Friday, March 20, 2020

Taco Bell's Next Big Sandwich, The Triplelupa

Given today’s climate, I considered stopping work on my food blog until this state of emergency blows over. Upon reflection, I thought it would be nice to focus on something other than the virus.

|Subject: Taco Bell's Triplelupa| |Date: 03/20/2020|
|Photographers: Dani Cogswell & James Kiester|
Not being able to get out much these days, my friend treated me to drive-thru fare from the Taco Bell at 19275 SW TV HWY in Aloha, OR. Having seen the commercial for it recently, I decided to have the new Triplelupa.

The Triplelupa comes in a long flatbread shell designed to look like three Chalupas fused together. All three sections consist of a base of seasoned ground beef topped with sauce, lettuce, tomato, and a garnish of grated cheese. Supposedly, one end has nacho cheese sauce, the opposite end has chipotle sauce, and the center section has both sauces.

Vegetarians can replace the meat with refried beans, black beans, or potatoes.

Honestly, I couldn't taste a difference between one end and the other, so I suspect they put both sauces along all three sections. That being said, it worked. Between the seasoning on the beef and the sauces, this was a pleasantly spicy sandwich without be over-the-top tongue searingly HOT. With an order of Nacho Fries and a cup of coffee, it made a tasty and filling lunch.

However, this isn't a sandwich you can eat while driving. There's way too much iceberg lettuce and flavorless tomato which only serve to fall on the eater’s lap upon taking a bite. There's also so little shredded cheese that it adds nothing to the sandwich.

For $3.49 ($5.99 with a crunchy taco, cinnamon twists, and a medium drink) the Triplelupa is a tasty, but extremely messy, sandwich. I’d give it 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Stay safe & sane.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Carl's Jr's BFC Angus Thickburger - A Review

I should begin by confessing that I’m typically not a fan of Carl's Jr.. I find their meat to be over cooked and dry. That being said, when I heard their new “BFC Angus Thickburger” comes with a wheel of deep-fried cheese on top, I had to investigate.

| Subject: BFC Angus Thickburger |
| Date: 02/28/2020 | Photographers: Dani Cogswell & James Kiester |
| Permissions: Photo taken for this blog |
I went through Carl's Jr. drive-thru window at 6653 SE Tualatin Valley Highway in Hillsboro, OR and ordered the BFC, a medium fry, and a medium (30 ounce) Coke for $10.94. The burger came with a flame broiled Angus beef patty, a combination of Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese coated in a seasoned breading & fried crispy, lettuce, tomato, and Boom Boom sauce on a toasted bun.

I didn't get the cheese in my first bite, so all I tasted was the horseradish foreword “Boom Boom” sauce. I suppose if Carl's Jr. was one of my regular haunts, I’d have been prepared for the spiciness. As it was, I found the taste a bit overpowering. I took another bite, and this time I hit paydirt. I could hear the crunch as I bit through the cheese, exposing a molten golden center. The Mozzarella allowed the wheel to melt evenly while the Cheddar delivered a pleasantly sharp Cheddar taste.

As I made my way through the sandwich, the cool light flavors the lettuce and tomato played against richness of the cheese and the beef to produce a balanced bite of food. I like char-broiled hamburgers, but these patties were the same dry beef I’ve come to expect from Carl's. However, the moisture of the cheese compensated for the parched meat enough that I was able to enjoy polishing off the meal.

Although I liked the burger, for the most part, I’d have preferred a patty with a little less of a cook on it and some other sauce (maybe just mayonnaise). I’d give Carl's Jr.’s BFC Angus Thickburger 8 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Food & Politics Collide With Andrew Zimmern At The Helm

By now it should be obvious that I’m a pretty big food nerd. No, it’s true. I’ll own it. I love well developed; flavors, aromas, textures; the whole epicurean nine yards. However, if you only read my food blog, you may not be aware I’m a political liberal as well. Being a liberal, I’m an MSNBC junkie. Thus, when I heard chef Andrew Zimmern, of Bizarre Foods fame, would be hosting a show on my favorite news channel, I had to check it out.

Chef Andrew Zimmern
Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
What's Eating America bills itself as a show which explores social and political issues through the lens of food. The first episode was dedicated to the immigration debate. With an unapologetically progressive/anti-Trump slant, Zimmern explained the degree to which migrant workers harvest, process, and prepare the food we eat.

Telling the stories of seasonal field workers, a foreign-born chef who depends on migrant labor, and others the February 16th premier episode made the case that migrant workers are being abused by a system which would collapse without them. Chef Jose Andres, who fed federal employees during the 2013 government shutdown, made an impassioned speech about the plight of migrant workers.

Again, I’m liberal, so I agreed with their message, but I doubt it would sway anyone who isn’t already in their ideological camp. That being said, conservative foodies may still enjoy vivid descriptions of barbacoa tacos, pork consommé, and other delectable dishes.

Airing Sunday nights on the aforementioned MSNBC, this five-episode series takes a more in-depth look at food than anything currently running on Food Network.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

European Cheeses May Be Unaffordable Soon

Culture Magazine is a periodical all about the wonderful world of cheese, making it one of my favorite magazines. In fact, I have a birthday coming up. If one of my readers wanted to give me a gift subscription, I wouldn't object.

Getting back on topic, according to their piece Tariffs 101: EU cheeses take a hike, the Trump administration has proposed EU tariff hike, In October of last year, the White House imposed a 25% tax on imports from the EU, including spirits, wine, and cheese. Cheese retailers have begun amassing supplies of Provolone, Roquefort, Edam, Comtè, Emmental, Parmigiano Reggiano, and literally hundreds of other affected cheeses. However, such supplies are expected to be exhausted before 2021.

When I first read about this travesty, I rolled my eyes and said to myself, “This is one more way Trump's f#@&ing things up.” I thought about it though, and realized there's a bit of a silver lining. With imports disappearing from the market, American cheese enthusiasts have a good excuse to really get to know American cheese.

Now, when I say, “American cheese,” I’m not referring to processed cheese made from a blend of milk, milk fats and solids, with other fats and whey protein concentrate. I’m talking about superbly crafted artisan creations which excite the senses and delight the pallet.

Today, hundreds of artisan cheese makers are turning out delicious labors of love. Eaters can find American cheeses in every conceivable flavor and texture, made from a variety of milks.

My favorite of these is Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue. This cow’s milk cheese is cold smoked over hazelnut shells and cave aged, in Central Point, Oregon, to produce a creamy cheese with flavors of; sweet cream, salt, and smoke; reminiscent of bacon. This is just one of a myriad of quality blue cheeses made right here in the United States of America, not to mention the wide array of Cheddar, Swiss-esc, Gouda-esc, Italian inspired, and completely original cheeses produced on our shores.

I’m not suggesting there are obvious American, 1 to 1, replacements for each European cheese that's on the market. Many pasta lovers are going to miss affordable Parmigiano Reggiano. Yet, Cotija is a semi-hard salty Mexican cheese, which American fans of spaghetti may want to consider grating atop of their meal.

Like it, or not, the upcoming shortage will force serious cheese eaters to experiment with alternatives from this side of the pond. We can choose to see such experimentation as a burden or an adventure. I think you know which way I lean.