Archive for the ‘Product Review’ Category

Tandoori Naan

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 by virginia

Like Jessica, we always have tons of leftovers whenever we order Indian food. Usually I’ll take it for lunch over the next few days but after we ordered in from Aaheli, I didn’t have enough rice left over to eat with the remaining curries. To supplement, I picked up a package of Tandoori Naan that I’ve seen in most supermarkets in NYC. I’ve always been curious about this naan as it looks relatively authentic when it’s in the package, with an irregular oval shape, large air bubbles, and browned spots all over.

Tandoori Naan from the supermarket

When I opened the package, it became quite clear that the naan was too dense and bread-like, and it kind of had a chemically processed smell to it. That put me off a bit but I surged ahead, hoping that it would be better once it was baked. I followed the directions on the package, which was to wet the bread slightly first and then bake it in the oven. It came out more pliable, slightly darker, but still pretty dense. I served up a piece with some leftover rice topped with both the keema mutton and chicken korma curries.

Tandoori Naan after baking, with leftover Indian curries and rice

Flavor wise, it was pretty bad, tasting more like a processed pita bread than naan. It didn’t have the nice fluffy interior and flaky exterior that I like about freshly baked naans from restaurants. I ate about half of it, and then gave up, as I couldn’t deal with the processed taste. There are actually two pieces of naan in one package, so the second night, I baked it for much longer, until it was more toasted and completely brown. That’s what I do with supermarket bagels because once you’ve had fresh, authentic NYC or NJ bagels, the processed stuff is just gross. I guess it works the same way with naan. Toasting it completely helped a bit, but it still wasn’t great or even good, it was just more edible.

Overall, I definitely don’t recommend buying the Tandoori Naan. I got it on sale for $1.99 but usually it’s priced at $2.99 for the two-piece package. That’s not too pricey but I still definitely don’t think it’s worth getting. If you have an Indian restaurant nearby, you’re better off picking up some fresh pieces to go, even if it costs a bit more.

In Search of the Elusive Shamrock Shake

Sunday, February 28th, 2010 by virginia

After filling our bellies with burgers and fries at White Manna, Josh and I continued on our Jersey food adventure and went in search of the famous Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s. I’ve heard about Shamrock Shakes in passing but admittedly never thought too much about them. After reading about them on Serious Eats and on various other blogs, I started to get curious about how hard or easy it would be to find the shake in northern NJ, since they don’t seem to be available anywhere in Manhattan.

There is a McDonald’s almost directly across the street from White Manna but we didn’t see any signs for the Shamrock Shake, and it’s hard to make the left turn onto River Street from White Manna. Instead, Josh decided to search on his iphone for Shamrock Shake sightings on, the website where people post confirmations about which McDonald’s offer the shake and which do not.

The closest confirmed sighting was in Paramus on Route 17 North. We headed for the highway but the mall traffic on Route 4 diverted us from going the more direct way. We decided to take back roads, and in doing so I knew that we would be passing by a McDonald’s in River Edge that was much closer. We pulled into the lot but didn’t see any Shamrock Shake posters there either. Bad sign.

Undeterred, Josh hopped out of the car and went inside to ask. He was gone for 10 minutes, and I figured that he must have been successful. Indeed, he came out carrying two shakes in medium sized soda cups. He said that when he first walked in and asked about the Shamrock Shakes, he was promptly rejected. As he turned to walk out, the counterperson called him back and said that he was wrong, they had just gotten the shakes in that day. Perfect!!

I quickly removed the lid from one of the cups and took a peek at my very first Shamrock Shake. At first glance, the shakes were a very light green in color, with darker green swirls. A quick sip yielded mostly vanilla flavor, with a few hints of mint.

Darker green swirls in an unmixed Shamrock Shake

Using the straw, I mixed up the shake as best as I could so that it was a pale green color overall, without the darker green swirls. My second sip yielded more minty flavor, but it was still pretty subtle.

After mixing, the shake is a pale green color with subtle mint flavor

The verdict? Not bad, but also not mind blowing. It did have a refreshing minty-ness to it without tasting like toothpaste, which was a good thing, but if you really didn’t know what you were drinking you’d probably think it was just vanilla flavored.

Some people on other sites complained about getting whipped cream and a cherry on top, but ours didn’t come with those. Our shakes also weren’t served in the smaller clear McCafe cups, but in regular medium sized soda cups. They definitely didn’t mix the syrup into the shake very well but that was easily remedied using the straw. I can’t comment on the mint factor though, or lack thereof, since I’ve never had a Shamrock Shake before.

I do think that the main appeal of these shakes are that they’re only offered for a limited time, and finding a McDonald’s that serves one is half the fun. Josh and I were more thrilled with our success than with the actual shake itself. Would I drink another one? Sure, but I won’t go out of my way to find one the next time.

McDonald’s (multiple locations)
1118 Main Street
River Edge, NJ

Snacks on the Plane

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 by virginia

I have to give props to Continental Airlines for still serving food for free on flights these days, but sometimes I wish they’d remove some items from the lineup. On this particular flight to SF, it was too late for them to serve real dinner, but they did give us a snack featuring a hot sandwich, baby carrots, salad, and a prepackaged brownie.

Turkey bbq bake, green salad, ranch dressing, baby carrots, brownie

The salad and carrots were fine – they were kept cold and actually kind of refreshing. I enjoyed the lite ranch dressing that came on the side. The sandwich, however, was the dreaded turkey bbq bake. Basically it’s a mushy, bready, pizza dough-like crust filled with mushy turkey enrobed in an off-tasting bbq sauce. I’ve had this before and hated it every time.

Turkey bbq bake innards

Luckily we had some free Continental currency coupons for some free drinks on the flight. I had a bloody mary made from a canned mix and Skyy vodka.

Bloody mary ingredients

The drink was filling and refreshing, and put me straight to sleep for the rest of the flight. Even without the coupons, at $5 a drink, it’s actually not a bad deal.

Pretty tasty bloody mary

Like I said, I’m really glad that Continental still serves meals at meal times, and the snacks are usually pretty good as well. They’re better than having to buy snack boxes on the plane or trying to subsist on tiny packages of pretzels or Biscoff cookies on a five hour flight. I do hope though that Continental will realize soon that the turkey bbq bake is pretty gross, and they’ll stick with the Jennie O turkey sandwiches from now on.

Burgers on Amy’s Bread Brioche and Alexia Waffle Fries

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 by virginia

I had defrosted a pound of ground beef intending to make a Bolognese sauce one night but we never really had a craving for pasta so instead, I decided to make an easy dinner of burgers and fries. To make the meal even simpler, Josh picked up some brioche buns from Amy’s Bread on his way home from work, as well as a bag of Alexia frozen waffle fries.

Alexia Frozen Waffle Fries

Alexia Frozen Waffle Fries

The fries couldn’t be easier – just preheat the oven to the temperature specified on the package and bake. For the burgers, I liberally seasoned the ground beef with kosher salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder. I also added a handful of finely chopped onions for extra flavor. I like my burgers to be on the saltier side so for a pound of beef, I used four large pinches of salt but like with most of my cooking, I just eyeball it and don’t really measure things out. You can always season conservatively and cook off tiny “test” meatballs to adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Ground beef mixed with chopped onions and seasonings

Ground beef mixed with chopped onions and seasonings

The patties we made were pretty thick since they were about half a pound each, and we just cooked them in a skillet until about medium rare. Meanwhile, we split the buns and toasted them on a griddle. The buns are buttery enough so they don’t need any help getting nice and toasty brown.

Brioche buns from Amy's Bread, plus some soft fluffy focaccia for noshing

Brioche buns from Amy's Bread, plus some soft fluffy focaccia for noshing

We topped the massive burgers with lettuce, tomato, and onion. I’m generally not a fan of brioche buns for burgers because they’re usually too sweet and eggy, but these buns from Amy’s Bread were light and buttery and held up well against the huge burger patties. They kind of reminded me of the buns from Fuddruckers, which I loved growing up. I would definitely get these again the next time we decide to make burgers.

Thick, juicy burgers on brioche with lettuce, tomato, and onions

Thick, juicy burgers on brioche with swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions

The fries, however, didn’t turn out that great. I usually love waffle fries but these didn’t really crisp up that well in the oven and ended up being soggy and mealy. The Alexia brand touts itself as all natural and gourmet, and the fries were seasoned with sea salt, pepper, onion, and garlic, but they were pretty bland and really not that enjoyable. They were kind of stuck in limbo between fake junk food fries and fresh homemade fries so they really didn’t satisfy my waffle fry craving. Sadly, I don’t think they were worth the calories I wasted on them.

Sadly limp and bland fries

Sadly limp and bland fries

Josh also picked up a bag of Alexia frozen onion rings at the same time so we’ll have to test those out later. I wouldn’t get the waffle fries again though. Serves me right I guess for not taking the time to make my own fries! But hey, we all need lazy shortcuts sometimes.

Amy’s Bread (multiple locations)
672 9
th Ave. between 46th and 47th St.
New York, NY