Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trader Joe's and Limited Edition Junk

 I kept hearing people rave about these, so I managed to get my hands on a bag. The first impression is of sweet broccoli, and nuttiness. The smell wafts invitingly out of the bag. I can see what all the fuss was about. Delicious. The florets are perfectly, satisfyingly crunchy. Whatever they do to make these things, the end result is light and crisp, not dense or hard. My only complaint is that they don't stand up well to being shoved in a box with a bunch of things and shipped great distances. Mine are... crumbs, mostly. Ah, well. Can't have everything.

I forgot to take a picture, but the other Trader Joe's snack I got at the same time was their Pickle in a Popcorn. Pickle-flavored popcorn. They mean what they say. This isn't too vinegar-heavy, but it absolutely captures the briney, dilled experience. I ate a bunch in one sitting. And then I had pickle burps for hours. :/

Ghostbusters Key Lime Slime Twinkies! I love key lime, and was very interested to see if a tart filling would somehow make a twinkie appealing to me. Nope. The filling is sparse and blandly sweet.

Chocolatey Caramel Pop Tarts are okay. The filling is chewy, discernible caramel. The chocolate is mild and easily lost, typical of chocolate pop tart pastry. Very sweet.

Pop Tarts Crush Orange. Whoa. Whoa! I don't know how, but they managed to get the filling to taste exactly like a glass of Orange Crush. It's uncanny. Whether that was a good idea, on the other hand.. Bleh. It's over-sweet, and jarring. But spot on. It's made me nervous to try the A & W Root Beer iteration.

Not pictured, but def. included and eaten:

Pop Tarts A&W Root Beer. Well. The first smell, and bite, really hit the nail on the head. A&W Root Beer, with a touch of creaminess (like a rootbeer float). Before I'd truly decided if Root Beer Pop Tarts were a good thing or a bad thing, the flavor changed. Sweet, and bland were all that was left. Except for when I ate a bit of the pastry by itself. That was a bad idea. They added some sort of flavoring to the crust, in addition to turning it a light brown color (this halfway between plain and chocolate). Whatever they did, the crust alone is bitter and off-tasting. I finished one tart, but the second one is too much. Ugh.

Watermelon Pop Tart. Damn my morbid curiosity. And whatever person decided on the candy approximation of watermelon flavor. It tastes nothing like the real thing. The filling in these babies is perfectly artificial watermelon. Unfortunately, as a child I chewed too much watermelon Bubble Yum for my brain to understand that they could exist separately, and as a result all of this watermelon flavored stuff makes my brain expect gum. (Watermelon Oreos are the other big one I've experienced this with.) My brain says "This is gonna be springy and chewy" and then it's pastry and my whole life is ruined.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lay's Passport to Flavor (2016)

Lay's latest gambit is called Passport to Flavor. It seems to be inspired by the Olympics. This time, instead of voting for a winning flavor, consumers collect points for each bag they buy, which they can put towards entries into travel giveaways.

So here we go, off into another set of chip flavors. I'll write about them in the order I tried them.

I started with Brazilian Picanha, a regular-style chip. They smell meaty and herbaceous. The taste: meat/beef, tomato (sweet, acid), light herb notes that turn into a pretty noticeable parsley flavor. These are okay. I could eat a serving with a sandwich, but they are not crave-able. I feel like the past few beefy chip flavors have been underwhelming. They remind me of the burger smell that sticks to a vent hood or the inside of a grill lid.

Next up, Chinese Szechuan Chicken, the other regular-style chip. The bag smells like stale bread? Like a bakery, but not yeasty. A little sweet. Now let's try them. They taste exactly like they smell - stale bread, sweetness, but with a little spicy heat. The flavor develops after a few chips into something a touch more acidic, like the chili sauce in an Asian restaurant. Still underwhelming, reminiscent of a cheap brand of spicy ramen. I didn't get much in the way of chicken flavor.

On to the wavy chip - Greek Tzatziki. First impression is of dill, tang, and cream. Tasting time. "Whoa, this reconstitutes well." I get the dill, a touch of garlic, tangy yogurt. This is tzatziki. There's even just a titch of cucumber flavor, brilliantly subtle (not overwhelming or super fake). These are good.

And finally the kettle cooked chip, Indian Tikka Masala. This bag has a strong, complex aroma. Sweetness, curry, cardamom hit the hardest but they aren't alone. Let it be said that it's not discordant or off-balance. This smells amazing! Taste-wise, I get tomato, curry, warm spices, a little heat. And it's rich, almost buttery. With the potato chip added in, these make me think of a cauli-less aloo gobi. These are legitimately good, not just best-of-the-pack, limited edition good.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hershey's & Reese's Snack Mix, Werther's Caramel Popcorn

I received a few candy-related items and decided they made as much sense grouped together as anything else, so here they are!

 Reese's Snack Mix. It truly bothers me that the label is not aligned with the shape of the container. Inside, I found baby Reese's PB cups, Reese's Pieces, peanuts, and little pretzel bbs (The size of a Reese's Piece, but round). The ratio is pretty good, you're not getting a can of pretzels with two cups or anything. But it's maybe too even. Those little cups are really sweet. The pretzels are okay, nothing to write home about. The Pieces are delicious, as always. The peanuts are over-roasted, though. This was the most promising of the three and I am disappointed. I'll just take the Reese's Pieces plain and add them to my popcorn myself. 

I was not excited about the Hershey's Snack Mix. I'm not a huge Hershey's bar fan, except in the case of s'mores, where they are required. The mix includes mini Hershey's bars, pretzel bbs, roasted almonds, and little chocolate balls. The almonds are toasted well and lightly salted. Pretzel bbs are the same as the Reese's Mix ones. Baby Hershey's bars are.. baby Hershey bars. The little chocolate balls... I don't know what's going on there and I don't like it. They're a little salty, and something about them really enhances that whole vomit flavor Hershey's can have. 

Payday Snack Bites! I enjoy the occasional Pay Day and was looking forward to this. There is something different about these. A snack-size Payday has a nougat core, caramel, and salted peanuts. I assumed these would be maybe half of a snack size bar. There's some sort of candy coating ( like white "chocolate") on the outside and the flavor is off. Why did they change it? Why?

The bag tells you all you need to know, really. Werther's Caramel plus popcorn. It's a winning combination. It's not some revolution in the caramel popcorn game, but it is delicious. This is the best caramel popcorn I've had recently.

Oreos: Choco Chip, Fruity Crisp, and S'mores Limited Editions

Well, here they are. The latest batch of Limited Edition Oreos. I truly wish I could just buy the little 4 cookie snack pack sizes of these things. I know, I know, if people are willing to shell out for the whole thing to try the flavor why would they bother... Anyway.

First up, Choco Chip Cookie. I assumed this was a rehash of the cookie dough flavor. But closer inspection reveals there are 'choco chips' (or at least dark specks) in the oreo cookie, to mimic a chocolate chip cookie. Similar specks can be found in the creme. These smell vaguely vanilla-y and taste like a vanilla cupcake candle. I mean.. The aroma. I don't eat candles. Nothing chocolate that I could isolate, just heavy vanilla. Pretty bland, all told.

As soon as I pulled open the seam of the Fruity Crisp Oreos (which, why are they the only ones of this batch without the convenient easy-open tab on top?), I was assaulted with the smell of Fruity Pebbles. Well, I say Fruity Pebbles, but it was a close call between that and some sort of kitchen cleaner. FP cranked wayyyy up. The actual cereal doesn't smell as strongly as opening the packaging here would do.  Taste? They messed up. That big bowl of Pebbles on the front and these are definitely more Froot Loop. The flavor is spot on for the cereal though. Whatever food science was used to make that happen went too far, though. I could taste this for at least an hour after I ate it. (And I only ate 1, so... whoa on the whoas everyone.) A final note: there are bits of Pebbles in the creme to add a little extra crunch. This, I do like. It reminds me of the Marshmallow Crispy Oreo, one of my all-time favorite LE Oreos.

S'mores. I feel like this is a very extended Limited Edition? Or a quick re-release? Regardless, these were another disappointment. The cookie does have a vague graham note. The creme didn't really hit on chocolate or marshmallow, just plain creme. 

Am I picky? Probably. I'm wondering now if it's me or if Oreo has a hard time hitting the scant middle ground between not enough flavor to tell and 'why can't I get this taste to go away it's been hours'?

Western Washington

For Christmas my little brother and his wife sent us an amazing smattering of Western Washington-specific products. A brilliant idea, with a nicely varied selection.

Rainy City Crunch (Chocolate) granola bars. These have oats, a bunch of kinds of nuts and seeds, and cranberries in them. I was a little concerned about the dried cranberry addition, especially since these were chocolate flavored. The bars are thin, and come all together in one bag - no individually wrapped wastefulness here. Intense cocoa flavor, brilliant crunch, with a hint of chewiness. The nuts and seeds make it quite hearty, and the cranberries work somehow. They're just a little tartness for when the cocoa and the richness of the nuts starts to overwhelm. Also, there's a sprinkle of coarse salt that makes these. They are all gone, and I want more.

Drizzle's Blood Orange Olive Oil and Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar.  The blood orange flavor brightens the olive oil, and adds a wonderful tartness. I used half the bottle in a blood orange olive oil cake, no regrets. The cake was delicious and I'm pretty sure that subbing in the blood orange oil in place of plain really kicked the flavor up a notch.  The blackberry ginger vinegar is equally wonderful. The flavor is rich and heady, enough that I sometimes pop the bottle open just to take a quick whiff. It's brilliant headlining a vinaigrette, and I keep workshopping a way to add it to something chocolate.

Spice Hut Orange Cream Rooibos Tea. Delightful. It's tart, but the vanilla smooths the tartness. I only put a touch of sugar in here, which is pretty impressive. (I usually add a bunch not because I have a sweet tooth but because I have a hard time reconciling the difference between the smell and taste of most teas.) As a wonderful bonus, the tea bags are biodegradable, so I don't feel bad about using them.

Bellewood Acres Honey Roasted Peanut Butter. I had to ration this once I started to get to the bottom of the tub. It's crunchy and perfectly sweetened and salted with a deep, roasted peanut flavor. This is hearty, stick to your ribs peanut butter and I'm sad it's gone.

Smoked Sockeye.

Monday, August 01, 2016

German Summer Treats

 Emmental Pringles. Part of the summer/football push. Pretty light on flavor. Salty, with a hint of emmental nuttiness. Not bad, but not special/accurate enough to buy again.

 Summer RitterSport! The only new-to-me flavor this season. They got this one just right. The milk chocolate is smooth and sweet, and the filling is creamy and tart. Yum.

 I was pretty excited for new Capri-Sun flavors. Fruity Water comes in Red Fruits and Tropical. I chose red fruit. I should have read the fine print, these are 'healthier' because they water the juice down, and spike it with fake sugar to make up the difference. Blech. I foisted these off on unsuspecting kids at a neighborhood bbq.

 Found these in the refrigerated case. They're a fresh Happy Hippo. A milk chocolate exterior, fresh creamy filling, and a toasty, nutty layer to bridge the gap. Om nom nom nom.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Korean Box 2

As I believe I mentioned before, I received a second box of Korean snacks. It's finally time to break them out! Here's the whole haul, before I dig in and take a good look at each item.

Little fish cakes. These are so cute! Also, as you can see from the second picture, these are actually cake. Yay! The cake is a light sponge cake, not very sweet. I expected from the box that these would be chocolate/marshmallow. The filling doesn't look like the box art. There is no visible white, and the brown is lighter and thick-sort of fudge-y in consistency. I do wonder if that's a result of the shipping/age, though. Not a real chocolate flavor. These aren't bad, and they are adorable. That makes up for the blandly sweet flavor.

Premium whole almond candy. These look just like the picture. A whole almond is set on a small piece of milky toffee. The almond isn't covered, so when you put it into your mouth there is an unignorable difference of textures between the smoothness of the hard candy and the coarsness of the almond skin. After the pumpkin taffy, I've been more careful about biting down on candies and to that end I sucked on the almond candy for a minute. The toffee is slow to dissolve, but pleasantly sweet and mildly milky. Bored, though, I gave an experimental bite and was well rewarded. The toffee is brittle and breaks easily. Together the almond and the candy are delightfully crunchy and well balanced. 

They aren't joking when they say these are milk flavored. For some reason the taste of these makes me think of movie theater popcorn. They're not really salty, so I'm not sure why. Milky and sweet, with the intensity of evaporated milk. Very sweet, enough that it.. burns(?) that 's not the right word, but you know what I mean.

I was pretty excited for crackers and cheese. I love the salty calorie bombs that are those pb and cheese cracker sandwiches. These... well. The crackers are saltine-like. But without the salt on top. Very thin, very bland by themselves. The picture is not a mistake, these are double-deckers. Top cracker, orange cheese smear, middle cracker, yellow cheese smear, bottom cracker. The cheese is thin, and not as punchy as I'd like. Also the yellow is sweet. I like salty and sweet as much as the next lady, but this just isn't balanced. I am disappointed.

Oreo-flavored wafers, covered in chocolate. What's not to love? These aren't as 'oreo' forward as I was expecting, but they do hit on the signature flavors. Probably something to do with the cookie/cream ratio. These are still delicious and the flaky wafer texture is nice, as well.

Smoky Bacon Chips.
There is a lightly smokey smell when the bag is first opened. It's also a little sweet. These chips are puffed something. Potato? Rice? Who knows. It makes these light, airy, and satisfyingly crunchy. The flavor is, like the scent, lightly smokey. A little salt and umami, but these are not assertive. The picture on the package led to me believe they would be intense but they aren't. For which I am glad. These are moreish. I could see myself eating the whole bag without realizing it.

Tiny ramen puck chips. These smell, unsurprisingly, like cup noodle. They are taller/fatter than I expected. 2cm diameter, 1 cm height. The noodles are quite densely packed, but very light and brittle. It's easy to bite through, it doesn't really throw off shards like biting into a ramen brick would. Flavor? Savory, sweet, spicy. More spicy than I expected. In a back of the tongue, lingering sort of way. The package has.. hot dogs? with some sort of glaze and sesame seeds on the top right. I don't get a really meaty flavor. These are more like spicy ketchup (but with no real tomato tang. I know, it doesn't make sense.). Huh. Also, a lot less salty than I assumed.

First things first. The box opens from the side and has a little tab to reclose it. Sort of like a fast food chicken box. The box doesn't lie. These are shaped like tiny drumsticks, with a smooth breadcrumby exterior. I'm not getting a strong scent from the bag. A little chicken-y, a little herb-y, maybe. Huh. The fat part of the drumstick (the meat, as it were) is hollow. These are very crunchy. I'm not getting a lot of flavor. A smidge of onion, maybe, a touch of chicken. Mostly these taste like breadcrumbs. But not in a bad way. And the crunch is so satisfying.

I was worried that after the honey-butter potato chip disappointment that I'd be wasting my time by saving these for last. Fear not, past me! You made the right choice. These are deliciously addictive. 2" segments of churro-shaped chip. These bad boys are super crunchy, and perfectly sweetened. Decent, not overwhelming cinnamon, and a touch of authentic honey flavor round out the profile. These are incredibly moreish and some friends and I ate nearly the whole bag in a very short sitting. Yum!

I've been eating these the whole time I've been sampling snacks. Again, like a Korean Hi-Chew. These are soft, chewy, and brightly apple-y. What's not to love?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Germany takes on Root Beer

During one of my leisurely, not shopping for actual groceries, trips to the store I found these cans of root beer on the shelf. 

Naturally, I bought both of them and brought them home. Europeans don't typically "do" root beer. I've heard more than once that there is some toothpaste flavor here that's pretty similar and it makes the beverage too weird to drink. Regardless, these are both German-made. The cans are the best. One is an american flag, the other specifically says "no beer" on it.

Tem's Root Beer. Smells like root beer. Mostly. Tastes... like root beer. Mostly. Heavy on the wintergreen. Enough that after two or three drinks I was getting flashbacks to Life Savers. The balance is wrong. But it's not terrible, although it is very carbonated.

Carters Root Beer. This smelled about the same as Tem's. That did not prepare me for the very heavy fresh mint rush and aftertaste. Before that vegetal, mint hits you it almost tastes like root beer too. But not quite.

I wouldn't buy either of these again. Good effort, but I'll stick to American brands. They did leave me wondering if that's how real root beer tastes to Germans - some sort of lost in translation thing...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Trio of Posh Pop

I randomly found a small brand of soda from the UK in a kitchen store in Bruges. The flavors were intriguing, so I grabbed a few to try. I saved them for a while, waiting for just the right time. But that was silly and they were just taking up space in my fridge.

Up first, Pear & Elderflower.  This is delicious. The crisp pear flavor is prominent, but it's perfectly complemented by the lighter elderflower. The combination somehow manages to capture the taste of a fresh asian pear. The carbonation is light, but present. Very refreshing. If this is a sign of things to come, I'm quite pleased.  I only wish these were easier to get.

Cloudy Lemonade. Lemony, lightly carbonated, not too sweet. This is pretty good. I love tart lemon things, especially lemonade. This doesn't pack quite the punch I was hoping for, but it's quite nice.

And finally - Ginger Beer with Chilli. The ingredients for this, just after carbonated spring water and sugar, is whole lemon and orange fruit concentrate. So the main taste I'm getting is citrusy - like the lemonade. There is the 'burn' in my throat I associate with ginger, but the flavor itself is a muted afterthought. As for the chilli, I'm having a hard time pinpointing that as well. I guess I get a little bit of chilli flavor in the heat of the ginger, and the heat lingers in a chilli-like way. The more I drink the more burn I get, and the longer the burn lasts. I wish I had some french fries to eat with this; I think it would cut the greasiness fantastically.

Overall I'm pleased. These pops are all less aggressively carbonated and sweetened than many sodas I've had. I wish they were available here, because I'd love to try Strawberry & Rhubarb, Plum & Cherry, and Sloe Lemonade.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Random New! Things

As I may have mentioned, I have a problem when it comes to new things. These don't belong in a group or really have anything to do with one another, but they've been waiting and I might as well, right?

I was mildly concerned when I saw these, but some persuasion from my mom convinced me to give them a try. My feelings did not lead me astray. They have the same texture/mouthfeel as a yogurt raisin, which I do like. A light caramel flavor seems okay at first whiff, but the salt. Oh, the salt. Ugh. I like salt, I do, but this is unbalanced and heavy. No thanks. Now what do I do with these?

Confession time? I don't like persimmons. I haven't since I was a child. We had a few persimmon trees in our back yard and every year when they ripened we'd try them, convinced that maybe the previous year's fruits were a bad fluke. Always gross. So again, I went into this with some apprehension. The flavor is overwhelmingly orange. Not bad. But there is just a lingering wrongness that I assume comes from the persimmon that meant I won't be eating the rest of these. 

Yay! New Capri Sun! This is Superdrink, y'all. It was Minions last year, so tying in to Batman vs. Superman makes sense. This is pretty great. Apple, orange, lemon, cherry. They combine well. The cherry flavor shines through. Plus it's exciting to have a Supergirl pouch. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Box 1 Part... 3?

There has been a lot of Valentine's-related snacks going around, so I haven't gotten back to the Korean snacks really. Also, if I'm honest, I am not as excited about the rest of this package (with the notable exception of the honey and butter kettle chips, which I'm saving because I just got one small bag).

Up first:

So. More chips. These are shaped as shown on the package, like rigatoni and elbow macaroni had a baby. Hollow inside, the chip is thin like a noodle as well. I had to cut open the bag (this is not the first such occasion, Koreans like tough snack bags I guess). My first impression of these is the smell from the bag - it took a minute to place it, but it really reminds me of hot hush puppies. Not what I was expecting. There is no tomato flavor at all. The picture lies. I didn't get much flavor from the chip itself, I don't even know what it's made of. It is very crunch, though. Good texture. The coating is bright red and oddly sweet. A spicy note pops up on occasion. These are sort of confusing. They're definitely not moreish, but they are pretty unoffensive so it's easy to keep eating them. 

I let someone else try these and she suggested that the flavoring was like "Oriental" flavored ramen. She's right. The chip itself being sweet hides that.

Onto the worm? aliens?. They are gummi candies, as I guessed. All of them orange and green or yellow and red. They can't be worms because they have fishy tails and little fins? about halfway down their wormy torsos. Big surprise at the bottom of the bag: you see how the king alienworm is bigger than the rest of his crew on the packaging? That's true to life. Most of the worms are 2ish inches long. The worm king is twice as big, and cola flavored.  The gummis are soft, which is nice. More tart than an american gummi worm. These are good.

I've been putting these off since I first read the package. I just couldn't get behind the idea of putting broccoli in a candy. Who does that? (Korea, obviously.) 

Following my lifelong habit of eating the least good thing first and saving the best for last, I tore open a Broccoli & Kiwi. "Mmm.. kiwi! This is actually pretty goooooo...oooh. Oh. Broccoli. They weren't kidding. Yikes. This is bad. They ruined it. Maybe if I give it a little longer the flavors will balance and it will make sense? Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope." I had to spit it out. It tasted like someone distilled the most sulfurous, bitter notes from broccoli and smeared it all over a fake kiwi. 

"Tomato & Grapefruit. That will be better. I like grapefruit candy and I love tomatoes. Mmm... grapefruit candy! This just tastes like grapefruit. ... .... Wait, I think another flavor is coming through... Ugh. This is not what tomatoes taste like. Why? Who did this? Maybe these ones will balance? Nope. I can still taste the bad tomato flavor and it distracts from the grapefruit too much."  So I guess I just expected fresh, delicious, summer tomato flavor. Who knows, maybe that would have worked. What they did instead is that concentrated, tinned tomato juice/v8 tomato flavor.

"Alright, Carrot & Apple. Apples are delicious. Carrots are naturally sweet. Surely they can't have ruined this too. Okay, concentrated apple juice. I can work with that. This is pretty pleasant. Where's the carrot? Hmm.. I think if I really try maybe I get a hint of that dirt flavor carrots can have. But it's a stretch. This is actually pretty good." This is the only good one. Thank goodness there was at least one palatable flavor in the bunch.

The coveted Honey & Butter Kettle Chips. It's finally time. They smell buttery. Amazing crunch. Touch of honey, buttery notes and mouth-feel (how did they do that?). They were not lying when they named these. After a few chips the flavors coalesce and it tastes just like that whipped honey butter you can get at some restaurants with their free yeast rolls. I have to admit that I am disappointed, though. They just aren't balanced. There is something missing, or too much of something. I ate maybe 5 or 6 and then I just couldn't have any more. Ah, well.

The disappointment of something not meeting expectations is tempered by the fact that I've officially tried everything in this box and now I can move on to the next one! Woo!!! There is some great looking stuff yet to come. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lays Flavor Contest 2016

So Lays has really attached themselves to the flavor competition, limited-time chips.

This time they're changing things up and pitting similar flavors against each other.

First up?  Honey BBQ vs. Korean BBQ

These are plain potato chips. The Korean BBQ smells sort of smokey and greasy (in a steak on the grill kind of way). While I love the smell of meat cooking, something about this is unappealing. I do appreciate that the smokiness seems authentic. It doesn't smell or taste like liquid smoke, a flavor I dislike.  Taste-wise, they match up quite well with how they smell. There is a toasted sesame note as well as hints of acidity and sweetness.

The Honey BBQ chips smell like sweet potatoes. Weird. These have that paprika-y orange color I associate with BBQ chips that the Korean BBQ chips lacked.  These taste like BBQ chips. A lot of sweetness, a hit of acidity. I don't buy BBQ chips, so I'm not sure how different they made these taste from the traditional. I feel like they're sweeter and there's a more ketchupy flavor. Fewer spices, maybe? 

Between the two I would choose the Korean BBQ. I don't really like BBQ chips much and the Honey ones are cloying in a way I don't like. That said, I prefer the smell of the Honey BBQ chips - it's less off-putting.

Next?  Fiery Roasted Habanero vs. Flamin' Hot

Habanero is bright orange and the smell perfectly captures that fruity-pepperyness of fresh chile peppers.  The flavor starts off as a continuation of the scent. More fruit/pepper/paprika before it quickly dives right down into just being spicy. The back of my tongue is roasting. I'm not crying, but I can admit that I have the tiniest runny nose now. The flavor before the burn was actually quite nice, but I don't know that I'll eat the rest of these.

In contrast to its analogue, Flamin' Hot are deep red. The color of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. These smell like BBQ chips. They taste like smoked paprika and BBQ. There wasn't much burn until I swallowed, but now my throat is on fire. If they didn't burn so much I think I would buy these.

Winner? Flamin' Hot. I love smoked paprika, I put it on everything. So having a chip that tastes like that is great in my book. I did appreciate that the Habanero didn't just taste like hot, though. 

Smoked Gouda & Chive vs. Cheddar and Sour Cream

So I didn't realize how Lays had arranged things until after my chips were on their way. I only have Smoked Gouda. I assumed that the Cheddar and Sour Cream were an old flavor.  The Smoked Gouda chips have the tangy scent of cheddar and sour cream chips, but there is a hint of onion/chive as well.  Okay, so I don't smell smoke here, but I do taste it. I was expecting this to come across as a loaded baked potato flavor, but it really does taste like a smoked gouda with chives. And again, the smoke flavor isn't the aggressive hot dog flavor of liquid smoke. It's a more subtle, balanced addition. These are delicious.

I can't imagine a Cheddar and Sour Cream chip that could beat the Smoked Gouda. The flavors blend well, I'm not left with an unpleasant aftertaste of onion or liquid smoke, and it tastes like it says it will. Yum.

And the final two, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper vs. Olive Oil & Herbs - both Kettle Cooked

Sea Salt: yep, this smells like salt and cracked pepper. Not as pungent as fresh-cracked, but definitely not ground. Very crunchy, but not as assertive as I expected. I am probably biased since I've been eating my popcorn recently with salt and fresh cracked pepper on top, but the flavors here just aren't are big as I want. I can see salt crystals and chunks of pepper but the taste just isn't coming through. A mild pepper flavor, the salt is almost unnoticeable (if there wasn't enough, I'd notice. I'm glad there's not too much, but for you to list salt as one of the two main flavors and then give me this? Meh.).  These are okay.

Olive Oil and Herbs Kettle Chips smell like thyme and basil, and I love it.  A good, rounded herbal flavor from the basil, thyme, and oregano.. maybe a little thyme-heavy a few chips in. There isn't much in the way of olive oil flavor, really. A light nuttiness? And the garlic/onion powder has a bit too much kick. These are also okay.

Winner? You know, this is a tough one because they are both so mediocre to me. I guess Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper edges out Olive Oil, simply for the fact that I ate more of the Sea Salt without wishing for a drink or something else to taste.

Overall winner?  Smoked Gouda and Chives. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

While I'm talking about different things...

I might as well mention a few other things I've been trying, since I'm off-topic. First, a few German items.

On the left is Kohl-R√∂schen. That means Cabbage sprouts, or blossoms. I googled them and have seen them listed as both Flower Sprouts and Kalettes. They are a crossbreed of Brussels Sprouts and Kale. Honestly, they're quite good. They are milder than Sprouts, and less chewy than any kale I've eaten before. I roasted most of the bag for dinner one night. My husband even ate them, which was quite a surprise. I haven't seen them in the store since I first bought them, but they were not bad.  I did save a few out for a smoothie, since it was mentioned on the bag and online that they worked well for that purpose. I have a terrible cheap blender. It was a bad idea. I ended up with bits of the core/stalk that were not great to chew, and the whole thing had an odd grassy taste that lingered for hours after drinking.

On the right are two new Ritter Sport flavors. In the back is White Yogurt Mousse. It's one of three spring flavors. (Each season RS releases 3 seasonal bars). The other two spring flavors this year are repeats from last year, so I didn't bother with them. Good white chocolate flavor on the bar. The Yogurt Mousse filling was smooth and creamy, not too sweet, and lightly tangy. It balances well. I'm just not really feeling it. I'll have the occasional square, but I wont be sad to see this flavor go as summer gets closer.

The other Ritter Sport bar is Crispy Tortilla Chip. It's a traditional milk chocolate bar with crunchy bits of corn tortilla chip and... like corn nut pieces? (not seasoned, and not branded. I just don't know what else to call them) inside.  I didn't not have high hopes here. And I was extra concerned after buying a tray of nachos at a local theater and realizing with my first bite that the chips were like Doritos instead of being plain tortilla chips. I like Doritos as much as the next person, but the cheese sauce did not jive with the chip seasoning. And I kept hoping that there was no flavor dust on the chip bits in this chocolate. There wasn't! This bar of chocolate was quite good. The crunchy parts are perfectly crunchy and the milk chocolate is brightened by the extra salt. I intended to sample one square (each bar is divided into 9 or 16 squares from the mold), but ended up eating 3 or 4. This isn't going to knock my favorite flavor off its perch (Honey Salt Almond, seriously so good), but I did eat the whole thing and I'm excited to share.

A quick interlude of seasonal M&Ms

I have more Korean snacks to get to, but I want to talk about the seasonal M&Ms I tried recently before they are out of place. So for some marketing reason, the sent out one flavor to Walmart and one flavor to Target. It makes trying them both more difficult, but whatever. My mom gets extra bonus points for going out of her way to get both for me.

First up, Strawberry with Milk Chocolate. These are meant to taste like chocolate-covered strawberries, I think. They are bigger than a regular M&M, but the same size as a lot of their novelty, seasonal flavors (roughly the size of peanut butter M&Ms as well). I wonder why the bigger size? Possibly to make sure you can taste whatever subtler flavors they try to add? So - big, dark shades of pink. A bit of a fake strawberry flavor if you smell the bag. Taste? Well, at first you get the typical milk chocolate M&M flavor. But that is quickly joined by an unpleasant level of artificial strawberry. I tried a few just to see if the flavors balance, and the first taste was just a shock. Nope. Noooooooooope. These are.. not for me. They are somehow flat and overwhelming at the same time.

I had heard these were better, but that couldn't be hard to do after the last bag. So these are Strawberry Shortcake inspired. White, cream, and light pink candy coating over white chocolate with strawberry flavoring. Big, novelty-sized. These are not bad at all. The artificial flavoring is toned down, the smooth sweetness of the white chocolate balances well. They aren't my favorite M&M. I probably wouldn't buy them again - once is enough to satisfy my curiousity - but these are slowly getting eaten. If no one else likes the milk chocolate ones they will end up in the garbage.

Box 1 Part 2

Well, I've been working through more of the Korean snacks in box #1. Ready to hear about them?

Choco and Crispy Rice Snacks. It's in English! So I expected these to be individual pieces of puffed rice, coated in chocolate. I was half right. They are about the size of banana runts (maybe puffier). It's a crescent of what I assume is cooked rice mush (too big to be one grain). The rice is very crunchy and entirely unsweetened. Just toasty rice flavor. The chocolate layer (should I assume that choco means chocolate, or is this like in America where if you don't use the real word it's not 100% legit?) is quite thin, but decently dark. You can taste chocolate, not just sugar. The chocolate doesn't overwhelm the rice, but I found that after the initial bite the flavor disappears pretty quickly.

These are little crackers in cute animal shapes. I wondered if the characters are from a show, or something because the penguin in the helmet seems odd if you're just doing animal crackers. These are quite plain. Like a less buttery Ritz. Good texture, the shapes hold up well (not a bag of crumbs). Not bad at all.

Okay, so I have only tried the chocolate straws at the moment. I'll have to share about strawberry after I buy more milk. These are clear plastic straws filled with tiny (nonpareil-sized) beads of chocolate or strawberry milk flavoring. At the top and the bottom of each straw, the plastic is crimped partially closed, with evenly spaced holes too small for the beads to slip out of. You take the straw out of a plastic bag, stick it into your glass of milk, and suck. As the milk goes through the straw it dissolves the flavoring beads and creates chocolate or strawberry milk.  In theory. It ends up being kind of like the milk in your cereal bowl. Right after you pour, you get maybe a tiny hint of the initial flavor. It takes time for the milk to steep and take on the fruity or chocolaty tones. After the initial pulls proved nearly flavorless, I let the straw sit, occasionally providing just enough suction to fill the straw with milk. Eventually my glass of milk started turning light brown and the chocolate beads had started to dissolve. My straw was less than half full of chocolate sludge when I decided to drink in earnest. 10, 15 minutes? Not impressed. Still a very light chocolate flavor, with the occasional sugary hit of goop making it through the small holes at the top of the straw. To be fair, maybe I used too much milk for the straw (around 200 ml). The directions weren't very clear on ratios, just that you should put the straw in a glass of milk and drink. (Do not cut the straw.) Not too thrilled about the strawberry if it's a repeat of the chocolate, even though I do like strawberry milk on occasion.

Monday, February 01, 2016

A Fresh Start

I've been mulling getting back into this for a while, but I just generally can't be bothered. I didn't do well blogging about my feelings and life, but sometimes I really want to tell people about the food in my life, and so this is happening. Sometimes it'll be recipes I tried - and how they turned out, sometimes food I ate somewhere, and sometimes snack reviews.

The real impetus to my return to the blog is because I just got this huge box stuffed full of Korean snacks from my brother's girlfriend. She got hooked on stroopwafels while she was here visiting him, and agreed to a snack exchange in return for more wafels.

So, it's all Korean snacks for at least a minute.

First up, Pumpkin Taffy. I was hoping for a quick, easy, inoffensive treat. My experience with pumpkin pudding Kit Kats from Japan made me think this was the right choice. First bite: bad idea to bite down hard, these are quite firm at first. They soften well as you chew, attaining a true taffy consistency. I didn't like the first taste I got of the pumpkin. It was too vegetal. As I chewed, though, a sweetness came out that made things more palatable. Final thoughts: very lightly flavored, not bad, not amazing. Glad it wasn't just pumpkin spices, though.

Next, I had some Lobster Wavy Potato Chips with my sandwich. I was worried that these would be very funky and briny - I don't like the taste of the ocean. The actual flavor of the chips is very mild. A little salt, a touch of sugar, maybe something else going on? Almost just a plain potato chip, although occasionally I would open the bag for another chip and I would get a teeny whiff of lobster/crab/shellfishiness. I never tasted that though.

I was very excited for snack cakes. I started with the round ones, because they looked smaller, and also like maybe there was jam inside. First impression - moon pie sized, coated in chocolate like a moon pie, but about half as thick. I took a bite. Hmm.. That's an odd texture. This is very chewy. So chewy. Lightly sweet. Not terrible. But not at all what I was expecting. No jam, by the way. I ate the whole thing. Then I had to google what I could because it was not like any snack cake I'd had before. I finally found it - Glutinous Rice Cake. That explains the texture. I guess I'd be okay to eat another one, but it's not something I think I'll ever crave. Which makes the fact that I have a ton of them.. something. I would feel bad throwing them away, but I don't feel so bad about wasting food that I'd want to commit to finishing the box.

Maybe the rectangle snack cakes will be better (cheesecake?, although the swiss-looking cheese on the box has me concerned). Okay, this one is actual cake. Sweet, bland, maybe a hint of cheesy tang? They're okay. I don't dread the thought of having to eat the rest of them.

Peach chewy candies. These look like Hi-Chews. Chewy, sweet, SO PEACHY! These are quite strong, but I like that. I wonder why some of the snacks are whispers of flavor and these are full volume? No complaints. I do kind of wish she'd sent more flavors, but I'm glad peach made the cut. Mmm.