Archive for May, 2011

Where to Buy:  Biscotti Bari on Foodzie

Product Description:

Our Lemon Poppyseed Biscotti are a sweet treat loaded with crunchy poppyseeds and a tangy, lemony zip! Our secret ingredient is Sonoma Syrup’s Lemon Extract (shh- don’t tell).

What I Think:

This Lemon Poppyseed Biscotti reminds me very much of the Authentic Almond (also from Biscotti Bari).  The flavors are different, of course, but both possess the same light, tender texture that is crunchy without being too hard.

The lemon flavor here is so sunny and bright.  The poppy seeds add a little something to the texture as well as a light yet satisfying nutty taste.  While this is reminiscent of one of my favorite muffin flavors – I am finding this to be even more satisfying.  Perhaps it is because I can dip this in my tea and not have it fall apart (ever try dipping a muffin in tea?  Yeah, it just doesn’t work very well).

I really love the two pieces of biscotti that arrived in this month’s Tasting Box – and these taste so good that I’ve been inspired to order them again, along with the Pistachio Chocolate Chunk.  (What can I say?  I’m a chocoholic)

My Final Thoughts: 

Biscotti Bari has definitely raised the Bar(i) (sorry, I couldn’t resist) when it comes to biscotti.  No more ordinary biscotti for me!

Where to Buy:  The Groovy Baker on Etsy

Product Description:

In honor of ‘Will and Kate’ ~ here is their wedding cake on a stick!

Fruitcakes are (and have been) the traditional wedding cake in England ~ when they’re made properly are oh-so-*yummeh*

~ not anything like we know them to be here in the U.S!

Can’t make it to London? Stay home and savor the flavors of pure Vanilla, Orange Zest, Pan Toasted Almonds, Pecans, Chopped Apricots and Dates

~ a splash of Brandy, and a dusting Ginger and Vietnamese Cinnamon round it all out….

Topped with a sprinkling of 23K edible gold dust ~ for a bit of fabulousness.

Cheers!

What I Think:

This is one of THREE free sample lollipops that I received with my order.  I was thrilled because this is one that I was wanting to try, but not sure that I wanted to have a full order of it.  Well, now that I am tasting it, I can tell you that I would have been very happy with a full order!  This is incredible.

Let me start with its appearance – it looks like no lollipop I’ve ever seen.  It is full of nuts and fruit – just like a fruitcake!  And it is gilded with edible gold, giving this a beautiful, luxurious (and sparkly) sheen.

One thing that kind of held me back from ordering this lollipop was the ingredient list.  It seemed to have too much going on.  I mean, how could this possibly taste good?  But it does!

The vanilla is the most obvious flavor here, but, it isn’t a cloying or obnoxiously overwhelming flavor.  The hint of cinnamon and ginger even the sweeter tones of the vanilla out – creating a flavor that is mildly spiced (but certainly not at all spicy) and creamy.  It gives a very “cake-like” kind of base for the other flavors in the lollipop.

The fruity notes from the apricot, date and orange are subtle flavors that develop as I continue to enjoy the lollipop, as are the sweet, nutty tones from the pecan and almond.  Together this is a delightful marriage of flavors (please pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist).

The best part of this lollipop:  getting to chew on the fruit and nut bits once I’ve dissolved enough of the candy!  The candied fruit and nut pieces are so yummy!

My Final Thoughts:

I really loved this lollipop – a whole lot more than I thought I would.  It is scrumptious!  I hope that The Groovy Baker doesn’t mind, but, I am going to forward the information about this lollipop to one of my favorite tea vendors to see if he can make a black tea version of this “Classic Wedding Cake,” because I would love to enjoy this in tea form!

In my Foodzie Tasting Box for May, I received two pieces of biscotti (what’s the plural for biscotti?):  Authentic Almond flavor and Lemon Poppyseed flavor.  Here, I will talk a little bit about the Authentic Almond Biscotti …

Where to Buy:  Biscotti Bari on Foodzie

Product Description:

Our Authentic Almond Biscotti are loaded with whole, toasted almonds grown in our family’s orchards located in California’s Central Valley. We think our biscotti has a perfectly tender crunch due to just a touch of Bari Olive Oil, which is grown & processed in Dinuba, California. Authentic Almond Biscotti is our best seller and everyone’s favorite flavor!

What I Think:

I haven’t eaten a whole lot of biscotti in my life, but, I’ve had a fair share.  And while I have enjoyed them, I can’t really think of any that I liked so much that I would purchase on a regular basis … until now.

This biscotti is amazing.  There are huge chunks of almond baked right into the crunchy biscotti.   Not almond essence.  Not almond flavoring.  But real, crunchy, nutty pieces of sweet almonds (which are grown in the baker’s orchard!)

But it isn’t just the pieces of almond that make this biscotti wonderful.  Its the texture.  It isn’t hard as a brick.  The texture is what I would call “light” – even though it has a biscotti “crunch” to it, it isn’t that heavy, hard crunchy texture that is often found in biscotti.  The inside is crispy yet tender.  You don’t have to soak it in your hot beverage of choice for two full minutes to arrive at an edible state.

It’s actually tender enough to bite into without dipping it in anything, but, still manages to hold up and not fall apart if you do decide to take it for a dip.  Today I chose to dip it in tea (well, anytime I have biscotti, I choose to dip it in tea).  This Yunnan Gold, to be exact.  The deep malty flavor and light peppery background brought out the natural sweetness of the almonds.  It was a delicious pairing.

I think what is most astonishing to me about this biscotti is that it doesn’t need a chocolate coating to be tasty.  It is so good that it doesn’t need to be embellished.  Perfect, just the way it is.

My Final Thoughts:

Delicious and satisfying!  This biscotti is a sweet treat, but not overwhelmingly sweet.  It makes a perfect breakfast when served alongside a cup of hot tea.  I definitely will be ordering more of these!  They are fantastic!

Paccini Restaurant is located in the area of the Portland State University Campus; an area in Portland that exemplifies one of the many things that I love about Portland.  This is no ordinary campus.  It is located in the heart of Portland.  It isn’t like a set apart, dedicated campus area like most college campuses.  It is part of the city itself.  But, I digress…

1/2 order of lasagna

Location:  1717 SW Park Avenue in Portland, OR

Order:  1/2 order Lasagna (with Italian Sausage); Garlic Fries; Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Panini; Slice of Pizza topped with Pepperoni, Sausage and Canadian Bacon.  (My husband and I decided we wanted to try a little bit of a few different things, so we shared each item on the order.) 

What I Think:

The atmosphere of the Paccini Restaurant is very college-lounge-like.  Dimly lit, casual and comfortable, complete with a fireplace in the middle of the dining area and student artwork on the walls.  It is the kind of place that you’d expect to host a poetry reading or a guitar-strumming folk singer.  It seems to be a very popular place amongst students, as we dined there on a Tuesday afternoon and it was quite busy.

Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Panini

The lasagna ($6.00 for 1/2 an order) was quite tasty.  It came with a piece of in-house made focaccia bread that is quite good – lightly seasoned, warm and soft.

Most noteworthy to this taster is that the flavorful sauce of the lasagna was thick and rich with ripe tomato flavor – not at all watery.  There was an abundance of cheese – although I noticed that the ricotta filling was not overdone (which is probably one reason the lasagna wasn’t watery).  The cheese was bubbly and even a little crisp on the edges.  Stretchy!  The noodles were tender without being mushy.  A very well prepared lasagna.

But my favorite entree was the Panini Sandwich ($7.00).  The bread was their focaccia bread that they make in-house and was toasted just right, creating a nice, crunchy crust but still soft and tender on the inside.  Their focaccia bread is seasoned nicely and compliments the Panini quite well.  I chose the Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Panini.  As I ate the sandwich, I couldn’t help but wish that there was a restaurant like this on my college campus back when I was attending; I was a vegetarian back then and this would have been such a satisfying meal.

The cheese was melted and it blended with the Dijonaise sauce so well – these two components gave a thin creaminess to the sandwich.  The basil added a beautiful, fresh element to the sandwich and the tomato was deliciously ripe and sweet.  The red onion gave the sandwich a pleasant crunch and just enough zing.  This sandwich had the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Both the sandwich and the lasagna came with a small side salad composed of baby mixed greens and a tomato slice, sprinkled generously with Parmesan cheese.  The sandwich was crisp and fresh, but, it was a little over-dressed for my liking.

Garlic Fries

Of the three entrees, the slice of pizza ($4.25 for a slice of pizza and a soft drink) was our least favorite.  This slice seemed to be a slice of cheese pizza that had been baked off prior to our arrival and waiting in a heating unit … and then topped with pepperoni, sausage and Canadian bacon after we ordered it.  It wasn’t bad, but it was quite average and I guess we had higher hopes for it – and sadly, it failed to deliver.

The side of Garlic Fries ($4.00) more than made up for my pizza disappointment.  They were fresh out of the fryer:  perfectly cooked with a crisp exterior and a tender interior.  The fries on the top were did not taste strongly of garlic.  The garlic taste was there… it just wasn’t strong.  But as we made our way to the center of the order of fries, we could see chunks of fresh garlic.  YUM!  I do love garlic!  The garlic was pungent and just a little on the hot side.  Perfect.  These fries would not be the ideal choice if you’re on a date – but they certainly would be a great to snack on after class.

My Final Thoughts:

As I said before, this is the kind of restaurant I would have only been too happy to have on my own college campus back when I attended:  good food and a casual, inviting atmosphere.  I do recommend avoiding the “slice of pizza” offerings, and instead opt for a whole pizza or perhaps something else from the menu.

Paccini on Urbanspoon

Where to Buy:  Liz Lovely on Foodzie

Product Description:

Similar to a traditional coconut macaroon, but mellow and soft, with a hint of lemon. Born from late night cookie binges with limited ingredients in the pantry, these “macaroonie” cookies became a pick-hit.

What I Think:

After trying last month’s Ginger Snapdragons from Liz Lovely, I had to order more.  They were so good.  And, as I was placing that order, I decided that I would like to also try these.

These are a little different than I was expecting.  It has always been my experience that a coconut macaroon was a coconut macadamia nut cookie, but there are no macadamia nuts in these.  But even though I was kind of looking forward to that crunch of macadamia nut in these, I am finding it hard to say I’m disappointed.  Even without the anticipated macadamia nut, these are incredibly good.

The cookie itself tastes a bit like a sugar cookie might, except that there is a beautiful lemony note to these.  It is not an overpowering lemon taste – it is just enough to make your taste buds perk up and say “hey, there’s something deliciously different about these!”  It really brightens up the flavor.

Without the macadamia nuts, the coconut really becomes the star of these cookies, giving them a creamy sweetness and a chewy texture. I paired these with this rich, delicious Keemun from Two Leaves and a Bud.  The savory cocoa notes of the Keemun complimented the coconut flavor nicely.

Just like the Ginger Snapdragons, these are incredibly soft cookies.  But unlike the Snapdragons, these have a very mild flavor.  These cookies are an incredibly comforting food – they just taste like something gramma would have made!

My Final Thoughts:

Liz Lovely takes vegan baking to a whole other level with these cookies.  The fact that these are vegan is not something that is noticeable in the taste.  They just taste like delicious, indulgent cookies.  YUM!

Where to Buy:  Peeled Snacks on Foodzie

Product Description:

10 single serving snacks (1.48 oz.) Are you pining for the exotic taste of the tropics? Peeled Snacks brings the tropical flavors of Central America straight to you in a healthy treat you can take with you anywhere! Take a bite out of our juicy pineapple rings loaded with vitamin C, vitamin B1 and Manganese — and no added sugar! Enjoy the guiltless pleasure of this satisfying snack. Pineapple also helps digestion.

What I Think:

These are much different than I was expecting.  Having tasted dried pineapple before, I expected the sugary sweet, almost-confection-like taste that I experienced then.  But while this has a natural sweetness to it, it isn’t a overwhelmingly sweet candy-like snack.  That’s because these snacks contain only one ingredient:  organic pineapple.  No sugar or preservatives or anything else.

The drying process that this pineapple has undergone seems to emphasize not only the sweetness of a pineapple but also the tartness of it.  These bites of pineapple have the concentrated, pure flavor of the fruit – sweet yet tart – and a very satisfying chewy texture.

And I think that it is the texture that I am enjoying most about these snacks.  It is almost like a piece of chewy candy, but without the sticky, sugary feeling that is left on the teeth.

These snacks are rather irresistible.  When I first opened the pouch and nibbled on my first piece, I thought I would be able to put the rest away for another time… but then one piece became two, and then I tried yet another… and before I knew it, the package was empty!

My Final Thoughts:

These snacks have really changed my thoughts on dried fruit.  The flavor is intense and it is naturally sweet without added sugars or other ingredients.  These snacks are deliciously energizing!

Where to Buy:  The Groovy Baker on Etsy

Product Description:

One word: Amazing

Seriously

This flavor combination is based on a very popular sorbet (and palette cleanser) that I used to make as a restaurant pastry chef.

The rosemary isn’t cloying or overwhelming…its purpose is to temper (or ‘mellow’) the slight ‘tang’ of the grapefruit.

~ so what you taste…*all* you taste ~ is pure and refreshing.

Crisp, clean, sparkling grapefruit. Prepared with sugar…

Yum.

What I Think:

Every once in a while, I go to the Etsy homepage and type in “tea” in the search engine just to see what’s new with tea on Etsy.  It is one such search that lead me to the Etsy shop of The Groovy Baker.  In this shop, there is an array of enticing yet unusual lollipops including several tea flavored ones.  But when I placed the order for the tea flavored lollipops, I decided that I should also try a non-tea flavored lollipop.  I don’t know why I chose this particular flavor, though.  There was just something about the combination of grapefruit and rosemary that intrigued me.

And… OH!  These are delicious.  The first note that arrives on the palate is that of the grapefruit – bright, citrus-y and tangy… but just sweet enough to not be too pucker-ishly tart.  It isn’t until a few licks on this large lollipop that I start to notice the flavor of the rosemary.  Just as the description suggests, the rosemary is not overwhelming.  The flavor begins at just a subtle nudge of rosemary and it does develop but it never becomes too much.

Together the grapefruit and the rosemary are brilliant.  Typically, a grapefruit can be quite pungent, and the rosemary does “temper” the flavor.  The grapefruit doesn’t taste sour – it is a mildly tart and sweet lollipop.  The hint of savory bitterness from the rosemary enhances some of the nuances of the fruit, highlighting some of the flavors that are sometimes missed when eating the fruit.

And I can’t begin to say enough great things about this seller on Etsy.  The package arrived promptly, was packaged beautifully and I received free samples of other lollipops that are available.  (I’ll be reviewing those here later!)

My Final Thoughts:

The Groovy Baker takes the concept of gourmet lollipops to a whole other level.  The flavor combinations are genius.  These lollipops are art for the palate!  YUM!