I found these new Athens Hors d’oeuvres, which I will from here on call Hors to avoid spelling errors, in my grocer’s freezer section, filling up the space that my beloved Joy of Cooking products had once occupied. Once my rageful pounding on the glass of the freezer door had subsided and the opaque red film had faded from my vision, I took a closer look at them. I am a sucker for most foods Mediterranean, and my love of appetizers is legendary, so if you name your company Athens and start talking about Hors, I can’t help but show some interest.
Chipotle Cheese and Black Bean seems an odd choice for a decidedly Greek-sounding product, which is, of course, why I chose them. I also chose the spinach and feta variety, but who wants to hear about them. It’s much more fun to mock a Greek appetizer that’s trying to be Mexican.
There are six varieties of Hors, and I will list them for you, as well as a brief comment regarding how appropriate they are in the realm of Greek appetizers, summoned up by an extremely arbitrary rating system:
- Mediterranean Vegetables in Corn Fillo Shells – I don’t normally associate corn with fillo, but they get a pass for using the word “Mediterranean”. 3 gyros.
- Chipotle Cheese in Black Bean Fillo Shells – There is nothing Greek about this at all, but at least they used fillo (or at least the word) and didn’t just go with a mini tostada shell. 0.5 gyros.
- Spinach and Feta in Traditional Fillo Shells – See, now we’re talking. This is all Greek, all the time, and they didn’t even fuck with the fillo. 5 gyros.
- Artichoke and Cheese in Spinach Fillo Shells – Still pretty traditional, but anything Greek without feta is a small crime. 4 gyros.
- Three Cheese in Tomato Fillo Shells – Feels like they’re kind of phoning it in on this one. Tweak it a little and it could be a Tostinos Pizza Roll. 2 gyros.
- Salmon and Cheese in Traditional Fillo Shells – The type of cheese isn’t specified, but I’m going to assume it’s cream cheese, and these guys are a hit in the Jewish community. 1 gyro.
But enough of this. We’ve only got one flavor on the table today, and it’s the Greek/Mexican fusion that is becoming all the rage amongst the hipster crowd. Or haven’t your heard? Well, let’s check these little puppies out.
Aw, they come in a cute little tray, each with its own cup so that nobody has to fight over space or possibly cultural tensions. Hard to see if they’ll come out looking like the picture on the front of the box, at this point. The box describes them as “zesty chipotle cheese with red and green bell peppers, plus a dash of lime juice, cumin and cilantro”. I have to say, they sound more appetizing than most supposedly authentic frozen Mexican foods. I’m looking at you, José Olé.
The box commands me to bake them at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Microwaving is not recommended, you lazy assholes. I assume microwaving them would result in a lovely mess of molten cheese and completely mushy fillo. I always obey the box.
I only cooked four out of the 12 that come in the box. I thought that would showcase my delicate feminine appetite, until I read the back of the box and saw that the suggested serving size is two. I guess that is why they are Hors d’whatevers and not a Hungry Man dinner. Of course, the back of the box also suggests that you can turn them into a light meal. Whether or not they imply that the suggested serving size of two is a light meal (anorexic ladies, I’m looking at you!), or that the whole box of 12 is a light meal (bulimic ladies, I’m looking at you!), I haven’t a clue. But I’m going to stand behind my choice of four and not get neurotic about what kind of meal portion choice I’m making.
Not quite as lively as the front of the box would indicate, but that’s to be expected. The top of the cheese looks shriveled, but the fillo cups are crisp and crunchy, holding up quite nicely. The smell is cheesy, the kind of processed cheese odor that wafts off of your typical microwaved nacho cheese sauce.
They taste disappointingly generic. The crunch of the fillo is a nice contrast to the squishy cheese, but make sure you have a plate, because if you’re not going to eat it in one bite, the flaky dough is going to go flying everywhere when you bite into it. I’ll halfheartedly back up their claims of “zesty”, but their enticing description on the front of the box pretty much ends there, in terms of validity. The cheese filling could be pretty much any other cheese filling from any other frozen food product. When I think chipotle, I think smoky, and there’s no hint of that. The lime and cilantro are also disappointingly absent from the party. I’ll give the bell peppers some credit, if only because there was a hint of that “zesty” in there, just enough to keep it from tasting like bland cheese filling. I actually thought I caught a hint of black bean, so I broke off some of the fillo to eat on its own, but the fillo itself was flavorless. It’s possible they added some black bean flavoring to the cheese itself, which gave it just a hint of depth.
Basically, Athens Hors d’oeuvres Chipotle Cheese in Black Bean Fillo Shells are more of a mindless junk food than an elegant Hor that you can present to all your guests at your elegant dinner party. Something you can pop into the oven and eat 20 minutes later while you sit in front of the TV and watch reruns of Three’s Company. Squishy cheese in a crunchy shell; it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just something you eat at 1pm on a Saturday to tide you over until it’s time to order a pizza. You could substitute a dozen other frozen appetizers and get the same result – I ate something, it had an okay flavor, now my stomach will shut up for a couple of hours.
- Score: 2.5 out of 5 Hors
- Price: $5.79
- Size: 12 pieces (5.9 oz.)
- Purchased at: Albertsons #980
- Nutritional Quirks: Ingredients contain chipotle powder, lime juice, cumin, cilantro, and black bean powder, yet none can be tasted.