Vacation Hiatus

So, we haven’t been posting for a while, but it’s NOT because we’re tired of the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs.

It turns out that we’re on vacation in NYC this week!  So, we’ll be back this weekend and ready to continue the contests – in the last quarterfinal matchup, #2 seed Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple takes on #7 seed Pumpkin Cheesecake.

“Bye Bye Strawberry” – Reese’s Advances

In a unanimous 3-0 vote, #3 seed Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake eliminated #6 seed Fresh Strawberry from the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs.

As I mentioned in my last post, we (and especially Monroe) had a FULL day!  It started at 9 AM with Monroe’s soccer game.  She played well, making some big kicks and playing goalie for a period…  The team was down 2-0, but managed to come back strong to score two goals in the third quarter to tie things up.  Monroe’s team (the Snow Leopards) kept the score even through the rest of the game and took away a 2-2 tie.  Not a bad start to the day…

Next came basketball!  The Newbury Park girls basketball team hosted a tournament for 5th through 8th grade teams this weekend (luckily it was at home, so we didn’t need to travel…).  Monroe started for our 5th grade Newbury Park team, playing against a team (we think of 6th graders) from Torrance.  Unfortunately, we got blown out, which meant we had to go to another gym to play in the 5 PM game…

That game turned out better, but it didn’t land us in the win column.  It was close (we lost 20-16), but that meant Monroe played in the 7th place game on Sunday.

However, we weren’t about to allow this to put a damper on Stephanie’s birthday celebration (or, of course, the important quarterfinal matchup we had on tap!)

Earlier in the day, I took Monroe to lunch before her basketball games, and we secretly stopped off at the Cheesecake Factory located in the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks.  The afternoon manager John was incredibly helpful in planning a special evening for us, scheduled for 8 PM.  He mentioned that Kia was the night manager for tonight, so we knew we were in good hands, since she made sure things were great for Monroe’s birthday celebration a couple weeks prior

After the tourney, even though we were all beat, we headed out to the restaurant, and were promptly seated once we arrived.  Joel took care of us, making the whole dinner fun and entertaining!

One other cool thing was that the general manager Jenn was on hand and came by to meet us.  It was really great meeting Jenn (I had spoken on the phone with her to work on Monroe’s birthday…).  In my first conversation with Jenn, she happened to disagree with our assessment of the best cheesecake on the Cheesecake Factory menu – we voted the 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake as our top ranked offering, while Jenn said she loved the Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™.  However, I can’t hold that against her – To each their own!

On came our orders – I had the Tomato Basil Pasta, Stephanie chose the Grilled Chicken, and Monroe went with the Cheeseburger Sliders…  And after we downed the food (and a healthy offering of bread), we geared up for the contest…

The waiters came by with our cheesecake, decorated to celebrate Stephanie’s birthday.   But, that’s not all – Joel then presented Stephanie the gifts that Monroe and I got for her (that we had secretly left with John earlier in the afternoon…).  Stephanie was pleasantly surprised, and happy that they would make her dinner so special.

So, on to the contest!  The Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake was really fantastic – as Monroe put it “chocolatey peanut buttery bliss”!  Although the classic taste of the Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake made for a tough running – the extra decoration on the Fresh Strawberry plate also added an slight edge going in…

But, in the end, we all voted for the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, so Fresh Strawberry was eliminated from the Cheesecake Playoffs.  As Joel would say, “Bye Bye Strawberry!”

A special thanks really needs to go out to the General Manager Jenn and shift managers John and Kia for helping to arrange this special evening for Stephanie, and to our waiter Joel, who made it fun for all of us.

Here are the brackets as they stand today.  Next up, another peanut butter chocolate combo as #2 seed Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple takes on #7 seed Pumpkin Cheesecake…

Peanut Butter Chocolate vs. Strawberry – This is gonna be good!

This week’s quarterfinal matchup of the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs pits the upstart #3 seed Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake against the classic (and yummy) #6 seeded Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake.

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake just came out this year – a newcomer to the stalwart cheesecake menu of the Cheesecake Factory.  In fact, when we started tasting every cheesecake on the Cheesecake Factory’s menu at the beginning of this year, it wasn’t even available. 

Personally, I really liked it (of course, ranking high with the Farris Clan with a solid ranking of 24 out of a possible 30…).  It seems to be a cross between the 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake and Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake (apparently, merging the #1 and #2 seed together yields only the #3 seed – or at least they add…   1+2=3?…)

Hey, and also Stephanie is having her birthday this Saturday – so, woo woo!  We’re going to celebrate at the Thousand Oaks Cheesecake Factory after a full day of Monroeness. 

First, a soccer game and then a little studying…  Then, we go to practice shooting and rebounding in preparation for her girls basketball tourament this weekend.  She has a first round game, and depending on whether her team wins or loses, we may have to hoof it to another gym across town for the second game (yes, you heard me right – TWO basketball games on Saturday, in addition to her morning soccer game!…).

This leaves us with scheduling an intimate birthday dinner for Stephanie at around 8:00 PM (and I’m sure Monroe will be DOG tired!…).  And certainly, we’ll be celebrating another round of “delectaliciousness” with the Cheesecake Playoffs.

We’ll post the winners (and birthday pics!) later on in the weekend!…

Cinderella Lives! Oreo® Upsets Chocolate Mousse

Cinderella!

The lowest seed Oreo® Cheesecake pulled off another upset last week by defeating the #4 seed Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake in the recent quarterfinal matchup of the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs.

Who’da thought that the #12 seed in the 12-seed playoffs would be one contest away from competing for the First Ever Cheesecake Championship?!  Well, all the cheesecakes are delicious, but we didn’t expect the lowest seed to make it this far…

Monroe decided that she wanted to cast the tie-breaking vote this time around, so she refused to declare her choice until the end.  That meant that Stephanie and I were forced into (possibly) splitting our votes and having Monroe deciding who advances to the next round.

After sampling both, Stephanie chose the Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake – it was totally rich, and apparently Stephanie was in the “chocolate mood”.  I decided on picked Oreo® Cheesecake; normally I’m all into the chocolate scene, but this week, I wanted something more cheesecakingly cheesecakey, which Oreo® was…

So, that left Monroe, exactly where she wanted to be – “The Decider”!  And Monroe ensured that Cinderella would live another day, and moved the improbable #12 seed into the semifinals to face off against the top seed 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake.

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Here’s the brackets as they stand today.  This week, we start two weeks of peanut butter cheesecake tastings – first, #2 seed Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake versus the classic #6 seed Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake, followed by a contest between #3 seed Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple against the seasonal favorite #7 seed Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Chocolate Beats Chocolate; #1 Seed Beats Godiva®

This weekend saw the first quarterfinal contest of the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs with the #1 seed, 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, up against the #8 seed, Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake.

This was a pretty enjoyable contest, since both the 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake and the Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake were awesome!  Stephanie, who rated the 30th Anniversary cheesecake a “10”, was impressed with the showing by the opponent.   You totally need to be in a chocolate mood for the Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake, because it’s so rich!  Apparently, we were, since it tasted fantastic!

But, in the end, we all declared the 30th Anniversary cheesecake the winner, defeating Godiva® by a 3-0 margin.  Don’t let the sweep fool you, though – it was actually quite close.  So, 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake advances to the semifinals, and the brackets now look like this…

As an aside, we were so impressed with the Pumpkin “Pi” graphic I found from my last post, that we decided to make our own for Halloween…

Next week, #4 seed Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake makes its first appearance in the playoffs versus upset winner #12 Oreo® Cheesecake!

The Dilemma Resolved

So, in my last post, I mentioned that we have a dilemma this week in the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs

See, the Cheesecake Factory has a gazillion flavors of cheesecake, which they switch out every once in a while.  So, as we spent 2010 eating through the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake menu, it keeps changing…

Which means… some of the cheesecakes that we tasted earlier in the year are no longer available.  And one of them happened to qualify for the playoffs!  The Chocolate Oreo® Mudslide Cheesecake was rated highly by the Farris family, rating a solid 21 out of 30 in the “regular” season and qualifying as the #10 seed.

But now has been discontinued!  Hence, the dilemma. 

In the projected pairing of the #7 seed, the seasonal favorite Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Chocolate Oreo® Mudslide Cheesecake, one of the “competitors” will turn out to be a no-show. 

One option is to substitute the next highest rated cheesecake. But if we do that, which one of the next cheesecakes would we pick?  Three cheesecakes scored a 20 – White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Kahlua® Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake, and Wild Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake.

Another option would be to pick a completely different cheesecake – one we didn’t try during the early part of the year.  But this also seems unsatisfying – I mean, is it really fair for Pineapple Upside-Down Cheesecake to qualify for our playoffs when it didn’t even work up a sweat during the regular season?  I think not…

So, the Farris family has made an executive decision.  The Pumpkin Cheesecake, our #7 seed, will win by default due to the “forfeit” of Chocolate Oreo® Mudslide Cheesecake (maybe it was just afraid of the competition during Pumpkin’s “home field” seasonal advantage…).  However, Pumpkin doesn’t deserve to just walk into the next round because another cheesecake didn’t show – it has to “play the game”!

To play by the rules, a cheesecake can’t win its round unless the Farris family has actually eaten it (kinda barbaric, but them’s the rules!…).   Since I am (unfortunately) not with the rest of the Farris clan today, we will each grab a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake separately (I’m in Washington DC, so I’m getting mine at the Fairfax, VA, Cheesecake Factory, while Stephanie and Monroe will pick theirs up at our Thousand Oaks location…).  After we eat our slices, Pumpkin will official “qualify” for the next round due to forfeit – as I said, it’s only fair for the game to be played…

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So, here’s how the quarterfinals are shaping up.  The Elite Eight has:

–   #1 seed 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake vs. #8 Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake
–   #4 Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake vs. #12 Oreo® Cheesecake
–   #3 Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake vs. #6 Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake
–   #2 Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple vs. #7 Pumpkin Cheesecake

This weekend, we’ll start the quarterfinals with the first #1 vs. #8 pairing, and we’ll see which piece of chocolate indulgence prevails!

Strawberry Topples Cookie-Dough; Monroe Turns 11

Happy Birthday, Monroe!

From our previous post, you know that we delayed our First Ever Cheesecake Playoff contest from last weekend to coincide with Monroe’s birthday.  Monroe turned 11 today, and what a way to celebrate with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory!

This week’s matchup brought a classic, #6 seeded Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake, up against a snacker’s dream, #11 seed Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough Cheesecake.   Each were different – much like last week’s matchup when the Original Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake lost a narrow 2-1 decision against Oreo® Cheesecake.

One might think that we might be witnessing a repeat of last week.  Fresh Strawberry is effectively the Original Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake, but with strawberry toppings.  And Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough Cheesecake has chocolate going for it (I mean, hell-O!  It’s chocolate!…)

But when you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen!  (Just ask the ’04 Yankees when they lost four straight against the Red Sox after being up 3-0 in the ALCS!…)

After Stephanie had her chicken and Monroe had her bowtie pasta (exactly their menu from the first playoff duel), and after I partook in the New Orleans Shrimp, we headed straight for the desserts.  Let the competition begin!

Well, the staff had been tipped off to our special evening (and to the competition), so they made the cheesecakes a little special for Monroe.  They sang “Happy Birthday” and added a candle to the cheesecake for Monroe to get her wish.  Very cool!

Leaving us to our “work”, we dug in to both cheesecakes.  Monroe was very eager to vote, so she declared early that the Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough Cheesecake had her vote.  I thought that the Cookie-Dough was a bit thick for my taste (I had only rated it a “6” in the regular season…), so I cast my vote for Fresh Strawberry.  That only left Stephanie…

However, she wouldn’t vote right away.  She kept thinking, and thinking, and tasting, and deciding…  And eventually, the deciding vote was cast – Stephanie picked Fresh Strawberry! 

So, Fresh Strawberry stays alive to meet Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, the #3 seed!

Big thanks to Jen Deyta, General Manager of the Thousand Oaks Cheesecake Factory, for arranging to make Monroe’s day special.  She left the restaurant saying, “I really had fun!”  How could you ask for more?

Next week, a dilemma – Pumpkin Cheesecake versus Chocolate Oreo® Mudslide Cheesecake.  Stay tuned for the next post to understand why this is a dilemma!…

Change in Plans for Monroe’s Birthday

Normally, the Farris family uses the weekend to go one round deeper in the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs.  But this week, we’ve got a few issues…

Well, the first one is that I’m not in town with weekend; turns out that I’m in Dallas.  I first had a business meeting here during the week, but there’s a Perot for President reunion in Dallas this weekend, so I figured I’d stick around (some of you probably know that I chaired the California organization back a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and we all got to meet with Mr. Perot a couple of years ago, but these are MUCH longer stories…)

That, of course, puts a crimp in the normal Cheesecake Playoff plans.  We would either have to figure out how to get in my vote after picking up cheesecake here in Dallas (turns out there’s one reasonably close to my hotel…), but we decided that wouldn’t be very fun…

So, we’ve decided to delay the contest between #6 seed Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake and #11 seed Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough Cheesecake once I’m back, which will be Monday.

But what a great coincidence! – it’s Monroe’s 11th birthday on Monday, so we’re planning to have her birthday dinner at the Thousand Oaks Cheesecake Factory and hold our contest there! 

So, we’ll update the site with our final votes and pics at the beginning of next week!  Stay tuned (and wish Monroe a happy birthday!!)

Oreo® Advances in Split Decision

This week’s matchup in the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs led to Oreo® Cheesecake advancing to the next round with a 2-1 vote over the Original Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake.

We noted in the pre-game analysis of this matchup that both Oreo® and Original are classics in and of themselves.  But with the no-holds-barred competition to the championship, not every offering will turn out to be worthy…

We brought home both cheesecakes last night, and dug in with gusto!   After downing both desserts, Monroe cast her vote for Oreo®.  I then voted, after some considerable thought (because, I mean, both were really delicious…), for the Original. 

But Stephanie cast the last and deciding vote very quickly – Oreo® – and the contest was over!  Oreo® advances!…

Here is how the First Ever Cheesecake Playoff brackets are shaping up…  Next week – the #6 seed, Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake, versus Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough Cheesecake at #11.

Original vs. Oreo®: A Battle of Classics

This week’s contest in the First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs pits two American classics – The Original Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake versue Oreo® Cheesecake.  The Original comes in favored as the #5 seed, while Oreo® enters the playoffs with the #12 seed…

However, don’t let the wide differences in seeds fool you – this is not a slam dunk for the Original!

In the regular season, the Farris family ranked each of these very closely – the Original earned 22 of a possible 30 points, where Oreo® came in close behind with a score of 21 (you can see our original rankings here…).  In fact, each cheesecake ranked a 7 with each of us, except for Monroe, who gave the nod to the Original with a score of 8.

This certainly will be a tough contest!  The Original is the classic of classics – creamy and delicious (and you can never go wrong with ordering this simple treat!…), but Oreo® is a classic in and of itself, and mixed in with cheesecake?!…  Mmmm… 

This Friday, we plan to grab both from the Thousand Oaks Cheesecake Factory and bring them home to engage in the fork-to-fork combat.  We’ll post the results this weekend to let you all know who advances to take on the #4 seed, Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake