Frontera Limited Edition Farmers Market Salsa

I could live off of salsa and chips in the same way that Miss Love could eat nothing but pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. Many a dinner has gone by where I’ve sat, bag of Tostitos and jar by my side, all gone an hour later. That being said, that’s one of my biggest trepidations about moving to Paris this August. Yes, all the TMZ rumors you’ve heard are true, your faithful critic is shipping off to Gay Paree for six months to study abroad. But for the life of me, I don’t know where I’m going to get my fix of Mexican food. I know that any Southern readers are likely scoffing incredulously. We do have good Mexican food up here, though, I swear! It’s right near our cowboy hat emporiums and famed barbecue joints, too.

Luckily, I can order Rick Bayless’s Farmers Market (Farmers’ Market?) salsa online while I’m away. Sure, the shipping charge may deter some aficionados, but not this guy. The flavors alone are enough to keep me coming back time and time again. In October, I gushed over the Chipotle Pumpkin salsa and now I’ve got a jar of the Heirloom Tomato for my own. Well, half a jar, now. I could tell you how gorgeous the juxtaposition of the rich, maroon salsa was against the rustic label design and blab about the huge chunks of smoky tomatoes and roasted onions, but again. Half a jar. I think that hammers the point home that I loved this salsa.

Lately, I’ve discovered that although my bloggy tendencies and tastebuds love weird sauce and salsa flavors, thank you very much, in terms of a daily grazing delight, it doesn’t get much better than a classic salsa. This is an upscale version of the flavors you’ve known and loved for years- tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and a healthy shake of cumin. No rocket science here, but it melds together impeccably with a thick, cohesive texture more akin to a simmered sauce than a chip dip. The one switch that brings this from salsa to stardom is the addition of habanero and serrano peppers as backup singers for the jalapeno. The result is a clean, sweet bite with a tangy flavor and lingering heat that seeps into all of the vegetable pieces. Deelish, although a bit more tang and heat would make this near perfect. This might be the saving grace to French cafeteria food, non?

Philadelphia Kraft Indulgence: Milk, White, and Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese

Happy Kosovo Independence Day! Now, let’s bang! What’s the matter? You don’t find that sexy? I find it very sexy. There’s nothing sexier, in fact, than a country adopting independence and separating from Serbia. I know you would have rather sampled this on February 14th, baby, Valentine’s Day, but…well, it wasn’t out then. Luckily, Philadelphia Kraft Indulgence in Milk, Dark, and White Chocolate will be available all year round, so now I guess I can plan for Valentine’s Day in 2013. Planning ahead is very sexy, right?
Regardless of when you’re eating this, it’s quite the delicious combination. Kraft has been churning out new versions of its brands lately with wonderful gusto. I appreciate seeing new things like this in stores. While chocolate and cream cheese is a much-loved dessert combination I don’t think I’ve seen it presented as a ready-to-eat spread before. Kraft sent over these three tubs for me to try this morning, so I ate them with my morning bagel.
The distinction in between the three varieties is strong- there’s a distinct dark flavor in the dark chocolate similar to the Hershey Dark chocolate bar. It’s not terribly nuanced and has a slightly grainy feel, but has a bittersweet, caramel-esque flavor with plenty of brown sugar and cocoa. Quite tasty, though a little too sweet for my taste, especially early in the morning, and with a gumminess similar to thick pudding, and it didn’t really remind me of cream cheese as much as it reminded me of canned frosting with a little more heft.
The milk chocolate was definitely my favorite of the trio- it was very tangy and carried the natural flavor of the cream cheese the best while still imparting a pleasant, if generic, chocolatey flavor. It was very meltable and easy to eat an entire spoonful of, though I don’t recommend doing so. The white chocolate was the real dark horse of the bunch. I don’t think I’ve seen a white chocolate flavored spread before. White chocolate had the most gummy texture and chewiness. It was hard to melt atop a bagel, but was delightful to dip things in and had a tanginess similar to the milk chocolate, but a milkier flavor kissed with sweetness. This flavor showcased the flavor of Philadelphia cream cheese the best, but didn’t really evoke white chocolate right off the bat.
Overall, these are definitely a fun way to enjoy breakfast, and have approximately half the fat and half the calories of Nutella. And while they have a nice, well-defined chocolate flavor, they’re just laden with sugar. Half a bagel’s worth, roughly two tablespoons, has 11-12 grams of sugar. Eat a whole bagel with this and you’re consuming a candy bar’s worth of sugar before you even start the morning. Personally, I found them a little too sweet as I’m not used to such a sugary assault so early in the day, but I’m guessing these will be well-liked by both breakfast lovers and chocoholics alike.

Frontera Limited Edition Chipotle Pumpkin Salsa

As I’ve mentioned, I’m moderately obsessed with the chill of autumn. Now that it’s getting to be time for gloves and huddling, though, I’m finding out, as I do every year, that I’m only obsessed with the idea of looking moody and lost in thought in the chill of autumn. After that one perfect profile picture is snapped, I’m cursing and looking for the nearest shower to warm up in.

I needed a snack tonight and found myself longing for the salsa and chip appetizer generally accompanying warm, summer nights out in the yard. And then I remembered this crazy salsa we had in the back of the fridge. I grabbed this at a time, mid-July, at the Fancy Food Show when eating it seemed a little blasphemous with all the green and red salsas lying around. But I’m good enough at planning ahead that when I see freaking pumpkin chipotle salsa, I know that come October, I’m going to be nomming for eight because it’s so good. And this was a Rick Bayless creation that seamlessly bridges the gap between summer and fall, a man whose takes on Mexican have been salivated over many an afternoon in Whole Foods. I met chef Bayless, strongarmed a jar of this, and waited four months to write about it. That’s dedication.
You’ll notice this jar is propped up like a taxidermied Anne Geddes baby. I don’t give a crap. Inside that jar, which, mind you, is clearly the more boss of seasonal flavors- eff you, heirloom tomato, is a smoky, sweet combination of chunks of peppers, tomatoes, and pumpkins bathed in a perfectly executed chipotle sauce. Chipotle is incredibly overrated, but when paired well, it’s transcendental. And this is paired very, very well. It’s not so much a smoky flavor as it is charred, with bits of blackened pepper and tomato skin floating around in the sauce, giving it a deep, rich flavor and an intensely smoked bite. At first, there’s no heat, and I didn’t expect there to be with all of the pumpkin spices, like nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar, giving it a rounded, sweet potato-like flavor, but after a few bites, a lingering heat emerged and persisted for quite some time.
Like some of the other pumpkin products I’ve sampled, this manifested its fall colors in the spices it used rather than the ingredients, despite there being actual pumpkin in this. I’ve come to realize that that’s a boon rather than a bust, because the texture of pumpkin could upset the balance of a salsa with its heavy, wet mouthfeel and is pretty flavorless on its own. Though admittedly, a little thickness couldn’t hurt. This separates very easily, even after thoroughly shaking in the jar. If watery salsa annoys you, these are not the droids you’re looking for. With such an emphasis on utilizing pumpkin, this had the thin consistency of a heavily tomatillo based salsa, which it was. It wasn’t very enhanced by the gourd at all.
It’s worth noting, however, that Bayless not only used pumpkin in his salsa, a feat unto itself, but used a special Mexican variety of pumpkin called the calabaza. It’s part melon, part gourd. You know it as the plant that produces the popular squash blossom. It’s still a pumpkin. Don’t say the guy didn’t try. The only element this is missing is the crunch of toasted pepitas on top, an easy hack that will turn this into the perfect fall appetizer. I can’t wait to try this as a heated sauce over pasta or on top of pulled chicken tacos.

The Suburban, Branford, CT

Never before have I visited such a grossly overestimated restaurant. How odd to find a place that is resting on its laurels one week after being reviewed in the New York Times. In their fawning October 2010 praise-fest of Arturo Franco-Camacho’s third lackluster attempt at an eatery, The Suburban in Branford, CT, Connecticut Magazine bills it as “extraordinary,” where the “genius” is in the details. Unfortunately, I’m going to take a note from the misquoted Mies van der Rohe and say that the devil, and not the genius, is in the details instead. A recent visit to The Suburban proved this to be correct when my dining companion and I encountered an abundance of smarminess and a dearth of creativity.

The Suburban starts with deception, serves up deception, and ends with a big, fat load of deception on your plate. The sample daily menu is what friends of the franchise in obviously high places and deluded Roomba diehards call unique and inspired, but it is unfortunately a come-hither concealing a rather dull actual daily menu. The sample menu on the site looked fantastic and varied with small plates like Moroccan shrimp with feta, fennel, and orange segments, and blueberry ginger duck breast with brioche corn pudding serving as large plates. My only original trepidation was that with a large array of food spanning multiple continents, plus two other restaurant ventures on the way, the Franco-Camachos would be spreading themselves too thinly.
It turns out that the “daily” menu is simply a matter of cutting corners by pairing dull, typical proteins with dull, typical sauces. After being seated away from the strangely bisected bar area, which looks reminiscent of an old-timey candy store, and in the wood-paneled hipster hall, we were seated near a creepy Duggar family-esque “communal” table, the room’s focal point. We were given menus and a clothespin reminiscent of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry keepsake. This is no Thomas Keller establishment. It is a common experience to go to a restaurant and be satisfied, though not wowed by the dishes. It is regrettable to go to a restaurant that prides itself on its innovation and find the small plates and large plates so damningly boring that you have no inclination to order them and prefer to vapidly nosh on side dishes. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we did. The $26 charcuterie and cheese plate was out of the question, as we had no desire to pay that kind of money and risk receiving skimpy portions of meat and cheese, none of which were prepared in-house. We shared an order of three “snacks” for $16: Deviled eggs with olive and fig tapenade, Catalan gazpacho with lobster croutons, and chicken liver mousse with a raspberry and parsley gastrique, plus a side of pommes frites, just for the hell of it. We also ordered two of their specialty cocktails of the evening, a pineapple mint mojito and a strawberry chile margarita.
The wine list is unreasonably off the charts. For starters, their glass prices are incredibly high, with $9 for a glass of 2009 Gazela vinho verde, a wine that can be bought in stores for $11 per bottle. Here, it is $30. Even in trendy New York establishments, I can’t think of a time when I was charged a restaurant markup of over 45% for wine, and good wine at that. So $10 for cocktails seemed like the better route, though not ideal. My cocktail was visually appealing, and touted as containing strawberry puree, Cointreau, silver tequila, and fresh jalapenos. I opted against a salt rim as I did not want the savory flavors to be too overwhelming. However, there was no trace of jalapenos in either a physical or flavorful form, and the strawberry puree was a mere afterthought on the back of my palate. All I tasted was my least favorite part of a cocktail- alcohol. Yogurty, thick, burning tequila and not much else. The drink was bitter and needed sugar, agave nectar, anything to save it from pure boredom. I stopped drinking halfway through because I was buzzed and tired of its one-noted flavor.
My companion’s drink was far tastier, with little nibbler-sized chunks of fresh pineapple suspended in the clear drink. It was palatable and fruity, with distinct ginger and mint flavors thanks to the quality of Foxon Park’s damned good ginger ale, and the flavors were cohesive and well-paired. The only problem was that this seemed to be a completely virgin drink. She experienced no alcohol buzz compared to my loud, brutish one, and found it a little strange that the flavors completely concealed the rum, leading us to wonder if there was more than a thimble full of alcohol in it at all.
Our server came by multiple times to repeatedly ask us, like an automated phone operator, if we wanted more than just snacks. She begrudgingly brought us delicious steaming popovers in a basket after we asked, but did not set the basket down and instead served us two and walked away. I felt as though if I’d asked for more, I’d have been reproached like a child. Instead, I savored mine, a fluffy, crispy delight resembling an edible balloon. Served with butter conservatively dusted with crunchy crystals of Hawaiian pink salt, I’d have been happy to eat this all night. These are complimentary, but handed out more conservatively than food in the Great Depression breadlines.

Our first two snacks came to the table in a beautiful presentation that delicately danced the line between rustic and fancy. The chicken liver mousse, served in a miniature mason jar, with a clear stripe of raspberry parsley gastrique on top, was the best of our selections. The raspberry compote provided a fresh and jammy contrast to the rich flavor of the mousse below. The mousse was plentiful, leaving about half the container’s worth after the bread was consumed. We had to ask for more bread to finish it.

However, the deviled eggs were pretty disappointing. In the aforementioned Connecticut Magazine article, I was looking forward to the “twinning” of flavors in deviled eggs served two ways, but I found that these eggs were both prepared the same way, with the filling dominated by a spicy mustard flavor and dotted with tiny kalamata olive specks. They were good deviled eggs, but this preparation was significantly dumbed-down from what was lauded in that and several other reviews. With this in mind, the eggs came across as sassless, neutered bites. A mere hint of olive was left at the end of the egg, and the fig had since fled the restaurant to seek greener pastures at Le Petit Cafe down the street.

After the mousse and eggs were brought out, the gazpacho was presented in a container resembling the top half of a martini glass set in a dish of ice. The presentation looked more appropriate for caviar, and came across a little twee for gazpacho. The soup was topped with microgreens and small chunks of lobster. No idea where the croutons came in. The soup was made well with a smooth flavor but was wholly unremarkable in any aspect other than its splashy presentation.
Our server came back bearing French fries and again asked us if we were interested in rethinking our position on small and large plates. Jesus, it was more complicated than buying a timeshare. No, we were not interested. She put down our fries in a huff and scooted out. Pommes frites were made to counteract the fatty richness of a steak or protein with a pillowy, starchy carbohydrate. Five dollars gets you a small bucket of conventional, thin French fries and two housemade condiments. The fries were stacked precariously high, like edible Jenga blocks, and inevitably fell on the table when I tried to release them from their greasy prison. I was unimpressed, as these fries looked like the smaller clone of those at Local Burger, which are tastier and come in three times the quantity for half the price. The condiments were piquant and unique, with a ketchup similar to Sir Kensington’s and a tasty, herbed malt vinegar mayonnaise. These were tasty, but served up in shot glasses with the ounces marked clearly. The condiments did not go above the one ounce mark, which looked rationed and cheap.
At this point, I should mention that our server had completely given up on us. This forfeit, coming from someone who forgot the word for plantains while dutifully intoning the nightly special, was pretty ballsy. The remainder of the dinner was spent trying to usher us out as quickly as possible, asking two more times if we wanted entrees despite our obvious irritation and refusal, and going as far as to give us our check while we were still eating after we had mentioned wanting dessert. This was unacceptable and rude, and if she was trained to rush dissatisfied customers out to make room for those who care to go whole hog, clearly The Suburban is relying on the good graces of those who are susceptible to pretension.
There are plenty of restaurants where I am happy to spend upwards of $200 with a generous tip, because their food is sublime and their service impeccable. I had hoped that The Suburban would become part of that list, but no such luck. I feel that, with the unprofessional service, poor attention to detail, tense environment, and lackluster menu here, it would be akin to going back to an abusive partner again and again and being continually disappointed and upset with what they had to offer. In spite of their high ratings from multiple reputable news agencies, I observed that the staff at The Suburban were rude and unaccommodating to other customers and didn’t seem to be able to fill many seats. If I were to go here again and drop my hard-earned money, it would be only my own fault for succumbing to their smoke and mirrors again.

UPDATE 9/16: The Suburban is CLOSED! Long live G-Zen!

The Suburban on Urbanspoon

Special Happy Lucky Bonus Mi Tierra Salsa Verde Master Race Gloat

This post is mainly for the three people I’ve told on multiple occasions while driving past Mi Tierra on Route 9, “Someday I’m going to go in there with a squeeze bottle and ask them to put their salsa verde in it.” And I haven’t, and it’s 100% because I was embarrassed to do it while in the company of someone who respected me, or at one point, respected me prior to reading this tell-all article.

Hell yes. Opportunity struck and I was left with a car and a chunk of free time between Amherst and Northampton. I originally just planned to stop at the Walmarts and get a new brand of poop-inspired frosting, but then, brilliance struck and I took the plunge.

They were confused but amused by my gringa request and filled my bottle for a mere $2. I tipped 150% because I WAS SO FUCKING EXCITED. It was better than peeing on their carpet.
I’ve waxed upon this before, but I swear upon Hilary Swank’s muscular, tanned body in Million Dollar Baby that this is the best salsa I have ever consumed. If you know of a better one, don’t tell me because I honestly don’t give a fuck. This is the best salsa. My next step is the recipe. I have no idea what’s in it because if I give an inkling of thought to the notion of a recipe, I will spend upwards of $100 and useless kitchen supplies attempting to and failing to recreate it.

It’s the best.
I ate it for dinner tonight with homemade tortilla chips and it recreated the joy filled, orgasmic experience of eating at Mi Tierra coupled with the eventual downfall and sadness of realizing I was eating the chips for dinner and was not going to enjoy a hot entree within the next ten minutes. So then I squirted more salsa into my mouth and I was happy.
The eventual left side upwards trend of salsa is from my fingers. When I finish this bottle, I will be back for more. That shot glass wasn’t just for show. I downed that sucker when I ran out of chips. Yes, I signed away my dignity and clean shirts a long time ago. Feels so fucking good.

Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco and Chipotle Wedges

I know the fad has come and gone, but I don’t know if any product has irritated me so much as 100 Calorie Packs. All of a sudden, there were eight hundred varieties of my favorite snacks in twee miniature sizes with twice the packaging. Terribly annoying, as I now had a reason to diet and still eat my favorite foods.

So I’ve never really been into foods whose only redeeming factor lies in touting their number of calories. With 100 calories being the proverbial price point for most people to snack on, there isn’t a whole lot of indulgence your caloric budget can buy. But I’ve always loved Laughing Cow products. And with regular Laughing Cow wedges weighing in at fifty calories, I was skeptical to try ones that were even less- 35 calories a wedge. Could I create a 100 calorie snack that was both practical and satisfying?Four Ritz crackers have 64 calories, and one wedge of cheese is 35, clocking in at 99 calories. Perfect. Spreading this cheese, I was impressed with how creamy and soft it was. It had a slightly creepy pink tinge to it, like salmon paste or Pepto Bismal, but I wasn’t too worried. The flavor was amazing- for 35 calories, this rivaled queso I’ve had in restaurants. I’d be curious to see how this would work in a warm dip. Although calling it queso fresco might be a stretch, it was certainly tangy and creamy, with none of the chalkiness that comes from low caloric dairy-based foods. It was like listening to the melodic stylings of Journey and preferring the renditions by my roommate, Aggie- completely unexpected.The chipotle was present not in a burn, but in a subtle spiciness and intensely smoked flavor more like paprika than pepper, but I was pleased that it was still there. It was absolutely delicious on plain crackers and seems versatile. I appreciate the effort of Laughing Cow to go out on a limb and create interesting flavors, and I can see myself using this on bagels, homemade pizzas, and more. I’m pumped and under the crushing regime of 100 Calorie Packs no longer, because I am free!

Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca Lake, Hector, NY

Okay. After three days of travel, tasting, talking, and typing, I bring you my taste of the Finger Lakes. Keepitcoming and I took a miniature vacation out there on Friday to conduct some research on my latest project and took the opportunity to get a taste of what the lakes have to offer.

First, a little bit about our trip. We stayed at a fantastic bed and breakfast, crushed cabernet frank with the wonderful staff at Hermann J. Wiemer, and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery in Seneca, Watkins Glen, and Dundee. However, one of the biggest successes of the trip was eating at this little restaurant on the Seneca Lake, Dano’s Heuriger- a place that was so good, we made reservations on both our nights there.On our first night, we went all out with a charcuterie plate and a classic entree, as well as a side of spatzle, my new favorite food. To prepare for the next day’s excursion, we opted to have a bottle of Hermann Wiemer’s 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling, America’s answer to the kabinett. We were worried that our selections wouldn’t be enough for us to be fully satisfied, but were quickly proven wrong after eating.

I can’t believe that prior to that fateful night, I had never been graced with the presence of spatzle. Fucking spatzle. It was a noodle experience like none I’d ever had before. These were a beautiful cross between noodles and dumplings and were perfectly seasoned. The bite was toothsome and comforting, with a simple buttered coating. I would have liked to eat more of these, but we were too full from the rest of our dinner! They were fantastic and perfect without any additional seasoning. These and the wiener schnitzel inspired a potential future trip to Austria! Delicious.The charcuterie plate was presented simply, but had all the rustic artistry of a beautiful landscape. It was incredible, with all of the ingredients smoked or prepared in house, and arranged around a central pair of condiments. (yes!!) Each component was carefully thought out and placed, with careful attention to detail on the flavors and sensations one would experience.The dish consisted of, (starting at twelve and moving clockwise) crisp flatbread, smoked chicken wings, duck and pork rillettes, (their take on a pate!) pickled green tomatoes, smoked pork loin, an apple and apricot membrillo, (another sweet interpretation of a pate) with a limburger cheese and brie, cornichons, smoked pork belly, fresh baguette, and Austrian garlic sausage. In the center of the plate were their two spreads, a housemade mustard and a cranberry chutney.

Each aspect of this plate was better than the last. We had so much fun mixing and matching the foods and really relished the flavors that came out of them. The pickled green tomatoes were a fun twist on a classic charcuterie component and brought our Riesling out to a more magnificent level of flavor and acidity. The delicacy and tiny portion of the chicken wings brought the normally robust and messy bar snack to a gourmet level, and they were tender and perfectly seasoned. The flavor of the meats was enhanced to a savory and zippy level with the mustard, which had a playful flavor without being too grainy and intense. This plate should be on their full-time menu. We really enjoyed getting small tastes of the foods, and found that the overall composition was thoughtful and varied.We also shared a plate of wiener schnitzel, a classic Austrian dish. This particular schnitzel stayed true to tradition and was made with a veal escalope base. I’ve never had schnitzel, but I have had veal and know that I love fried foods, so I was more than elated to try this.It was a simple preparation, with a wedge of lemon on the side, and we made short work of the dish. I don’t think I’ve ever derived so much pleasure from such a simple and classic dish. The crust clung to the meat, which was pounded to a nearly invisible thickness, and the veal was tender and sweet, with the lemon providing a nicely acidic punch. It was crispy and addictive, and I wanted to order more and eat all the crispy edge pieces. None of it was mushy or stringy, and it was a dish that could have sated me and still made me crave more immediately after.After all that food and wine, we decided to try two desserts, the rigo jansci and their special of the night, a pumpkin crumble tart. The rigo jansci is a traditional Austrian dessert, a cube of chocolate cake with a layer of mousse and apricot jam in between. The pumpkin crumble tart seemed to be unique because of its featuring pumpkin puree as a key ingredient.And indeed, it was. The crumble had a predominantly squashy flavor instead of masking its true identity with an abundance of spices and herbs, and with a really delicious crusty base and decadent crumble, was the perfect fall fare. What was even more unusual was how much we enjoyed the whipped cream that came dolloped on the side. It was fresh and luxuriously flavored, whipped gently to stiff peaks. I could have honestly eaten an entire bowl of this for dessert, it was that good. It ranked above most ice creams I’ve had.The rigo jansci was also really delicious, with velvety soft chocolate cake in a neat cube, like an oversized petit four. It was stuffed with a thick layer of mousse, but still managed to retain its form. Between the mousse and the cake was a bit of apricot jam. The cake was delicious, if singular in texture, and was paired with a nice bittersweet chocolate powder on top. I would have preferred a little more oomph from the apricot jam. Again, the dishes were heaped with more of that addictive whipped cream.After that impressive dinner, we had no choice but to return for a second night! The building was aesthetically beautiful and had a large partitioned window as its largest wall, so we picked a time that would allow us to see the sunset through the windows. Unfortunately, it was a little rainy, but our second night brought more exciting selections and festive foods.

A special dish of gnocchi with various autumnal flavorings had caught our eye on the previous night, and we’d planned on ordering it upon our second visit, but they’d changed the menu and it was no longer available. We opted for a shared selection of a few sausages, two of their spreads, a salad, and bread on the side. This was easily enough food for two people, and we enjoyed making little open faced sandwiches with all the toppings.The sausages were presented with more of that fantastic housemade mustard, which we greatly enjoyed, and were boiled. I personally enjoy grilled sausages, but their flavors were bold and peppy. The Hungarian sausage was easily the more pungent of the two, with pork, beef, and paprika, and I found it a little rich for my tastes and could only finish half. However, it really combined well with the mustard, both being very intense flavors that played well together.

The bratwurst was my favorite of the two sausages, with pork and veal. It was mild and served as a juicy base for the sauces we put on top. It was garlicky and not too spicy or rich and had a dry but firm texture. Again, had this been grilled and in a bun, I would be hard pressed to not have returned for a lunch special! Especially with that mustard.For our spreads, we enjoyed two, a traditional liptauer, made with feta cheese, cream cheese, various spices, and most notably, carroway seed. This was present and gave the spread a quirky multi-dimensional effect not unlike time travel. It was creamy and tangy and was easily something I’d love to add to my morning bagel. It paired well with each sausage and made each even more divine. The texture wasn’t weighty, it was whipped and rather delicate, making it easier to enjoy.The second spread was another I’d easily want to use on bagels and would have really savored in a roast beef sandwich. That was a horseradish walnut spread with a cream cheese base. It was a very versatile and surprisingly mild spread that benefited from a little mustard on top! I was a little taken aback that the horseradish played such a small role and was not typically spicy, but was pleased with the overall fresh effect it had on the spread as a whole. The walnuts were chopped up just enough to give the spread a nice crunch but not dislodge any teeth.With these small picnic-like foods, we shared a cucumber dill salad. This was a little less acidic than the pickled green tomatoes but was still a neutral and crunchy base to carry such a fresh flavor. The salad was both sweet and sour and was free of seeds, allowing it to remain firm and crispy.All of this food satiated us, because we also wanted to make room for dessert. This time, we shared a classic mohn torte, a traditional poppy seed cake. I tend to shy away from overly mawkish desserts, so I figured poppy seed would not only provide a nutty base, but be flavorful without saccharine. And it was! It was a crumbly cake dense with poppy seeds, probably a 50/50 ratio, with that luscious whipped cream.The cake needed no additional flavorings or garnishes and was perfect on its own. It was probably a little too crumbly for a portable breakfast cake, but I’d still love to eat this as an early morning or late night treat.Overall, we loved Dano’s and if we ever end up returning to the Finger Lakes, would be delighted to return and enjoy more comforting, imaginative foods!

Sir Kensington’s Spiced Scooping Ketchup

‘Twas a soiree of decadence and sin! On a fair summer’s eve, the Lady Keepitcoming deigned to favor me with the pleasure of her company. Nature lead us to discover that on this balmy evening, only the finest of pub pleasures would assuage our lubricious appetites, and thus, we consummated our desire to dine upon Sir Kensington’s, the capricious catsup of kings!Dear readers, I’m sure I shan’t raise any eyebrows in stating the obvious fact that the vast majority of commercial ketchups are rather banal affairs, in possession of the all the charms, in the timeless words of David Guetta, of “your neighborhood whore.” Fortunately for those of us whose gourmandism demands a more subtle, recherch√© approach to ketchup, Sir Kensington has come forward to disabuse us of our former complacency in regards to this most familiar of condiments. By the light and wisdom of Sir Kensington, a notorious fop in the most sociable of circles, truly has the purity of the primal origins of ketchup finally been seen! Yea verily, this ketchup is baller. With a thick, ripe rotundness on the lips and a heat sufficient to pique our lusty appetites, Sir Kensington tipped the velvet on our tongues and tantalized our tastebuds. This ketchup possessed all the natural simplicity of a luscious twenty-two year old brunette stripper with lightly pendulous double D’s and minimal dancing abilities, yet it had the robust spice and sultry tomato flavor reminiscent of the kind of woman who can make you scream like a bitch without really trying.In the light of this laudatory review, it pains me to relate to you, my esteemed readers, that Sir Kensington’s viral marketing campaign is, in truth, kind of douchey. Our normally redoubtable guide into this fascinating world suggested on his website that we have a “scooping ketchup party”, and it is with great regret that I inform you of my distaste for our esteemed colleague’s choice of words.
This minor matter of aesthetics aside, however, we did listen to music deserving of the Kensingtonian philosophy, namely, Air, and other light ambient techno dance selections, and we ate his ketchup with good, hearty french fries. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve Sir Kensington’s ketchup again, in despite of the fact that I die a little inside whenever I’m called upon to speak the words, “scooping ketchup.”Written and translated into Victorian English by Keepitcoming Love

Wholly Guacamole Original 100 Calorie Packs

When you get down to it, guacamole is a damned sexy food. Evocative of Latin beats, Latin dancers, and Ricky Martin’s ass, it’s spicy, creamy, silky, and good for you. How many foods can boast that? It’s easily one of my top ten favorite foods, a close third on the list to human flesh and tacos, respectively.

Wholly Guacamole was nice enough to send over a massive cooler of goodies, not the least of which included these 100 calorie packs of guacamole. I need you to know one thing before you continue reading- I really, really hate the concept of 100 calorie packs, mainly that of Nabisco. The snacks aren’t worth the 100 calories and are usually fluffed by advertisements of overweight women proclaiming how full they feel after eating them. No soapbox, I’m just not a fan.This portion is actually quite substantial, whether you’re scooping it up with chips off our lover’s body and pretending they’re bleeding alien blood or eating it at a nude potluck. 100 calories goes pretty far and doesn’t make me feel like I’m missing out on my favorite snacks. This one pack fed Keepitcoming and I before we had dinner and added pizazz to our chips. The avocado is the star here, no surprise, but for a packaged guacamole, it’s nice to have such a fresh flavor. There are visible chunks and a nice, natural buttery taste. It’s fresh and green and delightful. My only complaint is that this isn’t spicy enough. (We added hot sauce and queso!) I’m a spiceaholic, so I’d have really enjoyed eating Wholly Guacamole’s spicy guac in such an easy pack. And that’s the only gripe I have. Really, I’m a sucker for packaging like this. It’s easy to toss in a lunchbox instead of making guac and putting it in Tupperware, risking its spillage, refrigerates perfectly fine, and saves the hassle of opening an entire package of pre-made guac and letting it spoil, assuming you don’t eat it in one fell swoop. An innovative and fantastic idea to target foodies like myself.

Anija’s Mustard

You’ve all seen photos of me, namely, that one nagging set of photos of me and Rick Salomon doing the nasty with night vision lighting. What a mistake that was. But anyhow, you’ve seen my face, and if you’ve seen me, you’d know it’s no secret that I harbor an affinity for deep-fried foods. Namely, the mean batch of French fries I make. They’re short and stumpy. I’m short and stumpy. What’s not to love? This came up in conversation with the missus, and like discussions of abortions and methods of serial murder, I tried to change the subject. Secretly, I could not contain my glee. Keepitcoming also enjoys fried foods! This could open a whole new gateway of enabling and eating in our relationship. I mentioned these fries, and she seemed curious and willing to eat them.

I decided to make a test batch myself. Y’know, for research purposes. Can’t have my girlfriend eating these spuds if they suck. I needed something to dip them in, though, and we were out of honey mustard. What’s a girl to do? Luckily, I’d just been sent a triad of dipping mustard from Anija, who learned the secrets of Finnish mustard making from her mother.Of the three varieties, spicy pepper, hot and sweet, and lime, I believe that lime was my favorite. The mustard is textured on the thick side, but doesn’t get gluey, and has a little creaminess, too. This creaminess lends itself well to the tangy citrus flavor. The mustard is pretty hot, but more of a clean horseradish hot than a spicy, peppery hot. I found myself ambivalent on this spice front, as I like more of a spicy hot.

The tang cleared out my nostrils and made my nose run a little, but it wasn’t too overwhelming. It did overpower the flavor of the fries, which I topped with the mustard. Lime and potato, not the best combination. Maybe gravlax. Maybe ham.The plain and spicy mustard tasted the same, unfortunately. Same horseradish kick, same thick texture, but unfortunately, nothing that made me want to go back for round two. It just dominated the potatoes, poor little things. With spiciness, I’m just as pleased with an ample balance of sweet, like honey, but with all the salt in this, it was imbalanced and not very palatable.If I made these fries again, I might be inclined to use sweet potatoes and serve them with this mustard. Otherwise, I’d be just as happy eating them alone, which is exactly what I did. And then I practiced some guitar in the altogether. Sometimes the life of a food blogger isn’t as glamorous and daring as it ought to be.