30 April, 2012

If You Can't Drink Milk Without Discomfort...

...You might be "lack toast and tolerant."  Really.

Brilliant Marketing

Multipacks of Doritos, available in the same aisle as video games and accessories at Walmart. Now if they'd just add a display of Mountain Dew, it would be perfect - one-stop shopping for gamers.

28 April, 2012

I Want Me Some Crapes. Or Maybe A Tortia.

What is it about Twitter that makes people so eager to display 140 characters of illiteracy?  Here are a few more examples of hilariously misspelled food items:

I had no idea that so many people called jalapeno peppers "Japalenos:"

And Crapes (aka "crepes") seem to be pretty popular for breakfast among Twitizens:

I guess I can almost forgive misspelling "bruschetta" as "brushetta":

But really, people.  Spelling "tortilla" as "tortia?"  Seriously?

27 April, 2012

New Wheat Thins Spicy Buffalo & Zesty Salsa Flavors

I love Wheat Thins. Somehow, Nabisco has figured out how to make a snack cracker thin enough to just chomp at like a snack, yet be tough enough to stand up to cheeses and dips if that's what fits your mood. And the flavor is enormous - crunchy and nutty and just all-round awesome.

Every now and then, Nabisco comes up with a new flavor to add to the Wheat Thins family.  So far, just about all of them have been great. And  now, they've added two new flavors:  Zesty Salsa and Spicy Buffalo.

A few days ago, we got a package in the mail - Nabisco had sent us a sample box of each of the new flavors - and we spent the next couple of days munching our way through the boxes.

Photos by Nabisco
Zesty Salsa Wheat Thins pick up flavor from dried green peppers, onion, garlic, parsley, and spices.  While there is a certain amount of spiciness, it's balanced well with the other flavor notes (noticeable, but not overpowering, if you know what I mean.) The spicy heat has a tendency to build as you munch although it never becomes overpowering. Of the two flavors, Maryanne and Lynnafred liked this one the best.

The salsa flavor just lends itself to snacking. They're great right out of the box, but I liked them under some cottage cheese, with ranch dip, and especially topped with habanero jack cheese.

Spicy Buffalo Wheat Thins get their kick from cayenne pepper sauce, tomato powder, garlic, and paprika. There is the slightest whiff of vinegar in there (an ingredient of the cayenne sauce) but it's almost unnoticeable unless you set your mind to finding it.

As you might expect, there's more of an immediate chile pepper kick from this variety than there is from the Zesty Salsa.  It's a good, warming heat and not a mouth-killing blast, though (if you're a chilehead, the heat from these will register on the low end of your sensors...for the rest of us, the glow will be a notch or so above "mild.")

Here again, the heat builds up on you the more you eat. And true to typical cayenne behavior, that heat stokes up in the back of your throat and might start feeling a little harsh after half a box or so. Of course, you can modulate the heat a little by serving them up with cheese or creamy dips. Spicy Buffalo pairs up nicely with onion dip or a good sharp cheddar.

Spicy Buffalo is my own favorite of the two. Lynnafred, who is very sensitive to vinegar flavoring, didn't care for them very much. That's okay with me, though - it just means that I'll get to have the box all to myself. OM NOM NOM

Both Zesty Salsa and Spicy Buffalo are solid additions to the Wheat Thins line. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

23 April, 2012

Priano Vegetable Lasagna by ALDI

Priano Vegetable Lasagna, an ALDI house brand, is probably one of the most unusual frozen lasagnas I've tried in some time.

First of all, there is absolutely no ricotta cheese - or even any cottage cheese - within its layers. Eash seet of pasta is separated by a lightly seasoned layer of pale red (almost orange) tomato sauce. And, although both the box art and the ingredients indicate that the pasta is going to be green spinach pasta, this is not actually the case; the only thing there is plain ol' standard sheets of lasagna noodles.

The lasagna certainly delivers the mozzarella, though. the first thing you'll notice when the package comes out of the microwave is the thick mozzarella topping studded with bits of broccoli, sauteed onion bits, and what I think are either carrots or tomatoes. Overall, I liked it even though it really wasn't what I was expecting.

On the other hand, this Priano lasagna was imported from Germany. What do the Germans know about making lasagna, anyway?

To see how this lasagna stacks up against other frozen lasagna brands and varieties, click here.

22 April, 2012

Bremer Selects Vegetable Lasagna by ALDI

Bremer Selects Vegetable Lasagna (an ALDI house  brand) is pretty good as frozen lasagnas go. The "vegetables" are provided by finely cut zucchini and carrots in with the sauce, but they're well enough incorporated into the mix that they aren't disturbing (or noticeable, for that matter) even by someone who might profess to hate zucchini and/or carrots.

The sauce is quite authentic, and there is just enough of it to make for a good consistency - not dry enough to make the lasagna tough, nor so much as to make it soupy. I suppose there could be a bit more mozzarella on top, and I also took points off for there being cottage cheese in the layers instead of real ricotta, but overall I thought it was a good lasagna and a decent lunch.

To see where this lasagna ranks among other frozen lasagnas I've reviewed, click here.

21 April, 2012

Lay's Classic BLT Potato Chips

It's not often that I stop short in the snack aisle of the supermarket, do a double-take and say, "Wait...what?" But it's not often that I find something like these Lay's Classic BLT-flavored potato chips, either.

My first thought was that they would taste just like any other barbecue flavored chip on the market, since they were likely to have powdered tomato and some kind of smoke flavoring added to simulate the BLT experience. However, the ingredient panel listed things like "Natural Bacon Type Flavor" and "Natural Lettuce Type Flavor" as well as the expected tomato powder and paprika extracts. So I gambled four bucks and bought a bag...

...and I was amazed.  These chips really do taste like a classic BLT. Every flavor is there, in roughly the proper proportions - tangy tomato, smoky bacon, lettuce, and even a hint of mayo which totally took me by surprise because Lay's has managed to coax a mayo-like flavor using sour cream, whey, and sugar. The chips are completely and almost perfectly as advertised.

Okay, so they're not going to be my go-to standard potato chip any time soon, but they will certainly be something I buy for the sake of novelty, or that I pick up to bring to a picnic if someone tells me it's my turn to buy the chips.

20 April, 2012

KFC's Chocolate Chip Cake

Have you seen the latest KFC ads where they promise a free chocolate-chip cake with any bucket of chicken?  I'd seen them, but I hadn't paid much attention to them.  Which is why, when I was at Kentucky Fried Chicken picking up supper, I was totally taken by surprise when the kid behind the counter asked, "Would you like a free cake with that?"

Why thank you, young man, I would indeed enjoy a complimentary baked good.

The cake is a very moist, almost fudgy, chocolate ring cake drizzled with white confectioner's frosting. It's very good, though a little light on the chocolate chips.  If you happen to be in the mood for KFC and you're offered the cake, take it.

18 April, 2012

Review: Beer Chips

Beer chips. Potato chips made with beer.  Where do I even begin with these things?

Well, I like beer. And I like potato chips. And you know, I gotta admit that chips and beer go pretty well together.  But they don't go together this way if you know what I mean.

Beer chips are thick-cut kettle-cooked chips which are flavored with a coating of powdered beer, and there is no mistaking it. The taste of beer is quite pronounced and certainly unique in the snack universe.

And they taste disgusting. Kind of like piss. Really cheap piss. Cheaper than Pabst Blue Ribbon. Cheaper even than Falstaff or Milwaukee's Best. 

I've eaten some pretty weird stuff. Balut. Canned pig brains. A German-made cheeseburger sealed in a can. Some things have been worse than others. But Beer Chips? They're just nasty

17 April, 2012

Off The Cuff Recipes: Chopped Ham and Ham Salad

I don't always have recipes for the stuff I prepare at home. When I was learning how to cook from my mother, there wasn't always a recipe to follow - she would put in "a little of this and some of that," and when suppertime rolled around, the meal was on the table.

Nowadays I still cook like that, though when I'm going to write a blog post about it I try to pay attention as I go along and write down notes with specific measurements and steps to make it easier for readers to recreate what I've done. But some "recipes" are so simple that I don't really need to do that.  Chopped ham is one of those recipes, so I'm using it as an inaugural post for what I hope will become a semi-regular feature called "Off The Cuff Recipes." I'll present the recipes exactly the way I do it so you can use the post as sort of a "rough draft" towards making your own, or as a springboard for discussion in the comments about how you go about making a similar dish.

Chopped ham is super easy. Just get some leftover ham - or even some "ham ends" from the deli - and run them through a food chopper. Chop as much as you want. Measure out the chopped ham and for every cup of ham you have, add a couple of tablespoons of sweet pickle relish. Toss them together well and refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend.

You can eat the chopped ham just the way it is, or add a little mayo to it and spread it on rye bread for sandwiches. It's pretty awesome.

Note:  Food choppers are different than meat grinders.  Read about the difference here.

16 April, 2012

Fishy Delights 46: Iberia Canned Octopus

This is probably going to be the last time I review a tin of octopus - not because I'm going to stop buying it, but because it turns out that all brands of tinned octopus are pretty much the same. In fact, I suspect that there is one master cannery where all the world's supply of octopus is put up into cans, and then sold to various companies around the world who put the unmarked cans into their own branded cardboard box packaging.

And thus it is that I can say that Iberia brand octopus in soybean oil is exactly as good as you would expect if you happen to like canned octopus (which I do.) Inside the can you will find circular cuts of tentacles, tender yet chewy, with a very pleasant seafood flavor strongly reminiscent of calamari. 

Also: If you like seafood and you're trying to lose a few pounds, keep in mind that a 4-ounce tin of octopus is very satisfying (probably has something to do with the chewiness) and is only 100 calories.

The Kobe Beef Lie

In a recent article in Forbes, Larry Olmstead reveals the true nature of beef sold in the United States as "Kobe beef."  It's quite a read, and I recommend it.

Read the article here:

Food's Biggest Scam: The Great Kobe Beef Lie by Larry Olmstead.

15 April, 2012

Tennessee Pride Fully Cooked Sausage Patties

I have only one rule about buying sausage at the store: Don't ever buy fully-cooked frozen sausage, because it is never any good.

And yet, when I saw these Tennessee Pride fully cooked sausage patties at ALDI the other day, I bought them against my better instinct. After all, Tennessee Pride is a solid brand - I've had other products put out by them before, and was never disappointed.

But those products were never fully cooked and frozen.

I opened the package to find the eight patties had been put into sets of two, each set enclosed in a plastic pouch. It seems that these were portioned to microwave two at a time and be served with a couple of biscuits. Sure enough, the package instructions were all about microwaving.  But I was feeding the family breakfast aqnd wasn't interested in an individual serving to heat-and-eat. I unwrapped the lot of them and put them in a frying pan over low heat to warm up, and served them alongside eggs and homefried potatoes

I really like the flavor of Tennessee Pride sausage. The spices are well balanced, and the result is really delicious. But the spongy texture, too wet and too chewy, put all of us off. It's the same reason I won't ever buy Banquet Brown 'n' Serve sausage - nothing against the flavor, everything against the mouthfeel.

I don't think I'd buy them again unless they were wicked cheap.

14 April, 2012

Cape Cod Potato Chips Introduces Four New Varieties!

I got home the other day to find a surprise package on the porch - it was from our friends at Cape Cod Potato Chips, and it contained four bags of chips for us to review - the four all-new varieties that they're rolling out right now (just in time for burger-and-dog season.)

There are two lines to the new varieties, and each of them have two flavors.

The first new line is called Chef's Recipe, and come in two flavors developed by Chef Weldon Fizell of The Regatta restaurant in Cotuit. 

Chef's Recipe Feta & Rosemary chips are deliciously flavorful. Notes of rosemary and a touch of garlic blend well with the sharpness of feta. Lynnafred is not a big fan of feta cheese, but nevertheless she enjoyed these - the feta flavor is distinct, but at the same time tamed by the other seasonings. Chef Weldon, I am told, developed this flavor based on his signature crostini appetizer. If you're a fan of cheese-flavored chips, you should absolutely give this one a try. 

Chef Weldon's other new variety is Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper. The garlic is seasoned with red pepper flakes, with a touch of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Maryanne really liked this chip, but I thought it would be a bit better if the garlic was toned down a little. The sparingly-applied balsamic vinegar was a nice touch - just enough to give the chips a bit of a  kick without being overwhelming.

Along with the Chef's Recipe line, Cape Cod has also waffle-cut chips, and they're just brilliant.

I guess you could call Cape Cod's Waffle Cut Sea Salt chips the "plain" variety (just potatoes fried in canola oil with some salt)  The waffle cut makes the chips at once delicate and rugged, and really brings out the tater flavor. All of us thought that the richer and heartier potato taste was more like potato sticks than chips. Extremely good.

Our hands-down favorite of the bunch, though, was Waffle Cut Seasoned Pepper. This cut is particularly well-suited for a blended pepper seasoning, because the stronger potato flavor stands up better to the aggressiveness of the pepper. Cape Cod is using a blend of black, white, and red peppers along with paprika to bring an awesome pepper bouquet to the chips. We liked the way the heat built as we ate them - the spice never got overpowering, just better.

These chip flavors are made of crispy Win and Awesome.

13 April, 2012

Wait - What The Hell Is "Flaming Young?"

Misspellings are interesting, especially when an unusual misspelling seems to become the default way people mangle a word or phrase. Twitter is a great place to collect hilarious misspellings - not only because its fast pace helps phrases and memes spread quickly, but also because there are a lot of people using Twitter who quite frankly can't spell worth shit.

Check out a few of my favorites:

Grill Cheese (Grilled Cheese):

Flaming Young (Filet Mignon):

Cup of Chino (Cappuccino):

General Toes Chicken (General Tso's Chicken):

Or, if you prefer, General Toast Chicken:

Maybe you're not in the mood for Chinese. You might prefer Mexican...how about a Casadia (Quesadilla):

And of course, there's the old favorite that no one seems to be able to spell without looking it up, Horderves (hors d'oeuvres):

03 April, 2012

Review: Priano Eggplant Parmesana by ALDI

Sometimes when I'm in the mood for eggplant parmigiana, I don't have any eggplant handy. That's not a problem in the summer, when my eggplant vines in the garden are practically falling over with fruit. But in the winter and spring, good eggplant is hard to find, and local eggplant is just not available. And that's when frozen eggplant parm comes in.

Most of the time, I've bought Celentano eggplant parmigiana. It's decent, and Celentano's tomato sauce is very good. But recently, I found that ALDI was carrying their house brand parmigana, Priano. I bought a few to give it a try. 

And no surprise, it's as good as I've come to expect from ALDI products. The slices of eggplant are lightly breaded, with tangy tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese between the slices (though not as much as the box photo shows.) The product is microwaveable, but when I'm cooking it at home I put it in the oven so I can melt a little mozzarella on the top for the last five minutes of heating time. Half a package is perfectly adequate for a serving along side the pasta of your choice (my choice for the photo at left was rigatoni.) Delicious. 

Like many ALDI products, you may have trouble finding it at your local ALDI, since they have a habit of rotating the availability of many of their specialty items. If you can't find it at your ALDI, don't be afraid to ask the manager about it - they may be able to bring it in for you.

02 April, 2012

Guarana Soda

I was at The Barn, a sort of job-lot grocery store in Greenfield, MA, when I found this: Guarana soda. It was at a truly bargain price: $1.00 per 12-pack (that's not a typo. It really was twelve cans for one dollar.) Imported from Brazil, the soda is flavored with guarana berries and sweetened with cane sugar. Lynnafred put a couple of 12-packs into our shopping cart. "First of all," she said, "Guarana is delicious. And second of all, they're loaded with caffeine. This soda is guaranteed to be excellent."

It is excellent, actually. I'm not sure how much caffeine is in the soda (the label doesn't say) but the flavor is very good. Sort of fruity with a hint of citrusy sharpness. Lynnafred says it tastes a lot like Monster energy drink, which makes sense because guarana is a big ingredient in Monster.

For me, though, the flavor is startlingly similar to one of my favorite defunct soft drinks, OK Soda, a one-time product of the Coca-Cola Company which was briefly test-marketed in 1993.

Guarana is good stuff, refreshing and a little fruity. We liked it well enough to run back up to The Barn again at the end of the week to buy five more 12-packs. Chances are, it's going to be hard for us to find in the future.

01 April, 2012

Grote & Weigel Rides Again

The first Grote & Weigel products since the company was saved from the brink of bankruptcy are hitting the shelves. I was out shopping this morning when I noticed that Grote & Weigel Easter Kielbasa is back on shelves just in time for the holiday.

Here's hoping that natural casing franks are next!