Thursday, July 30, 2009

Official Reaction: Guy Alaimo Leaves the World of Buffet Blogging

Victoria Burger Blog Head Reacts to Colleague Guy Alaimo’s Decision to Retire From Buffet Reviewing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VICTORIA, BC JULY 30, 2009—At approximately 6:45PM Pacific Standard Time I was alerted to a sad fact. It was at that time when the proprietor of the Victoria Buffet Blog, Guy Alaimo, let me know he had made the decision to "indefinitely quit buffets". Over the last year I have had the joy of accompanying Alaimo on a number of buffet-related journeys and jaunts. It is with a heavy heart that I must acknowledge today that I may never make another one of those trips again.

Though I will miss our buffet trips, I would be remiss to ignore the bravery of my colleague’s decision to step away from the buffet line, and into a healthier lifestyle. It became apparent to the family and friends of Mr. Alaimo fairly early on that the Buffet Blog was having a negative effect on his health. It is not without a certain level of guilt that we now must reflect upon his retirement; perhaps more intervention from myself and others could have prevented Mr. Alaimo’s extreme weight gain and subsequent health problems.

Mr. Alaimo has not yet indicated whether or not he wishes to remain a contributing writer for the Victoria Burger Blog. As the head of said blog I wish to let Mr. Alaimo know that we have valued his service greatly ever since we launched. It is the genuine hope of myself that the already strong relationship that exists between himself and the Victoria Burger Blog continue to grow. At the same time we wish to encourage him to return to burger reviewing only if his health allows it.

The Victoria Burger Blog wishes to thank Mr. Alaimo for his contributions to the local food-writing community, and to extend our support to him in this time of great change. We look forward to working with him again in the future.


Sincerely,


Donald Kennedy
Head Writer/Founder: Victoria Burger Blog
Contributing Writer: Victoria Buffet Blog
Media Inquiries: vicburgers@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FYI

Just a reminder that we still have a Facebook Group. Also if you'd like to get in touch regarding blog-related business (syndication, interviews, reader reports, spamming, etc.) you can e-mail me at vicburgers@gmail.com

Thanks,

Donald

ps. if you're famous and you'd like to go for a burger with me, please get in touch (whether you're local or just passing through town, or even if you have questionable famousness... we're still interested in your views of the burger world)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Podium Sports Grill | 531 Yates Street | 250•382•3838

Big Hurt Burger
$16



Here's your quick bit of Podium background: it used to be a Greek restaurant, it's owned by the Gorge Point Pub dudes and the guy behind Lighthouse Brewing, and hanging on the wall upstairs is a print of an Andy Warhol painting that makes Wayne Gretzky look like a child in a bubblegum swamp. Now that you have this stunning information culled from extensive journalistic research, howzabout we move on to the review?

Does it not seem a little strange to name your signature burger after a guy that didn't exactly leave the Blue Jays on the best of terms, and never made his career there to begin with? Sure Frank Thomas is one of the better hitters of our era, but aside from one decent year in Toronto—he really hasn't given Canadian fans much. Wouldn't "Boomer Burger" have been a more obvious and appropriate name for this package? Not only did David Wells help the Jays to their first World Series; he was also a notorious over-eater.

No matter what the name though, this burger is a pretty glorious journey into gluttony. The seven-ounce BBQ-sauce (house-made) basted patty is topped with a big glop of pulled pork, and a jalapeno-cheddar infused smokie that is too hefty to fit all of itself under the bun. A steak knife is thrust through the middle of the bun—providing a rather ostentatious symbol to the people around you that you've ordered a MAN'S MEAL. My own eating prowess was in fact questioned by the waitress who exclaimed "YOU'RE GOING TO EAT ALLLLLLLL THATTTTTTTT?" when she dropped the burger on the table. The answer to her question was of course, "yah I'm going to fucking eat it all! Unlike your waify ass, I don't feel soul-crushing guilt if I consume more than a radicchio/radish salad for dinner."

I am generally not in the camp that feels polygameatous situations are to be avoided in a burger because the beef flavour gets lost in the mix. Maybe the beef does take a backseat in the Big Hurt Burger, but so fucking be it. Hot dogs are a classic burger topping, and pulled pork just makes this package all the more comforting. The textural and taste adventure that comes from sailing through pulled pork, and then piercing the greasy skin of a smokie en route to a beefy pub patty is about as good as sinful eating gets.

Rounding out the Big Hurt Burger unit is a healthy dose of house mayo, a sesame kaiser, and some burger pickles. The pickles are quite an interesting flavour addition, as they are the only part of the package that is not meaty or greasy. The little blast of flavour that the pickles provide allows this burger to keep your taste buds interested instead of simply overwhelming them with salty, greasy flavours. The Big Hurt isn't the type of burger you savour and then rave about to friends, but it is a great bit of comfort food that is bound to put a smile on your face.

VERDICT: It's a whole bunch of meat between a bun... has that formula ever failed?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shaw Daily Burger Blog Piece

So I guess this aired yesterday? Can anyone confirm?

Anyway I'm trying to get a copy of this interview, which may or may not eventually materialise online.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Veneto (Hotel Rialto) | 1450 Douglas Street | 250•383•7310 | www.venetodining.com

Veneto Sliders
$14 for 3



The old Douglas Hotel was a place where memories were born. For many it was venue in which they witnessed a shanking for the first time. For me, it was the first place in which a lonely, toothless man from Newfoundland ever asked me if I would come back to his room for a couple hundred bucks. Alas, the "Dougie" has now been transformed into a boutique hotel—complete with tres chic tapas style dining lounge—and the only option for those looking to take in a good knife fight nowadays is to head on down to Tillicum Mall and wait about five minutes. So is the switch to the Rialto a trade-up situation, or are we looking at Tuuka Rask/Andrew Raycroft level downgrade?


I never ate anything other than roasted nuts from a machine at the old Dougie, but I can guarantee the food at Veneto is about a thousand times better than what was offered by its predecessor. Each Veneto slider is made with AAA Canadian (likely Alberta bred) Strip Loin which is chopped in house to make the burger patties. There is a slight peppery kick to these wonderfully textured little morsels, all of which which are housed by an untoasted bun from a local (factory I think) bakery called Mary's.

Your three topping choices at Veneto are: grilled jumbo prawn and ancho hollandaise; pancetta, smoked applewood cheddar, and onion straws; and portabella mushroom ragout with brie. Each topping mixture offers quite a strong flavour melange which does play a bit of a tug-of-war with the little chopped-meat patties. Although the balance in each of these units isn't exactly perfect—the flavour is pretty damn good.

The pancetta in particular brings to mind the flavour of a salty bead of sweat liberated by lip-lock from the nape of a young woman's neck. The other options are pleasant too, but the pancetta, applewood, onion strings mix is by far the best: applewood is a commonly used burger cheese for a good reason, and the onion straws are delightfully light and airy. The ancho hollandaise on the jumbo prawn option is pretty mild chili-wise, but still "slides" (HA) in at a very respectable second place. The mushroom ragout, however, is a rather overpowering topping mix which prevents the slider from being a true triumph. On the whole though, any one of these burgers blown up to regular size could quite easily compete with some of the better burgers in Victoria: definitely a great addition to the city's ever-growing burger landscape.

VERDICT: Looking for a late-night burger fix? You won't find many better options than this.

Media Domination Continues

I'm at Shaw right now doing a piece for the Daily. More news to come.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

GRILLED!

Some of you have likely already seen this, but if not... I was recently "Grilled" by A Hamburger Today. Being recognized as a legitimate part of the international burger-loving community by the biggest burger blog in the universe is a dream come true. Thanks to all the readers of the Victoria Burger Blog and to the local press as well for helping legitimize us on the world stage.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hungry Herbies Drive-In | Cache Creek, BC | 1301 Cariboo Hwy 97 | 250•832•2885

Monsterburger
$8



Editor's Note: Blog faithful will remember ages ago we introduced Miles Bissky as an esteemed correspondent. It's been a while, but he has finally submitted a second review to us! Enjoy his take on one of the favourite burger spots of my childhood, and a place that I still make a point of stopping at when I'm in the area, Hungry Herbies Diner in Cache Creek...


I strolled up to Herbies under the bizarre glow of yellow florescent lights, cringing as I thought of the last time I visited, two years prior. I had only vague recollections of my last experience when I inadvertently flung my chocolate milkshake over several tables when trying to save a fry from falling off the tray I was carrying to my table. The embarrassment of my clumsiness had blurred any memory of their “famous” monster burger. I opened the door to the restaurant and enjoyed the nostalgia of a separated restaurant. I'm not talking about racial segregation here, I'm talking about a distinct smoking compartment. Herbies has two completely separate and disconnected dining rooms. It has a unique central kitchen and three ordering counters; one counter for outside orders, one for non smoking and one formerly for smoking. Despite the obvious health benefits of preventing people from smoking in restaurants, I do miss the small town charm a smoking section once provided. According to the wait staff the smoking section only closed in 2008; surely Herbies must have been the last vestige for smokers seeking an indoor burger and Marlboro.


The menu is boldly printed on the wall and I'm sure it hasn't changed much in the last 40 years. They have everything from poutine to fish and chips and hot dogs; they also do breakfast from 8-11am. Obviously though, I came here for their pièce de résistance – the Monster Burger – which is proudly advertised at several points along the caribou highway (the trans Canada heading north to Cache Creek and highway 97 headed south). I know several avid bikers who occasionally make a day trip from Hope to Cache Creek specifically for the Monster Burger at Herbies. The Monster burger is pictured on a massive billboard a few miles south of town – the burger depicted looks sloppy and condiment heavy. In fact my wife remarked that the burger looked like something from thisiswhyyourefat.com. The wait staff at the restaurant are very friendly and passionate about their distinctive Canadiana faux drive in. I ordered a Monster burger, side of fries and a quencher (the only bottomless drink on the menu – it consisted of sparkling water, some 7 up, a slice of lemon and a slice of orange). I watched the grillmeister tossing patties on the grill and I wasn't 100% certain but they appeared to be semi thawed frozen patties. I also noticed they had a container of recently cut potatoes slowly oxidizing while they waited for their par fry.


I also enquired about their buns, and the woman behind the counter explained smilingly that they were made freshly in house. Once order #51 was called I walked up to the counter and excitedly examined the golden fries and carried my tray back to my table with an extra level of precision to avoid any tray mishaps this time. I unwrapped my burger and noticed it had some unusual features – the lettuce was on the bottom and the large tomato slices were on the top of the burger stack. Personally I think it makes sense for the lettuce to stay on top as it reduces the contact with warm juices thereby maintaining the crispness of the shredded iceberg for a few minutes longer. Visually I was happy with the condiment selection for the monster burger, lettuce, tomato, mayo, cheese, protruding crispy bacon and sauteed mushrooms. Unbeknownst to my eyes however, was the presence of margarine on the bun, I personally find margarine to have a similar flavour to the oil on dog fur. The flavour balance of the burger was still pleasant overall, although, it must be eaten in the context of an small town BC diner.



The flavours in BC diners tend to be geared towards palates that can not tolerate spice – even the intense spice of an American mustard or a paprika spiked special sauce. I fortunately had a childhood where I had countless exposures to plain grilled patties at small town fall fairs. The patties on this burger too reminded me of patties I had eaten at the Legion's burger stand at Brigade Days in Hope BC, although Herbies patties were larger – perhaps 1/3 pound patties and reasonably moist. The taste of a binding agent was apparent as well the subtle liver flavour that is common in patties made by machine. The bun had a nice texture and appealed to me visually as well, although it should have been toasted slightly longer and could have been a touch thicker to stand up to the juices coming out of the burger.


I consider myself an expert burger eater and I was unable to keep the bun fully intact during the whole procedure. I finished the meal off with a soft serve sundae with raspberry sauce, the soft serve at Herbies is incredible, probably the best I have ever eaten – it has almost a marshmallow consistency. One of my fellow diners told me it was “the real McCoy ice cream, not the iced milk from DQ.” I enjoyed my experience at Herbies, and if you set your frame of reference to a lost in time diner the food is pretty good overall.

Pink Bicycle Redux Part Deux

Pink Bicycle Burger
$12



A major change has been made at The Pink Bicycle: gone is the Alberta Beef that was once employed at this downtown joint, and in its place you will now find Island-Raised Hereford Beef. Springford Farm in Nanoose Bay has stepped up to the plate as the new beef supplier for the juicy patties that Pink Bike provides. The other major change is that the default serving style now appears to be medium-rare instead of medium. The new beef has a much more distinct flavour than the old stuff, and is prepared with barely any seasoning (if any at all). However, there is enough inherent flavour in the patty that a lack of seasoning doesn't really hurt things (although I wouldn't mind if it was punched up the eensiest of bits).

Other than that things haven't changed much at Pink Bike (although fried mac-and-cheese sticks are a big new menu bonus). If you're afraid of pink meat (and there are differing views on whether or not medium-rare is unhealthy) then I'd suggest asking for your burger done medium or medium-well. Whatever you choose, you'll end up with a pretty dope meal.

VERDICT: Still one of the best in Victoria, but still not better than Aura.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub | 308 Catherine Street | 250•386•2739 | www.spinnakers.com

Highland Beef Burger $12
w/the works
(bacon, cheddar, mushrooms) add $4


The burger at Spinnakers Pub is kind of like the girl next door; in a way—she's just like every other girl you've ever met. Yet something about her keeps you from brushing her off when she says hello.

The charbroiled patty, with its faint barbecue flavour and red pepper aioli/malt vinegar and tomato relish adornment, conjures up memories of a million chipotle mayo/BBQ sauce addled packages before it. It's not the same as those other pub burgers though—it's better. From the beer-braised onions, to the island raised highland beef patty—everything at Spinnakers is done just a little better than how its done at similar island pubs.

The aforementioned patty is juicy enough to allow a couple of grease globules to drip onto your plate, and is seasoned subtly enough to let you appreciate the superior tasting beef. The thing that really ties it all together though is the bacon; the wide-bodied slices offer the flavour needed to allow the herbed kaiser roll and its contents to live in harmony. The bacon is definitely an essential add-on here: the burger would be fine without, but you'd certainly sense it was lacking something.

VERDICT:
A step above the rest, and another sign that using Vancouver Island beef in your burgers is far from impossible.