Friday, April 01, 2016

Tyrrell's Old English Crisps

Short and sweet today.

I like snacks.  I like chips.  I travel.  I try random things in other countries.

At some point, I went to England.  I tried Tyrrell's "Old English Chips".  My American readers will know these as "chips".  Tyrell's also makes other packaged snack foods, like "nibbles" (rice crackers, coated peanuts, etc), tortilla chips, and "poshcorn" (popcorn!), but, the crisps are all I tried.

Old English Crisps

"We're Tyrrells of Tyrrells Court Farm and we make fine English crisps from local Herefordshire potatoes. We cook them by hand in small batches and we always leave the jackets on. Well, it's only polite."

Crisps are the primary product line, and they offer quite a few flavors, some more, uh, interesting than others.  Starting with basic sea salt and ranging to "lobster cocktail", with many stops in-between (black pepper, coronoation chicken, sweet chili and red pepper, Sunday best roast chicken ...).  I never found the more unique flavors, so sadly, I can't telll you what a Worchestershire Sauce and Sundried Tomato chip tastes like.
Veg Crisps.
"A colourful union of earthy beetroots, sweet carrots and that unsung hero of the Sunday roast: the parsnip – all made to sing with a pinch of sea salt.".

The veggie crisps were all in tiny chunks, not full size chips as I expected.  I had a hard time distinguishing the carrots from the parsnips.  All were very oily, but the veggie flavor was decent.
Mature Cheddar Cheese & Chives.
"Little in life is quite as glorious as the tangy hit of mature cheddar in concert with the wonderfully oniony twang of that most snippable of herbs, the chive."

These were good crispy chips, and came in assorted sizes and shapes.

The cheddar wasn't very strong ... not as strong as I expected from the "mature" name.  The chive flavor was decent.  I wanted them to be more like cheddar and sour cream chips.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cookies from Tout Sweet Patisserie

Do you remember, back in 2012, when Tout Sweet Patisserie opened in San Francisco, and I reviewed the macarons?  Or when I reviewed the cookies Yigit Pura (the pastry chef and owner) made at a cooking demo a few months later?  Or a year later, when I reviewed some assorted candies (including the best marshmallows I'd ever had?)  I intended to do a whole series on Tout Sweet, and totally forgot to publish the rest.  Oops!

So, fast forward a few years.  Tout Sweet is still there inside Macy's near Union Square.  Yigit is still around town, often showing up at cooking demos or charity events.  He is clearly a perfectionist, the master of subtleties of flavors and textures.  His creations are never too sweet, often balanced by tartness, bitterness, or saltiness.  For every creamy component, he has a crunchy counterbalance.

Today's I'm focusing on Tout Sweet cookies exclusively, not usually my dessert of choice, but, a staple for many of you.  And ... I'm pretty sure one of these is the first cookie I've ever declared awesome.
"Easter Cookie" ($4.00) and Vanilla Macaron ($1.85). 
The "Easter Cookie" was a walnut shortbread, with lemon icing.  It had a great buttery base, like any good shortbread.  The walnuts added some crunch and additional flavor.  The icing had a slightly lemon flavor to it.  Overall, very tasty, particularly for such a seemingly simple cookie!

The macaron was just a simple vanilla macaron.  Like all of the others I've tried, I thought the cookie wasn't that remarkable, but the filling had a nice vanilla bean flavor.  Overall better than most of the other macarons I've tried from Tout Sweet, but I still don't love them.

I win plating points for this one right?  They did not come stacked like this, but  I thought the macaron looked totally cute perched on top of the shortbread.

Price was a bit high for the shortbread, standard for the macaron.
The Naughty Peanut Cookie: Salted Peanuts, Corn Flakes, Marshmallow, Sea Salt.  $2.25.
Ok, this was kinda awesome.  It just had so many great things going on.  It sounds so simple, really, just corn flakes and peanuts held together with some marshmallow in a cookie base, right?

Imagine the love child of a peanut butter cookie and a rice crispie treat, uh, except where you ran out of rice crispies and used corn flakes instead, and then smushed it flat.  Ok, bad analogy.  It is unlike anything else you've ever had.  It is its own thing, and a delicious thing at that.

First, it was super crunchy.  Now, you may recall that I don't usually like crisp style cookies.  Nothing makes me sadder than chocolate chip, peanut butter, or sugar cookie that isn't a bit under done and ooey-gooey.  But for this type of cookie, it worked, and would have been really strange soft.  It was fun to eat because it was so crunchy, satisfying in the same way as eating potato chips.

Speaking of chips, the other reason they are addicting, besides the crunch, is ... the salt.  And this cookie had that going on too.  The peanuts were salted, and the whole thing was amped up on sea salt.  In the way that made you just want more and more.  You wanted more crunch, you want more salt, more more more!

Yet, it was also sweet, due to the marshmallow.  Salty and sweet. Crispy and crunchy.  Addicting.  This is a winner.

I'm also convinced this is a totally reasonable breakfast item.  Corn flakes? That is just cereal, check.  Peanuts?  Added protein, check!

Since my eyes were bigger than my stomach when I stopped in at Tout Sweet, I came home with far too many treats to consume in a single day.  So I had this cookie a day old (ok, of course I snuck a bite when it was fresh just to make sure it was good!), and it was still perfectly fine.  Next time you stop into Tout Sweet, I recommended getting an extra cookie, and having it for breakfast the next day ...

I also decided that these cookies would go really well with ice cream.  I'm really not sure what brought this thought on, as it was perfectly enjoyable on its own, but for some reason, it was just screaming "go get more of me and turn them into ice cream sandwiches!"  So, on my next visit, I stocked up on a few extra naughty peanut cookies.  I threw them into my freezer for safekeeping immediately.  One evening a few weeks later, when I was in "I need something to cheer me up" mood, I opened the freezer, saw the cookies, saw a pint of vanilla ice cream next to them, and I knew what to do.  About 20 seconds later I was eating a homemade ice cream sandwich, and it was amazing.  So I modify my recommendation further: next time you go to Tout Sweet, get an extra one for breakfast.  And then get a dozen more to stash in your freezer.  They keep totally fine and you can pull them out anytime.  Or for bonus points, stuff them with ice cream.

I've tried a zillion things from Tout Sweet at this point, and this was certainly a highlight.
Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt Cookies.
I attended an event at my apartment building with Tout Sweet cookies (and other treats, stay tuned for  reviews of those!)  To say I was pleased with their choice of sweets provided is an understatement.

The chocolate chunk cookie however was exactly the style of cookie that I don't care for - hard and crispy, although I could appreciate the generous amount of chocolate inside, along with the big disk on top of each.  The sea salt was the winning element, flecked on top.  Salt really does just enhance the flavors of everything, even sweet desserts, and Yigit has figured this out.
Italian Soda with Lemon-Orange Simple Syrup.
At the event, they were serving perrier waters, with lemon-orange simple syrup mixed in.  This was far tastier than the flavor syrups you normally find to mix in waters, and I really enjoyed it.
Tout Sweet Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Waffling Leftovers: Cheesy Grits

By now, you know the drill.  I love to take leftovers and stick them in my waffle iron, to varying levels of success.  

So far, I've told you about my ventures with Italian food main dishes (pizza, lasagna, etc) and with assorted casseroles (mac and cheese, tuna noodle, etc).  You can read about all my trials here.

Now, we move to side dishes, starting with cheesy grits.

Cheesy grits was an interesting one for me, because I adore cheesy grits ... when they are fresh.  But every time I've tried to save grits, I've never been able to really do them justice when re-heating the next day.  I've tried many techniques, on the stovetop with some extra milk added in, baked in the oven, etc, but, short of deep frying, nothing has really worked.

Until now.  It turns out, leftover grits waffle beautifully.  Will it waffle?  YES YES YES.  Grits, even more than pizza, are my biggest success story.

Before this experiment, even I, the girl who saves everything, felt that leftover polenta and grits were rarely worth saving.  I’ll never throw them out again. This was incredible, and I look forward to making it again.
Leftover Cheesy Grits.
Grits is probably the most simple thing I have tried to waffle.  I started with unattractive leftover cheesy grits, loaded up with butter, cream, burrata, and mascarpone. The grits were creamy and tasty enough originally, but leftover, it was just a solid blob.  It didn’t look very good.  Leftover grits never reheat very well, but I'm incapable of throwing things out.  I had no expectations this would work.

I didn’t bother crust the grits.  I didn’t bother add anything to them.  I just stuck a chunk in and walked away for a few minutes.  I mostly considered this a research experiment, and figured I'd likely even throw the results out.

I returned to find something that blew me away.
Waffled Grits: Success!
I declare this my biggest success so far.   Better than the pizza.  Better than the mac and cheese.  The transformation was incredible.

The outside was perfectly crispy, due to the high fat content I’m sure.  The best crust I've achieved so far.   Inside was gooey and moist.  The cheesy flavor was delicious.

I devoured the grits-waffle plain, but I think it would be tasty taken a sweet route and drizzled with some maple syrup.  Or turned into a breakfast with an egg on top.  Or even made savory with another kind of sauce.  But honestly, it was complete enough just plain, and I loved it.

Leftover Cheesy Grits #2.
A few months later, I took my own advice and saved more grits.   Yup, another lump of leftover, totally unappetizing, rock solid, cheesy grits.

I eagerly cut off a chunk and stuck it into the waffle iron.  Seriously, so easy.  Easiest item to waffle so far, no crusting required, really easy to just insert into the waffle iron as a solid mass.  The same is true once it cooks, I haven't ever had any issues with grits coming apart.  So, as unappealing as they look, the clumpy mass really does work well for waffling.
Waffled Cheesy Grits Success #2.
And again, the cheesy grits waffled like a charm.  I did leave them in a bit too long (or, perhaps 350 degrees was a bit too hot), as the outside got a bit darker than I would have wanted ideally.

But, besides that error on my part, this was fantastic.  Super crusty outside for a great crunch and structural integrity, yet moist and fluffy inside.  Easy-peasy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bread and Circus Wholefoods Canteen, Sydney

Sydney has an amazing cafe culture, particularly places that serve brunch.  This is one of my favorite aspects of Sydney (well, besides the weather, the beaches, the thai food, the tropical fruit, the friendly people ... Ok, I love a lot of things about Sydney!), but, the amazing cafes are certainly a big draw for me.  That, and the fact that brunch is often my favorite meal, generally an excuse to eat desserts and call it a "meal".

On my recent visit, we took a walk even further outside the CBD than normal, to Alexandria, to a cafe I had read about somewhere called Bread and Circus.  They serve breakfast until 12 on weekdays, and all day on weekends (along with daily lunch after 12pm).  The lunch offerings are actually fairly unique, "boxes" of assemble-your-own-sandwiches, with the sliced bread and other ingredients in a box, even if you are dining in.  An interesting concept I guess, but, we weren't there for lunch, you know me, I'm all about breakfast and brunch!

Our group of 6 arrived at 11am on a Sunday, and joined the orderly queue lined up inside.  We were seated within about 10 minutes, so it wasn't much of a wait.  The place is clearly very popular, as it was bustling the whole time we were there.

Service was ... well, awful.  We were constantly asking for things as nothing was ever provided and getting any attention took considerable effort.  One of our dining companions was a local, and he said that this is normal for the area, that cafes are under-staffed and staff just can't take time to pay attention to tables.  This certainly seemed true, as our server seemed busy not lazy, just, never able to give us any time.

The food was ... mediocre-poor.  Many things were missing from our dishes, but, we didn't bother try to get these issues resolved, as we couldn't get any service anyway.  Needless to say ... I won't be returning.

The Setting

Front Register.
Bread & Circus is located in one large interior area alongside a Campos cafe, and the two spaces are just divided by little quasi-walls they put up.  On the Bread & Circus side, the walls are ... pink, and decorated with lots of plants.  It all felt busy and cluttered to me.

The register to pay at was along this front pink divider.
Barista Station.
On one side is a barista, and next to that, an extensive juicing station.   These were very busy stations.  Drinks were served in cute pink mugs.  Noticing a theme?

The barista area also had more plants, and some random vegetables on the counter.

Pink: check.  Clutter: check.
The main kitchen is open in the middle, but hidden behind more plants, random vegetables, and fruits.  We couldn't really see much action in the kitchen.
Booths, Water Station.
Booths were all brightly colored.  The water station had a sign saying that it was reverse osmosis filtered water, which seemed funny, as only the servers ever filled up water jugs, and I'm sure most patrons never saw this.
On the table was a (pink) bucket with spoons, forks, and knives so we could serve our own cutlery, tabasco (red and green), pepper, salt, and a bowl of spiced brown sugar.  Warning: if you want any other sort of sugar/sweetener, please bring your own, this is all they have available.
Plates & Bowls.
Guess what color the plates were?  Yup, pastel pink.  The pinks really got a bit too cutesy for me.


The drink menu is even larger than the food menu, one huge page, double sided.  They have all the expected coffee drinks, including the ever trendy "Liquid Lama" with coffee blended with butter and coconut oil.  They also offer a huge number of cold pressed juices, blends, and smoothies.  One whole side of the drink menu is a tea menu, both hot and cold (nit: they listed the rooibos under black tea!)

Our group ordered an assortment of drinks, many of them juices, which I had to stay away from due to watermelon at that station.
Pimms without Pimms. $6.
"Preservative-free ginger beer poured over slices of cucumber lime and seasonal fruit w/ fresh mint."

Ojan went for this drink, and it really was impressive.  Slices of lime, slices of cucumber, slices of pears, halves of strawberry, and mint leaves were all inside.  Oh, and there was a little spoon made of ice!

It not only looked good, it was good.  It was refreshing and had a great ginger flavor.  Ojan loved it, and said it was the best part of the meal.  I agree.  The slices of fruit and cucumber were a bit funny though, but, it gave him something to munch on during the rather long wait for food.
Decaf Iced Long Black. $3.50.
I just wanted coffee, but since it was 90+ degrees out, I wanted it iced.  They had regular iced coffee available, but, not decaf, so I went for a decaf iced long black (basically, an americano, just with the shot poured in after the water).  It came in a regular glass, with exactly 3 ice cubes, all of which promptly melted.

The coffee wasn't great, and I needed more ice.  Luckily, one of my dining companions had asked for ice about 10 minutes earlier, and it came about 5 minutes later (it only takes 15 minutes to get ice here!), so I was able to add some to my coffee.

The others got juice blends, but, since they went for ones containing watermelon, I stayed far away.


Since we were there before noon, only the breakfast menu was available, but that is what I wanted anyway.  I had my eyes on the ricotta pancakes, as I'm still looking for somewhere to replace Bills, since I haven't enjoyed it the last few times I was in Sydney.  I also wanted the fancy sounding porridge (they do porridge so well in Sydney!).  And I heard great things about the scrambled eggs.  Oh, and it was my last day in Sydney, and I realized I hadn't had halloumi yet, so I wanted that too.

I was having a hard time deciding what to order, so I asked if folks wanted to share, and, luckily for me, they did.  Thus, I ordered everything I wanted ... "for the group".
Foxy Spring Porridge. $15.
"Pre-soaked and whisked organic rolled oats, w/ caramelized banana, toasted coconut, blueberry, pistachio and mint drizzled with agave, a dollop of organic clotted cream."

So, that porridge.  A hot bowl of porridge is a rather strange thing to get when it is 90 degrees, which we realized once we had ordered, but, there weren't actually many items that weren't hot.  Some chilled overnight oats sure sounded better at that point though ...

Anyway, the porridge was a huge disappointment.  It really was just a big bowl of really, really mushy oatmeal.  The oats had no flavor at all.  There were generous toppings though, including the toasted coconut, some blueberries, a ton of caramelized banana, pistachios, and springs of mint.

I did like the caramelized banana, they did a nice job creating a crispy candy top, but everything else fell a bit flat.  I appreciated the crunch from the pistachios and coconut.  We all thought the porridge was really bland, and Ojan resorted to mixing in some of the brown sugar from the table to give it some sweetness.  Where was that agave from the description anyway?  Oh, and speaking of where are things, um ... where was the clotted cream?  Clearly, one major reason I ordered this was for the cream!

I tried to get a server's attention for a good 10 minutes, and finally gave up, as it was too late to ask for clotted cream at that point.

Anyway, this was really not good, my least favorite dish.
Caramelised lemony banana pancakes. $19.
"Banana, ricotta and biodynamic egg flourless pancake w/maple syrup, lemon compound butter, caramelised banana and strawberry."

Next we had the pancakes.  When I think of banana ricotta pancakes, I think of Bills, and, the last few times I went to Bills I didn't love it, so I was hoping these would be great and be my replacement.  They were not.  They were far worse.

The pancakes were thin, and not at all light and fluffy like a ricotta pancake should be.  I'm not actually sure they had ricotta in them.  They also just tasted ... healthy.  I didn't like the pancake at all.

The strawberry on the side was just strawberry.  The banana was nicely caramelized, like in the porridge.  The ricotta on the side was ... ricotta.  Not sweetened nor flavored in any way.  Syrup was syrup.

Where was the lemon compound butter from the menu description?  No where.  No plain butter either.  No lemon element whatsoever.  "lemony banana pancakes", eh?  Sigh.

So another dish that was just ... boring.  The pancakes weren't good, and although I like ricotta and I liked the brulee banana, they didn't really go together very well, and I had no real desire to eat this dish either.  I drizzled some maple syrup over the ricotta, and ate the slightly sweetened ricotta with strawberries, but, alas, not a winner.  And ... $19?

I wouldn't get it again, but, I guess it was my second to least favorite, as the sides were marginally better than the porridge.
Parmesan not-so-scrambled eggs, chilli version. $20.
"Biodynamic eggs w/ fresh chilli [or] real truffle oil, under shaved parmesan w/ avocado, baby spinach, tomato, fresh herbs and sourdough."

One of my tablemates really wanted eggs, so we got the scrambled eggs.  Since Ojan hates truffle, we went for the chilli version.

The eggs were actually good, soft, fluffy, and really did have some kick from the chilli. We didn't detect much parmesan though.

I didn't try the avocado since I'm allergic, the toast since I hate sourdough, or the tomato slices or spinach, so, I don't have much to say about this dish, besides the fact that the eggs were the only thing that I ate that was actually good.  Uh, my favorite dish?  Surprise, given that I don't generally care for eggs.
Grilled haloumi. $6.
We also opted for a side of simple grilled haloumi, 3 slices.

The haloumi was grilled, not too squeaky, a bit salty naturally, but not seasoned in any additional way.  It was fine I guess, but I prefer more of a char, or at least some seasoning.  Second pick of the meal, but I wouldn't get it again.
Morning Jumble, small. $15.
"Very brilliant bircher or crunchy granola w/ a selection of fresh, seasonal fruit and biodynamic yoghurt and a drizzle of agave syrup."

As we sat waiting, and waiting, and waiting for our food, we saw basically every other table ordering plates that had tons of fresh fruit on them, along with bowls with something in them.  I saw passionfruit, dragonfruit, figs, and more.  We looked at the menu, and saw two items that sounded like fruit and yogurt.  The first was the fruit plate: "seasonal fresh fruit w/ biodynamic yoghurt and a drizzle of agave syrup".  The second was the super bowl: "biodynamic yoghurt w/ strawberry, stone fruit, kiwi,  passionfruit, banana, blueberry, toasted coconut,  fresh mint and maple syrup."  These sounded very similar, both with yogurt, both with fruit, just one had agave and one had maple syrup, and one specified which fruit it was?  The fruit looked good though, so we wanted to add this on to our order.

We asked another server what the dish was that he brought to the table next to us, loaded with fruit.  "Is that the fruit plate or the super bowl?", we asked.  The answer?  Neither.  It was the third nearly identical menu item, the "morning jumble", the same fruit and yogurt and agave, but with granola too.  Since I like granola, this sounded better to me, so we went for it.

This dish is also available with bircher muesli instead, which I obviously would have ordered in a heart beat, but, sadly, they were out of bircher muesli already by 11am!

The yogurt was in a little bowl, just plain yogurt, tart, topped with pomegranate seeds.   Meh.

We had one half a passionfruit, it was dried out.  The two cherries were decent.  A few slices of fig were ok.  The grapes, with pits, had very bitter skins.  The three slices of dragonfruit were watery and flavorless.  The nectarine slices were fine.  And then, a lot of mint.  The fruit was fine, but, certainly it looked better than it actually tasted.

The granola was loaded with nuts, seeds, and tons of hard-as-rocks raisins.  I hate it when granola is like this.

And, like the other dishes, we didn't taste any agave.

Very mediocre, middle pick of the meal for me.
Bread & Circus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 28, 2016

McDonald's, Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris

Yes, I went to McDonald's.  In Paris of all places.  Before you judge, let me explain a bit.

When I travel, I use it as my "excuse" to eat at McDonald's, a place I never go in "normal" life.  This habit no doubt started while traveling in the US, where McDonald's can be the only safe option when in the middle of nowhere.  I can't say I've loved my more recent McDonald's meal experiences nor my beverages from McCafe, but ... in France, McDonald's is very different.  I was very curious to try it out.

To be fair, I  did not choose to go to McDonald's in the city itself.  There are just far too many amazing bakeries and restaurants in Paris.  No matter how curious I was about french McDonald's, there is no way I'd sacrifice a meal slot when in the city.

But, I stayed overnight at the Sheraton located inside Charles de Gaulle Airport so I could catch an early morning flight, and, I needed dinner.  My options were your typical airport fare.  Including ... french McDonald's!

I did a little bit of research, and learned that McDonald's in France is really different than in the US.  For starters, due to French regulations, the beef is all grass fed, non-hormone treated.  Chicken isn't rinsed with chlorine. They also have menu items completely unique to France, and people seem to love them.

But really, the appeal for me is the sauces.  I love sauces in general, and the French certainly know their sauces, and I was curious how that would translate into McDonald's.  Ojan was also sad that we never got croque monsieurs during our time France, so, here was our chance (yes, McDonald's in France has croque monsieurs!).

So I went, excited to order entirely different things, and see if higher quality proteins and fancy new sauces could make a difference.  Overall ... it was McDonald's, but both Ojan and I were really glad we went.  The sauces were sadly the weakest part of the meal, but I really liked the Croque McDo, and the dessert turned out to be fun at least.
Ordering Station.
Ordering was also entirely different, which I appreciated given my non-French speaking ways.

All ordering is done via touch screen terminals (or in advance from your computer, or online on your mobile.)  If you order from your phone or website, you just scan the QR code when you get there to get them started on making your meal.  So futuristic!

The menu was fairly amazing.  I knew I wanted the sauces, and Ojan wanted the McDo, but I was also drawn in by all the McCafe offerings, far better than in the US.  This McDonald's had macarons!  And tiramisu!  And donuts!  And speculoos McFlurries!

I selected a frozen dessert item, and was given the option to "pick up later", rather than with my meal, a great touch.  Ojan had just started to say, "Don't you want to order that later?  It will melt while you are eating the other food", when it presented the option.  Good job McDonald's!  Of course, I had no idea how that would work later, but I figured I would cross that bridge later (the answer: just bring up your receipt, clearly marked with a "Pick up later" item, and they handle it then).

It took us a while to order because we wanted to explore the whole menu, but finally we finished, and our order was delivered to "the kitchen".
Front Counter.
The front counter looked so strange with no regular registers, since everyone orders from the devices.  Instead of menus, the boards show the progress of the orders, showing the pending queue, and the ones currently being worked on

Staff were fast and efficient, as you'd expect.  Once ready, a human does call out the number and hand over the tray.
When we went, we intended this to be just a little snack before heading back to the hotel where we had executive club access and a bunch of other food still waiting for us that we had picked up earlier in the day.  But ... we wanted all the things!

Drinks were only 1€.  I opted for a sparkling water, Ojan went for Orange Fanta.  Nothing particularly novel here, besides the cheapest sparkling water I've ever encountered.
La Boîte à Partager. (Share Box). 10.90€.
"9 Cheese Balls (spécialités panées rondes à base de fromage), 6 Chicken McNuggets™ (spécialités panées au poulet), 3 Chicken Sticks (spécialités panées au poulet)."

Yeah, ok, this one was my doing.  I had my eyes on the Boîte à Partager.  Sure, I had no idea what was inside of it (translations were not available).  The photo looked like a pile of fried food, including nuggets.  Ojan wanted nuggets, and this way, I figured we could try more things.

It turned out to be nuggets, plus chicken strips, and ... fried cheese balls.

Our box was supposed to have 9 cheese balls, but we had 12.  Neither of us liked them.  Very thick, very fried crust, unremarkable, chewy cheese inside.  Plus, no dipping sauces made sense with this, they had nothing like a marinara.  Strike one.

Next, the nuggets.  We had 6 as we were supposed to.  I didn't try them, but Ojan was quite happy with his nuggets, but these are no different from in the US, sans the lack of chlorine I suppose.

Then, the chicken strips, similar to Chicken Selects in the US.  I tried one, and well, the chicken was better than expected.  White meat, not mystery chicken stuff.

But the real appeal of this box to me, besides trying random stuff, is that it came with ... 4 sauces!
The Sauces! (included with Boîte à Partager.)
The box had 4 sauces included, and we could pick whichever 4 we wanted.  Unfortunately, some of the more interesting sauces (cajun and sweet cranberry) were not available.  We opted for: Sauce Classic Barbecue, Sauce Classic Curry, La Sauce Chinoise, and Classic Moutard.

  • Sauce Classic Barbecue: This was just basic barbecue sauce, not interesting.
  • Sauce Classic Curry: Very strong curry flavor, not something I ever like.  If you like curry with potatoes though I could see this being good with the wedges?
  • La Sauce Chinoise (Chinese Sauce):  This one was fascinating.  Not really sweet and sour sauce.  Sorta like an orange chicken sauce.  Or plum sauce.  Asian inspired, but very sweet.  Interesting, but such a strange consistency, not actually very good.
  • Classic Moutard: Mustard.  Stronger flavor than what we have in the US, but not particularly interesting.

Overall, none were as exciting as I was hoping they would be.
Potatoes Moyen (Deluxe Potatoes) with Deluxe Sauce, Medium. 2.80€
"Quartiers de pommes de terre avec leur peau, épicés, frits."

McDonald's in France still has regular fries, but we opted for the more interesting option: wedges!

They looked decent, but really weren't very good.  I missed McDonald's fries immediately.  The wedges were thick, they were seasoned, but certainly didn't seem very fresh.  They reminded me of the frozen oven wedges my family always made when I was growing up.

I cheered with glee when I discovered a few regular fries mixed into our bag.  They were standard thin fries, and I loved them, mostly due to the surprise.  Bonus fries!

At french McDonald's, regular fries are served with a special fries sauce (mayo/mustard blend), but the wedges, a "deluxe" item, come with ... "deluxe sauce".  It seemed to be mayo with chives?  Or bits of pickle perhaps?  Not as flavorful as I was hoping.

Overall, I did not like anything here.  Wedges are available only in Medium or Large, no small option.  The other sides available were standard fries, or ... cherry tomatoes.  This must be a French thing, like the cherry tomatoes we were brought at a restaurant a few days prior as a starter too?
Croque McDo.  2.60€.
"Pain spécial, fromage fondu, jambon"

And finally, the croque, known as the "Croque McDo" (they call McDonald's "McDo" there).

I actually liked it.  Was it an awesome croque monsieur?  Obviously not.  But it was really different, and I ended up finishing the whole thing, much to my surprise.

That is not to say that it *looked* particularly good.  It was thin like a pancake.

The bread was thin slices of white bread, it sorta seemed like cross sections of standard hamburger buns?  It was toasted seeming, but likely just pressed on the cooktop?

Inside was a slice of round ham, with a slice of cheese on each side.  The ham was better than expected, but just ham.  The cheese however was rather awesome.  It was ... perfectly melted.  Not a single bite was left unmelted.  I wish I took an interior shot so you could see it in all its glory.  I think it might have been ... swiss?  Honestly, it tasted like American, but I'm sure that isn't what it was.

I know this doesn't sound great.  A pancake-thin-hamburger-bun-pressed-sandwich-with-generic-cheese-and-ham?  Yes.  BUT I LIKED IT.

It reminded me of the grilled cheese sandwiches my father used to make for us when my mom was at work, simple white bread, simple cheese, pressed down flat.  Comfort food for me.

Honestly, if I were back in France and looking for something reliable, I would actually get one again (although I'd try to leave out the ham, if they allow customization through the ordering system).  Yup, tasty, glorified grilled cheese.
Marshmallow Frappe. 2€.
The dessert line up really caught my attention.  I almost went for the speculoos McFlurry with caramel sauce.  Or one of the pastries from the McCafe.  But, just as I was making my final decision, I clicked on the Frappe section just to take a look.  I didn't expect to care, but the flavors were interesting.  Dulce de leche, marshmallow ...  A marshmallow frappe?  Uh, sure?

The consistency was actually great.  Like soft serve ice cream, slightly runnier.  Easy to suck up with a straw, but thick enough that you could dip a spoon in it.  Really quite good.

The flavor did indeed taste like a marshmallow, super sweet.  It was easy to gulp down the first half, but then I quickly got very sick of it.  It was way too sweet.  I should have stopped then, but I drank more, very quickly, and felt kinda bad afterward.

Also, uh why was it ... pinkish?

I'm glad I tried it though, and I think the flavor was fun.  Plus, the 2€ price was great.