Monday, December 26, 2016

Bourbon Balls!

When people from elsewhere in the world find out I’m from Kentucky there’s a pretty good chance they’ll mention Kentucky bourbon. There’s also a chance they’ll mention horses, University of Kentucky Basketball, hillbillies, or, if they’re from Japan, Kentucky Fried Chicken. All of those things deserve their own posts – especially the Japanese love of KFC – but today we’re talking about bourbon. And when you talk to me about bourbon, you’re going to hear about it the way I like it. See, I don’t take my bourbon in a glass, friend, I take it the way the Good Lord intended. I take it in a ball; a delicious candy ball!

They’ve been brewing bourbon corn whiskey in my home state since at least the 1800s but it took until 1938 for someone to figure out the best way to serve it. That someone was Ruth Hanley Booe of Rebecca Ruth Candy. She’s the mad genius who first mixed that devil liquor into heavenly chocolate truffle candies with a kick. Seventy-eight years later you can still get bourbon balls straight from the original source. My wife and I ordered up some from Rebecca Ruth via A Taste of Kentucky and they took me right back to Christmas at my grandmamma’s house. 

My grandma is no longer with us, nor is my aunt who often made bourbon balls for the holiday get-togethers, but the box that came in the mail was full of tasty little time machines and I got to kinda-sorta pay them both a visit.

I’m spending the holidays in Los Angeles this year but, thanks to bourbon balls from Rebecca Ruth (and a Bourbon Balls tee shirt from Kentucky For Kentucky) my heart isn’t the only part of me that’s back home.

Monday, November 28, 2016

chuao CHOCOLATIER (Don't blame me. That's how they spell it.)

Chuao calls themselves a “chocolatier” and puts out some highfalutin’ candy bars. Check out this fancy motherf’er right here:

Honeycomb? Are you kidding me? The package claims it’s, “Luscious amber honey, caramelized into crisp bits and enrobed in dark chocolate”.  “Luscious”?  “Amber honey”? “Enrobed in dark chocolate”? Enrobed? Are you freaking kidding me? I know one man’s elegant is another man’s gaudy but by any standard that’s pretty florid talk for something you can buy at a Ralph’s so I tried it with one mocking pinky sticking straight out like an old British lady at a posh tea party. (Or at least that’s kind of how I remember them doing it on that one season of Downton Abby I half watched with my wife.)

Well, the package might have set me off on a rant but the taste shut me up real quick. I hate to admit it but the “chuao honeycomb” (yeah, those pretentious bastards spell it in all lowercase like so much e.e. cummings) was mighty tasty. Turns out dark chocolate mixed with a strong honey flavor is pretty great. I could do without the attitude but, after actually eating one, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

In fact, I liked it so much I tried their “baconluxious” bar.

“Delicate maple sweetness, a sprinkle of bonfire smoked sea salt and crispy, uncured bacon in milk chocolate”. Give me a break. But, again, the candy turned out to be damned delicious. The salt brings out the chocolate’s sweetness in a very nice way and the hint of bacon flavor is always welcome in my mouth.

“chuao” might be pretentious but I’m giving them a pass. Their stuff is too good not to eat. I am going to wolf it down double-fisted like a cretin, though. Consider it my little protest against candy bar pomposity.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Monster Musings

We’re deeply divided by many issues but I think there’s one thing upon which we can all agree: Igor was a terrible lab assistant. Dr. Frankenstein sent him out to get dead body parts to make his monster and the best head Igor could come up with was one with a flattop skull? (And, by-the-way, how did that guy die? Was he beaten to death with a shovel? Did an Acme safe fall on him? Frankenstein’s monster definitely raises more questions than he answers.)

Also, I’m not surprised that Doctor Frankenstein had to go into mad science. Have you seen the stitchwork on his monster? No respectable hospital would hire that guy.

I think a good defense against Dracula is to carry a red magic marker. That way when he shows up you can put two red dots on your neck. Then you’re pretty safe because, yuck, leftovers.

Speaking of Dracula, I’ll bet when Drac sees modern vampires he just shakes his head and wonders, “When did people stop dressing for dinner?”

Cut witches some slack, man. Think how “wicked” you’d feel if you had to do your morning commute hanging 200 feet in the air with all your bodyweight crushing a broomstick into your crotch.

Everyone who lived in the Black Lagoon resented the fact that it was only known as the hometown of The Creature. “What about the natural beauty of the unspoiled jungle?” they wondered. “What about the new arts center out on Highway 9?” 

These random thoughts about monster have been brought to you by the pile of Halloween candy I just ate. Yeah, let's blame it on the sugar rush.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Trick or Treat!

I like to eat my seasonal candy in season. I mean, who wants candy corn on the 4th of July? (Some would say that sentence should end after the word “corn” but I strongly disagree.)  Who wants a chocolate bunny on Thanksgiving? That would just be weird. For a junk food junky, that is. Not so much if you’re in the candy corn and chocolate bunny business. If you’re those guys – you know, "Big Candy" – then it wouldn’t be weird, it would be diversification. But what if you’ve got a brand completely associated with a specific holiday? How do you keep the brand recognition that will entice consumers while still making it appropriate for the new holiday to which you’re attempting to branch out? A couple of companies found themselves a way: Halloween costumes. Yep. Essentially what the Peeps people and the Cadbury Egg company have done is take those iconic Easter concoctions and put them in Halloween costumes.

Cadbury, for example, is selling a straight up Cadbury Easter Egg for Halloween this year. Seriously. Check this out:

It’s exactly what you get at Easter; looks the same, tastes the same. The only difference is they’ve injected some green dye into the candy “yolk” and wrapped the whole thing in bright foil that says “Screme Egg”. Screme, get it? Yeah, you get it. 

Seems like a blatant money grab. Still, the fact that it tastes just like a regular Cadbury Egg is probably a good thing for Cadbury Egg fans. Now you can get them twice as many times a year.

Peeps went at least a little farther. I mean, the cute little chick shape seems extremely odd at Halloween-time but at least they bothered to add some new fall flavors. 

Candy corn tastes a lot like candy corn. 

Pumpkin spice is both kind of spicy and kind of pumpkiny.

And the caramel apple flavor has the tartness of a green apple and the buttery sweetness of caramel.

Well done, Peeps! (Though, for my money, if they wanted to really do a Halloween Peep and keep it chick-shaped they should have left it plain yellow but given it a liquid cherry center. That way when you bite into the bird, “blood” would run out of your mouth and down your chin. Scary.)

So now you have a chance to enjoy a couple of your favorite Easter treats in their Halloween costumes.  I’ve actually taken the concept and run with it. As previously discussed, I love peppermint ice cream at Christmas but it’s tough to find because the stuff sells out fast. This year Dreyers rushed the season and it showed up at my local Ralph’s in early October. As I said, I like to eat my candy treats in season but this stuff would have been freezer burned by Thanksgiving. What to do? Well, I took a cue from Big Candy and gave my bowl of ice cream its own Halloween costume. A few plastic witch fingers and now I’ve got me some Halloween Peppermint Ice Cream!

It’s genius! Or stupid. Who cares? I’m eating peppermint ice cream in October, man. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

DQ Royal Blizzard

I don’t go to the Macaroni Grill anymore. I got sick of the waiters writing their names upside down with a crayon on the paper “table cloths” when they introduced themselves at the table. That signature (in both senses of the word) trick just seemed like showing off. Could have been my hunger talking, I guess, but it made me want to slap that stupid crayon right out of their stupid hands.

I feel exactly the same way when the folks at Dairy Queen turn the Blizzard cup upside down before handing it to me. I know they think they’re proving that the soft serve inside is properly thick and all but, to me, they’re just wasting time being smug when I could be digging into that rich and creamy goodness. Blizzards are so ridiculously delicious, though, that I’ll put up with some obnoxious behavior just to get my hands on one but, for the record, I do it under protest. 

I guess I’ll be doing it more often than normal now because DQ has a new(ish) kind of Blizzard that I just got around to trying. They call it the “Royal Blizzard”. I’m still not sure how adding filling to the middle confers royal status upon a thing but it can’t help but make it more delicious so you know I’m all in. Here’s what the Royal Oreo Blizzard is supposed to look like:

Check out that treasure trove of filling just waiting to be excavated and enjoyed!

Well, here’s how mine looked in real life:

Where the hell is my fudge? Oh. Wait. There it is. 

It seems to have coagulated and migrated into and throughout the Blizzard proper. Maybe that Dairy Queen -- whoever she is -- should get the royal scientists to work on some kind of fudge containment system if they want to advertise a “fudge center” as opposed to “widely dispersed little fudge blobby things” like I got.

Still, Oreo Blizzards are awesome and adding blobs of fudge to the blended Oreo cookies only makes them more awesome so, like I do with the cocky way the thing is served to me, I’ll put up with a less-than-perfect-looking treat just to get my even-better Blizzard fix. 

I'm not sure, but I think DQ and I might be in an unhealthy relationship.