September 26, 2008

Erupting in mediocrity

It's got a pink taco shell! That means it has to be spicy! ... Right?

... Well ... no.

The pink taco shell, of course, adorns Taco Bell's latest cheap creation, the Volcano Taco. And it certainly makes the taco stand out from the crowd. You don't see many pink tacos.

At least you didn't see many pink tacos a few months ago. Now you can see a bunch when you head to a food court at the mall or take a peek in the window of your neighborhood Taco Bell.

That's not because the volcano tacos are particularly spicy. It's probably because they're cheap -- 89 cents to be exact. And when you don't have to pay a premium for a novelty taco shell, it's bound to be a good deal.

Aside from the peculiar pigment, the only real difference between a Volcano Taco and a regular Taco Bell taco is what Taco Bell calls "cheesy lava sauce." If we're talking flavor, it's neither cheesy nor lava-like. If we're talking cool factor, then the lava sauce is most definately cheesy. Lava sauce on a Volcano Taco -- just throw in some "basaltic vinaigrette" for an explosive good time.

But the taco isn't necessarily bad. That cheesy sauce might have a corny name, but it does add a nice texture and moisture to the snack. Taco Bell tacos typically provide a tasty set of mouthfuls for a low price, and this one is no different.

It's just not spicy. And for something that's called a "Volcano Taco," that can be a sizable fault.

Three sporks out of five.

September 2, 2008

More fare from the fair

The 2008 New York State Fair ended yesterday, leaving a nice aftertaste in my mouth. I made a second trip to the fairgrounds in Syracuse to try a few more foods. So if you're finding yourself getting indigestion from fair fare withdrawal, check out these review snippets.

$1 baked potato
5/5 sporks

Snuggled in the back corner of the horticulture building is one of the true gems of the fair: a stand selling $1 baked potatoes. You choose which toppings garnish your spud, making a delicious tater that matches your taste. I went with butter, sour cream and shredded cheese. My potato was piping hot and baked to perfection -- soft but not dried out.

Roasted corn on the cob
4/5 sporks
These ears are roasted while still in their husks, keeping in all sorts of moisture and sweetcorn flavor. These $3 ears are peeled and can be dunked in a vat of melted butter before they're handed to you. The only downside to corn on the cob is that it can get caught in your teeth.

Beer battered chicken sandwich
3/5 sporks
Plenty of crispy golden battering is sandwiched between two hearty pieces of bun, a nice piece of lettuce and an absolutely monstrous slice of tomato. Unfortunately, there isn't much chicken sandwiched between that breading. The $5 item still tastes good, but it could be called a "beer batter sandwich" just as easily.

All the fair food was pretty good. Just thinking about it has my heart burning for some more. But the smorgasbord of vendors won't be back for another year. That's probably a good thing -- my bank account needs the time to climb back up, and my cholesterol needs the time to fall back down.