“Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius.”

Matthew McConaughey

Oh my, Burger Fi. Sorry, I’m not usually that corny but it felt appropriate. It’s always so strange for me when my “real-life” BurgerFi-9job and my blog intermingle. I was invited to a press event for Burger Fi (860 New Loudon Rd, Latham) for my “real-life” job so I figured, might as well take advantage and write about it on my blog! I walk in and the place is beautiful! The press event was Tuesday and the restaurant opened Wednesday at 11AM.

If you didn’t already know, BurgerFi is actually a franchise. Our local location is owned by Angelo Mazzone and Bill Lia (Burger Ventures LLC). BurgerFi, as they listed in their press release “was founded on the belief of creating a better guest experience through serving a high-quality, gourmet chef-inspired food.” They pride themselves on serving never frozen, grass-fed, hormone-free, steroid-free, and anti-biotic free Angus beef with their focus on giving back to local communities. All of their ingredients are natural, fresh and cut, chopped, mixed and prepared daily.

Each BurgerFi location is built to reduce its carbon footprint on the environment. Tables are constructed using compressed wood and chairs are made from 111 recycled Coke bottles, large fans utilize 66 percent less electricity, and strict recycling policies.  I love the effort they’re putting in to not only have a delicious product but help the environment in the process. I respect that.

Now, what you’re here for, how the tasting went. We had a special menu for tasting and had the opportunity to taste a good number of items on their menu. If you don’t want to read my step-by-step, check out my TL;DR at the bottom for a quick overview.

PARM + HERB FRY: HAND-CUT FRIES TOSSED IN OUR SIGNATURE PARMESAN + HERB BLEND — I’m going to preface this with saying thatBurgerFi-1 I’m not a huge French fry person but I know what I like and I wasn’t really impressed. We started with these so I was worried what was to come when I wasn’t too excited about the fries. They weren’t terrible but they weren’t special They were soft, the flavor was okay but not incredibly strong. What I did really like was the Parmesan sauce, that was delicious. The problem is that it’s drizzled so once I ate the fries off of the top, the sauce was gone. (Regular $3.27/Large $4.37/ Bucket $6.57 + $0.97 for the Parmesan + Herb sauce)

URBAN STYLE CRY + FRY: AN ONION RING + FRY COMBO, TOSSED IN PARMESAN + TOPPED WITH HERB + GARLIC BurgerFi-2AIOLI– The fries used in this are the same hand-cut fries so I could do without the fries. On the flip side, coming from someone who doesn’t like onion rings, theirs were delicious! Not only were they the size of my face but they were so lightly breaded yet crisp. I can’t wait to go back and just get an order of those. If you’re getting a burger, don’t leave without the rings! (Onion Rings Regular $4.37/ Large $4.97 or Cry + Fry $5.47)

BURGER FI CHEESEBURGER: DOUBLE NATURAL ANGUS BURGER, DOUBLE AMERICAN CHEESE, LETTUCE, TOMATO & BurgerFi-3BURGERFI SAUCE — It was about this moment when we realized that we weren’t getting one burger to taste but 4 and a hot dog so I started to pace myself. I got two bites in of these burger and it took everything in me to not finish it. It was delicious. The burgers were hearty and juicy but not too overwhelming so I didn’t honestly realize I was eating two of them. The cheese was perfectly melted and I don’t know what magic they put in that BurgerFi sauce but I want to put it on everything. It was definitely a gourmet burger, similar to a Shake Shack style for comparison. The coolest part was they had their logo burnt into the bun, it didn’t change the flavor of the burger but it was a nice little touch ($5.97).

BREAKFAST ALL DAY BURGER: NATURAL ANGUS BURGER, AMERICAN CHEESE, HICKORY BACON, MAPLE BurgerFi-4SYRUP, FRIED EGG, HASH BROWN, GRILLED ONIONS & KETCHUP — I didn’t expect to like this but I really did! I didn’t get a strong maple syrup flavor and was surprised to read that it was on the burger somewhere. The bacon made it but bacon is amazing so that’s to be expected. The hash brown was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside as it should be. Note, because of the hash brown, this is a singular burger patty. Be careful when eating this though because the fried egg is runny and gooey so expect to have to lick that delicious yolk off of your fingers when you’re done ($9.97)!

BRISKET BURGER: DOUBLE 28-DAY DRY-AGED GROUND BRISKET BURGER, SWISS AND BLUE BurgerFi-5CHEESES, LETTUCE, TOMATO, PICKLES & BURGERFI SAUCE — This, though delicious, was my least favorite burger. That’s not to say I hated it, because I didn’t, not at all, it just so happened that it was my least favorite. The burger itself was delicious. Juicy, well-constructed and delicious but not only was it too tall for me to take a solid bite with all the ingredients, there was a lot going on. Looking at the burger itself, you could tell that it was brisket and not regular hamburger meat. I think the mis-step in my opinion were the cheeses. The blue cheese plus the swiss plus the sauce just wasn’t my favorite. The way I’d construct it? One burger, just blue cheese but a lesser amount, leave the rest the same (Called “The Twenty-Eight” on the menu, $10.57).

VEGEFI BURGER: CRISPY QUINOA, LENTIL + FRESH-CUT VEGGIE BURGER, WHITE CHEDDAR, LETTUCE, BurgerFi-6TOMATO ON GREENSTYLE WRAP & BURGERFI SAUCE — I loved this. I can’t put into words how much I loved this. I love that there’s not only a veggie option but it’s available with a lettuce bun. The quinoa burger was crispy and didn’t fall apart when I bit into it. I had the deep-fried option and could taste it, I would’ve liked to have tried the grilled quinoa option. That said, I had already tried 3 other burgers by this point and this one I finished. If I had the option, I probably would get the “Conflicted Burger ($7.47)” which is one hamburger and one quinoa burger. Was this my favorite? No, but if you’re a vegetarian or looking to eat a little lighter, this is a great burger substitute and you don’t have to worry about going to a burger place with your friends ($6.97).

CHICAGO STYLE WAGYU BEEF DOG: WAGYU BEEF DOG, MUSTARD, NEON RELISH, ONION, BurgerFi-7TOMATO, SPORT PEPPERS, CELERY SALT, PICKLE SPEAR ON A POPPY BUN — There was so much stuff on this hot dog, it was hard to taste the dog by itself. It was a delicious hot dog, but the condiments were over-powering. I know that’s the point of a Chicago dog and it’s not something I’m used to but that was the flavor I got. The condiments were delicious and as a total package, I enjoyed it but I’m more of a burger person than a hot dog person anyway. If you like hot dogs, definitely give this one a try because it was good on its own (Kobe-Style Beef $5.47/ Chicken Apple $4.97/Vienna Beef $3.97 + $1.00 for Chicago-style).

RED VELVET CONCRETE: VANILLA CUSTARD WITH LAYER UPON LAYER OF RED VELVET — Well, if you have room left over after your delicious burger, you need to order this. The red velvet was really good but the vanilla custard was out of this world. The consistency was perfect, the flavor was spot on- I loved it and if I didn’t love their burgersBurgerFi-8 so much, I’d go there, grab a spoon, and just order this concrete. If you don’t get this, you’re seriously missing out ($5.57)

CHOCOLATE SHAKE: THICK, RICH AND DELICIOUS MADE WITH ALL NATURAL FARM FRESH, OLD-FASHIONED CHOCOLATE CUSTARD — Thank goodness I left room for these two at the end! This shake was lighter but still with the heaviness of the custard that separates it from any ol’ milk shake. It’s served with a straw so it’s just liquidy enough but still with some substance. The sprinkles were unnecessary but the chocolate flavor was rich, like a dark chocolate over a lighter milk chocolate. They also offer a ton of flavors including black + white, banana, peanut butter and coffee mocha. This was a little too rich for me but I enjoyed the flavor of it ($4.47). Wow. I think I’m still full from all of that food but reliving it just made me want to eat it all over again.

That was a lot- for those of you skimming for the good stuff, my TL:DR version is this: the BurgerFi original, straight-forward cheeseburger was my favorite but the brisket would have probably been if it wasn’t overwhelmed, the onion rings are a much better choice than the fries & if you leave without a concrete of any kind, you’re doing it wrong but because of how sweet it is, know you’re not eating that all in one sitting. Everything tasted extremely fresh and you can tell that nothing is frozen. I don’t like to say anything is “The best I’ve ever had” but in terms of local burger places, I’d no question put this in my top 3. Next time though, I’m checking out their wine & beer selection!

“To achieve the mood of a warrior is not a simple matter. It is a revolution”

Carlos Castaneda

For the second time, I proved to myself that I am a warrior. (Check out my post about Warrior Dash 2014) As of a few years ago, I caught the running bug and after running a bunch of 5Ks, I was looking to step up my game without exactly doing a 10K (until August last year) and I found Warrior Dash. Warrior Dash is an obstacle 5K, where you’re technically going the distance of a 5K but it’s not anywhere near the WarriorDash2015-25K that you’re used to. As you run, you hit about 10-12 obstacles you must conquer (though you are allowed to walk around if it’s too challenging) before you can cross the finish line and get the free ShockTop beer you’re promised!

This year’s race was at Windham Mountain and it was run really smoothly. Last year, I remember we had to wait in a huge line to register, then a huge line for bag check, then a huge line for beer but at Windham, I don’t think I waited in a line longer than 10 minutes. We grabbed our free t-shirt and red fuzzy viking hat and put them in our bags for bag check. There’s really no need to have a lot with you but be forewarned that you may have to park really far away so there’s hardly a chance that you’ll be able to “Run quick back to your car.”

Something I’ve learned about these mud runs, BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES. Not only Warrior Dash2015-1are you muddy and gross but you’re wet and soggy and it’ll take a lot of beers before that’s ever comfortable. They usually have some place where you can hose yourself down and your clothes. The best thing I did this year was bring an outfit I didn’t care so much about so I didn’t have to carry around a soggy outfit, I just threw it out. Also, unless you pay extra to be a VIP, you’re changing in the port-a-potty so you probably don’t want to change into your Sunday best.

After you’ve cleaned yourself up, grab yourself your free beer, check out the merch, eat a turkey leg, and join the party! If you want to spend a little time at the ShockTop party afterward, sign up for an earlier wave time. I signed up for an earlier wave time if we were running late I could just go in and not have to worry about it anyway. The best part? Like most races, this one benefits St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital which is an amazing organization so before you complain about the price- sign up early, remember you’re helping kids and that this is a blast and totally worth it.

Want to get a taste for some of the obstacles, check out my video. I was so happy to have the opportunity to wear my GoPro on my head for the first time (it’s the little things) so check it out and get a feel for it first-hand. Hope to see you there next year!

“The scale can only tell you what you weigh, not who you are”

Steve Maraboli

I’ve tried out some new fitness technology lately. I’ve tried a few new apps to see how it enhances my fitness journey. Aside from the BeetsBLU Heart Rate Monitor I’ve recently been using, my new favorite thing is my BeetsBLU Smart Scale. BeetsBLUScaleIt doesn’t just tell you your weight but it also connects to your phone via Bluetooth to keep track of your progress. It monitors your weight, fat percentage, body water and muscle mass and saves in on your phone.

It was incredibly easy to use and comes with batteries included so you can get right on it out of the box and start tracking your progress. The scale gives me the information really fast! Quick enough that I could be putting my shirt on for the day, step on the scale and by the time I’m done, I’ve already tracked my stats for the day.

I tried the product out for a little over a week to watch the progress and it’s always matched up to another scale I had in the house in terms of weight but I’ve never been able to track everything else too.

Have more than one person in your house that wants to track their progress? No worries, BeetsBLU has you covered. You can set up different user profiles so each member of your family can track. It also updates your Health App (via iPhone/ Apple Watch) if that’s where you hold most of your health information.

I blurred out my weight information because it's none of your business :)

I blurred out my weight information because it’s none of your business :)

I haven’t figured out yet though if there’s a way to get the scale to update my weight in other health apps (MyFitnessPal, etc).

Best time to weigh yourself according to the scale? In the morning, after “the morning toilet,” no clothes, before your shower and breakfast. If you think you may forget, the app, “SmartScale” reminds you when you turn it on to get the most accurate measurements. I’ve known what my weight was but I was really impressed with all that the scale could tell me and I think it’ll be extremely useful as I begin this new journey toward serious weight loss. You can buy the scale for $74.95 on their website or via Amazon.com. Though the SmartScale is compatible with most phones, just double-check first before you get it and realize it doesn’t work with whatever phone you have.

Though a scale is a great way to keep track of your fitness journey, don’t look to it for your self-worth. The number and graph could go up, could go down but this product is supposed to help, not make you feel worse about yourself. You’re beautiful whatever it says! :)

Note: I was given this product for free to try but aside from free product, have not been compensated for my opinion and what I’ve said here is what I honestly think of the product.

“I wish there was a tree like pizza, I would be there all day”

Anonymous

My name is Jessica and I’m sure I’ve admitted to this before but just to clarify: I love pizza. If there is pizza, I must have some that’s all there is to it. TastyPizzaSo, to no surprise, I tend to eat pizza for dinner a lot. It’s cheap, it’s quick, it’s delicious, and in moderation it’s actually not terrible for you. Recently I went to a pizza place that I honestly had no idea existed, Tasty Pizzeria (7 Old Mariaville Rd, Schenectady). It’s in a great location and next door to an ice cream place. They had a deal going on where you could order an 12 cut pizza for a really great price. It sounded too good to be true, but it’s pizza, it’s gonna be good, right?

We put in our order and found out it was cash only. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why small businesses do it but it’s really annoying. They had an ATM but thanks to my bank, I was charged an extra almost $5 just to get a great deal on some pizza! We ordered, we paid, nothing fancy, just got cheese and they told us it would take about 15 mins. Sure, no problem. They’re making a pizza fresh, can’t hate on that right? Luckily for us, there was an old car show outside, the weather was beautiful so we sat on the bench and waited for what we thought would be 15 mins.

About 45-60 minutes later, our pizza was finally ready. To their credit, they have the ability to order online on their website. Tasty-2We could’ve ordered it and picked it up at a certain time and not had to deal with the wait but I figured it wouldn’t be too busy and one pizza would have been quick. We finally got the pizza (nice and hot) and brought it back to eat at home. The pizza was pretty good. You can tell how good a pizza is based on their dough. Sure, the sauce is important but if you don’t start off with that solid base, the sauce isn’t going to save anything. The dough was great. I usually prefer long triangle pieces but square is what you get when you order a 12 cut. There was a little too much chew in the dough but the crunch, the consistency- all well done. The sauce as well was good. Would I consider this the best pizza I’ve ever eaten? No. Would I wait another 45-60 mins to eat it again? Hell no, they have Mealeo. Overall though, I was not disappointed and I would eat there again but, as I said, I’m ordering to pick up next time!

“The only way to get vegetables at a diner late night is to order the omelette. A feta cheese and broccoli omelette.”

Lisa Loeb

I was so excited to get an offer from City Dining Cards to try out a bunch of cards from the Capital Region deck and talk about the kinds of restaurants they have. The way they work is that you get a deck of Tops-CityDining50 cards and each one represents a different restaurant. If you spend $30, then you get $10 off of your order. Sounds great! Especially because going out to eat to dinner with friends, we can usually spend $30 pretty easily and it narrows down where you’d want to eat in the whole “I don’t care, where do you want to eat” debacle.

My goal was to use every card before they expire December 31st, 2015 but I’m going to be honest with you, that’s nearly impossible. Not only do I not go out to eat that often but when it comes down to it, $10 off of $30 gets expensive if you’re spending it every week. It’s a great idea in theory and as for the cost, all you have to do is use 3 for it to pay for itself but don’t expect to use them all. My favorite part was that these cards were restaurants I know in the area and restaurants I’ve wanted to try. The downside, it seems as if City Dining Cards has transferred its focus to an easier to organize app but after downloading it today, realized it’s not yet available in our area but oddly, on their website don’t still offer the cards as an option. This leads me to believe they’re fading them out in the 2016 edition.

The first restaurant I went to with the cards was Top’s American Bakery and Grill (351 Duanesburg Rd, Schenectady). Tops-1I’d never been to Top’s so I didn’t really know what to expect. The whole feel is very diner-y. I tried to go online to check out their menu ahead of time and it’s a broken link so the whole thing was a huge surprise to me. To start, I ordered brushetta from the appetizer menu. We tried to plan out the price of our meal to be more than $30 which is really difficult in a diner. The brushetta was really good. Everything tasted fresh, the bread wasn’t soggy- it was a great decision. Those Mediterranean flavors were perfect.

For dinner I got a kind of veggie burger that was supposed to come with a salad. The salad on the side of the plate was just kind of thrown together. It was just a huge chunk of lettuce with onions and a tomato thrown on top. Really messy. The burger itself was pretty disappointing too. The patty was really thin, especially compared to the huge roll it was on so I ended up not eating the bread. Taste-wise, it wasn’t terrible and cooked well. I was upset though that no sauce came on the burger and they didn’t tell me ahead of time. A heads up that the burger was plain would’ve been nice because then I could’ve ordered a sauce but it was hard to get a hold of a waitress after our food was delivered.

For a diner, it was okay. The food was solid, the establishment was nice, the building is a lot bigger than expected. I’ve heard that for breakfast their menu is amazing and Tops-2that’s usually when I go to diners anyway so I’ll give them a try in the morning next time and see if anything is different. In regards to the City Dining Card, it was difficult to use. I told my waitress about it when we got there, handed it to her and she didn’t know what to do about it. She called a manager and it seemed as if he didn’t know about it either. It seemed strange to me that no one knew that their restaurant had a coupon out like this and what to do with it. We ended up with a packaged cookie to-go for dessert which I did really enjoy later so though the experience was just okay for the most part, it did end on a delicious, chocolately high note.