In Ancient Egypt, the onion was highly revered as a perennial icon. The people of that time believed that the many layers, rings, and orbicular shape of the onion symbolized eternity and longevity. Part of this was probably due to the face that onions were one of the few foods that did not spoil during colder months. And of all the vegetables to be recreated in various precious metals by Egyptian artisans, the only one ever to be made out of gold was the onion. My own personal love of onions came out about when I was a kid, in the deep fried form of onion rings. Those golden circles of deliciousness were so good (especially at Carl’s Jr.). I also remember dried onions atop the ever-popular green bean casserole. Yum.
Earlier in the week, I visited the Toluca Lake location of The Counter, an international burger chain. Unlike other burger establishments, The Counter lets patrons custom design the sandwich of their dreams. From fried eggs to Gruyere cheese, the multitude of different combinations is astounding. And it’s very easy to do – The Counter provides a check sheet, and patrons mark off what they want on their sandwich. Being able to create a burger to one’s exact specifications is an excellent feng shui experience – you create the ideal burger for the environment of your stomach and taste buds. Some locations offer different toppings than others, including what they call their MP Selections, which differ from location to location. Here’s what I went with:
- Multigrain Bun
- 1/3 Beef Patty, cooked Medium
- Brie Cheese
- Burmuda Red Onion
- Lettuce Blend
- Grilled Onions (Did I mention I love onions?)
- Roasted Green Chiles
- Basil Pesto
The sauce selection is also served on the side, because sometimes burgers can be too dry or too moist. My creation was absolutely ambrosial in its taste, and cooked to perfection. But how is this burger feng shui? Well, first, lets look at the colors, and how they represent the five elements. The brown shades of the meat itself and the multigrain bun are very earthy. The purple of the Burmuda onion is fiery. The grilled onions have a slight metallic sheen to them. The brie would also be metal, because it’s white. Then there is the lettuce, roasted chiles, and basil pesto, all of which symbolize wood in their green hues. Color-wise, water is not represented. However, I had a glass of water with my meal, so I wasn’t completely without the water element.
Let’s look at the yin and yang of the ingredients of the burger. I’ve mentioned yin and yang theory before, which is the belief that opposite components interact within and opposite each other in a complimentary way, and cannot exist without their opposite counterpart. This theory presents itself all the time in life, especially in food. In this sandwich, the thick yin of the burger mingles well with the sharp yang of the Burmuda onion. The yin of the melted brie gently opposes the yang of the basil pesto. These flavorsome combinations are evident in all cuisines. Yin and yang can also be attributed to how food is prepared. My burger is very much yang, as it was fried, the onions grilled, and the chiles roasted – all of which are yang food preparations for yang foods. Also, look at the texture of the ingredients. If the food is soft in consistency, it is yin. But if it is hard or crunchy, than it is more yang. I would say the burger is much more yin in its texture, as everything in the burger except the Burmuda onion was soft. The Burmuda onion wasn’t exactly hard, but it had more of a crispness to it, making it more yang in its structure.
And of course, a burger needs a side dish. Upon my server’s suggestion, I went with the Parmesan Cheese Fries. Fine shreds of Parmesan and garlic aioli completely transform the common potato to Pharaoh status. Although they are fries, I suggest using a fork with them rather than ones hands, as the aioli brings a greasy goodness to the dish. Fresh rosemary adds a wonderful, savory wood element as well, adding a yang touch to a yin food. For my beverage, I selected the Menage a Trois Blend. A fantastic red combination with hints of raspberry and blackberry. I’m not sure on the year, but I think it’s a 2009. The wine accompanied the meal flawlessly.
One thing that I really like about this branch of The Counter are the pictures on the walls. Photographs of a rock band and their instruments hang on the Eastern wall. I love the creative fire energy this brings to the metal-dominated interior. My favorite of the display is pictured above. My server, Pamela, was absolutely golden in her service. Personable and charming, she took care of my every need to ensure that I had a great dining experience, including walking me through the burger checklist. Should you be visiting this specific location, I advise sitting in her section. Parking options abound in Toluca Lake, but I usually find free parking on some of the residential streets – just check the signs for restrictions. On my next journey here, I plan on trying The Counter Cobb, and perhaps the yin energy of a chocolate malt.
The Counter Toluca Lake
10123 Riverside Drive, Suite A, North Hollywood CA 91602
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11:00 – 10:00, Friday – Saturday 11:00 – 11:00