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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Archer Farms Vanilla Caramel Latte

This is the best of the Archer Farms bottled lattes that we've tried so far. I can't imagine anyone thinking that either the Raspberry Mocha or the Chai Tea Latte is equal to or better than this stuff. But sure as shootin' you can bet that somebody out there thinks so, and they'll undoubtedly be the one to comment below and tell you how far off I am on my assessment of these coffee beverages.

But barring that happening, you'll just have to take my word for it that unlike those other two caffeinated drinks, this one is actually worth purchasing. It's sweet, but not too sweet. It actually tastes of coffee, vanilla, and caramel, though none of the flavors are overbearing. It's got 40mg of caffeine, a fact which is conveniently printed on the back of the bottle. That's something that virtually nobody else does but that I would greatly appreciate. To the best of my understanding, 40mg is just a little more than the amount of caffeine in a can of Coke or Pepsi. Perfect for a single serving of coffee, if you ask me.

This latte was very drinkable, with no major aftertastes or flavor imbalances. There was no grittiness, and it was pretty smooth. The only thing I might point out as a  minor flaw is that, like the previously reviewed coffee beverages, this too tastes a mite bit watered down.

But it is "low-fat." And a lot of times, wateriness is what you can expect from reduced guilt options. If you're wanting it thicker, I imagine you could just pour some whole milk into the mixture and make your own "slightly-more-guilt" concoction.

All in all, it's a respectable coffee beverage and a valid alternative to the Starbucks pre-packaged lattes and frappuccinos. Finally.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Archer Farms Lemon Meringue Gelato

A week or two ago, I promised a bunch of reviews of frozen treats. This is me attempting to make good on that promise...not that you really have to twist my arm to get me to eat ice cream.

I'm always ready to try new flavors, especially when they're familiar flavors like lemon meringue. Although in this case, I think I like the pie just a tad more than the gelato.

It's not bad, don't get me wrong. It's very refreshing and sweet, but it doesn't taste very lemony. And the "meringue" part is nothing more than little marshmallowy things on the top layer of ice cream.

It has a relatively light flavor. My wife thinks it simply tastes like vanilla ice cream, but I do detect a very subtle essence of some citrus fruit. It's almost like they flavored it with lemon peels instead of actual lemon, but I see right there in the ingredients that they did actually use lemon juice from
concentrate. All I can say is, they must have used it sparingly. It's almost like there's a ribbon of lemoniness running around certain portions of the product because some bites really taste like lemon, and others barely taste like it at all.

It's not a bad choice for dessert, but it doesn't even come close to my beloved Creme Cake & Berry Swirl.

I give the Lemon Meringue Gelato 7 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Archer Farms Pear & Gorgonzola Wood-Fired Flatbread

This is what I might refer to as a pseudo-dessert. It's not quite sweet enough to be a full-on dessert treat in my humble opinion—oh sorry, I guess we hip blogger-type people are abbreviating that to "IMHO" these days. But anyway, it's not sweet enough for dessert, as I was saying, and it's a little too sweet to be dinner, IMHO.

But that's just fine for folks like me, because I just graze all day long. I rarely eat actual meals. I grew up that way. I ate a "meal" with my family exactly three times a year: Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Other times, my "dinner" usually consisted of a bowl of cereal eaten on the piano bench in the living room, which I straddled like a horse with the food in front of me so I could watch television at the same time. So personally, I don't really mind food that defies categorization.

Likewise, this flatbread is about as dinner-like as a bowl of cereal. However, it's a bit more substantial. And it's actually really good. It might work better as an appetizer, now that I think about it.

There's not a whole lot of savoriness to it either. It's a very light flavor. Neither gorgonzola nor pear brings a heavy taste to the table. The bread, as well, has some flavor, but it's not at all overbearing. And because all flavors present are light, they blend together in a really nice way. Baking them all together sort of allows them to gel a little more, too. There's pear juice in the cheese and cheese juice on the pears—and let me state under no uncertain terms that I do NOT think fruit and cheese (like apples and cheese) is a very good combo, personally. But there are a few exceptions, as is the case with certain pizzas. In this case, think of the pineapple on a Hawaiian pizza, but not quite as pungent.

So whether you have it for dinner, dessert, or a random snack, there's a good chance it'll hit the spot. It's a unique flavor, and I think it's worth a try.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Archer Farms Puff Pastry Collection

If you're looking for a few tasty hors d'oeuvres and a whole bunch of fat, look no further than Archer Farms Puff Pastry Collection.

There are three flavors here, and my wife and I both agree that two of them stand a shade above the third. Although we anticipated the artichoke, Asiago, spinach puff to be the best one of all, it turned out to be just a bit bland.

The other two weren't exactly bursting with flavor, but they were more along the lines of what we expected. They were very good, although I'm not quite sure if you could call them restaurant-quality.

None of the breads stood out from the others. They seemed to taste the same, but they came in three different shapes: rolls, puffs, and croissants. The filling is really what distinguished each of the varieties. I'm not a huge fan of pesto or tomatoes, yet the sun-dried tomato flavor in the ricotta
croissants impressed me a lot. Likewise, the red pepper in the feta rolls gave them enough tang and taste to make them memorable.

The Asiago puffs just didn't do it for either of us. There was a creamy texture within the crisp, flaky pastry shell, but it lacked flavor. I guess by themselves the constituent ingredients don't usually have a ton of heavy flavor, but I think when I've had similar products in the past, they were paired with spices that gave them a bit of zest and brought out the natural yumminess of the artichoke and spinach.

All in all, this product's worth a try if you think they sound good. Just don't expect much from the Asiago pastries.

I give these puff pastries 7 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Archer Farms Honey Barbecue Ribs Chips

Most of the time, when you see "rib" flavored chips—or chips with some other barbecued meat flavor, you get a chip that simply has some tangy barbecue sauce on it...or some kind of funky steak sauce, similar to A-1. Worst case scenario, you get a chip that tastes like they fried ketchup into it or something weird like that.

Well, that was the worst case scenario that I could imagine prior to tasting these things. But these actually taste like pig flesh. Or "schwein fleisch," if you prefer it auf Deutsch.

They taste a little like pork rinds if you've ever had those, but more than that—it tastes like they took meat from an old dead pig and rubbed it all over these otherwise perfectly good, heavily-ridged, thick-cut potato chips. (They didn't actually do that, as far as I can tell. It just tastes that way).

There is a certain tang to the taste of these chips, as if the dead pig meat they rubbed all over them did have a bit of barbecue sauce already on it. But it's not a particularly good BBQ sauce. It's edible at best. Or it would be edible if it weren't mixed in with all of that swine-skin flavor.

I guess I should have taken the hint that these were especially porky chips since there's a picture of ribs right there on the bag. Know what else was on the bag? A big clearance sticker. They marked these down almost 50% and that's one of the main reasons why I bought them. That's what I get for being cheap.

That could be evidence that Target has come to their senses and decided to discontinue these things. Which would be excellent. They take up space on the shelf where tasty chips could go. They should have just labeled these "Schwein Fleisch Kartoffeln."

It wasn't just me. Sonia discovered the pigskin taste all by herself. We also both agree that there was very little natural potato taste, too. Which is unfortunate, because that could have been the saving grace of these utterly revolting chips.

As it stands, we'll have to go ahead and create the "3 star" tag just for these things. That means that this is basically the worst Archer Farms product that we've come by so far. Blech!

I give these chips 3 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Archer Farms Black & White Trail Mix

If you're thinkin' 'bout my baby, it don't matter if you're black or white. Or, like in this case, you're black AND white.

There's black, there's white, and there are even some colors in between: tan, brown, beige. It's one happy bag filled with commingled races of flavor living side by side in harmony.

And it tastes good, too. I've always liked the yogurt covered fruits and nuts just as much as the chocolate covered ones. They're both good, and they mix perfectly together.

But this is a really sweet bag of trail mix. It's got so much chocolate that I don't think I'd ever crave it while hiking or anything like that. It's almost a dessert type thing. The raisins and peanuts are trail mix-ish by nature, especially the ones without chocolate and yogurt. But at least half of the items in the bag are slathered with sweetness, and they'd most certainly melt in your hand on a hot summer day.

Plus, I break out if I eat any significant amount of chocolate. Especially when I'm already sweaty. So as far as this being a trail mix, I don't know if I'll ever take it out on the trails with me. But as far as this being a snack mix, or even a dessert mix, it's one of the best-tasting I've tried so far.

My wife Sonia agrees. She thinks it's quite handy for trips in the car, etc. Even though she's not technically scoring these AF products with me on this blog, I usually use her as a sounding board for my ideas. If I think a product is great and she agrees, then I know it's probably not just a personal bias I have. Likewise, if I think a product is awful and she does too, then it's most likely pretty awful to most people. Not always...but often enough.

So this blog isn't really just one man's opinion. My wife and I have different enough tastes that when we agree wholeheartedly on something, you can best bet a majority of consumers will agree with us as well. And if you disagree with us, we always invite you to leave a comment stating so below.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Archer Farms Dulce de Leche Gelato

In Spanish, "dulce de leche" means "sweet of milk." It's basically caramel. It's good.

This gelato is pretty tasty, too, if you like caramel. Fortunately, I do, and my wife does as well.

But I wasn't quite as enthralled with this product as I was with my delicious Crème Cake & Berry Swirl Gelato. I think it was the bits of sponge cake in the latter that really pushed it over the top for me.

The caramel in this product is very good, the gelato itself is good—on par with all the other vanilla-based gelato I've had from Archer Farms. The mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids are really good...wait...what did I just say? Sometimes it's better to remain ignorant and not even read the ingredients list, especially if you're trying to treat yourself to something special. What? No triglycerides of fatty acids? Cheap jerks.

But seriously, in comparison with the Cake & Berry nonsense, this flavor is just a little boring to me. I feel like I have tasted sweet Heaven, and I don't wanna go back to Earth.

But under any other circumstances, this review would have made this product sound like a raving success. It is very good. My wife claims to like it just as much and maybe better than the Cake & Berry flavor. To say it's better than the Cake & Berry is preposterous to me. But it is a close second...I'll give her that.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Archer Farms Chai Tea Latte

I've always liked chai. I've had some good chai from cafes and coffee houses in my day. And of course, I've had some really good chai mixes from grocery stores. This product, unfortunately, is neither.

My biggest complaint is that it's chalky. I don't know what other word I could use to describe it. No matter how much shaking I did, I just didn't feel like the product was smooth. It felt and tasted like it had just come from a powdered mix. And there was...this, like, medicinal taste.

It wasn't all that sweet, and it wasn't all that spicy. It did taste vaguely like chai...but it was a second-rate chai at best.

A couple months back, we felt similarly disappointed with AF's Raspberry Dark Mocha Latte. Both Sonia and I thought it was "watery" or watered-down-tasting.

I felt the same about this chai. Rather than tasting a rich, spicy flavor—or even a milky flavor, I just tasted water and a goofy, lightly-sweetened powder. My wife thinks this product is significantly better than the raspberry mocha, but I would actually have to say that it's a little worse.

I was going to give this product the same score as the raspberry mocha, but after giving it a second chance and trying another bottle this morning, I am even more displeased than I was with the first bottle. These chai lattes are nasty.

I give this product 4 out of 10 stars.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Archer Farms Crème Cake & Berry Swirl Gelato

It's hot again here in Philadelphia. And that means it's time for a barrage of reviews on frozen treats from my local Target's freezer.

Compared to the other Archer Farms gelato flavor that I checked out on this blog, this one's definitely a bit tastier. It's got oval-shaped bits of sponge cake all through it, which add a welcome element of complexity to the product's texture. They taste pretty good, too. They're lightly sweet and bready. The gelato's also sweetened with various fruit juices, as well as sugar, so it's got some quality ingredients. It's not just a tub of cheap high fructose corn syrup.

The fruit gel swirled throughout the product tastes vaguely of berry, although considering there's plenty of actual fruit juice in the product, the reddish jelly part of it doesn't necessarily taste that way. I think it might be a simple matter of blending too many different berry juices together, so that it doesn't taste like any one fruit in particular. But that's not a dealbreaker—not by any means.
This product also lacks the nasty aftertaste present in the Cherry Amaretto version, so that's another plus. The vanilla part of the product is creamy and rich, and its quality falls juuust shy of gelatos I've had from actual gelato parlors—places where one tiny dish of ice cream costs as much as this entire tub.

So all in all, this is a big thumbs up. I could hardly keep myself from eating the whole container in one sitting.

I give this product 9 out of 10 stars.

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