Friday, July 26, 2019

Living Intentions

I'm addicted to snack foods, and popcorn in particular.  You know this, if you read this blog on Fridays.

I have no shame, and regularly go for the most decadent, least healthy versions of popcorn that there are.  But of course, I would prefer to find ways to enjoy my snack food of choice that are perhaps a bit better for me.

Which is where Living Intentions enters the picture.
"Our activated foods merge sprouted, plant based superfoods, with prebiotics and healing herbs to create foods with extra-ordinary nutritional benefits that give your body what it needs."  
Uh, yeah.  I wasn't so sure about this either.   But still, I learned more.

Living Intentions makes many product lines, all based on superfoods or sprouted foods: superfood popcorn, cereal, and nut blends.  Sprouted trail mix, nuts, seeds.

Popcorn

"It all started with us using popcorn at home as a vehicle to give superfoods to our children and quickly turned into an exciting product idea. Now available for our customers, our Activated Superfood Popcorn is bursting with amazing flavors, nutrient-dense superfoods and the power of live enzymes. Your favorite movie-time snack just entered a higher plane of consciousness!"
The product I wanted to try was the popcorn, as I'm a bit of a popcorn addict, and am always eager to try new brands.  And if they take a healthy slant on it, much, much better for me!

Savory

Living Intentions makes only two varieties of savory popcorn, both far more exciting than your standard plain, butter, or even cheesy popcorn.
Salsa Verde.
"Our Salsa Verde Superfood Popcorn may taste like it came from your abuela’s kitchen because every bite is bursting with fresh ground spices, aromatic herbs and zesty chilies. But it also contains the superfood goodness of spirulina, chlorella and kale."

I started with the stunning green salsa verde popcorn.  It sounded very healthy.

It was ... quite zesty.  Kinda Mexican-ish, as you'd imagine.  I tasted a cheesy quality, which I wasn't expecting, but I later saw nutritional yeast in the ingredients, which is surely where it came from.  It didn't actually taste too healthy, just, zesty and cheesy.

If the idea of a Mexican salsa style popcorn sounds good to you, try it.  It wasn't quite the thing I wanted though.
Tandoori Turmeric.
"Our Tandoori Turmeric Superfood Popcorn may taste like your favorite dish out of New Delhi because every bite is bursting with fresh spices like coriander, cumin and chilies. But it also contains the superfood goodness of turmeric and ashwagandha extract."

I moved on to the bright orange Tandori Turmeric, just to try it.  I knew it wasn't likely to be my spice blend of choice, and, well, it wasn't.  It was very flavored though, so if the thought of tandoori spices in your popcorn appeals, try it!

 Sweet

They also make two sweet offerings, and again, no basic kettle corn here.
Cinnamon Twist.
"Our Cinnamon Twist Superfood Popcorn may taste like a cheat-day pastry, but every bite is bursting with the superfood goodness of maca root, mesquite pod and maple."

Ok, now we were talking: a sweet offering!

The "twist" on the Cinnamon Twist might have referred to ... the maple sugar? The maca root?  I'm not sure.  I was weary of the nutmeg in it, but luckily it wasn't overpowering.

This was just a sweet cinnamon popcorn, with a bit of an aftertaste from Stevia.  I didn't taste the maple sugar though, sadly.

Overall, a bit of a letdown, and not something I'd get again.
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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Mike's Pastry, Boston

If you've ever flown out of Boston Logan airport, you have likely encountered Mike's Pastry, a Boston institution, known for its cannoli.  Seriously.  I don't think I've ever boarded a flight there without seeing someone getting on with a Mike's Pastry box, a white box, blue logo, tied up with twine.

Mike's is famous, and people go kinda crazy for it.  At least, tourists certainly do.
"Founded in 1946, Mike’s Pastry is located in Boston’s historic North End on Hanover Street. Michael Mercogliano (the “Mike” behind the famed Mike’s Pastry) created the one-of-a-kind cannoli that keeps loyal Bostonians and tourists coming from around the world to enjoy. Going to Mike’s has become a Boston tradition when in town whether visiting family, friends, sporting events, college, or any other event. We hope that you continue the tradition and come see us and grab a pastry."
The North End, original, location is a madhouse, always.  But, they opened a location in Cambridge, right off Harvard Square, and after dinner nearby at Alden & Harlow, we decided to swing by to pick up some backup dessert.  Because, um, me and dessert.

To be honest, I don't really like cannoli that much, and I knew I had thought "eh" when I had Mike's before, but I was happy to try again.
Menu.
I was shocked to find that there were literally no crowds.  One family sat on the side eating a pastry.  A couple came in after us.  And that ... was it.  So very very different from the North End location.

It gave me a chance to actually see the goods, as you usually can't due to the hoards.  They also had a menu posted on a chalkboard, although it was fairly general, included everything they make regardless of it they had it, and, had no prices.  Pastries, cupcakes, cakes, cookies, cannoli.  Got it.
Cakes, Cupcakes, etc.
 It was better to look with our eyes anyway.  The lineup was vast, all fairly super sized creations, large slices of assorted cheeseake, layer cakes, and Boston cream pie.  Italian cookies, right alongside whoopie pies.  A large selection of huge brownies, fudgy, and loaded with toppings.  "Cupcakes" that really were decadent looking mini cakes, with fairly involved toppings.  And don't forget all the cream filled items, cream puffs in several varieties, eclairs, and GIANT lobstertails.

I really was eyeing the lobstertail, but it was truly enormous, and we had just had a huge feast, and no one else wanted it.  They just wanted to all try a cannoli.
Cannolis.
 So we moved straight to the cannoli, available in many flavors, mostly with classic mascarpone filling and different toppings.
Pistachio Cannoli. $4.50.
Our group of 5 had two people who had never had a cannoli before, one person who doesn't eat dessert, and one person who really wanted a cannoli.  And me.  So we got only two, and let the person who actually likes cannoli pick it.

He went for pistachio.

The cannoli was ... fine?  Again, I just don't find the shell very interesting (just a pastry shell), and the filling, while rich and thick and creamy, just isn't enough to excite me.  Pistachio was good for crunch and didn't detract.

My review remains the same.  "Eh, its a cannoli."  Probably a very good one, but, just a cannoli.
Mike's Pastry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Somi Somi Soft Serve & Taiyaki

Somi Somi is a soft serve and taiyaki shop in Cupertino, part of a chain throughout California, with ambitions to expand more.
"Somisomi can be found all over the U.S., offering irresistible Korean-inspired soft serve in ornate fish-shaped cones. We were founded by two dessert enthusiasts whose love for ice cream led to SomiSomi. Our company delivers unforgettable, personalized ice cream experiences with a Korean flare."
Yes, another trendy ice cream shop featuring taiyaki cones.  Another place with ridiculously long lines.  Another place with everyone stopping to take photos before eating their creations.

I know, I know.  But I don't care if you think these things are made for Instagram, and aren't otherwise worthy.  Because Somi Somi has legit good soft serve ice cream.  And as a lover of soft serve ice cream, that is the part I care about.

Somi Somi makes 11 base flavors, although each shop only carries a few at a time.  They pre-announce the next week's upcoming swirls though, so you know what is coming up next.  The range includes a few basics ("milk", chocolate, coffee), a few fruity (strawberry, banana), a few interesting (Oreo, horchata) and a few Asian inspired (matcha, milk tea, black sesame, ube).

I sought out Somi Somi specifically for the ube soft serve, but I hoped that black sesame would be an option too (even better if swirled!).  I called ahead to make sure ube was on offer, and, I was told that this location (Cupertino) always has ube.  YES.  On my visit, the other options were matcha and Oreo (or swirled), and milk (which could swirl with the ube).  I sampled both the ube and milk on their own, and decided to get the swirl.  I'll cut right to the chase: this is the best ube soft serve I've ever had.

Soft serve is available on its own in a cup, or, as nearly everyone opted to do, with a taiyaki cone. They don't even carry regular cones.  One other interesting thing to note - if you get the taiyaki cone, you have the option of having it served "rightside up", e.g. in the cone, with the taiyaki as your cone, or "upside down", in a bowl, with the cone upside down on top.  I haven't seen other places so explicitly make this an option, but, I think I quickly saw why they do.  More on this soon.  And yes, this was also the best taiyaki cone I've ever had.
Taiyaki Making.
Like most places, Somi Somi has the taiyaki molds right in front of you at the store, and the aroma of freshly waffling cones fills the air.  It really does draw you in.

The taiyaki options at Somi Somi were the most extensive I've seen at places like this.  For filling, for the cone style, you could pick from fairly common custard, red bean, or Nutella, but they also had taro filling as an option, which made me quite pleased.  These are not made to order, but seemed fairly fresh.

For regular taiyaki, as in, just taiyaki, not the cone style, they also have a cheese version, which sounds pretty fascinating.  Unlike the cones, those are made to order, so the cheese would be melty, and I think would be great to try.  The little filled taiyaki are available in singles or trios, and seemed fairly popular too.  I'd love to try these next time, maybe split a ice cream version, and get at least one on the side?
Toppings.
The only negative I have to say is that ordering is a bit chaotic, as the place is just packed, and no one seems to really know where they should be.  The line went out the front, and down the sidewalk, but inside was filled entirely with people waiting for their turn to customize.  This is because when you get to the front of the line, all they want to know is your base flavor, and style.  Then, you pay, and shuffle off to the side, try to stay out of the way, until your name gets called to specify your toppings.  People seemed generally confused, and, in each other's way.

Finally, our names were called to pick our toppings.  The topping lineup is one area that Somi Somi did let me down.

There was not much exciting here.  Just a few cereals (cocoa pebbles, captain crunch, and fruity pebbles), a few crunchy things (graham cracker, coconut flakes, oreos), and rainbow sprinkles.  No drizzles (I was expecting condensed milk drizzle!).  No mochi.

But, toppings are included for free, although most people seem to just pick one, plus they add an option random mini macaron if you please.
Ube and Milk Swirl / Rainbow Sprinkles / Macaron / Taro Filled Taiyaki Cone. Upside Down. 
So, for my creation, I opted for the milk and ube swirl, even though I really did love the ube on its own too.   I was worried that it would get old after a while on its own, and thus, the swirl.

Both flavors were perfectly rich and creamy, very textbook high quality soft serve.  The "milk" flavor was simple, but not too sweet, and I think it was nice to have mixed with the ube.  The ube was very good, and a stunning purple color.  No complaints on this ice cream, at all.

For my toppings, I just went for the rainbow sprinkles, since I don't really like any of the other options.  I found this to be pretty boring quickly though, and really wanted some drizzle, some other crunch, some mochi ... or even, um, more sprinkles?  Because these ran out fast.  Luckily, I had more in my purse ...

The macaron was fine, but, I still just found it random, and I can't say it added to my experience in any way.

And finally, the taiyaki.  I haven't had that many taiyaki cones, because I haven't really liked the others I have had.  But this one was much, much better.  The cone was softer, and more mochi like.  I really liked the texture and the flavor to it.  No eggy quality to it, which was what I didn't care for at Taiyaki NYC in Boston.  I opted for taro filling, which was good, standard taro paste, and it was more generously stuffed than other places have been.  A good item, which again, made me interested in trying just the regular freshly made taiyaki.

I opted for the upside down version, so I could make my own cone, and add to it as I wanted.  Plus, I knew it wouldn't get soggy too fast that way.  My peers however went right-side up, traditional cone style.  And ... let's just say, their cones didn't hold their integrity very well, and they quickly became major messes.  It was a bit humorous to watch adults struggle so badly with ice cream cones, their shirts covered, their shoes covered, and the sidewalk quickly a puddle of purple.  As much as I think the taiyaki at Somi Somi were far better than other places, in taste and texture, they really did fail as cones fairly spectacularly.  I'd still pick taste over function though!  
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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Jerry Remy's Sports Bar & Grille @ Logan Airport, BOS

Jerry Remy's is a fairly generic sports bar and grille, located in the Boston Logan airport, airside, terminal C.  It is adjacent to the food court with Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts, etc, and doesn't have its own bathroom facilities.

I've walked by a number of times, but never stopped in, until July 2019, when I was at the airport far earlier than I needed to be, and decided to check it out.

The staff mostly ignored everyone, and looked like they hated their jobs.  Signs said to seat ourselves, but no one came to give me a menu, or glance my way, for nearly 10 minutes.  They were not thrilled with life.

The menu was full of things that I'd actually love to try, if I had time to dine-in, or if I was at a reputable restaurants, with tempting appetizers like fried calamari, loaded fries, fresh haddock with a panko breading (or fried, fish & chips if you prefer, or as a sandwich), lobster rolls, and more.  The sides sounded good too, onion strings, sweet potato fries, and more.

But alas, I was just grabbing takeout, so opted for my airport standard: a salad, and a dessert.  My order was quickly prepared, and, actually, the food was slightly above airport average (not a high bar, but, still).  I would consider returning.
Caesar Salad. $11.
"Crisp romaine lettuce tossed with house made Caesar dressing, garlic croutons and grated Parmesan cheese."

For my savory item, I got the most takeout friendly thing I could - a salad, Caesar, dressing on the side.

It was a pretty standard Caesar - torn romaine, both hearts and outer leaves, bite sized chunks. Not the most crispy, but not too wilted.  Some thinly shredded Parmesan.  The garlic croutons were far better than I expected, really herby and garlicky, crisp, not stale nor soggy.  Actually my favorite part of the salad, a shocker since they are usually so forgettable at a place like this.

Overall, all basic, standard components, not amazing, but, decent quality.  It beat my expectations.

But I'm all about dressing.  This is key.  I knew it wouldn't have real anchovy, or be great dressing, but I was thrilled it was at least the creamy style, as I loath the more vinaigrette style of Caesar dressing.  It too was decent, flavorful, well seasoned.  And, provided in a really large condiment container, so I had far more than I needed, which, as someone who likes to save her dressings for other uses, I appreciated.

Overall, not bad, slightly above average, and a good size (this was dinner size, a side size is also available). 
Mega Box.
Dessert options are basic: bowl of ice cream, brownie ice cream sundae, cheesecake, or "Seasonal", which, in the middle of summer, turned out to be "Chocolate lava cake".  Not so seasonal.

I went with a slice of cheesecake, a common move when I'm about to get on a plane (like Yankee Pier in SFO where it was decent enough, and Romano's Macaroni Grill in O'hare - where it was not a winner .  Most of these restaurants buy low end ice cream, so that is out (and not very savable for later), and they certainly don't make their own desserts, so cheesecake is actually a fairly safe bet.

I had to laugh at the packaging, the slice was a reasonable size, but the box was the same size as my giant salad.  Guess they don't have multiple size boxes?
NY Style Cheesecake. $8.
The cheesecake was a decent size slice, served entirely unadorned.  No drizzle of caramel, chocolate, or strawberry goo.  No whipped cream.  Just cheesecake.  Which was fine with me, but, a bit surprising.  No effort put in here.

The cheesecake though was actually good.  Creamy and smooth.  Slight hint of lemon.  Fairly standard cheesecake, nothing earth shattering, but, solidly good.

The crust too was quite decent, a thick back and bottom crust.  Not just soggy, or cardboard like.  It wasn't anything special, not super caramelized or anything like that, but, it was a good crust.

Overall, this really was a fine slice of cheesecake, I'd gladly get another, and I wonder who their distributor is.
Jerry Remy's Sports Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, July 22, 2019

More Jamba Juice

Update Review, 2019

After years, literally, years, of not having, nor even thinking twice, about Jamba Juice, I finally tried it again.

It was a hot day, and somehow, my brain said "smoothie time!" and ... I was walking by Jamba Juice.  That is the only explanation I have for why I went in.

I expect it will be years before this happens again.
White Gummi.  Small.
"Peach Juice Blend, Pineapple Sherbet, Soymilk, Lime Sherbet, Orange Sherbet, Mangos, Raspberry Sherbet."

My first thought when trying this: "Why is it called a white gummi, when .... it isn't white?"

I still don't know the answer to that.  I also don't understand the gummi part either really.  I'd just call it a tropical fruity smoothie ...  I kinda ordered it for the name without really reading what it was.  I thought it would taste like a gummy bear?  (Side note: the source code for the website that lists this drink calls it a "Peach & Pineapple Smoothie", which is totally more accurate!)

It was ... fine.  Sweet.  Fruity.  With so many fruits in there (mango, raspberry, orange, lime, pineapple, peach) no single fruit was very obvious.  Kinda a muddled mix of sweet fruit flavors.  Very sweet.

Add since so many of the ingredients were sherbet, it was very thick.  It melted poorly, with just some juice on the side, and a fairly solid core.  I think it was blended up fine, but ... yeah. I don't really see the appeal to a drink like this.

Original Review, 2014

If you've read my blog for a while, you know that a few years ago I was on a mandatory liquids only diet for a while.  During that time, I had far more than my share of smoothies, many from Jamba Juice.  So I've reviewed it before.  Once I could eat regular food again, I did not return.  But, after several years of eating regular food, I finally did, mostly to check out some of the newer offerings (like fresh squeeze juices) and the elusive Matcha Green Tea Blast.  I'm still just not really into this place.  I don't understand why anyone would choose to Jamba beverage over something else.  Maybe I'm just scared from far too many smoothies.

Creamy Treats

[ No Photo ]
Matcha Green Tea Blast®

The last time I reviewed Jamba Juice, you may recall that I really wanted the matcha green tea smoothie, but it had been discontinued.  Well, it came back, so I got to try it.

It is made with soymilk, nonfat frozen yogurt, plain sorbet, and of course, the matcha green tea.

I was so eager to try it, but ... I didn't like it, at all.  It was very icy, not at all creamy.  Even as it melted, it never went through a phase of being a consistency I liked.  It did have a slight matcha taste, but overall, this was not good at all.

Sadness, after all that anticipation!

Fresh Squeezed Juices

Orange Juice, Large, $4.89.
This was fresh squeezed.  Decent orange juice.  But still ... just orange juice.  $4.89 seemed very expensive for a glass of juice!
Carrot Juice, Large, $4.89.
And, another fresh squeeze juice.  The fresh squeezed part was legit, I watched her put whole carrots into the juicer, and produce my juice.

It tasted like ... carrots.  I've had a fair amount of carrot juice recently, and this somehow tasted less sweet.  I wonder if they use a different kind of carrot?  I actually prefer it a bit sweeter.

But yes, fresh juiced, nice and frothy on top, but again $4.89 felt pricey for a juice.

Classic Smoothies

Peach Pleasure Make-It-Light, Small.  $4.49.
Made with peaches, bananas, orange juice, dairy base.

Apparently the peach idea has appealed to me before, as I found my notes that I'd gotten this, although not the light version, twice before.  Once I thought it was too sweet, once I thought it was ok.

This one, I really didn't like.  It tasted way too banana-y.  And, I didn't realize it had dairy in it, so I was confused by the sorta yogurty taste, although that part makes sense now.

It wasn't refreshing, it wasn't tasty, and I certainly don't want another.
Jamba Juice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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