Thursday, July 28, 2011

Yogurt Soda

Some may see the title and instantly think of Jones Soda, the quirky soda company that I vigorously marketed during high school.  It's known for annually producing nasty soda flavors, such as the holiday pack that featured Turkey & Gravy Soda, Mashed Potato Soda, and Green Bean Casserole Soda.  As gross as they were, I think I've found one that's even more nasty and more revolting.  Funny thing is --- this is a real product, not a gimmick.

It's true - Yogurt Soda

Picked up from the Balboa International Market and they seemed pretty well stocked.  So...the bottle said to shake gently since there's real yogurt at the bottom and carbonated whatever on top.  So I did.  And it nearly exploded.  So I put it in the fridge for a while.  Then I opened it.  Then this happened:

You know how milk gets when it spoils?  Yeah...

You know how gross it is when yogurt soda overflows?  Yeah...

This stuff is nasty.  Absolutely nasty.  The smell, the taste, the texture - disgusting.  You know what's weird?  The bottle says to gently shake it...but aren't you not supposed to shake soda?  Yeah, I don't get it either.  But this tastes pretty much what you'd expect carbonated dairy to taste like.  A funny thing is that I actually proposed a "Milk Soda" to Jones Soda once upon a time.  

Soda with floating chunks...that's a new concept

As gross as that was, there was some good stuff, such as these Rugelach Cookies:

Chocolate chip, raspberry, and apple Rugelach cookies

Golbarg Cookies

Sesame Seed Cookie

Not sure the name of this, but it's a nougat-type center covered with pistachios.  Pretty good.

I've also got some pictures sent in from readers.  This first one came in from Paige out of Florida:

Turkey burger with avocado, applewood bacon, and Swiss cheese

This one was sent in from Addie out of Mississippi:

Chocolate tasting is officially recognized as a sport.  The oyster crackers are to cleanse the pallets between samples

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Worst. Marketing Ploy. Ever.

I like beef jerky.  It's a pretty decent snack but it had been a good month or two since I had any...until the other day.  Decided to get some Jack Link's Beef Jerky from my local CVS and the first thing I noticed was the increase in price.  It had been $5.79 and today it was $6.29.  Well, okay.  Food is expensive, I understand that.  What really ticked me off, though, was this:

Bonus Bag: 10% More Free!

The first question that comes to mind is...10% more beef or 10% more bag?  It sure as heck isn't 10% more beef because the price is 50 cents higher than it had been which means Jack Link's, in their noble generosity, is giving me a whopping 10% more of the bag ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!!!

I thought there may have been an explanation or reason for this.  I mean, what kind of knucklehead marketing move is this?  So I went on their website and found the nutritional facts of the original-packaged Teriyaki jerky and compared it to this bag.  While the bag size is bigger, the serving size and servings per container are identical.  Confirmed:  Jack Link's Beef Jerky packaging strategy is to sell you a bigger bag.  That's it.  

But I wasn't done.  I decided to call the company out on it and contacted them.  Basically I summarized my findings here and asked if it is indeed true that they're pushing a bigger bag into consumers' laps instead of a better product.  I got this response:
Thank you for contacting Jack Link's Beef Jerky.  Pricing of Jack Link's Products vary.  While we do suggest a selling price to our retailers, they set their own retail prices.  The ‘Bonus Bag 10% More Free’ does refer to the package being 3.6 OZ rather than the regular 3.25 OZ even though the retailer increased the price.  The nutrition information, in order to be consistent, is calculated using a 1 OZ serving size and the 3.5 servings are approximate.
She then wrote her thanks for contacting, we're sending you some coupons, etc.  Well, okay - let's figure this out here.  Jack Link's makes a bigger bag and in turn raises its suggested retail price.  CVS gets word of this and ups the price 50 cents.  And that's fine - this isn't CVS' problem.  The fact that Jack Link's is resorting to something so deceitful, deceptive, and dumb is appalling.  So I wrote the following response:
Thank you for your response.  I appreciate it but I'm even more curious now.  What's the purpose of pushing this product because it's in a bigger bag?  What's the benefit of "10% More Bag Free"?
To which I received this response:

Thank you for your email.  Our Marketing and Research & Development teams make the decisions regarding package sizes and product promotions. 

Thank you again for your comments. I will share them with the Marketing and Research & Development teams.
I appreciate that the woman wrote me back.  This isn't her problem - it's the "Marketing and Research & Development" team's.  I put that in quotes because this packaging was a terrible move.

The funny thing about this?  This isn't false advertising.  They're saying you get a 10% bigger bag and that's exactly what you get.  Still - deceptive.  Keep in mind that this is the same company that puts out those funny sasquatch commercials.  How that can turn into this is pretty remarkable...remarkable as in bad.

Look, again, I realize food is expensive.  But for once I would like one of these companies to say "Consumers, food is expensive and we need to take measures to maintain our revenue and that may include raising prices and/or producing less.  We hope you understand and promise that when things turn around we will make it worth your while."

So thank you, Jack Link's.  Welcome to the Greg's Gourmet Hall of Shame.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grilled Eel and Egg Salad

This picture was sent in from Josh of Josh in Japan of an unagi donburi which translates to grilled eel over a bowl of rice:

Seafood on Greg's Gourmet?  Yes!  Japanese Gourmet on Greg's Gourmet?  Yes!

While everyone knows of my dislike of seafood I gotta say - this looks interesting.  You don't see grilled eel on a lot of menus, so in a way it's kind of a novelty.  Also, according to Josh, it's really, really good.

Also for your enjoyment is a sandwich from the Mt. Soledad Market & Deli:

Egg salad sandwich

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Pound of Candy

I'll be honest - this was my first purchase from the Sweet Factory.  I've been inside many of them.  I've walked by many of them.  But I've never actually purchased candy from them...until now.

Mmmmm candy

It's easy to go overboard here.  I got a pound of goods without even trying!  And also, this place is ridiculously expensive.  A pound of candy here costs $10!  A bag of candy at a super market that weighs a pound usually goes for $4 or $5.  But the difference is that the candy here is fresh.  For some reason it just tastes better.  

Oh yeah

A gummy shark - 3.5 inches

Also, here's a sandwich I picked up from a Subway in Carlsbad, CA:

Cold Cut Combo

I like Subway for what it is.  It's fast and convenient but nothing really special.  Not to mention this:

Sometimes they're not gentle while constructing the sandwich

Why is the meat on top?  Can someone explain this?  The proper construction of a sandwich is: Bread, meat, vegetables, sauces, bread.  Why they're doing this weird reverse thing is beyond me.  

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SMASH Burgers!

Today I had the privilege of dining with an old friend of Greg's Gourmet: Darryl AKA Shag2theNasty.  Both of us take "all-you-can-eat" as a personal challenge and used to terrorize the dining services at State.  Today we took on a place called Smash Burger, as recommended by another friend of Greg's Gourmet, Bonnie, the Dog Whisperer of San Diego who once won a bet against me to see whose dog could sit the longest.  She also provided us with a deal for a free burger as seen here:

Classic third-pound Smash Burger and Smash Fries

In a crazy turn of events, Shag2theNasty wound up getting...the same thing!

Classic Smash Burger and fries

The Smash Fries are actually seasoned with olive oil and rosemary as opposed to the standard fries.  A good change and seasoned well enough so it wasn't overpowering.  Overall it's a good change of scenery and they make their burgers well.  Nice service, too.  I recommend. 

Another shot

A little more about Shag2theNasty - the dude once ate five (5) two-egg omelettes from the dining hall at State...and there's proof!

One, two, three, four, five

Also, I wanted to share this next photo with everyone.  It was sent in by Amar and it's just so funny:

In-N-Out AND pizza

And knowing Amar, that may actually be two orders of fries!  Plus the fact that it's half eaten cracks me up.  Also sent in from Coby Beyer-Chafets, check out this mad dessert plate he assembled at a buffet:

Dessert - the most important meal of the day

I've received several more photos from readers and will post them a few at a time.  Thanks everyone and thanks again to Bonnie for the lead.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hometown Gourmet

Happy birthday, mom!  I love you!

Nothing's better than a little home cookin', even if you're not the one doing it.  On the recent road trip with my uncle, The World According to Rich, we had made stops in Manzanar, Bodie, and Sacramento.  Next up: the Bay Area.  First up is Pastino's Pasta & Pizza in Oakland, CA:

Three cheese calzone with pepperoni

Up until this point I can't recall ever having a calzone.  In fact, my entire knowledge on calzones was based on the Seinfeld episode of the same name.  Unfortunately I can't say I fully enjoyed this.  It had WAY too much cheese and not nearly enough pepperoni.  As I was cutting into it there was cheese everywhere, kind of like one of Chris Daughtry's attempts at being a real rock star.  

The company was good, though, dining with my aunt and being in Oakland for the first time since...2003? 2004?  That was a treat.  

Next up is a visit to one of my favorite restaurants growing up: Sneakers Pub and Grill in San Carlos:

Club sandwich

Okay, that picture turned out pretty bad so here's what Amber ate:

Bacon cheeseburger sliders

For the longest time I used to order the corn dog off the kids menu.  Why don't they have one on the regular menu?  I's a corn dog.  It's kind of a sporting essential food.  So for this meal I wasn't as hungry as I thought I was and the sandwich just didn't work for me...but the company was good.

The next day we went to yet another one of my favorite locations: Sky Kitchen Cafe in San Carlos:

Ham and bacon omelette with home fries

I spent the first 6 years of my life in Redwood Shores, which is right down the street, so I became very familiar with this place at an early age.  It's great to see that it's maintained that retro-feel cafe charm as well as keeping up the building.  And as always, the company was good.

And here's a little something from the hotel:

Gourmet coffee at the hotel...they must have known I was coming...even though I don't drink coffee

Here's a vlog of Fort Point, situated beneath the Golden Gate Bridge:

I'd also like to take this time to thank all the organizations who made this trip possible: The World According to Rich, Twirl Radio, Manzanar National Historic Site, Bodie State Historic Park, Fort Point National Historic Site, Ruby Inn, Virginia Creek Settlement, Hays Street Cafe, Sneakers Pub & Grill, Sky Kitchen Cafe, Pastino's Pasta & Pizza, Country Inn Suites, Elk Grove Hilton.


Here's a quick Seinfeld clip from the episode "The Calzone":

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Afghan Gourmet

A stop made on the whim on my recent road trip with The World According to Rich was at Kabul Afghan Cuisine in San Carlos, CA.  Wasn't sure what to expect, but we were not disappointed.  How many times have you gone to a restaurant and ordered a beautiful piece of meat only to bite into it and feel the same way you do when you hear that the Chicago Cubs didn't win the World Series for the 102nd straight time?  Not here, though.  Check it out:

Lamb and beef kababs, chicken curry, bread and rice

We asked the waiter (who I think was also the owner) what he recommended and he suggested sharing dishes.  So let's go in for a closer look:

Kawra-E-Badenjan - battered eggplant with yogurt and meat sauce

Beef/lamb kababs

Chicken curry

The layout

Rice with a certain seasoning I couldn't identify

Bread cleverly described in the menu as...Afghan Bread

Goush-E-Feel.  Is that not the greatest name ever?

The food was terrific.  Truly terrific.  The beef, lamb, and chicken were perfectly seasoned and cooked and the flavors/spices blew me away while served in generous portions for fair prices.  Highly recommend this place if you're passing through the peninsula. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gourmet with 2011 Radio Producer of the Year

Another stop on our recent trip around California featured some gourmet in Elk Grove, CA cooked by none other than the 2011 Radio Producer of the Year and friend of Greg's Gourmet, Mike Lidskin of Twirl Radio and his wife, Amber.  They were kind enough to cook for myself and The World According to Rich, possibly in a scheme to get us to leave sooner.

First up is some grilled chicken complete with Mike's secret sauce and cooked over hickory wood.

The specimens


The next day we took an epic adventure to the metropolis of Galt, CA to a little place called The Squeeze Inn Burger Joint:

A Squeeze with Cheese

Another shot

They cook the burger in a pile of cheese then squeeze it together so by the time it comes out it's got this piece of cheese the size of Australia hanging off it.  Some will eat the entire thing but I cut it off and set it aside.  Even dangerous eaters like me have our limits.  But the burger was good.  And "Squeeze with Cheese" is fun to say.

Following an afternoon of radio, it was time for Amber to whip up some truly gourmet steaks:

I know what you're thinking and, no, I did not attempt to eat all of these

Steak, butter potatoes, corn on the cob, and greens

The next morning before we headed off for the Bay Area we were served with a delicious gourmet breakfast:

A dozen eggs and, no, I didn't try to eat all of them

A harvest of fruit

Oddly enough, it seems that I forgot to take a picture of my plate.  I guess even awesome, good looking food bloggers like me have their off days.

For a little more about Twirl Radio, check out this video put together by The World According to Rich:

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ghost Town Gourmet

I'm currently on a "business" trip with The World According to Rich around California and one of the stops on this trip was Bodie, California, considered one of the best preserved ghost towns in the country.  Once a booming mining town in the 1880s with a population of over 10,000, the city soon fell into oblivion when the mine went dry and now it sits isolated and alone in the mountains near the California-Nevada border.

For videos of our trip, check out The World According to Rich's Vlog.

Meals at all hours?  Sounds good to me

Naturally, Greg's Gourmet was on the scene to survey the local gourmet.  First up is dinner at the Virginia Creek Settlement in Bridgeport, CA:

Hickory Pork Chops

New York Steak ordered by The World According to Rich

Virginia Creek is a house that they transformed into a small restaurant (and I guess they still live there).  It's got some cool old west decorations on the walls and is a nice establishment halfway between Bodie and Bridgeport.

For breakfast we enjoyed a hearty meal at the Hays Street Cafe, also in Bridgeport, CA:

Eggs, hash browns, and biscuits

Hays Street Cafe I think was also a house at one point that was transformed into a restaurant.  Food was good.  Service was good.  US 395 is a surprisingly nice, scenic drive.  I was thinking it would be boring desert most of the way up but it's actually got a lot to see. 

I would have liked to dine here, but it closed down during the Taft administration

If you ever get the chance to check out Bodie, do it.  We were there for about 4 hours and only saw a fraction of it, so be ready to spend the day.  Once one of the wildest cities in the west it's now in a state of arrested decay with about 200 structures of the once 2000 that were in these mountains.  I'll be posting pictures on my Facebook, so if we're not friends we probably should be.



Here's a 4 minute vlog put together by The World According to Rich with video from our time at Bodie:

Thanks for reading!