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Between eating, drinking, interviewing, photographing, writing, editing, and posting, it’s natural for a writer to wonder every now and then if there’s anybody listening out there. Fortunately, we have shares, retweets, and web analytics to quell the fear that one’s readership has abandoned them, but the best confirmations come when someone from the outside world drops me a line. One of the most interesting of these instances occurred a few weeks ago when Grant Tondro, the owner of Urge American Gastropub (16761 Bernardo Center Drive, Rancho Bernardo) reached out with an interesting proposition.

That week, he’d read two pieces I’d written describing a pair of subpar experiences at burger restaurants. In one post, I lamented the lack of salt and poor exotic ingredient selections. In the other, it was portion size and a host of other problems. Spurred by these, Tondro asked if I’d like to try my hand at developing a burger recipe on a professional level. His idea was that I cook up something to be billed as the Off Duty Foodie Burger (after my Twitter handle, @offdutyfoodie) that he would run as a one-month special. I like burgers, I like Urge, I like putting myself out there. What was there to think about? I accepted immediately.


So, starting early next week and running the rest of this month, the Off Duty Foodie Burger will be available for $13. In developing it, I tried to pinpoint a theme to center everything around. Figuring I’d knocked a venue for the ingredients they’d utilized to make a Mediterranean burger, I went that route. It’s only fair after all. In doing so, I went with a patty that boosts high quality beef with added zest from pork chorizo sausage to guarantee no shortage of flavor or seasoning. Cheese is a must for any burger, and I went with Spanish Manchego, a mild sheep’s milk variety that’s one of my personal favorites.

On the topping front, there are roasted red peppers, romaine lettuce and the same habanero pickle chips I contributed the recipe for in the beer-centric cookbook Brew Food: Great Beer Inspired Appetizers, Main Courses, and Desserts. There's also pacetta that's been glazed with a mixture of honey and mustard, then baked until sweet and crispy. As for condiments, there are two—roasted garlic aioli and a sherry vinegar onion marmalade. All of that’s sandwiched between two toasted hamburger bun halves. No ciabatta, no sourdough, no non-pretzel shaped pretzel bread. Just good old fashioned bread, the way God intended. Oh, and if you want ketchup, you go ahead and have it. I'm proudly pro-choice on that front!

It’s an honor to have one of my recipes available in a restaurant setting for the public to try, and it’s something I didn’t take lightly. A lot of thought went into this burger and it’s my sincere hope that all who try it out enjoy it. And if I may be so bold (it’s how this whole thing came about in the first place, so why start being timid now), allow me to suggest sampling that burger with a fine local craft beer.

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