Thursday, November 16, 2017

America's pickiest dachshunds review Cesar's gourmet dog foods

We have owned been owned by seven miniature dachshunds. Each of them, including our current wieners, 14-year-old Billy Ray and four-year-old Roo-Roo, have eaten Cesar’s gourmet dog food twice a day. I could have probably bought a Mercedes – heck, a Lamborghini  – for all the money I’ve shelled out for Cesar’s over the years.

Cesar's is formulated specifically for little dogs that tend to be picky eaters and, more importantly, for their indulgent owners who believe their pets need a wide range of flavor choices in order to have enough energy to make it through to another day of lounging around on their best upholstered furniture, looking cute. To that end, the brand is constantly introducing exotic new varieties into its product line-up. Some survive. Some disappear from the shelves after only a few months.  

Over the last week I served nine varieties that were new to Billy Ray’s and Roo-Roo’s finicky palettes. This morning the three of us sat down to discuss what they liked and didn’t like about each of the varieties they tried.

TJD: So guys, what did you think of the Cesar’s Scramble with Turkey, Spinach and Cheese in Gravy you had for breakfast yesterday?

Billy Ray: The ingredients list says it contains dried cheese but doesn’t specify the variety. I detected manchego but based on Roo-Roo’s breath after inhaling a bowlful, I’d have to guess the primary cheese is limburger.

Roo-Roo: I think the mystery cheese is more likely a Stilton or perhaps a Double Gloucester but whatever it turns out to be, we both agree that this will be our “go to” Cesar for those casual Sunday poolside brunches we enjoy so much during Florida’s winter months.

TJD: I was happy to see you lick your bowls clean when I served Cesar’s Rosemary Chicken Flavor with Spring Vegetables the other night.

Roo-Roo: I don’t much care for chicken -- I generally prefer darker, richer, more robust meats like beef, lamb, even duck -- but a perfect pinch of rosemary brings out the flavor of what is otherwise a bland, insipid form of protein in this variety.

Billy Ray: This one’s a keeper. It is almost – note I say “almost” – as delicious as my beloved Costco rotisserie chicken. Personally I would have preferred fewer green peppers and more yellow ones because they’re rarer and more expensive but for now I’ll be happy to eat this at least once a week.

TJD: You walked away from the Cesar’s Country Stew with Vegetables. How come?

Billy Ray: Neither of us could figure out what country they’re talking about. Uganda? Bolivia? Papua New Guinea? Your guess is as good as ours but it certainly didn’t resemble any stew we’ve ever been served including leftover Dinty Moore.

Roo-Roo: Yes, this one disappointed on multiple levels but if it is the last can in the pantry, I suppose I can somehow hold my nose and get it down without gagging.

TJD: What did you think of Cesar’s Harvest Potluck with Turkey in Gravy?

Roo-Roo: We never know what to bring to a potluck dinner – not that we have ever been invited to one but in case we are we have spent hours discussing what we could contribute – so we were elated to discover this variety. When our friends ask for the recipe, and they will, we’ll simply smile and say it’s a family secret.

Billy Ray: The gravy could be a tad thicker but we’re not going to complain about the one shortcoming in a near perfect dish that’s particularly enjoyable when paired with a slightly chilled Fiji water.

Roo-Roo: I would pair it with Evian myself but this would be delightful even with plain old tap water, which I am told some dogs in less fortunate countries have to drink.

TJD: I’m almost afraid to ask about the Cesar’s Meat Lasagna. You obviously hated it.

Roo-Roo: It was so awful that, for a nano-second, I actually wished for that repulsive Purina Pro Salmon & Rice dry stuff they used to dish up at the kennel where, prior to joining your family, I was employed as a stud although, as you know, I was never called upon to actually perform because my father, who was somehow considered a better specimen of a longhaired piebald dachshund than I am, was always up to the task whenever stud services were required, which is why I’m in therapy today.

Billy Ray: In addition to some creamy imported ricotta and fresh basil, this dish would have benefited from San Marzano tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes would have certainly made it more authentically Italian than the “tomato powder” that comes in thirteenth on the list of ingredients. Cesar’s chefs missed the gondola on this one.

TJD: You both begged for more when I served up the Cesar’s Hearty Chicken, Noodles and Vegetable Dinner.

Billy Ray: I was less than enthusiastic when you placed a bowl of what I always considered to be peasant food in front of me but I found this dish to be surprisingly tasty. The noodles could have been a bit more al dente but other than that, it was delicious. Who would have guessed I’d prefer something this banal to lasagna?

Roo-Roo: I absolutely loved it. It made for a comforting, satisfying meal after a hard day chasing lizards around the lanai and barking at golfers.

TJD: What about the Cesar’s Beef Stroganoff?

Roo-Roo: We’ve always loved the story you tell about your forty-fifth birthday dinner in an elegant restaurant in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the middle of a blizzard, where you ordered the only two things you could say in Russian – stroganoff and Stolichnaya. Ever since we heard it, we’ve been anxious to try this dish, but now that we have tasted Cesar’s take on stroganoff, I’d have to rate it merely okay -- a C plus, perhaps a B minus.

Billy Ray: A dollop of sour cream and a dusting of paprika would have made it a solid B in my book but for now I agree with Roo.

TJD:  You wouldn’t take as much as a bite from the Cesar’s Beef with Broccoli and Brown Rice. How come?

Roo-Roo: It’s Cesar’s interpretation of a classic Chinese dish but we found the concept incredibly offensive.

Billy Ray: The Chinese eat dogs. Enough said.

TJD: Last but not least you tried Cesar’s Grilled New York Strip Steak Flavor with Potatoes and Summer Vegetables. What did you think?  

Roo-Roo: Neither of us could turn up our noses fast enough when you served us this dish in which beef comes after chicken, chicken liver and something called “animal plasma” -- we don’t even want to know what this is -- on the ingredient list.

Billy Ray: The summer vegetables were uninteresting  – potatoes, corn, green beans, carrots and peas. Endive, artichokes and/or summer squash would have contributed some much-needed texture.

TJD: Thanks, guys. I'm going to the store in a few. Anything you want me to pick up?

Billy Ray: For the holidays I want to try Cesar's new Turkey, Green Beans & Potatoes Dinner. 

Roo-Roo: As long as you're in the aisle, you might as well grab me a coupla cans of Cheesy Chicken Pasta Dinner in Sauce. Want me to write that down so you don't forget it? 

TJD: Got it.