Best Friends Hot Cocoa


Four different flavors on a cold, winter day. In the event that you’re interested, Best Friends Cocoa is also making an appearance at the Acton-Boxborough Farmer’s Market for the next two weeks and have plenty of samples to share!

Starting with the original. I was completely unimpressed with this flavor. It was chocolatey and rich, but had a strange, almost rye-like aftertaste, as though it had fermented or gotten air leaked into the bag through some contamination. It was a good cocoa, without that flavor, but that permeated the entire cup and made it taste rather off.

3/10- STRANGE

The next one, raspberry, carried this same strange aftertaste. I was rather perturbed, actually, to the point of needing a second opinion. When given a cup of this, my roommate told me it smelled like raspberries, and the raw powder tasted like raspberries, but in the mixing or heating of the cocoa, the raspberry taste went away.

3/10- ODD

This cocoa was much better. The flavor was marshmallow dream, and it tasted like that sugary, light flavor had been condensed into the cocoa without overpowering the chocolate, and still mixing. A good treat.

7/10- TASTY

And finally, the last cocoa, cinnamon twist. My roommate and I both agreed that this was much better than the others. We liked how the cinnamon mixed well, with little undertones of nutmeg permeating the cup, as well. It was a really nice autumn treat and reminded me of how my father used to put cinnamon in cocoa when I was small, so it brought back some nice memories and tasted lovely, too!

7/10- GREAT

Order Best Friends Cocoa as a post-apple picking treat or a nice beverage after a snowy sled ride.

Best Friends Cocoa
www.bestfriendscocoa.com

Island Burgers and Shakes, New York, NY

Last night I went with some friends to explore one of my other favorite passions, dogs, at an AKC sponsored event called Meet the Breeds at Javits Center. As far as I know, it’s still running today, so if any of my New York readers have a hankering for furry animals, head over there.

That’s my plug for today, now onto the review. I’m a big fan of little dives. Not talking the kind of stuff Guy Fieri reviews, which could have his bleached hair on a bun and he’d still eat it, but little, tiny, neon-lit places in the backs of stores, hidden away. Such was the case of Island Burgers and Shakes.
I keep wanting to type Island Burgers and Fries, but that’s exactly one of the things that they don’t serve. More about that later. The outside is rather unassuming, but the inside is hopping with people. Many bright colors, funky surfboards, and little candles surround the place, which can’t be more than fifty feet long and ten feet wide.

So I sat with my friends and we waited, and got our menus. The menu is massive, and filled with funkily-named selections like “Tijuana” (guacamole, bacon, and sauteed onions) and “Sans Spud” (sour cream, bacon, chives, and pepper jack cheese). I opted for the churasco, which is the purportedly famous grilled chicken sandwich, in the Sans Spud flavor, and a malted black and white shake.
The shake was a decent size, not the biggest, not the smallest I’ve had, and had the fascinating physical property of being lukewarm and still retaining the properties of ice cream. I, personally, prefer an ice-cold, freezing shake. It was one of the thickest shakes I’d ever had. A black and white milkshake is a vanilla milkshake with drizzles of chocolate syrup on the glass, to satisfy the need for both flavors. It was quite creamy, with a very heavy malt flavor, just the way I like it, and the chocolate syrup made good appearances in most of my sips. It was just extremely thick and the temperature was not quite right.

6/10- GOOD

And then, the sandwich came.

The chicken breast was made from a mutant, giant chicken. Easily the biggest piece of boneless chicken I’ve ever seen, like, half the size of a regular chicken. I had to cut off the little part hanging off the edge just to make it fit on the ciabatta. The roll was decent. Extremely floury, so that was the predominant bun flavor, but the fluffiness and chewy texture kind of made up for it.
The grilled chicken was supposed to be the world-famous star of the meal, but I was just unimpressed. Its size was the only really redeeming quality, and the texture was great, moist, and tender, but it was generally flavorless. I would have expected some sort of a rub or marinade or at least a dusting of salt and pepper, and I’ll tell you this, no matter how gourmet and wonderful chicken is, without flavor, it’s just awful. So that was the chicken. The toppings were good, the bacon was cooked quite well, and the sour cream and chives added a bagel-like quality and creaminess to the sandwich. Didn’t taste much cheese.

On the back of the menu, they explain why they don’t have fries, citing the reason for a small space and no room for a deep fryer, but fries could easily redeem this restaurant. Without a size, the burgers seem impossibly small, the sandwiches kind of bland, and the meal…somewhat incomplete. Although they do serve baked potatoes and potato chips, the mealy french fry makes the meal. It’s like peanut butter without jelly or fluff. Just…not right.

5/10- OKAY

Island Burgers and Shakes
766 9th Ave, 51/52nd St
New York, NY, 10019

Decadence Key Lime Cheesecake


I’ve hit a serious rock bottom here. This blog and these treats have become the highlight of my evenings, now. I need to go clubbing or have drunken sex or something, people. Seriously.

Anyhow, onto this little cheesecake. Again, I cannot emphasize how lovely the portions are. This particular cheesecake is quite filling because of its creaminess. I love that the cheesecakes aren’t simply flavored by their key flavor, but also contain components that their non-cheesecake dessert counterparts would have, like the coconut and caramel glaze on last night’s cheesecake, and the little meringue topping on this one.

The lime flavor is fresh! But not so sour that it makes the creaminess bitter and curdled. The crust is an almond biscotti crust, and there are hints of an almond-like flavor, but they tend to get lost within the intensity of the lime. The meringue goes well on top, though, and makes for a really creamy flavor.

7/10- MMMM!

Decadence Tiramisu Cheesecake


Not being a very big fan of coffee in desserts, I was somewhat dubious of this little cheesecake, but was intrigued as to how the idea and taste of savoiardi would be translated into a cheesecake.

For starters, it was fluffier than the other cheesecakes had been, had a much lighter texture due to the content of the mascarpone, which I loved, and definitely tasted more buttery than any of the others, as well. The coffee taste was really subtle, actually, and I barely tasted it. Even as a non-coffee lover, I would have preferred a little more coffee in the batter.

There was no element of Kahlua, which I enjoyed, as alcohol is not preferable in desserts, either. The crust was quite good, but with the fluffiness of the cheesecake and buttery flavor, I’m not sure how I felt about the slivers of pecans, which worked well in the German Chocolate but didn’t quite translate here. Still, a tasty dessert, and preferable alternative to actual tiramisu when it’s not available.

6/10- GOOD

Decadence German Chocolate Cheesecake (in a jar)


I was sent a six-pack of cheesecakes, unusual cheesecakes at that, by Decadence Cheesecakes, based out of Colorado. These are miniature, single-serving cheesecakes and they’re stored in a jar. It’s like pudding cups meeting cheesecake. All desserts should really be like this. You can get all sorts of flavors and there’s the perfect portion, so you’re not reaching for two or three slices!

This particular cheesecake is a German Chocolate flavor, and if you all watch Throwdown on the Food network, you know that German Chocolate isn’t actually German, but the surname of the man who invented it. Fun fact. Anyhow, onto the cheesecake. The first thing you notice is the layer of coconut-pecan frosting on top, more of a glaze than anything else. I was surprised to find very little pecans in the glaze, but the coconut flavor was rather sublime, when tasted alone. The cheesecake part is a chocolate cheesecake, and it’s delicious but tends to engulf the nutty and coconut flavor subtleties.

The crust is lovely, also chocolate, which again, tends to get overwhelmed and blend together with the chocolate, but there are wonderful slivers of pecans floating around in there, and those are just phenomenal. Overall, this is an excellent, gourmet dessert with the added bonus of being available any time one should crave cheesecake, like I did, at 10:45 at night.

8/10- AWESOME

Paddywackle’s Gourmet Brittle Co.

I’ve had some pretty bad experiences with peanut brittle, all of them involving some sort of impaling or horrible rendering of my face. I’ve been stabbed quite a few times by an errant shard of brittle. It’s the Captain Crunch of the candy world. But I’m an intrepid girl, and I like to try new things, so I gave this peanut brittle a whirl, and it changed my mind completely.

The first brittle that I tried was a chocolate almond brittle. It had an amazing crunch, starting off soft and then crumbling, very crispy and light texture. The chocolate tasted like a lovely wafer cookie, and the almonds added a lot to the texture. It was really delicious and the chewing kept it all very moist, so as not to make it try and tacky in one’s mouth.

8/10- YUMMY

The second brittle was a little stickier and was absolutely permeated with peanut butter, and many chunks of peanuts! It stuck to my teeth but had a wonderful buttery undertone and a fresh, roasted peanut taste. What I really liked about these was the texture, they were just pristine and perfectly chewy without completely shattering in my mouth or dissolving into nothing. It was a substantial and delicious snack.

8/10- LOVELY

To buy their brittle, just go to www.paddywhackles.etsy.com.

Amanouz Cafe, Northampton, MA

So it’s nine in the morning. I’m on a bus, it’s pouring outside, and suddenly, I have an epiphany. I haven’t eaten yet, but I only want one thing for breakfast. One thing that I’ve been told is a little hard to find here, and that thing is…falafel.

Where I come from, a small town located outside of New Haven, Connecticut, the most amazing falafel resides at Mamoun’s Falafel, and at any number of equally delicious restaurants. So I’m used to falafel availability, and when I was told that there really weren’t any places, I was grief-stricken.

I’m craving a falafel, wandering the streets, killing time before a group meeting, and then, I see it. Rather, I hear it before I see it. Beautiful, upbeat music, when all the world is quiet, emanating from the tiniest cafe. And there it is. Amanouz.

It’s small, it’s filled to the brim with little things and cute curios. And it’s got falafel on the menu. It’s 9 AM, but I ask anyway. The friendly waitress consults with the big bosses. And finally, they nod.

I just walked in and demanded falafel. And I’m getting it.

So I sit down, and I’m presented with many, many drink selections, alcohol included. I was nervous about this meeting and was highly considering it, but was swayed by the lack of Riesling on the menu, and instead decided to eschew my inner boozehound for some Turkish coffee, inspiring memories of my time in Edinburgh.

Holy crap. I’m sitting in a restaurant in the morning, listening to great music with the offering of booze, and eating my favorite food. If I choke to death, I’ll be so, so happy.


Luckily, I did not. I was brought out the coffee, first, in a lovely little decanter-like pitcher with the quintessential demitasse It’s damned strong, and I drink it black because there’s no need to gussy up Turkish coffee. Without a doubt, this was the most complex, flavorful, and intense coffee I had with little to no bitterness. It was warm, woodsy, dark, and flavored with what I thought were undertones of cardamom, and the little sludge at the bottom. I’m not pretentious, I swear. This coffee was just incredible.


8/10- SWEET JESUS, YES.

Of course, my main prerogative was this damned falafel, and was it ever amazing. It arrived, wrapped like a baby, in tin foil on a plate. From the appearance alone, it was obvious that this was a homemade pita. So I bit into it, and my mouth exploded, in a word.

It was sheer joy, wrapped in a hot pita. I’m stretching like a gymnast for complaints, but the falafels are somewhat unwieldy, and the pita to falafel to sauce, hummus and tahini, both homemade, ratio, is not as good as I’d like, preferring it all to be even. But the falafel. Mama, these were something else. First of all, they’re bright green when you bite into them. Parsley. And hot, and flavorful, and crispy. Not a single part of these is mushy, dry, like some that I’ve had, or bland. It’s moist and delicious. The ultimate breakfast.


The sauces were great, again, could have been more appropriately partitioned, but do you see how hard I’m looking for flaws? It was amazing. I want it again, now. And you can see what I thought of it.


9/10- SPECTACULAR

And then, dessert.


That’s baklavah, ladies and gentleman. I might not have bought it if not for the $10 credit card minimum, which, by the way, was the total of this lovely breakfast. This is a walnut baklavah, and it is wonderful. It is so layered, and also stands up to the ultimate of all trials- the standardized FPT, the Foodette Pocket Test. I wanted to eat this as a little treat later on in the day, so I shoved it in my pocket, wrapped, of course, and forgot about it until I sat on my jacket later and crumpled it in my backpack, and when I went to eat it, I figured it would be a sticky mess and that I’d end up leaving half of it on the tin foil and throwing it out. But no! It stood up, and it was crunchy, delicious, and a complete mystery. How can something so saturated with honey, butter, and nuts still maintain texture and not turn into goo?

9/10- AMAZING

Amanouz Cafe
44 Main Street
Northampton, MA, 01060

Marichael’s Gluten-Free Snacks

Apologies for the lack of post yesterday, I had a minor altercation. So I had another chance to try gluten-free treats and I wanted to see if these, like the others I’ve tried, were similar to those and as good.

Lately, as you know, I’ve been doing meal substitutes for breakfast, eating healthier breakfast foods and putting in more whole grains and natural foods into my diet. So it was only natural that these made it to the top of my breakfast menu in the morning! Marichael’s foods are gluten-free and organic.

The first selection I had was in the morning, a Sunrise Bar featuring almonds, dried cranberries, punpkin seeds, and sesame seeds, among other things. I loved the flavor of the almonds, but what really brought it together was the addition of the almond extract. It really made it taste marzipan-y and like a dessert. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to taste any cranberries, which was a shame because I felt like the flavors would have gone well together. Overall, the bar was nice and chewy, had a good toasted flavor from the sesame and pumpkin seeds and a nice texture with the bran and other ingredients.

7/10- LOVELY

They also sent over a banana nut chocolate chip muffin. I saw this and I saw the texture, and I was really pleased. It was fluffy and tasty, but the walnuts in it were massive. This, for me, really screwed up the texture and overall integrity of the muffin, because the chunks disturbed the balance of the chocolate chips and the fluffy banana batter. They were like road blocks, to the point where I just pulled apart the muffin, took them out, and ate the batter part separately.

5/10- OKAY

The last selection was a really pleasant surprise, some chocolate chip cookies. By the way, all of these were packaged in little Chinese take-out boxes, and you guys know how much I love those! The chocolate chip cookies were really light and crispy, not crunchy like some cookies, but likened to a meringue. Seriously. They really fell apart in my mouth and tasted absolutely stupendous. The semi-sweet chocolate chips were really great to encounter amidst the lightness of the cookie base.

8/10- GOOOOOD!

You can buy any of these products and more homemade goodies, like bread and cookies, at Marichael’s website, www.marichaels.etsy.com.

Fudgenmore’s Second Round

Hello, everyone. I got some new treats- delicious fudge and a bonus from Fudgenmore! She sent them to me in the exact type of packaging that she sells at fairs. They looked really yummy and I was too excited to try them!

The first fudge I tried was a mint chocolate fudge. Now, this rating is definitely a parable to the readers and also a preamble, stating that it is probably my fault that this happened, but DO NOT LET THIS FUDGE MELT. Unfortunately, the mint extract oozes out and separates from the mix, making some bites very intensely mint and some without mint at all. This also makes it very oily, so don’t do what I did! Bad Foodette! Bad!

7/10- NICE

The next fudge was a butterscotch fudge, very rich and buttery with nutty notes. I liked the complexity of this flavor, but at times, it tended to be a little too rich for me, so I could only eat a little in one sitting. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, though, being that I’m on a diet on all. Regardless, this is delicious. I’d like to see the flavor spiced up with chocolate chips or pretzel bits, though, for a change in the texture as well as a little more flavorful oomph. Another great fudge.

6/10- TASTY

The last selection was not a fudge, but rather, one of my guiltiest pleasures- mock toffee. It’s the Southern version of my mother’s chocolate toffee matzah, and this particular toffee was made with Saltines, chocolate, and pecans. I love pecans. The crunchiness of the toffee and the chocolatey coating made it amazing. I love how chewy the toffee gets, and how messy and fun the treat, as a whole, can get. Definitely a must try if you’ve never had it before!

7/10- LOVELY

Again, fudgenmore’s treats can be ordered on etsy, through her website, fudgenmore.etsy.com

Cacao Bakery


Ohhhh, man. Someone has definitely been keeping tabs on me. Anyone who knows me well knows that my favorite flavor of anything is red velvet, and today when I got some cake truffles from Candice, I knew that these would be winners when I saw the flavor listing “2 red velvet truffles.”

So I’d never had a cake truffle before. Well, now that I’ve popped that cherry, I can tell you that they’re amazing, moist, and addictive to the point of using them for weaning cocaine addicts. I figured the whole idea of a cake truffle would be a little ball of cake, scooped out from a big cake, and wrapped in chocolate, like a petit four, in ball form.

I couldn’t have been more blatantly incorrect. Sweet fucking Jesus, was I wrong.

Biting into one of these, the first thing that hits my senses is the noise they make when you bite them. They go, “sssmmmmmkkk,” when they pull apart because they’re so moist and gooey on the inside that separating bites is a Sisyphian task. I can never go back to regular cake again.

So onto the flavors. I tried the red velvet first, and was rather impressed. The flavor is a bit sharp, potentially from the dye, and has an undertone less of chocolate than of coconut, interestingly, and the white chocolate on the outside provides a very milky flavor and creaminess to offset the gooey density of the cake. It’s a beautiful truffle. It’s nice and big and the cake is wet and moist and the inside is a striking red.

8/10- MMMM…

The next truffle had a different texture that I rather enjoyed. It was a caramel truffle, but to be honest, I tasted more notes of butterscotch with the brown sugary flavor than the caramel, but it was still damned good. The wet crumbs in these were bigger than the crumbs in the red velvet and thus changed the texture to something nice, like a moist shortbread. Again, I cannot fully emphasize how wet these are except to record an mp3 of me biting into these, which I will spare you the indignity of. Just…incredible.

9/10- EXQUISITE

And the last one was like taking the world’s best brownies, all of them, cramming them into a centrifuge, and swirling them around until they made a magnificent conglomerate of brownie batter. And that was the triple chocolate. I’m not entirely sure what made it triple, as there was chocolate on the outside and chocolate on the inside, but no third to complete the trifecta, but it was delicious, wet, and very, very, very chocolatey.

9/10- NOM NOM

You can order any cake truffles from Candice at her website, cacaobakery.etsy.com, and she makes customized flavors, too. I’d like to see a peanut butter, personally!