Falafel is easily one of my favorite foods. Alas, the only way to get it around here is to make it myself... and I do... but not as often as I want to eat it due to the fried oil mess it makes. Which means falafel consumption is usually reserved for when I am traveling. Except there hasn't been any of that in a year-and-a-half, so I've been sadly falafel-deficient all this time.
So imagine my surprise when I was at a QFC on the other side of the state and spotted "falafel street wraps" in the frozen foods section from TaDah Foods for $3.99 each! It sounded too good to be true, so I bought the three flavors they had... enjoyed them... then immediately searched for a place locally that sold them (which ended up being Fred Meyer, and they had all four flavors on sale for $3.49). Sweet!
Now, before we get to my reviews, a few things...
And now, on with the reviews...
Sweet Spicy Harissa and Labne. ★★★★☆
Easily my favorite of the four flavors. The harissa (a favorite spice blend of mine) adds just enough heat while still allowing the falafel flavor to shine through. And the creamy labne (similar Greek yogurt, but thicker like cream cheese) was the perfect accompaniment. I could eat these every day, and probably would if I could afford it.
Spicy Brown Sugar Harissa Hummus.★★★☆☆
This should have been my favorite by a country mile because the combination of harissa spice, hummus, and brown sugar is a holy trifecta of flavor. But the harissa is just too much here. I love heat in my food, but the harissa is so overpowering that you barely know you're eating falafel, as it's completely buried. My guess is that they were needing to compensate for the disgusting whole wheat wrap, and just piled on heat to make it go away. Well, they succeeded. Too well. If they would have toned down the spicy a notch, this would be heaven in your microwave oven.
Fresh Lemon-Garlic Hummus. ★★☆☆☆
I am not a huge fan of lemon when it's in something that's not lemonade or lemon cake or lemon cream pie... but it kinda works here. Thankfully they didn't add so much lemon that it completely overwhelms everything else... you still get a nice garlic note and a decent hummus vibe... but this ended up being a bit boring to me. Oh I'll still buy them, that's for sure. A sprinkling of feta on top did wonders. But with two other wraps I enjoy far more, it won't be as often.
Feta Green Pepper Salsa. ★☆☆☆☆
Given my love of feta, I assumed this would be a favorite. It wasn't. First of all, the amount of feta is slight. There's not enough to really register. Second of all, the fibrous nature of the pepper chunks was a weird fit with the falafel patties. I far, far preferred the creamy texture of either the hummus or labne in the other three flavors. This wasn't awful by any means, but I won't be buying it again when there are three others I'd rather have.
And there you have it. I am so very, very happy to have a new easy-to-prepare meal sitting in my freezer that I can heat and enjoy in minutes. For a falafel-loving guy like me, they are as dreamy as frozen gets. No, they aren't ever going to replace a falafel pita sandwich with crispy falafel balls right out if the fryer... but nothing ever could.
If TaDah wanted to make a falafel street wrap that would really push my buttons, here is what I want from their next flavor... FLOUR WRAP... NOT WHOLE WHEAT! ROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUS! FETA CHEESE! AND A DASH OF HARISSA SPICE. That's it. That would be epic. ★★★★★
Fingers crossed. This combination seems like it would be far more popular with the food-buying public given how roasted red pepper hummus is like ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR FLAVORS OF HUMMUS IN THE USA. So maybe?
P.S. It's the graphic designer in me that notices these things, but... falafel patties must be difficult to photograph, because they Photoshopped in the exact same patty on all four boxes (though the Feta Green Pepper Salsa patty does have a different texture Photoshopped onto it?). Regardless, whomever did the actual compositing work did a darn fine job of it! And I am most impressed with the packaging design too. Fantastic color distinction to separate the flavors on the freezer shelf. Appetizing photography. Fantastic branding for the TaDah! company identity. An all-around great job at a time where packaging design just keeps getting worse and worse. I think the only thing I would change is to make the flavor larger so that it's easier to read from a distance (this would have been easily accomplished by pushing the text a little higher on the box, using a slightly more narrow typeface for the flavor description, and possibly eliminating the word "with" from the front of each flavor, which doesn't really add anything but an extra word).
Don't fear the reaper, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Benson! Robert Guillaume passed away this last week and it got me to thinking about the various roles he's played in his long acting career. Primary of which, was "Benson" on Soap (and the subsequent spin-off), where his sarcastic wit was showcased to hilarious effect. My personal favorite role was Isaac Jaffe on Sports Night, a role which is surprisingly relevant today...
You, sir, will be sorely missed.
• Think! Cost to renew my nine Nest security camera "Nest Aware" subscriptions annually? $500. Cost to renew Amazon's new Cloud Cam security camera subscription plan annually for triple the storage time and up to ten cameras? $200. This means I could essentially buy three new Amazon cameras every year PLUS get a superior subscription service for the cost of my Nest subscription alone. Gee... let me think real hard about what I should do. What to do? What to do? It's a quandary, that's for sure...
• Balls! I made falafel for the first time!
My balls were totally delicious.
• Mickey Hotel! Disney just announced that Disneyland will be getting a brand new 700-room hotel which will open in 2021...
Compared to the amazing Grand Californian hotel across the way, it's kind of boring-looking. Not very "Disney-Special" to me.
The most interesting bit of information in the press release is not the hotel itself, but its location. In order to build the thing, Disney will be ripping out the West end of Downtown Disney. Which is currently occupied by ESPN Sports Zone, the AMC 12 theater, a Starbucks, The Rainforest Cafe and, ZOMFG... EARL OF SANDWICH! The LEGO Store is spared though...
The money that a hotel generates is probably huge compared to the royalties from everything it's replacing. With this in mind, I don't know why A) They are only putting in 700 rooms when there looks like there's room for more, and B) they haven't expanded The Grand Californian (the "Redwood Creek Challenge Trail," cool as it may be, is hardly a critical part of California Adventure, so it seems a natural to rip it out and put in another 150 rooms).
• Payola! HEALDINE: Senate votes to kill new rule allowing class-action lawsuits against banks; Pence casts deciding vote. — FUCKING PIECES OF SHIT!!! No recourse now... NONE... when big banks fuck you over. You are forced to accept binding arbitration or small court settlements instead of having your day in court. And, of course, data breaches due to shitty bank security are now basically a crime without meaningful punishment. All because the fucking Trump Administration and their Republican lackeys have their mouths so deep on Big Finance cock for cash that they don't give a shit who it hurts... so long as the big paychecks keep coming their way. And OF COURSE they are re-framing this act of utter submission to bank payola as a "good move" for consumers because "frivolous lawsuit costs get passed on to consumers." All 100% bullshit of course. We STILL end up paying... just in a different way. Meanwhile, any and all protections are now ALL THEIRS. Looks like we've got ourselves a government by the wealthy, for the wealthy.
• Harrassment! Everywhere you look, it's the same damn thing. I do not know Robert Scoble personally. All I know is that he worked at Microsoft then got famous for conducting crappy "WHO ARE YOU?!?" videos with happening tech industry people. I also know that he went into rehab a couple years ago because he was accused of shitty and harassing behavior towards women when he was drunk and high.
I also know one of these women.
Now it's coming out that he didn't stop with his shitty harassment of women AFTER he was supposedly "cured" of the things he blamed his behavior on. Typical of these types of situations, people are defending him because he's married and supposedly a "good guy." Meanwhile... there's the women whom he's sexually harassed who are having to deal with the fallout of HIS crap.
I believe them. Scoble may be married with kids and be known as a "good guy" in certain circles, but obviously that does NOT exclude him from being a habitual sexual harasser.
On his Facebook profile, Scoble has the douchey description of himself as "Authority on what is next," even though he just talks about what OTHER PEOPLE are doing. I hope "what is next" for him is somebody pressing charges. The more times that shit like this results in public shaming and even more public punishment, the more these reprehensible fuckers will think twice before being assholes to their fellow human beings.
All our times have come, see you for more bullets next Sunday!
Cannot. Seem. To. Catch. Up. On. Sleep.
No matter how tired I am, I lay down to try and get some rest only to have my brain explode all over the place with every thought imaginable racing through my head. You'd think at some point my mind would give up and pass out but, alas, no.
And so I drove across the state for work... three hours of pretty much this...
All while fighting nausea and exhaustion. Thank heavens for Coke and Slayer.
After arriving in Spokane, I dropped by Pita Pit to get my falafel on...
I love you, Pita Pete!
Well, that's kind of a lie... I actually checked into my hotel before heading to The Pit. Which was not exactly the experience I had hoped for.
As always, I Pricelined hotels when looking for a place to stay. After searching "Express Deals" for a property downtown, there was a 3-star for $105 and, much to my delight, a 4-star available for $120. Normally I'd just take the 3-star, which would have been perfectly fine... but there's only one 4-star hotel in all of Spokane, and it's well worth the $15 extra per night... The Davenport.
It's a hotel with a history. And it's absolutely beautiful. Truly a grand dame of an old hotel that was pretty much condemned back in 1985... but eventually sold, rennovated, and re-opened in 2000.
So I accepted the $120 price, got my reservation at The Davenport, and drove to Spokane happy.
Three hours later, there I was waltzing up to the receiption desk when I am told that my room is not in The Davenport... but instead in The Davenport Tower, which is an entirely different building across the street. Apparently riffraff who arrive via Priceline are not allowed in the "real" hotel, but are instead shunted off-property. This pissed me off more than a little bit, because it's akin to a bait-and-switch operation. They lump two different hotels together, trade off the 4-star reputation of the original, then send you to a different hotel when you get there. Don't get me wrong... the Davenport Tower is a very nice hotel and well-worth the $120 price I paid... it's just not THE Davenport. Had I known this would happen, I would have taken the 3-star option and saved the $30 (total).
I really don't understand how travel sites allow this. These are TWO SEPARATE HOTELS, and should be treated that way.
Anyway, I loaded my luggage back into my car, drove around four blocks of one-way confusion, then checked into Davenport Tower... which has a bizarre kind of "safari" theme throughout.
I guess this shows that anytime something is "too good to be true," it probably is.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to attempt to fall asleep while paintings of zebras and leopards stare down at me.
Put on your Sunday's finest... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Home. I am fascinated by the trend of "micro-living"... otherwise known as really, really small houses. Over the past couple years I keep seeing more and more stories of people giving up on larger homes, simplifying their lives, and moving into tiny places that are perfectly livable thanks to amazing design choices. It's all very zen, and appeals to my desire for living a less complicated life. Now it looks like apartment living has gone micro too, and an article on "The Karl" shows that micro-apartment complexes have some terrific advantages over micro-houses... like communal rooms on the top floor with space that can be used for socializing... something that's tough to do in a micro-home. I have to say, I sure like the floor plan...
Small. Yes. But it's got everything you need, really. I mean, you're not going to raise a family in there, but for a single individual or a couple just starting out, it's perfectly livable. If you're in the city, most of your time will be spent at work and out with friends... all you really need is a place to sleep, poop, change clothes, and eat a meal every once in a while. I don't know that I would want to go quite this small... but the idea of it all intrigues me.
• Onziem. John Oliver has very quickly become an essential voice on world affairs, and it's shocking to see just how easily he is able to take a serious look at complicated issues while adding a comedic slant that in no way diminishes the gravity of the issue. Tonight Oliver had a fascinating take on the horrific level of hate that has been exported to Uganda by US assholes (USholes?)... PLUS an interview with the amazing Pepe Julian Onziema.
This is essential viewing material...
Be sure you watch Part 2 of the interview.
• Fraud. And speaking of John Oliver...
Turns out that "Dr. Oz" actually is the fraudulent piece of shit everybody thought he was all along...
Shocker. I still don't understand why people listen to raging douchebags like this asshole in the first place. Wasn't his motivation for crap like this totally obvious from the start?
• Amy. As if I didn't already have enough reasons to love Amy Adams... here's another one. I've been able to swap my seat a couple times when I've spotted a soldier flying alone, and it's about the best feeling you can have. The first time I gave up my seat it was to a young kid flying back for deployment after a visiting his wife and young daughter (which I leaned from overhearing a conversation he was having with a man next to him). After getting his name off his uniform, I went to the ticket desk and had the gate agent make the swap. I thought it was an anonymous deal, but he wanted to thank me so he waited in First Class after we landed where a flight attendant pointed me out. It was such a little thing for me... but it meant the world to a soldier who was headed back to a job nobody wants to do but, for whatever reason, risks his life to accomplish.
• Falafel. The grocery store here in my little corner of Redneckistan is now selling falafel mix... something I've attempted to purchase locally for years...
Given its Middle East origins, I am sure this will be taken as a sign that sharia law will be enacted any minute now. Oh well... I no longer have to buy falafel via mail order or when I'm in Seattle, so I'll take it.
• LEELOO DALLAS MULTIPASS! I love The Fifth Element. Seriously one of my favorite films of all time. And I loved Gary Oldman in the film, where he played the villainous Zorg brilliantly for all his oddities...
Which is why I was truly hurt when Gary Oldman decided to trash the film in a controversial interview he had in Playboy. Fuck you, Gary Oldman... The Fifth Element was one of the most interesting roles you've ever played!
Enjoy what's left of your weekend, everybody.
My day in pictures...
Yes. They are real. They are delicious.
"Hey Ferb, I know what we're gonna do today!"
So shark extreme I just can't stand it.
Of all the times to be a vegetarian...
Just don't put it in the microwave.
BODDINGTONS!!! (oblique Friends reference).
Not my photo. Not my inappropriate dessert.
As anybody who follows me on Twitter is aware, I have been futilely searching for falafel here in Redneckistan. No local restaurants seem to make it. When I ask for it at the stores, few people even know what it is ("What's a floppal?") and I worry that I'm going to be put on a terrorist watch-list when I try to explain it ("Middle Eastern? LIKE IRAQ?"). A couple stores carry a falafel mix that's kinda okay, but it doesn't taste very falafely when I make it. I'd make my own falafel from scratch, but the recipe for it is huge and complex and I'm just not that smart in the kitchen. Yet.
So, basically, if you have a falafel craving in the valley here, you're kinda fucked.
Perfect Falafel Sandwich taken from Joy of Kosher.
Alas, as a vegetarian, I'm used to getting fucked (in a culinary sense).
Take Olive Garden, for instance. Every time I turn around, they're advertising some new special dish that could be vegetarian, but they screw it up some how. A couple weeks ago, it was Cheese-Filled Soffatelli. Yummy-looking pastries filled with cheese and herbs and junk. But the only way to get them? Served with your choice of beef or chicken...
Of course I could always order them without the beef or chicken, but you pay the same price. I tried negotiating an extra Soffatelli instead of the beef or chicken, but "it doesn't come that way." Oh well.
And now their latest creation is Four Cheese Pastachettis. Yummy ribbons of pasta filled with cheese and herbs and junk. But the only way to get them? Served with your choice of sausage or chicken...
I dunno. Maybe next week I'll go and try begging to see if I can get and extra Pastachetti substituted for the meat. Then prepare for the waiter to stare at me like I'm from outer space and tell me "it doesn't come that way."
But, you know... I'd kill for some good Indian food.
Of course, you can't get Indian food in Redneckistan either.
Guess I'll just have a salad.