Friday, April 13, 2018

Harvey's Pretzels

Harvey's Pretzels is another brand of packaged snacks that only seems to show up in gift baskets around the holidays.  I don't think they have a retail store of their own.  I can't find any real info online.

So, I'll keep it short.  The one product I tried was great, and I'd gladly take it off your hands from an abandoned gift basket.
Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Pieces.
"Baked to perfection and coated with honey mustard and onion seasoning."

"Delectable pretzels covered in honey mustard and onion seasoning. "

I like honey mustard pretzel bits.  My mom always has a stock of flavored Snyder's of Hanover Pretzel Nibblers on hand, which I've reviewed before.  I always have a love-hate relationship with those - I don't actually like the sourdough based pretzels much, and some of the flavors give me a stomach ache, yet ... I find myself addicted and can never stop eating them.

Harvey's Pretzels were better, although very similar.

Same concept of pretzel pieces, broken off, and coated in honey mustard coating.  They were crunchy but not too hard, and, I liked the base pretzel flavor more than Snyder's, as I don't think these were sourdough.

They were well coated, the jagged edges great for holding the flavor.  Vaguely identifyable as "honey mustard" and "onion" but certainly seasoned and savory.

I liked them, and easily devoured the box.  Yes the whole thing.  Shhh.
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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Confetti Italian Ice & Custard, Costa Mesa

When in SoCal, what do you do?  Seek out amazing frozen desserts, clearly!

Except, it wasn't actually very warm during my recent trip to Costa Mesa, and, it was winter, so dark by the time I got out of work each day.

Still, I had a list of places to check out, so, I still went.  I just put on a jacket, and pretended I was home.

High on my list was Confetti Italian Ice & Custard, a funny name for the place, as, they also have ice cream (and more ice cream than custard).
Ice Cream, Soft Serve Custard, Italian Ice!
The choices were overwhelming.

Confetti has Italian Ice, in 16 flavors.  And traditional hard serve ice cream, also 16 flavors.  And then, the soft serve, 4 flavors of custard, and 2 Dole whips.  All house made.

Overwhelming.  You can sample however many you want, and mix and match between types in a dish.

Did I mention, overwhelming?
Italian Ice: 16 flavors.
I'm not one for gelato or italian ice normally, but, everyone raves about the italian ice here, so, I had to try.  Plus, I've never seen things like peanut butter flavored italian ice!

The full lineup on my visit was a slew of fruity flavors (banana, strawberry, mango, lemon, watermelon, blue raspberry, cherry, orange, pineapple, sour apple, lychee, passion fruit) and then the more interesting peanut butter, chocolate chip, mint chocolate, and horchata.

The texture really was quite unique, more fluffy than I imagined possible for something scooped from a bin.  Not really icy ... although it was ice of course.  Very refreshing and flavorful.  I wished I had tried the peanut butter.
Ice Cream: 16 Flavors!
Next, traditional hard serve ice cream, also in 16 flavors.  I don't generally go for hard ice cream at shops, since, it doesn't seem worth paying a premium for something I can get at a grocery store (unlike soft serve), but, the flavors here were interesting enough, that I was tempted.

There was something for everyone.  Want chocolate and mix ins? You could pick mint crumbs, nutella almond crunch, Oreo milkshake, chocolate chip cookie dough, brownie bites, or rocky road.  Feeling traditional?  Coffee, butter pecan, and chunky strawberry were your options (nope, no plain chocolate or vanilla here!).  "Exotic" options were taro, green tea, and thai tea.  And then the crazy: lemon velvet, birthday cake, twinkie, and unicorn cereal.

I was drawn in by the unicorn cereal (I know, I'm a victim of social media), but when I found out it was Lucky Charms, I decided against it.  Meh to lucky charms.


I first tried the taro.  It was amazing.  Phenomenal taro flavor.  Perfect creamy consistency.  Incredible.

Next, I tried the birthday cake.  I loved the sprinkles and the fact that it had chunks of cake in it, but, it was crazy sweet.  Too sweet for me.  Still, very good ice cream.
Soft Serve.
And finally, soft serve.

Four flavors of custard (chocolate, vanilla, NY Cheesecake, and cookie butter) and two types of Dole Whip (lemon or pineapple).

I expected that the custard would be what I primarily went for.  Italian ice isn't exciting to me in any way, and like I said, hard ice cream isn't novel. I'm a soft serve girl, and soft serve custard is even better.

I tried the cookie butter first, and although I liked the creamy consistency, the flavor was too subtle for me.  The NY Cheesecake was similar, great texture, but, I wasn't really into the flavor.  I was let down by the custards.
Menu.
Now, what to do with all the options?  Most people go for parfaits, basically, a cup or cone with whatever you want in it: "Layers of ice, custard, and soft serve any way you like it."  Another interesting option is the "Pizelle Sammies", Italian waffle cookies in assorted flavors, filled with soft serve, dipped in chocolate, and rolled in toppings.  There are also some pre-designed specials, like "Apple Pie a la Mode" with warm cinnamon apples, graham cracker crumbs, and cinnamon sauce, or "S'mores" with chocolate chip ice, horchata ice, cookie butter soft serve, graham cracker crumbs, marshmallow creme, and chocolate sauce.  And finally, Italian sodas, flavored lemonades, and flavored ice tea.

The menu does not include a simple single scoop of anything, a small parfait (which would be 3 scoops) is the smallest you can get.

They also have some toppings, but they weren't listed anywhere, and I was so overwhelmed with all my choices that I decided not to complicate things.  Sauces, nuts, sprinkles ... no more decisions!
Small Parfait: Horchata italian ice, Taro ice cream, Vanilla soft serve custard. $5.
My parfait was entirely based around the taro ice cream.  I decided to get one of each type of item: one scoop ice cream, one scoop italian ice, and custard.

The ice cream choice was a no brainer.  The taro was really, really good.  Amazing taro flavor.  I loved it.

I wanted to put an italian ice in the mix to lighten it up and to try more than just a sample.  Peanut butter sounded great, but I knew that wouldn't pair with taro.  Coconut might have been a good match, but alas, not one of the 16 options.  Maybe I should have done lychee?  Instead, I went for horchata.  It was lightly cinnamony, a bit of an odd pairing (but my server told me it was a good one with taro ....).  I'm glad I got to experience good italian ice, but without a good flavor pairing, I'd probably skip in the future.

And finally, I opted for the vanilla soft serve custard, without trying it, since I didn't really care for the others I tried.  It was amazingly creamy, but a bit sour.  I really wanted toppings on it, and wished I had opted for a sauce or other topping.

Overall, I'm glad I went for something like this, and tried everything.  But at the end of the day, I really just wanted more taro ice cream.  

Next time: taro ice cream with toppings.  Nothing else needed.

This was the smallest size, and, small it was not.  $5 is a lot for a small, but, given the size, and the number of samples I had (!), it was a fine value.
Confetti Italian Ice & Custard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lao Table

I've somehow never reviewed Osha Thai before, a fairly well known mini chain of Thai restaurants in SF, besides, uh, the dessert my co-workers brought me one day.  Osha is a reliable, easy choice for slightly upscale modern thai food, has a location near our office, and generally is easy to get a last minute reservation at for groups.  So, we go fairly often.  It is always good, but, nothing like the much better Thai food in Sydney!

They recently converted one location to a new concept called Lao Table, more focused on Northeastern Thailand and Laos, where the head Osha chef is actually from.  I was excited to check it out, and see if the focus on more personal cuisine pushed Lao Table a step above the still disappointing SF Thai scene.

It didn't.  It was worse.  Far worse.
Lackluster Meal.
I'll sum this one up easily.  Underwhelming.  Lackluster.  Forgettable.  Most dishes weren't bad exactly, but weren't very good.  One was awful.  I will not be returning.

Service was also not good.  In the first 20 minutes, our water glasses were aggressively refilled.  But after that?  Totally ignored.  We had no water while actually eating our food.

Everything is intended to be shared, yet we were not provided serving utensils for most dishes.

And our server spent more time trying to upsell us and make us add on more dishes than I've ever experienced anywhere before.
Revenswood Zinfandel 2015. $13.
I was really, really craving a nice glass of red wine.  Something not too tannic.  I went for the Zin, and I appreciated that they offered a sample first when I hesitated in selecting a wine.

It wasn't great, but I didn't have the energy to try something else.  A drinkable table wine, with a price tag that didn't match the quality.
Appetizer: Grilled Calamari. $14.95.
"Chargrilled whole calamari and sweet chili-lime topping."

There is one dish on the menu that Yelpers all rave about.  The whole grilled calamari.  It was *why* I bookmarked Lao Table in the first place.  I love really well grilled calamari/octopus.  I insisted we get this.

When it arrived, I smiled.  Presentation was stunning.  Laid out on a wooden board.  It looked well grilled.  We were provided with a real sharp knife to cut it (but no serving utensils).

That knife ... wasn't even enough to cut through it.  The cook on this was horrible.  It was incredibly chewy.  Rubbery.  Impossible to cut.  It had no char, no smoke, nothing redeeming.  Really, really, really not good.

Strangely, it was served on top of a few chunks of celery.  Underneath it.  No idea why.

The spicy sauce on the side however was good, it had some real heat to it.  I enjoyed the sauce, just not with the calamari, at all.

We all tried a few bites, trying different parts, but, there just was literally nothing good about the calamari itself, and we threw it out.
Side: Papaya Salad. $10.
Our server and her upselling worked.  At last minute, another diner asked to add on a side of papaya salad.  It came right after the first appetizer, also with no serving utensil.

It was ... fine.  Standard Thai style papaya salad with a base of shredded green papaya, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and peanuts.  Decently spicy sauce.  The cherry tomatoes were entirely flavorless.

The menu has a papaya salad as a regular salad, for a whopping $21.95 as well.  Which seemed a bit crazy.  Sure, it has pork sausage, pork crackling, and prawns but ... wow.  The $10 price on this seemed a bit high for the small side dish size.
Side: Steamed Vegetables. $5.
After we ordered, our server kept insisting on more things, so I said that maybe we needed vegetables.  Of course she wanted us to get more entrees, but I just went for the simple side of steamed veggies, even though the others were like, "eh".  I guess I was craving veggies.

I didn't really know what the mix would be, but it was carrots, broccoli, and green cabbage.  Simple and steamed.  It arrived with the papaya salad right after the first appetizer, before the second appetizer, and long before the main.   Not quite what I intended, flow-wise.  It came with a spoon on the side to serve it with, I guess?  A single spoon, which, as you can imagine, didn't exactly work.

It was, literally, the only savory dish I liked.  And I didn't like the broccoli or too mushy carrots.  Really, the only savory element, of the entire meal, that I thought was good was a bite of plain steamed cabbage slathered in the hot sauce from the calamari.  I guess I'm glad we got it.
Appetizer: Miang Foie Gras. $23.95.
"Seared duck foie gras, coconut-tamarind reduction, fresh berries with lemongrass smoke."

Ok, foie gras might not be a normal thing to order at a Thai or Laotian restaurant, but, seriously, how do you resist foie gras, particularly seared foie gras?

We should have resisted.  This too came with no serving implements.

"How did they manage to make foie gras so ... boring," is what I uttered after trying this dish.  I literally don't understand how they made it so entirely lackluster, mediocre, and forgettable.

Was there anything *wrong* with the foie gras?  No.  But was it good?  No, not at all.

Backing up.  The presentation, that you can't see here, was the only memorable part, as it came under a dome, that was ceremoniously removed in front of us, and smoke came out.  Ok.

But then we had this.

Not very hot, not very well seared foie gras, two slices.  Assorted not ripe fruit.  A big pile of random salad greens.  Shredded coconut on top.  Perhaps a drizzle of the coconut-tamarind reduction.  Nothing really paired here at all.  No brioche or other carbs, perhaps we were supposed to ... roll it in the lettuce?  And the mediocre raw fruit didn't provide a nice sweet pairing either.  The only texture came from the shredded coconut.

Seriously, the most boring, not well composed foie gras I've ever had.
Entree: Panang Lamb Curry. $23.95.
"Thick coconut milk curry, lamb stew with cucumber salad. Served with jasmine rice."

I was not very hungry, and happy with a meal of foie gras, octopus, and the side veggies/salad, so I told the others to pick whatever curry they wanted.  They selected lamb, which, I'd never pick, since I don't like lamb.  I didn't care though, as it wasn't for me.

Like the other dishes, presentation was nice.  The portion of jasmine rice it was served with however was laughable.  Not enough for one person, let alone two people to share.  Our server, who tried to upsell us on sooo many things, didn't mention this, which was surprising.

The cucumber salad I did try, and it was pretty boring, not much flavor.

The curry sauce I also tried, it was fine, pretty standard panang curry.  The portion of lamb was ok for a single person to have as an entree, but a bit meager for a sharing dish, particularly for the price.  The others who ate it both agreed it was the best dish they had though.
Side: Sticky Rice. $4.
Since the rice quantity was entirely insufficient, we also ordered more rice, and went for sticky rice just to compare.

It was fine.  Warm.  Served in a plastic bag, inside a wooden basket cup.
Dessert: Khao Tom Mudd. $13.
"Sweet coconut sticky rice + red bean in a banana leaf W/ coconut ice cream in a whole young coconut."

For dessert, we had to rule out 3 of the 5 items immediately, as they all had caffeine (thai ice tea, chocolate, or espresso).  Which left two sticky rice based options: mango sticky rice or this.  Since you can get mango sticky rice at any Thai restaurant, we decided to go with the khao tom mudd, even though we had no idea what to expect.

And even once we got it, we had no idea what was going on.  Breaking it down ...

The coconut ice cream really was just served in a young coconut, exactly as the menu said.  No frills.

But it also turned out to be the highlight of the meal for me.  I wonder if they make it in house, or purchase from somewhere.  It had some texture from coconut bits in it, was rich, creamy, and just really enjoyable.  Perfectly melty too.

Serving it in a coconut was a bit strange perhaps, but I liked that too, as I was able to scoop out all the young coconut flesh, and add it to my ice cream.

While the cabbage with spicy sauce was the best savory item, I didn't really *enjoy it*, whereas the ice cream, I did truly enjoy.  That said ... $13 for a scoop of ice cream with a little sticky rice seemed high, like everything else.
Khao Tom Mudd: Inside the Banana Leaf.
But what about the rest of the dish?  That was the unique part.

It was two banana leaves, each with steamed sticky rice inside, as we expected.  Very hot, lots of steam escaped as we opened them.  The sticky rice was ... fine?  A bit boring.  But nice to have the warm sweet rice with the cold ice cream.

The red bean turned out to just be a few red beans scattered inside.  They were cooked fine, but didn't really add much.
Khao Tom Mudd: Inside the Sticky Rice.
But ... there was more.  Inside the sticky rice was ... something else.

We literally had no idea what we were eating.  The menu description didn't say that there was anything but beans and sticky rice inside the banana leaf.  The substance was a strange pink color.  I thought it must be mashed red bean, but ... it clearly wasn't.

After repeating, over, and over, "I have no idea what I'm eating", I figured it out.  I think.  Banana.  But, red banana?  I don't understand.

I ate a full one of these just trying to figure it out, but it wasn't actually good.  The warm sticky rice was nice with the coconut ice cream, but, the red beans were just eh, and that banana was pretty awful.

Next time ... I'd just get a side of coconut ice cream!
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cubed Poke, Irvine

Poke, poke, poke.  Yup, its a trend.  Yes, it will hit the Bay Area soon enough, if my recent travel to the Los Angeles and Seattle areas are representative of larger trends.  We might have a few poke places around San Francisco, but, wow, they are *everywhere* in Los Angeles.  And you know what? I'm on board.  Which is funny, as I don't really care for raw fish these days.  But bear with me.

Cubed is one of many, many poke establishments in the Irvine area.  I ordered delivery my first night in the area, when my flight was 5 hours delayed (!), and I arrived at the hotel much later than planned.  Once I was in a cab, I pulled up a delivery app, ordered a poke bowl, and it arrived about 10 minutes after I completed check-in.  Magic.

Since I ordered delivery, I can't comment on the establishment itself, but, the delivery was reasonably fast, well packaged.  It did come with a fork rather than chopsticks, and randomly, some soy sauce, but besides that, all was good.

Cubed's focus is poke bowls, but they also have a slew of interesting other dishes: avocado toasts (yes, really, let's just roll our eyes now), and tons of different musubis (traditional spam, but also deep fried, or tonkatsu, or even one with spam and jalapeno poppers).  Oooh, and battered fried salmon belly bites.  But since I was getting delivery, poke it was.

They have a selection of Cubed Signature bowls, their recommended recipes.  These all have no substitutions allowed though, so, not quite what I wanted, so I made my own.

 It was crazy satisfying, but, I was also starving at that point.
BYOB. $8.99 + $1 + $1+ $0.25.
"Our menu may look complicated and overwhelming but the best things in life usually are. We provide you with our house made sauces, variety of bases to fit your needs and wants with endless toppings. With our amazing sauces and quality ingredients, it would be nearly impossible to create a bad poke bowl."

Base: 1/2 kale, 1/2 shredded cabbage.
Protein: Octopus.
Sauce: Garlic ponzu.
Toppings: Wakame salad, fried shallots, tempura flakes, furikake, ponzu jelly, and garlic chips.
Premium Toppings: Imitation Crab, Pickled Radish.

Bowls have a lot of options.

First up, the base, with more options than most places: three types of rice (white, brown, forbidden), kale (yup, on trend!), shredded cabbage, or taro chips.  I was thrilled by these options, as I don't like rice, and most places only offer mixed greens.  I opted for half kale, half cabbage (although, taro chips were *very* tempting, I just added them on as a side instead).

Next, protein.  Standard salmon, tuna, spicy tuna, plus yellowtail or octopus.  A decent selection, but no scallops nor shrimp, nor anything like chicken or tofu for the non-seafood eaters.  I went for octopus.

Then sauce: ponzu, shoyu, garlic ponzu, spicy mayo, creamy ginger wasabi, yuzu.  I went for the garlic ponzu, with spicy mayo on the side.

Next, 5 toppings are included for free, with a huge selection, like veggies (onions, cucumbers, corn, shallots, jalapenos, green onion), crunchy things (fried shallots, tempura flakes, garlic chips), seasonings (sesame seeds, furikake, nori, chili oil, wasabi), and much more.  Additional toppings are $0.25 each.  I wanted too many of these, but narrowed in on 6 (yup, I paid an extra shiny quarter), going for the standard wakame salad, adding three crispy things (fried shallots, tempura flakes, and garlic chips), one spice (furikake), and, just randomly, because it sounded strange, ponzu jelly.

Premium toppings are next, and these all carry an additional $1 charge, items like avocado and imitation crab (that are often included in the base price elsewhere), plus far more interesting items like different types of masago, quail eggs, and their signature mango salsa.  I splurged for two, imitation crab and pickled radish.

So, how was it all?  Very good.  Well assembled.

I really liked my choices of the base, crispy shredded cabbage and fresh crunchy curly kale.  The cabbage was my favorite, as I adore slaws, and it soaked up the sauce from the poke really well.  Loved it, and I wish more places offered cabbage as a base.  The kale gave a good chew and made it more filling.

The sauce was fine, fairly mild but good slightly sweet soy flavor, and I wanted more actually, but at least it wasn't drowning in it.

The octopus was ... ok.  A huge, generous portion though.  Sooo much of this.  Kinda chewy, not awesome, but wow they gave a lot.  An an assortment of different cuts, some slices of thick bits, some smaller pieces of tentacles.  It was fine for what it was, but, I really only like grilled octopus, and only ordered this because I needed to pick something, and didn't want the raw seafood.

The seaweed salad was pretty standard, as was the crab salad.  The crab salad was a huge scoop, and my favorite component of the bowl.  Creamy, but not drenched in mayo.

The ponzu jelly was pretty fascinating, not as strong of a flavor as I thought it might be, but little cubes of flavor and a fun texture.  Also good flavor and texture was the pickled radish, crunchy and with slight acidity.  I'm really glad I added both of these.

My crunchy things were all kinda lost in each other: fried shallots, tempura flakes, and crispy garlic.  I loved the bits of crunch, and the additional flavor from the garlic and shallots in particular, but, they were all jumbled together.  All three probably weren't necessary.

So, a success.  If I could leave out the protein, I would, but otherwise, I'd happily order this same bowl again, perhaps asking for more sauce, and perhaps leaving off a crispy choice or adding on some other toppings, but, I liked my selections, and everything was fresh and flavorful.
Taro Chips. $2.00.
I didn't need a side with my bowl, but, I couldn't resist trying the house made taro chips.  I love snacky crispy things and I adore taro.  Plus, I thought I could save them for later ... (ha)

The taro chips were good.  Salty, crispy, fresh tasting, good taro flavor.  Devoured.

They are also available with mango salsa or guacamole to dip, but I'm allergic to avocado, so I ordered a side of spicy mayo to dip them in (and potentially mix into my bowl too).  It turned out to be too spicy and a strange flavor, but they were tasty enough on their own.

The decent sized bag was only $2, a good value.  
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Monday, April 09, 2018

The Impossible Burger, from Munchery

The Impossible Burger.  Perhaps you've read about it.  Perhaps you've been able to try it.  Perhaps ... you have no idea what I'm talking about.

The short version?  It is a vegetarian burger that is pretty much a miracle of food science, in so many ways.  It looks like ground beef, both when it is raw, and when it is cooking.  The texture and chew is uncanny.  Heck, the thing is juicy, bleeds, and even tastes a bit mineral-y.  You could be convinced, particularly if you eat well done burgers, and slather them in ketchup.  If this is fascinating sounding, go read all about it, from the discovery of the compound heme, to the use of assorted proteins and fats.  It really is amazing, if you care to learn.

Anyway, Impossible Burgers came out in July 2016 to much fanfare, available only a a *very* small number of restaurants in the country.  Since then, the reach has grown, but you still can't buy it in a retail store (although some big chains, like Umami Burger, do carry it).  Do not be confused with the other big name in veggie burgers from the past year, Beyond Burger, which is available at Whole Foods.

Ok, so, that is the Impossible Burger.  Available in select restaurants, still fairly limited.

Now, let me introduce you to Munchery.  Munchery is another company I am fascinated by, but for totally different reasons.  Munchery was introduced in 2010 in the Bay Area, a startup trying to change the meal delivery landscape by offering meals not from restaurants, but from their team of chefs, and not served hot, but rather, refrigerated designed for delivery and simple reheating by you at home instead.  The appeal to me, way back then, is that restaurant delivery actually always kinda lackluster in that it is lukewarm and soggy by the time it reaches you.  Munchery designed the meals to be served this way, with components separated out, proteins slightly undercooked so that the finishing process at home didn't over cook them, etc.  I used the service way back then, and I was impressed by some dishes, like their take on Heston Blumenthal's Chocolate and Cauliflower Risotto, but these fancier dishes didn't work out very well in the market.

So Munchery went for more simple options, which were pretty hit or miss for me, but I found many other hits over the years even among those, like the stuffed pasta shells I kinda still drool thinking about.   I even ordered Thanksgiving dinner from them a couple times.  Still, Munchery wasn't hugely successful, so they continued to pivot, introducing same day ordering, breakfast items, and eventually kid's meals ... which more recently pivoted to bento boxes for kids.  They added partnerships with local restaurants to craft dishes for the menus (like Dosa and Slanted Door) and local bakeries provide some of the desserts.  They now offer a slew of different concepts, including actual cooking kits and a gourmet "marketplace" full of high end provisions like prosciutto, Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, even saffron.  And Blue Bottle cold brew, Project Juice juices, etc.  I give them major kudos for just continuing to try everything.

Which finally gets to my story of the day.  Munchery got ahold of Impossible Burgers.  The moment I saw them on the menu, I ordered.

I highly recommend the experience.  In fact, if you'd like to try Munchery for the first time, I can even offer you an Impossible Burger for free.  Or, any other meal you'd like.  Or just an amazing dessert and the aforementioned bottle of saffron, if you so prefer.  Whatever you'd like, here is $20 entirely free, no strings, to try on Munchery.  (I recommend the Impossible Burger or the cheesecakes though!)
Impossible Burger by Munchery.  $18.95.
My experience was everything I wanted it to be.

Easy online ordering, on-time delivery, nicely packaged food, clear instructions, and, well, delicious and fascinating.

Munchery even went a step further and made the entire offering vegan, including the bun and the aioli.   I was skeptical, to be honest.  I was a bit sad they made the whole thing vegan.  I wanted cheese!  I wanted yummy toppings!

It turns out, the vegan-ness was not an issue, at all.  I loved the toppings, and I didn't miss the cheese (I even added some melted swiss myself, and decided I liked it better without).
Boxed Up!
"What is impossible, you might ask? Resisting the carnivorous urge to sink your teeth into this juicy burger, loaded with everything you crave (and none of the meat). This triumphantly meatless patty from Impossible Foods touts everything meat-eaters yearn for in a sustainable package—the secret ingredient “heme” gives it a trademark sizzle on the grill and glorious beef flavor. Served with a vegan herb aioli, pickled red onions, a crisp side salad, and pickle spears, become the architect of your dream burger and experience impossible."

As always, Munchery items come well labelled, with full ingredients and nutrition info, along with preparation instructions.

My box showed this meal clocking in at 960 calories, but the online nutrition stats said 760.  Not sure which was accurate, or why they disagreed by a fairly large margin.  It was also a bit surprising, given that the side dish was just a very small salad, and there wasn't cheese or anything on the burger.  It did have an impressive 44 grams of protein though!
Packaging.
The packaging was fairly impressive, nearly every component done differently.  Two items came in plastic bags, sized appropriately for each.  Two came in small plastic containers.  Another in a bigger plastic container.  Another in a smaller yet.  Everything held together in a box.

The instructions were fairly simple, although, uh, I didn't quite follow them:

"Slice bun.

In The Microwave: heat burger 2-3 minutes, toast bun separate.
In The Oven: Preheat to 350 degrees. Heat 10-12 minutes, or until heated through, add bun for last minute of heating.

To Serve: Top with onion and mayo, add dressing to salad."
Side Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette.
The burger came with a side salad, packaged up in a plastic container, with harissa vinaigrette in its own smaller container inside of that.

It was fine, a base of fresh crispy mixed greens/spinach/romaine, some shredded radish and carrot on top.  The instructions said to use this as a side salad and serve with the dressing, but the photo showed using it as lettuce on top of the burger.  Your choice.  Or do both.

I didn't care for the dressing, strong flavors that didn't seem to compliment each other - harissa paste, strong sherry vinegar, acidic orange juice, tangy dijon mustard ... but I didn't really care.  I did not order this for the salad.
Vegan Bun.
Unlike most Munchery items, the bun actually did require work: slicing.

It was actually a decent bun, not dried out nor stale, not hard, nice shine to it.  Toasted up nicely.
Pickle Spear.
Packaged up in a plastic bag, but not sealed tight, was a pickle spear.

The item description said "pickle spears", plural, so I ding them a point for just including one.

It was a very classic pickle.  Crisp, fresh, juicy, briny.  Good enough, and yes, perfect on the side with a burger.
Pickled Red Onion.
Next, a little container of pickled red onions.

These were stronger flavored than the pickle spear, tart, puckery if you ate them on their own.

They went great with the aioli and burger though, really did complete the package.

This quantity was more than generous, so I had plenty left over to use in a salad later.
Vegan Herb Aioli.
Also in a container, vegan herb aioli.  The component, besides the burger itself, I was most skeptical about.

I didn't need to be.  It was fantastic!  Creamy, herby, garlic-y, flavorful.  I think it had rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley.  I certainly wouldn't have known it was vegan.   I loved it, particularly when paired with the pickled onion.
Impossible Burger Patty.
The patty came in a plastic bag.

It was actually far bigger than I expected, hard to see here, but, a hefty burger, for sure.  More than a quarter pound, certainly.  I'm sure this is part of the reason why the entire meal has at 44 grams of protein; there isn't much in any other component, and this could easily be two normal burger patties.  Impossible Foods, the makers of the patty, say that a 3 ounce portion has 20 grams of protein, so, if this was more like 5 ounces as I estimate, that would basically add up, assuming the bun contributes a bit of protein too.
Pink Inside!
I sliced the patty in half, so I could try different heating techniques.

I'll admit, I have read a lot about this thing, I know people say it is like meat, but, wow.  Look at it!  Pink inside!

The only sad thing is that since this was through Munchery, it arrived cooked, not raw, medium.  Which would be perfect, except I needed to warm it further, so my end cook state wouldn't be this lovely medium-ish. 
Grilling ...
Munchery told me to either microwave for 2-3 minutes or heat in oven for 10 mins.

I certainly couldn't bring myself to microwave it.  I was about to put it in the oven, but at last minute,  I went rogue, and pulled out my grill.

It sizzled very satisfyingly.
Grilled (and topped with my cheese).
I pulled it off the grill, and immediately took a bite.  I didn't even wait to add toppings, assemble my burger, anything.  I was too fascinated.

The texture.  Wow.  It was ... totally like beef.  From the grill, it even got a sear on the outside.  It was well-done at this point, never how I like my beef, but, it remained quite juicy.  And, exactly like a well-done beef patty.  So crazy.

I then topped one half with Swiss cheese, and left it in a hot oven for a moment to melt the cheese.  It was fine, but strangely, I preferred it without the cheese.  I'm really not sure why.
Cheeseless Lettuce Wrap.
The other half I left cheese-less.

I'm not really a big bun-lover, and wanted to taste the burger itself more, so I opted to make lettuce wraps instead, loaded with the pickled red onions, and slathered with that delicious aioli. 

I dunked it into even more aioli.  And into my own ketchup, which complimented everything nicely.
Lettuce Wrap: Inside.
And the verdict?  It was really good.  Not a medium-rare burger like I'd normally order, of course.  But I could easily be convinced this was beef, and Munchery did a great job with the flavorful, complimentary toppings, one creamy, one tart.

How could it be improved?  Well, it would need to arrive less fully cooked, so it would be less cooked once warmed up at home.  I imagine the Munchery beef burgers suffer from this as well.  They could add more decadent toppings, some bacon jam, or cheese, but I'm not convinced any of that is necessary.  I would prefer pickle slices to add on top rather than the spear on the side, as it did need some additional juiciness, and I didn't find myself wanting other toppings like fresh tomato.
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