See, I do this bit on my podcast from time-to-time called Mark Tastes Random Things. I'll grab some food item that's caught my eye (90% of the time it's whatever promotional item a fast food restaurant currently has), eat it live on my podcast and offer my thoughts. I hate doing it, mainly because I don't know how to fill the dead air while I chew. I should find a good music bed for it so the music fills the dead air. But my best friend loves the bit. I joked on my podcast where I speculate as to why he loved it. About 10 or 15 years ago, he developed a strong activist streak, and as part of that, he swore off all fast food, declaring the fast food corporations to be among the most evil of the evil corporations. It was nothing but all organic, locally sourced, Mom & Pop sandwich shops for him! I, however, developed no such convictions. So I think he enjoys Mark Tastes Random Things so he can vicariously enjoy fast food through me.
Anyway. The last time I did Mark Tastes Random Things, I did the McLobster. And I had to tell him that, yes, I tried all of McDonald's Tastes of Canada. He then asked if I could give a rundown on all of them and my thoughts. He then said that such a thing might be more appropriate as a blog entry. So, here we are.
For those who, like my best friend, have cut the cord and don't watch TV anymore, in the month of June, McDonald's was running a promotion called The Great Canadian Taste Adventure, Each week, they had another burger representing a region of Canada, trying to reflect the regional tastes. They also had a few side dishes and deserts that were available for the whole month. And yes, I sampled them all. So here's my thoughts on The Great Canadian Taste Adventure, from the worst to the best.
#5: Representing Ontario, the Cottage Country Chicken Sandwich
This chicken sandwich was topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a special sauce designed to "invoke the flavours of Ontario cottage country." I was unimpressed. Pretty much just a McChicken with a zestier sauce. And, as my Ontarian co-worker told me, "When we're at the cottage, we're not having chicken. We're firing up the grill and having steak." Easily the least.
#4: Representing Western Canada, the Western BBQ Burger
This cheeseburger was topped with onions and BBQ sauce. Good lord, the onions. Two different kinds: grilled onions and deep fried onions. Fast food really has discovered the deep fried onion, as they seem to be an a lot of burgers these days. Too much onion for my tastes. It reminded me of A&W's short-lived Grandma Burger, as that was another one that had a lot of onions it. That aforementioned Ontario co-worker had one with no onions, and said it was much better.
#3: Representing Quebec, Maple Bacon Poutine
Poutine is still a relatively new addition to McDonald's regular menu. For this promotion, they just took the poutine and tossed on a handful of bacon bits with a drizzle of some kind of maple flavoured BBQ sauce. The sauce kind of gets drowned out by the gravy, but the bacon is a nice touch.
#2: Representing the Atlantic provinces, the McLobster.
If the Internet is to be believed, Western Canada went absolutley nuts for this. This seasonal item, typically only available in the Maritimes, was made available all across Canada for the first time. I've got a colleague who's a Maritimer telling me that she and her friends always mocked people who had the McLobster, dismissing it as pure tourist garbage. When I ate this on my podcast, I noticed that you never realize how much of McDonald's unique flavour comes from their buns. I opened up the box, and even though this was a cold sandwich, it smelled just like a McDonald's burger. I took a bite, and right away, it tasted like imitation crab meat. If you've ever had the Seafood Sensation Sub at Subway, it tasted pretty much just like that. And I must say, I got lucky with the amount of lobster salad they scooped on their. My Maritimer friend, curious by the hype, had her first one, and she easily got 1/2, maybe 1/3, of the lobster stuff that was scooped on mine.
#1: Representing the West Coast, the Chocolate Nanaimo Sunday
It's just a McDonald's Chocolate Sunday, but I don't know what kind of magic cookie crumbs they sprinkled on top, but they tasted just like nanaimo bars. And nanaimo bars and ice cream make a good combination. The only way I can think about making it better would be if McDonald's did a nanaimo bar McFlurry. This was just so good.
And that was my trip across Canada, from the comfort of my local McDonald's. I hope McDonald's does this again, and make it the tastes of the world. I'd just like to have a Teriyaki McBurger again someday.