Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bacon + Chocolate Ganache = Trader Joes Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar

Being a big reader of blogs myself, I was more than a little enthused when reading about the availability of a chocolate ganache bacon bar. I’ll take chocolate any way I can get it, but I am most certainly partial to ganache. Generally speaking I like the cacao count high and my cake to be flourless. If somebody around here would melt fudge directly into my open mouth, that would be optimal.

Trader Joe’s has introduced an Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar, which is 70% cacao and is described on the labeling as “A rich combination of dark chocolate ganache and a hint of smoked salt.” About five years ago, I remember when the chocolate and bacon combination really took off. What was first unique and boutique is now simply good. The basic principle of life: take two good things and combine them and they’re even better.

What I liked about this bar is that it was not at all what I was expecting. Originally I figured that it would be a dark chocolate bar with pieces of bacon dispersed throughout and maybe some sea salt sprinkled on top, but it was so much more complex than that. Reading the nutritionals, I was surprised to see that this bar, which was not small – albeit light was only two servings. That was encouraging. I never feel bad eating two servings and the guilt starts to set in at three.

Opening the packaging, you can see the eight neat looking dark squares and you don’t even know what you’re in for. I was surprised to see that the smoky salt was not at all on the outside of the bar. My curiosity raged on. Taking a bite I was shocked to find that each square was actually a thin layer of chocolate over a very liquid center. The filling had a mouth feel which was very fatty and tasted is of chocolate, bacon and salt. There were no legitimate pieces of bacon, which led me to believe that much of the bacon taste came from liquid bacon fat. Written, that sounds gross but in your mouth it’s luxurious. There were maybe one or two tiny bits of bacon in my entire bar experience. There was a smoky and smooth taste to the liquid chocolate, providing complex flavor waves.

Besides the uniqueness, the best part of this bar for me was the actual chocolate. It had a high quality taste and was particularly dark for only 70% cacao. This was the type of bar that wouldn’t replace my regular chocolate fix, but it was enjoyable and certainly a conversation piece. It would have paired nicely with vanilla ice cream, because the filling was a bit syrupy in nature. Hats off to Trader Joe’s for continually coming up with new decadent items to blog about. Keep them coming.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The BEST thing I have blogged about this year: BLVD Tasty Cheesecake Brownie Ice Cream

It was bound to happen sometime. Late last Friday night when all of my peers were either out at the bar or sitting home with their screaming children, I was that woman sitting in Whole Foods eating a pint of ice cream. As people walked by, I could hear their thoughts, “How sad, that woman can’t even wait to get home before she starts eating her pint. She must be an addict”

Here it is. I’ve arrived. What the onlookers probably didn’t know was that this pint was the best tasting thing I have ever blogged about. Heard that? I already know that I won’t be able to articulate well enough how phenomenal this ice cream was and that’s probably for the best because I don’t want everyone buying it all up.

When it comes to cheesecake, it’s not my favorite. About once a year I get a really strong craving for it, have a slice and then that itch is scratched for a time. About a month ago I started to feel the hankering. Whole Foods has a really interesting selection of food, but what I don’t like is that so much of their freezer isle is now Vegan. Cutting out animal products is a beautiful thing for people who choose to live their life that way, but what about the rest of us? Please don’t give away all of my dairy filled freezer space, Whole Foods. Just remember who loved you first.

For no reason more than the surprisingly slim pickings, I choose “BLVD Tasty Cheesecake Brownie Ice Cream”. To start, I took issue with the fact that tasty was in the name. It makes me disgruntled that no matter the outcome, I will have to refer to it with that adjective. With the exception of that potential misnomer, I enjoyed the packaging. It looked clean and attractive to me and it was easily the longest that I’ve ever stared at a pint, sitting at that table in Whole Foods, avoiding eye contact with onlookers as I dove into the pint like there was no tomorrow.

The ice cream is described as fudge brownies in cream cheese ice cream. Cream cheese is one of my favorite things and I was intrigued that this wasn’t called cheesecake ice cream. There is absolutely nothing “cake” about this. One of my favorite parts of this pint was the consistency of the ice cream itself. Simply, it was like whipped, frozen cream cheese. That was it. It wasn’t overly sweet and it was maybe even a little icy but the mouth feel was like biting into a cloud in Heaven.

This is bold, but I would give this an award for being top 5 ice creams I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. I’ve had SO much ice cream, so I can’t stress how much that means. Sorry Ben & Jerry’s, there’s a new love in town.

To note, the brownies were more of an afterthought. They weren’t frozen solid which was nice, but they weren’t a deep chocolate flavor either. They were good in the way that eating decent French fries with the world’s best burger might be. There was no way they could even compare to the star of the show here. There were tiny pieces of brownies spread throughout the ice cream and a few larger chunks here and there. Either way, they didn’t bring all that much to the party but I didn’t mind.

If you enjoy rich cream cheese, then this ice cream is for you. You won’t regret it. Stereotypes be damned, this ice cream is worth any stigma of being that lady who spends her weekend nights downing 1,600 calories in ten minutes of ice cream in public places. You’re welcome.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On Fire: Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

I’m awkward. There’s absolutely no way that I will be able to write an entire review about Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos without saying some unintended x-rated awkwardness that my one or two regular readers will undoubtedly pick up on. Really Frito-Lays? We couldn’t have called these Spicy Crunchy Cheetos and then called it a day?

Fighting the flaming hotness is futile and somebody probably should have told me this pertaining to social interactions as early as middle school. Don’t let my puffy hair fool you, when it comes to Cheetos, I would pick crunchy over puffed any time. Knowing that, before even trying these I took the guess that adding heat (which I like) to crunchy Cheetos (which I like) would equal something that I like; thank you Lincoln Titus Elementary School for that basic math principle.

11:30AM EST and lo and behold it’s time for some chips. As you can see from this photo, the Cheeto itself is thin and long, looking nearly identical to the standard crunchy Cheeto. You can’t have a fire without a spark and the heat from this thing is the red powder dusted on the surface. Just like with the original, the powdered cheese and in this case “powdered heat” ends up all over your fingers, so you’re licking them clean with a remaining slight tint of red. I love this. I forgot how detectable eating Cheetos was because of the way it dyes your fingers the color of the chip as a part of the aftermath. Natural food never does that for you. +1 point for processed foods.

Unlike every other food that I’ve reviewed for this blog, the second the Cheeto hit my tongue I detected the heat. It should be mentioned that I had just finished a container of plain Greek yogurt and the person with whom the bag was shared said that the heat was more of a slow build. I have to wonder if my cool snack prior had anything to do with it. Being a fan of heat myself, I thought that these chips were adequately “flaming”.

Something else that rocks about these was  the way the bag came more filled than your typical chips bag. In general, Cheetos are pretty well known for delivering in this way. The labeling said that there were 3.5 servings in the bag and that was a gross overestimation of servings as serving size suggestions typically go.

Overall these were good and delivered the heat promised. I have a lot of love in my heart for chips in general. Cheetos are not my go to chip, however if they were available, I would gladly eat these again.