THE LIGHTNING ROUND!
For all the food, drink, snacks and recipes about which Tina and I can write a thousand words, there are so many more that are waiting in the wings. They look nervously on, some of them eagerly waiting for their moment in the sun, others quietly studying their shoes and edging their way to the back of the crowd. While any of them would be happy to be a Bud Light Lime, not as many are keen to be a Big Mac Snack Wrap.
In truth, there are more than we can get to, adventurous eaters that we are. So instead of letting them linger, I offer you quick-hit capsule reviews that you can use. Prepare yourself for… the LIGHTNING ROUND.
1. Cloud No. 9 vodka liqueur
You know me. You know that I love to give weird stuff a positive review, if only to get people to try it with me, and Cloud No. 9 is some seriously weird stuff: Australian vodka, distilled from barley, diluted and then cut with the juice of cabernet grapes. A sort of wine-grape-juice liqueur, its main feature is a shimmering sediment that, when you shake the bottle, gives the liquid a opalescent shine.
So, it kind of looks like you’re drinking nail polish. While I grant that the first time I sampled this, I was drunk enough to start taking straight shots of it, I maintain two key things:
- When you start drinking Cloud No. 9, it tastes maybe like pomegranate; by the end, it tastes like clamato.
- You will never have a worse hangover in your life the next day — I broke my own rule about dirty vodka for this, and I regret it to this day.
Plus, holy Mary, it’s $40 Canadian for a 750mL bottle. I can get half again as much regular vodka for that and cut it with my own water and grape juice, thanks all the same.
2. Vinta Crackers
Wow, two bread products in a row, I know. This is the non-stop-thrill-ride you’ve been aching for! What next, low-fat oatmeal? Toothpaste flavors for the whole family?
You may mock, but sometimes there isn’t anything better than the right cracker at the right time — and it’s getting so that Vinta’s right time is “whenever there is a box near my open, hungering mouth.” That they’re low in salt and cholesterol is a bonus, because all that really matters is that they have a solid multi-grain flavor I am happy to snack on, and that is a vehicle for almost any godforsaken cheese that Tina comes across.
Plus, if that wasn’t enough, they have commercials that make me proud that smug manner of a person who knew a band before they became popular:
Oh, you like Vinta now? Pffft, I was eating them while you were still crumbling Ritz in your soup.
3. Jones Spellcasting Soda
Hey, you know what? I used to play D&D in high school. No no, for real! So when I tell you that out of the six bottles above, which are labelled…
- Sneak Attack
- Potion of Healing
- Bigby’s Crushing Thirst Destroyer
- Dwarven Draught
- Eldritch Blast
- Illithid Brain Juice
…it should be no surprise at all that I know exactly what every one of them means. So, while I don’t deny Jones their opportunity to pander to 20-sided dice rollers in the same way they did Magic: The Gathering players or fans of Emily the Strange, I feel I’m qualified to say this to D&D gamers:
Stop encouraging them. Stop encouraging these people to make geeky shit that makes you look like a total maniac. Potions of Healing, seriously? Illithid Brain Juice? Look, I still have my dice in a pencil case somewhere, but that doesn’t mean I want to put myself in the position where I have to explain a) what an Illithid is, b) why they crave the juice of brains and c) the degree to which I identify myself with one that I think having a bottle of it in my fridge is cool.
Seriously, knock it off. Buy the books, play the game, have a good time, great. But this stuff just gives everyone a bad name.
What’s next? To Hit Armor Class Delicious?
4. Herr’s Horseradish & Cheddar Chips
A little quick Googling about this particular flavor of Herr’s stabbed a cold lance of fear into my heart, because it looks as though it’s discontinued. That’s really a shame.
And by a shame, I mean a crying shame.
And by a crying shame, I mean that I am putting all my possessions on a bindle and going to walk the earth, because nothing makes sense any more.
These chips actually taste like horseradish, for all the good or ill of it. They’re hot like horseradish, they have a kick like it, and the cheddar is really just there to balance it out and help get you through the bag. While it might be off-putting at first, the next thing you know you’ll be wiping tears off your cheeks and worrying that you might not have bought enough bags.
While most snacks are trying hard to figure out the next best way to taste like a chili pepper, it was a pleasure to find someone who managed to nail an entirely different kind of heat — and did it with such eerie precision. I hold no illusions that Herr’s “horseradish” flavor is likely a clear fluid in a laboratory vial somewhere, and it’s important to know that I don’t care.
It’s that good, and I’m going to hoard these chips while I can. I suggest you do the same.
And that concludes this week’s LIGHTNING ROUND! Share your thoughts about our picks in the comments, or suggestions for other items that just can’t wait for their own full-fledged article featuring drunken plums, literary figures or me rambling about France!