Friday, September 22, 2017

Will's Fresh Foods

Will's Fresh Foods is a packaged picnic salad distributor from the Bay Area (San Leandro).  They make all the basics: pasta salads, potato salads, slaws, tuna/chicken/egg salad, etc.  And for each category, the range is shockingly large.  18 pasta salads alone, 55 salads total.  The products are sold through many big distributors in the area, including Costco, and all the standard grocery stores (Safeway, Albertson's, Lucky, Raley's, etc), so if you are a Bay Area resident, you have probably seen their goods.

Will's makes, I'm not joking, 17 different potato salads.  17!  The range starts out with the usual suspects: diced potato salad, with or without egg.  German (non-mayo) style potato salad, with or without bacon.  Red bliss, with or without egg, with or without mayo.   Then comes "Homestyle" potato salad and "Old Fashion" potato salad (yeah, what is the difference? Homestyle has scallions, eggs, and mayo.  Old Fashion has parsley, sweet onions, and mayo.  Then what is the regular diced one?  It has bell peppers, celery, onions, and mayo).  Then there is ... "Natural" with celery, eggs, relish, and mayo, which sounds like the most normal one to me.  Things get more fun with Southern Creole (yams, bacon, and bbq sauce?!) and Roasted Poblano (poblano and jalapeƱo in this one).

Then there is San Francisco style.  Wait, what?  We have our own style of potato salad now?  It is their signature salad, and top seller, available in salad kit form too.  The packaged version is what I tried.

And before you wonder why on earth I'm reviewing deli salads, let me remind you, I, uh, tend to love these things.  I really love deli salads, particularly macaroni, potato, and slaw, particular when loaded with mayo (like the shockingly good ones from Fountain Cafe's salad bar, or the herbaceous, crunchy Ensalada De Papas from Playa Azul ) or the lackluster options (like the not flavorful enough versions from The Sandwich Spot, Deli &, and Muracci's, the later of which also had corn and broccoli in the potato salad, or mushy ones like A.G. Ferrari, or just plain unmemorable like Wise Sons).  Delica's wasabi potato salad, as crazy as it sounds with snap peas and romaine hearts in it, remains a favorite.  The potato salad from the Qantas business lounge at LAX was the highlight of all my lounge visits in LA, and the Qantas business lounge in Sydney also had some salad hits.

I like deli salads, what can I say?
San Francisco Potato Salad.
"Thin slices of tenderly cooked potatoes blended with rich, creamy whole egg mayonnaise, onions and pickles. A 65 year traditional favorite!"

So, "San Francisco" potato salad is classic mayo potato salad, with onions and pickles.  What makes that ... San Francisco exactly?  I have no idea.

I eagerly scooped up a big plate full, and dug in.  The potatoes were mushier than I like.  It was very creamy, which was good, but I just didn't like the seasoning.  I'm not sure why.  I'm all for pickles and onions, but there was something about this that I just really, really didn't like.

So, 1 point for creamy, -1 point for kinda mushy, and -many points for flavor.  This was not for me.

I realize now that years ago, I had potato salad from Bayside Market, and it was called San Francisco Potato Salad.  It looks just like this, and, well, my review is almost a direct match.  Pretty sure I figured out where they source their salads from!

Edible Cookie Dough, from Doughp

"Doughp makes edible (and bakeable) raw cookie dough! We serve up the raw dough in sugar cones or cups for a ridiculously unique dessert experience. "

Yup, edible cookie dough.  You have seen this taking over the Instagrams lately right?  Will it reach the level of the cupcake craze of years ago?  Probably not, but I see potential to perhaps rival cronuts.

Edible cookie dough is exactly what you think it is.  Cookie dough, made safe for eating without baking.  Sold at speciality shops with long lines, and ever creative ways of making the product look more and more Instragram worthy.  (I've also had amazing cookie dough as a dessert at Little Donkey restaurant in Boston, served on a beater.)

Doughp is the latest San Francisco establishment to join this craze (say the name outloud and you'll get it).  They started as a popup at Spark Social events, did a bunch of catering, and now have space inside The Myriad.

They use flaxseed eggs to make the dough safe for eating, and do note that you could bake this dough into actual cookies if you wanted.  But, that isn't what people do.

No, they go to the shop, and get ... cones of cookie dough.  Yes, imagine an ice cream shop, but, instead of scoops of ice cream, you get scoops of cookie dough.

Doughp offers a slew of flavors (nearly 20, which they rotate), including some with names that made me laugh (like, "Eminem" for the M&M flavor, or "Red Dum" with "Red velvet cake violently smashed into a blonde cookie dough"), and plenty that sound amazing ("Fluffed Nutz" I have my eye on, peanut butter & marshmallow fluff!)

And then, the cone.  Flavored cones, like a brilliant red velvet one.  For an extra $1.50 of course.  And toppings, colorful ones, like Fruity Pebbles.  Add $0.50.  Pick your pairings based on looks, or how they'll taste together, depending on your priorities.

The dough itself is $6 a scoop.  Would I pay that?  Nah.  Do I really want a full scoop of cookie dough at a time?  It turns out, no.  But if someone brought me a container full, and I had it stashed in my fridge for a few days/weeks (they say it keeps for a month), I'd gladly eat a couple spoonfuls every day ...
Assorted Edible Dough!
I got to try an assortment of flavors when a friend brought them to a party.  We didn't have them as scoops, or in the colorful cones, or served with toppings, but we still had all the joy of eating cookie dough with a spoon.  And honestly, eating it right from a container like this taps into the same part of my brain as eating Ben & Jerry's from the pint for me, making it that much more satisfying than if in a cone.

The flavors I tried were: Amber Rose, Matcha Dood, That Eclipse, Dough, Oh Snap, and PB Oreo.  My reviews below follow in my order of preference (favorite to least favorite).

All had an enjoyable cookie dough texture, a buttery sweetness.  I didn't taste the flax in any of them, which I was really fearful of, as I don't like flax.
Amber Rose.
Amber Rose: "Cranberry sugar cookie with a hint of elderflower & rose water."

I loved the Amber Rose.  My favorite, no question.  It was a beautiful pink color, studded with dried cranberries.

It was buttery, it was sweet, it was everything good about cookie dough.  I didn't know what the flavor was when I was trying it, but I could tell there was a fascinating subtle something going on, which I guess was the elderflower, and it was sweet in a lovely way, which I guess was the rose water.  I don't even really care for dried cranberries, but I even liked them in here, a bit of texture, more sweetness.

Certainly not a flavor I would have picked, but I loved it, and it was my favorite of the bunch.
Matcha Doodle.
"Snickerdoodle cookie dough with a matcha green tea twist." 

Next I went for the crazy green looking one, Matcha Doodle.  I'll admit, the color wasn't necessarily appealing, but, I knew it was matcha based.  The name ... sounded familiar to me.  Why?  Uh, I think Doughp got inspiration from Humpry Slocombe, who has a flavor of the same name, described as "Generous chunks of cinnamon-y house-made snickerdoodle cookies are mixed throughout creamy matcha green tea ice cream."

Anyway, *this* matcha doodle didn't taste like snickerdoodle in any way, which, was fine with me.  I'm not really one for snickerdoodle.

It did taste like matcha, sweet butter matcha that is, and had a few little bits of white chocolate for added sweetness.  As a fan of matcha, I liked this quite a bit.  My second favorite.

That Eclipse, Dough (Limited Edition).
Ok, back to interesting colors, the limited edition, jet black That Eclipse, Dough.  You can probably guess when this was offered: the eclipse.

While it *looked* interesting, it didn't taste like anything.  Just buttery sweet cookie dough.  The color comes from being charcoal-activated, which didn't add anything to the flavor.  Very plain, boring, but I'm sure it was a top seller during the craze around the eclipse, and probably looked very Instagram worthy in the bright cones (just like the Nano X soft serve from JP Licks, also charcoal activated).

So, fine, but boring.
Oh, Snap!
Speaking of snickerdoodle, next was the plain looking Oh, Snap! the snickerdoodle flavor.

It looked just like regular cookie dough, and that is what it tasted like too.  Very seasoned, very cinnamony, and probably good, if you like snickerdoodle.  Not the flavor for me.
PB Oreo.
I saved the PB Oreo for last, expecting it to be my favorite.  It was my least favorite.

The peanut butter cookie base was ok, but I wasn't into the Oreo.  Which I guess makes sense, as I don't like Oreo much, but I thought the peanut butter and chocolate combo would win me over, and that I'd appreciate the texture.  I didn't.  Meh to Oreo (sorry Dad, I know you love them).

My least favorite, but Ojan enjoyed it (although he also noted that while it was good, it wasn't $6-a-scoop-good).