Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A dissenting opinion

Last week I went to see The Book of Mormon at Proctor's.

I thought it was an extended episode of South Park, had a few good laughs (one very good laugh) but really wasn't anything special. It wasn't hilarious and like many things Matt Stone and Trey Parker do, the play devolves into a series of dick jokes. I kind of feel alone in this opinion. Everything I had heard about the play basically said it was the best/funniest thing that ever came to Broadway.

I must have had a stunned look on my face when the lights came up for the intermission. My wife asked, "Are you OK?"

"I thought it was going to be really funny. I guess my expectations were too high," was my reply.

Then we spent the intermission keeping track of the Mets on a phone.

The second half of the play was better than the first. The play builds to a climax, that even I thought was humorous while making a very thoughtful observation about faith. That quickly went away when half of the cast started wagging fake dicks. That particular scene was funny and good and thought provoking and not made better by another dick joke. Especially since most of the scene already relies on a callback to a joke about fucking a frog.

When the play was over, they entire crowd jumped to their feat to give the cast a standing ovation, leaving me and my wife sitting there, looking at each other thinking, "Seriously?" The idea of giving this performance a standing ovation hadn't even occurred to me. I guess every kid gets a participation ribbon and every traveling Broadway play at Proctor's gets a Standing O.

I don't go to the theater often. And I'm cheap. So while walking back to the car, I couldn't help but wonder what I would have rather done with the $200 I had spend on the night (tickets plus a sitter). The last time I saw Springsteen was cheaper. If you're in New York City, you could go to The Comedy Cellar a handful of times (and laugh harder) for that money. That's also a lot of pizza. I stopped thinking about it once the list was sufficiently long.

On one hand, the play made me think about haves and have nots, faith and organized religion. There was even a kind of catchy song that was stuck in my head for a little while. And in the other's another dick joke.

My father would have said, "It wasn't terrible." My grandfather would have said, "Uch. They make up a story."

They'd both be right.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Burger time

I was recently invited to go on a local burger tour with the past Tournament of Pizza judges from All Over Albany. How can you say no to that?

For the past few years, I have tried to only eat our own beef. For the most part, I've been pretty good. When you get a side of beef, you end up with a lot of ground beef. I'd guess about 100 to 120 pounds of it depending on the year. That's a lot of meatloaf, tacos. nachos....and burgers. I've got to tell you, our beef makes a kick ass burger. I think a Prinzo's hard roll puts it over the top, but that's a minority opinion in the house. If you are looking for a cheap, white bun I'd recommend visiting a Stewart's.

Here's a summary of my thoughts on the four burger joints we visited one fun Saturday. The complete All Over Albany write up of the burger tasting is here and this is a link to the fries and kind of a wrap up.

Bun: I'd never seen a bun branded before. The only think I can think of that compares is a toaster Darth Vader toaster that burns "Star Wars" into the slice. This was a toasted potato bun and had a little sweetness to it.
Meat: The burger was well done, not much beefy flavor to it but it had a nice amount of fat to it.
Toppings: Plenty of nicely melted cheese, there was also a French's style mustard taste that I'd skip if I were ordering for myself and the lettuce and tomato were there but nothing special.
Fry Texture: Nice and crispy on the outside and very soft inside. Kind of like a mashed potato.
Fry Flavor: I really liked these fries. I think I'd try to order them well done to compare.

So while this particular burger wasn't spectacular, it made me think that if I came and ordered a burger specifying my personal burger preferences, I could get a pretty good burger here. And the fries would be hard to stop eating.

Burger 21
Bun: I liked the bun. It was lightly toasted, but the  burger removed any toasted texture.
Meat: Well done but still juicy, fatty and very rich. I did a double take on my first bite. There is no mistaking this for lean.
Toppings: There was lettuce and a very good slice of tomato. There was also a lot of yellow mustard, ketchup and mayo that combine into a special sauce. Too much sauce that also took away from the bun.
Fry Texture: These are a McDonalds style fry with not much too them. They're just salt delivery device.
Fry Flavor: I thought they had a little bit of an off after taste.

I get that fat is flavor in a burger. That said, I thought the burger was too fatty and McDonald's does a better version of these fries.

Bun: Toasted, but very soft and didn't hold up
Meat: Good flavor but I didn't notice the crust they they are known for having.
Toppings: Lettuce, decent tomato, good pickle chips, ketchup, mustard and some incredibly strong red onion. With the onion on the burger, that was all you were going to taste. I like onion, but I took it off.
Fry Texture: Thin and very crispy, but a little greasy
Fry Flavor: not much there

I had heard good things about Smashburger. Maybe this was an off day. I liked the beef, but the overall burger was unimpressive. The fries were nothing special.

Five Guys
Bun: light toasting, good flavor, and I liked the sesame seeds. Only bun of the day with seeds.
Meat: Not much crust, but good flavor and juicy
Toppings:A lot of mayo (too much), best lettuce of the day, a decent tomato, ketchup, mustard and some very strong diced onion. Maybe I don't like raw onion as much as I thought.
Fry Texture: crispy but soft on the inside
Fry Flavor: Salt. There was a lot of salt on this batch of fries.

This was the only shop I had visited prior to this tour. I wasn't impressed at that visit and never understood why people liked Five Guys. I can definitely see the appeal of that burger now.

Out of these shops, where would I go back for a burger? BurgerFi would top the list for me. I liked the restaurant and I'd like to see how they build a burger to order instead of right off the menu. And eat more of their fries. Too bad you can't make a Franken-Burger and fries combo with the best aspects of each place.

When the tour was over, I popped into to Whole Foods for a few things - basil and mushrooms for pizza on Sunday plus a bottle of seltzer - then headed home. Once there, I proceeded to fall into a minor salt induced food coma that probably involved some loud snores. When I came to, we had been invited out to diner by another family. After a day of eating burgers, I drove the family to Red Robin.

I just had a small salad. Timing is everything.