Friday, April 8, 2016

PSA: New Mikesell's Puffcorn Flavors!

Eaters, are you like me - still occasionally daydreaming about the last new snack flavor you found and wondering when the next will come along?  Okay, I'm relieved I'm not alone in that bone-deep need for new flavors of everything all the time. Sometimes, the FvF family even finds ourselves at Big Lots, scouting for discontinued, limited-edition flavors we can't find anymore.

Mikesell's launched new flavors in spring of '13 and late summer of '14 - which means southern Ohians were ready for something new. Now that the public expects it and competition gets thicker every year - they know they have to stay leveled up. In all sincerity, this company has yet to make anything I don't like. While all of their flavors aren't my jam (I'm a sucky baby about heat), they're all well developed, balanced flavors. They haven't tried to be too trendy, either. Enter Salted Caramel Puffcorn.

Of course it was free! My opinion, however, can't be bought. 

I know a lot of you are thinking, "Yeah, but isn't salted caramel sorta trendy?" Depending on who you ask, sure. But, salting sweets is not simply a trend or a new thing. Chefs and home cooks have been doing this for years. I don't remember how, where or when, but about a decade ago - I was traveling and got a taste of something filled with salted caramel and I, the girl who has long salted her brownies, went bonkers for the stuff. I started seeking it out everywhere, but it hadn't really gained momentum.

Is it like their Caramel Puffcorn Delites? Surprisingly, not really. I never really got into the caramel ones, because they were too sweet for me. Again, I like a little balance - a salt tooth, if you will. The flavor on the salted caramel is akin to if you were to make salted caramel at home - very rich, buttery,  and decadent. If you can make something taste buttery, I am ALL in, friends. Even people who haven't been fans of salty sweets in the past just might dig this. The flavor is mellow, but rich. Plus, no hulls and kernels - so you can feed it to babies. What are you waiting for?! Go find a baby and feed it some Mikesell's Puffcorn!!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Misadventures in Employment - A Love Story

I'll try to make this simple, eaters - I've missed you, and I plan on coming back full-force, like a boss. In October I left my career of 10 years and made a field change - got licensed and took an offer from a new employer. Terrible idea, terrible company. It was suggested I tender my resignation without a working notice - which I happily obliged, though I had no real plan. My only plan was to not be miserable anymore. Luckily, a friend's business kept me in work for a couple of months over the holidays (nothing like losing your job 10 days before Christmas, huh?) - then I landed what appears to be my dream job, short of getting paid to eat. 

The short: this gig is less stressful, normal hours and I'm on the road all over Ohio, getting to try new foods almost every day. Just my week in Westlake at their HQ is enough to produce at least five blog entries, and another 10-20 since between Columbus & Cincinnati areas. Hell, there are still places in Dayton I haven't tried. I'm looking forward to sharing with all of you again, and I hope my absence hasn't lost me too many eaters. And with that...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lihn's Bistro - Dayton, Ohio: The Redux

We got carry out from Lihn's several years ago when we lived close by, and I remembered it being good - just maybe not memorable. Since they've moved locations (still on Airway, but now in Page Manor), it seems I heard a little more buzz about them. More people on Facebook and Instagram singing their praises.

You know how you always see the little pepper next to Mongolian Beef on a menu and think, "Nahhhhh, everyone has that little pepper and the sauce is never spicy, just sweet." Well, I love that dish and thought the same thing when I ordered it here. Well, turns out not only do they use a lot of chilis, but they don't seed them. I noticed the spiciness can be tailored to your taste, so I would absolutely get this again. Even though it was far too much heat for my taste, I ate half the dish and powered through the other half the next day for lunch.

There was a mix-up with Mr. FvF's food, but somewhat understandable. He asked the server about two dishes, then ordered the second one. He was delivered the first one, which still looked delicious - just wasn't what he wanted.

Service was friendly & fast, and the prices were pretty reasonable. More than takeout, but probably on par with other sit-down Asian joints. Be forewarned that there are no fountain drinks, so if you order soda, you'll get a can & glass of ice, no refills.

Easy 4 out of 5 sporks. Would be a five had I known about the spice levels and they offered soft drink refills.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It's back! NOM, NOM, NOMINATE!!

I almost forgot to post this! There is still plenty of time to enter your besties, family, loved ones, caregivers, etc. Specifically, one more week because I'm late to the party.* Not only does this contest have a great title - it's sweet, sincere and relevant to the Thanksgiving season that will be upon us before we know it. If you're living right, you've probably had a good handful of moments in your life that someone did something so nice for you that it floored you. Or maybe there's someone in your life everyday that's so supportive of you that they just deserve a special treat for putting up with what a giant pain in the ass you can be sometimes. I mean, hypothetically.

Well, here's your chance. No catch, no purchase required. All you have to do is think of someone who is awesome and deserves a free pumpkin pie, and (nom, nom) nominate them on Frisch's Facebook page. 

*Real Talk: I had a chance to give a pumpkin pie away to one of my great readers, but a total career change and studying for a licensing exam thwarted that good and proper (missed the posting deadline). So, hopefully you're nice enough that someone will have nominated you for a pie. Also, sorry for dropping the ball here, Pamela! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

FvF on the Road: North Carolina (Carolina Beach/Cape Fear)

Wake &Bake Donuts - Carolina Beach, NC

I always meticulously plan our meals while on vacation so that we don't go out for any meal too often. If you pay for breakfast every morning, that adds up quickly. I always plan on going out for at least one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner throughout the week-long vaca. Everyone from the area, or who's ever visited the Cape Fear/Carolina beach area will give you a fire-and-brimstone speaech about how great Britt's donuts on the Boardwalk is. I've never had them, so I can't say either way - but they only serve plain glazed yeast donuts, and that doesn't appeal to me. As with cupcakes and french fries, you better get pretty creative in terms of a flavor profile for me to blow calories on some donuts. the other option that popped up in my Yelp! app, though, was Wake & Bake, which had opened fairly recently. Good choice! The flavors were as colorful as the staff themselves, and my son almost had blacked out when he saw a trough of donut holes o the counter, just there for the taking. We got the cinnabomb, fruity pebbles, Wake & Bake (maple bacon), peanut butter sriracha, s'mores and strawberry cheesecake. I fully expected to swoon over the maple bacon. It was good, but the cinnabomb blew it away with all of it's buttery goodness - like the very last inner bite of a cinnamon roll when you eat it from the outside in. 5/5

Island Hots - Carolina Beach, NC
Stopped by here for a quick lunch after a visit to the Port Fisher Aquarium (which is awesome, by the way). Hot dogs w/stuff on them. Think Zombie Dogs, but slightly less adventurous with their flavor profiles. Served on a coney-style bun with all beef franks, they offer toppings like chili, pulled pork, baked beans and slaw. We all enjoyed our dogs, but my only wish is that the frank was a little bigger. Service was counter-style, quick & friendly, and your kids might go apestuff because their combos will be served on a frisbee that they get to keep. 4/5

Frank's Pizza - Carolina Beach Boardwalk, NC

New York style pizza, but a little overpriced and not impressive. Maybe we caught it on a bad night (or I was butt-hurt about the claw machine eating my money and management not offering to refund it), but it just wasn't good. The FvF family REALLY likes pizza, but this didn't do it for us. Lil FvF still had no problem polishing off a whole slice as big as the paper plate it was served on, but the grown-ups thought it was overcooked. You should be able to fold a slice of NY-style pizza. When we attempted to fold our respective slices, it crackled and the top of the crust just crumbled like a cracker. 2/5

Island Ice Factory - Carolina Beach Boardwalk, NC
Finally got the kid the damn sprinkles ice cream he wanted. For a beach, the place isn't exactly overrun with ice cream shops and for a place that makes fresh ice cream and rotates flavors, we were really rolling the dice that we could score rainbow sprinkle anything. But lo, birthday cake ice cream. I got a scoop of salted caramel, and while the flavor was just okay - the texture was rich & dense. Reminded me a bit of frozen custard. Won't be on my "MUST revisit" list next year, but that's not to say we won't go back.  3.5/5

Fish Bites - Carolina Beach, NC
Let's be very clear: I don't like fish. I'm always a sport to try it when my husband orders it, but rarely do i taste something that I like enough to order myself. That is, until my son ordered the fish sticks here and I was trying to convince him that he was full so I could have the rest. You're right on the beach here, so the first score is that you're eating fresh fish. Their fish sticks are hand-battered north Atlantic cod pieces as big as a Twinkie. I wish I would have taken photos, but I didn't expect it to be this good. You can find plenty on Yelp, though.  I ordered a margarita chicken dish that was good, but not nearly as memorable as the fish or the side I ordered - zucchini fries. I don't mean the bullshit ones you bake up at home as a healthy side to your grilled chicken. I mean julienne-cut, perfectly seasoned, batter fried goodness. I've thought about them weekly ever since. Mr. FvF also raved about his Old Bay broiled grouper and cajun shrimp. Oh, and he insists that I mention that they have Cheerwine on tap. That pushes them to a full 5/5. Also, while none of us are lobster eaters, the lobsters served here appears to be roughly the size of a cat.

The Basics - Wilmington, NC
Half a smoked chicken with a hoppin' john. That's all I'm sayin'. I mean, I'll say some more, but just gaze upon it for a minute.

 The Bird is the word, y'all. 
Yeah - you like that, don't you? This was one of the best chickens I've ever had, only to be outdone by Dayton's own Nelly's. It shared a lot of the same great characteristics, though - well-seasoned both under and atop its crispy skin, juicy without being greasy, and good enough that you'll embarrass yourself by picking every last piece of edible chicken from the bone using any means possible. The slaw was different, and I can't quite place the flavors. Definitely creamy, but seems like there had to be some sort of mustard in the base. The hoppin' john was easily the best I've had. Sassy, but not so much that it would keep a spicy sissy like me from finishing it. they had a decent craft beer list and a great kids menu. We were actually hesitant to eat there with the little because their website didn't show a kids menu, but we heard so many great things about it that we risked it. They were very accommodating and Lil FvF flirted so hard with our server that she blushed. Mr. FvF ordered the shrimp and grits, but didn't quite finish it since it had a small heap of onions (new readers: the dude haaaaaaaates onions) nestled between the grits and shrimp, but he did enjoy the part he did eat.  Great services, reasonably priced and amazing Southern food. Would nom again. 5/5

Monday, August 3, 2015

Chappy's Brunch - Dayton, Ohio

It's difficult for me to get out to new restaurants because of our family's schedule, but a weekend brunch is a pretty easy one to pull off. The only thing better than brunch is a boozy one, so I was stoked when I heard Chappy's was starting weekend brunches. Craft beers would be a great change from the usual mimosas that accompany that not-quite-breakfast meal.

My sister, my Dear Prudence and I embarked upon Chappy's that day with big hongries (and some thirsties for cold ones). I'd been daydreaming about the praline bacon, and the order is around half a pound (it's actually considered an entree). It was a bit difficult to find something on the smaller side to go along with that as the menu is limited, so I opted for a biscuit & gravy. Both the other gals went for chicken and waffles, one with regular syrup and one with spicy syrup. All of the food was amazing - but for a sissy like me, the gravy was too damn spicy. I've never seen red pepper used in gravy before, and I grew up eating biscuit & gravy every weekend in two different households (my own and my grandma's), as well as occasionally at friends' homes, but never encountered it. It was just too much. The biscuits were great and the gravy had a good texture, but it was inedible for me. Also,  it's nearly impossible to take an appetizing photo of sausage gravy - so I won't subject you to it. Just trust that it's as big as advertised.

I sampled the chicken and waffles from the other side of the table and they were outstanding! I'd heard Chappy's had great fried chicken, but I'm always tempted by the siren song of the beer-batter fried chicken. The tales proved to be true, though, and they know how to make a mean Belgian waffle as well, with plenty of deep pockets for sizzurp. 

The praline bacon was a great balance of sweet and salty, and a level of doneness that would appeal to anyone - not chewy like bubblegum, not super crispy (probably due to the saturation of the sugars).

Just perfect. It was big enough that someone with a small appetite could easily get away with ordering just that and an egg or two.

Our waitress was top notch (never had bad service there) and she knew all about their beer choices, even recommending a few beers that taste great when mixed half & half together. So many brunch options are popping up around Dayton, but I'd definitely do another brunch here just to order my own chicken and waffles. And if you're a fan of spicy, their Big A** Biscuit and Gravy is right up your alley.

4.5 out of 5 sporks!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tom + Chee - Cincy/Sharonville

I'd been dying to try Tom + Chee because it's something Dayton doesn't have. Remember in the early 2000s when Time Warner kept showing Sonic ads to the Miami Valley and the closest one was 30 miles away in Middletown, and we all went apeshit when they opened six of them at once? Then we were all, "Oh, that's it?" Similar experience at Tom + Chee. I'm not saying it's as bad as the experiences I've had at Sonic, but at least Sonic has their "system" down. Let me explain.

I managed to drag Mr. FvF to a mid-century furniture show in Sharonville. Normally, we'd hit up Izzy's when in that part of town. Alas, Izzy's is closed on Sundays, co-conspiring with Chick-fil-a to ruin my Sabbath and not give me the foods that I want. We were both newbs to the dine-in experience, even though he'd had one of their sandwiches at a con a few months prior.

Yeah girl, you like that sucky photograph? There's more where that came from.

Contrary to popular belief, I actually hate shit-talking any eating establishment (especially local or regional) unless they've somehow personally wronged me (this is why I'll never eat at Disalvo's) or I know them to be unclean. My first experience with T+C was way below par. It's an order at the counter joint, and they bring you your food - similar to a deli. The line was to the door and the place was already at capacity, so I couldn't help but wonder where the hell all these people will go, and hoping some orders are to-go.

We picked up our drink cups and waited behind four people at the soda fountain, then started circling like vultures to catch a visual or verbal cue from a family or couple about to vacate a table. We finally caught one and wiped down the sticky table ourselves, and our food arrived about 5-10 minutes later. I got the Flying Pig - roasted turkey, bacon, smoked gouda on white (grilled), along with a dipper of the creamy tomato basil. If you're wondering what the hell a dipper is, it's basically a shot of soup just for dunking your sandwich. My sandwich was pretty good, but just not mind-blowing. I'll admit, my taste buds may have been predisposed to harsh judgement because of the Thunderdome experience of vying for a table. The soup was not something I'd get again. I didn't exactly find it creamy, and it was way too sweet.

Given the right circumstances, I'd try it again but I certainly wouldn't wait in a long line or arm wrestle for a table. The cost was pretty reasonable, though. Two sandwiches, two soups (one big, one small) and two beverages came to just over $20. As much as fast food prices have risen, you'd pretty easily pay that for two combos at most places - and I would pick Tom + Chee over most of that crap any day.