Category Archives: Snacks

New Orleans Food Tour: Pralines @ New Orleans School of Cooking

Chasing the Eclipse: Gastronomic Notes from a Trip to New Orleans and Dallas.

Wherein we find out that we don’t love pralines

The New Orleans School of Cooking is just across the street from Johnny’s Po-Boys, so after lunch at Johnny’s we headed there to get some pralines. While the New Orleans School of Cooking is an actual school that offers demonstration and hands-on cooking classes, our mule-carriage tour guide had pointed it out to us as a place where to get pralines, another New Orleans specialty.

Pralines are sweet confections of nuts in a caramelized sugar base. In France, these are rather hard, closer to brittle and typically based on almonds. In America, pralines are made with a combination of sugar, butter and cream, milk or half and half and typically pecan based. They are closer to a nutty fudge than a candy.

The New Orleans School of Cooking makes their pralines on site, and they generously offer you samples. They have both plain and a chocolate kind. I preferred the plain but they were too sweet for my taste. I also didn’t really like how soft they were. We bought a couple, but I never actually felt tempted to eat them. Still, if you like fudge and pecans, you’ll probably like them.

New Orleans School of Cooking
524 St. Louis Street
New Orleans, LA
Daily 9am - 5pm

New Orleans Food Tour


Snacks: Shirakiku Curvee Corn Puffs are Deadly

There is no reason why these corn puffs should be soooo addictive

I hate Shirakiku curvee Corn Puffs, the cheeto-like puffs, with a strange, artificial corn potage flavor Mike has been getting from Grocery Outlet. The puffs are extremely addictive. You can be fully committed to eat just one, but before you know it, the whole package will be gone. And it might be a good thing that it is, because once open, they go flat within a day, absorbing humidity you didn’t even know existed in relatively dry California. But they seem to travel directly from your mouth to your blood stream, increasing blood glucose levels to previously unknown possibilities.

The worst part about these chips is that they don’t actually taste good. I don’t think that anyone who pops one into their mouth will be wowed by their flavor. Cheetos are far tastier. It’s hard to describe Curvee corn puffs, particularly if you’ve never had Japanese style corn potage before, but they do taste somewhat of bouillion powder, albeit they’re sweeter and less salty. And yet, their addictiveness cannot be denied.

NYC Food Adventures: Cancun Deli & Grocery

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip
Christopher Rios mural

Yes, the empanadas make it worth a visit

During our brief trip to NYC, we took a tour of the outer boroughs. We visited Harlem, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, and we stopped for food twice. In the Bronx, we purportedly stopped to see a mural of Christopher Rios, a young rapper from the neighborhood who had met an early death. But really, the point was to visit Cancun Deli & Grocery, kitty corner from the mural.

I was happy to stop at Cancun for a couple of reasons. One, is that one of the typical foodie cultural experiences to have in NYC is to stop at a bodega. The second was their empanadas. They were mentioned in glowing terms in many of the reviews of the tour. Apparently, it is indeed visits from tour groups that keep Cancun Deli open – the enterprising owners started giving empanada samples to tour guides that came to visit the mural, and they got hooked. Now they have several tours stopping by daily.

Cancun’s empanadas are made by hand (though by now, they may be assembled by machine) by the owner,  Nathalie Rodriguez, a Dominican immigrant who learned to make empanadas by watching YouTube videos. After tasting them, I can say she found her calling. The fried empanadas, served warm, had a thin, crunchy tasty shell and a generous amount of filling. I ordered the Korean beef empanada and Mike had the standard beef empanada. Mike liked his empanada, which was quite flavorful, but we both loved mine. I don’t think there was much to it, it was basically a bulgogi empanada, which is a brilliant, brilliant idea that I’ll have to try myself (though, while fried empanadas are usually better than oven-baked ones, I’m not a fan of deep frying).

In all, the stop at Cancun was great, and if you happen to be in the neighborhood – or take a tour of the Bronx – make sure you grab an empanada there.

Cancun Deli & Grocery
908 E 163rd St
The Bronx, NYC
(718) 676-9765
7 AM - 10 PM




Denali’s Toast – Recipe

My oldest daughter came up with this loaded toast and liked it so much that she made it again. Denali, the cat, was not very amused, maybe because she knew my daughter wasn’t planning to share. Here is the recipe for anyone in search of inspiration.

Denali’s Toast

Layer in order

  • Sliced bread, toasted
  • Hummus
  • Avocado
  • Sliced or smashed fresh tomatoes
  • Fried egg
  • Season with dill, onion powder, paprika, turmeric and black pepper

Butterfly Crispy Rolls- Mango Flavor – Review

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I got these Butterfly Crispy Rolls at the small 88 market in San Leandro. I didn’t have high expectations for them, but they were very tasty, to the point of being addictive. They are flaky but less dry than I would have thought. I had imagined they would need some filling, but they are flavorful enough that they don’t need it. All in all I’d buy them again.

Lay’s India’s Magic Masala Chips – Review

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We found these chips at Santos’ Spice Market and loved them. As the name implies, they have an Indian spices flavor and they are slightly spicy (I can handle them, but someone who doesn’t like spices at all wouldn’t). They can be pretty addictive. I

Esaki Glico Caplico Mini – Review

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I got these Esaki Glico Caplico Mini Japanese snacks twice now at the large 88 market on East 14th in San Leandro. I don’t recall the exact price, but it was around $4-$5 for the package. They are small wafer cones with a sweet flavored filling, not too disimilar to the filling in an oreo cookie, but lighter and less sweet. They are remarkably delicious.

Each cone is individually packaged and rather small – this is very much a special treat.

Battle of the Snacks Day 5: Eti Pizza Kraker v Orion Mini Sour Candies

Winner: Japan

Sometimes, it’s hard to decide which snack we liked the most, while other times it’s a contest of which we liked the least. The latter was the case on our latest snack testing.

Eti pizza crackers were a pretty big disappointment. The crackers – similar in size to oyster crackers – were dry and had a very mild flavor. Maybe there was some oregano there, but we definitely could not taste pizza. Most of the pack went uneaten (though granted, we had just had dinner so we were pretty full).

Still, if we went to Turkey, we wouldn’t be buying this.

While this tiny candies were new to me, my kids recall buying little fizzy candies that came in soda can lookalikes when they were little. These Orien Mini Sour candies reminded them of them.

It seems that these are supposed to be effervescent as well, but we couldn’t notice any fizzy effect. Still, they had a non-unpleasant sour flavor.

Battle of the Snacks Day 4: Ulker Alpella 3D White Chocolate v. Coris Whistle Soda Candy

Winner: Turkey

Today’s challenge put a white chocolate cookie bar against whistling candies. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize the whistling candies were that, and as just candies they were failures, so the victory went to Turkey

Ulker Alpella 3D White Chocolate is a small pyramidal bar of multiple wafers covered with white chocolate. It was very tasty, though very sweet and pretty one dimensional. Still, it will satisfy your cravings for white chocolate.


According to Wikipedia, “Ülker is a Turkish multinational food and beverage manufacturer based in Istanbul, Turkey. Its products are exported internationally, to 110 countries.  Ülker’s core products are biscuits, cookies, crackers, and chocolates, although it has expanded to other categories.” Alpella is one of their chocolate snack brands.

The Coris Whistle Soda Candy consisted of a small package with all Japanese writing and three flat candies with a whole in the middle. Unfortunately, we didn’t look at the packaging carefully or we might have noticed that the singing birds had a candy in their mouths – but even then I’m not sure we would have realized we were supposed to do the same.

Apparently the point of these candies is to put them in your mouth, blow on them and they produce a whistling sound. I’m sure it would have been fun to try that. As it is, we just ate them and they were OK. They’re chalky, with a sour but otherwise hard to identify flavor.

Battle of the Snacks Day 3: Eti Wanted Karamel vs. Ninjapo Texas Corn Fried Chicken Taste

Winner: Turkey

Day 3 presented us with two very different snacks, and both were surprisingly good. But the Turkish one was so delicious that it was the clear winner.

Eti Wanted Karamel is basically a milk chocolate candy bar filled with caramel.

The chocolate part seems to be aerated chocolate balls, similar to Aero chocolate, dipped in a chocolate layer. It has a nice crunch and together with the caramel, it’s absolutely delicious. I finally get why Turkish treats may actually be a “thing”. This is probably the most delicious chocolate bar I’ve eaten, and I’ve been gorging on Ghirardelli caramel chocolate squares since Christmas.

These bars are made by a company called Eti which manufacturers lots of snacks. They seem to sell not only in Turkey, but in the Balkans, Russia and the Middle East and Africa. I’m sure we’ll be encountering more of their snacks in this box.

Ninjapo Texas Corn Fried Chicken Taste is another puffed corn snack, this time with “fried chicken” flavor.

As with the last one we tried, it was a little weird at first but it quickly grew on us. I can’t say it actually tasted anywhere near chicken flavor, but the savory flavor was very satisfying.

While we enjoyed both snacks, the Turkish chocolate was so good that it would have been very, very hard to beat.