"Hey, did you know that you can order a goat burger at the Saxapahaw General Store? It's so good!"
I looked at him askance, my expression meant to convey the fact that I was struggling with the idea that a goat burger could be good. I can probably count on both hands the times I've eaten goat, and most of those times, I found it unappealing.
Goat is a difficult meat to prepare well. At least, it seems that way. Looking back on my experiences, either the meat was tough, dry or poorly seasoned. And let's not even begin to review the one time I tried to prepare it at home - a dismal failure! I don't have many failures in the kitchen, and I certainly don't often wave the white flag after only one try; but I can respect when an ingredient is beyond my skill.
All of that being said, I also know that goat can be amazing. I had it once in a meal served under a Bedouin tent. Chunks of the meat were served with spiced rice...or was it couscous? Whatever. What matters is that I remember the meat! It was tasty and tender and...well, nothing short of amazing. I assume that's because a master chef was at work with a meat he knew like the back of his hand. When you know an ingredient well, you know how to manipulate it in order to bring out its best qualities.
And that's what I think gives the Sax Gen Store an upper hand in their seasonal offering of the goat burger. As locavores, they strive to support the local food economy by focusing on the edible goods that are grown and raised nearby. The goats used for the goat burger are raised on a farm that's not too far from where the shop is located. Talk about an amazing opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with your ingredient! The people at the Sax Gen Store know the farmers, know the goats and know the land. It's exactly this kind of knowing that offers a spice to local food that helps to make it so darn irresistible. Add to that the fact that the Sax Gen Store understands how to prep this meat successfully within its business model (think burger with toppings vs. roasted meat with sides) and how to creatively mix flavors.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. This guy who told me it was oh-so-good and that I most-certainly-must try it, is not just my friend, he is also a colleague. We meetup periodically to talk business and build strategy for ongoing professional networking. It was in the scheduling of such a meeting that he called dibs on our lunch spot: "Let's head to Saxapahaw and we'll get goat burgers. My treat."
Well, I've never been the kind of girl to turn down the offer of a paid meal, so I marked the day with the mental note to prepare my taste buds for something unforgettable (which offers room on both sides of the coin; I braced myself knowing that it could be unforgettably terrible or awesome).
Side note: Did you know that goat meat is generally leaner that the main competition (beef, pork...even chicken)? It's a great source of iron and potassium.
I like to adventure - and there's nothing like a good adventure when it comes to food: new ingredients, new flavors, a new twist on an old favorite. One of my old-favorites would definitely be a cheeseburger. I mean, have you seen the yummy-goodness logo?! And so, even knowing that it could be terrible instead of awesome, I looked forward to challenging my perspective, of turning an old-favorite on its head with this experience - of having an adventure at the general store within my local community!
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this meal. You'll notice that the burger isn't paired with a side. I promise you, it doesn't need one. This is one of those sandwiches that was made to stick to your insides. It is full, round and plump and makes you feel that way from the inside after you've eaten it. I am not taking about Thanksgiving-dinner-about-to-burst full; just that perfect, I-ate-like-royalty-and-am-content.
The toppings pair with the goat meat meaning to offer a deeper complexity in the richness of flavor (the Manchego, the aioli) and lighter, tarter notes of brightness (the olive salad, the tomatoes). And thank goodness for the English muffin! That can definitely throw you off: "I'm eating a burger on an English muffin?! What?!" But the meat was so juicy that a normal bready-bun would have no chance of survival; as it tried to soak up the juicy-deliciousness, it would have fallen prey to the sog-monster and lost all constitution and ability to offer an anchor to the eating process.
If you are anywhere near the Saxapahaw, NC area, go now and order one. In fact, take all your friends too! They will honor you with the Foodie Crown after having the opportunity to eat such yummy-goodness. You can even throw in the health facts as a hook!
When yummy-goodness comes at you armed with lower-in-fat-and-high-in-protein type of stats, why fight? Just admit you're toast!