Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm thankful for "Thanksgiving My Way"

If you're like me, and you don't like using navigation on web sites, here's a link to Thanksgiving My Way!

For my Thanksgiving, my parents and I are headed over to Jayme's parents' house. She'll be there too. So will her brother, two sisters, two dogs and maybe some other friends and significant others. There will not be ham, but I expect to have a few stories when all is said and done.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My friend has crepes!

My colleague Euphenia, who comes to us from Hong Kong, is always showing up at work with delicious food she dreamed up herself, or found in some local restaurant I haven't even heard of. She used to work in our Chicago office, so it's fitting that she'd write a lil review about Icosium Kafe on Not For Tourists.

Check out her review. It might come in handy in the land where I first saw fixed-gear bikes and learned how uptight warehouse-party-throwing hipsters can really be!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kids in Europe like pizza too

European kids love "pitsa." You might know it by its American name, pizza. Popular toppings include tomatoes, mozzarella and anchovies.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Sunberries. They look like the kind of berries that you're not sure you can eat until you see a bird eat one first. In other words, they look like poison berries. But they're not -- I made the guy who grew them in his back yard eat one before giving them to me. He didn't die, so it was my turn for some chomping.

Executive summary: Not only are sunberries not deadly, they're not gross.*

What? You want more details than that?


It's hard to describe sunberries, and I could probably describe them however I want to because I bet you'll never ever have your hands on them in your life. But since I am such an objective blogger, I'll throw you a bone.

Think of a nice sweet grape combined with a tomato without the acid. As they ripen, the tomato taste fades away. That in a nutshell, er grape peel, is the flavor of a sunberry.

They're like strange candy in odor and flavor, and would do well in packaged form if they had a nice waxy consistency like Starbursts.

I think I detected some mealiness, but it's hard to say since sunberries are so tiny. It might just be their tiny seeds that contribute to this mouthfeel.

This tininess also makes each one a little tease.

So, should you eat sunberries? Sure, if you know someone who grows strange things in his yard. If you're a confectioner, I'd recommend harnessing their flavor and using it to make some candy. It would have to be better than violet candy.

*I love all fruits and vegetables and eat raw tomatoes for a snack, so maybe I am biased.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Arnold Palmer is delicious

Arnold Palmer makes the perfect non-boozy summertime drink, don't you agree? Sure, I could do without the artificial sweetener after-taste the canned variety leaves in your mouth, but that's not going to stop me from strolling down the street enjoying one, catching glances from people who think I'm drinking a tallboy. Better still, ordering an Arnold Palmer in a restaurant makes you look totally classy.

Speaking of classy, here's a can of Arnold Palmer that I once drank, sitting on top of a toolbox in my friend's front yard.

Fast fact for the unfamiliar: Contrary to pervasive rumors, this drink is no longer derived from Mr. Palmer's golf club palm sweat extract*. Today, it's half iced tea, half lemonade.

*This is a joke.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eating during crunch time

I've been working on a super intense project at work. Although working through the weekend makes it hard to tell what day it is, a big "plus" during times like this is all the free food. The expense accounts just open up and the Chinese food and tuna salad sandwiches keep rolling in. So do the snacks. See what I mean?

You might notice the following items:

  • Chinese food

  • Soda

  • Red Bull

  • M&Ms

  • Snickers bars

  • Skittles

  • Starbursts

  • Bottled water

  • Cups made from corn

  • Who knows?

It really is "crunch time." Pun intended.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Louisville dining

Being from metro Detroit, it's always nice to get out and visit a functioning city with loads of interesting restaurants and friendly people. This past weekend, that city was Louisville. Why Louisville? It's home to Lebowski Fest. Need more reasons to visit Louisville? Ask an old woman. They always act gleeful when I tell them I have been there. Any hoo ... As always, I ate a lot. There were plenty of individual things I could have reviewed, but I was living in the moment so I will let these pictures do the talking.

Beer:30 Light. We stayed with my friend Brennen who is in charge of buying beer for Whole Foods. He gets to try a lot of interesting beers including this one, which he unfortunately isn't carrying in his store. I was told it is only sold in 30 packs. It really hit the spot because on the hot drive down, I was craving a cheap beer and this was the only one in Brennen's 'fridge that didn't require a special glass for proper consumption.

White Russians. The official drink of Lebowski Fest. $4.50 a pop. Last time I drank these in Louisville, they contributed to alcohol poisoning. This round was without incident.

Lynn's Paradise Cafe. This place was recommended to us by a friend back home. Brennen told us that you pay more for the experience than the food. When we got the bill, we saw that he was right, but both were damn good. Lynn's Bourbon Ball French Toast was featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and that's what Jayme ordered. It was rich goodness.

Jayme with her Bourbon Ball French Toast.

My breakfast burrito. I'd never had one in my life. I actually really wanted some huevos rancheros and this was the closest thing on the menu. Not bad, but it got cold pretty quickly. Notice the coffee and $8.95 "gigantic" mimosa.

Inside Lynn's.

The grave of Colonel Sanders. It was an inspiring and emotional pilgrimage. We were told that the KFC around the corner has notoriously terrible service.

Lolita's Tacos. Yes, this is real. No, she is not open on weekends. Unacceptable. It was the first thing we noticed when we got off of the freeway. We were told the food is actually pretty good. 99-cent tacos can be had after 5:00 during the week.

The "Dippidy Do" at El Mundo -- An awesome Mexican place by the train tracks. Dinner here was actually cheaper than breakfast at Lynn's. We ate in the pebble-covered back yard. This appetizer consisted of salsa, guacamole, bean dip (all mine), and salsa verde.

Crispy pork tacos at El Mundo. Notice the bottom of the glass at the top of the photo...

... That glass contains a "Mango Stanger" -- A mango cocktail with pepper juice. It's delicious, with a slight burn in the throat. Drink, get burned. Drink to quench the burn. Get burned. Repeat. Delicious.

Mojitos at El Mundo. The biggest and best I've had. Note the Spanish-speaking adolescent in the background.

"ACE BLT" at Wild Eggs, a little joint in the suburbs with a big wait. The ACE is for Avocado, Cheddar (yes, I ate something with cheese), Egg. The Egg was over-medium, which is a terrible idea for something meant to be eaten with one's hands. All of the yolk went all over my hand with the first bite and my hand reeked for the six-hour drive home. The fresh-squeezed orange juice, however, was delicious -- and available in a pitcher.

If you go to Louisville for vacation, I definitely recommend eating food while you're there. While you're at it, go to Whole Foods, ask for Brennen and tell him to stock Beer:30 Light.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Choward's violet candy

Since I sit by the awesometeria at work, I overhear a lot of conversations. One went like this:

Person A: "What is this?" She was holding up a shiny purple rectangular package.
Person B: "Some sort of candy. It's weird."
A: "How weird?"
B: "Scott brought it in."
A: "Ohhh."
Me: "Yeah it has to be really weird if Scott brought it in."

At this point Scott popped his head over the cubicle wall a few rows down, then sent me an "instant message" to inform me that he brought in some weird candy that I should review for the blog.

He sent me a link to the manufacturer's (Choward's) web site and when I clicked on it, I got a warning saying "Visiting this site may harm your computer." I closed the window.

This would definitely be weird candy. I had to eat it.

Office reactions upon first smell:
"It smells like a bathroom." - Katie
"A freshly cleaned bathroom." -Scott
"It smells like a bathroom and Play Doh." - Me

It definitely tasted like something I wasn't supposed to be eating ... like I was sucking on mom's potpourri, or possibly a scented candle.

Also, it looks like clay.

It tasted exactly like artificial flower smell in a way so intense that I couldn't even keep it on my tongue. I had to spit it out.

Why would anyone buy this?

I asked Scott.

There you have it: Good typography can be in "bad taste." *Ba-dum ch!*

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Buffalo Sticks

Just when I think I am going to be responsible and eat my packed lunch, someone goes and puts a bag of TGI Friday's "Buffalo Sticks" in the office vending machine. Despite the fact that I had a good idea what they were (Flamin' Hot Cheetos), the name still conjured up images of long-forgotten Native American delicacies.

I opened the bag and an odor came blasting out -- one that made me rethink my Flamin' Hot Cheetos hypothesis. It smelled kinda ranch-y (like the dressing, not poop on a farm). I extracted a curved, pockmarked red formation from the back and realized that it was more similar in consistency to a puffy Cheeto, and I wasn't sure if they made those Flamin' Hot. My research suggests they don't. It also suggests that Saddam Hussein loved puffy Cheetos -- yet another reason for me not to like them.

Would I have a reason not to like Buffalo Sticks?

Yes: Ranch dressing.

The first bite was tangy like the sun-ripened buttermilk used in ranch dressing. This rotting milk flavor is followed by the texture one would experience if one were to somehow dry out one of those foam packing stubs that dissolve in water. Next up is a warm sensation in the mouth that precedes a slight burn that diminishes in strength with each log consumed. The flavor "burnt" was also experienced.

If you're still having trouble relating, imagine mixing hot sauce with ranch dressing, allowing it to air dry and get crusty and then eating it.

This ranch dressing thing was really bothering me. I have a friend from Rochester, NY who claims that people in Michigan love ranch dressing and that we even say "ranch" funny. He has not experienced the ranch dressing phenomenon in his home state, and this news makes me long for greener pastures.

Furthermore, why add ranch flavor to the "buffalo" (do buffalo graze solely upon hot peppers?) flavor? Everyone knows that if you're a wuss, you need ranch dressing to cool your palette after eating some hot wings at the local Buffabro Wildchads.

There's not even a picture of ranch dressing on the bag. There is celery, but no celery flavor or celery-derived ingredients are present.

These buffalo sticks definitely missed the mark, but I finished the damn bag any way.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Video Pizza

I have no idea if this is real, but I sure hope it is (and you probably know because you already saw it on YouTube last February). Sure, it's real in that you can watch it on the internet but, can you really order an hour-long DVD of a spinning pizza "with soothing sizzling sound effects" for $9.99 plus $5 shipping? Possibly yes, because if you click "BUY NOW" at, you are whisked away to PayPal.

Apparently this video adds the perfect ambience for your party if, you know, you and your friends like to party in the back of pizzerias ... like Domino's Pizza employees do.

Raise some money for me to buy this video with and we'll just see what happens when I give $14.99 to PayPal. If a DVD actually arrives at my house, I promise to write a full review.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This is a cake!


That is a cake.

I ate part of the lid. It tasted like really hard frosting.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Flamin' Hot Funyuns

It never fails. Just when Dave at the office starts bitching that I haven't updated (I was on an 11-day weekend, dammit!), I go to the vending machine in the kitchen and I'm presented with something like Flamin' Hot Funyuns.

The existence of Flamin' Hot Funyuns had been foretold to me by my friend Euphenia but, try as I might, I had not found them at any stores I regularly visit. I saw them at a party store by my old flat a while back but I was hanging out with my girlfriend at the moment and didn't feel like subjecting her to my vile breath. This is a courtesy I do not extend to my professional colleagues, so I peeled open the 35.4-gram bag, knowing that the cup of coffee I'd just finished was sure to make things interesting.

Flavor-wise, the bright red "Flamin'" powder seemed to cancel out the "onion" taste I love so dearly, but the exciting after-burn (not the kind you get in the bathroom) was definitely present. Perhaps the coffee was masking the flavor.

As I ate on, the Flamin' taste grew but the Funyun flavor did not. A similar experience is had when devouring Flamin' Hot Cheetos, and I imagine this can be said for anything else in the Flamin' franchise.

Because I know you're curious: Unlike Flamin' Hot Cheetos and their non-Flamin' siblings, the Flamin' Hot Funyuns don't leave sticky red residue on your fingers. That phenomenon seems to be related to the "cheese" powder. But I digress ...

There's really not that much to say here, and that's only partially because I am filling my face with spicy deliciousness. I would gladly eat the hell out of Flamin' Hot Funyuns. If you know me, you know that goes for regular Funyuns too -- When conditions are right, I have been known to eat a $2.99 bag of Funyuns, a king-size Snickers ice cream bar and a frozen Coke, after all.

A note to my generous colleagues: The "item" you left on my desk should appear here next week as soon as I feel like eating bugs.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pool-side chicken nuggets in Vegas and more

I went to Vegas for work last week -- A little competition called Camp Organic, which is loosely based on the seven sins. My team's sin, of course, was gluttony. I have been type-cast.

On the way there, I enjoyed a drink on a plane for the first time, thanks to a drink voucher from my friend Euphenia.

When we got to the hotel, I got a $16 margarita in a bikini-clad-woman-shaped glass by the pool.

Drinking in the hot sun made me really hungry, so I got some chicken nuggets. They were really expensive and cold by the time they arrived at my lounge chair. I didn't have enough cash on me after my pricey drink, so my friend Dave let me use his credit card. The scantily clad bartender asked for my ID and I told her I didn't have it because it wasn't my card ... it belonged to the big guy by the pool. I went to go get the ID from Dave and he didn't have it. Some guy that appeared behind the bar said this was "shady as fuck" but let me proceed any way. I told the bartender where I was sitting and she brought my nuggets about 45 minutes later after admitting they had been sitting around for about 10 minutes. The buffalo sauce covered the salmonella nicely.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eating alone

Tonight, as a 25-year-old, I ate alone in a restaurant for the first time in my entire life.

Sure, I've gone to coffee shops by myself, but that seems normal because you're supposed to look thoughtful with your weathered Sartre paperback or your MacBook.

But tonight, I ate a turkey burger and drank a Bell's Two-Hearted all by myself at the Emory in Ferndale. And it wasn't that bad.

I imagined it would be that bad, and more. As an only child I have had more than my share of "me time" so I don't really feel a need to seek opportunities in daily life to kick it by myself. When I have plans to meet friends somewhere and I show up first (which is every time) I feel really weird and like an asshole for sitting at a giant table all by myself.

Tonight, though, I NEEDED that turkey burger and no one was around. So after I took my Vespa on some errands, I climbed into that u-shaped booth to see what would happen.

First of all, like always, the server came by with two table settings. I placed my drink order and she brought it, then disappeared for some time. Apparently she just assumed I was waiting for someone. After all, I go to the Emory quite often and have never eaten alone in my life.

Eventually she came back to ask "are you okay?" (verbatim) and I said yes, I was flying solo and I would need a turkey burger to continue being okay.

Eating alone turned out not to be that bad.

I'm on my iPhone all the time any way, and tonight I learned that it wants to replace the word "doodles" with "doodies" (here's why I found out). Plus, there was no one around to swipe any of my aioli sauce.

And yes, the turkey burger was damn good. That's why I considered eating alone in the first place.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sea Dog

The brilliant combination of a fish stick and a hot dog bun. Thanks to Eric for the tip.

[Click the photo to see it in its not-cut-off glory ... stupid template]

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mountain Dew Throwback

Note: This was written last Friday for the most part, so forgive the out-of-sync time element. - Nate

Sometimes everything in your life comes together "just right." Case-in-point: Last night, during NBC's Thursday prime time line-up, I saw a pretty-looking (and "groovy") ad for Pepsi Throwback. It played at least once per commercial break, or so it seemed.

I kept telling my girlfriend that I would have to try the stuff soon, but last night wasn't the night because we were headed to the midnight screening of Wolverine.

Fast forward to today: I found myself extremely exhausted and hardly able to digest the heavy tech specs I need to translate into a truck website, so I walked down to the kitchen to see what the vending machines had to offer. I almost went for plain old Mountain Dew, but then a familar-looking label caught my eye. It was the Mountain Dew logo of my youth, adorning a 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew Throwback. Sure, it's not Pepsi throwback, but I try to avoid Pepsi at all costs under normal circumstances.

The logo also reminds me of the era during which my youngest uncle was known to subsist on a diet of only Mountain Dew and Captain Crunch.

A quick side note: There are about three consecutive days every year during which time I crave Mountain Dew, and then I quickly get over it. Last week was that time for me in 2009. I sure hoped the natural sugar in Mountain Dew Throwback would be enough to win me over and convince me to finish the bottle.

Shortly after I opened the bottle that had been residing in slot C6 in the office vending machine, one of my oh-so-fun meeting marathons kicked off. Luckily for the first one, my role was minor so I had time to reflect on Mountain Dew Throwback (MDT from now on) and make some notes.

MDT definitely tastes different, and I would expect this to be even more pronounced if you are a person who Does the Dew on a daily basis. It's not as overwhelmingly sweet, thanks to the natural cane sugar used in place of high fructose corn syrup ("and/or sugar"). There is also not much of an aftertaste.

I, personally, am a fan of the cane sugar craze and I am known to use Sugar in the Raw in my coffee at Panera and I usually steal a few packets for use in my weekend coffee from the New York Bagel by my house. I'll also take this opportunity to tell you that I hate Splenda and if I see you using it, I will become slightly skeptical of you but we can still be friends.

Due to the turned-down sweetness, I could probably drink MDT more often, but the next question was, does MDT pack the same punch?

Well, it certainly got my anxious leg a-kickin' for my first meeting, but shortly into my second meeting I was nodding off as badly the time I fell asleep at a red light on my way to work this one time.

Anyway, Mountain Dew Throwback is (to me at least) more drinkable because it is less sweet, but it surely can't contend with midnight movie exhaustion, so it misses its target audience right there.

And I didn't finish the bottle.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The 7-11 Mutant Berry Slurpee: A guest post

On Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 10:12 p.m., my friend Mike "tweeted" about wanting to know why 7-11 would create a Slurpee flavor called "Mutant Berry." I suggested that he review it for Nate's Plate and he agreed. I quickly forgot about this until last Friday when he asked for my email address so he could send me his review. I assume he got to sample the frozen treat at work since he photographed it next to a fax machine and he doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who owns a fax machine. What we have here is more of a sneak preview about the consequences of this concoction, which happens to be neon orange -- a color unaffiliated with any berry having regular genetics. Also noteworthy is the fact that he would "never!!!!" drink it again.

Armageddon is upon us. Why in God's name is 7-11 selling a Slurpee flavor titled "Mutant Berry"?? In a world of "EXTREME" beverages at my disposal with contents like Guarana (which NO ONE knows what it is, but I thought it's what you call bat shit), why would someone want to "mutate" a berry? The title of said drink is, in fact, accurate; it is like no flavor known to the natural world. It is a pomegranate / cherry / lime fusion that I can only describe as "the end of the world ... in a cup." 20 ounces of a frosty beverage that would scare Moses himself right out of his sandals. This is not a good sign of things to come ...

Get on down to 7-11 and let me know what you think. -Nate

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cock-flavoured soup mix

... It's a link. Thanks again, Amber!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jones' Good Ass BBQ & Foot Massage

Something to hold you over until my next review ...

Thanks, Amber.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Ice Cream Dance

Since you all told me on Facebook that you love when I post videos instead of eating real food, here's a music video about ice cream in the "Baltimore" music style.

Thanks, Rachel.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Viral" videos for Domino's Pizza

Call me a muck-raker. Blame it on the fact that I was too tired to eat anything exciting last night. Either way, here's this video of some jackasses messing with food in the back of a Domino's Pizza. This is particularly intriguing to me since I went to college in Ypsilanti, MI (here's a song about it) where the first Domino's Pizza was established.

This is certainly on topic for my "low-brow food" theme.

See more>

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I have been eating like a pregnant woman

I ate like a pregnant woman yesterday and the day before.

Sunday was a real throwback to my college days: I dusted my house and ate a late lunch consisting of a salad, picante chicken Ramen noodles, and some more deep-fried peanuts. I felt nauseous and had a headache. Then, for dinner, I had pizza, bread sticks, and two more salads. And I felt better.

Yesterday (Monday), I had a garlic bagel on my way to the office, some Andy Capp's Hot Fries at around 10 am, a Kashi Tuscan Veggie Bake for lunch, then a "hungry size" bag of pretzels, then a snickers bar. Dinner was Morningstar Farms simulated buffalo wings, followed by two leftover pancakes from Saturday morning. I felt nauseous and had a headache. Then I went to the grocery store and only bought healthy snacks for the rest of the week, like carrots, celery and roasted red chili pepper hummus.

This is why I didn't review the top-secret Canadian Doritos I recently picked up in Toronto.

This is a picture of a small piece of double-chocolate cheesecake with some gold flakes on it. It was served to me on a train from Toronto to Windsor, Ontario.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Uncle Bud's Deep Fried Peanuts

As I was shopping at my local high-end grocer the other day, I noticed a new snack product on the shelf near the organic lettuce where I found Snapea Crisps: Uncle Bud's Deep Fried Peanuts. There were a few varieties available, and I chose "Hot." According to Uncle Bud, these are "so good you can et 'm SHELL-N-ALL" (capitalization courtesy of Bud himself).

Normally eating peanut shells would be quite terrible, but I was feeling adventurous. It was nearly 10:30 and I just had two beers, plus I was already in a mood for insomnia, so I figured "anything goes."

The first peanut, shell-on, was nearly flavorless and spiceless, minus the slightest hint of garlic. Perhaps the gum I had been chewing just 10 minutes earlier was interfering. I ate on.

Three peanuts in, the spice was barely growing. I was expecting to wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night with my innards on fire. It was time to try one without the shell. Luckily, many of the shells were split in half, just begging to be removed. Unfortunately, the minimal seasonings did not make it to the inner goodness, so the peanuts tasted plain, if not slightly altered.

Well, now I had a lonely shell sitting there, and I was not about to waste it. Once again, garlic, spice -- a little bit more this time, particularly at the rear sides of the tongue -- and weird peanut shell texture.

I ate the next peanut whole, and it tasted exactly like normal mashed potatoes. At this point, I was not sure what the hell was going on. The most exciting thing that happened during my snacking was the discovery of a single peanut in a single-peanut-sized shell.

Yet, somehow I ate on -- probably because these tasted a lot like normal peanuts, which are pretty damn good. And I did find myself eating them "shell n all" because the soybean oil must have softened the slightly charred shells up. Uncle Bud did one thing right, though: He found a way to get the spice to linger on the tongue for an extended length of time to increase snacking duration.

In a nut shell: You should buy these if you love normal peanuts, are lazy and have a low tolerance for spice.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The legend of Thunder Crunch

Ah yes. Food package essays. They’re great because I know that if I am hungry for a delicious snack and I am having trouble making up my mind, I can just read a few paragraphs and make an informed decision. Here’s an essay found on the back of a bag of Alaska Chip Company jalapeño-flavored Volcano Chips that my beautiful and exciting girlfriend Jayme brought me from her trip to Alaska.

The essay gets even better when you replace the word “miner” with “minor” and my thoughts on the actual product follow it.

The Alaska Chip Story
People in the Matanuska Valley have long known the secret of Alaskan potatoes. Potatoes so full of crunch they aren’t grown, they’re mined [1]. Potato miners don’t seek the spotlight, you won’t see them in many headlines, they are searching for a potato so elusive, so robust, that many said it was just a story told by old sourdoughs[2, 3]. Some laughed at the potato miners, mocking their epic quest for a spud known only as “Thunder Crunch.”

For others, just hearing the words Thunder Crunch fills their hearts with fear. They blame the many earthquakes, aurora borealis and other phenomena in the Northland on these hearty vegetables [4, 5]. Some even said searching for the legendary spud should be banned, due to the many dangers involved.

In the spring of ’03, legend became reality when deep below the Matanuska Valley a rumble was heard that would forever change the way we think of chips. Thunder Crunch was discovered by the miners, and those unsung heroes have brought them to the surface to be enjoyed by everyone.

There are still those who fear the legend, but for the brave souls willing to reap the rewards of the potato miner, life just got a little better [6].

[1] Does “crunch” imply that they grow in caves, or tens of feet below the surface?
[2] This is a really great sentence.
[3] WTF is a “sourdough”? Is this really how they talk in Alaska?
[4] I thought there was only one Thunder Crunch.
[5] I thought potatoes were “tubers,” not vegetables.
[6] I disagree. Read on to see why.

The first thing you will notice about this product is its uncanny resemblance to a bag of Cape Cod Chips. I have not researched this further, but this can only mean two things: There is a chip company out there that only has factories in quirky geographic locations, or the Alaska Chip Company loves plagiarizing.

Any way, I was pretty excited about eating something with “volcano” in the name because I was such a huge fan of the short-lived Volcano Taco from Taco Bell. Although Volcano Chips were indeed delicious, the experience of consuming them was not entirely pleasant.

At first bite, they were immediately spicy, with a prominent and genuine jalapeño taste. The spice wasn’t too intense though, so the only eruption was my nose as the medium spice level caused it to run. I went through half of the 5-ounce bag (if not more) then told myself to go dormant [7].

Five minutes after consumption, there was a chive-like aftertaste in the back of my throat. This was nothing compared to the rumblings in my stomach. I was feeling nauseous and had a headache. It was like an instant hangover from the chips. I was actually dizzy. I needed a nap.

I suppose I can’t blame the chips entirely though. Prior to eating them, I had finished a breakfast which had included an “everything bagel,” a donut, some coffee and some hot chocolate.

So there you have it: Volcano chips taste pretty good, and I have terrible eating habits when I am at work.

[7] This is a volcano joke.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Alaskan reindeer sausage

If you know me (and you probably do, because why would you be reading this if you didn't?) you might be aware that when I go on a road trip, I need two items with me: Pizzeria Pretzel Combos (The cheese snack of NASCAR) and some sort of dehydrated meat product. In light of recent events, I now know what I will be buying if I ever find myself on the road in Anchorage, Alaska.

My lovely girlfriend Jayme recently returned from a trip to Alaska, bearing goods both edible and otherwise. Despite her limited meat intake, she was kind enough to bring me an "Alaska Jack's Red Pepper Hunter Steak with Reindeer Meat."

After last week's sabbatical I knew my return to the blogosphere had to be really special. I could think of no better way to do that than by consuming some reindeer -- our friends who help Santa bring us gifts at Christmas!

I can't wait any longer ... Let me open my present!

Upon opening the package, which was thankfully incredibly easy to do -- unlike many kinds of jerky, my nose was filled with a rather typical "summer sausage" odor. And by typical, I mean 100% mouth-watering.

The sausage was about the size and color of an overdone 7-11 hotdog (normal ones were a childhood post-church staple for me) without the wrinkles. The rounded ends had been cut off, like a fat cigar ready to be smoked so the flavor lingers on your tongue for hours, no matter how many times you brush your teeth. I was hoping the flavor of Alaska Jack's hunter steak would stay with me for an equal period of time.

After one bite of the meat cylinder, the aforementioned desire for lingering flavor grew even stronger. The first taste tasted like your typical damn-good non-meal sausage. Then a slight burn developed, grew ever so slightly, and tapered off.

I have never tasted reindeer so I can't tell you how it affected the flavor. However, I feel 100% comfortable telling you that I wish this sausage had been two feet long. Perhaps I can persuade Jayme's vegetarian uncle in Anchorage to mail me a crate.

I guess the lesson here is that delicious food is key to brevity.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Food tattoos: A plate of shrimp

As seen on a fellow Moped Army member.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Point of sale genius marketing: NOH Hawaiian iced tea

Once upon a time, I was invited to a "shrimp and white wine party" with some friends. On the way to the party, we stopped at the store to get a shrimp tray and I noticed something in the checkout aisle: NOH Hawaiian Iced Tea. Their slogan is "Say yes to NOH!" and that's exactly what I did. Its placement combined with the tagline made it ideal for point of sale impulse purchases.

NOH sat on the counter in my kitchen for a month. I knew I was going to write about it, but lately I have had higher priorities than drinking a pouch of iced tea. After crawling exhaustedly into bed to read at around 8:30 last night with no pending review, I knew I'd be consuming NOH this morning.

To me, NOH smells familiar but not like iced tea. It smells like weird oatmeal or something. But maybe I am wrong, since my friend Erika who bought NOH for the exact same reasons as me claims it smells like regular instant iced tea to her. Maybe we're both right and instant iced tea always smells like weird oatmeal regardless of whether or not it came from a volcanic island.

"Weird oatmeal" does not really do this iced tea justice though. Why? NOH is damn good, and probably refreshing too. I didn't even have to add sugar, since cane sugar is already in the mix. The package says you can even alter how much water you use "for personal taste" -- how intimate.

There's nothing remarkable about the flavor (as in "a slight hint of volcanic ash is what really makes it") but it's remarkable that I want to drink a gallon of this stuff on a frigid March morning. The variety I bought is lemon flavored, so it tastes fairly close to an Arnold Palmer Iced Tea, one of my summer staples, which is probably why I am saying "yes" to NOH.

And in case you are curious, I have no idea what NOH stands for.


Friday, February 27, 2009


I know this is old news and you've already seen it, but I really have to acknowledge how much I love the Denny's "Nannerpuss" commercial.

The Perlorian Brothers, the guys who made it, are obviously geniuses and I would probably take a job from them if they offered it to me. Just sayin'.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Burger King Burger Shots (A guest post from down Texas way)

One day my friend Matt, resident of Austin, Texas and finalist in the High School Lunch Memories Contest, sent me an "instant message" to tell me that he was surprised that I had not yet reviewed Burger King's Burger Shots. I replied that I was also surprised and I thought that he would also be a good man for the job. He agreed, so here you have it. By the way, this is Matt:

Living about a block away from a Burger King, and being without cable television, I first learned about BK Burgershots from the illustrious block letter marquee fixed underneath the Burger King sign. I initially envisioned some horrid burger-in-a-cup scenario; online research revealed these burgershots to be the far tamer threat of bite-size burgers. Burger King is no stranger to questionable names: witness the Angry Whopper or Croissan'wich. An infrequent fast-food consumer, I am nonetheless drawn in by all things gimmicky, and I knew I needed some of these tiny sandwiches.

Little Lady Laura and I stopped in for lunch today. I ordered a six-pack of burgershots and a four piece chicken tender, she ordered a whopper. We both got fittingly tiny plastic cups for water. The flat panel television was playing Disney's High School Musical, keeping up the theme of digestable, disposable flash-in-the-pan pop garbage. But here, I'm being too hard on the little guys.

They were perfectly adequate miniature representations of the standard BK burger: meat, cheese, two pickles, ketchup and mustard. The patties featured the ubiquitous grill-marks (I think Burger King would put char marks on the soda, if they could), belying the microwave prep I see every time I order here. One disturbing fact: the burgers are connected, joined at the patty, and the box encourages a "tear-and-share" method of dispersal, as if you and and a friend were only really hungry enough for 1 oz of meat a piece.

The box/product appeared to be sponsored by Heinz Ketchup, apparently "the only ketchup fit for a king". The paragraph on the other side of the box stated that these mini burgers were "designed to move", though I'm not sure how much more handy or aerodynamic they are than a regular hamburger, especially with their siamese-twin attachment. As a comparison, I snuck a few bites of the Little Lady's Whopper while she was in the restroom, and the cornocupia of veggies, sauces, and more substantial meat beat the pants off the burgershots. They were never intended for this sort of competition, though, and for what they are they elicited a not-condescending "meh" from both the Lady and myself.

Again, perfectly adequate carbon copies of the standard hamburger. Not really enough of a taste sensation for me to order again, though I am keen to try the breakfast shots. What can I say? I'm a sucker for tiny hamburgers. One final note: these are not sliders. Sliders sometimes have greasier buns and "special" sauce, but they always have grilled onions, which were sadly missing from the burgershots. This is what separates them from White Castle or the immortal Bates Hamburgers of greater Wayne and Livonia.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bacon Jam vs. Baconnaise in BJBALT form

This one goes out to the Onion AV Club Taste Test team, who always gets the first bite of bacon derivatives. Chew on this!

Before we ruin our appetites, a little background is in order. I first heard about Bacon Jam in a post on a completely irrelevant message board. It was being sold by some scooter shop out west that was charging something like $14 for shipping. Being the occasionally wise consumer, I Googled "Bacon Jam" and was able to order it directly from the source -- Skillet, a roving diner in Airstream Trailer form out west. What will the Starbucks-addled minds of the Pacific Northwest think of next?!

Bacon Jam. It sweats through its own jar. Looks like cat food and smells like beef jerky. Perfectly suitable as a bacon substitute for a BLT. Right? Well ...

Bacon in non-strip form certainly has this going for it: If you put it on a sandwich, that sandwich will be very easy to cut in half, and you don't have to worry about failing to chomp through it and bringing an entire strip along with your bite. Of course, the tradeoff is that there is no crisp bacon crunch.

So, how does Bacon Jam taste? I had some friends come over to Nate's Plate HQ to tell me just that.

We made some "BLTs" using Bacon Jam as the meat, and Baconnaise (Kosher and vegetarian, from the people who brought us Bacon Salt) instead of regular mayo. I even got fancy and put avocado on them because the grocery store I went to sells avocados and tomatoes next to each other (clearly a display marketing genius's finest work). Sourdough was the bread of the evening. For the sake of accuracy, these sandwiches will be referred to as BJBALTs (Bacon Jam, Baconnaise, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato).

The orange stuff is Baconnaise and the brown stuff is Bacon Jam.

The sandwiches were washed down with the nectar of the gods known as Magic Hat #9. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm not a big drinker, there is a good chance this stuff would turn me into an alcoholic.

Here were reactions to the first two BJBALTs:

"In some ways this is superior to a regular BLT."
"I'm not really tasting the Baconnaise" (this one will prove to be untrue).
"When you told me about Bacon Jam, I was expecting a gelatin with chunks of bacon suspended in it ...(Instead) it's like a paté."

Me (internal monologue)
"This is pretty good. Not quite normal, but I would definitely eat this again." I didn't even notice that the bacon texture was missing.

"It kinda tastes like a cheeseburger. Like a Wendy's Jr. Bacon to be specific."
"When I first heard the term Bacon Jam, I almost threw up a little. But you get the lettuce and tomato consistency and forget about the jam."

At this point, Logan wanted a second BJBALT even though both Stacey and I swore he had previously said he was not much of a BLT fan. He claims he said he just wasn't a tomato fan. As round two was being prepared, Amber, bacon fan supreme, arrived toting an electric griddle that she generously bestowed upon Nate's Plate HQ.

The second course was served soon enough and it proved to be quite enlightening.

"I don't really taste bacon."
"I don't taste bacon at all and I just had a BLT yesterday so the taste is fresh in my mind."
"The texture is like a tuna sandwich."
"I want real bacon"

As for me, I was discovering that something about the BJBALT was seriously wreaking havoc on the taste of my Magic Hat #9 and that is a major offense. I was beginning to realize that this was not a substitute for actual bacon.

Stacey disagreed. Then, we decided to evaluate Bacon Jam and Baconnaise on their own by spreading them onto tiny pieces of bread -- a course of action that would soon make her realize the error of her ways.

First up: Bacon Jam. Descriptors included "ham salad" (think deviled ham in a chicken salad-like concoction) and "vaguely smoky." Everyone agreed that some sort of sweet onion seemed to be an ingredient.

The only ingredients listed on the Skillet Street Food site are: Rendered "really really good bacon," "a bunch of spices," onions and "etc.," which I believe is like MSG.[1]

How about Baconnaise, the intended condiment? It proved to be responsible for the earlier falsely perceived success of Bacon Jam.

Stacey summed it up best saying, "The only reason I thought that it tasted like a BLT was the Baconnaise."

Pushing Baconnaise farther up the deliciousness totem pole is the fact that while both it and Bacon Jam have to be ordered online, Baconnaise arrives in mere days while Bacon Jam takes weeks.

This is not to say that Bacon Jam is a complete failure, though. Perhaps it's not even meant as a bacon replacement, but as a new kind of bacon product, filling a niche that few of us knew existed. To this end, Bacon Jam will next be evaluated on its own to better assess its ideal use, so stay seated and don't throw your napkin away just yet.

[1] This is a joke. Back up to the article.