Some two years ago this blog’s hamburger expert, the Fat Man From Space, and I determined that the best burgers in these parts were:
1-Putt Putt at Main Beach. Yes, you read that right, Putt Putt! Try it. 2- T-Rays; 3- Salty Pelican; 4- Leddy’s Porch at the Florida House; 5- A tie with Halftime Sports Bar & Grill & Karibo.
With all the new eateries popping up, management changes and chefs moving around, it’s time to see what, if anything, has changed. But there’s a glitch. The Fat Man From Space is hanging it up. When I contacted this blog’s galactic gourmet to see if he was ready to beam down for another round of burger rankings he told me that he’s had enough and is moving to a galaxy far, far away.
Here’s what he told me:
“I’ll have to take a pass, Dave. And after all, much like Puerto Rico’s Menudo, the role of Official Unofficial Amelia Island Burger Judge is an enduring position handed down from person to person over the years going back to the time of the Spanish, when Pedro Menendez de Aviles declared the island’s very first burger to be “bueno, pero no mi favorito.” I was but a caretaker of this grand office for a brief moment in the sun, and now it’s time for new blood. We oldsters must step aside at some point and let youth’s abandon blaze new trails. Who knows where they will take us? Or what the burgers will be like there. I’ll be retiring down to Burger Raton, as one does, where shuffleboard and gummable beef sliders await me. But I hope history will remember me as an objective burger judge who put a little snap in each review. Today-ay… I consider myself-elf… the luckiest Official Unofficial Amelia Island Burger Judge emeritus-tus… on the face of the earth. That I might have been given a bad plate… but I’ve got an awful lot to lick for.”
My very best,
His is a huge spacesuit to fill. But fill it I must as readers are asking: “Dave, where’s the best hamburger on Amelia Island?”
I need a replacement Fat Man From Space (FMFS) burger reviewer.
The successor to the original FMFS will bask in anonymity with the same self-satisfaction as the original. When I suggested we reveal his identity before leaving he offered these parting words of wisdom:
“Let’s please leave me anonymous and let me fade into legend. Between you and me, I am not interesting enough to compete with local characters and fixtures such as Pajama Dave, Felix, Bartender Mayor, and Fresh Shrimp Guy, so I have to make best use of the only thing I’ve got going for me, which is the aura of anonymous mystery. Years from now as people finish telling stories about my adventures to their grandchildren, their grandchildren will ask, “But Papa, who was he?” And Papa will answer, “No one knows, child. No one knows.” And it will give those children a warm thrill and send their minds on flights of imagination. I’m doing this for the kids, Dave. For the kids. Please understand what I’m trying to build here. It’s bigger than us both.
The mystique surrounding the office will help you in your recruitment of my replacement. You will be temporary custodian of the legendary office and speak in tones of whispered wonder about that great honor. They’ll be beating down your door to don the storied mask and become the next Official Unofficial Amelia Island Burger Judge. Tom Sawyer will look on jealously from his half-whitewashed fence at the line forming outside your door. Play your cards right and you can be a part of history.”
I can’t add anything to those incredible sentiments. I write this as I wipe tears from my eyes as I take the responsibility of perpetuating and preserving the Fat Man’s legacy very seriously.
So, I’m seeking a replacement. There are standards and criteria to be met. The Fat Man raised the bar high.
This island is chock-a-block full of talented writers ranging from former Newsweek, New York Daily News and Esquire Editor Ed Kosner to novelists John Grisham and David Baldacci, among others. Do you aspire to those lofty heights? Here’s your chance.
The successful applicant must be able to write a simple declarative sentence at the reading level of a cell phone distracted middle schooler. It should be clever and attention grabbing enough to cause them to actually put the stupid phone down and think: “Ummmmm, that’s interesting.”
The only person to know your identity will me. And I will fiercely protect your anonymity like Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth does Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) with dignity and absolute secrecy. If you have a big ego this is not the job for you. Your name will not be on the door and you will not wear a name badge. You will munch burgers in obscurity like Clark Kent, Billy Batson, and Peter Parker. But fame isn’t your goal, seeking hamburger perfection is! If your identity became known then the results might be skewed. Burger joint management might be tempted to provide you celebrity treatment, offering perks not available to our hamburger-hungry audience of diners. We can’t have that. I will assist you by suggesting burger venues, collaborating, editing your copy and occasionally contributing a review.
So what are the benefits other than providing island residents, visitors, and future generations with invaluable burger knowledge? They are meager. In fact they are nonexistent. There is no pay. And there are no benefits other than self-satisfaction. Oh, did I mention that you will pay for your own burgers? You will not be reimbursed. If you want to write it off on your income tax forms, that’s between you and the IRS. Don’t get me involved. I’ll be like Mission Impossible’s Jim Phelps and disavow all knowledge of your activity. Like the original Fat Man says: “You’ll be doing it for the kids.”
Another thing. There are some ground rules. You have to have a solid understanding of what a hamburger is and is not. First, hamburgers are round and made of beef. A vegetable burger is NOT a hamburger. It is a bunch of mashed up beans that are not edible. A Portobello mushroom stuffed into a hamburger bun is NOT a hamburger. It is a toadstool sandwich. Do not eat one of those, ever. You must never write about tofu unless you are making fun of it and mocking the people with sunken cheeks and dark circles under their eyes who tell you it’s good for you.
Hamburger buns are also round and some have seeds on top. Hamburgers do NOT come in taco shells, or wrapped up inside a corn or flour tortilla. If you find a proper hamburger in a Mexican joint write about it. But it better not be red, green or orange and it has to come in a hamburger bun. Hamburgers do not come in ciabata rolls, dinner buns, croissants, bagets or any other sissy bread. No sireee Bob. They are served in a round hamburger bun, none of this artisan bread crap. And don’t even think about putting one on a bun made with cricket flour or getting that stuff anywhere near a burger or anything else you’re thinking of putting in your mouth. Good grief!
Normal people do not put mushrooms on a hamburger. They also do not put eggs on them. Toadstools and breakfast food are not compatible with a hamburger. There is no guacamole, truffled arugula, garlic aioli, or other such nonsense on a proper hamburger. Cheese, pickles, raw onions, jalapeno slices, tomatoes, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard are all OK. So is lettuce, but I don’t know why, since it has no taste and adds nothing to a burger except making the other stuff slide out the other side when you bite into it. Chili, A-1 sauce and Texas style barbeque sauce will squeak by too. If you find any of this confusing you need not apply.
Traditionally burgers come with fries, cole slaw, kosher pickle spears, potato salad or pinto or kidney beans on the side. They should be mentioned along with the price. Grits do NOT accompany a hamburger ever, I don’t care how deep the part of the south is that you come from. At one time a local downtown eatery was offering a burger for $15 that sat on a big plate all by itself without even a sprig of parsley as a side. That’s a lot of money for a lonely burger. So, yes, price is a factor. For one of the best Fat Man reviews of pricey burgers read about his Ritz Carlton visit at Ritz-Carlton’s “Sports Bar” Prices & Vibes “Out Of This World” Says Fat Man From Space. For other reviews by the Fat Man go to Amelia Island’s Best Burger Verdict Ain’t Final Until The Fat Man From Space Says It Is. You will see that his is a large stretch spacesuit to fill.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article burgers are sold at an average price of nearly 400% higher than the cost of their ingredients. Misguided politicians pushing minimum wage increases are causing prices to increase as well as forcing restaurants to cut staff. Nationwide, the average restaurant price of a burger is $9.00 says the WSJ. If prices keep going up burger lovers will soon be telling restaurateurs:”I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” the plea Popeye’s pal Wimpy memorialized.
So if you think you’ve got what it takes let me know. Send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact information, telling me why you think you’re qualified and we’ll talk. Put “Fat Man” in the subject line. Maybe we’ll go out for a burger and beer to get you started. Who knows, we may have the first Fat Gal From Space burger reviewer. But hurry, there’s lots of work to be done.
(Editor’s note: “Fat Men From Space” is a children’s book by Daniel Pinkwater about a group of aliens who attack Earth and eat up the planet’s supply of junk food, leaving only healthy stuff behind, a book that prior to meeting my alien pal, I’d never heard of but have since purchased for grandson, Luke.)
What Might Have Been: President Trump’s recent comments on how Andrew Jackson may have prevented the Civil War reminds me of a quote about Jackson I read a few years ago in a book whose title I have since forgotten.
President Trump indicated that if Jackson had been alive and in charge in the late 1850s or early 1860s his aggressive and forceful character, opinions and past policies may have combined to prevent the outbreak of war.
In 1832 when confronted by his soon-to-resign Vice President John C. Calhoun, who said that South Carolina would disobey a federally directed tariff, Jackson responded saying he would personally lead troops into South Carolina, and that he would hang anyone who opposed him on this issue including Calhoun. This encouraged a South Carolina politician to observe: “When Andrew Jackson starts talking about hanging folks, it’s time to invest in rope.”
South Carolina backed down and Jackson later said that one his regrets in life was not hanging Calhoun.
A Gal Named Gal: The new film Wonder Woman features an Israeli actress named Gal Gadot (32) in the leading role and it appears she was a good choice to play the part of a super power hero since she comes close to that in real life. The married mother of two served two years as an enlisted soldier in the Israeli military where she served as a combat trainer. She practices martial arts, played basketball in high school, rides a motorcycle, and competed in the 2004 Miss Universe Pageant as Miss Israel. Her maternal grandparents are Holocaust survivors and the loony tunes that run Lebanon have already banned the film because Ms. Gadot is an Israeli. That alone makes me want to go see it despite the fact I rarely attend a movie.
Dumb & Dumber Department: Everything the left tries makes it look dumb and dumber from the fake severed head of Donald Trump that loopy Kathy Griffith dragged around; whacko speeches by nutty California Congresswoman Maxine Waters; unhinged racist tirades by convicted former Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown; island tipping testimony by Democrat Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson; stupid anti-American sanctuary city proclamations by New York’ s leftist Mayor Bill de Blasio among other Democrat mayors; sexting teenage girls by pervert Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner; anything California Governor Jerry Brown says; Nancy Pelosi not understanding that natural gas is a fossil fuel; and thousands of confused leftist crones wearing hats evoking female genitalia, shouting obscenities and marching around aimlessly and outraged like bussed-in inmates enjoying an outing from their asylum, are just a tiny sampling. Having that unhinged political Sasquatch wandering out of the swamp occasionally to insist that she actually won the election or that if she really lost it was somebody else’s fault, reinforces the fact that these people are dimmer than a one watt bulb. This is a party of misfits — a collection of insecure, unhappy, neurotic, freakish, confused, antisocial, paranoid, perverted, mentally ill, godless, lost souls and idolaters of bureaucracy. What’s even more frightening is that there are folks that believe in their silliness and support these nincompoops. Other than West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, is there a sane Democrat office holder out there?
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: As of this writing local piano man John Springer is retuning to where he started almost 30 years ago with his debut at the new 801 Kitchen & Bar (corner of Beech St. and South 8th Street) next Thursday, June 15 beginning at 7 p.m. John performed there starting in 1990 when it was the Beech Street Bar & Grill, left for the Centre Street Court Yard that eventually morphed into the Alley Cat, when the Beech Street eatery closed in 2011, and is now returning, bringing the original baby grand piano that he used all those years with him. He will be doing his “If I were to play” piano and vocals routine there possibly every Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7-10 p.m. in the downstairs bar area situated in the bay window. Go there, you’ll love it! Call ’em at 904/ 775-5909. Rumors are bouncing around that former Alley Cat owner Janet Vining is planning a new tavern on or near Centre Street, and will plant former Alley Cat bartender Taylor Gammage behind the bar, but I have no verification of any of that. If you’re looking for a cozy spot to have a beer or glass of wine, listen to music and meet good people, then head for PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden at 12 South 2nd Street any Tuesday beginning at 7 p.m. when Dan Voll strums his guitar and sings to a friendly audience that will more than likely consist of a couple of folks you know. As I was writing the hamburger material above, I got a strong urge to head to Putt Putt and get a burger, which I did and I wasn’t disappointed. For $6.96 (including tax) I got a six-ounce, 100 % Angus beef, Beach Bum Cheeseburger with Cheddar, onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce, mayo, and mustard on a proper hamburger bun that in my opinion is still one of the best burgers on the island. Let’s see if the new FMFS can find one better or concur. If you want to eat at Putt Putt there are six tables with seating for about 21 folks, all outside. These burgers are not frozen and take 10 minutes or longer to prepare depending on how busy they are so phone ’em at 904/261-4443 for a call in order to take out or ahead to eat there if you’re bringing a crowd.