As our fearless 30-burgers-in-30-days critic moves on to ice cream, some of us are still thinking about burgers. Because it's suddenly June, which means summer, or so we have been told. And so, we are now calendar-committed to stocking up on charcoal, grinding our own beef (it's easy, promise), and perfecting those homemade buns (yeah, we get the joke). In between, we'll be slathering on the condiments.
Did we miss a great local condiment? Turn the page, and let us know.
10. Orgasmo de la Boca Pickled Garlic Olives
We've told you about Alessandra Innamorato's small-batch smoked olives before, but that was before she introduced two new flavors, including a pickled garlic olive (yeah, also packed in olive oil) that would be great diced and served as a muffaletta-style pesto on a burger. There is also, well, free food and sex advice involved. A buttery Grease (Greece?) olive-oil era. Right. Apologies, it's entirely too early in the summer to go there.
9. Chicks With Knives Bacon Jam: Straight from the burger-a-day mouth. Elina Shatkin is a fan of Chicks With Knives bacon jam with caramelized onion, with the caveat that yeah, it's similar to what's on the ubiquitous Father's Office burger, only with a bacon kick. But hey, if it's good. It's good.
8. Earl's Gone Wild BBQ Sauce: This Ventura company shuns any ingredients that aren't made in the contiguous states (a reminder: If it's “global,” it isn't local). That “Earl's gone wild!” slogan is what it is all about here. Big flavor makes even sub-par burger grilling jobs taste pretty darn good.
7. Vivi's Carnival Mustard: Because it is (or supposed to be, at least) that carnival fun time of year. And the mustard is good in that tangy, in-your-face way. A local schoolteacher makes this mustard inspired by a recipe her grandparents, carnival circuit regulars served up with their hot dogs. If this mustard makes you rethink the word “carnies,” a word that has perhaps gotten undue dark highlights, well, we say that's worth a second hot dog.
8. Baja relish, Viola's Gourmet: Another school teacher by day, but by night — and summer — Nancy Rowland has spent the past twenty years making relish inspired by those her grandmother, Viola Rowland, made as a caterer in the 1930s and 1940s for the likes of celebs such as Doris Day and cosmetics magnate Max Factor. And yeah, despite the celeb factor, that “Baja Relish” truly deserves the burger life.
7. Cast Iron Gourmet Bacon: Bacon. Burgers. Is there really anything more to say? Yeah, local bacon.
6. Let's Be Frank Devil Sauce: What is a hot dog condiment doing on a burger round-up? Well, the Let's Be Frank Devil Sauce good. And hot. Not much more to ask of summer, really.
5. Sono Mustard: We seem to be the only ones who haven't tried Sono mustard. But so many folks have told us it's great, we're adding your kudos here.
4. Kruegermann Sweet Pickle Relish: The Kruegermanns have been making pickles a long time. In Germany, you can count the pickles by centuries. Here, it's 50+ years. Either way, this relish is good. Really good.
3. Kruegermann Naturally Fermented Pickles: These are the secret stash for what the current generation of Kruegermanns call “for our old German customers from when Dad started out.” Which in plain English means they don't want the rest of us to know how good these naturally fermented (as in, the same way sauerkraut is made, no vinegar) pickles really taste, because they'd have to make a lot more of them. And no, you are not going to find these pickles at local “artisan” food events. These are cucumber craftsmen. But you can find them at German specialty retailers like European Deluxe in Beverly Hills.
2. Laura Ann's magic mustard: Laura Ann Masura of Laura Ann's Jams in Echo Park also makes mustard. Really great mustard. Laura Ann's mustard stuff is killer on burgers, hot dogs, we don't really care what. That Champagne thing. Or maybe just a mustard seed thing.
1. Jim Brown's Relish: The man behind Jim Brown's relish is a fantastic contradiction. He can sell you a jar at Whole Foods simply on his sing-song charm. But then the sales pitch is over. He is refreshingly confident in the flavor of that 1920s tomato ketchup-based relish. (How much more local can you get than the first… very first… local cheeseburger relish?) And so Brown leaves it to us to taste. And to decide. And crown it hands down the best burger condiment: one that is not at all “fancy,” but hits young, old, neo-gourmet and conservative ketchup skeptic alike. Just as the perfect all- American burger condiment should be.