Hostess Is Back: Taste-Testing the New Twinkies and CupCakes

Categories: Palmer, Taste Test

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Tamara Palmer
Twinkies: Call it a comeback.
After Hostess Brands went into liquidation at the end of 2012, we despaired that we'd never again know the taste of Twinkies. But now that the rights have been purchased by private equity companies, the treats are starting to return (here's the full list of what's coming back). We bumrushed some Twinkies and Chocolate CupCakes at our local Walgreens as a public service to you to let you know if they've retained their junky tastiness.

See also: Hostess: Remembering Forgotten Products and How to Cope With The Loss in the Bay Area
Chocolate-Espresso Twinkie, a Hostess Mashup from Bette's Oceanview Diner

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Taste Testing Chipotle's New Hodo Soy Tofu Burrito

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Mary Ladd
Chef Tyson Cole of Austin's Uchi & Uchiko makes a good point naming Chipotle as one of the most important restaurants in the country in Bon Appétit. "Why? Their utilization of sustainably sourced goods, food made fresh daily, and, with thousands of locations, their overall reach," he's quoted as saying.

Though some may quibble with the authenticity of their pan-Latin menu, Chipotle has a loyal following and is crowded whenever I visit. "Serious" food lovers may never give the fast-casual chain a chance, but I have; when ordering food for groups downtown, their online ordering system is a snap, and the food has a "something-for-everyone" vibe that makes it reliable if not overly exciting.

This month in the Bay Area, Chipotle is testing a sofritas Hodo Soy tofu-based menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls and salads that is vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. We gave it a try to see how it stacked up.

See also: Soon You'll Be Able to Get Tofu Burritos at Chipotle
Hodo Soy Beanery's 5-Spice Nuggets Transcend Tofu Concerns
Get New Respect for Tofu at Hodo Soy Beanery's Monthly Tours

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Taste-Testing Campbell's New Hipster Soups

Categories: Taste Test

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A few months ago I smirked my way through an article about Campbell's Soup's quest to remake themselves for the Millennial generation, which has tragically stopped buying canned soup. The company's new CEO commissioned a research group earlier this year to travel to cities like San Francisco, Austin, and Portland to learn what the kids were eating these days. Their research yielded the fact that the kids like "bold, adventurous flavors," and thus the bold, adventurous Campbell's Go soups in handy microwavable pouches were born (because, per Monday's Ad Age article on American eating habits, Millennials are also too lazy to make anything as complicated as a bowl of cereal).

See also:
- New Video from Producers of Rebecca Black's "Friday" Features the Saddest Thanksgiving Ever
- Marshmallow, PB&J, Bacon: The Extreme Vodka Taste Test
- Annals of Sad Press Releases: The Jellinator


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Bay Area Lamb Baaa-tle Crowns Chef Vernon Morales

Categories: Taste Test

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Camila McHugh

Last weekend, San Francisco's most devoted lamb lovers came together for the American Lamb Association's third annual Lamb Jam. Dozens of local chefs presented a variety of lamb preparations in order to win a chance to represent San Francisco and compete to become the national Lamb Jam champion.

The judges crowned Chef Vernon Morales of Town Hall / Salt House as Best in Show for his epic fig leaf-wrapped grilled lamb loin with tomato fig marmalade, sheep's milk yogurt, and chickpea polenta. Morales' loin was a clear standout in all categories, as his creativity and delicate presentation came at no sacrifice of lamb flavor. The meat was just rare enough, and judges noted that it had none of the gaminess that makes many Americans averse to it. Though the dot of sheep's milk yogurt seemed more of an aesthetic accent, the slightly sweet tomato fig marmalade and an eggplant purée were successful twists on a traditional lamb and jelly pairing.

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All Good Pizza Offers Healthier Options To Bayview

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Erika Maldonado
Open for business from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday through Friday
With "a little bit of Iowa, a little bit of Lousiana and a whole lot of Bayview," Kristin Houk and Matt Trahan's latest mobile food spot, All Good Pizza is bringing healthy food options to the neighborhood.

Pizza, paninis and salads are made with organic produce, herbs grown on the lot and hot links from San Francisco's Evergood Sausage Company. Houk, originally from Iowa, and Trahan, from Lousiana, live two blocks away from the mobile food facility and wanted to provide healthier food options for their neighborhood.

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Village Harvest Frozen Grains Are Quick, Healthy, and Don't Taste Like Ammonia

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Tamara Palmer
Wild mushroom ragout with bacon and Village Harvest's farro and red rice blend.
We admit to a measure of skepticism of S.F.-based grain company Village Harvest's  new two-serving packs of frozen grains. Frozen, microwaveable rice is usually awful, and not just because it makes us feel really, really lazy.

Village Harvest, however, is marketing frozen whole grains beyond just brown rice, including quinoa and farro, and the company promises that its freezing process avoids the usual flavor-killing shortcuts. Village Harvest croyogenically suspends each individual grain at -300°F, instead of in a block at -40°F with the uses of gases such as ammonia. (Ew, ammonia!)

Turns out that Village Harvest is known for helping to mainstream grains such as basmati and jasmine rice, and is a subsidiary of Otis McAllister, a food import business that has introduced grains in general to a wider American audience since the late 19th century. So at least there was a good résumé there.

Still, when we held a sample box, we gave it a bit of a side-eye even though it came packed in awesomely foggy dry ice. Would this be something we'd actually buy with any regularity?


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