Sunday, May 31, 2009

Welch's 100% Grape Juice

My mother buys lite juices, so I was not prepared for the flavor and taste of this. I've been drinking a lot of powdered "single" drink mixes, like Crystal Light and such.

The drink is a dark, deep purple. It's a really syrupy texture, which I didn't like. It was sent to me as part of a wonderful little promotional package of Welch's Juice, along with a tote bag, a pen, a magnet, and three other bottles of juice, with a selection of white and red grape. Very generous!

The flavor was unmistakably 100% grape, and it was a very good grapey taste. Heavy grape aroma, too. I don't know. The juice was good, much better cold than warm, but it just tasted a lot like Dimetapp cough medicine, with that syrupy texture. In the future, if I have this again, I'll either buy the "lite" version or dilute this a little. I was just turned off by the texture.

3/10- ICKY

Saturday, May 30, 2009

SNACKDOWN: Newman's Own Organics Fat-Free Fig Newmans vs. Newman's Own Organics Low-Fat Fig Newmans

Image Copyright SnackFace

Sometimes, it would do a Foodette well to listen to the advice of her readers. In this case, a new reader, Rosa, begged and pleaded with me for my life's sake in the upcoming event of a Snackdown, this one, between Newman's Own Organics Fat-Free Fig Newmans and the Low-Fat Fig Newmans.

I opened the fat-free FN's. They smelled okay. I sniffed them again. And then I tried to take one out, and all the crust fell off it.

I bit into this, and it glued to the roof of my mouth. When I finally did unearth it, the crust was flavorless, and the middle was like a gelatinous, gluey Jell-o type texture, with an aftertaste that lingered in my mouth for about ten minutes of fermented raisins.

I did not like this. If you need a fat-free cookie, there's no need to torture yourself. Newman's Own Organics is an amazing company, but these were just awful.


The Low-Fat Fig Newman fared much better. It was like a gourmet Fig Newton, a little thicker, and none of that gelatinous texture of the fat-free. The cookies did not stick together, and the crust was buttery. There was no aftertaste.

The texture of these was much better. I could tell the difference between these two in an instant. I personally loved the low-fat ones, and recommend them for people with kids or people who love Fig Newtons. They're better. Not my favorite, as I am a chocolate aficionado, but I like the less pedestrian idea of incorporating figs into cookies. It's good.

Another really sweet aspect of the entire Newman's Own Organic line is the little stories they put on the back of the packages. I really enjoy reading this, and hope they continue to incorporate these into their future packages and products.

You can find these at many stores around the country. One important thing to know, though, is that Newman's Own Organics is a different subsidary than Newman's Own!


Newman's Own Organics Peanut Butter Newman-O's

Another winner. Seriously. I want to let you know, Newman's Own Organics doesn't get all tens and nines and eights because they sent me all this free stuff, they get high marks because their stuff is just freaking awesome. If this is what eating organically consists of, send over the freakin' carrots.

This is not your mother's peanut butter cookie.

No, when they say "peanut butter" they mean peanut butter. It's not peanut butter cream, or peanut butter glaze, or peanut butter frosting. It's peanut butter. Plain, simple, delicious. Like the inside of a Reese's, except more peanutty. It's fucking infused with peanut butter.

But the nice thing is that it doesn't overpower. The crunch from the cookie blends incredibly with the peanut butter, much like the Hint O' Mint Newman-O. It's not the sweetest cookie, but it's flavorful. In fact, it's much better than a sweet cookie because the sweetness is subtle. It stays in your mouth afterward with those nutty notes, instead of burning your throat.

This cookie is amazing. I love it. I want to buy this and fill my house, so that in the event of a nuclear apocalypse, I can live happy, underground, and stuffed with these.


Newman's Own Organic Cinnamon Hermits

Here's another product from the lovely people at Newman's Own Organics. They gave me two kinds to try, original and cinnamon.

The cookie is a little deceptive in its packaging. The package looks big, but inside, there are only twelve cookies. Luckily, the cookies are extremely filling. I took three, expecting to eat them all and still be hungry, but stopped after two, they were that thick.

The cookie itself was delicious, but had me a little worried about the plain ones, because with the medley of raisins and doughy texture and cinnamon, it didn't seem like it would be right if the cinnamon wasn't there at all. I'll have to see when I taste the plain ones.

The texture was thick, almost like a really good brownie, and the pieces of sugar were sweet and added to the richness of the cookie. They provided a lovely crunch and almost none of them fell off the cookie before eating them.

This is just a really excellent cookie. Personally, I cannot stand raisins, but these blended so well. They're like an oatmeal raisin bar for the sophisticated set, the people who need more than a run-of-the-mill cookie. This is stuff for gourmands. Very tasty.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Newman's Own Organics Hint O' Mint Newman-O's

I tried these, and they're definitely as good as, if not better, than Oreos.

I am not a mint person, really, not when peanut butter or more chocolate can be had, but I did try the "Mint and Creme" Oreos, and these are such a breath of fresh air from that gelatinous mess.

The cookie is a delicious chocolate, with the perfect balance of minty cream filling. Nothing green in here, just pure mint extract. The cookies were crunchy and had the perfect amount of filling. And these were some thick cookies! Almost the thickness of a Double Stuf Oreo.

I liked these. I'm not sure if I'd buy them again, but they were very tasty and balanced well.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Newman's Own Organics Orange Chocolate Chip Champion Chip Cookie

Have you ever tasted a Terry's Chocolate Orange? These cookies are exactly like those.

Newman's Own Organics makes the best cookies, I'm convinced, and are one of the most friendly and generous companies I've ever encountered. I got over twenty five of their products today in the mail, and my father and I sat and crunched away at one of many product samples, the Orange Chocolate Chip Champion Chip Cookies.

When you first open the bag, there's a lovely, homey orange and cookie scent, like these were freshly baked. This is a plus. The cookies are the size of a large half dollar and are studded with chocolate chips. Although the bag portrays many more chips than the actual average cookie, I was able to look this over, as these cookies are FREAKING AMAZING.

The crunch is buttery, smooth, and crunchy, dissolving into a wonderful taste. Natural ingredients really do make the difference, folks. It's no surprise here. The orange tastes like real zest was used in these, and the chocolate blends perfectly.

A winner. If the rest of the products from Newman's Own Organics are anything like this, I will be the size of a boat.


Deep River Snacks Sweet Maui Onion Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Mmmmm...the first thing you notice when you open these chips is the flavoring. It's a lovely, powdery crust of onion, almost like grilled onions on the barbecue or buttermilk onion rings.

It's a thick, rich onion taste, and the underlying potato chip is flavorful, all crunch and potato. The powder takes the chips and keeps them from being really oily. If you like strong flavors, this is for you. The onion flavor stays in the back of your throat, quickly mingling with the potatoey taste.

These are a local brand of chips, and boy, are they good. They're a little pricey, and not many chips fill the bag, but they're excellent with a sandwich. The chips are actually made with real onions, not just powder, and are definitely worth their price.


Kirin Afternoon Tea Special Milk Tea

Special Milk Tea

Kirin is a beverage giant in Japan. Aside from alcoholic drinks (Kirin beer in particular), they have large lines of soft drinks as well. This tea comes from their popular Gogo no Kocha (Afternoon Tea) line, and was a "special" version of their regular milk tea.

The back of the bottle (mostly obscured by the label with the translation of the ingredients, as I bought this in the US) said that it was made with Assam tea and milk. I read online that the "special" version here had creamier milk and a more robust tea base. It's been a little while since I had the regular version, so I can't make a comparison.

The tea was very refreshing, with a complex, slightly floral flavor. It wasn't too sweet or too rich, and did taste special. The Assam tea was present, but not strong, which I enjoyed. It definitely worked well as an afternoon tea for that reason. Of course, no matter what time it is, my father likes his tea black and almost over-steeped, so those with tastes like his would not care for this.

The drink certainly wasn't sickeningly sweet by any means. I assume that it was a limited edition release in Japan, but I would certainly drink it again. I will have to try the regular version to see if there are any detectable differences.


Kirin Website

The P.O.P.E.

I like the P.O.P.E.

Everybody likes the P.O.P.E.

Not that aging Catholic with the tricked out ride, but The Pub On Passyunk East -- that divey bar with a great jukebox and good time vibes on E. Passyunk Ave. in South Philly.

Even though some kind reader suggested I eat at this bar a few years ago, I just never imagined the food would be stellar at a bar with stained couches. Drinks at the P.O.P.E? Hells yeah! Food? Um...

When I got word of a new consulting chef and menu featuring a few hearty veggie items, and saw a glorious picture of one of those new items -- a house made veggie burger -- given a nod by a guy I trust, I rethought dining at the P.O.P.E.I went with the seitan cheese steak, which comes with either fries or house salad. I ordered the salad, but received fries, and just decided to go with the flow. The fries were a little well done and cold by the time I got them, but the spicy aioli covers many flaws.

The peppery, grilled seitan and onions and your choice of cheese was perfectly flavored and generous, but the firm, whole wheat bun (kinda dark in the bar, but it looked like whole wheat) ruined the sandwich. The bun wasn't stale. It wasn't rustic. And it wasn't dense. It just managed to seem like all of those things without actually being any of those things. Change the bread out to a classic white bread Philly hoagie roll, and all will be good with the seitan cheese steak. Hard to believe, but the above veggie burger made with a kasha patty, your choice of cheese, red onions, deep fried tomato slice, and basil mayo is the same as the one in the picture that wooed me into dining at the P.O.P.E. She's really let herself go!

My partner ordered this burger (with house salad, as well, but you can see that those are fries), and after one bite thought something was odd. I took a bite, and instantly declared that the burger tasted like plastic. He took another bite, and confirmed. Don't know what happened here -- rancid oil, old cheese, bad burger, off mayo -- because the boy wouldn't let me investigate further with my taste buds, nor would he investigate further, but something was very wrong. This burger went uneaten.

And, yet, I still like the P.O.P.E....for drinks!

The Pub On Passyunk East
1501 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19147
open for lunch at 11 am
full menu til 1 am
happy hour 4-6 pm

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chuao Chinita Nibs

Chuao Chinita Nibs

Here we have another bar I picked up at the fancy grocery store. It was in a bin of 50% off chocolate, and the original price was $5.99 US. I love nutmeg, and couldn't remember having a chocolate bar with nutmeg before, so it called to me.

I love dark chocolate, and the last Chuao chocolate I had was made with excellent dark chocolate. This one also said it contained "caramelized cacao nibs" so I wasn't sure what to expect from those. Sometimes, spices can be overpowering, which was a bit of a concern, too. I made nutmeg brownies once and used way too much, and they were nearly inedible.

Chuao Chinita Nibs

The bar smelled like a good dark chocolate, with lots of nutmeg. In my first bite, the nutmeg was the first thing I tasted. The texture was crunchy from the cacao nibs, and the dark chocolate only brought flavor after the nutmeg had subsided. The chocolate had a good snap, and felt cold on my tongue (maybe from the spices).

The crunchiness of the nibs gave the chocolate a good texture throughout, even as the actual chocolate melted. The nutmeg was almost too strong, but thankfully, there was no spice burn. I almost thought the cacao nibs were almond pieces, and they had a nice toasty flavor. Because of the strong nutmeg flavor, I wouldn't want to eat a lot at once, but it was very tasty.


Chuao Chocolatier website

PB&P Sandwich

Is there a "gross" sandwich that you enjoy? You know, one that cannot be found on menus, so has to be made at home. And when I say home, I mean alone so as not to be mocked.

Mine is a peanut butter and pickle sandwich, and I am far from alone (just google it!) in craving this particularly glorious and satisfying juxtaposition of creamy and sweet peanut butter with crunchy and salty dill pickles. Some prefer the sandwich with sweet pickles, but I prefer dill.

I was introduced to this sandwich by a friend in high school (no, we weren't stoned), and instantly thought my friend was bonkers, but, being open minded, made myself one as well. Fabulous!

A little different than most peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, I make mine on a hot dog bun. Hot dog buns seem perfectly made for pickle spears, and five or so bites is all I really need to satisfy the occasional craving for this sandwich.

So, what absolutely fabulous "gross" sandwich do you make for yourself when no one is watching?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sargento 2% Milk Reduced Fat Medium Cheddar Cheese

This is a good cheese, courtesy of the people at Sargento.

It's a nice cheddar cheese, with a sharp flavor. You don't really notice the reduced fat part in the flavor, but it does come out in the texture.

Where I'd rather use a full-fat cheese for things like crackers and cheese, for something a little softer, this is a firm cheese that melts up well. I made a few things with it, and I found that I didn't really like it in a cold cut sandwich- it just wasn't soft enough, but that it was quite tasty when melted or grilled. It made one of the best grilled cheeses I've ever had. I found that it was actually better than a full-fat cheese when melted because of its dryness, and it didn't leave as much grease behind.

Regardless of texture, the flavor is still bold, sharp, and very tasty. This is a winner. The pre-slicing is great, too.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A bevy of Fruit-By-The-Foots...

Holy hell! I've just consumed 9 feet of candy!

Of course, it was in the Fruit by the Foot's so delicious...I got it from the cupboard on a whim, in three flavors to review: Tropical, Tie-Dye Berry, and Tie-Dye.

The Tie-Dye flavor is a sweet and mellow taste, colored and flavored predominantly with orange, lemon, and lime. It's a standard candy classic, very tasty, and it seems to be cut in a cloud or paw print shape so you can pull it apart.

The Tie-Dye Berry flavor is a much stronger taste, with cherry, and raspberry flavors, as well as a stronger color scheme of purples, reds, and blues. This was the coveted of flavors, always the one to go first in the lunchboxes. Although there's a zipper pattern on it, presumably to pull it apart and share with friends, nobody in the 4th grade wanted to share this one. Everyone was jealous of this kid, yes, even you. Unless you were that kid, in which case, we say, you're an asshole for not sharing. This is a good, solid candy, though, with a great taste.

I have to say, for novelty, this last one takes the prize. The Tropical flavor features a host of summer activities printed on its yellow skin, like an edible tapestry. Going down the three feet, I see treasure chests, paw prints, happy campers playing ball, apples, palm trees, steel bear traps, BEARS ATTACKING. It's a summer hallucination extravaganza! The flavor is like a coconutty-pineapple tropical flavor. Yummy.

With all of these, it's a nice, firmly-textured chew, a pretty long-lasting snack. These will always be a hit, for lunchboxes and cupboard everywhere.

Lifesavers Gummies

These are a pretty good gummy.

The flavors advertised were watermelon,

Watermelon actually tasted like watermelon. I wished it was like the little Jelly Belly beans where the inside was pink, but this was a refreshing-looking all green gummy. The taste was firm and watermelon-y, not artificial tasting at all.

Strawberry was the next flavor. It was a very mild strawberry flavor, almost a cherry-berry taste instead. This was an okay gummy.

I couldn't tell the difference in color between red raspberry and cherry, but the cherry tasted exactly like the Luden's cough drops from my childhood that I used to eat by the handful. Red raspberry wasn't a special flavor at all, very mild. It just tasted like sugar.

The last flavor was supposed to be blackberry, and they hit the nail right on the head. It tasted like those old violet candies and left a really delicious jam-like aftertaste.

These are good gummies. Unfortunately, the packaging is so heavy that there isn't much room for the snack. Still, a good and classic treat.

8/10- YUMMY

CVS Simply Divine Luxury Wafers with Chocolate Creme

These are your standard, "I forgot to bring a gift to this party oh shit, what should I bring, I only have the cash that's in my change drawer," gift.

They come in one of those little cylindrical canisters, the packaging is very pretty, if a bit over the top. Ribbons, banners, and scripty font are vomited all over the package, making it look like a cotillion's afterbirth residue.

The wafers themselves are pretty distinguished, actually, with gaily patterned stripes and dots, looking like what giraffe bones might. The taste isn't anything special, really.

When you bite into one of these, you're immediately stabbed by the shards of the wafer. At least they're tasty shards, albeit mingled with blood. The creme really is chocolate creme. It's melty and tasty and not stale-tasting or resembling mockolate at all.


Skinny Cow Ice Cream Bonanza

It's almost time for some hot-weather treats, and this week, the thermostat got up to 77, so my mom broke down and bought that fabled of summer treats, ice cream.

She's not the kind to get Ben and Jerry's or, you know, the good stuff, as we grumble, but to her credit, she does bring back new things.

So last week, she sniffed out two new treats at the grocery store, from the Skinny Cow brand.

The Skinny Cow brand boasts one of the creepiest mascots I've ever seen, one that looks straight out of a Furry culture wet dream, a slender, dare I say, sexy bovine with a seductively wrapped in a dress measuring ruler to show you all how skinny she is, GASP JUST BY EATING ICE CREAM.

So I was intrigued and decided to try these out for myself.

Skinny Cow Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches. All right, let's get one thing clear. These do not look like the lovely stock photo. No ice cream you will see, especially a mass-produced one, will look like the photo, with over half the damned thing being peanut butter. Not if it's low fat.

However, for the customer to accurately judge whether or not they do want to purchase these, they're in a lovely see-through container. No surprises here, folks.

The ice cream is rich, a little watery at times, but consistent, and I could taste the peanut butter and the chocolate blending very well together. The sandwich is like all ice cream sandwiches- it sticks to your fingers like envelope glue and forces you to develop a layer of chocolate skin by the end of the sandwich.

Not a bad treat, folks. Six to a pack, they go very fast.

7/10- NOT BAD

The next treat I tried by Skinny Cow was their Skinny Dippers, in French Vanilla and Caramel flavors. Sub-par at best, with the mockolate coating chipping off and melting on my it the PPC or the bad chocolate?

The caramel wasn't a great flavor, just the tiniest hint of a buttery taste, and the vanilla was watery and had the consistency of a popsicle, that's how much water was in it.


3/10- GROSS

Glico Matcha Collon

Matcha Collon

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of matcha (green tea) flavored snacks. I'm afraid my ratings tend to be a bit biased when it comes to matcha, but I try to give an idea of how strong the flavor is so that those who don't care for matcha can relate to the review. I know matcha isn't everyone's cup of tea (har har).

It's hard to review Collon without pointing out how silly the name sounds in English-speaking countries. Also, I feel I must mention that this is a heavier snack. One box (60 grams) is about 326 calories and contains 18.3 grams of fat. Collon is definitely something to be enjoyed in moderation, but most snacks are, anyway.

Matcha Collon

Upon opening the bag, I was treated to the smell of cream, with a faint trace of matcha. Collon is fluffy cream inside a crunchy wafer cylinder, like dessert Combos. These didn't survive the trip from Japan all that well, but the flavor hasn't been compromised.

The flaky crust was a little buttery and delicate, and very tasty. The cream was light and whipped, but didn't have a very strong matcha flavor. They definitely tasted different from regular Collon, and the matcha flavor was present, just not dominating. I didn't like how they left my mouth feeling oily, or the slight preservative-laden aftertaste. However, they were still enjoyable, and I think they could please both matcha fans as well as snackers who aren't as enamored with green tea.


Glico Collon Website

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I'm on The Impulsive Buy!

For my snarky review of the Butterfinger Creme pie, it seems...

This is probably one of the least appetizing Butterfinger products ever. (via Foodette Reviews)


So, as my daily review count skyrocketed to over 400 in a day, I'd like to remind you again: I review anything. I love to hear from readers. I will add you to my blogroll. I love fan mail, samples, suggestions, please! Send me a note or comment here!


Nestle KitKat Cookies+ with Whole Grain


I ordered these from JBox (aka JList) because it's getting close to summer and the don't ship chocolate in summer. Unfortunately, they still melted, but that's not their fault. The weather has been quite warm where I live, so I expected it.

I really enjoyed the last Cookies+ with chocolate. This one was made with whole grain, giving it a graham cracker feel. The whole grain craze that swept America must have happened in Japan, too. One of these bars is still 100 calories and 6.3 grams of fat, at which point the whole grain doesn't really matter.


The bar smelled of milk chocolate, and the chocolate was simple and tasty. The graham cracker was nice and crunchy and the texture went almost perfectly with the wafers in the KitKat. As KitKats go, it wasn't very sweet, which was a welcome change.

I didn't like it as much as the chocolate Cookies+, but still liked it better than many other KitKats I've tried. Something about it was just a little bit bland, and I wish the cookie part stood out a little bit more. Of course, the melting may have contributed to this, so I can't fully rate it. For another take, have a look at the review at Japanese Snack Reviews.


KitKat Website

Friday, May 22, 2009

UHA Orange Soda Puccho

Orange Soda Puccho

Puccho may not be as well known as Hi-chew, but it's another Japanese chewy candy, only with a more kid-oriented look. Please note the cute character on the package. Also, Puccho has little gel drops inside the chew, giving it an added texture.

A big reason I bought this was the fact that it was advertised as fizzy. I really like fizzy candy, and I had liked Puccho in the past. The stripes on this variety were quite fetching, and I rather like the texture of the gel drops inside, so I was interested to see how the fizzing would work in.

Orange Soda Puccho

The candy had the aroma of vitamin C tablets, and the jelly part tasted like an extra-citrusy creamsicle. Along with the normal firm gummy pieces (which don't seem to carry much flavor), the fizzy pellets were crunch and reminded me of chewable vitamins.

The fizzing was cool and did give the effect of an orange cream soda when combined with the slightly creamy chew. I don't think I will be able to eat the whole package, as they were very sweet. I would recommend these to fans of Starburst or Hi-chew as a nice twist on a standard chew.


Puccho Website

Wonderful News!

I am now working with the illustrious Lesley Waldsmith, of RMD Advertising, to review new products!

I'm extremely excited for the near future, expect reviews, thanks to these generous people, from Rudolph's Foods, (yes, the OnYums people!) Dei Fratelli, Charley's Grilled Subs, and more!



Update: no longer open

It seemed when Nicholas opened (about a year ago?) in Pennsport, the hub-bub about this casual, cozy, 30-seat BYOB serving New American cuisine was just a blip...and then I heard no more. Despite getting lost in the chatter of newer restaurant openings, we recently decided to try out Nicholas. The fact that Nicholas is a BYOB (they also have mixers for cocktails), and a five minute walk from home doesn't hurt!

Named for the two owners and chefs, Nicholas Matteo and Nicholas Sweeney, Nicholas features a menu of straightforward, local ingredients that change seasonally. Not only does the menu change seasonally, it changes weekly! While some items may look familiar from week to week, there are seasonal tweaks to those dishes, and some dishes will be completely new.

It's so nice to see a restaurant wearing the "local/seasonal" badge that actually cooks with what's available at the markets and changes the menu more than two or three times a year. Plus, even if you're not a vegetarian, some menus are so small that, one or two visits and you've eaten the entire menu! Then what?

Nicholas' interior was more casual that I had imagined, with warm walls and colorful paintings of scenes from the Italian Market, and amply large dark wood tables. Our server was also extremely casual, but in a very friendly and comfortable way.Complimentary, house made rolls arrived (this is one of two) with garlic butter. I don't normally eat the complimentary bread, as it's merely filler to me, but I do take a pinch to sample. My partner, who does partake in complimentary bread, loved the garlic butter.
I started with the salad of grilled Romaine, roasted red peppers, Molisterno cheese, and white balsamic vinaigrette. Too long on the grill, and Romaine gets overly charred and wilted, but Nicholas pulled this half-head off the grill at the perfect time. The vinaigrette was certainly tangy, but I love tang.My partner went with the mixed green salad with pine nuts, dried grapes, and sherry vinaigrette. Initially, I was, like,"Ooh, dried grapes. Fancy." Two second later I realized dried grapes are raisins. Funny how wording can make things sound better. This large plate of greens was dressed with even a harsher vinaigrette than the one on the grilled Romaine salad. I love vinegar, but I think this dressing was a bit much for normal folks, especially in such large quantities.

My partner ordered some fish dish that I can't recall, nor did I take a picture of, but he said it was cooked perfectly. The only vegetarian entree on the small (but remember it changes weekly!) menu is the Veg Plate, and the Veg Plate stays on the menu all the time. What's on the Veg Plate? "All the good stuff from the other dishes, minus the..." And that's exactly what I got...all the sides from the entrees that evening.

Starting with the carrots and going clockwise:

These baby carrots were simply prepared with still a little crunch in the center. Nice.

The pea puree was absolutely fabulous, tasting of fresh peas with a little acidity (lemon?) to brighten the flavor.

The Spanish rice with black beans was tomato-y, and a little liquid-y. While pleasant enough, I felt the side was not refined enough in flavors or consistency to be served at a restaurant. This dish reminded me of a dish I might make on the fly at home as a one-pot meal

The white bean, spinach, and olive tapenade was big on olives, as tapenades are supposed to be, but I only like olives, not love them, so ate half of this side.

The Gorgonzola mashed potatoes were cheesy and greasy-good, and had a homey feel with lumps left in the mashed potatoes.

Overall, I enjoyed all of my Veg Plate and salad, but felt that the food was not as refined as it could be. The food felt comfortable, though, like food I would make at home if I were trying to throw together a dinner party to impress (I don't make pea puree or Gorgonzola mashed potatoes when I'm alone, but it wouldn't be a stretch to make these at home), and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Fresh, seasonal, approachable and comforting food served in a casual dining room in a South Philly neighborhood...that's how I'd sum up Nicholas. It's like eating at home, but a touch nicer.

2015 E. Moyamensing Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19148
Thurs., 5pm-10pm
Fri. & Sat., 5pm-11pm
Sun., 4pm-9pm

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mars Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms

Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms

While grocery shopping, I was on the lookout for these M&Ms. The Mint Crispy M&Ms that came out with the most recent Indiana Jones movie were quite tasty, and I looked forward to trying another limited edition movie tie-in (the new Transformers movie) M&M.

I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, despite having them every day at school pretty much until college. I wanted to get a small bag, but the only size my grocery store had was the medium bag. Thanks to a review from Candy Blog, I knew that M&Ms were similar to regular peanut butter M&Ms, only with strawberry flavored chocolate.

Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms

The little speckles on the pieces were really cute, and the pieces smelled like berries. The fruity chocolate was a much better match for the peanut butter than I thought it would be, and with the peanut butter, it reminded me of strawberry cake or cookies. The saltiness goes well with the berry taste.

I can't say I liked them better than regular peanut butter M&Ms, but Mars has made a combination that I never would have imagined working here into a pretty good candy. The novelty factor is high, but the taste isn't so bad, either.


Mars Website

On tap...

Here's what the next week will look like...I have a few packages and samples coming from some wonderful companies, so I'll be treating you to those this week!

- Newman's Own Organics is sending some goodies over
- Welch's is quenching my thirst and love for grapes
- Many random samples of free things, including Emergen-C
- A Snackdown between McDonalds' apple pie and Burger King's apple pie

And more!


Monster Energy Drink

Monster energy drink, my friend always said, tastes like robot piss.

Okay, so she wasn't too far off the mark, but I'd never tried a Monster. First sip, it's lightly carbonated, with big bubbles, and it has that lovely, fruity, chemical taste to it. I'm being sarcastic, of course, but it gets better.

The color is different than what I expected. It's not bright green, but a light pinkish color, which is nice, and the taste gets a little better as you sip. It's a fruity flavor, pretty fake, but it kept me awake.

I wish it was a different flavor, because that Windex-y taste seems to be the quintessential taste of energy drinks, and I feel like I'm gulping down medicine rather than a beverage.

3/10- LAME

Burger King Butterfinger Creme Pie

This is the second of four pie or pie-flavored items in Burger King's menu, and it was great, but falls short of the standard I hold to the Hershey creme pie.

It's basically another silk pie, with a peanut-butter creme studded with Butterfingers, topped with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and more Butterfinger pieces, all on a peanut-butter graham crust.

The photo looks hefty, almost overwhelmingly topped with candy and chocolate, but the real pie is just a little underwhelming. I had maybe three chocolate drizzles and tasted one chuck of Butterfinger throughout the entire pie. Don't get me wrong, the taste was delicious, it was just too bland. The peanut-butter creme didn't have any candy in it and just tasted like more whipped cream. The crust was very tasty, though. I love the texture juxtaposition of crumbly cookies and cream.

I'd get it again, but I have to try the Oreo "pie" shake now and the Dutch apple pie before I judge the ultimate winner.

5/10- OKAY

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Burger King Iced Mocha

I bought this in its only size, a medium, today.

The cup is strange. It's very slender and rather thick, and the straw has a very large diameter, more appropriately suited for bubble tea or milkshake.

This drink was lukewarm. I thought it would have more ice than it did, as there is a specific little line on the cup for where to fill it with ice. It had no chocolate swirl like the photo showed or barely any chocolate flavoring. Come to think of it, it barely had any coffee flavoring. It was basically lukewarm whole milk with a twinge of brown dye, coffee extract and chocolate scent.

This was an awful drink. If I get a mocha anything, I'll stick to Starbucks, because their mochas are just supreme.

1/10- GROSS

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Iceland Pure Spring Water

Couldn't find a picture of this, so you'll just have to make do.

This is good water. I never see the point of drinking different waters, aside from Voss, which is funny because I had a friend who used to throw Voss and Baby Voss water bottles at his theatre teacher's head, but I digress. I don't like paying lots of money for water bottled at other places when Poland Spring is fine.

This water was all right. It wasn't anything special, but it wasn't gross with additives or yucky substances, it was just...water. I usually put little drink packets in mine anyway, so there's no real problem with it.

The bottle is pretty. It looks like the Fiji bottles, with a waterfall scene that's magnified by the water and small when the water is gone and the bottle is nice and tall.

4/10- OKAY

Kitty Bread Heads

Gonna gloat here and say...I haven't bought a loaf of bread in months! This is big because I eat a sandwich for lunch five days a week, no fail. I've been making my own bread in a bread machine -- a monstrously large unitasker that I don't recommend anyone purchasing, but I just so happen to have one, so am using it.

Lately, though, I've gotten so used to the recipe I use that I haven't been measuring all of the ingredients precisely, and think my fervent squeezing of the agave nectar bottle straight into the pan instead of measuring into tablespoons has gotten the yeast super excited so that the dough rises too high and then falls during baking. That's my theory, anyway.

When sliced, these sunken-center loaves yield...kitty heads!

This slice came from a particularly kitten-like loaf, and, I swear, I almost didn't go to work because the uncontrollable desire to make a slew of kitty faces on the slices of bread overcame me as I was making my real sandwich. I had no time for such shenanigans, but ran home immediately after a long day of work and kitty bread heads on the brain, and made this fine specimen of cartoon food*.

That's all! Nothing serious here.

*Making cartoons with food rarely afflicts me, but for more silliness check my seitan cartoon. Sadly, no one got that reference.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Peanut Butter M&M's

These might sound a little pedestrian, but trust me, they're a classic. I thought nothing could beat Crispy M&Ms, but here they are, the underdog.

It's a shame, what with the M&M franchise, that the bigger the nut, the less candy in the bag, which is why I never get the almond ones anymore. Of course, these are just as good.

The M&M isn't bigger, diameter-wise, than your average candy, but is much taller and peaked at times, due to the little blobbette of peanut butter on the inside. It's the same candy shell, same colors, and the peanut butter is good. It's not like Reese's peanut butter cup, there's no crumble, but that would be amazing, no? It's not like a Reese's Pieces taste, that peanut butter hard candy. It's just in a class of its own. To liken it to anything, at its furthest form, would be to Lindt Peanut Butter, because it's a ganache-style butter, quite tasty and salty.

These are just classically great candies. They're my go-to when I just don't feel like eating anything new. I just wish there were more to a bag, because they're addictive as hell.


Cafe Apamate

Update: No longer open.

Cafe Apamate is a Spanish tapas restaurant on the quieter strip of South St. just west of Broad St. This restaurant doesn't get nearly the amount of press or mention that other Philly Spanish tapas restaurants receive, but one thing Cafe Apamate has over the much hyped Garces Spanish haunts, Amanda and Tinto, and even Northern Liberties' Bar Ferdinand, is the fact that Cafe Apamate is BYOB...and you know how purchasing drinks and four to five plates per person can add up quickly.

I was smitten with Cafe Apamate even before ordering any food! I love that I had no preconceived notions -- thanks to the lack of hype -- nor did I feel like I was at the latest trendy restaurant. I also love the warm, womb-like, dark red, narrow interior (I hear there's a patio out back, too). Cafe Apamate could have packed more tables into their narrow space, but left plenty of elbow room.

As far as veggie options go on the dinner menu (there's also a weekend brunch menu), you'll need to stick to the pintxos for the most part, but an off-menu vegetarian paella can be made upon request. Also, be sure to ask what non-veggie items can be made veggie, because there are a couple.

And bring a good bottle of wine for sipping, or have them make it into sangria for you.
Complimentary bread and olive oil will arrive, and if you never touch the complimentary bread to save room for what's ahead like I do, you're gonna wanna hang on to this bread if you're only ordering the pintxos, 'cause they are small!

Cafe Apamate's menu has "small tapas" in parenthesis after pintxos, and they mean it! Some say pintxo means small tapas, while others say pintxo is just the Basque word for tapas. I don't know the truth, and I don't care...I just wish I could predict the size of every restaurants' "small plates."
We started by sharing a bowl (also came in smaller "shot" size) of gazpacho, the soup of the day, and, even though tomatoes aren't in season, they must have gotten their hands on some awesome tomatoes, because the gazpacho was so summery good, we vowed right then and there to make gazpacho this summer. Light, refreshing, and flavor packed...glad we got the bowl and not the shot.Beets three ways are beet chips topped with sherry poached beets, goat cheese and sugared Marcona almonds, and are to die for! Like a refined potato chip with tangy, vinegar-y chutney. I could have used at least one more on the plate. At $6 for the plate, that's a $3 beet chip!The creamy Capricho goat cheese topped with a blood orange slice sitting on a floraly sweet Roibos tea and honey reduction accompanied by olive oil drizzled and toasted bread was my favorite dish of the evening. This is where the complimentary bread comes in handy, because there is more cheese than bread on this dish.
I wish I could tell you what this Nevat goat cheese and membrillo empanada with passion fruit and sherry reduction tasted like, but the empanada was so hot and fresh from the kitchen, that the first bite was rolled around my tongue and promptly swallowed to avoid burning my tastebuds. All I had left after that was a bite of mostly crust...but the crust was fabulously flaky and buttery! This is where having larger "small plates" would have been awesome.
My partner skipped the pintxos and went straight to the entrees when he saw the traditional Basque black rice with shrimp and calamari, remembering eating the same dish in Costa Brava, Spain, and enjoying it immensely. He thought Cafe Apamate's version was almost as good as his dining experience in Spain, but conceded that it was probably just as good, but nothing can compare to eating a dish for the first time in it's home country. Cafe Apamate made him one happy boy!

Note that the above serving dish is huge, as are the two shrimp, so the mound of rice looks small, but is not. The boy was full after half a bowl of soup and one entree. I, on the other hand, was still hungry after half a bowl of soup and three pintxos.
Classic churros, as well as Nutella-filled or dulce de leche-filled churros, are on the dessert menu, and I jumped on the dulce de leche-filled churros. Unable to cut these large, tough churros with my knife, I resorted to picking them up with my hands. The dulce de leche, and the fact that I was still hungry, negated the toughness, and I devoured the churros.

Reading through conflicting reviews on Yelp of Cafe Apamate's churros (some give such high praise, others say tough), as well as Craig LaBan calling them "sublime," I'm thinking the classic churros must be the sublime ones, and the filled ones must be the tough ones.
The dark chocolate mousse with olive oil and salt is thick and super dense. I personally like mousse fluffier. Don't think we finished this dessert; it was simply too much.

Service was friendly and prompt, although dishes came slowly out of the kitchen, but the second they were done. I enjoyed the slower pace and not having five plates crowding a tiny table and dividing my attention, but probably would have been annoyed if I had a movie or show to catch.

With the exception of the desserts, everything we had at Cafe Apamate was fabulous, and the non-pretentious, warm atmosphere gave me such a good feeling that I'm looking forward to trying out the brunch menu. Just hope brunch is larger than pintxo-sized, and, if not, I'll know to order more plates.

Note: Cafe Apamate is Cash only.

Cafe Apamate
1620 South St., Philadelphia, PA 19146
Tues-Fri, 5pm-10pm
Sat., 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-10pm
Sun., 11am-2:30pm
Cash only

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chuao Choco Pod Modena

Choco Pod Modena

There's a Whole Foods-type store near my house called The Fresh Market, and they carry a lot of the fancier chocolate bars that I don't usually splurge on. When I was picking up some apples, I saw these Choco Pods at the check out. This strawberry and balsamic caramel in particular sounded interesting.

Reviewing fancy chocolate like this can be intimidating for someone like me who doesn't have the background to have a truly informed opinion. Therefore, I present this review as an enthusiast, not an expert.

Choco Pod Modena

The pod had a pretty design and smelled wonderful. I love dark chocolate, and this smelled especially good. The first bite was very complex, and my assumptions about the dark chocolate were correct. It was very good. The strawberry caramel was at first tart, then sweet, and it was a wonderful compliment to the smooth dark chocolate.

The dark chocolate melted on my tongue, just as the caramel went from tart to sweet. The balsamic was more of a background note, and perhaps added to the initial tartness. The caramel was runnier than I usually like caramel to be, but the flavor was so interesting that I didn't mind. For both flavor and texture, the Modena Choco Pod was a wonderful treat.

Cybele of Candy Blog also reviewed this and the full line of Choco Pods.


Chuao Chocolatier website

Burger King Tendercrisp Sandwich and Fries

My mom treated me to BK a few days back, and who am I to pass up a free meal?

I opened up the sandwich, and it was hefty, but no- that was just the vegetables. I don't like them. To their credit, I had two large slices of tomato and a good piece of lettuce. It helps to order without mayonnaise, because then there's no "sog" factor.

The piece of chicken was no reconstituted meat for sure. It was tasty, flavorful even on its own, and the bun was good. A nice corn-dusted bun. But it just wasn't anything special, nothing for me to rave about to my friends. Honestly, I'd be better off getting the McDonald's Southern Chicken Sandwich for $2.89 or the cheaper McChicken compared to this five-buck price. It's cheaper, more flavorful, and more filling.

My advice? Go to BK for dessert and the Enormous Omelette Sandwich.
5/10- LAME

Moving onto the fries. No matter how many times I go to Burker King, the fries are always lukewarm at best. They've always had this strange taste with their batter, like the taste of panko without the texture. They're "eh" at best. If anything, their cheesy tots are better.

3/10- GROSS

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nestle KitKat Senses

KitKat Senses

While I'm on the subject of KitKats, here's something I picked up in Canada in March. My husband and I have been trying to cut back on sweets, so it's been tough to balance candy blogging with that. We haven't been depriving ourselves, because there's always room for a little indulgence.

Anyhow, I had seen pictures of this bar, and couldn't resist buying it while in Canada. But, because I had so many other treats, it sat in my "to be reviewed" cupboard for weeks. For those not familiar with the bar, it was basically a KitKat on the bottom with lots of hazelnut cream on top, all chocolate coated

KitKat Senses KitKat Senses

It might have something to do with age, but the smell of this bar reminded me of Halloween candy; some catch-all mix of chocolate, caramel, and nuts. The bar itself is lovely, with "KitKat" stamped on each piece.

The chocolate was smooth, but it may have picked up other flavors from my cupboard, so I'll ignore that. For fans of hazelnut, though, I think this would be nice. The hazelnut topping was mild and creamy, but very sweet. I am not a huge hazelnut fan (I don't even really like Nutella). It was good enough, but I think I will give the rest of mine to someone who likes hazelnut more. One of the pieces was more than enough for me.


KitKat Website