PC Black Label Wagyu Beef Burgers

Let’s leave the “Wagyu” debate until the end of this post, are these burgers actually good? President’s Choice Black Label series is the best of the best that PC offers, here’s how they describe it on the PC website “The President’s Choice® black label Collection brings an exceptional array of fine foods and flavours from around the world and here at home, to the grocery store. All with the value and convenience you expect from the PC® brand. Not only are they an extraordinary selection, they’re the very best we’ve ever tasted”. Ok, but what does that actually mean?

Box

The packaging is minimalist and “Wagyu” punches you in the face with its bold, gigantic redness. The stately fellow pictured with the large knife cutting into a gorgeous slab of marbled beef looks promising. Then you notice the little round meat puck to his left, almost as if they don’t want you to see it?

Frozen

The frozen burgers look like pretty much every other frozen burger I’ve ever seen, complete with assembly line dimples. They’re slightly thicker than a typical frozen burger, I’d say roughly 5/8ths of an inch. They are uncooked and the box recommends to cook them from frozen for 5-6 minutes per side over medium heat on a BBQ or in a frying pan.

Cooked

Once cooked the burgers take on a slightly reddish orange colour with lots of fat trying to escape through the middle. The high fat content of the beef (typical for “Wagyu”) and the fact that the second ingredient is water means lots of big flare ups on the grill. So much so that I slightly over toasted my burger buns. Keep an eye on these things while cooking.

Patty

The cooked patty ends up with a crusty outer layer and the colour changes to a more consistent brown after resting. The burger is very moist, has good flavour, and a nice firm texture. The flavour is similar to lots of other frozen burgers as is the texture. It loses very little size and retains its shape which is not typical of other frozen burgers.

Burger

I ate some of one patty on its own and had another on a PC Blue Menu Thins – Multigrain Round bun which are really quite good. Notice the flare-up induced charring around the edges of the bun. I kept it simple with some romaine lettuce and Stonewall Kitchen Smoky BBQ Aioli (you can find it at Fresh Street Farms and it’s amazing). As a complete burger it was very tasty. Now, let’s ask some questions. These burgers cost almost $11 for 4 five ounce patties. That’s $2.75 per patty. I can make a damn good burger myself for that kind of money.

The big issue I have with these burgers is the word “Wagyu”. Once synonymous with beef raised only in Japan the word itself means “Japanese cow’. PC uses the word “Kobe” in the description of these burgers on their website, “From the Kobe beef family, Wagyu beef is loaded with sweet, rich buttery flavour from omega-3 rich marbling, making it one of the most succulent meats in the world”. This is a blatant lie. Kobe beef is specifically Tajima-gyu cattle raised in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan. Everything else is a fabrication. There is VERY little Kobe beef exported to Canada and no one in their right minds is going to grind it up and freeze it.

There are farms in Canada, Australia, and the United States raising “Waygu” beef that has bloodlines traceable to Tajima-gyu cattle in Japan. There are other farms with cattle that have bloodlines traceable back to other strains of Japanese cattle. These farms use the “Wagyu” tag in a dishonest way to charge more for their product. I’m not saying their beef is substandard, in most cases it is VERY high quality, but it is not real Waygu and is most definitely not Kobe.

I contacted PC through Twitter to try and see where their Waygu was from and here’s their answer.

Let’s talk about DNA profiling. If I descended from Napoleon Bonaparte and this was traceable by 3rd party DNA profiling would that mean I am a tiny French dictator?. No, it would not. Was Michael Jordan’s father the best basket ball player of his generation? Not that I’m aware of. Genetics play a part in the make up of of certain breeds of animal and specific traits that these animals carry from generation to generation but there’s more to Wagyu than DNA. The environment, the feed, the treatment the animals receive, it all contributes to the finished product.

I asked them to, at the very least, tell me what country the cattle are from and they did not reply until the following day. I called the PC customer service number and was told that they couldn’t access this information. There is a small Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) logo on the box but that just means it was inspected and meets Canadian standards. Why the mystery PC? When they finally got back to me this is what I was told.

The Australian Wagyu Association is a promotional group whose singular purpose is to extol the virtues of Australian “Wagyu” all over the globe. The best part of their website is their disclaimer, “Information contained on the Australian Wagyu Association (AWA) web database, including but not limited to pedigree, DNA information, GeneProb values, Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and Selection Index values, is based on data supplied by members and/or third parties. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of this information, the AWA and the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI), their officers and employees, make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy of completeness of the information. AWA disclaims all liability for all claims, expenses, losses, damages and costs any person may incur as a result of the information contained on the AWA web database, for any reason, being inaccurate, or incomplete in any way or incapable or achieving any purposes”. So basically the farmers can claim whatever they want and the AWA will promote them! What a joke. Similar disclaimers adorn the Canadian and American “Wagyu” Association websites.

Here’s my conclusion, these things are fake and a waste of money. Grinding up real Japanese Wagyu is the dumbest thing anyone could do with such a fine grade of beef. Go to a butcher shop or a grocery store with a REAL BUTCHER and get them to grind you up some nice chuck or even sirloin, you can make way better burgers yourself for less money and it’s great to know what’s actually in them.

Scott.

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The Greater Vancouver Zoo

 

926451_465226180289535_1913073286_nHere’s the thing, I’d never visited the Greater Vancouver Zoo before this visit. It’s not that I avoided going for some big important reason, I just haven’t gone. When I was a kid I went to the zoo in Toronto which is an inner city type zoo with tiny enclosures made of concrete (or at least it was in the 80’s). I remember thinking it was pretty cool, I even got to ride a camel. Times have changed and the general consensus is that Zoos and Aquariums are bad. The Aquarium is a tough one, the monkeys and other animals in the Amazon area look pretty miserable in their tiny cages and the belugas, dolphins, and penguins shouldn’t be there either. Aside from that I’m cool with the aquarium and the work they do.

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The zoo is not the same at all. Most of the animals are not suited to our climate and giving them large areas to roam around doesn’t change that fact. When I say “large areas” I am being very generous. Most farm animals (except cage raised chickens and bubble raised veal…) have more land to call home than these animals. Then there are the Squirrel Monkeys seen above. They have a 20’x20′ cage (estimated) and a small hut for a bunch of them to call home. It’s a pretty sad scene.

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I made light of it on Instagram, giving all of these animals local sounding names and sarcastic back stories but the truth is it all made me very uncomfortable. To see Zebras, Giraffes, and Hippos confined by wire fences thousands of miles away from their natural environments is weird and feels wrong.

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Here’s some more pictures of sad animals in captivity.

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This peacock roams freely around the Zoo. He’s kind of a jerk about it.

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Scott.

Milltown Bar and Grill

Did you know that there’s a part of Richmond located in the middle of the Fraser River that you can only access from Marpole? There’s a tiny Island called Richmond Island located on Musqueam land that is part of a development called Milltown. There’s a new Bar and Grill at 9191 Bentley Street, which is the home of Milltown Marina. Milltown Bar and Grill is pretty damn cool.

Milltown Bar and Grill
Milltown Bar and Grill

Milltown sits just north of the Vancouver International Airport and has an incredible view of the north runway. More on that later. There’s a rotating craft beer tap, currently Hoyne Devil’s Dream IPA, and a small selection of craft bottles to keep my beer nerd pals happy. The Devil’s Dream was pouring beautifully and was the perfect companion to sunshine and plane watching on the south patio. There’s another patio on the north side that overlooks the marina, they’re both good choices if you like to sit outside.

Hoyne Devil's Dream IPA
Hoyne Devil’s Dream IPA

The menu is a classic west coast bar and grill line-up with all the usual suspects along with some non traditional items like Butter Bhicken, Halibut Tacos, and Salmon Wellington. I opted for the Freighter Burger, a house made all beef patty with Pale Ale BBQ sauce, bacon, and gouda plus the standard veg. The freighter is a solid buger, I’d order it again. The house made patty has nice tecture and is properly seasoned. The fries that came with it are battered, something I’m not super keen on but they were tasty none the less. I’d love to see in house hand cut fries with this burger!

Freighter Burger
Freighter Burger

Sitting on the north patio puts you up close with some pretty big planes landing at YVR from all around the world. The noise isn’t as loud as I thought it would be and watching planes land is pretty awesome, ya know? Here’s a couple of 747-400’s I managed to photograph.

Lufthansa 747-400
Lufthansa 747-400
British Airways 747-400
British Airways 747-400

Overall Milltown Bar and Grill is a great place to spend an afternoon. There’s tons of parking, good beer, tasty food, lots of action on the patio, and you can bring the whole family (something I did not know until after I got there…oops). Here’s a handy Google Earth shot to show you where they are, followed by all their pertinent links and so forth.

Map1

 

Twitter – Milltown_Bar

Instagram – milltown_bar

Facebook – Milltown Bar & Grill

Web – milltownbar.com

Scott.

 

WFLBC Building History – what we’ve seen so far.

For the last 2 weeks I’ve been exploring Vancouver’s buildings and trying to uncover some history about them. I’m really enjoying digging through the archives and learning about Vancouver’s history. Here’s a quick recap of the buildings I’ve looked at so far.  Click on the pictures for more info/history about the building and remember to click follow while you’re visiting my Instagram Page. Also you should check out the Vancouver Archives page, it’s a great place to lose an entire day looking at the past.

The Robert Lee YMCA and Patina.

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The Marine Building.

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The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

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Cathedral Place and the Georgia Medical Dental Building.

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The Dominion Building.

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Nelson Square.

Nelson Square

Scott.