June 2011

Horseflesh, eggplant, fish and other ice cream flavors you didn't know existed

Don't you wish you still didn't know?

Yesterday I wrote about unusual beer flavors that are either surprisingly delicious or predictably disgusting.  I was so inspired by that post that I decided to write about something that is also delicious on its own—ice cream—and look around for some of the weirdest flavors from around the world.  When it comes to ice cream, does the old adage “don’t mess with a good thing” hold up or not?   

Candied Bacon Ice Cream.  David Lebovitz, the author of The Perfect Scoop, knows something about ice cream.  Trying to replicate his favorite breakfast, Lebovitz combined bacon, eggs, butter and half-and-half to make this ice cream.  He then topped off rum-flavored ice cream with brown-sugar laced bacon crumbles. 

Fried Eggplant Ice Cream.  Found in Japan, this ice cream flavor puts a new spin on the vegetable (which I think is actually fruit).  Seeing what they did with taro flavored ice cream, bringing out the root vegetable’s sweet notes for a surprisingly creamy ice cream, I have high hopes for eggplant ice cream.  I’m just confused why they had to add the “fried” into the mix. 

Sugar Babies: Down With Red 40!

Sugar Babies are the most easily available member of the Babies family. The primary caretaker in this family is Sugar Daddy, which is a funny rectangular lollipop made out of caramel. If there is a Sugar Mommy in the picture, I haven't seen her. Even Sugar Daddy is something of an absentee parent. I think the only place I regularly run across Sugar Daddy candies is at Rite-Aid and other oddball drug store candy aisles.

Snickers: The Classic, The Best

I spend a lot of time analyzing and writing about weird candy. Weird candy is fun! But at the end of the day, when I want a treat, more often than not I fall back on one of the reliable classics: the Snickers bar.

Snickers has spun off a lot of different off-shoots over the years. And don't get me wrong, those are interesting and add some nice variety to the line-up. Snickers Almond began as a special edition, and ended up sticking around. Dark Chocolate Snickers is always a welcome treat. Snickers Marathon: not a big fan. But in the end it all comes back to the classic Snickers bar.

Pie shops are the number one food trend of 2011

Forget grandma; they are miniature and fancy now

Pie used to be the dessert your grandmother made.  Flaky crust covering apple, rhubarb or blueberry dripping with sugary filling.  Sometimes she would throw some hamburger meat inside for Thanksgiving (or at least my grandmother would), but other than that, pie only came in the sweet variety.

 

Pie is still what your grandmother makes, but it is also what young chefs around the country are perfecting; they are doing it with modern fillings, portable packages and shops that stay open way later than grandma ever baked.  Pie shops were the number one food trend of 2011, so what’s the big deal about these buttery and fruity concoctions of yesteryear that they are so popular now? 

 

I first noticed the pie trend in Seattle when the pie shop, Pie, moved into the Fremont neighborhood.  Pie the shop sells an astounding variety of pies.  They sell the traditional sweet pies, including apple, lemon meringue, pecan, but also veer into the realm of the exceptional with sausages wrapped in pie filling as well as pies filled with barbecue pork and mac ‘n cheese. The shop serves all of its concoctions in small individual pies, rather than in slices, and also has tiny ones for eating on the run.  Best of all, Pie is open late—until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights—so drunkards from the neighboring bars can eat something more substantive than Seattle dogs.

 

So I was a bit of a latecomer to the trend in Seattle.  But after I started frequenting Pie, I noticed High-5 pie, Seattle Pie Company, Shoofly Pie. And that’s just Seattle. Like Pie’s pie, High-5 pies come in little handheld pouches, rather than slices, making them portable as well as adorable.  

 

Seattle isn’t the only city embracing the pie trend.  Andrew Freeman, of Andrew Freeman & Co., a consulting firm for restaurants and hotels in San Francisco, says that pie was the number one trend in the country this year.  He notes that in New York City’s Hill Country Chicken, they offer a “Pie Happy Hour” for customers to try whiskey-buttermilk, apple-cheddar and banana crème pies.

Jelly Bean Poopers

I met my first jelly bean pooper at Easter, in about 1997 when I worked in the accounting department of a large travel agency. One of our managers was a far more interesting woman than you would expect from an accounting manager. She brought in a yellow plastic chick which pooped out jelly beans when you pushed it down.

Squirrel Nut Zippers

The other bizarre candy that I bought at Michael's Crafts yesterday is a bag of Squirrel Nut Zippers. Like so many people, I was entranced by Squirrel Nut Zippers (the band) in the 1990s. I vaguely knew that their name came from a candy (I probably heard it in an NPR interview or something). But for some reason, I thought a Squirrel Nut Zipper was something like a turtle or a Goo Goo Cluster. A blob of chocolate, nuts, and maybe caramel.

(What can I say? We didn't have Wikipedia back then.)

Super Mario Snerdles

Here is a question which I have often contemplated: why does Michael's Crafts carry so much awesome and bizarre candy? And is it all Michael's stores, or just mine?

This time around I purchased a ton of oddball stuff I have never seen anywhere else. Including this bizarre candy tribute to Super Mario, a video game that I think most gamers have had memorized in their muscle memory for at least 20 years.

Saltwater Taffy

I live in a seaside town: La Conner, which sits at the edge of Puget Sound not far from Deception Pass. The town next door is Anacortes, which is the terminal point for the ferry to the San Juan islands. And so it is that saltwater taffy is ever-present here during summer. Saltwater taffy is to seaside towns what gumbo is to Louisiana, or martinis to the urban core: a natural fit, if not an immediately obvious one.