Monday, January 24, 2011

National Popcorn Day?

Supposedly the 18th was National Popcorn Day.  I don't know if that's true or not.  And I really don't care.  I just needed an excuse to write about popcorn.

I was considering a Black Swan tie-in.  I just saw it in the theaters and loved it, although I'm not entirely clear on what happened.  I just know I was on the edge of my seat the whole time; Natalie Portman did an amazing job; and the symbolism was fab.  Very cool.  I didn't actually eat any popcorn at the movie (I smuggled in Christmas candy), but I THOUGHT about popcorn.

And there you have it.  Popcorn.

I met the folks from Jody's Gourmet Popcorn at the Fancy Food Show and they were awesome enough to send me some samples afterward.

They sent three different types of their popcorn (they have other flavors as well).  This one was double cheddar:

Now I love cheese flavored popcorn.  When I buy those tins with the three flavors, this is the flavor that I always chow down first.  But I'm sad to say, this cheese popcorn was no good.  It had a weird flavor and I actually pitched it.  For me throwing away cheese popcorn is like Lindsey Lohan thowing out vodka.

Next up was Kettle Corn:

This was perfect.  I mean perfect.  Not overly sweet, just the right balance between sweet and salty.  Awesome!!

And look at those kernels - all their popcorn is like this - fully popped, nice and fluffy - no bits.  Some popcorn is filled with unpopped bits and hard pieces and is just crappy.  The last time I got popcorn from the Popcorn Factory it was like that - bleech.  This was great.

This is Jody's Recipe 53 Caramel Corn:

Also very cool - a nice light coating of caramel corn - very, very well done.  You can still taste the popcorn - it's not overwhelmed by the caramel.  A work of popcorn culinary art.

This is Great Scott's Peanut Butter Cup popcorn (I was sooooo excited to try this one!):

Boo!  No good.  Not very peanut buttery or chocolately; a weird flavor. There are so many better choices that I pitched this one too.  You know it's no good if I threw away something involving peanut butter.  That goes against everything I believe in.

Before we write Great Scott's off entirely, look at this flavor - bleu cheese (notice how not full the bag is):

I love the fact that the bleu cheese actually has a bit of a bleu tint to it!  Gotta tell you - this stuff was delicious!!  Love it!  As you can see, I ate half the bag before I could even get to a camera to take a picture of it:

Everybody is getting in on the popcorn act.  Harry & David just lauched a line of flavored popcorns.  Here's loaded baked potato:

and bacon ranch:

I'm sure you are wondering why I don't have pictures of these flavors.  Well, I now have like 5 open bags of popcorn in my house.  I have to eat some before I open any more!  I did sample both of these flavors in the Harry & David store and they were delish.  There's no room for crappy entries once Harry & David is in the house.  Popcorn makers of the world - step it up!

Harry & David also has their entire line of Moose Munches  (coated popcorn with chocolate and assorted nuts or other ingredients).  This stuff is over the top addictive.  I saw this flavor (Milk Chocolate Pumpkin) and was dying to try it:

As Tim (my sweetheart) observed, "Pumpkin has it's place and this isn't it."  I have to agree.  As much as I love pumpkin, somethings just don't lend themselves as well to that flavor.  Popcorn really shouldn't be pumpkin flavored.  This wasn't very good.  I was going to throw the bag away, but Tim said, "Don't get crazy, it's not that bad!"

So far, this is the best flavor of Moose Munch that I've tried - White Chocolate Macadamia Nut:

This is sooooooo good and is completely addictive.  If you open a bag, the next thing you know it will be empty and your jeans will be tight.  It's wicked good.

Harry & David also has a line of Moose Munch chocolate bars.  This one is caramel with cashews and almonds:

It looks pretty good and in theory is a good idea.  But I honestly think loose Moose Munch is better.  This is too much chocolate.  I know, I know - how can you have too much chocolate?  If you eat the Moose Munch with only a few chocolate covered kernels, it's perfect.  If you have all of it coated in chocolate, it's too much.

The takeaways?

Let's all be grateful for the awesomeness of popcorn.  It can be healthy as heck or decadent beyond belief.  It makes movies better and smells delicious. 

Contrary to what I have long believed, pumpkin really doesn't make everything better.  Neither does chocolate.  I'm soooo happy they are both out there, but they don't need to be everywhere.

Really great things usually do get the recognition they deserve - Black Swan, Cirque du Soleil, popcorn.  We all have different tastes and opinions, but we agree more than we disagree.  If given the chance, Orville Redenbacher could probably have gotten us world peace.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pumpkin and Elusive Childhood Memories

I have to say that Ben's comment on my last post shamed me into getting a real post done.  Ben - good for you!  I'm a slacker!!

As promised - pumpkin!

I found these at Target - Ghirardelli Squares in Milk & Pumpkin Spice Caramel:

What a great idea!  Love the creamy Ghirardelli milk chocolate, and they have a whisper of pumpkin.  But I like a stronger pumpkin flavor.  If you want a hint of pumpkin with your chocolate, this is for you.

Harry & David has these Pumpkin Spice Caramel Balls:

Gotta say I like them better!  Much more pumpkin flavor.  No chocolate, however.  But I just LOVE these!  Great texture, chewy caramel - yum!!

Harry & David also has these Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Maltballs:

This is the perfect solution - a little chocolate and a LOT of pumpkin.  These are great too!  Harry & David rock the house on maltballs - TONS of flavors.  These are seasonal.

Chewy or crunchy?  Harry and David has your pumpkin balls covered!  Wait, that didn't sound quite right....

Pumpkin Delights by my girl Little D.  I'm so glad these are only available for a short period of time.  They are impossibly delicious:

Moist and cakey and chewy - sooooo good.  I really do love Little Debbie - these are awesome!!!

And they smile at you!  What more can you really ask for?

I found these Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Topping cookies at World Market.  They are by Too Good Gourmet.

Great idea!  Love the cream cheese topping!  And the cookie is moist and has good pumpkin flavor as well as the delicious nutmeg and cinnamon of pumpkin pie.  Well done!!  So far I like everything I've tried by Too Good Gourmet.  Look for them in World Market and TJ Maxx.

I was over the moon when I heard about these - thanks to our other Ben who tipped me off several posts ago - PUMPKIN PIE POP-TARTS!  When Ben told me they existed, I searched for them.  I read online reviews gushing about how great they were.  I HAD to find some!  They became my holy grail.  When I finally saw then in Target, I was so excited; I bought up six boxes.   I snuck home from Target like a junkie who just scored a fix.

Okay, not really like the picture on the box, but we know how this goes:

The result?  BOO!  Not nearly enough pumpkin filling.  These should be called Pumpkin Pie CRUST Pop-Tarts.  I mean, I'm down with pie crust, I like it, but I was expecting more here.  I was expecting some filling.  These were a heart breaker.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors so I'm definitely biased in demanding more.  And it's only available seasonally, so I gotta get as much of it as I can! 

What have we learned?

Some flavors need more chocolate, some need less.  Pumpkin and chocolate is a tricky mix and should best be left to professionals.  I think there should always be more pumpkin.  I feel the same way about peanut butter - the more peanut butter, the better.  Although mixing it with chocolate isn't tricky at all - any combination is good - and complete amateurs can mix away with abandon.

Little Debbie remains a goddess (and the poor man's Paula Deen).

Childhood memories are tricky.  Pop-Tarts are not as good as I remember them.  Prolly because I was forbidden to have any.  I could only get the amazing sugary treats when at friends' houses. I remember more filling - strawberry was my fav.  

But you know how tricky those childhood memories can be!  Some of the things you thought were so amazing you have today and you're shocked.  The best example I can think of is the game Pong.  My brother and I used to play that for hours.  Kids today would be like, "Are you serious?  Do you have a wooden paddle and a ball on a rubber band too?"  Our reply?  "Yeah, to smack you with you little Xbox, Wii playing brat!  Let me get my wooden gun that shoots rubber bands and I'll teach you some respect!"

We've tried so many different foods from so many different countries over the course of our lives, how can a poor childhood favorite keep up?

Never fear, there's always Reese's my dears.  Always.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Upcoming Motivation by Chocolate Seminar

If any of you want to see me do the Motivation by Chocolate seminar, I'm speaking at a women's conference on February 18th in Fletcher, NC.  Check out the link to see the agenda and come on out!  The day will be a blast and the chocolate will be fabulous!