Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Our last post of 2008!
2008 was an interesting year for Gigi and those in her household, there have been a lot of changes. In the middle of all that I have written many reviews and shared a few warm and fuzzy moments with y'all. OK, I can't deal with the cheesy "let's all have a big group hug!" feeling that this post is giving off.
Let's just sum it up by saying I have eaten a lot of good things, I have eaten a lot of bad things- I have eaten somethings that were just sort of there- and I was lucky enough to get to share my twisted little thoughts and tastes with people from around the world (which is a pretty cool thing). I look forward to repeating the whole cycle all over again with you guys in 2009.
May your year be full of chocolate*
*And peace, love or whatever else you damn kids are into these days.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
New Yorkers are at least seemingly absolutely obsessed with Black & White cookies
They are everywhere here to the point you start ignoring them. I don't think they are bad, but I don't get whats so magical about them. In case you don't know what one is - They are a neutral cookie base- in the case of the Entenmann's it is a golden sponge cookie. The black & white part is icing and half if chocolate and the other half is vanilla.
Ok... after trying it I kind of see what the fuss is about. The cookie part is really good. It's like super soft yellow cake.
The vanilla side of the frosting does have a very subtle vanilla edge to it- mostly it is just sweet but not tooth ache sweet.
The chocolate side is stronger. It is like a super thin version of the frosting on any of the Entenmann's chocolate cakes.
This is not good folks... this is going to send me on a quest to see how this Black & White cookie stands up to other B&W cookies. Anyone out there have a favorite they would like to suggest?
Monday, December 29, 2008
I haven't had any Dagoba chocolate in a very long time...
Today at Zabars while looking through the display I was hoping to find the mint/rosemary bar and sadly came up flat- but they did have this Beaucoup Berries bar that sounded pretty interesting.
Beacoup Berries is a 74% dark chocolate bar with cranberries, cherries and vanilla.
Upon opening the bar smell wise all you get is the deep woodsy notes of the chocolate.
Dagoba bars are made up of fingers that are about the size and shape of mini Kit Kats. The chocolate is remarkably smooth and sweet for a 74% dark chocolate. It does have a biter finish but it is offset nicely by the bits of dried fruit. I know the bar claims to have cranberries but all I really taste is the cherries. The pieces are large and very plump. If there is vanilla in the bar they have also hidden it well- but maybe that is a good thing. If the vanilla is there it manages not to overly sweeten the bar or make it taste and smell like a candle.
It's pleasent enough bar. It's nothing I would go out of my way to have again- but if you are a fan of both dark chocolate and dried fruit this may be the bar for you.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
So here I am wandering around DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) airport trying to kill the next 3 hours...
I know I should eat but I am not filling well and the thought of typical greasy airport food makes me want to yark... again (Lupus is just SO much fun). I know, I know, I should have packed my own snacks but as of this writing (in the terminal at DFW) I have been up since 11:00 am Christmas morning and honestly in the last minute packing and craziness food was not even a thought. Anyway- I had to pass the food court on the way to my terminal and what caught my eye?- a cereal bar!!
We all know I am a cereal freak of Seinfeld proportions- and not only does Cereality have around 16 different cereal choices they also have mix in's AND multiple milk choices!- this is important to me as I have to use non-dairy milk.
Ok, I did spend about what I would have spent on a box of cereal at my regular old grocery store for a rather generous portion of Cinnamon Life and Oatmeal Squares topped with an obscene amount of Lucky Charms Marshmallows- but let me tell you I would rather do that then pay double the price for a chain burger and fries. Yes, btw they did have much healthier options then what I got, but really how many chances do you get to have marshmallows at the airport? (OK, worst excuse EVER!)
No, this is not really a review, but should you be traveling through DFW's American Airlines terminal C at any point in the Near future consider this a heads up to a really cool snacking option (or if you are near any of they're other locations)
Cerality Cereal Bar & Cafe DFW Airport Texas
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
And all through the house...
Gigi was running and being a grouch. OK, that doesn't really rhyme.
My apologises for the lack of updates these past few days. Between just getting ready for Christmas and getting things ready for my vacation- I have not been able to even try anything new! Things will be spotty for the next couple days but starting on Friday Gigi Reviews will be coming to you live from New York City! (sadly, I am not moving there...yet)
I have some interesting things planned for The City. I will be hitting up my favorite Pocky hot spots in China Town. I will be making my first visit to Economy Candy and I will even try to go to the Hershey's World in Time Square (I will NOT be doing this until after New Years)- I am after the Champagne flavored Kisses.
So any requests?, things you think I shouldn't miss?
biddness aside (I am watching "Gangland" on MSNBC right now)
I wish all of you a very merry christmas. May you spend it among the people you love.
Ho, Ho, Ho,
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I haven't been to an actual Marie Callender's restaurant in years but I do like they're frozen offerings.
The Fettuccini Alfredo has long been a favorite of mine. The sauce is thick and creamy. It's definitely on the basic side- don't be looking for complex flavors, multiple cheeses or pepper. But for comfort food it's pretty good.
The pasta is surprisingly al dente for frozen pasta. This version also comes with mixed veg- which translates into broccoli and carrots. The vegetables are well... frozen, not bad but nothing special. The garlic bread is just bad. The flavor is ok, it's buttery, it's garlicky. The microwave is just not it's friend. Some parts were rock hard, others were soggy.
A good meal for those times you just don't want to think about it.
Friday, December 19, 2008
The time for the Vienetta being reintroduced was kind of funny.
Back around what would have been my Grandmother's birthday (in September) I thought it might be interesting to get one in her honor- she loved them. Besides Spumoni the Vienetta cakes were the only ice cream I remember her ever buying for herself. It was around then that I realized the Vienetta was no longer on the market. Oddly enough that was also around when Unilever decided to bring the Vienetta back as a limited edition product.
The new version doesn't hold a candle to the old version. First the ice cream in the past was Brayers. The ice cream in this version may be made by Unilever but Brayer's it's not. It's more like the much cheaper, much more chemical laden Good Humor line. I seem to remember the old school version having wafer layers. The current version has thin layers of mockolate.
YES! to add insult to injury not only did they tarnish a cherished childhood memory, cheapened the ice cream THEN they went and put mockolate in it.
On top of that the entire thing doesn't even have any flavor. I know it's supposed to be triple chocolate, but there is barely one chocolate. If anything it's coffee flavored, in the sense that it's fake coffee flavor.
There is nothing good about this... no wait there is!- I never have to eat it again! Bah Humbug!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I am starting to think this week is all TJ's all the time!
My well known love of Abuelita so how could I resist these cookies?
Yeah, I think we all know I couldn't. And I am glad I didn't. Each cookie is a little bigger then the size of a quarter in diameter and about an inch or so thick. The cookies are generously powdered in cocoa powder and a spicy cinnamon. The cookie underneath is chocolate and it's semi-soft. Actually I think flaky is a better word. This cookie perfectly captures Mexican Hot Chocolate. Without a doubt this is an 11!
Get some- and pick me up another box while you are at it.
Ah quiche, the stuff that bad 80's stereotypes and mediocre brunch are made of
Sadly, TJ's version is in the mediocre brunch category. The crust (which is normally the best part of good quiche) the crust on the TJ's version is dry and bland. It's kind of like if someone had made crust out of Saltines- only less good.
The filling is eggy and salty. It reminded me of something that the airlines would have served back when they fed you (and didn't charge you to check your bags).
You can see the cheese but you can't really taste it. The broccoli pieces are teeny, tiny bits of stalk.
TJ's miss the mark on so few occasions that I am willing to forgive them for this (I am sure they will all sleep better tonight knowing that)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Alton Brown is a Geek God.
To put it further into geek terms, if Anthony Bourdain is the Capt. Kirk of the food world then Alton Brown is Mr. Spock (OK, to be picky Ambassador Spock)
Alton has all the passion that Tony has for food but he also has a very cool, scientific side that makes you not only understand how to make whatever it is your making but also why it turns out the way it does.
Much like everyone else, it seems this year I have many people I want to give gifts to for Christmas- I just don't have money for gifts. Everyone I know is doing cookies this year so I thought "why not do fudge?" everyone loves fudge. Having never made it before I was unsure where to start. I figured Alton wouldn't steer me wrong so I used his recipe- which you can try for yourself by clicking ME
Read through the recipe first, it's easy to follow. My advice in advance is if you don't have a candy thermometer on hand (and I didn't, I got mine for $2.00 at Walmart*) get one. I could see bad things happening to those that don't. For my chocolate I used Trader Joe's Non-Sweetened Baking Chocolate and had great results.
The fudge was the perfect texture. Firm yet soft. A slightly grainy texture. It melts in your mouth. It's cool on the tongue. There's just a touch of vanilla. I never thought I could make fudge this good but Alton made it possible. Well worth the effort and I think my friends are going to love it.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Back in March I discovered Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate (read all about it HERE
I am not sure how long the Abuelita syrup has been out- there was not much info on the Nestle site- but I saw it tonight when I went to restock my reserve of the powdered mix.
I have to take medicine before I go to sleep and every night I do that with a glass of Lactaid milk and some nights chocolate syrup has been known to make it's way into the glass. The Abulita syrup is made for (amongst other things) cold drinks!
When you open the bottle the first thing you smell is the cinnamon. Strong and spicy.
While the chocolate it clearly here it seems to be more subtle then it is in the hot version. At first it is almost disappointing- but the more you drink the more you notice the dark, cocoa notes. After a few sips you start to wonder why you thought the syrup was all cinnamon in the first place.
My normal chocolate syrup has some competition!
And here is the rest of it.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sometimes on a cold December night you want something to snuggle up with and keep you warm. Clive Owen would of course be my go-to for this, but he's unavailable. Something about a restraining order- I dunno...
Anyway, since Clive is MIA I had to find something else. Once again leave it to the good people at Vosges to come to my rescue.
I had on hand one of Vosges Red Fire bars. It's a dark chocolate bar with chipotle chillies and ceylon cinnamon. I had the smaller bar on hand- it's actually the perfect size for a testing bar or a single serving. It's thin and very glossy. There is a great snap to the bar.
The chocolate is a relatively mild 55% dark. I know this makes me a wimp but in my old age I seem to be preferring my dark chocolate around that rage. It's just sweet enough to take off the too biter edge and milky enough that it melts smoothly.
Between the cinnamon and the chillies the cinnamon is the stronger flavor. It's woodsy and has a spicy warmth. The chillies give the bar a subtle heat. You don't taste it so much as feel it. It's a nice heat going down your throat.
Vosges also makes a chip version of this chocolate and I would love to make a batch of cookies with them.
Sample From Company
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This shake won't be wining any beauty prizes. The best way to describe the look is to say that it looks like liquid cement...
But sometimes beauty is on the inside and that's the case with this shake.
It may not be pretty but it does taste good. It's thick with vanilla ice cream. The mint while clearly just a flavored syrup manages not to taste like mouth wash. The Oreo's are plentiful. This is the best shake I have had from Carls's!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
OMG I didn't know apple juice could be this good!
Imagine biting into a perfectly ripe, juicy apple. I am talking about the kind of apple that was used to tempt Snow White (or maybe that made the pie in "American Pie"). Now imagine that some really smart person made a juice with that apple.
It's the perfect apple juice. It's sweet, but it's not like a syrup type of sweet or a honey type of sweet. It has tartness to it. It's the kind of tart that comes from eating the peel of the apple. It has a velvety thick mouth feel- without being chunky (I cannot deal with chunky)
AND if all of that weren't good enough the company does something that I thought was pretty interesting. They do limited pressings of the juice. Be sure to visit Purity Organic website for far more information then I can give.
Track this down!!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Believe it or not I have made it to the ripe old age of thirty something having never tried Rocky Road ice cream.
I love chocolate, I love marshmallows and I like almonds. Here's the thing though, I tend not to like almonds and chocolate together and I really don't like nuts in my ice cream. Your probably wondering why at this point I am even trying this.
Good question. I have been making an effort to try things I have previously said I didn't like. I have to say that Haagen-Daazs isn't making it easy to still call nuts in ice cream "icky"
The base of the ice cream is classic Haagen-Daazs chocolate. It's got that strong cocoa base too it. The almonds were lightly salted, roasted and crunchy- if all the previous nuts I had had in ice creams past had been this good I would not have spent all these years avoiding them... well except walnuts. I HATE walnut.
The best part hands down is the marshmallow swirls. It's sweet. There's a touch of vanilla, it's a little sticky. From a texture stand point I think I would have loved it if they had used actual mini-marshmallows but I am not complaining.
I am definitely pointing this flavor into my rotation.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Grab yourself a dancing midget and a damn fine cup o' coffee and let's have some cherry pie
Once again showing my age here... As a kid I always wanted to try cherry pie. My parents in some sort of parental wisdom wouldn't let me have it. They decided that I wouldn't like it because it was sour, I think the truth was they didn't like it because it was sour and they decided I would feel the same. So my cherry pie lust went unfulfilled.
Cut to a few years later and as a teenager the show "Twin Peaks" premired. Yes, much like the rest of the country I was caught up in finding out who killed Laura Palmer (and in an embarresing moment of fandom somewhere I even have a copy of "The Secret Diary Of Laura Palmer") but one of the things that caught my eye besides a rather hot Kyle McLachlan was the pie. They ate pie every episode- always cherry. That was it I had to try some! And so I did... and then I remembered that I didn't really like pie and I promptly forgot about it for the next 10 years or so (ok, now I feel really old)
Since then I have decided that pie isn't so bad. And while my parent's my still prefer they're pies sweet I prefer tart. Cherry has become one of my favorites.
The Sara Lee cherry pie is one of the best easy options for pie.
The crust is light and flaky. There is just enough salt to keep it from being both too buttery and too bland.
The cherries are juicy and almost sour, I say almost because I would prefer they be a little less sweetned, but for mass produced filling it is close enough. I like it warm with vanilla ice cream (because ice cream makes everything better).
I wish I had time to bake my own pie from scratch but since I don't this will hit the spot.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I LOVE going to Claim Jumper for dinner. If you have one locally you should probably be there right now rather then sitting here reading my blog... no wait, read then go.
Sadly, I don't get to eat there nearly as much as I would like to- especially being on an extremely tight budget lately. But lucky for me they do have a line of frozen items that tend to be on the salty side but still pretty good.
That led me to try the spicy chicken tenders.
The tenders themselves are decently sized. Smaller then what you might get at the actual restaurant but about on par with fast food tenders. The batter is a light corn meal like breading. I am not sure what they decided made the tenders spicy- there does seem to be a little extra black pepper. I have chocolate in my stash that is spicier then these tenders. The flavors not bad, it's just not spicy.
The chicken is plump and the coating did get reasonably Crispy in the oven.
Are these as good as actually going to Claim Jumper... no, but for heat and eat they are decent.
These did come with a bar-b-que sauce but I couldn't bring myself to try it.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I remember the chocolate covered malt balls (Whoppers) of my youth being pretty darn good.
Somewhere in the midst of my getting old malt balls- specifically Whoppers stopped being good. I place the blame for this firmly on the inclusion of mockolate.
When I was doing some shopping at my local Brit store the sales lady told me these were her favorite- AND they still contain real milk chocolate so how could I resist?
First, a closer inspection once home of the label revealed that while the chocolate coating does include both cocoa butter and cocoa fat it also contains the evil hydrognated vegetable fat. UGH! WHY?!
Whining aside I will give it points for tasting more like 100% real milk chocolate then the coating on it's American cousin the Whopper (well maybe Step-Cousin would be a better comparison. While Hershey's makes Whoppers here, in the UK it is a Mars brand). It's cool on the tongue. It's waxy and doesn't so much melt as slouth off from the heat in your mouth. The coating it's self was just the right thickness.
What I really liked about the candy was the malt center. If our version of a Whoppers center is dense has more of a vanilla taste to it, these are light and airy. They melt in your mouth. If you have ever had a real malted shake or even just added malt powder to milk, that is exactly what the center tastes like. There's almost a honey taste to it.
I liked these enough to get them again!
THE BRITISH EMPORIUM Upland
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Cheesecake always makes me think of The Golden Girls
The Golden Girls were always eating cheesecake. For you young en's out there the Golden Girls were kind of like the Sex And The City girls, only maybe a year or two older. Anyway, see I caught a couple episodes at some ungodly hour of the night/morning when I should have been sleeping and since then I have been dying for cheesecake.
Cherry tops cheesecake. Lucky for me once again Sara Lee saves the day.
The Graham cracker crust chewy and has just the right amount if cinnamon.
The cheesecake it's self is creamy and sweet with just a little, tiny bit of tang.
The cherries were my favorite part. The are sort of like tart marschino cherries.
For ready-made cheesecake, this is pretty darn good!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Butterscotch. When I think about it the only thing that really comes to mind is pudding...
Butterscotch was (and probably still is) my Father's favorite type of pudding. And my mother only made it for him once in a very great while- and it was understood that on those occasions the pudding was solely his. I would love to tell you that it was because of all the effort and love she put into it, but it was J-ello brand- from the box. This was the early 80's, I dunno maybe making boxed pudding was more involved then it is today. Anyway, I think it was his mostly because he had three sugar crazed kids to deal with if he shared.
One time he did share. I remember it somewhat vividly. "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan" was making it's network TV sigh yes kids, I said network tv for these were the days before everyone had cable and while VCR's were certainly out there it was not unusual for movies to either be difficult to rent or astonishingly expensive to buy (we are talking about $99.00 a movie being the norm) anyway... we watched Star Trek that night and somewhere around Shatner screaming "KHAAAAAAAAAN!" my Father shared one of his puddings with me. To this day I am not a fan of butterscotch pudding (but I still love Star Trek- and my Father)
With that in mind I tend not to go out of my way looking for anything butterscotch flavored. What made me get this bar is the guy at the Dutch store said it was one of his favorites and shouldn't be missed.
The Verkade bar is a milk chocolate bar. The pieces are scored into thick little blocks. The chocolate it's self is sweet smelling but waxy. It does melt quickly but not it's not creamy. The bar is full of crunchy bits of sugar. While the texture is both sticky and crunchy (in the good ways) the sugar bits themselves don't seem to have any flavor whatsoever. Honestly, I couldn't taste any butterscotch or even any caramel like notes.
It's not a bad bar but minus the sugar crunchies there is not anything noteworthy here either.
The Dutch Bakery Ontario Cal
Visit they're website!: Dutch Variety Foods
Friday, December 5, 2008
Another bar from Jim's side of the pond
I have actually had this bar before but at the time I didn't review it (what? there was ever a time I ate something and didn't review it?) but since they had them at the local Brit store I thought it was time to try it again.
The first thing you smell is the mint. When you break the bar open and see the insides of the fingers it reminds me in both terms of looks and smell like what I imagine solid mint chocolate chip ice cream would be like.
The chocolate is Nestles standard issue milk chocolate, It's a thin coating but it's sweet and creamy even still. The inner mint portion tastes like a mint melt away (I love those things!) but what I like about it more then the taste is the texture. It sort of implodes on it's self. It melts in your mouth in kind of an airy honeycomb.
Of the best Nestle bar's ever!- but don't take my word for it- take Jim's too
THE BRITISH EMPORIUM Upland
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Now it is time to ask one of the great questions in life...
No, it is not why did they ever stop making Pudding Pop's (and yes, I know they did bring them back but they are not the same, these new ones are glorified fudgecicles)
The question is why is everything that is supposed to be pistachio flavored actually almond flavored? I don't get it. It would taste just as good if it was called almond flavor instead.
This pudding is (as you probably guessed) no exception to that rule. The flavor is best described as an edible version of Jergens Cherry-Almond hand cream... and oddly enough that is not a bad thing. The flavor is predominately a strong cherry-like almond with a bit of vanilla. There are surprisingly crunchy tiny pieces of almond.
I am not sure there is a natural flavor to be found in the bright minty green colored mix but it's probably as good as it is because of that. There is something comforting about this pudding. I think it's so good because it's so bad.
There is nothing redeeming about this pudding on some levels, it's not novel in any way. It certainly won't win you any Foodie bragging points (actually admitting to eating it may take some away) but it's one of those things that is so bad it's kind of good.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Stroopwafels are one of those things I don't keep in the house often because they are so good that the bag will be gone before I know it.
Stroopwafels for those not in the know is a thin waffle that has been sliced into two pieces down the middle. Then a filling of some sort (my favorite is caramel) is spread between the two halves and they are then placed back together. Eating one is so good it makes puppies smile.
A common way to eat them is with coffee or tea. You place the waffle over the top of the cop and allow the steam to warm the waffle and melt the filling.
I like them stright from the package. They are buttery smelling.
For me, the part I like the best is the texture. It's chewy, but crispy. The caramel even un-warmed is soft and ribbony. If you have never had one you should- trust me.
The Dutch Bakery Ontario Cal
Visit they're website!: Dutch Variety Foods
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Admittedly after the Ikea Nordic Sweets Salt Licorice I was worried I might be up for a repeat performance.
Luckily that was not the case.
The Harlekijntjes are about the the size of a quarter and have little faces molded into them. They are soft to the touch but not overly smooshy.
Flavor wise they are indeed mild and sweet. There is just a touch of salt- which in this case it's perfect. The main flavor is more like anise or licorice root then the molasses-like quality of Panda. There is just enough heat to the licorice to make it interesting but it doesn't overwhelm.
I wish I had started here with my first Dutch licorices, if I had I probably wouldn't have waited so long to try another. The aftertaste is great. It's long lasting and just leaves you with a fresh feeling.
The Dutch Bakery Ontario Cal
Visit they're website!: Dutch Variety Foods
Monday, December 1, 2008
I wonder if this might be a better soda for Marvo over at The Impulse Buy to review since as Bing Crosby taught us Mele Kalikimake is one of the ways to say Merry Christmas in the Hawaiian islands
And if it's not, are you trying to tell me that Bing Crosby lied to me?
Bing aside, Mele Kalikimaka is a coconut/pineapple flavored soda. I happen to like both of those flavors so, so far so good. The smell is stronger on the coconut then the pineapple but it's a good mix.
Taste wise it is also more heavy on the coconut. I really liked it. Yes, it's sweet- but it reminds me alot of a good pina colada. It also manages not to have a bitter or chalky after taste which a lot of pina colada type drinks tend to have (yes, SoBe Lizard Blizzard I am talking about you). It's lightly carbonated and like all Jones Soda is sweetened with pure cane sugar.
I can't promise anything but if you leave one of these out for Santa it may increase your chances of him leaving you a Wii! (at least that's what I am hoping)
Sunday, November 30, 2008
And here I had told myself this would be the year I broke down and tried the Turkey and Gravy soda!
I actually had gone to Target (the exclusive dealers of this years batch of holiday soda) and they didn't have it- but they did have this years three offerings: Candy Cane (which I already tired), Pear Tree and Mele Kalikimaka.
The Pear Tree is where I have decided to start. Like all of the Jones soda line it is sweetened with pure cane sugar, so that's point 1 in Jones favor.
The neon green soda smells vaguely pear like.
Taste wise. It's like carbonated sugar that someone thought about pears while mixing. I couldn't get past the sweetness for more then a couple of sips. Yes, like I said there is something vaguely pear-like about it but mostly it is just sugar.
This would probably be good for hypering up any assorted carpet sharks- (I meant children) left in your care.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
If you are anything like me at this point the thought of another bite of turkey leftovers is enough to send you riffling for something Else. and it is normally at that point for me that Taco Bell starts to sound pretty good.
Couple the fact that I am sick of turkey with the 900 commercials Taco Bell is running for the new Fully Loaded Nachos and I bet you know what I opted for.
According to the ad's and Taco Bell's website the nachos are topped with double the beef, guac, Fiesta salsa, sour cream, tortilla strips, nacho cheese, shredded cheese, beans and for just a little extra jalapenos if you desire. The whole thing is seated in a big taco shell and there is supposed to be topping in every bite.
I like Taco Bell nachos. They are just so bad they are good. The cheese is bright orange and way too salty, the meat is meat in the loosest sense of the word. The beans are the most plentiful of ingredients. And yet some how it all comes together.
The Fully Loaded nacho's are no exception to this- and I am a fan of the taco shell. It's just that for "fully loaded" the amount of topping is rather sparse. What's there is good but I think you get more bang for the buck with the Nacho's Bell Grande.
Hey at least it wasn't another piece of turkey!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Yeah, yeah I need an intervention, I know.
I would like to tell you that as I review this egg nog I am sitting by a roaring fire, nibbling on Thanksgiving leftovers (there are few left overs as good as chestnut stuffing!) there's a Bing Crosby movie on the tv and my cat is purring in my lap.
In reality it is actually the night before Thanksgiving, I have no fireplace, I am madly fantasising about chestnut stuffing, I am watching a South Park rerun ("Gnomes") and my cat is running around the apartment like he has a rocket up his butt.
So, while I may not have the picture postcard perfect version of lounging around after a holiday I DO have a pretty spiffy glass of egg nog.
What I really liked about the Pumpkin Spice egg nog is that while you can definitely tell there is pumpkin in the drink it is not so overwhelming that it is like drinking liquid pie. There is a warm spicy touch of cinnamon, cardamom and possibly even clove.
The texture is thick and creamy. It feels rich in your mouth without being heavy. I bet you could make fantastic ice cream out of this! I loved it just as much as the traditional Alta Dena egg nog!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Gobble gobble to all of you out there!
I will be taking a break from reviews for the day to spend it with my family- after many hours of whining, begging and threats of putting him in a second rate nursing home, my Father agreed to make his chestnut stuffing (which I have not had in six years) so I will probably spend most of the day in a stuffing coma. I hope the rest of you have as great a day!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
A few years ago my friend Bek made a visit from her home in Melbourne.
Amongst the gifts she had brought from home for her U.S. friends were a stash of Arnott's Tim Tams. It was then that I realized that Hugh Jackman may in fact be the second best gift Australia has given to the world.
Arnott's Tim Tam's (which can often be found at World Market- and easily, but not cheaply on-line) are a cookie comprised of two chocolate biscuits, a chocolate creme filling and then the whole thing is enrobed in a milk chocolate covering. There are some variations available and I am partial to the double coated ones myself. How would the Pepperidge Farm version stand up to the memory of the Arnott's?
Let's start with the outer layer of chocolate.
First, the layer is so thin that it immediately starts melting in your hand. The chocolate is real chocolate but it is on the low end side. It's smooth, but very sweet. If Pepperidge Farm had used the chocolate they use on the Milano's that would have been outstanding.
The biscuit layers are crunchy and have a satisfying flake to them. While they are chocolate colored, flavor wise they remind me of an old school Nabisco Cameo cookie. Which is to say that it is mostly vanilla flavor, but it is bland even by vanilla standards.
Again, it's chocolate colored, but flavor wise about all I could come up with- and people I actually went through the trouble of scraping filling out and eating it on it's own (my inner Alton Brown again)- was that it tastes kind of, like oily butter.
All things considered it is not a bad cookie. It is a lame attempt at matching the greatness that is a proper Tim Tam, but again an OK cookie. If you have never had a real Tim Tam before get a hold of the Arnott's- you will thank me.
And just because it amuses me have a little Aussie eye candy as a parting gift:
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
It may be time for an egg nog intervention
During the holiday season I consume more then my fair share.
I have to say I was really pleasantly surprised at how good this shake is. Jack shakes seem to be really good or really blah. The flavor on this one is a nice strong egg nog, lots of nutmeg, a little cardamon even. It's thick and creamy (thank you Jack for using real ice cream) and it doesn't have that chemical aftertaste that some egg nog flavored items can get.
Best Jack shake in a long time!
Jack In The Box
Monday, November 24, 2008
A few weeks ago I tried the Milk Chocolate Moose Munch (read all about it HERE) and I liked it so much I wanted to try the dark chocolate version.
Just likes it's milk chocolate brother the dark chocolate Moose Munch is made up of a fudgy center, popcorn, caramel and nuts.
Just like with the first bar the popcorn was my favorite part. Why is there not more popcorn candy? there also seemed to be more nuts and filling in this version compared to the milk chocolate. The nuts were crunch and fresh. The caramel was less noticable in this bar then it was in the milk chocolate version. Sadly, the toffee bits were almost none existent in this bar.
The dark chocolate is just dark enough that it is not a milk. But even that said I prefered it to the milk. While I liked the milk chocolate in the other version it was on the sweet side, the dark chocolate takes the edge off of that.
Did I mention that there really needs to be more candy bars with popcorn in them?
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Starbucks jumps on the salted caramel band wagon!
This is one of the new "Signature" line. It's hot chocolate made with milk. It has caramel added and is topped with a mix of sea salt and Turbinado sugar. Blah, blah, blah what does it taste like?
Smokey is about the best overall description I could come up with. The chocolate it's self is the the classic Starbucks hot chocolate. The caramel does seem to be a little too strong- sadly that as a rule is my biggest complaint with Starbucks and any of they're caramel drinks is that they tend to go overboard with it. I am all for caramel- I just don't want to feel like I am drowning in it. The salt is there almost as an after thought during the drink- but the salt/sugar mix that they sprinkle on the top of the whipped cream is hands down the best part! I wouldn't mind using that on ice cream!
All in all, I have to say that I actually preferred the regular hot chocolate to this version but I did love that topping!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I went to Trader Joe's looking for the Peppermint Joe Joe's
Sadly, my TJ's was sold out (but they did tell me if I am patient they are getting in some that are chocolate covered!) but no trip to Trader Joe's is a bad trip and in the frozen section they had heat and eat chocolate souffle's- and they are even in little ceramic ramekins!
Who doesn't love souffle? I do, but I admit I have never made myself one. I love to order them when I eat it.
The TJ's souffle, much like the chocolate croissants as the souffles are baking they fill the kitchen (or in the case of my relatively small apartment, the entire apartment) with the smell of delicious chocolate melting to perfection.
The souffles raised perfectly. The texture was light and airy. The flavor is a deep rich cocoa. There is so much chocolate flavor here it is insane! I sincerely doubt that it would be possible to make a better souffle this easily.
If you want an indulgent treat for yourself or need a dessert that looks like you slaved over it get a box of these!
Friday, November 21, 2008
I don't eat dip all that often...
No real reason. Mostly it is because I just never think to get it. Every once and awhile though I get an obscenely powerful craving for onion dip. The rules for comsumption of said dip are the following:
1. The dip must be very cold
2. The only acceptable dippers are Lay's Potato Chips, Spicy Nacho Dorito's or celery (yeah, I am not sure how that snuck in either).
I prefer homemade (and by "homemade" I pretty much mean from the packet mized with sour cream) but today I went for ready made.
I seemed to recall liking the Dean's brand in the past so that is what I picked up today.
First off, the texture. While it is creamy and smooth it is weirdly thick. Sort of like a cross between sour cream and whipped cream cheese.
The onion flavor is an overly fake carmelized onion flavor. and the rest is just sour cream (weirdly thick sour cream). It's not bad, it's just not memorable in any way.
I think I am going to have to keep searching for a new onion dip.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This is another review I have to give Jim over at Jim's Chocolate Mission a shout out for.
Jim reviewed this bar a few months ago (check it out HERE) and it just looked and sounded like something I had to try.
I admit, at first I had to do a Google search to find out exactly what Turkish Delight is- and for those of you that don't know it's a candy made of sugar and starch (sort of like Boton Rice Candy)and it is often flavored with things like Rose Water, lemon or even mint and nuts.
Fry's Turkish Delight is a Turkish Delight center that's enrobed in a thin layer of milk chocolate.
Once you open the bar give it a good sniff, it has the faint scent of rose water. The chocolate is very sweet, slightly gritty and it melted at a strangely fast rate (or maybe I am just so hot that I melt things instantly!).
This bar is not about the chocolate, it's about the filling. The Turkish Delight texture wise is- depending on your point of view- either a very firm jelly or a very soft gummi. I want to say it was sticky, but that's not really the right word. It was more like tacky. I LOVED the flavor! it was a soft rose water with a hint of lemon and a sweet finish. It almost reminded me of a solid form of Persian Ice Cream. I did something I don't often do with this bar- I finished it in one sitting!
THE BRITISH EMPORIUM Upland
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Woohoo Peppermint ice cream!
Yes, just like I get excited by the first egg nog of the year, the first chestnuts. The first peppermint ice cream gets me all happy too.
The Peppermint Bark ice cream is a white chocolate base with with pieces of peppermint bark and peppermint candies.
The white chocolate ice cream is sweet and rich. I couldn't really pick up any white chocolate but there is a vague malty quality to it. The peppermint bark was great it was a nice bitter dark chocolate that was infused with peppermint. And lets for forget the small but still crunchy pieces of mint. This remind me of a frozen Peppermint Patty!
I admit I could have easily eaten half a pint in one sitting if I didn't practice self control.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Yay! another chocolate/chili bar!
Once again I am dipping into my stash and today I dug out the Hot Chilli Frey bar. Much like with the New Tree bars I have been a fan of all the Frey bars I have tried- and I love the chocolate/chilli combo.
This bar is a 55% dark chocolate.
When you sniff the bar there is no mistaking that there is chilli in the bar-it's almost a Jalapeno like smell. The interesting thing with the flavor is that while you do taste a mild chilli flavor- and that flavor is like biting into an actual chilli pepper rather then say, powered chilli. You get the heat of the chilli without a really intense pepper flavor. I am one of those chilli heads who LOVES the burn. There are little pieces of chilli pepper through out the bar.
The chocolate is nice. Not too intense or bitter. It has a coffee type quality to it. Great snap. On it's own it might have been a little boring but pair with the chilli it was a nice combination.
All in all I liked the bar. It is defintly the kind of bar you nibble on here and rather then a bar you eat in one sitting, but it is good. I would love to see the chilli paired with a deep milk chocolate. I think the sweet and the heat together would be killer.
Monday, November 17, 2008
In the sprite of renewing I have been trying to work through my review stash (which is really just an excuse to buy more candy)
I decided today's stash buster (can you tell I am also a knitter?) is New Tree's Renew bar. I have loved all of the previous New Tree bar's I have tried and I don't think this is going to be the exception.
The Renew bar is a dark chocolate bar with black currants.
As soon as you open the Mylar wrapper you immediately get hit with the smell of the currants. It is sort of a cross between raspberries, grapes and cherries. The dark chocolate adds a woodsy note.
The bar breaks with a satisfying snap (I do love that sound) and when you put it on your tongue the first thing you taste is the bitterness of the chocolate (which you should expect because it's a minimum 73% chocolate). There is almost a burnt coffee, earthy quality to the chocolate. Because it is such a deep dark there is not much of a melt. The black currant reminded me of a cross between raspberries and cherries. I liked it because it was sweet enough to stand up to dark chocolate but not so tart that between it and the chocolate you found yourself puckered up like you had just sucked on an entire bag of Lemon heads.
If you are into dark, earthy and slightly bitter this is the bar for you.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
In my past reviews of Vosges chocolates I think I have made it pretty clear that they are beyond amazing. I have given you many examples of how good they are in relation to hot men. The last place we left off was a "Naked Stephen Colbert Accepts My Proposal" good. How do I possibly top that? There are ways my friends and if I went into them this would no longer be a PG-13 rated blog!
Moving on... As much as I have professed my love for Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Cups as being the single best peanut butter chocolate on the planet this bar is about a bizillion times better.
Ok, picture a deep milk chocolate, still creamy and rich in dairy but not too sweet with a nice satisfying snap. Then fill that chocolate with a peanut butter that is rich with roasted goodness and just gritty enough that it is like the peanut butter is roughly ground. But wait for it- here comes the best part- the whole thing is sprinkled with salt!! Yes, glorious, wonderful salt!
The salt set's all the other flavors off. Now, don't be worried there is not so much salt that you wonder where the chocolate or the peanut butter is.
AND the whole thing is organic!
I am in love!
Once again just a reminder that the kind folks over at Vosges would like to give you a chance to taste them as well.
Just in time for the holidays they are offering my dear readers 10% off of all purchases made on they're website Vosges Chocolates.Com simply add in code 2810WB1 and you are on your way to some amazing treats (check out that site, you could have all of your holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving!)
Sample From Company
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Seriously, is that name long enough?
Long name aside I couldn't resist this bar when I saw it. I love all of those things. I was looking forward to the waffle cone pieces the most.
The bar is a white chocolate truffle center that is flavored with vanilla. There are small pieces of cherry, somewhere in all that are little teeny, tiny pieces of waffle cone and the whole thing is covered in creamy milk chocolate.
It reminded me a lot of a solid version of Cherry Vanilla ice cream. The vanilla is very subtle. The cherry pieces are sweet and the flavor lingers through the bar even if you don't actually get a piece in each bite. While you can (kinda) tell that the waffle pieces are there because all of a sudden you will get a random crunch, sadly there is no real flavor. The chocolate the enrobes the bar is sweet and you can taste the dairy notes.
I really liked this bar. The only thing I wish they had done is gone for more of a Kit-Kat effect with the waffles.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Could it really be so easy to get hot and fudgy peanut butter brownies by just opening the package and heating the oven?
Well, yes it kind of is.
The brownies are indeed fudgy and soft. There are melty chocolate chips on the top -I am pretty sure they are milk chocolate, but to be honest because of the strong flavor of the brownie it's self I couldn't tell.
Texture wise the brownies are dense and fudgy. Personally, I prefer my brownies to be on the thicker more cake like side, but these brownies are still really moist.
The best part hands down is the peanut butter. It's a thin layer that hides just before the flaky top crust. It's not too strong or sweet- it adds the perfect amount of peanut butter flavor.
For basically "instant" brownies these are pretty good!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Is it me or was strawberry flavoring every where this year?
I am torn as to if that is a good thing or not. I love REAL strawberries, artificial strawberry flavor... not so much.
I am however hopelessly in love with Rice Krispies Treats (why did they have to stop making the cereal?!). I first saw the Strawberry Treats back in the early summer. I will be honest I could not bring myself to buy a whole big box because I just don't see myself going back for more then one. Today however, I came across a single serving back and here we are.
The RKT it's self looks like a normal RKT- if it had Chicken Pox. There are lots of little "strawberry" bits sprinkled through out. In further bad news the Treat smells like a big bottle of children's vitamins. Do I really want to try this? well I have had worse things in my mouth...
Eh, if you ever felt the need to crush up a bunch of Flintstones vitamins and mix them into a batch of RKT this is exactly what it tastes like. What's scarier is that really is not as bad as it sounds. In the same way after eating way too many of them Strawberry Pocky started to taste good the same thing happened here.
I still don't see myself ever buying a large box of these but I could see picking a single one up on occasion.
Jay's Shell Station Monrovia, Ca
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Yes, let me just admit right now that I did give out an obscenely loud squeal right there in the middle of Walmart*
Who even knew that there was a candy cane Oreo coming out this year! (and if you did know why did you not tell me?!)
Much like the other limited edition Oreo's the cookie is the classic cookie. I am not even going to go into that. They are of course fab and we all know it.
The limited editions are all about the cream. These have the same amount of filling as a double stuff- personally I think it is a bit much (I am all about the cookie) but the cream is cool and just a little grainy. The smell of the mint is stronger then the mint flavor it's self. I was worried that it might be medicinal but it is pretty close to an actual candy cane style mint.
I tried it out "pure" (right out of the bag) and dunked in milk (purely, for scientific purposes of course) and while I liked it both ways I give the edge to the cookies dipped in milk.
I wonder if I leave these for Santa if he will bring me a Disneyland Annual Passport?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I am not sure if this is a relaunch of an older Kiss variety or if my local market was just trying to get rid of extra inventory...
But one way or the other my local Albertson's has a huge bin of these. I had never heard of them but some Googling found me that Candy Addict had reviewed them waaay back in 2006! (read that review HERE).
The strawberry smell is so strong that you can get a good whiff of it before you even open the package! I am starting to understand why these might have been in a big old bin. When you do open the package it is like someone lit a strawberry candle- I imagine it would be a big heart shaped strawberry scented candle. The kind 12 year old girls lit nightly on their shrine to Zac Efron anyway...
Once I worked past the smell and actually got to a piece of candy I was pleased to find that the strawberry flavor was actually much more stubtle then the overwelming aroma would have you expect. While it is an improvement from what I was expecting (I guess) it still tasted like a heart shaped, strawberry scented, Zac Efron shrine candle that melted into a random batch of Hershey's chocolate. Oh and BTW the aftertaste is from hell.
I normally like Hershey's Special dark chocolate but I just couldn't enjoy it with the strawberry. If you missed these kisses the first time around consider yourself lucky. If you see that big old bin at the store that I told you about- well my friends there is a reason they are in a big old bin!
Monday, November 10, 2008
I think we all know I have a somewhat unnatural love of frozen pizza
One of my first loves was and still is Stouffer's French Bread pizza.
I just love the thick chewy bread. The sauce is just a little sweet and you can almost taste the oregano. It's funny, while I hate this sauce on pasta I like it on the pizza. The cheese is stringy and zesty. And perhaps the best part- the pepperoni actually looks and tastes like real pepperoni! (seriously, what is it with scary frozen pizza pepperoni?)
I think this will always be my bench mark for frozen french bread pizza.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
As far as I am concerned anything that makes chocolate for breakfast acceptable can't be all bad.
The Otis Spunkmeyer mini muffin has a small fudgy dome dotted with equally mini chocolate chips. It's more of a cocoa taste then a real chocolate flavor but it is pleasant. The texture is soft and a little spongy- but oddly enough at the same time the muffins are a little too oily to have a decent crumb to them.
The chocolate chips are soft- not melty soft, just soft. Even at that they are pretty good.
I have to give points to Otis because these seem vastly better then they did the last time I tried them a few years ago. Honestly, there is nothing special about these muffins but for a fast snack they are not bad.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Is there ever a bad time to have shrimp scampi?
No, I am pretty sure the answer to that is no- but some times you want scampi and you don't have a whole lot of time. Enter Bertolli Classic Dinner Shrimp Scampi with Linguini. Everything you need for dinner is in the bag and it can be on your table in 10 minutes.
The pasta is done in a creamy garlic sauce and features slices of bell pepper, large pieces of garlic and of course shrimp. The pasta is done perfectly- nice and al dente, for frozen pasta quite impressive.
The sauce. Surprisingly strong on the garlic (which I consider to be a very good thing) creamy, but not cloying or "cheesy" my only complaint with the sauce is that the pepper is the strongest flavor. It's not necessarily a bad thing- it is just not my favorite.
The shrimp are top notch, yes they are frozen (well duh) but they are plump and sweet and again happily are perfectly cooked.
All in all for a heat and eat dinner with shrimp it is hard to get much better then this. Paired with a loaf of crusty bread and a salad this made for an easy and tasty dinner.
Sample From Company
Friday, November 7, 2008
When I read that there was going to be a mint version out for the holidays I had to hunt them down.
Since I had zero luck finding the Caramel Apple Kisses I was worried that the Mint Bliss was going to be the same thing. Luckily for me right there in the center of all of the Xmas candy was a big stash o' Bliss!
Would it be terribly embarrassing to admit that I actually had to restrain myself to get dinner started cooking before I tore into the bag?
Again, I am admittedly not often kind to Hershey's or to the Bliss line (although I did really like the Raspberry Bliss) so it probably sounds strange that I am so excited about these. That my friends should tell you how much I love mint.
Enough build up, how are they?
When you open the bag there is a wonderfully intense mint aroma- that part is good... Sadly it is down hill from here.
When you unwrap the actually candy the first thing you smell is sugary chocolate. And yes, the chocolate is indeed VERY, VERY sweet. There is a strong dairy taste to it and it has a smooth, cool feel on the tongue. It's not bad, it's just mediocre.
The mint is on the toothpasty side, wait that is actually being too kind. It's more like Mylenta.
Sadly, as far as I am concerned these can stay with the rest of the Bliss line (minus the Raspberry). Great idea though!