Sonic Red Velvet Cheesecake Blast

It’s like the turducken- three things that probably shouldn’t be together. Red velvet is one thing. The best thing. And cheesecake is another. Maybe the two could live in harmonious bliss, but then Sonic felt the need to bring in ice cream.

Why, Sonic, why? The concept was brilliant. Damn, just fry that shit in little cubes and you are golden. But in 30 degree weather, they put it in a Blast. A Blast, for those of you out of the radius of a friendly Sonic (suck it, Vermont!) is similar to a Frosty from Wendy’s or a McFlurry from McDonald’s. Do they even make those any more? Whatever. It’s a blended ice cream-shake combination with shit thrown in and flavorings. This particular libation resembles a little something I like to call “Elmo a la mode,” because it looks like the poor guy was tossed into a blender along with the rest of the dessert.

It comes in two sizes, regular and large. None of that matters, though, because regardless of size, you’re going to be sick of it after two bites. The shake comes with a languid blob of Cool Whip on top, an addition that seems to have permeated the shake with its hydrogenated mouthfeel and fake cream flavor. The entire thing seems to be infused with it. On top, and scattered throughout the shake, are little cheesecake pieces. The advertisement shows them with tiny bits of red velvet cake on top. This is what 19th century writers would later refer to as “pipe dreams.” They’re just cubes of cake. They’re tasty, but not worth muddling through the goo to find.I was warned the Blast, due to a new mix being recently put in, would run a little liquidy in my order. That was okay with me. Having expressed a past desire to hook myself up to a cake batter IV, this was the next best thing. It still came out dastardly thick, though. The ensuing shake was just unimpressive. If red velvet is named so because of its velvety texture, this was more like “red sandpaper” or “red off-brand condom, ribbed for her pleasure.” It was grainy and lumpy in places with little smoothness to show. David Chang’s red velvet soft serve this was not.

Hoping to get past the texture, I maneuvered a few spoonfuls far from the Cool Whip and tried it again. It tasted like a lethal combination of Cool Whip, weak cake batter novelty ice cream, and my old friend, Red Lake #40. We meet again. Why would anyone want to allocate 840 calories towards this monstrosity? It’s not even good. I ate about three spoonfuls before I got bored. I gave the rest to Swagger. He ate the whole thing.Despite harboring no desire to order this again, on top of a grudge from this replacing my beloved Southwestern Burrito, I am curious about the ingredient “red velvet cake syrup.” Where can I obtain some? What can I do with it?

McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

I go to McDonald’s for one thing: the McGriddle. It’s both paradoxical and frightening; where else can one consume three different breakfast products in one compact sandwich? Why would someone eat something like that before they were about to start their day, versus end their life?

It’s my favorite. So when I went into McDonald’s this morning with Dillinger and Swagger for a McThreesome of oatmeal courtesy of their lovely PR department, I was a little confused when I sat down to eat. Something’s not quite right, my subconscious whispered. This isn’t fried. There’s no grease dripping down your hands, nor a hint of peppery sausage goodness tucked into the folds of a square egg. What…is this?

It was oatmeal. And pretty good oatmeal at that. For $1.99 McDonald’s customers can now brave the cold without adding on excess blubber by ordering this. It’s plain oatmeal with brown sugar, apple chunks, raisins, and cranberries, and to my surprise, I found myself liking it.
Thankfully, the oatmeal is not oriented for a fast food consumer. That is, they haven’t felt the need to change it to adapt for a coronary conscious audience. And that’s a good thing. This tastes just like oatmeal I’d make at home, with the added benefit of fresh fruit and the option of getting other toppings I might not normally have on hand. I was especially impressed with the fruit. The apple chunks were plentiful and crispy, as though they’d been recently made to order for my dish, and there were enough raisins and cranberries to get a few in each bite. They were chewy and flavorful.

The oatmeal itself is nice and solid with that rib-sticking feeling you want in oatmeal. I found it pleasantly sweet without being sugary and cooked to a state of soft, creamy mush. Just the way I like it. What I didn’t understand was how the entire thing came out to 290 calories. With all the toppings, the oatmeal is 252g. I can make the same amount of oatmeal at home for about 200 calories using the same ingredients. Swagger’s guess was the sugar- a whopping 32 grams doesn’t exactly equate to health for me.

That being said, I’d order this again if I were to go back to McDonald’s for breakfast. But only if I didn’t have anything to make oatmeal with at home.

The Knishwich

Flannery O’Connor wrote that a good man is hard to find. In this day and age, I have a tendency to doubt that claim, but what I do know is that a good sandwich is hard to find. Pretty difficult, in fact. So on the whole, I tend to enjoy creating my own ‘wiches rather than taking a chance on a sandwich that could taste worse and cost more.

Today’s sandwich is simple and flirts with pan-grilling rather than using a panini machine. I found that I much preferred the results and that the sandwich developed a knish like crust, hence the name. It’s an easy sandwich and a delicious one. In conclusion, Sharkies.Knishwich
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 bulkie rolls, cut in half
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
2 slices of cheese (we used Kerry Dubliner)
8 slices deli-roasted chicken, cut in half to fit on the roll
4 tbsp leftover hash browns or roasted chunks of potato
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Thickly spread the mayonnaise on both halves of the roll, and the mustard on the top half of the roll. Put your cheese on the bottom half and pile the chicken on top. Put the hash browns on top of the mustard half and assemble the sandwiches. Put a heavy pot or foil-topped brick on top of both sandwiches and gently mash down.
2. While the sandwiches are pressing, heat up one tablespoon of your olive oil and put the top half down into the pan, adding your heavy object on top to press it down. I used a cast iron skillet to press because it provided even pressure on all sides. When the cheese is melting and the crust is hard and bubbled on top, flip and repeat until both sandwiches are done.
3. Cut in half and serve!It’s tooth-crackingly crispy and perfectly done. I definitely prefer the overall crust from the olive oil, which definitely created a more knish-like effect, than that of the scattered panini grill marks. Our cat was ambivalent to the entire experience.

King Leo Soft Pomegranate Puffs

Whoa, son, “soft right out of the box.” Probably great for these candies, not so much for Justin Timberlake and a certain SNL song, if you know what I’m sayin’.

You know what I’m sayin’.

Anyhow, these were some puffs from King Leo that I did not want to pass on. Despite being more of the “hugs not drugs” type, I know my puff. This is not a puff. It’s a hard candy. I expected these to be the love child of melting restaurant mints after the check comes and marshmallows, conceived to a soundtrack of Billy Squier’s “My Kind Of Lover,” but this was not the case. It was less of a beautiful hybrid and more of a discounted mutt with a heart, harboring a mediocre texture with a fascinating flavor.The pomegranate flavor of these starts out accurate, like sucking on a few fresh pomegranate seeds, but then turns acidic and a little bitter and invades the mouth as the puff breaks apart. I really enjoyed sucking on the outer shell before it separated. It’s difficult to bite into these because they seem to have a thin candy shell, like that of the Earth’s, before exposing the inner core. It’s an odd texture, because after it gets soft in your mouth (whoa!) it pills off in small pieces and dissolves shortly after. One puff is just enough because after that it’s just sour and sweet enough to adequately satiate.This is the most accurate pomegranate flavor I’ve had in a candy, and for that, I would order these again. On someone else’s bill. However, get this essence into pomegranate chews or smokeable rocks or something because the puff is not a matching vessel for the flavor.

Q.Bel Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Wafer Bars

I think there are aspects of my adult development that are coming in at a delayed rate. About a month ago, I made a date with a stranger whose name I knew only by email so that we could meet in a public place in my hometown for the sole purpose of him giving me candy. Yes, I planned an event that culminated in scarfing down candy from a stranger.

And it was pretty great and far less sketchy than I’m telling it. The stranger in question was Damien Del Monte, a company representative, and the candy was Q.Bel, a high-end, natural chocolate bar in plenty of flavors and forms.This is one of five different wafers, and happens to be my favorite flavor of chocolate pairings: peanut butter coated in milk chocolate. The two wafers are quite substantial, roughly twice the width of a Kit-Kat and around the same length. From the first bite, it’s clear that this isn’t on the level of your average Hershey bar. The wafers are crispy, but have a softer texture to them, like an ice cream cake cone, that really melds with the chocolate. The peanut butter is creamier than the quintessentially crumbly Reeses’, but boosts the saltiness and natural flavor, reminding me of the all-natural peanut butter that needs to be stirred. I wish it had more of the graininess and grit, but it’s a smooth and melty texture. It reminds me of the Edward Marc truffles I tried last year, with more of a creme-like blend than all peanut butter.The chocolate runs on the sweeter side of milk chocolate, and like most, tends to be rather one-dimensional, but plays nicely with the peanut butter and creates a soft shell that surrounds the wafers in a compact sandwich. This is definitely a chocolate I’d get over Hershey bars or Butterfingers when I wasn’t ready to break out the big guns, like Amano, but was still craving something sweet and bolder. The care in production and ingredients are worth the extra few cents. Next time: we help a man with mirrored sunglasses and a porn ‘stache in a white van find his lost puppy.

Me and Goji Custom Artisanal Cereal: PB&J Poon

It’s Christmas, people. A time for reflection, familial bonding (in whatever form,) and rampant, rabid indulgence. Gifts. Food. Booze. And in some cases, blatantly useless yet fascinating gifts that we must have right now. One of these gifts is from Me and Goji, a customized blend of artisanal cereal that you create and they make. Imagine a gift along the lines of mixing all the remnants of the boxes of Post cereal together, but jacked up about thirty notches and thirty dollars. It’s a very simple concept- pick a base, add-ins, fruit and nuts, and a name for your cereal box.

Oh, wait. Did I say cereal box? My mistake, I’m rather gauche. This is, as M&G would say, a cereal capsule. The capsule, straight out of Star Trek: The Last Enterprise, was “influenced by modern-minimalist interior design” in a bold move to create not a mere vessel, but an art piece that one could display to friends and President Obama. There was also an option to add an image to the packaging. In that spirit, I customized my cereal capsule with a festive self-portrait.My cereal contained a base of choco granola, a double dosage of chocolate covered peanuts, goldenberries, raspberries, chocolate chips and chocolate covered goji. I named it PB&J Poon, for the discerning adult palate looking to combine coitus with comfort. Comfort is a key point as this contains 199.5 calories per half cup serving with 286.3 of those calories coming from fat. Wait, what?That’s right.

Opening the capsule, it’s clear that this is the champagne of breakfast cereals. Best paired with a 1962 Petrus, I’m sure, but a cocktail of Suduiraut and Veuve Clicquot (pictured) will do in a pinch. It’s crammed with goodies and filled 3/4ths of the way to the top. What really irked me at first was that despite choosing a double helping of chocolate covered peanuts, there were barely any to be found in the capsule. I suspect they had settled to the bottom, but even after a good shake, they were still missing in action. However, I did encounter a foreign object in my search- a small dime bag with two dried cranberries and a note proclaiming “a taste of the bog in your bowl.” This was all well and good, but a wee bit patronizing. If I had the presence of mind to order a cereal with goji berries and acai powder, there is no way in hell I haven’t tasted dried cranberries. Doi.Everything tasted quite good, as I would expect from a $20 breakfast cereal. The granola was crispy with a hint of salt and the perfect amount of sugar. The raspberries were my favorite aspect of the cereal, with a slight saltiness from the granola and a gummy bearesque, chewy texture. I’d have gladly eaten those independently of the cereal. The goldenberries were a little seedy, but had a tart, robust flavor. I don’t know why I decided to put goji berries in the cereal, as everyone who knows anything knows that they taste like stale semen, but I must have been overly caught up in the glamor of high living. They continue to taste like semen. Semen with a $2/half cup price tag. Even Fabio can’t command that kind of a price.

It’s not really practical to recommend this to people outside of the demographic of those who keep a stack of Hermes scarves on top of the john in lieu of toilet paper, because justifying that expense would make me an asshole. But I do have to put in an endorsement for its fresh, bright flavors ; it is clearly made with a better set of ingredients than the generic brand cereals Swagger replaces in his used name brand boxes. (Busted!) I have no sensible reason to order this again, but it was fun to live lavishly for a brief moment.

Ines Rosales Sweet Olive Oil Tortas

I’m a woman of relatively simple tastes. There are times, frequently, when I have a primal urge to whip up something maddeningly complex, but a few simple ingredients can really satisfy me at times.I’d never tried olive oil tortas and believed them to be along the lines of a slightly greasier pita pocket, but when Dr. D brought some home to me to try as a snack, I was surprised to find that they were delicate, crisp little crackers wrapped in wax paper with a brush of olive oil and anise seeds mixed in.
These tortas are Andalusian in origin, but the snack I decided to make was decidedly Italian pizza-esque, that is, if your local joint decided to swap out flour crusts and tomato sauce for imported arugula and white truffle oil. The crackers were sweet and airy with a hint of rock sugar and anise. I wanted to draw out the earthiness of the olive oil and let the anise play a part in the snack, too, so I decided to spread some brown mustard as a sauce base, top with Kerry Dubliner cheese for some extra nuttiness, and sprinkle fresh thyme on top. Extremely easy for a snack and the results couldn’t have been better. It was oleaginous incarnate, with a perfect balance of savory and sweet flavors. I’d be quite happy serving this as an appetizer to friends.If you’re in the market for an upscale, finely made snack, the buck stops here. However, they’re not versatile for a whole lot else. Their brittle crispness makes them impossible to sandwich and I even found them difficult to dip in anything erring towards the solid side of spreads. The unique flavoring sort of pigeonholes them into a specific set of toppings one can use. I was sailing blind and got lucky with mine. And the greasiness may be a turn-off for some (when was the last time you heard that, hrm?) if you’re serving these at a slightly nicer function than your average family dinner. I liked this, though. It was a tasty treat to share with Dr. D.

Trader Joe’s Chicken Tikka Masala and Channa Masala

Trader Joe’s does cutesy things with their product names. If one wishes to wolf down microwaved lo mein before an eco-conference, one needs to look no further than the Trader Ming line. Or, say, if one has a date with that attractively pierced barrista from down the street and it’s hailing outside, simply turn to that Trader Giotto’s pizza that’s been lying in the freezer.

Now, I’m sure I don’t need to preach about failed product lines and subsequent names by bringing up soul food or badly drawn German cuisine clip art, or the oft-imitated, occasionally regurgitated Indian food. This particular entree is simply of the Trader Joe’s variety.I’ve never heard of a cuisine raise more controversy amongst friends than Freedom fries or the Bread Riots of 1725, but Indian food does it. Suggest it to friends over 60 or people who are virgins to the cuisine and they’ll immediately deny it, denounce it, and write it out of their will. Why is it so unapproachable? Trader Joe’s alternative to ordering off the menu presents a pretty mild, yet authentic set of dishes.

The channa masala came in a large portion, enough for two to easily share, and was chock-full of magical chickpeas that didn’t turn to mush in the microwave. They took up the bulk of the package and were surrounded by tasty, savory sauce with pieces of tomato and herbs abound. This was really flavorful, and I appreciated the texture of the chickpeas, as it was the majority of the dish.The chicken tikka masala actually came in a partitioned container with jasmine rice. The tikka took up about 3/4 of the package, but unfortunately came with only four chunks of chicken. This may have been adequate for one person, but I would have preferred more than four pieces, because it left quite a bit of sauce leftover. Luckily, that went to good usage. The rice, though moist and cooked well, was rather bland and we turned to flavoring it up with sour cream and extra sauce to improve it.

I liked the flavor of the tikka masala. That’s really what brought it from “meh-sala” to “masala,” in my opinion. The spices were prominently hot, giving just enough of a kick to make you want to grab a beverage, but not too much kick to overwhelm. The chicken was tender and the sauce adhered to it well.

Overall, these were quite sustaining for the two of us to share, and couldn’t have been easier to make. As sides, we crisped up some tortillas for instant naan, and mixed some sour cream and paprika into the rice. I highly recommend these as an easy meal when you don’t feel like cooking or eating out, as they’re cheaper and easier to prepare than the actual dish. I’m excited to try more of Trader Joe’s international entrees to see how they compare, both in price and in spice, to the authentic dishes.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Edamame

I know this might go without saying for some blogs- Popular Mechanics, Cigar Aficionado, Christian Children’s Book Review- that they don’t condone or promote the abuse of animals. And if you’re asking me point blank, sure, Foodette joins those noble ranks.

But shit, it is hard to photograph a squirming kitten next to some damned edamame beans without using some tricky tactics. Like superglue.

I picked this up at Trader Joe’s a few days ago while on a mission to gather some weird ass shit for Tampa Bay Food Monster and had to review it. Also, photograph it next to unrelated condiments. Chocolate covered edamame seemed neat as far as things covered in chocolate went. It came in little beans and looked shiny and approachable.Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as impressive as it sounded. After trying to come up with cute ways to photograph it, I settled for the Asian cat and gave up. Truth is, it’s kind of a boring snack. It carries that quintessentially mealy and soil-like flavor that soybeans take on. Its only hint of savory flavor was a slight sea saltiness that quickly disappeared, and then ceded to blandness. The dark chocolate Trader Joe’s used was nice, though- it was a fruity dark. If I had to guess I’d say it was somewhere in the 60-70% and was rich and sweet with very little bitterness. It was this fruity note that made me keep coming back to these, whereupon I realized it would be more practical to simply buy a nice chocolate bar rather than suffer through the queer edamame flavoring.I’d only be tempted to buy this combination again in a situation that imparted more saltiness or “umame” to the overall flavor- if these had fleur du sel, wasabi, or soy sauce mixed in, as a nod to the traditional applications of edamame, it would be another story.

Also, here’s a picture of our new kitten. Her spirit name is Purr and she looks peeved to be associated with an inferior product.

Simply Asia Sweet and Sour Chow Mein Take Out Box

Keepitcoming and I are getting a cat, and that’s why I’m writing about this.

No, that’s not the reason, but I did want to tell you that we’re getting a cat and that we’re not totally helpless about it! Well, Keepitcoming isn’t.

The first thing I want to do when our kitten comes home is feed her this noodle dish. She’s a Siamese cat and although this isn’t explicitly Thai, per se, but I figure this is a good start. The dish in question is Simply Asia Sweet and Sour Chow Mein noodles in an authentic take out box, and it would make Swagger cry.It’s not a bad dish- if you’re a crybaby who hasn’t tried Chinese food, a college student with a budget for more than ramen, or a Midwesterner who thinks this is authentic. But for anyone not encompassing those categories, you’re going to think this is a bit of a cop-out. The dish comes with noodles, sauce, vegetables, and a topping. One touch that I liked was that the noodles were cooked and vacuum sealed so they came out looking moderately fresh. I have had instant noodles from China that use this technique and I much prefer it to dried noodles.

Everything came together looking pretty decent. The contents of the box were pretty varied. The seasoning came in sauce form and looked sickly sweet. The vegetables, a feature I typically omit, were so sparse that even I felt as though leaving them out would be no worse than leaving them in, so I decided to add them for a little bit of color. After cooking, I let them sit and poured on the topping- dried shallots and sesame seeds.The first thing I noticed about this was how small the portion was in relation to the size of the box it came in, resembling Chinese leftovers rather than a full dish. When I normally get takeout, the box is packed full of noodles. Here, it only filled a third of the box. Luckily, that was enough for me. I didn’t see anything in the flavor or texture of these noodles that would have made me want to eat an entire box. As it was, I could barely finish half before I lost interest.The noodles absorbed a good deal of the sauce after microwaving to the point of being just sticky and cooked, not saucy at all, and clumped together at the bottom of the box. It was hard to stir them around to get them mixed in with the rest of the toppings without getting them tangled. They were firm noodles and did not break easily. The flavor was pretty mediocre. It was mainly sweet, carrying very little vinegar, and wasn’t integrated as much as I would have liked it to be. The sesame seeds added a welcome crunch and a nice nutty flavor, and the vegetables had evaporated to nothing in the microwave.

I tried the rest of these the next afternoon after they’d cooled down, and they were still the same. I wouldn’t be inclined to try these again especially since fresh Chinese cuisine is so readily available, cheap, and more authentic than this. Though there was nothing particularly offensive about them, $4.29 is too high a price to pay for the “delivery experience” of a sub-par, half portioned vegetarian dish. Perhaps our cat will like them better, as the ASPCA would likely skewer me for feeding her Szechuan hot-pot.