Burger 90 Day 84: Vic's Desert Diner, Sous Vide Burger

There is a claim of Southern Hospitality. That the southern states have the market cornered on friendliness while the rest of the country remains cold, isolated, and indifferent. I used to agree with this observation. Until I spent some time in Oregon.

Oregonians are nice folk. Sure. But where they differ from The South is in sincerity. A southern gentleman might ask how you’re doing, even open his door to the unfortunate stranger. But always under the forced smile of some temporary obligation. Up here a random acquaintance could ask “how’s it going” and genuinely want to know. They’ll drop what they’re doing. Go buy you a coffee and sit down and really get to understand “how it’s going.”

It can be daunting at first.  When I announced my 100 Burger quest I did so expecting to be in a vacuum. To maybe get the occasional “that’s neat.” Instead I received endless support. Genuine interest and a strong desire to help out in any way they could. Recommendations flooded in. Advice, tactics, connections. Brave burger companions to the farther corners. Vegetarians bending their rules to accompany me on my diet restrictions. And more than a few offering me shelter from the endless stream of bars and burger shacks for a warm, home cooked burger.

But under my vague rules requiring a different venue each time I could only count one such dedicated burger. And while there were many lovely backyard BBQ’s and wonderfully crafted recipes, one stood out above all else and exemplified that Oregon over-the-top friendliness.

Victoria and Dave have “dinner in the woods” down to a smooth science The location is variable but generally off some dusty side shoot from China Hat Road. The best spots are nestled along the edge of trees above a barren ridge looking out towards the mountains and setting sun. I was given GPS coordinates and a time to be there. I wouldn’t miss it.

The back of Dave’s Land Cruiser rapidly deploys folding tables, chairs, stoves, fuel, coolers, and baskets of food. The kids have assigned tasks which rightly transform into disappearing to find trees to climb. Victoria has individually packaged patties tucked in a giant thermos where they’ve been finishing off their low temp sous vide cooking. The garlic and jalapeno stuffed patties are technically fully cooked, but not yet complete. A small wood fueled stove is heated up to a charring temp and each patty is briefly seared on a grill over the flames. Brioche buns have been toasting on a cast iron pan over a kerosene stove. Lettuce, tomato, condiments, cheese, bacon. All carefully measured and packaged and rapidly applied to the one-at-a-time burgers.

These fine folks have followed every burger on my journey, learning from my own experiences and bringing in their own style and skill to deploy a perfect burger out here on the fringe of civilization just 20 minutes from town. Not only a dedication to the burger itself but to the higher burger purpose. Combination of backyard BBQ, wandering adventure, unique gourmet style, brazen practicality. Basically having fun.

The slowing embers of the wood stove are used to seamlessly transfer to roasting smores, the sticky eating of which immediately prompts the setting sun and the rapid collapse of this mobile diner. Dusty tail lights find the paved road just as dusk completely disappears.

Thanks, Vic and Dave, for the most amazing gypsy burger experience I could ever hope to have.

Score: 4.5 of 5
Beer: Black Butte Anniversary XXVI

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