Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Chocri Customized Chocolate Bars

 
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Chocri
What: Gift-worthy chocolate bars topped with a custom mix of toppings
Price range: Roughly $10 to $15 based on my bars, depending the toppings
Recommended chocolates: All of them
Recommended toppings: Honey chocolate drops, strawberry chocolate drops, real gold flakes, dried raspberry, dried strawberry, anise seed, hazelnut brittle, toasted hazelnuts, marzipan rose

When I received a very friendly email from Carmen at Chocri offering to send me three of their custom chocolate bars in the hopes of hearing my opinion of them, I jumped at the chance to do a review.

Okay, okay, I got very excited about the prospect of free fancy chocolate and then didn’t respond to the email for months. Oops. Pregnancy does odd things to the brain. But once I started to get the hang of my new full-time mommy job, the siren song of my food blog started calling to me, and I remembered the offer. Then I jumped at the chance, and Chocri was kind enough to give me a belated shot at it.

Now, I have to admit my first thought when I checked out their site (http://createmychocolate.com/) was I could make that. Anyone with a creative bent has had that thought before, whether looking at something in a boutique or magazine or online. Usually it accompanies an urge to purchase said item. But no matter how much you want it, no matter how much you acknowledge the ingenuity of the person or company who came up with it and or at least put a novel spin on it, I could make that is usually enough to keep your wallet in your purse or pocket, even when you know you never will get around to it.


Review:  Chocri Custom Chocolate Bars

I was getting the chocolate bars for free, but even so I was haunted by the I could make that vibe as I set off to explore the site. I had this idea that the bars would be way better or more fun or something similarly vague yet persuasive if I made them myself. And I certainly wouldn’t pay for something I could make in my own kitchen. Continue reading

Buitoni Mushroom Ravioli Review

 
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So, funny story…I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather the past few weeks, queasy stomach-wise. In the course of this, I developed a few food aversions. The worst of which? My own food blog.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t had a food aversion to the food blog itself–after all, I haven’t figured out how to disseminate it in edible form yet. But I may have eaten a few too many of those delicious vegetarian marshmallows in the same week as gorging myself on that incredibly rich Cadbury Creme Brulegg, which resulted in my not really wanting to look at or think about sugar–unless, of course, it came in a fruit or chocolately sort of flavor. Which is a problem for a writer of a blog that focuses a lot of its attention on the pastry arts. Every time I looked at the front page, I’d have to run and get some nice, bland crackers or a brown rice cake. And just when I would think that I could get past it and write something for the blog, another comment would come in on one of the offending posts and it would start all over again.

But I think I’m feeling better now, and the thought of eating a s’more only slightly grosses me out. Still, to stay on the safe side, I’m going to ease back into things with a walk on the savory side of the kitchen.

Continue reading

Review: Pappardelle’s Pasta

 
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Here’s today’s central question: should the words “fruit-flavored” and “pasta” ever go together?

This is not a question I would have pondered without a concrete basis in real life, but I got to find out the answer anyway. A few weeks ago, Chris came home from work and presented me with two paper bags from the Pappardelle’s Pasta stall at Pike Place market. One contained lemon parsley mafaldine, which were wide, frilly noodles with flecks of bright green. Okay, sounds good, right? But the second bag I wasn’t so sure about. A fanciful fruit pasta blend sounded like just another weird food Chris was trying simply because it was a weird food.

He also brought home a recipe for a fruit salad using the noodles from the stall with him, and he was very keen to try both the pasta and the recipe. Every night he mentioned wanting to make it, so finally I rounded up all the ingredients for him one day and had them waiting when he got home.

Fruit-Flavored Noodles

The noodles were…surprising. I was shocked that I didn’t hate them. That’s not to say that they weren’t weird, but as far as fruit-flavored pasta goes, I’d imagine this wouldn’t rank half-badly. I was impressed that the colors stayed so vibrant after being cooked, proudly declaring whether they were lemon, lime, tangerine or raspberry flavored. The texture was good and robust, and I was charmed by the shape, which I thought looked like two separate noodles twisting into a close embrace. I kept coming back to try them again and again while Chris chopped up the fruit for the salad.

Fruit-Flavored Noodles

My expectations rose. Really, they weren’t half bad. I could see them working in a light fruit salad, and they certainly were striking. Chris added the celery (the recipe calls for way too little celery) and the fruit–apple, mandarin orange slices, and halved red and green grapes–and tossed it with the pasta, and it really looked quite pretty. Maybe I was actually going to like this stuff.

Fruit Salad with Fruit-Flavored Noodles

Unfortunately, it didn’t look quite so appetizing once the yogurt-based dressing showed up at the party. But it would still taste good…maybe?

Not so much. The flavor of the noodles seemed quite strident when we were eating them on their own, but it was completely masked by the fruit and the dressing. To make matters worse, the mandarin orange slices and the orange juice concentrate mixed in with the yogurt made the whole thing taste candy-sweet, artificial and harshly acidic. Chris and I both got through our portions for dinner that night, trying not to waste food, but the one and only bite I took from the bowl I served myself the next day brought the word “inedible” to mind. The best we could figure is that the company was trying to appeal to the church picnic crowd, not foodies, and came up with a recipe that would echo the fruit salads of yore.

Lemon-Parsley Noodles with Asparagus

We still had the lemon parsley noodles to try. I had much higher hopes for them. Chris blanched some gorgeous asparagus and made a sweet onion sauce to go on top. This time I was even more disappointed. The dish certainly wasn’t inedible–the asparagus and the sauce were both spot-on, so that helped–but there was something off about the lemon flavor in the pasta. Chris finally put a name to it when he pointed out that they were using lemon oil to flavor the pasta, which made it taste like lemon oil rather than fresh lemon, and that tone of lemon flavor actually worked much better with the fruit-flavored pasta.

In the end, I wouldn’t buy the lemon parsley stuff again, but I might give the fruit-flavored pasta another chance. Only this time with my own recipe. Fresh orange slices rather than canned mandarins would help, as would a much less overpowering dressing. The walnuts and light, crisp apples could make a repeat appearance, and I think we decided that the right goat cheese would counter the fruit flavors nicely. However, if I find myself wanting bright, flashy pasta, I think I’ll try out this wicked pasta dish Greg posted at Sippity Sup yesterday, where the beets in the dish turn the fusilli bright neon red.