Monday, 21 March 2016

Burger Week: Sampling the Basics in a North End Kitchen/Oh Jeez...

If you're in Halifax, and have read any signage over the past few days, or picked up a copy of The Coast (however begrudgingly), then there is no way you don't know it's "fuckin' Burger Week, brah"! For those readers who are unfamiliar here's the 411: Burger Week is a 7-day totally "hot ticket" period.  It's during this time when almost every restaurant and their dog try to ham-burgle one another's thunder (and patrons) through varying combinations of extra-special paddies, toppings, condiments, and buns. It's culinary madness. People get mentally bent, using social media as a common place of worship, and some fliffer* down at "B.W. Headquarters" has even gone so far as to bestow upon our city streets some highly flamboyant, customized transport. That's right, you may not have a car, but the last six days, and upcoming onedo. Of course, it is a Mini Cooper, so it's more like having its own customized set of power wheels, but it's "a set of wheels" none the less. *For insight as to what "fliffing" is - see video below.

Surprising to nobody, this is a problem for me. Listen, I love burgers, and I have nothing against "weeks", but I hate when the intangible get cars over people (specifically, people like me). As far as I am concerned, events do not need their own vehicles, but if I am wrong, and they do, then come on. I can think of so many more deserving occasions that have come and gone without their own "tribute joyride". For example, (in particular order):

  1. Me, when I (in my opinion) pulled off cornrows at my rural high school graduation. 
  2. Me, when I convinced Sobey's to reimburse me for a pizza I felt was "sub-par" by reporting that "its inability to rise had ruined my (non-existent) 7-year-old daughter's birthday party, leaving all the (make believe) guests in (equally make-believe) tears". 
  3. Me, when once, at a friend's gathering, I successfully relocated my "number two(s)" from a toilet that refused to flush, to an undisclosed outdoor area in Chester, Nova Scotia completely undetected by other party goerslike the National Trainwreck Treasure that I am. 
  4. And me, when I openly discussed that time (A.K.A. "The Purse Story" for those confidantes who are already familiar), at a friend 's gathering, when I successfully relocated my "number two(s)" from a toilet that refused to flush, to an undisclosed outdoor area in Chester. Nova Scotia and published those details on the internet for everyone to read (see "Number 3"). 
Yes, I have seen the similar recount of poo-toting which also hit the internet today.  May all the women who have taken (fecal) matters into their own hands stand tall and strong together - with light hearts and heavy purses. 

Are you picking up what I am putting down here? I should be driving a fleet of these 
things at the rate my milestones are piling up but hey, their dime, their rules, and let's be honest - that whip is kinda wack anyway. On the plus side, our eateries make up for the annoying parts of Burger Week with the ever elusive, economic unicorn: "reasonable pricing" (usually around 6$). A-ha, so this explains why the meaty contenders are only here for a limited time! God forbid we Haligonians be privy to really sick and affordable burgers the other 358 days of the year, because that would be absurd, right? "No one can be expected to keep up that sort of wizardry, at least not year round!" (someone has obviously and unfortunately decreed...)

Relax, Yo

"Do I look fat in this body?" #BurgerWeekProse
I know what you're thinking, "Give Burger Week a break, you stupid bitch!"*, and you're right. There is definitely more to this festive time than grinding the public's gears with its fleeting nature, adding to the antagonizing hashtag population, and that "dude" in the funky squirrel suit. I'm talking of course about raising money for Feed Nova Scotia. That is awesome, and a sentiment to which I do declare "Holla! Holla! Holla!" (which is Real Housewife of New York City speak for "Gettit Girrrl"). But guys. Guys.  "Do-goodery" does not "a great comedy make", so while I wholeheartedly applaud turning community-wide interest into bank for those in need, this isn't really the place to delve into those particulars. No, this is more of a place to dwell on less-important/unimportant observations; like how on earth I could interpret Burger Week as some sort of a personal slight, or how through a series of rash decisions in the kitchen I ended up "making it my own". So please, forgive me for putting a pin in the goodwill, but I'm just the Regular Food Critic, not The Regular Philanthropist.

*Sidenote: I've decided to take the term "you stupid bitch" back from the douchebags, and now Graham and I put it at the end of every sentence, almost like a term of endearment i.e. "Graham, can you ask for no whip cream on my Café Mocha, you stupid bitch?" or "Jill, the roads are really bad so be careful, you stupid bitch." It's a good thing, trust me.

Graham's Truth About Burger Week

Back to the subject at hand. The other night Graham went behind my back and had one of these Burger Week burgers. I am not saying it was part of a malicious agenda or anything, but wasn't it? Or rather, couldn't it have been? From what I understand, he and his buddy Matt McNair snuck off to Relish to scarf down a couple of real doozies, otherwise known as (see video):

Wow. Stop yelling, amirite? Now, I don't know who has and has not seen The Jinx, but let me tell you, looking into those black, beady, and I'm guessing astigmatism-ized eyes of Robert Durst whilst being interviewed by Andrew Jarecki has nothing on the cold and heartless stare of a man who has recently enjoyed a burger and fry combo without you. And did anyone else feel the scathing casualness in his tone? He's a little too laissez-faire, like he's got something to hide, which could only be the fact that he was really glad he stepped outside of the home for dinner. Ouch.

I could feel his allegiance to myself and my cooking weakening, and became overwhelmed by that "Not on my watch!" sensation I often get when my back's up. It was obvious this Relish person establishment had tickled my man's taste buds, given his figurative crank a helluva turn, and god knows what else. I had to wonder, what did Relish have that I didn't have? I mean, I pretend to be a foodie, I am fake-interested in quality meal options, could it be that I was underestimating the pull and power of Burger Week? Was this one of those situations where the phrase "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" actually applied? Growing tired of asking questions nobody cared about, I concluded it was. I had no choice but to spring into action, (food)-fighting back against public enemy number one, otherwise known as my boyfriend's wandering palate. And since I literally have the attention-span of a 32-year-old woman with a terribly short attention span, I knew I had to come up with my own creation fast - before I came up with nothing at all and just decided to watch some more episodes of Buffy.

Making My Burger Week Contribution with Whatever the Opposite of "Imagination" Is...

I don't know if you've picked up on this from reading any past reviews of mine or Graham's cooking or not, but we don't really have like, a lot of "ingredients" per se. There is some food in the house, but food and ingredients are two different things. Food is like: I have an orange, I have rye bread, and I have flaked coconut - I have food. But when I have ingredients I have like: noodles, butter and that dusty parmesan that comes in the shaker - I have the ingredients - for one of my favorite meals, which I call "Noodles, Butter, and Parmesan". And speaking of parmesan, I heard through the Google grapevine that the powdery-est versions we keep as kitchens staples are more wood pulp than cheese. Isn't that nuts/the best? Those crafty Krafty kids, they really got us didn't they? As "Mark" from the makers of "Jeff" wold say: (see video)
Buns? More Like Zzzzzzz....

Anyway, anyway, my point is that we aren't operating with fully stocked cupboards or fridge over here, so thank god for my innate inventiveness. If you ask me, in order to make something remarkable, or at least to create a buzz, you need to pinpoint where everyone has laid down their comfort zones and face-plant outside of all of them. Case in point: traditional loafy, puffy, boring buns. Snoooooze-fest. George Costanza once said that toilet paper is the one thing that had never changed in his lifetime, and probably would never change afterward.  He was only sort-of right (which means completely wrong) but you know, I see what he was getting at. I think the same could be said for hamburger buns.  Why haven't we pushed for further development? And for god sakes, don't say using a leaf of lettuce is a viable substitution. It doesn't count. On the other hand, something that does qualify is one of my old favorites - Premium Plus Crackers (Salted Top Edition).

Crackers are good for holding in your hands and making low-budget sliders, as will be demonstrated in a few moments. They also make great buns because they are the same color as buns, and they are almost the same shape, in that they are a shape - so close enough. They are hard but not too hard, and they are crumbly but not too - well actually yeah, they are too damn crumbly, but you have to pick your battles carefully. That's why. when I noticed the 50 sleeves of saltines we had tossed into the back of our kitchen cabinet, and nothing really surrounding them in terms of "other options", I knew they would (have to) be the perfect foundation for my Burger Week burger. Fingers crossed...

Paddies? Might as Well Be Frosted Tips!

In terms of the literal "meat" of the thing, I wanted to keep it flimsy and gross. Luckily, I was in possession of some 50% off, "teetering on the edge of expiration" deli meats, which were no doubt meant to be my burger substitutions.  And to elevate the gourmet-ness of it all, rather than offer only one type of animal source, I was able to offer up two: turkey and roast beef. They both have that characteristic slime shine, and they are wet, so you know they're ... wet.  As you see in the photo, my signature color scheme and style came through fairly effortlessly; muted fleshy/beige-y/bready shades on a yard-sale worthy place setting, and as I could smell, something in that mix really belonged in the garbage. Apart from that, the visual is spot on and after mulling over the idea of adding anything else to, you know, bring some (or any) flavor to the dish, I decide toppings and sauces are very "been there, done that" as far as Burger Week burgers go and call "cut".

Eat. Gross. Yikes. (See Video)

It's a minimalistic masterpiece, and a triumph in terms of prep time, which has got to be under 1 minute. Reflecting on the many victories occurring across this meal's journey to fruition, I realize I have probably broken records along the way for something and/or anything and am therefore in the running for some non-descript award The Coast will likely be taking votes for later this year. Because how can you not love this burger? With no ingredients set in stone, it's essentially the sandwich equivalent of a "choose your own adventure" (Do I got with the pink or the brown meat? Two crackers or open-faced?), and I don't know about you, but that sounds rad.

"Kudos Elaine, on a job.... done." - J.Peterman

In terms of taste, the beef version was okay. The turkey however was, well, the turkey was what should have been thrown away in the first place. I had one bite and was like "Oh my god...where's the dog?" (just kidding our dog only eats whole food now... and tampons.) I give this meal a 2/Harvey's for having two chances to taste good and not really getting any of them right. That being said, would I make them again during a non-"Burger Week" week? Sure. Do I think I could get other people on board? Never, but that's someone's loss (I will let you decide whose exactly). Please check back to The Regular Food Critic as Gingergrass and Wild Leek reviews are being picked away at, so. freaking. slowly. Someday. Someday they'll be done. 

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