Mohegan Sun BrewFest 2013

Sometimes things don’t go as they’re planned. Moves. Relationships. Briefcases. Expos. What’s that? The first two were rom-com tropes, and the third and fourth are virtually unrelatable? It’s so much bigger than that. Please, allow me to extrapolate. The Bedfellow and I went to the Mohegan Sun BrewFest the other night. We went as members of the media (the casino supplied passes and food tokens), and halfway through the casino, strutting across the floor like kings, my new briefcase started to malfunction. The clasp has been failing, lately- it’s been breaking at inopportune moments, spilling my papers on the floor.

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Willams-Sonoma Bouchon Bakery Gluten-Free Carrot Muffin Mix

Spam comments are friendly. They’re weird, but they’re friendly. Certainly better than the weird shit I get from real people, ranging from complaints directed to a specific branch of a multinational corporation or disturbingly specific health issues, or personal attacks. Even the one that just said, ‘ass this is my website ass’ entertained me more than the diarrheic diatribe on…diarrhea. They keep me entertained during my long days, especially when I’ve caught up on work and have little to do but bake gluten-free muffins and dance with animatronic birds.

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Besito, West Hartford, CT

In a brief editorial by ‘First We Feast,’ the author decries the classic stereotype many people have about ethnic cuisine- we want it, but we don’t want to pay high premiums for it. In assuming that position, the food and the culture creating it is cheapened, relegated to a lower premium than steak or more European restaurant fare. The worth of Asian and Mexican cuisine can be just as high as that of Italian or French, as seen especially in restaurants like Shang Palace, with a level of authenticity as high as their less expensive counterparts. With this in mind, I was curious to try Besito, a John Tunney restaurant in West Hartford based on high-end, but authentic Mexican cuisine.
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Sweet Potato Gazpacho with Tomato-Basil Granita

I’m a childless adult! I have valiantly eschewed a life rife with diapers, fiscal responsibility, and listening to others. Was I surprised to be chosen for the Campbell’s Wisest Kid campaign? I most certainly was. But secretly, I’ve always wanted to be the cool aunt. Auntie Mame of the 21st century, if will. And despite my hedonistic lifestyle, I do have an ace up my sleeve: my little sister. She’s fairly wise, maybe Tootsie Roll Owl on a scale of infant to Einstein, and I figured that, while testing out recipes incorporating the soup, I’d ask her for some puerile wisdom. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Would you eat chicken noodle pot pies?
Julia: Idk!
Me: Would you eat purple onion and golden tomato soup?
Julia: probably not
Me: Would you eat sweet potato gazpacho with granita?
Julia: maybe

As you can see, Julia is a most discerning critic. All she needs to do now is grow a beard and she can effectively replace Campbell’s bearded mascot with her rapier wit and consistency. A girl after my own heart. In any case, the only recipe Julia expressed any remote interest to was the sweet potato gazpacho, with tomato and basil granita on top. It’s extremely simple- one box of Campbell’s Sweet Potato and Tomatillo bisque, one can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and ¼ cup of julienned basil. I froze the tomato soup, spices, olive oil, and basil with some water for two hours, then fluffed it with a fork for instant granita.

When I was ready to serve it, I heated up the bisque until it was warm, but not boiling hot, ladled it into bowls, and served it with a few spoonfuls of granita on top, serving it with a boorishly handsome sandwich, thick and shiny with maple butter and slices of jamon Serrano and roasted turkey jutting from the sides. I promptly forgot to take photos. I spread melting slices of Camembert, fresh via Great Barrington vis-a-vis France, atop the meat, garnished with a bit of jam and a cornichon out of sheer habit. It’s a summer sandwich, a last-resort and boundless sandwich, a meal for one or three. You don’t even want it toasted or hot so much as you just want the ingredients to sweat in the heat and bind together, ever so gently. The ideal temperature for this is on a plate, outside on an August day, the bread and soup absorbing the summer air and the filling creeping closer. It’s teen and adult-friendly and it’s extremely tasty. The Wisest Kid may soon change his name to the Kid with the Best Lunch.

Disclosure time! Campbell’s and BlogHer are paying me to write about this, but the baller recipe development is my own, as are the pithy comments from sissy.

Applegate Farms Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

I miss McDonald’s. They tweeted me the other day and I didn’t have the heart to tell them how much I loved them and wanted them back. I’ve been pulling up to the local franchise on North Beacon, standing outside with my trusty Sounddock cued up to ‘In Your Eyes.’ The neighbors really didn’t like that, but it’s for love, y’know?
I have also scared The Bedfellow on two occasions when she was eating a McDouble, the first culminating in the screamed repetition of ‘BREEEAAAADDDDDD’ along with an accusatory finger point, and the second was a little more subtle, the silent but ever-powerful ‘Hungry Dog’ look.

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Please note that this also happens with real cupcakes. But I’m getting help. I’m looking for solutions. One of those may or may not be the scarily reasonably-priced chicken nuggets from Applegate Farms. I get them from the Stop and Shop that has all of the gluten-free things, and then go to the Stop and Shop with the wide array of tortillas and better sauces. For a mere $5, I have the power of 16 chicken nuggets. They’re about 75% smaller than Mickey D’s, almost closer to popcorn chicken, and come with a selection of zero dipping sauces, but work out pretty well in the price department.

In fact, they actually remind me of my own homemade nuggets, may their recipe rest in peace. Rest in pie. Ress in pee. I give up, there’s no joke there. They are coated in a mixture of corn starch and rice flour, which could be pretty easy to replicate. I dipped them in hot mustard. Because the breading is somewhat yellowed to begin with, it’s difficult to tell when they are finished. I tested one for quality assurance and found that the breading was somewhat sticky when they were undercooked, but eventually crisped up with no trouble at all. And while I’m happy to flip over the nuggets to ensure maximum crunch, doing so with such delicate breading is frustrating.

Despite the slight fumbles, though, these are an amazing substitute for nuggets or any breaded chicken, if you’re patient and can get the breading very crispy. The chicken is tender and moist, with a thick, crispy coating, heavy on the black pepper. Dipped in hot mustard, there’s nothing better.
Also, because I’m an adult, I ate them on top of my recently paid insurance bills, hashtag classy, like a boss, or comparable bill-paying figure. I’m curious to see how these would be if I fried them, too. Ultimately, it’s something I would buy again. It’s easy to eat a box as a meal when you’re not in the mood to cook.

Lovely Superfruit Chews

Happy government shutdown! It’s okay, we have plenty to talk about on Foodette. Sometimes I feel like a pet seal- what can I say? I perform better when I have a small treat, and I need lots of little bites of energy to keep me through the day. I’m lucky that I live close enough to school that I don’t have to resort to buying my own lunch, but I like to keep a stash of goodies in my car and briefcase, too, for days when one class goes slightly over the schedule or when I just feel low on energy. Lately, I’ve been eating organic candy chews from Lovely Candy Co- these were sent to me over the summer, but I recently found the pack I’d been saving for school: superfruit!

They come in three flavors- blueberry, raspberry, and cranberry, and come individually wrapped. They are quite the faithful homage to Starburst- same creamy, chewy texture and shape, but are all natural, gluten-free, GMO-free, and fruity as hell, despite being somewhat stickier. I haven’t been able to put them down, and I’m not typically a candy person.
Where these succeed outside of their commercial counterparts is their flavor. They have sizable chunks of freeze-dried fruit, and some of the flavors have herbaceous notes to them. I am unsure if that’s from the fruit itself or an additional flavoring, but it makes for a very good foil to the sweet fruit and sugary base.

The only area where these fall short is packaging- the predictability of Starburst makes them easy to eat and parcel out. Everybody has a favorite flavor. With these, there are more to the package- approximately 30, but the flavor discrepancy was a little ridiculous. In my package, I had 17 blueberry candies, 10 cranberries, and 3 precious raspberries, which happened to be my favorite flavor. A more even adjustment would behoove the brand.