Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lotte Green Gum

Green Gum

Another item in my package from Tsunami.hk was this Green Gum. With only that name to go on, I assumed it would be mint, but it was hard to be sure. The simple, old fashioned, and, of course, green packaging didn't give much away.

Green Gum is one of Lotte's signature gum flavors, and according to their Let's Chewing website, it contains chlorophyll and green tea flavonoids, giving the chewer minty and woodsy sensations.

Green Gum

The gum gave me deja vu; it smelled just like the candy cane page in a Christmas scratch and sniff book I had as a child. The mint flavor different, but it was fresh and a little sweet; it reminded me most of spearmint. There was a hint of evergreen, making for a woodsy, refreshing mint flavor.

The texture was soft and bouncy at first, and the cooling effect was pleasant. I loved it at first, but within 2 or 3 minutes, it lost most of its flavor, then became firmer as I chewed. Still, the initial flavor was unique and tasty and it was a good breath freshener, but it wasn't a long lasting chewing gum.


Lotte gum website

Snack Nostalgia (Linked Article)

Do you ever miss snacks from your childhood? Here's a fun list mainly geared at for Generation Yers (like myself), but I think older and younger readers might get a kick out of it, too. Collegecrunch.org compiled a 20 Discontinued Snacks We Wish Would Come Back list, complete with classic commercials.

Personally, I'm pretty happy with the current snack selection, but there are a few things I miss. On the Collegecrunch list, I fondly remember the palate-slicing French Toast Crunch cereal and, of course, that a classy little party beverage called Ecto Cooler.

Off the list, I've already mentioned the brief American appearance of Koala Yummies, and every now and then, I get a craving for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies. How about you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kasugai Cream Soda Gummies

Kasugai Cream Soda Gummies

This cute yet slightly creepy package of gummies called out to me, although I can't remember where. It wasn't a gift...maybe I bought it in Vancouver, BC this October? I mention this because I'm normally very good about remembering where I buy my snacks, but these, I'm just not sure.

The company Kasugai makes many gummy candies, including a well known, Engrish-laden line called Gummy 100 that is made with 100% fruit juice. They are well-worth trying, since they taste just like real fruit. I especially love the red and green grape flavors, but that's for another review.

In Japan, cream soda almost always means melon cream soda, which is why this package is predominantly green. The gummies themselves are green and white, with the white half simulating a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It might be called a Melon Soda Float in the US (if we had melon soda).

Kasugai Cream Soda Gummies

The gummies smelled like slightly floral melon and citrus in the open bag. There was an odd coating to the gummies that made them feel slippery, and it immediately put a powdery film on my teeth. It went away quickly, but it was weird and detracted a bit from the otherwise very tasty flavor.

The green part was a mildly sour, almost melon gummy with hints of lime, and the bottom layer tasted and chewed like marshmallow for a neat texture play. Actually, the weird waxy film reminded me of eating straight marshmallows (something I haven't done since I was 8 because I don't like them).

Still, the flavors melded together so nicely, and these went over well when I shared with friends. No one mentioned the filminess, but they raved about the flavor, so I'd still recommend these gummies.


Kasugai website

Miss Rachel's Pantry

So, I'm sending Twitter messages back and forth one day with Rachel Klein of the blog Miss Rachel's Pantry, and she says, "Hey, I have a little extra food left over today. How about I drop some off for you?"

Why does Miss Rachel have extra food? Because she's cooks up batches of vegan food that is sold locally at Green Aisle in South Philly, and at Greensgrow's Saturday farmer's market in Fishtown. Miss Rachel is also a personal chef, offering in-home vegan cooking or meal delivery. She caters special events, and has holiday meal packages, too, like the over 50 vegan Thanksgiving dinners she recently prepared!

Miss Rachel dropped off for me baked beans, collards, and mashed potatoes. It was like she knew all my favorite foods!

The skin-on, mashed red potatoes are home-style chunky, and lightly seasoned with garlic and truffle oil, letting the potatoes really shine through.

And, this Southern girl gives a huge thumbs up to Miss Rachel's tenderly cooked collards with just a hint of spice and sweetness. Studded with a few bits of sweet potato, I think I'm going to steal that trick the next time I make collards.

Man, oh man! Those slow baked beans in thick, sweet, tomato-based sauce with caramelized onions are a religious experience. These are not canned baked beans! As I went to wash off my plate before opening the dishwasher, I licked my plate instead of turning on the water. Yep, I licked my plate, that's how good Miss Rachel's baked beans are!

Miss Rachel is your girl, if you've ever wished to come home to a healthy, home-cooked vegan meal, or have someone else prepare a full vegan spread for an upcoming party. Miss Rachel even caters to bands on tour, so what ever you need, she can probably do it.

Check out Miss Rachel's site for details on meals and catering. And, for a quick fix, duck into Green Aisle for Miss Rachel's soups, or Greensgrow on Saturdays for Miss Rachel's sandwiches, casseroles and other sides.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco and Chipotle Wedges

I know the fad has come and gone, but I don't know if any product has irritated me so much as 100 Calorie Packs. All of a sudden, there were eight hundred varieties of my favorite snacks in twee miniature sizes with twice the packaging. Terribly annoying, as I now had a reason to diet and still eat my favorite foods.

So I've never really been into foods whose only redeeming factor lies in touting their number of calories. With 100 calories being the proverbial price point for most people to snack on, there isn't a whole lot of indulgence your caloric budget can buy. But I've always loved Laughing Cow products. And with regular Laughing Cow wedges weighing in at fifty calories, I was skeptical to try ones that were even less- 35 calories a wedge. Could I create a 100 calorie snack that was both practical and satisfying?Four Ritz crackers have 64 calories, and one wedge of cheese is 35, clocking in at 99 calories. Perfect. Spreading this cheese, I was impressed with how creamy and soft it was. It had a slightly creepy pink tinge to it, like salmon paste or Pepto Bismal, but I wasn't too worried. The flavor was amazing- for 35 calories, this rivaled queso I've had in restaurants. I'd be curious to see how this would work in a warm dip. Although calling it queso fresco might be a stretch, it was certainly tangy and creamy, with none of the chalkiness that comes from low caloric dairy-based foods. It was like listening to the melodic stylings of Journey and preferring the renditions by my roommate, Aggie- completely unexpected.The chipotle was present not in a burn, but in a subtle spiciness and intensely smoked flavor more like paprika than pepper, but I was pleased that it was still there. It was absolutely delicious on plain crackers and seems versatile. I appreciate the effort of Laughing Cow to go out on a limb and create interesting flavors, and I can see myself using this on bagels, homemade pizzas, and more. I'm pumped and under the crushing regime of 100 Calorie Packs no longer, because I am free!

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage Pancake Bites

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage Pancake Bites seemed to be right up my alley- like a more portable, cleaner method of suicide- versus the McGriddle, that is. Fantasies of creating a meta-sandwich entered my head briefly, knowing that if I did so, I would certainly need a will alongside my plate.

I assume this is some sort of begrudging acceptance of the failure of Dunkin's short-lived maple waffle sandwich, because these really resemble the competition without reinventing the wheel. But are they better than my old standby?To my surprise, these weren't so bad. But then again, my standards for "not so bad" include durian cookies, Three's Company, and the song "Christmastime in East Haven." They're about as big as your average free-range pheasant egg or an obese cocktail wiener, and have a cornbreadesque outer shell. I would not put it within the realm of pancake- it is much heartier than that. Expecting a harder, crustier exterior, I was surprised to bite into something vaguely fluffy, but also kind of oily. To give you an idea about how large they are, I've compared them to some items at my job.
Sausage Pancake Bites are approximately 5x smaller than this automatic push pump soap dispenser ball.

Sausage Pancake Bites are roughly 300x smaller and 300x less pointless than this modern, turtle-shaped espresso machine, complete with my creepy hand looming in the reflection.

Sausage Pancake Bites are approximately 12x less fatal than these My First Serial Kill knives, if thrown at an opponent's jugular.

I was a little disappointed at the lack of maple syrup in these. Like Yankee Candle, they smell of vaguely delicious artificiality, but unfortunately do not taste like that. I have learned this the hard way and am now banned from South Deerfield. The pancake shell is a throwaway gimmick, in this case, taking the form of a microwaved greasy cornbread thing, and the sausage inside was tasty, yet somewhat unremarkable.They're just not filling enough for me to warrant consuming 300 calories when I could easily budget that towards something more sustaining, healthy, and tasty. I won't be passing these up for my favorites, but I'm glad I tried them out at least once. They were inoffensive and portable, but not quite what I was looking for.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Madison Cheese, Etc., Madison, CT

Keepitcoming and I are back for Thanksgiving break, staying at Chez D with the good doctor herself, L, and a menagerie of animal friends. After getting an early night in, we woke up this morning excited to meet the day. Dr. D recommended a local cheese shop, Madison Cheese, Etc. in the center of town, highly lauding their delicious grilled cheeses.

Hankering for a warm meal, we checked out their menu. Each of their sandwiches is featured around mice- Country Mouse, City Mouse, etc, and can be customized with their rotating cheese selection. I was hoping to get a piece of the Drunken Goat cheese that An Immovable Feast is always talking about, but unfortunately, they didn't carry it.

Keepitcoming got a Croak Mousey, their take on a Croque Monsieur, with a blend of cheeses and Black Forest ham. You can add hot sauce or mustard, so she added on mustard, and a healthy dollop of whole grain was added to the sandwich. My sandwich was one of their Welsh Mice, featuring Welsh cheeses. My first two choices were sold out, so I ordered a sandwich with Harlech cheese, a white cheddar blended with horseradish and parsley. Although I normally love condiments, I opted out in fear of the flavors contrasting.Our sandwiches were quite hot and well pressed, oozing cheese and butter on the outside. They each included a dried apricot on the side. Keepitcoming enjoyed her sandwich, but found the ham to be blander than she expected. All the portions were adequate and the cheese was tasty, but she liked the crisp on the white bread with my sandwich versus than on hers, made with whole grain bread.My sandwich was really comforting and gooey- a sophisticated twist on my childhood favorite. The white bread was buttery and crunchy on the outside with a thick enough cut to not get soggy in the middle of the sandwich. The cheese was delicious, with the pungent tang of horseradish without a lot of the heat. I saw nor tasted any parsley. It was the perfect consistency of cheese, oozing out of the middle in nice strands, but next time around, I'd add sauce now knowing that it can hold up to the crunch of the bread and would probably try another cheddar.

Ritter Sport Cappuccino

Ritter Sport Cappuccino

A few weeks ago, I house-sat for my parents when they were out of town. My parents know me pretty well, because they "paid" me in chocolate! Their two cats are so cute that I would do it for free, but I wasn't about to turn those candy bars down.

Part of my "payment" was this Ritter Sport Cappuccino bar. Although I've seen it many times in stores, I've never purchased it for myself or even tried it. I love drinking coffee, but I'm always a little wary of coffee flavored treats. Too many of them have the sour, bitter aftertaste of cold, old coffee and not enough of the bold, toasty richness of a fresh cup.

Ritter Sport Cappuccino

The chocolate had a mild coffee scent, and the milk chocolate coating was sweet and just a bit salty. The filling was smooth and cool on the tongue, and it had a creamy coffee flavor.

Thankfully, the coffee flavor wasn't too sour, and the sweetness of the chocolate balances the subtle bitterness from the cappuccino flavor. Overall, the bar was enjoyable and sweet without being cloying, and it was one of the better coffee flavored sweets I've tried.


Ritter Sport website

Monday, November 22, 2010

Theo Chef Sessions Confection Collection

Leave it to Theo, purveyors of the 3400 Phinney line, one of my favorite varieties, to create a box of chocolates that seemed to scream my name. Featuring unusual flavors, most of which centered around an autumnal theme, a limited time offer, and aesthetically pleasing compositions, how could I pass up the opportunity?

I was pacing my nine by nine cell, er, dorm, when this arrived, and I raced down to pick it up. The box had some surprising heft, and when opened, exposed the little jewels of chocolates inside. When Keepitcoming arrived, we quickly set about trying them.

Seven flavors from seven different chefs was the basic premise, but some of them looked pretty exciting. I've found that good chocolates, like good wines, have distinctive evolution in each bite, and develop their flavor during the period of consumption.

My most serious gripe is in the composition of this box. For whatever reason, there was no flavor guide on the box, and the juxtaposition of the text on top and the candies caused for some confusion while we ate. While it was fun to play a bit of a guessing game with the chocolates, I like to arrange my tastings by levels of intensity, and this caused for a somewhat mixed set of flavors. I wish the arrangement was either clearer or simply included a small map of flavors.We'll start with the average. The caramels, for whatever reason, seemed to have less of a mastery of the flavors they were supposed to represent. The carrot caramel, by Gabriel Rucker, had a bit of acenscence to its flavor, sort of an earthy bitterness that was refreshingly rootlike versus the shredded bastardization carrot typically takes on in most desserts. There was presumably curried sea salt on top, but I didn't taste it. Maria Hines' tamarind lime chili caramel was true to its heated nature, but I think that was more from the chili garnish on top rather than the actual candy, and the only note of lime we tasted was at the end, and for a brief, fleeting moment. There was no tamarind to be found.

On a steady incline, we had the candied beet and almond praline truffle, by Holly Smith. The whole truffle had a nicely toothsome texture, but the beet's flavor was highly diluted. The overall flavor was reminiscent of a tasty PB&J. If it had been represented as such, I might have been happier. However, the upscale ingredients seemed to imply a more exotic flavor, when the classic combination of a fruit jelly and a nut butter, to me, really only means one thing. Still tasty, but not nearly as strange as its components. The armagnac prune ganache and green peppercorn caramel was also tasty, with all the flavors taking center stage, but like an episode of Glee, were not as harmonious as I would have assumed.One of our top three flavors was the huckleberry and cinnamon basil ganache truffle. I was originally a little skeptical because I thought the only hint of basil was the garnish on top, but there was another layer of ganache on the bottom, in white chocolate, and the flavors exploded on our tongues. The infusion of herbs in this was truly decadent, and brought back fond memories of summertime adventures and summertime drinks. The overall experience was very well executed.

My personal favorite out of this entire collection was the pine resin ganache. Harboring a strong affinity for all things wood-smoked, smoke scented, or reminiscent of petrichor, I knew this was going to be right up my alley. And it was! The pine resin was in little, brittled chunks studded throughout the ganache, giving it the texture of a feuilletine, and had a wonderful smoky, meaty flavor enrobed in the nice rounded dark chocolate. Really exquisite.

The last confection we tried was Chris Cosentino's agro dolce brittle, with capers, pine nuts, and currants. The salt in this was the strongest particular element. I'd have never guessed that there were pine nuts or currants in this otherwise. The capers worked surprisingly well with the chocolate and the brittle, and gave an intense, briny flavor overall. I found that the layering of flavors was the best executed out of the entire box- there was an immediate melt of the dark chocolate, followed by the buttery, crunchy brittle, and a sudden salinity in the middle, from the capers. I liked that part the best, and it lasted for quite a while, mingling with the brittle before dying down into a mixed finish.

I wanted to like this box a lot more, but the chocolates were hit or miss, so I'd worry about giving this as a gift, especially with the small quantity. They were more of a high quality, adventurous novelty than anything else, and the lack of a booklet and mixed quality of these makes me hesitant to recommend these to anyone less intrepid.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies Invade South Philly

The Erace brothers, Adam and Andrew, purveyors of local fine foods at Green Aisle Grocery down on East Passyunk Ave. in South Philly, have magically made Momofuku Milk Bar cookies available to Philadelphians who don't have the extra half day to venture to David Chang's renowned New York bakery, Milk Bar, headed by pastry chef Christina Tosi.

Fresh baked Momofuku Milk Bar cookies are FedEx-ed weekly to Green Aisle, and sold individually or in containers of six. I arrived at the South Philly grocer mere minutes after Green Aisle tweeted the arrival of the cookies (Green Aisle is great about tweeting new arrivals and specials, so be sure to follow them), and snagged one of each of the five varieties of cookies available — Corn, Chocolate Chocolate, Blueberry and Cream, Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow, and Compost Cookie — to put the cookies to the taste test and see if they lived up to the hype.
Let's just start with my favorite cookie out of the bunch, the Corn cookie. This soft, yellow cookie tastes not like corn bread, as you might imagine, but like the sweetest creamed corn you've ever had, but the cookie is not the over-sweet sugar bomb that some of the other Milk Bar cookies are. The Corn cookie is a unique and compelling flavor you won't find at most bakeries, so comes out top winner.The Chocolate Chocolate cookie has a deep chocolate aroma, is moist and chewy — like a cookie and fudge had a baby — with hints of salt enhancing the bitter and sweet. If you are a lover of chocolate, and want a deep chocolate flavor without the distraction of chocolate chips, this is the cookie for you.
The Blueberry and Cream cookie is sweet and chewy, studded sparingly with white chocolate chips, and perhaps too sparingly with dried blueberries. The "cream" part of the cookie is achieved by adding milk powder, but the "cream" did not shine through the sugar and butter. I guess I was hoping for more blueberry and cream.
The Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow cookie has crispy, toffee-like edges (due to the high sugar and butter content, many of Momofuku's cookies have toffee-like edges), and the soft center is studded with chocolate chips, crunchy little bits of cornflakes, and crispy/bendy melted marshmallow blobs. This cookie is incredibly sweet. I would have loved this cookie as a kid, but as even a sugar-loving adult, this cookie is a bit much.Out of the package, the Compost cookie smells like coffee, and that's because there are coffee grounds in the cookie. Also in the cookie are chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crumbs, pretzels, and potato chips. Besides the hint of coffee, the Compost cookie and the Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow cookie are almost identical in that they are overbearingly sweet, soft cookies chock-full of sweet and savory goodies. Again, I would have loved this cookie as a kid.

Honestly, all of the Milk Bar Cookies taste great. And it's no wonder, because butter jockeys for first (!!) and second place in the ingredient list for every single cookie. I think Momofuku Milk Bar cookie receive such high praise because they are overly decadent with butter and sugar. The only cookie that truly impressed me was the Corn cookie, because it's unique and captures the flavor of fresh, sweet corn so well.

At $3.25 each, you can sample all of the Momofuku Milk Bar cookies, and decide on a favorite yourself. Just be sure to get to Green Aisle soon after Fed-Ex drops off the delivery, because they go lickety-split!

Green Aisle Grocery
1618 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19148


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Walker's Australian Kangaroo BBQ & San Marco Rodeo

There are a few combinations of some of the simple things in life that I strongly believe should always go together. Boats and ho’s, burgers and fries, meat and potatoes, pizza and wings, and movies with a good snack. This particular night, I had picked out an especially bad movie about radiation causing teeth go grow in a rather strange part of a young woman’s body; all I needed was some snacks and it was going to be a fantastic time. I found these two interesting bags of chips in a box of random food given to me by Foodette on a previous visit. They from the looks on the packaging, these were going to be as strange as this movie I was about to watch.The first bag of chips sounded as strangely as the movie I was watching. The flavor advertised on the bag clearly read “Australian BBQ Kangaroo”. As an American, I felt that as a nation of fat-asses, we were being outdone by the Brits from across the pond. Walker’s (owned by Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo) was able to put out such crazy flavors of chips in the UK that would be shot down by PETA faster than a sequel to this god-awful movie. I opened this bag expecting the best but all I was met with was disappointment and disgust, much like what my expectations and what I got from this movie. I wanted there to be little bits and essences of a roasted kangaroo in each chip but what I got just tasted exactly like BBQ Pringles chips on a standard Frito-Lays chip. It’s a little sweeter than that standard Lay’s BBQ flavoring, but nothing too special.The second bag of chip was mysterious in its own Italian way. From the package, the only thing I could read and comprehend was “Rodeo” and “King Sized”. I didn’t know what to expect, except for maybe something cowboys would eat and was fit for a king. I opened it up and was met with much mediocrity, much like the acting and direction of the movie. What this bag contained was just corn chips. No different than come Frito’s corn chips, except they were big. There were some really big-ass sized chips. They should be the standard size of corn chip in America and the Italians can have our small sized corn chips. The taste was the same as average corn chips, but the size was good and hearty. I could have put salsa on them if I wanted.(The movie mentioned in this review is “Teeth” See it if you want, but it’s not a very good film despite its premise)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Autentica Mexican Restaurant, North Hadley, MA

I don't know where this sudden seafood craving came from. I can't be pregnant unless I'm having puppies or something, and I don't think my body has any particular crab cake deficiency that it's trying to alert me to. But VV and I went out for Mexican tonight and all I could think of was the glory of fish tacos.

In a recent article by the Houston Press, I was a little miffed to discover that, while delicious, Cheez Wiz nachos are not, in fact, authentic Mexican food. Pooh. However, fried fish tacos are, so I could eat these and be true to the integrity of the food and its origin. Right?

Wrong. Autentica tried hard with its sombrero-heavy atmosphere and softly trilling Herb Alpert knockoff cassettes, but its food just didn't deliver. I was hard pressed to find very many original dishes on this menu- where La Veracruzana has legendary enfrijoladas on their menu and Mi Tierra boasts sky-high sopes, there was nary a torta or a pupusa to be seen here. I figured fish tacos with jalapeno cream sauce would be inoffensive and, god forbid, tasty.Two tacos came piled high with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese. Strike one. Coleslaw is the traditional taco topping, and the shredded cheese, unmelted and powdery, was superfluous. After digging away to find the fish underneath, I came up with small, nickel-sized chunks of mahi-mahi, ranging from overcooked to flaky, with sparse coating and no crunch at all making up about 25% of the taco. The jalapeno cream sauce was sour cream with pickled jalapenos on top.

I don't know. As much as I love tacos, I feel like this would have been better if I'd been drunk. Being hungry, I ate them placidly, but feel as though with an infinitesimal amount of preparation would have improved these- a little coleslaw on top, better, larger pieces of fried fish, and blending the peppers and sauce together. Little things. It was one of the first instances where the side dishes it came with, rice and beans, were more flavorful and tastier than the main meal.VV had a bean burrito with guacamole, salsa, lettuce, and rice, and it looked like she really enjoyed it. I can't comment on it myself, but it definitely looked fresh and tasty. Next time, I'll try the other Mexican restaurant in South Hadley, or I'll just stick to an old stand by, Mi Tierra or La Veracruzana. Yum.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jolly Time Mallow Magic Popcorn

Holy shit, holy shit. VOODOO MAGIC.

No, I'm serious. I've discovered the portal to literal black magic. It's in this popcorn- Jolly Time Mallow Magic.I don't know why I was so hesitant to try this when it was originally sent to me. The combination of marshmallow cream and popcorn seemed a little too incestuous to me, like Flick, the mildly retarded cousin of Snap, Krackle, and Pop. But I needed to up my ante with my Scattergories game, and the question was "Ways to scare your roommates with weird food."

After my bawdy experience with Homestyle popcorn, I was ready to try something a little more exotic. After all, as they say in Oklahoma, "once you try marshmallow, you'll...wear a lot of art deco." Or something like what. Whatever. This seemed familiar and weird enough for me to enjoy without feeling bad in the morning.

When I opened the bag of popcorn, I expected it to be plain popcorn enhanced by the creamy white sauce I'd slather on top. But this was not so! My sauce was counterattacked by synthetic marshmallow flavor on the popcorn. What's that, a meta, you say? It was! It was as though Jolly Time was gesturing toward the popcorn, saying, "Yo dawg, I heard you liked marshmallows, so we put marshmallow sauce on marshmallow popcorn so you can marsh while you marsh!"


I marshed all up in that bitch, actually, while watching Teen Mom and looking at micropenises on the internet. The popcorn was delicious without the sauce- it tasted like a satisfying kettle corn, and I was worried that I'd ruin the popcorn by pouring the sauce on. But I forged on, not out of dignity (that had long been sacrificed) but because there is literally no other function for an extra packet of synthetic marshmallow sauce in my life.The end result was fantastic. It tasted identical to a Rice Krispie treat but was somehow less sticky. It was obviously a result of voodoo magic, also known as "lots of oil," but was comfortingly tasty. And by a magical proxy, none of this stuck to my fingers yet adhered perfectly to the popcorn. Fuck you, David Blaine, this shit is REAL!

My only criticism is that not all of the goo adheres to the popcorn, leaving you sadly pawing through the bag after all the goo is happily consumed.

In conclusion, I loved this popcorn. Damn, girl.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Last Call for MANNA Pies

This Friday, November 19, at noon is the deadline to order a MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) pie or cake from the "Pie in the Sky Bake Sale for Better Health."

With the purchase of every baked good, you're helping MANNA provide nourishing meals to Philadelphia area residents with life-threatening illnesses.

You can order online or from one of over 200 sellers. Apple, pecan and pumpkin pies, along with carrot, cheesecake with cherry topping, and chocolate fudge cakes are available for $25 each.

Pie pick-up dates are Tuesday, November 23rd, and Wednesday, November 24th, from one of the 60 pick-up locations most convenient for you.

There are many great charitable organizations to support during the holiday season (and year round), but MANNA is one of my favorites, because their baked goods just taste so good.

Kabaya Rilakkuma Pretzel Butter Flavor

Rilakkuma Pretzel

Hey, this makes two Kabaya reviews in a row! Instead of gummies, it's a Kabaya take on Glico Pretz, with a cute mascot character (Rilakkuma) tie-in. This snack was kindly provided by Tsunami.hk.

Rilakkuma is basically a couch potato. His name comes from the English word relax and the Japanese word kuma, which means bear. He spends most of his time relaxing, presumably stuffing his face with cookies like on the package.

Rilakkuma Pretzel

The design on the inner bag was strikingly adorable. Although the package says pretzel, the sticks are more like crackers (basically naked Pocky). They smelled like buttered toast, and had a fresh, appetizing crunch.

The flavor was slightly sweet, salty, and buttery without being oily. I didn't detect a preservative aftertaste, and had no trouble finishing the whole bag (160 calories) in one sitting. Although addictive, they were pretty basic as far as snacks go. Still, they definitely satisfied my craving for crunchy.


Kabaya website

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kabaya Kakigori Gummies

Kabaya Kakigori Gummies

Kabaya isn't the biggest name in the Japanese snack business, but they do make excellent gummies. These are based on kakigori, a popular Japanese summer treat that is basically a snow cone. These came in four flavors: Soda, Melon, Lemon, and Strawberry Milk. They were even shaped like little mounds of shaved ice!

Soda smelled strongly of ramune. The texture was really neat! The coating and bottom half was a little crunchy and grainy (sort of like ice) but the top of the inside was soft, sticky, and gooey. It had just a hint of a fizz to it and a good citrus flavor.

Kabaya Kakigori Gummies

Melon smelled a little floral, and the flavor was a very convincing, mellow honeydew. It had the same interesting shaved ice-like texture, and I had no complaints.

Lemon smelled like a cleaner, and although it tasted a little more like a lemon than it smelled, it still wasn't too authentic. It was floral and sweet, but my least favorite of the flavors. Although the textures were similar, the flavor was not as good as the other Kabaya lemon gummies I tried.

Strawberry Milk was very authentic! It smelled and tasted just like strawberries and condensed milk. It was one of the sweetest of the bunch, but the favor was so good that I didn't mind.


Kabaya website

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sahale Snacks Sing Buri Cashews

I love Asian food.

Finding Swagger was the best thing I've ever done, and that includes investing in Merck, babysitting for Michael Jackson, promoting imperialism in the 1819, and campaigning for Bob Dole.

But Swagger. Holy zeppoles, it's like a whole new world of adventures and food has been opened to me. I'd had Thai food before, but the first time we cooked real pad thai, I felt like I was really eating this melange of flavors with the added satisfaction of having prepared it on my own.

Of course, this might also be a result of the phenomenon Stuff White People Like know as "diversity," in my love of diversity as it relates to restaurants. Or my overwhelming gluttony with new foods. So when these mail-order nuts came to me for perusal, I immediately thought of delicious, delicious Thai food.These nuts, a combination of cashews and peanuts covered in dried pineapple, sesame seeds, lemongrass, and chilies, are like eating instant pad thai with no preparation at all. It brought me back to my beautiful, endless summer, watching Talladega Nights with Keepitcoming and eating Thai with my dogs. These are really well-crafted. My biggest surprise was the lemongrass in this. Maybe I just have low expectations, but the lemongrass played a really big role in rounding out the spice from the chilies. These weren't very spicy, but I didn't expect them to be. The predominant flavor was a really nice, sweet nuttiness that the black sesames and cashews gave, like a homemade peanut butter, and the citrusy, mild lemongrass.The pineapple pieces were a little less distinct aside from texture, which was admittedly abysmal. It was the wrong combination of dried fruit and gumminess, which made these far too hard on the teeth and sticky at the wrong moments. In fact, when I first ate these (their spice makes them a fantastic drinking food) I didn't even register the fruit bits as being pineapple. I thought they were candied ginger until I isolated and ate one, analyzing the contents with my Fruit Content Particle Receptor 3600. The FCPR 3600 then told me that it was pineapple, probably of the Hawaiian variety. Very good. But the pieces were infrequently studded, and in the end, I couldn't decide whether this was for the better or not.

I thought these were a really ingenious twist on the classic concept of bar nuts, and a piquant alternative to plain potato chips. If you're feeling like Asian cuisine and don't feel like cooking, these are right up your alley.

Hot Lips Pear Soda

They used to call me "Hot Lips" in high school.

Okay, I can't even take that one seriously.

Just the fact that there's a soda out in this world called "Hot Lips" allows me to bring that seldom used phrase out of my traditional application (addressing masseuses) and into the actual world. It might be more satisfying than those deep tissue kneads and the happy endings, too.

For a soda with four ingredients, I've never had a more satisfying and flavorful beverage. It does what commercial drinks and LOGO have been striving for for ages- puts the fruit front and center. This wasn't even my favorite of their sodas, but we drank up their others before we even had a chance to photograph them, and the pear looked the most dramatic against tweed.In order to better facilitate my drinking experience, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I took a plane out West a few weeks ago for the sole purpose of breaking into the Harry and David factory and nabbing a few of their pears, which I then took home and pureed through a sieve a couple of times before achieving the perfect pear juice. That was mixed with some carbonated Voss water I'd had lounging around, and was poured together for comparison with the Hot Lips soda.While the aforementioned event never happened, the Hot Lips end of the deal couldn't have been closer to the truth. These sodas are pure, and not in a Facebook quiz resulting in 58% purity or a high school "virgin", but genuinely pure. They taste like the fruit they represent. Mired in a society whose latest and greatest culinary births involved blue raspberry and the Blackjack taco, that's a big fucking deal. In the case of the pear, it wasn't cloudy as Food Junk's soda had been, but was still lip-smackingly good and smooth in the mouth. The pear was mellow with a slightly citrine flavor. After drinking, my only two wishes were that the carbonation was a tad higher, going from gentle bubbles to more of a bite, and that the soda came in large 7-11 jugs. My third wish was for a small harem of puppies, but even the charm of Hot Lips can't grant that.

I'm saving my last bottle of this like I'd save a 1968 Chateau D'Yquem. I'm probably going to bring it out at my winter gala if I feel the crowd is right, or perhaps get Keepitcoming a half case as an early Christmas gift. These are well worth the cost and fantastic for any soda connoisseur.