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Artichoke dip outshines its pesto counterpart

Sometimes there’s a sleeper on the menu.

Food panel tasters liked the crunchy focaccia sticks served at a recent meeting, but they really loved one of the dips we threw on the plate as an afterthought.

Five of our panelists gave the Safeway Signature Café Artichoke Dip the panel’s highest rating for flavor. The dip was a bit too pricey at $4.79 for 12 ounces, they said.

“I want more,” said Lindi Messenger. “Artichoke, cheeses and herbs; tastes fresh and homemade! Really great! I’d definitely serve this at my next dinner party.”

“De-lish! I’d buy this flavorful artichoke dip,” Vicki Deschaine said. “Oh, maybe not after I learned the price.”

Marilyn Moore likes her dip to be homemade, and she’s not a huge artichoke fan. But still she gave the dip a thumbs up. “This has substance – thick chunks of artichokes, which I don’t ordinarily eat, but this was seasoned well.”

The Signature Café Parmesan Pesto dip did not fare nearly as well with tasters on our panel. They complained that it had too much mayonnaise and too little flavor. Overall, the dip received a two-and-a-half star rating from the panel members.

“Indiscernible herbs and spices,” said Messenger. “Tastes like mayonnaise with basil.”

The New York Style Focaccia Sticks scored a respectable three and a half stars. Tasters liked the hearty, crunchy texture of the baked breads.

“Super crisp and very tasty. You really don’t need a dip. Great as a snack by themselves,” said Larry Inman.

Others said they were too much without a dip to mellow the garlic and herbs.

“An explosion of crunch and flavor; accompanied by a strong garlic and salty aftertaste that really lingers,” Messenger said. “Great with dips, but a bit too ‘strong’ to eat by themselves.”

New York Style Focaccia Sticks, Roasted Garlic and Herb

Price: $3.49 per 5-ounce bag.

Nutrition per serving (3 pieces): 70 calories, 4 grams fat (2 grams saturated, 51 percent fat calories), 1 gram protein, 7 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 170 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • • 1/2

Value: • • •

Comments:

“Very crispy but tasty. You can’t hear over the crunch.” – Vicki Deschaine

“Dense and brittle, these have a nice flavor.” – Andy Hoye

“Good garlic flavor, much better when you dip them into something.” – Nancy Robinson

Safeway Signature Café Artichoke Dip

Price: $4.79 per 12-ounce container.

Nutrition per serving (2 tablespoons): 80 calories, 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated, 61 percent fat calories), 2 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrate, 10 milligrams cholesterol, less than 1 gram dietary fiber, 130 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • • • 1/2

Value: • • •

Comments:

“Good flavor. Too pricey.” – Larry Inman

“Busy, smooth, chunky and good if you like mayonnaise.” – Andy Hoye

“Smells chemically, but tastes wonderful!! Big huge chunks of artichoke, yum. Very, very good.” – Nancy Robinson

Safeway Signature Café Parmesan Pesto

Price: $4.79 per 12-ounce container

Nutrition per serving (2 tablespoons): 150 calories, 16 grams fat (3 grams saturated, 96 percent fat calories), 1 gram protein, 2 grams carbohydrate, 10 milligrams cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 130 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • 1/2

Value: • •

Comments: “Very good. Chips, vegetables … just about anything could be dipped in this.” – Larry Inman

“Heavy mayo and pricey.” – Andy Hoye

“A tad too much mayo for my taste buds.” – Vicki Deschaine

“Ugh. Looked like mayonnaise with some sort of green flakes.” – Marilyn Moore

Products sampled by The Spokesman-Review’s reader food panel are prepared according to package directions. Panelists are not aware of a product’s brand name or price until after they have tasted it. Products are rated from one to five stars for taste and for value, based on quality compared to price.
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