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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Top 5 New Food Tricks

I love food.

Not only do I love food, but I love unique combinations of food and new ways to prepare food. I'm the kind of guy who was intrigued enough by the thought of bacon-infused vodka to pick up the ingredients and trying the process out. (I'm too scared to taste the results, though, but the trip itself was quite amazing.) If there's a new way to enjoy some of my favorite foods, I want to know about it and be on the cutting edge of the technology.

I even managed to score tickets to the ALL CANDY EXPO the past two years and got to find out about all the new products and flavors before they hit the market.

So I've done a little rummaging around the 'net and here are the Top 5 new food tricks that have really got me interested and I either loved or would love to try:

Honorable Mention: 50 New Things + Deep-Fried + A Stick = State Fair Deliciousness

I'm always hearing about the new food that is now available (mostly at state fairs) that is being deep-fried and often put on a stick for easy eating. In recent times, this has included Oreos, Twinkees, Snickers bars, Coca-Cola (an intriguing one) and cheesecake. I believe there's even a deep-fried ice cream that someone made available.

We've certainly come a long way from the corndog, haven't we?

5. Donuts + Bacon Cheeseburger = Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger

I have to admit, this isn't exactly a new trend. In fact, I believe I read about it back in 2006 when a minor league baseball team's stadium just outside St. Louis (the Gateway Grizzlies) decided to slice up some Krispy Kreme donuts and slap a burger, bacon and cheese in-between and the Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger was officially born. And yes, that link has photos and video of the 1,000-calorie delight.

But donut burgers have spread, and as recently as last year they are still being created, even turning up at a Google cafeteria. That Slashfood article even has a gallery of pictures of the Krispy Kreme Burger from around the world. Disgustingly enough, picture #3 is a "Veggie Krispy Kreme Burger" - for the "health-conscious" donut-burger lover?

What I'm noticing in the pictures is that there's a clear line on the donut-burger battlefield:

Glazed side up or glazed side down?

I'm on the fence, frankly. It just makes more sense to do it glazed side down if you're trying to get some nice grill marks on the dough side, and it makes for a less-messy burger as you don't have to get glazed sugar all over your fingers. But on the other hand, that layer of sugar is separating donut from meat - by doing it glazed side up, the juices from your bacon and meat patty can meld with the sweet donut dough and while it's a messier endeavor, I suspect there's oodles more flavor if you venture down that path.

Where do you stand?

4. Bacon + Chocolate = Mo's Bacon Bar

I've never been a huge fan of the salty+sweet combination attack. Kettle corn's flavor actually confuses my taste buds sometimes. Chocolate-covered pretzels, I devour them by licking off all the chocolate and then having my way with the salty piece all on its own. Yea, that's even how I tackle the Peanut M&M. But when it comes to bacon, I had to give it a try and I did actually purchase and consume the Mo's Bacon Bar made by Vosges Chocolate a few months ago. I'll let Vosges try to explain itself first:

Breathe…engage your five senses, close your eyes and inhale deeply. Be in the present moment, notice the color of the chocolate, the glossy shine. Rub your thumb over the chocolate bar to release the aromas of smoked applewood bacon flirting with deep milk chocolate. Snap off just a tiny piece and place it in your mouth, let the lust of salt and sweet coat your tongue.

So I tried it (the bar, not the touchy-feely instructions that told me to close my eyes but also to notice the color of the chocolate) and despite a semi-loathing of salty-sweet treats, I enjoyed it. I was a little disappointed to find that the bar was something like 85% chocolate and maybe 15% bacon at best - and that they used tiny bacon bits, which seemed to be getting confused in my mouth with the added Alder wood smoked salt that was supposed to compliment the applewood smoked bacon. I found it to almost overpower the bacon, of which I could find very little taste without only tasting salt. (It could have been the salty bacon, could have been the pure salt.)

I was hoping for something more like this chocolate-covered strip of bacon on a stick, which I'm certain would taste more of bacon while still not overpowering its chocolate coating in the flavor department.

(Luckily, there's several recipes online, which do actually consist of more than "dip bacon in chocolate, ya big dummy!")

3. Booze + Potatoes = Beer Chips and Intoxi-Tators

This is a discovery I got to make at the 2008 All Candy Expo here in Chicago with my girlfriend, as we found ourselves at a booth marked "Beer Chips" with several bowls of potato-y treats for us to sample. Sure, there was the original Beer Chip, made with beer (and maybe what seems to be a malt powder to give it that extra beer taste, though BEER is listed in the ingredients). It's not going to get you drunk or anything, though. But it also comes in additional flavors, like Chip Shots (margarita with salt flavor) and Hot Potatoes (spicy bloody mary flavor) and all three were delicious. I spread the word to my friends and they were very much shocked when a few months later the amber-colored bags were available in our local grocery stores.

And then a year went by, and 2009 All Candy Expo was here. We went searching frantically to find the Beer Chip booth to thank them for an awesome product, but instead we found a different alcohol/potato pairing booth: Intoxi-Tators. They were also sporting a beer-flavored chip as well as the margarita and bloody mary flavors. (Aren't there any other salty alcoholic beverages that would mesh well with potato chips?) Anyway, they also had a fourth offering in the form of Designated Driver, in case you wanted the thrill of the Intoxi-Tator brand without the thrill of chips tasting of alcoholic drink flavorants.

It seems that the Intoxi-Tators website lists some future flavors in development: Mimosa, Pomegranate Mojito and Ale.

2. Bacon + Chicken Sandwich + Chicken Sandwich - Buns = KFC's Double Down

So this one's really on the cutting edge of food technology. Well, food technology that's actually endorsed by the food providers themselves. (While we've all been tempted to make our own Big MacChicken with chicken patties for buns on a Big Mac, McDonald's isn't endorsing it on their menu or advertising it or likely condoning it in any way.) KFC, on the other hand, has selected test markets to try out possibly the first chain-approved burger that uses meat patties instead of buns.

The KFC Double Down - two KFC fried chicken patties as buns sandwiching in some bacon, two slices of cheese and "Colonel's sauce".

It's gaining notoriety on the interwebs as footage from the commercials and poster advertisements and in-store advertisements are being posted to internet forums and being discussed and debated by both food connoisseurs and the general troll population. Is this going to be a new trend? Will it take off and expand outside the test market areas? Will heart-attack lawsuits be pending?

Only time will tell, but my mouth is salivating and my brain is cursing the fact that I am not located in one of these test market areas.

Am I crazy for thinking this is worth a road trip?

1. Beef Jerky + Energy Drink = Perky Jerky

The story starts out so innocently: two buddies on a ski trip who drunkenly left both a bag of beef jerky and an energy drink open inside their backpack. Lo and behold, the next morning the jerky has retained its flavor, become more tender from the energy drink, and has absorbed some of the energy-laden chemicals providing a boost of energy during their ski trip.

And thus, Perky Jerky was born - a combination of meat and caffeine that can probably only be topped by some coffee-rubbed Kobe beef or something.

Sadly, I have not yet been able to get my hands on some of this seemingly-splendid snack food - but will likely be making a purchase order in the very near future (unless some Perky Jerky sales exec stumbles across this blog and would like to contact me for an address where a sample for product review can be sent).

Doesn't this seem like an excellent pairing? Some claim that some of the scientific elements of meat (beef in particular) can cause one to become logey or drowsy - so combining beef jerky with caffeinated guarana seems like the perfect counterpoint to produce a snack that satisfies your taste buds and keeps you on your toes!

What do you think? Do you have better food combinations that you've discovered recently that top some of these food-based math formulas? Do you think we've gone too far and are officially through the looking glass when it comes to foods? Is there something new you'd like to see deep-fried and put on a stick? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

And then Digg this article!

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