Review: CasCal Fermented Natural Soda

I came across CasCal Fermented Soda while at my local Whole Foods Market the other day, while refilling my growler of Kombucha tea.

I’ve been searching for alternatives to regular soda, so I picked up a bottle of CasCal Ripe Rouge, one of 5 available flavors. They only had 3 available at the time of purchase.

CasCal is made with fermented juices and fermented malt. Its marked as have a “grown-up” taste, while being caffeine-free and alcohol-free.

I figured since I’ve enjoyed a number of fermented beverages before, albeit alcoholic ones, that I might enjoy fermented juice soda too.

This drink is marketed basically like a wine, except without the alcohol. As you can see in the graphic above from the CasCal website, the flavor I tried has “Notes of Cherry, Chocolate, and Rose” and “pairs well with asiago cheese, grilled beef, and chocolate.”

I have to admit that I was skeptical that a juice made from fermented apple juice and lemon juice could taste like cherry, chocolate, and rose. But after the first few sips of this rather dry beverage the cherry and chocolate notes became prominent.

With no added sugars, the drink was sweet enough from the 38% juice, and of course healthier that way. I seem to recall other juices being ingredients in this particular flavor, but the website doesn’t seem to mention them, which is odd.

The drink does partially live up to the “grown-up taste” moniker given to it because its not too sweet and the fermented barley malt does give it a beer-like texture. The part that’s missing is that its not grown-up enough to actually contain alcohol, which is what I missed from a drink trying this hard to get “grown-up” attention.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a healthy, alcohol-alternative drink, this might be the drink for you.

I give it 3 out of 5 bottles.

You can find out more about CasCal at or on Facebook. Available at Whole Foods Market and Fairway.

Celebrating Dad’s Birthday at Medieval Times

Going to Medieval Times in New Jersey is a family tradition for my Dad’s birthday every June.

This year was no different and we found ourselves in Northern Jersey cheering on the Red & Yellow Knight, while we consumed a meal fit for a nobleman of a half chicken, a rib, potato, tomato bisque, garlic bread, and an apple turnover. (All without utensils.)

We even bought my dad the Father’s Day package and he got a special photo of him sitting in a royal throne, along with getting his name announced as a special guest, and getting a special flag to wave.

For those of you who haven’t been to Medieval Times, the story involves several good knights and an evil and jealous Green Knight that basically tries to kill everyone.

So, of course, our knight was the Green Knight’s first victim, suffering a most mortal would after getting knocked off his horse (literally) during a fight-to-the-death jousting session.

We all enjoyed the one-on-one combat and the story line, even if it has gotten somewhat familiar after several times there. And the hawk that they let fly loose around the arena is also pretty cool, despite the fact that I always feel tempted to lift up my chicken leg to suddenly become part of the show.

The only drawback this year was that the actor playing the King sounded so whiny and nasally that we had trouble understanding what he was saying. Some king that was… sounded like a cross between Milhouse from The Simpsons and Gilbert Godfried.

But along with the entertainment and a few royal steins of beer we all enjoyed ourselves and will likely be back again next year.

Anthony and Melissa: Our First Year Together

Today marks my one year anniversary with my girlfriend, Melissa.

This past year has been both amazing and exhilarating. We’ve traveled and we’ve spent time together at home. We’ve both seen new places and met new people that have made our lives better. We’ve learned just how great helping each other feels. We’ve enjoyed being in sync and seen more than enough signs of “446” together.

We’ve tweeted, blogged, and dailyboothed. We’ve used thousands and thousands of cellphone minutes.

She’s inspired me to express myself again in word and photographs. We created a baseball blog together about our favorite MLB teams, the Dodgers and the Mets.

We’ve shared new foods together and enjoyed new experiences. We both loved going to the movies and listening to music together. We’ve decided on and then watched our television shows together.

We’ve shared our love of dinosaurs and history together. We’ve traded baseball stats and players our teams have shared.

We’ve heard our song, You & Me by Dave Matthews Band, many many times, just about everywhere:

And we’ve laughed, cried, joked, debated, discussed, lived, and loved together more than either of us every have before.

And all of that is exactly why our relationship works so well and why she means so much to me.

I’m looking forward to what the next years will bring! Love you, sweetie! <#

Bobby’s Burger Palace: A Review

Bobby's Burger Palace in Lake Grove, NY

Bobby's Burger Palace in Lake Grove, NY

On a whim today, I decided to try out the Bobby’s Burger Palace that is attached to my local mall.

Somehow it slipped my mind that BBP is Bobby Flay’s Fast Casual Burger Concept or what I have come to call The Right Way to Do Burgers.

I went to the Long Island location, but there are also two BBP’s in New Jersey and one in Connecticut.

Now you may or may not know Bobby Flay as an Iron Chef, from any of his famous restaurants, or for marrying actress Stephanie March (Law and Order: SVU), but let’s face it — none of that matters when you are hungry and just want a delicious burger.

And that’s exactly how I felt when I walked into the place.

I immediately noticed the unique interior design of the place.  A serpentine counter stretched from the front to the back of the place and comfortable green chairs with built-in footrests highlighted the earth-toned yellow-red-green color scheme of the place.

Bobby's Signature Burgers

Bobby's Signature Burgers

Two huge floor-to-ceiling menu boards listed the Bobby’s 10 Signature Burgers and sides. Each burger reflected a different region of the U.S. — from the Philadelphia Burger (Provolone/Grilled Onions/Hot Peppers) to the Miami Burger (Pressed with Ham/Swiss/Pickles/Mustard/Mayo) to the Napa Valley Burger (Fresh Goat Cheese/Watercress/Meyer Lemon Honey Mustard). Each burger can be made from either Black Angus Beef, Turkey, or Chicken.

The sides were equally mouthwatering, including standard french fries, sweet potato fries, and beer-battered onion rings. BBP also serves a Griddled Cheese and a Griddled Cheese Deluxe with Goat Cheese, as well as an assortment of sodas and shakes.

Flay’s Fast Casual concept basically means ordering your meal at the register, paying, and then having your food brought to you at your table. The whole idea sets the restaurant apart from your usual fast food burger place, yet at the same time ends up being a generally fast way to get your food.

I ordered the Dallas Burger (Spice Crusted/Coleslaw/Monterey Jack/BBQ Sauce/Pickles) but I had them hold the coleslaw, cause there’s just something about mayonnaise-soaked cabbage that doesn’t sit well with me. Sweet potato fries were my choice of side and I rounded it out with an iced tea.

You are given the choice to “crunchify” your burger (top it with potato chips) at no extra cost, apparently a Bobby Flay favorite. I didn’t want to be distracted by a massive mound of chips on top of my burger, so I skipped the free “cruchification.”

The food came to my table in the time it took to tweet and send a text message to my girlfriend about my excitement over my new find.

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay

The burger was served on a fresh sesame-seed bun and was juicy with just the perfect combination of flavors. A carousel of Bobby Flay Signature Sauces was also nearby in case you wanted to add a Hot Pepper Sauce or Burger Sauce to your food.

The BBQ sauce that came with my Dallas Burger was tasting pretty good, so I decided to not mess with the intended mix of flavors. But I could imagine getting a plain cheeseburger for a dollar less and making my own creation with the sauces.

The sweet potato fries were presented in a tall stack inside a metal cylinder on top of a small plate, which definitely beats regular fries in a cardboard box. They came with a Honey Mustard Horseradish Sauce, which only had a hint of spice and that complimented the sweetness of the fries. All-in-all, it was a great meal.

While I can definitely give a thumbs-up to the Dallas Burger, I feel like I will have to stop by Bobby’s Burger Palace again sometime soon to try the rest of the Signature Burgers. Not to mention one of those shakes.

And I definitely have to see if I like goat cheese and watercress toppings by ordering that Napa Valley Burger. You don’t see those sort of toppings at your usual burger place!

BOTTOMLINE: Great concept, great interior, great food, great place. I’ll be back for sure!

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