Wednesday, November 23, 2016

True Innovation vs. Gimmick Hamburgers

Those of you who watch food or travel channels may have come across this show, or other shows like it, but recently I caught an airing of The Travel Channel's "Greatest Hamburgers of America."

I find these shows intriguing, entertaining, but mostly irrelevant. And they always leave me wondering who came up with the list, what their biases were, and how much research they actually did.

As I watched this particular Travel Channel show, though, I noticed something about many of these hamburger joints. Many of them weren't making "great" hamburgers, they were making ridiculous ones. Let's be honest, slapping an incredible amount of toppings on a patty of hamburger doesn't make it a great hamburger, it only makes it a pile of food with a piece of bun on top and bottom. Throw on the spaghetti noodles, popcorn shrimp, pulled pork, vienna sausages, etc. etc., doesn't matter, I'm not impressed. And if it's impossible to pick up or to take a bite of, then it's even less a hamburger, i.e., it's a marketing gimmick and nothing else. No culinary genius involved.

But if it's a hamburger you can pick up, take a bite of, and enjoy a unique combination of flavors that work in conjunction together, then that is true innovation, and should be lauded. 

I've listed below the fifteen restaurants The Travel Channel show featured. Each one has it's own website if you'd like to check them out, and I've made a few notes along some of them that illustrates the point I made above - there is a difference between Innovative and Gimmicky

Greatest Hamburgers in America
15. The Brindle Room - New York, NY
14. The Cowfish - four locations along the Southern East Coast - serves Burguish, a combination of sushi and hamburger, the signature entree of the Cowfish
13. Casper-Runyon's Nook - St. Paul, MN
12. Rockit Burger - Chicago, IL
11. Butcher and The Burger - Chicago, IL - regionally famous for their bison burgers. I've had bison burgers before, so I'd be curious to try one of theirs to see what distinguishes it from bison burgers available in many other restaurants.
10. Shooting Star Saloon - Huntsville, UT - Utah's oldest operating saloon and grill, famous for it's  knockworst burger
9. The Oaks Gourmet - Los Angeles, CA
8. Old Homestead Steakhouse - New York, NY
7. Lindy's on 4th -  Tucson, AZ - 10-inch tall burger; one of those I mentioned above, just a pile of ingredients thrown on a hamburger patty with some bread buried in there somewhere.
6. Grease Burger Bar - West Palm Beach, FL
5. Mission Bowling Club - San Francisco, CA
4. Louis Lunch  - New Haven, CT - claims to have invented the hamburger sandwich. I have no reason to dispute their claims, but the first time I heard the story, it reminded me of the story of how Chop Suey was invented - stranger(s) walk in, ask for something the restaurant doesn't serve, but the owner aims to please and invents a new food. This place also prides itself on no ketchup and all burgers are served on bread, not buns.
3. Dyer's - Memphis, TN --- this place also finished #3 on Playboy's A-List of America's Top Ten Burger joints. Attributes its delicious burgers to the agelessness of its grease, which is strained and reused daily since 1912.
2. Outlaws Cafe - Van Nuys, CA - this place also prides itself on no ketchup. They also don't allow knives to be used to cut the burger. Their specialty burger involves blue cheese and bacon
1. Lunchbox Laboratory - Seattle, WA - this place is famous not only for their tasty burgers, but for their mind-blowing shakes as well.

Locally, I've not nearly come close to hitting all the hamburgers joints in the St. Louis metro area, so my current choice of best hamburger in the region may one day be revised, but after nearly twenty years here, the best hamburger in the area actually comes from a roadside pub called The Defiance Roadhouse located in Defiance, Missouri, along Hwy 94. They keep it basic, without the need to gimmick the meal up with crazy names or impractical ingredients. If you ever find yourself in Eastern Missouri wine country and are craving a hamburger, the Roadhouse is the place to stop.

Until Next Time...
Here's a short video where the current ownership of Louis Lunch tells their story of the invention of the hamburger. I've also include a Man v Food video where Adam Richman visits Louis Lunch to taste it for himself.
No-Gimmickly Yours,

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Money Grabbing lawyer sues Popeyes

You may have read my blog last week about the little old woman suing Kentucky Fried Chicken. If so, you'll be happy to know that the craziness is contagious.

A professional lawyer is now suing Popeyes because he choked on a piece of chicken.

Seriously, you just can't make up this stuff.

His stupid claim is that since Popeyes didn't supply him with a plastic knife in his take-out order, he was forced to eat his beans and rice with a spork and his chicken with his hands!! (insert gasp here)
This about as valid as the woman suing Jimmy Johns because they put mustard on her sandwich. (gasp again).

I'm guessing this lawyer isn't doing so well in his law business so he's seeking out an alternate form of income. Or else he was so embarassed over nearly choking himself to death, he decided to take his anger out on someone. 
The only other thing that I can think of is that the people I've mentioned have made a habit/trade/practice of suing anyone and everyone. Serial suing is something that enough people have done that it's become recognized as a condition. They've sued their friend, neighbors, employers, and complete strangers over the slightest of grievances and will continue to do so.

The comment by a former Popeyes employee best sums up my thoughts about the lawsuit. It's a little piece of advice that our mothers gave us growing up:
“If you choke on your chicken and you have to get the chicken removed from your throat, it’s not because Popeyes didn’t supply a knife in the box. Maybe you should slow down eating.

I can only hope that some sane judge will throw this case out before Popeyes throws up its hands and writes this guy a check just to get him to go away and find his next victim.

If you get food poisoning, or fall and break an arm or leg, that's one thing, file a suit. But if you're not properly chewing your food and choke - it's your own damn fault.

Until Next Time..
Here's a short video about a couple's first trip to Popeyes --- SPOILER ALERT: They eat with their hands and don't choke due to the lack of a plastic knife.
Disgustingly Yours,

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Watch Out For Those Specials

I wanted to do some pizza flavor experimentation the other day and needed to buy Canadian bacon from my local chain grocer. I found only one brand of Canadian bacon available and every package had a $1 "manager's special" coupon redeemable at the check-out. While I was disappointed that I only had one brand to choose from, I was happy that there was a coupon attached.

But I knew there was a catch, and I knew from past experience, this grocer (as all the others) only puts that coupon on products about to expire. Figuring I had only a day or two to use the Canadian bacon, I searched for the expiration date.

I couldn't find it.

And I immediately knew what they had done.

I peeled back the coupon and found the date underneath. This particular package of Canadian bacon had a "Sell By Date" of three days before. So I checked the next package behind it, same thing, and then the next one, same thing.

At this point I decided to call this to the attention of the meat department. I walked up to the counter and was greeted quite warmly. I said, "Do you have any Canadian bacon -- "

"Sure over here," he interrupted as he rounded the counter.

" -- that hasn't expired."

"What?" He turned and looked at me like he had never heard anything so crazy in his entire life. "That can't be right."

I explained to him what I'd done. He then looked through what I showed him and confirmed. Profuse apologies followed and he ran off to the back room to find some that weren't. After only a few moments he came back out with a different brand that didn't expire for a couple of months. I had no idea if this brand cost more or less and he wasn't sure on its price. I needed this ingredient and I didn't have time to drive to a different grocer, so I accepted this alternative.

Apologizing again and expressing his embarrassment of the situation, he vowed to get that taken care of right away.  Later, before checking out, I swung back by to check up on his promise. Needless to say, nothing had been done.

Now, because it was a "Sell By" date and not an actual expiration date, there's a good probability that no one who bought and ate that Canadian bacon got sick, but the fact that the grocer was deceptive serves as a good reminder. Maybe I'm naive, but maybe if enough people point out these things, grocery retailers will at least be a little more honest.


Just a little story to remind you as a consumer, "Caveat Emptor" - Buyer Beware.

Until Next Time...
Here's a short video on how to understand food expiration dates.

Emptorly Yours,