There it is. The All American Classic that inspired another: Jimmy Buffet's Cheeseburger in Paradise.
The story goes that after savoring one of these tasty sandwiches at the Cabbage Key Inn, on a small island off the west coast of Florida, Jimmy was inspired to sing about it. At the Inn the only hint that something inspirational happened here is the signature song blaring from the sound system of a departing tour boat. Otherwise, there is no mention of Jimmy -- on the menu, on the souvenir t-shirts, or on the dollar bill papered walls of the restaurant and bar. But, burger lovers on boats of all shapes and sizes slip into the dock and walk up the hill for a chance to sample that American creation on which they feed.
Let me tell you they will not be disappointed: The Cabbage Key Cheeseburger is a hand formed pattie of high quality beef served with perfect burger to bun ration. I told the Cap'n and our friends Andy and Christine that I was going to place my order just like Jimmy sings it in concert: Hands raised above his head, clapping along in time to:
I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well good god almighty which way do I steer
But then we found out that fries are not served ( no fire department on the island, so no deep fryer), the beer was only served in cans and bottles, and I saw nary a bottle of Heinz 57. So I opted for a more subdued "Medium with potato salad, please". Heaven on Earth with an Onion Slice.
Sadly, we can't spend every day eating burgers in Paradise. There are healthier options for those days you just want a burger but need something a bit lighter. Here is one of my favorites, inspired by the flavors of another paradise:
Grilled Mediterranean Turkey Burger
1 lb ground turkey (mixture of light and dark meat)
1 C feta cheese, crumbled*
1/2 C chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 T chopped fresh oregano, or 1 t dried
1 t chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 t dried
salt and pepper to taste
* sometimes you can find crumbled feta with seasonings. If so, you do not need to add the oregano and rosemary.
Rolls or Pita, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onion
Combine turkey, feta, olives, garlic, herbs & seasonings. Shape into four patties. Let rest for a least 10 minutes.
Grill over a medium flame for about 5 minutes per side.
Serve on warmed rolls, or Pita, with sliced tomatoes and red onion. A leafy green salad is nice on the side.