Monday, March 31, 2014

Best thing I ate this week

A few weeks back we went to my friend's lovely wedding down in Florida. We added a day to the trip and managed a night in Miami before the wedding. While in Miami, we were lucky enough to come across two tickets to the Food and Wine Festival's Burger Bash. Having attended a few of the New York events for this festival in the past, they're a pretty good time. It's a fun afternoon or evening of stuffing your face with lots of _______ (in our experiences: sandwiches, pizza, burgers) and getting to try ________ (see above) from places you might not otherwise get to try. There's also free booze, live music, food demos and a few Food Network celebs floating around, so it makes for a fun activity.

While eating our way around the Burger Bash I discovered some tasty things that earned the title: "Best thing I ate this week." You see, I like my food. I eat well. Therefore for something to receive that title is well earned. I figure this might be a new fun feature for you, my loyal handful of readers, to tell you some of the best things I've eaten lately. Maybe I'll give you a new restaurant to try, maybe I'll give you an actual recipe, maybe it'll be a donut you have to turn off the highway in some strange location to seek out... I don't know for sure, but if it's good enough to be deemed "the best of my week," it's probably good enough to tell other people about.

So, here's a little catch-up, just to get me current... starting with my favorite burgers from the bash, and then on from there.

February 21: Apparently I have popular taste, because two of my favorite burgers were two of the nights winners. But I'm giving you my top 4, just to give you some new different locations to try, depending where you may find yourself.
B Spot restaurant in Cleveland, OH won the People's Choice Award with their Fat Doug Burger: Burger with coleslaw, pastrami, Castello aged havarti cheese and stadium mustard. Pastrami on a burger? Yup. Yes. Definitely. Uh huh. For sure. Are you seriously still questioning this? Well then maybe this new feature of mine isn't for you.
The Burger Dive in Billings, MT won the Best of the Bash Award with their Blackened Sabbath burger: Blackened spice with bacon, beer battered onion ring, garlic basil mayo, goat cheese and arugula with sriracha. I was nervous going into something that complicated, but by George, it worked.
Those two are great examples of places I might not be going anytime soon (Cleveland and Billings) but I'm so glad I got to try. If you're in those necks of the woods, I highly recommend.
My other two favorites were from Lillie's Q in Chicago, IL and Luzzo's in good old NYC. Lillie's came with their self titled Lillie's Q Burger: Double pimento cheese burger. A taste explosion so simple, yet so delicious.
Luzzo's had the unfortunate location of 'the opposite side to where I started,' so I reached there towards the end, after I had tasted the good, the bad and the just plain weird, and right as my meat sweats were beginning to kick in. Oh yes, Adam Richman of Man vs. Food did not make that up. The meat sweats are real, and they really get in the way of a healthy 36 year old woman trying all 31 burgers. Damn you meat sweats! But I did manage to try Luzzo's offering: Meatball inspired burger in a Neapolitan pizza bun. So, just to paint the picture, when I was full beyond reckoning I managed to sneak in two mini-pizzas acting as the bun to a meatball within... and boy am I glad I did. Delicious, and kind of a nice change of pace from some of the other more traditional burgers at that point in the night.

How you feel after four burgers

How you feel after twenty-four burgers
February 23: Technically it was the following week... Jaxson's old-timey ice cream parlour in Dania Beach, FL. I've been coming to Jaxson's since I was a tiny tot. Not much has changed in the past 35 years, and their massive chocolate chips in their ice cream, hot fudge and hot butterscotch on top are worth the trip whether you're flying in or out of Fort Lauderdale airport (conveniently just up the road), or somewhere, anywhere in South Florida and fancy some damn good ice cream in a kitschy old-fashioned parlour setting.

March 14: I know there was a week in between... this thing is still new for me, give me a chance to work out the exact timing. Next up is the chicken under a brick at Emporio, New York, NY. Yummy pizza, delicious pasta, and a Nutella calzone at the end that... I mean, come on, Nutella calzone? Yes, please. But despite that sweet treat at the end, the main event for me was the Crystal Valley Farm half chicken under a brick stuffed with mushrooms, truffle, broccoli rabe and rosemary jus... served with tasty truffle fries that should have been overwhelming but weren't. I don't know why people continue to cook chicken any other way than under a brick when under a brick is very clearly the best way of cooking chicken and should be the only way... just sayin'.

March 17-19: St. Patty's day has always been our Jewish family's excuse to have my mother's corned beef. We could have it more often, but then it wouldn't be quite as special. And it is special. Boil your corned beef according to its weight. Boiling it takes out some of the salt and fat and makes it so incredibly tender. Then prepare your glaze of maple syrup, brown sugar, deli mustard, and one small can well drained crushed pineapple... pretty much your perfect balance of sweet, tart, savory and delicious. If you want the exact recipe, or the recipe for the corn custard side we do with it, just let me know. It's not corned beef and cabbage, but it'll satisfy your corned beef craving with plenty of leftovers for rye bread sandwiches afterwards. Mmmmm, leftovers.

March 29: We bought a new car, so what does everyone want to do as soon as they get a new car but take a ride. And if it's nearing dinner time, why not take a ride to get dinner. We chose to ride up to Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem because it wasn't very far, it was getting late and they do a nice takeout service, plus if you're going to get rid of new car smell in less than 30 minutes of ownership, definitely replace it with Dinosaur BBQ smell... I mean if you can, which you should. I'm a Syracuse girl so as much as I like to patronize my local Dinosaur BBQ establishments in New York City, I miss the Syracuse location, partially for its authenticity but mostly for the mac salad that they mysteriously didn't bring to the menus downstate. I just don't understand. That mac salad brought me to tears on occasion and I wish they had it here too. Thankfully they do have the smothered brisket sandwich. Chopped Brisket Melt: slow-smoked brisket lightly slathered (what a great term that I wish I had more use for) with BBQ sauce and horseradish mayo, with sautéed onions and peppers, covered in melted cheddar on a pressed Cuban roll. I have many memories from college, but not many as delicious as this sandwich.

So, yeah... sorry for the super-long one this time. They'll be shorter when I get my act together and manage one a week. Hope you find something tasty to try on here. I know I have.

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