Saturday, December 30, 2017

Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy

I know I already have a little entry about beers/alc I'm not allergic to, but that was from a younger me who didn't like drinking as much, so now I feel justified in giving alcoholic beverages their own entries. Unfortunately, even though its been five years, labelling on drinks hasn't improved much in the US. And there are more peanut butter beers than ever. Luckily, most companies are happy to answer questions via email.

Anyway, I always liked Leineys, even before I liked plain beer. The summer shandy is a classic. But this grapefruit version improves on the original quite a bit! It has a nice strong citrus flavor to it, a little sour and fairly sweet (but definitely not cider territories). For someone who loves sour beers and also likes citrus/wheat beers, this is a nice, mild, sweet treat. It's also only 4.2% alc so you don't get embarrassed at the club. Highly recommend! I'm not sure if this is seasonal or not, but I got it in the fall.

Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 8/10

Friday, December 29, 2017

Illy - cappuccino

This was OK, but ultimately disappointing because it had a very weird can flavor to it, like sour metal. I was hoping it would taste like coffee only, and not like can. It did have a little sugar added as well, which was nice, but the sharp can flavor was hard to avoid. I don't remember if the non-flavored one had this problem, but I don't think it was this strong. Sad.







Overall
Cost: 4/10
Taste: 4/10

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Annville Grille

I'm liking this ille-ille symmetry! Anyway, I sought this place out because I wanted to play trivia when visiting my parents. It's in downtown Annville, but there was plenty of street parking. The inside is way bigger than the outside looks; there's a big dining room and a decent sized bar room with tables and booths. This is the location of the trivia (which was great fun). They have a decent drink list, and the prices were 2-4$ a pint, which is solid. All I got to eat was the nachos with chicken (no peanut oil there), but it was quite good, with lots of melty american cheese, chicken, lettuce, tomato and jalepenos. Super filling and a great bar snack. Hopefully I'll go back and get an actual food next time, since we won a gift card!!

Chicken Parmesan: This was good! Basically standard, but came with a salad (fine), two chickens and two breads. Super filling, two meals. Good if you're in a mood for pasta time. 7/10

Coffee: It's coffee. Small but also pretty cheap. 6/10

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (Food was cheap for a bar, around 10 bucks/entree)
Taste: 7/10

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Welch's Fruit Rolls - Berry

These fruit roll-ups -- I'm sorry, "fruit rolls" -- are not quite as tasty as the fruit-roll-up brand name, but the process of unfurling a long roll of foodstuffs is equally delightful, even as a so-called adult. Plus there's the bonus that fruit is apparently the #1 ingredient in these, before even sugar, so that's nice. I don't want to delude myself into thinking these are healthy, but they sure are fun. Pretty thick, sweet, tastes like berry (grape, apple, and blueberry/raspberry notes, maybe?), a convenient and portable option; what more could you want? Plus Welch's is pretty great about not having nuts in their stuff (even though I associate them with Grape Jelly of Death).


Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 7/10

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Café Bustelo - Café con leche instant sticks

I love coffee, so this is super convenient for me -- just heat up some water and a mug, mix in this little packet (tube) and you're ready to go! It's only 80 calories, which isn't terrible, and it's very sweet/milky. However, instant coffee is actually like the 3rd ingredient here, which explains why it tastes more than hot chocolate than coffee. Don't get me wrong, it tastes really good, and there's definitely some coffee notes, but not nearly as much as I expected. I actually would prefer a little more coffee flavor because I love coffee and I might have a problem. Anyway, this is delicious, convenient, and fairly cheap, so I'm a fan.




Overall
Cost: 7/10
Taste: 8/10

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Kettle Brand Chips - Backyard BBQ

These were really nice! Very crunchy fun texture, a solid chip. The taste isn't super saturated, but they are a little smoky in a nice, BBQ-type way. Reminds me a little of a school carnival or some type of outdoor event; a bit sweet and overall a complex flavor for a BBQ chip. Not your sad indoor solo lunch chip, more of a party chip. Good vibes on this one. Plus, no nuts!






Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 7/10

illy caffé unsweetened

Coffee in a can? What will they think of next!

I like illy brand coffee-coffee quite a lot, so I was optimistic for this. And for coffee in a small, warm can, it's pretty decent. There's no milk or sugar or flavoring or anything, so it really is just some tepid coffee. If you want coffee on the go, here you go. There's a little metal aftertaste, and it's nowhere near as good as actual brewed coffee (of course), but I do like it much better than the starbucks/DD/etc prepackaged drinks I've tried, so there's that. Plus this is very stylin' and lo-cal.




Overall
Cost: 5/10 (about 2$ for 6.8oz can)
Taste: 7/10

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Birds Eye Steamfresh Rotini & Vegetables

This gave me a crazy stomachache after eating, so it lost a few points for that. Anyway, this is a very easy to cook (just plop the bag in the microwave) side dish, with decent nutrition facts, but the taste is nothing special and the noodles are weirdly soft. The veg are fine and the sauce is a little too buttery maybe? They used to make a box version of this which I liked much better. Still, if you're hungry in a pinch, this is alright, although probably not my first choice. It's decent for 2 bucks though, for sure (minus the random stomachache).




Overall
Cost: 8/10
Taste: 6/10

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Snack Artist Lite Butter Popcorn

I bought this popcorn because it was the cheapest (less than 3 dollars for 3 full size bags) and also not super unhealthy (the butter is, as they say, lite)! It basically ended up being what I expected -- no worse than any other butter lite microwave popcorn, although the taste was obviously less good than real ("real") movie popcorn or any heavy butter varieties. But I think it's not too unhealthy, either, so that's the goal with microwave popzy, isn't it? A clean canvas for any seasonings or candy you might want to throw in there. Cooking also was really straightforward, I ended up with a full bag every time and no burnt or unpopped kernels, which is pretty rare with some other brands. Good, cheap option!


Overall
Cost: 8/10 (2.79$)
Taste: 6/10

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Stove Top Turkey Stuffing

A classic for a reason, stove top stuffing is so easy to make (add water, butter, and like 5 minutes of time) and tastes consistently good. Plus, it makes a lot. The downside is that you're eating a bunch of buttery processed carb, but hey, 'tis the season. It's obviously not as good as most homemade stuffing, but since you'll find it in Thanksgiving-themed foods ("the gobbler"[wawa], "the bobbie"[capriotti's]) around the globe, it's good that it's good. I made it with much less butter than recommended (1 tbsp instead of 4), which did have a big effect on the taste, but was still fine. This makes a great base for turkey, potato, corn, etc. Happy holidays! :)



Overall
Cost: 8/10
Taste: 7/10

Monday, December 18, 2017

Giant Eagle Candied Yams

This is the pinnacle of candied yam. I'm not sure what my childhood yam brand was (I know it can't be these, because we didn't have Giant Eagle by me) but these taste just like it. Way better than Bruce's or whatever the common canned sweet yam is. This is the perfect holiday side dish. It goes great with ham, turkey, and rolls, and the sauce is so sweet and lovely but not in a gross way like some yams. The yams are so soft and dense and not really potato-y at all, which is what I want. You can smush them down into a little yam mush if you want. And they're so easy to cook! I really wish I had a Giant Eagle nearby just for these. The flavor is slightly pie-spicey, I suppose (cinnamon? nutmeg?) and a with a lot of thin, sweet sauce. It isn't syrupy or cloying at all. Long live these yams!

Overall
Cost: 7/10
Taste: 8/10

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Jennie-O's Turkey Breast Tenderloin

After a solo Thanksgiving I was looking for some small turkey bits, maybe some thighs or cutlets or something, and besides ground turkey this is all my local Acme had. So, I bought the frozen loin, curious and optimistic. I decided to make it in the slow cooker, following the instructions online, and I added some Bell's seasoning as well. Sadly, this was a big letdown. The cooking was easy, and it came out as 4 nice size hunks, but the taste was really processed and not at all like real turkey. I know it contains "up to 30% water/filler/???" but you can really tell. Like a bad smokey lunchmeat chunk, or something. Very watery and bland yet bad at the same time, even when smothered with gravy and stuffing. Will not return down this road, even if it's the only option! I'll just get a ham slice!

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (on sale for 5$, which is good for meat)
Taste: 4/10

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rothbury Farms Buttery Garlic Croutons

These are basically all you can ask for in a crouton -- nice and crunchy, not too big or too small, nice butter/garlic/spicy bread taste, but not too overwhelming, a resealable bag, and no peanuts. Not very compelling on their own, but with greens and a nice dressing, you have all you need for a good time. No issues here.







Overall
Cost: 6/10 (Maybe $2.50)
Taste: 7/10

Brother's All-Natural Fruit Crisps - Fuji Apples

I know this is, like, a Halloween size treat, but it's seriously one of the smallest single-serve snacks I've ever had. There were like 5 slices of apple in here. That said, since I know there are bigger sizes out there, the taste and texture are great. These are just dried apple pieces, no sugar or anything else added, so they aren't too sweet, they just taste like a nice apple piece. They aren't chewy or especially crunchy either, it's like biting into a wafer but the wafer is apple. I like them a lot as far as dried fruit goes.




Overall
Cost: 3/10 (maybe 1$, but you get so little)
Taste: 6/10

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Java Monster - Mean Bean

I don't really drink energy drinks, and if I did, I'd drink AMP as that's my initials (don't stalk me). However, I do drink coffee, and I like cans. So there's your background.

On first taste, this is pretty good: sweet, creamy, milky, coffee-y, but not TOO sweet like some bottled coffee drinks. On second taste/aftertaste, there's a weird sickly sour flavor, which I associate with regular Monster (maybe it's taurine)? That really brings it down. I did drink the whole can, but I wish they just made the "Java" first and not the "Monster" part, especially since I don't feel very wakeful afterwards and I wish I just had a coffee from DD instead. This is really convenient to carry with you, though, which is a plus.

Overall
Cost: 5/10 (2-3$)
Taste: 5/10

Monday, December 11, 2017

Brianna's New American Creamy Balsamic Dressing

Brianna's dressings are always solid, and they have a very stylish bottle. Ultimately this has a little too much oil and sugar for my liking (both health and taste wise) but still, a little squirt of this baby on some mixed greens and you've got a nice, tasty, classy salad. I also really like the new cap, which is a standard squeeze bottle instead of the open faced pour. Easy portion control! Not much to say about this -- a bottle lasts a long time, but I'll probably use quite a bit of it, since it's a convenient way to make a nice meal (meal in the loose sense of the word, perhaps).



Overall
Cost: 5/10 (about 3.50)
Taste: 6/10

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fuddrucker's

My first experience with a Fuddrucker's was just OK! They don't have any allergy info online, despite being a chain, which is frustrating. It's also counter service, and you can order on a touch screen, which is cool but bad for allergy questions. Was able to ask an employee if they use peanut oil though, and they said no. The menu also appears to be nut-free except the desserts and some almonds on salads.

So, I got a custom burger combo (1/3lb) with mushroom and cheese and avocado. It came with a drink and a side; I picked a side salad. Turns out this cost 14$, which seems like way too much, but maybe I ordered dumbly. Anyway, the burger was good, definitely juicy and I liked the mushrooms a lot. They also have a little toppings bar for lettuce/tomato/onion/sauce if you eat in, which is nice and it looked very clean. The side salad was generous and tasty, although I didn't get dressing because they only have Italian and ranch types (no red or orange stuff!). We also ordered to-go and they gave us for-here, but I liked eating there so it worked out. Plus they just opened, so we'll give it time.

One other downside about the touchscreen ordering though: you can't customize the salads. So I wanted a Cobb salad with no bleu cheese but there was no way to order this! Otherwise the venue is chill.

Overall
Cost: 4/10 (10-20$)
Taste: 6/10

Q says: Pretty good, I liked it. 7/10

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Iron Hill Brewery

I've always liked Iron Hill; they have good, nice food and good fun beer. Whenever I tell them I have a nut allergy, they're responsive and comforting about it. But today I went with my parents and the waiter was like "OK but is it a serious allergy? Because we have nuts all over the place!!" and I was like "?????!!!!". But I didn't die and they also have an allergy menu and I think that guy might just be new or something. Anyway, don't let that deter you, me. I like the margarita pizza with mushroom and spinach. I tried the ribs but they were weirdly sweet (but very tender). I got a Belgian Blonde beer and it was a solid IPA, and a Witbeer is a good standby in general. Today, since my parents were paying, I got the Flat Iron, which came with fajita veggies and a chipotle sauce. I really like flat irons, and the sauce was pretty strong mexican flavor, but it was good. It came with smoked mac 'n cheese with breadcrumbs, which was obviously good, it's mac and cheese. Mmm. I ate all of it and was pleasantly full! A solid meal.

More foods:

Pulled Pork Sandwich (Carolina style sauce): I should have gotten the St.Louis style sauce! Anyway, I got this with green salad, which is a tasty heap of spinach and carrots and light dressing. The sandwich is big, comes with sauce on the side and a lil cup of cole slaw. The cole slaw is more creamy than zingy, sadly, but it passes here since there's sauce anyway. Overall this was good, but the sauce wasn't amazing. Too mustardy, maybe, not sweet enough? (I know that's what carolina style is, but I've had better!!)

Reindeer's Revenge beer: This beer was a cool 9+%, so I don't remember much about it, but I got two so it must have been decent.

Overall
Cost: 4/10 (about 15-20 a meal)
Taste: 7/10

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MOD pizza

I was so happy that a MOD finally opened near me!!! It's only natural to give pizza the chipotle/subway/saladworks treatment, and I'm so into it. Mine also has shakes, salads, and random quinoa bowls (and charcuterie plates), none of which contain nuts (some are may-contains though). What a beautiful thing. The prices are also fixed no matter so many toppings you add, like Qdoba, which is good for a girl like me who loves toppings but wants to get the cheapest option always. Anyway, it isn't Jimmy-Johns fast, but for a pizza it's pretty fast (about 5 minutes). The price is about 8 bucks, which is OK. They have a ton of veg options, though, plus seasonal things, plus garlic!! Plus shakes!! God is good.

I thought even though I love the custom life I should try some of the premades too, so here goes:

Dillon James: This has garlic, asiago, and tomatoes. I love garlic but I think I don't love asiago, and something in this bad boy tasted a little soapy?? Hopefully the asiago and not the tomatoes or crust, but further eating will reveal the truth. Anyway, not into it, boring and too much asiag. Garlic is amazing though. And the basil was just "there" -- maybe that's the soaper? Hmm. 5/10

Kane (winter seasonal): A spicy pizza! Mostly tasted like roni, hot pepper, and maybe a bit of onion. Overall I really enjoyed it, but I made sure to get it without gorgonzola, which I dislike. Pretty solid and not at all soapy! 7/10

Custom: I got a standard red/mozz base with garlic puree too (amazing) and the seasonal cauliflower (good) and kale (spinach is better) along with classic standbys mushroom (good, needs more!) and brocco (fine). A solid pizza, super good. 8/10

Jasper: I got extra garlic on this, yom. Otherwise it just has mushrooms (classic) and sausage (yum). Tastes like the pizza you think of when you think of pizza! Delicious. Maybe a little stomachachey though. 8/10

Peppermint milkshake: Is there anything better in this world? If you have a nut allergy you know how nice it is to have a dessert. This is white mint cream vanilla-y shake goodness with little candy-cane chips in it. It's refreshing and decadent! Also like 800 cals but shhh. 9/10

Failure to get Lucy Sunshine: Went today and it was super crowded and they assumed everyone wanted a custom and also they didn't give out the pizzas in order once they came out of the oven and my boyf who ordered after me got his like 20 minutes before me and it was bad. But the pizza (brocco, garlic, mushroom, artichoke) still tasted good once it was re-heated.

Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 8/10
Ethos: 10/10

Q says: The girl* was bad.

*The girl doesn't mean me, it means the employee.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Suckerpunch Gourmet Pickles - Spicy Garlic Originals

Caveat: I don't like pickles. I never liked them, but they are a little more palatable than olives, so I've been trying to increase my pickle affinity by mere exposure. (It worked (too well) for coffee, alcohol, and avocado, after all). So far I'm OK with your standard circle of dill pickle that you'd get on a burger, but these are a little more interesting. The appearance of this jar is super stylin', and there's lots of fun peppers and seasonings and things floating around in the jar. It also states that there are "no allergens", which is a weird thing to say, but I assume that it means "no top 8 allergens" -- good enough for me. However, the taste isn't what I expected!! They are kind of sweet!! Yikes. I'm not sure if I'll be able to finish this (large) jar, but they are sweet, thick, crunchy pickles. They are also fairly spicy, though I'm not getting much garlic taste. If you are a pickle fan, check them out! If you aren't...stop fooling yourself and just buy a cucumber.

Overall
Cost: 4/10 (I think these are about 5$)
Taste: 4/10

Monday, December 4, 2017

Carrington Farms Organic Toasted Quinoa

I've had cooked quinoa a few times (only a few because it's so much work) and I really like it, but this is a totally different beast. Toasted quinoa touts its "nutty flavor" right on the bag, which sketches me out, but the ingredients here are 100% quinoa, so it is safe. You also don't need to rinse or boil or mess with this in any way. OK, cool. So right out of the bag, initially, I was like "this tastes like bird food, blech", but then I started to get hungry and I got into eating this by the spoonful. It is a little bit nutty (I imagine) and grainy. As you might expect, I suppose. But it feels healthy (ha ha) and filling and is very convenient. The actual balls are super tiny, but not so tough that you can't chew them (they aren't popcorn husks). I might try popping this in some yogurt or stuffing or something later, but even on its own I could probably eat this whole bag. I'm not really lacking for protein or fiber, but if you are veg, this could be super convenient to just throw in different meals.

Overall
Cost: 3/10 (It's like $7.50 dude)
Taste: 5/10

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Vermont Nut Free Advent Calendar - Dark Chocolate


Aww, my parents got me this, which is super sweet of them since it's nut free and all. However, I don't LOVE dark chocolate enough to look forward to it every day (don't tell them). Still, the setup is super cute. At first I thought each day's choco would be identical, and while food-wise they are, each is wrapped in different color foil and the molds are different. They are all squares but one has a raised snowman, one a santa, one a wreath, etc. The taste is basically "standard dark chocolate", which is fine and I guess healthier than milk choco(?) but it's not exotic or salted or creamy or anything that makes me go "wow! a special treat!. Despite that, the conceit of one-a-day candy is lovely, and they do make a milk chocolate one which is probably even better.

Overall
Cost: 5/10 (about 15$)
Taste: 6/10

Friday, December 1, 2017

Seasons Pizza

Seasons Pizza is the diner of pizza places. I mean they really have everything, and it's at an affordable price. They are also a chain with online ordering/delivery/takeout/eatin, which I appreciate. What I don't appreciate is their total lack of allergy info, and their lack of response to my emails and messages asking for any allergy info. So I've only ordered things that I'm fairly sure won't have any nuts, which is quite limiting. But if you want a cheap, so-so Italian takeout chain, this is the place for you. The interior of mine is pretty chill as well; my friend Marie likened it to a nightclub.

I ordered today a cheeseburger with a side of steamed broccoli (it was a 7.50 lunch combo), and this was adequate. The broc was actually the star, since it was moist and heavily seasoned with salt and garlic and herbs, but still fresh tasting. The burger was OK, standard thicker burger with lettuce and tomato and I loaded on the ketch. I ate it all and didn't vom, so that's a win! 6/10

Overall
Cost: 8/10
Taste: 6/10

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Taverna

So, I freakin' love this place. If anyone asks for my favorite restaurant on Main Street in Newark, this is it. The only reason I don't go there often is that it's fairly nice, and so I'd feel weird going alone. To be honest, it's also pretty pricy (but I feel it is worth it). Anyway, I went last night after my dissertation defense (no big deal), and ordered the RICOTTA CAVATELLI which is some little dense noodle tubes with a cream sauce, some pulled pork, some little ricotta chunks, and onions. Kind of a weird mix but it was tasty as always (8/10) and also filling (gave me two meals!). To be fair, I also got the antipasto appetizer, which came with broccoli rabe, prosciutto, and mozzarella, plus some tiny bread toasts. It was tasty as always (8/10) but I mean,  it's meat and cheese. And then they always bring you bread and some tomato oil to dip, which is great as well. What a great place. I wish I had room/social bravery to get dessert!!

calamarata: these are thick noodle tubes with a cream tomato sauce, spinach, and chicken. it's OK (duh) but I don't actually love the sauce. I will try to remember to get something else next time, because it's a little bland. the plus side is that the portion is very large! 6/10

Overall
Cost: 4/10
Taste: 8/10

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sinclair's Cafe

A hidden gem in Newark, except perhaps not that hidden because it's always packed whenever I wake up early enough to go. Anyway, there aren't many places to get breakfast during the week, so this is a much-needed spot. They have eggs, pancakes, french toast, etc, along with a few lunch sandwich options too. The coffee is good, the service is friendly, and overall I like it. They also rotate out their pancake/french toast flavors every week, which is fun. I got an omelette where you can pick your own cheese, meat, and 3 veg, and it was good. The meat and veg are just chopped into squares and stuck in there after cooking the egg, it seems like, which is kind of weird and chunky, but whatever, it tasted good. A weird option they have is to mix all the stuff together, but it costs an extra dollar, so I refuse. Anyway the omelette comes with wheat toast that looks nutty but isn't (and there's jam on the table, it's a party) and some home fries that have a unique curry-ish spice. I like them but it took some getting used to, and I think a lot of my friends don't like it.

Overall
Cost: 5/10 (about 8-10$ per meal)
Taste: 7/10

Saturday, November 25, 2017

7 Monkeys Plantain Chips - Sweet Sea Salt

This packaging is adorable, but also, I think these are really good! They're fairly thin for a plantain chip, although still crispy, and the sweet/salty combo is perfect here. They're salted and the sweetness just comes from the fact that it's plantains, which is nice. Unfortunately, these aren't super healthy, and this single-serve (supposedly) bag is 429 calories, 13g satfat. So I can see why it tastes good. But if you're looking for a mild indulgence, this is a fun, unique, and portable one! Plus it's from Ecuador, which is like, totally multicultural.



Overall
Cost: 7/10 (about 1.50)
Taste: 8/10

Q says: They're OK.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Dum-Dums Holiday Pops

I bought these for my students to enjoy, but only a few of them even wanted one. Ha ha, more for me! Anyway, these are free of all the top-8 allergens, which makes them a good school snack. They also are super nut free, which is chill. And you know I'm a sucker for dumb seasonal limited edition flavors, so I was excited to give these a try. I think ultimately I prefer regular dum dums, but these were still decent.


Merry Cherry: I feel like I've had this flavor before as a dum dum? Anyway, it's definitely a "cherry" flavor, not super sweet, and giving me vague medicinal vibes. Not my favorite cherry candy in the world, that's for sure. 5/10

Sugar Plum: What is a sugar plum? Just a sweeter plum? I guess that's this...it has a bit of a burnt/caramel flavor, kind of like a raspberry tootsie pop. Not super sweet. I kind of like it. Definitely unique/interesting. 7/10

Hot Chocolate: At first I thought it was weird to have a chocolate lollipop flavor, but this tastes a lot like the chocolate tootsie pop, which is fine. Not my favorite, but fine. Like the others, this is a pretty good likeness -- it really tastes like hot chocolate powder, down to those little grainy marshmallows. I already don't love hot chocolate but if you do I bet you'll like this. 6/10

Sugar Cookie: I guess this tasted like a sugar cookie, but the execution wasn't there for me -- something was a little off, too artificial perhaps? 4/10

Gingerbread: Yikes. Normally I love ginger/gingerbread, but I guess I wasn't expecting it in a dum-dum. This has an authentic, strong ginger flavor, like a sweet ginger tea. But I don't like it as a lollipop. Don't know why. I guess I just want a cookie instead! 4/10

Apple Cider: Tastes just like apple cider. Unlike gingerbread, this isomorphism works for me, because my lollipop saliva is basically liquid. So...yeah. 8/10

Green Apple Crunch: Not really sure what the crunch is supposed to mean, but this is a strong, clear, sweet green apple flavor. Maybe caramel apple is the idea? Not sure. I do like it though. 8/10

Polar Punch: Feels like a mix of bubble gum and a less tart blue raspberry. Like a blue icee! It's OK. 5/10

Mystery: This had a cute santa on the wrapper, which I love. was also bright blue, so I'm guessing mainly polar punch for this one! Which is OK. This was a little sweeter than the polar punch proper, which I think I preferred. 6/10


Overall
Cost: 8/10 (Only 2.50 at Walgreens!)
Taste: 6/10

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lay's Fried Green Tomato Chips


Yikes! I like trying the fun new flavors Lay's periodically comes out with, especially because they usually have the small bags of them available at Subway, where I guess I spend a lot of time. But this year's offerings didn't wow me. First up we have these fried green tomato chips, which sounded good, but instead had a strong flavor of...plant? Tomato stem? I'm not sure, but I don't like it, and it didn't really taste like tomato. I did get that Lay's cat litter vibe, too. On the plus side, the ruffles are fun! And, inexplicably, my boyfriend likes these.



Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 3/10

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Goya Mild Salsa - Pico De Gallo

I don't usually love jarred salsas, but this one is fairly unique as jarred salsas go. It's quite watery and also pretty spicy for something with the 'mild' moniker. Otherwise, this is a standard tomato/pepper/onion mix. It's more salsa than pico, in that there's plenty of salty dark tomato paste, but I think that's probably what most people are looking for. Plus the jar looks pretty stylish! It also stays good for weeks in the fridge, so this is a very convenient snack to have around for chips/tacos/etc.

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (about 2.30)
Taste: 5/10


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Kernel Season's White Cheddar Seasoning

Popcorn do-it-yourself seasoning is a really cute idea, so I was happy to get these. However, the execution was a little bit disappointing. I wasn't sure how much to put on (they don't give you any instruction!) and I put on at first not enough to taste it, and then I think I put on too much (a good 10 seconds of shaking is too much). The flavor was at first not especially good -- very artificial and not very cheesy. I was hoping for something like a snack cracker topping, but this was more like store brand parmesan cheese maybe. Anyway, after I got to eating a little bit more I got accustomed to the flavor and started to enjoy it, so that was all right. I liked to dip the popcorn in the leftover seasoning, of which there was a lot, because of my earlier confusion. Like I said, I think this is a fun and unique idea, so I'd be happy to try other flavors in the future!

Overall
Cost: 5/10
Taste: 5/10

Q says: It wasn't good.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Grown in Idaho - Crispy Hash Brown Dices

I'm not sure if I was just hungry, or if I jazzed these up particularly well, but I found these potato wedges a lot tastier than the steak fries from the same brand! Plus, they're super fast to cook -- just 4 minutes in a frying pan with a little oil. I also added green pepper, cheese, and egg, but I feel like these are super versatile and could go with a lot of things. The taste is  basically just pure potato, and unlike the fries these are all basically the same size/shape (little cubes). Mine weren't super crispy, but that's fine with me (maybe because I used less oil than prescribed). Plus they are super filling. I know I should try another variety next, but part of me just wants to get these again!


Overall
Cost: 6/10 (about 3.50)
Taste: 7/10

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Simply 7 Kale Chips - Sea Salt

 Well, well, well. I've had quinoa chips from this brand and they were fine, like a regular tortilla chip. But these truly are unique. I like kale, and I like chips well enough, but I can't say I liked these. Honestly, they tasted really briny. Like a funky aquarium flavor profile, which is not what I'm looking for in a chip. They had quite a lingering aftertaste, too. The flavor was more kelp than kale, even though they are made with kale powder. The texture was a standard crunchy chip, but the taste was deceptive! They are also super dark green in appearance, which is a trip. They seem quite healthy, but it's not worth it. Eat kale instead.



Overall
Cost: 5/10
Taste: 4/10



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Eat 'n Park

There is no Eat 'n Park near my house, so I have only been to one a couple of times, usually on a road trip to Ohio. They have the smiley cookie of legend, but they also have a really complete menu. Sometimes they have a nice soup/salad bar (which is fairly standard), but they also have plenty of sandwiches, burgers, seafood, pasta, and other diner-y options (although I wouldn't really call this place a diner, more like a Friendly's or Hoss's vibe). I ordered a penne pasta with sausage and chicken and peppers, and for 10 dollars it comes with garlic bread (4 toasts!) and one side (and there are so many options for the side: applesauce, cole slaw, brocco, etc). I got brocco to fulfill my veggie quota. The pasta was filling, pretty good even though the sausages were weirdly opaque. The chicken was really nice and the sauce was good. I also like their coffee and the service was very friendly! Plus they were chill about allergies and put an "allergy alert" on the receipt. Good stuff. I'm always happy to stop here.

Overall
Cost: 7/10
Taste: 8/10

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tai Pei Orange Chicken

Another Tai Pei disappointment in a cute package! OK, disappointment may be a bit harsh, but I still haven't found what I'm looking for, you know? Honestly, this was a lot like the new General Tso chicken. Contains chicken, rice, veg, and sauce. Again, unfortunately the sauce soaks way more into the rice than in the chicken! I want the chicken and veg to have way more sauce, and the rice to have way less, but I can't control this! Anyway, the sauce itself is good, a little spicy, and the veg are fine too (although I prefer the carrots in Tso's to the waterchestnuts here, since the waterchestnuts are just crispy things with no flavor. It's a good amount of food, about 500cals, and it feels filling. Alas, it is not chinese-craving-fulfilling, though. If it's on sale I might rebuy.

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (about 3$)
Taste: 6/10

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Annie's White Cheddar Bunnies

All hail thee, king of cheese-based cracker snacks!! I'm not a huge cheez-it/goldfish/etc fan, but these are so good. Inexplicably addictive. They don't have a lot of cheese powder, but what little there is, I love. These are way better than a Cheez-it, and they are nice and puffy with a slight burnt taste and a thin shell. Kind of like Cheddar Penguins (which are also amazing), but more accessible. Plus, these are a cute bunny shape. The only struggle is portion control!





Overall
Cost: 6/10 (about 3$)
Taste: 8/10



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tai Pei General Tso's Spicy Chicken

I had previously reviewed the Tai Pei General Tso meal, but this new-container version is quite different, I think. (Sadly, I'm not sure that it's better). One great change is that there are no longer peapods, so I have no allergy issues here at all! However, this meal, though decent, is far from delicious. It could use more sauce, which is rare for a frozen meal, but there was hardly any sauce here, and the sauce was more in the rice than on the chicken, despite my best efforts. The veggies were nice and crunchy; the carrots felt like real Chinese food carrots and not terrible frozen meal carrots, which was probably the highlight. The chicken and broccoli were tasty too. The rice was clumpy and salty, perhaps a bit too saucy/salty for my taste. I would probably buy this again, but it isn't the Chinese food I'm looking for (sniff sniff).

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (around 3$)
Taste: 6/10

Monday, November 6, 2017

Grown In Idaho - Super Crispy Steak Cut Fries

These fries have been blowing up my social media because I got them for free. I've never been much of a frozen-fry girl (or even a fry girl, really), but these are super easy to make, fairly cheap, and quite filling. So I'm moderately into it. I will say that these were oddly sweeter than I was expecting, definitely sweeter than any fries I've had in a restaurant, and I wasn't really feeling that funnel cake vibe. But you put a little seasoning (garlic/salt/pepper) on these and a little ketchup (or a lot) and you're in business. There's enough in the bag for two meals of just fries. They are also fairly crispy, as advertised, although the bigger ones were a bit soft. I do like that there is a fun variety of shapes and sizes in the bag, though, and I'm excited to try other types from this line, maybe the skinnier ones. Stay tuned!

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (about 3.50)
Taste: 6/10

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Roots Natural Kitchen

This place is fairly new to Newark, and it has just one other location (so far?) at the University of Virginia. They serve "bowls", which are basically rice or greens with different veggies, proteins, or add-ons like cheese or pita chips on top, plus a variety of dressings (or just a squeeze of lime or some oil or vinegar). They have a variety of premade options with quirky names, as many places do, but you can also create your own bowl, too. That's what I do, since they do have almonds, chickpeas, and a variety of beans, plus a pesto dressing. No serious peanut or other nut ingredients, though. Anyway, I like to get kale or spinach with brown rice and avocado, brocco, sweet potato, corn, and a squeeze of lime. Sometimes I add chicken as well. This is a really filling meal and it also is pretty healthy, so I appreciate that it's around! This place is also hoppin', so I'm guessing it'll stick around.

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (ranges from 6.75 for just veggie to 8.00+ for chicken)
Taste: 7/10


Q says: Jefe! [Editor's note: El Jefe is a popular premade option!]

Friday, November 3, 2017

Big Z Pizza

Here's a local pizza place that I'm pretty sure is not a chain, but perhaps with good reason. It's fairly new (maybe 3 years old now), but I'm not sure if the particular grungy vibe of this place can be chalked up to growing pains. It's a real small hole in the wall, not super tidy, but everything is quite cheap! They also have online deals and student deals that are worth a look. The pizza is solidly mediocre, but for the price, everything is OK. If you're not up to going out or you want a quick pizza pick-up (or perhaps delivery), this is a decent choice.

Italian Stromboli: This was decent; it's big but it only comes with the tiniest cup of marinara (although I'm sure you could ask for more). The inside is strips of deli ham, onions, peppers, and mozzarella. The crust is a little too crispy/big for me, but I think I need to accept that most strombolis around here are this way. Anyhow, this was fine. 6/10

Turkey Club Sandwich: Don't get this! It had the usual club fixings, but with a lot of warm mayonnaise and bad tasting turkey. To be clear, this is a cold sandwich. Probably the worst club sandwich I've experienced! 3/10

Overall
Cost: 7/10
Taste: 5/10

Thursday, November 2, 2017

SunRype Fruit To Go Bars

These are cute little snacks, not very substantial but they taste good.  Rather than fruit leather, these are in the form of about 5-6 narrow tubes of fruitsnack stuck together, which is a little different, but the texture is ultimately the dense, chewy fruit leather type you'd expect. Overall enjoyable.

Apple Strawberry Watermelon - Definitely getting the apple flavor as a base with a strong note of watermelon, too, which is nice. The watermelon flavor is really good. Not getting a lot of strawberry, though!

Apple Wildberry - What is 'wildberry'? I mainly got notes of strawberry and grape in this one, which is funny since I didn't notice any strawberry in the one named after strawberry! But equally tasty, dense and sticky.



Overall
Cost: 8/10 (50 cents each)
Taste: 6/10

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Smartfood delight - White Cheddar popcorn

I must say, this is a nice snack to have around. I bought a big pack of single-serve bags so that I would have something to take to the office, and this served me well. They're light and just cheesy enough to be satisfying. I wish there weren't so many broken pieces at the bottom, but that might be my fault. I also like the other flavors and will probably buy more of this in the future! It may be my favorite cheese popcorn yet. Also, when I googled this I saw that it used to come in a black bag which I used to get in vending machines all the time! I think I like the new version better, even if it's exactly the same recipe. Haha. Good flavor though, not too artificial or overpowering.



Overall
Cost: 7/10
Taste: 6/10

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Jimmy John's

Even though all their chips (prepackaged) are made with peanut oil, I'm pretty sure the rest of their food is nut free. However, that doesn't mean you should be excited, because the rest of their food is also pretty mediocre. They have a line of subs "slims" which are literally just meat and bread. Do not get these. The rest are varyingly OK, but none are good. However, they are a little bit cheaper than subway, and very very fast. Often done with the sub right after you order. So that's a plus!

#5 Vito: Don't get this, it's so dry (yet still simultaneously soaked in oil and vinegar) and not satisfying, even though it has everything you'd expect from an italian sub. Somehow it is deficient. 4/10

#4 Turkey Tom: This fares a little better; the flavor is good and normal, though still not great. 6/10


Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 6/10

Q says: Bad food fast. The delivery driver was reading a book.

Goya Golden Maria Cookies (with chocolate filling)

These are cute! They're impossible to find anywhere, although the non-filled versions are available. Anyway, these are really thin with a large diameter. They are two nice vanilla-y cookies with typical cookie-like chocolate fudge filling inside. The filling doesn't go all the way to the edge, so it's perfect if you want to eat the top, then eat the edges of the bottom, then eat the filling. If that's your thing. Anyway, this roll has maybe 10 cookies in it, which is a nice size. But it's also like 1500 calories, which is definitely not worth it. If you're looking to bulk up, though, check out this acceptable product! :)




Overall
Cost: 9/10 (only 99 cents!)
Taste: 6/10

thinkfruit mix-it-up fruit snacks

This is a perfect review to do on Halloween, because these are basically candy! There's definitely added sugar, which brings this nice sized single serve bag up to like 34 grams of it or so. That said.... it does taste pretty good. But in a candy way and not a fruit way! There's blueberries (the most distinct flavor in here, but also my least favorite), cherries (yum), peaches (yum), and I think that's it. The texture is good; it isn't chewy, but like a nice clean bite (especially with the peaches). They also do a dried pineapple pack which I like even better. Anyway, get these for the flavor (which IS good) and not as a healthy snack, and you'll be doing well for yourself.

Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 7/10

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Surf Sweets Sour Worms

Yum! These are organic and vegan, which I really don't care about, but they're also tasty and nut-free, which I do. They come in two colors, orange/red and yellow/red, which I believe are grapefruit/orange and lemon/cherry respectively? I like the yellow one better, but both are good. They are only a little sour, mostly sweet, like a peach ring. And the texture is the best part -- they aren't absurdly chewy or sticky like Haribo gummies, more like a Chuckle, even down to the dusting of sugar on top (and who doesn't like a Chuckle!). There's also real fruit juice, or something. Anyway, if you are in the mood for a fruity soft candy, these hit the spot!



Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 7/10

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pasta Chips - Rosemary

These are really more like crackers than chips, and not at all like pasta, but they're OK. They taste like a thin pita chip with Italian seasonings (I guess that includes rosemary, but also salt, parsley, onion powder, probably others). A little boring, but unobjectionable. I can't imagine they'd be great with cheese, but maybe a cream cheese style dip or a spinach dip or spread would elevate these suckers!

Update: I microwaved 6 of these for 22 seconds with some shredded mozzarella and fresh basil on top, and it was pretty darn good. I wasn't sure how the microwave would effect these, but it just made them a little more crispy, which was nice. In this context, they get a 7/10! Basil saves all things.



Overall
Cost: 5/10
Taste: 5/10

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tai Pei Sweet and Sour Chicken

I want to like this, but I really feel like it would taste so much better without the peppers and carrots and onions. Maybe I'm not cut out for sweet and sour chicken in a frozen meal. Anyway, the chicken is fine, some nice little chunks in there, and a few tasty pineapples too. The sauce is maybe a little too sweet, even though there isn't super much of it. The rice is fine, moist and clumpy and fairly nondescript. I feel that the "veggies" just bring it down a lot, though. They muddle the sweet-and-sour flavor with a strong "frozen pepper and onion" flavor instead. Plus it's almost 500 calories for a fairly small portion! Hoping the other Tai Pei meals are better.

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (about 3$)
Taste: 4/10

The Better Chip - Sweet Corn

These are pretty good; better than I expected. They are smaller circles, pretty dense, not super crumbly, and surprisingly sweet. I don't even know if I'd want to dip them in your typical salsa because of that, but they are good without it, too. A real strong lardy vibe, too.  They are also 220 calories for a single-serve bag, though, which is a little rich for my day-to-day blood, but OK as a nice filling snack treat.

Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 7/10 (for a corn chip)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tai Pei Chicken Chow Mein

First off, these new containers are great. Saves me a dish AND I can eat these at school etc. Anyway, I 'm a big proponent of Tai Pei, even though I don't currently love any of their offerings, because I love the potential! They're cheap, easy, mostly fish-and-nut free, and they used to have an amazing Chicken and Brox. Sadly all of their rice dishes have peas, which I can't have, but they're always adding and changing things, so I remain subscribed to their newsletter, so to speak. (Also literally).

This one is exciting because it's noodles! Maybe it will taste like lo mein! Sadly, I've never had real chow mein so I can't really compare it to the real thing, but I will say that at minimum this doesn't taste much like lo mein. It tastes like noodles with a low-sodium soy sauce, a little sesame sauce, some very healthy-tasting chunks of chicken, and carrots/peppers/broc. So it's OK, but it's basically what I can make at home. Definitely not the Chinese food of my dreams, but honestly still a convenient, filling, decently healthy meal. As long as I ignore what could have been, I can accept this as the fine, decent, OK product that it is.

Overall
Cost: 7/10 (about 3$)
Taste: 7/10

Friday, October 6, 2017

Cow Tales Minis (Vanilla)

These are such a classically great candy. Not great like "nut free" great, but just truly great. Though they are, of course, nut free, with the little logo and everything. These have been around for a long time, and they're very similar to the caramel creme bullseyes from the same company, just a different shape. The caramel outside is floury and stiff, but creamy and sweet, which is way better than that ooey-gooey-sticky stuff. And the inner cream filling is so soft and vanilla-y, it's a perfect combo. I don't understand the people who doesn't love these! They taste great, they don't hurt your teeth, and they aren't messy. Sure, they aren't good for you, but this is candy, man! Live a little!


Overall
Cost: 6/10 (around 3 dollars for a package, or 50 cents for a single non-mini cowtale)
Taste: 8/10