Take, Taste, Toss: May 9, 2013

Our contributors give you brief reviews of recent cookbooks/ kitchen gadgets/ recipes they've tried, and tell you whether you should take it home, just give it a taste, or toss it out.

bacon-wrapped maple pork loinBacon-Wrapped Maple Pork Loin

Okay, I’m just as over the PUT BACON ON EVERYTHING trend as everyone else is, but sometimes it just makes sense. And this is one of those times. The brine for this pork loin is simple and delicious, and the final product is savory, just a tiny bit sweet, and incredibly satisfying. I’ve been buying pork loins like it’s my job lately (and hey, it kinda is) and testing out recipes, and this is the best one I’ve tried so far. It’s moist and flavorful, and you get to feel all fancy because you are BRINING a pork loin OVERNIGHT. “Hey, wanna come over?” “Sorry, can’t. I’m brining.” It’s a thing.

Verdict: TAKE, but crisp the bacon a bit before you wrap it around the loin.

goya mango nectarGoya Mango Nectar 

When you find yourself with a fridge full of extra bottles of champagne, you best start finding ways to keep the bubbles interesting. Cadillac problems, I know. My husband is a dude’s dude, but for all his dudeness, he likes his adult bevvies more than a little on the fruity side. So when we found ourselves in search of champagne mixers, we decided to pick up a variety of fruit nectars. When life gives you champers, you make bellinis, bitches! Alas, the mango nectar tastes like…basically nothing. Sad trombone noise goes here.

Verdict: TASTE, if you like your fruity flavors on the subtle side.

stuzzi pizza ovenFocaccia Ariabiata at Stuzzi in Richmond, VA

Only a handful of restaurants in the US make true Neapolitan pizza, and Richmond’s Stuzzi is one of them. That gorgeous oven you see on the left fires all of their pizzas and breads in mere minutes and lends them incredible flavor. The focaccia is a wonderful combination of the perfect, simple ingredients: bread, oil, salt, and herbs. It’s a rosemary explosion that leaves us mopping up olive oil and contemplating licking the plate clean every time we visit.

Verdict: TAKE…and then take again. You should probably order one for each person.


Image via

Brownstone in Boston, MA (Image via

I spent a few days in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood earlier this month, when a friend and I wandered into Brownstone. Several items on the menu caught our eyes, and in the spirit of trying as many things as possible, we ordered a handful of dishes to share. We were trying to maximize our chances of a hit, but what we got as a strike-out.

The salted caramel bacon was, first of all, COLD, and was just strips of bacon coated in caramel. The chicken pot pie egg rolls (I know, but we HAD to try) tasted like they came out of a box. Maple-infused sweet potato fries (sounds promising, right?) turned out to be sweet potato fries drizzled with maple syrup. Drizzling is not the same as infusing, yo. Flatbread with fig jam, pears, goat cheese, baby arugula, and truffle oil was dry with a not-so-pleasing ratio of bread to not-bread items. We ditched those items and ordered a few more, and the sadface kept on coming. To their credit, the waitstaff were patient and the manager seemed genuinely interested in our experience. It’s not their fault the food was bad, but alas, it was.

Verdict: TOSS.




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