I met fellow hop-head Brian Yaeger at a local beer tasting about a year ago at San Francisco's world-famous Jug Shop because I overheard someone in his group say something about Isla Vista. "Did you say Isla Vista?"
You know how it goes, you're not paying any attention but all of a sudden you pick up a poignant word out of the background noise and your attention follows. There is a real psychological term that describes the phenomenon, the Cocktail Party Effect; it was first coined in 1953 by Colin Cherry. Anyways...
So, Isla Vista is this very-little town, for which I have very-fond memories of, and we both used to live there. We got to talking, mostly about beer, but also his book, Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey. He tells me that he traveled cross-country going to all these great micro-breweries and wrote a book about it.
If I remember correctly, I muttered something like, "You bastard! That's so cool." - We have since sipped a slurry of suds together and I more recently asked him for an interview. Here's what transpired:
Me: Let's get this straight, you wrote a book about beer?
Brian: Yes, I wrote a book and that book is about beer. Mostly.
Kristen Tolle is an old friend of mine and has become, in my words, "The Cupcake Wizard." What follows is a short interview with her which highlights some of the nuances of the recent cupcake craze and some of the "wild and crazy" things she's been doing with them lately...
AhhBeer Can Chicken, a staple food growing up and always a go-to grill option for my father. The logic is sound, prop up the bird so that the breast meat is not scorched by the direct heat of the grill and thus dried out. The beer gently steams the cavity adding a subtle nuance of malted barley and hops; the liquid also adding to the moisture of the meat. Brilliant.
But wait. Is there a plastic liner in my beer can? What's this about Bisphenol-A (BPA)? Is BPA going to kill me? What about the paint on the outside? Is it true that Aluminum is linked to Alzheimer's Disease? Oh my gosh, is my Beer Can Chicken going to kill me?
This debate sprung up recently and I decided to check the facts. Note: I'm not a doctor but I had a cameo as one in a school play. Let's begin:
Is there a plastic liner in my beer can? - Most likely. Beer and soda are reactive to metals and would taste horrible out of a can without a liner of sorts. There is a wonderful article on the History of the Beverage Can by the Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising that states that lined cans hit the market in 1935 - and the industry, basically, never looked back.
This is an image of the plastic liner inside a beverage can that has had the aluminum exposed by dissolving it in acid (photo courtesy of Steve Spangler Science):
What is all this news about BPA? - BPA is a building block of many everyday plastics. Researchers have correlated exposure to BPA to heart disease, diabetes and possibly cancer. Consumer awareness about BPA hit an all time high last April when news detailed baby bottles that contain BPA and Nalgene quickly removed its water bottles from shelves.
Is BPA going to kill me? - Maybe. Not from drinking beer it appears [thank god] but a recent study by the Center for Disease Control fount BPA to be present in 93% of the population in the U.S. That's how everyday this stuff is.
In 1995, the Society of the Plastics Industry, ran a study to quantify the migration of BPA from can coatings. They determined that an average adult consumer would have to consume "about 500 pounds of canned food and beverages every day for an entire lifetime to exceed the safe level of BPA set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)."
Before you sigh a breath of relief, there are some mitigating factors here... Do you trust that the EPA has correctly determined what safe exposures to BPA are? Do you trust the results of a BPA study conducted by the Society of the Plastic Industry? Why hasn't anyone studied the exposure generated by grilling a can of beer that's been stuffed in achicken's rear end?
What about the paint on the outside? - Hmm, I've got nothing for ya - except Little Jimmy used to eat paint chips and we all know how he turned out...
Is it true that Aluminum is linked to Alzheimer's Disease? - "They" don't think so. The link between Aluminum and Alzheimer's was first put forward in 1965 and aluminum has been shown to be present in both plaques and tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. I know people who avoid antiperspirant because they contain aluminum-based compounds.
According to the Alzheimer's Society; however, "The overwhelming medical and scientific opinion is that the findings outlined above do not convincingly demonstrate a causal relationship between aluminum and Alzheimer's disease, and that no useful medical or public health recommendations can be made− at least at present (Massey and Taylor 1989)."
Oh my gosh, is my Beer Can Chicken going to kill me? - I am completely unqualified to answer this, but... I don't think so. For what it's worth, this is my logic: As long as beer is still inside the can, the temperature won't reach much more than 212 degrees F, the boiling point of water.
The boiling point of BPA is about 428 degrees F, so whatever BPA there might be inside the can liner, likely won't cook into the food. If it does, it will stay mostly inside the cavity of the bird and considering how unappetising chicken ribs are, no one is likely going to be eating them.
The paint on the outside follows the same rules as far as I'm concerned. Ensure there is enough liquid in the can and the paint probably won't bake off either.
As far as the aluminum goes, just think about how much plastic and paint there is on that can protecting you from that nasty aluminum...
There is a great debate on Beer Can Chicken going on in the Chowhound forums, here is my favorite comment so far:
I think to many people are a little to panicky about these simple heath issues. You never heard anyone say anything back in the day when we all as kids drank from the garden hose. How about putting marshmallows on a tree branch to roast them? Maybe an insect deficated [sic] on that branch, or maybe it was sprayed with mesquito [sic] spray, who knows? - Jimbosox04
Lastly, if you want to see how beverage cans are manufactured, thank How it's Made by the Discovery Channel for making this video.
A la Rube Goldberg, this rediculous contraption dubbed "Falling Water" was built by Joseph Herscher who, by my guess, must either not be employed, be an idiot savant, not have a girlfriend, or "D" all of the above. In any case, it is really cool to watch.
This is another contraption he built in order to smash a Cadburry Cream Egg called "Cream That Egg." At the end of the video he states that the video was made, "With Support from The World's Most Tolerant Flatmates, 30 Sticks of Hot Glue, and 480 Pints."
Dad's Balboa Bar with Chocolate sprinkles - photo by Dave Koch
4th of July Weekend is sheer mayhem in Newport Beach, CA. There are beach cruisers, boaters, kayakers, strollers, sparklers, and stand-up paddle boarders adding to the general riff-raff of the holiday. Sometimes, your only solace is to sit on a sidewalk bench and dive your senses into the chocolate-dipped goodness they call a Balboa Bar.
Balboa Bars begin as blocks of vanilla ice cream...
If you haven't heard if Improv Everywhere yet, this is a great example of what they do. They are self-described as, "[causing] scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 80 missions involving thousands of undercover agents."
Food Fight takes through some of the more infamous moments of WWII all the way up to the United States' current conflicts in the Middle East. Pretzels gun down matzo with their salt. Hamburgers destroy everything by shooting their pickles. Sushi rolls turn into kamikaze.
It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, but in the end Food Fight shows us how fear for food safety... well, fear for our food's safety. Stefan Nadelman is primarily in the field of motion graphics for film, music videos, and broadcast. Tourist Pictures is located in Portland, Oregon.
We've covered Burger King's controversial ad campaigns in the past (Fast Food Frenzies) like their Whopper Virgins and the Whopper Sacrifice but this time, Burger King deals another foul ad, managing to offend only a billion people, Hindus. In a print ad, they depict the goddess Lakshmi straddling a meat sandwich with a tagline of "Snack is Sacred."
I suppose no one in the Marketing Department knows much about Hinduism - which advocates vegetarianism; and those Hindus who do eat meat, nearly all abstain from beef. The cow is considered a symbol of life and will likely never be successful on a Burger King menu in India.
Earlier this year Burger King released a rare apology over one of its ad campaigns in Spain after it offended the 150+ million Mexican people globally. The ad in question was for its "Texican Whopper" - a cheeseburger with a chile and a spicy mayonnaise.
The ads portray a short-stature Mexican wearing the Mexican flag and a professional wrestling mask co-inhabiting with a tall American cowboy character. At one point in the ad, the American lifts up the Mexican character so that he can place a trophy on a high shelf.
The most notable reaction came from Mexico's ambassador to Spain who wrote a letter to the company. Burger King quickly replied in a statement "Burger King Corporation has made the decision to revise the Texican Whopper advertising creative out of respect for the Mexican culture and its people" (via Reuters.)
Snap, Crackle and Pop are all brothers and they are elves. They were adapted from Kellogg's radio ad and were first illustrated by Vernon Grant in 1933.
Snap is the oldest and is the problem solver, fixing what his two brothers create. Snap sports a chef's hat. Crackle is the fun-loving middle child. Crackle is also the leader of the group and the supposedly, smartest of the three. Crackle wears a red-and-white-striped hat. Pop is the jokester, youngest elf; Pop doesn’t take anything seriously and he wears a band leader's hat.
According to Mental Floss Magazine (2008) "A Second Helping of Cereal Facts" there was a fourth brother, Pow. - "In the 1950s, [Pow] was supposed to represent Rice Krispies’ explosive nutritional value. Sadly, four proved to be one cereal gnome too many, and Pow was given the pink slip."
I grew up on Rice Krispies, usually heaping three or four tablespoons of granulated sugar atop each bowl. I enjoyed the ads as a youngster, but who knows, maybe I would have enjoyed them 33% more had there been Pow...
Interestingly enough, the names Snap, Crackle, and Pop are changed from country to country in order to better fit into each culture, this process is called glocalization. Here are some of them (via the Wiki):
Belgium - Pif! Paf! Pof!
Canadian French - Cric! Crac! Croc!
Denmark - Pif! Paf! Puf!
Finland - Poks! Riks! Raks!
Germany - Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!
Holland - Pif! Paf! Pof!
Italy - Pif! Paf! Pof!
Mexico - Pim! Pum! Pam!
Norway - Piff! Paff! Puff!
South Africa - Knap! Knaetter! Knak!
Sweden - Piff! Paff! Puff!
Switzerland - Piff! Paff! Poff!
United Kingdom - The mascots were portrayed, for a while, as cows instead of gnomes.
The Germans have a word for it: Schadenfreude. It loosely translates as taking pleasure in other people’s misfortune. I experience this gleeful emotion every time I watch a show like the CHOPPING BLOCK, NBC’s reality, restaurant, cooking-game show which seems to be a blend of the Last Restaurant Standing, the Apprentice, and that fiasco with Rocco di Spirito a few years back.
The Chopping Block is back on the air after suddenly being dropped off the schedule a couple of months ago. I guess that was because of low ratings or something, but happily for me it is back on now.
I like the show, even with the over the top monarchial attitude of host Marco Pierre White, noted chef and restaurateur. Chef Pierre White seems to believe he is Machiavelli giving advice to members of the de Medici clan. Chef Pierre White gives basic lectures on the blatantly obvious, but it seems to be brilliantly acute advice for these contestants.
I do not know if it is the hot lights or the cameras that make people on Reality shows lose every ounce of common sense and drains them of the ability to think. There should be a mathematical equation which states: As the value of the prize increases, the contestant’s I.Q. and ability to reason decreases, and this is inversely proportional to their greed.
I am constantly amazed at the dumb things people do on these shows. It is beyond me why people who have never worked in a restaurant would want to open a restaurant, and who are convinced they can operate a successful restaurant. I can cook a mean breakfast, and can cook eggs like the no one on earth, but you do not see me jumping to the conclusion that I have the knowledge base to open a little breakfast nook someplace and make a fortune on my superior ability to roll a French omelet .
No, what I just stated to you was how I am a good cook----eggs mainly. I did not say I knew anything about cooking eggs day in and day out for weeks on end, dealing with suppliers, employees, banks, landlords, acts of god, and the government. No. I said I like to cook eggy things and I am pretty damn good at it — nothing more.
The people on these shows have not taken a true stock of their situation, abilities, and limitations. Most of them would be better situated as caters, private chefs, corporate chefs, and backyard/weekend soirée chefs.
The cowboy world of the chef owner operator is a rarified world reserved for those men and women who leap tall buildings in a single bound, pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and would slap Mike Tyson simply because it would feel good. The kind of people who become successful chef owner operators are more than often neurotic, misanthropic, angst ridden, demon plagued, narcissistic, ego maniacs who are just as likely to end up in prison as in front of a hot pan.
These creatures called chef owner operators are akin to the frontiersmen of days of old. Those brave psycho bastards who did not go out into the wild to discover unknown territory, but went out there to be where no one else was because they could not stand other people.
This is not the caliber of individuals who populate restaurant Reality shows. No, these people/contestants are acting like some guy who just got his girlfriend to pay for dinner and he now thinks he can be a pimp. Well, pimpin' ain’t easy and neither is running a restaurant.
Running a restaurant is war. Running a restaurant is like running the U.S. State Department in high heel Manolo Blahniks and carrying a heavy tray over your head. Running a restaurant is what God plans to do when he retires.
Running a restaurant makes for very good comedy though. Watching the Chopping Block is as close to Three Stooges slapstick comedy as it gets.
So, watch the Chopping Block, and thank your lucky stars you are not one of those poor bastards clawing for their own restaurant to run. I for one will be home holding my side while I laugh an even bigger stitch into it as these unprepared dreamers try to catch a tiger by the tail.
From the folks who brought us the Guacamole Song, Rhett and Link, comes the BBQ song. I wish I had enough talent to write funny jingles about food... oh, that would be the life. These two are quite talented and, I believe, are even sponsored by Alka Seltzer. Brilliant!
Best quote from the song?
"Alabama has the strangest thing I've seen in my barbecue days
their barbecue sauce is WHITE, made out of mayonnaise"
Dried Durian ChipsI saw these at a local Vietnamese sandwich shop and I couldn't resist.
I've never eaten durian before and part of my instincts told me that, after everything I've heard about their odor, I shouldn't open them in my house...
but I did anyway.
To my surprise, there was not any unpleasant smell, let alone one that knocks the wind out of you.
Because of its smell, stories abound about how durian is banned in public places like malls and subways in many parts of South-East Asia.
It is also rumored to be forbidden in many hotels.
Sometimes referred to as the "King of Fruit," it is said to throw a pungent, sulfuric nose like an athlete's sock or a rotting corpse - but what makes people crave the fruit is that the horrible smell of durian is only to be outdone by its delicious taste.
Chef Andrew Zimmern compares the taste to "completely rotten, mushy onions."
Anthony Bourdain, while a lover of durian, relates his encounter with the fruit as thus: "Its taste can only be described as...indescribable, something you will either love or despise. ...Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother."
Travel and food writer Richard Sterling says... "its odor is best described as pig-s#!t, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.
Henri Mouhot, Food Naturalist: "On first tasting it I thought it like the flesh of some animal in a state of putrefaction.
"The durian's smell is its outstanding feature - it is pungent, a bit like a clogged drain or rotten eggs." From the Financial Express.
"It has been likened to rotting onions, unwashed socks and even carrion in custard, but the most accurate description by far is that of a sewer full of rotting pineapples." - BBC
A company called Greenday makes these dried durian chips in Thailand. Inside the bag were 20 or so thumb-sized bright yellow moons. They looked freeze dried and had no moisture to them whatsoever. Some were a little porous, some were smooth.
They smelled more closely to banana chips than anything else, and they tasted quite similar too. There was a distinct sulfur, eggy-like note but balanced with a complex sweetness. Although they were dried, they yielded a creaminess when you began to chew them.
I tried pairing them with a lager and a Savignon Blanc. Both seemed to compliment them well. I think that the dryness of the drinks countered the sweetness of the durian. They weren't cloying like dried mango can be, but again, sweet like dried banana chips. Although the contents didn't look like much, the 50 gram bag was unusually filling.
Although this wasn't the fresh fruit, which I can't wait to try, there was nothing unpleasant to it at all. I wonder what makes durian so repulsive then before it is dried. We'll call durian chips a durian primer for me, unlike this 15 month-old who goes straight for the good stuff...
As I sit waiting for my guest at a local diner, I have an epiphany on the what makes us so attracted to the meal in which we break our nightly fast. Let's talk about breakfast. Why do we crave it? Why is it often, "Served All Day"? What is the root of it's universal appeal?
I suddenly realized that it's beauty is in it's simplicity; but what makes it so special is it's ability to be customized. At it's foundation you often have eggs, a meat, a leavened bread, a pan-fried bread, some sort of a sweet topping (syrup, jam, etc.), ketchup, and the ubiquitous Tabasco sauce.
What makes it amazing is that the sheer number of unique combination's allow for everyone to eat the same thing, yet completely different from the next person, and also precisely how they like it. This amalgam makes up most fare served up in the finest morning eating establishments.
Patron: "Pancake sandwich with bacon, eggs over medium, no runny, sourdough toast."
Server: "It doesn't come with toast, honey"
Patron: "OK, no toast then. Or, could I have some on the side?"
Server: "What kind of toast?"
And so it continues...
If you turn off your filter at a busy diner, these conversations pop into your head in a continuous stream. People narcistically order their personal nuances into every distinct piece of the meal, far more than any other. "Extra this" "Light that" "Easy on the..." "Could I have a side of the ... instead?" They've had more practice fine tuning breakfast than lunch, or dinner. Just look at the menu; there may be less than 10 things, all assembled in different ways; like Legos, but for food.
As I sneak glances upon my fellow patrons I see two middle aged women eating pancakes with a light touch on the syrup. They have only used about a third of their respective tiny pitchers of the dark stuff. One hasn't even touched her little ball of butter, the other has devoured hers; both are sharing a side of bacon and each are sipping coffee.
The man to my right and a little behind me, as I rubber neck in my stealthily way, is devouring scrambled eggs, hash browns, a biscuit (he hasn't touched his butter either), and washing it all down with a glass of milk. He dines alone, slowing as he eats, the last few bites are deliberate and well planned. A small bite of egg, then a stab of the biscuit, a small swipe of marmalade from his knife, and then into the mouth.
A foursome of two couples was just seated near me and I have a great vantage point. They begin with three coffees, a tea, and a round of waters with one woman sipping her water from a straw. The woman with the tea has a side of fruit immediately. When they are served, it looks as if something's wrong with the ladies' order, very wrong. They send it back.
What emerges a minute or so later looks like Benedict, split with her female friend across the table from her. One of the male counterparts gets eggs that look over easy, white toast, sausage patties, and hash browns. He likes to break everything up at first rather then before each bite (I know the type), and spends a minute or so preparing the plate. The other man does nearly the same, only with links instead.
On another note: I just watched a woman pour an unholy amount of sugar into her coffee from the glass jar of sugar. I think there should be a safety valve on those things. She could have put a Shetland pony into hypoglycemia with a dose that size.
I'm going to get one egg over-hard (I've not been digging runny yolks lately...), bacon (I had sausage links yesterday), hash browns, a biscuit (I'm going to smother it with my own little round ball of butter and...), and maybe some marmalade. I will add a tablespoon or so of ketchup to the side and likely skip the Tabasco. Coffee with one tub of half & half, no sugar.
My cohort, I'm guessing, will order one egg over easy, bacon (or maybe the sausage patty??), hash browns, and white toast. He will get two sides of brown gravy and pour it on top of everything. He will spend 90 seconds or so shaking black pepper on top once the roofing of gravy is down - I've never seen someone put more pepper on their food than him. He'll order a side of milk for his coffee in lieu of the half & half tubs, no sugar.
[Update: I got the same but I was offered a side of gravy as well and I went for it. It was mushroom gravy - and it was quite tasty, thanks for the tip. My cohort got one egg but scrambled, with links instead and an English muffin. He only got one side of brown gravy, though still with heaps of black pepper, and he put strawberry jam on the English muffin... I was so close.]
So, how do you assemble your ideal "diner breakfast"?
Bacon, ham, links, patty, pork chop, or steak?
Pancakes, French toast, waffle, or silver dollars?
Over easy, over medium, scrambled, poached, or omelet?
Hash browns, home fries (triple cheese for $1 more), French fries, or fruit?
Sourdough, white, wheat, rye, English muffin, crumpet, or biscuit?
Coffee, tea, orange juice, grapefruit, tomato, or milk?
Belgian Ale. Light but full bodied. A hint of fruit. Possibly the best BBQ beverage ever.
The other day, a sunny but cool day (unusual for Sacramento anytime after St. Patrick's day) we ventured to the farmer's market and bought some fresh, wild coho salmon (we just missed the wild king). Next, we headed to Taylor's Market which is known for their old-school butcher shop.
This was our first visit and we enjoyed the charm and friendly, helpful staff. We did pick out some meats but the treat was their selection of Belgium ales. I picked out the La Chouffe as I hadn't tried it before and they didn't carry Chimay's white label (just the blue & red).
What caught my attention was the description of a white ale with spice, this is due to the addition of coriander (what makes the Lost Coast's Great White Ale one of our favorites). My first sip was just as I had hoped. Full, malty, sweet - and while I finished my glass long before the salmon was done, I was in a great mood and ready to chow down! Incidentally, we paired the fish with a grilled corn and potato salad with red onion, tomato, ricotta and basil.
Artist Liz Hickok recreates accurate, scaled-down cities with Jello. The photo above is San Francisco and they are pouring on the "fog" before they do the photo shoot. She has done several neighborhoods of San Francisco as well as Wilmington, Delaware and Scottsdale, Arizona.
Her installations and photography are surreal, you can check them out and purchase them from her website here.
Liz begins by taking photos around the city, capturing the facades of landmark buildings. Then she makes tiny models of the structures out of balsa wood and/or foam board. She pours up silicone molds of the models to make her Jello molds.
The last step in the process is taking a large aerial or satellite photograph of the city and laying in onto a table, making a ton of Jello, and placing the buildings into place.
The Associated Press reports that Austria's health ministry found detectable traces of cocaine samples of Red Bull Cola energy drinks... keep in mind that this is Red Bull's Cola and not their ubiquitous Energy Drink. They use the Coca leaf as a flavoring but are supposed to remove any cocaine.
Before you go out and buy a case, Red Bull Spokeswoman says that any traces are very slight and do not pose a health risk; and the company maintains that its Cola is "harmless and marketable in both the U.S. and Europe."
So how much did they find? - 0.4 micrograms/liter.
To put things in perspective, the EPA allows a maximum threshold of arsenic in drinking water of 10 micrograms/liter. That's 25 times more than how much cocaine the Austrians found.
This is an open letter to god, the supreme, supernatural being - or to whatever deity handles culinary matters.
Dear Great One:
I, a lowly human, offspring of Adam, request that you create a culinary fairy godmother, jinni, magical elf, or fantastical creature of your choosing to fill in the gaps, and/or black holes that plague the culinary world. My requests are as follows:
1. I want California barbecue to taste like Southern barbecue. I want the same quality, taste, and awesomeness found in the South to be replicated here in the Golden State. Barbecue here sucks, and mail order Q takes too long and the best places in the South don’t know what the Internet is.
2. The taste of all bad, retched food should last only three thousandth of a second in your brain before it morphs into the taste of cotton candy or bacon with only a fleeting memory of the afore-tasted bad food.
3. I want quality Austrian pastry to be the standard for all pastry in the world. Sorry, French people, I love French pastry too, but you guys do so many things so well in the culinary world, whereas, the Austrians had to specialize in one area and command it.
I do not want to walk into another bakery in America and see the same selection of desserts, made in the same way, with the same ingredients, all tasting the same exact way. I want to bite into something new, and have my head explode with flavor and taste, and question myself if I was truly alive before I tasted this magnificent concoction of sugar, fat, flour and flavoring.
4. I want there to be the equivalent of gourmet soup kitchens for poor gourmands who can not afford to eat at places like the French Laundry, Nobu, Fleur de Lis, Danko, and Le Cirque…. I want famous and talented chefs to operate an establishment where say for twenty bucks you could eat like Bernie Madoff, and enjoy the best of the best of everything in a grand dinning hall with free flowing wine. And this place should be wherever I happen to live.
5. Every waitress in the world should be no less beautiful than Padma Lakshmi, and she should always give me her (real) phone number when I ask. Ok, that’s not really culinary, but I don’t care.
6. There should be a global take-out teleportation system where you can get authentic ethnic cuisine from every country in the world within five minutes of ordering.
7. Apple fritters should be as nutritious as broccoli, less fattening than water.
8. Sugar should not make you fat, and the more you eat the fitter you get.
9. Anything deep fried should be good for your heart.
10. My favorite restaurants should never close---EVER!
That is a small portion of my list. I know you are busy creating universes, and making sure the cockroach survives anything thrown at it, but I would appreciate some action on my request. I don’t want to sound petty, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.
I mean, if you can make a quantum particle be in two places at the same time you can certainly conjure up a little Kazoo type creature to handle the above mentioned request. I have faith that you will.
When it comes to burgers I am a snob. I do not put things inside my burgers. If you put things like salt, pepper, bread, eggs etc. etc., into your burgers then you are not making hamburgers you are making meatloaf…patties. All a good burger needs is quality meat and some salt and pepper on the top while cooking.
1. The meat is everything. The meat should be freshly ground. I grind my own with my handy Kitchenaid grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer. I use 7 bone in chuck (please cut the bones out before you grind), and round (London broil) or sirloin steak. If the 7bone in chuck doesn’t have enough fat for you, then pick up a package of beef short ribs for more fat content. Remember fat is flavor. A lean burger is a dry burger.
2. I go to neighborhood ethnic meat markets for meat. Here in San Francisco I go to the Mission district or the little Saigon neighborhood and buy my steaks for hamburger. The quality of the meat is good. Although, most places carry Standard and Select cuts, not Choice, and never Prime, you will save a couple of dollars per pound by shopping in areas where the clientele is more price conscious and less into a pleasant atmosphere and getting a latte while they shop.
3. Let your burger rest at least three minutes before you bite into it. Remember a burger is just a chopped steak designed to be eaten with your hands. By letting your burger rest you retain all that juicy goodness.
4. A thin burger is a wasted burger. Burgers should be at least a half a pound each. Anything less than a half a pound ends up being dry and tasteless. Unless, you make them the size of billiard balls, and then they would be called meatballs.
5. The best burger is a flame kissed grilled burger, but if your landlord is adverse to an open flame inside your apartment then use an indoor grill pan, and heat the grill pan until very hot before you slap that precious piece of meat on it. Putting a burger in a cold pan to cook is the same thing as steaming it. Hot grill pan, cold meat: tasty burger.
6. As I stated above, I only put salt and pepper on the outside of my burgers, but I use kick-ass salt and pepper. I use gray salt and coarsely cracked black pepper, think, steak au poivre. The cracked black peppercorns roast and release an intense earthy aroma, and when you are chewing the burger the pepper and salt kick up the flavor of any condiments you put on the buns.
7. Buns: brioche is my choice. I buy brioche buns ( I live in San Francisco, remember) split them, butter them and toast them in a medium hot pan. If you can not find brioche buns use Kaiser rolls, or slices of challah can work too.
If you follow my burger making regime, I guarantee you that the only time you will eat a fast food burger is when you are stranded in the middle of nowhere and your only alternative is eating your shoe, or a “clown” burger
Oh, last point, there is only one time when it is acceptable to eat a fast food “clown” burger, and that is when you are in a foreign country (outside of the U.S.A) and they call burgers things like: hamburgesas, or hambughars, or American style hamburgers.
You can always trust McDonalds to give you a safe, consistent, trustworthy product anywhere in the world. Use them like you would one of those iodine pills you put into suspect water while traveling.
From an unattributed joke email my father recently sent me:
Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.
Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.
Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!
Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.
Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!
Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! ..... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?
Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.
Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans ! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!
Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.
Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!
Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO, What a Ride"
For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.
1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.