From a recommendation from a reader (hi newmi!), we ventured out to Madison Square Park (only a few blocks from our second hotel) one night to eat at the Shake Shack. It was already past 9pm and so we thought we’d we able to eat quite soon but what greeted us was a long line, snaking it’s way down the path and around all the tables! And the line stayed that long by the time we got to the head of the queue, about 45 minutes later.

Shake Shack

I ordered a Shackburger, French fries, and a regular Arnold Palmer to drink (half lemonade and half iced tea). I was given a pager and I went to find a place to sit. My pager buzzed about 10 minutes later and I went up to collect my box of food.

My Dinner

Mirna’s pager took a lot longer to buzz and then she took even longer to pick up her food. It turned out that they had just forgotten to set off her pager and so her food had been sitting there getting cold. They proceeded to cook her another burger (also a Shackburger) but her cheese fries were already soggy and beyond redemption. Well, we ended up splitting the first lukewarm burger, pushing us into very full territory and without any stomach space to try their famous frozen custard.

The first thing that came to my mind when I took a look at my burger was butter! The burger reeked of butter – it’s a butterburger, not a Shackburger. But the burger itself? It was very good, definitely not the best I’ve eaten, but not to be sniffed at. The fries were crisp and crinkle cut and were most likely from frozen. I have nothing against that – they were nice fries. The cheese fries were topped with an extremely rich cheese sauce (their menu says its a mixture of cheddar and American cheese) and would have been nicer had they been hotter and the fries crisper. If/when I’m next in New York, I’m going to try their frozen custard!

You know, I thought sitting in the park would be great, all fresh air and bbq party atmosphere. What I’d forgotten about were the um… critters. We sat at a table with some plants and midway through our meal, we saw and heard something rustling underneath all the foliage. A mouse emerged and shot between my legs (yes, I’m not too proud to admit that I squealed like a girl) and then proceeded to make a tour under all the other tables. Eeks!

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park, SE corner
enter at Madison Ave and 23rd St.
New York, NY

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

My brother and I were wandering around the downtown Vancouver area thinking about dinner but not wanting anymore Asian food. After wandering around for a bit (and passing many an Asian restaurant), we recalled a couple of burger joints on Denman near the beach at English Bay. We chose Fatburger over Vera’s Burger Shack. Orders are placed at the counter and your food is brought to your booth.

I had the Fatburger (a 1/3 lb burger) while my brother had the Kingburger (1/2 lb of beef!). These were fully dressed and were moist and very more-ish.

A Fatburger

The onion rings were excellent! The rings were coated in a breadcrumb mixture that made them seem less oily than their battered brothers. And of course, proper onion slices, not those fake reformed rings of chopped onion.

Onion Rings

The fries too were good – crisp with no hint of sogginess.

Thin Fries

Would I return? You bet! This is fast food I can get used to! (And I want to try their chili dog next.)

1101 Denman St.
Vancouver, BC
V6G 2M7

There are other locations around Canada and the United States.

A few weekends ago, when the weather was much better than it is now, I developed a craving for a burger but I didn’t feel like going out for one. I would have to make my own. While I had cooked ready prepared burgers from my farmers’ market, I hadn’t actually put them together from scratch and this is what I undertook that Sunday with only minced beef, salt and pepper.

Homemade Hamburger, with Cheese

Of course, for such simple burgers, where there’s no onion, herbs, spices, etc, mixed in, you’ll need to find the best quality mince you can find. If in doubt, get some steak and mince it yourself or get your butcher to do it. I found my mince at my local farmers’ market. Some fat is always good for both flavour and moistness.

I feel slightly ridiculous providing a recipe for burgers; for that reason, I’ll write more general instructions. For 2 nicely sized hamburgers, you’ll need about 300 – 350 g minced beef/steak. Season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix thoroughly. Form into 2 patties that are slightly larger than your bun (they’ll shrink as they cook). Heat your frying pan over medium-high heat and add a little bit of olive oil. If you have a stovetop grill or barbecue, use it! Fry the patties until done to your liking. I left them to get lovely and brown on either side and ended up with them cooked to a perfect medium.

If you want to add cheese, have some sliced up and ready. I used Double Gloucester as that’s all I had in the fridge. Halfway through cooking the second side of the burgers, I added the cheese on top and then covered the pan. A minute later and they had melted wonderfully.

Hamburger Bite

I ate these with salad and homemade chunky oven chips. Oh, and some of Miss Stoneham’s homemade tomato ketchup. However, I can understand the want to embellish burgers like these with more toppings. Mustard? Sliced pickles? Or perhaps push the boat out a little further with slices of bacon or chorizo? Avocado? Guacamole? Onion? A fried egg?! What do you like on your burgers?

Loco moco…sounds “crazy”, doesn’t it?! This unique Hawaiian dish is quite popular over in Hawaii but not very well known in the rest of the world. Its components are neither exotic nor difficult to procure – hamburger, egg, gravy, rice – yet for some reason, it has intrigued me ever since I first read about it. I had to make it. And yes, it was good! It’s a comforting meal that’s easy to make on a weekday after work.

Loco Moco

Loco Moco
serves 2.

enough cooked white rice for 2
2 hamburger patties
2 eggs
oil (I use sunflower)
1 tbsp flour
1 cup beef stock, or stock from a cube
salt and pepper

You can either make your own hamburger patties or do what I did and just purchase them. There’s a stall at my farmer’s market that sells some quite nice ones. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and fry your hamburgers until done to your liking. Remove and keep warm. Either add more oil to the pan or remove oil – whatever you do, leave about 1 – 1.5 tbsps of oil in the pan. Add the flour and cook together until the roux darkens, stirring constantly with either a whisk or a spatula. Add the broth, whisking or stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you have a separate pan, fry your eggs in it. If not, decant your gravy into a bowl and keep warm. Use the same pan to fry your eggs. I like them over-easy.

To put it together, on each plate or shallow bowl, place enough rice for 1 person. Top with a hamburger patty and top that with a fried egg. Pour gravy overtop. Dig in!

We had some garlicky spinach on the side to, you know, be somewhat healthy!