Monday, February 28, 2011

A. Fieschi Mostarda di Cremona

Where did all the apothecaries go? As I write this I feel like I'm giving the weltschmerz laced air of a woman who has seen it all and bought the t-shirt. Granted, I have never seen an apothecary, but I would trade the sterile, monochromatic blandness of Walgreen's Pharmacy for those musty coiffers. The closest thing I've found lies in foreign groceries, the kinds in small cities where dust comes free with every purchase and meat comes in alive and often leaves alive as well. This particular treat resembles those murky jars with mysterious contents and comes from First Tracks as an intriguing gift. With a little research, we found that mostarda di Cremona is a condiment from Northern Italy consisting of preserved fruits in a mustard powder sauce. Despite looking a lot like alien eggs, it's quite a unique regional product. It's one of those things that has been around for centuries, unbeknownst to most of the American population. I had not heard of this prior to receiving it, making it that much more intriguing.First Tracks advised us to consume the little fruits with preserved Italian meat, like proscuitto, but before that, we had to perform an initial investigation. In other words, I needed to touch that fruit. It's not every day you get to pry tiny fruits out of a gel-filled jar. The fruits inside were mainly stone fruits- peaches, nectarines, pears, and such, but also included a tiny orange. The consistency was thicker than a standard canned fruit syrup and more like a corn syrup texture- just as sticky. It had a spicy, sweet scent. The strangest thing about it, though I suppose this was more disorientation strange than actually strange, was that it tasted exactly like mustard, though with this thick, syrupy mouthfeel. Definitely unique.
The little fruits inside were surprisingly firm with mushiness only from the baby pear. When we cut into them, they harbored a crystalline, jellied texture reminding me of solidified polymers and tasted like the sauce in varying degrees. Out of all the fruits, the orange worked best with the spicy gel, the rind infused with a bitter, sweet flavor and a citrusy zing from the oils. I'd definitely try chopping this up in sesame noodles or on top of some roasted chicken. It was the kind of flavor that really seems to impart its sensations on other foods. We wanted to try these in a traditional application, so for dinner tonight we made a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella pizza with a few sliced fruits on top. Keepitcoming snacked on a few slices with some pieces of prosciutto as an antipasto. To drink, we took the cava and basil cocktail from The Roost and tweaked it to our liking. The end result was casual, and yet decadently sophisticated, something I could see myself eating out of the fridge as a snack or serving as a light summer lunch to friends. We extracted the little gems and sliced them into translucent wedges on top of the pie. Though we tried to wash some of the syrup off for fear of burning, a good deal of it seeped through the pizza crust and caramelized into a sticky area underneath. However, this was no problem- it transformed an unseasoned crust into a delicious, savory sweet treat! It did make it a bit difficult to handle. The flavor of the fruits really changed during the cooking process. The orange still remained the most intense and sauce-infused, but the peaches were gelatinous and juicy. The overall flavor was a charred, meaty, juicy spiciness, like pineapple ham or citrus marinated meat. On top of the pizza with crispy mozzarella, it was absolutely heavenly. A natural combination- meat, fruit, and cheese, just seemed to be bumped up another level as it was paired with peppery, piquant flavors. The heating element seems to be tricky- heating it too much dilutes the full spectrum of flavors.If I hadn't already loved such a combination, this would have rendered me into a convert for sure. I was surprised at how versatile a condiment it was. I think my next step would be to incorporate this into a dessert, perhaps as a key ingredient in an individual crisp or mixed in with some ice cream. It really defied its hyper-specific ingredients, creating a delightful and universal set of flavors for all seasons.

Tirol Mini Variety Pack

Tirol Mini Variety Pack Tirol Variety

Diving right into my new Tirol selection, I'll start with this mini variety pack. Of the 3 flavors, 2 are new to me: Mango and Pachi-Can (popping candy) Soda. Milk is a classic Tirol flavor that I've had many times before but never reviewed.

I'm not sure why the bag says Thank You, but I guess it's Tirol's way of thanking anyone who purchases their products. Well, Tirol is most certainly welcome (though I can't really accept their thanks, since this was a gift), and the brand has such a good track record that I'd like to thank Tirol, too.

Tirol Mango

Tirol flavors with gummy centers rarely disappoint, and Mango was no exception. The white chocolate had a mild mango flavor, and it wasn't too sweet. The center was tart and authentically mango. The texture reminded me of the actual fruit, and Mango was definitely my favorite flavor in the bag. A

Tirol Pachi Can Soda

Pachi-Can Soda smelled and tasted like the Japanese soda Ramune, but the white chocolate was slightly soapy and floral. Despite that, this one was packed with tart, citrusy popping candy. It was really original and fun! The pops weren't too intense, and the tartness of the candy helped the chocolate taste better. B

Tirol Milk

Milk is not my favorite Tirol flavor. The best thing about it is probably this little cow on the wrapper. Milk didn't really seem to go with the set, since the other chocolates were fruity (and Milk unfortunately seemed to pick up some of the soda flavor during storage). The milk chocolate was very creamy, enhanced by the milk-flavored center, but it has a very mild and slightly soured flavor that I don't enjoy. C+

Tirol Website

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Amano Truffles

One of the highlights of food bloggery is being able to share delicious things with family and friends. Sometimes it gets to be a bit of a hassle- finding someone who wants 39 bags of an obscure corn-based snack food, for one, but I genuinely look forward to the times when I can crack into a weird-ass confection with buddies or share a nice chocolate with Keepitcoming after dinner. Sharing nice chocolates is on par with sharing nice wines, both activities I rather enjoy.Amano, to me, is the Trimbach of the chocolate world. Easily one of my favorites, but not something someone outside of the wine/chocolate circle would necessarily recognize as a household name. (Hershey and Hazlitt? Another story entirely. ) Its outstanding quality and depth of flavor in the bars I've previously tried, Dos Rios and Guayas, has the signs of a well-crafted level of skill. (Godiva and Gallo. Don't stop me, it only gets worse from here.) After enjoying the strange thoughtfulness that the last two bars gave me almost a year back, we turned to the truffles for some more thrills and chills.
The box of twelve truffles had a somewhat murky beginning. The flavor guide corresponded to the number of chocolates, but the box seemed to lack certain flavors and have doubles of others. All the truffles featured different flavors paired with Amano's all star lineup of chocolates. However, the main source of deviation from their standard format lay in the beauty of familiarity. For whatever reason, Keepitcoming and I found ourselves neutral to the more exotic chocolates. Cardamom and pepper barely held our interests with its muddled top notes, and key lime pie seemed to have a singular focused bitterness.
It was the raspberry truffle that made our tongues sing. Flavors I would generally skip over, we savored until the end, wishing we had entire boxes of these truffles. The raspberry had a spectacular jammy texture and fresh flavor, while the honey truffle, seen with my tasting notes, had a smoky, unctuous bitter flavor reminiscent of miello corbezzolo. The cinnamon chocolate with candied pecans was autumnal and its crisp, smoky flavors reminded me of chilly fall days and the scent of dried leaves. It was a delightful deviation from the normal flavors of Amano, and one I'd love to have more of. I don't seem to see these on the website, so be warned- they may be a seasonal addition.

Philly Cooking Creme Italian Cheese and Herb

I am not a busy mom. I don't find myself waiting hand and foot on a hungry husband and rushing my children to oodles of activities. My entire life is one big "me time" and I rarely find myself in a dilemma when the time comes to cook dinner for more than one person.

And yet, I found myself drawn to Philadelphia Cooking Creme.Maybe it's because I'm a college student, but I never blink at the opportunity to add cream cheese to food. And being that this was one of Philadelphia's biggest advertising campaigns yet, how could I not try it? The marketing really confines it to a very specific demographic: if you're incompetent at cooking and find yourself literally paralyzed by anxiety over reading a cookbook, this supplement is for you. I can't bring myself to call it a sauce, nor can I call it a creme, because thick, white, gooey stuff that smells funny just doesn't do it for me.
Philly's phinest comes in four flavors, Italian Cheese and Herb (herb singular), Santa Fe Blend, Savory Garlic, and Original. My grocery store only carried two of the four, so I opted to try the Italian Cheese and Herb. Upon opening the package, only one thought entered my mind: is it possible this has gone bad? It couldn't have been- it had only been released less than a week ago. It made no sense. And yet, the texture was grainy and inconsistent, too wet and too pungent. When we tasted it, it was acerbic- that generic herb blend rearing its ugly head, and the "Italian cheese" was mainly just cream cheese. Cream-a chees-a, if you will.
However, it goes without saying that you have to cook with it before you eat it, thus damning this to the unitasking products we so loathe here at Foodette Reviews. It's a one trick pony. You can't spread this on your bagel or mix it in with your quiche. It's a sauce, damn it, and it's not going to pander to anyone else's needs. So with that in mind, we tried it in three applications- as a breakfast food in eggs, as a lunch with a chicken burrito, and as dinner, with homemade gnocchi and meatballs. All three of them vastly disappointed us.
The eggs were probably the biggest failure, as we love to mix a little sour cream or cream cheese into our morning omelettes to make them creamy and fluffy. Cooking creme, however, made us feel like we were being molested by our morning eggs, rendering them grainy and seizing them up, tasting more like school lunch eggs from a military issued brown box than Mark Bittman's low and slow method. The herbs overpowered all other flavors, the scariest being the smoky paprika I added at the end. If a chemical, er, supplement is so powerful that it overwhelms DJ Smoky P, we're in serious trouble. All "creamy" elements of the sauce disappeared or dissolved into the eggs, leaving nothing more but a slimy trail at the bottom of the pan.With the burrito, the cooking creme was the most successful. Granted, that's like giving an award to the best five inch penis in the world, but I digress. I cooked up some chicken in a pan and added about a tablespoon of cooking creme. It cooked and sizzled with the chicken, but ended up browning at the edges. In the minute or so that I sauteed it for, it managed to reduce itself to a milky, watery liquid that barely adhered to the chicken at all. This completely defeated the purpose of being a sauce, because a sauce is supposed to stick to whatever you're using it on, and made it more of a marinade. That being said, a bulk of the graininess was cooked off, and it seemed more mild in a burrito setting. My main complaint, aside from the texture, was how bland it made everything look. That's partially our fault because we think that keeping vegetables around the house is a carnal sin, but it wouldn't hurt to have some small pieces of green and red peppers to enhance the creme. This may provide comfort for people with bland dietary restrictions or infants, but it was rather unpalatable for us.
The pasta and meatballs was a toss-up, because we only added a tablespoon to an entire pound of gnocchi along with a whole jar of pasta sauce. Any effects the creme had were negative. It blended in with the sauce until it was relatively unoffensive, yet still retaining that dastardly generic herb bitterness, and made the leftovers strangely clumpy. It really seems to defeat the purpose of using it as a sauce when you add a mere tablespoon and it still does nothing but screw up your food.

I feel like this is gimmicky in every sense of the word, and preys upon the self-sufficiency of harried consumers. It tastes fake, it's basically useless, and it markets itself as an upscale alternative to many, many other sufficient sauce boosters. This product practically fosters a dependency on packaged products. It's not the mommy bloggers' faults that they're busy, but it is their faults if they can't learn basic cooking skills or memorize the digits to their favorite Chinese joint. For $3.69, you could buy some cream cheese or make a whole mess of bechamel, both of which would provide the desired effect without the extraneous additions. Leave the Cooking Creme behind and order a pizza for your progeny.

Stride Spark Kinetic Fruit

Stride Spark Kinetic Fruit

Stride hopped on the vitamin bandwagon with their new line, Stride Spark. Although I tend to disregard the vitamin aspect, I am a sucker for new products and citrus gum, so I picked up Stride Spark Kinetic Fruit for $1.29 at the grocery store.

B6 and B12 vitamins aside, the swirly, metallic packaging caught my eye. I only assumed it was a citrus gum because of the orange on the packaging - Kinectic Fruit isn't terribly descriptive.

Stride Spark Kinetic Fruit

Initially, the gum had a great sour orange flavor, and the best comparison I can think of is orange Tic Tacs (a childhood favorite of mine). There were small crystals in the gum that gave it a slightly crackly texture as I chewed - probably the Spark.

The tart flavor lasted around 10 minutes, if I remember correctly, though the leftover weakened orange flavor wasn't bad. The gum didn't get too soft or too hard, so there were no issues with texture. I found myself chewing until the flavor faded, then getting a new piece to enjoy the orange flavor again.


Check out another review at The Impulsive Buy.

Stride Gum Website

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lake Champlain Five Star Chocolate Bar Caramel

Lake Champain Five Star Chocolate Bar Caramel

Before I get on with this review, let's have a quick chat about social media. It's getting harder to avoid these days (not that I ever avoided it - I'm a Facebook addict). If you are so inclined, please follow Snack Love on Twitter and/or Facebook.

I purchased Lake Champlain Five Star Chocolate Bars at 3 for $5 at the local fancy grocery store. These bars are shaped unlike any other chocolate bar I've tried. They are small, but very thick.

Lake Champain Five Star Chocolate Bar Caramel

I cut the bar open first, and was amazed to see that it was almost entirely solid caramel. I was expecting a layer of caramel (like a Snickers bar), but instead, the majority of the bar was caramel with some nuts spaced throughout. I think the best way to describe this bar is to say that it's a mouthful.

The caramel was very sweet and buttery, but it was very mild. Along with the almonds, I think there were chocolate chips in the caramel as well. While the bar was good and had a nice vanilla flavor, it was very rich and more caramel than I could handle (and I only had half of the bar). I wished I could taste the chocolate better, but this might be better suited for a die hard caramel fan.


Lake Champlain website

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Paldo Aloe Drink: Pomegranate

I used to see Aloe drink all the time when I was a young lad shopping with my parents in the Asian grocery store but was always turned away by its weird texture. Then one day, on my first food based adventure with Foodette we bought a bottle of regular green aloe drink from the local grocery and I’ve been hooked on it since. The taste of regular aloe drink is crisp and refreshing and tastes like really expensive Muscat grapes. The texture however is something that could take getting used to. The texture of aloe drink is mostly liquid I would say but contains little chunks of aloe pulp. The texture of aloe pulp is very much like the texture of grapes. A drink that tastes like Muscat grapes and has a pulp similar to grape pulp, it’s probably the best thing ever. You’ll love regular aloe drink as much as I do if you like grapes as much as I do, which is a lot.

I stumbled on this different flavor of aloe drink the other night after losing a bit of money at the casino. I saw this on the shelf of a local exotic foods market and thought: “I love aloe, and I like pomegranate too, this could be awesome!” At a price of over $2 a bottle, I was expecting the next greatest thing since regular aloe drink. What I actually got was a bottle of disappointment equal the amount of disappointment I would feel if the next Call of Duty game would feature the voice talent of Justin Bieber in collaboration with the whole cast of Glee.

I still haven’t figured out how they people at Paldo could mess up something that is as delicious as aloe drink, but they did. It was like they took the worst parts of pomegranate juice and the worst parts of aloe drink and bottled it. The juice tasted like artificially flavored pomegranate sugars with added bitterness in a futile effort to emulate the taste of natural pomegranate. The aloe did not absorb any of the flavors of the juice at all, thus it tasted like soft tasteless grape pulp.

It was sometime between the artificially bitter-sweet juice and the tasteless pulp to realize that I had been robbed for a second time that night. There was a moment of despair similar to the moment I had lost my final hand of Spanish 21. I had bought an overly expensive drink that was terrible. It wasn’t something that can be attributed to not having an acquired taste. It was because the drink was just terrible. The flavors are completely artificial and the aloe pulp is unflavored. Even if the aloe pulp absorbed the flavor of the juice it would be terrible. I’m going back to the ever refreshing and delicious green aloe drink which I can drink all day every day I don’t give a fuck.

Tiramisu Tirol

Tirol Tiramisu

Thanks to a friend of mine, I have 10 different flavors of Tirol chocolates to review soon! It's a favorite brand of ours, and she often sends me new flavors when she finds them. In preparation, I thought I should post the Tirol review I've been stewing on for a while before I dig into the various new flavors.

I don't really go nuts for tiramisu, but since I enjoyed the Tiramisu KitKat that came out a few years ago, I thought I'd take a chance on Tirol's offering.

Tirol Tiramisu

The chocolate smelled a bit like cheese (though I was reminded more of cheddar than mascarpone), and the layers were quite pretty. The cocoa powder layer was a nice touch, especially once the piece was broken. The chocolate seemed very soft, and you can see in the picture that it didn't have a clean snap.

The rich chocolate had a slightly bitter coffee flavor with a tempered sweetness and not much in the way of cheese. All of the flavors seemed muted, and while it wasn't bad, it was a bit disappointing. To be honest, I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't just tried the Tiramisu piece in the LOOK Italian Dolce set. Teaser: it was so good that it may have affected my opinion.

Orchid64 also reviewed this flavor on Japanese Snack Reviews.


Tirol website

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Domino's New Boneless Chicken Wings with Mango Habanero Dipping Sauce

Whew, talk about a blast from the past. I think it's been at least a year since I've had Domino's polygontastic boxes fill my dormitory. I like to order from these chains as a rare treat- when I'm not cooking my own food at home, it's fun to see what kinds of expansion delivery places are offering. After seeing Grub Grade report the news about not only a new sauce, but new chicken, I knew I had to forgo the 'zza for an order of wings. Boneless wings, that is. Domino's has been making a lot of positive changes to their food, and after a relatively successful pizza reformulation, they've moved onto their chicken.
So how do they taste? Actually, I'm not sure. I have my timer set for exactly a half hour for delivery. If they tout that kind of service, I expect at least one high speed car chase down Route 9 to bring me my wings. So far, I'm a little wary. Domino's says their new chicken wings are "new and tasty," two modifiers, yet only one of which delivers a murky idea of what the flavor could be. New implies they're not made from elderly chicken, which is good because I like them young, and tasty implies that they're liberally applying Mrs. Dash with each winglet. Hell, at least they're not spelled "wyngz."They came early. Damn. An order of eight wings will set you back around $10 total if you're a good tipper. Without the tip, it came to $8.36, a hair above what I like to pay for standard, fast food wings. Out of the box, they look pretty good. I always appreciate places that put dipping sauce on the side because twenty minutes in a car can mean the difference between stunning and slimy skin. There were eight pieces, but I don't quite think it justifies being called eight wings as they are drastically differing in size, some of them looking to be at least twice as small as others. As far as value goes, I'm not sure if these were worth paying over $1 per wing.The chicken is crispy, with a thick coating of breading. I wouldn't go as far as to call them crunchy like Popeye's of KFC, but more on a Wendy's scale of a softer crust. The chicken inside is a little chewy, but for the most part, tender. On their own, the chicken bites taste pretty good. They're savory and taste like there's some garlic and paprika in them, but I came for the sauce. Sauce masks all imperfections. Adding fruit to sauces can be daunting because you never know what you'll get, but I'm pleased to report that the new mango habanero sauce is balanced and well-spiced, possibly one of the tastiest sauces on the fast food market today.
The sauce worried me at first. The container was filled only halfway up- would this cover eight smallish wings? But my fears were all for naught. The sauce is thick, but not gummy, with a nice orange color and obvious pieces of pepper throughout. It smells mainly of dried mango and assorted spices, and doesn't hint to any obvious heat. However, upon tasting, it's clear that Domino's researched their peppers and researched them well. The heat from the sauce is persistent yet never burning hot, a combination that both satisfies my inner hot head and that of the general public, I'm guessing. It had a nice, smoky paprika flavor with a clean burn that definitely lingered, but kept me wanting more. The texture was a great peppery jamminess that adhered to the chicken and left me wishing I'd ordered more chicken to dip it in. I originally ordered two sauces, fearing I'd run out mid-way, but ended up only using one. Maybe I'll slather the other on a sandwich.Overall, this might just become my new standard, assuming I try to order Domino's more than once a year. They probably wouldn't satiate the average college student, but they were enough for me. If they turned this into a specialty pizza, I'd definitely make an effort to make my way over there more often. If you love heat and fruit, this is something you should check out.

Vegan Barbecue Sandwich at Khyber Pass Pub

When I visited Khyber Pass Pub for a tasting of their preview menu prior to opening (Khyber Pass Pub has now been open in it's new, Southern food inspired reincarnation since November 2010), I lamented that there wasn't a vegetarian/vegan barbecue sandwich on the veg-friendly menu.

The owners and chef of Khyber Pass Pub rectified that situation very quickly — I believe I saw a tweeted picture of the vegan barbecue sandwich a few weeks or so after their opening — but it took me a little while longer to pay a return visit for some 'cue.

The vegan barbecue sandwich comes with a heapin' mound of soft seitan stands drenched with vinegar-tomato sauce, topped with sweet coleslaw, all on a soft, but substantial roll. This sandwich is a dripper, but, oh, so good. The barbecue sauce is extremely tangy, and a bit spicy, so it's hard to taste the coleslaw, especially since the neutral-flavored seitan doesn't counteract the vinegar in the sauce like pork would.

I was especially wooed by the side of vegan collards — perfectly braised with bits of garlic and celery cooked to sweet oblivion in a flavorful potlikker that would give traditional ham hock potlikkers a run for their money. Really, some of the best collards I've had in this town.I'll also recommend the big-ass Mason jar of Bourbon and lemonade, which I believe is called Louisville Lightning on the cocktail list. Makes me wish I were at a real barbecue, sitting outside soaking up the sun.

Khyber Pass Pub

56 S. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106

Bar: every day 11am-2am

Kitchen: every day 11am-1am

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Archer Farms Mediterranean Tomato and Arugula Pizza

I'm not sure what kind of benefit importing foods or ingredients can lend to specific foods. Certain ingredients, for example, are impossible to obtain within the borders of the USA, like burrata, bush meat (it's not what you think) or the impressive McRice. But can imported mozzarella really make a frozen pizza taste better than a crispy New Haven pie? Will imported gelato taste more luxurious than Herrell's homemade ice cream?

Granted, there are certain physical and chemical properties of these ingredients that can enhance foods in ways local specialties cannot. But adjusting to such a change in an ingrained love can have negative repercussions, especially when innovative chefs and companies try to reinvent the wheel. We all wept when Coca-Cola sold out to the man and took cocaine out of their formula for the more economical, purified imported coca leaves.When Keepitcoming and I found this pizza at Target, a frozen favorite that all but gave the equation that directly correlated the relationship between imported ingredients and blissful nirvana. I mean, really. The whole damned thing was shipped in pieces from Sicily, complete with a grade-school map on the back. It had better be good. Out of the box, I wasn't impressed by the sum of its far-away parts. Though it had thickly slices pieces of buffalo mozzarella neatly spanning the inner circle, it was also inconsistently scattered with tomato and arugula, in a mannerism some may call "artful" but I liken to reaching into a D-cup set of breasts and coming up wrist deep in inflatable bra mechanisms. Damn you, Victoria's Secret. Damn those fake nipples. But I digress.

What came out of the oven can only be best described by wordsmiths far better than I: in the immortal words of Joan Jett, "my, my, my, whiskey and rye, don't it make you feel so fine." Simply replace "whiskey and rye" with "tomato and arugula" and you have a point, Ms. Larkin. It looked perfect, but just didn't do it for me. Without expounding upon the irritation I have about ignoring ingredients that are featured in the product's title, I'll just say that the amount of tomatoes on the entire pizza couldn't have covered a stripper's nipple, much less six large slices. The smells that wafted off the pizza radiated little more than steam and vaguely removed dairy, and forecasted the eventual taste. TL; DR, this shit was bland, yo.
While the mozzarella gave a nice chew to the toppings, the tomato and arugula had been so frozen and refrozen and cooked and exposed to high altitudes that they were shells of their former selves, bitter and mushy remains of vegetables that exclaimed more of maceration than Mediterranean. That being said, I didn't quite see the connection between these ingredients and the Mediterranean. Maybe someone in copyediting mixed up the Med and the Margherita, but it lacked all of the acidic, tangy features I typically associate with the cuisine. The crust was inedible as well, having lost all semblance of moisture and airiness in the oven, but provided entertainment the next morning as we broke it in jointed segments like tree branches. This was a fun deviation from our standard Amy's Pizza, but I think I'll stick with my favorites and let the natives handle my requests in the future.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mast Brothers Black Truffle and Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar

In terms of food and wine, I'm always curious about what subtleties and notes do to enhance the overall flavor. Can they intertwine with the base product without overwhelming? Sometimes I like when things are subtle. I've long since eschewed milder flavors, because in all things- food, wine, human interaction, I find that the most robust of gestures have the most lasting impressions on me, but I especially relish when something can tread the fine line between bold and over the top.

When illustrating this point, I often use the example of brettanomyces. With low levels of Brett, a yeast compound found on the skins of grapes, a young red wine can be brought into a depth usually unattainable for its age, be given a certain complexity beyond its years, with organic, musky notes that one must search for. Too much Brett, though, can ruin a wine.With this in mind, I approached the Mast Brothers bar, a gift from Keepitcoming's friend First Tracks, with the same analytical hesitance that I approach certain wines. I did not know if the unusual flavoring would enhance or destroy it. The bar was beautifully wrapped. This was a company whose chocolate I had wanted to try for some time, but had never seen in stores or had the opportunity to purchase. The bar, containing only five ingredients, was flavored with black truffle and sea salt, savory additives I'd only since enjoyed on savory snacks.After unwrapping the bar, it was clear the flavors needed no coaxing. From the initial scent, the umami was nearly palpable, musky and salty on the nose. If the smells were this bold, what would the flavor be like? From the moment I popped a piece in my mouth, and even before that, I could taste the meaty earthiness of the black truffle and the tangy sea salt. It was present just long enough to blur the lines between savory and sweet, and then receded to allow the fruitiness of the dark chocolate come through, a cherry, fruity, naturally sweet taste with an unfortunate textural stubbornness. Clearly, this was a flavor in two acts.
At first, I was a little unsure at how I felt about the clean divide between the flavors, and that one brief interlude of time that I wasn't sure where one ended and the other began. I wanted the entire experience to be like that. But without those two segments, the middle wouldn't be nearly as impressive, and would have had a one-noted taste. It was the subtleties that hooked me. Like a wine with Brett, I found myself searching for that midsection with each bite, delving through the flavors until I found exactly what I was looking for, only to do it again. In the end, it was the hunt, and not the capture, that brought me back for more.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chubby Kids Soda: Cream Scream and Grape

Why don’t we all just acknowledge the elephant in the room and get the obvious over with. Yes, it’s a soda called a Chubby; and yes, a chubby is a synonym for the erection of a penis. Let’s all take a few moments to laugh at the picture of me holding these sodas in suggestive fashions.

Oh hey guys look; he’s holding 2 Chubbies at his crotch! It’s like he’s suggesting they’re dicks or something. Wow, a penis joke! This website is awesome, it’s got informative food reviews and penis jokes!

Anyways, I think we’ve had enough fun at the expense of my hilarious photo and get on with the review. I saw these on the shelf of the local Stop & Shop and thought of the hilarity factor and since they were only 50 cents each, I couldn’t afford not to buy them. I think if there is anything that the people at Chubby got right with this drink it would be creating as good of a gimmick as the people in the Insane Clown Posse had. They proudly display a picture of a portly cartoon child on the front the bottle almost like a surgeon general’s warning to those who want to drink it. “If you drink this colorful fruity soda, you’ll become a cartoon caricature of a fat kid”. So soft drinks make you fat… it’s a magical miracle.

Chubby Soda is a brand that is very popular in Trinidad and Tobago; it’s one of those countries that you hear about in middle school geography textbooks or in a vacation brochure but doesn’t really contribute to our everyday lives or major news. I guess the country’s real contribution to the world is Chubby Soda.

The first flavor I tried was the Grape. In a word it was just plain awful. It tasted like something that FEMA would have gave to Hurricane Katrina victims. Imagine government subsidized grape soda and you’ve got it. And the government soda was probably come in these small packages too. Don’t want the Katrina victims to be too happy with the grape soda that is provided by taxpayer money. Then they’ll never go back to living their old productive lives, they’ll just chill out in the superdome and drink grape soda all day. This soda also went flat really quickly. Within minutes of opening it the carbonation was gone and all that was left was a badly flavored grape flavored drink. Maybe grape drank is just more appealing to more people.

The other flavor was Chubby Cream Scream. I guess this was supposed to be their version of cream soda. The cool thing about this flavor was that it didn’t taste like what regular white people cream soda taste like and this really caught me by surprise. This had a much sweeter and candy taste to it. It was more like a cotton candy flavored soda than vanilla cream. The odd taste was one that would probably take some getting used to. This one however held onto its carbonation for a long time. I had left this bottle in my car for probably a week and it was still carbonated, once again… fucking miracles. All in all these 2 drinks were interesting and if they paint a correct picture of Trinidad and Tobago, I’d probably want to vacation there, but not to the parts where they only have Chubby Grape.