Andiamo Restaurant, Amherst, MA

I was absolutely starving when I got back from practice tonight. Turns out my roommate was, too, so we decided to try this restaurant whose menu had recently been slipped under our door. They’re a modern Italian place, with panini and salads, and with free delivery, it was hard to pass up!

Delivery took almost no time at all, which was great, and our sandwiches were hot when we got them. I ordered the Levante, which is a baguette pressed with chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, pesto, and sundried tomato aioli inside.

The overall sandwich is about a footlong. Compare this to Subway, though, and it’s about $8, total. A good price for good, fresh ingredients as opposed to Subway’s more mass produced stuff. The baguette is crisp, but not as crisp as I’d like it. It’s a chewier baguette, and when I eat my panini, I like them to be crispy and buttery on the outside. It does have grill marks, though.

The sandwich is really good and soft, the fillings, that is. I’m always worried when I order a sandwich with grilled chicken that there will be one, tough breast piece that will slide out and fall away. This prevents that. There are neat little strips in it that melt along with everything and taste awesome. The chicken is perfectly cooked. The mozzarella isn’t as noticeable as I’d like. I like fresh mozzarella to be gooey and prominent in a sandwich, and it’s unfortunately overshadowed by the sauces. It’s a little odd, the distribution. On one side, there’s the pesto, which is good and basily and salty, and the sundried tomato aioli on the other. I don’t know what to make of the aioli. On one hand, I was relieved that there weren’t any chunks of sundried tomato, which nauseate me as much as mushrooms, but on the other hand, the definition of “aioli” was used rather loosely, more for pretension than actual literal ingredients.

By definition, an aioli is a sauce made with garlic and olive oil. This seemed to be a mayonnaise if anything else, and had a sharp and vinegary taste that left a bitter flavor and also overpowered some of the sandwich’s other aspects. You can order chips with your sandwich, too. I find it a bit of a cop-out, because they charge $1.89 for a small bag of Kettle Chips, where I’d much rather have fries or another complementing side.

Italian, this is. Perfect, it’s not. Go with simplicity and order the Levante without the aioli. It will taste better. And ask them to grill it extra.

6/10- GOOD

Roomba ordered the Andiamo salad without portabella mushrooms, but it came with the mushrooms. She describes it as the fancy poor man’s salad, and that the addition of ranch dressing to a salad with bitter greens, arugula, and avocado really took away the beauty of the fancy salad. And picking out the mushrooms was just awful- to quote Up, our new favorite film, “We do not like the mushrooms of shame.”

6/10- OKAY

Andiamo Restaurant
485 West Street
Amherst, MA, 01003

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos


Sometimes I just need a spicy snack to get me through a long rehearsal. The nice thing about spicy foods is the chemistry behind them. They irritate the trigenimal nerve, which is responsible for facial sensation, and endorphins are them released to help soothe it. So they keep me happy and relatively sedated, especially in times of tension. And they wake my mouth up, too!

So these Cheetos are awesome. The packaging is different from the other bags- Chester has flames shooting out of his mouth, and there’s a little Element flame critter running across the bag. As far as taste goes, these are like the crunchy reincarnation of Frank’s Hot Sauce. They’re a nuclear orange color. They’re still crunchy and, oddly enough, have about 1/3 of the residue that normal Cheetos have. There might be more oil, but less powder. I’m not sure why aside from that, but it sure is nice.

Taste-wise, these are mild. At first. Eat one or two, you’ll get a tiny burn, but keep eating them, which you will do, as they are addictive, and you’ll get a full-on burn in the back of your throat, front of your mouth- everywhere. There’s no cheesy flavor. No barbecue. Just pure hot, and it’s awesome. There’s a slight aftertaste of lemon or lime, or something like that, which leads me to believe that Cheetos Limon might have just been these, or the other way around. Awesome, awesome, awesome- but potentially too hot for some.

8/10- SPICY GOOD

Twix PB

I first saw these on a commercial in maybe, 2000, 2001, where a guy took peanut butter and put it in a CD player and instead of screwing up the internal circuitry, the boom box played awesome, legume inspired tunage. I figured they were a limited edition snack and were then gone forever, but lo and behold, I found them in a local convenience store and had to try them.

These are the reincarnation of a far better snack, folks. Yes, I’m referring to the Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cup. Probably one of the best Reese’s snacks, it was discontinued in 2000, never to be seen again. But in a more compact form, this is it. It’s got the salty and oddly textured peanut butter that we all love, milk chocolate, and a crunchy cookie base. The cookie itself is an almost bitter chocolate that I like, reminiscent of Nabisco Famous Wafers. It cuts the saccharine sweetness of the chocolate. With normal Twix, I find that the cookie gets soggy with the caramel and doesn’t crisp as much as I’d like it to.

With this bar, you get a lot more peanut butter than I would have expected, which is good. There’s a certain portability that makes this better than the CCC. If Twix keeps this around, I’ll be buying it again. It’s really delicious and excellent for nut and cookie lovers.

Oh, and I’m back to using my own photos again!

9/10- NUTTY

New layout and improvements…

Finally, someone sent me an email regarding the site’s content and personal issues that they have with the site. Although this person did mention that they will not be returning to the website for a few reasons, I have some announcements to make for all my other readers.

1. I am looking into getting my own domain, www.foodette-reviews.com, and have a donation button up for raising money to purchase it until I can get it myself, and will be doing some of the layout design myself to avoid using all the default stuff. I might need some help with this as I am very busy, but you can expect to see this up by this summer.

2. I am also changing up the rating system. The scales will still be out of ten, but will be similar to Gigi’s format, with an image and rating corresponding to the scale. For now, I realize the fraction is pedantic, but it will stay until the new one comes up.

3. I have taken off the OpenID/sign in format for commenting, and I expect it to be followed and not abused. I had the settings on from another personal blog and never took them off, but now realize what a hassle it is to comment especially if you’re only interested in saying a few words. Too many bells and whistles. But with great power comes great responsibility. Don’t fuck around in the comments, minions!

That’s it for now. Expect more photos, more reviews, and more fun!

Foodette

Arizona Mango Iced Tea (Half and Half)


I drank this on a 14-hour work day to see how well it would hydrate and sustain me while doing hard manual labor in a scene shop, as I am in an upcoming production of Sweeney Todd.

The result? A really tasty drink that carries the best of both specific beverages- Arizona’s regular iced tea and their mango juice- without the bad stuff.

The best part of the mango juice is the nectar-like texture that goes down your throat, almost a thicker, lassi-like depth to it, but sometimes gets sticky in the back of the throat and all the sugar tends to dry you out. The syrupy texture is cut by the tea’s watery texture, and the bitterness of the tea is sweetened by the mango. It’s a really perfect drink.

8/10- LOVELY

Doritos Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ


I cannot be the only one who is absolutely delighted that these are back! I thought they’d disappeared forever, going back to the realms of guacamole and X-13D. These were a promotion a while back, butting heads with the less tasty White Cheddar. For a while, they left, and are now back under another promotion, the likes of which I cannot ascertain.

They’re really spicy for a cheese and BBQ flavor. The flavor is overwhelmingly barbecue-based but has a really nice spice at the end, like a cayenne flavor to it. And the heat definitely lingers! The cheese is definitely less felt, but gives a creamy and rounded flavor to the chip as a whole. I’m not sure I’d be able to distinguish a particularly “cheddar-y” flavor, though.

All the chips in my bag were whole and unbroken and were really crunchy and fresh. There is a healthy dose of powder on each chip, as opposed to some of the regular flavors. Frito-Lay has gotten really lazy with those. But these pop in my mouth and are really tasty. An excellent snack. I’d love to make nachos with these or eat them with pulled pork. They seem really versatile for other flavors, too.

9/10- AWESOME

Ocean Spray 100% Juice


This is a tasty juice that I like to drink when I’m sick. The reason I buy it over a cranberry juice cocktail is because it’s so much more fresh and hydrating than the latter. The added sugar in a juice cocktail really sticks in the throat and tends to dry you out, hydrating much less than you want!

This particular juice is really excellent, carrying a massive boost of antioxidants and flavorful berries. It’s not actually 100% cranberry juice, they’ve worded it very carefully. It’s 100% “juice,” flavored with grape and apple juice as well as cranberry, but if you served me this and a full-on cranberry in a blind taste test, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. It’s completely cranberry flavored and completely delicious.

8/10- DELIGHTFUL

Japanese Kua Aina Hamburger Potato Chips


Another J-List phenomenon. This is one of the most involved bag designs I’ve ever seen- with a luscious hamburger, and then, a cartoon hamburger, and the chips, and tourist designs, and all manner of things, all with multiple exclamation points and Japanese writing.

Oy.

This is another Doritos snack from Frito-Lay Japan, and from the obvious signs, should taste like hamburger. The chip is thick and crispy, corn-based, and as thick as the massive bag that it comes out of. The flavor was quite disappointing to me. There was definitely an aspect of hamburger, but certainly not the greasy goodness portrayed on the bag. If anything, this “hamburger” was about as much burger as the burger listed in the corner of a menu under “Dietary Pleasures,” with four ounces of beef, lightly charred, and nothing else. The flavor is very subtle, with a charcoal taste and a slight beefy aftertaste. And corn. The corn base.

These just disappointed me. I expected a good deal of flavoring, like a nice powder with a little tomato tang, a good deal of cheese, even mayonnaise, and a solid beef flavor to round it off, but these just brought nothing to the table. Save the flashy graphics and get a real snack.

3/10- ICKY

Fresh Side, Amherst, MA

I realize that my restaurant reviews have been far and few in between, so here’s a little something that I tried today. I’ve been sick, so my palate might be a bit…off. If it is and you’ve eaten any of my last few reviews and demand a re-try, comment now or forever hold your peace!

On a side note, not a single soul who marked “other” on my survey of what to improve has made a motion to let me in on the secret improvements. Tell me! Please!

So Mangia Massachusetts took care of me today. I have a bad case of sinusitis and have been laid up in bed, accompanied by many restless nights of rehearsal and various activities. It’s not good. So she babied me today and got me lunch, among other things. She picked up some soup from Fresh Side, a local organic Thai restaurant.

I had a coconut curry soup, and MM had a five-spiced beef soup, and we split an order of Pad Thai tea rolls. The coconut curry soup was a different surprise for me. I expected a traditional coconut soup, a creamy and sweet one, with pistachios, but this was a salty soup.

The soup is made fresh, when you order it, and came with snap peas, scallions, pieces of firm tofu, pieces of bamboo, and tiny cellophane noodles. It really is delicious and the coconut milk makes it starchy without being too flavorful. I was a little disappointed in that there wasn’t more coconut flavor, but the textures were amazing. No two were alike- the snap peas were crispy and sweet, the tofu soaked up the spices from the broth, the noodles were al dente. It was lovely. The broth itself was good, too. A nice spice with a slight burn at the back of your throat.

5/10- YUM

MM had the five-spice beef. She liked that it had big chunks of beef and many noodles. The spicy flavor was good at first, but wound up being too strong at the end and numbed up her taste buds, and from then on, everything tasted muted and bland. Her soup also tested the title of “fresh and organic.” In her soup, she found a little wormy! He might have snuck in with the fresh vegetables, but still, a rather unappealing surprise. The portions are also big. Neither of us was able to finish the soup!

7/10- LOVELY

And then we split a tea roll, with pad thai fillings- rice noodles, egg, chicken, and peanuts, with peanut sauce on the side. It was like an Asian burrito. It was lovely, and so filling! The textures were wonderful and not gummy or too thick, and the peanuts crunched. With the sauce, it was perfect! I could have eaten two of those on my own, I think. They were wonderful.

9/10- MMMM!

Fresh Side Restaurant
61 Main Street
Amherst, MA, 01003

Trader Joe’s Ready-To-Bake Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmmmm.

These are really good cookies. But they’re really bad to eat when you’re sick and it is ill advised to consume dairy.

Sometimes, though, you don’t care. Not one little bit.


Enter Trader Joe’s freezer cookies. They come in a box and are individually cut so that if one wishes to consume one cookie, one can do so. Likewise with five. Or sixteen, which is what I did, to make for Roomba and I to snack on. So I made these, cooked them. They were easy and the fact that they are in pre-cut and weighed pieces makes them cook evenly. Always a plus.


The entire process was easy. I mean, it’s not rocket science, but it’s also more convenient than using multiple bowls and utensils when you can just pop open a package and throw the cookies in the oven. But you knew that. So, the cookies. I baked them for 18 minutes, though the recommended time for crispy cookies was 14 minutes. Either the cookies are more raw than I think, or my oven just sucks.


I let them cool, and then bit into one. They were really delicious. There was a nice crust around the cookie, which gave a bit of a bite to it, but also allowed the soft, gooey inside to melt out. The texture was a little grainy and slightly greasy from the level of butter in these cookies, but that’s relatively excusable. Also a little thicker and chubbier than I normally like. But these cookies are excellent for the minimal amount of work they take and are sure to impress!

8/10- NUMMY