Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kotas Reviews Cotton Candy Oreos

Ah, summer! A time for cook outs, wave pools, and county fairs stuffed with as many unhealthy treats as can be jammed onto a stick and deep fried. It is also a time for "seasonal" foods to come out: Watermelon, hot dogs, snow cones, and a new round of Oreo Limited Edition flavors! Let's dive into today's subject: Cotton Candy Oreos.

Welcome to the Hotel Cotton Candy.
Oreo has standardized their Limited Edition packaging at this point, and I have to say it generally hits all the right notes. Bold Oreo logo, with the flavor right above it, a nice picture of the cookie, and a background image of the flavor being presented. It works pretty well for these smaller packages of cookies. Cotton candy (or spun sugar if you want to get overly formal about carnival food) is one of those foods that triggers memories of going to the fair or the circus, and eating something magically sugary and ephemeral. Cotton candy was never particularly GOOD, mind you, but it is incredibly distinctive in both flavor and aroma. How does the Oreo equivalent stack up?

What a nice surprise. Bring your alibis. 
Well, I'll give this to Nabisco. They have really stepped up to make these Oreo flavors something interesting. The smell of these things is exactly like golden Oreo cookie mixed with cotton candy. And look at the color of the frosting! They've got that pink and blue down almost perfectly. Very, VERY impressive feat to perfectly replicate that until now unique experience. It also passes the twist off test with flying colors (see what I did there?). Still, it may smell good, but how does it taste?

Well, I'll be damned if it doesn't taste almost exactly like cotton candy filling. The golden Oreo compliments the cotton candy flavor (and let's face it, it was always artificial) of the frosting, which pretty much tastes like cotton candy. Without the cookie, the frosting has that sickly sweetness that cotton candy always has, and it is a damn near perfect recreation of that taste. That said, while that taste brings back a lot of memories, it's not something I would want a lot of. It is also pretty wretched in milk. Not completely awful, but I really don't recommend it to anyone. Spot on flavor wise though!

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a simple 1 smiley face. I would be happy to eat one or two of these at a party or if they were offered, but cotton candy is more of a nostalgic flavor for me rather than something I crave. They are tasty, but not particularly exciting for me. If you love cotton candy though, you should immediately rush out and get them. I doubt there will be a cookie that so perfectly encapsulates the Cotton Candy Experience again any time soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kotas Reviews Strongbow Honey Hard Apple Cider

Summer marches on for us all, and that means it's time for another booze review! We're gonna take a stroll down to Cider Town for the second time this year, because cider is delicious and everyone should drink more of it. I recently conducted the first of what I hope to be many a grill out this season and the cider was a big hit. In preparation for this event, I picked up a pack of a new flavor from an old favorite. Today we look at Strongbow Honey Hard Apple Cider.

Strongbow has been a staple cider in the Kotas Reviews household for many a year, ever since I fell in love with it at the Highlander many moons ago. The Highlander is probably my favorite bar ever and they had cider on tap before it was super popular. You might call them trendsetters, but I just call them grand. Anyway, Strongbow sits at the Dry end of the Sweet to Dry chart of Ciders. It's crisp, tangy, and never cloying. It is, however, incredibly rare to see any variety other than "standard" on the shelves, making this a rarity. It's also an import from Merry Olde England. Anyway, the packaging is almost exactly like their usual, but with lots of orange highlights and that little bee symbol. I like it! Let's see how it looks outta the bottle.

We are, as they say, golden.
This is a lovely looking cider, and perfectly matches my expectations as to what a honey cider should look like. Strongbow is generally on the slightly pale side of golden, but this? This is a rich summer day of golden color. Gorgeous. The taste is another one of those "confounds" expectations experiences. It is rich and sweet, almost cloyingly sweet to the taste with a strong honey overtone. But wait, this is STRONGBOW, the one true dry cider of which all other dry ciders are but shadows. Why is it so sweet? It's not bad, in fact, if you are a sweet cider fan this is going to be a staple, but it's a sweet Strongbow and that simply blows my mind. 

On the FACE Rating System this gets a solid single smiley of enjoyment. Good as a dessert cider and tasty when paired with the savory. This won't quench a thirst however, because the sweetness leaves the mouth feeling a bit sticky, though the taste is exactly what I would expect from a Honey Cider. That this comes from STRONGBOW of all places is mind boggling. If you are a cider drinker, pick it up and try it. It will not be a staple in my house, but it is worth drinking.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kotas Reviews Angry Orchard Summer Honey Cider

It's the first of May...First of May! Outdoor Grillin' Starts Today!

As you may have guessed from the opening line, today is the First of May, which marks the official start of Outdoor Grilling Season!(Apologies to Jonathon Coulton for butchering his song) As everyone knows, the best thing to have at a cookout is a cold, refreshing Hard Apple Cider. 

Cider drinking has exploded in popularity in recent years. For a long, long while, even during the Era of Alcopops it was two...maybe three brands of hard cider regularly available: Woodchuck, Hornsby's, and if you were lucky, Strong Bow, in maybe one or two different versions of each. Today we have well over twice that many brands (local and national) available, in a wide variety of flavor variations and even several attempts at "Apple Ale" and other apple flavored malted beverages. It's a great time to be a cider drinker is what I'm saying. Today's product comes from the popular Angry Orchard and is their summer seasonal: Summer Honey!

Well helloooooooooo tree!

I rather enjoy Angry Orchard packaging in general, as it usually has a very grumpy apple tree on it. Not this seasonal! This emblem is a sassy, sexy tree that just screams "I am Groot for you!" Some might say it is a little creepy, but really, it's a picture of a tree. Let's not read too much into it, shall we? So the outer packaging is fun and flirty, but how does it look out of the bottle?

Crisp, clear and sassy!
The scent is pure summer, with a very nice clean apple scent tinged with....well, possibly honey, possibly just something else sweet. It's very nice. That's why I was so surprised by the flavor. It is a very nice apple flavor, coupled with a sharp tartness and a very crisp finish, with little to no honey to be found. I rather enjoyed it, except that it was totally not what I was expecting in the slightest.

Angry Orchard varieties, in my experience, lie on the sweeter end of the cider spectrum which runs from the very sweet Woodchuck to the very dry Strongbow. This? This was much drier than I was expecting from a variety called "Summer Honey". It is a good cider, and good on a summer's day with, say, a hot dog and some cole slaw, but it simply flipped my expectations on their head. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 smiley face. I liked it, but the flavor was a huge surprise in a not entirely good kind of way. If you are a cider drinker, you would be remiss if you passed up this beverage, but this may not be the best thing to try for the cider beginner. Don't be fooled by the look of this, it has a bit of bite!