Wednesday, April 27, 2016

M&M's Favorite Flavor Race

During 2016's primary election season, three experimental varieties of M&M's chocolate peanut candies; Chili Nut, Honey Nut, and Coffee Nut; are vying for snackers' votes to determine America's favorite M&M's peanut candy.

Experimental M&M Flavors
Subject: Experimental M&M Flavors | Source: Courtesy of Mars Chocolate North America Press Kit |
Throughout the voting period of March 1 to June 17, snackers are encouraged to purchase each flavor and vote for their favorite on M&M's Facebook page. The winning flavor will be available in August and September of 2016.

I'd been looking for these candies for a few weeks, and had given up my search, when I found the single packs at Walgreen's (19975 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy, Aloha, OR) for $.60 per single size pack.  Being the curious eater that I am, I bought a pack of each and ate most of them in the car, while running errands.

Honey Nut:
Appearance - These come in the light orange, yellow, and black colors of a honey bee.
Taste - These tasted like chocolate peanut M&M's candies, with no hint of honey or additional sweetness.

Coffee Nut:
Appearance - These come in the colors of dark brown espresso, medium brown coffee, and off white cappuccino foam.
Taste - Here, the chocolate and peanut flavors are definitely dominant, but most of the pieces had a slight after taste of coffee.  I say "most," because I got one piece which delivered a power punch of coffee flavor throughout my mouth.

Chili Nut:
Appearance - These come in the colors bright red, orange, and maroon representing different kinds of peppers.
Taste - Again, the chocolate and peanut flavors were up front, but I tasted a gentle kick of heat on the back of my palette.  Yet, like with the coffee nut, I ate one power piece which could be considered hot.

I can't rate these from 1 to 10, since they're primarily Peanut M&M's Candies.  If you like Peanut M&M's Candies, and these happen to be at the cash register as you're paying for groceries, you may as well pick up a pack.  However, I wouldn't recommend actively seeking them out, they're nothing special.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cotswold Potatoes - A Welcome Side


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
Originating in Gloucestershire County, England, Cotswold is Double Gloucester cheese with chopped onions and chives mixed into it for added flavor.  It's a dense semi-hard whole milk cheese which can vary in color from golden yellow to orange.

As for taste, this ten year favorite of mine has a creamy, buttery, sweet flavor roughly akin to cheddar, but not as sharp. The chives and onions give it a uniquely savory bite.

Because it pairs well with blonde & amber beers, Zinfandel, and Shiraz Cotswold is popular as a pub cheese in England.  I bought a wedge last week, and was simply going to top crackers with it, and eat it alongside a beer.  However, the cashier at New Seasons asked if I'd ever made mashed potatoes with Cotswold cheese before.   Not only had I not made it, I'd never thought of it.

Being the cyber nerd that I am, I surfed the web, as soon as I returned home, and found a recipe for Cotswold Potatoes on Tiny New York Kitchen's blog consisting of 2 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, 1 Cup Heavy Cream, 5 Tablespoons Butter (Room Temperature), 1 ½ Cups Shredded Cotswold Cheese, ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper, ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt, and ¼ Teaspoon Paprika.  Like I said, it's not my recipe, but you can visit the blog, "Tiny New York Kitchen," for the full recipe.

I can tell you the potatoes were cheesy and creamy, and the flavors of the chives and onions really came through.  Along with fried chicken livers, pea pods sauteed with lemon oil, and a Blue Moon Beer the potatoes were a delicious component to a wonderful meal.  I'll have these again.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why I Can't Review Chick-fil-A In Hillsboro, OR

Chick-Fil-A's signature chicken sandwich
Subject: Chick-Fil-A's signature chicken sandwich | Date: 03/06/2007 | Photographer: J. Reed |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
According to Chick fil-A's site, "Truett Cathy opened a tiny Atlanta diner in 1946, originally called the Dwarf Grill (later renamed The Dwarf House). He then introduced the chicken sandwich concept to the quick-service industry when he opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Shopping Center in 1967. Today, Chick-fil-A has more than 1,700 locations in 38 states and Washington, D.C.."

Out of state friends have told me about Chick Fil-A for years.  "You have to try the spicy chicken sandwich," one would say,  "The waffle fries are da bomb," another told me.  Needless to say, I've been lead to believe Chick Fil-A sells some pretty magical chicken.

On March 31st, the Tanasbourne branch of Chick-fil-A opened at 2855 NW Town Center DR Hillsboro, OR 97006.  To mark the opening, the restaurant offered a year of free chicken to the first 100 customers through the door.  People camped out over night to reserve their place in line.  Figuring things would have died down by now, I tried to go there for lunch today.

The drive-thru line was 20 cars deep, showing no signs of motion, and the dine-in line was well out the door.  Admittedly, I've never tasted this fast food chicken sandwich, but I'm not waiting in line for 40 minutes for any fast food chicken sandwich.  Even if it's the best fast food chicken sandwich in the world, it's still a fast food chicken sandwich.

Perhaps one day, when the crowds have thinned and the dust has settled, I'll be able to taste their spicy chicken sandwich, chicken club, grilled chicken nuggets, biscuits and gravy with eggs and chicken, or their waffle fries.  Until then, I'll have to, sadly, remain in the dark.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pizza Hut's Stuffed Garlic Knots - A Review


Subject: Pizza Hut's Stuffed Knots | Date: 04-04-2016 |
Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell | This picture was taken by the author of this blog. |

Last night I ordered a pizza for dinner, and included Pizza Hut's $5 Stuffed Garlic Knots, which Pizza Hut describes as, "10 large Garlic Knots stuffed with melted cheese and finished with a garlic buttery blend, grated Parmesan and Italian herbs. Served with a  cup of Marinara dipping sauce."

First of all, garlic bread knots are, by definition, pieces of garlic bread dough which have been tied into "knots," then baked.  What I got were 10 pieces of chewy hollow, slightly burned, bread sprinkled with Parmesan & herbs.

There was no garlic flavor to the pieces of tough over cooked bread, and the sprinkle added nothing to the bread.  There WAS cheese inside, but for every 3 bites of bread, I got 1 bite of cheese.  The minimal amount of cheese didn't bother me though, since the cheese which was present delivered no flavor of any kind.

I hoped dipping the snacks would help.  Seriously, this was the first time I've had completely bland Marinara sauce.  Tomato soup has more seasoning.

All things considered, give Pizza Hut's Stuffed Garlic Knots 3 out of 10 stars.  They're 1970s school lunch quality bad.