Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger

I am literally going to die.

I’m done. I’m dying, my insides are decomposing, and I’m going to die. And I feel so clean.

I’m on a juice fast. It’s the worst. I mean, I feel great, slightly delirious, and I fall asleep at stop lights, but I can already feel my stomach aching for a burger. Obviously, with my couture food tasting lifestyle, it’s difficult to maintain such a diet while still sticking my mouth in the latest and greatest delicacies from Chez Mac Do and Wendy’s. I enlisted the Bedfellow to help me eat this burger while I watched her, on the floor, from across the room, while I cried silently into my sweet green and lemon water.

The new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger features some new ingredients and some old ones- bacon, cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, and smoky mustard sauce (from the flatbreads, I imagine) along with Cheddar cheese sauce atop a pretzel bun. Pretty intense, and at $4.89, pricier than the standard bacon burgers but hopefully worth the price. It’s a fairly weighty sandwich, and very visually appealing, with lots of sauce, veggies, and a shiny, toasted bun.

The Bedfellow liked it, though found the pretzel, which I’d consider to be the main draw of the sandwich, bland and not very tasty. It wasn’t sweet like some pretzel rolls, and had no salt on top. I would have found the inclusion of rock salt fairly audacious given the assault of savory ingredients already inside the burger, but was pleased to hear that she thought the rest of the salt balanced out the boring flavor of the bun. Though if you’re going to make a pretzel bun, why bother making it at all if it isn’t going to taste very good?

Luckily, it didn’t overwhelm the rest of the burger, which was satisfying in its composition. Although she found the cheese and mustard sauce difficult to tell apart, she liked the sweet and smoky flavors, which leads me to wonder if Wendy’s has adjusted their mustard sauce recipe after testing it in March. The arugula blend was a nice touch, too, and gave a splash of color alongside the relatively anemic-looking tomato and yellow and brown color palate of the meat and cheese. Red onions balanced out the richer flavors. The cheese provided another good boost of salt and softness atop the burger, but was overwhelmed by the thicker, gooier cheese sauce. Unfortunately, with the success of the toppings, the burger itself was dry.

When 50% of the components- pretzel and burger, are outshone by traditionally secondary items within the composition of a sandwich, cheese and bacon, it seems that it would not prove to be successful. However, it was saved by the quality and abundance of the remaining toppings. The Bedfellow said she would certainly get it again given the chance. I’d be curious to know who is supplying the pretzel buns for Wendy’s, or whether they are recipes from another company, tweaked to taste as they do. If this is a permanent addition to the menu, I would hope they add a little more of that eggy, saline flavor so quintessential to pretzels themselves. 

Quick Suprême Foie Gras Burger

It’s been a strange, beautiful six months.

I don’t know where to start, really. So much has happened and has seemed so normal to me that when I step back and look at it from an outsider’s perspective, it just looks absurd. I leave Paris in less than 48 hours, and I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t a little strained, a little stressed. I’ve lost a bit of my nerve since I’ve been here, so to speak. My desires have changed and I’m struggling with one foot in the Metro door trying to determine what will transfer when I cross the ocean. I guess that’s why my posting has been erratic. The clock is ticking and I’m sitting on my suitcases realizing that there’s a world out there that I didn’t even know I wanted until I flew out and saw it for myself.

I get that this is a thing, that this is hardly an original impulse. Students do it, they are enriched, they come back with stupid assumed accents and a newfound sense of entitlement smugly wagged in the faces of their uncultured peers, they immortalize it in Instagrammed photos and Skype and eventually, there comes a day when they move on to bigger and better things and eventually allow the smoke of Paris to fade from their minds, forget the sound of crowds in London as the days pass and pass.

This terrifies me.

So here I am, on my second-to-last night, and I’m trying to grasp something, shock my body and brain into feeling and reacting by staying outside a little longer. I needed a project, so I schlepped to six Quick restaurants looking for this damned foie gras burger. I don’t know, it was my last hurrah, my last attempt at branding these streets and Metro exits on my mind. Four of the restaurants didn’t have it, having stopped carrying it after a week out of disinterest, one of the restaurants had moved and was still on the Quick website, and the last one didn’t have it when I went that afternoon and had it that night. I was discouraged but I couldn’t stop moving and as asinine as the goal felt, it was just good to have one.

This burger, for lack of a more sophisticated comparison, encompasses how it’s been here. It’s got a smear of highbrow eclecticism in between its decidedly spartan base. It’s strange, it’s elusive, and it’s downright inconceivable to people who don’t know what it’s like. I can’t say that it’s perfect, but it’s damned satisfying. It comes wrapped in greasy, stained wax paper and carries a funk of decadent sleaziness. After all, it’s French, albeit the D-grade of French, foie gras on a cheap hamburger.

I guess the prospect of the new, the strange, the ephemeral, the transitional, still intrigues me. If this burger can satisfy that for me, $5 isn’t the worst I can lose. In any case, this met my expectations and exceeded them, in a bizarre sense. I didn’t expect it to grow on me as it had, but here we are. It’s well-balanced in flavor, the extra elements- grilled, caramelized onions, an onion, poppyseed and paprika bun, and the obvious hunk o’ chunka burnin’ lobe push past the basic lettuce and burger and add a flair of exoticism to the entire package. Nothing pushes to the center, it’s graceful and natural. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s easy to get accustomed to, kind of like Paris itself.  A befitting end to a beginning, or a beginning to an end, or maybe it’s just the middle of something I’m still working my jaw through.

I will miss small, silly things like bizarre burgers.

I will miss large, grand things, like the Seine, the Metro, the tight wind of one hundred and twenty-six old stairs to a Parisian garret and a world of possibilities out a cracked window.

At the end of it all, though, I’m really, truly happy.

And I will be back.

I have had an exceptional stay here. I’ll see you all on the other side.

Guest Review: Burger King Pumpkin Burger

Foodette: An exclusive review, coming to you all the way from Japan! My study abroad friend has a sister in Nagoya, and we were lucky enough to persuade her to try the new BK Pumpkin Burger, topped with a ring of fried slices of pumpkin. Get her take here!

The BK pumpkin burger looked very grandiose on the giant poster in front of BK, maybe even appealing, but still sounded weird, so I was skeptical going in. But after a long 30 minute walk around Nagoya in search of BK and not having eaten much for lunch, I was ready to sit down and try it. After letting Nobu, my boyfriend, order for me, he brought back the white paper wrapped burger marked “HP” for “Heavy Pumpkin”, an option Nobu chose to add extra pumpkin on top as a 100 yen (about $1.20) or so upgrade, and it was indeed heavy on the pumpkin. It was ten layers of thinly sliced kabocha pumpkin with the green skin on the outside, fried and hot. 

I knew it was too much pumpkin so I began to pull some out so I could appreciate the teeny tiny burger meat below. This was a difficult task as the pumpkin slices were covered in chopped iceberg lettuce, falling in all directions, and the pumpkin was assembled in a doughnut pattern with a hole in the middle where they squirted the bland, not so flavorful mayonnaise dressing with what I assumed were little black pepper specs mixed in with the slippy, oozing, messy white sauce. So after reassembling my bun, a typical yellowish sesame seed covered BK bun, I bit into it. I made sure to get the burger, the fatty strip of thin somewhat crispy, somewhat soft bacon, the pumpkin, the mayo, and the lettuce all in one bite. The burger tasted like a normal BK flavor, kind of dry, the lettuce was average chopped iceberg, the mayo was relatively flavorless, and the pumpkin was on the sweet side, as expected. Nobu had a bite as well and agreed that it wasn’t so yummy.

Even the salty little bacon strip couldn’t redeem the lack of flavor. However, we redeemed ourselves it with our Heinz ketchup packets (Pittsburgh represent!) and dipped it into the ketchup, a nice contrast to the sweet pumpkin. It gave it a tang, and made it taste much like sweet potato fries dipped in ketchup on a burger (reminiscent of Primanti Bros but with sweet fries and no slaw). Much better that way. Then we ate the remaining pumpkin slices on the side, still hot and soft, and dipped those in the leftover ketchup like french fries and they were much better that way as well. In the end, we decided it was bland and not very good, and that a more kicky sauce would’ve gone a long way in improving the burger. Our expectations were low going in, and they were met coming out.”

OH MY GOD PUMPKIN FRIES. This is amazing, and I wish I had been there. Until next time, Japan!