Archive for the ‘Food Finds’ Category

Lay’s brings its flavor-crystal expertise back home at last

Friday, March 19th, 2010

At the supermarket the other day, and I mean the mega-Shaw’s where we go to buy our Miracle Whip and M&Ms, I was passing through the salty snack aisle. And lo, I beheld two new potato chip flavors that were NOT BORING — and even more importantly, were not self-importantly, yuppily “exotic.” (I’m looking at you, Kettle Chips.) Obviously they went straight into the cart.

Both were from Lay’s, which is known to have some of the best flavors going in their overseas markets, especially the UK.

One was Carolina Barbecue, with vinegar featured prominently on the illustration. This is one of my favorite all-time flavors from Utz, and though this one isn’t quite as spectacular, it is very good indeed. Tangy and savory and tastes like what it claims to be.

The other was Pepper Relish, which could have been anything, but turned out to be just what you’d hope: a sweet-tangy flavor with strong vegetal notes that taste just like a fresh pepper. I very much appreciate the simplicity of the name, instead of something overly poncy like Artisanal Garden Sweet-Tangolicious Pepper Madness.

I think the Pepper Relish is my favorite, surprisingly enough, but they are both excellent and you should run out and buy some right now, so Lay’s gets the right idea and keeps churning out more like this!

omg Best Idea Evar: Sahagun Ka-Pow

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

While we were in Chicago, C gave me a li’l box of treasure from Sahagun, the Portland OR chocolatier. I have been sampling it, enjoying a chocolate covered meyer lemon peel (swoon) and a salty peanut bark, but today I went for the bit I’d been saving: Ka-Pow, the not-a-chocolate made from coffee beans plus cocoa butter and sugar.

Dayum.

It’s a little gritty, with the texture of fine coffee grounds, but it’s got the melting loveliness of the cocoa fats, and just the barest hint of sweetness to temper the bitter. And the two tiny squares I ate packed enough of a wallop to get me through both an annoying conference call and the post-carb lag of a spaghetti lunch.

Completely awesome, in both the sensory experience it provides and in the sheer coolness of its concept. Huzzah, and big thanks to C!

All Dressed potato chips

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Littlelee brought back a few bags of Old Dutch chips from Montreal and we tried them this past weekend. Ketchup, NOM. Bacon, unexpectedly meh. And All Dressed. WTF All Dressed? I still don’t know, after eating them and after googling them, but sweet holy heaven they taste GREAT!
Apparently it’s a common Canadian chip flavor. A little sweet, a little tangy, quite savory. They’re utterly yum, and everything I could want in a chip, including a nice light thin crisp texture. Definitely in the Top Ten Chips Ever list. If you head north, see if you can score some… and bring some back for me.

OMG momofuku pork buns

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Momofuku pork buns
We have eaten a lot of really great shit here in NYC this week. However, at 1:30am on Saturday night, all I have on my mind are the two simple but mindbendingly delicious pork buns we just ate at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Two slices of melty, fatty, crisp on the edges pork belly, plus a few slices of lightly pickled cucumber, a spray of scallion slices and a wipe of hoisin, all on a soft steamed folded chinese bun. FUCK YEAH.
more to follow, of course.

shave ice

Saturday, May 30th, 2009
Aoki's shave ice with azuki & ice cream

We both seem to have developed a preference for lychee + liliko’i + li hing mui syrup on the ice, with vanilla ice cream underneath, or mac nut ice cream if it’s available, and azuki beans too if the mood strikes.
Aoki’s on the North Shore of O’ahu is so far the absolute pinnacle of the shave ice arts that we have tried. Holy cow. Absolutely perfect in every way. Superfine ice, really fresh, true-tasting syrups, good quality ice cream. yum yum. Someday when I have a couple of extra hours I am sure I will slog the line at Matsumoto’s next door just to try it, but there’s really no point. I can waltz right up to the counter at Aoki’s and be drowning in yum before any of those poor suckers get through the door at Matsumoto’s.
At Aoki’s we had vanilla ice cream, azuki beans, and liliko’i, lychee and li hing mui syrup. NOM NOM NOM.

Trader Joe’s snacks continue to win: dark chocolate chile-salt dried mango

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

While scoring my latest tub of Trader Joe dark chocolate covered salt almonds, I ran across a similar tub of dark chocolate covered chile-spiced dried mango with salt. Far be it from me to resist such a thing.
And lo, it was good.
Sweet, chewy, chocolatey-bitter, and solid in both heat and salt. Hell yes. YUM.

plum & walnut yogurt

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

holy crap, Libert

fromage fort

Monday, March 16th, 2009

I happened to do my shopping at the Framingham Whole Foods this weekend, and discovered a little treasure called fromage fort. It purports to be a mix of four cheeses and garlic and spices, and it is a creamy thick dip for celery sticks and carrots. Normally I loathe celery sticks because they overpower whatever you dip into, but they are downright tasty with this stuff on ’em.
I’ve not seen this at my local Newton WF, but I will take a closer look the next time I am there. I’d keep this stuff around for semi-healthy snackage and impromptu cocktail party nosh.

the true and glorious nature of fried rice

Sunday, March 15th, 2009
dried scallop & egg white fried rice

If you grew up anywhere or anything like I did, the fried rice of your youth was dark brown, salty, greasy and speckled with frozen mixed vegetables and tiny scraps of red roast pork and egg. And you slurped it up with vigor, but it was hardly the stuff of dreams.
Enter tallasiandude and his frequent workday lunches at the Vietnamese restaurants of north-eastern Massachusetts. He would come home rapturous over the fried rice at a couple of places in particular. And one day he brought me up there, and we ordered a plate of that rice. And then we ordered another plate because the first was so mind-bendingly delicious, perfect, bright, fresh, white, tasting of the wok heat and clean egg and shrimp and scallion.
Right around that same time, I was reading Mouth Wide Open by John Thorne (a gift from C, thanks, C!). In that excellent volume is an article about Mr. Thorne’s similar progression of experience with fried rice, and since he lives in a less-urban area with less proximity to seriously good Asian restaurants, he went about figuring out how to make an excellent fried rice for himself. Having never managed a successful fried rice on my own by bumbling about experimenting, I tried his method, and holy kershnikeys, does it ever turn out good.
It’s good even when you deviate a little bit and put in different vegetables or meats or seasonings according to the contents of your refrigerator. It’s good with white rice or brown. It’s good and hot and fresh and filling and tastes of toasted rice and heat and white pepper.
So it is with all this for background that we found ourselves at Vinh Sun in Boston’s Chinatown, out on a hot date to eat dinner & see Watchmen after a really stressful couple of days. It was most stressful for me in particular, so I was getting to pick most of what we ordered, and for some reason I was drawn to the list of fried rices. The most unusual-looking one was listed as a “dried scallop and egg white” version, and it seemed like it might be a good flavor balance with the other stuff we were getting.
And it arrived, pristinely white and flecked with scallion, white pepper, big fluffy sheets of egg white, with reckless quantities of shredded dried scallop scattered over the top like golden pine needles. The rice grains were hot and toasty, almost chewy and bouncy in texture, and the whole thing was just perfect, light, savory, rich. The rice is a little different and the flavorings are different, but the spirit is the same, making it a distinctly Chinese version of those excellent Vietnamese fried rice dishes.
So now we know three places to go out and get superlative fried rice, and we make it at home as best we can. If you have reason to be in Boston Chinatown, try and get over to Vinh Sun and order some fried rice and taste for yourself how truly delicious it can be.

dark chocolate almonds with turbinado sugar and sea salt

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

While at Trader Joe’s today to get yogurt and milk, I saw a display of almonds covered in dark chocolate, with sprinkles of turbinado sugar and sea salt. That seemed both nom and a reasonably healthful treat, so I bought a tub to give them a try.
NOM NOM NOM NOM.
They’re great. Toasty nuttiness with a solid dose of bittersweet chocolate, and a major hit of salt. Scratches every snack itch I’ve ever had. And since I just ate 4, and am already blissfully happy, that works out to 64 calories plus actual nutrition. Not bad for a treat. Hurray!