Monday, August 30, 2010

Chain-O-Rama: Burger King Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed XT

Forgot my gym bag today, so no lunch time workout, even though I really am craving a calorie burn. So, instead, I went out for lunch. I was thinking Boston Market... but, laziness had me closer to the office and I went to the Burger King on West 86th Street, just East of Michigan Road.

I like BK a lot. BK was tied to one of my first "food opinions" as a kid, when I liked to proclaim the superiority of BK over McDonalds. Anyhow, I don't go to BK all that often. And, even though their larger burger, the XT, has been on the market since February, I'd never tried one of those. So, since I'd been pretty quiet on this blog the last week, I figured I'd try an XT. Well, not only did I try the XT, but I tried a new Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed XT. Figured I'd go with as new an item as I could find.

But, when I returned just now to my desk, I couldn't really find anything about this burger on BK's site, or on other food news sites. There was news of BK mentioning a stuffed burger was in the works, but nothing concrete. I am, therefore, assuming that Indy is a test market for this new product.

So, I tried it out. I don't' know what the standard preparation is, but after losing 50 pounds as a 14 year old, one thing I have mostly kept as a food resolution is to avoid mayonnaise. I held the mayo and added ketchup and mustard, but had the stuffed burger standard except for that. The meat was dense and had clumps of green and yellow. The jalapeno taste was prevalent, but I felt like it lacked in cheesiness (I suppose I could have added a slice of cheese). The burger has that expected BK taste, so it was pleasing if you like Burger King. Mayo likely would have made it a smoother taste. I don't remember any onions, and so they were either very stingy with the onions at this location, or it isn't part of the standard preparation. My recommendation - add onions, can't get enough of the stinky foods in my opinion.

I'm sorry about the iPhone picture above. Along with being a reluctant food photographer, I'm never sure if anyone out there is actually interested in images of partially consumed food (I suspect "no"), but this seemed to make more sense than the plain burger before it was pierced by my teeth.

Overall, stuffed burgers seems like a great idea whose time has come for fast food purveyors. The taste of this one was pleasing, and had some fire, but still seemed to fit a mass population that BK aims for. The bakery bun is decent, but I prefer the old poppy seed bun on the whopper (just like I prefer the quarter-pounder bun over the bun McDonald's serves on the angus burgers). As far as a variation from their menu, I preferred the Angry Whopper over this one. As far as price, this small sized meal came in at $6.20 with tax. That's pretty decent, but I'm not sure how they'll price it once it is rolled out nationally.

The verdict: 3 belly rubs (out of 5). Decent value, great idea, first to mass market.

Post Script: Are you aware that for the most part, Burger King goes under the name Hungry Jack's in Australia? My first big trip overseas came around Christmas of 1995 with two of my best friends to satisfy one of the guy's quest to dive at the Great Barrier Reef. We never ate at Hungry Jack's, but somehow it became part of our trip lexicon, though it was shifted to Happy Jacks party way through the trip.

P.S2: AHT reports that a regional burger chain in the DC area is about to have a Snooki Burger.

P.S3: Little did I know that both the Burger Business and A Hamburger Today sites did not know that the stuffed XT had hit test markets. Your friendly mystery blogger is actually breaking some news!

Yummy's Grill

I found myself on the East side at lunch time last Friday, so I decided to stop in at a location I've been noticing for a few years (Mom lives on the East side). Yummy's Grill is on Post Road and 10th Street, very close to my early stomping grounds out by Warren Central High School (Go Warriors!). Yummy's is in one of several old Roslyn Bakery locations, but it definitely seems to have "stuck" as I think it has been here for a few years now.

[I really need to clean the windshield!]

It seems somewhat counter-intuitive to say that I like that Yummy's has one of those almost comically expansive menu's. The items are numbered, and I believe the integers made their way into the 70s. This seems kind of contradictory to the idea of "sticking to your knitting" or doing one thing really well, but it reminded me of a lot of the small grills in places like Chicago.

Anyhow, I had one goal, and that was to try their Italian Beef sandwich.

I really enjoyed this sandwich. The special, with drink and fries, came in at $7.75. The sandwich was about 6" long, but loaded with tender, juicy, sliced roast beef. The bread was from a French loaf, not your own roll, but it was crusty, flaky and yet soft inside. The sandwich was salty, but that was what i was hoping for and expecting. The giardineria peppers are a treat, and if I could change one thing, I'd have asked for more of them. The fries were from a bag and very average.

I was thinking of this place compared to Fat Dan's Deli in Broad Ripple... and, really, I'd pick Yummy's overall. While I might have just had a really bad french fry experience at Dan's, this sandwich stacks up favorably, and if location and travel isn't part of the decision, I'd rather get this combo for $7.75 than the nearly $12 at Fat Dan's.

The verdict: 4 belly rubs (out of 5). A great sandwich at a good price.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Taiwan Tea House

First off - the Taiwan Tea House is currently in the process of moving further West along the North side of 82nd Street. It will soon be open next to the Barnes & Noble.

Chinese food has, for me, taken an interesting evolution. It is similar to the current trend with Mexican food, which has been away from the big national chains and instead seems to be primarily focused on small, local places or regional chains. Chinese food has travelled this path well before the Mexican food trend, and Chinese food now seems to often be found to be heavily focused in buffet style restaurants. Now, hey, I'm not too snobby for a buffet, and I love me some General Tso's...

I'm not really personally up on whether there were very many large, national chains for Chinese food along the line of Chi Chi's for Mexican food. Nowadays, when I think of Chinese food chains, I only think of Panda Express (orange chicken madness!) in the quick serve segment, and PF Changs in the restaurant style.

Anyhow, while the buffets kind of all blur together (I miss Forbidden City which used to be up on 82nd in the Castleton area), there are some decent local Chinese places. Taiwan Tea House is one of them.

All of the dishes are at a good price point, with most entrees coming in at $6.99. On our recent visit, we started with both the pot-stickers (as expected, but not greasy and tasty), and the super-spicy won-tons (nice heat, but they pepper oil was a bit too heavy). Mom had the best fried tofu I'd ever had (okay, not a large sample size). I'd get this as an appetizer, but still don't see myself ordering tofu for a meal. It was light, crispy, with lots of vegetables and in a tangy sauce. The Better Half had the asparagus in special sauce, and while not spicy, the vegetables still had some crunchy and it was a nice, yet not overpowering sauce.

I had the minced pork noodles. It was kind of a ramen dish, with a heavier sauce, not a broth. The pork was ground and browned with a sauce. It was okay, but as you got deeper into the bowl, the sauce was thicker and the sodium was more exponential, and it wore me down very quickly. Overall, though, the food is tasty and well prepared. It is satisfying and filling at a good price, and that says a lot.

Pre-move, at least, the restaurant is clean with nice, efficient service. What is a bit unique here is that you can get bubble teas at Taiwan Tea House (you can also get them at Saigon). Bubble tea was really common in Toronto before and during the time I was dating the Better Half. It has waned in popularity some, but it is still pretty common there. Bubble tea takes these large tapioca beads which are cooked in a sugar sauce and added to tea or fruit juice based drinks. I'm not crazy about the tapioca, but it is a fun drink. If you had one to go, you could always use the thick straw to launch these giant balls in an epic spit ball fight.

The verdict: 3.75 belly rubs (out of 5). Good value, good preparation, satisfying flavors.

Post Script: for an interesting story on Vietnamese sandwiches, bubble teas, and a little wondering about restaurants stealing from each other, check out the prologue of this This American Life story.

Friday, August 20, 2010


So, what would happen if a Maxine's Chicken & Waffles delivery truck collided with a Flying Cupcake delivery truck?

Go to #12 in this slide show for the answer......

Mudbugs and Gumbo A Go Go

Across the last two weeks, I've made visits to both of these places. I've not gone looking for Cajun food in any other cities besides New Orleans and Baton Rogue, so I'm not sure if Indy has an out of proportion Cajun representation for a Midwest city or not, but it is kind of surprising how MUCH Cajun food we have.

I really love Papa Roux for po boys and Yats for the etouffes and other "stews" there. Can't wait for Bar Yats to open, and to see what menu variations they'll have of Cajun classics.

We made our first visit to Mudbugs Cajun Cafe recently and... there is no need for us to go back. There are too many options out there now. We arrived in the evening, and it was slow, but I don't really find that an excuse, even if they do more business at lunch (which I'm not sure of). But, it was well within the supper window, despite there only being two other tables occupied. Between three of us, we tried many items. The gumbo was weak and tasted like it had coffee in it. The Red Beans and Rice were good once enough hot sauce was on it. The Crawfish Casserole was cheesy but too soft and gummy. The Black-Eyed Pea Jambalaya was interesting in name, but not very good in reality. Worst of all, the rice was not good. In fact, it was kind of crunchy. Rice is basic, a staple, but you should be able to execute it consistently. Just not good, no need to return.

The Mudbugs verdict: 1 belly rub (out of 5).

I've been to Gumbo A Go Go several times, and I like it quite a bit. I think it is a bit more expensive than it needs to be for the full serving, but the food is consistent and with increased visits it is getting into competing-with-Yats territory for me. On my most recent visit, I wanted to try the sandwiches more. So, I had both the Datwich (turkey) and the Beef Debris (juicy, shredded roast beef). And... They're really good. The bread is crusty yet soft. While the turkey from the Datwich is kind of gloppy and almost too minced, it has a fantastic flavor. The roast beef maintains is shredded form much better, but I wanted some hot sauce to add some heat and vinegar to it. I really like most of their dishes, especially the voodoo chicken. The gumbo is warm, savory, lots of pepper, and full of chicken and sausage.

When comparing the two, I still place Yats above Gumbo A Go Go due to their superior etouffes.

The Gumbo A Go Go verdict: 4 belly rubs (out of 5).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sandra Rice & Noodles

It was a birthday dinner on the east side and we ended up at Sandra Rice and Noodles, on Pendleton Pike at the far end of Lawrence. This restaurants is a bit of a blend of Vietnamese items, some Thai, and some more in line with "traditional" Chinese.

The menu at Sandra has been updated and expanded a bit since our last visit, though the menu on the home page still reflects the old menu. This is a very clean, nicely decorated simple restaurant in a rather mundane strip mall. On previous visits, the service has always been warm and attentive. Maybe it was the weather and the storm brewing this past Friday night, but the service was just completely off this evening. One other table is all that was occupied when we arrived. We were definitely noticed, as evidenced by the eye contact and eyebrow raise, but... then, we were ignored for a bit. After several minutes of sitting at a table with no menus, I wondered if maybe they had changed to counter service, so I went to the counter to get menus. We were shooed back to the table, and menus and water glasses followed us.

We had two appetizers - the spring rolls and the egg rolls, and both were good. Mom had the rice noodle soup, which comes with this huge amount of extras that you can put into the soup.

The Better Half had her Vietnamese favorite, a Bun dish with the grilled pork and a cut up egg roll. Sandra's version comes with less of the basil and shredded lettuce than some places, but it is an excellent dish.

I ordered the curried fish. And,.... I waited. The appetizers had come out at different times, and they brought out the first two entrees in a more staccato fashion, so I figured the lack of my food and the lack of explanation must just be how they go about things. But, when my other two dinner companions were both halfway done and I hadn't received anything more, nor seen the waitstaff again, well, something seemed off (and, there was one other occupied table at the time we were there). We mentioned something, a bleat of "curry fish" rings out behind the counter, and bit of a hustle started in the kitchen. The salad that comes with my meal arrived with an "I'm sorry". It was asked if the tardy meal was forgotten, but the question was avoided. Now, obviously it was forgotten, so we likely really didn't need to know the direct answer. But, it annoyed me that the reason for an apology was not provided. In time the curry arrived, and it was savory, and very well executed. But, I was annoyed by the approach of the owner. There was a general feeling from our table that maybe they wanted to avoid admitting anything so as to avoid providing any discount on the meal.

And, sure enough, when we went to the counter to pay, they did not on their own acknowledge the mistake in any way by initiating a discount towards our bill. And, it is not about the cost to me, it is the principle. Pride is a silly thing, and this fits into being penny-wise and dollar foolish. The approach of the owner makes me very unlikely to go to Sandra's Rice & Noodles again.

The verdict: 1.5 belly rubs (out of 5). Food was 4 rub territory, the service ruined it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Canadian Candy Bars

O, Canada indeed. There's many great things about Canada, even if many Americans are completely unfamiliar with our amiable neighbors to the north and Canada's geography. My dear dad, upon being told that the Better Half's parents lived 8 hours North of Toronto (Timmins, Ontario - home of Shania Twain), he asked - "Is that the arctic circle?" He was being a bit facetious, but... the Better Half is often asked innocent questions that seem to show how little some know about Canada ("do they grow apples in Canada?").

Besides being the land of nativity for my dear wife, Canada has brought us basketball (James Naismith was born in Canada), so any good Hoosier should be thankful for that. Even if you forgive Canada for the whole Celine Dion thing, there are lots of famous Canadians. This old episode from This American Life is an interesting pondering about being Canadian (stream it for free!), I especially like Ian Brown's definitions of how being Canadian and being American differs (act 2).

Anyhow, I enjoy some of the simple differences I find between mass marketed food in the US v. Canada. You can't hardly find a Taco Bell there (actually makes me sad) and they are way more into donuts than "we" are. I also find that it is interesting that different candy bars are marketed there.

From this picture, I wanted to talk about three - the Coffee Crisp, the Crunchie, and Mr. Big. However, the in-laws were visiting, and Mr. Big was consumed before I had a chance to try it.

The Crunchie is definitely a new experience texture-wise. It is a sponge toffee coated in milk chocolate. The sponge toffee, though, is in no way soft and spongy. It is very airy and light, and very crisp. So, with a bite, it is a lot of crunch, the type the might be too "loud" in your head as you eat it. The toffee is a rich flavor, but is not too powerful. The milk chocolate is a nice partner to the chocolate. I do like it quite a bit.

The Coffee Crisp is a bar that I am kind of amazed that is not more fully marketed in the US. Coffee is so popular, it is paired well with chocolate, and the wafer bar of the coffee crisp is a lot like a big Kit Kat. It doesn't have brand equity here, but... I think it is something that could easily be accepted. Friends we've introduced it to really like it.

I personally have an odd relationship to coffee. I like the smell of it. I like coffee-flavored things such as ice cream. I liked the very short-lived Coca Cola Blak, too (for a cool list of recent new products from Coca-Cola worldwide, check out this page). But, I don't like drinking it, especially black. If you take me to Starbucks, I can get a froofy drink that I don't mind (if you put enough sugar and whipped cream into it) but... I just don't like "real" coffee.

I do like the Coffee Crisp, though I don't pick it out very often. If you have a chance, give it a try.

Now, my favorite Canadian product other than the Better Half is still Bare Naked Ladies. You can go old school with "If I Had $1,000,000" or a bit later with my favorite song, "The Old Apartment", but while I care less and less about music (I'm getting old!), I still really enjoy their stuff.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fat Dan's Deli

I wanted something savory, filling and tasty. I've read some great things about Fat Dan's Deli, and I've been wanting to try it. The guys at Would I Buy It Again seemed to really like this place, and I trust their opinions. Indianapolis Eater raved about it, and compared it to Portillo's... well, I love the Italian Beef from Portillo's, too. In fact, the location in Merrillville, off of I-65, is a typical stop, especially if we're trying to plan around traffic in Chicago coming or going. So I was stoked to try it.

I was working from home, and decided I had the time to run out. I like my Italian beef sandwich wet (extra "juice") so I was eating it there, not taking it home. I got there at the height of lunch time... er, well, at least I'd think it would be since it was right at noon. The small restaurant had very little seating (maybe for as many as 18) but only 4 others there for the 20 minutes or so I was there. The place looks like it has been there for a long time, which is remarkable as it has only been open for about a year (I'm guessing). The place just feel right, feels like something right from the Windy City. I was quite encouraged.

I ordered the Italian beef with the fries and drink combo. The sandwich is very good. It fits all of the details that I've come to expect from many years of visits up to Chicago. The sandwich is loaded with thinly sliced beef. The peppers are spicy and plentiful. It's right, the sandwich hits all the right notes. My only criticism of the sandwich is that some of the beef was a bit tough.

Now, the fries... the fries were a different story. They are described on the menu chalkboard as the "best fries in the universe". But, at least on this visit, they were woefully short of this boast. These are hand-cut, skin-on fries, and they likely can be very good. But, today, my goodness, most of the fries were undercooked, firm, and yet somehow too greasy, too. Best in the universe? I think they'd have struggled to be honorable mention on Mercury. Hopefully it was just an execution problem, but they didn't match the quality of the sandwich at all.

This Italian beef combo came in at $11.99, with the sandwich alone being $7.50. Now, an Italian beef at Portillo's is $4.45. I prefer mine with both hot and sweet peppers, which takes the cost at Portillo's to $5.15. I believe the size of the sandwiches are similar. Maybe the shipping costs for the components are much greater than I realize, but... this offering from Fat Dan's just seems too expensive. And, what's up with the ketchup packets and no ketchup bottles? That was just an annoyance.

The verdict: 3 belly rubs (out of 5). Great sandwich, poor fries, seems expensive.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Road Trip: Quaker Steak & Lube

We made up our mind on some closet system stuff from Ikea, so we headed back down to Cinci on Friday after work. The West Chester Ikea has a deal running on delivery -free delivery up to 100 miles if you buy a mattress. And, you can have anything else you buy delivered with the mattress. We needed a new mattress for the guest room, so... we went back.

Anyhow, as we were zipping around 275 on the NW corner of the city, I spied a Quaker Steak & Lube location in a newly developed area of strip malls, chain restaurants and big box stores. I used to live in NE Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron, and fondly remembered the original Lube over in Sharon, PA... so, we decided to stop in.

Now, first, I love the punny name of this chain. But, I find it kind of an interesting trend that one-of-a-kind locations that are heavily theme oriented (like the original Lube) are usually far more fun than theme oriented chains - like any Planet Hollywood, or this Lube location in Colerain, OH.

I also need to mention that I kind of wore out on the buffalo wing some time in the 90's. At one point, I was totally into them, and this included planning a trip to stop in at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo (after a camping and photography stop at Watkins Glen gorge), the reputed home of the Buffalo Wing. In my memory, these were some fantastic wings. Big, hot and juicy. I've found recipes for their wings, and if I remember correctly it is amazingly simple. Equal parts melted butter, Frank's Hot Sauce and some celery salt. Anyhow, the fact that the buffalo wing continues to do well somewhat surprises me, but... deep fried, spicy chicken is a pretty classic taste.

It is especially interesting to me that the chicken wing is now considered a premium cut of meat, and costs reflect this. This article from NYTimes talks about how the wing is now more than chicken breast meat (I didn't not check commodity prices to see if this was still true).

And, while we were at Quaker Steak & Lube, I did have boneless wings, which is just nugget-ized breast meat. I tried the Arizona Ranch sauce, which measures in at 2050 "scoville units". The Lube's measurement for heat is on a scoville scale, and while Arizona Ranch was in the top third, it is under the one called "Hot", so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised they were not all that spicy.

The real problem is that they were dry, dry, dry. And, ultimately, this is a major problem to me with breast meat. Sure, people love it cause it is healthier, but... it is so dry and can so easily be overcooked (at home, I prefer to use skinless thighs, and guests usually enjoy it. The dark meat is more tender and juicy, but has more fat content than white meat. It also holds a marinade much better. But, it is cheap!). The cheese fries were tasty, but my plate must have sat under heat lamps, cause the cheese looked kind of plasticy, not warm and still-melting. Anyhow, it was just okay. Decent bar food, but nothing to drive back to Cinci for on its own.

The better half had a quesadilla salad which was warm, cheesy, and tasty, but incredibly predictable for a chain of this ilk.

The best part of the meal was sitting outside with the sun setting on a day in which the weather gave us a respite from the humidity.

The verdict: 2 belly rubs (out of 5). Predictable and almost boring.

By the way, the menu mentioned a location inside of Conseco Field House, which I have obviously not noticed before.

Ugly edibles?

These are some ugly animals.... but, I wonder if any of them are also tasty....!


If you enjoy reading Malcolm Gladwell's books or articles, his web site is a great resource. And, best of all, from his New Yorker Archive, you can get full access to all of his articles from 1996 to the one most recently printed this past May!

Anyhow, this is an old article, but The Ketchup Conundrum is pretty interesting reading, especially in comparing ketchup to the varieties of mustard (we have at least 7 mustards in our fridge). It is especially interesting to read that ketchup has all five tastes of the human palate, including the hard to describe umami.

I haven't been there for a while, but I think City Cafe downtown used to make their own ketchup....

Friday, August 6, 2010

La Piedad

Remember the bell curve from school? To me this was always the idea that there was a majority of population in a class falling in the range of a low B to maybe a high D in grades.... Then, remember, the notion of grading on a curve? While your raw score was a 64, you hoped for, like, a C when that raw score was graded on a curve....

What is all this talk of curves? Well, the bell curve is generally how I feel most of the local Mexican restaurants fall - a lot of B- to C+ places here in town (tho, I want to try more of the Central and South American places on the near West side). And, when it comes to Broad Ripple restaurants, I feel like because of the location, the energy, the alcohol, the group you are with, etc., that many get rated much higher than the food merits. Or, maybe more accurately, many restaurants there achieve much greater success than the food merits on its own.

Both of these ideas fit how I feel about La Piedad (the website I found does not have an active site). Can you get decent Mexican food there? Yes. Do you have a good time? Yes, especially, when it is nice and you sit on the patio. To me, this is a well-established place that serves consistently decent food, and at a good value (the fajitas are a really big portion for one person).

Typically, I wouldn't even feel like doing a review because it so completely falls into the middle of my food rating bell curve. But, I mention a new item that surprised me on a recent lunchtime visit (this heat currently almost makes one pick to be inside rather than on the patio!). I decided to try the huevos rancheros with chorizo. The eggs came with small bits of chorizo crumbled into the scramble, and it was pretty tasty. It gave me a salsa and tortilla fix, and didn't seem too heavy for a return to work.

The verdict (not on a curve): 2.5 belly rubs (out of 5). Decent, consistent food with good value.

The verdict ("Saturday afternoon, arriving with friends after pleasurable bike ride on Monon trail" curve): 4 belly rubs (out of 5)

If you include alcohol.... I suppose this place could peak up near the epic 5 belly rub level.....

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Since starting this blog, it has really been obvious to me how my old, yet untested idea of a cheap lunch is really hard to find. Maybe I need to contact Leonard Nimoy and see if he wants to partner on a cooking reality show - In Search of: The $5 lunch.

(by the way, I used to love the In Search Of series.... especially with the synthesizer-based theme song)

Well, from my experience, it is really hard to find. Our work team recently went to Rock Bottom Brewery two times at lunch for group events, and... my goodness, they really don't seem to even have a lunch menu there. I wanted to eat lean before a big bike ride, so to have some salmon, I ended up with a $18 lunch. Not good for the wallet. Luckily, I do bring my lunch to work 2-3x a week, and the PBJ on Brownberry bread is a bargain, friends.....

Anyhow, for some decent barbecue, you can find a nice, cheap lunchtime meal at the either Squealers location.

First off, I like Squealers barbecue. I think the pulled pork and the brisket are both consistent and of above average quality. The sauces (two: sweet or hot) are both good, though I'd be happy with a bit more heat in the hot. Best of all, Monday through Friday, you can find some great deals from their lunch specials. Most days, you can get a sandwich and chips from the specials menu for $4.99. Get water, and you've got a bargain. Sure, as a restaurant with table service, you should leave the server a tip, but it is overall a good value. I usually get the beans with a sandwich, which ends up taking you to about $6, but... I really enjoy the beans, which have some meat scraps thrown in.

I like Pita Pit fine, and I keep hammering on this point, but their combo (pita, chips, and a drink) is over $9, and if you want hummus you'll crest $10. The special at Squealers, even with soda and a tip can keep you at about the same level, and it is a local "chain" (two locations) if that matters to you.

The verdict: 4 belly rubs (out of 5). Good 'cue, better value.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Product Review: Swedish Sweets

When we were over at the Ikea in Cinci two weekends ago, I had to pick up some new chocolate bars (note, as a Canadian, the Better Half calls them "chocolate bars", but I grew up calling them "candy bars"... these are some of the very small differences I find interesting aboot speaking "American" v. "Canadian").

I've been lucky enough to travel quite a bit internationally, and this is one of my favorite things to do - sample and see what they do in various parts with local chocolate bars. Once my path intersected with the Better-Half-to-be, she mentioned how she felt the Canadian Kit Kat tasted better/different than the American one. And, later, I believe at a time that coincided with the Irish Fest in Indy (coming in September), I read about differences between US and UK chocolate bars... so, I picked up some UK chocolates at the Irish Fest, such as the Curly Wurly! Anyhow, this has dovetailed nicely with my interest in new food products, so I am often picking up new chocolate bars.

So, upon checking out of Ikea, I picked up the two new bars. The Daim bar is a lot like a Heath or Skor bar. But, instead of the toffee, it is more of a caramel flavor. Or, as the Wiki page puts it - a butter almond bar. I liked it, but... I prefer a Heath. The Mint Choko was basically mint flavored Rolo, and I really enjoyed it.

If you find any of this interesting, check out the Kit Kat wiki page - check out the huge list! It really is amazing how much variation they have with this bar across the world. Or, check out this article from Ad Age about the Kit Kat varieties in Japan. And, if you have any interest in chocolate bars from the UK, this review site looks like a very comprehensive and devoted site.

More on some Canadian products later this week. But, look at what I picked up for my shelf at work.... aren't these McFarlane products cool? This is an essential item for a Purdue fan!

Incredibly cool

Check out these cool covers for your iPhone.....

[hat tip: Serious Eats]

Monday, August 2, 2010

Taco Bell Cantina Tacos

Taco Bell has jumped on the wave of offering street tacos. Seems like a pretty early adopter rate for a big chain to get in on a food trend. So, on a quick grab from the office, I tried two of them today.

The new Cantina Tacos look right.

As you can see, Taco Bell's marketing staff has allowed the Cantina Tacos to be served in a simple square of aluminum foil. And, really, that's kind of an amazing thing, that they don't have the logo on the foil. The tacos are served on two corn tortillas, and each one comes with its own small wedge of lime. Looking right doesn't necessarily mean it tastes great, though. I am a fan of Taco Bell, and I applaud them in being one of the few places I can easily go and get a lunch for less than $5 (hey, I like the bean burrito). The Cantina Tacos are .... okay. The steak and carnitas were both okay, in line with the food at the Bell. I didn't put on any sauce, which would have helped. Something crunchy would also have been really nice. One taco is $1.75, and you can get 3 for less than $5. So, really, they're very much in line with the price you pay at West Coast Tacos, but.... not nearly as tasty.

I'd be really surprised if the Cantina Tacos are really popular. For one thing, I think that most folks aren't used to street tacos and would prefer flour over the corn tortillas. Anyhow, not a bad effort....

The verdict: 1.5 belly rubs (out of 5). Looks right.....

More Food Truck Madness

From American Public Media, last Friday's episode of Marketplace (6:30 p.m. weekdays on local NPR station 90.1) featured a story about food trucks in L.A., with a great photo gallery accompanying the story. They include a photo of a food truck from Indy - the Crazy Cactus Canteen. Does anyone know anything about this local food truck? The page lists a website, but there is no active page.