Wednesday, June 30, 2010

UHA High Concentration Matcha Milk Candy

UHA High Concentration Matcha Milk Candy

Another product included in the generous sample pack I received from Tsunami.hk was this UHA Matcha Milk candy. Despite my love of matcha, I had never tried these before - probably because the packaging never jumped out at me. Many UHA products (like Puccho) have eye-catching, colorful designs, but this Matcha candy is clearly marketed to adults. For the record, I'm an adult and colorful packaging full of cute mascots nearly always works on me.

When I opened them, I wasn't sure if they were chews or hard candy - they looked like they could go either way. After a tentative bite, it was obvious that they were hard candy. My memory could be failing me, but I think this is only my second true hard candy review.

UHA High Concentration Matcha Milk Candy

The candies didn't have much of a smell, but they had an immediately rich and milky matcha latte taste. The flavor was very authentic; just like a thick matcha milk drink (despite containing artificial flavoring). The grassiness was well balanced with cream, and the sweetness was just right.

It's such a shame that the dull packaging put me off, because these are some of the best matcha hard candies I've ever had! The richness prevented me from having too many in a row (2 was plenty). I'm not much of a hard candy person (thanks to my dentist), but I don't think I'll have any trouble finishing these.

A

UHA website

Fancy Food Show, Part I

We're back! We've been sleeping for hours. And now it's time to tell you all our stories about the Fancy Food Show in New York.Sunday morning, Keepitcoming and I got up early in the morning and caught the train to Manhattan. Even on the train, there were a few people excitedly discussing the food show, but we slept and organized our stuff for the rest of the day.Upon our arrival, we hailed a cab and took our bags to our entirely awesome hotel, and then went to Javits Center for the show. After getting our badges, we started off on our samplings and meandering of the floor. Javits Center is a massive beast of a hall, so it was a little overwhelming. Luckily, the morning was relatively calm, so we spanned a good part of the first floor and searched for the strange, the unusual, and the excitingly flavored.Fuck yeah, press!

Our highlights for the day included Chocolat Moderne, a chocolatier out of NYC with truffles and caramels influenced by Greek and Japanese flavors. We sampled a rosewater and pistachio caramel, a sesame and wasabi truffle, a soy sauce caramel, a Kalamata olive caramel, and a few different bars from them and found them all to be well-executed and gorgeous, too! There were sections from quite a few countries, too, and many cheeses were sampled as well.We also enjoyed a soda flavored with melon and peppadew, a sweet, small pepper classified as a fruit. It was definitely the most unique drink we sampled throughout the show. Vosges Chocolate also had a fantastic display that we went back to multiple times! Overall, though, our first day was rife with samples, flamboyantly dressed drink salespeople, and an overwhelming selection of incredible delicacies. After about six hours of walking the floor, we headed back to da hotel, a pimping establishment in its own right, and dined on Cuban cuisine. It was a great start to the show, and tomorrow, you'll hear about the interviews and German foosball.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

UHA White Soda Puccho

White Soda Puccho

This flavor of Puccho is a bit of a mystery to me. Though I have some guesses, I'm not positive on what white soda is. Maybe a generic term for Calpis? This one has a very cool package, and contains some milk products, so I'll go with my gut.

One thing I know for sure is that the little Puccho guy on the package is cute. His bubble 'fro is adorable! It's almost as cute as Ultra Puccho-kun, who has been known to sport a pompadour.

White Soda Puccho

The candies were quite sticky and had a mild citrus scent. The first thing I noticed was that, along with the Puccho hard gels, there were fizzy candy balls embedded in the chew. I love a good fizzy candy, but these were pretty mild.

Overall, the flavor was not strong. There were hints of citrus but not much dairy, and they weren't addictively good. That's not a bad thing if you're trying to cut back on candy, but it makes for a standard, unspectacular Puccho flavor.

B-

UHA website

Monday, June 28, 2010

Swift Half Snacks

We recently stopped by Good Dog Bar's newer and more northerly sister, Swift Half Pub, located at Northern Liberties' Piazza at Schmidts to grab drinks and ended up noshing on some $3 bar snacks, as well.

I cannot compare Swift Half to Good Dog because I've only had drinks at Good Dog (can't eat Good Dog's famed blue cheese-stuffed beef burger, anyway), but I'm wishing I had done the same at Swift Half and stuck with the drinks.Of course, I ordered the deviled eggs. A plate of four arrived with a scary pool of water around the deviled yolks, which leads to questions of how the eggs were stored and/or prepared. I should have sent the dish back instead of letting them languish on the table, but I decided to eat the egg with no water only to find a bland filling.
Next up on the bar snack menu were the Yards Porter pumpernickel bread squares topped with a hefty plop of unnoteworthy spinach dip.
The fried sweet pickle chips were the best out of three bar snacks we ordered. Ultra crispy breading and sweet (not the usual dill) pickles are perfect for soaking up alcohol. The oddly translucent pink, thick, sweet and sour dipping sauce was, well, odd. I'd rather almost any dip — ketchup, mustard, aioli — than the pink glop provided.

Swift Half does have a good beer list and a fun little cocktail menu. Pair the drinks with the outdoor seating on the piazza right next to the oft Philly-sports-playing outdoor jumbo TV, and you've got a recipe for relaxed afternoon success. Or crowded mayhem. Thanks to an overcast day with off-and-on rain drizzle to keep the outdoor crowd at bay, we found success. Success with our drinks and relaxing, that is.

Swift Half Pub
1001 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19123

215-923-4600
Open daily 11:30am-2am; food til 1am

Fancy Food Show, Interlude

Dear readers and/or members of my immediate family,

Keepitcoming and I are immensely enjoying the Fancy Food Show, and I will be delivering a blow by blow report of all the festivities as soon as I can. We've been eating a ton of incredible edibles and are rather pumped to tell you all about this. We were especially gratified to sample an astounding variety of chocolate clusters and various extenders. Just dropping by a heads up, and upon our return, expect photos and a panoply of humorous and, as always, scathing commentary.

With love,

Foodette and Keepitcoming

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pure Ume Gummy

day 145

Even though I love all kinds of flavors, matcha is my favorite. Just about everyone seems to have their own signature flavor - the one that they're always happy to see/smell/taste. Ume (Japanese plum) is that flavor for one of my friends - or at least she seems to like it when I send her ume candy.

Pure is one of my favorite gummy brands, and even though ume is not my favorite flavor, matcha Pure gummies would be a bit weird. These were purchased at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, IL. I noted that it's a new flavor with a Japanese taste.

Pure Ume Gummies

The gummies smelled and tasted just like ume. At first, they were quite tart, but they had a sweet plum finish. The prickly sour sugar melted in my mouth, leaving the slightly tough gummy to chew. Pure claims that their gummies have the texture of real fruit, and while I'm not sure that's true, it definitely pleasant.

The flavor was so sour and authentic, and the firm Pure gummy texture was a perfect match for the ume flavor. They weren't as puckeringly sour as umeboshi (pickled plum), but I would recommend these to any ume fan.

A

Pure Website

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Walkers Spanish Chicken Paella Crisps

I'm celebrating World Cup season by exercising complete apathy. My only real recognition of the sport is by coincidentally viewing anything on Swagger's status updates and by eating these chips. In fact, I've moved my attention to a new sport, the deadly art of Facebook banter.

Lately, that banter has been circling around sweet wolf shirts and panic zones, to be quite honest, but I'm considering taking it into the territory of triple-dog dares and public freestyle showdowns. See, Keepitcoming has never had any desire to try any of these strange potato chip flavors that I so covet and lust, but I've been trying to sway her over to the dark side of chemically manufactured tastes, so I'm heavily eying the options of taking this shit to the streets, as they say.She is entirely exempt on one count, though, as I ate this flavor last night. Walkers is celebrating World Cup fever by making fifteen different flavors of potato chips designating the competing teams. This happens to be Spanish chicken paella, a dish with about eight billion different ingredients that I imagine would be difficult to translate onto one snack food, so I was immediately intrigued.There's no scent when the bag is first opened, but the chips themselves are bright orange. They're very thinly cut, but are nearly translucent with all the grease. Compared to Lay's, the thickness equivalent to these, they are much greasier but more flavorful as a result.

As far as taste and accuracy goes, this is a far cry from emulating a hot paella, but the chemists tried hard and managed to come up with a savory and fresh tasting crisp. There's a very heavy, tangy note of green onions that makes up the dominant flavor, and everything else is really generic spices and salty bouillon. With the saltiness, the flavor isn't entirely exciting, but the concept is valiant and the taste is both innocuous and exotic for Keepitcoming. I'm stoked to try more flavors from the new Walkers line.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Christine's Bacon Toffee

I was recently treated to a sampling of some toffee, one of my favorite confections, from Christine's Gourmet Toffee. Not only was it toffee, but it was toffee with bacon. What could go wrong? Little did I know, this would be one of my most pondiferous and curious reviews to date.

Keepitcoming and I sat down to the bacon-laden confection and munched on a bite. And munched. And munched. After roughly a minute trying to unstick our jaws, and believe me, we tried everything, we reached the conclusion that the texture was utterly inedible. Whether it was the heat altering the chemistry of the candy or not, it was just impossible to eat even the smallest bite of this without getting it in your teeth and all over the place. This affected me to the point of changing the review on the last toffee, the truffle truffle, because I realized exactly how important texture can be to making a good toffee.The flavor on this was sublime. It was a real shame that the texture was so off-putting, because I was amazed at how wonderfully the butter and sea salt complimented the bacon. There wasn't a lot, not enough to discern a textural difference in the toffee, so it was a smooth piece all around, but the dairy ingredients just brought out and accentuated the bacon's smokiness so much that it became intensely indulgent to chew.

Wanting to keep this flavor and still be able to eat this without major dental work, Keepitcoming and I devised a plan so that the toffee wouldn't go to waste. The next morning, after an adventure in Manhattan, I woke up and made scones with the toffee in them for breakfast, trying to see if in its melted form, this would be easier to chew on. Lo and behold, it was probably one of the most incredible breakfasts, so in lieu of a traditional review, I give you the recipe and the rating.Bacon Toffee Scones

Ingredients (serves three)
1 cup of flour
1/2 stick of butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup of brown sugar, light or dark
1/2 cup of whole milk
1 slab of bacon toffee

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and sift your flour into a medium sized mixing bowl.
2. With a pastry cutter or two forks, crumble your butter into the flour until it resembles small peas or a slightly coarser batter. Add brown sugar and combine thoroughly.
3. In a food processor or with a large hammer, pulverize your toffee until it's chopped up into small, bite-sized chunks. Dust with flour and put aside.
4. Mix in your milk gradually, adding toffee when all is incorporated. Don't overmix it, but make sure it's dry enough to roll out onto a cutting surface.
5. Do that. Roll it out, that is. And cut into six squishy squares onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown and toffee is bubbling out.Keepitcoming with butter oozing between her fingers. This is porn for the awesome.After baking these, the toffee was even better. The bacon was basically infused into the scones, and with the richness of the pastry and saltiness of the candy, it made a complexly flavored, but easy to make breakfast with barely any preparation. I'd definitely try this with other recipes, too, as bacon and toffee is quite versatile.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Morinaga Cola Hi-chew and Canned Pineapple Hi-chew Jr.

Hi-Chew

In the past, the flavors of Hi-chew Jr. that I've tried have had tiny, tooth-shatteringly hard sprinkles in them that make them too treacherous for me to enjoy. Thankfully, these two flavors of Hi-chew, provided by Tsunami.hk, were sprinkle free!

The yellow package of Hi-chew Jr. is Canned Pineapple flavored, and the small (but not Jr.) black package is Cola flavored. Both of these flavors are on the rare side in the United States, but both are flavors I enjoy.

Canned Pineapple Hi-chew

The candy had a strong pineapple aroma, and as you can see, it was solid yellow instead of white on the outside like normal Hi-chew. It tasted like pineapple, but it was very sweet, which made it more like the canned variety. There were also hints of cherry and tropical flavors, making it quite authentic. A-

Cola Hi-chew

Cola had a good cola scent and flavor, but it seemed extra sticky. It may have been my imagination, but there was a slight fizz to this Hi-chew. The caramelly cola flavor was decent, but I've had better cola candy. More fizz would have made this one a winner for me. B

Morinaga website

Monday, June 21, 2010

El Camino Real

Can't decide if you want Mexican or Texas bbq? Do you like mounds of seitan? El Camino Real in Liberties Walk has you covered!

Endless chips and salsa are not complimentary at El Camino Real. They'll set you back $1 per person, which is a tad lame, but the chips do come dusted with a tasty mix of spices, if you're into that (I am). Smoked pico de gallo and salsa verde will be your chip dips.

Pitchers of margaritas are di rigueur, and our passion fruit margaritas, one of the fruit flavors of the day, did us just right. We did not measure the contents, but my gut feeling (and from experience) is that the pitchers at the popular and neighboring Cantina Dos Segundos are a tad larger, albeit $2 more expensive. El Camino Real lets you spice up your margaritas with cayenne and chili, though. But they don't do frozen margaritas, like Dos Segungo does. Ah, the margarita conundrum!
This crispy fried jalapeno popper (one of four) stuffed with cheese and topped with a sweet and tangy homemade apricot red onion marmalade, might be one of the best jalapeno poppers I've ever had. I have a thing for sweet and tangy onion marmalade, though.
That would be melted cheese in that there popper. (I keep typing "pooper.")
I blame the boy's expert enchilada-making family, but if there is an enchilada in sight, it's on his plate. Cheese, seitan, fried egg, and fried corn dough made soft with red chili sauce. What's not to like? Well, El Camino Real puts a crispy fried tortilla under all that mess adding an unexpected and desirable crunch. It's like a way, way, way better (and different) Taco Bell Double Decker.
This picture is a little deceiving, but there is a ton of locally made Ray's seitan bathed in bbq wing sauce on that plate of veggie wings. And it's not even the double order. At $7.50 for the normal order, I'd consider buying seitan from El Camino Real instead of the grocery store if I lived a bit closer. Tangy, mustardy, with a little heat, the only improvement to the wing sauce for my tastes would be to make it a tad sweeter . . . but not sickly sweet.

El Camino Real: a little bit Mexican, a little bit Texas bbq, and a whole lotta seitan.

El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19123

215-925-1110

Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm
Dinner: 5pm-1am, bar til 2am

Brunch: Sat & Sun, 10am-4pm

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Snyder's Hot Buffalo Pieces

I took a nice weekend to myself to attend a local WASP festival with Keepitcoming, and to prepare for the Fancy Food Show, which is a mere week away. We're quite jonesed, I can assure you. Today at work, though, I was feeling a little bold and I put down my needlepoint and bought these pretzels.

I'm no stranger to spicy foods. I absolutely love wings, and have perfected an egg scramble with sour cream and sriracha during breakfast. So it was natural for me to be drawn to these, like a 1970's socialite to clusters of caviar. The pretzels themselves are not whole pieces, rather, they are crushed up and coated with a flavoring. In this case, the buffalo sauce.Because the pretzels are crushed, they have more of a chance to get coated with the flavor. Thus, the pieces themselves look like the aftermath of a Snooki/Oompa Loompa fanfiction orgy, bright orange and flaking all over the place. And I'll admit, I was really excited to try them once I saw the seasoning.The first flavor that hit my taste buds was vinegar, and it stayed vinegary for the entire bite. Despite the color and "five-alarm" hype, there was literally no heat in these whatsoever. Honestly, I was taken aback, because the buttery trademark of the wing was present. It had all the elements of a wing, including a poultry aftertaste, but completely missed the mark on the one thing that makes Buffalo wings delicious. Even after eating a bunch of these at once, cramming them into my mouth like a porn star at a gang bang, there was nothing that made me think of the heat that wings deliver.

These were wishful thinking. If I was to give helpful advice to Snyder's, as a soccer father from the mid-seventies, I'd say something like, "C'mon, slugger, you can lick this," because I expect more of Snyder's and wish that they hadn't dropped the ball on this one.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Godiva Ice Cream Parlor Truffles + 1 Bonus Truffle

Ice Cream Shoppe Truffles

That Godiva Chocolate Rewards free truffle every month program is still working out in Godiva's favor, and this surprises no one. This review includes my free truffles for May and June, plus some others I just had to try. Most of these come from Godiva's new Ice Cream Parlor Truffles line, along with one random truffle that sounded good.

Long ago, I regarded Godiva as the best of the best, then after starting this blog, I saw their chocolate as not-so-good. Now, after sampling many truffles, I do have more respect for Godiva. Not all of their truffles are winners, but they make some superb pieces.

Pistachio Truffle

First, my selections from the Ice Cream Parlor line, starting with Pistachio. It was subtly sweet with an ultra soft and creamy ganache. The pistachio flavor was quite subdued, but it was still very good. Pistachios are my favorite nuts, so I wish the flavor would have been a bit stronger. A-

Oranges & Creme was creamsicle all the way, but it was very sweet. It was like super sweet orange frosting, with a mild citrus and tons of creme. The cloying sweetness was too much for me, though. C+

Neapolitan Truffle

Neapolitan was a favorite ice cream flavor of mine growing up, and Godiva definitely nailed it. The strawberry flavor was distinct and delicious, and the vanilla portion was not too sweet. Despite these distinctions, somehow, the special Neapolitan taste when all the flavors come together was still there. This was my favorite piece out of the line. A

Mint Chocolate Chip was a very good interpretation of the ice cream of the same name, but since I'm not a huge fan of that ice cream, it didn't stand out for me. The mint was cool and creamy, and the sweetness was well balanced. B+

Lemon Sherbet Truffle

Lemon Sherbet was very tart and had an authentic lemon flavor, but like the Orange & Creme, the sweetness far outweighed the sourness. It seems like they overcompensated for the sour lemon, and it ruined this truffle for me. B-

Godiva Extra Dark and Hazelnut Gelato

Hazelnut Gelato (pictured above on the right) was quite unique; it had a very smooth and almost whipped mousse ganache center like no truffle I've had before. The hazelnut flavor was very mild, but that suited me fine. A hazelnut lover might be a bit disappointed. B+

I didn't try all the flavors from the Ice Cream Parlor line; I'm missing Double Dark Chocolate, Rocky Road, and Coffee Gelato. UPDATE: I tried Pecan Sundae!

Pecan Sundae Truffle

Pecan Sundae was very sweet, but pretty good. It was another double-chamber chocolate, with caramel and vanilla cream sections. The candied pecans on top were delicious, and the texture of the caramel was like a Caramello - soft and runny. Still, it was a bit too sweet for me. B+

Godiva Extra Dark Truffle

Finally, the bonus truffle! Extra Dark was literally amazing. The ganache was thick and bitter and the texture reminded me of the center a brownie. The balance of sweet and bitter was perfect, and the dark cocoa flavor was just right. I would definitely buy this truffle again! A+

Check out more reviews of the Ice Cream Parlor Truffles at Chocolate Obsession and Sugar Pressure.

Godiva website

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Truffle Truffle Beer and Pretzel Brittle

This review brought to you, in bed, courtesy of a pants-free lifestyle. Thank you for reading.

On a more awesome and non-clothing related note, this is one of three selections from truffle truffle, a Chicago-based company making truffles (duh), caramels, and other confections. I was sent a selection of their treats, including this fantastically original concept, beer and pretzel toffee.

You all know, from my rehashed "fun facts," that I'm generally not a fan of beer. That stunt last year with the police and the Sam Adams brewery and the biological terrorism didn't help matters, either. So beer hates me and I'm pretty much done with beer. Facebook official, natch. But I will meet you beerophiles halfway and agree that pretzels and beer are a classic combination.This toffee is infused with chocolate stout, covered in milk chocolate, and rolled in chopped pretzels. Each piece makes a substantial snack, truffle truffle's main chef, Nicole, choosing to make a thicker toffee than a thinner, more brittle confection. This proves to be a positive change in the texture of the piece, bites flaking off with a substantial chew, yet not breaking too easily as to shatter mid-bite, and mingles with the pretzels without melting too quickly.The flavor is a bit muddled. The toffee itself is predominant, but lacks the beer infusion that I came to wonder about. It's mainly a very buttery and rich flavor. The milk chocolate is a thin coating, but serves a good purpose of giving the toffee another layer of depth in its taste. As for the pretzels, they gave a fantastic crunch and played nicely with the toffee, but I would have preferred more salt to balance out the toffee's sugary finish.

Overall, this concept has me inexorably curious. Would the beer flavor be more prominent in a candy with a lower boiling point or cooking temperature? The concept paves the way for many ideas, and I applaud the ingenuity of the chefs in coming up with this neat little snack. Overall, a great candy and a truly fascinating idea.

Bourbon Matcha ChocoChip Puchi Cookies

Bourbon Matcha Chocochip cookies

I haven't thought about this kind of cookie much since I spent the summer of 2004 at a university in Nagoya, Japan, but I used to get them all the time at the local Valor (a Wal-Mart type department store). I can remember many different kinds of these tiny cookie tubes, including vanilla cream sandwiched and chocolate chip, but of course, matcha suits me best.

It would have never occurred to me to order this type of cookie for myself, but now that I have some, I realize I missed them. These Matcha ChocoChip cookies were provided by Tsunami.hk, an online shop with an extensive selection of Japanese candy as well as some other specialty items.

Bourbon Matcha Chocochip cookies

The scent of matcha was definitely noticeable, along with the familiar aroma of packaged cookies. They had a nice, crunchy texture with vanilla notes that reminded me of Chips Ahoy (or other branded chocolate chip cookies). The grassy and delicate matcha flavor was certainly there, if a little weak, and it went very well with the slightly bitter chocolate chips.

If you exert a little self control, these tiny cookies make great little indulgent snacks. The are around 25 mm in diameter, and even if you eat the whole package, it's still under 300 calories. I enjoyed mine with a cup of green tea. My only complaint is that the matcha flavor could have been stronger, but that's just because I'm a matcha nut.

A-

Bourbon website

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wise Jalapeño Cheddar Chips

I was peckish yesterday and after my excursion at C-Town with Swagger, was feeling like a little snack, so I picked up a bag of these Wise jalapeño cheddar potato chips. C-Town has a bigger selection of more interesting snacks, but I guess I was feeling a little pedestrian and wanted spicy food without the risk of lead poisoning.

These particular chips were pretty ballsy. They decorated the bag with peppers so you could see how serious they were. These chips weren't flaking out, that shit was in your face like a can of mace, with the clip art and bas relief drawings of jalapeños. The delivery, though, the soliloquy that I so relied on from these chips, was entirely unsatisfactory.Upon opening the bag, I noticed that it was half empty, filled up to the cheese wedge graphic on the bag. If you were an optimist and a douchebag, you'd say, "It's half full!" and I'd be forced to brutally sodomize you with a chili pepper. But there weren't many chips crammed that far down, perhaps about twenty or so in the bag's entirety. It was a bit of a rip off. But once I tasted them, I realized that I wasn't missing very much at all. The chips themselves were a creamy orange color, with no specks of any belying pepper essence whatsoever.The flavor promised bold, exciting, risqué delights that would tantalize the palate and blow your fucking mind, but in all actuality, they tasted like regular cheese chips. They weren't interesting at all, and they certainly weren't spicy. They were standard, thin cut potato chips with a good crunch, but barely a spritz of what could have been a well executed flavor. I was disappointed and demanded more.

On a lighter note, though, Keepitcoming has deigned to drop in with some witticisms on my most recent posts, so keep an eye out for her delightful commentary, especially that on Soylent Green and Special K. It's people! Huzzuh!