It is the Americans who have managed to crown minced beef as hamburger, and to send it round the world so that even the fussy French have take to le boeuf hache, le hambourgaire. – Julia Child
Maybe we were feeling nostalgic, maybe we were wanting to marry our American roots with the ingredients of our current home and the beverages of our European neighbors. Maybe we had just learned that people around the world throw “American parities” where the theme is represented by red solo cups and popcorn and we just wanted to set the record straight. Maybe I had just found this new blog of burger genius and felt inspired. Whatever it was, last weekend S and I and our friend Mike decided to throw a burger night. We spent the day gathering ingredients and had a blast following this easy six step recipe for a great burger night in Mainz:
1. Get some good meat. For this, we headed out to Domaine in Wiesbaden. This place is fantastic. It’s a farm, plus a B&B, plus a restaurant, a cafe, a butcher shop, a dairy shop, and a produce and wine market. All of this in beautiful brick buildings surrounding a lush courtyard garden and surrounded by sprawling green farmland. Oh and you can also ride their horses. The only thing they’re missing, in my opinion, is a pastry shop. Please take note, Domaine. Anyway, for Burger Night, we picked up some ground beef that they put through the grinder right in front of us. All 2 kilos of it! That was a big ole’ meatball. Then we picked up some tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mushrooms, aoli, eggs, and fig mustard in their market. And finally, we picked out some gouda and blue cheese in the dairy. And Mike bought a big jug of fresh milk that he said tasted like a milk shake. I’ll have to go back for one of those!
2. Get some good wine. Mike likes to say that one of his favorite things to do is grab a take-out burger and pair it with a really nice red wine at home. We agree. So for our burger night, we needed some good wine. After hitting Domaine, we headed for Jacque’s Wine Depot. The name sounds really cheesy, I know, but this is not the warehouse of Franzia with a French label that you may be picturing. It’s a tiny shop in Mainz (there’s also one in Wiesbaden) packed with delicious, yet affordable wines from around the world (meaning France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Australia, and not the US…closed minded, but still a great place). The best part about the shop is that the woman who works there is very friendly and knowledgable and lets you taste whatever wine you’d like (except the expensive ones)! They have everything from a 6 Euro Merlot to a 30 Euro Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We might need to stock up on those before our trip home… After a couple tastings, we picked up a few bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from France and Spain, confident we’d enjoy every drop during the party.
3. Get some good buns. We almost stopped in a burger place in Mainz-Kastel to convince them to sell us a bag of their rolls – it’s a restaurant, not a shop – because we’d been told they’re that good, but we decided our German might not be quite up to par for that task and were running short on time, so we headed to one of the organic grocery stores in Mainz, Denn’s Bio Markt and picked up some fresh kaiser rolls.
4. Relax. We put our perishables in the fridge and somehow stuffed the whole 2 kilos of beef in there, too, and headed out to enjoy the sunshine. We took a stroll around the market (but really made a beeline for the wine tent). In the spring and summer, the market plays host to a Mainzer Winzer tent. This is a collective of winemakers near Mainz who take turns manning the tent and selling glasses and bottles of their wine. That day was Weingut Erwin Ginz’s turn. I usually don’t love Chardonnay, but theirs was fabulous and just what we needed on this warm and sunny spring day. We picked up a few glasses and crossed the courtyard to a heavenly smelling cart that was frying up cod and swordfish. The cod, served with German potatoes in vinegar and dill, was out of this world. And cost about 3 Euros. Not a bad lunchtime hangout.
5. Prep and grill. We prepped (sliced the onion, tomato, and pickles, washed the lettuce, sautéed some onions and mushrooms, and fried up some eggs) and grilled (the beef and the buns).
6. Gather friends and enjoy! This part was the easiest. Cheers to a good burger, good wine, and good times with great friends!
Some of may favorite burger quotes:
“Mmm…Burger.” Homer Simpson
“Looking hard for a drive-in, searching for a corner cafe, where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day, yeah, and the jukebox jumping with records back in the USA.” Chuck Berry, Back in the USA
“Cheeseburger is paradise. Heaven on earth with an onion slice. Not too particular, not too precise. I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise. I like with lettuce and tomato, Heinz Fifty-Seven and French fried potatoes. Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer. Well, good God Almighty, which way do I steer For my cheeseburger in paradise.” Jimmy Buffett, Cheeseburger in Paradise