Monday, December 6, 2010

Dubba-Double Burger Y'all

This is a double cheeseburger.

No, that is Louise Autry. We’ll get back to her in a minute.

Look to the left. That is a double cheeseburger.

Okay, actually it’s two balls of raw meat. However, I feel that if my pregnant friends can show me an ultrasound of an 8-week old embryo and call it a baby then I can call my balls o’ meat a double cheeseburger.

Not only is this a double cheeseburger, it is quite possibly the best double cheeseburger on the planet.

Why is this the best double cheeseburger on the planet you are probably asking yourself? The answer is because this burger is made the right way. You see, a proper burger starts out as a ball of meat, not a patty. The ball(s) of meat is placed onto a flattop griddle, not a grill and definitely not a flame-broiler (note to self: write Burger King to learn and blog about what exactly a “flame broiler” is), where it is flattened, as it cooks, into an inconsistent shape that doesn’t really resemble your typical fast food burger (nor the one that your bbq crazy uncle has been perfecting since college).

If you wanna know why this is the best way to make a burger, look it up; this blog post is dedicated to the burger and the burger maker, not the process.

Now, back to Louise.

I was lucky enough to meet Louise after a fortunate fender bender brought us together. Most people don’t consider fender benders fortunate, but I’m not most people. Louise asked me to come to her place of business so that we could take care of our business; which quite frankly is none of your business. While there I watched Louise press sizzling beef onto a hot griddle and immediately knew this was the burger place for me. Without hesitation I placed my order for a double cheeseburger.

Louise has been making burgers at Pender’s Café since 1956. The café itself has been open for 80+ years. So what does that mean, you ask? It means they are doing something right so don’t go in there telling them about the shit you ate last night at Fudruckers or how they make burgers in Texas. Louise and Pender’s know what they are doing.

To call Pender’s a café is an insult, Pender’s is a diner. A good old-fashion diner. Red stools line the counter; part of a motif that appears as if designed by the Coca-Cola Company. A couple of other friendly folks work the counter with Louise and help give Penders all the charm one would want from a southern diner.

The burgers at Penders are special. They take one back to a time when life was simpler. When a burger was just a burger. There were no special sauces, portabella mushrooms, deep fried onion rings or organic grass fed beef to choose from. A time when a cheeseburger was a meat patty and American cheese on a white bun with lettuce tomato and onion bringing it together as a sandwich to satisfy all four food groups.

The Pender burger, as it is aptly named, is one of the best burgers I’ve ever had simply for its unassuming nature. There is no seasoning in the meat, (culinary sin numero uno for any food put to heat) yet that is part of its beauty. When one takes a bite of the double Pender burger one tastes, meat, cheese, grease and no-frills, white hamburger bun. Top those flavors with crinkled cut fries and wash it all down with a fountain Coca-Cola and you’ve got the best lunch one can have for $6.99.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ed Hardy Beer: When You're Just Not Feeling Douchey Enough

This one is too easy. So I will simply let you come up with your own words for this one. Feel free to post them in the comment section even.

OK, just one: Looks like the UFC has an official beer!

(Dear UFC, please don't beat me up.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Foodie: A Four-Letter Word (with two extra letters)

If you are reading this blog (either of you) then the chances of you going to a restaurant these days without first enlisting the services of yelp, chowhound, citysearch or a similar website are slim. With so many individual reviews, from people just like you, you’d be foolish to risk wasting your hard earned (or stolen) cash staring at a plate of subpar grub in a joint with questionable sanitation practices.

This is 2010 (or 3008, if you listen to Fergie) and for every restaurant you want to visit, someone else has already been there. Not only have they been there, they have told their friends and family about it, they’ve made a Picasso picture album documenting the experience, they have posted images on Facebook with witty captions, posted even more select pics just for those special friends who are not going to think less of them for doing the things they were doing in said pics and, not least of all, published a detailed review of the restaurant on their blog and/or one of the afore mentioned sites (this all happens regardless if the individual tweeted about the place before, during and/or after going there). So for one to go blindly would not only be dumb, quite frankly it seems like it would be next to impossible to do.

Having all this information at our fingertips has created a new wave of experts. These experts get alerts on the hippest restaurants in their inbox every morning from Tasting Table, Thrillist and Daily Candy just to name a few. After patronizing a few of these recommended establishments and padding their vocabularies with the latest ingredients du jour taken from uber-hip menus that boast the latest cutting edge dishes prepared with classic French undertones, these folks feel ready to take on Food Network’s biggest and brightest. They watch Anthony Bourdain and his global culinary misadventures and fantasize themselves in similar experiences. Bobby Flay seems to speak to them as he plucks baby octopus from the sea and grills it for use in a classic paella with a Greek twist. When frying up a batch of chicken, they find words dripping from their mouths with a slight twang `a la Paula Dean. But nothing brings them together like their shared condemnation for Rachel Ray.

So who is this they, you ask? This they is the foodie.

Foodies refer to themselves as foodies. It is, in sorts, a badge of honor bestowed upon them by none other than themselves. However, one must not look for this badge pinned on the foodie’s chest or sleeve, as it is not the badge that gives the foodie away; it is the foodie’s mouth (or fingers if a foodie is typing) that gives the foodie away. For the foodie will surely tell you that he or she is a foodie. All you have to do is wait for it.

Why is it folks chose to label themselves “foodies?” Does by somehow labeling oneself a foodie, give one’s food opinions and adventures more credibility? Does the foodie proclaim his status so that he or she may be thought of as the room’s authority on all future food conversations? Or does the foodie just possibly truly know everything there is about food?

No, the foodie usually knows very little about food.

The word “foodie” was first used by New York Magazine writer Gael Greene in a story published on June 2, 1980. How this word came to replace "gourmet" as the word of choice for one-who-likes-food-and-stuff, can be attributed to Paul Levy. Or at least claims Levy in his 2007 article on Levy, co-author of The Official Foodie Handbook, claims he first used the word in mockery and then others utilized it to replace the pretentious word “gourmet.”

Though now the unpretentious "foodie" has taken on the pretentiousness of its predecessor.

Now I am not claiming that foodies are palate-ly challenged. In fact, each and everyone of us has different tastes and for that reason new and exciting dishes are constantly being created. This keeps the food universe, well, new and exciting. We know what we like and what we don’t. And that is good. I would never belittle someone for their tastes (Yes, I would. But for the purpose of this blog I’ll pretend that I wouldn’t….I’m looking at you Marshmallow Fluff lovers), but I would and will belittle them for not making their tastes their own.

Foodie’s know the restaurants they are told to go. Foodies know what they are told is good. Foodies know trendy dishes. Foodies know how to check restaurants and popular dishes off their lists of places to try. Rarely do foodies really know food. And if they do know a thing or two about food, they know enough to not call themselves foodies.

I’m not claiming that restaurant reviews by the average non-professional food critic aren't helpful in guiding a person toward a pleasurable dining experience. Nor do I claim that there aren’t times when that 5 star review by foodlover1975 on isn’t spot on. But please dear foodie, understand that it is okay to not like a place everyone else is digging. Or the opposite is fine too; dig a place that no one likes. You won’t lose your table cred for it, I promise.

When I meet new people and inform them that I am both a cook and author of a nifty food blog, I am often met with, “So, with you being a foodie…” This makes me hurt. If I didn’t rely on cooking for my livelihood and didn’t need these folks to visit my food establishment and oh-so-clever blog (and click on the ads!) I would give them my diatribe regarding the use of the word. But I do, so I don’t.

Though it does make me wonder, does writing this blog and reading countless others, make me a bloggie?