Product Reviews

  • Product Reviews

    I have seen the future. It’s not great.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Sushi Popper.

    Let me begin by saying: I am not a snobby sushi jerk. I am no stranger to the lure of supermarket sushi. But this? Previously frozen sushi in what is essentially a Push Pop tube?

    Maybe it was just these specific tubes (which were being handed out at Japan Day this past Sunday) that were disappointing. Despite instructions on their site saying the tubes need 1-2 hours at room temperature to defrost, the people manning the table were handing them out almost entirely still frozen and telling people give it a minute or two before eating it. After waiting in line for at least 30 minutes, waiting even longer to eat was not paramount.

    The rice, mushy and salty, defrosted before what was rolled up in it, leaving me with chunks of frozen cucumber to contend with — which was probably for the best. I can’t imagine cucumber, being about 95% water, would defrost especially well. The frozen chunks of avocado and crab in the California rolls did not taste much better.

    But more than that, even if this had been kind of good sushi, do we really need sushi on-the-go? Is the world really crying out for the junk-foodification of sushi? Hands-free sushi to be found “at local stores as well as school cafeterias, campuses, in drive-thru’s [sic], airports, on airplanes, beach resorts, and more”? Can we really not spare the ten minutes it takes to scarf sushi sitting at a table, chopsticks optional?

    If this is your sushi revolution, I think I’ll stay home.

  • Product Reviews

    Traverse Bay Farms Salsas: Is It Good?

    © Traverse Bay Farms



    Not the words that spring to mind when someone says “salsa,” so when Traverse Bay Farms offered to send me a sample pack of their salsas, I had some reservations. (Okay, my hesitation lasted about 30 seconds, and then I was all WOO FREE FOOD about it.)

    Traverse Bay sent along no less than SIX full-sized jars of salsa, one each of their different varieties. Although they’re all said to be “medium-hot,” I found the level of heat varied quite a bit from jar, which you’ll see in a minute.

    So… is it good? Overall, yes. Each salsa was as good or better than a premium (read: non-Tostitos) shelf-stable salsa, although I liked some mush more than others.

    Here’s my official ranking of the six different salsas:

    #1: Pineapple. I was the most uncertain about this one, but I assure you, this was possibly the best salsa I’ve ever eaten. Distinctly fiery and sweet and tart, without one overwhelming the others — like the greatest sweet-and-sour Chinese food goo on earth, but even better by making it spicy. It was the first one to get polished off and the one I missed the most once it was gone. If you’re only going to try one of these salsas, the pineapple one should be it.

    #2: Cherry. I really had my doubts about cherry salsa, but Traverse Bay won me over. Cherry anything can often be sickly sweet (or worse, cough medicine-ish) but this was only slightly sweeter and less tart than the pineapple salsa, and probably as close to fresh cherries as a jarred salsa could get.

    #3: Red Raspberry. Very hot and very sweet. It was honestly a little too much on its own, but I after combined most of the jar with an 8-ounce block of cream cheese, it became an absolutely incredible spread for crackers (or celery or, um, a spoon).

    #4: Peach. I admit, I’ve never been a fan of peach salsa. My husband really liked this one, but it was just too… peachy for me. I think it would have paired really well with pork, but someone finished off the jar before I could find out.

    #5: Corn. Much milder than I expected, the least spicy of the six, so a bit more like a corn relish than a salsa. The corn was was crisp and sweet but had a little of that odd canned corn taste going on. Not bad, but not my favorite either.

    #6: Black Bean. I dunno, this one just didn’t really do it for me. Maybe it was because the others were so great, but the black bean one was a bit bland and only kind of better than a store brand.

    Traverse Bay Farms Salsas (as well as a variety of other cherry- and fruit-based products) can be purchased through their site or through other online retailers.

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  • Product Reviews

    Brave New Food: Karums

    Karums orange

    When I was a kid, we lived in a very suburban town. There weren’t really any small shops to walk to and goddamn if the ice cream truck didn’t know exactly when my family was sitting down to dinner to come through my neighborhood — an event which only happened a couple times each summer anyway — and we were almost never allowed to leave the dinner table to go buy something.

    Now, as an adult, on any given day that’s above 70 degrees, I have virtually no ability to pass by an ice cream truck or deli without buying something sweet and frozen. (And this year, I’m even tracking just how many things I buy on Daytum.)

    Which brings me to the photo above. I was in Food Palace (the little store selling Russian and Eastern European things like jam and cookies) when I spotted a freezer chest full of little blocks of K?rums for 99¢ each. I picked an orange one and some kind of peanut/hazelnut one.

    I was a bit taken aback by the price because they’re quite small blocks — about half the size of a deck of cards. As my husband, kid, and I all walked home, we tried to figure out what they tasted like, exactly. The coating was obviously chocolate, but inside? It was creamier and richer than ice cream. A bit like custard, but not eggy. Eventually, in the mass of other languages on the wrapper, I spotted a description and ingredient list in English:

  • Product Reviews

    Pepsi Throwback: Is It Good?

    UPDATE: It’s coming back! According to this tweet from Pepsi, Pepsi Throwback — and, I assume, the Mountain Dew Throwback as well — are coming back for another 5-week run, starting August 1st 2010.

    UPDATE 2: It’s back FOR GOOD (for as long as people keep buying it). According to, “[t]he beverage company has announced that plans to sell its sugar-sweetened Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback sodas as long as people buy them.” Availability is still limited by individual bottlers, it seems.

    FINAL UPDATE: Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are no longer a “Limited Time” product but are now a permanent part of the Pepsi pantheon, as reported by


    pepsi & mountain dew throwback 

    If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you might already know my obsession with sugar-sweetened sodas (like Ting). So, last summer, when I heard Pepsi was coming out with a sugar-sweetened version called Pepsi Throwback, I looked for it everywhere. I didn’t find anywhere in NYC, so when we drove to Massachusetts for a wedding, I looked in every gas station mini-mart from New Jersey to the Mass Pike. Once it became fall, I stopped looking and eventually gave up.

    Then, last week, a friend posted a photo of a case of Pepsi Throwback she had just bought. According to Pepsi’s site, “[d]ue to all the Throwback tweets, Facebook fan pages, videos, blog posts, pics & pleas, Pepsi Throwback is back” — at least until February 28th.

    So… is it good? The Pepsi, definitely. The formula appears to be the same as a HFCS Pepsi (e.g. pretty sweet), so if you’re fond of that, you’ll love this. I sometimes wished I was drinking Coke Throwback instead, but it’s still very good. The Mountain Dew… a bit less great. It’s either sweeter than a regular HFCS Mountain Dew, or it’s less citrus, or both. Still, the sugar really makes all the difference in the world. There’s no filmy mouth feel, no glorky (yes, I say it’s a word) feel in your throat afterward. I’m already looking around my apartment to figure out where I can stash multiple cases of this stuff for the summer.

  • Product Reviews

    My latest food obsession:

    crazy preserves

    I’m loving these buckets of jam from the Russian specialty store (Food Palace, on Broadway and W189th) near me. It’s a pretty tiny store; more than five people in there and it gets almost impossible to navigate. They also have excellent pickles.

    The photo doesn’t really give a good idea of the scale of these containers: that one is slightly bigger than a pint of sour cream, and that’s the smaller of the two sizes they sell. The other one is about the size of big tub of yogurt.

    The sheer volume of preserves you get really allows you to lavish it on —- and to start rooting through your cabinets, thinking, what else can I eat this on? So far, this cherry jam (and its mixed berry predecessor) has made it on to various toasts and English muffins, been paired with that awesome sharp Cheddar, and even been stirred into cups of strong tea instead of sugar.

    The downside to this jam: I’m trying to limit myself to one at a time (and I’m really ready to move on to apricot or plum next). So… suggestions?

  • Product Reviews

    POM Still-Almost-But-Not-Quite-Wonderful

    Well, evidently I was wrong when I said I’d never get free stuff from PR people again.

    Photo credit: Dave’s Cupboard

    Yet again, like a bazillion other food bloggers, I also got POM’s two new flavors — POM Nectarine and POM Kiwi — in the mail. And in this second go-round of product placement, I think I’ve discovered something rather important:

    I don’t actually like pomegranate juice.

    I like fresh pomegranates. And I like pomegranate juice when it’s mixed with something else, like POM tea. (Oh man, remember when the POM tea used to come in that completely impractical glass? I had like, 20 of those glasses.) But just the juice… no. It’s too astringent, too mouth-puckery drying for me.

    With that in mind, I have to admit, I genuinely enjoyed the POM Nectarine flavor. It tasted like pomegranate, but the sweetness of the nectarine juice made it softer and… juicier. After drinking it, I actually felt less thirsty, as opposed to the blech-now-I-have-no-saliva feeling of straight pomegranate juice.

    Sadly, POM Kiwi was a bust. The kiwi flavor, what little there was of it, tasted unripe and sour — not a good match for the already sour pomegranate.

    If you’re keeping score thus far:
    regular POM juice – horrible
    POM Kiwi – not good
    POM Nectarine – actually kind of good

    So… POM .333 Wonderful: Hey, If This Was Baseball, That’s Like Almost As Good As Lou Gehrig