Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and yours a stupidly happy New Year, courtesy of Foodette Reviews!
Enjoy responsibly...but not too responsibly. And don't be afraid to look a little silly.

Foodette and Keepitcoming Love

Friday, December 30, 2011

Arnold Pretzel Rolls

There is no God.

Or rather, the God we currently have now inexplicably hates pretzel rolls. Atheistic blanket statements aside, I'm pretty sure that part of my life's mission here on earth is to find the best pretzel roll man can possibly make. No pressure, though. I've been through frozen pretzels stuffed with more crap than Adam Richman, pretzel hot dog buns loaded with expensive edible accoutrements, pretzels topped with crustaceans, and disappointing pretzel rolls. I'm all pretzeled out and I still can't find the perfect bread.
To me, the ideal pretzel roll has a foot in both worlds, despite being a freakish monster belonging in neither. It is kissed with a hint of tinny, metallic goodness on its crust and is almost certainly boiled prior to baking, to ensure an airy, yet chewy inner surface that is porous enough to accommodate to even the gooiest of toppings, but yields to a firm bite without vomiting its contents all over the plate. Rock salt mandatory, toasting optional. An idyllic one-two punch at home with ham, mustard, and little else, or with a gluttonous number of toppings. Needless to say, they are freaking perfect, elevating a mere sandwich to a more complex and Bavarian plane. And to date, I had to rely on luck and intense menu research to find these little suckers. Until...not.
Yes, it looks like I meant "now" but it's not "now" because I have to wait. Yes, I peed myself when Arnold's came out with these two days ago and my mom brought them home. And no, these are not the droids we're looking for. Sigh. Despite showing a promising amount of homemade homeliness, these just weren't up to snuff. Six rolls to a bag, with 190 calories each, they appear to be hefty and even slightly irregular from roll to roll, offering charming variations in the waffled base and slits on top. Quite a promising start.
Unadorned, they were bland. Adorned simply, the pretzel's natural charms were squelched. Suffocated under the weight of a stupid amount of toppings, they disintegrated. God damn it. We were so close, Arnold's. We could have had it all. Unfortunately, these just didn't cut it. To the touch, they are light and airy, a little too light. White bread light and Vanilla Ice white with a squishy and uniformly bubbled core. A small bite yielded a sweetly flavored crumbly interior and thin, pliable crust with a hint of alkaline tang from the baking soda. It wasn't chewy at all and had the texture of a thin slice of sandwich bread rather than a crusty roll. Most of the salinity was overpowered by the breadiness as there was no other supplemental salt source, like a scattering of rock salt on top of the roll, to boost its flavor.
The least offensive way to eat this is with a little salt and butter, much like my bagels. This way accentuates the pretzel's natural flavor the most, but still falls prey to the plain bready texture. There wasn't enough irregular definition in the bread's cell wall to allow the butter to melt into any nooks and crannies, and it floated on the top after melting, barely penetrating the surface and leaving the top part soggy and the bottom part flavorless. Were it not for the appeal of the salt coaxing the tinniness out, I wouldn't bother eating this as toast.
As a sandwich, I figured this would be a little more successful. And what better way to do it than to do a balls-to-the-wall crazy condiment orgy on a bun? Do or do not, there is no try, after all. The Italian Job featured condiments best suited to a good bun with no margin of error. If it was a good pretzel roll, it would work. Anything else would disintegrate under the weight of so many sauces. With hot pepper relish, mustard, mayo, Tabasco, ham, American cheese, mango and ginger Stilton 'cause we fancy, arugula, fennel slivers, and freshly cracked black pepper, the Italian Job ain't nothin' to muck with.
And unfortunately, after I removed this ornamental steak knife, all hell broke loose. This is not the right bun for the job, folks. Not in the slightest. See that distended yellow-hued smear on the starboard side of the sandwich? That's the sauce seeping through the bread, sponged up by the fluffy interior. Arnold's, you are a failure.
Bam, she falls apart as soon as I look at her. Another one for the vaults. Successful as a roll, perhaps, but as a pretzel, you're an absolute shame up there with Glitter, Gilbert and Sullivan, and the InstaHang. Looks like it's back to the drawing boards for the time being. I appreciated the initiative on part of Arnold's, but for God's sake, if you're going to go out on a limb, try not to make the product so utterly unappealing that people won't ever want to eat its inspiration again.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cookbook Giveaway

Hope y'all had a wonderful holiday! I sure did. In fact, I'm still on holiday vacation, and am down in my home state of South Carolina visiting family and friends.

What? You want more presents? OK.

I am delighted to giveaway a copy of the cookbook Glass Onion Classics: Recipes From a Southern Restaurant to one lucky reader. This new and unused cookbook (I did flip through it, though) comes from Glass Onion, one of my favorite restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina.Glass Onion's "ridiculously good" banana pudding (it is ridiculous!), grilled pimento cheese sandwich, and deviled eggs is my usual. I just might be eating this very same order right now!

Glass Onion serves up non-stuffy, fresh and local, classic Southern food in a casual storefront located on the busy Savannah Highway just a stone's throw from the Charleston peninsula (the touristy part). This means that while Glass Onion is always busy with people in the know (I once giddily dined across from Southern cookbook author Ted Lee), it's not overrun with tourists like made-popular-by-television Hominy Grill and Jestine's Kitchen. The Glass Onion's cookbook is NOT vegetarian, but any crafty vegetarian can adapt almost any recipe. This 168-page cookbook covers all the Southern basics, like pimento cheese, buttermilk fried chicken, grits, and red velvet cake, with brief stories before each recipe, and a few black and white drawings here and there. Peppered throughout the book are profiles of Southern food farmers and friends, like Allan Benton (Benton's Bacon) and Glenn Roberts (Anson Mills).

To enter to win:
Please leave one comment on this blog post telling me the most memorable Southern food you cooked at home, or ate at a restaurant. The contest will end January 3, 2012 at 8pm EST. One winner will be picked randomly. Be sure to check back for an announcement of the winner, so I can get your mailing information. Sorry, but I will only ship to US addresses.

The cookbook and giveaway are provided by me (because I like Glass Onion so much), and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Ten, Bottom Ten

Well, guys, 2011 is coming to a close. It's been a big year for us here, and I'm sure you've all got some interesting stories to tell. If not stories, Facebook photo montages, and if not Facebook photo montages (Photoshop grammar optional) instructional YouTube videos on how to draw Rick Astley in MS Paint. There's something for everyone, I swear. We've been going through the archives with the same embarrassment as going through the Watergate tapes (seriously, the cell phone camera?) and have a few questionably interesting things to showcase.
Because all the cool kids are doing it, I officially present to you Foodette's Top 10 Posts of 2011. And because none of the cool kids are doing it (get on it!) I'm also giving you the Top 10 Worst Comments and Search Terms of 2011. Enjoy.
Top 10 Most-Viewed Pages of 2011 (The Best)
1. Wendy's 'W' Burger- I was surprised this got so many hits, because it seemed to pale in comparison to the excitement of other new releases from Wendy's, but people were pretty excited. (Rating: 3/10)

2. MiO Liquid Water Enhancer- I liked MiO despite the fact that this post single-handedly turned my site into WebMD after people started reporting their dietary concerns. (Rating: 8/10)

3. Angry Birds Fruit Gummies- One of the most fun photo shoots I've done this year. I've really got to get myself my own iPad to deface. (Rating: 5/10)

4. Hershey's Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate- I was surprised that this didn't make the top three, because it spawned some of the most poorly written comments known to mankind. I wanted to put all of them in the bottom ten. (Rating: 2/10)

5. Big Bamboo Jamaican Irish Moss Peanut Drink- Euphemisms sell, especially when they taste like peanut butter and ice cream. (Rating: 4/10)

6. McDonald's Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate- This was a hit with its limited time release in November, and perfectly timed with New England's freak October snowstorm. (Rating: 1/10)

7. Chocolate Chex Mix Cookies 'n' Cream- I didn't like these as much as I like cookies 'n' cream ice cream, or cookies dipped in milk, or even cookies without milk, but they have potential as an ice cream topping. (Rating: 1/10)

8. Nestle Nutrition Chocolate Nutrament- Want to know why Swagger doesn't post here any more? This literally killed him. (Rating: 1/10)

9. Kush Cakes- Beating out Lazy Cakes for number nine, these made Little Debbie and her pals look freaking awesome. (Rating: 1/10)

10. MiO Energy Liquid Water Enhancer- Despite making the switch from Sassy Gay Friend to Thunder Dave, people are still incredibly curious about MiO! (Rating: 7/10)

Average Rating of Top 10 Most-Viewed: 3/10! Yikes, I need to step up my hatin'!
Bottom 10 Most Horrific Comments and Search Terms (The Burns)
back in late June and led the poor reader from Makati, Manila to my Stackermallow review,
which likely exacerbated the situation with its complete lack of housekeeping tips. This isn't The Help, guys.

2. "I strongly disagree. I loved the salted caramel frap. Your first mistake was ordering it without whipped cream. It's heaven in a cup. There's something about your review that annoys me - you have an air about you that comes off that you're too good for the world. I won't be returning." Every so often, there are a few choice gems that I want to include on a "testimonials" page on Foodette. I'm hoping to get subpoenaed by a celebrity for that to actually happen, but if such a glorious day ever comes, this will be on there for sure. Ah, projection, you sweet devil, you.

3. "Please, please, no more pictures of your teeth. And also, please, see a dentist for a cleaning. I agree that this product is useless, however." Thus proving my point regarding the teeth stainability of Le Whif. Keep 'em coming, guys. Haters literally fuel me.

4. "...could it be SOYLENT BROWN tHINK ABOUT IT!" This is one small excerpt of a ten-page comment regarding a conspiracy theory and Hershey's. I've read this over three times and still find it hilariously awful.

5. "texture impulsions" led some lucky reader from Japan to my latest and greatest review of blk. water! I knew Free Radical Scavenger would catch on! I'm guessing Texture Impulsions is the accordion-centric cover band.

6. "i need fizzard wizard email address now" This didn't say it was searched from Hogwarts, but I think we all know that it was back in November. Move over, Dumbledore, Fizzard of Fizzies fame is racking up some serious groupies.

7. how it puts crab cakes in acti fry!/help my wings are clumping Oddly enough, both of these came from readers in Kuala Lumpur. It might even be the same reader. I might have to start linking to Dear Abby on this site, but god, I can't help but find the idea of clumpy wings a little hilarious.

8. "Chubby f***ing" This search term is literally the best thing I've ever seen to come out of this website, and that includes the Healthy Choice photo shoot. I don't know who this reader is, but they're looking it up at least once every few months. Bless you, Mexico.

9. "lean pocket pretzel bread microwave Explosion" Ain't that the truth, Topeka. Ain't that the truth.

10. "Poop soup is on the back burner...ugh." This pretty much sums up my reaction to Philly Cooking Creme, and everyone else's, too.
Happy New Year, everyone! Eat well and be merry. 2012 will be a big year for Foodette- conferences, more weird products, and exxxxxxxtreeeeeme photo shoots are in store. Do you have any requests or ideas for the website that you'd like to see in the new year? Hit me up in the comments and we'll see what we can do.

Monday, December 26, 2011

blk. water

"I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed." -Charlie Brown

And now, the deep, deep funk sets in. As if you put on a pair of magic glasses, what was once a merry nip in the air is now just freaking cold. The cheerful Salvation Army ringers are now just haranguing you, and the capacity you had to inhale all manner of toothpicked appetizers, cookies, and roast meats is now reflected in your time spent hovering over the treadmill. Christmas is over.
But there's more to come. I mean, hell, today is Boxing Day, which is just perfect if you waited until the day after Christmas to get a deal on a gift for your hired help. The Treaty of Pressburg was signed today in 1805. Put down that spiked egg nog, you have a lot to look forward to. Also, I'm pretty sure that's curdling, so don't drink it. Why is today an awesome day? Aside from the strangely hush-hush day off for federal employees, which you can thank the Uniform Monday Act for, I'm talking about blk water, the latest and greatest libation straight from New Jersey spelled like a Bjork single. That's right, start laughing. Intentionally black water developed in New Jersey.
This water received a great deal of hype at the Fancy Food Show, not the least of which was the hushed claim that it had powers to heal the elderly and boasted its connections with the "stars" of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, which wins the prize for the worst marketing conjunction ever. Lawsuits ensued. Oh, and something something fulvic acid. That's what makes it black in color, and of course, by fulvic acid I clearly mean something gross in the sewage. Seriously, The Simpsons had it right when they intoned the sagacious and useful piece of advice- "if it's brown, drink it down. If it's black, send it back." Send back blk, because it's gimmicky and gross. Who really needs black water? I mean, aside from the elusive and coveted 14-year old Hot Topic clad demographic, this seems kind of silly for a rational adult to drink. It's useless in cocktails, as nobody really puts water in them, and on its own, it has a harsh, mineral-heavy flavor with a salty aftertaste.
This just goes against most of my principles of what I should put in my mouth, and at this point in my life, I've practically developed a leather-bound rulebook for them. I don't need water that touts itself as sexy and fascinating, especially when said water also calls itself a Free Radical Scavenger, which is a fancy term for an antioxidant in real life, but in my head, is a two person, one cello lo-fi band with guest singer Zooey Deschanel and a hit single called "Eminently Yours (Tom Cruise/Marilyn Monroe)" Drinking this makes me more thirsty and I just don't see the novelty in weakly colored murky water. I'll stick to the clear stuff and enjoy my "regular" dark side, the one that listens to the occasional Sting single and casually Facebook stalks people from summer camp.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Meltykiss Green Tea Chocolate

Waiting for Christmas Eve festivities to start is a bit like waiting around at the intermission of a middle school play. For the sake of keeping it seasonal, let's call it your nephew's musical version of a Nativity pageant. There's not a whole lot to do, but you're in a familiar place with the knowledge that when things do start, they're either going to be pretty awesome or god-awful. We always do a pretty low-key, but festive Christmas eve with tons of food and champers for all. This year, I'm contributing a few strange snacks of my own, not the least of which is a zesty Japanese offering, Meltykiss's 2011 limited winter release of green tea chocolate.
Meltykiss is green but is by no means environmentally friendly. If it was a Captain Planet eco-villain, it would be surely be the EnviroStrangler or something. There's more padding on this than there is on Martin Lawrence in any of the Big Momma films. However, it's all worth it, as each little chocolatey cube is perfectly formed with no scuffs or breakage. If you've had the classic Moritz Ice Cube candy, you can imagine what a Meltykiss tastes like. Roughly the size of a die, it has that chunky yet beguiling texture of vegetable oil and chocolate, with a low melting point that causes it to disintegrate as it hits the mouth. The center, for whatever reason, melts a little slower, with a smooth, chewy bite similar to eating a piece of gianduja or a slightly melted chocolate bar.
These have a cool texture on the tongue with a slightly bittersweet initial note from the light dusting of cocoa powder on top. The chocolate base coating is milky and sweet, more of a milk chocolate flavor despite looking fairly dark, but the center is perfection. With the fluffy texture of chilled buttercream frosting, the chartreuse center is a beautifully contrasting treat to behold.
The center contrasts the sweet chocolate with a bitter, strongly steeped green tea flavor, floral and perfumed, with a delicate sweet matcha flavor that permeates the outer and inner layers. It's very strong, which makes it the perfect gift for tea aficionados as it's not too sweet or diluted to impress. Perfect stocking stuffers and present toppers. Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Planters Limited Edition Brittle Nut Medley

We baked way too many sweets today. You know that frenzy people get in around Christmas, the one that compels them to justify buying extravagant items they can't afford and stupid things like Hickory Farms and Soap-on-a-Rope gift packs? Well, it's also the one that, for one month out of the year, flips on the homing mechanism switch that whispers crafty thoughts in your ear while you sleep. "The more cookies you bake, the more people will love you," and, "You're only as gay as the quantity of rainbow sprinkles you can cram into your baked goods." True story. As a result of this sudden urge to bake and make merry, merry love, we have four batches of cookies, most of which are cat-shaped gingerbread people. #futurecrazycatlady
During this bake-a-thon, I got a package from Planters, which I received from the UPS man in my smoking jacket while chewing on a log of cookie dough. Keeping it classy all the time, son. Inside the package were six new limited edition Planters nut flavors, one of which I almost baked into another batch of cookies because it's so freaking delicious. That, my friends, is the terribly named Brittle Nut Medley, which isn't so much a name as it is a description of its contents. Let's break it down like it's 1980. Brittle. Despite being literally the first word of the title, this only makes up for about 20% of the overall mix. It's okay, I can deal because it smells awesome. If it were a perfume it would be Calvin Klein Legume. Nut. It's nuts, but that's not grammatically correct. Honey-roasted peanuts and cashews abound. Medley. Okay, so it's a term I'm more inclined to associate with mashups of the soundtrack to Carousel, but it's okay. That compromises the two wild cards of the bunch, pretzels and yogurt-covered raisins.
Overall, it's a group that leans toward the candy side of nut mixes, but manages to not create multiple cavities after a handful or two. The pieces are solid and whole, one of the least messy trail mix-style snacks I've tried, and are just as pleasant eaten together or individually. The brittle is the star of the show, a pity as most of it is so weighty that it's sunken down to the bottom. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like digging through a can of nuts to grab delicious candy. Altruism is so 2011. The brittle comes in molar-sized pieces, ironically as it will be your molars that are attacked first, and is mixed throughout the medley. It carries a salty, vaguely sweet flavor as addictive as potato chips with a little brown sugar thrown in for kicks. Eaten with the salty pretzel rods, they're a real treat. In fact, the little extras outshadow the nuts- the very crux of the snack itself. These are abundant and tasty, but I found the honey-roasting on the peanuts to be overkill in the sugar department. The neutrality of the cashews was refreshing after all the sweeter flavors.
The yogurt-covered raisins were surprisingly the only component of this snack that I was pretty ambivalent with. Normally I'd be excited about a snack that packs a ton of faux Raisinets in their mix, but these were basically flavorless and had a waxy, crumbly texture reeking of mockolate. I wished that these had imparted a more wintry flavor unto the mix, like spices or eggnog. Enjoyed with everything else, though, they were inoffensive and pleasant to munch on after a day of baking coo. All in all, a really good and creative mix to snack mindlessly on during A Christmas Story, or, if you're awesome like me, American Psycho, on Christmas night. Go on and brush your shoulders off, Mr. Peanut. You deserved it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hi-Chew Mini X Fanta Honey Lemon

I rarely get ill, but when I do, it knocks me out for a few good days. One day I'll be running around, wiping my nose on my Robert Graham coat and soldiering on as I do my daily errands and assignments, the next day I'll be laid up in bed, alternating between crying and sleeping and requiring a constant stream of Fruit 2 O IV into my left arm. And that'll be the next two weeks. Because of my staunch aversion to tea and my annoyance with my school's incompetant healthcare system, when I get sick, I'm sick for a week. Who really enjoys tea, anyhow? Half the flavors of tea are flavors that can easily be accessed with a stick of gum, another habit I'm not overly fond of, and it tastes pretty gross.
Apparently, in Japan, many share my aversion to tea. Japan hates tea, right? That's why they created the Honey Lemon Fanta? Sure it is. On this blog, it is. Well, apparently there's a new Fanta flavor inspired by tea, and now there's a Hi-Chew flavor inspired by the Fanta flavor inspired by tea. They went deeper. Take note, Christopher Nolan. The Hi-Chew, courtesy of J-List, has crunchy lemon dragees surrounded by the quintessentially creamy, chewy base.
These are a pretty faithful iteration of a classic beverage. While most soda or drink-flavored candies utilize sodium bicarbonate to mimic carbonation or various combinations of sugar to get the flavor well, these mimic the drink to a "tea" while still providing a little texture and variation in each piece. The crunchy pieces are plentiful and evenly spread throughout the piece, as you can see. They are pretty sour and tart, reminiscent of a Lemonhead, but any tartness is tempered by the milkiness of the base, with a smoothness similar to a Starburst but springier. The honey flavor is quite bold, with a rich, buttery flavor bordering on caramel that interacts with the citrus and dairy exceptionally well.
My chief complaint is that this flavor only comes in the "mini" pack, which contains seven pieces of candy as opposed to the full-sized Hi-Chew, which typically contains anywhere from 8-12 pieces depending on the flavor. At $2.39 a pack, plus shipping, this comes out to a little over a dollar apiece. Unless you're a huge fan of lemon and honey or are placing a large order at J-List, don't go out of your way to order these. They're still delicious if you've got them around, though!

Red Sauce

Tomorrow is the first day of winter, and that means those of us up North are settling into many months of cold and seasonal depression. And in my case, bitching about how cold and depressing it is. It also means that any fresh tomato you buy sucks. Ah, another thing to complain about.

What's a girl or boy who has resigned to eat seasonally, or just committed to flavor to do? And, now that we're all avoiding commercially canned goods because of their BPA lining, canned tomatoes are out of the picture. It's looking pretty grim for all those winter hearty pastas, stews, and casseroles that call for tomatoes, that's for sure.My solution for getting around crappy tomatoes in the off-season is to make what we've been calling around here "red sauce." Red sauce is nothing more than carrots, beets, onions, and garlic that, when cooked and pureed, come together into a vibrant, savory, red sauce with a hint of sweetness. If you didn't tell anyone that they weren't eating tomato sauce, they might not even second guess red sauce.

To be honest, we don't make red sauce just in the winter; we like it so much we make it year round. Red sauce can be used almost anywhere you would tomato sauce. We slather it on pasta, pizza, meatballs, and sloppy joes.

I'm posting this recipe for mostly selfish reasons (I'm tired of looking it up in a book), but I encourage you all to give this recipe a go. Especially in godforsaken, tomato-less winter.
Pizza loves red sauce!

Red Sauce
adapted from Yoga Kitchen

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
4 cups peeled and chopped carrots
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock
1 medium beet, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Melt butter in a large skillet. Add carrots, onion, and garlic. Cover and saute, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil beets until tender. Drain.
  • Transfer beets and carrots to a blender. Add all remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Le Whif Chocolate Inhaler

To some of you, this may have come as a painfully apparent "DOOOI" moment, but to others, this might be a shock. Brace yourself. I was kind of a loser in high school. I know this is somewhat shocking being that I've presented myself as an awesome person on the internet. Shocker! You must think I'm like currency- legal and tender. But in reality, that's a little far from the truth. This anxious undercurrent of a subject matter may spring from the fact that I'm going home in a few days after defriending over 300 assholes on my Facebook and, due to Murphy's Law, will inevitably encounter at least eight of them while getting coffee and will have to endure awkward conversation and remind myself that I did what I did because I hated them.
I wish I had had Le Whif in high school. At least then I could have pretended to be edgy. It's the perfect amount of sleek, oily pretension combined with the allure of snortable drugs but- psyche! It's really chocolate. If I'd had asthma as a child, the irony of having this match my inhaler yet also be off-limits because of its powdery properties would not have escaped me. Le Whif is so impossibly vapid that even I, Lord of the Guise, must avert my eyes to its monochromatic color scheme and stupid "eating by breathing" mission statement. Seriously, Le Whif, you look like a tampon. You need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.
While I can't honestly say this is the most embarrassing thing I've crammed in my mouth (that honor wholeheartedly goes to Kush Cakes) it's certainly the most awkward. It's a cross between a cigarillo and a plastic party noisemaker. And worse yet, you're supposed to smoke it as though you were smoking a hand-rolled clove cigarette- gingerly, with a slight air of disgust. Below are a few recent installments I like to call "Faces of Le Whif." They should give you a pretty good idea as to how we liked this.
I feel like a thirteen year old sneaking a smoke behind the bleachers for the first time, except this isn't a Virginia Slim and I don't feel cool at all. Despite the reassurance that the chocolate particles were too large to enter my lungs at 80 to 300 microns, I still feel like this crappy chocolate is bouncing around my respiratory system. After hacking up a Hershey's bar, I tasted it. It has the unmistakable flavor of crappy, unsweetened baking chocolate and granulated sugar- grainy, with a bitter and undersweetened flavor, a predominantly fake molasses and brown sugar taste.
It's like eating cocoa powder and Splenda, but with the added humiliation of sucking it through a patented device. Ick. It had a harsh, burning texture and left my throat feeling raw. All the thrill of a real cigarette with none of the Bond-level suavity or satisfaction. Also, it leaves a dirty, brown residue on the mouth of the depositor, a fine dust which inevitably gets all over your clothes and then melts for real.
There are absolutely no redeeming qualities to this product. Chocolatiers have scaled down their regular bars to make 100-calorie bars for the calorie conscious, and as far as I can tell, nobody has explicitly expressed a desire to breathe in their food. Perhaps this is a good chocolate "hit" for the stereotypical Hollywood female workaholic, but Jesus, so is a Tootsie Roll. Leave Le Whif in Le Trash and go drink some chocolate soy milk.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hershey's Giveaway Winner!

Wandering Girl, you won the Hershey's Holiday Candy Giveaway! Email with your email address, and for the rest of you...stay tuned! There are plenty of delicious giveaways coming up soon...


Hotel Chocolat Chili and Orange/Hazelnut and Ginger Yule Logs

Will the litany of classy international holiday offerings never end? Hell no! You can take your holiday-colored Oreos an' shove 'em- I have connections in foreign places. Today's selection comes from the wonderful Cinabar of Foodstuff Finds once more, my official hookup for the tantalizing UK artisanal brand Hotel Chocolat and more. This is a pair of treats from their holiday selection- adorable Yule logs in chili and orange and ginger and hazelnut.
If you haven't heard of a Yule log, it's a hard, dense log to burn during Christmas time. The desserts, if you've ever had a Buche de Noel, are fashioned after the logs themselves and eaten. These Yule logs look fairly branchy and tree-like, which the chocolate helps with, but more in a minimalist, Charles Eames-inspired kindling for a couture fireplace fashion. The edges are smooth and domed and studded with chunks of each key ingredient according to the bar. Both bars are made out of gianduja praline and have very short, concise ingredient lists- no more than seven or eight components make up the bars.
The gianduja base is fantastic. The bars are protected in their own molds, and you can clearly see where the chocolate was poured in, sometimes to the point of nearly overflowing! While it was difficult to get the bars out of their molds without marring the delicate surface, the end result was beautiful. As you can see, the chocolate is very smooth and soft. Mine didn't escape without a few fingerprints! The toppings were set like jewels on top of the bars rather than being mixed into the chocolate.
On its own, the gianduja is cool and subtle, with a slow melt and pliable, fudgey chew and a bittersweet woodiness that was amplified in the ginger and hazelnut bar with the inclusion of lightly toasted, crispy hazelnuts. The crystallized pieces of ginger, which had a wonderful crunchy, jelly-like texture unto their own, added a spicy element to the bar. My only complaint was that the beautiful visual presentation, which alternated the ingredients to create a striped pattern down the length of the bar, allowed few bites to include both hazelnuts and ginger. With the complexity of the two toppings, it was quite a shame to not have that option when eating a bite.
The chili and orange bar was no less phenomenal. This bar also had nuts, sugared whole almonds. While there were no candied chili pieces with the candied orange peel on top, there was a persistent spiciness to the bar along with the pomander flavors in the candied peel- cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg that made for a delicious eating experience. This bar didn't quite suffer from the same inconsistency in between bites as the other, but was a little messier to cut as the almonds were placed horizontally and cut somewhat irregularly. The spices in this were perfect, though. An easy and indulgent holiday treat.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bacon Steak and Tomato Doritos 'n' Chips for Highball

"Your mom. Champagne glass. 64% classier." - Your Mom Is Clubbin'
Here at Foodette, we prioritize a number of elite values in the food blogging world, not the least of which is "above all, pretension." And everyone knows that Japanified versions of American snacks designed to pair with cocktails are pretentious, to say the least, without even mentioning that these chips are endorsed by an expert, Japan's best sommelier in 1995, Shinya Tasaki. Hell yes? I mean, look at this guy's face. Sniffing out of a Riedel Burgundy glass in a tuxedo. I would trust everything that man said even if he told me he could take me on a tour of Hell in between sips of DRC La Tache.
J-List sent these over for us to try. According to the description, Mr. Tasaki and Frito-Lay formulated these chips to ride on the coattails of the burgeoning Asian wine market sales. Because nothing goes as well with an $8,000 bottle of 1947 Petrus like Doritos and Sun Chips, am I right? This particular flavor was designed to pair well with cocktails, presumably ones you can enjoy with Tasaki's $200 corkscrew and bottle opener. The bag has two different types of chips, flavored like bacon steak and tomato ketchup. The chips are smaller than your average Dorito but still have the rounded edges and thicker crunch of Japanese Doritos. The scent is pungent, like getting a noseful of Spanish paprika and tomato sauce, with an almost cloying initial sweetness wafting up from the bag.
The Doritos were definitely more successful than the Sun Chips, with a light, crispy crunch and wonderful flavor. These tasted like the Herr's Heinz ketchup chips but with a deeper, richer tomato sauce flavor, with a brown sugar edge and garlic bite to them. They were very sweet, but not in a way that made them inedible or incongruous with the rest of the chips. The natural sweet, oily flavor of the corn chip was a wonderful carrier of the ketchup flavor. It sort of put regular ketchup to shame as I felt that the flavor was just deeper and tangier, more of a marinara but somehow sweeter. Unique and a little strange to adjust to, but tasty.
The Sun Chips were supposed to mimic the exact flavor of the giant, quivering bacon slab on the package. A tough act to follow. And they crumbled in the face of porcine goodness, providing a weak smoky flavor dominated by the corny heft of the chip. No bacon, no fattiness, nothing that would have suggested meat or even barbecue sauce. It mainly tasted like ground black pepper and corn, not a bad flavor profile, but also not bacon. I've noted this before in Japanese Cheetos- all of the chips are much thicker and the denser ones end up having a dry noodle-like texture. Not a bad thing, but also kind of strange to get used to.
So the chips were good on their own, but what about alongside a few drinks? In one of the most stupidly surreal Foodette photoshoots ever, we documented the success of these chips as snacks and as cocktail pairings with what else? Bakon vodka, because you can't eat bacon chips without drinking a bacon drink. Says so somewhere in the Bible or something.
We made three cocktails, two contemporary and one classic to try with the chips. Our first cocktail didn't utilize bacon outside of a small curled garnish. It was a classic gin and tonic, nothing more, nothing less. The sweet cooked tomato flavor of the Doritos really amplified the sweet juniper notes in the gin, but neither was so sweet as to feel like a dessert or candy.
The second cocktail was kind of a "kitchen sink" style drink to gross out Miss Love and also see how the chips held up with a little spice. Enter the Flaming Bacon- bacon vodka, hot pepper vodka, Prometheus Springs pomegranate black pepper juice, club soda, and a salsa dipped bacon garnish. Despite the grocery list of ingredients and the science beaker presentation, it didn't taste like ass and the chips held up to the spice of the drink. It was surprisingly the best combination of the triad.
Our last drink failed and completely overwhelmed the chips. The Broker's Breakfast had hazelnut espresso vodka, bacon vodka, milk, and club soda. It was atrociously flavored and discordant with a fake sweetener aftertaste. The creaminess destroyed the flavors of the chips with a filmy, boozy tang. But aside from that, it seemed like the chips actually were congruent with fruity, tangy, and even spicy drinks. Then again, what salty snack isn't? These would be a unique alternative to a traditional pub mix, but didn't seem wildly outside of the realm of other sodium-laden nibbles designed to sop up booze. Maybe the wine-based Doritos will prove to be more successful.