Completely Random Product Reviews

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Peace Tea: Imported Ceylon Tea

Posted by bronzechains on January 11, 2011

I’ve had two cans of this tea, and I feel like I’m ready to give it a proper review.  For starters, it might be of interest to you to know what Ceylon tea is.  It’s a tea grown in Sri Lanka, and they have very specific and impressive methods of gathering and processing their tea leaves.  If you’re a nerd like me, I’d highly recommend reading this article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceylon_tea

I didn’t read the whole Wikipedia article, just enough to get the “gist” of it.  Is “gist” even a real word?  I don’t care, I”m using it.  Anyway, on to the review.   My good homie Tyler sang the praises of this tea a couple of times before I gave it a shot.  I should precede my review by noting that I”m VERY picky about my bottled/canned teas.  Lipton Brisk tea would be born straight from the bowels of hell, were I to believe in the place.  I think it’s awful, and I won’t touch the stuff.  Gold Peak bottled tea is one of my favorites, but this new Peace Tea looks like it’s going to be a real contender.

Peace Tea comes in a 23 oz. can, which is pretty huge as far as canned beverages go.  And at 99 cents a can, it’s quite a bargain.  But does it taste good?  Yes, yes it does. It doesn’t have that overly tart and tangy flavor that many bottled and canned teas are plagued with.  I’m looking right at you, Lipton Brisk.  I want to drink tea, not tea with 8 cups of sour-ass citric acid in it.  So Peace Tea, good stuff.  The tangy flavor I hate is there in a very minimal qauntity, and it doesn’t bother me at all.  This stuff is flat (not a bad thing), and has no carbonation.  That’s just a heads-up, since so many people look for something fizzy when they reach into the coolers at the local convenience store.  That being said, this tea is pretty refreshing, and doesn’t taste overly sweet.  It goes down easily, and does leave a little bit of that tartness in my mouth that I believe comes from the tannins in the tea.  Correct me if I’m wrong.  Most importantly, it tastes like tea.  It’s a wonderful alternative to all the colas and carbonated drinks out there, which sometimes give me stomach discomfort.  Yeah, I’m getting old.  A lot of the sugared sodas out there are almost syrupy in their sweetness.  Mountain Dew and Pepsi are particuarly guilty of this, yet I still buy them on occasion.  It’s mostly out of habit. I buy a bottle, then quickly regret it.  Help me, Peace Tea.  You’re my only hope.



Regarding the packaging, I’m not a huge fan of the artwork.  But that’s of minor consequence to me.  They seem to be going for the whole “peace on earth” angle, and the imagery is just a bit… odd.  I do see a graphical representation of people from all over the world, which I guess promotes equality in some way, or at least shows that they’re not dirty racists.  They boast 100% natural tea, no preservatives, no artificial colors, and no artificial flavors,   These are things I would expect from this tea, and I’m glad to see they didn’t load it up with a bunch of unnecessary crap.  In addition to their health/purity claims, they make sure to tell us to “Find Your Center”, “Be the Change”, and make sure to remind us that “Love Is All Around Us”, and “Peace Comes From Within”.  Yeah, I see love all around me when some douche doesn’t use his turn signal and cuts me off in traffic.  Sorry, love isn’t quite everywhere.  Maybe if we all drank Peace Tea, we’d be a bunch of caring brothers and sisters and world peace  would truly come.  But I doubt it.  I’ll just stick to enjoying my newfound beverage.

Peace Tea comes in other flavors, too.  They have Razzleberry, which my friend says isn’t that great.  They also have a sweet lemon flavor, which I will steer clear of.  Green tea is also available, along with High Tea, and Matcha Green.  I’ve not seen the two latter flavors, and I have no idea what they are.  I may give the Razzleberry tea a day in court, and if I see the High Tea or Matcha Green in the store I’ll at least check them out.  But for now, I give the Imported Ceylon variety two thumbs up.  Only 150 calories a can, or 50 calories per serving if you can manage to split the can into three servings.  This 23 oz. can contains 100 less calories than a 20 oz. bottle of Pepsi.  I usually sip on something like this over the course of a few hours, much to the chagrin of dentists around the world.  Hey, if I didn’t ruin my teeth, you wouldn’t have jobs.  So lay off.

Peace Tea Imported Ceylon.  99 cents.  You can’t go wrong.  Oh, and sugar instead of HFCS, for those of you that care about that kind of thing.  Two thumbs up.  Pick up a can today.  Also, sorry for the low-quality pictures.  I was too lazy to turn on my ceiling fan light.

P.S.  I listened to Dimmu Borgir’s “Abrahadabra” album, and some of Daisy Chainsaw’s “Eleventeen” album while writing this review.  I don’t know why I feel compelled to tell you readers this, but I keep doing it.

Posted in Food, Grocery, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

GoGo SqueeZ: applesauce on the go.

Posted by bronzechains on December 4, 2010

Impulse buys at the register:  I’m occasionally guilty.  I saw this while waiting in the checkout line at Wal-Mart yesterday, and it’s 67 cent price tag convinced me to give it a try and share my thoughts with the internets.  GoGo Squeez applesauce is a great idea in theory, but how does it taste?

Well, it tastes like applesauce.  And really, that’s all I would expect going into this experiment.  It’s good applesauce, with no extra sugar or other added ingredients.  Apples, and apple juice concentrate are all that you’ll find in this handy and resealable pouch.  It’s not ultra-sweet, and it doesn’t have any odd flavors at all.  The packaging reminds me of the kind of food astronauts eat in zero gravity, so GoGo Squeez gets extra cool points for that.

Regarding nutrition, GoGo Squeez is great and you won’t find any surprises.  Each 60 calorie pouch is equal to one serving of fruit, and that’s really all there is to say.  Simplicity is key in applesauce for me.  I don’t want added sugar, or artificial flavors or colors.  Just mash up some apples and let me eat!  I’ve gotta say, this is really an awesome and convenient way to get a serving of fruit when you’re on the move.

This product is marketed as a healthy snack for kids, and I couldn’t be happier with it in that aspect.  Eating on the go is nothing new, and we (especially Americans) have been doing it for years.  What a great alternative to other portable snacks, though.  Sure, you can carry around some fruit roll-ups or Goldfish crackers in your purse or glovebox in case the kids get whiny and hungry, but plain old fruit has never been this easy.  Without any unnecessary or unhealthy additives, you don’t have to feel like a shitty parent when you pacify your toddler with this on a trip to… wherever you’re going.  Vacations, family gatherings, or just a trip to the grocery store.  I have 4 kids, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Dad, I’m hungry!” at  times when a snack just isn’t easy to provide.  Applesauce is so much better than stopping at a drive-thru for french fries.  All of my babies are pretty much past the age where this product would be a lifesaver very often, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to spread the word to the rest of you parents.  I found this among the gift cards, candy bars, and lip balm at the Wal-Mart checkout area.  If you see these, grab a few to carry with you when you’re out with the kids.  Hell, grab a few for yourself.  I’m not above eating something marketed toward kids if I like it.  These would work for just about anyone, including your grandma who has no teeth.

My good friend (and ex-wife, lol) Kelli was with me on this shopping trip, and she tested out the product as well.  I’ll share her opinions, as well.  She thought the applesauce was pretty sweet, and had a very minor “weird taste” that could have come from the packaging.  I didn’t detect this at all, and she’s pregnant anyway.  So I’m going to say she’s imagining it.  ;)   <—That means I’m joking, Kelli.  So don’t go all preggo-rage on me!  But overall, she was pleased with the applesauce, and gave it one and a half thumbs up.  Not bad!

Bottom line:  Simple, healthy, tasty, and portable.  What’s not to like?  I give GoGo Squeez applesauce two big thumbs up.  According to the website, available flavors include:  AppleApple (which I had), ApplePeach, AppleBanana, AppleCinnamon, and AppleStrawberry.  I’ve yet to see these other flavors, but I’ll try them if I can find them.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Lean Pockets: Garlic Chicken White Pizza

Posted by bronzechains on March 3, 2010

It’s been about 4 months since my last review, and I really don’t have a good reason for that.  Obviously, I’ve purchased things since then.  Things I could have reviewed.  I’m just a world-class procrastinator, so I haven’t been motivated enough to tackle the monumental task of typing words on a computer.  Yeah, I’m a winner!  Seriously, I should get some kind of championship belt for procrastination. Wal-Mart sells these cheap foam/plastic championship belts so that you can pretend to be a wrestler or UFC fighter.  I should get one of those, and paint “Procrastination Federation Heavyweight Champion” on it.  Nah, I’m not motivated enough for that, either.  I’ll just be happy that I’m actually sitting here now, typing up a new review :)

Up on the chopping block today is:

I realize that Lean Pockets aren’t the greatest choice when looking for a sensible meal.  But dammit, they’re healthier than regular Hot Pockets!  These were on sale at Wal-Mart for $2.50 per box, so I tossed one in the cart.  Regular readers know that I’m a sucker for a new product, so I opted for the “Garlic Chicken White Pizza” variety.  These come from Lean Pockets’ new “Chef Inspired” line of products.  Before diving into the actual review, I have to share with you something that I read on the Lean Pockets website.  Their description of the “Chef Inspired” pockets reads thusly:

“All the flavor and foodie fanciness a celebrity chef could provide – only unpretentious and portable. Get the flavorful herb toppings and creamy sauces inspired by chefs to go – in 8 grams of fat or less.”

Seriously?  What kind of bullshit is that?  I couldn’t help but laugh at that crap.  “All the flavor… a celebrity chef could provide…”  What the hell does that even mean?  They’re obviously trying to cash in on the current trend of restaurants and food companies selling special celebrity chef-inspired dishes and products  Food Network’s Guy Fieri and TGI Friday’s comes to mind.  Hell, you can even find Rachel Ray olive oil and chicken stock at the grocery store now.  Emeril Lagasse has all kinds of shit with his face on it.  Guess what?  His pasta sauce SUCKS.  Maybe some people are falling for that crap, but I’m not.  At least Lean Pockets didn’t plaster a picture of faux-chef Rachel Ray or someone on their box.  I wouldn’t have bought it if that were the case.  So yeah, lame marketing strategy.  But on with the food review!

I am by no means a food snob.  I love my junk food, convenience food, fast food, and fancy-shmancy food equally.  So, I do like Hot Pockets.  They’re like big, souped-up pizza rolls.  This particular Hot Pocket won’t be making it into my favorites list, but it’s decent.  First off, let’s cover the white sauce/cheese combo.  Listed in the ingredients are parmesan, fontina, and mozzarella cheeses.  They all kind of get lost together and become one with the white sauce, but the end result is palatable enough.  Garlic is in full effect, but the sauce is a little too pasty and thick.  I would not describe it as “creamy” for anything less than $25, lol.  I just LOL’d in a product review; how professional.  So, the sauce isn’t bad at all.


The chicken was plentiful enough, considering how cheap these pockets are.  The flavor of the chicken was a little weak, but on par with most other, similar frozen foods.  The sauce definitely overpowered the chicken, but the texture was there.  I was pleased to find little onion bits inside the Lean Pocket.  If it were legal to marry vegetables, I’d hook it up with onions in a heartbeat.  I love onions.  They’re definitely a nice addition to this product.
The crust….where to begin with the crust?  Hot Pockets are never as crispy as I’d like.  I suppose I could bake them in the oven, but I’m not waiting 30 minutes for a damned Hot Pocket.  The crisping sleeve helps, but the crust still comes out more chewy than crispy.  That being said, the crust was pretty tasty.  It’s made with whole grains, and provides 3 grams (12%) of dietary fiber.  The crust is seasoned/sprinkled with herbs and spices, which is a good thing.  Hot/Lean Pocket crusts can suffer from lack of flavor sometimes, so it’s nice to see them making an effort to jazz it up a bit.

Regarding nutrition, these aren’t terrible at all.  They’re marketed as a “lean” product, so I’m paying attention to the calories and fat.  Here’s a shot of the nutrition info:

My dad always tells me that a good general rule is to try not to eat a lot of foods that have more than 1/3 of the total calories from fat.  This one falls well below that guideline, so I’m giving it a thumbs up.  If you could manage to eat just one of these with a serving of pretzels or baked chips (or a piece of fruit) for lunch, you’d probably be doing  just fine if you’re trying to watch your weight.

Overall, I give the Garlic Chicken White Pizza Lean Pockets the thumbs-up.  My one gripe is the sauce texture.  Not a huge problem, but it’s something they could work on.  I’ll probably try one of the other new varieties of Lean Pockets next time if the price is right.

I had to poop the entire time I was writing this review, by the way.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

Arizona Iced Tea Stix

Posted by bronzechains on November 12, 2009

Before I get on with the actual review, I have to do a little (mostly) facetious griping.

Two things:

I hate it when non-music websites feature music that automatically plays when the site loads.  That’s presumptuous, and it pisses me off.  If it’s a band, record label, or otherwise music-related website, I’ll let it slide.  But why the hell does Arizona Tea need music on their site?  I went to their website for information on their products, not to find out what kind of fucking music their web design guy thinks is cool.  Seriously, that pisses me right off.  I was listening to my own music, and then Arizona shit all over it by playing a song by some shitfest of a band called This Blue Holiday.  I don’t even know if they’re any good, and now I’ll never find out.  The band has lost one potential fan because they allowed their music to be featured on Arizona’s website.  Fuck Arizona.  Now I’m even mad at the state of Arizona.  That’s how bad they fucked up.  There’s so much sand in my proverbial vagina from this incident that my anger has bled over to something completely innocent, except for the fact that it shares it’s name with the bastard tea company.

Secondly, the word “stix” is ridiculous.  It’s just as bad as “Xtreme”.  This is not 1994, and we are not talking about a new and exciting bold flavor of Doritos.  “Xtreme” sucks, and so does “stix”.  To hell with replacing the “cks” at the end of a word with an X.
Okay, I’m done.  If you’re still with me and you realize that my panties are not really in a bunch over the aforementioned topics, please read on.  I’ve been using the Arizona powdered tea mix pouches for several weeks now, and I feel like I’m ready to give them a fair review.  The tea “stix” come in boxes of 10.  Arizona recommends using one pouch of tea powder per bottle of water.  This can, of course, be adjusted based on how strong you like your tea.  I bought these as a substitute for the gratuitous amounts of fountain soda from the gas station that I usually drink.  Once my 32 oz. fountain cup is empty, I put in about 20 oz. of water, ice, and one pouch of tea powder.  This is a sugar-free tea sweetened with Splenda, so it’s calorie-free.  Focusing solely on the artificial sweetener, I’m satisfied.  There isn’t really any nasty aftertaste, and it’s definitely sweet enough.  Now, on to the details for both varieties I’ve had.

 

greenteapom

 

The pomegranate green tea variety is the shit, plain and simple.  I’ve gone through 3 boxes of the stuff, and I love it.  It’s light and fruity, and moderately sweet.   Much better than drinking a syrupy cola.  Obviously, it doesn’t taste like freshly brewed tea, but let’s be reasonable.  For a powdered tea mix, it’s just fine.  The pomegranate flavor does overpower the mild taste of the green tea, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing to me.  It’s more like a sugar-free Kool-Aid kind of drink than it is a tea.  In my experience, green tea is a pretty weak flavor anyway.  So it could use a little help.  There’s a tiny amount of caffeine in this tea, FYI.  Not enough to do much, but it is there.  Arizona’s website claims that there are 7.5 mg of caffeine per 8 oz.

 

greentea

 

More recently, I decided to give their regular green tea flavor a try.  Initially, I thought it was crap.  The first time I drank it, there was an overpowering lemon-ish flavor that I did NOT like.  It reminds of that flavor that’s in pretty much ALL bottled and canned teas.  Drink a can of Lipton’s Brisk tea and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  I don’t know what exactly that flavor is, but it’s in this tea also.  So, I was stuck with 9 more of these tea pouches.  I decided to go ahead and suffer through the rest of them since I’d already paid for them.  I’m very happy to report that the weird flavor is not nearly as noticeable the second time around.  I’ve grown to like this stuff, but not nearly as much as the pomegranate flavor.  I’ll finish the box, but it won’t be a repeat purchase.

I bought both of these varieties at Wal-Mart.  Each box of 10 pouches cost me $2.16.  That works out to about 22 cents per pouch, which is considerable cheaper than soda.  Arizona Iced Tea Stix are a nice change of pace from the carbonated diet cola I usually drink, and I plan on continuing to buy them.  I stole those pictures from Amazon.com, by the way.  That’s why they say “6 pack” on them.  I forgot to take pictures of my boxes, and I’m too impatient to hold off on this review until I buy more.  I’m not going to include pictures of the prepared drink mixes, because that would just be boring.  The pomegranate looks like dark red fruit punch, and the green tea looks like tea, or cloudy brown pee.  ‘Nuff said.

Big thumbs up for the Pomegranate, and not-so-big thumbs up for the Green Tea flavor.  Now go buy some tea!

 

I listened to Squirtgun, Leftover Crack, Type O Negative, and Elton John while I wrote this review.  I just wanted to tell you that.  Have a nice day.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Impromptu Road Trip: Red Robin!

Posted by bronzechains on August 15, 2009

I was watching TV with my roommate last night, when the topic of conversation somehow landed on Red Robin.  Neither of us can remember how it came up, but once it did, we were doomed.  “I’m gonna go get online and see where the nearest Red Robin is,” Gabe said.  5 minutes later, I’m in the middle of changing strings on my guitar and he tells me there’s one in Carmel, which is just north of Indianapolis.  About an hour’s drive or so.  Thinking about a burger from Red Robin apparently lit a fire under Gabe’s ass, because he was practically already in the car on the way there.  All he needed was me to come along.  I hesitated for a moment, but I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have my first taste of a Red Robin burger.  I’d heard good things, and I’d always wanted to try one.  Little did I know there was one within driving distance!  So after a quick fill-up at the gas station, we headed up to Carmel for a meal that was sure to overload my stomach.  Seriously, I wasn’t even hungry.  The trip was easy, thanks to the super-sweet GPS feature on Gabe’s Iphone.  Trips to Indy can be messy for out-of-towners, but we had no problems at all.

Red Robin is a pretty badass place, visually.  There’s a seemingly random mish-mash of crap all over the walls, and it could easily be too busy looking.  But it worked.  In the waiting area (which we didn’t need since we got there at 9pm), there is a FREAKING TELEVISION IN THE FLOOR.  Yeah, an actual TV in the floor.  It’s protected by a thick layer of plexiglass, but you can sit and watch TV while you wait for your table.  The place was practically deserted, and we were seated promptly.  I ordered the Burnin’ Love burger, which is described on the menu thusly:

You’ll get fired up for the crispy-fried jalapeno rings, tangy salsa, and spicy Pepper-Jack cheese layered on top of our cayenne-seasoned burger.  It’s topped with shredded lettuce and tomato to cool things off and served on a jalapeno-cornmeal Kaiser roll with Chipotle mayo.

redrobin1

Anyone who knows me is aware of my inability to pass up an allegedly spicy food item.   If it’s hot and spicy, I’m on it.  The burger arrived medium-well, just like I ordered.  The meat was excellent, and had a great lightly seasoned flavor.  It tasted like it had been cooked on a grill in my backyard.  The lettuce and tomato were too much, and the tomato left the bun quite soggy as I neared the end of the sandwich.  I’m NOT a “lettuce and tomato” kind of guy, but I figured I’d take the burger as it was intended since this was my first Red Robin visit.  The massive amount of lettuce distracted me from the rest of the burger, but it wasn’t bad lettuce.  The fried jalapeno rings were devoid of heat, but were a nice flavor and texture addition.  The salsa wasn’t spectacular, but it was solid.  The pepperjack cheese was very good, but I could have used one more slice on the burger.  The mayo was a good, subtle addition, and didn’t overpower or “goop up” the sandwich at all.  Finally, the Kaiser bun wasn’t bad either.  It was big enough to support the sandwich, but it did begin to fall apart just a bit, due to the tomatoes.

redrobin2

All burgers include “bottomless” steak fries.  This, my friends, kicks ass.  They keep coming as long as you ask.  Red Robin’s steak fries are really, really solid fries.  They’re crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.  There’s a very light dusting of Red Robin’s seasoned salt on the fries, but you can add more at the table if you wish.  I loved the fries so much that I ordered a second basket.  They’re not fancy at all, but that’s not what I look for in a fry.  I want a good, crispy fry that’s not dried out in the middle.  If it’s floppy, it can fuck right the hell off.  I hate nothing more than floppy fries.  Kudos to Red Robin for acing the fry test.  If Red Robin were an Ebay seller, and I bought something from them, I’d leave feedback that looked something like this:

A++++ SELLER!   WOULD BUY FROM AGAIN!  BEST ON EBAY!  SRSLY 4 REALZ.

Or something like that.  Gabe had the Whiskey River BBQ burger, and he enjoyed it.  You can check out Red Robin’s website for a description for that one, along with all their other tasty-sounding burgers and various offerings.  Based on this one trip to Red Robin, I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I deducted the 1/2 star just because they drowned the sandwich with lettuce.  Good stuff, can’t wait to go back.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »

Popeyes Chicken!

Posted by bronzechains on July 14, 2009

No, I didn’t forget the apostrophe in “Popeyes”; that’s how they spell it.  Recently, my ex-wife Kelli and I (along with her man, Alex) took our kids to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis for a day of education and fun.  If you live nearby, it’s well worth your time.  That place kicks ass, for realz.  Don’t worry, I was speaking (or typing) facetiously when I said “for realz”.  I don’t really talk like that.  Anyway, after playing at the museum all day, everyone was ready for a filling meal.  We had initially planned on waiting until we got back to town to eat, but the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on 38th in Indy caught our eyes.  We’d recently discussed the fact that none of us had ever eaten at Popeyes, and everyone seemed down for some fried bird.  So we made it happen, and am I ever glad!

For starters, the restaurant seemed pretty clean.  There was a children’s area that had books, small toys, and kid-sized chairs.  As a parent of 4, I really appreciated that.  The kids entertained themselves while we ordered food for everyone.  The kid’s meals were reasonably priced at $2.99, so we didn’t break the bank feeding our clan.  I hadn’t eaten all day, so I went for the 3 piece chicken meal, with dark meat.  They offer regular and spicy chicken, and I naturally opted for the spicy.  I chose red beans and rice to go along with my chicken and biscuit.  I ordered some whole pickled jalapenos, simply because I’d never seen them on a side item menu and it seemed novel.  My meal rang up at a little over eight bucks.  Not bad for a 3 piece meal and a drink.  Feast thine eyes upon the treasure:

popeyes

It was difficult to accurately judge just how spicy the chicken was, because I took a huge bite of one of the jalapenos before anything else.  Yeah, I know.  Some food critic I am….  The chicken was hot, moist and meaty on the inside.  The outside was crispy and pretty much perfect!  Better than KFC, fo sho.  I could see some kind of reddish-orange seasoning occasionally peeking out from beneath the skin, which I’m guessing was the spicy flavoring.  The biscuit was good, but not outstanding.  For a fast food biscuit, it was more than adequate.  Buttery, fresh, and not hard or dry at all.  It reminded me of a Hardee’s biscuit, which isn’t a bad thing.  The jalapenos were, well….pickled jalapenos.  It’s kinda hard to screw those up.  Open the jar, dump them in the styrofoam bowl.  Mission accomplished.

The real star of this meal was the red beans and rice.  I’ll be completely honest and admit that I’d never had this particular iconic Creole dish before.  So maybe a fast food place isn’t the best spot to have my first taste.  I may not be a Lousiana food expert, but dammit, I know what I like.  And I like Popeyes red beans and rice.  I could make a meal out of that stuff, seriously.  The beans had a wonderful smoky pork flavor, and went perfectly with the steamed rice.  Shit, my mouth is watering again just typing this.  The chicken was good, but this stuff wins the gold medal.  I’m kind of pissed off that there’s no Popeyes in my city, because I want some more red beans and rice.  I’m not sure if I want to try making the stuff myself, so I may just have to wait for another excuse to go to Indianapolis.

The kids all had fried chicken with mashed potatoes, which received thumbs up from them.  Kelli dug her chicken, as well.  She did mention that the mashed potatoes had a strange, uniform lumpiness to them that she didn’t care for.  She said it seemed as if the lumps were purposely put into the mashed potatoes.  Hmmm…worth noting.  Alex ordered fried catfish, and was kind enough to tear me off a chunk.  It was excellent, from what I could tell.  The breading had a good cajun flavor, and wasn’t overly salty.  I may give it a shot next time.

Our cashier was friendly, and didn’t screw up our order.  I should mention that, because it’s an important part of the restaurant experience.  We even sang a verse of “Lump” by the Presidents of the United States of America together when it came on the radio in the restaurant.  I would have given her a hug, if it weren’t for the counter between us.  Well that, and the fact that she probably would have thought I was weird and thrown me out of the restaurant.  Yeah, so maybe not the hug.  A high five perhaps?  Maybe I’ll just respect that customer/cashier barrier that exists in most circumstances.  The one thing I have to deduct points for is the restroom.  It was in pretty sad shape, but not any worse than you’d find in any gas station.  The knob on the sink came off when I turned it on to wash my hands.  I thought about stealing it, but quickly remembered that I’m 29.

If Popeyes were a grade school student and my dining experience was a homework assignment turned in to me, the teacher, I’d give it a 93%.  Good job, Popeyes.  You get an “A”, and a little “scratch and sniff” sticker that has a monkey eating a banana on it.  The sticker says “I’m bananas for you!” and smells like bananas.  Popeyes wins :D

As a super special bonus for putting up with my meandering, often annoyingly aimless product reviews, I’m including a list of the songs that played on my Ipod while I wrote this review.  I’m not sure if that’s really any kind of bonus or not, but it’s happening.  Enjoy:

Ace of Base – The Sign

Juliana Hatfield – Necessito

Toto – Africa

Rocky Horror Show (original Roxy cast) – Time Warp

Devin Townsend – Truth

Concrete Blonde – The Sky is a Poisonous Garden

Spacehog – The Horror

Pearl Jam – Hail Hail

Minor Threat – Straight Edge

Tiamat – Angel Holograms

Amon Amarth – With Oden on Our Side

Wu-Tang Clan – Da Mystery of Chessboxin’

Britney Spears – Stronger

Faith No More – The Last To Know

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Reluctant McDonald’s Angus Burger Review

Posted by bronzechains on June 28, 2009

Reluctant?  Yup.  And I’ll tell you why.  I made a late night run to McD’s, and saw that the local store finally has the new Angus Third Pounder burgers available!  I’m a sucker for new products, so of course I decided to partake.  The Angus Bacon and Cheese burger looked like a potential winner, so I ordered it.  The girl at the drive-thru window was particularly friendly, and we chatted for a bit while I waited for my heart attack in a bag to be prepared.  Five minutes later, I was staring at the wrong burger.  Those dirty bastards had given me the Mushroom and Swiss burger!  I’m not a mushroom and swiss person usually.  The last time I had one was the portobello and swiss burger from Steak ‘n Shake, and that was a horrible experience I won’t ever go through again.  I can still taste that awful turdburger, and it’s been months.  Anyway, I’m a little reluctant to go ahead with this review, since it’s not what I intended.  BUT…

Rather than piss and moan over the wrong burger, I decided to just go for it.  Lemonade from lemons and all that, you know.  Here’s a photo of my non-bacon and cheese burger, after one bite:

mcdonaldsangus

Before I delve into the actual review of the sandwich, I should mention that I’ll NEVER pat McDonald’s on the back unless they really deserve it.  There are a few fast food joints that I favor, and McDonald’s isn’t one of them.  They just don’t often impress me.  So when they do try something new, it had better be pretty damned good.

And…..it was!  This burger is surprisingly excellent for something from McDonald’s.  The bun was nothing to rave about, but it did it’s job just fine.  No complaints at all there.  The mushrooms were not smothered in brown gravy, which was a very welcome change from many fast food ‘shroom and swiss offerings.  I don’t enjoy flavorless mushrooms swimming in salty brown goo.  No sir, I don’t like it.  These mushrooms were all on their own, and quite tasty.  The swiss cheese was the real deal, too.  It really pisses me off when a fast food restaurant claims to have swiss cheese on a sandwich, and it’s pretty much the equivalent of white american cheese.  No texture, no flavor.  That is B.S., and I won’t stand for it.  I’ve seen Wendy’s do that crap, and I expect more from them.  McD’s actually sprung for REAL swiss cheese on this burger, and it made all the difference in the world.  I can’t stress how pleased I am to see actual swiss on a fast food burger.  Big bonus points there.  In addition to the cheese and mushrooms, there was also a decent touch of mayonnaise.  Now, on to one of the most important points…the meat.  Was it dry?  Was it too greasy?  Did it have any flavor at all?  The anticipation was killing me.  Considering this burger came from McDonald’s, I was really impressed.  It had a good beef flavor, and it was well seasoned.  A little salt and pepper, but not too much.  The burger was juicy, but not greasy.  I’m sure the amount of grease and seasoning will vary a bit from burger to burger, but this one was an all-out winner.  I couldn’t have imagined this thing turning out as well as it did.  My expectations were fairly low, though.  Considering that I’m not a mushroom ‘n swiss fan at all, I’m surprised at how much I liked this sandwich.  I could see myself ordering another one, and that’s saying a lot.  I don’t know if this burger beats out the Steakhouse XT from BK, but it’s a contender for sure.

My midnight trip to McDonald’s was mostly a success.  I’ve worked in the food service industry before, so I understand that mistakes are made from time to time.  I’m not going to be a bitch about getting the wrong burger.  If I’d noticed the mistake before I got home, I may have turned around and taken care of it.  The service was fast and friendly, and the food was good.  My fries were about an 8, with a 10 being the best McDonald’s fries I’ve had.  I’m going to have to give McDonald’s a gold star this time.  I wish I’d gotten the right sandwich, but their mistake turned out to be a nice surprise.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Mama Mary’s Pizza Crusts

Posted by bronzechains on June 16, 2009

pizzacrusts

Marco made a run to the gas station for coffee while we were at work last night and brought me back a french vanilla cappucino.  It was delicious.  I’m not usually a coffee person, but that hit the spot.  I almost felt like I was drinking dessert.  But this review isn’t about cappucino.  I just wanted to share that with you.  Don’t you feel like we’re a little bit closer now?  I do.

I’ve purchased Mama Mary’s pre-baked pizza crusts for a while now, and I’m ready to share my thoughts.  They’re available in 7 and 12 inch sizes, and come in several varieties.  I’ve only purchased the 7 inch traditional crusts, so I’ll focus on them for this review.  I bought a 3 pack of the 7 inch crusts at Wal-Mart for just under three dollars.  They work out to somewhere between 80-90 cents per crust.  In other words, really cheap.  I always keep random pizza ingredients on hand so I can throw together a quick pie whenever the mood strikes me.  Today, I made a grilled chicken pizza with green peppers and onions.  Nothing too fancy, but it was tasty.  The instructions on the Mama Mary’s package suggests topping your crust with whatever, and baking it in a 450 F oven for 7-10 minutes.  I usually go 8 or 9 minutes, but it really just depends on your oven. Don’t bother with a pizza pan, either.  These do just fine placed directly on the rack.

pizza1

Regarding nutrition, this isn’t the healthiest option in the grocery store.  Just don’t eat them all the time and it’s no big deal.  Each crust contains 374 calories, and 12 grams of fat.  The package says that a serving is 1/2 of a pizza crust, but I eat the whole thing.  Then again, I usually don’t have anything with the pizza.  If I were having a salad or some bread or something, 1/2 a pizza might do the trick.

pizza2

A pizza crust is an incredibly versatile foundation for a meal.  You can put just about anything on a pizza that you can imagine.  The fact that these crusts are ready to go out of the bag is a BIG bonus.  I keep mine in the freezer, and just take one out whenever I need it.  The crusts crisp up nicely in the oven if you leave them in long enough, and the taste is exceptional for a pre-baked crust.  The flavor is slightly sweet, but doesn’t overpower the rest of the pizza.  These crusts will hold up to a heavy load of toppings, too.  I haven’t ever had the sauce soak through the crust and turn it into a soggy mess.  I’ve made 8 or 10 pizzas using these crusts, and I haven’t been let down yet.  This is a consistent product that’s well worth the price.  I’ve tried other pre-baked crusts, and Mama Mary’s is definitely my favorite.  Making your own pizza is a lot of fun, but going the homemade dough route adds a lot of time and effort to the process.  If you have the time, that’s great.  But using a pre-baked crust makes this task easier and more accessible.  If you can chop vegetables and open a pepperoni package, you can handle making your own pizza.  Keep a package of these in your freezer, and keep them in mind when various leftovers end up in your fridge.  You might come up with some pretty badass pizza ideas.

Bonus tip: (because you’ve been such a good reader today)

Pre-baked pizza crusts make a great start for a fun dinner project with kids, too.  Get some cheese, sauce, veggies, and whatever else your kids like, and let them have at it.  My kids always get a kick out of making their own pizzas by adding sauce and toppings to the crusts, and watching their creations bake in the oven.  It’s a good way to get your kids familiar with cooking, without having to worry about making a huge mess or severing their poor little fingers with sharp knives.  You know, because that would be bad.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

WoW Mountain Dew!

Posted by bronzechains on June 13, 2009

Mountain Dew has their fingers in the “hardcore gamer” market again, ladies and gents.  You may remember when the Halo 3 Game Fuel version of Mt. Dew appeared back in 2007.  It was a cherry-citrus flavored Dew, and was a limited edition.  The Game Fuel tag is back on the bottles again, along with some fancy new World of Warcraft graphics.  The marketing folks at the Pepsi corporation realize that the hardcore WoW players need their caffeine/sugar fix.  While there are certainly more appropriate beverages on the market for gamers looking for a jolt, Mt. Dew is cheap and readily available.  So, the flashy bottle graphics are accounted for.  But once the gamers buy a bottle, is the taste enough to keep them coming back for more?  I plunked down two of my hard-earned dollars (lol) to find out.

I should point out that I’ve never, ever played World of Warcraft.  I know that the Alliance are the good guys, and the Horde are the bad guys.  That is the extent of my knowledge on the subject.  I don’t know WoW, but I know soda.  And considering that the game influence ends with the packaging, I think I’m qualified to bang the gavel on this subject.

Behold, Mountain Dew Game Fuel Alliance Blue:

mtdewblue

mtdewblue2

As you can see from the photographs, this Dew sports a pointy-eared blue chick.  Feel free to enlighten me as to the name/race/etc. of this lady if you’re in the know.  I’ll promise to remember it for a minute or two.  Aside from the sweet graphics, this variety of Mt. Dew features a “punch of wild fruit flavor”.  If the description were more honest, it would say “Mountain Dew with a shot of Hawaiian Punch”.  Because that’s exactly what it tastes like.  But believe me, that’s not a bad thing.  It took me  a few sips to come to the conclusion that there’s a distinct “fruit punch” flavor to this drink.  It’s a simple idea, yes.  It’s also a fantastic idea, fo sho.  Most of the gimmicky, limited edition flavors that come out just don’t have enough appeal to warrant a repeat purchase.  This stuff, however, has some good replay value (to put it in video game terms).  If I drank sugared sodas regularly, I’d buy a case of this stuff.  Alas, I’m a diet soda drinker.  I may make an exception once a week or so, and splurge on a bottle of the Alliance Blue until it’s gone.  Certainly better than the last bright blue soda I had. Thumbs up for the Alliance Blue flavor!
Now, the rest of the story…..(anybody get that reference?)

This, my friends, is Game Fuel Horde Red:

mtdewred

I bought this one a couple of days after the Alliance Blue, and I forgot to take a picture this time.  Google Image Search saved the day, though.  Sorry.  Anyway, this Dew also has cool imagery.  Not sure what Nancy Grace has to do with WoW, though……  Hey, cut me some slack.  Not all the jokes can be winners.  “A blast of citrus cherry flavor” awaits you inside the bottle, or so says the label.  Citrus cherry?  Isn’t that the same flavor they advertised on the Halo 3 Mountain Dew a couple years ago?  Yup.  That means this is the same soda they had back then.  Guess what?  It still sucks just as much now as it did the first time.  I remember how much I disliked the Halo 3 Game Fuel, and this tastes exactly the same.  They just pulled out the old recipe card and slapped a new label on it.  I really don’t like this flavor at all.  It tastes kind of like they soaked the bitter rind of oranges in Mt. Dew Code Red.  Not exactly, but that’s the best description I could come up with.  It’s just not a good flavor, and I’m a little bit disappointed that the flavor was just re-released.  As far as I know, the Alliance Blue is a new flavor.  Why half-ass this promotion and repackage an old flavor?  I guess it’s not really a big deal, but they can still suck it.  If they were going to revive a discontinued flavor, why not go with Pitch Black II?  That was one of my favorite soda flavor variants EVER.  The first Pitch Black wasn’t that great, but the sequel?  Come on, that was the real deal.  Sour grape Mountain Dew may not sound good in print, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t work magic on my taste buds.  Here are a few highlights of my vision for a perfect world:  Blues Brothers 2000 would never have been made, there would still be a Target store in my town, and Mountain Dew Pitch Black II would be a regular flavor in the Dew arsenal.  Oh, and pizza wouldn’t make you fat.

So, Mt. Dew scores a win and a loss this time around.  I’m wondering what soda brands would have tie-ins with some of the less hardcore video games on the market….   3 words:  Minesweeper Diet Rite.  I’d buy it.  Don’t even act like you wouldn’t.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Leave a Comment »

Apple Ipod Classic 120 GB

Posted by bronzechains on June 4, 2009

I’ve had my Ipod for a couple of weeks now, which I think is enough evaluation time for a product review.  If it takes a shit in another week or something, I’ll let you know.  I purchased the black version of the latest (7th generation) Ipod classic.  With a 120 GB hard drive, this thing dwarfs the 30 GB Ipod I used to have in terms of storage space.  Apple says it’s less than half an inch thick, but I’m not going to get out a measuring tape to verify that.  It’s thin enough for me, and that’s all that matters (that’s what she said).  Apple also claims that this Ipod will hold up to 30,000 songs, 150 hours of video, or 25,000 photos.  But we all know that those numbers are total crap, because they’re based on file sizes that Apple decided upon to make the storage space look better.  I know all about their trickery though, so I pay no attention to their flashy numbers.  I know that 120 GB is enough to store my music, lots of photos, and some music videos.  If 120 GB isn’t enough to hold all of your music, maybe you should consider cutting out your expansive Yanni and Kenny G live bootleg collection.  Do you really need to carry that shit around with you all the time, just in case you happen to run into someone else someday who is a freakishly devoted fan of either of the aforementioned artists?  Even then, what are you going to do?  Pull out your Ipod and proudly show off your hours and hours of concert audio recorded on a shitty digital voice recorder, only to have the other guy go “Pssshhhhh, I have all that AND a used condom from Kenny G’s hotel room in Tokyo.”?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  Besides, we all know Kenny G doesn’t wrap it up.  He goes bareback all the way, baby.

ipod

So we’ve established that this Ipod definitely has a lot to offer in the storage department.  I have all of the music from my computer’s hard drive, most of my photos, and several music videos, and I’ve still got 69 GB free.  I think I”m going to start putting some full-length movies on there, just in case I’m suddenly and unexpectedly trapped somewhere for several hours without any entertainment.  For the most part, the latest Ipod is pretty similar to the previous release.  The 2.5 inch screen looks great, and is plenty big enough to watch video on.  There’s a nifty feature called Cover Flow that allows you to browse through your music collection by viewing the album covers.  That is, assuming you have album art for all your music, which I don’t.  So I can browse through my music by viewing a bunch of “generic music note” thumbnails with an actual album art thumbnail image every once in a while.  Yeah, I’m totally organized.  The main menu is split in half, so that the right half of the screen shows random images from your Ipod.  Kinda cool.  Apple opted for a nice-looking anodized aluminum faceplate this time, instead of the easy-to-scratch glossy black polycarbonate of Ipods past.  The aluminum has a nice “matte” look.  And they replaced the white version with silver.  I thought that one looked nice as well, but I ultimately went with the black one.  The Ipod also comes with 3 games onboard.  Iquiz is a pretty fun trivia game with decent graphics and sound.  Vortex is a mildly addictive game that’s somewhat similar to the classic “brick breaker” games that have been around for years.  Klondike is some dumbass card game that I haven’t bothered playing because card games are generally about as interesting to me as Shaq’s acting career.  Well, with the exception of that skit he did with Tracy Morgan on SNL years ago.  You know, the one where Tracy Morgan was his dad, and Shaq came home after his curfew.  That was good TV.  But everything else is uninteresting.  That’s the point I was trying to get across.

The battery life is more than adequate for my needs.  I charge my Ipod every day while I’m asleep, and I haven’t had it run out of juice on me between charges yet.  I think I could easily get 2 or 3 days of use out of it before I needed to charge it, if it weren’t for that pesky FM transmitter I have to use at work.  That thing saps the Ipod’s battery life pretty quickly.  I use the Ipod at work for 8 hours, 5 nights a week and it always does a good job of providing my coworkers and I with the tunes.  This brings me to the two problems I have with the Ipod, one of which is more of a problem with Itunes.  I have a playlist of roughly 600 songs that I uses specifically for work.  We get tired of hearing the douchebag night DJ’s on the local radio station, and it’s a pain in the ass to have to change CD’s every hour or so.  That’s where my Ipod and it’s wonderful playlist created by yours truly comes in to save the day.  My playlist was carefully crafted with everyone’s interests in mind.  I spent hours on it, and I’m always tweaking, adjusting, and adding to it.  I’m very proud of my work playlist.  It’s a masterpiece, and I think it deserves many gold stars.  The problem is this:  The Ipod’s shuffle function kind of sucks.  I’ve used the Ipod at work at least a dozen full work days now, and the shuffle feature just doesn’t work that well.  I understand that it can’t be perfect.  But even when I take that into account, I’m still disappointed.  The Ipod played “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police twice in the course of 3o minutes the other day.  Out of 600 songs, it plays that twice within a half hour.  Also, there are songs on the playlist that I’ve yet to hear even once.  There are approximately 38 hours of music on the work playlist, and that playlist has been run for at least 100 hours total.  I’m starting to think that the Ipod is neglecting some of the songs for some reason.   The Ipod will play some bands over and over in the course of a night, and never play others.  I understand that if there are a dozen Green Day songs on the list, and only 3 by Dead Milkmen, it’s going to play more Green Day over time.  I factor that kind of shit in, and it’s still screwing me over on some songs.  It’s not a huge problem, but it is definitely annoying.

My other big problem might have more to do with Itunes than the Ipod itself.  There’s this feature that Itunes and the Ipod both have called Sound Check.  This feature is supposed to adjust the playback of all the songs to the same volume level.  And guess what?  It doesn’t work.  Not one bit.  We set the volume on the stereo at work to a certain level, and it sounds good.  Then Guns ‘N Roses comes on, and nobody can hear it.  But when any Green Day song that’s not on the “1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours” CD comes on, it’s louder than shit.  I could go and manually adjust the volume of all those songs, but that’s a huge pain in the ass that Apple is supposed to be taking care of for me.  Sound Check doesn’t work, and it pisses me off.  If you know of something I can do about this, help me out.  It’s annoying.

Aside from the two problems I mentioned, the Ipod is just fine.  I am happy that I can carry around my entire music collection in my pocket.  I bought a nice little rubber case and a screen protector to take care of the Ipod.  I also got a nice little padded cradle thing to hold the Ipod while I’m driving.  It clips onto the air vent on the dash of my uber-cool 1998 Ford Windstar.  I get all sorts of tail in that thing, believe me.  Nothing screams “hip and available” like a forest green minivan.  I may not drive a sweet car, but dammit I’ve got my music.

The 120 GB Ipod runs for about $250, but I’ve seen it at Wal-Mart and on Amazon for 20 bucks cheaper.  If you’re in the market for a new audio/video player, I’m giving the new Ipod Classic the thumbs up.  For a full run-down of all the specs and details on this Ipod, go here.

Posted in Electronics | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

 
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