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Friday, July 24, 2009

The 4th Annual National Hamburger Festival!

Nick and I look forward to Hamburger Festival weekend all summer. And not just for the Barney Fife impersonator. Seriously, they have a guy who impersonates Barney Fife there every year. I didn't get my picture taken with him this year, but I have in the past. Here's the proof. This was the 1st Hamburger Festival back in August of 2006:

So anyway, no I didn't hang out with Barney this year. Instead Nick and I met up with my new friend and fellow Akron area food blogger, Tom from Exploring Food My Way. Armed with black shirts, red hair (his very real, mine not so much) and cell phones, we found each other quite easily in the big crowd and very quickly started to scope out what we wanted to sample first. We had a little time before the Best Amateur Burger contest was to start, so Tom decided to try Midway Oh Boy Burger from Elyria, Ohio. As sweet as can be, he opted for 3 small sliders so we could each try one. Well Nick took one look at it and declined. I tried it though, as did Tom. The burger was all mayonnaise. Really, it was dripping in it and I actually like my mayo. But it was too much. It overpowered anything else that was on the burger. In fact, other than a very thin, oddly textured burger patty, I have no idea what else was even on the burger other than the mayo.

My first purchase was Metro Burger.

I've heard good, I've heard neutral about Metro Burger. It's so close to where we live and we've yet to try it, which is just plain wrong. So I knew going in that I was definitely going to try them. I decided on the half a cheeseburger.

In the words of Jules Winnfield of the great movie Pulp Fiction, that is a tasty burger! The meat was moist and flavorful, the toppings were fresh, the pickles were crisp. I added the ketchup and mustard myself. I was very happy with this burger, which only drove home the fact that we need to make a trip to the actual restaurant very soon!

Nick wasn't quite ready to delve into burgerness just yet so he opted to get some of Metro Burger's freshly made potato chips.

Delish! There is just something about a freshly made potato chip that cannot be beat. They are never overly salty and rarely ever too greasy. At least not the ones I've had. Maybe I'm just lucky, but those two facts send me to freshly made potato chip stands like a beacon!

So with a nice little taste of a burger and chips, we headed to the tents to watch the competition. Basically the competitors had been cooking already and they were just to present their creations to the four judges. There were two categories, traditional (meaning beef) and non-traditional (meaning anything but beef). Brad from Canal Fulton, Ohio won the beef burger category with a burger that had a combination of jalapenos, hot sauce and was topped with fontina cheese. Victoria of Silver Lake won the non beef category with a salmon and shrimp burger that drew on Asian flavors and was topped with guacamole.

Now, it's time to get back down to business... eating more burgers! Once I saw the menu for Crave, I knew I was getting a burger there. I had to, it said Muffaletta Burger! There was no way I was passing that up.

The burger was whole, not half, but it was a smaller version. Basically you buy tickets at $1 each and then you pay vendors with tickets. Half burgers were 3 tickets, whole were between 5 and 6 tickets. This burger was 3 tickets. I think Tom got his second burger there too, but I can't remember which one. What can I say about the Muffaletta Burger other than YUM! I loved this burger. The meat itself was juicy and delicious, on top of the burger was a chopped olive salad and then the smoked mozzarella was melted over it to keep it in place and then a slice of grilled salami was put on top of the cheese, with Italian mayo (whatever that might be) on the top of the bun.

It was, in a word, incredible and you can bet your ass I'm going to try and recreate it! The people at Crave really paid attention to details and it showed. The salami didn't overpower. In fact, nothing overpowered. It was a perfect marriage of flavors coming together. I honestly can't say enough about it. It was amazing!

It was here we parted company with Tom. Check his blog out, his Hamburger Festival review is coming soon! Nick was still undecided but finally settled on the Steel Trolley Diner from Lisbon, Ohio. Truth be told, he saw someone walking by with a great looking burger, asked them where it was and made a beeline to the stand.

I don't remember exactly what the burger was called, but it had barbecue sauce on it, grilled onions and shredded cheddar cheese. Nick opted for the whole burger since he didn't partake in any before we sent to watch the competition.

Your eyes are not deceiving you. This burger was HUGE. And extremely messy. It was served with a plastic knife sticking out of the top. Good thing too, this burger was begging to be cut in half.

I gave it a try, after pushing the onions off to the side. It's not that I don't like onions. In fact, I like them very much. They just don't like me unless they are thoroughly cooked. These were definitely only partially cooked. I try keep my distance if they aren't completely cooked. But sometimes I just have to take one for the team too... like when I'm at Hoggy's and can't resist their insanely good onion rings. But I digress. So, other than the slop factor, Nick liked this burger a lot.

We decided that we would get some dessert with our remaining tickets and weren't exactly sure what we wanted. They had gelato, chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, funnel cakes, waffle ice cream sandwiches as well as other yummy treats. Of all things we decided on a cheesecake funnel cake with blueberry topping. It's your basic funnel cake but then it has a cheesecake topping on it and on top of that, blueberry fruit topping.

We weren't disappointed! We were covered in powdered sugar by the end of it though. That's just how it is when you eat a funnel cake. It looks like it just snowed all over you. And it was a festival, so funnel cakes are mandatory.

So that's another year at the National Hamburger Festival in Akron, Ohio. I'm already looking forward to next year!

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