Monday, April 7, 2008

A Pair of Nuts

Let’s do it right and start the festivities with a duo of nuts. Don’t ask me why, but it just feels right to do a pair at a time. I submit for your consideration these two antioxidant-filled cans of fun.

The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg, Virginia Peanuts Lightly Salted

The Peanut Roaster Selects Golden Gourmet Peanuts

This is the second time I’ve cracked a can of the Williamsburg peanuts. The first one had a baseball theme, but both look like they contain the same product - I found nothing on the labels to suggest otherwise. If my whisky-addled mind recalls correctly, the baseball nuts were a little larger and crunchier, but I don’t know if that was by design or due to differences in the cooking process or variability in their peanut supply or both. I believe the same folks who make this also sell nuts under the “Smithfield Tavern” label.

Close-up of The Peanut Shop's Nuts

The Williamsburg nuts are lightly salted. You should be able to see from the close-ups that these have almost no visible salt, while the Peanut Roaster’s nuts are coated with a fine dusting. The nutrition label has these goobers coming in at 40mg of sodium per a 28g serving, while the Roaster’s are 85 mg.

"Golden Gourmet" just came back from a Florida vacation

Salt content is always an important consideration. I’m well known in my family for being an intolerable fusspot when it comes to salt levels. My preferences exist in a very narrow band.

Williamsburg’s lightly salted nuts are salted too lightly for my taste, and the Roasters’ are just a tad too salty. However, I found a happy medium when the two are eaten in combination.

John Edward, “a happy medium”

It is unthinkable to throw a nut party without the proper libation. I stuck my head in the fridge and pondered deeply, finally emerging with this German pilsner. The Radeberger pilsner is a light and refreshing brew - a fine choice even if I say so myself. The hoppiness of the beer cuts nicely through the oiliness of the peanuts. It was also the only beer I had.

On balance, the Roaster’s nuts appear darker than Williamsburg’s but they are similar in size. Being nuts of the Virginia variety, they are both bigger than the Planter’s. Planters do not reveal what cultivar they use for their regular cocktail peanuts. The Virginia nuts also cook up crunchier and less greasy compared to Planters.

Besides the saltiness, I could not find much else to differentiate the two. Though the Roasters’ look more “roasted”, the flavor isn’t appreciably better or worse. It is important, however, to take note of hidden treasures in both cans. They are something quite special - something I like to call the “uber-nuts”.

Uber-nuts are nuts that look like they got too much face time with some very hot oil, causing small blisters to form on the surface. The uber-nuts tend to have the heartiest crunch and the best flavor. I wish I could take credit for the discovery, but this is hardly the first time a link is made between hot oil, blisters and giddy pleasure. That’s a story we know all too well, am I right guys? You know I’m right.

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