The rise of the gourmet burger trend
The rise of the gourmet burger trend
But what makes a burger stand out? Food buffs will cite the quality of the ingredients and the originality of the fillings and toppings.
The bun could be an artisanal brioche, sourdough or seeded bun. The meat patty is usually made from fresh, organic beef and comes from the best cuts — the upper or inner shoulder of the animal, for example. The meat might be served in an unusual style, like a brisket or steak with chorizo sausage sandwiched between layers. The toppings and sauces take it up a notch, ranging from the usual lettuce and tomato combo to more unusual offerings such as sunny-side up eggs, grated parmesan, Monterey Jack cheese, mustard aioli, mango and beetroot.
International chains — such as BurgerFuel from New Zealand and Five Guys and Shake Shack from the US — have infiltrated the Middle East and garnered fans, but what about homegrown options?
Aloft Hotels across the country run a gourmet burger customization station as part of their weekly theme nights. Chef Rasheed Badharudeen at Aloft Dhahran told Arab News that the most unusual requests so far have come from customers who want cream cheese, labneh and pineapple slices on their burgers. The hotel chain also bakes za’atar and turmeric brioche buns in-house, offering traditional Middle Eastern flavors to their guests.
A food blogger and critic based in Saudi Arabia, who goes by the online name @foodwithshayne, told Arab News that, despite the rise of gourmet burger restaurants in the country, it could be an even “bigger, bolder and better trend.” The veteran foodie pronounces the “American Muscle” burger from BurgerFuel as one of his all-time favorite burgers in the Kingdom, saying: “The whole combination of mustard aioli, pickles and sweet relish with cheddar cheese adds flavor to the meat and the patty is done just right. (That is) why the ‘American Muscle’ is one of my top burgers.”
Ingredients aside, “another factor that plays a role in the burgeoning popularity of gourmet burgers is branding,” Shankar Sivanander, head of marketing for Aloft Hotels in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.
“The value that an iconic brand like In-N-Out offers creates hype among new customers and is one of the reasons why people are willing to wait in long lines to try out the much-hyped classic In-N-Out burger and milkshake combination,” he said of the US-based burger brand.
Wow factor also plays a major role in encouraging hungry consumers to take a bite. Instagram-worthy burgers around the world have made headlines in recent years, with Burger King’s black Whopper in 2015 sparking more than a few shocked headlines.
Earlier this year, a record-breaking burger sold for $10,000 in Dubai. Dubbed “the world’s most expensive burger,” the “Seven Emirates Burgerstack” was stuffed with veal bacon and aged cheddar placed between two saffron brioche burger buns.
Instagram is brimming with shots of creative burgers, from sushi-style offerings — where mounds of compacted sushi rice replace the buns — to the bizarre spaghetti burger created by the now-closed PYT outlet in Philadelphia. A mozzarella-stuffed meatball was sandwiched between spaghetti noodles that had been constructed into a bunlike form. Strange? Maybe. Worth a try? Definitely.
From the whacky to the classic, this food category is unique in that it can be reinvented time and time again. Now, be it beef in brioche buns or chicken in a powdered roll, it is time to head out and sink your teeth into a flavorful, juicy burger.
Where to get your burger fix in Saudi Arabia
Feed your cravings by giving these worthy burger joints a try. Be sure to visit on an empty stomach!
FireFly Burger, Jeddah
Known for its big buns, this burger joint has a loyal following and offers a particularly delicious “Kamikaze Burger,” consisting of a 150g beef patty and sweet chili sauce topped with pickles and tomatoes.
PIN Burger, Alkhobar
This food truck has garnered fans for its culinary offerings. The menu is simple but each dish is made to perfection, with the rosemary fries and classic burger being especially sought after.
Ranch Burger, Dammam
For the freshest burgers in town, head to Ranch Burger in Dammam. From the fresh meat patty to juicy toppings and the side of crispy, crinkle-cut fries, this meal is sure to satisfy your burger cravings.
UN: Global fight against AIDS is at ‘precarious point’
- ‘There are miles to go in the journey to end the AIDS epidemic. Time is running out’
- Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have become infected with HIV
LONDON: Complacency is starting to stall the fight against the global AIDS epidemic, with the pace of progress not matching what is needed, the United Nations warned on Wednesday.
The United Nations’ HIV/AIDS body UNAIDS said in an update report that the fight was at a “precarious point” and while deaths were falling and treatment rates rising, rates of new HIV infections threatened to derail efforts to defeat the disease.
“The world is slipping off track. The promises made to society’s most vulnerable individuals are not being kept,” the report said. “There are miles to go in the journey to end the AIDS epidemic. Time is running out.”
Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, noted in the report’s foreword that there had been great progress in reducing deaths from AIDS and in getting a record number of people worldwide into treatment with antiretroviral drugs.
The report said an estimated 21.7 million of the 37 million people who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS were on treatment in 2017, five and a half times more than a decade ago.
This rapid and sustained increase in people getting treatment helped drive a 34 percent drop in AIDS-related deaths from 2010 to 2017. AIDS deaths in 2017 were the lowest this century, at fewer than a million people, the report said.
But Sidibe also pointed to what he said were “crisis” situations in preventing the spread of HIV, and in securing sustained funding.
“The success in saving lives has not been matched with equal success in reducing new HIV infections,” he said. “New HIV infections are not falling fast enough. HIV prevention services are not being provided on an adequate scale ... and are not reaching the people who need them the most.”
Sidibe said a failure to halt new infections among children was a big worry.
“I am distressed by the fact that in 2017, 180,000 children became infected with HIV, far from the 2018 target of eliminating new HIV infections among children,” he wrote.
Data in the report showed that overall among adults and children worldwide, some 1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2017.
Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have become infected with HIV. Almost half of them — 35.4 million — have died of AIDS.
The report said that at the end of 2017, $21.3 billion was available for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries. More than half of that came from domestic funding sources rather than international donors. UNAIDS estimates that $26.2 billion will be needed to fund the AIDS fight in 2020.
“There is a funding crisis,” Sidibe said. While global AIDS resources rose in 2017, there was still a 20 percent shortfall between what is needed and what is available.
Such a shortfall will be “catastrophic” for countries that rely on international assistance to fight AIDS, Sidibe said.