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REVIEW: Taco Bell Quesarito

Written by | June 12, 2014

Topics: 6 Rating, 7 Rating, 9 Rating, Fast Food, Taco Bell

Taco Bell Quesarito

Taco Bell has a new item, and instead of rearranging the same ol’ ingredients in a new format like they usually do, they’ve taken to rearranging names of existing foods. The Quesarito is a portmanteau of “quesadilla” and “burrito,” and features meat, sauce and rice wrapped in a tortilla with a layer of cheese around the inner core.

Hmmm, I guess they are just using the same ol’ ingredients too. Like a boring mad scientist. Like if Dr. Moreau kept promising a herd of hybrid leopard-men but just kept putting the legs of rats on legless rat bodies. You know what, though? That’s still pretty impressive. And you know what else? The Quesarito is also pretty impressive.

Maybe the greatest thing about the Quesarito is that it doesn’t really taste like it comes from Taco Bell. It has Taco Bell elements, sure: a disregard for fresh vegetables, a runny sauce that coats all the ingredients, it emanates nuclear fast food warmth.

But the Quesarito has heft. It has substance. Other Taco Bell items often feel chintzy, like they are designed to run through our bodies as fast as possible. Tasty, edible garbage. The Quesarito feels like food. I feel comfortable even calling it a “gut bomb.” And from my experience, the Quesarito comes with a free sizeable nap.

This is thanks to a couple things. It’s a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla, so the tortilla is actually doubled up, which makes it chewier. The rice is also new. It’s “Latin rice,” which I guess means it was a loser studying a dead language in high school. But you can pick out individual grains and it’s cooked more al dente than the rice in other sister items. Biting into a Quesarito, you can sense full, sturdy ingredients. Seems like maybe they took a look at the modus operandi of one Chipotle restaurant and decided to go sic semper tyrannis on ‘em. Side note: anyone have a time machine and know how to say “Please go to prom with me” in Latin? Asking for an amicus.

Taco Bell Quesarito 2

The decent base of tortilla and rice gives the cheese and protein a solid springboard to showcase their flavors, and for the most part, they do a good job. The cheese in the quesadilla forms a golden ring around the bisected burrito, and every bite is equally blessed by the melty smoothness.

Taco Bell Quesarito 3

Of the three meat options, the relatively muted shredded chicken fares the best, playing along with the rest of the Quesarito to let every ingredient shine in a concert of flavor and texture. The steak is fine too, but every bite was filled with sinew and makes the burrito feel stringy. The beef is the ground beef from all the other Taco Bell stuff, and as such it lacks subtlety. It’s salty like a salt lick, to the point where it almost burns, and definitely overpowers the quieter elements in the Quesarito.

It’s also ground to the point of almost being a meat puree, and seems out of place in this new, gentler Taco Bell item. It’s time to leave your hometown, Ground Beef. See the world, get some new perspective. Yeah, Ground Beef, we’ll leave tomorrow. Let’s go out back for now, look at the rabbits. That’s it, pet the rabbits. Oops, I shot Ground Beef in the back of the head. I’m sorry, Ground Beef. You’ll never over-salt anyone’s tongue again, Ground Beef. You are reunited in heaven with the Blackjack Taco and the Volcano Menu.

Now the bad. It’s pretty much just the sour cream. Maybe it actually goes well with the Quesarito, but it’s a problem of construction, not taste. The way the sour cream is dispensed on the tortilla, it’s packed all into one end, like if the Quesarito was an airplane, the sour cream takes up first class. And that’s confusing, because first class is a good thing, but there isn’t anything called “last class.”

Okay. If the Quesarito was an airplane, the sour cream takes up all of last class. And I’m Godzilla or Optimus Prime or whatever, and I want to eat the plane, and I bite in and I get a giant mouthful of tangy sour cream. That’s insane. Because who put all this sour cream in an airplane?

But as a human, if I wanted a mouthful of sour cream I’d go to the sour cream store and grab a spoon. Oh wait, that doesn’t exist, because we are civilized people and not creeps and nobody wants mouthfuls of sour cream. And the sour cream pocket is on either end of the Quesarito so it’s like playing Russian roulette with every beginning bite. Mexican-Russian roulette. Sorry. Mexican-Russian-American roulette. We’re a melting pot, folks.

So Taco Bell smushed two words together and they scored a home-down/touch-run with the Quesarito. They made the Brangelina of fast food. Oh! Are any of those kids in that family Mexican-Russian?

The Quesarito is a success, and soon we might be calling Merriam-Webster to add a new word, like all those popular portmanteaus of the past such as bromance, Californication and Fleshlight. Welp, just made myself barf with that string of words. That’s okay, more room for Quesarito.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ground beef Quesarito* – 650 calories, 300 calories from fat, 34 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 grams of cholesterol, 1450 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, 22 grams of protein.)

*Nutrition facts for chicken and steak versions not available on Taco Bell website.

Item: Taco Bell Quesarito
Purchased Price: $1.99 (Ground Beef), $2.79 (Chicken) and $2.99 (Steak)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Ground Beef)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Chicken)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Steak)
Pros: Substantial, filling. Tastes like actual food. Cheese in every bite. The rice is great.
Cons: Very salty, particularly the beef. Steak is sinewy. Can be runny. Sour cream is always stuck in one bite.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies

Written by | June 11, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Nabisco Limited Edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies

I consider myself a fairly sensible person. Rarely, if ever, would I find it acceptable to physically bust a move and moonwalk in a Safeway grocery store, much less break out in operatic chorus just to praise a prepackaged cookie. A fresh-baked cookie? Maybe it deserves a short interlude mumbled under my breath, but a prepackaged cookie is a different story entirely. My friends, that is just nonsensical.

Yet that’s exactly what I felt compelled to do after discovering the new Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo cookies. Do I regret it? Abso-freaking-lutly. Would I do it again? You better believe it.

I have a confession to make. I had somewhat given up on flavored Oreos. Last summer’s Strawberries ‘n Crème and Banana Split flavors pushed me to accept mediocrity on a three month limited edition release cycle, while recent shelf spotting of Watermelon and Fruit Punch have caused me to lose faith in Nabisco’s strategic vision. I don’t know about you, but when I sign up for a sandwich cookie—Oreo or otherwise—I’m signing up for some variation of chocolate or vanilla. If I wanted Watermelon, dammit I would eat a freaking Watermelon.

In any event, the news that Oreo had teamed up with Reese’s to make the long overdue peanut butter and chocolate crème (excuse me, chocolate “flavored” crème) sandwich cookie rekindled a hope in me that Nabisco remembered they were in the business of making cookies and not flavored water enhancers. That hope was momentarily dashed when on their long awaited release date I checked no less than four grocery stores to no avail, only finally coming in contact with the Reese’s Oreo cookies just as my blood sugar reached perilously low levels.

You might have assumed this excitement was sure to leave me crashing in the unavoidable realization that the Reese’s Oreo cookies couldn’t possibly be as good as they’d sound. You’d be making an ass out of you and me, though, because Reese’s Oreo are everything any tried and true Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup lover would want.

Nabisco Limited Edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies Stacked

The chocolate crème has a fudgy consistency tasting of more intense milk chocolaty flavor than standard chocolate Oreo crème, while the peanut butter has that trademarked salty and slightly gritty Reese’s flavor that balances its darker counterpart so perfectly. Twisted from their bases, the crème fillings might be a disappointment, but when eaten together and in conjunction with the exceptionally crunchy cocoa wafer, the fillings transform into a taste which is unabashedly Reese’s Cup in every sense of the title. Sweet and balanced with a deep, slightly salty flavor on the backend, there’s multiple intensities of chocolate dancing harmoniously with the exceptional, but not overpowering, peanut butter flavor. It is, to use the most precise representation of the English language available to our understanding, quite delectable.

Nabisco Limited Edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies Topless 2

I suppose I could bemoan the filling’s complete reluctance to twist cleanly, or its slightly askew orientation in between the wafers. But really, why draw attention away from the most excellent representation of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup this side of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Dare I say, the exceptional cocoa taste and trademark crunch of the cookie actually makes the Reese’s Oreo superior to a Reese’s Cup in some ways, providing a completely new and exciting textural component to a time-tested flavor. And you know what? That fact alone provides plenty of reason for even a sensible person to celebrate in the most obnoxious of ways.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, less than 1 grams of fiber, and 1 grams of protein..)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 12.2 oz package
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Almost uncanny replication of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup flavor. Fudgy chocolate. Salty-sweet peanut butter. Perfect sandwich cookie bite. Finally, an Oreo that doesn’t sound like a popsicle flavor. Lowest calorie flavored Oreos.
Cons: Filling has Leaning Tower of Pisa effect. Messier to eat than standard Oreos. Being off-key in a crowded Safeway.

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REVIEW: Doritos Roulette (Canada)

Written by | June 10, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Chips, Doritos

Doritos Roulette

This could very easily be the shortest review in the history of this site. Doritos Roulette are Nacho Cheese Doritos, with the occasional very spicy chip mixed into the bunch. The end. Mic drop.

But I guess I should probably justify my existence here and write a bit more than that. Now where’s that mic…

Not much needs to be said about Nacho Cheese Doritos. They’re the original Doritos flavour, and arguably the tastiest. If you’ve somehow never had them and need me to describe the flavour, then I’m going to assume that you stumbled onto this site by accident. Perhaps you were looking for the Impulsive Buoy, the boating website? Because I’m pretty sure if you did a Venn diagram of “people who read junk food blogs” and “people who have tried Nacho Cheese Doritos,” the two circles would be pretty much right on top of each other.

But fine, for the boat enthusiasts among you, I’ll throw you a bone: Nacho Cheese Doritos are cheesy (I know, shocker, right?) — cheddar in particular — with a salty, fake-in-the-best-way possible flavour, and enough else going on to make them irresistibly addictive. They’re a classic for a reason. They’re hard to dislike.

As for Roulette, the bag is predominantly Nacho Cheese Doritos, which are just as tasty as ever. However, about 25 percent, give or take, are a little different than your standard Nacho Cheese chip: they’re spicy. Very spicy.

Now, I’m no slouch when it comes to spice. Typically, mass-market snacks or fast food items labeled as spicy register for me as a vague tickle, the equivalent of a small kitten playfully batting at your hands. I say this not to boast, but to provide context for this statement: these are legitimately spicy. They’re certainly not the hottest thing you’ve ever had, but you’re definitely going to feel (feel feel) the heat.

If most so-called spicy items are the aforementioned kitten, this is a solid slap in the face.

Doritos Roulette Closeup

Aside from the spice, these chips look and taste just like a regular Nacho Cheese Dorito. So you really have no idea what you’re going to get until you pop it in your mouth (must… resist… “that’s what she said” joke).

It’s actually really good! The combination of regular chips and super spicy ones work surprisingly well. I don’t know if I’d want a whole bag of Doritos this spicy, but here, where you get a few regular chips to cool your mouth between the hot ones, it’s actually quite satisfying.

And of course, that’s not to mention the potential hilarity of eating these with a spice wimp and watching them squirm when they get a spicy one.

I was expecting these to be more of a novelty item than anything else, but I actually wound up enjoying them far more than I thought I would. I’m assuming these are a limited-time-only deal, but if they weren’t, I’d definitely add them to my regular Dorito rotation.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package (80 grams) – 420 calories, 22 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0.2 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 600 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams fibre, 1 gram sugar, 6 grams protein.)

Item: Doritos Roulette (Canada)
Purchased Price: $1.49 CAN
Size: 80 gram bag
Purchased at: International News
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Classic Nacho Cheese flavour. Good balance of spicy and not-spicy chips. Entertainment value of eating them with people who can’t tolerate spice. The ability to make Passenger 57 references while you eat.
Cons: Might be too spicy for some people. Realizing that a lot of people probably won’t get that Passenger 57 reference.

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REVIEW: Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404

Written by | May 19, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Chips, Doritos

Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404

I’ve always been a huge fan of Doritos’ test flavor gimmicks. From the cheeseburgery reveal of Doritos X-13D to Doritos The Quest, which turned out to be Mountain Dew and was surprisingly good. I’m glad Doritos brought back this stunt, even if it’s for their stubborn sibling, the Jacked line.

I have to say the packaging really piques my excitement. I’m not sure if it’s the silver faux-futuristic bags that echo Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or maybe it is the words “TEST FLAVOR” themselves. Either way, the people that designed this get my high fives.

When they were first announced, it was 2007 all over for me again where losers were wearing blinged out pseudo ripped jeans, had fauxhawks, put on aggro printed t-shirts and topped off their ensemble with Von Dutch caps. And the damned music…Daughtry and Paramore were overplayed (why they were played at all, I am unsure), while all of us geeks swooned over Morgan Webb and discovered the Midnight Juggernauts.

Feverishly, I went to various Walmarts, Targets and Publixes to no avail. After a couple of weeks of looking, I gave up and decided to do something more productive and level up my monk in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.

One afternoon at lunch, I needed to buy some three ring trading card nine-pocket plastic sheets for my Wacky Packages (another reason why the ladies love me). Ironically, the Target I found them in was the one I’ve avoided because it’s near a huge university and seriously…I don’t have time for that bullshit.

There they were in neatly stacked piles. The last time I gawked stupidly at foil packaging was when a past girlfriend asked me, annoyed, what’s taking me so long to get a rubber. They were all the 404 version and although I was sad that the other two test flavors were not there, I grabbed two packages and gleefully ran out.

Upon ripping open the bag, I buried my nose into it like it was the 80’s, Miami Vice-style, and inhaled. There was a deep and earthy molasses/brown sugar scent that is immediate. It then faded into cumin-like tones with a light fake-citrus smell. I can compare the earthy wafts to a fresh out of the oven baked sweet potato if you squeezed a lemon on it.

Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404 Closeup

The chips themselves had a burnt orange “spray tan look” that were a few shades darker enough to let you know that it meant fucking business. You could see the seasoning flecks as if your eyes had microscopic vision and the chips felt heavier.

I know it sounds crazy but I like the lighter feel of normal Doritos chips and think the more rigid Jacked chips take away from the crunch experience. However, those powdery flavor dustballs have enough heft that they shake off your hands easily.

Eating one, the smoky tortilla corn chip was the most prevalent flavor at first. Then a rich sweetness with garlicky notes washed my tongue as I chewed. There was an unidentifiable complexity in the chip that almost tasted like five spice powder. Last, a citrusy tart zing that tasted of key limes and kumquats grabbed my taste buds and doggy styled it into submission. There was also a faint tinge of heat, which was nice.

I couldn’t really say what the flavor was except that it definitely had this Asian Thai sweet chili sauce thing going on. Looking at the ingredients, I saw lime juice solids and orange juice solids, which may explain the slight tartness that sort of made my cheeks tickle.

The bold flavors joined in a symphony that demanded you pay some friggin’ attention. These chips were the aces! I was impressed and surprised that Doritos was able to bring a flavor that I had not really tasted yet or could truly compare to another flavor. In fact, my only gripe is that the chips seemed too heavy and stiff (thanks Jacked) but who cares once you get to that flavor.

If Frito-Lay wants to make any one of the three a regular flavor, they will probably pick the safest route and these will go the way G4TV did (damn you Esquire channel). If you can find Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404, I highly recommend picking these up because I doubt they will be made again.

I have to commend Frito-Lay for really pushing the envelope on its Doritos flavors, even if it’s a limited time thing. Sure I may never get a second round of Doritos Mr. Dragon’s Fire Chips but these 404, if they become a regular offering, will satiate my wants.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 chips – 140 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404
Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 10 ounce bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: The Asian-like complex flavors that are earthy, tart and sweet. The flavor dust easily shakes off your hand. The Doritos line has brought back the test flavors gimmick. G4’s Attack of the Show!
Cons: The heavy stiff chip is not the best. It’s hard to find these in my area. Blinged out faux ripped jeans. Esquire Network’s Lucky Bastards.

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REVIEW: McDonald’s Peaches & Crème Pie

Written by | April 30, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald’s Peaches & Cre?me Pie

Is it wrong to like McDonald’s pies over the traditional circular homey baked kind? Not any more wrong than laughing out loud in the theater during a sad scene. I apologized profusely to my wife when I erupted with guttural laughter as Christoph Waltz maniacally beat that elephant off-screen in “Water for Elephants.”

I don’t think animal abuse is funny at all but the scene was so corny, I had to laugh. Worse, I said sorry as I chuckled. Apologizing while snickering appears just as sincere as when your girlfriend who is about to dump you says, “We need to talk.”

What I will not apologize for is having a penchant for McDonald’s pies, which maybe even a bit borderline obsessive.

Famished after running mundane errands, the mind was elsewhere as my eyes were glazed staring at the drive-thru menu at McDonald’s. I knew my wife would get the Quarter Pounder with Cheese and no bun due to her gluten allergen. I was ready to follow suit until my eyes fixed on the pie offering… Peaches & Crème.

Images of fireworks, the mention of “Stephen Strange” in Captain America 2, and former WWE wrestler Chyna getting boogety-humped by X-Pac in the “leaked” sex video flashed in my mind.

I’ve eaten a variety of McDonald’s pies and while they don’t blow me away, they mostly always satisfy. It’s like a color by the numbers action film where everybody plays a familiar archetype. You know, the-sensitive-but-tough guy, the-jokey-but-tough-guy-when-it-counts, and the-misunderstood-jerk-who’s-actually-a-good-guy, blah blah blah. That’s how McDonald’s pies are to me, I love them but they aren’t exactly paradigm shifting.

Sometimes, however, there’s a detour in those films and you’re fully invested only hoping they can deliver.

McDonald’s Peaches & Cre?me Pie Closeup

That is the McDonald’s Peaches & Crème pie.

I’m serious and the bad news is, not only is it a limited offering but from my unscientific research, I don’t think they are widely available. It is not even listed in McDonald’s own website, which make me feel like I found the “secret” negative worlds in Super Mario Brothers.

I spent more time looking for the existence of this pie online than I did watching YouTube clips of unofficial appearances by Superman and Spiderman in Bollywood films.

The crust, as always, was golden brown. This crust was flecked with sugar crystals which welcomed you to take a big friggin’ bite into it. The crust was buttery and crispy with a perfect “Goldilocks zone” thickness that broke away in your mouth pleasantly the way Filo dough does.

The filling in the pie needs to taste good, but I think the texture is just as important as the filling. Maybe that’s why I like the clown’s pies so much, that mass produced crust is what I imagine what perfect pie crust is.

McDonald’s Peaches & Cre?me Pie Innards

As for the fillings themselves, they are mundane and ordinary alone. The crème part tastes a little bit like cheap cream cheese frosting. The peach filling taste of reduced syrupy canned peaches has a slightly distant herby flavor, which is interesting in a very good way. The chunks of peaches are a nice touch to add another element of the mouthfeel equation, if there is such an equation.

However, when the peaches, crème, and crust are combined, it’s like alchemy. The pie is a cheap section of heaven, where the inventors of pogs and die cut comic book covers go (if you believe in heaven). And if they are there, I have a closet full of apologies they need to give me.

The crème really tones down the syrupy sweetness and adds that tiny addition of savory. It’s akin to something acidic to cut through something rich. And I cannot begin to truly explain the essential crust, which just brings it all together.

In all seriousness, if you can find it, it is worth a try. I know the strawberries and crème pies are still regularly sold and if you can’t find the limited peaches one, the strawberry version will give you a good idea of what this is all about. I sincerely hope this pie makes it to the regular line-up.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Item: McDonald’s Peaches & Crème Pie
Purchased Price: 89 cents
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: The crust, the filling and the crème all play an equal role of deliciousness. Sugar crystals on the crust. Chunks of peaches. Inappropriate laughing.
Cons: It’s a limited offering. If you eat the crème and the peaches alone (but who does that? And if you do, you need help). Inappropriate laughing.

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