Vanilla Chex

Monday: Cereal
Tuesday: Cereal
Wednesday: Cereal
Thursday: Cereal
Friday: Cereal, pork tacos
Saturday: Pork
Sunday: Pork

I am writing a brief. (CITE) I am writing a brief and am putting in citations later by denoting them with irritating, obvious marks. (CITE) I have not eaten a substantial meal in about three days. Want to know what’s been keeping me alive? It’s cereal. Specifically, Vanilla Chex. I’m a huge fan of the Chex line, as they’re all gluten-free and taste pretty good. Recently, Chex came out with a vanilla flavor and sent me a few boxes to review.DSC_6541 Continue reading “Vanilla Chex”

Willams-Sonoma Bouchon Bakery Gluten-Free Carrot Muffin Mix

Spam comments are friendly. They’re weird, but they’re friendly. Certainly better than the weird shit I get from real people, ranging from complaints directed to a specific branch of a multinational corporation or disturbingly specific health issues, or personal attacks. Even the one that just said, ‘ass this is my website ass’ entertained me more than the diarrheic diatribe on…diarrhea. They keep me entertained during my long days, especially when I’ve caught up on work and have little to do but bake gluten-free muffins and dance with animatronic birds.

Continue reading “Willams-Sonoma Bouchon Bakery Gluten-Free Carrot Muffin Mix”

Umpqua Oats Super Premium Oatmeal Salted Caramel Meltdown


Do you remember me? I’m just an old writer, I know. But it’s a little different than that. I know I left you back on that wide, dark internet street some fifteen days ago, but…well, I’ve had the tests, I got the paperwork, and I have something very important to tell you. I’m your blogger. I’m the one you imprinted upon early in the morning after you had your nightly Mountain Dew. I’m the one you reached out to when you needed humor and implicit gay shenanigans. I hand-fed you your first bites of truffled popcorn, cheeseburger-flavored pasta, and, well…

I’m back, baby.

And I have a new apartment, a working, reliable internet connection, and new vocabulary under my belt. It’s like they cryogenically froze me for two weeks and uploaded me with information about blown fuses and summary judgment. What could be better than that? I’ll tell you: in my hamlet of West Hartford, close to the home of my new, shiny law school, I come bearing gifts of pretentious oatmeal! This is Umpqua’s Salted Caramel Meltdown, not to be confused with Chocolate Temper Tantrum or Vanilla Sensory Overload that Causes You to Fire Questions at Strangers About Dogs. And what kind they have. And what their names are. And when you can come pet them, instead of answering their inquiry as to what time it was, ten minutes ago.

You look so big! Here, let me feed you some of this oatmeal. Just try it. I know it’s ridiculously flavorless, which likely makes it accessible to a wide audience of Millenials and busy moms, but it’s filling and reliable, too. The chunks of salted caramel and miniscule pecan shards are easy to digest, if lacking in substance, and the whole thing is just one snide ‘on-the-go’ fallacy away from a car accident. It’s yet another rider atop the wheezing, dying salted caramel horse and if it doesn’t go away, I fear the universe may collapse on itself, producing an endless string of punny breakfast foods in trendy flavors for the offspring of the busy people purchasing them for $4.20 plus tip.


If you must play the game, you’ve got to know the rules. This applies to the concept of using hyperbole and trends, in this case. If you’re audacious enough to use the words ‘super,’ ‘premium,’ ‘salted,’ ‘caramel,’ and ‘meltdown,’ in your product’s name, I expect to see all five in spades. The deceased Quaker on the Quaker Oats canister has more flair than this. It’s as bland as its audience and doesn’t even have the fashion sense to boot. Umpqua is yet another follower on this endless bandwagon. Hopefully it will run out of gas sooner rather than later.

Vanilla Activia Greek Yogurt

My life is breaking into small, but manageable pieces. Ihave a host of tiny, infinitesimally asinine issues that somehow, my psyche has been interpreting as huge and life-changing, like the fact that not one, but two pairs of leather pants I’ve purchased on eBay don’t fit correctly in the ankles, or that the candle I bought smells like cheap aftershave and makes my eyes water. The hot water tank in my complex is broken and will be fixed by tomorrow, so I have to own my rank, delicious scents and languish another day without using honey-oatmeal soap, or, horror of horrors, go to the health club to work out and use their shower.

My point is, things are awful. I have too many apartments to choose from in too many beautiful buildings before I start at my first choice of law schools, my Birkenstocks don’t perfectly match my Coach Beekman, and switching from Firefox to Chrome is taking hours with my slow internet. My mother keeps posting passive-aggressive comments on my Facebook statuses! Pandora skips! It keeps playing ‘My Girl!” I look too damned good in men’s tank tops!

At least I’m regular.
And I’m not talking regular like, middle of the adult normalcy spectrum. That ship sailed ages ago, approximately when I outed my interest in CATS the Musical. (‘Sup, Skimbleshanks!?!) No, I’m in a league with celebrities, with cinematic royalty – I’m regular, just like Jamie Lee Curtis.
This, of course, is all thanks to Activia, who may or may not be silently monitoring my credit card expenditures and trips to the grocery store, because they definitely now know how crazy I am about Icelandic and Greek yogurt. They’ve come out with a new variety of Greek Activia in four flavors and sent me a few packs to try. I decided to review vanilla, to get a sense of the changes they’ve made from their regular formula to make it more like the Greek varieties lately.
It’s certainly a tasty yogurt – and its flavor is versatile, with a rich vanilla bean creaminess. I ate it plain. I dumped fresh mango and rosemary sea salt atop it, and that only served to enhance the flavor. I’m planning on trying it in a cheesecake. I found that the texture was far preferable to regular Activia and had less of a cloying, sugary flavor, which I’ve found is all too common in other commercial yogurts. While it’s not up to the finely-crafted level of my beloved Noosa and Siggi’s, it’s definitely the best larger brand yogurt I’ve had so far. I like that the flavors are simplistic – it allows the flavors of the milk and cultures to shine through. 
Also, can we talk about the ad spot? Ms. Freaky Friday is caught cheating on her first digestive regulation lover with an anonymous Greek equivalent, then takes back Lover #1 because he (she?) changes their lineage completely. It’s a classic lesson about romantic intentions- if you love something, let it go, and then change your entire genealogical background to win them back. Your ancestors will understand. 

Noshette: What I’ve Been Eating

The last round of random shots from day-to-day eating had a good response, so I’m going to try it on the weekends and see if it sticks! Lately, some of my favorite food blogs have been falling off the face of the earth, so I’m trying to fill the void with my own content, ha ha.

I’ve been on a brunch kick lately. (Above: bagel, poached egg, chicken sausage patties, jalapeno cream cheese, maple bacon cheese, hot sauce, and maple syrup) People often ask how I eat when I’m not reviewing weird food. The truth is, I’m pretty basic. I stick mainly to meat and yogurt, and tortillas or pasta for shelf-stable carbs. I’m not great at keeping bread around- I can’t eat an entire loaf before it goes bad! I’m also without a microwave, so that somewhat limits the choices for what I can cook.

My favorite thing to do is to make a large quantity of meat and eat it throughout the week. This is shredded pork tenderloin with labne cheese, Valencia hot sauce, and raspberries in tacos.

Then, I just eat it in whatever I please. Sirloin tacos with guacamole, Yancey’s peppadew cheese, and jalapenos becomes…

Marinated steak chunks in cheddar grits with poached egg.

This was another favorite that I snacked on for a few days. My dad came up last weekend to help me run errands and we had wasabi orzo with mustard and brown butter grilled chicken. Perfect with the Vouvray- had it not been corked!

More brunch delicacies, buttermilk doughnuts from the new doughnut shop in town, Glazed Doughnuts. Maple buttermilk and Chai tea. 

Finally, my latest and greatest favorite appetizer, sriracha roasted chickpeas! They get very, very crispy and are poppable and crunchy like popcorn. I hope you liked this peek ‘behind the scenes’ of Foodette!

Smari Blueberry Icelandic Yogurt

Lo and behold, like the transformation of a boy to a man, or a man to a Transformer, my refrigerator has grown the hell up. The moment another live, human being stepped over the threshold of my smelly apartment and asked for a snack, I suddenly grew a pair- of avocados, that is. And duck thighs, and whole-grain mustard, and fresh steak, and smoked gouda. I now have a fridge that a normal adult would be proud of. Foodette is back, and she came with condiments. One of my new favorite things is yogurt. I realize that most of the adult world discovered this as soon as they entered college, but blame my developmental disability and quirky childlike whimsy, please. And now I have sixteen kinds of yogurt! The latest and greatest variety is Smari, an organic Icelandic yogurt made by sassy cows from Wisconsin.  (Angie looks like Amanda Seyfried!!)

Smari is twee in the best possible way. It’s a crash course in excellent marketing, graphic design, and quality control. I’m enamored with the bold linear label design, more approachable than Siggi’s Hieronymous Bock imitations and sleeker than Chobani. The slogan- “the brave yogurt of Iceland!” is adorable, as is their horn-hatted spoon logo. And each cup has four cups of milk. We’re coming out on top already, which, of course means the expectations are even higher for the product inside.

Smari does not disappoint. With 130 calories and a whopping 17 grams of protein per cup, it’s my new favorite way to start the morning or end the day- whenever I feel like I need the most energy. Of the four flavors Smari sent over, blueberry was my favorite. It has a rich, jammy flavor with a natural sweetness that the high acidity of the yogurt brings out marvelously.
The milkiness is concentrated in this particular brand- perhaps a little too much, as the flavor eventually starts to taste very rich and cheesy after a few bites, more like sour cream with some blueberries thrown in than yogurt. I am curious to try this in a miniature cheesecake, as its flavor packs quite a powerful punch. Flavor-wise, Noosa is still preferential, but this has a better all-around package.

Brunch at Murray’s Cheese Bar, New York, NY

I’ve mentioned before that brunch is a big affair for me. Welp, now that baby has her first real job, plus school and various assorted debauchery, anytime is brunch time, provided I’ve ten minutes, a handful of dry cereal, and a hardboiled egg. But you know that doesn’t really cut it. I need real brunch, with real forks, real hipsters, and real food, damn it, and as luck would have it, Murray’s Cheese, a New York epicurean staple, introduced their weekend brunch and invited me over for a taste. Finally, brunch I could schedule in and prepare for! Over a springy Sunday morning, I sampled cheese-filled treats aplenty.

It doesn’t get much better than starting with bellinis…unless said bellinis are lychee and black cherry-flavored. Lychee fared better, the yeastiness of the Processo mingled nicely with the floral notes. Black cherry was delicious, but the fruity flavor was omnipresent and pushed out the more delicate flavors of the wine.

As we were guests of Murray’s, I shot them a quick email before I came over- simple in premise, but direct: “What should we get?” Their response met mine with a succinct, “As much as you can.” And holy cheese, were they right. We got a phenomenal spread of food, its versatility proving Murray’s deft hands with delicious cheese. We started with a cheese plate, arguably the best of the selection, though I’m biased just coming from a life of cheese plates in Paris.

 Each order of the cheesemonger’s selection comes with the cheesemonger, carefully pointing out and describing her selections and pairings with both housemade and artisanally produced condiments. We asked for the strangest and funkiest, and we definitely got it, starting with the Hudson Flower, cave-aged at Murray’s courtesy of the Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. with a blend of lemongrass, juniper berry, cracked black pepper, and paprika. This was paired with a housemade rose tea petal jam, and was my personal favorite of the bunch. Floral, spicy, and, as the cheesemonger said, “I feel so girly whenever I eat it!” Me too. Kinda.
The next was a Beaufort d’Ete, transporting me straight back to France with its creamy, eggy, pungent flavors and a crumbly, honeyed sweet edge. Man, was this nostalgic. They paired it with pickled spicy carrots whose lingering spice deftly cut the richness of the cheese. It was better with the wild boar soprasetta than the delicate shavings of proscuitto as the former helped coax out those spicy notes even more. We finished with a perfect Fourme d’Ambert, yet another tug at the old heartstrings for me. This had a funky, pervasive sea salt and musk to the core, with an aggressively stingy bite, just pure chalk, salt, and cream. Paired with the delicate, although strangely solid white sea salt honey and prosciutto, it was something I could have eaten by the pound.

After the cheese plate, we started in on the brunch menu. We wanted an even divide of sweet and savory, so we decided to start with the Illegal Doughnut, two thick slices of Pullman’s bread stuffed with cream cheese, bacon, and fried with a creme brulee crunch. Delicious, and certainly rich, as it was over three inches of fried, creamy goodness on a plate, but I wished the cream cheese filling had been seasoned or spiced in some way, or at least whipped to cut the sheer density of the plate. In this case, it seemed as though a block of cream cheese had been placed in between the bread, which is all well and good, but at a place that specializes in cheese, cream cheese should not go ignored.

Our other large plate was the Alpine Eggs, described as the “fondue of eggs” by both our server and the PR team. These were monstrous in size and flavor- two pillowy English muffin halves with ham, grilled mushrooms (B generously ate the ‘shrooms off mine) and a perfectly poached egg on top to be drizzled with what seemed like an endless pot of tangy, smooth cheese sauce. Everything worked well in this dish, and I happily scraped the plate and dipped anything I could in the sauce- a fork, crackers, my pinky finger, though I did find myself craving a little spice to counter some of those creamy flavors.
Surprisingly, the two sides we ordered made more than a complete meal themselves, and actually ended up being our favorites. Murray’s, please know that I could eat those grits ad nauseum. I would cook them and never, ever leave the house, so creamy and infused with cheese they were.  The Tickler cheddar was sharp and savory, and melted so well that long after the dish had cooled down, the cheese was still gooey and yielding with each bite. I prolonged our brunch by at least an extra fifteen minutes just so I could nibble on this. With the scrapple, it was likely one of the best brunch meals I’ve had in the last year.

Ohhh, the scrapple. My discreet notes to myself, scribbled on both my phone, and, after its untimely battery death, my hand, best sum up my feelings toward it: “Holy damn, scrapple, you crazy.” Crazy indeed- tender, with every last edge crispy and crunchy. Murray’s is off to a great beginning. Their individual items need tweaking, but it’s a solid start to what I imagine will be a stunning final menu. We left stuffed with leftovers in hand and decided it wouldn’t have been so awful to fall onto the subway tracks and die afterward. There’s no shame in being star-crossed brunch lovers.

(FTC Disclosure: Murray’s generously comped our cheese plate and invited us in to what was likely the very last two-top in a ten-mile radius on such a beautiful spring day. Seriously, everyone in the tri-state area was brunching that day, so muchos gracias.)

Noosa Passionfruit Yoghurt

Now that I’m back home, my grocery shopping has been a little…weird. Weird is a good word, hazy is another. I’ll get out of the car, walk in the automatic doors of Stop and Shop, blink slowly, and suddenly look down, realizing I now have not one, but two carts. One is empty. The other cart has a jug of apple cider, frozen potato appetizers, and hair ties, all on clearance, in the baby seat. But I trust my judgment, so off I trudge.
This new frugality leads to both fun and despair later on in the week when I’m actually using the Ingredients Formerly Known as Chopped in my real, day-to-day life. I find myself making substitutes that negate my smug grin after leaving the store. “A dollar for all of those broken lasagna sheets? Watsky, you’re a genius, I swear.” But then pasta with tomato sauce turns into lasagna shards with hot sauce and condensed soup and I realize that things like hot pizza and chicken breasts are what the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs envied. (My sincerest apologies, Mr. Nabokov.) And I turn, in despair, to specialty foods once more.

This was one of the nicer things I picked up in my shopping haze, wholly moving forward with the intent of becoming one of those people who eats yoghurt for breakfast and decorates their home with old records and paintings by local artists whose work they “picked up” at an open studio in an abandoned warehouse. I will not let yuppies die, damn it. Noosa is Greek-style, Australian-inspired yoghurt made in Colorado, so it’s the cultural equivalent of those kids in your elementary school whose parents had sent them off to the first grade trilingual and fluent in karate. It’s intimidating and polished, despite its perpetually misspelled progressive name.
Noosa is delicious- finely crafted, rich, with the perfect balance between creamy and sweet and huge chunks of passionfruit. Were it not for the fact that it’s a visual trainwreck, it would blow the competition behind. Unfortunately, it’s the edible equivalent of the film Hostel. It literally plays tricks with your mind when something tastes like a fresh pannacotta and looks like the runny scrambled eggs you’d find at a complimentary hotel buffet. Even after mixing, it curdles, and the chunks on the surface never fully incorporate into the rest of the yoghurt. I want to buy Noosa again, but it’s the kind of thing that I only feel comfortable eating by myself, over the sink, alone.

Red Velvet Pop Tarts

Bless me, France, for I have sinned.

I have left mopeds for mad bus clogs, and subway musicians for homeless men who smell like pee. And now, I have committed the biggest cultural sin of all, trading fresh, warm croissants and baguettes for Pop Tarts.

And I regret not a thing.

Why? Because Red Velvet Pop Tarts, that’s why. Red Velvet, the Snooki of cake flavors, has finally paired with this timeless stoner classic. Okay, not that I’m happy that I left gay “Paree” and all of its glamour, but my departure was timed impeccably. Apparently, I was wandering around the grocery store at the right time of night, because the Portal to Slumping Back into American Habits opened and out popped these gems, along with “scratching the place where balls are in the boxers you sleep in” and “drinking milk out of the carton” and “unabashedly ogling people wearing yoga pants in 0 degree weather.” So this was my reward, and damn, was it sweet.

According to the never-ending and meticulously maintained archives of the internet, coupon hoarding websites tell me that these are new Pop Tarts, approximately 4 days old, or 65 years old in internet years. I need to encapsulate their novelty and review them before they are officially old news! The ‘tarts are red velvet cake shelled with a cream cheese frosting, cream cheese glaze, and sprinkles, because sprinkles improve everything.

Surprisingly, they are actually good and taste like their namesake. Albeit, you’re not going to find a distinct resemblance to Aunt Sarah’s homemade from scratch, vinegar in the batter red velvet cake with mounds of frosting, but these will definitely save you the time and labor you would normally take in making a red velvet cake from a box. They have that raw flour, not-sweet cake batter flavor that I personally adore, and the filling adds a touch of sweetness and a little creaminess, too. Warm, they fared somewhat less successful and tasted like pancake batter, probably because all the frosting evaporated out.  


Food Fun in Frankfurt, Germany

I spent a few days (okay, about 40 hours) in Frankfurt, Germany, earlier this week. Like my June trip to Seattle, I tried to fit as much as I possibly could into a very short amount of time. I arrived at 6AM Tuesday morning, and spent my first morning acclimating myself with the streets and practicing my esszet (ß) to the chagrin of the people around me.
The first stop on my list was the Kaisermarkthalle, a large daily indoor market with meat, fish, cheese, and specialty food vendors. The Kaisermarkthalle is very pretty and open, with large windows to let the sun shine in. I picked up my first meal in Germany here, as well as some gifts for friends and family before heading off on my walk.

This is mett, a traditional pork tartare sandwich. I watched the quiet woman grind the pork in front of me- curly, creamy-white pieces of fat shaved on pink meat, packed with sweet, juicy pieces of onion atop a freshly baked bun slathered with mustard. Yes, it’s raw pork. No, I didn’t get sick, although in retrospect, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to eat on an empty stomach at 8AM, but you live and learn, right? What was really amazing, though, was the apple juice, or burg apfelsaft, I had with the sandwich. This was the premier cru, single-origin, artisanal apple juice of my dreams. It blew fresh cider out of the water with a clean, crisp, very concentrated apple flavor, like sticking a straw in a Golden Delicious. I figured it would be a good introduction to another Frankfurt specialty, apfelwein, which I definitely didn’t want to start drinking so early on!

There were plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and even a few flower vendors.

On my way back, I stumbled across the Christmas market, a famed favorite in Frankfurt. Plenty of vendors, from handcrafted ornament sellers to pretty young girls hawking griebenbrot, (fat-smeared bread with crisp onions) a winning combination if I’ve ever seen one, there’s always something fun to find and see. I walked by when they were preparing their wares for the day. The temptation for fresh, hot currywurst was hindered only by the rain trickling down from the sky.

Back near my hostel, (I swear I didn’t plan this) another small farmer’s market was setting up for the lunchtime crowd- financiers from the Deutschebank across the street and hungry travelers popping out of the Metro. After getting lost and briefly ending up in the red light district of the city, I was ready for a little lunch. Look at the above photo and see if you can guess what I ordered!

That’s right, smoked wild boar sausage with spicy, sinus-clearing fresh mustard on a buttered bun. Perfection. It was snappy and had just the right amount of fat. It was heavily smoked and seasoned, so I’m not sure that I’d be able to tell identify its swinely origins in a blind test. Regardless, on a chilly day, it was exactly what I needed. Paired with a glass of crisp Riesling to cut the rich flavor, it beat a sit-down restaurant meal hands down.

Dinner that night (and the night after) was delicious pasta, courtesy of the free pasta party at the hostel. I wasn’t very adventurous the next day, as I had a few important things to get done, so I ate a quick breakfast and went on my way.

However, later on that day, I was in the business district of Frankfurt and walked by a currywurst stand I’d seen reviews of online. That stand was Best Worscht in Town, a sharp, varied stand with sauces and spices atop various links of meat, not to mention some of the friendliest service I’ve ever seen. A casual inquiry into t-shirts had the young waiter nearly tugging the shirt off his back to give me after seeing that they were out of clean ones. I didn’t take the shirt, but I did order a hot plate of the currywurst of the month. Luck had it that it was a speculoos-infused currywurst, with speculoos cookie paste mixed into the curry sauce and spicy cookie crumbs on top. This was incredible, and probably one of the best meals I’ve eaten in Europe so far. The sausage was crispy and robustly spicy on its own. When doused with the sauce and seasoning, bracingly intense in flavor, it was utterly blissful. The perfect way to bid Frankfurt goodbye- until next time, that is!