December 30, 2011

Fun with pie charts!

It's the end-of-the-year graph-a-palooza! Also, today is my birthday, so I can do whatever I want! Yay!

I just wanted to see what kind of overall conclusions I could draw from this massive pool of data, and include a bunch of pie charts. So here we go:

First of all, I separated all the reviews into vegan and non-vegan, just to see if I rated any one category higher than any others:

Clearly, the non-vegan products are performing better overall. I also broke it down by the meat it was attempting to imitate:

I find it interesting that pork has the most A grades and the most C grades - also the most F grades.

Should we break it down further?

So... lots of data here. Non-vegan beef seems to be the best bet, with vegan poultry being the worst, unless you're willing to accept an A or a B, in which case vegan pork is the worst. But, to be fair, that category contained some of the worst products I tested - the hot dogs. *shudder*

And that's it for my graphs. I hope you enjoyed them, as well as my total phoning it in this week. But again... holidays, birthday, end-of-year-stuff... you know how it is. I'll be back with new scathing or glowing reviews of exciting new fake meat.

If anyone has anything they'd like me to test out or add to the website in the upcoming year, please let me know, otherwise I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. See you all in 2012!

December 16, 2011

Boca Grilled Vegetable Burger

Okay, I admit - I've had these in my freezer for a long time. Someone else ate one a while back, but I hadn't gotten to them until very recently. So here they come: Boca Grilled Vegetable Burger.

As per my usual veggie burger strategy, I popped it into a skillet with some oil. Flipped it once, got it nicely browned on each side, and threw it onto a bun.

The verdict? Well, after I got past the mild freezer-flavor, all I could really taste was bell pepper. According to the website, there's a ton of stuff in here, but I couldn't pick anything else out. And, thinking back to the person who had tried them way back when, she wasn't terribly enthusiastic about them either. So I don't think the extra time in the freezer affected them TOO much.

The texture was sort of the standard Boca burger texture, which was fairly chewy and burger-like, which is good, but several other examples of their burgers are just better, so I don't think I can really recommend this one in particular.

The experience:
Texture - nicely chewy
Flavor - kind of bell pepper-y but not much else

Final grade for this attempt: C-

December 9, 2011

Tofurky Italian Sausage Pizza

This week, I'm checking out a frozen pizza: Tofurky Italian Sausage Pizza. This pizza has Daiya-brand fake cheese on it, so I was very curious to see if it could replicate the non-vegan pizza experience.

Not much to say about the preparation - popped it into the oven, straight onto the rack for maximum crispiness, and out it came. One thing I should say is that this pizza is pretty small. The nutrition information says that a serving size is 1/3 of the pizza, and while that was an okay amount, the teenage boy and twenty-nine-and-a-half-year-old dude I was sharing this pizza with were both still very hungry after eating their third of a pizza. So plan for that, and if you're feeding several hungry people, maybe get two of these.

Okay, the results. Let's start at the bottom with the crust. This was a VERY thin crust. More of a cracker than a pizza crust. It had a good flavor, and a nice crispy texture, but it was definitely very thin. Next, well, I can't really break up the toppings into fake-meat/cheese/veggies because they all sort of blended together. I could definitely taste the tiny shards of Italian sausage, and they added a nice spicy flavor to the pizza.

As far as I could tell, the cheese was actually underneath all the toppings, because I couldn't actually see any of it, and that's usually fine. The texture of the cheese, though, was a little weird. Now, I'm used to pizza with the stretchy cheese experience - you know, where you take a bite and the cheese stretches out, connecting the pizza to your mouth before it finally breaks and slaps you in the chin with hot pizza sauce. Yeah, that sounds awful, but it's part of the experience. This definitely didn't have that, and I wasn't really expecting it to. But I think I was expecting a more chewy cheese - this was sort of a gooey, creamy paste. Perhaps when mixed with the sauce, it got weird. It wasn't a terrible experience, but not one I generally associate with pizza.

As far as the rest of the toppings, there sure were a lot of veggies. Dare I say… too many? It was just edge-to-edge veggies - barely even any crust to hang on to on the outside, which isn't always a bad thing, but it made it a little tricky to eat.

All in all, this was like eating a crispy cracker, with some sort of creamy spread, and a sausage-flavored veggie salsa. Not quite what my brain associates with pizza, but I really don't know what else you would call this, so I'll keep calling it pizza. As far as frozen pizzas go, this is quite a tasty experience, but the cheese left something to be desired for me.

The experience:
Texture - crispy crust, (oddly) creamy cheese, slightly chewy sausage crumbs, and lots of small-dice veggies
Flavor - tasted like a veggie pizza with a hint of sausage

Final grade for this attempt: A-

December 2, 2011

Yves Veggie Tuna Steak in Sesame Ginger Sauce

Okay, time for some more veggie seafood. You all ready? It's another Yves product: Yves Veggie Tuna Steak in Sesame Ginger Sauce. Once again, I apologize for Yves and their insistence in using Facebook instead of updating their website with actual information. I assure you, there's a post on there somewhere about this product, but it's just a picture with comments.

I complained about the shape of the box when I reviewed the Veggie Shrimp, so I'm not going to get into it - just know that it is stupid.

Before I discuss the cooking experience, I want to touch on the aesthetics for a second. I assume they were going for an ultra-realistic appearance with the "skin" sort of thing, but it looked really creepy. Sort of iridescent green-black, and I found myself wishing it weren't there. Who leaves skin on their tuna steak, anyway? I just did a google image search for tuna steak - four pages in, no steaks with skin on them. Just skip it, Yves. Looks better without it.

So, the first thing I did with these was to heat some oil in a small skillet, as directed. I don't remember how long it said to cook these, but they browned SUPER fast. Way faster than the directions said they would, but as I've learned before, sometimes I cook things over a too-high flame, probably due to my impatience. So, once these were evenly browned on all sides, I poured the sauce over them. Now, I must stress this: BE CAREFUL when doing this. There is a lot of water in this sauce, and when you mix it with even the small amount of hot oil in the skillet, it splatters EVERYWHERE. I ended up throwing a lid on the pan just so that I didn't get splashed with piping hot sesame-ginger sauce. So yeah - just… be careful with it.

Now for the tasting. Before I dumped the sauce over everything, I pulled out one of the strips of fake tuna, just to get an idea of what we were working with before I drenched it in sauce. It didn't have a very fishy taste - it was pretty mild. It did get fishier-tasting as it sat a few minutes after cooking, so if you're looking for that, you might want to wait a few minutes before eating it. The texture was pretty weird. The best way I can describe it was sort of like bread pudding. It was a little spongy and squishy, but not in a chewy way. It was very soft, and almost dissolved in my mouth. This wasn't an awful experience, but if you prefer your fake meat to be a little more toothsome, this might not be for you.

As for the sauce, it was okay. I don't really like sesame or ginger, so the combo wasn't terribly appealing to me, but it blended well with the fake tuna, so I guess that's good. I also might have been slightly bitter about the fact that my kitchen was coated in it.

The experience:
Texture - spongy and soft - very delicate
Flavor - slightly fishy right out of the pan, more so later

Final grade for this attempt: C+