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Dear Ronnybrook: You have a rival.

But they are only in LA, so I guess you’re not really going to be competing for share.  And they are not organic or hormone-free, so again, not really competition.

Anyway, while out in LA over the past week, I had the pleasure of trying Broguiere’s milk.  It’s the last old-school, glass-bottled dairy left in the LA area.  It’s located in Montebello, but widely available in various grocery stores all over.

When I first saw the product, I was at the grocery store with burgermom, and I noticed the glass bottles in the dairy aisle.  “Hmm, this looks just like Ronnybrook bottles.”  My mom then told me that they were featured on an episode of California Gold, a local PBS show featuring Huell Howser (an incredibly cheesy show highlighting local events and places in California).  Not really wanting to buy milk or the egg nog, since I was only in town for a couple of days, we passed on it and finished our shopping.

The next night, after watching the Newshour (my mom does not have cable, so TV options are limited), California Gold was on, and was featuring, what do you know, Broguiere’s Dairy!  My mom and I watched the show, and watched them make their famous chocolate milk, which is still hand-made in big steel tanks by adding one part chocolate syrup to 10 parts whole milk.

Huell downed a sip, and made it out to be incredible.  It looked pretty good.  Interest scale: 5.5 out of 10.

Then, being around the holidays, they had an additional featurette on the eggnog.  Again, it is mixed by hand, in the same steel tanks, but contains a decadently golden custard base and additional heavy cream.  Huell again exclaimed his praises, and said it was the best thing out there since the Broguiere’s chocolate milk.  Interest scale: 10 out of 10.

So burgermom and I headed out to the local How’s at about 9 o’clock.  My mom doesn’t keep anything sweet in the house, so this was going to be our dessert after a lovely skirt steak with roasted fingerling potatoes and brussels sprouts.

We got back from the store and got our glasswares ready.  The chocolate milk went first, since the nog would probably kill anything remaining on the palate.  The chocolate milk was very good.  I would still say that the Ronnybrook chocolate milk is a bit better.  You can tell with Broguiere’s that they’re not using the best chocolate syrup out there, so the quality is really buoyed by the freshness of the whole milk they are using.  This didn’t stop my mom from downing about three-fourths of the bottle, but I was not resoundingly singing its praises.

Then came the eggnog.  The nog features Huell’s face on it, and it has done so for about the last nine years, since the story originally came out on California Gold.  The nog has just started hitting the shelves, and I must say that I was glad I was there to experience it.  I am going to go out on a limb and say it is the best eggnog I have ever had.  There, I said it.  It’s thick, it’s rich, it’s heavily spiced, it is Christmas in a glass.  It has that slight heat from the nutmeg and spices that gives it depth, and the copious amounts of egg and heavy cream give it a whole lot of body.  This, I must say, is better than the eggnog produced by Ronnybrook.  It hurts to type it, but it’s the truth.  If you are ever in LA over the holidays, do yourself a huge favor and get some.

But wait, there’s more!

When drinking/eating this eggnog, I thought that it would be tremendous if put into an ice cream maker.  Since Thanksgiving dinner was coming up, what better occasion to try it out.  I took to the interweb to see if others have done it, since I was surely not the first person to have this revelation.  Alas, others had.  Many complained that the finished product was not creamy enough, instead coming together as a spongey, almost stringy product.  A delicious one, but not exactly ice cream like, either.  I decided to then cut it with some lean milk (to balance out what I am guessing is the coagulant-like qualities of the egg yolks giving the nog its golden hue) and some bourbon (to prevent the ice cream from getting too icy).

I mixed everything together in a bowl (one and one-half cup nog, one cup 2% milk, and a couple of tablespoons of bourbon) pulled out the ice cream maker at burgerdad’s house.  At first, the product looked like any other ice cream being freshly made.

Pretty uneventful for a few minutes.  I was hoping that my own thoughtfully prepared mixture would beat LA Chowhounders whose recipes couldn’t cut the custard (what a pun!).  After about ten minutes or so in the maker, though, the signs started pointing towards ice cream land.

Things seemed to be working out alright.  It looked a little icy, possibly from the skim milk addition, but it still seemed to be working out.  A quick taste still confirmed that it had that same richness, and the bourbon didn’t hurt, either.

Here’s how it was another five minutes or so later.  You can see that there there is some slight ice build-up on the cutter, but on the bottom right-hand corner, you can see that some of creaminess was still coming through, and the taste was still great.

At that stage, it was done.  Took it out, and it was still creamy, some of that initial icy-ness was gone.  I was quite pleased with the finished product.  However, after a couple of hours in the freezer, it unfortunately lost some of its initial creaminess and was a bit icy, almost like a blend of a sorbet and an ice cream.  While this was nice accompanied with a fresh slice of pumpkin pie and whipped cream, it was not ideal if served alone.

Not deterred, I am writing down some notes that I had in terms of the mix:

– Continue to cut the eggnog with milk, but use whole milk instead.  While the skim milk was a good idea in theory, in practice it was not really the best.

– Transfer the ice cream out of its maker when done, and put into something that will not remain quite as cold (such as a plastic container).  I think this would have prevented a little bit of the change in consistency.

– Use more bourbon.  Just because.  And maybe for its low freeze point.  But mostly just because.

Yet another reason to get this nog.  If only I had an ice cream maker here in NYC…

Two lovely occurrences in my life.

Two things have entered my life that I’ve just got to write about on b4b.  The first is a treat from abroad, and the second is a product of the good old USA.

1) Speculoos spread.


This stuff is almost as addictive as nutella.  Speculoos are cookies from Belgium, and the spread has been featured at the Wafels and Dinges trucks in NYC.  The cookies are brown sugar based, and they are the type of treat that would normally be served with a side of some proper tea.  BG and I picked some of this up in the Bon Marché when we were in Paris, where this stuff grows on trees and is as plentiful as the wind.

Try it. And if you can find it here in NYC, tell me where!

2) Ronnybrook Farm Eggnog!


At the farmer’s market today, uberchef spotted a little bottle of magic deliciousness.  He knows of my obsession with the nog, and immediately pointed it out to me.  And now, here I am, ready to indulge in my favorite cold-weather treat.  Mixed with a little dark rum… delicious.

Fall has arrived.


The weather has turned slightly cooler, and the air is crisp.  Fall has arrived, and it’s time to enjoy all of the splendor of the fall fruits and vegetables popping up at the farmer’s markets.  Of course the root vegetables are coming out in full force, but all sorts of cabbage and squash are making their appearances, and apple season is officially upon us.

At the market yesterday, I picked up some Ronnybrook yogurts (duh), and a few apples from the Terhune Orchards (jona mac and gala).  Next to the Ronnybrook stand has been the Sun Fed beef people, and they’ve been selling hard.  Uberchef and I went in halfsies on a couple of pounds of ground beef, which is going to be used in the bloggingforburgers ground beef taste test, to be scheduled for later this fall.  Their beef is grass fed and grain finished, depending on if it’s a heifer or a steer, and I’ve got high hopes.

I also picked up some sun gold tomatoes.  I’ve been obsessed with these things lately.  They are the sweetest tomatoes that you will ever find, and they are perfectly firm yet with a tender skin that pops in your mouth like a ripe grape.  I’ve been simply splitting them in half with a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of balsamic.  Maybe a few rough-chopped leaves of basil and you’re golden.  Like a sun gold tomato, yuck yuck.

I also picked up some brussel sprouts from the Rexcroft Farm, since they’ve been staring me in the face for two weeks now.  They are sold fresh onthe branch (is that a branch, is it a root?).  I’m looking forward to roasting these guys with some oil/s/p and calling it a day.  Gotta love the fall.


My other purchases were not very exciting, so not worth getting into details.  I have decided that my second bo bo chicken (the silky chicken) will be finding its way into a braised dish at some point in the near future, so keep an eye out for him.

Uberchef also made a unique purchase o fa scarlett rose apple, drawn mostly by the “PINK FLESH!” sign that was positioned behind the bin of them.  Apparently it tasted like an apple, but it looked crazy!  It’s like a Dr. Suess apple.


Other than that, I’m getting ready to ship off to gay Paris in a couple of weeks.  I’ve already got my scarves and skinny jeans out, so I’m ready to go.

I'll have the chilean sea bass, or maybe just a sandwich.

Uberchef and I hit up the farmer’s market, and fall is in full swing over there!  More to come on that later.

After filling up on some Ronnybrook Lowfat Yogurt drink (which I had never had before, got the honey vanilla flavor, and it was awesome.  And the price was right– free), we were starving.  We were going to hit up a ME standby, lenny’s, but uberchef remembered that a buddy of his had told him about Barros Luco, a new Chilean spot on 52nd street named after the famous south american sandwich and Chilean president.

I had a few doubts before walking in.  First of all, the space is one of those cursed restauarant locations that needs to just become a double-decker McDonald’s if it wants to become something that will last for more than a year.  Let’s remember back to Zip Burger and 99 miles to philly for a moment…

Now that that nightmare is over, let’s live in the now, and take a trip down to South America.  The menu is simple enough– for the sandwiches, which come on freshly baked chilean bread, you can get a traditional barros luco with either steak or chicken, with melted cheese.  If you are feeling adventurous, you can go for something a bit more difficult to pronounce, and get other accoutrements.  Or, you can get vienesas, which are basically chillean hot dogs.  They also have some other sides, including empanadas and string beans, and sweet potato fries.

Uber-c and I decided to split a couple of sandwiches, and nothing else, since we were both coming down from a milkfat high.  We went with a steak chacarero, which has some pounded steak, string beans, pickled peppers, and tomato, and a chicken italiano.  We started out with the steak, taking our first bite in synch so as to avoid any judgment tampering.  We both agreed that the string beans were flavorful, and I thought it was pretty good steak for something that is basically fast food.  I had picked up some fresh basil at the market, and I think that it added a nice herbal touch that was otherwise missing.  Uberchef was missing peppers, so I think that there were some consistency issues across our two halves.  Overall, it was satisfying, but a larger portion would have been appreciated.


We then moved on to the chicken italiano.  At first glance, I didn’t have high hopes for it, and the flavor, or lack thereof, was pretty consistent with my expecations.  The color was kinda blah, the avocado was blah, the tomato was blah.  It didn’t have any kick or anything.  It just tasted like a grilled chicken sandwich from a deli.  In the words of Uberchef, “this tastes like a diet.”

Anyway, check out Barros Luco if you are in the mood for something different.  Just do yourself a favor and stick with the steak.

Barros Luco
52nd st at 2nd ave
3.5 out of 7 cows (isteak alone would have been 4.5)

It's time to go to burger school.

Self-taught burger school that is.  I consider it to be like my GED.  I have no formal training in the art of hamburger making, but I read about them a lot and I enjoy eating them even more.

I was inspired by this post on AHT, which, by the way, is the first post to show up on Google if you google “Minetta Tavern Burger.”  Those guys are good.  Damned good.  I want their SEO agency to work for b4b.

So I decided that I was going to do my own photojournal of me making a burger.  Sounds simple enough, but it’s actually kind of a PITA.  Making sure the lighting is right, getting the camera all set up, prepping, cooking, focusing, pushing the button, making sure my hair looks good even though my head is nowhere near any of the shots, the list goes on forever.

So, without further adieu, I present the bloggingforburgers photojournal, dated September 27th, 2009.  I know, the post is being written on September 29th.  Sue me.

The Day prior: Union Squre

Burgergal and I had to hit up the Union Square Farmer’s market to gather the essential supplies.  And take some pretty pictures.

Oooh, pretty.

Oooh, pretty.
Also pretty

Also pretty

You guessed it-- pretty!
You guessed it– pretty!
Pretty and cool.  They look like little watermelons but taste nothing like a big watermelon.
Pretty and cool. They look like little watermelons but taste nothing like a big watermelon.  They are little cucumbers.  And magic.

Come to think of it, I didn’t take any pictures of the supplies that I needed for the burgers.  This is probably mostly because I didn’t need them from the farmer’s market.  I just wanted to show off how sensitive and artsy I am through the camera lens.  I know what you’re thinking.

Yes, I am perfect.

Oh, but guess who I finally got to see again!!  Yeah, my boys from the Ronnybrook Farm.  Whatup!


Walked over to Ottomanelli to get some fresh ground chuck.  I know that bloggers in the ole blogosphere have mixed thoughts about Ottomanelli, but I am a fan.  They always do right by me when I head over there.  I got about a pound, so that BG and I could rock a couple of half-pound burgers, just like Minetta does.  Yes, I do have a weird obsession and want to do everything just like Minetta Tavern.

BG walked over and picked up a bag of brioche buns for the beefy perfection that I was going to be cooking up on the griddle.

I made two patties, loosely packed, and generously seasoned them with salt and pepper.


Then i threw them on the griddle, which I think is the best place for burgers to be cooked– otherwise, you don’t get an of that crispy exterior and you don’t get any of that sizzlin’ action.  Speaking of…


Minetta uses clarified butter- I used just the regular kind.  It worked pretty well.  I overcooked the burgers a touch, but they were still solid.


Don’t they look fake?

By the way, got wind of a potential trip to Minetta in my future (two weeks, actually).  You KNOW what I’m getting.

Ronnybrook Farm lady, where are you?

It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s farmer’s market day.  Selection at the market has been lacking, since all the rain this summer has really f-ed things up.  Tomatoes are still around, and some root vegetables are starting to pop up here and there.  My favorite ground cherries are still around, but the price is going up like oil after an OPEC conference.

I only picked up a few things, since I am not sure when I’m going to be eating at home this week.  I got a few bianca rosa eggplants, some baby arugula, okra, and some baby garlic.  I don’t usually make okra, so that will be an adventure in the kitchen for me.

Having finished off the stuff I got from Ronnybrook last week, I meandered down towards 1st avenue at the market, expecting to see Ronnybrook there.  BUT THEY WEREN’T.  WTF?  Where are they?  Does anyone know?

Also, if any of y’all want to see the burgerboy in action this weekend, I’ll be at the Seaport farmer’s market at 5.30am, helpeing set up.

Didn’t think so.