Advocate taste-off: Finding the perfect cheesecake
Apr18

Advocate taste-off: Finding the perfect cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of the most decadent and delightful treats of all the sweets. A cheesecake should be fluffy and creamy, sugary and buttery, fresh and delicate. Because when it’s not, it’s a damn waste of calories slathered onto your hips. Being one of the best desserts also means cheesecake is one of the worst for you in terms of calories, fat, and sugar (it’s wonderful for you in terms of soul-boosting). So, it’s important when...

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Fudge Judging: We found the best local fudge around
Dec19

Fudge Judging: We found the best local fudge around

The winter holiday season is the best time for fudge. It’s a season of indulgence and sharing and sweets and fun — that’s what fudge is all about. Stock up on some now and hand out pounds of rich, creamy, gooey goodness as presents or keep it home and eat it sliver by sliver, chunk by chunk, handful by handful, etc. Advocate staffers editors Kristin Palpini and Hunter Styles, art director Jennifer Levesque, staff writer Peter Vancini,...

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Taste-Off: Crunchies for the Munchies
Aug15

Taste-Off: Crunchies for the Munchies

One classic question among lazy, hungry people goes like this: if you had to pick one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? It’s a fun question — and, if the Trumpocalypse triggers the end of global food supply lines, possibly a relevant one. But there is only one correct answer: salad. Why? Because a “salad” is just a mixture of more than one chopped-up thing, usually served with dressing. See? No contest.This has...

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Gettin’ Cheesy with it
Nov18

Gettin’ Cheesy with it

Cheese, glorious cheese. Many thanks to you, oh creamy fromage, for always being there when we need a snack, a spread turned meal, or simply a tasty addition to a dish otherwise lacking. You complete us. Of course, we Advocate staffers jumped at the chance to eat cheese. Come on, we know we’re not the only ones delighted by the curds and whey that have been the stuff of life for thousands of years. According to the International Dairy...

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Which cider house rules?
Oct19

Which cider house rules?

Cider is a great fall treat that’s sadly been smothered by the wave of pumpkin spice that overtakes New England when the leaves start to change. Tart, tangy, sweet, a punch of apple to the taste buds, the underappreciated cider is a robust beverage that truly deserves to be celebrated. Franklin County knows this. The 21st annual Franklin County CiderDays will be held Nov. 7-8. For this celebration, orchards, eateries, farms, and...

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Taste-Off! Pizza Showdown, Final Round: Slices of the Southern Valley
Sep16

Taste-Off! Pizza Showdown, Final Round: Slices of the Southern Valley

The staff of the Advocate realized something this week: we are really full of pizza. That’s what you get when you commit to judging a blind-tasting contest between 27 of the Valley’s best by-the-slice pizza establishments. In round one, back in March, we chowed down on cheese slices from Northampton. In May, we set our sights on Springfield pizzerias. In July, we broadened our horizons and pulled slices from all over the northern...

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Taste-Off! Pizza Showdown: The best slice in the Valley is at …
Sep14

Taste-Off! Pizza Showdown: The best slice in the Valley is at …

Drum roll please … After four rounds of blind taste-tests of cheese slices from 27 pizzerias across the Valley — from Greenfield to Springfield — the Advocate staff is ready to announce the winner of our summer slice smackdown. Without knowledge of where the slice came from, we graded pizza on a scale of 1 (yuck) to 5 (yum). Why cheese? We didn’t want to be distracted by toppings. We wanted to judge the essence of the pie....

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Taste-off! Brownie  BRAWL, Valley brownies go head to head and the winner may surprise you
Aug19

Taste-off! Brownie BRAWL, Valley brownies go head to head and the winner may surprise you

Ah, the classic American brownie — it’s the chocolate chip cookie for chocolate lovers. Everybody has a brownie story. Whether your Grandma made the best, you ate that funny smelling one and couldn’t speak for a while, or you had the munchies and ate a whole tray of them, these chocolate squares hold a special place in hearts. And stomachs. The six contenders browned in six different bakeries around the Valley: The Black Sheep in...

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PODCAST Taste-Off! Slice  Showdown Part 3, pizza from the northern Valley
Jul22

PODCAST Taste-Off! Slice Showdown Part 3, pizza from the northern Valley

It’s round three in our all-Valley pizza slice smackdown. This month we tasted pies from the northern half of the Valley, grabbing slices of cheese from Amherst House of Pizza, Sibie’s, and Sub and Pizza, all of Amherst; Antonio’s and Papa George’s, both of Easthampton; Hillside and Primo Pizzeria, both of Deerfield; Frontier Pizza in Sunderland; and Roberto’s in Greenfield. Advocate staff chose to review cheese slices because if you...

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Taste-Off! Local ice cream makers go head to head
Jun16

Taste-Off! Local ice cream makers go head to head

Now that summer is almost here, we’re reaching for one of our favorite ice cream combos to get us through the work week: thick ribbons of fudge and belts of peanut butter cups in sweet vanilla ice cream. We’d call it Moose Tracks, except that name has been owned by the Denali Ice Cream company since the early ’90s. Trademark or no, it’s a winning concoction and many local ice cream makers produce a take on Moose Tracks. In order to...

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Slice Showdown Part 2: Which pizzeria makes the best slice in Springfield?
May20

Slice Showdown Part 2: Which pizzeria makes the best slice in Springfield?

It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta bloat their bellies with massive amounts of pizza to find the best slice in the Valley. This week we bring you Part 2 of our Slice Showdown and we tasted Springfield pies. Limiting our pizza to slices only, we hit the streets. And we were apparently feeling nostalgic on this taste-testing day. Editor Kristin Palpini said the slice from Siano’s was good break-up comfort-food reminiscent of rainy...

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Taste-Off!: Dueling Donuts, which shop makes the best donuts in the Valley?
Apr28

Taste-Off!: Dueling Donuts, which shop makes the best donuts in the Valley?

Dueling Donut Podcast Homer Simpson said it best when he drooled out, “mmmm … donuts.” That pretty much says it all: fried, crispy, sugary-sweet, warm, melty cake. Or for short “mmmmmm.” For this Taste-Off! the Advocate staff searched around the Valley for the best local donuts and we invited a guest judge with a good sense of humor to join us: Northampton Officer Ryan Tellier. We thought we’d have some fun with the old...

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Taste-Off! Slice Showdown, Part 1: Which Northampton by-the-slice pizza joint lays claim to the best?
Mar24

Taste-Off! Slice Showdown, Part 1: Which Northampton by-the-slice pizza joint lays claim to the best?

Pizza — it’s as American as, well, burritos and frankenfurters. Determining what’s the best pizza is a heady, touchy business. And in an area where there’s a pizza joint every 50 feet or so, the stakes are high. For something that is, at its most elemental, just cheese, sauce, and crust, pizza is also subject to plenty of variations. Some of them are variations that aren’t necessarily obvious — what makes (an American) pizza “Greek”...

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Cookie Clash: Which chocolate chip cookie is the ultimate in the Valley?
Feb18

Cookie Clash: Which chocolate chip cookie is the ultimate in the Valley?

The lines were drawn. On one side, #TeamChewy and on the other, #TeamCrunchy. The Advocate’s chocolate chip cookie Taste-off was about to commence. Who would have suspected the ubiquitous and beloved chocolate chip cookie would yield such feuding within our normally harmonious clan? Some valued tasty dough over high chip counts, but the chocoholics among us scoffed. What’s better: thick or thin? A little burnt or doughy white? These,...

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Epic Chowder Smackdown: Old school fish shop takes top honor
Jan15

Epic Chowder Smackdown: Old school fish shop takes top honor

Schermerhorn’s Seafood Restaurant clam chowder, Holyoke Score: 4.5 Price: cup, $3.99; bowl, $4.99 The judges found this chowder deliciously creamy and well-balanced. Amanda: Everything a clam chowder should be. You could actually smell the clams. Kristin: The clams were soft and the creamy potato mixed nicely. Buttery fishy goodness. Lou: A little gritty, but not too gritty. This is a very classic clam chowder done well. Cal’s...

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