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Taste Test Thursday: Chocolate Macarons

It seems there’s a food holiday for every type of cuisine under the sun. Heck, even blueberry pancakes have their own special day. That said, tomorrow is National Macaron Day. The French pastries have made quite a name for themselves over the past couple of years, and more and more bakeries in town are offering the dainty treats. For this week’s taste test we tried four different chocolate macarons. They were all unique, but one was unanimously more delicious than the others.

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Taste Test Thursday: Weird Beers

This week D Magazine staffers tasted a handful of bizarre brews. Now, we’re not talking about artificially flavored chocolate-banana-doughnut ales. No way. These selections are all brewed with natural, and somewhat odd ingredients that aren’t typically associated with beer.

There’s a bottle brewed with oysters, another that tastes like a really great bowl of curry, and one that’ll keep vampires at bay (it actually has holy water in it). Pretty weird. Or awesome, depending how into vampire lore you are. Here’s what happened.

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Taste Test Thursday: Sea Salt

I recently revisited Jeffery Steingarten’s “Salt Chic” piece in “It Must’ve Been Something I Ate.” In the essay, the Vogue food critic explores the validity of exotic salts, and questions whether or not they’re worth paying extra for. “Now, every gourmet store sells costly varieties of salt in a rainbow of colors from the world over. Food fans who once brought back unusual olive oils to their friends back home now come bearing bags of exotic salts,” he writes. Later in the piece he conducts a salt taste test. I thought it would be fun to oversee my own salt taste test this week. The sea salts tasted included a Himalayan pink salt, black lava salt, fleur de sel, Brittany sea salt, Alaea red Hawaiian salt, and sea salt from Trapani. Unfortunately, not all of my co-workers felt the same. “We’re tasting salt?” one questioned. Another shot me a serious stink-eye and sneered, “this is gross.” I promised them something much more delicious next week.

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Taste Test Thursday Wednesday: Champagne

Sparkling wine is fine for celebrating everyday occasions, but we at SideDish feel there’s something special about ringing in the new year with a proper glass of champagne. For this week’s taste test, with some help from a wine expert, I selected five bottles of champagne that cost less than $50 a piece. Some were dry, others juicy, but only one reigned supreme. Here’s what we thought.

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Taste Test Thursday: Cheese Logs Balls

The cheese log is as vintage as lava lamps and bouffants. The dish, which was once a party staple, is making a comeback with a little help from Pinterest and trendy DIY cookbooks. I stopped by multiple grocery stores in pursuit of log-shaped cheese, rolled in toasted nuts. Unfortunately, I only came across one log. The rest were spherical. Surely the shape doesn’t affect the taste, right?

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Taste Test Thursday: Holiday Beer

So you’re running late to your sister’s boyfriend’s boss’ holiday party and agreed to grab a seasonally appropriate six-pack on the way. The beer aisle at the liquor store is littered with decorative packaging, each boasting its own brand of holiday delight. Every label taunts the palate with promises of pecans, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, oranges, cocoa, and even toffee. How the heck are you supposed to choose?

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Taste Test Thursday: Pumpkin Pie

Iron your great grandmother’s fall foliage table runner and polish your turkey-shaped candelabras, Thanksgiving is merely a week away. How did it creep up so fast? Good question. Don’t worry if you haven’t had time to dust off your Williams-Sonoma cookbook, though. Area grocery stores are stocked full of ready-made, no fuss options for your holiday banquet. Some of which aren’t too shabby, either.

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Taste Test Thursday: Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and while your Pinterest board may be overflowing with mouthwatering recipes that you’ve been daydreaming about making since April, it’s important to keep alternative, quick options on hand. Let’s face it, life throws curveballs — especially around the holidays — and that heavenly turkey and cranberry strudel that you’ve been dreaming of might never materialize.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be tasting Thanksgiving staples that can be purchased at grocery stores in and around Dallas. We’re kicking things off this week with cranberry sauce. The holiday side comes in a variety of flavors, shapes and consistencies. My personal favorite is the gelatinous blob that comes in the shape of the can. The more can rings imprinted on the mold, the better. On the other hand, there are some delectable whole-berry, organic sauces out there that are sure to delight even the snobbiest of dinner guests.

I ran around to a handful of grocery store in town and picked up a few varieties of cranberry sauces, and a handful of helpful D Magazine staff members tasted them. Here’s what they thought.

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Taste Test Thursday: Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles, they’re versatile and delicious. You can slice them, fry them, stick them in a sandwich, or use their juice to chase down a shot of whiskey. There’s nothing quite like the briny zing of a dill pickle. But like most things, they come in a variety of shapes, colors and textures. There’s kosher, organic, spicy, sweet, garlic-infused, all of which flaunt the title “dill pickle.” For this week’s blind taste test, D Magazine staff tried a handful of store-bought spears. Here’s what they thought.

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Taste Test Thursday: Restaurant Chips and Salsa

It seems everybody has an opinion when it comes to chips and salsa in Dallas, and more often than not, the opinion is a strong one. It’s one of those heated issues that can be uncomfortable to bring up in a room full of people — like religious views, or whether or not David Lynch is a sellout for endorsing a line of women’s athletic wear (I recently had a friend storm out of a cocktail party in a huff over that particular topic). People hold their favorite chips and salsa combos near and dear to their hearts. And truthfully, the quality (or lack thereof) is enough to lead someone to a specific restaurant, or steer them away. Ideally, we would have tasted all of the chips and salsas in town for this week’s blind taste test, but there was simply not enough counter space, or room in our bellies. So I narrowed down the selection to seven. Here’s what happened.

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Taste Test Thursday: French Baguettes

Last week a colleague asked me where he could find a delicious French baguette in downtown Dallas. I sat there for what felt like an hour with my mouth open while my eyes glazed over. I finally answered with a long “uhhhhhhh….” Truth is, I had no idea. Ridden with an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy, I hopped on Google and started searching. While I couldn’t find anything in the downtown area, I did come across plenty of information on the usual suspects: Empire Baking Company, eatZi’s, Whole Foods, Village Baking Co. and Central Market. It seems each bakery has its own version of the classic French loaf. But which one is the best? A handful of conscientious D Magazine staffers stuffed their faces with bread for this week’s blind taste test. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. Here’s what they thought.

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