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Delicje Cookies and Jaffa Bar: More Imported Goodies :)

Posted by bronzechains on May 25, 2009

Not long ago, I did a review of some Mexican candies.  This time, I’m sampling some products from across the Atlantic.  My good friend Josh was kind enough to pick up three items for me while perusing the “international foods” section of a supermarket he visited recently.  Today, my taste buds shall venture to such exotic locations as Scotland and Poland.  Okay, maybe not exotic.  But foreign, unless you live in Scotland or Poland.  The third product is an energy drink from Sweden.  I won’t be drinking it right now, because I’ve got a date with Mr. Sandman in two hours.  An energy drink would not be a wise venture right before bed.  I’ll probably down it before work tomorrow night, and report back after I’ve given the drink a chance to work it’s magic.   Speaking of magic, I’ll be conducting this review while watching the 1982 classic, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  That means some oldschool “Kirstie Allie as a Vulcan” action!  And, of course, “KHAAAANNNNN!!!!!”.  Oh, and Ricardo Montalban.  There, I just alienated half my readers for sure…  I should mention that there may be Star Trek II spoilers in this review, for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie.  If you haven’t seen the movie…WTF?  It’s like, 27 years old.  It’s a classic!  It had the largest opening weekend gross in history when it came out, and you haven’t seen it.  Get with the program, damn.  ;P

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First up is the Delicje Szampanskie….cookie thing from Poland.  The package contains 10 “biscuits”, as the label calls them.  The description says “Sponge cake with real raspberry juice in the filling topped with chocolate”.  In addition to raspberry juice, there is also artificial raspberry flavoring listed in the ingredients.  I’m confused as to why they choose to use both natural and artificial raspberry flavoring, but whatever.

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The “sponge cake” is more like a not-so-dense shortbread cookie.  A firm, red jelly-ish substance sits on top of the cookie, and is covered in chocolate.  The cookies are a bit larger than Oreos.  The cookie itself is sweet and kind of airy, but nothing spectacular.  The chocolate is also just sort of average.  The only thing that stands out about this cookie is the raspberry topping.  The flavor is stronger than that of the other two components, and not too bad.  What really stands out is the texture of the topping.  It’s reminiscent of the jelly in the Bubu Lubu bar from the Mexican Candy Taste Test a while back.  It’s somewhere between jelly, and a gummy bear.  Just weird, and a little rubbery.  It’s texture conflicts with cookie, and I’m not digging it.  I won’t lie; I ate the whole package.  But I probably wouldn’t purchase this on my own.  It’s a decent cookie, but if I want something fruity I’ll go for some of those Pepperidge Farm Verona or Montieri cookies.  Just to keep you updated on the movie I’m watching, Spock just sacrificed himself to restore power to the Enterprise.  It brings a tear to my eye.  Really, it does.  Nerds have hearts too, dammit.  Awww shit, Kirk just found out that Spock is dying.  I have to stop and watch this part.  Oh man, Kirk and Spock are trying to hold hands through the window…….Spock just died.  Bummer.  I’ll pick back up with the reviewing after the funeral scene.

Okay, the movie is over.  I just popped in disc 2 of Bloodbath: Wrestlings Most Incredible Steel Cage Matches.  And…I just alienated the remaining readers that didn’t leave at the earlier mention of Star Trek.  Okay, so for the one reader that might be left, I’m watching the Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty cage match for the IC title from 1993.

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The second product is Lees’ Jaffa Bar from Scotland.  Yeah, the apostrophe goes after the “s”.  I checked.  This candy bar is described on the package as “Jaffa Orange Flavoured Fondant Coated in Dark Chocolate”.  A Jaffa orange is similar to a Valencia orange, and is native to Israel.  Wikipedia can make anyone sound worldly and educated.  I’d pull that Jaffa orange tidbit out at a party or something, but Wikipedia didn’t tell me how to pronounce it.  It also probably wouldn’t be cool to talk about Israeli fruit at a party….

The instant I opened the wrapper, I was overwhelmed with the smell of decent chocolate and artificial orange scent.  The ingredients list Jaffa orange oil, but I don’t know…  You can tell by the picture that the fondant center isn’t very orange in color.  I’m no fondant expert, but this stuff seemed a little dry and crumbly to me.  It doesn’t taste too bad, but it isn’t spectacular.  I’ve never been a fan of the orange/chocolate combination, so maybe that’s why I’m not terribly impressed.  I think this would be a decent choice for someone who enjoys this flavor combo.

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I should note that this candy bar is incredibly sweet and rich.  So rich and sweet in fact, that I only ate 1/3 of the bar.  I think the rest will probably be going in the garbage.  Not because it’s nasty, but because I’m not really into intensely sweet candy.  Just too much sugar for my tastebuds.  One bar has 47 grams of sugar, which is a shitload more than several of the leading candy bars popular in the US.  A Snickers bar has 29 grams of sugar, and a 3 Musketeers bar has 31.  So yeah, way more sugary than any candy bar I eat.  My stomach feels like it has a lead brick in it, just from that small piece of the bar.  Ick.

So, the Raspberry chocolate cookie thing (whose name I’m too lazy to scroll up to recall) was edible, but nothing special.  The Jaffa bar was tasty, but entirely too sweet.  In the next day or two, I’ll be doing a review on Nexcite energy drink from Sweden.  According to Wikipedia, it’s an energy/aphrodisiac drink for women.  I found that out just now….hmmm.  I did not realize that it was for women when I first received it.  I wonder if Josh knew that when he bought it for me.  What a dick.  Regardless, I will venture into the world of women’s sex drinks shortly.  Also, expect a review of the new Green Day album in the next few days.
Seacrest out.

Yeah, that just happened.

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Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Stride Gum: Sweet Cinnamon

Posted by bronzechains on May 14, 2009

I’ve never been much of a gum chewer, but I’ll buy the occasional pack.  When I do, it’s always sugarless gum.  I can’t stand the idea of pummeling my teeth with intense amounts of sugar for a long period of time, so I stick to the sugar-free varieties.

stridecinnamon

Stride’s Sweet Cinnamon offering is certainly worth a chew if you’re a fan of cinnamon gum.  Manufacturers perfected sugarless gum long ago, in my opinion.  Stride doesn’t taste like it has artificial sweetener, and neither do any of the other major players in the sugarless gum market.  As far as the cinnamon flavor, think “Big Red” without the heat.  Though I am a BIG fan of hot and spicy foods, I don’t really like the heat that goes along with many cinnamon candies and gums. Big Red, Red Hot candies, and Atomic Fireball jawbreakers all boast a hot cinnamon flavor, and I’m not a fan of any of them.  But Stride has produced a great tasting cinnamon gum without that burn.

That being said, I do have to blow the whistle on gum’s one major fault.  The flavor never lasts long enough.  I don’t care what brand you have, and I don’t care what bold claims the manufacturer makes.  No chewing gum on the market is immune to rapid flavor loss.  Cheap, shitty gum loses it’s flavor after 5 minutes if you’re lucky.  Good gum…you might get 10 or 15 at the most.  After that, you’re left with nothing but a puny aftertaste.  A pale and fading reminder of what the gum was just moments ago.  And for me, it’s just not worth it very often.  Stride’s Sweet Cinnamon remained enjoyable for about 15 minutes, which is good by my standards.  But not good enough to purchase another pack as soon as this one’s gone.   I can’t chew gum every day.  After the flavor goes, it’s just a chore.  “Why am I chewing this?”  Sure, it might help clean your teeth and dislodge whatever crap might be lodged between them from your last meal.  You know what else does that?  A toothbrush.  And you don’t have to chomp on a toothbrush for 15 minutes to get the job done.  Gum just isn’t really worth the trouble for me.  It’s a nice treat once in a while, and my kids absolutely love the stuff.  But I think I’ll stick to my habit of buying gum once every 3 or 4 weeks.

Bottom line:  Good flavor, and it lasts as long as any other decent gum.  Compared to other brands, I’d give this a thumbs up.  But it’s still just gum.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Mexican Candy Taste Test!

Posted by bronzechains on May 10, 2009

I got my hands on some funky Mexican candy recently.  It was suggested by a friend that I do a taste test of each of the candies, and report the results here on the blog.  So guess what?  I’m going to do just that.  I don’t know where you could find this stuff, but I’d be willing to bet that a Mexican grocery store would be a good place to start.  The confections I’ll be reviewing here came from a preschool class birthday party, thanks to a little Hispanic girl who brought treat bags for all her classmates (which included my kids!)

Here’s a photo of the suspects together:

mexcandygroup

L to R – Bubu Lubu cookie things, Pico candy, Bubbaloo gum, de la Rosa Peanuts Confection, Semafora Lollipop, and Duvalin milk candy.

First up is Bubbaloo liquid-filled gum.

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Bubbaloo is manufactured by the same company that makes Cadbury Eggs, so it’s not nearly as exotic as it seemed at first glance.  Apparently though, this gum is hot shit in Mexico and Brazil.  I’ve never seen it before, so I’m allowing it to stand under the “Mexican Candy” banner with the other participants.  Bubbaloo is no different than any other liquid-centered gum, really.  It was quite soft, and had a tiny pocket of strawberry-flavored goo in the middle.  The goo wasn’t very strongly flavored, and didn’t add much to the experience.  As with any other gum, the flavor weakened and became annoying within 5 minutes or so.  Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy good gum.  But regardless of any bold claims made by any manufacturer, ALL gum starts to suck after just a few minutes.  It becomes more of a chore than a pleasurable experience once the flavor loses it’s potency.  And this gum did just that.  It was in the trash before I started typing this paragraph.  I’ll give it a rating of “average” as far as gum goes.

Next comes Semaforo:

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Semaforo translates to “traffic light”, which makes sense after looking at the graphic on the packaging.  The manufacturer attempted to make a lollipop which looked like a traffic light, and they succeeded for the most part.  Though I can’t deny that this sucker looks like multicolored anal beads.  There, I said it.  You were thinking it, and I said it.  Don’t judge me.

The red light tastes like pineapple.  The yellow light may or may not taste like coconut.  I’m not sure if my mind just went to coconut because of the pina colada connection, or if it actually tastes like it.  The green light undoubtedly tastes like green apple.  So, pineapple, coconut (maybe), and green apple.  Odd combination?  Yes.  Does it work?  Sure.  It’s not a bad lollipop.  Kind of awkward to eat, but the novelty probably appeals to the little ones.  I didn’t finish this candy, because I’m just not really down with suckers.  They take entirely too long to eat, and the thought of that sugar just mucking up my mouth for so long is gross.  Decent sucker, though.

Pico is in the house next.

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I’ve heard bad things about Pico, and I considered saving it for last in case it killed me.  But I’m going to go ahead and get it out of the way.  I don’t want to end this taste testravaganza on what would surely be a bad note, had I decided to put this one at the end of the line.  I’ve had something similar in the past, and it was very unenjoyable.  I’m not sure how to classify this candy.  I guess I’ll call it flavored sugar crystals.  As I type this sentence, I’ve yet to taste the stuff.  Opening……oh, this doesn’t smell appetizing at all.  Tasting……..NO.  Not appetizing in the slightest.  It tastes like salt and sugar mixed with chili powder and a bit of strawberry flavoring.  That’s just not good in any way at all.  Somebody’s eating this crap, but not me.  I just threw 90% of the tiny packet in the trash.  I’ll not make that mistake again.  Spread the word.

de la Rosa Peanut Confection?   Don’t mind if I do.

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This candy appears to be a bar of decorative soap made of pressed sawdust.  It’s ingredients are simply peanuts, sugar, and artificial flavoring.  No sawdust?  Hmmm…..somebody’s hiding something.  But dammit, this candy is good.  The best yet, by a long shot.  It’s difficult to eat, considering this is what happens the instant you open the package and even think about touching the candy:

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I’m not kidding; that shit just completely disintegrated the instant I tried to pick it up.  Remember the scene in Terminator 2 when that truck crashes and spills liquid nitrogen everywhere?  The nitrogen freezes T-1000, and Ahnold shatters his ass into a million pieces?  It was kind of like that when I touched the candy.  Only maybe a bit less dramatic, and the peanut candy wasn’t Robert Patrick.  All that aside, this candy kicks ass.  It tastes like powdered sugar with ground peanuts mixed in.  It made a big fucking mess, but I’d eat another one in a heartbeat.  I hope I don’t see these in a store somewhere, or I’m going to be getting fat real quick. Big thumbs up on this one.  If you see it somewhere, give it a try.  I’m gonna have to vacuum the floor before my peanut-allergic son comes over again, or else he’s going to break out the minute he sets foot in my bedroom.  That shit is everywhere.

Duvalin milk candy, come on down.

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This is an interesting format for a candy.  It’s almost like a cake icing or dip, and it reminds me of those little single-serving plastic trays with cheese spread and crackers that I used to eat when I was a kid.  I’m assuming this was supposed to come with some kind of tiny plastic spoon to dip the candy out with, but I didn’t get one.  What a bunch of bullshit.  This is like the time I brought yogurt to work for my lunch, but forgot the spoon.  I’ll just lick it out of the plastic tray like the cavemen used to.  I mean, the kitchen is all the way downstairs.  I’m not going all the way down there just because some jerk at the Duvalin factory fell asleep on the job.

The hazelnut is decent, and reminds me just a little bit of nutella.  The remaining three flavors (strawberry, cajeta, and vanilla) were all smooshed together, so I couldn’t get a proper taste of any of them.  But the newly formed flavor that I’ve labeld “cajetanillaberry” wasn’t too bad at all.  Despite feeling like I was eating cake frosting straight out of the can, I think this candy gets a thumbs up.  I’d like it better if I didn’t have to lick it out of the tray like a dirty savage.  You know what would have exceeded in that capacity?   A little fucking plastic spoon.  Thanks for dropping the ball, Duvalin.  Now we’re going to lose the game.  Learn how to catch, asshole.  You are so off the team.

The main event for this review is Bubu Lubu:

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What did Bubu Lubu do to achieve main event status?  No, it didn’t win a 60-minute Iron Man match against Bret “The Hitman” Hart.  It didn’t make it all the way to the end of a grueling, 3 day long Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots tournament.  I just saved it for last because I like the package.  It looks fancy.

Bubu Lubu is strawberry-flavored jelly and marshmallow sandwiched together and coated in chocolate.  Bubu Lubu is also bad candy.  The strawberry jelly is forgettable and bland.  The marshmallow is….well, marshmallow.  You can’t put marshmallow in a candy bar, in my opinion.  It’s not strong enough to hold it’s own against any other ingredients.  If this candy bar were a cancelled game show, it would be The Weakest Link.  And guess who the weakest link would be?  Yup.  The marshmallow.  The chocolate coating tastes very fake.  So, a shitty candy bar all around.  Thumbs way down for Bubu Lubu.  I had high hopes, but it let me down.  The goofy white character with the red t-shirt on the package wrote a check that the candy inside couldn’t cash.  Back to the drawing board for Bubu Lubu.

Well, that was a fun experience.  I’d like to do it again sometime, with another genre of products.  Maybe something that isn’t edible.  Send me some suggestions if you can think of anything that might be fun or entertaining.  I’m giving a gold star to the de la Rosa Peanuts Confection.  I’d have given it a gold star and a smiley face sticker, but it made a big mess that I have to clean up.  So just the gold star.  Pico and Bubu Lubu were just disappointing in all aspects, and I shan’t be inviting them over to dinner anymore.  They did the equivalent of a guest pissing all over your toilet seat and not bothering to wipe up the mess.  That’s rude, and I won’t stand for it.  Suck it, Bubu Lubu and Pico.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments »

Blair’s Original Death Sauce!

Posted by bronzechains on May 4, 2009

Just a friendly warning:  the following isn’t so much a review, as it is a few paragraphs of me sucking the mighty shaft of the best hot sauce in the universe.  Seriously, I have nothing bad to say about this stuff.  So yeah, read on.

I first encountered Blair’s products a few years ago after ordering some online.  Since then, I’ve yet to find a better hot sauce.  And believe me, it’s not from a lack of trying.  I’m a bit of a hot sauce connoisseur, and I’ve got quite a collection in my refrigerator.

The highlight of my collection, and of Blair’s line of sauces, is the Original Death sauce.  This shit is, without a doubt, my favorite hot sauce EVER.  I’ve never found a sauce that comes anywhere near this stuff in terms of flavor.  It’s not the hottest sauce out there by any means, but it’s not supposed to be.  Rest assured, Blair’s makes much hotter sauces.  But this stuff is what I consider a “table sauce”, or a condiment.  Some sauces are best used as an additive when cooking, because they’re just ridiculously hot when tasted “full strength”.  Such is not the case with Blair’s Original.  It works anywhere you’d use any other hot sauce, only better.  Tacos, spaghetti, lasagna, burritos, grilled chicken, nachos….  These are all applications in which I’ve personally tested out this sauce.  In my opinion though, this sauce is made for pizza.  Seriously, throw some of this on your pizza and it becomes something entirely different.  It does add a considerable kick in terms of heat, but the true star of this sauce is the robust flavor.

Garlic and fresh peppers.  That’s the first thing that rocks your tastebuds.  If you don’t care for garlic, then pass on this sauce.  Because garlic is in full effect, fo sho.  And while tomatoes aren’t listed in the ingredient list, I’m tasting them.  However the taster interprets the flavors, there’s absolutely no denying that this sauce tastes fresh with a captial F.  I think that the rest of the letters in the word should be capital, as well.  So, it’s fresh with a capital F, R, E, S, and H.  That’s how fresh it is.  I want to use the word “fresh” a couple more times in this paragraph.  Suck on that, high school English teacher.  Back on track, perhaps?  Yes.  Blair’s Original has a flavor that is much more complex and eye-opening than most sauces.  There’s just so much going on, you can’t ignore it.  You might want to be careful when using this sauce on anything with a very mild or delicate flavor, because Blair’s sauce will slit said flavor’s throat and shove it out of the Captain’s chair, thus taking immediate command of the ship.  Don’t let that scare you away, though.  This sauce works well on foods with stronger flavors.  Don’t be shy, either.  Try a little bit of this on whatever pops up; you might be surprised.  In addition to the amazingly garlicky garlic, you’ll find habanero, cayenne, and chipotle peppers are present and accounted for.  Vinegar, lime juice, cilantro and “herbs and spices” round out the ingredient list.  I’ve come close to believing that by “herbs and spices”, they mean crack cocaine.  I can’t get enough of this sauce.  Bonus for those who care about this kind of thing:  Blair’s uses no preservatives or artificial ingredients.  Another bonus:  The bottle comes with a nifty little skull keychain.

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One thing that irks me about many hot sauces is that they’re too watery.  Not so with Blair’s.  It’s considerably thicker than your standard Tabasco or Frank’s sauce, but not so thick that it won’t pour out of the bottle.  The texture is thick and chunky, and has a tendency to keep it’s spicy ass where you put it.

In short, this is probably the best hot sauce ever made.  It’s hot (but not too hot), flavorful, fresh-tasting, and has a great texture.  It’s a little on the expensive side, but in the same way that a steak costs more than a McDonald’s hamburger.  Better product, higher price.  This stuff is worth every penny.  A 5 oz. bottle costs 6 to 8 dollars, depending on where you buy it.  And I won’t lie to you; you might go through the bottle pretty quickly.  I know I do.  I have to ration the stuff, or it’ll be gone in a week.  The day I hit the lottery, you’d better believe I’ll be buying this stuff by the case.

You can buy Blair’s Original Death sauce from their official website, or several other online stores.  I’ve also seen Blair’s sauces in specialty shops a few times.  Your best bet is to order it from the source, though.  Check out their website here.  In addition to the Original sauce, you’ll find a ton of other sauces, spice rubs, potato chips, and collector’s sauces.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tabasco Habanero Sauce

Posted by bronzechains on March 11, 2009

I must preface this review by stating that I do not like the original Tabasco sauce.  Tabasco and Frank’s Red Hot are often compared side by side, and I’ll pick Frank’s every time.  Neither sauce is particularly hot to me, but I do enjoy some Frank’s once in a while.  But if Tabasco is the only thing on the table, I’ll usually pass.  I’m sure that the preceding text would make the thought of disowning me run through my father’s head, as he’s a devoted Tabasco fan.  I’m sorry, dad.  I hope we can move past this, dad.  ; )

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That being said, I saw Tabasco’s Habanero variety on the shelf at Wal-Mart a while back.  It winked at me as I passed, and I pretended that I didn’t notice.  I wasn’t going to give in that easy.  There’s a lot to be said for playing “hard to get”, even when it comes with hot sauce.  I didn’t want Tabasco to think I was that easy.  Hot sauces the world over should know before we ever make contact that I’m not easily sold on new hot sauces.  I’ll admit, I’m polygamous with my sauces.  But I’m picky.  My main squeeze has long been Blair’s Original Death sauce.  That shit is delicious beyond compare, and I can’t begin to put into words how I feel about that stuff.  If it were possible, I’d be picking out a ring I can’t afford and writing vows right now in preparation for the upcoming marriage of Adam and Blair’s Original Death sauce.  It would be a summer wedding, somewhere outside with lots of trees around.  The wind would pick up at some point during the ceremony, and the veil on Blair’s wedding dress would come loose and blow away.  All in attendance would have a good laugh, and the professional wedding photographer would capture it all on film.  Our grandkids would think it was just as funny as we did.  Oh, dear.  I’m daydreaming again.   Was I writing a hot sauce review?  Yes, that’s right.

Anyway, I picked up this habanero sauce at Wal-Mart.  Are you beginning to see a trend in my product reviews?  Everything I buy comes from Wal-Mart.  The nearest Target is 40 minutes away, making it an incredible pain in the ass to shop there.  So, I’m stuck with Wal-Mart.  I don’t remember what I paid for the sauce, but it was similar in price to the other Tabasco varieties.  It was a tough decision to make, purchasing this sauce.  I normally wouldn’t pay for a Tabasco product, but the attractive box and the word “HABANERO” reeled me in.  I’m a sucker for spicy food products, and I took the bait on this one.  I’m happy to report that it wasn’t a waste.

Habanero peppers are most definitely present in this sauce.  Habaneros have a very distinctive flavor, but I can’t really describe it.  I’ve read descriptions of the flavor many times before, but they never really seem accurate to me.  Just try something with habanero peppers in it sometime, and then you’ll know.  The sauce seems thicker than the original Tabasco sauce, and has a different color.  It packs a significantly bigger punch than it’s original counterpart, as well.  Original Tabasco sauce clocks in at 2500-5000 on the Scoville heat scale, and the Habanero variety sits a bit higher at 7,000-8,000.  To give you an idea of where the two aforementioned sauces sit in comparison to my personal favorite, the Blair’s Original Death sauce boasts a hefty 30,000 on the Scoville scale, and is approximately six times hotter than a jalapeno pepper.  Click here for a really awesome chart detailing where many popular hot sauces and peppers fit in on the Scoville scale.  It’s really cool to compare, and learn how big of a wimp or badass you are regarding your tolerance for spiciness.

After testing out the Tabasco Habanero sauce in several different ways, I’ve come to a definite conclusion.  This shit is made for pizza!  I’ll be damned if any pizza doesn’t taste better with several drops of this sauce scattered about on it.  Now, I do have to say that the BEST sauce for pizza is the Blair’s Original Death.  But, since my bottle of Blair’s is currently in the mail, I’ll have to use the Tabasco Habanero for now.  I may even use it occasionally even when the Blair’s is in my refrigerator, just to keep the good stuff from disappearing too fast.  I’ll definitely be doing a review on the Blair’s when my bottle arrives.

Overall, I’m giving this sauce a thumbs-up.  I’m impressed, and pleased that Tabasco has created a sauce that I don’t turn my nose up at.  It smells good, tastes good, and is attractively packaged.  A good sauce all around, and not too hot.  Of course, if original Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot is just right for you, then you obviously shouldn’t go for this variety.  But if you’re looking for a good sauce that will add a kick to your pizza without the heat getting lost in a sea of greasy cheese, give this one a try.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , , , , | 16 Comments »

House of Tsang – Szechuan Spicy Stir Fry Sauce!

Posted by bronzechains on January 24, 2009

I’m always on the lookout for new or different things to eat, especially if they’re easy to prepare.  Stir fry is pretty simple, as long as one has a grasp on basic kitchen skills.  I found this sauce in the “Asian Food” section at Wal-Mart.  It’s a relatively small section, but they do have a few interesting items.  I’m always drawn to the ethnic foods section at the supermarket, on the off chance that I’ll find something cool.  So I picked up this stir fry sauce for $2.78, and grabbed some fresh vegetables and chicken to go with it.  I completely forgot about rice.

szechuan

I cooked up the chicken and vegetables, and threw the sauce in.  It smelled like garlic and soy sauce, pretty much like any standard stir fry sauce.  It definitely smelled spicier than other sauces in this genre.  As an aside, I was proud of myself for cooking the vegetables exactly the way I always want to.  You know, tender but still crisp?  I have a hard time getting multiple vegetables to come out just right usually, but this time I think I nailed it.  The onions were exactly how I like them, with a little crunch left in them.  And the peppers weren’t limp and floppy.  So to that end, this venture was  a success.  I just had to find out if the sauce was actually good.  Here’s a pic of the finished dish:

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The taste:  Definitely spicier than the average stir fry sauce, with moderate heat that builds slowly.  It doesn’t overpower the flavor at all, though.  There’s garlic in there, no doubt about it.  This sauce had everything a stir fry sauce should have, only with a pretty decent spicy kick.  I thought it was a bit sweeter than most sauces, but that helped balance out the saltiness.  There’s quite a bit of sodium in this sauce, surprise surprise.  If you like spicy, sweet stir fry, give this stuff a try.  It’s a good sauce, and I imagine it would work well as a table sauce, or basted on some chicken or seafood.  I’ve yet to try it a second time, but I’m betting it would be great in a number of applications.

On nutritional info:  A tablespoon serving of this sauce has 25 calories, a gram of fat, 3 grams of sugar, and 500mg of sodium.  Not what I’d call a disgustingly unhealthy addition to a meal.  Just don’t add a ton of this sauce to your stir fry.  It really doesn’t take much, as the flavor is pretty potent.

Regarding value, this sauce is a great deal.  I’m a cheapskate at the grocery store, and I cut corners wherever I can.  Aside from the occasional splurge, I always try to spend as little as reasonably possible.  I paid almost three dollars for this bottle, and I used very little of it.  I could probably make stir fry for myself another 5 or 6 times before the bottle was empty.

Thumbs up, fo sho.

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

Kashi Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Posted by bronzechains on January 14, 2009

This is the second and final (for now) installment of my Kashi frozen dinner experiment.  In the last review, I covered the Kashi Chicken Florentine.  My overall review of that product was pretty poor.  The bad definitely outweighed the good in that one.  I took the Lemon Rosemary Chicken to work with me last night, and I’ll admit, my expectations were lowered by my first exposure to this brand.  It’s not good when a frozen dinner intended for humans reminds the consumer of something an animal might enjoy.  I’m happy to report that this frozen dinner was considerably better than the Chicken Florentine, but was not without it’s flaws.

lemonrosemarychicken

Again, the central themes of this meal were grilled chicken and Kashi’s multigrain pilaf, which consists of whole oats, long grain brown rice, rye, hard red winter wheat, triticale, buckwheat, dehulled barley, and sesame seeds.  That’s a lot of grainy goodness to please your colon.  Seriously, you’ll probably clean that shit right out if you eat enough of this stuff.  The pilaf seemed much more palatable this time around, which I’m attributing to the different seasoning and sauce that this meal has.  After my second date with the pilaf, I’ve grown to love the stuff.  It’s texture is as close to exciting as one can get with food, without sounding like some kind of crazed food-sex fiend.  The sauce contains white wine, lemon, and rosemary.  As was the case with the Chicken Florentine, this sauce was rather weak.  I could taste the faintest hint of lemon, but rosemary was hiding too far in the background to make much of an appearance.  And I love me some rosemary.  The chicken was, again, very tasty and of high quality.  No gristly chunks here.  Kashi doesn’t mess around when it comes to their poultry.  I was neither pleased nor disappointed with the amount of chicken in this dish.  There could have been more, but they didn’t really skimp on it.  Portabello mushrooms were much more plentiful in this meal than the other.  I found about five or six slices, all of which were quite tasty.  I was a bit disappointed with the skimpy amount of sugar snap peas, but they were delicious.  Peas in the pod are a favorite of mine.  The portion size was great, considering how low-calorie this meal is.  After I finished eating, I had one of those 100 calorie packs of chocolate chip cookies and I was definitely full.

My biggest problem with the Lemon Rosemary Chicken was that, for having the words “lemon” and “rosemary” in the name, both were surprisingly tame.  I was expecting a good citrus kick, but instead had trouble identifying it at all.  More surprising was the lack of rosemary flavor.  Rosemary is an herb that many people overuse when cooking.  It doesn’t take much, but Kashi somehow managed to rob me of my rosemary-flavored fantasy.  Okay, that may be a bit dramatic.  I wasn’t really fantasizing about rosemary.  Well, at least not this time.  Regardless, the overall flavor in this dish was somewhat disappointing.  It was still better than the Chicken Florentine.  A few more sugar snap peas would have been nice, too.

In regard to nutrition, this meal had 330 calories, 80 of which were from fat.  Not too bad.  My dad has a rule where he tries to keep the fat calories in his food at 1/4 of the total calories or less.  I keep that in mind when eating, and this meal definitely fits into that guideline.  You’ll get all your daily need of Vitamin C, and 10% of your iron from this.  And 5 grams of dietary fiber!  If you’re willing to sacrifice some flavor for a much more nutritious meal, this may be right up your alley.  You wanna know what’s right up my alley?  Some fucking rosemary and lemon where it’s advertised.  Just something to think about, Kashi.

If I happen to see the Kashi frozen dinners on sale again, I just may give some of the other varieties a shot.  I haven’t completely given up hope on this brand.  That Chicken Florentine can go straight to hell, though.

As a final statement for this two-part Kashi series, I’d like to say this.  I appreciate what Kashi is doing.  There are a million choices when it comes to frozen dinners and convenience foods.  And most of them are godawful in regard to nutrition.  Just take a look at any of the Hungry-Man XXL frozen dinners.  Those bastards trick the consumer by saying that one serving is 1/2 the package.  Who the hell do you know that eats half a frozen dinner?  They can get away with saying the meal only has 500 calories, because that’s only for half the fucking box.  I’ll bet that most people won’t notice the part of the label that says you’re only supposed to eat half the box.  Dirty, misleading jerks.  If you eat those, you’re practically asking for a heart attack.  And I won’t go on a long-winded rant about variety, but how many different ways can you package battered chicken, french fries, rice, pizza, pasta, corn, or shitty brownies in a frozen dinner?  Seriously, out of all those frozen dinners there are probably only 15 different things they’re putting in the box.  It’s all the same shit, just packaged or dressed up differently.

But I digress…My point is, Kashi is thinking outside the box.  They’re coming up with something different, and they’re making it pretty healthy.  Not just “healthy for a frozen dinner”, but legitimately nutritious.  There’s crap in their meals that is actually good for you.  Kashi has a plethora of other products, including crackers, multigrain bars, cookies, various frozen foods, side dishes, and over a dozen different cereals,.  I’ll keep an eye out for more of their products on sale.  I won’t buy them at full price, because I’m a poor bastard.

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Kashi Chicken Florentine

Posted by bronzechains on January 13, 2009

I usually eat one of three things during my lunch break at work.  It’s almost always Michelina’s Lean Gourmet Chicken Alfredo Florentine, Michelina’s Lean Gourmet Roasted Sirloin Supreme, or a bag of light butter microwave popcorn.  I rarely deviate from this short list, unless I’ve got something homemade (which isn’t often).

On my most recent trip to the grocery store, I saw that Kashi frozen dinners were on sale at a price of two for six dollars.  The Lean Gourmet meals are usually in the $1.25 range, so the Kashi dinners were considerably more expensive.  After thoroughly perusing Kashi’s offerings, I decided to go for it.  I bought the Chicken Florentine, as well as the Lemon Rosemary Chicken.  I’ll review the latter sometime later this week.

chickflorentine

I’ll start with the good, then move on to the bad.  In the culinary world, “florentine” is usually tacked onto a dish containing spinach as a prominent ingredient.  Kashi didn’t skimp on the spinach here.  The spinach was flavorful and appeared to have been well taken care of on the way to the deep freeze.  Many times in frozen meals, spinach comes out looking like limp and slimy leaves, with little of the flavor remaining.  This was actually identifiable as spinach, in regard to the appearance and flavor.  Also present were red peppers, portobello mushrooms, Kashi’s special multigrain pilaf, and grilled chicken.  The chicken was delicious, and fairly plentiful.  It wasn’t your standard frozen meal chicken, as the quality was high and the flavor was great.  The multigrain pilaf was an interesting taste and texture combination.  A white wine sauce and parmesan cheese were also onboard for this healthy microwave excursion.

This dish is packed full of nutrition, in comparison to most frozen dinners.  It’s high in fiber, with a whopping 5 grams.  It’s also a good source of several vitamins.  The whole grains are definitely in the house with this dish.  The multigrain pilaf contains: oats, long grain brown rice, rye, hard red winter wheat, triticale, buckwheat, dehulled barley, and sesame seeds.  All in their whole grain form.

Now, the bad.  There was only one slice of portobello in the entire dish, which really irked me.  The sauce was decidedly bland, as was the dish overall.  I was not impressed at all with this dinner as a whole, and won’t be buying it again.  It was terribly bland, and the only thing that saved it from being a complete loss was the fresh-tasting spinach and flavorful chicken.  Sadly, everything else tasted like….well, nothing.  The multigrain pilaf’s texture was a welcome addition, but the flavor fell short.  Maybe some more seasoning?  On Kashi’s website, consumers post their opinions on the products in the form of comments that can be found on the individual pages for their offerings.  Several customers raved about the wonderful flavore, the prominent garlic, and several other things.  The general consensus was that this shit was the best food ever created, with the exception of a couple of negative reviews.  I just didn’t think it was that great.  In the end, I felt like I’d eaten farm animal feed with some chicken and spinach mixed in.  Not cool, mostly because I’m not a farm animal.  I’m hoping the Lemon Rosemary Chicken is better.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

Burger King’s Angry Whopper

Posted by bronzechains on January 11, 2009

For starters, I have to say that I simply don’t know what to think about the name of this sandwich.  I’m torn between “This is the stupidest name for a sandwich.  EVER.”  and “Holy shit, what a hilariously brilliant name for a sandwich!”.  I passed Burger King on the way to my parents’ house for dinner the other day, and did a double-take when I saw the words “ANGRY WHOPPER” on the Burger King sign.   I’ve never been an avid fan of the Whopper, but I’m a sucker for a gimmick burger.  I’m also a sucker for anything that claims to be uber-spicy.  When the last Indiana Jones movie was in theaters, BK had something called the “Indy Whopper” to promote the movie.  And guess what?  I bought one.  Guess what else?  It was tasty.

Needless to say, I got my hands on an Angry Whopper today.  I couldn’t resist it.  I mean, just look at the thing.

angrywhopper

Let’s dissect this titan of fat and calories, without actually going into the fat and calories.  If you’re eating a Whopper, you know damn well what you’re getting into.  In addition to the standard huge beef patty, bun, tomato, lettuce, and mayo, this gutbuster includes spicy crispy onions, bacon, pepperjack cheese, pickled jalapeno slices, and “Angry sauce”.  I’ll be honest, the King had me at “hello” with this thing.  I mean, I was ready for one pissed-off sandwich.

Of course, my sandwich looked nothing like the picture above, which would have you believe that the burger had to be incarcerated due to it’s violent tendencies.  But do they ever look like the picture?  No.  I don’t expect them to; I know better.  Despite the flatter and sloppier appearance of my burger, it was pretty delicious.  The Angry sauce was excellent, and I want to have a jar of it in the fridge to slather on everything I eat from now on.  It was kind of like spicy barbecuey mustardy sauce.  I would be eternally grateful if someone found out where I could get my hands on a container of that stuff.  The standard Whopper components were as good as can be expected.  The pepperjack cheese wasn’t spicy at all, which was disappointing.  Pepperjack is supposed to be hot, and this was completely devoid of any heat.  The “spicy” crispy onions tasted exactly like the ones on their Steakhouse burger.  No spicy there, either.  Aside from the Angry sauce, the only kick in this package comes from the jalapeno slices.  I had previously read an online review of the Angry Whopper that complained about BK skimping on the jalapenos, so I ordered extra on my sandwich.  The result was what I would consider a normal amount of jalapeno slices.  My two friends who joined in the taste test, who did not ask for extra jalapenos, received only two or three slices on their burgers.  Disappointing.  Knock that shit off, Burger King.  Don’t skimp on one of the major selling points of the burger.  That’s just crap, and I don’t appreciate it.

The overall spiciness of this burger was a bit disappointing for a hothead like myself, but I understand that when something is being marketed to the masses, the manufacturer has to cater to the masses.  The average customer, even though they know the burger is advertised as spicy, isn’t going to want an extreme amount of heat.  I don’t think I’ve ever found a fast food product that was truly spicy even when advertised as such.  I’m somewhat in the minority on this, so I won’t complain too much about the lack of heat.

The Angry sauce was definitely the highlight of this sandwich, and I’m giving it an overall thumbs-up.  I won’t say that I’ll be buying this burger again though, because I can’t bear the thought of eating a Whopper all that often.  I think a regular Whopper has a full day’s worth of fat in it, so I try to keep my distance most of the time.  Rest assured though, I will more than likely try the next gimmick Whopper that the King comes up with.  My prediction:  A Whopper with a fried egg on top, with french toast slices in place of a bun.  And pancake syrup.  Ick.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , | 16 Comments »

Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover

Posted by bronzechains on January 11, 2009

My job requires me to work with my hands, so naturally they take a lot of abuse.  I regularly wear nail polish, so you can imagine how difficult it is to take care of a decent paint job.  I spend a considerable amount of time on damage control from the beating my nails take at work.  It’s pretty tough to keep my cuticles in good shape, and simply keeping them trimmed and pushing them back wasn’t working out very well.  I’d always end up painting over some stupid little piece of cuticle that was stuck to my nail, and it would make a bump in the nail polish.  And that just looks stupid.   So on my last trip to the store, I decided to try out one of the many cuticle remover liquids available.  Generally, these products will soften or even dissolve the cuticles.  My biggest problem is the random little pieces of dry cuticle that adhere themselves to the nail surface.  They’re a total bitch to remove, and I always end up doing more harm than good when trying to remove them.

cuticleremover

Enter Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover.  The packages boasts that this is the maximum strength formula, but I’ll be damned if I could find another version of this stuff labeled “regular strength”.  Gotta love the gimmicky advertising.  Some people fall for that, you know.  Anyway, Sally claims that her instant cuticle remover will do the job in fifteen seconds, and she’s almost not lying.  Products don’t always work exactly as advertised, and that’s a fact that I’ve come to terms with over the years.  Oxi-Clean doesn’t really remove all the stains they say it does, you don’t really get chiseled abs in eight minutes, and Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover won’t necessarily remove your cuticles in fifteen seconds.

I applied a thin strip of the liquid over my cuticles with the standard “cap brush” thingie that all fingernail polishes come with.  I knew I should probably have waited longer than the package indicated, but I wanted to see what results I’d get when following the instructions exactly.  After about fifteen seconds, I used a wooden manicure stick to push the cuticles back.  Lo and behold…most of the nasty little dried cuticle remnants had turned to mush and were easily washed away with soap and hot water.  There were still a few stubborn bits left, but I’m sure they would relent if I left the stuff on for thirty seconds.  The main active ingredient in this liquid is potassium hydroxide, which is a corrosive chemical which actually sort of eats the cuticle away.  It would probably be a bad idea to leave the liquid on your nails for too long, as it might start to eat away at them, too.  You probably shouldn’t brush any onto your mother-in-law’s lips while she’s asleep, either.  It’s a fun fantasy, though.  I’m going to keep a close eye on my nails as I continue to use this cuticle remover, just to make sure that repeated use doesn’t start to ruin my skin or nails.

Based on my first use of this product, I’d say it does a fine job.  It pretty much delivers as advertised, so I’m not going to complain.  It doesn’t have a particularly strong smell, either, which is a plus.  Good product.  If your cuticles look like shit (like mine sometimes do), this would be the way to go.

Posted in Health & Beauty | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »