Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tirol White & Cookie Crunch

White & Cookie Crunch

Tirol chocolates are a fantastic value in Japan, and for such inexpensive chocolate, there is an incredible variety of flavors available. Here we have White & Cookie Crunch, from a variety pack I bought.

I've had this flavor many times but never gotten around to reviewing it. From since I was little, I've always liked cookies and cream treats, whether it be ice cream or a chocolate bar. However, as I get older, I've found myself losing my liking for white chocolate.

White & Cookie insides

The chocolate smelled milky and like Oreo cookies. There were big cookie chunks which held their texture very well. It tasted like a cookies and cream Hershey bar, only with more cookie bits. They also drowned out the so-so white chocolate.

The white chocolate was very soft, milky, and had a slightly sour aftertaste. It was made with cocoa butter, but the white chocolate itself isn't great. With the cookies, though, it makes for a good sweet. I always look forward to this one, though!


Tirol Chocolate website

Jell-O: If you love me, you will kill me.

Today, I had four wisdom teeth out. Thus, this is going to be a short and rather snide review.

For hooves and shit, Jell-O tastes pretty good. Would I have rather had this?

Perhaps. But it would have been nice to have the real thing.

Or this, at least.

Jell-O is pretty damned strange. It's, as I discovered early on this year, a complex oscillating harmonic. And it tastes like shit. Who the fuck discovered the Jell-O/tuna combination? Someone with no tongue, that's who.

I am so done. I am in pain. Expect more reviews soon, but this is just getting pathetic. I leave you with some pictures of Jell-O.

2/10- OUCH.

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Alliance Blue

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Mountain Dew Game Fuel

At work, one of out security guards runs a snack stand, and he occasionally stocks new, limited edition sodas. My friend and I had been talking about trying the Mountain Dew "Game Fuel" flavors, so this is the first of two reviews.

I wasn't sure if this flavor had a name or not, because all my friend and I couldn't find anything other than "DEW with a Punch of Wild Fruit Flavor." My husband said it was called Alliance Blue, but I never would have know.

It smelled like a blue popsicle, in that vaguely fruity kind of way. Similarly, it had a blue raspberry-ish flavor (no fruit flavor on the ingredients list, though, just "natural flavors"). I felt like it tasted like soda that Mountain Dew has put out before. My friend thought it tasted like Mountain Dew LiveWire.

I wasn't crazy about it, but I'm not a big Mountain Dew drinker. But for fans of Mountain Dew, I think it would be pretty pleasant. It was fun to try, but it seemed like just another rehash of a limited edition flavor.


Mountain Dew website

Monday, June 29, 2009

A selection from Whisked Away Bakery

Aside from having an incredibly adorable name, Whisked Away Bakery does whisk me- in both senses of the word- to a gastronomical fantasy land.

I got a large package, filled to the brim with treats and colorful paper. There were four treats to eat, an Aztec brownie with cinnamon, chipotle powder, and pine nuts on top, two chocolate chip cookies, two white chocolate cranberry cookies, and an orange creamsicle rice crispy treat.

I tried the white chocolate cranberry cookies first, while munching around and looking at the rest of the goodies. These are huge, huge cookies, about the size of a dessert plate, and thick as hell. They are overall, quite crunchy, with very little give. The white chocolate is dotted intermittently throughout the cookie with the cranberries, as well as some sort of strange, unlisted nut.

Shauna, the proprietor, puts an ingredient list on the back of each package so you know what's going into it. There is very little going into these, and in this case, less is more. These cookies are very filling, if a tad too crumbly for me, but have a delicious, homey feel to them that makes them high on my list.

7/10- LOVELY

Next up were the chocolate chip cookies. I mean, damn, these things really are large and hefty cookies. The batter was similar, with the same warm and homey feel of the white chocolate cookies, but was liberally studded with chocolate chips.

I guess I felt like there would have been a little more chocolate in these, or maybe might have hit the point home better if they were half-dipped in chocolate. They were just a little too crunchy for me, but my dad liked them. He's an aficionado for all things crispy-crunchy.

6/10- YUMMY

Next was the orange creamsicle rice crispy treat. This was truly a gourmet treat. It was two layers thick, one layer consisting of a vanilla bean rice crispy treat and the other layer an orange flavored treat, just like the frozen delight!

The cutest, most adorable part about this, which I personally loved, was the ice cream stick it was perched upon. This served two purposes. It made it into a lollipop, which was extremely cute and original and really played off of the ice cream pop flavor, and it took the stickiness away from my hands. Not that this was even a very sticky treat, actually.

The orange and vanilla, when eaten separately, were delicious, but together, fused a delightful and creamy-tasting treat. The crunch is of the utmost perfection when you sink your teeth into this. I loved how it retained its shape and stuck together without crumbling.

This is, without a doubt, the ultimate kid's delight. And adults, too, now, with this sophisticated flavoring and tasty portability.


The last treat was the real star of this batch, the Aztec chocolate brownie. I have to admit- I almost didn't try this. The idea of chocolate and spiciness has been kicked around by a number of chocolatiers, and the idea just didn't appeal to me as much. But I had to try it, and I can never turn down a good, fudgey brownie.

I was so, so wrong. I warmed the brownie up for a few seconds before eating it, and topped it with a little whipped cream. I took a bite. It was chewy. It was smooth and dense, almost like a ganache cake than a brownie. But no heat. Just when I was about to write it off, it was like a little tiny Shauna was at the back of my throat, pounding at it going, "Not on my brownie, you don't!"




It burnt. It made me salivate. It was perfect. It was perfect and chocolatey and delicious. The ancho chipotle provided a smokey, but very subtle and tasty burn in my throat that didn't hurt or take away any of the taste. It just warmed up my entire sensory system, like drinking a hot chocolate or eating something with lots of cinnamon. It was warm. And so, so tasty.

I was wrong. I'll be the first to admit it. It was incredible. This brownie was like a dessert rather than a bake sale treat. It was amazing, and I'd be glad to try it again...and again...and again! I wish I had a picture to show you, but it's a brand new product from Whisked Away. The pine nuts were the perfect, subtle crunch, too.

10/10- SUPERB

So if you're like me, and dissuaded by some new things, don't be! I tried quail egg...why not this?

Whisked Away Bakery

Schakolad Truffles


Last weekend, my husband and I went for a walk at an upscale outdoor mall. We didn't buy any clothes or trinkets (admittedly, we weren't really the target market), but we did buy truffles.

Schakolad is a chocolate/candy chain store, and I had wanted to go there for a while, but this one never seemed to be open when I was in the area. We finally got a chance to go, so for a quick sample, we bought 4 truffles for $4.50. For the price, I was a little disappointed at the rather basic flavor assortment, but the chocolates certainly looked cute.

We selected Orange, Raspberry Cheesecake, Champagne Ganache, and Dark Milk Caramel. A couple of those aren't on the list from the website, but I'm not sure why. Here's a closer look at the flavors we chose.

Bitten Orange Truffle

Orange was a white-chocolate coated orange truffle with orange sprinkles on top. It smelled very citrusy, and the filling reminded me of orange Starburst, in that it was sour but with a little more sweetness. The filling had the consistency of thick frosting and melted nicely on the tongue. I usually see orange paired with milk chocolate, and the white chocolate with the orange made things a little too sweet here.

Bitten Raspberry Cheesecake Truffle

Raspberry Cheesecake was similar in consistency to the Orange truffle. However, there was no sourness here, just a very rich, milky filling with just a hint of raspberry flavor; my husband and I both wished the flavor had been stronger. I liked it better than cheesecake, though, because just when I had enough richness, the truffle was gone.

Champagne Ganche Truffle

Champagne Ganache was the cutest of the bunch, with the gold stars. The filling was excellent, smooth as can be, and with just a hint of a champagne sparkle to make it special. More champagne fizz would have been good with me, but my husband liked this one best. I did like that the chocolate was a nice, darker milk - sweet but not bitter.

Dark Chocolate Caramel

Even though it was arguably the least special of the bunch, Dark Milk Caramel was my favorite. The dark chocolate coating was tasty, but the milky, chewy caramel on the inside was perfect. It was like an ultra high-class Milk Dud, with that same kind of stick-to-your-teeth caramel but no cloying sugar aftertaste.

I'm not sure if I would buy truffles there again, but my husband and I both found the ones we had to be worth the price for a nice treat. If I did go back, I think I would try the butterscotch truffles.


Schakolad website

Cafe Pendawa Lima

There's a pocket in South Philly's Point Breeze neighborhood called "Little Indonesia" with Indonesian restaurants and stores that I've been meaning to explore for years now (that to-do list is massive), and I finally got around to one of those eateries, Cafe Pendawa Lima.

Well, Cafe Pendawa is not really a restaurant like the highly praised South Philly Indonesian restaurants, Hardena and Indonesia, but Cafe Pendawa, is more of a corner bodega (check out this Chowhound listing for a list of more Indonesian bodegas in Philly).

Cafe Pendawa has a small selection of Indonesian grocery staples in back, and quite an impressive selection of freshly made food. Meals in plastic clam shell boxes are stacked in a large refrigerator along the wall, and sweet and fried goodies are displayed on a table running down the middle of the narrow building.

Scanning the refrigerator and all the plastic clam shells -- some without any identifying sticker, some with just the Indonesian name of the dish, and some with the Indonesian name and a list of ingredients -- I was a bit unsure what was what, and what did or didn't contain meat. I had to ask the friendly employee for assistance. He looked in the case, and said, "Sorry, they all have meat," but I spotted one without any markings that looked promising. "Ah, yes, Gado-gado has no meat," exclaimed the employee.Gado-gado might be one of the only Indonesian dishes I'm familiar with and have eaten before. If you're unfamiliar with Gado-gado, it's a salad with all sorts of varying ingredients of varying textures, but is always dressed with a sweet peanut sauce.
Pendawa's Gado-gado comes with the individual ingredients separated or in containers so every ingredient keeps it integrity until you're ready to assemble the salad and eat it. Chopped lettuce, Lontong (compressed rice cake cut into pieces), Kerupuk (Indonesian fried crackers), tempeh, fried tofu, mung bean sprouts, shredded steamed cabbage, half a hard boiled egg, chili sauce, and peanut sauce (heat up first to get ingredients combined) all came together for an excellent and filling salad that I would not mind eating every day. The ingredients were super fresh; no scary lettuce here!The desserts also don't have names or ingredients listed on their containers (when there even is a container; some are just hanging out in baskets), so I needed help in that department, too. Good thing I asked, because some desserts are made with meat!
The helpful employee recommended Nagasari, explaining it was a banana cake. Inside the banana leaf parcel was a firm, pudding-like dessert made from steamed coconut milk and flour surrounding a firm banana nothing like the soft, pale banana from the grocery store you're familiar with. I was conflicted by the smooth and firm gelatinous texture not common in most Western desserts, but oddly compelled by it, too. I ate it all in a jiffy and wanted more.I also grabbed Terang Bulan to try. Unfamiliar, yet yummy, I can only describe this dessert as minced peanuts, chocolate jimmies and cheese sandwiched between a condensed milk-soaked pancake. I'd definitely get it again.The freshness and quality of the food at Cafe Pendawa is exceptional. You just never know about some of these corner stores in Philly; they'll surprise you in a good way sometimes.

With the exception of a couple of dishes under my belt, I'm practically an Indonesian food newb, but so far so good! I can't wait to try some of the other Indonesian places in Philly, and might even get on it sooner them later.

Cafe Pendawa Lima
1529 Morris St., Philadelphia, PA 19147

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Glico Dessert Pocky Tiramisu

Tiramisu Dessert Pocky

Even though I love drinking coffee, coffee flavored candy usually isn't something I enjoy. However, I've had a few tiramisu flavored snacks lately that are beginning to change my mind.

When it comes to Japanese snacks in America, Pocky has become almost ubiquitous. I've seen it in local grocery stores, book stores, and of course, Asian grocers. Unfortunately, Pocky is nowhere near the top of the list of my favorite Japanese snacks, and the kinds I do like (like Dessert Pocky) are still pretty hard to find. I found these at a Japanese grocery store about an hour from where I live.
Tiramisu Pocky

There were three sticks in each bag, which made them a little hard to share with my husband. The sticks were pretty, with intricate crosshatch milk chocolate drizzled over the white chocolate. They certainly looked elegant, and they smelled of milk chocolate with a faint hint of coffee.

The chocolate coating was nice and thick, and as with the scent, the coffee taste was not at all overpowering. The biscuit added a nice texture and kept the sweetness in balance. On the whole, these were not too sweet, and the cookie/chocolate combination did serve to remind me of tiramisu. These were pretty addictive! For another take, have a look at Japanese Snack Reviews.


Glico website

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fudgenmore's Bakery Treats

Oh my god, this review is so overdue. I feel awful for letting it go so far, but here it is. Hopefully the baker, a wonderful lady out of Beaver Dam, isn't upset!

So in the mail, I got two amazing treats. I got some white chocolate pretzel rods and turtle fudge. They came wrapped adorably in a nice little package, with tags on them.

I opened up the pretzels first. She told me her kids made them, and I'm writing a little shout out here to apologize for taking samples. Buying these pretzels from her kids is awesome, because they get all the profits from whatever sales they make, so to the kids- sorry for taking revenue! Please don't break my kneecaps.

The combination of white chocolate and pretzels is a dazzling one. The size and girth of these rods- giggle all you want- was a perfect canvas for these pretzels. The half dip mingled perfectly with the salty crunch of the pretzels, leaving a taste that was neither too sweet or too salty. I think that one of the nice things about white chocolate is that it has a very soft texture, so it doesn't break off into brittle bits and it melts very smoothly.


The turtle fudge was next. Boy, was it tasty. It was a nice, dense fudge with a thick ribbon of caramel running through the middle, with pecans on the bottom.

This was a very soft fudge, as opposed to the more thick, chewy ones I've had in the past. I've almost preferred it to the others, as it was a nice chew to stick my teeth into. The chocolate flavor was very pronounced, and the caramel was quite buttery. I could feel the different layers on my teeth as I bit into each piece.

If there was one flaw with this, it would be that the sheer size and lumpiness of the pecans just dominated this. It's as though the entire bottom was covered with them. I loved the taste, but at times, they just detracted from the overall soft and gooiness of the fudge. I'd have preferred chopped pecans, sprinkled throughout the fudge for a crunch. Instead, they just sunk to the bottom.

The turtle fudge was excellent, though. Fudgenmore makes many different flavors of fudge with an ample amount of goodies inside.

8/10- YUMMY


A selection from Dei Fratelli

I was sent a nice package from a PR lady today, consisting of four tomato-related products from Dei Fratelli. I was sent two salsas- black bean and corn and Casera, and two tomato sauces- homestyle and tomato and basil.

I started up my pot and got my angel hair pasta cooking for the tomato sauces. I opted out of using parmesan cheese and oil so I could retain as much of the original texture and taste of the sauces as possible. Opening up the tomato and basil sauce, I was hit with a wonderful whiff of concentrated basil, really fresh-smelling, with the tomato smell coming up underneath. Delicious.

On the pasta, this came out just how I like pasta sauce- NOT CHUNKY. Other companies- do it this way. I hate chunks. I hate how they burst. Luckily, this was nothing chunky at all. Finely minced pieces of garlic and tomato could be seen, and it adhered to the pasta really well. Eating this was really good. The basil was a star player in the sauce, but mingled well with the tomatoes and didn't overpower the taste at all. I would have liked to see a bit more garlic in this sauce, though.


The next sauce was the homestyle sauce. It was a little chunkier than the tomato and basil, and for some reason, seemed to have more basil pieces in the sauce than the other. This was strange to me, as a product that advertises basil in its name should certainly have more basil than one without. Regardless, I carried on. The sauce was not chunkier, but seemed to be thicker, like a tomato paste or puree consistency than a sauce.

It adhered well to the pasta, like its predecessor. One of the things I love about these sauces is that they just stuck really well. I had rarely any sauce left on the plate after trying both of these. This sauce was too salty, though. It had a strange mix of very salty and sweet to it, to the point where the flavors just pooped out and it was hard to taste any individual components. The sweetness really detracted me, although I have no idea where it would have come from.

5/10- OKAY

Onto the salsas. I was really excited to try these, as I am a huge fan of all things appetizer-related and Mexican when summer rolls around. So I popped this one open. It is a medium heat, and in the jar, shows many bean and corn pieces floating around. It seemed as though there was not a lot of these in my portion, though. Instead of smelling fresh and having a garden-like consistency, it tasted and felt more like a tomato sauce from a jar than a salsa.

On the chip, the beans were firm, not mushy, but I couldn't find very much corn. What I did find was tasty. I would have liked to taste a little more heat or spices in here, because it just tasted like a weak picante sauce from a jar instead of a homemade feel.

4/10- LAME

This salsa was the real underdog in this review. It was incredible. Opening this, I got a really, really nice smell of heat from the jalapeno peppers, and a delicious tomatoey smell, too. I put it in the bowl and it poured out with a really salsa-y texture. Not many chunks, thank god, but with a really good balance between juice and sauce that made the chips soak up the liquid.

The taste was phenomenal. I just couldn't get enough of this salsa on the chips. The heat was quite complex, and built up to a nice, lingering burn that stayed for a good long time. The texture was perfect, and it smells wonderful. People wouldn't believe this is from a jar.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Domaine Hudson Revisited

The second restaurant review to grace this blog (whoa! that was over three and a half years ago) was for Domaine Hudson, a wine bar and restaurant in downtown Wilmington that I was smitten with when they first opened in late 2005, and am still smitten with to this day. Ask me for a fine dining recommendation in Wilmington, and Domaine Hudson is the first name out of my mouth.

I don't get around to frequenting most of the restaurants I review, simply because there are so many good, new (to me) restaurants to experience, but there are a handful of restaurants that I do return to, and Domaine is one of them, although, I don't frequent Domaine nearly enough, seeing as how they are so close to my house and I enjoy them immensely. Being bone tired and unpresentable after work, and staying in Philly on the weekend are my excuses.

Of all my visits to Domaine Hudson, I've never taken pictures of their food, even for the initial review, so I thought I'd show you some of what Domaine dishes up.

In full disclosure, the owners, Tom and Meg Hudson, know me and know that I write this food blog. They did not know me when I wrote my initial review, but Meg, sharp woman that she is, recognized me the second I walked in their restaurant after writing the review, and called me out in the nicest way possible. Meg and Tom chat me up when I visit, but they do this with all of their customers.
3 wines, 3 ounces, $3 each. The glasses were fuller before it dawned on me to take a picture.

Domaine has a great daily happy hour deal from 5-7pm -- 3 wines, 3 ounce pours, $3 each. Three related wines are up for offer, and you could order just one, but the happy hour deal is a great way to compare three wines and make mental notes all wine connoisseur-like at about half price.

Domaine Hudson is a restaurant with wines as their specialty, and, surprise, they have great wines! Every time we go, we're always writing down what we drank so we can shop for it later. Chat up the server or the owners (sitting at the bar best for this) and they'll help you find a wine you like. One evening, after rating five wines and having my ratings match exactly with Meg's, I learned to just ask Meg what her favorite wine is on their ever changing wine list.

Oh, and if wine's not your thing, Domaine now has a selection of craft beers in bottle. Everybody gets a little love!

The changing menu is not vegetarian heavy, but there are a few dishes, and the chef, Jason Barrowcliff, who has been there since day one, will gladly make a veggie plate. We tend to go for the wine, cheese, and dessert because it somehow seems more decadent, but recently we went all out and had a full meal. It helps that Domaine offers a prix fixe menu of three courses for $35 all the time. And, as always, meat eaters win with the prix fixe.
This complimentary roll with a crusty exterior and soft interior reminds me of the fab rustic rolls I made a while back.
While Domaine's menu changes frequently, I don't think I've ever not seen the baked brie and arugula salad with walnuts, pears, and roasted shallot vinaigrette. It's perfect, and I think patrons would object if it went missing.
These caramelized Brussels sprouts with exotic mushrooms, micro-greens, and aged sherry vinaigrette are some of the best Brussels sprouts I've ever had. I think it was the earthy mushrooms that elevated them to the next level.
This macadamia nut and Parmesan crusted swordfish with asparagus, wild rice, and leek-saffron sauce was said by the boy to be the best cooked piece of swordfish he's ever had.The vegetarian cauliflower and chickpea stew with peas, carrots, and mushrooms in a mushroom broth, topped with sun dried tomato and olive tapenade is a hearty, mild, mushroom-y stew that draws pep from the tapenade. Oh, and it pains me that the chickpeas were undercooked on the one visit I took pictures for a "revisit" on the blog, since I've never had anything wrong with any dish at Domaine Hudson, but there it was.
"Drunken" tiramisu is a sort of deconstructed tiramisu with lady fingers and espresso with vanilla and coffee ice cream. This was the boy's dessert, and while his plate was cleaned, he confessed to preferring a traditional tiramisu.
Domaine Hudson has the best creme brulees! I mean it. The creme part is so thick, creamy and rich, and the brulee part is thick and crunchy. Never a big creme brulee person, I ordered one a few years ago from Doamine, and it knocked my socks off. Since then, I order creme brulees wherever I go, and no one has offered up a creme brulee to match. I find any combination of grainy or runny custards, and over burnt or thin and bendy caramelized sugar tops at other places. Get the creme brulee!

And that's a "revisit" to Domaine Hudson. I really need to go more often. My excuses are lame. What's yours?

Domaine Hudson
1314 N. Washington St., Wilmington, DE 19801
Mon- Thurs,5-10:30p.m.
Fri-Sat., 5 - 11p.m.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chili's Chocolate Chip Molten Lava Cake

Okay, guys, sorry there's been such a lag, but as of now, I am officially a high school graduate. This is very exciting to me.

So to celebrate, one of my friends took me out for graduation, to Lenny and Joe's, and Chili's for dessert. I figured I'd review the dessert aspect of the meal for you all, as it is a grand and celebratory dessert.

I had the chocolate chip molten lava cake. Many words to describe what is essentially an upside-down tart with ice cream. I can forgive, though. The tart came to me with a scoop of ice cream on top, with some of that magic shell chocolate sauce poured over it. I would have personally preferred fudge to the shell, as it made the entire ice cream presentation more cumbersome than fudge may have.

I ate the ice cream first so I could have room for the tart and eat it as it was presented. But to my surprise and horror, the ice cream was a ruse! It was a mask for the true nature of the tart. Chili's skimped. Instead of making a tart with either ganache injected into the middle or an under-baked, "lava" center, they made a completely hollow tart, with a hole in the middle, like a very dense french cruller or a small angel cake, and poured fudge sauce in.

The sauce was good, though, and poured out the side. It was a nice, thick fudge sauce. The cake was dense and reminded me less of a chocolate chip cookie than a stale pound cake. Too crunchy, like it had been overmicrowaved, but it sopped up the melted ice cream and sauce around the edges relatively well.

Overall, not my favorite dessert, and nutritionally, nobody's favorite. With 1240 calories and 64 grams of fat, this is pretty gross. And it's small, too.

Don't buy it. Please. For me. For the children.

3/10- LAME

Monday, June 22, 2009

BoBerry Biscuits

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it is certainly true in the case of Bojangles' BoBerry biscuit.

Bojangles' is a Southern chicken and biscuit fast food chain, not unlike Popeyes, Church's, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, with the exception that:

1) Bojangles' is, um, better.
2) Bojangles' becomes very scarce above the Mason Dixon line -- there are none in Delaware, and one lone Pennsylvania location in Reading.
3) None of those other cuz's have the BoBerry!What is a BoBerry biscuit? A large fluffy biscuit studded with BoBerries (not a real fruit, or real food, for that matter), topped with a slightly salty brush of butter, and drizzled with a sweet glaze. It's sooooo good! I'm salivating just looking at the pictures.

I was lucky enough to snag these babies at the Charlotte Douglas airport on a recent trip. They come two to an order, and, surprisingly, are not that horrendously fattening at only 220 calories and 10 grams of fat each . Certainly not a diet food, but compare one BoBerry to one Cinnabun at 730 calories and 24 grams of fat, and you've got a classic Eat This, Not That.BoBerry biscuits play prominently in my high school days, and perhaps that's why I have such fond memories of what some may consider fast food junk. Evenings of cruising all over town and to friends' houses seemed to always start at Bojangles' for a BoBerry pick up.

The most memorable BoBerry experience was the time I decided not to split an order with a friend, and ate two by myself then proceeded into a roller coaster theme park (oh, Carowinds, so many memories) to return to the parking lot about an hour later to moan and groan. Lesson learned: eat just one!

If sweet's not yo' thang, Bojangles' has awesome, thick-cut, seasoned fries. Who's up for a car trip to Reading?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Treats Done Wright: White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti/Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whoof! Hey guys; this review is way overdue, so my apologies! However, I have two delightful bakery concoctions to present to you today. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures to share as my camera has not been kind to me lately, but I will try the best I can.

First up: Treats Done Wright's White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

I'm not usually a big biscotti person, mostly due to the fact that I am a crumble-phobic. I hate food-induced messes, and cookie crumbles can be the worst. Thus, I wasn't sure how I was going to go about reviewing a biscotti mostly due to the fact that biscottis are infamous for being, well, crumbly. Now to be honest, I'm Asian, and thus, my biscotti exposure has been close to none previous to doing this review. I've had the little Starbucks biscotti in the prepackaged plastic before, and that is about it. Needless to say, I was not impressed with Starbucks' biscotti. This biscotti, on the other hand, was a welcome surprise.

Treats Done Wright's biscotti is a chunky little thing; the portion I received was about three finger widths wide and two thick. However, it's pretty light. Most of that probably has to do with the non-sugar-heavy-ness of the actual cookie, which I appreciated. Most of the sweetness comes with the white chocolate. Now personally, I'm a pretty big fan of white chocolate, but for those who are not (and I know there are plenty of you), the taste doesn't make itself all that obvious, but it's definitely there.

I am really liking the classic pistachio-white chocolate combo. Granted, I'm slightly biased considering that I am a big fan of both pistachio and white chocolate, but according to my 13-year-old little brother (we'll call him our guest reviewer) who does not have an affinity for either pistacho or white chocolate, found the two elements to compliment each other in a way that creates a different blend of taste, rather than the tastes of white chocolate and pistachio smushed together.

And most importantly to me....minimal crumbling! I was pretty happy with this. The biscotti didn't have a hard, crackery consistency like I had feared, but was more or less like....well, like it should be: a big, thick cookie with a nice, solid consistency. Be warned, however, that it is very difficult to break the biscotti into little pieces by hand....just take a big bite out of the thing like I did...you won't be sorry.

I tried the biscotti with a little bit of tea...it doesn't improve or detract from the taste, although it did make it a little mushier; not my favorite, but if crunchy cookies aren't your thing, then go for it.


Next up: Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

I loved this. A lot. Even from first looking at it in its little plastic baggy, I knew this was going to be good...I'm not really sure why considering that it looks just like any other cookie. But considering that these cookies were mailed over from somewhere...not very close to where I live, I was impressed.

I think the thing that captivated me about this cookie was just its small size. I like a big ol' cookie every now and then like any other person, but as a small, after lunch snack, that's a little overwhelming. This cookie's circumference is a little smaller than that of a soda can. Additionally, it doesn't have that horrible addicting quality to it that, if abused, will probably make me fat. It's a one shot deal: you eat this little cookie, and you're satisfied, thinking, 'Dang...that was a good cookie.'

Now about the cookie itself...I liked it. Its softish texture was especially nice considering that a) it didn't fall apart in my hands, but didn't crumble when broken in half, and had a generally pleasant mouthfeel to it, and b) it had been mailed to us. I don't really know why this gets to me so much, but if a cookie's delicate consistency can withstand the powers of the United States Postal System, then I am impressed.

I've always thought almonds as a white chocolate kind of thing, but that could just be me. The almond has a pretty savory flavor to it that I would think would do best coupled with something sweeter than plain milk chocolate, but this cookie has proved otherwise. The significant thing about this cookie is probably that the almond portions are relatively small (I could only see bits of quarter almond in the cookie) but the chocolate chunks make themselves rather obvious. I think the one complaint I'll have about this cookie is that the almonds are practically nonexistent...before I had read the packaging (bad idea, by the way), I wasn't really sure what it was. On the other hand, however, the almond has a fairly strong taste, so any more almond would probably upset the balance between sweet and savory....but a little more almond probably would have made this cookie pretty darn close to perfection.

Admittedly, however, I think the best part of this cookie is basically just how small it is, and how satisfied AND somewhat healthy it makes you feel. I'm kind of liking Treats Done Wright mostly because of this quality...its goods are really quite light in your stomach and satisfy one's sweet tooth without being too overwhelming. This cookie is no exception.


Vanessa Wright
Treats Made Wright

Well, folks, I'm finally done with school now so I'll have some more time to go food hunting...stay tuned for more reviews!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Herr's Baby Back Rib Flavored Potato Chips

Another review from the land of strange potato chips.

These were the same, wide-rippled tasty chips, with the good crunchy base we all know and love. These reminded me a lot of the Walker's Max chips I tried while abroad in the UK.

The chips are very crunchy and crispy, many of them wiggly and wide. A lot of them came through unbroken. One thing about these chips that I loved was the sauciness. It was a thick, powdery, but really saucy taste that I swear, tasted just like a baby back rib barbecue sauce. This is what barbecue chips want to taste like. It was just saucy and tasty, and almost overwhelming. Can't eat too many in one sitting.

I imagine these would be good coating for fried chicken, and they're excellent on their own, too. They're very authentic and stick quite well to their taste. The covering is evenly placed, so you don't get too many bare chips, either.

8/10- TASTY

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lotte Toppo Peach Milk

Toppo Peach Milk

Of all the Pocky-type snacks out there (and there are tons), Toppo is probably my favorite. There are tons of flavors, and I like that the chocolate is throughout the whole biscuit. This Peach Milk flavor came from JBox/JList.

I am a little wary of peach flavored snacks, as they tend to taste a little fake. Also, Toppo is usually a little oily, but I've always liked the kinds I've had in the past.

Toppo Peach Milk

Indeed, this smelled like fake peach, but it didn't taste as fake as it smelled. The peach flavor was not perfect, but didn't taste like chemicals. The light crunchy coating was great, and with the peach cream inside, it reminded me of a danish.

This Toppo was a light and satisfying snack. Even though it was not terribly authentic, it was enjoyable for both me and my husband. I didn't feel overloaded with sweetness or the taste of preservatives, so I'd call that a successful Toppo. Most things I try end up being in the B range, I notice. Maybe I should be more critical....


Lotte Website

Herr's Pizza Flavored Potato Chips

I cannot tell you how freaking excited I was to step into Caron's Corner today, my local grocery store, and see these. For years, I've salivated over the strange and discontinued flavors of potato chips the wonderful Herr company puts out, and finally, there they were.

I grabbed a bag of the pizza chips as well as the baby back rib chips, which will be reviewed soon, and set home.

It was truly the perfect breakfast, in my opinion. A bowl of chips in each hand. They were wide, curly chips with a wide ripple to them, no skinny minnie ridgies for these chips. The chips themselves were thick, too, with that nice Herr's potato smell.

Whoof. Oregano city here. The chips definitely have a pizza spice to them. They really smell like oregano and other assorted spices. They're a bright orange from a cheese powder, which is interesting. These are good chips. They're cheesy like a pizza. They're spiced like a pizza. But there's just no tomato like a pizza? Why is this? Pizza is supposed to have cheese. And Herr's makes such a tasty and delicious ketchup potato chip, with a really good and authentic taste. I guess if they'd combined them, it would have been overload. I don't know.

It was a good flavor, but I just got bored too quickly with these. And the oregano was overpowering. The bag was misleading, with a nice slice of gooey pizza. Oh well.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What I Did On My Free Summer Vacation

Where have I been? In St. Martin at the tiny French and Dutch island's most luxurious hotel and resort!

For being such a good little worker, the boy's employer awarded him (and a bunch of other good little workers from the US and Canada) an all expense paid trip to St. Martin with a generous allowance to spend while at a swanky resort! (The only way that last sentence could have been any cooler, is if I had said he won the trip on The Price Is Right.)

So, you know, I went as his plus one. Hard decision.
Since we had some mad cash to spend that could could only be spent at the resort, we did a lot of eating on the resort. We did not eat the $450 per person 5-course tasting menu with wine pairings (don't balk the next time a restaurant offers a $150 prix fixe), but stuck to the more casual and not so ridiculously priced lunch and dinners. The gratis breakfast was actually my favorite. I ate fresh fruit and pastries every morning, then went and worked out in their fancy fitness center for not nearly long enough to counteract a breakfast of three or four pastries. Despite the French side of the island being praised for having the best food in all of the Caribbean (people just love French food and French cooking techniques), and even dining at a fancy French joint in the culinary capital of Grand Case (signs for all you can eat foie gras were spotted!), this plate of rice and beans, fried plantains, and salad that can be found on any Caribbean island or in Central America was my favorite meal. There is just something so satisfying about this combo.
Every traveling foodie always checks out the grocery stores. The French side has the better grocery stores (like walking into a store in Europe) than the Dutch side (like walking into a store in America/Mexico).
How do you know you're in a store on the French side? You can grab a jar of goose fat, or one of maybe twelve different brands of canned cassoulet. I did neither, or course, but did snag a handful of Bovetti artisan chocolate bars made in Paris. Ooo, la la!
Lounging beach side, I tore through "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles", a fast, fun, and fascinating read about American Chinese food that was last year's hit (I'm always late to the party). Although I am not one of the majority of Americans with an insatiable craving and love affair with American Chinese food, the second I hit the Charlotte Douglas airport on the return trip, I had to have me some Manchu Wok...too much American Chinese food on the brain!

And before you get too jealous of my free trip, nothing is ever free! My cost was a nasty spider bite on the back incurred while on the island. Never had one before. Don't ever want another one. (Uh...turned out to be Lyme disease rearing it's ugly head.) It's day five of being unnaturally exhausted, with a fever and sore muscles, and pretty much thinking I'm gonna die. Cry me a river.

More trip pics on Flickr!