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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Archer Farms Organic Strawberry Pull-Apart Fruit Peels

Earlier this year, we reviewed AF Wild Berry Fruit Strips. They were tasty, moist, organic, and flavorful. And for the most part, all of that could be said of these strawberry dealies.

I think if you put me under extreme duress and forced me to decide which flavor was better, I'd go with the wild berry. But strawberry is very close. In fact, under most circumstances I'd say they're about the same.

One thing that is different about this product is the "pull-apart" feature. It's kinda like a slab of "fruit leather," but it's sectioned into 5 little fruit "straws." It's fun to pull them apart and all, and eating little straws is, for some reason I can't quite figure out, more appealing than eating a big flat strip. However, since the product is pleasantly moist, it's rather like dipping your fingers into a glass of syrupy apple juice each time you pull a straw from the sheet.

If you were having a picnic or eating these while hiking, you would probably want to just hold the product by the wrapper and eat it without contacting the peels themselves, otherwise you'd risk being eaten alive by ants and gnats and other insects that are attracted to fruit-covered fingers and might even be pestered by larger animals like squirrels or, heaven forbid, bears. Unless of course you ate the product very quickly and were equipped with handi-wipes or something.

But how you eat them is entirely up to you. I'm just letting you know that these things are sticky, and the suggestion to pull these apart with your bare hands isn't particularly wise in my opinion.

I say all this in the most tongue-in-cheek manner possible, but seriously, I think I'd rather eat apple sauce with my bare hands than these things. They're freaking sticky. But other than that, they're pretty good.

I'll give 'em 7 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Archer Farms Cheesecake Bites Collection

I had seen these at multiple Target stores on many different occasions. I'm not sure why I never tried them up until now. It might have been the $5.99 price tag or the fact that I've never been thoroughly wowed by pre-packaged grocery store cheesecake before. There was just something that always scared me away.

But I've made it through a good many of Target's desserts and reviewed them all here on this blog. So it was only a matter of time until I broke down, splurged, and bought this pack of what turned out to be a variety of really amazing cheesecakes.

Each of these flavors was excellent. However, my wife and I both agree that raspberry swirl was best. I thought the New York style was a very close second, but Sonia liked the turtle a little better.

I thawed them according to the directions. I assumed they would be a little harder and colder in the middle, but miraculously, they were evenly thawed the whole way through. Everything from the crust to the creamy cheesecake was incredible. Both taste and texture were just about perfect. I'd call these things restaurant-quality. And not like day-old cheesecake from a dumpy diner pretty close to Cheesecake Factory quality.

If I wanted to nitpick, I could dock some points for fat content, but hey, it's cheesecake. It's not supposed to be good for you, it's just supposed to taste really good. And it does. I would seriously consider serving these at a fancy shindig, or even a wedding. And finally, I think it's time to give out my first perfect score.

10 out of 10 stars.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Archer Farms Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip Rounds

When I saw this product, my eyes bulged with excitement. I yanked it off the shelf at my local Target, and began reading the description on the back of the bag. It mentioned eating these chips with guacamole. My heart sank a little. I was hoping they'd be truly sweet—the kind of item you wouldn't want to eat with guacamole. But then I looked at the ingredients and saw that the number one ingredient was still corn. "Sweet potato powder" was a good ways down the list.

Although I was no longer so enthused about trying them, I decided to buy them anyway, since I like to try interesting new things. I had always been a fan of sweet potato French fries, but I'm appalled that anyone would eat them with non-sweet condiments. At a central Pennsylvania county fair growing up, I remember eating those fries with maple syrup and brown sugar, the way they were meant to be eaten—like a dessert. People in California butchered them with tartar sauce. Tartar sauce? On sweet potato fries?

But anyway, these chips are a completely different animal. They're basically just regular tortilla chips with a tiny hint of sweet potato flavor. I don't particularly enjoy eating plain tortilla chips without any salsa, and likewise, I found these to be rather dull without some fixins. I didn't think hot salsa was a good pairing with them at all, though.

My wife and I took Target's suggestion of guacamole to heart, and Sonia mashed up some avocados and tomatoes. It went pretty well with these chips, I must admit. And Sonia absolutely raved about these things even before she had them with guac.

I don't think I would have given them more than a 6 if it hadn't been for Sonia and her homemade guacamole. But I could see how anyone might be a fan of these chips, as long as they're not expecting something particularly sweet.

I give this product 7 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Archer Farms Spicy Habanero Lime Cream Cheese Wontons

These are weird. And I mean that in the best way possible. I've never had anything quite like them before, and I pride myself on being very open to new experiences and having tried lots of random foods. I've eaten chapulines (chili-covered grasshoppers, popular in parts of Mexico), açaí berries, kangaroo meat (never been to Australia, though - long story), eel, several different dishes involving cow stomach, and Milk-Bones (again, long story), among other things. Oh, and quite possibly, horse meat. I had those Ikea meatballs during that recent, heavily-publicized scandal, and even though they claim they didn't serve horse in their American stores, I'm not sure I believe them entirely.

Now I'm not saying the ingredients in these appetizers are necessarily from unusual animals or exotic plants or anything like that. I'm just saying if you can throw something together that really doesn't taste like something I've already had, you've already impressed me.

Even though there's not an ounce of seafood in these, there was something that reminded me of seafood. Maybe it's because there was cream cheese in the Lobster Bites and Crab Rangoon. Although these wontons don't taste like either of those other hors d'oeuvres, I think in a way, the cream cheese is more a base flavor than the seafood itself, or in this case, the peppers themselves.

The dipping sauce was somewhere in between that old school McDonald's sweet and sour sauce and, I dunno, like a funky orange marmalade or something. The wontons themselves were spicy, cream cheesy, and deliciously bready. I've seldom had such scrumptious fried dough. Well, ok, I guess it's the same stuff on the aforementioned Lobster Bites and Crab Rangoon. But it's good. That's my point. And the lime...the level of liminess was perfect. You can certainly taste it, but it's not overbearing.

I'm gonna go ahead give this puppy 8 out of 10 stars. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Archer Farms Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bites

The last dark chocolate Archer Farms item we reviewed was a big winner. And I'm not even really a huge fan of dark chocolate. I prefer the sugary, candy-esque rush of white chocolate or milk chocolate.

But I'm getting older, and my tastes are being refined day by day. Dark chocolate is definitely slightly better for me, I know that much. Not only is there less sugar, but there are more antioxidants. Plus, it makes my blog seem so much more sophisticated. Posting links to dark chocolate product reviews makes me feel like a real grown-up. Especially when it involves hazelnuts...or really any nuts other than peanuts...which are actually legumes, not nuts. But that's neither here nor there.

Do these taste good? Yes...if you like dark chocolate. And, as I mentioned before, I'm a much bigger fan of sweeter chocolates. I think these would be absolutely killer covered in white chocolate. I wish, I wish, I wish...for more white chocolate-covered things at Archer Farms.

But in the words of R.E.M., "If wishes were trees, those trees would be fallin'." And I'm pretty sure that means we should just deal with reality instead of talking about silly pipe dreams like more white chocolate Archer Farms products. Fine.

I try to put myself in the shoes of a dark chocolate lover when I try items like this. And I'm usually quite pleased. I'm very good at role playing.

As was the case with the Salt Caramel Almond Bites, the portions are incredibly small. They really are just "bites." But that's good. It's a chance for fatties like me to exercise portion control. And unlike other Archer Farms items with "hazelnut" in the title, you can actually taste hazelnut here.

The difference between these little snackies and just your run-of-the-mill, generic chocolate-covered granola bars is subtle, but it's definitely there.

I give this product 7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Archer Farms Salt & Lime Corn Chips

These chips are more like Fritos than Tostitos. And they taste pretty limey. They're sturdy, dip-tastic, and salty as the sea. That's not to imply they're made with sea salt, I just liked the alliteration in the last part of that sentence. Catchy, don't you think?

If you've had other lime corn chips and wished they had just a bit more than a hint of lime, you might wanna check these out. The liminess isn't overwhelming. It's just right in my opinion. If they overdid it with anything, it was the salt.

But "salt and lime" chips are gonna be chock full o'...well, salt and lime. These went great with the Summer Fruits Salsa. Scrump-dilly. The little scoop shape is super-practical. I'm not sure why they still sell non-scoop-shaped chips anymore, or for that matter, why I keep buying them again and again...

From this point forward, I demand that all chips be created to feature a scoop or shovel design. I shall not purchase a bag of chips until you comply with my demands. You hear that, Archer Farms corporate guys? NOT A SINGLE BAG OF CHIPS!

If you're with me on this, leave a comment below letting me know you'll sign the petition. Practical chip fans unite!

We'll see how that goes over with the big Target gurus. I'm sure they'll cave any day now and announce that they'll only sell scoop-shaped chips at Target stores.

But at any rate, I'm quite impressed with these chips. If you like a little cornmeal with your lime and salt, check them out. No, really, I guess I'm exaggerating a little. There's a pretty good balance of all the flavors present—and again, I can't recommend them enough with a fruit-based salsa.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Archer Farms Cake Balls

I was a much bigger fan of the vanilla cake balls. My wife Sonia really liked the chocolate ones. We both agree that especially the vanilla ones felt and tasted more like raw cookie dough with a white chocolate shell than actual cake. The difference is that I like cookie dough and she does not.

I would also argue that the chocolate ones tasted more like cake-batter than actual cooked cake. But Sonia thinks they were cakey enough.

I think the box underestimates the thawing times for the cake balls. I would just about double their estimation that 45 minutes at room temperature is enough. Go ahead and leave them out for an hour and a half before you eat them. Likewise, keep them in the fridge much longer than they recommend if you prefer to thaw them that way.

They're really rich. But more than "rich," they're "heavy." eat a bite, and you're kinda full. And I love to eat dessert. I usually eat way too much. But with these, I was able to stop at one "ball" per meal.

And that brings me to my next point: avoid use of the word "balls" when dealing with food products. I'm not going to go into all the details of how I came to that conclusion, but just suffice it to say that I'm not entirely keen on walking around my home talking about "eating balls." And honestly, Target, your balls are overly big.

No really, they should have made them much smaller and called them "bites," thus avoiding embarrassing wordplay like, "Man, these balls are so big I can't fit them in my mouth!"

I mean, I would apologize for filling a food blog with such perverse double-speak, but really it's Archer Farms' fault. Seriously, guys? Balls?

Weird wordplay aside, I don't think I'll be buying these again anytime soon. I'd rather get more crème brûlée or strawberry cheesecake yogurt.

And if you care to read the novel that is the ingredients list(s) for this product, go ahead and click on that image on the right side of this post.

I would have given these only 6 stars, but Sonia seemed way more fond of "the balls" than I was, so I guess I'll be generous and give 'em a 7.

7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Archer Farms Dark Chocolate Espresso Trail Mix

Imagine you are Godzilla. Imagine you're gorging yourself on humans, houses, and power lines, and having a high old time wrecking our feeble American and/or Japanese infrastructure. Now, imagine that your curiosity gets to you and you decide to find out what a Starbucks tastes like. Not a Starbucks coffee, but an entire Starbucks cafe. Everything in it. You just rip it out of its respective strip mall and pop it into your mouth. Whole.

Now go buy some of this Dark Chocolate Espresso Trail Mix. Pop a handful in your mouth. Like a big handful.

Tell me the two wouldn't be remarkably similar experiences.

Now imagine you're an avid hiker. You're in the mountains and you're well-hydrated. You've got a decent amount of food, but your blood sugar's low. You brought everything you need, but you forgot to have your morning cup of coffee. But then you remember, you've got Archer Farms Dark Chocolate Espresso in your backpack. Tell me this stuff wouldn't hit the spot in a way that nothing else could. Tell me this wouldn't be like a sweet shot of caffeine, protein, and sugar right into your bloodstream. Tell me this wouldn't nail your craving to the wall like a bad tenant who just moved in to sublet your spare bedroom trying to hang an oversized, framed poster on the crumbling plaster and drywall.

Dang. I'm good with metaphors.

And this trail mix is good with hunger...and caffeine cravings. Tomorrow morning, I'm gonna skip my daily energy drink and wolf down half a bag of this stuff. It'll be my breakfast and energy drink in one.

I'm diggin' it. And before this, I thought chocolate-covered espresso beans were overrated. They were missing praline almonds, mocha pecans, and chocolate chips apparently.

Friggin' awesome. Caffeine-hounds, dig in. Another winner.

I give this item 8 out of 10 stars. 

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