The brilliance of burgers

In the world of food, there is much that is up for debate. Coke or Pepsi. Thin-crust or deep-dish. Cake or Pie. But if there is one thing that everyone can agree on; the humble hamburger is one of the most awesome works of food ever.

In fact, there isn’t really much I can say that can push the needle for people liking burgers more. Folks already love them. Fancy restaurants are adding them to menus. Fast food chains survive on them. Backyard cookouts depend on them. The love for burgers is universal and I think it’s cool that there is one food that everyone adores. In fact, hamburgers are so dependable and beloved it’s one of foods that we know we can always turn to.

But not on to rest on my laurels, I thought it would be fun to share some of the really cool things about burgers that I’ve read and discovered in the past few weeks. Below are three cool storylines pertaining to the world of burgers:

  • The tasty goods from the Builtburger.com dudes

We had the pleasure of going to a Burger BBQ party over the weekend where the guys from Builtburger introduced us to their burgers. Of course, we were excited. Having the opportunity to try all of their flavors and be around other food friends is always great. And the burgers didn’t disappoint. I grabbed them with zeal and looked forward to each batch.

Builtburger is a local company that specializes in artisan beef patties. It was started by a couple of friends who were on a mission to create the best burgers. Cool. They have 10 different flavors and all use high quality beef, pork, or poultry. Couple this with excellent ingredients and you have one tasty burger. What I really liked was that most of the burgers can stand on their own without any fancy toppings. Remember, you are eating a burger not having a salad (a takeaway from Alton Brown).

The Builtburger crew does have a tasty product and I look forward to ordering some of the burgers, but bear in mind, they aren’t cheap, but I do look forward to indulging with friends this summer. My favorite flavors? The Trailblazer Melt (their version of a patty melt) and the Stellar Short Rib get blue ribbons from my palate.

  • The relentless quest for the world’s perfect burger

Last week, the venerable New York Times called ‘The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts‘, where they discussed the elements of what made a burger reach perfection status. As the food nerd that I am, this was one of the most compelling articles that I read all week. You should read it too.

In the article they spent time talking about what makes the ideal burger. Fancy pants chefs like Hubert Keller, Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay, and our own Tamara Murphy weighed in on what makes a good burger. And what’s said is pretty straightforward and not too intensive

There were a lot of really cool takeaways as the article was positioned on the best practices for home cooks making their own. I can’t wait to try out some; and think I’ll start with some high quality chuck ground by a local butcher. In Seattle, I like to go to the good folks at Queen Anne’s A&J Meats or Bob’s Quality Meats in Columbia City. Although, my friend Becky, the Chef Reinvented, has some beef that has been calling my name.

  • The Year of the Burger

The funny thing about calling it the Year of the Burger is that it’s on its second year. In 2008, the good people at Serious Eats crowned the burger as their “Dish of the Year“. In fact, the Serious Eats team loves burgers so much they started a blog dedicated to the execution of burgers, buns and toppings, titled ‘A Hamburger Today‘.

Yet, here we are in 2009 and ABC News spent a bit of time and a few words announcing that this could be the Year of the Burger. And their reasoning is sound. The burger is definitely comfort food and most people can identify with it. People know what to expect with a burger, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t be wowed. That’s why I think a lot of restaurants like having it on their menu. Crafting a burger in their image is a challenge that lots of chefs like to take on, and the consumer is more than happy to go along for the ride.

I love hamburgers. I love the Deluxe from Dick’s Drive-In. I go nuts for the Bacon Burger at Red Mill. And I will always bow down to any burgers that Scott and Allegra have in store at Lunchbox Laboratory. In Seattle, we have all sorts of great options for burgers. In fact, this opened up a heated debate recently when Seattle Metropolitan magazine came out with their ‘Best Burgers’ list. But it’s not just Seattle, pretty much every city in our great country can say they have the best burger in town. And this is why the humble burger is so awesome.

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