REVIEW: McDonald’s Kale & Feta More-Ning McWrap (Canada)

McDonald's Kale & Feta More-Ning McWrap

Over the last few weeks, an overwhelming amount of attention has been paid to McDonald’s breakfast menu — specifically, to the Golden Arches finally ceding to popular demand and serving that menu all day.

Sadly, despite being bombarded with news articles and ads, we don’t get to partake in your newfangled “all day breakfast” up here in Canada. So I had to suffer the indignity of leaving the house before 10:00 AM. On a weekend. Like a farmer.

I think the first thing I have to note is that the name of these wraps just does not make sense at all. More-Ning? What does that even mean? What’s a Ning? Why would I want more of it? I guess it’s supposed to be a pun? Apparently someone at McDonald’s didn’t get the memo that puns are supposed to make sense.

Inscrutable wordplay aside, McDonald’s has introduced two breakfast wraps: Sausage & Hash Brown, and Kale & Feta.

I went with the Kale & Feta, which consists of scrambled eggs, feta cheese, baby kale, and a few slices of tomato, all wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla. That’s it. No sauce, no seasoning — it’s literally just those four ingredients (mostly kale) crammed into a dry tortilla.

This was especially off-putting in the first few bites, which consisted entirely of plain kale and tortilla; it was surprisingly horrifying. There are some vegetables that can be eaten on their own without any dressing or accompaniment; kale is not one of them.

Things improved somewhat once I got to the other three ingredients at the centre of the wrap… but not by much.

There’s something missing here; it doesn’t taste good. It’s not the quality of the ingredients, which were fine. The scrambled eggs were a little dry and way underseasoned, but they were decent enough. And they were downright gourmet when you compare them to the rubbery yellow slabs of sadness that they pass off as eggs at some other fast food joints (Tim Hortons, I’m looking squarely in your direction).

The kale and tomatoes were both reasonably fresh, and the crumbled feta gives the wrap a bit of a salty kick, trying valiantly bring some flavour and personality — an uphill battle that it just can’t win.

McDonald's Kale & Feta More-Ning McWrap 2

It’s odd; though the ingredients are all okay, they don’t taste particularly good in this configuration. I’m gonna be blunt: this thing tastes like you went dumpster diving at a health food store and then crammed a few ingredients at random into a tortilla.

What this wrap really needs is something — anything — to lubricate things and provide some flavour. Maybe if the kale had been tossed in a vinaigrette, or if it had been cooked, then this wrap could have been half-way edible. But here — raw, undressed, and abundant — it was a bit of an endurance test.

I actually really enjoyed McDonald’s last foray into the world of kale, the I’m Greek-ing Out salad (which also had the benefit of being named with a pun that actually made sense), so I’m not inherently biased against kale at McDonald’s.

But though that salad was ostensibly healthy, it had enough dressing and other tasty bits to remind you that you were at McDonald’s, and not the cafeteria at your local gym. The Kale & Feta McWrap, on the other hand, tastes like health food through-and-through. It’s tastes like the type of health food that gives health food a bad name.

It might just be the worst thing I’ve ever had from McDonald’s — and I tried the McOnion Bits.

(Nutrition Facts – 400 calories, 19 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.4 grams of trans fat, 420 milligrams of cholesterol, 840 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fibre, 3 grams of sugar, 21 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Kale & Feta More-Ning McWrap (Canada)
Purchased Price: $3.99 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Decent eggs. Fresh veggies.
Cons: Tastes like a health food store dumpster. Ingredients don’t work well together. Dry. Raw kale overload. Desperately needs some kind of dressing. McOnion Bits flashbacks.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

If you want to hoard Starbucks Pumpkin Spice drinks so you can enjoy them year round, you either have to freeze Pumpkin Spice Lattes and then later warm them up in the microwave or hit the black market for expired Starbucks pumpkin spice syrup pumps. But this year there’s a third way and it’s available at Costco.

The Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink may not be handmade by a Starbucks Barista who wrote PSL on the side of the cup, but because it’s Costco, it’s available in bulk. It’s 12 bottles to be exact. So if you buy a pallet of them, you’ll have enough to last you until next pumpkin spice latte season.

Unlike a pumpkin spice latte you can purchase at a Starbucks location, this version has no pumpkin in it. But it does have an ingredient list short enough that I could type it here to slightly boost the word count of this review: Brewed Starbucks Coffee, Reduced-Fat Milk, Sugar, Skim Milk, Maltodextrin, Cream, Natural Flavors, and Pectin. Mmm…pectin.

At first, I thought the ginger flavor stood out a bit too much for my tastes. I think the coffee makes the spice stand out more. But, since I purchased 12 bottles of the stuff, I’ve had to drink a lot of it. And the more I drink it the more I like it. Perhaps I’m getting Pumpkin Spiceholm Syndrome.

There’s also a little nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, and a whole lot of sugar in each sip, which makes the beverage really sweet. There’s also a lot of milk too, but it’s not whole milk so it has a thin texture. While I could see it being too sweet for some people, me and my future cavities are fine with it.

The bottle suggests to serve it chilled or over ice, but since I’m a rebel (and have 12 bottles of the stuff), I did some experimenting and warmed up a mug of it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It was wonderful and it reminded me of a pumpkin spice latte. Actually, I think I might prefer it heated over chilled.

A question some of you might be asking is if it’s an adequate replacement for when the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino is erased from the boards from Starbucks locations for the year. No, of course not. These bottled Frappuccinos are no match flavor-wise for those handmade, wonderful, blended, sweet, and brain freeze-inducing beverages that have a nutritional bio similar to many fast food burgers. But if you’re jonesing for a pumpkin spice coffee drink in February, this’ll do.

(Nutrition Facts – 210 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and 25% calcium.)

Item: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink
Purchased Price: ???
Size: 12 pack/9.5 oz bottles
Purchased at: Costco
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good chilled or warmed up. Hoardable. Better nutritional bio than a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.
Cons: Ginger flavor might be a bit strong for some. Might be too sweet for some. Available in 12 packs, so if you don’t like it, you’ve got 11 more bottles to go through. Not as delicious as a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.

REVIEW: Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper

I know what everyone is going talk about regarding Burger King’s A.1. Halloween Whopper. They’re going to discuss how one particular ingredient perfectly fits the Halloween theme of the burger. Some people will think it looks disgusting. Others will be fine with it.

Yes, as you have probably guessed, I’m talking about Burger King’s iceberg lettuce. That ghostly white lettuce with a green tint is disgusting, scary, and reminds me of the skin color of many Scooby Doo villains. But those make it an appropriate addition to this Halloween-themed Whopper.

Besides that spooky lettuce, this limited time only item has a 1/4 lb flame-grilled beef patty, a slice of American cheese, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, onions, and A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce on a black sesame seed bun.

The bun is not only black, it also has A.1. Sauce flavor baked into it. But it doesn’t get its color completely from the sauce. So what gives it its color? It’s not squid ink, Sharpie pens, charcoal, mold, or Hot Topic. Looking through the bun’s ingredient list and pulling out possibilities, it could be a combination of FD&C Red #40, FD&C Blue #1, raisin juice concentrate, Worcerstershire sauce, caramel color, and FD&C Yellow #6. Mmmm…FD&C Yellow #6.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper Top

At times the bun does have a slightly sweet and smokey flavor to it, but it’s faint and it disappears quickly. Maybe my tongue is imagining things or maybe the flavor is a ghost. But while eating the burger, the question I asked myself was, “Why include A.1. Sauce in the bun, if there’s A.1. Sauce in the burger?” Because the bun doesn’t make the burger taste A.1.-ier.

If you’re reading this in the middle of December and want to know what this Whopper tastes like, get into your car, tune your car’s FM radio dial to 101.5 to designate October 2015, and then drive 88 miles per hour…to the nearest Burger King location (or one that’s farther away because you’ll get there quickly if you’re going 88 miles per hour). When you get there, order a Whopper your way with American cheese and A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce because that’s what this burger tastes like.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper Wrapper

The A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce wasn’t very thick. If it was, much of it wouldn’t have ended up on my hands and the Whopper’s festive mummy wrapper. It tastes exactly like regular thin and light A.1. Steak Sauce, which I’ve enjoyed on overcooked steaks from chain restaurants. Unfortunately, because it kept plopping out of the burger, I didn’t taste the sauce in every bite. Also, I think the mayonnaise diluted its flavor.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper Half

The beef patty has that unique Burger King flavor that’s the chain’s fingerprint. It’s a flavor I enjoy. But the tomato, onions, pickles, and white lettuce did a wonderful job of bringing down the overall temperature of the burger, making it slightly unpleasant to eat. As for the cheese, let’s face it, it really doesn’t do anything flavor-wise on a regular Whopper. But it does something color-wise with this burger by matching nicely with the black bun.

Overall, I enjoyed the look of the A.1. Halloween Whopper more than its flavor. The burger is full of Halloween colors, and I have to admit the black bun was cool to experience with my own eyes. But the burger’s flavor wasn’t anything special since it can easily be recreated after the promotion is over. And, of course, that ghost lettuce freaks me out.

Update: There’s one bit of information I need to add. The dyes in the bun might turn your poop green. I’ve experienced this. Others in my household have experienced this. Commenters have experienced it. I apologize for the grossness of this, but I needed to mention it in case someone out there is on a toilet and freaking out because their poop is green. But you have to admit, green poop does fit with the Halloween theme.

(Nutrition Facts – 710 calories, 390 calories from fat, 43 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 1530 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 31 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper
Purchased Price: $6.39*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a Whopper with A.1. Sauce. Black bun is something cool you should see with your own eyes. Very festive; lots of Halloween colors. Mummy wrapper is neat.
Cons: Tastes like a Whopper with A.1. Sauce. Ghost lettuce freaks me out. Black bun baked with A.1. flavor doesn’t have a lot of flavor. A.1. Sauce everywhere. Produce does a great job of bringing down the temperature of the burger. Bun may make your poop turn green.

*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: Starbucks Toasted Graham Latte

Starbucks Toasted Graham Latte

As dawn breaks over the picturesque landscape, a farmer, with cup in hand, approaches the docile, grazing Teddy Graham that he has been raising since it was a wee cub. The Graham eyes him indifferently as he fills his cup with milk from the giant, bear-shaped cracker. He pats it on the back lovingly and carries the cup towards a counter in the distance.

“One Toasted Graham Latte for Dan?”

That’s is how I like to imagine the folks at Starbucks make their new Toasted Graham Latte, and if I hadn’t seen them mixing it together with my own eyes, I would have believed it, too.

This latest concoction from the ‘Bucks blends graham, steamed milk, cream, and espresso with a topping of cinnamon graham crumbles. It’s available in both hot and iced forms, but I chose the former, since the oxymoronic idea of having a drink be “iced and toasted” makes my brain freeze and fry.

Starbucks Toasted Graham Latte 2

Prying away the lid of my cup, I marvel at the InstaGraham worthy cinnamon and graham cracker dust that looks like it was gently scattered by some hypocritical, tooth-rotting Tooth Fairy.

After sipping this top layer, I suddenly realize why the Toasted Graham Latte was released so close to Halloween time: it’s just like that infamously NSFW hot tub face-melting scene from Halloween 2, but with Michael Meyers murdering a Cinnamon Teddy Graham in a steamed milk Jacuzzi instead.

The faint spice of cinnamon and the earthier, honey graham sweetness of the crispy crumbles pleasantly balance the hyper sugary vanilla onslaught of the whipped cream.

But once the crumbs are all slurped up, things get a little…crummier. Without the complexity of the graham pieces to counteract the cream, the middle third of my TGL simply became an uncomfortable, cloying mess of melted cream and milk.

Starbucks Toasted Graham Latte 3

After begrudgingly sucking this part down, I realized there was hope in the final third of the drink. Like a caffeinated Atlantis, all the espresso and graham syrup flavor had sunk down into the bottom. After many milliliters of hardship, my submarine tongue was happy to discover it.

When making my drink, the Starbucks barista excitedly exclaimed how it “smelled just like a s’more!” I half expected her to verbally add a *heart eyes emoji* to the end of her sentence.

But now I see that she was right. The bitter darkness of the espresso imparts woodsy notes on the sticky, leftover cream, making it quite like a toasted marshmallow.

This, along with the artificial and rich graham syrup, left me with a tasty, liquid s’more facsimile, albeit one where someone swapped the Hershey’s chocolate with coffee beans (I don’t care what kind of pranks they pulled in the ‘20s, Grandpa: it’s not funny!)

So like the Earth, a well made taco salad, and Shrek, the new Toasted Graham Latte from Starbucks has layers. From the blended cinnamon and sugar top, to the disturbing primordial soup in the middle, all the way to the liquefied campfire classic on the bottom, your enjoyment of this drink will likely hinge on how deep into it you’re willing to go.

Since exactly two-thirds of the latte is good, I should technically give it an infinitely repeating 6.66 out of 10. But since I’m an Internet food reviewer and not a mathematician, I guess I’ll have to round up.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have a box of Teddy Grahams that need a good melting. *bear emoji* *fire emoji* *skull emoji*

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz with 2% milk – 230 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 31 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Toasted Graham Latte
Purchased Price: $4.51
Size: 12 oz.
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Teddy Graham giblets on top. Caffeinated s’more cocktail on bottom. Imaginary snack cookie dairy farms. Filing a patent for “Milk Jacuzzis.”
Cons: Overly sweet nastiness in the middle. Speaking in emojis. Trying to milk a real bear. Not being able to give Halloween snacks a 666/10.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club

Jack in the Box Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club

I don’t think I cared for Jack in the Box’s premium crispy chicken sandwich, whatever it was called. See. I don’t even remember its name. That’s how much I didn’t care for it. I’ve probably had it a couple of times, but I can’t recall the last time I ordered it.

But then again, maybe I did like it and the reason why I haven’t had it in so long is because Jack in the Box has so much damn stuff on their menu that it’s hard to make up my mind.

Well, whatever that chicken sandwich was called, Jack’s new Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club has replaced it.

It features a new Southern-style breaded chicken fillet, grilled hickory smoked bacon, ranch sauce, lettuce, tomato, and cheese on a gourmet bun. If you’re wondering if this new chicken has buttermilk like McDonald’s new chicken, its ingredient list appears to have a lot of components that could be in buttermilk, but doesn’t specifically say buttermilk. If you’re not satisfied with that non-answer, perhaps the ingredient list will help you figure it out…or, more likely, help you fall asleep. Here it is:

Chicken Breast Fillets with Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning (Yeast Extract, Salt, Natural Flavor and Chicken Fat), Modified Food Starch, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Seasoning [Whey Powder, Non-fat Dry Milk, Maltodextrin (from Corn) Anhydrous Milkfat, Cultures, Lactic, Soy Lecithin, Sodium Citrate, Culture (Milk)], and Seasoning [Water, Sodium Benzoate (preservative)]. Breaded with: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Battered with: Water, Have You Fallen Asleep Yet, Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Salt, Sugar, You’re Getting Sleepy, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate), Sleepy, Nonfat Dry Milk, Garlic Powder, Yawn, Spice, Onion Powder, Dextrose, and Spice Extractive. Predusted with: Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Zzzzz, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Dried Egg Whites, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Soybean Oil.

Jack in the Box Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club Halves

It was surprising to see how good my sandwich looked. Of course, your results may vary. There’s the bright green lettuce, a layer of bacon to ensure there’s enough in every bite, red tomatoes, the shiny glow of that wonderful slightly sweet gourmet bun, and the golden brown breading on the chicken. Even the melted cheese that congealed makes this sandwich look good. And it has a flavor that matches those looks.

When eaten separately, the chicken reminds me a little bit of KFC. It tastes like it has all those secret herbs and spices, but in lower quantities. The breading is crispy and makes an audible crunch. The chicken under it has a decent thickness, albeit a little dry. The bacon is smoky, salty, and porky, but unfortunately also chewy and not at all crispy. The cheese doesn’t seem to add anything, but it does help prevent the bacon from falling out.

Jack in the Box Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club Split

But what made me enjoy this sandwich was the ranch sauce and how it complemented the chicken. It’s been on numerous menu items that, like the previous crispy chicken sandwich, I can’t name, but it really works on this. While I’m not sure if buttermilk is used to season the chicken, the tanginess of the ranch sauce makes it taste like it was.

Much like the Buttery Jack being a step up from Jack in the Box’s previous premium burgers, the Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club is a step up from…whatever it was called. I like this new chicken sandwich so much that I won’t forget its name.

(Nutrition Facts – 632 calories, 250 calories from fat, 28 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 72 milligrams of cholesterol, 1687 milligrams of sodium, 512 milligrams of potassium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 34 grams of protein..)

Item: Jack in the Box Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club
Purchased Price: $7.99 (small combo)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Ranch sauce complements the chicken well. Lots of bacon. Green lettuce. Crispy breading. My sandwich looks really good. That gourmet bun; liked it with the Buttery Jack, and I like it with this.
Cons: Bacon not crispy. Chicken a little dry. Long ingredient lists that make you sleepy. Cheese seems to be used more as an adhesive than something that adds flavor.