Monday, March 2, 2009

Now that's a tasty burger

I can't remember the last time I had a really good hamburger. A thick juicy one. So juicy that it runs down the wrist and down the chin. A four napkin hamburger. All the hamburgers I have had since I went into the hospital have been of the thin, over-cooked variety. I can't describe how lame the burgers here in the home are except that they make high-school cafeteria hamburgers taste down-right gourmet.

I used to like Burger King, which there is one about a block away, but I have seemingly lost the taste for them. They aren't tasty enough to make me want to finish one. Even a Whopper Jr. is a struggle to finish. The only other fast food burgers that slightly interest me are Dairy Queen or Fatburger, both of which are on the Eastside of Lake Washington and not worth the multiple bus rides in my wheel chair.

At the mall on Saturday I was tempted to go to Red Robin, which I like, but the nausea I've suffered from for the past week or so was with me, and so I had to pass. I think the next time my friend Todd wants to buy me lunch, which he often has, I will arrange to meet him at the Northgate Red Robin. We have had many a burger there.I also like them because they have endless refills on fries and soft drinks, which now that I don't eat very much, means nothing to me anymore.

There are a few burger blogs I visit (see below), mainly looking for good "food porn." The one thing these burger blogs all have in common, is they only review cheeseburgers. I have never liked cheeseburgers. Mainly because I grew up having mayo on my burger and the combination of mayonnaise and cheese makes me gag. Actually, rather than mayo, I prefer Miracle Whip, which is what I was raised on, and what I think is infinitely better. My other toppings of choice are pretty simple. Iceberg Lettuce, sliced pickles and/or relish, sautéed mushrooms, and occasionally onions (but raw onions give me heartburn so I usually skip them). My only other caveat (if I am using that word correctly) is that I don't like tomatoes on my burger. I have never been a fan of raw tomatoes. To me, they practically have no taste and just make the burger wet, as opposed to juicy. Todd, and Paul, and all my friends actually, say that I am too picky. But, hey, I like what I like.

Whenever possible, instead of mayo or Miracle Whip, I will have what a restaurant that I used to go to when I was a kid growing up in Lacey, called (or maybe it was just me) "Secret Sauce," which was some variation of Thousand Island Dressing. It was inside the South Sound Center (mall) and the place was called "Ye Old Sweet Shoppe" (I don't think it's there anymore. If I remember correctly it became a Lens Crafter in the late 80s.)

At the same time, there was a burger stand called Eagan's Big Tom. They had a sauce called "Goop" that I absolutely loved, but didn't know what it was. There was also an A&W that I used to go to (it closed in the early 70s) and they sold what they called the "Mama Burger," which had a similar sauce, called "Teen Sauce," which brings all kinds of mental pictures in my head, none of them related to hamburgers.

Many years later, when I moved to Seattle, I found a another similar, if not identical, sauce on the "Dick's Deluxe" at Dick's Drive In. After eating at Dick's for many years, I think I figured out how to make what I have dubbed "Dick Sauce."

1 Cup Mayo (not Miracle Whip, because it is two sweet)
1/2 Cup Sweet Relish
2 TBSP Yellow Mustard

Pretty simple.

I can't think of a single hamburger I have had in Seattle that makes me crave one right now. I have had some good ones. A few that come to mind are: Red Mill, which is often voted "Best In Seattle" and it is pretty good be the best (but it's their onion rings that make me keep going back. Shultzy's Sausage is very good. It is served on a soft-ish baguette. I am not crazy about their french fries, so have their potato salad instead. Norm's in Fremont is pretty good, as I remember it, which is barely. The Two Bell's Tavern near Belltown also serves their burgers on a french roll and that don't have a deep frier, so again, I go for the potato salad. The Kidd Valley chain is hit and miss, as is Scooters in Ballard. Bad Albert's, also in ballard, has a pretty good bar burger if I recall.

The Burger of the Month group (1265 postings as of today) over at the Mouthfuls forum recommend a lot of places, notably the Lunchbox Laboratory, which in a past post I said I wanted to go. I think that the group still claim that The Palace Kitchen has the best burger in Seattle, but they aren't open for lunch, so I've never been. I find the place a bit fancier than the wardrobe I have available to me right now anyway.

As good as any of these places are, I would rather make my own. I take pride in being able to make a good hamburger. I have been making hamburgers, and cooking in general, since I was twelve. My mother oftem worked until seven, but I was home by three, so unless I wanted to wait for her, I had to cook for myself.

I remember some of those early attempts at burgers. Crispy on the outside, raw on the inside. I would wind up scooping out the raw part with my index finger and chow down on what was left. After a few attempts, I figured out that you don't cook everything on "high." (The only thing that should be high is me, but after I am done cooking.) I have made pretty good burgers ever since.

Hamburger Blogs of various quality

Hamburger America
A Hamburger Today
Portland Hamburgers
The Chicago Burger Project
Best Burger In Town (Chicago)
Hoosier Burger Boy (San Francisco)
Texas Burger Guy
World's Greatest Hamburger Blog

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