Beer, Ball, Burgers
If it's one thing we Americans know how to do, it's fry up a perfect burger. The French oughta take a page from the Brass Ring's cookbook.
So the New York Times food section today leads with this story: In Paris, American-style hamburgers are the new Homard a l'Americaine. "Celebrated chefs" are getting in on the act. Not only that, they have to go all Marquis de Sade on us, like eating a hamburger is something akin to deflowering pubescent Catholic schoolgirls:
“It has the taste of the forbidden, the illicit — the subversive, even,” said Hélène Samuel, a restaurant consultant here. “Eating with your hands, it’s pure regression. Naturally, everyone wants it."
Oh, la, la. Take a look at the picture, it's just wrong! The burger in the photo is way too big, much too dry, and.... what the fuck is that on the plate with it? A salad?
Ms. A and I were so bummed and perplexed by the idea of Parisians eating megaburgers flavored with thyme and fleur de sel that we hightailed it up to the Brass Ring Pub in North Palm Beach.
The Ring has been open, run by the same family, since 1986, and it has served the perfect bar burger for just about that long. Here's a half pound of grilled beef, purchased from a neighboring butcher, Nebraska Meats. The cooks shape the burgers by hand and throw them on a grill (they're cooked in sight, right behind the bar) heated with lava rocks that impart a subtle smokey flavor. Then they melt a slice or two of cheese on the thing, pop it on a thin, just slightly crunchy sesame bun with a little tomato, onion, and lettuce, and throw it into a red plastic basket with a mess of crinkly fries.
Here's what they don't put on it. Blackberrry ketchup. Foie gras. Fines herbes. And they don't charge 35 freaking euros for it either.
Price at Brass Ring? Six American Dollars and Fify-Five American Cents.
And your burger comes with a side of baseball on the eight TVs, a game of pool on the tables in the back, and the greatest hits of Stevie Ray Vaughn on the jukebox. Not to mention a tres delicieux cast of characters:
Yuengling on tap, and the best fried clam strips and chicken wings in this part of the good ol' US of A.