REVIEW: Arby’s Buttermilk Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Arby's Buttermilk Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Conceptually, I love the idea of a chicken cordon bleu sandwich. I love chicken breast filet, I love the hell out of some ham, and Swiss —- while not the best cheese, necessarily — is still a fine cheese in most circumstances. But the strange thing is, I’m not entirely certain I’ve ever had a chicken cordon bleu sandwich that I actually loved. I guess you could even say that I’ve never had one that chicken cordon bleu my mind. (Ugh. Trust me. I’m as disappointed in myself as you are.)

Anyway, I’d had the original Arby’s iteration more than once in the past, mostly because it’s not something you see often on fast food menus, and I’m a sucker for uncommon menu items. (This is the same reason I can’t wait for Taco Bell’s Grilled Stuft Lobster Burrito, which isn’t a thing, but should be.) Arby’s original CCB was mostly a harmless proposition, but decidedly unspectacular each time. I guess I kept hoping it would get better, which I think is the definition of insanity or something.

Really, it was the chicken’s fault. Crunchy and dull, the quality paled in comparison to the restaurant’s other meats. Large chunks of “breading” hard enough to crack a molar; stringy ropes of flavorless chicken low on flavor but rich in disappointment.

That’s why I was excited to hear that BUTTERMILK entered the equation. Because really, aren’t all the best chickens buttermilked at some point?

Well, it still didn’t work.

Arby's Buttermilk Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich 2

It’s not that it was bad, really, it was just that it wasn’t good. The filet itself was bigger, juicier, and meatier than its heavily breaded predecessor, but there was a distinct lack of flavor. It was void of almost any discernible seasoning or spice. It simply existed as a big, hot chunk of meat, content to take up space between the “star top bun” which is, you know, a bun with a star shape cut into the top.

Not that the bun was bad. It also just…existed. It tasted fresh, though, and it was warm, so that was good. (I’ve often found buns to be a problem at my nearest Arby’s.)

The closest thing to a true star on this sandwich was actually what they refer to as “thinly sliced pit-smoked ham.” It was plentiful and, when removed from the totality of the sandwich, a decent balance of smoky and sweet.

Arby's Buttermilk Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich 3

There was a nice slice of Swiss cheese — real Swiss cheese, not the White American that fast food barons typically try to sell you — but it sorta got lost in the mix. The mayonnaise was appropriately applied and provided a bit of needed tang, trying in vain to make up for the tasteless chicken breast.

Sadly, it just wasn’t enough.

Overall, it doesn’t seem that buttermilk is bringing enough to the party on Arby’s new chicken sandwiches. And that’s a shame. I was really hoping I’d found the chicken cordon bleu of my dreams, but it’s pretty clear that my quest must continue. (Or I can, you know, just go to Chick-fil-A and get a consistently tasty chicken sandwich without the bells and whistles.)

(Nutrition Facts – 690 calories, 310 calories from fat, 35 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 2000 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 41 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.69 (sandwich only)
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Ham was inoffensive. It was served super-hot, but I mean, there’s no guarantee that yours will be.
Cons: Bland, flavorless buttermilk chicken. Uninspired. The whole thing felt a little like they were going through the motions. Oh, one of the least healthy options on the Arby’s menu in terms of calories from fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

REVIEW: Burger King Whopperrito

Burger King Whopperrito

When I first heard about Burger King’s Whopperrito, I asked myself, “Whypperrito?”

I know the Whopper hasn’t gotten much love over the past few years when it comes to new varieties, but I’m not sure the Whopperrito is the best way to make up for lost time.

The new menu item features flame-grilled 100 percent beef seasoned with a special blend of Tex-Mex spices, a creamy queso sauce, diced onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce in a warm flour tortilla.

This not the first time an iconic fast food chain burger found itself wrapped in a flour tortilla. Remember the Big Mac Snack Wrap? Although, that wasn’t trying to be an actual burrito. It was just the ingredients of a Big Mac in a tortilla to give it the flavor of a Big Mac without all the calories and fat of a Big Mac. But that’s not the case with the Whopperrito. With the addition of seasoned beef and a queso sauce, it’s trying to be an actual burrito.

Burger King Whopperrito 2

If Taco Bell ads have taught me anything, it’s that burritos are thicker on ads than in real life. But the Whopperrito’s heft and thickness surprised me. It’s as thick as a 12-ounce can. Heck, it’s thicker than my forearms. Yes, the Whopperrito and all of you will beat me at arm wrestling.

After taking the first bite, I instantly thought of the Whopper. Although not flavor-wise, more temperature-wise. The inside of the Whopperrito was lukewarm. As you can see in the photo, the vegetables take up most of the space and seem to be cooling down the seasoned beef. This fast food thermodynamics is like what I’ve experienced with a lot of Whoppers I’ve had. The veggies also give the menu item a bit of a crunch, which is odd for a burrito.

Burger King Whopperrito 3

If you’re wondering if it tastes like a Whopper or a burrito, it tastes like both. The pickles determined how it tasted to me. Those bites sans pickles tasted more like a burrito, thanks to the seasoned beef and queso sauce. While bites with pickles tasted like those last few bites of a Whopper where there’s more vegetables than beef. I guess the saltiness and sourness from the pickles overwhelmed the Tex-Mex seasonings. By themselves, the beef crumbles taste like they were tossed with some McCormick taco powder.

After taking a few bites, I wondered where the queso sauce was. If you look at the photo above, you won’t see it. But after peeling back the tortilla, I saw the orange sauce clinging to the flour wrapper. I think if there was more of the cheesy sauce, then every bite could’ve tasted like a burrito and perhaps more Taco Bell-ish.

I’ll be honest. There’s a part of me that likes the Whopperrito’s outlandishness. But there’s another part of me that thinks it’s stupid because it’s a mediocre burrito and an unremarkable Whopper.

(Nutrition Facts – 570 calories, 26 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1110 milligrams of sodium, 59 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 29 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.49*
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Outlandish. Surprisingly thick. Made with 100 percent beef.
Cons: Mediocre burrito. Unremarkable Whopper. Veggies lower the temperature inside the burrito, making it lukewarm. Mine didn’t come with a lot of quest sauce.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cheesy Core Burritos (Crunchy and Spicy)

Taco Bell Cheese Core Burritos

Without the Earth’s core, the Earth would die. Without an ooey gooey cheesy core, Taco Bell’s Cheesy Core Burrito would be lame.

Is it lame?

Well, all I can tell you is that it’s not as lame as making you read several paragraphs to find out if it’s lame.

The Cheesy Core Burrito is available in two varieties — Crunchy and Spicy.

The Crunchy one is a burrito with seasoned beef, premium Latin rice, red sauce, and reduced-fat sour cream with a cheesy core that features a melted 3-cheese blend, nacho cheese sauce, and red tortilla strips. The Spicy version has almost the same ingredients as the Crunchy one, but instead of red tortilla strips, there are jalapeños. I decided to try both.

The burritos are two inches wide and 6.5 inches long. To be honest, it’s neat how it’s put together. It’s basically a tiny cheese burrito in the middle of another burrito. When I took it apart, it was like finding a fish in the stomach of another fish or seeing a Luke Wilson cameo in an Owen Wilson movie. It’s also…BURRITOCEPTION! Sorry. I’m sure someone would’ve written that in the comments if I didn’t mention it first.

Taco Bell Spicy Cheesy Core Burritos
Taco Bell Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito

Mine were made by two different workers. The spicy one was made with care and the crunchy one was made with I don’t care. My Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito had a centered distinguishable core, while the crunchy one looked like it was rejecting its core. I thought cutting them in half would cause cheese to ooze out from the center, turning the cross-section burrito photos I took into explicit food porn that may need some parts pixelated.

Taco Bell Crunchy Cheesy Core Burritos
Taco Bell Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito

Unfortunately, the cheese didn’t bleed out, but there’s a reason for that. There’s not a lot of cheese and there’s a lot more red tortilla strips/jalapenos than you’d expect. With both my burritos, they looked and tasted as if they had a normal amount of cheese. The cores weren’t even close to being as cheesy as the ads show them.

Look, I understand the rules of fast food — always know where the restrooms are whenever you eat it and it never looks the way it does on the poster. But when I bite into these burritos I want it to feel like I’m a cheese vampire and I’ve just punctured the jugular vein of cheese.

Texture-wise the tortilla strips were mostly soggy by the time I got to bite into them. So if you want to experience a crunch, might I suggest chomping on it the second you get them or get the Spicy one because the jalapeños have a nice crunch.

The best way I can describe the flavor of these burritos is to say they taste like Taco Bell. Because if you eat either one, I’m sure you’ll think to yourself, “I’ve had this before.” With both burritos the dominate flavors are the seasoned beef, sour cream, and the nacho cheese sauce. I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve tasted this combination from Taco Bell. The number of times I’ve experienced those flavors with jalapeños probably takes up one hand. It’s just the same flavors but in a different, albeit cool, package.

If I had to suggest a variety to try, I’d recommend going with the Spicy one because you’ll get spicy and crunchy in one. But overall, these burritos are lame because they lack a really cheesy core.

(Nutrition Facts – Crunchy – 630 calories, 26 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1530 milligrams of sodium, 76 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein. Spicy – 570 calories, 23 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1760 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.39*
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Crunchy)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Spicy)
Pros: Jalapeños have a little heat and are crunchier than the red tortilla strips. It’s cute how it’s a tiny burrito in another burrito. Earth’s core.
Cons: Tastes like Taco Bell. Cheesy core not very cheesy. Crunchy one needs to be eaten quickly to experience crunch. Making you read a bunch of paragraphs to find out if it’s lame.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: White Castle Pretzel Chicken Rings

White Castle Pretzel Chicken Rings

The Crave is a powerful thing.

It got the best of Harold and Kumar, and after seeing White Castle’s new Pretzel Chicken Rings, it got the best of me.

I love White Castle, but I hate White Castle. If I find out I’m in a town with one, I have to stop there like it’s a tourist attraction. I usually gorge on two double cheeseburgers and a sack of chicken rings. I camp out in my car like an ashamed overeater, and then I somehow find myself hitting the window again for a couple more burgers. This has happened numerous times. Not this time though! This time was strictly for the Pretzel Chicken Rings.

I’ve always enjoyed White Castle’s Chicken Rings. They use all white meat chicken and they’re always tender. They used to remind me of Burger King’s old Chicken Tenders, if you remember those. I’m also a man-child who likes the circular shape, and with the Olympics in full swing I’ve made a pact to only eat foods in ring form. Donuts, bagels, pizzas with the middle cut out, etc.

White Castle Pretzel Chicken Rings 2

“Pretzel crusted” is a food fad I hope never goes away. I predict more fast food joints are going to branch out beyond the pretzel bun and start coating nuggets and the like in pretzel dust. We’ve already seen Burger King get frisky with Cheetos.

Do you think the Burger King or the Dairy Queen have ever dined at the White Castle?

Sorry, my brain is wandering. You’re here for a review.

The Pretzel Chicken Rings were deliciously crispy, which I found surprising considering how greasy they were. The napkin I put my rings down on was basically translucent by the time I was done eating. Still, the crunch managed to power through until the last bite without getting soft or soggy.

White Castle Pretzel Chicken Rings 3

This wasn’t just pretzel dust either. Each chicken ring was breaded with crunchy little chunks of pretzel.

Unfortunately there was no salt. Sure, I could have added my own but I would have liked sporadic pieces of pretzel salt. That would’ve brought the sodium levels to dangerous heights, but they would’ve tasted better. Without the salt pieces, I wouldn’t necessarily say they scream “pretzel,” but they deliver on their promise.

White Castle Pretzel Chicken Rings 4

They also offer a cheese dipping sauce for 60 cents extra, which I pounced on. This was a winning combo. Their cheese sauce had a nice little zest to it, and I think it’s probably the best dipping sauce choice.

Now before you swing by your local Castle and order the 20 sack, I need to warn you about something I found way off with these rings. This is a food blog so I don’t usually harp on this, but I feel I have to warn you.

I’m sure you’re not worrying about nutrition while eating at White Castle, but the Pretzel Chicken Rings’ nutrition facts are insane. I knocked my score down when I saw the caloric content. There are 620 calories in six rings. That’s not even the worst part. There are 50 grams of fat! You’d never guess that. How is that even possible? Now the thought of that grease is making me queasy.

For reference there are 30 grams of fat in a 10 piece order of Chicken McNuggets. Six Wendy’s Nuggets only have 18 grams of fat. A Big Mac has 29! Six fairly small White Castle Pretzel Rings have 50! What kind of pretzels are they using and how many times are they frying them?

And to think, I almost added my usual double cheeseburgers to the order.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 pieces – 620 calories, 450 calories from fat, 50 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.59 (+$.60 for cheese sauce)
Size: 6 rings
Purchased at: White Castle
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Really nice crisp. Deliciously tender white meat chicken. Cheese dipping sauce. There’s a lot of fast food royalty. The Olympics. One of the dudes who wrote Harold and Kumar follows me on Twitter.
Cons: Super fattening. Kinda greasy. Translucent napkins. Sad parked car eaters. No pretzel salt so I couldn’t say, “These pretzels are making me thirsty!”

REVIEW: Panda Express General Tso’s Chicken

Panda Express General Tso's Chicken

Who is General Tso?

Twho cares?

All I really care about is whether years of waiting for Panda Express to develop their own version of the iconic American Chinese dish was worth it. I’ve always found it odd that the fast food chain that’s responsible for introducing many Americans to some kind of Chinese food didn’t have their own version of THE dish that was specifically made in Chinese American restaurants to introduce American taste buds to Chinese food.

And I find it even odder that Panda Express, which is known for entrees that consists of crispy chicken coated a sweet and savory sauce, like Orange Chicken, SweetFire Chicken Breast, and Honey Sesame Chicken Breast, didn’t have the sweet and savory General Tso’s Chicken until now.

The Panda Express version features crispy all-white meat chicken, green beans, red and yellow bell peppers, and onions tossed with a sweet, spicy, and tangy sauce.

I feel the best way to share what I think of it is to compare it with another iconic sweet and spicy Chinese chicken dish that’s supposed to appeal to American palates — Orange Chicken.

Panda Express’ General Tso’s Chicken is like Orange Chicken’s boring cousin who was brought up in a household where he watched 30 minutes of TV per day, wasn’t allowed to drink soda, and ate lots of vegetables. Orange Chicken is the fun one that everyone loves because it’s mostly sweet, a little spicy, and it doesn’t come with lame vegetables.

While the extremely popular Panda Express entree is more sweet than savory, the chain’s General Tso’s Chicken is more savory than sweet and comes with FOUR different vegetables. I guess being that way could make it seem like a refined version of Orange Chicken.

Its sauce isn’t as slimy as what’s on Orange Chicken, but that’s probably because there’s less sugar. Along with the light sweetness, there’s also a noticeable soy sauce flavor and pepperiness. It’s a tasty sauce that I think does a great job at honoring the dish. However, there were a couple of times when I asked myself, “Why do I taste hot dog water in my mouth?” And there was a moment when its flavor reminded me of those Lay’s Chinese Szechuan Chicken Potato Chips, which I didn’t love.

Much like I’ve experienced with Orange Chicken, the breading was still a little crispy, even though it’s coated in a sauce. The chicken inside was a little dry. The bell peppers and onions also give the entree a crisp texture. My double serving of the dish was heavy on the onions, but light on the green beans.

Is Panda Express’ General Tso’s Chicken worth getting?

I want to say “Tno” just because that would make an awesome ending, but that would be a complete lie. It’s not Orange Chicken good, but I enjoyed it. So if you’re at Panda Express, Tgo ahead and try it.

(Nutrition Facts – 5.7 oz serving – 330 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 910 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 19 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $8.40
Size: 2-Choice Entree Plate
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Nice change of pace from Orange Chicken or SweetFire Chicken Breast. More savory than sweet sauce. Crispy breading. Crispy vegetables.
Cons: Not as good as Orange Chicken. Chicken was a little dry. Why do I taste hot dog water? Not being able to use “Tno” to end a review.

REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Oreo Milk ‘n Cereal Ice Cream

Baskin-Robbins Oreo Milk ‘n Cereal Ice Cream

Move your cursor away from the search box on Amazon.com. Stop trying to scroll through the listings of international breakfast foods. Do yourself a favor and cancel your vacation plans to South Korea.

Oreo O’s are dead.

The cereal does not exist anymore. Not here in the States, not in Seoul, not even in freaking Pyongyang. Why else do you think Kim Jong-un is shooting missiles into the ocean?

The magical elixir of milk that blends the sweet chocolaty taste of cookies and the crunchy wholesomeness of breakfast cereal is but a distant memory. In its place we have a few attempts at compromise, but who are we kidding? The stale abomination known as Cookie Crisp will never suffice, nor will a new limited edition Oreo creme which tastes like sixteen bowls of Fruity Pebbles.

But perhaps we have been looking in the wrong places. Instead of trying to find the soul of Oreo O’s in cereal or even cookies, perhaps the flavor explosion of sweet milk, chocolate, and corn cereal can be resurrected in ice cream form?

As our 1990s selves would have said: Well, DUH!

I have eaten a lot of off-the-wall Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavors in my day, but the new Oreo Milk ‘n Cereal flavor is my favorite, mostly because it captures the Oreo and cereal vibe that only my beloved Oreo O’s had been able to do. But if I thought the combination of Oreo chocolate wafers embedded into a crunchy corn cereal base was good, then Oreo Milk ‘n Cereal ice cream borrows a line from Tony the Tiger and is Gr-r-reat!

Baskin-Robbins Oreo Milk ‘n Cereal Ice Cream 2

The cereal milk flavored ice cream basically tastes like a sweeter, richer, and thicker version of a really good cookies and cream ice cream; one studded with so many crunchy Oreo pieces you’d have thought an entire package of Oreos went into a single scoop. This isn’t some store-brand cookies and cream. Big chunks of rounded, ridged edged Oreo wafers are packed with a bittersweet chocolate flavor that contrasts the sweet ice cream base and the slightly salty, chewy frosted flakes ribbon.

Baskin-Robbins Oreo Milk ‘n Cereal Ice Cream 3

What’s this, you say? The description reads frosted corn flake cereal pieces and a crunchy frosted corn flake cereal ribbon. Well that it does, but the description is as big a fib as telling you that you can still buy a box of Oreo O’s on Amazon.

Truth be told, I licked every nook and cranny of this cone, and the corn flake ribbon and frosted flake pieces are one and the same. The pieces have an odd texture that’s somewhere between the discontinued Frosted Flakes Gold, a northern style corn bread, and, I swear I’m not making this up, Corn Nuts. If that wasn’t complicated enough, there’s also notes of waffle cone and Cap’n Crunch, although I suspect the latter is due to toasting the clustered ribbon in coconut oil.

Long list of ingredients aside, It’s like having a corn cakes breakfast-flavored cereal, and it’s beyond delicious (note to Kellogg’s: Get on that).

I was actually a little skeptical that Oreo cookies and corn/frosted flakes would work together, but the result is a surprisingly harmonious ménage à trois, hearkening back to Oreo O’s while introducing another layer of crunchy corn sweetness and sweet creamy flavor. So do yourself a favor and wipe those tears from your keyboard, because you’ll soon be dripping melting ice cream (and tears of joy) all over the space bar.

(Nutrition Facts – 2.5 ounce scoop (small) – 200 calories, 180 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 16 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: Small Scoop
Purchased at: Baskin-Robbins
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a combination of Oreo O’s, Frosted Flakes, pancakes, and Cap’n Crunch all in one lick. Sweet and rich cookies and cream vibe from the cereal milk base. Excellent contrast of crunchy and creamy.
Cons: Cereal element isn’t exactly as advertised and isn’t crispy in the way cereal is. Crying over spilled (cereal) milk.