Thursday, September 15, 2011

Product Review: Candle Cafe Frozen Meals

Candle Cafe is a well-known vegan restaurant chain in NYC. I've been hearing rave reviews about this place for years, but I've only been to NYC very briefly. When I first heard they were releasing their new line of vegan frozen meals, I was pretty excited. Amy's, Kashi, and other brands only go so far after you've had them a few times. As a student, I live off a lot of frozen food (hellloo Gardein and Boca). My local Whole Foods had all 4 types they have released: Seitan Piccata with Lemon Caper Suace, Macaroni & Vegan Cheese, Tofu Spinach Ravioli, and Ginger Miso Stir-Fry. 

The first meal I tried was the Ginger Miso Stir-Fry. It was just kind of your average frozen stir-fry. I wouldn't call it anything terribly special. I enjoyed the tofu that was added to it so it wasn't just all vegetables and rice. The portion is rather small, so I would say if you are having this for dinner, to eat something else with it or have it as a light lunch.

Next, I tried the Seitan Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce. I really enjoyed this one. The lemon caper sauce is fantastic with a great lemony, tang taste. It compliments the rice and seitan very well. The seitan reminded me a lot of Match Meats, though. If you've ever had their chick'n or crab and you try this frozen meal, you'll see what I mean. That would be my only complaint for this one.

I split the Macaroni & Vegan Cheese with a friend one night as a snack. I was very surprised to see what looked like to me as Daiya on it. I checked the ingredients and then read the ingredients on my bag of mozzarella Daiya and found they were the same. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it is Daiya. This was really disappointing for me because I was excited to try a "new" product. It was good, don't get me wrong, but it melted kind of the way Daiya does too - not in a "creamy" fashion, but more of a lumpy fashion when you just pour some shreds over whatever you are cooking. This really isn't the most desired effect you want for mac 'n cheese. My opinion is just go for Amy's vegan mac 'n cheese if you are going to buy a frozen variety. For me, Amy's has a more creamy taste and despite it also has Daiya in it, it works better. If you are concerned about calories, though, Amy's does have more so opt for Candle Cafe.

Lastly, there is the Tofu Spinach Ravioli. I loved this one too. It also has what looks like to be Daiya on it, but that's okay as it is not meant to be creamy like a mac 'n cheese. The ravioli's were tasty and the marinara with cheese complimented them very well. I would definitely pick this one up again for a light dinner.

Overall, I enjoyed the Seitan Piccata and the Tofu Spinach Ravioli the most. I would buy these guys again. The other two, I was not that impressed by. Also, all three are pretty low in calorie content (200-300 calories) so they do make for a good lunch or small dinner.

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