Friday, September 19, 2014

Chunky Pig Popcorn

Chunky Pig is a local popcorn maker.  I eat a lot of popcorn, so that isn't particularly novel.  But they don't just make popcorn, they make caramel corn.  Ok, again, not particularly novel.  But ... they don't make just any caramel corn, they make candied bacon caramel corn, available with or without peanuts.

I love caramel corn, I love bacon, so this sounded too good to be true.  I was overjoyed when I got a sample bag.  You can find Chunky Pig around San Francisco at speciality grocery stores, and apparently in Portland, too.  The caramel corn is gluten-free and dairy-free, if that matters to you.  The other ingredients are quality, they use real Vermont maple syrup and Niman Ranch candied bacon.  But ... I sadly didn't love it.
Candied Bacon Caramel Corn.
The popcorn was sweet, as you'd expect from caramel corn.  It was also very salty due to the bacon, a combination I always like.  The bacon wasn't visible, but it was surely there, the flavor not subtle at all.  The kernels were all well coated.

Flavor-wise, it was good.  Popcorn coating-wise, it was good.  But ... the kernels were soft, and not crispy or crunchy.  I put it in the freezer, and it was much better after it froze a bit (which actually, I always like my caramel corn better frozen, try it sometime!)

This was almost awesome, but not quite.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Birthday Pinkberry Froyo!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cathay Pacific First Class, HND-HKG, CX549

After my rather ridiculous ordeal getting to Tokyo, you’d think the last thing I’d want to do would be to add more travel time to my trip back.  I was booked on JL2, a direct flight from Haneda to San Francisco.  9 hours and change.  With my co-workers as travel companions.  Easy.

But … while in Tokyo, my friend Emil, and another frequent flyer friend, joined us in Tokyo, just for the weekend.  This is the sort of thing that they do regularly.  Emil came for Friday - Sunday, the other for just Saturday and Sunday.  Then, they flew off to Singapore, where the other was speaking at a conference.  Emil was just along for the fun.  Yes, these guys travel a lot.  And they do it in style. 

Anyway, over dinner one night, I was telling them about how much I did end up liking my Cathay Pacific business class experience, even though it added a zillion hours to my travel time.  I said that I was starting to understand their lives, how they’d consider just coming to Tokyo for a weekend, then jet off to Singapore for a few days.  I said that I’d actually even consider going back through Hong Kong on my way back, rather than flying direct as planned.  I wasn't sure if I was serious or not.  But they were.  They both told me to do so.  And they said I had to fly first class.  I’ve never done that before, on any airline, for an international flight.

I wasn’t sure if I was crazy or not.  I could leave with everyone else, on a midnight flight, in business class, on JAL, straight back to SF.  The timing wasn’t awesome, as the flight is only 9 hours, so after all the hubbub of meal service and whatnot, I’d only get about 6 hours of sleep.  And JAL’s business class isn't fully flat.  But, I was booked on it, and it was easy.  Why would I want to complicate things by adding in a 5 hours flight to Hong Kong, a 4.5 hour layover in Hong Kong, and then a 12 hour flight to SF?  Why?

Well, because it sounded like such an experience!  And, I didn’t really get to check out the lounges in Hong Kong on my trip there, as I only had about 20 minutes between connecting.  Emil told me all about the new flagship lounge, with a champagne bar.  And I knew they had bathing cabanas!

So, I did it.  (Ok, really, what I did was tell Emil to make the decision for me, since I was on the fence.)  And of course he changed my flight to Cathay.  And, even though I said I didn’t need to fly first class, he put me in First anyway.  I have no idea how I’ll ever repay him.  Let's just say that he provided me with a very, very memorable experience.  It was the first time that I truly felt that transit was not just about getting from point A to point B, but rather, it was about the dining, the level of service, and everything else that can go along with the entire experience.  It wasn’t a quick 9 hour flight back, and was a full day of travel instead, but … wow.  I have no regrets for making a day out of my travel.

My journey home began in the Sakura Lounge at Haneda airport, which I reviewed last week.

Then, it was time to board CX549, with a 4:25pm departure time from Haneda, and ~4 hour flight time to HKG.

The first class cabin consists of only 6 seats, arranged in two rows, two windows and a center each, all with direct aisle access.  5 were occupied on this flight, and the others were all Asian men, in suits.  I felt a bit out of place.

But, the attendants put me at ease immediately.  The service throughout was rather amazing.  Very attentive, obviously, as there were 2 staff for only 5 passengers.  Somehow they were constantly moving, and busy.  They were also really friendly.  I told one of them I was going to San Francisco as my final destination, and the other stopped by later to talk to me about the city.  They really do an incredible job with customer service.

The flight was also really smooth.  Besides takeoff and landing, the seatbelt light never went on, and we didn’t seem to encounter a single bump along the way.

Overall, it was a lovely flight.  Sure, I was on a plane for 4.5 hours, but I honestly wasn’t bored for a single moment of it.  The start of the flight was exciting as I explored my seat, and I spent the next couple hours eating the ridiculous meal.  I’m sure I could have paced it even slower if I had wanted, and if I had a dining companion, I probably would have.  It is kinda crazy to think of it this way, but rather than just being how you get from point A to point B around dinner time, this flight truly was a fine dining experience on its own.

But, this was just the start.  The real magic lay ahead, as I explored the Cathay Pacific Lounges in Hong Kong, and then, eventually boarded my flight to San Francisco, the most memorable flight I've ever taken.
My Seat/Couch.
This was my very first time flying international first class.  I knew the seat would be large, but I didn’t realize quite how large my seating area would truly be!  It was like my own little private zone, calling it a seat isn't quite accurate.  The width of the seat in particular was insane, I could have easily fit two of me side by side in this seat.  Possibly three.  Crazy!  From now on, I’ll refer to this part of the seat as my couch, rather than just a seat.

The couch was fairly comfortable, reclining in all sorts of ways.  I didn’t ever put it down into a full bed, since the flight was from 4:30pm - 9pm, but it of course did lay flat.

Along the windows was a sizable area for drinks and whatever else I pulled out along the way.  My seating area spanned the length of 3 windows!  A massive dining table came out of the window sill as well.

Since it was a daytime flight, I was also provided with a pillow and light duvet.  I didn’t use any of this until the final 20 minutes or so when it got a bit chilly, but the others in my cabin did snooze for most of the flight.
Guest Seat.
Opposite the couch-seat was a guest seat, so a travel companion could come sit with me, either just to socialize, or for the meal service.  The guest seat was easily as large as a regular seat in economy.  I was flying solo, but I think this is pretty awesome feature.  You could just sit back and have a real meal with someone while airborne.  Seems like the time would just fly by, tee hee, pun intended.

Under that seat was a storage area for my bags.
Huge Television!
Also opposite my seat was a HUGE television screen, featuring the same entertainment system we had in business class, along with a storage slot for magazines and whatnot.
My closet.
Next to the tv, a closet.  Yes, a closet.  No overhead bins in first class, rather individual closets, complete with hangers and hooks.  If this had been an overnight flight, and I was flying directly to business meetings and thus be wearing a suit or something, the closets seems pretty amazing.  It was a bit lost on me though.  Still, the amount of storage available at my seat was impressive, and it was all highly functional.

I don't have a photo of it, but no airline review is complete without mentioning the bathrooms, right?  First of all, for 6 seats, first class had two bathrooms!  I never had to wait, even momentarily.

The first class bathroom was everything it should be.  Spacious, with real towels, lotion, soap, moisturizing mist, and huge mirrors.  The most impressive part to me however was the fact that the water had an on/off.  It didn’t just run for an insufficient 5 seconds and then turn itself off.  The little things, they matter!
Pre-flight drink: Amour De Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2005.
Once I settled in, a hot towel was brought for my hands, and a drink was offered.  I was a bit amused that the attendant suggested water or juice.  Doesn’t everyone start with bubbles?  I asked for the champagne instead.  Since this was considered a regional flight, not long haul, they didn’t have the Krug I’d read about, but instead offered Amour De Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2005.  I didn’t really care for it, too acidic, and not sweet enough for me.
Non-Alcoholic Drink List.
Soon after takeoff, menus were offered, and additional drinks could be ordered.  Non-alcoholic drinks were standard juices, soft drinks, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.
Water, snack mix.
Knowing what was in store for me, I started with sparkling water (Perrier).  It was offered with ice and lemon, both of which I accepted.

Along with the drinks, we were provided a little bowl of snack mix.  Peanuts, wasabi peas, rice snacks.  All of these were intensely flavorful, particularly the wasabi peas.  They weren’t messing around!  This was some of the best snack mix I’ve ever had, and uh, I eat a lot of snacks.
Regular Wine List.
I also pursued the alcohol lists.  In addition to the champagne I already had, there were a variety of wines, red and white.
Special Wine List.
In addition, a special promotion wine list was provided with six specially selected wines from Saint-Émilion.
Hard Alcohol, Cocktails.
A decent liquor selection was also available.  I almost started with the MaCallan 17, but decided to have a bit more fun, and went for the signature drink, the “Pacific Sunrise” instead.
Pacific Sunrise.
Described as a “refreshing combination of champagne and Drambuie with the zest of orange and lemon.”

Now this was delicious!  And it looked really, really good with the zest floating in the glass.  Not too sweet, nice citrus, lovely drink.  I see why it is their signature drink.  The purser told me it was quite popular, and when I said I’d never had it before, she made sure to tell me to let her know if I didn’t like it.  Not a problem, as I loved it.  They also offered an interesting sounding non-alcoholic cocktail, dubbed the “Cathay Delight”, a mix of coconut juice, kiwi, and mint.  I like that they have options for non-drinkers too!  It sounds like something that would be tasty in the morning.

Cathay is known for their alcohol selection, but mostly because they serve Krug on long haul flights, which I'd get to experience on the next leg of my journey.  I was really happy to see that they offered a great selection of other items, for those of us who aren’t quite as crazy about champagne.
Dinner Menu, Western.
For the meal, I had the choice of a Western Meal, or Japanese.  Since the flight was out of Japan, I’d been advised by my frequent flyer friend Emil to go for the Japanese meal (the general protip is to always go for the cuisine of the country catering the food, which, sounds entirely reasonable).  When I saw the menu for the Western meal, I was almost tempted to not listen to him, but decided he knew best.

The Western meal started with either a leek and potato soup (yawn) or herb marinated smoked salmon, seared scallops, and pesto cream sauce.  Oh, be still my heart!  But, I did have a lovely salmon dish at lunch earlier that day, and scallops at lunch not only that day but the previous few days as well, so I decided I could pass on it.  It was hard to resist, and in the end, I did regret this choice.  But more on that in a minute.

The first choice for the Western main dish was pan-fried chicken breast with caramelized onion sauce, parsley potato, sautéed spinach and baby carrots.  Meh, I don’t like chicken, so this was easy to ignore.  Next was braised pork ‘lion head’ with vegetable rice and braised baby Chinese cabbage.  Again, I don’t like pork, so easy to skip.  The final option was vegetarian, green pea and mint agnolotti with roasted capsicum and caramelized pearl onions, surely the dish I would have chosen if I went Western, but it didn't sound that great.
Dinner Menu, Japanese.
So instead I went for the Japanese meal, served in a traditional Kaiseki style.  I was a bit overwhelmed by the menu, as it seemed to include a thousand dishes: a canapé set of 5 items, an appetizer set of another 4 items, a braised dish of several more items, a soup dish, a side dish, a noodle dish, a hot dish, rice, and miso soup.  ZOMG.  The Western meal was just a single app and main choice with some sides, not really sure why they make the Japanese one such a ridiculous ordeal.

But hey, I had 4.5 hours to kill, why not spend them eating?

If only I was more hungry!  I really learned my lesson.  Do not have a big lunch before taking a Cathay Pacific First Class flight.  Unlike the "real" world, you do want to eat this airplane food!

The presentation of the meal was insane.  Restaurant quality for sure.  I had to constantly pinch myself to remember that I was on an airplane.  The ingredients used were also unlike anything I’ve ever been served on a plane before.  I see why people rave about the food aboard Cathay Pacific.  They aim to impress.

I was impressed, obviously for airline food, but, perhaps because I wasn’t that hungry, or perhaps because I went for the very traditional Japanese meal which was a bit outside my comfort zone, I didn’t love it.  But the experience?  Priceless.
Canapés.
My meal started with my table being set with a white tablecloth.  If I had a dining companion, they could have easily sat opposite me, and there would be plenty of room for us to both dine.  My drinks were moved onto the table.

I was provided wooden chopsticks and a chopstick rest.  I broke my chopsticks trying to open them.  Doh.  I pressed my call button, and within seconds they were replaced, and this time, she offered to open them for me.  I felt a bit silly, but obliged.

My meal came with a handwritten note.  How adorable.  I think if you are a regular flyer, they probably include something personal here too.

The first course was canapés, described as "braised nameko and buckwheat seed, broiled amago fish with miso paste, braised sea kelp roll with sea bream roe, broad bean cake with sticky rice, braised baby abalone with shell".  All cold items.

I didn’t know what nameko was.  Nor amago.  But, overall the dishes sounded fascinating, and I haven’t had abalone in ages!  When the platter was brought out, I had no idea what was what.  It took some detective work.  And, some things were surely not listed accurately on the menu.

In the center of the platter was a whole little fish, I’m guessing the amago.  I'm still not sure I was correct about this however, since I looked it up, and amago is a type of salmon, and it always seems larger than what I was served.  It was presented inside a boat made from artichoke.  It had a head, it had a tail, but I was brave and still tried it.  It was meaty and fine, but, given how much other stuff I had coming my way, I didn’t finish it.  I’m not sure if the artichoke was more garnish or for eating, but since I don’t like artichoke, I skipped that too.  But major points for presentation.

Above the fish were three items.  Starting from the top, there was the braised sea kelp roll with sea bream roe.  It was a bit fishy, from both the row and the kelp, but the presentation was lovely.  Rolled up and then tied off.  Not my favorite, but really nicely done.

Below that was the broad bean cake with sticky rice, which was a broad bean that had been cut in half and stuffed with the rice.  Not really what I was expecting for a "cake".  I don’t love beans, but I tried it anyway. Just a mushy bean and rice.  Meh.

Below that was the braised baby abalone, served in the shell.  This was the one I was most looking forward to, but turned out to be fairly disappointing.   Very chewy, in the way that gives abalone a bad name.  But um, they served me abalone on a plane!  In a shell!  Again, serious presentation points.

The other side of the plate is where I was more confused.  On top was a ball of something on a skewer.  It seemed almost cheese like?  I’m really not sure.  It was fascinating, perhaps my favorite thing on the platter, just because I had no idea what was going on there.

Below that was a cherry tomato stuffed with something, and wrapped in a leaf.  What?  I have no idea what was inside, it seemed to be some sort of grain, perhaps this was the buckwheat seed?  It had a really lovely smokiness to it.

And finally, 3 grilled items, that looked like leeks.  Or maybe asparagus.  But, as I bit in, I realized it was none of the above.  I have no idea what this was.  Perhaps this was the nameko?  Nameko are mushrooms, perhaps this was the stems only?

The presentation of the platter was lovely, but I didn’t actually care for most of it.

The moment I finished my plate was whisked away, and the next course was brought out.
Appetizers, Chinese Quince Wine.
The first platter was just my canapés, now it was time for appetizers.  Like I said, this was going to be a long meal!

The appetizer was another full plate, described as "salted red pandra filet, half beak fish kelp roll, seasoned salmon roe, sea urchin roll with red tuna".

Sea urchin!  This course is what sold me on getting this meal rather than the Western, as my blog has an entire label devoted to uni.  Like with the first course, I had a hard time figuring out what was what.  But again, look at this presentation!

The plate was served on a platter, with a lemon wedge, and wasabi served on a flower made from daikon, and a dish of soy sauce.  The wasabi was legit, it had some serious kick.  Far better than any wasabi I ever get in the US!

This course also came with Chinese quince wine with soda, served in a sake glass.  I loved it.  I’ve never had quince wine before, but it reminded me of plum wine, which I generally order with my sushi.  A bit sweet, really quite nice.  Cathay might not have totally impressed me with the food itself, but the drinks?  So good!

In the center was a red fish, sashimi style.  I’m guessing the red tuna?  But the red tuna was supposed to be a roll, with uni.  I'm not sure, but this sure tasted like tuna.  3 slices, sushi grade, pretty nice fish.  I can’t believe this was on a plane, as it surpassed the quality of the sushi I’d had at our team dinner in Tokyo a few nights earlier.  My second favorite item on the platter.

To the right was a roll, I'm going to guess the half beak kelp roll, as it seemed to be white fish wrapped up with kelp, served on a bed of shredded … diakon?  This one surprised me.  It was salty.  It was fishy.  But, I really liked it.  The kelp had a nice chew to it.  And, sometimes, you just want something super salty.  My favorite item on the platter, and still quite memorable.

And on the left must have been the salted red pandra filet, another fish, skin on, wrapped in thin slice of daikon, with cutouts on it.  I'm at a complete loss here, as I can't figure out what red pandra is, the internet doesn't seem to know about it.  Salmon roe popped out of it.  I didn’t care for this item.  Salty, fishy, skin.  Meh.  The salmon roe was standard, not something I ever really care for.

I didn’t see urchin anywhere, which was highly disappointing.  This course however was much better than the first.

The first and second course came out in rapid succession, and, I wasn’t actually hungry yet, as it was only 4pm when I boarded, I of course snacked a bunch in the lounge, and I'd had a big lunch before leaving for the airport.  I intentionally slowed down at this point, and this was clearly noted, and the pace of my meal was slowed accordingly.  I was a bit worried how I was going to make it through the next zillion courses though!
Braised Dish, Clear Soup.
Next, the braised dish and soup dish.  Described as "braised baby octopus and bean curd skin roll with braised pork, and pumpkin" and "clear soup with ice fish with sake".

I’m not much of a soup eater, but it was really tasty.  The broth was intensely flavored, again, salty, which I was really into.  And it was nice to have something so warm.  I’m not sure what was inside, a few assorted vegetables and some stringy white things I couldn’t identify.  Ice fish?  No idea.  Was sake inside of it?  Again, not sure.  (I looked up ice fish when I got home, and found they are also called noodlefish, and I'm pretty sure that is what the stringy things were, whole fish!)

The braised dish was another collection of items I had a hard time identifying, partially due to the description not matching the number of items.

The braised baby octopus was obvious, although I was a bit scared of it. It was the full thing, body and tentacles attached.  It was fine actually, tender.  Not flavorful itself, but the sauce that was all over the dish added flavor to everything.

There was a flower made from something orange, which I assumed was pumpkin, but seemed more like carrot.  And there were two different cake-like items.  Under it all was greens, I think Chinese broccoli.  It was all coated in some kind of sauce.

One of the cake-like items turned out to the pumpkin, which I liked, because I always love winter squashes.  Well cooked, a bit of skin on.

The other was the bean curd skin roll stuffed with pork. I dislike pork, and this was porky.  But I liked the bean curd skin wrapping it.

The sauce on everything was tasty, no idea what it was though, as it was left out of the description.

I also had cold sake to go along with this, a decent sake, but I’m not much of a sake connoisseur.  When my water ran out, I was asked if I wanted a refill, and an entire can was provided in addition.  Service was top notch throughout the flight.
Side dishes, noodle dish, hot dish, rice, pickles, miso soup.
Um, wow.  So, I was stuffed already.  And then this happened.

The “side dish”, top center, was boiled baby squid, with crab legs, over seaweed salad.  The baby squid was distinctly different from the octopus in the previous course, just the bodies, no tentacles.  Again, tender, not rubbery, but I didn’t really like it.  The assortment of seaweed used was impressive, fresh tasting, and many varieties.  The crab leg however was not very good.  Stringy.  Shell on, with cartilage still inside.  Meh.  There was a small bottle of something on the side that I think was supposed to be the dressing for it, since the dish didn’t have a lot of flavor on its own.  It was a honey mustard it seemed, a bit strange to pair with these items, but quite flavorful.

To the left was the noodle dish: "seaweed noodle and Japanese yam noodle, with wasabi and seasoned mushrooms".  There were clearly two types of noodle here, but meh, noodles.  Not too soggy, but still, noodles.  I again loved the wasabi, and the little mushrooms were really well seasoned.  This also came with a little container of sauce to pour over.  I was looking at the container a bit confused, since I wasn’t sure which dish it was meant to go with, and my attendant quickly saw my confusion and told me it was for the noodles.  I guess this was a fine dish, but not really my thing.

To the right, miso soup.  Salty, hot, pretty good for miso soup, but, meh, just miso soup.  Not nearly as flavorful as the previous soup course.  There was a ball of something floating in it, perhaps a wheat gluten ball?  I’m not sure.

The bottom row started with white rice.  I’m never a huge rice fan, but this was hot and fresh, and Cathay is known for having real rice steamers on board.  For rice, particularly on a plane, I guess it was good?

In the center was the main hot dish, described as "baked fish, deep fried fresh bean curd skin, and lily bulb cake".  Another stunning presentation.  Two pieces of fish, tails included, rolled up.  Served inside some sort of husk.  I’m not sure what the fish was, it was meaty, a bit oily, and actually pretty good.  Perhaps mackerel?  If I’d been hungry, I would have really enjoyed it.  The fried fresh bean curd skin was basically soggy tofu, that I really, really didn’t care for.  But I rarely like tofu.  Under all of this was some sort of grain, very mushy.  On the side, a beautiful leaf, and, the lily bulb cake. Now, this I loved.  Best thing from the entire meal.  A bit sweet, a bit glutenous, delicious.  Soy sauce was provided on the side for dipping my fish.

And finally, assorted pickles.  I can’t get enough of pickles, no matter what culture they come from.  These were no different.  I loved the diakon.  The others seemed to be some sort of greens, and perhaps a cabbage?  All tart, crispy, and I loved them.  The only one I didn’t like was the pink ball.  I’m not sure what it was, but it had a seed inside, and it hurt me when I bit into it.  It needed a warning message.

Overall, this platter wasn’t my favorite, but, I was really, really, really full at this point.  I should have known better and not snacked so much in the lounge. And not had such a big lunch, since I knew we were taking off at 4:30pm, and this meal would come soon after.  Protip for next time.
Dessert, decaf coffee, pralines.
After all that, it was time for dessert.  I know, I know, I was just saying I was way too full.  I did ask to take a short break at that point.  I went to use the restroom, and when I returned, I was asked if I was ready.   Well, not really, I was still stuffed!  But ... dessert!

The Japanese meal normally concludes with fresh seasonal fruit, but the Western meal had a few other choices, like a cheese course consisting of Combozola, Comte, Double Gloucester, and Chaumes. I know Emil would have gotten that one!  But me, I’m all about “real dessert”, so the other choice of apple streusel pie with clotted cream caught my eye.  Yes, I realize that after that ridiculous meal the simple fruit should have been sufficient, but come on, you know me.

The pie was served warm!  But ... it wasn’t very good pie.  Not that I ever love apple pie, but this was less good than normal.  Fairly mushy.  The crust not remarkable.  It also had raisins in it, mixed with the apples.  Raisins in apple pie?  So strange.  It did have nuts on top, which I liked, I guess this was the streusel element.  But it was, WARM PIE.  ZOMG.  Even if I didn’t love the pie, I give them props for serving warm pie.  Normally, I love my warm pie with ice cream, but I’ll forgive them for the lack of ice cream.  The clotted cream was legit.  This was no whipped cream.  It was thick, it was creamy, sweetened, insanely good.  Topped with a little leaf no less.  I kept picking at the pie, only to be have an excuse to keep eating the cream.  In the end, I gave up, and just ate it by the spoonful.  A pile of clotted cream isn’t THAT different from pudding, right?  I’m shameless.

I also ordered a decaf coffee to go with it, which was served with a small pitcher of cream and brown sugar cubes.  I feel bad that they prepared the additions for it, since I wanted it black, but I wasn't asked how I wanted it.  Just like in business class, the coffee, while it may have been fresh brewed, was not very good.  Bitter.  Meh.  I’ll stop trying it, even though I like having bitter coffee to pair with my dessert.

Dessert also came with a plate of assorted chocolates: 4 cocoa covered hazelnuts, a dark chocolate bar with dried cranberries, and a cocoa covered chocolate truffle.

I’m not a huge fan of hazelnuts, so didn’t really care for those, although they had a nice crunch.  The truffle was great, the chocolate inside very smooth, and darker than I expected.  I didn’t love the cocoa powder on it however, it was bitter and a bit annoying.  The dark chocolate bar was quite good, the chocolate rich and smooth, better than most dark chocolate.

Along with dessert, I had glass of port, because I could: Ramos Pinto Quinta da Ervamoira 10 Year Old Tawny Port.  The port however didn’t arrive with my dessert, but when my water ran out, I asked for it again.  When the water was delivered, she apologized for the port, clearly realizing it had been forgotten.

The port was lovely, the perfect thing to conclude my meal.  I must say, the drinks I had with the meal were all really, really good.  The starter champagne wasn’t really my thing, but the Pacific Sunrise cocktail, the Chinese quince wine, the sake, and the port were all phenomenal.  And I didn’t even get to try the wines, the whiskies, or the sherries, all of which were tempting me too.  I knew I had more lounge time up ahead, and another flight, so I didn’t want to drink too much.  But wow, what a drink menu.  It made me almost wish I was doing a longer daytime flight, just to work my way through it.

My meal ended with another hot towel, floss, and a toothpick.
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Justin's Peanut Butter Cups

Justin's is a company that primarily makes nut butters: almond, peanut, and hazelnut.  They come in versions sweetened with maple syrup or honey, and in fun vanilla or chocolate flavors.  More novel than the flavors is the fact that the peanut butter doesn't just come in jars, Justin's also sells squeeze packs, incredibly convenient for packing lunches, or, as I often do, for use on airplanes!  It is incredibly fun to make fresh peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on flights.  Your seat mates will be jealous, I promise.
Single Serve Squeeze Pack: Classic Peanut Butter.
I've had the nut butters before, and they are fine, but never nearly as good as my favorite Peanut Butter & Co peanut butter, so I don't usually buy it.  Protip though, definitely squeeze and knead it before you open it, otherwise, what comes out at first is just the oil, it does separate.

But, besides just the nut butters, they make one other product: peanut butter cups!  You know how much I love chocolate, and how I think peanut butter is pretty much the best thing to pair with chocolate, so I was very excited when one generous co-worker showed up with a pack of peanut butter cups, just so I could try them out.  Thank you!
Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.
The peanut butter cups are available in milk or dark chocolate; I had the milk chocolate.

The milk chocolate coating was very smooth and creamy.  But the peanut butter inside was even smoother, even creamier.  And, gasp, it tasted like actual peanut butter, not like corn syrup, like some certain Reese's cups.

The aspect of these that was most interesting to me was the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.  The chocolate layers were each individually as thick as the peanut butter filling, so with chocolate on top and bottom, it really dominated.  I found this surprising, since you would think that they'd want to feature the peanut butter more, as it is their main product.

Overall, these were quite good, and I liked the peanut butter much more than the similar style cups made by Unreal, and the overall result was much better than the fancy peanut butter cups from Jer's Squares.
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