A day so nice I celebrated it twice. I actually did do this but that wasn’t my intention and in retrospect, that’s a lot of beef for one day. It all started as a late lunch. I was working from home this morning so that I could swing by Newport to see the Boat Show at some point during the day. The Boat Show is a Newport institution where every year, mariners and boat sellers alike descend upon the city to show off and sell their boats, yachts, sails, ropes and nautical wares to enthusiastic buyers. It’s a big deal and has been for almost 50 years. It brings a ton of people into town which is good for the hospitality industry too. My company is behind it all. They organize it and run it, so they thought it would be a good idea for me to check it out to see what it’s all about. My plan was to head in early, around 10 am or so, and then come home and finish up my day there. But then they asked if I could pick up a sign at the local FedEx Office and bring it with me to the show. That was no problem but the sign wasn’t going to be ready until 2 pm or so. That meant I didn’t leave my house until 1:30.
It was a beautiful warm Friday afternoon and as I left, I mentioned briefly to Lola about possibly meeting me out in Newport for a date night (depending on how we were feeling.) With that idea running through my brain, I began to think about how this day was going to play out and more importantly, how I could secure a double cheeseburger for my quest. I could push going to a hamburger place for dinner and get my double cheeseburger in that way, but that seemed too casual and we would probably want something a bit more sophisticated. Even if we went to a pub or casual spot that had hamburgers on the menu, the chances of them having an actual double cheeseburger on the menu was extremely slim. As I gave this dilemma serious thought, the Golden Arches suddenly made an appearance on the horizon. I realized this was the easy solution. I could grab a double cheeseburger here now, which I knew they sold (in fact, I knew it was on their value menu). Then I could say the day’s quest was fulfilled and I go about my Friday as usual. I pulled into the drive-thru and ordered the sandwich along with a small Coke. Then I was off to Newport.
The lack of enthusiasm that McDonald’s puts into their burgers is almost laughable. I should say that I order mine plain because I hate mustard and I can do without pickles, ketchup and onions, so my order is not their usual offering. Nonetheless, the emphasis at putting their food together is all about speed and in doing so, they lose some of the prettiness. This burger looks like I pulled it out of a couch cushion and whoever is in charge of putting the cheese on the burgers has poor depth perception. Still, it was as good as any McDonald’s burger. Salty, meaty and a nice soft bun. I ate it in my car rolling down East Main Road and it did the job. Now I had the rest of the day to explore Newport and not worry about where I could get a double cheeseburger.
I ended up parking at my brother’s office on Bellevue because I knew parking would be a bear down by the water. The walk was pretty easy, right down Pelham Street. The only issue arose when a breeze whipped up which would change the poster I was carrying into a sail flying in the wind, but I was able to get a handle on that before I hit America’s Cup. I had to find the Guest Services tent where I could drop off the poster and pick up my credentials. That took some navigating, but the workers were all helpful and pointed me in the right direction. I found someone I knew from my office and gave her everything and then I was off to explore. I first went into the tents and I was amazed at what people were selling. There were a lot of motors and mechanical stuff which was a whole new world for me. Then there were ropes and chains and anchors and floatation devices – it was everything you needed for your boat and then some. The salespeople at each booth were friendly and eager to sell. You could tell it was going to be a long four days for them. There were three or four giant tents each packed with rows of vendor booths all selling their different wares. There were also financial services there too in case you needed a sudden loan to make your boat purchases. After I covered all that space, I walked out onto the docks to see the boats. People were actually selling and buying boats here!
For the boat portion, you walk out on the floating docks where all the boats are moored. The boats are packed into the marina – all docked side by side and the docks wove around it all so you could walk around. Bringing in all the boats and adding the docks must have been quite an undertaking requiring expert seamanship. I’m told our crew has been doing this for years and they are pretty incredible at it. When you are walking around, you can go out on the boats and check them out if you like. I mean if you are buying a $250,000 vessel the least they could do is let you on board and check out the insides. They do ask that you take your shoes off before boarding any vessel – any effort to keep the boats clean. That was something I didn’t know about boat shopping. Meanwhile, the floating docks are all lined with shoes from people checking out the boats. The dark passenger inside me wanted start kicking the shoes in the water, but I refrained. It was really quite a sight and a whole world I never knew existed. There were small wooden boats to million dollar yachts all spread out – and people were asking questions, kicking the tires and buying the ones that tickled their fancy.
When I walked around on my sea legs for about an hour, I figured out I pretty much had covered the whole thing. I didn’t buy any boats which was probably a good thing, nor did I buy any nautical ephemerae (as I’ve been known to do). It was getting close to 4 pm, so before I left I checked in with Lola to see what she was doing but I got no response. That meant she was writing. I decided to just go home and do some more work from there. I walked back up Pelham Street (which was a pretty steep hill) and by the time I got to Bellevue, I had a nice sweat going. I texted my brother to thank him for the use of his lot and I was on my way home. I really wasn’t feeling like doing the Newport thing so going home was perfect. When I got home, I went into my office and got everything squared away for the weekend with work. Eventually I came out to the kitchen and so did Lola, so we discussed our Friday night plans. We decided to stay in and watch a movie which sounded perfect to me. I made a quick jaunt to Clements to get us some dinner. Because I was having a tough time trying to think of what to have for dinner, I decided to make my own double cheeseburgers. I got everything I needed and started grilling as soon as I got home. My burgers looked much better than McDonald’s.
To be honest, these weren’t my best. I may have overcooked the meat too much or didn’t season them enough. I had all the right fixings. I had a couple of fresh, soft bulkie rolls that I toasted up on the grill. A little grilling tip: to get your buns nice and toasted, spread mayonnaise on them before placing on the grill. That sounds gross, but really you are essentially just adding a little fat (oil) to the bun in an easily spreadable form and when it sits over the flame, you get a nice even toast over the bun. I used arugula for the lettuce which I like – gives it a nice peppery taste. I had a fresh tomato in the fridge, so I sliced that up and put it on the roll along with the arugula and some mayo. I had a “stacker” pickle on mine although Lola opts against a pickle on her burger. Then the burger patties were topped with American Cheese. It looked pretty great. But it was just ok. Maybe I was burgered out. I used smaller patties for this which cooked pretty fast and is likely why I overcooked them. I think bigger burgers give you the chance to have more flavor and juiciness. But if you are having double cheeseburgers, you can’t have your burger patties too big. Otherwise you are eating over a pound of meat.
I understand the allure of a double cheeseburger. If made right, it allows you to get a layer of cheese in the middle of your burger which is a great innovation. Plus, you get everything you enjoy on a regular cheeseburger with just a little more meat and cheese. Nothing wrong with that. However, making a good double cheeseburger is a skill. You can’t just toss it all together. It has to be well-balanced so you get a little bit of everything. It’s not just supersizing a burger – it’s creating a balance in taste and enjoyment. Plus, you can’t overcook it. So today I learned to appreciate the double cheeseburger for what it is – a finely crafted burger. That’s something I can get behind. And looking ahead, I hope I learn to make a better one. I plan on serving them on my boat.
Next up: National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day