Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Thanks goodness Ikea’s proclivity for sassy names does not extend to their treats at the food section. I have enough trouble buying candy shaped like rats that looks like the felt pulled out from a highlighter pen that I don’t need it to be further called Bjarf, Puke or Funkis.
Name: Licorice Boats
I gave these to Russ to try the other night and he agreed that, “The licorice in my licorice boat had already set sail.” These are definitely sweet - you just open the bag and the sugary smell permeates the air. But there’s no there there. The jelly center has a bit of a licorice perfume to it, but no bite. I think I’ve come to expect molasses with my licorice as it’s a good anchor for the flavor.
Name: Jelly Rats
They’re rather scary looking, and I’m telling you that’s the actual color - some sort of slightly translucent-neon hazard color. They also have a strong sweet smell infused with violet which didn’t thrill me, but biting into them I found a nice, tart and fruity jelly candy. The flavors aren’t complex or strong, but just nice. If I am planning on having a Swedish jelly candy though, I really want some Swedish fish.
Name: Marabou Milk Chocolate with Nuts
This was the positive find in the whole experience. They’re little chunks of milk chocolate with crushed hazelnuts. Really creamy, very sweet with good nuts. The chocolate is smooth and the toasty taste of the nuts infuses it well.
It’s simple and satisfying. The roll is easy to share and I might make a point to pick these up at the start of my shopping experience at Ikea as a little boost. I ate them all before I finished typing this review.
Ratings: Licorice Boats - 4 out of 10
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
I have it on good authority that the translation of this candy is, loosely, Kitten Tongues. I suppose they do kind of look like tongues. Having never eaten a real kitten tongue (or any part of a kitten for that matter), I can’t say that they do or don’t taste like them.
The little tray box slides open to reveal an array of these chocolate tongues in a piece of wax paper. Unfortunately they taste rather like wax paper. They could be stale (after all, they’ve been passed through at least two people before getting to me). But the expiration says they’re good until October ‘05. The chocolate is slightly stale and doesn’t melt quickly. It’s sweet and milky, like most European milk chocolate, but not terribly flavorful otherwise.
It’s too bad too, because the photos of the kittens are as cute as can be (I’ve seen other photos on the ‘net and it seems that there are different kittens for different varieties of the chocolates). I have to say that if I were ever in a position to buy these again, I probably will, if only for the novelty of it. I can’t fathom where I’d be where they’d carry them (besides Prague) but at least now I’ve had them and know what I’d be buying (not like that time I tried to buy saffron in Spain and ended up with a tea for air sickness).
Rating - 5 out of 10.
Name: Chocolate Truffles
I know, I’ve said it before but I truly believe that candy is for the masses. I’m not sure if this counts as candy - it might be edible art or perhaps just some sort of upscale “proof of exclusivity.” They’re just chocolates, so why are they so damn expensive?
I only bought four, because they were so dang expensive. They are, from left to right - Bronte: Raspberry & Earl Grey; Maya: Espresso; Veda: Ginger and Jade: Green Tea. (I think they all had chic names.)
The raspberry & earl grey was my first try - it was definitely the one that I was most interested in. We’d started our visit with some caramel ice cream and another scoop of their black tea ice cream. These folks know how to work with botanicals. The raspberry flavoring is in an ultra-soft and creamy bittersweet chocolate center. After that melts onto the tongue, a dryness is noticeable and then the bergamot of the Earl Grey really shines. I could have used more chocolate taste though.
The green tea was next and didn’t really thrill me. The texture at first was beautifully smooth. The center on this one is a creamy, well, cream, no chocolate there. The green tea gave it a woodsy flavor but also a bit of a chalkiness (I’m guessing they used matcha instead of an essence).
Espesso was definitely coffee-ish. Predictable - but dependable. Smooth, woodsy, strong and with a slight smokey quality and a caffeinated charge with bits of espresso beans on the top.
The only milk chocolate choice I made was the ginger one (which the woman at the counter said was her personal favorite). Upon biting into it, the ginger was wonderfully fragrant. It didn’t smell like powdered ginger, it was fresh and zesty. The milk chocolate is a great foundation for this.
All the centers were a bit too buttery for me - they needed a bit more of the cocoa solids or something for it to not feel like I was eating a stick of butter.
So there you have it, my two favorites are Veda and Bronte with Maya making a good showing. Will I buy them again? Unlikely. But if someone were to give them to me as a gift, well, I’d tsk, tsk and protest that you shouldn’t have and then probably give you a kiss.
Name: Fruit Pate
The other purchase, which was much more affordable were the slabs of fruit pate. Think fruit jellies and then jam twice as much flavor in them and you’ve got fruit pate. I picked up three of these flavors:
Raspberry, Blood Orange and something called Calamansi which is a Philippino citrus similar to a lime.
These are more flavorful and a bit fresher feeling that those Sunkist fruit gems (which I also enjoy). Of course no one’s going to mass produce uncommon flavors like calamansi so you have to go to one of these places to get that kind of stuff. In fact, the calamansi was divine. It was zesty, tart and sweet. It was like lime but also had some grapefruit notes to it. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for this fruit in other forms. The raspberry was really flavorful, like distilled jam but the blood orange was a little bland after all that. I’d definitely buy these again and would look for some more exotic tea/botanical essences.
Ratings - Chocolate Truffles - 7 out of 10 (for $2.50 each, they should do the dishes or wash my car)
Monday, August 15, 2005
Name: Haribo Wheels Licorice
Yes, you can get licorice in whips, twists and bites, but I think that Haribo has the corner on the market when it comes to wheels. It’s really just a whip all rolled up into a disk. They look kind of like typewriter ribbon.
What I think is great about this licorice is that it strikes the ideal balance between texture, molasses and licorice flavor. Some licorice is really sweet, some kind of salty and some is just plain tasteless. This has a nice licorice punch without overwhelming (or causing those nasty licorice side effects) with a mellow and smoky molasses hint from the brown sugar and a good chew with a hint of salt to blend the flavors together.
I find I enjoy eating them by unraveling the spiral, but sometimes I’ll just bite right into the disk. By keeping them in these tight wheels, it allows you to have a soft, chewy whip instead of a hard and flavorless one.
I’d never bought these before, they’ll never displace licorice pastels, which are my absolute favorite incarnation of licorice, but I can still see myself buying these again as they are far cheaper than licorice pastels (why are they so expensive?).
Rating - 8 out of 10
I think someone needs to start keeping a list of candy bar names that would also make good names for cats.
I posted earlier this month about the Flake bar, which I only kinda liked. I’ve decided that one wasn’t particularly fresh. The Twirl, as near as I can figure it, is just a paired version of Flakes. Only slightly smaller in diameter (about the size of my finger ... I have no idea how big your fingers are) than the Flake, they’re about an inch shorter. Think Twix bars - but with a different center.
Inside are curled flakes of chocolate, then they’re dipped in more milk chocolate to hold it all together. What you end up with is a lot of air, which means that it all melts much quicker and seems to emanate a chocolately aroma. It’s basically more fudgy than creamy.
Revisiting the Flake, this version is filled with white chocolate curls coated in milk chocolate. I’m so glad it wasn’t coated in more white chocolate. Upon opening it I could definitely smell the sweet white chocolate and then a hint of the milk chocolate. It all had a dried milk tinge to it. The bar was much fresher than the one I got from Cost Plus, so that’s a plus. But it was sweet enough to make my throat hurt. It wasn’t really chalky, but it wasn’t really smooth. For some reason the Twirl bar was much more creamy. This one was definitely not old and the store kept them in the fridge ... so I’m guessing that this bar is just like this.
Ratings - Twirl - 7 out of 10
Friday, August 12, 2005
You may recall a while back I got an order from Japan of candies. The last thing I wanted to share with you that came in that box are the two gums from Lotte.
The first is No Time, which is a little gray, dusty cube of gum. It’s got a light mint flavor and is advertised as a replacement for brushing your teeth when you have no time. Handy, eh?
There are quite a few “whitening” gums on the market in the States, most have baking soda in them, so they end up tasting rather salty and soapy. No Time does not have that burning mint flavor that some freshing gums have and though it says it has some sort of scrubbers in it, it’s quite smooth. The chew is a little tough, the flavor slightly medicinal. I’m not a big gum chewer, and though I found this pleasant, it’s not something I would seek.
Many Americans are familiar with Black Black - especially if you frequent truck stops or college campuses. Black Black may be the original caffienated gum. “Hi Technical - Excellent Taste and Flavor.”
They come in the traditional foil wrapped stick. The color is not black, but rather dark. It looks like it should taste like licorice, like a large chewable sen sen. But, it’s actually flavored quite differently. It tastes like cough drops. Hall’s Menthol cough drops. I don’t know if that helps with the caffiene delivery or not.
Though the taste isn’t necessarily enticing, the charge is definitely there. I couldn’t find any info on how much caffiene is in a stick, but I can tell you from experience that I had a terrible headache about two weeks ago. I tried aspirin, then ibuprofen and finally chewed a stick of black black ... whew, sweet relief. Of course I had trouble sleeping later that night (next time, I’ll try the black black first!).
It’s a good thing to keep in your arsenal. Much better than drinking caffienated drinks when driving, if you ask me, because you don’t need as many bathroom breaks.
Ratings - No Time - 5 out of 10
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Name: Curly Wurly
Upon reading Steve Almond’s Candy Freak (one of these days I’ll put up a comprehensive review), I found out that the discontinued bar from the 70s called Marathon is kind of available in the UK as Cadbury’s Curly Wurly.
The concept behind this bar is simple. A loosely braided caramel plank is covered in milk chocolate.
And they did it beautifully. The bar smells of carmelized sugar, very sweet. The caramel is soft but plenty chewy. I find it’s important to give the bar a good bite or else you’ll end up with little bits of chocolate flaking off on your clothes.
Now, with that out of the way, does anyone else know what curly wurly means? I’m familiar with it from the lyrics to Blinded by the Light:
Tell me, what is this curly wurly that Early Pearly is riding in?
Rating - 8 out of 10 (it’s gotta be easier to find for me to give it tops)
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I just found out that Hershey has a cool free offer. For 15 wrappers you can get one of six retro designed logo tees.
More info here. There’s a $2 shipping and handling charge, but totally worth it if you dig these candies and logos. If you love the shirt and just don’t want to eat that much candy (what’s wrong with you?), you can order them for $16.95 each.
Unfortunately I can’t get part of their freakishly elaborate flash site to load the terms & conditions, but I’ll post more as I find it.
UPDATE: I caved and went to their site using IE and found this page which should tell you most everything you want to know. Except what I want to know, which is whether or not the Twosomes count. But Meme, you’ll be happy to hear that for all five it’s only 55 wrappers!
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.