Site Guide
free twitter icons

Welcome to the Products review page!
Find out how to get your product reviewed at the
Contact Us page. Enjoy!

Thursday
Sep082011

Product Review: Appetizer Adventures Brings Fun and Flavor to Your Boring Freezer

I've waxed on and on about the summer Fancy Food Show too many times throughout Eat This Review, but how else would I get the chance to taste unique foods multiple times? Sure, you may get sick of hearing about these food shows, but without these marketing opportunities, the sellers, creators, and reviewers of gourmet edibles would have few chances to see, talk about, and taste new food products from startup companies. All 6 delicious flavors

Having the chance to taste foods at the show and in the comfort of my own home gives me a chance to fairly judge each food that comes my way. Appetizer Adventures, for example, was a small food product started by owner Bolder Bob, who stopped to talk me up on the top floor of this year's show. Though I really loved the idea and enjoyed meeting the founders, I found the look and taste to be unexciting. Still, I agreed to do a review. And surprise surprise, I found a great new snack that I haven't been able to stop eating.

Bolder Bob's, which makes Appetizer Adventures, should be proud of their product creation. What is it exactly? It's sort of like hand pies, or pizzas from around the world. Frozen in packs of two, each one heats up in your microwave in about 2 minutes or under, comes out piping hot and not mushy, and probably has a more interesting, real flavor than any frozen food you've had. And they taste FRESH!

It was so hard to get a good taste of these foods while at the show, but once home, I was able to taste each flavor distinctly, see how wholesome they are, and understand how they'd be great for kids and adults alike. They're high in protein (and sodium, unfortunately, but not terribly) and low in sugar and unpronounceable ingredients. Thank you, Bob!The packaging gives good descriptions of the good food inside

Unlike Ellio's or Celeste's individual pizzas, which Appetizer Adventures is bound to be compared to at some point, these unique pocket pies offer truly different flavors. Instead of piling fake cheese and pepperoni on the same ol' base and calling it something new, Appetizer Adventures creates a new flavor from the toppings all the way down to the crust. Who else does that? 


Their 6 flavors include:

A Taste of Naples: Tomato Sauce, Parmesan Cheese, Onion, Garlic, Pepper & Oregano in a Basil Crust

A Taste of Tuscany: Tangy Veggie Sausage, Tomato Sauce, Garlic, Oregano, Pepper & Onion in a Basil Crust

A Taste of Napa Valley: Fire Roasted Veggies, (Zucchini, Eggplant, Mushrooms, Onion) & Tomato Sauce in a Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Crust

A Taste of Santa Fe: Santa Fe Veggie Chicken, Red Bell Peppers, Sweet Corn, Black Beans & Pepper Jack Cheese in a Red Bell Pepper Crust

A Taste of Athens: Feta Cheese, Spinach, Green Olives, Diced Tomato & Thyme in an Oregano Garlic Crust

A Taste of Beijing: Asian Veggie Beef & Sauce, Green Onion, Carrot, Sesame Seeds & Garlic in a Black pepper Crust

 

While I was mid-bite at the food fair, Bolder Bob casually mentioned that all six flavors were vegetarian. I never would have guessed! All the variations taste great, and I wasn't expecting a startup company with unique foods to go vegetarian, but when Bob explained that many of his friends were vegetarian, I thought it was terrific. Who needs more meat in this day and age? Fits perfectly in the palm of your hand

Unbelievably, you can not only see the fresh vegetables and basil flakes, you can actually taste them. What do you taste? Freshness and flavor. And at just 105-145 calories each, you can't argue that those 100-calorie packs of cookies and crackers are good for you or will hold you longer than 10 minutes. These, on the other hand, will.

Back to the flavor. They were pretty addictive. I tasted these savory pies several times over a period of a few days (mainly because I felt they were so delicious and fitting as a snack, I couldn't stop!), and held an informal tasting for a very excited panel. Though more than one taster commented on the final product looking better on the box cover (and really, when is that not true?), they went over big. They truly fit almost any occasion when it comes to eating a filling snack or small meal. I had two for lunch when I wanted a smaller lunch. I had one for a snack mid-morning. I had one as a side dish with dinner, and I had one as an afternoon snack the next day. They're warm, filling (and not all crust), fairly good for you, good tasting, never dried out, and easy to make. One can easily take it in the car if on the run, too—no plate needed!

Coming soon (hopefully!) to a grocery near youAt first, the Santa Fe variety was my favorite. Full of tangy flavor and stringy pepper jack, I thought it was most unique. But then I got quite into the Beijing pie: Colorful, bursting with flavor, and decidedly different tasting with its green onion and veggie beef topping (sans sauce—not sure where this component was). But during the next tasting, I thought the ho-hum-sounding Naples had come to life, delivering a beautifully sweet and spicy, very zesty flavor that I couldn't get enough of. And the Athens, though not a personal favorite, had beautiful green spinach and olives and red tomato that my eye was really drawn to. Really, I liked them all. A lot. So much that if they were stocked near me, I'd probably have several more cartons in my freezer. They're just so darn handy and tasty!

It's true that finding a way to make frozen foods look good once reheated is always a challenge. But aside from their glamour shots, the flavor of these Indiana Jones-esque edible adventures is a taste not to be missed. I hope they'll be in stores across the country soon!

 

Appetizer Adventures comes in packs of four 2.25-oz. pies.

Prices are not available at the moment.

Appetizer Adventures is currently available in the Boulder, CO area.

Visit http://www.appetizeradventures.com/ to learn more, and hope they'll come to a market near you in the near future.

 

Wednesday
Aug242011

Product Review: Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery Gets...Saucy?

When I got the offer to try out a line of sauces from the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery chain, I was more than slightly nervous. While I love sauces, I believe I have a perfectly normal impression of Golden Krust: Though I've never been there to eat, the too-sunny, outdated yellow awning and the pre-outdated logo with a tacky "K" in "Krust" have always turned me off. I'm most certainly not alone in this opinion, as everyone I asked felt the same way. The identically poorly-designed labels on my sauces gave me even less hope. Still, a very lovely representative from GK's PR firm asked my to try them, and the ETR team thought they deserved a chance. The result? We were pleasantly surprised!Four brand-new sauces from the Jamaican-Caribbean chain Golden Krust

I was sent all four of Golden Krust's new sauces: Island Flavored Ketchup, Jamaican Style Jerk Sauce, Honey Barbeque Jerk Sauce, and Hot Pepper Sauce. They were all full of flavor, and a couple presented tastes I haven't...well, tasted in a sauce before. Aside from the most obvious uses, I found that several worked well in surprising settings: The Jamaican Style Jerk Sauce, for example, worked as a lovely dipping sauce for maple-roasted squash--a dish I thought the Honey Barbecue Jerk Sauce would be fitting for. The Island Flavored Ketchup was great as a dipping sauce or or something more standard, like breaded chicken cutlets. I even made a Hot Pepper and Honey BBQ mayo A tangy Hot Pepper-Jerk aioli and friesaioli for fries, and it was quite unusual, my friends. If you're looking for a hot sauce that adds a little texture and a lot of bright flavor, then I'd definitely recommend the pink-hued Hot Pepper Sauce. Though you won't get the flavor in the first second, the second second will have you feeling a wild heat travel down your throat, and boy will you get the flavor then! I love spicy foods, and this sauce absolutely didn't let me down like most Americanized hot sauces do. You won't confuse this one with the ol' Goya Salsita!

Did these sauces blow my mind? No, but they're actually quite delicious. Low in calories (though high in sugar, as with similar sauces), they're a sweet and tangy addition to many dishes with their additions of mango puree and scotch bonnet pepper. I wouldn't expect any affordable chain business to make a sauce that tasted as if it just came from a Grilled breaded chicken strips with Island Flavored Ketchupsmall-batch saucier in Maine, so I was more than pleased. And better still is that my eyes have been opened to a new store. Despite the garish yellow, I look forward to stepping into the next Golden Krust I pass.

Each 8-oz. bottled sauce can probably be found at local stores and in some local Shop-Rites and Pathmarks. Do NOT call the 718 number given on the website, as this transfers you only to the wholesale business, which won't get you anywhere. I'd assume the sauces would be very affordably priced.

Click here to view the products on their site and to find locations near you.

Saturday
Aug132011

Product Review: Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Company Juices

Fresh, Frozen, From Concentrate, Not From Concentrate, Fresh-Squeezed, Florida-Pressed, Grass-Fed? All right, the last one isn't really a contender, but anyone who has looked closely at juice labels knows how hard it is not only find to find juices that taste fresh, but juices that are made of, well, juice. Apple juice in orange juice, sugar, corn syrup, and non-U.S.-based oranges are just a few of the stories plaguing the orange juice industry these days, and finding unique juice mixes--perhaps those with blueberries, peaches, or other fruits--proves difficult if you're looking for real ingredients and not just sugar. Four of Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Company's Sippers

Natalie's is going for that fresh, family-run, premium juice prize. The Florida-based Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Company recently sent me several samples of seasonal and standard juices from their award-winning lineup. From their traditional orange juice to their very unique blackberry lime, I was given a nice set to play with for drinking and delights.

Noticeable at every food fair due to their large displays and smart-looking blazers and khakis, Natalie's is known for their juice, as well as their rather, shall we say, agressive marketing tactics. Friendly, yes, but it's hard to walk down the aisle without being forced to stop and have a taste. Hey, a company's gotta reach out, right? I happily agreed to try out some of the juices, and was sent a rather full list of recipes ranging from orange chicken and rice to smoothies and desserts.

First off was a taste test: Natalie's Orange certainly had a more vibrant flavor than my Florida's Natural juice, though once put in smoothies, it (not unexpectedly) lost a certain amount of shine. Natalie's Grapefruit was added to a side dish of brussels sprouts, cranberries, and pistachios, and here it actually stood out over other weak, watered-down juices. When the juice's sugars hit the pan, they provided a sour-sweet glaze that nearly caramelized on the sprouts, providing for an altogether lovely and flavorful dish.

One of Several Season Mixes: Refreshing Blackberry Lime

The Blackberry Lime was a first for me, and though the blackberry flavor was light at first taste, the lime (and make sure you shake the bottle before each sip!) really came through at the end of every sip, providing a pleasantly biting punch that didn't overpower the berry boost. My Orange Mango Peach was the first thing I grabbed, and though there wasn't nearly as much mango or peach flavor as I would have liked, the juice was refreshing and filling. Why? A soft pulp--more like that found at the bottom of a nectar bottle--was present throughout the juice, providing a textural difference without giving me a stuck-in-my-teeth, orange, pulpy finish.

The Honey Tangerine had a nice oomph to it, though I was disappointed after salivating at the name. My bottle had a good tangerine bite, but the honey flavor was nowhere to be seen. My Lemonade, though, was terrifically refreshing. Sweet, but not cloyingly so, and sour, but not overly so, it was a delicious taste of real lemonade.

I used the juices in sweet and savory dishes alike, adding citrus flavors to dinner, yogurt drinks, vegetable side dishes, main dishes, and more. Each time, I was pleased with the results, though if other companies made identical flavors, how different would each dish taste? This I cannot say, though my grapefruit sprouts were certainly memorable.

Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Pistachios, and a Natalie's Grapefruit Glaze. Delicious!

I do feel that I'm putting something better into my body when I drink Natalie's, and I do greatly appreciate the fact that this juice company is run by 5th generation citrus growers who still squeeze fresh juice for all to enjoy. You just feel better after drinking it.

For availability and prices at the moment, you'll have to visit their website at http://orchidislandjuice.com/content/home, or call 1.888.373.7444.

Where are they? At the food shows, but that's as much as I know--I've never seen the product in any local markets, but perhaps that's because they're 2,000 miles away from New York. They should be gaining ground, especially because they recently won Good Housekeeping's Best Orange Juice Test and also secured first place for orange juice on America's Test Kitchen. Is it the mix of three types of Florida oranges that does the drink? Take a few sips and you tell me.

http://orchidislandjuice.com/content/awards

 

Wednesday
Aug032011

Product Review: Sriracha Peas In, Wasabi Peas Sidelined

You've heard of wasabi peas, and you've most certainly seen the ubiquitous mod-green, dull-looking snack that packs a punch. Sold as a snack and popular as an Asian snack, the green wasabi pea is good, but finally has competition.

Sriracha peas are my new favorite snack. More addictive and with a less biting taste, these orange-dusted gems are the crunchy answer to those who love some flavorful heat. And honestly, they're not all that strong, so yes, even you folks with weak taste buds (or shall I call you guys "supertasters"?) can enjoy these. Wasabi peas, move over. Spicy Sriracha peas are the hot new snack in town.


In case you live in a closed-off part of this world and haven't heard of it, Sriracha is a delightfully spicy red chili sauce that's used as a popular food condiment all over Asia and the world. It was actually invented in California by a Chinese-Vietnamese immigrant, and all I can say is that I'm addicted. I use it in everything from sauces and grilled cheese to dressings and pasta dishes, and everyone who knows Sriracha knows how addicting it can be. An interesting article on the sauce's origins can be found here.

As for these peas--sold in small cans at Wegmans, Hannaford, and Asian markets--is that I don't know why they weren't invented earlier. Make sure you get a jar to taste, and you tell me it isn't absolutely delightful. Up for the challenge?

Spicy Sriracha Peas - Chili garlic coated green peas, made by Hapi Snacks.

Check your local store or visit their site here.

Imported by JFC International Inc.

Sold in 4.90 oz. containers.

Product of Thailand

Monday
Mar212011

Product Review: Urbani Truffles Showcase Mushrooms in a Whole New Light

You know by now that I'm crazy over anything truffle. Truffle slices, truffle oil, truffles du jour—you name it. I first mentioned Urbani Truffles at the 2010 Fancy Food show, when their truffles and cream on pasta blew me away and won ETR's best in show award in the back of my mind. Admittedly, though, truffles are good on their own, so I didn't know just how much a company could do to make them better. Urbani Truffles has set themselves apart from other truffle importers by not only demonstrating consistent quality within a family-owned business, but by opening my eyes to unique truffle offerings. As you can imagine, the package of truffle products I received last week from Urbani gave me the chance to experience truffles in a whole new light. Truffle butters will upgrade your bread


I was given a lovely assortment of Truffle Thrills (6.5-oz. tins of truffle combination spreads), butters, and other truffle-related delights. First to try were the fresh truffle butters, one with black truffle, and one with white. Rare is the chance when I get to compare similar products in both black and white truffle varieties. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the white truffle butter more than the black. Both were delicious spread on a plain white potato loaf I'd just baked, but the white variety had that pure truffle smell, along with that rich taste, that put it just ahead of the other. I tried the butters in other dishes and spread on other appetizers, but I found that it sometimes got lost mixed with strong foods. Never meant for an everything bagel or smeared onto rye toast, these delicate spreads are supposed to be the star of the show. Still, I wonder how a dollop would taste in mac 'n' cheese. Wrong? Well, I tried it with the red pesto and truffles.


Mixed in amongst the Truffle Thrills was a jar of red pesto and truffles, and it didn't take me long to dig in. A longtime red pesto fan, I was eager to try this flavor combination made in heaven. It wasn't at all what I expected, and though it was good, it took a day to grow on me (as most products do). Rarely do I immediately fall in love with a product, and with this sample, I got flavors that weren't quite sicilian red pesto or truffles. It was a wonderful taste for sure, but I couldn't exactly categorize it as a pesto. It was a good type of grainy, with Grana Padano and truffles in the end taste. By day two, of course, I was using it as a pasta topper, dipping it with breads, using it to grill, and yes, I even tried it as a mix-in with mac 'n' cheese. Delicious, I ruled.  Five of Urbani's various Truffle Thrills, tins of sauces, dips, and more that will make you happy


Other Truffle Thrills included the Artichokes and Truffles (best as a spread or dip), the Pesto and Truffles (just basil instead of sun-dried tomatoes), which had a bright, sweet taste to it, the White Truffles and Porcini, and the Black Truffles and Mushrooms. Now just because these products are all packaged with the same theme, don't think they're the same consistency or that they have similar flavor profiles. Quite the contrary, I found that all the tins were very different from one another. While I'd previously tasted the Cream and Truffles at the Fancy Food Show (yes, I still crave that sample dish), as well as the Artichokes and Truffles at the International Foodservice & Restaurant Show, I'd never tasted anything like the other three. The pestos had expected consistencies, but the White Truffles and Porcini and Artichokes and Porcini reminded me a lot of cream of mushroom soup, just without the chemical taste and with a whole lot more personality. The White Truffles and Porcini was thick, with small chunks of porcini mushrooms mixed in, making it great for chicken, pasta, and vegetables. The Black Truffles and Mushrooms, meanwhile, was made up of finely chopped mushroom and truffle pieces in a flavorful oil. This was unique on its own, but mixed into a risotto at the beginning, then dolloped on top at the end along with Urbani's White Truffle Oil, well, you've got a dish you don't want to miss. I made it twice this week alone. All in all, I'd highly recommend that you try the decidedly unique selection of Urbani's Truffle Thrills. Few foods are this unique and exciting. The Truffle Carpaccio is filled with clices and chunks of summer truffles. What's not to like?


A very impressive coffee table book detailed the Urbani family history, went into detail about Italian truffles (including maps for different truffles of different seasons), and described many of their products in detailed, full-color photos. Other products included large dehydrated porcini mushrooms, which, when soaked for a short time, return to life and add terrific flavor to any dish, and a very important jar of Truffle Carpaccio. This container held great chunks and slices of fragrant, rich, black summer truffles that would make anyone's day. It's unbeatable for anything from fish and lobster to salads and pastas. If for some reason you're unable to afford the small $500/pound price tag put on fresh truffles, then serving slices from your jar of Truffle Carpaccio might make the cut.


Another surprise in my delivery was a bottle of Acetaia Dodi Balsamic Vinegar. Urbani partnered with Dodi just this month to bring a variety of high-end, D.O.P. Vinegars to food connoisseurs all over the U.S. D.O.P. vinegars (“Designation of Protected Origin”) are aged a minimum of 12 years, go through rigorous tasting by a critical committee, and must be bottled and wax sealed in the Reggio Emilia region of Italy.

This balsamic was just right: It's a completely different flavor from that of, say, store balsamic, and different still from more expensive balsamic vinegars of Modena. Where other balsamics are good for cooking, marinating, and infusing, this barrel-aged vinegar (and Urbani/Dodi carry a variety of even higher grades, some aged more than 25 years) is meant for more delicate uses—glazes, finishes, sweets, and topping. In fact, I received much literature on this very vinegar, telling me all about the aging process while including how and how not to use it. Not too syrupy, not too sweet. Some would call it just right


Well-balanced, not too sweet, not very stinging at all, and with hints of fruit and a consistency of a honey-touched glaze, this 40ml bottle arrives wax sealed for around $25—a wonderful topping for ice cream, fruit, cheese, rices, and more. It's rare a vinegar is high quality and simultaneously versatile enough to bring appetizers, entrees, cheese plates, and desserts all to new levels. They even suggest adding a few drops to eggnog, and I can assure you that if I allow this stuff to last until eggnog hits the shelves, that's the first thing I'll do.


Perhaps the most delightful truffle treat came in a small package. Sure, I'd had truffle honey before, and of course I adored it. But this, this was a completely different taste sensation. A few samples revealed extraordinary subtleties made for a very mature palate. No, this isn't the type of honey you'd feed your kids. In fact, there's no point in wasting a drop of this liquid gold on anyone who isn't a complete foodie. It'll likely change the way you think of honey forever. In fact, I haven't been able to have regular honey since--it's that good.  Big flavor comes in small packages


Overall, my Urbani experience was beyond compare. Now nearly a century old, Urbani Truffles is the world leader in truffles, processing around 100 tons every year. Urbani has created products without compare, and anyone who doesn't try the incredible flavors of truffles (and more!) is truly missing out. I've always loved truffles, but Urbani showed me how taking truffles to the next level is even better than I could have imagined.


http://www.urbanitrufflesonline.com/

 

Truffle Thrills, 6.1 oz., $9.95

 

Truffle Butters, 3 oz., $34.80 for a pack of four

 

Truffle Honey, 90g., $24.95

 

Make sure to try all of Urbani's products, including flavored salts, flours, oils, and more.