Thursday, January 14, 2016

Psycho Donuts

Donuts.  Glorious, glorious, donuts.

I love my baked goods, and I love sweet carbs that masquerade as "breakfast".  Thus, I obviously love donuts.  But so many fail to impress, and I don't just mean Dunkin' Donuts or Krispy Kreme.  What I really dislike are trendy donut shops, you know the type that load their donuts up with all sorts of toppings, or crazy fillings, yet are never actually good (I'm looking at you Dynamo Donuts).  The sort of places that put bacon on their donuts, just to be cool (not that I'm against bacon!).  Really, the only decent donuts that also are gimmicky that I've enjoyed came from  Fill 'R Up Gasto Garage in Los Angeles, with their made-to-order ridiculous filled and topped donuts.

Pyscho Donuts is one of those places that sounds way too trendy to be good.  Our admin brought in 4 boxes of donuts one day at our office.  I took one look at the boxes of donuts, and immediately made all kinds of assumptions.  I saw donuts topped with giant chunks of Oreo.  I saw Rice Krispies.  I saw Fruity Pebbles.  I saw bacon.  Sigh.  I read the names of the donuts, all crazy sounding, plays on mental illness.  I looked up the establishment, to find that they call the people who work in their shops "pyscho nurses".  Double sigh.

And then I tried one.  And another.

These are damn good donuts.  I am not going admit how many I had.  Woah.

I can't tell you anything about the donut shop, with locations in Campbell and San Jose.  But if you ever get a chance to try these, do it.  I tried about ... 12 different varieties, and honestly, enjoyed them all.  Yes, I tried at least 12, which sounds insane, I know.  But these were too awesome to not try as many as possible.  The fact that I didn't try all 30 or so is a testament to my willpower!

I skipped all the basic looking ones (not that any are really basic, but I skipped all the buttermilk bars, the ones that looked like they were just regular donuts with icing or glaze, and all the ones topped with cereals).  I focused on the crazy (pyscho?) looking ones.

After reading the Pyscho Donuts website, I have my eyes on a few more varieties I'd love to try, all the "premium" donuts that were not included in the offerings we had.  Perhaps I'll have to take a journey some day to Campbell, just for the donuts ...
Four Dozen Assorted Donuts. $22.95 / Dozen.
Like I said, I uh, tried a lot of these.  I did have only chunks of some of them, once others started bringing over knives to cut off portions.  But yes, I had ... a lot of full size donuts in the end.  Ooph.  I do it for you, dear readers?  (Well that is true, sometimes, who am I kidding?  I did this for me.  All for me!)

Fung Shui
"Green tea icing with dark choco chips and a hint of vanilla drizzle. Find your bittersweet balance!"

I started with this one, as it had green topping, and that just looked cool.  This was the bar shaped donut, bottom right of the front box.  I hadn't read the descriptions yet, so I had no idea what to expect.  Would it have filling?  Did the green taste like anything?  Who knew.

It was a standard raised donut, in bar form.  Light, fluffy, not too fried tasting.  Decent.  The matcha icing was fantastic, not too sweet, a little bit bitter, and the vanilla drizzle on top of that complimented it perfectly.  I loved the crunch from the tiny little chocolate chips.  Wow.  So far, so good.

[ Side note: I went back later in the day, and had another chunk of this variety.  Still quite good, my second favorite overall. ]

Vegan Donut
Inspired by the green, I went for the next green donut, the ring shaped green donut you see in the two boxes on the right hand side.  It didn't seem very interesting to me, had no real flavor, and I only learned later that it was the vegan selection.  It wasn't bad, but, it just wasn't very interesting.

Raspberry Road Rash
"Don’t fall off the donut wagon! This donut will bring you back from the skids with cheesecake icing and real raspberry dust!"

I continued my theme of being drawn in by colors.  I still hadn't read the descriptions of any of them yet.  This one had little unidentifiable red bits all over the top (top left corner round donut, front right box).  The bits were ... raspberry dust?  I think this was freeze dried raspberry?  Either way, tons of flavor, strange texture.  I didn't taste the cheesecake icing.  I wasn't really into this one.

Strawberry Fields
"Something to get hung about! Strawberry icing, freeze-dried strawberries & a Pocky stick. Deliciousness forever!"

Continuing on the red/pink theme, I went for the Strawberry Fields.  It is in the top box on the right, left hand side, behind the green donut.  This one was a square shape, glazed raised donut, not filled, with strawberry icing, bits of freeze dried strawberry, with a strawberry Pocky sticking out of it.  It was a looker, for sure.  Again, a good glazed raised donut, flavorful strawberry icing, and tasty bits of actually identifiable freeze dried strawberry.  The Pocky stick was perhaps a bit excessive.  Great for strawberry lovers.

Kooky Monster
"A customer favorite, topped with crushed Oreo cookies and blue drizzle. It will leave you all googly-eyed & wantin’ MORE !!"

Getting braver, I moved on to the Kooky Monster, topped with massive chunks of Oreo cookie (center, front box).  It was again a nice raised donut, but this one was definitely a sugar rush.  Sweet icing, massive chunks of Oreo.  Turns out, Oreo bits drizzled with even more icing are delicious.  Do they make icing glazed Oreos?  If not, they should.

"Death metal knocked this guy off his rocker! If raspberry jelly filling gives you a head rush, he's your head slammin’ trauma man!"

Ok, now I was ready to move on to filled donuts.  I didn't know what would be in any of them, but hey, I'm brave.  I went for the Headbanger, front box, second on the left.

It was a classic jelly donut, again, good raised donut as the base.  The jelly wasn't really my style, it was thick and gloopy.  The icing however I didn't care for ... it was just too much sweet.  I prefer my jelly donuts just dusted in sugar.  Also, perhaps I was just getting a bit sick of sweet donuts at this point.

This as the one in the top left box, 2nd donut up on the right.  I had no idea what it was, and it was not listed on the website either.  It looked like it was coated in cinnamon and sugar though, always a winning combination for me!

It turned out to be jelly filled, with the same jelly as the Headbanger that I didn't like.  I did like the cinnamon and sugar more than the icing though, but, this jelly just wasn't for me.

German Chocolate Cake
"A dark chocolate cake donut crowned with our house made caramel coconut concoction! Ich bin ein addicted!"

Eventually I moved on to a chocolate donut, the German Chocolate Cake.  I don't really like chocolate donuts, but, I do like coconut and caramel, so, I went for it.  This is the one on the bottom right corner of the top left box.

It was a standard chocolate cake donut, with a nice chocolate flavor, but not really my thing as expected.  The center was loaded with caramel and coconut, tasty, but, not as gooey as I'd like.  I think this was fine, just not the style that I prefer.

Suicide Squeeze
"Designed by our favorite little league team – The Psycho Donuts. They went all or nothing with Oreo dust and dark chocolate filling! "

I went for this last, just to try one that looked much different from the others.  This was the one in the top left box, second donut on the left.

It was also my hands down favorite.  The dark chocolate filling was incredible, basically, chocolate pudding.  Sweet, creamy, delicious.  The Oreo topping this one was actually crumbs, not giant chunks, and it combined great with the pudding.  It sorta reminded me of the Dirt Cake my mom used to make.  Really, chocolate pudding and oreo crumbs is just hard to resist.  So tasty.
Boston Scream Pie.
"A donut so good that it will make you scream! Skull adorned, choco frosted, and vanilla custard filling! You’ll come a-screamin’ back!"

Ok, I lied.  I obviously tried more donuts.  For Ojan, I grabbed the Boston Scream Pie, as Boston Cream is his favorite.  If you look closely, you'll see that there is a scull on this donut, sideways since I didn't realize it when I took the photo.

Oh, and I uh, took a bite before passing it off.  It was a decent donut, again, good raised donut, filled full of vanilla cream filling.  I appreciated how fully filled it was, so many places skimp on the filling.  The chocolate icing was as expected.

Good, but not my favorite donut.
Dead Elvis. $3.75.
"You’ll think you died on the throne! Cream filled, bananas, bacon, peanut butter and jelly. It’s a hunka hunka donut love!"

The final one I grabbed was because it just looked so insane.  I didn't know what it was, but I saw a raspberry swirl, I saw what looked like peanut butter topping, and slices of bacon.  It seemed like it would be filled too.  I was pretty sold into Pyscho Donuts at this point, so, why not go big?

Sadly, this one didn't quite live up.  The donut itself was good, a nice glazed raised donut.  I did like the peanut butter drizzle. The jelly drizzle however was just goo, but, it complimented the peanut butter well.  The bacon ... was soggy, and not crispy.  I liked that it had full strips though, the other bacon donuts on the menu only have bits or chunks.  Under the bacon was ... marshmallows, a bit odd, I think perhaps to hold the bacon off the donut itself?

Anyway, my real disappointment was the filling.  I expected peanut butter and/or jelly filling, and ... it was just cream filled, like Ojan's Boston Scream.  Doh.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bread & Cocoa

Bread & Cocoa is a cafe near Union Square.  They serve basic cafe fare such as soups, salads, sandwiches, espresso beverages, and some baked goods.  They try to provide a healthy option for shoppers in the area, and do make some of their baked goods in-house.  Reviews aren't great, but at one point they were listed on LevelUp, and I had some credits to burn, so I swung in.

Service was friendly enough, although the lines were confusing, seemingly for both patrons and the staff, as there were two registers, and no one really seemed to know who to serve next.  I tried two items, neither of which impressed.  I doubt I'll return ...
Orecchiette with Pesto Pasta Salad.  $4.75.
I read a lot of glowing reviews of Bread & Cocoa's chicken pesto sandwich, but I don't like chicken, or sandwiches really, so I wasn't actually interested in that.  But then I saw a pesto pasta salad, already packaged up, near the register.  Sometimes I can really like pesto, and pasta salad sounded perfect for the hot day.

The first container I picked up was really oily.  I'm glad I looked inside, the bottom was a huge pool of oil.  But the oil level was very inconsistent between the containers, and I found one that didn't have as much oil.

The one I picked also was much less full than the others, but since I didn't necessarily want a larger portion I was okay with that, although they really could work on the consistency here.

Also, even if it were full, $4.75 seems really pricey for such a small side dish.  This was most certainly a side, not an entree.
Inside the container.
Described as "orecchiette pasta cocked al dente, roasted red pepper, and black olives tossed in a rich pesto sauce".

I didn't like it.  The black olives were the same slices you can get in a can.  The red peppers were incredibly mushy.  And the pesto was the style of pesto that I don't like.

The only redeeming quality was the orecchiette, as it was actually cooked perfectly al dente, and was a great shape for holding in some pesto ... if I'd liked the pesto.

I certainly would not get it again, and can't believe the price for not only a small portion, but for something made with such low end ingredients.
Lavender Oatmeal Cookie.  $2.
Many of the baked goods at Bread & Cocoa come from other vendors, but they do bake the cookies in house.  I swung in one afternoon to get a drink, and decided a cookie to go with it would be a nice idea.  The other cookies all looked better, but had chocolate, which I was avoiding at the time, so I went for the interesting sounding lavender oatmeal cookie.

It wasn't the style of cookie I prefer, as the cookie was crisp, rather than soft.  It looked fluffy, so I thought it wouldn't be as crispy, but alas, crispy style.

The oatmeal base was good, and the lavender was a really interesting flavor (subtle, not too floral), but the style of the cookie made this not a winner for me.  I brought it home to Ojan, who also didn't want more than a single bite of it.

$2 for a fresh baked, large cookie seemed fine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Catering Aboard Air Berlin, PMI-ZHR

Remember when I went to Mallorca almost two years ago?  You read all about my impressive First Class flight from SFO to London on British Airways (including really delicious waffles for breakfast), and the less impressive afternoon tea service on my business class flight from London to Barcelona.  And you heard about the cocktails on the beach at Playero, the epic trek across town to Club de Golf Alcanada, and even Michelin star dining at Jardín.

But somehow I forgot to publish one dining experience: the food served aboard my flight leaving Mallorca, bound for a work conference in Zurich, aboard Air Berlin.

We flew economy, because that was the only option.  The food was ... interesting.  Perhaps I didn't find this noteworthy enough to publish before?
Cheese Sandwich.
We were served one meal.

I was given the option: "Cheese or meat”.  No further description.  I didn't even know I was picking between types of sandwiches, let alone what type of "meat" or cheese it would be.  I went for cheese, having no real idea what I was getting.

It was a sandwich.  Served in a bag.

Oh boy.  The bread was a dark roll, a bit soggy, not exactly fresh, but shockingly, not horrible.
Inside the cheese sandwich.
Inside was sliced cheese, as expected given the name.  But it also had a really interesting spread, which seemed to be mayo based, plus a plethora of crunchy veggies.  There were bits of red peppers, shredded carrots, and many others that I couldn’t identify, but also things like corn kernels.  A random mix, for sure.

I didn’t hate this.  Sure, the bread part was pretty awful, but the inside was kinda like a egg salad sandwich, just without the egg ... only the mayo and tasty bits.  I did actually quasi enjoy this.

Monday, January 11, 2016

North India Restaurant

This is a story of a very poor delivery experience.

First, you know I rarely order delivery.  I have too many issues with wanting my food hot and fresh, so I'm generally just not willing to order food that I know will be sub-par.  But sometimes, it makes sense to get delivery, and in those cases, my cuisine of choice is usually Indian.  Curries hold their heat decently well, and, if they do get cold, are easy to reheat without sacrificing quality too much.  Naan can be revived decently in the toaster oven.  Rice microwaves well.  So, if you stick to the basics, indian food can be an ideal fit for delivery.

One lazy Sunday, we ordered dinner from North India Restaurant, via  North India Restaurant is a fairly new place, located just a few blocks from my house.  I hadn't ever had the food before (not in person, nor delivery), but Yelp reviews seemed fairly positive, plus, its close proximity made me think the food had a chance of arriving hot.

Our order came at a time when Ojan had fairly strict requirements about when he ate (for health reasons), so I made the order in advance, at 3pm, for a 6pm scheduled delivery, to ensure it was there in time for dinner.  I was shocked to discover, at 5:30pm when I returned home, that the food had been dropped off sometime before 4pm, and just left sitting in my lobby.  Yes, it was obviously not hot at this point, and I could obviously heat it up, but I was concerned with food being  leftout for 2 hours at room temperature actually not being safe to eat.

So I called up and let them know what had happened, hoping they'd replace the order.  They put me on hold (for 15 minutes!) while they called the restaurant to figure out what was going on.  Finally I was told that they had pretty serious language barrier when speaking to the restaurant, but they *thought* that a new order would soon be delivered.  I was told that if nothing arrived by 6:30pm to call back, because she honestly wasn't certain that the communication had been clear, and a new order made.

Shortly after 6pm, a new order did appear.  And they threw in rice pudding as a bonus, presumably to make up for the mistake.

The food was ... mixed.  I'm still searching for good indian cuisine in this city, and, just like with Thai, I welcome any recommendations!
Our food came with two little containers of chutney, one was a basic tamarind and the other some sort of green chutney.

I was happy that the restaurant included these automatically.  The green chutney was fairly fresh tasting, loaded with herbs.  I liked having both to jazz up my food and dunk my naan in.
Garlic Naan: Naan studded with garlic & cilantro. $3.95.
The garlic naan came wrapped in foil, but was stone cold when it arrived, even the second time.  The restaurant is only a few blocks away!  They clearly didn't transport the food in a heat bag.

The naan was very thin.  I prefer a puffier naan, with some char, but Ojan said he liked this style.

We ordered garlic naan, but I honestly didn't taste any garlic.  It did have cilantro.

This was totally unremarkable, and $3.95 was actually a bit pricy for a small, thin naan, particularly when compared to other places.  I probably wouldn't get the naan again, although, since I don't like rice, I really do usually require naan for my indian meals.
Saag Paneer: Cubes of homemade cheese sautéed with spinach & spice. $11.95.
My pick of dishes was saag paneer, since I adore paneer, and wanted a dish with some veggies too.  I've been on a spinach kick lately, which, of all my random obsessions, seems like a pretty healthy one, but I'm sure it won't last.  Anyway, paneer and greens was exactly what I wanted.

As you can probably guess, it was also lukewarm, but I heated it back up easily in the microwave, which didn't seem to alter the texture of the paneer.

The dish was actually quite good.  The chunks of paneer were decently sized, and there were a reasonable number of them.  The paneer wasn't rubbery, and was quite moist.  Above average paneer.

The saag was fairly fresh tasting, not too oily, although it was clearly not a light dish, I'm sure it had plenty of cream in it.

The part that impressed me was the spicing; it had a bit of kick to it, and small chunks of tomato and onion for additional flavor.

This wasn't the best saag paneer I'd had, but it was pretty solid, better than most.  I'd get it again.

$11.95 is a bit high compared to other restaurants in the area, but it was a decent portion (2 people could easily split this).
Kashmiri Chicken: Clay Oven roasted chicken cooked in butter sauce with spinach. $13.95.
Ojan's favorite dish at indian restaurants is butter chicken.  The North India menu didn't have butter chicken, but it had something we thought was going to be similar to butter chicken: Kashmiri chicken.  The description said it was cooked in a butter sauce, but it said it also had spinach.  We weren't entirely sure what to expect.

However, we weren't expecting this.  In fact, I thought that both the containers were the same, and that we just got two saag paneer, until we dug in and found chicken in one.  I still somewhat think this was chicken saagwala, not kashmiri chicken,  as it honestly tasted exactly the same as my paneer dish, just with chunks of chicken instead.

Anyway, since I don't like chicken, I didn't try the meat itself, but Ojan (and my mom who was visiting) both thought the chicken was flavorful and good, except ... loaded with cartilage and tiny bones.  They both wound up with a pile of rubble on the side of their plates from the bits they would bite into and crunch down on.  They commented that one or two pieces showing up in the mix was one thing, but this really was a remarkable amount of cartilage, to the point where it turned them off, no matter how good the flavor was.

And again, price of $13.95 seemed a bit high.
Kheer: Traditional Indian rice pudding. $3.50.
I think to apologize for the food being delivered at the wrong time, they added kheer to our order.  Since I'm a dessert girl, and a pudding girl in particular, this was very welcome.  In fact, I'd almost ordered it myself, except that I had a freezer full of ice cream I was hoping to put a dent in that night.

Sadly, this was not good rice pudding.  Short grained rice, a bit too al dente.  Really runny.  There were strange dark bits that seemed burnt stirred in.  The flavor was rather bitter.

I really, really didn't like this, and didn't even bother take a third bite (of course I took two, just to be sure ...).  Clearly, would not get again.