Restaurant Review: The Pizza Oven

. . .I love these weird, out of the way places. It’s kind of like ecology. Every crack in the sidewalk, life takes root, plants find their tiny patch of soil and sunshine. Small business does that, too, finding economic niches in the oddest spots. Perhaps no species is more versatile than the pizza delivery place.

Fresh, oven-baked copy over at the Spectator Tribune. Get it while it’s hot.

Pissing People Off With My Writing

It happens, sometimes. Not intentionally. I try to be fair, perform some honest research, leave polemicism out of it. But sometimes there are people out there with an interest in my writing something very different than what I have, in fact, chosen to write.

Some time ago I wrote on Care2 about a fossil fuel shill who managed to get an instructor gig in one of those massive, science-for-humanities-majors intro courses, in Canada’s own Carleton University. I was alerted to the story by one of the science policy/education watchdog groups I keep in touch with (and have done since before I wrote about this sort of stuff — science teachers need to know about attacks on reality as much as science/environment writers do).

The story was easily verified by checking out the actual course information on Carleton’s own website, and the sort of falsehoods being propagated by this climate denier in the classroom are neither subtle nor relative. Just the other day, Tom Harris left a comment both on that months-old article, and here on the site (on my About page). He wants me to take down the article. I won’t be doing that.

There’s no need to respond to his message point-by-point because he complains my article is inaccurate, when it simply isn’t. You either understand and buy into the scientific method, or you think you can just make anything up you want. I’m not going to attempt a rational conversation with someone who falls into the latter group.

Also recently, I received a message about a restaurant I reviewed here on the site, my local Zesto’s. I had a bad experience there, but didn’t pile on (I think) too much. It’s not the first response I’ve received to that review: not long after the posting went up, somebody commented on Urban Spoon (to which I linked in the review) that I was full of it. It was a bit suspicious (the user made an account apparently just to comment on my review and has never made another posting since I last checked), and in any case, there was little to it other than name-calling.

But the message I received this week was from the actual restaurant owner apologizing for the issues I experienced,and inviting us back for another meal. I give her credit for that. I appreciate the difficulty in finding good people in the service industry, and I’m happy to know that that particular employee’s behaviour is at least not official Zesto’s policy.

I won’t be taking up that meal offer, but I acknowledge it here. She’s trying to make up for a bad first impression, which is difficult to do. At the very least, a polite, honest communication is more likely to get a response from me than ad hominems.

Food Review: Foosh Energy Mints

Foosh Energy Mints are made by Vroom Foods, the same company that has been making Buzz Bites for years. The basic idea of both products is the same: take the caffeine of a full cup of coffee (100 mg, to be precise), wrap it up in a small candy that you can pop right into your mouth.

I happen to not be a coffee drinker. I drink both black and green teas, neither on a daily basis, and even the former has significantly less caffeine than a cup of coffee. I used to drink soda on occasion, but have essentially been off the fizzy sugar water for years. In other words, I was completely decaffeinated when I decided to test these “seriously caffeinated” peppermints out.

Somewhere around mid-morning on a Friday, I decided to try my first one. Vroom didn’t invent caffeine, and I’m not going to hold them responsible for the effects of the stimulant, which can vary from person to person. I will note that the body adjusts to caffeine, so if you want your cup of coffee, Foosh, or whatever to be truly effective, you should make sure you are not ingesting caffeine either frequently or regularly, but only as needed.

Having done just that, the result in my caes was a certain nervous energy that, unfortunately, I had no real way to dissipate. I wondered if I might be experiencing a placebo effect, so I took another mint to make sure, and soon the physical signs were unmistakable. I was jittery, my hands were shaking, my heart was running a little faster, and I wanted nothing more than to start running laps until the feeling went away. If I were on my way to a work-out, this would have been ideal. For the bad timing of being over-caffeinated in an office environment, I can only blame myself.

Don’t be so surprised at my poor decision. I wasn’t really expecting such a pronounced effect, since I didn’t realize how high this dose was compared to anything I’ve ever experienced before. It turns out that 100 mg of caffeine is the equivalent of three cans of soda (which put me at six cans’ worth of caffeine, with my two mints). Also, besides the caffeine, the mints include a cocktail of other, somewhat less potent stimulants, like ginseng and taurine, plus a handful of vitamins. I’ll be sure not to underestimate their effect on me the next time.

Taste is almost beside the point, so long as the candies aren’t inedible. I’ll note that caffeine is actually quite bitter. Most people don’t realize this because it’s rarely found in such a concentrated dose; in a soda or cappuccino, for example, the caffeine taste is basically drowned out by sugar and other flavours. Given such a large amount in a candy of this size, it’s impossible to completely mask the taste of the bitter alkaloid. The strength of the peppermint flavour, however, similar to what you’ll find in an Altoid, at least relegates the bitterness to an odd aftertaste. Certainly the caffeine peppermint pairing works much better than the “chocolate” Buzz Bites chews.

Foosh Energy Mints do pretty much exactly what they promise: they’re edible enough, serve as potent breath fresheners, and deliver a powerful dose of caffeine (along with a handful of secondary active ingredients). How you use them and to what effect will depend on how much of a caffeine hound you already are, and probably on many parametres of your baseline physiology. But I have no qualms at endorsing these as, indeed, seriously caffeinated.

Article first published as Tastes Review: Foosh Energy Mints on Blogcritics.