Thursday, January 08, 2009

Move Over, Ralph Lauren, The Burger King’s In Town

When I was a young boy, a neighbor asked if Santa was going to bring me everything on my Christmas wish list. I told her, “Yes.”

My mother jumped in and said, “Don’t be so sure, Robert. You know Santa keeps a naughty and nice list.”

To which I replied, “Well, I acted worse than this last year and still got everything I wanted.”

In 2008 I received everything I wanted for Christmas except a bottle of Burger King's meat-scented cologne, Flame.

I was hoping there would be a bottle of Flame in my stocking Christmas morning, but I must have been on the naughty list. That’s right, Burger King, the fast-food giant, has gotten into the fragrance business.

Flame, Burger King’s cologne for men, was released this fall and carries the tagline: "The scent of seduction with the hint of flame-broiled meat." It’s the truth, it’s actual, Burger King makes cologne. I am not joking. We have now reached a point in this Fast Food Nation where we are purchasing toiletries with a side of fries and an apple pie.

Who was the food-service executive that thought this would be a good idea? I haven’t visited a Burger King restaurant in a long time, but I wonder if they have gone the department store route and started posting a nicely dressed young woman at the end of the order counter with a tester bottle, “Double Whopper, hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, and would you like to try our new meat-scented cologne?”

“No thank you. I think I’ll just order some meat-scented meat, and eat it between two pieces of bread with mustard.”

I am not a cologne wearer. I mostly smell like soap. I have reached a point in my life where I don’t even need to purchase shampoo. Soap and a washcloth work just fine on both my hair and body. But if I did wear cologne, I wouldn’t wear one that smelled like meat, or fish, or any food product. I’d say, “Give me some of whatever Brad Pitt is wearing. That seems to work pretty well for him.”

What kind of woman is attracted to the smell of charred meat? I like beef. I eat a lot of it. A medium-rare prime, New York Strip is one of the greatest culinary joys in my life. Though I’m afraid that if I sprayed some of Burger King's cologne on me, I'd have Rottweilers chasing me down the street thinking I was an over-sized T-bone.

What's next? Underarm deodorant that smells like a fish sandwich? Mountain Dew-flavored mouthwash? Maybe other fast-food restaurants will get in on the act. Will we see Big Mac special-sauce shampoo?

Actually, if this marketing gimmick works, maybe I can pick a few items off of my menu for sale as personal grooming products. How about a Corn and Crab Bisque-scented cologne, or speckled trout after shave?

Will Burger King now get into the clothing business? Will cardboard crowns, polyester pants, and plastic name tags be the new black, or the new pink, or the new whatever is new?

For the purposes of this column, I went to the pharmacy next door to my office to see if I could purchase a bottle of Flame cologne. I wanted to give it a field test. I would spray some on, walk around my restaurant, and see if the ladies treated me differently. Unfortunately, my pharmacy only carries English Leather and Old Spice, so I’ll never know if the women of the world would have viewed me as the standard bearer of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat, or just another item on the lunch menu— hold the onions.

Mushroom-Swiss Burgers with Dijon-Horseradish Sauce

3 pounds Lean Ground Beef
1 Tbl Steak Seasoning
2 Tbl Unsalted butter
3 cups Sliced mushrooms
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
6 1-oz Slices Swiss Cheese
6 Hamburger Buns
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
1 1/2 cup Fresh Spinach Leaves
6 Red Onion Slices
1 Recipe Dijon Horseradish Sauce

Divide the ground beef into six equal parts and form burger patties, approximately 1-1/2” thick.

Prepare the grill: Sprinkle the surface of the burgers with the steak seasoning. Cook over direct high heat for 8-10 minutes.

While the burgers are cooking:
Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Place mushrooms, salt, and pepper in the hot butter and sauté mushrooms for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain excess liquid.

While they are still on the grill, top each burger with one slice of each cheese. Divide the mushrooms evenly and place them atop the cheese. Close the lid on the grill and cook just until the cheese melts.

Brush the hamburger buns with the melted butted and toast on the grill over medium direct heat for 2-3 minutes.

Spread the Dijon mustard sauce on both sides of the bun. Place a burger on each bun and top with the fresh spinach leaves and red onions.

Yield: 6 Hamburgers

Dijon Horseradish Sauce

2 TBL Yellow mustard
1 /4 cup Prepared horseradish
3/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Honey
2 Tbl Bourbon
1 Tbl Ketchup
1 Tbl Red wine vinegar
1 Tbl Parsley, chopped
1 tsp Fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp Black pepper, freshly ground

Mix together all ingredients. For the best flavor, prepare and refrigerate the sauce a day in advance. Allow the sauce to reach room temperature before serving.

Yield: 1 1 /2 cups

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