Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kosher Macaroons (Manischewitz and Streit's)

There apparently are several types of cookies that can be referred to as macaroons. But as best I could tell, the two most popular are the coconut/almond based macaroon and the also almond-based (and pronounced the same way) French-style Macaron. Truth be told, not exactly being coconut's biggest fan myself (and the fact that the French style kick serious butt), I am firmly planted in the camp of the French version. But even with the coconut, I do have a soft spot for the Passover style macaroons -- but only the commercially pre-made kind. I know that is wrong on at least 20 different levels, but it's true.

Maybe it's because the canisters that they are sold in are so well-sealed that the macaroons stay nice and moist. (Maybe forever?) Conversely, the homemade or even bakery versions I have had tended to be on the dry side.

There are literally dozens of versions out there, but I picked up two of my favorite flavors. We have the ever popular Manischewitz brand with their version of almond, and then we have Streit's chocolate. We'll start with Manischewitz...

Manischewitz Almond Macaroons:

I like almost any baked good that uses almond paste (or almond flour) as a rule. And I love the smell when you open the seal on these. It's like concentrated marzipan.

Each Macaroon is about the size of a U.S. quarter coin in diameter, only puffy. The tops are nicely browned.

Each macaroon is super soft and moist (but not greasy). There is a slight crunch from the coconut...but not so much that even a coconut hater like me objects.

The taste is a combination of sweet almond (with that slight cherry taste that almond has) and a tiny bit of coconut. I really loved these. If you have never had a macaroon before, this is the one I would start with.


Vons Supermarket




100 calories per 2 macaroons.


Parve, kosher, trans-fat, contains coconut, egg, and wheat.


Streit's Chocolate Macaroons:

Streit's macaroons are slightly wider (closer to a half-dollar size), but more dense than the Manischewitz.

Opening the container you get the classic smell of the combination of coconut and chocolate.

Streit's is another company that has been making fantastic Jewish food products since roughly the dawn of time (well, 1925). To put it into more mainstream context: if Manischewitz is like Coke and Kedem is Pepsi, then Streit's is the Dr. Pepper.

Streit's is also the brand of macaroons whose chocolate flavor I like the most.

The bite on these macaroons is just as moist as the Manischewitz -- but there is a stronger sense of coconut. Texture-wise I am going to give the advantage to the almond Manischewitz. They are a little more crunchy -- by which I mean crunchy in the fibery sense, rather than like a potato chip (or like raw coconut).

The flavor is very much a fudgy cocoa type of chocolate rather than a milk chocolate. It's almost got the slight bitterness to it that actual cocoa powder has. The coconut flavor is there, but it's not so strong that it makes you think you're eating some sort of Mounds cookie (although I know there are people who would kill for that).

Admittedly, side by side, I give the Manischewitz almond the edge because of my love of marzipan. But if you prefer chocolate, you should definitely try the Streit's.

Vons Supermarket




100 calories per 2 macaroons.


Contains eggs and nuts, sulfite free, gluten free, kosher, parve.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Manischewitz Gefilte Fish in Liquid Broth

Since today is the first day of actual day of Passover (as I said in the introduction to "Kosher for Passover Week," because of the way the date fell, I took some liberties time-wise), I thought today was fitting to present you with one of the few foods for Passover or otherwise that I personally will pass over.

Gefilte fish is a type of patty or ball made up of the mashed meat of various fishes, matzoh meal (think bread crumbs made of matzoh), and egg whites. There are different ways to serve it, and there are different versions. Some versions are sweetened, some are not, some are in broth, some are firmer and served sliced. Sometimes there is skin, sometimes not.

I have personally never met a gefilte fish I liked. I know that right now many people are probably aghast, but I'm sorry, I just can't do it. I would rather eat cat food -- wet style cat food -- as I am convinced that it would taste better than gefilte fish.

Now after all of that, and knowing my personal stance about not reviewing items that I know I won't like, because I feel that it would be unfair to both the product and the readers, you must be wondering: Do I have a gefilte fish review up anyway?

Yes. I do. But I have not gone back on my principles. As much as I personally dislike gefilte fish, the reality is that for many people, not having it at a Seder would be akin to not having pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Or worse. So I am doing something that I do not as a rule do -- I am handing over the reins of the review to someone who actually does like gefilte fish.

Chris, in addition to (sort of) sparing you all from my otherwise strange punctuation and anarchic spelling, taking the photos for the reviews and doing all the special pictures and graphics, is earning his keep today by reviewing this jar of Manischewitz Gefilte Fish in Liquid Broth. All of the thoughts below and the rating reflect his thoughts and tastes, not mine. (I think I made my thoughts pretty clear.) So, with that...

Yes, I do like gefilte fish. I have to admit that I am somewhat spoiled in this regard, as most of the Seders I have attended in the past featured gefilte fish that was actually homemade...and delicious. I have also had ready-to-eat gefilte fish, of varying quality, though so far not including Manischewitz.

But, since Manischewitz is the far and away the King Kong Bundy of the American kosher food industry, Gigi and I thought it appropriate that I should finally get around to trying their product.

Manischewitz Gefilte Fish is made with mild, white-fleshed fish -- specifically, carp, mullet, whitefish, and pike. You would think that such a blend wouldn't smell terribly "fishy," but you'd be wrong. As soon as you open the jar, the fish odor just about knocks you over. As Gigi suggested, it's reminiscent of wet cat food.

Of course, sometimes things smell a lot stronger than they taste. Heck, some things taste pretty good while smelling horrible. (Durian comes to mind -- and, as with gefilte fish, it is something I rather like, but Gigi doesn't. So in the unlikely event that a durian product is ever featured here, I'll be the one reviewing it.) And for the sake of the review, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt...

Well, they certainly looked decent, cute little fish croquettes sitting there on a plate with a small glass dish of prepared horseradish on the side. And I have to say they sliced beautifully. The texture is as even as you could wish for; smooth and soft but not crumbly. There are no stray pieces of cartilage, bone, or any unidentifiable tough bits.

I just wish they'd tasted even remotely as good as they looked. But they tasted every bit as strong as they smelled. I tried them solo, and I tried them glopped with the horseradish. It was only with generous amounts of horseradish that I found them somewhat passable. I am willing to admit that this may just be me, as I do not like strongly flavored fish. If you're planning to serve salmon or mackerel, for instance, don't invite me to dinner. But I wouldn't have expected the above-described fish blend to be so potent. Either way, I didn't finish them. I suppose I could have under duress, but it sure wouldn't have been a labor of love.

I had a friend, years ago, who used to make a spread out of gefilte fish, sour cream, and horseradish. She would smear it on black bread, sometimes with a thin slice of red onion on top. Its charms eluded me, as I detest most forms of sour cream, but I can assure you that among our circle it had its fans. The only criticism people occasionally made was that sometimes the gefilte fish just wasn't quite as assertive against the other ingredients as they would have liked. I don't remember what brand she used; but in retrospect, maybe she should have tried Manischewitz.

About all I can say is that if you prefer a "fishier" tasting gefilte fish, you may find the Manischewitz brand quite good. It certainly didn't appeal to me.

Yes, I like gefilte fish. I just don't like this gefilte fish.


Albertsons Supermarket




70 calories per piece.


Contains fish, eggs, and wheat. Dairy free. Kosher.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Savion Fancy Fruit Flavored Slices

I have always been indifferent to the allure of the fruit sliced jelly candies. I don't dislike them, but I certainly don't go out of my way for them. In fact this is the only box I think I have ever purchased specifically for myself.

But they always seem to be present at a Passover Seder. I understood, from an ingredients standpoint, why the candy is a popular Passover treat. It's sweet, and contains no chometz. It's not that they don't taste good enough; it's just that I just wanted to know why they were so popular.

As I sadly have no wise and all-knowing bubbe to ask, I turned to the warm, loving arms of Google.

According to several different blogs -- though no real reference site like, etc -- the reason that jelly candies are so popular with American Jews is that they stem from the preserves and candied fruit slices traditional in their ancestral lands of Russia or Eastern Europe. Heck, it makes sense to me.

I know that the kosher foods giant Manischewitz makes what is, at the very least, the most commonly available version...and wouldn't you know it, my local store didn't have them. Not figuring that I would eventually have to make a trip to Gelson's market (which is a fantastic Jewish-oriented store for many reasons, but unfortunately not close to me), I settled for what my local store did have...

...And that would be the box in front of us. Savion may not have its own website, but it is apparently a part of the Kedem food products empire. (Kedem is another huge name in the world of kosher foods -- sort of the Pepsi to Manischewitz's Coke)

There are four flavors of fruit slices:
Bet you can't guess which is which.

Each slice is about two inches across at the widest point. The slices are sprinkled with coarse sugar. The colors are all bright and the jelly is clear. The outer crusts of the slices may feel dry and sandy from the sugar, but the inner jelly is moist and slightly sticky. The texture is the same on all, so we'll just talk about the flavors individually.


It can't help but be sweet from all the sugar, but it also has a great zesty zing. The flavor is one of the most natural lemon flavors I have ever had. It's sour, but it avoids that foul aftertaste that fake lemonades can have. It's almost as if they'd made candy from those little plastic bottles of lemon juice. You know, the ones that almost-but-not-quite taste like fresh squeezed?

Anyway, this was a great flavor and I would buy it on its own.


Lime always seems to be the hardest citrus flavor to pull off. If done right, it's reasonably close to the real thing. If done wrong, they taste the way lime-scented household cleaners smell.

All I am going to say on this one is that I suddenly feel like mopping.


If lime is the hardest citrus to pull off, then orange is the easiest.

Let's be fair -- even the worst orange isn't all that bad. This one is just sort of there. It's not bad, it's not good. It simply exists.

It's a little too sweet, yet also bitter in a non-natural way that somehow doesn't offset the sugar. There is some zest to it once you get all the sugar off. Again it's not bad, but there are far better version out there.


This was a tough one. The very first taste was good. It was a tangy cherry that reminded me of the best part of fruit punch...

...and then the unwelcome bitter aftertaste of the red dye wormed its way in. I personally couldn't get past the taste of the dye.

Bottom line: the lemon is actually pretty good, but the same can't be said of the other flavors. As stated above, I'd happily buy the lemon ones again if they were sold alone. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be an option.


Vons Supermarket




140 calories per 3 pieces.


Kosher, parve, fat free.


None for Savion specifically, but their parent company is at

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine

This may be the post that finally causes my mother to board a plane from Atlanta to Los Angeles, for the sole purpose of coming to my house so she can slap me upside the head...

Wine is an important part of many meals, and the Seder dinner is no exception. The beginning of the meal starts with the kiddush, and during that a blessing is said over wine. The wine itself must, of course, be not only kosher but -- you guessed it -- kosher for Passover.

There are many, many kosher wines out there, and from what I have heard, some of them (I cannot say which, as I have not actually had them) are quite good. I went with Manischewitz because it is the brand that is most commonly found in American supermarkets, and also it's the subject of many a bad joke (which appeals to my warped sense of humor). It is also the wine that was used at my family's Passover dinners...and here's where my mother pulls out the whacking stick...

I should mention that my mother is not Jewish. Her roots are Italian and Albanian, and her religious affiliation -- on paper, at least -- is Roman Catholic. But she married into a Jewish family, and for her first big Passover Seder she decided to go with a combo of yummy homemade items, which naturally included our favorite honey-baked ham!

No, I am not making that up just for shock value. Yes, she really fed pork to Jews, and on Passover, no less. And no, she didn't do it out of some sick sort of latent anti-Semitism, either. She honestly figured that since she loves honey-baked ham so much, why wouldn't everyone else?

To be fair, though -- and thank G-d! -- that side of the family is very secular. They're pretty much the Jewish equivalent of the "holiday Catholics" that our side is, really only doing the bare minimum of observation, and even that just for the Jewish holidays. None of them keep kosher, and rest assured no one was offended. (Although my mother's embarrassment was...well, I can only leave you to imagine.)

The family's then-rabbi was invited to the next Seder the following night. (I don't know why exactly, but my mother did Seders two nights in a row.) For obvious reasons the ham was kept off this dinner's menu, but the Manischewitz wine was in attendance -- as was my then six-year-old stepbrother, who was raised Jewish.

Unnoticed by the adults, said stepbrother had grabbed of one of the many bottles of Manischewitz on the table. You see, he really loved grape juice. And he had been drinking a lot of the also-plentiful Kedem brand kosher grape juice...which looks just like wine when poured into a glass...and of course the Manischewitz has those gorgeous Concord grapes on the label...well, you can see where this is going, can't you?

It became clear when he passed out in front of the rabbi that he had been drinking something other than the Kedem. Yeah, I know it probably should have been more obvious, but when you have a pack of rowdy, loud, giggling six-year-olds running wild in the house, it can be hard to notice when one of them is a little more "off" than the others -- especially if that one tended to be the ringleader anyway. It has been something we have brought up ever since. And no, my mother has never again served ham at a Seder -- I think more out of hoping to hear the eventual end of it, rather than adding a second helping, so to speak.

Anyway, now that I am clearly out of the will...

I got my own bottle of Manischewitz. They make Concord grape, white grape, cherry, and black currant versions. We always had the Concord grape, so that is what I am using. (Though Googling has shown me that the Black Currant may actually be more popular.)

I also went with it chilled. Yes, it is a red wine, but that's the only way I have ever had it. I don't know if that is how it is best served, or if it is simply a preference that I have gotten used to.

It looks more like grape juice than actual wine to me. I am by no means a wine expert, but it seems thinner in body and more frothy than, let's say, a glass of Pinot Noir (my red of choice).

It smells vaguely wine-like. I say "vaguely," because it smells too sweet; more like store brand made-from-concentrate grape juice, or maybe a very cheap wine that Kool Aid mix was added to.

So how does it taste?

It tastes like purple! And what I mean by that is that it's like every other purple grape juice on the planet. Then add Dimetapp to it and toss in a healthy cup or two of sugar. If you have ever tasted Drank, you've got the idea. As a wine, it's perfectly dreadful. But as just some sort of a sweet grape drink (albeit with alcohol), that's another story. In fact, if you take the concept of the drink actually being wine out of the equation, it's really not horrible at all. It's one of those things that are so bad they're kind of good.

Again, I will be the first to admit that there are far more sophisticated kosher wines out there. But it would almost be a disservice to ignore this old and popular holiday staple.


Gelson's Market



OFFICIAL WEBSITE: (Cookies must be enabled.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chocolate Covered Matzoh

Matzoh is arguably the most important food item when it comes to Passover, and it seemed only fitting to kick off Kosher Week with matzoh. Plain matzoh is eaten several times over the Seder dinner during the ritual portions of the meal (for a pretty good explanation on the order in which the Seder proceeds, check out this link).

Matah comes in several savory flavors -- although I am partial to "plain," which is sort of like a less salty version of a saltine cracker.

But one of the special things that make an appearance in mainstream stores at Passover time (and if it's a good store, Chanukkah as well) is chocolate covered matzoh! This is one of those items that, while it may not be part of the actual ceremonial portion of the dinner, always seems to be around as dessert or as a snack.

I got three different versions and opted to do it as one post, because there is just not enough that will really be different to warrant three separate reviews. But I will rate them and provide separate info for each.

Holiday Candies Milk Chocolate Covered Egg Matzoh:

Inside the box lay are large squares of milk chocolate covered matzoh (they are roughly 6" x 6"). The smell as you open the box is that of cheap Easter candy. Overly sweet and reeking of vanillin (which, not surprisingly,is exactly what is used). The chocolate is oily, and just on smell alone I was not looking forward to this one.

And sometimes first impressions are right on...

The chocolate is absolutely vile. Way too sweet, and yup, the fake vanilla dominates. And there is an odd, almost plastic-like aftertaste.

Worse yet, the matzoh itself was stale. The flavor was...well, I couldn't tell you, because the chocolate is so strong. Pharaoh can have these, because I don't want them!


Albertsons Supermarket




160 calories per 1/3 piece (or 33 grams).


Made on equipment shared with soy, tree nuts, and peanuts. Kosher, dairy.



Osem Israeli Matzah Raspberry Flavored Chocolate Coated Matzah:

These matzohs have a dark chocolate base, and come in several sheets that are longer but thinner than the Holiday Candies version (these are 7"x3.5"). Right out the box, they have a nice smell to them. They instantly reminded me of raspberry jelly roll candy.

The chocolate is quite bitter, and there is almost a floral/perfume taste to it. It smells a lot better than it tastes.

The matzoh itself is quite good. Crispy and fresh. I actually like the Osem brand plain matzoh on its own, so it's not a stretch that I'd like the base used here.

Bottom line: it's not as bad as some other chocolate covered matzoh I have reviewed, but I wouldn't call it good either.


Vons Supermarket




201 per 1 matzah.


Dairy free, parve, made in Israel. Kosher, Kosher for Passover.


Osem Israeli Matzah Orange Flavored Chocolate Covered Matzah:

Just like its raspberry flavored sibling, this is a dark chocolate covered matzoh. And again, like the raspberry sibling, it had the wonderful smell of a jelly candy.

This is hands down the best of the three. The orange is zesty and pairs well with the bitter chocolate. Again, the matzoh is crispy and fresh.

This particular one makes an addicting little snack, Passover or no.


Vons Supermarket




201 calories per 1 matzah.


Dairy free, parve, made in Israel. Kosher, Kosher for Passover.


Kosher for Passover Week

I've recently gotten a lot of requests to do a kosher week. Being the giver that I am, I of course agreed and set to work on planning one out. And since it is Passover time, I thought that I would do kosher week based around that.

For those of you who may not know what Passover is, it's an eight-day Jewish observance that commemorates the Jewish slaves who fled Egypt under the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. Honestly, the shortest, easiest way for me to explain Passover might be to suggest you go rent The Ten Commandments, skip to about the middle of the movie, and let Charlton Heston do all the heavy lifting -- but I am going to give this a shot anyway. I warn you in advance: I may not be 100% accurate on everything, and I am of course going to throw my own touch on things. For more detailed and in-depth info, I suggest speaking to a Jewish friend, your local rabbi, or checking out a site such as

Basically, after the Israelite slaves lived some pretty miserable lives (as we all know, slavery is not exactly a trip to Disney World), a Jewish man named Moses (played by good ol' Charlton Heston in the movie) -- much like the Blues Brothers many centuries later -- was given a mission from G-d. ("G-d" is not a typo, BTW: it is Jewish custom not to write out the name of God or the Lord in full, because if it is written it may also be destroyed, erased, etc. Thus it could possibly be considered to have taken the Lord's name in vain, which is forbidden by the Commandments. So, out of respect, I am keeping it real).

Moses was told that he should go to the Pharaoh and demand that his people be freed. Naturally, simply freeing the slaves would have been way too easy. There was a lot of back and forth between Moses and the Pharaoh that basically came down to this (with completely historically accurate dialog, I am sure)...

Moses: Let my people go!
Pharaoh: Yeah, nyuh-huh, I'm not really feeling that...
Moses: I'm asking nicely.
Pharaoh: Well then, I'll answer nicely...NO!
Moses: Yeah well, do it or you'll be sorry!
Pharaoh: What part of "NO!" didn't you understand, little man?
Moses: Do it or there is gonna be some serious smack laid down from above!
Pharaoh: Bring it!
Moses: Oh, it is on! It is on like Donkey Kong!

OK, OK, I Know they didn't have Donkey Kong 3,000 years ago. But in terms of video game technology ,it may as well be that old, so let's just pretend. Anyway, true to his word, G-d brought it on in the form of ten different plagues -- some seriously messed up, Life After People style plagues that included:

1. Blood
2. Frogs
3. Lice
4. Flies
5. Diseased cattle
6. Boils
7. Hail
8. Locusts
9. Darkness
10. Slaying of the first born

To protect them and to convince the Pharaoh to set them free, the Jews were told to mark their homes with lamb's blood so they wouldn't be afflicted. (They were also allowed to eat the meat of the lamb, but there were specific rules for it -- and it's best to Google that for yourself, or we will be here all of eight days.) This is actually how the holiday came to have its name, because the homes of the Jews were "passed over." Moses tried talking sense to the Pharaoh after each plague, but Pharaoh held his ground until the last one. By then, even he had had enough, and he finally agreed to let the slaves go...well, sort of.

Even so, the Jews had already learned the hard way that Pharaoh was about as nice a guy as Darth Vader, and probably about as trustworthy. Understandably, they didn't feel the need to hang around lest Pharaoh suddenly change his mind and go completely postal, so they got out while the getting was good. They left so fast that they didn't even bother to bake the bread that they'd prepared the dough for, instead opting to take it with them. During their journey they would bake the dough into thin crackers called matzohs. (And of course we still have matzohs today.)

Pharaoh, being the vindictive backstabber that he was, had his army follow the Jews across Egypt. They got as far as the Red Sea, and at that point the Jews were trapped. The Egyptians thought this thing was finally going to end in their flavor -- when there was a miracle. In the movie it appears as if G-d helps Moses to use The Force to part the Red Sea, the Jews crossed the over the exposed seabed, and Pharaoh's army stood there looking much like I assume we all would if a giant body of water had suddenly parted down the middle. The Jews safely crossed, the Red Sea become a solid body of water again, and the swelling waters quickly laid waste to Pharaoh's troops. (OK, OK, so officially it wasn't The Force that parted the water -- but you gotta admit my version sounds pretty cool.) The slaves realized at that point that they were truly free. The event is commemorated with an elaborate dinner called a Seder. (There are actually many events that go along with it, but we are going to concentrate on the dinner.)

A Seder has its own set of rules for what can and can't be eaten. First, before Passover commences, the house must be cleansed of all foods containing yeast (chometz). The chometz can be eaten before Passover begins, or can be given to non-Jewish friends. Or it can simply be burned. No yeasts or leavening can be eaten during Passover. (This is to commemorate the fact that the slaves fled with only unleavened dough). Of course, all of the food you could consume would be kosher (check out this link for an explanation of what kosher means). But because the holiday food additionally must not contain any chometz, anything consumed during Passover (assuming it's a commercially made product) must be specifically marked as "Kosher for Passover." Basically, think of it like this: Kosher for Passover compared to just kosher is like what Batman is to Bruce Wayne. They are both the same guy, but when he's Batman there is a little extra somethin' somethin'.

A Seder dinner actually has whats called a "Seder plate" of symbolic foods that are eaten in a specific order along the course of the meal. The items on a Seder plate are:
* Charoseth. A mix of chopped walnuts, wine, cinnamon and apples. Its purpose is to symbolize the mortar that the slaves made to make the Pharaoh's bricks. On a personal note, this is actually my favorite part of the plate. I have had some homemade versions that were excellent.

* Salted Parsley. This symbolizes the tears of the slaves, and also spring.

* Hard boiled egg. Spring once again.

* Shank bone. This represent the lambs that were sacrificed for their blood and their meat.

* Bitter herbs. Every Seder I have been to has served horseradish, although other bitter/pungent items are sometimes used instead. It symbolizes the bitterness of slavery.
My original thought had been to do reviews of the items on the Seder plate. But the items are pretty basic, and it's not like there are many shank bone goodies hanging around on store shelves. Instead, what I have decided to do is to focus on individual items that are commonly served at a Passover dinner, be it as a dessert, side item, or drink. All of the items are not only kosher, but are specifically kosher for Passover. I also tried to use things that are readily available nationwide (in the U.S. at least). I could have done more specialized items, but I wanted to be able to share some things that most people have probably at least heard of, if not seen or tried.

So with that, let's eat!

(And yes, I know Passover is actually the 30th, but we are taking some liberty time-wise.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sahale Snacks: Sing Buri Cashews

I love nut mixes. So it's always a treat when I find a mix that is a little out of the ordinary. Don't get me wrong -- I am a big fan of things as simple as "hot" style peanuts, but it is nice to get something special now and then.

Sahale Snacks actually offers several interesting mixes, and they were nice enough to send samples for me to opine on. I decided to start with the Sing Buri Cashews. In addition to the cashews, this mix also has pineapple, lemongrass, mild Chinese chili, sesame seeds, and peanuts. Sounds more exotic than simply "hot," doesn't it?

Each whole cashew is decently sized. Not the biggest cashews I have ever seen, but they are big enough. They are nicely coated in spices and sesame seeds. The smell is nutty and slightly sweet. As mentioned, there are also peanuts in the mix -- but surprisingly few of them. Not that I am complaining, because that means you're getting more cashews.

So how does it taste?

The easiest way to describe it is to say that they taste like cashews that have been lightly glazed in sweetened Sriracha sauce (you know, the one with the rooster on the label), but not quite as hot as that would probably be. It also tastes like there's a little ginger, though that might actually be the lemongrass. The sesame seeds add some texture and hint of nutty flavor.

The pineapple bits actually convey the heat of the chili more than the nuts do. The pineapple is sweet; little dried diced chunks that are also covered in spices and sesame.

I was hoping that these were going to be some seriously hot little cashews. They are not. Even chili wimps can eat them without fear. But despite the fact that the chili is not the heat packer I was hoping for, the nuts are in fact quite tasty. I also found myself digging through for the pineapple bits... and before I knew it, the bag was almost empty.

That's how you know you have a good snack -- when you just keep nibbling until there is nothing left.


Sample from company.


130 calories per 1/4 cup.


All natural, trans fat free. Contains peanuts, wheat and soy.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Haagen-Dazs Five: Lemon Ice Cream

This is first new flavor that Haagen-Dazs has added to the Five line since its creation in early 2009. The idea behind the Five line is that it's all natural and contains only five ingredients. Out of the original six flavors, Brown Sugar has been my favorite -- it seems to be the love-it-or-hate-it flavor, but to me it tastes like an ice cream version of Panda Licorice. And I can't help but love that.

I haven't been paying much attention to the Five line beyond that, because there had been nothing new added to it. But when I saw the word "Lemon," it screamed out "BUY ME!" And what sealed the deal was the fact that this is lemon ice cream, not sorbet. (Although I do love a good lemon sorbet, too.)

I don't know why more people don't love lemon the way I do. It's clean, it's refreshing. It must have been popular at some point. In fact, towards the end of the movie Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, when Baby Jane took her sister to the beach and got her an ice cream cone, one of the flavors offered was lemon. (It was a truly demented scene, and if you haven't seen the movie, you really should.)

The color of the ice cream is sort of an ivory white, with just the faintest hint of yellow. What's interesting is that when you see a bowl of white ice cream, your brain (well, my brain, at least) tells the mouth to expect the creamy sweetness of vanilla. But of course that's not what you're going to get this time.

No, instead, what you get is a vibrant, zesty lemon. It's like they took the best lemon curd in the world and made ice cream out of it. There is just enough sweetness to the flavor that it keeps the ice cream from becoming puckering sour. It's incredibly refreshing...and addicting.

If you look closely there are even little teeny, tiny bits of lemon pulp. This is actually the only part I didn't like. It's not that the pulp bits don't taste good, it's just that the pieces throw the texture off. Beyond the bits, the ice cream is silky smooth and rich. Those little bits throw off the mouth feel. It's not enough to stop me from eating it, mind you -- but I think it would be better without them.

Pulp bits or no pulp bits, this is terrific stuff.


Albertsons Supermarket




210 per 1/2 cup serving.