Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Gameday Eating vs. Carl's Jr.'s Western Bacon Cheeseburger

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Rockies

Some things I'll just never get used to.

My grandmother has been dead since the beginning of the century, but every time I drive past her old house, I look to see if her car is in the driveway.

There was a Sicilian restaurant in town that served the single best pizza I have ever tasted, and every time I consider where to go out for dinner, I still think of it as a possibility. I catch myself when I realize the place has been closed for a decade.

And if I live to be 100, I don't believe it will ever stop being strange to watch a Dodgers home game on television and not hear Vin Scully's voice. It's just not as much fun anymore. I knew this would happen, but that knowledge doesn't make the situation suck any less.

That being said, I try to always make time to catch a Kershaw start. If you love baseball, you know what I mean.

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day after I wrote about how crappy I think Carl's Jr. is. My friend and I have known each other since high school and back then we used to eat at Carl's on occasion. (Not nearly as much as we ate at In-n-Out or Taco Bell. The former of which I still love; the latter, not so much.)

Back then, I really liked the Carl's Western Bacon Cheeseburger. My friend suggested that I try it again, see what I thought, and then make my own version.

"The way you made your own version of the McDouble, do that with the Western Bacon Cheeseburger, but make it side-by-side, like a competition."

I loved this idea. Partly because it's in the spirit of competition like the sports I write about on this blog; mostly because it means I get to eat more burgers.

My burger is on the left; Carl's on the right.

  • THE BUN. The bun I used was a clear victory for me. Not that my bun was great, but Carl's was terrible. I don't understand why places use sesame seed buns. Come to think of it, why do sesame seed buns even exist? Was someone eating a plain bun one day and suddenly declare "You know what would make this great? If we put a bunch of seeds on top!"?
  • Ironically, Carl's Jr. uses a freshly-baked bun for some of their sandwiches, such as the "big chicken fillet"... and it is the best fast food bun I have ever tasted. They should use that with all of their sandwiches. (I just looked at the Carl's Jr. website, and apparently you can request that bun if you want. That had never occurred to me.)

  • THE FRIED ONIONS AND SAUCE. Back when I used to eat this sandwich, it usually came with two or three sad, limp onion rings on the bottom bun. This time, I received several crispy pieces of onion. They were fantastic. And Carl's barbecue sauce has always been one of my favorite fast food barbecue sauces. This was a victory for Carl's. I did not see that coming. 

  • THE BACON.  This was the best bacon I have ever received from Carl's Jr. Unfortunately for them, that's like being the valedictorian of summer school. Carl's is notorious for using lousy bacon. While I actually ate the bacon this time, it was not as good as the thick, Amish-style bacon that I roasted in my oven for 40 minutes. 
  • THE CHEESE. Although the Tillamook cheddar I used would unquestionably be tastier eaten by itself than the American cheese Carl's uses, it didn't stand out at all. Both cheeses got lost amongst all the other flavors. 

  • THE MEAT. Obviously, there was no comparison. I used USDA Prime ground beef from my local butcher. Carl's uses flabby, grey, dried-out meat. This is why it's impossible to take seriously their claim of being "pioneers of the great American burger." If you're proud to serve meat that looks like this - if you merely find it acceptable to serve meat like this - you don't get to call yourself a pioneer of anything.
  • WINNER: GameDay Eating. Although Carl's Jr.'s burger was better than I expected it to be, and I loved their onions, there was just no way for me to get past the crappy bun and flavorless meat. 
  • That was fun. Let me know if you have a suggestion for another fast food item I should try to replicate. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Three years ago, I stopped into one of my favorite bars for a drink. The bartender told me that a couple of Rockies had been in the night before - they were staying at a hotel just a few blocks away - and were talking about how Kershaw was overrated. "I'm gonna go yard off Kershaw tomorrow," one of them announced. The next day Kershaw threw a 15-strikeout no-hitter against the Rockies, one of the greatest games ever pitched in the history of baseball. I think of that anecdote every time I see Kershaw pitch against Colorado. 
  • That ain't happening tonight - Kershaw walked the first batter he saw and gave up hits to the second and third. Bases loaded, no outs.
  • I don't have any stats in front of me, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that Kershaw has never given up a grand slam without recording a single out.
  • According to a survey from LMU, the Dodgers have surpassed the Lakers as the most popular L.A. team. That's not terribly surprising considering how awful the Lakers have been for the last four seasons. 
  • After letting the first three reach base, Kershaw has retired 9 in a row. 
  • Joe Davis is now talking about Kershaw's no-hitter. Not surprisingly, he sounds extremely bored doing it. 
  • Trevor Story leads of the top of the 5th with a double. Remember when he started off last season with homers in his first four games and sportswriters started asking "Is Story better than Tulowitzki?" That may have been a little premature. 
  • Story still didn't score. Chris Taylor leads off the bottom of the 5th with a double for the Dodgers. Let's see if they can do better. 
  • They can. The Dodgers lead 4-1. Kershaw is on base. I miss when I was a kid and Dodgers pitchers used to put on those shiny blue satin jackets when they got on base. The current warmup jackets that pitchers wear are much more attractive but not nearly as cool, if you get what I'm saying. 
  • Not a whole lot more action in the game. Kershaw came out after 7, the Dodgers used three relievers in the final two innings and win 4-2. 

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