Archive for the 'guest post' Category

Guest Post: Meiji Fruit Gummies Part I

October 17th, 2012 by CamNMere

I’m currently at the Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans, so I’m turning things over to some globe-trotting friends this week. Cameron and Meredith are former roommates of mine (we did lots of chocolate truffle tastings together), and they’re writing about some treats they bought on a recent trip through Japan. ~Rosa

For our second and third post (to run on Friday), we have a selection of fruit gummies from Meiji! Rosa’s reviewed a red grape variety of these before, which as we discovered is actually a slightly different product from what we’ve got here.

As you can see, there are two package sizes: Both contain ~50g of candy, but the larger packages (labelled as 2700mg – this number appears to refer to the amount of collagen in the candy) are fairly traditional fruit gummies while the smaller green package (1200mg collagen) is the dome-shaped, gooey-center gummy that matches what you’ve seen before.

We picked these up in the Ameyoko shopping area, along with about 80% of the candy we brought back. Ameyoko is a several-block area nestled along the rail line to Ueno Station in Tokyo. The area was famous for its candy shops a long time ago, although it’s probably more famous as the site of a major black market in the postwar era.

Nowadays it’s mostly a mishmash of all sorts of stores, with lots of clothing and fashion accessories. But there are still several candy vendors, and the grocery store we went to is almost hilariously candy-centric – something like 75% of the floor area is aisle after aisle of candy, both local stuff and the major national brands like Meiji.

On to the taste. Meredith and I had substantially divergent opinions on some of these, so I’ve listed our notes separately. She’s obviously the more experienced gummy consumer!

Without further ado:

Red Grape!

Cameron: These are pretty basic mass-produced gummies: chew is firm, not at all sticky, with a robust and not overly sweet grape flavor. I kind of think red grape is the easiest gummy to get right, since it has a strong, fairly standard flavor that you can get from basically any manufacturer. O

Meredith: I disagree! In my gummy experience there are two general categories of grape candy: the basic mass-produced type that Cam describes, which has the generic grapeish flavor of Dimetapp and the sugar content of grape soda, but basically nothing else to recommend it; and a second type that does some degree of justice to the complex seedy flavor of real grapes (the gold standard here in my comparatively limited experience being grape Hi-Chew, which I love).

I’d put these gummies more in the second category: They have an aroma and flavor that is seedy and a little wine-y, and a chewiness that is pretty gummy-typical but nonetheless satisfying. OM. I probably would have eaten the whole package if Cam didn’t have me on a tight candy-sampling schedule.

Lemon!

Cameron: Much less generic flavor. There is a lime on the packaging in the background as well, I think these might actually be a citrus blend rather than pure lemon. A bit softer than the other flavors, and a bit stickier.

They have a slightly chemical hint to them unfortunately, but overall they taste very much like the “dry” lemon flavor that is super popular in Japanese beverages right now (which is a bit tarter and much less sweet than American lemon flavored beverages). OM

Meredith: I thought these totally smelled like CC Lemon (side note: Japan spoiled me forever in terms of deliciously tart citrus soda) but tasted a bit over-sweet and medicinal, like pinesol or a bottom-shelf whiskey sour. I’d still give it an O for soda nostalgia, though!

Mango!

Cameron: These actually taste more like apples to me than mango. You don’t really get mango out of them until the aftertaste. After closer inspection, could that be an apple on the package, behind the mango? I think so.

Mango is such a hard flavor to capture in candy, and these certainly don’t excel at it. Like the rest though, they’re certainly not bad candy… just, uninspired. O

Meredith: While I agree that these gummies don’t really taste like mango, I didn’t get apple either.  If I didn’t know they were supposed to be mango, I’d call them magnolia gums.  They’re really floral and perfumey, which was unexpected but pretty tasty in their own right. O

We’ve got a couple more gummies to cover – that post will run on Friday.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), guest post, gummi/gummy, Meiji, O, OM, review | 2 Comments »

Guest Post: Japanese Tiramisu Chocolates

October 15th, 2012 by CamNMere

I’m currently at the Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans, so I’m turning things over to some globe-trotting friends this week. Cameron and Meredith are former roommates of mine (we did lots of chocolate truffle tastings together), and they’re writing about some treats they bought on a recent trip through Japan. ~Rosa

Hello folks! It’s a pleasure to be here.

I recently schlepped a 40-something pound duffel bag of candy and snacks back from Japan, at the instigation of my travel companion and co-taster Meredith. Customs gave me some pretty weird looks! We’ll be picking a few of the gems from the pile to share with you over the next couple of posts.

Today’s selection is Tiramisu Chocolate and Maccha Tiramisu Chocolate. The packaging lacks an English translation of the brand name, and searching by radical helpfully provides “former time pioneer”. If anyone knows the answer, I’m all ears!

The gold symbol on the right proclaims that they were a 2011 selection by Monde Selection; I’m unaware of how reputable that organization is.

On to the candy! Tiramisu Chocolate’s up first.

Cameron’s Notes:
It smells like cocoa, dark and powdery, but it doesn’t come through in the flavor – the cocoa layer on the outside is very thin. The almond in the middle is quite nice – the crunch is right on. I’d guess they probably dry-roasted the nut from the flavor and crunchiness.

The middle tiramisu layer dominates the flavor and lingers nicely, but it is not as almondy as I would hope and is instead very buttery. I’d prefer this treat to be a hair sweeter and have stronger nut flavor, but overall it’s pretty tasty. An OM – I’d eat these happily, but there are a lot of things I would buy instead if I saw them on the shelf.

Meredith’s Notes:
I am a huge sucker for any sort of coated almond confection, so I had high expectations for the tiramisu almonds, and they mostly delivered. I thought the middle “custard” layer might be yogurty based on its appearance, but it had the more neutral flavor and slippery mouthfeel of a vanilla buttercream, providing a satisfying contrast with the almond crunch.

Based on its name, I also expected some sort of coffee flavor to come through at some point, but I guess that referred more to the layered construction than the flavor, which was 99% butter-almond, 1% cocoa, 0% coffee. Though not complex or wildly innovative, these almonds are a solid contribution to the coated nut domain. OM.

On to the Maccha flavor!

Cameron’s Notes:
The maccha is undetectable to my nose. Notably softer than the cocoa flavor, to its detriment I feel – doesn’t nail the crunch nearly as well. The maccha powder is quite bitter – comparable to a dark chocolate, but lacking the complexity to back it up. It eventually ends up at the same butter flavor as before.

There’s a nice moment where the two flavors balance, but it’s fleeting, caught between the overly aggressive initial maccha flavor and the rather bland butter aftertaste. I like maccha in other contexts, but these are clearly inferior to the cocoa flavor.

Meredith’s Notes:
As an even bigger sucker for matcha-flavored anything, I found the matcha tiramisu nuts disappointingly weird. The unsweetened matcha powder coating the nuts completely dominated the experience and left an astringent, musty aftertaste in my mouth and nose.

I bravely sucked all the bitter powder off a second nut so that I could evaluate the inner regions of the confection without the confounding surface mustiness. Indeed, the matcha flavor was much more balanced and subtle in the buttercream layer. This would have been a much better treat if the matcha-infused buttery layer had been rolled in cocoa instead of matcha. A from me too.

Category: --, Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), guest post, nuts, OM, review | 4 Comments »

Guest post: Cailler Sublim Lait & Caramel Pointe de Sel

September 12th, 2012 by Neil

I spent my weekend trying to win Duke basketball tickets by sleeping outside, so I’m turning things over to my ex-pat friend Neil for a couple of reviews. ~Rosa

This bar that I picked up in Switzerland has been tempting me ever since I bought it. Cailler is a Nestle brand with a long Swiss history, a fact I learned as I wrote this up (though it was probably on the wrapper. I was too excited to open it to read it).

I’m a sucker for caramel. And while I’m new to sea salt, I’m fairly convinced it’s a great addition to caramel. This bar came out as a thank-you treat for some friends, who happily agreed to play along with my photographing and note-taking.

It’d been a warm day here, and I knew we were waiting until after dinner to have the chocolate, so I let it hang out in the fridge for a while. This made the initial bar-breaking a bit challenging, but no more so than many off-the-shelf bars. Indeed, it was crunchy to the bite.

The chocolate was smooth and creamy, but in this instance it was definitely just a vehicle for the caramel. I tasted toffee, then sweet butter. It was like a really classy Heath bar! The caramel was sticky for us–it probably would’ve been more liquid if it had been at room temperature.

Fiona noted that the caramel and salt build, then there’s a chewy finish. I agreed that the salt took a while to emerge, but then it lingered pleasantly. I enjoyed the stickiness the caramel offered.

The pieces of the bar have kind of a high-tech look about them, and the shape makes breaking a bit challenging, but it’s visually appealing all the same.

Overall, a very enjoyable experience. OM for this!

Category: caramel, European, guest post, Nestle, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Sarotti Edel-Marzipan

September 10th, 2012 by Neil

I spent my weekend trying to win Duke basketball tickets by sleeping outside, so I’ved turned things over to my ex-pat friend Neil for a couple of reviews. ~Rosa

This bar came, I think, from a supermarket in Osnabrueck, but I can’t be sure.

Here’s a secret: I’m a sucker for marzipan. I don’t know where this affinity came from. It’s just a fact. So, while shopping, I had to pick up this marzipan-filled chocolate bar, which was certainly reasonably priced.

Curious about the meaning of “Edel”, I inquired with a fluent German speaker who pointed to me to a helpful guide which explains that this has to do with the almond/sugar ratio in the mixture.

The 24-bit bar had a more intricate design than I would’ve normally expected. Flipping it over, I found evidence of possible blooming.

On tasting, the chocolate seemed dried out. The marzipan was okay but not a deep enough flavor to meet my demands – nor my expectations, based on the guide.

Thoroughly unimpressed with this. It’s a .

So sad! It’s a gorgeous looking bar, inside and out. Love the black and white look on the chocolate and the spangled pants and turban on the dude in the moon! Sounds like Neil got a bar that’s past its prime; marzipan has a pretty short shelf life. ~Rosa

Category: --, chocolate, European, guest post, nuts, review | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Haribo Turtles

August 15th, 2012 by Neil

Hey readers! I’m on my last day of pseudo-vacation up in New Hampshire, so check out this post from ex-pat Neil in the meantime. ~Rosa

I had time to kill in a German train station, and I needed some spare change to use the bathroom, so I bought these Haribo Turtles. They set me back 1.90, which seemed reasonable at the time, but in hindsight seems a bit excessive.

Curious about the variety provided, I dumped out all the turtles and counted. My bag contained 4 green/yellow, 7 red/pink, and 13 orange/orange individuals. While much has been written about the distribution of M&M colors, the statistical analysis of Haribo products will need some more data collection before we can do any turtle-tests Flipping the turtles onto their backs revealed a lighter section that I expected to be creamy or marshmallow. Nope! Just regular Haribo Gummi.

I found the orange guys to be sour in a bad way at first, like something that had gone “off”, rather than something naturally sour, and not much of any orange fruit taste. Each required lots of chewing, without much flavor payoff.

The red/pink sort were sweeter, again with no discernable flavor, but better overall. The green/yellow endangered population became even more threatened when I found out that they were my clear favorite. The combination of sweet and sour was perfect, exactly what I’d hoped for. A number of citrus flavors really shone through.

These are fun to eat. The filling isn’t as fruity & tasty as the bag promises, but the red turtles are satisfactory and the green/yellow ones are a delight. I’ll give this product an O. May the turtle flavor odds be ever in your favor.

Category: European, guest post, gummi/gummy, Haribo, O, review | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Zotter Mitzi Blue Nussmix (Nut Mix)

August 10th, 2012 by Neil

Here’s another great guest post from my ex-pat friend, Neil. Jealous that Zotter is so easy for him to get! ~Rosa

I didn’t even have to travel out of the country for this one! I found the Zotter Mitzi Blue Nussmix (“Nut mix”) in a new organic gourmet shop in town. I was looking for a cookware store, then discovered that the cookware had disappeared and food had gone in its place. Quite a surprise, but a welcome one.

The packaging made me think it was one of those world music CDs. Perhaps this was intentional. While the bar itself was a disc (is that geometrically possible?), the similarities ended there.

This fair trade, organic combination of hazelnuts, hazelnut nougat, cashew nougat, walnuts, and milk chocolate was a bit broken when I took it out of the packaging. This made the task of figuring out where to start that much easier. I was most intrigued by the center circle.

The milk chocolate of the main disc was very plain and light. While the surprisingly large nut chunks were distributed somewhat unevenly, they were tasty and added an appreciated varied texture.

It turned out that the center disc was cashew nougat! It broke off as though it would be crispy but was very pleasantly creamy. I wished the whole thing had been cashew nougat.

The predominantly boring milk chocolate really underwhelmed though, so I’ll give this whole piece an O. The company has a whole line of Mitzi Blues, so maybe I’ll track down some more. It’d give me an excuse to visit that delicious shop again…

Category: chocolate, European, fair trade, guest post, nuts, O, organic, review | 3 Comments »

Guest Post: SladCo Traditional Milk Chocolate With Large Inclusions With Raisins And Hazelnuts

June 15th, 2012 by Neil

Here’s the last of this week’s reviews from Neil, my globe-trotting expat friend. ~Rosa

No joke about the title; that’s what the first bit of the English translation of this bar says. SladCo, or Slad & Co., is the Russian brand that produced this, I later learned. I would have gladly paid a few tetri more for this bar from the Tbilisi supermarket I found it in if the manufacturer would have put that money to buying more punctuation!

Once again, I was confused by the pictures on the label. Currants? Some kinds of berries? Oh, those are grapes? Thanks, English text sandwiched  in between seven other languages spoken around the Caucasus!

The bar was sectioned into 24 pieces, each imprinted with the Russian for “Slad & Co”. Mostly, it looked to be uniform chocolate, but a half dozen black specks were on the surface, hinting at the fruit inside. Pieces broke reasonably well along the scoring, with minimal shattering.

The chocolate was mild but not quite milky, and the nut pieces were small but noticeable “inclusions”. The raisins, on the other hand, were whole and therefore prominent and quite pleasing.

Every component of this candy worked well with every other component. There was a bit of a dry finish after multiple pieces, but that could just be my dehydration talking.

I wish I’d picked up a good bit more of this. I found it far too easy to munch through much of the bar on first tasting it, and I feel like it’d be a nice after-dinner treat, perhaps with some cheese or in the winter.  I’m happy to give this an OM.

Category: chocolate, guest post, nuts, OM, review, Russian | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Barambo Lenten Dark Chocolate with Dried Candied Lemon Peel Cubes

June 13th, 2012 by Neil

I’ve turned reviews this week over to Neil, my globe-trotting expat friend. ~Rosa

Easily the most exotic trip I’ve taken in a while was to the Republic of Georgia, where I visited a childhood friend of mine for a long weekend and saw some absolutely breathtaking scenery. I, of course, was incredibly curious about the local food and demanded several trips to grocery stores in Tbilisi. Today I’ll share with you one of my finds.

All I knew of this chocolate bar when I selected it was that it had lemon in it. Fortunately, once I got it home and flipped it over, I was able to read that it not only had Georgian text, but also Russian and English descriptions of what it was. The Barambo corporation apparently markets to various linguistic groups.

The phrase “Do[sic] not contain product of animal fat” made me think that the “Lenten” in its name means Lent-as-in-the-period-before-Easter, rather than some other mysterious mistranslation. Any readers with experience in this?

The bar came divided into 12 chunks, and I broke half of them off without much difficulty, but some messy breaking patterns resulted. This revealed tiny chunks of what presumably was lemon peel. To call them cubes would require some magnification.

While the chocolate was passable and unfortunately definitely tasted like it contained no animal fat, the lemon was an even more puzzling addition. Some chunks were harder to chew than others, leaving one to wonder if they were even edible.

On the whole, it felt like a bit of a novelty. I could see having one chunk alongside a cup of coffee or tea. More than that seems just not that fun. I had a second chunk after the first, and it grew on me a bit, so I’ll give this an O.

Category: chocolate, European, guest post, O, review | No Comments »

Guest Post: Toggenburger Kägi-Fret

June 11th, 2012 by Neil

Hey guys! We’ve got a couple more reviews from Neil this week. I actually got one of these bars at the Expo but haven’t tried mine yet.

My most recent trip was to Switzerland, where I was very excited to pick up some chocolate treats to review for you all… and, yes, lord over those of you without access to them. On top of the stack was the Toggenburger Kägi-Fret. I can’t remember if I picked this up at a souvenir shop or a grocery store, but I’m pretty sure it was available through much of the Alpine region I was in.

The picture on the package made me think of Kit Kat bars, which are in, I suppose, my top 5 favorite “standard” candies (My officemate will tell you they’re in the top 2 things I most frequently purchase from the office vending machine).

It turns out they’re like Kit Kat, sure, but with more delicate wafers and a thinner, more luxurious milk chocolate. I’ve been racking my brain, trying to think of what other childhood treat they’re like an upgraded version of, and I’m blanking. Something from Little Debbie, perhaps?

Note from Rosa: Maybe Nutty Bars without the nutty?

Either way, these are simply wonderful. The chocolate melted a little bit too readily in the May heat. That just meant I got to lick it off my fingers and the wrapper. I wished I’d picked up a few more of these.  Definitely an OM.

Category: chocolate, cookie, European, guest post, OM, review | No Comments »

Guest Post: Katja Choco Beertjes

May 14th, 2012 by Neil

Unfortunately, I came down with a nasty cold/fever right after I got back from Sweets and Snacks, so I’m in no shape to delve into my new candy stash. Fortunately, Neil had written up the below guest post, so you still get a candy review today! ~Rosa

Katja Choco Beertjes came into my life as a free inclusion with my occasional grocery delivery, which as some of you surely know, is a real blessing of a service for those of us who would otherwise carry a dozen paper towel rolls on a bike or a bus!

The name means chocolate little bears, and the description says that they’re “soft marshmallows with real chocolate.” It turns out that the photos on the package are idealized versions of the real deal. The lil fellas inside could pass for pigs or gremlins just as easily as they could for bear cubs.

The chocolate coating was tolerable. It broke more easily than I thought it would and tasted slightly like peanut butter. I was pleased to discover that the bear innards were indeed a very soft, chewy marshmallow.

But these didn’t wow me like I wanted them to. Sure, I like chocolate, and I like marshmallow. Marshmallows in hot chocolate are awesome. Chocolate marshmallow ice cream is even better. S’mores make my heart and mouth sing sappy lovesongs.  But the only other candy form of the combination that I’m familiar with is the classic Mallo Cup.

If I recall correctly, I only ever have eaten Mallo Cups after receiving them trick-or-treating. The Choco Beertjes remind me of those: they’re alright and a fun thing to snack on for a bit, but they’re a bit boring. There’s no need to go out of my way for them unless I get them for free.

Am I missing out on something totally awesome in the chocolate-marshmallow candy world? These deserve an O and will get foisted upon my coworkers.

Category: chocolate, European, guest post, marshmallow, O, review | No Comments »