The grass was this green in Maryland two weeks ago when we were there. And it’s taken me almost that long to shake the grass-is-greener-over-there feeling that I often get when I return from long, cool trips.
Don’t get me wrong – I was glad to be home the moment we set foot in the door. I’m talking about that (mostly pleasant) travelling hangover that hits you when you regale friends with your adventures, especially in that “hmm” (“pensive”) moment after everyone has finished laughing about the absurdity of pretending to be from Djibou or about scary dinners. “Hmm,” you chuckle wisely, “those people are just weird.” And yet you wish you were still there.
I’m over that now. (I alsoÂ think we’ve run out of friends to bore with our Djibouti stories). Cape Town summer is upon us, and when it’s not horrible, it’s very nice (Doctor’s logic). I’ve even gotten over regretting not getting to Plato’s Palate in Bethesda – which I wouldn’t have been able to even if we’d tried, as it’s apparently closed. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about an ouzo burger since the Philosophe told me he once ate one there. (Meat that tastes like liqourice? My inner Viking was aroused).
Well, you don’t have to be in Vegas or Maryland to make fantasies come true. We had ouzo burgers for dinner last night. Armed only with my imagination, a little common sense, and the dregs of a ten-year old bottle of ouzo, I took on the curious task of reconstructing a taste I’d never experienced.
This made sense: Meat + generous slosh of ouzo + slosh of Worcestershire sauce + lots of garlic and pepper + less oreganum and hot English mustard.
Wisely (according to some, anyway – see below) salting the patties only before cooking, we fried those babies up and topped them with slices of Brie, crispy bacon and caramelized onions. I don’t know if they would live up to Plato’s Palate, but I do know they were fine, and it is a matter of a short time only before I start introducing the weird and wonderful contents of our liquor cabinet to much more meat. (It’s genius really, like Bloody Marys: food and drink in one).
This photograph is not mine, but comes from the always-entertaining A Hamburger Today, where KenjiGoodEater has yet again gone to some lengths to figure out what works (check out his post on the Blumenburger). His latest topic is salting – before, during, or after? – and he came up with these two pieces of evidence as to what happens when you salt the meat before grinding (right), and just before cooking.
I in fact did add a little salt just before I formed the patties, and some more in the pan. I also cooked the burgers well-done (as I do), but they were totally juicy, and if I do say so myself (it’s my blog), f**king delicious. The powers of alcohol!
And maybe some other random factors. Like the right appetite, the constant attentions of Mogwai (the cat), and the solid conviction, as I sat down and tucked into my ouzo burger, that there was no place in the world I would rather be. Yes, the grass is pretty darn green in Cape Town too.