Friday, January 17, 2020

This Bar Saves Lives

Update Review

Remember when I tried some granola bars made by this bar saves lives, and deemed them almost good?  And I lamented that I didn't get to try the best sounding flavor?  Well, I finally did. 
Peanut Butter & Jelly.
"The Peanut Butter & Jelly bar will bring back the best memories from your childhood. They're packed with crunchy peanuts, sweet strawberries, and creamy peanut butter."

The PB&J uses a different base, it has a "Fruit and Nut Mix", with peanuts, strawberries, cranberries, and peanut butter, rather than the "Nut and Seed Mix" of almonds, sunflower, and flax seeds the others bars use.  To this they add oats and crispy rice, honey and brown rice syrup, and a few other things.  But no flax.  Finally, no flax.

This bar was much more successful.  No bitterness from flax.  I liked the mix of nuts and other crunchy things and the sweet, gooey binding.  And, well, it tasted like pb & j!  Plenty of peanut flavor due to the peanuts and peanut butter.

Hands down my favorite of their bars, and, if I needed a granola bar, I'd get it again.

Original Review, April 2016

How do you not get drawn in by the name of this company?  Saving lives seems ... good?

So I tried some bars from This Bar Saves Lives, because as you know, I'm on an unending quest to find snack bars I actually like.  Like many, the bars tick a bunch of boxes:  the bars are all-natural, non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher, Rainforest Alliance certified, etc.

As you can probably guess from the name of the company, there is a bit more to it, and for every bar you buy, a packet of life-saving food is donated.  So, actually, sorta, the bars save lives.

The bars are available in 4 flavors, I was able to try 3.  Sadly, the one that sounds the best (Peanut Butter & Jelly!) is the one I wasn't able to find.

They are all made with a "Nut and Seed Mix" of almonds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds.  The nuts add a great crunch to all the bars, but, I really can't stand flax seed in general, no matter how subtle it is.  The bars are sweetened with brown rice syrup and agave, nicely a bit sticky, and sweet enough to feel like a treat.  All have crispy rice puffs too, again, more crunch that I enjoy.

So, a very solid base for all the bars, crispy and a bit gooey, sweet.  But, none quite did it for me, due to the flax (and, the cranberries they hid in all of them).  As I told Ojan, these were really, really almost good!
 Dark Chocolate Cherry & Sea Salt.
"Packed with crunchy almonds, tart cherries and cranberries, and drizzled with antioxidant rich dark chocolate."

The first one I tried was drizzled in dark chocolate.  Because, chocolate.

It had a good quality dark chocolate drizzle on top and a coating on the bottom.  Unlike many bars, the chocolate wasn't lost and wasn't an afterthought.  The bar had a good crunch, and I liked the crisp rice even.  The tart cherries went nicely with the dark chocolate.  I really wasn't a fan of the cranberries that were snuck in though (not in the name!)

But, the real problem, is that I could taste the bitter flax seeds, and I really don't like flax seeds.  My second favorite of the flavors though, I do like the dark chocolate.
Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey.
"Perfectly balanced with subtle notes of vanilla and honey, and packed with crunchy almonds and Omega-3 rich flax seeds."

Next I went for the most boring sounding one.

Again, it had a good base of crispy rice and crunchy nuts, nicely sweetened with agave and brown rice syrup.    I really liked the crispy rice, which is so strange, as I usually don't in bars.  And I liked the crunchy nuts.  And the almost gooey sweetness.  But ... again, the slight bitterness from the flax threw me off.

This was my least favorite flavor, only because it was so plain.
Wild Blueberry Pistachio.
"A delicious and healthy blend of nuts, seeds and antioxidant rich blueberries."

And finally, wild blueberry pistachio.

This turned out to be my favorite of the bunch, and was almost really quite good.  I liked the addition of the pumpkin seeds, and, blueberry and pistachio actually do go together quite nicely, not something I would have expected.

But alas, flax seeds and the cranberries made it not enjoyable in the end.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Sweet Sam's Baking Company

Sweet Sam’s Baking Company is a bakery ... but certainly not a local mom and pop shop, although it did start as a couple passionate about making the best pound cake, based on using quality butter.  They are based in the Bronx, but their products are sold wholesale, and are distributed nationwide.  I see them in cafes and markets around San Francisco regularly.
"Sweet Sam’s bakes premium quality all-butter goods for businesses of all sizes, from neighborhood cafes, coffee bars to all gourmet foodservice establishments. We provide our customers with the finest bakery products such as sweet loaves, crumbcakes and cookies."
The product line up has one key focus: butter.  All butter.  They make mostly breakfast pastries (scones, croissants, muffins, coffee cake), along with the aforementioned pound cakes, dessert bars, cookies, and cupcakes.  Many come individually packaged for retail.

I've had a chance to try an assortment of items.

Pound Cakes

"All loaf cakes are made with AA sweet butter and fresh eggs. All are center cut."
Sweet Sam's makes a slow of different pound cakes, available as individually packaged slices, or pre-cut loaves.  They are quite popular, sold at local coffee shops, but also at higher end places like Whole Foods.
"From the traditional classic to our famous Iced Lemon, these buttery loaves melt in your mouth. Made of the freshest ingredients in a variety of natural flavors, the result is moist and rich with a velvety smooth finish."
The range is extensive, including basic plain or marble pound cake, a bunch of nutty or fruity breakfast/brunch offerings (pumpkin with raisins/walnuts/pumpkin seeds, banana walnut, cranberry walnut, orange poppyseed, raisin), and of course, just sweet and dessert like (chocolate chip, iced red velvet cake, iced gingerbread, iced double chocolate, chocolate frosted double chocolate, iced carrot).
Iced Lemon Cake.
"Our most popular cake is a slightly tart pound cake covered in lemon juice icing with lemon zest throughout." -- Sweet Sam's

"An all–time favorite, slightly tart and covered with lemon zest icing." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

I am not generally one for cake (frosting yes, plain cake, no).  And I'm not one for lemon desserts.  But, we had these for breakfast at an event I was attending, so, I gave it a try.  I don't shy away from cake for breakfast!

It was ... well, packaged lemon pound cake.  It was very moist, to the point of almost being gummy.  Too buttery it seemed.  And yes, it had a tart lemon flavor.

The icing was only on the very top, but it was a thick layer, and intensely lemon flavored.  So, not for  me.
Banana Walnut Pound Cake.
"Rich banana cake made with whole ripe bananas and loaded with walnuts."

I never imagined that I would like this.  I never really care for banana bread.  I never really like cake.

So why did I try it?  Well, my cafe turned it into french toast the first (and second) time that I had it, and it was insanely amazing.  Crazy rich pound cake used in french toast just changes the (otherwise boring) french toast scene entirely.

It inspired me to try the pound cake eventually on its own, not as french toast.

It was ... well, banana pound cake.  Banana bread, just a bit sweeter, a bit denser, a bit richer, more of, well, a cake than a bread.  Still banana bread, but, significantly better in my mind.  I loved how moist it was, and really like the walnuts in it.

For a loaf cake, I enjoy this, and regularly get a slice before they turn it into french toast, but, it is hard to pretend it is breakfast appropriate, it really, truly is cake.
Chocolate Loaf Cake with Vanilla Frosting / Iced Double Chocolate Pound Cake.
 "Rich double chocolate chip cake, loaded with semi-sweet chocolate chips and topped with a tangy creem cheese icing. " -- Sweet Sam's

"Double Chocolate Pound Cake filled with semi-sweet chocolate chips and topped with cream cheese icing." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

I ordered this one after liking the banana cake, opting for something more actually desserty.  I thought the double chocolate would be a fantastic hit.

This one was not a favorite for me.  It was definitely a dessert item, a pound cake, absolutely not something you could pretend is breakfast.

Yes, it was a moist, dense, chocolate cake.  Yes, loaded with chocolate chips, for great texture and intense chocolate flavor.  Yes, generous icing that was clearly cream cheese based, tangy.

But for me ... eh.  Just chocolate cake.  Perhaps that is just me though, I'm never exited about cake.
Gingerbread Loaf Cake.
"Rich and dense cake flavored with ginger, cinnamon and spices. Topped with tangy cream cheese icing."

For the holidays, Sweet Sam's makes a gingerbread loaf cake.  I'll admit that gingerbread is not exactly exciting to me, and obviously nor is cake, but ... sometimes the holiday mood is right!

The cake was moist, dense, and rich, with a lovely spicing and decently strong gingerbread flavor.  I'd be bored with just the cake, but the cream cheese icing was very sweet and a perfect compliment, although I wanted far more ... I felt this was enough icing for about half the slice, not the whole thing.

Overall, it hit the spot, during the holiday season, paired with a glass of dessert wine, and ... with far more icing.

Coffee Cakes

"Take rich cake made with fresh eggs and sweet cream butter. Then add fruit. Or chocolate chips. Or walnuts. Or nothing. And top it off with a heaping layer of rich, crunchy crumbs and a pinch of cinnamon. Addictive."
Sweet Sam's makes a variety of coffee cakes, all of which look pretty good, as they are loaded with mix-ins and toppings. Crumb cake, crumb cake with apples/blueberries/chocolate chips studded throughout, or a very streusel heavy one.  You can guess which one I immediately went for.  I'm all about the streusel!
Coffee Streusel Cake.
"Baked in the German style. Buttery coffee cake with a layer of cinnamon streusel baked in the middle. Topped with more brown sugar topping." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"This cake is a little different from our traditional crumb cake. A rich walnut filling through the middle separates two layers of rich, buttery cake. Those three layers are then topped with an irresistible mixture of finely chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and sugar. There's no coffee in the cake, but the fit is so natural we had to put it in the name."  -- Sweet Sam's

Like many Sweet Sam's products, the coffee streusel cake came individually packaged for retail.

It didn't exactly look amazing, and I'm not one for cake, but, the sugary coating on top, and the generous visible filling drew me in.  It also wasn't a light item, the serving size listed on it was 1/2 a piece, because, you know, you buy an individually packaged item and eat just half.
Coffee Streusel Cake: Side View.
It was about what I expected.

The cake itself, just a boring cake.  Moist, but not remarkable in any way.  Sure, rich and buttery as advertised, but, plain cake.  The top and bottom of it were both darker brown, and seemed almost burnt or stale.

The top was a fairly traditional streusel, cinnamon and sugar based.  It helped mask the mediocre top of the cake.

And the part that really drew me in, that filling?  Yeah, it was fine.  Very moist, finely chopped walnuts, cinnamon, sugar.  Sweet, fairly flavorful.  Tasty enough.

So, overall, yes, fine.  For a packaged coffee cake, good even.  But for me, I wanted whipped cream, and I wanted more from it.  Which I could add of course, warming it up, adding a scoop of ice cream, a mound of whipped cream, some sauce ... but at 520 calories already, that felt a bit hard to justify.


"Our traditional Irish buttermilk scones are well-leavened and oven-baked for a dense and crumbly texture. Then loaded up with juicy berries or plump raisins or chocolate chips and sprinkled with coarse sugar."
Assorted Scones.
Sweet Sam's makes 3 varieties of scones: blueberry, cranberry, and chocolate chip.

All are square shaped, use the same buttermilk base, and have pearl sugar on top.  I've tried them all.

The scones are more of a biscuit style, with a buttermilk base (slight tang), and fairly cakey.  The base isn't particularly exciting, but the crumb is good.  The scones are decent, not amazing, but, good for a pre-made item.
Blueberry Scone.
"Our traditional buttermilk scone loaded with blueberries and sprinkled with coarse sugar." 

The blueberry scones were indeed loaded with blueberries as promised.  The berries were flavorful and large.  I slathered on some additional blueberry jam and some whipped cream, and really quite enjoyed this, but it was more of a dessert shortcake style biscuit than a breakfast scone.

My favorite of the scones.
Cranberry Scone.
"Our traditional buttermilk scone loaded with moist, juicy cranberries and sprinkled with coarse sugar."

The cranberry version was much the same, just with large cranberries in place of the blueberries.  They too were generously distributed, and juicy, but, since I don't really like tart cranberries as much, I liked this less.

My least favorite of the three, but due to personal preference.  I bet this would be good with orange marmalade to complement the tart cranberries.
Chocolate Chip Scone.
"Our traditional buttermilk scone with semi-sweet chocolate chips and sprinkled with coarse sugar."

And finally, the crowd favorite: chocolate chip.

The chips were standard chocolate chips, and, yup, tasted like chocolate.  My second favorite, and again better with whipped cream.


And finally, cookies, another product I'm not normally very excited for.  Sweet Sam's only makes 3 types of cookies: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and, black & white.  I tried the later.
Black & White Cookies.
"Pound cake base with a heavy hand decorated black and white frosting." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Soft cake-like cookie with a rich dark chocolate frosting and white fondant icing." -- Sweet Sam's

"A New York classic, this cookie combines a soft cake-like cookie with a rich dark chocolate frosting
and white fondant icing." -- Sweet Sam's

These were massive cookies.  Not really a single serving.  They were also entirely not my style.

Soft, cake-like base, basically just a thin pound cake.  Serious meh.

The chocolate frosting and white frosting were both good, thick, sweet, tasty, but not enough to liven up that boring base.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Waffling Leftovers: Stuffing

Update Review, December 2019

I somehow often have leftover stuffing, and long ago discovered waffling as a fantastic way to re-use my stuffing.  You can start with my earlier reviews below to read more about my early journey into waffling stuffing.

Spoiler: it is an easy winner.
Mom's Pecan Cranberry Cornbread Christmas Stuffing.
The original was one of my absolute favorite holiday dishes: my mom's stuffing she serves for Christmas eve dinner, made with her own cornbread, plenty of tart juicy cranberries, crunchy pecans, and a classic white wine base.

I honestly can't get enough of this stuffing, and regularly eat an extremely inappropriate amount of it.  I love it hot, I love it cold, I most certainly love it straight from the container from the fridge, at *any* time of day.  Shhh, don't tell mom!

I didn't need to do anything special to it to enjoy it, but by the third day of eating yet another portion, it was time to try out the waffle iron ...
Leftover Stuffing in the Iron.
I put zero thought into my preparation technique, just heating up the waffle iron at a standard 350*, and plopping in a scoop.  I may or may not have consumed just as much of it cold as I was putting it into the waffle iron as I put in.
Crispy Stuffing!
It crisped up nicely, as I knew it would, and I dumped it onto my plate of leftovers with glee.

I failed to take a final photo, but, no question, this waffled great, and I loved the extra crunch.

Update Review, October 2017

This is an update of the exact same stuffing I previous reviewed, except, this time it started plucked from the freezer, rather than regular leftovers, because I had so much extra, I froze a bunch too.
Leftover Challah Herb Stuffing.
It transformed in exactly the same way as the original leftovers, much better than simply reheating frozen leftover stuffing.
The Original: Thawed, Previously Frozen, Leftover Stuffing.
The original was more of the same stuffing I loved before, but this time, it came from the freezer.  I had tons left over when it was fresh, and froze some immediately then, knowing that I loved it, but there was no way I'd eat it all over the subsequent few days.

I eagerly pulled it out once I was ready for stuffing again, and let it thaw in the fridge for a day.  I heated some up in the toaster oven, and was pretty sadden by the result.  It was just too soggy.  Somehow, it wouldn't crisp up, even in a hot oven.  It was mushy.  The flavor was still there, but, the freezer had done some serious damage (which actually really surprised me, I freeze bread pudding, baked goods, breads, all the time with no problems, but this just really didn't hold up).

I decided to throw the final portion into the waffle iron instead of heating traditionally, as it simply just wasn't good that way, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to try.
Waffling ...
I didn't do anything to it, just put it in, 350 degrees, let it go for a bit.

Since it was so moist, there was lots of steam escaping from the waffle iron, which concerned me slightly, but I didn't really care.  I was going to throw it out otherwise anyway.

I let it go for about 5 minutes, and then took a peek.
Waffled Leftover Frozen Stuffing.
And ... it turned into a waffle!  It got crispy!  The mushy, sogginess was gone!

This salvaged the leftovers that would have been trash otherwise.  I liked the crispy bits, and still loved the flavors.

I have one more container full in the freezer, and there is no question how I'll be preparing the rest of it.

Original Review, January 2017

I don't know how I've failed to write this one up before.  Stuffing was one of the first things I waffled.  I really must have written this, but somehow lost it?  I have no other explanation of how I've never told you about waffling stuffing before.  I promise you, I was doing it *before* it was trendy!

(Side bar: yes, I made a Thanksgiving meal one year entirely out of waffled items.  And another year I made it look like an ice cream sundae, with a stuffing waffle as the base, and ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes on top, drizzled of gravy and cranberry sauce, etc).

Anyway, if this is your first time reading about my waffling adventures, go ahead at start with the master post.

I probably don't need to say it, but, Leftover Stuffing: Will it waffle?  YES!
The Original: Leftover Herbed Challah Stuffing.
The original was herbed challah stuffing, made with a base of challah, celery/onions/leeks/mushrooms/garlic, tons of herbs, and plenty of butter and white wine.

It was great stuffing, and I was more than happy to eat leftovers traditionally.  But on my third day of Thanksgiving leftovers, I finally waffled it ...
Midway Through Cooking.
I scooped in a big pile, and closed the lid, set to 350 degrees, and walked away for a few minutes.

I returned to find a bit of a mess.  A little stuck on top, one corner burning, and nothing really holding together.

Ooops.  I think this is likely just because the stuffing was sooo moist.
Extracted Version.
I let it go a bit longer to try to get it to hold its form better, but it just got crispier, almost burnt.  It was impossible to extract in one chunk.

It it was still tasty.  Crispy outside, moist inside, and fun to dunk into gravy.

I wish I had my photos of the better versions I've made though, because stuffing, or savory bread pudding, really do waffle wonderfully!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

JetBlue Mint, Flight 334, SFO-BOS (July 2017, December 2017, August 2018, December 2018, Dec 2019)

I now regularly fly JetBlue Mint when I visit the east coast, which I do twice a year to see my family, usually once in the summer, once over Christmas. This is a compilation of reviews of all of those flights for the past few years, as I seem to take the exact same flight every time: flight 334, from SFO to Boston Logan.

Summary? JetBlue Mint continues to impress, particularly when you get a single suite, and particularly when they serve amazing pasta. The other food can be hit or miss, but the wine and ice cream are always winners.

December 2019 Flight

Departure: SFO, 11:47am (scheduled) 11:59am (actual)
Arrival: BOS,  pm
Duration: 5h 47m
Seat: 4F (single suite)
Class: Mint


I have nothing new to say here about the Mint single suites, read my previous reviews to learn more.

Food & Drink

No real changes to the food and drink lineup from past flights, same format, same pacing.  One thing to note for those used to flying in Business class and having their meal served ~1 hour after takeoff, Mint takes *considerably* longer, even for drink service, since the crew members actually work the main cabin during their first drink service.   It was 1.5 hours into the flight before I got a drink, and 2 hours before I got my meal (granted, I was in the second to last Mint row, but still, this is fairly late comparatively).

Menu & Ordering

Eastbound Lunch/Dinner Menu.
The menu was as follows:

  • Salt & pepper cashews
Choose three. Please note: The first two dishes listed below are chilled
  • Asian Pear Salad / baby mustard greens, blue cheese, candied hazelnuts, grape vinaigrette
  • Kale & Sweet Potato Salad / spring mix, dried cranberries, walnuts, tahini dressing
  • Carrot Bolognese / reginetti pasta, parmesan, kale pesto, toasted breadcrumbs
  • Chicken & Leek Pot Pie / carrots, parsnips, celery root, puff pastry
  • Ribeye / horseradish mash, broccolini, baby carrots, bordelaise
Enjoy both.
  • ICE CREAM: Dulce de Leche, Double Rainbow, San Francisco CA
  • FRESH FRUIT: citrus, blackberry, strawberry
  • COOKIE, milk bar, NYC and beyond
Decisions were pretty easy for me on this one, although no dish was particularly exciting to me.  No seafood options.  3 vegetarian.  JetBlue makes some great pastas (usually stuffed ravioli or gnocchi), but this pasta wasn't really my style.  Unlikely the ribeye would be good.  So ... the two salads and pot pie it was, all items I've had in the past before and found moderately ok.


Drink Menu.
The drink lineup as always featured a sparkling, two red, and two white wines, plus cider, beer, liquor, soft drinks, tea, and coffee.
  • SPARKLING: Château de Brézé.  Cremant de Loire, NV, France
  • WHITE: Villa Alpini Sauvignon Blanc, 2018, Italy
  • WHITE: The Wonderland Project Sonoma Chardonnay, 2016, California
  • RED: Bodega Chacra Barda Pinot Noir, 2018, Argentina
  • RED: Casanuova delle Cerbaie Rosso di Montalcino 2012
These were all new wines for me to try, and I was looking forward to trying them, as JetBlue has some fabulous quality wines.  And try them I did!
The Wonderland Project Sonoma Chardonnay, 2016, California
"The Wonderland Project was created by sommelier-turned-winemaker Matt Ahern. Through his experience of selling wine in restaurants, he learned how to make a wine that has classic characteristics while also being exciting and unique. Based in Napa and Sonoma, The Wonderland Project focuses on making organic wines that are both delicious and sustainable. This chardonnay is fruity, smoky and not too oaky."

To pair with my meal, I went for a while, the chardonnay, but asked for just a little, as I mostly wanted the red wines.  I couldn't resist "The Wonderland"!  

It was ... fine.  Not too harsh, not acidic, not too oaky, but not as buttery as I was hoping, not particularly exciting in general.

Inoffensive, but that also means a bit boring.
Casanuova delle Cerbaie Rosso di Montalcino 2012.
 "Casanuova delle Cerbaie is situated near the center of Montalcino, a small hillside town in Tuscany. The winery makes only two wines exclusively from the Sangiovese grape, Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino. The 2012 vintage is a richer, more powerful vintage which has come into its own after a few years of aging. It’s full bodied, earthy and smooth."

Next I went for the nicest one on the menu, the "italian red".  Again, a taster to try.

It was a decently full bodied wine, and not tannic, but it was also just a bit too acidic or something for me.  I can't quite pinpoint what I didn't care for about it, but, it was not my favorite.
Bodega Chacra Barda Pinot Noir, 2018, Argentina.
"Bodega Chacra was founded by Piero Incisa, a descendent of the family that makes Sassicaia, when he came across a section of vineyards that had been planted for over 80 years in Patagonia. He decided to start his own project making an Old World style of pinot noir in this remote part of the world. Today, it has become one of the most sought-after pinot noirs outside of France’s Burgundy region. Bodega Chacra pinot noir is light, savory and refreshing."

So lastly, the pinot noir.  I didn't bother with a sampler of this, and just went all in.

It was the best of the bunch, a very drinkable red.  Not too harsh, not too acidic, not too tannic ... just very drinkable, a "table wine" and likely crowd pleaser, although that also meant it wasn't particularly complex. 


Ok, I'll be the grumpy one to say JetBlue really is cutting food quality.  Nuts instead of real appetizer, no seafood ...

That said ... I really did enjoy my meal.
My (reasonably healthy?) feast.
My meal wound up pretty well rounded.  I had fresh fruits and veggies.  I had a warm, creamy, comforting dish.  I had an amazing dessert (more on that soon ...).  I had *plenty* of wine.
Welcome Treat: Salt & pepper cashews.
The "Welcome Taste" however was ... nuts.

Nuts.  Yes, JetBlue swapped out the Welcome Treat to be nuts.  Sadness.  At least they were interesting nuts (cashews) and flavored (salt & pepper), but I really did love many of the past treats (taro chips and yummy dips!), so this is a pretty big letdown.

They were ... uh, cashews.  Not warmed up.  The pepper was too aggressive for me.  I added them to my salad, and they worked that way, but I didn't want to just munch on these at all.

Boo hiss, the only real negative mark I have in this meal.
Lunch Platter.
As always, the rest of the savory food came at once, my three choices, plus a roll with olive oil.

I didn't bother with the roll, it really never is good at all.

I also asked for my salad dressings on the side, having had too many past experiences with over-dressed salads, or dressing I really didn't like.  I may or may not have had other dressing in my bag in case I needed it.

I was really glad they were able to accommodate my request, and even somehow had little vessels to put dressing in available.
Kale & Sweet Potato Salad (Dressing on Side).
"Spring mix, dried cranberries, walnuts, tahini dressing."

I started with a lovely seasonal salad.  The base was a mix of spring mix and kale, good size chunks of both.  I never really love spring mix, but the kale was most welcome.  Both were reasonably fresh and crisp.

I wasn't into the roast sweet potato cubes, but there wasn't actually anything wrong with them, just rather boring, and not my veggie of choice.  Dried cranberries added a lovely compliment of sweetness, and the walnuts were nice for crunch, and some protein, but I really, really wanted them to be toasted or something. 

The tahini dressing was ok - not my style of preferred mayo-based dressing, and a bit thick, but the flavor was interesting, and it did go well with the ingredients.

Overall, a decent enough salad, seasonal, good colors and textures, although not one I'd ever select given other options.  My second favorite savory dish.
Asian Pear Salad (Dressing on Side).
"Baby mustard greens, blue cheese, candied hazelnuts, grape vinaigrette."

I also opted for the other salad, this one with baby mustard greens as the base, which sounded far more unique and interesting than just mixed greens and kale.  Unfortunately, these greens weren't nearly as fresh or crisp as the previous ones, and this was all a bit wilty for my taste.

Also ... I don't like blue cheese, and hoped I'd be able to eat around it.  However, the blue cheese was everywhere, and I couldn't get away from the taste.

The asian pears were good though, crisp and refreshing.  There were also a few grape halves, but they were fairly boring.  Of course I was into the candied hazelnuts, both for crunch (essential to a good salad!) and for, uh, candied things.

The grape vinaigrette seemed more like lemon to me, I didn't really taste grape in it at all.  It was fine, but I'm not a vinaigrette girl really.

Overall, this was not really one I liked, besides the asian pears and candied nuts, and I wouldn't get it again (unless I could get without the cheese?)
Chicken & Leek Pot Pie.
"Carrots, parsnips, celery root, puff pastry."

My final dish was a hot selection, the pot pie.

I've had this in several versions before, but this was one of the better ones.  My only complaint is that it was only quasi warm.

The puff pastry on top was perfect though, soooo crispy right on top, and soft where it touched the creamy filling.  It was also thicker than normal, which I used to my advantage, flaking off the top several layers for later application (remember that dessert thing I hinted at?), and using the rest to dip into the cream sauce below.
Chicken & Leek Pot Pie: Filling.
Under the lid was the lukewarm filling.

It was nicely creamy, although woefully under-seasoned (as in, really, no seasoning at all).   I utilized the salt and pepper shaker from my dining tray heavily.

Now, if I ordered this because I liked chicken, I would have been very, very, very disappointed.  It had ... exactly two, very small, chunks inside.  It was comical even, but I was thrilled, as I don't actually eat chicken, and planned to avoid it anyway.  They made my task easy.

The veggies were all cooked exactly how I like them - al dente.  They still had quite a bit of bite and crunch, which some may not like, but I was very happy with.  I also was really pleased with the selection of veggies, mostly chunks of parsnips and celery root, rather than standard potatoes.  I think it had no potatoes, actually.  Carrots were the only boring one.

Overall, this was nearly good, it just needed to be warmer, and seasoned.  I enjoyed dunking the pastry into the cream sauce, and added kale to it from my salad to make a creamy veggie bowl.
Dessert Round!
And then it was time for dessert, as always, fruit, ice cream, or both.

Fruit: citrus, blackberry, strawberry.
The first platter was mostly citrus (blood orange and regular orange), both nicely of which had the skin and pith removed, and were quite juicy and refreshing.  There were also two blackberries, and two strawberry halves, and quite a bit of mint garnish.

Not the most amazing fruit, but it was juicy and refreshing, and I pulled the berries out to use for my dessert creation.

Again, stay tuned.
Double Rainbow Dulce de Leche & Vanilla (Bean?) Ice Cream.
The ice cream was, as always, two scoops of a random flavor (dulce de leche) and a scoop of vanilla, from a local maker in my city of departure.  Double Rainbow makes both a French Vanilla and a Vanilla Bean, I'm not sure which this was, but I think it was vanilla bean, as it had flecks of something black in it.

The ice cream was served rock solid, so it took a while to be suitable for eating.  Which was fine, it gave me time to brainstorm my next move.

Vanilla Bean:
"Rich vanilla sprinkled with ground vanilla beans."

The vanilla was fine, decent vanilla flavor, simple, classic.  Nothing extraordinary.

Dulce de Leche:
"Velvety caramel ice cream generously swirled with a ribbon of caramel."

The dulce de leche however was great.  Caramel ice cream plus extra caramel swirl?  Yes!  This easily could have been way too sweet, but they nailed it.  Definitely sweet, don't get me wrong, but it was in check.  Great caramel flavor, and I loved the generous swirl.

Double Rainbow ice cream in general isn't particularly special, and this really was served too hard to appreciate it properly, but the dulce de leche was at least a good flavor.
When life gives you components ...
Now, normally, I do plan ahead to make my ice cream experience far more fun than as served.  I don't understand why JetBlue has NO TOPPINGS for the ice cream, as that really would enhance the premium experience and put it more on par with other airlines.  I don't expect a full sundae cart, but ... come on, something!

So I usually bring my own sprinkles, sometimes cherries, sometimes whipped cream, and make a mini sundae.  Sometimes I ask for the cookies early to make a ice cream sandwich.

But this time?  I got more creative.  I saw that the puff pastry to the pot pie was so generous, I didn't need it all for my savory course.  And the top few layers weren't touching the savory food.

So ... what do you get when you put together puff pastry + fruit + ice cream?
My (ridiculous) creation!
Yeah, you get this.

A puff pastry ice cream sandwich!  Or a puff pastry ice cream taco?  Or an ice cream mille-feuille?

I don't care what you call it.  I call it #awesome.

The puff pastry was flaky and buttery.  The ice cream was sweet and finally softening.  The fruit just made it look fancy.  I added sprinkles of course.

I love it, my flight attendant loved it, and really, this made my flight considerably more fun than usual.  I know we tell children not to play with their food, but ...

July 2017 Flight

Flight Details:

Departure: SFO, 11:51am
Arrival: BOS, 8:38 pm
Duration: 5h 47m
Seat: 2A (single suite)
Class: Mint

Another day, another flight on JetBlue, in Mint.  As I said before, I'm ruined at this point.  I can't go back.  Also, on many, many occasions, you can score Mint for less than Virgin America main cabin, which, is just ridiculous.  (To be fair, I've still only ever flown Mint when I've found the $599 fare, I haven't quite bridged that hump yet, so I'll fly slightly less convenient days just to do get that fare!)

Skipping all the regular details since I've reviewed the Mint experience a number of times now.

I was able to score one of the suites (2A), which was again such a treat.  Seriously, pinch me, how is this real?  Sooo much space, so much privacy, and dramatically better than other Mint seats, even though all are the same price.

My flight started very smoothly.

Our flight boarded right at the time listed on my boarding card.  Everyone got on quickly.  We pushed back early.  We got in line for takeoff, we were number 3.  Everything seemed to be going well.

And then, after we had left the gate, after electronics were put away, the PA system came on.  "We regret to inform you that there is no wifi today.  We'll have free movies instead".

Fuuu.  I don't care how nice the seat is, the food is, everything else is.  I was supposed to be working.  I had things I needed to get done before the next day.  I didn't even have a magazine with me.

So, yeah.  Let's just say my flight went downhill fast.

My in-flight crew also seemed relatively new.  They didn't do little things like remove the trash from the blanket packaging, and didn't know how to close the suite doors.  They were friendly enough, but, just not really knowledgeable.

Amenity Kit.

The amenity kit was Hopper branded, with things like a toothbrush and paste, mints, lotion, lip balm, ear plugs, eye mask, and a moist towel.

Blankets and pillows were waiting on the seat, soft and comfortable.

Food & Drink

Menu & Ordering

As I settled in, the menu was distributed.  Again, same as before, appetizer, and then choice of 3 out of 5 dishes, 2 of which are chilled, variety of hot dishes (one veggie, one chicken, one seafood).  Dessert is ice cream, provided by a local ice cream shop in each port of departure, so, for this flight, Double Rainbow, apparently from SF, although I've never had it.  I was a little surprised it wasn't Humphrey Slocombe, Bi-Rite, or some other well known SF ice cream shop ... 
Lunch Menu.
The menu was as follows:

Choose three. Please note: The first two dishes listed below are chilled
  • WATERMELON SALAD / feta, micro basil, toasted pepitas, shichimi togarashi
  • TUSCAN KALE SALAD / cashews, apples, cotija, tahini cashew dressing
  • ZUCCHINI LASAGNA / ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, tomato caper sauce
  • GRILLED CHICKEN PAILLARD / arugula, tomatoes, kalamata olives, parmesan
  • PAN-SEARED SEABASS / parmesan risotto, broccolini, carrot-chardonnay sauce
  • ICE CREAM: Double Rainbow, San Francisco, CA
  • COOKIE, milk bar, NYC and beyond
Since I have a severe watermelon allergy, that dish was obviously out, and I don't like chicken, so, my selections were easy: kale salad, zucchini lasagna, and seabass.  I wasn't necessarily expecting good fish in the air, but the cheesy risotto and carrot-chardonnay sauce sounded potentially tempting.
Wine List.
The wine list was new to me for this flight, as they always mix it up with the menu change.  Still one sparkling, one white, one rose, and two reds, but, different offerings.
  • ROSÉ: MACARI ROSÉ, 2015, North Fork of Long Island
  • RED: BROC CELLARS VALDIGUIÉ, 2016, Green Valley


RefreshMINT (with Vodka).
As always, we were offered the signature cocktail as we settled in, mint limeade, with or without vodka.  I accepted the suggestion of vodka, and really enjoyed my drink, it was the perfect level of sweet, minty, sour, refreshing, and boozy.
Matthiasson Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay, 2016, Napa Valley.
"Top California talents Steve and Jill Matthiasson are back with their irresistible Chardonnay, grown on a historic property right behind their house in the cooler southern end of Napa. This latest vintage is fruit-forward, with lots of fresh, sunny peach and apple flavors but the complexity to match
nearly any dish."

I'm not normally a white wine drinker, but, since I was having salad and fish (well, and lasagna, hmm), I decided to go for white wine with my meal.

This was actually quite nice.  Smooth, buttery, not acidic.  I really enjoyed it, and was pleasantly surprised by the selection.


JetBlue Mint July Feast!

But let's go on to the real review: the dining!

As always, I was served a decent feast, with a starter, choice of 3 small plates, ice cream, and a cookie.  Sadly, it was one of the least memorable.
Welcome Taste: Basil Dip With Blanched Vegetables.
The Welcome Tastes have been some of my highlights on previous flights.  I still drool over the caramelized onion dip, and I adore taro chips, so I've loved all the taro chip varieties.

This one ... didn't quite sound as exciting.  Blanched veggies instead of taro chips?  Nooo.

And, at first glance, yeah, what?  I was given a soggy bag of vegetables.  As in, actually soggy.  Inside was two asparagus spears, three green beans, and two carrots (with tops on).  I had a hard time getting past the soggy bag, but, actually, the veggies were nice.  They were soft yet crisp, just slightly blanched.  They all had decent flavor and snap, the carrots particularly snappy.  While they weren't taro chips, I guess they *were* a more healthy option.  Not bad, really.

The dip was thick and flavorful, very herbacious, but I didn't really like the flavor.  I'm not sure what else was in it.

Better than I expected, and I actually think the veggies would work great with that caramelized onion dip from before.
Tuscan Kale Salad, Zucchini Lasagna, Pan-Seared Seabass, Bread.
As always, my 3 selections arrived on one tray, small plates of each, with bread and oil.

The bread was warm this time (improvement!), but stale and spongy as always, and I didn't actually want it at all.  Really JetBlue, you gotta work on this bread.

Sadly, none of my small plates were very good this time around, probably the weakest of all JetBlue Mint dining experiences I have had.
Tuscan Kale Salad.
"Cashews, apples, cotija, tahini cashew dressing."

The kale salad was ... boring.  JetBlue has served me some really tasty salads before, but this one just didn't have much going on.  The kale was fresh enough, as were the slices of apple (but, apple in July?  Not seasonal!).  The cashews were soft and wet, a bit odd, just like the paper bag for the veggie appetizer.  The dressing was really non-existent though, I didn't really find it, nor taste tahini.

There were red pepper flakes in the salad, not listed on the menu, quite spicy.

Overall, just meh.
Zucchini Lasagna.
"Ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, tomato caper sauce."

The lasagna was much bigger than other offerings, really, a full size slice of lasagna.

It was composed of layers of pasta, a ricotta/parmesan/mozzarella cheese mix, and slices of grilled zucchini.

The zucchini was tender, the ricotta and other cheese mix generous.  I liked both of these components quite a bit.  The pasta was pretty meh, just soft and soggy inside, but I appreciated the crispy top layer.

The sauce I did not like.  It was too sweet, too tangy.  Made up of large chunks of tomato and onion, plus the capers.  I did love the capers.

It also was only lukewarm, a bit sad, since lasagna of all things can heat up well and retain heat.

Overall, I did enjoy the ricotta and zucchini, but, this was clearly "airline food", or "cafeteria food", if you know what I mean.  Kinda like a frozen dinner, just, with a sprig of fresh parsley on top.
Pan-seared Seabass.
"Parmesan risotto, broccolini, carrot-chardonnay sauce."

And finally, the seabass.  I ordered this just because I really didn't want (or couldn't have), the other two options.  I didn't actually expect anything good from fish on a plane.

I was pretty stunned when I saw it though.  I looked beautiful.  The fish was moist and glistening, it had lovely color on top.  I was actually excited at this point, since I do love seafood.

But ... uh, the fish was horrible.  It was stringy.  I've never seen sea bass with a texture like this before.  It was so odd.  And it was very, very, very fishy.  Not good.

Moving on to the parmesan risotto, which I had some hope for, cheesy ricey goodness?  No.  It was soggy mush.  I didn't taste cheese.  This was not good.

On the plus side, I did like the carrot-chardonnay "sauce" much more like a puree, very flavorful.  I dipped my leftover blanched veggies in it.  Also on the plus side, this was served warm?
Matcha Green Tea and Vanilla Ice Cream, Double Rainbow.
"Intense sweetness with the deep flavor of matcha green tea."
"Rich and creamy, a perfect vanilla custard."

The ice cream selection was Matcha Green Tea, 2 scoops, served with a scoop of vanilla as well.  No toppings (I actually packed my own sprinkles in preparation for this, but somehow didn't think straight when packing, and put them in with my checked luggage.   Doh.)

I don't normally have caffeine after noon, and particularly not when it was already 5pm at my destination, so I was pretty sad to see the flavor of the day was green tea, but, let's just say, I wasn't really satisfied by my meal.  Plus, ice cream!

The ice cream was ... ok.  It clearly had been freezer burned, particularly on top.  There was lots of ice chunks inside.  It wasn't very creamy.  Is this just how Double Rainbow ice cream is?  Was it not stored or transported well?  Who knows.  It certainly wasn't great ice cream.

That said, the matcha flavor was great.  They didn't hold back on the matcha component.  The vanilla was decent, flecked with vanilla bean.  I used the vanilla scoop to make an affogado.

Satisfying I guess, but obviously full of flaws.

Decaf Coffee, Dunkin' Donuts.

The decaf coffee was Dunkin' Donuts, pretty standard stuff.  Served in a nice mug.  Perfect for making an affogado.
Confetti Cookie, Milk Bar, New York.
And, the parting gift, a cookie from Milk Bar.  Again, a bit of disappointment with the selection of the day, the Confetti Cookie.  Don't get me wrong, I like the confetti cookie, but, I had it on my flight the previous month, and was hoping for something different.
Protip: Get your cookies & ice cream together!
I finally took my advice from past flights, and asked if I could have my cookie when I got my ice cream.  This way, I could use it to make an ice cream sandwich with the plain vanilla ice cream, and really jazz it up a bit.  I recommend.

December 2017 Flight

I caved.  I actually paid for JetBlue Mint.

Those of you who know me know that I'm ... a miser.  It might not come across that way on my blog, but, when I travel *not* for business, I never splurge.  Economy, no extra legroom, flying on flights that aren't good for my schedule just because they are cheaper.

I got to experience JetBlue Mint when I was able to snag it for the lowest rate ever available as part of a business trip, and, it ruined me, as I told you in great detail.  I did that route again another time, just a few months later, which I've previously reviewed.  And I flew the JFK-SFO route in Mint on my return business trip.  You may start with those reviews if you prefer.

So this year, for the holidays, I decided to splurge, and treat myself.  To be fair, I still did it the cheapest way possible.  I did not consider any flights that were above the cheapest price they ever offer (and most were double that).  I flew two days earlier than I really wanted to.  And ... I had travel bank credits that were going to expire within several days, so, I did *have* to spend them.

But still.  This was a big deal for me.

And, I really appreciated it.  JetBlue's Mint class really is a pleasant experience.  I wouldn't pay double what I did (which again, many flights were), but for only ~$100 more than regular economy (which once you add in baggage fees that are waived with Mint, becomes even less), it was certainly worth it.

Flight Details:

Departure: SFO, Scheduled 12:15pm (boarding time set at 11:30am, I arrived at gate at 11:32am to find them already on boarding group C!), Actual 12:13pm.  (Yes, we were airborne at 12:13pm!)
Arrival: BOS,  pm
Duration: h m
Seat: 4A (single suite)
Class: Mint


Christmas Amenity Kit.
Um, how adorable is this?  The amenity kit was given a holiday touch, complete with fingerless mittens!  With matching socks, winter themed eye mask and kit.

The standard ear plugs and lip balm, lotion, etc were also provided.  Not things I needed for the day flight, but, adorable.

Food & Drink

Menu & Ordering

As always, menus were presented once I sat down, and we ordered once underway, a selection of 3 small plates from a list of 5, plus a "Welcome Taste."

We were also offered the signature RefreshMint drink once seated, but the first time, I didn't go for the delicious drink once I boarded.  I just wasn't quite in the mood, but really wanted coffee (decaf though, since I had already had 2 cups that morning).

Unfortunately, I was told that I couldn't have decaf, they only have one pot, and, regular it was.  Minus a point, but understandable I guess.
Eastbound Lunch/Dinner Menu - December 2017.
The menu was as follows:

Choose three. Please note: The first two dishes listed below are chilled
  • ASIAN PEAR SALAD / baby greens, grapes, golden raisins, blue cheese, candied hazelnuts
  • BRAISED FENNEL & QUINOA SALAD / orange and lime segments, pomegranate, tahini dressing
  • BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI / butternut squash, pecans*, parmesan, sage sauce
  • CHICKEN & LEEK POT PIE / carrots, parsnips, celery root, puff pastry
  • RIBEYE / smashed fingerlings, eringi mushrooms, balsamic-ginger glaze
  • ICE CREAM: Double Rainbow, San Francisco, CA
  • COOKIE, milk bar, NYC and beyond
For my meal, I opted for the first three items, all vegetarian.  I was very tempted by the pot pie, since I really did like the veggie pot pie last time, but, the salads have always been hits, and I really wanted the winter squash ravioli more than the pot pie.


Drink  Menu.
The drink lineup as always featured a sparkling, two red, and two white wines, plus cider, beer, liquor, soft drinks, tea, and coffee.

I decided to go for wine on this flight, and was tempted by nearly every option.  Kudos to their writer who make them all sound so great!
  • WHITE: BELLWETHER “S” DRY RIESLING, 2015, Finger Lakes
  • WHITE: LEO STEEN, CHENIN BLANC, 2014, Dry Creek Valley
  • RED: TURLEY, Juvenile Zinfandel, 2015, California
  • RED: DOMAINE DE LA CÔTE, Pinot Noir, 2014, Sta. Rita Hills
"Harvested from the east side of Seneca Lake, this brisk, fully dry Riesling is made by one of New York State’s rising-star producers. Its mouthwatering green apple flavors and mineral accents offer a great window into the aromatic charms of this renowned grape—and are a perfect match with our lighter Mint menu items."

I normally go for red wine, but, since I was going for a lighter menu, I was drawn in by the first of the white wines, a dry riesling, as it said it was the right match for me.  Still skeptical, I asked for just a taste, before I committed.

I was brought a full glass.  Oh well.  But it was good, buttery, light.

It also came with some bonus floaters, which I didn't bother complaining about.


My food was a mixed success.  One item was one of the best entrees I've had on any flight.  Another was ... one of the worst.
 Our "Welcome Taste" sounded both awesome and potentially problematic, as I'm allergic to avocado, and I wasn't sure what made it green.  But I adore aioli, and I adore taro chips, so, I was hopeful.

I asked, and was delighted to hear that it was scallion and lemon.  Phew.

It. Was. Delicious.

The taro chips were a given, since I like taro chips, but the green aioli was the shocker.  Herby, creamy, very, very tasty, very, uh, scallion forward?

I liked like this, and asked for seconds, but they had ran out, as our FA dropped a bunch on the floor.  Doh.  My second favorite item of the meal.
As always, my platter arrived with all three choices, a roll with butter, salt/pepper, and silverware.
The roll was awful as always, stale, spongy, soggy, lukewarm.  No reason to ever eat this, and I always mean to tell them not to other bring it.
"Baby greens, grapes, golden raisins, blue cheese, candied hazelnuts."

First up for small plates, the Asian pear salad.

This was not great.  A very odd salad.

The base was a strange mix of greens, not standard mixed greens, it did have some baby arugula, but mostly seemed to be herbs?  Very herby, certainly not what I was expecting.

On top of that was a few halves of red grapes and golden raisins, both very juicy and fine.  There were also some crunchy candied hazlenuts, which I enjoyed.  And crumbles of sharp blue cheese.  These elements were all fine, and worked together well enough.

The asian pear was ... ok.  Several slices, not the ripest, but not bad, not too mushy.

And on top was ... something.  I don't know.  Was that dressing?  Was it a compote?  It seemed to be a mustardy thick substance, perhaps made with asian pear?  Asian pear mostarda?  It wasn't necessarily bad, but, it was, like the herbs, just, strange.

So, I liked the nuts, I thought the grapes/raisins/blue cheese were fine, and I was just a bit weirded out by the greens and topping.  
Watery Salad.
The real issue though was the state of the salad base.  It was swimming in some kind of liquid.  I guess additional dressing?  I'm not sure.  It made the greens really, really, really soggy and unappealing.

Overall, I salvaged most of this, but, I wouldn't order it again.  My second to last pick, only getting points for salvaging a few bits.
"Orange and lime segments, pomegranate, tahini dressing."

Next up, another lackluster salad.  Ok, actually, this one was just bad.

The base was colorful mixed quinoa, and it was incredibly bitter.  I'm not sure why.  Crunchy, which was nice, but bitter, biter, biter.  

I'm not sure where the tahini dressing was, perhaps that was in the mix with the quinoa?  It was a bit pasty, so, perhaps that was it?

On top of this was pomegrante seeds, the type I never like, that seemed like just ... well, seeds.  Not much juicy flesh around them.  And segments of lime and orange, way too acidic and tangy, again, biter.

And finally, on the very top, a single piece of fennel.  It was crazy chewy and not enjoyable.

This salad had not a single element I liked.  It was biter, not balanced, and just, well, not good.  My least favorite.
"Butternut squash, pecans*, parmesan, sage sauce."

The pasta though ... it redeemed everything.

I really, really liked it.  It wasn't just good for airplane food, it was just good.  Shockingly good.

It came topped with large shreds of parmesan and chives, plus a few pecan halves, all good garnishes.  It had a creamy sauce, which at first glance looked like it was just on one side and not nearly sufficient, and I was about to ask for more, but, it turned out there was plenty.  A nice creamy sauce, although I didn't really taste sage as the menu said.

So, everything alongside the ravioli was great.
Ravioli Close Up.
 And then, the ravioli itself.  It was really good.

The serving was 3 ravioli, not standard square pasta though, they were long rectangles, that filled the entire dish, layered one on top of the other.  They were a red color, with more vibrant red stripes.  Beautiful looking pasta, actually.

And somehow, perfectly cooked.  Al dente, a nice chew to the pasta.  Somehow not soggy and not dried out either.  I was amazed.

The filling was generous, the large form of the pasta allowed for them to really stuff the pasta.  Loaded with mashed butternut squash.  Creamy, flavorful.

I loved everything about this.  I'd call it a success *at a nice italian resturant*.  I'm still crazy confused how it was possible on a flight.  Best dish I've ever had on JetBlue Mint and better than most international business meals.

Well cooked pasta, generous flavorful filling, creamy sauce, perfect accompaniments.  What more can you ask for?

My favorite item, I'd gladly get this again, and seriously, just order three of them!  (Actually, I wouldn't, the portion was great as it was).
Double Rainbow: Winter Mint Ice Cream / Vanilla Ice Cream.
"Mint Chocolate Chip: Rich, delicious and refreshing mint ice cream meets a generous helping of indulgent fudge chips in this classic ice cream."

"French Vanilla: Winner of  Best in America, our French Vanilla is a perfectly crafted blend of the highest quality milk, cream, eggs and vanilla."

Dessert was ice cream, and since my departure city was San Francisco, it came from Double Rainbow.  The selection of the day was Winter Mint, served as two scoops, with a single scoop of vanilla.

The ice cream was described as "Winter Mint", but, I'm pretty sure this is what Double Rainbow calls Mint Chocolate Chip.  And the vanilla, pretty sure was their French Vanilla, unless Double Rainbow makes ice cream just for JetBlue.

The mint chocolate chip was fine, although the mint tasted a bit fake to me.  I liked the large chips.  But overall, just kinda a meh, generic ice cream.

I liked the vanilla more actually, good deep vanilla flavor.

Both were rock solid when served, and took time to get down to a remotely creamy consistency, but never were particularly luxurious.
BYO Sprinkles.
And of course, I came prepared with my own toppings.

Please JetBlue, add toppings for your ice cream!
Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow.
The parting gift was a Milk Bar cookie, this time, Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow.

I'll admit, I was really, really hoping it would be the peppermint cornflake chocolate chip cookie, a seasonal offering from Milk Bar that i hadn't tried before, but alas, it was one of the standard selection.  I also kinda hoped for blueberry & cream or corn cookies, so I could have it for "breakfast" the next morning (although, hmm, cornflakes make this legit breakfast right?)

August 2018 Flight

Flight Details:

Departure: SFO, 11:59 am (scheduled) 12:59 pm (actual)
Arrival: BOS, 8:46 pm (scheduled)
Duration: h m
Seat: 2F (single suite)
Class: Mint

We boarded early and quickly.  We pushed back from the gate early.  And then ... we taxied to the side of the runway, and didn't move.  No updates were given.  We took off an hour late.

My FA was a nice older man, very polite, but not very personable.  He also got ... many things wrong.

I ordered a Sprite Zero, got a Sprite.  The person behind me ordered a Pinot Noir, got a rose.  She even had to be persistent in saying, "Are you sure this is the pinot noir?  This looks like a rose." several times.  I asked if the salad was already dressed with avocado dressing (I'm allergic, which I told him), and he said he'd check, and get back to me if so.  I was served it slathered in avocado dressing.  Nice man, but, not actually very good service.

Meal service, and even drink service, took a long time to get started.  Given our late departure, it meant that the lunch I expected around 1pm didn't happen until 2:30pm.  I was ready to eat a horse.  


No updates here, just Hopper Kits, a new color of comfortable, well fitting socks.

Food & Drink

August 2018 Lunch.
The food was actually among the weakest I've had on JetBlue.   Some of it was preference (no amazing taro chips or wonton chips!), some of it just wasn't great.

But I still had fun making an ice cream sundae, providing my own toppings, and the wine was great.

Menu & Ordering

Lunch Menu.
The menu was as follows:

Choose three. Please note: The first two dishes listed below are chilled
  • GRILLED PEACH & BURRATA SALAD / pickled chilies, yuzu basil seeds
  • PAN-ROASTED SALMON SALAD / baby gem lettuce, english peas, avocado-turmeric dressing
  • SWEET POTATO & BUTTERNUT SQUASH LASAGNA / tomatillo sauce, pepitas
  • MISO-BARBECUE CHICKEN / asian daikon slaw, chili lime dressing
  • BRAISED BEEF & BLACK BEAN RICE / stewed tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives, capers
Enjoy Both:
  • ICE CREAM: Double Rainbow Ice Cream, San Francisco, CA
  • FRESH FRUIT: pineapple, mango, papaya, strawberry
  • COOKIE, milk bar, NYC and beyond
My first two choices were easy: obviously I wanted the peach and burrata salad (because, um, burrata!), and of course I wanted lasagna (mmm, creamy, and something that goes well on flights).  The third selection was a bit harder.  I don't like black beans, so the beef was out.  I don't like chicken, but I love miso and daikon slaw.  And I like salmon, but not usually cooked salmon, and, well, I'm allergic to avocado.  I asked if the salad was already dressed, and asked for it if it wasn't, but, my FA never got back to me on that, and brought it anyway.  I would have selected the chicken if I knew this.

One change from previous flights is that JetBlue now serves both fruit and ice cream for dessert.


Drink Menu.
The drink lineup as always featured a sparkling and two red wines, plus cider, beer, liquor, soft drinks, tea, and coffee.  This time, a single white rather than two, plus a rose! #summer
  • SPARKLING: ROEDERER ESTATE BRUT, MV, 2015, Anderson Valley
  • WHITE: LIOCO CHARDONNAY, 2017, Sonoma County
  • ROSE: THE WITHERS ROSÉ, 2017, El Dorado 
  • RED: FAILLA PINOT NOIR, 2016, Sonoma Coast
  • RED: SYNCLINE SUBDUCTION RED, 2016, Columbia Valley
I started with the white, a half glass, and moved on to red, the pinot, with my meal.
LIOCO CHARDONNAY, 2017, Sonoma County.
"One of the top examples of the modern style of California Chardonnay—full of pure fruit, never too rich or oaky. This latest vintage of Lioco’s “SoCo” is sourced from a selection of top Sonoma County vineyards, and it’s a standout, brimming with ripe apple and citrus. "

The chardonnay was nice.  Very drinkable.  Not acidic, not harsh, very pleasant to sip on.  I do prefer more buttery chardonnay, but this was fine.
FAILLA PINOT NOIR, 2016, Sonoma Coast.
"Winemaker Ehren Jordan combines grapes from vineyards in Sonoma’s remote coastal region for a rich but subtle glassful. It’s full of bright berry fruit, tea-like spice and a foresty note that’s always a marker for great Pinot, and explains why this remains one of California’s most sought-after Pinot Noirs."

The pinot too was good.  Not too tannic, decently complex.  I enjoyed it too.


I adore the Welcome Tastes on JetBlue.  Dips.  <3 dips.  And usually, they come with taro chips, fried wontons, or other winning dip vessels.

And then sometimes ... it is the blanched vegetables.  And I hate them.  I don't dislike veggies, and fresh veggies would be fine, but these are always sooo limp.  A carrot, two asparagus, two green beans.  All blanched, so lightly cooked, and, well, limp.  I hated them, just like before. 

The dip was fine.  I didn't care for it when I had it before, but this time it was a little better.  Not great, but fine.  I have no idea what was in it, but it was creamy, herby, and had lemon accents.  It was the lemon part I didn't care for.  Again, I usually adore the dips (the caramelized onion one is absolute favorite!), so this was a letdown.
Lunch: Pan-Roasted Salmon Salad, Grilled Peach & Burrata Salad, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Lasagna, Bread, Olive Oil.
As always, my three selections were served together, alongside a roll that was awful, and a cute little jar of olive oil, that I actually used this time ... just not for the horrible bread.
"Pickled chilies, yuzu basil seeds."

I've had mixed experience with JetBlue burrata before, but, I adore burrata, so, this was an easy order for me.  As always, they served an entire bulb, which, is a bit crazy given that this is just one of three dishes.  That said, I did finish it ... 

The burrata was ... ok.  It wasn't very ripe, and so it didn't burst open and ooze delicious cream at all.  It was more like ... ricotta inside?  Which is fine, but much more like a fresh textured cheese than a creamy decadent burrata.  It was topped with a sprinkle of pepper, but I added more from my little  shaker.  I also added the olive oil, intended for the bread, here.  It needed it, and it helped quite a bit to enhance the flavor.

I didn't care for the pickled chilies, they just seemed like red peppers to me, not spicy (chilies, really?) and they certainly didn't seem pickled (firm texture like fresh peppers, no pickled flavor).  

The yuzu basil seeds were ... different?  I can't say I liked nor disliked them, mostly just amused that they went this route, and introduced people to basil seeds potentially.  Much like chia pudding, fairly tasteless.  Kinda interesting texture I guess?

The fresh basil leaves I did love though.

And finally, the peaches.  Well .... they were "grilled" in that they had grill marks on them, but they were really, really firm, crispy, crunchy, more like fresh apples.  Not the way you'd ever serve a peach, and certainly not grilled.  The flavor was ok, and I did finish them because I appreciated the pairing with the burrata, but, not actually very good.

So, overall, this was quite the mixed bag.  Not nearly the quality I've had in the past, and certainly not restaurant quality, but my favorite of the dishes, and I did finish it.
"Baby gem lettuce, english peas, avocado-turmeric dressing."

The salads on JetBlue often are my favorites, but ... I don't ever like cooked salmon, unless at a high end restaurant, and, well, mid-rare and with crispy skin.  And I knew this was a cold dish.  And had avocado dressing ... which, as I said, I asked about, but when my FA never got back to me, I thought meant he could do without.  Sigh.

This was a huge disappointment for me.

Crazy soggy lettuce, because, well, pre-dressed it seems.  Sooooo wilty soggy.

The english peas were ... fine?  Raw peas, crisp, interesting I guess.  The herb garnish was really wilty, it didn't win any presentation awards here.

The salmon I tried to extract, knowing my allergy isn't deathly, and that a little of the dressing could be ok, but, I didn't care for the salmon at all.  As expected, fishy.  Just cold cooked salmon.  Serious meh.

I've had incredible hot smoked salmon on JetBlue flights before, but, this was not that.  My least favorite dish, I had only a bite.
"Tomatillo sauce, pepitas."

I'm grumpy about this one.  Lasagna sounded great, although, alongside burrata, a bit decadent.  And it looked pretty good.

But this ... was not lasagna.  It should have been called "lasagna".  It contained no pasta.

Instead, it was layers of sweet potato and butternut squash.  Both were undercooked.  Neither had any flavor.  There were onion in the mix too, which at least were little bits of flavor.

I'm not sure what made up the "cheese" or cream.  It certainly ... wasn't cheese.  Was it nut based?  Cashew?  It was awful.  I wanted gooey cheese, and instead it was this strangely lumpy, strange flavored, weird textured substance.  No comfort food here, and I hated the flavor.

The tomatillo sauce around the exterior was fine, and I loved the crunchy pepitas, but ... wow, not a success in any way.

Also, why serve this in August?   Such a winter dish with winter squash, potato, and pumpkin seeds!

My second to least favorite dish, because, I enjoyed some crunchy seeds and exterior sauce?  Yay for one decent bite.
Dessert: Ice Cream, Fruit, Decaf Coffee.
A change to the lineup, JetBlue now offers fruit, ice cream, or both for dessert.  I also opted for a decaf coffee.

The coffee was good, no strange funk, and I kinda worried it wasn't actually decaf.
Fresh Fruit.
"Pineapple, mango, papaya, strawberry."

The fruit offering sounded great, and I was thrilled that there was no melon.  There is always melon (I'm allergic), so I can never have the fruit on flights.  But mango, papaya, strawberries?  A more premium offering, and I was excited for it.

I didn't have the pineapple, and just gave that to my companion who likes pineapple.

The strawberry was actually shockingly good.  Really good flavor, sweet.  Cut in half, served with the stem on.  Definitely the highlight of the fruit.

It took me a minute to figure out which was the papaya, and which was the mango.  Let's just say ... these were not ripe fresh fruit.

The mango was the lighter color, 3 slices, of fairly unripe, crispy mango.  The flavor was still good, but, fresh juicy fruit this was not at all.

The papaya was soft at least, but again, didn't seem ripe and fresh, and I didn't care for it.

So, great strawberry, ok tasting mango, and the rest, eh.
Double Rainbow Ice Cream: Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch, Vanilla Bean.
As always from San Francisco, ice cream was Double Rainbow.  And as always, I lamented this choice.  Why can't they get ... better ice cream?  So many options, Three Twins, Humphrey Slocombe ... and yet, Double Rainbow?

I was double sad that the flavor was not only caffeinated, but kinda doubly so: cappuccino and chocolate.  Doh.  In the evening.  When I needed to adjust to a time zone.

Since I was one of the last ones served dessert, in row 2 (they go back to front in this direction), my ice cream was nicely melted, not as hard as usual. So, yay for that.

"Rich vanilla sprinkled with ground vanilla beans."

The vanilla was highly unremarkable.  A bit icy, not very creamy, no good vanilla flavor, even if it had visible vanilla bean dots.  Just very generic, not very high end, vanilla.  As always.

"Cappuccino and chocolate ice cream lavished with toffee crunches."

The flavor of the day, cappuccino chocolate crunch, however was decent.  Still not a great premium creamy product, and the chocolate flavor was mild, and, to be honest, I didn't taste coffee at all, but I liked the crunch from the chocolate covered toffee pieces.

But of course I didn't actually eat it this way.
Ice Cream Sundae!
JetBlue is great for Mint, but, somehow, even United beats them on the ice cream service in premium cabins.  United, American, Air New Zealand, etc, all offer ice cream ... with toppings.  JetBlue does not.  Bonus points to the airlines that have sundae carts and customizable creations, but even just some sprinkles would be great.

So, um, I bring my own.  Always.  My primary FA didn't seem remotely interested in this fact, but, another FA who was later walking by stopped dead in her tracks and exclaimed, "OMG!  Did you bring your own sprinkles?!!!"  When I confirmed, she was basically jumping up and down for joy, and told me I was "living the dream".  This ... is more the standard reaction I get from FAs when they see what I'm up to. 

And now that JetBlue has both fruit and ice cream for dessert, I was able to jazz it up even more: strawberries on top!

So in the end, I had fun with the ice cream, but I'd still prefer a better brand.
Parting Gift, Confetti Cookie, Milk Bar.
Our cookie of the day was the confetti cookie, one I have loved when I've gotten it at Milk Bar, but, the freshness just isn't there on the flights.

It was soft, sugary, buttery, decadent, and I love the sprinkles inside, but, it had a packaged taste to it, and honestly just didn't seem that fresh, which is how I've felt about most of the cookies lately.

December 2018 Flight

Flight Details:

Departure: SFO, 11:30 am (scheduled), 12:45+ (actual)
Arrival: BOS, : ~9pm
Seat: 2F (single suite)
Class: Mint

A standard Mint flight, with a FA I had before who remembered me!  But we did have a flight delay due to broken baggage belt at SFO.  Sigh.  We boarded on time, and sat for over an hour.  And when we landed ... my bag was not with us.  Dough sigh.  Boo hiss.

Food & Drink

The lineup in December was not light offerings, staring pot pie and cheesy gnocchi, both perfectly suited for winter comfort food.

I had quite a feast, a pretty good feast, and discovered a really nice wine.

Menu & Ordering

Since we were so delayed, our orders were taken while we sat at the gate.  It did not speed up meal service though, the main meal wasn't served until over an hour into the flight.  I was very hungry by that point!
December Eastbound Lunch/Dinner.
The menu was as follows:

Choose three. Please note: The first two dishes listed below are chilled
  • ASIAN PEAR SALAD / baby greens, grapes, golden raisins, blue cheese, candied hazelnuts
  • BRAISED FENNEL & QUINOA SALAD / orange and lime segments, pomegranate, tahini dressing
  • ASIAGO GNOCCHI / creamed leeks, truffle-cream sauce, parmesan, chives
  • CHICKEN & LEEK POT PIE / carrots, parsnips, celery root, puff pastry
  • MOJO PORK CHEEKS BAO BUN / palm sugar dressing, stone fruit compote
Enjoy both.
  • ICE CREAM: Perfectly Pumpkin & Vanilla, Double Rainbow, San Francisco, CA
  • FRESH FRUIT: Pineapple, mango, papaya, strawberry
  • COOKIE, milk bar, NYC and beyond
This menu was fairly familiar to me, as the two salads and the pot pie were the same as on my December 2017 flight (above). Yup, JetBlue cycles through their menus.  I had the salads on that flight, and disliked both of them however.  I've had other versions of the gnocchi and of the pot pie (a veggie version), and loved them though, so I was clearly going for those, even though I didn't actually want chicken in my pot pie.  The final item was a new one, and to be honest it did sound like something I'd like, pork cheeks and bao, but I was worried about picking three heavier dishes AND ice cream, so I opted to re-try a salad, hoping that maybe it would be better prepared this time.

And of course I got the ice cream, the fruit, and the cookie.  #allTheSweets


Drink Menu.
The drink lineup as always featured a sparkling, two red, and two white wines, plus cider, beer, liquor, soft drinks, tea, and coffee.
I never go for the sparkling, and I've had the chardonnay and the pinot before, so, this time, so I opted to try the other two, starting with the white.

"Albariño is the essential white wine of this part of “green Spain,” and this refreshing example comes from one of the country’s most respected producers. It’s full of the fragrant, herbal aspects and soft citrus flavors that define this grape—perfect for a lighter meal, or on its own."

My wine took ... *forever*.  My FA came by eventually to tell me she didn't forget, but that she just literally couldn't open the bottle, and was waiting for her colleague who was doing service in main cabin to come help.

Once it arrived, it was quite a generous pour.  I wish I could say that I liked it, after all that.  But it was really sweet, sweeter than I wanted, and finished with a lot of acidity.  I just didn't care for it at all.  And I felt bad, because she tried so hard!
"Our favorite Zinfandel is on board for the holidays! Turley remains California’s benchmark for Zin, and the Juvenile is produced from younger vines in their top sites. It’s complex but approachable, full of vibrant berry fruit and the spiciness of black pepper and licorice."

I moved on to the Zinfandel and never looked back.  It was so good!  I was shocked, honestly, I really enjoyed it.

Fairly complex, not too much tannin, but some bite to it.
Moar Zin.
I may or may not have had way too many glasses of this on my flight.  When I ordered my next glass, let's just say a VERY generous pour showed up.


JetBlue's welcome tastes are so polarizing for me.  Some I adore (taro chips! yucca chips! awesome dips!), but this month, we had pita chips (boo) and hummus (double boo).

I tried a bite, hoping perhaps the pumpkin would mask the chickpea flavor I dislike, but, as expected, they were, well, pita chips and I didn't like them, and the hummus was .... hummus-y.  Meh.
As always, my trio arrived at once, with an awful roll, a cute container of olive oil, and salt and pepper shaker.

It was a fine meal, but not awesome.  I did enjoy some salad without dressing, the puff pastry, and the cream sauce and cheese from the gnocchi!
"Baby greens, grapes, golden raisins, blue cheese, candied hazelnuts."

I gave the asian pear salad another try.  Last time it was waaaaay overdressed, the dressing was strangely thick compote-like, and there was a pile of water at the base.  I was hoping it would be better this time.

It was better, but still not really a winner.

The dressing wasn't strangely thick this time.  But it was still over dressed, and I really didn't care for the dressing at all.  I couldn't avoid it though.

The greens that I did salvage from the very bottom were fine, although there were a ton of herbs on top too which kinda dominated.  I appreciated something light and fresh at least.

I did really enjoy the crunchy candied hazelnuts, I believe they were roasted too.  The blue cheese crumbles were fine.

Overall, yes, nice to have one dish that wasn't heavy, but I'd never get this with the dressing again.  My third pick.
"Creamed leeks, truffle-cream sauce, parmesan, chives."

When I had this dish before it was slightly different, a fontina gnocchi instead of asiago, but otherwise, very similar.  Last time, I wanted to like it more than I did, and this time was no different.

The gnocchi just weren't great.  They were dense, kinda toasted, and stuffed with strangely gritty cheese.  I just didn't like the gnocchi, but I wished I did.

The cream sauce was good though, and I loved the big shreds of parmesan on top that melted in.  Leeks were nice too.  I didn't taste the truffles, but I saw a bunch of decently sized black specs.  Second pick, really just for the sauce and cheese.
"Carrots, parsnips, celery root, puff pastry."

Last time I had the pot pie it was a vegetarian version, and I loved the filling, and thought the puff pastry was eh.  Since I don't like chicken, I wasn't exactly excited about the change, but, I still tried it.

The puff pastry was better this time, flaky, golden-toasted, buttery, really not that bad.  I was shocked to realize I devoured the entire thing.
Chicken & Leek Pot pie
Inside I wasn't as thrilled though.  I obviously don't like chicken, but I planned to eat around that anyway.  The potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and celery root were all cubes, but potato really dominated.  I had only one carrot, and two parsnips and celery root.  I wanted more of the later, as I liked those.  All the veggies were fairly mushy.

It was rich, but not really creamy, the sauce had broken, and thus was fairly watery.  It was aggressively loaded with herbs, which was my issue.  I am not sure what herb I wasn't into, but there was some herb I clearly didn't care for, and it overwhelmed.  Sadness. Still, I think this was my favorite dish.
ICE CREAM: Perfectly Pumpkin & Vanilla, Double Rainbow, San Francisco, CA
"A hint of cinnamon and spice meets deliciously rich and creamy pumpkin ice cream in this seasonal favorite."

I was not excited for pumpkin ice cream, since I'm usually fairly "eh" on pumpkin spice, but this was a nice surprise.  It was also served more melty and ready to eat than usual, not rock solid, likely because our meal service was paused due to extreme turbulence.

The vanilla was just vanilla, but the pumpkin was quite nice.  It tasted like pumpkin pie, as ice cream.  Spiced, but not too much nutmeg.  Just enjoyable, really.  I really enjoyed it.
But of course I enjoyed it more once I added the toppings I brought: white chocolate shavings, toffee, and sprinkles!

When I later uttered the phrase, "yup, my ice cream ran out!" in response to "all set here?", I was immediately offered another serving.  I didn't say no.  Holidays are the time to splurge, right?
Fresh Fruit.
"Pineapple, mango, papaya, strawberry."

Uhh ... methinks this description was wrong.

Blood orange, regular orange, pomegrante, kiwi.  Not what I wanted as much, since I was planning to use the strawberry on my ice cream sundae, and I actually like mango and papaya.  I don't care for citrus, and I hate pomegrante (seriously, the worst part of fruit, just seeds?  MEH!).  Kiwi was interesting at least, although it was a bit sour.