REVIEW: Silk Nextmilk Whole Fat

Silk Next Milk Whole Fat Carton

What is Silk Nextmilk?

Silk Nextmilk is a plant-based blend starring oat mik, soy milk, and coconut milk, among other, less pithy ingredients. It comes in both whole fat and 2% reduced fat varieties (this review focuses on the whole fat option). Rather than claiming to faithfully imitate dairy milk, Silk boldly declares that this alternative “tastes so rich and creamy, you won’t miss dairy.” I’m such a milk lover that I might as well be Miss Dairy, so we’ll see about that…

How is it?

Silk Next Milk Whole Fat Compare

I can only describe the process of transferring the Nextmilk from carton to glass as a “glug.” Even before the taste test, it certainly looked rich and creamy. Side-by-side with a glass of dairy milk (Nextmilk on the right), I found that the Nextmilk seemed the teensiest bit darker in color, but the really noticeable aesthetic difference was that the Nextmilk was so thick that after the first swig, a conspicuously cloudy coating clung to the inside of the glass for the rest of my sipping session.

Silk Next Milk Whole Fat Closeup

My first impression of the taste was “mildly nutty,” which is not shocking given the ingredients list. Fittingly, it reminded me of both oat and soy milk. Knowing that there’s coconut in the mix also explains the faint hint of sweetness I detected, but overall it’s more earthy than sweet. Excuse me for being particular about semantics (I’m a textbook editor, it’s literally my job!), but I’d actually change the branding to “texture so rich and creamy,” since I feel like that’s where this Nextmilk really shines. The taste is certainly pleasant, but I was mostly impressed by the smooth consistency, so full and satisfying it even kept my hangry mood at bay between meals.

Anything else you need to know?

The carton proudly proclaims that this milk shares the same six key nutrients found in dairy (Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus, and Riboflavin), and it does all that while being free from not just dairy but also gluten, carrageenan, and artificial color and flavors! In my personal opinion it also makes for a pretty luxurious bowl of cereal.

Conclusion:

While you won’t mistake Nextmilk for its dairy cousin, it’s a plantastic substitute for any number of audiences, no matter if you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, a novelty-seeker, or just craving some velvety texture.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 59 fl oz carton
Purchased at: Foodtown
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) 110 calories, 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Wings

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Wings Box

If you had told me a year ago, or heck, even just a few days ago, that I’d be “winging” in 2022 by reviewing chicken wings from Taco Bell, I would have said you were out of your gourd (or gordita, as it were). But if you squint, I guess there’s a strange sort of synergy to it. In recent years Taco Bell has been expanding its roster of alcohol-slinging “Cantina” locations, and what’s a more appropriate bar food than wings?

My first impression was that these Crispy Chicken Wings… looked like chicken wings. That’s maybe not the most profound musing, but cut me some slack, this was the first time I’d ever purchased, nay, even conceived of the idea of a food item from Taco Bell that was not slathered in cheese, beans, sour cream, or some combination thereof. I don’t know, I would have felt more at home if they’d at least slapped a gratuitous Doritos Locos logo on there or something.

I began by searching for the advertised “Mexican Queso seasoning.” I was eventually able to divine some, dare I say, cheetle-esque orange dust, but these wings are pretty standard-looking (albeit crispy). I would describe the coating as more ambiguously savory than particularly cheesy, but my main impression of its taste was, plain and simple, “fried,” which I consider to be a compliment!

Digging in deeper led me to a discovery even more surprising than the fact that Taco Bell is offering chicken wings in the first place, which is the fact that Taco Bell chicken wings are actually quite good.

My wings were tender and flavorful, the meat practically falling off the bone without the grittiness or stringiness that can plague lesser chicken items. I was pleasantly surprised that each wing offered a couple satisfying mouthfuls of meat that didn’t require me to gnaw at the bone for scraps like a hyena. I mean, of course I did that too, but it was for fun, not out of necessity!

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Wings Spicy Ranch

These wings are served with a side of Spicy Ranch sauce, and while I can see how that creamy tingliness could elevate the experience for some, I personally found it a bit overpowering and was glad to let the moist meat stand on its own two chicken feet. The extra oomph of the crispy coating definitely helped, and between that and the substantial meat-to-bone ratio, the experience almost felt more like eating a hunk of fried chicken than a wing specifically. But maybe that’s just because one of my wings was so misshapen and chunky that it looked more like the state of Texas than anything that had once allowed a bird to fly.

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Wings Texas

All in all, I had a blast with these wings (a Mountain Dew Baja Blast, to be precise). As long as you make it to your local Taco Bell before their week-long Chicken Run – which started on January 6th — is over, I think you will too.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: Five chicken wings per box
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 750 calories with Spicy Ranch sauce/530 without, 54/31 grams of fat, 10/6 grams of saturated fat, 230/205 milligrams of cholesterol, 1970/1770 milligrams of sodium, 26/23 grams of carbohydrates, 3/2 grams of fiber, 1/0 gram of sugar, and 40/39 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Milk Bar Gingerbread House Ice Cream

Milk Bar Gingerbread House Ice Cream Pint

What is Milk Bar Gingerbread House Ice Cream?

This festive flavor is an on-brand addition to Milk Bar’s lineup of quirky-but-upscale re-imaginings of nostalgic desserts. Between the chunks of gingerbread cookie, brightly colored candy “gems,” and sweet bits of icing, this gingerbread-flavored ice cream is more filled than Santa’s sleigh.

How is it?

Milk Bar Gingerbread House Ice Cream Cookie

My first bite of pure ice cream was pleasantly milky with a hint of spice — tasty, but not quite something to write to the North Pole about. The cookie that I secured in my next spoonful packed a much stronger punch of ginger flavor, with an interesting consistency more solid than cookie dough but not as firm as an actual cookie (a bit reminiscent of a Ben & Jerry’s mix-in).

Milk Bar Gingerbread House Ice Cream Icing

When I found some icing next (the white color is surprisingly hard to identify in the tannish ice cream), its burst of sugariness was much more flavorful than the bland, just-for-show icing I typically associate with gingerbread cookies. Like the cookie crunch, it also brings a textural surprise — it doesn’t appear in the thick, creamy spirals illustrated on the pint, but rather as a series of squarish shards more similar to pieces of white chocolate.

On their own, these ingredients were tasty though not particularly thrilling. But when I finally scooped up ice cream, icing, and cookie all together, the sweetness of the icing and the spice of the cookie contrasted very nicely, and the rich ice cream was a satisfying backdrop to hold it all together.

Milk Bar Gingerbread House Ice Cream Top

Oh yeah, and I guess the candy gems were there too. They just didn’t add much more than a pop of (admittedly welcome) color.

Anything else you need to know?

In case you missed the banner on the pint saying so four times in a row, this flavor is seasonal, so be sure to grab some before it makes like a Christmas tree and leaves.

Conclusion:

Filled with cookies and icing, Milk Bar Gingerbread House Ice Cream’s blend of sugar, spice, and everything ice is sure to end up on the nice list.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 400 calories, 23 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Toasted White Chocolate Signature Latte

Dunkin Toasted White Chocolate Signature Latte Iced and Hot

My relationship with coffee can best be described as a fairweather friend; when things are light and sweet, I’m the biggest fan, but the second it gets dark and bitter, I’m out of there.

For fellow lovers of milky, sugary, frilly coffees, I’m glad to report that Dunkin’s new Toasted White Chocolate Signature Latte is a dream come true. This review was the first time I’ve had both hot and iced variants of a latte simultaneously, and I was pleasantly surprised that their tastes were as distinct as their temperatures.

Dunkin Toasted White Chocolate Signature Latte Iced

To celebrate an unseasonably warm day in late fall, I started with the iced version. On a sweetness scale from “plain cold brew” to “milkshake,” it fell solidly at “Frappuccino” level (that is to say, pretty dang sweet). Alongside the pure richness and creaminess of the white chocolate flavor, which was matched by the pure richness and creaminess of the thick, dense whipped cream on top, the “toasted” aspect of the name shined, accentuated by the cinnamon sugar dusting. The drink’s topping also contained a caramel drizzle, but as syrups tend to do, it quickly melted into the whipped cream in an indistinguishable blob, so it didn’t impact the flavor much for me.

As a white chocolate aficionado, I often lament its relegation to seasonal status, but I’ve got to say that this blissful combination of sweet and smokey was as perfect a winter treat as lounging by the fireplace on a snowy day. Bonus points for living up to the image on the poster about as faithfully as possible under the confines of the whipped-cream-smushing lid.

Dunkin Toasted White Chocolate Signature Latte Poster

Dunkin Toasted White Chocolate Signature Latte Hot

Interestingly, my hot latte was reminiscent of a different iconic winter flavor: gingerbread. After consulting the label to make sure I hadn’t picked up the wrong order, I started to suspect this had to do with the coffee-to-mouth pipeline. Sipping the iced latte from a straw allowed me to skip the whip and get right to the heart of the drink, but since I was swigging the hot latte directly from the opening in the lid, the whipped cream and its accoutrements were the first things that rose to meet me. The heated combination of whipped cream richness, white chocolate toastiness, and the light bite of cinnamon all at once gave the hot version its zesty, cookie-esque character (I found the caramel didn’t make much of a mark in this version, either). Once I slurped past the wintry mix on top, I was met with a beverage as sweet, full-bodied, and comforting as a cup of cocoa.

I couldn’t detect even the faintest hint of acrid coffee taste in either version, which suited me just fine. Ultimately, I might recommend the hot latte over the iced just because it isn’t subject to the same “melting ice diluting the flavor” issue that can plague a cold drink that isn’t chugged quickly enough. But honestly, as long as you don’t mind a serious sugar rush, either variant is so delicious that you just might want to drink it as quickly as possible regardless.

Purchased Price: $4.56
Size: Small
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 11 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium (hot) or 135 milligrams of sodium (iced), 42 grams of total carbohydrates, 38 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Papa John’s Triple Bacon Pizza

Papa John s Triple Bacon Pizza Whole

What’s meatier than a Shaq-a-Roni, more novel than a Papadia, and able to clog three times as many arteries in a single bound? Papa John’s new Triple Bacon Pizza! Its claim to fame is containing three types of bacon: crumbles, julienne-cut pieces of Canadian bacon, and good old-fashioned strips.

At first glance, the strips were the most noticeable part of my pie. The chunky juliennes stood out as well, but were more prone to being submerged under cheese (this often made for a nice mid-bite surprise). The crumbles were the shrinking violets of the trio, with their smaller size, denser texture, and deeper color, making them surprisingly hard to tell apart from the dark dots of cheese. The lattice of varying shapes, textures, and shades of red made the pie look almost like a piece of avant-garde art—so like any good art connoisseur would, I immediately ripped it apart with my teeth.

The strips were, well, typical bacon strips, though I particularly enjoyed the variations in texture, with some bites lean and burnt and others fatty and chewy. On the other hand, the juliennes were consistently thick and tender, and since they were Canadian bacon, they had a slightly sweeter, meatier taste. I’m finding it harder to sum up the crumbles, whose standout feature seemed to be that they were just the strips, only torn into pieces. Papa John’s website specifically describes the crumbles as “smokey,” but for me the bulk of the smokey flavor came from the sheer surface area covered by the strips. While the strips were large enough that each one tended to have representation of both crispness and meatiness (even if they weren’t evenly distributed), each crumble typically only captured one of those flavors, which meant they didn’t contribute distinctly to the overall taste.

Papa John s Triple Bacon Pizza Slice

While I deeply appreciated the audacity of laying down full bacon strips across the entire pie, the flavorful juliennes with their perfectly pluckable shape were my favorite of the three types. Hearty enough to stand alongside the slice instead of just blending in, they had a similar appeal to the classic meatball or sausage pizza toppings, while the thin strips meshed with the cheese and sauce as smoothly as pepperoni. I’m not sure exactly what the advantage of the crumbles was. They felt like they were just tacked on as a cheap way to get a third selling point for this new menu item, and I suspect the two star students would shine better without them.

Papa John s Triple Bacon Pizza Bpx

All in all, the savory saltiness of these three breeds of bacon was a great, if not exactly world-shattering, pairing for Papa John’s dense cheese and sweet sauce. It made me wonder how this classic breakfast topping would hold up on a slice eaten cold the next morning, but my household demolished our box too quickly to tell. Fortunately, this meaty marvel is good enough that I don’t mind having an excuse to get it again some time and find out.

Purchased Price: $13 (that’s for the basic Triple Bacon pie, though I splurged an additional $3 to add stuffed crust)
Size: Large
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Information not available on website.