Trader Jacques’ Beurre Meuniere Popcorn

I miss Paris, but lately, I’ve been feeling pretty lucky to have not come down with gluten issues while there. I found this gem at Trader Joe’s while elbowing West Hartfordites for the last litre of coconut water and bitching about the price of Udi’s. Popcorn isn’t my favorite snack, but I do love the flavors it can come in. What is it about popcorn that makes manufacturers so adventurous? Frito-Lay, where’s my brown butter and lemon potato chips? My pumpkin seed and caramel pretzels? This popcorn made me squeal, then go through the seven stages of grief at a distinctly rapid pace as I checked for the gluten-free label. Luckily, it’s safe to eat, so I grabbed a bag and ran home.

On a whole, I’m more inclined to buy bagged popcorn than I am to make it myself. It’s less greasy, has better toppings, and there are none of those terrifying unpopped kernels. Trader Joe’s makes a reliably good popcorn- super creamy, with a crispy, fresh crunch. The idea of brown butter powder intrigued me, and when combined with lemon, thyme, and other herbs, it sounded pretty magical. The popcorn is plentiful, very francophilian, but is somewhat of a kvetch-22. It has lots of tasty flavor powder, but that powder does make it much messier.

The brown butter flavor is nuanced- the lemon is surprisingly strong and fresh, followed closely by the thyme. Both give a bit of a sweet, epicurean edge to such a typically savory snack. Unfortunately, the brown butter isn’t as noticeable as one might expect or desire. Crunched quickly, the lemon is the primary discernible flavor, leaving the butter behind in a gently nutty, toasted finish. This ends up tasting somewhat redundant as popcorn already has that flavor. I’d have liked to have a better balance of sour and savory, perhaps with some sea salt flakes or less lemon. Tasty, but not as distinct as I’d anticipated. 

Roast Chicken with Wasabi Goat Cheese and Tart Cherries and a Free Long-Winded Post!

Woof. I mean, like, really, woof. Emphasis on the woof part. If you came to the site for the insightful commentary on food, history, charming personal anecdotes about DH and the kids, and artful photography, get the hell out. For the next three years, I’m going to be complaining about Connecticut, law school, gluten, and home decor!

For the remaining three of you, Mom included, you’ll be pleased to know that my roving bachelor lifestyle has allowed me plenty of time to cook and study in equal amounts. It was refreshing to come back from a study session after a beast of a contracts case in anticipation of the meal I’d planned for The Bedfellow and I. I’ve finally finished my first week of law school- just 150 more of them, and I’ll officially be an attorney. Cool, right?

On another note, I’ve been trying to find ways to cook and interact with this new change in diet. As of this moment, I’ve cut approximately 98% of gluten out of my diet. It’s really difficult, but the change is positive and just makes me feel much better than I’ve been feeling. I’ve tried to take a centrist approach to it, in that I’m not eating gluten unless I’m presented with something so incredible, ephemeral, and perfect that the benefits outweigh the risks. Then, I can work around the crippling headache, chills, itchiness, tightness in my skin, sweats, general fatigue, and muscle aches.

As a note, and for clarification, I don’t profess to have any official gluten allergy or celiac’s disease. I have not been diagnosed by a doctor, nor have I made any other significant changes other than realizing the issue at hand- namely, that when I eat gluten, my body feels awful almost immediately after. It’s as simple as that, and I’ve been working to alter my diet to reflect this new need. Don’t think that I’m not trying to resist it, either. I broke the other night and ate a cookie and paid for it in physical ramifications severe enough to force me to lie down for a few hours until they subsided. It’s hellish and strange, but I’m working through it. I won’t stop looking for the best brownie until I’ve exhaustively worked through the long list of gluten-free products. And you’ll still see plenty of gluten-ridden products on the website, but The Bedfellow will be tasting them and relaying her notes to me instead. This isn’t so bad. Hopefully, it will encourage me to make healthier changes, and the ensuing energy and good feelings will help me maintain them.

So, last night, I made us roasted chicken roulades with wasabi goat cheese and tart cherries. The recipe was easy, and came from an abundance of food in my new apartment. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) I had a little round of chevre from Capri that I was excited to use, and The Bedfellow brought some powdered wasabi over. I pounded the chicken flat, and added the cherries, which I’d roasted with lemon salt and olive oil, to the cheese and stuffed the breasts with it. I roasted them in the juices leftover from the cherries, and topped them with wasabi powder and a little more lemon salt.

They were delicious, filling, and pleasantly spicy. This rambling, of course, is both to let you know that I haven’t overdosed on ramen noodles in a fit of panic with school, and also to announce Cookbook Week, which I’ll be starting next Friday. I have seven cookbooks, and I’ll be cooking a recipe from each, all gluten-free, to share with you and give you thoughts on my results. This one was my own, of course, but my trials and tribulations will be broadcasted as they come.

Enjoy!

Foodette
(Bonus GF Gratify pretzel and smoked almond chicken tenders with hot mustard pic!)

Umpqua Oats Super Premium Oatmeal Salted Caramel Meltdown

Hi! 

Do you remember me? I’m just an old writer, I know. But it’s a little different than that. I know I left you back on that wide, dark internet street some fifteen days ago, but…well, I’ve had the tests, I got the paperwork, and I have something very important to tell you. I’m your blogger. I’m the one you imprinted upon early in the morning after you had your nightly Mountain Dew. I’m the one you reached out to when you needed humor and implicit gay shenanigans. I hand-fed you your first bites of truffled popcorn, cheeseburger-flavored pasta, and, well…

I’m back, baby.

And I have a new apartment, a working, reliable internet connection, and new vocabulary under my belt. It’s like they cryogenically froze me for two weeks and uploaded me with information about blown fuses and summary judgment. What could be better than that? I’ll tell you: in my hamlet of West Hartford, close to the home of my new, shiny law school, I come bearing gifts of pretentious oatmeal! This is Umpqua’s Salted Caramel Meltdown, not to be confused with Chocolate Temper Tantrum or Vanilla Sensory Overload that Causes You to Fire Questions at Strangers About Dogs. And what kind they have. And what their names are. And when you can come pet them, instead of answering their inquiry as to what time it was, ten minutes ago.

You look so big! Here, let me feed you some of this oatmeal. Just try it. I know it’s ridiculously flavorless, which likely makes it accessible to a wide audience of Millenials and busy moms, but it’s filling and reliable, too. The chunks of salted caramel and miniscule pecan shards are easy to digest, if lacking in substance, and the whole thing is just one snide ‘on-the-go’ fallacy away from a car accident. It’s yet another rider atop the wheezing, dying salted caramel horse and if it doesn’t go away, I fear the universe may collapse on itself, producing an endless string of punny breakfast foods in trendy flavors for the offspring of the busy people purchasing them for $4.20 plus tip.

Whew.

If you must play the game, you’ve got to know the rules. This applies to the concept of using hyperbole and trends, in this case. If you’re audacious enough to use the words ‘super,’ ‘premium,’ ‘salted,’ ‘caramel,’ and ‘meltdown,’ in your product’s name, I expect to see all five in spades. The deceased Quaker on the Quaker Oats canister has more flair than this. It’s as bland as its audience and doesn’t even have the fashion sense to boot. Umpqua is yet another follower on this endless bandwagon. Hopefully it will run out of gas sooner rather than later.

Rosa Mexicano’s 10th Annual Ice Cream Festival, Boston, MA

Recently, on the eve of Whitey Bulger’s trial verdict, as it were, the Bedfellow and I made our way out to Boston. Boston and I are complicated. I see it as a lumbering, boorish, insouciant version of Manhattan with worse transit, and it hates me because I’m pretty. Unfortunately, it’s closer to my area than New York, and when we were offered the opportunity to test the Ice Cream Festival menu at Rosa Mexicano, it was more prudent to go to the Boston Seaport location.
Four hours and three changed reservations later, there we were, complimentary agua fresca in hand. My go-to-hell outfit may have been preemptive, but it certainly wasn’t in vain. Damn you, Boston, and your terrible drivers and perpetually sneered co-eds. The Seaport location is the newest of the Rosa franchise. 
We started off our dinner outside, right next to the water, with two cocktails and our ‘appetizer’ ice cream, a guacamole treat based off the tableside guacamole Rosa Mexicano is famous for. This guacamole is similar to its savory counterpart in name and key ingredient only—the avocado element is kept the same, replaced with avocado ice cream, and the savory add-ins are swapped out for white chocolate, raspberries, coconut crumble, fresh mint, and two types of sauces, served with cinnamon and sugar bunuelo chips.
Visually, it’s an impressive end to a meal that presumably includes guacamole, something I’d like to try the next time I go to Rosa. It’s served in the same molcajete, with the same giant serving spoon and the red, white, and green colors mimic all the colorful veggies inside the guac itself. Flavorwise, I can’t say that I felt the same balance. Some of the mix-ins worked brilliantly. I’m speaking to the mint and raspberries especially, providing an acidic and bright element that really coaxed out the light vegetal note of the avocado ice cream. Some lime juice or zest would have been perfect. However, the remaining toppings and bunuelos overwhelmed the ice cream, especially the raspberry sauce, which inexplicably caused the ice cream to have a strangely astringent flavor, and it ended up tasting too much like a generic sundae. 
Luckily, the sauces are served on the side, so you can add as much or as little as you please, or do as we did and just dip the bunuelos in them. The bunuelos are too fragile to hold up to the weight of the ice cream and serve more as visual props than key components. Also worth noting is that this will make a cumbersome, if playful date dessert. The chips are caked with cinnamon sugar and come with a written guarantee of spilling all over your shirt, skirt, or in my case, bow tie.
We followed that with the ice-cream stuffed churros. They come three to a plate, in three different flavors, underneath three different crumbles. The first was cajeta and sweet cream with chocolate ganache and chocolate crumbles. The ice cream was virtually indistinguishable beneath the fried pastry, but the chocolate crumbles stole the show, with a dark, deep, unsweetened flavor. A rose and hibiscus ice cream followed. This was the strongest in flavor, but would have been better sans churro. 
My favorite was the plantain and peanut butter, with peanut butter crumbles. This was the most balanced and had the most indulgent flavor. Unfortunately, the size made them difficult to eat in one bite or share, as each was rather leaky.
We took a break from ice cream to have a few drinks. The Silverado, with blood orange, blueberries, mint, and tequila, was summery, if a little vapid in flavor, but the Rosa take on the classic Michaelada was outstanding. The few sips I had were amazing- the drink was served with a tomato, cucumber, habanero, and pepper popsicle that melted with each sip. 
It was like drinking a boozy gazpacho, and the fresh vegetable flavors tempered the rich beer. My chief complaint was the amount of chile salt atop the glass- visually impressive, but far too intense for the size and components of the drink.
We finished our tasting with three paletas, or Mexican popsicles. These were served in vintage glasses, with various flavored crumbles at the bottom, fruit slices, and a white chocolate and spice rim. Fun additions, but ones that unfortunately took away from the fresh, intense fruit flavors of the popsicles themselves. We were encouraged to dip the popsicles into the crumble, which we’d somewhat wearied of at this juncture, but they wouldn’t stick to the pops and sat lifelessly at the bottom. The flavors were entertaining, especially the horchata-inspired popsicle, with soft, frozen pieces of cinnamon-infused rice.
There are some definite remediable inconsistencies, from dish to dish and even within individual plates, but overall, the menu is light and creative, and follows well with the theme of contemporary Mexican food. Service was fine, although my request for a small palate cleanser of the gherkin and jalapeno sorbet was forgotten amidst the deluge of richer fare. Rosa is always great for splashy, creative events, and I was happy to have made it over to enjoy this one. Much thanks to Rosa’s PR team and staff for hosting us.

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.

Yoplait Cosmopolitan

Some days you wake up feeling like a tool. Your apartment is not yet ready, leaving you stranded in your childhood basement bedroom, and you are on a gluten-free diet the instant cupcake-flavored Goldfish and key lime cookies rear their ugly, delicious heads on the shelves. Your current apartment may look like a warehouse, the kind used in mafia films. Unfortunately, you are no Tony Soprano. You are wearing a t-shirt from your local police department and are constantly on the verge of smelly tears.

And some days are okay. Like today. The sun is shining, your cop shirt accentuates your slender calves and newly shorn buzzcut, and you have eggs and bacon for breakfast along with a new yogurt. What kind of yogurt? Why, it’s Yoplait Cosmopolitan!

This spring’s latest issue is pink and trendy, and boasts a catchy ‘in season for a limited time’ sticker on the front- just like those awful sunglasses you’re wearing. It’s totally worth the $11.99, especially considering how it mimics its inspiration. Really, it’s incredible how many details they managed to fit in. The color of the yogurt is pink, like the dress Megan Fox wore 88% better than Rosie O’Donnell, and mimics the hue of your man’s cheeks when you tell him you want to abbhhzzzzhhhhbb your bbzzzhhbbt in his errbbbzzzbt with a rrrbbbuuuuurrrdkkkyyy. It’s chalky and pasty, almost as if you were taking pages of the real Cosmopolitan and were shoving them in your mouth in between sips of the new chia vanilla smoothie to tone your buns. (p. 79)

The container is a little awkward- it’s not as large as the full-sized Yoplait yogurts, yet somehow has the same amount of calories, 170. It’s squat and thick, like Kim Kardashian, lacking that pop of the original containers. The flavor is zingy and clever, reminding me of the clever sex tips in Cosmopolitan, especially the one about how to sex your sex sexily in the sexiest-

Hang on.

Nobody wanted to tell me? This is inspired by the drink. The goddamned Cosmopolitan, the drink of the besmirched Carrie Bradshaw. Well, this yogurt tastes enough like cranberry and lime- it’s pretty tart, but it’ll take more than 170 calories to work off the shame of this confusion. In conclusion, Yoplait Cosmopolitan makes a better magazine than it does a social lubricant. Back to the basement.

Delicia Red Velvet Malt Beverage

Last week, the internet sent me broken champagne flutes, a clutch, lipstick and hell. Hell in the form of a premium carbonated malt liquor by the name of Delicia. Delicia is new ladyjuice for the ladies, especially the ones who crave something a little more dangerous than champagne with more instructions than the Anarchist’s Cookbook.

Delicia comes in four flavors: red velvet, whipped (yes, just ‘whipped’, which you’ll be both if you purchase this and after you drink it), peaches and cream, and strawberries and cream. Of course, it was essential that we try red velvet as my goal of becoming 14% red velvet cake can only be achieved by ingesting it in liquid form. Delicia came with activities for my ladyfriends and I. Little did they know that Stila lipgloss only makes me look more like a low-budget Chaz Bono impersonator pre-Chazzing. The more you know!

Armed with an iTunes gift card and a studded clutch, which I like to imagine was hand-selected for me due to my sassy personality, the Bedfellow and I went about trying this. It took us a while. We were scared, unprepared to party, and not quite ready to experience the sultry bubbles of cream cheese frosting and copious red food dye. But some things, like awful teen blockbusters and traffic accidents, come together organically, so at 12:35PM this afternoon, in a dark warehouse of a studio apartment, we found ourselves duly prepared to rock out with our mock out.

Delicia is liquid Spring Breakers. It’s the kind of thing everyone will be talking about and be curious to try, but its disappointment is a special breed of cur, the likes of which will leave red streaks of dye on your fingers and the taste of Tootsie Roll and KoolAid hooch in your mouth. It’s so sugary it makes Coke look like a sensible diet solution- both the soda and the drug. It has a bitter, beerlike aftertaste and aggressive bubbliness, like Kristin Chenoweth. And for all that fuss- alcohol? Alca-who? The alcohol content on this is so far gone it’s on the walls outside Walmart under the ‘missing children’ section. A fifth grader couldn’t find the alcohol in this. In a sense, it is perfectly marketed- toward the women in the bar nobody wants to speak to. The ones from New Jersey or Boston with bubblegum in their cheeks like pink-hued chaw and an inch of caked-on eyeshadow. They’re drinking this.

And for all their pomp and circumstance about knocking someone’s mascaraed eye out of their socket with the cork popping, Delicia’s silky, sparkly outer liner reveals a hard, stubby screwcap. Disappointment abound, and another ladyexploring ladynight ruined by diabetes.

We’ll always have the party playlist, Delicia.

~~

I’m working on embedding this in the post- damn you, Playlist! In the meantime, enjoy this text list.

1. David Bowie- Cat People
2. Gwen Stefani- Southside
3. Beats Antique- Oriental Uno
4. RJD2- Gypsy Caravan
5. The Doors- Alabama Song
6. Federico Aubele- Contigo
7. Serge Gainsbourg- Qui est in, qui est out
8. Beck- Sexx Laws
9. La Bouche- Be My Lover
10. Scissor Sisters- Laura
11. Moby- Run On
12. Billy Squier- Lonely is the Night
13. Kanye West- Runaways