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Monday, February 20, 2017

Archer Farms Salted Caramel Gelato

I feel like this salted caramel craze has reached its peak and is starting to wane at this point. I'm not sure when it started. Ten or fifteen years ago, caramel wasn't really a big thing. But then people started adding the words "salted" or "sea salt and..." before it, and suddenly, it was all the rage.

Here are the search results for "salted caramel" from another popular food blog you might be familiar with. Tons of results. We've even seen Sea Salt Caramel Cookie Bites from Archer Farms in recent years. In the end, I think this trend is just a phase; a fad, and it will be over soon. I think most of these salted caramel products are overrated and overhyped, with only one or two exceptions in my experience.

So all that being said, my rant is over, and we can objectively look at this new ice cream flavor from Target. The first thing that jumps out at me is the packaging. Fancy. Much more "top-shelf" than your average store brand ice cream. That shiny golden band around the lid looks good enough to eat just by itself. You could cut a hole in the middle of the lid and use it as a halo for an angel costume in this year's Christmas Nativity.

Or not. Yes, I know I'm digressing. Forgive me.

I just don't have much to say about the ice cream, er, excuse me, gelato, itself. And it is proper gelato, not ice cream. That is an important distinction. It's denser than ice cream, made with milk rather than cream, and has less fat than most American ice creams.

It also contains both corn syrup and HFCS. And carrageenan. Not a fan of any of those ingredients.

The flavor is basically what I expected. It's smooth and silky and slightly salty, but not particularly memorable. The caramel ribbon, at least in my pint, was mostly found in a column right down the center of the product, much like the Ben and Jerry "Core" ice creams. You can taste the butter, and it plays all right with the caramel, but in the end, I think I'd prefer a vanilla base. The mouthfeel's a bit goofy as well.

I can't say I hated it, but I can't really see myself ever purchasing this flavor again, either.

I give this gelato 6 out of 10 stars.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Archer Farms Cinnamon Churro Coffee

I think the first time I ever had a churro was while I was living in California, during a trip to Disneyland with friends. One churro cost something like $10, but I didn't even care. I was amazed. How could something so delicious have eluded me for so many years? I don't think I'd even heard the word "churro" until I was in my mid-twenties.


I started buying churros and mini churros from El Pollo Loco, Jack in the Box, street vendors, and anyplace else I found them. My wife, Sonia, loves churros too. They were a staple in her Southern California diet long before I ever came into the picture.

And since she's a churro expert, AND she loves coffee...for the first time ever on this blog, I'm going to let her do most of the reviewing, and I'll defer to her for the product's final score.

She liked it overall. She thought it tasted more like just plain cinnamon than an actual churro, but she admitted that there were hints of something churro-esque. It didn't require any more or less sugar than her normal cuppa, but she did make sure to use brown sugar for a more authentic churro-y taste. As you can see from the photo, she brewed the coffee in a French press and was pleased with the results.

Overall, it's a pleasant flavor, but there's quite a ways to go until it's unmistakably churro-tastic.

Sonia gives this product 7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Simply Balanced Chicken Tortilla Soup

I always assumed tortilla soup would, you know, have tortillas in it. But what do I know?

Instead, it's a red broth with black beans, corn, and little hunks of chicken. Not bad. The broth is mildly spicy, and the corn and beans are nothing to complain about...although, I wouldn't have minded if there were a lot more of them. 

The soup is pretty know, brothy, that is. It's mostly just liquid—not nearly as chunky as the picture on the box would have you believe. That alone wasn't the product's biggest weakness, as the liquid part of the soup was pretty decent and flavorful.

The chicken chunks were all near-perfect cubes, and were abnormally dark, even for dark meat chicken. They were a deep brown—such a gloomy color that I think if I hadn't known any better, I would have assumed they were little pieces of low-grade beef. Fortunately, they didn't taste nearly as bad as they looked. But once again, the soup could have used a good bit more of them.

I definitely think this melange would have benefited from little tortilla bits—either the kind that come in a little plastic bag that you add yourself or the kind that are soft to begin with and don't mind swimming around in salty soup for some indeterminate amount of time on Target's shelves. This soup was crying out for carbs but did not deliver in that department.

So I added some carbs myself in the form of good old-fashioned saltine crackers. They certainly helped, but not quite enough.

It was $2.29 for the box at the Target where we discovered it—I believe somewhere in coastal Georgia, probably near Savannah, as our recent adventures have taken us through The Jewel of the South. It's just a little pricier than your average can of soup, but the box is one ounce bigger, too. But in the end, this product just wasn't enough bang for the buck to be a repeat purchase.

I'll give the soup 6 out of 10 stars.

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