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Archive for the ‘Product Review’ Category

gosun Portable Solar Oven: Kind of Cool, but Still Hot

Posted by CMH Gourmand on February 14, 2021

Here I am writing about another gosun product. How did this happen? Last summer I was asked if I wanted to try out the gosun Solar Oven for free. I said, yes of course. In addition to being a recycling nerd and zealot, I am also a huge sustainability fan with a trace of survivalist thrown in. There was no way for me to resist this offer, especially since the opening pitch mentioned hot dogs. As it played out, the item was on back order for a while so I ended up getting it in the late fall. Due to the delay I was asked if I wanted to try our the gosun Flatware. I ended up getting both at the same time. I am late on reviewing both products but review the oven I will with no good excuse for the delay other than a lock of no free time until recently.

Let’s start with the cool factor. This oven is portable and lightweight (2 pounds). This is easy and intuitive to use. The oven is the size of a small purse. It also comes with easy to understand instructions and sample cook times based on the amount of sun and the type of food being cooked. There is also a lot of stuff that comes with the stove – a nylon bag to carry everything including a tube cleaner and silicon food trays to hold food in the tube.

The diameter of the tube is a bit more that the typical paper towel cardboard cylinder. You are not going to cook a meal for a family of six with this oven and you are not going to get anything as quickly as a microwave. In this case the journey is more important that the destination. The stove does work! It worked during an Ohio winter (I have photos to prove it!).

The only downsides I have identified for the solar oven in my first uses are tubular in nature. I think cooking 6 hot dogs (as noted in the book) is a bit optimistic and may not be logistically possible. Also, I wish at least one of the silicone tubes was the length of a hot dog. Otherwise, all is good.

How do I see people using this? This would be great for a picnic where you had enough leisure time to add a warm entree or side for two. This would be great for ice fishermen looking for an extra source of hot water. The oven is also a great way to teach teach kids about the power of solar – this would be a fun experiment for an elementary school science class.

Because I like the Swiss army knife aspect of gadgets, I would love to see the addition of a cell phone or USB charger added to the product. Otherwise, as long as you have reasonable expectations and some time on your hands, this oven will be something you can enjoy for a long time.

P.S. You are probably wondering how you boil water with the oven – set the item vertically with the cap on the top and you have created a no spill container for the water to heat up. It has a boiling capacity of 13.5 fl. ounces.

If you live in the Columbus area and want to borrow this for a a while – shoot me an e-mail. My hope, is that I can lure the Instagram legend, @Seligmansdog to try this oven out in a series of mad science experiments. If so, we will report the outcomes via Instagram.

Posted in Product Review | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

gosun: Flatware – Be the Change

Posted by CMH Gourmand on February 7, 2021

An uneducated guess would suggest that your eating habits have changed over the last year.¬† In the tradition of Carnac the Magnificent, I predict you have experienced a surge of take out eating.¬† If you are like me, you are¬†more often eating in your car or in good weather, in an outdoor spot distanced from the crowd.¬† Sometimes it can feel like an epic picnic until you discover, you have nothing to eat with.¬† This has happened to me at least three times over the last year.¬† As a professional eater, I am aways ready for this circumstance because I have an “emergency kit in my car with a cork screw, zip lock bags, pocket knife, hand sanitizer and misc. plastic ware.¬† So I can save my own day. However, I have still had to improvise on my own a few times and when I’m not the driver, I am at risk for the “no flatware blues”. If you do not want to get “forked over” to you, try gosun Flatware.

This handy kit is the size of a credit card, dishwasher safe, and reusable.¬† A statistic on their packaging states that the average American uses 322 disposable plastic utensils per year.¬† So in addition to always being prepared to enjoy a meal on the go, you can also help reduce the massive amount of plastic filling our oceans and landfills.¬† Here is yet another spin for you to consider.¬† Yes, it can suck when you don’t get the needed plasticware for your takeway meal but in my case, more often than not, when I am eating I home, we get more than we need so what we receive gets wasted (we have an in-house Moratorium on filling our overflowing “emergency” plasticware box with anyone more spares).¬† When possible I will ask restaurant to “hold the plastic” if they can or they don’t ask themselves.

Many of us have been trying to figure out ways to help locally owned restaurants during the pandemic, it may seem like a small thing but asking them to hold the plasticware is not only good for the environment, it saves them money.  It may not seem like much but each disposable plastic spoon, fork and knife as well as every napkin, sauce pack and straw adds up to a lot of money over time.  I found this -> article breaking down the costs of your carry out meal.  Every bit makes a difference.

So if you are a tree hugger and equal opportunity eater like me wanting to do right by the environment while helping our my restaurant friends just say no to disposable plastic utensils and yes to an option like gosun flatware. It is a win win.

I did receive a complimentary set of gosun flatware for my services.¬† As mentioned in other posts, I don’t write about something I do not like.¬† In this case, there is a lot to like about this flatware. I mentioned the size before, and this product makes good use of space by being credit card sized.¬† Convenience is the key to behavior change so having your own flatware wherever you go makes doing the right thing that much easier.

The flatware set is the thickness of 4 credit cards, so it will not fit into the typical credit card slot in a leather wallet but it does fit snuggly in the the pocket that is typically underneath the slots or in the billfold section of a wallet. If you have a badge for work with a plastic holder, this would fit in with many work ID’s.

The fork works great.¬† The knife / spoon combo can cover the basics.¬† The knife does not have much of a serrated edge but it will cut cheese, donuts, and spread butter.¬† I’m not going to complain because a sharper edge would mean slicing my tongue.¬† The spoon is good for mashed potatoes, hummus, pudding and the like but trying to eat soup with it would be an exercise of Sisyphean futility.¬† Overall, this is a good option to have with you at all times.¬† I also like that the company practices what it preaches.¬† The packaging and the utensil holder are recyclable. The inside of the packaging has 6 detachable information cards featuring their website and a recycling fact (every day, enough plastic forks, spoons, and knives get thrown away to fill more than 3000 garbage trucks).

In a nutshell: Save your meal, save the environment and help our restaurant friends some money, by saying hold the plastic and using gosun flatware.

Now if they could somehow make a combination straw, ketchup dispenser and salt and pepper shaker that is the same size, I will be ready for any food emergency.

(No plastic spoons, knives or forks were wasted in the production of this post.)

Posted in culinary knowledge, Product Review | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Paulaner: Pils in a can, Weizen-Radler and Salvatore – A Bavarian Rhapsody!

Posted by CMH Gourmand on January 31, 2021

I recognize that you might be confused.¬† Yes, you did come to the right blog.¬† Why am I, a local beer guy, that used to run our local brewery tour company writing about German Beers? Let me explain. I receive a lot of offers to write about food related things.¬† Most offers go straight to the trash can.¬† However, when an offer catches my eye or provides an opportunity to learn, I will accept a product to write about.¬† If I don’t like it, I don’t pretend to do so and the content shows it or more often I decline to write about it.¬† In this case, I replied back twice to two opportunities from Paulaner and I ended up at least twice removed from my promised deadline. In the case of Paulaner there are four reasons why I said yes: Memories of my youth, a Covid-caged wanderlust, a love of history, and well, duh, free beer. Well, nothing is free, writing about these beers took several hours as well as dedication to objective research.¬† (Side note:¬† The return address on each package sent to me listed a contact with the last name Stout – how appropriate).¬† I’m glad I said yes to my offers, because I like these beers.

Let’s start with memories of youth.¬† Back in the 20th century, before the second wave of craft brewing began, finding a Paulaner in a local beer shop or restaurant was a sign of luck and persistence.¬† The act of drinking a real beer from Germany was downright progressive.¬† I spent some time in Germany after I graduated from college drinking my share of Paulaner in Munich.¬† Paulaner was hard to find in Ohio “back in the old days”.¬† Today, Paulaner has a Beer Finder, which means you are one click away from discovery.¬† Just type in your zip code, click search and Bam!, beer.¬† In the case of my zip code, 37 locations have Paulaner products within 10 miles of my house. The finder even lets you drill down to which type of beer you want to find, so I typed in Paulaner Weizen-Radler to find 4 locations.

My next reason for saying yes to Paulaner, I love to travel.¬†Parenthood combined with Covid means I’m lucky to leave my house to go pick up a pizza.¬†Drinking a Paulaner, in a very small way, transports me to Germany for a few moments. Any beer definitely connects you to the place it was brewed through the water used, the people that crafted it and the tradition they follow.¬†The Paulaner brewing tradition goes back to 1634.¬† There is some deeply hidden component of my Scottish / German ancestry that resonated with these beers (Scottish – Free, German – Beer) but more important to me was the history of the brand itself.

On the history front, Paulaner offers plenty of history, about 400 years worth.  The oldest (still operating) brewery we have Columbus is Columbus Brewing Company which has all of 40 years. Paulaner was started by monks in Munich.  When the monastery had leftover beer it was given to the poor or served in the cloister pub. In 1773, a monk commonly known as Barnabas started to brew for the order and developed techniques that were quickly adopted throughout Europe.  There are some beers named in his honor to this day. Paulaner beers were served at the first Oktoberfest celebrations and are still poured to the masked, socially distanced masses today.

Whenever I drink a new beer, I consult our local sage of fermentation, Pat Woodward of Pat’s Pints. Pat KNOWS beer.¬† He is a chemistry professor, home brewer, trained beer judge and prolific drinker. He has also traveled extensively writing about beers all over the world.¬† I found a few of his posts were helpful in my research for this review so the student (me) texted the master (him) to get some thoughts on the Paulaner Salvatore I dropped off to him.¬† I will include some exclusive Pat’s Pints content on the Salvatore later.

My next thought was to contact a real German.¬† Constantin is my former Clintonville neighbor who returned to Germany in 2019.¬† I contacted him for his spin on Paulaner but I made a critical error, I forgot that “Connie” is from Hamburg and living there now. In Germany, beer drinkers are fiercely locally loyal.¬† A real Hamburger would not be caught dead drinking a beer from Munich, unless they were in Munich.¬† Connie did say that if he was in Munich, he would drink a Paulaner and that is about the best compliment to be expected in this situation.

I had a brainstorm after this.  What is the next best thing to a German living in Munich?  In my case it was Cameron Lloyd, American brewer at Endeavor Brewing and Spirits.  Cameron received his brewing training in Germany so when he was not making beer, he was drinking it in travels around the country.  Although Paulaner brews massive quantities of beer, as in millions of hectoliters, much more than most German breweries, he said their quality is well respected.  It makes sense that Paulaner would distribute to 70 countries around the world, due to the uber-loyalty to local brands in each of the German states, their only way to grow is to sell outside of Germany.

Having completed my baseline investigation research, it was time to start drinking.

I started with the Paulaner Weizen-Radler (Non-Alcoholic).  This is a Hefe-Weizen with the alcohol removed (well most of it, less than .05% ABV (alcohol by volume) blended with lemon juice.  Paulaner brewed the first non alcoholic Weissbiers in the world and the radler originated in Germany, so I had high expectations for this non alcoholic malt beverage.  I was not disappointed.  This transported me to sitting in a beirgarten in Munich without the threat of a hangover or the monotony of a layover.  The Weisen-Radler was a pleasure to consume, as much as I loved it, I did to share some with my wife.  She liked her sample and was disappointed we did not have more.

Next, I moved on to the 1 pint, 9 fluid ounce, Paulaner Pils in a can.¬† This beer has been off the North American radar for some time. ¬†After years of living under the shadows of mega hopped beers of the US IPA wars of the 2010’s, the Pils (Pilsner) returned to the US market in November of 2020.¬† The canned Pils comes in four packs. The ABV on this is 4.8% so it is very sessionable as a smooth drinking, palate pleasing all purpose beer. Pat’s Pints provides a good insight into this style he describes as the “rock stars of the lager world.” (It should be noted that while Pilsner originated in the Czech city of Pilsen, it was Bavarian brewer Josef Groll who created it there in 1842). Today Pilsners are ubiquitous as the dominant beer style around the world.¬† However, we have lost our appreciation of what makes this style so good because it has been dumbed down through decades of macro-level mass production (Budweiser). Drinking the Paulaner Pils did remind me of what I like about well crafted Pilsners. It was true to style, well balanced and epitomized the Paulaner motto of Gut, besser, Paulaner. (Good, better – Paulaner).

Last, and absolutely not least, I sampled the Paulaner Salvator (Double Bock). This comes in a 11.2 fluid ounce bottle with an ABV of 7.9%.¬† Having led brewery tours for seven years, one of the most common points of confusion came up when discussing bock beers.¬† They are not as common around town today, but many older beer drinkers fondly recall the bocks of their youth and those memories have faded over time. In a barley shell, Bock is essentially a lager beer that is darker due to the type of malt selected. This makes for a rich, hearty beer.¬† A double bock even more so with a bit more alcohol to boot.¬† The Bock name, derives from the style of beer that started in the northern German town of Einbeck.¬† As the style traveled south to Bavaria, it was misheard as ein-bock which means Billy Goat.¬† Concurrently Northern Italian monks found their way to the Munich to set up a monastery.¬† During Lent, they were not allowed to eat solid food so they started to make a lager that was darker in color using what is now often called Munich malt.¬† This created a darker color, a higher alcohol content with a much needed caloric boost in the beer to sustain them through the lingering days of winter.¬† When the monks provided some leftover bock as alms to the poor, other local brewers were outraged and started to write letters of complaint.¬† This dark beer push back occurred in 1634 which is considered the birth of the brewery and why the Salvatore style is strongly associated with Paulaner.¬† The monks originally called their creation “blessed father’s beer” and “holy oil of St. Francis,” before changing to a simpler latin term for savior – Salvator.¬† I’ll be turning the tasting notes over to Pat’s Pints for this beer, the bottle I drank taught me that my alcohol tolerance has declined steeply during Covid.<

Paulander Salvatore Tasting Notes from Pat's Pints:
What is the sensory experience associated with the modern iteration of this historic beer? Visually the beer is tawny brown, with reddish highlights. Running somewhat counter to my expectations for a German Doppelbock, the beer is slightly hazy. I lean in for a smell and am greeted with the aromas of caramelized sugar with background hints of fig, plum and a bit of booziness. Enough with the prelude, it’s time for a taste. The rich caramel flavors come to the fore, accented by dark fruits, something in the vein of black cherries or plums. Peeling away the layers of flavor I find something suggestive of nuts. The beer sports a medium body, not as thick as the flavors might suggest. For a beer that clocks in at nearly 8% it’s dangerously drinkable, but there is a subtle warming sensation that lingers after the first few sips. The overall impression is that of a flavor-packed winter treat, one that might just get you thinking of sugar plum fairies. Despite the perceived decadence it still retains a surprisingly high level of drinkability, just right for pairing with a hearty winter meal.

Backtracking to wanderlust, my post procrastination has allowed me to add a bonus for my loyal readership.¬† Paulaner is sponsoring a contest to win a trip for two to Paulaner’s Salvatorfest,¬† March of 2022 in Munich.¬† This annual festival celebrates Paulaner‚Äôs / Munich’s Stark biers (Stark being strong),¬† it is the oldest beer festival in the region even predating Oktoberfest. For second place, ten people will win six Paulaner glasses and a scarf.¬† I hope to win this trip because I really need to get out of the house.¬† If, not, I would be happy to see one of you win (feel free to take me as your number two).

If you are looking for Paulaner beers out and about it may take a while for old time fans to find them.¬† The company launched a new bottle style and labeling last year (it looks really good) which includes the Paulander name embossed on the bottles.¬† I am still a local drinker so when you pick up a 4 pack or six pack of Paulaner grab another six pack of Land Grant, Seventh Son, Outerbelt, Wolf’s Ridge, Endeavor, Sideswipe…… you get my drift.¬† Our local brewers still need our support and you could all use a drink so doubling up on your beer supply is a good way to go for 2021.

Posted in beer, Product Review | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

UDF – United Dairy Farmers serves UDF – Ultimate Donut Fans! (The Ohio Donut Trail)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 22, 2020

One downside of the Ohio Donut Trail (for readers) has been that many of the places I have written about are off the beaten path, hard to find and sometimes have quirky hours. Fans of the Ohio Donut Trail will be happy with this new addition, because a UDF is easy to find throughout Ohio and they all have very convenient hours.

United Dairy Farmers (UDF) started in 1939 in Norwood, Ohio at the time it was an innovative concept. This was a place where people could pick up milk on the go for less than the cost of having it delivered. Over the years, the company grew, locations expanded to close to 200 in three states and the range of products offered increased exponentially including the award winning Homemade Brand Ice Cream. In 2019, UDF started their own bakery with a product line including donuts. The donuts debuted in November of 2019 and consumers found they were definitely different – most are square!

Most people in Ohio are familiar with United Dairy Farmers. I have a long history with UDF, the first ice cream I recall eating came from a UDF in Clintonville. I recently wrote about some of my favorite food things and one was UDF Homemade Brand Ice Cream. I was contacted the next day by UDF thanking me for picking their Ice Cream as my favorite. I was asked if I had tried THEIR donuts. I said no so they offered to send me some samples and I said YES!

They took the delivery very seriously. UDF makes donuts for most of their locations at a new state of the art production facility / bakery they constructed in 2019. The site includes a bakery proofer made in Germany that required a flatbed semi to deliver it to its new home in suburban Cincinnati. Delivering donuts to me was much easier but I will say I was impressed. The head of their Central Ohio distribution center delivered them to me personally after calling to make sure I was home. The donuts were freshly baked that morning and I had my samples by early afternoon. My entire experience made me feel like I was dealing with a small family business instead of a moderately sized regional business empire.

I love donuts. My son LOVES donuts. My wife likes most donuts. I was hoping for a box but I received four! UDF makes thirteen varieties of donuts. I did not receive samples of each type, but I did have an opportunity to try most of their top sellers. My family and I took the responsibility of taste testing very seriously, that is after my impatient son and patient spouse observed the first directive of food writing – no one eats until the photos are finished. It was almost a photo finish for our favorite. The Sprinkle donut was exceptionally good, while that was my son’s favorite and my number two both my wife and I were smitten by the glazed croissant. Some people call them doughsants, others cronuts, we just call them delicious. We were both devastated when my wife’s dog (Stella the Destroyer) ate 1/2 of one. The dog still lives with us but is on triple secret probation. I can certainly understand her desire to steal. I am typically a cake donut eater but in this batch I was pleased to find I really enjoyed their yeast donuts as well. Also very noteworthy, our few remaining donuts still tasted good the next day and the day after that. In my experience many donuts tend to have a shelf life of about one day, these have some longevity to them which is good because I can’t see myself getting less than a dozen at a time.

Another endorsement for these donuts, I was happy to pay money for them the next time I was at a UDF. Unfortunately, there was only one glazed croissant left and yes, it was amazingly good. Thanks UDF! If you are an Ultimate Donut Fan you will want to give these a try.

Posted in donuts, Ohio Donut Trail, Product Review | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

The Perfect Summer of Covid Gift?

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 20, 2020

My guess is you are still living in some sort of stay in place lifestyle. You may be using spaces differently, spending a lot more time with fewer people and trying to multi-purpose any room you can to have some sense of variety. That is what I am doing.

I receive a multitude of press releases and one caught my eye recently. It was for a company called 30 Watt. They now offer Capski, a self adhering wall mounted bottle opener you can take anywhere. The back of the bottle opener uses a special technology (think of a post it note on steroids) that allows it to stick on many “shiny” surfaces.

Two full disclosures: 1) I was sent a free Capski to try out (if I do not like a product, I don’t write about it but I do send feedback). 2) CMH Gourmand is a now a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for this site to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. I have never done this before but wanted to see how and if this works. If you click on Amazon links in this post it could put money in my pocket. If you buy this product from Amazon, even better.

30 Watt is already well known for their Sudski Shower Beer Holder and Joeski Shower Coffee Holder.

The Capski is a perfect gift for people that are constantly changing their minds about where things should go. This could work well for those that do not want to commit to screwing something into their walls or perhaps someone that is in the go all the time that needs a bottle opener that requires minimal contact and is easy to wipe down.

Of course you can find the Capski on Amazon.com and have it just in time for your next socially distanced cook out or as a belated Father’s Day gift.

I liked the packaging of the product – with a strategically placed “Beer Me” located on the back tab. The product can be placed in locations that would be helpful to have a bottle opener including refrigerators, metal tool boxes, a grill (not sure if the heat will make it fall off, I’ll find out soon) and more.

The instructions for this product are straightforward and located on the removable and reusable cover on the back side.

If you get your own Capski let me know the most unique spot you used it.

#StaySafe this summer

Posted in Food For Thought, Gastronomic Stimulus, Product Review | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

(Product Review): TheCrazyCap and the quest to keep water clean

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 31, 2019

CrazyCap Bottle

I am the father of a four year old boy. Nothing on this planet seeks out dirt, grime and general chaos with more gusto than a four year old boy….except maybe the three year old version of the same. When CMH Griffin (CMH Son) entered the world of daycare when he was just over two years old we began a year of guerilla warfare with germs. For the first three months of school he was out sick (home with daddy) more often than he was in school. Making it to school three days a week was a GOOD WEEK! As the person that “never gets sick” I was sick more often over that 18 months than I had been in the previous 18 years, I even picked up a case of Foot and Mouth Disease (yes, eww).

We are doing better at Daycare/Pre-School today but in the course of a school day he is embedded with up to twenty three other chronic germ machines and so his his water bottle. When I saw the Crazy Cap pitched in a back to school press release, I volunteered to take one for a test drive for my family to see if it could survive the four year old challenge.

Here are some of the Crazy Cap selling points!

– The deep UV LED provides 500,000 water treatments during its lifetime

– CrazyCap’s battery lasts up to 1 week, comes included with charger

– The CrazyCap can be used to sanitize any surface. Simply shine it on cell-phones, laptops, tablets, etc.

– CrazyCap is compatible with most 9, 12, 15 and 17 oz insulated stainless steel bottles. In case you don’t have a compatible bottle, the brand also offers double-walled, vacuum-insulated bottles that are designed to keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12

– It contains deep UV LED sterilization technology to destroy microorganisms completely (unlike traditional filters, which trap but do not destroy). Purify your water on the go and keep your go-to bottle sanitary at the same time

– “CrazyCap’s makes sure that your bottles do not smell funky or moldy. It is our guarantee!!”

All of the above seemed impressive.

I tested this out at home from fall to Christmas break. Overall, I found the product easy to use and understand. The charger was easy to use. A color coded light system in the cap helps you understand what the battery level is in the CrazyCap and it allows you to determine what level of sanitizing you want to use. An added bonus of the CrazyCap is it can be used to sanitize items other than your water and the bottle itself, you can use use in on keyboards, phones, and etc. This could be a handy item for a camping trip or an emergency preparedness kit (if you keep the charge fresh).

CrazyCap with charger

There were two downsides for the “back to school” uses for this bottle and they mainly apply to the audience I tested this with. While this would be a good back to school item for a high schooler or even an older middle school child, I would not suggest this for young children, especially those in daycare and probably elementary school. First, the CrazyCap is not dishwasher safe which means it is not kid safe nor exhausted adult proof. Second, there is a warning not to look directly at the CrazyCap UV light…..you know that is bound to happen with a toddler and even some teenagers and adults. I do think this would be a great gift for the techie in your life.

To find out more about CrazyCap check our their website -> TheCrazyCap.com

Posted in Product Review | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

(Product Review): TwentyFifty Compostable Spoons

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 25, 2019

Compostable Spoons

True Fact 1: I am a recycling and sustainability nerd who would like to progress to being a zealot.

True Fact 2: I am a sucker for anything FREE!

When I received a press release about TwentyFifty compostable tableware I was beyond intrigued so I made a pitch to test drive some of their product. I also asked if I could run a contest to help get the word out about their products and what their mission is. The company said yes to both of my requests. If you want the opportunity to have a box of compostable spoons sent to you so you can try them yourself, follow me on Instagram at: CMHGourmand and you can participate in my Instagram contest on January 1st – to help make your own New Year’s Resolution to be nicer to our planet. One commenter to my New Years Day Instagram post about these spoons will win a box of spoons.

TwentyFifty is a San Diego based company with noble purposes. One goal is to create methods to allow cutlery to be made around the world using locally sourced grains.

Named after the year 2050 Рthe year the population is projected to reach 10 billion and when it’s estimated that the amount of plastic waste in the ocean will exceed the amount of fish Рthe brand has one mission: to stop, or at least significantly reduce, plastic pollution. They are doing this with cutlery. The first, and only, compostable alternative to single-use plastic you can compost in your own backyard compost pile.

A few facts about plastics that I hope terrify you. As a parent of a child I hope has a liveable world after 2050, here are a few things that could keep me up at night.


Over 40 billion plastic utensils go into landfills and oceans every year.

There are about 300 million tons of plastic that are produced every year with half of them estimated to be for only single use and they are then dumped in the oceans after use. This then creates an underwater smog of plastic debris and this then affects the seabirds and marine life that ingest it which can then affect the health of the people that consume the affected animals later.


From a documentary that was filmed by a journalist Craig Leeson, a director of A Plastic Ocean discovered discarded plastic bottles on the ocean floor while he was filming whales underwater in the India Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka. He then traveled to about 20 locations so as to show the effects of plastic on the marine ecosystem and his documentary then talks about how the plastic in the ocean breaks up over time to become tiny pieces called microplastics. This then enters the food chain and it brings toxins into the fatty tissues of the fish and other animals which will then be transmitted to human during consumption. – from The Heart Beat

There are other compostable cutlery options out there but most require a lot of energy to produce and then break down after use. The design of the TwentyFifty fork, spoon or knife allows it to be fully decomposed in a typical home composting bin within 30 days. You could even stick one in the ground of your garden and let it release nutrients into the soil after eating some of your garden produce at a picnic – how do you like that for cycle of life?

Spoons side by side

If you are searching for a real alternative to single use plastic that is a win/win for the environment, TwentyFifty has a sound solution for you. I received a box of 12 that I tested out in various ways for typical things my family does at home and away. The spoons are both aesthetically pleasing and practical to use. They hold up well to any use I could think of and did not add any aftertaste or discoloration to foods. I soaked one in a glass for four hours and it was still usable. After one hour of soaking, it showed no signs of wear or decomposition, at 4 hours, it was pliable and could be broken with some effort but still retained its shape. The spoon is made with a mix of wheat, corn and soy flours. I was impressed after my thorough usability testing and am excited to see what other products that will produce over time.

Box 0f Twenty Fifty Spoons

Posted in Product Review | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

(Product Review): Belle Chevre Goat Cheese Cream Cheese

Posted by CMH Gourmand on October 25, 2019

Long time readers know that I am a sucker for cheese. Few know how much I love goat cheese but it well established that I love free cheese. In this instance, I was offered cheese I would gladly pay for next time I go to the store in the form of Belle Chevre cream cheese made from goat’s milk.

When I received this box I was vaulted to cream cheese heaven. Inside were eight different cream cheeses to try so I took my mission very seriously. In order of my taste preference these are the samples I received: Fig, Original, Honey, Roasted Red Pepper, Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice (it’s not just for coffee anymore) Garden Veggie. I am still holding on to the Coffee Cream Cheese (unsampled) for unspecified and perhaps secret baking project.

My spouse was a bit skeptical of cream cheese made from goats milk. Also, her superhuman sense of smell confirmed that these cream cheeses did originate from goats, not cows. For her this fact was neutral, but for me, it was all goaty goodness.

Belle Chevre goat cheese cream cheese has some distinct advantages over standard cream cheese. Their goat cheeses are naturally gluten free and a one ounce serving offers five grams of protein which is more than double that of regular cream cheese. Compared to cow’s milk-based cheeses, goat cheese is lower in fat, provides more calcium and has two and a half times the protein. That is something that helped me rationalize eating a whole container in a day.

For my rigorous testing I did several head to head comparisons of Belle Chevre and standard cream cheese. Thinking of the creaminess and spreadability of typical cream cheese as a percentage or curve, the Belle Chevre cream cheeses were about 75% on the spectrum between regular goat cheese and regular cream cheese leaning more toward the cream cheese on the scale. Belle Chevre is dense but lighter and fluffier. It is less likely to “stick” and embed itself with it’s companion be it a bagel, salami, or whatever. The goat cheese flavor is present but not pronounced and pairs exceptionally well in the fig flavor in particular. True fact: I made my favorite sandwich of the year with a next day leftover piece of steak, the fig cream cheese and some just out of the bag sandwich bread from the store. It was simple but amazingly delicious. Over time I noticed the unused portion in each container tends to settle overnight bringing the remainder to a flat baseline by the next day which is value added for people like me that do not like big divots in the center of their dairy packaging but instead like a constant horizontal level awaiting the next knife or spoon.

Belle Chevre on the right

My most common test was to try the different versions of the goat cheese cream cheese on bagels, with one half of the bagel covered in Belle Chevre cream cheese and the other half spread with “a national brand cream cheese”. The Belle Chevre was always an even substitute and often a superior option depending on my flavor preference. My least favorite of what I sampled was the veggie. The veggie chunks in the cream cheese did not add to the flavor, for the most part, they just added some texture to the lump of cream cheese in my mouth. You can use Belle Chevre cream cheeses interchangeably with anything that would feature cream cheese and in my experience you will find it a flavor enhancer to whatever you are eating with it. In my research, it really excels in any baking recipe which calls for cream cheese, especially with the cinnamon flavor (which is why I am holding onto the coffee cream cheese for a future creation).

Belle Chevre is a company I have tracked for several years. They make great products and have an inspiring origin story. Their artisan cheese makers have been handcrafting traditional and original goat cheeses since 1989, combining old school European cheesemaking techniques with innovative approaches. All of this happens in Elkmont, Alabama under the chief cheese, Tasia Malakasis. The company is woman owned and led. It has won many accolades including a best dessert award for a goat cheese cheesecake and a feature on Oprah’s O List. To learn more about Belle Chevre click -> HERE.

Locally you can find Belle Chevre at Giant Eagle Market District and Meijer as well as in my refrigerator, but please do not take any of my Belle Chevre fig cream or I will give you an old copy of Who Moved My Cheese as a punishment.

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