I stand with @chrissyteigen on Nutella.
I know what you’re thinking.
“Why on earth would you take a risk on ANOTHER Nordic cheese when the first one went so disastrously?”
Full disclosure: this blog is not chronological and I actually tried bread cheese way beforegjetost. And yes, if I had let gjetost sour my view of all Scandanavian dairy, I probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure. But if you think I would let one bad experience prevent me from spending hard-earned money on food that has an extremely high risk of being terrible, you obviously don’t get the point of this blog.
Bread cheese is great. Wikipedia tells me it is from Finland and actually called Leipäjuusto, or “Finnish squeaky cheese.” I’m gonna just go ahead and keep calling it bread cheese, because that name evokes images of my two favorite things: bread and cheese. It is in the family of “non-melting” cheeses like halloumi and paneer. Much like halloumi and paneer, it is awesome.
Bread cheese is not that expensive on the cheese spectrum, but at ~$8 a slab it is a little too pricey for me to buy as a regular cheese snack. Some Finnish versions are made from reindeer milk (!!!) and I would easily pay twice as much to try those, but the kind I got is from boring Wisconsin and made from cow’s milk, so no.
The process of making bread cheese involves a toasting step, and as a result it has these delicious-looking browned spots all over it:
I basically can’t look at a block of cheese with toasted brown spots all over it and not buy it, so here we are.
The texture is pretty dry and chewy. Wikipedia says that the people of Finland would make this stuff for multi-year storage. This will be good information to have when my wife is demanding that I decide which of my precious cheese scraps to sacrifice in the weekly fridge purge. And yes, it does squeak when you bite into it, which I guess is cool, but we have already established that I don’t really care about that kind of thing.
The flavor is highly reminiscent of halloumi. If you haven’t tried halloumi (you should) it is basically an extremely salty mozzarella that you can fry in a pan. Because it’s extra salty and extra dry, I want to describe bread cheese as the beef jerky of cheese. However, I don’t want you to go thinking it is as chewy as beef jerky, because it is not. It still tastes and feels like cheese.
I am also completely fascinated by non-melting cheeses, so I decided to see what would happen if I microwaved a chunk for 10 seconds.
Here it is before:
Here it is after:
Holy crap. It sizzled like crazy and turned into a soft, airy nugget that tasted, looked and smelled like the browned top of an extra-cheese pizza (aka Heaven). I highly recommend doing this.
As for other methods of serving, Wikipedia also tells me it is good with sweet stuff, and can also be served as either a side dish with, or in (!!!) coffee. This is a wonderful coincidence, because I was also recently made aware that there are people out there putting butter in coffee and claiming that it tastes good and won’t kill you instantly. I am going to save the bread cheese/coffee experiment for a future “Weird Coffee” post, which will also conveniently give me an excuse to buy more bread cheese.
The Ez Factor:
Ezra took this cheese and ran with it. Meaning, he literally picked it up and ran away to another room to eat it. This is not normal behavior for him, and I’m assuming it means that not only did he like it, he was also paranoid that I would suddenly decide I enjoy eating cheese off of the floor and steal it back from him. Unlikely.
Now that I am in the midst of my personal popcorn renaissance, it has recently become my go-to dessert. I tend to go for kettle corn. I have a penchant for kettle corn, thanks in part to San Diego Padres games in the 1990s and in part to the fact that before my teeth were fixed, the only way I could safely approach popcorn was the Kettle Corn flavored Popcorners they serve on JetBlue flights. Today I can admit that Popcorners, while a special and important part of my life, are not popcorn at all. Popcorners will be the subject of about 6 other separate posts, but we will not mention them again here.
The great thing about popcorn that happened sometime between 2007 and 2014 is that you don’t even have to pop it anymore! Here is the popcorn section at Wegmans:
Overwhelming, no? Do they even sell unpopped popcorn anymore? I don’t know! I don’t care! America is great.
The all-around best kettle corn is probably Trader Joe’s. Two varieties, light and regular, both delicious. Buy them, they are great. I haven’t been to Trader Joe’s in months so I don’t have a photo. Do you really need a photo? It’s pastel pink (regular) and blue (lite) bags with Victorian-era drawings on them. You’ll figure it out.
In the normal retail world, there are two good kettle corns: Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop and the frou frou one with pink himalayan sea salt and coconut oil. I don’t remember the name but it’s right under the blue and yellow boxes in the above pic. It has a pink Buddha on it. Buddha Something Popcorn.
Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop is pretty good, not too sweet, zero grease, ONLY 20 GRAMS OF CARBS PER 3.5 CUPS. Put all 3.5 cups in my mouth. It is not as sweet as Trader Joe’s. I don’t like sweet a whole lot, so I like that.
The Buddha one is a little oversugared to the point of being Cracker-Jacky.Way too sweet for my tastes. I guess the Wegmans gods heard me complaining about that, because now they don’t carry it anymore. However, the plain Buddah stuff is coated with coconut oil, so it has that really satisfying movie-theater-popcorn mouth feel. It can easily be lightly kettle-fied with a light sprinkle of sugar.
With all of that background out of the way, we finally get to the point of this post: Angie’s Pumpkin Spice Popcorn:
A gorgeous endcap and I trust Angie. Angie gives me great, non-greasy, lightly-sweetened kettle corn. Angie is my homegirl. But is she, really? Let’s look more closely at the bag. See that?
It says “Holidrizzle.” Holidrizzle, my nizzle. Do you know what that means? DO YOU KNOW WHAT HOLIDRIZZLE MEANS?
Holidrizzle means that THIS POPCORN IS FROSTED. FROSTED. THERE IS A DRIZZLE OF FROSTING ON THIS POPCORN. LOOK CLOSELY AGAIN AT THE POPCORN IN THIS PICTURE. THIS POPCORN HAS 40 GRAMS OF CARBS PER 3 CUPS. THIS POPCORN IS CAKE.
Had I realized that this popcorn had FROSTING on it, I never would have bought it. But I did, and now I can never stop buying it. And before you can say “oh but it’s seasonal pumpkin spice, it’ll be gone soon enough” it’s called “Holidrizzle” and I know where this story is going.
The take-home point here is that this pumpkin spice popcorn is one of the best things I have ever eaten, and that kettle corn is a slippery, slippery slope. Buy this popcorn, don’t buy this popcorn, I don’t care. Just know what you are getting yourself into.
Round two of Lay’s Great Potato Chip Experiment is now upon us. Thankfully these reviews are fresher in my memory:
Mango Salsa: These were basically a mango-infused play on a BBQ-flavored chip. Most people who aren’t total weirdos like BBQ-flavored chips, so what’s not to like here?
Wasabi Ginger: THESE ARE LIKE IF YOU TAKE ONE DELICIOUS THING LIKE SUSHI AND COMBINE IT WITH ANOTHER DELICIOUS THING LIKE POTATO CHIPS AND IT COMES OUT TASTING LIKE SOMETHING MORE DELICIOUS THAN YOU COULD EVER HAVE IMAGINED.
Cappuccino: THESE ARE LIKE IF YOU TAKE ONE DELICIOUS THING LIKE COFFEE AND COMBINE IT WITH ANOTHER DELICIOUS THING LIKE POTATO CHIPS AND IT COMES OUT TASTING LIKE DIRT.
Bacon Cheddar: Oh hell no. Don’t wanna try ‘em, not gonna try ’em. Fool me once, shame on Cheesy Garlic Bread potato chips. Fool me twice, shame on me for buying a full-sized bag of those fucking cappuccino chips what was I thinking?
It has been way too long since I sampled the O.G. three Lays Million Dollar Flavors chips. I have a more detailed recollection of having scoured multiple CVSs and 7-11s in a search for snack sized bags of these guys than I do of actually eating the chips. That said, here are my recollections:
Chicken and Waffles: I’m pretty sure these just tasted like maple syrup. It was good, but why even bring chicken into the equation? It gave the whole thing a weird Chicken-in-a-Biskit vibe that I’m sure grossed a lot of people out. This was a major strategic blunder that basically cost us a lifetime of tasty maple syrup flavored potato chips.
Sriracha: I recall liking these a lot but I honestly don’t even remember how spicy they were. I’m pretty sure I thought these were going to be the winner.
Cheesy Garlic Bread: Artificial cheese flavor is indistinguishable from artificial sour cream flavor. Artificial garlic flavor is indistinguishable from artificial onion flavor. Surprise surprise, these chips won.
Wegman’s carries these in three varieties (chive being a recent addition). The Yancey’s website says there are actually five varieties so I guess Wegman’s is holding out on us or something. They are only $3ish a bag, require no cutting utensils, and last for many days. All in all, the plain ones (AND ONLY THE PLAIN ONES) are a very good and worthy cheese investment. I buy them weekly.
Regular: Delicious. Salty, chewy and smooth. Only once have they had the authentic squeakiness of a “fresh” cheese curd but news flash they are not fresh they came to Massachusetts from New York and also, who gives a shit?
Chive: Do you eat delicious cheese and think “This cheese is great, and all, but I really wish it tasted like it was stored open in the fridge right next to an onion”? Well, HAVE I GOT A CHEESE FOR YOU!
Buffalo: Inedible. Seriously too hot. Raging flaming hellfire, and not in a way that is at all pleasant or palatable. My wife is a huge fan of Yancey’s regular Buffalo cheese, and so I bought these for her. I pulled them off the shelf and tossed them in the cart thinking “Damn, I am an all-around terrific, thoughtful wife.” Three curds in, she was done. She loves things far spicer than I can even pretend to tolerate, so of course the next logical step would be for me to try one. I can’t truly recognize a bad decision until I’m fully immersed in it.
The Ez Factor:
Regular: Ezra loves the regular curds. It is possible that he could love them more than string cheese, if he were capable of evaluating two things comparatively (he is not, he is a cat).
Chive: Ezra does not care for the chive curds. His allotment went fully uneaten.
Buffalo: We do our best to not harm animals in the creation of this blog, so Ezra was not permitted to sample the Buffalo curds.
Do not buy this weird brown Norwegian Cheese. It does not taste like cheese.
The Ez Factor:
Ezra cannot get enough of this stuff. He and Danjumbo spent about an hour knawing on it. If you think this is any indication that I might be mistaken, that this cheese maybe might be a good thing to put in your mouth and chew and swallow you are WRONG and the joke’s on you because they also eat CAT FOOD and Danjumbo doesn’t even like cheese.