House Burger

The House Burger here:

Just under a cup of meat. Barely handled, rolled into a ball and salted. Then refrigerated. The metal spatula goes into the freezer. Hot cast iron pan. The meatball goes down and is smashed with the cold spatula. Three minutes for the first side. Flip. One round slice of brie goes down. Three more minutes.

A lightly toasted whole wheat bun is slightly gooed with mayo, then applied with fresh-cracked pepper. Burger goes down. Please note, I do not let burgers “rest.” Condiments include pickled red onions. Mustard. And a dollop of Crystal hot sauce in the center.

That would be the house burger in my restaurant. And my burgers would not be huge. Normal sized burgers. $3. Sides extra. I’d probably go out of business in a month.

Method notes:

Burgers should not rest. They should go right on the bun. The purpose of resting is to allow the meat to readjust its pressure so that juice doesn’t run all out when you carve. This is a burger. JUICE RUNNING OUT OF THE BURGER AND ALL OVER MY BEAUTIFUL BEARD IS THE ENTIRE POINT. I do not rest burgers. I bun and dress them immediately and gobble them.

I do not weigh the beef. Weighing means you have to handle the meat more. I measure by volume so I am handling it as little as possible.

Burger presses are delicous burger death. Burgers should be packed loosely with as little interaction with hands or tools as possible. I want the bites falling into my mouth, and I want the yummy juicy fat to be able to travel as it cooks. You do not get that effect by packing the meat tightly into a mold.

I want the meat cold and the things touching the meat to be cold. This is how you create a juicy juicy burger. Cold meat. Hot skillet. Do not allow the meat to get up to room temp. Warm meat means more of the the yummy fatty juicy leaves the burger. Cook it cold. You deserve it.

Palmer’s sells 75 – 25 meat. Can you believe it? If you can find that, buy it. I wouldn’t use it in chili, but for burgers, it’s beyond perfect. This debunks the notion that you have to grind your own. You sure don’t. Find a good product from a local provider you trust and buy that.

Hungry yet?

Cedar Mediterranean Restaurant

I must talk to you about the Cedar Mediterranean Restaurant. At 746 Monroe Ave. In Rochester.

You know. Next to Hollywood Wine & Spirits. That place.

I see many of you have heard of it. I was in there Saturday with my folks, and I must say, business has picked up.

Do you like felafel?

Hummus?

A really good gyro?

This place.

The first time I went, I got the gyro. It’s not like any gyro you’ve had. For starters, it’s on a freshly-made pita.

That’s right. Cedar Mediterranean Restaurant makes its own pita.

The gyro is handily built. The lettuce. The veggies. The meat. The tzedziki! It is a beautiful sandwich and when you have one the only regret you might have is that maybe you should have tried the felafel.

Your intuition regarding that issue is correct.

The way I see it, felafel is like a hand of blackjack. Undercooked, it may be mooshy and gross (I have had felafel prepared this way at a chain restaurant here that rhymes with Feeta Fit). If it is overcooked, it may be dry and mealy. So, felafel is pretty unforgiving.

The fine chefs at Cedar Mediterranean Restaurant understand this. And, therefore, they land it perfectly.

I have never had such a good felafel pita. Again, it is a solidly-built sandwich with a melange of vegetables and sauce that will win your allegiance. It sure did mine. Sucker has me itching to get back and eat another one.

But don’t miss the hummus. It’s made the right way, unlike that junk you’re buying at Tops. They don’t skip on the sesame nor the lemon nor the fragrant olive oil. If you don’t get enough pita to go with this platter, that’s okay.

You’ll just have to lick the plate.

(Do a fork test before downing the olive garnish. It’s likely not pitted.)

I am here to tell you that Cedar Mediterranean Restaurant is my new favorite thing.

Did I mention the baklava to go?

No?


In related news, look what I found. America’s Test Kitchen. Cast iron. Oh yeah.

The Democratic ‘Brand’ Is Pretty Good

This is Anderson Cooper recently interviewing erstwhile presidential candidate Bernie Sanders:

The appearance has made waves for Sanders’ sharp-shooting contribution to the circular firing squad now occurring in large part due to the Democrats’ failure to win a special election in Alpharetta and Marietta, Georgia. Democrats are slapping their own heads over this like Crazy Eyes on OITNB due to the loss due in large part to the obscene amounts of money both sides poured into the contest.

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan has taken to blaming Speaker Nancy Pelosi and calling for her head. Also in a CNN interview, Ryan said: “The brand is just bad. I don’t think people in the beltway are realizing just how toxic the Democratic Party brand is in so many parts of the country.”

All this unhealthy self-loathing because, surprise, surprise, Democrats didn’t win in freaking Alpharetta, Georgia?

I first resent this term “brand” being brought into play in discussing the Democratic Party. We are not selling soap. There is no need to bend like thistles to this corporate language being used to blithely discuss one of the most vital policy-making organizations in the United States. It’s not a brand. I am surprised at Sanders for getting into the trenches and succumbing to this troublesome framing.

But let’s take a closer look at Sanders’ stabby stabby work on the Democratic Party. Here is the entire litany of issues Sanders vomited out during this brief interview, placed into proper context in regards to the “pretty bad brand” of the Democratic Party.

I think this anguished self-flagelation on the part of Democrats is boring. But when it comes from the guy who ran behind the Democratic gonfalon as an “independent,” I think with the then-naiive blessing of the Democratic Party, it is downright troublesome. Bernie Sanders stayed in the 2016 race too long and became left channel to Trump’s right channel to create an assertion in stereo that the “system is rigged,” and this precisely at the most crucial moments in that crucial campaign when the best outcome for progressives would have been to have elected the Democratic nominee.

Tell me President Clinton would have emboldened Congress to drastically cut Medicaid and to gut the Affordable Care Act. Tell me President Clinton would have withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. Tell me President Clinton would have blurted out code-name intelligence to Russian spies in the Oval Office. Tell me President Clinton would have tried to ban an entire faith from entering the country and had that initiative struck down by judge after judge.

The Democratic “brand” is just fine, bro. Though I think it could use just a little less of you.

The Soul Sessions

As my DOD, my Uncle Hat, and I were walking back to the car after going to a terrific Joss Stone show in the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, a guy drove up and asked us, essentially, how to get to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

I pointed to the general direction of East Avenue and kept walking.

I kicked myself shortly thereafter because I may never, ever again in my life have such an opportunity to real-life deliver one of the greatest punchlines in the history of jokes:

“PRACTICE, MAN. PRACTICE.”

I will be kicking myself for EONS for missing that fabulous opportunity. I, who never lets a “no, but if you hum a few bars” pass, usually to the bewilderment of the youngsters I work with, I, who have become a knee-jerk for “that’s what she said” opportunities; I had perhaps the one and only chance I will ever have to lay down a practice-man-practice, and I blew it.

I am ashamed.

But Joss, man. Joss. I mean, I am not a fierce Joss Stone fan. I clutched up The Soul Sessions when it came out and enjoyed the unique and, yes, sexy as can be quality of her voice; then I noticed ranting that she had this Betty Wright person on her personnel and as a result became a rabid fan of Ms. Betty Wright. So, if I am a fan of Joss Stone for anything, it is for turning me on to the Clean Up Woman.

So I am not a fierce Joss Stone fan. I am familiar with a mere few of her songs. Yet her show was a delight.

There was always a reported energy about this person, a contemporary soul performer who nonetheless embraced a Woodstock aesthetic. Performs barefoot (and yes, she does). Think Dharma of Dharma & Greg if Jenna Elfman could sing like seven of your favorite soul music godesses, starting with Aretha and ending with Ms. Betty Wright. I eschewed the honorific “diva” for a reason. Joss Stone is no diva.

I cannot name most of the playlist but “Super Duper Love,” for which she coerced us all to stand up and dance, and which I ended up doing despite my nature. Joss Stone is lovely, infectious, and fun, and if you don’t fall in love with her a little bit at least once during her show, then out the airlock with you, Cylon.

Round it all out with an encore of “Son of a Preacher Man” and you’ve got a show doc. I think my DOD only fell asleep like three times.

Practice, man. Practice.

Don’t Fool Yourself. It’s Winkin’ At You.

So many things. Let’s start with this.

This is a training week at work. As such, one’s eyes wander, and mine today noticed the following sign on a co-worker’s cubicle:

“DOCUMENT LIKE COMEY.”

Heh.


I keep seeing articles on the Interwebs like this one at Vox saying, essentially, oh no, Mr. Bill, the Republicans are finally going to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Look out.

Here’s the thing, kids. They already have.

See, President Obama understood a fundamental thing about health care reform in these Untied States. He understood fundamentally that legislation alone was not enough to affect reform. He understood that the legislation would only be effective as the policy it manifested. “Obamacare” understood, for example, that you can’t demand that insurance companies stop screwing with people with “pre-existing” conditions unless the policy worked to make the pool larger, and that the only way to do that was to bring younger, healthier folks to the table. Thus the mandate. Plus, you had to offer the insurance companies a bridge to walk until transition happened from this pool to that pool. Thus, the vital corridor payments, which were meant to provide certainty to these corporate persons, to pay out to those who took too many cuts because they can no longer screw people whose only crime was to have a cancer or a sneeze before trying to become insured.

Marco Rubio killed the risk corridor payment.

Plus you had states out-and-out refuse the Medicare expansion and participation in the exchanges, which was stupid and drove free money out of those states, and lack of participation in the exchanges led to a heavier load on the federal Web site for registering people, which led it to fail, but did you see President Obama tweet about the “losers” who were slapping the ACA’s ass to pinkish? No. You did not.

So the risk corridor payments ended. And then you saw companies leave the exchanges and raise rates. And then the Republicans began claiming that the ACA was “imploding.”

The Affordable Care Act would have been an excellent reform had it been allowed to work. It addressed not only the law but the policy that followed. That is what made it so smart. That is what made its potential to work so powerful.

It was good policy. Therefore, Republicans hate it.

You can’t just make a law that says that you get to keep your kid on the health care dole until they are 26. You don’t get to dismantle the whole infrastructure of “Obamacare” and keep the things people like. You don’t get to do those things unless your legislation is backed up by policy. Anything the Republigoats pass here won’t do that. The ACA did that.

That is why the Senate Republigoats won’t let it see the light of day.

Because all they have is a “repeal.”

They don’t have a “replace.”

They never will.

Wrist-watch. Crisco.


Driving for Democrats

If you have to canvass for your local political entity of your choice, always have a driver.

It makes the work much more light. If you’re driving yourself, you have to drive, navigate, and plot the next course all at the same time. If you have a driver, you are free as navigator alone. It makes for a more effective campaign overall.

I know this because I am the driver.

My Dad is active in his local Democratic Party. You may recall I was tapped by him to march recently in their parade, touting Mendon Town Board candidates Erin Kehaley-Corr and Terry Daniele. During that parade, one of them told me how highly she thinks of my DOD for the work he does and for the man he is. I wholeheartedly agreed.

My Dad has always understood the importance of this work; something he learned from his Dad. I mean, it’s just 20 signatures for town board today, you might think. But this is the important work. This is where rubber meets road. And I’m glad to be chauffer for it.

Especially these days. Did you hear him?

“He’s new to government. So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” said Paul Ryan.

Sorry, pal. Your man does not get a pass on that, not when he went around the country screaming bloody murder over President Clinton’s tarmac summit with then Attorney General Loretta Lynch. I mean, if it’s true that the Preznit is such a screw-up because he’s “new to this,” sit him down next weekend to binge-watch season one of “The West Wing.”

He’ll learn everything he needs to know.


I find it interesting how many people echo a reflection I’ve had regarding the passing this week of Adam West at age 88.

That Adam West was “my Batman.”

I think when I first saw the “Batman” show of the late sixties, it was at my friend Jason’s house. I was probably five or six years old. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I mean they opened up the bust like it’s a Pez dispenser and push a button, then they run back to the poles and slide down them and, somehow, by the time they reach the bottom, they’ve CHANGED CLOTHES?

Now I was always a Superman guy. Until I saw West and Burt Ward on the TV, I didn’t have much use for The Batman. It was these guys, and probably Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman and definitely Yvonne Craig’s Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, cha-cha-cha, that got me into the Bat.

Here’s to Adam West, the greatest to ever don the cowl.


Here’s a mind-blowing fact for you: Was visiting adopted grandparents today. Harry had switched to The Drew Carey Show. The episode centered on Drew’s girlfriend Nikki’s concerns that she was getting fat. I kept looking at her face and going, I know that face. I know that actress. I’ve seen that face emote some pretty heavy things. Who is she? Who is she? Who is she?

That was Kate Walsh.

Also known as Dr. Addison Montgomery (Shepherd) on Grey’s Anatomy.

Mind blown.