Ta-daaaaaa!

Soooo? How do you like it? Foodette Reviews finally has a new layout, courtesy of B Templates, and I’m pretty much in love with it.

Now all I need to do is get that logo onto the page, and I’m set! Critiques, comments, and cookies all accepted, you know.

Foodette

The Vitamin Water Challenge, Part 1: Dragonfruit

I recently got some Kirkland Signature vitamin-enhanced beverages (shhh! The feds are always watching!), and was curious as to how they duked up to the regular Vitamin Waters in a taste test. There were four flavors, each corresponding to the Vitamin Water equivalent. I wonder if there will be more, too, for the new flavors?Today’s challenge is sort of a Snackdown, I guess, for the “dragonfruit” flavor. I chilled both drinks for a few hours in the fridge, and then took them out and did my tests. Drink A is very pink in color, much brighter of a color than drink B, and has a very tart flavor, with a slightly bitter edge to it. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and falls somewhere in between the Hint waters, where you can barely taste the fruit, and juice. It’s right in the middle, and provides a nice moderation.Drink B is a tepid pink color, and tastes sweet. I don’t really taste dragonfruit unless I taste a big gulp of it, and it’s got less complexities than the other one. It’s mainly sweet, but I can get the idea of it. There’s a different sweetness to this one, where drink A was getting a fresh, sweet flavor, this one is mainly sugary and a little more watery. For some reason, I also got a cane sugar flavor in it, too, but that might just be wishful thinking.Drink A, as you might have guessed, was Vitamin Water Power C, and drink B was the Kirkland Signature brand. Though I’m generally one to defend the little guy, Vitamin Water has it down quite well. Here’s an interesting fact, though. The flavor, though top notch, is no match for the vitamins in KS’s water. For all the health and wellness Vitamin Water promotes, there’s 150 calories in the bottle and plenty of sugar, but Kirkland Signature has none at all. The winrar is Vitamin Wataaaar.WINNER: VITAMIN WATER

We’ll see how the next few rounds go.

What would you do? Also, here’s an extremely asinine article about how phallic Gatorade and Vitamin Water bottles are. Latent daddy issues, anyone? I see no resemblance other than it’s a freaking drink bottle. Jesus.

So, readers, do you see the peen? And what do you think of Vitamin Waters, anyhow? I’m personally addicted. Got the ass barcode and everything.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

On a recent outing, I noticed that- gasp! There was a fast food restaurant in my immediate vicinity that I had not yet been to! Similar to my Chick-Fil-A cherry popping and my Denny’s deflowering, Massachusetts has shown me a plethora of foodstuffs that have been eating me up and down, and thus, it was settled between myself, Erik, and our friend Fleeper one night that we would deign our latest adventure the Red Robin ravishing.

Red Robin is an extremely popular joint. I wasn’t surprised, but I was surprised when I was told, the first time Erik and I tried to go, that there was a 45 minute wait. Fuck that. This time there was a more modest five minutes, and we were actually able to sit, but either Holyoke really does have absolutely nothing other than the Red Robin, which we all must pay homage to, or it’s just that good.I had the raspberry limeade to drink, and it was very cool and refreshing. I tasted more generic fruit than raspberry or lime, but there was a sour flavor from the lime. I wish that there was more of a distinct mingling of flavors instead of such a generic “FRUIT” taste to it, but there was something refreshing to it that was very tasty. They used syrups instead of a mix, and after mixing it all up, it was quite tasty. However, be wary of the uneven distribution prior to mixing up the syrup!I ordered the Santa Fe burger, and decided to customize the shit out of it. Having seen what Red Robin is capable of, I thought that their menu could have been more organized in the way of boasting the customized side. I mean, they practically shove it in your face, and yet, on the menu, there’s only a blip about how you can make it any way you want. I’d have liked to see a more comprehensive list of the toppings, sauces, and meats listed, like a pizza chart, so that I could pick and choose. However, it was not to be, so I simply chose a burger that looked good and then added and subtracted various toppings from there.

That burger happened to be the Santa Fe burger, originally advertised as a burger on an onion bun with lettuce, guacamole, pepper jack cheese, tortilla strips, sauteed onions, Poblano peppers, and chipotle mayonnaise. Now, I’m sold with anything that has chipotle mayonnaise on it, so I was hooked. I’m less than partial to burgers, though, so I got mine with a chicken fillet, and no lettuce, pepper, or onions. I also substituted the regular steak fries for the garlic parmesan fries.The burger was extremely tasty. It was also massive! Huge in diameter and height, there was no skimping on any of the toppings. So, piece by piece. The bun was nothing spectacular. There was no real oniony flavor or distinction from a regular bun, which was a disappointment, but I wasn’t expecting anything exciting. I didn’t want a ciabatta because that would have given a different flavor, but this was average. It might have been nice if there was more firmness, because all the toppings kept spilling out haphazardly, and I had to do some improvisational scooping to get it all back in place.The burger, essentially, was like a giant appetizer platter on a sandwich. If the peppers had come with cream cheese, we’d be all set. The chicken was perfectly breaded with a nice crispy flour crust, and nothing else to really set it off, and wasn’t soggy in any places. It was a large piece, too, and a good part of it hung off the edge of the sandwich. The guacamole, combined with the chipotle mayo, was absolutely sinful as a spread. I loved the coolness of the flavors against the hot chicken, and the extra spice and tang was perfection. Finishing off the sandwich, on the bottom of the bun, were the tortilla strips, in three different colors, and those added a fantastic crunch to the burger and a lovely cornmeal flavor to compliment the chicken’s breading. I couldn’t detect the pepper jack cheese at all.I loved the burger. It was perfect. Everything I’d have wanted and more, and I was so pleased to have such a wide array of toppings to play around with. The fries were also good- very crispy and golden brown and fresh from the fryer, but the parmesan and garlic seemed like it was applied with a shovel, it was on so thick, and I didn’t taste any parm at all. I got a ton of chopped garlic, to the point where it almost was too intense for me, but I would have liked to see some freshly shaved cheese on it, to melt onto the fries, or even baked onto them to provide an extra crunch. The garlic was just too thick and I had to take some off. Perhaps a garlic aioli might have been better.Overall, though, a great experience. I couldn’t finish anything, but desperately wanted to, and I’ll be back again to try more of Red Robin’s selections.

Capri Chocolate Goat Cheese

Recently, I was sent some goat cheese from Westfield Farm, in Westfield, Massachusetts, including chocolate goat cheese. I’d tried this at a tasting at Whole Foods and fell in love, and when I was sent a log of it, couldn’t wait to try it with a small recipe.The cheese is very soft, and has the texture of a nice cream cheese. It’s firm, but melts very quickly and would make a fantastic fondue. The flavor, like most goat cheeses, is slightly chalky, but slowly goes away when the chocolate, a rich Dutch milk, comes through. It’s a very milky, very creamy and succulent flavor that really gets down deep into the taste buds. There’s a buttery flavor in the cheese that adds a hint of salt, and overall, makes it wonderful.
I feel like this cheese isn’t like regular goat cheeses in that it’s also really versatile- I could spread it on a bagel. I could make it into a frosting, or whip it into a cheesecake filling. I feel like it lends itself to a whole lot more variations of cooking simply based on its flavor depth, which makes it that much more awesome.With this little recipe, we made canapes with shortbread and strawberries, and the flavors mingled together well. The strawberries cut out a lot of the chalkiness from just tasting the goat cheese alone, and the crumbliness of the shortbread made it really wonderful. I loved this recipe, and I loooooooooved this goat cheese. It’s like the best sex ever, on top of the Moon.

Askinosie Soconusco 75% Dark Chocolate Bar

I got a package from Askinosie Chocolates today, with five of their best bars, and I’m kicking off the reviews with a 75% dark chocolate bar using a bean from Mexico. It’s a single origin bean, and goes straight to the bar. The packaging is adorable and looks like a brown paper back and is made from all biodegradable and sustainable sources as well. Plus, it’s very catchy and “secret mission- chocolate” looking. I love it. This would definitely catch my eye in a store.The bar itself is separated into fifteen squares spelling out “Askinosie Chocolate,” and damn, if I don’t want to play Scrabble with those! It’s a very long, thin bar, and I like the separation into smaller squares as opposed to larger pieces.The first thing I smelled, all over my hands, when I took this out of the bag was Anaheim chiles. And I said that, to nobody in particular. “Anaheim chiles.” I looked insane. And that’s also the first thing you taste. A burst of spice, a very distinct pop, and then the bar mellows out. It’s a slow melt to this one, but after the pop, the heat lingers a little. It’s interesting, because this isn’t a bar that particularly features or even contains chiles, but just the way that it was cultivated made it contain those notes fascinates me. It finishes off with that quintessential and wonderful dark chocolate bitter end that “DC” aficionados lust for, the climax that leaves you begging for more. It’s bitter, but mingles enough with the sugar to not leave a sour, milky edge on your tongue.
Anyhow, that heat stays with you during the entire bar, but up in the front of your mouth, there is a veritable smooth party. No Parisian cafes were harmed in the making of this bar, but they came pretty damned close. There are creamy, coffee flavors, reminding me of a nice dark roast, and the texture is sublime. There’s no grittiness to speak of, and the sweetness and bitter mingle together perfectly.

I am so excited to try the other bars! This could make me more of a dark chocolate accolade yet. Any dark chocolate lovers here?

Logo!

Dear Techies,

I need a little help with Blogger troubleshooting. I have a beautiful logo, courtesy of my generous friend Dr. D, and now I can’t use it in the corner, where the boring text is. Blogger puts it there as a too large image, or cuts it off when I tell it to shrink to fit. Any way to rectify this or redo the entire page altogether? I would love to get rid of Blogger’s stodgy interface!Foodette

Denny’s Grand Slamwich (And Cherry Limeade)

Last night, I went with some friends to Denny’s as a late-night treat before an exam, so I decided to split a Grand Slamwich and a Cherry Limeade. I’d never been to Denny’s before, so this was quite an experience for me.I liked Denny’s range of menu items, but I wish their taste in music was better. Honestly, I would have ordered their late night selection if it wasn’t for their silly names, like the “Hooburrito” and “Jewel’s Acoustic Smoked Chicken Quesadilla”. So we decided to get the Grand Slamwich and split it, along with a cherry limeade, because any place with a cherry limeade must be ordered.

So while waiting, we had the cherry limeade. It wasn’t bad, it was just a little too much Sprite. And I don’t know if the Sprite was supposed to constitute the “lime” of the limeade, but I think that was a bit of a cop out. It wasn’t very evenly mixed, and tasted like a bad Shirley Temple instead of a good cherry limeade, even after squeezing the lemon and lime into the juice.The sandwich arrived, and it was impressive.With three meats- sausage, ham, bacon, two spreads- mayo and maple spice on top, and scrambled egg with cheese, it looks pretty appetizing. Like a gourmet McGriddle, with hash browns, too, nonetheless. Half a sandwich was definitely an ample portion for both myself and Erik, as it was very big. With the hash browns, you could down an elephant for a reasonable price. I salted and peppered the hash browns and ate. The hash browns were crispy and golden on top, which always makes me happy, and were tasty. Nothing to write home about, but they were tender and were a lovely compliment to the sandwich.
The sandwich itself was a massive disappointment. It’s not that it was bad, or anything, but I was really underwhelmed and unimpressed. For something that touts so many ingredients, I’d never tasted something with so little flavor. I mean, really, you’d think that with all the frying and sweetness and salty balance, there would have been flavor, but my overall impression was boring. It was a boring sandwich with exciting ingredients, and that was just a pity. Even after salting and peppering it, it was boring. There was not enough maple spice spread and sweetness, and I’d have liked some extra maple flavor, overall. The sandwich was quite moist and the eggs were perfectly cooked, though. I didn’t find that any of the particular ingredients were very noticeable or extraordinary, though, and for a sandwich connoisseur, what a shame that is.

Make your own sandwich. It might not look as pretty as the Grand Slamwich, but it’ll probably taste better. Any crazy late-night, greasy spoons in your area? (Or even a Denny’s?)

Kellogg’s Special K Fruit Crisps

The Foodette is eating a vaguely healthy treat! Sound the alarms! It’s not a Slurpee! My mother will have a heart attack! No, seriously, she’ll flip a shit and call me on my cell phone. But this post is in honor of a special event. I have to start eating healthy for a higher cause, and it’s not Jesus or macaroni and cheese or a new job.
It’s my new child, Oscar.

I bought a fish yesterday, or rather, I traded a sandwich for him, and no, it wasn’t tuna. And to take care of him, I have vowed to live a better life.

So, in honor of that, I am kicking off with a post on the lietastic lies of Kellogg’s Special K Fruit Crisps. They’re all well and good, but they’re missing one specific ingredient, and I just don’t understand them. I checked the ingredient package over and over, and I couldn’t find Special K anywhere in the ingredients. I can’t tell what it’s for. I know that Kellogg’s uses the K, as we call it on the streets, as a dietary mechanism to “lose 6 pounds in two weeks!” and the like, but is it also their branding pet name, too?
Aside from that, these are not a bad snack. The box proclaims that there are ten in each package, but, of course, that just means that there are five packs with two crisps in each. I can’t stand that. The crisps themselves remind me of the Nature Valley granola bars, and they’re rather delicate, to the point of where I wouldn’t want to toss this in a lunchbag or backpack without worrying that it would be smooshed and crumbled by the time I opened it.

As for the eponymous “fruit crisp,” it’s a pretty appetizing name, evoking Aunt Betty’s blueberry crisp in August, or whatever. Obviously, this tastes nothing like that, but makes me crave that summer treat nonetheless. The fruit texture on the inside tastes like the overbaked fruit part of Betty’s crisp that gets just slightly gummy with the extra pectin, and is very chewy. It’s like Kellogg’s tried to bake a fruit snack inside an overly sugary shell and called it a day. They weren’t inedible, but the shell is too crunchy and far too sugary, and the frosting is the coup de grace for your teeth’s eventual demise.
If I were making improvements to this, I would choose to make this closer to the family of an actual fruit crisp- with a more oat-based crust, no frosting, more molasses oriented flavors, and some whole grains. I loved the crispiness of the crust, and didn’t mind the texture of the fruit, but it was the artificial flavors that really took away from the tastes of the fruits and made both the strawberry and blueberry taste the same- very fake. It’s a shame these couldn’t have been improved upon. How are you eating healthily this year?

Giveaway: 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars!

Dear readers,

I have a giveaway for you! Spring has finally sprung in Western Massachusetts, and I am so freaking excited that I am giving away something awesome. Mars has sent me an entire case of 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars, 24 of them, and I am giving away 12 gift packages of them, with two bars in each, to 12 lucky readers.I have something very exciting coming down the pike with 3 Musketeers and I’m working with their team for another giveaway, so this is just a small taste (literally, ha ha) of what’s coming in the near future!
Here are the rules!

All I want YOU to do is comment and tell me what your favorite candy as a child was (or is, if you’re a kid now) I want stories, people!

One entry per person.

No entries after Monday, March 1st, 12:00 AM.

Winners will be randomly selected and announced the Tuesday after!

Happy contesting!

Foodette

Whippers Twisted Smoothie Drinks

Here’s a quiz, readers. What demographic is the Whippers beverage line catering to? Health-conscious and “green” dominatrices with a soul? Whipped boyfriends in need of a pick me up? Whippet aficionados? Victims of whiplash? Either way, they’re a little confusing.

When I saw them in the grocery store for 99 cents apiece, I thought they’d be the drunken one night stand of a juice box and a Yoplait Whip, reviewed here on Cheap Eats, and that, when shaken, they’d get fluffy and “whipped up.” Turns out, they’re nothing like that. They’re just…a twisted smoothie. Milk…and juice. Isn’t that what a smoothie’s supposed to be? Milk and juice? Whippers are touting that like it’s the holy fucking grail and how shaking that will create some incredible amalgam of combination, like an a-bomb of flavor in our mouths, when in reality it’s like the lazy man’s Jamba Juice.
I’m here to judge the taste, though, not the mildly retarded advertising campaign and slogans, which I will also be more than glad to thoroughly rip apart. Starting with the Strawberries and Cream flavor- oh, for the love of god, why is it brown? It’s like someone took off-brand Pepto-Bismol and vomited it back up. It’s tepid. I drank it out of my little shot glass, though, and wasn’t too upset. I expected serious chalkiness and a thickness that I couldn’t attribute, probably from actual chalk, but what I got was liquid smooth, and a nice flavor, albeit a little watery, but indeed, one that did embody both strawberries and milk. It was artificial. But it was both. And that’s all we asked it to do.Derrida said, “I do everything I think possible or acceptable to escape from this trap.” Obviously, the trap in question was the Orange and Cream flavored Whipper. Admiral Ackbar, it’s a trap. It’s a giant, fucking trap hidden inside this St. Joseph’s baby aspirin-flavored thing.
The smoothie looks innocuous. It looks like someone, maybe a sweet child with an adorable speech impediment dropped their creamsicle into my shot glass and left it to melt on a nice, summer day, and now it’s here for me to drink.

WHY IS IT BITTER? For the love of God, why is it bitter and tangy? It tastes like sour milk. I checked the sell date on this, it’s like, three years from now. There is no reason this should taste like orange rind and sour milk. It’s a smoothie, not a torture device. Oh god, make it go away.With my friend Swagger, we realized the key to all knowledge blueberry. It sounds like it will taste fantastic in a drink, but after you take the first swig, you realize how little it actually does translate. It’s the literal embodiment of Lost in Translation. That’s exactly what they were talking about in the film. Blueberry flavored drinks. This smoothis is pretty average, but then the “acai” flavor hits you after. I have had dried acai berries in Whole Foods as a sample. They were dry and tasted like the sampling man had handed me cut up bits of bitter plastic instead of tasty berries. The flavor of acai is a slightly acidic, nutty, and very sharp at the end, and cut through the blueberry and milk flavor when I swallowed it, and made me question the milk’s freshness. But no, it was just the damned miracle berry.

I couldn’t finish this berry because the acai just kept turning me off of it. I want normal fruits. I don’t care about the energy. The blueberry and cream aspect would have been nice if the flavors were more natural and cultivated, but the fact of the matter is, it’s an artificial drink trying to imitate many others, and it’s pretty gross.

Whippers. I hate that name. What do you put in your smoothies, readers?