Maple Fudge from Laura Secord

maplefudge

Photo from Love With Food.
Click on the pic to go there.

Product Information:

If Willie Wonka had a Canadian Cousin who was not only obsessed with making delicious candy, but luxurious and premium chocolate as well then Laura Secord would be her name. This delicious fudge is made with authentic maple syrup from the spacious Canadian hillside. Enjoy!

I received a chunk of this Maple Fudge in my November Love with Food box!

Tea Suggestion:

I wanted a deep, rich black tea to enjoy with this maple fudge, so I chose this Kaporet Kenya Black Tea from Single Origin Teas to drink while enjoying this amazing confection.  The combination of the robust tea with the decadent fudge was sublime!  The sweet fudge brought out some of the fruit-y nuances of the tea and made this tea taste even better (and it was pretty amazing to begin with!)

What I Think:

YUM!  Maple is definitely one of my favorite fall flavors.  One of the things that I look forward to when fall comes is the maple sugar candy that I find in Whole Foods.  However, I think I may have found a new favorite fall candy.  This Maple Fudge is outstanding.  It’s so maple-y sweet and decadent.  The texture is soft and smooth.

But here’s the thing when it comes to candy like fudge:  it becomes cloying very quickly.  Yes, I have a sweet tooth, but, even when my sweet tooth is in overdrive, I can only handle so much fudge until I start to feel that sickly feeling like I’ve had too much.  And let’s face it … fudge is so tasty that it’s sometimes hard to find that fine line from I’ve had just enough to I’ve had too much!

So I like that these individually wrapped pieces of fudge are just the right size.  One piece of fudge (or even a half a piece!) is enough to satisfy the sweet tooth.  I don’t have to “cut myself off” because there is a limit in the packaging.  And because each piece is individually wrapped, I don’t have to worry about the fudge going stale.  I like that!

My Final Thoughts:

A really delicious candy.  I like that they are individually wrapped, and the size is just right.  The taste and texture is fresh and soft and very enjoyable – much more so than the typical chunk of fudge.  This is so good!  So decadent!

My November Love with Food Box has arrived!

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Yay!  It’s always a happy time when I receive a treasure in mailbox, and this month’s Love with Food box certainly qualifies as a treasure!  This is a seriously awesome box!

This month’s box had NINE treats in it, plus a bunch of coupons, including a coupon for a gift subscription to Love with Food.  I’m thinking I might treat my oldest daughter to a subscription.  In addition, I also received a $1. off coupon toward a Green & Black Organic Chocolate bar (yum, chocolate!) and there’s even a recipe card from Chef Ryan Scott (who curated this box).  The recipe is for green olive tapenade, which I will definitely try.

???????????????????????????????Anyway … on to the yummy goodies in this month’s box.  There’s a bag of Tuxedo Popcorn from Kukuruza, a bag of Sweet Potato Popchips, a sample of Rosemary and Pink Sea Salt Shortbread Cookies from Dancing Deer Baking Co., an Almond Apricot and Yoghurt bar from Eat Natural, a bag of Sweet Corn Crunch Snack from Sensible Foods, Ginger Twist Tea from Mighty Leaf (Yes TEA!), Maple Fudge from Laura Secord, a small organic dark chocolate bar from Green & Black, and Indian Spices from Arora Creations.

Wow!  This may be the most plentiful box that I’ve received from Love with Food yet!  And what’s more, I haven’t tried any of these things … including the tea!  I’m excited to start digging in!

My August Knoshbox … Hey … I’m caught up with my boxes!

My August Knoshbox arrived on the 26th of August … which is about the time of the month that I receive the Knoshboxes (sometime between the 20th and the 30th of each month … except for February because … there’s only 28 days in February!)  I was a little concerned when I received it because the box was dented up and there is a sticker on it that says “glass” so … I was a little worried that I’d have something broken in my box.

???????????????????????????????Fortunately, this wasn’t the case.  The “glass” that the sticker referred to was a jar of honey with the honeycomb.  Mmm!  The “theme” of this box … even though it isn’t really mentioned on the card insert … seems to be items you might find at a County Fair!  Or at least … that’s what the items in the box seem to be saying to me.

There are a couple of familiar items, including Cherry Vanilla flavored Cotton Candy from Spun City and Maple Kettle Korn from Bureau’s Sugarhouse.   I’ve tried and reviewed both of these items previously (to check out the reviews, just click on the item), so I won’t be writing reviews for them again.  But I certainly will be enjoying them again because these are seriously yummy treats!

The item I’m most excited about is the Salt Water Taffy from Salty Road.  You may recall that I previously reviewed the Salty Peanut flavor of Taffy from this company and I absolutely loved it.  The flavor I was absolutely DYING to try from this company is Bergamot … and guess what’s in this month’s Knoshbox!  Yes!  Bergamot Taffy from Salty Road!  Yay!  Just another reason why I love Knoshbox more than all the other boxes out there.

Two other items round out this month’s box:  a package of sundried, sweetened cherries from All Good Provisions and the aforementioned jar of honey from Full Bloom Apiaries.

So, even though this box has a couple of repeats … they are repeats of previously sampled favorites, so I’m not complaining.  I love my Knoshbox this month!

Baconery Sampler Pack, Part 2

In my last article about the Baconery Sampler Pack, I talked about the cookies that were in the sampler pack.  Now, I’m going to talk about the “Rest” … the other items that were in the sampler pack:  The  Bacon Brownie, the Maple Bacon Blondie, and the Bacon Marshmallow Bars.

baconery

Click on the logo to go to baconery.com

What I Think:

Of these three remaining goodies in the Baconery Sampler Pack, my favorite of the three is definitely the maple bacon blondie, and I can’t tell you how much it pains me – as a chocoholic – to say that.   It almost feels blasphemous.  But, somehow, this dense treat captured the flavor of the bacon perfectly.  I could taste the maple and the salty bacon.  This blondie makes the whole sampler pack worthwhile!  If I ever DO become a repeat customer of the Baconery, the Maple Bacon Blondie is the first thing going into my cart!

The Bacon Brownie was more chocolate-y fudge Brownie than it was bacon.  Every other bite or so, I’d discover some bacon, and it added a chewy texture and certainly some bacon-y taste to the bite, but again, I find myself wanting more from something called “Bacon Brownie.”  Even though I’d get some of that chewy texture, I didn’t get a strong bacon flavor along with it.  I do really like it when I find the bacon, and I love the flavor it adds to the brownie.  I’m just wishing there was more of the bacon flavor.

On the plus side, these brownies are fairly decent sized – they look as though they baked in their own, small individual pan and I like that because it means more of those slightly crispy edges.  The brownies are nice and fudge-y in the middle, but not the dense, moist kind of fudge-y… more like a moist, fudge-y cake-like brownie.  The same is true of the blondies, these were baked in the same, small, individual pan.

The marshmallow treats were more of a chocolate-y marshmallow treat, and less of a bacon-y one.  Sure, it was delicious, but, I think that the flavor of the bacon got a little lost amid the flavor of the marshmallow and the rice cereal and the chocolate.  These three flavors reigned which left very little room for the bacon flavor to shine through.  Again, a tasty treat, but this isn’t going to be one that I’d be willing to pay the hefty price of shipping that Baconery charges to get more.

My Final Thoughts:

I think that my experiences with the ‘rest’ of the Sampler Pack were better than with the cookies, if for no other reason than the fact that these treats tasted fresher than the cookies did, and I absolutely loved the Maple Bacon Blondie.  My favorite treat of them all, and probably redeemed the Sampler Pack somewhat to me.  Next time (if there is a next time!) I will forgo the Sampler all together in favor of a six pack of the blondies.  And I must admit, I am a wee bit tempted by the Bacon Pecan Pie.  Does that sound amazing or what?

Vermont Maple & Sea Salt Microwave Popcorn from Quinn Popcorn

quinnpopcorn

Photo from Quinn Popcorn.
Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

Subtle, sweet, salty, and slightly addictive, our Vermont Maple & Sea Salt is a little like kettle corn excpet with the smooth sweetness of maple.

Like all of our popcorn, we never use GMO crops, coatings or chemicals on the bag, or any other scary stuff! This is truly microwave popcorn reinvented.

Learn more about Quinn Popcorn on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

I generally like iced tea with popcorn, because I like something I can drink easily (not so hot that I need to blow on it to cool the surface!) to help tone down the saltiness as it builds on my palate.  I wanted something crisp and clean, something that wouldn’t interfere with the yummy flavors of the popcorn.  I chose to chill some Dragon Well Tea from Foxfire Teas, and it was just perfect.  The tea was sweet and mild, slightly vegetative, and allowed the flavors of Maple from the popcorn to really shine through.  Yummy!

What I Think:

This review is LONG overdue.  I received this popcorn in my Earth Day Foodzie box (yes, that’s right, back in April), and I did eat one bag of the popcorn back in April.  It was so good, and impressed me so much, but the flavor was so distinctly autumnal, I decided to save the second bag of microwave popcorn for an evening later in the year, when the maple flavor would be something I really savored.

This popcorn reminds me a little bit of the original Orville Redenbacher’s flavored microwave popcorn varieties that were released a few decades ago … back when the cheese powder or the caramel were packaged separately from the popcorn, and you’d first pop the popcorn and then add the caramel or cheese powder.  Not in flavor or quality, mind you, because this is infinitely better than anything I’ve ever tasted from Orville Redenbacher’s, but because the flavoring comes in a separate pouch and you sprinkle it on yourself after the popcorn has been popped.

But that’s where the similarities end.  First of all, unlike the microwave popcorn that you buy in the grocery store, this is not all caked onto the center portion of the bag, because there is no oil or whatever that congealed gunk is in the microwave popcorn bag.  The popcorn in this compostable, chemical-free bag is loose, freely roaming in the popcorn bag, not stuck together in some weird goop.

After the popcorn has been popped, you open the bag, and pour in the package of canola oil.  According to this, the oil used is supposed to be good for you, or at least better for you than aforementioned caked gunk that is in the other microwave popcorn bags, and I’m inclined to believe it.  I don’t know why I believe it, I just do.  congealed goop versus clear, pourable, expeller pressed canola oil.

This canola oil doesn’t really impart a lot of flavor, but it does keep the powdered flavor of maple sugar and grey sea salt on the popped corn kernels.  I like that these flavor pouches come separately, and I can choose how much of each ingredient I want in my popcorn.  I used half the pouch of the oil, and I still very much enjoyed the popcorn.  This did result in some of the maple and salt ending up loose, in the bottom of my bowl rather than stuck to popcorn, but I didn’t really seem to mind as the bowl of popcorn vanished in record time.

The popcorn – underneath the flavored sugar and salt, underneath the canola oil – is the key to what makes this popcorn so much better than any popcorn that had been popped in a microwave.  It is light and fluffy.  Tender yet crispy.  The hulls are thinner and not as hard as some other microwave popcorn.  Even without the flavoring, this is easily the best microwave popcorn I’ve ever had.

But the flavoring!  Oh wow!  Maple sugar and grey sea salt.  Do I need to say more?   This is the best kettle corn ever!  This flavor of popcorn could easily be a vegetarian’s substitute for bacon.  All that’s missing is a little bit of smoke, which could easily be supplied by tea if you choose a Lapsang Souchong like the one I mentioned above.

My Final Thoughts:

I requested an air popper for Christmas, because I do prefer air popped popcorn.  I like the option to serve popcorn without any additives (although occasionally, I’m sure I’m going to melt some butter and have a little sea salt on it), but, for the times when I want flavored popcorn, I’m probably going to order some Quinn’s Popcorn online.  I want to try the other flavors too!   This stuff is outstanding!  My one complaint:  I wish there were fewer unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl.  Other than that, this popcorn is without fault!

Medium Amber Syrup from Crown Maple Syrup

Product Description:

Aromas bring to mind the sights and smells of late fall and early winter. Our Medium Amber organic maple syrup has aromas of gingerbread and roasted chestnut. Flavors of rye, toffee, freshly roasted and ground coffee.

Learn more about Crown Maple Syrup on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

I recommend adding this syrup to your next cup of Chai!  I added it to the Original Masala Chai from Yogic Chai in lieu of honey or sugar, and it added a really interesting dimension to the cup.

What I Think:

For the purposes of this review, I whipped up a batch of Hazelnut Pancakes.  I love the way this syrup accents the rich, nutty flavor of the pancakes.

The flavor of this syrup is rich and complex.  It has a warm taste to it, like the warm flavors that I crave during the autumn months.

It is sweet, of course, but, I find it to be a pleasant sweetness that is complemented by its warm, toasty, nutty background of flavors.  I taste maple … but I taste so much more with this syrup.  It’s quite remarkable; a very memorable maple syrup.

My Final Thoughts:

Very good maple syrup; one of the best that I’ve tried.  I love the complexity of it.  It makes a wonderful pancake topper, and it’s also quite nice on biscuits.

Maple Syrup from Ben’s Sugar Shack

I held off on writing this review because I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach it.  First of all, in our October Tasting Box, we received two little bottles of maple syrup:  one Grade A Medium Amber and one Grade B.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write two separate reviews for the syrup, or if I wanted to do one comprehensive review that included a taste comparison between Grade A and Grade B. 

Once I decided to write one comprehensive review (this review), I then contemplated how to approach the taste test.  I didn’t want to test it out on pancakes or something, because, quite honestly, while making pancakes is a simple process, it is a lot of preparation for a taste test.  I ultimately decided to do the taste test on toasted 8-grain bread and also to add just a little syrup to a sampling of Grand Tea’s Premium White Peony Tea (which I was reviewing separately, but was interested to find out how maple syrup tasted with it). 

Anyway… here goes!

Where to Buy:  Ben’s Sugar Shack on Foodzie

Price:  $19.99 for a 16-ounce jug of Syrup (your choice:  Grade A or Grade B)

About Ben’s Sugar Shack:

My passion for making maple syrup started when I was 5 years old. The first year I made less than a gallon of syrup. Ten years later, at age 15, I won the Maple Producers Carlisle Trophy for the best syrup in New Hampshire. Now, at age 21, I have two sugar houses, a variety of maple products, and am still expanding my business. I hope you enjoy my maple syrup!

What I Think:

So, by now, you may be wondering, just what is the difference between Grade A and Grade B.  Well, it really doesn’t have anything to do with purity or one being “better” than the other.  They do taste different, and I’ll get to that in a moment, but the real difference between the two grades is the time of year that it is harvested.  Grade A maple syrup is harvested earlier in the year than Grade B.

But after opening each of these cute little bottles that I received in the October Tasting Box, I noticed a couple of other differences.  First of all, there is a slight difference in color.  The Grade B is very slightly darker.  It is very slight, though, and something that you might not notice unless you held it up to the light.  Second, the Grade A had more crystallized sugar formed at the rim of the bottle.  I don’t know why that is.

But what really counts is how they taste, right?

Both syrups are obviously sweet and maple-y.  The Grade A had more of a sugary kind of taste to it, perhaps because of the slight crystallization?  I don’t know, but I noticed that as I was eating the toast topped with the Grade A Maple Syrup, it had a more distinct sugar-like quality to it.  It certainly offers a fair representation of maple flavor, although I must admit that it is milder than I expected.

But then, when it comes to the maple syrup that I buy, I generally choose Grade B.  Why?  Because Alton Brown does, or so he said in one of his episodes.  And Alton Brown is all about “Good Eats” so when he makes a suggestion concerning food choices, I generally listen.

And in the case of this taste test, the Grade B did have a stronger maple-y flavor.  It tasted less like “sugar” and more like maple.  I found this to be the case not only with the toast test, but also the tea test.  I like the Grade B better (although both were delightful and I certainly wouldn’t turn away from a bottle of Grade A if offered at the breakfast table).

Now then, in terms of branding … I don’t know that this Maple Syrup from Ben’s Sugar Shack is any better than another brand of Maple Syrup.  You see, the only maple syrup I have on hand at the moment are these little bottles I received in the tasting box, mostly because I’ve been making my own syrup (Chai Syrup, inspired by my trip to Bumblekiss Cafe) and it is considerably more economical than the average price of a bottle of pure maple syrup.  I will say that the price of Ben’s Sugar Shack Maple Syrup seems to be comparable to those that I’ve found in the grocery, and that’s refreshing, especially after reading a bit of Ben’s Story.

My Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this taste test, and am very glad that I had this opportunity to compare for myself the difference between Grade A and Grade B Maple syrups.  When I am in need of maple syrup (I guess when I get tired of making my own chai syrup?) I will definitely consider shopping with Ben’s, if for no other reason than I appreciate his passion for Maple Syrup, and it reminds me a bit of my own passion for tea.

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!

Maple Almond Butter from Justin’s

Where to Buy:  Justin’s Online or in select stores

Price:  $9.95 for a 16-oz jar

Product Description:

People always ask me, what’s your favorite flavor?  And I think they expect me to give some P.C. answer that I love them all the same, but I don’t because that would be stupid.  Nuts can’t read, so whose feelings am I going to hurt?  You’re holding what I consider to be the most perfect tasting nut butter on the planet, and I’m not afraid to say it.

What I Think:

I was thinking of starting this review with something like “this is the best nut butter from Justin’s that I’ve tasted yet.”  But that is just a little precocious, since I have only tried two nut butters from Justin’s … including this one.  I still have two other samples to try from them.

But what I will say is that this is totally AWESOME!   Like, that eye-opening, Oh-My-Gosh what have I been missing kind of awesome!

Like my previous taste testing with the peanut butter from Justin’s, I chose to try this with a piece of toasted 8-grain bread and apple slices.  The consistency is as smooth as the peanut butter, and I needed to kneed the package of almond butter the same way I did the peanut butter, but that is about where the similarities end.

This Maple Almond Butter tastes richer and sweeter than the peanut butter.  It coats the palate with a delicious nutty, maple-y taste.  It feels thick, creamy and smooth.  There is a pleasing contrast between salty and sweet.  The flavor of the almond is very distinct, as is the sweet maple, and together these two flavors create the most amazing, delicious nut butter I’ve ever tasted.

My Final Thoughts:

Oh. My. Goodness.  I need a jar of this!   I love it.

Baconalia at Denny’s

I forgot my camera ... I hope Denny's doesn't mind that I used their picture.

I love bacon.  Yep.  There, I said it.  I know I’m not alone in my love for bacon though, since Denny’s decided to celebrate the long lost holiday of Baconalia.  So, you know, I just had to stop by and try something off of their special Baconalia menu…

Location:  10428 SE Stark Street in Portland, OR

Order:  Maple Bacon Sundae ($2.99)

What I Think:

Yes, I actually did order more than just a sundae.  I had dinner too.  But, rather than talk about the dinner, I am just going to focus on the sundae.  Denny’s is… well, it’s Denny’s.  Need I say more?

But this sundae is something else.  I had recently watched an episode of Unwrapped on Bacon, and I drooled when they talked about that bacon ice cream.  I’ve tried chocolate covered bacon, bacon flavored tea … hey, I’ve even tried chocolate covered bacon tea.  But, bacon with ice cream was something I had yet to try … but definitely wanted to. Since I am miles away from The Woodside Farm Creamery in Delaware, a Maple Bacon Sundae from Denny’s was my closest opportunity to try bacon and ice cream.

This sundae is a bacon-lover’s bliss. The union of the sweet, creamy ice cream and the salty bacon is such a lovely contrast of flavors for the palate.

The bacon is REAL bacon.  Not artificial bacon bits.  This is real, crispy, bite size pieces of bacon.  Not little tiny crumbles… pieces big enough that you can taste them.  The vanilla ice cream used in the sundae is at just the right temperature.  Now, forgive me for getting excited about the temperature of the ice cream, but too often when I have ice cream, it is too cold and hard.  So, when it’s right – It makes me smile.

My only real problem with this sundae was the maple-flavored syrup.  I suspect this is nothing more than the syrup given alongside a stack of pancakes.  And I don’t really like that stuff.  That being said, when served along with smooth and creamy ice cream and bacon, it isn’t that bad.

My Final Thoughts:

If you love bacon, you really need to try this.