May 21, 2007

Product Extraordinaire: Tastes like burning

Those guys at Peanut Butter & Co. aren't kidding about this stuff: The Heat is On tastes seriously spicy. If I weren't so masochistic, I doubt I'd ever have gotten to the point where The Heat made it into peanut noodles, or especially a (wait for it) hamburger.

The standard, classic pb&j is a no-go with The Heat. I tried it with raspberry jam. It's ok, laugh at me. Wtf was I thinking? The incredible spiciness paired with the jam was awful in every way. Unfortunately for me, I kept trying it: once with sliced apples and raspberry jam, also no good; once with sliced bananas (no jam, thank God), predictably bad.

So there I was with this nearly-full jar of mouth-melting, nearly unusable stuff that I couldn't get myself to toss out (reasoning: I made a bad decision and I should suffer the full brunt of the consequences). After weeks of hearing me complain about how I'd ruined another sandwich, my worldly roommate (ex-roommate, tear) recommended spicy peanut noodles. Perfect.

Chicken satay with spicy peanut noodles. [see note]. Fantastic. I omitted the extra cayenne pepper and the recipe came out smooth and pleasantly spicy. If only I'd thought of The Heat as an ingredient rather than a condiment sooner.

The jar sat untouched for another few weeks until I found a recipe for spicy peanut butter hamburgers on the PB&Co. website. Even with the recent savory success with the satay, I thought the beef/peanut butter combination was crazy but worth a shot [see note]. The pan fried [boo!] burgers were really something else. The extra fat from the peanut butter and actual butter butter made them quite juicy, and all the better when topped with Gouda.

Certainly got my $6 out of it. And an adventure. Two adventures. Ok, a lot of excitement though most of it was of the "this tastes like burning. Why am I still eating this?" variety.

Notes: - For obvious reasons, I omitted parts of both recipes since there was no need for chutney or pork.
- Recipe for spicy peanut butter hamburger no longer online, but it is available in their cookbook.

May 7, 2007

The Afterglow: The Doughnut Plant

The Doughnut Plant has haunted us Gourmetros for too long. Two weeks ago, we'd had enough of hearing rave reviews, so we trucked down from SpaHa to see for ourselves whether these were indeed gifts from some benevolent yeasty/cakey doughnut god. We tried to get down there sooner, we really did, but the Plant's schedule and LES locale kept us from their fatty comestables. Oh, and the other motivating factor was a Food Network Throwdown: if the place has a FN special, it's either jumped the shark, or it's buzz-proof.

Between the two trips, we sampled the following cake and yeast-risen 'nuts: Tres Leches, Chocolate Blackout, Triple Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Raspberry Filled, Valrhona Glazed, Strawberry Glazed, and Coconut Cream.

Our feelings about the yeast and cake run along the lines of Ed Levine's reaction last fall. The cake 'nuts were remarkable on both occasions; the Tres Leches' delightfully moist cake, thin ribbon of filling, and crisp glaze made for a truly killer baked good (pictured: right). One of these every morning for the rest of our lives would make us happy (if fat) individuals. These guys achieve a near-perfect balance in the sweetness/texture fields. If the Tres Leches or Blackouts had been treated like a [blech] Dunkin' style filled doughnut (disk-shaped, lake of filling) they would have been far too sweet.

The yeast doughnuts, however beautiful, lacked in every possible way (with one exception). We were shocked at how a seemingly light doughnut could be so tough, chewy, bland and overpowering. The Valrhona glazed was bland (pictured: bottom); the PB&J, chewy and bo-ring (we may as well have just eaten a sandwich...); and strawberry glazed was waay too sweet.

Thankfully, the Coconut Cream yeast-risen doughnut blew the other yeasties out of the water: it was blessed with nuanced coconut flavor, a spot-on cream-to-bread ratio, and it wasn't too tooth-achingly sweet (though it toed the line on that one). The key to the yeast doughnuts, we think, is timing. If we ever get there early, we'll give them another shot.

In the end, the cake doughnuts were some of the best things we've ever put in our mouths. Leave their yeast-risen brethren to the seething hordes of Food Network gastrotourists.

The Afterglow is a reoccurring feature where Gourmetros visit buzzworthy places a bit after the buzz. Call us lazy if you must, but we just want to find out for ourselves if the places were ever worth it.

For more delicious doughnut shots, check out our Flickr account.

May 2, 2007

My tummy is full, but my wallet is so, so sad.

I've been very, very bad about posting, even though it's not like I stopped eating...I'll put another overview up so you can see what to expect from me in the upcoming weeks. This is all Osaka/Tokyo/Vietnam stuff I've been saving up for a while, so for an overview of restaurants/cafes/snack bars that will be showing up, refer to the list below. And if there's something you're particularly interested, feel free to badger me unmercifully for information :).

I'm in Tokyo at the moment, getting ready to come back to the States. It's been pretty whirlwind, but I got some good eats in while I was at it.

Notable (and not necessarily in a good way):


~ Kani Doraku (Dotombori)
~ Hakata Ippudo Ramen (Namba/Shinsaibashi)
~ Mithila (Dotombori)
~ Krungtep/Gaow Thai (Namba/Dotombori)
~ Haya (Dotombori)
~ Poire Bakery (Tezukayama/Himematsu)
~ Otakoya (Dotombori)


~ The Lion's Head (Big one in Ginza)
~ Tully's Coffee (Izumi Garden Tower/Roppongi)
~ Paul's Bakery (Izumi Garden Tower/Roppongi)
~ Star Kebab (Akihabara)
~ The New York Grill (Park Hyatt Shinjuku) - yes, that's right, LOST IN TRANSLATION.
~ Soup Curry (Kabukicho)


I'm not sure I have notes for most of this, as Aaron and I generally ate at random holes in the wall, or places that didn't have names that family took us to. BAD FOODIE! BAAAD! But I can still talk at length!

Okay. I shall return. Right after I finish packing up for goin' home to good ol' Virginny. Heeeeellllllz yes.

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