Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Morinaga Golden Kiwi Hi-chew

Golden Kiwi Hi-chew

Numerous sources have told me that golden kiwis are better than the regular variety, and that this Hi-chew tastes very authentic. However, I have never had golden kiwi, so I have no point of comparison.

I bought these at a Japanese grocery store, and they came highly recommended. I was really impressed with the pineapple flavor, so my hopes were high. Maybe they were too high?

Golden Kiwi Hi-chew

I love that the bars are wrapped in gold foil. It makes them look like little bars of solid gold and reminds me of Fort Knox, as seen in cartoons. They smell strongly fruity. The taste reminded me of strawberry kiwi Starburst, because it didn't taste specifically kiwi. Kiwi was there, but there was something else. That must be the golden kiwi.

The pineapple Hi-chew screamed pineapple; it was dead on. Kiwi is a little harder to pinpoint, but there was just something missing from these. Having said that, they were delicious and I had no trouble eating half the package myself in one night.

B+

Morinaga Website (Japanese)

Mars Galaxy

Mars Galaxy Bar

My boss recently spent a week in England, and since she is so thoughtful, she brought back British chocolate for my group at work! According to her, the Galaxy bar is better than Cadbury, so I was very excited to try it.

I vaguely remember seeing someone else's review of a Galaxy bar, but I can't remember which blog it was or what they thought. It's a nice theme, though, Galaxy bar from Mars. And, the chocolate bar itself has an adorable design. I love the little G!

Galaxy Bar

The chocolate smelled very sweet and a little nutty. It tasted unlike chocolate I've had in the past - very rich, creamy, and velvety. It really stuck to my teeth! It reminded me a little of Dove milk chocolate, in taste and texture. I have no nutrition info on it, because I think it was sold as a set and not an individual unit, but it tastes very fattening - that's good for chocolate, though.

I'm glad the bar I had was portioned, but I don't think I could eat more than one block of this at a time because of the sweetness. On taste alone, it might be better than Cadbury, but for mass consumption potential, I think Cadbury wins. I'm not a huge fan of eating chocolate by itself, so I might not be the best person to appreciate this, but it was a nice change of pace from all the Hershey here in the US.

B-

Mars website

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mentos Red Fruit-Lime Gum

Mentos Gum

Here's another kind of Mentos gum. This time, it's the non-specific "Red Fruit-Lime" that Ryan Seacrest has been talking up on the radio. A friend of mine bought this first, and after trying it, I bought my own so that I could review it at my leisure.

According to the package, I should taste lime, strawberry, raspberry, and some little berries I can't identify. Cranberry, perhaps? Let me know if you have any ideas. After peeking at the ingredients list, I saw that the gum was made with lemon guice, not lime, and blackcurrant, which is a fairly rare flavor in the US.

Mentos Gum

Once again, the pieces were cute and shiny. They smelled fruity, too, but nothing identifiable. The coating was sweet and tangy, and the center was tart, but a fake lime. The initial tang was good, but it faded fast, and then it just tasted red.

I couldn't taste raspberry, but my husband detected strawberry. Personally, I agree with calling this gum "red fruit" because that's about as specific as I could get. The flavor longevity was disappointing, shorter than Tropical, but the flavor itself was better.

B-

Mentos website

Fat Lala

Restaurant menu fliers left in the cracks of the door usually go straight to the paper recycle bin, but something very interesting on the backside of Pizzi Pizza's flier caught my eye.

Pizzi Pizza is a South Philly take-out pizzeria that specializes in a laughably large 28-inch pizza. For all I know, their pizza could be good, or it could be crap, but it wasn't the monster pizza that caught my eye. What caught by eye was their other specialty, the Fatty.

The Fatty is basically everything gross, fried, cheesy, and greasy stuffed into a hoagie roll, and there are nine variations of gross you can order. For example, a Fat Bill consists of cheese steak with cheese whiz, eggs, onion rings, and fries...all in a hoagie roll. A Fat Mike stuffs chicken fingers, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, hot sauce, and blue cheese in a roll.

When I spied the Fat Lala, the lone vegetarian Fatty, I knew I had to try one!
The Fat Lala sandwich holds Mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fries, Mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. It's pretty much death by grease on a roll. After watching the guy behind the counter pull out the frozen components and dunk them in a fryer, I was expecting a puke-worthy sandwich.

The Fat Lala certainly doesn't win any health or beauty contests, but, you know what? It's not all that bad. It's nothing great, either. If I were blindfolded and asked to describe what I was eating, I would have said an eggplant Parmesan sandwich. You've got marinara, cheese, fried breading from the mozzarella sticks and onion rings, and an unidentifiable squishy substance (fries) that act like eggplant.

There you have it! I tried it so you don't have to.

Pizzi Pizza
2654 S. 6th St., Philadelphia, PA 19148
215-465-2377
Mon-Sat, 11am-11pm; Sun, noon-10pm

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mentos Gum Tropical

Mentos Gum

It's been a while since I've posted a gum review. Recently, Mentos started selling gum in the United States, so since I'm a sucker for new products, it seemed like a good opportunity to review some more gum for this site.

According to the packaging, I should have tasted kiwi, orange (or maybe tangerine), and mango in this gum. I also should have been able to see the soft center, but I don't think any of those things actually happened.

Mentos Gum

The pieces were shiny and pleasing to look at, and the shape and gloss reminded me of Spree (only thicker). They had a light vitamin C smell. I bit the gum in half to see the soft center, which for some reason, I expected to be liquid, but I couldn't see it. It wasn't liquid, either, it was just soft.

The outside shell was very crunchy, and the only flavor from the package I could really taste was orange (maybe a little mango). I also thought I tasted some banana, but that could have been my imagination. It did taste fruity and juicy, so I liked that. Most of the flavor was gone after about 10 minutes, and after just under 20 minutes, I spit it out. I also think it's worth mentioning that the product website advertises a "tasty burst of freshness" but this gum made my mouth feel sort of stale, like most fruity gum. I was pleased with the initial taste, but I can't see myself buying this kind again.

B-

Mentos website

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Headhouse Beef

As farmers' market season approaches here in Southeast Pennsylvania, I've got a longstanding gripe about one of Philadelphia's most popular markets - Headhouse Farmers' Market at Second and Lombard Streets - that I'd like to get off my chest.

For those unfamiliar with Headhouse Farmers' Market, it's housed under the historic Shambles structure, a building built for merchants to gather at and sell their wares. The Shambles is essentially a long, narrow, covered walkway.

Vendors at Headhouse Farmers' Market line their tables up inside the covered walkway along the outer edges with the front of their display facing towards the inside of the structure, making shopping only possible by walking down what is now, thanks to vendor's tables taking up room, an even narrower walkway.

It's frustrating and miserable to shop at Headhouse Farmer's Market with the throngs of distracted people with their overstuffed canvas shopping bags, toe-crunching baby strollers, and dogs underfoot, all stuffed in a narrow hallway. I've never visited a more tight, claustrophobic, ass-bumping farmer's market in my life!

Last year, I wanted to kiss the one vendor (forgot their name, but they sold lots of peaches and apples), Three Springs Fruit Farm, who moved their table out from underneath the walkway to the very spacious sidewalk just outside the Shambles' roof, and, essentially, formed a wide-open room to duck into from the narrow confines of the market. Finally, someone was thinking!

Please, please, please, Headhouse Farmers' Market manager, make the vendors get their asses out from underneath the narrow walkway.

Make "rooms" like the one vendor did, use the sidewalk, heck, why not even block traffic on the one block of Second St. between Lombard and Pine and use the street (they already block the northbound side, which only one or two lunch vendors make use of, but should block the southbound side, as well).

The Shambles is a beautiful building, but don't be confined by it.

Do this one thing for me, and I won't rant about the boutique produce prices.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kahl-Bee

Kalbi or Kahl-Bee? The large sign and the menu say Kalbi, a traditional Korean grilled meat dish. The parking signs out front and most any info online about this Wilmington Korean restaurant in a strip mall on Kirkwood Highway say Kahl-Bee, the phonetic spelling of kalbi. I'm going with Kahl-Bee since this write up will be online with all the other Kahl-Bee's.

I've known about this Korean restaurant since the day I landed in Wilmington, but have never been until a few weeks ago when my friend Mike suggested we stop in for a lunch date. Why haven't I been until recently? Because they have a kick-ass little Korean grocery store two doors down that I stop in to pick up fresh kimchi and other fresh pickled veggies to make my own bibimbap, my favorite Korean dish, at home. I wrote about this sweet little shortcut a few years ago.

But now that I've visited Kahl-Bee, I can tell you that its a charming little no-frills, but clean, strip mall joint with tables equipped with grills for your Korean grilled meat pleasure. We skipped that fun; the both of us went all-veg.

Kahl-Bee's menu has a small vegetarian section that takes all the vegetarian items under other sections of the menu - appetizers, soups, noodles, etc. - and puts them in one place. So, if you're veg, just skip to the vegetarian section instead of trying to weed out the veg dishes hiding under various headings.
We started with a generously portioned appetizer of scallion pancake. Mike thought the pancakes were a little greasy and could have been a little spicier, and I'll agree that they were greasy, but such is a scallion pancake. The two of us only ate half of this dish, not because it wasn't good, but because we're limiting greasy food intake. I liked the long strips of scallions that really let me know there were scallions in there.
Most Korean restaurants set out dishes of banchan at the beginning of the meal before appetizers or entrees arrive, but at Kahl-Bee our very skimpy selection of five banchan arrived not before our appetizer or before our entrees, but with our entrees. This was just wrong. Hopefully, this was just a one-time fluke.

I talked Mike, a Korean food newbie, into ordering bibimbap, a bowl of rice topped with assorted veggies and a fried egg, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. Sorry, no picture.
In an attempt to get away from my old standbys - bibimbap, kimbap (not on Kahl-Bee's menu!) and jap chae - I ordered the tofu chigae, a soup of firm silken tofu, sweet and hot peppers, onions, and what seemed to be squash in a spicy broth. While I would welcome this bowl of soup any day, this dish just isn't for me. Neither was the soup at Pastoral, a Korean restaurant in Philly, I tried recently. It's not the soup's fault. I'm a carb-loader/lover. Give me rice and noodles.

With only ten vegetarian items on Kahl-Bee's menu, and only two of of those ten that I have not eaten at Kahl-Bee or some other Korean restaurant, I'll probably stick with the grocery store two doors down to concoct my favorites at home, but I'd certainly return to Kahl-Bee any time some friends fancy an outing for Korean food.

Kahl-Bee
2011 Kirkwood Hwy, Wilmington, DE 19808

302-998-4310

Mon.-Thurs., 11am-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-9:30pm; Sun., closed

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nestle Tiramisu KitKat

Tiramisu KitKat

Tiramisu really isn't one of my favorite desserts. I love coffee, but I don't like coffee-flavored desserts and candies very much. But when I ordered the Matcha Tiramisu bars, I figured I might as well order a couple normal Tiramisu bars, too.

The package boasts a "harmony of coffee and cheese" and says that it was made with 0.4% coffee. The last coffee flavored KitKat that I tried was pretty bad, so I was a little worried, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Tiramisu KitKat

The bar had a strong coffee scent, and when I broke it apart, it was stronger. The chocolate was very creamy, and by itself was mild. The wafers by themselves, however, tasted very strongly of coffee, suggesting that the cream between the wafers was the main source.

It actually did taste like tiramisu! I didn't even mind the coffee flavor for once, because it wasn't overpowering. Maybe it's just because the pack only had one bar, but it wasn't sickeningly sweet, either. Much better than the Caramel Macchiato McFlurry flavor from last year.

A-

KitKat Website (Japanese)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nestle KitKat Matcha Tiramisu

Maccha Tiramisu KitKat

New matcha KitKats are always very exciting, so from the moment this one was announced, I knew I needed to get my hands on some. However, I was a little skeptical about matcha tiramisu. To me, tiramisu means a strong espresso flavor, but I suppose that it could be made with other beverages. Tea seems a natural choice after coffee, and a Google image search turned up results proving that it has been done before.

Knowing that there would be no coffee flavor, I wasn't sure what to expect of this KitKat. Honestly, I was hoping it would taste a little like the regular matcha KitKat because I like that one so much. And it did.

KitKat Maccha Tiramisu

The single bar (thicker than one bar from the normal two bar pack) was pale green and smelled sweet. It tasted very similar to the regular matcha flavor, but much creamier. The matcha taste was weaker, overpowered a bit by the creaminess.

It was a very good KitKat, but I just can't call it tiramisu. A Flickr contact pointed out that the extra creaminess is probably supposed to be like the mascarpone cheese used to make tiramisu. It was definitely noticeable, so I think Nestle did their job. I also tried the regular tiramisu flavor that was released at the same time, and should have that review up tomorrow.

A-

KitKat Website (Japanese)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nestle Strawberry Milk Chocolate KitKat

Strawberry KitKats

I am rather backlogged with reviews right now. I haven't been uploading as much as I'd like to, due to some real world responsibilities, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of it now. These strawberry KitKats have been at my house for over a month and I'm just now getting to them.

I was on the fence about buying them when I saw them in Ann Arbor, MI, since I've tried many strawberry KitKats in the past. The milk chocolate base was what pushed me over the edge, and I caved in and made the purchase in the hopes that these would not be as overwhelmingly sweet as their white chocolate cousins.

Strawberry KitKat

It smelled like strawberry milk with a hint of cocoa when I opened the wrapper, and the wafers on the inside mostly smelled like chocolate. Thankfully, these weren't melted.

The strawberry flavor was quite mild, and every now and then, there was a little burst of fruitiness. It was definitely artificial, but as I had hoped, these weren't as sweet as the white chocolate kind. All in all, a solid KitKat. Nothing spectacular, but definitely good.

B+

KitKat Website (Japanese)

Truth Be Told

Someone made a comment the other day that everything I make looks amazing, and, while I'm flattered, that simply is not true. In fact, it's far from the truth.

Only about 20 percent of the things I make with the intention of sharing on the blog - this means finding time to cook a recipe I think is interesting when I am not so voraciously hungry I can actually make something that requires more than five minutes from start to finish, and, of course, cooking during the day, because I'm no camera wiz so daylight is my friend - actually make it onto the blog.

What happens to the other 80 percent of the things intended for the blog? They're nasty, ugly, mundane, or just simply a disaster and not worth sharing. And, oh, it is heartbreaking how many times I make some recipe, photo documenting the steps, and have it turn out awfully. Kind of like the eggs pickled with beet juice above. I thought, "Oh, these will be so beautiful," and they are, but they fall into the nasty group - vinegar does evil things to the texture of eggs, namely, turns them into rubber.

And then there's all the stuff I make that's not intended for the blog, and, trust me, the cold cereal with rice milk for breakfast and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich or the veggie turkey sandwich for lunch I eat almost ev-er-ree day is not amazing. Neither is that bowl of rice with steamed veggies or that tortilla holding bits of this and that plucked from the fridge that I eat for dinner most nights.

The picture of my foodie life I paint on this blog is all true, but it is most certainly selective. In truth, everything I make is not amazing. I'm a food schlub just like everyone else.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nestle Houjicha KitKat

Houjicha KitKat

Here is another souvenir from Toronto. Because it was a bag full of mini bars, they were a little pricey, but not terrible at about $6 Canadian. Houjicha is a variety of Japanese green tea, but it is roasted over charcoal, giving it a very different taste. I really like houjicha, especially with meals and snacks.

Unfortunately, my bag of KitKats must have seen some heat at some point, because all of the bars were melted. For that reason, I didn't get a picture of the chocolate itself, but from the outside, they looked like normal milk chocolate KitKats.

Houjicha KitKat

The KitKat smelled like milk chocolate with a slightly roasted, almost caramel flavor, but it was not at all overpowering. I broke one in half to smell it, and the flavor was the same, but slightly stronger. The bag said there was houjicha in the cream between the wafers, so that made sense.

I don't know if it's because these were melted, but the flavor was very similar to plain old milk chocolate KitKats. Three out of four people I shared these with thought the same thing. The tea flavor was there, but it was very subtle. When I concentrated, I detected just a tiny bit of bitterness reminiscent of tea. I should also mention that, as with a lot of milk chocolate KitKat variations, the sweetness was at a good level. These KitKats tasted good, but I was hoping for a stronger tea flavor.

B

KitKat Website (Japanese)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Charoset Truffles

This recipe is a bit early for Passover, but that's why I'm a better fake Jew than you are a real Jew. Yep, I call myself Philly's biggest Jew-faker. I'm not Jewish at all, but because my boyfriend is.

I'm in ur temple drinking ur Manichevitz!
I know my bar mitzvah from a mikveh, and I'll take a tween boy party over getting naked and wet in front of people any day.

I'm on The Collaborative's mailing list. Apparently, I gave someone my address one night while drinking at a bar holding a Purim event. (And if any Jewish women out there want to go with me to the all-women's Mahjong classes organized by The Collaborative, get at me. I'm itching to go, but am afraid I'll blow my cover.)Dont' know how many times I've heard a rabbi do their Rosh Hashanah spiel. Or was it Yom Kippur? Honestly, I space out and think deep thoughts. Or just count the window panes.

I've experienced a Seder with Penn grad students (boooring), a Seder at Mikveh Israel (fun, especially when the one family of Sephardic Jews got smashed and started hitting each other with scallions), and a Seder with long lost relatives (awkward, but warm).So, will you accept this charoset truffle recipe from a shiksa? Good.

Oh, you have no idea what charoset is?

Well, it's a sweet mixture of dried fruit, nuts, spices, and sweet wine that symbolizes the mortar Jewish slaves used to build the storehouses of Egypt, and is, frankly, the best part of the Seder meal. Well, slamming back four cups of wine, even if it is bad kosher wine — but not Manischevitz — isn't that bad either.

In this recipe, I'm just taking that sweet mortar, rolling it in balls, and rolling the balls into sugar. Simple.

Eat these charoset truffles during Passover — it's a long week of limited dining options — or eat them any time of the year. Think of them as L√§rabars in ball form, if you like. I popped ten charoset truffles while I was taking the photos for this post, that's how good they are.
Charoset Truffles
makes about 40 truffles

This recipe is highly adaptable. Keep the dates for their sweetness, but feel free to sub any dried fruits for the raisins or cherries. Use any nut you like. Use any sweet wine or fruit juice you like. I used Port because that's what I had on hand. Just be sure to use kosher-for-Passover wine or juice if serving these during Passover. And it would have been fancy-dancy to use decorator's sugar, but I didn't have any.

2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons sweet wine
sugar
  • Pulse all ingredients, except for the sugar, in food processor until forms a chunky paste.
  • Scoop about 1 tablespoon of paste and roll paste between palms of hands to form a ball.
  • Roll balls in a bowl of sugar to coat, and serve.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nestle KitKat Cookies+

KitKat Cookies Plus

I'm pretty late to the party in trying this kind of KitKat, but even before trying it, I was sure this would be a case of "better late than never." On a mini-vacation to Toronto, we stopped in again at the Pacific Mall, and although many of the items are of Chinese origin, the selection of packaged snacks and candy is dominated by Japanese products.

Most of the comments I had read on Flickr and in blogs for this KitKat were pretty positive, and I am a big fan of chocolate cookies (I'd prefer Oreos without the cream, I think), so I was fairly certain I would like this flavor. It did not disappoint!

KitKat Cookies Plus

The bars smelled like hot cocoa, very rich and chocolatey. They tasted rich and crunchy, not too sweet, and even a little bit bitter. The flavor of the chocolate cookies inside and the chocolate outside went together very well. I couldn't taste the wafers, but their texture also complemented the cookies.

I only got one box, since I'm trying not to overload myself with snacks, but I wish I had bought more of these. Cookies+ is definitely a new favorite of all the 40 KitKat flavors I've tried! I actually have a spreadsheet to keep track of them. Anyhow, this flavor was a fun departure from the normal KitKat fare, and I recommend trying it. Check out ZOMG, Candy for more thoughts on this KitKat.

A

KitKat Website (Japanese)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pad Thai At Banana Leaf

Banana Leaf in Chinatown is great because it serves Malaysian food, which means there are, like, 200 items on the menu covering a whole handful of Southeast Asian cuisines. It's also right outside the door from the Troc and the Convention Center - not that the rest of Chinatown is that far away.

I've eaten at Banana Leaf a few times (see Thai basil noodle here), but have never had their pad Thai, a favorite Thai noodle carb-fest. I finally put their pad Thai to the test.
Oh, I did scarf this down in minutes flat, but Banana Leaf's pad Thai does not even enter into the list of bests. The noodles were too wet with overly sweet sauce, albeit not the wettest or sweetest sauce I've ever had - that distinction goes to Soybean Asian Grille. The fish sauce was minimal, though, and that's a plus for me.

And what's with the mound of bean sprouts doused with sweet chili sauce? Too sweet, too many bean sprouts.

I randomly check restaurant inspections of restaurants I visit, and I admit that it's unfair that I don't do this with every write-up, but Banana Leaf's sanitation is horrifyingly slack (click map marker). It gives me pause.

Banana Leaf
1009 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA, 19107
215-592-4737

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PureBread

Forget to pack your lunch? Craving a sandwich, soup, salad, or cookie? Well, grab a cute, dog-breed-named variation of the same ol' sandwich every other sandwich shop is making at the local Delaware chain, PureBread.
This location (one of four) is in downtown Wilmington, and, not counting the large floor-to-ceiling windows (great for people watching), the interior has all the charm of Starbucks, Panera, Atlanta Bread Company, and other such chains shilling sandwiches, salads, and soups, but with typical wacky downtown Wilmington business hours - closed after 4pm, and closed on the weekend.

Sure, they've got all kinds of meat sandwiches mixed and matched any which way, and the requisite vegetarian avocado sandwich and portobello sandwich (you can also make your own), but the only sandwich that piqued my interest was the Hound Dog, a grilled sourdough sandwich of chunky peanut butter, bananas, cinnamon, and honey.

I grabbed the Breeder's Combo (they really need to rethink that name, as dogs are not the first thing to come to mind) of two of either a soup, half salad, or half sandwich. The four salads are truly uninspired, although their site says they have a couple coming soon that will add a little more interest. Soups are a little more interesting. Six soups are offered each day, rotating daily, with every day but Monday (why?) offering at least one vegetarian option.The cream of mushroom soup is a couple steps up from canned, with the occasional whole slice of mushroom, mustier flavor, and even a hint of black pepper. Not bad, actually.

The Hound Dog is fancier than the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I pack in my own lunch bag. Lots of cinnamon and not enough honey, but the warm, gooey crunchy peanut butter and banana is a classic after school special.I also got a few free bacon crumbles with my sandwich. This happens frequently at assembly line lunch counters when the workers and the counters get sloppy.
I snagged an oversized pistachio muffin, and it was baaaad! The fumes from the flavoring extract (smelled like almond, could have been pistachio) nearly knocked me out. And those nuts? They ain't pistachios. I tenderly sucked the crumbs off a few (mmm) to reveal...walnuts! I didn't finish this muffin, and that's not good; I'll eat most anything that's sweet. I hope their other muffins, cookies, scones and other treats are much better.If fact, the muffin was so bad, I had to go back and try something else (I make return visits occasionally when things are astoundingly bad - which makes no sense). This time I got a butterscotch scone. I know, I'm trying the weirder stuff instead of a chocolate chip cookie or a brownie, but it all should be good. And it is not! Those hollowed-out orange spots where whatever butterscotch-like substance melted, do not taste like butterscotch. The sugar crystals on top have more flavor than the orange blobs. And the whole thing is a little dense. I also didn't finish this. I could have, unlike the muffin, but decided it wasn't worth the calories. And while I was there again, I tested out how easy it was to get the cashier to sub portobello for meat on one of their signature sandwiches. No problem at all! So swap out that meat all you want.

This time I got the Irish Setter with portobello (subbed for corned beef), Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and thousand island dressing on grilled rye. It's a sandwich, but nothing special. While the outside was crispy and grilled, the inside never really warmed up. The portobello was sliced thinly so a couple slices came on the sandwich. The coleslaw tasted like Sysco.

PureBread will do in a pinch, or if you forgot your lunch. You'd do better packing your own, though. But I'll let it slide if I see you in there as an excuse to get out of the office. The windows are fab! And, commendably, PureBread claims to donate unused bakery products to the Delaware Food Bank.

And did you see this on their website? Gah! I almost want a puppy. Do they make them potty trained, yet?

PureBread
500 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, DE, 19806
Mon.-Fri., 6:30am-4pm.
302-421-9866
check website for other locations

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pineapple Salad

Just like everybody else and their momma, I've been trying to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables...'cause it's just so dang good for you!

This salad, ripped right out of the pages of Gourmet, was the answer to what to do with that honkin' pineapple sitting on my table - not that I need an excuse to eat pineapple. Pineapple, jicama, avocado,cilantro, and onion in a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing was perfect as a light side to the spicy tempeh tacos I fixed.

Pineapple Salad
adapted from Gourmet
serves 4-6 as a side

1 pineapple, peeled and diced
1/2 lb jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white or rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl, and serve. Boom!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Freebie


Someone at Sweet Street Desserts contacted me to see if I'd post a coupon for free dessert at their booth inside the Philadelphia Flower Show, and I said, "Sure." You have to be one of the first 100 people to present the coupon, and they swear that even though the flower show is almost over that this promo is new. Worth a try if you're out that-a-way.

Click the image above, print the page, and stuff it in your pocket before you head out the door.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tirol Kuri Zenzai Chocolate

Kuri Zenzai

Tirol multipacks seem to have the 4-5 standard flavors as well as a flavor that changes periodically. I've seen Strawberry Milk, Strawberry Mochi, and this one (more recently), Kuri Zenzai.

Kuri means chestnut, and zenzai is a soup made from azuki beans (sweet red beans) and mochi (sticky rice cake). I've never tried it before, but it sounds nice. The chocolate itself has a cute little picture on the front featuring all three of the ingredients I mentioned.

Bitten Tirol

The chocolate itself is very attractive, with a lighter color on top and darker chocolate on the bottom. I think it was all colored white chocolate, though, and no milk chocolate. It smelled toasty and slightly burnt, a bit like caramel.

The chocolate was lightly flavored and tasted roasted. Perhaps that was where the chestnut came in, because I couldn't taste the nut itself. I didn't taste azuki at all, just sweet white chocolate. The mochi center added a nice, chewy texture with a firmness that offset the smooth chocolate.

Although I'm not sure the flavor was particularly accurate, it was good, and the roasted taste was original and different from what I'm used to. Definitely a fun addition to the Tirol variety pack.

B+

Tirol Chocolate website (Japanese)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pastoral

If it's not already obvious, I'm not Korean. I am far from an authority on Korean food, but I do like Korean food. My absolute favorite Korean meal consists of kimbap (a sushi-like roll) and bibimbap (a big bowl of rice topped with assorted veggies), and I order it all the time, which makes my authority on Korean food very, very limited. I recently decided I should order something else, to see if I could fall in love with other Korean dishes as much as I have with kimbap and bibimbap.

And here enters Pastoral, a Korean restaurant in Philly that's simple-Asian-sleek inside, and easy to tuck into without a reservation.

My partner notes that when he ate at Pastoral a few years ago, there were no vegetarian offerings on the menu, and had to request something be made vegetarian. So, it's important to note that Pastoral now has a vegetarian menu. The vegetarian menu is seperate from the regular menu, so be sure to ask for it if it's not stuck in the regular menu, as it was absent in one of our menus, but present in the other. (Update: maybe my dining partner just wasn't presented with the veggie menu many years ago.)
The server at Pastoral was keen enough to ask if fish was OK in our selection of banchan, and it was, so that's why you see a dish of fishcake in our otherwise vegetarian banchan. This appetizer sized dumpling soup has only a few dumplings and scallions, but plenty of extremely yummy, buttery broth that is perhaps a little heavy handed with black pepper, but I can take it. Lord knows what was in the dumplings; they were of little consequence, it's the broth that was amazing.
And here's my bowl of Soon Tofu, a dish I've never had before, so I have nothing to compare it with. The dish is described as a stew of vegetables cooked with soft bean curd in a spicy soup. I asked for the dish medium in spice level, and the dish was spicy enough, but I would go up a notch next time. The hot, spicy soup seemed perfect on such a cold wintry night, except the broth lacked depth (perhaps a non-veggie version would cure that), and I dislike silken tofu, which was a prominent ingredient in the soup.
This is my dining partners bowl of Yuk Gae Jang, a soup with scallions, mushrooms, veggies, and noodles in a spicy broth. This dish had a very similar broth as the Soon Tofu, but was slightly tastier, making Yuk Gae Jang my prefered soup of the two main dishes. The dumpling soup won hands-down, though.

Ah well, Soon Tofu and Yuk Gae Jang at Pastoral did not sway me from my favored kimbap and bibimbap, but that's not to say I wouldn't return to Pasoral to test out other dishes or their bibimbap. But, sadly, kimbap is not on their menu - a disturbing absence I've noticed lately at other Korean restaurants.

Pastoral
205 S. 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107

215-545-8511

Mon.-Sat., 11:30am-10pm; Sun., closed

Monday, March 2, 2009

Local 44

How did a non-beer-drinker who rarely visits West Philly find themselves at Local 44, a West Philly neighborhood craft beer bar with eighteen beers on draft and two beers on cask? Chance. And I was in the mood for bar food.

Local 44 opened at the beginning of 2009 by the owner's of Memphis Taproom - another pub-grub establishment I've heard glowing things about (specifically their veggie menu options) but have yet to visit because it's not in my 'hood.

We visited on a weekend around lunchtime, and found the corner bar nearly empty and lonely feeling, but I've heard the joint is a mad house in the evenings. Since I wasn't there to drink beer - although their beer offerings did not go unsampled by my partner - I found the empty bar to be just what I was looking for.

Local 44's menu is small, but they have enough veggie options to make one's choosing difficult on the first visit: spinach croquettes with vegan garlic dill cream sauce; vegan frito pie; tofu tacos; oyster (mushroom) po' boy; veggie burger; and, of course, salads and fries.

Veggie burgers are usually what I order as a last resort at bars that have no other veggie options, but this day I was feelin' a veggie burger. Good thing we asked if the veggie burgers are housemade or frozen before ordering, because they're frozen at Local 44. Movin' on.Instead, I made the wiser choice by ordering the trio of tacos with breaded and fried tofu, cabbage and jicama slaw, and avocado pico on housemade corn tortillas topped with a spicy, smokey (chipotle?) sauce. The tofu had a nice thick, crispy breading that contrasted well with the soft tofu, and the avocado pico and smokey sauce lent the tacos a good punch of flavor. The slaw could have punched up the already great flavors if made with a heavier hand on the acid, but this is just nit-picking. I thought Local 44's tofu tacos were great, small bites of bold flavor, but they were just that - small bites. The trio of tacos alone is not going to fill you up if you're starving.What will fill you up is the mushroom po' boy with a side of hand cut fries. The mushroom po' boy consists of a roll filled with breaded and fried sliced mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and vegan remoulade, and is a great greasy sandwich to soak up beer. The filling to bread ratio was spot on, but there could have been more remoulade to lend more flavor. Be sure to ask for an extra side of sauce if you order this sandwich. I might even ask for the peppier sauce that comes with the tacos.

And the fries? Fries can be hit or miss on the same night at the same establishment, and this plate was a hit - not grease-logged!

Local 44 nixed dessert after hardly anyone ordered dessert when they first opened. But that's OK; I'd rather not have dessert than be served dessert that has languished for a week in the cooler. Local 44 is about the beer, after all. And some simple pub-grub.

So far so good on the veggie food front!

Local 44
4333 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
215-222-2337
11:30am-2am, everyday