Adam Richman is my kind of guy. For those of you who watch Man V. Food, you know what I mean. He’s funny and personable and loves to eat. Kind of like, well… me! He reminds me a lot of myself, actually… well, other than the fact that he gets paid to travel the country and pig out. I do that on my own, for free.
For some reason that crazy moment from Airplane just popped into my head… the one where the wacky guy pops into frame for a split second and says… “And Leon’s getting larger.”
All right… okay… we should only pig out every once in a while… But we should always savor food… It is so much more than just sustenance a lot of the time. We all need to slow down and enjoy…
(This rule does not apply to late night Taco Bell visits…)
So yes Adam’s getting paid, and many folks will say that Adam Richman is crazy. He doesn’t eat exotic, out there things like pig guts or eye balls the way Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern does, he just takes on these intense food challenges.
His stomach must be made of iron… I would be sick and weigh 500 pounds. But beyond the food challenges is a great look at Americana and the way we eat. I know there is a lot of talk about how obese and unhealthy this country is… and it is all true… The processing and preservatives are enough to stop you cold. But the way he talks about BBQ and takes down a rib is poetic. He’ll wax on about smoke rings and bark and you start to crave the food he is inhaling.
At least for me, he makes me want to go check out a lot of those spots. And I write them down… no matter where in the country they are. Oh yeah, at some point I WILL be at the Varsity in Atlanta!
To know someone is to know what and how they eat.
So… let’s talk BBQ. Please keep in mind that I am in Southern California, not South Carolina or Memphis or even Texas… There BBQ is a religion… here, it is… well… not quite that.
Wood Ranch – They have multiple locations, but this is about the Agoura Hills spot. The restaurant is dark and comfortable and can even be cozy. Definitely pricey… and unfortunately their prices seem to go up all the time. The BBQ is good, not great… The ribs sometimes come out way too charred, so you have to pre-warn them unless you like them blackened… the Peanut Cole Slaw is great, as is their Tri-Tip. And occasionally I’ll get the Grilled Trout, which I like a lot… with the Jack Daniels sauce. The family seems set on WR’s BBQ sauce, which I think may be more a matter of habit… but that’s what they like.
Willy’s – This place is a lot more relaxed and right down the street from Wood Ranch. We discovered it one night when the line at Wood Ranch was too long. I think the meat here is a lot more interesting… more flavor… The pulled pork is great, the ribs seem bigger and meatier than WR and the Tri-Tip can compete as well. Plus, while the prices are pretty close, it may be a little less here. And you can sit outside on their patio.
Tony Roma’s – You know what… I like it. Yes it is a chain and has a cookie cutter feel about it… but the ribs can often be very enjoyable and that Onion Ring Loaf is a life must have!
Famous Dave’s – My new favorite for local BBQ!!!
My buddy Rob has been raving about this place for a while, so we were all excited about them opening a spot in Westlake. They started in Minnesota… Really… a BBQ place from Minnesota??? And they have quite a following. The decor reminds me of a TGIF… but the place is packed with families and friends out for a meal, many sharing the huge multi-person platters. The first day they were opened, they were giving ribs away outside in the parking lot. I liked the sauce a lot, but I must have gotten a bad rib, as I found a lot of something like cartilage in my mouth. Went back a few more times during the week… What, I’m a freebie whore… and the St. Louis ribs kept getting better. Really, top notch… cooked to perfection! Finally we went for dinner with my folks, who were visiting from Jersey. The ribs had a true smoked flavor I don’t think you get anywhere else… Yes, Adam Richman, there was a beautiful smoke ring and the bark was perfectly rubbed and cooked! The Rich and Sassy sauce seems to be my fave, but the Sweet and Zesty and Texas Pit were also nice.
The salmon and chicken were also good, as were the baked beans and the string beans. We did not get the brisket, nor the bread pudding which are supposed to be heavenly… sorry, Rob… but we will definitely be back.
The girls decided they like the ribs better, but the Wood Ranch sauce better. Hmmm, that is quite a dilemma. I told them we’ll smuggle in WR sauce and get the better, St. Louis ribs!
Still many more places in LA to try, but this is a nice place to start. Does anyone have a wet nap???