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No Kid Hungry

This summer sure has been a hot one! Feeling like I’m walking on the surface of the sun every time I leave the house has limited my usual burger-eating enjoyment, as well as impeded my backyard BBQing (Who wants to stand in front of a grill when it feels like 105 degrees out?). Luckily the weather cooled down this week just in time for Shake Shack to team up with No Kid Hungry and Al Roker for a special burger. The Roker Burger is a 100% all-natural Angus burger topped with Niman Ranch BBQ pulled pork, double American cheese, red-eye mayo and pickles. And every $1 from the burger sales will go to helping No Kid Hungry in its efforts to end childhood hunger in America. I’m always down to eat burgers for a good cause, so I headed over to my local Shake Shack to check it out.

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I thought the burger was great. I loved the sweetness of the BBQ sauce and the pulled pork was juicy and tender. I also loved the crispy sweetness of the pickles (my usual go-to burger at Shake Shack is the Smoke Shack, so I’d been missing my pickle fix). And a burger topped with BBQ pork is the perfect way to combine your summer favorites!

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If you wanna try it, you better hurry – it’s only available in Shacks nationwide from now until Friday, August 26th (So run like you’re in the White House about to poop your pants… just try not to in the process).

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a.Pretty Good Burger

A few weeks ago, some friends & I stopped into High Street on Market for brunch where the menu is crafted by one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, Eli Kulp. We loved the sandwiches and pastries there so much that we made this month’s brunch stop at a.Kitchen, where Chef Kulp recently took over the menu this past spring. Naturally I was excited to try the burger on the brunch menu: a Creekstone Farms Black Angus patty topped with cave-aged cheddar, mayo and pickles on a house-made sesame bun.

The presentation looked amazing. I almost asked for ketchup for the potatoes, but they were so soft and perfectly seasoned, I didn’t even need it. The burger patty was thick and proportional to the bun. My only complaint was that when I picked the burger up, the bottom of the bun was very soggy (luckily, the bottom bun was also pretty thick so it didn’t fall apart). The meat was juicy and flavorful, despite being cooked slightly more medium-well than medium (one of my friends also ordered the burger & got hers prepared medium-rare, and it was plenty red inside). The cave-aged cheddar paired well with the house mayo, giving the burger a good, tangy flavor, and the pickles added some sweetness and crunch. The quality of the meat and freshness of the ingredients definitely made it a solid brunch selection. Even though the patty was a pretty hefty size, it didn’t leave me feeling super stuffed or weighed down like some bar burgers tend to do – which means you’ll have plenty of room for some of their delicious, house-baked pastries as well.

Chef Kulp just added a more bar-esque version of the burger to the menu next door at a.Bar, so I will definitely have to go back and check that one out, too!

Burger rating: “B+”

Fishing for a Good Burger

Very rarely do I find myself in South Jersey, but on a particular adventure one Friday night to Wegman’s, we decided to stop at recently opened Cherry Hill outpost of The Farm & Fisherman. The Philly spot is a small BYOB, while this suburban destination boasts both a Tavern and Marketplace. We opted to sit at the bar since we just wanted something quick, and obviously I had to try their Colonial Burger: a blend of Wyebrook grass-fed beef and Heritage pork belly, topped with Jersey cheese and malt mayo.

While the presentation was nice, I was very disappointed. The ciabatta bun was nice and soft, but way too big for the size of the burger patty. The burger was requested medium and completely overcooked. I had hoped that the blend of beef and pork would give it a nice, succulent flavor and be really juicy, but it was totally dry and almost painful to eat without lots of mayo and ketchup. The shredded iceberg lettuce topping also seemed really awkward and too fast-food like for this venue.

I had originally wanted to try their other burger, The Industrial, which is a dry-aged brisket patty topped with cheddar cheese and onion jam, but thought the pork belly blend would be interesting. Next time, I’ll stick with my gut.

Burger Rating: “C”

Feel the Beet

So here it is: my final veggie burger post to wrap up Meatless March. It’s been a long, strange 31 days and appropriately enough, today’s veggie burger comes from Strangelove’s. I’ve already had one of their regular burgers before and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was really interested in trying their veggie burger, which is made with beets & lentils. I understand that beets are not for everyone (they’re gross, they taste like dirt, etc), but beets are another one of those foods I’ve eaten in the past year that I never liked before (oysters being the other) & have learned to love; it’s all about preparation (like the AMAZING beet tartare I had at Zahav)!

The veggie burger comes topped with a cucumber slaw & harissa mayo. It’s also super reddish-pink (because of the beets, duh)! Since I was eating brunch with a group, I was worried I was going to wind up with “toddler syndrome” (where whatever your eating winds up all over your face beyond your control) and just have a mouth covered in pinkish-reddish blotches (Thankfully, that’s what napkins are for!). The cucumber slaw added a great crispy texture to balance with the softness of the veggie patty, as well as a little bit of sweetness. The patty was moist and perfectly proportional to the bun, and the mayo gave it just enough of a spicy kick to dull down the “dirt” flavor, but not overpower it. Just a great overall array of flavors; I enjoyed it tremendously.

So which of the four veggie burgers I ate this month was my favorite? Honestly, I loved all of them! From the quick, no frills patty at HipCityVeg to the farm to table creation at Kennett, I sampled a pretty wide spectrum of veggie burgers, each with their own unique qualities. And just like snowflakes, no two veggie burgers were alike; each one was a perfect representation of the establishment that created it. I’m glad that I was able to show that you don’t have to just eat at some boring, organic, Portlandia-esque hipster vegan place to get a meal that tastes great (and also that veggie options can still fill you up the same as meat based ones) Hopefully my little meatless experiment inspired some of you to go on your own veggie burger expeditions. We’ll be back to eating meat again next week – and I’m drooling already just thinking about my first bite of a juicy, medium cheeseburger in over a month!

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