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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Good & Gather Sesame Teriyaki Sauce

Since my wife's family speaks Spanish, I've been using Duolingo to brush up on my Espanol for the past year or so. It's a free download, and it's a fun and effective way to learn a language. Just for kicks and giggles, I also started checking out Japanese. It's crazy difficult, and it makes Spanish seem so much more familiar by comparison. But just in the very beginning levels, out of a total of maybe a dozen words, they've already given me "teriyaki" as a Japanese vocabulary word.

I suppose it's just one of those Japanese concepts that Americans are probably already familiar with, but it's also a testament to how integral the flavor is to Japanese culture. I, personally, love good sushi, but eating raw fish might not be quite as accessible to other cultures, while a sweet, salty, and savory condiment that goes on grilled meats is right up the average American's alley.

This sauce flaunts that familiar sweet, salty, and savory teriyaki flavor, as well as a bit of sesame essence, too. The sesame lends a nuttiness to the product that blends well with all the other teriyaki flavors.

Texture-wise, it's a medium thick liquid, brown in color, and it's very smooth. We had it most recently with a pre-packaged stir-fry meal with noodles, vegetables, and shrimp, and it worked splendidly.

We've also tried it as a glaze for salmon, and it's just as good like that. I'd even try putting it on a burger with some grilled pineapple rings and provolone cheese for that Hawaiian teriyaki effect. $2.99 for the 12 oz bottle. Would definitely buy again.

I give this sauce 8 out of 10 stars.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Good & Gather Everything Cashews

Ah, it's time for Target's Everything but the Bagel Cashews. Oh, no wait. Must be thinking of another brand. 

These are Everything but the Girl Cashews, right? No? 

Everything but the House. That has to be it. 

Everything but the Kitchen Sink?

Nope. Just "Everything Cashews." 

Or "Everything Seasoned Cashews Made with Sesame Seeds, Garlic, Onion, Salt & Poppy Seeds" if you're not into the whole brevity thing.

Let's dive in. GAG has blessed us with another relatively tasty snack. If you're going to pick a single nut to mix with everything bagel seasoning, I think cashews are probably your best bet.

I feel like everything seasoning might clash with some other tasty nuts like almonds or peanuts, and nuts I'm not as fond of, such as Brazil nuts or pine nuts, would ruin the salty seediness of the everything seasoning. The rich creaminess of cashews balances out the potent taste of onions, garlic, and sesame seeds fairly well.

The everything seasoning adds a little bit of an extra crunch, too. I think most of the elements in the seasoning are crispier and harder than the texture of the average cashew. They tend to be soft, as nuts go.

The resealable bag is always handy and welcome. No matter what product it is in the package, it'll stay much fresher with that convenient ziplock seal. 

$5.99 for the 7.5 oz bag. That's a fair price point in my opinion. Cashews aren't generally cheap, since they only grow in frost-free tropical areas. 

I'd buy again if I were in the mood for cashews—and yes, I do think I prefer this seasoned version over plain cashews, just ever so slightly.

I give these nuts 7 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Good & Gather Banana Nut Granola

Ah, another Good & Gather cereal. We used to try a different Archer Farms brand granola every other month back in the day. I don't know how many varieties we looked at on this blog. At least a dozen or two I'm pretty sure.

Anyway, this is only the second I think as far as GAG is concerned. Banana Nut. Yummy. Let's dig in.

We'll start with the negatives first and get those out of the way. Number one: some chunks of granola are enormous. They're way too big to shovel into your mouth and too big to fit on the average spoon. There's a good bit of breaking apart and size reduction to be done by smashing the boulders of granola. 

Second: if this is banana cereal, why not throw some significant amounts of dried banana pieces in there? The ingredients say there's dried banana, but I don't really see any dried banana. I mean I taste a banana essence of sorts, but to me this product is just begging for larger chunks of dried banana and/or full on banana chips.

Third: it could use a wee bit more chocolate.

Other than that, this is a solid granola cereal. The overall taste is very enjoyable. As aforementioned, there is a nice sweet banana essence. It's not overbearing or overwhelming, and it's not too sweet, either. 

There are a fair amount of almond slivers that fulfill the "nut" part of the equation. Why do most people put walnuts in banana bread and other banana nut products? Almonds are so much better. Nothing against walnuts. I'm just saying next time you bake banana bread, use almonds instead. They're at least as good, right?

The texture is nice and crunchy, even after a significant amount of time submerged in milk. Other than the enormous mountains of granola all wadded together, everything else is bite size and crispy.

$3.79 for the 12oz bag. The wife likes it even more than I do, although she doesn't think she tastes banana at all. Resealable bag is a plus. Would definitely buy again.

I give this granola 8 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Good & Gather Creamy Chipotle Sauce

There's a fine line between things that taste like they've been genuinely smoked and things that taste like they've had liquid chemical smoke added to them. This condiment falls very much into the latter category, unfortunately. There is, in fact, dried chipotle pepper in this product, although it's on down the ingredients list a ways. In my opinion, there's very little to suggest there's any significant amount of actual smoked, dried peppers in this sauce.

There's plenty that suggests it's made of water and canola oil, because it's mostly just oily and bland. You'd think it'd be a bit more tangy with sour cream, buttermilk powder, and greek yogurt powder in the ingredients. And yum, there's "bacterial cultures" in the mix. Twice! There's a hint of spice, but it's not enough to push this condiment into the category of "hot sauce." It's a very mild level of heat.

I shook the little squeeze bottle vigorously before pouring, as the oil had visibly separated from the rest of the mixture in the bottle. You can almost kind of see it in the picture at the top of the post—and that's already after a moderate amount of shaking the container. I absolutely manhandled the thing after snapping the pic to try to really get it blended well, but even after pouring, there was evidence the oil still hadn't reintegrated with the rest of the composite fully. Kinda gross.

I'm generally a fan of chipotle-flavored things. We even reviewed a chipotle salsa on this blog many moons ago. I think it's one of those flavors that has a lot of potential, but it's easy to screw up. I also think most Americans don't know what good chipotle flavor should taste like. In my humble opinion, this isn't it. Oddly, my Mexican-American wife wasn't quite as turned off by this sauce as I was, although she wasn't exactly wowed and agrees that the spice level is too low.

$2.79 for the 8.4 oz bottle. Not a repeat purchase for me. Maybe if it were cooked into some ground meat or poultry it would blend a bit better. We'll try it that way and report back.

I give this sauce 4 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Good & Gather Roasted Garlic & Cilantro Salsa

It's been a hot minute since we've looked at any salsas on this blog, and this one here would be the very first of the Good & Gather (GAG) line that we've tried. I'm a big fan of garlic and I like cilantro okay, so this flavor is just screaming "try me! try me!" 

Okay, salsa jar. Just calm down.

First impressions: it's nice and chunky. That's good. I'm honestly surprised how chunky it is. There are large, robust pieces of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers in there. A lot of time salsas claim to be "chunky style" and they simply don't deliver. There might be bits or shreds of veggies, but nothing so big you could call it a "chunk." Despite not bragging about its chunkiness or thickness, this salsa is both thick and chunky in this author's humble opinion.

The taste? Well, now that's a different story entirely. The first thing I taste here is salt. And I must point out I'm eating it with completely unsalted tortilla chips, so you can't blame the saltiness on the chips. 10% sodium per serving in the salsa. That's par for the course for your average salsa or chip dip. Not sure why I feel like I taste it here more than usual.

Next, I taste tomato. Makes sense since tomato puree and tomatoes are the top two ingredients. Again, pretty common for a salsa to have a tomato base and taste somewhat like tomato. But for some reason here, I feel like they needed to up the garlic flavor a little more. After all, this is called "roasted garlic" salsa. Yes, it's there. Yes, I taste it. Maybe I just like garlic a little too much. Maybe I'm used to the taste of freshly-chopped raw garlic, rather than this kind of faint, smoky garlic essence desperately trying to claw its way through layers of tomato and salt. I like that biting, harsh garlic that clears your sinuses and warms your throat. That's definitely not what this is—probably good for most American consumers, but not for this guy.

I didn't expect to taste a lot of cilantro. Cilantro isn't a very pungent flavor, usually. It's just a background taste normally, and that's exactly what it is here. I wouldn't have minded whole cilantro leaves floating throughout the mix. Again, that might be overkill for most people, but if the salsa has "cilantro" in its name, I'd err on the side of "too much" rather than "not enough."

The texture of this salsa is great. The flavors just don't deliver if you ask me. I'll salvage it by adding my own raw garlic pieces.

We've seen much better salsas from Target in the past. See the Summer Fruits Salsa and Fire-Roasted Pepper and Habanero Salsa.

I give this condiment 6 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Wondershop Sour Drops

I don't think of gumdrops as particularly Christmassy, so I hope you'll forgive me for reviewing a Wondershop product in January. I mean, it's still technically the Christmas season until January 7th or so. Epiphany or Three Kings Day or Dia de los Reyes is today, January 6th. And did you know the Russian Orthodox/Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th? It's true. I'm all about extending the Christmas season, so let's just go ahead and do that in the U.S.

Anyway, gumdrops aren't particularly festive or holiday-ish in my opinion. Spice drops, perhaps, are. Although I find most spice drops totally unappetizing at any time of year.

So yeah, "sour" drops. I had to put the word "sour" in quotes because these are not particularly sour. Why can't anybody make truly sour candy? The only candy I've had that was actually and honestly very sour were Extreme Sour Warheads, and they don't come in a chewy variety as far as I know. Sour Patch Kids are tasty, but I wouldn't mind an even more sour version.

These gumdrops fall just below Sour Patch Kids in terms of general sourness as well as overall taste and quality. They're quite edible and mostly sugary sweet, with just a hint of tang and mouth-puckering pungency. They come in a fun little tube and would make a decent stocking-stuffer.

I'm not thrilled that corn syrup is the second ingredient in these, but at least it's not high-fructose corn syrup, and at least it falls after "sugar" on the list. There's just a whisper of crunchy grit from the sugar crystals on the outside of the drops. Other than that, they're soft and chewy, like any other decent quality gumdrop. We had ours sitting around for a month or so before we opened it, and the product still felt and tasted remarkably fresh.

The wifey and I both agree that the only major weakness of these Wondershop Sour Drops is that they're not particularly sour. Still, they're not a bad purchase. I'm pretty sure the price was in the ballpark of two or three bucks, but don't quote me on that. Also, you might be able to pick up a deeply discounted pack at the end of the holidays since Target will no doubt be clearancing Wondershop products to make room on shelves post-Christmas.

I give this candy 7 out of 10 stars.

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