It’s National Burger Day! Part II – The Happiest Burger At Slowly Shirley

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The news flashing across our TV screens is unsettling at best, harrowing more likely. So the words “comfort food” have never been infused with such urgency and poignancy.

But if comfort isn’t quite enough for these troubled times, perhaps what we really need is “happy food.” And over in the West Village, the tiki-chic bar The Happiest Hour makes no secret of its mission – it’s right there in the name. But downstairs is where you’ll mostly find us, at its dark, sexy and provocatively monikered sibling Slowly Shirley. Their retro-cool cocktail list is arranged by “Aperitif,” “Evening,” “Shaken” and “Stirred” – and flaunts brilliantly nostalgic titles like North by Northwest, Three on a Match, and Five Finger Death Punch.

But in honor of National Burger Day 2017 (May 28), we’d like to call attention to the impossibly mouthwatering awesomeness of its Happiest Single Burger (Eater branded it “the love child of Shake Shack and In-N-Out”). Recognizing that comforting – nay happiness-inducing – food is, indeed, based on the reassurance of familiarity. it contains zero fuss, no capitulations to trends, and, best of all, no ill-advised fruit toppings.

Pair one with a robust American Trilogy cocktail (rye, Bonded Applejack, orange bitters, demerara) and the worries of the big, scary world will quickly seem a long, long way away.

Here BlackBook and Slowly Shirley share the happiness of the Happiest.

 

Slowly Shirley interior 

 

THE HAPPIEST BURGER (YIELD = 1 BURGER)

 The Happiest Burger (yield = one burger)

Ingredients

•Two 3-oz. beef patties (chuck and cheek blend)
•2 slices American cheese
•2 oz. shaved iceberg lettuce
•1 slice of ripe beefsteak tomato
•1oz diced white onion
•4 slices of half sour pickles
•1 Martin’s Potato Roll
•1oz confit onions*
•2 oz. Special Sauce**
•1oz grapeseed oil
•1oz soft unsalted butter
Method
  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Cut the burger bun in half and butter both sides; toast in the hot pan and remove when golden brown.
  3. Season patties generously with salt , add oil to pan followed by patties, press each patty down to ensure a nice caramelized crust develops. Cook for about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes per side.
  4. Before removing patties from the pan, place confit onions, diced onions on top followed by cheese and melt until cheese corners wilt down.
  5. Build your burger by spreading special sauce on both sides of your toasted bun. On the bottom half of the bun place pickles, tomato and lettuce. Place patties on top, followed by top half of the bun.

*Confit onions

Ingredients
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1tbsp sea salt
Method:
Place all ingredients in a large pot and put over a low flame, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure it doesn’t catch. Once onions are tender remove from the heat. Approx 90 minutes.
**Special Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup kewpie mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp relish
  • 1 tsp  chopped capers
  • 1 tsp  choppedcornichons
  • pinch of salt
Method:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, season with salt to taste.

It’s National Burger Day! Is Michael White’s ‘White Label’ the Best in NYC?

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Above image: Chef Michael White

Let’s be honest, there doesn’t need to be a special day for breadsticks, for beef tartare, for porcini mushrooms…and there certainly doesn’t need to be a day for cucumbers (though, ridiculously, there actually is one). But the burger – well, it almost seems too important to celebrate with just one day.

But tomorrow, May 28, is indeed National Burger Day. If anything, it’s a great moment to consider the essential perfection of possibly the greatest ever human culinary creation (with apologies to pizza and cacio e pepe). Desperate trend pushers have lately given us truffle burgers, wild boar burgers, and, weirdly enough, dessert burgers. But here we honor one of NYC’s best, not-tricked-out-at-all gourmand burgers – star chef Michael White’s White Label Burger – and arm you with the information necessary to make it at home this holiday weekend.

However, we strongly recommend making your way to White’s Vaucluse (or Osteria Morini or Ai Fiori at the Langham Place Fifth Avenue) as soon as humanly possible to experience this exquisite bun-and-patty creation in situ.

And seriously – hold the kimchi and sriracha.

 

Michael White’s White Label Burger

 

Image by Anthony Jackson
Components:
  • Burger
  • Buns
  • Fontina
  • Tomato jam
  • Dijonaisse
  • French fries
Jam
  • 1 can soparito tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 bay leaves
Heat the sugar in the vinegar and add your tomatoes, garlic and bay leaves and some salt. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours.
Dijonaisse
  • 1 cup whole grain mustard
  • 1.5 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
For Service:
  • Slice Fontina
  • Form Patties
  • French fries should be soaked for 24 hours then blanched at 260 degrees for 7 minutes

 

 

Delish Summer Pasta Recipes from Lilia Chef Missy Robbins

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Still can’t score a reservation at Lilia, Chef Missy Robinson’s rapturously reviewed Brooklyn restaurant? You’re not the only one. It could be the handmade pastas and tortellini, or the wood fired fish. Maybe it’s the off-menu secret rib eye, basted in rosemary butter, that sells out by 8PM. Or possibly it’s the revamped former garage turned stylish Williamsburg restaurant space that has them lining up.

“I think Williamsburg picked me,” she reckons. “I looked for a very long time – I actually wanted to open in the West Village. But it’s probably the best decision I’ve made in my life. I’ve never been in a neighborhood restaurant; being a part of the community is awesome. “

Her food speaks for itself. Especially for warm summer nights, her perfectly balanced dishes provide, as as she says, “this canvas for light, fresh, bright flavors that I really love. I think it’s all really fun. Blowfish tails have been a big hit for us. “

Where does she draw inspiration? “I left (A Voce) in 2013 and opened in 2016, and did a lot of home cooking [during that time] that has been adapted for the restaurant. A lot came out of stuff I started eating.”

And about that famous mafaldine? The pasta named after an Italian princess, tossed with pink peppercorns and Parmigiano-Reggiano will never go out of season – and you must try it at least once.

But what can all those devoted fans expect at Lilia in the coming months? “We change once a week, I like to introduce one or two dishes at a time. We put a ramp focaccia on, and then a potato dish on. Asparagus will be one next week. Then fava beans, some pea stuff.”

She takes an off-hand question about where she buys her pasta as a compliment. For the record, all pastas are made daily in house.

 

Lilia interior 

 

 

Orechiette Broccoli Pesto

2 Heads Broccoli, just the tops. Reserve the stems for another use
1 head broccoli rabe
1 bunch basil
1.5 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped pistachios
1 cup parmigiano reggiano
1cup pecorino romano
  1. bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt to taste (should taste like the ocean)
  2. blanch the broccoli until tender yet still green. Shock the broccoli in ice water and repeat two more times. This process will make the broccoli bery green but also quite tender
  3. Blanch the broccoli rabe in the same method as above
  4. Blanch the basil leaves and shock. Squeeze out the water and set aside
  5. Hand chop very finely the broccoli rabe
  6. Place the broccoli in a food processor and pulse until chopped fine
  7. Mix the broccoli and broccoli rabe in a large mixing bowl and cover with the olive oil. Add the cheese, the pistachios.
  8. In a blender make a basil puree with a touch of water and the blanched basil.
  9. Add the basil puree to the bowl and mix.

 

Spaghetti with Clams & Summer Herbs

Servings: 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Total: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients

kosher salt, to taste
1 pound dried or fresh spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chili flakes
6 ounces cooked clam meat
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
dill, for garnish
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, then drain, reserving a ladle-full of water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat half of the oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high. Add the garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add the chili flakes and cook 1 minute more. Add the remaining oil and butter, the spaghetti and reserved cooking liquid, and the clams and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer pasta to a serving plate and garnish with the dill.

 

 

Celebs Come Out for Glamorous Opening of NYC’s Maxwell’s Chophouse

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Sarika Rastogi, Pippa Cohen and Fiona Bora

Certainly everyone is gearing up for the beach season – which in New York means the reopening of all our Hamptons faves. But Wednesday evening saw a decidedly fab crowd gather for one last glamorous Manhattan bash, before digging out the swimsuits for the Memorial Day weekend.

The occasion? The opening of Maxwell’s Chophouse, NoMad’s newest dining hotspot. With the Avion Tequila cocktails flowing, mother and daughter proprietors Babette Haddad and Melissa Haddad Malaga hosted a glittering guest list: Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, actress Zuleikha Robinson, Real Housewives‘ Dorinda Medley and John Mahdessian, HGTV’s Genevieve Gorder, supermodel Alex Lundqvist, fashion designer Carlos Campos, Brit rockers The Struts…and superstar DJ Elle Dee manning the decks.

Maxwell’s itself is poised to be one of the summer’s hottest scenes, serving up steakhouse classics and seafood specialties in a plush, grandiose space, with patterned floors, high-ceilings and lots of swanky gold trimmings. But stylistas will surely be fighting for space on spectacular rooftop, with its jaw-dropping downtown views.

  • Marisa Tomei and Babette Haddad
  • Zuleikha Robinson and Alexander Klingspor
  • Scott Lipps
  • Carlos Campos
  • Avion Tequila
  • Bruce Perlmutter, Prudence Inzerillo, Carson Kressley
  • DJ Elle Dee
  • Luke Ditella, Charles Thorpe
  • Rooftop Garden

An NYC World Food Tour With Sultry Songstress Tei Shi

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She was born in Buenos Aires, and spent a good part of her life in Colombia – but peripatetic songstress Tei Shi now calls New York City home. As accomplished as she is alluring, she released her first single “M&Ms” in 2013, after studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Four years on, her debut album Crawl Space has finally seen release (on Downtown Records), and it exhibits a remarkable musical and emotional maturity. The seductive “Keep Running” stands out for its mix of sultry R&B and chunky synths; but our fave is “How Far,” with Tei Shi lamenting in sensual tones, “If it pleases you to say you’re sorry when you’re not / It’s a dangerous slip of the tongue,” over a cool, melancholy guitar twang.

As she prepares to launch an extensive international tour on June 3 at Toronto’s Field Trip Music and Arts Festival, we asked her to share her favorite spots in her adopted home of NYC – those places where she’s likely to be found when she’s not out on the road.

 

 

Punjabi Deli

This is probably my favorite NYC food discovery that I made when I first moved here. It’s a bodega-style Indian deli in a basement on the Lower East Side. They sell all kinds of awesome Indian snacks, candies, and trinkets. But the main thing are their homemade daily all vegetarian options. You have six veggie dishes to choose from with rice, samosas, and lots of other sides. It’s a place to pick up, or stop and eat on the go. It’s really affordable, and also open 24 hours a day, which makes it great for a late night stop.

Ramen Lab

A ramen bar in Nolita that runs like a pop-up, featuring a different ramen chef every month. So each month the menu is different, but always only features two or three insanely delicious options – one of which is vegetarian. It’s a tiny place and you can only sit at the bar while you’re eating, so generally it moves pretty quickly. They also have only one type of beer and sake; so it’s very simple and no-frills, but the vibe is great.

Cheeky Sandwiches

A New-Orleans style snack and sandwich shop on the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, right by where I live. I am not a huge meat eater and eat mostly veggie food – but their fried chicken sandwich is unreal. They make all the sandwiches with freshly made biscuits, and their gravy and coleslaw are so good. It’s a tiny shop with a really laid back and welcoming vibe all around.

Mile End Deli

A Montreal style Jewish deli in Soho, it’s named after an area in Montreal that has a lot of local food spots. I lived in the Mile End for awhile so this place always gives me a good dose of nostalgia. Go for really great sandwiches and Jewish dishes like knishes and matzo ball soup. It’s delicious, homemade comfort food.

 

A Loupe Art Guide to Denver – Featuring Artist Johnny Draco

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Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

 

Denver is oft regarded as either a gateway to Colorado’s posh ski resorts, or a place where a lot of oil and banking deals go down. But it’s actually got a thriving art scene, anchored by the newly renovated Museum of Contemporary Art.

Our fave new art app Loupe – which allows anyone with a phone, computer or television to possess a thoughtfully curated “virtual art gallery” – also gets it. They signed Denver artist Johnny Draco right from the start as part of their stable of exciting, boundary-pushing creatives. Draco is a self-taught artist from Atlanta, whose provocative post-pop work crosses references from Japan and America, mixing childhood nostalgia with elements of humor, mystery and even menace.

He says of the geographically lofty capital he now calls home, “Usually cities are always moving fast. Denver instead has a relaxed vibe to it. But the art can be really majestic, much like the mountains that surround the city.”

Draco actually moved to Denver to work for Kidrobot. We asked him to guide as through where the local creative community can usually be found socializing, shopping or just being inspired by other artists.

  • Buster
  • Covered
  • Cyborg
  • EXO
  • Denver

 

 

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

‬MCA Denver is one of my new favorite places. Went there for a Basquiat exhibit and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even when you finish all the exhibits, you can go to the rooftop to enjoy drinks and conversations with friends.

Black Book Gallery

Black Book is a pretty active contemporary art hub in Denver. I went to a few shows there and really loved the pieces on display.

 

 

Fice Gallery

Fice is a fairly new establishment. It serves as a gallery, as well as a streetwear boutique carrying brands such as Staple, Nike, Vans, Asics, and others. The art they show is always interesting.

Svper Ordinary

Svper Ordinary serves as both a gallery and boutique. The art and products they sell there are generally what you wouldn’t necessarily find anywhere else. Even the atmosphere is unique in itself.

 

 

Dae Gee

If you have never had Korean BBQ before in Denver, I would say this is a good place to start. I had it for the first time this year and I have to say my mind was blown. The whole atmosphere and vibe of this place is pretty amazing. The creative team at Kidrobot and I get together regularly to go here.

Bones

Bones has become one of my favorite noodle spots in Denver. The ramen there is among the best I’ve had, especially having a bit of a French twist to how the food is made. If you’re out enjoying the scene in Denver, this is definitely the place to end your art-filled evening

 

 

Mutiny Information Café

Mutiny has become one of my favorite places to go. There is a great selection of used books in there, and once in awhile you might find a real gem. They also have live bands there from time to time. It’s just one of those places you know you’re going to love.

First Draft Taproom + Kitchen

If you’re really into beer and just a great environment, I would suggest going here with some of your close mates. They have a wide array of beers choose from, and on top of that you pour the drinks yourself. Everything there is charged by the ounce, so getting a chance to try a real variety is pretty cool, especially when you’re not trying to break the bank.

 

Awesome Burger Recipes from the New Shake Shack Cookbook + Interview With Culinary Director Mark Rosati

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You kind of knew something was up back in 2004, when the first Shake Shack opened up in Madison Square Park – and the lines stretched halfway to the Chelsea Piers. Danny Meyer was already one of NYC’s most exalted restaurateurs, with Union Square Cafe, The Gramercy Tavern and Blue Smoke to his credit. But this was his nod to the burgeoning trends of food trucks and comfort food.

Now there are 129 Shake Shacks (seriously, count them), from JFK Airport to Chicago to West Hollywood to Tokyo, Bahrain and Moscow. But oddly enough, nothing has really changed. The lines are still long, the devotees are just as devoted – and Danny Meyer is still one of our favorite New York restaurant honchos.

Naturally, there had to be the cookbook. And this month brings Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories to the bookshelves. No surprise, it feels as comfy and friendly as any of Mr. Meyer’s restaurants, a 131-page look inside the family, philosophy and, of course, the food that make Shake Shack a place that you just can’t not love.

We chatted about the book with Culinary Director Mark Rosati, who also shared with BlackBook the recipes for two of Shake Shack’s most popular burgers.

 

What made this the right time for a Shake Shack cookbook?

We’ve been asked to do one for many years. When we went to write the cookbook, we also wanted to tell the story of how we’ve gotten to this position. We can attribute a lot of our success to our business philosophy and culture, and there have been a tremendous amount of people that have been a part of our story; so we thought now was an appropriate time to share our philosophy and recipes for success.

What are some of the highlights for you?

There are a couple! It was fun to share some of the classic recipes like the Chicago Hot Dog and Custard, but I also enjoyed giving the readers the keys to think like we do – even little decisions like why we use pickles on certain menu items or why the sauce is so important for others. In the end, we want you to walk away with the knowledge and tools to make not only our creations, but the knowledge and tools to make your own amazing burgers and creations. We are also really excited to tell the story of all the amazing people in the world of Shake Shack; major food players like Paul Kahan, Michael Solomonov, and Nicole Rucker are people that we want to honor, take part in their creations, and help feel connected to what they’ve done for the food scene in their city.

Do you hope the book will put fans and newcomers more in touch with the essential philosophy of Shake Shack? Does the book make it a more visceral connection?

I hope so. That’s really the point behind many of the stories we tell in the book. We want to take you to the next level of what we do, because there is such a large thought process behind almost every detail of our business. For example, the reason why we chose crinkle cut fries is because grooved fries have more surface area, so when you fry them, they are crispier since more oil comes into contact with them. Additionally, the grooved shape picks up ketchup better than other shapes.

What do you feel has been Shake Shack’s ultimate contribution to American culinary history?

We definitely didn’t invent the format we’ve been working in. Burgers and fries have been around for so many years! What we hope we did, when we looked back at it, is this: Burgers, Shakes, and Fries became popular in the 40s, 50s, and 60s in the so-called Golden Age of America. You rolled up in your hot rod and hung out with your friends, eating burgers and fries all night at your local spot. Overtime, it became less and less about the hangout spot and more about the convenience. Then machines started making burgers – that’s where fast food started to go awry. If there is one thing we’ve been a part of, it’s fostering a return to this golden age philosophy behind the importance and essence of the burger. We do this by serving the best quality and tastiest versions we can: All natural beef grinded fresh, cage free eggs, natural sugars, non GMO, combined with the support of people who are making food the right way. All of these are our keys to success, and hopefully the key to our legacy.

 

SHAKE SHACK BURGER RECIPES

Peanut Butter Bacon Burger

 

MAKES 4
Among devoted Shack fans, this burger has cult status. It’s only officially been served twice in our history! But folks know they can always order a bacon hamburger and ask us for a side of peanut butter sauce.
4 hamburger potato buns, toasted (page 42)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix (page 40)
8 slices cooked bacon, broken in half (page 54)
8 tablespoons smooth peanut butter, thinned with a little canola oil
Follow the ShackBurger recipe on page 48, topping the burger with great bacon and two spoonfuls of thinned peanut butter instead of lettuce, tomato, cheese, and ShackSauce.
The ShackBurger
Okay, here’s our sacred cow!
MAKES 4
Most likely the reason you have this book in your hands—our version of the great American cheeseburger. Like all deceptively simple things, it took us years to get it right, but now you can master burger perfection in five minutes.
4 hamburger potato buns
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons Not Quite Our Shack-Sauce
4 pieces green leaf lettuce
8 ¼-inch slices ripe plum tomato
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix
4 slices American cheese
1. Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, open the hamburger buns and brush the insides with the melted butter. A soft brush is helpful here. Place the buns buttered side down on the griddle and toast until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate. Spoon the sauce onto the top bun. Add a piece of the lettuce and two slices of tomato.
2. Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Evenly sprinkle a pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix on top of each puck of meat.
4. Place the pucks on the griddle, seasoned side down. Using a large, sturdy metal spatula, firmly smash each puck into a 1/3-inch-thick round patty. Pressing down on the spatula with another stiff spatula helps flatten the burger quickly. Evenly sprinkle another big pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix.
5. Cook the burgers, resisting the urge to move them, until the edges beneath are brown and crisp, and juices on the surface are bubbling hot, about 2½ minutes. Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized browned crust. Use the other spatula to steady the burger and keep it from sliding. Flip the burgers. Put the cheese on top and cook the burgers 1 minute longer for medium. Cook more or less depending on your preference.
6. Transfer the cheeseburgers to the prepared buns and enjoy.
OUR SALT & PEPPER MIX
We mix ½ cup kosher salt with ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper and use that mixture to season our burgers as they cook. You’ll see we call for a pinch or two of the mixture in every recipe.
Martin’s Potato Rolls
Toast the Buns Ahead
Think of this as a lovely ritual: Heat up your griddle and lavish attention on those buns so they’ll be ready the second your burger’s done. Begin by melting butter in a small pot. With a soft brush, paint the butter on the insides of the buns. Place butter-side down on the griddle till they’re beautifully browned.
Cooking Bacon
MAKES 8 SLICES
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay 8 slices of bacon on a parchment paper–lined baking pan. Bake until the bacon is browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Break in half to top burgers.
Pro Tip: After it’s been cooked, Mark likes to dice the bacon into small pieces and sprinkle it on top of cheese fries and especially over cheese dogs—his favorite.

 

ShackMeister Burger

 

MAKES 4
Where do our burger ideas come from? This one was born to compete at the annual Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami. Not surprisingly, every one of us had an opinion. Ultimately, good old-fashioned comfort and simplicity triumphed. We went with our simplest burger. And we won!
4 hamburger potato buns, toasted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons ShackSauce (recipe follows)
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix (recipe follows)
4 slices American cheese
4 ounces ShackMeister Fried Shallots
Follow the ShackBurger recipe on page 48, topping the burger with the Fried Shallots instead of lettuce and tomato.
ShackMeister Fried Shallots
MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 CUPS
Okay, we’ll be honest: these fried shallots are our version of onion rings. We prefer the garlicky flavor of shallots, and because they’re smaller than onions, we can add more delicious crispy bits to our burgers and flat-top dogs! The marinade balances the shallots’ sweetness with the slightly bitter edge of beer. Making them is easier than you think.
½ pound shallots, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups ShackMeister or other ale
1½ cups flour
Canola oil for frying
Salt
1. Put the shallots, ½ teaspoon of the pepper, and ale into a bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
2. Mix together the remaining ½ teaspoon pepper with the flour in a wide deep dish. Strain the marinated shallots, discarding the marinade.
3. Pour the oil into a deep pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 350°F on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, working in batches, dredge the shallots in the seasoned flour until evenly coated. Transfer them to a sieve, and shake off excess flour.
4. Working in small batches, deep-fry the shallots in the hot oil, turning them halfway through, until golden and crisp, about 1½ minutes. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Season with salt.
The ShackBurger
Okay, here’s our sacred cow!
MAKES 4
Most likely the reason you have this book in your hands—our version of the great American cheeseburger. Like all deceptively simple things, it took us years to get it right, but now you can master burger perfection in five minutes.
4 hamburger potato buns
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons Not Quite Our Shack-Sauce
4 pieces green leaf lettuce
8 ¼-inch slices ripe plum tomato
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix
4 slices American cheese
1. Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, open the hamburger buns and brush the insides with the melted butter. A soft brush is helpful here. Place the buns buttered side down on the griddle and toast until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate. Spoon the sauce onto the top bun. Add a piece of the lettuce and two slices of tomato.
2. Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Evenly sprinkle a pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix on top of each puck of meat.
4. Place the pucks on the griddle, seasoned side down. Using a large, sturdy metal spatula, firmly smash each puck into a 1/3-inch-thick round patty. Pressing down on the spatula with another stiff spatula helps flatten the burger quickly. Evenly sprinkle another big pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix.
5. Cook the burgers, resisting the urge to move them, until the edges beneath are brown and crisp, and juices on the surface are bubbling hot, about 2½ minutes. Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized browned crust. Use the other spatula to steady the burger and keep it from sliding. Flip the burgers. Put the cheese on top and cook the burgers 1 minute longer for medium. Cook more or less depending on your preference.
6. Transfer the cheeseburgers to the prepared buns and enjoy.
OUR SALT & PEPPER MIX
We mix ½ cup kosher salt with ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper and use that mixture to season our burgers as they cook. You’ll see we call for a pinch or two of the mixture in every recipe.
ShackSauce
MAKES ABOUT 1/2 CUP
Long ago we threw away the key to the secret recipe for ShackSauce; but we promise to get you really close with ingredients easily found in your kitchen.
½ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon Heinz ketchup
¼ teaspoon kosher dill pickling brine
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Airbnb Lists the Entire Country of Sweden

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Airbnb is full of accommodating treasures for the traveler with a specific taste. From castles in Ireland to treehouses in Mexico and yurts in Germany, each temporary stay is perfectly unique. Now the site has listed an entire country to its many lodgings.

Visit Sweden has teamed up with Airbnb to give the beautiful country an Airbnb listing. The lakes are your infinity pool, the mountains your granite terrace, and the meadows your garden. The best part is that the whole listing is completely free, thanks to the country’s freedom to roam law. It allows anyone to enjoy the vast abundance of terrains, whether hiking, cycling, or camping.

“This is made possible thanks to a Swedish right guaranteed by the constitution – freedom to roam,” says Jenny Kaiser, USA Country Manager at Visit Sweden. “This right enables the Swedish people to experience nature and enjoy the beautiful Swedish wildlife. In Sweden, we have everything from high mountains to deep forests, from beautiful archipelagos to quiet meadows. Now, together with Airbnb, we welcome everyone to come to Sweden and, through freedom to roam, share our wonderful nature.”

The collaboration is a first of its kind for Airbnb, allowing the travel site to promote the country as a destination. James McClure, General Manager of Northern Europe at Airbnb sees Visit Sweden as a long-term partner in their promotion.

Watch the campaign video and book your Swedish stay with Airbnb.

Mexico’s Glorious Mayakoba Resort Turns Ten

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Spring break had come and gone, but the group of young women waiting to board our short AeroMexico flight to Cancun early one morning recently certainly looked like there was an abundance of overly sweet drinks and cloying DJs in their future. It turned out they were part of a bachelorette party, which wasn’t a surprise at all.

As an entry point to numerous destinations on the Mayan Riviera, Cancun airport sees an interesting mix of travelers: the high-fiving bros and the women who put up with them head to the high-rise hotels on the closest beach; well-heeled nouveau hippies drive an hour and a half south to Tulum, where they can dip a toe into eco-tourism while still eating at restaurants imported from Tribeca; and stressed-out urbanites desperately in need of luxe pampering head for the geographical middle – the opulent multi-resort enclave of Mayakoba.

It’s been a decade since it first appeared – and Mayakoba still thrives by offering remarkably polished yet relaxed service at all of its enclosed resorts, at which the newest, Andaz, we recently dropped our bags. Andaz shares the Mayakoban encampment with three other resort hotels and their accompanying residences, each of which appeal to a slightly different demographic; we came for a long weekend and this is what we found at Andaz Mayakoba.

We’re very big on first impressions, and Andaz nailed it with their circular open-air reception area, The Sanctuary, which is built around a pool designed to resemble the fabled jungle cenotes.

 

Image by Tadeu Brunelli

 

Our airy open plan room looked out on to the hotel’s lagoon, home to hundreds of species of chattering birds – all of which are included in the rate. As was one fat, happy looking iguana – who may have discovered Mayakoba’s array of excellent dining options.

Indeed, with three poolside restaurants-slash-bars at the hotel, and no particular business to be done, cocktails en la piscina was a perpetual option. We couldn’t imagine saying no to an expertly made pina colada…and didn’t.

Guests of each resort have the privilege of touring the other three, expanding dining options exponentially – not that we wasted any time doing the math. Andaz by itself flaunts four superb restaurants, ranging from hipster casual at OllaTaco (Yucatan street food), to elegant fine dining at Casa Amate.

Technically there’s nothing outside of the Mayakoban encampment that you can’t live without; but we were in the middle of a Mayan jungle, so we got out and explored. Tours of the amazing cenotes (underground rivers, pools, and caves) are a must – our new friends at 4Worlds Expeditions escorted us through one of them, as well as taking us to a sacred Mayan cacao ceremony. It wasn’t quite “altered states,” but it was the middle of the afternoon, after all.

 

 

Image by Tadeu Brunelli

 

A series of canals and waterways connecting all four resorts flows throughout Mayakoba; Andaz offers an eco cruise that ferries you through mangrove covered banks while you try to catch a glimpse of a baby croc (we did). Oh and you can have them bring champagne and snacks (we did).

The beach. Do we really need to say? It’s stunning.

But Andaz’ de rigueur spa Naum was where we passed most of our leisure time – with such wellness wonders as a hydrotherapy room featuring a shaved ice face bath and a customized fragrance roll-on, made from ingredients you choose, as a parting gift. The hot stone massage was…hot stuff.

Perhaps we were most charmed however by El Pueblito, at the entrance to Mayakoba. Created to look like a town center of yore, with cafes, shops and even a church and a quaint stone gazebo. It’s a Mexican-inspired recreation of Mexico, in…err, Mexico. How meta.

 

 

 

Images 1,2,4,5,6,7,8 by Jeffrey Leder