Rita’s Peeps Italian Ice

Haven’t you taken pleasure knowing that a food was fueled on the deaths of millions, or on the basis of insufferable cruelty? Pâté, for instance? Or veal cutlets? How about the kitchen of Semi-Homemade?

Well, yesterday, I had a confection that rivaled all. It took millions upon millions of tiny, smiling, droopy-beaked friends, it squashed them down, ground them up, froze them, and blended them into something incredible, so saccharine, yellow, and pee like in comparison, that they could only sell it for one day, but it rocked the nation like Tiger Woods rocked every single woman in the world.

It was Peeps Italian Ice at Rita’s.Yesterday, at their Free Italian Ice day, Rita’s debuted a new flavor of ice for one day only, the Peeps flavor, and I had to try it. It was bright, shocking yellow, like unnatural urine after a binge of Mello Yellow or a raver’s funeral. The flavor was pretty unnatural, too. It tasted like Peeps, I suppose. Like the sprinkles on Peeps, more. It also tasted like cake batter. The flavor, after a while, was way too intense. And by a while, I mean approximately three bites. Peeps are a fun novelty item because the flavor of marshmallow is partially diffused by the air that separates it. With this, it’s like eating marshmallow concentrate, and it’s pretty gross.

I thought the concept was cute, and I think it could be jazzed up a little and improved- like the quintessential toasted marshmallow milkshake idea, maybe with a shake, and a Peep on top? But this was watery and icky, and after a few bites, I left it on my dresser, and coming back and seeing it melted? Not pretty at all.

Vitamin Water Connect

If you ask me, Facebook is going the way of Old Yeller. Applications are creeping up like rabies and hidden charges everywhere, and soon we’re going to have to take it out to the backyard and shoot it in the skull.

Facebook is going to get one last product placement in, though, just you wait. I almost peed my pants when I saw this. I’ve been looking all over for it, and yesterday, while back at the old stomping grounds, I was ecstatic to find it in a little grocery store. That’s right, the new Vitamin Water flavor, Connect. You can connect with your friends over a mutual diabetes diagnosis after drinking too many of these. You can connect with a nameless hookup by sharing one of these- after all, you both already have syphilis anyway, what’s the difference? You can connect by sharing this with your bailiff as you read the subpoena for using “Facebook” too many times without a copyright…uh-oh.In any case, I was pumped. I scared the man at the cash register and took it home right away, and enjoyed it with a good sandwich today at lunch. The flavor reminds me of all the friends I had on Facebook that I ditched for a free Whopper when Burger King had that promotion- it lingers for a while, asking me why I dumped them, and I gently had to wash it down with a little water. It’s not subtle at all. The cherry flavor is really intense, but not too sweet, like the clingy one night stands that I sometimes hear from or the ones that everyone stalks. You know you’ve done it. It hits you first with the olfactory, and then, when you take a sip, reminds me of the juice boxes I had when I was a kid and the awful couples on Lamebook- overly syrupy and full of additives. (Sometimes bitter, too. Oh, and that’s a Burgundy glass because that’s sort of where this falls.)Oh, and stop posting your baby photos on Facebook, people. You’re not a baby anymore.

But where’s the lime? I wanted a cherry limeade, Vitamin Water. When I burped after drinking, I got a hint of lime, but overall, the predominant flavor was distinctly cherry. The disappointment was like logging onto Facebook, many moons ago (for the Foodette is always shackin’ up with the males!) and discovering that I had been dumped, seeing the little broken heart next to my name, coincidentally the same color as the juice in the bottle. “The Foodette is now single.” What a bummer, Vitamin Water. You’ve broken my little foodie heart.

I’m going to go post a status update about this retrogressive flavor.

Or, you know what? Fuck it, I’ll Tweet this.

Pretzelmaker Parmesan Pretzel

Yes, it’s back to the mall for me. You’re lucky I don’t start reviewing pretzel dogs. Or the flavor of crappy teenage vampire novels, which, for the record, tastes like sorrow and fear. Or those giant novelty lollipops which send a girl into diabetic shock after the first lick. Or the speed of a Rascal going on errands to FYE and making returns to Macy’s.

Anyway, the mall is a pretty gorgeous place, and my mall has not one, but two pretzel stands. I usually opt for both, but when I’m not being a gratuitous fatass, I go to the one closest to the pet store. Today’s excursion, while rife with miniature dachshunds, was also a story of heartbreak for the parmesan pretzel.I ordered the pretzel and dug in. While slightly misshapen, it was also a little different from the Sour Cream and Garlic monstrosity at Auntie Anne’s that I’d so enjoyed. It hadn’t been dipped in any toppings, rather, they’d just been sprinkled on, and I’d seen nothing viscous as to adhere to the toppings whatsoever. Because of this, there was also a really uneven distribution of cheese, as it was literally just thrown on by the guy at the counter. The pretzel bread dough, interestingly enough, was sweeter than I thought it would be, and tasted like more of a honey wheat, but it was a tasty vessel for the cheese. It was pretty buttery in flavor, but in texture, it seemed dryer. It was chewy and doughy, like it had been underbaked, but was overall, satisfying, and sustained me for a few hours as I made fun of the Hot Topic loiterers and cut in line for Alice in Wonderland.

Okay, readers, tell me…who do you hate at the mall?

Nancy’s Mini Cheese Soufflés

Everyone loves dinner parties and, more importantly, the foods served at dinner parties. Everyone wants to be that glamorous, awesome host or hostess walking around in a cocktail gown or tuxedo, gabbing about Yquem or Diderot and charming everyone so much that the party is talked about for weeks until someone throws a better one.Not everyone can be so charming and lucky, though, and there I was, all by myself in my mother’s house, dressed to the nines in my Mamon’s Falafels t-shirt and beagle boxers with my guests- my two dogs, talking to myself about Byronic heroes and malolactic fermentation and because I didn’t have a party to make, I was preparing these little soufflés from Nancy’s. Even though I was all dressed up with no place to go, they made me, the everyman, feel like a million bucks.The little soufflés, along with some deli rolls that I’ll cover in another post, are decadent tiny grenades of pastry with Neufchatel cheese and egg yolk. They’re tiny, but boy, are they insane. Putting them in the oven, I wondered to myself how I’d accurately create the party atmosphere. So I decided to put some Barry White on and walk around the kitchen, grabbing soufflés from the serving tray as I aimlessly wandered around the kitchen and dining room, eating them as I walked. They are indeed the perfect finger food- the cheese filling is creamy and light, like a mousse, and was very hot. And they puffed up pretty well, like a real soufflé! I was right when I put an extra four minutes to cook, they needed more than the nine suggested minutes that the package gave.However, be warned. These are little tiny food terrorists. Three of these, which are no bigger than a miniature Reese’s, pack as much fat and calories as a slice of cheese pizza, and they’re supposed to be appetizers. And they’re very tasty- you won’t want to stop at three. As for taste, though, the dough wasn’t greasy and crisped up well in the oven, and the filling was decent, but the bold assertion of calling these cheese soufflés is a little ballsy, considering the only cheese is Neufchatel- hardly a cheese to stand on.

The color was also a little bit of a turn-off for me. I would have liked to see them get crispier, more golden, but I was afraid of over baking them. Nancy’s does try to guide our feeble hands in the presentation of a party, for we are stupid and do not know, and shows us how to garnish and make things colorful. I went for the bachelorette/Bobby Flay route and chose to add a little honey mustard and chipotle powder for color, and when I dunked them in, they looked like little frosted cupcakes.But overall, addictive as hell. Make your guests fat and laugh from the sidelines in your rented tuxedo. Tune in soon for another Nancy’s product.

Mountain House Neopolitan Ice Cream

Or, if I was ten, HOLY CRAP, MOM, ASTRONAUT ICE CREAM.

Seriously. In the hierarchy of black market trading in the 4th grade, this shit reigned supreme. I mean, unless you had Pokémon cards or a really good Gameboy Color game, or, for a while, Crazy Bones, this was the “good stuff,” because not only did it mean that you’d been to a science museum and survived long enough to get to the gift shop, it meant that your mom hadn’t made you leave with an educational toy.

No, you got to pick your own thing, and that automatically seceded skipping past all the geodes and telescopes and went for the ice cream. It’s what the astronauts eat. You know, when they’re not doing actual work or peeing in a bag.I found this particular specimen on a rainy night on spring break (yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!) in a Walmart, sourly dissipating all of my lies about childhood. I ran over to the display and jumped up until Swagger reached it for me, screeching, “HEY, ASTRONAUTS DON’T SHOP HERE!” only to find that it was some freeze-dried camping shit.

Intrigued, though, we bought it, delighted to see what intrepid campers survive on. It’s a relatively small block, pretty dense for its size, and is separated into the three traditional colors of the Neopolitan ice cream- strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. It was, sadly, broken into quite a few pieces despite the amount of packaging that Mountain House used. Seriously, all that stuff could choke like, twelve baby seals and an infant to boot and the ice cream still cracked. And we pulled it from the back part of the shelf. For shame.Tasting it was strange. It resembled, in no possible way, anything ever related to ice cream. This was like the Chevy Chase end of Steely Dan…like, really? The flavors, though vaguely akin to their original predecessors at one point or another, like, vaguely strawberry, tasting like snorting Nesquik, vaguely chocolate, like bittersweet baking chocolate, and vaguely vanilla, tasting like sweetened dairy creamers, were all completely dry yet still had the uncanny and unpleasant quality of sticking to all our teeth.

It didn’t melt in our mouth and destroyed my childhood. Eating this was like realizing how hard it would take to become an astronaut and get to consume this in a space ship- that I’d have to do a lot of math and work out all the time. If I were on Mount Everest eating this, I’d have thrown myself off out of sheer self-loathing by now.

Pierogi

The rain in Amherst has been freezing cold and has driven me inside, never venturing out unless an emergency strikes or something worthwhile comes my way, like an opportunity to make pierogi with Fleeper and Erik.Fleeper’s mother has been making these for years, as has her grandmother, for a Christmas tradition, and they’ve filled them with all kinds of things, but we used the quintessential Polish filling- farmer’s cheese and potato. Sauerkraut if you’re feeling adventurous, but we were not.

Ingredients (serves 2-10, makes about 4 dozen)

4 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of water
1 egg
Salt to taste
1 1/2 lbs of farmer’s cheese
2 potatoes, boiled and mashed or riced
2 cups of sour cream

1. Peel and chop the potatoes into even chunks. Boil them for 15-20 minutes until they can be mashed. Let cool and drain.
2. While those are boiling, get the pasta dough ready. Sift the flour and salt and make a well, and crack the egg in that. Mix together with your hands and knead. Let that sit for a while and mash your potatoes with your farmer’s cheese- yes, the whole loaf of it, in the same pot that you mashed the taters in. Salt to taste and let it cool.
3. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-1/8th of an inch thick and with a tart cutter or a glass, cut rounds for the pierogi. Keep cutting until there is no dough left.4. In each tart round, spoon one and a half to two tablespoons (it’s okay to have a lot!) of filling into the middle of the dough and fold over into a crescent, sealing with a little warm water around the edges and crimping with a fork. Trim the excess dough off. Start boiling water and heating a medium-sized saucepan as well while you are doing this.5. When all of these are finished, drop into the water, making sure that they are sealed carefully so that the filling doesn’t leak out while they’re boiling. When they float to the top, they’re ready.
6. Transfer the floating pierogi to a buttered and hot pan and fry until golden brown and crispy on each side. Serve hot with sour cream.Pierogi are very hearty and delicious with soup, sandwiches, pretty much anything and are easy to keep as leftovers. Delicious! Thanks, Fleeper!

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

In his book, Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs describes his drugs as “the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy.”

Obviously the drug in question was Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Vonnegut and I took a pilgrimage to find an excellent burger and hot dog, and to our surprise, a little quick research told us that it was right under our noses, at a fast food restaurant, nonetheless. Off we went. The environment at 5G is very busy and possibly a little hostile. Our order was barked back at us by the Counter Bro not once, but four times, first by us, then by him, and then, when he shouted it at a slightly louder and more authoritative tone, by his cooks, standing readily at attention and mumbling back when he shouted, cowed under the mindless drudgery of a menial, minimum-wage job.

He also called Vonnegut his “bro.” We were not impressed.

Sitting down, we realized that there were fresh peanuts for an appetizer or projectile device, but were a little turned off by the fact that they were sitting on a garbage can. When our food arrived, in a brown paper bag, we quickly tucked in.

Vonnegut ordered a bacon cheeseburger with barbecue sauce, and I ordered a bacon cheese dog. We both split an order of regular fries and had drinks to go along with it. The hot dog was a hefty size, and had been split and grilled until very crispy. Hmm. 5G came prepared. The bread wasn’t anything to write home about, but it held together well and tasted homemade, a refreshing change to the crappy hot dog buns I’m normally used to. The bacon was excellent, and very crispy, and over the entire thing, the cheese had melted and settled pleasantly. The sandwich itself was quite good, and I found that even though 5G doesn’t tout a particularly large hot dog, it’s quite filling in its own right.I was quite happy with the entire thing, especially the hot dog, which had a nice crisp bite to it and chewed well- no gristle or sinew, and no strange flavorings or additives. I’m normally not a fan of Hebrew National, but this hot dog tasted superior to the ones I’ve normally had. Perhaps this chain didn’t use HN? All-beef hot dogs have a very salty aftertaste and often release liquid, making the sandwich mushy, and I tend to frequent pork or turkey dogs because of that, but the grilling might have made this more firm and crispy and less likely to leak.Vonnegut’s burger was delicious. Each patty, because it was hand-formed, was tender and yielded to each bite without slipping out of the bun in a large chunk. It was perfectly cooked and crispy on the outside. I might have liked to see it with a little more flavor, because I didn’t notice a whole lot from the burger itself, but the toppings- a nice, melted American cheese, crispy, crispy bacon like my hot dog, and A-1 barbecue sauce, were evenly distributed and delicious. If both buns were toasted, I would not complain.On a side note, both Vonnegut and I staunchly agree that a sandwich is meat and cheese, and possibly french fries or chips. No sandwich ought to be interrupted by the jolting and fresh distribution of vegetables. Order a salad if you want veggies, but this is a sandwich. Meat and cheese.The fries, though. I wish I could tell you more, but I was in a…bit of a haze while eating these fries. They came out, and be warned- a regular is enough for two, possibly three people. They fill a regular drink cup with the fries, and then throw an extra scoop into the paper bag along with that cup, so you’re basically getting two cups in a “regular” serving.Eating them is an experience, though, a bit like being high. They taste so perfectly true to their original tuber form and are cooked so well that they absorb just a little bit of the oil’s flavor to make a crisp and buttery flavor, but not so much to make them soggy. Every last fry- every single last one, was crispy until the end of the bag, when we finished half an hour later. And the fries needed no salt or pepper, just their natural flavor was enough. They were so crisp and delicious that it was easy to finish a regular order.

These might just be better than Chick-Fil-A’s.5G is a great experience, though, and with their simple menu and decor, it’s a nice taste of how gourmet fast food can be when it tries a little harder. I know I’ll be back for more of those fries in the future!

Trader Joe’s Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

He looked me square in the eye and said, “I bet you can’t eat just one handful.” And I looked vaguely in his direction and said, ” Yeah, sure, I’m sure they’re just great.” It was the best kind of a Mexican standoff, in the middle of a Trader Joe’s, organic, fair trade, child labor free pomelos rolling by like tumbleweeds, and I took the package from him.Trader Joe’s Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

Oh, you think you’re so cute. So tiny and bitty. Perfect to give to a child to serve at only the most haute of doll tea parties. Perfect for the burliest of porn star caliber men to pop in his mouth, a quick, protein laden energy boost with a sweet, sultry side. Perfect for the self-proclaimed motherly chocoholics.

You think you’re so perfect.
So I tried them. I brought them to Shutter Island and I tried them, and in the course of four days, they were gone. They are miniscule, and the chocolate is sweet. It carries a slight vanilla flavor, but that wavers in comparison to the veritable ocean of peanut butter that comes in when the chocolate melts. It’s just slightly salty, with a smooth texture.The melt is lovely, and the chocolate is chewy, but doesn’t get brittle or snappy. I wished that the peanut butter was a little saltier and grainier on the palate, as to provide a comparison, because after a while, the flavors just melted together. Reese’s does it quite well, with the peanut butter, but their chocolate doesn’t compare to Trader Joe’s. This one tastes more like a homemade peanut butter cup than anything else, but I loved them so.

Damn you, bitty monsters. Damn you to hell.

Doritos 1st Degree Burn: Blazin’ Jalapeno

Dude.

Seriously?

Frito Lay, are you on massive amounts of cocaine and possibly, the influence of your own lemonade?

1st Degree Burn. I don’t know where to begin with this one. I mean, do you know what a 1st degree burn looks like? It’s not so bad. However, the degrees go up and all of a sudden, you’re getting horrible, Clockwork Orange-style images broadcasting in your head over and over while eating these chips.

Frito Lay, a third degree burn is nothing to sneeze at.But onto the chips. Clever marketing, really, if you’re exploiting burn victims and pyromaniacs and pyrophobics or whatever. I think I’d be kind of pissed if I saw these on the shelf after being scarred, but that’s just me. The chips are in a bag that is ON FIRE, people, so take caution that these won’t burn you, ha ha ha.

Frito Lay, I have long since ceased all amusement.

The flavor is good. With these chips, it starts out with its bark being worse than its bite. You smell these, and they smell pretty intense, and then taste them, and to be honest, my first impression was pretty weak. I got flavors of cinnamon, of all things, and then a sweet, fruity jalapeno taste. It was definitely sweeter than a lot of pepper flavors that I’ve had, but about the level of heat that I expect from something with peppers in it.After a few seconds, the burn kicked in, and it started not on my tongue, oddly, but in the back of my throat, a lingering heat that made me grab some lemonade. It stays there, too, and it just keeps getting more intense. It was like sitting through a bad Robin Williams movie. The aftertaste of the heat, which made my nose run and irritated my mouth, stayed and stayed for about six minutes after the chip, on my tongue and in the back of my throat, like I’d decided it would be fun to detonate a can of pepper spray on my tongue.

These are fun chips, but after eating four of the 1st degree chips and wimping out, I’m a little afraid of the next two degrees of burn. Maybe this is a project for Swagger. Or maybe I’ll just have to man up.

Fat Pride Times also reviewed these and offered to send me a few bags of these in the event that I couldn’t find them in my area, but I ended up finding some last night. Thanks, guys!