Product review: CASCAL fermented soda

On the surface, it sounds kind of funny and maybe not too appetizing–“fermented soda.” And maybe when you realize that CASCAL is a product endorsed by Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame, you might think you’re about to taste something strange. Then again, what do you think wine is? Basically fermented grape juice, right? And it’s also worth noting that there are no odd things in this beverage like, oh I don’t know, Mediterranean bug juice or bull testicle extract. They are basically sodas with fruit flavors, but with a couple of twists. For one, some of the fruits are fermented, giving it a half-sour, on its way to being alcohol flavor; and also there are some flower flavors such as rose and magnolia.

The taste? They are actually really delicious and refreshing. I’m a big fan of flavored, unsweetened seltzer, and since these are not as sweet as soda or even fruit juice infused seltzers, it’s refreshing without coating your mouth with sugar. The brightness of the fermented aspect is nice too without being over the top. My favorites were the Bright Citrus–with flavors of lemongrass, tangerine and pineapple; and the Berry Cassis, with black currant, tangerine and lemon. I wasn’t as crazy about the Ripe Rouge. The cherry and chocolate flavors in that one were nice but were overpowered by the rose flavoring. The same goes for the magnolia in Crisp White, which took over the pear and apricot tastes.

Zimmern offers advice on which flavors go best with which fare–such as Crisp White going well with egg dishes; and Ripe Rouge a nice complement to barbecued ribs. Thankfully, he doesn’t suggest pairing any of them with some of the weird things he eats on the show. So go try CASCAL in confidence if you are intrigued, and I know you are. The stuff is really interesting and for the most part, mighty tasty.


Product review: 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bar

Let me preface this by saying that I didn’t ask for a sample of this from Mars, and that I’m not the type of person who eats candy bars all the time. I do like them, but I know I shouldn’t eat them every day. But the new 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bar caught my eye in Walgreen’s recently. I ate it, and felt like I was going to float. I went to Walgreen’s again today and grabbed another one of these bars–which, by the way, comes two long and skinny bars to a package the way another favorite of mine, Twix, does.

And again I felt like I was floating. First of all, the 3 Musketeers brand in general is one of light, fluffy nougat which is wrapped in chocolate. It’s always been a lower calorie candy bar because it’s light and airy but still tastes great. The Truffle Crisp is something altogether amazing in a different way–the lighter nougat part is more of a crisp cookie, and on top of that is a fluffy and rich chocolate truffle layer, and the whole thing is covered in milk chocolate.

I’m not sure why exactly, but the way everything melds together in this bar is nothing short of remarkable. It’s delicious, and, judging by the fact that I went back and bought another one today, it’s also highly addictive.


Product review: Lindt Chili flavored dark chocolate

Chef JimLindt makes excellent, rich chocolates, but being that this blog is geared toward the male population, here is one that will no doubt be intriguing to dudes, especially those who like spicy food–Chili flavored dark chocolate.

Available in a 3.5 oz. block, this chocolate is “infused with spicy red chili” as it says on the package. And trust me, this chocolate is only for those who can handle food with a moderate degree of heat.

First of all the chocolate itself is rich and creamy, but then the secondary blast of flavor is the chili, and it comes at you with gusto. If you really try, you can taste the red pepper, but it’s more like a blast of heat than flavor.

This is great stuff, and definitely a great pick-me-up with coffee in the afternoon, or after dinner for some turbo palate cleansing. Yeah, that’s it.


Happy Holidays (and you know what that means)

Happy Holidays everyone. That means for the next ten days (and for the past 20 for that matter), it’s time to indulge a bit, and to not feel guilty about what you eat or drink. Within reason of course, but still. Yesterday I think I exemplified that more than anything. I went to Brennan’s Market (the best cheese in Wisconsin, at least from what I’ve found so far), to buy some cheese for Christmas Eve and an amazing looking beef tenderloin for Christmas day. But before that, I stopped at Old Navy and bought two pairs of pants that are a size up from what I normally buy. I’m tired of squeezing into a 33 when my waist is more like a 34. Hey, it happens when you get older and all the dieting and working out make it hard to maintain those lower waist sizes, for anyone.

I’m going to work on that in 2011, but while it’s still 2010, I want to enjoy my food. I want to eat lots of cheese and sausage, drink beer and wine and Bailey’s, eat cookies and chocolate covered nuts, and drink hot chocolate and coffee spiked with Bailey’s (is there a trend here?).

My family back in New York follows the tradition of my brother-in-law’s family–seven fish on Christmas Eve. This year, we’re starting a tradition of seven cheeses on our first Wisconsin Christmas Eve–12 year cheddar, 5 year cheddar, peppadew havarti, gouda, butterkase (just tasted this yesterday, it’s amazing), bacon cheese, and asiago. Oh wait, we also have beer spiked cheddar spread, but that’s a bonus.

I’m also cooking a beef tenderloin for the first time. The butcher told me there were two kinds–the less expensive kind you eat with a knife and fork, and the more expensive kind you eat with a spoon. Guess which one I bought? I mean, it’s Christmas, so break out the spoons!

And hey, make sure you indulge a bit this holiday season. The holidays are about family, friends, good food and drink and enjoying the season. So with that, I raise a proverbial glass and wish you the best, and wish you happy holidays from Mikey’s Kitchen!


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