all photos: Jeff Martin
It took Mathew Ramsey three turns living in DC to land on a project that he was really (truly) born to do. First he worked as a videographer for National Geographic, then left to go to culinary school, then he was back and part of the team behind Social Studies (remember “Shit People in DC Say?”), and then… FINALLY… he started Pornburger, a little burger blog that not only could but DID explode (partially thanks to Buzzfeed but more because it was genius) and is now its own cottage industry: there is a cookbook coming out, a supper club, a number of collaborations and more is inevitable to come.
And all of it happens out of Ramsey’s English Basement Apartment in Bloomingdale. ALL OF IT. So, we figured, this was as good (if not better) of a fridge as any to come poking around. Ramsey is in the final stretches of finishing the Pornburger book (due out next year, and waiting is not going to be fun, trust us) and the apartment is his official burger fantasy playground, AND an ode to his Texas upbringing, all rolled into one.
Original ideas are first put into the notebook, and then if deemed worthy (Ramsey explains the origins of Pornburger as a “creative challenge for myself … to build a completely different burger every week, shoot it and share it”) the assembly begins.
The kitchen island is filled with, what he calls, “midnight Amazon purchases” which can be used to blend, chop, fluff and create the desired textures, both for the burger recipes and for Bar R, his side live dining experience project.
Bar R, named after Ramsey’s parents ranch in Texas (he’s been quoted calling it “a little rowdy, a little country, and goes well with whiskey.”) is a dinner party masking as a secret supper club. Dinner is $300 per table, no matter how many friends you squeeze in, and includes 5 courses plus treats. The meal is served in collaboration with Kate Nerenberg, a former Washingtonian food writer, and under a tent created by Morgan H. West of Panda Head/A Creative DC, with surprise appearances by other friends.
Because, you see, Mathew Ramsey is a guy with a burger blog and a dinner party club, but all of it works because he is also a guy people love to hang out with. And a peek inside his fridge explains why.
The freezer door is lined with frosted beer mugs, always a sign of a good host.
In the freezer itself, a perfect mix of the high and the low Ramsey’s culinary style is known for. A prosciutto and melon sorbet (homemade, and pretty damn perfect) sits next to a box of White Castle burgers (“Something I ALWAYS have. They are supposed to be steamed, so they’re great for the microwave”), frozen cliff bars (cool mint flavor, another snack favorite) and all manner of meats.
The fridge itself is a podge of food experiments (Ramsey was in the middle of making pork tongue bacon the week we stopped by), homemade sauces (he makes them all himself, even the his own version of DC’s mysteriously legendary mumbo sauce) to a plethora of condiments and pickles (Ramsey loves a good pickle and has collaborated with another one of our fridge alums Gordy’s Pickles a fair amount).
One thing that is NOT there: plain, ole water. Ramsey drinks Le Croix (the coconut flavored one was on offer when we stopped by) and mineral/seltzer water but has little interest in the regular kind.
Next to the fridge is the latest addition to Ramsey’s kitchen, which may or may not be responsible for some of those late night purchases:
At the bar: always whisky and simple bitters and another one of Ramsey’s little passion projects: a can full of Underberg digestif bottle caps. “They have maybe the worst loyalty program of all time. I think you have to collect 150 of the caps to get a bottle free or something. But I’m getting there”-he laughs. As a way of achieving this goal, all Bar R suppers now end with an Underberg.
Because, where there is a will, there is a way.