Friday, October 31, 2008

Yoplait Light- Blueberry Patch Yogurt

This may be hands down the BEST blueberry yogurt period!
Not only does this yogurt have the perfect balance of sweet and tangy base flavor.
But rather then having just a swirl of blueberry on the bottom or the top, it has whole large blueberries! What could possibly be better then entire, plump berries?!

This is one of those products I can only gush over.

Albertsons Supermarket

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Taco Bell Frutista Freeze- Triple Berry Creme

I had vowed to myself after being less then in love with the Mango Strawberry version that I would just avoid the Frutista Freezes in the future

They are too sweet, the flavor is not exactly complex and for that many wasted calories I could have something really good.

Yeah, I vow a lot of things.
Tonight's trip to Taco Bell (I am poor this week) was at the end of a long day and since at 6:30 pm it was still well into the 90's (hello?- it is the end of October already!) a cold, sweet drink sounded pretty good. I decided to try the Triple Berry Creme.

If I had been expecting the drink to look like the picture I would have been disappointed. The ribbons of creme are not as visable, at first I was worried that maybe they left the cream out entirely but in decent lighting they are faintly there. Taste wise there is a pleasent fake vanilla cream taste. I think if the creme had been there in larger amounts it would have been over kill. As it is the vanilla while again, compleatly artifical tastes pretty good.

The berries are a mix of raspberry, strawberry and a berry a can't quite idenify and the Taco Bell website offers no info on. Normally not a big strawberry fan I have to say I like the blend of the berries here. The raspberries kept the strawberry from being too sweet and the strawberries kept the raspberries from being to cloying. The bits of strawberry pulp offer some nice texture.

I liked this version much better the Mango Strawberry.

Taco Bell

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reese's Crunchy Peanut Butter Cup Limited Edition

Could it be that the Reese's Gods have finally answered my prayers?
Have they really brought back the Crunchy cups of my childhood dreams?

Well, lets see...
On the surface the first thing I noticed is that the top of the cup is smooth (like a classic cup) on the "old" version the top of the cups were studded in peanut pieces. As for the rest the cup is just like a classic cup- studded with several small peanut pieces. Taste-wise it is pretty good. The nuts are salty and just a little salty. I wish there had been more nuts pieces but I was just happy to get back an old friend.

Wait, is it weird that I referring to candy as an old friend?


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yoplait Light- Strawberry Shortcake Yogurt

Who doesn't like strawberry shortcake- well if the latest commercials are to be believed Richard Simmons and his short shorts- and me
Well... that is not entirely true. I do in fact like freshly made strawberry shortcake (although I prefer it made with pound cake rather then sponge cake or biscuits)

What I didn't like was Yoplait's version. I have to say that by and large I have been a fan of the Light line. The flavors are tasty, fruit packed and just all around good.

None of those things can be said for the strawberry shortcake. I can describe this flavor for you perfectly. Remember when you were a kid and were sick and got prescribed those liquid sulfur drugs? the ones that the pharmacy would stick "strawberry" flavor in to make just a touch less vile? THAT is what this Yoplait flavor tastes like. That is exactly what it tastes like- with a little way fake vanilla-type batter flavor. The best part about this yogurt was that it was a small container and was over quickly.

In the future both Richard and I will be on the sidelines for this one.

Albertsons Supermarket

Monday, October 27, 2008

Harry & David Milk Chocolate Moose Munch Bar

Again I have to credit Jim for inspiring me to want to try something
Jim reviewed this bar back in September (check out his review HERE) and I thought it sounded pretty darn good.

Wandering around Walgreen's last night I found they have started to carry the bars so you know... I had to get one (what you thought I could pass it up?)

The bar has popcorn, caramel, nuts, toffee bits and a fudgy center wrapped in milk chocolate (they have a dark chocolate version as well but the ones on the shelf looked crushed)

I love the idea of popcorn in a candy bar. Off the top of my head I can't think of another bar that has popcorn in it. The bar smells great. Sweet and milky- almost marshmellow like.

Biting into the bar I think because of the smell I had been expecting a soft, chewy texture. What I actually got both smooth and crunchy from the nuts and the popcorn. It was actually a pleasent surprise.

The popcorn was just like I hoped it would be. Crunchy, salty and the pieces were big fluffy kernals. The nuts when I could find them were slightly salty and crispy. As far as I could tell from the label there are supposed to be cashews and almonds. My bar seemed to have mostly cashews. As for the caramel while I can tell from the flavor that it is in there I didn't see any visable traces of it. The toffee bits were crisp and buttery. The chocolate was cool on the tongue, sweet and has an instantly creamy melt. I think without the fillings it may be too sweet but as is it balanced everything out.

My only complaint with the bar really isn't a complaint so much as I wish- I wish there had been more popcorn!

I have got to try the dark chocolate version!


If you have never had one of these bar's they are a must try.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hershey's Bliss- Raspberry Meltaway Centers

From what I have been able to tell this particular type of Bliss is like the Loch Ness Monster of the Bliss line
It was long fabled to exist but it took forever to actually find. I am not sure if the actual Loch Ness Monster really exists but I have actually eaten the Raspberry Bliss so I can say that they are real.

I have not always been kind to Hershey's and the Bliss line in particular has not been on my favorites list. Prepare to be shocked but I actually liked the Raspberry Bliss!

Yes, the chocolate is still on the sweet side but they did perfect the melt so that it is smooth and creamy. Let's be honest, it is at the end of the day just Hershey's chocolate and there is only so much that can be said about it.

The raspberry creme center is smooth and fluffy and pairs with the milk chocolate really well. The flavor of the creme is clearly in artificial raspberry but it is close enough that you can still tell that there is a trace of real raspberry in there somewhere.

For a mass market chocolate it is pretty good. Admittedly the bag is long gone at Gigi's house. If you are able to find a bag give them a try!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Archer Farms Four Cheese Risotto

Ok, maybe it is time to admit one of my deep dark secrets...
I am one of those people who screw up Minute Rice. Yeah, I know I don't know how I pull that one off either.

I love Risotto but am too intimated to try making it from scratch myself.
Trolling through Target I saw Archer Farms version I decided it was worth a try (especially at under $3.00!)

To be safe I had someone who can handle making instant rice make it.

Well the box says that the rice in question is "superfino Arborio rice" it is thicker and more "Classic White Rice" like like a traditional risotto. Even though it was reasonably tender if you eat more then a few (and I mean a few) grains at once they become gummy in your mouth.

The four cheese sauce, made up of Parmesan, Gorgonzola, Romano and Fontina cheeses is satisfyingly tangy and cheesy. It is on the salty side, but truth be told I like my cheese sauces salty. Is this authentic?- no, but the sauce it's self on better rice could be quite good.

Again, for a reasonably cheap dish it's not bad (it's not great either though) but this will never be my risotto of choice.


Trader Joe's Mini Raspberry Jelly Donuts

I was wondering Trader Joe's and I saw these donuts for the first time.

I'm not sure if they are a new product or if I just hadn't noticed them before but into my basket they went.

All you do is leave the amount of mini donuts you want in a sitting out for about 30 minutes and then microwave them for about 30 seconds. What you get after that is a warn and sweet smelling teeny, tiny jelly filled donuts.

The other part of the donut looks lightly fried. The insides are soft and a little greasy. There is not really much flavor to the pastry. It's not bad but it is just sort of there.

The jelly I liked, there is not much jelly in the donuts but whats there is nice and sour- which is how I prefer my jelly/jam and it does taste like real raspberry, rather then something that is raspberry flavored.

Over all these weren't the most outstanding of Trader Joe's offerings but it was interesting and worth trying.

Trader Joe's

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reese's Peanut Butter Bar

I am just guessing that "peanut butter bar" is the name of this bar because there is no name on it!
Maybe the people over at Reese's figured they didn't need to name it. Maybe they thought just slapping the Reese's name on it was enough. At least I am not alone in thinking that. The always fab Cybele recently reviewed the bar (read her review- with MUCH better photo's then mine HERE).

When it comes to my Reese's products I tend to prefer a higher peanut butter to chocolate ratio- example I love the Reese's egg's at Easter. Looking at this bar before trying it got the impression that there was going to be way too much chocolate to peanut for my taste... and I was right.

The bar is segmented into easy to break off squares. The chocolate is roughly double that of the standard Reese's cup. While the peanut butter is roughly half as much as normal. The chocolate is the too sweet milk chocolate that again I can take in small quantities. The peanut butter is a the classic crumbly, slightly salty, yet cream peanut butter we all know and love from Reese's.

This is one of those products that I am more or less indifferent towards. I would never pick this over the cup version but if I just had to have Reese's I would begrudgingly get it. Other then the product being out there simply for the sake of having another Reese's branded product on the shelf I don't really see a point for it.

You can also check out Candy Yum Yum!'s review HERE


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Archer Farms Wasabi Soy Almonds

I have been on a nut kick lately. Mostly my obsession has been with roasted almonds
Wandering through Target the other day I saw these Wasabi Soy Almonds. Sitting here on my couch watching "True Blood" sounded like a good time to try them out.

The almonds are coated in a mixture of powdered soy sauce, wasabi and other spices including garlic and oddly enough spinach powder (ok...) now they we know whatthey are made of how do they taste?

Addicting! depending on how the coating is attached to the almond some times the first thing you taste is the spicy heat of the wasabi. On other nuts sometimes you get the salty soy sauce first. They are just the perfect mix of hot, salty and crunch.

I found myself wishing I had a cold beer to go with them. I also couldn't help but wonder how they would be chopped up and mixed into a green tea ice cream.

These are a great snack.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Yoplait Light- Pineapple Upside Down Cake Yogurt

Yes, I am on a yogurt kick again!
I tend to stay away from pineapple flavored items. The flavoring always either seems too sweet for me or it has this weird almost powdered texture. But I was intrigued by the dessert type flavor of this yogurt and gave it a try.

Honestly, I don't think I have had pineapple upside down cake more then twice in my life. No reason, it was just not a big thing in my household. But I love the idea of it. Crunchy topping, sweet bottom- Yum!

The base of the yogurt is a sweet vanilla that almost tastes like cake batter. There is definitely brown sugar flavoring. And there are small chunks of pineapple mixed in.

I could see where this would easily satisfy my sweet tooth- and at only 110 calories per cup it's a lot of bang for the bucks.

This was really good and has been added to my staples list.

Albertsons Supermarket

Hotel Chocolat Caramellow

First I must express my thanks to the very kind Nicki with Hotel Chocolat.
Getting this bar to me was no easy task and her patience, humor and persistence were greatly appreciated.

I also need to give a shout out to Jim of Jim's Chocolate Mission back in August he did a review of this bar (which you can read HERE) I knew then that I had to try it for myself.

The Caramellow slab is made up of milk chocolate, caramel, caramel drops, cinder toffee and Florentine squares. Let me tell you the photo's do not do the bar justice.

Food porn aside let's talk about taste.
OMG! first, the milk chocolate is very creamy, with strong dairy notes. It's not too sweet. The melt was smooth and rich.

The baby caramel drops not only make the bar look great but they bring a deep buttery sweetness to the bar- without being sticky or taking away from the creamy texture. The toffee bits add a nice crunch and the Florentine squares brought with them the warm hazelnut tones that only add's to the overall greatness of the bar- I had been worried that they might bring a stronger Nutella type flavor that would overwhelm the rest of the bar but that was not the case.

I have on occasion compared things I really loved to being "Clive Owen naked good" I liked this bar so much that I don't think that goes far enough. No, this is more like "Stephen Colbert has finally excepted my proposal" good

(hm... wonder if I could get Stephen and the Caramellow bar in the same room?...)

I could go on but I need to stop before both Stephen and Hotel Chocolat get restraining orders. In any case this slab get's the elusive 11!

Sample From Company

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cafe- Tasse Noir Orange

When I got this bar it was several months ago at my Local World Market
We all know I am obsessed with chocolate and orange together and that was what drove me to buy this bar. It wasn't until today when I was trying to do a little research to write this review that I learned more about Cafe-Tasse. One long look through they're website left me drooling and wondering what took me so long to dig this bar out of my stash.

Cafe-Tasse are makers of Belgian chocolate and they are dedicated to making high quality chocolate with traditional techniques.

The Noir Orange bar is a 54% dark chocolate with pieces of candied Spanish orange pieces.

Each bar is long and thick, separated into six segments.

As soon as you open the kraft paper the orange oils waft out and say hi. And that my friends is just a sign of the good things to come.

The segments break with a nice snap. Waiting just under the thick top coating of chocolate lay a layer of candied orange pieces. Each piece is just a teeny, tiny pebble but those pebbles are soft taste as good as they smell. Sometimes candied oranges can be rubbery or just bitter and hard but these should be held as the gold standard. If only all candied fruit was this good!

The chocolate has a surprisingly creamy melt for a 54% dark chocolate. It stayed true to a mildly dark chocolate and was neither too sweet nor too bitter. There are some nice woodsy notes.

If the rest of the line is as good as this bar I may have a new favorite brand!

Cost Plus World Market

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Red Bull Cola

I have been waiting for this to hit stores in SoCal since I saw billboards for it in Las Vegas in June (WHY did I not pick some up then?!)
What has me so intrigued by Red Bull Cola is that it is free of preservatives, mystery chemicals and features all natural ingredients and flavors. In fact, all of the ingredients are on the can and are easily pronounced! AND it contains REAL sugar and not HFCS (much like Jones Soda products)

AND the cola flavoring comes from both the Kola nut and the Coca leaf.
So how did this 12 ounce can of wonderful actually fare?

First the smell. It's spicy- woodsy even (which sounds weird if you compare it to the big 2 colas)

The carbonation is very light but it could still be called bubbly.
I have to say the first word that came to mind with the flavor was "complex". You can pick up the heat from the ginger, the licorice is one of the first flavors you taste and that blends into the lemon. It starts bitter and ends sweet, well that doesn't really explain it either, not so much sweet but less bitter.

What I did not like about it is the after taste. If you are into herbal, bitterness then you probably would love it. I am kind of a sissy for that stuff so it was not a selling point for me.

If this is how "real" cola is supposed to taste then it truly shows Coke and Pepsi's versions to be the red headed stepchild that they may be.

However, as an actual real life red headed stepchild myself, I have to admit that my heart still belongs to Kosher for Passover Coke (AKA Coke with pure cane sugar) and for my daily drinking Coke Zero.

True Cola fans and those who try to keep their diet as natural as possible should not miss this.

Jay's Shell Station Monrovia, Ca

Friday, October 10, 2008

See's Scotchmallow Bar

Is there a way to make caramel and marshmallow better?
As a matter of fact the answer is YES!

Try adding just a touch of honey. The See's Scotchmallow bar and individual piece of candy is milk chocolate drenched honey marshmallow with a thick ribbon of caramel.

Once again, the milk chocolate is classic See's. Creamy and strong on the dairy. The marshmallow is the part I love the most. There is a good half inch of marshmallow! it's smooth and soft, the honey comes right through but is not so strong that it reminds you of cough drops. And let us not forget the caramel, it's buttery and sticks to the roof of your mouth (in a good way) If you have ever heard the Suzanne Vega song "Caramel" I think it may have been this caramel that she was referring to.

This is one of those candies that I can't stop saying good things about.

See's Candy

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ben & Jerry's Willie Nelson's Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream

Does this flavor win the prize for longest flavor name ever or what?
So was the ice cream worth typing all of that out?... kinda.

The ice cream is made up of a peach base ice cream with chunks of short bread, big pieces of peaches and a cinnamon swirl that is also made up of heavy peach syrup.

The ice cream it's self is good enough that even without the shortbread and chunks it would be good one it's own. It's just peachy enough that you know for sure that it's peach flavored but not so strong that it tastes fake.
The shortbread pieces are flaky and soft. The cinnamon is on the light side.

Sadly, the only part that I didn't like was the heavy peach syrup. Texture-wise it had all the qualities a great swirl should, it was dense and thick and (in theory anyway) complimented the main flavor. The problem was that it has a strong almost floral quality to it. To put it bluntly it was like eating air freshener. That I could have lived without.

All in all it, was pretty good I just wish the swirl had been better.

Albertsons Supermarket

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

See's Milk Bordeaux Bar

See's Candies are one of those things about California that I didn't realize I would miss until after I had been gone.
While sadly for the those of you not on the West Coast or the couple of Mid-West states that have full blown See's stores to get your fix you either have to order online or wait until around the holidays when most malls get a kiosk location. The Kiosks sadly do not carry the full range of See's products but they do feature some of the best sellers and thanks to that I had been able to get my fix for one of my most beloved See's candy; the Bordeaux bar.

Both the Bordeaux bar and it's smaller individual single bite piece is a brown sugar buttercream that is enrobed in a thick coating of milk chocolate and covered in chocolate sprinkles. Really how hard would this have to try to not be good?

From the moment it's in your mouth it starts melting in a warm river of milky goodness. There is a really strong dairy component to the chocolate. The Brown Sugar buttercream is smooth and sweet- almost like a eating a pinch of soft brown sugar. But at the same time it is not so sweet that it causes your teeth to ache.

I am noit a huge fan of buttercream filled candy but I love these.

See's Candy

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

First Blush Cabernet White Juice + Tea

A few days ago I reviewed First Blush Chardonnay juice. And while I loved the idea, the juice it's self left a lot to be desired.
Regardless I had a bottle of the Cabernet white juice & tea and I vowed to give it a try. So I despite not liking the first bottle I tried to go into the Cabernet with an open mind.

This bottle is the Cabernet White Tea. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Cabernet grape juice mixed with white tea.

First the smell. I did not take it as a good sign that the drink smelled like a cross between tomato juice and prunes. Both things I like on they're own but not so much together.

Fortunately, the taste was about a 100 times better then the smell. The grape portion reminded me of plump red grapes and the tea adds a nice balance, keeping the grape from being too bitter (there is no added sugar) or too bland. It was clean and refreshing. There was almost a floral aftertaste to it.

I loved this tea. I liked it enough to what to give the other reds in the line a try.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Total Cinnamon Crunch Cereal

As we all know if a company makes a new cinnamon cereal I WILL be buying it.
So the first time I saw Total Cinnamon Crunch at the store I grabbed it.

The cereal it's self is made up of thick little squires made of wheat and rice and sweetened with just a touch of cinnamon. How could that not taste good?

And you know what?, it DID taste good! I think the easiest way to describe Total Cinnamon Crunch is to tell you that it both tastes and resembles a grown up version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (and since they are both made by General Mills it's not a big stretch) Unlike Cinnamon Toast Crunches lighter almost hollow squares, Total Cinnamon Crunch squares are slightly smaller but much more dense- and that means they are more filling. And let's face it sadly, on my average day I don't have time to eat multiple bowls of cereal I need more bang for my buck (so to speak) and that one bowl was satisfyingly filling.

I also liked that while the cereal was sweet it wasn't as sweet as Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It also had a nice warm touch of cinnamon but it wasn't over powering. All around this was just a good cereal. I have always liked Total flakes and while this is the first of the new expanded flavors in the line that I have tried it has made me want to try the others.

Albertsons Supermarket

Dreyer's Pumpkin Ice Cream Limited Edition

I told you guys I love pumpkin!
I still remember my first scoop of pumpkin ice cream it was roughly 1986 and it was at Baskin Robbins. Since then it has become a yearly traditon.

This year I picked up a container of Dreyer's (Edy's for those of you back east).
While the ice cream it's self is more airated and not as creamy as I prefer my ice cream to be (Haagen Daazs has spoiled me) what they lacked in mouthfeel they more then made up for in flavor.

The flavor certainly has a heart pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg what I like most about it is that the pumpkin it's self is what really stands out. If you have ever eaten pumpkin puree straight from the can (What?! I can't possibly have been the only one) this ice cream tastes as close to that as possible. It's warm and spicy but there is a distinct squashy quality to it.

If you have never had pumpkin ice cream before this is a good place to start.

Albertsons Supermarket

Sunday, October 5, 2008

BlueBerry Pop Tarts

Pop Tarts. Has there ever been a better vehicle for thin frosting and somewhat real fruit filling?

No, no there has not.
Much like the long time feud between Barry Manilow fans and Neil Diamond fans, there is a similar school of thought with Pop Tart eaters. You either like them hot and toasty or straight from the box. I am a straight from the box eater.

I love the blueberry tarts. The blueberry filling is tart without being bitter. But at the same time it is not so sweet that it is not believable as once having been real fruit. I seem to remember the frosting on top being thicker in the old days and having real sprinkles rather then what appears to be faux sprinkles on the top. But that's ok. As I get older I should probably eat less frosting anyway.
The pastry was also soft and tender and relatively flavorless- but why get in the way of the sugar.

While I am sure there are certainly better breakfast foods out there these will always be one of my favorites.
Albertsons Supermarket

Saturday, October 4, 2008

First Blush Chardonnay Juice

Juice made with wine grapes!

Way, way, back about a million years ago when Gigi was but a wee loud, obnoxious kid (shocking that she grew up to be a loud, obnoxious adult isn't it?!) we had a family friend that made his own wine. And he often had grapes around that he would let us kids snack on. I couldn't begin to even guess what kind of wine grapes they were- about all I remember is that they were both red and white, as he made red and white wines. But, I can tell you that I loved to eat the grapes.
They were sweet and yet a little bigger. They had seeds in them (which I did not like) and the red grapes tended to stain. I remember that during the summer they would freeze some and use them as ice for the wine (what is it with Italians and red wine with ice?!- I swear at least half my family does it)

First Blush Juices are made with wine grapes, yet they are free of alcohol, added sugars and preservatives and they are caffeine free (but I won't hold that against them) and they are also high in antioxidants. All this reminiscing and blurbing is great but how does it taste?

I started with the Chardonnay because it has been hotter then hell here this past week (it's been in the 90's!) and I wanted something light and crisp.

Smelling the juice it smells more like classic white grape juice then chardonnay.
The first taste... It lacks the sweetness of white grape juice. I can tell that there are some apple and peach notes. But that doesn't change the fact that the main thing it reminded me of was honey cough drops and morning breath. Oddly enough not the best combo ever. A saving grace maybe that I did notice as the juice came to room temp it tasted less nasty and more like regular grape juice.

I loved the idea of this juice and I am going to try the reds- the chardonnay just did nothing for me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses- Limited Edition

The Halloween/Fall candy is being rolled out!!
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. How do you not love a holiday that tied to candy?

One of the things I love best about this blog is also having an excuse to try every new candy that comes out. I am also one of those people that LOVE the fact that fall brings with it everything and anything pumpkin flavored. Pumpkin ale, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie- heck even pumpkin seeds. You get my point I really like pumpkin.

So I couldn't wait to try one of this years special Hershey's Kisses; Pumpkin Spice.

These kisses are one of the "creme" style kisses rather then a chocolate based kiss. As soon as you open the bag you get a strong wiff of spicy pumpkin.

Once you put the soft kiss in your mouth you get the warm tastes of nutmeg and cinnamon. It tastes like pumpkin pie in the best possible ways. The kisses are on the softer then most kisses tend to be but that just means that they start to melt almost instantly once they are in your mouth.

The only thing these kisses are missing is a dollop of whip cream!