Food & Drink Thursday, August 23rd

No cows were killed in the making of this Big Mac

Food & Drink Thursday, August 23rd

No cows were killed in the making of this Big Mac

As the kids say, burgers are lyfe. And despite the fact that reportedly only one in five Millennials have ever eaten a Big Mac, it is a great time to be in the burger business. Why? In part, because those same people shunning Ronald McDonald’s iconic double-decker are picking up something with a little more meat to it, even if – technically – it hasn’t got any meat in it at all.

For the last nine months the chefs at the Firefly in Hereford – certifiably, the city’s coolest pub – have been knocking it out of the park with their meat-less menu. Call it conscious street food, plant-based pub grub, vegan junk food – whatever you like – but their kitchen fires out the kind of tacos, bahn-mi, burgers and sides that are both cruelty-free, and dirty-delicious enough to keep a nasty, lowdown, trailerpark burger slut like the late, great Anthony Bourdain happy.

The key in many cases is the meat and cheese substitutes now being thought up by, presumably, lab-coated vegan food techs in underground bases across the world. And the quality of those substitutes is why the Firefly is able to produce a vegan Big Mac that looks more like Big Macs In The Promo Photos than actual Big Macs do. And that tastes better than even the photo looks.


When the team at the 'Fly had to reverse engineer the world's best known burger (don't @ me Whopper fans, it's not even close) the key was - and will always be - the patty, and the inclusion of kidney beans and gluten flour in their Seitan to get the colour, but more importantly that meaty texture you want when you bite in to a burger. It's why I'll never believe a vegetarian who tells me that that I 'really should try' their Portobello mushroom burger. It's not the shape of the thing that makes it a burger. It's the burger-ness of the burger.

As for how the Firefly got the recipe for Maccie D's famously Top Secret Mac sauce? Thank God for Reddit.

For National Burger Day (today), we caught up with Marcin, who heads up the King St spot, to talk plant-based patties and the emerging adolesence of vegan grilling.

And if you can't head down there tonight, maybe you don't want to miss out on the latest Celebrity big Brother episode - I don't know - you'll be pleased to know the vegan Big Mac is a regular on the Firefly's menu.


- How many months/years/decades are we from plant-based burgers taking over?

It’s already kicking off, vegan cuisine is like a newborn baby and we already see some really tasty stuff coming out, wait until we reach puberty and you won’t get enough of those.


- Any (simple) cooking tips/words of wisdom for people busting out their BBQs this weekend?

Smoke, marinade, time - 3 most important things for great BBQ, even vegans know that.


- What’s the most under-rated ingredient in the burger world?

The gherkin. Oh man, the crunchiness and flavour.


- Money’s no object. What’s the most extravagant, bouji ingredient you’d like to try out in a burger?

Forget about expensive ingredients, you probably have everything you need in your fridge and pantry to make something you will drool on.

- What’s your favourite vegan burger to have in the back of the freezer at home?

Homemade Seitan, it has cool name, you can bang it really effortlessly and experiment with flavours all you like. Google that.

- How close are the latest generation of looks-like-meat, feels-like-meat vegan burgers to being able to fool your average drinker after two pints?

We’re there.

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- What’s the biggest misconception about vegan burgers?

That it’s boring and tasteless, but if you open your mind and try it for what it is - food, you’ll love it.

- How’d the Vegan Big Mac come about?

Big Mac idea was on cards for few months before we actually launched it, we wanted get the patty right and sauce was a big one. Our Seitan patty is made with gluten flour, kidney beans and a mix of spices so it has meatier texture. Sauce we researched fair bit in the Internetz and then it was just experimenting and getting flavours bang on money. It ain’t Maccie D’s, it has real food in it.

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