Archive for June, 2011

Where to Buy:  Biscotti Bari on Foodzie

Price:  $8.00 for a 5.29-ounce package (there are about 20 smaller sized biscotti in each package)

Product Description:

Our Apricot Pecan Biscotti are loaded with dried apricots grown in Hollister, California by B & R Farms and farm fresh pecans from Chico, California. Our Apricot Pecan Biscotti are favored for their browned-butter flavor & nutty crunch…and of course, all those apricots!

What I Think:

I think that in the past two months, I’ve eaten more biscotti than I have my entire life prior to receiving my tasting box for May.  But, I’m not complaining, especially since the biscotti that I’ve been eating is from Biscotti Bari!

This Apricot Pecan Biscotti reminds me a bit of a cookie my gramma used to make:  a tender, buttery dough that encased a dollop of homemade apricot filling, and then topped with a crunchy, toasted almond.   She didn’t make these very often because they were a little more labor-intensive than say, a batch of chocolate chip cookies (and she also only made them in the summer when the apricots were plentiful on her apricot tree in the backyard); so when she did make them, they were a real treat.

This flavors of this biscotti are very reminiscent of the flavors of those cookies.  The apricots are very plentiful in the biscotti, and they are sweet and delicious.  If I were to offer any complaint about the biscotti at all, it would be that the apricot is just a little too dry – and this makes the chewy, dry apricot a little tough to bite into.  The “cookie” part of the biscotti is delectable!  Buttery and sweet, and filled with crunchy pecans, and just like the other biscotti I’ve tried from Biscotti Bari, the cookie isn’t as hard as a store-bought piece of biscotti.

And of course, you’ve got to have some hot tea when you eat biscotti – and I chose to pair this biscotti with a cup of Om Chai from Shanti Tea.  This is a fairly mellow chai – not strongly spiced – and made a perfect accompaniment with the sweet flavors of the biscotti.

My Final Thoughts:

I finished these off quickly, and they taste so good (and deliver fond memories) that I know I will be wanting to order them again and again!   These are fabulous!

Where to Buy:  Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier on Foodzie

Price:  $20. for four 4-ounce packages

Product Description:

Open up a bag of this award-winning treat and you’ll be blown away by the abundant blueberry aroma. Soft and satisfying, this all-natural gummy is made with hand-selected organic sweeteners and two natural sources of antioxidants: blueberries and acai fruit.

What I Think:

This is yet another product that I first discovered at Chuck’s Produce – but I didn’t try this particular flavor.  I actually purchased the Pomegranate White Tea Gummy Pandas at Chuck’s Produce (which I purchased because they were tea flavored), so I was very happy that I received a different flavor in June’s Tasting Box.

But still, I didn’t have high expectations because while I did enjoy the Pomegranate White Tea Gummy Pandas, they weren’t all that exceptional in my opinion.  But these not only exceeded my expectations – but they blew me away!  Quite possibly the best gummy candy I’ve ever tasted.  Not that I’m an expert at all when it comes to gummy confections, because they are not typically my favorite candy.

Just as the description above suggests, I was astonished by the fragrance that came from the pouch as soon as I opened it.  It smelled like fresh blueberries!

The flavor is very vibrant.  Sweet with just the right level of tart.  The blueberry flavor is especially intense!  The berry flavor is quite authentic – so true to the fruit, in fact, that I found myself expecting a burst of juice after biting into one of these berries … err, um, panda bears, that is.

I guess if I were to change anything about these at all, it would be the texture.  As I said, I’m not a big fan of gummy candy, so I find myself wishing this had more of a soft-gel like texture (like in a fruit gel candy) rather than the tough gelatin-ish, chewy texture of the gummy.  But since these are, in fact, gummy pandas, I guess to complain about the fact that they are gummy would be kind of unrealistic, huh?

My Final Thoughts:

With the exception of my misgivings about gummy candy, I found these to be quite flavorful and delicious.  I am surprised at how true to the fruit these gummy pandas are!

Where to Buy:  Flamous Brands on Foodzie

Price:  $19.99 for four 8-ounce bags

Product Description:

Loaded with a mouthwatering blend of beans, vegetables, herbs, and spices, our low sodium and All Natural chips are the perfect, crunchy snack! Tasting just like the Mediterranean Falafel sandwich, these gluten free chips are simply delicious.

What I Think:

Well, I feel I should start by saying that this isn’t my first time trying these falafel chips.  I first discovered them at Chuck’s Produce in Vancouver, WA, and promptly bought a bag because I love falafel!  (A snack size bag – 1.6 ounces – at Chuck’s was about a dollar, I think.)  I enjoyed my first bag, so I was very happy to receive another in June’s Tasting Box!

As I said, I love falafel.  Some years ago (more years than I care to admit to), I was a vegetarian.  I had to discontinue the diet during my pregnancy with my youngest daughter, as ordered by my doctor.  While I was a vegetarian, though, falafel was one of my favorite dishes, but to tell the truth, since that time, I haven’t had falafel more than a handful of times.  I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until I opened this bag of chips, though!  The distinct smell of falafel burst through the bag!  My mouth started watering instantly.

These chips look a lot like seasoned tortilla chips.  The texture is similar to tortilla chips as well.  They are crunchy and are fairly substantial, they could withstand whatever dip you want to pile on to them (although they are quite tasty without dip).  My favorite dip for these is hummus, although in a pinch ranch dip (or onion dip) tastes really good too.  Hint:  try making your ranch dip with plain yogurt instead of mayo!  It’s YUM – especially with these chips.

Even though the chips look and feel like tortilla chips, they don’t taste like them (although there is a slight roasted corn taste to these), nor are they as salty as a typical commercial corn tortilla chip.  They are salted just enough to bring out the flavors, and I like that.

Yummy!  I can really taste the “falafel” in these.  I can taste the beans and as I chew, I can feel the somewhat mealy texture of the falafel as well.  I can taste tumeric in these as well.  The spice is mild, but manages to deliver the overall falafel experience to the chips.   Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t as good as authentic falafel – but they are a delicious change-up from the ordinary tortilla chip.  The aftertaste is quite enjoyable too – like slightly spiced veggies!

My Final Thoughts:

I really like these.  As I said before, I’ve tried them before receiving them in my tasting box, and I will probably get more the next time I am at Chuck’s Produce.  They are awesome with hummus!

Where to Buy:  Liz Lovely on Foodzie

Price:  $3.99 for a package of two very large cookies

Product Description:

We take deep, dark, fudgy brownie dough with organic dark chocolate chips, roll it in organic cane sugar, and crush fairly traded cacao nibs on top. It’s a true chocoholic experience.

What I Think:

I opened my review of Liz Lovely’s Ginger Snapdragons like this:  Oh.  My.  Goodness.

Well… that goes DOUBLE for these cookies!  These are the best chocolate cookies I’ve ever tasted.  And that’s coming from a former Mrs. Field’s employee!  (Yes, I worked there many years ago, back when we actually mixed the cookie dough ourselves instead of using pre-made frozen cookie dough)

These are incredibly rich and moist and dense – just like a brownie.  Maybe even better than a brownie!  The chocolate is a dark, sweet chocolate with a hint of bitter – a very intense chocolate flavor that is two-fold with the addition of the dark chocolate chips.  Very indulgent – they transcend this chocoholic to a state of sheer euphoria.  The sugary coating take this cookie over-the-top … and might be a little much, but, I am enjoying the texture they give to the cookie.  I also like the crushed cacao nibs on top… they add just a little crunch and a nice bitter undertone to this sweet confection.  These are amazing.

I might have to order more of these to keep on hand when I have a chocoholic craving – these are sure to satisfy.

I don’t know if Liz Lovely takes “requests” or ideas from her customers, but, I am thinking that a cross between this and the Ginger Snapdragon would be absolute heaven…  I mean, this cookie is already heavenly… but the combination of the two would be bucket-list worthy!

My Final Thoughts: 

If you’re a chocoholic, you really MUST try these cookies.  They are pure chocolate nirvana in cookie form.  The only way these could be any better is if they were still warm from the oven.

Where to Buy:  The Groovy Baker on Etsy

Price:  $10. for a package of 7 lollipops

Product Description:

Blue Raspberry ~ 100% Awesomeness, 0% Pretense

Made with *real* blue!! <–HA! Oh, how I crack myself up =)

Seriously ~

I was always intrigued by ‘blue raspberry flavor’ it’s awesome….but blue doesn’t have anything at all to do with raspberries….so….huh???? Please understand I was a pastry-chef-in-training, so I might have different experiences than ‘normal’ kids *laughing*

But it was my favorite ~ picture a hot, sunny day in your childhood…showing off your newly ‘blue’ tongue…good times, my friend, good times.

These have a generous dose of pure vanilla in addition to the raspberry… they’re a bit easier on your grown-up palette

100% Pure Cane Sugar – Never any Corn Syrup

What I Think:

This is another (and the last) of the free sample lollipops I received with my order from The Groovy Baker.  I am not sure why I decided to save this one for last because to honest, this is the one I figured I’d like least.  Not that I dislike raspberry or sno-cones… but it just seemed a little ordinary.  A little like something I could get anywhere.  You know?

Boy, was I wrong!  Yes, the raspberry flavor is there, but it certainly isn’t an ordinary raspberry flavor!  This tastes authentic.  This tastes like raspberry and vanilla.  It doesn’t taste like an artificially flavored raspberry candy.

This is a sweeter raspberry though, the tartness of the berry isn’t there as much as I might have expected.  But I’m not disappointed because I’m not overly fond of tartness anyway.  The vanilla gives it a smooth, creamy flavor.  And yes… my tongue IS blue!

My Final Thoughts:

Don’t judge a lollipop before you lick it!  Pure yummy goodness from The Groovy Baker.  And… I’m so happy to see that they’re back in action now (their shop was on vacation for a while there) because I might just need to place another order soon!

Where to Buy:  Kyotofu on Foodzie

Price:  $28. for a gift-box of of 12 mini-cupcake size brownies

Product Description:

Awarded “Best Meals Worldwide” – USA TODAY, these Japanese style brownies blend rich Valrhona chocolate with a hint of buttery miso. A must-have for any chocolate lover!

What I Think:

I was very happy that this brownie was included in this month’s tasting box, I have been drooling over this particular Foodzie shop for a while now – they’ve some scrumptious-looking Matcha goodies in their shop that I must try sometime soon.

But this brownie is not something I probably would have considered ordering, so I am glad that they chose to send it in the Foodzie tasting box, because for me, that’s what it’s all about!  Trying something a little bit different!

And this is a bit different.  The brownie is very dense with an interesting texture.  I don’t have an ingredient list, so I don’t know exactly what it is that is providing this texture, but I would describe it as a coconut-flake kind of texture.  It doesn’t taste like coconut, though.

The chocolate flavor is incredibly rich.  Sweet with just a hint of bitter, just like you’d expect a deep, dark chocolate to taste.  There is a buttery tone to the brownie as well, and that buttery flavor is especially profound in the aftertaste.

This brownie is truly unique from other brownies I’ve tasted (and I’ve had my fair share of brownies in my lifetime).  It isn’t a cake-like brownie, it is a bit more dense and rich than that type of brownie.  And it isn’t a gooey, fudge-y brownie, either.  It is somewhere in between, kind of like a chocolate truffle!

My biggest complaint is not with the brownie itself, which is uniquely delicious, but in the packaging of the sample that I received in the Foodzie tasting box.  There is absolutely no ingredient information on the packaging, nor on the website.  While the only known food allergy that I have is of aspartame and I highly doubt they’d put artificial sweetener in a brownie like this, other people have more serious food allergies and I think it is important to include an ingredient list.

My Final Thoughts:

While I did enjoy this brownie, I don’t know that it is one that I’d order this again.  This was yummy, though.  Nothing unpleasant at all about it, I just prefer the ooey-gooey fudge-y brownies.  But it was certainly a pleasure to try this different take on a classic dessert treat.

Where to Buy:  Bobo’s Oat Bars on Foodzie

Price:  $28.80 for a case of 12 bars.

Product Description:

Bobo’s Oat Bars are a nutritious, all natural, vegan and wheat-free oat bar.

What I Think:

When I first saw this as one of the items in the Foodzie box, I thought it would be another typical granola bar – but it isn’t!  Not by a long shot!  This is soft – not crunchy or hard – and the flavor is reminiscent of a crumb doughnut, believe it or not!

The coconut gives this bar a nice texture, which is probably why I made the crumb doughnut comparison.  It is a sweet bar but not cloying.  An incredibly moist, dense, cake-like bar.

One bar is quite substantial – making this a great meal substitution!  Great as a breakfast on the go… in fact, if I had discovered these a few years ago, I would have stocked up on them for my oldest daughter who always was running out the door in the morning without eating anything for breakfast.  These would have been perfect, and I know she would have loved them – they taste like a cake-y dessert.  This is seriously tasty health food!  YUM!

My Final Thoughts:

Delicious!  A very satisfying bar:  not only tasty, but also quite filling and provides a nice energy boost too.  This is the kind of healthy snack that will change your mind about what healthy snacks are all about!  This is great!

Where to Buy:  Biscotti Bari on Foodzie

Price:  $8.00 for approximately 20 bite-size pieces of biscotti (5.29 ounce package)

Product Description:

Our Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Biscotti are packed full of San Franciso’s TCHO Chocolate and California grown roasted pistachios. Chocolately, nutty, crunchy…a biscotti lover’s treat!

What I Think:

After sampling the biscotti offerings in the May Tasting Box, I knew I had to order more of the biscotti from Biscotti Bari.  I loved both the Lemon Poppyseed and the Authentic Almond Biscotti that was included in the tasting box, but I must admit that there was just something exceptional about the Authentic Almond.   Along with a full-size Authentic Almond, I also ordered this and the Apricot Pecan biscotti (which I shall review later).

I was very pleased with the speed in which my order arrived!  Also tucked inside the box with my order was a handwritten note of thanks – I like that personal touch!

But let’s get on to the review, shall we?  This biscotti is amazing.  I love the texture!  It is quite crisp, they way one might expect a biscotti to be (biscotto means twice baked), but there is a lightness to it too.  It isn’t so hard that one is likely to chip a tooth if they bite into it without first dipping it in tea (I like Keemun with biscotti), although I must say that I do prefer dipping it before taking a bite.

This biscotti is incredibly decadent.  The cocoa of the biscotti is rich, and there are BIG chunks of creamy chocolate in the biscotti (they warm up just enough when dipped into the hot tea!)  There are also large bits of crunchy pistachio in the biscotti.  As much as I love chocolate, I like the way the pistachio sort of cuts through some of the richness of the chocolate.  I think it would become a bit too much if they weren’t there.

As it is, though, it is a nice balance of flavors.  Just enough nutty flavor to keep it interesting, but also intensely, deliciously chocolate-y.  It is almost sinful!  The chocolate, the pistachios… YUM!

My Final Thoughts:

If you love chocolate, you really MUST try this biscotti.  But be warned, once you try the biscotti from Biscotti Bari, there is no turning back… you’ll never want ordinary biscotti again!

Where to Buy:  Wayne’s Fine Foods on Foodzie

Price:  $4.99 per jar

Product Description:

The original Wayne’s Green Tomato Relish started in the 1950s as a clever way for Wayne to use up the unripened green tomatoes that remained in his garden every fall. People liked it so much, that he decided to enter it into the Macon County Fair (Macon County, IL). There it garnered a first prize blue ribbon (hence the “award winning” part of our moniker). The relish is delicious on grilled and spicy foods and for appetizer, alone on a cracker or dolloped over cream cheese.

What I Think:

I love trying unusual relishes and other condiments – and this one would certainly qualify as unusual.  I can’t think of trying a relish made of green tomatoes before.  But I’m really quite impressed with this.

The green tomatoes give the relish a nice texture and a mild, tangy flavor.  There is a nice sweetness to this that reminds me of sweet chutney.  Overall, its a very mellow flavored relish – a little sweet, a little sour.  It’s very tasty and makes a great topping for a hot dog, which is how I am enjoying it today.

I like that not one ingredient dominates over the others.  Even though this is a “green tomato” relish, it could have very easily been called something else, because I don’t think that the green tomatoes are the main flavor component.  They are nicely balanced with the sweetness of the bell pepper, and the sour notes of the vinegar, and even the faintest hint of warmth from the onion.  It’s really quite good, and something I would consider purchasing again!

My Final Thoughts:

I am really enjoying this relish.  It is quite different from any other relish I’ve ever tasted.  It has a very homemade feel to it – like something that the neighbor with the very prolific garden made and handed out to the neighbors for the holidays.  This one rates very high on the YUM scale!

One of our (hubby -n- me!) favorite go-to places is Buffalo Wild Wings.  We can always count on them to deliver a power-packed punch of flavor when our taste buds are craving something hot and spicy, but they will also have something our daughter (or possibly daughters … if our oldest is joining us too) will also enjoy.

Location:  9810 NE Cascades Parkway in Portland, OR

Order:  Hubby ordered 12 boneless wings in Medium sauce and my youngest daughter ordered the chicken tenders with french fries.  I ordered six boneless wings with Caribbean Jerk sauce and six boneless wings with Salt & Vinegar seasoning.  We ordered an order of Soft Pretzels and Roasted Garlic Mushrooms to share.

What I think:

I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed when visiting Buffalo Wild Wings.  Their wings always taste fresh and their sauces are tasty.  My favorite sauce is the Caribbean Jerk Sauce which is about as high as my spice tolerance will go.  I used to be much less of a wimp and could probably have gone for their Mango Habanero (and I’m tempted, let me tell you), but I think that my taste buds have mellowed significantly as the years have crept up on me.

Roasted Garlic Mushrooms

I like the Caribbean Jerk Sauce because it starts out hot, but not too wildly hot.  It offers some delicious fruity notes at the start including the fruit flavors of the peppers.  The contrast of flavors is really delightful; although the heat does build rather rapidly.  By the second wing, my mouth is quite warm and I’m beginning to feel a bead or two of sweat on my forehead.  But even at their spiciest, I still can taste the contrasting sweetness.  They get so warm, that I probably couldn’t eat more than six of these, and on this occasion, I ate three and brought the rest home for another day.

How I discovered the Caribbean Jerk Sauce is kind of a funny story – one visit, I ordered the “medium” wings, and my husband was sure he’d want something spicier than the medium, so he ordered the Caribbean Jerk.  Shortly after our food had been delivered to our table, I was eating from his basket, while he was eating from mine.  But… I digress!

On this occasion, I happened to discover a new favorite:  Salt & Vinegar seasoned wings.  Unlike the sauced wings, these are not quite as messy to eat because they’re not coated in sauce.  If you like Salt & Vinegar potato chips … you’ll like these.  I followed up my three Caribbean Jerk wings with a couple of these, and found that while these are not hot or spicy, the salt and vinegar flavors seem to add definition and dimension to the Caribbean Jerk spices.  I could taste the layers of flavors!  It was a very interesting experience!

One minor glitch – no celery was brought with our wings.  I don’t know if they’ve decided to forgo the celery these days or not, but I happen to enjoy the side of celery.  It not only is a hint of healthy in this otherwise fat-laden affair, it also helps to tame the heat from the lively sauces.

soft pretzels

On this visit, I also enjoyed another tried-and-true favorite:  Roasted Garlic Mushrooms.  These are very similar to deep fried mushrooms, except that the mushrooms have been infused with roasted garlic flavor.  The roasting of the garlic mellows out the pungent, aggressive tones of the garlic, leaving a mild, sweet flavor that really makes all the difference.  The garlic highlights the meatier characteristics of the mushrooms, giving them a depth that is not normally experienced.  These are so delicious that I’d be quite satisfied with just a plate of these for lunch.

While the soft pretzels were not bad, they weren’t anything spectacular, either.  They were just… soft pretzels.  Soft and fluffy interior.  Lightly crisped exterior.  Not too much salt.  Tasty, but not something I’d order again.  Next time, though, I think we should try the Fried Pickles!

My Final Thoughts:

I love Buffalo Wild Wings.  While the atmosphere leaves a little to be desired (I’m not a sports fan, but my hubby is, so he likes it just fine), I go there for the eats and I leave with my cravings for hot & spicy satisfied and my hunger appeased.   The service is pleasant and the food is tasty.

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