Monday, October 17, 2016

READER REVIEW: Timothy's Review of Tillamook White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Thanks to a low carb diet, the ice cream consumption has been pretty rare over the past few months. About a week back, I received an email from my friend Becky at Tillamook regarding their new Seasonal Flavors. She wanted to send them to me to sample. If you are going to break a low carb diet, might as well do it with some Tillamook ice cream! I came home Tuesday to find a box on my porch. Included in this box were 2 flavors. Pumpkin Cookie Butter, and White Chocolate Peppermint Bark.

After sampling the Pumpkin Cookie Butter, I scooped out some of the White Chocolate Peppermint Bark next. This flavor is described as, "White chocolate ice cream swirled with peppermint crackle and bark pieces." Sounded delicious! I am a pretty big fan of mint type ice creams so I was very excited to try this one.

I removed the lid and noticed the white chocolate base as well as some streaks of pink and a couple of pieces of chocolate peeking through the top. I scooped myself out a bowl and dug in! First was great! The peppermint really came through in the first bite. Not as powerful as the "pumpkin spice" of the other flavor, but the peppermint flavor was nice and cool and refreshing. Reminded me of eating a candy cane or an Andes mint almost. After the initial blast of peppermint, you could get a hint of the white chocolate. As usual, the Tillamook ice cream was incredibly smooth. As I was eating it, you could clearly see the pink swirls of peppermint in the base! It was visually appealing to eat the whole way through. Eventually, I encountered a couple of pieces of "bark" as well as some chocolate pieces. The bark provided a nice crunch and the chocolate pieces were rich and delicious. Like the other pint though, the mix in pieces (bark/cookies) were kind of skimp. I would have preferred more of them. Even without as many mix ins as I usually prefer, this ice cream was still fantastic! I liked it way better than the Pumpkin Cookie Butter! My wife liked this one a lot better, too!

READER REVIEW: Timothy's Review of Tillamook Pumpkin Cookie Butter

Thanks to a low carb diet, the ice cream consumption has been pretty rare over the past few months. About a week back, I received an email from my friend Becky at Tillamook regarding their new Seasonal Flavors. She wanted to send them to me to sample. If you are going to break a low carb diet, might as well do it with some Tillamook ice cream! I came home Tuesday to find a box on my porch. Included in this box were 2 flavors. Pumpkin Cookie Butter, and White Chocolate Peppermint Bark.

I decided to try out the Pumpkin Cookie Butter first. This flavor is described as “Spiced pumpkin ice cream swirled with speculoos cookie pieces”. When my wife first saw this, she was incredibly excited. She is all about the holiday “pumpkin spice” type items. We opened this container and noticed the light brown base. I could see a few tiny pieces of cookies just below the surface. I took a bite in and was kind of overwhelmed. The pumpkin spice flavor was really, really strong. It put me off at first, but after eating a few more bites, it got better. Tillamook ice cream is always incredibly smooth, and this was in the same boat. I eventually got to the little cookie pieces. They were swirled in throughout the ice cream. They were very soft and provided a decent texture. I just wish that there were more of them. I made my way through my two scoops and that was plenty for me.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review: Exploring Mochidoki

After being introduced to the ice cream novelty known as mochi earlier this year, we've been presented with the opportunity to try a few different brands and post our results. Our latest experience was with Mochidoki. Before we even broke into the box, we took a second to appreciate the packaging and take note of their slogan: imagination in every bite.

Mochidoki offers their products by flavor and collections. We were introduced to two collections -- the Taste of Thailand and the Tropical. The first carefully packaged box contained the Taste of Thailand. Each of these four flavors were carefully constructed around the Thailand theme and all bursting with flavor. My personal favorite was the Ginger Zing, but they were all bold in flavor and properly named.

The second was a collection called Tropical and focused around island fruit-filled ice creams. The Mandarin Orange Cream mochi was my personal favorite from this batch, had a nostalgic creamsicle feel, and was well constructed with proper high quality ingredients. The fresh, tart flavor of the Passionfruit variety ended up being the most explosive of them all, but every bite of each mochi was highly enjoyable. Eight total mochi pieces was just not enough! We will placing additional orders in the future in hopes of trying their entire lineup.

READER REVIEW: Steve's Review of Oak Farms Moose Tracks

The Blue Bell brand was the dominant ice cream in Louisiana, so when the listeria crisis knocked it from the shelves last year, it literally left a gaping hole in the ice cream offerings of Louisiana grocers. During that time, some stores filled that gap with Oak Farms ice cream, a brand that also hails from Texas. And even after Blue Bell's return, Oak Farms tubs have lingered on some shelves. So after months of hesitation, I decided to splurge on a tub of their "Moose Tracks" variety. That's because to me, Moose Tracks is like fried chicken, it's hard to mess it up! How do you not combine vanilla ice cream, fudge ribbons, and peanut butter cups in a way that doesn't taste good? So how does the Oak Farms version stack up?

Cracking open the lid, things look promising. The vanilla base has a nice shad to it, and you also see a nice thick band of fudge. No peanut butter cups poking through, but plunge in the spoon and you find those too. So far, pretty good. Alas, when you start to eat the ice cream, the tastebuds-reality doesn't quite live up to the visuals. The main culprit here is the vanilla base. This base looks and tastes more like a kind of ice-milk or non-dairy product than actual ice cream. It is fluffy, and lacks any real depth of creaminess. It just kind of melts on the palate like ice milk does. In contrast, the fudge ribbon tastes adequate enough, and the peanut butter cups I actually compare favorably to Blue Bell's "Happy Tracks" version. They aren't frozen, and they are large enough that you get a real peanut butter center that you can taste in your mouth. But even here, there is a problem, namely that the fudge ribbon and peanut butter cups are just not very much in evidence. In fact, after breaking through the first two or so inches of the tub, you then encounter a dystopian "core" of almost pure vanilla that permeates much of the midsection of the container. Not good!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

READER REVIEW: Nathan's Review of Kroger's Pumpkin Pie

When it comes to fall, there are several things that remind me of the changing season, and the biggest indicator of the changing season is the varieties of pumpkin flavored foods that come out. While I was in my local Fred Meyer grocery store, I saw this front and center and thought I would give it a try. So many companies try and "replicate" the pumpkin flavor but too often it tastes artificial.

Monday, July 25, 2016

READER REVIEW: Steve's Review of Blue Bell Cookie Two Step

It's been almost a year since Blue Bell returned to the market, and to longtime fans like myself, one of the disappointments has been the very slow pace of flavor introductions. Blue Bell, once famous for making many crazy and exotic flavors, has stuck to the basics and has been slow to release any new flavors at all in recent months. So I was happy to see the announcement that Cookie Two-Step would be entering the market. While this flavor is billed as a combination of their cookies and cream and chocolate chip cookie dough flavors, it at least indicates a tentative step towards expanding the product line. So how does this flavor taste?

Any time two existing flavors are combined, the hope is that the whole will be greater than the combination of the parts. In this case, this could happen in one of two ways. First, Cookie Two-Step might contain the same amount of cookie chunks and cookie dough pieces found in the two parent ice creams. This would mean we are drowning in a plethora of mix-ins that far exceeds what is found in either of them. So 2+2 = 4! Or conversely, maybe Cookie Two-Step contains only half the amount of cookie chunks and cookie dough found in the parent ice creams, but there is a synergy that occurs when chunks and dough combine in the mouth that creates a taste superior to either alone. In this case 2 x 2 = 4! Either way, we win with a flavor better than either parent.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

REVIEW: Exploring Yeti's Frozen Custard

After beginning our blog way back when, we immediately cruised through all the classic flavors from the most accessible major manufacturers. Since then we've added companies from all over the country, reviewing hundreds of ice creams and novelty products. Some are good, some are slightly below average, some are just plain weird, and then some are great. Let me preface this review, by saying the following review falls under the great category.

To learn a little background about Yeti Frozen Custard, we turn to their webpage, "Yeti started with a food truck, a BIG idea and a lot of hard work. In 2013, after a lot of testing and creative brainstorming we landed on something BIG...real BIG. By fusing together, modern day artistic flavors and old-fashioned frozen custard, we would create unique flavor combinations that tingle your tastebuds and make people happy. Since Co-Founding Yeti Frozen Custard, Andrea "Andy" Ramos continues to experiment with recipes to create new flavors to share with our customers. Yeti was created in Austin, Texas, but is now available nationwide. Look for Yeti in the frozen food isle of select grocery stores! We're confident that after your first taste, you’ll agree there is nothing that compares to Yeti Frozen Custard! It's OUT THERE!"

A few short emails and before we knew it, we had a plethora of different Yeti Frozen Custard pints sitting at our disposal. Andy had included two cartons of each flavor, something we'd appreciate even more after tasting them.

"As a trained culinary chef, Andy Ramos starts each new batch of frozen custard with all natural ingredients. Fresh milk, thick cream, eggs, cane sugar makes for the base as other ingredients make their way into the mix. After much tasting, adjusting, adding and taking away the blend gets poured into a specialized custard machine that only introduces a minimal amount of air into the frozen treat to ensure the creamiest custard with smaller ice crystals than ice cream or gelato. The result is nothing short of an unforgettable experience that brings a smile to faces."

The full flavor lineup is made up of: Roasted Strawberry, Blueberry Pancake, Cinnamon Toast, Coffee House, Lemon Lavender, Bourbon Vanilla, Mint Chocolate (not included), and Chocolate. Here are some short notes for each flavor along with how we ranked them in descending order of how we ranked them.

We begin our breakdown of Yeti Frozen Custard with their Chocolate flavor. In addition to making top-notch custard, Yeti also includes interesting snippets about each flavor printed directly on the carton.

Tall, dark and mysterious. Tall like the tales you've heard surrounding our legendary pints. Dark like the rich, chocolaty contents. As for mysterious? The Yeti may lurk in the shadows, but our frozen cutard doesn't have to remain a mystery for long. Because here it is, in the cold light of day, just waiting to be uncovered. Yes, you've stumbled upon the most delicious, creamy custard known to man. Or beast. 

Serving as our first sample of Yeti's consistency, we were blown away. While a thick, heavy mouth-feel can be expected with frozen custard, this is among the best we've seen. Each pint is heavy, full of volume, and lets the fresh ingredients do the talking. Mix that formula with a simple, but effective infusion of milk chocolate and this served a great introduction to Yeti's frozen custard.

Chocolate Ranking: 7th out of 7

Cinnamon Toast sure sounded promising, as most breakfast related ice creams do, and although we've seen waffle and pancake inspired flavors before, we were excited about seeing this expand to another breakfast staple.

Dessert for breakfast? You must be some kind of monster. Either that or you've got one monstrously huge sweet tooth. In any case, here it is before you, in the cold light of the frozen dessert aisle -- the breakfast of your dreams. Now in smooth, creamy custard form. Just don't linger too long or you'll freeze your tail off (if you had one). Of course, Yetis never linger too long in one place, lest the mystery melt away. And nobody wants that.

The incredible consistency comes to the forefront far before the flavor takes hold of your taste buds, which gets every pint from Yeti off to a very good start. As the creamy custard breaks down, the familiar taste of cinnamon sugar starts revealing itself. Our only gripe would be that we could have used even more of the unique flavor profile to set it far apart from a standard sweet cream base.

Cinnamon Toast Ranking: 6th out of 7

Roasted Strawberry was the next pint to walk the plank. It's rare that you'll hear us rave about a strawberry-only base with no other mix-ins, but the feel of frozen custard and the rich, taste of roasted strawberry quickly changes our tune.

You were hot on the trail. And then it went cold. Not just cold, ice cold. And that's a good thing, because it means you're getting awfully close. Yes, you're on the verge of discovering a treat so sweet with its roasted strawberries and velvety smooth texture that it'll send chills running down your spine. Either that, or something's behind you - and you were dangerously close to finding something much larger than a pint of frozen custard.

Again, the consistency takes center stage here. It's becoming quickly apparent to us that when something has this type of feel, even simple flavors can end up far above average. This is no different as the aforementioned velvety smooth texture allows the roasted strawberry taste to full develop within each spoonful.

Roasted Strawberry Ranking: 5th out of 7

Enjoying an iced coffee is a morning ritual in my household, so Yeti's Coffee House immediately peaked my interest, and also gave us another reason to eat frozen custard for breakfast.

Baristas need not apply. You won't find the creamiest frozen coffee known to man at the cozy shop around the corner. For this, you must venture a little bit out of your comfort zone. But this pint-sized delight you hold in your hands? Well worth the journey, we say. And proof that magic still exists in the frozen dessert aisle. As for that large figure shrouded in white? Could it be? Well, let's jsut say you haven't had our coffee yet.

Considering I like both cream and sugar in my iced coffee, this pint of Coffee House was right up my alley. It combined caffeinated bliss with creamy custard to create one of the best base-only coffee flavors we've ever tasted.

Coffee House Ranking: 4th out of 7

After tasting our way through two-thirds of the traditional Neapolitan trio, we were on to Bourbon Vanilla.

Better make this one a double. In fact, go ahead and make it a pint. Because this cold, creamy custard is too smooth for its own good. And much too good for just one scoop. Of course, being this smooth requires practice. It's an art, really - an art the Yeti has just about perfected. That snowy son of a gun is so smooth it hasn't been spotted by human eyes for a thousand years. Well, not officially, anyway.

Bourbon Vanilla was far more effective than we originally thought possibly. The quirky description touched on its smoothness, but couldn't nearly do it justice. While every flavor showcases the phenomenal consistency, this one seemed to do it slightly better. The result was a vanilla so rich that it reminded us of many of the cream-cheese inspired flavors we've sampled. The hints of booze on the back end of each bite really brought this full-circle.

Bourbon Vanilla Ranking: 3rd out of 7

Lemon inspired flavors don't sit well with every single ice cream consumer, but for those of us that enjoy them, the enjoyment is hard to describe. Add in some lavender and we were elated to sample some of Yeti's sour side.

Lemons aren't the only thing you've been lied to about. When life hands you lemons, you're not supposed to make lemonade. You're supposed to curl up and dive spoon-first into a pint of cold, creamy custard. Whoever fed you this lie is probably the same person who told you Yetis only dwelled in mythical realms. What if we told you we knew where to find both of these things? Here's a hint: It's cold.

While most consumers expect their mouths to pucker from lemon-flavored ice cream, this is as sweet and smooth as they come. The subtle hints of citrus combined with the creamy feel of custard is about as good as it gets for us lemon-heads. The herbal hints of lavender sets this pint apart from the competition.

Lemon Lavender Ranking: 2nd out of 7

Naturally saving the best breakfast themed frozen custard for last, Blueberry Pancake was the last to try. 

We've got our footprints all over breakfast. But these footprints couldn't possibly be human. And they hardly look like bunny tracks. Mysterious, indeed. Equally mysterious - how we transformed one of your favorite breakfasts into the coldest, creamiest custard known to man. Yes, there are two delicious mysteries at hand here. We're confident you'll get to the bottom of at least one of them.

The first layer had us licking our chops, and it only got better as we dug in. The bold flavors of blueberry and maple syrup shoved together in this carton not only produce a taste unlike any other, but the aesthetics and scent are just as powerful. Combine all the above with the consistency we've been bragging about this entire post, and we have something truly special. Usually it would be a hard decision to crown a clear-cut winner, we had no issues.

Blueberry Pancake Ranking: 1st out of 7

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