Tag Archives: taste tests

Never Say Never: Except for Hazelnuts and Licorice

Gentle Readers, clearly this is going to be the season of confessions for The Practical Cook. They say it’s character building. Lean in close. You see, though I’m very willing to try most any food that won’t kill me, I have entire categories of beverages I won’t touch. Or I swore I wouldn’t touch. Or taste. Ever. Never say never, particularly out loud.

Coffee Unadulterated: Better Bitter Than Sweet

Coffee Unadulterated: Better Bitter Than Sweet

I do not like sweet drinks; I do not viscous drinks. I have no desire to sip a sugary colloid through a straw. This stance has kept me way far away from mixed drinks and hard liquor in general. The cocktails category is replete with things that can most generously be described as fruity, less generously called barfalicious.

Raspberry Martini, Spotted in the Wild

Raspberry Martini, Spotted in the Wild

But alas, I do try not to be hypocritical, and I become a zealot when people say “I hate curry,” (me: “what, what do you mean, how much have you eaten, what did you try, define curry, have you had XYZ, I need to cook for you”). So was the reaction of some wonderful experts in the field of cocktail creation, who also happen to have a keen sense of culinary adventure as well, that sometimes I even agree with. More on that later, let it suffice to say I’ve found the Waldorf to my Statler.

Love the Glass, Fear the Contents

Love the Glass, Fear the Contents

So let the record show, though it doesn’t happen often, I was wrong. There are cocktails I would drink in this world. Here’s the tally, based on early and somewhat limited research. Note that this was a taste test, not a drinking contest. Flavor, people, flavor. The Practical Cook does not advocate downing a forty for research purposes.

1. Licorice. I still hate it. Really and truly I do. One item was a shot of something that screamed “anise” to me, and not in the good way. I smelled, sipped a wee bit, and reaffirmed my loathing.

Licorice: My Sworn Enemy

Licorice: My Sworn Enemy

2. Really good dark rum. Wow, it does taste like molasses. Who knew? Not sure I want to drink it, but I do want to cook with it more.

Let there be rum.

Let there be rum.

3. Really good vodka. Whatever I tasted made me think of coconuts, though it was NOT a flavored item. It has the disturbing quality of being water-like in appearance, but not in taste and texture. This messes with my mind. It was good though.

4. Vermouth-based drink, contents unknown. This was the winner. Served with an orange slice, it made me think of Ruby Red grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed. This is why cocktails can be so dangerous! It was sharp without being bitter, not nose-hair burning with alcohol, and clean. Fascinating.

Mystery Vermouth Drink: Tasted Like Grapefruit and Sunshine

Mystery Vermouth Drink: Tasted Like Grapefruit and Sunshine

5. Scotch, in a Rob Roy. I can still taste the smoke, in the please make it stop way. Aficionados tell me to keep trying, and I may, but wow. For the record, I’m not a huge fan of smoked anything: cheese, salmon, liquid, etc. It’s a face-punch type flavor for me, so blunt I can’t taste around it.

Special thanks to the good people at Peccadillos in Carrboro, NC, for the opportunity to expand my palate and my horizons. It’s a fantastic spot for anyone with a sense of adventure.

Got questions? Email practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Next up, Think Outside the Cereal Box: Combining Cereals for All-New Taste Sensations.

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Restaurant Reviews

When Ice Cream Tastes Like Controversy: Ben and Jerry’s Schweddy Balls (with video)

Gentle Readers, it’s hard to even type that when The Practical Cook knows she’s getting ready to use some less than genteel language. But alas, it is my sworn duty to wade into challenging waters, and therefore, I have found and tasted Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy Balls Ice Cream.

If you like rum, you'll love Schweddy Balls Ice Cream from Ben & Jerry's

If you like rum, you'll love Schweddy Balls Ice Cream from Ben & Jerry's

Was it worth the search? Roll the tape:

In the end, I’m not as much of a rum fan as I am a peanut butter fan. This is good ice cream if you’re into the flavor profile, or looking to completely alienate a stuffy family member. Alternatively, it makes for a great hostess gift during the holidays. If you like malted milk balls, and rum balls, you’ll like this ice cream.

Try serving it over a chocolate stout cake for a holiday balls sensation.

Try serving it over a chocolate stout cake for a holiday balls sensation.

For me, I’ll stick with Clusterfluff or the German Chocolate Cake numbers. Go to Whole Foods if you’d like to perform the taste test, or let us know if you find it elsewhere! Post a comment below with your opinion and any additional locations for purchase for our viewing audience.

Send your ice cream challenges and sprinkles to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up tomorrow, a warm-up pitch: Three More of My Least Favorite Things. Names will be named.

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Snacks

Deep-Fried News: Kool-Aid and Bubble Gum at the N.C. State Fair (with video taste test)

Gentle Readers, good news, The Practical Cook is not under a Deep Fried Embargo: she can tell you what is frying at the 2011 N.C. State Fair! Prepare to return to the days of Saturday morning cartoons (at least for me), it’s Deep-Fried Kool-Aid and Bubble Gum, with a side of Lemon Sticks. Wow, let’s get started, shall we?

Yeah, I think there are tickets available.

Yeah, I think there are tickets available.

First came the update on what’s new at the fair. Good news, more family-focused rides, and more rides in general. Perfect stops between snacks or more opportunities to lose your fried, depending on your level of tolerance.

Deep Fried Warmup with Murphy House Fried Chicken (and salad!): Awesome!!

Deep Fried Warmup with Murphy House Fried Chicken (and salad!): Awesome!!

Second we learned that there are more entries in almost every category. That’s basically more fair for your buck, think about it. Just good basic math at work there. So you’ll need a plan of attack, and possibly a buddy system. For the plan, download the N.C. State Fair App (called the Food & Fun Finder, yes please).

Look what's frying at the N.C. State Fair!

Look what's frying at the N.C. State Fair!

And now, here’s The Practical Cook, your Deep Fried Ambassador, with a special video sneak peek at the Fried:

What are you going to eat at the fair? Is there anything you will not eat? Post a comment below, or Tweet me with #ncstatefair to challenge me to try something on air!

Send your questions and double-dog dares to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, Bringing the Fair Home: Biscuit Doughnuts!

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Filed under Fried, Restaurant Reviews