Saturday, May 31, 2008
Did you know that Apple is the second most popular flavor of soda in Mexico?
Neither did I, but if Wikipedia says so it must be true!
Anyway, Manzanita is an Apple flavored soda. It looks alot like carbonated apple cider.
And it tastes pretty much like lightly carbonated apple cider. It's sweet but at the same time not too sweet. You get the biter edge that eating the apple peel or the core would give. It's not exactly an apple flavor found in nature- but at the same time it's not that far off.
By the half way point in the bottle I had decided that I really liked it. It's actually pretty refreshing. I plan on picking up a 12 pack during my next shopping trip. They also have a Green Apple version that I will be on the lookout for.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I have got skills. Drawing skills, nunchuck skills, reviewing skills...
Neapolitan Dynamite is a 50/50 pint of Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Fudge Brownie.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie has a special place in my heart (and on my thighs) since it was the very first Ben & Jerry's I ever tried. I still love the moist soft patches of brownie. That great chocolate basic is rich and smooth.
And how could you not love Cherry Garcia? sweet chunks of cherry. Slivers of bitter sweet chocolate. Somewhere, I would like to think that Jerry (as in Garcia) keeps a well stocked freezer full)
Both of these flavors are classic examples of Ben & Jerry at their best. I love the combo pints!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I admit I was not entirely sure what kind of candy these were when I bought them. All I had to go on was the picture on the box and the words "green tea"
Not exactly overly helpful. When I opened the first of the individually wrapped pieces I was a little more confused. The pieces which are slightly larger then sugar cubes are covered in a rather chalky looking thin layer of cocoa and chocolate. And the cubes while not as hard as a hard candy have no give to them either.
Throwing caution to the wind I just popped one in. The cubes instantly start to melt in your mouth with a very pleasant cool feeling on the tongue. The first things you taste would be the cocoa coating then there is almost a malted milk ball type flavor before getting to the green tea center. The green tea is sweet without being too candy/fake tasting and is deep without being bitter.
The melt is very, very smooth and it is way too easy to quickly have an embarrassingly large pile of wrappers next to you! (um, not that I did that or anything)
I liked these SOOOOOOOOO much I am definitely going to have to stock up on my next trip to the store.
Ranch 99 Supermarket
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I got this bar on the same Ikea visit that garnered the salted licorice fish. Since I was less then enamored with the fish I kept putting off trying the chocolate.
Not very adventurous for a food reviewer I know, but I did it anyway.
It was about as good as you would expect Ikea chocolate to be. What I mean by that is it looks pretty good on the outside but it may as well be particle board on the inside.
The bar is a large, glossy bar. The texture is kind of waxy and doesn't have the smooth melt that you would expect from a milk chocolate (the melt is kind of dry)
The flavor is not bad. A little on the sweet side for me. There is a strong dairy side to it but it seems more like powdered dairy. It's not bad but I place it about on par with Herhsey's.
That may be my longest title ever!
Do I even have to mention my addiction to the 'Bucks?
I normally don't order the Creme Frappuccino's. To be honest I don't like them as a rule. First off they contain no coffee- and to me not getting coffee at Starbucks is like going to Disneyland and not going on any rides. Sure you can do it but...
So anyway, like I said I would normally not order the Creme Frappucchino, but the barista made it sound so good I couldn't resist. According to her the drink would taste almost exactly like mint chocolate chip ice cream.
And she was right! it really does taste like mint chocolate chip ice cream!
There are little slivers of shaved chocolate floating in the drink. Hands down the best part is the chocolate whipped cream. It was rich, but not too sweet. The chocolate flavor was deep and cocoa like.
This was a fun dessert-type treat. I plan on trying the coffee version soon!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Never let it be said that I won't do anything for a good review
This is actually the second Durian I purchased to review. The first one I got in New York at New Years, however I never got a chance to open it before I left.
For those of you who may not know, Durian is an Asian fruit that is famous for it's rather pungent smell. Many people say that the smell is reminiscent of dirty diapers, old onions and rotting corpses. In some countries there are even restrictions as to where you can eat them. For more information then you will probably ever want click over to Durianpalace.com
Personally, I didn't think the smell was so bad. Mostly it was like a strong sulfur it was strongest breaking into the rind, but once the fruit was opened the sulfur mellowed and it was just fruity.
The flesh is segmented into pod-like lobes. The lobes are both a kind of foie gras looking solid and a stringy, mushy membrane. The actual fruit smelled sort of like a combination of onion and melon. Not nearly the dead body smell I was expecting- and some how I have made that sound like a bad thing.
People seem to be split on the taste. Durian seems to be a love it or hate it thing. to use two examples with people you have probably heard of.
Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods couldn't eat it. Considering the things Andrew will eat it was pretty surprising that it was a fruit that did him in. Here's a clip, the durian comes in around 7:00 minutes.
Now Tony Bourdain absolutely LOVES the stuff as you can see here (durian is about 6:00 minutes in):
So now that you know what people far more qualified to have an educated opinion then I think about it what did I think?
Really it's not that bad. I preferred the more solid pieces to the custard like parts. The flavor was sort of like honey dew, banana and just general "fruityness" mixed with mild onion.
I think after all the build up that I had about durian I was actually kind of let down. It wasn't nearly as bad as I feared it would be, but at the same time there was no epiphany moment where I felt like I had discovered the coolest thing ever. All in all I am glad I tried it and I feel like I went up another couple hardcore foodie points. Hey, I did make it further then Andrew Zimmern and that has to count for something.
A word of caution. Durian and alcohol shouldn't be consumed at the same time- click the link for Durian Palace for more info. Also, be prepared for some indigestion one way or the other. I warn you it WILL suck- but think of it this way you get to relive the fun that was durian! (look I had to find some bright side to it!)
Ranch 99 Supermarket
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Yesterday I took my first visit to Disneyland in 4 long years...
Sadly, since it was a spur of the moment trip and I had not budgeted for it- and in that four year span a single days park admission had soared up to $91.00 for a park hopper pass (the hell?!) I ended up just walking around Downtown Disney which is an admission free area with tons of shops and restaurants and is a fun place in it's own right.
One of the shops is a cute candy shop called Marceline's Confectionery. Out of all the many treats in the shop one of the things that caught my eye was spicy peanut brittle.
The brittle it's self is practically worth the price of park admission. It's buttery and sweet without being sticky. It tastes EXACTLY like a solid version of a Payday bar.
The added kick comes from the peanut. While not as spicy as say, Planter's Heat or the hot Lay's nuts, the peanuts still have a nice mild pepper kick. There is just enough heat to take the sweet edge off the candy but not so much that someone who is less of a pepper head would feel blown away by the spice.
I really should have gotten two bags because this was just great!
Downtown Disney, Anaheim. California
When I saw this bar at Cost Plus I HAD to have it. I have loved every "chili" bar I have come across...
Until now- to no fault of the chili.
The bar is a very dark 77% cocoa (although the wrapper calls it "mild dark chocolate"). I think in my old age I am becoming a wuss, I just don't like my chocolate that bitter. But if you do you will LOVE this bar.
The bar does have a great smell to it. The scent of the mango is light and fruity and combined with the chili and the dark chocolate there is a woodsy spice. If this were a candle I would love to have one.
Because the cocoa content is so high there is more of a dense, chalky mouth feel then a smooth melt. As much as you smell the mango there is barely a trace of the flavor. I thought that was a good thing because if the mango had been to strong it would have been over powering. What comes through first is the bitterness of the chocolate followed by the heat of the chili. There is absolutely no doubt that there is chili in this bar. The fire lasts a satisfyingly long time. I liked that part a lot. The chocolate was just so bitter that it had an aftertaste that is best described as bad, burnt diner coffee. If only the chocolate had been just a little sweeter I would have loved this bar.
Well worth a try though if you like extra dark chocolate.
Cost Plus World Market
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I am not always kind to good old Ben & Jerry. I have been pretty vocal about the fact that lately it seems the new flavors have been more miss then hit.
However, sometimes my favorite partners since Kirk & Spock manage to make a flavor that I have been known to wolf down at an embarrassingly fast rate (Cake Batter has become my favorite)
The boys have managed to come up with yet another pint in this years new flavors that is pretty damn good!. And yes, that would be ONE Cheesecake Brownie.
I love cheesecake brownies to start with. In my childhood (back when ice cream was chunkless- sad times) on the few occasions my mother would make cheesecake brownies a certain someone would do anything in her power to snag as many of them as she could. As an adult I have been known to bake double batches so I was REALLY looking forward to this flavor.
The base flavor is supposed to be cheesecake flavored and has cheesecake brownie chunks. The base flavor is tangy more then sweet. It reminded me of Greek yogurt more then cheesecake. Since I happen to like Greek yogurt more then I like cheesecake this was a big plus to me. The brownie bits are GREAT! it's like they took the brownies from Chocolate Fudge Brownie and topped them with cheesecake. They are fudgy and moist and if I could buy just the brownies by themselves I would!
And by buying this flavor you help fight world poverty.
It's ice cream!, it's a humanitarian effort!, it's delisous!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Since it's vacation season and no doubt Southern California is a huge tourist draw I thought I would share with you a few of my local favorites. These are chili fries from The Hat.
The Hat is a local chain that is most famous for it's pastrami- and while these are fighting words in local circles, I personally don't like they're pastrami. But what I LOOOOOVE is the chili fries.
The fries themselves are just standard issue fries but they are piled high and topped with enough chili (no beans) and cheese to feed at least 3 people. I have personally never finsished even half of an order so plan on sharing!
The chili uses good quality ground meat and is just the slightest bit spicy. The cheese is shredded chedder and they will add onions if you ask.
They are huge, they are greasy and they have NO nutrional value what-so ever. But DAMN they are good!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Sometimes there is just not enough caffeine in my normal beloved Coke Zero to jump start my mornings- especially now that I have the some what weird distinction of being a bartender who works mornings
This morning was one of those mornings. I saw the gum and since it boasted that two pieces of gum where equal to one energy drink I gave it a shot.
Yes, it does indeed work! I got the same rush as I did from drinking a can of Red Bull or RockStar.
Taste wise the gum is also not bad. Just your typical run of the mill spearmint. There IS a bitter after taste. It tastes like a combination of artificial sweetener and too much caffeine. Even with that I still prefer the gum over a can of either of those drinks any day.
Word of advice, if you chew more then 2 pieces in a roughly four hour span of time like I did (three hours of sleep will do that to you) it will pep you up, but there be warned you may experience a massive crash. I did and it was not fun.
In any case this is now a staple in my work apron!
Yesterday an anonymous commentor alerted me to the fact that they had been unable to find any of my beloved Oreo treats in stores any more
I sent off an email to the folks at Klondike/Unilever asking if they had in fact been discontinued and got the following email in return:
Thank you very much for contacting us. I am sorry to inform you that the Klondike® Oreo® Ice Cream
Sandwiches has been discontinued.
Many factors contribute to a decision to discontinue a flavor or product, but they all boil down to the fact that we
didn't sell enough of the flavor or product to keep producing it. We know that you did your part to keep the
flavor or product in production. Please understand that we would rather not disappoint any of our consumers.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHY?! I would like to tell you that reading that email was not followed up by several hours of pouting and a liberal amount of whining. I would also like to tell you that I am tall. Some things just aren't going to happen today...
So, sadly we are saying an all to soon good bye to a great ice cream sandwich. While it will no longer fill our stomachs (or our thighs) it will live on in our hearts.
So while I was in line at Blockbuster paying for my used $3.99 copy of "Blades Of Glory" (C'mon you would have bought one too) starring up at me from the candy rack was the Cocoa Pete's Berry Berry Dangerous bar
The BBD bar is a 4 segment dark chocolate bar with pieces of real strawberry. Incidentally the Pete behind Cocoa Pete's is also the Pete responsible for Pete's Wicked Ale (which is pretty damn good). Pete is really big on doing things with old world quality with new twists. I read a fairly interesting piece on the cocoa line and Pete himself even went as far as going to Belgium to learn from master chocolatiers. I had pretty high hopes going into this bar, needless to say.
So, how was it?
Each segment of the bar is quite pretty. Domes that are slighter larger then a quarter in diameter they are glossy and have a fabulous aroma of dark chocolate and the berries.
I think I had been expecting a soft or a hollow center- be warned it is thick and dense! and more then a little hard to bite into. There are indeed large pieces of strawberry. They are slightly sticky and chewy (but in a good way!)
The chocolate is great!. Dark and woodsy with a serious cocoa flavor. Because the chocolate is so dark it is more crumbly then milky but the sweetness of the strawberry keeps the chocolate from being too bitter. These are just an excellient candy. I will difinatly be looking for the other candies in the line!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Milk N Honees are a hard candy with a honey flavored exterior and a milk filled center (Sort of like a Milkful)
I had never seen them until I was hunting through Claro's imported candy section.
These are addictive!
The honey shell melts into a sweet trickle of honey down your throat. The milky center has almost a carmely sweetness to it.
Claro's Italian Market
Monday, May 12, 2008
I got the yearning for some cupcakes this weekend...
So I thought I would try something new. The Cherry Chip box mix seemed to fit the bill so I got that.
I gotta admit it did pass the first test- the raw batter test. I think I am one of those weird people who actually prefer cake batter raw rather then baked. The raw batter was rich and strongly vanilla tasting. The cherry flavor in the raw mix tasted more towards the candy side then say fresh cherries- but that's OK. I like that overly sweet candy cherry flavor. So far, so good.
As predicted the mix bakes up perfectly (I think you have to try pretty hard to screw up a box mix) moist, great crumb etc.
The taste... I don't know what happened once the batter was baked but the sweet cherry taste went from candy to cough drops in 25 minutes! The vanilla was still there but it was over powered by the medicinal cherry flavor. It was as if an evil version of the Kebler elves snuck into my kitchen and stole the good cupcakes leaving me with that nasty batch of cough suppresenty blach! Again not bad raw but that doesn't really help over all.
Friday, May 9, 2008
I love the orange and lemon MetroMint waters so I was excited to see the chocolate version at a gas station of all places!
Admittedly I was wary of chocolate flavored water.
Could chocolate flavored water even be good?.
The answer is a surprising- Yes!
The water is flavored with "cocoa essence". Yeah, I have no idea what cocoa essence is either, but I can tell you it tastes pretty good. If you have ever had one of those hard chocolate mints that seem to found mostly at restaurants? of course you do. It tastes like a liquid version of that.
The chocolate is subtle. You know it is there but it isn't overly sweet or bitter. The mint is cooling but not overpowering or mouth wash like. It was refreshing, I know that almost sounds like a cop out but it was.
If you see it try it! It's water! it's chocolate!- and it's calorie free!!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Really I am not obsessed with Ritter Sport!
OK I kind of am!
I like the seemingly endless variety of bars that they have- AND the alcohol inspired flavored bars were both pretty darn good. With all the things I review even the things I really like I rarely finish. I have already had to buy another of the Pear bars.
So how was the yogurt bar?
Yogurt seemed like an odd filling to start with. It wasn't bad. It reminded me almost of a cheesecake brownie. The yogurt was bitter but had a slight sweetness to it. The after taste is tangy, more like sour cream then yogurt.
As a filling it grew on me.
What I wasn't sold on was the milk chocolate. It was very creamy and had a smooth melt to it. I just thought it was way too sweet. This would be great with a dark chocolate or a less sweet milk.
I love pear and wish it were used more in candy. When I saw the Ritter Sport truffle I couldn't resist trying it.
Aroma wise all I got from it was sweet milk chocolate. Unlike the Red Wine truffle where you could smell the red wine right away. Don't let that fool you though. Hiding inside of that cute little square is a center of pear brandy mousse!
The mousse is cool on the tongue and actually tastes just like a sweet sip of real pear brandy. I can't say enough good things about this bar.
Yes, the chocolate is still on the sweeter side but it helps cut the alcohol taste that would otherwise be too strong. The melt is smooth and rich. Is it embarressing to admit that I actually finished the entire bar in one sitting?- probably but I did!
Saturday, May 3, 2008
One of the good things about moving back home to SoCal is that I have been able to revisit many of my old foodie stomping grounds.
One of which is a long standing chain of Italian groceries in the L.A. area called Claro's.
Claro's has a rather impressive candy selection at my local store and I picked up a bag of what I thought was licorice.
The small semi-hard lozenges are indeed made with licorice but imagine my surprise when I realized they were very, very strong to the point it made me think they were mentholated!
What I didn't notice on the bag until I had one in my mouth is that it also says "respira" Yes, my lovely bag of licorice was actually a lovely bag of cough drops!
The thing is a mentholy licorice is oddly addicting. Oh, sure I had a pretty big "WTF?!" moment at first but once you get over the shock the licorice it's self is dark and has a deep molasses note to it (yes, once again it reminded me of Panda) there is a little anise working around in there as well. As best I could tell from my limited Italian and the help of Babel Fish there is no actual menthol in the drops but it does have licorice juice (which accounts for the strong flavor) and once you are used to it, it actually reminded me a lot of Sambuca or Anisette. Minus the fact that it stains your tongue a lovely dark brown it did leave my mouth feeling tingly and clean. And while I had no cough to start with I would certainly prefer these over a standard drop any day.
Even if they weren't what I expected I am going to keep a stash of these on hand,
Claro's Italian Market
Friday, May 2, 2008
Who could resist a red wine truffle?
I couldn't which is why I snapped this up on a recent visit to my local German deli.
This deli has a truly impressive assortment of Ritter Sport bars imported directly from Germany. I had no idea that they had so many flavors!
The red wine truffle bar immediately caught my eye because it seemed so different to the rest of the line.
When you open the package if you take a good whiff you can tell right away that this is flavored with red wine. It's sort of reminded me of the smell of cheap table wine meets Raisinettes- which is actually more pleasant then it sounds.
The truffles are made with a creamy milk chocolate that is on the sweeter side. In different circumstances it would be a little too sweet for me. But with bitterness of the wine it works really well. The truffle filling is a soft creme- based on the smell I had been worried that there would be a more liquid center. The initial flavor of the center again reminded me mostly of raisin. The after taste however is all red wine.
I am not going to tell you that you would be able to pin down the type of red wine it is supposed to be, it reminded me most of the cheap jugs of Carlo Rossi table wines my Grandmother kept on hand (truth be told the Paisano is a perfectly serviceable cheap table wine) but there is no doubt that it is a red wine filling.
I liked it enough that I would buy it again!
Upland German Deli