Black Pepper Pistachios from Graze

blackpepperpistachios

Picture from Graze.
Click on the pic to go there.

pistachios, salt, natural black pepper flavors

I received a tray of these pistachios in my November Graze Box.

Tea Suggestion:

I recommend a fruity iced tea to drink while snacking on these flavorful nuts.  I drank some of this Acai Squeeze from Argo Tea – a ready to drink tea?  Yes!  The tart, fruity notes offered a really interesting contrast to the peppery kick of the pistachios.

What I Think:

Of the four snacks that I received in this month’s Graze box, this was the snack I was least excited about.  Don’t get me wrong, I love pistachios!  But, I have tried a salt and pepper version of pistachios before and I wasn’t all that excited about it.  I mean … it was alright, but, it wasn’t something that I’d ever buy again, and because we purchased a rather large bag, some of those pistachios ended up wasted because they weren’t as good as I imagined them to be.

???????????????????????????????So … I had my misgivings when I opened the tray of these pistachios.  But these are really tasty, and much better than I remember that previous version of salt and pepper pistachios.

First of all, these aren’t overly salted.  There’s a small amount of salt on these, just enough to bring out the natural flavors of the nut and to enhance the pepper.

Second, the pepper isn’t overdone either.  It’s the perfect amount of pepper.  It is enough so that there is a distinct peppery kick but not so much that I feel like I need to take a sip of tea in between each nut.  Neither seasoning is so overdone that the pistachio is overwhelmed.

My Final Thoughts:

The nut tastes toasty and has a pleasant crunch.  The pepper adds a pleasing contrast to the sweetness of the pistachio.  Not too salty, not too spicy … just the right balance of flavor with this snack.  I like it a lot more than I thought I would.

Spiced Almond Caramel Corn from CC Made

Picture from Foodzie. Click on the pic to go there.

About CC Made:

Cassandra Chen’s first career was on the trading floor, but after spontaneously asking for a job in the kitchen of one of her favorite restaurants, found she preferred the even more intense energy of working on the line. She gravitated toward pastry, and ultimately decided to take her caramel corn commercial when her youngest son started pre-school. The rest is sweet, sweet history.

Learn more about CC Made on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

You’ll want some iced tea with this tea … because it has a spicy kick to it!  This Cucumber Mojito Green Tea from Inspired Leaf is really refreshing when chilled, and I like the way the crisp peppermint cools the palate after I’ve had a bite of spice from this Caramel Corn.  A very refreshing way to enjoy this amazing snack!

What I Think:

I grew up loving cracker jacks.  Well, think of this as cracker jacks … all grown up.   We have the popcorn, but instead of the little bits of popcorn that are all clustered up because of the sticky caramel, each piece of popcorn is light, fluffy and whole … and completely coated in delicious, golden brown caramel.  Sweet and chewy, the caramel isn’t as sticky as I remember cracker jacks being, and instead it is buttery.  It seems to be dripping in butter.  I can feel Paula Deen smile as I eat this!

And instead of the peanuts of cracker jacks, we have whole almonds.  Crunchy and delicious, these pack a good punch of nutty flavor and just enough salty taste to add to the overall profile of sweet, salty and spicy.

Oh yes.  Did I mention the spicy?  Yes, that’s where this treat and cracker jacks really part ways, because this has some real kick to it.

Every bite of this is an adventure:  with the first bite, I notice a rich, buttery flavor like a popcorn kernel that’s been dipped in real butter.  YUM.  The next bite, I’ll notice a bit of the salty flavor and the crunch of the almond.  A moment or two later, I feel the heat start to radiate through my mouth and tickle the back of my throat.

The heat is powerful, and just when you think your mouth can’t take another bite of it, some sweetness comes through to temper the heat enough to encourage you to take another bite!

My Final Thoughts:

This Spiced Almond Caramel Corn just made the boardwalk box the BEST box yet.  OK… well, maybe it’s #2, just after the Tea Time box, but I think that has more to do with the fact that I’m a tea nerd (that’s what my husband calls me!) than the true merit of the box.  Because if they had put tea in this box (maybe instead of the root beer?) this would definitely be #1.  I guess my heart will always belong to tea first.

Ginger Sesame Caramel Popcorn from 479° Popcorn

Learn more about 479° Popcorn here.

Product Description:

Ginger comes from the edible bulb of a perennial plant, and is frequently found in Asian cuisine. We infuse golden, buttery caramel with organic ginger to create a pleasantly zesty coating for crisp, fluffy popcorn. Finished with a generous sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, this unique snack displays tingly heat, gentle sweetness and a nutty finish. San Francisco’s Chinatown was our inspiration for this exuberant combination of flavors, and we think it tastes even better with a Bruce Lee movie playing on the flat screen.

What I Think:

This has to be the tastiest caramel popcorn I’ve ever tasted.  I love the contrast between the sweet caramel and the peppery zing of the ginger.  The hint of nutty flavor from the sesame seeds is just barely apparent, but it’s enough to keep the taste buds excited for more.

The popcorn is light and fluffy, and now that I am near the bottom of the pouch that was included with my Stocking Stuffers tasting box from Foodzie, I can also say that I found NO un-popped kernels and I’m not really experiencing much of a hull issue either.

The caramel is done right.  Each kernel of popcorn is covered with no bare spots.  It has a nice sweetness, it doesn’t taste burnt, and it has a nice crispness to it, without coming across as too sticky, buttery or messy on the fingers or the teeth.  Adding to the crunchy texture are the black sesame seeds, which add a light, toasty nut taste.  Every kernel of popcorn seems to have at least one seed on them, so there is a good amount of sesame seeds here, but again, it’s just the right amount … not too much, or too little.  Then there is the ginger.  I love the kick that the ginger adds to this popcorn, and gives it just the right balance between sweet and spicy.

As for a tea pairing … this popcorn has enough flavor going on for it that I’d recommend just a glass of iced tea for palate refreshment!  My favorite iced tea:  Rainbow Sherbet from 52Teas.  Here, the flavors are anything but “simple” but it sure is refreshing with a pouch of this popcorn!

My Final Thoughts:

I loved this.  My only regret that there was just one pouch of it in my box, and now that pouch is empty.  I know that my local market carries this brand, although I don’t know if they happen to carry this particular flavor.  I hope so and I will check for it the next time I’m shopping.  I must have more!

Pumpkin Spice Caramels from AvenueSweets

Where to Buy:  AvenueSweets on Foodzie

Price:  $10.75 for an 8-oz. box

Product Description:

It’s like Pumpkin Pie in a caramel! Rich, delicious and filled with all of the yummy pumpkin flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and ginger – these are wonderful caramels to enjoy year round. Created in small batches, AvenueSweets confections are handcrafted using only the freshest ingredients. There are no additives or preservatives ensuring fresh, rich flavors that are delectable.

What I Think:

This may just prove to be the most difficult review I’ve ever written.

Why?

Because these are incredible.  So incredible, in fact, that while I am chewing on one, it is hard to come up with words to describe just how delicious they are, except to resort to a childhood response of “Mmmmm” whilst chewing, and after I’m finished with a bite, all I can think about is “I want another one.”  I am having difficulty getting beyond that.  Words fail me.

These are quite possibly the best caramels I’ve ever eaten.  And I’ve eaten quite a bit of caramel, as it is probably my favorite confection after chocolate.  These Pumpkin Spice Caramels are soft that my teeth sink into them … I’m not really even biting, my teeth just sink right into the candy.  And of course, they are chewy (ever have caramel that isn’t chewy?)  But what makes these SO different from all the rest is that they are remarkably creamy and smooth.  No grit or sugary texture.  Just silky smooth creaminess – as if it were just made.  I can taste the fresh cream and butter in these.  But at the same time, I don’t feel like they’re coated in butter, the way so many other caramels taste, especially some of those “handcrafted” caramels that you might find at a local farmer’s market.

Others that have tried these claim to taste “pumpkin” in these, but I do not.  I do taste the spices that you would put into a pumpkin pie:  cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and my favorite, nutmeg.  So I get while these are called “Pumpkin Spice,” but in the opinion of this tea lover, they could just as easily be called “Chai Spice.”  Or even “Autumn Spice.”

But to be honest, it doesn’t really matter what they are called.  These are OUTSTANDING caramel candies.

My Final Thoughts:

I opened this review by stating it would be difficult to come up with words to describe these, and now that I’ve finished them, the only words that I can come up with are:  I want more.

Spiced Gourmet Scooping Ketchup from Sir Kensington’s

Where to Buy:  Sir Kensington’s on Foodzie

Price:  $8.99 for an 11-ounce jar

Product Description:

Reminiscent of my time spent in Mesopotamia, this spiced variant of ketchup contains jalapeno, cilantro and lime. The spice is noticeable but not overbearing, delighting the palates of both the spicy food lover and those with more delicate taste buds.

What I Think:

After falling completely in love with the original Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup, I knew I had to try the Spiced variety.

This is very similar to the original “non-spiced” variety.   This ketchup has the same, deep red color of the original variety, and has the same fresh tomato-y taste.   The most significant difference is – surprise, surprise! – the spice level.  Now, this is not what I would classify as “spicy.”  It is pleasantly warm.  A little spicier than the average ketchup but not quite as spicy as a mild salsa.

The presence of the jalapeño pepper in this ketchup makes the flavor of the bell pepper less apparent.  I don’t taste much from the cilantro, but what I do taste is the lime.  It accents the overall flavor, offsetting the sweetness of the ketchup, making this taste not quite as sweet as the original while at the same time highlighting the spice.

But as I said before, this is not actually a hot/spicy tasting ketchup.  It is mild on the heat scale, but the heat does develop as I continue to eat it.  That being said, I don’t think those who generally shy away from spicy foods would have anything to fear with this ketchup.

My Final Thoughts:

I really like this.  Do I like it better than the original variety?  No, I don’t think so.  But it is still is delicious – delicious enough to eat right out of a jar with a spoon!  And it is different enough from the original that it would be perfectly acceptable to have both in your pantry:  one for every day use, and one when you want to spice things up a bit.

Spiced Almonds from Mrs. Sipps

Where to Buy:  Mrs. Sipps on Foodzie

Price:  $23.97 for three 8-ounce packages

Product Description:

Mrs. Sipps spiced almonds provide a unique taste that starts sweet then finishes with a savory spicy kick of flavor.

What I think:

These spiced almonds are the perfect example to illustrate why I love Foodzie.  I love that I can visit the website and find all kinds of unusual and handcrafted foods – stuff you’re not likely to find in your typical grocery store.  It’s kind of like one of those outdoor farmer’s markets that are open on the weekends, only you don’t have to wait until the weekend to shop – you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home!  I love it!

And I love these almonds!  They start off tasting like an ordinary almond – crunchy, a little roasty, salty and a sweet, nutty flavor.  It takes a few moments for the heat to kick in… but then WHAM!  It hits you.  That delectable spicy flavor!

And it’s the spicy flavor that has got me hooked.  This is not your typical hot spiciness.  It isn’t the kind of HOT that will send you running to the kitchen for something to quench the fire in your mouth. It is a complex, savory-spicy flavor with a hint of sweetness for delightful contrast. Those contrasts in flavor balance and temper the spice so well that I’m able to sit back and enjoy the flavors in each almond.

It’s almost like a praline almond that has been spiked with spice.  The sesame seeds add to the toasty, nutty flavor and they also add some visual interest.  The “candied” praline adds a hint of chewy texture.  In one crunchy bite, there is salty, sweet and spicy.  Incredibly YUM!

My Final Thoughts:

These almonds were so good.  But my bag is empty.  MUST HAVE MORE!