Archive for the 'region' Category

Perugina Chocolates – Cappuccino and White Chocolate

November 14th, 2012 by Rosa

Finally! I’ve made it to the last 2 (of 8) Perugina bars that were generously given to me as free samples at Sweets and Snacks. Last Friday, I covered the “plain” chocolate bars, Monday was chocolate with nuts, and today are the last two, Cappuccino and White Chocolate.

Cappuccino was “crunchy grains of coffee enveloped in milk chocolate.” The subtitle called it “milk chocolate with cappuccino crispy,” so I thought maybe it would be full of cappuccino rice crisps.

Visually, it was obvious to tell that the bar was full of stuff, as its bottom was all bumpy. Somehow, though, that didn’t translate to its texture.

I didn’t feel any crunch; just a tiny amount of subtle starchy grit remained on my tongue after the thick and creamy chocolate melted away, and I was really working to try to find it. I guess the crispies just got dissolved in the chocolate?

The cappuccino bar smelled and tasted strongly of coffee. I had high expectations for a coffee-flavored chocolate bar from Italy, but alas, I found it to be too sweet. More Mocha Frappuccino than fine Italian espresso.

The White Chocolate bar boasted that it was “enhanced by the delicacy of natural vanilla flavor.” The ingredients list was just sugar, milk, cocoa butter, whey, and less than 1% soy lecithin and natural vanilla flavor.

That’s impressively sparse – note the lack of palm oil or any other non cocoa-butter fat.

It had a light snap with a thickly creamy melt. It started off sweet, sweet enough to bring a tiny tinge to my throat, then took on a rotund fruitiness before finishing with a vanilla scent.

Both of these bars were enjoyable enough in small doses (half a square or less) but quickly become too sweet for me. I wouldn’t turn to them for regular snacking, but the remainder of these bars are going to make my next batch of cookies taste awesome. An O.

Category: chocolate, coffee, European, O, Perugina, review, white chocolate | Comments Off

Perugina Chocolates – Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Dark Chocolate with Almonds, & Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts

November 12th, 2012 by Rosa

Today I’m reviewing three more of the Perugina bars that I got as free samples at Sweets and Snacks. I’d covered the three plain bars last week; today’s theme is chocolate with nuts.

Milk Chocolate with Almonds was described as “a crunchy almond caramel blend with the delicate flavor of milk chocolate.” Its break was soft, and like the plain milk chocolate bar, tasted of caramel and malt.

The bits of almond within the bar were super tiny. They added some crunch and a hint of nuttiness, but the overall effect of the additional almonds was subtle.

Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts, with the addition of “crunchy caramelized hazelnut pieces”, was similar in flavor and texture to the almond bar, only its nuts added a dryer crunch. I didn’t get the great roasted nuttiness that I expected from the hazelnuts.

Dark Chocolate with Almonds had a strong, sharp snap. The chocolate itself was already crunchy, and the nuts added more crunch and grit.

The dark chocolate base was deliciously complex: strong cocoa flavors with a light fruitiness and notes of coffee. The almonds added a subtle but noticeable roasty nuttiness.

I enjoyed the Dark Chocolate with Almonds enough to give it an OM. As for the milk + nuts bars, they weren’t nutty enough for me, so just an O.

Category: chocolate, European, nuts, O, OM, Perugina, review | Comments Off

Perugina Chocolates – Milk, LUISA Dark, & Bittersweet

November 9th, 2012 by Rosa

My first, “Whoa, I’m at a candy convention” moment at Sweets and Snacks came when the guy at the Perugina booth sent me off with one of each of their chocolate bars. Life is good when an Italian gentleman in a fine suit gives you loads of free chocolate. Can that happen more often? Please?

I walked off with 8 bars in all, plus some Baci and their new Baci White. Today, I’m just covering the three “plain” chocolate bars.

All of the bars were 3.5 oz and came packaged in paperboard envelopes that opened width-wise to reveal (and easily release) the foil wrapped bars. The bars themselves were scored into a 2X5 grid of rectangles, each stamped with a cacao pod.

Milk chocolate had a solid snap, though its chew was soft-ish. It melted with a velvety smooth texture, but it didn’t melt in a way that coated my tongue. The flavor was all caramel and malt, like a Whopper with better chocolate and in chocolate bar form.

LUISA Dark was from the “original and exclusive recipe by Luisa Spagnoli, founder of Perugina” and was 51% cacao. It had a sharper snap than that of the milk chocolate. It didn’t melt well until I chomped it up into little bits – then it melted smoothly.

The flavors were quite intense, sweet with the fruity taste of berries. It thickened at the end of the melt and had a bittersweet finish.

Finally, bittersweet chocolate was 70% cacao. Its snap, as expected, was even sharper than those of the milk or LUISA. As I chomped through it, it cracked and dryly shattered between my teeth.

The flavor here was pure cocoa at its best. Deeply earthy, it tasted like good cocoa powder smells.

Though it wasn’t sweet for much of its flavor profile, it also avoided being bitter, making its name sort of a misnomer. Finally, it finished with just a subtle hint of sweetness.

The Perugina milk chocolate wasn’t my favorite milk chocolate – I like my milk chocolates so thick that it glues my tongue to the roof of my mouth – but I loved the flavor intensity of the LUISA and the bittersweet. A O for the milk and an OM for the other two.

Category: chocolate, European, O, OM, Perugina, review | Comments Off

Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Peppermint

November 5th, 2012 by Rosa

Now that Halloween is over, winter holiday chocolate should be making its way onto store shelves. I believe Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Peppermint is sold year-round in Europe (any European readers want to weigh in?), but here in the U.S. it’s a limited edition for winter. Mine was a free sample from Sweets and Snacks.

The wrapper promised “a refreshing peppermint filling.” It had a strong, pepperminty scent with just an edge of bitterness. Each square was a white peppermint fondant covered in dark chocolate.

The thin dark chocolate coating was crunchy to bite through and smooth in its melt. It had a deep cocoa flavor and finished with a light sweetness.

The peppermint fondant was soft and thickly squishy. It tasted like it smelled: pepperminty with a hint of herbal bitterness.

I found it pleasantly refreshing but not effervescent or super mouth-cooling. It was much more mild than a York Peppermint Pattie and had a higher chocolate to peppermint fondant ratio. I welcomed the change: an OM.

Category: chocolate, European, limited edition, mint, OM, review, Ritter Sport | Comments Off

Sirius Rjomasukkulaoi – milk chocolate with orange flavour

October 31st, 2012 by Rosa

Happy Halloween! I hope Sandy hasn’t ruined it for y’all or knocked out your power.

This Sirius chocolate bar was another gift from my friends Nate and Jane, who mailed me some Icelandic candy after they got back from their awesome Icelandic honeymoon.

The wrapper was matte instead of shiny, which made the bar seem classier somehow. The back ingredients flap translated it as “milk chocolate with orange flavour.”

This bar was lightly scored into squares etched with squares with Sirius in the center, giving it a picture frame effect. The milk chocolate was soft but had a solid chew that gave way to a creamy melt.

The orange flavor in the bar was subtle and sort of spicy, more like dried orange peels than orange oil, and it lingered in the finish. It was much less in-your-face and less cloying than Terry’s version of chocolate and orange, which I appreciated.

The bar was well-balanced and quite tasty, but though I enjoyed it, I don’t like the combination of chocolate and orange enough to want it again. An O.

 

Category: chocolate, European, O, received as gift, review | Comments Off

Sirius Karamellu Nizza – Icelandic milk chocolate with toffee

October 29th, 2012 by Rosa

This bar of Sirius Karamellu Nizza (say that last part carefully) came all the way from Iceland! My friends Jane and Nate went there on their honeymoon, and they were thoughtful enough to send me candy that they bought on their trip.

The Sirius Karamellu Nizza was translated on the underside of the wrapper to milk chocolate with toffee. The bar was scored into six segments, and each was imprinted with the Sirius logo.

The milk chocolate was full of little bits of crunchy toffee bits. The chocolate portion had a thick and creamy melt and tasted lightly sweet, with notes of caramel.

The toffee bits shattered cleanly between my teeth. They had a great buttery flavor that was a nice foil to the lightly sweet milk chocolate, and their crunchiness contrasted with the melting chocolate as well.

I wish this bar was available in the U.S. It was so well-balanced and delicious – an OM. There was also a licorice version that I probably won’t review since I don’t like black licorice.

Category: chocolate, European, OM, received as gift, review, toffee | Comments Off

Guest post: Ovomaltine

October 24th, 2012 by Neil

As I try to recover from a week in New Orleans, ex-pat friend Knile has a couple of guest posts on deck. ~Rosa

I can’t believe I’m still eating what I bought in Switzerland nearly six months ago! I’ve been dying to tuck into this one in particular, but have held off for a rainy day. Here we are: it’s raining.

The Ovomaltine bar is produced by Wander, a subsidiary of the Associated British Foods company, which also does, yes, make the classic chocolate malt powder Ovaltine. I loved Ovaltine as a kid, and that’s meant that ever since then, I’m pleased to try new forms of malt.

The bar broke on its own when I was unwrapping it, showing that the twelve brick-like pieces were positively riddled with malt powder.

Eating it was pure joy. The milk chocolate worked very well as a vehicle for the malt, as any fan of Whoppers or Maltesers could tell you. The powder was evenly distributed and so every bite effervesced.

If you told me I had to eat six of these bars a day, I’d be a happy camper. OMG, this bar was wonderful.

Category: chocolate, European, guest post, OMG, review | Comments Off

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 »