Archive for November, 2012

Product Description:

Juicefuls fruit snacks are bursting with flavor, and we do mean that literally. The soft and chewy fruit bites with 100% fruit juice at the core erupt in your mouth, surprising your taste buds with the bright, refreshing flavor of real fruit.

I received a package of these fruit snacks in my October Goodies Box.

Tea Suggestion:

These are really quite sweet, so I suggest something that will help you offset the sweetness a bit – something that will help to balance the taste on the palate.  My choice is for a spicy chai served straight (that is, not a latte), because the sweetness of the fruit snacks and the spices of the chai offer interesting contrast!  Try this Indian Spiced Chai from Tealicious Tea Company!

What I Think:

These are a little different than what I was expecting… although, I am not sure exactly what I was expecting.  With a name like “Juicefuls” I was kind of expecting a juice burst when I bite into one of these … sort of like Freshen Up gum… remember that gum?  You’d bite into it, and there’s this burst of gel inside?  I think that was what immediately came to mind when I first read the name “Juicefuls” … and then I also expected the outer “shell” of the fruit snack to be a different texture, I expected it to be more of a firm gelatin type of texture.

Neither of these expectations were met.  On the plus side, the fruit snack “shell” is softer than I expected it to be, it is chewy and soft.  But there is no burst of juice or anything either.  It does have a softer center than the outer shell, but, it doesn’t feel like it’s full of juice or anything.

These are tasty enough, sure, but part of me feels like I should have followed my intuition and just given this package to my young daughter, because I think she’d have appreciated it more than I did.  They are fruity and sweet, and by the time you reach the end of the package, they almost seem too sweet.

My Final Thoughts:

These are alright.  I didn’t dislike them.  And, I might even buy more in the future, but they’d be for my daughter, not for me.  These are not my typical snack food – I’d much prefer to snack on fruit rather than fruit snacks.  Alright, but, a little too cloying after a while.

When I saw My Brother’s Crawfish offering a voucher on Living Social – I jumped on it!  I love shellfish, but, as I’ve lived exclusively near the West Coast, I can’t say that crawfish is something with which I’ve had a lot of experience.  Read:  I’ve never had crawfish before.  I was eager to try this Louisiana favorite.

Crawfish Boil

Location:  8220 SE Harrison Street, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered a Crawfish Boil, of course!  (Market Price on the day we visited was $9)  I also ordered a few add-ons:  Corn on the Cob, Mushrooms and a french roll.

What I Think:

The restaurant is very small with dark walls that made it seemed more closed in than it probably was.  The decor is distinctly New Orleans, with an emphasis on a Mardi Gras theme.  One thing that kind of caught my eye in particular were the birds on the wall, mostly because I’m a Portlandia fan, and whenever I see bird decor now I think back to the skit they did “Put a bird on it.”  Hilarious!

Before visiting any restaurant, I like to visit their website, if they have one, and check out their menu, and get an idea of what I’d like to order.  Before visiting My Brother’s Crawfish, I had pretty much decided that I’d like to try the Crawfish Etoufee as this is a dish that I have never experienced before, but something that I’ve always wanted to try.

However, on the occasion when we visited this restaurant, the Etoufee was not available, so I went with the Crawfish Boil, and I’m really glad I did.  A huge bowl of Crawfish was brought to the table, and inside the bowl was a couple of halved cobs of corn and about a dozen mushrooms.

I chose the mild spice, and it is spicy, but fortunately as the name “mild” would suggest, its not overly so.  But, for those who tend to shy from spicy, they might want something even more mild than the mild spice, because the heat does slowly creep up on you, and by the time I was finishing off my last crawfish and mushrooms, my mouth was pretty warm.

Chicken Strips and French Fries

The best part of the meal?  I loved the mushrooms!  They cooked up in the spicy boil liquid, absorbing the flavors of the crawfish and the spice.  YUM!  Also good was the french roll, because I used it to soak up the liquid and that was pretty darned tasty.

For those of you who haven’t had crawfish before, they look and taste a lot like mini lobsters.  They’re a little chewier though, as I tend to associate lobster with a buttery texture, these crawfish didn’t have that texture.  I felt a little out of place eating the crawfish, because I’m sure there’s an art to it, and I fumbled my way around the shells, trying to break into them to reach the tasty meat.

However, despite my bungling with the crawfish, they were still very delicious.  The corn on the cob was juicy and tender, and overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable meal.

However, I doubt we’ll be returning, mostly because my husband was less impressed.  He ordered the Chicken Strips and French Fries ($10) and this just wasn’t to his liking at all.  The Chicken Strips were not very crispy, and they had an unusual breading that he didn’t find very appealing.

My Final Thoughts:

If you’re going to My Brother’s Crawfish, do yourself a favor and go for the crawfish!  They’re delicious!  I probably won’t be returning to this establishment for the reason I mentioned above, but, even though I won’t be returning, I still really enjoyed what I ate.

My Brother's Crawfish on Urbanspoon

Yay!  I love it when my foodie tasting boxes arrive!  It’s almost as wonderful and amazing as when I get tea in the mail.  Almost, but not quite.  Tea still wins out over food!

Please excuse the orange-ness of my photo. I’m terrible at taking pictures and the lighting here was not great. On the other hand, it IS November … autumn. Maybe I’m just making an artistic statement about the season …

The theme of this month’s Knoshbox is “Bourbon Box” which got me excited!   Foodzie  – before it became Joyus … a transition which lead me to seek out new tasting boxes, which lead me to discover Knoshbox, and I’m so much happier with Knoshbox than I was with Foodzie! – anyway, Foodzie had a Bacon and Bourbon box about a year or so ago, and I loved it.  I’m not so keen on Bourbon (I drink tea, and am not a big fan of alcohol … I’m a tea-totaler!  hahaha!), but, I did love the bourbon products that were in that Bacon and Bourbon box, so, I am keeping an open mind and a hungry stomach (that sounds kind of Iron Chef-ish, doesn’t it?) to the possibilities of this box.

But what excites me more than the theme of this box, is the items it includes.  First, there’s the handmade marshmallows from 240Sweet … Bourbon Sugar Bourbon Marshmallows!  For those of you who haven’t read many of my reviews on this blog, 240Sweet are my #1 choice when it comes to marshmallows, because they’re AWESOME!   And I love that Knoshbox decided to include them in this box.  It makes me love Knoshbox all the more!

Also in this box are Bourbon infused brownies!  Yes, you read that correctly:  Bourbon infused brownies from Cacao Sweets & Treats.  Then there is a jar of Fat Toad Farm caramel (Bourbon infused caramel!) and Bourbon Salted Pecan pancake mix from Southern Culture.

Yes, this is an amazing box … and I’m excited to try each and every item.

Now, Knoshbox, you know I love you, right?  How about a tea time box?  I’d be happy to serve as a consult on that box, if you want.

Photo from Knoshbox. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

In 2007, Chef Josh Henderson created Skillet Street Food in Seattle. Out of a vintage Airstream trailer, he created innovative lunch menus based on American-inspired food prepared with classic technique and seasonal ingredients. 

His new Skillet Pumpkin sauce was featured in October’s Autumn Harvest box- it’s a versatile sauce that can be used as a base for many recipes, spread onto all things grilled or used simply in place of ketchup on just about anything.

I received this jar of Pumpkin Sauce in my October Knoshbox.

What I Think:

For the purposes of this review, I tried this pumpkin sauce two ways:  First, I spooned some over a pork chop, and then I tried some right off the spoon.

This tastes a little less like pumpkin and a bit more like well-seasoned, vinegar-y brown sugar sauce.  That’s not to say that I don’t like it, it’s actually quite tasty … it’s just a little different than I expected it to be.  And I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting – I guess I expected more of a pumpkin-y taste … like pumpkin puree.  Here, I can taste the pumpkin, but, it seems to be competing with the vinegar and spices.

It is a tasty sauce, though, and it goes spectacularly well with pork chops.  I suspect it would be equally as a condiment with turkey (I think I might try cooking down some cranberries and blend them to a puree, and mixing the cranberries with this pumpkin sauce for an alternative to my usual cranberry relish that I make every year)

My Final Thoughts:

I am REALLY glad that I got the opportunity to try this pumpkin sauce from Skillet.  I’ve been coveting it for a while now, contemplating an order, and while I don’t think that this is something I will reorder (I might, though), I am glad that my curiosity has been satiated by Knoshbox (thanks!!!)  Having this in October’s Knoshbox made the box worthwhile for me.  (Yes, I realize that the stuff doesn’t cost as much as the Knoshbox, but did you forget?  I also got Bacon Peanut Brittles in my box too)

Product Description:

Everyone knows the best piece in a batch of brownies is the crispy corner. With Brownie Brittle, every bite is a corner with silky smooth chocolate chips! Crunchy, wafer-like texture and deep chocolate flavor, this brittle is a little taste of heaven.

I received a pouch of this Brownie Brittle in my October Goodies Box.

Tea Suggestion:

Because these are very crunchy and cookie-like, I recommend choosing a tea that you’d drink with crispy cookies, like maybe a dessert tea!  Since these are really chocolate-y on their own, I thought that a chocolate tea might be a tad too much (although there really is no such thing as too much chocolate, is there?) so I decided to go with a coconut tea!  This Coconut Dream from New Mexico Tea Company is one of my favorites, and combining the chocolate brownie brittle with the coconut tea is quite indulgent!

What I Think:

Is it any surprise that I love brownies?  Hello?  I’m a chocoholic!

And when I bake a batch of brownies, my favorite parts are the edges.  I love the tender, chewy, fudge-y flavor of the brownie, but I like it even better as it gets toward that slightly dry, crispy edge.  When  I bake brownies, it doesn’t get too crispy or crunchy, there’s just a little bit of buttery caramelization there, and it’s heavenly!

So when I read the package to this, suggesting that with this Brownie Brittle there is no fighting over the corner piece … I thought, Oh!  Awesome!  That slightly crisp edge!  YUM!

But, this is a bit MORE than crispy.  It’s crunchier than any brownie edge that I’ve ever produced.  I usually go for the slightly underbaked brownie so that it retains some of that fudge-y texture once it’s cooled.  But this tastes as though the brownie were overcooked!  Not burned, exactly, but certainly left in the oven too long.  It’s dry, absolutely non-fudge-y, totally un-chewy, crisp as a cracker and thin as one too.

I like it alright as it is chocolate, but unfortunately, that it it’s only redeeming quality.  The chocolate.  I think that the concept of offering all the crunchy edges of the brownie is a good one, but, it just doesn’t work out with this product.

My Final Thoughts: 

As the only thing that’s really good about this is that it’s chocolate, it is certainly not something I’ll be buying again.  I think I might like them better if they were a little thicker (like maybe a chunky biscotti) or if it were a little less crisp, with some true brownie-esque qualities to it.  As it is, it sort of feels like I’m eating a burnt brownie without it actually being burnt.  That part is good, of course, but, I find myself wanting more brownie than brittle.

Picture from Knoshbox. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

These bars are wheat-free, all-natural and made with local apples from Bishops Orchard in Guilford, Connecticut. The flavors and aromas of the bars will bring back memories of apple picking in the orchard and drinking warm cinnamon apple cider on a cool autumn night.

They’re made with: organic rolled oats, Connecticut wildflower honey, organic oat bran, organic sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, golden raisins, cranberries, canola oil, natural vanilla, organic lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, malt syrup, cardamom, sea salt and ginger.

I received this bar in my October Knoshbox, and they can be purchased on the Knoshbox website for a limited time.

Tea Suggestion:

This granola bar has a lot of flavor on its own, so I didn’t want to choose something that might have a competitive flavor profile.  I chose this High Country black tea blend from Trail Lodge Tea, and it was an ideal choice.  The richness of the tea complimented the sweet, toasty flavors of the granola bar, and the earthy tones of the bar highlighted the tea’s earthier qualities.

What I Think:

When it come to granola bars, I typically prefer the softer variety over the crunchy.  This granola bar seems to fall somewhere in between the two … it’s not as hard as the commercially produced granola bars that you’ll readily find in the grocery stores, it isn’t pressed the way those bars seem to be.  You know what I’m talking about right?  It seems like the ingredients for those granola bars are compacted into a solid, brick-like form that is almost as hard as a brick.   That’s not the case with these bars, You can see all the ingredients, and they don’t appear to be quite as SMOOSHED together as the brick granola bars, but these DO have a certain toothy crunch to them that makes them similar to the crunchy granola bars.

But, what makes them crunchy are the chunks of nuts (I can taste the almonds and especially the pecans!  YUM!) and the toasted oats and sunflower seeds.  The texture is brought on naturally, not by over-processing.

My Final Thoughts:

I love that I can identify each ingredient that is listed in the above list.  I can taste the honey, and the cranberries and each of the spices too!  It’s really a warm and delicious tasting bar – definitely very “Harvest-y” … a perfect granola bar for this time of year (and for the Autumn Harvest themed Knoshbox!)  While I do generally prefer my granola bars to be slightly softer, I like that the crunchiness of this bar comes from the toasted textures of the ingredients.

Overall, this is an enjoyable, hunger-satiating granola bar … and one that I enjoyed enough that I might purchase it again.

When I found this restaurant on Living Social, I was quick to purchase the voucher.  I think I was most enchanted by the name.  I consider myself to be somewhat eccentric or odd (my family just calls me “weird”), and I like it when some place embraces their uniqueness.  So, I was very intrigued by the name, not to mention by the fact that Eclectic Kitchen boasts a “Local – Seasonal – Comfort Food” type of menu.

The #2 Scramble

Location:  4936 NE Fremont Street, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the #2 Scramble (Bacon, Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, Sun Dried Tomato & Gorgonzola – $8.50) while my husband ordered the “Big Breakfast ($9.50)

What I Think:

The atmosphere at Eclectic Kitchen is a very homey one, in fact, it appears that it plays “home away from home” to a child or children on a regular basis with a corner set up with toys and the artwork on the walls appearing to be created by a young artist.  The walls are painted a bright, cheerful yellow, and maybe it was just me and my interpretation and consideration of the name of the establishment, but it felt very eclectic.

The water and coffee self-service station

I was kind of surprised by their self-service water and coffee station.   I don’t think I’ve been in a restaurant that has no real drink service … one either served themselves water or coffee, or grabbed a cold soda from the refrigerator located next to the cash register.  The only drinks that appeared to be “served” were fancy, latte style coffees or teas.

I didn’t let this lack of drink service dampen my excitement for this restaurant though, I didn’t mind getting my own water, as that is what we wanted to drink anyway.  I still looked forward to some local comfort food.

Unfortunately, much of the meal was somewhat disappointing.

My husband’s poached eggs were woefully overcooked (he likes a runny yoke, and this one looked almost fully congealed), the potatoes that were on both our plates were about barely warm, and my husband mentioned that his second piece of french toast had an almost meat-like taste to it that he found unpleasant.

In fact, the only bit of food that had any redeeming quality at all as far as my husband was concerned was the biscuits which were really good.

The Big Breakfast

My experience at the Eclectic Kitchen was a little better than my husband’s.  I, too, really enjoyed the biscuits, and especially tasty was the biscuits and gravy which came with my husband’s big breakfast platter.  I would have been happier, I think, had I ordered just a platter of biscuits and gravy.  The biscuits are tender, flaky and buttery.  Like something gramma would have made.  And the gravy was rich and thick and had a certain spiciness to it.  These biscuits were indeed something I’d call “comfort food.”

My scramble was alright, but it wasn’t anything I’d rush back to the establishment to eat again.  The eggs were cooked well enough, and I enjoyed the filling.  But, it wasn’t exceptional or really very memorable in any way.  It was just “OK” – not great, but not bad either.  I did enjoy the bacon, which my husband offered me off his plate because it was a little overcooked for his taste (I like my bacon crispy and he likes it a bit on the chewy side).

The potatoes were not really all that enjoyable, although they did have promise.  They had a nice amount of spice to them, but I think they would have been better if they were served at a warmer temperature and maybe if they had some crispy edges to them.  They were very tender, and cooked through, but, they tasted as though they were prepared earlier in the morning, and put on a steam table or something to keep warm, and the steam table wasn’t turned to the right temperature … resulting in lukewarm potatoes.

My Final Thoughts:

Unfortunately, with the biscuits being the only thing worth talking about, this is a place I won’t return to again.