Archive for July, 2011

Where to Buy:  Morning Glory Confections on Foodzie

Price:  $10.00 for a 5 ounce box

Product Description:

Morning Glory’s Fleur de Sel & Peanut Brittle takes the salty-sweet notes of classic peanut brittle and elevates it to the sublime with the use of the finest French sea salt available.

Taster’s Review:

Some of you may remember my reviews of Morning Glory Confections’ New Mexico Chili & Pumpkin Seed Brittle and Chai Tea & Cashew Brittle.  I really enjoyed those two flavors of brittle, so I was very happy for the opportunity given to me by my July Tasting Box to try another.

The first thing I notice about this brittle is that it LOADED with peanuts.  It snaps crisply when bitten into, and is very crunchy – just like you’d expect from a peanut brittle.  In fact, this has all the makings of a classic peanut brittle – not one of those grocery store types of peanut brittle, but the good stuff that gramma would make.  Crunchy and sweet peanut-y deliciousness.

What’s really different here is the sea salt, and I love the difference it brings to this brittle.  I really love salted caramel – and this takes the idea of that salted caramel to another level by going “peanut brittle.”  Most peanut brittles can become rather cloying to the point of adumbrating the flavor of the nuts; however, with this brittle the sea salt cuts through the sweetness of the candy just enough so that doesn’t happen.  Instead, I can enjoy the sweetness while also tasting the peanuts.  How delightful.

My Final Thoughts:

Another great brittle from Morning Glory Confections.  I highly recommend this as well as the other flavors that I’ve tried.  But be warned:  this brittle is addicting.  I finished the box before I finished this article!  YUMMY!

A few weeks ago, my husband and youngest daughter decided to have dinner at Ruby Tuesday in Vancouver.  It would seem that this dinner would be our last at this establishment, as I learned last Thursday that this location had closed permanently.

Location:  916 SE 164th Avenue, Vancouver, WA

Order:  From their new Summer Mixed Grill menu:  Mango Chicken & Jumbo Shrimp ($11.99) with steamed broccoli and white cheddar mashed potatoes on the side.

What I Think:

When we visited Ruby Tuesday, we had no idea that it would be closing in another week.  I ordered from their Summer Mixed Grill menu – I had originally placed an order from their regular menu, and then I took a look at the special menu – and ran to find my server.  She was very nice and changed my order with a smile.

The food arrived so quickly!  The chicken was nicely cooked.  It was juicy and flavorful – not a dry bite on the whole portion.  And what I noticed about this grilled chicken specifically is that it is actually GRILLED.  Not marked with some sort of artificial grill mark or grilled under a broiler.  I could taste a hint of smoke to the chicken which told me that this had been grilled over a fire.

The chicken breast was topped with a mango salsa that was sweet, chunky and had just enough spicy kick to it to keep it interesting.  That spicy note builds upon the palate, and by the time my plate was clean, I could feel that heat on my tongue.  Fortunately, my daughter had fresh apple chunks as one of her side dishes, and she gave me one to help cleanse the palate.

The shrimp were delicious, although they weren’t terribly exciting.  They were plump and indeed “jumbo” – some of the largest shrimp I’ve seen.  They were cooked nicely, not overdone or tough.

The broccoli was steamed to just beyond the tender-crisp point, to the point that I personally find perfect.  Not too mushy, but also not too crunchy.  Just enough snap to the vegetable but still tender.

To drink, I had the seasonal soda:  Watermelon Fizz.  I didn’t really read the ingredients in this drink – they had me at “watermelon.”  Fortunately, I was very pleased with this beverage, which is a concoction of fresh watermelon, lime, mint and club soda.  This was deliciously refreshing, although it is certainly not for everyone.  My husband didn’t really seem too excited about it, nor did my daughter (although she was very happy to munch on the fresh watermelon garnish).

My Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed the food very much, and the service was even better than the food.  My only complaint was that our table … well, the finish was a little worn, and (as it was explained to us by our server), the cleanser that they use to clean the tables leaves them a little sticky.  Our server was quick to help us with a rinsing wipe-down, and after that, all was well.   The service is friendly (I even had changed my order after it had been placed, and they were incredibly understanding) and very fast!  I am sad that this location is no longer open.

Ruby Tuesday on Urbanspoon

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Grain Farms on Foodzie

Price:  $6.95 for a 1.3 lb package

Product Description:

Our most popular seller, this old world heirloom dates back to early civilization. The term Emmer refers to the type or species of grain. Emmer is the original farro (old world grain), a simple grain of 28 chromosones that pre-dates spelt. It is prepared like brown rice, cooks in 50-60 minutes or can be soaked overnight to reduce the cooking time. It makes a fabulous pilaf, grain salad, risotto, additive to soup, or sprouted for breads and salads. When cooked, its dark, plump berries add sweet, full-bodied flavor, chewy texture, and high nutritional value (over 16% protein) to every meal. It is a lovely, versatile grain that is a staple in our household. When mixed with lentils or chickpeas, emmer makes a complete protein.

What I Think:

Wow!  It’s been ages since I’ve had farro.

Trying it again after so long makes me wonder … just why have I not eaten farro in so long.  It is so delicious!  I think it may be because it is a little more difficult to find (It isn’t on my usual grocery store shelves) but it certainly isn’t impossible to find.  I haven’t really looked at Whole Foods, but I am sure I’d probably find some there.  It also takes longer to cook than other grains.

I boiled the grains for 15 minutes and served it with a sprinkling of sea salt and a little butter.  It is a very hearty, toothsome grain, although it is a bit on the hard side with just 15 minutes of cook time.  Hard, but not inedible.  For a more tender farro berry, I would recommend simmering it longer, or pre-soaking the farro.

As it is though, I like it at 15 minutes.  It makes for a deliciously different hot cereal.  Chewy and rustic, with a sweet, nutty taste.  It doesn’t need any additives, but I do like the addition of a little butter as it adds a little creaminess to it.  A longer cooked grain might also be nice served with a little milk.

My Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this opportunity to rediscover farro.  This farro is delicious and hearty!

Where to Buy:  Kyotofu on Foodzie

Price:  $25.00

Product Description:

We’ve created this special assortment for all of the green tea lovers out there! Made using one of the highest quality matcha powders in Japan, our assortment includes Matcha Nama Chocolates (2 pieces), Hand-dipped Green Tea Okara Cookies (5 pieces), Matcha Financiers (10 pieces), and Matcha Shortbread Cookies (5 pieces). Packed in our signature Kyotofu-branded brown box.

What I Think:

The first thing that captured my excitement about this package was the packaging itself.  All of these goodies were neatly packed inside a beautiful chocolate brown box, tied up with cream and pink ribbons.

I was a little disappointed when I opened the box, however.  I received no Matcha Nama Chocolates and no Hand-Dipped Green Tea Okara Cookies.  I received substitutions for these (I received extra of the shortbread cookies and the financiers), although I was not informed of the substitutions made.  What follows is my impressions of each of the three different types of confections I received in my assortment box.

Matcha Cupcakes:  The description of this assortment no longer includes the cupcakes, but my box included eight mini “cupcakes.”  These are really tasty and possess a nice Matcha flavor.  This cupcake is a celebration of the sweetness of Matcha – it is lightly vegetal without being overly grassy.  There is a very pleasing taste to the cake.  They are light and fluffy, and they impart a lovely Matcha aftertaste.  Very good – although they are a little on the dry side.

Matcha Shortbread Cookies:  Instead of getting five Hand-Dipped Green Tea Okara Cookies, I received a total of ten of the Matcha Shortbread Cookies.  These turned out to be my favorite of the assortment I received.  At first, I was a bit unsure, they looked a tad over-baked, but by the time I had finished that first cookie, I was reaching for my second.  It’s hard to stop eating these!  They are buttery and rich and seem to melt in my mouth.  Absolutely delicious.

Matcha Financiers:  I absolutely love the texture of these financiers.  They are tender and soft in the middle, with a lightly crisp exterior.  The flavor is Matcha – lightly vegetative and sweet with a mere hint of bitterness.  There is a buttery essence to these as well, and that buttery essence imparts a creamy taste on the palate that enhances the matcha taste.  It’s almost like sipping on Matcha (but my sweet tooth would argue that these are even better than Matcha!)

In addition to the initial disappointment of the substitutions (after tasting these treats, I was no longer disappointed by the substitutions) I was also a little dismayed that there were no ingredient listings on any of the products (nor on the website).   As a foodie, I like to know what goes into the foods I eat.

My Final Thoughts:

Despite a few disappointing concerns, overall, this assortment package was more than enjoyable – everything inside the beautiful package was absolutely delicious.  From the rich, melt-in-my-mouth goodness of the shortbread to the incredibly light, sweet financiers and fluffy cupcakes, these are treats that I’d be happy to enjoy any time!   YUM!

Where to Buy:  479° Popcorn

Price:  $35.  for five 4-ounce boxes of a variety of flavored popcorn

What I Think:

I have tried this popcorn before – I found this brand of popcorn at Chuck’s Produce after having tried Charlie’s Truffled Popcorn in February’s Tasting Box.  I enjoyed that popcorn so much that I wanted to try this one to see how it compared.  And while I admit that I preferred Charlie’s Truffled Popcorn over this popcorn, I am still very happy to be able to enjoy this popcorn again.  It’s quite tasty.

The black truffle is more profound in the aroma of the popcorn than it is in the flavor, and I guess if I were to complain about anything, it would be that I would want more truffle flavor.  That is not to say that this popcorn isn’t delightful, it is, but, it would be even better if the truffle flavor were better defined.

The popcorn has a light, crunchy texture.  The white cheddar cheese is the strongest flavor and it offers a sharp, tangy note that is a nice contrast to the savory, earthy tone of the truffle.  I like that this popcorn is not overwhelmingly salty – there is just a hint of salt to enhance the overall taste.  It is a satisfying combination of flavors.

My Final Thoughts:

I like popcorn and I enjoyed this popcorn.  Will I be ordering more?  Probably not, mostly because I find the price a bit prohibitive.  The flavors in the Foodie Sampler are indeed intriguing (especially the Fleur de Sel Caramel!) but I don’t know that they interest me enough to buy the entire sampler package.  However, if I find that flavor at Chuck’s Produce I may pick up a box – and if I do, I’ll be sure to write about it!

Yay!  My July Tasting Box from Foodzie is here!

I must admit a little disappointment in finding no chocolate in my box (I am a chocoholic, remember?) but I also understand why.  This IS summer, and I can only imagine what would happen to something chocolate-y during transport.  And since we eat with our eyes first – it’s important that everything look as fantastic as it tastes.

And just feast your eyes upon all goodies I received in this month’s box!  This box includes:  Black Truffle & White Cheddar Popcorn from from 479° Popcorn, Fleur de Sel Peanut Brittle from Morning Glory Confections, Dried Cherries from Benjamin Twiggs, Organic Heirloom Emmer Farro from Bluebird Grain Farms, Organic Olive Oil from Bari Olive Oil, and Fennel Pollen Shortbread from Botanical Bakery.  What a culinary adventure this box promises to be!

The box also included the map card as well as a recipe card for Kale Salad which will utilize not just one of the ingredients in this month’s box but two of them!  Here is a scan of both sides of the map card (just click on these smaller images to get to a larger image) …

I am very excited to dig in to my box!  Be sure to tune in to this blog to read my reviews of each item as I sample them!  But for now, let’s eat!

Where to Buy:  Woody’s Gourmet on Foodzie

Price:  $9.99

Product Description:

Who loves bacon? Who puts REAL BACON in sea salt? The aromatic essence of our smoked bacon and fresh sage sea salt will grab you, but the flavor will shake you – in a comforting way. Our proprietary method of Wet Infusion™ blends essential oils from fresh ingredients with sea salt. This smoked bacon sea salt redefines your meals and the way you incorporate bacon. Can you get your fill?

What I Think:

After having such great success with the other sea salt blends from Woody’s Gourmet that I’ve tried, I was really eager to try the one that intrigued me most:  Smoked Bacon & Fresh Sage!

The salt in the bottle looks just like the salt in the picture above, there are LOTS of small chunks of real bacon in there!  And I just love how it accents a burger.  It’s also excellent on baked or grilled chicken breasts as well as roasted potatoes.

The bacon flavor is a bit more subtle than I expected and that I wanted … at least, at first.  But, as I became more acquainted with this salt blend I liked the lighter bacon flavor.  As it is, the bacon and sage are nicely balanced, and these two flavorings really enhance each other nicely, and bring a deliciously savory note to just about anything.  I say “just about anything” because I didn’t really care for this on fish.  I prepared a fillet of tillapia with this, and the fish just ended up tasting like salt.  Too much salt.  The natural flavor of the tillapia together with the savory, salty taste of the bacon and the sea salt… was just too much.  But, other than that one mishap, I have really enjoyed my taste adventures with this salt blend.

My Final Thoughts:

Woody’s Gourmet has quickly become my favorite source for seasonings.  I love that the herbs that they use in these blends are all fresh.  It really makes a difference!

Where to Buy:  Whole Foods Market
and where Cougar Mountain Products are sold

Product Information:

Ingredients:  Unbleached wheat flour, brown sugar, sugar, butter, dried cranberries, canola oil, eggs, orange juice, skim milk, orange extract, baking soda, salt, vanilla.

For more information about Cougar Mountain Baking Company, visit their website.

What I Think:

I found this cookie at my local Whole Foods on my most recent visit, and it called out to me.  Perhaps it is just my longing of autumn that made this particular cookie so appealing to me.  It could have just been that I was hungry and when I saw the cookie my tummy growled, begging me to grab that cookie!

And I’m glad I did, it is very yummy.  I like the texture of this one.  It is soft, but it isn’t too soft (although, I do like the very soft cookies too!).  It has a firm texture to it without being crunchy or hard.  As I eat the cookie, it feels substantial and wholesome – while at the same time being a treat.

The two flavors of orange and cranberry really come through.  They are a well-balanced set of flavors – it doesn’t taste more orange than cranberry or the other way around.  The dried cranberries are chewy and enhance the overall texture of the cookie, while the orange flavor tastes bright and sunny!

I also like that these are locally made (based in Seattle, but, there is also a satellite bakery in Portland), and reasonably priced – around a dollar for one large cookie!  YUM!

My Final Thoughts:

A yummy cookie that tastes good!  I look forward to seeking out their other flavors!  Goes great with tea, too!

Where to Buy:  Mrs. Sipps on Foodzie

Price:  $23.97 for three 8-ounce packages

Product Description:

Mrs. Sipps spiced almonds provide a unique taste that starts sweet then finishes with a savory spicy kick of flavor.

What I think:

These spiced almonds are the perfect example to illustrate why I love Foodzie.  I love that I can visit the website and find all kinds of unusual and handcrafted foods – stuff you’re not likely to find in your typical grocery store.  It’s kind of like one of those outdoor farmer’s markets that are open on the weekends, only you don’t have to wait until the weekend to shop – you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home!  I love it!

And I love these almonds!  They start off tasting like an ordinary almond – crunchy, a little roasty, salty and a sweet, nutty flavor.  It takes a few moments for the heat to kick in… but then WHAM!  It hits you.  That delectable spicy flavor!

And it’s the spicy flavor that has got me hooked.  This is not your typical hot spiciness.  It isn’t the kind of HOT that will send you running to the kitchen for something to quench the fire in your mouth. It is a complex, savory-spicy flavor with a hint of sweetness for delightful contrast. Those contrasts in flavor balance and temper the spice so well that I’m able to sit back and enjoy the flavors in each almond.

It’s almost like a praline almond that has been spiked with spice.  The sesame seeds add to the toasty, nutty flavor and they also add some visual interest.  The “candied” praline adds a hint of chewy texture.  In one crunchy bite, there is salty, sweet and spicy.  Incredibly YUM!

My Final Thoughts:

These almonds were so good.  But my bag is empty.  MUST HAVE MORE!