Friday, July 25, 2014

A Failed Attempt.. Time to Plan

Having returned from our travels, we sat down and debated on how to classify our success level of our little mission. Sadly, past the wonderful hidden gems we mentioned for Day 1 of the road trip we were on, the rest of the trip had nothing to really report about. Besides the complimentary breakfasts provided by the hotels we stayed at (there was one which had cold scrambled eggs as part of the offered items) and grabbing snacks from gas stations, our food adventure was quite lack luster. Though we did have an exciting trip, it did leave this pair of Foodies feel that there was something missing. 

How are we to make up for this lack of tastebud stimulation? Well it would seem that we're in the process of planning another road trip set for some time in September. We will be traveling from Sacramento to San Francisco in order to connect with Highway 101 which will take us up the Pacific coast line through Oregon and Washington. Are you in Northern California, Oregon or Washington? Know of some local eateries that we should try along the way? Feel free to let us know and suggest your favorite must-visit locations! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Epic Food Quest... ON THE ROAD!

After an absence and lack of inspiration, there is a break in the doldrums that come in the form of a road trip. So for the next couple of entries, we will be taking you along with us on this foodie journey.

Day 1 - Breakfast 
Our first stop on our journey was for breakfast. After a bit of looking around, we came across the Bear Beach Cafe located in South Lake Tahoe, California. An intimate, down to earth family style diner, the cafe offers dark coffee, delicious food and friendly employees. Some of the breakfast choices include Fruity French Toast - french toast made from sourdough bread and topped with your choice of blueberries or strawberries, and the Greek Isle Omelette - an omelette of 4 eggs, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, ham, mushrooms, and tomatoes with a side of potatoes.

Bear Beach Cafe 
3310 Lake Tahoe Blvd. 
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

As we come to the end of the first day of our journey, we find ourselves in the town of Ely, Nevada. Asking the receptionist at the hotel we decided to stay at for the night for a possible spot to have an evening meal, we were directed to Racks Bar and Grill which was just down the street. Strolling into the small sports bar, we were surprised by the welcoming atmosphere. With comfortable surroundings with the locals enjoying their drinks, some of the items on the menu include Calamari as an appetizer or a Swiss Mushroom Burger - a juicy burger with Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms, thick cut tomatoes, and lettuce on a soft bun with a side of fries.

Racks Bar and Grill
753 Aultman Street
Ely, Nevada

Monday, May 5, 2014

Original and Green Tea with Honey Yogurts

Tarté Asian Yogurt 
Created originally as a healthier alternative to Greek style yogurt, taking in consideration a healthy diet and Asian flavors, Tarté has humble origins from a home kitchen in Santa Monica, CA and the Dairy Products Technology Center at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Sweetened with Stevia, Tarté comes in Strawberry & Guanabana, Original, Blueberry & Acai, Mango & Coconut, Pomegranate & Goji, and Green Tea & Honey. 

Tarté Asian Yogurt

-The Artist- 
Having spotted a new yogurt in my local grocery store while trying to find ingredients to make dinner, I couldn't help but curious as to the brightly colored Tarté yogurt cups. Would they be liquidy like a lot of standard yogurts with little flavor and too much sweetness or would it lean more towards a thick, slightly tart Greek yogurt? The first one I tried was the Original. Creamy and smooth, I was pleasantly surprised that its consistancy was a happy medium between the overly thick Greek yogurt and your typical soupy type. The flavor was light and had a gentle sweetness to it which I found as a delightful change of pace. The second one was of course the Green Tea & Honey. With the same consistancy and creaminess as Original, the light flavor of honey seemed to tickle the tastebuds but wasn't overpowering. With it, hints of the green tea would pop up but seemed to be in the background as gentle support instead of being bluntly in your face that it was there. I would have to say that if you're a fan of yogurt, give this line a try. They would probably also taste good drizzled over some home made granola with fresh fruit or even added to your favorite morning smoothie.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blackberry & Ginger Dark Chocolate

Cachet Premium Belgian Chocolate: Blackberry & Ginger 

Kim's Chocolates, created in 1987 by Mr. Fons Maex, specializes in bringing awareness to fine Belgian chocolate. Their brand known as Cachet takes the love and craftsmanship that is put into Belgian chocolate to a whole new level, offering a large range of all natural flavored gourmet chocolates including such flavors as Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut Cream and Caramel filling and Milk Chocolate with Coffee Cream filling among others. 

Kim's Chocolates
Phone: +32/16 55 15 80
Fax: +32/16 56 92 42

-The Gamer-
Our next entry is another item that we came across in the same German deli that we obtained the Johannisbeere from. This one happens to be chocolate, rather than a beverage. It's Cachet Premium Belgian Chocolate, flavored with the interesting combination of blackberry and ginger. The first thing that Dawn and I both noticed on opening the package was the rather large squares that the chocolate bar is divided into. Unlike your average Hershey's bar that has squares about half an inch wide by one inch long, these ones were about one and a half inch wide by one and a half inch long, with a total of eight squares. The other thing we noticed right away was the obvious scent of blackberries and ginger. Although both scents are present in equal measure, when it comes to taste the blackberries seemed to be more dominant. You could taste the ginger in the background, but it wasn't overpowering. The chocolate itself is around 57% cocoa solids, a rather rich flavor when compared to most American made milk chocolates, but certainly not enough to overcome the other flavors present. Overall, I would call this a nice little find that would appeal to anyone that has a craving for dark chocolate. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Black Currant Spritzer

Rieder Johannisabeere Gespritzt

Austrian beer and ale company Rieder, established in 1536, is well known for some of their classic Indian
Pale Ales (IPA), Weißbierbock (pumpkin beer), and Honig Bier (honey beer). A little less known but just as high quality are their Gespritzt (fruit spritzers) which they refer to as wellness drinks. They offer apple and black currant flavors.

Rieder Bier
phone +43 (0) 7752 82017
Fax +43 (0) 7752 82017 33

-The Gamer-
The next entry is something that I came across while we were at a local German deli. It was in the selection for alcoholic beverages, so I had assumed it would be something like a malt beverage. It would appear that I was wrong. Upon looking all over the label for information, I found nothing pertaining to an alcohol percentage. Perhaps they don't add those where this beverage was made (it's produced in Austria), or perhaps it really is non-alcoholic. Regardless of whether or not you can get drunk after drinking enough of these, the taste was rather pleasant. It's supposed to be black currant flavor, but the ingredients listed say that it's made with black elderberry juice. As far as I know, they are are not the same fruit, so I will have to make another assumption that something was somehow lost in translation. Anyways, back to the drink itself. Whether or not it's black currant or black elderberry, it does indeed have a berry flavor to it. Personally, it reminded me of various jams my grandmother would make using dark berries. The flavor is a little rich and dark, but with enough sweetness so as to make it so that the drink isn't bitter. That might be from the natural flavor of the berries, or it may be from the sugar that is also listed  on the ingredients. While this is a carbonated drink, it isn't overly so, with just enough fizz to it to let you know that this isn't straight up juice.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dubliner Cheese

Kerrygold© Dubliner Cheese

Created at the same time as the Irish Dairy Board in 1961, Kerrygold© provided its customers with a line of premium all-natural, grass-fed cheeses and butters. Now Kerrygold© Irish dairy products are proudly available in over 80 countries and still follow their small farm approach and rely on independent dairy farmers to supply the company with all-natural milk. Of their cheese selection they offer Cashel Blue Farmhouse, Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey, Dubliner with Irish Stout, Red Leicester, Swiss, Aged Cheddar, Blarney Castle, Dubliner, and Skellig. As far as their butters are concerned, they offer Pure Irish Butter, Unsalted Irish Butter, Garlic and Herb, Naturally Softer Irish Butter, and Reduced Fat Irish Butter.

-The Gamer-

For this entry we end up looking at what is, in my own opinion, a very nice cheese. It's Kerrygold© Dubliner, a fine aged cheese imported from Ireland. The first thing you will notice after opening the package is the lovely, tangy scent that the cheese gives off, giving you the first hint of the deliciousness that will be soon to follow. I would describe the texture of the cheese as being reminiscent of Parmesan or a similar hard cheese. It crumbles nicely, but it's also not too difficult to slice. The taste is wonderfully sharp and tangy, as one would expect from Parmesan or Romano, but not quite as strong as either of those. I would definitely recommend Kerrygold© Dubliner to anyone who is a fan of aged cheeses such as me. You will not be disappointed with your decision.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Goat Cheese & Espelette Pepper Potato Chips

Brets© Chips Saveur Chèvre & piment d'Espelette

One of the many overseas brands that is being carried by World Market, Brets© is part of Altho, a company located in France that specializes in gourmet potato chips. Started in 1991 by Alain Glon who had formed partnerships with farmers, by 1995 the company founded family-owned Altho located in central Brittany. Starting with only 16 employees and an annual production of 800 tons of chips, the company has since grown to 240 employees throughout the year (noting up to 400 during their high season) with an annual output of 20,000 tons of chips. Among the flavors they offer their customer are Goat Cheese & Espelette Pepper, Braised Chicken, Marine (oyster), Butter Caramel, Salt & Vinegar, Garlic & Rosemary, Original, Natural, Bolognaise, and Pizza to just to name a few.

The Artist -
While wandering one of the local World Market stores with Jerry and a friend of ours, I had spotted the bag of Brets© chips and was curious as to what the flavor would be like. I am familiar with the creamy yet robust earthy flavor of goat cheese so it did seem fitting that the French company had paired it with Espelette pepper. Bringing home a bag and opening it up, my nose was greeted with the gentle melody of cheese with a hint of spice. However, flavor was a little bit on the disappointing side. It is perhaps due to the possibility of the original recipe being altered to 'appeal to American tastes' but the flavors weren't as spectacular as I would have imagined. Mind you that alone, the cheese flavoring was light and quite easy on the pallet with just a faint hint of spice from the peppers. Also the chips themselves were crisp and had a delightful crunch to them when taking a bite. However, when used to goat cheese being bold along with the tangy sweetness of peppers, the flavoring on the chips is a bit lack luster. I'm sure that in France, the chips are perhaps much more attention grabbing so as I suggested before it could just be an Americanization of the recipe. Other then that bit of conflict with personal taste, the chips are actually quite enjoyable. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Burley Birch Beer

Hippo Size Beverage Burley Birch Beer
Created in the 1980's by Mike Bourgeois, Orca Beverages originally came onto the Carbonated Soft Drink market with Orca Sparkling which contained a juice blend of over 50 juice. After a bit of a bumpy journey in their early years, Orca Beverage not only produced their own bottled drinks but formed partnerships with other companies known for their iconic old time brands. Now they proudly have a portfolio which contains over 100 retro and specialty glass bottled soda products. 

Orca Beverage, Inc. 
11903 Cyrus Way #5 
Mukilteo, WA 98275 
Fax: 425-349-5083
Phone: 425-349-5655 

- The Gamer - 

I'm going to start this post by saying that this next entry might be a niche one, and you'll see why as you read. Today, we're looking at Hippo Sized Burley Birch Beer. It's a little different from our usual entries, as it is a carbonated beverage. What makes this one interesting is that, although it tastes quite a bit like root beer (not surprising considering the birch part), but it also smells and tastes like Pepto Bismol which itself is somewhat minty, just without the thick, chalky taste that Pepto has. For those not familiar with Pepto, it's a pink liquid generally used to settle upset stomachs and so forth. The flavor of the birch beer actually made me ponder whether Pepto had gotten their flavor from it, or if it were just some coincidence, seeing as how mint is usually associated with settling stomachs. Overall it wasn't a bad experience; it was a nice minty/root beer combination that simply made me laugh when I realized what it reminded me of. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blended Scotch Whiskey

Chivas Regal Gold Signature Blended Scotch Whiskey

Established in 1801 in Aberdeen, Chivas Brothers Whiskey has a long standing tradition of presenting high quality aged Scotch to their customers. From awarded Royal Warrants by Queen Victoria to supply the royal household in 1843, the devastation of the 1920s prohibition, and their re-birth in the 1930s, the Chivas Brothers company has continued their quest to present their blend of scotch with the consistent flavour they're known for. Right now they offer a range of scotches aged from 12 to 25 years.

The Artist -

Knowing that I'm more of a liquor person, a good friend of mine presented me with a beautifully simple box which held a bottle of Chivas Regal Gold Signature 18 year Blended Scotch Whiskey. I thanked him repeatedly for the gift since I have always wanted to try it but never had a chance to purchase a bottle myself. For those of you who are familiar with scotch whiskey, you'll understand when I say that when I popped the cork and took my first whiff from it that my nose was greeted by a sweet yet mellow aroma. My initial sip of the amber liquid gave a warm sensation on my tongue but I couldn't help but enjoy the smooth flavor of the scotch, which is something missing from many other scotches I've had in the past. The sweetness of this one hints at the smoky barrels which held it and perhaps a bit of fruit notes. Out of curiosity, I went to the company's website and for my particular bottle they're suggesting that:

Nose – Rich, indulgent, multi-layered aromas with hints of dried fruits, buttery toffee and dark chocolate.

Taste – A velvety, dark chocolate palate yields to elegant floral notes and a wisp of sweet, mellow smokiness.

For those who enjoy a nice scotch, I would highly recommend that you give this a try. However with the price tag (depending on the seller) ranging anywhere between $55 to $90 for a single bottle, it would be one of those 'self-indulgence' types of purchases for a special occasion. If it is offered at a party then feel free, but as with any alcoholic beverage please drink responsibly and make sure that if you are in need of driving anywhere to make sure that you have a designated driver.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Smoked Gouda

Traditional Delights - Hickory Smoked Gouda 

Traditional Delights
Global Foods International, Inc. 

-The Gamer-
Well, we're on to a new year, so time for some new entries. Today we've got a nice little smoked gouda that we picked up. For those of you who don't know, gouda is a style of cheese, originally produced in Holland. It's typically sweeter than your average cheese due to how it is made, with anywhere between semi-firm and firm hardness, depending on how long the cheese has been aged.

The gouda that we got seems to fall near the middle of the scale, with a little bit of give still in it when you put pressure onto the cheese. It still has the sweet flavor that other goudas have, but due to the smoke it also is a little richer, a bit bolder than your usual gouda, with the smoky taste getting stronger around the rind of the cheese. It's a relatively easy cheese to slice, and would go great on sandwiches, but I have noticed that it doesn't tend to melt as easily as, say, cheddar or mozzarella would. Overall it's a rather pleasant cheese, but due to the richness I would suggest only eating it in small quantities, unless you can handle rich foods that is.