Saturday, December 27, 2008

Williamsburg Pottery Factory, Lightfoot, Virginia

Williamsburg Pottery Factory
Route 60 West
Lightfoot, Virginia 23188
(757) 564-3326

Today the AMW family went to the Williamsburg Pottery Factory. My sister and I noticed a sign across from their building #22 that said "Home Care, Hardware, Wine and Cheese." It sounded like an odd combination, but what the heck. I love cheese, so how could I resist exploring ?

The first things we saw were aisles of pet care supplies. But then I noticed a doorway just past that with grocery displays. It turned out to be a big gourmet grocery, with a wine store in the back. Yay! I think there was also a bakery or a deli counter, but I don't remember which one it was.

Here's what I picked out after wandering a bit:

  • Flathau's Gourmet Cookies: Key Lime Snaps

  • For some reason, I expected a crisp, waffle-print cookie with a tart key lime taste. That's just what pops into my head when I hear "key lime snaps." What I expected and what was in the box were two different things.

    The snaps were shaped like flattened tubes. They were covered in buttery powdered sugar and tiny green flecks. The center of the cookies looked like crushed graham crackers. Apparently those were shortbread cookies.

    The cookies had a rather dry taste. There was only a tiny lime flavor present; the package listed "lime candies" as an ingredient. I do not like that. It's a peeve of mine that Persian limes (and even lemons!) are used on products labeled as key lime. Those are not the same flavors.

    Thumbs down for Flathau's Gourmet Cookies: Key Lime Snaps.

  • Hachez: Cocoa D'Arriba: Blackberry and Cocoa Nibs, 77% Cacao

  • I had high hopes for this bar. My thinking was "I love blackberries. I love chocolate. They must be good mixed together."

    When I unwrapped the bar, I was hit with a thick, artificial blackberry scent. There were cocoa nibs and little bits of blackberries mixed in with the chocolate. The dark chocolate was horribly bitter, to the point of being unenjoyable. The blackberry taste started out as a funky wine flavor and then blackberry flavored cough syrup. Eating just that one tiny square was disgusting : P

    Thumbs down for Hachez Blackberry & Cocoa Nibs.

    Lindt Peach-Apricot Yogurt Bar

    Lindt Chocolate
    MacArthur Center
    300 Monticello Avenue
    Norfolk, VA 23510
    (757) 627-5900

    "Enjoy this delicious new combination! Milk chocolate taste complemented by a delectable peach apricot yogurt filling"

    "With fruity flavorful peaches"

    Before the cheesecake debacle at MacArthur Mall, my sisters and I had visited the Lindt Chocolate store. The woman behind the counter was giving out free samples. I received my sample just as the other two were biting into the chocolate. They both made a face, but I chalked it up to them not trying chocolate covered apricots before. That's what I thought I was receiving, since it was a milk chocolate square with a bump on top.

    The filling was white, solid and had pale peach colored specks. After taking a bite, I said "This is good. I don't know why you...Never mind. Yuck. Napkin please." The peach-apricot Lindt had way more sweetness than I could stand.

    I would never eat a Lindt Peach-Apricot Yogurt Bar again. Yuck. If you're interested in trying them, I don't see a listing on Lindt's USA site.

    *ETA:SugarHog gave the peach-apricot Lindt a good review
    **1/25/13: SugarHog's site no longer exists

    Heavenly Sweets 'N' Things: Portsmouth, VA

    I need help from my Hampton Roads readers. I saw a beige-ish truck in Portsmouth today that said "Heavenly Sweets 'N' Things", with "Snacks To Go" below that. I would like to know if it's a wholesale business, a bakery or something else. I didn't see a phone number or address on the truck. Any help is appreciated!

    Cheesecake Factory, Norfolk, Virginia

    The Cheesecake Factory
    MacArthur Center
    300 Monticello Avenue
    Norfolk, VA 23510

    Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake
    "Our Original Cheesecake, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Butterfinger. Baked in a Chocolate Crust and topped with even more Reese’s and Butterfinger and finished with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Rosettes"

    My sisters and I went after Christmas shopping at MacArthur Mall yesterday. We decided to stop at The Cheesecake Factory for a pre-movie snack. I blame the fact that I hadn't eaten since 9 PM the night before for picking the peanut butter cheesecake. It looked so delicious in the glass case, with rosettes of frosting and a chocolate crust. All I thought was "Ooh, I love peanut butter, cheesecake and chocolate. Let's have 'em all together!"

    The first bite I had was raw, gooey peanut butter. Bleh. I don't want plain peanut butter in my cheesecake. Then I tasted Butterfingers, Reese's and something else. I tried one more tiny bite and gave up. There were too many flavors in one piece of cheesecake.

    I was annoyed about feeling hungry and having that awful peanut butter taste in my mouth. And that Cheesecake Factory was not serving sandwiches or salads that day. So the three of us tromped around the mall, found every single restaurant stand packed and ended up wolfing down a Mrs. Field's Cookie Sandwich, a pretzel dog and a giant Coke on the lower level.

    Thumbs down for Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake.

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    The Bier Garden, Portsmouth, Virginia

    The Bier Garden
    438 High Street, Portsmouth, Virginia 23704
    Phone: 757-393-6022
    Fax: 757-393-6021

    On a recent afternoon, the AMW family headed to downtown Portsmouth for lunch. A few choices were debated until the Bier Garden's German fare was chosen.

    The Bier Garden has a down to earth, welcoming entrance. There are three seating areas: outdoors, a heated area surrounded by a tent and indoor seating. The indoor seating, which is where we ate, had old wooden floors, wooden hutches, brick walls, a shelf of beer steins and various signs (old sayings, beer ads, etc).

    The wait for a table was very short. We were offered a seat in the tented area until a table was vacated. Our drinks were brought while we waited. Our meal order was also taken at that time.

    Once a table was available, we were moved to the indoor area. Here's what the AMW family thought of the meal:

    Crusty white rolls and butter

    The rolls were hot, warm and fresh.

    Goulash Soup: Hungarian Beef Soup

    Two people had this soup. The broth had a nice tomatoey flavor. There was plenty of tender beef in both bowls. However, only one person had vegetables in their soup.

    Lentil Soup: Lentils, Carrots, Celery

    The lentil soup was served in a glass mug. It was brown, thick and peppery. This soup was perfect on a chilly day.

    Potato Soup

    This soup was highly recommended to us by various people. However, it was not available that day.

    Brotzeit Teller: Appetizer plate of bread, German meats and cheeses

    The Brotzeit Teller was very large. It consisted of gelbwurst, bloodwurst,ham, turkey, salami, bologna, 2 spreads, Swiss, cheddar, tomato, onions, lettuce and 4 triangles of marbled bread on a wooden board.

    The bread was soft and delicious. I was pleased with the amount of cheese.

    The amount of meat was enough for several people. I didn't care for the bloodwurst and gelbwurst. Both had a jellied, overly soft taste. I liked the other meats, though.

    I'm not sure what the two spreads were. One was orange, with a tomato flavor. It was delicious on the marbled bread. The second spread had the color and flavor of mushy, uncooked hot dogs. I did not care for it.

    Over all, the AMW family was pleased with the Bier Garden. The decor was cozy. The servers were friendly and brought the food in a timely manner. The food itself was hearty and filling. A return trip is definitely in order.

    Godiva Chocoiste Pearls

    Two more purchases from Norfolk International Airport:

    Godiva Chocoiste: Milk Chocolate Pearls With Caffe Latte
    "Solid Milk Chocolates Flavored With Caffe Latte"

    I love the metal tin the Pearls come in. It's gold colored, with a silver border and images of coffee beans. Too cute!

    The candies had a delicious coffee and chocolate smell. The taste of each tiny chocolate ball was equally mouth-watering. I loved the sweet, milky flavor. I'll definitely keep some of these in my purse for snacking.

    Godiva Chocoiste: Dark Chocolate Pearls With Mandarin Orange
    "Dark Chocolate Pearls With Mandarin Orange"

    The dark chocolate Pearls have a chic, brown tin with an orange border and orange swirls.

    The richness and bitterness of the dark chocolate was perfect. I didn't care for the orange flavor, though. The chocolate and orange flavors clashed terribly. I won't buy this variety again.

    Welch's Blueberry Fruit 'N Yogurt Snacks

    Tonight I purchased Welch's Fruit 'N Yogurt Snacks at Norfolk International Airport. The package shows clusters of plump blueberries and yogurt clusters. The label promises "Delicious Fruit Centers Surrounded by Creamy Yogurt."

    The yogurt coating was decent. It wasn't overly sweet.

    Beneath the white yogurt was a brown, crumbly layer. I have no idea what it was made of.

    Under the brown layer was a purple, gummy lump. I thought it had a sickly sweet grape taste. I didn't notice any blueberry flavor. The ingredient list gave me an explanation: "...Fruit Puree (Grape, Apple, Blueberry), Juice Concentrates (Grape and Pineapple)..."

    Thumbs down for Welch's Blueberry Fruit 'N Yogurt Snacks.

    Cinnabon Cinnamon Mousse Pecan Clusters

    I bought the Cinnabon Clusters at a gas station in Manning, South Carolina. The label on each cluster promised "Rich Makara Cinnamon Mousse Topped With Crunchy Glazed Pecans and Toffee Bits Drenched in Dark Chocolate Goodness" and "Flavor That Warms the Soul."

    The Cinnabon Clusters had a very earthy cinnamon smell. It reminded me of semi-sweet chocolate chips with a pinch of cinnamon.

    Top layer: Chocolate covered toffee and pecans = There was much more toffee than pecans. The cinnamon didn't mesh well with the toffee and chocolate. It was too many flavors competing.

    Center layer: Cinnamon mousse = The mousse was grainy. I was expecting a gooey filling. The cinnamon mousse was instead thicker than nougat. The overall flavor was cinnamon flavored sand.

    Bottom layer: Chocolate = Had a decent amount of chocolate. But it was bland and lacked bitterness.

    Thumbs down for Cinnabon Cinnamon Mousse Pecan Cluster.

    ETA: If you were thinking "what the heck is Makara Cinnamon ?", as I was, here's what Cinnabon says:

  • Cinnabon press release: Cinnabon At A Glance

  • "In order to make the world’s greatest cinnamon rolls, Cinnabon buyers traveled the spice-growing regions of the globe to find the best, most flavorful cinnamon. They finally discovered cassia trees high in the mountains of Indonesia and used the bark to create the legendary Makara Cinnamon"

    A long explanation begins further down the release starting at "The Legend of Makara Cinnamon."

    Russell Stover Outlet, Santee, South Carolina

    Russell Stover Outlet
    9083 Old Number Six Hwy
    Santee, SC 29142
    (803) 854-2127

    These are the candies I bought at the Russell Stover store:

    Dark Chocolate Mint Dream
    "Fluffy Mint Cream Covered in Dark Chocolate"

    Each Mint Dream was individually wrapped and weighed 1/8 oz. The Dreams were hefty sized lumps of chocolate. I had quite a gooey mess on my hands after cracking open a candy. The mint filling tasted like marshmallow flavored toothpaste. I was disappointed by the Mint Dreams.

    Candy Kitchen Values: Sugar-Free Toffee Novelties

    These were chocolate covered toffee pieces. The toffee was buttery and firm, but still chewable. There was not enough milk chocolate coating for my taste.

    Candy Kitchen Values: Sugar-Free Coconut Novelties

    I enjoyed these chocolate covered coconut candies. They reminded me of Mounds Bars. The amount of coconut was substantial. The top and bottom layers of chocolate were thick.

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Honey Bread

    Honey Bread

    "Homemade bread baked with honey instead of sugar will remain moist longer. The following recipe is for a fruit loaf that makes an excellent gift or a morning snack with coffee."

    Megan's note: I only had 1/3 cup honey. So I added in 1/2 cup white sugar, juice from 1 large orange and generous pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon. I didn't have wheat flour, so I used 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour instead.

    1 1/4 cup sifted all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    2/3 cup flour
    1 cup buttermilk
    3 tbsp oil or shortening
    2 eggs, well beaten
    1/2 cup raisins or chopped dates
    1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

    Sift the flour again with the salt, soda and baking powder. Add the whole wheat flour. Separately, mix the honey, buttermilk and oil with the beaten eggs. Stir in the dry ingredients. Do not over-stir. Fold in the nuts and dates or raisins. Spoon the batter into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in a 325 degree (moderate) oven.

    Source: Selected Recipes From The Saturday Evening Post Family Cookbook, edited by Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Frederic A. Birmingham, 1975, The Curtis Publishing Company


    Congratulations to Barnaby,Colin and Sheri at Foodista. They recently launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia. Click on the link in the title to check Foodista out. It looks really cool : )

    Refrigerator Rolls

    Refrigerator Rolls

    1/2 cup shortening
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 cup boiling water
    1 yeast cake
    1/2 cup lukewarm water
    1 beaten egg
    3 1/4 cup unsifted flour

    Mix shortening, sugar and salt. Add the boiling water. Cool. Dissolve yeast cake in lukewarm water. Add to first mixture together with egg and flour. Mix well, store in refrigerator overnight or until ready to use. Form into desired rolls. Set in warm place to raise. Bake in hot oven 10 to 15 minutes.

    Megan's note: Next time I will sprinkle the rolls with a pinch of garlic, parmesan and oregano.

    Source: A Bit of Old Holland: Recipes from Holland Michigan, page 3