Thursday, October 13, 2016

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Creme Pies!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fall has arrived! If the leaves changing colors and the horrid heat of the summer departing weren't enough to clue you in, perhaps the large amount of Pumpkin flavored items on the shelves at your local supermarket clued you in. It seems like every major brand has a pumpkin or pumpkin spice item. Along comes Little Debbie to shake things up. Do they have pumpkin flavored stuff? You bet. But the Queen of Snack Cakes knows that Fall isn't just about pumpkin. So when I saw these new Caramel Apple Oatmeal Creme Pies, I knew I had to try them. Carmel Apples bring forth memories of going to the fairs in the fall! Gorging on delicious foods and playing games of chance to win cheap prizes. Taking a spin on a ride that's been taken apart and reassembled a hundred times by any number of haggard carnies. Caramel apples are always there, like a necessary prop in the background of every fair and carnival. I'm not sure anyone after 1952 has ever liked caramel apples. They are always there but I never see anyone buy them. They are a treat from a bygone era, but the idea of them still gets me excited!

Colorful Fall Leaves on the box and everything!
Let's get one thing clear before we go any further. I'm not sure when it happened, but suddenly I realized a while back that Little Debbie is THE pastry company these days. In my younger days I would have said it was Hostess, but let's face it, they fell off and they fell off hard. While they seem like they are doing well, they will never take the crown back from Little Debbie. Name any one item you like from another snack cake company and I can name you a dozen things Little Debbie does that are better. She now rules the snack cake aisle with an Iron Fist. Like I said back in the Milky Way Brownie post, All hail the Queen of Snack Cakes. Mother of Pastries, Breaker of Diets. If you doubt it, just peer into her icy, dark blue eyes.

All hail the queen!
Why am I kissing her ass so much before starting this review? Because she deserves it! She puts out the Oatmeal Creme Pie. END OF STORY. SHUT THE DAMN BOOK! They are one of the greatest things ever thought up by a human brain. So soft and delicious. The other versions of them are pretty great too! Fudge Rounds, and even the Peanut Butter Cookie creme pies are excellent. So going into these Caramel Apple ones I was pretty excited, and I have to say, I wasn't let down.


Once freed from it's plastic film, you see that it's the same tiny size as the regular OCP. Big difference here though is that it smells like someone just cracked open a jug of fresh apple cider right under my nose. Not only that, but I spy more oats than usual in the cookie!


It was tough to pull the hood back on this hot rod due to how chewy the cookie was. Just like you'd expect. But once inside you can see that there's what appears to be some nice apple butter-esque goo, and a different shade of the classic Oatmeal Creme Pie "creme." As I suspected, this is where the Caramel flavor is coming from. Apple goo plus caramel creme between two thin, chewy oatmeal cookies. Ripped open like this, it doesn't look like much, but together? Together it's the fall treat you never knew you wanted.



In the end I have to say that these are a welcome change to the limited edition fall item. Everyone does Pumpkin Spice! Josh just reviewed THREE PUMPKIN SPICE CEREALS! I say the more apple the better.  These are a great start. I can happily say that if they pop up next year I will 100% scoop them up and enjoy them with a nice cup of mulled cider.  They are an awesome spin on a classic, fan favorite pastry item from the company currently on top, Little Debbie.

I give Caramel Apple Oatmeal Creme Pies an A-! Would have been a plus if they were just a little bit bigger!

PS- Twinkie the Kid, if I were you, I would wipe that smile off your face and make yourself scarce. Before the Queen realizes just how creepy you are and green lights your ass!



Review by Rich, resides in New Hampshire and likes to boast that he's eaten more apple cider donuts than everyone reading this review combined. Think you've got him beat? NOPE.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Er'Thang: Cheerios, Special K, and Frosted Mini Wheats

I walked into my local Market Basket, and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a little something new.

Now what in the good Christ is Cheerios doing messing with pumpkin spice? I wasn't sure, but I was damn sure this food blogger was going to find out. Now you'd think that'd be enough, but by the time my short little legs were carrying my bebopping, whistling face out the front door, I had discovered that not only was Cheerios not alone, they had roped in some heavy hitters to join in the pumkin spice craze.


 SO me and the GF decided to forgo a real dinner, and go through and pour a bowl of each!


First up, I decided to go with a cereal I remember liking quite a bit when I was going through that 20 something cereal phase. Hey sometimes you've got to try something other than Reeses Puffs.





These things were pretty much what you'd expect. That hint of pumpkin, wrapped up with a thin frosting taste, and depending on how long you let it sit in the cereal, a solid crunch, or a mouthful of wet wiggly wheat strands. I think what held this together so well was the "frost", that sugary cool blast of what MIGHT rest somewhere in the marshmallow family.




As a man who doesn't really like ginger anything (besides ale) I was bummed when I read that it was a main component of this cereal. Special K is never that good unless it's overloaded with freeze dried fruit!



Looks like chunks of cardboard, but in all actuality, this cereal was pretty damn good. As a dry option, it didn't really work. What was needed for this to sing, was all of the elements working together. There was that nice familiar chemical concoction that is whatever pumpkin spice is, and then within that, the little cinnamon cluster blasts really helped make the overall flavor of this cereal taste decent.


Last on the list, Cheerios.


I know most people either love or hate Cheerios.  I've always enjoyed a bowl or two of the breakfast classic, but this time, this time was very different.



Tasting these dry is like eating those packing peanuts that you get that are "edible". And you only ever eat those on a dare, or if you never have, you pop them in your mouth, waiting for them to be absolutely disgusting, and they aren't, but don't taste good either.


Now the real test, in milk, these were absolutely horrid. They taste like a blander Cheerio covered in pepper, rolled in dirt. There is only one person on the planet that would think these are good.


  These are the worst Cheerios I've ever consumed. The only time they've altered Cheerios, and it's been edible, is when they decided to make honey-nut. Every other iteration of the Cheerio is like a wretched lesson they are trying to teach children by making the most foul tasting cereal they can. A cruel joke on children around the globe.

Out of the three, I'd have to say the Pumkin Spice Frosted Mini Wheats were the star of the new line of fad cereals this fall, with a solid runner up trophy going to Special K. This year, pumpkin spice came out so hard it has effectively twisted it's chassis off the line. 


I don't know where this is going to go, but hopefully we can trim some of the fat, and let horrible things like pumpkin spice Cheerios fall down to cereal hell where Paul Walker can enjoy their bland, peppery flavor for eternity.



Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini Wheats: B
Pumpkin Spice Special K: C
Pumpkin Spice Cheerios: a HARD F.


Review by Josh

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Fat Cat Food Blog?


I've been wanting to review this place since the first time I went there. Nestled in a somewhat industrial neighborhood of Quincy, MA, I want to call this place a "hidden gem", but going during lunch or dinner times, the struggle to find a seat would say otherwise. From the outside, it looks like your typical pub/restaurant. Despite the unique sign, the inside is very downplayed, and not exactly noteworthy. That's where the food/service come in. Both times i've been, I've always chosen to sit at the bar, but I will say that the service was great, and they were very accommodating: this time around, during casual conversation I mentioned "I haven't had my coffee today..." and the bartendress put on a fresh pot and brought me a mug. It's the little things.



I had been here once before, and gotten the Mac and Cheese, (oh... we'll get to that...) so I wanted to try things I hadn't yet... everything sounded so good. I started with an order of hand-cut fries, which in itself was a struggle... they have a handful of seasoning and dip choices (curry, cajun, etc). I went with garlic parmesan. Honestly, the garlic and parmesan didn't add anything for me, but the fries were so damn good, they didn't take anything away either. So good, I always carry a few in my pocket nowadays in case I need a "toothpick" with flavor.


After asking for a recommendation, I heard the wings were good. This is where I begin to kick myself. Even for a fat slob, I'm pretty picky. I do like hot wings, but I like flavor too, so I'm not into any of those "wing challenges" where you need a gas mask and to dip your eyes in milk every 5 seconds just to eat them. The waitress offered to bring me half and half (5 "hot" wings and 5 "XXX Hot" wings). The XXX hot is made with a spicy vodka and pickled pepper base (if I remember correctly... she showed me the jar on the shelf, looking like a mad scientist's experiment) so I got a little intimidated. But you know, I don't mind the occasional wing that evokes tears and a runny nose... it's cleansing.


The darker brown wings on the left are the XXX Hot, and the orangey ones on the right are the "hot" wings. I wish I had gotten all XXX Hot. There was nothing wrong with the hot wings, but they were your typical wing sauce and didn't stand out. EXCEPT, these wings in general were great. One thing I absolutely hate is when you get wings and it's like biting into your grandma's arm flab. These wings, regardless of sauce, were crispy on the outside, to me: perfection. The XXX sauce had a good amount of heat, so I sipped my drink after each wing, but they were bursting with flavor and truly unique. They almost tasted as if they had a rub as well as a sauce. I also appreciated that these wings were obviously sauced, but not swimming in it, so I didn't feel like I needed a bath after.


Everything I've had at The Fat Cat has not only been "good" it's been special in it's own way. I'm no sucker, so after we finished our food and had a few more drinks at the bar, I put in a to-go order before we left. I mean, I'm going to need to eat again eventually, I might as well make sure it's damn good food! I got their "Philly" (which is essentially a Steak & Cheese, but you can get it with chicken or something else instead, I forget). I went traditional, sans mushrooms because well, mushrooms are gross. With the Cheesesteak, they threw in a buttload of fries (I declined any seasonings or dips). I forgot to get a picture of this when I heated it up several hours later for dinner. But take my word for it. Good meat, good bread, good flavor. Even reheated several hours later. (If you're going to do this, wrap the sub in foil, put on a pan with the fries and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15mins) it's still going to be better than any of the sub shops near you, I guarantee it.


I think this is the ultimate compliment you can give any restaurant: if their food is as good reheated the next day, you've struck gold. In the above picture, you see The Fat Cat's signature Macaroni and Cheese. A day later, and microwaved, it is still creamy and gooey and mouthwatering. I don't care how good your mama is at cooking, she can't touch this mac. I personally make a damn delicious homemade mac, spending years perfecting the creamy sauce. Even I can't deny this is different. The key to a good mac cheese sauce is variety. You have to combine cheeses. The Fat Cat uses at least 3 or 4, one of which is blue cheese. This adds a tanginess to the flavor unparalleled. They also have tomatoes in the recipe, which I didn't think I'd like, but you know what, I did... so it's basically healthy with the vegetables added. It's a creamy, gooey, cheesy salad! Oh and I almost forgot, you can get the mac and cheese with meats, such as chicken or HOT DOGS. Now I didn't do this myself, but I thought that was a pretty cool nostalgia for a place with some high end food, playing to the kid in us all.

I also can't go without mentioning the portion sizes. The mac in that picture is only HALF of the order! Supposing I can exercise a small amount of willpower, the other half will come to work with me tomorrow. I will weep when it's all gone.


Honorable Mention:
I'm not huge into seafood, but I did try some mussels that my friend ordered (look at that massive bowl for $10 bucks!). She chose the mussels in the Fat Cat tomato sauce (they have another sauce, but I forget what it is... clearly I do my research). They were pretty good if you like that sort of thing. I won't condescend to you folks as if I eat enough mussels to critique these vs others I've had (I go years in between mussels), but good flavor and I kept 'em down... so thumbs up? Also, barely pictured, Fat Cat "Haystacks" which are their onion strings, which are also divine.


Review by Dave James, who lives in Cambridge, MA and possibly died of heart disease immediately after writing this....

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Remembering Wonka with British Candy


Discover a world of pure imagination. After the sad passing of Gene Wilder, most of us had a moment remembering our favorite scenes from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I was no exception. Tim Burton can suck my EverlastingGobstopper, there was only ONE WONKA. Now it's true, I'm probably the worst of the Fat Guys for trying out new snack treats on the market. But my friends took me to an Irish store, which had two huge aisles of British candy and other treats... and I'm here to say: The Candyman Can!


Let's get the easy ones out of the way. Yorkie and the Dairymilk Bars were straight up chocolate bars. UK chocolate is just better. I love Hershey and wouldn't dare badmouth them. But even as a lad, I loved going to Grandma's house, because she had the Cadbury... and that was always special. Now the Cadbury Shorties are shortbread cookies with one side painted in chocolate. They're decent but not as good as I'd hoped. (If you're familiar with UK treats, McVittie's are better).


But the Cadbury shortcake SNACK! is exactly what I was looking for. It's somewhat similar to Keebler Fudge Grahams, without the graham flavor... ish. I mean, I know these were just "shortcake" but they had more flavor than just butter cookie with chocolate... and oh that Cadbury chocolate. Mmm...



The Double Decker is described as "milk chocolate with a soft nougat and a crispy cereal bottom" so I wasn't sure what exactly cereal they meant. It's similar to a milky way bar but with rice crispies and more chocolate. It definitely was nice, but won't be my go-to the next time I stock up.


For a palette cleanser, I had to try something fruity...


If you've ever wanted sour patch kids without the sour, then Jelly Tots are for you. Sugary and chewy, these tasty little treats can be crammed down your candy-hole by the fist full. No wonder the British are known for bad teeth... remember to brush, because these little suckers will about as far from your teeth as Mike TV is from his cowboy costume.


And last, but oh certainly not least, the star of my little shopping trip to the candy store...


Cadbury Choc Chip Cookies... lord help me.


There is nothing to say. Do you still need convincing? REALLY? They are exactly what you think they are. They are Chips Ahoy cookies with GODDAMN CADBURY CHOCOLATE CHIPS exploding through them. They are magic. No store bought cookie will stand up to these, no chocolate chip ones anyway. Pepperidge Farm? Put out to pasture. Chips Ahoy? Sunk. My only complaint? There's only 12 cookies per package. Three round bays, each with a stack of 4 cookies. So really, I just wish I had bought a few of these cookies because sadly over the course of a couple days, they left my life as whimsically as they entered it.

If you think that any chocolate treats, cookies, candies, whatever beat out the Cadbury crew... I have only one thing left to say:


RIP Gene Wilder... you will never be forgotten, you will be celebrated.


Review by David James, who died doing what he loved, drinking from a chocolate river.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Boston Burger Company Freak Frappes (and more burgers!)


So, some of you may remember that Josh and Rich did a review of Boston Burger Company a couple years ago. I've been going there since their opening in Somerville, so I was happy as the day is long when they reviewed it. Since moving to Cambridge, near Harvard, I was even more excited when they opened a Harvard Square location on Mass Ave. I made sure I went back to re-read Josh and Rich's blog from before, so I didn't step on well-worn territory.



Initially, I didn't go in for the burgers, I went in specifically to review their new FREAK FRAPPES. But, its not like i'm NOT gonna get a burger. It's also worth mentioning, I have a problem with extremes. I tend to lean towards "this was the best!" or "this was the worst!" In true fat-guy fashion, I'm sentimental about food... and I think i'm often surprised that something doesn't suck. For a fat guy, food is supposed to be a substitute for all that love and approval you never get elsewhere.



Let's start with the Freak Frappes. Oddly, despite my mission of solely reviewing the beverages, I had less to say about them. I went in excited for these, not only because of the cool flavors, but also because who doesn't love a good shake with their burger? What I didn't know going in, they're alcoholic! I've tried two of the four offered Freak Frappes: The Bulleit Bourbon Blizzard (pictured above), and the Nutella Cream (pictured below). Firstly, I feel like I got screwed over. Twice. The pictures I've seen (and ones being brought to tables while I awaited my own drink) have all kinds of toppers (one being a slice of cake, what looked like rice krispee treats, and one with MnMs?), I got none of that (some nilla wafers and not-quite-pirouettes). And the presentation of the Bourbon Blizzard above is somewhat lacking. Also, mine wasn't made with Bulleit Bourbon. I was seated at the bar, half-watching it being made, and observed a different bourbon being substituted. When I asked the bartender, she stated they were out of Bulleit. I then pointed out the bottle on the bar (which was with the label facing away). She offered to make me a second one, but I declined. Presentation aside, I loved the Bourbon Blizzard. 



Now, clearly the presentation of the Nutella Cream Frappe (Nutella, Bailey's Irish Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream) is better executed. It was okay. It had a decent flavor, but the flavor of Nutella didn't really come through, not as much as I expected it to. It was also not very cold, perhaps could've used more ice cream. It was thicker than the other one, slightly, like drinking a thin pudding. What I will say for both, the booze to sweet ratio was perfect. I thought that both had just the right amount of alcohol coming through into the frappes, obvious but not overwhelming. I'm assuming in a general way, all 4 Freak Frappes are essentially the same. But out of these two, the Bourbon Blizzard was better. I wish I had tried the Guinness Frappe instead of the Nutella, and they also have a "New England Mudslide" which sounded good. Even though the flavor does come through while you're drinking them, it's easy to forget they're boozy, when washing down a nice burger. So tread lightly, sweet children.


The real stars of BBC are obviously the hand-made, never frozen burgers. My usual staple here is the "Killer Bee", which is a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings stacked on top in the shape of a beehive, with BBQ sauce all over it. In the previous BBC review, Rich mentions the BBQ sauce, and how good it is (reminiscent of gold-fever wing sauce at the 99). I whole-heartedly agree, it's the best. I've also tried the "Green Monstah" and the "Artery Clogger" (which Josh reviewed). Now, after refreshing my memory before writing this, the only thing I don't agree with those guys on is the chips vs fries. I love Boston Burger Co. chips. They're airy, a little soft, but still crunchy. They're special, and a great side to the burgers. I never once missed having fries on the side. I also am not a fan of the fries at BBC. They're potato wedges, and they ARE good, and have a variety of flavors/seasonings. It's just not my thing, I stick with the chips. Always. (Dipping the chips in their BBQ sauce is also recommended). I do wish they had some  "more traditional" skinnier hand-cut fries, but it's merely an afterthought.

This time around I went outside my "Killer Bee" box and ordered the "Porkasaurus". This is a burger, TOPPED with pulled pork, cheddar jack cheese and pickles. At first glance, I thought it looked a little dry. "Where's the sauce?" I asked. The bartender brought me a side of BBQ. LUCKILY, I didn't just dump it on my burger. I needed to learn to trust. I tried the burger first with no sauce, and then with a little... and guess what, it was better the way they handed it to me. They know what they're doing. It was incredible. The burger was cooked to perfection (always at BBC), and the flavor and texture of the pulled pork (which look like strips vs shreds) really made this burger. All that coupled with the pile of pickles, it was perfection. (I ended up using my side of BBQ sauce for dippin').




During my round-two visit, since I was trying a different frappe, I figured I'd continue trying other burgers they have to offer. I decided to go with the Mac Attack burger (which was featured on Diners, Drive-in's and Dives... hosted by that idiot who puts his sun glasses on the back of his head). Mac Attack is simple, it's a burger with frickin' macaroni and cheese on top... oh and BACON. Duh. It's almost as if someone said "Hey you know hamburger helper? What if we threw some bacon on top and stuck it between two buns?"

At first glance, it's magnificent. Beautiful. A work of art. They aren't stingy on the mac (look at the pictures, can you even see the burger?!), which means the burger is not lacking in the cheese aspect. Love the flavor of the mac, it stole the show. Suddenly I was forgetting all about the burger, and just wishing I had a giant bowl of that mac'n'cheese. I wouldn't think all the carbs would go so well together, but it really did, no texture took away from another and the taste was good. The bacon does add some much needed flavor, because most of the taste is cheese (not that there's anything wrong with that!). The bacon adds balance. Oh, and since this is BURSTING with cheese, I love the flavor of the "burnt" cheese that touched the grill.


If  I did have a complaint about my Mac Attack, it's that I had ordered the bacon "extra crispy" (yeah, i'm high maintenance, deal with it). Though the bacon was adequately cooked, it was not EXTRA crispy, it was barely crispy.


But bacon is bacon and it was delicious, none being spared.



The moral of the story is: Boston Burger Company makes my favorite burgers. They are huge, hot, juicy and full of flavor. It doesn't matter which one, you will leave fat and happy. I will definitely be back to try the other frappes I haven't explored yet, and maybe i'll work up the cajones to try The King (Elvis) Burger, which has peanut butter and caramelized bananas on it.

*I also really respect BBC because they send out emails with recipes and tips on making great burgers at home. None of that "it's our secret" horseshit. It's like the owner was fed up with the state of burgers in this country, and decided to bestow upon us these culinary gifts. And for those who need a little extra help, you can check out BurgaBox (by Boston Burger Company) which is similar to those mail order meal services, but without the chia seeds and crap like that; you get all you need to make dope burgers in your own kitchen. I thought about ordering one so I could add it on to this review, but since I live a 10min walk from a BBC, it wasn't cost effective to cook my own dinner.



Review by Dave James, who currently lives in Cambridge, MA... snoogans.


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