Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lost in Translation

4 Mexican Snacks

Nick facilitated (via his recent trip to Mexico) a multilingual snack tasting. From left to right:


Tostachos: "Asi me gusta." "15% + Gratis." "No te quedes en las formas, llega hasta el fondo...El Sabor" -- Cheddar cheesy tortilla chips with just a touch of cardboard and a tiny spark of spice.

Chili-Lime Nuts

Sabritas KKWates Enchilados con Limón: "Son esos pequeños momentos en tu vida los que hacen La Gran Diferencia!" -- Very sour, sharp lime flavored peanuts dusted with chili powder, reminding me of my favorite treat I found on my own trip to Puerto Vallarta, which was a microwaveable package of chili-lime popcorn. These nuts would probably be too much for some people, as the lime's industrial strength (and quite likely artificial) but I dig 'em.

Little Big Planet?

Vuala Minis: "Croissants con Relleno Cremoso Sabor Chocolate" -- It was a little creepy to open what looks like a bag of chips and find mini croissants. They felt moist, rather than flaky, and smelled like chocolate mini-donuts from a gas station (the inferior kind with the yellow insides). The texture was definitely off, as the "croissant" was more dense and moist than light and dry, but the chocolate cream inside tasted fine.

Potato Chips

Papas Pa-Fut Sabor Cañonazo -- "La Selección Nacional ya suma más de 85 años de historia." -- These looked like regular, unflavored potato chips, but tasted far spicier and madder. Both sour and bitter, there was still a strong potato flavor coming through, as well as abundant saltiness.

All in all, an intriguing voyage of flavors. The nuts were my favorite, but something about the balls-to-the-wall nastiness of the Papas Pa-Fut appealed to me (even though they ultimately were a little much).

Thanks, Nick!

It was a day of very few meals.

King of Nachos
(photo -- and nachos -- by Dan)

It was a day of nachos with cherry tomatoes and avocado.

Chocolate Chip Surprise

It was a day of chewy, soft, chocolate chip cookies (the King Arthur Flour recipe is superior and if anyone wants it I will post it here) made with peanut butter chips in addition to the chocolate ones.

It was a day in which I went to bed without dinner -- but I did so without complaint.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

There's a best time for everything.

Not only was I was inducted into the office's Chick-fil-A club on Friday with an inaugural trip to its NYC location, but it was actually my first Chick-fil-A experience ever in my life.

I had delicious waffle fries (as advised by KRF) and the BEST chicken sandwich (fast food or restaurant) I have ever had in my entire life (despite its simplicity). I also tried one of Dave's chicken nuggets, which are made from the same moist, amazing, flavorful fried chicken. I am afraid to say too much about how good the chicken was, for fear I will dilute the experience with overabundance of description.

But I do want to climb a mountain, spin around like Maria in The Sound of Music with a C-f-A sandwich in each hand, and then eat them.

The Mysterious Case of the Appearing Chocolates.


Appearing Chocolates

A mysterious bag of Mieszko chocolates appeared at work. My only clue? The second language on the wrappers appeared to be Polish.

How they disappeared, however, is no mystery, I took care of three of them myself.

I made the mistake of biting the espresso chocolate in half, only to find that it had a very liquid espresso liqueur center (which promptly spilled down my front). But the flavor was as advertised -- chocolate and espresso is not a bad combination. And I, wily snacker that I am, was eating my coffee chocolates in my bathrobe, as befits a lazy Saturday morning, so no clothes were stained past repair.

I was less fond of the Coffee and Cream chocolate. The filling was creamier but the flavor muddy. Toffino smelled more promising, but was sickly sweet and had a stringent, nail polish flavor that made me cough and choke. Bleah.

I never thought I'd say this, but, "More espresso, please."

To Beacon and Back

Cut Paper show 1

We went up to Beacon to see the cut paper show that Mike Perry curated. I had a little snack on the train.

Train to Beacon

Junior Mints are a favorite of mine. Who needs to go senior when junior's this good?

I also tried Sync, a new flavor of Vitamin Water. This brand continues to deliver Kool-Aid for grown-ups and, when I'm in the mood for that sort of thing, the kinds I like are Defense, Sync, Balance, Orange-Orange, and the Multi-V Lemonade.

Cut Paper show 3

Here's something I like more than Vitamin Water: the piece Dan made for Mike's show.

The gallery is next door to a small Asian grocery, from which I've made it a tradition to pick up a couple of items each visit (white pepper, fermented mustard greens, black poppy seeds, tamarind candy, etc.). This time I picked up a snack for the train ride home -- a chewy and crunchy mass of peanuts and rice (with sesame, coconut cream, and sugar) called a Crispy Rice Cookie (Kra-ya-sart).

Nuts 4 Nuts

As I understand it from the internet, Krayasart is a treat traditionally eaten during the Sart Thai festival, and is presented to monks (and others) as a sign of respect, but it's also nice on a train to NYC in March -- even if it's being eaten by people ignorant of its history.

Photo Essay: Spring's Newborn Animals Vernal Equinox Potluck

My Spring Plate

On my plate: figs, blackberries, Mike's standout tabbouleh (my favorite dish of the night), onion-poppyseed bread, parsnips and carrots, salad, prosciutto, mozzarella.

Well-lit salad
(photo by Dan)

Nuts 2 Nuts



Table 2

Altar 1

Ostara Altar

Early spread

Dan and I made a vegan mushroom pate with Enoki and Shitake mushrooms. We adapted this recipe by using 4 x the garlic called for. The result was delicious, but surprisingly sweet. I might add red pepper flakes next time.

Hot Chicks

Roasted chickpeas

Easy, easy easy. Yum, yum, yum.

Roasted Chickpeas can be spiced however you like them. I like curry powder and garlic, myself. Rinse, spice, roast until crispy.

Houseguests and Cupcakes: still sweet after 4 days.

Cupcakes from Laura

One of the things that kept me from blogging this week was the fact that our friend Laura was visiting from Chicago and staying with us. There was a lot of eating and talking, but little tip-tap-typing on the computer.

Laura bravely trekked in some of the most delightful cupcakes from Taste of Heaven in Andersonville to share with us. They got a little damaged in the hand-off, but remained delicious and moist. The frosting was superior -- not greasy or heavy as some cupcake icing is. I know little about the ranking of cupcakes in the Chicago area, and haven't had the pleasure of trying Taste of Heaven's competitors' c.cakes, but these were terrific.

Out of the sampler of six (and over the course of a couple of days), I had the whole Whoopie Pie cupcake (my fave), half a Vanilla-Vanilla (my least favorite, but that was after a few days of refrigeration), half a Hazelnut cupcake, a bite of Malted Milk Ball, and a taste of orange-creamsicle-tasting icing that remained in the carton.

Cupcakes and friends are sweet.

Surgeon General's Warning

(photo by Dan)

"Quit cigs and start the smarts."

Will work for pie

Cherry Pie

You don't have to give me a cute-and-small-and-delicious cherry pie as a thank you for babysitting your child if she (or he) is this adorable (and cute and small and delicious):

Cat toy; beach

But I'm also not inclined to turn down a gift from The Blue Stove.

So if you do happen to have an extra mini pie from said establishment lying around and you happen to want to give it to the babysitter (who happens to be me), you probably won't have to insist.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I am dodgy and so were these.

White out
(photo by Dan)

I admit it. I've been a dodgy, barely-there, ghost of a blogger these past few weeks. As has been pointed out to me, I have a duty to my readers that has gone unfulfilled. So this weekend I'll be trying to catch up with many of the things I've been eating and taking photographs of since I last posted.

Dodgy Dodgers

Let's start with these queer biscuits. Jammie Dodgers were a birthday gift from Dan -- and British to boot.

What does the package claim? "Delicious stretchy jam splodged [ed: !] at the heart of 2 yummy shortcake biscuits."

What would my description be? "Two shortbread cookies sandwich a red jam that is meant to be raspberry. The cookies are slightly dry. The jam is terribly hard and chewy. The result is unsettling."

My description is a little too long and not very lyrical. But at least it doesn't use the word "splodged."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another thing goes my way.

Donut Alert!

Though I am still fighting a general malaise that I don't want to turn into a cold, this beauty helped perk me up. I haven't been able to think of a better start to this particular workday than being greeted by a pile of cinnamon sugar apple cider donuts from the Union Square farmers' market. Thanks, D!

Not too sick to snack.

A lemon birthday

I missed D.M.'s birthday celebration because I felt like I had to spend an evening at home fighting off a potential cold, but Dan brought me a piece of the cake at the end of the night. Miss Molly, did you make this?

Buttery, bright, light, sweet, tender lemon cake? I feel better already.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Freebies at work

Shock and Brownie

Someone gave Dave a free Triple Mocha Shock Coffee drink on the street. I'm the guinea pig. It tastes like (in this order) coffee + chocolate + dirt + licorice + poppy seeds crossing my tongue. Three of those flavors were a shock, so perhaps it should have been Triple Shock, not Triple Mocha. I also disagree with this drink's slogan, "Sleep is overrated." No it is not.

Free snacks abound! I got a heads-up that Ethan would be bringing in leftover brownies from his fiance's bachelorette party. Rich, dense, and tasty. Also, congratulations on the impending marriage, E!

Who Blahblahs the Blahblah?

Who Reads the Watchmen?

[no photos of food here. It was dark!]

Snack the Movies: Watchmen.

  • Reverence in regards to source material
  • Attention to detail
  • Most costumes
  • Casting of Rorschach, Nite Owl and The Comedian (and most incidental characters)
  • Gummi Bears

Didn't Work:
  • Soundtrack
  • Overly-salty popcorn
  • Casting of women (especially new Silk Spectre)
  • Extra-heavy makeup effects (particulary "old age" and "Nixon")
  • My drinking from a giant beverage during a movie this long while sitting three people in from the aisle
  • Awkward sex scenes and 3/4 of the nudity
  • Overlong conclusion and denoument
  • General heavy-handedness
  • Mars (boring, just like in the comic)
  • Veidt's accent (which came and went)

  • Entertaining
  • Flawed
  • Not as bad as I feared it would be
  • I should never get more than a small popcorn and drink
  • Rorschach was great

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: Lines for a box of Dark Chocolate Cream-Nut Clusters

Cream Nut Box

Cream Nut Clusters

Chocolate is wrapped in a melting fist,
Peanut butter lies thickly inside.
And chocolate breaks like a delicate shell;
And peanut butter tries to find the light.
But chocolate is heavy, heavy around the crunch
Of peanuts too shy to taste more than their sound.

Note: I thought these were quite good but that they should be a little less chocolatey. Dan felt they had the perfect ratio of creaminess to crunchiness. We could both be right. Thanks, Angela!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A good gallery opening includes:

(photo by Dan)

  • Inspiring Art (in this case by Mike Perry).
  • Cheetos.
  • Root Beer Barrels (or other hard candy).

Thank you, Giant Robot and Mr. Perry!

p.s. to Ryan McGinness and Deitch Projects -- I liked your show, too, but Cheetos would have enhanced the evening. Mmmm...Cheetos by black light.

Pancake Break!


One day only! Leftover pancakes! Also blueberries! To combine or eat separately, as we choose!

Choose wisely!

p.s. if you take the time to separate your eggs when making pancake batter, whip the whites to stiff peaks, and then fold the whites into the otherwise-finished batter containing the rest of the ingredients (including, in my case, the beaten egg yolks, milk, and dry ingredients), your pancakes will be lighter and fluffier. It's worth it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Oh, Fudge.

Fudge remains

Only a couple of things remain from the cookie party in December. Both are in the freezer so that their longevity will be extended. One is a Gladware container of Hot Buttered Rum mix (ice cream, butter, sugar, and spices). The other is a plastic bag containing the aluminum-foil-wrapped remaining wedge of chocolate peanut butter fudge, or Double Decker Marbled Meltaway Fudge, which Steph helped make one pleasant evening.

A chunk of fudge makes a fine snack, whether frozen or defrosted. I have a tendency to eat a 2" x 1" piece further into the remainder than is advisable.

Slamming and Jamming

Birthday Chai

To begin with:

Harvest Herb Teas' Zhena's Gypsy Tea Caffiene-Free Chocolate Chai is good -- less sweet than hot chocolate, but obviously more chocolatey than your basic chai mix. Angela sent this canister in a box of birthday snacks and goodies a few weeks ago. I made a mugful last night in order to facilitate a Slam-Off between Tim Tams (caramel) and Penguins, which are apparently the biscuit on which Tim Tams were based.


I've referenced the Tim Tam Slam several times on this site. I'd heard, too, that there were British cookies with which one could approximate the Tim Tam Slam experience -- that is, the experience of sucking a hot beverage through the graham layer of a chocolate-coated cookie, melting the cookie from the middle out before popping it quickly into one's mouth to chew, savor, and swallow.

I've also been told that Tim Tams' recent appearance at US Target Stores, cross-branded in this country with Pepperidge Farm, was the first time that Tim Tams have been widely available in the United States. As excited as I was to find and purchase some for myself, my supply is now running low and there is no Target nearby. As my stores dwindle, I have been in search of a reasonable substitution for future Slams. And if it turns out that the "reasonable substitution" is actually the original cookie (and that the Tim Tam is the lesser knock-off), I can certainly handle that.

P P P Penguin

So, enters the Penguin into my pantry:

When Dan shopped a British imports store in NYC for Tim-Tam-like birthday presents for little old me, neither of us had heard of the Penguin. But he was told by the shop-keep that McVities' Penguins were just what I'd been looking for -- a chocolate-covered graham cookie that would behave like a Tim Tam in a Slamming situation. So Dan purchased a pack of nine for us to try. That package delighted me on my birthday, as it boldly encouraged me to "P P P Pick Up a Penguin" right on the overwrap.

How could I say no?

Moreover, how could I not take this opportunity to Slam both the Penguin and the Tim Tam, so as to compare?

A battle
(Penguins are on the right; Tim Tams with caramel are on the left)

To be fair I really should have compared Penguins to original Tim Tams (without the caramel layer), but I have so far been unable to find original Tim Tams for purchase in NYC. I personally feel that the caramel Tim Tams had a superior flavor to the un-caramel Penguins, but Penguins are quite excellent in their own right. I would eat either one without distress. Penguins are thinner and crisper, while this variety of Tim Tam is fat and richer, but both are slammable.

Club bar

What's this? A late entry into the battle?

Dan also bought me a package of British Jacob's Club Orange biscuits for this Birthday round. These I Slammed with green tea, as I feared Chocolate Chai might not be the correct flavor to pair with the orangey Club cookies. My first Club Slam transmitted the tea better than the Penguin bar. In fact, its straw-like efficiency may have outpaced the Tim Tam, too. The conclusion of the Club Slam wasn't as tidy, though. Clubs are longer and thinner than either of the other two cookie varieties, so I had to ingest it in two bites (rather than shoving the whole thing in my mouth as it melted, as is traditionally done). However, it did not seem to sog into mush as quickly as the Penguins or T.T.s. The orange+chocolate flavor of the Clubs was another bonus, as I am quite fond of these two tastes together, but the Tim Tam with caramel remains a superior cookie.

In conclusion:

All three are tasty. All three suck (in the right way) when you Slam. All three are well-suited to be birthday gifts for your loved ones. Club Kids, Penguin Peoples, and Tim Tam Fans -- join hands and live as one.

The first thing we do, let's eat all the ice cream.


Maddeningly, the power in our apartment (NOT the whole building; just our apartment) keeps going out. My first response to any sort of blackout - personal or citywide - is to consider whether there is ice cream in the freezer that needs to be eaten. I got lucky today. There was approximately one portion of Turkey Hill Vanilla & Chocolate (purchased for the making of birthday brownie sundaes) that needed desperately to be consumed.

I saved the day on this one.

Spring is Sprung?


I am sure that we're still in for another round or two of cold weather before Spring really takes hold of the city, but I took advantage of this weekend's beautiful, mild weather to stroll my neighborhood with friends.

On our way back from the park, I stopped at Caffe Capri for "NYC's Best Iced Coffee!" It is, indeed, delicious (and I don't even particularly like coffee unless a non-literal ton of sugar and milk is involved). A small is $2.50, which seems reasonable, and Caffe Capri smells like a really nice grandma's house. A woman who might be someone's really nice grandma works behind the counter, alongside a man I suspect is her husband (and someone's really nice grandpa?). They've got a good thing going on.

Further down Graham Avenue, I bought the last chocolate whoopie pie on display at Variety Cafe. It was much nicer than the whoopie pies that are sold at Whole Foods. The outsides tasted like good chocolate cake (but were firmer). The frosting layer in the middle was not greasy, heavy, nor too sweet.

Also, good news! Ralph's (which has been closed all winter) is open for business!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My New Job: Cookie Inspector

Test Cookie

The fact that I got to try a cookie yesterday and fill out a survey about that cookie and my experience of it had little to do with this site or my imaginary prowess as a food-judger. The person who made this cookie doesn't even know me -- nor I, her -- though the person who gave me the cookie and survey (to eat and complete, respectively) does know of Snackreligous and my love of all things Cookie (love, that is, as long as raisins are not involved).

I have not received permission to blog the details of this cookie, so I won't share its flavor or texture profile with you. Far be it from me to ruin someone's business plan! Let's just say that it was good. And if there is anyone else out there who wants me to try his or her homemade baked goods and fill out a survey or share verbal/emailed comments (I always strive for the most constructive of criticism), contact me! My reward is clear - the samples! Oh, and the greater good, of course.

Fruit Salad Upset

Fruit Salad Outside

Fruit Salad Inside

Fruit Salad does not win in a competition against Starburst Fruit Chews. Frankly, they win in no subcategory of the competition, either.

Mouthfeel: Starburst are chewier, while Fruit Salad are hard and scratchy for a long time before melting down.

Visual Presentation: Fruit Salads in this package were all the same color, a mottled yellow and pink. Starburst come in a variety of smooth, classy colors.

Flavor: Fruit Salads were all the same unidentifiable flavor. Starburst have variety, even if not all of the flavors are entirely distinct. Also, Fruit Salad bites have a slightly plastic taste to them.

HOWEVER, Fruit Salads were a birthday present and I am happy to have tried them and eaten them all. They weren't bad. They just paled in comparison.

The Silence of the Rats

Best Doughnut

Blueberry cake doughnuts have gotten me through some rough days. Let's just say yesterday was a good day for one.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hey, Walkers! Yeah, you in the yellow bag!

Walkers Marmite crisps were a birthday present from Dan. There's not much aroma to these chips. They smell like a basic, unflavored chip -- with maybe a hint of yeast -- only more so.

The taste is much stronger, but not instantly unpleasant. I've never had marmite, so I'm a bit of a loss to describe this flavor. There was an edge of nastiness at the back of my throat while I ate them, but it never quite coalesced into a bad taste.

I think if I hadn't heard that marmite is gross (such is what I've heard), I might have found these puzzling but fair. But marmite's reputation among its detractors (who -- around me, at least -- seem to number more than its fans) lent an air of menace to the experience.

It's almost Easter, Meester!

Outside (Easter)

Actually, Easter's over a month away. But here are two of my top picks for Easter Candy 2009:

1. I love a Cadbury Creme Egg. Every year I hope to find the originals on the cheap in after- holiday sales. It turns out that the orange chocolate version is also a winner. There was a little juice or syrup pooled in the bottom of mine. Is this typical?

2. The Reeses Peanut Butter Egg is another classic I can eat without regrets. It's like a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, but bigger and with more emphasis on the peanut butter filling (my favorite part). I think it might be better than the cup for those of us who value the peanut-butter insides over the chocolate outsides of pb and c candy permutations.

Inside (Easter)

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