Archives for category: Burgers

There comes a time in every New Yorker’s life when you just need a little shake. And when your time comes, head over to Madison Square Park to, where else, Shake Shack. Danny Meyer’s take-out stand of burgers, shakes, and fries opened shop in 2004 and quickly became the destination for the kind of classic American food you usually find at roadside summer stands or boardwalks. It also reminds me of the A&W on Route 7 as you head south out of Middlebury, Vermont. There, you pull in in your car and are served by waitresses on roller blades who bring the food right to your car window! I’m convinced one can have nothing but good memories at these places.

This being Manhattan, the lines at the Shack are infamously long. So before heading over you can actually check out the Shack Cam, a real-time view of the line snaking through the southeastern part of Madison Square Park on 23rd Street.

Three former Phaidon coworkers were overdue for a lunch date, and since the weather forecast called for clear skies and warm sun, eating in the park seemed a no-brainer. (Although runners up on our list included ABC Kitchen and Boqueria). I’m not lucky enough to have “summer Fridays,” those coveted half-days some employers offer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but could skip out of work just long enough to wait in the 50-minute line and devour the Shack Burger (cooked medium, with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and something called ShackSauce) with crinkle fries.

My companions sampled the thick chocolate milkshake, lemonade, the New York dog, and ‘Shroom Burger (a crisp-fried portobello burger). Next time, I’ve decided, I will try the Concrete Jungle. The “Concretes” are “dense frozen custard blended at high speeds with toppings and mix-ins.”  The Concrete Jungle is no less than a high-speed blend of vanilla custard, hot fudge, bananas, and peanut butter (in other words, my food nirvana). But I will have to prepare for this mentally and physically and I didn’t feel up to the jungle today. Personally I think Shake Shack should also add a fish burger to its menu – a nice crispy fillet with homemade tartar sauce and lemon – don’t hold out on us Danny!

Shack Shake is the kind of place I wish I could take my grandma to. I think she’d love the frozen custard and the small, thin-style patty. But then again, I don’t think anyone in her generation could conceive of waiting in line for an hour for a burger, even a really great one.

Our friends Chie and Dean invited us to have lunch today at their place on 83rd and 1st. Should you have the good fortune to know them and ever be invited over, say yes.

Chie is one of these accomplished, self-taught home cooks that can dazzle and impress and make it all look effortless. I like to think I can impress on occasion, but make it look effortless? Not so much. Chie is an architect that moved to New York from Japan about six years ago. We met in the bathroom of the office building our companies shared. True story.

Her meals are more like feasts really, multi-course spreads that unfold from Japanese appetizers to clever interpretations of American classics. I didn’t know what to expect this afternoon but knew enough to come hungry.

Our co-companions lucky enough to share in the fun were Manuel, Satomi, and Dean’s cousin Leah. (Leah – I’m going to email you for that quinoa recipe; Manuel and Satomi: where is that chicken recipe?) At Chie’s, you dine around the living room table, on the floor, kneeling on pillows, in the Japanese style. The table clutters quickly with a cheese board, drink glasses, salad bowls, plates. It’s homey and festive and not fussy, which I love.

For our first course, we were served a beautiful salad of greens, cherry tomatoes, orange segments and shrimp. Before I could sop up the dressing at the bottom of the bowl, Dean swept in with bowls of steaming tomato fish chowder. It was the perfect afternoon for such a bowl of warm comfort – a gray, chilly spring day in Manhattan that called for something savory and nourishing. Garlicky, salty, packed with vegetables, this fish soup had flecks of creamy cod strewn throughout. I stopped listening to the conversation completely and focused on figuring out what all the ingredients were.

But before I could, Chie was making room on the table. I love this part. It means lunch isn’t over and there’s more deliciousness to come. Just when you think, OK, maybe Chie went easy on us this time, maybe we’re actually going to have a light lunch, or dinner. Then you realize you just finished your appetizers. Cue: stomach growl.

Out came a platter of mini beef burgers and fried cod burgers with pesto, served with a side of caramelized onions, on tiny brioche buns. The cod burger, which I had, was lightly battered with panko and pesto then fried in about 1/2 inch of oil. As I was licking my fingers, feeling satiated and starting to wind down the meal, more table clearing. I should’ve known. We’re being fed by Chie. Out comes Japanese pumpkin quarters with sweet potato piped on top. We made room on the table, I made room in my belly, and dug in. For dessert: classic Marino’s Italian ices from the corner deli. Phew – ice was about all I had room for.

Chie’s Fish Chowder

In a large stock pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil, then add 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped celery rib, 1 chopped fennel bulb, and 5 cloves minced garlic. Add 1 cup white wine, put the lid on, and let that steam for about 10 minutes.

When the vegetables soften, add either 4 c diced fresh tomatoes, or if no good fresh tomatoes around, 1 32-oz. can diced San Marzano tomatoes. Add fish stock (or chicken/veg. stock), about 2 c, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then turn down and let simmer for about a half hour. Shortly before serving add any type of white fish (cod works well) and once it starts cooking break it up with your spoon or a fork so it falls apart into the soup.

Once the fish is cooked, remove from heat and serve. Could also add fresh herbs if you have on hand. Basil would be good, chervil, tarragon, or chives. Serve with sliced crusty bread.

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