Monday, July 20, 2009

Kroger Mint Butter: A Brief Review

I've already discussed how much I love free samples. I have very low standards of what I'll eat for free. If it's speared on a toothpick and doesn't appear to be rotting, I'll take one, thank you. Potato chips, day-old hummus, stale sugar cookies, even sushi (doesn't that sound like a recipe for a night in the bathroom?) - I'm pretty much a sample pro at this point.

Dear friends, I'm here to tell you that I may have just encountered the strangest sample of them all, and it was at the sample mecca of greater Cincinnati: Anderson Kroger. It was on my afternoon dinner grocery run that I found myself balancing a cracker in one hand and my camera in the other, face to face with a blob of toothpaste-green goo. Mint butter.

It's not the concept of mint butter I find strange. I'm a big fan of stuff in butter. Ever since I tried a lavender/honey butter at a swank restaurant, I've been singing the praises of stuff in butter. But at Kroger? On a cracker? As a sample?

Yes, please.

There's no trace of actual mint in the butter, as best I could tell. Just an eerie green color that beckoned me away from the hummus sample on the other side of the deli.

Kroger's version of mint butter, priced reasonably at $8.99 "wit' card," is overwhelmingly sweet. And then it's a little minty. Like maybe I'd brushed my teeth an hour ago and just gotten a whiff of spearmint from lingering bits of Crest Whitening with Scope.

With my first bite, I'd tried to make the sample a two-bite ordeal, but the cracker couldn't handle the pressure and exploded all over my shirt. So then I was not only sampling green butter, I was wearing it. Perfect.

I wiped off the crumbs, got my groceries and went on my way, changed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thanks a Latte, Brutopia

Let's face it, the heat is coming and it's here to stay for a while. After I haul my cookies up the street to Brutopia, one of my favorite local coffee shops, I'm not in the mood for a steamy cappuccino. It's iced latte season, and I'm going to tell you something shocking: a good iced latte is made with warm milk.

I know. It seems contradictory, but so is an iced latte when you get right down to it. Here's my scientific-ish explanation. Milk tastes sweeter when it's been heated and frothed. Frothed milk = more delicious. Therefore, an iced latte with frothy milk is more delicious than an iced latte with milk straight out of the refrigerator.

Brutopia, a bright, quirky coffee shop on Ludlow in Clifton, offers up a delicious iced latte. It comes in one size. A shot of your favorite flavored syrup, if you like, goes in first. Then frothed milk over ice. Finally, espresso is drizzled through a cloud-like layer of milk.

I spent the better part of three summers making mediocre iced lattes for a couple of different coffee shops. Brutopia does it right. They do a lot of things right, and I'm taking my good time getting around to trying it all.

The baristas are awesome, but know that with only one person minding the store at a time, they get backed up with drink and food orders pretty easily. When a really good iced latte is on the line though, I'll wait.

Brutopia Coffee on Urbanspoon