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A Lot To Live Up To: The Burger’s Priest

If you’ve started reading this blog over the last year, it may come as a surprise to you that I spent 8 years as a vegetarian. I wrote all about my decision to eat meat again in this post.

For eight years I was that vegetarian who said I never missed meat. And I really didn’t. I was that vegetarian who would scrunch my nose up at anything meat related. I was that vegetarian who told my meat-eating friends that veggie burgers were just as good as the real thing.

About this last point – they are not. I must have been ill with a carbohydrate induced fever. I’ve already apologized profusely to many of my friends for force feeding soy burgers and hot dogs on them. For complaining when they spit them out. For insisting that a frozen patty was comparable to a juicy beef burger squeezed between two soft buns.

Ohgosh. I’m drooling again.

Since the re-introduction of real burgers in my life, I have become a bit of a connoisseur. Of all the ways to eat animal meat, in burger form is hands down my favourite way.

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Luckily for me, one of Toronto’s best burger joints happens to be close to my neighbourhood. The Burger’s Priest is a teeny-tiny indoor grill located in this rough transitional area between Leslieville and the Beaches, aka “no man’s land.”

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The self-proclaimed “All American cheeseburger joint” offers five kind of burgers with the option of fries or cookies on the side. The place is small and cramped with a handful of stools against the wall. Line-ups are often out the door.

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My roommie and I arrived on Saturday night after a brisk and chilly walk over. Something we hoped would be made up for with a mind-blowing hamburger. Luckily, we were able to snag a couple stools rather than return to our apartment with cold burgers in tow.

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I went for the most basic version – the cheeseburger with all the toppings – ketchup, mustard, mayo, tomato, onion, pickles, lettuce.

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A thin crumbly patty topped with a processed cheddar slice, between a soft white bun.

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Let’s talk about the meat. It was amazing. My roommie got the double double with two patties, and I regret not doing the same. Just the one thin patty didn’t seem like enough. The beef itself was melt-in-your mouth. Cooked to perfection (not too little, not too much). It was fatty in the sense that the juices dripped everywhere, and I saw them vigorously shake salt over each patty before cooking.

I cannot however claim this to be the best burger of my life (like I did with the pancake). I wasn’t into the processed cheese or bun. Both were cheap tasting and dumbed down the amazing beef enclosed inside. It reminded me of a burger you’d get at a charity picnic, minus the crappy patty.

Thus, The Burger’s Priest only makes it to my Number 3 spot. In case you are wondering, I have dozens of Top 3 foodie experiences floating around in my head. Burgers being one of them. Normal?

The Number 2 spot goes to this bison burger I had at the Elk & Oarsmen Pub in Banff back in June.

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Fresh ground seasoned bison patty topped with melted pepper jack cheese, butter leaf lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo. This burger came on a crusty white bun. The bison meat, while typically dry from being so lean, was thick and juicy. The best part was the seasoning. It was seasoned just like sausage. If I had ever doubted bison as a viable burger meat, I was now a believer.

And the top spot? My favourite burger of all time?

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My mom’s of course!!

Actually, this particular burger was eaten on July 13, 2009. What made it so special was that it was my first real hamburger in 10 years. To quote from my blog at the time (I know, here I go quoting myself again):

Ohmygoodness. Words cannot even describe. I cannot believe my tastebuds and body have been missing out on this for so long! (ahem, more than a decade!) My mom and I picked up some ground hamburger at a local store in Cap-Pele, a small Acadian town not too far from here. So we assume it was good beef. My mom said she mixed it with an egg, some oregano, and a piece of flax bread, and then just cooked it on the stovetop.

Let me put it this way: I will never again compare a veggie burger to a real hamburger. There is no comparison.

 

I believe we can pinpoint my love for hamburgers to that specific moment in time. In all fairness, The Burger’s Priest had a lot to live up to. Clearly, it will be hard to find a burger in Toronto that will change my life the way my “second first” hamburger ever did.

I just ask one favour to all my vegetarian readers out there. Please, please, never tell your friends a veggie burger tastes like the real thing. Learn from my mistakes :)

 

Question of the Day: What’s the best burger you ever had?

Holly + Susan: The Banff Exit Interviews

Happyhappy weekend!!!

I’m kicking the weekend off with a fun set of questions Holly and I asked each other at the end of our week-long adventure in Banff, Alberta. (recaps can be found in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5). This exit interview was created over a Big Rock Grasshopper in what I lovingly now call Cowtown. It’s the perfect way to wrap-up the trip – and will ensure I remember all the wonderful details!!

 

Holly.

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(1) Describe your trip in three words. Meat, soreness + FUN!

(2) What was your first impression of Susan? Honestly, I felt like we were already friends. She was just as sweet and friendly as she seems on her blog and had the most delightful Canadian accent ever…eh? ;)

(3) What is something you learned about Susan on this trip? Something I learned about Susan: she is incredibly prepared (she deserves all kudos for our oatmeal bowls) and is one tough cookie. Something I learned from Susan: Canadian geography!

(4) Best breakfast. As much as I loved me some fudge on my oatmeal, I think our Maple Maple Maple Oatmeal (maple nut oatmeal, maple jelly + maple almond butter) bowl we enjoyed on day #2 had me at hello.

(5) Best lunch/dinner meal. Bison burger baby! I had never tried bison before, but it was DELICIOUS, especially paired with chipotle mayo!

(6) Best dessert. Per Susan’s advice, we went to COWS for 16% milkfat ice cream lovingly mixed with toffee, chocolate and caramel and scooped into a chocolate nut waffle cone. It was heaven.

(7) Best local brew. My fave was the Rickard’s White Ale – delish!

(8) Worst food consumed. Those raw desserts we half consumed in an effort to be healthy. Never again. I will take my dessert baked with extra butter, brown sugar and carbs please. I know Susan agrees with me on this one.

(9) Favorite homemade meal concocted on the trip. The pita pizzas we concocted at the campsite – almond butter + trail mix on one pizza and almond butter + sliced apple on the other. I will definitely be recreating these at home.

(10) Favorite activity of the trip. The first hike we took up Sulphur Mountain with Karen. It was long, gruelling and had me panting for air, but the reward of the spectacular view from the top was worth it. Completely worth it.

(11) Most memorable moment. Getting hit on SIX times in one night with Susan + her friend Brynne. Hilarious.

(12) Most embarrassing moment. Burning myself…wearing green + white fuzzy socks in public places…finishing my meal before other people had eaten less than 1/2 of theirs…taking an intensely hard yoga class with intensely good yogis…

(13) Favorite person we met. It was definitely Florian. He was 19 years old, fresh off the plane from Dresden, Germany and was desperately looking for a friend. I know Susan agrees with me, right?

(14) The next place you want to travel to. International: Argentina. Domestic: Grand Canyon.

(15) Would you travel with Susan again? YES! She is one of the best travel partners I’ve had – she likes breakfast as soon as she gets up, wants coffee after that, says things out loud right before I am about to say the exact same thing, has no shame in downing DELICIOUS food + beer and is the yin to my yang. In fact, I already told her we need start brainstorming our next trip :).

 

Susan.

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(1) Describe your trip in three words. Decadence. Hamstrings. Outdoors.

(2) What was your first impression of Holly? That she is the same person in real life that she is on her blog – energetic, outgoing, hilarious, compassionate, smart, and gives excellent advice ;)

(3) What is something you learned about Holly on this trip? Holly can eat me under the table. Which is saying a lot, because I can put back a lot of food. That girl’s got talent.

(4) Best breakfast. Day two breakfast – maple fudge oatmeal. The texture and sweetness of buttery fudge melting on top of hot oatmeal is in fact the meaning of life. True story.

(5) Best lunch/dinner meal. The elk stew I got at the Rose & Crown for our first meal in Banff. I watched the Food Network on the flight over and Laura Caldman made a boeuf bourguignon that had me drooling in my seat. The stew zapped my craving and then some. Perfectly spiced with hints of red wine, and the elk meat was amazingly tender and flavourful. Served on top of roasted root veggies and mashed potatoes, it was perfection.

(6) Best dessert. This is incredibly difficult. I want to say it’s the vanilla coconut treat I got at the fudgery… but I think it was reeeally the Cow’s ice cream we got in Banff. Nothing beats a waffle cone. Nothing. Also, let it be known Cow’s is from the Maritimes – 16% milk fat baby ;)

(7) Best local brew. Big Rock Grasshopper. All of Big Rock’s beers had a really nice finish to them. The Grasshopper was a paler ale and quite refreshing.

(8) Worst food consumed. Ironically, the worst food was the raw cinnamon roll we got at the Wild Flour bakery. Here we are trying to be healthy after days of eating nothing but red meat, and we were sorely disappointed. I have a mild obsession with cinnamon rolls too, and nothing will replace my love for a white, fluffy, sticky bun :)

(9) Favorite homemade meal concocted on the trip. I really dug the pita pizza with the almond butter sauce and dried apricot topping. Honourable mention goes to our egg scramble at the hostel in Banff. When in doubt – add smoked almonds!

(10) Favorite activity of the trip. I think this will have to go to climbing Sulphur Mountain on our second day in Banff. It was a tough hike at times, but we also had tons of fun pushing ourselves through. Plus, reaching the top was amazing. I also have to give an honourable mention to Mindy at Rocky Mountain Yoga. No instructor has ever gotten that many chaturangas out of me :P

(11) Most memorable moment. Gah! SO many! When I think back on this trip, I will always remember that first night in Calgary when we got hit on by all the creepers then lost on the "wrong side of the tracks." I will always remember drinking tea at Lake Louise with the girls. And that image of Cascade Mountain at the end of Banff Avenue is forever etched in my heart.

(12) Most embarrassing moment. I can’t chalk it up to one "moment," but shuffling around the mountains with a hiking bag, duffel bag and GIANT wheelie suitcase was definitely embarrassing at times. When people at bus stations asked incredulously "is that all yours!?" I felt like yelling back "I’M MOVING!! IT’S ALL MY WORLDLY POSSESSIONS!!" But instead I just said yes, and wished I was a hip backpacker instead…

(13) Favorite person we met. I fell in love with a British man making his morning Earl Grey at the YWCA in Banff. He was 60-something and traveling all around Canada. He told us to spend our money wisely while we’re young, so we can travel like he is when we’re older. Shit. I think I got that one backwards…

(14) The next place you want to travel to. My mom and Nana are in St. John’s Newfoundland right now, and I really want to go after hearing them talk about it. That will probably be next, unless I make it to Scotland first. I AM going to Scotland. Mark my words. I’m going to spend the next year saving up for the trip.

(15) Would you travel with Holly again? Without a doubt!!! It would get eerie sometimes, because our plans always matched up. When I would say "we should do this, this, then this." Holly would say "I was thinking the same thing!!" Holly is also the perfect yin to my yang. I have a tendency to be shy sometimes, so her outgoing nature is the perfect travel buddy for me. And let’s face it, Holly could probably use my navigation skillz ;)

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Thank you for being such a fantastic partner in crime Holly!! Speaking of crime, I stole two of the above pictures from her blog ;) I also need to send much love over to Karen who rounded out the Three Stooges for much of our stay in Banff. You better believe I’m hitting BC the next time I’m out West!

 

Now, what’s next you ask?? I’ve been in Ottawa for almost three days and have much to report from this side of the country…

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See ya tomorrow!!

The Final Frontier

Howdy!! Wait, I am no longer in Alberta, I can’t say that anymore. I am currently sitting in my sister’s apartment in Ottawa having a lover’s reunion with my laptop. As much as I would like to sit here all day and reunite with it, I have a new city to explore – Ottawa!

But first, I must recap my last two days in Alberta. For those of you catching up, I spent a week in the wild rose province with my blogging soul-mate Holly, traveling through Calgary, Banff and the Rockies. Other recaps can be found here, here, here and here. I don’t even care if you read them all – but the pictures are definitely worth looking at! Canada is incredibly beautiful, I think something a lot of us may take for granted!

Also, for those of you who may not know the area – here’s  a handy dandy map of where we were:

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Circled are Calgary, Banff and Lake Louise. All within a couple hours drive. That green area are the Rocky Mountains which border Alberta and British Columbia and stretch far down into the US. It’s seriously one of the most beautiful places on this side of the earth!

Unfortunately, the skies clouded over again by the time we returned to Banff from camping on Monday. But it did make for some spooky mountain views ;)

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I’d gotten a recommendation for The Bison. We had no idea what to expect walking in, but who are we to turn down a stunning recommendation?

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It was a nifty little lunch-type place with a long list of sandwiches, wines and interesting cocktails.

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I actually don’t typically order sandwiches when dining out, but it seems like it’s all I got in Alberta! All the options looked amazing!

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I took a break from the red meat and went for the House Smoked Tuna + Aged Gouda: olive tapenade, fried capers, fresh tomatoes, romaine.

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Yumyumyum. The seedy baguette enclosing the inside goodness was definitely the highlight of this sandwich.

Highlight of the meal though, surprisingly, was the side salad!

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Greek salad, but more along the lines of a traditional Greek with no lettuce and cubes of all the usual suspects. I dug this. A lot.

This is where Holly and I spent the afternoon in an internet cafe… LOVE traveling with bloggers! ;)

Seeing as our trip was starting to wind down, our bank accounts were looking a little smaller. We opted for a cheap-o dinner in on Monday night. Thankfully, that also included well over a serving of vegetables. Perhaps my first the whole trip (well, that wasn’t bacon-wrapped).

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An egg scramble of sorts with broccoli slaw we found on sale. However, it was missing a little sumthin’ and at the last minute, we threw in smokehouse almonds. YUM. The almonds totally made this dish.

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Rounded out with a piece of buttered Silver Hills bread and dried apricots.

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There seems to be evidence of a saltwater rum taffee after this meal, however I see no reason to believe this ever happened ;)

Our oatmeal stores had run out come Tuesday morning, but we still managed to come up with a lovely breakfast.

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Or Holly did anyways, as my soft-fried egg was a little, err, scrambled ;)

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But the maple jelly and almond butter toast was to die for.

We made our last Evelyn’s stop…

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The “Again” part is quite appropriate, as there is an Evelyn’s on literally every block in Banff. Why walk two blocks for coffee when you can just walk one? ;)

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Extra extra large of Evelyn’s house blend. Ahhh… and all is right with the world again…

There was also this guy…

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Every time we walked past The Fudgery while in Banff, we were harassed by an array of deliciously sweet smells and a mouth-watering window display.

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I’d like to blame Holly for finally getting me in here… but let’s face it, I’m an easy sell.

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That my friends, is a vanilla coconut drop straight from the heavens.

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Similar to a macaroon, but smoother. Mostly because it had more butter and sugar than a macaroon, which as we all know makes everything better.

I may have eaten this for lunch while waiting for the Greyhound bus. Just sayin’.

Tuesday afternoon we went back to Calgary for our final night. I tried one more Banff goody once we got to the hostel (macaroons don’t make for filling lunches)

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Salmon jerky. I apologize to my fellow hostel-mates, because this definitely stank up the room.

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I have a soft spot for jerky though, and I love salmon, so this was right up my alley. A wonderful snack!

Holly and I needed to bring a little class back to the trip, so we visited the Glenbow Museum in Calgary for an Impressionist Print exhibit.

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I lovelovelove Impressionist art. Van Gogh (seen above) is probably my favourite. I blame my parents for taking me to the Van Gogh Gallery in Amsterdam when I was young and impressionable (no pun intended).

Unfortunately, Holly and I aren’t very good at this “class” thing. We soon found ourselves getting rosy-cheeked at a bar.

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A Big Rock Grasshopper at Lounge Burger to be exact. We were waiting for Allison of Eat Clean Live Green fame!! You would think we’d be sick of burgers after a week of non-stop red meat. But a classic Alberta beef burger was the perfect way to leave with a bang.

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Alberta’s Own: From Alberta’s own butter beef ranch, hormone free, ranch raised beef, served with blue cheese and caramelized pears on a kaiser bun.

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I seriously do not know how I was a vegetarian for 8 years and honestly thought veggie patties were a sufficient substitute for the real thing.

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Not even close.

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The three of us ended up chatting for hours (as these bloggie meet-ups usually tend to go) and we were so distracted we forgot to snap a photo!! Boo! I guess that just means Allison and Holly will have to come visit me in Toronto ;)

Well my friends, that wraps up my week-long adventure in the Rockies. I can’t remember how Holly and I cooked up the idea to gallivant through the mountains, but it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. In the past, fear probably would have held me back from doing something like this. But really, the only thing I need to fear is perhaps a little indigestion from too much red meat ;) And to think – the adventure is really only just beginning!

See ya tomorrow for a Banff trip exit interview with Holly, and a sneak peek at what I’ve been doing in Ottawa since arriving on Wednesday!!

Ohyes – and have a great start to your weekend!! xoxo

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