Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wendy's Natural Cut Fries With Sea Salt

A report came out last week that Wendy's new "Natural Cut Fries with Sea Salt" are in fact, not all that natural.  But instead of being deterred by the news, Foodgoat just craved them even more.

So what if they are dusted in dextrose (sugar derived from corn)?  And dipped in sodium acid pyrophosphate?  (These keep them from turning brown from when they are fried prior to freezing and fried again at the restaurant.)  And what if they are fried in oil mixed with dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone-based chemical that helps keep the vegetable oil from getting foamy after a whole day of frying? 

We are talking about fast food, after all. 

Because even if they are not exactly fresh from the potato farm, they do taste great.  Foodgoat isn't the only one to think so:  Wendy's claims their fries beat McDonald's fries in a national blind taste test, and fries sales at the 6,600 Wendy's (which is based in Ohio) worldwide have gone up 10%. 

The new fries still have the potato skins on, they are are crispier and the flavor is much better than the old Wendy's fries. Natural or not, they do make us happy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fish Sticks and Custard and Doctor Who

We celebrated the premiere of the new Doctor Who season on Saturday with - what else? - fish sticks and custard.

When we first met the 11th Doctor last year, of course, the young Amelia Pond offers a variety of foods to feed his newly regenerated body, but each one - the yogurt, the apple, even the bacon - is rejected, spit out, or deemed evil.  The ultimate and unlikely winner is fish sticks dipped in custard. 

Naturally, I didn't have high hopes for how well this would taste, so we went with minimal effort - Van De Kamp's Frozen Crunchy Fish Sticks and Jell-O Instant Pudding in Banana Cream. 

But guess what?  It wasn't bad at all. 

The fish sticks were nice and crunchy (I don't know why, but I was greatly reassured by the fact that the fish stick instructions said explicitly that microwave cooking is not recommended), and they didn't so far so badly dipped in the sweet, banana cream pudding.  Perhaps not the ideal dipping sauce, but not nearly as weird as I anticipated.  I finished off all the fish sticks this way! 

Why does Foodgoat look so sad then?  Maybe it's because he had to watch Doctor Who in standard definition instead of high definition.  Come on, DirecTV, carry BBC America in HD!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Spice Packs - Not for the Seasoned Cook (heh, heh)

We have a well stocked spice cabinet - a lot of spices, and an excellent spice source.  Foodgoat can mix and match his own spices very well, so we didn't have particularly high hopes for these individual spice packets made by Aromatica Organics, who claim to be America’s first organic spice company,which we were sent samples of to review a while ago.

Each spice packet is sized for making a dish that might be enough for two people - enough to one pound of chicken, let's say, or two potatoes - so there is no measuring needed.  The packet also helpfully comes with suggested uses and directions.

They have a large selection, but we tried out three in one meal - the Green Bean Seasoning with pan-sauteed green beans, the Potato Topper Seasoning with mashed potatoes, and the Caribbean Jerk with a roasted chicken.
Before ...

After the chicken as been roasted ...

Surprisingly (to us, anyway), the spice packets worked generally very well and were easy to use.  The chicken was great and the mashed potatoes was delicious.  The green beans were overwhelmed by the spices, though.  I don't know if I necessarily blame the spice mix on that, because generally I don't think green beans even really needs much in the way of spices. 

All in all, I was surprisingly happy with the spice packets.  They were easy to use, tasted great, and made cooking very simple.  Still, they aren't something we are likely to use a lot, because we do tend to have our own spices on hand.

But they are still nice to have around, I have to say.   And I can think of a lot of situations in which these individual, pre-mixed spices make a lot of sense: when you don't keep a wide variety of spices on hand, when you don't quite sure how to blend spices, when you're traveling and will be cooking in a different kitchen.

And, because they gave us way too many of the spice packets to try, I will be giving some of the extras away!  Just leave a comment by Thursday, April 28, at 5 PM EST telling me what your favorite spice is, and a random commenter will receive a selection of the spice packets to try for themselves. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cooking with GoatSpawn: Pizza

One of the things that Foodgoat likes best?  Cooking with his little one.

Does it take a lot longer when kids are "helping" you cook?  Oh yeah.  Is it far, far messier?  Absolutely.  Are there danger points when kids come in closer proximity to knives and ovens and elevated work spaces?  Yup.

But it's so much fun for everyone, and such a valuable and important learning experience, that it's worth it. 

Here they are making pizzas together - one for each of them.


Adding pepperoni

And more cheese ...
As you can see, GoatSpawn's pizza came out beautifully.

Foodgoat's pizza?  Not nearly as pretty.  But just as tasty.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tryout Tuesday: Mr. Brisket

 Dear Slyman's,

Slyman's, you and I, we go back a long time, and you know how I feel about you.  I love your corned beef, I love your Reubens, I love how you get piles of meat in the sandwiches, I love the whole vibe there.  You're one of very favorite places. 

But I just wanted to let you know that I've met someone else.  It's still early, but I think it might be serious.

Please don't misunderstand - I'll always come to you whenever I can.  You are still, in my mind, the best corned beef I've ever had.  That hasn't changed. 

But the distance could be a little hard.  Sure, it's not exactly long distance - less than 10 miles - but the timing was bad.  You are only open until 2:30 on weekdays, and you're closed on weekends.  I don't have a problem with that, in fact I respect it.   But because of my own schedule, and the fact that the lines during lunch hour could be so long, a lot of times months will go by before I get a chance to see you again.

That's a long time to go without, and frankly, I have needs.  Sometimes I could take of it myself at home.  But sometimes, I just want to go pick something up. Usually the results turn out to be expensive and a little disappointing, though. 

And then one day, I stopped by Mr. Brisket. It was recommended to me by a couple of people, and it was just a few miles away .  And it was open on a Saturday.  

I swear, I didn't intend to go there for the corned beef sandwiches. We went in to get butchered meat, not for the prepared foods, but the sight and smell of the corned beef sandwich being grilled right in front of me... it had been so long since I'd had a Reuben ... well, I couldn't resist.  I took some back to my place.  Right then and there.

That sandwich was good.  Different, yes - sweeter, a bit of different flavor, and smaller.  Not necessarily better than Slyman's, but almost as good, and just delicious. 

So I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to see Mr. Brisket again.  But I'll still want have Slyman's when I get a chance. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

My First Chopsticks!

 GoatSpawn here! (Though now that I am 2 1/2, I do like to occasionally be called "Princess Goat".) I tried using chopsticks the other day, and I did surprisingly well picking up the sushi, don't you think?

Of course, I did use them more like spears, but hey, it's a learning process. There are a number of "training" chopsticks you can buy for kids, or you can make your own.  Most Chinese kids don't master chopsticks properly until they're 5 or 6, so I've got plenty of time. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April is Grilled Cheese Month! Tuna Melt Time!

Between the warm weather finally coming in around here, and the latest Saveur issue featuring nothing but sandwiches, sandwiches, glorious sandwiches, Foodgoat has been on a big sandwich kick lately.

And what good is a sandwich without some melty cheese?

April happens to be National Grilled Cheese Month, though as far as I am concerned, every month is grilled cheese month.  It's always good, no matter what the weather. 

The other day  Foodgoat made this wonderful, wonderful tuna melt, made with Applewood cheddar, each delicious layer broiled to hot melted goodness.  While making it he asked me if there was such a thing as too much melted cheese, and I reminded him of his own Theorem of the Cheesy Ratio, which states that yes, one can have too much cheese.    However, he clarified his theorem by stating one cannot have too much melted cheese.  If a sandwich has a lot of cheese and only some layers are melted while some remain (very sadly) unmelted, that's too much cheese.  But if all the layers are properly, deliciously melted ... well, who's to say what the limit is?

Even GoatSpawn would concur with that analysis of cheesy ratio. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blue Ice Cream!

GoatSpawn loves ice cream, and her favorite flavor is Blue Cosmo from Mitchells's.  According to Mitchell's, a few years ago they got tired of telling kids who ordered "blue ice cream" that they didn't have anything that was blue, so they came up with a blue ice cream flavor.  Blue Cosmo is cotton candy flavored and includes a ribbon of homemade marshmallow.  It's definitely a kid flavor!

I don't ever remember having blue ice cream as a kid, but Foodgoat remembers his favorite flavor as a child being something called Blue Moon.  It was only available at one local ice cream parlor - what was previously known as Helen Hutchley's - but it turns out it's a regional specialty.  Blue Moon ice cream is a bright blue ice cream flavor pretty much seen only in the upper Midwest area of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and sometimes in other nearby states, including Ohio. The flavor dates back the 1930s and varies in its ingredients and taste notes.  Foodgoat once heard of another ice cream shop that offered blue moon ice cream and found that it was completely different from what he was familiar with.  But one description of the taste, which Foodgoat confirms his version was like, is that it tasted like the milk left over from Froot Loops. That doesn't so bad, though not really as good as cotton candy flavored. 

Blue Moon ice cream still seems to have a following - you can buy some on Amazon strangely enough.  For now though, GoatSpawn seems pretty happy with her Blue Cosmo.  Maybe it doesn't even matter too much what it tastes like, as long as it's sweet and it's blue.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tryout Tuesday: Le Oui Oui Crepe Cafe

Way back in the day, Foodgoat and I used to eat out a lot more, and we would try a different restaurant every Tuesday.  Ahh, the things you can do when you don't have a baby in tow.

Last February though, Le Oui Oui Crepe Cafe  opened near where I work, and who can resist crepes?  The owner, a former costume designer, street performer, and bona fide Parisienne,  previously ran two other crepes places in Ohio City, neither of which I had been to, but seemed well liked so I was anxious to give it a go.

Le Oui Oui is ... minimal.  It's not so much a restaurant as a takeout stand with a couple of tables.  The menu is brief - a couple of choices for savory crepes, a couple of egg version, and some sweet dessert crepes, though of course one can customize.  But what it lacks in choice it seems to make up for taste - the crepe I had, goat cheese, tomato, and spinach - was really, very good.  The crepe was light and delicious, the ingredients were fresh and bright.  A perfect springtime lunch. 

I was all set to make it a regular lunchtime stop when I found it that it's temporarily closing in a couple of days - on April 16!  According to their Facebook face, they are working to "secure a more intimate location in the Circle" and that they "hope to be at a new space before the CWRU new school year".  That is months and months away!  Oh well!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Daddy Burrito, Baby Burrito

One of the reasons I love our not-frequent-enough West Side Market trips is that at the end, we stop by Ohio City Burrito to pick up lunch.  There aren't a lot of Mexican options around me (and the one time we thought we'd give El Rodeo in Mayfield Heights another go, we found that it had closed!), so Ohio City Burrito is just about the only place we can look forward to having burritos.

I'm partial to naked burritos (all the burrito parts in a bowl instead of wrapped up in a tortilla) with the Grandma salsa, which is not at all hot but is sweet and very tasty.

Usually, GoatSpawn nibbles off of our burritos, but last week, we noticed that they also have baby burritos - a small soft taco with beans, cheese and salsa.  How cute is that?  So now everyone can have their own!