01 September 2010

Vosges Mo's Bacon Bar -- Review and Rating

I know it's been a long time since I last reviewed/rated anything...but this one product got me in the mind-set to do it again.

Vosges "Mo's Bacon Bar"...

What is it? It's a chocolate bar with bacon.

The label on the front reads:

"applewood smoked bacon
alderwood smoked salt
deep milk chocolate

45% cacao"

Eh..."45% crap" is more like it. (It would have gotten a higher "crap percentage" but, in all seriousness, the chocolate itself was incredibly tasty. Furthermore, I think they invented the term "deep milk chocolate"...but I digress.)

Now, don't get me wrong...I think the thought process behind this is brilliant: "Let's take two things people LOVE and combine them." But, while I guess they were looking more for a "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate...you got your chocolate in my peanut butter" moment, to me -- it failed miserably.

I first heard of bacon chocolate bars from my friend in Texas a couple months ago and was quite intrigued to try one. I think our overall opinions were pretty much the same: We really didn't like it.

I liken it to getting a Hershey Bar (actually a yummier chocolate than that...but not dark...my preference will always be for dark), a container of Bac-O-Bits, and a small bowl of Kosher salt. Next, tequila-shot style, take a bite of the chocolate bar...let it semi-melt in your mouth...pop in a couple Bac-O-Bits...chew them up with the chocolate and while you are in the process of gagging at the thought of something really chewy and not normal IN your chocolate bar...dip the tip of your tongue...just ever so slightly...in the Kosher salt.

There! You have it. Pretty much the same exact taste with the same abnormal mouth feel.

And all for considerably less than the $6.99 I paid for the "privilege" of tasting this 3 oz baco-bar tonight.

This "taste treat abomination" gets a whopping "Production Points" score of "1".*

Lastly, the woman who puts this chocolate bar out undoubtedly thought the write-up on the back of the bar's packaging was her personal resume...and, boy-oh-boy, did she pad it. I think the only thing she left out was being the "teacher's pet" in third grade.

Perhaps if she were a tad more humble and used less words describing how "extensive and incredible" her culinary background, I'd try her other flavoured chocolates. As it is now, I'll pass. By the sheer volume of exotic and non-exotic locations she's visited, it seems she doesn't need the money, anyway.

(See all those words above the ingredients [under the windmill] and "Nutrition Facts"? It's basically all about her.)

*"Production Points" scoring: 1 is the worst...10 is the best.

13 September 2009

Nairn's Stem Ginger Oat Biscuits

I like "Ginger" cookies - not the ground up generic gingersnap ones that say they add "ginger flavour" or "ginger powder" - I'm talking real bits of yummy ginger, chewy ginger, sugared ginger, crystallized ginger...interspersed inside the cookie. Usually the best ones I've found have been from Scotland and England (especially around Christmas, they'll bring out the variety ginger biscuit set)...so I'm in Fresh Market (I love Fresh Market) and I notice a pack of some I've never tried before, so I'm game...they're from Scotland after all and everything. They are from a company called Nairn's and this is the product in all its glory:

Now words like "oat", "wheat", "stone ground", etc., don't scare me off - I like cookies that aren't overly sweet by the way - I couldn't eat an Oreo to save my life.

Anyway, I pop them open - cute, they are in four separate little baggies - nice touch. I take a bite out of one and the only thing that comes to mind is what it must be like to chew on the glued netting on the back of carpeting - it has that type of "matrix-netting-feel" to it and what I would envision the bits of glue backing falling off and sticking to my tongue would feel like - because that's what the cookie was indeed doing inside my very mouth. It just wasn't normal - and when you thought you had all the bits of "oat glue" gone, another would still be there. I had to drink copious amounts of milk to finally pry them from my tongue where they must have decided to take up residence as they don't exactly "break down or melt" as any other normal piece of food contained IN a cookie usually does. It was more annoying than getting pieces of popcorn hull stuck between your teeth/gum as these were like little flat round bits of oat fusing to your taste buds, blocking them out and reminding you constantly that they are there and won't go quietly.

They are hands down THE worst cookie I've had in my entire life - I'd rather eat a container of Oreos when I think about it...(hell, I'd rather eat the container when I think about it) but the good news is that my son would have eaten all the Oreos ahead of time, so I'd be released from doing it.

If I could give this product a negative number I would. As it is, they score a whopping 0 "Production Points".

01 September 2009

Trois Pistoles by Unibroue

I have found - what can only be described (with no blasphemous intentions) as "The Holy Grail of Beer". It is...in a two word synopsis: "wickedly tasty."

Be it told...I am NOT a beer girl. I never was...I think there are some alcohols you either have to like from the get-go...or you just don't. Some, due to the nature of the beast (I was going to use the pun ..."due to denature..." - but I figured it would be a very subtle alcohol pun at best) - you never can "acquire" a taste for.

I think you either have to like beer, straight gin, whiskey and those horribly licorice-y drinks like Ouzo, Pernod and Absinthe...or you don't. There is no real disguising this stuff. Rum, Tequila and Vodka...well, they can be combined with a myriad of non-alcoholic concoctions which render the alcohol barely perceptible to even the most die-hard discriminating blind taste-tester. You know to whom I'm referring...the one who swears "Brand X" (with the pretty label and higher price tag) is ALWAYS superior to whatever you like...and makes some cockamamie excuse (the glass was dirty AND not the right shape, I have a sinus headache today, my horoscope said today was a very bad day to do a side-by-side blind vodka tasting, etc.) as to why they totally missed their "maker's" mark and picked the inferior product.

So, I got some bratwurst the other day...Nueske's brand (because...well, I'm one of the aforementioned people I parodied above) - and decided this weekend would be a fine time to break out the old Weber, scrape off the Black Widow spiders (seriously, they live on it - no kidding) add some charcoal and play "weekend pyromaniac".

And as any self-respecting bratwurst connoisseur could tell you, no doubt in their Chicago accent, "Da brats need ta be soaked in da beer before you fire dem up." So, naturally, I had to buy beer.

"Which beer to get?" That was the question. Sure, I could go with a Sam Adams...they are tasty and always good (and when I say "always" I mean the two kinds I've tried as I don't like beer) - but they didn't have their "Cherry Wheat" variety - so...heck if I know which kind tastes good...they're beers for heaven's sake! (My friend keeps telling me that the plural of beer is "beer"...but, I like to annoy him...so for the sake of risking my "writing reputation" which I have so much riding on these days...I'm going to refer to more than one beer as "beers".)

Mix-and-match: The thing someone with absolutely no knowledge of a wide variety of items gets to take their chance on in a lotto of sorts...and the thing that restaurants cleverly rely upon to sell those horrible appetizers no one ever buys...only they call it the "appetizer sampler platter". The odds of at least one or two of the mix-and-match products being good - is pretty good. Sure, you'll undoubtedly make some bad choices...but live and learn, right?

And, true to Alabama form...I buy my beer(s) by sight alone. Yes, I concede, the label IS an attention grabber...and IF there would have been an 1880's painting of a naked nymph on the label of one of the bottles, that one woulda gone in the mix. (
Yes, Alabama...I'm never going to let you live that one down.) But, I'm perusing the shelf and things like rabid dogs and skulls with crossbones on any product I'm going to ingest - well, they aren't really a turn-on to me...so I'm passing those ones over. Something that sounds Belgian, German, or any type of foreign language which I have trouble pronouncing...automatically goes into the little six-pack holder. Also, anything with the word "Guinness" in it might get the nod...I mean the whole of the UK has been brought up on ale and stout since...well, let's just say they might be a sovereign state - but they're not a sober one. ;) (Oh, c'mon, it's in jest - it was cute.)

So...anything catching my eye is going into the little cardboard thingy...my "gang of six", so to speak. I see this one with rust and burgundy colours, a castle looking thing and a winged horse on the label...oh, yeah...that one's a keeper. Plus it has a nifty foil cap/neckline, and silver words in lower-case calligraphy which say "trois pistoles". All things which scream "this ain't no Miller Light" to me.

Upon arriving home with my stash...I do what anyone in my predicament does...I gather up my treasure trove of beer I've never tried and line them up next to me on the sofa...and Google beer rating sites. I want to see how I fared, after all...did I pick the bad clam brûlée appetizer or did I just find a bloomin' onion in the raw?

I go to uncap my "burgundy beauty" and I find the foil "sticks" all over the neck...hmmmm...a wine foil comes right off...is this SUPPOSED to be like some kid in Kindergarten got a little overzealous with the paste and decided to plaster the bottle with it instead of eating it? Or did someone take my bottle off the shelf...tamper with it and return it to the store...sight unseen à la the
Tylenol poisoning incident of 1982? Yeah...I'm paranoid...years of living with "60 Minutes", "20/20" and "Dateline" will do that to a person. But wait...Google has a YouTube regarding the foil...in the video they said "they can't stand the foil" - but they don't mention it sticking all over the place...but darnit...they mentioned how great the beer was! What do I do?? What do I DO??? Sigh...back in the box it goes.

I know! I'll go to the store tomorrow and check the other labels - if they are all sticky and hard to get off - well, surely that's the way it was meant to be...or I could call Canada and ask them. Nah...I'll go check at the store instead...it's easier and less embarrassing.

Lo and behold - they have several more - and each one is laden with annoying foil as thin as those bad pizza crusts they try to pawn off as "thin on purpose"...and it's astonishingly hard to remove and only comes off in the tiniest of bits at a time. So...all of you out there who are wondering if the foil of Unibroue's "
Trois Pistoles" beer is supposed to be that way? The answer is "yes".

The other answer I have for you is: Yes...go ahead and drink it. Drink it and do what the one online guy says to do...put it in a brandy snifter glass - oh geez...it's divine. It's heavenly...it's better than most wine I've ever had. The label touts the aftertaste is that of "old port wine". I might not have a cupboard with old port wine in it to make that discernment - but I tell you, with a shelf life of six years (yes, this specific beer sports a shelf life of six years)...my cupboard is going to be full of these babies.

Yes, they are THAT good. And for any of you who don't believe me - I would like you to take the challenge I'm offering up: Go to the store...buy a four pack (or a six pack of mix-and-match of these only), crack one open, and...IF you don't like it...email me. I'll gladly come over and take the rest of them off your hands. ;)

Side note: I don't typically spell-check these things...I hate the spell-checker as it gives one the illusion of false security...after all that word "on" you put really was supposed to be "in" and the spell-check will let it slide...so I am a great proponent of re-reading what you wrote...in my case...several times - because there's always something I change...and the subsequent obligatory 47 tweaks...AFTER I post it. But...I had a friend read this before I posted it up...to give me the "yeah, it's not THAT bad" thumbs-up, okie-dokie sign...and she pointed out that I should "recheck my spelling of 'pyromaniac'"...and upon doing so, I had to laugh. You see, I spelled it "pryomaniac" and I couldn't help but think it was more than apropos as that is, in a nutshell, what I was in my dealings with the foil...attempting (nearly in vain) to pry it all off - at least around the mouth of the bottle. So, instead of rewriting part of this blogumn to find a way to segue that word into it...and this explanation as well...I opted to post an addendum of sorts in the guise of a "side note".

And yes, the beer looked much better when I first poured it...it had been sitting for an hour or so when I snapped this photo.

24 May 2009

Chobani Yogurt

Don't even get me started with those so-called "Product Reviews" - face it, someone you don't know decides they are the end-it-all authority on whatever they're rating...

Certainly there are some reasons why you'd want to get someone's valued opinion...a big purchase item such as a car or computer; but why does everyone out there in "Internetland" feel compelled to let you know which hot dog, potato chip, or vodka they and their three college-bound (eventually maybe) buds think? And, most importantly...do I REALLY want to trust some unknown guy's opinion whose last claim to fame was commenting "heh u sux man" on YouTube's video of David Blaine's "card through the window" trick?

These are the same people, undoubtedly clueless again, who have photos of themselves online, pointing to the newly shaven pubic hair they glued to their friend's face while he was in a drunken stupour.

But, hey - maybe he knows his vodka, so let's let that bag of chips fall where they may...

...and talk about me for a while.

The origin of this blog has been inside me for years - but, one day, on an Ambien-induced late-nite search for "Chobani Yogurt" (blueberry to be exact) a few months ago...I came across another blog who devoted a whole write-up about it. They loved it - and the comments there read like some teacher's pet report card remarks:

"Wonderful!!" "Great!" "Pricey, but THE best ever!"

I in turn, wrote mine down as well, which was a little less appropriate than the grade-school garden varieties above it...(and I quote):

"I just Googled this as well after downing my very first…the blueberry flavour. I’ve had yogurt before and I’ve tried lots of brands and kinds and this, seriously, is THE best I’ve ever tried.

It’s better than ice cream, pudding AND sex…combined. Or separately…depending on your “tastes”. "

So, with that one innocuous little post, I officially came into the product reviewing fold -- I was now one of the faceless minions who do the Internet's bidding - armed only with a computer, some link, and the wherewith all to take a few minutes of my time, I commented on a much less than high-priced ticket item. I was, in essence, the proverbial everyman - with a very small mission - so here I am.

Oh, I'll still extol the virtues of Chobani yogurt - the blueberry's the best - altho I did have a batch once of "not so good" - but this only solidifies in my mind they are more "batch tasty" rather than "forced in some homogenized artificial factory (*cough* Dannon) way" - and I appreciate that. In real life you don't always get the tastiest apple, the most succulent mango, the 'to-die-for' heavenly cherry - sometimes you get the "eh" one and sometimes that kiwi you just tasted makes you wince and nearly pucker up like that time you bit into an unripe persimmon.

So, please, don't take my word, exclusively, for it - but if you want to taste THE best yogurt you will ever wrap your lips around - try it for yourself.

At around $2 for a 6 ounce container - expensive-ish...but beats any yogurt I've tasted in years. Blueberry: 10 out of 10 Production Points; the others 7-8 out of 10.

26 April 2009

Here kitty, kitty... aka the "Kickeroo" Review

Cats are aloof. Cats are independent. Cats are fickle. Cats are the perfect pet as they are self-cleaning and self-entertaining little balls of purry goodness. Aside from feeding them and cleaning out the litterbox...they pretty much are better than most humans I know. But...they are extremely notorious for enjoying the packaging or bag that any toy comes in much better than the toy itself...which can be extremely frustrating for us cat owners.

Whereas most dogs will play with a favourite toy for eons - cats, in my opinion, are much smarter than dogs and know full well if they walk away snubbing the new toy...shortly soon after, another (usually more expensive) toy will be bought to take its place.

I am extremely guilty of kowtowing to that human manipulation technique of theirs. Walk in any day of the week and you'll no doubt notice my carpet is regularly strewn with all types of toys - and I'm certain it makes them inwardly giggle with delight when I jump a foot or two off the ground after stepping on one thinking if was half of something once alive they dragged inside.

I am also convinced they take some sadistic pleasure seeing me gathering up all the unused toys off the floor, in between cabinets, and under the chairs and sofas...because I commence to vacuum. What's probably more entertaining than even that to watch, is the "toy retrieval ritual". C'mon, everyone with a cat has done this one: You suck up some wayward toy (there's always one hiding somewhere) and then you have to turn it off and dig it out of the dusty vacuum bin. You brush it off and toss it back on the newly vacuumed part of the floor - and true to feline form...they walk right past it, preferring, instead, a squooshed pipe-cleaner contraption my kids made for them.

Why I even bother getting another toy is beyond me - but I do...I'm sure we ALL do.

Oh, sure, occasionally we hit the jackpot - as the "ball in the round tube ring" toy is absolutely captivating to them...for a few bats of the trapped ball inside it. I've even seen them go tandem with the thing - one cat on each side - smacking the ball with complete abandon to the other . To them this is an endless delight...for a couple minutes...but hey, it's also "self-motivated". In technical catspeak that means "they play with it by themselves...no third party human intervention needed." No strings to be pulled, no tossing to be had, no staging to be done...just a one-time set-up - that's all that's involved. Once in a while you change the location - other than that...well, there is no "other than that". That's it.

The laser pointer is also fun - but not all my cats go ga-ga over it - and - without opposable thumbs, it does THEM no good whatsoever. The fun continues only as long as you want to take the time out of your busy schedule...between checking emails, playing back those saved TiVo shows you had to tape, and reading trivial drivel off of Facebook. Even the cats lose interest with the pointer after a bit. Face it - there's only so many times a cat wants to run head-on into a wall at the end of the hall for your sick amusement before they call it quits. Granted, it's a LOT more times than you'd figure - but still...there's a breaking off point eventually.

So, while we were on another mission at Petsmart the other day to find that elusive "perfect toy", I spotted an unassuming candidate. My daughter thought it looked pretty stupid - and to be honest with her...and you...it does. A simplistic limbless, headless Sock Puppet of a thing with a fancy sewed on tail. A small ribbon adorns what undoubtedly should be the "neck"...in necks had no distinction whatsoever from the rest of the body (think of weight-lifters here). These "mock sock" things come in zebra, tiger and giraffe prints, as well, we all know what big game hunters our cats envision themselves. It also doesn't have a fancy package - just a simple folded over placard calling it the "Kickeroo" where it says something about how your cat will love it. Yeah...we're no stranger to THAT line, Bucko...we've seen that saying more times than we have cats...and I have a LOT of cats.

Behold: The totally unassuming "Kickeroo"...made by "Kong"...

But I, having watched countless lion and tiger kills on animal documentaries (and even a few of my cats' own doing, unfortunately) - I knew the beauty of this thing and immediately proclaimed to my daughter, "If this thing does what I THINK it will - the cats will absolutely love it!" And considering the price was less than the majority of my other "mistakes" - it wasn't going to break me if it didn't live up to my mental hoopla of it.

Eagerly I shelled out the $5.00 for it and took it home. It was then I found out it had something the others were sorely lacking: catnip that works! Inside this toy was the Fancy Feast of catnip; the caffeine of catnip, the Holy Grail of catnip! I have innumerable catnip-stuffed things, mind you - you're not dealing with a novice here. I have balls, I have mice, I have things with strings, things with feathers, things with multi-whispy tails, things you open up to put more catnip in; things cats scratch (well are supposed to scratch on) you put catnip on; things you throw; things you pull; things you reel in; things you hang from doorways and doorknobs; things that even dangle from other things. But the catnip inside must be the Miracle Whip of catnip, the generic version of catnip, the lo-fat version of catnip..."catnip lite". What I'm trying to tell you is that the majority of this stuff doesn't work - yeah, the cats might sniff it - but until you see the REAL thing in action, you'll be content, as I was, with their lackluster poking of it. Face it, you don't ever see Consumer Reports doing up catnip ratings - whatever grade of "nip" goes in these things are just not the stuff that "Best Tasting Vodka Brands" are made of.

So, we tossed it on the floor after a couple "massages" of its catnip mid-section and retrieved a cat from the kitchen. Our cat's have the uncanny ability to know when you've just bought canned cat food - how they know this is a mystery to me - but they all flock around when I bring those bags inside. But back to the toy...

We plopped the cat down next to the "Kickeroo" - and without so much as a nudge or shake - he was on it like white on rice. He promptly "killed" it and "kicked" it and "killed and kicked" it some more. He guarded it with his life. No cat was going to take this prey from him...not anytime soon. After killing it over and over - he played with it, then snuggled it...and after a good 15 minutes, passed out with his head triumphantly on top of it. Without a doubt, the combination of design and high-grade catnip works wonders.

And it didn't stop there - all the other cats walking past it - also had to "kill" it. One-by-one they all took a turn kicking and biting it to death before going all sweet on it and then nodding off to sleep in euphoric bliss.

These were definitely some contented cats. I won't tell you how many - but take my word for it. If the "cat ratio" at my house is any indication...this toy will definitely please the masses.

While I have no qualms about this toy at all - for some inexplicable reason I couldn't bring myself to call it by its given name (a fact that annoys my son to the utmost), the "Kickeroo"...sure it provides an instant visual and all...but I automatically dubbed it the "Pony". Again, I have no reason - but it's catchy and it's less syllables to pronounce - and it stuck. I doubt the manufacturer is going to have an issue with this fact.

The only real suggestions I have for anyone contemplating this toy is: Get used to tying the ribbon back on - we tied it tightly, thereby making a real good "neck" on the thing - but the cats are determined to kick it off...and we'll periodically find the ribbon lying in close proximity to the toy. The cats do like the ribbon and the newly formed neck, so I have no plans to toss the ribbon out - plus it's fun to see they don't just play with the thing for our amusement - they genuinely like to play with it when no one's around to watch.

Oh, and if you've got a multi-cat household? You might just want to grab a second one. We ended up going back to get one a few days later just in case they stopped selling or making them - which really would be a sad thing.

So...the cat's now out of the bag, so to speak...and the bottom line is:

As for my review of it, I give the "Kickeroo" "10 out of 10" Production Points. At right around $5.00-$6.00 it's a great value for the money and delivers way more than expected.

Can't find it in any stores near you? Check it out online at CatToys.com
- chances are you won't be sorry.

19 April 2009

Welcome to my other blog...just what IS it?

I've been contemplating doing this type of blog for ages. Many times I want to try a product, talk about a great product, talk about a bad product, or just vent about a product in general in some way, shape or form...BUT there are several factors at play here:
  1. Nine times out of ten...when I search up info about a product, I just get a bunch of sites selling the product (of course it's great!)...or I get some girl (usually it's a girl...no sexism intended) with the IQ of an anesthetized cat giving me the low-down about it - usually at YouTube. I am sorry...just because you are remotely cute you should not try to tell me about said product in a string of mono-syllabic disjointed words - with "ummmm" being interjected between every two. If you cannot use a flat iron and talk at the same time...for heaven's sake don't post an instructional video about it. Furthermore, your utter lack of communication skills makes me trust your opinion even less.

  2. If I like a product...and I want to tell everyone how great it is...my other blog just isn't the place to do so...this one is.

  3. If I can't stand a product...and I want to tell everyone how horrible it is...my other blog just isn't the place to do so...this one is.

  4. Lastly, sometimes I can't find anything ABOUT a certain product and because I can't be the only one wanting to get a little info before buying...perhaps if I put something up about it (after trying it)...I can possibly help someone who is in the same predicament I once was.

Of course I would love to get other peoples' feedback as well. I do not claim to be the oracle of product knowledge...nor do I think mine is the only opinion which is right...but it's my opinion and I am allowed to share it with others.

That, in a nutshell...is what this blog is about. I hope visitors here will find it useful...and will take the time to agree or disagree...or, at the very least, say something via the comment box.

Thank you -