On a cool crisp autumn evening in Manhattan, an industrial-sized elevator lifted you to the rooftop of pier 92 on the Hudson River, and when those metal doors opened your nostrils were immediately filled by the sweet rich scent of chargrilled meat. But at the 7th annual Burger Bash, one of the best events thrown by Food Network's New York City Wine & Food Festival, the aromas are merely the beginning. What could quite possibly be better than some of the best chefs and restaurateurs New York has to offer battling it out for bragging rights by presenting their best take on the burger and all you can drink Blue Moon beer? And the answer to that question, are the highlights you bit into.
With the warm twinkle of the of the city skyline behind you, the sound of the river eclipsed by a fantastic cover band that filled the night air, and bumping into the event's hosts Pat LaFrieda and Rachael Ray, as well as the likes of Christian Slater, Adam Richman, Mo Rocca, Anne Burrell, and Andrew Zimmern, the stars at Burger Bash were out and in your favor. But it was the burgers that truly shinned brightest.
Ramen burger is not a fad. You know about it because you should. And if you haven't yet experienced Keizo Shimamoto's creation, well, you should as well. The chuck is freshly ground and the shoyu glaze that coats the patty just makes it shine so sweetly. The tightly formed ramen noodle "bun" that's lightly browned on the flat top, holds together even as you bite through it, and loosens up only upon chewing. It's unique and all the more important, it's tasty.
So was Chef Michael Toscano's perfectly cooked slider which came with a sharp hit of caciocavallo cheese, pickled escarole and chopped roasted tomatoes sandwiched between a perfect potato bun which provided such a balanced lightness to the meat it surrounded. Served with tots that would give Napoleon Dynamite good reason not to want to share, the man behind Perla and Montmartre was manning the grill all night to a line of guests that seemed to never disperse.
And then there was Shake Shack. Danny Meyer's ubiquitous chain which so easily can be looked upon as a simple fast food burger, was anything but. Their MeisterShack American cheese burger that was topped with crispy beer marinated shallots and shack sauce served on a potato bun, was the best bite of the night. And the fact that they were serving full burgers, not quarters, not halves, or sliders, enabled you to take lots of them. The sweetness of those crunchy fried shallots that were dusted with salt, managed to extrude even more flavor from the molten cheese and the fantastic meat that we've all come to love. If there was room in your stomach after sampling the thirty burgers that were being showcased, this would be the one you came back to have seconds of. It was really that good.
As for the judges' pick for high honors, Marc Murphy's Lamb-Marc burger made from a spiced ground lamb with a fresh mint chimichurri reigned supreme. And Josh Capon's caramelized onions and bacon jam topped American cheeseburger from Burger and Barrel took the people's choice award and the $2000 prize that came with it.
And with that, it's time for a diet. At least until the next NYCWFF event.