Farm Burger

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Christina of East Bay Dish invited me out on this media lunch to try Farm Burger in Berkeley. Obligatory disclaimer: Our meal was comped. Non-obligatory disclaimer: Our eyes may have been bigger than our stomachs as we pretty much tried two or more items from every section of their menu.

Farm Burger is a small hamburger chain, and the Berkeley store is their first on the West Coast. They are committed to using grass-fed beef, sourcing it from BN Ranch and Stemple Creek Ranch for this location. They also grind their patty meat in-house daily. Local farms provide their veggies.

The rest of Farm Burger’s stores are in the South, and those Southern roots are just as present on their Berkeley menu, with side offerings like collard greens and boiled peanuts. I don’t think this joint is going to have any problem keeping busy—it was swamped midday on a Saturday, and it’s been open since November in West Berkeley’s Gilman District development, which looked to be quite popular! The crowd only started to thin around 3 pm.

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In addition to sides and burgers, there are salads, several varieties of fries, shakes, and boozy and standard floats.

The Young's Chocolate Stout float

The Young’s Chocolate Stout float

I could taste the quality of their ingredients, always a plus, but a few dishes rested too firmly on those all-natural laurels—in other words, they were bland. The fried chicken livers, in particular, are a dish I would not order again.

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I’m not a fan of liver in general, but the usual reasons why were not on display here: the taste of iron and the silky texture of pâtés. These livers were dry, which is better than silky for me but not by much. The breading was rubbery and barely salted, if at all. That salt must have abandoned ship for the cheesy grits.

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Those weren’t up to snuff for me, either, but maybe I’m spoiled from all those fluffy, stone-ground grits served up by the chefs of North Carolina’s Research Triangle. These were more, well, gritty. Did I mention the salt? Waaay too much of that for me. But the cheese flavor was robust, and when I bit into a warm, gushy tomato at the same time as the grits, it was more appealing overall.

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Food Should Taste Good’s Brown Rice Crackers

You read all about the Cavalier brunch I attended in March, hosted by Food Should Taste Good (FSTG) and Tablehopper Marcia Gagliardi, in my last post. Now, I’m sharpening my focus and delving into the world of FSTG’s cracker products. Obligatory disclaimer! They were provided for free as samples from FSTG. Swag bags from the brunch had also included a couple bags of FSTG’s tortilla chips and the not-yet-released Real Good Bars.

Real Good Bar Sneak Peak!

Real Good Bar Sneak Peak!

Both product lines impressed me, though the macadamia chai bar and the sweet potato tortilla chips stood out from the crowd. I’m also dying to try the kimchi tortilla chips once I come across them. This brand has been going strong since 2006, but those items and the brunch dishes were my first exposure to it. And as their name makes plain, FSTG is obviously a believer in simple-is-best healthy eating.

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If the ingredient list is long, it’s because of all the whole grains used in their recipes, often amaranth, brown rice, flax, and quinoa. Other common items in the cracker recipes included rosemary extract, potato starch, high oleic canola oil, and brown sugar as a sweetener.

The Tomato and Basil

The Tomato and Basil

FSTG believes in avoiding the mess of lab-created chemical flavorings, opting to bake real vegetables, herbs, and extracts straight into the crackers rather than slathering them with messy powders. That often results in gluten-free and vegan offerings by happy happenstance. I’m neither gluten-free or vegan, but I know that eating more foods that qualify as either for snack food is a healthy game plan.

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Food Should Taste Good Brunch with Tablehopper!

It’s been three weeks since I was invited to brunch at the Cavalier in downtown San Francisco, hosted by Tablehopper Marcia Gagliardi and the Food Should Taste Good (FSTG) snack food brand. It’s never too late to write about great food, right?

The brunch was part of FSTG’s national promotional tour that’s been challenging star chefs, like the Cavalier’s Jennifer Puccio, to make inventive dishes featuring FSTG’s products. Obligatory disclaimer! The brunch was entirely free. The invitees were a fun mix of new media types in a variety of industries, and we were thrilled to be ushered into a reception in Marianne’s Room, a speakeasy-style nook concealed from the restaurant proper and full of lush red furniture and saturation-drenched artwork.

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As we mingled, Bloody Marys and Pimm’s Cups flowed.

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Our expectations rose with our hunger; the Cavalier was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Best New Restaurant award last year, after all. Light appetizers included FSTG peppercorn crackers topped with deviled egg salad, provolone, and pickled jalapeno and FSTG’s “the works” chips with smoked salmon, avocado, spices, and sprouts.

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Both provided an appeasing nibble before the much heavier—and mouth-watering-delicious—roasted garlic and cheddar fondue appeared.

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The fondue was served with FSTG sweet potato kettle chips. While great on their own, the chips weren’t really large enough to hold up to fondue dipping. But that didn’t stop us from making messy attempts to scoop it all out anyhow. Hot cheese! Must eat hot cheese!

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