Friday, October 07, 2016

Manomasa snacks

I'm not a tortilla chip person, but, I was visiting my office in Munich, and wanted a salty, crispy snack, and what they had was Manomasa tortilla chips.  The idea is to combine tortillas with the toppings you'd like to see on them, made into one easily portable format.  My spanish skilz tell me that "manomasa" means "hand corn", but they have dubbed them, "tortillas with spirit."

Manomasa is a British company, but, I tried their snacks while in Munich, so I guess they are distributed outside of England too.

They make some interesting flavors, like "manchego and green olive" or "green lemon and pink peppercorn", although those were not offered at my office.  The chips I had were very flavorful, but, still tortilla chips, not really my snack of choice.
White Cheddar.
"RECIPE No. 51 The SUPER SCOOP with creamy Cheddar cheese and CILANTRO. A rich WHITE CORN chip liberally scattered with GOLDEN LINSEEDS."

The first flavor I went for was white cheddar, since I was hoping it would kinda remind me of white cheddar popcorn or cheesy puffs.  These were oval shaped.

The white cheddar coating did indeed remind of me powdered white cheddar cheese, as, well, that is what it was.  I liked the cheese and the chips were well coated.

But, at the core, these were still tortilla corn chips, and I just wasn't excited by them.
Chipotle & Lime.
"RECIPE No. 24 The TOTOPO with smoky chipotle chilli & zingy lime with RED BELL PEPPERS, GUAJILLO chilli & TOMATO PUMPKIN SEEDS."

Next I tried the Chipotle & Lime.  These were triangle shaped.

They were super zesty, the chilis and red bell peppers added some zing.  But, again, just tortilla chips.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Mövenpick Ice Cream

Update Review

When I was in Zurich a few years ago, my office had an ice cream freezer stocked with Mövenpick ice cream.  I thought it was great.

So, this year, when I visited my Munich office and saw Mövenpick in their ice cream freezer, I had high hopes.  The ice cream novelties I tried lived up, the froyo ... not so much.


Froyo is a new offering from Mövenpick.  All flavors are varieties of plain, tart frozen yogurt.  The most basic flavor is called "crispy", with strawberry and raspberry muesli on top in a separate container to mix in.  Kicking it up a notch is the "Exotic Fruit" flavor that I went for, that has exotic fruit sauce in the mix, and granola on top.  The final version is "Red Fruit Cookie", with a red fruit sauce, and little cookies to mix in.
Exotic Fruit Froyo.
I opted for the "Exotic Fruit", as it sounded most interesting.

It was ... ok.  The frozen yogurt was tart and not creamy, fairly icy, and nothing like the soft serve swirl depicted on the carton.

The exotic fruit sauce (passion fruit and mango?) was a little bit swirled on top.  It was fairly sour and a bit sweet.  There wasn't much of it.

On top was the little container of muesli. The little bits of dried fruit made it interesting, and I liked having crunch to mix in, but, this wasn't very good.

Ice Cream

Maple Walnuts Cone.
"Ein Waffel-Milcheis mit Ahornsirup, karamellisierten Walnüssen und einer mit Rum aromatisierten Kakaocreme."

That explains it right?

I didn't really care that I didn't know what this was, since I know Mövenpick makes good ice cream, and that was really all I cared about.

Plus, the English on it did say "Maple Walnuts", so, I expected it to have maple, and, well, walnuts, both things that sounded good to me.
Maple Walnuts Cone.
So, my cone.

On top was a drizzle of chocolate sauce, solid, crisp, tasty.

I think I expected maple walnut ice cream, but, instead, it seemed to just be vanilla (or possibly maple I guess, but, I didn't really taste maple at all).  The ice cream however was fantastic.  Slightly fluffy, creamy, really good stuff for a packaged product.

On top was caramelized walnuts, which, for some reason, I really didn't like.  I like walnuts, and I wanted them for crunch, but, they just really didn't do it for me.  They almost tasted bitter?

The cone was also notable.  It was the first packaged cone I've ever seen that looks like a handmade waffle cone.  That is, it isn't flat on top, instead, it has a seam and goes down into a triangle shape.  I should have taken a photo when I realized it.  Did it make the cone taste like a fresh waffle cone?  Obviously not, but, it really did make it look "fancier".

Overall, this ice cream was great, and I liked the chocolate sauce, but, alas, the walnuts didn't do it for me.  It restored my confidence in Mövenpick ice cream though, after the froyo.
Signature Chocolate Chips.
"Unsere beliebte Eiskreation umhüllt von zartschmelzender Milchschokolade."

This was fantastic!

Chocolate ice cream, studded with dark chocolate chunks, coated in chocolate shell.

The ice cream was very creamy and fluffy, the chocolate chunks added a deeper chocolate flavor, and the shell snapped nicely.  Overall, really tasty.

Original Review, May 2014

On my recent trip to Zurich I made a wonderful discovery: my office there has ice cream freezers everywhere.  Since I love ice cream, this was both awesome, and totally dangerous.  I'm sure the novelty of the ice cream freezers would wear off after a while, but I was only there for a few days, and I can assure you, I became very familiar with the locations of the ice cream freezers throughout the office.  The highlight was the Mövenpick ice cream, stocked in little tubs.

Mövenpick is a Swiss brand of ice cream, started in Zurich, originally just sold at a restaurant.  As the restaurant chain expanded, so did their ice cream production, although it remained manufactured only for the restaurants for a while.  Now it is commercially produced, owned by Nestlé, and distributed many places, although not available in the US.

They made 3 different ice cream lines: Classics, Delicés de Fruit, and Harmony.  The flavors I tried were all from the Classics line.

Every flavor I tried was insanely fluffy, yet rich, and very creamy.  The ice cream was best if allowed to melt for about 10 minutes after removing it from the freezer, as it got perfectly soft and melty.  Really, quite decent ice cream.  The individual little containers came with a classic plastic gelato spoon hidden in the lids.  While I sometimes get grumpy with these little spoons, they worked well here, allowing me to savor my ice cream, and the container size was just right, plenty to feel satisfied, but not a monstrous portion.

If I'm ever in a country with Mövenpick again, I'll certainly try more flavors.
Maple Walnut.
"Genuine Canadian maple syrup is the keynote ingredient in this very famous Mövenpick recipe– as flavour for the Swiss ice cream at its heart and flavour for the maple-syrup ripple. Caramelised walnuts add sweetness and crunch, their crispness maintained in a fashion that only a master ice-cream maker can achieve"

The ice cream base was very smooth and creamy, but tasted more like caramel to me than maple.  Many of their other flavors are caramel based, so I was surprised to have the maple taste so caramely, since this was supposed to be different.  It was ok, but I was really looking for a stronger maple flavor.
Maybe I'm just a snob that preferrers real Vermont maple syrup over Canadian :)
Double Crème de la Gruyère & Meringues.
Next, I tried the Double Crème de la Gruyère & Meringues.

Now, to step back a moment, I'll admit, I picked this up because it sounded crazy.  In my world, Gruyère is a cheese.  So I thought this was going to be cheesy ice cream.  Which sounded fascinating on its own, but then combined with meringues?  Crazypants.

Of course, I wanted to wait 10 minutes for it to get melty, during which time I read the rest of the package, once I could find the English description.

"An ice cream made with the famous Swiss double cream, sourced from a traditional producer of the dairy Gruyère region. A caramel coulis adds a sweet note of contrast, and fragments of meringues add a satisfying crunch."

Doh.  Gruyère is a region, and not just a cheese?  So uh, this was just going to be very creamy ice cream with meringues?  Far less exciting.
Double Crème de la Gruyère & Meringues - inside.
In the end, I'm glad I was mistaken, because otherwise, I would have never discovered this ice cream.  It was, hands down, my favorite of the Mövenpick flavors that I tried.

The ice cream was even more insanely smooth and creamy that the previous.  Incredibly rich from the double cream.  Yet somehow magically light and fluffy.  I have no idea how they achieved this consistency.  I love it.

Like many of their flavors, there was a caramel component, a sweet swirl throughout.  And tiny little bits of meringue, which, while not super exciting, did add a crunch, which was fun.

I'd gladly eat more of this one, and I was a bit sad when I reached the bottom.  Turns out, Gruyère makes more delicious things than just cheese.
And finally, I went for a classic, Stracciatella.

"Pure Swiss cream is the base for this exceptional rendering of panna ice cream, flattered by a generous scattering of finest dark-chocolate pieces."

I feel like a broken record here, but it was again insanely smooth and creamy.

Stracciatella is a pretty basic flavor, but this was done well.  I really liked the flecks of quality chocolate throughout.  My second favorite of the flavors I'd try, and I'd gladly eat it again.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Ben & Jerry's: The Europe Edition

Update Review, 2016

It has been a few years since I have reviewed the offerings of European Ben & Jerry's, which, as you may recall, are different (and, I think generally, better), than their US counterparts.

This selection comes from my visit to Munich, another Google office with an ice cream freezer.  I was delighted to find a very well stocked ice cream freezer.  Many of the options were more unique to me than Ben & Jerry's (like Mövenpick!), but, I couldn't resist getting a chance to try Cinnamon Buns, as I'd been eyeing it for quite a while.
Cinnamon Buns (2016).
"Caramel Ice Cream with a Cinnamon Swirl & Chunks of Cinnamon Bun Dough."

Cinnamon Buns basically sounded amazing.  I love cinnamon rolls, and in particular, I love the cinnamon swirl goo inside of them.  And I like cookie dough ice cream.  So, this was like cookie dough ice cream (but with cinnamon bun dough!), with the cinnamon sugar swirl I love from cinnamon buns.  Very promising.

To make it even more awesome, Ben and Jerry's also swaps out the vanilla base I was expecting for a caramel ice cream.  That was a slightly strange choice to me since I never think caramel when I think "cinnamon buns", but, caramel is sweet, so, why not?  Maybe "icing ice cream" would be too much?

Anyway, the ice cream base was standard Ben & Jerry's, creamy, sweet, good.  It melted very nicely.

Swirled in was the promised cinnamon swirl, just as I expected, it was basically like pockets of cinnamon roll filling, you know, like the center of the cinnamon roll that you always dig for.  I greatly enjoyed digging for it in here.

The cinnamon bun dough chunks were ok, basically just like cookie dough, perhaps a bit cinnamon flavored.

This was very standard Ben & Jerry's: a well thought out flavor, all components worked well together, and it had just the right balance of cinnamon swirl and big cinnamon bun dough chunks.  They need to figure out how to work the icing into it though ...
Caramel Chew Chew.
"Caramel Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl and Chocolatey Covered Caramel Chunks."

Another solid pick.  The ice cream was standard, rich, creamy Ben & Jerry's, and it melted quite nicely.  As always, you want to give this a bit of time to get melty, Ben & Jerry's always freezes quite hard.

I loved the caramel flavor in the ice cream.  The caramel swirls added a bit more caramel, but, I was a bit disappointed by how few caramel swirls there were.  I expect a better distribution from Ben & Jerry's!

I wasn't really into the chocolate covered caramel chunks, they were basically like Rolos.

Overall though, I still enjoyed it, because the base ice cream was good.

Original Review, June 2014

As you know, I've been traveling a bit lately.  Last week, for ice cream review day, I reviewed the rather unimpressive Heartbrand ice creams, and the week before I exalted my praises for Mövenpick, both of which I found in Zurich.  The other brand of ice cream I found in the ice cream freezers in my Zurich office was a familiar one: Ben & Jerry's.

I initially didn't try the Ben & Jerry's selections, as I was far too excited to try out all the offerings from Heartbrand and Mövenpick, since they were totally unfamiliar to me.  But, after a few days of stuffing myself full of the other choices, I finally looked more closely at the Ben & Jerry's, and realized that the flavors were not the ones that I was accustomed to.  Did you know that in Europe, the flavors of Ben & Jerry's available are ... different?  They still carry flavors that have been discontinued in the US.  And, they have flavors that we never have had!

Thus, I had to try them.  New flavors!  Sure, it meant averaging 4-5 ice creams a day (a hardship, I know).  Further, since they are actually manufactured in the UK, I thought that maybe they'd have a different taste, due to the different cows.  So I justified my totally ridiculous ice cream consumption to myself, for you my dear readers.  All in the name of research :)

To be honest, I'm not a huge Ben & Jerry's fan.  I find the flavors pretty hit or miss.  But I still have a lot of nostalgia for Ben & Jerry's, as it was the premium offering of my childhood.  For context, you can read my reviews of the US flavors here.
Fairly Nuts Ice Cream.
"Caramel ice cream with praline almond clusters and caramel swirls".

How do you define "fairly"? The dictionary says "to a high degree".  Thus, I expected "fairly nuts" to contain, well, a high degree of nuts.  This was not "fairly nuts".  There were literally only 2 of the praline almond clusters in my entire cup of ice cream.  I did like the candied nuts, but, 2 in an entire cup?  Not nearly sufficient, and Ben & Jerry's is usually pretty good about loading up their ice cream with goodies.

As for the rest of it, the ice cream base was unremarkable.  I guess it was caramel flavored, but, I just tasted nondescript sweetness.  The caramel swirl was nice, but again, just tasted like sweetness, it didn't have the butteriness that caramel should.

This is one of my least favorite flavors of Ben & Jerry's that I've ever tried.
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.
"Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream with Strawberries & a Thick Graham Cracker Swirl"

So, I don't like strawberry ice cream.  I love strawberries, just not in ice cream.  But, this sounded promising, since I do like cheesecake.

As I kinda expected, I didn't like the ice cream itself, as it tasted like, well, strawberry ice cream.  Perhaps a bit more rich than normal, but I didn't really detect anything "cheesecake" about it.

I also didn't like the chunks of frozen strawberry.  They were plentiful, but were really icy.  The creamy ice cream and the icy cold strawberries just didn't combine in a magical way for me.

But ... the graham cracker swirl.  OMG.  It was so incredibly delicious.  Buttery, sweet, crumbly.  I wouldn't call it a "swirl" exactly, most like just bits of graham cracker cookie throughout, but there was a generous amount of it.  I'd love to see the graham cracker cookie pieces show up in a different ice cream.  I'd even almost consider getting this again, just to pick the cookie bits out :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The BA Galleries Lounge, Munich

The BA Galleries lounge in Munich is located kinda strangely around a corner at the end of the departures area.  Getting there is a bit confusing, as it involves some corridors that don’t quite look like you are supposed to walk down them, and have the potential for turing the wrong way and winding up outside security.

Once you make it though, it really is a decent lounge.  Quaint, but, with better food than I'm accustomed in a lounge of this smaller size.  And, in particular, good pastries and ice cream, two essential items to make me happy.

The Space

The lounge isn't very large, and at first, I thought this might be a problem as other guests arrived.  However, it wasn't remotely crowded, so, perhaps the size is fine.  One thing to note is that there are no restrooms located inside the lounge, you must exit and go use a regular bathroom out in the hall.
Business Area.
Near the entrance is a business area with a few computers, that no one seemed to use.
Tables with Fruit Bowls.
Seating was available at tables (all with fresh fruit bowls on them!) and some rather aged armchairs.  The chairs, while not the prettiest, were actually pretty comfortable.  There were also plentiful power  outlets throughout the room.

The Drinks

Coffee Lounge.
Off to the side was the "coffee lounge", basically just an automatic coffee machine, some tea, and little cookies.  

The coffee machine had only regular coffee, and, even the instant coffee on the side was caffeinated.  No decaf coffee here, which made me sad.  On the plus side, they actually had a roobios tea and hot chocolate, so Ojan was quite happy.
Cold Drinks, Alcoholic Drinks, Snacks.
On the other side was cold drinks, just water (sparkling and regular), fruit juices, and a standard lineup of bar selections including white wine, red wine, sparkling wine, beer, and basic spirits.

This area also had packaged chips, pretzels, and chocolates.

The Food

On top of the food buffet was a couple croissants.  I assumed they were leftover from breakfast service since we arrived around 11:30am, but, interestingly, they were replenished throughout our time, so, I guess they were not leftovers?

I tried the stuffed one and was rather shocked by how good it was.  The crust was crisp and flaky, and the dough had a nice flavor to it.  I liked the little crunchy bits on top.  I'm not quite sure what the filling was, it seemed to be pineapple perhaps?

I went back for another later since I liked it so much, and this time, it was even warm, clearly fresh out of the oven/heater.  They did a good job of keeping these fresh.
Sandwiches, Cheese, Spreads.
The main continental lunch selection was pre-made sandwiches, which I did not try, plus simple cheeses and other spreads.
Rolls, Crackers, Flatbreads.
The spreads and cheeses went with an interesting assortment of types of crackers/flatbreads.
Salad "Mexican Style".
The only vegetable offering was a "Mexican" salad with beans, corn, peppers, and more.  No standard salad, crudite, etc.  I didn't try it.
Hot Foods: Spicy Chicken Fingers, Potato Wedges, Mini Pizza Margherita.
Hot food offerings were in a buffet: atomic orange looking spicy chicken fingers, potato wedges, and mini cheese pizzas.  BBQ sauce and ketchup were provided on the side.

Ojan tried the hot foods, and said they were all actually pretty tasty, and far better than they looked, and far better than they should be, given the itty bitty buffet.
Langnese Ice Cream Freezer!
And finally ... an ice cream freezer!  Oh, be still my heart!  Since the ice cream freezer disappeared from the Galleries lounge in Heathrow, I had no idea they still offered them in other locations.

It was stocked with little tubs of Langnese (aka, Heartbrand, aka Unilever) ice cream, in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  Ok, not the most exciting options, but still, ice cream.

I selected vanilla, er, Bourbon-Vanille, ice cream, and was pleasantly surprised.  It was creamy, rich, nicely flavored, and melted perfectly.  It was really quite good ice cream.  I wish I'd taken a photo, but it was swirled into the container with little swirls visible, making it seem less mass produced than it likely was.

Ojan opted for chocolate, and similarly commented on the fact that the ice cream was better than expected.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Peet's Cold Brew On The Go

Peet's is my favorite coffee chain, for the quality of the most important product: the coffee.  Even their decaf is good, and the company-wide policy to never serve brewed coffee more than 30 minutes old really does lead to a better experience.  Other places may have more fancy drinks, or hawk better donuts, but, Peet's delivers on what I care about, and that is the taste of my coffee.  But you know that already anyway, as I've reviewed Peet's before.

Today I'm here to review their latest foray, as Peet's has joined a slew of other companies in the packaged ready-to-drink cold brew market, with three products.  The first is the cold brew itself, served in glass bottles, straight up.  The bean of choice is an East African Baridi Blend.  The other two are milk variants, served in little milk cartons.  The packaging is cute although not really practical, but, the product is fantastic.

All the products are available in grocery stores and Peet's stores.  They require refrigeration, and all the ones I've seen so far seem to have a Best-By date of ~2 weeks away, basically, like fresh milk.  So not exactly convenient to stock up on, but, I think worth it.
Dark Chocolate Cold Brew.
The versions with milk are served in cute little cardboard single serve milk cartons, like the kind I hadn't seen since elementary school.  Seriously, how cute is the packaging?  Opening one of these was serious nostalgia, although, I remembered immediately that I hated drinking out of them.  Mushy cardboard is not pleasant!  And, once I got to opening my second one, I also remembered why I hated OPENING them.  Seriously annoying.  So, cute, but, there is a reason we don't use these style carton anymore ...
Dark Chocolate Cold Brew.
"Baridi Cold Brew made even more irresistible with the freshest milk and rich, dark Guittard cocoa to bring out the coffee’s natural chocolate notes."

So I poured it into a cup, and added ice.  You can see the dark, rich color here.

This was a serious iced mocha.  Very rich and chocolately.  Chocolate milk for grown ups, aka, quality chocolate, and uh, caffeine.  It was delicious.

Not that the recipe was revolutionary: cold brewed coffee, milk, sugar, Guittard cocoa, sodium bicarbonate, salt, gellan gum.  Interestingly, the dark chocolate version is made with regular milk, the au lait with nonfat.  Besides the gellan gum and sodium bicarbonate, it really is just chocolate milk with coffee in it.

I greatly enjoyed this, it was rich, it was chocolately, and I gladly stock my fridge with these.
Coffee Au Lait Cold Brew.
"Bold Baridi Cold Brew paired with the freshest, rBST-free milk* and pure cane sugar."

I moved on to the Coffee Au Lait.  This one really is just coffee milk.  The ingredient list is simple:  cold brewed coffee, reduced fat milk, sugar, sodium bicarbonate.

As you can see, without the addition of the chocolate, it is a lighter color.  It was far less exciting than the dark chocolate version, since, well, it was just sorta sweet, cold, coffee milk.  Good, and likely refreshing on a hot day, but I'd rather just buy the pure cold brew, and add my own milk and sweetener of choice to taste.