Saturday, August 16, 2014

Watermelon Oreos

Another great pack of American cookies from my family! In case you missed the first one, I've already reviewed Root Beer Float Chips Ahoy.

Next up are these lovely Watermelon Oreos. I love the golden Oreos so much, it's great to see them getting so much love with the limited edition flavors in the last couple years. You can see my previous review of the Candy Corn variety from last year at Halloween here.

Basically, the golden Oreos are just the littlest bit salty & a lot of buttery. Like sweeter Ritz, or Lorna Doons with less sugar. It's just the right combination for me, whatever it is.

I can't imagine watermelon flavored cream easily, so I was quite intrigued indeed. At the very worst, I know that I could just scrape the cream out and eat the plain golden Oreos.

When I opened the pack, it definitely smelled like watermelon - and it reminded me how many dang cookies you get in the average American box of cookies. Here, you get what, about 16 digestives in a pack on average? I've got about 24 Oreos if not more! Let's hope I like them, then.

So, with the subtle smell of artificial watermelon taffy ringing in my nose, I gave it a try: first, the Oreo. Great stuff, as per usual. Then the cream...the watermelon cream.

It actually tasted quite nice! If you've ever had watermelon Laffy Taffy, that's about it - except more subtle, and a lot less tangy. Or maybe even more accurately, watermelon Hubba Bubba. It's actually not tangy at all - it's sort of like vanilla watermelon, or a watermelon ice cream flavor. Don't be scared by the idea of a tangy cream with Oreos (even though I think that sounds kind of nice, too) because it's quite gentle and more sweet than anything else.

The weirdest thing about this flavor cream was actually the texture - it was quite a bit 'stickier' and chewier than traditional Oreo filling - making the taffy comparison earlier all the more accurate. It isn't all that nice by itself, it goes much better with the cookie - making this the rare Oreo I'd suggest is better eaten whole.

I was pleased that these weren't as weird as I expected them to be, but they were still an interesting change up from regular Oreos. Now, the bad part - they're quite terrible with tea, something about the sweet fruit flavor mixed with the slightly savory, strong PG Tips I generally pair my biscuits/cookies with was bad.

With milk, the traditional American accompaniment to Oreos, they're great. Eat them with that instead!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dairy Milk with Chips Ahoy!

I'll start it off with a controversial statement: I'm not crazy for the Dairy Milk with Oreo.

There, I said it. I've tried it a few times, and every time I felt that I just wasn't getting it, or that my tastebuds were totally shot. Now though, I feel confident in saying this - there just isn't that much Oreo flavor at all. There is bits of crispy Oreo cookie, but the cream is quite plain...just sweet. It's a shame, I wish it tasted more like "cookies & cream" rather than just 'filling' and cookies. To be fair, Oreos themselves don't necessarily have a strong taste to the cream, but there is a rather large hit of vanilla that is pretty absent from the bars.

So, it was with a little bit of that same reservation I tried the new Dairy Milk with Chips Ahoy! Only just, though. See, the way I figured, the taste of Chips Ahoy! is stronger than the taste of Oreos. I recently reviewed the Chips Ahoy! Root Beer Float cookies, if you'd like to know more about what they're like.

I'm not sure why I initially thought this would be a block of actual Chips Ahoy! inside the bar, but I was surprised to hear that it was biscuit-flavored cream. Pleasantly surprised. That it is - it's not pure cookie dough flavor, which is kind of what I was expecting. It doesn't have that salty hit that cookie dough has, it tastes more like a sweet, store bought cookie but...soft like cream. It was really a cool interpretation, and very accurate! The big crunchy pieces of Chips Ahoy! helped it along on it's way to tasting like a big cookie.

Really, the only thing I could say is that I wish it was just a tiny bit saltier. As it is, it's very, very sweet - the only real respite from the sweetness is the cookie pieces which are a bit more saline. The good thing about this sweetness is that you will really be satisfied by 3 or 6 chunks at a time. With some of the more well-balanced bars, you could really just keep going and going. The Golden Biscuit Crunch bar, for example, I think I could eat my way through about 3 or 6 of them, unwrapped of course.

I know it's tempting in this weather, but I would advise against refrigerating this bar. Let it melt if you must - once my husband put it in the fridge it lost a lot of the biscuit taste that made it so special.

This is a bit of a short review I know, but I feel like everyone knows what Dairy Milk tastes like so I'm sort of just talking about the filling. It tastes like sweet cookies, and it's got nice sizable chunks of chocolate chip cookie in it - it's very nice, but easy to sum up!

I've also just recently joined Bloglovin', so follow me there if you'd like to! I like the way my blog appears so visually on there, you might find it a nicer way to browse recent posts that strike your fancy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Special Feature - FILE, Japan Edition: Cream Puffs

You might think, "Cream puffs? How could you possibly spin out an entire blog post about cream puffs you'd like to eat - in Japan no less!" The answer is - I love cream puffs.

I could write an entire blog about cream-filled pastries. If I went to college I'd write my thesis on eclairs. Get it man, I love cream puffs.

I mean, you probably coulda guessed that based off of my blog name. I love all things creamy - and like all patriots - I also love steak. Cream comes first though. It's cream, red and blue to me.

Anyway, I can easily come up with a multitude of cream puffs I'd like to eat. Let's start with one that I've already had and love. If ever I wake up chewing my pillow, it's because of this.

Image from Beard Papa's Website

Oh yes. You're probably thinking something like, "Gee, that looks like a lumpy white brain. In fact, I'm not sure you even know what a cream puff is, Creamy Steaks." Well, let this photo change your mind, wise guy:

Image from Beard Papa's website
That's right - it's like some cuckoo nutzoid mochi cream puff. If I recall correctly, the filling is a bit 'cheesier' than the classic Beard Papa, as if it's made of cream cheese & cream. I'll be sure to uh...try it again to make sure. But that's not all, folks! The benevolent bearded patriarchy of Beard Papa also created Mocha 'Shiro' Puffs that is all mocha flavored with bits of coffee jelly inside the cream!

 Unfortunately, they are already gone. They were a monthly special, now replaced by Golden Pineapple regular puffs. The good news is those also sound quite tasty...but they would've been better as chewy, stretchy puffs. Oh well!

It's not just Beard Papa though, oh no - cream puffs are really quite popular in Japan it seems, and there certainly were lots to choose from when I was there in 2011. It seems the trend has not waned, and really, cream puffs are timeless...not trendy. Back home in the USA they actually aren't that common, at least in Indiana, but me and my dad used to get these freezer tubs of mini-eclairs and mini-cream puffs, and I would just eat until I couldn't eat no more. They truly are one of my all time favorite foods - it's like that Wu Tang song C.R.E.A.M., you know, the one about how you need to get money to get more cream.

Image taken from FamilyMart Website
This one is from Family Mart, a line of convenience stores in Japan that is everywhere, and awesome. I think we may have went to even more Family Marts than we did 7-11s, as at the time they were running a super cool promotion with Rodney Alan Greenblat, the guy who did Parappa the Rappa. No puffs involved there, but this one is in fact banana cream. Specifically, whipped cream atop banana custard, and the puff itself is apparently covered in banana coating. Interesting! I'll definitely keep my eyes...peeled for this one.

Not to be outdone, 7-11 Japan also has a fruity cream puff out this month!

Mm, melon puff! Now, I suppose this looks a bit more like bread, but it's hard to tell without eating it. Regardless, it is filled with melon custard cream - so I'm sure it's tasty. Does it count as a cream puff or is it a cream bun? I'll find out when I eat it.

Then there is this one, available at the otherwise fairly 'classical' Ginza West:

Image from Ginza West
I had to leave the name on lest people not believe me - but this is a cream puff with added gorgonzola. It simply must be tried. I've had the 'European Cheese' flavored KitKat, and a few other strange 'cheese' sweets from Japan - they're usually not that strange, tasting more like cream cheese than anything else. However, since this specifies that it is using gorgonzola, I can only imagine that it will in fact taste like that. I'm looking forward to finding out!

So that's most all of the cream puffs I want to try in Japan. They'll come before the random things, but probably after the drinks. Melon puff & melon milkshake? Don't mind if I do.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creations Root Beer Float

In honor of the UK's recent introduction to Chips Ahoy! via Dairy Milk, I am reviewing one of the weirdest varieties of Chips Ahoy! that comes from across the sea. Thanks to my family (and primary readership!) for sending these along with a care package - there will be plenty more reviews where these came from, thanks to them. :D

Root beer - most English people I've met aren't fans, so it makes sense that you'll never see a cookie like this over here. I mean, you can barely get just root beer over here. It's a shame, it's a nice flavor if you grew up on it - but I suppose it's a bit like Dandelion & Burdock is to just sounds bad, and tastes weird if you don't know it.

Anyway, even as a root beer-swillin' American I find these cookies quite strange - they're less weird when you realize they're from a line of ice cream themed cookies that include safer bets such as Dulce de Leche, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Mocha Chunk. America is going through a real weird food phase if you ask me; one of the recent winners of the Lay's flavor competition was Cappucinno, and Oreos also have a Root Beer Float addition to others, such as Fruit Punch & Watermelon, which I will be reviewing later.

The Chips Ahoy! come off as even stranger than those, however, as when I lived in the US Chips Ahoy! was always quite pedestrian. I remember the excitement I felt when the chewy/microwavable variety came out...Then of course, there was all that business with the Cremewiches, which I would happily beat somebody up for a box of. Or agree to only ever listen to their annoying jingle again for the rest of my life. They were one of my very first 'new food excitements' in the early 2000s, haha. After that, it was all countdowns to Vanilla Coke & limited edition Snickers for the rest of my life. Cremewiches were Chips Ahoy cookies meets Oreos, basically.

The Root Beer Float Chips Ahoy! are a less obvious pairing, but are they as good? Well, how dare you even suggest that - nothing will ever top Cremewiches - nothing. However, these are pretty nice!
They're the chewy kind, and really loaded up with chips. They're a bit smaller than a Crunch Cream and much dinkier than a digestive or Maryland. American snacks can pack in the same amount of calories as UK snacks in about half the surface area. Hey, we call it exceptionalism. The chewiness is unique to these sorts of cookies, it's a really specific kind of easily torn and crumbless texture...Almost, nearly like cookie dough rather than actual cookies. This softness is great for me, it just really takes me back home as 'chewy' cookies here are usually much more chewy chewy, whereas these are a very soft chew.

They taste like root beer & vanilla - if that sounds good to you I'd seek these out. Root beer for those of you who haven't ever really tried it, is probably best described as a bit of wintergreen mint, a bit of vanilla, and some vaguely 'spicy' herbs. Man, I have no idea how accurate that is - root beer has to be tried to be understood!

The vanilla comes from the cookie base and the white chips, whereas the brown are where the root beer flavoring is. These were nicely accurate - not overly strong and therefore too chemically or artificial tasting, although keep in mind you're eating root beer float cookies so you should expect some artificial taste.

I was a big fan of these, and while they were small the unique flavor made two cookies at a time feel like a fair amount. Dunk them in milk for an even more authentically moist root beer float experience! Or even more wild, do some kind voodoo (or foodoo as I like to call it) and make a root beer float at home with extra vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and crumbled Chips Ahoy! Root Beer Float cookies. Go on...I dare ya.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fox's Crunch Creams, Mint Choc Flavor

I was initially attracted to these biscuits based off of the color scheme - really, a great choice. Pale mint & pale pink, just my style! These are the colors my childhood room was painted, actually.

The flavor just cemented my desire to buy - Mint Chocolate Chip - or, distressingly informal - Mint 'Choc', is a great choice for a biscuit. Being a fan of those mint Penguins I knew that mint can go nicely with tea, even if at first it sounds crazy.

I'm really surprised I haven't seen any other reviews of these, as the colors really make it stand out in the aisles. Perhaps they've been overshadowed by the Vinnie's Taste of America line?...By the way, I hate Vinnie. The accent is so stupid, and he's just such a bald-faced attempt at a 'quirky' character it makes me frown. Also, why is he not a fox? They're "Fox's" biscuits, clearly the mascot should be a fox. A fox that likes biscuits. Not a panda that is inexplicably from Fictional New York where everyone has an annoying accent. Fuggeddaboutit 

Anyway, say what I will about Vinnie, this is a quality biscuit. I like the Crunch Creams in general, the ginger one being a great stand-by biscuit for me when I feel like stuffing myself. What the line all has in common is a crispy biscuit sandwiched with vanilla or chocolate cream - except in the case of the Mint Choc Chip, which is mint cream with chocolate crispy biscuits.

It's a nice thick dollop of cream as usual - these biscuits are thicker than an Oreo all around, a bigger cookie and more cream. The cream itself also has a nicer texture than Oreos, smooth & not too sweet - these ones particularly are just right.

The biscuit portion is super crunchy as usual, so maybe eat them over a plate if you're eating them dry - they soak up tea or milk very quickly and that makes them not as messy. The chocolate flavor is there, but quite weak - chocolate is only ever really strong when it's actual chocolate, and not just 'flavoring'. Fair enough though, it tastes nice regardless!

The mint cream is thick & tastes a bit like the garden mint that I find kinda gross. It's not peppermint - that's kind of the problem. Believe me, it's not bad - and it actually approximates the taste of mint chocolate chip ice cream fairly well, but I think it would've been nicer had it been 'peppermint' rather than the more herbaceous garden mint. Dunked in tea it was better, as it melds the chocolate & mint flavors together more.

Would I buy them again, probably not because of the slightly herb-y mint, but that's just me. Would I buy the other types of Crunch Creams, absolutely - I think they're some of the best biscuits in the supermarkets! I'd like to see more limited edition ones come out, too. For instance, a vanilla biscuit one with strawberry cream? I can see that going down well!

PS I just looked at Vinnie's Facebook...I gotta imagine he's for kids, but all this crap about 'associates' and the accent even being written out, haha.

 Fox's, keep it up and you're going to have the Italian American Anti-Defamation League on your case! Why not play it safe and hire me to be your mascot, I'm an authentic American who loves biscuits. Call me.

Finally got on this Bloglovin' bandwagon, thanks people for already following me on there! :D

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Special Feature - FILE, Japan Edition: Drinks

I feel like I'm naming a Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon with these titles, they're so long! I did manage to shorten 'Food I'd Like to Eat' into FILE, maybe it will catch on. Last time I did an assortment of random food from Japan. In this edition, as you can see, I'm covering drinks I'd like to...drink.

I got some bad news, my fellow Japanese snack enthusiasts: in case you didn't happen to notice, Pepsi has all but given up on 'wacky flavors', instead going all in on Nex (Japan's answer to Pepsi Max) & the weird one that allegedly boosts your metabolism. Oh well, there will be plenty of other drinks in the sea.

Interesting to note about Pepsi in Japan - they take Coke head-on, something I haven't seen since like, the 90s in America. See, the Cola War kinda fizzed out shortly after the Cold War did, so we stopped seeing as many ads where a Pepsi can beat up a can of Coke or something. Everyone involved just took their rightful place in the strata: Pepsi for the Wild Cherry Teens, Coke for your dad, RC Cola for your Moon Pie-eating Alabama uncle, and Faygo for Juggalos. As it should be.

In Japan however, there are things like this:

I can't read Japanese, so I don't know exactly what the ad is saying, but clearly Pepsi wins and Coke Zero is even shown in the commercial as a competitor! This is some Pepsi Challenge level stuff, folks. Unseen in the west for years.

Also, Nex itself has a name that instantly made me remember Pepsi' main advertising slogan when I was a kid and conscious of my 'generation': Generation Next. This ad features the Spice Girls, but I remember lots of sped up footage of girls in belly shirts & guys in baggy cargo pants holding cans of Pepsi up to the camera. Man, that was really more like Generation Poochie. Don't blame me, I'm a 'millenial', or something.

So, Pepsi is a bit of a dud in Japan right now - they aren't even listing my precious Grape Mountain Dew as a product! I'm glad I got to try a few flavors before the end, RIP Wacky Pepsi.

There are a few interesting Fanta flavors that seem to have just came out under the banner of 'Mellow', probably along the lines of the 'adult taste' KitKats these are meant for more sophisticated consumers. You know, like me. The kinda classy gal who writes four or five paragraphs about Pepsi. Yeah, I'm the target audience for the mellow taste of Lychee, Muscat Grape, and...'La France', which kind of looks like it might be a pear.

image courtesy Coca Cola JP
That's all three of the most interesting Fantas out at the moment  - muscat, lychee, and probably pear!

It's not just sodas I drink ya know...just mostly. I also like coffee, and coffee shop milkshakes.

image courtesy Starbucks JP
This one is 'Chunky Cookies Frappucinno', which probably contains no coffee whatsoever...but does, in fact, contain an entire cookie. An almond & dark chocolate cookie, no less! Looks delicious, not so strange, but delicious. Unfortunately I missed a few more exciting varieties that had things like pudding, coffee jelly, and other sundry bits inside. Maybe more will come out while I'm there?

This one's a bit of a cheat, as I've had this one in Japan before - and I love it.
image courtesy Tully's JP
It's a Honey Milk Latte, made with espresso, honey, and condensed milk. Ohhhh yeeaaah. I got them cold mostly, and they were so tasty. One of my fondest memories from Japan was going into a far-off Book-Off with my husband and then going into a Tully's. It tasted sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious.

Finally, old stalwart McDonald's has a very cool milkshake out at the moment!

image courtesy McDonald's JP
Melon flavored milkshake, that is! I appreciate that it shares a color palette with the Shamrock Shake, but has a much more intriguing flavor. Although, I guess that depends on where you come from - to some people, an unknown quantity of mint in a vanilla shake might be quite strange, and melon is just 'meh'. Not so for me, and I'm looking forward to trying as I love melon soda. That's another one I'm looking forward to!

That concludes the drink edition of FILE for Japan, next up...I'm not sure! I'll think of something, I'm sure, as there is still plenty of food I want to eat in Japan.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Special Feature - Food I'd Like to Eat, Japan Edition: Part 1, The Randoming

So, I'll be in Japan this August! For about 2 weeks, so that means lots of meals & lots of snacks. Funny, I'm going to be there for the 40th anniversary (or is it birthday?) of Hello Kitty, which will be a bit lost on me. I don't dislike Hello Kitty, but I didn't get into her the same way a lot of people across the world have. I much prefer Badtz Maru & the spotty dog, probably named Dotty. Or Dolly. Or Dotty Dolly. That sounds about right.

Now all that being said, I do love themed snacks, and there must be a couple of good ones coming out in celebration of Hello Kitty's midlife birthday! None themed around tummy tucks and lip implants I'd hope; Kitty is aging gracefully.

from Fujiya website
Oh, oh my. Maybe I was a bit hasty saying no lip implants -but man, why do they not draw her with a lip-licky mouth all the time? It's so much cuter! These are your standard issue 'milky' chocolates with additional strawberry cream filling chocolates inside - representing Hello Kitty. Basically, I want this for the adorable packaging, because even though I'm sure the chocolates are tasty they're not exactly setting the flavor world on fire.

Now, as far as setting the flavor world on fire goes, here's an example of what I'm talking about:

from MisDo Website
Ah, delicious shoe fabric. Ha, I know what it means, choux pastry type doughnut full of Calpis flavored cream! Yes, that delicious yogurt-y, tangy, citrus-y drink that has an uneasy thickness for something labelled 'soda'! But I'm a fan - it tastes a lot like Yakult. This will be doughnut form! Well, maybe more like an eclair.

 Mister Donut is actually doing a couple of Calpis collaboration doughnuts, including a traditional cream-filled doughnut, a cruller-style with the filling sandwiched between the top & bottom, and one of their special extra-chewy mochi-style pon de ring doughnuts - with the cream again sandwich style. Also an incredibly exciting mix of small doughnuts that are all Calpis flavored, too! I'm not ashamed to say a trip to Mister Donut alone is worth the air fare to me.

Honestly though, the place I've spent the most time at in Japan has got to be 7-11. My husband and I went there for a month after we first got married, and I think we ate nearly every meal from 7-11. Now, shockingly, I never went to a 7-11 in the USA - my state just doesn't have them. Our exciting gas station was Village Pantry. So I've never had a 'Slurpee' (an official one, anyway) nor did I experience the specifications of the hot dog spinner at a 7 and 11. Anyway, 7-11 in Japan is a much cooler place, with lots of convenience meals, magazines, drinks, and best of all it's all Japanese! I know I come off like a real fan girl in posts like this, but Japan really rings my bell in a lot of ways, what can I say? Where else can I get a cheese curry chicken cutlet, a magazine with a 10-page spread about fake eyelashes, and a grape Mountain Dew all in one shop? If you know, tell me. To illustrate the awesomeness of a Japanese convenience store, here is a video I found on Youtube: It's FamilyMart, but same kinda thing.

Here's some of the bits from 7-11 that I'm most looking forward to having:

image from 7-11 Japan website

Doria is a really tasty baked sauce, cheese, and rice dish - this one is unique as it is a curry sauce with chicken. Since it's butter chicken I presume it won't be a spicy curry, but I'm sure it's still lovely as it encompasses a few of my favorite Japanese things: Doria, and curry with cheese in it. If you like cheese naans with your curry, there is no reason for you to be afraid to combine them more intimately like this - it's delicious!
image from 7-11 Japan website

This is like a big ol' pancake sandwich, with whipped cream and maple syrup. It sort of looks like a dorayaki style 'pancake', but with a more traditionally American pancake flavor with the maple. While it isn't the most exciting thing on Earth, it's presented really well and I know the taste will be amazing...for something that comes from what amounts to a news agent or a gas station, especially!

image from 7-11 Japan website

Now you might be thinking, "Creamy, those are just the Brazilian style chewy cheese puffs known as 'pao de queijo', and you know there is a Brazilian food cart near your work that sells them, so what's so exciting?" To which I respond, buddy, that Brazilian food cart stopped doing the cheese buns, and look at the price! You get 5 fun little chewy cheese puffs for about 60p! That's how much ONE cost at the food cart! So...yes, I am excited! I really like these, and they're going cheap and convenient in Japan. I'm absolutely getting a couple sets.

image from 7-11 Japan website

You know I can't leave out my beloved cream breads. This one happens to be filled with cream & chocolate chips. Hammana hammana. I love how soft and squishy the bread is, and the cream has such a special taste - there is 'fresh cream' that is just the classic whippy stuff which is just great. Then there is this more shelf-stable cream that has the same taste appeal to me as margarine or UHT milk. If you are the sort of person who knows butter is better for you, but still prefers to spread weird margarine on your bread...these shelf-stable cream buns are for you. So basically, they're for me.

It's really hard to stop with this post, since I love Japanese junk food & snacks- I probably should've created a theme! Well, this will be Part 1: The Randoming. Up next will be part 2...The Drinkening.