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Feeling uninspired last Friday, I opted for a solo burger outing that would be themed in simplicity, without expectation; with a few spots in mind I narrowed my decision by bowing down to better driving sensibilities (still uneasy about the traffic in LA) and favored a location that was convenient and actually, my weekend-workplace: Whole Foods Market.

Coming off of average to low-end burgers the previous week made this idea a gamble—not too many people rave about Whole Foods Market (WFM) burgers—however, I had enough resolve to get there and try one.

The line was small but yielded a deceptively long wait, eight minutes of watching someone decide what he or she wants on his or her nachos can be baffling. At this particular WFM, the burger station is coupled with the taqueiria and while this may seem odd, there are many burger joints that provide fast-food Mexican staples like burritos, tacos, carne asada plates, etc. to supplement the burgers and pastrami.

When it was my turn to order, I kept consistent with the theme of the night… simplicity, and ordered a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion. A warning posted on the menu told me to expect a 15-minute wait. I casually made the rounds and began talking to co-workers, trying to kill time; I eventually circled back to pick up the burger.

I paid $5.99 (before the discount) and with burger in hand, rushed home to open a bottle of the Mercury Geyserville Jug Wine to pair with the night’s selection. The jug wine may sound gimmicky but it is a fairly adept pairing based on the combination of grapes that go into it. No dominant grape torques its pairing preferences thus bringing out different aspects when paired with big foods or simple burgers.

Unwrapping the brown paper, in which it came tightly bound, I noticed a thick patty of meat that wore heavy grill marks. I was eager to bite into it but before I did, I studied the other components, realizing it was akin to a homemade barbecue burger. However, when I picked up the burger the squishiness of the bun was unsettling, this was the first of some serious errors. After the first bite I realized another critical mistake—it was overcooked. This left me pining for condiments, nowhere in sight was thousand-island sauce or ketchup. The patty was desiccated, no juice to be found, I drowned my sorrows by satiating my palate’s demands and drinking heavy gulps of wine with each bite.

Preferring simplicity surrendered unexpected results. Looking back, I know this was not so much the fault of the employee who made the burger but rather with instructions on preparation. WFM must avoid the risk of serving medium rare burgers or anything that could alarm patrons, so they serve up a WELL DONE patty. It’s a shame because it seems like WFM can source the best ingredients to make a worthwhile burger but instead, they play it safe and as a result rank somewhere below c-level.  Next time, I am going for the burrito!

This coming Saturday (5/8) I will be hosting the Burger Bonanza—visiting three separate burger joints in a couple hours time to celebrate the variations of a favorite food. This event has been in the works for some time, especially as I put the Miserly Burger Tour on hold; the new addition to the Burger Bonanza is…wine.

This Saturdays pairing will be different from last weeks tasting because the nature of this event is humongous. We will be giving each individual wine a chance to interact with all three burgers to see if anything is gained by a particular variety of burger, monitoring how each wine pairs to the unique styles of these eateries.

The Jug wine from Mercury Geyserville, Stryker Zinfandel and others will be poured so sit tight and wait for the post on Mother’s day.

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Wine of the Month

Roumier Morey St. Denis 'Clos de la Bussiere' 2008

Eatery of the Month


Jesse's Camarones Restaurant

Musical Accompaniment

Glenn Kotche’s ‘Ping Pong Fumble Thaw’  by The Brooklyn Rider Almanac