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.

img_6512

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.

img_6511

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.

So I like veggie burgers

As much as I love a big ol’, juicy, meaty burger (and you should I know I love it a lot), I’m also and have been since way before this whole vegan challenge of mine a big fan of veggie burgers. I don’t equate one with the other but love them both separately. Sometimes I want a good burger, and sometimes I just want a solid veggie burger. That’s just how it is.

I’ve had some made from tofu, great ones out of black beans,  and others with actual chopped up veggies, but never until a few days ago, when I had the forbidden rice burger at Ni Japanese Delicacies in the Essex Street Market, had I eaten one made out of rice.

write something here

The tasty rice burger at Ni Japanese Delicacies 

Ni is a small place, really a tiny, walk up counter of vegan and vegetarian Japanese inspired bites and drinks. Their veggie burger, which usually comes on a brioche but can be replaced with vegan sprouted bread, has a “patty” of Asian black rice, maitake mushrooms, carrots, and kale and comes topped with baby arugula, pickled sweet peppers and vegan herb mayo.

write something here

No meat here, fake or otherwise.

This rice burger I’m sure without a doubt is better on the brioche, but even on the vegan-friendly sprouted bread, it was pretty good. The problem with a lot of veggie burgers is that they end up dry or crumbly, but Ni’s rice wasn’t either of those. It was soft and just moist enough to not be a dry ball of rice, and had a good, earthy delicious flavor. The pickled sweet peppers and the baby arugula added a little variety in the way of texture and veggie flavors.

All around meatless deliciousness, and something I’ll definitely be coming back to when I just want a veggie burger.

Going Green

Since it opened a couple of years ago, I had always been interested in Green Gables Cafe in Coral Gables, the part of Miami where I grew up and where my parents still live. But it wasn’t until last year during the Fourth of July weekend that I spent in Miami, that I realized I really wanted to eat there. My friend Cristi, whose family owns and operates the small restaurant, made a batch of brownies and brought them to a friend’s pool party and BBQ.

They were dark and chcolatey, moist and wonderfully crumbly and scrumptious.

“Oh my God, Cristi!” I mumbled, my cheeks full of soft, chewy brownie. “These are incredible!”

“Thanks, they’re vegan, black bean brownies.”

If my mouth wasn’t chock full of brownie, I’m sure my jaw would have dropped.

So a couple of weeks ago when I was in Miami, I put eating at Green Gables on my to do list, right under seeing my mom and hanging out with my best friend.

Unfortunately, this is a terrible picture of a fantastic burger. I was too distracted by its tastiness to focus on photography

 Flaneur and I went there on our last afternoon in Miami, and the only thing I regret was not having gone sooner. Cristi was there, since she now works in the kitchen, helping her mom and sister turn out more awesome vegan and vegetarian friendly eats like those black bean brownies I had last summer.

With the brownies clearly still on my mind, I ordered the organic black bean veggie burger, which came on a soft, doughy multi-grain bun. Topped with organic tomatoes and lettuce, a melted layer of gooey mozzarella, and a smooth roasted garlic aioli sauce, this burger was hands down, the most delicious non-meat burger I’ve ever eaten.  It didn’t taste like wannabe meat, and it didn’t taste like a squeaky tofu creation. Instead it was slightly nutty in flavor, with a moist softness to it and a delicious earthiness. It wasn’t slider-sized but given the opportunity, I could have eaten three of them and pretended they were minis.

Pulled chicken sandwich. In a word: awesome.

Flaneur also went with a sandwich, opting for the pulled organic chicken. On the menu it’s normally pulled turkey but they were out of it that day so it was subbed with chicken. Stuffed in a soft baguette were juicy, tender chunks of chicken and soft, buttery hunks of avocado, all drizzled with a zesty cilantro aioli  and paired with fresh romaine lettuce. The whole thing was fresh and clean tasting, with flavorful ingredients and a healthy, guilt free deliciousness.

I don’t doubt that if for some unfortunate reason I still lived at home in Coral Gables, I’d have a good amount of my weekday lunches at Green Gables Cafe. Living at home with my parents would be terrible but I would seek comfort in the warm deliciousness of organic black bean veggie burgers. And that would be wonderful.

Green Gables Cafe on Urbanspoon