Saturday, August 11, 2007

Food In the News

  • Cricket

  • Wasted in Berlin

  • Sources:

    "Meanwhile, one last word on jellybeans: we do it, too", The Indian Express, Yahoo! India > Sports > Cricket, August 12, 2007

    "Wasted in Berlin: 'Drink, Don't Think' ", by Markus Deggerich in Berlin, Spiegel Online International, English Site > Germany > Berlin, Poor but Sexy, August 6, 2007,

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Casbah Falafel Mix

    I was shopping at Carr's / Safeway the other day. I happened to look at the bottom shelf in the rice aisle and noticed all these interesting brands I'd never heard of before [including the previously mentioned Lunbgerg risotto]. I decided to buy a box of Casbah Falafel Mix on the spot.My roommates were to be my guineas pigs that night *waves to the guys*.

    The instructions called for mixing in 1 cup of water and forming patties. An initial taste of the batter made me realize it was too grainy tasting to please my meat and potato loving men. I added whole milk ricotta, Gorgonzola cream sauce, black beans, chunky salsa, and fresh chopped garlic, onions and tomatoes to the batter. I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil for frying.

    I should add that one of my roommates is a mischievous Bulgarian. I had turned my back on the pan for one second. The next thing I knew he was at the stove with a bottle in hand [ "Bwa ha ha, this needs pehhhhhhper ! Lots of hot spicy red pehhhhhhhper ! *Count Von Count laugh* That's how we like it in Bulgaria !"] The red pepper flakes were the perfect addition to the falafel. The only thing missing was some cucumber yogurt sauce. I wish I had thought to make a batch of it.

    Overall, the falafel was a big hit at my apartment. I definitely plan to buy Casbah Falafel Mix again.

    **I know at least one of you must be singing "Rock the Casbah !" after reading this post.

    Lundberg Risotto: Butternut Squash

    Lundberg's risotto mix is outstanding! It is slightly creamy, with a tantalizing, mouth pleasing butternut squash ambiance. The package is small, but makes a lot more risotto than expected. I suggest serving it with spicy jerky chicken, red grapes and a good bottle of wine. The flavors play off each other magnificently. Two thumbs up for Lunberg!

    Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls: Bacon

    Let's try an experiment. Go in your kitchen and look for a bottle of Bacon Bits. Found it ? Great ! Now open it up and gulp down the whole thing. Not too pleasant, eh ? That is the closest comparison I can give to Jimmy Dean's Breakfast Bowl of bacon, eggs, potatoes and cheddar.

    The amount of bacon in one bowl was astoundingly disgusting and salty. My reaction after reading the sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat count was "Holy moley, how did my heart not stop working after one spoonful ?!"

    The potatoes were rather mushy, even after being cooked in a frying pan. Yes, I am aware it is a microwave product, dear sweet Jimmy Dean lawyers / or product quality assurance folks. I don't think microwaving, sauteing or balancing it on my nose like a seal would have made a difference.

    A big fat [no pun intended] "F" goes to Jimmy Dean.

    Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli

    This Spa Cuisine Classic [TM, of course] is served "in a creamy sauce with walnuts, snap peas and carrots", plus yellow carrots and red peppers. The box proclaims "TWICE THE VEGGIES" and "NO PRESERVATIVES." Goody good for that. "But how does it taste ?" you must be wondering, mon petit chou. Well, the filling does not have a rich squash flavor. There is certainly not enough pasta in the box for my taste. Yes, I know it's called "Lean Cuisine" ; ) The walnuts are chopped up too finely. The abundance of peas and carrots overpowers the entire dish. I am not terribly impressed with Lean Cuisine's idea. It sounds tasty on paper, but it does not translate well to reality.

    Sangria Senorial [non-alcoholic Sangria]

    This drink caught my eye at the [pitifully small, 2 shelf] Mexican aisle at Carr's / Safeway. Can you tell I miss Miami ? Anyway, I gave in on my last shopping trip and bought a bottle. Big disclaimer: I have never tried real Sangria before. But I will say that the non-alcoholic version is very light on the tongue. Trying to capture and identify the taste is a fruitless effort.

    Taco Bell Fiesta Steak Bowlz

    "Mexican-Style Rice, Refried Beans, Steak Strips, Smoky Fiesta Sauce With Onions, Red Bell Peppers, and Green Bell Peppers"

    Two problems with this product:
    #1. The name. I keep reading it as "Fiesta Bowels", which makes an interesting commentary on the quality of this product.
    #2. The package says "steak strips." Yeah, I'm not seeing any of those here. What I have is a big bowl of refried beans, smushed rice and what looks like onion soup with just a tiny pinch of meat thrown in. There's no such thing as 1/8 x 1/8 inch steak strips, y'all. It's pitiful to look at. I give this product a big thumbs down.

    **I see I'm not alone in my disdain:

  • Bonnie Tandy Leblang's review, Taco Bell's Bowlz are boring, short on meat, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)April 25,2007
  • Wolfgang Puck's Pizza

    The grocery store I currently shop at is not where one would expect to find gourmet products. So I was surprised to come across Wolfgang Puck's All Natural Four Cheese, Tomato and Pesto Pizza. The four cheeses are mozzarella, fontina, parmesan and goat cheese. Huge props for that combination and the soft, thick crust. It cooked rather quickly, too.

    However, the tomatoes were soggy. This pizza would have been perfect if it had been topped with the sweet, succulent tomatoes Amy's Organic uses. Also, the pie is rather small at 12.25 ounces. One of my roommates and I polished it off very quickly [Yes, I had three slices. Shush.].

    Seven dollars for one tiny pizza is rather extravagant. I could have bought a bigger, albeit less tasty, one from Pizza Hut or Red Barron. It is unfortunate,but this yummy masterpiece is probably a one time buy for me. It seems impractical to purchase something so small and expensive unless you are eating alone or have a small appetite.

    Book Review: Tender At The Bone

    Ruth Reichl's disclaimer right off the bat is that some things may have been embellished. We do not prefer to hear that from every author, as some smoke and mirrors have their place. But that initial admission earns Ruth a place in our hearts as we follow her from childhood to the early years with husband Doug. Every memory, even the painful ones, are too ethereal and delicate to analyze too closely, lest they dissolve like bubbles in midair.This book combines the guilty pleasures of An American Childhood, How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and "Strike." This is an unforgettable, must read book, to be savored in a cozy hideaway with a stash of fine chocolate and a bottle of wine.

  • Strike

  • An American Childhood

  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
  • Book Review: Candy Freak

    After reading one or two chapters of Steve Almond's Candy Freak, one is tempted to think of him as a Dave Barry kind of guy. [And there is much geeky fan girl love for Dave here] But that is not the case. Steve has a insightful, witty and thought provoking style all his own. Reaching the end of this candy filled trip is akin to deciding a third date is in order with a particular person. You come to see that Steve has his flaws, but you like those flaws as is. Candy Freak will leave you wanting more candy and more of Steve's writing.

    A rant about eggplant and squash

    Many Americans dislike squash -- and with good reason. They have only tasted the mushy, thick pieces served in a casserole called "Aunt JoJo's Squash Supreme" or "Boiled Squash Delight." It is unfortunate they have never savored the delight that is my mother's fried squash. All one needs is peeled, thinly sliced pieces of squash. Drain them on a paper towel, coat 'em properly and fry, people. Nothing to it. I'm probably missing a step or two there, but you get my point.

    Ditto for the monstrosity that is being passed off as eggplant Parmesan. There's no insult to the eyes and the palate like a big plate of spaghetti topped with a limp, mushy patty of eggplant. Great eggplant Parmesan should be able to stand out on it's own without heaps of pasta. Really, all you need to do is follow the same steps used for fried squash, then bake it with the other ingredients. And for Pete's sake, don't serve unpeeled eggplant or squash. It's like biting into fragments of plastic grocery sacks. *steps off soapbox*