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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Archer Farms Summer Fruits Thick & Chunky Salsa

This might be the best fruit-based salsa I've ever tasted. It's definitely my favorite Archer Farms salsa so far. And I really enjoyed some of their other salsas, particularly the mango peach and black bean roasted pepper.

The main thing that sets this one apart from the other salsas is the fact that it truly is "medium" on the spice-o-meter, at least in my humble opinion. While the mango peach salsa was labeled "medium," it definitely fell short of the mark in the heat department.

Not only is this salsa moderately hot, but the heat doesn't get in the way of the fresh, sweet "summer fruit" flavors they threw into the mix, including strawberry, kiwi, and pineapple. And I guess technically tomatoes are fruit, too, but they're filed under "vegetables" in my brain. There are also chunks of jalapeno and bell peppers in the jar, and they all blend together better than I would have ever imagined.

I tried this sauce on some salt and lime chips, and it was brilliant. The lime enhanced the fruitiness of the salsa, yet the chip flavor was subtle enough to allow the salsa flavors to shine through like the summer sun.

I'm still on a quest to find that perfect Archer Farms food. The one that will get our first 10 star score. And while this comes darn close, earning our first 9 star score in the condiment category, it's not quite perfect. I would like to see a salsa that's truly "hot" and sweet, and the chunks of fruit could be just a tad larger. That's nitpicking, I know, but I'm a tough grader.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Archer Farms Italian-Style Four Cheese Macaroni & Cheese Dinner

I only know what the four cheeses in this dish are because I looked at the packaging just now. They are: parmesan, asiago, ricotta, and romano. Supposedly.

I just tasted a single, mild, pillowy white cheese with an unexceptional amount of tang and a decided lack of smack.

But it still beat the flavor of Kraft Easy Mac. No contest.

The flavor of this pasta was subtle, but it kinda grew on me. At first I missed that yellow, biting cheddar that comes in so many nondescript packets of mac and cheese sauce add-ins. But soon enough, the soft squishy sapor of the included mystery-cheese got the better of my more-attentive taste buds.

I'm not going to lie. It tasted better with Texas Pete. And even though the hot sauce dominated the flavor of the entire bowl of pasta, it was as if the dish had been created to host the fresh flavorful zip of that famous hot sauce.

It took me back to our Disneyland days, when we'd visit Pizza Port nearly every weekend, order the Count Down Chicken Fusilli, and drench it in that sexy sauce. And of course this dish lacked poultry, but it didn't need it.

The taste was clean, plain, and ethereal. It was a chance to cleanse the palate of all pretentiousness and enjoy pasta and cheese for what it was meant to be.

And it helped that Sonia boiled the shells for exactly the right amount of time. Another second longer and they would have suggested sogginess. A second shorter and they would have seemed sorely solid.

Upon first bite, I might have scored these morsels a measly six stars. But by the end of the pot, they earned an elite eight. To see a pic of the prepared product close-up, click here.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Archer Farms Peanut Butter & Jelly Trail Mix

If you like trail mixes...and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you just might like this product, although if the bread's your favorite part, you might not enjoy it that much.

Just looking at the bag, I think it appears pretty appetizing. All those nuts and pretty pastel colors. You see those big lavender wads of who-knows-what that kind of look like pieces of chewed gum? Well, those are not soft, like I was expecting them to be. I thought they would be like yogurt chips with berry flavor or something.

They do have a berry-ish flavor, but they're actually crunchy. That disappointed me. The nuts are crunchy! What do we need more crunch for? We need smoothness. Fortunately, there are smaller "flavored bites" throughout the mix that are soft and reminiscent of yogurt chips. They come in both berry-ish flavors and peanut butter flavor.

There are also pieces of dried fruit, which are soft and juicy. They mix well with the peanuts. I think there were two different kinds. There were strawberry-flavored craisins...and I think something else...

There were no raisins in this mix, which is good. Not that I dislike raisins, but I don't think they would have gone with this very well.

All in all, I think they could do away with the crunchy chewed-gum-looking pieces and throw in more strawberry-flavored craisins and yogurt chips, er, excuse me, "fruit and peanut butter flavored bites." But it's a tasty snack, both salty and sweet, and filling, too.

My wife Sonia raved about this stuff. I think I would have given it only 6 stars, but I'll bump that up to a 7 in her honor.

This trail mix gets 7 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Archer Farms Genoa Salami Pizza with Spicy Peppers

Man, I just love a good Italian sub. All of those spiced meats, oregano, cheese, and peppers can really hit the spot sometimes.

Now imagine taking some of the best ingredients in an Italian sub and throwing them on a thin, crispy pizza crust and baking them to perfection in your oven. That's basically what we have here.

I've never tasted a meat that blended so perfectly with banana peppers as this Genoa salami did. The cover of this product mentions both "banana peppers" and "pepperoncinis," but I was pretty sure they were the same thing. You know, you always get them at Subway. Most locations label them as banana peppers, but regionally, they're also known as pepperoncinis. I certainly didn't see two types of peppers on top of this pizza, but enough with semantics. This pizza tasted great.

It also has whole milk mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and crushed red pepper already on it. Altogether, the two shining stars of this product are the pepperoncinis and the salami. You could throw a bit of those two ingredients on plain white toast and it would taste pretty good, in my opinion. The cheese and tomato sauce are present, and they certainly don't hurt the flavor, but they don't do a whole lot for it, either. Mozzarella is generally a mild cheese, and maybe AF's food gurus knew what they were doing when they made sure it played second fiddle to the meat and peppers, but I'd be very interested in finding out what this product would taste like with a bolder cheese.

The crust seemed crispier and less chewy than many other AF pizzas. I don't know if that was solely because we cooked it a tad longer or whether the crust is actually made differently in this pizza. Either way, it was pretty close to "New York-style" and it worked well with the toppings.

My wife and I both agree, this is tied for the best Archer Farms brand pizza we've had so far. We'll put it up there with the Eggplant Parm.

I give this pizza 8 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Archer Farms Raspberry Dark Mocha Latte

There are some things I really like about Starbucks and some things I really hate about them. I love the taste of their frappuccinos, although I'd probably take a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf frozen drink over a Starbucks. I like the vibe in most Starbucks locations, and I like that they provide inexpensive health care to their workers. But I hate how they crush mom & pops coffee shops, and I hate that they practically have a monopoly on the pre-packaged frappuccino market.

From time to time, I'll see Seattle's Best or some other cold coffee drink pop up in supermarkets, but many times, they wind up disappearing soon thereafter. I guess they simply can't compete with Starbucks' sales. And I very rarely see another brand name cold coffee beverage in convenience stores. So every chance I get, I try to buy the competition's cold coffee drink.

This Archer Farms product is a good example of why that's not always a good idea. In its defense, it is low-fat. But it tastes like it, too. It almost tastes watered-down to me. The level of raspberry-ness is pretty good, but there's very little mocha flavor. It honestly tastes like they made a half-decent frappuccino-style drink and then cut it by adding water. Like, lots of water.

At 100 calories, I can't complain too much. And after all, the main reason people drink coffee isn't just for the taste, but for the effect of the caffeine. And this product contains caffeine. I'm not sure how much, but it definitely has some.

And don't get me wrong, it doesn't taste bad, it just isn't particularly dessert-ish. Certainly not as dessert-ish as I wanted it to taste, and not nearly as dessert-ish as "Raspberry Dark Mocha" sounds.

I can totally conceive that there are people out there that do like this product, but I'll certainly never buy it again. I'm torn between 5 and 6 stars. I assumed my wife would like these more than I did, but she actually found them revolting. So I'll go with 5.

I give this product 5 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Archer Farms Vanilla Low Fat Yogurt

I know, I know. This is probably going to be the most boring review ever. How and why does someone review vanilla yogurt—of any brand, let alone a store brand?

First of all, I'm writing this before I even try the product. That's right. Thus far, I've been typing this, and I haven't even eaten the yogurt. If you've never had Archer Farms Vanilla Yogurt, I'm right there with you. But I assure you, by the time I finish this post, I will have tried and rated the product. Sit tight, folks. I know you're on the edge of your seats.

Let me remind you all that I've tried the Strawberry Cheesecake Yogurt, which got an excellent score. I also really enjoyed the Honey Almond flavor. I was disappointed with the Banana Cream Pie Yogurt. And the Blackberry version wasn't much better. After I've had this vanilla yogurt, I will have tried every flavor available at my local Target, except for the fat-free version of the Strawberry Cheesecake (I had the low-fat variety). And since I've shared my thoughts about each flavor here on this blog in a sensible and organized fashion, at the end of this blog post, I shall declare myself the world's leading expert on Archer Farms Yogurts.

Now I'm sure there are other people out there who have tried each and every flavor of Archer Farms yogurts, including many that have been discontinued or are not available at my Target. And I'm sure those people have very valid opinions—which may differ from mine to some extent, however, those people have failed to properly catalog their findings and offer them up for everyone to see here on the world wide web in the manner that I have, therefore, I must conclude that I will still reign supreme as the world's leading expert on Archer Farms Yogurts.

And then there will be those naysayers who claim that instead of rating yogurt flavors, I should have done something "meaningful" with my life. Doctors save lives, preachers save souls, soldiers fight for freedom, real journalists enlighten us, yadda yadda yadda. Well, a wise person once said, "Do one thing, and do it better than anyone else." And although my mother made it very clear that I don't do anything particularly well, I have chosen to rate and review Archer Farms yogurt flavors, and until I'm proven wrong, I'm pretty sure I'm the best in the world at it. And while maybe the food-science guys who actually make these yogurts have a legitimate claim at that title, let's face it, their opinions would be too subjective.

So here goes. I'm trying the yogurt: It's good. It's yum-tastic.

Creamier than most plain vanilla yogurts, it's bursting with flavor. It's sweetened with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. It's low in fat, and it's got 20% of my daily vitamin D.

It's worthy of 8 out of 10 stars.

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