was titled “Prayers, Protection and Resistance” and described thus:
When faced with overwhelming circumstances beyond their control, artists respond with unexpected and powerful life-affirming artwork. Hundreds of artists consider the world’s troubles on a personal scale in this invitational group exhibition
I took just two photos for the blog but the works covered a wide range of ideas and tones/emotions – including the expected dystopian, more straightforward commentaries, and the odd hopeful one.
More eating …
As dinner was going to be late that night, we decided to tick off another place on Carolyn’s OC-bucket-list, Creamistry, for an afternoon snack. This business makes ice-cream on the spot to individual order: choose your base (which included two dairy-free options), flavour and topping/s. I chose coconut milk base with espresso flavour and almond topping. It was, I must say, pretty yum, not to mention a huge treat. However, it was very big, so I was grateful that Carolyn had not ordered and could share mine (albeit I think she preferred Len’s – they have similar tastes/sweet tooths!).
[After an afternoon rest, and while waiting for dinner time, we caught up on more political satire, including, this time, Samantha Bee. She was good, with one line being that “In twenty years we’ll be taking our grandkids to the Museum of What the F*** Happened to America”. As people who like museums, this hit the spot rather too close to home.]
Dinner was our thankyou treat to Carolyn and the girls, and we chose Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in Old Towne Orange. We’d booked for 8pm but the place was so busy when we got there that we weren’t seated until 8.20pm. Gabbi’s is, I’d say, modern (or, as Emily would say, hipster) Mexican and I think we all enjoyed our food. We started with three small plates to share, which were, if I’ve identified them correctly from the menu, taquitos de pato (duck confit, mole coloradito, cabbage, avocado); taquitos con salsa verde (chicken, crema, queso fresco, roasted tomatillo sauce, guacamole, cabbage, radish); and nixtamal quesadillas (achiote glazed chicken, guacamole, jicama salad). (The first two are visible in the photo.) We all chose different main courses, with mine being a delicious, spicy striped bass (which had no food issues for me to avoid), and Len’s a very tender skirt steak. As you can see in the photos, three of us also started off with traditional margaritas.
We were, however, disappointed when dessert time came around. Gabbi’s is famous for its dessert, but instead of the usual 5 options, they only had one (and only two servings left at that). They mollified us a little by providing these free-of charge, which allowed the other four in the party to at least taste one of Gabbi’s desserts, “tres leches” being well off the radar for me.
Disappointment aside, however, it was a tasty meal overall and we had (another) fun evening out with Carolyn, Emily and Hana.
Icecream from “scratch”, à la Masterchef, with liquid Nitrogen…
Ordering at “In-n-Out” Burger. Suss out the “magic words”, “A_i_a_ _t_l_”.
And, note that fries “well done” is an option!!