printer-friendly buying list

 

by William Emmanuel Bugg

 

What Just Happened

 

Cold Baconís Canned Food Reviews

 

ďThe sage embraces things. Ordinary men discriminate among them and parade their discriminations before others. So I say, those who discriminate fail to see.Ē

 

ó    The Chuang Tzu

 

Some introduction might go here. This will do.


Stoufferís, Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, Ethnic Gourmet, Amyís, Other!

 

Who Is Reading This Page

 


Canned Soups


 

Due to the current economic system here in America, the price of Campbellís and Progresso soup are roughly the same, even though they are manufactured by two different companies. Amazing. Soups listed in no particular order. No, really.


Progresso

 

Split Pea (4.0)   
Wonderful pea flavor. Nice little pea bodies floating around in a cloud green witchís brew. The strength of this pea soup lies in the off-dry (halbtrocken) texture. Reminiscent of the fabled Habitantís split pea and quite unlike the Campbellís plastic thick incarnation. Best with some coarsely chopped ham, spices, and yes, the sharpest cheddar cheese.
(2) Like Health Valley and Campbellís version, has a similarly too-thick broth. But at least here, the gloop seems to consist of earthy pea matter as opposed to random-undisclosed thickening agent. (3.5)


Chickarina (4.5)
Chicken soup with meatballs. Wait, are these meatballs? Chicken balls?! Thatís fantastic! The soup that everyone loves to say (and ďgoogleĒ). Itís the good, solid chicken broth that keeps people coming back. The chicken balls are great too. Theyíre not ďmouth dryingĒ like a lot of canned chicken is. It is recommended to dip some rustic bread in the broth. Grated Grana Padano is the recommended cheese. Grate first and ask questions later.

Beef Barley (3.5)
Nice barley flavored broth. Little pieces of beef. Barley? Carrots. I have nothing bad to say about it.

Beef and Vegetable (3.5)
Good beef broth flavor. Very soft vegetables. The beef tastes similar to that in Campbellís sirloin burger. Hard to imagine, I realize, but I actually think itís a little leaner than that in Campbellís. And when youíre doing it for nostalgia, lean isnít the point. So Iím actually going to have to go with Campbellís here.

Lentil Soup (3.5) (Progresso Fat Free)
Lentils are wonderful. Slightly smooth but pleasantly chalky texture. They also just taste healthy. Anyway, I think it might be really good to add some chalky-style chevre to lentil soup and really accentuate that texture. A mildly grassy flavored (not to lemony) chevre would be just right, I think.

 

French Onion Soup (3.0)
Itís okay, but it really doesnít have much flavor. I would think it tastes more like consume than French onion soup. Oh well.

Minestrone (3.0)
The sauce walks the line between tomato and non-specific broth. I would think a minestrone should be more like a beef or vegetable broth but more clear and little tomato. Itís hearty though and the vegetables all turn in solid performances. Jeff Goldblum as the white bean of the apocalypse was a stroke of brilliance.

Potato and Ham (with Cheese) (3.0)
With cheese is right. I think I found 3 pieces of ham in the entire soup, and for all I know, it may have been chicken dressed up like ham. Alright. Not bad. Not sure. May try again. Even thicker than your typical clam chowder.

Vegetarian Vegetable with Barley (3.01)
Tomato, but not too much tomato. Pretty good.

Bean and Macaroni (2.5)
Bean and pasta just doesnít go together, as far as Iím concerned. Thatís why, like, youíve never been in an Italian restaurant that served you a bean and pasta dish. Duh. Not badly executed, just a bad concept. And these are my boys too, which is a bit disconcerting.

Zesty Herb Tomato (2.5)
Smooth. Itís zesty, boy is it ever zesty. I give them credit for the liberal use of herbs and for having a strong taste. Unfortunately, the finish is at least partially nauseating. I canít put my finger on what it is, but I really canít have this again. But you should try it.

Corn Chowder (2.0)
Itís gloopy!


Campbellís

 

Sirloin Burger (4.0)
Same distinctive little sirloin rounds you remember from when you were a kid. They sort of defy logic in that theyíre too solid to be ground sirloin and yet theyíre to crumbly and chewable to actually be steak pieces. I think what they are is ground sirloin that has been compressed into little rounds and then grilled to perfection, because burgers are always grilled to perfection. Beans, potato and carrots and peas too. The broth is thick, very thick. Itís an artery clogger, but hey. Itís a classic. Smells a little like dog food to if you put your face right into the bowl. Hey now.

Potato and Cheese and Chicken and Broccoli   
The chicken is stringy, verging on sticky, rather than the usual dry, chunk of breast. Also, the chicken and potato pieces are just the right size, and the flavor exceeds expectations. Great choice.

Italian Wedding (4.0)
Italian wedding. Or some odd name like that. Itís actually pretty good. Spinach and nice mini-meatballs. Has a peculiar and distinctive Italian herb flavor. I canít deny it.

Steak, Baked Potato and Cheese (4.0)
Congested with oversized blocks of potato, this soup fails to capture to essence of a baked potato. The flavor is okay, but the broth is too thick and filling.

Honey Roast Chicken With Golden Potatoes (3.5)
The broth is excellent. Iím totally down with the honey roasted, but I donít what theyíre talking about Ďgolden potatoesí. Theyíre the same potatoes you get in all of their creations. The chicken is as honey roasted as anything would be after 5 seconds in that broth. But sadly, itís not much different than the usual overly dry textured soup meat. My big idea would be if they could just sell me the broth without the meat. You know, let me worry about the meat. If you know what I mean. I could cook some fresh or even frozen chicken and it would be better. Then weíd be talking.

Chicken, Broccoli, Cheese and Potato (3.5)
Chicken, Broccoli, Cheese, Potato and the oligarchs only without the oligarchs. Actually, the base is a bit too thick. Itís one of those heat it up and itís liquidólet it cool and it wants to solidify. And donít even try reasoning with it. This really isnít a bad number, itís just that you canít stop once you start. If you hesitate, you may suddenly feel sick. Itís like in Wages of Fear when theyíre driving that liquid nitro over that treacherous road. If you keep going full speed, you might fly right over the potholes. Or you could go really really slow and go around the potholes. But go medium speed or change speeds. And itís kaboo-kabam, see yía in hellís soup kitchen.

Southwestern Style Corn Chowder (3.5)
Looks great coming out of the can. Thatís about all I want to say about it at this time.

Chicken Rice (3.5) (Campbellís Select)
Standard chicken broth. No complaints. The one thing Iíll say for it is that the carrot and particularly the potato pieces are attractively cut in wedges, which marks a departure from the random vegetable fractionation of bygone days. Itís kind of a post-modern vegetable soup. Of course, the chicken is still bone dry.

Vegetable Beef (3.0) (Campbellís, Home Cooking)
Good enough with a nice, thin broth. Soft carrots, celery. Harder potato pieces. Good to add toasted bread (perhaps rustic flavored).

Tomato Ravioli with Vegetable (3.0)
Good soup overall. The tomato broth is slightly shady but not right nasty. Comb in the pocket or condom in the wallet, but not both.

Sirloin and Hearty Vegetable (2.5)
Dryish pasta, but good flavor. A little too thick and rich on the sauce. If I wanted that much fat in it, Iíd make it myself.

Chicken with Dumpling (2.5) (Campbellís, Home Cooking)
Broth is very thick and creamy/cheesy? Itís very thick. Itís okay, but it just seems silly. The dumplings remind of little gnocchiís. It would be better to buy some gnocchi. Itís okay.

Chicken with Egg Noodles (2.5) (Campbellís, Home Cooking)
Good broth. Egg noodles are kind of chewy, but I think thatís how they want it. The chicken is fairly dry and thready, so swallow carefully to avoid a dry gizzard moment.

Ravioli
Funny, off-putting ďtomato thatís seen too much metalĒ taste. There is just no need to buy ravioli in a can when you can get it refrigerated or at least frozen just twenty feet away. I donít care how poor you are.

Wolfgang Puckís

 

I first bought one of these soups because it had Wolfgang Puckís name and picture on it. And let me tell you it was a wise choice. These are surely the best tasting line of canned soups ever. Ever.

 

Wolfgang Puck Soups Organic Creamy Broccoli (4.5)
Delicious. Different. ~260 (2) not too creamy (like it TOTALLY would be if it were Campbellís) cream of broccoli ~261

Wolfgang Puck French Onion (3.5)

Not mind-blowing, but pretty good.

 

Wolfgang Puck Spicy Bean (4.5)

Awesome. Beans are smooth. Flavor is very good. Wow. Just wow. Is all I have to say.

 

Wolfgang Puck Tortilla Soup (4.0)

Solid.

 

Wolfgang Puck Old Fashioned Potato Soup (4.0)

Wonderful. But ridiculously rich. It is recommended to cut with a small amount of water and divide into two servings. ~400 (yeah)


Wolfgang Puck Soups Organic Split Pea (4.0)
Very good. Very good. A balance between actual split-pea graininess and Puckish smoothality. ~340 (seems a lot)
(2) Par. Compared to other less celebrity-inspired brands.


Other Canned Soups

 

Amyís (low fat) Split Pea (3.5)

Itís nice. Itís totally different in flavor than all other brands. ~200

 

Health Valley (Fat-Free) Vegetable Barley (3.5)
Vegetable? Barley? Hell, why not? Why not? Itís good. Nice full-barley barley flavor. For a real treat, sprinkle on some hard Italian grater (or Alpine cheese). Ooh, and have with a Belgian ale too, like Corsendonk. To really get a picture. Ooh, and maybe have it with a square of that Kavli whole-grain crispbread, for that really rustic flavor.

Chicken, Rotini and Vegetable (3.5)
Standard. But not bad. Chicken dry. I forgot what brand this was.

Shari Annís Potato and Cheddar (3.0)
More potato than cheddar. In fact, not really much cheddar at all. Good natural taste, but rather watery too.

Healthy Choice Fiesta Chicken (3.0)
Not really much of a fiesta here. Not so much, no. More similar to just regular chicken and rice soup. It does have some corn bits and a few chicken pieces. Still, no fiesta really. Ooooh, a pinto bean!

Healthy Choice Creamy Tomato (3.0)
Itís creamy. Itís tomato. Itís fine. At least itís not zesty. ~240

Healthy choice Country Glazed Chicken (3.0) (chicken tenderloins in an herbed sauce with mushrooms and rice)

Rice a little tough, although I like the way they work in the 1:10 brown:white ratio. Itís a nice attempt at diversity. Big mushroom slivers. A glaze is a glaze by any other name, especially with Healthy Choice. Big chicken pieces (tenders I guess). This entrťe has standard written all over it. But hey, a country has to have Ďem.

 

Muir Glenn ďSavoryĒ Lentil Soup (3.0)

Emphasis on soup. This is a soup with lentils in it and not a thick batch of lentils with some liquid (like you expected). Itís fine and healthy tasting, but the lentils arenít cooked enough so they havenít released their starch and made that wonderful chalky texture you want. ~260

 

Muir Glenn Split Pea (3.0)

Separationóis the thingóin this take on the classic. The broth is a decent liquid. The peas are quite toughónot that theyíre not cooked through enoughójust sayingótheyíre intactóand you will notice it. What Iím trying to say is that this version of split pea makes you wonder if the original versions should be called cream of pea soup? Angry peas.


Health Valley Split Pea (3.0)
Flavor okay but broth ridiculously thick. Gloop.

Walnut Acres Split Pea (2.5)
Pretty much extremely ordinary.

Healthy choice Zesty Gumbo (2.5) (with chicken and sausage)

Please. This is mediocre stuff. Limited flavor. The broth is the standard Campbellís medium-light tomato/beef based broth. The chicken and sausage is dry as hell. Basically, you could put a shake of cumin on this and it would be an inferior tortilla soup. Whatever.


Amyís Organic Cream of Mushroom (2.5)
This would be good if it didnít have little bits of, go figure, mushrooms in it. I mean really, theyíre too many of them, and theyíre too little. Theyíre squiggly. They should be pureed. Maybe they want to prove the mushrooms are in there because theyíre afraid people wonít trust them. I would have trusted them.

Shari Annís Garlic French Onion Soup (2.5)
Okay. Doesnít quite live up to name. Very subtle burnt taste. Maybe itís the garlic. Maybe itís the onion. Itís harder to burn onion, but anythingís possible.

Health Valley Potato and Leek soup (2.5)
And thatís exactly what happened to the flavor in this one. It leaked out. Seriously, youíll have to add your own teaspoon of heavy cream and 1 g of salt before youíll even know your eating something. Is this what they would eat in those Russian work camps they always told you about as a kid?

Baxter Healthy Reward French Onion Soup (2.0)
Really quite bad. My reward included three pieces of non-chewable fiber pretending to be onion.

Health Valley Curried butternut squash (1.5)
The curry tastes chalky like seven year old turmeric powder. I mean, my god, I have some thirty year old turmeric powder in my cabinet, which I took from my motherís house. Now that really is chalk. But itís not like Iíd try to fucking sell it? Blech!

 

 

Dried Soups (to be resurrected)

 

Lipton Cup-a-Soup Tomato with Croutons (5.0)

Seriously. This is awesome. This is just awesome. A tiny little packet, and all you have to do is add water? And itís this good? Why on earth would anyone bother with a canned tomato soup when thereís this? And you can adjust the amount of water to suit your needs. Thick, thin, other? Awesome. No really. This is awesome. The croutons are cute. But just put in some rustic bread (of your own). ~90

 

Lipton Cup-a-Soup Creamy Chicken Soup (3.5)

Good. I like this better than the regular chicken noodle. I think this one just has more flavor. The slight creaminess is welcome.

 

Chicken Cup-a-Soup Noodle Soup (3.0)

Classic. Ordinary. The tiny bits of chicken and noodle are almost annoying because they tease you and make you wish there were real chicken and noodles rather just tiny little bits. Iím serious. There is definitely a real psychological phenomenon here.

 

The Spice Hunter (blending spicy spices with healthy ingredients)

 

Chicken Noodle (3.0)

Noodles take too long to soften and by then your soup is cold. This is a silly product. On the other hand. It does have a nice spicy kick as far as chicken soups go.

 

            Creamy Thai Noodle (1.5)

            Lame. Very very lame. Terrible. Ridiculous. Go away. I hate you. For wasting my meal. My time. My life. Die.

           

 


Canned Beans


 

Bush Beans

Bush Baked Beans are one of the best kept secrets among EZ gourmets everywhere. They taste great out of the can, but can also be dressed up with a variety of cheeses and other EZ additions to make a delicious meal. And beans contain a lot of protein and little fat. Moreover, Bush Beans in particular come in very high quality cans that are always a cinch to open, unlike some other cans that drive you crazy with the can-opener. If their beans could talk, like Allensí beans, they would say, let me go.

The Little Bird Says: Hasnít this idiot seen Campbellís new peel-off tops?

Bold and Spicy (4.5)
More red bean flavor (kidney beans that is, red gold...) Monterrey jack and sour cream are the perfect match. To the Northeast quadrant. Get a frigginí clue. Please stock this on your shelves. (They donít.)

Original (brown sugar) (4.0)
I didnít know ďoriginalĒ was a type of flavor, but these ARE melt in your mouth beans. Try with cheddar, or even goat cheese is not bad (if a little odd). Brown sugar beans can also be enhanced by pineapple (fresh would be nice, but canned pineapple is better than no pineapple).

Homestyle (4.0)
Still with that brown sugar - ďhow come you taste so good!Ē

Maple Cured Bacon (4.0)
Not a lot different from the original flavor, but even the thought of Maple Syrup is enough to generate interest.

Baked Beans with Onions (3.5)
Bring back your memories of French onion soup and a warm baguette in the wonderful French Alps. Cheese matches include Taleggio but not so much cheddar.

Vegetable (3.0)
Very smooth. Delicate. As a baked bean can be. These are fine. Theyíre just like any other Bush Beans. Big, soft, giving. Nothing to complain about. But nothing to be afraid of, or excited by either, really. Letís go to Peru.

Baked Beans with Honey (3.0)
What does honey mean youíre supposed to put honey on it? Cause Iím not tasting a whole of honey here. Ha ha. No I guess thereís some honey flavor. Wow. Anyway. Underwhelming. Iím so full of shit, though. Letís be honest. If these did have more honey flavor, Iíd probably be complaining that there was too much honey flavor. Whatís with all this excessive honey flavor? Not subtle enough. Ha. I suck.

Boston Recipe (2.5)
Almost good.

Chili Beans (2.0)
Surprisingly bland offering from my beloved Bush company. Wouldnít give them the time of day and certainly would not buy them again.

Barbecue (1.5)
Definitely not. Barbe-not-cul.

Others

B & M Baked Beans Ė Barbecue (4.0)
Fantastic. And says on can ďvegetarian friendly.Ē Not exactly sure what that means, but the beans is great.

B & M Baked Beans Ė Bacon and Onion (3.5)
Nice faintly burnt BBQ flavor. Not quite sure how it justifies the (brace yourself) ~665/16oz can.

Van Campís Barbecue Flavor (Hickory) (3.5)
On the can, Van Campís states their beans beat Bushís by 2 to 1 in a taste-off. Weíll see about that. To our surprise, these barbecue beans are definitely better than Bushís version. Why? Because they have more smoke and less vinegar. The only reason they donít get 4.0 is because they actually use raisins pretending to be beans rather than real beans. These ďbeansĒ are too tough and scraggily, and donít ďmelt in your mouth.Ē

Allenís Baked Beans (3.0)
Not bad. Flavor is more charred, country, rustic and so on and so forth.

Texas Ranch Style Ė Barbecue (2.5)
Nein better than Bush Barbecue flavored beans, and the beans arenít even as big and smooth as Bushís. Gets the grand olí eh.

Van Campís Sauteed Onion with Molasses (2.5)
Very browned, BBQ-type flavor. Very browned, indeed. If you like this type of flavor, it is certainly distinct and worth trying. The beans are, again, tougher than the ones that Bush uses.

 

Email From: brightone

 

Van Campís Pork and beans
The label says America s Favorite they must mean their favorite drink I poured off half the can before I reached any beans. The poorest brand I have ever bought.

 

Campbellís Baked Beans (2.0)
Compared to Bush beans, these beans are so bland I almost feel sorry for them, sorry for Campbellís, sorry for anyone who eats them, sorry for me. It must be like reading some of my site and then going off and reading something else.

 


Canned Chili


 

Once you start talking about chili, youíre obviously not concerned with calories or nutritional content. The only thing that matters here is which ones taste better.

Bushís Country Style (4.5)
Awesome.

Wolf Brand Chili with Beans (4.0)

Greasy and nasty. I donít even think itís real meat. I love it.

Amyís Spicy (4.0)
Okay, Iím really starting to wonder what Amy looks like. But alas, I donít think I shall ever know.
(2) Now this is great stuff. Spicy and in-a-can. Great stuff.

Amyís Organic Vegetarian Vegetable (3.5)
Itís organic. I start shelling out money whenever anything says organic.  (I hate people who make this type of lame joke.)

Health Valley Mild Vegetarian Chili (3.0)
Okay. Pretty ordinary. Has a hint of that vegetarian bacon sort of flavor. Not over-the-top, but I canít deny it. ~320/can

Health Valley spicy vegetarian (3.0)

Pretty much the same as the mild. In fact, I kind of think it is the mild vegetarian chili. Or maybe my Nexium is working too well lately (read of late). ~320

 

Healthy Valley (3.0)
Chili with lentil? Itís okay.

Chili Man (2.5)
Is this a name or a directive? Anyway, itís alright. Didnít really like the flavor that much. Ahem, and that matters.

 

 


Canned Seafood (Hellís Third Creation)


 

Campbellís New England Clam Chowder (1.0)
Disgusting. Awful. I will never eat this again. So bad. So very bad.

Progresso New England Clam Chowder (NR)
How could I possibly try this after what I experienced with Campbellís NECC. I win by defaulting.

 

 

 


Jarred Pasta Sauce


 

First of all, however much pasta sauce youíre using, is too much. Take about half of that. The idea is to coat the pasta, not drown it. Not only will it create a more balanced dish, but youíll actually be able to enjoy the flavor of the pasta as well. Never mind the long-term savings on TUMS.

 

Classico

 

Okay. I used  to think Classico ruled the earth. Then I didnít eat jarred pasta sauce for a few years. Then I discovered Nexium and started back into it. Anyway, I just had a Classico Tomato and Basil (otherwise known as ďregularĒ) and I was not impressed. Not impressed at all. There just isnít much flavor in there now is there? Someone else told me this hadówaitóI here someone knockingÖ

 

ďthatís a nice long catalog - btw I canít believe you ate all those diet meals, eek. I like the Ethnic Cuisines too, Palak Paneer was my personal favorite. Ate a lot of that while we were moving w all our stuff packed up. I have to disagree w your ratings on Classico, I find it very bland. I used to like it years ago but I feel like they changed their recipes? Who knows. For jarred sauces I think I like Bertolli the best.Ē Ė E

 

Classico Italian sausage with peppers and onions (4.0)
Sausage takes it to another level. Good stuff. Really good stuff.

Classico Portobello mushroom (3.5)
Not all that much porcini flavor, but not bad, and you do see an occasional chunk of mushroom, which is reassuring. Actually, itís my favorite Classico flavor at the moment. (Because you wanted to know that.)

 

Classico Tomato and Basil (3.0)
Standard. Good for adding other reagents such as cheeses, sausage, a ford F-150.

 

Amyís Premium

 

Amyís Premium (organic garlic mushroom) (4.0)
Very nice, deep mushroom, garlic flavorĖnice, thick texture

Amyís Premium (organic garlic mushroom) (4.0)
Very nice, deep mushroom, garlic flavorĖnice, thick texture

 

Amyís Premium Puttanesca (3.5)

Itís fine. Nothing to complain about so far.

 

Seeds of Change


Seeds of Change Roasted Garlic and Onion (4.0)
Delicious. These Seeds of Change people are not afraid to useĖ

Seeds of Change Tomato and Basil (3.5)
Pretty good. Says new product on the top. What if every new product said that on the top of it? WaitĖ

Seeds of Change Santa Fe (3.5)
Really unusual. Not that it doesnít taste like Santa Fe with its little niblets of corn and Southwest seasonings. It does. But whatís strange is that it actually is good. Itís like some tortilla soup turned tomato sauce. Hot damn. Call me a blue tortilla chip, but Iím tickled.

 

365 (Whole Foods Market)

 

>Yes, Classico... bait & switch, I'm telling you.

 >

>Due to a tight budget I've been buying a lot of Whole Foods 365 brand foods lately...

> some of them are pretty good. The tortilla chips for example... nice flavor & thickness... 

>I'll have to start putting down some notes for you on this stuff.

                >

                >E

               

                            Notes for me on this stuff:

 

ďWhole Foods' store brand pasta sauces come in two varieties: organic for about $2.50 and non-organic for $2.00 (25oz jar in either case). I've yet to try the organic because I'm broke and I need that .50 for gruel. I can only imagine how amazing the organic sauce is, because the regular 365 is damn good. There are distinct flavors to these sauces, flavors besides winter tomato. Compare this with Bertolli, which retails for something like $3.49 for a 6oz phial. When you buy Bertolli, you're partly paying for the feeling of buying something authentic and high quality. The problem is, the production costs for this feeling are so high that there is not much operating budget left for actual authentic or high quality ingredients. With the 365 brand, feelings of superiority are built into the overhead (ie you are shopping at Whole Foods in the first place) so more is invested into making the sauce actually taste good. The Roasted Garlic tastes like roasted garlic. The Roasted Vegetables has a noticeable tang of vegetable matter. The Roasted Red Pepper tastes okay. And the Marinara really tastes like freshly killed marinara. I'll have to get back to you on the organic line, after I buy some more scratch tickets. I'm feeling good about Digg'in for Gold this week. Ė EĒ

 

365 Brand Tomato and Basil (3.5)
Itís fine. This is Whole Foodsí proprietary blende.

 

365 Brand Marinara (2.5)
Too many questionable mushroom bodies.

 

The Others

 

Cucina Antica Arrabiata (4.0)
Yes. It is double the price of every other pasta sauce on the shelf. I was skeptical. Says made from important San Marzano Italian plum tomatoes. I was skeptical. And even when I tried it, I didnít immediately understand what was so special about this tomato sauce. I mean, this just tastes like any old pasta dish I would have had when I was in Italy. Oh, wait a minute. Yes. Thatís good.
(2) Had again and this time it seems way overspicy. This is a totally different sauce. Itís too spicy and not the same flavor as the other time I had it. Huh? Italian food should be this spicy? 7/05


Federzoni (Traditional Balsamic) (3.5)
Very spicy. Tangy. Smooth texture. But I would rather just buy some fresher tasting tomato sauce and add my own balsamic to it.

Five Brothers (3.5)
Tomato and roasted garlic Ė good Ė not as liquidy Ė chunks of tomato Ė very roasted flavor without being oppressively roasted as Ė whatís that cheap, bad one ? no binding Ė water and solids tend to separate Ė actually quite dramatic!

Colavita Puttanesca (3.5)
Very good actually. It really does have little olive pieces...and even capers. Somewhat spicy too. I know I was pleasantly surprised.

Newmanís Own Marinara (3.0)

Look, marinara is never good. At least Iíve never had a good marinara in a jarred pasta sauce. Youíd do better just adding your own wine to some ďnormalĒ pasta sauce. And if you donít always have a bottle of wine you can just pour into it and simmer a bit, then why do I care (about you)?

Prego (made with mushrooms) (2.5)
Itís alright but not that great. There was no evidence of mushrooms.

Ragu (NR)
Iím reluctant to try Ragu pasta sauce at this time.

Sutter Home Roasted Garlic (2.5)
Okay. I donít really need bad merlot in my pasta sauce.

 

Dried Pasta

 

Basic rule of thumb: if it comes in a brown bag, itís good. Plastic bag, maybe. Cardboard box, youíre still in school.

 

 


Frozen Foods (Donít Stay Frozen)


 

Stoufferís Not-Lean Cuisine

Okay, letís face it. If it doesnít say Lean Cuisine, thatís because it most definitely is not. This is fat cuisine. These items are all delicious, and I assure you itís not because Stoufferís discovered the secret to great tasting but nutritious food. Take the Ďcheese filled raviolií, it has 470 calories, 200 from fat. Oh my god. Thatís almost half the entire entrťeófat. 22 grams of fat. Thatís a lot of fat. Iím not saying these things arenít great. Because they are. Iím just saying thatís a lot of calories from fatóis all Iím sayiní. But we still have to figure out which ones are better than others.

French Bread Pizza (5.0)
Please.

Manicotti (new recipe) (4.5)
There are two manicotti rolls in this and both of them are wonderful. Press a spoon into it, see the white manicotti rush out. This one, my brothers, is the real thing. They changed the recipe during a recent generalized sweeping motion that occurred a few months ago at Stoufferís. None of the changes were welcome, but not all of them were bad. Separate but equal, my brothers. Separate but equal.

Stoufferís Monterrey Chicken (4.0)

Sweet potatoes; holy shit! This is wild. Wild stuff. Great stuff. This is probably my favorite Stoufferís meal right now. No kidding.

 

Cheese Filled Ravioli And Rigatoni (4.0)
Solidóor, okay, gooey. But very good. This one really actuates the signal if you know what I mean.

Chicken Pot Pie (4.0) (a golden crust surrounding pieces of all white meat chicken, peas, carrots, celery & onions, in a gravy made with real cream)
This is really good, but you should bake it. Microwave wonít get the same flaky crust, which is the whole point, and why this really deserves a 4.0, possibly 4.5. ~730 (400 from fat; oh my lord, strike everything I just said before (about actually buying this; wow).

Roasted Chicken Ravioli (Italian Style) (3.5)
Ravioli are fine, sauce is fine. The only problem is the chicken itself is, I fear, slightly too dry? Or something. There is something not entirely optimal about the chicken inside. The rest is basically the same as the Ravioli with cheeseĖwhich is the one you should buy instead.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Rigatoni (3.5)
Itís pretty much sausage stuffed rigatoni.

Stoufferís Tuna Noodle Casserole (3.0) (tuna, egg, noodles, mushrooms and celery in a creamy sauce)

Same as Tuna. It seems over the years theyíve decreased the number of those awkward mushrooms they used to include. Thatís good. ~360

 

Stoufferís Chicken Noodle Casserole (3.0) (tender white meat chicken, egg, noodles, mushrooms and celery in a creamy sauce)

Same as tuna, except chicken. I donít know. Whatever. I think we can do better for 370 calories.

 

Five Cheese Lasagna (2.5)
Really not very good. The cheese is uninspired. The pasta is as slippery as it is boring. Not even in same league as Italian Sausage Lasagna (not reviewed here).

 

Stoufferís Vegetable Lasagna (2.5) (lasagna layered with a colorful medley of carrots, spinach, broccoli & onions with a parmesan & Romano cheese sauce)

Not enough Romano flavor in bťchamel. A bland bťchamel. Vegetables okay. Still not worth ~390. Maybe they should be less worreid about colorful and more worreid about flavor.

 

And now all these NEW versions of old Stoufferís classics are creating huge questionsóIs the new manicotti better than the original? I remember initially thinking it wasnít. I remember swearing up and down. ďHow could theyó?Ē ďWell Iíll neveróĒ I even started a letter. ďJanuary 3,Ē I wrote. But that was a long time ago now. And if you ask me now, ďIs the new manicotti better than the original?Ē Probably it is, and probably it isnít. To be honest, I really donít know.

 


Stoufferís Lean Cuisine



Santa Fe Style Rice and Beans (4.5)
Awesome.

Chicken Enchilada Suiza (4.5) (with a sour cream sauce and Mexican-style rice)
Still not exactly sure what Suiza means, but this is really good. Peppy little orange-tinted rice in one compartment and a nice little corn-rolled delight in another.

Three Cheese Stuffed Rigatoni (4.5) (with vegetables in a fire-roasted tomato sauce)
Amazingly good cheese/tomato stuffing/flavor. I donít normally buy into this corny line but, ďHow can this possibly be only 240?Ē

Lean Cuisine Grilled Chicken & Penne Pasta (4.5) (chicken tenderloins, penne pasta and vegetables in a garlic herb sauce, with caramel apple dessert) ~330

Awesome.


Three Bean Chili (4.0) (with rice, peppers, fire roasted tomatoes and corn)
Awesome. Sounds like something Frylock would make for Meatwad on the ATHF.

Macaroni and Cheese (4.0) (tender macaroni in a delicious gooey cheese-like sauce)
I really think this is great. It really is a classic, and you would think being the Lean version, it might lack flavor. No. Itís still great. I recommend having it with an IPA (India Pale Ale). LC sets the standard in diet Macaroni & Cheese.

Chicken in Peanut Sauce (4.0) (chicken tenderloins and vegetables over whole wheat pasta)

Yeah, this really is good. Itís a bit on the dark, rich side. But itís got good chicken pieces, good wheat noodles, some crunchy green peas (snap peas) and the sauce has some flavor. Itís fine.

 

Lemon Chicken (4.0) (lightly breaded chicken breast with rib meat in lemon glaze with brown rice risotto)

Great rice side (risotto? Well, it is good anyway). Chicken good too, Will try again.

 

Chicken Fried Rice (3.5) (rice and white meat chicken mixed with crispy vegetables and eggs in an awesome sauce)

Itís good.

 

Penne Pasta (3.5) (with tomato and basil sauce)
The 0.5 is because itís lean.

Cheese Lasagna Florentine Bake (3.5)
Not bad. Good.

Cheese Ravioli (3.5) (with chunky tomato sauce
Itís pretty good. Very light. But good.

Cheese Lasagna (3.5) (with lightly breaded chicken breast scaloppini)
Do two half-entrees make one? The early bird catches the worm.

Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese Sauce (3.5)
Itís good. Itís a lot of cheese sauce. But itís good. Good broccoli. Good potatoes. Good.

Fettuccini Alfredo (3.0)
Noodles are fine, but the alfredo sauce has a slightly strange taste (to it).

LC Lasagna with Meat Sauce (3.0) (with ricotta, mozzarella, romano and parmesan cheeses)

Itís fine. Gooey. ~320


Panini Series (2.5) (e.g. steak, cheddar and mushroom)
This is this new line of LC panini things which you can to fold the box all around into this funny pretend little griddle (remember those play ovens as a child). Anyway, it comes out with difficult-to-cut plastic-y bread pieces. The topping portions areóit doesnít matter because you shouldnít be buying these. I even tried completely ignoring their explicit instructions to NOT use a conventional oven. I used a conventional oven. The result was a more crunchy bread, but still barely a (3.0). So I still recommend not buying these.

 


Chicken



Chicken Enchilada Suiza (4.0) (with a sour cream sauce and Mexican-style rice)
All these years, and I am still trying to figure out what a suiza is. No matter. This is a perfectly good dish. A dainty enchilada. A little tamer than a greasy taqueria, but perhaps this is what you want.

Chicken Pecan (3.5) (roasted chicken tenderloins in a caramelized orange sauce, snap peas, brown rice and pecans)
(1) Itís okay, but itís definitely not as exciting as it sounds.
(2) Had this again, and I have to admit the brown rice and snap peas really are growing on me. I suppose this one really is pushing (4.0). Itís probably only a matter of time at this point.

Rosemary Chicken (3.5) (roasted chicken tenderloins in a garlic-rosemary sauce, spinach and brown rice)
This is pretty good if you like rosemary chicken and a garlic-rosemary sauce, spinach and brown rice. As you can tell by the accurate box-picture, the brown rice is not pure brown rice side, which would be nearly inedible, as pure brown rice is (believe me). No, itís a nice mixture of brown rice, spinach, and little squigglets of carrot, onions and a lot of too-numerous to mentions. The point is itís actually a very peculiar and complicated dish (for lean-cuisine, weight watching-type fare). Indeed. Makes me want a gin.

Baked Chicken Florentine (3.5) (white meat chicken in a creamy spinach and parmesan sauce with carrots and yellow peppers)
Good spinach and parmesan sauce.

Chicken with Almonds (3.5) (chicken tenderloins with rice, green beans, carrots and broccoli)
Pretty good.

Chicken Carbonara (3.5) (roasted chicken tenderloins with bacon and mushrooms over linguini)
I thought this was pretty good actually. Mushrooms were more subtle than I would have predicted.

Lemongrass Chicken (3.5) (roasted chicken tenderloins in lemongrass-coconut sauce, brown rice and vegetables)
Indeed.

Grilled Chicken & Penne Pasta (3.5) (chicken tenderloins with pasta and vegetables in a garlic herb sauce)
Itís good. The little broccoli are cute.

Grilled Chicken Caesar (3.5) (grilled white meat chicken with broccoli and garlic floured radiatore pasta in a parmesan-caesar sauce)
Radiatore?

Chicken LíOrange (3.0)
Chicken LíOrange is an inferior concept versus duck. That aside. The chicken in this dish is fine. But itís the rice portion we need to talk about. Simply stated, itís quality. Basic polished, white rice dotted (1:10) with wild rice. I think this is a very smart ratio of wild to white rice. Because wild rice is no joke. You have to really go all out, with butter and determination. Or else it could be trouble. Wild rice, like yams. Can overpower. So again, I applaud this mixture concept, in this particular case, even though it does conflict with my normal pure-pure agenda. Needs salt.

Chicken Florentine (3.0) (chicken tenderloins and garden vegetables in a mild cheese sauce with pasta)
Itís fine. When I open my restaurant someday in the South End, remind me not to write Ďmild cheese sauceí anywhere on the menu. Thanks.

Sweet and Sour Chicken (3.0) (chicken tenderloins in a tangy sweet and sour sauce with long grain white rice)
Itís good but it needs to be a touch more sour (itís a shade too sweet as it is)

Thai Chicken (3.0)
Tomato sauce doesnít go nearly far enough toward Thai coconut-curry and away from basic Italian tomato sauce. I mean, it goes some of the way. But please. Theyíre hardly fooling anyone. Still. Let me find a better alternative for < 240 calories before I go too hard on it.

Thai Style Chicken (3.0) (grilled chicken tenderloins in a mild roasted red pepper sauce with a rice medley)
Not bad.

Grilled Chicken Teriyaki (3.0) (marinated white meat chicken in a tangy teriyaki sauce with white rice and vegetables)
Not bad.

Chicken Florentine (3.0) (chicken Tenderloins and Garden Vegetables in a Mild Cheese Sauce with Pasta)
Itís fine. When I open my restaurant someday in the South End, remind me not to write Ďmild cheese sauceí anywhere on the menu. Thanks.

Chicken a LíOrange (3.0)
Of course the chicken pieces are dinky and thin. But as far as frozen a líOrange goes, itís ok.

Chicken Chow Mein (3.0) (white meat chicken with stir-fry vegetables and white rice)
White white white white white. Itís okay.

Chicken Mediterranean (3.0) (grilled chicken tenderloins and vegetables over angel hair pasta)
The taste, sauce, chicken, vegetables are fine. Iím not a huge fan of angel hair, and in particular this angel hair was cut too thin, as if someone fresh from Croatia was reading the Stoufferís instructions, and took the term angel hair literally.

Three Cheese Chicken (3.0) (grilled white meat chicken strips in a three cheese sauce with broccoli and red peppers)
Pretty much. Cheese on broccoli effect similar to the old Welsh Rarebit recipe.

Glazed Chicken (3.0) (roasted chicken tenderloins with mushrooms, rice pilaf and green beans)
Itís fine. Youíll have to add some salt.

Roasted Chicken With Lemon Pepper Fettuccini (3.0) (white white meat chicken, vegetables and aged parmesan and romano cheese)
Conceptually, the dish is good. But here, the execution does not live up to the theory. First, how can there be aged parmesan when thereís no such thing as parmesan? Rather along the same lines...the main problem with this dish is that when they say lemon (ďLemon PepperĒ), what they really mean is fake, artificial lemony flavor like you get from that little yellow squeeze bottle or and over-the-hill lemon: fake. Not good.

Teriyaki Chicken (2.5) (roasted white meat chicken in a teriyaki glaze with vegetables and pasta)
The problem with this dish is a lack of harmony. The all-purpose noodles would be (and are) better suited to their peanut sauce as well as an alfredo or marinara sauce. They are presented separately in the dish from the teriyaki vegetable sauce. And pushing them together does not seem to fix the disharmony. The chicken pieces are white, dry squares when a more flavorful darker meat would be preferred.

Chicken Parmesan (2.5) (roasted chicken breast with spaghetti and tomato basil sauce)
I seriously do not detect any parmesan flavor in this dish.

Honey Roasted Chicken (2.5) (roasted chicken breast with white and wild rice pilaf with vegetables)
Honey roasted pork, not chicken.


Pork



Pork with Cherry Sauce (3.5) (roasted pork in a dried cherry and red wine reduction sauce, brown rice, magical yellow carrots and green clovers)
Not bad.

Honey Roasted Pork (3.5) (creamy bastard sauce and roasted pork with green beans and carrots)
That it is, pig. That it is. Okay, actually, that it is not. The mustard sauce is too liquidy. But there are lots of beansóIíll give Ďem thatóbeans that go scrunch. And finallyÖthe pork slices okay, but I think in recent years theyíve started to look more like swordfish slices. but donít you worry. for $3, they ainít swordfish.


Beef



Macaroni and Beef (4.0) (in tomato sauce)
Good.

Beef Portobello (4.0) (roasted beef with mushrooms and red skin whipped potatoes)
Why not? No, this really is good. Hereís hoping mad cow doesnít take off here.

Asian-style Beef with Ginger and Soy (4.0) (with vegetables and long grain rice)
Beef recta-cubes are +/-. But the bits of ginger and red pepper really are something special.

Hunan Beef and Broccoli (4.0) (with rice)

Beef slices very thin. Good texture. Brown sauce not really Szechuan; Ha. But itís the standard LC brown sauce. And itís fine. Broccoli and water chestnuts crunchy. Good. Standard LC long grain. You canít seriously expect real short grain? Ha. Overall, good. ~190


Steak Tips Dijon (3.5) (beef steak with roasted red skin potatoes and green beans and no mad cow)
The steak tips are actually ok, and the sauce has a peculiar flavor, which I guess is supposed to resemble Dijon.

Jumbo Rigatoni with Meatballs (3.5) (in marina sauce served with zucchini)
Wow. The meatballs really arenít that bad.

Salisbury steak with macaroni and cheese (3.5)
Not bad in fact.

Stuffed Cabbage (3.5) (meat-filled cabbage roll with tomato sauce and whipped potatoes)
Itís the same as their meatloaf entrťe but wrapped in cabbage and covered in tomato sauce. Since Iíd be ketchuping the meatloaf anyway, were halfway there now. I think this is the more interesting dish.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce (3.0)
Fine.

Swedish Meatballs (3.0)
The meatballs are good, and the sauce isnít bad. Two too many meatballs.

 


Fish and Turkey



Roasted Turkey Breast (2.5) (with gravy, cornbread stuffing and vegetables)
Turkey, the food, is only barely good enough to begin with, let alone a frozen dinner version. I would wait for Thanksgiving.

Salmon with Basil (2.5, 3.0 if couldnít just go to your local supermarket and get some fresh fish instead) (wild salmon, whole wheat orzo pasta, spinach and carrots in a basil sauce)
The orzo, spinach and carrot part is pretty good, but the salmon itself is kind of fishy. Too fishy. Listen people, what Iím saying is itís not that good. Frozen chunks of salmon is not a great idea.

Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce (2.5) (wild salmon medallions with a lemon dill sauce, whole wheat vermicelli, yellow carrots and broccoli)

Salmon medallions! ~240


Baked Lemon Pepper Fish (1.5) (fish fillet with lemon pepper breading with broccoli in a cheddar cheese sauce)
Frozen fish suck because it has always sucked. And always will suck. Because it sucks.

 

 


Weight Watchers Smart Ones


 

Bad. Generally a bad brand.

 

Fajita Chicken Supreme (4.0) (juicy grilled white meat chicken, onions, peppers and Santa Fe style rice & beans)
Compare with Lean Cuisine Santa Fe-style Rice and Beans or Three-Bean Chili. Go ahead. Do it. Itís basically similar only it has lower cheese content but a higher spice level. The onions and peppers are nice, large pieces. Again, I see a trend here. WWSO dishes tend to be more ďrawĒ preferring chunks and pieces of things rather than daintily, perfectly sized things. I think if youíre the type of person who likes a kabob, and is on a diet, youíll like Smart Ones.


Penne Pollo (3.5) (tender grilled white meat chicken, tomatoes and broccoli in a garlic sauce with penne pasta)
Itís all true. The dish has good, solid chicken squares (come from same farm where spaghetti trees are grown), penne tubes and vegetables. One thing I note immediately, which differentiated Smart Ones from Lean Cuisine, is what seems to be a much less anal approach to consistency in piece size. And Iím not so much talking about the chicken squares (and rhomboids), as I am the broccoli! The broccoli pieces range from tiny (cute) little heads (tÍtes) to more randomly shaped (hacked) pieces. Fine by me. It all tastes just fine. And the unpredictability is something I could learn to get used to. Weight Watchers is a division of Heinz North America.

Southwest Style Adobo Chicken (3.5) (tender white meat chicken in a sweet chili sauce and paired with a southwest style seasoned rice, bean and corn medley)
Medley! Anyway, the flavor here is too tame. Now they use the polished white rice, when they should be using the yellow tex-mex rice. [buries head in hands (international sign of despair)]

Thai-Style Chicken & Rice Noodles (3.5) (in a zesty peanut sauce)
Wow. This is a lot of flavor for sub a 300. A lot of flavor.

Teriyaki Chicken & Vegetable Bowl (3.5) (grilled white meat chicken and Asian-style vegetables in a sweet & spicy teriyaki sauce over white rice)
Standard teriyaki (chicken and vegetable) bowl. Itís fine. No, it really is alright. Lots of crunchy bamboo shoots. And stuff.

 

WWSO Santa Fe-style Rice (3.0) (spicy rice & red beans with a zesty green chile & sour cream sauce,  topped with cheddar cheese)

That it is. This is good. Itís good in a different way to the LC version. Why? Same reason as many WW Smart Ones. It offers more bean, more earthiness, and a little more of the taqueria-quality. It takes both kinds.

 

WWSO Fiesta Chicken (2.5) (in a spicy ranchero sauce with green chiles and Spanish rice)

Rice okay. Kind of boring chicken portion Ė fairly unimpressive (not enough chicken or flavor, surprisingly even)

 

WWSO Sweet and Sour Chicken (2.5) (with mushrooms and bell peppers)

Flavor okay. Chicken okay. 2 sweet, not enough sour. But still, flavor okay. But a lot of liquid for not having any rice in it? Huh. Needs rice.

 

WWSO Macaroni & Cheese (2.5) (casserole favorite bursting with cheese flavor)

God, if WWSO was going to get anything right, youíd think it would have to be mac and cheese. No. Still no. Mac too slippery. And the cheese flavor is weak. Just mild, barely noticeable non-specific cheese flavor. Barely recognizable as processed cheddar, even. Wow.


WWSO Spicy Szechuan Style Vegetables & Chicken (2.5) (served over tender Lo Mein pasta)
It is spicy alright, but the spice is that immediate, shallow kind, and not deep. Other than that, there really isnít a lot else going on here. Couple more water chestnuts would be welcome.

WWSO Grilled Mandarin Chicken (2.5) (grilled white meat-chicken with a sweet-tangy orange sauce over a rice blend with sweet bell peppers and crisp carrotsÖand fajita chicken supreme)
Okay. This is where the WWSO approach breaks down. Asian food (apart from cheap Chinese) needs to be fresh, tidy and small. Whereas Lean Cuisineís Asian dishes have polished white rice, the rice here is clearly the same as that in their Mexican and other dishes. The grilled chicken is fine, but try to find grilled chicken in an Asian restaurant. No, just try. The carrots and peppers taste fine, but they are simply not crispy, as advertised. Look at the box on this one, it even looks like a Mexican dish. The orange sauce could be tangier. Wow, I canít believe Iím still going on about this. Woo-hoo. Anyway. Until the next one. See you.

 

 


Healthy Choice



Green box (design)  looks a bit thrown together. Not impressed with what Iíve tried either.

Healthy Choice Chicken Enchilada (3.5) (with sour cream sauce and Spanish rice)
Itís all true. Itís gooey, corn-tortillaíd, good. Rice very Spanish indeed. Has a very Tex-Mex restaurant style of bean, pea and corn bits. Overall, itís a dirty good dish. Pushes 300 calories and without a doubt..

Healthy Choice Grilled White Meat Chicken & Pasta (2.5 to 3.0) (with fire roasted tomato sauce)
Fire roasted. Hilarious. Anyway, it does have a nice solitary chicken breast, which is quite a departure from the manicured dainty-bits you get with almost every lean frozen meal on shelves today. So thatís different. The pasta pieces are too big (unwieldy, careless, too-strewn). The red pepper (not mentioned in titlage?) and broccoli pieces are fine, but again coarsely careless. Not that I want a pedicure/manicure of every meal. But if youíre going to be careless, be dirty great careless. Be a Mexican meal. Or something.

Healthy Choice Grilled White Meat Chicken & Mashed Potatoes (2.5)
Boring. Mash potato is funny in that you can shake the plastic container and see the frozen potato mound jump around inside. Itís just funny. And the potato behaves about the same after you cook it. So thatís not so good. The chicken and gravy compartment is okay, but the chicken and gravy inside the compartment, not so much. Gravy standard, but the chicken is a tiny bit too chewy. Did they actually paint the grill marks on? No? Could they? No?


South Beach Diet


 

If Weight Watchers is bad, South Beach Diet isóI donít even think there is a word for what South Beach Diet is. Itís bad though. Itís very very bad. (South Beach = Kraft)

 

South Beach Diet Savory Pork with Pecans & Green Beans (2.5) (tender pieces of pork in a savory sauce with onions, celery and pecans with seasoned green beans and yellow peppers)

Pork tastes like beef almost. Strange. And sauce is thin, like broth, not thick, like sauce. Strange. Green beans and yellow peppers fairly ordinary.

 

South Beach Diet Szechwan Style Pork (1.5) (tender pork & Asian noodles in sauce with carrots & sweet soybeans with sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, & yellow peppers) ~270

What a joke. Iím not even going to waste time explaining whatís wrong here.

 


Ethnic Gourmet



Yeah these are really good. But theyíre even better if you do them in a conventional oven instead of microwaving. You can do either but if follow their instructions and bake them, the results are worth it. Hain Celestial Group (Melville, NY).


Ethnic Gourmet Palak Paneer (4.5) (creamed spinach and cheese with rice and rajmah dal made with organic spinach, rice and beans)
Amazingly good. Just really good flavor in the green part. The bean partís not bad either. Very Indian-restaurant. The rice part is standard basmati and it works best if you mix it up with the other parts. Then youíre good to go. Great stuff. ~270  

Ethnic Gourmet Lime Chicken with Ancho Chile Sauce (4.5) (tender white meat chicken in a zesty ancho chile cream sauce, topped with Monterey jack cheese, with a side of corn a zucchini) ~340

Absolutely delicious. But lose the zucchini.

 

Ethnic Gourmet Thit Ga Kho Tieu (Chicken & Vegetables) (4.5)

Now I never go against Thit Ga. No seriously. This is good. Good spice. Good flavor. Nothing wrong with it. The base rice, chicken and vegetables and slick sauce are all fundamentally the same as what Nestle does with Lean Cuisine (especially itís Asian dishes). Only this has got some additional peppers and spices (read chili oil) which the average LC entrťe donít got. Donít got Kho Tieu. (seasoned white meat chicken with onions, bok choy, red and green bell peppers, and scallions with cilantro rice). Itís all true. ~330

 

Ethnic Gourmet Chicken Biryani (4.0) (traditional rice entrťe with seasoned white meat chicken cooked with cauliflower, carrots, green peppers)
Delicious medium spicy flavor. Chicken pieces (when they do happen, really are good). Vegetables and rice all good. Only issue is I feel somehow we could achieve at least much of that flavor with having quite as much fat content. Yes? No? Get a life?  

Ethnic Gourmet Chicken Tandoori with spinach (4.0)

Good chicken pieces. Soft, flavorful. Nice mild flavor of spinach. Rice must be mixed right into the chicken/spinach space (it donít do by itself.) Good stuff this. ~170 (I donít believe that.)

 

Ethnic Gourmet Ė Lime Chicken with Ancho Chile Sauce (4.0)

Once again. Great flavors. Medium spice. Not at all bad. Chicken a tad dry but I stoppedexpecting better from frozen long ago.

 

thnic Gourmet Singapore Noodles (4.0) (thin rice noodles stir-fried with vegetarian chicken, red and green peppers, carrots and onions; thatís right, it did just say vegetarian chicken?)

Good flavor. Good tofuówait, make that great tofu. If youíre having at homeóand you have a proper home that isóI recommend adding a dash of fish sauce and/or a squeeze of lime. Thatíll take it to a 4.5 at least. Says mild spice but itís really medium. ~290

 

Ethnic Gourmet Bean Masala (3.5) (sautťed with ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes)
The turmeric shows through; itís a bit chalky. On the other hand, who can argue with any combinations of chick peas, green peas and kidney beans? Who? ~400

Ethnic Gourmet Vegetable Paneer (3.5) (shredded Paneer cheese sautťed with vegetables, onions, garlic and spices. Wrapped in a spinach flavored gourmet flatbread.)
Itís good, but itís the frozen tortilla problem. You always end up with some hardened ďtortillaĒ corners after you cook it. But flavor-wise, itís fine. ~360

Ethnic Gourmet Lemongrass and Basil Chicken (3.5) (seasoned white meat chicken in an authentic lemongrass and basil green curry sauce with carrots and green beans).
Not bad. There might be too much turmeric here. Will need to retry. ~390

Ethnic Gourmet Chicken Korma (3.5)

Good. I might like the Tikki Masala better. Anyway. Itís good. Pretty spicy.


Ethnic Gourmet Vegetable Korma (3.0) (a mixture of fresh vegetables sautťed with fresh ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, raisins and cashews)
Itís good. ~300

Ethnic Gourmet Shahi Paneer (3.0) (cubes of homemade cheese with raisins and cashews in a cream sauce + seasoned, long-grain brown rice)
Eh. The usual EG brown rice. The cheese cubes are good, and thereís enough of them. But the flavor is just lacking.  Dude. Itís 500+ calories. It only has about 300 calories of flavor.

Ethnic Gourmet Pad Thai with Noodles (2.5) (traditional Thai specialty of rice noodles in a peanut base sauce with carrots, tofu, scallions).
Noodles have way too mealy texture, almost like gnocchi! Maybe not that much, but no, noodles are definitely (2.0) here. Flavor is par. Spice medium. Okay. Not enough tofu pieces. ~420

Ethnic Gourmet Eggplant Bartha (2.5) (roasted eggplant and green peas sautťed with onions and tomatoes)
Itís hard to really comment on the flavor because itís just a mouthful of spicy (even though itís supposedly rated mild?). ~300

Ethnic Gourmet Chile Relleno Ravioli with Mango Chipotle Salsa (2.5) (green chile and ricotta cheese filled ravioli, topped with a smoky, zesty mango chipotle salsa)

Oh boy. Where to even begin. Again, why are we trying to mush Italian, Mexican and Caribbean cuisine into one dish? I mean, this would even be funny, if it werenít true. The flavor isnít all that bad or anything. But it just doesnít make any sense. It really is like you took several completely different entrees and just stirred them together. Little bits of chewy green pepper skins are never welcome, in any context.

 

Ethnic Gourmet Chicken Arrabiata (2.0) (tender white meat chicken pieces tossed with a spicy tomato sauce and penne pasta)

Empty spice with little flavor. Please, leave the arrabiata (and penne) to the Italians. This is an ill-conceived dish.

 

Note: EG rice seems to take less microwave time than the other food portion. So you have to cook it once, then separate them and cook the rest again. Or else!

 

Ethnic Gourmet Butternut Squash Ravioli

Oh my god awful. Just awful. The next time youíre in the grocery store and you see a frozen entree called ďbutternut squash ravioliĒ that also has a side of ďmini broccoli florets,Ē just keep walking. Just keep walking.

 

 


Amyís Stuff


 

Amyís Roasted Vegetable Pocket (4.0) (made with organic shitake mushrooms, sweet onions and roasted red peppers)
Itís pretty ďdarnĒ good. You can taste the mushrooms. Crust is a little dry, but this is to be expected with any microwavable ďpocketĒ from any brand. It could be (and usually is) worse.

(2) Good bc it has a very faintly roasted flavor to it. Itís just a nice, rich flavor to the vegetables (and roots and tubers), as well as the pocket itself. ~230

 

Amyís Enchilada (4.0) (with black bean & vegetable)
Okay, this is a delicious enchilada. Good enchil. Good ada. Just good. ~360
(2) had again recently. this time it didnít seem to pack as much flavor. i think the problem is me. this is what happens when you eat too much real food? Iíve been eating real food...

 

Amyís Stuffed Pasta Bowl (4.0)

Quite good actually. Spinach flavor and amount of texture seems exactly right. And there isnít an excess of overly liquidy sauce either, like there so often is in this red game. ~310

 

Amyís Indian Samosa Wraps (4.0) (made with organic potatoes, peas and tofu)

Flavor of filling is pretty good. As for the crust. I actually baked this instead of the usual microwaving and I think it might make a huge difference (for the better). I will try baking Amyís burritos in future instead of the microwaving. Because that has always been my main gripe with Amyís (and most peopleís) burritosóthat the crusts end up too tough and discardableóclip the cardboard ends off and donít eat, is what Iím sayiní. Well it may not be thus if one is willing to waste a little of the old gas naturale. And plan ahead a little. Can you wait 40-50 minutes? ~520 (wow)


Amyís Enchilada (3.5) (with Spanish rice & beans)
Good.

Amyís Cheese Enchilada (3.5) (with Organic Beans, Corn & Tomatoes)
Good. Yes, classic set of items.

 

Amyís Shepherds Pie (3.5) (made with organic vegetablesÖand nothing elseÖ)

Itís fine. For vegetarian shepherdís pie?

 

Amyís Asian Noodle Stir-Fry (3.5 to 4.0) (made with organic rice noodles, vegetables and tofu)

Very good. Need to compare with LC version. ~290

 

Amyís Broccoli and Something Pocket (3.5)

Good. ~270

 

Amyís Pesto Tortellini Bowl (3.5)

Pesto fine. No complaints. Torts get a shade soggy (beyond al dente), but perhaps this is unavoidable in the frozen arena. The question is can we do better with frozen or must we always go to the nearest Whole Foods for the fresh pasta packages? That is the question. ~430


Amyís Spinach and Feta Pocket (3.0)
Not bad. Perhaps just slightly odd spinach taste.


Amyís Spinach Pizza (3.0) (made with organic spinach and tomatoes; duh)

Itís fine.


Amyís Teriyaki Bowl (3.0) (made with organic tofu, brown rice, and vegetables)

Components are fine. Tofu pieces a bit small and uninspiring. Brown rice and sauce also fairly unexciting.

~290

 

Amyís Macaroni & Cheese (3.0)
More subtle than Stoufferís version. And there is no room for subtlety in Mac and Cheese. Amyís, youíre fired!

Amyís Mattar Paneer (3.0) (curried peas and cheese with rice and chana masala
UmÖitís okay. Only vaguely reminiscent of actual Indian restaurant fare. But not bad.

Amyís Mattar Tofu (3.0) (curried peas and tofu with rice and dal)

Thereís nothing wrong with it. Thereís nothing great about it either. Itís just sort ofótoo tameóat least, since I know some Ethnic Gourmet dishes thatÖ~260


Amyís Palak Paneer (3.0) (creamed spinach and cheese with rice and rajmah dal)
Okay. Itís fine, but it seems vastly inferior to even a cheap Indian restaurant. Itís just better not to have it and wait until you can go out for Indian. Tomorrow? (Ethnic Gourmetís PP is way better, BTW and FYI; and other brands too like ďDeep Indian GourmetĒ)

Amyís Thom Kha Phak (2.5)

Basic coconut broth flavor. Passable but utterly lacking in any heat/spice or Thai fish sauce flavor. Reconstituted shitake slices are awkwardly large and slick. And there are soft carrots. Why are there soft carrots? ~440


Amyís Chili and Cornbread (2.5)
Frozen cornbread? Dumb.


Amyís Vegetable Pot Pie (2.5)

Not worth even 300. Healthy and ďpot pie crustĒ just donít go together. Amyís should stick to what it does better. ~360


Amyís Veggie Loaf (1.0) (with mashed potatoes and vegetables)
Hilarious.

 

 


Other Frozen Foods


 

Frozen Burritos
A taste test was planned to be held between the various purveyors of frozen burritos: Amyís, Delgadoís, and the always cheaper Tinaís Burrito. Unfortunately, however, the study was unable to be completed because I soon discovered I will like any burrito you put in front of me. Final result: get whichever one you want. Theyíre all great.

 

Kashi

 

Kashi Southwest Style Chicken (4.0)

Compare with Lean Cuisine Santa Fe Style Rice and Beans although minus the beans and Kashiģ 7 Whole Grain & Sesame Pilaf instead of standard rice. Anyway, itís not bad. The chicken is very realistic. Iím impressed.

 

Kashi Sweet and Sour Chicken (4.0)

Pretty much what you expect in terms of the sweet and sour pert. The chicken pieces in this here box were actually pretty good. Probably the best thing about it was the relatively large and firm green beans! Not bad. Not bad. Probably the most predictable thing about it was the fact that yes, once again, Kashi whole grain whatever-it-is instead of rice.

 

Kashi Chicken Pasta Pomodoro (4.0)

This is good. ~280

 

Kashi Lemongrass Coconut Chicken (4.0)

See Sweet and Sour comments, except this is lemongrass coconut. Good stuff.

 

Kashi Lime Cilantro Shrimp (3.5)

The rice puffy rice is fine. Sauce and flavor is good although maybe a bit overemphasizedóno more so than any Lean Cuisine or other similar butóbut I might prefer less of a ďthick shimmerĒ and more of the thing ďfish sauceĒ bent. No matter. Itís fine. And for frozen shrimp, it can get a lot worse than this. ~250

 

 

Cedarlane

 

Cedarlane Spinach and Feta Pie (Spanakopita) (4.5)

First, you have to bake this in the oven (it cannot be microwaved). No, I donít mean, as in, I really ďfeel stronglyĒ that it cannot be microwaved. I mean, literally, it cannot be microwaved, as in, the box says ďyou cannot microwave this.Ē So donít. Second, itís awesome. The ďflaky filoĒ dough ends up just that. The spinach and cheese (feta and mozzarella) filling is really good (it just tastes good and rich without being too greasy). Wow. The only drawback is you will eat the whole thing, and thatís two servings at ~520. Oh well, you only live once. (some of you.)

 

Cedarlane Burrito Grande (4.0)

First, itís about two portions worth. Itís huge. Fine. I can live with that. Itís also really good. Good beans. Tons of cheese. Mild spices. Really though itís more of a big enchilada than a burrito. (Note softness of thick, moist tortilla; enchilada, not burrito.) ~440

 

Cedarlane Vegetable Enchiladas (3.5)

Sauce is fine. Has a nice mild but true spice. The tortillas are good. Needs more cheese. Overall, needs to have less sauce and more enchilada. Not bad though. (made with organic beans, bell pepper and tortillas) ~280

 

Cedarlane Burrito Grande (with Chili Verde Sauce) (3.5)

Stuffed, green. And good. ~460 (holy shit!)

 

Cedarlane Couscous and Vegetable Wraps (2.5)

Itís one wrap. It has real couscous in it. And vegetables. I really have little else to say about it. Itís pretty boring. Iíll let you know if I come across a more exciting couscous-based product.

 

Cedarlane Eggplant Parmesan (3.0) (with roasted vegetables and sun dried tomato sauce)

Itís fine. Tomato and parmesan sauce is fine. The texture of the eggplant isnít as bad as I feared it might be (as compared to fresh cooked). Itís fine. Nothing to get worked up over. But not bad.

 

 

Zatarainís

 

Zatarainís Jambalaya with Chicken (4.0) (rotisserie chicken with rice, tomato, onion, bell pepper and spices)

Hey, this oneís pretty good. I would have it a little spicier myself, but the flavor (all told) is pretty good.

 

Zatarainís Dirty Rice (4.0) (with beef and pork)

Fairly spicy (tip of tongue, not back; but itís as much as you can expect). Rich flavor. Pretty good. Eat slow because one package is more than one portion (youíll finish it before you know it and then youíll be sorry later; oh, youíll be sorry). Later. ~470

 

Zatarainís Red Beans and Rice (3.0)
Itís okay but requires addition of sour cream and just isnít as much flavor/spice as I would expect for the calories. Also itís really more like red bean paste than a lot of big red beans. Eh. On the other hand, I donít see a lot of better red beans and rice entrees from Lean Cuisine or anything. So I guess if you gotsta have it. ~510

 

Zatarainís Jambalaya with Sausage (2.0) (rice with sausage, onion, bell pepper and spices)

Very spicy but the spice is too shallow. Itís too up-front. Doesnít work. Isnít integrated into the main flavor of the dish.

 

 

Other Lesser Known Brands

 

Deep Indian Gourmet Ė Mutter Paneer(4.5)

Okay wow. This stuff is really really flavorful. Yes itís a lot of calories. No, it ainít no lean anything. But wow itís a pretty good amount of flavor packed in here. I would venture to say this is the best frozen Indian Iíve yet had. The trick however, since it really is a LOT of curry and sauce. Is you should just cook your own semibrown rice separately. Then make two meals of it my dividing the contents onto your own rice in two containers. Thatís my suggestion. Unless you are huge. Then just do it all in one thing. But you really do have to blend in your own rice cause this is a LOT of curry in here. But itís really good flavor, if I did mention or you werenít paying attention earlier.

 

Moosewood Moroccan Stew (4.5) (An aromatic and exotic stew of fresh sweet potatoes, cabbage and peppers simmered with tomatoes, raisins, and chick peas served with golden couscousóand NOT lamb)
This is pretty good, actually. Any sweeter might be too sweet. But no, itís very nice. Enjoy with a nice vaguely sweet Riesling? ~160 (no way; must be typo)

Moosewood Macaroni and Three Cheeses (3.0)
Which are? Who can tell. Just tastes like a more subtle version of mac and cheese, which defeats its own purpose.
 

Boston Market Apple Glazed Pork with Rice and Broccoli au Gratin (3.5)
Wow. This is much better (than the other BM I had). Especially the rice part. Not bad. Again, somewhat rich, but good flavor. ~340

Boston Market Grilled Chicken with Mesquite BBQ Sauce (3.0)
Itís fine, but itís all too rich. The sauce and the ďsmashedĒ potatoes (sounds like something Rachel Ray would think up) are 2 dense, 2 rich. Itís just not worth the extra calories over Lean Cuisine. ~340 (100 from fat!)

Delimex Chicken Taquitos (3.0) (tasty chicken rolled in fresh corn tortillas)
Says on box itís Americaís #1 chicken taquito. It was the only one of the shelf, so Iím going to assume for now itís Americaís only chicken taquito. The way it works is you take the bag out of the attractive box then snip it with some scissors or a knife to release the taquitos. Then you take out however many taquitos you want to eat, which is totally up to you, although the picture does seem to imply five is the correct number. You then put the taquitos on a plate and microwave them for about three minutes, thus making them very hot. Accessorize with cheese, ketchup, shredded lettuce, sour cream (all are pictured, none are included) and eat. The box provides a recipe for making delicious salsa. May I gently suggest that whomsoever is going to make delicious salsa probably did not buy these taquitos. No matter. So does the shell of Americaís #1 chicken taquito resemble soggy cardboard? Let me just say, on the record, ďI have no reason to doubt these are Americaís #1 frozen taquitos.Ē

Hot Pockets Ham and Cheese (2.5) Fake is not just as good

Okay seriously, these things are edible, but theyíre only just this side of real food. What I mean by that is the ham, cheese and even the crust all seem about as fake as fake. This is vending machine food. And thatís fine if youíre desperate. But itís 2007 and weíve done something about this now. EvenKrogerís. This is exactly the kind of thing Rachael Ray used to eat before she got discovered. There must be something better than this for ham and cheese in a pocket. There must be an Amyís pocket or something. ~320/pocket

 

 

Frozen Pizza (see elsewhere for certain brands)

 

A.C. LaRocco Ė ultra thin sprouted grain (3.5)

Itís similar to Amyís only the crust is thinner (a plus), but itís nowhere near the quality of the Italian imports from Trader Joeís. My god. What is? Anyway, again the only frozen pizza Iíve ever been satisfied with in my life is Trader Joeís Italian-made import. And dammit. Dammit dammit since I donít have a TJ in my town. Dammit.

 

Trader Giottaís Ė All Styles (5.0)

Godammit. This is so much better than every other frozen pizza Iíve ever had itís ridiculous. Defies possibility. Crust like an actual Italian pizza made in Italy. This actually is made in Italy. And imported. And still costs less than other brands. Goddammit, that there is Trader Joeís where I live. Pizza.

 

Amyís, Stouffers (elsewhere

 


Normal Crackers


 

Now when it comes to snack crackers, the way I see it, in middle America there are four choices. Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Carrís, and Breton. Breton, you ask? Yes, I didnít know about Breton either until one day, I was standing there in the aisle of pressed wheat about to grab a box of Carrís, and there it was. On display, in the middle of the aisle, Breton crackers. I took a box home and from day forward, Iíve thought of Breton as just another part of the family. Like Carrís, they have several varieties. But unlike Carrís, Breton are much thicker and can be eaten alone, which is always useful in the modern catastrophe of running out of cheese. Second, itís more fun to say Breton.

On the other hand, if you have a really nice piece of cheese, you want to be able to taste it and not get bogged down in cracker. You need a straight man. Not Jerry Lewis. Moreover, there are some days when Bretonís bulkiness can simply be over-powering and downright abusive. These are the times when you just want a mild-mannered cracker who knows its place, a table water cracker, like Carrís. What about Wheat Thins and Triscuits? I donít know, you tell me. Oh, and melba toast is great with just some butter on it. Really great.

 

Carrís Table Water Crackers Ė imported from England
These really are superior in every way. Better for this, better for that, better get it.

365 Organic Water Crackers Ė imported from England
These are everything you do NOT want in a water cracker. They have this room-filling salty, weird flavor, which mars any possibly enjoyment you might have gotten from the cheese on top of them.

Wild Oats Organic Water Crackers Ė imported from England
Okay.

Courtneyís Organic Ė fine English water crackers
No hydrogenated oils. No taste either.

Carrís Onion and Garlic Ė imported from England
Great enthusiasm and energy. Frequently makes interesting contributions, but is often disruptive, especially during nap time. Doesnít play well with others. Needs to learn how to share. Needs to learn how to nap.

Bisca Original Water Crackers
Does this mean original of all water crackers ever? Or do they just mean itís their original water cracker formula. Water cracker version 1.0 if you will. A little research soon uncovered that (think of stupid story to insert here). It says on the box Ďby appointment to the royal danish courtí. Now Iím not completely sure what that phrase means exactly, but one interpretation would be that Bisca had some sort of connection with the royal Danish court. Course I could be wrong. God I wish smoking wasnít bad for you.

 

Head to Head Matchups

 

Monet vs. Carrís
The first thing youíll notice when you compare these two behemothís of the table cracker industry is that Carrís come with a wrapper of cellophane on the outside of the box. Monet dispenses with it. Of course, the crackers themselves come in the usual protective womb of plastic. But thatís too be expected.

Monet are produced in Canada.

Wellington Versus Carrís
Wellingtons may taste slightly dry-er than the Carrís. ďDry-er than Carrís?Ē you say. ďBut how can this be?Ē you say. Quite so. Quite so. I really cannot articulate why I prefer one over the other, but I do. I suppose I honestly do. Ohósorryóitís Carrís. I like the Carrís.

Wellington are produced in England.

3.5 Vivant Zesty Vegetable Crackers vs. Themselves
Oh they are zesty. Thereís no question about that. They pretty much bloody the nose of whatever cheese you put on them, except jalapeŮo jack. These crackers do taste pretty good when youíre as hungry as I was when I thought they actually tasted pretty good.

God knows where Vivant are produced. Vivant are produced in South Carolina.

 

Costa (notes on  authenticity)

Costa is apparently this food company (based in Chile) that makes knock-offs of various European food imports. In general, their products are not quite as good as the originals, but they are cheaper.

 

 

Costa Table Water Crackers vs Carrís

Costa are slightly smaller and thicker. They donít have quite as dry a flavor as the Carrís originals, and in fact, they kind of taste like an unsalty saltine. Iíll pay the extra dollar for Carrís. In fact, you really canít enjoy fine cheese on a Costa, because their thick presence interferes like Hugo Chavez at a WTO banquet.

 

Costa Toasts vs Petit Toasts

Costa (Chile)ŗ more white bread-y; less crunch; better for sweet jams, etc.

Petit Toasts (Holland) ŗ more wheat-y, moving toward faint hint of melba; harder, more crunch; better for certain cheeses

 

 


Special Crackers


 

Wheat Crackers
Wheat crackers call for very pungent (strong, singular flavor) cheeses, which can stand up to their dominant, overpowering wheaty flavor.

 

Ak-Mak 100% whole wheat stone ground sesame cracker  
Okay, so these are good. Very wheaty. No question. They also do carry a hint of chemicality to them. And this must be overcome by eating the cracker with a strong accompaniment, such as a pungent cheese like Chimay or TÍte De Moine or a strong blue, natural pairings for wheat flavor. Just putting butter and jam on this cracker will not do. Eating alone allows the chemical flavor to dominate your palate. Youíll notice it. And youíll come crawling back to me, for more advice. And perhaps I will give it. (low fat; no cholesterol, never had any)

 

Wasa (multi-grain)

I think this is pretty damn good stuff.

 

Finn-Crisp (multi-grain)

I like it. But be aware the sesame seeds and poppy seed flavor really does come through.

 

Kavli

Kavli is terrible productóin fact, Kavli sucksóIíve decidedóafter trying a lot of different crackers. The only one worth having is Kavli Wheat (Thick) and thatís basically because itís vaguely like WASA thick crackers. Anyway. If itís all youíve got, eat it. But donít buy Kavli instead of other things (which are better).

 

Kavli Whole Grain Crispbread Hearty Trick

Hearty Trick? Oh, maybe itís hearty thick? That would make more sense, wouldnít it? Hmm. Anyway, no, this really has a pronounced wheat flavor. Itís good. Lingers. Iím just wondering what to put on them. For guidance, I look at the box. Says enjoy with your favorite condiments, spreads, cheese. Great help. Anyway it goes alright with hard and semi-hard goatís milk cheese and dark beer.


Kavli Whole Grain Crispbread Thin
Same as thick, but thin. Amazing.

 

Kavli Whole Grain Crispbread 5 Grain

Rye, wheat, oats, barley, millet. Theyíre all in there. Although you could just have some breakfast cereal instead. Iím not sure exactly why this cracker would be better for cheese than other, simpler ones. Although I will admit it was okay with (I forgot whatever it was okay with). It was probably some semi-hard Swiss-style or cave-style goat cheeses.

Kavli Whole Grain Crispbread Garlic
Terrible. Itís just Kavli wheat thin with some faux garlic flavoring. Iím thinking garlic-flavored Melba toast would be the better option (for a garlic cracker).

 

Kavli Whole Grain Crispbread Pesto
See garlic. This is just a stupid stupid cracker.

 

Garlic Crackers and Melba Toast

 

Old London Melba Toast Rounds Garlic

Good with Parmigiano Reggianoóprobably even better with some other particular cheese. Probably best of all with some really smooth-good butter.

 

Old London Melba Toast Rectangles

I actually think the rectangles are better because they are less dense with oil. Donít ask me to understand or explain why on earth this is the case. But it is. Here, less is more. Rectanglesóbetter.

 

 

Other Random Stuff Holders

 

Starr Ridge Hors díOeuvre Crackers Simply White

Simply whiteóis a misnomer. They actually have a quite strong flavor. Unlike some plain crackers. Not that Carrís doesnít also have a distinct flavor, but itís less salty and less pronounced. So allís Iím saying is donít just mix with a subtle cheese unawares or nothiní and expect good news.

 

Three Grain Bread (Mestemacher, GE)

Awesome. One of the only authentic bread (or bread-like) items one can get at any large supermarket. These breads come vacuum sealed, have a real expiration date (not like ten years and several chemicals later or something), and youíre supposed to refrigerate andconsume them within a week or so once you open the package. Now I may let it go longer and I havenít had a problem.

 

 

Rice Crackers Ė coming soon

 

Kame versus The Other Brands

White versus Brown Rice

Cheddar flavored rice crackers (Iíll answer that right now; yuck!)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cookies! Biscuits! Etc.!


 

Le Petit …colier (The Little Schoolboy) Ė extra dark chocolate

Good. Extra dark chocolate. Good for a little ďto go with a coffee or tea,Ē but perhaps the extra darkness makes them a bit dominant with whatever else you plan to have them withóso less versatile. (70% cocoa).

 

Also comes in Milk, Milk Hazelnut and Dark (45%)

 

 


Chips and Snack Foods


 

Tostitos Lime Flavored Tortilla Chip

 

o       Formal Review

 

Sensible Portions Multi Grain Crisps

Sensible portions is right. Eat one and youíre definitely done. These chips are bad. Theyíre worse than Japanese junk food. All the silly puffy weightlessness but without the extreme cute packaging.

 

o       Formal Review

 

Nilla Cakesters Ė guest review by Lora Kolodny

Never, ever waste your money ($0.79) on Nilla Cakesters.* Even if you are a huge fan of both the Nilla Wafer, and the Twinkie and feel like a cakester could contain the best of both foods. Nilla Cakesters come in packs of three, and are so bad that after biting into one, dry cake with frosting filling that leaves a weatherproof coating on your tongue, three is not one too many, but three too many.

 

Verdict: NEVER! (remember gremlins? really. never.)

 

* I just had to add cakester to my .dic. Damn. (this is me saying this, not Ms. Kolodny)

 

 


Jelly and Jams


 

Attention must be paid.

 

Matin des Pyrenťes Apple-Pear-Walnut Jam
Very good jam. Iíve come to think that there is little that comes from the Pyrenees which is not good. Very little. Except bombs.

Matin de Pyrenťes Apricot-Raspberry-Peach

Yes. Iím normally against mixing. But wow. Exceptions must be made.

 

Ascension will be made.

 


Edible Yogurt


 

The best way to eat yogurt is with a touch (or heap) of honey. You can also add your own granola for a nice combination. Donít have granola? Try chopping up a Power bar Harvest into 12 pieces and dropping it in. This is the only reason I would buy Power Bar Harvests.

 

Mountain High Strawberry

Delicious. Silky smooth (a whopping 11% fat). Nice, subtle flavor of strawberry and a touch of honey. Note how refreshing it is to have a strawberry flavored yogurt what isnít fake and colored.

Stoneyfield Farms Vanilla (lowfat)

Excellent. This is my staple.

Stoneyfield Farms Strawberry (lowfat)
Smooth texture, nice and unobtrusive strawberry flavor. Maybe a hint of synthetic flavor in the aftertaste. A very good choice.

Stoneyfield Farms Banilla (lowfat)
A little odd tasting. But it works really well with cubed chocolate power bar or power bar harvest bars. A La Recherche du Ton Perdu: Remember when you were a little kid, and you used to buy that brown and yellow thing from the ice cream man? Well...

Dannon Light (nonfat)
Itís very bad. Aspartame? Does that sound like something you would want to be eating? No, it doesnít. Would eat it if it were the last yogurt on earth.

 

 


Power Bars


 

Regular Power Bars

The Little Bird Says: Power Bars are hard to chop.

Malt Nut

Classic Coke. This is what a high-energy candy bar should taste like.

Oatmeal Raisin
A little heavy-handed, but not too bad.

Cappuccino

Hell yes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter
Itís pretty enjoyable. Like a healthier Reeseís peanut butter cup for a new generation.

Chocolate
A bit much on the weird chocolate flavor, but it grows on you after a while. Try chopping it up and putting it in Banilla Yogurt. God I miss Banilla Yogurt. Ever since I moved, no more, not available, no obtainable, gone and would have been forgotten, but for this rewrite and reminder. I do most of my sad remembering in a hot shower, leaning up against the wall, eyes closed, feeling heavy if I thought about it, a lump, not fat yet, but Iím going to be, feeling like thereís still a chance to get in touch with them, but itís becoming a faint murmur now, a not yet fat chance, of seeing friends again. But Iíll make a lot of money wonít I? In this non Banilla town. Expect itís the same for you? Or not. Chocolate? Or not?

Apple
Itís okay. Still thinking about it. I guess Power Bar isnít though, since they seem to have discontinued it.

 

Wild Berry  
Grape does not lend itself to synthetic production. Recall Welchís grape soda.

Crispy Vanilla
Crispy? Ha! Ever wondered what it would be like to take a bite out of that vanilla candle you got at Pier 1 Imports? Wonder no more. Just walk over to that candle and take a bite out of it. Euh. Anyway, crispy vanilla is not good.

 

Power Bar Harvest

 

PBH Oatmeal Raisin Cookie (4.5)
Delicious. And crunchy. This could be one of the best energy/glob/breakfast/snack/protein bars Iíve ever tasted.

PBH Toffee Chocolate Chip (4.5)
Wonderful.

PBH Strawberry Crunch (4.0)
Yes. Good. This really does have that nice little touch of strawberry. Crunch.

PBH Peanut Butter Chocolate (4.0)
Good.

PBH Cherry (3.5)
This refers to the original PB Harvest. Iím not sure if they are still making these same versions or if the recipe has changed over the years. But from earlier: ďLike a softened, puffed up granola bar. Like whipped instead of solid cream cheese.Ē Good on you. Good on yogurt

 

Power Bar Essentials (Hyperexpensive Candy Bars)

 

Fruit and yogurt
Well, it tastes like fruit and yogurt alright. But Iím not sure thatís what Iím thinking when I reach for a Power Bar.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate
Hell, why not?

Powerbar ProteinPLUS
helps build a lean body and provides sustained energy* ~300 cals
Softened up power bar with a thin coating of ďchocolate.Ē If youíre buying this because you really want the extra 50 calories then may I suggest you stop fooling around and just take steroids? I hear nowadays theyíve got some really good ones that arenít as harmful as they used to be (bad old days!) if youíre eating them because you actually enjoy eating energy bars, donít.

Powerbar ProteinPLUS Ė Chocolate Peanut Butter (3.0)
Hey. Itís still chocolate peanut butter. Even though the peanut butter flavor is too muted.

Powerbar ProteinPLUS Ė Cookies ní Cream (2.5)
Awkward. Clearly inferior to the Clif Cookies ní Cream. Not great.

 

 


Clif Bars



Spelled ďClif,Ē are pretty damn good. Especially with some kind of heavily advertised drinkable yogurt like a Dannon Frusion or Stoneyfield Farms. As for Zero G and Mega Delta Space Jam Pregnant Atkins Blowout Garage Mega Doo Nutrition Bar bla bla bla and all the other dumb energy bars out there. I donít care.

 

Chocolate Almond Fudge
My god yes.

Black Almond   Cherry

Um, yes.

Oatmeal Raisin Walnut
Yes.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch
Yes.

Mint Chocolate
Itís pretty strong on the mint, but not bad.

Chocolate Chip
Itís okay.

Carrot Cake, Cranberry Apple Cherry, Lemon Poppyseed, Apricot
Okay.

 


GoLean (Kashi)


 

Similar to Powerbar ProteinPLUS in terms of being a dense bar covered with a chocolate coating (290 cals). The difference though is that the GoLean bar has a more normal texture with a little more crunch (not like Power Bar Harvest, but more). Specific flavor concerns will be addressed below. These are all (4.0) and higher.  

 

GoLean (Kashi) Peanut Butter & Chocolate
Yes.

 

GoLean (Kashi) Oatmeal Raisin

More raisin than oatmeal going on here. Can hardly taste the oatmeal, in fact. But still, itís a perfectly good tasting bar.

 

GoLean (Kashi) Chocolate Almond Toffee

Pretty good. Reminds me of chocolate other one (I guess Iím talking about the one with peanut butter). Umm. Yeah.

 

GoLean (Kashi) Cookies & Cream

Yes.

 

GoLean (Kashi) Malted Chocolate Crisp

This is really goo.

 

            Caramel Peanut (3.0)

Caramel, and peanut, without chocolate? No.

 

GoLean Cunchies Chocolate Caramel

Itís really pretty good. Nice understated but present caramel flavor. These are crunchy like Power Bar Harvest only without that layer of chocolate (and 100 cals less to show not for it).

 

GoLean Cunchies Peanut Butter Bliss

Bliss.

 

GoLean Cunchies Peanut Butter

Bliss.

 

GoLean Chocolate Turtle Roll

 

ďÖa chewy chocolate center is surrounded by smooth caramel and then rolled in toasted pecans, crunchy soy crisps and whole grains.Ē

 

Itís true.

 

Chocolate Peanut Roll (4.5)

I might like this even better than the turtle. The soft core gives the impression of caramel anyway, and the chocolate/nougaty flavor seems more focused this way. (a chewy peanut butter center is surrounded by smooth chocolate and then rolled in roasted peanuts, crunchy soy crisps and whole grains)

 

8/07 Update/Warning: I just had a chocolate peanut roll today and for the second time in a row lately, it has seemed too dry. The outer toasted pecans just arenít meshing with the inner layer (roll). It just isnít working for me anymore. Maybe this will change again someday, but for now, for now, these are very troubling times.

 

8/07 Update/Good News: I just had another roll today and it was fine. Maybe earlier it was just a one time thing. I wonít kill myself today.

 


What about the other Energy Bars?


 

Luna Bars (3.0)
Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. I tried the Luna Bar called ďNutz Over Chocolate.Ē Itís basically a peanut butter and chocolate bar. Nowís thereís a new concept. Anyway, I donít see how this bar is any different than the Power Bar Essentials version of same, and therefore, should only exist to keep the prices of other energy bars in check. Where would we all be without healthy competition? Where would Nike be without good old healthyóoh, waitó

Odwalla Bars
Okay, these are pretty good too. I like the green one and anything with chocolate or peanut butter in it. Cranberry or Berries Go Mega or whatever are okay. The Super Protein one is pretty awful. Carrot is so so.

 

Odwalla Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip (now even chewier) (4.5)
Just when you thought Odwalla couldnít get any chewier. It did. Itís good. Itís the same. But this has always been a great Odwalla flavor.

 

Lara Bars (3.0)
One of a few gluten-free energy bars available. Theyíre a bit peculiar tasting, but if you have celiac, as I briefly thought I did, theyíll do. I will never again be insensitive about food allergies in others. Food unwillingness...now thatís something else...

The Zone Perfect ďFudge GrahamĒ (3.0)
Sort of like a Rice Krispy treat texture (itís light, airy), but with a fudge coating. Itís fine.

Bumblebar (original almond) (NR)
Wow. This is different alright. Not bad, but wow. First, its really thin, like wafer thin, like pressed together thin. Coated in sesame seeds. Itís odd. But its obviously very organic or at least seems so. I will have to try them a few more times before rendering a more nuanced view.
(2) Basically exactly what the ingredients say. Someone (Jon, Doug, Dan of the Bumblebar family) essentially pressed together all of those sees et al into the shape of a very thin bar. Sticky. So itís a little inconvenient if youíre on the go. Me, personally, Iím thinking Iím not quite a huge fan of one or some of the organic oils in this thing, but this could be subjective.
(3) Wait, okay. Never mind my PC-ness. Do not buy or try this bar unless you have a serious fetish for seeds or at least some strong beverage with which to chase it. Otherwise, you may be stuck with the unending aftertaste of ?flax oil, which is tantamount, basically, to living hell. I feel really bad about this because I think these people are sincere.

 

Bumblebar (original)
Same issues as above minus the almond.

Bumblebar (Chai)
Does not live up to its promise of chai. But the aftertaste leaves less of a black eye.

 

Gatorade Energy Bars Peanut Butter (2.0)
What an original concept. Peanut butterÖ

 

Gatorade Energy Bars Orange (1.5)
A Rice Krispy treat that went horribly wrong. Look, if it takes a company 6 yrs to catch on to the energy bar trend, I think itís safe to assume itís going to suck.

 

New Quaker Oats Breakfast Bars
Now this is great. Finally an energy bar that doesnít cost a buck fifty. Quaker Oats has just come out with its new line of what it calls Ďbreakfast bars.í Breakfast? Yeah. And lunch and dinner as far as this reviewer is concerned. Does it have ginko pachinko extract? No. Does it have high fructose corn syrup? Yes. Thatís high fructose. On the plus side, it tastes better than a power bar and costs less than a Rice Krispy treat. On the other hand, itís dense, mushy, and God if Iím not getting sick of all these breakfast bars. Box was hard to open. 2/03

 

Oatmeal (3.0)
This is a giant square oatmeal cookie. Cule.

Baked Apple (3.0)
Yes it is.

Cinnamon and Brown Sugar (3.0)
Whoa thatís a lot of cinnamon.

 

 


Waffles


 

Lifestream Flax Plus (4.5)

These actually taste the best. Even though they are a little flimsy in terms of textureóbits crumble off, they are thin, they come stuck together out of the box. Never mind all that. The fact is, these taste great. 100 cal/ea

 

Vanís Blueberry Waffles (4.0)

I may like these better than the Kashi. They have a nice full, wheaty flavor; a solid but not too tight textureói.e. puffy. I have to point out something, though, which is funny. They donít even bother to produce any blue round coloration instead opting for a sort of blueberry extract flavor. And I have to say Iím not entirely convinced at this point. 80 cal/ea.

 

Lifestream Buckwheat Wildberry (3.5)

Not a huge fan of this flavor, personally. Might be okay for others. I prefer the non-buckwheat variety of this product.

 

Kashi GoLean Blueberry Waffles (3.0)

Good. Perhaps more wholesome in texture than Eggoís. That said, the flavor may be a little too natural for me. Actually. 3 per box. Are they bigger? 85 cal/ea.

 

 

 


Popcorn!



Orville Redenbacherís (Smart Pop; 94% fat free) (4.0)
Okay, now here, we have much better popcorn taste. What I would have to describe as normal. But now that weíve got that down. Letís talk about my kitchen smelling like microwaved popcorn for 3 days. My lord. Thereís got to be a better way. Stovetop? Air-popping? Wow, thatís the big show, huh? My friend says no. Anyway, Orville definitely has the microwaving thing down. Very few unpopped kernels. Also comes in neat little half bags! So you can pop two half bags and have enough. ~240/bag

Healthy Pop (Jolly Time) (4.0)
No kidding. This is great stuff. Microwaves well. Okay, well enough. (To not burn, must accept a fair amount of unpopped kernels.) Tastes like normal popcorn. Listen, all I ask is that it not taste like something Mars delivered. And if I want butter, I can always add it. Just give me something to work with, and not against. Well. So far, this is the one. ~225/bag

Smart Balance (Light Butter) (3.0)
Flavor okay, but has a tiny bit too much disingenuous butter flavor for me. Again, give me simple, minimal butter. Then I can put more if I want, and if not, then not. But give me the choice. Not worth the calories at 360/bag

Newmanís Own Organic Popís Corn (2.5)
This may be less bad than Newmanís Own Organic Popís Corn. I donít know. All I can say is tonight, I seemed to tolerate it.

Newmanís Own Organic Popís Corn (2.0)
Itís not so much that this ďPopís CornĒ tastes bad, but rather than it doesnít taste good. It just doesnít taste good. And at 360 calories/bag, it just isnít worth it. A truly unimpressive effort.

Pop-Secret Popcorn (diet) (1.5)
Terrible. Just a weird, bad flavor. Doesnít taste like normal popcorn. Has a strange peculiar taste, which can only be described as not popcorn-like.

 

----- Original Message -----
From: Erin Casey
To: Pancetta
Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 10:49 PM
Subject: Re:

Okay sure... Wednesday? Would that work? I think I might have to work late so the eating bit might have to happen after the movie - but weíll see, work is ever changing.  

If you think Pop Secret is bad, try Act II.

 

 


Ice Cream


 

Many local varieties are often the best. But you worry about that. Iím here to tell you whatís good and wrong with national brands you can get anywhere.

 

Haagen-Dazs

Is usually a very reliable, high-quality brand. They do coffee flavor very well. And Iím sure others. Their version of pistachio is horrendous. Too many nuts, which go from too chewy to little wads of cardboard and finally just a sad memory. Stick to gelato, for your Mediterranean-based nuts.

 

Bluebell Ė Homemade Vanilla

Best ice cream in the country, is what their ads say. And theyíre pretty much right as far as Iím concerned. Of course, not ďeveryĒ flavor is great. Just as there are people in basements held captive by the criminally insane, there are the occasional ridiculous flavors that I never buy. But when it comes to vanilla, cookies-and-cream, mint chocolate chip, (fake) pistachio, coffee and other reasonable flavors, this is the best ice cream manufacturer Iíve ever come across. Haggen-Dazs coffee is competitive, but on most other flavors, Bluebell is the clear winner. Have you checked out my website? www.coldbacon.com Check it out!

 

Ben and Jerryís

The ice cream with the gay ass names. People all have their favorite flavors. I welcome anybodyís opinions as to what theirs are and why. But for now, I could care less about this brand.

 

Vosges

Makes some interesting flavors. Wattle seed is a very nice one.

 

Boulder Ice Cream Ė Super Premium Vanilla

Says ďproduced with milk from cows not treated with rBGH.Ē Well maybe they should be. Cuz this ice cream sucks. Horrible consistency (too globby). The flavor may or may not have been okay, but it doesnít matter. As the great philosopher Carrito once said, ďIce cream should not be like taffy.Ē

 

Talenti (Gelato)

Beautiful beautiful beautiful, beautiful plastic jar. Bad texture. I wonít bother testing other flavors. Because. Of the bad texture. Whole Foods can carry it all they want, but I ainít buyiní it.

 

 


Random Other Products


 

 

Breakfast Puffables

 

Mochi cubes (4.5)  

Real Japanese people have never heard of this (I mean). This is an American twist on their short, sweet brown rice. And itís delicious. Iíve enjoyed so far the cinnamon raisin version. The keys are 1) make sure you butter or grease the pan because they will stick big time 2) make sure you eat with good butter and sea salt (because otherwise they are bland; but with those accessories, it is sublime). That is all. (www.grainaissance.com)

 

Cured Meats (you can buy at stores)

 

Obviously itís best to buy important charcouterie from good delis and have it sliced off the bone. But since the reality for most of us is we donít live near any real gourmet delis, weíre left with what you can get at larger supermarkets. That means vacuum sealed and letís see if we can find stuff thatís worth the trouble.

 

 

Citterio Prosciutto di Parma (12 oz pack)  

This was as shocking to me as itís about to be to you, but Citterio has made perhaps the best vacuum-sealed prosciutto I have ever had. It really is good. And they put little paper inserts in between the slices too, which makes it easy to get singlets. Maybe I just got a lucky sample? I will try this again. We canít all live across the street from a good deli. So this is important.

 

 

Niman Ranch Salami (raised with care) 

Good. Medium flavor. Nothing special. But minimal sinew. Overall, fine, but nothing special really. Just have it on a Triscuit or something. (Crackers that do NOT work with this one include: Wasa light-rye.) (CA)

 

 

Columbus Salame Company (Dry Italian Salame)  

These are, at least the few times Iíve had them, not that bad. Pretty simple, plain, not-spicy, but not totally without flavor. The fact you can buy them in ďregularĒ grocery stores and not just ďthe ones I can no longer affordĒ is a plus. (CA) 8/08

 

 

Saucisson Superieur Salami

That dry salami you can get almost everywhere, is okay, until you have it next to some real imported salami, cut fresh. Wow. Then itís flavor seems quite lacking in intensity. And it also has a lot of unchewable sinew. ďResichew,Ē which you canít spit out if people are around. Unless youíre crafty. (Busseto Foods, Fresno, CA)

 

 

Applegate Farms Dry Cured Coppa

A disaster; not very good. Flavor par and way too sinewy. 50% of product inedible (you have to either swallow indigestible mass or discreetly spit out and dispose thereof). (Canada)

 

Naan

 

Fabulous Flats Ė Authentic Taste of India (4.0)

This Tandoori Naan can be purchased at Whole Foods Market (and probably elsewhere). To my huge surprise, and delight, itís actually not that bad. Try toasting it. And then eating it. With your mouth. (made in Canada)