Sunday, November 5, 2006
Recently my husband went to Chicago and called me from the Vosge homeworld asking what I’d like to have. I was really hoping for a Cardamom truffle (they call them Ellateria) but it turns out that flavor is part of a seasonal set and not made at the moment.
The new seasonal assortment is sold under the banner of Collection of Zion and features lots of freaky ingredients and flavors. I kind of enjoy such things, so I was curious to see what my mouth thought of these intellectually stimulating combinations of flavors.
Instead he brought home some other delightful chocolate spheres. Here are a few I tried:
Selassie (shown there in the center) - allspice + pumpkin = a mellow spice and soft chocolate ganache center gave it a custardy feel. The cloveness wasn’t really to my liking, but pleasant.
Ital - Blue Mountain coffee + fresh coconut = acidic, dark and bitter but wonderfully complex and nutty.
Zion - Red Stripe Beer + cocoa nibs = bitter and a little on the yeasty side with a dark complex and acidic crunch.
Budapest - Hungarian paprika + chocolate = mellow with a subtle spicy note that brings out some of the woodsy flavors of the chocolate.
Wink of the Rabbit - soft caramel + New Mexican pecan = milk chocolate is a nice change but a little sweet here, the pecan gives it a maple/woodsy flavor. The caramel is thick and a bit custardy.
It was a nice evening with my box of chocolates. They were all gone, lickety split. Never fear, I just got back from San Francisco and have lots of other exciting haut chocolates to talk about.
Saturday, November 4, 2006
One of my goals when I started Candy Blog was to become a candy authority. Not that I would know everything about candy manufacturing, its history or the business end of things, but I thought I could master an area that I was interested in: Candy Consumerism.
To that end, I’ve tried to document how candy is marketed to us, where we find it, how it’s packaged, what it tastes like, trends in flavors and ingredients and of course sought the input of the readers and their opinions on the same topics.
The first inkling I got that this goal might be within the realm of possibility was my invitation late last year to attend the All Candy Expo as a member of the press. I was also featured on two radio programs and then later had another affirmation when I was interviewed for the NY Times Magazine. This week I rounded out my media and had my first TV interview.
I was contacted by CNBC for their program called Morning Call. On the day before Halloween they wanted to do a little piece on Limited Edition candies and requested me based on the New York Times Magazine column from last summer.
The big problem ... I was going to be in San Francisco on Monday because of my novel writing kick off. But this was no problem at all! The producer simply refered me to a linked up studio there.
Of course I was nervous and tried not to think too much about it. I did get a hair cut on Saturday ... mostly because I hadn’t had it cut since June. And then I spent some time practicing not flailing my hands around when I talked.
The segment on candy was going to go on a little before the end of the show which aired from 10AM to 12PM Eastern and hosted by Michelle Caruso-Cabrera with another guest, Lisbeth Echeandia (Publisher - Confectioner Magazine).
I got to the studio about 15 minutes early and had a little tea that I got from a cafe in the first floor of the building. I sat in the waiting room then about eight minutes to air the camera tech/engineer came in and got me. We hooked up my mic and stuck that thing in my ear so that I could hear the feed.
The confusing thing about doing these satellite things is that you don’t actually see who you’re talking to. So I had to go off of what I was hearing in the little earpiece. I looked at the camera as best I could, even though the content I was getting was through my right ear.
They had some little eyes on the top of the camera to remind the guests to look there. I was terrible at remembering that. There’s lots of stuff you have to remember when you’re on TV: no cussing, no ripping your shirt off, no flapping your hands, look into the camera, speak intelligently, don’t mispronounce the host’s name, answer the question, try not to talk when other people are talking, don’t chew gum, look like you’re paying attention when you’re not talking and above all be relaxed!
Of course now that I’ve done it I understand all those things far better than before.
They gave me a DVD of it when I left the studio, so I’ll try to get that up on the web sometime early next week. (You know, in case you’re interested in seeing whether or not I followed all that advice.)
UPDATE: You can watch a clip of the segment here!
Friday, November 3, 2006
But this candy had the double whammy of being cute looking but also having a completely vague name that I was too curious to pass up the 98 cent gamble. I found these at a Chinese grocer in Chinatown in New York City earlier this spring and just let them sit there looking vaguely sock-like for months. The girl on the package said “I like it!” but that still couldn’t quite compel me to open them up and eat them.
Eventually Halloween came around and they looked kind of Halloweeny so I opened up the pack to give them a try.
First, here’s what I expected. Based on the ingredients (sugar, glucose syrup, flavorings and pectin) I thought it was going to be an orange flavored gummi.
They were definitely soft, as advertised, but I’d actually call them firm. I’m not sure how well something called Firm Candy would sell, but then again, I question how well Soft Candy sells.
They were firm but had an easy bite to them. Kind of like a gumdrop, but a little tougher without feeling stale. The flavor was, well, not there at all. They were pleasant and not too sweet. It tasted like a mild millet jelly candy, which in turn tastes simply like an unflavored, uncoated jelly bean. They are truly the definition of a benign candy.
Besides being pleasantly cute enough for me to want to string them into a bracelet, they’re not much as a candy. Nothing to spit out into the gutter but just no oomph or compelling texture to keep me eating.
Thursday, November 2, 2006
Botticelli is an upscale chocolate brand in Canada that makes nice bars at reasonable prices. I’ve never seen them in stores, but last year my husband brought me one that he got a London Drugs, so they’re pretty easy to find.
Sam, whom I met at All Candy Expo earlier this summer sent me some excellent bars to try in their Signature line. I want to post about all of them, but I have to finish tasting them all. I had to post about this one first because he sent me TWO bars and both are gone now. The listing of quality ingredients on the label alone made my mouth water.
The Cashew Butter Truffle is a milk chocolate bar with a filling of cashew butter. It’s not quite truffle-like in my estimation, more on the nut butter end of things, but that suits me just fine. The smooth and nutty butter has a good salty hit (though it says there’s no added salt) and a true-to-life flavor of cashews that just sends me over the moon.
My only disappointment about the bar was there were some “unfilled” squares on one end of the bar that were just chocolate. I like chocolate and all, but I really wanted more of that cashwey goodness.
Cashews are so rare in consumer branded chocolates it’s so refreshing to not only find a bar, but find it to be good. If you’re a nut fan, this might be the bar for you. If you’ve seen them in stores in Canada, do let me know where they’ve turned up.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
The results are in on the latest poll and I have to say, Candy Blog readers are generous.
Other industry polls have said that kids prefer chocolate candies in their treat bags and most folks who were opening their doors to the munchkins were handing out at least some chocolate.
(I’m guessing the toothbrushes and raisins folks are joking and I’m certainly wondering what “way better stuff” actually is. I saw some forums talking about giving out matchbox cars or pez dispensers.)
I was very happy to see ten folks going green! I would have gone green except I ate all my organic and fair trade samples already ... all the other candy I gave out were also leftover samples and stuff from photography projects. Remember, regifting is green, too.
Some folks were a little surprised that there were so many people not giving out candy this year, but I’ll chalk that up to not being in the right neighborhood, not being home that night or living in a country that does not have Trick-or-Treating.
So, weigh in here if you want to elaborate on any of your votes!
Starting from the left the light yellow-green ones are Apple. It’s a mild apple, not very tangy, but floral and sweet and very pleasant. The candies themselves are a little smaller than the normal Mentos, not just small pack like you’d get Lifesavers.
In the middle are little lilac wonders in Grape, these were, to put it mildly, odd. They were kind of concord grapey and completely unlike those malic acid wonders you find in a roll of SweeTarts. These were floral and had a sort of balsam note that reminds me of concord grape skins when you eat them fresh off the vine. At first I was a little put off, but I chalk that up to the whole expectations thing. When I stopped thinking about it, I really like them and now I’m regretting sending a bunch of them off to the Mentos winner last month.
The more vivid green ones are Watermelon which are very sweet and have an odd note of mint to them (which could be a manufacturing problem). The melon flavor is true and has that sort of woodsy note to it, but no tartness to it. Not my fave but not terrible.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Yes, I’ve got the sweets for the Tricker or Treaters this evening. Even though I’m not home I left a deluxe bowl of goodies for my husband to give out.
You can’t see everything in there (and I can’t remember it all) but there are Junior Mints, Tootsie Pops, Blow Pops, Jolly Rancher Lollipops, Chewy SweeTarts, Kissables, SweeTart Gummi Bugs, Heath Bars, various full sized bars from some photos I took, Lik-m-Aid, Laffy Taffy, Chewy Runts ... I think that’s about it. I like to balance out the candy offerings with a variety of chocolate and sugar, lollipops were always a favorite of mine.Happy Halloween!
I have to call this one the deal of the month. I find a lot of great deals out there in candy world, but I had to mention this one because I gave the Queen Anne Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries a bad review last year.
So that makes it all the more wonderful that I took a chance on these.
I found them at the 99 Cent Only Store. In fact, I saw them for several weeks at several different stores, which usually means it’s a new item and probably more likely to be fresh. I’ve seen the Queen Anne line at Von’s for $2.99, so at 99 cents, it was quite a deal for 5 ounces of chocolate. They come in a rather elegant stand up cardboard box/bag with a sealed cellophane pouch inside.
I’m a huge fan of Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peel and the fact that you can’t get such a thing at Trader Joe’s is rather disheartening (I got the “orange sticks” once thinking that’s what they were, but it was a jelly stick covered with chocolate).
These were fresh and glossy and had a wonderful scent of orange zest. The orange peel inside was firm and a little chewy but not overly sweetened. The dark chocolate though not the best in the world was a wonderful sweet complement to the zesty innards.
If I see these again, I’m definitely going to pick them up. I have quite figured out how to decipher the code on the back as to how old these are (164513 was all it said), so I consider them a limited opportunity good deal. At this price they’re an 8 out of 10, at regular price they’re a 6 out of 10 ... so I’m calling them in the middle for the review rating at 7 out of 10.
(Queen Anne Candy is made by the same company that makes those World’s Finest Chocolate bars that the band kids are always trying to sell you.)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.