Some number of weeks ago -I’ve forgotten already because I’m a senile old fart- I had taken a vacation week off work. And when the cards of fate line up so that my parents and I are on vacation at the same time, that can only mean one thing: a day-long road trip to some places around rural Manitoba.
“Day-long” may be puffing it up a bit, though. It’s more like half a day at most. Truth be told, we all get bored of seeing a whole lot of nothing fairly quickly.
This year’s road trip began with a tasty brunch out at a funky little place just outside of the city. I don’t remember what it was called, but it’s squirreled away behind two golf courses. It was so pretty and rustic and woodly, I immediately brought up how I felt like I had wandered onto the set of Gilmore Girls. To which my father let out an exasperated sigh, and the rest of us enjoyed the rest of the day making Gilmore Girls references.
That’s not really relevant to this post though. I just needed an excuse to bring up Gilmore Girls.
After brunch, we set off in earnest. To a town that you may be familiar with if you’re a long-time reader of my ramblings. A town called Pinawa.
Yes, it’s an annual stop for me. Even now, in the age where I have no vehicle of my own, and no longer have a Perfect Travelling Companion, I somehow manage to get there year after year. I have to admit that most of the magic is gone, but I feel like it’s my duty to get down there and blow a bunch of money at the Burger Boat. It’s the one business in the world that I feel resonates absolutely with my own value system. That is: ice cream fries by the marina are the true path to nirvana.
But let us not forget the stalwart Solo Market. Each year it graces us with some manner of bounty, be it the hilarity of an ancient-looking steak, or a simple photo-op of ill-placed Nutri-Grain bars. I sure used a lot of hyphens just there. In the Year of Our Lord 2016, I made three important discoveries at Solo Market, and in retrospect, they may not really be worth all the build-up.
Apple Chips: I’m going to be completely honest here, from the point where I first saw the bag to just a few seconds before I opened it, I thought that these were apple-flavoured potato chips. Yes, I know. Take a few seconds to grumble about how stupid I am. Go on, get it out of your system. Okay. Are we ready?
So yeah. They are definitely not potato chips. They are thinly-sliced discs of fried apple. This particular bag was also graced with a few dashes of delicious cinnamon, which is always a winner in my books.
Things seemed pretty good from the start. I opened the bag to a delicious waft of apple cinnamon air. Then I pulled out the first chip, and it came complete with seedy core and stem. Or, a slim slice of the core, anyway. So it seems as though the apple was fried whole and then chopped apart, making no effort to get rid of the less desirable parts of the apple. Whatever. I pulled the stem off and spit out the seeds.
The true difficulty is that each chip was less delicious than the last. I really liked the first one, and the next few were alright, too. About halfway through the bag, though, I felt like I was forcing myself to eat them. I really don’t know what it was, but for whatever reason, the apple chips totally flip-flopped from awesome to awful for no discernible reason. In fact, I threw out half of the bag because just thinking about them made me feel a little gross.
If you need any further clarification, I wouldn’t really recommend the apple chips.
Birthday Cake Jones Soda: Well this should be an easy one, yeah? Cake-flavoured soda? It’s gotta be totally gross, right? That’s a horrible flavour for a soda! Well… sort of.
I was actually pretty optimistic about this one. And truth be told, it does taste a lot like “birthday cake” flavouring. But of course, it tastes more like a mediocre Safeway cake than like a good home-made cake or anything. Also, it takes a while to really come into that flavour. When you first take a sip, it does not taste like cake, but rather has a slightly more unpleasant taste. Then the cake flavour materializes briefly, only to vanish and go back to the indeterminate blah flavour again.
So, I must declare the birthday cake soda a failure. It’s a really weird one, too, as the flavour just can’t seem to stay consistent. In all fairness though, I would absolutely choose it over the Jones Pumpkin Spice soda (which I got at the very same Solo Market a year prior). That one is nothing but gross, tasting nothing like pumpkin, and entirely like somebody mixed a couple pinches of ginger into a bottle of water.
Lastly, we have the Crush Grape Soda Candy: You know these things. Or, at least, you know a variant of them. Every convenience store in the known galaxy has little gummy cola bottles in their selection of five-cent candies. On occasion (and what an occasion!) you may come across them in a root beer flavour. But these… these are grape.
Or at least that’s what the box claims. They taste nearly identical to your run-of-the-mill cola gummies, with just a wee little hint of grape making its way through after you’ve chewed it up a bit. But that’s not so bad! I’m not a huge fan of grape soda, so the subdued flavour actually made these perfect for my tastes. I had expected these gummies to be the best of the trio here, but I surely did not consider that they might exceed my expectations.
Although I guess if you are a fan of grape, they would come off as pretty underwhelming. But who even likes grape soda that much anyway?
The only major problem that I had with the grape gummies is that the box is way oversized for the amount of candy contained within. The gummies inside take up less than half of the space in the box, which I guess isn’t totally unheard of as far as junk food goes, but it’s always disappointing anyway.
Bananas: What? No. I didn’t get these at Solo Market. They were already on the kitchen island and I just didn’t feel like pushing them out of the shot.
I guess I don’t really have anything else to add here, but I don’t want to go out on the banana joke. I don’t feel that it’s strong enough to close out this article. But then again, neither is this rambling. Dang it.