Monday, October 31, 2005

Virgin Vines

There’s rich guys whose only goal is to get richer, and then there’s Richard Branson, a rich guy interested in something other than making more $. Virgin Megastore, Virgin-Atlantic Airlines, it all seems innovative and value-adding to consumers. So now wine, too: Virgin Vines, finally available at yr local boozery, officially aimed at young folk or those who find wine pretentious. There’s shiraz & chardonnay, red & white, $9.99/bottle or $8.99/4-pk of small plastic bottles. And instedda corks, these have cool screw tops you open w/ a pull tab.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Ben&Jerry’s In a Crunch

It’s w/ dread that this item about Ben & Jerry’s In a Crunch ice cream gets posted. I mean, right on to B&J for finally intro’ing a new ice cream; it’s been a while. And this one sounds intriguing: "PB ice cream, fudge-covered peanuts, crispy fudge swirl" (sorry, no personal testimony, but jeez, it’s 350 cals-per-serving and horror of horrors, it wasn’t on sale). Peanut butter = trending up as an ice cream flavor, so you might think "hey, what's the problem". But hello, B&J already has 2 other PB flavors: Peanut Butter Cups and Chubby Hubby, an awesome contrast of fudge-cov’d pb-filled pretzels in vanilla MALT ice cream w/ pb & fudge swirls. Can one company sustain three PB ice creams? Will the clearly superior Chubby Hubby take a fall?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hershey's Mocha Almond

That Hershey will eventually do a permanent coffee-themed choc bar seems inevitable. It keeps dabbling w/ the flavor in ltd editions (all lovingly documented on NYCE): The revered coffee Kit Kat, the luscious Hershey’s caramel cappuccino bar, and this, Hershey’s mocha almond, a coffee-flavored choc bar w/ chopped almonds. Like its mocha-esque peers, this has a potent long-lingering coffee flavor. Meanwhile, hey look, factoids: In 2004, nearly 1,000 new candy items were intro'd - 20% of all new food prods, sez the Natl Confectioners Assoc. These all moved from the jrs to the big-leagues: Reese's Big Cup, Reese’s white choc, white choc kit kat, Snickers almond, and most recently M&M Mega peanuts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Tea keeps threatening to become the next you-know-what ... dream on. But tea-rooms, tea-houses, tea-whatevers are nonetheless sweet, innocuous places that sometimes also serve coffee. So: a new chain, Teavana, is about to open at the Galleria. It’ll serve tea, teapots from all over the world, sushi gear, books, music, but it’s also a tea bar, so you can sit down and have a cup. (NOT "cuppa"! That's so annoying.) Based in Atlanta, Teavana has 15 stores in GA, calif, fla, boston, chic, & minneapolis w/ another dozen on the way. In other tea news, Tempest, the home-grown tea-er on Lovers, is opening a 2nd branch in jan on mckinney & pearl in the glitzy uptown district.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Wonka Donutz bar

That Choc Factory movie came out mths ago, so obviously this Wonka Donutz bar isn’t brand new. But it hasn’t been universally available (IE, not at my local store). It's donutty in shape only - not a baked good - but a circle of choc w/ subtle crust & slightly softer fudge ctr. Admittedly, it looks shlocky w/ the sprinkles & stuff, and ok, it’s made for kids. But the quality's not bad, all choc, none of that dreaded palm kernel oil, tho in the end, it is just a Nestle product and, oddly, made in brazil

Monday, October 24, 2005

Kit Kat extra crispy

They’re calling this Kit Kat extra crispy but honey it ain't all that extra crispy. More crisp, yes maybe, but extra choc too. To put it scientifically, the wafer:choc ratio doesn’t differ much from regular KK. It's one big oversized stick instedda the 4-plex you get w/ a regular KK. Formerly a ltd edition (and was it not called "extra thick" back then?), this so-called extra crispy got promoted to permanent status. Methinks better candidates mighta been KK mint or KK coffee; but the biggest disappointment, Kit-Kat-wise, is the fact that it contains a big dose of evil palm kernel oil, highly saturated-&-bad-4-U.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tapioca House & Boba Tea

Bubble tea still hasn’t hit Dallas, but if you live 15 miles N, you're lookin at 2 new bubbleterias TK in Nov: 1. Boba Tea, next to (and from the owners of) new sushi spot Café Japon 2. Tapioca House, in the Asian shopp ctr on Greenville in richardson. Boba Tea focuses primarily on drinks. Tapioca House, a raved-about chain outa Houston w/ a branch in Austin, does more: smoothies + Taiwanese meals & snacks. Stating the obvious: Bubble drinks, which for at least 5 yrs have been called "the next Starbucks", originated in Taiwan 20 yrs ago and are made w/ tea, coffee, or fruit drink, ice, & chewy tapioca balls aka pearls aka bubbles. That strip of Greenville is bubble heaven, w/ Boba Latte @ Greenville & Main and some old-school places whose names I can't recall

Tapioca House 400 N. Greenville Ave. richardson 972-437-3065
Boba Tea 4933 Belt Line Rd. addison no # yet

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hershey’s Caramel Cappuccino

Atoning for decades of stodginess, Hershey’s has been releasing new prods w/ a vengeance. None very tasty, but intriguing nonetheless if you're obsessed w/ new. One kinda-new line of bars has four perforated squares filled w/ sweet goo (most of which have been too 1-D to write about, i.e. "Double Choc" w/ zzz plain choc goo). The exception: Hershey’s Caramel Cappuccino bar. Four squares, yes. Filled w/ goo, yes. But delicious COFFEE-flavored goo. Not only duzzit support one of the foundations of NYCE, but the coffee flavor's potent & complex, almost as good as the legendary Coffee Kit Kat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pillsbury Kemp's ice cream bars

1+1=2: Pillsbury wanted to extend its reach (beyond refrig pie crusts biscuits dinner rolls frozen pancakes waffles toaster strudels cookie dough breadsticks etc.) and Kemp wanted to establish a presence outside its hometown Minneapolis. In January, the duo intro’d co-branded ice creams. Now, a line of novelties: choc chip cookie dough bar, cookiewich (like an ice cream sandwich), and ice cream brownie bar, a layer of brownie glued next to a rectangle of ice cream. Frozen novelty confections are said to be the big growth area in ice cream. These looked good, but one bar = 370 calories.

points to the pillsbury/kemp publicist for sending this great jpeg in about 10 seconds flat

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Reese's pieces w/ nuts

Dispensing right up front w/ the inherent weaknesses in this "new" product: 1. was first intro’d a YEAR ago (can you see the orange clearance price sticker? "was .49, now .34") 2. might seem similar to other Reesey* items covered here previously. To #1, the pipeline lag time is often long. #2, even if not brand new, these are still cool cuz they’re like a PB version of M&M peanuts. Good for those who feel like a nut & for health nuts who view a peanut in candy as some sort of nutritional salvation. A more recent, related product is the mega-M&M line, covered by other foodie blogs.

*Reeses Peanut Butter Cups named for man who created them in 1928

Monday, October 17, 2005

Cafe Japon

While not as fervent or fecund as other cults (such as those who go nuts for BBQ), sushi has its followers, and they’re the ones who'll care most deeply about Café Japon, a new spot in restaurant-crazed Addison. Café Japon (no relation to the more recently spawned, some might say derivative, Japon Steakhouse & Sushi) comes from Houston, where it has 3 branches & lotsa raves for being good + affordable from grass-roots diner food sites. For further validation: Japon supplies sushi to Rice Univ as well as the Eatzi’s-like Rice Epicurean Mkt.

4933 Beltline Road (near tollway) 469-374-9928

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Choxie: Target chocolates

New at Target: Choxie collection, its own line of high-end chocolates w/ truffles, bites, barks, mint malt balls, & choc bars infused w/ flavors such as chipotle chili. In confections (& perfume), packaging is paramount; Target gets an A for its arresting dotted boxes in yellows, oranges, & reds. The choc's flawless, esp the ones printed w/ geometric patterns a la MarieBelle. Is MarieBelle secretly making them, maybe? All the publicist will say izzat T worked w/ "top artisan & boutique choc producers". (she’s no fun!) Look for them in every newspaper’s holiday gift roundup; they’re "affordable" too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

QT capps & lattes

QT, for those outside the realm, is one of two chains in the south that sells cheap gas. Well they just got wind of this Starbucks deal and are jumping on this nutty-crazy cappuccino thing. To wit: "For decades, cappuccino was sipped by high-brow types in outdoor cafes in Italian resorts along the Mediterranean. Not any more. QuikTrip discovered the secret of cappuccino and made it available to the real people of the world. The thick, frothy, steaming cup of QuikTrip Cappuccino has become the drink of choice of millions of normal folks." Ah but like so many "normal folk", QT equates cappuccino w/ gross FLAVORS, so their "cappuccino" = French Vanilla, Almond Amaretto, Dulce De Leche, Chai, Toffee, & Fat Free French Vanilla. (You knew that was coming.) The ONLY interesting aspect: They have a "flavor center" where you can "roll your own" i.e., squirt in your own crappy syrups & "creamers".

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Jones Soda Halloween flavors

Soda is soda, not much else to it other than marketing. Jones soda, the Canada-spawned indie, does mktg supreme: unusual flavors, special editions, fancy labels, whatnot (like the thxgiving-dinner holiday pack they did last yr). Now, for Halloween, a new quartet: caramel apple, candy corn, scary berry lemonade, and strawberry slime. Lemonade, strawb, sorta old-hat; but hey hey hey to caramel apple (cinnamony, ya spose?) & candy corn (said to be "butterscotchy"). They come in cute 8-oz cans & are sold only at Target.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sonic ciabatta samwich

Hnh. Tell me if this new item from Sonic gives you a familiar feeling. "For a unique taste w/ a little Italian flair, try the new Tuscan grilled chicken sandwich. Tender chicken breast w/ asiago cheese, lettuce&tomato, and pesto mayo served on our new toasted ciabatta bread. ONLY at Sonic." OK, Sonic is a half-decent fast-food place. And ciabatta is def a major step up from gross-out "regional specialties" such as Texas toast. So, all good there. But hmm, haven’t we seen this ciabatta thing somewhere else already?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

breyers banana bananza

Ordinarily, the words "new ice cream flavor" would provoke glee. But Breyers’ mix-in line - All That & Caramel, Brownie Mud Pie, Peanut Butter Tracks - don't they all reek been there done that? The latest is theft, plain&simple: Banana Bananza (banana ice cream-fudge swirls-&-chunks), which 1. copies Ben & Jerry’s chunky monkey 2. lifts its name from a now-dead sibling, the Good Humor Banana Bananza Fudgsicle, discontinued by Good Humor-Breyers parent org, CoolBrands. Banana ice cream is usually ok but some experts say this tastes & smells "fake".

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale

Despite appearances to the contrary, this is not pumpkin week. Rather, it’s a case of someone having forgotten to include this in yesterday’s entry. As well as a desire to seize the day w/ respect to the season. Not to mention a genuine admiration for pumpkin, even if manufacturers do tragically misuse it as a flavor concept. And so it is: Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale, of note mostly cuz it comes not from a more-predictable beer boutique but from big-gun Michelob (who suggests serving it w/ turkey or as a dessert beer. gee thanks). It’s the 1st of a new seasonal beer program by mich which means we’ll soon be reading about a Xmas beer. It comes on tap or bottled; subsequent releases will be on tap only.

props to kirk for first pumpkin beer mention!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pumpkin: limited editions

If you like to follow food trends (and who doesn't), then limited editions & seasonal flavors are grist for your mill. Take pumpkin, currently starring in Starbucks’ pumpkin-flavored latte and Jack in the Box’ pumpkin pie shake, both back for limited runs. Pumpkin = fall. Very now. But what exactly is pumpkin flavor? Does Starbucks’ pumpkin-flavored latte actually taste like squash? Not really. JITB at least tells it like it is by adding the word PIE. But why not just ID it as "cinnamon-nutmeg"?