Saturday, September 22, 2012

479° Popcorn

I've been on a serious popcorn kick lately.

It all started when I visited my parents in July, and attended the local farmer's market with my mom.  The market was tiny compared to the Ferry Buliding farmer's market that I'm used to.  The produce was fine, but nothing spectacular.  Overall, it seemed pretty forgettable.  And then my mom mentioned that she needed to get her "treat": a lemonade and a bag of popcorn.  She lead me to a stand where they were making fresh kettle corn.  It smelt great, but it was just popcorn, how exciting would it really be?  While we waited for her lemonade to be freshly squeezed, I idly took a handful of the fresh popcorn.  It was salty.  It was sweet.  It was totally and completely addicting.  I couldn't stop eating it.

I haven't found kettle corn as good as that stuff anywhere else.  I've tried tons of popcorns, from packaged ones, to microwave ones, to fancy ones sold at the farmer's markets here.  None even come close to that popcorn.  The good news is, it freezes wonderfully.  I think I might even prefer it frozen, as it gets a little crunchier.  I may or may not have filled every remaining space in my luggage on my last return trip with popcorn.  And I may have mocked my mom when she overnight mailed me a giant bag of it as a surprise, telling her how ridiculous it was to spend that much money on shipping popcorn.  But secretly, I was thrilled.

Anyway, this review isn't about that popcorn.  This is about 479°, a San Francisco based gourmet popcorn maker.  They are local, but sell it packaged in regular retail locations.  They have some savory and some sweet varieties, with fairly interesting flavors.

I almost really like all of their popcorns, but at the end of the day, they all leave me wanting something more.  Specifically, the popcorn from that tiny farmer's market in New Hampshire ...
  • Fluer de Sel Caramel: "Sweet, crunchy caramel sprinkled with delicate flakes of sea salt".  Tasting notes:  Almost too sweet?  Not quite awesome.  Not quite a caramel corn, salt not really there enough. [ Way too sweet ]  [ Not actually good, but almost good, so you keep eating it trying to make it be good.  almost too sweet, too much caramel.]  [ Really too sweet, I want to like this more than I do ]
  • White Cheddar and Black Truffle: "Aged white cheddar drizzled with aromatic black truffle oil."  Tasting notes: truffle is very subtle, don't really taste it.  Mostly just standard white cheddar popcorn with a bit of earthiness.  [ Not very good, cheddar very mild, meh. ] [ Cheddar too mild, not much truffle, meh ]
  • Chipotle Caramel + Almond: “Rich, dark caramel spiked with chipotle chili + toasted almonds”.  Tasting notes: sweet and ok, but not all that standout. [ Just kinda there.  Sweet, slightly spicy aftertaste, but really nothing special ] [ I really don’t get the chipotle at all.  Just kinda sweet popcorn, slight caramel flavor on finish.   One almond in entire bag. Meh. ]
  • Ginger Sesame Caramel:  "Ginger-infused crunchy caramel tossed with toasted black sesame seeds".  Tasting notes: sweet and ok, but not all that interesting. [  Just like the fleur de sel, almost good but not really.  Lots of caramel, but not very good ginger or sesame flavors. ]
  • Pimentòn de La Vera: "Smoky Spanish paprika with bursts of ripe organic tomato + onion." Tasting notes: Nice and spicy, liked.
  • Vietnamesse Cinnamon Sugar: "Vietnamese cinnamon dusted with crunchy light sugar".  Tasting notes:  flavor too subtle, not very cinnamony or sugary.
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