Fast to Fancy – NYC Food is Fab!

Ciao Readers!

So, as I sit here in Lucca Italy on a rainy Sunday and try and think deep thoughts (time to think = large part of my motivation for this trip), I’ve decided a light-hearted blog about food (what else?!) fits the bill until I have something more profound to share….

Every time I go to New York I am overwhelmed (in a “I wish I had more room in my stomach” way) by all the food choices. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d be adrift without a steady supply of New Mexico green chile (everything’s better with it – including matzo ball soup!), but it’s a big wonderful world full of food out there and no matter what you want, New York has it (in contrast, NM does not have any of the following things we enjoyed on our trip): Octopus cooked to perfection? -check. NYC style pizza and linguini with clam sauce? -check. Lobster rolls to rival Maine? -check. Korean food court? -check. Egg bagel with whitefish salad? -check. 100+ year-old Italian bakery with tricolor cookies? -check.  Shake Shack? -check and check! But instead of continuing to drool in my mind, I’ll “share” some of these delicacies with you – Bon appetite!

Two subways and a walk for the tri-color cookies of my dreams (and some requested pignoli cookies for our friend Sue, formerly of NYC) – totally worth it:

Carbo-loading before the NYC half at our perennial favorite, John’s – YUM!

An expedition to Food Gallery 32 in “Koreatown” for spicy squid and bibimbap:

Our splurge lunch at Marea on the outskirts of Central Park (I didn’t have the chutzpah to pull out my camera too often in this place, but here’s the best thing we had – from the menu – “POLIPO – grilled octopus, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, radish, chilies, tonnato”):

A trip to a hip new food court, where Luke’s Lobster serves a mean lobster roll (i.e. butter soaked bun filled with sweet and tender lobster):

And, of course, the joy of once again requietting my new-found love of a “fast food” burger – SHAKE SHACK!

Thanks for reading (and dream-eating with me)!!!

The Shake Shack Saga Continues (do-it-yourself version)

Ciao Readers!

So, that last post really exacerbated my longing for a Shake Shack burger (and I am glad I amused at least one of you who knows I was a long-time vegetarian).  I confess that I am one of those people who, once they get an idea in their head, can’t let it go until they make it come to fruition.  Which brings me to my current quest to replicate the illusive magical burger at home.

Fortunately for me, a writer for Epicurious already did the hard part – deciphering exactly how and what goes into making the perfect faux Shake Shack burger.  Now, all that was left for me to do was to track down the exact ingredients and replicate the process.  Okay, let’s take a time-out here – do you think I’m nuts at this point? Do rationale people go through all of this over food?  Have I been permanently psychologically damaged by watching too much Food Network?  In any case…

I think it’s the buns that make the burger, and fortunately, Shake Shack buys buns that anyone (anyone who lives on the East Coast) can buy at their grocery, Martin’s Potato Rolls.  For those of us in New Mexico, the internet does the trick (as I write this I am tracking my buns’ trip from Pennsylvania).  The rest of the ingredients are things you can find at most groceries (though be sure to buy really good quality, thick, fresh, crispy pickles; the ones I found at Sprouts are pictured below).  I did have to get the butcher to grind the meat for me as you need 3/4 to 1/4 sirloin to brisket (am I sounding nuts again?) but other than that, really no sweat. (The butcher did ask me why in the world would I need ground brisket, and no, he had no clue what Shake Shack is.)

So, as soon as those buns get here, we’ll conduct the experiment, take pictures and report…. (for those of you who know I have to get my gallbladder out and that I shouldn’t be eating fatty foods, rest assured I am only going to try a bite, just to sate my taste for now; after that I’ll just watch Steve enjoy his).

[Two days later]  Yay! The mail lady just delivered the buns!!!  Hmmmm……..seems I accidentally ordered mini slider-sized ones (pictured below), so I guess our burgers won’t be 100% spot on, but serendipitously bite-sized – and boy do these buns feel soft!  Only 2 days till the weekend and our test run.  Stay tuned…

[Two more days later] Okay, today’s the day!  So, I made the secret Shack sauce, Steve mixed the meats I had previously ground by the butcher, I opened the jar of pickles and got the fresh veggies ready.  Then, we properly smashed and grilled the burgers, buttered and browned only the insides of the buns and lastly added cheese to Steve’s……..and………drumroll please………..voila!!!!!  Do they taste like my dreams you ask?

……Almost.  They were without a doubt the best homemade burgers we’ve ever made.  The buns were oh so soft, the meat nice and caramelized on the outside, the pickles fresh and crisp and the secret sauce yummy.   But something from my dreams was missing – the fact that the last two times we had these burgers we were on fabluous vacations and someone else made them for us!!!   So, if you are asking is it worth the effort to make these burgers, the answer is an unequivocal “YES.”   But, if you ever have the chance to go on a fabulous trip AND eat a Shake Shack burger – even better!

Here’s how we did it (notice my improving photo-staging techniques):











My Semi-Requited Love (of Shake Shack burgers)

Ciao Readers!

If you’re been reading my blog, you know that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about, watching tv shows about, searching out, and cooking food.  I am not sure if that makes me a “foodie,” a “food snob” or something else less complimentary and more Freud-diagnosable.  In any case, I care deeply about what I eat and usually try to avoid anything not delicious.

Which brings us to our January trip to New York.  I kept hearing about Shake Shack – on food tv, in magazines, etc.  Let me preface this by saying that a fast-food hamburger is extremely far down on my list of culinary sins – while I’ll admit I enjoy a fajita from Taco Cabana on occasion, I pretty much never eat fast food hamburgers (I worked at McDonald’s as a teenager – ‘nough said).   BUT, I just kept hearing about these darn Shake Shack burgers – they sounded so “foodie” for a chain….

So, we’re in New York and not that far from one of the many Shake Shacks in town (they started in NY)…unlike me, Steve does appreciate a fast-food hamburger now and again (and again)….so, I figured he could eat one and tell me what all the fuss was about!  Since it was, as you recall, 8 degrees out, most New Yorkers were hunkered down and the line and wait was not the 45 minutes+ I’d heard about, but a more manageable 10-15.   And then the burger came….and it looked so appetizing…and smelled so good….and Steve started making “YUM” sounds….so of course I had to try a bite for myself….

OMG!   I swear I don’t know what it is about those burgers, but they are STUPID DELICIOUS!!!!   I was sooooo sad at that point that I hadn’t ordered my own burger…and I left with that unsatisfied feeling you have when you’re craving something you can’t (or shouldn’t) have.   Seriously – I could not stop thinking about that burger and how I really wanted one of my very own.  Unfortunately, it was our last day in New York, so I was forced to leave with my craving left un-sated.  But like an unrequited love, I could not get that burger off my mind and I knew I would not rest until it was mine….

Which brings us to our Spring Break road trip.  Sometime before that trip I had been on Shack Shack’s website reading the ingredients and trying to glean what makes their burgers unlike any I have ever had.  (It seems to be an un-replicable combination of high quality meat, Martin’s potato rolls, a thousand-island-esque sauce, crispy fresh pickles… and MAGIC!)  And, what do you know, there’s an announcement that a new Shake Shack just opened in the NY, NY hotel in Las Vegas, which just happens to be one of the places we were driving to on our upcoming road trip!!!

We got into Vegas just about dinner time and headed straight to Shake Shack.  I was worried that the reality of the burger would not live up to the taste in my imagination, and that after pining away for almost 3 months I would be disappointed (how could it really be that good?!).  But it was even better than I dreamt (how many things can you say that about?!).  As a matter of fact, Steve and I unabashedly decided we would come back for lunch the next day (11:00 is late enough to be called “lunch,” right?).  And ya know what – just as delicious and magical as the day before!

And now, here I sit at my desk, nowhere near a Shake Shack, pining away for my once-requited love, but facing the fact that it is once again unrequited….

Ya know how the burgers on t.v. (Carl’s Jr. for instance) always look 1,000 times better than they do in real life?  These are our actual Shack Shack burgers (insert inappropriate YUM noises and drool here):

shakeshackburgers

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