During the past six months, I have eaten weekly with this city's best chefs. They have fed me dishes such as: poached leeks, Spanish ham and fresh goat's cheese with brown butter vinaigrette; warm salad of sweetbreads with spring vegetables, crushed peas and yogurt; pork fillet with freekeh and slow-roasted baby carrots; and on and on. After so long on this trail of gourmet wonder, I had reached the point where what I felt like most was a burger, absolutely desecrated with cheese.
This is not to say I wanted to slum it. If I've learned anything from the previous six months of eating high on the hog - and learning has never been the point - it's that good food does not happen without great care. I wanted a burger that had been conceived by a genius and created by an artisan. I wanted something that might reasonably be called a hipster burger.
I sought and desired that level of pretension because I knew that pretension is the surest indication of an attempt at creating meaning, and that food is the purest form of meaning.
To expand on this, or possibly to say something completely unrelated, I wanted a burger that would make me the happiest person in Auckland. Everybody knows that the place to get such a burger is Burger Burger, a place whose name is so search engine-optimised for success in their field that they could probably serve pizza and still be Auckland's number one burger place.
Their patty, with meat selected from three different parts of the beast, for a mix of flavour and texture, was developed by executive chef Adrian Chilton over seven and a half months, using meat from the forequarter, rear end, and finished with wagyu fat, which is the tastiest two-word phrase yet used in this series.
The bun development process took eight months. Chilton started out with brioche (for its richness and lightness) but felt it was too sweet, so he took out half the sugar and added some sourdough for sourness and to prevent the bun from "tearating", which is a made-up word, but by far the best word yet used in this series.
As we ate, Chilton said of the burger: "It's like a perfect dish really, because it's got your protein, it's got your richness from the mayos, the sharpness of the pickles, then the carbohydrate."
He said that he had wanted to make a burger that wasn't seen as a cheap, fast-food option, and it was presumably in support of this notion that he then dropped some names: "Every chef, like I've got Nick Honeyman who's a good friend of mine, Michael Meredith, they all come and they love the burger because it's such a simple thing."
Honeyman and Meredith are good chefs and attractive men, and as I plunged on through the Burger Burger burger, sauce and mayo no doubt coagulating in my beard, unable to pull my mouth away from the meaty, bloody goodness long enough to care, I might have thought about "proper chefs" like them and and how their food might be philosophically compared to this, but I didn't. My brain was so awash in the chemicals of pleasure, I was able to think of nothing at all.
Adrian Chilton's scores (out of five):
Bun appreciation: 5
Prevention of tearation: 5
Search engine optimisation: 5
Recipe: Beef & cheese burger
1 x burger bun
1 x 170g beef patty
2 x thick slices of aged cheddar
1 Tbsp tomato jam
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
6 coin-cut slices of your favourite pickle
Salt & pepper to season
Heat oil in a fry pan until hot and cook the patty for approx 3 minutes on each side for a medium finish.
Season with a pinch of salt & pepper.
Once cooked, add the cheese slices on to the patty and melt under the grill briefly.
To assemble the burger , cut the bun in half, butter both sides and toast them under the grill for a few seconds until they begin to golden.
Spread the tomato jam on the bottom bun. Next add the beef patty and cheese.
On the top bun add the mustard, mayo and pickles. Place the top of the bun on to your burger and you are ready to serve.