Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mexican Pepsi

As I was making the fairly long walk to my bank the other day something on the ground caught my attention. The something in question was a scratched up metal bottle cap with the Pepsi logo on it. I recognized it as a cap belonging to a glass bottle of Mexican Pepsi. I stopped in my tracks. I love glass bottles of Mexican Pepsi and I took this cap as evidence that they were for sale somewhere nearby. I looked up and down the block for a likely suspect. There was not Mexican bodega in sight. I frowned. Perhaps this cap came from somewhere far away. Perhaps it was thrown out of a car. I resumed walking and resigned myself to disappointment.

No sooner had I accepted that there would be no Mexican Pepsi in my near future than I crossed the street and noticed, to my right, a Mexican bodega. As soon as I saw it I knew that they would have what I wanted. I went in, walked back to the drink section, and found a refrigerated case full of glass bottled drinks. In addition to Pepsi they had several other kinds of sodas to choose from, including Coke, Sidral Mundet (a sparkling apple juice soda of which I am also a fan), and Jarritos. Despite the fairly wide selection I knew it was Pepsi that I was after. I purchased two bottles and exited the store.

I would have to wait to drink my bottles of Pepsi because they require a bottle opener to open and I did not have one on me. I completed my banking and returned home. I opened up a bottle and drank it as I wrote my post about the slice of pizza Focaccina Pizzeria & Espresso Bar. I thought to myself, as I took a break from writing my pizza post, that everything about glass bottled Mexican Pepsi is better than its American counterpart. More important than the aesthetic, which might be the first thing one noticed about it, is the taste. It's slightly less carbonated than American Pepsi, which results in a mellower feel as you drink it. The flavor itself is more complex -- almost spiced tasting -- and less syrupy than American Pepsi. Finally, it does not have a lingering plastic or metal aftertaste. One could say all of these things about glass bottled Mexican Coke, which I also also appreciate, but I just don't like the flavor quite as much.

It will cost you $1.25 for a 355ml bottle, but I think it's worth that and more for such a great tasting soda.

Mexican Glass Bottled Pepsi: A+

Friday, March 28, 2008


What if, I have often asked myself, the flavors of a zesty taco and chipotle ranch dressing collided? Well, the other night I got the chance to find out. I had just eaten some Thai food with my girlfriend and a friend of mine, but I was still hungry. Before getting on the subway to head home, I suggested that we stop in a corner store to see if they had any Doritos. We entered the establishment and made our way to the chip section. My eyes passed over the traditional Doritos varieties and were drawn to Doritos COLLISIONS. The idea behind this new product is simple. The Doritos company puts it this way: "With 2 BOLD flavors in 1 bag, you control the ultimate DORITOS flavor combination." They go on to ask, "What COLLISIONS combo will you unleash?" What COLLISIONS combo indeed! Luck would have it that the two colliding flavors available were Zesty Taco and Chipotle Ranch! I promptly purchased the bag for 99 cents.

I opened up the bag an selected a chip that looked more likely to be Zesty Taco flavored. I ate the chip. It tasted exactly like a taco if all the ingredients of a taco had been freeze dried, ground into a powder, mixed with monosodium glutamate, and applied to a corn chip. Despite the uncanny nature of the taco flavor I enjoyed the chip. My girlfriend and other friend also tried a Zesty Taco chip and agreed that the flavor of an actual zesty taco was harnessed. I next tried a Chipotle Ranch chip. This one tasted very much like a normal Doritos Cooler Ranch chip to me. I took a look at the ingredient list and found no mention of chipotle peppers. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Doritos produced too many Cooler Ranch chips recently and had to find an outlet for them. Still, I do like Doritos Cooler Ranch flavor chips well enough. I had no trouble eating the majority of the bag of chips, of both flavors, while waiting for the train.

Zesty Taco chips: B
"Chipotle" Ranch chips: B-

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Focaccina Pizzeria & Espresso Bar

There's a pizza shop around the corner from me that, before today, I had never tried. It's called Focaccina Pizzeria & Espresso Bar. For some reason it is designed like it is from the future. Outside it has a big tinted blue picture of Times Square. On top of the picture of Times Square, seemingly floating above it, haloed in white light, is a very flat pepperoni pizza with very evenly spaced pepperoni. Inside the restaurant everything is bright white or orange, including some uncomfortable looking futuristic stools.

I had noticed the place a few times before, but it is in the opposite direction of my normal walk to the subway and as a result I usually don't think to go there. Today however I was at home and hungry and I remembered the place. I decided to give it a shot. I walked over and, upon entering, noticed that there was no pizza by the slice on display. I approached the woman at the counter and asked if they had pizza by the slice. She said that yes they did and it was two dollars for a plain slice. I said that a plain slice sounded fine and I handed over my money. She told me to take a seat because it would be just a minute.

I took a seat and she disappeared into the back. A few moments later she returned with another employee who frowned at the oven for a second before going outside. This second employee soon returned with a third employee, both of whom disappeared into the back. The woman at the counter smiled at me and gave me a gesture that indicated it would be just one minute.

A couple minutes later the second and third employee came back. I didn't see what they did, but a minute after that the woman called me over and handed me my pizza. One look at the slice was enough to cause concern. I took the it over to the condiment counter to doctor it up. I covered the much too white cheese with oregano, parmesan, and pepper flakes. I left the store to walk back home and eat my slice.

Once outside I took a bite and with that bite I realized that one should never say never. I thought I had already eaten the worst slice of pizza in New York at a place called Café Amore. It was, to be sure, a close race, but I am convinced that this slice from Focaccino was, in fact, worse. There was nothing right with the pizza from Café Amore, but it wasn't nearly as downright sickening. Additionally, in contrast to the enigmatic origins of my slice today, at least I could see where the pizza from Café Amore had been sitting for hours and hours.

The slice from Focaccino seemed as though it had been languishing in a college dorm room refrigerator for a week before being warmed over in a microwave allowed to cool and then warmed over again. The sauce had permeated the crust to the extent that there was no freestanding sauce at all. The crust was gummy all the way through until you got to the limp cardboard-like bottom. The cheese was below school cafeteria caliber and extremely greasy. I didn't get through more than a third of the slice before I was compelled the throw it away

All in all a revolting experience.

Their website proclaims that they make "brick over pizza for the new century". I'm not sure why a new century would require a different type of brick oven pizza, but, if it does, I would argue for at least some of the elements of the previous century's brick oven pizza to be incorporated.

Plain Slice from Focaccina Pizzeria & Espresso Bar: F--