Do You Want Fries With That: Burger Bash Review 2011

Congratulations to Lee Schrager and his team for putting together an amazing event last night.

This recap is for all those who missed my Burger-vision tweets live from the event last evening, with new and improved, non-Blackberry produced images. *Mainly non-Blackberry… just realized we missed a few burgers while tweeting and eating.

As my first time attending the Bash I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I knew it would involve insane amounts of one of my favorite foods, the burger, and a chance to spy some of my favorite chefebrities, so I was beyond excited. Arriving via cab to the Ritz Carlton South Beach I was a little confused as to where to go based on the lack of signage. BF in tow (always nice to bring an extra photographer/tweeter/foodie) I followed the music and another couple to a sparsely lit walkway and queued up behind a mass of people. Note for next year: Try to arrive early. Pretend you are not in SoBe and it’s okay to be (gasp) early or at least on time, which we weren’t on either case. While I’m making notes… #2: Also, try to wear appropriate shoes for the sand. Not that my new DVF’s with wooden wedge heel and braided ties weren’t hot, I am assured they were, BUT maybe not beach appropriate. Luckily Lee Schrager and his team thought of everything. Especially the fact that many women attending were going to opt for fashion over function. Havaiana’s to the rescue! Every attendee was given a coupon that they could exchange for a free pair of the “world’s best rubber flip-flops”. Nice touch! Although, my anticipation of the succulent burger madness awaiting me (and BF too) within the now reachable tent overpowered any thought of another winding line, even if it may offer me a modicum of additional comfort. Mind over matter people, let me at those patties…

Ok, I’m going to confess here. I’m such a dork. I checked out the Lineup on eater.com and made notes for all the burgers (and sides) I knew I wanted to try in advance because I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through all the submissions, even after subsiding solely on earl grey tea and wheat crackers with almond butter all day. Yes, it IS that serious.

As a South Florida resident I had to check out my local restaurants first. We made a beeline to BLT Steak for the Butcher’s Burger: Peppercorn crusted grilled USDA burger with caramelized onions & aged cheddar cheese with hand cut fries. It was everything a good burger should be: moist slightly charred beef with the iconic onion and cheddar and a side of fries. An excellent first bite.

Next up: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink’s Genuine Bacon Egg and Cheeseburger: Heirloom tomatoes and quail egg added an upscale touch to this bacon white cheddar cheeseburger. This burger was paired with amazing fried cheese grit pops. I could’ve popped about 50 of those in my mouth if BF would’ve diverted Schwartz’s attention, but alas it was not so, and we had more burgers to sample…

The one I’ve been anticipating all day: Spike Mendelsohn with Good Stuff Eatery’s Colletti Smokehouse Burger: Beef patty topped with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, beer battered onion rings, chipotle BBQ on a potato bun. You had me at chipotle. This burger packed a mini punch of heat and the smoky and sweet flavors all blended together very nicely. Speaking of blended… this burger was paired with the most amazingly delicious toasted marshmallow milkshake (henceforth known as… mmm). Seriously? I love marshmallows. I didn’t even know a mmm was possible, but it is and it is magnificent! Also awesome: Spike serving dressed as the Hamburglar.

“I’m sorry you had to follow all that Good Stuff”: Love Shack’s Wild Love burger: Elk with foie gras, arugula, and huckleberry jam paired with manchego-serrano tater tots. An ambitious effort, but a little too complex for this burgerista. Love Shack, I did love your tots and cute logo-ed toothpick flags.

Back to Miami burgers: Bulldog Burger’s Black Truffle Burger with Brie Cheese and Crispy Pancetta. The name says it’s it all. And they are ALL my favorites. (Note: I love, love, love truffles. I have truffle oil, truffle butter, truffle salt, and the occasional actual factual truffle in my home. I don’t really cook either, but when I do, one ingredient is a mainstay. Yum!) Bulldog just bounced Good Stuff eatery for my favorite burger, but the mmm still retains a solid place in my heart. Bulldog, I will be back in the near future with an appetite. ETA: Also paired with cheddar tots. Mini potatoes stuffed with cheddar cheese, not your typical tot. Also delish.

The restaurant that I can walk to, but alas can never eat in…: Morimoto’s Nikomi Burger: Wagyu beer patty stewed in Morimoto sauce and topped with fried egg paired with a pickle. Boca Resort you will taunt me no longer, I have tasted Morimoto’s and deemed it delicious. I wonder if the Morimoto sauce is for sale, because it is insanely good. Going to Google in a minute… The wagyu beef really set this burger apart. I say step away from the chuck.

Another Iron Chef: Jose Garces’ Village Whiskey’s Village Burger: presented on a sesame roll with house-made thousand island dressing, tomato, and bibb lettuce. Paired with duck fat fried potatoes with duck gravy, duck confit and farmer’s cheese. These fries were other-worldly. I have a Canadian friend who always rambles on about poutine, and I never got it. George, I get it now. I really truly get it.

Third Iron Chef in a Row: Bobby’s (Flay) Burger Palace’s Napa Valley Burger Crunchified: Fresh goat cheese, watercress, meyer lemon honey mustard and potato chips on the bun. Yum. This mustard is sick! We have a new favorite, sorry Howie. BF and I are in agreement and Bobby’s leading the pack.

Most enticing presentation: The National’s National Burger: wood roasted burger with gruyere cheese, spicy pickles and the national secret sauce paired with gingered coleslaw. This burger was primed to be photo-ed and the gruyere cheese and secret sauce made it extra savory. Good looks and taste.

And… the final burger of the night: Michael Symon B Spot’s Yo! Burger: Burger with fried salami, provolone, shasha sauce and pickled onion. The sauce set this burger over the edge for us, and was a perfect end to our burger-quest. Bobby, you just may have a challenger…

After we were thoroughly satiated on red meat, it was time to fulfill my need for sweets, which as a general rule need to be consumed after any savory meal. Stop #1 Ciao Bello Gelato.

I opted for malted milk ball while BF chose butter pecan. Both were creamy, dreamy cups of deliciousness. But, after all those burgers only one sweet would suffice: chocolate. Rich, decadent chocolate. Luckily for us, Jacques Torres set up shop and we whisked off samples of a creamy chocolate rectangular creation with signature chocolate flag atop (Does anyone know: Was it cake or a mousse? I really couldn’t decide, but loved every bite!) and chocolate chip cookies.

The evening ended with the hotly anticipated awards presentation.

Best Dressed Burger: Michael Symon’s B Spot

Best Side Dish: Burger & Beer Joint (sadly I did not get to try their winning entry: Truffle baked potato salad. Seriously I missed out on truffles!!!!)

Judge’s Choice Award: Marc Murphy’s Landmarc (The Big Marc: All-beef hamburger on a homemade black pepper and cheddar bun with spiked ketchup and house made pickles)

And the People’s Choice Winner is… Michael Symon’s B Spot, who was incidentally also the 2010 winner.

Congrats to all the entrants. This foodie is full and on hiatus until tomorrow eve for the 10th Anniversary Let Them Eat Cake Party!

2 thoughts on “Do You Want Fries With That: Burger Bash Review 2011

  1. Pingback: South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2012: Pre-sale «

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