Monday, February 25, 2019

Review: Leslie's Peanut Patties

A month ago, I was sitting at home and received a text from my sister telling me that she was in Texas and eating a candy that she figured that I wouldn’t like and would I want her to bring me home one. We long ago have established the kind of honesty about the quality of food where one of us bites the restaurant bread from the basket placed on the table and lets the other one know with brutal honesty if the carbs are “worth it”. Not doubting her assessment, but facing the reality that I wasn’t likely going to find myself in Texas in the immediate future, I asked her to bring me back the confectionary anyway.

As it turns out, the offer was for Leslie’s Peanut Pattie. The ingredients list, listed in order of volume is sugar, corn syrup, peanuts, red food coloring and artificial flavor. This candy was really a sight to behold with its vibrant red color and general heft, which could only be the corn syrup.

This candy amazed me to look at and handle, in the way abstract art might strike somebody. I love candy and eat candy all of the time, but I have never ever seen anything even kind of like this.

To be fair, peanuts are generally a real miss for me. While I love peanut butter, I pay extra in all of my snack nut mixes to skip the peanuts. Also, I generally avoid food dye when it’s blaringly obvious, with the exception of anything M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces, so I was excited to have an excuse to get out of my uptight nutritional box.

Boy was this different than my expectations. I thought that this would be extremely sweet and then cut by the presence of the salty peanuts but boy was I wrong. For me, the confectionary where peanuts were not present reminded me more of the taste of wax lips. The texture was crumbly as dried sugar would be, but in the absence of the peanuts being evenly dispersed it was really something different. The peanuts were not salty so they added more in texture than in additional flavor.

Their website says that they have been making these since 1949, so I suspect that there are people out there who truly enjoy this combination. While this candy was fun to try, I have to say that once again, my sister was right. I’m not sure what I expected sugar + food dye + peanuts to taste like, but now I am happy to know. Thank you, Sis!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Stamford Restaurant Chronicles: Hudson Social CT

Two years ago, I was lucky enough to participate in an international training program at my company, which involved three trips to Switzerland during the duration, meaning that it was a good way to try a bunch of different foods and to meet a handful of cool people. Now fast forward to a couple of months ago, my friend Dario from this program reached out to let us know that he was planning a visit to NYC and would be on our side of the pond. After experiencing an incredible amount of hospitality during my travels, it only made sense that it was time to return the favor.

The best part about the entire ordeal? When I asked him what kind of cuisine he would prefer, he told me 1. American, because we were in America and 2. Somewhere that I haven’t been so it could be a blog post. Now this made my whole day. I am pretty sure there are about 3 the readers of this blog, most of whom either are related to me or date me, but if even one reader is in Switzerland then this blog in INTERNATIONAL! Too delightful.

Since I generally go out to eat more often than I cook, it was sheer luck that Hudson Grille on Bedford Street had recently changed hands and rebranded to Hudson Social and DOUBLE luck that it was also Restaurant Week. As learned that evening, Switzerland does not have a “Restaurant Week”, so it’s a real marvel that you can get 3 courses for $28. If you don’t overeat in America, were you even here?

The last point to mention here before I get into the meat of the review is that I generally avoid eating places that become rowdy bars at night. I’ve spent many, many nights enjoying copious amounts of Bud Lights on the dance floor of Hudson, so I was apprehensive that the restaurant would smell too much like stale beer and puke for my esteemed colleague - but read on to find out why this was not the case at all.

After a brief office visit, Dario in addition to a few other colleagues and I headed to dinner at Hudson Social around 5:30PM EST. I was able to make a reservation on Open Table, thinking restaurant week might beef up the attendance, but we were the only seated table in the place. The restaurant still had a great ambiance and service was attentive and alas, no signs of a rowdy previous Saturday night to be seen or smelled.

Their cocktail list was what you’d expect and it was even $1 off each drink for RW, but I went ahead and got a mimosa because it’s cold and flu season. Half Full Lager was on draft, so Dario was able to take a sip of our local beer offerings on his visit as well. In reviewing the Restaurant Week menu, I was really blown away by the options for $28. There are also restaurants doing the same, but for $38 and this seemed like it couldn’t be beat. All 4 of us decided to utilize restaurant week and I don’t believe anybody was sorry.

My appetizer order was the avocado and burrata toast and let me tell you, this was the absolute star of the show. I could have had an additional slice of this and left the happiest camper that you’ve ever seen. Basic or not, I eat a ton of avocados and this toast was superior to most. The toast was topped with marinated tomatoes, balsamic, pistachios and a burrata that made you beg for more. This appetizer was smaller than some of the others that came out to our table, but I would go back just for this on any given Sunday morning given the chance.

Moving on to my main course, I decided on the pan roasted branzino, which came with roasted fennel, tabbouleh, orange segments and gremolata. Now I had already read reviews on Yelp, so I wasn’t too shocked by how incredibly small and thin the fish was – but there was barely any tabbouleh and absolutely no orange slices to be found. I don’t like fruit, so I wasn’t disappointed but I also don’t generally eat fish skin but was forced to just because I was afraid I would otherwise be leaving the dinner quite hungry. The picture here looks big, but it is an illusion. It’s probably a lot to ask for fresh fish at such a low price, but the fish was truly very dry and fried being so thin. I would not order this again here, Restaurant week or otherwise.

Following that fish fiasco, the brownie sundae was delivered and all negative memories of the entrée were erased from my mind. The brownie was soft in the center and the ice cream was cool and creamy. Lately most desserts have been a real letdown at restaurants for whatever reason, but this brownie sundae was decent.

The owner came over twice to check on things and seemed really eager to ensure that we all had a good time, which I absolutely did. As we were leaving, the place was really filling up for dinner on a Tuesday night I am hopeful that this guy will have a lot of success in the location. Overall it seems restaurant week was the best way to get to know this restaurant to be clear on what’s good to order at brunch and what’s better to skip. If being social is your focus, this place is the spot.

Hudson Social CT
128 Bedford St, Stamford, CT 06901

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Review: "The Most Stuff"ed Oreos

As a person who is consistent in only eating the frosting layer of cakes and saving the tops of cupcakes for last, you can imagine my delight when I heard that Nabisco was coming out with their “Most Stuffed” version of the classic cookie. When I was a mere tot, I would twist the Oreo cookies apart and push the crème sides of two cookies together, discarding the plain wafers, maintaining the notion that one good cookie beats out two mediocre cookies any day.

On an errand run, while we were adulting so hard, the clouds of responsibility parted and the sun shined down on our cart in Walmart as my boyfriend pulled the blue familiar package off of the display shelf for us to purchase. Not lost from sight in the sea of paper towels, tissues and cold medicine, we instantly had something to look forward to. A store filled with an abundance of degenerates with no space to push your shopping cart? No problem. From that moment on, life was going to be okay. Sugar and its healing effects, I’ll tell you.

Looking at the packaging, the only real difference here is the graphic and the promise that it will never get any better than this. I’ve never really been a huge fan of their “convenient” pull down opening as it never seals quite right, but that only matters if your cookies are going to hang around for a particularly long time.

In opening the package up, it was clear that there are a lot less cookies on offer here. Each row seems to have an abundance of unfilled space, as though some cookies simply disappeared from the packaging. At the 110 calories PER cookie and 22% of daily sugar allotment for just one, maybe the disappearing cookies were for our own benefit.

These cookies are simply amazing. You bite into them and the crème filling just oozes out. The wafers are harder than they normally are, but they have a big job to do here. You don’t build Hoover Dam with veneer. 

The proportion is perfect and the only thing I am left wanting for is a lower calorie count. As you eat these cookies, the frosting oozes out of the other side, so I imagine these cookies wouldn’t be great to eat in the car, etc.

Unless you’re the kind of person who tells everyone that Biscotti is your favorite cookie, get out and try these amazing limited time dreams come true. Your inner 8 year old will thank you.