Monday, April 16, 2018

Blizzard to Recover from the Blizzards: Jurassic Peanut Butter Chomp

What do Pluto, the 1980’s and the heat of the Summer in Stamford, CT all have in common? They’re all so impossibly far away that you can barely conceive them in your mind. Dairy Queen, an apparent optimist, does not care about the fact that it has been several months of darkness and consistently spaced nor’easters and instead they are marketing their Summer Blizzards.

This past Saturday we were graced with a sunny day that dared to approach the low 70’s and that felt like a reason to get out and celebrate. Coincidentally, my idea of a celebration is to head to that Big Red Barn and to wait in line behind a dozen other people for the antidote to my seasonal depression; a Blizzard and a red spoon.

Stamford’s Dairy Queen is hit or miss this time of year because the proprietor closes down for the winter months and seems to operate on a schedule during the weekday lunch rush on a willy nilly basis but on this day I was in luck.

I don’t pride myself on being a Jurassic Park fanatic, because I believe that the world already has more than enough of those – but I’ll tell you what I continue to be obsessed with and that’s peanut butter. The “Jurassic Chomp Blizzard Treat” is described as a “blizzard with Colossal choco dipped peanut butter bites and fudge topping blended with creamy DQ vanilla soft serve into perfection”. Perfection is a lofty adjective but allow me to explain below how that is completely accurate.

The ice cream was as good as always with the ingredients all “blizzed” together in consistent ratios but the real star here is what I would call the buckeye candies, which have never been included in a Blizzard of the Month previously. The candies were far more sweet than they were creamy, so I suspect a person who is ambivalent about peanut butter but enjoys sweet chocolate would still be quite happy with the order. The vanilla ice cream was graced with chocolate ribbons throughout that were as ganache-like as hot fudge, so each bite of the entire blizzard had something to enjoy.

Going to go out on a limb here and declare that this is my favorite Blizzard of the Month that DQ has ever had. Previous peanut butter limited time offerings were too one-noted; all peanut butter and lackluster in the plain bites. Also, something should be said for eating 380 calories here guilt free because the weather has me feeling like bathing suit season is light-years away.

Want to take a chomp out of your Seasonal Affective Disorder? Go get yourself one of these Blizzards while they’re still available.

Monday, June 5, 2017

New: Reese's Stuffed with Crunchy Cookies

That Summer in high school that I spent taking Driver’s Ed at 8am, the three hours I spent watching the movie “La La Land” and that time that I finally found Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Big Cups and accidentally left them locked overnight in a hot car; all of these instances have something in common and that something is BAD. You can only imagine how delighted I was on an overnight trip to Philadelphia to walk into a Wawa and after weeks for searching my local CVS laying my eyes on these big orange cups. Reese’s is my “go to” confectionary of choice and while they do say that you can’t mess with perfections, I am even more in love with the cups with the Reese’s Pieces inside of them, so my mind was as open as my mouth about these new ones.  

Getting back into the car the day after my purchase, the cups were melted beyond repair and blogging about them would have been as successful as posting a review about the types of dog poop that my condo neighbors never pick up by my car so I waited and I waited and waited. A few weeks later I was down at the shore with my family on a trip that largely revolves around which one of us frequents the local Wawa more (the Champ is here) and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by yet again.

To be sure, these limited edition cups come in both the regular size as well as the King Sized packaging and since I am known in dessert circles far and wide as the Dessert King, then I wasn’t going to settle on that small sh!t. The cups are described as your traditional Reeses with the addition of “bits of crunchy chocolate cookie”. When I first heard of these a couple of months ago, I let my mind believe what it wanted to and thought it would be actual cookie DOUGH bits and that would have been best case scenario. Allowing my reading comprehension to catch up with my dessert fantasies, I was a little less excited than from the jump.

Each package contains two cups and 380 calories which is pretty substantial for a dessert that I can’t imagine anybody would share or “save half for later”. I do believe that I read that the regular cups come in at about 200 calories for both cups but you’re getting less chocolate and less peanut butter and I am sure you’d be sorry for that alone.

Opening the packaging, I was immediately hit with the smell of rich and overly sweet peanut butter which is consistent with the traditional variety. I did quite enjoy the look of these as even upon first glance, you can see the cookie pieces flirting with the top layer of chocolate letting you know that you’re in for something special.

The sides of the peanut butter cup were sturdy and rich and while the cup was melty from the weather alone, the texture of the chocolate on the edges was still quite nice. The cookie pieces were abundant and provided a real enhancement to the overall texture experience. For me, I couldn’t detect any additional chocolate flavor from the cookies beyond the outside of the chocolate but I did however notice that these were sweeter than the regular variety in a way that was more positive than negative.

To be frank, I was one margarita and two red wines deep when I ate them but I do remember saying these would be my new obsession and committing to eat these as often as possible. Being sober now, I truly enjoyed them just maybe not as much as I love the Reeses Pieces Filled King Cups because the more Reeses products in one sitting, the better by my standards.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Finally an Excuse to Have Cookies for Breakfast: Waffle & Syrup Oreos

Pancakes or waffles? That is that the age old question a girl can find herself wondering on any given Sunday morning. For me personally, I always go for pancakes. It’s simple in the sense that people are expected to get a waffle as their meal, but when you order yourself up a short stack - it usually comes with eggs, bacon and if the place is really good, then a heaping pile of hash browns too. We’re all striving for that balanced diet right? Waffle fans, before you hit me with your piping hot griddles, trust me that I understand the appeal of a warm and fresh hot waffle, so I was exceptionally curious when I heard that the folks at Nabisco were coming out with a Waffles & Syrup flavored Oreo. Many of their recent flavors (Pop Rocks anyone) haven’t really called out to my taste buds, but this breakfast oriented edition was something that I had to try.

Not so fun fact about these? These cookies are only sold at certain stores (Safeway, Vons, ACME) so if you want them you’d best look online to see where you can get them. For the right cookie, I would drive across state lines but for this, it was as simple as ask and receive. I sit in a cubicle with a man who spends as much time thinking about dessert as I do, so it was a real highlight to walk to my desk Monday morning and to find the bag waiting for me after having mentioned them as soon as I’d read about them.

You can see that the packaging is nothing special. The waffles in the picture look like Eggos (love them) so I had very high hopes about how “waffley” these were going to taste. Upon opening up the package, I was immediately hit with the maple syrup scent. For people who aren’t about it, it actually may have been too much but I just salivated thinking about how harmonious this would be once I got the waffle taste into my mouth. These cookies looked as vanilla as hell and while normally that wouldn’t be my thing, I just reminded myself that these aren’t vanilla cookies, these discs from Heaven are breakfast.

Upon first bite, I was immediately reminded of the Golden Oreo, which was no shock considering that they looked identical. The maple syrup taste was super pleasant and the cookie was flirting with being too sweet in a way that no real Cookie-o-holic minds. Still, my taste buds were baffled. Where was the waffle? 

And even after pulling apart the Oreo and tasting the “crème” separately I honestly don’t know the answer to that. The center of the “crème” was maple flavored, but the waffle wasn’t present whatsoever. That said, these cookies were exceptionally good as they were, so I tried to keep my dissapointment at bay.

As mentioned, I am not the only person invested in this bag of cookies and since every story has two sides, let's take a moment to hear another opinion here. Upon discussing, there were only so many things one could write about an Oreo so instead please enjoy this short but thoughtful poem:

waffles, how I love your golden fluff
soaked with syrup-y goodness and ready to eat
this is a meal with all the right stuff
now available in an oreo treat

oreo oreo, how I love you
if only my heart knew how to chew
for now your taste my tongue will savor
all of your delicious maple flavor

golden cookie with a hint of graham
in my mouth four or five I will cram
frosting maple center, oh it does deliver
no other cookie to even consider

I won't leave behind even a crumb
to do so would really be dumb
this cookie certainly fills a need
of this truth I do concede

In closing, Nabisco - If you had called them Maple Syrup Limited Edition Oreos, then I would give them a 10 out of 10. Like with anything in life if you manage your expectations, you’ll really enjoy these cookies and you might just be able to justify eating these cookies prior to 11AM like we did. These are worth a try, just be sure to bring the eggs, the bacon and a heaping pile of hash browns when you do. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Ben and Jerry's Pint Slices: The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Parking Lot Edition

Last year, Norwalk, CT rebranded the city as “The Sound of Connecticut”. Being a resident and homeowner there myself, I thought that this was an interesting choice. Personally, I’d always considered the area the bastard step-sibling to Stamford, where you can buy the same property at a discount, pay fewer taxes and where the only sounds you’ll be hearing are trains passing through and police sirens. The more I learn about Stamford now, the more I realize they’re relatively equal in safety, if not in traffic and commuting times, so when I spent my last Friday night sitting in my car at the Main Ave, Norwalk Stop & Shop with my accomplice - like two secret eaters leaving a Weight Watchers meeting, I figured that my type of loitering was more innocent than most in the area.

If you’ve ever read my blog in the past then you would be familiar with the statistic that about 40% of what I review about is Ben & Jerry’s. As pints go, these are my favorites; full butter fat, full of flavor and not to mention an excuse to have candy AND ice cream for dessert. At first, when I heard of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pint Slices I was all about it. Described by the manufacturer as “3 Vanilla Ice Cream Bars with Gobs of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Fudge Flakes, Covered in a Dark Chocolatey Coating”, I was thinking “Sign me up,” but when I held the packaging in my hand, I’d realized that having a pint slice is not the same as having a pint, with or without “Dark Chocolatey Coating”.

Trying to keep my girlish figure, maybe I avoid eating the entire pint in one sitting but I most certainly don’t shy away from getting down at LEAST half of one. Portion control is a beautiful idea for those who are interested, but if that’s the concern here then why have ice cream to start anyway? Each bar has 290 calories, which I consider to be totally reasonable or lacking for anything as premium as Ben and Jerry’s.

It only made sense that for this taste test, that I brought along the man who I have seen order chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream at countless ice cream establishments across the globe. It may seem strange for two grown adults to sit in a dark parked car on a Friday night with a trunk filled with groceries eating limited time ice cream sandwiches, but social norms be damned.

First thing first, the packaging was beautiful. The colors were super vibrant and fresh looking and the ice cream bars came wrapped in both plastic as well as placed in a box to avoid any breakage. The ice cream disk itself was completely round and didn’t quite lend itself to seamlessly being eaten out of the packaging as the widest part on mine got stuck in the wrapper, requiring excess force – which you can imagine is less than ideal for eating inside of a car with tan leather.

To be fair, you can’t eat the packaging, so getting to the real heart of the issue here upon first bite I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavor in the chocolate coating. It’s not overly sweet and heavy on the cocoa side. It wasn’t until writing this blog post did I realize that the chocolate was of the dark variety, but I loved it regardless. For anyone with weak teeth or dentures, you may need to let the puck defrost for a bit before starting the whole eating endeavor. As a woman who doesn’t absolutely love vanilla ice cream, this coating abated any issues with being bored with the flavor whatsoever.

The ice cream itself was pretty standard for Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which is to say it was good and probably does not require much further explanation for anyone living in America. Unlike what I am used to in the pints however, it should be noted that the distribution of gobs of cookie dough within the “Slice” was relatively uneven. Some bites were filled of nothing more than cookie dough, which was a great time but others left me heavily relying on the coating to carry me through. One thing worth noting is that unless you have a car with dark interior or somebody at home who does your laundry, it may be more of an item to eat outside at a BBQ rather than inside of your car as it was a particularly messy ordeal, however worth it that each bite was.

Tim, a chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream aficionado said that he didn’t particularly love this dessert because it was too chocolatey for him. His ice cream bar had an even greater issue with uneven distribution of cookie dough and while he did give it a 4.5 or 5 out of 10, he did also say that he would still likely eat this again.

With the price point of three bars being similar to that of one pint, I would definitely buy this again. Rumor has it that there’s even a peanut butter cup edition somewhere out there. Thumbs up for the novelty and for giving even non-degenerates an excuse to lurk in an unlit parking lot from time to time.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Duchess Norwalk: Big D's Cheeseburger and the Case of the Missing Cheese

To a New England enthusiast, Connecticut is known for being the Constitution State, the home of Yale University and for white clam pizza. As a New Yorker taking up residence though, I would argue that this state should be known for its car property tax, the unbelievable amount of traffic at any given time regardless of the day of the week, as well as for Duchess fast food. Personally, I’d never even heard of Duchess before I started working in Stamford years ago, but apparently the presence in Norwalk has been for over 40 years so if anything, in true Amy fashion - I’m just late to this particular party.

This past Sunday I had been dreaming of a particular fast food blog idea and to my stomach’s dismay, the sky opened up and a mix of ice and snow poured down on the streets. For this one instance, the blog idea was shelved but as always a girl has got to eat. Turns out that I’ve spent 7 years working in Stamford and now live 0.7 miles from a Duchess and have somehow never managed to make it inside the place so this winter day from hell turned out to be a perfect opportunity. With the help of the bravest man I know, we made our way without incident and I’ll tell you what. As I walked in, I was blown away with the variety on the menu (think egg salad, chicken salad, fried clam strips). Unfortunately, there was no line in front of us and the woman behind the cash register had her eye on us immediately. After brief consideration, I ordered the #1 off of the value menu thinking that if it’s #1, it must be a very popular order at this place.

Waiting for my Big D Cheeseburger, I observed that the price wasn’t exactly as cheap as McDonald’s might be and that the pricing was more in line with Wendy’s. Wendy’s is hands down my favorite fast food, but usually runs you a few dollars more than your standard fast food so already my expectations were lifted. While we waited for our food to be ready, I noticed how pleasant the interior was. The tables and floors were modern and mostly clean and there was pleasant background music being played. In the center of the room, there were even a few flat screens playing News Channel 12, which I enjoy and had actually just been watching at home.

Having only had a yogurt, I was about drooling on myself by the time the food came out and upon first bite of the fries I thought two things: the first being that there was a coating of crust on these fries that made them bready and similar to Burger King fries and the second being that these fries were not quite fresh. It's not complicated. I like my fries undercooked and floppy and these were what I consider to be well done. Fast forwarding to when we were leaving, I heard a woman behind the counter tell a patron that they were whipping up a new batch of fries and he’d have to wait a bit and it makes sense that we must have gotten there at the wrong time. In the end, I left half of my fries behind because the only part I liked about them was the copious amounts of ketchup I used.

Forget the fries. I ordered a Big D Cheeseburger and that’s what I’m here to write about. The order came with one hamburger patty, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and mayonnaise. I was surprised that no ketchup was added (before I drowned it in nearly half a bottle). The most notable thing about this cheeseburger was the bun. From their website, I realize now that they bake these buns on premise and you can certainly tell that. My bun had a hard time staying together during the brief duration that it took me to demolish this burger, but it was a decent trade-off. It was a surprise to me that the lightness of the bun made it almost have an undercooked quality to it in a way that I found enjoyable; perhaps the ying to the yang of overcooked fries.

The predominant taste of my burger was mayonnaise and if you are adverse to this condiment then you would absolutely have to tell them to hold this from your burger. Without any type of flame grilled quality to it, I didn’t taste too much beef while eating my burger and from the picture and my taste buds, I have to think that they did not add any cheese to my sandwich. If they did, it was a waste because it didn’t register. The tomatoes were fresh, but the lettuce wasn’t. If I could do it over, I would skip the cheese (if I hadn’t already) and get a second patty. Personally, as a woman who loves mayonnaise, this reminded me quite a bit of a Whopper and it was enjoyable in the way that any mediocre fast food is still quite pleasurable.

Now that I’ve had my first Duchess experience, I don’t think I’ll rush back any faster than I’ll head to Wendy’s but I can say that it was a pretty solid choice. Their menu is so extensive compared to a place like McDonald’s, so I would think it would lend itself to a nice stop on a group road trip or with a picky eater. Right out front was a sign for a $2.50 egg sandwich so for a cheap price and a homemade roll, I would be more inclined to check out their breakfast on the next go around. Duchess also has a very futuristic soda machine which I’ve been told is not new but from my understanding, there are 150 soda combinations you can make on it and that’s enough to blow your mind alone. On the plus, they haven’t yet published the calorie counts in their food and I always say, if you can’t count it then it doesn’t count.

Burger: 7/10
Fries: 4/10
Value: 6/10

157 W Main St, Norwalk, CT 06851

Friday, April 8, 2016

When Your Blog is Back In Town Just in Time: Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core

Like a retired woman who heads into work voluntarily without a care in the world, no longer having to write my blog for my "Life’s To Do List" – I feel the nostalgic pang for an excuse to eat junk food with an actual justified purpose. Long lost are the days when I would write into my planner release dates for Taco Bell’s newest Chalupa or a Free Ice Cream Cone Day at Baskin Robbins for the sake of spreading the word electronically. 

Here’s the thing though; I fell in love with writing this blog and enjoyed each and every shared experience I had with people that stemmed from it. Life’s flying by too fast to only think about picking this back up at my own pace. Last year so many people provided wonderful suggestions or even went as far as to mail me obscure food items (hello Justin and your cricket bars - thank you). Last year this blog had over 4,500 page views and in my humble opinion, food is just one more way to connect with people as we make another trip around the sun, so buckle up because I’m back.

If you’ve ever read even one of my posts, then you know that hands down Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is my favorite brand of ice cream in existence, so pardon my rose colored glasses. While I am not insane for their continuous effort to push their social agenda on consumers, I am so mesmerized by their creativity and quality that I can overlook this persistence. Like a lover with a too loud laugh, or a favorite pair of pants with a zipper that always gets stuck – the right level of enchantment can assist in overlooking nearly anything. 

While I’ve fallen asleep on the blogging job, the good people of Ben & Jerry’s have continued to expand their line of “Core” ice creams. In February of this year, a couple of new flavors were added to their line up and I have been religiously looking in each and every freezer I walk by ever since. Based on purely happenstance, last Friday I was lucky enough to walk into a gas station with a microscopic freezer and to my delight – there it was: Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core.

The pint contains chocolate and vanilla ice creams with fudge brownies and a brownie batter core. Like anyone with a brain, I love brownies and generally speaking their Half Baked ice cream blows my mind, but when I first heard about this new flavor, I read the description and was a little disheartened by the lack of innovation. This ice cream flavor sans core is just like Half Baked minus the cookie dough, which is always a welcome addition. With that, I went into this cautiously optimistic. 

Opening the lid, I was happy to see that I had immediate access to the core. Last year, a few of the core pints required me to eat the ice cream just to get to the filling in the center and while that’s no big deal, these pints require a certain distribution mechanism so you get some core and some ice cream into each bite for the best experience. If you wait too long or you get overzealous in eating the core, then you will find yourself eating some straight up plain, premium ice cream corelessly. It’s an art and I’ve mastered it. I was feeling pretty happy that all of my tools were here to get this right in plain sight.

Hagen Daaz fans, I love you but be damned. As per me, B&J has the best premium tasting chocolate and vanilla ice cream and the purity of these flavors shined through for me. The brownie pieces were just fine. They weren’t rock hard and frozen which I appreciated, but they were definitely on the B team of ingredients here because everything else was so damn good.

The true star? The brownie batter core. I’ll type this and you’ll trust me – think brownie flavored liquid hot fudge in the center of a pint. The allotment was generous and it went perfectly with the vanilla ice cream. I would guess that unless you’re a chocoholic, the brownie core on the chocolate ice cream may be a bit much for you. It was lovely, but not for the faint of heart. The center of this pint was amazing and I would buy this again. With the exception of Boom Chocolatta, this is the best core ice cream that they’ve ever come out with so far. It was sheer delight eating this and I would gladly eat this again any chance that I get.

With sincerity I can say that I look forward to not only trying the remaining new core ice creams that they come out with, but also all of the other culinary adventures that the revival of this junk food blog will bring me. As always, any and all suggestions welcome. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Final Post: Dunkin' Donuts New Fudge Croissant Donut

If you feel like time is flying by you, then make a commitment to yourself to do something at least once each week. Only then will you understanding how many weeks are in a year, as youre daunted by a commitment of something you know you wanted, but youre too lazy to execute. For years Ive dreamed of having my own food blog. Nothing ignites my passion more than having a new experience with some limited edition food item that I had to drive around town to find. Perhaps its the only modern day hunting and gathering instinct that a woman working in a cubicle can experience, but I can tell you it makes me feel excited and rewarded and that this blog has brought job into my life.

Eating food I shouldnt is sinful and exhilarating. But sitting down at least once a week and writing about it? Thats a challenge. Admittedly easy at first, I remember vividly the first few weeks of January when I found myself on multiple occasions sitting down and finding my fingers easily flowing over the keyboard. I couldnt get the words out fast enough about how I enjoyed or didnt enjoy whatever I was reviewing. But January bled into February, which then became March and my initial enthusiasm waned. Blogger is informative enough to show the posts broken down by each month and I can tell from my personal experience that the months where life got in the way, I barely wrote any posts. I dont even have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times that I considered quitting writing this blog or the weeks that passed without an update. If not for the encouragement of others, recommendations and a guest blogger, then I would have put this To Do List Item off for another year. It would have been a failure and after all of the resources I had dedicated to this, it would have been a failure. Blessed are the gardeners of the soul.

Throughout the year of writing this blog, I have learned quite a few things about myself, as well about the dedication of people who regularly indulge in a hobby. Because I switch things up quite frequently from this list, I am something of a jack of many trades, but the master of none. I think I have a much greater appreciation for people who commit to a sport, or trade, or an art on a lifetime basis. Do not ask me how people do not get bored of the repetition, because that I cannot speak to. While this blog enhanced my life with new experiences and small indulgences, I can honestly say that I wouldnt be able to keep this going on a weekly basis indefinitely, try as I might.

Twelve months and fifty literal blog posts later, I take you to the last planned blog post of this year. Having fallen head over heels with Dunkin Donuts Snickerdoodle Croissant Donut, I was particularly excited to try their new Fudge Croissant Donut. As described by Dunkin, this pastry is a donut made of flakey layers, drizzled with chocolate frosting, and pumped full of chocolate fudge filling. The donut alone has 400 calories, so its not for the calorie conscious thats for sure, but if its anything like their last limited edition croissant donut, then calories be damned.   

What I did review as a part of this blog was the original croissant donut, which I wasnt quite as taken with. With a price tag of $2.49, when the average donut costs me less than $1,00 I cant say I was blown away by the taste to value ratio. Looking at this donut, I am staring at something that reminds me a lot of the original. Looking from the top, you can see there are four puncture points in this donut where filling was inserted, so perhaps thats exactly why this reminds me of the unfilled version. The glaze drizzled on top matches that of my favorite donut, the marble frosted, so I am cautiously optimistic. To note, this donut smells quite good, having the very particular aroma from a glazed Dunkin Donut.

Before biting into this thing, its cut in half to get a cross section view of the filling. You can see at first glance that even though there are four specific puncture points, the donut artist was a little more heavy handed at certain intervals here. 

The filling is impressively dark, lending itself to the whole fudge filled thing. Always being the type of gal who likes to dive in head first, my first bite here is where most of the filling is present. What strikes me first is the taste of the chocolate fudge filling, or lack thereof. Rather than being a dark chocolate that I would expect by sight, its more of a pudding taste. Another taster of this donut told me that this is the same filling that Dunkin uses in their brownie batter donut and I am slightly disappointed. Ive already eaten this entire thing with my eyes and my eyes told me that this was fudgy dark chocolate. The filling is more on the liquid side and the outside is closer to the flakey dry consistency of a croissant and I am not going insane for it. Theres a certain lack of harmony here and this all doesnt seem to come together quite right.

Reading other blogs, the internet went insane for this thing, so donut be deterred by my review. The cronut is as good as the first edition, if that was your thing and this is just a chocolate pudding filled version of that. Chocoholics will be disappointed, but if you blindfolded them then perhaps not. Its not lost on me that there is the other, much lighter and richer chocolate used in those chocolate Kreme filled donuts, which I think would have gone over much better here. That frosting is thicker in consistency and deeper in flavor and this would have blown my lid. With a price tag of $2.49, I wouldnt buy this again or even pull this out of a box of a dozen if it was sitting in our work kitchen.

Signing out until the next chew, whenever that may be. Thanks for letting my words go through your eyes and into your brain over the past year. It means a lot to me. Stay delicious.