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 pulled pork and 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.

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

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

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!!

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand Ready Sauce for Korean BBQ Stir-Fry

Dude. Dude. Dude. OK, so if you've read this blog or know me in person, you probably know that since the age of 12 or so, when I got seriously diagnosed with NUT ALLERGY BAD NUT ALLERGY, I've been on the quest for nut-free Chinese food. And not crap Chinese food, but stuff that actually tastes like the (takeout) Chinese food of my youth. However, I have been mostly unsuccessful (mild success came with Yoshinoya Beef Bowl's fried rice (RIP West coast life) and this frozen Innovasian chicken and broccoli meal, but after many attempts, I've generally come up short. Since I am usually in search of (Chinese) lo mein or fried rice or chicken and broc, I never would have thought to try this packet of Korean BBQ stir fry sauce on my own. However, blessedly, it was sent in my monthly Degustabox (fun food sub box). First downer: I have to buy meat, onions, and veg if I want veg. So this is a commitment. Then I need to marinate the meat for two hours. Whew. And they say to buy "flank steak", and I'm not very familiar with cuts of beef, being a mostly poultry-only girl left to my own devices. The only flank steak is over 10 bucks a pound at my store! Good lord! But, since the only potential alternative (London Broil Top Cut) looked really different, I bit the bullet and spent the 10 bucks for this meat, then came home and made rice and cut veg and marinated it up and stir fried the heck outta this thing! (The cooking itself took less than 10 min, which was crazy, and I don't have a meat thermometer so I was a little scared and did it on the longer side, like 8min total). And...and....it tastes EXACTLY like the beef teriyaki I used to get as a kiddo! Chewy beef pieces skewered with a wooden stick. Now as a kid this wasn't my favorite Chinese dish, my parents always ordered it, but damn if it didn't bring tears to my eyes to taste a so similar thing!!! I think it must be partially the cut of meat (damn you, beautiful chewy 10 dollar meat), but the sauce is also a really similar flavor, and it's just really great to have this. Ahhh. I think it came out well; even though I used a little less meat than called for and so I had a fairly saucy dish, when it's over rice it isn't too overwhelming or too sweet or anything like that at all. Just great. What a fun surprise! I might have to buy this again, even given the expense, maybe to make for my loved ones (i.e. parents and bf (separately)) to get their reaction. Woo! Cooking success high! :)

Overall
Cost: 3/10 (about 3$ for the sauce, which is OK, but see my meat stress above -- though I'm sure you can use other meats or veg or something instead)
Taste: 9/10 (as a meal, the sauce on its own didn't wow me, although it is good)
Nostalgia: 10/10

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Welch's Fruit 'n Yogurt Snacks - Cherry

These are pretty tasty little "fruit" snacks. To be honest, they taste more like a candy than a snack (very sweet and vaguely white-chocolatey), but they have some vitamin C and are low calorie, so I guess that's alright. The taste is a little like a cherry twizzer with the white-chocolate coating from Flipz Pretzels (RIP the days when I could eat Flipz Pretzels), and the texture is soft and a little chewy, but not too much (kind of like cookie dough bites...RIP the days when I could eat cookie dough bites). So these are a nice treat, technically not candy, and nut free! The strawberry flavor is good too. I'm here for it, Welch's.



Overall
Cost: 8/10 (about 2$ for 8 packs)
Taste: 7/10

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Tasty Organic Fruity Snacks - Super Fruit

Clever move(?) to call the brand "Tasty", but these didn't really win me over. The taste is fine, I guess, a generic fruit snack taste, and they have no major allergens, which is great, but they are also vegan, i.e. without gelatin. And whatever they used to make these chewy, I think they really overdid it, because these are super sticky/chewy. They also made me feel a little itchy, which could be entirely unrelated, but they weren't good enough for me to hazard a second trying of them. So, I recommend you avoid these!

Overall
Cost: 4/10
Taste: 4/10 (if we include texture in taste, which we (I) do)




Qdoba

I guess I've been on a Mexican kick lately! Anyway, my roomie texted me a picture of their brisket ad (which had a dumb pun in it), so I decided to give their new brisket a try! Alas, the brisket was bad! It was a little sweet, a little dry, and super weird. The flavor just did not match any burrito type ingredients at all. However, they did give me a good amount! For 8.40 I got meat, rice, veg, guac, queso on the side, and 2 salsas. It was super filling, and apart from the weird brisket, pretty tasty too. Definitely better than Moe's (although the queso is yellow and not sweet sweet white), and if you're sick of that distinct Chipotle flavor, this is a nice alternative. I will definitely try another protein option here soon!

Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 7/10

Del Pez Mexican Gastropub

I went here with my dad, kind of assuming I wouldn't like it since nothing on the dinner menu struck me as looking great (even though the lunch menu has an intriguing breakfast burrito on it, note to future self). But it really exceeded my expectations! First and most importantly, they have a nut logo on their menu for nut things, which there was only one of, and the nut was pepitas (i.e. pumpkin seeds i.e. not even a nut)! I asked the server and she said they don't use any nut ingredients in the whole restaurant. Um, amazing. Anyway, we ordered the salsa sampler as an app, and the chips were very tasty (and they brought out refills) and the three salsas (red, corny pico, and green) were all really unique and all good. I got a white sangria which was great, and a chicken chimichanga which came with tasty rice and was super filling and delicious (although not healthy, oops). Pops got beef enchiladas which looked like cute sushi rolls, and I think he liked it. Plus we sat outside which is always fun and pleasant. I will definitely go back if I can convince someone to come! They have good 3-6pm MF happy hour deals too (both food and drink).

Overall
Cost: 6/10 (not super cheap entrees, but some good deals if you get them)
Taste: 8/10

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Starburst Tropical Fruit Chews

My roommate won (by losing) trivia and brought these home, so I made sure to sample one of each flavor so I could give a review! I serve you, the people.

Mango Melon - Not much mango, quite a lot of melon. A strong watermelon-y flavor, but I actually like this one! It's not as sour as some watermelon candies. A unique flavor that feels somehow familiar.
Piña Colada- At first I thought 'ew', but then it went from coconut (which is weird in chew form) to juicy pineapple, and I thought "maybe this is not so bad". A strong bright flavor, and pretty darn accurate. The most prevalent flavor by far in the mix, so I hope you like coconut/pineapple/a little whipped cream in your Starburst. 
Strawberry Banana - First thought: eww, this is weird. Second thought: OK, OK, it's not so bad. A little creamy, tastes kind of like the strawberry chewy runt (the pink one, if I remember correctly). Third thought: I guess this one is pretty good!
Cherry Kiwi - Just like cherry in the regular mix, this is the best flavor here. It also tastes basically like cherry, anyway. I guess there's a little kiwi flavor, which isn't really adding much, but it's fine. Super sugary, like Minute Maid cherry limeade.

In conclusion, these were all unique, strong flavors that grew on me after chewing. They might be a bit much after a whole bag, but for a stick of starburst, I think I like these even better than the regular ones!!

Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 7/10

Homefree Mini Cookies - Chocolate Chip

Sadly, these are not great. I like the lemon homefree cookies a lot (which are also multi-allergy friendly), but these definitely have a gluten-free taste. They are not very sweet, not buttery, not chocolately, not indulgent, yet still somehow 150cals for a little bag of 4-5 cookies. I feel pity for gluten free-ers who crave chocolate chip cookies because this is not satisfying at all! It does have cute packaging and of course it is nice that they are so inclusive, though! Plus the texture is nice and crunchy.





Overall
Cost: 4/10
Taste: 5/10 (it's still a cookie)

Goya Tostones Chips - Original

I like Goya! And these were fine, but less healthy than either a plaintain or a potato chip, but not any better than either of those things (maybe worse if I'm being true to myself). So although these are fun because they're something a little different, and Goya is always really cheap which I appreciate, I wouldn't get these again (but they are unobjectionable). 

Overall
Cost: 8/10
Taste: 5/10

Thursday, September 7, 2017

You Love Fruit Fruit Leather - Passion Fruit Punch

I do love fruit! And I'll say that this was pretty good. The format is this: 16 circles of thin chewy fruit between 2 sheets of waxy paper. I like this format. First of all, it felt like a substantial snack (at 90 calories!) and also an activity. I can imagine kids and also me being entertained by this snack. The taste is pretty good, mango and passionfruity (you can't taste the random artichoke flour is what I'm saying), although I don't love passion fruit so I might prefer a different flavor. This is a lot of fun, though, and I recommend it. Definitely tastier than those thicker, mealier "fruit bars".




Overall
Cost: 6/10
Taste: 8/10

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Subway

Since I'm apparently in a big breakfast-all-day kick, I would be remiss not to mention Subway, one of the few national chains that offers the glorious all day breakfast (at least at most of their locations). They also offer regular lunch subs, and sometimes soups and pizzas and salads and (new!) wraps, but really it's a sub place. They also have frequent deals which appeal to me (sub of the day, sub of the month, etc) and those special edition Lay's flavors. So there are a lot of good things here. The only nuts are in the cookies, which are kept in a case, so I generally feel pretty safe about it, too. Subway has a very distinctive smell, and to be honest, it doesn't taste that good, but it's filling, fast, highly customizable, and healthy-ish. Whenever I don't know what I want to eat, I get Subway instead.

Turkey Breast: This is "old reliable". Good hot or cold, with wheat or white bread, pickles or cucumber, it's a solid contender.

Subway Club: I love that this has roast beef! The other meats are "whatever" but somehow this is still under 400 calories with delicious roast beef. Pairs with yellow mustard and american cheese (IMO).

Ham, Egg, and Cheese: Good for that breakfast mood, especially with spinach and tomato and mustard. You have to go with flatbread for this one. White and yellow egg are basically the same, so get white!

Overall
Cost: 7/10 (Around 6$ for two meals, although I miss those 5, 5 dollar, 5 dollar footlong days)
Taste: 7/10

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Good Health Kettle Chips with Avocado Oil - Sea Salt

These were better than I expected, since I don't really like plain/salt potato chips because they're super boring and not "worth" the calories so to speak, but the avocado oil seems to add a little of its own flavor here. These are thin and crunchy and definitely potatoey and salty with a little note of "avocado" flavor, which tastes kind of buttery and maybe somehow sour? Among plain chips these are definitely some of the best I've had. Too bad they're still plain chips in the end! Would be interested in the BBQ variety for sure though.




Overall
Cost: 5/10
Taste: 5/10

Friday, August 25, 2017

Metro Diner

Hey, I'm all about that breakfast-all-day life! So this place was extremely crowded (on a Friday at 5) but I think that's because it's new and small, not because it's good. I mean, they're only open until 8pm, what kind of diner is that? At least they have that sweet, sweet breakfast and they don't use peanut oil. I got a veggie omelette and coffee, which were both fine but nothing outstanding. The egg was definitely overcooked. Home fries were just big over-fried potato chunks (no seasoning), but the toast was good because it didn't have too much butter and there were unconventional jam choices at the table (blackberry! orange!). The menu didn't impress me much either, but this place is alright if you want a diner experience in Newark that isn't Perkins I guess (although it is still a chain, don't be fooled).

Mike says: average. nice waitress, old people.

Overall
Cost: 7/10 [about 15 dollars, including coffee and tip]
Taste: 5/10