Posted by: Brian | May 12, 2008

Cat-Sized Goats

There I am getting ready to face the day, listening to the radio and not really paying close attention, when I hear the news about a cat-sized goat that had gone missing. Huh? That’s odd. And there are all these people looking for this goat, and they’ve got search-and-rescue teams and helicopters and what in the world has happened to us that we need to send the cavalry out to find one smallish goat?

Until the announcer repeated his earlier comment and I realized that we were not looking for a tiny farm animal, but a CAPSIZED BOAT.

In honor of my bad morning, I give to you the original cheezborger, The Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, made famous by the late John Belushi on Saturday Night Live. Tucked beneath the noisy streets of Chicago is an even noisier bar, now smokeless under new Illinois law, but still without fries and Coke (but instead with chips and Pepsi). Enjoy.

Burger Daddy

Posted by: Brian | May 6, 2008

Credit for Trying

Just got back from a burger-eating contest at CJ’s Pub in South Bend, Indiana, where I got to meet future Hall of Famer Chris Zorich. A great guy and good sport who only put away four burgers — mini burgers, I might add — in the alloted three minutes.

Football wasn’t the proving ground for the best burger belly, apparently, as a volleyball coach, Jim Seitz, and un-sports-affiliated Brynne Kolbe gnawed six burgers to tie. Seitz won the overtime eat-off to claim the top prize.

But perhaps the best sport of the night was Angelo Di Carlo of Newscenter 16, who managed to eat an entire one-and-a-half mini burgers. Said Angelo following her achievement, “I thought the winner would be the person who enjoyed eating the burgers the most.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Angelo.

Posted by: Brian | May 1, 2008

Raising up the Hamburger

Yes, folks, after 11 months of waiting patiently, pacing hungrily and preparing feverishly, at long last our time has come. It’s NATIONAL HAMBURGER MONTH!

As declared by Farm Progress magazine, May is National Hamburger Month. According to the publication (and I personally think these numbers are a tad conservative), Americans ate 11.9 billion (yes, billion with a b) burgers in 2007. Two out of five of us at a hamburger at least once a week, and 85 percent had at least one burger monthly.

(No question that burgers are the most popular way to eat beef, which is probably why the folks at Farm Progress are so nice to us.)

So, burger buddies, we’re going to have a month full of special burger recipes, reviews, news and tips. Um, well, hang on a minute. Oh, wait, I forgot. We do that every month! Because WE LOVE BURGERS.

Okay, back to you folks. How are you planning to celebrate National Burger Month? Let’s hear from you.

Burger Daddy

Posted by: Brian | April 27, 2008

The Five Most Decadent Burgers (says Esquire)

Try as I might to keep up with the stacks of magazines and newspapers in my place, I always find myself behind. Which is why, after finally catching up on the burger trades and turning my attention to other almost-as-noteworthy publications, I found a list in the May 2007 (seriously, I’m way behind) Esquire:

The Five Most Decadent Burgers in the United States of America.

I have to admit their list looks pretty good, both from the perspective of the best burger experiences money can buy, and from the perspective of over-the-topness.

– Cheese-encrusted patty at Shady Glen Dairy Stores in Manchester, Conn.
– The gourmet sirloin burger at DB Bistro Moderne in New York.
– The 11-pound monstrosity offered up at Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Penn.
– The Krispy Kreme burger at the Gateway Grizzlies ballpark outside St. Louis.
– The deep-fried burger at Dyers Burgers in Memphis.

I can’t help but notice that all five of these are east of the Mississippi (yes, the Krispy Kreme burger is actually served in Illinois). What gives? I know there are both terrific and terrifically horrible burgers to be found in the west.

Agree? Disagree? Have a better nomination? Let’s hear from you. That’s why we have a forum, people.

Click here to open a new window to the forum and let us all know what you know about burgers.

Burger Daddy

Posted by: Brian | April 27, 2008

The Politics of Burgers

As terrific as they are, it isn’t every day that hamburgers become elevated to the global political stage. You have your mayors who’ll make mention of a favorite burger joint, or maybe some political figure, even a presidential candidate, will chow down on a burger on the campaign trail.

But when the president of the United States of America starts talking burgers, well, you’re in the big leagues. Although some might say he was merely name-dropping to put out a political fire.

In his visit to Washington, D.C., British Prime Minister Gordon Brown took time to meet with John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama before eventually working his way over to the White House to see W. Did that mean, though, that the two world leaders don’t get along as well as they should?

“If it wasn’t a personal relationship, I wouldn’t be inviting the man to a nice hamburger or something,” Bush said. “Well-done, I might add.

I suppose the menu for the meeting would make it obvious to most people, but apparently some needed to have it spelled out for them.  Got it?

Posted by: Brian | April 20, 2008

Gooda Gouda Cheeseburgers

I think it’s about time to start sharing some recipes here. There’s a lot in my archives, and of course our newsletter subscribers get them all the time. So why not?

I’ve been travelling this week, and was judging a Burger Cook Off in Chicago. I can’t share the details, or the recipes (which would definitely be a detail) but I can tell you that as the summer grilling season approaches the competition in Burger World is going to be fierce.

I do love traveling, especially airports — an airport means that you’re going somewhere (or even going home). But besides that, it’s so interesting to watch people. Like all the guys playing with their crackberries. And the woman who dressed up in her finest pink track suit for the ride. I’m always surprised at how many people travel with their pillow. What’s that all about?

My favorite, though, was O’Hare itself, and the announcements they make while you’re waiting at the gate. Every 10 or 15 minutes they remind you that there are new rules for carrying on liquids or gels. You’d think that everyone would know that by now, but I still see security taking bottles of water and tubes of toothpaste out of peoples’ bags. But let’s think about this: if you’ve already gone through security, and you’re waiting at the gate, do you think that maybe — just maybe — you have a handle on the liquid-and-gel rule, and you don’t need to be reminded? How about if they told people that on the shuttle bus on the way to the airport?

But I digress. Since I can’t tell you anything about the burgers at the competition, I can share a recipe that came to mind as I was trying one of the top burgers, made from Gouda cheese.

Gooda Gouda Cheeseburgers

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup grated aged Gouda cheese (you can use fresh, but aged is better)
1 tablespoon fresh chervil (or parsley)
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
dash of hot sauce

(I know you’re wondering about the mixture of fresh and dried herbs, and the tiny amounts. Just trust me, okay?)

Put it all in a bowl, get your hands in there and mix it up good. You can shape this into four patties, although I’d opt for three myself – just don’t make them too thick. Then grill them to your personal perfection. And you know what would make these even gooder? I thinking some kind of mayo with a sweet/hot tang, like a curry or chutney. Just not too much, because this recipe is all about the cheese.

Posted by: Brian | April 14, 2008

Review – Chicago’s Boston Blackies

Ah, Boston Blackies. I haven’t been there in years, but it all came back to me in a flood of memories of some of the best basic burgers I’ve had.

Except for the smoke. Chicago bars and restaurants are no — thank goodness — smokefree, meaning you can enjoy the flavors even more without ending the evening with the smell of ashtray on your clothes.

So let’s talk burgers: Boston Blackies had great burgers. They come in a half-pound patty (“over half pound” according to the menu, and I’m not going to quibble) and for an unadorned burger they’re hard to beat. The well-formed patties came hot off the grill with melted cheddar (American, Swiss and blue also available) on top, with just the right amount of salt and a touch of ground pepper to make them tasty and absolutely mouthwatering.

The menu at Boston Blackies says, “The main ingredient in cooking is love,” and while I can’t speak for the cook, I can say that I love places where the waitress calls me “hon.” I got great service, although the waitress was so quick I wasn’t ever able to catch her name. She was a sweetheart, though.

What else do you need to know. The burgers come open faced on either sesame bun or kaiser roll, and are severed with the obligatory (flavorless) tomato slice, (uninteresting) lettuce leaf and (slightly better than average) dill pickle spear. And, of course, they’re always served with a scoop of
outrageously delicious Carson’s cole slaw,” which is indeed a great complement to the burger.

But the burger really sells it. If you’re in Chicago take a one-block walk off of Michigan Avenue, just east of Nordstrom’s (you’ll have to walk down the stairs off the street to lower Grand) and enjoy one of the best basic burgers you’ll find in Chicago.

Burger Daddy

Posted by: Brian | April 8, 2008

The Elegance of Complexity

Build a better burger and the world will beat a path to your door.

The Purdue Rube Goldberg Burger-Making Machine

At least that’s how it works for the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers, who won — for the third time in four years — the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest by taking 156 steps to assemble a hamburger.

For those of you not familiar with the genius artist, Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist (with an engineering degree) who became famous in the ’40s for drawing complex whimsical machines to accomplish simple tasks. The rules for the contest required at least 20 steps to make a burger with at least one precooked patty, two vegetables and two condiments in a bun.

I loved playing the game Mousetrap when I was a kid, although I never actually played the game, just assembled the Rube Goldberg-like machine that caught the mouse. Had I known I could have built such a contraption to make a hamburger…

Hats off to the Purdue team, and the other worthy competitors on attempting such a noble task as Burger Making!

Burger Daddy

Posted by: Brian | April 7, 2008

The Forum is Up and Running!

It took a while to work through all this technical guck, but we’ve finally got the Burger Daddy Forum up and running. This is in response to many fans, old and new, for a way to share your burger recommendations (and stay-away-froms).

Click here to open a new window to the forum. 

Just as we’ve done with the newsletter, we have a very simple rule for post: Be Nice. You might not like a burger along the way — tell us why. You might disagree with someone’s post — feel free to post your comment. But let’s be adult about it and leave the unpleasantness someplace else.

I’m going to start populating the Forum with some old newsletter material, but I know it won’t take long to get a lot of current material in there.

Burger Lovers Unite!


Posted by: Brian | April 4, 2008

Hamburger as Weapon

Two unusual hamburger stories this week, and no, they weren’t April Fool’s jokes.

In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a teen was charged with theft and fighting with police after stealing frozen hamburger patties and cough syrup from a grocery store. Police responded to a call late in the evening, after store security had stopped the boy. The kid continued fighting and eventually — you can probably see this one coming — doused him with pepper spray.

There are way too many directions I can take that one, folks, so I’ll just let it alone. But, very seriously, cough syrup?

Earlier in the week, the owner of a package store in Haverhill, New Hampshire was approached by a man who demanded a free Pepsi (I assume he didn’t ask for a Pepsi Free, although he could have been pulling a Marty McFly). When the store owner refused, the man threw a hamburger at him.

When the police arrived, how did they know there had been a hamburger used as a weapon? (I swear, this is not a joke.) Of course they found the hamburger and wrapper on the floor, and the store owner (who was not on the floor) with his glasses covered with mayonnaise.

Police were not able to locate the burger-thrower or his female accomplice.

People, people, people…  


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