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Monday, 6 May 2013

Burgers, bloody burgers


Big, fat, juicy burgers.

I bloody love them.

I remember my first burger. It was 1987. I was seven years old, sat with my bare legs stuck to the pastel coloured swirly plastic booth in the newly opened Wimpy in Llandudno. The overly sweet bun, the microthin beef burger pattie, the bright orange sticky cheese square, the pickle that I picked out and rested on the greasy paper wrapper. I loved it. I loved it so much a couple of months later I had my 8th birthday party there where a meet and greet with the big plastic red Mr Wimpy was included. And my love affair with burgers began.

Oh the mighty burger.

Burgers have been omnipresent in my life. I've eaten them at my happiest times, most sad times, drunk, sober. home, away. They're my comfort food of choice.

Oh the mighty burger.

The post festival burger in a motorway service station with your best friends, stinking, mud covered, sleep deprived and ravenous. Now that's a good burger.

The burger concoctions made whilst working for a fast food chain on a high speed ferry crossing the Irish sea in the last summer of my teens, taken upstairs to a hidden storeroom high above the passenger areas with a little hatch you could crawl through to sit on the actual roof of the ferry to eat your bespoke  burger in absolute silence speeding through the Irish sea. That's a special burger.

The multiple burgers you eat with your best friend sat in fast food car parks in a battered Renault Clio listening to Beck on repeat, playing guess the RDA% of different burgers (the winner, if you're interested is the McDonalds Big Tasty Burger which has a prize 76% of your RDA of fat). Fast food queens, graduated from University, no responsibilities, no real jobs, days spent just cruising around eating burgers because frankly, we had nothing better (apart from get drunk) to do. Yes, those were good burgers.

The burger purchased from a battered VW van with a hatch on rickety sticks, served by two scruffy, half pissed men with filthy fingernails at the Big Chill festival one year. An unexpected bloody triumph. Simple, red in the middle, a dead nice bun, some rocket, a little bit of coleslaw, proper cheese. Sat on the grass in the sun, chomping that and listening to the Craig Charles Soul Funk band feeling generally pretty blinking happy with life. Yep, I enjoyed that one.

Oh the mighty burger.

So, what happens when the mighty fall? Well, they fall. And they can fall pretty badly.

I was in hospital after giving birth to my first daughter. I'd been awake and not eaten for 72 hours. I'd been injected with obscene amounts of opiates. I had just had a baby. Everything felt a bit odd. Eventually, the opium haze began to lift and I realised I was STARVING. So starving that I literally drooled over the hospital menu on which I had to tick boxes with my choices for that day. For tea, I picked 'Steak Vinennese'.

I actually expected steak. In hospital.

 I know, I know, what was I thinking?

Look, I was sleep deprived, traumatised and had the residue of hundreds of pounds street value of synthetic heroin in my body. I clearly wasn't thinking straight.

It arrived. I frantically and hungrily lifted the plate cover. I could have eaten a horse. And then I probably did. A grey, limp pattie with added gristle lay with curled up edges in a swamp of murky, oily gravy. It was lukewarm. Tepid. I'd managed to give birth, have a haemmorage, a host of doctors prodding and stitching me, I managed all that without shedding a tear but the sight of that pathetic excuse for a burger, well that finished me off. I wept.

But lets not dwell on the sad times. Lets celebrate the ace times, the awesome burgers. The juicy, fat ones. The ones with a melting brie middle, the Obama party burgers barbequed in the dark one October lovingly crafted around a mini babybel, the chorizo burger with sundried tomato mayonnaise, the burger with crispy salami and vintage cheddar and gherkin, the Elvis burgers, the mushroom double Swiss,  the side order of a plain cheeseburger, the ones consumed at parties, at good times, with family, with friends, the sliders at a buffet, the mustardy burgers, the chicken fillet burgers wolfed down at 4am, all the burgers that made me feel ace.

So where do you go for your burgers? What makes them special? Who makes the best burger in Liverpool?

For me, it's a newly opened independent resturant.

I bring you the joy of Free State Kitchen.

I somehow started following these people on Twitter before the restaurant opened and after a particularily heavy day at Onion, home late to an empty fridge we took ourselves off here for our tea in their first week of opening. It's an amazing place - hidden away on Maryland Street in an old convent school with a simple but bloody delicious American style menu. I went for a classic American cheeseburger and it was spectacular. So many places now seem scared of serving their burgers rare but this one was suitably red. Not piled high with a million toppings, you were left just to enjoy its flavour and a bloody good flavour it was too. It's the best burger I can remember having. I look forward to spending a good many afternoons with my burger loving family and friends supping cold bottles of Samuel Adams and eating their delicious burgers in the awesome garden there in the summer. Go there.  And order a burger. You won't be sorry. Promise.

So yes. Burgers.







All hail the mighty burger.

*burgers can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet*

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