Tag Archives: Supermarket Finds


For those of you who do not live in or near a city with a high concentration of people with Japanese ancestry, the above picture may be a little unfamiliar. So let me make an introduction.

This is daifuku. A rice cake if you will. The outside pastry is a very chewy rice dough (some would call it glutonous), the filling is called anko, a redish bean paste made from azuki beans and sugar. My understanding is that, while available all year round, they become quite popular around the new year celebrations.

I had my first run in with these treats about four years ago, when Derrick, a friend of mine from here in Seattle, took me into a local pastry shop and forced me to have one. As a person weened on cookies and pies, it’s taste and especially it’s texture came as a bit of a shock. But I found myself returning to them every so often when I would visit my local Japanese grocery store. They go quite well with hot tea.

They do have a certain aesthetic about them that draws me to them. As you can see, this one does have the dreaded green food coloring added to the dough, but I’m willing to give this a temporary pass, for the color may have some traditional meaning of which I am unfamiliar.

Supermarket Finds: Wasabi Funyuns

Let me state for the record that I love Funyuns.

Oh, not for their taste. Because in relation to other snacks they rate somewhere between Frito’s and Beggin’ Strips.

No, I love Funyuns because they are the best example of American processed and marketed food that I could find in the grocery store. Here’s a snack that works so hard to be seen as onion rings. They’re shaped like onion rings. They’re given onion flavoring. Hell, even their name rhymes with “onions” – a portmanteau of “fun” and “onion” (Itself a clear sign that the copywriter who came up with the name doesn’t know the real meaning of “fun”).

And yet the Funyun is very much a corn product. five out of the first six ingredients are corn based (Corn meal, corn oil, maltodextrin, corn starch, corn flour). Part of me wonders if Frito-Lay is ashamed of Funyun’s corn heritage. Would sales be that adversely affected if they decided to call them onion flavored corn rings?

This particular bag of Funyuns is a nice twofer in the Supermarket Finds category, as these have been given a “Wasabi” flavor. Here’s a quick fact about Wasabi – even if you’ve been to a Sushi restaurant here in the States, you’ve probably haven’t had a taste of the stuff. That green stuff you find next to the pickled ginger and soy sauce most likely contains no true wasabi at all. Most are simply a powdered imitation made from horseradish, mustard seed, and green food coloring.

Which means that the artificial onion rings have been given an artificial flavor based off an artificial taste that most people have never had. Wasabi Funyuns are the perfect Post Modern treat!

Supermarket Finds: Coconut Soda (Coco Rico)

One of my favorite supermarkets to frequent is Uwajimaya, a specialty supermarket that specializes in imported food from various regions of Asia. This is the type of market where I am just as likely to find dried shrimp eggs as a can of Campbells soup. It’s there I can find all manner of products unfamiliar and untried.

It’s there that I picked up this can of Coco Rico, a Puerto Rican coconut soda. It’s your typical soda made with cane and corn sugar as well as coconut extract. Never one to be fearful of the unknown, I picked up the can and brought it home.

Aroma: I could easily smell the sweetness of the drink. So much so, that it overwhelmed the subtle aroma of the coconut.

Taste: A very sweetened club soda, with the taste of coconut milk. The end result of this is that if one likes the taste of coconut milk (an admittedly acquired taste), then there is a chance of liking this soda. If one does not like the taste of coconut milk, then the chances of liking this soda are slim.

Having grown up on the overly sweetened yet subtlety savory colas and Dr. Peppers, I find this soda lacking. In my opinion, it’s an unremarkable soda. In looking over the internet, I find that some like this soda, while others feel that this soda is not what it used to be.

Despite my disappointment in this soda, I am not jaded. I am looking forward to my next trip to Uwajimaya and the unknown bounty that awaits.

Technorati Tags: Coconut Soda, Food Review

Found in the Supermarket: Yogurt Soda

Yes. Yogurt Soda. Carbonated yogurt. The fact that it was even in the house had Tara screaming. This, from the same woman who gave me permission to purchase and bring home a durian fruit.

I didn’t want to make any judgement upon this product until I had a taste. So let me say the following:

A taste is all you’ll need to draw an opinion.

And keep the following in mind as well:

There is a very good reason why the phrase “let’s grab a bottle of yogurt soda” has never really taken off.

Technorati Tags: Drink, Yogurt+Soda

Sweetriot Chocolate covered cacoa nibs

It was a dark and rainy afternoon. I was working on a case, and the my energy levels were lower than the numbers on the Chilean stock market. Things were looking bad. Real bad.

That’s when they came into my life, looking like bowl of potpourri in a Martha Stewart demonstration. They were looked like they belonged. They called themselves Nibs – Chocolate covered Nibs. From a company called Sweetriot they said.

They were crunchy, they were sweet and they were decadent. They were decadent in the same way that key that Paris Hilton is overexposed. To put it bluntly, they were just what I needed.

I looked at their container, covered with art. I shook the container and smiled at the “CLACKITY-CLACK”. I opened the container and the chocolate nibs jumped into my hand. I had one, then another and then three dozen more. They were good. Real good. They were good in ways that would make grown men and Kraft executives cry.

And simple as well. They’re cocao nibs covered with chocolate. I was given options as well…50% dark chocolate, 65% dark chocolate and 70% dark chocolate. Sweet, sweet chocolate.

They were just what I needed at the time I needed them. I raised the package in a sign of respect to Sweetriot. They made my day.

tags technorati : Chocolate Product Reviews Sweetriot

Tasting Notes: Cherimoya

Another week, another new fruit discovered in the aisles of our QFC. It’s very odd walking through this less than average supermarket, and then discover the one thing they do right: find odd and unique fruits. Color me impressed.

Also color me befuddled when I came across the this green-scaled fruit. My initial impression is that it looked like the heart of a dragon. Then reality set in, and I thought “No no. That’d be silly. A dragon’s heart would look like a muscle. Then reality really set in when I remembered that dragons don’t actually exist. Such are the conversations that go on in my head.

The cherimoya is believed to be native to the valleys of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. From their it followed the path of the avocado and ended up in Mexico, followed by California in 1871, when Mexican seeds were transported and planted in the new state.

Eyes: Like I said, the fruit looks a tad peculiar, sort of a cross between an artichoke and a dragon’s heart, if dragons were to exist. For the record, there are three types of skin for at Cherimoya, and the one purchased had a skin entitled “Impressa” (smooth or slightly indented).

Nose: It was a clean smell, slightly tropical. The sign at the grocery store to expect a “Tutti-Frutti” aroma, but I had no idea what that meant. I determined the aroma to be a cross between that of a banana and a pineapple. But only slightly. The aroma was very subtle.

Taste: The taste was amazing. I would eat one of these again in a heartbeat. The flesh of the fruit has the consistency of a banana, but the taste is custardy, with hints of banana, grapes and pineapple. It was quite good.

Overall: Good gracious did I enjoy this fruit. It’s probably my favorite out of all of the exotic fruits I’ve recently tried. I do recall it being fairly pricey, but not so much that I had to think twice from buying one. I definitely recommend them.

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Fruits, Cherimoya

Supermarket Finds: Durian Flavored Wafer Cookies

Durian Wafer CookieI considered talking about this product through the use of the “tasting Notes” category that I had created, but honestly, I picked this package of cookies up on a whim while in Uwajimaya, a local grocery store here in the Pacific Northwest with a East Asian focus.

I thoroughly enjoy walking through the aisles of Uwajimaya, particularly through the candy and cookie sections, but it allows me a small peek into some of the food product of Japan or Korea. A durian flavored wafer cookie is something that seemed to me an amalgam of an American Product (the wafer cookie) mixed with an uniquely Asian flavor (the Durian).

For those of you going “What the hells a ‘Durian’?”, in it’s simplest definition, it is a fruit grown in Thailand and South Vietnam and other areas in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia. However, the durian is noted because it’s scent has, shall we say, a bit of a kick to it.

Or, as Richard Sterling, said in The Travelling Curmudgeon, says: “… its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.”

The fruit is also referred to as “Stinkfruit” for the reasons that Mr. Sterling so eloquently described.

Which is why it was so surprising to see the fruit flavor mixed with a cookie…a style of cookie, I should add, that I rather enjoy.

Without going into to much detail, let me say that the cookies did indeed smell as if a pack of rodents, who have subsisted on nothing but a diet of cabbage and fava beans, had passed wind repeatedly upon the cookies. For people who are looking for a hint of cocoa, or even a bit of tropical fruit aroma, this comes as a bit of a shock.

I ate one cookie, and only one. I then threw the rest of the pack away immediately. Not because the flavor was horrible. Rather, the cookies were because they were excessively dry. Oh well.

Technorati Tags: Food, Food and Drink, Cookies, Durian