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Published on June 7th, 2011 | by Greg


A Ninja, A Food Bar, And Three Mini Cocottes

It sounds like the start to a bad joke. We tried hard to think of a punch­line, as they walk in­to a bar- the kind with al­co­hol, as op­posed to the ed­i­ble kind we’ve got on hand to­day. But we couldn’t re­al­ly think of any­thing that would in­volve a co­cotte, as we weren’t pre­cise­ly sure what a co­cotte was un­til re­cent­ly. And why a trio of them? And why are they minia­ture? These ques­tions, and many more, will be an­swered soon enough. For now, we pon­der Per­fec­tion.

That is to say, Per­fect Foods Bars. Skep­ti­cal at first from the name alone, we were a bit tak­en aback when we no­ticed that they sug­gest­ed re­frig­er­a­tion. These can’t just sit for weeks in the depths of your back­pack wait­ing for use, but in­stead re­quire a bit more care. They hit many of the bul­let points we were in­ter­est­ed in: gluten free, or­gan­ic, high in pro­tein. But we’ve tried so many, and kept com­ing back to the ba­sics ones that are tried and true, like Clif and Larabars on oc­ca­sion. Our va­ri­ety pack in­clud­ed a few fla­vors: Fruit and Nut, Al­mond But­ter, Cran­ber­ry Crunch (Lite), and Peanut But­ter. Each was ac­tu­al­ly sur­pris­ing­ly good- tasty in­stead of taste­less, moist in­stead of throat-chok­ing­ly dry. So of­ten, you need to drink a gal­lon af­ter hav­ing a pow­er bar, but these were much eas­i­er on the lips. The Peanut But­ter were quite pos­si­bly the best of that fla­vor we’ve ev­er tried, and with hon­ey used as the sweet­en­er, tast­ed bet­ter and fresh­er than com­peti­tors. Though hard­er to find and han­dle, the Per­fect Foods bars are worth the trou­ble, and run about $20 for a box of 8.

Noth­ing goes bet­ter with sum­mer than a good blender. Smooth­ies, milk­shakes, malts- if these drinks are in your near fu­ture, you might want to look at your blend­ing im­ple­ment. There are plen­ty of mod­els out there, and we’ve test­ed a few at sev­er­al price points. And, we have to say, you gen­er­al­ly get what you pay for- a cheap blender from Cost­co will get the job down, but is best for oc­ca­sion­al use and sim­ply won’t look that good or of­fer a ton of pow­er. For more se­ri­ous users, you could look at mod­els cost­ing a few hun­dred dol­lars (Vi­ta­mix and Blendtec, we’re look­ing at you)- they fea­ture com­mer­cial qual­i­ty at com­mer­cial prices. In be­tween, we’re hap­py to re­port on a blender that of­fers much of the pow­er- 1000 watts in fact- but at a much more rea­son­able price point.

The Nin­ja NJ600 is an ex­cel­lent blender. In some ways, that doesn’t seem to dif­fi­cult to achieve- it’s a tech­nol­o­gy that has been around since the 1920′s. But, this mod­el is fast and fu­ri­ous at cut­ting things in­to tiny pieces. It doesn’t quite get the su­per-smooth tex­ture that you might want when us­ing greens- they of­fer an­oth­er mod­el that does a bit more in­clud­ing juic­ing. But for frozen drinks and our pur­pos­es, it was per­fect- not too loud, es­pe­cial­ly com­pared to a less-pow­er­ful mod­el op­er­at­ing next to it. It doesn’t of­fer as many speed op­tions as some, a mere three speeds. But, re­al­ly, we didn’t miss the oth­ers at all, even if all three did seem sim­i­lar. The fact is, this thing whipped our smooth­ies in­to shape, and even ice blocks as well. It looks good too, doesn’t take up too much space, of­fers a fair­ly unique blade sys­tem, and a su­per-sol­id and BPA-free plas­tic pitch­er. We loved that you can eas­i­ly take the blade out from the top- safer and more con­ve­nient. This al­so meant clean-up was a breeze com­pared to some oth­er mod­els. Pour­ing was good- the spout was sol­id, as was the han­dle, and bal­ance wasn’t an is­sue. And the pitch­er is plen­ty large at 72 ounces. The Nin­ja is the best blender in it’s class- and it’s on­ly $100.

Fi­nal­ly, what is ce­ram­ic, French, and ap­par­ent­ly Farm Fresh? The Le Creuset Farm Fresh Mi­ni Co­cottes Trio, nice­ly pack­aged in a cute box. In­stead of get­ting some bor­ing col­or, or hav­ing them all be the same, you get three dif­fer­ent shades: fen­nel, cas­sis, and cher­ry. As usu­al with Le Creuset, these are well-made stoneware, and per­fect for a va­ri­ety of us­es. We checked out their rec­om­mend­ed recipes (an en­tire book for them!), each of­fer­ing dish­es with in­di­vid­u­al­ly-sized por­tions- though we had to mod­i­fy the por­tions to fit in­side these co­cottes. Our din­ner par­ty for three was per­fect- egg casseroles, but each a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Handy for flan, cus­tards, French onion soup- the on­ly down­side is that these felt a bit too small. At $60, they are al­so not cheap- but as of press time, we couldn’t ac­tu­al­ly find this par­tic­u­lar set.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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