Beast Burger

I read an article about the Beast Burger a few months ago. This is a vegetarian hamburger made by California based company Beyond Meat.

More protein than beef. More omegas than salmon. Tons of calcium, antioxidants, and vitamin B.

Most importantly, it’s supposed to look, taste – and the hard one – have the texture of a real hamburger.  So is it true? The MKX® set out to find out.

Unsurprisingly, Whole Foods was the only place where I found it. It comes in a box in the frozen section. Two patties for $6, which seems pretty expensive to me, but what do I know.

While there, I also bought the only  hamburger buns they had. They were whole wheat, organic, small, dry, overpriced, and nasty. This means that the Beast Burger would be at a disadvantage in the taste tests. I wasn’t about to go to HEB for normal hamburger buns though. To round it up, I got overpriced organic tomatoes and lettuce, both looked great.

Beast Burger packaging. That photo looks amazing, doesn’t it?

So for the taste tests I invited three participants.

  1. Eli: Lifelong vegetarians, hasn’t eaten a hamburger ever.
  2. Nira: vegetarian since 2000, hasn’t had a hamburger in five years.
  3. Shlomit: vegetarian since that morning, hadn’t had a hamburger in five days.

While the instructions on the box say you can do this on a pan, I had to do it right and fired off the grill for the first time since last year.

This is what it looked like:

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Beast Burger on the grill

 

The weird looking things in the back are portobello mushrooms, in case the experiment is a failure. I was not brave enough to face hungry blood-lusting vegetarians.

You can see the four patties. The one on the left still has ice on it – you are supposed to put them on the grill still frozen. They do look like convincing hamburgers and for this they get a point. Notice those beautiful grill lines on them. I take no credit for them: that’s how it came out of the box. To me that’s cheating and for all I know they use dye to paint them.

After a fire minutes on the grill I served the hamburgers. Here’s Eli and Shlomit enjoying them:

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The best hamburger Eli has never had.

 

This is what they had to say:

  1. Eli: I have no idea if this is what a hamburger should taste like, but it’s good.
  2. Nira: It’s good.
  3. Shlomit: I want a real hamburger.

It was so good that I still have four frozen patties in my freezer and no plans on eating them soon.

But really:

  • The texture was pretty convincing.
  • The taste was a little bit bland, needed more spices and maybe salt.
  • It was a pretty small burger.
  • Better buns would have helped.

I think that if you aren’t vegetarian, you shouldn’t approach this as “will taste like a hamburger” or you will be disappointed. You should think of it it the way I think about Tex-Mex (don’t expect Mexican), or soy milk (don’t expect milk), or transvestites (no further comment). If you do this, I think the Beast Burger is a pretty decent non-meat meal and my cholesterol thanks me for it.

That said, any man with instinct for self-preservation knows that when hungry nursing woman says “I want a real hamburger”, you must deliver.

So here’s the real beast of a burger: Roaring Fork’s famous and also overpriced $14 1 pound of real cow “Big Ass Burger”:

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Mine is the “Big Ass”, Shlomit’s is a “Half Ass”. After my morning training for the Cap 10K I had the hunger of a beast. It’s been 23 hours, I’ve been to the potty three times, and I’m still full.

 

The best Tequila

I saved the bottle for over five years waiting for a special occasion. Forgot to drink it at my wedding. Forgot to take it out at my son‘s bris.

No way I’m going wait for his Bar-Mitzvah. So we used the excuse of Meir visiting and popped it open last night.

Yes, it is indeed the best Tequila I’ve ever had.

SXSW Interactive 2015

This year my SXSW experience was different than previous years – other than for the fact that I also wasn’t able to get Jimmy Kimmel tickets.

This was due to two reasons:

1. Amit from Israeli startup MobileODT came to represent the company in the 2015 SXSW Accelerator. So I went in to provide moral support and video recording during the pitch. They were great. It was also cool to see the other startups: some with very creative ideas, some with extraordinarily shallow and pedestrian ones (these make money), and some that were science fiction and likely lies.

2. Eli the shark came to check out the festival in general. He’s been threatening to come for years and finally made good on it. We got to check out a bunch of sessions.

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Eli, Marcos, Amit, Shlomit, Josh at ROI party.
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Behind the scenes at SXSW: Jonah and Amit getting ready for their presentation.
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Artists illustrated presentations in real time, which were later displayed at the Austin Convention Center.
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Israel Innovation Showcase + Israel Startup Nation Networking Event. Free Hummus + 1 drink ticket per person.
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Albert was in charge of SXSW this year.
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Prerequisite event ultra corporate busy background photo.
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A very short astronaut holding Eli’s hand at the SXSW Interactive Expo.

 

More importantly, I met the team behind SmartyPans in person. They’re nice.

Purim 2015

With the 10th Annual Kosher Chili Cookoff and the Purim Carnival both happening on the same day at the JCAA, we knew we had to come up with a special costume.

So after lots and lots of deliberation, Ilán and I settled on the classic crowd pleaser: The Ugly Nun and The Ugly Nun mini. Turns out Ilán has managed to put on a lot of weight since he was a week old without really growing much hair. This forced us to create a brand new The Ugly Nun costume. Fortunately, mine still fits.

Unlike every other day of his short life, Ilán decided to actually sleep in that day. That means we missed the costume contest (we were a shoe in for first prize, I mean, look at me) and missed eating chili too! (whatever, it’s kosher chili, can’t be that great).

Too bad, we’ll need to dress up the same next year. And since this blog is like Playboy and people come for the photos and not the articles, here you go:

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Left: The Ugly Nun. Right: The Ugly Nun mini

 

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Blinking contest. He won.
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Believe it or not, women find The Ugly Nun irresistible. Here’s proof.

 

B’nai Abraham Synagogue

I find it kind of cool and terribly impressive that full buildings can be moved from one place to another.

This happened last Friday here in Austin, as the B’nai Abraham Synagogue was moved from Brenham to Austin. This is the oldest synagogue in the state, or at least the oldest in continuous use, if you believe Wikipedia. It was built in 1893. It will now be the only orthodox synagogue in Austin.

I stopped by looking to take my mom to eat Kosher BBQ (they were sold out so the review will have to wait).

Here’s some additional reading in The New York Times and Austin Monthly.

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The guy at the back of the line was the most disappointed of all.

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Mexico City trip report

I flew to Mexico City last weekend. Here are some highlights:

Galia

The main reason of my lightning trip to Mexico City was to meet my new niece Galia, who also happens to be Ilan’s baby cousin. Lots of hair an big blue eyes as you can see in the picture. On the baby as well! She’s a cutie.

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Galia and favorite uncle.

 

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Galia and favorite uncle playing the stare game. She blinked first, I’m still the champion.

Xochimilco

Jacobo and family, my mom, and I went to Xochimilco. People complain it’s dirty and not worth it. They are wrong, it’s great. We got there “early” (Mexico City standards) at around 10 AM and were the only people there. We made the strategic mistake of eating breakfast at the hotel which sucked because the food looked amazing there. On the other hand, the food was amazing at the hotel.

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With the little gringos.

 

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Mexican hotel breakfast is the best.

 

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It used to be that after a shot of tequila, you’d shake your head. Nowadays you spin upside down from a pole hanging from your feet. The after-effect is magnified.

 

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Left: My brother Jacobo Right: A guy in a sweater photo bombing us.

Estadio Azteca

On our way back from Xochimilco we passed the legendary Estadio Azteca, where Pelé (1970) and Maradona (1986) both raised the FIFA Cup. We decided to stop and check if they have tours. It happens that they do.

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In the tunnel where the players head out to the pitch. On the left, signs for every team to ever visit the stadium – except, they explained – Pumas and Guadalajara. On the right, photos of memorable moments. In the middle, a couple of tourists who aren’t very good at playing soccer.

 

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On this field Mexican players won the U17 World Cup in 2011. The players were less than half my current age. Damn!

 

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At the press briefing room. Yes, the trophy is fake. And nobody from the press showed up.

Pujol

My brother was in a foodie mood for his birthday. We went to a fancy schmancy restaurant in Polanco called Pujol “ranked 17th best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine in 2013″ according to Wikipedia. And Wikipedia never lies, right?

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A plate of mole, and nothing else, at Pujol.

We had a seven-course dinner that involved everything from mezcal to ants, all in tiny portions. The highlight of the night, in my opinion was the “Mole madre, mole nuevo” which is a little scoop of mole that has been cooking for (I shit you not) 562 days with an even smaller scoop of mole of a more recent vintage. You get a few handmade tortillas to scoop it up and that’s it. It was as good as you’d expect from something that had taken 562 days to prepare. I told the waiter that it was good and he can now bring me the full portion. He didn’t get the joke.

Real men have elaborate websites.