Archives for posts with tag: Spicy

Today is an exciting day for the blog, as I’ve changed the format for the next two posts. Instead of my usual solo musings on the food I write up, these next two posts will be presented as a conversation. This will be slightly longer than usual, but hopefully the journey is worth it. I went with four friends (AB, AP, HJ, PM plus me [FFC]!) to my local KFC (no longer Kentucky Fried Chicken) to sample their two newest selections: Nashville Hot and Georgia Gold Chicken.

KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken is “a perfect blend of spicy cayenne and smoked paprika” obviously inspired by the classic Nashville Hot Chicken, which has been having something of a moment recently. To feed five people, I ordered two meals, each of which came with six chicken tenders, two sides, and a biscuit. It also is supposed to be served with four pickles. One basket is priced at $9.99.

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What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation centered on the Nashville Hot Chicken. The second post will feature the Georgia Gold and our thoughts on the two. In the interest of full disclosure, we ate the Nashville Hot Chicken first.

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Act I: The Beginning:

FFC: So let’s open this one. Generally where I start is I kinda smell and look.

AB: Nice, should I close this to keep it warm. Did you get photos?

FFC: I got those.

PM: Did you get your thumb in them?

FFC: Not yet! I need to start eating.

HJ: I don’t remember the last time I had KFC, it may have been the 90s.

PM: The last time I had fun was the 90s.

FFC: Actually that’s good, when was the last you all had KFC?

PM: Last time for me was sometime in college, maybe?

AB: When I was in Trinidad. [Ed. Note: Mr. Fancypants!]

AP: I had Kennedy Fried Chicken in college. It was a different KFC. I cannot… I don’t know if I’ve ever had it.

FFC: Ok, so it’s been awhile for everyone.


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Act II: Our First Impressions

FFC: I don’t need a spork, I’m just going to pick it up. Also, I got mashed potatoes and wedges. How does it look to you guys?

PM: The same.

AP: Soggy.

AB: Darker than I would have thought. On the sauce there are kinda pepper chunks.

HJ: Yea.

FFC: This is all Nashville hot. These are regular tenders, then they poured the sauce on them after putting them in the box.

Everyone (yes, everyone): Ahhhh!

FFC: So [the sauce] is not baked in. They just had a squirt bottle.

AP: Interesting. It looks appetizing. It looks greasy and like yummy.

AB: Alright, interesting.

PMM: I’m not so interested in it now that I know it was a mix.

HJ: I’m excited. I can’t really smell it.

FFC: Yea, I don’t think it has a distinctive smell, but I don’t know what it smells like, we’ll have to find out.

AB: It does have a smell.

AP: Let’s see if it’s too hot for me because I don’t really do hot stuff well. Oh, its crispy, good crispy. Look at that! Oily, hot goodness is all over my fingers.

FFC: The Nashville sauce is supposed to be hot oil with like cayenne and crap in there.

HJ: It tastes like a chili oil.

AB: The kick comes in about two chews in.

HJ: are you supposed to eat it with the pickle in the same bite?

FFC: You can have a pickle bite and a non-pickle bite to get an impression. It’s kinda smoky.

HJ: I like it with the pickle on it.

AP: Really good, juicy chicken.

HJ: Yea.

AP: Just a general comment about KFC.

FFC: So it’s not disappointing then, not a dry batch?

AP: Yea.


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Act III: More Sauce Talk

HJ: is it spicy for you?

AP: Like a mild heat. It’s really good.

HJ: It is good.

AB: I still prefer regular KFC chicken.

PM: Do they have levels of the flavor like where you can get it more?

FFC: I think if you just ask for extra sauce.

HJ: It’s like a blackened catfish flavor.

FFC: it definitely crispier than I thought it would be. When you pour sauce on top of fried chicken it usually gets soft and gross.

AB: That’s probably why they wait until the very end.

FFC: That’s true.

PM: How’s the biscuit with the sauce oil?

AB: Not bad.

FFC: Is it really oily when dipping stuff into it?

AP: It’s absorbing all of the oil.

AB: The biscuit and sauce isn’t very flavorful. The biscuit is like Bertucci’s dough that they give to kids.

FFC: Dipping the biscuit into the sauce, what is it?

AB: I’m not getting any flavor. I’m not sure if the sauce is just oil and they put some blackened spice on top of the chicken…

AP: Yea…

AB: … that’s giving the flavor.

PM: The biscuit is a good theory to test that out.

Break: We spent a lot of time talking about the biscuit in the oil. Then we discussed the mashed potatoes (not good), the potato wedges (good) and dipping the wedges in the mashed potatoes (a FFC specialty- really good). We also digressed into dipping fries into Wendy’s chili.

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Act IV: Proper Spice Levels and Flavor

HJ: Maybe they should add more flavor to the sauce?

FFC: More spice?

HJ: No, it’s spicy enough and I think its salty enough, but not flavor.

AP: You’re right, I’m just getting hot, only some flavor. It’s just heating up my mouth and its salty.

FFC: I get the smoke flavor.

AP: My mouth is kinda hot.

AB: What size was this that you ordered?

FFC: I think I got ten or twelve, so everyone gets two.

AB: I’m trying to think because I’m more excited for the Georgia Gold.

FFC: I’ll get the same size and I’ll try to avoid getting the sides with that one. [Ed. Note: this didn’t happen.]

AP: Yea, you can do chicken only.

FFC Yup. [Ed. Note: Nope.]

HJ: I like the pickle though.

FFC: I like the pickle with the chicken too.

HJ: It adds more flavor and extra texture.

AB: What’s your assessment now?

HJ: It’s so much better with the pickle!

AP: I know, right!

FFC: It’s really good.

AP: I guess were getting that style..

FFC: Chick Fil A?

AP: Yea.

HJ: I’ve never eaten at Chick Fil A.

FFC: I think I’m going to like this one more than the Georgia Gold, between not liking honey mustard that much and preferring spicy food. I could see myself eating a full meal of this.

PM: Its spicy but not really flavorful.

FFC: Yea, but as opposed not liking honey mustard, I’d rather just have spice rather than a taste I’m not a fan of.

PM: I prefer regular.

AB: I prefer regular.

FFC: I’d rather regular with hot sauce on the side.

PM: It tastes like a patch of icy hot on my tongue.

AP: It’s cleaning out my sinuses.

 

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Act V: Conclusion

AB: Do you do a five-point scale?

FFC: I don’t do a number.

AB: You just do happiness? Are you happy?

FFC: It’d be too hard to give numbers and keep it consistent.

AB: Are you biased because you’re in a happier mood now than you would be by yourself?

FFC: I don’t think so, I like the food or I don’t. This is different, but I’ve brought FFC Spouse before, and sometimes she’ll try it and sometimes she won’t, but I’m not always alone when I try food.

HJ: Do you try and temper your hunger so you’re the same hunger every time?

FFC: I just try and be hungry, because if I’m not hungry, it’s going to be gross and I won’t be happy. Today was a weird time to eat [Ed. Note: we were there around 4:30]. I went to lunch at 12:30 and didn’t eat a full lunch because then I wouldn’t have been happy eating this.

FFC: I could eat one more.

HJ: I don’t want anymore.

AP: I’m good.

AB: Want to split one?

FFC: We can each have one.

FFC: A quick run through of your final thoughts. Since PM has food in his mouth, let’s start with AP.

AP: This is the tough one because I can’t really compare it to regular KFC, but delicious fried chicken. I understand why they try and keep the recipe so secret. I really enjoyed the heat. I am probably more sensitive than you guys to heat, so it was the perfect amount for me, so maybe it’s kinda mild/hot overall if I were trying to describe it someone else. I really liked it.

HJ: Like the chicken. The sauce is maybe too spicy and oily and salty but no flavor, like there was something missing and I liked the fries. I liked the pickle

AP: Oh man, those wedges.

PM: There was no depth to it. There’s flavor now.  It doesn’t last.

AB: There was spice, but it wasn’t flavorful. There was mouth tingling but it’s not like I’m still tasting anything. But the chicken was really good and with the pickle it was better. The biscuit even with sopping up the sauce didn’t have taste, which speaks to the lack of flavor in the sauce.

 

So there you have the first conversation post! The general consensus was that the chicken was good, but the sauce was perhaps not fully developed. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion where we try the Georgia Gold Chicken and compare the two!

 

This post will cover the second item from my trip to Sonic back in the fall. Sonic’s Fiery Cheeseburger interested me because I like spicy food (in lieu of a single link, you can check out virtually every post on this blog). Since I knew I was going to try the popcorn chicken, I wanted to pair that with the cheeseburger, so I wasn’t doubling up on fried chicken. Unfortunately, whether due to an ordering mistake on my part or a worker error, I wound up actually eating Sonic’s Fiery Ultimate Chicken Sandwich, the other option in their fiery sandwich lineup.

The Fiery Ultimate Chicken Sandwich was “a premium thick-cut, all-white chicken fillet with a crispy golden outside [with] pepper jack cheese, sliced jalapeños … red jalapeño spread” on a Brioche bun. Of course, I used the past tense because the sandwich doesn’t seem to be currently available. I don’t have pricing information anymore (the receipt has long since been lost to the recycling bin), but this was the most expensive part of an expensive meal (this lunch seriously cost around $30).

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To get back on topic, like the Garlic Parmesan Chicken, the Fiery Ultimate Chicken Sandwich had a pungent smell. The sandwich’s main odor came from the pickled jalapeños on top of the sandwich. It permeated the car before I even unwrapped the sandwich. As I peeled away the foil, the sandwich looked like it was going to be a mess. Sauce and cheese were already oozing out the sides, and to be honest, considering the cramped quarters of my car (plus my shock upon realizing I didn’t receive what I’d intended to order) I wasn’t looking forward to eating it.

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My first few bites had a bacon-y taste, which was disconcerting because there was no bacon on the sandwich. This taste only appeared when I had bites which didn’t have any of the sauce. As I got further into the sandwich, the jalapeño taste took precedence. It wasn’t an overwhelming heat, but I was starting to feel a tickle at the back of my throat. I should also note that sensation was solely from the jalapeño spread. Due to suboptimal sandwich construction, the pickled jalapeños were only on one half of the sandwich.

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While I normally disdain cheese as a topping for a chicken sandwich, I have to compliment Sonic here. The cheese was nice and gooey, It didn’t bunch up or congeal or get too messy on its own. While I’m not sure it added much (unless it somehow was the source of that bacon taste?), it wasn’t unwelcome.

I finally hit the pickled jalapeños on the back half of the sandwich, and things started to get a little heated in the car. And by things, I mean me. It was spicy. Swallowing was becoming a chore, and because they didn’t add any lettuce or tomato or other cooling agent to the sandwich, eating provided no refuge. I was taking gulps of my slush (Cherry Ocean Water!) after pretty much every bite at this point, as the jalapeño spread and pickled jalapeños completely dominated everything in the sandwich. I think everyone knows what pickled jalapeños taste like, but the red jalapeño spread deserves some detail. It had flecks of pepper actually in the spread, and aside from the hotness, it had some acidity (I’m assuming some sort of vinegar) to contrast the rest of the flavors in the sandwich.

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As usual with a Sonic sandwich, the chicken was juicy and had a nice crunch. I couldn’t taste if it was well seasoned because my mouth was on fire, but I’m sure it would have been fine on its own.

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The eating experience was surprisingly clean. There wasn’t much leakage with the sandwich, which had been a serious worry with eating in my car. Any dripping was going to stain my pants, and luckily they survived to live another day. If I hadn’t been eating the Garlic Parmesan Chicken with this, I wouldn’t have needed many napkins at all. And though I don’t always like Brioche buns, the bread didn’t fall apart and it kept the sandwich ingredients in place.

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While the Fiery Ultimate Chicken Sandwich had some highlights, I’m not sure this is something I’d want to experience again. It certainly packed enough of a punch for me to consider it the spiciest fast food item I’ve ever eaten. Real heat seekers may find this lacking, but amateurs like me will be more than satisfied. However, the heat become too much towards the end, and the sandwich suffered. It needed some sort of vegetable to provide a break. Also, that bacon taste never went away. That may have been a store specific problem, but it counts here. Lastly, I ordered a cheeseburger.

After the Sriracha craze a few years ago, where it seemed like half the internet was composed of love letters to the sauce, things have calmed down. It has settled in as a good hot sauce, different than a Tabasco or Frank’s in taste and texture, but good in the right amounts on the right foods rather than slathered onto everything. Wendy’s, in their laudable quest to ensure I have new content as long as I continue to update this blog, decided to utilize Sriracha on their Spicy Chicken Sandwich (IMO, the GOAT of fast food chicken sandwiches). I originally wasn’t going to try this, but after a request from a loyal reader, I decided to eat the Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich.

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The Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich is priced at $5.49 (!) for the sandwich and $8.19 for a meal with a medium soda and fries. According to Wendy’s, the Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich is their “iconic Spicy Chicken, topped with one of kind Sriracha Jack Cheese, thick-cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, creamy Sriracha aioli, spring mix, and red onion … on a toasted Sriracha-infused bakery-style bun.” The sandwich was presented in a box, but it was so large that it was awkward to pick it up, which I remember happening before at Wendy’s. If these boxes are here to stay, they need to make them larger so one’s fingers can get around the sandwich.

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Upon opening the box, the sandwich smelled great; it was that spicy fried chicken aroma which I’ll never tire of. The bun looked bland. I originally thought it was a Brioche bun, but Fortune has corrected me. I would have preferred a regular seeded bun, but Wendy’s doesn’t actually serve those, so I’m tilting at windmills here.

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I lifted up the bun and saw the inevitable raw red onion. I did my best to take it all off, but I know I missed at least part of that mess. I also saw that the cheese hadn’t really melted yet. The sandwich, in particular the chicken, didn’t taste cold, so I don’t know why the cheese didn’t melt, but maybe Wendy’s needs to raise the temperature on their food holders.

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The bun was toasted and tasted like wheat…. with spice. It was a little weird and I wasn’t 100% certain that it was spicy until I confirmed it on the Wendy’s website. It was a nice touch to add Sriracha, but it didn’t stand out unless I was eating the bun without anything else. The chicken was a regular spicy chicken patty. No complaints, it was great. That Sriracha aioli was basically Sriracha sauce cut with some mayo. Since they couldn’t just spread Sriracha on the damn sandwich without scorching everyone’s taste buds, this was the way to go. It became easily spreadable while retaining its heat.

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I did manage to get one bite with every ingredient (including the onion). Of course, the onion overpowered everything. In the non-onion bites, the bacon was a standout in the sandwich. Wendy’s puts bacon on everything, and it worked really well here. It was smoky and crispy and helped balance every other ingredient which contained Sriracha. They were also good about putting enough bacon on the sandwich so that almost every bite had some. The Sriracha Jack Cheese, as mentioned before, wasn’t full melted. The cheese didn’t have a strong taste and if it hadn’t; been on the sandwich, I doubt I would have missed it.

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Through the first half of the sandwich, the Sriracha Spicy Chicken Sandwich tasted like a Spicy Chicken Sandwich turned to 11. Even though Sriracha was the star, the heat built steadily. My mouth wasn’t on fire from the first bite. I could see anyone who is sensitive to spice not liking this sandwich, because it is more intense than the Spicy Chicken sandwich. To help make this more palatable to more people, I think adding a tomato slice would have helped. I’m actually surprised the sandwich didn’t have a tomato, considering we got raw onion

 

While on the subject of vegetables, I do need to compliment the spring mix. Wendy’s has really stepped up their game in this area recently, and I do appreciate their effort. By giving better greens on the sandwich, it feels less like a fast food burger. I applaud the move away from pale, limp iceberg lettuce. When talking about a bacon spicy fried chicken sandwich, this is a minor point, but it’s the little things that add up to create a better whole.

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One of my usual Wendy’s complaints, and a distinct worry when I started eating this particular sandwich, was that it was going to be terribly messy. The sandwiches themselves don’t stay together, sauce leaks everywhere, and I need about twenty napkins to get through the experience, not including extra napkins if I plan on typing notes for this blog. I can say that the Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich did stay together with minimal leakage. The bread was strong enough to keep everything in one place and soak up the sauce to ensure it didn’t get on my hands.

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As mentioned above, the Sriracha Spicy Chicken Sandwich was hot, but not overwhelmingly so. It was a well put together sandwich where everything made sense (except the onion) and worked together to make a really good eating experience. Though the use of the Sriracha makes this a gimmick item that will never become a permanent staple of the menu, I do hope it’s brought back for return engagements in the future so anyone who likes the Spicy Chicken Sandwich but wants something a bit spicier can give this a try. If you’re in a Wendy’s and see this on the menu, it is definitely worth your time.

Days like today are why I started this blog. Today’s item was the most requested post I’ve had since I started the blog (yes, I will take requests within reason). Even I was curious how the hell they were going to pull this off. Without further adieu, today, I review Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa.

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I’m late to this party, since I was abroad when it was released (see the Burger King Italian Stacker post). Needless to say, I was incredibly excited for the chance to finally try this Frankenstein. I had flashbacks to KFC’s Double Down, which used fried chicken as the ‘bread’ on a sandwich. Taco Bell was going for the same experience, except they weren’t filling the ‘chalupa shell’ with any meat: just veggies and sauce.

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Taco Bell describes the Naked Chicken Chalupa as “a Chalupa shell made of crispy, marinated all-white meat chicken and filled … with crispy lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese and avocado ranch sauce.” The Naked Chicken Chalupa is $2.99 on its own, pricy for a Taco Bell item, or $5 for a box, which comes with the chalupa, a Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos taco, crunchy taco and medium soda. I ordered the box, plus an extra crunchy taco, because I can’t help myself.

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Before we begin, a quick note: as I wrote the post, I kept alternating between taco/chalupa in describing the food. It is technically called a chalupa, but we all know this is a chicken taco. Don’t be confused.

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The tacos all came in a literal box. When I opened the box and took out the Chalupa (shiny wrapper in the picture), I was struck by how small it was. I think the price relative to the Taco Bell menu, tricked me into thinking this would be larger than it is. Upon taking it out of the wrapping, I was impressed by the breading on the chicken. It had a nice color, and it smelled fantastic. I sized it up, then tried to figure out how to eat it. Yes, I know how to eat it a taco, but it was presented in the cardboard taco holder that the Doritos Locos Taco comes in, which makes it a little awkward to eat. Also, the shell is chicken, which is stiffer than a normal tortilla. When I tried to pick it up, the tomatoes perched on top kept spilled out.

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Eventually, I took my first bite, which was only chicken. It was quite crunchy and was well-seasoned with some spice. The chicken was slightly dry, but I’m going to be grading the meat on a curve here (no pun intended) because to fashion chicken into this shape, I’m sure we’re working with some unnatural additives to the meal.

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My first two bites were only lettuce and chicken. The cheese coverage was lacking, and the aforementioned tomatoes were laying on the table. The lettuce helped to cool some of the spice, which came in handy later, but otherwise, this was just eating some good-tasting, oddly-shaped chicken. By my third bite, I got some of the avocado ranch sauce. It had a light green hue and really went well with the taco. I didn’t really get an avocado taste, but maybe it was just for color purposes. Regardless, I may not love ranch dressing, but it does well when tastefully applied to fried chicken.

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The weird part of the experience is eating a taco with an iceberg lettuce filling. As mentioned above, a lot of my tomatoes fell out, and what little cheese there was was concentrated at the top. With the sauce in the heel of the chicken shell, that meant a lot of chicken and lettuce bites. Those two ingredients are fine, and the chicken definitely carries the flavor of the whole thing, but it would have been nice to have something else in there. My immediate thought was bacon. Any other viable (i.e. available at Taco Bell) meat wouldn’t pair well with the chicken, but bacon would add a different, smoky taste, and extra crunch. I wouldn’t be shocked if this the Naked Chicken Chalupa is released with bacon at some point. The other drawback: I wouldn’t have been opposed to more of the sauce. I didn’t add any sauce on my mown, and since the chicken was a little dry for me, more sauce would have helped.

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As I continued eating, and this seems to be a recurring theme here, is the creeping spice. About halfway through the taco, I needed a soda break, and I definitely felt the heat over the last half of the taco. While on the subject of the shell, the fried chicken held its shape as I ate. It didn’t break or get soggy. The coating didn’t crack and fall to the table. It was really well done.

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Obviously, the easy comparison here is the Double Down, but this is served in a manageable portion. I can understand someone looking at the Double Down and thinking it’s too gross and they didn’t want to/couldn’t eat it. Because of the smaller size here, that’s not valid.

I mentioned at the top that my first impression was that this was smaller than I anticipated. Despite its stature, it was really filling. After finishing the Naked Chicken Chalupa, I realized that I had three more tacos to eat and felt a pang of regret. I ate those tacos, but I didn’t need to order beyond the box. This was really good and unlike other items where I’ve liked them, but they wouldn’t supplant my usual order, if I was at a Taco Bell tomorrow, this would take the place of my usual order. Go for the curiosity, the Instagram likes or the gluttony and don’t be afraid, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The Naked Chicken Chalupa is worth your time, if only to say you ate it. Also, no bread, so less carbs, you’re doing your body a favor!

Bonus Fast Food Connoisseur Spouse Review: This one is good because of the chicken.

 

 

Moving on to the Part II of the Taco Bell Cheesy Core Burrito Series, now we’re focused on the Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito (see the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito review here). Pricing is the same for the Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito as it is for the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito: $2.29 (ground beef), $3.09 (chicken), and $3.29 (steak). It can also be ordered in a box for $6.39 and comes with a Doritos Locos Taco, a crunchy taco and a soda. To make the comparison easier, I also selected the ground beef option for this offering.

I went to Taco Bell’s site to get the official description, but the page has already been taken down, so perhaps they have already moved on from the Cheesy Core Burrito series. I’ll focus on the ingredients which made an impression, which should hit everything important.

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The first impression upon picking up the burrito was its heaviness, similar to the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito. My first few bites were heavy on the seasoned beef, which was a nice departure from the other burrito. I got a few hints of jalapeño in those bites. I wouldn’t describe it initially as spicy, but just the taste of the pepper itself. I finally grabbed a jalapeño to taste it on its own, and it was a typical pickled jalapeño that you can find in any supermarket. If you like jalapeño peppers or eaten basic stadium nachos before, you know what these taste like. I was a little disappointed, but I’m not sure why I was hoping for fresh jalapeño peppers at Taco Bell. The only textural difference in the burrito came from these jalapeños. I wouldn’t call them crunchy, but there was some bite to them.

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As I continued eating, I realized this burrito is pretty spicy. I never felt like any bites were too hot for my palate, but eating a bunch of pickled jalapeños in one sitting will raise your temperature a few degrees, so the burrito definitely delivered on its spicy promise. When I put down the burrito to jot down some notes, I actually felt a little flush and needed my drink to cool off.

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Unfortunately for the Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito, any bites which didn’t include either beef or jalapeño pepper was quite bland. It seems like the rice and cheese should be the same as in the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito, but they didn’t really have a taste. Maybe the spice from the jalapeños masked it? Luckily, the ingredient coverage on this particular burrito was good, so I didn’t get too many of those bland bites. I also didn’t really have any bites that were only tortilla.

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One problem, which the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito also suffered from, was that the ingredients weren’t really blended together, and I think this is a problem with the basic concept of what they’re selling. By wrapping the tortilla to create this cheesy core, it pretty much divides the burrito. When eating, I can have a cheese and rice bite, or a cheese and meat bite. Bites containing every ingredient were rare. Though they were good, I had way too many bland cheese and rice bites.

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The Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito was fine. I know that’s not much of a conclusion, but I don’t have too much to say about it. When everything came together, I thought it was good, but that didn’t happen often enough. It also greatly suffered in comparison with the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito, which I ate right before. The chips were a big difference and I really liked eating that one more. If you really want spiciness, then I’d just order the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito and get some hot sauce on it. Maybe sneak in some pickled jalapeño in your pocket if you’re feeling particularly frisky.

 

Continuing our swing through my past eats, next up is McDonald’s Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken, which no longer appears to be available. The McChicken was originally brought back to the McDonald’s menu as a cheaper alternative to the Deluxe Chicken sandwiches with the introduction of the Dollar Menu. There was a distinct difference between the sandwiches. While the deluxe sandwiches had a piece of chicken breast that you could imagine eating in a restaurant, the McChicken never conjured such an image. It reminded me more of a dining hall chicken sandwich. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it was a distinctly different experience when you chose the lower price point, as opposed to ordering a double cheeseburger vs. a Quarter pounder (another dollar menu v regular sandwich distinction).

As McDonald’s raised prices and attempted to move away from the Dollar Menu, they needed new ways to induce people to spend more than a buck on a cheap chicken sandwich. Thus was born the Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken. Though it had been available for some time, I ate it as I was driving across the country, somewhere on I-40 in Southern California. I ordered it as a supplement to my regular meal. The price at the time was $2, so those extra accoutrements were not cheap.

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Opening up the paper wrapper, it looked like a regular McChicken. It’s an unassuming sandwich. Seedless bun, chicken patty thin, not very greasy. Taking a sample of the chicken patty before digging into the sandwich as a whole, it already had some spice in the breading! I was taken aback because I figured this would just be a regular McChicken with some new toppings slapped on top, but McDonald’s actually made some effort here, and it showed. In addition, the patty itself was juicy and crunchy. Honestly, if you took away the bread and the toppings, I’d have eaten the chicken patty on its own.

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As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s bacon, because they make it but too crisp for my liking. However, it worked on this sandwich. I didn’t get the texture as much, so the smokiness just paired well with the overall spiciness of the sandwich.

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When I first saw that the sandwich included buffalo and ranch flavors, I assumed there was a buffalo ranch sauce. Nope. Instead we had two sauces added. I generally like buffalo sauce and am not a fan of ranch. However, on its own, the buffalo sauce was too spicy for the overall sandwich and it took over the taste. When I had a bite with both sauces, they combined really well. Still, it’s a little odd that McDonald’s didn’t spring for a single sauce.

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The only ingredient which detracted from the sandwich was the lettuce. To use the McChicken vs. the deluxe sandwiches as a point of comparison again, the Deluxe sandwiches usually have a large piece or two of lettuce, whereas the McChickens have cheaper shredded lettuce. Whether by design or worker indifference, this sandwich had too much shredded lettuce. I kept picking it off the sandwich because it was taking up too much of each bite. This would have been better served with one piece of iceberg lettuce to cool off the sandwich a bit. Nothing more.

Judged in isolation. the Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken was a worthy addition to the menu. They didn’t shy away from heat. The Bacon was good. The ranch paired well with the buffalo sauce, and I wish McDonald’s didn’t discontinue the spicy chicken patty

I think if McDonald’s wanted, it could pair the toppings with one of the premium chicken breast fillets and charge more for the sandwich. It’d be a worthy competitor to Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

The drawback was its awkward price point. It’s a fine snack, but it’s too small on its own to serve as the focal point of a meal, but also a bit too much sandwich to supplement a regular meal. As someone who always gets a value meal at McDonald’s, I’d need to juggle my usual ordering pattern if I wanted to order this particular sandwich, and I’m too set in my ways to do that. Maybe for the person who regularly picks and chooses items off the value meal, that’s a viable option, but I’d probably pass on this in the future. You know, if they still sold it.

 

I don’t like Subway and it irritates me that so many people do. I realize that is a bold statement to begin a two-part review of Subway items, but I think it’s important to expose any potential bias so readers can try to filter that out and make their own decisions. I think my dislike comes from growing up in Massachusetts, where you can’t shake a stick without hitting a sub shop. Not all sub shops are great, mind you, but generally you can get a good sandwich with fresh ingredients. It may not cost $5, but it’s good. The $5 foot longs, I guess are a good deal if you like bread and lettuce sandwiches. They put so little meat (of dubious quality) on their subs, that when you create your sandwich, you’re really just choosing which seasonings/sauces you like because that’s all you taste.

Our treasure awaits!

Our treasure awaits!

Well, now with that screed out of the way, let’s get down to business, shall we? When I first saw Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt, I put it on my list, and hoped that by the time it came up, Subway would have discontinued it.  No such luck. When I stepped to the counter to seal my fate, I will admit I had no idea what I was doing. I haven’t been in a Subway for at least four years, and I was slightly overwhelmed by all the choices. I tried to recreate my sandwich as close as the advertisement as possible, but since I couldn’t find a standard, some of the ingredients were just my choice. I wound up getting it on white bread with green peppers, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, creamy buffalo sauce and cheddar cheese, on top of the standard chicken, enchilada sauce and Fritos. The sandwich itself was $5.25 for a 6 inch sub, so this isn’t part of the $5 foot long promotion. However, as a six inch sub, it is fairly filling if you aren’t starving.

Old Glory

Old Glory

There's a lot going on here

There’s a lot going on here

Subway says “Crunch into a pile of Fritos placed right on top of tender pulled chicken and authentic enchilada sauce for a new satisfyingly delicious bite of flavor you can’t find anywhere else!” I unwrapped the sandwich and… it looked like a mess. Maybe I put too many toppings on it, but it was messy. The bread did hold up better than I thought it would though. Other than some seepage at the end, I wasn’t overly reliant on napkins.

Sandwich guts

Sandwich guts

My first bite was mainly bread, which was crusty and warm. Not a bad start. My second bite was really spicy. Almost too spicy. The jalapenos, green peppers and buffalo sauce definitely gave me a friendly hello. My throat was slightly burning and I needed a little timeout before I could continue. After, I got a bit of the Mexican flavor, which I assume was the enchilada sauce. I could taste the cumin and cayenne. I can’t attest to its authenticity, but it was fine. When I finally got to the Fritos, they definitely shone through all the other flavors. They provided crunch, more so than the bread. Their flavor got lost in all the spiciness unless I was paying attention to them though.

Concentrated chicken

Concentrated chicken

Stringy chicken, sorry for the blurriness

Stringy chicken, sorry for the blurriness

The chicken was a problem. First, as I mentioned above, there probably wasn’t enough of it. Part of the problem is a distribution issue, it’s all concentrated at the fold of the bread, which did not cover a large surface area. Certain bites were solely bread and buffalo sauce, then I got a veggie bite with Fritos, then a chicken/Frito bite. The flavors need to be more evenly distributed. Second, even if there had been more chicken, it still didn’t taste good. When I isolated some bits of it, it looked dark, so I’m guessing it was thigh meat. It was stringy and tasted processed (and this is coming from someone who LOVES chicken nuggets). Other than that, there was no real flavor to it.

Buffalo sauce spillage

Buffalo sauce spillage

So, I wasn’t a huge fan of this. The chicken seemed to be there solely as a delivery system for the enchilada sauce, which wasn’t even terribly strong to begin with. The creamy buffalo sauce definitely delivered a more prominent flavor. To tie this back to the my opening paragraph, this is going to taste like the toppings you choose for it, because the chicken and enchilada sauce are not flavorful enough nor prevalent enough to take center stage. Maybe if you got the double meat option it’d be better, but then we’re edging close to $7 for the sandwich, and at that price, just go to a deli and get a real sandwich (or, you know, a Mexican restaurant for an actual enchilada).

The end

The end

Apologies again for the delay between posts, but there will be THREE (3) coming up this week to make up for things. First up, Burger King’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich… AGAIN.

The idea to come back to certain items was suggested to me when I first started the blog, and it was an idea that I filed away. I didn’t expect to come back to a product so quickly because I have so many current products on my list to review. However, sometimes circumstances get in the way, and you find yourself at a Burger King drive-thru at 9:30PM, having not eaten since 10AM and mistakenly ordering a Spicy Chicken Sandwich instead of an Original Chicken Sandwich! Here we are!

The focus of my original review was that the sandwich was good, it just wasn’t spicy, which is a problem for a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. However, I can now safely report that the sandwich is spicy!!! I have no reasons why the sandwich suddenly had some bite, other than maybe they needed a few weeks to work the kinks out of their product (which I assume had been taste tested for several months before roll out, but whatever).

Once again, the breading had a reddish tinge to it (sorry, no photos for this post), and everything else was the exact same as the Original Chicken Sandwich: lettuce, mayo, and oblong bun. The patty was still crispy and juicy on the inside (which is a compliment to that location for having fresh food that late). The spice wasn’t overwhelming. I didn’t find myself gasping or needing gulps of water to calm down my taste buds. However, it was noticeable, and it definitely adds something to a sandwich that can be very plain.

I know this is a short post, but after I ate the sandwich, I did feel obligated to update my thoughts since the sandwich was different, and now that we have some spice, I actually would recommend it.

 

Think of this post as an appetizer for the main course. I haven’t purposefully shied away from value menu items, they just haven’t been as pressing for me as premium offerings, since I’m more likely to order a combo meal, as opposed to building a meal from the value menu. However, those items deserve attention too. Value item posts may be a little briefer than regular items (notwithstanding this long-winded introduction), but I’ll try not to ignore them in the future. Onward, ho!

Wendy’s has been advertising their value menu chipotle sandwiches for some time now, so I’m happy I stopped in last week so I could finally try one.  Since my main meal was a burger, I decided to try the Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken Sandwich, so the taste would be completely fresh. From the outside, this isn’t a large sandwich, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s price is only $1.29, and it works as an addition to a combo meal or as a quick snack.

Looks unassuming, but it packs some bite

Looks unassuming, but it packs some bite

Wendy’s describes the sandwich as a “crispy chicken patty loaded up with pepper-Jack cheese, zesty jalapenos and spicy chipotle sauce.” As a big fan of their Spicy Chicken Sandwich, I knew they wouldn’t let me down and not bring some spice to the proceedings. The chicken itself was good. The breading has a nice crunch, and the patty was surprisingly juicy. I tried one of the jalapeños on its own and zesty wouldn’t be the word I’d use. They were pickled. Pickled jalapeños are good, so I don’t know why Wendy’s needed to obfuscate the actual flavor.  As for the heat, I could definitely taste it, but it wasn’t overwhelming. Perhaps that’s because the peppers are sliced very thin. The thinness made me worry they would get lost in the sandwich, but they held up well. Also (surprise, surprise!), the jalapeños were only on one side of the sandwich. I generally like pepper-jack cheese, but a full slice is probably too much for a sandwich that isn’t very large. Before I got a bite with everything, the cheese was taking over the taste of the sandwich.

Bright colors

Bright colors

When I finally got a bite with all of the elements, it was pretty good. Like I mentioned with the jalapeños, you could definitely taste the spice, but I wasn’t gasping for water. The spicy chipotle sauce was bright orange with some red flecks in it. The color was… uh, bright, and I understand that it may be off putting for some, but it didn’t taste disgusting. Also, and this is very key, the sandwich was not over sauced. I appreciated not needing to wipe my face after every bite.

Sandwich guts!

Sandwich guts!

I’d call this a successful sandwich. One minor tweak may be to give a half slice of cheese, like McDonald’s does with the Filet-O-Fish, just to prevent the cheese from being too prominent, but it isn’t a deal breaker. If I’m at Wendy’s and want something to add to my combo meal, I generally go for chili with cheese, but I’d consider this as a substitute in the future if I wanted something with chicken and not beef.

One last thing, and though I hate to end this on a down note, I feel like I should mention it. There was a hair on the burger, so I didn’t actually eat the whole thing, I wound up ripping about a 1/3 of it off. Normally I wouldn’t mention this, but as I’ll write in my next review, there was a hair on that burger too. That kinda ruined the experience of the lunch.

Before we begin, some quick housekeeping on the blog. I apologize for not posting last week. I’d like to give some valid reason for that, but I don’t. Laziness and the Super Bowl. That’s it. Sorry. However, my eating did not abate! Therefore, expect two posts, in addition to this one over the next week.

'S' is for sandwich, because it definitely doesn't mean spicy.

‘S’ is for sandwich, because it definitely doesn’t mean spicy.

For this post, we’re thankfully moving on from the unholy combination burgers of the last few weeks. Burger King just released a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. From the commercials it appears to be like their Original Chicken Sandwich, except spicy. As a long time fan of the Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the style of Burger King’s Original Chicken Sandwich, this one had me really excited. Our base here is already good, so we could only improve, right?

In all her glory

In all her glory

For a change of pace, I decided to dine in the restaurant this week. I wasn’t sure if taking the food home had been causing problems in previous weeks, and I didn’t want to take a chance. Of course, it took so long for my food to be prepared that they actually apologized to me. That never happens. Anyway, another medium meal this week, costing $8.07. I’d have liked it to be cheaper, since this is not a large sandwich, but I was full at the end of the meal, so I can’t complain too much.

Sandwich guts

Sandwich guts

The sandwich came in the standard paper of the Original Chicken Sandwich with a black ‘S’ written on the paper. When opened it looked…. exactly like the Original Chicken Sandwich, but the chicken was a reddish color. The patty was a bit too small for the oblong bun, but not overly so.  Some shifting of the patty allowed for no chickenless bites.

That ratio of lettuce to chicken can't be right...

That ratio of lettuce to chicken can’t be right…

After a lettuce dump

After a lettuce dump

Burger King describes the Spicy Chicken Sandwich as “made with white-meat chicken and a light breading mixed with cayenne and black pepper. Topped with a simple combination of fresh lettuce and creamy mayonnaise and served on a toasted sesame seed bun.” My first bite was good! It tasted exactly like the Original Chicken Sandwich. And I mean exactly. No spice. Chicken was still juicy and crunchy, but I really couldn’t tell the difference between this sandwich and the Original Chicken Sandwich.  For my final bite, I made sure it was just chicken, and still no spice! Perplexing. In addition, there was waaaay too much lettuce on the sandwich. Maybe there was extra to serve as a cooling agent for the spiciness of the chicken, or maybe the lettuce was just carelessly strewn by someone who does not take pride in their sandwich work. However it got on there, it shouldn’t have. As you can see from the picture above, there was twice as much lettuce as chicken. I had to drop a bunch of it just so I could taste the other components of the sandwich.

It looks like it should be spicy

It looks like it should be spicy

So this a mixed reaction. As I mentioned, I like the Original Chicken Sandwich, and if you like it too, you will like the Spicy Chicken. However, if you order this expecting some actual heat, either don’t bother, or bring along some hot sauce (and I do like the imagery of people ordering this with bottles of Sriracha or Crystal’s or Frank’s in their hands). So we took a positive step this week. Hopefully the next post contains an unqualified approval.

The aftermath

The aftermath