Thursday, August 23, 2007

Boardwalk Food - A Summer Must

For someone who just LOVES food that is deemed unhealthy for you by today's standards, then the NJ Shore boardwalk is the veritable 'Streets Paved In Gold' gastric dream-stroll. My summer is never considered complete without a trip to the Jersey Shore - miles of sandy beaches, over 70 degree water, and the various boardwalks with arcades, food, games, and the trendiest trends that you can adhere to a t-shirt. My personal favorite things are:
(a) the claw machine (now in epic proportions
(b) shoot the clown in the mouth (I don't like clowns, and I like to win),
(c) eat a slice of Sawmill Pizza from Seaside (the slice is about 12" x 18"),
(d) get a Kohr's orange-vanilla twist cone (photo right).

For those of you who haven't experienced this east coast phenomenon, it's a good time AND real slice of life. You can also get pretty much anything to eat. Lots of kids learn the hard way about "games" and "chance", I had lost a lot of money and youthful innocence before I figured out the score. One trick - always look at the prizes first so you don't spend $10 trying to win a large comb.

I've included a photo here of one food stand that I thought might be a good representation of the excess of fried options, like Fried Twinkies, Elvis sandwiches, and Oreos. If you don't know what a Zeppole (ZEP-oli) is, it's like a ball of fried dough with powdered sugar on it. Mmmmm! If I hadn't just eaten at Surf Taco down by B&B Department Store, I would have tried the Elvis Sandwich.

Share YOUR boardwalk stories here... and see you at the Shore!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Frozen Coffee Drinks

So a couple of weeks ago, driving home from a wedding in Boothbay Harbor, ME, I made what seemed like an innocent stop at a gas station. I grabbed a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino from the refrigerator -- a decision which would alter my mornings for the foreseeable future. Frozen Coffee Drinks are the crack of the coffee family.

... and so began my quest to explore these highly addictive drinks...

Tuesday, August 7th, Au Bon Pain - Mocha Blast
Rating: B-
While definitely not known for its coffee, Au Bon Pain had the advantage of being located on the first floor of the building my office is in.

In terms of taste, the Mocha Blast was decent, but provided weak coffee flavor. The Mocha Blast shined when it came to texture. The drink was was blended perfectly, not too smooth, not too slushy.

Wednesday, August 8th, Dunkin Donuts - Coffee Coolatta
Rating: B
Anyone who lives in the Boston area knows about Dunkin Donuts. A quick search using the Store Finder on yields 4 locations within 2 miles of my home and a whopping 24 locations within 2 miles of my office.

While the coffee flavor of the Coolatta was tasty, it was weak. The texture was good, but by the time I got to the bottom, there was no trace of coffee -- only slush.

Thursday, August 9th, Starbucks - Mocha Frappuccino
Rating: A-
Starbucks is one of those places you hate to love. It's an icon for a manufactured experience at a chain store. Starbucks is to coffee what the Black Eyed Peas is to Hip Hop. You don't want to like them, but you just can't help it.

The Frappuccino's coffee flavor was great -- the best of all the frozen coffee drinks. Additionally, they used real whipped cream (yes, I got them with whipped cream). The only problem with the Frappuccino was the texture. It was blended too thin. One of the cornerstones of a good frozen drink is the slight icy texture of the drink -- the same thing that makes a slush puppy so great.

Friday, August 10th, Peet's Coffee - Mocha Freddo

Rating: A
Peet's Coffee, primarily located in California, has a few stores in the Boston area.

Like the Frappuccino, the Freddo had great coffee flavor. Additionally, for a little more, they'll up sell you to the higher quality Scharffen Berger chocolate flavor for your mocha. While I'm generally sensitive to being upsold, I can say that this appeared to be a worthwhile investment -- the chocolate flavor was delicious. While Peet's appears to use the same blenders as Starbucks, they solved the over-blending problem by adding a few coffee beans to the Freddo to give it texture.