Arnold Pretzel Rolls

There is no God.

Or rather, the God we currently have now inexplicably hates pretzel rolls. Atheistic blanket statements aside, I’m pretty sure that part of my life’s mission here on earth is to find the best pretzel roll man can possibly make. No pressure, though. I’ve been through frozen pretzels stuffed with more crap than Adam Richman, pretzel hot dog buns loaded with expensive edible accoutrements, pretzels topped with crustaceans, and disappointing pretzel rolls. I’m all pretzeled out and I still can’t find the perfect bread.
To me, the ideal pretzel roll has a foot in both worlds, despite being a freakish monster belonging in neither. It is kissed with a hint of tinny, metallic goodness on its crust and is almost certainly boiled prior to baking, to ensure an airy, yet chewy inner surface that is porous enough to accommodate to even the gooiest of toppings, but yields to a firm bite without vomiting its contents all over the plate. Rock salt mandatory, toasting optional. An idyllic one-two punch at home with ham, mustard, and little else, or with a gluttonous number of toppings. Needless to say, they are freaking perfect, elevating a mere sandwich to a more complex and Bavarian plane. And to date, I had to rely on luck and intense menu research to find these little suckers. Until…not.
Yes, it looks like I meant “now” but it’s not “now” because I have to wait. Yes, I peed myself when Arnold’s came out with these two days ago and my mom brought them home. And no, these are not the droids we’re looking for. Sigh. Despite showing a promising amount of homemade homeliness, these just weren’t up to snuff. Six rolls to a bag, with 190 calories each, they appear to be hefty and even slightly irregular from roll to roll, offering charming variations in the waffled base and slits on top. Quite a promising start.
Unadorned, they were bland. Adorned simply, the pretzel’s natural charms were squelched. Suffocated under the weight of a stupid amount of toppings, they disintegrated. God damn it. We were so close, Arnold’s. We could have had it all. Unfortunately, these just didn’t cut it. To the touch, they are light and airy, a little too light. White bread light and Vanilla Ice white with a squishy and uniformly bubbled core. A small bite yielded a sweetly flavored crumbly interior and thin, pliable crust with a hint of alkaline tang from the baking soda. It wasn’t chewy at all and had the texture of a thin slice of sandwich bread rather than a crusty roll. Most of the salinity was overpowered by the breadiness as there was no other supplemental salt source, like a scattering of rock salt on top of the roll, to boost its flavor.
The least offensive way to eat this is with a little salt and butter, much like my bagels. This way accentuates the pretzel’s natural flavor the most, but still falls prey to the plain bready texture. There wasn’t enough irregular definition in the bread’s cell wall to allow the butter to melt into any nooks and crannies, and it floated on the top after melting, barely penetrating the surface and leaving the top part soggy and the bottom part flavorless. Were it not for the appeal of the salt coaxing the tinniness out, I wouldn’t bother eating this as toast.
As a sandwich, I figured this would be a little more successful. And what better way to do it than to do a balls-to-the-wall crazy condiment orgy on a bun? Do or do not, there is no try, after all. The Italian Job featured condiments best suited to a good bun with no margin of error. If it was a good pretzel roll, it would work. Anything else would disintegrate under the weight of so many sauces. With hot pepper relish, mustard, mayo, Tabasco, ham, American cheese, mango and ginger Stilton ’cause we fancy, arugula, fennel slivers, and freshly cracked black pepper, the Italian Job ain’t nothin’ to muck with.
And unfortunately, after I removed this ornamental steak knife, all hell broke loose. This is not the right bun for the job, folks. Not in the slightest. See that distended yellow-hued smear on the starboard side of the sandwich? That’s the sauce seeping through the bread, sponged up by the fluffy interior. Arnold’s, you are a failure.
Bam, she falls apart as soon as I look at her. Another one for the vaults. Successful as a roll, perhaps, but as a pretzel, you’re an absolute shame up there with Glitter, Gilbert and Sullivan, and the InstaHang. Looks like it’s back to the drawing boards for the time being. I appreciated the initiative on part of Arnold’s, but for God’s sake, if you’re going to go out on a limb, try not to make the product so utterly unappealing that people won’t ever want to eat its inspiration again.

Phillips Seafood Crab Pretzel

Swagger and I have officially hit the nation’s capital for the Fancy Food Show in Washington DC, from tomorrow to Tuesday. We have all kinds of awesome features lined up, the first starting with the farewell to all things fast food for the next three days, that farewell coming in the horribly strange amalgamation of everyone’s favorite snacks, the pretzel and the ummmmmmm, crab. Yeah. Nacho mama’s cheese. There is cheese on this, though, spoiler alert.

Photo courtesy of dcwriterdawn- I couldn’t grab a photo of the sign due to a pack of roving children. The rabies danger was high. But this was roughly the gist of it.

Phillips is a relatively well-known restaurant and frozen food mogul. Sometimes my mom buys their little crab cakes. Originally, we had stopped at a rest stop in Baltimore for some quintessential road trip Roy Roger’s, but when I saw this, it was essential that I get it. It’s described as a soft pretzel with pieces of lump crab meat embedded like jewels in its surface and in its wide belly, a trait that later becomes the visual equivalent of your belly’s later bildungsroman, and drizzled with cream cheese and topped with cheddar cheese.
When I first hefted it up, it really didn’t resemble a pretzel. It was more like a cheese biscuit on steroids, with a diameter of roughly the size of my little hand. After breaking it apart, I was immediately skeptical. This was clearly a snack that excelled as a pretzel, but failed as a crab-based treat. The pretzel part, comprised of roughly 80% of the overall composition, was soft and yeasty, with a natural moistness that benefited from, but did not need the addition of copious amounts of cheese. The crab meat was a bit of a misnomer, as it was combined with the cream cheese to form a bastardized crab dip that was dotted on top. And man, we’re talking about edible pink Dalmatian spots. It was like crab for the elderly. There was no texture to speak of, but a nice, strong cream cheese flavor and a hint of crab. Hell, it could have been clumps of Old Bay for all I know. That makes up another 10%. The remaining 10% was the blanket, nay, Snuggie’s worth of cheese melted on top. The kind of stuff that makes grilled cheeses blush. And frankly, it was unnecessary, despite being good, sharp cheese. It made the pretzel crispier, but super greasy. Sophie’s choice, if you will. Or maybe Auntie Anne’s. Either way, could have used a little spice to break up the monotony of the dairy orgy inside and on top.
Overall, this is not the best snack to get when there are plenty of other reliable options at a rest stop or a restaurant. Although my curious, grease-loaded mind can’t help but wonder what a sandwich of two of these as buns and a crab cake in the middle would taste like. Probably like 2,000 calories of ass. At $8.54 for this half-baseball sized greaseball, the premium price a result of the extra teaspoon of crab, I was surprised I finished half of it before losing interest and passing it off to Swagger.

The Haute Dog at Serendipity 3, New York, NY

Yesterday, Swagger and I took a trip to the city to try the world’s most expensive hot dog, the “haute” dog from Serendipity 3 in New York. This dog was deemed the most expensive by the Guinness Book of World Records last year and features a 12 inch hot dog grilled in truffle oil inside a pretzel bun grilled with truffle butter with duck fois gras on top and three condiments on the side- caramelized Vidalia onions, truffled Dijon mustard, and Heirloom tomato ketchup for the low, low price of $69. Pretty fancy, but was it up to snuff?If you’ve never been to Serendipity, it’s like taking a trip back to your “confirmed bachelor” uncle’s house as a child- you know, the one that bordered on being a hybrid shrine to Chippendale’s and Judy Garland. With a nearly sterile color palate of white, off-white and bright white, it has the feel of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor- one with the occasional homoerotic wall decoration. The menu is preserved in the mid-fifties, with items such as the Virginia Slim Open, a turkey-based sandwich, and the One-Eyed Jack (no explanation needed).But we, that is to say, Swagger and I, had bigger game in mind. Thanks to the magical powers of PR Head Joe Calderone, we headed in at five and got to tackle the beast. We sated our palates with Serendipity’s classic libation, the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. I had tried to prepare myself for this ahead of time, but wasn’t entirely aware of the full threshold of chocolate we were about to endure. This was an extremely rich, refreshing drink served in a receptacle that could have comfortably housed a couple of goldfish, never mind a massive drink. Despite its size, it was easy to slurp down and was mighty quenching during our lunch. It is also apparently easy to replicate, thanks to TEH WUNDERS OF OPRAH. I may not have been able to distinguish the provenance of the FHC’s blend of 14 chocolates from Cote D’Ivoire to Chuao, but the flavor was bold and well-blended. Perfect for yesterday’s gorgeous weather.

Our hot dog arrived swiftly after a pleasant bout of rapport with the staff and Joe, and to the chagrin and hatred of the primarily JAP clientele, we were immediately the center of attention. Finally, I was the apotheosis of all my Jewish American Princess fantasies. The hot dog was here. It is truly the best of its kind, therefore, it cannot be judged on a scale of normal hot dogs. Unfortunately, as a result of its excellence I hold it to a higher standard than the quotidian tube steak. A hot dog’s appeal lies in a careful balance of its ingredients. The rich fattiness of a beef hot dog is cushioned by a bun, and in return, both lubricated and counterbalanced by a cadre of primarily acidic condiments- ketchup, mustard, relish, all things with a high level of vinegar and tang. Even richer condiments can propel a dog onto a higher plane- who hasn’t crushed on a bacon wrapped hot dog?The main issues lay in the composition of the hot dog. While each individual component was expertly prepared- especially the pretzel baguette that I would have been happy to slather with butter and eat alone, eaten together they were not as compatible as I’d have imagined. Everything about this was done on an enormous scale. Fois gras, though decadent, was just overwhelming along with the truffle oil laced hot dog, a savory and slippery delight. The pretzel bread took up 2/3 of each bite. It was truly massive and more suited to a massive hoagie sandwich or two hot dogs at once and really threw off the ratio of each bite. Luckily, the extra bits shaved off each bite made excellent vehicles for the condiments, all tangy, flavorful and very fresh, the most outstanding being the Heirloom tomato ketchup, though it’s more justified to call it jam, with an upfront charred flavor and red pepper accents, it accentuated the saltiness in the bread without adding to it.After three bites, I was stuffed. I’d been bested, but by the best- the smooth, creamy fois gras really did me in. While I can’t say that this was a perfect hot dog, it was certainly exceptional for its category. For the world’s most expensive hot dog, it’s affordable enough to split the cost with friends if only for nostalgic purposes. With crisp and impeccable service and a perfect balance of kitsch and class, this is a place I’d visit again in the future. Again, a huge thanks is in order to Joe Calderone for his hospitality.

Clif Peanut Butter Pretzel Mojo Bar

I’m no stranger to the Clif granola bar line. Hell, when I was a kid, I was sitting on the bench, that one summer my dumb parents signed me up for teeball, eating those granola bars and cheering on my teammates. “Go, Jeffy! You can do it!” I’d turn to my coach and tell him gently that I probably ought to sit one out. “I think it’s my lumbago, coach. It’ll heal up with some TLC and another granola bar, but Jeffy looks like he’s handling the field pretty well.”

I was a bench warmer all summer. It was a short-lived experience, teeball, but through my teenage years and adulthood, I still enjoyed Clif bars and enjoyed pretending to be an exercising athlete even more. When I saw this new version in the store, I nearly blew a gasket. UMass had been dodgy in stocking this particular flavor, and since there’s nothing more that I love than salty and sweet, it was hard to pass this up.

Peanut Butter Pretzel boasts peanut butter chips and peanut butter filled pretzels. Talk about a yo dawg. The granola bar resembles a disgruntled rice krispie treat with various chunks and pockmarks studding its exterior. It has that airy, chewy texture, too, but less thick and less gooey.

The flavor is a little strange. It’s funny because in the last bar I had, I experienced this similar weirdness which leads me to believe it wasn’t related to the batch. It had an aggressively salty flavor like unmixed natural peanut butter that didn’t settle well with the creamy peanut butter chips. The pretzels sort of faded away into the generic crispies in the bar, and left a strange tang on my tongue. This is weird and kind of gross aspect that definitely solidifies my previous fear about buying these again. If I want a peanut butter and salt fix, I’ll stick to Target’s brand of granola bars. They taste much better and are way cheaper.

Snyder’s Hot Buffalo Pieces

I took a nice weekend to myself to attend a local WASP festival with Keepitcoming, and to prepare for the Fancy Food Show, which is a mere week away. We’re quite jonesed, I can assure you. Today at work, though, I was feeling a little bold and I put down my needlepoint and bought these pretzels.

I’m no stranger to spicy foods. I absolutely love wings, and have perfected an egg scramble with sour cream and sriracha during breakfast. So it was natural for me to be drawn to these, like a 1970’s socialite to clusters of caviar. The pretzels themselves are not whole pieces, rather, they are crushed up and coated with a flavoring. In this case, the buffalo sauce.Because the pretzels are crushed, they have more of a chance to get coated with the flavor. Thus, the pieces themselves look like the aftermath of a Snooki/Oompa Loompa fanfiction orgy, bright orange and flaking all over the place. And I’ll admit, I was really excited to try them once I saw the seasoning.The first flavor that hit my taste buds was vinegar, and it stayed vinegary for the entire bite. Despite the color and “five-alarm” hype, there was literally no heat in these whatsoever. Honestly, I was taken aback, because the buttery trademark of the wing was present. It had all the elements of a wing, including a poultry aftertaste, but completely missed the mark on the one thing that makes Buffalo wings delicious. Even after eating a bunch of these at once, cramming them into my mouth like a porn star at a gang bang, there was nothing that made me think of the heat that wings deliver.

These were wishful thinking. If I was to give helpful advice to Snyder’s, as a soccer father from the mid-seventies, I’d say something like, “C’mon, slugger, you can lick this,” because I expect more of Snyder’s and wish that they hadn’t dropped the ball on this one.

Truffle Truffle Beer and Pretzel Brittle

This review brought to you, in bed, courtesy of a pants-free lifestyle. Thank you for reading.

On a more awesome and non-clothing related note, this is one of three selections from truffle truffle, a Chicago-based company making truffles (duh), caramels, and other confections. I was sent a selection of their treats, including this fantastically original concept, beer and pretzel toffee.

You all know, from my rehashed “fun facts,” that I’m generally not a fan of beer. That stunt last year with the police and the Sam Adams brewery and the biological terrorism didn’t help matters, either. So beer hates me and I’m pretty much done with beer. Facebook official, natch. But I will meet you beerophiles halfway and agree that pretzels and beer are a classic combination.This toffee is infused with chocolate stout, covered in milk chocolate, and rolled in chopped pretzels. Each piece makes a substantial snack, truffle truffle’s main chef, Nicole, choosing to make a thicker toffee than a thinner, more brittle confection. This proves to be a positive change in the texture of the piece, bites flaking off with a substantial chew, yet not breaking too easily as to shatter mid-bite, and mingles with the pretzels without melting too quickly.The flavor is a bit muddled. The toffee itself is predominant, but lacks the beer infusion that I came to wonder about. It’s mainly a very buttery and rich flavor. The milk chocolate is a thin coating, but serves a good purpose of giving the toffee another layer of depth in its taste. As for the pretzels, they gave a fantastic crunch and played nicely with the toffee, but I would have preferred more salt to balance out the toffee’s sugary finish.

Overall, this concept has me inexorably curious. Would the beer flavor be more prominent in a candy with a lower boiling point or cooking temperature? The concept paves the way for many ideas, and I applaud the ingenuity of the chefs in coming up with this neat little snack. Overall, a great candy and a truly fascinating idea.

Clif Mojo Mountain Mix

Here’s an interesting take on a classic concept- trail mix. Clif Bars have made a granola bar that contains all the best of trail mix- raisins, peanuts, pretzels, chocolate chips. This wasn’t the bar I’d originally wanted. I had been inclined to try the peanut butter pretzel version, but the convenience store hadn’t had it stocked yet.

This bar, though, was a pleasant surprise to open up because it is chocked full of goodies- they don’t skimp on the toppings. The bar is kind of crumbly and loosely textured. It’s very soft, but the soy crisps are crunchy. Unfortunately, that’s the only crunch. There’s no differentiation from each topping, and the raisins, chips, and pretzels just blend together, both in texture and flavor. The bar is also very sticky.The flavor was the biggest point of contention for me with this bar. Something about it seemed off. Biting into it, I thought the liberal amount of toppings would provide a nice flavor, but there was no salty in the sweet, very little sugar, and a very bitter, stale flavor to the bar. I wonder if there was an air leak in the packages or if the entire batch tasted like that, but it was pretty gross and I wouldn’t get this one again unless I was confident that it didn’t taste entirely awful.

Pretzel M&M’s

Well, I think you all know what today is, and there will be a special post about it later, but today is the official one year anniversary of Foodette.

On the food, though, I was pleased to find an awesome birthday treat at Walmart the other day, while shopping with Swagger for Dorm Week. Pretzel M&M’s! For those of us who like pretzels without becoming slaves to the Flipz Industry, these are superheroes. Pretzels are great, but they’re mild. They’re like Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Billy Batson, Arthur Curry, and Jimmy Olson. Nobody looks at them twice and sometimes they’re thought of as being kind of girlish.But put some chocolate on those suckers and, with all the onomatopoeia, these are absolutely insane. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and salty, good and evil, and are pretty darn cute. The pretzel M&M’s are big, smaller than the almond ones but around the same size as a peanut butter M&M, and have a little pretzel inside with the chocolate and candy coating around them. There was a good chocolate flavor and the pretzel inside was nice and crunchy, and I thought the ratio of coating to pretzel was perfect. The pretzel itself had a toasty, crisped flavor, but never tasted overcooked or burnt.Power lies in numbers if you’re a superhero, and this candy falls a little short on that. There were only ten candies in one of the packs we opened and fifteen in the other, so we felt a little gypped. The taste is definitely excellent, but I’d recommend getting a big bag of these. You fall prey to their charms rather innocuously. That being said, these were fantastic at Kick-Ass, and they’re nearly the Skrull equivalent to the ill-fated Crispy M&M’s, so they might just replace peanut butter in the long run.

Pretzelmaker Parmesan Pretzel

Yes, it’s back to the mall for me. You’re lucky I don’t start reviewing pretzel dogs. Or the flavor of crappy teenage vampire novels, which, for the record, tastes like sorrow and fear. Or those giant novelty lollipops which send a girl into diabetic shock after the first lick. Or the speed of a Rascal going on errands to FYE and making returns to Macy’s.

Anyway, the mall is a pretty gorgeous place, and my mall has not one, but two pretzel stands. I usually opt for both, but when I’m not being a gratuitous fatass, I go to the one closest to the pet store. Today’s excursion, while rife with miniature dachshunds, was also a story of heartbreak for the parmesan pretzel.I ordered the pretzel and dug in. While slightly misshapen, it was also a little different from the Sour Cream and Garlic monstrosity at Auntie Anne’s that I’d so enjoyed. It hadn’t been dipped in any toppings, rather, they’d just been sprinkled on, and I’d seen nothing viscous as to adhere to the toppings whatsoever. Because of this, there was also a really uneven distribution of cheese, as it was literally just thrown on by the guy at the counter. The pretzel bread dough, interestingly enough, was sweeter than I thought it would be, and tasted like more of a honey wheat, but it was a tasty vessel for the cheese. It was pretty buttery in flavor, but in texture, it seemed dryer. It was chewy and doughy, like it had been underbaked, but was overall, satisfying, and sustained me for a few hours as I made fun of the Hot Topic loiterers and cut in line for Alice in Wonderland.

Okay, readers, tell me…who do you hate at the mall?

Pretzel Pete’s Sour Cream and Habanero Pretzel Nuggets

Here’s a tasty snack from a gourmet pretzel company, Pretzel Pete’s. A good pretzel is tasty with pretty much anything- mustard, cheese sauce, a nice beer. A domestic disturbance. Indecent exposure. Orgies. Funerals. Regardless of what you’re serving if up with, pretzels are delicious.

This particular flavor is sour cream and habanero. I was excited to try this variety because habaneros are especially spicy, and with the bread of the pretzel and sour cream cooling mechanism, I wanted to see if old Pete himself could make a pretzel whose heat stood up to my taste buds, which, as you know, are rather wimpy.Damn, was it nice! The nuggets are crisp and poppable and at first, the heat sneaks up on you. You’re hit with the sour cream first, not after, as I’d expected, and then, with the peppers. It’s less of a peppery flavor than a “hot” taste, like you decided to eat a little mace with your snack, but it’s tasty nonetheless. I got a strong taste of cayenne pepper, too. As far as texture goes, it’s all right. Personally, I’m a fan of the more broken pieces, like Snyder’s Pieces, because they’re crushed and then get more flavor on them. The nuggets have the egg wash brushed on them and tend to get less powder on, but these weren’t bland by any means and made my nose run. I did frequent the broken pieces, though, with more dust on them.