Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Review: Ruby Chocolate - ChocoLove Xoxo

For the last three years or so, I have been hearing about this new, fourth type of chocolate – ruby. The premise is that this chocolate appears light pink, with no added coloring whatsoever. Naturally as a person who dislikes fruit of all varieties, it’s more mystery than anything that piqued my interest. Traditional chocolate is so amazing and it’s hard for me to imagine that the world needed another version but for the sake of the blog, I was on the hunt.


Originally, ruby chocolate was limited in supply, hard to locate and expensive to buy. Fast forward to today and there’s a ruby chocolate Kit Kat, Hagaan Dazs ice cream bars coated in this stuff, etc, etc. Last week, we received an Amazon & Whole Foods advertisement featuring a sale of Chocolove chocolate with a picture of the ruby variety, so it was all too perfect a few days later when we found ourselves driving right by.


Chocolove chocolate is usually very good, so I could barely wait to get back to the car before cracking the bar opening and giving it a try. I’m not sure why I was so surprised when I finally unwrapped it by how startling the ruby color was, but it looked exactly like strawberry yogurt. Having been apprehensive by the mention of berry notes on the packaging and from anything that I’d ever read previously, laying my eyes on this was not a relief.


The ingredients are as advertised: sugar, cocoa butter, milk, cocoa liquor, soy lecithin, citric acid and vanilla. Zero mention of food coloring. Even several days later, my mind is blown. And the taste? Equally as hard to understand as I ate it. The texture reminded me of white chocolate – waxy more than crumbly, light in texture and in flavor. What was unmistakable was the tartness. While the berry flavor was mild, if at all present for me, the aftertaste had a bite to it that reminded me of unflavored yogurt in the sourness.


I only bought one bar and I split it up into thirds to share the novelty with my sister and parents, so that lets you know about how much I enjoyed this. That being said, I recommend trying this for the first time because it’s so amazingly different from any notion of chocolate that ever existed prior. My secondary recommendation is that this be re-named something besides chocolate. Who says you can't reinvent the wheel?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Review: McDonald's Snickerdoodle McFlurry


For some reason, my FiancĂ© and I have picked up the most amazing habit, one of running to McDonald’s for ice cream when we’re in need of a good dessert. Back in college when I did Weight Watchers, the hot fudge sundae was a reasonable splurge – clocking in at less than 400 calories while being insanely delicious and I think that’s when the addiction truly started. Our closest McDonald is in Greenwich and like everything else in that town, it’s luxury through and through. 


When you walk inside you can order from the computerized screens avoiding all human interaction and all of the seating is brand new. The exterior looks like something you’d see on HGTV. None of this sways us to swing by more than we otherwise would, but it certainly makes the experience feel a little more upscale and warranted.

On a Friday night after a restaurant reserved for special occasions, we decided to save ourselves the $16 on what would likely be an inferior dessert and to go to the Golden Arches. We both love a good McFlurry and I had read a few months back that there would be a limited time Snickerdoodle variety.

To be honest, I had no idea what a Snickerdoodle was besides a type of cookie that I’ve never looked at twice. There’s no chocolate or peanut butter in it and I always think it sounds very vanilla, but McDonald’s rarely has limited time McFlurry flavors so to avoid a lifetime of regret I decided to go for it.


Even after eating this, I had to google what Snickerdoodle is. McDonald’s describes this as creamy vanilla soft serve with snickerdoodle topping mixed throughout – so I guess that is a “bring your own understanding” type of description. In digging deeper, it has pieces of sugar cookies, cinnamon and white chocolate pieces in the mix.

I have a very new relationship with white chocolate, having only started to like it in the last year or two but I can tell you upfront this was the best part of the entire thing. The chips added a chewy element which balanced out the mixture a bit and added some sweetness. The cinnamon and cookie mix made the topping seem like a powder in each spoonful and I found the taste to be reminiscent of a zesty holiday candle. The cookies themselves were very dry and sharp while eating.

Beyond scratching some belated holiday curiosity, I can’t recommend this Mcflurry knowing there are m&m’s and hot fudge on offer. It’s possible that McDonald’s did a disservice to snickerdoodle lovers and I’ve been misled to think they’re awful, but I can tell you that I’ll never pick up a snickerdoodle cookie again if it can be avoided. And if you’re wondering, yes I still ate the entire thing.


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Chutni Biryani & Noodle Bar, Stamford, CT


For no specific reason whatsoever, I have probably had Indian food less than 10 times in my entire life, so it’s really an exciting pleasure to be able to write this review. It’s strange, because I actually really do enjoy this particular cuisine, but it’s only on a very rare occasion do I find myself in the position to have it. Even when I am picking where to eat, the Indian restaurants I seem to frequent are so light on vegetables and so heavy on the breads and rice that it just seems like an unlikely contender.

Now you can say what you want about Stamford, but there really are so many interesting lunch options. When my coworker suggested Chutni Biryani & Noodle Bar I was intrigued for having walked by it countless times. As explained to me, this restaurant is eclectic in their menu, with Indian, Indo-Chinese and ramen options so it definitely had me wondering.

Walking into the space, I immediately liked it. The inside is clean, bright and quiet. I went for lunch on a Thursday and it started to fill up towards the end of my meal, another good sign. The service was extremely prompt and nice, even being coy in explaining that the medium heat items may be very hot for some.

It was true that the menu had all three cuisines and between the variety of options and my lack of knowledge surrounding certain sauces and dishes, I just stuck with my favorite – chicken korma. For those readers with same level of knowledge surrounding Indian cuisine as I generally have, korma is a saffron cashew curry and I often find the creaminess of the sauce to be velvety with incredible depth from the spices used.


In ordering, we were asked if we wanted the lunch special and we both said yes. With that, we were able to each pick our preferred type of naan bread and there were more than a handful of options. To get my coworkers to stay away from me this afternoon, I went with the garlic naan and boy was I glad that I did. This bread came out, draped in butter, garlic and herbs and it was as hot and fresh as one could ever hope for. The naan was thin and heavenly. I imagine you have to eat it there in person for the full effect, but I would go back there just for the bread if nothing else.


When my meal came out, this korma was quite a bit more yellow in color than any other korma that I’ve ever had which made sense when I realized that the curry taste was far stronger in this dish than I usually expect. The other thing to note was that the chicken in my dish was all dark meat, with no vegetables to be found and as I am not a rice eater – of which they generously gave us an incredible amount, it wasn’t the perfect lunch order for me.


It should be mentioned that the entire heaping portion only cost $10.99 so the value was quite good. That said, I’d like to go back and order from the regular menu to try something else, because the majority of this restaurant experience was quite good and I wonder if the regular meals, which are about double in price have better quality meat or fresh vegetables.

Chutni Biryani & Noodle Bar
211 Main St, Stamford, CT 06901

Monday, January 6, 2020

Kit Kat French Toast: Taco Daddy, Stamford, CT


I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been drooling over Taco Daddy’s Social Media since they opened in Stamford a few months back. It’s like some genius engineered both a drink and food menu which could make even the most Instagram adverse person pick up their phone and create a Foodie Insta to capture their TD meal. After tagging anyone who I thought might come with me in their posted food pics, I was all too delighted to go on a rainy Saturday in January.

It should be mentioned that starting January 01st, I decided that I would eat less sugar and avoid alcohol more often to get my nutrition back on track. December found a good reason to have cocktails and dessert on a near daily basis, so it was time to reign it in. Funny for me that the only Saturday I had free for brunch this month was on January 4th, so it wasn’t exactly a long run towards a clean diet that I had originally planned for but such is life.

Taco Daddy is on Open Table, so it was all too easy to make a resevation for 4 people at 1130AM. When we arrived, I was surprised to learn that 1130AM is the minute they open – but the staff was as friendly as could be. This restaurant took over where Harlan Social used to be in Stamford, a place where we had visited several times in the past so it was a shock to see that they had closed and this was the replacement but it looked much the same, if not a bit more casual.

Our server was perfectly happy to talk us through the cocktail menu – and that was a good thing based on how cool and creative the menu was. The names of the drinks were so cool that I was tempted to order ones that had ingredients that I don’t care for just to say “I’ll have the Missed My Flight”, etc. Unsure of my food order, I went with the prosecco – but the other three people at brunch were far more adventurous. You can see from the picture that the glassware was as ecclectic as the rest of the experience. The Gin and Tonic is purple and was poured with the kind of heavy hand you want when it’s early morning.


When we arrived, there were a few complications with the menus we received as some copies had many food items and later versions giving to us had a much smaller selection but I wanted one thing and was not too shy to ask. Kit Kat French Toast; that’s right. I wouldn’t even list Kit Kats on my top 10 favorite chocolate desserts, but can you imagine? French toast, which is already good – draped unashamedly in melting chocolate candies? The description mentioned that the salted caramel cream was also a part of the dish, also not necessarily my favorite thing but since I had waited so long to get into this place and all of their photos of this had blown my mind, I was not planning to leave with any regrets.

When my breakfast came out, I was surprised to see that the portion was on the smaller side as pictured above. I’m not sure what the serving size should be for such a calorie bomb, but two pieces at first sight left me wanting. It was an interesting mix really – with the french toast being very good, but the cream which was quite solid and not cold left me a little put off. Bites with the candy in them were good, because sugar, sugar, sugar. The addition of the maple syrup cut the tartness of whatever was in the cream to make it have such a bite. In the end, I didn’t even finish the dish – because I wasn’t enjoying it after the first few initial bites.

I had a bite of my fiance’s tacos and they were good, if not a little heavy in the masa taste of the shell – but the real MVP of this restaurant was was incredible game selection. When we were done eating, we played mini golf, mini bowling, Rock ‘em Sock ‘em robots, and Jenga. This place was cool and the food was really instagram friendly, but not exceptional in actual taste. That said, there’s a cheeseburger burrito which has my interest and could get me back there for another visit.


Taco Daddy Stamford: 121 Towne St Suite 2, Stamford, CT 06902

Monday, October 28, 2019

Review: Kimble’s Georgia grown “Ole School Corn Flake Chewy”

On a night where we had gotten together to bake homemade chocolate chips peanut butter cookies much to my delight, my Sister pulled out a dessert from her purse unlike any that I had ever seen before. While on a trip to West Virginia, she and my BRO bought me a Kimble’s Georgia grown “Ole School Corn Flake Chewy”. The name reminded me of all of the Olde English malt liquor that I grew up on, so I already knew it would be a hit.


At first glance, I thought I had this all figured out – eating it with my eyes and suspecting it to be similar to a basic Rice Krispy, the only difference being that this was made with corn flakes. As I am always excited to try a new regional delight, you can imagine my increased interest when reading that this was made with creamy peanut butter. I’ve never even had cereal and peanut butter at the same time, but peanut butter makes everything better so onto the review we go.


The nutrition states that there should be 2.5 servings in the package, but the length and width makes that seem nearly impossible; however in lifting the package, the sheer heft of the chewy was notable and I suspect it’s the density that makes splitting up the square a consideration. At first bite, I was impressed at how soft and pliable the cornflakes were. Not feeling or tasting much marshmallow, the primary flavor was sweetened peanut butter. Even being so moist, I was surprised that the cornflakes were in no way soggy.


To be fair, I can’t remember the last time I bought any dessert that didn’t have chocolate as an element but this was incredibly interesting. You could bite away layers of cornflakes and the chewy seemed to remain to be the same size as before. This was so good that I would gladly buy this if I saw this anywhere.


Seemingly simple enough, it would be quite a fun recipe to try at home, assuming one could figure out how to keep the cornflakes as crisp at these seemed to be.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Anything But Basic: Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

Nothing mystifies more than the magnitude of reaction that pumpkin flavoring seems to elicit from the average person. Some people countdown to its arrival, while other people post hostile memes towards those who seem to enjoy it so much - but hate it or love it, it’s about to take over our world for the next couple of months. For me, I enjoy my fair share of fall flavored things with a pumpkin beer here and one annual pumpkin spice latte over there. Before you go ahead and buy me the “I am Basic” trucker hat, rest assured that I only dapple due to an aversion to overly sweet flavors that generally accompany these items.


This past Saturday, I found myself at a rest stop and needing some caffeine. Walking up to the Starbucks, I saw a fancy sign advertising their new Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and wasn’t too sure what to make of it. While I do love their iced lattes, I find Starbucks iced coffee to be far too bitter for my very mild preferring palette, but with a quick comparison of the calories in this advertised drink versus the PSL – my mind was made up.


Due to this location having increased rest stop prices, as well as my own personal reservations, I kept my order to a grande, which clocked in at 250 calories, 12 grams of fat and 35 grams of sugar. For those of you readers at home without their own personal nutritionist, that’s enough to make anyone with health in mind to think twice for just 16 oz. Still, the sign didn’t have any actual description of what exactly was in the drink so the dice was rolled. Looking online now, the drink is described as cold brew coffee sweetened with vanilla syrup and topped with a pumpkin cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice topping.


This rest stop provided those new sip lids, which was quite interesting for this drink as all of the pumpkin cream was directly on top of the iced drink. The first sip was Heaven. Honestly, the regular pumpkin spice latte is just okay for me, but this drink really blew my mind. Since I couldn’t stir this, the first sip was like drinking a sip of melted coffee and faintly pumpkin ice cream.


As my drinking continued, the cream topping started to drip down the edges of the cup, mingling with the cold brew coffee located underneath. Never once did the drink taste burnt like their regular iced coffee, but that could have had something to do with the 12 grams of fat in the cream. This drink was a real home run for me. The only downside? My once a year pumpkin spice latte has now just become the “as often as I can get the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew”. Happy sipping!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Restaurant Chronicles: Adventures on Arthur Avenue

On a steamy Sunday in August, my boyfriend and I took the train trip down to Fordham. I had never been there and since he has a real taste for Italian food, we thought it was a great place to go to for a late lunch. Walking from the train to Arthur Avenue, there were so many different establishments to choose from. I had spent the night before doing considerable research to determine where we should have our meal, figuring that we needed to make it count.

The majority of reviews said that Mario's was the best place to go, with 100 years of cooking up Italian food and I don’t know what more I could ask for. When we walked in, it was around 3pm. There were several occupied tables of the kind of people you would expect, but nothing that made us experience any kind of wait. 


The bread brought to the table was standard Italian bread, if not a bit tastier than average. I love that the restaurant brought over oil and butter to let you decide for yourself. Butter was the way to go.


When I walked in, I had no intention of having an alcoholic beverage, but it was so hot outside that we ordered Peroni’s because “when in Rome”. 


To start, we split the Mario Salad, which was just your average salad with a dressing a bit heavy on the vinegar factor. The waiter offered to split the salad for us, unprompted which I thought was particularly classy. The salad had both black and green olives in it, and I really love it when it does. 


Now I do not like raviolis, but when I was younger I worked at a place that used to take a van down to Arthur Ave once a month and load it up with as much frozen raviolis as could fit. After that, I realized that I only liked Arthur Avenue’s raviolis. I tested it out here and I was not disappointed in the slightest. Mario’s red sauce is to die for and I would go back in a heartbeat. I am going to be sure to check out if Mario’s sells their sauce in any stores because it’s so good I would bathe in it.


We ate and ate until we were so full that we could barely stand up. That being said, we immediately realized that we should try out some of the Italian desserts while we were down there, so we walked far and wide to find a pastry shop. Since it was Sunday, sadly several establishments were closed, so we would be more cautious of that next time.


We saw people milling around outside of Egidio's Pastry Shop, open since 1912 - so that was enough for us to pop our heads in and to order a chocolate covered cannoli and a chocolate filled donut. Normally, neither of us are cannoli people, but if ever we could get a good one, this would be the time. 

The cannoli was good, the cream inside tasting fresh and not overly zesty. The chocolate coating on the cannoli was thick and enjoyable. The chocolate donut was a bit more disappointing due to a lack of freshness. That said, I wouldn't be shy to buy another donut there if I ever find myself back earlier in the day.


The dream is to go back with an empty stomach and a cooler filled with ice to load up on prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, red sauce, ravioli and Italian bread. Talk about a foodie's paradise. 


Mario's
2342 Arthur Ave, The Bronx, NY 10458
https://www.mariosarthurave.com/

Egidio Pastry Shop
622 E 187th St, The Bronx, NY 10458
http://egidiopastry.com