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