Burgers Turn Chic – So Sayeth the New York Times

It must get tiring at the New York Times, always following in ELV’s footsteps. But two days after my sandwich rant, comes not one but two articles in The Paper Of Record about the humble hamburger.

And just when we thought America’s greatest contribution to the food world had taken more hits than Lindsay Lohan on a weekend bender, the Times claims that the American burger is all the rage in Gay* Paree. If you can ignore the mention of Alain Ducasse’s shrimp and squid “burger,” you’ll find the Gallic flouishes to our culinary invention pretty tasty.

In the article, French chefs extol the virtues of hamburgers; one going so far as to call them “…the architecture of taste par excellence,” while expats Daniel Boulud and Laurent Tourondel** laugh when told that they helped the hamburger conquer Paris – admittedly something not that difficult to do.***

Sliding right beside it on the pages of the Times, is this explanation (known to ELV decades ago) about the evolution of the slider, and how every top chef in Manhattan is now on the White Castle bandwagon…..because “…the slider’s appeal is undeniable.” Duh!

Fun Food Fact #1: Vegas was way ahead of New York on this food fad too – because places as diverse as FIX, Simon, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, STACK, Burger Bar, Sierra Gold and Guy Savoy et al have been serving up mini-burgers for years. Fun Food Fact #2: yours truly once ate 22 White Castles in a mano a mano eating contest with a guy who outweighed me by 90 lbs (His name was Pete Schuler and he’s a Public Defender in Louisville, Ky). He ate 24 of the suckers, but I won the symbolic prize by not puking them up as he did.****

Regardless, it’s nice to be lending a hand to those fine folks in New York, and ELV just wants the Food Editors of the NYTimes to know that we will always be here in the High Mojave Desert to show them the way.

And as long as we’re obssessing on New York, hamburgers, and Alan “The Hitman” Richman, you can go here to read about his five favorite burgers in the Big Apple.

One is compelled to ask: When will this summer love-fest of great minds grading grandiose burgers come to an end? Answer: After my next post! Stay tuned.

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* As in: mirthful and joyous

** Two Franco-American faves

*** See: Wars, World I and II

**** Thus was his pyrrhic victory as empty as his stomach.

The Best Burger In Town – LV Weekly’s limp lineup is laughable

Every so often, we pause from surfing the soft-core porn and Asian massage ads in the Las Vegas Weekly to actually read something in it. This week, since the election, war in Iraq, stock market free-fall, gas and housing crisis might be a bit too much…er…uh…information for those consumed with whether to hit Prive, Christian Audigier or The Bank tonight, this ‘zine/free porn provider/club promotional device/etc. decided to feature The Ten Best Burgers in Vegas as its lead story.

And it gets everything wrong. Well, in a spirit of generosity, let’s say almost everything. There’s no argument with the In-N-Out double-double, or the sliders at CUT, or Brand (although who on God’s green earth wants to endure the clusterf*ck of trying to get to the Monte Carlo these days?)

But after those three, though, things get decidedly worse….and stupid to boot.

Because if you’re gonna feature the Top 10 Burgers….why not stick with….uhmm… HAMBURGERS? As in: round patties of cooked, ground beef? Instead, the “article” spreads the love (Do we smell advertising revenue? I think we do…) around to Veggie Burgers (The Claim Jumper?…Puhleeeze!); a Turkey Burger (a different subject entirely); a Lamb Burger and a Bison Burger (ditto).

Forsooth, not-so-fair-Weekly! Dost thou sayeth that the most regal of American foods, the hamburger, hath crossed the Martini Line? I beseech thee! Thou shall not condemn thy most royal of foods to the mendacity and mediocrity of poor Caesar (the much-maligned salad.) Do not, I beg thee, abandon thy noble burger!

But it would seem the Weekly has, since four of the Top 10 aren’t really hamburgers at all; and a fifth, the beyond-mediocre patty-melt at Kilroy’s (not technically a hamburger either), also made it onto this list. So now, if certain burghers (hambones? dillweeds?) are to be believed, we’re supposed to consider anything on a round bun (or any sandwich made with chopped anything) a “burger” (just like any drink in any martini-shaped glass can call itself one, and any salad made of romaine may hail to Caesar.)

Sadly, as long as vegetarians, something-for-everyone restaurateurs, and meretricious editors are around, the mighty American hamburger will face this onslaught of perversions. But methinks this humble-but-authentic creation won’t go gentle into that dark Applebee’s night of salmon/turkey/veggie/tofu burgers.

And any food writer that helps it to do so ought to be forced to spend a week eating this.

Purists unite! And forswear any attempts to call anything that isn’t a hamburger a “burger.”

And FYI: The Best Burger In Las Vegas is at Bradley Ogden. It is the Tiger Woods of cheeseburgers – when it’s on its game (which is every night at the bar at BO), the others are playing for second place. It’s also one of the best burgers in America.

So sayeth me and multiple James Beard Award Winner Alan Richman. Read about it in more detail here.

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p.s. For a great look at hamburger history, buy Josh Ozersky’s book on the subject here.

MARCHE BACCHUS is Decadent, Diabolical and Delicious.

The staff at ELV has never been good at math. That’s why charts and graphs like this one usually frighten and confuse us:

Wine – Vintage – Strip Restaurant PriceMB Restaurant Price

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $75.00 $38.99
Caymus Conundrum 2006 $70.00 $36.99
Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 $550.00 $204.99
Duckhorn Merlot 2005 $120.00 $65.99
Philippe de Rothschild Rojo Chile 2004 $60.00 $23.99
Finca Luzon Merlot, Jumilla 2003 $30.00 $18.99
Gaja Barbaresco Costa Russi 2000 $795.00 $390.99
George “Nuptial Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2005 $225.00 $89.99
Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $950.00 $634.99
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $110.00 $58.99
Joseph Phelps Insignia 2004 $405.00 $229.99
Row Eleven Pinot Noir 2006 $56.00 $26.99
Shafer “Red Shoulder” Chardonnay 2004 $110.00 $59.99
Stanley Lambert August Shiraz 2004 $59.00 $26.99
Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label NV $110.00 $60.99
Williams & Selyem Pinot Noir 2005 $175.00 $82.99

But even our numeracy-deficient brains can detect a bargain when we see one. And it doesn’t take a mathematical genius like this to decipher that serious wine drinkers (or casual wine drinkers, or first time wine drinkers) can’t do better than the prices at Marche Bacchus. I would even submit that the “Strip” prices quoted above are unduly modest, and that you can easily spend more on those bottles of wine at certain restaurants up and down LVBlvd. So.

Continue reading “MARCHE BACCHUS is Decadent, Diabolical and Delicious.”