Tuesday, December 29, 2015

American Airlines Admiral's Club, Buffalo Airport

Buffalo, NY.  Not exactly a destination I head for normally, but I recently had friends who got married there, so, Buffalo it was.

I didn't explore much of the city, besides the reception hall (with actually really good catering by Exquisite Catering) and the Hyatt Regency hotel (also with shockingly good breakfast catering).  To conclude my quick weekend visit, it was time to head to the airport.  With my OneWorld status, even though I was flying regular domestic economy, I had lounge access to the Admiral's Club at the quaint little airport.

The lounge was ... well, it was a basic Admiral's Club.  At some point, unless you find a Flagship lounge like in  LAX, these all look the same.  Uninspired decor, sad snacks (although sometimes I do love the snack mixes), cookies, and mediocre wine.

I didn't expect to spend much time there, or in the Buffalo airport at all for that matter.  I left the lounge to get food at Queen City Kitchen (again, shockingly good, what is it with this town having decent eats?), and got on my flight.  We left the gate.  We taxied down the runway.  And then we didn't take off.  We were connecting through O'Hare, and, well, it hailed.  Ground stop issued.  I don't ever fly though O'Hare, I know better.  But it was August!!!  After spending more time on the runway, we came back to the terminal and deplaned.  Awesome.  But we were told they'd try again in an hour.  More delays meant more time in the lounge.  Eventually our flight was cancelled.  Nothing else available that night, as there aren't exactly tons of flights out of Buffalo.  So I spent another night in Buffalo, this time at the newly opened Aloft (a really great property, if you are looking for something close to the Buffalo airport for some reason, with nice cocktails, great snacks, and decent dessert).  And then went back the next day to the lounge again.

So, I spent a fair amount of time in this lounge.  It is ... adequate.  The staff however were really friendly, and took pity on us stranded travelers.

The Space

Seating.
Like all Admiral's Clubs, I found the seating rather uninspired.  Not uncomfortable exactly, but certainly not inviting.  Lots of natural light though, and plentiful power ports.  And carpet stains.

The lounge was basically empty the entire time we were there.  Given that AA restricts Admiral's Club access so tightly, this isn't surprising to me in any way.
Business Center.
It had a token business center on the side, with copier, printer, etc.
Workstations.
And a few computer workstations.

The wifi worked fine.

Snacks

Soup, Cheese, Crackers, Veggies, Ranch, Olives.
The food selection in Admiral's Clubs always makes me laugh.  It is nice that they offer something I guess, but really, does anyone eat this stuff?  (Ok, ok, Ojan and I both tried food at some point, we were in there forever over the course of two days. Boredom, not tempting looking options, lured us in).

To start, the soup of the day was Roasted Corn and Green Chile Bisque.  I mock the food, but, actually, this wasn't awful.  It was really flavorful and spicy.  I almost liked it.

Next up was assorted crackers and cheese cubes.  The Swiss cubes weren't awful either.

Next, veggies, an assortment of baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and celery sticks.  They managed to not be too dried out, but these aren't exactly exciting veggies.  On the side were individual pots of Ken's Buttermilk Ranch.  Totally generic ranch, but sometimes, I actually like this stuff.  It was nice to have individual containers rather than a big unappealing vat of it.

The final item in here was olives, a mix of black and pimento stuffed green.  I didn't like them, but Ojan did and went back for more.
Chips and Salsa.
The next day, they added chips and salsa to the lineup.

The chips were actually higher quality than I'd expect, Food Should Taste Good brand multigrain tortilla chips.  Two types of salsa, generic Tostitos or "Salsa del Sol".

We didn't try any, since we liked Queen City Kitchen the first day, and decided to go back there for poutine before our flight instead.
Cookies, Fruit.
The cookie selection was the standard chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, which I've reviewed before, and little chocolate brownies.  Red and green apples (wrapped in plasic wrap?) and oranges were in a bowl.

These aren't for me, but Ojan always likes them well enough.
Premium Snack Mixes.
I always have my eye on the snack mixes.  AA has a number of different mixes, and you never know which ones you are going to get at a given lounge.  They all sound like exactly the sort of things I'd love, as you know me and snacks, but often I want to like them more than I actually do (like the yogurt pretzels from the SFO lounge).

Here, we had a trio of snack mixes, labelled "Premium Snack Mixes", in "Sweet", "Savory", or "Simple".  I obviously tried them all.

The dispensers were super annoying, hard to get things out of, particularly the one with the large pretzels, that just kept getting jammed and cracking.  They can do better here ...
Sweet and Salty Mix, Savory Mix, Peanut Butter Pretzels.
I started with the one labelled "Simple".  They looked like just square pretzels.  I was thrilled to discover that they were stuffed with peanut butter.  Not amazing, but an upgrade over plain pretzels, for sure.

Next I went for "Savory".  This had pretzel twists and pretzel balls, neither of which I cared for.  But it also had cheesy twigs and cheesy little triangle chips.  And corn nuts.  The entire mix was quite zesty and flavorful.  I really liked the triangle chips.  I enjoyed this assortment, sans the pretzels, one of the best mixes I've had from AA.

And finally, and sweet and salty one, a classic GORP, with bonus almonds.  It was everything a basic GORP should be, sweet and salty, simple but addicting.  Again, good.

I ate a lot of these mixes while stranded there, and really quite enjoyed them.  Mmm, snacks.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Le Petit Marchet

Le Petit Marchet is ... an interesting place.  It is a deli.  And a pizza place.  And they make sandwiches.  And serve Mediterranean food.  Oh, and then there is a large grocery area as well, carrying mostly junk foods (lots of chips, snack mixes, and candy), plus basic staples.

They are open late, and deliver all over the city (yes, you can get pints of Ben & Jerry's delivered to your doorstep this way).  If you want wings and fries, one friend wants a shawerma, another wants a slice of pizza, and someone else wants a tuna sandwich and macaroni salad, you can get it all here.  And you can tack on pints of ice cream, some oatmeal for the morning, and a bunch of candy too.

I swung in one day when I was on a bit of a deli salad kick, trying out macaroni salad all over the city (like the poor version from L & L Hawaiian, the mediocre version from The Sandwich Spot, the decent ones from Deli & and A.G. Ferrari,  the great one from Fountain Cafe,  .  The service wasn't particularly friendly, and the deli salads didn't look, nor taste, great.  Still, a good option if you need random stuff delivered late at night.

Small (8oz) Macaroni Salad.  $2.50.
When I looked into the deli case, I could see that this was fairly unremarkable looking macaroni salad, but I've had many experiences lately where generic looking things have been quite tasty, so I went for it.

It was pretty much exactly what it looked like.  About as standard of a macaroni salad as there is.  The pasta was elbows, a bit overcooked for my liking.  The dressing was mayo, and there was tons and tons of it.  I guess this means it was creamy, but definitely overdressed.

And other than that, there wasn't much going on.  A few tiny pieces of peppers, no real seasoning.  Totally unremarkable.

Like the macaroni salad from Deli & ..., I jazzed it up with some of my mom's homemade zucchini relish, and it was much better that way.

The small container was stuffed full, and this was a good price for the portion.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Queen City Kitchen, Buffalo Airport

On my recent trip to Buffalo for a friend's wedding (short version: shockingly good eats, including great wedding catering by Exquisite Catering and good pastries and amazing eggs at Hyatt Regency hotel breakfast).  But for my final meal, I had to eat lunch at the airport.  The Buffalo airport isn't exactly large, and the options were quite limited.  Not even a Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, or even a McDonald's.  Just a few small grab n' goes, a meager food court, and 1-2 bars.  And a new establishment, Queen City Kitchen.  I couldn't find many reviews online, since it was new and not exactly in a location that people review often, but, what I could find were quite solid.  Of course, they were all for breakfast, not lunch, but, it certainly seemed like my best option.

And, indeed, it was.  I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food (the cooked food was better than the snacks).  And the stellar coffee.  And the friendliness of the staff.  Really a great place, and I'd certainly return ... if I wind up in Buffalo again.

The Space

Grab N Go Counter.
One side of the establishment is a grab-n-go area, designed for travelers just running through, selling a selection of pre-made salads, sandwiches, and plenty of snacks.  They even had housemade chips, alongside standard packaged chips, and all sorts of creative snack mixes.  I couldn't resist grabbing a few things for the flight.  More on those below.
Bottled Drinks.
The drink selection was also impressive.  Sodas, juices, and all sorts of flavored waters.  I kinda wanted it all, but settled on a single tasty flavored water.
Pastries. 
Up at the counter in front was a great pastry lineup: croissants, cinnamon rolls, assorted danishes (cream cheese, cherry cream cheese, apple, cherry almond), muffins (cinnamon spice, banana nut, lemon poppyseed, blueberry), and cookies (oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip).

If I hadn't just devoured, literally a full size cinnamon roll, a full size croissant, a pecan pie stuffed danish, and part of a lemon cheese danish at the hotel breakfast  (uh, along with scrambled eggs, sausage, and cereal ...), I certainly would have tried one of these.  Alas, I did not on this trip.
Bar Seating.
Another section was a bar with seating and waiter service.  It looked like a nice place to camp out, if you were going to be there a little while.

Otherwise, you could order from a full menu at the register, take a number, and go take a seat, and a server would bring it to you.  We opted for this choice.
Booths.
Most of the seating was comfortable booths along the wall, plus tables and benches along the other side of the room.  The most notable fact of this area is that not only did each table have a dedicated power jack (soooo welcome in an airport), the outlets had ... USB ports.  Welcome to the future.  We could charge our laptops and phones at once.  Amazing.
Condiments.
Condiments were self serve, mostly in individual packets, including mayo, malt vinegar, hot sauces, honey, amongst others.

Drinks 

King Decaf Americano. $3.09.
Besides the flavored sparkling water I grabbed from the case, I wanted coffee.  The coffee options were extensive, with classic espresso drinks made by a barista, along with a number of flavored iced coffees, and self-serve pre-brewed drip coffee in several flavors.

Since I wanted it fresh, I opted for an americano, decaf.  Sizes were "JR", "Queen", or "King".  Cute naming, but when people are half-awake and needing coffee, complicated names aren't actually desirable!

The decaf was shockingly good.  Some of the best decaf I've ever had.  Flavorful.  No funk.  So smooth.  I drank it black, gladly.  So, so good.
Coffee Condiment Station.
The coffee condiment station (and self serve drip coffee area), had all the standard choices for sugar and sweetener, milk, creamer, honey, and cinnamon.  I didn't investigate these add-ins however, as my amazing americano needed nothing added.  Nothing.

Lunch + Dinner

Daily Specials.
The main menu features an assortment of salads, sandwiches, and appetizers.  They even had a chalkboard with daily specials out on the walkway in the terminal.  If I was hungry, I obviously would have opted for that poutine, given my first, and only, poutine experience was a few days prior at The Crazy Canuck.  I wanted more poutine!

But given my ridiculous brunch, I wasn't exactly hungry.  Ojan hadn't been insane like me at brunch though, and was ready for lunch.  And given that we had no connection time between our flights, he knew we also needed dinner for the next flight.

So he ordered one hot meal for lunch to eat then, and a salad to go for later.  Both came packaged to go, but we were invited to eat there at the regular tables anyway, and the food was brought to us at our table when ready.
Special: Chicken Parmesan Sandwich with Housemade Chips.  $11.25.
"Fried Chicken Fingers, topped with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese."

For lunch, Ojan opted for a special from the chalkboard out front: a chicken parm sandwich.  He said he was just in the mood for it.  Since I wanted only a few bites, I didn't protest, although this isn't something I'd normally ever order.

I ended up eating far more than I ever thought I would, given how ridiculously stuffed I was.  Ojan was shocked, not only because he'd seen how much I ate at brunch and couldn't believe I wanted more food, but also because, well, I don't like sandwiches.  And I don't like chicken.  This was a chicken sandwich.

But it was really, really nicely done.  Clearly made to order with some love.  Shocking for an airport!

The bread was super fluffy.  Really fresh.  And perfectly toasted, just a bit crunchy on the outside.  Warm.  I'm pretty sure I'll never like a sandwich bun more than this.

Each half of the sandwich had a chicken finger inside.  They were lightly breaded, all white meat.  Not dried out.  Not too fried.  Not oily.  I thought they were great ... for chicken fingers.

Smothered in a delicious marinara sauce.  Flavorful and tangy.  Not generic stuff from a jar.

And, perhaps the best part: the mozzarella.  Absolutely perfectly melted.  Tons of it.  And, not just some shredded or sliced mozzarella.  It was fresh mozzarella.

Wow.  Every element of this was just really, really nicely done.  I was full, but I ended up eating quite a bit of it.  Ojan wasn't starving, so after he ate all the chicken finger out of his half, he left behind some bread with sauce and cheese.  I gladly devoured the rejects.  Soft, fluffy, toasted bread, with crazy flavorful marinara and amazing melted mozzarella?  Um, yes?  It was like pizza.

All sandwiches at Queen City Kitchen come served with house made chips.  You can upgrade to fries or sweet potato fries for $2 more.  We stuck with the chips, which seemed to be a great decision.

They were really awesome, for chips.  Clearly made from fresh potatoes, skin on.  Assorted shapes and sizes.  Some were really crispy, others a bit softer.  I preferred the soft ones, but I really liked the contrast.  They were salty.  They were, well, just, great chips.  Ojan and I both devoured a ton of these, and took the rest with us to enjoy later (and enjoy later we did!)

Really, a complete success, and very reasonably priced at $11.25, particularly for airport food.
Greek Salad. $11.25 + grilled chicken breast $5.25.
"Romaine lettuce, feta cheese, sliced cucumbers, black olives, grape tomatoes, and red onions with a choice of dressing."

To take on the flight, Ojan opted for a Greek salad.  This was a theme on the trip, as you recall the Greek salad he loved on our outbound trip at Napa Farms Market too?

Other salads on offer were a caprese, an iceberg wedge, a cobb, and a ceasar.  All salads can have grilled chicken added.  Personally, I was eying the wedge (crispy fried onions! bacon! ranch!) or perhaps the caprese, given how delicious that mozzarella from the parmesan was.

But Ojan went for the Greek, and added the grilled chicken so it would have some protein.

It was ... fine.  Just not my style of salad.  Nicely composed, lots of fresh cut grape tomatoes, red onion, black olives, cucumbers, and decent feta.  The dressing was fairly classic greek.  It was all fresh enough, and Ojan liked it, but just not my thing obviously, and he didn't think it was nearly as good as the Napa Farms Market one that he adored.

It was a large salad, but with the chicken upgrade, $16.25 for a salad seems pretty high, even in an airport.
Poutine. $7.50.
"French fries, topped with gravy and cheddar cheese curds."

Our flight story is actually more complicated than I described.  Short version?  Canceled flight after numerous delays, got stuck in Buffalo overnight at the Aloft, which was actually wonderful, and had decent cheesecake and fresh made breakfast sandos.

Blah, blah, blah, but this all meant that we wound back up at the Buffalo airport the next day, so, we were able to visit Queen City Kitchen again, get the poutine this time around, as a little pre-flight snack.

Sadly, it wasn't nearly as successful as the other food.

We had the choice of fries or tator tots, and went traditional with fries.  The fries were hot and fresh, but really unremarkable.  Their housemade chips were far superior.

I also didn't really like the gravy, I think turkey gravy?  It was just kinda goopy, and the flavor wasn't very developed.  What I loved about The Crazy Canuck's poutine, besides the fries as the base, was the gravy.  That gravy was awesome.

And finally, the curds.  Just like at Crazy Canuck, they weren't really melted.  But since the food was made to order and served piping fresh, the fries were super hot, as was the gravy, so we were able to stuff the curds down into the fries and melt most of them.

Overall, this was just meh to me.  Ojan ate it, but agreed not nearly as good as Crazy Canuck, and that it was more like what you'd expect at an airport.  Oh well.


Snacks

The snack selection near the register was just too much to ignore, particularly given how much I love snacks, and because I knew I'd be sitting on a plane, and I'd love something to munch on to pass the time.  Oh, and because they make some of their own snacks!
Toronto Poutine Chips. $3.75.
Near the register were bags of housemade chips, in either buffalo chicken or Toronto poutine flavors.  Given how tasty the plain chips served with the chicken parm were, I wanted them both.  They looked, and sounded, amazing.  Ojan made me select just one, and voted for the poutine, since it was more unique.  Thus, poutine it was.

These chips weren't nearly as good as the plain ones served with the sandwich.  Perhaps because they weren't quite as fresh?  But also ... the whole "poutine" thing was kinda lost.  Poutine = potatoes + gravy + cheese curds.  Yes, there were potatoes here obviously, and they were the same whole sliced potatoes, of assorted shapes and sizes, that we found in the fresh chips served alongside the sandwich.  But the seasoning was the issue.  There was no cheese component at all.  The "gravy" was supposed to be mimicked by a beef base and powdered milk, along with spices (thyme, oregano, parsley, pepper) that were sprinkled on.  Yes, they had a flavor, but nothing about it reminded me of gravy, or of curds, or of poutine.  Almost more like a mild sour cream and onion if anything?

The flavor just wasn't great, the chips weren't as fresh, and $3.75 for what was actually a fairly small bag seemed high compared to the other reasonable prices at Queen City Kitchen.
Buffalo Wing Nuts. $4.95.
I love peanuts and snacks.  I love the taste of buffalo wings, but I don't like chicken.  So, put them together into buffalo wing nuts?  Sounded awesome!

But ... I didn't like them.  They did have some heat to them, but I wouldn't have identified it as "buffalo wing" flavor.  Really, they just tasted like strange flavored peanuts.  The coating was also slightly candied, not really what I expect from wings.  About 1/3 the mix was heavily coated in the crunchy candy coating, 1/3 was just mildly coated and spiced, and the other 1/3 had barely any coating.

I wish I could tell you what was in the coating, how they made it spicy, but, uh, the ingredients just read "chocolate, raisins".  Methinks someone copy-pasted here!

I clearly wouldn't get these again.

Update: Except, well, I can't leave well enough alone.  They were sitting on my counter.  Ojan rejected them.  What was I to do, but keep trying?

The ones with barely any coating and the mild amount of coating never grew on me.  But the ones with tons of coating, when consumed by very large handfuls, kinda did.  In that quantity, they almost, just almost tasted like buffalo wings.  Still too much peanut for me, but close ...
Pepper Cheese Pub Mix.  $4.95.
Next I tried the tempting looking pepper cheese pub mix.  Like I said, I love munchy snacks!

In the mix was pretzels, sesame sticks, cracker sticks, peanuts, and two types of corn nuts.  The pretzels were just standard mini pretzels, unseasoned.  I didn't want these.  The peanuts were just regular peanuts, boring.  The cracker sticks were a bit better, slightly seasoned.  One type of corn nut was not seasoned and pretty generic, the others were red, which you'd expect to be bursting with some kind of flavor, but, alas, they were not.  The only thing I really liked in the mix was the sesame sticks, just because I like sesame sticks.  Everything else was just fairly boring, and although some pieces were well coated, there just wasn't much flavor.

I obviously wouldn't get this again either.
Queen City Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, December 21, 2015

Starbucks: The Yogurt

Do I need to introduce Starbucks to you?  I imagine not.  And of course, I've reviewed Starbucks many times before, including the pastries that I actually do kinda like (gross as I know they are), the breakfast sandwiches that get perfectly warmed up in their magic oven, and tons of beverages, including my summertime Frappuccino indulgences, seasonal beverages, and more.

So I won't introduce Starbucks this time around, just my new category of goods I tried: the yogurt.
Greek Yogurt Raspberry Lemon Parfait.
Who goes to Starbucks for yogurt?  I know, this was strange.  But, I've been really loving Greek yogurt parfaits lately, so I figured I'd give the Starbucks offering a try.  Of course, I in no way expected anything remotely healthy.  As expected, since this is Starbucks, it was loaded with sugar.  31g to be exact!
Lemon curd side.
The parfaits are pre-made, available in the grab and go section.

I had the choice of a parfait with honey, or one with lemon curd and raspberry purée.  I love honey with greek yogurt, and the parfaits I make always include honey, but they also include fresh fruit.  Just honey didn't seem interesting enough.  But I don't really like lemon curd.  Still, it sounded more interesting, so I went for the one with lemon curd and raspberry.  I figured the lemon curd would add a nice tang to contrast again the sweetness of the rest of it.  I could easily see through the package that the lemon curd was a separate layer, in case I didn't like it.
Raspberry purée side.
The raspberry purée was also separate, on the other side.  As you can see, there was a generous amount, and I could mix it in as I desired.

On top was the granola,  oat and honey granola, in a little plastic dish, not touching the yogurt.  This was effective packaging, since otherwise the granola would obviously get soggy.
Unpackaged.
I unpackaged the different pieces, and dug in.  I first tried each component separately.

The yogurt was decent.  Tangy, creamy, basic Greek yogurt.  No complaints about that.

The raspberry purée was crazy sweet, as expected, clearly where all the sugar was concentrated.  But .... I really liked it.  It had seeds, and I generally don't like seeds, but I didn't mind them here.  I was happy to eat it by the spoonful, but it also did work nicely mixed with the yogurt.

As for the lemon curd, it was tangy, which was nice, but it was also too eggy for me.  I rarely like lemon curd though, so I don't think this was particularly bad lemon curd.

The granola was the most disappointing part, really quite boring.  It wasn’t really what I think of as granola, not oat based, not crispy, not sweet.  It seemed just like rice puff cereal.

So obviously, this was not health food.  It was not a fresh fruit parfait.  And I didn't like the granola.  But, I was quite satisfied with the yogurt and raspberry purée, although I don't see a reason to get another.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Egg Tarts from Ovo Cafe

One day, I was walking down 2nd Street, and someone offered me a sample of a milk tea.  Taking random beverages from strangers?  Hey, no problem!

I eagerly took my drink, and enjoyed it.  It was sweet, but not too sweet, and pretty good.  Hmm.  I like milk tea.  So I checked out Ovo.  Yes, their ploy worked.

The concept at Ovo is Hong Kong fusion, serving beverages, rice dishes, and pastries.  The beverage selection is extensive, spanning Hong Kong style coffees and teas, plus espresso drinks, and specialties like Ovaltine, all hot or iced.  The savories meals are your choice of protein (chicken, pork chop, beef brisket, fish cutlet, pork cutlet, or veggie curry), served with rice (fried, white, or brown) or salad or noodles, in your choice of sauce (with fun names like "Curryous George" and "Dreamy Creamy"), all about $9.  They also have some snacks like fried chicken bites, fish fries, and fish balls.

Besides the milk teas though, none of that was really interesting.  I was drawn in by the pastry selection, since, well, I love desserts.   The bakery section is exclusively tarts, lots of tarts, in a slew of flavors.  They have egg tarts in two varieties ("signature flaky" or "butter"), plus fruit filled tarts (apple, mango, lychee, strawberry, blueberry), asian tarts (red bean, taro, green tea), and classic crowd favorites like chocolate and pecan.

I was excited to get a taro tart (I adore taro), but alas, they were out.  So I was going to go boring american and get pecan.  But they were out of that too.  Sigh.  I still got a tart, but, I didn't really like my selection.
Signature Flaky Egg Tart.  $1.25.
Since they did not have my first pick (taro), nor my second (pecan), I decided to get the "signature" flaky egg tart, since, well, it must be signature for a reason, right?

The tarts are prominently displayed at the register to temp you to add one on to your meal.  They are kept under an effective heat source, as I could feel the heat radiating through my bag as I picked it up.  If I didn't know better, I might have believed it was freshly baked.  It was hot.  Almost too hot.  It is hard to burn yourself on a egg tart exactly, but, I almost did.

The signature flaky crust wasn't really flaky in a good way.  It didn't have a nice buttery flavor to it,  and it just kinda crumbled.  It did make a mess though, which you somewhat expect from a "flaky" item?  It also seemed kinda soggy, I think due to the way it was kept warm?

The filling was very, very eggy.  I know it is an egg tart, but, it was just too eggy for me.

Also, the entire thing was really oily.  You can sorta see on the bag that it became translucent just from barely touching the edge of the crust.

I did not like this, but, I'd still consider going back in hopes of finally getting a taro or pecan one.

$1.25 for a single tart was a great price, and, it was the perfect size treat.
Ovo Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Catered Breakfast @ The Hyatt Regency, Buffalo

I recently attended a wedding in Buffalo, NY.  The reception and ceremony itself were held at Asbury Hall on a Saturday night, where we enjoyed a lovely reception with ... gasp, actual tasty food by Exquisite Catering.  No, seriously, the swordfish was mind-blowingly good, I would have been happy with it at a restaurant, let alone a catered event.  The next morning, the bride and groom hosted a brunch at the hotel where they had a hotel block, the Hyatt Regency.

Ojan and I stayed at the hotel for 2 nights.  It was a basic Hyatt Regency.  Rooms were large, but the carpet was stained, the bathroom cramped, the AC didn't really work, and it smelt pretty bad.  That is about all I have to say about the hotel.

I didn't exactly have high expectations for their catered breakfast - a large conference hotel wasn't really going to have anything good, right?  I was wrong.  I expected to nibble my way through the buffet, and go out to lunch right after.  Instead, I basically needed to be rolled out of there.  I ate ... uh, way too much.  And it was good.

I believe my hosts opted for the "Hyatt Signature Continental" package, with fruit, cereal, and baked goods, for $18.95 per guest.  It also included coffee, tea, and juices.  They upgraded with a hot food package, the "Country Breakfast", for an additional $9.95 per person.

We had a dedicated room in the Grand Ballroom, with formal set tables (cloth tablecloths and napkins, ice water on the tables, etc).  The setup was a buffet, replenished very frequently by the busy staff.  Coffee was done as a table service, which was a bit confusing, since everything else, including juices, were part of the buffet.  And the staff didn't really do a great job of offering coffee.  I spent a lot of time tracking them down for more (not that I should have, the coffee, decaf at least, was really not good).  It would have been easier to just have a coffee station, and I'm not sure why they went for table service for that part.  The staff also were quick to whisk away your plate and cutlery, the moment you put your fork down.  A bit annoying if you were like me and planning return visits to the buffet.  I was constantly seeking out fresh silverware.

But, complaints about the actual setup and staffing aside, it really was a successful brunch, and, as I said, I ate way, way too much.  Major shout out to the incredible scrambled eggs (yes, really) and the danishes!

Continental Breakfast

Local and Seasonally Inspired Fruit Platter.
The buffet started with fruit platters.  None of the fruit was particularly ripe or flavorful, but it was a nice assortment including melons, pineapple, and multiple types of berries.  It seemed generic grocery store quality, which, for someone from the Bay Area used to amazing farmer's market produce, would clearly never measure up.

The hot selections came next in line, but I'll finish reviewing the continental selections first.
Cereal, dried fruit, milk.
Yes, photographer fail.  Who thought I'd be reviewing this anyway?

The buffet concluded with a selection of Kellogg/s cereals, like many hotel breakfasts.  There was also rather randomly a dried fruit selection (raisins, cranberries, pineapple, banana).  I guess they were to add to cereal?  Individual pints of milk (skim, 2%, whole) completed the lineup.

I would never normally opt for cereal, but, I was really uninspired by the previous items in the buffet (before tasting the food, that is, I was judging based on looks alone), so I grabbed one as backup.  I really wish I hadn't, as it turned out some of the other food was delicious, and I should have never wasted precious stomach space on generic cereal that I could get anywhere.

I opted for the Cinnamon Chex.  It was, well, Cinnamon Chex.  A mix of cinnamon flavored and regular Chex.  The plain ones were really boring, but the cinnamon ones at least had a bit of flavor.  I didn't care for the cereal itself, but it did leave my milk a lovely cinnamon flavor.  I drank the sweet cinnamon milk, and it reminded me a little bit of horchata.  I also added some of the sweet cinnamon milk to my otherwise nasty coffee, and it definitely helped there as well.

The bits of dried fruit were fine, but just fruit, and I'm not sure what you were supposed to do with them.  There was no hot cereal, yogurt, or granola to add them on to, and just eating bits of dried fruit chopped into cubes with your fingers didn't quite make sense.  Were you supposed to top the Lucky Charms with these?
Baked Goods: Assorted Sweet Loafs, Cinnamon Rolls, Croissants.
The final continental selection was sad looking baked goods.  My heart rather sank when I saw these.  I was expecting to indulge in baked goods, as I love them.  Where were the scones? Muffins? Danishes?  Filled croissants?  Boo.  This lineup, along with the lackluster looking hot items, is why I opted to pick up a cereal.

On my first visit to the buffet, I went right past the croissants.  They didn't look very good, and why ever pick a plain croissant?  They didn't have any filled ones.

I never really want a sweet loaf cake, so I rolled right past those too.  So, a cinnamon roll it was.  The cinnamon roll at least looked decent.

It wasn't.  The cinnamon roll was really dried out.  It did have a lot of cinnamon between the layers, a sweet crumble topping, and lots of sweet icing, all good things.  This should have been decent, but really it was just way too dry and the dough was flavorless.  I picked at it, eating the crumble top, trying so hard to like it, but it just wasn't good ... at all.  Even the center was no good, not moist in any way.  Usually the center of a cinnamon roll can be its saving grace, with a bit of moisture in there.  It was the worst baked good I tried.

So I went back for the loaf cakes, again, not something I ever want, but, I was pretty sad at this point.  There was only one kind left when I returned, orange cranberry.  I never want loaf cake, and if I were to pick a loaf cake, it would never be this kind, as I don't like cranberry nor orange flavors in my sweets.  I regretted not grabbing a different slice earlier.  That said, it was decent, really moist, quite flavorful.  If I liked orange flavor, I would have really liked it, but given the flavor, it was my second to least favorite item, although certainly not bad.

When I returned to the buffet bit later (I know, I know, who goes back this many times? ME!), there were slices of blueberry cake in addition to the orange cranberry.  Inspired by the moisture of the orange cranberry, and the beautiful streusel topping on the blueberry loaf, I went for it.  It was quite good, again, really moist, and with a great streusel topping.  Basically, like a muffin.  I quickly pointed Ojan at it, and he enjoyed a slice too.  My third favorite item.

Things were looking up, so I circled back (yes really) to try a croissant, really just wanting some final satisfaction.  The croissant didn't look like anything special, unlike the cinnamon roll, which had at least *looked* promising.  I was shocked at how good the croissant was.  The exterior was crispy, flaky.  It was very moist inside.  The dough was buttery and slightly sweet.  It needed nothing added to it, which I would never normally say about a plain croissant.  There were assorted jams and butter available if you wanted.  I thought I'd share the croissant with Ojan, but I didn't give him a single bite.  I polished it off in seconds, literally.  That said, it was my second favorite overall.  The best was yet to come.

At this point, I was overly full.  I had a fair amount of hot savory food (more on that soon), perhaps half that lackluster cinnamon roll, a full slice of bluberry loaf cake (and half a slice of orange cranberry), some cinnamon Chex, a little fruit, plus the full croissant, a large size.  I was more than satisfied, and content to be done with brunch.

And then one of my tablemates returned with a danish.  A danish!  Where did that come from?  I couldn't resist. I didn't need more food.  I didn't get a photo of the new selections, I was too excited.

Yes, the awful cinnamon rolls had finally been replaced, this time with assorted danishes.  None were labelled, and they were all large, and, unlike everything else, looked great.  I thought that if that plain croissant was any indication of how well they'd make danishes, I was in luck.  Caution to the wind,  I selected two, fairly randomly, since I wasn't sure what varieties they were.

I thought I'd share with Ojan.  Clearly, I didn't need 2 more danishes.  I thought that perhaps I'd be a horrible hoarder, and take them back with me to enjoy on my flight in a few hours (don't judge!).  Spoiler: I begrudgingly let Ojan try a few bites, at his insistence.  They most certainly did not last more than a few minutes longer.  Whoops.

Starting with the first one.  It looked like a cream cheese danish, always a favorite.  Who can resist cream cheese?  Even the cream cheese danish from Starbucks can satisfy me sometimes, and they aren't exactly fresh, quality items.

It turned out to be lemon cream cheese.  Just like orange (I guess I don't like citrus?) I don't really like lemon flavors in my pastries or desserts, so this was a downer.  But the pastry was flaky, and the filling so creamy, and there was plenty of it, no skimping here.  It was good, but not the right variety for me, and I wouldn't have picked it if I knew about the lemon.  My forth pick.

But my other selection ... now it was mind blowing.  Realize for a moment how full I was at this point.  Realize how actually satisfied I was.  I didn't need anything, for hunger or emotional reasons!  Again, I thought I'd try it, share it, perhaps take it with me.  But ... it was way, way too tasty to not devour on the spot.  I gave Ojan a single bite, out of kindness, because I thought he'd love it too.

So what was it?  I call it, a "pecan pie danish".  It was, basically, everything delicious inside a pecan pie, just inside a croissant dough instead.  It was a very large size danish, bar shaped with lattice work on top.  Drizzled with a bit of glaze and topped with chopped pecans.  OMG.  Like both the croissant and other danish, the pastry dough was quite good, really flaky, crispy exterior, moist inside, buttery.  The perfect foundation.  But it was the filling that blew my mind.  Sweet, gooey, pecan pie filling.  So gooey.  So sweet.  So, so delicious.  Clearly, my top selection of the brunch.  If I had known these were coming, and how good they were, I clearly would have made other choices throughout my meal.  Alas, I did not, but you my dear reader, now have this knowledge.  Plan accordingly.  Stuff your pockets.

Hot Breakfast

The hot selections were in chafing dishes, constantly refilled.  The staff did a great job of bringing out fresh batches pretty rapidly, which was good because no one was shutting them, and I didn't think they retained heat very well.
Cage Free Scrambled Eggs.
The first item?  Scrambled eggs.  I walked right past on my first survey of the buffet.  Buffet eggs?  Yeah right.  I don't generally even like fresh scrambled eggs, so, why would I want these?  On my second pass, I took a tiny portion, mostly out of curiosity, because they looked so creamy,  and the rest of the options really didn't look good.  I needed to eat ... something.

I was shocked by how good they turned out.  Seriously.  Hot and seemingly fresh tasting.  And oh so creamy.  I can't even describe the consistency of these.  Amazing.

Another person at my table commented, "I wonder what kind of cheese they used in these cheesy eggs?".  I laughed, because I knew there was no cheese.  That was all cream and butter.  Mmm, mmm, good!

When I returned to the buffet for another round, I loaded up on these eggs.  I stuffed some inside the croissant to make an egg sandwich, and it was really quite enjoyable.  Sure, the croissant was actually perfectly good on its own, as were the eggs, but they combined quite nicely as well.

Everyone at my table absolutely adored these eggs, and we all went back for seconds (and some, thirds).  My favorite of the savory items, and the only savory really worth eating.
Skillet Breakfast Potatoes tossed with Caramelized Onions.
Every good brunch has a potato option, and here we had cubes of "skillet breakfast potatoes".  They looked kinda shriveled and lackluster, so I didn't bother, although I snagged some of the caramelized onions.  They were tasty enough, soft, fairly flavorful.
Crisp All Natural Bacon and Maple Sausage Links.
The final hot items were breakfast meats, sausage and bacon.  I didn't try the bacon, as it didn't look great.  Kudos to the serving dish though, it had a metal mesh on the bottom, so the bacon wasn't sitting on a solid surface getting soggy, so it stayed fairly crisp.

The sausage wasn't bad, classic links.  It was pretty overcooked, a bit dry, and really charred, but I liked the char.  I really wanted maple syrup to dip it in, but only ketchup and hot sauce were provided alongside, which makes sense, as we had no pancake or waffle option, and I guess most people aren't like me and want syrup with their sausage or bacon.
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Monday, December 14, 2015

Catering by Rebecca Jean Catering

Another year, another holiday party thrown at my apartment complex.  I've now attended at least 5 annual winter holiday parties, and each year has been quite different.  The first year was full cocktail attire, with extravagant food (it will take me a long time to forget that amazing carving station!) and live music (including a harpist!).  Every year since has been slightly less formal in all dimensions (dress, ambiance, cuisine, etc).  Last year I still wore a dress, and the catering included fairly decent passed appetizers and a serious (!!!) dessert station.

But this year, they told us it was going to be more casual, with a "Home for the Holidays" theme.  Given that I was on jury duty that day, and Ojan came right from the office, this was welcome, as neither of us had the energy to go home and get fancied up.  The food matched the far less formal attire.

There was no harp player, nor live music of any sort.  There were no passed appetizers, nor even a cold apps buffet.  Nearly every person I talked to said something about the lack of even a cheese and charcuterie station.  Most significantly to me, there was no dessert table, just a cake!

But, it was an opportunity to try a new caterer, Rebecca Jean Catering (previous catering was done by Peninsula Catering, JJardine, and Delessio.
Buffet Dinner Menu.
Dinner was served at a buffet, which the staff kept very well stocked.  In same ways, it seemed they were over-eager to take the serving vessels away, and had to kept interrupting the flow of the buffet to change out items, when, many times, they tray was still more than 50% full, and the lines were getting quite long.  I didn't really understand, and it wasn't that the food was getting cold, on the contrary, I actually burnt myself on one item.

Anyway, the theme of the menu seemed to be "generic and inoffensive"?

I went into it with standard expectations for a catering buffet, that is, probably mostly luke-warm, soggy, not very good.  As I mentioned above, food being luke-warm was certainly not a problem.  While most of it was lackluster, I did really enjoy one dish ...

Sides

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts & Pomegranate Seeds (vegetarian).
I heard several tables mentioning how tasty the brussels sprouts were as I walked by, so, I took a big scoop.

The sprouts were a cold dish, which I wasn't entirely expecting, but, I do like brussels sprouts salads, so I didn't mind.  The brussels were decently roasted, and mixed with bits of walnut and pomegranate seeds.  I don't like pomegranate, and the seeds didn't seem particularly ripe, but I did like the festive touch they added.

The parts of this dish I liked the most was some pieces of the sprouts where the leaves separated, and they were just super crispy, and well seasoned.  Perhaps a touch too salty of a dish, but I enjoyed at least the crispy bits.

Overall, a fine dish, and the only slightly original dish on the menu.
Prosciutto & Tarragon Mashed Potatoes.
The photo pretty much describes the potatoes.  They tasted exactly how they looked ... meh.

Kinda mushy, but creamy, but in a too-thinned-out-with-milk way, not an indulgent, rich way.  I didn't taste nor find any prosciutto, and it was only after when I re-read the menu to type this up that I realized the potatoes were supposed to have prosciutto in there somewhere.  I'm all for tasty meat bits, but, it seemed a bit sad for the vegetarians (if they noticed).  I'd never expect mashed potatoes to not be vegetarian, so I'd kinda imagine many didn't even notice.

Anyway, they weren't inedible or anything, just not very good.  Oh, and I totally burnt myself on my first spoonful.  I have no idea how they were so hot!

[ No Photo ]
Baby Spinach Salad with Bleu Cheese, Pickled Onions, Apples & Toasted Pecans. Served with a choice of Balsamic Vinaigrette or Roasted Garlic Buttermilk Dressing.

I somehow missed a photo of the salad, but it was decent, baby spinach, tart pickled onions, slices of apples, and pecans.  I went for the buttermilk dressing, which was creamy but not particularly flavorful.  Again, fine, but nothing special.

Mains

Rosemary Roasted Mary's Chicken.
I don't like chicken, so I moved right past the chicken main dish.
Grilled Bavette with Caper Meyer Lemon Salsa Verde.
The grilled bavette didn't look remotely tempting.  The meat was obviously well done, almost grey in color, and looked pretty tough.  I easily skipped it too.
Baked Rigatoni with Winter Squash, Kale, & Roasted Tomato Béchamel (vegetarian).
The final dish was the real winner, baked rigatoni.

It was cheesy comfort food at its finest.  The top was a generous, crispy layer of cheese that held the heat in.  Inside was well cooked pasta, in a very rich, creamy béchamel.  The béchamel infused the whole thing, filling the tubes of rigatoni, so it squirted out as you bit in.  I loved the béchamel.

There was also some small pieces of kale (greens! not totally unhealthy!), and medium sized chunks of zucchini (not the "winter squash" I was expecting given the menu description).  There was very small chunks of roasted tomato as well for a little additional flavor.  I appreciated the kale and tomatoes, but the zucchini definitely felt out of place.

This was my favorite dish of the night, no question.  Sometimes, I'm a sucker for classic comfort food, and this certainly fit the bill.  Was it amazing, worth seeking out, etc?  Obviously not.  But, I went back for seconds, and, at the very end of the night, for "one more bite", er, plateful.

Dessert

Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Eggnog Buttercream.
As I mentioned, this year, there was no elaborate dessert table, instead, just a cake.  One kind of cake, vanilla chiffon, with eggnog buttercream.

It wasn't very good.  The cake was dry and plain.  The buttercream did have a slight eggnog flavor, but it mostly tasted like, and had the consistency of, Crisco.  I'm never a huge fan of cake, but this was particularly not very good, and even the frosting couldn't save it.

Snacks

Aged White Cheddar & Cayenne Shortbread Crackers.
In a side room with drinks, they did have a snack table.  So when I said there was no appetizers, maybe this counts?  There were only two items though, one savory, one sweet, so, not really.

The savory was cheesy shortbreads, sorta a cross between a cracker and a cookie.  A bit crumbly, thick like a cookie rather than a cracker, slightly sweet, and, cheesy.  I didn't taste the cayenne at all.

An interesting item, and maybe a winner if you wanted a little something to end the night that wasn't really sweet?
Whiskey Caramel Popcorn.
Also on the table was ... whiskey caramel popcorn!

ZOMG.  So, I have an obsession with popcorn, sweet or savory.  Yes, my blog has a label for it.

There is a vendor at the farmer's market in my hometown that makes the most ridiculously good kettle corn imaginable.  My mother sends me bags of it via next day mail sometimes when she is feeling particularly generous.  I know how ridiculous this is, as it is huge in volume, but light, and costs a ton to ship like this, but, well, it is incredible, and I can't get it in San Francisco, so I don't give her too much crap when such a shipment arrives.  I'm also known for bringing entire suitcases of it back to San Francisco with me every time I visit, and my mom knows to always have a freezer full of it waiting for me (yes, a freezer.  My real obsession, is not just popcorn, but, frozen popcorn.  Try it sometime.  It gets crunchier.  I never want it hot and fresh, I always want it frozen!).

At my office, the catering team often makes popcorn for events.  Their savory version with parmesan and truffle is particularly addicting, as is the sweet brown butter version.  Whenever an event has leftover popcorn, you know who is there immediately, scooping it all up, and whisking it away to her freezer.

And then there is caramel corn.  Whenever I order from Munchery, I try to add on extra caramel corn, just to throw into my freezer, as the version they sell from time to time from Chef Allison Tom is also pretty great.  When I visit the ball park, I stock up on the warm, gooey version from Say Hey!.  I'll even stoop so low as to just eat Cracker Jacks (but only when I freeze them of course).

So to say I was excited about caramel popcorn is a bit of an understatement.  And, this was good.  I didn't taste whiskey, and it clearly wasn't frozen, but, it was good.  Sweet, a bit gooey, crunchy.  Some little chunks, some big balls.  I wanted nuts or something in it, but, for classic caramel popcorn, it surely was good.  I may or may not have gone back for a few more cups full throughout the evening, and perhaps I walked out the door at the end of the night with a final cup full in hand.  I mean, who would do something like that?
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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Nestlé Ice Cream, Canada

I've reviewed Nestlé ice cream before, but those previous reviews were all of their US products, and, I didn't really like any.  But now it is time to focus on their Canadian offerings, which, yes, are different.

Over the summer, I visited our office in Waterloo, Canada, where they had one of my favorite perks: an ice cream freezer, filled with classic ice creams from the host country.  You know how much I love my ice cream, and may recall my raving about Street's ice cream from Sydney, and both Heartbrand and Mövenpick in Zurich.  So even though I knew that Nestlé's US offerings are pretty mediocre, I was still excited, and managed to try nearly every selection during my short time there. 

Drumsticks

I enjoyed all three varieties I tried, and would gladly eat more of these, which is more than I can say for US based Nestlé products!
King Size Cookie Dough Drumstick.
"Creamy cookie dough and chocolate with a rich chocolate swirl topped with delicious cookie dough pieces all in a chocolatey lined sugar cone with a chocolatey tip!"

I think this may be only available in Canada.  +1 to Canada!

I've been pretty down on Drumsticks in the past.  The Canadian offerings didn't look much different from those in the US.   I was ready to pass them by, and then I noticed one flavor: cookie dough.

I was drawn in.  It was a crazy hot day (yes! 90 degrees!  They have real summer there!) and they had an outside deck adjacent to the ice cream freezer, so it seemed like a match made in heaven.

And ... it was.  This was really, truly enjoyable.  This wasn't just a normal Drumstick, it was King Size, and expected that I'd eat the bits of cookie dough off the top, perhaps eat part of the "ice cream", and then move on.  But, no.  I kept going, and going, and going.  And then it was gone.  Why?  Because it was really good!

On top were the bits of cookie dough.  Interestingly, I think they were just cookie dough, not chocolate chip cookie dough, as we've all come to expect when we hear "cookie dough".  Sweet, slightly buttery tasting, good texture.  Things were looking good.  Also on top was some chocolate sauce.

But the "ice cream" has always been the part of Drumsticks that has failed to impress me.  This one had two flavors of ice cream (or frozen dairy product - I believe they can't call it ice cream because it doesn't meet the industry definition of ice cream?), one was milk chocolate and the other was ... tan.  I think it was "cookie dough" flavored?  I was intrigued, in part because I've never actually had cookie dough flavor ice cream, rather than vanilla ice cream with cookie dough bits like were on top of the cone.

Both ice creams were creamier than I've ever countered before with a Drumstick.  The temperature was about 90 degrees, and it melted just perfectly.  Not so fast that I had a mess on my hands, but fast enough to make it perfectly lickable.  Melty, creamy, soft, sweet ... ok, wow.

I enjoyed eating the cookie dough topping off, and then I enjoyed licking my ice cream, over and over again.  The King Size cones really have a lot of ice cream.  Once I reached the cone layer, I intended to ditch it.  I knew there wasn't that much ice cream left in the code anyway, I was pretty full (cuz uh, I also had a big slice of lemon meringue pie from the cafe literally moments before), and I never like the cones.

But this cone wasn't bad.  It wasn't soggy, it stayed crispy.  I still don't love sugar cones, so I wasn't that into the cone, but there was something magic going on down in it.  It was chocolate lined, like always.  But also, inside the center of the ice cream in the cone, was a core of chocolate sauce.  It made the ice cream even better.  I cracked open the cone itself, and used it to scoop all the remaining ice cream and sauce out.  So delicious.

I was powerless, and devoured the rest on the spot.  This was actually a winner, and I'd get another in a heartbeat.
King Size Sweet 'n Salty Caramel Drumstick.
"Creamy-tasting vanilla and salted caramel ripple, topped with praline-roasted peanuts."

The next day, I rushed back for another Cookie Dough Drumstick.  But, alas, they were all out.  I settled for the Sweet 'n Salty Caramel instead.

It was ... fine.  Still better than other Drumsticks I've had in the past.  I'm starting to wonder if the Canadian ones are actually different, or, if the warm weather just makes them more magical, as they melt so nicely?

This one also had two types of ice cream swirled together, regular vanilla and sweet caramel.  The caramel was too sweet for me.  The vanilla was necessary to balance it, but, still just a touch too sweet overall.  The ice cream however was creamy and again melted just perfectly.

On top was a drizzle of additional runny caramel, again, more sweet.  I never tasted any of the namesake "salty".  There were also some bits of candied peanuts.  I didn't like the peanuts very much, I'm not sure why, as I like candied nuts and I love peanuts, but these tasted just kinda bad.  Definitely not nearly as successful of a topping as the cookie dough bites.

Once I broke through the massive scoop on top (yeah King Size!), the ice cream below had additional caramel down the core.  This was sweet too, but since it was the caramel sauce rather than the ice cream, it seemed to work better somehow, I wasn't quite as sweet overwhelmed.

The cone, as always, was chocolate lined.  I like the chocolate, and always eat the tip of the cone that is just a big chunk of chocolate, but I never like the actual sugar cone.  Still, I always want it because I love licking ice cream from a cone, so, no real complains.

This was fine, I finished it easily, but I don't want another.
King Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Drumstick.
"Creamy texture with chewy brownie pieces in this King size cone that’ll make any chocolate lover go weak at the knees."

My final day in the office, I eagerly headed to the ice cream freezer.  I wanted another cookie dough Drumstick!  But again, no dice.  The King Size offering of the day was ... Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

I'm not a huge chocolate ice cream fan, but I still settled for it.  Turns out, it wasn't really settling.

It followed the same formula as the previous two King Size Drumsticks: 2 types of ice cream swirled together (this time, vanilla and chocolate), sauce on top and in the ice cream core (chocolate sauce), and bits of a namesake goodie on top (fudge brownies).  I'd seen all of these components before, except for the brownies of course.

It was about the same as the others.  Creamy ice cream that melted perfectly.  I loved the addition of the chocolate sauce on top and down inside the ice cream in the cone.  The brownie bits on top were similar to the cookie dough in both size and texture.  Not too big, not too small, slightly sweet.  Tasty enough.

Overall, very enjoyable.  I really do like the formula they have adopted here for two flavors of really nicely creamy ice cream, sweet sauce, and a fun topping.  I'd get another, but really, I just want another cookie dough one!

Other

I also tried another Nestlé ice cream product: the Oreo Ice Cream Sandwich.  The astute reader may notice that I have "Nestlé" and "Oreo" in the same sentence, and knows that Oreos are made by Nabisco, not Nestlé.  This is certainly true.  But, Nabisco doesn't make ice cream treats, so they license the name to several ice cream manufactures, including Breyers (for Oreo ice cream), Good Humor (for Oreo ice cream bars), and Klondike (for Oreo ice cream sandwiches) in the US, and, Nestlé in Canada, to make these ice cream sandwiches.
Oreo Ice Cream Sandwich.
Unfortunately, the cookie was ... soggy.  It didn't actually remind me of an Oreo, even though it certainly looked like a jumbo sized one.   The soggy texture was just far too different from a real Oreo.

The ice cream inside wasn't creamy, and as you can see, it wasn't white like in the picture on the wrapper (not that I cared if it was white or not).  It had lots of cookie bits throughout, but, otherwise, was unremarkable.  But most significantly, it didn't taste like Oreo filling, and I desperately wanted it to.

Everyone knows the good part of an Oreo is the creme filling, and this had none of the creme flavor, which, in addition to the soggy cookies, made it a fail for me.
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