Alberta Burger Fest
I’m an Alberta Burger Fest Burger Ambassador. Can I put that on my resume?
Just one of the thoughts that ran through my head as I read the e-mail inviting me to participate in my first ever Burger Fest.
The Alberta Burger Fest stems from two successful years as YYC Burger Week, run by a team of dedicated Calgarians. It is comprised of 35 restaurants representing Calgary, Edmonton, Southern Alberta and Banff/Canmore in 4 different price point categories. 10% from the price of every Alberta Burger Fest entry sold by the participating restaurants is donated to one of the 6 charities. They are:
- Bullying Ends Here
- Kids Cancer Care of Alberta
- Kids Up Front
- Missing Children Society of Canada
- Ronald McDonald House of Southern Alberta
- Claresholm & District Health Foundation
As a Alberta Burger Fest Burger Ambassador (seriously, can that go on my resume or a business card or something?) you’re asigned specific restaurants and burgers to sample, rate and review. Hence the name. These were my designated restaurants:
I also decided to try some burgers on my own, since they were close to home and sounded promising. Those were:
I had 5 days to eat and 7 burgers to get through in that time. I like to eat, I’m a girl who can get down and dirty with a burger, surely this was to be a piece of cake right?
Up first was the Butcher’s burger from Wurst Restaurant & Beerhall.
House ground whole pig patty, stuffed with brie and pork knuckle sauerkraut, with pickled sweet red onion, mustard aioli, arugula, sliced German barrel pickles, & a nurnberger sausage, all on a toasted pretzel bun.
I must admit that I was worried going into this one. I’m really picky and I don’t like pork very much, I abhor pickles and pickled anything but I committed to trying every burger as listed on the descriptions page of the Alberta Burger Fest website.
I’m really glad I did as this burger was so, so, SO good. Perfectly cooked, tangy, creamy, moist, and it held together so well. It wasn’t heavy and I didn’t need a nap right after. What I did need was another one. Right away. I’m really kicking myself for not getting one to go.
Next up was the What The Flipp? burger from Flippn’ Burgers, a place I frequent regularly, who are the reigning Best Burger title holders. They also make my favorite milkshake in Calgary. I go here a lot. Like, a lot alot.
The What The Flipp creation will be a double beef burger topped with a smoked cheddar, a delicious beef-bacon jam, crispy onions, in-house made garlic aioli, a leafy green, and complete with a fresh three-part Kaiser, the middle bun fried and packed with flavor. WTF!
Again, I ordered the burger exactly as described. When I was asked what toppings I wanted on my burger and I said as it came, they seemed very confused. Maybe I should have taken their lead and added some condiments because I was left thankful that mini would share her milkshake with me. It was a bit too greasy, dry, and I couldn’t taste the aoili or bacon jam at all. A rare miss from one of my favorite burger & shake joints.
My 3rd burger was the Full Coverage burger at The Block restaurant.
Wagyu beef burger with a “full coverage” slather of pickled garlic aioli, hickory smoked pepper bacon, Sylvan Star Grizzly Gouda, crispy BC mushrooms, butterleaf, Hotchkiss tomato & butter brioche bun.
This was an all around delicious meal, and a great burger. I’m a sucker for mushrooms and beef and it wasn’t too heavy thanks to the veggies and and light bun. It was my first visit here and my dining companion and I were quite impressed.
Ship & Anchor
For my next trick, I mean burger, I headed to the Ship & Anchor for the Pacific Salmon burger (also known as the Whip & Spanker). This is another place I’d never been to before, which caused some looks of astonishment when I informed friends of this fact. Also, much to my surprise, I was welcome to bring mini with me!
Fresh Pacific salmon seasoned with cilantro mayonnaise, topped with guacamole, tomato, onion, crispy capers, and pea shoots. Served on a brioche bun.
Full disclosure, I strongly dislike cooked fish. However, I really enjoy cilantro and after all the previous burgers I was ready for something lighter. This was really flavorful and moist with the pea shoots adding a wonderful brightness to the sandwich. If you are a salmon fan, you need to try this burger. I even got mini to try some and she liked it, despite being like her mother in the salmon love department.
The burger from Brava Bistro brings us to burger number 5.
A house made angus beef patty, duck confit, crispy duck skin, and a fried duck egg on a brioche bun. Cherry mustard, provolone, white cheddar and lettuce accompany.
I was so excited for this burger as I love eggs on burgers. It was a big part of my ketogenic diet experiment a couple of years ago. Don’t ask.
While I love a brioche bun, it did not hold up to a runny egg. My first mistake was trying to cut the burger in half to get that money shot to show to you all. The patty was super thick and chewy but still flavorful. The burger kind of disintegrated once the yolk hit the brioche bun and trying to pick it up was a slippery mess that didn’t lend itself to the white linen napkin atmosphere. I ate it with a knife and fork instead and threatened to disown mini if she wrecked anything. She was too busy loving her food to hear me.
This was an amazing service experience and I can see why it was such a favorite to Calgarians I have spoken to. They close their doors on May 31, 2015 so get over there and experience some hospitality and quality excellence!
Number six was the Big Kahuna burger from Blowfish Sushi. This year they played off the success of their 2014 Ramen Burger entry.
This amazing burger starts with a spicy hand shaped ground sirloin patty topped with melted mozzarella cheese and sweetened with pineapple and Spam ™ between our famous ramen noodle buns.
Honestly, I was nervous about this burger as well because of my dislike of ramen. As a kid I went through a phase when I was ten where I ate uncooked ramen out of the bag all the time. Haven’t really touched the stuff since. Also, spam. Ewwwwwwwwwwww!
This was delicious! A bit greasy from the burger and the spam but mildly spicy, moist, held together well and was really well conceived. The avocado could have been replaced with something a little firmer in the texture to balance this out better but still a solid entry. It landed itself into my top 3, out of nowhere!
Craft Beer Market
I saved the intimidating Carnitas burger from Craft Beer Market for last. This bad boy looked like it required a few days off and a day dedicated solely to it’s glorious self. I was right.
A beef and chorizo patty topped with slow roasted pork shoulder, jalapeno Havarti, bacon, chipotle slaw, tomato, arugula and a sweet pepper relish, served on a Portuguese paposeco bun.
I was most looking forward to this because cheese is my life and havarti rules said life. It was flavorful and juicy and held together relatively well. The only problem was the bun was way too large for the patties and we were all left with about half the bun and no burger. Take all these ingredients and put them together in a tortilla and you’ve got one hell of a taco!!
So, that was my 7 burgers and as I sit here typing I recover from the meat sweats as I vow not to even look at another burger until next year. Also, time to hit the gym.
Ultimately it was the Butcher’s Burger from Wurst that garnered my vote but it was a very close race. The winners here are the charities that will receive funds from this meattastic event!
Text the name of the restaurant you wish to vote for to 1-587-317-7770. Alberta Burger Fest ends May 10, 2015
May the best burger win!