Metal Shark Player

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Archive for December 2011

Mini-Review: Tastykake Limited Edition “Black & White” Pie

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Tastykake pies are remarkably consistent. Almost every standard flavor is delicious. When it comes to limited edition flavors, however, their track record is less impressive. Banana Split was just okay, and while Rita’s Mango did a commendable job emulating the flavor of Rita’s mango water-ice, the flavor just didn’t translate well to the pastry medium. Tonight I put a new limited edition pie to the text.

The Black and White pie is intriguing because it’s something of a mystery- what does “black and white” taste like? You would assume it’s vanilla and chocolate, but the box doesn’t say shit– maybe its white cheddar and caviar. Maybe I was looking for an excuse to buy it. Either way, I took this shot in the dark so that you don’t have to.

Please don’t. This shit sucks. It’s chocolate and vanilla pudding inside a pie crust. In fact, the traditional soft and flaky Tastykake pie crust is the best part by far. The flavor is one-dimensional, and its a boring, stinky dimension. It was not worth the money or the calories. Limited edition Tastykake pies are 0/3. Will I ever learn?

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Written by metalsharkplayer

December 31, 2011 at 4:22 am

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Sriracha

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Sriracha is our Lord and savior. It is the North Star that guides lost sailors home. It is the watch dog that protects our children as they sleep in their beds. It is the woman you hold in your arms in the still of night. It is a hot sauce.

Sriracha originated in Thailand, home of many spicy things. There are many commercially available varieties but, when I talk about sriracha, I’m referring specifically to the sauce made by Huy Fong Foods, pictured above. Huy Fong Foods was started by David Tran, a Vietnamese chili farmer that sold chili sauce out of Saigon before fleeing in the late 70’s after the war. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1980 and founded Huy Fong Foods. The company is staffed only by eight members of the Tran family and sells a shit-ton of hot sauce. David Tran is an incalculably big boss and a credit to mankind. I’m sure other brands make excellent sriracha, but I’ve never had them so fuck you.

Sriracha is not complicated. It consists of chili, sugar, salt, garlic, and distilled vinegar, as well as potassium sorbate and sodium bisulfite as preservatives and, finally,  xanthan gum to keep all the ingredients from separating. That way, you don’t have to shake it up every time you use it. Thanks Mr. Tran, good on you.

In the back of your mind you might be thinking, “What the fuck is potassium sorbate? Why am I eating sodium bisulfite? Are these unnatural chemical additives that will give me AIDS?” Well let me tell you a few things: 1) The back of your mind is gay. 2) No, you won’t get AIDS, that’s a sexually transmitted disease.

I bought my first bottle of Sriracha during my first semester of college. Because my school’s dining hall food literally caused me to vomit every time I attempted eating it, I was forced to provide all of my own food for the first time in my life. As a result, I ate almost nothing but instant ramen. On the recommendation of Street Fighter legend Alex Valle, I purchased a bottle of sriracha to add some spice to my life. I knew I was buying the right thing because I had seen Asian people bring it into restaurants and add it to their food. At first, I added only a few drops. Any more was simply overpowering. I have never been a huge spicy food guy, always enjoying the flavor of chili based foods more than their capsaicin. The sriracha added a warm, garlicky layer to the broth, as well as a little tingle. To this day, I have not eaten ramen without it and the amount I use has grown. I now add it liberally, deliberately unmeasured. I enjoy the variance; no bowl of ramen is the same as the last.

My affair with sriracha did not stop with ramen. As I soon discovered, Sriracha is the perfect seasoning for everything that you put in your mouth. I am not exaggerating. Last week I found myself without any food in my apartment; I stole a piece of my roommate’s wheat bread and put sriracha on it. Fucking outstanding. I’ve added it to sandwiches, EasyMac, salads, eggs, fruit, and pasta. Cooking any kind of meat on the stove? Put some sriracha on and let it sizzle in. Eating something boring or bad? Put a bunch of sriracha on it. Just today I found a revolutionary new use: adding a few drops to my glass of tinny, disgusting tap-water. Now it tastes fucking incredible.

The beauty is in the ease of use. Twist open the top, squeeze the bottle, and your food tastes better. It’s empowering. I know nothing about cooking anything beyond eggs, toast, and frozen foods with instructions on them. Before sriracha, I would almost never fuck with the food that I am eating. Who was I to say that this tuna was boring? What the fuck did I know about herbs and spices? After finding sriracha, I add whatever the fuck I want to my food. I still don’t know anything about herbs and spices, but my overwhelmingly positive experience with sriracha gave me the courage to try shit out, which is how you learn. I made EasyMac earlier tonight and put paprika, Jane’ s Krazy Mixed-Up Pepper, garlic powder, and sriracha in it. I have added fennel and garlic to ramen to give it an Italian kick. I am now fearless with the spice rack, limited only by my imagination and what my roommate chooses to stock. Fear of the unknown is something humanity has been struggling with forever. Sriracha has murdered that fear and made it taste great.

Sriracha is a hot sauce, but it is also much more. It’s a man’s journey from war-torn despair to self-made prosperity. It’s a culinary Chinese army shovel. It’s the power of the sun in the palm of your hand. It’s our Lord and savior. Spread the good news. Sriracha.

Written by metalsharkplayer

December 13, 2011 at 4:21 am

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized

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Review: Chunky

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What the fuck is a Chunky? It’s candy.  It’s a an endangered species and it’s not long for this world. I’m going to explain why.

Recently, I realized that there were many widely available candies that, for one reason or another, I have never tried. At the convenience store today, I took one step towards rectifying that problem. I purchased a Chunky. I have, to the best of my knowledge, never had one before.

There are a few reasons why the Chunky might be passed over by a consumer:

  1. The Packaging. It’s boring. No mascot, no images, the description is very small and hard to see, and the use of only one real color (white and chrome are fake, they don’t exist) makes it immediately less eye-catching.
  2. Chunky Awareness. Who knows what a Chunky is? When was the last time you saw a Chunky commercial? How many lovable movie aliens have eaten one? It’s not even carried by many stores.
  3. The Size. It’s not a bar, it’s a square.It has more depth than a bar, but it takes up less space on the shelf. It’s not small enough to package in a bag or a box, not big enough to compete with the bars. There’s a reason billboards are rectangular.

So here is some Chunky Awareness. Produced by Nestlé, the package describes it as “Milk chocolate with peanuts and raisins”. The ingredients list confirms this claim, adding only “TBHQ (to preserve freshness)”. I tried, but I couldn’t taste the TBHQ. As mentioned before, the Chunky is a square. It is subdivided into four truncated square pyramids (three-dimensional trapezoids) connected by a thinner, but still substantial, chocolate base. This subdivision is a feature found on many candies, presumably to facilitate breaking the candy apart for sharing or saving. I almost never use this feature for either of these purposes. I wonder how this design came to be so prevalent. Did ornery customers demand segmented chocolates? Did manufacturers try to market it to consumers as a serious advantage over other chocolates?

My first quadrant was extremely disappointing. I thought it was dark chocolate at first because I didn’t taste any sweetness, just some cocoa flavor. The peanuts tasted like nothing and the raisins were just getting in the way. When a food sticks to your teeth, it has to taste extra good to make up for that annoyance or it’s simply not worth it. These raisins didn’t seem to be worth it. Sunmaid raisins (the gold standard by which all other raisins are judged) not only stick in your teeth, but you have to dig them out of a tiny cardboard box with your fingers. It’s a messy and annoying process, but they are fucking delicious so you don’t care. The raisins in a Chunky are not on that level.

So why is this candy still around? Who buys enough of these to keep them in production? Why didn’t I buy that Nutrageous instead? These are the questions I asked myself after eating that first quadrant. I stewed on it for so long that I decided I would write a review of this candy to let everyone know that they were not missing anything. Somewhere, someone would benefit from my misfortune. Then I took another bite. And another.

I was totally fucking wrong. The Chunky is not a worthless mistake, it’s an overlooked gem. The chocolate is the heart of its success. It is much less sweet than that of most candies today, and that’s what makes it unique. It’s an incredible medium between dark chocolate and the hyper-sweet, creamy milk chocolate that dominates the market. As a result, the flavor is much deeper than you might expect. It maintains a balanced sweetness, but nothing as bright as what Hershey or Mars products might have led you to expect from milk chocolate. The flavor has more body to it. The peanuts and raisins are very mild, serving as accents and contrasts to the chocolate, which is undoubtedly the focus of the Chunky. You taste and feel the peanuts and raisins only so that your brain can first forget the chocolate and then a moment later, experience it anew. For this purpose, the raisins don’t necessarily need to be as good as Sunmaid. They are part of a much larger operation and they perform their function perfectly. The Chunky is a carefully balanced equation and absolutely worth eating.

Unfortunately, the Chunky will probably never be understood and accepted for what it is. It is a candy out of time, losing its place in the current market. In a fast-paced world filled with much sweeter and more exotic competitors, the Chunky can’t keep up. What people won’t take the time to realize is that it was never trying to. Our modern expectations of packaged, processed candy don’t have room for the Chunky. It might fit better with what we expect from homemade or specialty candies and treats, but, due to the nature of its production, it falls short of most of those offerings. It’s not loud enough to compete with Hershey bars, not refined enough to compete with the gourmet market.

If you are looking for something a little more interesting than a Reese’s or Snickers, see if you can find a Chunky. Eat it slowly and think about me.

Written by metalsharkplayer

December 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Reviews

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