Tag Archive for review

Burger Joints of Hayward #1—1/4 Lb. Giant Burger

Chuck's in Raleigh, NC

Chuck’s in Raleigh, NC

Driving through the streets of Hayward, many small burger joints entice me with their siren’s call. You know the one: “Try me! I’ll deliver all the drippy, cheesy, beefy goodness you remember from that shack down the block growing up.” For me, these tempters recall the Charlie’s King Falafel in Old Orcutt, just outside Santa Maria, CA. Barely big enough for one person to order at the register at a time, young Becca always had the queen size and it always satisfied. I have no idea if their falafel was any good. I had no idea what falafel was until well after I moved away to college.

Ah, my memories…(photo from Yelp)

I paint that nostalgic picture to introduce a new series from the Gourmez. My resistance has failed, and I’m going to try each and every one of those burger joints in Hayward, so help me! Before you ask, yes, I’ve tried the iconic Val’s. It’s three blocks away from my apartment. But I haven’t been impressed. So if Val’s is the be-all end-all of burger heaven for you, well, our taste buds might not be best buds.

What makes a great burger joint? It’s more than just the patty for me, though the meat’s freshness and flavor is the most essential factor. What else matters? Quality of the bun: if it’s falling to pieces or mush before I’m done, that’s a problem. Grilled is appreciated as well. Cheese melt: That slice of cheese better be dripping all over the patty before you serve it.

William’s Gourmet Kitchen in Durham, NC, shows off its melting cheese.

Quality of the toppings: I like mayo, and I like it sloppy. I also want lettuce, tomato, onion, and maybe bacon, jalapeno, or avocado depending on my mood. Regardless, the ingredients must not make me wonder when the restaurant had its last produce delivery (this is my main problem with Val’s). Fries: Anything but steak-cut, boring, flavorless fries makes me happy (Val’s problem #2). Shake: I like to sip at my straw and actually get some shake through it, but I accept that the thicker the shake, the happier most people are, though I must maintain that such shakes should just be called ice cream (Final Val’s note: I haven’t had their shakes. I suspect that’s my biggest problem).

You have my criteria. And I have my first burger joint review for you.

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WBC14: My Thoughts on the Wine Bloggers Conference

It’s been a little over a week since I returned home from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Buellton (WBC14), and I’ve had enough time to form some opinions on the experience. Overwhelmingly, those opinions are good, and they come from the perspective of a first-time attendee who didn’t entirely know what to expect from the event.

Did not expect ultrasound oxidation!

Did not expect ultrasound oxidation!

Did expect plenty of this.

Did expect plenty of this.

I wouldn’t qualify my experience as negative in any way. My thinky thoughts are more about defining what sort of wine writer I am and considering whether that fits into the WBC’s intended audience or not.

1. Value

The conference was run by Zephyr Adventures, which as their website rightfully claims, “specialize[s] in providing our travelers with big experiences from a small company at a fair price.” That company description exactly sums up my overall opinion of the conference. If nothing else, WBC14 offered two and a half days’ worth of unending wine tastings, two meals a day–

Fare at the Wine Blogger Awards dinner.

Fare at the Wine Blogger Awards dinner.

–the chance to get to know other wine writers and a bevy of industry professionals, and an afternoon spent at the Sanford Winery nestled in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA all for $100 for citizen bloggers like myself.

Next, add in the amazing value of the multiple excursions the conference put together. I attended the Bridlewood excursion for only $15, and we enjoyed a large picnic lunch at the winery’s immensely scenic grounds—

WBC_14_160

–tastings of their wines with the meal, and a panel of local food producers that resulted in yes, more food and wine.

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WBC 14: Best Wines

This is the first of several posts covering my experience at the Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC14) held in Buellton, CA, last weekend. I’ll feature one per week, likely through August, and why not start with what’s most important to me? Naturally, that’s the wines themselves.

Wines during the Blends break-out session.

Wines during the Blends break-out session.

Over the course of the conference, I tasted around 70 wines, the majority hailing from the Santa Barbara County (SBC) region. I was re-introduced to the beauty of the countryside of the Central Coast, something I rarely experienced while growing up in the city of Santa Maria. Turns out I really should have gotten out more.

Imagine…the wine world waiting for me outside of Old Orcutt!

Imagine…the wine world waiting for me outside of Old Orcutt!

But I digress. It’s the wines I’m talking about in this post, not the sunsets over hillsides. After two liveblogging tasting sessions, two workshops on wine blends and the syrahs of Ballard Canyon, two trips to wineries and more tastings there, and multiple big-tent tasting opportunities over brunches, lunches, dinners, and desserts, these 11 wines stood out to me. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

In no particular order….

1. Charles Krug 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

I gave this wine, the last one I tried during the white wine liveblogging session, my highest rating of the weekend, though I suspect #11 below might beat it had I taken the time to write down my notes. Regardless, this interloper from Napa Valley overflowed with honeysuckle and exceptionally flavorful Crenshaw melon. When sipping, lime mellowed the sweetness of those two flavors, creating a divine blend.

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