Burgeruminations « blogging for burgers

Archive for the 'Burgeruminations' Category

A whole new appreciation for food texture.

So it’s been six days since I got gum surgery, and from this side of having 99% of my meals either blended or liquid-based, I can honestly say that texture is a very important element of plate construction.  Meals just aren’t satisfying, mentally or physically, without some bite.  Maybe it’s a carnal instinct that we need to chew our food and attack it like animals, or maybe it’s just the satisfaction of masticating things to a pulp.

I don’t know, but I miss it.

I have been, however, reminded how good sweet potatoes are.  They are awesome.  So it butternut squash soup.  Especially with some Tamarack Farm bacon and shallots.

Jell-O pudding packs are also pretty tasty.

I don’t really have much else to say, but this explains my absence from the blogosphere.  I spoke with Seoul Brother, and hopefully we’ll be getting an update from his end of the world in the near future.  Since his last post on Smokey Saloon, he has confirmed a couple of things.  He had predicted a proliferation of burger joints in Korea, but that has not actually happened.  However, what has happened is that he can buy American and Australian ground beef, which is a vast improvement in the burger-making department.  Cheese continues to elude him.

But there is plenty of fermented skate to go around.

Also, I was watching No Impact Man, and he paid the folks up at Ronnybrook Farms a visit.  Man, I was jealous!  It looks like a good time up there.

Lastly, a fellow food blogger out there has sourced some material from b4b while compiling his list of great burgers from around the globe.  Check it out and let him know what you really think: Matador Night’s List of 50 Burger Joints around the world.

I wish my groceries got frequent flier miles.

So I was at Fairway today, and I decided that I was going to log how many miles my food had traveled to get to my kitchen.  I was just curious.

Below is a quick tally of what I bought and where it came from.  I made some assumptions in the case of the eggplant and the fennel, but still, my food for the next couple of days came from almost 17,000 miles to get to me.  That is pretty crazy.  Not sure what that really says, but I should probably start planting some trees.  And I can’t help the San Marzanos… those are just the best.

Turkey Osso Buco, and a tribute to a legend.

A few years back, before I found out that my entire database of Thanksgiving memories was built on a corporately fragmented hard drive, but after I had built enough of a true database to know that I did not like traditionally roasted turkey, my family started to mix it up on Turkey Day.

One year, it was a Thanksgiving goose (roasted on potatoes that cooked in the goose fat… how could that have been bad?).  Another year, a lavender-smoked duck.  Another year, another piece of fowl.  Something about the Burgerrati family just yearns to rebel against the Thanksgiving tradition.

This year not being an exception, it was decided that this year’s feast would feature a new addition to the mix: the turkey osso buco.  My stepmom found a recipe from Giada (I know, I know), and it couldn’t have been simpler.

It’s a few quick steps: brown the turkey in oil after a light dusting of flour  (the recipe calls for the breast and thigh, but the breast is not necessary at all, just stick with the dark meat, including the drumstick), add the mirepoix, cook until soft, add some white wine and some tomato paste, add the turkey back into the pot and cover with stock.  Pop it into the oven and let it do it’s thang.  Couldn’t be easier.

Oh yeah, and on top is a little gremolata (parsley, lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, salt/pepper).  Yep, be jealous.

The best part is, you don’t even need to do this on Thanksgiving– it’s anytime food.

Now, on to another piece of business.  As you all know, I just got back from a little journey to the left coast.  And, as I always do, I stopped by In-n-Out.  I just can’t resist its charm.  I even took pictures of my lunch, and was all ready to write a great post about the feelings that I-N-O evinces from my very soul.  It was going to get me published in a national publication (again- ZING!).  It would be my master oeuvre.

Imagine my dismay when I see this.  Quelle horreur!  What the hell, Nick?  You took my glory.  You are already a well-known blogger man, give some love to the little guys!  But you know what, I am going to do it anyway.  And, check out that link again, and look at the comments.  Look who started typing I-N-O first.  Yeah, burgerblogger, that’s who.

In any case, I got to experience the joy that is In-n-Out when I was back home.  While I was in high school, a location opened about a quarter-mile from my house.  This was a great addition to the ‘hood, and it allowed me to start experiencing burgers for more than just a patty of ground beef on a bun.  When this location opened, it turned out to be one of the few places on which both my mom and I could agree that we liked the food.  It was one of the few places that my mom would get excited about if I mentioned I wanted to go there.  That memory has stayed with me, and I reserve my In-in-Out trips for when I am staying at her house.

There it is- the lunch of champions.  A glorious 880 calories.


It's turkey time.


It must almost be Thanksgiving.

It seems like all I do these days is go to Kennedy Airport and head off to faraway lands.  Today I’m heading to the left coast, to pay a visit to the burgerrents.  And, of course, it is thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a great holiday.  I mean, when else can you unabashedly stuff your face with rich foods, using the excuse, “well, it is thanksgiving…”?  Never.  Except maybe Christmas, New Year’s, your birthday, groundhog day, every other Monday, and Friday.  Oh, and saturday.

Growing up, Thanksgiving always meant stuffing and canned cranberry jelly.  To this day, I still look forward to eating both of those items on the magical fourth Thursday in November.  Now, as a little kid, I was slightly fooled about the Thanksgiving stuffing that my dad used to make.  My mom, being a foreigner, didn’t really know too much about stuffing, and made it out that my dad’s stuffing was this revelation, a recipe handed down from generation to generation (although, in retrospect, I highly doubt my italian-born great-grandmother knew what Thanksgiving stuffing was).

In any event, the smell of my dad’s stuffing permeated the house on Thanksgiving Day, and the taste was always delightful.  I hoped that some day, I, too, would be able to make this magical delicacy.

A few years ago, I got my chance.  I was asked to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family a couple of family friends.  I started to plan months in advance, thinking about how the timing would work, and how my culinary skills would astound and amaze my guests.  There would be butternut squash soup with toasted pine nuts, pancetta, and a sage cream, mashed potatoes with rosemary and caramelized shallots, chickpea flat bread with rosemary and gorgonzola, turkey, and, of course, my great-great-great-great grandmother’s super-secret recipe for turkey stuffing.

I knew that it had one ingredient: breakfast sausage.  It never really dawned on me that again, a foreigner would not have breakfast sausage.  Especially not Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage.  I guess this was another one of those things that I was fooled about, just like Uncle Ben being my uncle.

That was an honest mistake.  I thought he was just really tanned.

Anyway, I asked my dad if he had the recipe.  Thinking he would say, “yes, son, I can give you the recipe, but promise me you’ll guard it with your life.”  Then, he would pull it out of his wallet: a frayed, worn-to-the-point-of-being-like-cotton recipe card, written in ancient script (aka, cursive).  He would hand it to me with a look of pride, as I, his only son, would inherit the stuffing recipe.

Imagine my dismay when he told me, “Uhh, I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I think the recipe is from the package of Pepperidge Farm stuffing.  I mean, it’s just sausage, celery, and onions.”


PEPPERIDGE FARM?  My entire childhood was based on a recipe that some “test kitchen” at the Campbell’s Company came up with?  Jimmy Dean® Old Fashioned Breakfast sausage™, onions, LUCKY Brand celery, Swanson®-brand chicken stock for moisture, and a bag of Pepperidge Farm®-brand stuffing (Original™ or Herb Seasoned™), baked for about 45 minutes in a Pyrex® a pre-heated 350-degree General Electric Monogram™ oven was not a Burgeretti family recipe?  Are you kidding me?  I was duped by corporate america?

Apparently I had been.

I always knew that the cranberry jelly came from a can, so that wasn’t really a problem for me.  But this whole stuffing thing basically meant that my entire Thanksgiving history was based on a corporate sham.  A rich, meaty, delicious sham, but a sham nonetheless.  What was next?  Was mom’s Easter “alphabet-shaped pasta in a sweet and highly viscous red tomato-sauce-like sauce” also a widely available commercial product?

Couldn’t be.

In other news, here’s a picture of a grass-fed sirloin steak I made last night.  Just thought I’d share.  I’d also like to give a shout-out to chanterelle mushrooms, just because they are awesome.  Especially when they are cooked in a pan that has leftover black truffle bits and butter in it.  I’m just saying, they are delicious.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


A post about Gourmet Magazine because this is a food blog.

So I need to have some sort of opinion.

I feel like I would be remiss not to post about Gourmet magazine being yanked from the shelves after the November issue (I don’t need to link to it because if you’re reading my blog, you probably know about this already).  Working in the marketing business, I have had long standing relationships with a few people who worked at Gourmet, and I have nothing but positive things to say about them all.

That said, my own relationship with the magazine has been a tumultuous one.  That’s a little melodramatic, but blogs revel in the extremes.  I am a dedicated reader of both Gourmet and bon appétit.  I will put that out there first.  Around five years ago, I devoured bon ap like there was no tomorrow.  To be honest, I didn’t like Gourmet.  I thought it was too hoity-toity, with all of its edit about traveling to Italy and eating truffles in Piedmont, and going to Warsaw to eat pierogi.  It was so snobbish.  BA was there, like a trusted advisor, for home chefs, like me.  I wasn’t going anywhere but the D’Agostino around the corner, and if I was feeling frisky, to the Grand Central Market.  I could have carried my passport if I went to Chinatown, just to make it feel authentic, but for all intents and purposes, I was a land-locked, cash-strapped, twenty-something with a tiny kitchen and a moderately strong food imagination.  Replete with recipes, BA was my go-to guide in the culinary world.

Then a funny thing happened.  The economy crashed.  Gourmet lost ad pages.  All of a sudden, Flushing, Queens, was the new “hot spot.”  The ad pages dropped dramatically.  McKinsey knows that.  But anyone who is a dedicated reader could have told you that long before looking at a P&L sheet.  For us readers, this was great.  We were getting: a) more relevant content; b) fewer pesky ads (ssh, don’t tell anyone I said that); and c) a better sense as to what Gourmet had been trying to do from the onset, before it got sucked into the Condé Nast “holier-than-all-other-magazines” way of operating.  I became a dedicated Gourmet reader.  I relished its arrival in my free magazine pile every month.  bon appétit lost me along the way, at some time around its “food porn” redesign.  I had gone Gourmet, and there was no turning back.  Chicken liver is for oafs… I only eat foie gras from the Périgord.

And now, Gourmet is gone.

Personally, I am conflicted about this.  While I will probably head back to BA, groveling with the smell of stale caviar on my breath, I will miss the feeling that I got from reading Gourmet.  That said, in all honesty, I will not read it online, I will not buy cookbooks under the brand name, and I will not watch “Diary of a Foodie.”  Basically, the brand will be dead to me.  And life will go on.  I really liked CHOW magazine, too, and we all know how that ended.

On a more professional note, I am less conflicted.  I am happy to see it go.  I think Condé needs to wake up and smell the roses, and I am glad that McKinsey is making this happen.  The editorial was great, but great editorial doesn’t always pay the bills (unfortunately for the editors).  From an advertiser’s viewpoint, the product was mediocre at best, and the disproportionately high ad pricing resulting in a disproportionately high decline in ad pages proves it.  Sorry, maybe you should have negotiated rates when you had the chance.


Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.

A quick anecdote on the power of word of mouth, aka, I don’t think the kracker is an actual doctor.

A few months back, while pregnant with my soon to come cousin, my aunt decided to go ahead and develop gestational diabetes.  While this in general is a pain in the ass (as she said, it “forces me to eat healthy but without any of the weight loss benefits”), it has had an unexpected effect on the sales of a certain gestational-diabetes-friendly product, Dr. Kracker’s Crackers.

Now, I don’t think that Dr. Kracker really exists, and if he does, he should change his name, because he’s a racist (and he might be related to uncle kracker, but I digress).  In any case, the Dr. Kracker story starts in the German plains, where he was inspired by their flatbreads and blah blah blah.  Net net, the crackers are made with whole grains and are diabetic-friendly.

In any case, my aunt brought these cookies to her own baby shower, much to the delight of all of her guests.  The krackers were instantly a hit.  I had a couple myself, and they are pretty good, but I have not actively sought them out.  The BG, on the other hand, is a different story.  She was so taken aback by these crackers that she began a crusade to find them.  After several failed attempts, she finally found them at a certain branch of the Whole Foods monolith.  She took them home to her apartment, where she co-habitates with her mother.Her mother was so overtaken by Kracker, MD, that she, too, became mildly obsessed with them.  To demonstrate the degree to which she has become entirely infatuated with these crackers—she eats around five different food items.  This is now one of them.  The Kracker has taken over exactly 20% of her normal food intake.  That is a brand manager’s wet dream.

And the chain continues—after finding the crakers, BG writes on my aunt’s facebook wall, “I found the Kracker!” not trying to be racially insensitive, of course.  A random girl responds to the BG, “I don’t even know you, but I love them, too!”

The kracker gets around.

And the chain continues—on a weekend trip to BG’s grandmother’s house, BG’s mom brings a box of the crackers.  Dr. Kracker comes in with his suave Doctor-game and sweeps BG-ma off her feet.  Game, set, match, Kracker.  She is obsessed with them now, too.  I saw her take out no fewer than 10 boxes from her traveling bag last night.  While visiting BG-ma’s house, BG’s aunt comes over and samples the dcotor’s goods.  What happens?  She hates them and spits out her first bite.

Just kidding.  She becomes obsessed, too.  Sensing a theme here?

I can only imagine that this is but one of many similar stories across the US.  Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.  It is a true marketing tool.