Georges Deuboeuf Beaujolais Wine And Burgers with Mark Oldman

Earlier in the week I had the privilege of attending a Beaujolais and burger tasting hosted by author and wine expert Mark Oldman. The event was hosted by Alfa (1709 Walnut), a fancy pants establishment that I have only visited a few times. One of those times I visited was specifically to try their deep fried oreos – drop what you’re doing and go over there and try those, you won’t be disappointed. I digress.. while the 15 or so people attending the event gathered we sipped a white wine, I’m not sure what kind it was but it doesn’t matter – this was only to serve as the prerequisite for the education we were about to receive. We all sat down at this long table with more glassware than I’ve ever seen in my life. Shortly thereafter Mark started to introduce himself as the author of Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine and general wine expert. Mark is a relatively young guy, a different sort than those I generally think of as a “wine expert” he was, for a lack of a better word, cool.

Mark walked us through the different wines, from floral and light to the most robust – all part of the Georges Deuboeuf Beaujolais line. The wines we tried were:

– Beaujolais-Villages (fruity and light)

– Chiroubles (still light but less fruity)

– Brouilly (good middle-of-the-road red with subtle flavors of jam)

– Fleurie (a bit more robust wine with floral tones)

– Morgon (dark, heavy red with a lot of body)

– Juliénas Chateuu des Capitans (the richest of all the wines, complex flavors)

All the wines were amazing and as you may (or may not) have thought they paired nicely with the burgers. The wine from the selection that went best with the burgers was, in my opinion, was the Julienas. It was the most robust of all the wines and brought out the richness of the burger. I would highly recommend this.

Ok, enough about wines – this is NOT the “wine club” after all. For me, THE BURGERS were the star of this event. I felt like a kid in a candy store with the amount of burger at my fingertips. They were served “family style” cut into halves. A bite of this, a taste of that oh my word there were so many burgers! We sampled the delicious offerings from Alfa, 500 degrees, Rouge and Spiga. Let me start off by saying that all the burgers had the same dry, average bun except for the Alfa burger – which had a delicious potato type bun (which Julianne said she could have as a meal itself).

I started with the 500 degrees burger that had a well-seasoned patty with an egg (and if you know anything about me and my history with eggs on burgers I say “HELLS YES”). This burger was good but definitely not at the top of my list.

The Alfa burger was great, as I mentioned; that potato bun was fantastic and the meat was good. The burger kept together pretty well and the classic pickles & cheddar combo was nice.

Now on to my two favorites of the evening – the Rouge burger was HUGE both my dining partners, Megan and Julianne (unbeknownst to each other) said that it was like eating meatloaf. It was about a 2 inch patty of pure beef. Some people said that they thought it was “too big” or “too much meat” and I don’t think those words can ever be used to describe a burger – the bigger the better! The Rouge burger was pretty no-nonsense, the toppings were superfluous, the meat was the star, seasoned perfectly and just simply delicious.

My favorite burger of the evening, however, was definitely the Spiga burger. I hadn’t even heard of Spiga before this evening but apparently it’s a new Italian restaurant at 13th and Locust – weird place. The burger was juicy and awesome topped with apple wood bacon and goat cheese, the ultimate burger topping combination – sweet, salty, delicious. While most of the other burgers went best with the Juliénas this burger was great when paired with the Beaujolais-Villages. It’s the lightest and fruitiest of all the wines we tried. I could have sworn that there was some kind of sweet spread on the burger, maybe a fig spread or something like that. There was no such spread so I can only imagine that the fruity wine helped bring out the sweetness in the apple wood bacon (the candy of the meat world).

All-in-all it was a magical evening. It opened my eyes to the notion of pairing burgers with wine – I think I’m going to try that more often. More than anything this evening was able to shed light on the way burgers are creeping their way into a higher echelon of society. Burgers are no longer seen as a last-minute drive through dinner option. People are really starting to take burgers seriously, and you should too. I dream of the day when it’s more common to have a burger with wine than with a shake. Till then burger friends, keep on burgering.

Denny’s new burger menu

Written By John McCormick
Photos by John McCormic & Sean McManus

A burger is nothing new – but lately restaurants everywhere seem to put more effort into serving up creative and exotic twists to the age-old favorite. Burgers are definitely becoming more prominent in our society and culture, too. From burger fests, burger clubs, to television shows (Man vs. Burger in the future?); life is good for those who love burgers! Perhaps surprisingly to some, Denny’s is putting itself at the top of the list as a response to the question “who has good burgers around here?”

My experience with Denny’s in the past has consisted of late night munchies, full scale breakfast entrees at all hours, and many “Moons over My Hammy” punchlines. Recently they have caved to the pressures of burger enthusiasts and created a full array of burger options with their revamped “Build Your Own Burger” (BYOBer) menu. The BYOBer menu is loaded with artery clogging premium toppings as well as lighter veggie options with patty, cheese, and bun options to top it off.

Usually I do some recon work before showing up for a Burger Club function because I want to know what my options are. I had no clue what I was getting into when I arrived at Denny’s in Essington (47 Industrial Highway, Essington, PA). I started with an Oreo Mud Pie Milkshake and some ‘Nana Bread Pancake Puppies. The milkshake was thick, rich, and tasty. The ‘Nana Bread Pancake Puppies were great, accompanied by a sweet cream cheese icing – excellent for dipping. The pancake puppies definitely seem more like a dessert dish than an appetizer, but I had no problem eating them prior to my meal.

Ok, now it is time to “talk shop” and get into the burger realm. Denny’s Build Your Own Burger uses an order sheet which definitely distinguishes itself from some other franchise burger eateries. My first choice was Beef Patty, which was a no brainer because I am the ultimate carnivore, but turkey patty was an interesting option in addition to the Chicken and Veggie Patty options. I also declined the second patty option for $1.49. The Bun choices were a little limited, but I chose the Grilled Potato bread with the Cheddar Bun as a close second. I choose Pepper Jack cheese (something a little different) but then things got pretty interesting as I decided between the toppings. I was going through several taste combinations in my head and “themes” that I could mess with such as a Southwest/Mexican theme with Pico de Gallo, Jalapenos, Chipotle Sauce, Sour Cream (yes they have Sour Cream), Chili (plus $1.00) and sliced Avocados (plus $1.00), but I decided to get into something a little different. I chose the Pico de Gallo, BBQ sauce, Mac N Cheese (plus $1), and Fire Roasted Peppers and Onions (plus $1) with a side of Hash Browns.

I was not asked what temperature I wanted my burger cooked, but I assume they are required to cook it well done and my burger patty did maintain juiciness. I am not sure that the BBQ sauce made it on the burger because I did not see or taste it at all. Some highlights of the burger were the cheesiness of the melted Pepper Jack and Mac N Cheese as well as the Fire Roasted Peppers and Onions, which provided a nice subtle kick at the end. The potato bread seemed a bit ordinary, but it did give the burger a nice Patty Melt type of feel. The burger was a good sized portion of beef and toppings, so I had to take half home with me.

I am going to admit that I tend to be a bit of a burger snob, so the thought of going to Denny’s for burgers was a bit different for me. They truly opened my eyes to some interesting burger concepts that I would only otherwise try in the confines of my kitchen at home (such as Mac N Cheese). They have some other awesome options for a burger which are worth checking out, too. The plethora of burger toppings leaves endless possibilities; if you so choose, you’ll never have the same burger twice! Our service was great from start to finish between Andrew (the manager) and Ashleigh (our server). I thoroughly enjoyed my Denny’s burger experience. In the future I would choose Denny’s over another diner burger chain because of the array of options available. My burger was $8.99 because of the addition of Fire Roasted Peppers & Onions and Mac N cheese, but you can still have fun with lots of toppings because the burger’s base price is only $6.99.

Wilmington Burger Battle

Written By: Joelen Pastva
Photography By: Madhuri Kaul

I slowed down as we drove on scenic Kennett Pike just outside of Wilmington, thinking “It’s around here somewhere,” nestled in the rolling greenery and historic estates that make up some of Delaware’s top cultural destinations… we just had to find it! Finally, a burger balloon caught my eye, and after turning around a second time we found the narrow gravel driveway leading to the historic Twin Lakes Brewing Co. family farm. If I had but two words to describe the first annual Wilmington Burger battle, it would be a no brainer: burger heaven.

My photographer and I arrived around 1:30 pm when it seemed things were just picking up. Signs and helpful staff indicated that this was a sold out event, so any hopeful drop-ins would have to wait until next year. We drove past a tranquil pond and a converted tractor barn that turned out to be the Twin Lakes brew house before seeing the burger battlefield: tents, grills and beer on tap surrounding a large seating area for getting cozy with a burger. All 16 participating restaurants were busily manning their grills and tending to their toppings, and the smell of grilling beef easily fended off any hesitation caused by the occasional sprinkles of rain from an overcast sky. The fight was on!

Despite being a sellout crowd, the space easily accommodated both eager burger eaters and those in need of a breather. Wary of long lines at similar food extravaganzas in Philly, we were prepared for a wait, but we approached the first tent to find ourselves at the front of the line just as a slider was receiving its crown of cooked quail egg. This first taste would turn out to be from one of our top overall picks, made by Kid Shelleen’s, part of the Harry Savoy restaurant group. Called the Gold Rush, the burger featured Lancaster bacon, smoked gouda, pulled pork, and fried egg. The egg was expertly cooked and carefully placed atop the slider so that the yolk was still intact and perfectly runny for the first bite. All of the flavors were well balanced on a tender beef patty and we knew this was the start of something wonderful.

The burger battle was organized by Matthew Curtis of Union City Grille and served as a fundraiser for the Ministry of Caring’s Emmanuel Dining Room, which works to feed Delaware’s hungry with nutritious meals free of charge. Three local celebrity athletes including Elena Delle Donne, Spencer Dunkley, and Henry Milligan served as the judges, and the estimated 400 attendees were each given three tickets to cast their votes for the people’s choice winner. Judges scored based on three categories: appearance/presentation, taste, and creativity, with the score for taste given the most weight in the event of a tie. And to wash it all down, Twin Lakes served up endless samples of their pale ale and Belgian-style brews, which perfectly complemented the burgers and helped keep us lubricated in our quest for the top burger.

Making our way through the tents, we noted a few trends in burger toppings and prep. There were no restrictions imposed on the entrants, so some chose to use charcoal while most opted for gas. Most burgers were prepared on-site, but some had been pre-prepped before the event. Brioche was the most popular bun type, but there were occasional variations as well, sometimes bordering on the excessively bready. Most toppings aimed for meat-on-meat deliciousness, with pork by far being the most popular accompaniment. Finally, although we would have liked to see more pink throughout given the high quality of beef used by all the restaurants, were were disappointed that most burgers were cooked through. Despite this, there was hardly a bad burger in the bunch and most were very well prepared.

In the end, Kildare’s Irish Pub won the judges’ first choice with their Dubliner, topped with cheddar, Irish rashers, Guinness caramelized onions, and a country relish. The audience favorite was Union City Grille’s angus patty with lettuce, tomato and red onion, which we also chose as among our favorites. It was one of the most perfectly cooked burgers in the battle with just the right amount of pink and simple, fresh toppings. We also voted for Piccolina Toscana’s slider topped with veal, onion, fontina and arugula because of its creativity and rich, complex flavor. Ernest & Scott Taproom wowed us with their dry-aged brisket patty, truffled potato chips, vidalia pickles and secret sauce, creating an amazing texture and a blend of sweet and salty flavors. Finally, Pizza by Elizabeth made a meatball sub-style burger which we loved, featuring a beef/pork/veal patty topped with house-made mozzarella, spicy tomato sauce, pesto, and pepperoni. Eppy’s Bar-B-Que deserves an honorable mention for a fantastic spicy chutney sauce that would easily make any sandwich memorable.

Overall, the Wilmington Burger Battle was an unforgettable event that left us in a burger stupor for the rest of the weekend. Try as we might, we only managed to sample 11 of the 16 entrants which on its own was quite a feat of stamina. Although most samples were sliders or quarters of whole burgers, we probably consumed 2-3 burgers per person along with generous samplings of Twin Lakes beer. This is surely not an event to be missed and we hope to see it continue for many years to come. Delaware has a lot to offer in the way of high quality, creative burgers, and it’s always great to support our local community organizations by simply doing what we love to do: EAT!