Posts by Marisa:

Slim Jim Dare Beef Jerky

Written on June 24th, 2013 by
Categories: Food

Product: Slim Jim Dare Beef Jerky
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (North Tacoma/6th Ave.)
Price: $1.99

Although inspired in part by a true incident, the following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event.

Obligatory sound effect to put you in the mood

TRIAL PART 33
MONDAY, JUNE 23

(Courtroom. Judge is presiding. Attorney is presenting.)

Attorney:
Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I’m here today to present the case that this dried meat product violated my client’s right to choose her food blog review candidates and in fact, dared her to try it.

Slim-jim-dare-8727

Exhibit A: Our defendant in this case. Not sure where it got that big knife from.

(Gasps emerge from the courtroom audience. An older woman clutches her pearls in an unintentionally comedic moment.)

Bailiff:
The court calls Marisa from ClearanceCuisine.com to the stand.

Attorney:
Ma’am, please state your name and any other important details for this trial.

Marisa:
My name is Marisa and I have no idea why you’re doing this. Must be all Law & Order on Netflix I’ve binged through this year.

Attorney:
Ma’am, stick to the facts please. This is a court of law, not an opinions column. Moving on, where were you the afternoon of Sunday, June 16th, 2013?

Marisa:
I was at the grocery store, picking up more test subje…err, food items to review for the upcoming weeks. Junk food tends to stay good for months, you know? In regards to the product, with its menacing colored flames and CAUTION warning, I thought it would actually pack some heat. Later I would find out it was lies. ALL LIES!

(The plaintiff breaks down in anguished sobs at this point.)

Attorney:
Okay, no need to get upset. What did you discover about the product when you returned home?

Marisa:
It’s one of the most disappointing beef jerkies (is that the proper word?) I’ve ever tasted. The “Kinda Hot” notice on the front was a sham. Why dare your customers to try your product when you admit it’s not that spicy to begin with. Calling this jerky “kinda hot” is like calling mom jeans “kinda sexy”. It’s terribly misleading. Other than that the flavor was quite lacking. At that point, I was considering snapping into a Slim Jim, but reading those ingredients and one of their marketing slogans (“Made from stuff guys need“) turned me off even more.

Exhibit B: The "daring" jerky itself.

Exhibit B: The “daring” jerky itself.

Attorney:Were you aware that this brand also offers a Jalapeno (aka “Freakin’ Hot”) and a Habanero (aka “Really Freakin’ Hot”) flavor?

Marisa:
Yes, I am aware of that, Mr. Attorney. However, there are two problems with that argument. First, shopping at discounted grocery stores leads one to purchase only what’s in stock and this is all I was able to get. Secondly, “Really Freakin’ Hot” sounds like a phrase a teenage boy would use to describe his friend’s 40-something soccer mom.

Attorney:
No further questions.

Judge:
Where is the defendant in this case? This heinous beef jerky that you keep describing?

Attorney:
Well your honor, at this point  I hope you realize that is product/individual we’ve been discussing in an inanimate food item in a plastic bag. It cannot speak, move or even think and is therefore is unable to testify on its behalf.

Judge:
Fine. The jury will now convene to discuss their verdict.

(Jury exits then re-enters the room ten seconds later, a courtroom world record.)

Judge:
Has the jury reached a verdict?

Jury Foreman:
Yes we have, your honor. Ahem.

We the jury, find the “Dare” beef jerky guilty of making outrageous claims of its spiciness and going to deplorable lengths of daring certain people to taste it. However, we also find the plaintiff Marisa guilty of wasting of our time and bringing this stupid case to trial. Stick to Judge Judy next time, sweetheart.

(Court dismissed. Fade to black. Executive Producer Dick Wolf.)

Yoplait Original Cosmopolitan-Flavored Yogurt

Written on June 17th, 2013 by
Categories: Food
Yoplait-Crantini-Martini-Yogurt-8371

It’s 5pm somewhere.

Product: Yoplait Original Cosmopolitan-Flavored Yogurt
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (North Tacoma/6th Ave.)
Price: $1.99

*The following conversation may be fictionalized for dramatic effect*

Recently, my significant other asked me how he could get me to write again (coincidentally in the grocery store aisle). Sensing a bribe approaching, I replied:

“Darling, make me quit my 9-to-5 overtime-eligible job and I swear to you, I will write twenty new blog posts a day, on topics I have yet to determine at this time.”

“We can’t have that unfortunately, sweetheart. We’ve got bills to pay, a spoiled cat to feed and blogging just doesn’t put food on the table. Unless you count the food you review, that is.”

I grabbed an unsuspecting item from the dairy case, whipped my hair around in a fashion that L’Oreal (because I’m worth it) commercials would envy, and proclaimed, “This. This is the product that will rejuvenate my semi-humorous, grammatically incorrect food blogging career.”

And this, ladies and gentleman, is that product.

Yoplait has a history of making yogurt flavors for women that are decadent/sinful/what have you but they love to brag about how good they are or they they’re losing weight eating it (you know that one, I can’t find it on YouTube at the moment). Apparently, it also prevents you for binging and purging. I did a marketing project in college dealing with yogurt advertising tailored towards women so I thrive in this stuff. On with the review.

Yoplait-Crantini-Martini-Yogurt-8367

I grow mint in my backyard specifically for this reason.

Since this is a limited edition product that came from a clearance grocery store, of course it ended up being the only one there. Research (Googling the product name) shows that there’s also a Pina Colada variety, somewhere out there in the grocery store wild. Apologies, no Jagermeister Yoplait for your alcohol enthusiasts.

Mind you, there’s not actually any alcohol in this yogurt, but who wants cranberry lime yogurt when you can have Cosmopolitan flavor? AM I RIGHT, LADIES? Today’s product proves women can be wild and eat all the pink colored dairy product they want and still keep their figure.

Side note: I love reading food marketing press releases. They’re generally pretty cheezy and I try to imagine a really enthusiastic pitchman (or in this case, probably a pitchwomen) reading this glurge.

The yogurt is a tangy, tart oversweetened item. I mistakenly threw away the container that listed the ingredients so I’m unsure what gives it the alcohol-esque pucker so if someone could let me know the chemistry of alcohol flavored yogurt that would be awesome. I only ate a spoonful of one of the containers that came in my four-pack so I didn’t get the best value out of my yogurt purchase. Also I didn’t count the seltzer water I swished around in my mouth to get the flavor out.

Please women of the world, just drink a Cosmo instead of scooping up this saccharin spatter.

Sea20 Energy Drink

Written on October 15th, 2012 by
Categories: Drinks

Product: Sea2O Organic Energy Drink (don’t forget to disable the audio)
Purchased at: Big Lots (University Place)
Price:
40 cents (20% off the normal 50 cents)

Truth be told, writing reviews for beverages is always a challenge for me. Beverages can be easily divided into broad categories: alcoholic/non-alcoholic, fizzy/flat, sweet/neutral and of course, delicious/disgusting – which in turn provides little challenge for a review. At any given time, I generally have a collection of cans and bottles gathering dust on our shelves because they have nothing noticeable or extraordinary about them (I’ve since curbed my “buying-drinks-specifically-for-Clearance-Cuisine” habit). In fact, today’s product was purchased at least six months ago, but it’s still good. Still good.

When I buy a product for the site, I always try to pick things that err on the side of ridiculous, whether it’s a quirky ingredient, stupid slogan and/or mascot or a terrible Flash-based website that’s straight from the 90s. In this case, today’s feature drew me in because: the word “SEA” in the name (the sea is delicious, no?) and the concept of a non-caffeine based energy drink. After flipping the can around, I learned it also has ~organic seaweed extract~ which sealed the deal for me.

Sea2O is based locally in Bellevue, WA but I found the drink locally at Big Lots, a stark change from its suggested retail locations like Whole Foods and Metropolitan Market. The can used the word “Organic” probably around twenty times, but I lost count by the time opened the can. While I have no qualms about organic ingredients, once enough is fine for me thx.

The drink is very similar to the Capri Sun pouch drinks I grew up drinking as a kid, probably due to the sweetener (agave nectar). Though it’s touted as an energy drink, I’m of the mindset that anything you add enough sugar to, whether it be table sugar, HFCS, agave and what have you, can become energized (new marketing idea: pixi sticks as energy powder). For those asking if the drink was salty or fishy, I’m happy to confirm that there’s no seaweed taste or essence, since seaweed extract is added as opposed to the nori you’re used to wrapping around your sushi.

That said, I’ll stick to my artificially sweetened, caffeine saturated energy drinks.

Vino Solo

Written on September 20th, 2012 by
Categories: Drinks

Product: Vino Solo (2008 Cabernet Merlot, Petit Verdot)
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (North Tacoma/6th Ave.)
Price:
$0.99

I’m writing this post at 2am because nighttime is the right time to write blog posts. Not the mention the bars right below my apartment start closing and the bleary-eyed, yelling-prone tipsy patrons start filtering into the alley just thirty feet below my window. Nothing like the smell of cheap cigarette smoke and drunken yells to lull your from a blissful, dream-filled sleep.

But I digress; I’m not bitter. In fact, one of the only reality shows I actually enjoy started back up again last Friday: Shark Tank. I’ll spare you the details about the premise (it’s like Dragons’ Den, for you international readers) since Wikipedia does a good job explaining. It’s my little dose of ABC television-produced schadenfreude – because what reader wouldn’t get a guilty chuckle from an “inventor” that says they’ve invested their life savings in a pillow for woman with breast implants or a product lineup for “cougars” (no, not the animal). Or if you’re looking for amusement, look up a little game called “BulletBall”.

One of the most infamous entrepreneurs is a guy who’s come back asking for money twice – for his single serve plastic wine cups with peel back foil tops.  Every time I saw a clip of him, I would eye my little plastic bottle of Vino Solo that’s been sitting on our shelf for probably about six months now. Why drink a single serve glass when you can drink the whole darn (little) bottle? I decided to test the bottle out last weekend.

According to the paper label, Vino Solo is “South Eastern Australian Wine” composed of “52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot [and] 6% Petit Verdot” or in my language “Cheap Red Wine” (it’s 13.5% alcohol by volume). Tangentially related, here is a reference image describing myself for your viewing pleasure:

The wine surprisingly isn’t offensive for a plastic bottled petit, just a bit mediocre (this coming from a strictly occasional Two Buck Chuck drinker). I don’t really see the practicality of drinking a single serve wine, though the argument of drinking one glass of wine and let the rest go bad always seems to come up. However, which is more depressing – having the remainder of a bottle spoil or drinking cheap red wine alone out of a glorified Solo Cup?

Jackie Chan’s XGT (Xtra Green Tea) Drink Mix

Written on September 10th, 2012 by
Categories: Drinks

“He likes it! Hey Jackie!”

Product: Jackie Chan’s XtraGreen Tea Drink Mix

What happened to you, Jackie Chan? You used to be uber-cool. I remember watching you in the poorly dubbed film: Rumble in the Bronx: on TV in the 1990s, and despite the over-dramatic annoying female voice acting, it was an overall enjoyable flick.

Nowadays kids grow up with “The Spy Next Door” and “The Jackie Chan Adventures” and miss out on glorious direct-from-Hong Kong action films with no plot or acting to speak of, but Jackie’s well-intentioned grin and kicks to the face. So maybe it was nostalgia, curiosity or just because it was pretty weird that made me try today’s product. Hell, Steven Seagal has his own “energy drink” so why can’t Jackie Chan?

The artificially sweetened lemon flavored iced tea powder comes packaged in the oh-so-convenient plastic tube-pouches that are oh-so-trendy these days for single serving diet tea drinks. The powder isn’t brown like Nestea or matcha green as one would expect green tea to be, but a grainy yellowish brown that plopped to the bottom of my handy blender bottle.

While I don’t normally like artificially sweetened green tea (I prefer it plain/hot or cold), I shook up the bottle with some Tacoma tap water and took a swig. Taking one for the team, right? (generally the motto of our website) The concoction was not undrinkable, but a cloying mixed of faux lemon, whatever additives are added for “energy” and that classic Splenda twang. The drink doesn’t have a terribly appealing color, which is probably why most energy drinks choose to come it a totally blacked out aluminum can.

Which celebrity should endorse an instant artificially sweetened iced tea mix? It’s not Jackie Chan.

Also, Jackie Chan, I see like so many aged, overweight women on social media sites, you’re also using an outdated profile pic that doesn’t accurately represent your current physical shape. However your Google+ stream brought a much needed smile to my face. Especially after drinking your green tea mix.

Come back next week when I’ve probably received a cease-and-desist letter from Jackie Chan’s agent!

Bonus: The product page for Jackie’s iced tea also features interpretations of the Chinese Zodiac symbols:

Eff you, rabbits.

“Possibly when you are using a whip and chair on them.”

Goodbye Tacoma Saar’s Marketplace on Pearl

Written on July 1st, 2012 by
Categories: Updates

As you may or may not know, the Saar’s Marketplace in Tacoma on Pearl Street finally closed last month. On our last trip in May, we ended up buying 10+ bottles of wine and picked over the remaining goods. This Saar’s always had the most food we were just never willing to try.

Farewell Saar’s on Pearl, we hardly knew ye.



 

Big Island Candies Corn Chip Crunch Bar

Written on April 19th, 2012 by
Categories: Food

Product: Big Island Candies Corn Chip Crunch Bar
Price: Free (Ben liberated it from his company’s snack jar)

Even though Hawaii is the 13th best travel destination in the world according to “Traveleye.com” (which apparently has such an eye for travel that they ranked Orlando, Florida number on the list), I’ve never been there, partly due to the fact that I am a shut-in whose alabaster skin crisps like bacon at even the faintest hint of sunlight. Nevertheless, as a food adventurer, I’m always looking to broaden my culinary horizons and venture across the Pacific to my neighbors in the west. It’s perfect for today’s product, a chocolate treat that Ben picked up from work

I started where any typical American tourist would go: The FAQ page of the Hawaii Tourism Authority website.

Who knew that I don’t even need a passport to visit this tropical paradise because it’s a part of the United States? And they accept US Dollars?! Hot damn! And did you know that anytime of year is a good time to visit Hawaii? That’s unlike the Pacific Northwest where the answer usually is “sometime in June” or frankly “never”.

If you’re sick of co-workers bringing back Hawaiian Host chocolate covered macadamias or repulsed that they brought you Spam flavored nuts, but you’re still looking for a sweet AND salty fix, Big Island Candies Corn Chip Crunch Bar might just be the treat for you.

The Corn Chip Crunch Bar is described by Big Island Candies (or for my sake, BIC) as a “crunchy, sweet and salty delight. With a peanut center filled with corn chips and covered in milk chocolate, you will definitely enjoy this new confection.” I’ve pretty much resigned to calling it “Fritos ‘n’ Chocolate.”

The crunchy, creamy, sweet and salty combo is a pleasant surprise. While I would never think about putting chips in a chocolate bar (Doritos, you’re next) BIC has pulled off a successful junk food fusion that will probably contribute to my beginning stages of heart disease.

(Ben: It’s not secret that Marisa and I are total nuts for savory corn based snacks. I just can’t stuff enough of them into my face fast enough to satisfy my love of the crunchy corny goodness but that’s neither here nor there since none of them came doused in a liberal amount of rich chocolaty chocolate.)

Speaking of corn snacks – if you’re ever feeling adventurous and want to blend some more random foods with your favorite corn chips, check out the Fritos brand recipe page. You can create culinary delights such as: FRITOS® Ranch Chicken Delight, Apple Hash and Pumpkin Gravy FRITOS® Pie or Hawaii-inspired Hawaiian Pineapple Ham FRITOS® Pie. If you don’t like it, maybe the kiddos will or your dog. Also, dear Fritos: the chips don’t count as part of the recipe if you’re serving them on the side.

Big Island Candies also feature loads of other delicious looking chocolate that I am too cheap to buy, so try some out and let me know what you think!

Biscoff Spread

Written on April 10th, 2012 by
Categories: Food

Product: Biscoff Spread (Creamy)
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (North Tacoma/6th Ave.)
Price:
$1.99

America is all about recreating food into the most easily eatable forms. May I draw your attention to Easy Cheese, Wrigley’s Extra Dessert Delights Gum and of course, KFC’s Double Down. However, the product I’ll be reviewing this weekend is a little red-lidded jar that comes to us all the way from Belgium. Spoiler Alert: This, my friends, is creamy sugary delicious in spread form (no offense Nutella). This is Biscoff Cookie Spread.

As many products that originate in foreign lands, I was initially unaware of what Biscoff actually was before purchasing this product. They’re a small cookie that features sweet blend of cinnamon and caramel flavor that are great with coffee and let you sip and extend your pinky in proper sipping fashion. Now take that a step further: this spread is literally pulverized cookies in spreadable form so you can forget about even using those jaw muscles you have and the arduous task of eating cookies one bite at a time. The label/jar even suggest the truly outrageous idea of dipping a Biscoff cookie into Biscoff spread for a Biscoff explosion of flavor.

Since it mainly consists of dairy & egg-free cookies and oil for smoothing it all out, Biscoff Spread is also vegan and nut-free (it’s the same color as peanut butter but don’t be fooled). Everyone can enjoy sweet European indulgence! They also have a crunchy variety but I have yet to locate it in any local stores (hint to PR folks at Biscoff reading this).

You know how all the Nutella commercials have kids spreading the stuff on bread, waffles and other bland breakfast items? You don’t do that with Biscoff. You take a huge dollop directly from the jar and savor that while you veg out in front the computer or couch (Ben will know this).

Trader Joe’s actually featured a very similar seasonal product recently for Winter 2011 called Speculoos Cookie Butter. It’s the same concept using traditional European Speculoos cookie and pulverized into a creamy spread. If you can’t find Biscoff spread, I would suggest seeing if you local TJs has it. It’s been rumored it’s been reappearing…plus anything worthy of a Facebook Fan Page must be in high demand (Biscoff Spread also has one too).

According to Biscoff’s website, the spread is currently available at Walmart, Paris Grocery Seattle, Giant Food Stores and Cost Plus World Market (though at CPWM it costs $5 as I found out last week). Check it out!

 

Snap-N-Glow Pops

Written on April 5th, 2012 by
Categories: Food

Meh, I ingest enough chemicals as it is.

Product: Snap-N-Glow Pops
Purchased at: Valley Liquidation
Price: 50 cents a bag (2 lollipops/bag)

Ah, novelty sweets – not so much about the candy but the plastic/colorized/motorized container it’s in. From the ever illustrious Ring Pop to the classic Batman spin pop (because what’s more intimidating that the Dark Knight with a giant pink lollipop whirling around above his head), you’re essentially paying for the packaging over the pop. Hence, I had no qualms over dropped 50 cents on a set of suckers that are literally supported by a plastic tube filled with glowing chemicals.

“Snap-N-Glow Pops” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not the pop that glows, just the stick. And it’s not just that: they’re dim and hard to crack as well. But thanks to Koko’s Confectionery & Novelty (A Division of A & A Global Industries), we now have a product that can serve as both a candy and a disaster preparedness item and/or accessory at an all-night rave.

In a drastic turn from my usual gluttonous style, I didn’t finished eating this product; I didn’t even go past two licks. The hard (yet oddly squishy) had almost fused entirely with their outer plastic wrap and after dealing with that, I was left with an old, outdated sucker that reminded me a lot of those that you purchase from an obnoxious kid through a school fundraising effort. Neither the blue raspberry nor lemon had any outstanding qualities other than being terrible.

Guess I’m just a sucker for disappointment.

Lucas Pelon Roller Tamarind

Written on March 2nd, 2012 by
Categories: Food

Product: Lucas Pelon Roller Tamarind
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (Lakewood)
Price: 8/$1 or around 13 cents each

I’d like to think I’m somewhat of an Andrew Zimmern of the grocery store, but instead of indulging in durian (me: done), snake penis (me: maybe) and balut (me: no way), I sample possibly expired treats, discontinued finds and occasionally unfamiliar territory. Also, Mr. Zimmern – you owe me big time for blatantly advertising your show right there.

I’m not too familiar with Hispanic candies, though I’ve browsed through popular choices like hot & spicy mango lollipops and those little tubs of flavored powder at our local market (they also sell pork rinds [chicharones] here at big as your forearm – Atkins dieters rejoice). So as something that’s previously unfamiliar to me, I’ll be using Google and Wikipedia to do some research; I’m also writing this at 5am so it’s a bit of déjà vu from my college years (thank you Wikipedia for helping me spell déjà vu right there).

What you may not know is, over the past few years a variety of candies have been removed from shelves due to possible lead contamination in the packaging. I noticed this list had “Pelon roller tamarind flavored syrup candy” on it – so I hope I don’t get an extra surprise with my purchase. For those of you worried about me, Wikipedia notes “As of July 2008, this and other similar Mexican candies are safe to eat.”

Tamarind isn’t widely used in American candy (then again, neither is spicy chili powder), but it’s the main component of this candy. The liquid tamarind roller candy is so popular it even has its own Wikipedia page.

Even those this candy is a liquid (sugar, water, glucose, chili powder, citric acid, xanthan gum, and tamarind extract), you don’t squeeze it into your mouth as much as you roll it with the circular application tip. Without risking this sounding like a set of tampon instructions, I’ll stop right there for my sake.

Contrary to the label that the candy is “Mucho Fun!”, it smelled and tasted like the sticky liquid you find pooled and encrusted underneath the ketchup, mustard and mayo bottles sitting in your fridge door. It was not an enjoyable experience, so suffice to say, it was no mucho fun. The brown color of the syrupy liquid didn’t really help that fact.

Now I expect to get some feedback from folks who have grown up with this candy and love it to death, but it really didn’t jive with me. I don’t care for the idea of any liquid candy and I think the tamarind flavor works much better in drinks and other foods.

Grocery Outlet (in Lakewood) still has a whole mess of these sitting in their candy aisle, waiting to be purchased by adventurous people like our dear readers. Try one if you’re inclined to roll a sticky, sour liquid on tongue (that’s all the innuendo you get for today). Happy Friday!