Friday, May 19, 2017

9 Bar

9 Bar is a snack bar manufacturer from the UK, producing bars based on their "super-seed" base, of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and hemp seeds.  They make 4 different product lines.

The "Original Lift" series I believe is the first line they made, and includes mix-ins like cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, and pumpkin.  Slightly more interesting is the "Carob Hit" line, again with a super-seed base, obviously carob, and other mix-ins like flax, pumpkin, apricots, dates, and chia.  I'm not quite sure what is breakfasty about the "Breakfast Boost" range, but these include dried fruits (apricot, strawberry, raspberry, raisins) and oats in the base.  I guess oats are for breakfast?  The most exciting line is "Cocoa Kick", available in 4 flavors: hazelnut, coconut, raspberry, and cashew, all of which have a super-seed base, cocoa mixed in, and a chocolate layer on top.  I went for the raspberry.
Cocoa Kick: Raspberry.
"The super-seed goodness of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and hemp combined with indulgent cocoa and tangy raspberry with a delicious chocolate-flavoured topping."

I almost liked this bar.

The layer of chocolate on top was dark chocolate and seemed to be decent quality.  It was thick and generous, and didn't leave me wanting for more.  The seed mix had cocoa mixed in as well, so, this delivered in the chocolately department, I did indeed get my "cocoa kick".

The raspberry flavor went well with the chocolate, but, I really didn't care for the raspberry seeds.  I have this problem with raspberries and blackberries, I just can't stand the seeds when I eat the fruits, and here there was tons of raspberry seeds mixed in.  That was off-putting to me.

But finally, I just didn't like the flavor of the seed mix, predominantly sunflower seeds.  A bit bitter, and just not a taste I like.

So, not the bar for me.  If you like seeds (both sunflower AND raspberry), then perhaps this is the bar for you.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Travelin' Tuesday: New York

As I've done with most major cities I travel to, such as ParisMunich, Boston, New Hampshire, Lisbon, Tokyo, Sydney and London, I like to write a master post of my coverage of the city.

My ventures to New York were entirely too brief, so, this isn't a very impressive listing, but I'll add to it over time.

Bakeries/Treats

Restaurants

  • Butter noodles of my dreams, at Momofuku Nishi.
  • Casual noodles and delicious tea at Xi'an Famous Foods.
  • Incredible, truly stunning, breakfast at The Lamb's Club.
  • Morimoto ... nothing amazing, but decent enough.

Flights / Hotels

  • JetBlue Mint 615, JFK-SFO, May 2017.  In which I was ruined for all future air travel.
  • JetBlue Mint 1415, JFK-SFO, June 2018.
  • Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel Concierge Lounge. Mediocre food, the worst coffee ever.


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Monday, May 15, 2017

Salad from Munchery

Munchery continues to pivot and try to find the right balance of offerings to be successful.  I'm honestly fairly impressed at how much the company has transformed over the years.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go read any of my previous Munchery reviews, where I've reviewed everything from an impressive version of Heston Blumenthal's World-Famous Chocolate and Cauliflower Risotto, to their partnership with local Indian restaurant Dosa, to totally amazing stuffed shells I still drool over, to simple comfort foods like fish sticks and bacon wrapped meatloaf, to even a full Thanksgiving dinner, and much, much more.

Since my earlier reviews, Munchery added cooking kits for those who do want to do some prep, but no shopping, they've added children's meals to accommodate whole families (or smaller appetites), they've partnered with local juice shops, they've added better desserts and ceased making them in-house.  They've also really increased their healthy, trendy offerings, with numerous salads, poke bowls, and grain bowls.

Salads aren't usually that interesting to me, but, for some reason, I went through a phase of craving salads on weekend evenings.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't really on a health kick, I also wanted a big slice of cheesecake and a chunk of cornbread with honey butter alongside, and I started my days with weekend brunch of pancakes, waffles, and the like, but, I kept finding myself strangely wanting salads in the evenings.

Luckily for me, Munchery was able to satisfy these cravings with numerous salads to pick from, both entree sized and side salads, nearly every day.  Oh, and they have fantastic desserts too (more on that soon), so, I could satisfy all my needs.  If you'd like to try it yourself, just use my referral code and get $20 off your first order!
Standard Munchery Packaging.
So finally I caved and ordered a salad from Munchery, not really sure what to expect in terms of quality for something where freshness and quality produce matter.  I was drawn in by a caesar (always a favorite of mine) that came with all sorts of interesting "Mexican" ingredients.

It came in standard Munchery packaging: compostable base, plastic lid, colorful labeling with instructions ("Pour dressing and croutons over salad and mix"), ingredients, and nutritional information (470 calories) clearly presented.
Munchery Photo.
The stock photo looked like a well rounded salad, and, actually, what I received it was decently represented, sans nice plating of course.  My salad had the same number of shrimp, although far, far fewer croutons and cherry tomatoes.  And, uh, my corn was green and seasoned.  But, not too far off?
Mexican Shrimp Caesar Salad: corn / cojita / tomatoes / pepitas / croutons. $12.95.
"A modern, south-of-the-border twist on the traditional Caesar salad. We put citrus-marinated shrimp over shredded romaine lettuce with corn, tomatoes, and diced red peppers. Add our ciabatta croutons, crumbled cotija cheese, toasted peptias, and chipotle-Caesar dressing for the final step and you're ready to dig into one fantastic salad."

The packaging was done thoughtfully.  Croutons were in their own little container so as not to get soggy, and the dressing too was on the side separately.  The other elements were arranged on top of the lettuce in different sections: roasted red peppers over in one corner, seasoned corn in another. shrimp in another, cojita and pepitas in the middle, etc.  For the most part, this worked well (the pepitas weren't crunchy anymore though, there weren't nearly enough croutons in that tiny container, and the shrimp were kinda slimy).

The lettuce was the ingredient I was most worried about, and it was fine.  Fresh, crisp, not browned, not soggy.  Just standard romaine (not shredded as the menu said, but, regular chunks), and not quite enough of it (the ratio was just off here), but, the lettuce was fine.

I appreciated the concept behind the slew of toppings: little cubes of roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and seasoned corn, plus pepitas, cotija cheese, and of course, the croutons, but, in practice none worked out great.  I don't really like roasted red peppers, and the flavor of the corn was horrible.  I have no idea what the seasoning was that coated it, and in the photo online it showed regular, vibrant, yellow corn but mine was covered in something green.  This made me sad, since, I do love roasted corn.

The cotija was fine, a good cheese choice, and a nice amount of it.  I love pepitas and looked forward to the crunch they would add, but, they had softened considerably inside the salad, and didn't seem toasted as described.  Maybe they too should have been on the side?  The croutons were actually awesome, really crispy, really flavorful.  The menu description said they were "ciabatta croutons" but the ingredients listed "batard bread", so, uh, someone needs to at least figure out what country invented the bread they used.  The problem?  I had only 4 croutons.  The tiny little container that kept them separate fit exactly 4 croutons.  I wanted more.  Many more.  They were awesome.

The other little container contained the chipotle-caesar dressing, and it was pretty good.  Creamy, good amount of parmesan, and it actually had anchovy in it.  It also had some kick, presumably from the chipotle, and this is what helped make the salad "mexican".  I liked the dressing, and the amount provided was about right.

The shrimp I feared would be rubbery, slimy, not cleaned, fishy, or all of the above.  And ... the shrimp were fine.  My salad contained 7, just like the photo.  They were a little slimy, but, besides that, actually fine, cooked well, not fishy, and marinated nicely.

My salad also came with a lime wedge to drizzle over, a nice touch.

So, overall, it was fine, but it sounded better than it actually was.  Still, kudos for fresh lettuce, not nasty shrimp, and very good croutons.
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