Monday, May 28, 2012

Lotus Root Chips at Burma Superstar

I just got back from a weekend in California’s bay area and I had a blast! Did lots of dancing and came across some amazing tastes as well. One notable place in Oakland is Burma Superstar, specializing in Burmese cuisine, which is a mix of neighbor’s influences (i.e. India, China, Laos, and Thailand).

For an appetizer, I shared lotus root chips with my friend (Terrible picture, I know, but its what I got!). Thinly sliced lotus roots, which look like uncooked chicharones de harina, are fried until they turn a golden burnt orange, then seasoned to perfection with chili and salt. Delicious, simple and amazing! You can’t just have 5 or 6 of these chips because with the large holes in the root, you have to eat at 20 to equal a heaping handful of regular potato chips.

We also ordered the Burma Cooler: Ginger and lemon mixed into beer. At first we found all those bitter tastes too much for our palate. In fact, the Burma Cooler was bordering on unpleasant, but I’m not one to waste beer so I was drinking it anyway. After we started on our entrees and adding all the tangy, sweet, salty flavors to our tongue, and especially after the yummy garlic sautéed pea leaves (Say what? Yeah.), the Burma Cooler’s bitterness melted into a yummy, smooth palate cleanser. It was like a ginger-lemon wine cooler, easy to drink and flavorful, but not overpowering.

The rest of the food was great, too. They don’t have a huge selection of beers on their list, but a few microbrews and I don’t remember seeing any of the major brands available.

Burma Superstar!
4721 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609

Friday, May 25, 2012

Zapp's New Orleans Style Kettle Voodoo Potato Chips

Perusing through Cost Plus World Market, I found a bag of chips I recognized from my Austin trips a couple of years ago. For two years in a row, I visited a friend in Austin, and as I am prone to do, I would go the store and pick up bags of potato chips that looked yummy and interesting. I think I may have bought and tasted these chips then, but I couldn’t remember whether I liked them or not. So, flash back to the aisle in World Market, I decided to grab a bag: What the heck!? Then, I discovered that there were two additional Louisiana-inspired flavors, so I bought all three bags.

Open bag. Select a chip. Initial crunch followed by some chewing. I usually follow that up with a double-chip taste just so I can get a good sense of the flavor, but that wasn’t necessary with these chips. They were potently flavored! Once you open the bag you are assaulted by the salty, tangy smell. Then the first bite was so salty that I felt my tongue tingle and wither like a snail when you sprinkle salt on it (Don’t try that at home. It’s a mean thing to do.) . Man! And don’t get me wrong the flavor was good: Slightly sweet, tangy and salty or how about this: Seasoned rice vinegar with seasoned salt. But it was just too strong. They could have cut it down 50% and had a nice flavorful, crisp chip. I will admit that a day or two after opening the bag, the chips were easier to eat. Maybe they just needed to air out a bit? But they were still really strong. These get 2 out of 4 potatoes.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lay's Classic BLT

My BFF, Dante (of Dantania) found these chips at his local liquor store (a great place to discover new and limited release chips) and saved them for me. The next chance we got to hang out, we sat in my car, cracked open the bag and gave them a go.
I tried one chip, then I had to try two at a time to really get the flavor. My tongue sent this information back up to my brain: Sour cream and onion with bacon flavored salad topper thingees. Not particularly pleasant. Not something I'd like to repeat.
What was your take on these chips, Dante?

Dante: I felt lied to. A BLT is like one of the best sandwiches ever and the fact that I didn’t taste B, L, or T was shocking. When I first bit into one I said “Hotdogs.” I think at the factory they just had some random flavor sitting around and asked someone “What does this taste like?” and they said “Bacon.” Then they went home laughing at the fact that Lays believed them. Even the multiple method didn’t work for me. I hope 7/11 has this flavor done the right way.

Oh, yeah! You did taste those 7-11 hot dog chips with me! They were good! Have you found any other chips of note in liquor stores?

Dante: Not yet but I will keep you posted. The latest thing I have seen there but haven’t tried yet was the Cheeto’s Popcorn. This is a product that was out when I was a kid and I wonder if they’ve managed to make it taste good. Companies are sneaking old products onto shelves. When they bring back bacon flavored Cheeto’s my heart will jump with joy.

Thanks for tasting potato chips with me and I hope your chip dreams come true! I give these chips 1 out of 4 potatoes.

Sudsy Joints: Village Idiot

Village Idiot
7383 Melrose Avenue, 90046 (Beer list on website)

I’ve eaten at Village Idiot a couple times, but it wasn’t until recently that I paid attention to their beer menu. They have an interesting selection in bottles and on tap. The only typical beers are Guinness, Pacifico, Bud and Beck’s, but they are the outliers on a list full of microbrews and imports. That makes me happy. You can go to the corner store and get a Miller, Bud or Heineken, but I think sudsy joints, are the places you can go to find beers that are harder to find, full of interesting flavor and mixing different styles, and ingredients to create a-typical brews.
Other than their interesting selection, Village Idiot also has a list of Mixed Suds. I want to try a few different things on this list, but in warmer weather, sitting by the restaurant’s very large windows looking out at the fashion victims and fashionistas of Melrose, I have found myself ordering the light, sweet, refreshing combination called the Snake Bite, 1903 lager and Woodchuck Amber cider. Ahhhh!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reed's Original Ginger Brew

A friend and I went out for Indian food one, fine, sunny day, and they ordered a ginger beer as an accompanying beverage. I knew I must have tried it at least once, but I couldn’t remember if I liked ginger beer or not. So I decided to order one, too. The restaurant had two kinds of the same brand, Reed’s Original Ginger Brew, so I went with the lighter one, just in case.

“OU-LA-LA!” said my tongue! It was delicious, crisp and refreshing. Perfect for sitting outside and looking at passerbys on fine, sunny days.

After inspecting the label more thoroughly, I discovered the difference between the two bottles: One was red and held Ginger Beer, the other was yellow and held Ginger Ale. I had the ginger ale. I am already a fan of ginger ale and of course enjoy Canada Dry, but I have come across some other brands, micro brews and homemade ginger ales that are just fantastic. Reed’s All Natural Jamaican Style ginger ale was different than most ginger ales. It still had the basic flavor, but it tastes like it has some spice to it, maybe cloves or allspice… definitely sensed a hint of a mulling flavor, which was a much welcome and pleasing addition.

Reed’s All Natural Jamaican Style Ginger Beer, which my friend let me taste, has a deeper, richer flavor. Maybe ginger beer brews longer than ale. I’ll have to do my research about that. I liked it, but I’m still a ginger ale girl!

Addendum August 31, 2012:

Reed's All Natural Jamaican Style Ginger Beer is available at Trader Joe's and has been my summer refresher beverage for the past couple of super hot weeks we've been experiencing in Southern California. Whole Foods carries the Ginger Ale, but I don't make it there quite as often as TJ's.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip Rounds

From Trader Joe's May 2012 Fearless Flyer:
Think of these chips as the comestible equivalent of a musical mashup, only instead of pairing the Beastie Boys with Adele, we’ve paired the venerable corn tortilla chip with the orange wonder of the tuber family, sweet potatoes. Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip Rounds have only four ingredients: stone ground yellow corn, sweet potato powder, oil and sea salt.

Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip Rounds (SPTC) are denser- less crispy than regular tortilla chips, making it really a perfect chip for nachos or other heavy chip toppings and/or dips. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the addition of the sweet potato or not, because I've had thick tortilla chips before. Uhm....Yeah, I'll go ahead and venture to say its because of the sweet potato.

The exact ingredient is sweet potato powder: Sweet potato, maltodextrin, corn starch and sunflower lecithin. Sweet potato powder is supposed to be high in fiber, vitamin A, iron and calcium, which are all present in these chips, but not in any sort of exciting amount. Imagine a multi-vitamin tortilla chip? Ha!

SPTCs have a distinctive tuber-y flavor, that is not a mean, bully flavor. It blends very well with the corn flavor.

The question is: Is it worth it to pay $2.49 for chips just because they have sweet potato in them when Trader Joe's has tortilla chips for $1.99, or you can even get tortilla chips from the 99 Cent Store? I would say yes because I'm a chip fanatic, but if I were really being frugal, which I am with almost everything else, I would go with cheaper, 99 Cent Store tortilla chips because they're good.

Tonight I ate SPTC with my Black Bean Salad. They were great with the salad's mix of tangy flavors and mushy textures.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cerveza Club Colombia

I like beer so I was really excited to find that the beer named after the country I recently visited was pretty darn good and was relatively cheap, too. I encountered two kinds, Club Colombia and Club Colombia Roja. I really liked the Roja, but it was harder to come by. So drink up if you’ve got it!
Very much like the difference between Modelo Especial and Modelo Negra, Club Colombia Roja had a more dynamic, mature taste, while the regular Club Colombia is light and refreshing.
If these were available in your local grocer, liquor store or beverage specialty shops fridge, you could interchange them for the Modelo options, but faced with the choice (and the cash to pay for it), I'd choose Club Colombia. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it available stateside, yet.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

7-11 Big Bite Hot Dog Potato Chips

7-11 brand chips are great. They’re cheaper than the name brand right next them on the rack, but they’re right on par with quality and flavor. So when I came across a bag of hot dog flavored chips I didn’t hesitate to buy them. Dante was there, so we cracked open the bag right then.
The first chip was good, you could taste something familiar going on there, but when I did the double-chip taste that’s when it really hit me: Relish, mustard, hot dog! It was pretty amazing that they were able to successfully capture those flavors on the chip, but the really Willy Wonka part (insert link to everlasting gobstopper) about it was how the flavors hit my palate separately. I’m just glad I didn’t blow up into a giant hot dog and have to be rolled away by 7-11 uniform wearing Ooma Loompas.
Dante... Whadayasay?

Dante: I loved these chips! I was afraid to have one of those weird Columbian chicken flavored chips that tasted like Vienna sausages flashback. This was not the case at all. Like you said, the flavor came in waves of taste. 7/11 has rows and rows of chips that I haven’t tried yet. These were a good start.

I gave these 4 out of 4 potatoes!