Monday, August 13, 2018

The Bacon Jams' All Original Bacon Spread

I like bacon. No... That's wrong...  I LOVE bacon!  I eat bacon almost every morning, I put it on most of my burgers, and I even have a blanket on my bed that looks like bacon.  A few months ago, I was watching Chopped and one of the contestants made bacon jam.  I'd never heard of bacon jam before, so I looked online and found an 8oz jar of The Bacon Jams' All Original Bacon Jam for $13.75 on Amazon.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

I confess I had certain expectations when I bought the jam. The reason I like bacon is for the smokey salty flavor that it delivers.  At breakfast bacon provides a crunchy texture in contrast to soft eggs and toast as well as the salty taste to offset sweet cereals, fruits, and jellies.  On a burger, it provides a savory balance against sweet ketchup and fresh lettuce and tomato.  I expected the jam to perform the same function.

I was disappointed.  I put the jam on a burger along with American cheese and mayonnaise.  The result was a very sweet burger.  The bacon jam was very maple forward with a very mild smokey undertone.  The bacon flavor was there, but it was almost like it was an after thought.  The bacon flavor was secondary to the flavor of maple syrup.

There are people who like maple bacon, and those people will probably love this jam. However if you're looking for a condiment that delivers a real bacon punch, this is not it.  Therefore, I give The Bacon Jams' All Original Bacon Jam 5 out of 10 stars.

On a curious final note, if you order the jam on Amazon it costs $1.25 less than if you order off their website directly.  Somehow adding Amazon as a middle man brought the price down instead of up.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Marilyn's Gluten Free Gourmet Cheese Straws

Before I  begin, I have to disclose a personal bias. I am friends with the daughter of the owner of the baked goods company that makes these snacks. Since the snacks were given to me as a gift, I won't be giving them a star rating.

Marilyn's Gluten Free Gourmet Cheese Straws come in three varieties. I was given  Original and Jalepeno (their spelling) flavors, but they also come in White Cheddar & Chives.

Made from; sharp cheddar cheese, rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, sea salt, spices, and a few other ingredients; none of which are, hard to pronounce chemicals or food dyes; each straw is about 3 inches long and it looks like a crinkle cut French fry.

I am typically not a person who seeks out gluten free snacks.  However, I do like snacks that taste good. These straws taste a bit like Goldfish crackers, only more dense. They have a good crunch to them, but are a little dryer than most crackers. I did not mind it though, as I ate them along with a Sam Adams Summer Ale while watching The Four (Go Sharaya!).

The Original flavor had a good sharp cheddar bite to them, and are a little bit spicy in their own right. The Jalepeno adds another level of spice, but they're not so hot that you have to take a drink right away. They have just enough heat to let you know they're there without being overwhelming.

For more info about the straws, and how to order them, you can visit Marilyn's Gluten Free Gourmet Baked Goods.

Happy eating!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Is McDonald's Bacon Smokehouse Burger Really Smokin'?

I should begin by addressing the elephant in the room. I've reviewed a lot of burgers lately, making this blog's content a bit burger heavy. In fact, I've written enough pieces on burgers to justify adding "Burgers" as a tagged category over in the right hand column.

They're what people eat.  According to The 2016 Burger Report, "the average consumer still eats a burger 5.3 times in a month."  Of course I will still write about cheese, wine, and gourmet fare when I can, but if I want to appeal to a wide audience I have to talk about what people like to eat, and that's burgers.

| Subject: McDonald's Bacon Smokehouse Burger |
| Date: 07/09/2018 | Photographers: James Kiester & Edward Kiester|

Being a lover of bacon, when I heard about McDonald's new Bacon Smokehouse Burger (Applewood smoked bacon, bacon-onion sauce, white cheddar, sweet mustard sauce, and fried onion strings) I had to give it a try.

I bought the single all beef patty version of the sandwich from my local McDonald's at 19525 SW TV HWY in Aloha, Oregon. I could have ordered the double, but, with fries, the single seemed like it would be enough food for me.

When I opened the box, I noticed the soft bun and the bacon protruding out the sides right off the bat. A second glance revealed the presence of the crispy fried onions and mustard sauce.   I was excited. The burger looked like a winner.

Texture wise, this burger had it in abundance. The golden friend onion strings and the crisp bacon both added a nice crunch to sandwich. They were doing their job in that respect. However, the real test was the flavor.

The mustard sauce was tangy and sweet. While it was delicious it was almost all I could taste. I could taste the bacon a little but the onions provided no real flavor. As for the bacon-onion sauce it might as well have not been there, it added nothing to the burger.

When a burger is called "Smokehouse" one expects a solid punch of smoky flavor. I just didn't get that. This burger should be called the Bacon-Sweet Mustard Burger so people know what they are getting going in. As a smoky burger, the smoky flavor isn't coming to the party. All in all I give the Bacon Smokehouse Burger a 6 out of 10 stars.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Wow Burger - Wow! or Wow?

During this past winter I passed the construction of Wow Burger at (2905 SW Cedar Hills Blvd in Beaverton) during my weekly outings for groceries and comics. Yes, I am a comic book nerd as well as a foodie.  Think Sheldon Cooper meets Anthony Bourdain, that's me.  You might want to throw in a few dashes of FDR too.

| Subject: Wow Burger's burger menu (the menu for the sides was too high to get a good picture of it)
Date: 07/06/2018 | Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell |
| click on the picture for a larger view |

Anyway, I was intrigued by the name.  It called forth images of a mind-blowing burger the eater would be talking about a year later.  With that picture in mind, I couldn't wait for Wow open.

| Subject: Bacon Bleu Burger & CKMP Burger | Date: 07/06/2018 |
| Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell |

My friend Dani and I got there a day or two after the Fourth around noon. The L-shaped restaurant looked like any typical "order at the counter" establishment, with menus on the wall and a counter up front. No big whoop.

I ordered the Bacon Bleu Burger (spring lettuce, bacon, garlic aioli, and blue cheese crumbles) and Basil Parmesan Fries (McDonald's-esc cut fries tossed in a blend of kosher salt, parmesan cheese, garlic and basil) for $9.99.

Right off the bat I was impressed that they cooked the beef to order. Of course, I got mine medium-rare.  Slightly pink burger is juicy burger.

As you know, I'm not a big fan of lettuce on a burger. However, I kept the greens on just so I could review the burger as it was intended to be eaten, and I'm glad I did.

The juicy seasoned beef, smokey bacon, salty tangy bleu cheese, and savory garlic aioli all brought a lot of flavor, but were all very rich. The greens counter-balanced the richness of the other ingredients, making for one very well-executed burger.

My only critique of the burger lies in the bacon. While it had a good smoky salty bacon flavor, it was limp and fatty. Part of what makes a bacon burger so good is the crunch of the crispy bacon. Floppy limp bacon takes the burger down a notch or two.

The fries were the highlight of the meal.  The flavors of salt, Parmesan cheese, and garlic complimented the crispy piping hot fries. They were a wonderful accompaniment to the burger, but would make a good snack by themselves /

My friend, Dani, had the CKMP Burger (CKMP stands for “Cheese (American), Ketchup, Mayo, and Pickles) and Tator Tots (standard deep fried mini cylinders of potatoes seasoned with kosher salt) for $7.49. At least that's how it is on the menu. Dani does not like ketchup or mayo, so she got hers with yellow mustard and extra pickles. She also got her beef well-done. While it was executed the way she ordered, it's hard to comment anymore about it with one exception. THE PICKLES.

I've eaten a lot of pickles in my 48 years, but these kosher pickles were some of the best I've had. I don't know if they make them themselves with extra garlic, or if they have stumbled onto a really good brand, but they were exceptional.  If they were to deep fry them, and add them to the menu as a side, now that marijuana is legal in Oregon, they would be packed at 4:25 every afternoon.

All in all, I liked WOW Burger. The food is kind of expensive, about on par with Five Guys. The burger was good, but it's the fries I would come back for. All things considered, I would give WOW Burger an 7/10 stars.