Sunday, October 5, 2014

Olympus Burger revisited (Why do those Greeks grow those super hot peppers anyway?)

When in Port Hope, Ontario, I do what most others do -- lunch or dinner at Olympus Burger. According to Trip Advisor, it is the #1 restaurant in Port Hope (out of 51) and #5 in all Ontario for American Cuisine. Double OPA!

"Ares" Burger
Liked it a lot when I visited last May, and even more this time -- even though I yet again did not fully take up the Hercules Challenge. But at least I made progress...And I had one of the best burgers I have ever eaten: "Ares" (Peppercorn beef patty, crispy bacon, caramelized onion, sauteed mushrooms, Olympus BBQ Sauce, lettuce/tomato on a whole wheat bun). Just look at it!

Kallonakis Family
Olympus Burger is very welcoming, with front man George Kallonakis (a mover-and-shaker in the Port Hope restaurant community) as backed up by his parents Georgia and Manolis from Hirocambi, about 15 minutes south of Sparti...This time I met the parents. And I had barely sat down for lunch when Dad Kallonakis brought me a bag of tomatoes grown in his garden at the back of the restaurant, a very Greek thing to do. Then he proceeded to produce my burger and the amazing "Olympus Poutine" featuring Ivanhoe cheese curds, a very Canadian thing to eat.

The "Labour of Hercules" Challenge requires you to eat a 6 oz. beef patty, w/crispy bacon, lettuce/tomato, caramelized onions, jalapenos, habanero peppers, and secret Olympus Hot Sauce (also slathered on top of the bun!) -- in 15 minutes with one glass of water, after signing a waiver. It's followed-up w/a milkshake to cool off the stomach, if you get that far. So far 211 customers have tried and only 63 have succeeded (30%), including 6 of 9 women (66%). Survivors get a free t-shirt and serious bragging rights.

According to George, Mom Kallonakis likes spicy and pushing the limits of spicy. So they started growing Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers in their backyard, NOT a very Greek thing to grow. Scorpions were until recently the world's hottest peppers with a 1.2 -2 million Scoville heat unit score depending on the plant -- or at least 250 times hotter than the average jalapeno. Thus the Olympus Hot Sauce and the Hercules Challenge...and the rest is (not quite) ancient history.

Most of the burgers/sandwiches at Olympus burger are indeed Greek god themed -- with names like Athena (lamb patty), Hermes, Dionysus, Poseidon (salmon fillet), Artemis (chicken breast), and Hera (Portobello mushroom cap). Something for everybody and fabulous home-cut fries to boot.

One evening, I managed to eat a burger -- the "Achilles" from the Secret Menu -- slathered w/2 little cups of the Olympus Hot Sauce, one more than last time. My friend Greg managed only one cup, but that was his first try...Next time, who knows?