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Friday, April 4, 2014

Archer Farms Shredded Beef Mini Tamales

I'm not a native Philly guy, but I've lived here long enough to realize that when Philadelphians see "Philly Cheesesteaks" being sold in other cities, they know that 95% of the time, what's being passed off as the genuine article is really an abomination—a sad excuse for the real thing.

Latinos probably feel the same way when they see pre-packaged frozen tamales being sold by a place like Target.

Strangely enough, our friends in Los Angeles shipped my wife a package of tamales from La Mascota Bakery for her birthday, just a few days after I purchased these. The tamales from L.A. were cold and well-preserved on their nearly 3,000 mile journey. And MAN, were they ever good. (Sonia was kind enough to share). Authentic. Great for us, but the odds were stacked against these Target tamales from the beginning.

But my wife, who is Mexican-American, and I were both fairly impressed with Target's offering. I can't lie and tell you they were just as good as the ones from La Mascota, but Archer Farms put forth a valiant effort.

They are indeed "mini tamales," much smaller than any I've had before. It's good if you don't want to have too much tamale at one time, but it's also inconvenient to unwrap each little item not only from its plastic sleeve, but from its corn husk wrapper as well.

Both the masa and the filling were a decent approximation of a fresh, authentic tamale. Now, I'm not saying they were exactly like the real thing. Even I could tell the difference between these frozen dealies and the genuine article in a blindfolded taste test. But, I mean, the Target version was like 85% of the way there. And that's not too shabby at all. Even the lovely Sonia was pleasantly surprised. And that should say something.

I give these tamales 7 out of 10 stars.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Archer Farms Honey Dijon Potato Chips

Truth be told, the bag in the pic to the left is just about empty. I blew air into it and resealed it quickly to make it look full-ish. Did I fool you? I simply forgot to take a picture before I ate most of the bag. Silly me.

These chips are a pretty decent approximation of Kettle Chips' Honey Dijon flavor. I've always been a huge fan of the Kettle Chips version. They're quite possibly my favorite potato chips of all time. Archer Farms' offering isn't too far behind.

But there's still something about the Kettle Chips that makes them a little better. It's at least partially the texture. There's just something about the crispness of those chips that I can't put my finger on. Both chips are crunchy and get plenty of sticky yellow mess all over your fingers, but the Kettle
Chips are just a bit more syrupy. There's like an actual glaze of honey and mustard or something. The Archer Farms chips were coated and glazed as well, but perhaps with a bit less of the honey mustard.

But at $2.99 a bag, I'm not complaining. The differences between the two types of chips are subtle and hardly noticeable. Plus, Archer Farms version has the resealable bag, just in case you aren't gluttonous enough to eat the whole thing in one sitting. You'll be tempted to, but if I can resist the urge, I'm sure you can, too. My wife liked these as well. If you're a fan of the Kettle Chips, AF brand is well worth a purchase, IMHO.

I think this product is worthy of 9 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Simply Balanced Cajun-Style Rice & Beans Lunch Bowl

This is the first lunch bowl I've reviewed that's got the new Simply Balanced packaging going on. I guess that's because it's low-ish in calories and fat but high in fiber.

I think my favorite lunch bowl is still the Sesame Teriyaki one. It had by far the best taste of all, but this one might be a close second. I was skeptical of it at first, mainly because "rice and beans" don't sound as exotic as Kung Pao Noodles or Bacon Carbonara, and both of those turned out to be disappointing. With 430mg of sodium, I'm not sure if you can call this health food, but one gram of fat ain't bad if you're looking to lose some weight.

The cajun spice was fine. Nothing to complain about. It was mildly hot. Nothing earth-shattering here, but not bad for a $2.49 lunch bowl. The product was a bit soupy after adding water right up to the fill line. When I first opened the packaging, the bean and rice packet looked very small and almost empty, but everything plumped up in the hot water. The serving size still appeared diminutive, but after I ate it, I felt plenty full...and I'm a gluttonous eating machine. Must have been all that dietary fiber and salt.

Overall, this product is worthy of 7 out of 10 stars.

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