Search This Blog

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Archer Farms Sugar-Free Cherry Citrus Energy Drink

The first thing that hit me about this energy drink when I tried it for the first time was that it tasted sugar-free. Neither the grapefruit flavor nor the pomegranate blueberry flavor tasted like "lite" options. But with this flavor, there's even a sort of fake sweetener aftertaste—this sour chemical tinge that lingers on the tongue, and it's pretty nasty.

It does taste slightly of cherry, but then that cherry-esque essence gives way to an unpleasant aspartame-like flavor. I checked the ingredients and there isn't any actual aspartame. Maybe it's the sucralose or one of the many unpronounceable chemicals that rounds out the list of additives.

I also couldn't taste the "citrus" flavor mentioned on the packaging. I guess maybe adding citric acid to a product justifies calling it "citrus" flavored, but it doesn't really work if you add another flavor like cherry, too. The cherry flavor will overshadow the "citrus" flavor of the citric acid every time.

But, on the plus side, the drink does have caffeine. It did wake me up. It has B vitamins, ginseng, taurine, vitamin C, and all that good stuff.

And with only 10 calories, I guess I can't complain. Although, I'd really prefer a diet soda, most of which have 0 calories, over this beverage. I'm really not sure why it has even 10 calories.

This is definitely something I won't buy in the future. If I want a low-calorie option, I'll take the grapefruit flavor over this one any day. If I want a mid-calorie option, I'll take the blueberry pomegranate flavor.

Bottom line: 5 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Archer Farms Amaretto Cherry Gelato

In recent weeks, we've taken a look acrème brûlée and Bolognese pizza. Today, we're taking a look at another European favorite, imported all the way from Italy, according to the label.

It's gelato. Italian ice cream. Not to be confused with Italian ice, or Italian water ice. It's very similar to traditional ice cream, except it's made with skim milk instead of cream. But make no mistake, this isn't a low-calorie/low-fat option. They add plenty of butter and sugar to make up for the nonfat milk. It might have slightly less fat overall, but you can't really call it "light." It gives the ice cream a different texture. It's a bit more rich usually, and it's significantly more dense.

This is a tasty flavor. I love me some amaretto. It has plenty of cherry tang, and there's also a vanilla-esque taste to it. The majority of the product is a white/pink creamy substance with ribbons of deeper red, sticky-sweet syrup running through it.

Compared to other gelato's that I've tried, this one differs in a couple ways. I don't recall ever having a gelato with a "ribbon" of anything in it before. In my experience, that's more like something you'd find in a Ben & Jerry's flavor than in actual gelato. Portions of the product seemed to have crystallized mini-flakes of ice, particularly the syrupy ribbon. So there were minor instances of "crunchiness" interrupting the pure creaminess. Not enough that the experience was ruined, but enough to make me take notice.

Also, my wife and I agree that the candied cherries in this product were NASTY. They were beyond sour. And I love maraschino cherries. But these were...I don't know...something else. Virtually inedible. Thankfully, there were only 5 or 6 of them in the whole tub.

This product also left a bit of a weird aftertaste—similar to that of a cherry-flavored medicine. Not particularly pleasant, but the pleasure of actually eating the stuff outweighs the strangeness of the lingering flavor in my opinion. All things considered, this is a flavor worth checking out, especially if you're a cherry-ophile.

I give this gelato 7 out of 10 stars.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Archer Farms Blueberry Açaí Granola Bars

I've been a fan of açaí berries ever since I had a smoothie made of them from Jamba Juice—circa 2005. I'm not sure why the "c" in "açaí" has a little goatee or what it means, but I've been taught to pronounce the word like "ah-sigh-yee."

They're tasty little buggers full of antioxidants and so are blueberries. However, the sweetness of both berries fails to fully come through in these bars. The bars have more of a grainy, granola taste. They're pretty small, but very dense.

Likewise, the texture of this product is more heavily influenced by its grains than by its fruits. I kinda wish the berries were more prominent, because what I can taste and feel of them is great. The overall effect of the bars is pretty dry and gritty. I certainly wouldn't put them in a sweet treats category. They'd be better for curbing hunger or tiding someone over until the next meal.

But then again, I do have a sweet tooth and many people might not mind the lack of sugary sweetness in these bars as much as I did. I'm not sure why they didn't qualify for Archer Farms' "Simply Balanced" label, but they seem like maybe they should fall into that realm. Their calorie count isn't excessive, they've got a significant amount of fiber, and both of the aforementioned berries are "good-for-you."

There's also a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste, too. It's subtle, but definitely there. I think with a little tweaking, these could be a decent snacktastic treat, but for now, they're not really winners in my book.

I give these bars 5 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Archer Farms Pomegranate Blueberry Energy Drink

A week or two ago, I took a look at Archer Farms Sugar Free Grapefruit Energy Drink. It was good enough to warrant checking out another flavor in AF's line of energy drinks.

And I'm glad I did, because this one's even better. Especially if you're a fan of pomegranate and blueberry. And I am. It doesn't quite have the manly extreme sports/X-Games persona as, say Rockstar or Monster, but I'm comfortable enough with my masculinity—or lack thereof—that I freely admit that I really like this stuff. And come to think of it, Rockstar actually offered a pomegranate flavor for a while that I absolutely loved.

But this Archer Farms beverage doesn't taste like the Pomegranate Rockstar. It has its own thing going on. You'll notice it says "juice infused" rather than sugar-free. Even though there is apparently no added sugar, I guess the fructose in the fruit juice counts as the sweetener.

They use pear juice to sweeten the drink. Pear juice is incredible. While visiting the Dominican Republic, I drank box after box of "jugo de pera." Pure pear juice. Loved it. It's just super sweet. It only tastes mildly of pears. Which makes it the perfect "sweetener." You can add any other fruit juice to it—in this case blueberry and pomegranate, and they'll overshadow the pear juice's flavor, but still keep its sweetness.

Apple juice is the same way. When you look at 100% juice blends, they almost always use either apple juice or pear juice to sweeten them, but seldom mention "pear" or "apple" in the title of the drink.

In this case, there's just enough blueberry and pomegranate taste to give the drink the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness. Plus it has caffeine and B vitamins and all those other goodies we've come to expect in energy concoctions.

If they offered a 24oz can and kept the price the same, I would seriously consider buying this particular flavor on a regular basis. It's one of the best tasting energy drinks I've had, and it gave me a nice little caffeine buzz.

I give this energy drink 8 out of 10 stars.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Archer Farms Bacon Wrapped Scallops

In our neverending search for the first 10-star product from Archer Farms, we've been splurging a bit on the hors d'oeuvres. This is another pricey one, about $7 at our Target.

We came close to a perfect 10 with the Crab Rangoon. And one yogurt flavor and one dessert have the distinction of 9 star scores.

We've also never discovered anything worthy of 3 stars or less. Which is good. That says something about the relative quality of Archer Farms products. This product is no exception, and it falls closer to the top of the scale than the bottom, for sure.

Strangely, the packaging calls this a "scallop" rather than "scallops," but I assure you there are more than one inside the box. Not many more...but I think I counted 10 or so.

They came frozen together. Solid. I had to let them thaw a bit before prying them apart on the baking sheet. Even then it was difficult. I highly recommend taking their suggestion to put these on aluminum foil for "easy cleanup." They're quite messy. And fatty! There were giant pools of grease underneath each piece.

The bacon was crispy and the scallops were soft after baking. The texture was pretty impressive, I'd say. Sometimes scallops can be too chewy, but not these. They aren't the best scallops I've ever tried, but their texture was top-notch. The bacon made the product greasy but flavorful, and each element added just enough taste to balance the other out.

If you eat the whole package, you're looking at 3/4 of your daily saturated fat. Which is to say... don't eat the whole package at once. A "serving size" is apparently 5 pieces. That would suffice to quell most appetites and make one feel adequately fattened.

If you're into bacon and scallops, check these out. Another restaurant-quality product from your local Target freezer.

I give these 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Archer Farms French Vanilla Almond Crunch

Wow. Two French items in a row. At least, I'm pretty sure the crème brûlée was French, what with all those accent marks pointing in different directions and the little tepee-looking thing over the "u" that apparently makes it sound like two "o's."

We know this product is French because they just come right out and tell us. Instead, they should have just spelled it "Vánilla Almônd Crúnch." It looks way more exotic that way.

But that's pretty much par for the course with these AF cereals. The chocolate hazelnut granola is only "biscotti" because they tell us it's biscotti. There's nothing biscotti-esque about it.

And although there may be nothing particularly French about this breakfast cereal, it certainly does taste of vanilla. And that's good. Because otherwise, it would just be granola. Period. There might have been almonds in there, but I don't think they did enough for the taste and texture of this product to ever warrant another purchase.

But the vanilla flavor saved it. It's sweet—and distinctly vanilla. It's not just extra sugar. I've never been particularly good at distinguishing French vanilla from, say, American vanilla, but I can tell vanilla from just plain old sweet.

So if you like granola and you like vanilla, you might wanna check out this cereal. I'd put it right up there with the Pecan Sticky Bun Granola and the Blueberry Granola.

7 out of 10 stars for this product.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Archer Farms Crème Brûlée

Yes, they sell fine French desserts at Target, including crème brûlée. Now that's one instance where I hope you mentally pronounced Target as "Tar-zhay." So freakin' fancy. But did they do it well? The answer is yes. Well enough for this unsophisticated foodie-hack, anyway.

I've had crème brûlée at a couple of weddings, some Las Vegas buffets, from Trader Joe's, and at a nice little family-run French restaurant. Overall, the first wedding I had it at was the best one. But flavor-wise, this one might be tied for second. It's DELICIOUS.

However, it utterly failed the sugar-shell crackable top test. You actually have to put the sugar on yourself, stick the dessert in the broiler for a few minutes and hope that the sugar melts evenly across the top of the crème. 

But it didn't. There were just big granules of pseudo-melted sugar all clustered across the top of the custard. Maybe if my wife and I had been more meticulous with our sugar-distribution, it would have turned out better, but this is why it's best to have some expert chef do it for you. We were in this sugar-craving frenzy and we didn't have our wits about us, much to the shame of our poor dessert. And then, after broiling the crème brûlée, you're supposed to allow it to sit on the counter and cool—and then you're supposed to put it back in the fridge! Who has that kind of willpower!?

But honestly, I don't really care about the sugar-shell crackable top thing. As long as it tastes good. And IT DID. This is honestly the best thing I have ever tasted from Target. The custard and the sugar were amazing together.

It's $6 for two little dishes of the delectable dessert. But they're worth it. Plus, it comes with two ceramic ramekins that you can keep! My wife thinks she'll use them to make her own flan someday (we'll see if that actually happens, though). And if not, they'll come in handy as dipping bowls for salsa or sauce of some kind.

If they weren't so much work, and if the top had come out a tad better, this might have been our first perfect 10 star score.

I give this crème brûlée 9 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Archer Farms Sugar-Free Grapefruit Energy Drink

For being virtually calorie-free, this beverage tastes really darn good. I've always liked the taste of grapefruit juice—and citrus sodas in general. This drink tastes like a combination of Wink, Squirt, or Fresca soda with a little bit of actual grapefruit juice thrown into the mix.

It's the same size as a traditional can of Red Bull energy drink (12oz). It has vitamins, caffeine, and ginseng—everything you'd want your energy drink to have, except maybe sugar. It was slightly cheaper than a traditional energy drink at our Target...I think something like $1.70.

I'm sure it's mostly psychological, but I always do feel more energized after consuming an energy drink. It's probably mostly from the vitamins, and I could probably get a similar feeling just from taking a multi-vitamin pill—but the combo of caffeine and vitamins really seems to get me going. Plus, I hate taking pills. I grew up taking dozens of pills at the insistence of my parents—mostly for reasons unknown to me. Some were prescription drugs, some were vitamins, and I didn't even know what some of the pills were. As an adult, however, I take as few as possible—which is to say, none, at least on a regular basis. And it's so freeing.

But now I'm enslaved to caffeine. I get headaches if I don't have some every day. I'm not a big coffee person, but I'll have it in a pinch. Otherwise, it's energy drinks or caffeinated soda—both of which are much worse for my body than coffee. However, the lack of high fructose corn syrup and sugar make this a better choice than most.

I would totally buy this as an alternative to other energy drinks on a regular basis if the price would come down just a little bit more. I usually choose Rockstar or Monster brand energy drinks because they cost the same as a Red Bull, but you get twice as much. I particularly like the energy drink/fruit juice hybrid drinks like Monster Khaos because they're often up to 50% actual fruit juice. They have fewer calories and they taste just as good.

The effect is nice, the taste is good, but $1.70 is still too much to pay for 12oz of a drink.

I give this product 7 out of 10 stars.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Archer Farms Lobster & Cheese Bites

I have that terrible song about McDonald's Fish McBites stuck in my head. "Fish fish McBites, McBites, fish fish McBites, McBites. They're fish-ay fish-ay!" In general, I always understood it to be a bad thing for something to taste "fishy," even if it is a seafood product. So to declare that "they're fish-ay fish-ay" is to declare that they're a little on the funky side. That's one of the main reasons I haven't tried them and probably won't.

These Lobster Bites, on the other hand, are very low on the fishiness scale—but still, perhaps just a tad fishier than the previously reviewed Crab Rangoon, a product which is still tied for the highest score on this blog ever. Now, I'm also a fan of these Lobster Bites, but they do come with a hefty price tag: in the ballpark of $7 for 10 bite-sized spheres. However, a wise man once told me, "Beware of discount seafood." You don't want to go cheap when you're dealing with lobster. I was horrified when I saw that Au Bon Pain offered a Lobster Roll for $13. But apparently, many people think you should actually spend more than $13 for a Lobster Salad Sandwich and get a "real" one from a mom and pop's local store instead. Since I avoid $15 sandwiches just on principle alone, I'll have to stick to store-brand, lobster-based appetizers for now.

And I have to say, they're good. The breading, size, and overall texture of these bites reminds me a bit of Trader Joe's Arancini Bites, but the insides taste like lobster and cream cheese rather than fontina cheese and rice. Each ball had leaked a significant portion of its contents onto the baking sheet by the time they came out of the oven, but the oozed-out portion was thick enough to be scooped up easily with a fork.

As was the case with the Crab Rangoon, I think these appetizers could pass for restaurant-quality. In light of that statement, the $7 you pay for them doesn't seem so unreasonable, considering you'd pay nearly twice that at a fine dining establishment. So if you want to impress some guests or throw some pseudo-chichi party at your house, keep these Lobster Bites in mind. But all things considered, I'd still say the Crab Rangoon is a slightly better buy.

I give these Lobster Bites 8 out of 10 stars.

Search The Web

Custom Search