The thought of writing this article is already making me hungry. Browsing through my burger photos tells me that this struggle is real! As many can relate, burgers are my kryptonite. Who will not sway to the tune of iuicy patties, crispy yet pillowy buns and oozing melted cheese?

Throughout my childhood, I only knew of Jollibee Langhap Sarap Yumburgers. Back then, I did not remember being so hooked on burgers as much as I do now. I found out as an adult that a burger could well be a culinary masterpiece. It can be only as good as the ingredients you put into it. 

Then who do I point to as the culprits for changing my burger point of view? Let me lead you through the line-up..

1. Shake Shack 

The ShackBurger ($5.29 or PhP244.75); Photo by Michelle Africa

The Shack Burger is their basic burger. You will find cheese, tomato, lettuce and their signature Shack sauce. to go with their burger patty. Their pride is their 100% natural angus beef patty, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source verified. This is Beethoven to my ears! In fact, from the wall menu, they post where the beef they serve came from. They show the food industry how to keep a wide scale operation but still mindful of sustainable food production.  It may not be the best burger in my books. But the philosophy behind Shake Shack about being kind to the planet makes a whole lot of sense to me.

2. Schnippers Quality Kitchen

Schnippers Classic ($9.50 or PhP 441.30) and Sweet Potato Fries with Maple Dipping Sauce ($4.19 or PhP 194.63); Photo by Michelle Africa

Schnippers Quality Kitchen quickly became my favorite burger chain in New York City, thanks to its Schnippers Classic. The burger is cooked with crispy ends. With it comes only the good stuff: caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, a special cheese blend, and Schnippers sauce. It is the perfect bite! Pair that with their sweet potato fries and a maple dipping sauce on the side. Tell me, what is a girl to do?

There were many others that I tried and loved. There were just too many to choose from. Worthy of mention were Burger Joint at The Parker Meridien (Probably worth an article in itself), The Five Guys, etc. All I know is, Shake Shack and Schnippers inspired me enough to take on another D.I.Y project. And this project is made at home, made with love.

Going back in Manila, a burger craving brought about by The Shack and Schnippers is hard to appease. Truth be told, there aren't a lot that fit that bill. When I Can't Get No Satisfaction, Charlie's Grind and Grill at the Ronac Center in Greenhills comes to my rescue. But for all other days, you know you have to do it in your own kitchen.

On my father's birthday, we invited a dear guest to take over our kitchen. Chef John offered to make us his very own patty melt. It was the perfect present to our main man. He just loves American classics. A patty melt party was just perfect.  

Building the patty melt feast from scratch required a strict list of ingredients. For the patty, we chose 3 parts of Australian striploin, 1 part of Australian chuck steak. We had to keep in mind the lean meat and fat content of the burger for best results. Our cheese of choice was Emmenthal, which was the best priced Swiss cheese around. We garnished our sandwich with minced button mushrooms sauteed in butter. The bread we used was a soft and fluffy sliced wheat bread. But that was countered with a spread of salted butter. We kept with our old reliable Ambassador Salted Butter which was the cheaper version of President. It tastes just as good!

At the dinner, our griddle sizzled with all the goodness laid on it. The guests were buzzing with excitement. We eagerly waited for our burgers cooked to order. Take note, the burger patties tipped the scales at 150 grams each. Each sandwich gets also 4 slices of the Emmenthal. No cheating here. No complaints. There is equality in Burgerland! Yay!

A crack of salt and pepper while on the grill filled the entire home with meaty aroma. It was hot, almost uncomfortable, especially for our chef du jour. Look at this griddle, it is a sight to behold!

Very soon, le chef was dishing the patty melts like pancakes. The recipients smiled like they brought home a their favorite candy from the candy store. The fries were served in individual newspaper cone-shaped pouches. Watching the guests savor every bite, eyes closed, was pure joy for Chef John. Well done to the man of the hour. This was a culinary slam-bang affair. 

I was curious how much the patty melt cost per person. It was around PhP150, a little over 3 bucks per serving. Almost every ingredient used for the Patty Melt was imported. That pretty much explained why it cost that much. But pennies aside, this dinner delivered on its promise. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Shake Shack
Various Locations
Schnippers Quality Kitchen
Various Locations Around New York City
P.S. This article also appears on my personal blog, Chowpowwows, where chow is always on the lowdown. 

Published by Michelle Africa