75 burgers. 8 Bruce Springsteen
concerts. 6 flights. 15 trains. 4 car journeys. 8 queues. 100s Bruce Buds. 4 Grey Hairs. 2 inches. 1 dress size. 54 blog posts. 1 important burger chat.
That’s the edited version for those tight on time.
Have I really eaten that many burgers? I won’t talk about them all, I could bore you with a detailed analysis for days. But there’s definitely been some highlights. It starts with the Burger Bear
, who serves up some of the best burgers in London with a massive dollop of ‘bacon jam’ – the combination shouldn’t alarm you, it’s a glorious sweet and sticky concoction like no other. This year I also discovered that each country puts its own talented spin on their burgers. Take Turkey for example, a country famed for hot and steamy hammams, and steaming hot ‘wet burgers
‘ in Istanbul too. But they didn’t make me squirm and wretch, the moist, garlic soaked bread was surprisingly satisfying. The next international burger stop was Paris and a place called Big Fernand
, where veal burgers come oozing with cheese and heavy doughy bread, enjoyed with a soundtrack of synthy 80s tunes including Bronski Beat and Billy Idol.
My burger travels have also taken me on bike rides to the coast of England to Brighton, visiting The Troll’s Pantry
for an appropriately named “Stinky Breath” burger – with blue cheese and anchovies. Finally a burger chef who is keen to break the mould, by, er, using mould. This year my beloved Shake Shack also opened in London
– a burger restaurant close to my heart, and half of the inspiration behind this blog, the second half being the Springsteen concert a few hours later in New York.
Onwards to Florence where burgers aren’t the norm, so instead I tried the equivalent – a ‘tripe sandwich
‘ – also known as a ‘workman’s lunch’, it was…interesting. But not the worst burger of the year by far. That award would have to go to the new Five Guys
in London – greasy, heavy and stodgy, it made me question the future of this blog for a little while. Sadly there were more bad burger low points to come – I conned myself into trying the 1955 burger
at McDonalds, one of the most dismal burger experiences of 2013 (especially when Lady Antebellum started playing). I was also duped by the talk of “truffel ei” in Amsterdam. “Mmmmm how decadent, a burger with truffle,” I thought to myself. It turns out “truffel ei” means egg mayonnaise, which I can say with full confidence has no place in a burger
Within all of this has been an incredible year of Bruce-ing (new verb) for Springsteen fans. Gearing up to the second stage of the Wrecking Ball tour, I put together a step by step “Beginner’s Guide
” to seeing Springsteen live. Shame I can’t take my own advice, I’ve spent too many hours this year wearing emergency ponchos kindly donated by fellow fans. The first concert of 2013 for me was at Wembley Stadium
, with Darkness On The Edge of Town
played in full, and that Land Of Hope and Dreams
opener. What. A. Night.
A few days later I took to the road with my dad for our first Springsteen concert together, in Coventry
. We swapped burgers for pies and watched the band perform Born to Run
– the album that introduced me to Bruce’s music, with my dad providing just a little encouragement too.
Up next was a bit of sun stroke at Hard Rock Calling
, Born In The USA
from start to finish, and a picture for Marie Claire magazine, who kindly labelled me an “adult obsessive” in a feature on Superfans. I think I prefer the word “passionate”.
Grabbing my tickets and my suitcase I headed off to Rome, the one with THAT set list
– NYC Serenade
, Kitty’s Back
, an emotion filled night – oh to be back there again, surrounded by those excitable Italians with their trendy fogged up glasses. There was more fun to come in Belfast
, followed by a dark, sweaty and intimate indoor concert in Leeds
, before the final two rounding of the tour at the Kilkenny weekender
The time was spent with dear Bruce Buds, like-minded people who understand my supposed “irrational” behaviour and would you believe it, encourage it! Shoulder to shoulder we jumped to Badlands and swayed to Secret Garden and Drive All Night. Oh Bruce Buds, I miss you, you brilliant people.
After all this fun there had to come a low, and the Bruce Blues
hit me hard. The Bruce Buds were there for me of course, giving me tips on how to cope and contributing to this post
, helping others make it through the dark days as well. National Burger Day also helped ease me through the tough times, call it emotional eating, on the 27th August I ate eight burgers and reviewed them
the only way I knew how at that point, with Springsteen songs. But the time for reflection continued. I listened to Bruce, and pondered over how even though I press play on his music every day, with each song it’s like I’ve heard it for the first time
. Every day I discover the genius song writer that is Bruce Springsteen.
He’s not all good however. Being a Springsteen fan comes with a huge amount of stress (financial, emotional…) and I’m certain it’s turning my hair grey
. I’m no silver surfer just yet, but as I sit here fretting about whether there’ll be a European tour next year, I’m likely to be slicking back more silver strands sooner than I deem acceptable. Is it unfair to blame Bruce Springsteen for me starting to go grey? Yes probably, but we already know that I’m not a rational thinker.
This year hasn’t just been about Springsteen’s music though. I’ve rediscovered my rocky youth with a bluesy metal banned called The Cyborgs
who supported Bruce and the band in Rome, I’ve swayed along with 60 year old hippies listening to Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen
in Leeds and Lucca, and I’m now tempted to take up the fiddle or the mandolin after seeing The Waterboys
perform their 1989 album Fisherman’s Blues
. Although I didn’t get to see him live on his Irish tour, Jake Clemons
the saxophonist for the E Street Band also had a chat with me
about his time touring with his own band, also telling me about what he has learnt from Bruce Springsteen. And what burgers he likes, naturally.
Saving my best bite to last, that conversation. A burger chat with Bruce Springsteen
. Was I cool, calm and collected? Of course not. I rambled on about Shake Shack
burgers, squeaked my way through a description of this blog and the term “Bruce Buds”, and described his Rome concert as “amazing” (seriously, could I not have thought of a better word after all of these years??). He listened. Smiled. And slowly, very easily, talked me through the “art” of burgers. What he likes, what he doesn’t, detailing how burgers have changed over the decades.
He was effortlessly cool, demonstrating exceptional burger knowledge, his favourite type of patty and bun combination being a simple, humble, diner style burger. What a relief. When I told him about my dad introducing me to his music, he wrote him a note. Six months later I still haven’t handed it over. I just can’t:
Am I a terrible person? I’ll make sure he’ll get it one day…
And there it is. A brief summary of how 2013 went for a burger loving Bruce Springsteen fan.
Excuse me a second and pass me the microphone. This seems like a good chance to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read Burgers and Bruce this year, or tell me you’ve enjoyed it. It hasn’t always been easy – I’ve spent too many hours feeling frustrated with techie stuff and uploading images of crap burgers. But your encouragement has kept me writing.
So, in answer to Bruce Springsteen’s all important question “IS THERE ANYBODY ALIVE OUT THERE?”
The answer is YES – and I hope to meet many more of you in 2014!!
Everyone will have their own 2013 burger and Bruce Springsteen related highlights to share. Tell me about yours below – sharing is caring!