Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water Cinnamon & Clove

Hello? Is anyone there? I’m sorry that I can’t tweet and post and drum the requirements for scienter in my head all at once. Really. That isn’t some pithy e-card apology, it’s the truth, I miss you guys and I miss my weird eating habits. So, if anyone is there, understand that I almost couldn’t resist posting this before Thanksgiving because it’s so damned weird, so damned pretentious, and so damned delicious that it was a very difficult endeavor. Actually, I was up to my ears in analyzing corporate personhood, so, there’s that. Sorry. A million sorries. Enough sorries that your brain bleeds and starts to see the word sorry in a weird way and doesn’t associate it for what it is anymore. Neurology, amirite?wpid-wp-1417285705530.jpeg Continue reading “Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water Cinnamon & Clove”

Noosa Pumpkin Yoghurt

If I review one pumpkin product in any given year, it will be the best damned one I can find, and at the moment, I have a sample size population of one, because I refuse to bow to the wills of the god of pumpkin spice, Femcanis Basicious. This is Pumpkin Noosa, and it is not for breakfast. Have you ever wanted to lick pumpkin pie batter out of the mixing bowl? Of course you haven’t, you sick freak. God made cakes for that and cakes alone. Well, thanks to Noosa, you can fulfill that perversity in the quiet of your own home and the silent organization of Target’s buying lists. This yogurt is so uncannily resemblant of pie filling in a dessert that it ought to be legally labeled as such, instead of a breakfast food. Field trip to the FDA? Field trip to the FDA? No takers? Man, you guys suck. rsz_dsc_0632 Continue reading “Noosa Pumpkin Yoghurt”

Ofrenda, New York, NY

There are good days and bad days. Good meals and bad ones. Truth be told, I don’t mind when the two intersect. We spent the last weekend in New York and packed a lot into the trip- a film festival, brunch, dancing, and coffee, before heading home. A good trip, but an anxious one, as exams are this week and the next and I’m up to my ears in writing assignments. But it was a good trip. I was hard-pressed to pick a highlight as we were heading home, but my stomach growled otherwise. We’d just finished a meal up at Ofrenda, an excellent new-ish Mexican restaurant in the West Village, and though I was stuffed, I was already looking forward to the leftovers.DSC_6524 Continue reading “Ofrenda, New York, NY”

Taste of the Union: Fall Bites

Womp womp, when was the last time I did one of these awesome round-ups? Probably around the same time Pandora thought it was appropriate to play ‘Hey There Delilah,’ which it’s doing right now. This time, it’s a little different- I have a mix of gluten-free products that I’ll give numerical ratings to, just like my big features, but…smaller. Think of it as the specialty food equivalent of GrubGrade’s First Looks or TIB’s Quick Reviews. Interspersed through this will be some recipes I’ve recently made that I’m particularly proud of.

Applegate Farms Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

I miss McDonald’s. They tweeted me the other day and I didn’t have the heart to tell them how much I loved them and wanted them back. I’ve been pulling up to the local franchise on North Beacon, standing outside with my trusty Sounddock cued up to ‘In Your Eyes.’ The neighbors really didn’t like that, but it’s for love, y’know?
I have also scared The Bedfellow on two occasions when she was eating a McDouble, the first culminating in the screamed repetition of ‘BREEEAAAADDDDDD’ along with an accusatory finger point, and the second was a little more subtle, the silent but ever-powerful ‘Hungry Dog’ look.

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Please note that this also happens with real cupcakes. But I’m getting help. I’m looking for solutions. One of those may or may not be the scarily reasonably-priced chicken nuggets from Applegate Farms. I get them from the Stop and Shop that has all of the gluten-free things, and then go to the Stop and Shop with the wide array of tortillas and better sauces. For a mere $5, I have the power of 16 chicken nuggets. They’re about 75% smaller than Mickey D’s, almost closer to popcorn chicken, and come with a selection of zero dipping sauces, but work out pretty well in the price department.

In fact, they actually remind me of my own homemade nuggets, may their recipe rest in peace. Rest in pie. Ress in pee. I give up, there’s no joke there. They are coated in a mixture of corn starch and rice flour, which could be pretty easy to replicate. I dipped them in hot mustard. Because the breading is somewhat yellowed to begin with, it’s difficult to tell when they are finished. I tested one for quality assurance and found that the breading was somewhat sticky when they were undercooked, but eventually crisped up with no trouble at all. And while I’m happy to flip over the nuggets to ensure maximum crunch, doing so with such delicate breading is frustrating.

Despite the slight fumbles, though, these are an amazing substitute for nuggets or any breaded chicken, if you’re patient and can get the breading very crispy. The chicken is tender and moist, with a thick, crispy coating, heavy on the black pepper. Dipped in hot mustard, there’s nothing better.
Also, because I’m an adult, I ate them on top of my recently paid insurance bills, hashtag classy, like a boss, or comparable bill-paying figure. I’m curious to see how these would be if I fried them, too. Ultimately, it’s something I would buy again. It’s easy to eat a box as a meal when you’re not in the mood to cook.

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Three weeks off gluten, and only one transgression so far. But life isn’t all neatly highlighted casebooks, amaranth flour, and health clubs. There’s the extremely important matter of dessert, which I confess I wasn’t too concerned with until 90% of it was off-limits. It’s gotten to a point where I’m shipping the Cookie Monster hardcore and clicking through the Betty Crocker product page before I go to bed, restless, dissatisfied. 

Speaking of Betty Crocker, she now has a new line of gluten-free desserts that are not only anointed by the gods of Putting Things on Shelves I can reach, but are actually tasty, too. At $4.79 for a box of rice flour and chocolate chips, the thought of paying mid-2008 gas prices for cookies was irritating, but intriguing. The cookies are easy to prepare and even easier to screw up- unless you use a few good tricks.

I read reports of these that were ridiculously varying- from crispy, flat cookies that had to be scraped off the pan to puffy, barely baked dough, so I tried to be preemptive. I didn’t change any of the ingredients, but did chill the dough for about two hours before baking.

Baked, the cookies range in size from penny to pasty, and are soft enough to cover a stripper’s nipple. They’re gorgeous and came out exactly like they did on the box. It seemed that despite the light color on top, the flour cooked much more quickly on the bottom, and didn’t absorb as much butter as regular cookies do. They left the pan greasy– personal injury greasy. I’d advise you use a non-stick pan in addition to butter, though, as they were inexplicably sticky after and were difficult to remove from the pan.
The flavor is extremely buttery. Combined with the very toasty, salty flavor of the rice flour, it almost tastes like a thick, more crumbly pancake, like Bisquick. With milk, the nutty flavor comes out even more, the resulting sips after each dunk tasting like the bottom of a bowl of cereal. I realized later that they reminded me of Rice Chex because they’re effectively made with the same base. They aren’t really viable for dunking. They hold together well enough, but the milk just gets absorbed into the cookie and makes it unpleasantly soggy. All in all, I really liked them. They weren’t spectacular, and they are still really expensive, at approximately 30 cents for a very small cookie, compared to those giant $2 buckets of chocolate chip cookies at the store for about 8 cents a cookie, but are much more pleasant of an alternative than I thought possible.

Dunkin’ Donuts Pretzel Roast Beef and Dijon Sandwich

I hate it when my food tries to attack me. At least, that was my most naïve of misconceptions, when in the past my worries chiefly consisted of angry, snapping lobsters and the omnipresent fear of my steaks coming back to life after being seared for a full 3.5 seconds after death. Now I have to worry about plants. The dumbest of plants in fact – wheat. Now instead of inspecting my steak tartare, I’m cowering at the slightest mention of a goddamned sandwich.

I’m a firm believer in attacking things head-on—internet stalkers, daddy issues, and allergies alike. As a child, I endured test upon test to see if I had a cashew allergy after a breakout of hives while eating lo mein. After the tests, I ate a PB&J. I’m stone-cold tough, natch. So this gluten allergy, or intolerance, or irritability has been getting me down. This is the eighth beef product I’ve eaten this week. And of course, of course it would be that every single fast food establishment near me would start rolling out pretzel buns. Dunkin’ Donuts has started, but it is I who shall finish.
The new Roast Beef and Dijon sandwich is literally perfect. It succeeds on almost every front where Wendy’s new Pretzel Cheeseburger did not—a balance of savory and sweet flavors, plentiful meat, and an exceptional pretzel bun. I mean, look at that wrinkled, delicious bastard. It’s got a top as greasy as a Real Housewives of Jersey audition, and has an immediately sweet, fresh aroma. I had to run an errand before I got home, and as soon as I opened the car door to retrieve my sandwich, the Honda was filled with a bready, slightly salty scent. The sandwich has roast beef, Swiss cheese, and the Dijon spread popular in other sandwiches, most recently, the Cuban sandwich, which this seems to have replaced. The only peeve I could find was that the beef was overcooked and on the chewy side.  

Having had Nick’s of Beverly, I’m more partial to rare deli meat now. But the Dijon had a sweet flavor and surprisingly, neither the meat nor the cheese were too salty. The real star was the pretzel roll. I wouldn’t be surprised if these were from Pretzilla. The rock salt on top absolutely made it, giving each bite a little extra depth and tang, and the roll didn’t shy away from its roots, carrying that iron-heavy, honeyed quintessential flavor. I could eat one of these alone – if the first bite didn’t almost immediately give me a terrible stomachache and knock me out cold for an hour. Damn you, gluten. At least this will be a good treat for the Bedfellow. And for me, vicariously.

Art in the Age Rhubarb [tea]

I’ve been watching a lot of 30 Rock lately and, since this morning, when I witnessed Episode 318, ‘Jackie Jormp-Jomp,” I’ve come to the sobering and ultimately deadening conclusion that this summer has basically been one, long dizzy day in the life of a middle-aged divorcee. If I take one more charming, aimless drive in the middle of the afternoon to the countryside or spend one more hour at the hot tub in the health club or at some coffee shop, I’m going to need to add another therapist to my Fall 2013 lineup. 

I think I’m ready for law school to start.

The most exciting thing I’ve done so far has been my nightly habit of a cocktail, coffee, and languid cruise around Petfinder, where I’ve submitted not one, but four applications for four separate Welsh Corgis who are desperately in need of a home, but, according to their rabid caretakers, not so desperate as to be placed in the carefully decorated one-bedroom apartment of a very well-dressed law student slash Casanova. Even though I asked multiple times, it does not give me any bonus points that I resemble a Welsh Corgi. 

Adopting a dog is more difficult than getting reservations at Jose Andres’ minibar in the summer, when I expected it would be as easy as walking into a Burger King, or at the very least, Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune. So, I’ve stuck to what I’m good at, which is making craft cocktails and coming up with cute names for other pudgy, short-statured creatures. In other news, you can all start calling me ‘Mutton,’ but my fallback is ‘Bark.’ Ladies and gentlemen, Rhubarb, from Art in the Age.

It’s fresh, very herbaceous and verdant in flavor, and was sent to me after I missed their summer launch party, which included fresh doughnuts. Zut! But I’ve made up for that by drinking it with everything, including homemade fresh mozzarella with orange olive oil and fleur de sel…

And sundried tomato orzo with Scarpetta pesto, the aforementioned mozz, mascarpone cheese, and proscuitto. It’s a wonderfully versatile mixer, and in the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with various sweet fruits and syrups: club soda, lingonberry syrup, Q grapefruit, lemon, and orange soda, fresh lime juice, and even Chai tea has gone marvelously with it.

The Foodette (aka, Picture Unrelated)
(Aka, No Internet)
(Aka, Bark)
Ingredients: 2,5 ounces of Rhubarb liquor, 1/2 cup of Q lemon soda, 1/2 cup of club soda, squeeze of lemon
Instructions: Shake Rhubarb over ice, strain, mix soda and lemon in. Drink immediately. Forget to take photos and have another cocktail.

Oreo’s Wonderfilled Campaign

Oreo’s latest ad campaign, Wonderfilled, features a song by a man who literally goes by the name Owl City! That’s the most absurd thing I’ve found out all week, outside of the realization that I am going to have to obtain internet via exposure therapy. Seriously, Starbucks is my ninth level of hell. I hope that’s how he’s billed at Jiffy Lube and how the servers shout his order at Five Guys. Owl City. On the plus side, the hipster swooning that elicits must be insane. In any case, I received the press package for the campaign this week, which contained an Oreo book, and a set of three things to play, learn, and share: an iPod loaded up with the new Owl City song, an Oreo-shaped thumbdrive, and Oreos. I sense a theme!

Having already forced my latest bedfellow (henceforth known as Bedfellow) to read the book with me, which made for an entirely awkward evening, I decided to focus on the song bright and early in the morning, while my ears were at their keenest. The campaign is pretty cute and centers around aggressively tying the abstract concept of ‘wonder’ to America’s favorite cookie. “Wonder can be twisted, licked, dunked, stacked, rolled, crunched, nibbled, and savored,” which makes me wonder (see what I did there?) if I ought to change my name to Wonder. Wonder Watsky has a swell ring to it.

I’m a food critic, but I decided, then and there, that I could also be a music critic. The song is obviously called ‘Wonderfilled,’ not to be confused with ‘Wonderwall,’ or ‘Wonderful’ from Wicked, and starts off ominously, as the only file on the iPod is called ‘OREO WONDERFILLED ANTHEM’ which makes me wonder if I’ve stumbled onto a top-secret plot to take over the world with Oreo cookies. If so, it would totally work. Bitches love Oreos.
But not with this song. Oreo City lays down a thick beat that I immediately want to snort a line of cookie crumbs to, then quickly transitions into some straight-up autotuned jams. There is a story, and the ending leads to roads paved of cookies and cream and triangle-accented syllables. It’s precious. Too precious. I mean, it’s literally the most twee thing I’ve ever set eyes to, and I willingly read Kristin Chenoweth’s entire memoir. I’m not sure that Oreo should have something more saccharine than its cookies advertising them.
Owl Cookie puts a friendly flair on some dour dope fairy tales. I was definitely not aware of the fact that the three little pigs were killed in any non-Oreo related versions of the story, but now that I do, I’m damned glad I have some Oreos to eat away the post-traumatic stress with. Wonderfill my belly! Vampires turn vegetarian, sharks share things and ‘cuddle up with giant squids for a friendly meal’ that apparently consists of nothing but cookies, and I end up dying from diabetic shock from the sheer campiness of the song alone. It’s cute, catchy, and dreadfully unsubstantial.

Now that I’ve wholly established that I’m not going to be the next Ben Brantley, let’s move to an Oreo product I picked up at the grocery store, Oreo Cookies ‘n’ Cream Jell-O Pudding! Full FCC/blogger disclosure: I ate this out of a Tupperware container and I have no regrets, because it’s one of the best Oreo-flavored products on the market.

So many of these lose that iconic flavor, even, in some cases, the Oreos themselves when they’re flavored with berries or sorbet, so it was a real pleasure to dig into this and find that the flavor of the cookies was as bold as ever. The pudding is extremely thick, at least it was when I made it, and features huge chunks of cookies that vary in size, so some are soft and cake-like when you eat the pudding, and others are still crispy.
The flavor is great- the pudding itself doesn’t overshadow the salty, sweet cookies with too much sugar or flavor, despite the huge imbalance in between the ‘crème’ and the cookie component. What I liked best was that it appeared that Kraft only used the wafer part instead of crushing up Oreos with crème inside, which would have certainly upset the balanced flavor.

A great treat, and a fun one for stuffing inside Oreos and mouths.