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SnapDragon Apple

The SnapDragon apple is a solid apple. Meaning, it takes some effort to bite into it and snap (pun intended) a chunk off of it. And it is worth it. The flesh is juicy and crispy. The taste is like that of a Fuji. As in, that tropical fruity flavor that is very sweet but as a slightly tart edge lurking on the sides.

The easiest way to describe the SnapDragon apple is that it is the evolution of the Fuji apple. It has a tropical sweetness that punches more and better texture and body than the Fuji. If I could get either consistently, I'd go for the SnapDragon. It fulfills the same purpose as the Fuji but performs better. And it's delicious, though I hope that was implied.

So yes, I recommend it. If you can find the SnapDragon apple, try it and savor it!
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Carnival Squash

This is a little bit different from my normal reviews. This time, I’m reviewing the Carnival Squash that I didn’t try alone and instead used primarily as a large ingredient in a recipe.

The Carnival Squash is basically a colorful Acorn Squash with some sweeter notes. The colorful aspect makes it a frequent sight at grocery stores during the fall seasons as people want to use them as decorative set pieces or for use in cooking some festive meal. I used it for the latter, specifically, as the ‘shell’ to stuff something into. I had never tried Carnival Squash until I used it for my stuffed-squash Thanksgiving entree. But everything I read about it said it performed the same as acorn squash, which I do have experience in. So I didn’t have any concern using it. My expectations were simple and the results were phenomenal.

The stuffing I used was primarily quinoa (already made the day before). It had some mushrooms, celery, and caramelized onions mixed in—along with seasoning, of course, in the form oregano and other basics.

The squash itself was kind of a pain to hollow out, with the seeds and all, but that’s par for the course. I mean, if they had seedless squash, that’d be kind of cool, but on the other hand, where would we be as a society? I don’t know.

In the end, I stuffed them. Before stuffing, however, I par-cooked the shells for about half an hour (at 350ºF). And then I shoved them into the oven for over an hour and they came out brilliantly!

Since I cooked it to death, the squash skin was of the correct texture to be properly edible with no problem. It actually had a sort of nutty-savory flavor to it that outshined the rest of the flesh. I topped the stuffing and the squash with some cran-apple chutney and the flavors worked so well together. My biggest surprise was the skin, probably. I don’t usually eat squash skin, but the Carnival Squash skin, in addition to being pretty, was scrumptious. A very practical bonus.

So, if you’re looking for a good looking squash for a special meal, the Carnival Squash is an excellent choice. Put it in the middle of the table for decoration or on a plate to eat, it works.
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L’Amuse Brabander

The L’Amuse Brabander is a goat cheese from Holland. It is made by the same people who did the L’Amuse Signature Gouda which I reviewed over a year ago. The name sounded familiar to me when I picked it up—I almost thought I had reviewed it. I did not—if I had, I would certainly not have forgotten it.

It’s not a cheese one can simply forget easily.

It looks like it’d be a simple creamy goat gouda-like cheese. It’s a solid brick of white. And it is creamy and buttery. But that just is the garnish so to speak. The taste comes in a wave that is dotted with little bursts of salt. It’s like a salty wave that courses over your tongue and brings a nice all-around savory-sweet note with it. The creaminess subsides when this rush of salt hits, but it’s still there curbing it so it isn’t overpowering. Usually, when a cheese has salt crystals, you can kind of see it in the body of the cheese. Not so with the L’Amuse Brabander. It is as if the salt crystals were tiny and embedded into the body. It’s a complete surprise when you try it.

As for pairings with this complex cheese, I would suggest eating it alone. This is to get the full experience of its flavor. But grapes seemed to work well it. As it’s on the saltier side, anything sweet is going to work well. I didn’t try it with any jam, but I’d imagine it would be quite tasty together, though a careful thing to balance.

I give a full recommendation for this cheese. It’s complex, nuanced, and tasty. What else do you want?
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Beyond Meat Veggie Burgers

My actual post has a bunch of pictures through the cooking process and more words about it, so I'll keep this short and sweet:

These burgers are almost like actual burgers. Well. More like turkey burgers, but way more greasy.

The grease factor kills the experience. It's not appetizing at all. It's like they took the worst parts of meat, copied it too well, and shoved it into a package. It doesn't taste good, it has great meat texture, but the grease....I couldn't finish half a burger it was so bad.

I can't recommend it. Black bean burgers continue to rule the veggie burger world for me.
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Kerrygold Skellig Sweet Cheddar

The Kerrygold Skellig Sweet Cheddar declares itself to be three things. One and Two: It is 100% natural cheese that is imported from Ireland. I'm not going to argue with either of those things. The third contentious point is that it is a Sweet Cheddar. Sweet, as in...sweet.

I disagree.

The first bite I had of the Skellig was not of some sweet cheddar but of a massive salt hit. Now, this isn't bad. Nope, it was quite tasty. Salty goodness that transitioned into a smooth buttery flavor that made me want to have it with my favorite fig jam. Which I did have with it eventually—and the salt plus the sweetness of the jam paired excellently. Sweet and salty are a famous duo that this cheese can be the latter of. Not, as the name suggests, the former.

It doesn't really matter that it calls itself a sweet cheddar when it tends to be more salty, because it's delicious regardless. I understand that Kerrygold's other product, its butter, is very good. I'm not much of a butter person so its effect was lost upon me. The effect of this Skellig cheese, however, is not. I understand very well the salty buttery appeal now through this sweet cheddar. Recommended.
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The Seaside Cheddar Cheese is not just any cheese, it’s a rugged, mature Cheddar Cheese made in England. When I deconstruct the adjectives at use, I really have no idea what it all means in context of the cheese.

What I do know is what I taste.

What I taste is not a sharp cheddar like cheddar seems to tend to always be, but something smooth, where the sharp edge is tucked away under a more earthy flavor profile. I suppose that’s what makes it ‘mature’, as in, less loud and more controlled.

The texture is nothing to write home about. It’s a smoother cheddar’s body. But that’s exactly what it is, so that’s not good or bad. It contributes to the overall essence of this mildly creamy cheddar.

As for pairing, no, this time you won’t hear a mention of some apple or grapes or jam. This time, what I had with this cheese was homemade tomato soup. I dipped a little bit into the soup and, well, suffice it to say that it was good.

The Seaside Rugged Mature English Cheddar is a good cheese. It isn’t a great cheddar, but it’s different and that’s okay. Different in this case is pretty good and works in less conventional ways. I definitely recommend it.
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Prima Pils Mustard and Onion Cheddar Spread.

Cheddar cheese is a staple that has such a powerful, sharp flavor that easily has a case for being mixed with some other ingredients, turned into a creamy mixture, and then eaten on bread, crackers, or with a spoon if you’re into that. This concoction can can range from very cheesy in the other meaning (tacky) to, well, this type of spread—the Prima Pils Mustard and Onion (White) Cheddar Spread. As in, a quality cheddar cheese spread that is punchy and yet subtle at the same time.

I didn’t feel guilty eating it, is what I’m saying. Cheese spread is usually heavy, but this Prima Pils white cheddar spread was not dainty but it wasn’t like eating glop either. It struck a balance with being too powerful and being a waste of calories (i.e, lacking flavor).

The flavor was like eating those mustard crunchy pretzels yet so much smoother. It had the tang of brown mustard, the onions roundness and edge, and cheddars sharpness. All together, it makes a pretty surprising cheese spread that has every right to be heavy and intense but isn’t. I opted to eating on white bread, which it spreads very easily on. Eating this Prima Pils Cheddar Spread was one of the few times I actually enjoyed eating bread with cheese. Usually, I find bread doesn’t add anything, but in this case it did. It helped cut the sharpness and bring out the other notes.

In short summary, I recommend this Prima Pils Cheddar Spread. It is a cheddar cheese spread that doesn’t overwhelm your tastes. It has nuance that is different and delicious.
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Uniekaas Parrano Gouda

This cheese is a bit of a mouthful to say, and a challenge to type consistently. It's also surprising. It is a gouda, according to the sellers, but it tastes like a Swiss Cheese. It has that sharp nutty notes that define a Swiss, and actually when sliced has some holes. But it's a gouda.

It's complicated for me to figure out this cheese because I'm not a Swiss fan but I'm a gouda fan. The flavors are like the strange union between the two. It's Swiss-y on the front and then it turns into a mellow gouda. Strange, but tasty. I liked it with green grapes and just plain.

Surprisingly, I'm going to recommend it even though I probably wouldn't get it again. As I said, I'm not a Swiss fan but this (gouda!) cheese made me reconsider. Not enough to fall completely in love, but enough to enjoy this block of fine cheese.
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Koru Apple

The Koru Apple has a kind of cute logo that has roots in the meaning of its name which is actually a Maori word for a fern uncurling. But the logo is just eye candy when picking out the apple. It gets stripped off and discarded when we actually, you know, eat the fruit.

The apple itself doesn’t live up to the quality of its branding. I tried about five or six Koru Apples and most of them were on the blander side. They were definitely crunchy and juicy, but there wasn’t much sweetness, tartness, or anything to its taste. A few of them packed more of a low-key sweetness, but even then it wasn’t that fantastic. I was kind of disappointed, actually. Maybe if I got another batch, more of them would be okay, but I'm skeptical.

I wish I could recommend the Koru Apple, but I think there’s too much quality variation and even when you get a good one, it isn’t great. It’s not worth it; there are more consistent, better apples out there.

UPDATE: The last Koru I had had a great flavor and punch. It seems that with every apple the quality improved. I'm still skeptical of the Koru Apple because of my initial like four-five dud apples, but the quality does get noticeably better.
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Pazazz Apple

The Pazazz Apple's flavor is as punchy as its name. A single bite into its thin waxy skin lets loose a torrent of sweet juice that flows every corner of your mouth. Its sweet nectar has a flavor profile similar to that of a pineapple. Tropical yet also maybe a little bit of tartness hiding at the end.

Because of this intense amount of juice and liquid within its yellowish flesh, this apple is on a softer side. It is so moist inside—it definitely has a looser grain to its body. Now, this is not a bad thing in the Pazazz Apple’s case. It’s a soft explosion of sweetness with every bite. It’s a good apple, but not the best. There are other apples I’d rather have raw than the Pazazz, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recommend it. I do, as it was tasty.
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