Vancouver Foodster and the Best Burger Challenge

Best Burger ChallengeFrom November 5 – 30, 2012 you can taste the burger creations from 29 restaurants in Vancouver and Burnaby, then vote from November 28 – December 3 for your favourite. Visit www.vancouverfoodster.com/burger-challenge/ to find out all the restaurants and how to vote.

I had an opportunity to visit 3 of the participating restaurants with Media last week.  The burgers were all very different in their style, which I think makes the challenge interesting.  Find what you like.  The three restaurants we visited:

  • Max’s Burgers (521 West 8th Ave, Vancouver)
  • Luke’s Kitchen (2996 Granville St, Vancouver)
  • Whet (1517 Anderson St, Vancouver)

Max’s Burgers

Max’s Burgers produced a “local” burger, where all the ingredients are local.  Plus the hamburger bun is produced on premises. The beef comes from the Honest Butcher on Broadway and the bacon comes from Woodland Smokehouse.  Amber Ale white cheddar for the burger comes from the Okanagan. We were told that since they created this burger it is their top selling burger in Max’s. People like local!  I enjoyed this burger. It was well put together.  I liked the bacon in that it was not too smoky or salty, and the burger was not dripping in sauce.  The patty looked to be 1/2″ thick. Some other Media people mentioned how much they liked the home made hamburger buns.

Max’s also made their version of a Whisky Sour to go with our burger, called “Pomme de terroir“. It is a blend of local Spicebox Whisky mixed with roasted & pureed local Gala apples, and some sugar. A shrub vinegar was also added, and to top it off with R&B Cream ale foam. The baked apple mixed with the sweet spice from Spicebox Whisky was really very tasty.  I’d order it again.

If I were to pair a wine with this burger it may be a California Chardonnay, or maybe Summerhill’s ALIVE Organic Red.

Max's Burgers

Max’s Burgers

Max's local burger

Max’s local burger

Luke’s Kitchen

Luke’s Kitchen also went local but with a twist. They produced a home made veggie burger patty. They spent 2 months with 3 different consulting chefs to create the burger we tried that evening. Some of the ingredients that went into this patty included quinoa, toasted almonds, black beans and more.  To complement the burger they topped it with southern fried beer battered dill pickles and jalapeno peppers and dressed it with home made Granny Smith Chipotle ketchup. Wow. The pickled peppers and ketchup added zing to this burger. The patty had nice texture to it, and you don’t miss that it is not beef.

If I were to pair a wine with this, I may go with a rose wine, maybe from Joie or Haywire.

Luke’s Kitchen is taking local to another level as they will soon be growing their greens onsite, and talked about also raising their own fish at the restaurant too. Very cool and very local.

A side of deep fried pickles and jalapenos

A side of deep fried pickles and jalapenos

A cross section of Luke's veggie burger

A cross section of Luke’s veggie burger

Whet

Our last stop for the evening was Whet on Granville Island. They created a beef burger for this challenge and their twist was a Latin spice influence. They use local ingredients as well, such as the buns from Le Baguette on Granville Island. The beef was mixed with oregano, cumin and other spices.  AAA beef was used for the patty and it came 1/2″ thick on the bun. A Dominican style chimichuri slaw was served on the side.  The beef was very juicy and lots of flavour.  I in particular liked the cumin flavour, plus the actual taste from the grill marks on the patty.  I did not taste the grill from the other 2 burgers. The other thing I really liked was the cheddar cheese that was layered on the burger really stood out.  I like the sharpness of the cheddar.

I’m partial to Latin flavours, and this was my favourite burger of the evening.

They served an R&B Bitter with the burger.  It had nice orange, cherries and spice flavour. It was light body with medium bitterness.  A nice beer to enjoy with this burger.

If I were to have a glass of wine with this, I think I would go with a Ravenswood Zinfandel.

Whet's beef burger

Whet’s beef burger

Give these burgers a try, or try some of the other restaurants, then vote for your favourite burger. Enjoy!

My Top 5 Wine Blog Posts for 2011

Chinese New Year Golden Rabbit

Wow, a whole year has just zipped by.  I was really busy tasting lots of wines at all the fantastic venues here in Vancouver, as well as across the border at the Taste of Tulalip (which you should sign up to attend next year.  It’s excellent).  Thanks to WordPress for compiling my stats and letting me, and you, know these were my top 5 blog posts.  Which do you think?  The answers are below!

I knew my Chinese New Year post was super popular as I watched my stats leading up to Chinese New Year hit the roof. Stay tuned for my wine selection for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

My #2 post really caught me off guard.  But I’m pleasantly surprised.  Spicebox is an easy to drink whiskey, on the ice, or mixed in a drink.  Check out the post.

Lulu Island Riesling Chardonnay Ice Wine

For #3, I was happy to see Lulu Island Winery, a local winery, located in Richmond, BC.  They produce both grape-based and other fruit-based wines.  They also produce a selection of ice wine, so drop by one weekend to Lulu Island Winery if you live in the Vancouver Lower Mainland. 

#4 should be hot right now too, seeing that it is New Years Eve.  I hope I helped many people figure out which caviar and Champagne they would like to nibble and toast with the family and friends.  Wine is a social drink.

And last, but not least #5, about the Rioja region of Spain.  This article came out before the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.  Spain was the Theme Country this year, and I think the Vancouver readership had a thirst for knowledge about this region and what to expect at the Festival.  Stay tuned for my articles on Chile, as they are the next Theme Country for the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival next year.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Have You Tasted Spicebox Canadian Whiskey?

Spicebox whiskey and Fentiman sodas

This week I was invited to a tasting of Spicebox Canadian whiskey. The whiskey is first made in Alberta then brought to Quebec for further blending and finishing before being bottled. Truly made in Canada.

Why the name “Spicebox”?

In Prohibition days in the United States, Canadian alcohol, such as whiskey was smuggled down south.  The whiskey was hidden inside boxes containing spices; and viola, Spicebox whiskey the name was born.

This evening I first tried the Spicebox whiskey on ice so that I could appreciate the flavours before moving on to the mixed drinks that they were offering.

Spicebox Tasting Notes

Light amber in colour with quite an aromatic nose.  Vanilla on first sniff, followed with sweet spices. Flavours of vanilla, caramel, sweet spices and toffee. Smooth. A bit of sweetness. Nice on the rocks to sip.  This is different than other more traditional whiskeys you may have tried, such as Scotch. This is completely different in style.  If you have friends that do not like the stronger, bitter, hotter flavours of scotch, then you may want to try Spicebox with them.

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages

What to mix with this Prohibition influenced whiskey than some old style soda pop.  Fentimans brought three different sodas for the mixed drinks:

  • Victorian lemonade
  • Ginger beer
  • Dandelion & burdock

These are Botanically Brewed Beverages from the UK made starting in 1905, and now in Canada. Here is the link to the Fentimans website.

Two Spicebox Whiskey Mixed Drinks

Prohibition mule Spicebox drink

Prohibition Mule – Ingredients: Spicebox Canadian spiced whiskey, fresh lime, Fentimans Ginger beer, mint sprig. Ginger beer is quite spicy. Plays off nicely with smooth vanilla and sweet spices of the whiskey. The sourness of the lime freshens up the flavours and adds another layer of complexity to the drink. Fun to drink.

Spicebox Cup – Ingredients: Spicebox Canadian spiced whiskey, strawberries, Fentiman’s Victorian lemonade & Ginger beer. This drink has a very pretty colour due to the crushed strawberries in the glass.  The lemonade is not overpowering in the drink.  And again the vanilla and sweet spices make this a very flavourful drink.

To find out more about Spicebox, here is Spicebox’s Facebook page.

Enjoy.