Friday, August 07, 2015

The Real Deal All Natural Snacks

I love snack food review days, because really, it just gives me the excuse to try every snack food I come across.  I'm a habitual snacker; every couple hours, I want ... something.  I particularly like things I can eat with my fingers.  Thus, snacks, or, as I often call them, snacky-snacks.

Uh, anyway.  Let's talk about the Real Deal Snacks. This is a company that has been around since 1946 making snack mixes. They claim to have created the first "party mix" and the first ones to make packaged tortilla chips.  I sorta find this hard to believe, but, I'll go with it.

In addition to their snack mix and tortilla chips, they also make veggie chips, cheese crunchies, and gluten-free corn pretzels.  While the snack mix wasn't a hit with myself or any other tasters in my group, I really did enjoy their veggie chips.

Snack Mix

Original Snack Mix
Well, since they invented party mix, seems like the snack mixes were the place to start.  They say, "The Snack Mix is a delightful blend of ingredients: crunchy cheese curls, pretzels, nacho tortilla and corn chips."  It comes in two flavors, Original and Chili Lime.  I tried both.
Crunchy cheese curl, nacho tortilla, pretzel rod, corn chip, bbq corn chip, pretzel twist (clockwise, from top left)
I started by laying out the assortment.  I expected 4 different items from the description, but, bonus, there were 6 - two types of corn chips and two types of pretzels.

(Clockwise, from top left)

Cheese Crunchies: "Light, crispy curls packed with delicious cheese flavor!"

These were basically Cheetoes, but less flavorful.  I appreciated the crunch, and they were my favorite of the mix. "Like a Cheetoes, but less good", said another sampler. "Not that exciting," said another.  The Real Deal also sells these as a standalone product, "Cheese Crunchies".

The nacho tortillas were round, and tasted strongly of tomato.  I guess that is a component of nachos, but I didn't taste anything cheesy.  I had only one of these.  They sell regular white corn tortilla chips, and blue corn, but no seasoned ones individually.

Pretzels were both sticks and twists, just standard pretzels.  I had only one twist. "Tastes like a pretzel stick," said another taster.  The don't sell these pretzels standalone, only the corn based ones, and these were regular flour.

The corn chips were like large size Fritos.  The bbq ones were very different from what I expected, I wouldn't have identified them as bbq, although they were clearly more seasoned than the regular ones.   The non-bbq ones were saltier.  "The salt makes them slightly less horrible", said my tastier.

Overall, I really liked the assorted sizes and textures, but none of the flavors were really that great.
Chili Lime Snack Mix.
I moved on to the Chili Lime version.

These were exactly the same as The Original, but with chili lime seasoning.  The seasoning was a bit zesty, making everything taste a bit like Doritos, which I never like.  I quickly handed this bag off to Ojan.

My only other note here is that the pretzels were particularly bad, they seemed burnt.

Real! Veggie Chips

Sriracha Real! Veggie Chips
The other fun sounding product line is their veggie chips.

"Made from real corn, real peas and real rice".  They come in a bunch of flavors: original, sriracha, and aged white cheddar.

Of course I went for sriracha.
Close up.  Tiny little chips!
These really grew on me.  At first they were just confusing, not really what I'd call a "chip".  They were tiny but also very light.  I could taste rice.  And I could taste peas.  Super strange.  And on top of all that ... some serious spice.  I'm not sure I'd know it was sriracha, which surprised me, since that is a distinctive taste.  But they were seriously spicy.

By the middle of the bag, I was hooked.  When I hit the end, I was devastated.  These were seriously tasty!  The spice level is what kept them addicting :)

A fairly healthy snack too, only 100 calories per bag, 1.25 servings of vegetables, and 80% less fat than potato chips.  And gluten free.  And vegan.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Madhouse Bakehouse, Australia

Update Review, May 2015 Visit

If you haven't already, I suggest you read my original review from my January / February 2015, and then return here.  I'm skipping all details about the company this time around.  The short version? Packaged cookies and brownies, that are actually quite good.  Who knew?


I still don't understand why I like these cookies so much.  As I've said before, I don't really like cookies.  And Ojan, the cookie lover, doesn't even think these are great.
Fig, Roast Hazelnut, and Orange Cookie.
I decided to try more of these cookies on my next visit to Australia, since the desserts in our cafes were pretty lackluster, and, unlike my visit during the summer, I wasn't exactly craving ice cream this time around.

I started with the interesting sounding fig, roast hazelnut, and orange cookie.  Like the Raspberry, Coconut, & White Chocolate it had a sweet, buttery base.  Yes, it was a crispy cookie, but, it was still good.  The bits of dried fig gave further pops of sweetness and a texture change, and I really liked the roast hazelnut chunks.  The orange though I didn't like, and the entire cookie was flavored with orange oil.  I'm not one for orange (or other citrus) desserts in general.

If it wasn't for the orange oil, I would have actually quite liked this, which is shocking since it is a cookie.
Smarty Pants.
This is a playful cookie, the least interesting flavor-wise of any that I tried, but good in its simplicity.  No dried fruit, seeds, or creative ingredients.  Instead, just chocolate chips and Smarties.

The Smarties added color and were somewhat perfectly distributed on top.  I wonder if I lucked out, or, if they really do these by hand or something?

The cookie itself, like all the Madhouse cookies, was crispy, buttery, sugary.  It was basic, yes, but, I really do like their cookie base.  The chocolate chips were large size, milk chocolate.  The Smarties were just Smarties, so nothing notable there, except that the extra chocolate was nice.

So overall, another decent cookie, that surprised me again.
Milk Chocolate & Roasted Hazelnut.
Another decent cookie.  I just don't understand why I like these.  They are packaged, crispy cookies!  And a chocolate one at that?

But the base is buttery and sweet, with a nice cocoa flavor. The little bits of roasted hazelnut add a great crunch and flavor.  Hard to go wrong with the chocolate and hazelnut combination.


The coffee shop in the building also sourced several of their brownies.  For the foodservice industry, Madhouse Bakehouse sells them by the slab, so they were nicely cut down into little squares for us.  Of course, this just made me feel guilty when I took two brownies at a time.  But really, they were small, who eats a brownie that size?
Triple Chocolate Brownies.
These things were decadent and awesome.  So rich and fudgy.  I don't usually pick brownies as my dessert of choice, but these were shockingly good, particularly for a product that wasn't fresh.  I especially enjoyed them topped with whipped cream (shhh, don't tell anyone!)
White Chocolate & Macadamia Brownie.
The blondies were also shockingly good.  I only tried them because the chocolate ones were so amazing and one day they had no chocolate.

The base blondie was perfectly sweet, with little pops of sweetness from the white chocolate.  The macadamia chunks added a great crunch.  And the powdered sugar on top amped up the sweetness even further.  Quite successful!

Original Review, Jan/Feb 2015 Visit

Madhouse Bakehouse is a commercial bakery in Australia.  They produce goods for cafes, hotels, airlines, caterers, etc country-wide, including Qantas.  Although they are a large commercial bakeshop, they do not use mixes or preservatives, and make everything from scratch.

Their products range from cookies and brownies, to "slices" and cakes, plus granola, muesli, and breakfast breads.  Each product line has a large variety inside of it, like the brownies, which includes interesting flavors such as ginger with caramelized white chocolate, and a large selection of gluten-free options.

 My office in Sydney stocked a few of their cookies, so I was able to try several of those, but I never encountered any of their other products, so I can't evaluate those.  The cookies were great, and I'm not a cookie person at all, so I would really love to try some of the other items, like the slices, in particular, the honeycomb slice!  I love honeycomb (another Australian discovery)!
Raspberry, Coconut, & White Chocolate Cookie.
Ok, like I said, I'm not a cookie person.  Sometimes I enjoy a cookie, but in the realm of desserts, I will never pick a cookie.  But, my office cafes, while wonderful for the savory cuisine, really, really didn't make very good desserts.  After a few weeks in Sydney, I was seriously needing good dessert.  I was getting desperate.

So I tried a Madhouse cookie.  Now, back to my general lack of interest in cookies.  The only cookies I ever like are soft ones (or, perhaps, ones coated in icing), fresh out of the oven, still warm.  I never like hard style cookies.  I never like packaged cookies.  Why on earth did I try this?  Again.  Desperate.

But, I was rewarded for trying.  It was really, really good!  Yes, it was a hard, crispy style cookie.  But the base was buttery and sweet, really pleasant, loaded with coconut for a bit of crunch.  There was a generous amount of little bits of dried raspberry, super flavorful.  The only disappointing part was the white chocolate, there were only two chips in the entire cookie!  I wanted more creamy, sweet, white chocolate.

Anyway, this was a complete surprise.  I loved it, and devoured it.  I wish I had discovered these earlier on in my visit.
Dark Chocolate, Pistachio & Sour Cherry Cookie.
I also tried the chocolate, pistachio, and sour cherry cookie.

It was again a hard style cookie, a bit too crumbly for my taste.  I did like the bits of dark chocolate, the crunch of the pistachio, and flavor from sour cherry.

But, not my sort of thing at all, and I handed it off to Ojan.

Update: I tried another.  I again didn't like it.  Hard cookie.  Crumbly. Bitter from pistachio.  The dark chocolate bits were the only thing I liked.
Triple Chocolate Cookie.
Next up was the Triple Chocolate Cookie.  It featured, well, three types of chocolate: white, milk, and dark.

The base was about the same as the other chocolate cookie, hard, crispy style, too crumbly.  It had a subtle cocoa flavor to it.  The other chocolates came as chips, all of which were unremarkable.

My least favorite of the cookies.