Archive for September, 2011

Where to Buy:  Sir Kensington’s on Foodzie

Price:  $8.99 for an 11-ounce jar

Product Description:

Reminiscent of my time spent in Mesopotamia, this spiced variant of ketchup contains jalapeno, cilantro and lime. The spice is noticeable but not overbearing, delighting the palates of both the spicy food lover and those with more delicate taste buds.

What I Think:

After falling completely in love with the original Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup, I knew I had to try the Spiced variety.

This is very similar to the original “non-spiced” variety.   This ketchup has the same, deep red color of the original variety, and has the same fresh tomato-y taste.   The most significant difference is – surprise, surprise! – the spice level.  Now, this is not what I would classify as “spicy.”  It is pleasantly warm.  A little spicier than the average ketchup but not quite as spicy as a mild salsa.

The presence of the jalapeño pepper in this ketchup makes the flavor of the bell pepper less apparent.  I don’t taste much from the cilantro, but what I do taste is the lime.  It accents the overall flavor, offsetting the sweetness of the ketchup, making this taste not quite as sweet as the original while at the same time highlighting the spice.

But as I said before, this is not actually a hot/spicy tasting ketchup.  It is mild on the heat scale, but the heat does develop as I continue to eat it.  That being said, I don’t think those who generally shy away from spicy foods would have anything to fear with this ketchup.

My Final Thoughts:

I really like this.  Do I like it better than the original variety?  No, I don’t think so.  But it is still is delicious – delicious enough to eat right out of a jar with a spoon!  And it is different enough from the original that it would be perfectly acceptable to have both in your pantry:  one for every day use, and one when you want to spice things up a bit.

One of the things I like best about Living Social is that it offers a new deal every week day, and quite often those deals are 50% savings (or more!) for local restaurants.  This is a great opportunity to try someplace new without a large financial commitment … in short, it is an affordable way to explore Portland’s gastronomy.  If not for Living Social, I probably would have never discovered Bumblekiss … they offer “ridiculously tasty” breakfast, brunch and lunch seven days a week.

Mini Muffins

Location:  3517 NE 46th Avenue in Portland, OR

Order:  I ordered Coconut Pancakes w/ Strawberry Sauce (from the special menu board), these pancakes came with two eggs, which I ordered over-medium.  My husband ordered the Cinnamon Swirl French Toast.  We also ordered a plate of mini-muffins to share.

What I Think: 

The first thing that I noticed about Bumblekiss is that this is not the run-of-the-mill cafe.  You can’t miss this place, with its burnt orange exterior, it’s a stand-out in the neighborhood.  It is a home that has been turn into a business, and when I walked into the main entrance, it felt cozy.  It’s not an upscale dining establishment, rather, it felt like I was visiting a good friend’s home.

Coconut Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

I was happy to see that they offer Mighty Leaf tea.  Sure, I’d rather restaurants offer loose leaf teas, but, if they have to offer bagged tea, then Mighty Leaf’s sachets are about as close to loose leaf as bagged tea can get.  I ordered Orange Dulce, which is one of my favorite teas from Mighty Leaf.

We ordered a plate of mini muffins ($2.75 for a plate of six mini-muffins) to get things started.  There were 2 banana muffins, 2 lavender coconut, and 2 “muffins of the day” which happened to be a carrot-walnut type of muffin.  I thought that the banana would be my favorite, but I actually preferred the carrot-walnut.  It was moist, nutty and sweet, but not too sweet.  The lavender coconut muffin seemed to be more like a chewy coconut-oat cluster cookie that was heavily saturated with lavender than a muffin, but, since I love lavender, coconut and oats, I actually quite enjoyed it.  The banana was also quite tasty, but I found it to be a bit dry, which was a surprise to me, because typically banana breads tend to be rather moist.  It was still delicious, but, I was expecting a moister texture.

It didn’t take me long to decide what I wanted to order.  One glance at the special menu board told me that Coconut Pancakes were the special of the day and that sounded too good to pass up.  And they were!  These pancakes were heavenly.  It was like eating cake for breakfast.  Incredible!  They were fluffy and loaded with shredded coconut.  Sweet and very substantial – they filled me up fast!

I didn’t try the syrup that was included on the plate until toward the end, and I really wish I had tried it sooner.  Because the pancakes had been drizzled with the strawberry sauce, I didn’t really feel they needed additional topping… but the syrup at Bumblekiss is amazing!  It is like a sugar syrup that has been heavily infused with a masala chai spice blend.  It is absolutely delicious, so good, in fact, that I think I’m going to try my hand at making some at home (I have plenty of spices on hand!)  As much as I love strawberries (and this strawberry sauce was delicious), I would have rather not had the pancakes topped with the sauce, and used the syrup instead.

Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

My husband ordered the cinnamon swirl french toast ($7.50 for three pieces of french toast) and they were tasty, although I must admit that in themselves, they weren’t anything extraordinary.  It was the syrup, in my opinion, that made them special.

 

My Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed my visit to Bumblekiss.  The food is indeed “rediculously tasty” and comforting, and I appreciated the cozy, friendly ambiance.  The service was good, our server was attentive and made the experience all the more enjoyable.

Bumblekiss on Urbanspoon

These cookies are available on Petit Amuse.

Price:  $5.99 for a package of 12 cookies (net weight 6.7 oz.)

Product Description:

It’s a fact that 9 out of 10 adults love shortbread. One of our two 2011 sofi™ Silver Finalists, our shortbread are crisp and buttery and thinner than most. The fragrant rosemary and sprinkling of sea salt raises the bar to perfect. If you like shortbread, this is the cookie for you.

What I Think:

This is really good.  I would have never thought of putting rosemary in shortbread, but it really is quite delicious.

From the first bite, I notice the crisp texture.  A crisp snap, and then it seems to melt in my mouth.  It is rich and very buttery:  sweet, creamy butter.  YUM!  The salt cuts through some of the sweetness, and the rosemary changes everything.  The rosemary, while a familiar flavor, lends a intriguing sense of mystery to what might otherwise be a delicious yet ordinary shortbread cookie.

This is no longer a sweet cookie.  It has some sweetness to it, of course, but it never becomes a cloyingly sweet treat.  With the savory, woodsy tones of the rosemary, this becomes more like a bread or a cracker and less like a cookie.  The rosemary makes it seem ok to enjoy this cookie for breakfast.  You know, in case you need a good reason to eat cookies for breakfast.

And of course, let us not forget Tea Time!  These make a perfect tea time snack.   Because of the savory nature of the rosemary and sea salt, and because I really wanted to taste the qualities of these two ingredients, I chose a delicious, yet straightforward Ceylon tea, specifically, this Morawaka Ceylon BOP-1 from KTeas.  A perfectly delicious pairing!

My Final Thoughts:

These shortbread cookies are extraordinary.  What really makes these cookies stand out – obviously – is the rosemary.   There is a delectable balance between sweet, salty and savory.  A deliciously different shortbread cookie.

Where to Buy:  Botanical Bakery on Foodzie

Price:  $5.99 for 3.5 ounce package

Product Description:

The Queen of Spices. She is everything you would want in a Queen: strong, bold, warm, and intense, though not bitter. Known to be a good cure for weakness, cardamom is also said to be balancing. Some ancient cultures even used cardamom in their romantic endeavors as an aphrodisiac. Her scent, unmistakable, lingers in the air like something you’re meant to pay attention to.

What I Think:

I have fallen completely in love with Botanical Bakery.  These shortbread cookies are so delicious.

These Cardamom Shorties have just the right touch of cardamom – it is not too overpowering, nor is it overwhelmed by the sweet, buttery taste of the shortbread.  The result is a shortbread cookie that is lightly crunchy, buttery and flaky, sweet and warm with spice.  They have a very exotic appeal to them.

The Botanical Bakery suggests pairing these with a spiced Chai, and I agree.  I brewed a cup of BioChai from Hampstead Tea and the combination is spectacular.

My Final Thoughts:

I don’t know what else I can say; I love these shorties!

Where to Buy:  Oren’s Kitchen on Foodzie

Price:  $6.99 for a 4-oz. pouch

Product Information:

Ajwain, a delicious unusual spice reminiscent of fresh cedar, cumin and ghee (clarified butter) are the perfect Indian flavor compliment to the simple pleasure of fine whole cashews.

What I Think:

When I received my September Tasting Box from Foodzie and discovered that these cashews were part of the Tea Time Treats themed box, I was elated!  I found these on Foodzie some time ago, and have wanted to try them ever since, but was a little afraid.  Even though I consider myself to have somewhat of an adventurous palate, I don’t like the idea of spending money on shipping an item to me only to regret it because I didn’t enjoy what I purchased.  That’s one of the reasons I love Foodzie’s Tasting Box … it enables me to try things that might otherwise not have.

And I’m really glad I got to try these because they’re really quite delicious.  Before opening the package, I had read one less-than-satisfied Foodzie customer’s remarks on Foodzie’s Facebook page, complaining about the greasiness of these nuts.  And yes, they are on the oily side (have a napkin close by when you snack on these!) as they are processed with not only olive oil but ghee – and nuts have their own natural oil as well.  But I’m not finding to be too oily, but perhaps that’s because I like the way every flavor (including that of the oil and ghee) comes together on the palate. Or maybe it’s because I always order my popcorn with extra butter.

The cumin, the ajwain (which has woody, resinous sort of flavor that is somewhat reminiscent of rosemary with cedar-ish top notes), the salt, and the sweet nutty flavor of the cashew combined with the olive oil and ghee make for an explosion of contrasting flavors.  It is very savory, but with hints of sweetness in the background.  A little smoky.  Warm with spice.  Salty.  And irresistibly crunchy. YUM!

And when it comes to tea time – these are a delightful snack.  I don’t know that I would serve them at a tea party because as I sad, these are somewhat greasy and you don’t want guests wiping their fingertips on their tea party dress.  But, they’re excellent now, as I sit here on my own, just contemplating the joy of my tea and these cashews.  The tea I chose to enjoy with these cashews is this Wuyi Oolong from the Tao of Tea.  I like the way the smoky tones from the tea and the smoky notes from the cumin enhance each other without one overpowering the other.

My Final Thoughts:

These cashews are deliciously different.  I really like them, and trying them makes me curious to try Oren’s Kitchen’s other offerings … Coconut Chili Macadamia Nuts?  Those are a definite must try!

Where to Buy:  Simple Squares on Foodzie

What I Think:

Yes… I am still eating from my August tasting box and it’s September, and I’ve already received my September tasting box!  I’m a little behind… but I guess that’s obvious.

Anyway… I’m really enjoying this Coconut Simple Square.  I think I like this one better than the Rosemary Simple Square, although I did enjoy that one too.  I can really taste the almonds in this and the coconut is plentiful.  This bar is crunchy, sweet, and delicious.  This one is a little less savory than the other (due to the fact that this one doesn’t have the rosemary), this one is a little more on the sweet treat side – and my sweet tooth definitely approves of that.

I like the simplicity of these bars.  They don’t have a lot of complicated ingredients that I cannot pronounce.  It’s all natural, no sugar, no preservatives – it is a simple and short list of ingredients.  It’s something that I can snack on without guilt, and it is pleasantly sweet and satisfying.

That being said, I think they are a little too little for such a hefty price tag ($2.49 per square).  While I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating them, I would feel guilty about ordering them because they are on the pricy side.

My Final Thoughts:

Tasty and wholesome?  Yes.  A treat I could feel good about snacking on any time of day?  Yes.  A treat I could feel good about ordering?  No.  These are just a little too expensive for what they are, I’m afraid.

Sometime before the announcement of the closure of Border’s Books, my youngest daughter and I spent some time there, and enjoyed a chocoholic’s feast at the in-store coffee shop, Seattle’s Best Coffee.  Now that Border’s is closed, I suppose these treats can be found at any Seattle’s Best Coffee location…

Chocolate Chunk Brownie

Location:  811 SE 160th Avenue, Vancouver, WA

Order:  Chocolate Javakula, Hot Chocolate (for my daughter) and a Chocolate Chunk Brownie (I told you this was a chocoholic’s feast, didn’t I?)

What I Think:

Being a lover of tea, I had ordered a chai latte before I noticed that at the register, they had the cutest samples of their Chocolate Javakula.  Asking first if they had coffee in them (coffee doesn’t agree with me), I was assured that there was not and I tried this heavenly chocolate drink.  I changed my order after the first sip!  YUM!

Chocolate Javakula

The Chocolate Javakula is an ice-blended drink that was perfect for this very warm afternoon.  It is sweet, rich and chocolate-y; not to mention incredibly cooling because of the ice.  Imagine your favorite hot chocolate turned into an ice slush!  That’s what this tastes like.  Now imagine it topped with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle.  (commence drooling!)  It was perfect liquid refreshment for this chocoholic.

My daughter had a rich, creamy hot chocolate which was also topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, plus a little bite of chocolate on the side.

But of course, this wasn’t enough chocolate for us… we had to go for it, and go big!  We also ordered their Chocolate Chunk Brownie.  They warmed it up for us, which made the huge chocolate chunks in the brownie melt slightly.  It was fudge-y and gooey.  It was heavenly!

My Final Thoughts:

We don’t get out like that very often, but, it sure was a nice treat.  I’m sad that Border’s has closed… it was my favorite book store.  Not just for the eats, but I love the casual atmosphere, and they had a great spot for kids there where they could browse through books to find just what they wanted.  I will miss Borders!