Saturday, August 30, 2008

Signs: Regionalisms

Quick! What do you call a sandwich on a long roll filled with meat, cheese, veggies, and condiments?

If you said sub, grinder, hero, or one of the other regional names for such a sandwich, you're not from around these parts. It's called a hoagie in Philly, and I'm not from around these parts. I'm sure you can find past posts where I've flung around the word sub -- what I used to call these sandwiches.

It's funny how regionalisms rub off on you, whether you like it or not. Having lived in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Northern Delaware for the past six years, I now say hoagie instead of sub almost instinctively. This adjustment and change I don't mind so much.

I do wince when I say you guys instead of y'all, though. When I'm being proper and having a formal conversation with someone (work, meeting someone new), I say "you guys" about half of the time. "How are you guys doing?"

When I'm inebriated, excited, mad, or just plain comfortable, I fling y'all all over the place. I get a little accent, too, that entertains others. "How y'all doin'?"

As far as food regionalisms go, I'm in the soda camp (soda, pop, or coke). To me, soda means any carbonated, sugared beverage. Coke means any cola-flavored, carbonated, sugared beverage, be it a Pepsi, RC, or whatever. Not no ever, no way in hell, huh-uh would I ever use the word pop, though.

For the record, I say caramel, carra-mel (three syllables); and pecan, PEE-can.

What other food regionalisms can you think of? Has living in a different region of the US affected your speech?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Orbit Raspberry Mint Gum

Orbit Raspberry Mint

I'm a big fan of raspberries. That fruity bite that only raspberries can give is just awesome. I even like the seeds.

This flavor of Orbit, while lacking that real raspberry bite, is pretty good. I remember liking it more in the past than I did this time around, but this is another fruit/mint fusion gum. The flavor is understated, but that's probably good, because going into Blue Raspberry Blow Pop territory would just be too much.

The texture is good; I didn't have any complaints about it being too hard or too soft. The flavor hung around a pretty long time, which is typical of Orbit, but it did lose its flavor before my jaw started to get tired from chewing.

This one might just barely make the top 5. Maybe it's number 6. I'll have to think about it.


Orbit Website

Orbit Citrusmint Gum


I have a confession - I have now tried all 16 available flavors of Orbit. Soon, I will rank them. But first, I want to review some of my forgotten favorites, like Citrusmint.

This is probably where my taste for fruity/minty gum came from. Orbit Citrusmint. It doesn't get much better for me (although this is not my #1 Orbit gum), but if you're not into the fruit/mint combo, stay away.

It has a nice juicy start, then loses its initial juiciness, but the flavor does return and I found myself getting sick of chewing gum before the flavor disappeared. It tastes like a sweet orange juice with just a hint of lemon and maybe a little grapefruit, and it kind of reminds me of that canned Donald Duck juice I used to drink when I was younger. The mint isn't too strong here, it's more of a mild cooling sensation.

The texture is good, maybe a little too firm, but not unpleasant. I think Orbit gum can be a little inconsistent from piece to piece, some being harder than others (although I've only had the weird softness with the Pomegranate). All in all, a great gum. Definitely top 5.


Orbit Website

Thursday, August 28, 2008


This post on Utage, Delaware's first Japanese restaurant to serve sushi (1986!!), comes at either just the right time, or the worst time, depending on how you look at it.

Utage's last day of business is August 30. They plan to reopen at a different, undecided location sometime in the future.

So, this post is either a reminder to get your butt down there pronto for your last Utage fix (for a while), or this post will just taunt you with what you missed or will miss for some time.

I believe Utage was the second restaurant I dined at in Wilmington. Tucked in the corner of a strip mall bizarrely designed to look like Independence Hall (wrong city and state!) sits Wilmington's sushi forefather. Utage is a classic, sit-down Japanese restaurant with a small sushi bar and tables filled with diners who look like your parents -- not an after hours meat market like Wilmington's other favorite sushi restaurant. You go to Utage to eat, not to be seen. I hope Utage keeps their new digs that way.I started with miso soup. I know some people are picky about miso soup, but either I am not picky, or I have only had good miso soup. Utage's miso soup was just fine.Next up was a house special salad of two kinds of seaweed, daikon sprouts, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and vinegar dressing. Tangy and refreshing.I ordered the veggie sushi combo: oshinko roll, kappa roll, kanpyo roll, avocado nigiri, marinated mushroom gunkan-maki, cucumber nigiri, and sliced inari nigiri. I love to see the unexpected in veggie sushi, but Utage sticks with the classics. The sweet teriyaki marinated mushroom gunkan-maki is my favorite at Utage. My partner ordered kitsune soba, a big bowl full of soba noodles swimming in the most delicious, mildly sweet, and salty broth, topped with sweet fried tofu. I've never had this dish at Utage, and I fell in love with it. The broth is sublime. I would order the dish with fat udon noodles next time, though, simply because I like udon better than soba.

So, there you have it. Get on down there. Fast-like.

1601 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803 (for now)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baba Ganoush

It's eggplant season! How about some baba ganoush?

But first, let me warn you that there are going to be two camps with this recipe: you either love mayonnaise and are open-minded; or you hate mayonnaise and are going to call foul. Either way is cool, 'cause I love mayonnaise and am open-minded enough to accept mayonnaise-haters and nay-sayers.

If you haven't guessed already, there's mayonnaise in this baba ganoush recipe. Why would I do such a thing? Because I can suck down a tub of Sabra baba ganoush through pita straws faster than you can say falafel with all the works.Sabra's baba ganough is creamy, tangy, slightly sweet, and has no trace of bitterness from tahini which is usually in this Mediterranean roasted eggplant dip (tahini is my friend, but not my bff). I turned Sabra's container around to read the ingredients, and, who'd a thunk it, there's mayonnaise in there! No wonder I love the stuff.

You either like Sabra's or you don't; like tahini, or you don't; like mayonnaise or you dont. Such is life.

Going straight from Sabra's ingredient list (minus those weird words that don't reside in my kitchen), I tried to recreate Sabra's baba ganoush. Pretty close! Baba Ganoush

2 large Italian eggplants
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 -3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Half eggplants lengthwise, place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Cool until can be handled. Scrape out pulp from skin, and drain pulp in a colander for 10 minutes.
  • Add eggplant pulp, garlic, mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in food processor, and pulse a few times until blended. Transfer to a bowl, and serve.
  • Note - if using a mayonnaise with sugar in the ingredients, cut back or omit the sugar in the recipe.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Black Lab Breads

A visit to Black Lab Breads in Wilmington a few weeks ago to scout out buns for the Philly food blogger picnic reminded me of how good fresh baked bread is. Very good!

I was looking for a bun suitable for burgers, but did not want to buy the generic buns you find in grocery stores. I had heard good things about Black Lab, so made my first trip to the small bakery on Union St. in Little Italy.

The selection of breads behind the counter looked scrumptious, but nothing was suitable for burgers. I was told they had a rosemary, parsley, and black pepper brioche they bake on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that would fit the bill (my first visit was on Wednesday). So, when you go, note that the baked goods change daily.Bright and early Friday I was back to sample the brioche. Light and buttery with faint herbal flavors and a slightly stronger black pepper bite, I went into a daze of delight, and told them I'd take four dozen. Also, a dozen chewy ciabatta rolls for vegan carb loaders.

One snag -- if you want large quantities, you need to give them 48-hours advance notice so they can bake it specially for you. No prob. I was ahead of the game, so put in my order to be picked up on Sunday.

I also picked up a multi-grain sliced loaf for my work week lunches. Did I mention that fresh baked bread is awesome!The following week I did something I never do. I took a lunch break. And drove to Black Lab, and ate a slice of the lightest, freshest, eggplant and plum tomato topped focaccia I've ever had. It was $1.50! That's cheaper than most crappy slices of NY style pizza. Eggplant not your thing? They have other varieties to choose from.

Black Lab also has a small selection of pastries. Can you believe I didn't try any? Self control. I have it. But don't worry little pastries, I'll be back to eat you. My self control is fleeting.

Black Lab Breads
812 N. Union St., Wilmington, DE 19805
Wed.-Sat., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; closed Mon. & Tues.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Reese's S'mores


So this isn't really a real review, but I just wanted to share some classic summer eating. Before last weekend, I couldn't remember the last time I had s'mores, but it's been a while. I don't like marshmallows much, so I tend to avoid them. But every once in a while during the summer, I get the urge.

It had never occurred to me to put things other than chocolate bars into s'mores, but whoever thought of putting Reese's cups in them is my hero. The pictured s'more was delicious. My craving has been satisfied for this year.

Home Slice

Thursday evening I stopped by the grand opening of Home Slice, the new pizza jawn in Liberties Walk run by the same women who own A Full Plate Cafe. Hmm...I wonder if the A Full Plate staff will be making crank pizza delivery calls to their friends across the way?

The grand opening featured a live band, a fashion show, a drag show, and, of course, free slices of pizza!

Home Slice offers white and whole wheat pizza crust, and also traditional and vegan cheese. Score for the vegans!I'm most excited about the crazy, creative pizza creations like the Thai pizza I sampled on Thursday with coconut curry sauce, peanuts, broccoli, sweet peppers, and cheese. Yum! You gotta check in daily to see what craziness gets cooked up, since these pies aren't on the regular menu and change daily.

Cheesesteaks will also be on the menu -- regular, vegetarian, and vegan! I heard a mention of vegan Cheez Whiz. Score two for the vegans!I sampled the vegetarian cheesesteak, and it was delish with truly melded flavors throughout the mushroom studded tofu sandwich.

Home Slice is brand spankin' new, and is still tweaking their pizzas and menu to everyone's liking. Be sure to give them feedback so they can craft a most awesome menu. And if you love one of their crazy pizza creations, tell them; it might make it on to the regular menu.I wish Home Slice the best, and if the speed in which the pizza and cheesesteaks disappeared Thursday night is any indicator of the success to come -- six-foot cheesesteak gone in two minutes! -- they will do well.

Home Slice
1030 N. American St., Philadelphia, PA, 19123

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lotte Crunky

Lotte Crunky

Long before I knew much of anything about Japan or Japanese culture (and before I went there), I was a fan of Engrish. I had heard of Crunky (probably a variation on crunchy) for a while, and when my sister presented me with one, I was kind of excited to finally try it.

I might have had too high of expectations. First, I left it by my oven for a week and unfortunately, one corner bloomed a little bit. I don't know if that affected the rest of the bar at all, but it just wasn't that good. Maybe I just forgot that I'm not a huge fan of Krackel or Nestle Crunch, but I think those taste better than Crunky.

Lotte Crunky

The little bits of puffed whatever tasted burnt, and I know some people like that taste (my mom), it's not my favorite. The chocolate was good enough, but Lotte's chocolate just isn't as good as Meiji's, especially since this isn't one of their premium offerings. Other than that, it was very bland overall. The crispy bits only added a little bit of texture, and I wish they added some flavor other than "mildly charred."

For the record, there are some Lotte offerings that I do really enjoy, such as Koala's March.


Lotte Website (Japanese)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Devil's Den

This past Friday evening we stopped by Devil's Den, a relatively new (within the last year) pub-n-grub on 11th St. in South Philly. I had no idea what to expect, since the reviews of the food have been mixed to poor.

We sat at the bar in the main room. A fireplace divides the smaller dining area from the spacious, but cozy, main bar area. Even with a fireplace, Devil's Den lacks personality; it's just a nondescript, but nice, bar. On the plus side, the bar was full on Friday evening, but not obnoxiously full like so many other popular bars -- no shouting required to hear the person next to you!I asked the bartender to make me a girly drink of his choice (I always draw a blank when ordering drinks). He indulged my annoying request without one bit of 'tude. The bartender was a pleasure all night long - taking time to go to the kitchen and find out about the special, and generally just being more than a bartender. Oh, he made me a Cosmo with strawberry and basil infused vodka. Very good! I had to restrain myself from having a third.
I had the Hot Brie baguette sandwich with Brie, grapes, sliced apples and pears, and honey mustard drizzle. With hot in the name I was expecting melted Brie, but the Brie was not melted. My sandwich was cold, which made the baguette a bit too much to chew. Halfway through the sandwich I figured out that eating it open faced was much easier.

The honey mustard was the only ingredient that added any real flavor or kick to the sandwich, but by drizzling the plate with mustard and then setting the sandwich on top, the eater ends up with mustard all over their hands when they pick up the sandwich. Design flaw! Put the mustard in the sandwich or in a ramekin!

The accompanying salad was nothing but undressed mixed greens, and went untouched. Gotta have dressing if I'm gonna eat a pile of lettuce! The couple of thinly sliced homemade bread and butter pickles were a pleasant teaser.My partner ordered the veggie Monte Cristo from the specials board. This is the first time I've seen a vegetarian Monte Cristo in a restaurant since I discovered what they were. The sandwich was a fluffy twist of bread and cheese that tasted, oddly, like pepperoni pizza. We couldn't figure out where the pepperoni flavor was coming from, since our vision was impaired by low lighting. Also, most Monte Cristo sandwiches come with either maple syrup or jam, but Devil's Den skipped the sweet element of the sandwich. Everyone has their own version, I guess.

The Monte Cristo came with a side salad of microgreens, shaved fennel and pine nuts. Again, I don't think the salad was dressed. If it was, it was dressed very lightly, but at least the pine nuts and fennel gave the salad flavor. A cup of creamy, chunky, onion soup also came with the sandwich.

In conclusion, the food at Devil's Den is neither here nor there, good nor bad. The Hot Brie was a simple sandwich I could see making for a picnic. The Monte Cristo was good, but disappointingly missing the key sweet element.

Devil's Den will do you right if you simply need to fill the belly while getting your drink on (they have a decent beer menu).

Devil's Den
1148 11th St., Philadelphia, PA 19147


Open daily, 11 a.m.-2 a.m; Sunday brunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Meet-up Picnic

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Philly Food Blogger Picnic in Fairmount Park! The weather was gorgeous, and the company and food were top notch as always.

Now that the event is over, I will fess up to something. As the organizer I was a little unprepared. I wanted the summer meet-up to be an outdoor event, and, you see, picnic means outdoor grilling, which means meat, and, well, I haven't eaten meat or cooked meat since I was fourteen! And at that time, the only meat dishes I had perfected in my repertoire were spaghetti with meat sauce and meat loaf.

I had a little heart attack the day after I picked up the meat from my friend's farm (also Keri's family farm). But after getting rough recipes and instructions on preparing the meat from Keri's mom (an awesome cook!), and a practice pheasant carving session with Jim, I felt more confident.

Although I didn't eat any of the meat I prepared, I heard the burgers were good and the first batch of venison kabobs were a little dry (oops, stayed on the grill too long). The pheasant didn't even get grilled since there were plenty of burgers and kabobs, which is unfortunate, but some lucky person went home with parting gifts of two whole pheasants.

A big thank you to Jim and Matt (gotta get a blog, dude, so I can link to you) for grilling. Also, thanks to Bill and Marisa for offering their grilling services.

I don't normally snap photos at these events simply because I space it, but I managed to whip out the camera for a few shots. I'm not sure who all made what. I know...bad host!
Veggie kabobs from yours truly; bacon toffee from Neal; corn, tomato, and avocado salsa/salad from Alex; peanut shrimp lettuce wraps from Patty.The cookie collection: chocolate almond cookies from Wendy; oatmeal cream pies from E. (I'm deeming her a cookie goddess); vegan chocolate and peanut butter cookies from moi; Famous Fourth St. chocolate chip cookie brought by Collin.

Any chance I get, I like to spread the gospel of Horseballs/Ladder Ball/Ladder Golf, a fun and easy game that lends itself well to parties where one hand is clutching a drink. For those who enjoyed the game, here are instructions for building your own set. Go forth and spread the gospel!

Hope to see you all at the next meet-up!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Meiji Cheesecake Apollo

Cheesecake Apollo

I have a confession to make. I am not a huge fan of cheesecake. Oh sure, it's delicious, but it's so rich and filling that I just can't eat very much of it at a time. Plus, my lactose intolerance might factor into the equation. But I rarely choose cheesecake if there's an option. Here, Meiji has solved my problem - cheesecake chocolate. Hokkaido is famous for dairy products, and apparently, this cheesecake Apollo was inspired by the tastes of Hokkaido. It was made with 0.9% cheese powder, but I think I'll be OK without a Lactaid.

Cheesecake Apollo

The chocolate has that Meiji taste for sure, and the cheesecake-flavored white chocolate hits the mark pretty well. It's a little lemony to try to mimic that tangy sourness of cheesecake, and it mixes with the milk chocolate very well. The chocolate is smooth and silky, so this is definitely enjoyable.

It's not my favorite kind of Apollo, but it's nice to have something cheesecake flavored that's not as rich as the real deal. I would definitely buy this again, and all my friends who tried it seemed to really like it.


Meiji Website (Japanese)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blackberry Cereal

This is what I've been eating for the past two days -- huge bowls of freshly picked blackberries doused with milk (rice milk, in my case) and sprinkled with sugar.

I know there are all sorts of things to do with fresh blackberries like make pies, tarts, scones, and jam. But eating blackberry cereal is really the only thing I truly want to do with blackberries.

This is how I ate the blackberries when I was little that I picked with my Grandmother at the side of the dirt road that ran alongside their property. She'd plop us down at the kitchen table and pour milk over our bounty and sprinkle the top with sugar.

I don't know where the name blackberry cereal comes from. My Grandmother didn't call it that. I guess it's just me that calls it that.

I won't deny pie, but simple is how I prefer my blackberries.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Kitty's a Superstar

Well, not really.

I try not to gush about my kitty on this blog, since the content is food focused. But if there's anything I love more than cake and cookies, it's my kitty. I swear to you she is the best kitty ever! And that's not just crazy cat lady talk.

It was a pleasant surprise yesterday to see my recipe for Earl Grey tea ice cream featured on The Kitchn, a food site I check religiously, but I was even more thrilled that they chose the picture with my kitty lurking in the background!!! I'm so proud of my baby girl, fifteen minutes of fame and all.

Say hello to superstar Lulu! Best kitty ever. She'll be signing autographs with regurgitated grasshopper guts upon request.The camera adds two pounds.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Glico Bacon and Cheese Pretz

Bacon and Cheese Pretz

Although I really loved the Melonpan Pretz from the Bakery Flat Style Pretz line, I gotta say, the Bacon and Cheese flavor didn't do it for me.

They smell like dog treats. Like weaker Beggin' Strips. The smell was definitely bacony, but it was preservative-laden as well. I didn't let that stop me of course, because I knew they had to taste better than they smelled.

Bacon and Cheese Pretz

They did taste better than they smelled, but it really wasn't enough to save them for me. That Pretz preserative taste was there and the aftertaste was one of those that you knew was going to hang around for a while. I'm not a huge fan of bacon-flavoring, so that was probably why I didn't like these.

I suppose it was supposed to be a savory taste, but the smell was so overpowering that the taste really didn't stand out at all. These weren't for me at all. I only had one stick and would not be likely to try this kind again.


Glico Website (Japanese)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream

Kicking myself. That's what I'm doing for not getting around to this vegan chocolate ice cream recipe last summer. It's been sitting in my bookmarks with all the other neglected and untried recipes. I even meant to make it earlier this summer, but, yeah, it just didn't happen.

The recipe was bookmarked from Chow, and they, in turn, got the recipe from the chocolate and ice cream demigod, David Lebovitz. And, now, you're getting it from me. Love the interwebs!

The original recipe is called Chocolate Coconut Sherbet, but, thanks to coconut milk, this non-dairy frozen treat eats like the creamiest, richest ice cream. I have a hard time calling it sherbet, so I won't.

The first bite does have hints of coconut, but, fear not coconut haters, after that it's all smooth, rich chocolate. Seriously good. Seriously simple. Seriously vegan (if you use vegan chocolate).

Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream
adapted from David Lebovitz
makes about 1 quart

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups canned coconut milk
1 tablespoon dark rum
  • Heat water and sugar in a medium saucepan until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add chocolate to the syrup and stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in coconut milk and rum.
  • Chill, then freeze in ice cream machine.

Monday, August 11, 2008

100 Calorie Packs Oreo Thin Crisps

Oreo 100 Calorie Pack

I like 100 Calorie Packs. They are a little overpriced, but it's nice to have someone think of portion control for you. I was always curious about this Oreo pack, even though I'm not big on Oreo cookies. Normally, I stick to a safer shortbread or graham cracker, but I decided to go out on a limb and try them.

Oreo Thin Crisps

They definitely don't taste like Oreos. Oreos are all about the creamy center, which isn't even replicated here. Maybe a light frosting would have helped? I'm not sure. They were more like chocolate crackers, and they reminded me of chocolate Teddy Grahams, only not graham cracker-y. Seeing as I really like chocolate Teddy Grahams and am not huge on the creamy frosting, I didn't mind. They're not amazing or anything, but a decent snack.

Of course 100 Calorie Packs aren't going to make you lose a lot of weight or anything, but if you have trouble with portion control, these might help. If you're really craving Oreos, though, I don't think the Oreo thin crisps are gonna do it. They have other 100 Calorie Packs that are just smaller versions of normal cookies, like Keebler Fudge Stripes and Sandie's Shortbread, so those might be a better way to go.

In short, there's no way these are gonna kill a chocolate craving, but they aren't bad. If you're not dieting, I wouldn't bother. Chocolate Teddy Grahams are better (and cheaper) chocolate crackers, and if you do like Oreos, these aren't even close.


Nabisco Website

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Signs: Killing Me Gently

This sign is a testament to the rapid degeneration of my aging brain.

When I snapped this picture, I swore the sign said kosher and gentle killing.

Aw, how nice of them to lovingly, gently kill the little animals.

It wasn't until I uploaded the photo that I realized the word was gentile, not gentle.

Holy shit, they're killing gentiles down in South Philly. It's Philly's own Delicatessen! Does anyone know about this?

No, no, no...this is just someone's sick (and kinda funny) joke.

About an hour later, it dawned on me that the sign just meant kosher and non-kosher killing. Phew!

I'm off to bone up on word puzzles. Gentiles, watch your backs.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Philly Food Blogger Meet-up

Philly Food Blogger Meet-up
Sunday, August 17
Fairmount Park

We're doing it again!

If you blog, vlog, podcast, or whatever about food or drink in or around the Philly area, are not a member (you already have an invite if you are), and would like to join up and meet some of your fellow bloggers while spilling sauce on your shirt
, please send your name and blog url to [at] gmail [dot] com.

Hop to it little bunnies; that's next weekend!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bust Out!: The Goods

After meeting up at North 3rd for the Bust Out! pre-party, and sitting on the wrong side of the bar for thirty minutes (North 3rd has two rooms, doh!), I started the evening of bust-acular eats with a Bavarian mocha with cherry syrup from 1 Shot Coffee in Liberties Walk.

There I watched the cutest toddler and 4-month-old English bulldog interact most adorably. The bulldog would flop on the ground while the toddler bent down to head-butt the dog in her own way of petting. Excited, the toddler would get up and run around, and the dog would chase, then flop down again. Repeat ten times. The most entertained I've been in a long while!
Then it was off for more eats. The Abbaye's cream puff was no wimp -- one bodacious boob of chocolate-filled pastry topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and blackberries; and two itty-bitty titties of caramel ice cream.

Proceeds from the event went to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Abbaye

Somehow, my adventures on the veggie cheesesteak trail (see sidebar) got lost in the woods for the past seven months. But I recently laced up my wedge sandals and trekked up to The Abbaye in Northern Liberties to check out their gastropub grub, which just so happened to include a cheesesteak.
The Abbaye's seitan chees steak sandwich is filled with not-too-chewy, just-perfect, cubed seitan made in house, along with garlic aioli and Gruyere. The seitan was great, the garlic aioli was not garlicky, and the filling to bread ratio was way off. I ended up pushing the filling to one end of the sandwich and not eating the other half of the roll. I don't understand not filling a roll up. Fill 'er up and put some garlic in the sauce, and The Abbaye's cheesesteak sandwich would be my favorite cheesesteak as of yet.

I'm not a fry person (I prefer to save those calories for other things), but as far as skinny fries go, I had no complaints with The Abbaye's fries. They weren't nubbins, weren't floppy, weren't overly greasy. I ate a few, and called it good.
My partner ordered the seitan bbq plate, again, with seitan made in-house. I loved The Abbaye's bbq sauce - tart, tangy, slightly spicy, and not too sweet. The bbq sauce is like the best of tomato, mustard, and vinegar bbq sauces all in one.

The coleslaw is another story. See all those red specks in the slaw? How about all the pepper seeds? Click to enlarge if you must.

This was the spiciest, hottest coleslaw I've ever eaten. I like hot food, but coleslaw is not supposed to light a fire in your mouth; it's a cooling food. Underneath the hot pepper was what seemed like a pure vinegar base. The coleslaw went uneaten, except for the forkfuls we kept eating in pure disbelief that someone made coleslaw so spicy. I'm sure some will love this spicy rendition, but it should come with a warning.

The seitan bbq plate came with fries, and a few spears of asparagus that seemed like an afterthought, but we should all eat more asparagus.

On my next visit, here's what I would love: a half-sandwich filled -- filled -- with their awesome cheesesteak seitan, and another half-sandwich filled with their tangy bbq seitan. Oh, and a few asparagus spears on the side.

The Abbaye

637 N. 3rd. St., Philadelphia, PA 19123

Meiji Strawberry Yan Yan

Meiji Strawberry YanYan

When my husband and I were getting dinner at a local Mediterranean deli, I was surprised to find Yan Yan next to the register for 99 cents. Well, my Meiji obsession would not let me ignore this, and we had to pick some up with dinner.

I remembered reading about it in Candy Blog, and it's a good thing, because Yan Yan contains cheese, and thanks to the review, I knew to grab a Lactaid. Interestingly, Cybele's 2006 review also mentions a gram of trans fat, which has since been removed.

Meiji Strawberry YanYan

The sticks were very cute, with little animal faces and phrases that sometimes applied to the animal on the stick but usually didn't (see above photo). The dip was shiny and smelled like strawberry cream cheese.

I wasn't really crazy about it, actually. I liked the cookie sticks, and I liked that the dip wasn't frosting sweet, but at the same time, I think I wish it was sweeter (I was surprised, too) and less rich. I suppose it's not really fair for me to rate something cheesy, as cheese and I do not get along. My husband really liked them, and he finished the Yan Yan in a couple days.

I'd still like to try vanilla and chocolate Yan Yan, and I hear there is/was a green tea version.


Meiji Website (Japanese)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Guaranteed Meat-Free

Marzipan hot dogs found at Chocolate by Mueller at Reading Terminal Market.

No slippin' me meat here!

Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews

Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews

I struggled mightily with the loss of the lemon Jolly Rancher. Never was there a better flavor. In any case, I just haven't been able to enjoy them as much since then. I'm not a huge fan of hard candy since it makes my teeth feel gross, so you'd think these fruit chews would be a good solution. I'll break down each flavor.

I'd like to mention first of all that the box my friend bought didn't have any Cherry in it, so I can't review that flavor. Way to go, packaging machine.

Blue Raspberry: There's nothing quite like that chemically enhanced raspberry taste. It reminds me of the Blue Raspberry Blow Pops I used to love as a child, nice and tart. However, and I'll have the same complaint for all of these, it was so grainy! Just like Air Heads taffy. I prefer a smoother chew, and the grainy, crumbly kind just isn't for me.

Green Apple: This one was sweeter than I was expecting, and it's a pretty good match for granny smith apples, but I wish it was more sour. Again, these things are too grainy!

Watermelon: This was my favorite of the three. Just like the watermelon Jolly Rancher, it was tart, juicy, and sour. I just couldn't get over the grainy texture!

I liked the small size of these, because with Laffy Taffy, I felt like there was just too much taffy in my mouth, but I wish these had a more Laffy Taffy-like smooth texture. I know a lot of people like Air Heads, so I'd recommend it to those people. In the meantime, I prefer the hard candy, but only once in a great while.

I'm still mad there was no cherry. And bring back lemon Jolly Ranchers.


Jolly Rancher Website