I tried SodaStream's own Sparkling Naturals ginger ale:

  • It's much more expensive than the standard Sodastream syrups. Roughly four times the price per liter. The flavor is not significantly different from the standard syrup.
  • The seltzer has a much greater tendency to foam up while adding a Sparkling Naturals syrup than with standard syrup. When the instructions say to pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bottle slowly, they mean it.
  • The syrup-to-seltzer ratio is pretty close to the 1:5 ratio that Pittsburgh Soda Pop calls for on their syrups, which are billed as all-natural.
  • The standard syrups say to store them in a cool, dry place. They don't require refrigeration after opening. The Sparkling Naturals do require refrigeration after opening.

If all-natural ingredients aren't a fetish for you, stick with the standard syrups. There are a few more flavors in the standards than in the Sparkling Naturals.

About three weeks ago, on a whim, I bought myself a Sodastream system. This is basically the latest incarnation of the old make-it-yourself seltzer thingy - it takes water, and injects CO2 into it to make it fizzy. After it makes the water fizzy, you add syrup - it comes with a sampler pack (12 flavors, one bottle each), and places that sell the thingy also sell bottles of syrup good for 12 or 25 bottles each. You're not requires to use their syrups, or any syrup at all. So, I did some experimenting.

First: Sodastream's own syrups are comparable in flavor to commercial brands. However, the commercial brands tend not to be first-line brands - Cola is more reminiscent of C&C or Generic Supermarket Brand than Coke or Pepsi; orange is Fanta rather than Sunkist, Lemon-Lime is not up to the 7Up, Sierra Mist, or Sprite level, and their imitations of Mountain Dew and Dr Pepper are recognizeable, but also recognizeably not MD or DP. OTOH, the Crystal Light Peach Iced Tea and the Country Time Half-and-Half (Half lemonade, half iced tea) syrups aren't bad, though neither one is Snapple or Arizona. But then, neither are their originals.

The selection usually available at the places I can find the syrups (Staples and Target) isn't spectacular, so I'm going to try ordering some other, more interesting-to-me flavors from Sodastream. My expectations aren't high, based on experience, but I do expect them to be acceptable. I'll report any unexpected results.

I'll also be going to some other sources for flavors that Sodastream simply does not sell, period. Again, I'll report results.

Some experiment results I can already report:

Based on my experience with certain Starbucks syrups in their hot chocolate, I tried them in soda. Short answer: Even though Starbucks will put these syrups into their cold drinks, they're better in hot. Specifics:

  • The Cinnamon Dolce is more Dolce than Cinnamon. It's not bad as an accent to another flavor (I've tried it with orange), but it's not a standalone flavor, although a real cinnamon might well be.
  • The Peppermint is ... intense. I like it, but it's not going to be for everyone, and even I would prefer to 'cut' it with other flavors. Chocolate would be good; ginger might work, too.
  • Vanilla really doesn't work alone; it's not intense enough. It's a little better 'cutting' another flavor; the 'creamsicle' I got out of mixing it with orange wasn't quite up to Stewart's, but it was credible.

From today's New York Times - I originally saw it in the Dead Tree Edition, but it's on nytimes.com, too... http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/03/technology/circuits/03chef.htm (requires free login)

HOMARO CANTU'S maki look a lot like the sushi rolls served at other upscale restaurants: pristine, coin-size disks stuffed with lumps of fresh crab and rice and wrapped in shiny nori. They also taste like sushi, deliciously fishy and seaweedy.

But the sushi made by Mr. Cantu, the 28-year-old executive chef at Moto in Chicago, often contains no fish. It is prepared on a Canon i560 inkjet printer rather than a cutting board. He prints images of maki on pieces of edible paper made of soybeans and cornstarch, using organic, food-based inks of his own concoction. He then flavors the back of the paper, which is ordinarily used to put images onto birthday cakes, with powdered soy and seaweed seasonings.

more at the URI...

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