Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Great Burger Debate

Burgers are Americana.  We all know that hamburgers didn't originate in the USA but we as a culture have perfected them.  Burgers (as they are now known) have become a source of pride and creativity.  As a nation, we have world class chefs using their vast culinary knowledge to create edible masterpieces between two pieces of bread, toast, rolls, buns, brioche, pretzels, etc.  There are restaurants dedicated to the art of burgers - Hubert Keller, Tom Colliccio. Careers are made on a signature burger ala Spike Mendleson.  Every American has an opinion on the subject and as a culture we are deeply divided.  Is a burger better grilled, fried, pan-seared?  Should it be rare, medium rare, or well done?  Don't even get me started on the ratio of fat to lean meat or what proportion of blended cuts make the very best burger.  If the burger is not beef, is it a burger? Personally, I love lamb or bison burgers but I tend to be on the gameier side of things.  There is a restaurant not far from me called Uneeda Burger - good name - that does a lamb burger with tempura lemons, arugula, and manchego cheese that makes me weak in the knees...great burger. 

To prove my point, I asked my office mates to shoot me an email of what makes a perfect burger and wow are we some passionate folks!  Everyone was VERY specific!  Some gave me childhood burger memories.  Some went the regional fast food route like Flamer's or The Habit in Northern California or the legendary butter burgers from Culver's in the Midwest.  There were burgers of lamb, wild boar, no sirloin, only sirloin, one made an argument for chicken but if it isn't ground and formed into a patty. I am not sure it counts.  There were a lot of opinions on bacon - from the number of appropriate slices to whether it should be in the burger or on top.  There was a great variety of cheeses expressed: blue, cheddar (sharp and mild), American, butterkase (sophisticated group), and manchego. There were more onion fans than I expected and fries were an essential component for many.   As a whole, we were split on vegetables.  My favorite part of reading the emails was the emphatic nature in which the descriptions were written.  I highly encourage to recreate this debate in your own office or book club or wherever your people gather - it is highly entertaining!

Ok - it's your turn now.  What's your perfect burger?

Burger guide ala Tovolo:
Elliot Bay Brewery
A'town Bistro
Uneeda Burger
The Habit

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