Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kotas Reviews Brach's Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn

Ah, Fall. Probably my favorite season of the year. The weather is cooling, but not freezing. The leaves on the trees are pretty colors. I can wear long pants without dying in the sweltering heat. Fall also contains two of my favorite food based holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving. There is, however, a more sinister side to Fall, and that is the Oncoming Storm of Pumpkin Spice. Yes, the flavor that cravers love to savor is back and in full force once again. Let's see how it handles another fall favorite. Today we look at Brach's Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn.

May Glob have mercy on our souls.
I admit that I am a candy corn aficionado. Candy corn was always a staple in my house while I was growing up and though I was not a huge fan at first, I came to enjoy the subtle waxy sweetness that a good candy corn can bring, along with its cousins the mallow pumpkin and the "autumn mix". Candy corn is definitely an acquired taste and is certainly not for everyone, though they've tried broadening the market with such things as chocolate candy corn, "reindeer corn" which is just candy corn in red, green, and white, and other seasonal varieties. My preferences run toward "traditional" candy corn, because most variants are not very good or just recolors of the traditional. Not so with today's offering. Let's dive in!

Yep. It looks like candy corn. Candy corn has always had a very distinctive odor associated with it, but this stuff smells more like a Yankee Candle in the Pumpkin Spice scent. The colors are fine, being the traditional orange, white, and yellow, so it would be indistinguishable from ordinary candy corn in a bowl. Clearly, that is how they get you. But appearances aren't everything, how does it taste? 

I actually like Pumpkin Spice in myriad forms. The Starbucks Latte variety is delicious, and pumpkin doughnuts are always a treat. Pumpkin pie is one of my staple fall desserts, and who doesn't love a hint of gourdly goodness in their muffins now and again? So, as you can see, I am certainly predisposed to like these two flavors. do they pair?

Have you ever smelled a candle and thought "man, that smells delicious. I wonder how it would taste?" Yeah, well, eating this so called food is exactly like what I imagine eating a pumpkin spice candle would taste like. I mean, yeah, candy corn has a bit of waxiness to it, but for Crap's Sake, this is the waxiest thing I've ever put in my mouth, and I've tried Wax Lips candy...which is real wax! The terror is exacerbated by the most nauseatingly fake pumpkin flavor imaginable, marching over the taste buds in horribly malignant saraband. There is something resembling artificial "spice", but what spice it could be I could scarcely comprehend.   I really hated this stuff, as did my long suffering mother who is also a candy corn connoisseur. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 3 Frownie Faces. It is just fucking awful and we would all be better off if this abomination had never escaped the lab to threaten us in our homes. Run as far as you can from this nightmare concoction and don't turn back, like I did. You may never recover from your experience. Don't wait for me, it's too late. Save yourself!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kotas Reviews Full Service BBQ

I'm a big fan of barbecue, really. Slow cooked for hours, slathered in rubs and sauces, all designed to make a large, cheap, tough cut of meat into something marvelous, truly it is an American meal. It is also one of those food types that inspires fierce regional loyalty. Texas Brisketteers look down their noses at Memphis baby back rib purveyors, and both are suspicious of Kansas City, with it's savory take on sauces. Everyone has a favorite type, though my love of barbecue is nigh Catholic in its acceptance. When some friends invited me to celebrate a birthday in High Barbecue Style, I could not refuse, and frankly, I'd not been to the place. Let's take a look at Full Service BBQ.

Full Service BBQ, so I am told, started as a take out joint located in an old gas station, hence the name. This particular location was ensconced in an old Sonic place, minus all the car hop nonsense. Speaking of nonsense, there is none here. The concept is simple. You park, you go to the window, you order. They bring out your order. You leave, or eat it at some of the many mismatched tables that sprawl in front of it. There is also a drive through window, if you are in a hurry. Orders are punched into a tablet, though they do accept credit cards via the magic of Square or other payment option. 

They barbecue choices are many and varied. They serve beef brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, ribs, and smoked sausage. They also offer several "foods topped with barbecue" such as nachos, loaded fries, and the ever popular Hawg Dawg, which is a hot dog topped with barbecued meat. They even offer a sampler meal called "The Big Boy Box" which has some of all the meats along with a couple of sides. Of course I got the Big Boy Box.

I'm a big kid now!
I chose as my sides cole slaw and fries. They are generous with the barbecue sauce, which is a sweet and spicy sauce, spicier than you would imagine, really, but very good. They also throw in some Texas Toast and a pile of pickles, jalepenos, and onions as random toppings. It's a LOT of food, for about $18. This and a couple of drinks would make a meal for any two people. Of course I ate it by myself.

To my credit, I did finish everything but some of the fries, which they are generous with. The brisket was very good, nice and tender, but not dry like I've had at a few places. The pulled pork was also tasty, though sans sauce it wasn't the stand out. The ribs were fall off the bone tender and very meaty, though they had a bit more cartilage in them than I was expecting. The smoked sausage was well spiced and excellent. The standout though? The pulled chicken. This was the best damn pulled chicken I've ever had. Excellent spicing, moist and juicy instead of dry, and a flavor that stood out even when smothered in sauce, this was fantastic. The fries were also excellent fries, though I wished for more crispness. The only disappointment was the cole slaw, which just did not have much flavor at all in contrast to everything else. I even got to sample the banana pudding, which was so good that even in my corpulent state, I considered ordering some.

On the FACE Rating System, this place gets 3 bloated and full smiley faces. I waddled away from this place fat and happy, and I will absolutely visit it again. The pulled chicken was amazing, and everything tasted pretty great, with the sole exception of the cole slaw. Highly recommended if you are in town! A little out of the way for me, but totally worth it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Kotas Reviews Brownie Batter Oreos

Alright Nabisco. I know we've had our spats in the past. But today I'm gonna give you another chance. Let's do something wonderful together. Or at least something hilariously amusing. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a peek at Brownie Batter Oreos.

Does anyone even USE a wooden spoon for mixing anymore?
I have never understood the obsession with cookie dough, cake batter, and other "non-cooked" sweets that people seem to go gaga over. Raw cookie dough, while tasty enough I suppose, has an awful gritty texture and a baked cookie is just so much yummier. Same with cake batter. Yes, it is very tasty...but a cake always tastes better and has a better mouth feel. These flavors, born of desperation, laziness, or impatience have worked their way into ice cream culture (See the proliferation of cookie dough and cake batter ice creams) for reasons I cannot explain.  With all that lead up, we come to the Brownie Batter Oreo. My predictions are that it is going to be chocolate flavored. Very, very chocolate flavored. Release the Cookies!
The only cookie where the filling absolutely matches the cookie in color.
Well they do smell like brownies. Very fudgey, very chocolatey brownies. Oh, and some Oreo in there too. Wow, that is a dark colored filling. I mean, if you could have a singularity encapsulated in cookie form, I imagine we would perceive it as something like this before we were all sucked into the oblivion past its event horizon. Or maybe not. Anycrap, let's taste this!

My stars, it's full of chocolate and grit. This is EXACTLY what I would expect a brownie batter cookie to taste like. Super thick chocolate flavor, completely overwhelming the taste buds. I imagine that in some way this is how Augustus Gloop felt when he was drowning: completely subsumed to the Chocolate. What a punch in the mouth this is. The texture is gritty, like all batter and dough sourced treats, which while not appealing, is at least true to the source material. Even milk does little to tame these cookies.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 smiley face. They do not taste bad, they just are a typhoon of chocolate in gritty, cookie format. Definitely worth trying for chocolate and Oreo fans, but you might need a sit down after consuming. DAT CHOCOLATE. Nabisco, I won't say you are fully redeemed in mine eyes, but after the last fiasco of Cookies and Cream Oreos, you are at least back to trying new and entertaining things. So, good on ya for that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kotas Reviews Lay's Greektown The Gyro Potato Chips

Yeah, it's another chip review. The Do Us A Flavor promotion is still going strong, and as such, I am compelled to review each and every chip that I can before it ends. I will hand it to Lay's though, in a crowded market for "wacky flavors", this promotion manages to out wacky them all. Today we review Lay's Greektown Gyro Potato Chips. God help us all.

Kettle Cooked, as the Gyros of old were made.
 What is it with Lay's and adding location information to the flavor profile? What makes a Greektown Gyro different from any other gyro? The particular spices? The toppings? Does ANYONE know? Eh, whatever. I love me some gyros (pronounced YEAR-ow, according to my New York father) and all they come with. Gyro meat is a fine accompaniment to any meal, and goes well with a surprising number of dishes (trust me when I say a hamburger with Swiss and gyro meat on top is to die for), but how well does it translate to chip form?

The Chinet plate is how you know it's classy.
Well, the scent is a strange yet alluring mixture of potato chip and gyro-esque spices. In fact, the spice portion is quite obvious in the aroma. It smells pretty good, actually. The chips look like just about any other flavored chip, with a heaping of "flavor dust", so you know that they are trying. 

These things are incredibly savory and have a strong meaty flavor that is balanced by equal parts of "spice" though exactly what those spices are is hard to figure out. Pretty darn tasty though, but heavy. This is not a light side to accompany any dish, that is for sure.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 smiley face. They are pretty tasty, but very savory and heavy, not very good with a meal. Definitely worth trying for all you carnivores out there, maybe not so much for people who like solid, but not overwhelming, flavors.

Kotas Reviews Lay's New York Reuben Potato Chips

Lay's Potato Chips are often considered the Default Potato Chip of America. Thin, crispy, greasy and salty as hell, they represent the pinnacle of Classic American Snack Food. Of course, even the pinnacle of snack foods can't rest on its greasy, salty laurels for too long. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we look at Lay's New York Reuben Potato Chips.

What makes it a New York Reuben anyway?
The Reuben sandwich is a classic deli sandwich made up of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing (or Thousand Island dressing in a pinch). Generally served on rye bread, it is a staple sandwich of comedy routines and old men who sit on stoops and play checkers.I have a love of most delicatessen foods, so naturally I am an aficionado of this sandwich, and I am very skeptical that it can translate into flavored chip form. Let's take a look at this beauties!

Sure, that's one serving...if you squint.
Well, they don't look like anything special, save for a faint reddish coloration from the flavor dust that coats them. The scent is definitely reminiscent of corned beef and sauerkraut, though there are no cheese or dressing aromas to accompany it. The flavors are, as expected, quite on the savory side, with a bit of meatiness that is almost but not quite unlike corned beef, and the sauerkraut overtones come through, though they remain a sidebar to the main corned-beef-ish taste. It is remarkably odd how close these come to tasting like an actual Reuben, but they miss the mark just enough for one to go "Yep, that's a fakey flavor alright." 

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 smiley face. They are certainly better than I expected, and I think they taste pretty good. They taste a lot like what I expected "fakey Reuban flavoring" to taste like, but they miss out on some of the flavor contrasts that make a Reuben sandwich a classic. Definitely worth trying, and some people will absolutely adore these. Me? I wouldn't turn them down.