Love Bites Café, Saugerties, NY

A few weeks back, Keepitcoming Love and I found ourselves in the Hudson Valley for an auction with some fantastic friends, P and D, and had spent a fantastic evening with them. When morning came, we had to get back, but figured we’d poke around Saugerties and get a bite to eat before returning home.

The Love Bites Café was unanimously recommended, a tiny restaurant evocative of a funky New York studio kitchen, and we sat down to find a rather unique and interesting menu. Though the two of us were decidedly in breakfast mode (and the wild boar provided temptation unleashed), I was definitely aching for something sweet, while Love ordered a savory dish, deciding on a modified Eggs Benedict with herbed hollandaise sauce on top of zucchini and corn cakes. I chose a carrot coconut french toast with lemon zest butter and syrup.As we listened to an eclectic mix of music, most notably Richard Cheese’s “Summertime,” we drank a good, strong coffee that was hot and fresh and went well with breakfast. Our plates came and were both very large and interestingly shaped, Love’s accompanied by a green salad. The eggs with corn cakes were really indulgent, with a bright yellow yolk that spilled out onto the plate and was mopped up by the corn cakes. The entire bite, which was admittedly difficult to consume with a fork, was delicious and salty, yielding a wide range of textures from the soft eggs to the creamy, fresh tang of the sauce, to the crispiness of the corn and zucchini cakes. With the salad, which I did not try, it was a savory and delightful composition.My french toast was a smashing surprise. I expected a compote of carrots and coconut, or perhaps a coating, but instead, I received french toast made out of carrot and coconut bread. This created a dense and tender quickbread that I soaked in syrup and lemon butter. Three thick pieces of bread made for an incredibly tasty and interesting flavor, and filled me up very quickly.The only criticism I had for the french toast was that there wasn’t really a detectable coconutty flavor, but it might have been present in the texture of the bread more than the taste. Still very crunchy and delicious. I liked that it wasn’t an overly sweet dish, and instead relied on the more natural flavors of the vegetables and fruits to sweeten it. This restaurant was a real gem, and was wild and willin’ in all its aspects.

Cocoa Dolce Wine Truffles

I harbor an ardent appreciation for alcohol, I’d say. Sure, I love a good G and T, but for someone my age, I can’t say I’ve ever passed out and woken up topless covered in vomit and underpants next to someone named Dirk, or done a keg stand, or found myself featured in Facebook photos involving wet t-shirts, bears, and sweet tongue action. Doing any of those things scares me more than perusing the makeup section of a store for mascara.

From an early age, I’ve grown up to appreciate and cultivate a knowledge and love for wine, courtesy of my father. This has made me even more popular in my early adulthood, especially at parties. I waltz around telling people to discuss the nose on their Natty Lite and ogle the legs on the sides of the glass instead of the sides of the room. Yeah, I’m a real hit. But it’s definitely made my palate rather discerning, and when I’m offered a chance to combine my love for food and wine, I often leap at the opportunity.This came across in the form of Cocoa Dolce’s wine truffles. I saw them on their website and knew I had to try them out. They were really beautiful little truffles, with painted designs on each one to designate the flavor and wine. There were six in total, little cubes of dark chocolate in a 57% dark chocolate ganache, some with custard and some with ginger, featuring Port, Shiraz, Zinfandel, Cab Sauvignon, Malbec, and a Gewurztraminer.I’d have liked to review each individual truffle, but the truth was, there wasn’t much difference in each flavor. There were very few subtleties in the flavors and textures, and while each truffle was a delicious ganache with a rich, smoky, creamy flavor, the real selling point of these, the wine flavors, was just not detectable. With the notable exception of the Gewurztraminer, carrying a potent and spicy gingery crunch, there was no wine to be found at all. Definitely a shame, as I was looking forward to seeing the rich combinations that the chocolatiers had thought of. This never deters me from seeking out more wine and chocolate, though.

Three Sister’s Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Here’s another selection from Three Sister’s Chocolate, in this case, a bag of their chocolate covered popcorn. When I go to the movies, I can’t say that I’m a big fan of popcorn. At the exorbitant rates, it’s much easier for me to go to the Walgreens across the street, stuff my pants with Arizona Iced Tea and gummy bears, and try to convince the movie gestapo that I’m pregnant.This is a popcorn that I’d be perfectly happy eating shirtless in lounge pants, something that the cinema no longer allows me to do, and enjoy it with a movie of my own, like Dr. Strangelove or a good episode of Daria. For a small bag, there’s a lot of popcorn in here. The pieces were stuck together in bits of six, eight, or ten, with a thick layer of chocolate, almost leaning towards a truffle or bar than simply earning the designation of “covered.”The chocolate is very smooth and rich, imparting an intensely chocolatey flavor on the popcorn without getting brittle or waxy, and it bites off cleanly. The popcorn is salty and buttery and seems to be comprised entirely of mushroom pieces, or the giant spheres of popcorn that are usually best for coated flavors. For a very simple concept, this was executed perfectly, and I found myself really craving it as I ate. Even in the individual pieces, I never encountered a bite that wasn’t entirely coated in chocolate. It was wonderful and yielded a perfect balance of salty and sweet. I’d love to see more flavor combinations executed with this level of artistry, because I enjoyed eating this a lot.

Lean Cuisine BBQ Chicken Quesadilla

Lean Cuisine is one of those companies that tries really, really hard to think outside of the box. It talks a big game, like guests on the Maury show with scripted roles of out-of-control teens and pregnant babymamas with fears of pickles. The packaging promises flavors that are relatively exciting and outrageous, but behind the box, they’re kind of scripted and a little boring.Take this barbecue chicken quesadilla, for example. It proclaims, like most absent fathers, to be bold and exciting and free, and full of flavors that will FUCKING BLOW YOUR MIND, like barbecued chicken and roasted corn and peppers and cheese, but like the penises of said dads, proves itself to be limp and uninteresting. The ingredients were haphazardly combined, and the meal was unsubstantial. However, one of the best elements of the entire meal was the roasted corn, which had a slight char in the small pieces I dissected and gave a smoked flavor to the sandwich.The bread was lame. There wasn’t enough meat in the quesadilla. This lack of substance recalled Maury episodes where the highlight fifteen seconds of the paternity tests are played over and over as a teaser before commercial breaks. They also use this technique on To Catch A Predator. The chicken was hyped up, and there was barely any at all. It was really more of a barbecued vegetable quesadilla, and if it was just that, I would have been satisfied, but this promised about as much as a daytime soap- bland and with a cast of characters that I would have rather put out of my mind. I won’t be turning to this again as a source of entertainment.

Written with Keepitcoming Love.

Oscar Mayer Deli Creations Flatbread Sandwich: Buffalo-Style Ranch Chicken

I don’t know about you, but “buffalo-style ranch chicken” is some of the most awkward phrasing I’ve ever encountered. To be honest, I was a little worried about trying this, too, once I discovered that the sauce wasn’t really hot sauce, but buffalo flavored ranch sauce. Can America not take the heat? Is chicken, bacon and ranch not good enough? Why do the scientists in the ranch industry never cease their endless lust for ranch permutations?And why are the kids in Hidden Valley, home of ranch itself, such little assholes?

These are the questions that force me out of bed at night when I just want to dream of international hedge funds and a possible mutual investment in Tastykake. Seriously. But back to this sandwich. It’s a good sized flatbread that comes with chicken pieces, cheese, and this sauce. Relatively simple.Oscar Mayer does not skimp on the meat with any of their products, and where I was filled with trepidation over the chicken, my fears were soon assuaged. It microwaves up nicely and cooks evenly, without getting rubbery or strange in the process. Covering it with cheese seals the deal, and honestly, this is the only sandwich I’ve had by them so far where the cheese plays a legitimate role in the overall composition. The Monterey Jack is smooth and tangy and makes nice strands when I took a bite.The sauce wasn’t terrible at all, to my surprise. On the flatbread, which was crispy at the edges and pillowy soft, like na’an, in the middle, it folded without breaking and the sauce soaked in well and didn’t really leak out. The ranch didn’t weaken it or make it less tasty, either, and I found myself appreciating the pairing, like having something to dip my wings in without the messiness of eating actual wings. The sauce had an adequate spiciness and blended well with the rest of the flavors, creating something interesting and delicious that I’d definitely get again.

Blue Diamond Almonds Bold Jalapeno Smokehouse

Gigi covered the nut jokes with yesterday’s review on Sehale barbecue almonds, but damn it, I am going to try as hard as I can to keep this review clean. Not gonna happen. Besides, I already used up all my good nut jokes on CH by telling him I was going to go photograph my nuts and post them on the internet.

So the nuts that I’ve tried today are supposedly “bold.” I’m a bold person. My neighbor once described me as “not the ass-wiping type” for a job interview. So, being a fan of a spicy and barbecue combination, I was intrigued. Swagger has also tried to get me onto eating more almonds, because he’s a fan of snacking on them while he works. The serving size for these is thirty, and to be quite honest, that’s enough for me. There are quite a lot in the canister, too. I thought thirty would deplete the supply for sure and allow three or four servings at the most, but I find that there’s roughly six servings, enough to eat alone, little by little, or share with friends.People, these are damned good nuts. What I like about the entire product like is the ingenuity in flavors. There’s a Maui onion and garlic one I’d love to try, and the spicy ones are very flavorful and are indeed, somewhat bold, but they’re more bold in flavor than intensity.Opening the canister, I immediately smelled the ever-present scent of roller derbies, casino food courts, and monster truck rallies. Not sweat, shame, or Yankee Candle, but cheap barbecue chips. Really, really cheap chips. And a slightly spicy aroma, too. The almonds are crispy and nice to eat, but the first nut is really the only spicy one. It’s the strongest in heat of all the varieties, but as far as a lasting burn goes, there isn’t much of one at all. To their credit, there’s a very seamless transition between the two flavors, neither one being too vinegary or too smoky, and the smokiness did taste like it would have gone well with potato chips. I’m not sure if I’d buy this exact flavor again, because I was looking for something a little spicier, but it’s a very flavorful and savory snack that I’m intrigued to see more of.

Buffalo Wild Wings Hot Garlic

With the disadvantages of packing up and moving, there are also a number of exciting new ventures to experience. For instance, the sudden appearance of a Foodette crafted world, once scattered, now in the palm of my hand on the stretch of route 9. Our Target was 25 minutes away. Now it’s five, in Hadley. Our Trader Joe’s was a half hour away. Now it’s a mere bus ride to get to all the chocolate chipotle hazelnuts that I want. And where our closest Buffalo Wild Wings was a ten to fifteen minute drive, depending on traffic, and in an obnoxious part of town, I can now saunter over to the sexy strip mall and get wings at my luxury. Or have them delivered to my dorm.

With this new lassitude and complete lack of personal health and awareness, I would go with friends and order a new flavor of wings to see which place in Amherst was the best to get for the best value. Let me precede this by saying that BWW is, by no means, a good value. It’s overpriced for its food. But with a sauce like spicy garlic, there was no passing it up.

An order of twelve wings yielded a pleasant surprise- they can follow orders. I asked for all flats, well done, my standard, and that’s what they gave me. Compare this to Wings Over, a college favorite that refuses to customize orders, and you have my signature, signing my soul away to the BWW conglomerate and corporate offices. Bastards.The spicy garlic sauce is delicious. It’s very garlicky and salty and delivers a good buzz of heat, too. It comes out looking like a vodka sauce with a fantastic kick, and it’s in that rare instance when you can actually taste both flavors that the sauce advertises. However, my one main gripe is that this is offputtingly thick. Like, corn starch is the main ingredient thick. Where the wings were, at one point, crispy, like when I first started eating them, they became soggy in a matter of minutes with this sauce. It’s gloppy and gooey and adheres to the wings as good as any super glue, but texturally, really throws me off the sauce. The flavor can be the ashes of Tupac, but if it looks and feels like an anal lubricant, then baby, I ain’t there.

This is really a shame, too, because as more of a glaze or a regular dip, I could see myself buying this by the bottle. I just don’t see the texture as working out as a staple in my culinary exploits, though, as it really doesn’t seem to go with anything at all.

Doritos 3rd Drgree Burn: Scorchin’ Habanero

It’s the last of the Doritos Burn line, and it couldn’t be a more appropriate time now that summer is setting in. By now, you may have all guessed that I sort of hate weather. Well, not all weather. Just the weather that happens to offend me beyond a degree of lazing outside in my boxers or leather jacket. I love taking strolls around town and driving with the windows down. But a few days ago I was eating breakfast outside with Keep It Coming, Love, and in no more than fifteen minutes, I was already getting a little color.

My point is, I’m a delicate flower. I’m in a consistent battle to defend myself and my pure, Swedish skin against the elements, be they cold, lip-chapping wind or blistering, sweaty heat. That doesn’t stop me from rocking and rolling all night and partying every day, though. Today I got a beach permit and ate these Doritos, leftover from the stuff I’d brought home. And with a package like those, I suddenly felt more like a flower made of barbed wire and steel.To be quite honest, they’re probably really good to carry around if one is in the habit of picking up chicks. They have flames all over them. They say “3rd Degree.” Everything about these fucking epitomizes the very definition of machismo. Just put on your bloodied Hell’s Angels vest and go wrestle a leather dragon or something and then fuck a diamond hooker. But as macho as they seem, they’re roughly as tough as Jesus stroking a retarded puppy, or Jon Gosselin’s cock ring. They’re bright red and have a crisp and really accurate habanero pepper flavor, but really, not a lot of heat as 3rd degree implies.The underlying flavor is really just spicy nacho, with more cheesy flavor acting as the base than actual peppers, and with the corn chip flavor, it really didn’t remind me of anything particularly peppery outside of the general nacho jurisdiction. Definitely weak and less complex and innovative as the 1st Degree. As with all Doritos, the crunch is great and it’s always a blast to get one of those mutantly overseasoned chips, but par for the course, there’s a lot less color and flavor on these than I’d have liked.

Harvest Hot Crunch

Dollar store selections are pretty hit or miss. Of course, I’m talking about pregnancy tests. Two for a dollar? What a deal! I’ve stocked up into the next week. You never know when those will come in handy. I can use them like MacGuyver.

But even more worrisome is the food selection. You have your standard potted meat, please, I’ve tried that shit, but then you get to the creepy snacks, like the Barbie gummies where the faces are all melted off from the heat or the potato snacks with Bible verses on every bag. It’s hard to find something edible and with less of a 70% chance of food poisoning.Swagger and I took an adventure, though, and managed to weed through the irregulars to find the almighty Hot Crunch. What is Hot Crunch, you ask? It’s the poor man’s Flamin’ Cheetos, or so I thought. No, they were better. Where the Cheetos were sprayed with a good red to make them at least visible from outer space, the Hot Crunch was practically nuclear. There was flavor dust all over these babies, and it was delicious. The crunch was soft, but not mushy, and there were pieces ranging from a few inches long to tiny pieces on the bottom of the bag that you’d tip into your mouth.The heat in these was pretty lingering, too. These weren’t wimpy or skimpy, in my opinion. There was a good cheese flavoring underneath the heat, and a slight vinegar tang, but these were mainly just hot and delicious. The entire bag was almost completely filled and lasted about two days at the Foodette compound. A good purchase for its flavor and value.

Cheater 5 Salsas

I realize that I’m a few days late on spicy week, but rest assured, this is a good one. Hot sauces, people. A good hot sauce is like a good woman. Or so I’d think. I spent hours this weekend analyzing films, literature, and real live human beings to discover this ethereal connection and report back to you.I was recently sent a selection of sauces called Cheater 5, in three different varieties. The first sauce I tried was their taco sauce, a bright red concoction with pieces of pepper bobbing around in the salsa. This salsa was sweet, and not as spicy as I’d have liked, but knew how to talk. It had a sweet fade and a delicious aroma that I wanted, ever so much, to dab on my wrists and imbibe. If this salsa was a woman, she would be the kind who takes impromptu road trips and knows how to cook a fantastic breakfast. The flavor lingers with a paprika edge and a tomatoey base, with a fantastic, natural peppery flavor on your tongue. Like the afterglow of talking on the phone with someone amazing for a really sweet 48 minutes, the flavor stays and continues to intrigue.

With this sauce, I’d definitely want a little more heat, but putting it with a taco meat base or just on top of a taco would bring it to a new level of gastronomical delight with its flavor. It would add a needed moisture to a dish with ground beef and the flavors would work well without dominating the rest of the dish. I’m not entirely sure as to how it would stand on its own as a salsa, unless you’re more into a friendly approach with your chips. The next sauce, a green salsa verde, is the classiest of the sauces. It’s a brilliant green color that makes heads turn and dishes pop. It has a nice, clean burn to it with a fresh, pepper scent and was definitely the most social of all the sauces. It played well with others the most, mingling best with the chicken I marinated it in and also the chicken I dipped it in, and seemed like it would go the best as an accompaniment to chips, on a sandwich as a sauce, or as a marinade. This is the vibrant woman who pulls over on the side of the road to make out to Nights In White Satin and considers a cocktail dress casual dinner attire. The sauce made my mouth feel clean and snappy, and definitely accentuates the best of any dish. No less than 93 out of 100 for this one. A real classy and unabashedly awesome salsa.The last sauce by Cheater 5 was the caribbean sauce, a bright yellow color that wouldn’t be out of place in a certain Beatles album. This sauce sat on my face and slapped me with black leather gloves. It was fresh, like the salsa verde, but so overwhelmingly spicy that I had to step back because it was too hot for the internet. The innocuous color drew me in and then stomped on my back with pointy Manolo Blahniks.The most surprising aspect of this sauce is the rate at which the heat sets in. It nearly ambushes you with the slow burn. With other salsas, you can tell pretty quickly off the bat whether or not they’ll be really spicy or not, but this is a special sauce. It masks its inherent evil with papaya and mango and then goes in for a swift defeat, leaving you dazed, confused, and wanting just a little more. The heat makes me want to run a marathon to the sweet serenades of Slade. I found that after my first few bites, though, it was overwhelming and I needed something to dilute it with. I’m definitely going to experiment with this one more, with a marinade or perhaps mixed with another sauce to create something a little less intimidating. In a good way, though.