Jun 212019
 

So these cricket protein bars started showing up in my Facebook feed. Producer EXO Protein presents cricket-based nutrition as an idea whose time has come, and from a resources-in-food-out perspective, it does make a lot of sense.

The cricket used is the house cricket—Acheta domesticus. They’re cleaned, flash-frozen, roasted, and then pulverized into a powder called cricket flour.

Now I don’t have any particular hangup about eating insects. I really don’t see it as all that different from eating shrimp or lobster. However, I know what those taste like, and I know the ways in which they are commonly prepared. I have no comparable experience with crickets.

Hmmm.

I got the four-pack sampler—that’s peanut butter and jelly, cocoa nut, blueberry vanilla, and banana bread—to my house for $9.

It seems to me that crickets are a bit down the (otherwise unremarkable) ingredient lists here—there are fruits and nuts ahead of them—but according to the FAQ, there are approximately 40 crickets in each bar.

So, OK. That’s significant.

Aaron and I tried the blueberry vanilla and banana nut flavors last night. Each bar had a crumbly and slightly sticky texture, something like a particularly caky brownie maybe. They smelled more inviting than not.

But they’re certainly not much to look at.


So how do they taste?

Bluntly, we didn’t like them. The texture is appealing enough in the mouth, but the tastes only sort of hint at what the ostensible flavors are. (I couldn’t really say that we “tasted the crickets.”) There’s an unpleasant aftertaste. It’s not an intolerably bad experience, but it’s not one you’d seek to repeat either. Neither of us had a third bite.

Now I am not an experienced protein bar consumer, so I don’t really have any baseline level of expectation for such a product. For all I know, these are delicious in context. Lea eats protein bars from time to time, so I asked her if she would try a small bite and offer her thoughts.

She got close—she held it to her lips—but then said “nope, I can’t eat this.” (No worries, dear. You got closer than I thought you would.)

So I purchased a “normal” protein bar for comparison. (It wasn’t a very close specified flavor analog of either EXO bar that I tried, but I didn’t have a large selection.) Guess what? I didn’t love it, but it was significantly tastier than the EXO bars. I ate it all. So, make of that what you will.

I’m not going to formally rate the EXO bars, because even with the late introduction of a control, I don’t have enough experience with protein bars to have an informed opinion. I could have finished an EXO bar, but I didn’t want to. That’s about the best thing I can say about them.

I do think I want to try the seasoned whole roasted crickets sometime soon. Stay tuned.

 Posted by at 11:40 am
Jun 172019
 

This is part of an ongoing series reviewing hot wings in the Huntsville area. Visit #HsvHotWings for a comprehensive linked list.

Clyde’s BBQ is the latest effort from local star restaurateurs Stan Stinson and Tina Ford. It is a couple of blocks north of Browns Ferry on County Line Rd. in Madison, and there will be also be a location at Stovehouse later this year.

Stan and Tina are my friends. I’m a big fan of Earth and Stone, and my family and I were all enamored of our initial visit to Clyde’s, though they told us then that hotter wings were still on deck. These are the first truly hot ones they’ve offered.

Clyde’s offers wings regularly on Friday and Saturday, with occasional availability on other days. They are smoked wings, which you can then have fried if you choose. Sauce is available on the side or tossed. I went with fried and tossed, with the hottest “No Tina! No Tina!” habanero sauce. Eight wings and a side are $9.80.

Clyde’s “No Tina! No Tina!” wings. (Click for a closer look.)

Quality: 10/10. If you know anything about Stan and Tina, this is no surprise. I had an even split between drums and flats, and they were all robustly sized, with minimal extraneous fat. They were cooked perfectly, with no rubbery or dry spots, and served hot.

Flavor: 8/10. With an up-front peppery vibe that moves through a bit of tartness on the way to a sweet and hot finish, I’d almost call these sweet-and-sour. The wings are tasty.

Heat: 8/10. There is a bit of punch from the first bite that told me there was something other than habanero at work here, and indeed, there is some chipotle as well. Nice. Let’s dance. (Of course, the classic habanero accumulation takes over in short order.) The climb is steady and relentless, and I got a good sweat and a couple of tears. Chileheads can fit these into a normal day, but those with more tender palates should choose a different sauce.

Clyde’s wings are excellent, and furthermore, I have solid intel indicating that this may not be the hottest sauce for long. Stay tuned!

 Posted by at 9:12 am
Jun 102019
 

I’m excited to start a new post series on BoWilliams.com, featuring the best ways to spend $10 (or thereabouts) at Huntsville-area restaurants. Consistent, sustained excellence will be a hallmark of every item that makes this exclusive list. Kicking things off is the Kitchen Sink—the flagship sub sandwich of Stanlieo’s Sub Villa. Like Stanlieo’s itself, the […]

 Posted by at 8:42 am
Jun 072019
 

Most Fridays, I wear a Hawaiian shirt. You can’t be in a bad mood wearing a Hawaiian shirt (which might really support the notion of wearing them on Monday, I suppose, but that’s a potentially stickier dress code wicket). They get the weekend nod a lot too. So I guess I’m that guy. I try […]

 Posted by at 1:30 pm
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