Dunkin’ Donuts Eggnog Latté

Chicken and waffles? Passé. Chicken and donuts? That’s more like it. Add a side of redeye gravy and you’re good to go. I entered donut-fried chicken into a Dunkin’ Donuts contest (of my own, and Dillinger’s volition) today and decided to pick up this hot-off-the-press Eggnog Latté while I was at it. It took twenty minutes to make, not because the talented baristas hand-beat the yolks and ground fresh nutmeg into steeped Arabica coffee beans, but because the cashier was lost or dead in the back freezer. After she cryogenically unfroze and took my money, I had a fresh latté in my hands.DSC_6555 Continue reading “Dunkin’ Donuts Eggnog Latté”

Dunkin’ Donuts Red Velvet Latte

The universe conspired against this post from the start. First, by introducing a drink at a time of year, what with climate change and all, that I’m tempted to call ‘Summer II: The Reckoning,’ Dunkin’ has failed before the eponymous holiday tree has hit the ground running. But, as both a red velvet aficionado and a staunch opponent of solid food, I soldiered on to my local Dunkin’ Donuts to try their new red velvet latte.
DSC_6346 Continue reading “Dunkin’ Donuts Red Velvet Latte”

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.

Dunkin’ Donuts Cuban Sandwich

Fortuitous circumstances have put me in possession of a vintage Eames chair, so now I can sit alone in the dark and watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in style. My part-time employment as an anime wrangler was fleeting, and I’ve taken up tutoring to supplement my lavish lifestyle. Of course, this leaves me with free days, so I’ve been thrill-seeking and friend-searching on the side to see what adventures I can get myself into.

Well, friend-seeking hasn’t been going so well. I never realized how difficult it was to be friendzoned when you actually wanted it. It’s hard to be in limbo – I’m moving from one city to another, so there aren’t many preemptive measures I can take. And humans, by nature, are frustrating, especially in this area. Apparently, there isn’t a preferred gender pronoun for people who don’t know how email works. Although I did have one extremely successful friend date, successful in part due to equal parts of good conversation and vanilla milkshake! So, thrill-seeking is the next measure. I considered taking a vacation to Florida until I remembered that I was a student. Thankfully, Dunkin’ Donuts has brought all the crushing disappointment of a real vacation to their restaurants up here, with the glamorous Miami and politically-correct Amherst-exclusive Cuban Sandwich.

The new-ban Cuban features roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and a Dijon pickle spread on a French roll. A tall order, especially on the pork front. This isn’t the first time Dunkin’ has tried their hand at a Cuban, following the dismal failure of the Cuban flatbread, with all the fun of a Cuban sandwich without any of the components that designate it as such. This time, they appear to be going pretty straightedge. The sandwich is tall, though in part, that is due tothe French roll, perennially fluffy.
Surprisingly, all of the ingredients looked pretty legit. There was a fairly large slice of tender pork, which, despite having doubtfully been really roasted, had a bold, savory flavor unto its own. The ham and swiss looked plentiful and appetizing, despite glistening with sweat. I mean, come on, Swiss, what is this, junior prom? And the pickle and Dijon spread tasted just like Big Mac sauce. Which is honestly pretty great. The sandwich is bland, though, due to uneven distribution of the sauce, whose acidic, brighter flavors really mitigate the basic saltiness of the meat. Only the middle bite, the exact epicenter of the sandwich, carried any acidity or semblance to pickle slices in a real Cuban.
And to be honest, that bite, had it not been lukewarm, was great. The flavors are more distinct with that little hint of brightness. Without it, it ends up tasting like a generic mixed meat sandwich. Just like Florida. And I didn’t even have to get sunburnt or sit next to a crying baby on an airplane.

Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger

I am literally going to die.

I’m done. I’m dying, my insides are decomposing, and I’m going to die. And I feel so clean.

I’m on a juice fast. It’s the worst. I mean, I feel great, slightly delirious, and I fall asleep at stop lights, but I can already feel my stomach aching for a burger. Obviously, with my couture food tasting lifestyle, it’s difficult to maintain such a diet while still sticking my mouth in the latest and greatest delicacies from Chez Mac Do and Wendy’s. I enlisted the Bedfellow to help me eat this burger while I watched her, on the floor, from across the room, while I cried silently into my sweet green and lemon water.

The new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger features some new ingredients and some old ones- bacon, cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, and smoky mustard sauce (from the flatbreads, I imagine) along with Cheddar cheese sauce atop a pretzel bun. Pretty intense, and at $4.89, pricier than the standard bacon burgers but hopefully worth the price. It’s a fairly weighty sandwich, and very visually appealing, with lots of sauce, veggies, and a shiny, toasted bun.

The Bedfellow liked it, though found the pretzel, which I’d consider to be the main draw of the sandwich, bland and not very tasty. It wasn’t sweet like some pretzel rolls, and had no salt on top. I would have found the inclusion of rock salt fairly audacious given the assault of savory ingredients already inside the burger, but was pleased to hear that she thought the rest of the salt balanced out the boring flavor of the bun. Though if you’re going to make a pretzel bun, why bother making it at all if it isn’t going to taste very good?

Luckily, it didn’t overwhelm the rest of the burger, which was satisfying in its composition. Although she found the cheese and mustard sauce difficult to tell apart, she liked the sweet and smoky flavors, which leads me to wonder if Wendy’s has adjusted their mustard sauce recipe after testing it in March. The arugula blend was a nice touch, too, and gave a splash of color alongside the relatively anemic-looking tomato and yellow and brown color palate of the meat and cheese. Red onions balanced out the richer flavors. The cheese provided another good boost of salt and softness atop the burger, but was overwhelmed by the thicker, gooier cheese sauce. Unfortunately, with the success of the toppings, the burger itself was dry.

When 50% of the components- pretzel and burger, are outshone by traditionally secondary items within the composition of a sandwich, cheese and bacon, it seems that it would not prove to be successful. However, it was saved by the quality and abundance of the remaining toppings. The Bedfellow said she would certainly get it again given the chance. I’d be curious to know who is supplying the pretzel buns for Wendy’s, or whether they are recipes from another company, tweaked to taste as they do. If this is a permanent addition to the menu, I would hope they add a little more of that eggy, saline flavor so quintessential to pretzels themselves. 

Wendy’s Flatbread Giveaway!

Wendy’s is giving away $1,000 to a lucky customer who has tried their new flatbread sandwiches with their new #twEATfor1k campaign. I can’t give away $1,000 right now, but I can give away a few gift cards to Wendy’s!

Have you tried the new flatbread? I have reviewed it here. I’m curious to hear what you guys think, so comment here and you’ll be entered to win one of three $5 giftcards to try it yourself, or buy one for a friend. I’ll pick a winner next Monday, May 6th and announce them here.

To see how I liked my tour of the Wendy’s corporate headquarters, click here!

-Foodette

Quick Suprême Foie Gras Burger

It’s been a strange, beautiful six months.

I don’t know where to start, really. So much has happened and has seemed so normal to me that when I step back and look at it from an outsider’s perspective, it just looks absurd. I leave Paris in less than 48 hours, and I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t a little strained, a little stressed. I’ve lost a bit of my nerve since I’ve been here, so to speak. My desires have changed and I’m struggling with one foot in the Metro door trying to determine what will transfer when I cross the ocean. I guess that’s why my posting has been erratic. The clock is ticking and I’m sitting on my suitcases realizing that there’s a world out there that I didn’t even know I wanted until I flew out and saw it for myself.

I get that this is a thing, that this is hardly an original impulse. Students do it, they are enriched, they come back with stupid assumed accents and a newfound sense of entitlement smugly wagged in the faces of their uncultured peers, they immortalize it in Instagrammed photos and Skype and eventually, there comes a day when they move on to bigger and better things and eventually allow the smoke of Paris to fade from their minds, forget the sound of crowds in London as the days pass and pass.

This terrifies me.

So here I am, on my second-to-last night, and I’m trying to grasp something, shock my body and brain into feeling and reacting by staying outside a little longer. I needed a project, so I schlepped to six Quick restaurants looking for this damned foie gras burger. I don’t know, it was my last hurrah, my last attempt at branding these streets and Metro exits on my mind. Four of the restaurants didn’t have it, having stopped carrying it after a week out of disinterest, one of the restaurants had moved and was still on the Quick website, and the last one didn’t have it when I went that afternoon and had it that night. I was discouraged but I couldn’t stop moving and as asinine as the goal felt, it was just good to have one.

This burger, for lack of a more sophisticated comparison, encompasses how it’s been here. It’s got a smear of highbrow eclecticism in between its decidedly spartan base. It’s strange, it’s elusive, and it’s downright inconceivable to people who don’t know what it’s like. I can’t say that it’s perfect, but it’s damned satisfying. It comes wrapped in greasy, stained wax paper and carries a funk of decadent sleaziness. After all, it’s French, albeit the D-grade of French, foie gras on a cheap hamburger.

I guess the prospect of the new, the strange, the ephemeral, the transitional, still intrigues me. If this burger can satisfy that for me, $5 isn’t the worst I can lose. In any case, this met my expectations and exceeded them, in a bizarre sense. I didn’t expect it to grow on me as it had, but here we are. It’s well-balanced in flavor, the extra elements- grilled, caramelized onions, an onion, poppyseed and paprika bun, and the obvious hunk o’ chunka burnin’ lobe push past the basic lettuce and burger and add a flair of exoticism to the entire package. Nothing pushes to the center, it’s graceful and natural. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s easy to get accustomed to, kind of like Paris itself.  A befitting end to a beginning, or a beginning to an end, or maybe it’s just the middle of something I’m still working my jaw through.

I will miss small, silly things like bizarre burgers.

I will miss large, grand things, like the Seine, the Metro, the tight wind of one hundred and twenty-six old stairs to a Parisian garret and a world of possibilities out a cracked window.

At the end of it all, though, I’m really, truly happy.

And I will be back.

I have had an exceptional stay here. I’ll see you all on the other side.

McDo Casse Croute Menu: Poulet-Poivre, Oriental, and Mixte Sandwiches

France, you did it! You’ve come through and all but virtually guaranteed my eating nothing but fast food for the remainder of my time here. I’m a disappointment to all who know me, but it’s okay because limited edition. McDo France has released three new sandwiches to celebrate me, I assume. Too bad they’re terrible, but we’ll get to that. McDo’s Le Casse Croute menu features a sandwich and a medium drink for 4,50 Euro, or $66,000 USD as far as I’m now concerned. The sandwiches, the Oriental, Asian-flavored burger patty with the onerously named Oriental sauce, the Poulet-Poivre, or chicken with pepper sauce, and the Mixte, with ham and Emmental cheese, are all atop a McBaguette (my love, I have been waiting for so long to type such sweet words) and adorned with potato patties.

I bought all three sandwiches. Interestingly enough, despite refusing the drink, the server insisted upon it, even though the emotional line between carrying three sandwiches to your apartment for “research” is suddenly crossed when you bring three overflowing things of soda upstairs, too. Now I have three miniature bottles of water forming an impenetrable barrier between the sandwiches and me, which is good, because they kind of suck.

Let’s deconstruct this Derrida-style, old-school, call me MacDaddy because I’m into making postmodern phallocentric references rich in cultural capital in order to maximize the time you spend on this site. Zing, am I right? Anyway, the sandwiches themselves happen to be chiasmus-angia combos. Meat, bread, potato, and sauce, though the quality is wildly different between the three. The Poulet-Poivre was my favorite, and the only sandwich I finished in its entirety. I will gladly state that for the cardiologist’s record, too. It was really just a sliced chicken patty, but it had the most fillings and the best balance of flavor, with the pepper sauce providing a zesty lubrication to the whole shebang. Vastly improved with a few shakes of hot sauce. My only complaint was that I wasn’t crazy about the fried-on-fried element of the potatoes and the chicken. It was a little too much.
The baguettes themselves, at least for 1er arrondissement standards, are not half bad. You wouldn’t confuse them for actual bread, but they mimic the sensation of bread fairly well, with a sweet, malty flavor and very crisp crust. The inside is soft and spongy, and surprisingly moist. They are also, in true McDo standards, enormous. The sandwiches require a momentary and snake-like unhinging of the jaw to fully enjoy.

And that was where things started to go downhill. I tried the Mixte next, because I was curious about how the combination of hot potato patties and cold cuts would be. It seemed like something I’d have made at home. Indeed, the cool and hot element was nice- the cheese was underneath the ham and on top of the patties, so it melted slightly, and would have been the dominant flavor in the sandwich, had McDo not tried to make it more exciting. The real Britta of the group was the fromage blanc, or white cheese sauce. It was more like white cheese mayonnaise, and it sucked. It took a clever idea and turned it into a stoner’s nightmare, where everything tastes like nacho cheese sauce and resembles your stepmom’s house.

The Oriental was up next, and if I’d thought the Mixte had won points for sucking and having the cruelest of all flavors, I was wrong. This took the cake. In its defense, it was certainly Asiatic in flavor, the problem being that the interpretation of Asiatic was apparently sourced from that one strip mall Chinese restaurant in the middle of Milwaukee with kind of okay lo mein and a shitton of soy sauce. The patties had to have been soaked in soy sauce, as they were inedibly salty and had a strange, powdery glaze on them. The sauce was nearly inedible- it was sour and creamy with a melange of spices, two of which were definitely caraway and garam masala. Completely disgusting.
So, these were a gamble, and a fairly disappointing one. The one consistently positive aspect about these is that they’re a great value- they are not snack-sized sandwiches and would definitely be a substantial lunch, considering that the potato patties also omit the need to get fries, although for your 5 Euro you could just as easily get a kebab with frites. Unfortunately, the flavors are way off the mark and are probably a bit too experimental for the French fast food palate.

Guest Review: Burger King Pumpkin Burger

Foodette: An exclusive review, coming to you all the way from Japan! My study abroad friend has a sister in Nagoya, and we were lucky enough to persuade her to try the new BK Pumpkin Burger, topped with a ring of fried slices of pumpkin. Get her take here!

The BK pumpkin burger looked very grandiose on the giant poster in front of BK, maybe even appealing, but still sounded weird, so I was skeptical going in. But after a long 30 minute walk around Nagoya in search of BK and not having eaten much for lunch, I was ready to sit down and try it. After letting Nobu, my boyfriend, order for me, he brought back the white paper wrapped burger marked “HP” for “Heavy Pumpkin”, an option Nobu chose to add extra pumpkin on top as a 100 yen (about $1.20) or so upgrade, and it was indeed heavy on the pumpkin. It was ten layers of thinly sliced kabocha pumpkin with the green skin on the outside, fried and hot. 

I knew it was too much pumpkin so I began to pull some out so I could appreciate the teeny tiny burger meat below. This was a difficult task as the pumpkin slices were covered in chopped iceberg lettuce, falling in all directions, and the pumpkin was assembled in a doughnut pattern with a hole in the middle where they squirted the bland, not so flavorful mayonnaise dressing with what I assumed were little black pepper specs mixed in with the slippy, oozing, messy white sauce. So after reassembling my bun, a typical yellowish sesame seed covered BK bun, I bit into it. I made sure to get the burger, the fatty strip of thin somewhat crispy, somewhat soft bacon, the pumpkin, the mayo, and the lettuce all in one bite. The burger tasted like a normal BK flavor, kind of dry, the lettuce was average chopped iceberg, the mayo was relatively flavorless, and the pumpkin was on the sweet side, as expected. Nobu had a bite as well and agreed that it wasn’t so yummy.

Even the salty little bacon strip couldn’t redeem the lack of flavor. However, we redeemed ourselves it with our Heinz ketchup packets (Pittsburgh represent!) and dipped it into the ketchup, a nice contrast to the sweet pumpkin. It gave it a tang, and made it taste much like sweet potato fries dipped in ketchup on a burger (reminiscent of Primanti Bros but with sweet fries and no slaw). Much better that way. Then we ate the remaining pumpkin slices on the side, still hot and soft, and dipped those in the leftover ketchup like french fries and they were much better that way as well. In the end, we decided it was bland and not very good, and that a more kicky sauce would’ve gone a long way in improving the burger. Our expectations were low going in, and they were met coming out.”

OH MY GOD PUMPKIN FRIES. This is amazing, and I wish I had been there. Until next time, Japan!

Pizza Hut Chèvre-Miel

It has been a long and trying week- thank you to everyone who emailed or commented on my post with words of support and encouragement. Many people came out of the woodwork to offer their condolences, and I am forever grateful to have heard your comments and to have interacted with you. Luckily, Miss Love was with me for a substantial amount of time, and we have been having a fantastic vacation together to make up for lost time.

Obviously, with our love for all things meta and bizarre, one of our first dates in Paris, a city resplendent with Michelin star-rated restaurants, gourmet tasting menus, and plenty of delicious cheese and wine, was to eat takeout from Pizza Hut. Because America, and also because chèvre miel. “Chèvre miel?” you say, trying to recall the latest American Pizza Hut promotion with Chèvremielarama, complete with stuffed pepperoni crust and cheese ooze, or the coveted Chèvre Miel Meal for Eight Pack released in 2008, but stop trying. It doesn’t exist outside of France. 
And yes, it means what you think it means. There is goat cheese on this pizza from Pizza Hut, the company that brought you pizza with a cheeseburger crust and space pizza. Baked goat cheese drizzled with honey. And yes, you’re still alive, and Darth Vader was Luke’s father the whole time. Mind blown yet? I should also mention that this pie was presented to me by my server like a bottle of 1982 Lafite-Rothschild, box open, hopeful beam upon her face that I would not scoff and discard such a masterpiece of lactose mediums.

It gets weirder, like some sort of reverse classicist restaurant franchise. Ye Olde Pizzae Hutten circles the pie with stuffed crust Cheesy Fun Bites, attached at the bread like hangnails, surrounding the mother pie like suckling puppies and breaking off if you even so much as look at the pizza the wrong way. Luckily, the pizza part of it tastes pretty decent, even if the crust bites are the Two-Face of a generally well-maintained Harvey Dent pie. 
Seriously, they are both awful and easy to eat, two bites of salt, semi-melted string cheese, and a hasty melange of spices. There is no reason, unless you have a rare salt lick deficiency, to be eating these bites. They lack balance and flavor, merely offering the comforting texture of solids to occupy your mouth while waiting for the molten hot pizza to cool. They’re a little dry, but Pizza Hut has a solution for that, and that solution is more oil. Peppered lubrication in single-use packets, to be precise.

As I mentioned, I was kind of smitten with the pizza part, at least as smitten as anyone can be with a sweaty triangle of various dairies. The components- an herbaceous cream cheese sauce, crispy mozzarella-esque cheese, and thick rounds of creamy goat cheese with honey, were well-balanced, if depressing to look at once free of its crust lesions. With each bite, the salinity and sweetness had a tasty equilibrium, neither one overly cloying or sharp. Ultimately, though, the poor quality of the mozzarella, stringy and tough, made it unpleasant to eat more than a slice or two. The combination is bold for a franchise, and in the right hands, could make for a wonderful pizza pie. However, with Pizza Hut, it lacks the care and higher-quality ingredients to devote to this pie alone. How else can they serve La Louisiane and Big Spicy Texan pizzas? How can they sleep at night?