February 15, 2011

Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle

I have a personal adage that eating Frosted Mini Wheats directly from the box will leave you high and dry. The cereal is absolutely delicious, but it sucks up moisture to the point that you can't eat more than a few cubes unless you reconstitute them in a bowl of milk.

That's a big downfall, as many of the best cereals are at least as good when dry than when drenched in dairy. Reese's Puffs, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes -- I'd just as soon eat all of them straight from the box as in a bowl.

This shortcoming always left Mini Wheats playing from behind in competitions for best cereal. Today that's changed, though. Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle, a new variation on the tried-and-true shredded wheat, make for great snacking from the hand.

Aside from the ungainly name, Frosted Mini Wheats Fruit in the Middle are an attractive package. Take your standard rectangular prism of shredded wheat, top it with the familiar snowy-roof header of frosting, then stuff it with purple berry flavoring.

The result is a little less berry than I'd like -- it's more grape jelly than the blackberry patch -- but is still very appealing. Each bite-sized Mini Wheat imparts plenty of sweetness and a nice touch of fruit. Even better, the normal dryness of shredded wheat is staved off by the new filling.

Drowning the Mini Wheats in milk doesn't ruin the flavor, either. Where before the frosting and sweetness washed off Mini Wheats when they swam in the drink too long, now the sugar in the center sticks around. It also refrains from turning the milk purple, an added bonus for those of us who like our milk as pristine as possible.

For all their strengths, Frosted Mini Wheats Fruit in the Middle are unlikely to sway the anti-shredded-wheat caucus. Despite all the dressings, they're still shredded wheat, which can be too dry for some. The fruit filling has its own weakness as well, in that it comes up a little lame on the berry flavoring scale. I've been enjoying several other cereals packed with dried fruit lately, such as Kashi's Go Lean Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble, and these Mini Wheats shrivel like a raisin in the sun in comparison to those fruit flavors.

Those criticisms amount to nothing more than pits in cherries, though -- you just have to eat around them. All nits aside, these Mini Wheats score an impressive four sporks out of five. And for the first time a Mini Wheat in the hand is worth two in some milk.

February 7, 2011

Stuffing in the flavor with the BK Steakhouse

Still stuffed from the Super Bowl? Or is food starting to sound appetizing again after your big-game binge of chips, dip, brats, chili, wings, pizza and everything else you found at the gridiron gorging party?

I'm betting on hunger starting to take the place of NFL-led indigestion in your belly. But last night's heavy food probably left you feeling sloth-like, so you'll probably want to head out for some fast food. Lucky you. Burger King is pushing a mouth-catching burger.

I speak of the Jalapeno and Cheddar Stuffed Steakhouse Burger, a meal with a name that needs little explanation. You could argue that the burger isn't stuffed insomuch as it is mixed -- little bits of pepper and cheese are sprinkled throughout a ground-beef patty rather than inhabiting a pocket at the center -- but we won't go large with this complaint.

Lettuce and tomato top the burger, as does something Burger King calls "spicy poblano sauce." Poblanos are typically a fairly mild pepper, so the adjective was necessary to tip us off to the fact that the sauce has a little bit of heat.

The whole burger is best described as having a little bit of heat, actually. The spice of the jalapenos is largely swallowed up by the mishmash of cooling cheddar and greasy red meat, leaving the poblano sauce to deliver most of the zing. The sauce does admirably, imparting a taste that is both zesty and smooth. So smooth, in fact, that it's almost cheesy.

Don't make the mistake of thinking the jalapenos are worthless, however. They add a nice texture to the burger. I'd be lying if I said they were crunchy -- and you wouldn't believe me -- but they definitely add some interest to the normally mundane world of overly processed fast-food burgerdom.

Those stuffed chunks of cheese pop up from time to time as well, although I found them less satisfying than the pepper pieces. You can go several bites without getting a lump of cheddar big enough to add any flavor, then you're overwhelmed when you bite into a behemoth. I'd prefer to see a slice of cheddar laid over the burger for better balance.

This burger isn't about balance, for better or worse. It's bold, beefy, and stuffed with entertaining flavors. While those flavors don't always work in perfect harmony, the eating experience is interesting enough to net four sporks out of five.

I would, however, recommend a roll of Tums. While the Steakhouse isn't spicy enough to merit heartburn, you can never coddle your tummy too much in the days after the Super Bowl.