TCS: A PSA about PSL

I posted a photo of the peppermint goat cheese on Facebook/Instagram and I won’t ignore that 3 or 4 of my dear readers astutely noted that alongside the peppermint goat cheese there was pumpkin goat cheese. So, yes, I purchased the pumpkin goat cheese and the review will follow below but I first need to make a special announcement about pumpkin spice.

This would probably be a more appropriate post for September or October, but as I alluded to in my last post there is about to be a new pumpkin in charge and who knows if we’ll even make it that far. I’m just going to get this out now:

I, the Curious Shopper, am wholly and completely uncurious about pumpkin spice products, and am generally reluctant to blog about this disturbing trend in seasonal foods. This is not to say it could never happen – I’ve certainly posted on pumpkin pie flavored potato chips and pumpkin spice Holidrizzle popcorn in the past. But in the time since I have made a serious decision: if I start purchasing and tasting and blogging about strange pumpkin spice products for no other reason that they are strange pumpkin spice products, it will simply never end. And it will slowly destroy me, both emotionally and financially.

First, the mental cost: I have already wasted an embarrassing amount of time either standing the grocery store or reading Buzzfeed posts, internally debating whether certain pumpkin spice products were truly strange to begin with. For example, contrary to what every Trader Joe’s hater out there would have you believe, it is impossible for seasonal pumpkin spiced bakery items to be odd or strange or even a problem. Gourds are seasonal produce, and pumpkin is a valid baked good flavor! Chocolate, vanilla, lemon, strawberry, pumpkin…nothing is weird about any of these things showing up in a dessert.

Here is another rule of thumb that is sure to be controversial in the blogosphere: if it isn’t weird to put butternut squash in it, it isn’t weird to put pumpkin in it. Pumpkin fettucine, pumpkin lasagna and pumpkin ravioli are not weird. Pumpkin soup is not weird. Stop adding them to your “20 photos that prove pumpkins have truly gone to far” listicles.

But even if I hard-stop filtered out all of the cakes, pastas, cookies, candies, breads, bagels, muffins, etc., I would still likely go broke trying to purchase all of the genuinely strange pumpkin spice products. The idea of a “slippery slope” is a logical fallacy everywhere in the universe EXCEPT for the realm of pumpkin spice products. When dealing with pumpkin spice products, the slippery slope is, in fact, a logical certainty.

Let me explain:

Sweet, innocuous pumpkin spice lattes led to pumpkin spice non-dairy creamer, which we then decided would be fine to drink straight up, without coffee, bringing us pumpkin spice soy-, almond- coconut- and cow milks, which then led to pumpkin spice yogurt. These are all seemingly acceptable things, as a corollary to the baked good rule above. However, pumpkin spice yogurt then beget pumpkin spice hummus, begetting pumpkin spice salsa. Pumpkin spice salsa clearly requires pumpkin spice tortilla chips, which beget pumpkin spice Pringles, which beget pumpkin spice Triscuits, which, naturally, brings us to pumpkin spice goat cheese.

Pumpkin spiced dog treats, you ask? Why they were brought to you by pumpkin spice chicken sausage. It’s likely that all of the pumpkin spiced meats, jerkys, dry-rubs, what have you, originated from pumpkin spice butter (a direct sibling of the yogurt).

The disease has spread to drug stores, where pumpkin spice soda beget pumpkin spice seltzer, which inevitably brought us pumpkin spice gum.

None of these things need to exist. I also don’t need to taste them, because I am pretty freaking sure they taste like cloves and cinnamon. Guess what? Cloves and cinnamon taste good with fucking everything, a phenomenon discovered somewhere on the Indian subcontinent approximately four thousand fucking years ago. I just don’t have any curiosity about the practice of adding cloves and cinnamon to random foodstuffs, and any post about it would be so boring.

Here is an example of some pumpkin flavored non-desserts I have tried:

Pumpkin Triscuits – these were really tasty. They tasted like Triscuits but with cloves and cinnamon.

Pumpkin goat cheese – this was really tasty. It tasted like goat cheese but with cloves and cinnamon.

So while I will always eagerly take any suggestions or donations for things to try from all of my beloved blog readers, I hope you will all understand that it is exceedingly unlikely that there will ever be any more pumpkin spice posts in the future.


TCS: Peppermint Goat Cheese

Forgive me, it has been a while. The Year 2016, in addition to rapturing away all of our  favorite artists in exchange for a plague of frogs that most surely is a harbinger of the
impending nuclear apocalypse, was utterly devoid of new and exciting snacks. Well, either that or none of the new and exciting snacks have been able to penetrate my coastal elitist bubble.

I mean, some snacks snuck through. I have a blank blog post, drafted from the frontlines of the War on Christmas: “PETITION TO MAKE LIMITED-EDITION CHEETOS SWEETOS PERMANENT DURING THESE DIFFICULT GEOPOLITICAL TIMES” but I could never get past the title. My heart wasn’t in it. The whole world was such a bummer, and if I can’t find anything fun or clever to say about a snack that is essentially Cinnamon Toast Crunch-Funyun hybrid, which I realize sounds awful but hear me out it’s actually the most delicious thing I have ever tasted…


…maybe I shouldn’t be blogging at all.

The magic, the inspiration, the curiosity, they were gone.

Nothing mattered.

Until yesterday, when I discovered motherfucking PEPPERMINT GOAT CHEESE.


Holy fucking shit. What the fuck even is this? Ahh this is so horrible.

I have to try it.

Peppermint flavored goat cheese has given me life and The Curious Shopper is back in business.


And then my heart abruptly sank when I picked up this ridiculous pink cheese and noticed that it was speckled with white spots.

“Oh no. The peppermint-flavored goat cheese has gone moldy. I am too late. My blog is truly doomed, and 2017 is already shaping up to be worse than last.”

“Cheer up, Chuck!”

To my astonishment Peppermint Patty appeared, right there in the middle of the Stop & Shop deli section. For some reason she insisted on calling me Chuck, I just went with it.

“Read the label more closely, Chuck. Those aren’t mold spots – they’re white chocolate chunks!”

“Good grief!”

It’s not clear to me which of the two – mold or white chocolate chunks – is more unsettling to find your goat cheese, but this is the world we live in now and we might as well get used to it.

Now, I can say quite honestly that this is the strangest thing I have ever purchased and tried for this blog, but on top of that there is an extra wrinkle of excitement/terror for me here because peppermint and I do not have a very good track record.

To illustrate, below are some representative peppermint- flavored things, ranked according to how I feel about them:


Can you make sense of this? I can’t. Where was peppermint goat cheese going to fall on this bizarre spectrum? And oh god, goat cheese is so good with wine. Mint is so bad with wine. HOW IS THIS GOING TO TASTE WITH WINE? Gah, so many questions!

I was so overwhelmed with these thoughts swirling through my head that at the point of tasting I did something somewhat unprecedented for this blog: I asked my wife to take down some bullet point notes, just so I didn’t forget anything. I am looking her notes over now and honestly, they are much more thorough than I expected or asked for. There is no summary I can write that is better than this, so here it is, unedited:

  • what is the point of it
  • what would you put it on
  • is it a dessert? an appetizer?
  • google “can cats eat peppermint”
  • omg it’s sort of like peppermint stick ice cream
  • what kind of a fucking crazy person came up with this shit
  • Ez ate it!
  • it’s good with a cookie
  • it’s a dessert cheese
  • expected this to be horrible but it’s actually good
  • Ez wants more
  • it’s not even bad (with red wine). it’s not good.
  • what is this?!
  • it tastes like cheesecake
  • i can’t believe this is good
  • the mint is not evenly distributed
  • just hit a mint pocket

The only two things I feel the need to elaborate on are:


1) Vehicle selection: we just got back from a trip so it is slim pickings in our pantry, and it took a while to figure out how the hell to even eat this stuff. The two things could find that seemed possibly appropriate for this tasting were pretzels and animal crackers. It was good with the animal crackers but not with the pretzels. In particular, the parts that were more heavily minted when combined with a very salty pretzel bite gave a very unpleasant, unnerving taste sensation.

2) The white chocolate bits were weird and completely unnecessary and the bites without them tasted better. I can accept that they are there, but I refuse to ever normalize them.

At this point, I was convinced that what I was eating was basically a ruse. A charlatan cheese. It was not peppermint flavored goat cheese. The flavor profile was more like that of a
peppermint flavored cream cheese or cheesecake, two things that I can accept, conceptually, as normal foods.

Thankfully I had a secret weapon to settle this question – my wife, who I’m sure you can tell by now has gone above and beyond in service of this blog post, absolutely HATES goat cheese. I think she hates goat cheese more than I hate York Peppermint Patties, if that is even possible. So what better person to test my hypothesis on than her? I was so convinced that I had been possibly cheated, and that this peppermint goat cheese tasted like peppermint but did not taste like goat cheese, that I somehow managed to get her to eat it.

She almost threw up. So goat-y, was how she described it. So, so goat-y. No matter how much we try to mask its funky, gamy musk with peppermint extract and red dye No. 5, at the end of the day goat cheese is still goat cheese. It’s an important lesson for all of us.

The final assessment, if you are keeping score is:

Flavor: Pretty good, like peppermint ice cream or cheesecake
Goat-y? Yes.
Good on a cookie? Yes.
Good on a pretzel? No.
Did Ez like it? Ez loved it.*
Does it do that weird flavor thing that toothpaste does with wine? No.
What about those white chocolate chunks? NOT MY WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNKS.

Ok, that wasn’t so hard. This year, I will make it a goal to try to check in here at least once in each of the months we have remaining on this planet. So one down, here’s hoping there will be 11 more to go!

*Our Google search did reveal that cats love peppermint. However, an important disclaimer is that Ezra transformed from his former svelte self to a massive chunkster last year, and he is on strict vet’s orders not to eat any more cheese. I made an exception for this, the most exceptional of cheeses. With that in mind, it is entirely possible that his crazed excitement to eat this weird peppermint cheese was just excitement to be getting any cheese at all.