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Friday, July 18, 2008

2008: Year of the Cheeseburger

Halp!As far as I know no organization has formally declared it, but judging by the news stories I've been reading the cheeseburger has attained a lofty status all over the globe in the past several months.

The most recent indication came from a story this week in The New York Times reporting on how hamburgers and cheeseburgers have invaded Paris, turning up on menus even in the toniest of restaurants. Of course, these are burgers with a French twist, such as cornichons, fresh thyme or black ketchup made of fresh berries. Want to try a burger with smoked bacon, lettuce, dill pickles, mustard, mayonnaise and fries made by a three-star chef and served on a housemade bun? Fifty-six dollars, please.

Across the channel in London, Burger King began offering this summer a $175 luxury burger made of imported Wagyu beef, white truffles, champagne onion straws and Pata Negra ham from purebred acorn-fed pigs. But it's not just a sandwich, it's a fundraiser — proceeds from the sales of this over-the-top offering (which are reportedly brisk) benefit the London Save a Child Foundation. According to one reviewer, BK's THE Burger sounds better than it is because it has to be prepared to corporate standards, which in this case means it is overcooked.

In Japan, the battle of the burgers has taken a bigger-is-better approach with McDonald's hot-selling line of MegaMacs. The basic model is a 10-oz., four-patty stack garnished with all the usual cheese, veggies and sauce. Burger King, which recently returned to Japan after a six-year absence, has countered with its own Double Whopper.

And now the word "slider" — a semi-derogatory slang term once only applied to White Castles — is being used to sell small gourmet burgers. (I recently sampled a couple of Wagyu sliders at the West Baden Springs Hotel, and other than the bun size they bore little resemblance to those served to Cravers at the Aluminum Room.)

And speaking of wag-you, I'm relieved to see that Chinese restaurants are taking dog meat off their menus for the duration of the Olympics. (They don't call them Chows and Wiener Dogs there for no reason!) I wonder what kind of wine … well, never mind.
J. Silverheels Gray, 9:43 AM


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