Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Praise of Sweet Potato Fries

My poor kids are deprived, because the only burger-and-fries fast food joint I willingly set foot in is locally owned and operated Burgerville USA. I remember going to the Burgerville in downtown Beaverton as a special treat when I was a kid, but only when they had their special strawberry shortcake or other seasonal sundaes on sale. (We didn't go out to eat much when I was young.)

Since those days, Burgerville has evolved to be the best place to get a healthy, sustainably grown, fast food burger in Oregon and southwest Washington (39 locations). In 2003, Gourmet magazine named it the best place in the country to get the freshest fast food. Burgerville prides itself on using local, natural ingredients, such as Oregon Country Beef, Diestel Farms turkey, local and seasonal fruits and veggies, and salad with smoked salmon and hazelnuts. It is the largest chain in the U.S. to use 100% wind power; it uses only transfat-free canola oil; and it recycles its oil to turn it into biodiesel. In 2007, the company also began composting its waste, which is expected to result in an 85 percent reduction in waste and $100,000 in savings. I also love the fact that they have fun, useful, and nonjunky toys in their kids' meals--such as seed packets, gardening tools, plates and bowls, or coloring books.

So now you know why I philosophically support Burgerville. From a gastronomic perspective, I have five words for you: turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. The turkey burgers are there year round, but the sweet potato fries are seasonal. There is simply no comparison to the humble russet potato fry.

Tonight Mike had his writers' group, so I hustled the kids off to Burgerville for dinner. Portland is experiencing a "St. Luke's Little Summer" (which according to the Farmer's Almanac is a warm spell that occurs around St. Luke's Day [October 18], but I think of it as a great term for Indian summer...that we picked up from an English friend) we were able to eat dinner outside.

The sweet potato fries have just arrived, and they are magnificent.

For some reason, our children are carnivores even though Mike and I don't eat much red meat. Kieran always orders a cheeseburger with extra pickles, and Chris either has a hamburger or a rispy chicken sandwich. Burgerville also has a free jukebox and balloons for the kids...Nicholas calls them "baboons..."

The kids love Burgerville, too, but C and K are always finagling ways to get to BK or McD's! Poor, deprived children.

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