Tag Archives: burgers

Beaujolais & Burgers Really Are A Perfect Pair

I was lucky enough to attend the press tasting for last week’s Beaujolais & Burgers event, hosted by renowned wine merchant Georges DuBoeuf and wine writer Mark Oldman.  The event was quite a success, proving that Beaujolais and burgers really are a fantastic pairing.

The press tasting was very comprehensive, as we sampled 6 varieties of Beaujolais, paired with burgers from 4 excellent Philly restaurants: Alfa, 500 Degrees, Rouge, and Spiga.

Mark Oldman began the tasting by explaining Beaujolais’ flavor profile, describing it as  a white wine straddling a red, meaning it has a lighter mouthfeel than most reds because it has less tannins. Beaujolais also tends to be very fruit forward, with notes of raspberry, cherry, strawberry, and black currant.  Unlike most reds, Oldman also recommends serving Beaujolais chilled, further highlighting its similarity to whites.

Of the 6 wines we tried, my favorites were the Georges Duboeuf Brouilly 2011 (pronounced broo-ey, $14.99) and the Georges Duboeuf Morgon Domaine Jean Descombes 2011 ($15.99).  Both are examples of affordable yet high quality wine.  The Brouilly was on the lighter, refreshing side, while the Morgon was full to medium bodied, with more pronounced red and black fruit flavors.  Both the Brouiily and Morgon paired nicely with the burgers, cutting through the richness of the meat.

And now, onto the burgers.  My two favorites of the night were 500 Degrees and Spiga.  500 Degrees cooked their burger to perfection, leaving the thick patty a lovely pink in the middle.  Topped with arugula, bacon, tomato, and a sunny side up egg, it was definitely very decadent and not for the faint of heart.  Spiga’s burger offered a completely burger experience.  With a much thinner patty, topped with herbed goat cheese, a sweet caramelized onion mostarda, applewood bacons, and sauteed spinach, Spiga’s burger was a success.  I was surprised that all of the accompaniments worked so well together, and did not overwhelm the flavor of the burger.  For more detailed descriptions of all the burgers, see Two Eat Philly and Burger Eaters‘ takes on the evening, who frankly, might be better qualified to evaluate these burgers than me!

Many thanks to Georges Duboeuf, and CRT/tanaka for organizing such a great event!  I definitely left with a much deeper knowledge of the wonders of burgers and Beaujolais

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Burger Bonanza

The B.I.G. Poppa at Ray's Hell Burger

Last week, I attempted to be a vegetarian—and failed miserably. I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult, since I tend to cook vegetarian meals most of the time anyway. But after a full week of subsisting on salads, sweet potato risotto, and roasted brussel sprouts (recipes to follow in a later blog post), I suddenly developed a serious craving for red meat. And boy, do I mean SERIOUS—I had dreams of devouring thick, juicy burgers and steaks for days.

On Saturday night, I decided it was time to end my short stint as a vegetarian and indulge my craving for red meat. My boyfriend (who was shocked I suggested we go out for burgers) and I excitedly headed to Ray’s Hell Burger in Rosslyn, known for its thick burgers, gourmet fixings, and bargain prices. Ray’s Hell Burger also gained a lot of publicity last March, when President Obama and VP Joe Biden made stopped in for an unannounced lunch visit. (On a side note, I love that we have a foodie First Family.)

Inside Ray's HB

Ray’s Hell Burger is located in a mini mall/restaurant row on Wilson Blvd., Rosslyn’s main drag. It’s right next to Pho 79 (another of my favorite haunts) and Guajillo, a festive Mexican cantina (more on this later in the post). Though short on ambience, it more than makes up for this shortcoming with its flavor packed burgers.

The menu offers a basic burger ($6.95) with your choice of gourmet toppings which range from charred jalepenos to Ray’s Heck Sauce. The basic burger can be cooked in various styles, including blackened with Cajun spices, Diablo grilled (brushed with a spicy chipotle marinade), and au poivre with a black peppercorn crust. Other fancier toppings are available at an additional charge: imported double cream brie ($1.50), roasted bone marrow with persillade ($5.00), and seared foie gras with truffle oil ($10.00) to name a few.

The counter at Ray's: clearly they thought I was crazy

There are also signature Ray’s burgers, all of which have clever names (I was definitely cracking up while reading the menu). I absolutely had to order the B.I.G. Poppa ($7.95; pictured above) when I saw it on the menu: not only for the hilarious name (the caption reads, “We like it when you order B.I.G. Poppa), but also for the delicious combination of ingredients. The B.I.G. Poppa is an au poivre (black peppercorn crusted) burger with cognac and sherry sauteed mushrooms, grilled red onions, and aged Danish bleu cheese, all on a grilled warm bun.

From the moment I tasted the B.I.G. Poppa, it was pretty much love at first bite–and confirmed that I am, in fact, a lifelong carnivore. The crackly peppercorn crust subdued the intense flavor of the bleu cheese, which allowed the flavor of the meat to really shine. Ray’s Hell Burger uses trimmings from its sister restaurant, Ray’s the Steaks (which is also AMAZING), in its burgers, so the patty is extra thick, juicy, and flavorful. The cognac and sherry mushrooms and grilled red onions added a decadent touch to an already luxurious burger, and the lettuce and tomato added a hint of freshness. I washed the burger down with a 16oz glass of the on-draft root beer ($2.00)—not too sweet, and perfect with the burger.

The Soul Burger

My boyfriend ordered the Soul Burger Number One ($8.95), dubbed “the hardest working burger in chow business.” The Soul Burger comes with applewood smoked bacon, swiss cheese, cognac and sherry sautéed mushrooms, and grilled red onions. In my opinion, it paled in comparison to the B.I.G. Poppa, but it was still delicious nonetheless. I could definitely taste the quality of the ingredients in every bite: the bacon was thick and not too smoky, the swiss cheese mildly nutty, the mushrooms earthy, and the grilled onions sweet. We also split an order of large fries, which were crispy and golden–but it was clear that the burgers were the stars of the meal.

After our burger bonanza, I was stuffed. I looked at my boyfriend and declared, “I’m so full, I’m miserable!” He agreed. But somehow…we still managed to have room for dessert.

Sopapillas at Guajillo

My boyfriend spotted sopapillas on Guajillo’s (pronounced Wa-hee-yo) menu and demanded we order it for dessert. Sopapillas are fried bread puffs drizzled with honey–almost like a churro minus the sugar and cinnamon. Guajillo serves theirs with a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream–a steal for $7. The sopapillas were definitely enough for 2 people (the waiter laughed when I asked whether we should order 2) and a delicious deep fried ending to a fabulous night.

Ray’s Hell Burger

1713 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209
(703) 841-0001

Guajillo

1727 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209-2503
(703) 807-0840

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