Friday, March 25, 2016

Simply7 Snacks

I swear, I don't seek out snacks.  Snacks seek me out.  I really don't remember how I wound up with a bag of Simply7 snacks ... a flight perhaps?

Anyway, Simply7 is yet another company trying to make healthy snack foods.  They use only "clean' ingredients, no trans fat, gluten-free, no artificial colors or preservatives, yadda, yadda.  You know the drill.  Their products are all one of my favorite munchies though: chips!

Except, the chips are made with kale, quinoa, hummus, or lentils as the base, all available in a variety of flavors.  Since I love munching away on things, of course I tried them.

(And, in fact, I tried the hummus chips on a Virgin America flight a while ago, they were served as a starter in First Class instead of nuts ...)

Quinoa Chips

"Simply delicious, light, crunchy snacks with quinoa as the main ingredient."

Quinoa chips are available in simple sea salt, salt & vinegar, barbeque, cheddar, and sour cream and onion.  I tried the sea salt.
Sea Salt Quinoa Chips.
"You might expect Sea Salt to be similar to the flavors of other basic salted snacks but it is so much more. The unique flavor of quinoa and the light dusting of sea salt makes for a snacking experience that will keep you reaching for more."

Quinoa chips?  Yeah right, I don't really do healthy like this.  And, just a plain salted flavor?  Bo-ring.  Or, so I thought.

These were actually really good.  I loved how they were light and airy.  They were indeed salty, super salty, but in a great way.

And ... healthy?  The entire bag was only 140 calories and had some protein to boot.

I'd gladly much on these instead of regular potato chips any day, something I never expected to say!  Now, to find them somewhere, and try more flavors.
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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Craftsman & Wolves

Craftsman & Wolves is a bakery that was on my radar for a very, very long time before I finally tried it.  It opened in San Francisco in the Mission several years ago, and then just really took off.  They added a stand at the Ferry Building on Saturdays, then a second location in San Francisco, and now a spin-off down in LA.

For most people, Craftsman & Wolves is on their radar because of the signature item, "The Rebel Within", a cheesy sausage muffin with a egg baked inside of it.  It is a thing of instagram wonder.  It brings in the crowds, for sure.  I haven't had the Rebel, since eggs just aren't really my thing, but the other baked goods sound and look good as well.  I enjoyed a few items, but never found anything to be as rave worthy as others seem to.  Maybe I need to go back for a Rebel?

My encounters all took place at their Ferry Building stand at the Saturday market, so, I have no comments to make about their storefront.

Scones

Yellow Corn Scone / Stonefruit / Sweet Basil. $3.50.
This was one of the most unique scones I have ever tried!  Yes, corn, stonefruit, and basil.  In a scone.  It was somehow both sweet and savory at the same time.

The scone base was not sweetened, it had a great tang, which I always like.

The Brentwood corn was roasted, and the kernels were left whole.  There might have been some more ground up like cornmeal in the scone base, but I couldn't quite tell.

The stone fruit used in this particular scone was apricot, which came in little tiny cubes, which added a pleasant chew and sweetness.

The glaze on top was actually basil glaze, so it also wasn't very sweet, although, it was a glaze, so it had some sweetness to it.

This was a really fun scone, and quite delicious.  The texture of the base scone was nicely crumbly, I liked having the slight chew from the chunks of apricot, and the glaze was hardened on top, so there were several different textures at play, something I always appreciate.  And I liked that my brain was confused the entire time if I was eating something sweet or savory, and wondering why there was corn in my scone.  (But, I've had many corn muffins or cornbread that had full kernels in it, so, why not in a scone?  In fact, this did somewhat remind me of cornbread, just with a totally different texture ...)

I also really liked how the ingredients worked together, although I'd never expect them to.  Corn and basil, sure.  Apricot and basil even, as many desserts these days include basil.  But corn and apricot?  Certainly not something I'd think of putting together.  But it all worked.

I really enjoyed this, and I'd gladly have another, and it mades me excited to try more of their seasonal scones.  $3.50 for a good sized scone was a fine price, particularly given that it was made with so many fresh market ingredients.
Thai Scone / House Green Curry / Coconut / Mango. $2.
Remember how I said the corn and stone fruit scone was the most unique scone I'd ever had?  Well, that was true ... until I had my next scone from Craftsman & Wolves: the Thai scone.

I was planning to get the corn scone again, since I'd liked it so much the first time, but alas, the season changed, and corn and stone fruit were long gone.  There were two scones to pick from this time around, a Thai scone, or a apple and cheese version.  I grew up eating apple pie with cheese melted on top, so that scone sounded pretty normal to me, but the vibrant colors of the Thai scone won me over.  It doesn't show up well in this photo, but it was bright green, with pops of orange from the mango studded throughout.

Not only did it look unique, it also sounded fascinating.  Most of the ingredients were fairly non-standard for a scone (mango, coconut, ginger), but fell within the realm of reason.  But ... green curry?  In a scone?  I had no idea if I should expect something sweet or savory.

The answer was, like the corn and apricot scone, it was a bit of both.  The curry flavor was there, providing a savory aspect.  The base almost seemed like it could have been more of a biscuit than a scone.  But studded throughout were bursts of sweetness in the little chunks of candied ginger and larger chunks of dried mango.  Shredded coconut on top rounded it out.

The flavors and textures all worked well together, and it was interesting to consume.  I had it mid-morning, which worked fine, but I might have found it a bit too savory and a bit too flavorful for a breakfast item, which is when I normally have my scones.

The downside is that it was fairly dry.  I know scones aren't supposed to be moist, but, it seemed almost overcooked, or perhaps a bit stale.  I think it would have been better with just a touch less time in the oven, or, perhaps some kind of glaze on top.

This scone was also much smaller than my previous one.  It was shrunk down to a really pleasant size.  It wasn't tiny like the petite vanilla scones you can get at Starbucks that don't actually leave you satisfied, but it wasn't so large you felt remotely guilty devouring it.  The price was scaled accordingly, to a perfectly reasonable $2.  I wish more places made smaller sized treats!

Cookies

Cashew "Isle of Gold" Curry Cookie. $3.
I'm not generally one for cookies.  In the realm of baked goods, cookies are pretty near the bottom of my list.  Unless they are fresh baked, warm, and gooey, then I might make an exception.  But I'd still prefer just about anything else.

So ... why did I get a cookie?  Well, it was afternoon when I stopped by the Craftsman & Wolves stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, and, it just didn't seem quite right to get a scone at 1:30pm.  So, cookie it was.  Plus, I know Ojan likes cookies, so I figured I'd be "nice" and bring it to him ... if I didn't like it.  (Yes, he knows my tricks, it isn't like he can't figure out why he randomly gets "gifts" of cookies with bites out of them!)

Anyway, the cookie.  It was a crispy-style, something I never like.  I should have known this just from looking at it, but I still picked it.  Ok, strike one, but not necessarily the cookie's fault, I know some people like crisp cookies.  Also, I don't actually like cashews all that much.  But the night before, I had these amazing sugar and coconut coated cashews at a party, and I'd been drooling over the thought of them since.  So, cashews did sound somewhat appealing at the moment.  The cashews were cut up in chunks, but still large enough that I could tell they were cashews and not some other nut.  They were ... fine.  And finally, the curry.  I didn't really detect it, particularly not in the nice way I had with the curry infused scone.

For me, there just wasn't much going on in this cookie.  The curry was too subtle to taste, it was a style of cookie I don't like, and, it was just really quite boring, something I never expected from a cookie with such a bold name (side note: no, I have no idea what the "Isle of Gold" reference is about).

Thus, I brought it home to gift to Ojan.  He went out of his way to tell me he liked it.  You must understand, for him to volunteer a review of an item without me dragging it out of him is a big deal.  So he did actually like it.  He said he wouldn't have known it was cashew if I hadn't told him, and would have assumed it was peanut, which is funny to me, since the nuts weren't so coarsely cut that you could still see their shape.  Cashews don't look like peanuts!  He also said he didn't taste curry necessarily, but rather, "some strange spicing".  He detected that something was a bit unique about it, he just could not tell what exactly.

I clearly wouldn't get another one of these for me, but Ojan said he'd get another.
Valrhona Chocolate Chip Cookie. $3.
"Made with Valrhona 80% chocolate and topped with sea salt"

By now, you know that I don't tend to like cookies all that much, particularly crispy style.  I picked this up mostly for Ojan.

But of course I tried a bite before bringing it to him.  Or, I intended to just try a bite.  It turns out, I liked the cookie and wanted more.  Ojan only got half.

Yes, it was a crispy cookie.  I prefer soft gooey cookies.  But, it was sweet, it was buttery, and it was loaded up with really high quality dark chocolate.  And the little bit of salt on the finish was perfect.  Ojan took one bite and said "I see why you liked this cookie".  I looked at him quizzically.  "It is 90% butter, 5% sugar, and 5% chocolate", he said.  Doh.  Got me.  I like my butter.

$3 is a bit high for a cookie, but it is a quite large cookie.  I wouldn't get another for myself, but I'd gladly steal a few bites now and then from Ojan ...

Other

Créme Fraîche / Grains of Paradise / Muscovado Morning Bun. $4.
"Soft vanilla freckled bun with créme fraîche, three shades of sugar and grains of paradise."

The next time I encountered Craftsman & Wolves, the morning bun was calling my name.

Now, I had read Yelp reviews in advance, and people generally seemed unimpressed with this item, but it really did sound like the perfect thing to go along with my coffee and some fresh fruit.  Plus, I do love a good cinnamon roll / morning bun / etc.

It was incredibly moist, actually damp, which was a bit strange.  It had a generous coating of cinnamon and sugar on the outside, but the dough itself wasn’t particularly flavorful, and it didn’t have cinnamon and sugar rolled up inside like I was expecting.  Less good than most morning buns I’ve had.  It reminded me more of a cinnamon sugar donut hole than a morning bun.

I also didn't taste the pepperyness I was expecting from the grains of paradise, and most certainly never encountered créme fraîche.  I know Craftsman & Wolves is known for having interesting ingredients mixed in, so I expected these elements to be prominent, and to not even taste them was a letdown. 

$4 was a little high for something that was so plain.  Maybe I'm just missing something here, or, alas, maybe the Yelpers were right about this one.  I wouldn't get another.

Confections

Toasted Pistachio and Cherry Fudge.  $1.
These were sitting by the register.  I couldn't resist.  They were too cute.  You know, for "later".
Inside the fudge.
Inside the wrapper was, well, fudge.

It was a soft style, loaded with pistachios and tart sour cherries.  It was fine, I liked the chew from the cherry, but, it was just fudge.  It didn't really taste any different from fudge my grandmother makes from marshmallow Fluff.
Craftsman and Wolves Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Waffling Leftovers: Shepherd's Pie

In the land of waffling leftovers, sometimes you have wild successes, like leftover pizza-waffles, which has forever changed the way I'll consume my leftover pizza.  Sometimes you have quasi-successes like chorizo wrapped pesto pasta.

And sometimes you have fails.  This is a story of a fail.

It was still fun, and a learning lesson, but yes, sometimes you win some, and sometimes you lose.

So, leftover shepherd's pie: will it waffle?  Nope!
Leftover Shepherd's Pie.
I started with leftover shepherd's pie.

In my head, this was going to be a great success.  I thought the mashed potato top would get crispy like a potato pancake, like when I waffled plain mashed potatoes.  Of course, I forgot a key element: when I waffled just the mashed potatoes, it didn't work that well, it was only once I crusted the potatoes that I had success.  Whoops.  I should read my own notes.

In my head, the meat on the bottom layer would basically turn into a burger.

And then the veggies and cheese inside would get warm and gooey.

It seemed like a great idea - crispy potato pancake top, burger bottom, melty center.
A few minutes in ...
I set the waffle iron at 350 degrees, and added a portion of shepherd's pie.

I checked a few minutes in, and ... it was a bit of a mess.  It didn't really seem to be holding together.  I waited a wail longer, as often, the key to success with waffling items is to just let it go longer.  Still, no dice.

So, I turned the heat up to 400.  Besides failing to crust it, I think this was one of my fatal moves.
Will it waffle? No.
After just a minute or so, I opened the waffle iron to find a mess.  A burnt mess.

I extracted it, but it totally and completely fell apart.  The bits that weren't burnt tasted fine, but, there weren't many of those.  It was pretty brunt.  Luckily, I had saved half my portion, so I just heated that up the traditional way in my toaster oven, and enjoyed much more.

I might still try this again sometime, with a crust, and keeping it at lower temperature.  Or ... since shepherd's pie reheats so well traditionally anyway, perhaps this is one just better left alone.  What do you think, dear readers?  Do I try again?
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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

AA 73, LAX -> SYD, Business Class

On my recent trip to Sydney, I decided to try something new, and fly on American Airlines, rather than my standard Qantas.

Why? I didn't really love my last few Qantas flights (lackluster service, lackluster seats), and, I knew that I liked the business class seats on AA (they are the same as Cathay Pacific, which I flew on to Hong Kong and onward to Tokyo).  So, even though it meant connecting in LAX, rather than flying direct, it seemed worth finally trying AA's international business class.  Oh, and did I mention, they have international wifi?

After some lounge hopping in LAX, exploring the First Class Qantas lounge (it really hasn't gotten any better), the Qantas Business lounge (potato salad still tasty), and the American Airlines Admirals Club (I'm addicted to that snack mix), it was time to board the flight.

Overall, I'm glad I decided to fly on American.  The seat was certainly better than on Qantas, the dinner was ok, I loved having wifi, but the service wasn't attentive nor even friendly.

The Aircraft

Boarding was a fairly efficient process, and we settled in to explore our seats.  As expected, I liked the seat.  In particular, I appreciated the fact that everyone had aisle access, and the well designed storage built into the seat.  A very functional and comfortable offering.
My Seat (and linens!)
Ojan and I were seated in 3J and 3G, in the small business class cabin of only 8 seats.  This cabin is directly behind the tiny first class cabin, and in front of the much larger business class cabin.  I of course picked these seats so that we'd have a fairly quiet experience, away from the galley, and sans foot traffic (since no business passengers could go forward into the first class cabin, and no first class passengers would be coming backward).  And indeed the cabin was quiet and a good environment for sleeping (or, at least, as good as we were going to get on an airplane).

I was really impressed with the bedding.  AA doesn't normally offer this level of bedding for Business Class, but, as part of the partnership with Qantas they are offering the same standards as Qantas, and thus we got multiple full size pillows and really comfortable comforters.  This is the best bedding I've had on any business class flight.
So much storage!
The seat had great storage, with space to stash my bags under the foot rest part of my seat, cubbies all over the place, and of course, large overhead bins too.

The TV screen was large and the entertainment system looked decent, but, since we had wifi, I never ended up using the TV.  The wifi worked shockingly well whenever I tried.
Bose Headphones.
Comfortable Bose headphones came in their own compartment.
Controls.
Easy to use controls, power, lighting.
Amenity Kit.
Standard amenities came in the amenity kit, already waiting for us on our seats: a low end eye mask and earplgus, socks, tissues, mothwash, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip gloss, and lotion.  The cases weren't particularly interesting, just gray, and unisex.
Pajamas.

Pajamas are not normally offered in American Airline's Business class, but, again, in keeping up with Qantas, they gave us the First Class Pajamas.  They were fairly comfortable.

The Food

Anyway, you are here to read about the food, not the seat and pajamas.  I know that.  So, without further ado, the food.  Short version?  Dinner was ok, breakfast was poor.

Dinner

The first meal served was dinner, served an hour or so after takeoff.  American allows you to order your entree in advance online, which both Ojan and I did.  The dinner didn't start out great, but I did enjoy my entree and loved the dessert.
Dinner Menu.
The dinner menu was as follows:

Canapé: Prosciutto Crostini with lime-infused cream cheese

Salad: Seasonal Greens served with your choice of blue cheese vinaigrette or balsamic vinaigrette

For Main Plates, we had the option of:
  • Grilled Beef Filet, lobster mac and cheese, tri-color carrots
  • Pan-seared Lamb Chops, creamy red skin mashed potatoes, grilled baby squash
  • Roasted Halibut, chimichurri, goat cheese and squash couscous
  • Mushroom Wellington, sautéed spinach, slow-roasted tomatoes, pine nuts
  • Mezze plate with hummus, baba ganoush, feta cheese, olives, pita
Dessert, Snacks.
Dessert:

  • Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream
  • Ghirardelli chocolate raspberry mousse
  • Hand selected local cheeses (Bear Flag Dry Montery Jack, Cypress Grove Purple Haze goat cheese, served with fruit accompaniments)

Mid-Flight Snacks

  • Wagyu beef sliders with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, Kettle chips (condiments available on request) 
  • Whole seasonal fruit
  • Kettle sea salt potato chips
  • White cheddar popcorn
  • ginnyminis oatmeal bliss cookies
  • Ghirardelli chocolates

Warm Nuts, Wine, Sparkling Water.
Meal service began with a beverage offering, served with warm mixed nuts.

I do love the touch that serving nuts warm adds, always a signature American Airlines move.  The mix was mostly cashews and almonds, although I had a single walnut and pistachio in there as well.  The nuts weren't particularly seasoned, but, warm nuts really are nice.
Salad with Blue Cheese and Canape.
Next came our dinner trays, with the canape and salad already on them, along with silverware and butter.

The salad was soggy, the lettuce fairly wilted and not at all crisp.  The blue cheese I opted for was water, more like a vinaigrette?  Certainly not the creamy blue cheese I was hoping for.

The canape was a prosciutto crostini with lime-infused cream cheese.  It was tiny and not very good.  The crostini was hard, stale, crusty bread, and the prosciutto on top was entirely dried out and also very hard.

Bread was offered from a basket, white or rye, which I skipped.

The Vermont Creamery butter was cute, and a quality item, but seemed wasteful, as it was a lot of butter for each person.
Mushroom Wellington.
"Mushroom Wellington, sautéed spinach, slow-roasted tomatoes, pine nuts."

For my main dish, I pre-selected the vegetarian option, the Mushroom Wellington, since I don't like lamb or goat cheese, and wasn't really excited about airplane steak.

It was actually really quite good.

I'm not sure I'd really call it a Wellington, but, a tasty mushroom pie it was.  The puff pastry was very buttery, in a good way.  It wasn't crispy and flaky, but it really was good enough.  It had a full bottom crust and a lattice on top.  Inside was a roasted portabella mushroom, covered in a tasty mushroom/garlic/cheese layer.

This was surprisingly good, and I easily devoured it, even though I wasn't hungry due to my lounge excursions.  I'm a sucker for puff pastry.

On the side was the wilted spinach sprinkled with pine nuts on top, which was fine.  The roasted tomatoes were a bit of an odd side dish, but, they too were fine.

Overall, pretty tasty, and I'd get it again.
Lobster Mac and Cheese.
Ojan opted for the grilled beef filet, served with lobster mac and cheese.  I wasn't interested in the beef, but, I did ask him for a little bit of the mac and cheese, which he handed over on his bread plate.

It wasn't anything special, fairly mushy, not creamy, definitely overcooked.  Meh.  I was happy with my choice.
Ghirardelli chocolate raspberry mousse.
Dessert was a struggle for me.  I wanted both the mousse and the Ben & Jerry's ice cream (chocolate fudge brownie, one of the only chocolate ice creams I really like), but I also didn't want the caffeine from the chocolate so late at night (it was nearly midnight at this point, and I knew I needed to get to sleep ...)

I settled on the chocolate mousse, since it was more unique ... I can get Ben & Jerry's anywhere.  (I was also a bit sad that I wouldn't get a signature American Airlines made to order sundae ... I guess that is first class only?)  Also, um, I love puddings.

Anyway, the mousse was a wonderful choice, shockingly good.

A very rich, fluffy yet dense, chocolate mousse.  So rich.  On top was fluffy whipped cream, kinda like cool whip, and a single raspberry, and a dark chocolate spoon.  The base had chocolate cake.

If I want to nit pick, I would have liked an element with some crunch, but, overall, this was far better than I expected.  The serving was also huge, and... uh... I finished it.  (Let's not even get started on the fact that it was my 3rd dessert of the night ...)

Ojan looked over and saw that I'd consumed the whole thing and scolded me, I think mostly due to the amount of caffeine, and because he expected to at least get to try a bite.  Ooops.  It was too good to not devour!

Breakfast

Our second meal was breakfast, served about 2 hours before landing.  You could not order in advance, not even from a card at your seat to maximize sleep.  They woke everyone up for breakfast.  2 hours before landing is also further in advance that Qantas serves breakfast, so, overall, they really cut into our precious sleep time.  For that I was not a fan.

The breakfast also just wasn't substantial, or good.
Breakfast Menu.
For breakfast, the menu read:

Starters
  • Mixed berry smoothie
  • Fresh seasonal fruit
  • Greek yogurt
  • Pan au chocolat
Selections:
  • Traditional American Breakfast: Scrambled egg, Canadian bacon, roasted potatoes, herbed tomato
  • Continental Breakfast: seasonal fruit, organic yogurt, granola
Compared to basically all other business class flights I've been on, this was a pretty weak offering, with only a single hot option.  The menu looked a bit larger than it really was, as the fruit and yogurt from the starters section were the same as the continental.

Compare this to the Qantas offering I normally get on the same LAX-SYD route for example.  On Qantas, the menu starts with a smoothie, fruit salad, and muesli, which is basically the same as on AA (although the muesli is offered with multiple milk options or yogurt), plus multiple types of baked goods and spreads, and THEN you get a hot entree, picked from basic scrambled eggs or fun selections like french toast or pancakes.  And, on Qantas, you order breakfast in advance on a card, and it is brought out individually as the FAs see you wake up.

Or compare to Air New Zealand, the other route I've taken to Sydney (via AKL).  Air New Zealand also didn't have advance ordering, but, the menu was again far more sizable, starting with a smoothie, fruit salad, yogurt, granola or cereal, croissants and other baked goods and spreads, all served as a first course, offered from the cart, and THEN continuing to four different hot options, including scrambled eggs, poached eggs, french toast, and a bacon and cheese bagel, all of which also came with additional sides.

Anyway, on AA, breakfast service began by the FAs suddenly showing up with trays in their hands, and then looking annoyed that no one had their tray tables out ready for them.  Trays were plopped down with barely a word.  Ojan was brought the eggs, even though he asked for continental.
Continental Breakfast, sans fruit.
When my tray arrived, it had a pot of yogurt, a tiny bowl of granola, and, a fruit platter with melons.  Sigh.

I immediately flagged down the flight attendant, reminded her that I was allergic to melon, and she asked if I could just eat around it.  Sigh.  Would I have mentioned this when I first got on the plane, double checked again before breakfast service, and then brought it up now if I could just eat around it?  Double sigh.  In the end, she just took that one plate away, leaving everything else, and assuring me that it had all been wrapped up, so there was no way anything else was contaminated.  Compare this to my Qantas flight, where the FA somehow created me a custom fruit plate ...

So, after taking away the fruit, I had a container of yogurt, and a laughably small portion of granola.  This was the "Continental Breakfast" after all, I had turned down the starter smoothie, and it seemed pretty clear that the duplicate yogurt and fruit mentioned under the starters section were not really options.  This was a very meager breakfast.

The yogurt was Uptown Farms brand, blueberry Greek yogurt, fat-free.  Like most fat-free yogurts with fruit, it was way, way too sweet.  It wasn't creamy, thick Greek yogurt.  It was not good.  (Side note: meanwhile, in economy, they had Noosa yogurt, perhaps my favorite brand ever.  Not fair!)

The granola was standard granola, with nuts and raisins, slightly sweetened.  It was fine, but honestly, I don't know if you can see from this photo how tiny the portion was, but it was literally about 2 spoonfuls, I think intended to be sprinkled onto your yogurt, as no milk was offered.
Continental Breakfast - Fruit + Pan au Chocolat + Coffee.
After a while, when I was beginning to wonder if coffee was also not going to be offered, a FA came by with coffee, and a basket, saying, "Roll?"  I looked up, confused why we'd be getting rolls, and wondering where the pan au chocolat listed on the menu could possibly be.  I looked into her basket, and saw that it contained what sure looked like chocolate croissants to me, albeit very small ones.  I said sure, and 2 mushed, tiny chocolate croissants were plopped down on my plate.

They were mushed, sorta flattened out.  The outside was hard and stale.  But they were warmed up, so, the chocolate inside was warm.  But really, not very good.

And that ... was meal service.  So, from the Starters, I turned down the smoothie, and took the pan au chocoolat.  The fruit and yogurt mentioned there didn't actually exist, as they were part of my continental breakfast.  And without the fruit, this was really much of a meal, at all.

My grumpiness over this meal continued as I could see into first class, where they had pancakes (!) in addition to the scrambled eggs or continental options, and ... pecan sticky buns.

I knew this wasn't enough food for me, so I asked a FA if there was anything else I could have.  I said that I'd even take something from economy, or leftovers from earlier (chocolate mousse for breakfast seems legit to me!), but, she told me no, the only thing left was apples.  Let's just say, I got off the plane, and went straight for food.

Oh, and no coffee refills were ever offered.  I waited until the plates were being cleared away, expecting an offer at that point.  No dice.  No final, "can I get you anything else?"  Nothing.  On my way to the bathroom I stopped at the galley to ask for more coffee, and the FA looked at me and said, "Um, ok", and just glared at me.  Was I really that crazy to want two cups of coffee?  Sigh, the service.

Breakfast, and the service in general, were a real let down, if you couldn't tell.
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Monday, March 21, 2016

McDonald's

Somehow, I haven't ever published my review of regular old McDonald's. Sure, I've reviewed the slew of ridiculously sweet beverages from McCafe, and the decent holiday McFlurry, but somehow, I haven't ever told you what I think of McDonald's staples, aka, burgers and fries!

I ate my share of McDonald's growing up, but it certainly wasn't a regular thing. Mostly my memories are of birthday parties held in the placespace at the McDonald's, where they served that crazy orange drink. I remember collecting the toys from Happy Meals. But, I don't think I was ever a really huge McDonald's fan.

Then, in high school, I played field hockey. Our bus often stopped at McDonald's on the way home from away games. I recall really loving the fries then, when dipped in sweet and sour, bbq, and honey (yes, usually all three, often combined). I also liked the sundaes.

And then I didn't really go to McDonald's again for years. Even when on road trips (or, driving to and from college), I always just went to Dunkin' Donuts and got a muffin, no matter what time of day.

So now, McDonald's is a novelty to me. It is a place I go very rarely, and usually only when travelling (which, is even more fun when out of the country, because foreign McDonald's have some really unique menu items! Stay tuned!). Even then, it is never on the top of my list, but Ojan does sometimes get a craving for chicken McNuggets or a Big Mac, and thus, I go too, hoping to again enjoy it as much as I used to, but never succeeding.
 Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
"A quarter pound of 100% pure beef simply seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, two slices of melty cheese, slivered onions and tangy pickles all on a sesame seed bun. "

To ensure I got a fresh burger, I ordered mine with extra pickles (and, because I love pickles!) and only one slice of cheese (for some reason, two seemed like too much).

I was really surprised with my first bite.  The beef was … seasoned.  It had some pepper and salt, just as described.  Sure, it was a thin patty, with no actual beefy flavor and a mealy texture, more akin to cardboard than beef but, someone did season the thing.  Points for that.

The patty, as always, was very well done, as in, cooked through.  Even though a quarter pound, it was quite thin.

The onions were sharp and there were too many, but they combined well with the mustard.  I did really like the mustard and onion flavors.

My extra pickles translated into two pickles … is normal just one?  I liked my pickles, and wanted more.

The cheese was nicely melted but pretty standard fake american cheese.

The bun was a little soggy, boring, and about as generic as could be.

This was a quinesential generic McDonald’s burger, pretty much exactly as I remembered.  I have no desire to have another.
10 Piece Chicken McNuggets. $4.59. Small French Fries. $1.39.
"Our tender, juicy, Chicken McNuggets are made with USDA-inspected white meat. They're tempura battered and cooked to golden perfection."

The nuggets were Ojan's, but of course I had one, mostly out of curiosity.  I don't like chicken, and I did not ever get nuggets as a kid, but Ojan was so excited by these, I had to try.  They had a great crispy breading, but the chicken was soo fake and ground up and just strange to me.  Meh.

"Golden on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. Made with quality potatoes and cooked in our Canola oil blend for zero grams of trans fat per serving."

Who doesn't love McDonald's fries?  (Or, at least, who didn't at some point in their lives?)

The fries were thin and crispy.  I didn't love them, nor hate them.  They were just ... fries, very fried, and clearly not fresh.  These have definitely lost their magic on me.

But you know I'm a sauce girl, so, what about those sauces?

The sweet and sour sauce always looks so horrible.  It is goopy.  Thick.  Nasty looking really.  But I still really like the taste, as unsightly as it is, and it is my preferred McDonald's dipping sauce for my fries.

The bbq looks a little better, but is always my second choice.  Really, the best is mostly sweet and sour, with a touch of bbq.  I dip first in the sweet and sour, and then do a quick dunk in the bbq afterwards.  My magic combo.  I've done it for as long as I can remember.

I enjoyed some fries, with my sauces, but I can't say I have any craving or desire to have them again.

A few months later, we went back to McDonald's, another time when traveling.  I again noted that the bbq sauce was only ok, but I loved the sweet and sour.  I found the fries flavorless and again not what I remembered.
Big Mac.
"A double layer of sear-sizzled 100% pure beef mingled with special sauce on a sesame seed bun and topped with melty American cheese, crisp lettuce, minced onions and tangy pickles"

If I thought the patty in the quarter pounder was thin, that was nothing compared to the Big Mac. Seriously, seriously thin patties. They were completely flavorless.

The lettuce is just standard shredded iceberg, but it really has its place on the big mac. But of course, the best thing going for it is the Big Mac sauce. Creamy, mayo-y, delicious.

I don’t particularly want another one, but for what it is, it was good.

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Hot Fudge Sundae with Nuts

"Reduced fat soft serve vanilla ice cream, smothered in chocolatey fudge sauce."

I love soft serve ice cream, and I don't get it often, as silly froyo has taken over.  Also, I kinda think soft serve ice cream just isn't as much of a thing on the West Coast, even before the whole froyo invasion?

Anyway, not that McDonald's is where I'd go for great ice cream, I wanted soft serve, and I know theirs is decent.  And it was.  It was perfectly creamy, although it didn't have much flavor to it.  The fudge was hot, thick, and pretty tasty.  I liked the crunch from the peanuts, but they were just generic peanuts.

Was this an awesome sundae?  Of course not.  But it hit the spot.
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