A burger for these impossible times

Now that the seemingly impossible’s actually happened, I need to take a break from all the doom and gloom and talk about something else for just a minute. Food’s always been a respite for me, and writing a form of therapy and distraction, so indulge me, will you?

Last week, when the world—while troubled and strange— didn’t seem quite as broken as it does now, I got around to eating something I’d been wanting since earlier this summer when it made its New York debut: an Impossible Burger.

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Oh, that flag.

Made by the creative wizards and scientists at Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods, their burger’s only available at three restaurants in California (two in San Fran and one in LA) and now at  Momofuku Nishi in Chelsea, where I had it.

The crazy thing about this burger, the impossible thing, is that even though it’s made entirely of all natural ingredients and not a single animal, it also looks and tastes like a regular ol’ hamburger made of ground beef. It has the same consistency, the same juiciness when you bite into it, the same reddish-pink inside and the same charring on the outside.

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Would you believe it? Not real meat!

Now, everyone who knows me knows I eat meat and burgers are some of my favorite, but I also love veggie burgers. To me though, they’re two different things. Until now.

Nishi’s burger is served on a soft potato roll and dressed like a pretty standard burger: lettuce, tomato, pickles, a smear of special sauce, and in my case, a slice of American cheese. A heap of crispy shoestring fries comes along next to it.

While I don’t think it’s the best burger out there, I do think it’s the closest thing to a beef burger that I’ve ever tasted in the world of veggie burgers. If I was trying to be vegetarian I would eat these all the time. Even as a meat eater, I’d definitely eat this again.

The fact that it uses way less natural resources like gas, water and land to create it, and also has  none of the crap like antibiotics and hormones that so much of our beef unfortunately has, makes it all the better.

In these impossible times, something enjoyable and less harmful to the world around it sounds pretty freakin’ good to me.

Fat me and The Fat Elvis

Sometimes, when I’m bad, I’m really bad. And when a trusted source recommended I try The Fat Elvis burger at Atlanta’s Vortex Bar and Grill a towering behemoth of a burger topped with peanut butter, bacon and fried bananas I knew it was time to throw caution to the wind and be very freakin’ bad.

The Fat Elvis

The Fat Elvis

The Fat Elvis, ever so appropriately named after the King in his later years when he was known to wolf down peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches, is as serious as the heart attack it’ll cause you if you eat too many in one lifetime. It’s a massive beast, definitely not for the faint of heart and certainly not for anyone with a delicate stomach. My sister seemed mildly disgusted by the idea and and when it showed up at our table, on a plate filled with tater tots (Cause what, was I supposed to get a salad to go with it?) she just looked appalled.

You have to bring your A game when ordering this bad boy.

You have to bring your A game when ordering this bad boy.

Sandwiched between two doughy, soft buns was a big ol’ hunk, a hunk of juicy beef (See what I did there?) cooked to just the most perfect tender pinkness, smeared thick with a melty, creamy peanut butter, deliciously soft, sweet fried bananas, and everyone’s favorite: thick, wavy, glistening strips of bacon. Clearly, there was no neat, civilized way to eat this thing. It oozed peanut butter out one end and all sorts of juices out the other. It was messy and obscene, a crazy mix of flavors and textures, and absolutely delicious in all the worst ways.

Will the Fat Elvis be filed under sensible meals or healthy living options? Nope, not ever. But like so many things that are bad for you, it was damn good.

Side note: in case you were wondering, my sister ordered a burger topped with a heap of blue cheese spread, which isn’t something I’m totally crazy about so no, there are no pictures. My attention was completely devoted to The Fat Elvis. Nothing else.

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It’s always a good time for burgers

You know how you have to be in a certain mood to eat sushi? Or a hearty plate of meatloaf? Or a tuna wrap from the deli? (Yes, I do sometimes actually want one of those, the kind that are a little goopy and squishy. Don’t judge me.)

Well, burgers, in my opinion, unlike all of those other foods and so many others, are something I could eat any ol’ time, no matter the weather, time of day, season, or physical state I’m in. (Hungover? Yes. Sick with a cold? Yes. Strong like bull? Two please.)

So when I was in Miami looking for a place to eat dinner with my mom, sister and boyfriend, and my best friend (who was also joining us) suggested LoKal, a new Coconut Grove burger joint and craft beer watering hole, I was all about it. Burgers aaaaand beer? DONE.

Now I can add reptile to my list of meats eaten after these tasty fried alligator strips

 To start things off right, and maybe in honor of my being back in the Sunshine State, we ordered a plate of something quintessentially Floridian that I had actually never eaten: alligator. Fat, juicy strips of tender white alligator meat were battered, fried and seasoned with Old Bay, and served with a tangy marinara sauce and spicy mayo. So did they taste like chicken? Yea, kind of. Were they good? Absolutely.

She may not be the prettiest burger, but the Frita makes up for it in pure guava-cheesey-bacon goodness!

The burgers all sounded good, if not completely over the top, with toppings like chili, tons of bacon, blue cheese and one that even came served on a doughnut. I’m a bit of an over-the-top eater myself, so I went with the Frita: a juicy, medium-rare (cause that’s how I roll) patty topped with guava jelly, bacon, crunchy potato sticks, and gruyère. At first I was a little sad because I couldn’t taste the guava, and really that’s what sold me on it, but a couple of bites in I got to it and all was forgiven. The jammy sweetness of the guava, mixed in with the salty crunch of the bacon, the crispy potato bits and the gooey, melted cheese all over that juicy, soft patty made for near perfect deliciousness!  And to make matters even better, LoKal’s patties, ground fresh in-house, are made from free-range, grass fed, hormone free cows, all of which makes me feel much better about the 5 million calories I ingested. Oh and instead of making me choose between regular and sweet potato fries, I was able to do 50/50… at NO ADDITIONAL COST. Can you believe it? All for just $11! In New York, that would’ve been pushing $20.

Key Lime pie, the best dessert to come out of Florida

In keeping with the Florida fat-kid theme, I went with the one thing I absolutelyhaveto have whenever I’m in town, key lime pie. LoKal’s was a huge slice of creamy, cool, zesty lime custard on a crunchy graham cracker crust topped with a fluffy mountain of fresh whipped cream and graham cracker crumbles. It had the all the rights amount of sweet, tart, tangy and creamy that make it one of my favorites. It was the perfect way to end a really affordable, easy and just damn-good burger outing. And really, I’m always in the mood for one of those.

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Celebratory ridiculousness

The original DB burger

Warning: what you’re about to read, what I’m about to describe, what I ate for dinner at DB Bistro Moderne one night last week, was and still is even a week later, a little ridiculous. And by a little I actually mean really, really ridiculous. It was over the top, gluttonous, uber rich, and decadent in a way I never knew a burger could be.

To celebrate the new job I started this week (note: I’m always looking for a reason to eat out and this one seemed pretty legit) the boy and I went out for dinner at DB Bistro, where I will openly admit I wanted to go only so I could order the ridiculous $32 Original DB Burger. What the hell’s in a $32 burger you ask? Brace yourself. In between doughy, soft parmesan buns was a fat sirloin burger stuffed with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffle.

That’s right. Short ribs, foie gras and truffles. Inside of a burger. How absurd is that? Pretty damn absurd. But you know what? It was delicious. Juicy, messy, almost obscene, but so good.

A new job and a career advancement called for a proper celebration. I say work hard, eat hard. (Ok, so I don’t actually say that but you get where I’m going with it.)

In search of burgers and happiness

Cheddar cheeseburger and sweet potato fries

For me, the pursuit of the perfect hamburger is a lot like the pursuit of happiness. It’s a constant work in progress.  On any given day I might think I’ve found one or both, happiness and/or the perfect burger, but the search is never over. Just because you’ve found what makes you happy—maybe the love of your life or a great apartment or a dream job—doesn’t mean you stop, right?

Well same goes with burgers. Especially in New York. Why stop looking just because you’ve found the softest bun or the juiciest patty or the crispiest fries to complement your burger (because a burger with no fries just isn’t complete)? The burger with the tangiest pickles or the thickest melted cheese might still be waiting to be found. Continue reading

Only in America

Trifecta of tastiness

My boyfriend just came back from spending two weeks in the motherland (Italy) and I wanted to make sure that his return to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave was great so he felt happy to be back. And nothing says Welcome-to-America like a juicy hamburger topped with bacon and smothered in peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. On a burger. With bacon. Continue reading

Life, liberty and the pursuit of hamburgers

Say what you will about America, but it really is a great country. After two years in Italy, a land overrun by ass-backwards behavior, I now have an empowered sense of patriotism for the good ol’ U.S. of A. A renewed appreciation for its ideals of freedom, justice and opportunity. But most of all, a sincere gratitude for one of its best attributes: the hamburger.

Got a little squished in transit, but still deeee-lish!

Now, that’s not to say you can’t find good burgers abroad. You can. They’re just better (and more prevalent) in the U.S. So when a weekend trip took me, the bf and a friend to our nation’s capital, it only seemed right to eat burgers while we were there.

Washington, D.C. has lots to offer: museums, monuments and Good Stuff Eatery. Vanessa, the friend who came with me this weekend, was the one who told me about Good Stuff, and well, I basically owe her a kidney for it. Started by Chef Spike from Season 4 of Top Chef, Good Stuff is a casual place with an easy menu: burgers, fries and shakes, with a couple variations on these standard American good eats.

A burger with no fries is just wrong.

So in honor of our being in the capital, I went for a burger named after its most famous inhabitant: Obama.  A juicy beef patty topped with applewood bacon, red onion marmalade, horseradish mayo and Roquefort cheese, all squished between two soft, buttery buns. The President might not have won everyone over, but the Prez Obama Burger? A landslide victory.

But no burger-eating experience would be complete without fries so we split an order of Sunny’s handcut fries. These were good- perfectly salted and just a bit soft, how I like them- but what made them great was definitely the mayo bar: chipotle, siracha, mango and Old Bay mayos to choose from, in addition to the standard ketchup, mayo and mustard. Naturally, I got all of them.

This isn't just good... it's genius.

And last, but absolutely not least, was my favorite part of the meal: the toasted marshmallow milkshake. Thick and creamy, with a couple slightly browned marshmallows sitting on top, this shake was concentrated, glorious gluttony at its finest.

And in my book, that is always good stuff.

(Someone cue the Star Spangled Banner…)