I’m shocked to be alive and writing this to you. Not only did I somehow survive the liver assault that is SXSW, but I also survived the most intense burger I’ve ever eaten.
Your Mom’s Burgers in East Austin specializes in cute language (condiments are called “bling”) and huge burger patties stuffed with all sorts of rich deliciousness, named after celebrities. After an afternoon of day drinking in the sun, I was starving and ready for some meaty indulgence.
I treated my arteries to the Willie Nelson: a 1/2lb burger stuffed with American cheese, tossed in honey BBQ sauce, wrapped in bacon, topped in a giant onion ring, covered in more special BBQ sauce, and served between two slabs of Texas toast. A cross shot:
Evanston, Illinois fast food restaurant Wiener and Still Champion (awesome name!) is already locally famous for their hunky cheeseburgers, fresh-cut french fries, and bacon-wrapped hot dogs. But now they’ve added a new menu item that deserves national attention.
For an extra charge of just $1.50, any burger on Wiener’s menu now comes with a thick patty of deep-fried gravy. The golden-brown crust of the patty adds a big crunch to the burger, and then on first bite, the hot gravy comes oozing out all over everything, ensuring each bite remains juicy and gravy-licious.
Another year gone by, another chance to look back fondly at the thousands of things we stuffed our faces with in 2011. After much internal debate, we’ve narrowed it down to just 10 — the very best new things we shoved in our mouths in 2011.
It’s America’s favorite meal — the state fair! Every year, the fairs across this great land compete with each other to invent bigger, badder, greasier fair food. But after Texas stepped up its game last year with deep fried beer, this thing hit a whole ‘nother level. The 2011 state and country fair foods have been more insane — and more amazing — than ever. Here are our top 10 favorite finds.
10. Chocolate Covered Corn Dog – Orange County Fair
In another strong showing for California’s other great fair — and originator of last year’s hash brown covered hot dog, San Diego debuts what is surely the trashiest food ever conceptualized. It’s just unclear why they didn’t wrap it in bacon. (Photo: Cuttlefish)
8. Deep Fried Butter on a Stick – Iowa State Fair
Texas may have invented deep fried butter at their own fair a few years back, but Iowa thought to put it on a stick. See, America, we can do great things when we work together. Yes, this involves frying an entire stick of butter, and yes, you simply have to watch the video for full effect.
7. Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack – Texas State Fair
The first of several entries from the Lone Star state, this monstrosity is a chicken strip, coated in pancake batter and jalapeño bread crumbs, then deep fried and…you guessed it — eaten on a stick. (Photo: State Fair of Texas)
6. Red Velvet Funnel Cake – Florida State Fair
Funnel cake has fallen behind on the list of outrageous fair foods recently. After fried beer and fried Coke, plain old fried dough starts to look pale by comparison. But this year we saw funnel cake get a new southern fried twist that injects some new life into it…and probably injects all kinds of chemicals too. Why eat fried dough when you can eat red fried dough? (Photo: Bob B. Brown)
I first heard about the concept of umami when I was helping to open a Japanese restaurant a few years back. During our training, the chef was telling us about the Japanese word umami, which is the “fifth taste.” After sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, what is left? What is the taste that will truly satiate? Apparently it is umami, which loosely translates to “pleasantly savory.” Fair enough.
Umami seems to be a rather intangible concept. If you so desire, take a look at its Wikipedia article, which has all sorts of tips on what foods contain “high amounts of umami” and uses a lot of science-y terms that overwhelm me. To me, umami is my unicorn of the food world. It has a mystical appeal, only made more desirable by the fact that I don’t know if I fully understand or believe in it. But am intrigued by its powers.
A small restaurant chain in LA, unsurprisingly named Umami Burger, has attempted to harness the power of umami. Many of my California friends rave about it. On the cover of the June issue of Food & Wine there is an amazing-looking burger; Patrick and I decided we had to make it, and upon inspection of the recipe, discovered it was an Umami Burger with Port and Stilton. Perfect!
Not that we wait until Memorial Day to pull out the grills, but the unofficial start of summer does mean it’s time to start getting serious about BBQ season. Need some help? Here are Endless Simmer’s top 10 favorite things to throw on the grill.