Vanilla Infused

Seems like the perfect match–freshly tapped maple syrup and Madagascar vanilla. There are a few recipes I can immediately think of that would benefit from a warmed topping of D&D's new infused syrup; like my steamy belguim waffles, holiday maple cookies or hot stack of flapjacks! Thumbs up!

Suggested Companion Recipes:

George's Belguim Waffles

Stack of Choc Chip Griddle Cakes

Say Cheese

It's no secret, among those that have seen my TV shows how much fondness I hold for my friends in Ireland. It is truly one of the most friendly and hospitable lands on earth. I actually think the phrase tender loving care was born there. Here's proof, in this TV ad from KerryGold. 

Dubliner Cheese: Once you try it, you'll be hooked. I am. It was first described to me as a mixture between Cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano. This description is quite accurate. Dubliner tastes of a mature Cheddar with the sweet aftertaste of Reggiano. Created by the Irish company Kerrygold and named after Ireland’s capital city, this cheese shares traits with several well-known cheeses but the combination creates a flavor that is completely unique. 

Burger Time

I ask you- who doesn’t like a hamburger?
There's no better person to tell us about the surge in burger joints, than Steve Haweeli, President of WordHampton Public Relations Inc..

"It's no surprise that burger joints are enjoying a resurgence and popularity these days. For Americans, burgers are synonymous with comfort food (and we all know in a challenging economy that comfort is welcome). My local East Hampton favorite is Rowdy Hall - a pub/bistro that has what I would call an upscale burger for about $15; they are packed. Burger joints are generally easy on the wallet and also offer the busy worker a quick-serve solution. Likewise, chain restaurants - now offering wider selections - continue to keep pace as they continue to offer better quality food than before at low or moderate prices. Mom n Pops are still faring well; it's that attention to detail and service that brings comfort - and customers!"

The question is- what goes into making a great burger? My answer is- the right blend of ground beef to fat- an 85:15 ratio, chuck or round. You must use freshly ground meat, cooked via grill, not a griddle. Would you like fries and a shake with that burger? You bet, but the fries better be fresh hand-cut, and the shake made from hand dipped vanilla ice cream. With a long list of topping options, I prefer simple Heinz Ketchup and pickles. It really is all a matter of preference though. And so the serious debate of who makes the best hamburger begins.

Here are a few restaurants and eateries that are on my burger radar in the US.

Five Guys have more than 450 locations in over 30 states. What can I say about a place that’s highly Zagat rated? In all honesty I haven’t been there yet, but this franchise is growing faster than the spuds they are deep frying. 

Shack Shack in NYC, a modern “roadside” burger stand by Danny Meyer, the mega loved restauranteur of Unions Square Café Hospitality Group. They do it right, great quality, as expected. My only complaint is about the long lines. Only kidding- busy is good and quality takes time!

Let's say I’m on the road and about to land in Arizona, Nevada or California. The plane touches down at 11AM. That's perfect because my first stop is the nearest IN-N-OUT Burger from the airport. IN-N-OUT have a worldwide following, because they remain true to their roots.

The Snyder's business philosophy is simple, "Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment."

You don’t need a pen to write down the menu of burger, fries and shakes. I know someone who worked at an IN-N-OUT during college, they told me there's a secret menu for those in the know. Sorry I can not tell you about it, I've sworn to burger secrecy. 

Opening this week in NYC, Bill’s Bar & Burger. The menu is pegged as casual American fast food done straight-up. No fancy sauces or exotic cheeses. Bill's burgers are thin patties pressed hard into the griddle, creating a crunchy slice of well-seasoned meat. Anticipation is building like opening night on Broadway, because BR Guest founder Stephen Hanson's higher end restaurants offer an experience through an emphasis on hospitality and quality. It should be a great burger as Bill’s is located in the meat packing district.

Well- here's my hands-down hometown favorite hamburger; and it’s no surprise (as I’ve featured them on my TV show) is from Rowdy Hall in East Hampton, New York. If you are not in the mood for an excellent burger with home made fries, NP, there are plenty other top choices from authentic fish & chips to juicy steaks and chops. Thumbs up.

If you are hand crafting your burger at home, here’s some ideas and recipes to consider, especially if you’ve consumed a few too many beef burgers and need a lighter turkey or tuna version.