Taste of the Union: Fall Bites

Womp womp, when was the last time I did one of these awesome round-ups? Probably around the same time Pandora thought it was appropriate to play ‘Hey There Delilah,’ which it’s doing right now. This time, it’s a little different- I have a mix of gluten-free products that I’ll give numerical ratings to, just like my big features, but…smaller. Think of it as the specialty food equivalent of GrubGrade’s First Looks or TIB’s Quick Reviews. Interspersed through this will be some recipes I’ve recently made that I’m particularly proud of.

This was a birthday gift from Piper, a personal gluten-free chocolate cake from Tart Baking Co. in my old stomping grounds of Northampton, MA. It replaced a regrettably impersonal bakery and is succeeding with flying colors- this cake is indicative of that, with a bittersweet ganache, fresh pomegranate seeds, and cocoa nibs. The seeds made it, and added a burst of bitter fruitiness to the cake.

I bought this muffin a few nights ago at Whole Foods, when cooking dinner was the last thing on my mind. Kyotofu has been around for a while, though I’ve never had any inclination to try their wares. It could be a subliminal hatred of tofu, or a general unwillingness to pay $3.75 for a muffin. It’s not the best gluten-free muffin I’ve ever had, that award goes to Udi’s, but I really enjoyed the bright yuzu and citrus flavors. The dense, stale hotel pastry texture was a huge turn-off, though- 5/10.

A plain sandwich with shredded chicken, gussied up with a tangy Alabama white sauce and cornichons atop an heirloom tomato. Still one of the best sandwiches I’ve made this year.

Speaking of sandwiches, how about a few more? Counterclockwise, my first attempt at a vegan burger with chipotle dairy-free cream cheese spread and chili pickles, a camembert, black lava salt, prosciutto, and apple grilled cheese, buffalo sausage with mustard-grilled country toast and cornichons, a camembert omelet with lemon-butter toast, and the aforementioned Kyotofu muffin- not a sandwich.

And sweets! Ish. Two photos got switched, and I bet you can guess which ones. The first mini-review is the Harvest Crunch muffin from Udi’s. It’s awesome. Room-temperature, a little strange as it had weird, stringy fibers, but that might have been some sort of liquid sugar, because they disappeared when heated. It had a bright, lemony flavor and delicate, but not crumbly texture- 9/10. Gevalia has put a dog in the K-Cup capuccino race, but it’s not faring too well. The foam at home cups were foamy, but very, very sweet 5/10. These were vegetarian tacos made with Neat Meat, a meat substitute made from pecans, and, when loaded with hot sauce, dairy-free cheese shreds, and sour cream, tasted identical to the hard, less healthy tacos from Taco Bell- 8/10. Recently, Nabisco introduced some new Rice Thins. Their White Cheddar snacks were light, airy, and addictive. Doritos who? I ate the entire box one night as part of a cheese plate. Oops- 9/10. On that plate is a blood orange fruit crisp from Simple and Crisp- also easy to eat, tart, and great with soft, smelly cheeses- 8/10. And the morning after all that wine and cheese, a Suja green juice was exactly what I needed to keep on point8/10.

Pillsbury has come out with a new line of three gluten-free base doughs, a cookie base, pizza base, and pie crust. I was too intrigued/deprived to pass up the pizza, so I dragged the Bedfellow to a Super Walmart in the middle of the night to snag one. The crust is weirdly textured, like Play-Doh, and is very gummy and chewy. The Bedfellow liked it because of how well it held toppings, but I couldn’t get past the texture- 4/10.

I’d never bake again if I could eat these little guys all the time. Udi’s brownie bites dipped in Johnnie Walker Double Black with fleur de sel, a spoonful of Talenti, and a drizzle of Spoonable Brooklyn Butterscotch.

Why does the most perfect food have to be so ugly? These tacos were incredible. Ribeye steak marinated in gochujang with a Franco-Korean carrot slaw made with Coleman’s mustard, black sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and lime juice.

Behold, exhibit B. It’s just not fair. Drunken noodles are insanely easy to make, but hideous. It’s ridiculous, but one bite and you won’t even care that they’re monochromatic.

Finally, now that it’s a cool 42 degrees and depressive outside, I’ve received some really excellent tea. This is the Apple Cider Chai from Chai Diaries, and is both visually and gustatorially beautiful, with a tart, mulled flavor and wonderful spicy bite9/10. How do you like this new review format? It’s kind of a fun way to get a taste of all of these new products…feedback, please!

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