Friday, December 21, 2018

Rocky Mountain Popcorn

Snacks. Popcorn.  Trying regional items when I travel.  These are some of my favorite things.  So when I visited our Boulder, CO office, I was of course eager to try out the local products, like, Rocky Mountain Popcorn.
Popcorn Bag.
"Rocky Mountain Popcorn® is wholesome kernels as FLUFFY as high-country clouds. A crunch as LIGHT as the mountain air. Now that’s taking your snack to new heights! Taste HUGE.™ "
Uh, ok?  Fluffy, light, and huge.  Got it.

The popcorn is available in 6 fairly standard flavors: "naked", butter, white cheddar, kettle, caramel, and jalapeno.  Nothing particularly novel here.  They do make a product size intended to fit in cup holders, for snacking on the road, which I thought was kinda cute (except, really, is that a problem? A popcorn bag fits quite nicely in my lap thank you very much!)

The parent company, Open Road Snacks, also has a healthier line, called "Sinfully Thin" of lighter popcorn flavors.  "No longer will you be trapped in popcorn purgatory when you unleash the naughty nibbler within," they say.

I tried the simple Rocky Mountain line, as it was all that was available.

I started with the "Naked".  The most basic flavor of all, just popcorn and canola oil.  I tried it just to understand the foundation of their goods, not because plain popcorn is remotely interesting to me.  It was ... popcorn.  No unique aspects, there just isn't much to say.
Butter.
"Crunchy and salty, exploding with buttery flavor. Just like you're at the movies. Need we say more."

I moved on to the butter popcorn.

Movie theater popcorn.  That is how I'd sum this up.  It looked exactly like movie theater popcorn, with an extreme, unnatural looking, orange hue.  Except, from a sealed bag, and not actually dripping in warm melted butter.  Not nearly as fun as real movie theater popcorn.

The kernels were indeed large, all well popped, and evenly coated in "butter flavor" (and, corn oil).  A nicely made product.  But it was also boring.  The butter flavor wasn't the decadence you get from real, fresh butter.

It also was not a light popcorn.  I was amazed that the single serving bag was 260 calories.

Meh, not worth it.
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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Update Review, December 2018

Sprinkle: Birthday cake topped with vanilla buttercream and colorful non pareil sprinkles.
"This cheery birthday cake is loaded with rainbow sprinkles and topped with vanilla buttercream frosting. Adorned with crunchy rainbow non-pareils, your only birthday wish will be for many more!"

It has been years since I've reviewed Sprinkles cupcakes, because, well, I never really liked them before.

But I recently attended an event where the only sweet item was mini Sprinkles cupcakes, and they had a flavor I never tried before, so, I gave them a try.  I went for the most exciting flavor: sprinkle!

I pulled off the garnish on top, and, uh, I really loved it.  Yes, just printed on fondant, but it was sweet, crispy, and, well, totally what I wanted it seems.

This was a good sign?

The frosting was quite sweet, and I think I liked it.  It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't particularly good.  I mean, it was sweet, and there was lots of it, so, that was good?  I think I was indifferent to the frosting.  I did love the crunchy non-pareils on top.
Sprinkle: Inside.
The cake was "birthday cake", so, funfetti style, little pops of rainbow color throughout but no flavor from the colors, no texture difference either.  The cake had a decent crumb to it, but I didn't care for the flavor, it tasted slightly stale to me.

So, overall ... yeah, still not into these cupcakes.  Nothing *wrong* with it, but really not a particularly good cupcake.

Original Review, February 2015

I love desserts, you know this.  But cupcakes are rarely near the top of my list.  Even during the height of the cupcake craze, they never did it for me.  Believe me, I tried, but all the top places on Yelp in the area failed me, like Sibby's Cupcakery, Cup and Cake's Bakery, Cako, or Delessio.

Sprinkles was one of the originators of that craze, credited with being one of the first cupcake bakeries in the US, and certainly the first on the West Coast.  It took a while for them to reach the Bay Area, and even though the general cupcake fad had passed, I remember people being very excited for the Palo Alto location opening.   They even make cupcake ATMs.  I figured if any cupcakes were going to be good, these would be it.

Spoiler: I didn't like them.  The cake was always too dry, and the cupcakes were all homogenous throughout, lacking the moist interior and crispy exterior I prefer.  The frostings were all too sweet, and there was too much applied.

I won't be trying more.
Salty Caramel.
"These fleur de sel granules are a delightful complement to the sweet, buttery caramel which flavors both the cake and frosting."

I didn't care for the cake at all.  It was fairly dry, and I really didn't taste caramel.

The frosting was super sweet, I guess caramely, and it seemed a bit cream cheesy.  The salt crystals on top were really good however, and complemented the sweet well.

[ Subsequent review: I again found the cake really dry and uninteresting.  The frosting however was nicely sweet, and I certainly detected cream cheese in it.  The edible decoration was also tasty. ]
Red Velvet.
"Southern style light chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting."

This is their signature flavor, made with Callebaut chocolate.  Also available in gluten-free or sugar free, although, if you want a gluten-free cupcake, I recommend the vanilla ones from Kara's Cupcakes.

I'm never a big fan of red velvet.  This was no exception.  It had a decent chocolate flavor to it, but way too much sweet cream cheese icing.  Meh.  My least favorite of the flavors I tried.
Strawberry.
"This juicy cupcake is made with ripe, succulent strawberries pureed into both its cake and frosting."

This sounded promising.

But ... the cake was still a dry, consistent style that I don't really like, and it didn't have any flavor.   Where were the strawberries pureed in it?

The frosting was really lovely however, with a strong strawberry flavor, although still a bit too sweet.  The strawberry flavor in the icing was very ... fruit forward!
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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Bar Roma, SYD Domestic Airport

Bar Roma is a "Coffee, Bistro and Bar", located in the Sydney airport, immediately after security.
My Treats.
Their marketing makes it sound a bit more exciting than it really is:
Bar Roma blends the mood and feel of a traditional pasticceria or trattoria with the convenience of a contemporary retail outlet. 
Bar Roma’s décor is blond wood and bold colours, and its merchandising draws on the authentic flavours and unique warmth of a true Italian offer. The seating area is supported by a range of styles, including lounge, dining and café.  As well as Roman thin crusted pizzas and great pastas, Bar Roma offers an extensive breakfast menu - cooked to order.  Bar Roma has a full bar stocked with a great range of local and imported wines with beers on tap. 
Relax in front of the mega TV screen and enjoy Bar Roma at Sydney Qantas Domestic Terminal and Brisbane Qantas Domestic Terminal.
How great does that sound? A pasticceria or trattoria ... in an airport!  Uh, no.

I jest, but it did have excellent, excellent onion rings.  I'll be back.  I still get hungry remembering them.
Counter and Bar.
What Bar Roma is in reality is a counter where you can order coffee drinks, pastries, and pre-made sandwiches as quick takeaway, or from a more extensive menu, where you can given a buzzer to wait.  You pick up your own food at the bar, where you can also order drinks and bar snacks.
Seating.
They *do* have a variety of seating as advertised, but, when I was there, every seat was taken.

The pastries didn't look very good, but I wanted a baked good to take on my flight to have in a few hours, so I got one anyway.  And a bar snack, because, well, fried food sounded good at the time.  One of these things was great.  The other, awful.
Scone with Jam & Butter. $5.
The cashier wanted to heat my scone up, but I told her I was getting it to take on my flight, and she insisted on heating it anyway.  "You'll want it heated," is what she said.  I think she knew how bad these were.

The scone was horrible.  Really, horrible.  Dry.  It tasted like ... cardboard.  Flavorless.  Horrible texture.  It had a few raisins in it.

Really, really not good.  Served normally with cream and jam, but, she wouldn't give me cream for takeaway, offering packets of butter and Kraft strawberry jam instead.

Anyway.  Such a bad scone.
Onion Rings with Sweet Chili Sauce. $8.
The bar snacks menu had a number of tempting fried options.  Spicy battered potato wedges with sour cream.  Fried pickle chips with aioli.  Calamari frito.  And onion rings.

I was really, really, really craving onion rings.  I had some truly disappointing ones at the Fish Butchery in Paddington a few days prior, and intended to go for onion rings somewhere else earlier that day, but, a huge rainstorm derailed my plans.

Given how poor reviews of Bar Roma are, and how badly I was craving these, I assumed I'd be really, really disappointed by the rings.

The onion rings took about 10 minutes to be prepared.  I was given a pager, and waited for it to go off, then claimed my prize at the bar.

And a prize indeed they were!  These were fantastic onion rings.  Really, really fantastic onion rings.  I don't understand how they were so good.

Perfectly crispy.  Salty. Not too oily.  Great flavor in the batter.  All assorted sizes.  You could taste the onion.  Not slimy.  The coating didn't fall off.  I have nothing negative to say about these rings.  I adored them.

The sweet chili though ... I didn't like.  Which confused me, as I love sweet chili sauce.  I also hated the Heinz bbq sauce available on the bar.  But ... they went great with ketchup I snagged in the Qantas club.

I loved these hot and fresh.  I loved them as they cooled down a bit and I brought them to the Qantas club to finish off.  I loved them cold, later, on my flight.

I don't understand how they were so good, but, I highly, highly recommend.  I'll gladly get them again, or venture out to one of the other fried items.
Bar Roma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

QF436, SYD-MEL, Business Class

Flight Details:
  • Flight QF463, SYD-MEL
  • Aircraft: 737-800
  • Departure: 6:30pm (scheduled) 7pm (actual)
  • Arrival: 8:05pm (scheduled)
  • Seat: 2D
Dinner Meal.
This was a quick, simple flight.  Not an exciting review, I know.  Domestic flight from Sydney to Melbourne.

Cabin & Seat

The business cabin is a 2-2 layout, only 3 rows.
2-2 Business Cabin.
Seats are quite wide, and fairly comfortable.  
Seat Controls.
Simple controls for reline, "back comfort control", legrest, footrest.  The seat was fairly comfortable though.

No power at seat.

Amenities & Service

Not much in terms of amenities, no wifi, no in-seat screens, only the front row had tv screens playing safety video and Qantas news. 

Bottles of water awaited us at the seats.

Service was excellent, even though such a short flight . I was impressed with how the FA showed us the bottles of wine as she offered them, even though there were not choices.

Cuisine

Pre-takeoff we were offered ... sparkling water.

I'm sure this is a sad thing for some people - why not sparkling wine! - but for me, I thought it was great.  I always drink sparkling water, and normally pre-takeoff drinks are limited to sparkling wine and still water.
Drink and Meal Cart.
Soon after we were underway, a meal was offered from the cart.  Two options, a hot item of a chicken curry with gai lan, shiitake mushrooms, etc over jasmine rice, or, a smoked salmon salad with Chardonnay dressing.  One single red wine (Shiraz), one single white (Riesling, from Western Australia).  Still or sparkling water.  I was again thrilled with the sparkling water.

A bread basket was also presented, with simple sliced bread, and all meals came with a cupcake for dessert.
Sparkling Water, Riesling.
.For wine, I opted for white to start my journey.

It wasn't very interesting.  Not harsh, not acidic, but also it didn't have much going on at all.  Eh.
Dinner Tray.
I planned to skip the meal since I nibbled in both the Qantas Club and Qantas Business lounges (review coming soon!), and had really excellent onion rings from Bar Roma, but, some veggies sounded good, so I did go for the salad.

It, along with the dessert, were served at the same time on try.
Smoked Salmon Salad with Hardboiled Egg and Chardonnay Dressing.
The salad was ... ok.  Some elements were good, but, I wasn't really into it.  A nice light option that did have sufficient protein though, if that is what you are going for.

The lettuce was fresh and crisp.  The green beans were fresh and crisp, blanched.  Both the highlights of the salad.

The potato was nicely cooked, not too mushy, and actually kinda satisfying (guess I wanted carbs?).  I didn't have the egg, olives, or tomato.

The salmon was ... not great.  Kinda slimy.  Not smoky.  I didn't care for it at all.

The real issue was the dressing.  There was way too much of it, it was oily, and I didn't like the flavor.  It ruined even the lettuce and beans for me.
Dessert Box.
The dessert came in a little box, with a shelf life of many months, although it also said it was for consumption of the day of the flight only.
Simmone's Kitchen:Hummingbird Cupcake.
I was impressed with how it looked though, it did seem fairly fresh.

It was ... ok.  Basically, a sour cream carrot cake with pineapple and cream cheese frosting.  The cake was fairly dry, and had a slightly odd flavor to it.  I wasn't really into it.

The cream cheese frosting was fantastic though, good cream cheese flavor, very creamy.  I really liked the frosting.
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