Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Heavyweight Fast Food Burger Battle: In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack

I know it's just fast food, but I'll admit, I can be something of a snob when it comes to fast food burgers.

I've ranted about disappointing and overpriced local burgers on the blog before, I've dropped bits of praise for North Carolina chain Cook-Out, and I'm not shy to admit that as a California native the In-N-Out burger chain has always been tops for me.

The issue with In-N-Out is that its locations are confined to California, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, and Utah.  And while I've been living in the eastern half of the country over the past decade, I haven't found myself able to make too many trips back home to the west very often.  This summer, though, K and I flew out to visit her family just outside Las Vegas and I made a quick trip north to see a few members of my family.  Of course getting my hands on some In-N-Out wasn't my top priority, but let's just say that I was pretty determined to make that happen at some point.

I did get to In-N-Out on that trip, and it was still as good as I remembered it--better in some ways, in fact.  But I also recently made a weekend jaunt down to New York City and got my first taste of Danny Meyer's praised and popular Shake Shack burger.  And I have to say, those were some good burgers, too.  In the end, my heart still rests with In-N-Out, though not fully because of the food itself.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


When the organizers of Chowderfest in Troy decided to hold the event in mid-October, I'm guessing part of the idea was that these cups of chowder would serve as a way to warm the attendees standing outside in the crisp fall air. Instead, here we were with yet another day with temperatures around the 70 degree mark.  I'm pretty sure no one's complaining about that, and it sure made for a nice day to wait in long lines in Riverfront Park.

This was my first Chowderfest, and it really was something to see how many people came out for this event--I saw figures estimating attendance at 20,000.  For those who haven't attended (you might be in the minority now), several area restaurants--this year 17--set up tents and cooked their own special version(s) of chowder for the event.  Four ounce cups chowder could be purchased with tickets (one ticket per cup of chowder), which were bought for $1 each prior to heading to the tents.

While it's a pretty fun concept--shown by both the crowd and the fact that this is the seventh year of the event--I also noticed some problems with the execution of Chowderfest that made attending it fairly frustrating.  Below I'll lay out some of those issues, and recap a handful of the chowders I tried this year.