Disclaimer: this blog post is based entirely on speculation and conjecture.
I have a hunch about Charlie's Burgers, the underground restaurant in Toronto that's got everyone buzzing. Susan Sampson from the Toronto Star wrote an article about the phenomenon in today's paper and, upon reading it, something clicked in my head.
Charlie's Burgers has been written up in SheDoesTheCity, BlogTO, Sweetspot and now in the Toronto Star.
The writers from BlogTO and Sweetspot had not yet attended the secret dinners upon writing their pieces, but, in the piece from SheDoesTheCity, they wrote, "Guests included the esteemed food guru Bonnie Stern and gregarious red-haired sommelier of Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, Jamie Drummond."
Today in the Star, Jamie Drummond comes up again:
"I was incredibly, incredibly impressed by what they were doing," says Jamie Drummond, wine director for the Jamie Kennedy restaurant group. "Everybody is looking for something a little different. It has the potential to be a hit."Now, this is completely unsubstantiated, but I think that Jamie Drummond is affiliated with or is, in fact, Charlie Burger himself. My reasons are five-fold:
Drummond says he was both "worried" and "intrigued" when he and his girlfriend arrived at the anti-restaurant's first dinner, last month. It was held in the tasting room of a public wine storage facility on King St. W.
"It was definitely more like a dinner party – with friends you don't know," he says, recalling there were 18 guests.
Drummond had such a great time, he agreed to be the sommelier for this Sunday's meal. However, he claims he never spoke to Charlie in person about it.
"I like that mysterious air," he says.
- The only person discussing Charlie's Burgers with the media is Jamie Drummond, who previously had a background as a musical journalist in Scotland and would probably know a few tricks about getting news into the media.
- Jamie Drummond occasionally DJs around Toronto as DJ Non Doctor, which demonstrates that he is in touch with after hours and underground communities.
- Charlie's Burgers places an emphasis on food and wine pairings. Jamie Drummond is a sommelier. (Hey, I'm just saying!)
- No stranger to developing elite communities centred around food dialogue, in 2006, Drummond, alongside chef Brad Long and sommelier Anton Potvin, created Monday Lunch gatherings at Toronto's Spoke Club. Over the years these luncheons based around "drinking, dining and discourse" gained popularity and captured the attention of chef Marc Thuet, Leah Mclaren, James Chatto, Jamie Kennedy (chef) , Amy Rosen, champion oyster shucker Patrick McMurray, and Charles Baker.
- In his role as sommelier for Jamie Kennedy's restaurants, Drummond would have privileged access to wines and fresh ingredients. The reviews from Toronto's elite food community have been favorable, thus, it has to be someone with special access and above-average competence who is orchestrating this whole thing.
I was born and raised in the fine 125 year-old city of Toronto. I had the pleasure of attending high school downtown, something I loved. From age 12 onward, I would commute on the subway to Bloor and Spadina: a practice that empowered me during those rebellious teen years.
There has been a lot of dialogue recently about a new city project which entails aborting the longstanding monopoly of the hot dog. Eight vendors have been selected from a shortlist of 19 applicants.
People seem divisive on the issue, but in true Toronto fashion, they refuse to be happy: either lamenting the long overdue introduction of new street fare or berating the limited scope and selection of the food.
Toronto, you just can't win. You'll never please everyone and don't worry: I'll always honor thy street meat.
meat reductionism (noun)[meet + ri-duhk-shuh-niz-uh m]the practice of minimizing or obscuring the consumption of animal flesh as used for food
Those close to me can also attest to my extreme love of burgers.
Our ancestors were primarily gatherers over hunters. When foraging for food in the wild, they ate meat only when they made a kill: perhaps only once weekly, if that. As a result, our bodies have evolved to be all-eaters. But this category is equivocal, leading to the belief that humans digest lettuce and steak with the same grace and ease.
Deciphering whether a species is a carnivore or herbivore is indicated by the teeth of the animal and the length of its digestive tract. While humans do fall under the omnivore category based on a rigid tri-categorical definition, we should instead consider meat /vegetable preferences as a more broad spectrum.
When we compare the length of our digestive tract to that of a raccoon or a rodent, it is considerably shorter. Longer tracts indicate species that are designed to eat lots of meat because it takes more time and effort for the body to break meat down than veggies. Shorter tracts are thus indicative of a diet that should be primarily comprised of vegetables.
While our bodies are capable of processing and digesting meat, our basic physiology suggests it should not be ultra-prevalent in our diet and the bulk of our nutrition should be comprised of fruits, vegetables, and grains. When considering meat, let us look to the wisdom of Aristotelian moderation as guide.
If a physiological argument will not affect your meat consumption, then perhaps an environmental or humanistic argument might. If we all stopped eating meat, there would be enough food in vegetable crops to comfortably feed everyone in the world. Raising a cow for a year demands 7 times the amount of grain that it would take to feed a human. For more information consider, The River Cottage Meat Book: For Carnivores with a Conscience, to get more information on sustainable meat farming.
No one is asking you to give up meat completely, but to eat it in excess seems both decadent and cruel. My beloved Mark Bittman recently gave up meat before dinner in an effort to reduce his cholesterol. His project was completely successful.
Slashfood also posted a recent article on the subject of daytime meat reductionism. It would seem the meat-eater/vegetarian dichotomy is becoming less pronounced than it once was.
Alas, the next time we are at a cocktail party and someone questions us about our eating habits, let us proudly proclaim:
“We are meat reductionists!”
½ block of extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
½ cup of cremini mushrooms, brushed clean & cut in half
2-3 table spoons of olive oil
1 small jar of capers + the juices
3 scallions, sliced finely & divided by white and green
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
Heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and tofu. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms soften and the tofu turns golden brown. Add the white part of the scallions. Saute gently for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the capers and juices, the green scallion bits, and the soy sauce.
Serve over a bed of whole wheat couscous.
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