Happy Burger Day - my burger odyssey

So the internet tells me it is National Burger Day. I'll admit, I won't be indulging. Over the past year I've eaten more than my share of burgers. This post has been many months in the making. Last August I got the opportunity to work on an exciting project, writing and photographing a round up of burgers in Bloomington.

My article was published in the April/May issue of Bloom Magazine. I'm thrilled with the result, the article is even longer than I expected and features photos of many of the burgers. It's pretty awesome going into restaurants and stores around town and seeing piles of the magazine. All told, I sampled over 50 different burgers at 36 restaurants. Below are some outtake shots and some thank yous. I got a lot of help.
Read the whole article at the Bloom website (PDF, unfortunately.) The layout and colors are so lovely. It's even better in print, all glossy and real. Burger porn ahoy. The lead photo is the tasty Spoon burger from Runcible Spoon. Next is Uptown's elegant yet substantial New Yorker burger, it is excellent.

Upland Brewing Co's Bad Elmer's Burger, it's just not right without the beer

Nick's makes an excellent burger

One of my faves, a double cheeseburger at Trojan Horse

My first Hinkle's hamburger 

A cheeseburger at the new Macri's Deli

A pair of very good burgers at Wee Willie's

Scholar's Inn Bakehouse has $3 burgers on Wednesdays

Meatless no longer, Roots now serves a burger

Thanks to Jessica and Christine and Mariann for burger crawling with me. Thanks to Ginny for sharing multiple burgers, some good, some just okay. And especially for finishing a few off when I just couldn't take another bite of ground beef and bun.
Thanks to my mom and dad who drove me to the far away burger spots and helped me out for lunch. And Carly who gets almost all of the credit really, she knows why ;)
And most of all thanks to Katy who doesn't even eat beef. Despite her mostly burgerless diet, Katy came with me on nearly all of my burger adventures. Sometimes just keeping me company, other times helping me out with the veggie burgers.

In conclusion, I'm taking a break from burgers.


The best thing I ate in Barcelona: El Quim + La Boqueria

La Boqueria is the bustling market tucked right in the middle of La Rambla, Barcelona's tree lined central boulevard. Most hours of the day La Boqueria (and La Rambla) is overrun with tourists but it's well worth the effort spent braving the crush. Inside is foodie mecca. I spent several of my mornings at the market, including my first and second in the city, splurging on seafood breakfasts, buying souvenirs and gifts, and photographing just about everything.

Thursday morning (day two) I was prepared to fight the crowds to get to El Quim, one of the more popular mini-restaurants sprinkled throughout the market. Despite warnings of long waits, there were plenty of open stools when I visited around 11 am. On the recommendations of too many bloggers to count, I ordered  huevos con chipirones. They were fantastic, probably my favorite meal of the trip.

The thimble sized baby squids are served on top of two perfectly fried eggs. Through gestures, your server will tell you to slash through the eggs to release the yolk, enriching the purple sauce of squid ink. The dish is liberally sprinkled with crisp, flaky sea salt adding seasoning and a subtle crunch. Super tender and just a bit sweet, the squid tasted of the sea, not overly salty in the least. At El Quim I also had my first taste of Spanish coffee. I ordered un cortado, a espresso cut with a little milk. Unsurprisingly, it was excellent. I hear cava is popular too, even in the morning, so feel free to order a little bubbly with your breakfast.

Another must-try: zumos. Sold for 1-2 euros, they're the ultra fresh juices sold at the fruit stalls near the front of the market. I tried multiple flavors over the course of the week; coconut strawberry, strawberry lime, kiwi coconut banana, and mango orange. My favorite was the pretty green kiwi coconut banana, the little kiwi seeds add just enough texture and acid to cut through the creamy coconut and banana.

La Boqueria boasts several fantastic restaurants but its main attraction is the hundreds of stalls stocking every kind of meat, seafood, spice, and produce you could possibly need. Though the market is always stuffed with tourists, plenty of locals patiently brave the crowds to buy their groceries.

Itty bitty chorizos and sausages at one of the many ham stalls. And more salted cod, aka bacalao, than anyone in America would know what to do with.

Oozy razor clams are actually delicious when cooked up on la plancha, a flattop griddle.

Pretty little truffles and turrones (Spanish nougat-like almond candy)  are everywhere. But don't touch! It's rude and totally unhygienic, point out which you want and let the owner serve or package it up for you.

Ruby red cherries at Barcelona's La Boqueria.
Zumos and fresh fruit! Still kicking myself for not trying out the pitahaya flavor, just for the amazing fuchsia color.


Snapshots of Barcelona

I've been back for just over a week and I'm already missing Spain like crazy. And not just the perfect blue skies and breezy, sunny days (allergies, what allergies?) People keep asking me my favorite thing about Barcelona and it's actually been a hard question to answer. My week of vacation feels so separate from my normal existence, like it was on a whole different level of reality. There weren't any life changing moments, it was all good. There were a few hiccups, sure, but my experiences in Barcelona were overwhelmingly positive.

Traveling alone was intimidating in theory, but the reality was pretty stress free. I felt less pressure to get things right. It wasn't a problem when I got lost or screwed up the metro (and let me tell you, it's pretty hard to screw up. Barcelona public transit is easy peasy.) I could wake up late, meander around the city, and, most of all, take as many pictures as I wanted without holding anyone else up.

Breakfast most days was pastry and cafe con leche (like a super strong, mini latte) or un cortado (espresso cut with milk.) And sometimes a glass of juice. My favorite was the chocolate croissant pictured below. This seemed to be the thing to do in Barcelona, coffee and pasty on the go.

I love both, but I need a little more protein in me to really get going. So, a few mornings, I splurged on seafood feasts at la Boqueria, more on those soon. And more on gourmet drinking chocolate and patatas bravas and razor clams. Gorgeous food is everywhere. Just like you can't turn a corner in Barcelona without running into amazing architecture, there are almost too many restaurants to choose from. And bakeries! So many bakeries, I loved the little porcupine cakes decorating the window display seen above.

I'm still making my way through the 2800 photos I snapped. If you're interested you can find the whole set here. I think they look best on black, through flickr's slideshow feature. I'll be back soon with food!

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