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Burgers get some respect


glenn
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Which is the fourth city, Jim?  

The cities themselves never made it into the story, and I'm sure my notes are long gone...but it seemed like there were a couple in Texas and maybe one in the NE somewhere...one persistent claim is that they were first served (in the US) at the St Louis World's Fair in 1904.

I have always assumed that the very first hamburger was eaten where it was invented, in Hamburg, Germany

In my story I wrote that "it was the penchant for ground meat among the poor in Hamburg, Germany, that gave the patties their name." I also made reference to the Tartars, who apparently shredded tough Mongolian beef to make it edible.

I've never really been much of a steak eater, and I've also thought a good burger was the highest expression of beef.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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Which is the fourth city, Jim?  

The cities themselves never made it into the story, and I'm sure my notes are long gone...but it seemed like there were a couple in Texas and maybe one in the NE somewhere...one persistent claim is that they were first served (in the US) at the St Louis World's Fair in 1904.

St. Louisians claim that everything was first tried at the 1904 worlds fair. So far as I can tell, hot dog buns and ice cream cones is it. (And the ferris wheel was introduced.)

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Consulting some old notes, a few other missed excellent hamburgers (in addition to the many named in posts above):

Beer Bar at Cafe Centro -- The Times actually proclaimed this one of the best in New York a few years ago. If you ask them to make it for you from scratch, it's fantastic. Comes with (last time I checked) gorgeous hand-cut fries, crisp applewood bacon, cheddar cheese, and frizzled onions.

All State Cafe -- Also received several media accolades awhile back. My mother's favorite.

Fanelli's -- One of the most enjoyable places to hang out in New York City. Deep, beefy taste. Flavorful, charred crust. Comes on a terrific onion roll. The skinny fries are crispy and hot. On the bacon-cheeseburger, the bacon and cheese are crispy and gooey, respectively.

Brooklyn Diner -- An exceptional creation. The meat excels in juiciness but also has a good amount of flavor. The bun is big, beautiful and buttered -- not my preference but, in this situation, it works. The bacon is crispy, salty and delicious. The frizzled onions make a nice addition (reminiscent of the burger at the Beer Bar at Cafe Centro). The skinny fries are just about the best I've seen around. As one e-mail correspondent wrote to me way back when: "Went to McHales today. Best fries I have had in NY. The burger was excellent, probably the best serious, large burger that I have had, although it was a bit overwhelming. For overall gestalt of burgerdom (I admit, now that I have hit 40, I no longer like feeling like I'm in a contest to eat the whole thing) I still think that the deluxe burger at Brooklyn Diner has to be in the running, although for sheer pure essence of American hamburgerness McHales has to take it. The Brooklyn Diner burger is a bit effite, slightly yuppie, a bit LA, to the McHales East coast blue collar arc welder type burger. It is interesting what a personal thing it is."

T.G. Whitney's -- Low-key Midtown Irish pub serving a dynamite grilled burger.

Also worth mentioning, the Luger burger may be the best in town but it's almost always dreadfully overcooked.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Fat Guy -- or anyone else, for that matter: have you had the burger at Le Zinc? Very good meat, not too tightly packed, large and juicy, cooked as requested, with cheddar and applewood-smoked bacon, served on a good onion roll, with mediocre cole slaw and excellent fries. Opinions? (I admit I love it; but I've never had a burger at City Hall down the street.)

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In my story I wrote that "it was the penchant for ground meat among the poor in Hamburg, Germany, that gave the patties their name." I also made reference to the Tartars, who apparently  shredded tough Mongolian beef to make it edible.

Shredded it by tucking a chunk under their horses' saddles, where it was pounded into submission by the rigors of the ride. Or is that a non-urban legend?

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Beer Bar at Cafe Centro -- The Times actually proclaimed this one of the best in New York a few years ago. If you ask them to make it for you from scratch, it's fantastic. Comes with (last time I checked) gorgeous hand-cut fries, crisp applewood bacon, cheddar cheese, and frizzled onions.

The Beer bar at Cafe Centro used to serve their burger on a potato bread bun, very light and puffy. Don't know if they still do, but may find out tomorrow...

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Fat Guy -- or anyone else, for that matter: have you had the burger at Le Zinc?

I've been to Le Zinc many times, but I can't remember ordering the burger. I'll have to give it a try next time. Almost everything else I've ordered, such as the beet salad, the deviled egg assortment, steak, chicken grandmere, a veggie entree they used to do, and various fish specials, have all been good. The only thing to avoid is that onion-fritter appetizer thing that looks like it belongs at Chili's.

And you should definitely get a group of friends together sometime and head over to City Hall for a seafood tower and a round of burgers.

Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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If you go, insist on having it cooked from scratch. Otherwise during the lunch rush you may get a par/pre-cooked specimen. At any restaurant where large burgers are the norm, it's worth inquiring about this and waiting the extra time for a freshly made one. Hamburgers don't par-cook well, in my experience.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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(And the ferris wheel was introduced.)

If you have been watching the absolutely fascinating history of 19th Century Chicago on PBS the past three nights, you've already learned that the Ferris wheel was introduced at the Columbian Exposition in 1893. And if you've seen "Meet Me In St. Louis" as many times as I have, you'd know that its famous World's Fair, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, kicked off in 1903, not 1904.

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Further to my comments on the Blue Smoke burger, Danny Meyer in his eGullet Q&A session (in progress now; today is your last opportunity to ask him a question about Blue Smoke) added the following:

"Like USC, Blue Smoke makes its own homemade buns. But additionally, we use some of our barbecue spices and baste the meat with a little sauce as it grills. Not too much -- just enough to make it taste great."

I'd add that it's an extremely limited amount of seasoning and sauce, because I didn't perceive it as an addition -- it's more of a flavor enhancer. That probably also helps explain the gorgeous caramelization on the finished burger.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steer clear of La Sandwicherie in the meatpacking district. At least don't get the burger, double yuck. The Times mentioned this in their tidbit section a month or so ago as well as the burger article, "carved out of the back of the kitchen of the Moroccan restaurant Zitoune, on Gansevoort Street, serves Moroccan-inspired burgers, made with spicy lamb sausage and salmon". I ordered it medium rare but it came so well done I couldn't even tell what meat(s) were in it. And the bun is presently being used as a paperweight. But the price was right, $8.

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Add Mitchel London's burger at Fairway's upstairs cafe to the thumbs-up list.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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