Shotgun Friday: Hamburgers, the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.

30 April, 2010

Now that is a tasty burger!–Jules Winnfield

Another Friday, another trip to the random portions of my brain, and today the topic that comes up on the wheel-o-blog: Burgers.

Fitting raiding into a tight work or school schedule can be tough. Things, at times, need to be sacrificed. One of the first things that we sacrifice is sitting down and having a nicely cooked meal.

Well, maybe a lot of you wouldn’t do that anyways because you can’t cook or are afraid to cook, but nevertheless…many raiders will eat a meal or two (or three) over top of their keyboard while clearing trash to the first boss. If you’re headed home and you need something quick to eat, it needs to be fast and it needs to be easy to eat while DPSing, Tanking, or Healing.

My food of choice for raiding (and my favorite meal overall) is the cheeseburger. Properly wrapped and held, it can be eaten with one hand and is a complete meal in one package.

Nothing is more compact, more modular, and more filling than a well made, juicy, delicious cheese burger. The best thing about the burger is that it’s one of the few meals that has a low floor in terms of quality. Your Dad or Grandpa probably cooked you plenty of burgers that were indistinguishable from a hockey puck, but with a good bun and some ketchup and onions, you still had a tasty meal.

Cheeseburgers can be prepared quickly, and, based on the toppings, can skyrocket into the realm of the uber gourmet.

My burger rules:

  1. Medium to Medium Rare if you have the option
  2. The bun must be warm/toasted
  3. All food groups must be represented. Fruits/Vegetables count as one group.
  4. Minimum 1/3lb in weight. Anything else is just a glorified slider. Exception granted if you buy 2 and make them into one burger.

There are few places that can meat the above criteria regularly from trip to trip, but the following joints are my favorite places to get my favorite meal:

5. Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe

A fast food establishment local to the Pittsburgh region that started up in my home town. The burgers served at this (mainly) hot dog emporium are of the quarter pound size so therefore I invoke the exception in rule 4 (hey, when you’re making the rules, you can make how to break them too!).

The picture to the left is obviously not of the burger itself, but it’s a picture of my favorite cheeseburger side-dish: Hot Dog Shoppe Chili and Cheese fries. This is a photo of the large size, but the chili is the magic sauce that brings it all together and makes the HDS my go-to dinner stop.

Two cheeseburgers with bacon and chili, a large fry, and a vanilla shake. That’s all I need to make me happy.

4. Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Excellent place, enormous selection of toppings, and boardwalk fries that you can’t possibly resist. Five Guys takes the classic fast food quarter-pound cheeseburger to a new level. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s how the bun, cheese, meat, and toppings all fuse together into a being of utter deliciousness. Or maybe it’s that their “regular” cheeseburger would be considered a double in other restaurants.

I visited this place almost three times a week when I was at Pitt, and now that there is one just minutes from my office. It’s on my rotation for good!

3. The Backdoor Tavern

A local joint 5 minutes from my house that not only sports a beer list with over 100 selections (plus seasonals), it has a 3/4lb burger on the menu. I usually go for the classic bacon cheeseburger, but there’s also another variation: The Backdoor Burger. A 3/4lb cheeseburger with cheddar cheese, hot pepper cheese, ham, bacon, and onion. Finishing it is an adventure.

Frankly, finishing anything at the Backdoor is a quest in eating. If Subway sandwiches were served at the Backdoor, you would need to double all of the toppings and then rename the 12″ sub to a “Half Sub.” You get your monies worth and you get to do it for a really good price.

Also, can’t forget the Beer Lists. The Backdoor keeps a list on hand for each patron that wants one, if you drink every beer on the list, you get a sweet T-shirt. The list of beers on the list is small compared to the selection, so substitutions are allowed. You can complete multiple lists, but it’s only worthwhile if you’re actually trying to new beers (which is the whole point anyway!).

2. Howard’s Pub

The one place on this list that isn’t within driving distance. Howard’s Pub is located off the coast of North Carolina on Ocracoke Island (Outer Banks territory). Howard’s serves up 1/2lb burgers to order in their beach side bar and grill that sports a beer list with over 200 bottle and 24 draft beers.

There isn’t anything particularly special about them except for their preparation. No flashy names or toppings, just a great cheeseburger. Every patty comes seared perfectly for that nice crusty char taste while keeping in the juices. If we’re talking pure burger flavor, these guys are the kings.

I always get a burger with cheddar, bacon added, cooked medium rare. You won’t find a better a mix of location and delicious food. Unfortunately, it’s 13 hours from my house. Oh well.

1. Red Robin

As they say in the commerical: “Yummmmmm”

It seems like a cop out to go with a national chain of restaurants, but how can you argue with the final product?

You would think that because it’s a franchise and because you go anywhere in the country and get one, you would get a boring, re-used, and at times low quality cheeseburger.

To that I say “no, sir!”

There has never been a time where I have been unsatisfied by the meal crafted for me in the kitchen of my local Red Robin (across the street from the office, no less!). There has also never been a time when I’ve looked outside of the burger section.

Chicken burgers? Sandwiches? SALADS!?

These mere servants of King Burger are there to satisfy the lesser beings that accompany those of us that truly appreciate the above-gourmet category that the Red Robin cheeseburger finds itself in.

The combinations are as varied as they are numerous. There’s the blackened bayou burger sporting a creole mustard with slaw and “angry onions.” Throw on a roasted red pepper and hot pepper cheese to cover all categories and you have yourself a winner.

The bleu cheese and guacamole bacon are another two of my favorites (top right, and left middle, respecitvely), but you really can’t go wrong. Checking off each of the burgers on the list over the past year has been an adventure in Burgerland for this american cuisine conossieur.

Now that I’ve sufficiently worked up my appetite, it’s time to grab a beer, grab a burger, and watch some playoff hockey.
Have a good weekend, folks, and Go Pens!


Shotgun Friday: Movies. I love them.

23 April, 2010

I don’t think I’m alone in the world in imagining this flick may be the worst idea since Greedo shooting first.-Holden McNeel

It’s sunny out in the ‘Burgh today, it’s Friday, and that means it’s time for something fun!

Everyone that knows me (in WoW, in RL) knows that I love to watch movies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no movie snob. In fact, I like just about everything I see. Like is a pretty broad term. I watch plenty of films that I think are terrible, but…oddly enjoyable. Movies that people hate and will never watch I’ll see just for the sheer entertainment of watching good actors play terrible roles.

I could name a top 5 by director, top 10 by studio, or a top 15 by genre if I wanted, but I thought I would just focus on the flicks that have some of my favorite quotes, lines, and characters. DVDs that I can just pop in and watch in the background as we’re raiding. One or two of these might fall into the “all-time” favorites category, but mostly these are just movies I can go back and forth to and still enjoy fully.

Let’s do 5, but let’s set some rules. Different genres, different actors (exception: Kevin Bacon), different directors.

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What does Arthas Menethil look like?

15 March, 2010

He looks like a Lich…King?. I wonder how many times that one’s been used. If I had to guess, probably about as much as March of the Penguins this month. Anyway, our Sunday evening 10 man thought it might be fun to try something after coming up a bit short on some hard modes.

Maybe we were searching hard for some comedy, but we found this pretty humorous. Also, below is a much more impressively fun clip of Goon Squad taking care of Tirion Fordring.

ICC25 Hard Mode: Them Bones

10 March, 2010

Try to recover, but we collide with each other. We spin out of control–Kotov Syndrome, Rise Against

And now the real fun begins. Progression over the past two instances has been considerably different, from a mental point of view, than every previous tier. In Black Temple when we finally downed Illidan the feeling in the raid was “woohoo we just beat the game!”  Now that has completely changed. You down The Lich King, the (supposedly) final boss of the expansion, and you say to yourself “sweet! now we can start raiding for real!”

In a way this is like a second round of leveling. The goal (for raiding focused players) when starting a new alt is getting that character leveled, prepped, and ready to get into a raid instance. You get your ratings as close as possible to their minimal caps and collect some crafted/5-man gear, but you can’t really do anything until you hit 80. The same thing happened in ICC25. We worked decently hard to get those 12 bosses down (at least the later ones), and we finish the instance. Well, not really. Now we can actually start to raid at a level we’re accustomed to.

We have some hard modes to do. Will we achieve a Lich King 25 Heroic Kill before Cataclysm? That is certainly our goal and last night’s raid was our first big step toward achieving it.

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Now With 5% More Fiber

3 March, 2010

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. — Gen. George S. Patton

The buzz this week, other than the Lil’ XT, is the activation of Strength of Wrynn/Hellscream’s Warsong.  As everyone knows by now, this is (initially) an extra 5% damage, healing, and health.  This buff by the end of the expansion will reach 30%.

It should be noted that talking to your faction leader and removing the buff will take it away for the entire reset. So be warned, there is no turning back (for a week at least) if you choose to go in without your King.

Blizzard’s continuation of using the “lore” of the Ashen Verdict to enhance and expand ICC is very solid.  Giving players a small boost is a better direction than their former model of cutting off whole limbs of bosses to allow raid groups entry into the later portions of raid zones with little more than a foam sword rack.

Five percent isn’t going to let trade chat PUGs kill The Lich King (or even Festergut, most likely).  What it will do is push guilds stuck at a particular point in the instance over the hump.  Very small execution mistakes aren’t nearly as magnified.  A little bit later in this post I’ll do a quick comparison between this week’s clear to last week’s Tuesday’s clear.

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