the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

Archive for the tag “review”

Aloha! from Hawaii…sort of…


Somewhere in this picture is a burger…nope, can't for the life of me see it...

Somewhere in this picture is a burger…nope, can’t for the life of me see it…

Another Auckland trip, so that can only mean one thing, sitting in shitty traffic always wary of a crowbar being pushed into your face by one of the nicer inhabitants of the city.

But it also means carb-loading, chaffing down sizeable portions of gristle, fat, oil, and synthetic flavors…of super-sized fizzy, and uncomfortable chairs seated behind tables too small to take a napkin.

Yep, I’m back home…

No sooner than I got off the plane I was at Carl’s Jnr’s new residence at the airport, and again I failed to order ala carté (if it can be called that) and ended up with yet another ‘limited edition’ offering; The Teriyaki Hawaiian Thick Combo. At nearly $14 it isn’t a cheap lunch, especially as a medium combo, compared to a more sedate (and sane) coffee and ham sandwich, but I have always maintained I don’t mind paying good money for good food, so would it hit the palate like it hit the wallet?

Again I was caught out by Carl’s point of difference in serving you at your table (if eating in obviously) and had to follow my ‘waitress’ around the restaurant for a couple of laps before we both clicked to the fact that me and that dinner tray she was carrying were destined for each other. Seated behind obese Customs officials might be an off-putting experience in a fast-food joint, but surprisingly it seems so normal that it’s the skinny people who stand out, and while I’m anything but, I can at least smile in the knowledge that my impact on the health service is pretty minimal compared to those I witnessed in both Carl’s and the newly opened KFC next door.

One of these things is not like the other…while ugly, like Janis Joplin, it still is bloody good...

One of these things is not like the other…while ugly, like Janis Joplin, it still is bloody good…

As the photo shows, the Hawaiian didn’t look remotely like its passport photo and while this riles me up something chronic it seems to dissipate once I start making my way through handfuls of fries and mouthfuls of processed meat…and this burger quickly made me forget all my ills.

In the next 2mins (or thereabouts) I chomped, swallowed, chewed, and burped my way through one of the most enjoyable delicacies I can remember in a burger joint, and that is no mean feat. Yes, it did seem odd that I was eating a ‘Hawaiian’ devoid of any ham or bacon, but the meat patty and sizable pineapple ring were as juicy as if they were picked, shot, and boned that morning. The buns were soft and fresh, the lettuce and accompanying veggies and sauce a subtle sideshow, as they should be. Pair that with the best damned fries on the market right now, washed down with an aromatic, full-bodied Coke and Raspberry, and Carl’s Jnr has nailed it, lock stock and two smoking barrels; there is a new king in town…now if only the TV people would pull their collective heads out of their arises and allow decent family viewing of hot chicks getting it on over a BBQ. It must be said however that no one in this joint closely resembled the chicks in the ad. Carl’s, either make the burgers look like the ads, or make the girls. Not too much to ask, is it?

While looking better than it's opposition's feeble attempt, it must be noted that I don't really have huge hands...

While looking better than it’s opposition’s feeble attempt, it must be noted that I don’t really have huge hands…

Later that week, at departures I was greeted with another Hawaiian; McDonald’s Hot Hawaiian, a play on one of the undisputed kings of the heart-attack in a box, the Quarter Pounder. Add in another pineapple ring, some hot spicy sauce coupled with its iconic slab of fatty meat, this could well be a true pretender to the feast enjoyed 48hrs earlier. OK, the intent was to sample something off the board at Carl’s, but a business meeting that (of course) turned to the subject of burgers went well over the allotted time and in a rush to get the rental car back and checked in meant that this had to be waylaid in preference to something closer at hand. While my ability to eat something in quick time (picture a spy in WWII swallowing a secret code crossed with the Cookie Monster in full flight) is not in question, the restaurant’s timing in getting it into my paws in good time was the risk not worth taking.

McD’s is pricey, especially for what you get, but buying this burger in a large combo came in nearly $3 cheaper than Carl’s, so could this prove to be the best bang for your buck…relatively speaking?

Yes, and no. McDonald’s have a real good burger in this however the hot sauce might not be to everyone’s tastes – and as a bloke who likes a sweaty ring piece as the result of herbs and spices this was definitely their hottest offering to date (read previous reviews) – history might show it to be a silent achieved destined to be swiped aside for some other crazy concoction designed as a futile attempt at making them look like a progressive provider. Yes, the burger is nice, fresh, juicy, and most importantly, tasty, though one always has a craving to fill a little more of a gap after eating there, no burger quite getting to a size where this bloke can feel sated…sort of like previous girlfriends have felt after the best four minutes of my life. Their fries, as more often than not were good, as they were fresh, something obvious to those of us who have been served old dry fires many a time before, but they are streets behind of Carl’s potatoes.

McD's are not known for their sexy ads...

McD’s are not known for their sexy ads…

Two chains, one well established, the other moving in on hallowed South Auckland ground. Two burgers, both good, very good in fact…and there can be only one winner. McDonald’s, you better seriously look at what you are giving us as Carl’s are going to king-hit you where it hurts you most. When I told people I had eaten at Carl’s, pretty much everyone gasped and said “Oh no, I wouldn’t eat there!”, yet in the same breath mentioned they had never actually eaten there…well, fellow diners, I suggest you make a break from your Big Macs, your Zinger burgers, and your sub-standard fries and visit what could well be a changing of the guard in the race to provide paid obesity…

 

 

 

Couldn't have said it better myself...

Couldn’t have said it better myself…

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Carb-loading with a side order of heart-attack…


Those that know me will attest to this statement; I would take the burger before Heidi. I know, I need help...

Those that know me will attest to this statement; I would take the burger before Heidi. I know, I need help…

Regular followers with nothing better in their lives to do will remember posts of past referring to the new up-start in the fast-food race here in New Zealand – Carl’s Jnr – when their ads were deemed irresponsible and degrading. Well, as one who finds it hard to let go of something, I will refer to that a little later on in this piece…

…so it was with saliva-dripping anticipation that I finally found myself with some time up my sleeve to sample their wares before flying back home, and I did so in the true heart of Auckland’s obesity population, Walking into the restaurant two things stood out; the cleanliness of the place, and how quiet it was. Sure, it was 2 in the afternoon, rather late for lunch, however if McDonald’s and KFC have shown me anything, fast food is a 24hr a day fix so Carl’s must be disappointed that their target demographic of he morbidly obese is falling short of the mark.

The young lady who greeted me and ultimately took my order was a pretty wee thing, however she never, ever, at any point, not in a million years, way off the mark, in fact the mark was but a blip on the distant horizon, look anything remotely close to the girls featured in the advert. She did however look considerably better looking, and in better condition than the majority of those, me included, eating there at that point. But then, that wouldn’t have been hard even for Roseanne Barr.

It seemed only fair that I wrap my laughing gear around the feature burger of the day, the Jim Beam ® Bourbon Burger, a montage of healthy greens and dairy produce slam dunked between patties, bacon, buns and a thick black sauce. Yep, looked like just the tonic to fix what ailed me. In a slip from my usual attention to detail, I fail to remember what the actual burger was called; there was a ‘single’ (yeah, right) and two other upsizes to the burger itself. It goes without saying that I risked life and limb to report to you effectively that I ordered the big bastard, of course, and also took a punt and went with the combo, a knowing nod from the girl telling me that there was no need to ask what size combo. I barely waited a nano-second before she pointed out that I was not required to stand there like a rabbit in the headlights as a number was thrust into my paw and was asked to sit down to wait for my meal to be brought to me…well buggar me! Not that I mind standing there checking out the hotties and judging the fatties, it was a somewhat surreal feeling being served hand and foot by someone who probably earns less than the cost of the burger each day…still, a nice touch Carl, don’t lose it. While on the staff, the other noticeable difference to everywhere was that the average weight of the staff looked to be well under my own weight. Whether this is company policy, or a lack of foresight on management (“never trust a skinny chef”) is not for me to speculate, but knowing that some lard-arsed, sweaty kid (think that Indian guy on the last Masterchef) is prepping my meal is not my ideal lead in to a feed.

The food was served to me by the same, smiling girl who took my order, her face not indicating what they had ‘done’ to my burger backstage, and as the picture shows the meal did look substantial. Shit, even the drink alone was a meal in itself, the only other instance (short of going to The States) I have had a non-alcoholic drink that size was the infamous ‘alfmeiseter vs. Wendy’s Quad’.

When compared to previously devoured burgers, this is The Mona Lisa....

When compared to previously devoured burgers, this is The Mona Lisa….

To the keen observer the fries look interesting and immediately got my attention. Just like my dad used to make (“all the goodness is in the skin, son”) I couldn’t help but be drawn to them and I cannot remember a time where I had eaten anything before properly ‘laying everything out’ to savour before eating. More in a sec…

Opening the box, which was big enough to bury a dwarf in, the burger, while not touching the sides definitely was sizeable, however, like every other bastard food chain the harsh reality was very far removed from the theory. That said and done, as burgers go, it sort of looked like the ads, had the feel and weight of a quality burger, and showed no hint of off-color lettuce of soggy bun.

But, and many a woman is testament to this, what you see and what you expect can be entirely different things, and it was with hinge-attached jaw that folded back to take the first chomp into that Carl’s burger, with mixed results.

The burger is nice….not startling, not memorable as such, not inspiring, not ‘bring me more’, but good. The meat pattie was dry and tasteless with only the sauce providing any real indication that this was a meat burger. The buns were great, as were the obligatory fillings, but if one thing stood out, it was the layer of onion crisps piled on top. Now, if for nothing else you should try this burger. These are heaven-sent (and I’m an atheist), crunchy to the bite there can be nothing more satisfying to the palate than crispness, and as one chewed more and more, the burger became tasty, even fun to eat. Yep, first impressions last, but finer dissection lasts forever.

Alongside the burger sat those fries, beckoning me to relive my youth as dad used to deep fry skinned chips for dinner with homekill chops and sausages of every variety. There is a new king in town! I have never, and mean never, had better tasting fries than Carl’s. KFC, when they get it right (in the old days, when their salting was more than just a complimentary wave of the shaker) ruled, but Carl’s can make a living alone and have a determined following based on these fine morsels of taste. Get out there and order some…

It boggles the mind that I am still prepared to line my stomach with something that looks like an uncleaned 'gutted hedgehog'...still...

It boggles the mind that I am still prepared to line my stomach with something that looks like an uncleaned ‘gutted hedgehog’…still…

Carl’s will be a contender if the lazy and habitual are prepared to change. For the same money as McD’s and BK’s combos, and cheaper than KFC’s, Carl’s have the beginnings of making a real fist of the burger experience…however, one swallow does a blow job not make, or something to that effect, and in the interest of all that is fair and equal I will allow myself to be dragged, kicking and screaming back into a restaurant to try again…and again, and no doubt again and again.

Thanks Carl’s, it was a pleasure…until next time.

Book Review – Bullet Proof


By Matt Croucher, GC

Normally I wouldn’t read too many books like this, modern warfare doesn’t really excite me; it just doesn’t have the romanticism that WWII has. That is not taking anything away from our modern-day fighters and is not meant to show disrespect, but in today’s battlefields the technology available to take out a baddie gives it the feel of a video game. However the argument is that the baddies have that same technology.

A mate left me this book to read and I have to admit I enjoyed it. Following a young lad’s quest to become a Royal Marine Commando and training through to his postings in Iraq and Afghanistan this book does well to point out just how brutal and necessary the war on terror is. But for me the poignant moment comes from his return home, a supposed hero and his inability to cope with ‘normal’ life, and his despair that his own country was imploding internally as well (his fight with some youths, and then a cop will explain). He left the Marines only to find he missed the action and his mates and rejoined in the war against the Taliban, and if Iraq must have seemed a hell hole, this place is Satan’s own bathroom.

It finishes as it starts off; the incident and receipt of his George Cross for putting his own life at risk to save others, and his blase meeting with The Queen.

A good book, well told and written, if a little sporadic and peppered with slang and jargon.

Asterix & Obelix’s Birthday: The Golden Book


This one is an oddity. Written to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Asterix chronicles it is a succession of ‘short stories’, flashbacks, ‘what-ifs’ and other scenarios even I struggled with. Whether it is lost in translation, localised humour, or just the machinations of a man (Uderzo) still smarting at the critique of his previous book (The Falling Sky) it was lost on me in part, but also some very clever humour in others.

It starts interestingly with the village about 50 years after the time all other books are set, so everyone looks older except for Geriatrix. Then we jump back to the present (of you can call it that) and as Asterix and Obelix head out to hunt boar the village plans something special for their birthdays – both share a birthday, however those who follow the series will note that there was some confusion over this in a previous album.

Characters from previous stories are welcomed in as well and share stories and ideas of old including a play, statues, and of course, the women (including their mothers) marriage.

It all gets confusing somewhat, but as I said, there are some very clever moments with reference to modern-day pop culture mixed with older Asterix stories.

Friday Drinks – Harrington’s Anvil


Please excuse me on this one, as we shut down the printing press to bring you this breaking story as a last-minute change to the normal schedule. And there is not much to say about it…why? I can’t bloody remember.

And that is why you must get out and buy this beer; the latest bolter from the Harrington’s stable.

My bestie was down from Hamilton (although we don’t admit that in public) and thankfully he had read my last review and took heed of the warning. So on the way home we stopped in at Harrington’s, well-known to Dazza, and he bought a dozen Rogue Hop (up until this fateful night, my favourite amber liquid from this locality). The man who served us, an ex-merchantman who I have spoken to on previous times of custom recommended we try this newbie which was on tap, not yet in bottle form. It was appropriately named Anvil, as in it felt like you had been hit between the eyes with one after drinking it!

On the Richter-Scale for beer I vaguely remember him saying 6 point something, as my senses were suddenly awash by a taste more hoppy than a Bugs Bunny omnibus, and the smile never left my face for the rest of the night. Me and Dazza unfortunately only had the foresight to buy one pub-pet of this Belfast Gold, and I can safely say that he would not mind me telling that when he caught his flight back the following evening, he still wasn’t really feeling okely-dokely.

Don’t know the price, don’t know the percentage, don’t know anything else…all I know is that this is a stunner that cannot be ignored. BUY LOCAL CHCH!! You won’t be disappointed!

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