Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: KHAYA Cookies 5 Flavors

Hey Foodies, It’s review time again! Today we are sitting down with some little cookies sent to us by the KHAYA Cookie Company. KHAYA cookies are made in South Africa and distributed in Philadelphia, PA. They have a business model based on giving back to the communities where they reside and help support those who contribute.

The KHAYA Cookie Company is currently holding a contest for their consumers where the grand prize is a trip to South Africa. Follow the link for all the details! Quest For Cape Town...

We have five flavors of KHAYA cookies to sample today, so we poured a big cup of coffee, and here we go!

The cookies fall into two categories; Krunchi and Shortbread. I’ll start with the Krunchi:

Orange & Chocolate Krunchi – this cookie is similar to a bite sized granola bar, only with much more intense flavors of orange zest and Belgian Chocolate. These would be very enjoyable as part of any breakfast or snack. It is not only delicious it boasts the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids in the flaxseed and essential fiber and nutrients in oats and sunflower seeds. A total of 13.5g of heart healthy Omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids per box.

Granola Fruit Krunchi – are really loaded with fruit and a little softer than the Orange & Chocolate Krunchi. Another healthy treat, these tasty nuggets would be perfect alongside your yogurt or as an energy boost on a bike ride or walk. This no guilt snack is loaded with dates and apricots and 14 essential vitamins and minerals. You also get 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving. Perfect!

Orange Rooibos Shortbread – Imagine a buttery, crisp and crumbly shortbread cookie, now add the intense aroma and taste of citrus peel, paired with the antioxidant and health benefits of Rooibos you have a remarkable and healthy cookie for anytime snacking! We like it paired with a cup of delicate white tea, or with a glass of fine dessert wine.

Cranberry Rooibos Shortbread – A bite sized morsel that seems even more rich and buttery than the last ones. The tart bits of cranberry are just perfect for cutting through the richness and teasing your pallet. Again with the antioxidant and health benefits of Rooibos you have a remarkable and healthy cookie for anytime snacking! This cookie was a perfect accompaniment to my cup of dark roasted coffee.

Grapeseed Shortbread - This shortbread is made with grapeseed—known for their incredible nutritional properties including a potent dose of Vitamin C and antioxidants. This shortbread has pure grapeseed and tangy, tiny currents. We found it has a delectable depth of flavor—not too sweet and just buttery enough. The currents add another level of chewy texture and sweetness making this shortbread one of our favorites!

Delectable Khaya cookies are created with care to give you the kind of pleasure that only handcrafted, naturally wholesome treats can deliver. Khaya (Kī-ya) is the Xhosa word for home.

Khaya Cookie Commitments
#1 We use only the freshest, finest, all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. All of our cookies are carefully crafted, by hand and with pride.

#2 We are committed to empowering people so that they can earn a living-with solid business and life skills.

#3 We hire previously unemployed women and men and turn them into highly skilled bakers. All Khaya Cookie Bakers participate in a Skills Training Program that gives them cross-training in every aspect of the business as well as personal budgeting and debt management.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: Miller's Secret Sauce Original Bar-B-Q

Hello Foodies, the Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and what better way to commemorate those that have given so much so that Americans can be free, than by surrounding yourself with friends and family and pay tribute to all of our military; past and present.

You will have to feed all those people, and the best way to feed a large group is barbecue. So here is another awesome review to help you make a choice when you are standing in the BBQ sauce section of your local grocery store. Today’s sampling is Miller’s Secret Sauce; Original flavor.

Initial Impression: Right off the bat I love the color of this sauce, it has a reddish, root beer brown color and it comes in a tall bottle with a narrow label so that you can see the actual sauce in the jar. The labels on both the Original flavor and the Spicy flavor are nostalgic and sexy looking and make me want to put the jar in my shopping cart.

Ingredients: Tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, honey, brown sugar, water, liquid smoke, butter, molasses, chili pepper, spices, garlic, onion, salt, natural flavor, jalapeno, anchovies, tamarind.

The ingredient list is really nice and clean. There are no preservatives or artificial anything. Yes I noticed the High Fructose Corn Syrup and I’m not sure there is anything much worse than a stigma attached to this ingredient; it’s made from corn and corn is natural, right?!

Appearance: This is one rich, thick, and sexy sauce. It is reddish brown sauce and there are sparse but definite pieces of herbs and spices floating around. The consistency of this barbecue sauce lends it to many applications. It was super thick and brushes on and sticks to your meat nicely. It also makes a great dipping sauce since it won’t drip off of whatever you’re ‘queuing.

Aroma: Mouthwatering. Really, it made me drool. I popped the cap and took a whiff. It made my mouth water like crazy. Now that I calmed down I can tell you that this sauce has definite layers of aroma. At first you get a sweet tomatoey perfume, next the vinegar pops you in the nostrils and makes your mouth water. The velvety smokiness comes in for the finish and practically hypnotizes you; I could smell this all day. I wonder if they can make a car freshener in this flavor.

Taste: Sweet, tangy, and smoky with emphasis on sweet. This could be a dessert topping. Tasting it from the jar it has a definite tangy fruity flavor. There are some larger pieces of garlic in it. Like magic they appear in your mouth and add yet another layer of flavor. The garlic is pronounced but well balanced. The smokiness is very slight and more of a background note, any strong flavor will knock out that layer, but I suspect the BBQ will put it back in whatever you are grilling or ‘queuing.

The Food Test: Since we were having some nice weather I decided to fire up the grill and throw some yard stroller on it. Well, not the whole bird just some drumsticks and thigh sections. I gave it a quick rub down with some of Monty’s prototype Spicy Barbecue Rub and fired away. Once the chicken was done I brushed the Miller’s on them. Since there is such a high sugar content I didn’t apply it until the last few minutes. The Miller’s takes well to heat and the caramelization of the sugars rounds out all of the flavors.

Conclusion: Miller’s Secret Sauce Original BBQ Sauce has layers of flavors like molasses, garlic, and smoke. Secret Sauce Original BBQ Sauce has no detectable heat so it would be perfect for those in your family that prefer you don’t singe off their eyebrows. For those of you who prefer a spicier version I would recommend the Miller’s Secret Sauce Spicy BBQ Sauce or even a dry rub with some spice. If you love a sweet, sticky, BBQ sauce that caramelizes nicely and has layers of flavor, Miller’s Secret Sauce is for you!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Review:The Firehouse Bar & Grill N’awlins Eatery, Gilroy, CA

A new restaurant opened in the downtown area of Gilroy. It’s called The Firehouse Bar & Grill N’awlins Eatery. They have occupied the recently failed Happy Dog Pizza Co in the newly remodeled firehouse on Fifth & Monterey Road.

The new occupants have done a decent job spiffying up the place but there seems to be a cold cafeteria feel to it. There are some Mardi Gras masks and beads scattered throughout the dining room but I didn’t get the N’awlins feel when we entered the restaurant.

The service was Ok, although we were the only couple in the place. Drinks were served immediately and a basket of piping hot cornbread and butter was brought to the table, a nice touch, my expectations were raised.

We ordered the “Bucket Brigade” appetizer described as two crab cakes, four chicken wings and a generous portion of calamari $18. Unfortunately, it took a half hour before it arrived at the table. I guess it’s a good thing we weren’t waiting on an actual bucket brigade as the house would have surely burned to the ground before they got there! When the plate finally arrived at the table we were a bit put off by the presentation. On one side there was a giant mound of sprouts with a hole bored in the center, a green onion that had been flared open was standing straight up like some kind of vegetable geyser in suspended animation; a silly attempt at a garnish as it was not pretty nor was it edible. The crab cakes were the size of silver dollars and were loaded up with green and red diced bell pepper; in fact the only element I could taste in the crab cake was bell pepper. The chicken wings were fine with a BBQ style sauce, I didn’t get any N’awlins flavors but they were OK. The calamari was tragic. A calamari steak was sliced into thick strips, dredged in corn meal and deep fried to the consistency of crispy coated rubber bands. It took a lot of the Cajun mayo sauce to make these edible.

Being a huge fan of Cajun/Creole cooking and more specifically Gumbo, I ordered the Chicken Gumbo Soup; “Classic N’awlins soup with okra, Andouille sausage, and chicken” $6 for the bowl. Now I know a bit about Gumbo, I make a fine Gumbo myself, in fact on a trip to New Orleans I attended a class at the Louisiana School of Cooking to learn to make the classic Cajun dishes, Gumbo being one of those. What I was served was NOT Gumbo! It was loaded with carrots and crushed tomatoes and was completely absent of any flavor. It was based on a vegetable broth and seemed completely devoid of any roux. The only thing worse than this Gumbo fraud was the giant pile of overcooked rice dumped in the center.

My dining companion ordered the Bourbon Street Ribeye with Peppercorn Sauce; “10 Oz ribeye with a green peppercorn Bourbon Sauce served with sautéed vegetable and red potato mash” $22. The steak was ordered medium rare and I guess if you averaged out the doneness; raw on one end and well done on the other, that is sort of what she got. The sauce was bland and the steak, beside being under and overcooked at the same time was lacking of any seasoning and tasted of radiant char-broiler fumes, I suppose the veg and mash were Ok, but who could tell anymore?

Against my advice my dining companion ordered dessert; the Crème Brulee $6. It seems the perfect finale to a ridiculous meal. This was actually so bad the server offered to take it off the ticket. The top of the brulee was so thick with caramelized sugar on one side you could barely break through it by hammering the surface with the spoon, the other side had spots with no sugar topping and as a result were actually charred black by the torch. To make matters worse once you jack hammered your way through the caramel crust you were confronted with a tasty, yet runny custard. Anyone got a straw?

As much as I wanted to love this place I am hard pressed to find anything other than the friendly staff that would even bring me back for a second try. The food is not good and the atmosphere is nowhere near N’awlins. If it’s Cajun/Creole food you crave, I’m afraid you won’t find any in Gilroy.

The Firehouse Bar & Grill
N’awlins Eatery
55 5th Street,
Gilroy, CA 95020

Phone: (408) 847-2765
Fax: (408) 847-2619

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Gourmet Cookie With A Conscience.

Our friends at the Khaya Cookie Company have just announce the following in their latest press release:

New York, New York, May 11, 2009
The Khaya Cookie Company™ is a socially-conscious
company that treats its customers to premium, all-natural, preservative-free cookies, while helping South African communities grow and thrive. As Khaya treats you to the unique flavors of South Africa, it is also providing jobs, education, and life-skills to the women and men whose hard work and dedication make Khaya Cookies so irresistibly great.

Made of all-natural ingredients indigenous to South Africa like rooibos and grapeseed powder, the Khaya Cookie Co.™ uses fresh dates, apricots, rolled oats, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds in its all-natural recipes. Khaya blends health, great-taste, and a feeling of home into a unique bite size cookie.

Khaya Cookies, shortbreads, and granolas may be small enough to eat with one bite but it is their cause that is as rich as their taste.

The more boxes of Khaya Cookies sold, the greater number of jobs created in their South African production facility as well as their distribution center in Philadelphia, PA. Khaya means “home” in Xhosa - one of the official languages of South Africa. For founder Alicia Polak, a former NYC investment banker turned social entrepreneur, South Africa is where she found her home.

A Dream Turns to Reality

Alicia was a NYC investment banker, and working on Wall Street who had aspirations of aiding those in need. Choosing to live out her dream of helping others, she changed the course of her life. She began consulting for the Freeplay Foundation, a non-profit organization in South Africa that produced and distributed wind-up radios that provided on-air education and helped those in times of disaster. She fell in love with South Africa, where she first visited years ago and found herself wanting to do more.

Taken aback by the country’s beauty and culture, Alicia began her quest to make her new home and community flourish.

The Quest for Cape Town

The Khaya Cookie Company™ believes in connecting good intentions with real-life action. And it is little surprise that the more cookies we sell, the more jobs we can create. We want you to be a part of our journey to Cape Town and embark on Khaya’s quest to contributing to a more socially conscious world.

With a minimum purchase of three boxes of Khaya Cookies, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win an all expenses paid trip for two to Cape Town in March 2010. Beginning May 15, 2009, we’re offering discounts on every box of Khaya Cookies. You can have your choice of our delectable shortbreads or granolas purchased over a 60-day period.

So, you get to enjoy delicious Khaya Cookies, granolas, and shortbreads, help create jobs, and feel accomplished in following-through on that good deed you’ve been “meaning to do.” Something so small can go towards something so big.

And there’s more to be earned as well. For every additional (3) boxes you buy, you’ll increase your chances of winning this rare, once-in-a lifetime trip. We should also mention that additional gifts like the Amazon Kindle™ (fully loaded with South African literature, culinary books and wine magazines), 5 quart Kitchen Aid Mixer ®, a Handpresso® (this is really cool!) and complimentary boxes of Khaya Cookies will also be up for grabs!

Anytime you share a friend or anyone that you think is a generally pretty cool person’s email address with us– we’ll give you another entry into the contest (of course, only valid emails count).

Enter beginning May 15th at, get your “Quest” code and start sharing about The Quest for Cape Town – on Facebook©, Twitter©, your roommate’s girlfriend’s blog – all a step closer to a South African dream.

Buy some cookies and have a chance to experience the sights, smells, and sensations of South Africa. You’ll be saving the world a little too.

Khaya Cookies: Great Taste, an Even Greater Cause

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Nurse, Get the Glaze STAT!

It was like most other Sunday afternoons around here. We were heading home from the Farmer’s Market; downtown Campbell, when the eerie site entered my peripheral vision. It was a new sign, a simple shop sign. It was not very large, and not outrageously colored, but it did grab my attention. All I could think about was “What in God’s name would make a donut Psycho?” A quick U-turn into the parking lot would begin the journey to find out what makes donuts psycho!

According to their website they have taken donuts to the next demented level. They bid a fond farewell to the tired, round ring of lameness, and the drab, time-weathered environment of donut past. Psycho Donuts has taken the neighborhood donut and put it on medication, and given it shock treatment.

Psycho Donuts are very unique and, well, crazy. They are committed to not only be the craziest/fun donut experience you’ll ever have, but one of the most unique places in the South Bay. This is apparent from the minute you step in the front door where you find yourself face to face with a rubber room. I understand if you are lucky enough to find yourself there at the right time you can be strapped into the rubber room and fed donuts by one of the lovely nurses on staff. The walls are covered with an abundance of quirky local art and sculpture, and psychotic memorabilia, and the counter is filled with donut flavors that could only be described as eclectic.

The S’more is one of the signature donuts in this asylum of sweets. While a s’more does not seem that crazy it gets a bit wacky when you translate it to donut. First you take the fluffiest yeast raised donut you can imagine, these are fluffier! Add a glaze of chocolate icing and top it with gooey marshmallow. Then shards of smashed graham crackers are added and the whole thing is drizzled with more chocolate. I can hear the campfire crackling, can you?

Who can resist a MHT (massive head trauma)? The Psycho Donuts answer to the boring old jelly filled. Another incredibly soft and fluffy yeast raised donut is topped with vanilla icing and a face is drawn on it with chocolate. The center is then filled with berry jelly and the donut guy’s skull is then caved in with a crowbar (kidding), exposing the delicious cerebral jelly!

We tried several other donuts that day, for research purposes only of course, and every one of them was incredible! Some were round, some were square, and some even triangular. No matter what the shape or whether they were stuffed with banana custard and iced with chocolate and topped with dried banana chips, or glazed and filled with juicy chunks of apricot, these are without a doubt some of the best donuts I have ever tasted. Having been a donut baker in the past I feel confident in making that statement.

If you want to experience great donuts and an uber fun atmosphere we definitely recommend Psycho Donuts in Campbell, CA.

Psycho Donuts
2006 Winchester Blvd
Campbell, CA 95008