REVIEW: Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps

Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps

Once upon a time there was a cracker called Triscuit. It was wheat, oil, and salt. And for 50 years people liked it…allegedly.

Look, I’m not hear to disparage the tastes of those from the Greatest Generation. As far as I’m concerned, if you kick the Nazis asses and rise out of the Great Depression, you’ve more than earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to what you consider good eats. These days though, I’m glad we have more than a few Triscuit flavors and other crackers to crunch. Rosemary and olive oil, caraway and dill, sundried tomato and basil—seriously, just give me some aged cheese and I’m ready to go to town.

Or not.

Triscuit’s latest crackers, the Wasabi & Soy Sauce Thin Crisps made with brown rice, don’t exactly lend themselves to cheese pairings. But one would think the pungent and salty double-whammy of wasabi and soy sauce would provide more than enough flavor to render toppings unnecessary. Good thing? The jury was out as I stared down the cracker box in my local grocery store with echoes of bygone Super Bowl beer commercials reverberating through my noggin. But clearly this cracker dared to go where few mainstream crackers have gone before, and I knew I had to try it.

Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps 3

I’ve previously been intrigued by the crunch of the newer versions of Brown Rice Triscuits, but this is the first time the company has offered it in a Thin Crisps variety. The box claims the wasabi and soy sauce combination will deliver a “deeply intense flavor experience.”

It doesn’t.

I know this because I could stuff a handful of the crisps in my mouth and not make that face Steve Spurrier makes when his team fails to convert on third down. Also known as my Wasabi Face, it typically involves a momentary cessation of all vital breathing functions, an inward suction of the cheeks and lips, and, most importantly, a slight head shake in acknowledgement of the sinus-clearing capacity of wasabi paste.

Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps 5

Because I go balls to the walls when I eat crackers, I made sure to measure the relative intensity of a handful of crisp against a single crisp topped with a dollop of actual Wasabi paste and a drizzle of soy sauce. Long story short, I instantly cleared up any nasal congestion by eating the latter crisp. I couldn’t say that about the former, although I did save my face from quite a bit of contorting.

Truth be told, I could appreciate having the flavor of wasabi in a cracker without having to subject myself to the physical effects of actual wasabi. Making a constipated face isn’t exactly how one envisions his or herself during the social occasions that oftentimes feature crackers, and in the modest flavor of the wasabi, in tandem with a subtle toasted brown rice sweetness, I found a happy snacking medium. Nevertheless, I do wish the soy sauce flavor had more pop, both in terms of its saltiness and that umami savoriness which makes it such a natural compliment to rice. It’s just not there, and if anything, I found the crackers to be slightly sweet instead of moderately, but pleasantly, salty.

Speaking of rice, while I appreciate the crunch on each crisp, the decibel level created within your noggin from each bite is incredibly distracting. Those who struggle with multitasking may wish to use caution, as chewing the Thin Crisps is not advised while listening to significant others speaking and/or operating heavy machinery. On second thought, these might actually come in handy…

Triscuit’s Wasabi & Soy Sauce Thin Crisps are a daring flavor for a mainstream cracker brand that has almost become synonymous as nothing more than a vehicle for cheese. But like most steps out of the familiar confines of our snacking comfort zone, the new crisps play it safe enough not to blow anyone’s head off with the intensity of their flavor.

(Nutrition Facts – 10 crackers or 30g – 130 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7.6 oz. box
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good change of pace from regular old boring Triscuit flavor. Brown rice has subtle toasted sweetness. Wasabi flavor without causing looks of constipation and third down futility. Whole grains.
Cons: Soy sauce flavor is weak. Wasabi flavor lacks nasal-clearing pungency of actual wasabi paste. Asian flavor profile kills the usual the cheese and cracker vibe with Triscuit. Makes a loud ass noise inside your head when you chew.

REVIEW: Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel

Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel 1

I think I’ve mentioned before that, despite being a Canadian and thus being obligated to love Tim Hortons, I’m just not a big fan. That’s not to say that I hate the place, but I don’t drink coffee, and there are only a handful of their doughnuts that I actually enjoy (including the tragically departed Walnut Crunch — good night sweet prince; you were too beautiful for this world).

I won’t even go into their savoury foods, which I will charitably describe as hit-and-miss.

So it was with some trepidation that I tried their pretzel bagel. It seems like an odd idea, though soft pretzels are already somewhat bagel-like, so it’s actually not such a weird amalgamation. Pretzels and bagels are even prepared in a similar way; in each case, the dough is boiled before baking.

I tried it a couple of ways. The signage for the bagel says to try it with their new mustard spread (described on the bill, oddly, as “Mustard Butter”). So I ate the first one in the store, toasted and spread with the mustard.

Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel 2

I also took a couple home to try plain; this is where the bagel really shined. Fresh, with a lightly crisp exterior and a chewy interior, it is addictive. I tore off a piece of one in the car just to see what it tasted like plain, and it was so good that I wound up eating the entire thing right there and then. It basically tastes like a really good soft pretzel, but with a bit more heft.

The toasted bagel didn’t fare quite as well. The toasting turns the lightly crisp exterior full-out crunchy, and makes the bagel’s interior less chewy and more fluffy. It becomes a different beast altogether, and one I didn’t enjoy nearly as much. I also think all the rock salt fell off in the toaster; the untoasted ones had quite a bit on top (which added a welcome punch of flavour), but the toasted one was pretty much naked.

As for the mustard spread, it had a buttery, weakly mustardy flavour that was far too mild to make much of an impact. Maybe it would have worked if there had been about double the amount, but as it was it was pretty useless.

If you’re a fan of soft pretzels, this is a complete no-brainer. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll like it. Skip the mustard and skip the toasting; just order the bagel as-is and take a bite. You’ll thank me later. It’s basically like a pretzel and a bagel had a baby in the best way possible, and it’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever had from Tim Hortons.

(Nutrition Facts – Bagel – 310 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 780 milligrams of sodium, 61 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 4 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein. Mustard Spread (12 grams) – 60 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, and 0.2 grams of protein,.)

Item: Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel
Purchased Price: $1.19 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Tim Hortons
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Lightly crisp exterior. Delightfully chewy, flavourful interior. Tastes like a really good soft pretzel.
Cons: Toasting kind of ruins it. Mustard spread has a weak flavour and is completely superfluous. The Walnut Crunch is gone (this has nothing to do with this bagel, it’s more of a general life con).

QUICK REVIEW: Taco Bell XXL Steak Crispy Taco

Taco Bell XXL Crispy Steak Taco

Purchased Price: $3.89*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Holy cow there’s a lot of steak in this taco. Steak is easy to chew; no tough parts. Taco shell seemed sturdier than Taco Bell’s regular taco shell. It’s noticeably larger than a regular Taco Bell Crunchy Taco. Surprisingly filling. To be honest, it kind of makes me wish there was a XXL Doritos Locos Taco.
Cons: Reduced fat sour cream dampens the avocado ranch sauce’s flavor, making the whole taco taste a bit boring. Steak itself didn’t have much flavor. Because of its size, it needed two Taco Bell sauce packets to give it better flavor. Like with the Taco Supreme, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese fall out too easily.

*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.

Taco Bell XXL Crispy Steak Taco Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 430 calories, 220 calories from fat, 25 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 680 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 24 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich

Dunkin Donuts Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich

11:32 a.m.

The Weinstein Company

Pitch meeting

Harvey: Let’s hear it.

Kevin: Okay, so the Chronologizer draws historically evil people from the universe and gives them a chance for redemption. They are put on a time-traveling super team with state-of-the-art technology and zoom around righting the wrongs that are being perpetuated by the destructive Future Lord. The fabric of time-space is on the line. And here’s the kicker: They’re called the Benedicts. And they’re all named Benedict.

There’s Benedict Arnold, revolutionary war leader and defector—a hand wringing traitor. His two-faced attempt to surrender as a general revealed him to be a sniveling backstabber. Then there’s Pope Benedict XVI. A Hitler Youth as a child, Benedict later in life became the leader of a Catholic Church that attempted to whitewash evidence of rampant pedophilia. And Benedict Cumberbatch.

Harvey: Okay, this one…

Kevin: Just look into his eyes.

Harvey: But…

Kevin: Just look into his eyes. Everyone sees it. He’s Khan! He’s Smaug! This guy is some reptile half-breed for sure. He’s gonna play villains for the next twenty years of his career. He’s evil. Just look into his eyes.

Harvey: And what is this over here?

Kevin: This, my dear man, is the Dunkin’ Donuts Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich. I had one the other day.

Harvey: It’s evil?

Dunkin Donuts Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich 2

Kevin: Let me finish. It looks innocuous, like a regular breakfast sandwich that you’d get at McDonald’s or Burger King or, hell, Dunkin’ Donuts. But at first bite, the English muffin is kinda tough and dry, not soft and chewy like a McMuffin.

The texture wouldn’t be a complete deal breaker, but they put so much “hollandaise flavored spread” (that’s what they call it, since it’s not real hollandaise) on the sandwich it’s like squeezing two pieces of plywood together with cookie dough in the middle. It gets all over the place. The amount of sauce they slop on is like Dunkin’ Donuts is passively angry with us. It’s not even a great sauce. The texture is a little like a cross between old mayonnaise and Elmer’s glue. It’s got a creamy taste with a lemony finish (and contains zero eggs), and tries to emulate a real hollandaise with a laboratory mix of butter and cheese. Instead of coming off as zesty, though, the goopy sauce tastes sour.

The actual eggs in the sandwich are decent, with a nice separation of orange-y egg yolk and egg white that makes me think it’s not completely processed. The black forest ham is lost in the shuffle—the sauce is too strong and it overpowers the sandwich. It all ends up tasting like what would happen if a chef described Eggs Benedict to an alien and then it tried to make it once. It’s not spit-out-of-mouth disgusting. It’s more like an I-wouldn’t-buy-this-again snorefest.

Harvey: A so-so Eggs Benedict.

Kevin: Yeah, that’s about right.

Harvey: How is that evil?

Kevin: Okay. If mediocrity is the mother of boredom, and boredom is the mother of evil, then…boom. That’s a Kierkegaard quote, I think. You don’t want to argue with that guy.

Harvey: Let me get this straight. Benedict Arnold, Pope Benedict XVI, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a Dunkin’ Donuts Eggs Benedict Sandwich travel through time to save the universe and redeem themselves in the process.

Kevin: Yeah. Arnold is like the munitions guy, the Pope is the loose cannon, Cumberbatch is the disguise guy and the sandwich is the muscle. Oh, and they are assembled by Terry Benedict, Andy Garcia’s fictional casino mogul from Ocean’s 11. Terry is like their Bosley.

Harvey: Do you have anyone currently tied to this project?

Kevin: Yeah, we have interest from Clooney to play the Pope, and the sad dude from The Office who was in love with Erin to play Benedict Cumberbatch. We were thinking we could go a different direction and get Idris Elba to play Arnold. We’re in talks.

Harvey: Can you get an Egg McMuffin to play the Dunkin’ Donuts sandwich?

Kevin: It would take a few hours in the prosthetics chair every morning, but I think we can do that.

Harvey: All right, then. Congratulations. I think we’re eyeing a 2016 release. Let’s make a movie.

(Nutrition Facts – 300 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 grams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Not outwardly disgusting. Eggs possess a nice texture.
Cons: Hollandaise flavored spread all over your lap, sour-y and not fresh tasting. A one-note sandwich—it just tastes like sauce. English muffin is a bit tough.

REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Fish Sandwich

Chick-Fil-A Fish Sandwich

Icelandic. Wild Alaskan caught. Sustainable. North Pacific Cod. Panko breaded. Housemade tartar sauce.

Really people? We do this every year. You’d think by now we’d just call an apple an apple, and admit that we’ve all got a serious infatuation with the idea of an oversized fish stick.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic. It doesn’t matter if you even like fish. There’s just something about the platonic ideal of a breaded and deep fried fish sandwich this time each spring never-ending winter that inexplicably leads us to gravitate away from burgers and chicken fingers and to the Lenten specialty.

Throw out all the foodieism buzz words and environmental catch phrases you want; heck, even adorn the damn thing with a half-slice of unmelted processed cheese product and call it unique, but no form of MBA level marketing is going to detract from the simple fact that if they’re selling something which once had a flipper and gills, we’re buying it.

Personally, I’m just as guilty of getting caught up in the hype as everyone else. This year is no exception. Actually, it’s probably worse than ever. That’s because my favorite fast food restaurant, Chick-fil-A, decided to release a limited time-only fish sandwich.

Extra pickles? Why yes, please.

There’s something special about a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich. From the slight tang of the pickles to the buttered bun to the succulent sweetness of the pressure cooked and hand-breaded chicken breast in peanut oil, there may be no simpler, nor tasty, burger alternative in the fast food world. That the chain has developed iconic sauces for any fancy (be they sweet, tangy, hot, or salty) doesn’t hurt, and neither does the signature spice blend in the breading. Surely, I thought, if any chain could perfect another fried food and raise the humble yet glorified fish stick to delectable prominence, it would be Chick-fil-A.

Chick-Fil-A Fish Sandwich Breading

Chick-Fil-A Fish White

Texturally, the fish was everything one could ask for in a fish sandwich. The breading on the two small pieces was light and slightly crispy, thankfully devoid of any excess oil or grease. The inside was flaky and white, with no hollow or blackened spots from spending too long in the fryer. In a word, it was fried perfectly—a rare feat for any fast food fish item.

Chick-Fil-A Fish Sandwich Tartar Sauce

But it was plain, as I suppose all fish sandwiches have a tendency to be, and left something to be desired. Maybe it was the afterthought packet of cafeteria-style tartar sauce with an overly-viscous nature and AWOL lemony-herb flavor. Or perhaps it was the container of the fish itself, which, unlike the classic Chick-fil-A sandwich, doesn’t come in one of the specially designed bags that steams the bun while also preserving the juicy breast.

But whatever it was, I found the fish sandwich to be remarkably unremarkable when eaten both plain and with the tartar sauce. Mostly, I found myself missing that oddly placed half slice of cheese McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish is so well known for, and missing the bolder spice blend and peanut oil flavor that makes regular Chick-fil-A sandwiches so irresistible.

Chick-Fil-A Fish Sandwich 2

That said, there’s nothing wrong with the sandwich itself, which unto itself is a victory as far as fast food fish sandwiches go. While the two small pieces of fish make it slightly awkward to eat, the tartar sauce packet does give the sandwich a bit of tangy sweetness (overly runny nature notwithstanding.) But for a chain that is well renowned for its sauces, the tartar sauce feels like a last-minute cop-out. If you’re like me, you might be so inclined to even go back for a different sauce. I recommend the Polynesian Sauce for a sweet and sour Asian flair, or even the Honey Roasted BBQ.

At the end of the day, Chick-fil-A’s fish sandwich harkens to the platonic ideal of the fish sandwich—while still providing that annual reminder for why you don’t eat fish sandwiches all year long. In other words, I don’t think we’ll be seeing the trademark cows parachuting into stadiums with signs saying “Eat More Cod.”

Slightly crispy, none-too-oily, and fried perfectly, it nevertheless misses the “it” factors McDonald’s has going with its Filet-O-Fish, and disappoints with a low-grade packet of tartar sauce that will make your high school cafeteria’s seem “housemade.” Still, in a fast food sea of pretentious fish sandwiches that range from burnt to dry to more oily than the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Chick-fil-A’s version ranks among the top half in the industry, and a worthy catch for those seeking fast food fish sandwiches.

(Nutrition Facts – 400 calories. Full nutrition info not available.)

Item: Chick-fil-A Fish Sandwich
Purchased Price: $3.09
Size: 1 sandwich
Purchased at: Chick-Fil-A (Select Locations for Limited Time Only)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Flaky, tender fish. Not overly greasy or oily. Lightly breaded exterior. Fresh bun. Pickles provide good tang. No limit to sauce requests.
Cons: Not as good as McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. Excessively plain in terms of flavor. Could have a crisper breading. Tartar sauce given as an afterthought, and overly viscous in texture. On the smaller side. Slightly awkward to eat. A complete overuse of fish puns.