Hudson Valley Duck Farms Review

Hello all, this week is my Hudson Valley Duck Farms review. More specifically, I’ll be reviewing the duck hot links, which are applewood smoked duck sausages available at the Hudson Valley Farms booth at Union Square market. For those not in the know, Union Square market is Monday-Wednesday-Friday in Manhattan, year round. They have some great food there, and it’s my go-to place for apples, sweet corn, and several delectable meats. Also, getting stuff from there is an excellent way to support local farmers and craftspeople.

I’ve mentioned on the site before how much I love duck. Some people don’t care for it, thinking it to be too fatty, but if you get yourself a nice lean duck breast, or crispy duck from a Chinese restaurant, it can be a tantalizing experience. I also love sausages (no snickering), especially healthier ones like chicken sausage, an ingredient of the gumbo recipe I featured here on the site a few weeks ago. When I saw the duck hot links at the Hudson Valley Farms booth, I knew I had to try them. You get a package of four for twelve dollars, which comes out to three bucks a sausage, if my basic math is accurate. I went to a nearby grocery store and got a hoagie roll, then retreated back to the break room in my building with my treasures. I split the hoagie role in half, then cut it in two. I figured I would make myself a pair of sausage sandwiches, two sausages per sandwich.

Duck Sausage

As you can see in the above picture, there’s no nutritional information on the package of hot links, so there’s no telling how much sodium and total and saturated fat you’re getting per serving, but I’m betting these bad boys are pretty unhealthy. As such, I wouldn’t make a habit of eating these, readers. But I usually pack pretty healthy things for my work mini-meals, so I felt okay about breaking up the routine this time. The sausages are fully cooked, so I just slit them open with a knife and popped two of them in the microwave. In about four minutes I took them out, steaming and smelling amazing. The paper towels I’d put underneath them were soaked with grease, and I couldn’t wait to give them a try.

So how were they? Sublime. Amazing. Really, words fail me. They come in a thin pork casing, and the meat inside was succulent and rich, flavored with cracked black pepper that really gave them a zing. They were so juicy that several napkins were required, even after splitting them open and draining some of that grease out. I had this for lunch two days in a row, and the second day, I couldn’t wait for lunch time to eat the remaining two. This was one of the better lunches and better foods I’ve tried in a while, and do I recommend Hudson Valley Duck Farms? Hell yes I do. It’s probably better that there’s no nutritional label on these things, since I’m sure they’re terrible for you, but sometimes you’ve got to live a little, and if scarfing down a duck hot link doesn’t epitomize the need for that cliche, I don’t know what does.

Nature Works Review

Welcome back, carnivores. This week is my Nature Works review. Nature Works is a small chain of restaurants; I think there are three locations in Manhattan. Last week I was sitting behind my desk in the lobby of the building where I work in the Flatiron District, and a guy came in with a bunch of menus. He looked kind of like an extra from the cast of Jersey Shore, but he gave me a coupon for a free meal from Nature Works. He also gave me a song-and-dance about how healthy Nature Works is, and how they don’t use butter or lard, they don’t fry anything, they use brown instead of white rice and whole grain pasta, and how their food is generally better for you than most of the other places around. Honestly, I was a little turned off by it, since I love white rice and i don’t eat whole grain anything, but, since I saw that one of the locations was nearby and the coupon did indeed seem to be for a free meal with no catches or restrictions, on my break I walked over there to give it a try.

The location I went to was at 113 East 31st Street, between Park and Lexington. It was a small place, a hole in the wall, pretty much. I gave the counter guy my coupon, which was for a free “Bob’s Plate.” This was described as “grilled chicken breast over whole wheat pasta or brown rice topped with lentil soup.” I got mine with the brown rice. I got the meal in its brown back and took it back to my building, where I went down to our break room and unwrapped it. I have to say that it didn’t look very appetizing…actually, it looked kind of like cat puke, and, as someone with two cats, you can trust me on that. But it smelled good, and I was encouraged by the fact that there weren’t really any ingredients that I don’t like, not that I could see. I like lentil soup. It’s got a ton of fiber, which is great for you. You can’t go wrong with grilled chicken breast, and, while I prefer white rice, brown rice is at least acceptable to me. I had never thought to combine these three ingredients, but I was hungry, so I dug in.

So how was it? Pretty good, actually. The appearance aside, it was a nice combination of flavors, and it was a good amount for a single portion. It came with whole wheat pita bread for dipping, which was nice. I finished it off and was satisfied with my meal. Now, do I recommend Nature Works? Well, yes…and no. The Bob’s Plate was good, no doubt. But I saw on the menu that if I’d had to pay for it, it would have cost me $9.30, which is way higher than what I would have been willing to spend. It might be a good deal at half of that, but almost ten dollars is a lot to pay, especially in light of the fact that there are places within a couple of blocks where you can get a slice of pizza for a dollar. Of course, the guy who gave me the coupon would be quick to point out that pizza is nowhere near as good for you as what Nature Works is offering, but the simple fact is that it’s highly unlikely I’m going back there and shelling out $9.30. However, gentle reader, if you’re ever in the area and fancy spending ten bucks on lunch, I think you’ll be pleased. I’m sure Jersey Shore guy will be happy to see you.

Win Hing Review

Hello all. This week is my Win Hing review, a very good Chinese restaurant located at 9816 4th Avenue here in Bay Ridge. I’ve never been to Win Hing in person, but they’re the go-to delivery place for Megan and myself if we’re in the mood for Chinese. It’s American-style Chinese food, and, as such, it’s pretty typical. Staples such as General Tso’s, orange or sweet and sour chicken or beef, and lo mein abound. I’ve never gotten anything from Win Hing that wasn’t good, and some things that were excellent. But really the best thing about the place is the coupons that come with the menus that get slipped under our door at least once a week. The best is the one that gives you a free order of General Tsos or Sesame Chicken with a purchase of thirty dollars or more. When we order from Win Hing it’s pretty easy to spend thirty dollars, and with that coupon, we’re basically getting a free meal. Our orders usually end up being about forty bucks, and we’ll get enough food to last at least two days. Below are some of my favorites from Win Hing, along with the price and pictures.

Wonton soup is a good place to start. The wontons are like thick, chewy pasta pockets filled with succulent pork in a clear chicken broth. This is great any time but especially on a cold night in the winter. It warms you up wonderfully and gets you on the road to recovery if you’re sick. A quart is only $2.95.

Wonton Soup

Next up is General Tso’s chicken. This is a staple of American-style Chinese food, pieces of white meat chicken in a crispy coating that provides a satisfying crunch and is covered in a savory, sweet yet slightly spicy sauce. This comes free with the thirty dollar order, and it’s pictured below. If you want to get it without ordering the thirty bucks worth of food, it goes for $9.45. It also comes on a bed of broccoli, but needless to say, I throw it out. Wasteful, I know, but you’re not going to catch me eating any veggies, free or otherwise!

General Tso's Chicken

There are plenty of other things I can recommend from Win Hing. The beef stick appetizer is very tasty; you get four for $4.75, and Megan is fond of the steamed dumplings. You get eight for $4.85, very reasonable. But my favorite thing to get from Win Hing, hands down, is the half crispy roast duck, for $12.95. I love duck. It’s pretty unhealthy for you, as it’s high in both total and saturated fat. In fact, I can’t really recommend any of my favorite things at Win Hing for their health value, so this tends to be an occasional treat for us rather than a staple. The crispy duck is duck breast with the skin on served on a bed of veggies, which I discard. It comes with a dark, rich sauce that is really fantastic. I dip the duck pieces in the sauce and serve it up with white rice, and it’s just heavenly. Every time I eat it I probably take a couple days off my life, but you know what? So worth it. And so is Win Hing, in my opinion. The coupon makes it light on your wallet, you get plenty of food to feed yourself for a couple of days, and it’s pretty damn tasty. So check it out if you’re in Bay Ridge, and be sure to give that duck a try. You’ll be glad you did.

McCain Smiles Review

Hey folks. I’m back with another product review. This time I’ll be giving you my two cents on McCain Smiles, which are a frozen food item from McCain, which has a whole line of frozen food choices. They’re best known for their frozen potato products, veggies, and desserts. This product is available at many grocery stores. At the one in my neighborhood they go for $4.99 a bag, but I got this bag when they were on sale, two bags for four dollars, which is pretty awesome.  I used to live on frozen fries when I was younger. Now I don’t have them as much; they’re processed foods, which tend to have preservatives that generally aren’t great for you, and they’re high in sodium and sometimes total and saturated fat as well.  Smiles are a product that might not be great for you health wise, so you might want to eat them sparingly. I do, but whenever I get a bag, I really enjoy them. Basically, Smiles are crispy potato outsides and mashed potato insides, in, you guessed it, the shape of a smile. With Smiles, you get the best of a french free and mashed potatoes, together! Hard to argue with that. A picture of the bag is below.

SmilesThe total fat in one serving of Smiles is eight percent, and the saturated fat is three percent. That’s not ideal, considering that there’s seven servings per bag and a hungry guy like me is probably going to eat about half a bag at one sitting, but it could be worse. Below is the nutritional panel.

Smiles BackAs you can see, you’re at least getting some dietary fiber with this product, which is good. The Smiles can be cooked in a conventional oven. I did mine at 450 degrees on a baking pan for about eighteen minutes, turning them over once halfway through to make sure they browned evenly on either side.

Uncooked Smiles

I must say, these were delicious. With a dab of ketchup, they’re a perfect side dish to go along with a turkey burger, or reduced-fat hot dogs or chicken tenders. There’s something about food like this that I think is never going to get old for me, even now that I’m into my thirties. It’s the same stuff I liked as a teenager, and I still like it on occasion now. It reminds me of simpler times, times with less responsibility…and my food is actually smiling at me as I eat it!  I do recommend McCain smiles. They never fail to cheer me up, and fill me up.