USA Visit 2016 #1

I made a visit to State College during the middle of March for my annual card game tournament. It’s also more than half a year since I last crossed the border for personal shopping and hunting weird American flavours.

Here’s a picture of the top half of our combined haul in the trunk coming back.

march_trunk

I haven’t formally calculated how much I spent, but my estimate is about $200 USD.

Here are the salty snacks:

haul1

In no order:

  • Doritos Mix Taco Explosion
  • Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs
  • Utz Chesapeake Bay Crab Chips
  • Utz Bacon Horseradish Chips
  • Lays Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
  • Lays Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs
  • Lays Smoked Gouda
  • Lays Korean Barbecue
  • Pringles Bacon
  • Pringles French Onion Dip
  • Lays Lime (Limon)
  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha Lattice Kettle Chips
  • Trader Joe’s Partially Popped Popcorn
  • Herr’s Crabfries
  • Popcorn Indiana Dark Fudge Sea Salt Caramel Drizzlecorn
  • Tops Jalapeno
  • Tops Cheddar and Horseradish
  • Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut Dill Pickle
  • Cinnamon Apple Snack Sticks

My sweet foods:

haul2

  • Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookies
  • Cinnamon Bun Oreos
  • Oreo Megastuff
  • Red Velvet Oreos
  • Cinnabon Cereal
  • Lindt Citrus
  • Crunch Snoopy Chocolate
  • Peanut Butter Oreos
  • Twix Egg
  • Herr’s Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels
  • M&M Peanut Butter Eggs
  • Lindt Cookies & Creme Chocolate Sticks
  • Lindt Caramel Chocolate Sticks
  • Crunch Eggs
  • Chip Ahoy! Soft Chunky Peanut Butter
  • Big Sour Patch Kids
  • Mega M&M’s Peanut
  • Mega M&M’s Chocolate
  • Twix Eggs
  • Butterfinger Heart
  • Twix Heart
  • Snickers Heart
  • Trader Joe’s:
    • Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles
    • Fleur De Sel Caramels
    • Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter
    • Cookie & Cocoa Swirl Cookie Butter
    • Milk Chocolate Truffle
    • Dark Chocolate Truffle
    • Cookie Butter Bar
    • PB&J Bar
    • Caramel Cookie Bar
    • Cookie Butter Cookies
    • Fireworks Bar
    • Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar

And the sodas:

haul3

  • Dr Pepper (cane sugar)
  • Diet Coke
  • Trader Joe’s Brewed Ginger Beer
  • Maple Cream Craft Brewed Soda
  • Ryan’s Delicious Ginger Ale
  • Reed’s Ginger Ale
  • Vanilla Creme Soda
  • Mexican Orange Crush
  • Virgil’s Real Cola
  • Virgil’s Cream Soda
  • Sprecifer Root Beer
  • Ginger Beer/Peach Pear Soda/Root Beer/Pluot Soda/Cream Soda
  • Seagram’s Ginger Ale

Pretty decent haul, many thanks to my friends Marcel and Amanda for graciously driving me back home with the mountain of goodies. I will review them as I share them with the guys at work.

Boardgames took a 2 week break but I should be able to do a double post after this Thursday’s gaming session.

Just Craft Soda Review

Just Craft Soda

From their website, they made a soda with balanced flavour combinations with natural ingredients and 60% fruit juice. I really only care about the balanced flavours.

justcraftsoda

I picked up 4 of the 5 flavours at my local Sobeys and found the last flavour at Brock Sandwich in Toronto. I’m going to list them in the order I sampled them with my colleagues.

Peach and Habanero

I was most intrigued by this flavour, not sure what to expect with habanero peppers as a complement to peach. It worked out quite nicely with the peach flavour completely dominating the soda at the beginning with the spiciness of the habanero lingering long after the peach dissipates.

Apple and Ginger

I’m a huge fan of ginger ales and I love apple juice and cider. Mixing the two together should be the best thing to drink right? A bit of yes, a bit of no. The ginger was closer to a beer and overpowered the apple taste.

Pear and Vanilla

The vanilla complemented the pear flavouring quite well and it was the smoothest soda out of the 5.

Cherry and Cinnamon

At the office, we drink out of plastic disposable shot glasses, and this soda reminded me of drinking cough medicine. That’s not a bad thing. The combination of cherry and cinnamon worked out quite well and it was pretty well balanced.

Lemon and Lemongrass

I was expecting a full blast of sourness to this drink but it was actually a little bitter to the taste. It was very similar to mountain dew in terms of overall flavour.

 

If I were to rank them, I’d probably put Pear/Vanilla at the top, followed by Apple/Ginger and Cherry/Cinnamon in 2nd and 3rd place. For fourth place, it would have to go to Peach/Habanero. Last place would be Lemon/Lemongrass, mostly based on my expectations of the drink.

Next post should be a board games and Oreos post. I’m finally getting my hands on Cinnamon Bun Oreos and expect to try them at the end of the week.

Board Games (Feb 11 + 18)

Been a bit busy with personal things, but here’s a double post about board games. I’ll have another post about a five new sodas I saw at my grocery store.

Lords of Waterdeep

20160211_192956

I’ve played this game (and its expansion) at my friend’s house before and I liked how simple the game seemed. It’s a basic worker placement game where you have to earn points by completing certain quests and various other things like establishing buildings. The buildings are where a worker can be placed, you recruit a fixed number of agents in these buildings (or not, sometimes you can do other things) to complete quests with. That’s the gist of the game without digging into too much detail. I think it’s about a medium on the learning curve, there are a lot of things to set up before you can start the game.

King of New York

20160211_201153

King of New York is a sequel to King of Tokyo and it’s a bit more complex than the original game. The basic rules are still the game, either be the last monster standing or be the first monster with 20 victory points. I can’t remember too much about the game, there are the 5 boroughs of New York, with Manhattan being similar to Tokyo City in the other game. Each borough has buildings for you to destroy for victory points or health, but defeating them will cause tanks or airplanes to attack you. I liked the simplicity of King of Tokyo, but this game was a bit too chaotic for me.

Codenames

20160213_204306

Bonus content, this game wasn’t played at Games on Tap but I’ll make a mention of it here. We played Codenames, a very popular game that came out last year.

There are 2 teams, each with a spymaster, and they have to contact undercover agents on their team. The spymasters have a grid that shows which agents on the 5×5 board belong to which team, including innocent people and the assassin. They take turns giving clues to their team, trying to contact as many agents as possible each turn. Agent names may or may not be directly related to each other or it could possibly be related to an agent on the other team.

I find it hard, conceptually, to play this game with less than 6 people. It’s possible with 4 people but it really benefits with the discussion between 2 people to decipher clues from spymasters. It’s also fun to see how compatible you are with other people, at least on an intellectual level. When I played with my cousins, I was thinking too complex for some of them and was able to find unwanted hidden meanings in some terms — which cost us the game.

Manilla

20160218_185730

A favourite of mine and becoming a favourite for the gaming group. It’s a mix of gambling, worker placement, speculation into one very intense game. You’re essentially trying to get the most coins at the end of the game and you earn them by being risky with your worker placement. The higher the risk, the higher the reward. There are certain safe bets that can sometimes earn decent payouts, but to earn those spots, you pretty much have to win an auction at the beginning of each round which can get costly.

Sheriff of Nottingham

20160218_210139

My cousin mentioned this game to me and I liked the idea behind it. It’s a pure bluffing game. You’re trying to smuggle goods into town but the sheriff stops you. You can choose to bribe the sheriff and hopefully make it into town with contraband. Everyone takes turns being the sheriff twice and it’s fun to see the game evolve. Our game was mostly honest players, everyone trying to get into town with properly declared goods. I was probably the only one trying to stir the pot too often.

Sodas

I just discovered Just Craft Soda, a local brewery that makes sodas with interesting flavours. I have 4/5 of the flavours sampled around work and I have one left to send around before I make a post.