Apple Cinnamon Pecan Energy Bar from Off The Farm Foods

Where to Buy:  Off The Farm Foods on Foodzie

Price:  $29.00 for a box of twelve 2-oz bars

Product Description:

Our well balanced addicting and flavorful bars are loaded with fruits, nuts and chia seeds that are naturally rich in antioxidants, fiber and heart healthy Omega 3’s.

Taster’s Review:

I can’t say that I’ve tasted a lot of “energy bars” because I haven’t.  I’ve tasted a few, but they have never been an item that I’ve shopped for, mostly because I don’t buy into the hype of an energy bar.  If I want energy, I eat a meal and don’t rely on the promises of an energy bar or drink.

Terrible photography, but I wanted to show the texture of the bar with all the nuts and seeds and big chunks of apple

Of those few that I have tasted, though, this one is definitely the tastiest.  It is soft and chewy, and loaded with lots of sweet and tart apple bits.  There is a little bit of crunch from the nuts and seeds and crisped rice.  And while there is a certain amount of sweetness to this bar (brown rice syrup and tapioca syrup), it doesn’t taste cloyingly sweet, and the tartness from the apple cuts through that sweetness a little bit, while the zippy flavor of cinnamon does it’s part in curbing some of the sweeter notes.

In one chewy, crispy, delicious bite, I taste sweet apple enhanced by the warm flavor of cinnamon, the crunch and nutty flavor of pecans and crisped brown rice, and then the tart apple flavor comes through.  It tastes fresh and it’s very substantial and satisfying.  This is really yummy!

While I still don’t buy into the hype of an energy bar, I could see myself buying these as a tasty, healthful snack for me and my family.  And while the price is a little prohibitive at $2.42 a bar, this is the first “bar” that we’ve been given in the tasting boxes that I could actually see myself purchasing despite the price.  I probably won’t, because I could just envision the look on my husband’s face if I were to order them.

My Final Thoughts:

These are incredibly tasty.  Do I feel more energized?  Well, not enough to go clean the garage or anything, but this little bar did manage to satiate my hunger pangs.  And … if you think about it, $2.42 is actually a pretty reasonable price for a meal replacement!  Yeah… that’s the ticket!

The Buffalo Gap Saloon & Eatery

I “discovered” The Buffalo Gap through Living Social.  After perusing their online menu I decided that this was a place I wanted to visit.  The atmosphere of this Saloon & Eatery is reminiscent of a tavern, with dark lighting and vintage signage serving as wall decor. 

Location:  6835 Macadam Avenue, Portland, OR

Buffalo Stroganoff

Order:  I ordered the “favorite” Buffalo Stroganoff ($13.99) and we took home one of Penny’s Gigantic Cinnamon Rolls ($4.99)

What I Think:

The Stroganoff came with a choice of soup or salad, and I chose a salad with bleu cheese dressing.  There really isn’t a whole lot to say about the salad.  It was a plate of greens topped with dressing.  The veggies were fresh and tasty.  I wish that I would have ordered the dressing on the side, because there was a little too much for my liking, but other than that, the salad was pretty ordinary:  nothing out of this world, but, certainly edible.

But, my rather ordinary impression of The Buffalo Gap changed when the main course was brought to the table.  WOW!  My mother made the most extraordinary beef stroganoff, and so I’m not easy to impress when it comes to stroganoff.  I may like a stroganoff, but, it takes a lot for me to think it WOW! … and this one has earned that exclamation.

A large bowl of tender cooked noodles topped with a creamy brown sauce and lots of chunks of buffalo and mushrooms, and a dollop of sour cream.  I am used to the sour cream being mixed right into the stroganoff sauce, so I was a little surprised to see just a dollop on top of the pile of food.  However, I must admit that I kind of liked being able to control the amount of sour cream that I could taste in each bite, as all too often too much sour cream is stirred into a stroganoff and it becomes rather overwhelming.

The buffalo meat was incredibly tender.  It seemed to melt in my mouth like butter!  The sauce was very flavorful.  It had a creamy consistency, and it was a bit tannic from the wine.  The sour cream balanced that out so that it didn’t become the main focus of the dish.

The mushrooms are perhaps the most important aspect of a stroganoff for me – maybe even more so than the meat.  I don’t like mushy or slimy mushrooms.  This can be easily avoided by not cutting the mushrooms too thin – and these mushrooms were quartered, making for a meaty kind of texture rather than mush.  Hooray for mushrooms done right!

The noodles were not extraordinary, in fact, I thought they were almost overcooked.  They weren’t mushy, but they weren’t al dente either.  I think that a minute less cook time would have given the noodles a much better taste and texture.  But, this didn’t detract from the rest of the dish, which was delicious and very filling.  I couldn’t finish my bowl, but the left0vers made a great lunch the next day.

The rosemary artisan bread was also delicious.  It had a pleasantly chewy texture and there wasn’t too much rosemary in it – just enough to add a savory element to the bread.  It was a perfect palate cleanser.

As for the cinnamon roll… this thing was indeed gigantic, and I’m glad we took it to go.  It was almost the size of a dinner plate!  It was deliciously sweet and cinnamon-y and to my surprise, it was not doughy or raw in the center.  (I figured a cinnamon roll that big was bound to be undercooked in the center)   It was almost shamefully sinful, though, which is why I am glad we took it to go.  I would not want to eat one of these in front of others!  Next time, I will order one of these sprinkled with bacon!

My Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed my visit to The Buffalo Gap Saloon & Eatery, and this is someplace I’d be willing to visit again sometime in the future, if for no other reason than to get one of those cinnamon rolls (or perhaps 2) to go.

Special thanks to my husband for taking the photo!

Buffalo Gap Saloon & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Organic Pumpkin Seeds from CB’s Nuts

Where to Buy:  CB’s Nuts on Foodzie

Price:  $22.50 for five 5-oz. packages

Product Description:

At CB’s Nuts, we feel it’s important to know where our food comes from, that’s why we cultivate relationships directly with the Oregon farmers who grow our organic pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seeds are brought to our roasting facility in Kingston, WA where they have a sea salt bath and are roasted to crunchy perfection in small batches. They are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including most of the B vitamins, C, D, E and K as well as magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron.

What I Think:

This was certainly an enjoyable addition to this month’s tasting box!

Usually, when I buy pumpkin seeds, I buy them from the bulk bin in my local grocery store.  I never really gave much thought about the pumpkin seeds, but I can say that there are some notable difference between these pumpkin seeds from CB’s Nuts and the seeds from the bulk bin.

Most notably, these are “cleaner” than the pumpkin seeds from the grocery.  Not to say those pumpkin seeds were “dirty” because they were not, but they weren’t cleaned from the pumpkin/squash fibers very well.  I always seemed to find bits of the squash still clinging to the seeds, and well, it’s kind of unappetizing.  These are free of “pumpkin debris” and that makes it much more enjoyable to just sit and snack on them.

Also, when I opened the package of these, they smelled like roasted nuts.  As if they were very freshly roasted.  My tummy growled in response – as if to say:  eat those now!

But what I seem to be enjoying most about them is that there is nothing particularly unusual about them.  They are pumpkin seeds that have been lightly roasted and salted with sea salt.  But it is in this simplicity that a sort of perfection has been acquired:  They are roasted just right and not too salty.  Just a very flavorful, delicious and healthy snack.

Sure, I appreciate that these were harvested in Oregon and then processed in Washington.  I like that this is a local product.  I appreciate that these are organically grown.  I like that I can taste the nutty sweetness of the pumpkin seed.  The salt is used here to highlight the flavor of the pumpkin seed rather than create a salty snack.

But what I like best is that these are simple … simply delicious.

My Final Thoughts: 

Delicious and tasty, these pumpkin seeds are a hit!  No more bulk bin pumpkin seeds for me!

Nagami Kumquat Blend Fruit Leather from La Vigne Organics

Where to Buy:  La Vigne Organics on Foodzie

Price:  $30. for a case of 24 Fruit Leathers

Product Description:

100% Organic Kumquat blend Fruit Leather. Made by hand from Organic Persimmons and Kumquats grown on our farm.

What I Think:

Tasty!

I’ve found many different fruit leathers in local grocery stores, but I don’t think I’ve ever found one made of Persimmons and Kumquats.

But that’s not all that makes this one stand above the rest.  Unlike some other fruit leathers that I’ve tried, this is soft.  Chewy, yes, but it isn’t “beef jerky” tough to bite into.  It has a pleasing texture that is chewy without being tough.

I haven’t had a kumquat in a long time – when I was young we lived near a condominium complex that had a kumquat tree and we would often walk down there and snatch one or two off of the tree.  Since that time, I’ve found them occasionally in the grocery store but they never looked appealing enough to me to inspire me to buy them.

The flavor is tart, but, there is enough sweetness to this to keep it from tasting too pucker-y sour (I’m not a big fan of sour).  This tastes very much the way I remember from the ripe, beautiful kumquats that I used to pick off that tree when I was a kid.   The persimmon flavor is less evident, but, I can taste the mild sweetness of the persimmon.  Mostly what I’m tasting is kumquat, and it is delicious and memorable – just like those kumquats from my childhood.

I also appreciate that these contain no added sugar, only the naturally occurring sugars from the fruit puree.   They’re 100% organic, vegan, and absolutely dee-lish!

My Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed these.  I don’t know that I enjoyed them enough to spend more than a dollar a piece for them (at $30 a case, the price per unit is $1.25) but, who knows?  Maybe by next week I’ll find myself craving them to the point where I break down and shell out the money for a case.  It really isn’t to terribly expensive, as the leathers are larger than the typical grocery store fruit leather, and it certainly tastes better than anything I’ve found in the local market.   Just wait, I’ll talk myself into these eventually!

Gravenstein Apple Juice from Nana Mae’s Organics

Where to Buy:  Nana Mae’s Organics on Foodzie

Price:  $28.00 for four 32-ounce bottles

Product Description:

With their distinctive harmony of sweet and tart, juicy and crisp, Nana Mae’s Grav. Juice suspends this short season for you. Treat yourself to this apple’s lovely flavor profile in a Spritzer or Marinade today.

What I Think:

I feel that I should start this review by stating that I’ve never (at least not to my knowledge) tried a Gravenstein apple.  On my last visit to Whole Foods, I looked for Gravenstein apples because I thought that we would be receiving a sampling of this juice in this month’s Foodzie Tasting Box, and I wanted to become acquainted with this mysterious apple.  And while the selection of apples this time of year at Whole Foods is vast, there were no Gravenstein apples.

So I shall have to review this juice without feeling very qualified to judge it on its merits as a juice from Gravenstein apples, and instead, judge it as an apple juice (and I have had several different varieties of apples in my life, my favorite is the Honeycrisp apple).

Wow!  TART!  But it is sweet too.  It starts out with a powerful punch of tartness, and eventually the wave of tartness subsides and a sweetness emerges, as if it had always been there, just waiting in the shadows of its rather strong counterpart.  It is an incredibly flavorful apple juice – certainly NOT that sickly sweet apple juice you can find in your local grocery store.

Having no prior experience with Gravenstein apples, I really had no idea of what to expect with this juice.  I really enjoyed what I tasted, but, as I am not a big fan of tartness, this is not a product I see myself purchasing in the future.  It was delicious, and I like that its only ingredient was apples – no sugar or sweeteners of any kind.  I like that it’s organic.  But I can’t help but wish it were a little less tart.

My Final Thoughts:

I am not that incredibly fond of tartness, I must confess.  Yes, I am enjoying this apple juice, but, I can’t see myself rushing out to buy this juice, nor can I see myself seeking out Gravenstein apples to try one now that I’ve tasted the juice.  I think I’ll stick with Honeycrisp.

Yippee! The October Foodzie Tasting Box Arrived!

I really wasn’t expecting this to arrive today.  I thought maybe tomorrow… but, hurray for the Postal Service, they were expedient and got my packaged delivered promptly!  Yippee!

This month’s theme is Fall Harvest.  And what a bountiful harvest it is!  Inside the box, there are samplings of Gravenstein Apple Juice from Nana Mae’s Organics, Sea Salted Pumpkin Seeds from CB’s Nuts, Persimmon & Kumquat Fruit Leather from La Vigne Organics, Maple Syrup from Ben’s Sugar Shack, Pumpkin Spice Caramels from AvenueSweets, and an Apple Cinnamon Bar from Off The Farm Foods.

Yummy!  I’m especially excited that I’ve not yet tried any of these items, each will be an adventure.

The card insert (no longer a map card!) was also enclosed.  On the card, Emily (Chief Eater) and Rob (CEO of Foodzie) talk a little bit about this month’s theme:

Before Rob and I started Foodzie, I had spent my entire life on the East Coast, most of it in Maryland, where there were for distinct seasons.  Fall was always my favorite [my favorite, too, Emily!] Three years later, I’m now happily living in San Francisco.  If you’ve never been here, the weather is sorta crazy; it’s cold in July, and the weather hovers around 55 – 60° all year long.  So I’ve stopped thinking about the seasons as something defined by weather, and focus more on each season as how it’s defined by food.  As October nears, I’m craving pumpkin, apples, spices, caramel and persimmons, and so of course that’s what we’ve packed inside your Tasting Box this month.  I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you Emily and Rob!  I think I will enjoy it, and I think I will start digging in… NOW!

Raw Tupelo Honey from HoneyPax

Where to Buy:  HoneyPax on Foodzie

Price:  $11.00 for a box of ten packets (10 ml each)

Product Description:

Enjoy pure, raw honey anytime, anywhere! You’ve never enjoyed honey like this before. Smartly packaged in a 10ml environmentally-friendly packet, HoneyPax is a perfect way to experience the incredible taste of pure Tupelo honey wherever life takes you. On the trail, in meeting, at the gym or dinner party, its true gourmet goodness on the go.

What I Think:

For many years now, my preference when it comes to honey has been raw honey.  I don’t really use honey much except that I will occasionally drizzle it in a cup of tea, so I never gave much thought to the type of tea I would purchase, so long as it was raw honey (and preferably locally harvested), I was good with that.

I had never had the opportunity to try Tupelo honey until it arrived in the Foodzie September Tasting Box.  And, now that I have tasted it, I realize just what it is that I’ve been missing!  WOW!

Sure, it’s honey.  It’s sweet, it’s sticky, and it tastes like honey.  But, there is a lot more to it than just “honey flavor.”  There are subtle nuances to consider.  I can taste notes of jasmine, my favorite floral flavor.  There is a light, fruity flavor that adds a little bit of tangy taste to the honey.  It truly is the best honey I’ve ever tasted.

And I like these honey packets from HoneyPax.  They are easy to open, hold just the right amount of honey for toast or biscuits (I tasted my sample on 8-grain toasted bread).  They are much neater and easier to use.  I appreciate that they are packaged “environmentally friendly.”   And, I like that they are imprinted with a special code on them to tell you just where your honey was harvested!  Coolness!

On the down side, it is rather expensive.  And because of all the amazing flavor in this honey, I would most likely not use it in my tea because I feel that the flavor of the tea would overpower the flavor of the honey… and that would be quite a waste.  Not to mention the fact that since my first love is with tea, I would not want something that might interfere with the flavors of my tea, so I prefer a more neutral flavored sweetener when I sweeten my tea.  And I don’t really use honey except for the times when I do want to sweeten my tea … so I really don’t think that this honey would become a permanent part of my pantry.

My Final Thoughts:

Absolutely delicious.  I am really happy I had the opportunity to try it, even though I don’t think it is something I’d buy regularly, it certainly was a nice treat.

Snicker Dudes from Liz Lovely

Where to Buy:  Liz Lovely on Foodzie

Price:  $3.99 for a two cookie package (these cookies are ENORMOUS, folks!)

Product Description:

Spicy, sweet & delicious… like a cinnamon pillow from heaven. Each one is hand-rolled in cinnamon & sugar then baked until it cracks a little around the edges.

What I Think:

I have tried several different cookies from Liz Lovely, including the Chocolate Moose Dragons, Macaroonies, and my favorite Ginger Snapdragons.  So I was happy to find that Liz Lovely was included in the Tea Time Foodzie Tasting Box.

This time around, I’m trying the Snicker Dudes, which appears to be Liz Lovely’s take on the classic snickerdoodle – a cookie that brings me back to my childhood days, as it seemed that it was one of my stepmother’s favorite cookies to bake.  But, she never baked ‘em this good!

The first thing I notice about these cookies is that they smell incredible.  Very cinnamon-y.  And no wonder, they’re well coated with cinnamon.  The cinnamon is sweet yet spicy to the nose as well as the palate.

When I bite into these, they’re so soft!  Like fresh-from-the-oven soft.  They aren’t warm, of course, but, otherwise, they capture that feeling of freshly baked cookies.  The cinnamon is not a hot-spicy cinnamon, but rather a warm, autumnal cinnamon taste, which worked well with the cookie itself, which had an almost raw cookie dough kind of taste to it.  (And what’s the best part of baking cookies?  Eating the cookie dough, of course!)

One thing that is important to note:  these are sugary sweet.  Even with the cinnamon cutting through some of the sweetness, these are sweeter than I recall the other three cookies that I’ve tried from Liz Lovely.  As I have a sweet-tooth, I am not really complaining about it, but they are incredibly sweet.  So much so that I can only eat one of these cookies at a time, and after that cookie, I felt I should have stopped at a half a cookie. I still enjoyed what I ate, and at least this does give me a chance to enjoy the other cookie later.

As I ate the cookie, what these reminded me most of was my gramma’s strawberry shortcake … well, the shortcake part of it, anyway.  They were sweet and buttery and delicious, and I can imagine topping these cookies generously with strawberries … YUM!

As for pairing with tea, I would recommend something strong and straightforward, like this Khongea Golden Tips Second Flush Assam from KTeas.  Or if you prefer to accent the spicy notes of the cinnamon, try this Yunnan Golden Buds from Verdant Tea.  Something strong and bold to help counter the sugary sweetness of the cookie, while still being able to enjoy its yummy, almost-cookie-dough-like flavor.

My Final Thoughts:

Of the different foods I’ve tried from Foodzie, I have to say that Liz Lovely stands out as being the best bang for the buck.  I find these cookies to be not only affordable, but delicious.  They have that “fresh from the oven” taste and softness (all that’s lacking is the temperature!)  A tad on the sweet side, and close to being too sweet … but my sweet-tooth must interject here and state emphatically that it approves of this cookie!