Monday, July 31, 2006

What I Ate on my Summer Vacation

I went on vacation last week. All the posts from last week were “prewritten” so there’d be no interruption in reviews here at Candy Blog. It was an interesting experiment to see what I’d eat when I didn’t have the blog as an excuse and it turns out that I probably a little bit less candy (but had more desserts and far more cheese than normal). But now that I’m back home I thought I’d do a little digest about the new things that I tried that I probably won’t make full posts about:

imageScharffen Berger Nibby Bar - I picked up this little 1 ounce bar in Healdsburg, CA at a Scharffen Berger store in the town plaza on my way north. Though I’ve said before I’m not a huge fan of Scharffen Berger for munching, this bar had a lot to offer. The nibs were crunchy and packed a powerfully chocolatey crunch and the chocolate was smooth and complex. It didn’t have the unpleasant acidic note that I complain about most of the time.

While we were there, they also gave us a taste of the new Kumasi Sambirano bar, which was really nice. It was much more fruity, it had some grassy and floral notes with a strong raisin taste to it, which balanced the normally sour taste of their chocolate. I also got a taste of the chocolate covered ginger pieces as well, which I was really looking forward to, but found that the acidic notes and the ginger spice really blended too well for me to have both the chocolatey experience and the slight burn mix in a satisfying way. I’m still curious about how the dipped figs would taste.

Almond Joy Toasted Coconut (Limited Edition) - I figured I should pick up the limited edition bars while I could and when I saw this at the market it seemed like the perfect bar for taking out on a hike. The inside is a dark and and creamy beige color instead of white and has a slight caramelized note reminiscent of toasted marshmallows. I’m not usually one for the Almond Joy, though I love almonds, because I find the milk chocolate a little too sweet for the coconut, but this was a nice change of pace.

Cashew Cookie Lara Bar - not technically candy, this is just a bar of mashed up dates and cashews. It’s sweet, a little creamy and kid of dry but wholly satisfying. I ate three of these during the week.

Almond M&Ms - I bought a “medium” sized bag of these for the trip, which is 11 ounces (sound pretty large to me!). They’re wonderfully crunchy with the crisp shell and fresh almonds combined with the super-sweet milk chocolate. The perfect snack.

Swedish Fish - these are great driving candies. We logged about 1,800 miles in the car, so a little pick me up to combat the hypnosis of I-5 was welcome. We ate them two different ways, chilled out of the cooler and then later heated from sitting in the car. I like them practically molten inside. But chilled gives them a nice chewy snap.

Pink Grapefruit Mentos - How could I resist taking a roll of these on the road with me?

Green Apple Mentos - these were rather different from the Sour Apple ones I had a couple of months ago and I prefer them. The Green Apple Mentos taste a lot more like apples than any other apple candy I’ve ever had - almost like apple juice. They’re nicely floral and tart. I’m not wild about them, but I’d finished the Swedish Fish already.

Citrus Hard Candies - I have no idea who made these, but there was a complementary jar of them in our room at the Hotel Rex and they looked like little slices of fruit. Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit and Lime. I pretty much emptied the jar. They were pretty and tasty and just the little pick-me-up I needed before all the walking around town!

It doesn’t seem like I ate much candy last week but there were desserts though, which I don’t always have. In Trinidad, CA I indulged in one of my all-time favorite desserts - a chocolate pecan pie with hot rum sauce at Larrupin’ Cafe. My husband had a lemon cheesecake that was also pretty darn good.

In Olema, CA we had a fantastic bread pudding with currants and a caramel sauce (that they added cardamom ice cream to for us instead of whipped cream) at the Olema Inn.

In San Francisco at Rue de Jacques in the Nob Hill area I also expanded my dessert horizons and tried a soft meringue in a strawberry soup that sounded good. In reality it was a piece of fluffed egg white on top of a too-sweet strawberry syrup. I would have preferred a more home-styled strawberry puree. But on the plus side, I can’t imagine that there were many calories for such a small portion and of course no fat. My husband had a warm chocolate cake that was practically flourless and not sweet at all but super-rich.

Of course the best dessert had to be the one that had the best ambiance (not that the rest of the places weren’t great!) were the cookies and brownies we had from the Bovine Bakery (Pt. Reyes Station, CA) that were served to us by our kayak guide on a small sand spit in Tomales Bay after we kayaked about two miles. We had some hot coffee and sat watching the waning light and low clouds as we waited for dark when we would see the natural bioluminescent bloom of the warmer side of the bay.

Tomorrow I’ll return a little more rested with the usual reviews and a rundown of a candy store I found in Windsor, CA (thanks to several reader’s tips) called Powell’s and a visit to San Francisco’s Ferry Terminal.

Overall, I give this vacation a 10 out of 10.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:25 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     Fun StuffNews

  1. I look forward to your post about the Ferry Building! I’d go every weekend, but that would be dangerous.

    I just had to comment on your Scharffen Berger tastings. I completely agree with your assessment of their choco, but if you have a chance I recommend the new(ish) Gianduja Bar. It made a convert out of me. Amazing! The flavors blend so well.

    Also, I love and adore Lara Bars. If you have not tried the other flavors, I highly recommend them. Pecan Pie and Banana Cookie being favorites. And Cocoa Mole and…. well, almost all of them.

    Comment by Kate (in Berkeley!) on 7/31/06 at 10:01 am #
  2. ooh, i do love larabars. they make me feel so virtuous, even though they have plenty of calories and fat in them.

    Comment by Pam on 7/31/06 at 10:04 am #
  3. Glad you are back!  Sounds like a good time, at least it would be for me what with chocolate pecan pie and bread pudding…mmmm….

    Comment by Julilla on 7/31/06 at 12:03 pm #
  4. Sounds you like had a great time!  Out of curiosity, did you get any further north on the coast than Trinidad?  I have lots of family about an hour north of there in Crescent City, so I go through Trinidad when I see them.  I heard about that candy shop in Windsor too…about two weeks after I got back from my last trip to Crescent City (during which I drove around Windsor looking for a place to eat.)  Actually, I think I remember seeing the store but wasn’t able to stop due to time constraints.

    Comment by Alex on 7/31/06 at 12:52 pm #
  5. I found pink grapefruit mentos made with kosher gelatin instead of regular at a bodega in upper manhattan! i was in heaven, they are super delicious!

    Comment by torahumaddachic on 7/31/06 at 3:22 pm #
  6. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Yay! grin

    I have to say, Peanut Butter M&M’s are my fav, but the Almonds come in second for me. I’ve heard the Almond ones are the “healthiest” ones you can pick.

    Comment by Sera on 7/31/06 at 4:24 pm #
  7. Those citrus hard candies make me think of something that is so so so good (mostly the grapefruit variety - who can resist pamplemousse?!) from Perugina.

    Comment by Colleen on 8/01/06 at 5:30 am #
  8. Cybele's avatar

    Kate - I did try the Guanduja bar! It was great.

    I’m a big fan of most of the Lara Bars (I can’t eat a lot of them because they have walnuts in them). Ginger Snap is my go-to bar for the most part.

    Pam - have you tried the Maya bars from Lara yet?

    Alex - we went as far as the Klamath River mouth where we did the overlook hike and Hidden Beach then turned around and went back south. I haven’t been to Crescent City much (I lived in Eureka/Arcata for about 6 years).

    torahumaddachic - I had no idea that Mentos were kosher! I’ll have to check my labels now.

    Sera - I just tried the Peanut Butter M&Ms; for the first time about two weeks ago. Pretty good!

    Colleen - I’m thinking they might be Perugina or some other European hard candy ... they were very good, even the lime ones.

    Comment by Cybele on 8/01/06 at 6:34 am #
  9. i read about the maya bars but haven’t seen them yet. we’re going to whole foods this week, maybe i’ll have better luck this time.

    Comment by Pam on 8/01/06 at 7:12 am #
  10. Most mentos aren’t kosher, but they have newly available varieties of the pink grapefruit and green apple flavors that are also sold in Israel (and Europe).  they have a kosher symbol in Hebrew on the label. 
    I love the pink grapefruit, the apple doesn’t do much for me.
    But I have only seen them in one small, out of the way kosher grocery here in Chicago. even the bigger kosher stores don’t have them.  and you can’t order them online.

    Comment by rachel b. on 8/02/06 at 6:22 am #
  11. Hi Cybele!  Just wanted to let you know at a small Dutch store today I saw so many different mentos flavours; have you heard of cinnamon, peach, strawberry, and grape flavors?  I tried the grape and really enjoyed it.

    Comment by Corinne on 8/02/06 at 8:04 am #
  12. Toasted Almond Joy?

    Geez, I didn’t think they could get any better…

    Comment by David on 8/05/06 at 1:48 pm #
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