Saturday, August 29, 2009

Amalia Chocolate con Leche

I have tried a couple of the Spanish chocolatier Amalia's bars, and liked one and not the other so much. This is their milk chocolate version, and the cacao content is at 37% (fairly high for a milk chocolate, which are normally around 30%). The ingredient listing is otherwise short, sugar, cocoa and cocoa butter, milk powder, lecithin and vanillin.

How does it taste? I've really given up eating milk chocolate, it just doesn't do it for me as a chocolate fix, but this one is fairly good, creamy and smooth. I would like to see a 70% bar made by them.

Hachez Cocoa D'Aribba Mango Chili

The German chocolatier Hachez has been around since 1890 and uses cocoa beans from Ecuador to make a number of different chocolate bars. This particular bar is at 77% cacao content. Its ingredient listing is short, cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, natural mango flavourings, natural pepper and chili flavourings, cinnamon and Bourbon vanilla.

How did it taste? I don't like the fact that there is no real fruit in here, but other than that, I enjoyed this bar very much. The chocolate was good and tasty, and the mango-chili combination is one that I have enjoyed before (but never paired with chocolate) and do enjoy in this new combination. I would definitely buy this bar again.

Hachez Cocoa D'Aribba Blackberry and Cocoa Nibs

The German chocolatier Hachez uses cocoa beans from Ecuador to make a number of different chocolate bars. This particular bar is at 77% cacao content. Its ingredient listing is short, cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, natural flavourings, natural flavourings blackberries, lemon acid and Bourbon vanilla.

How did it taste? I don't like the fact that there is no real fruit in here, nor apparently any cocoa nibs in the ingredient listing. The bar tasted sour on first tasting, though as I ate more, I became accustomed to the taste, and it tasted better. The chocolate itself is fairly good and tasty. I still would like this not to be a flavoured bar. I don't think I would buy this bar again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hardbite Smokin' BBQ

This flavour from Hardbite is one I like second best, after the Rock Salt and Vinegar. There is a definite smokiness to the flavour, and the BBQ flavour is not strong, nor spicy. I think their disclaimer is kind of funny; Mass consumption of this product may cause some individuals to have too much fun.

Theobroma Chocolat Dark

The plain dark chocolate bar gives you a good guage of how good their chocolate is, and this is such a bar. The Quebec, Canada chocolatier Theobroma Chocolat makes chocolate from natural and pure ingredients using sustainable agriculture; they use a variety of Trinaterio and Forasterio beans from Africa and South America; this bar is at 60% cacao content.The ingredient listing is good and short, cocoa mass, sugar cane, cocoa butter and soy lecithin (all but the lecithin are organic).

How does it taste? The chocolate is good, snaps well, smells good, and is a good dark chocolate. It tells me that it can stand on its own, and that other ingredients just enhance the flavour. I still prefer the Banana Chunks bar, but this one is pretty good.

Hardbite Natural

Hardbite has several potato chip flavours, this one is, well, natural, or un-flavoured. The idea that one can tell whether the product itself is good can be determined from the plain or natural, no added flavour ones is one that I have thought was true for a while now. This is a pretty good potato chip, crispy, with a little bit of salt, and the chips are not all the same size or shape. Good, if you like unfettered chips.

Herbaria Linden Flowers Tea

I grew up with a Linden tree in my backyard, for years it flowered in July, filling the area with the wonderful scent that I've grown more to appreciate in the past few years. Certainly, there are several linden trees growing where I live now, even some right outside my condo. But, little did I realize that the linden flowers could be useful in other ways, many ways. Linden flowers, called lime-flower in Britain, can be used to make honey; they can be also used to make perfume; they have medicinal properties, and can be used to treat restlessness, hysteria, and headaches; they can be eaten raw; lastly, they can be used to make herbal tea. Linden Flowers tea is very popular in Europe. Herbaria has been growing plants, what they call wild-crafting, for herbal teas for 60 years in Hungary. This is a herbal tea and, as such, is caffeine-free. Certainly, it is good tasting, a pleasant flavour that, though it didn't evoke the smell of linden flowers that I so enjoy, certainly might now that I can associate the two. Sipping this tea while sitting under a flowering linden tree just might be a very enjoyable pastime.

The Ginger People Ginger Beer

I like ginger, a lot, and have it in lots of ways, and The Ginger People make a number of products that, naturally, contain ginger in various forms. This drink, that I had never seen before but found in a European delicatessen of all places, uses natural ginger juice to create ginger beer, and you can see that there is a cloudy aspect to the liquid, as well as some ginger pulp on the bottom. Ginger gives you strength and vigour, and, as legend has it, give power even over tigers, making them as gentle to ride as a horse. I can see too, that it won an award as the Most Astounding Beverage.

Well, this does not taste like any ginger beer I've ever drunk. Certainly, it is gingery, and tastes fairly good, but it isn't close to being a good ginger beer, let alone an outstanding one. If you like ginger, give it a try, but, if you like ginger beer, and are looking for a better alternative, knock on another door.

Theobroma Chocolat Banana Chunks

I've always liked the combination of banana and chocolate, especially in chocolate fondues. The Quebec, Canada chocolatier Theobroma Chocolat makes chocolate from natural and pure ingredients using sustainable agriculture; they use a variety of Trinaterio and Forasterio beans from Africa and South America; this bar is at 60% cacao content.The ingredient listing is good and short, cocoa mass, sugar cane, cocoa butter, banana and soy lecithin (all but the lecithin are organic).

How did it taste? This is by far my favourite of the Theobroma bars I have tasted. I thought that perhaps the banana would be crunchy, but it is fairly chewy and still with lots of banana taste, quite similar to the chocolate fondue flavour I was thinking of. The chocolate itself is good, smells good and snaps well. Despite its expensiveness, $2-3 for a 35 g bar, I would definitely buy this bar again.

Weil Goji Moji

Andrew Weil is a physician and author; he is a well known proponent of integrative medicine (using both mainstream and alternative medicine to achieve health). He also advocates a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding sugar, starch, refined carbohydrates, and trans-fat. To aid individuals in this endeavour, he offers for sale health products, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, foods, and health bars. He has collaborated with Nature's Path to make pure vegan fruit and nut bars, in five flavours. This one is called Goji Moji, and features cranberry and goji berry (a high antioxidant berry from Asia). This is a pure fruit and nut bar, so the ingredients are such, and all organic; dates, fig paste, cashews, dried sweetened cranberries (with sugar cane juice and sunflower oil), goji berries, orange peel, lemon juice concentrate and orange oil.

How did it taste? I found the orange peel taste (or perhaps it is the orange oil) to be very strong, and could not really individually distinguish the other ingredients (I do like goji berries, and cranberries, and dates and figs). I don't think that I enjoyed this bar, and doubt that I would try this again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Theobroma Chocolat Coconut Chunks

The Quebec, Canada chocolatier Theobroma Chocolat makes chocolate from natural and pure ingredients using sustainable agriculture; they use a variety of Trinaterio and Forasterio beans from Africa and South America; this bar is at 60% cacao content.The ingredient listing is good and short, cocoa mass, sugar cane, cocoa butter, coconut and soy lecithin (all but the lecithin are organic).

How did it taste? The chocolate was good and tasty, snapped well and smelled good. I kept thinking to myself that perhaps the coconut would taste better if it was toasted, but it still tasted pretty good. I might buy this bar again, despite its expense, $2-3 for a 35 g bar.

Plum Wine

When I was making wine, and that was a while ago, and the Italian prune plum tree in my Dad's backyard that I gathered the fruit from is also long gone, I made it from this recipe. This comes from a book called Over 200 Wine Recipes for the Home Winemaker, by C.F. Lord, which I believe was published and sold in Coles bookstores (again long before they became a Chapters, or Indigo-Chapters - when they were the World's Biggest Bookstore). What it made was a dry plum wine, my favourite, very tasty. To a winemaker, I don't need to explain the ingredients, but perhaps they have improved or found better alternatives since 1980 when this book was written. The Benerva, or vitamin B1, is an important growth factor for yeast; pectic enzyme breaks down the natural pectin of the fruit, otherwise the wine will be hazy; ammonium phosphate is a good source of nitrogen for the wine yeast; potassium phosphate is also a growth factor for the yeast, but is optional because there usually is enough of it in the ingredients you are making the wine from; magnesium sulphate, or food-grade Epsom salts, is a source of magnesium, an important growth factor for yeast, but might be optional depending on your water source; succinic acid helps the wine form esters which give it extra flavour and vinosity, but this is optional as it requires two years maturing time if used. The boiling water assists in colour extraction and with the later pulp fermentation will produce quite a deep colour. I'm not going to give any primers on winemaking, it's been a while since I've made any myself, just suffice it to say, that this makes a very tasty and satisfying fruit wine and is fairly easy to achieve a dry wine.

Plum Wine
1 tablet Benerva (3 mg vitamin B1)
1 tsp pectic enzyme powder
1 tsp ammonium phosphate powder
1/2 tsp potassium phosphate (optional)
1/4 tsp magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) (optional)
1/4 tsp succinic acid (optional)
2 kg plums
140 mL grape concentrate
1-1/4 kg sugar
wine yeast
water to 1 gallon

Prepare yeast starter in a wine bottle with the grape concentrate, 420 mL of water and the yeast. Plug bottle with cotton wool and stand in a warm place (24C/75F). When starter is active, wash plums and place in a plastic bucket and crush with a block of wood. Add 3360 mL of boiling water and 1 Campden tablet. Cover and add remaining ingredients and yeast starter 24 hours later. Ferment on plums for 4 days, and once a day (with clean hands), extract as many plum stones from the must as possible. After 4 days, strain off must from pulp into a gallon jar, top up with cold water and ferment to dryness under an airlock.

Add 1 Campden tablet and rack into another jar 3 days later. Rack again after two weeks if a heavy pulp sediment forms. Otherwise, mature for 9 months with rackings each 3 months, topping up the jar with with water each time and adding 1 Campden tablet.

Theobroma Chocolat Raspberry Chunks

Theobroma Chocolat is a Canadian chocolatier from Quebec; their philosophy is to use natural and pure, organic, ingredients that are rarely refined or converted, from sustainable agriculture. The cacao beans that they use are a mixture of Trinaterio and Forasterio from Africa and South American. This particular bar is at 60% cacao content, and is fairly expensive, I've seen it for $2 and also for over $3 for a 35 g thin bar (1/3 of a normal 100 g bar, which is about what I normally eat in a day). The ingredient listing is good and short, cocoa mass, sugar cane, cocoa butter, raspberry and soy lecithin (all but the lecithin are organic).

How did it taste? Fairly good tasting chocolate, with fresh tasting chunks of raspberry. The bar snapped well and smelled good. Despite its high price, I would occasionally like to eat this bar again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hardbite Jalapeno

I liked this flavour of Hardbite Canadian artisan hand-made kettle-cooked potato chips least of the three that I have tried so far, but, in saying so, the potato chips are not bad tasting. The kick to these chips are from jalapeno powder, and it is a fairly spicy kick, more than I've tasted in other "spicy" potato chips. Himalayan crystal salt is used as well, as in the others.

Homemade Mint Anise Xylitol Mouthwash

I had been looking for at least an alternative to commercial mouthwashes for a while, I didn't like how harsh most of them are, and really don't like the taste of a lot of them, I could stand the soft mint versions, but I recently read about a study that indicated that most commercial mouthwashes with high alcohol content, that is to say more than 25%, may increase your chance to get oral cancer. So there was the impetus that lead me down the road to try to make my own mouthwash. Couple this with my recent interest in the mouth-friendly sugar xylitol, and I knew that I would make my own xylitol mouthwash. What flavour to make, would be the next question. This recipe originally called for fresh rosemary leaves, but I don't really care for the taste of rosemary (add 1 teaspoon). This made a somewhat interesting mouthwash, a very soft mint coupled with the anise flavour. I think I might add 2 teaspoons of xylitol next time, for a little more sweetness. Also, the mouthwash went cloudy about the time I had consumed half of it, though it didn't affect the flavour (I have read that tincture of myrrh, a natural preservative, will protect against this (add 1 teaspoon). I'm still looking for my ultimate flavour, next time I might try lemon oil, but this will do in the meantime.

Homemade Mint Anise Xylitol Mouthwash
3 cups filtered water (distilled is best)
2 tsp fresh mint leaves
1 tsp anise seeds
1 tsp xylitol, to taste

Put the water along with the mint leaves and anise seeds into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain herb water through a paper coffee filter or cheesecloth into a glass jar or bottle. Add xylitol and stir to dissolve completely.

Dandelion and Mandarin Salad

This comes from a recipe book called 100 Top Foods for a Younger You. This is an unusual salad, the greens in it are dandelion rather than lettuce. Dandelion greens are good for your body, or so I've found out. They act as a diuretic and detoxifier, stimulate the gallbladder, improve your digestive system, is good for your liver and blood, could help you lose weight and control acne, is a rich source of beta carotene, and is a high source of Vitamin A. All in all, a good health source that can be found in most supermarkets these days. They don't taste too bitter, and the mandarin in this recipe help to offset that bitterness. Cider vinegar, if you choose that, is also a good choice for your health, an energizer and tonic. This is an interesting, healthful and tasty salad.

Dandelion and Mandarin Salad
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp lemon juice or cider vinegar
3/4 cup sliced scallions
about 2 cups dandelion leaves, cleaned, stems removed and sliced into small pieces
6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1-1/2 cups mandarin segments, canned or fresh (or tangerine or clementine)
dandelion flowers (optional)
sprinkle cayenne pepper or paprika, to taste

Clean, then remove stems of dandelion leaves, and slice thinly. Slice scallions thinly. Slice hard-boiled eggs with slicer or a knife. If using canned mandarin, drain segments of syrup; otherwise, remove peel, pith and seeds from individual segments of mandarin.

Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice or cider vinegar to make a dressing. Add scallions and whisk again.

Arrange dandelion leaves on plate. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper or paprika. Arrange egg slices and mandarin segments on top of dandelion leaves.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hardbite Rock Salt and Vinegar

When we first were introduced to these Canadian-made potato chips from Hardbite, one of them we tried was their Rock Salt and Vinegar. Salt and Vinegar chips are a flavour I enjoy. Some of their other chips have Himalayan salt, an unusual ingredient, but there is no indication that this flavour uses the Himalayan rock salt. These are artisan-made kettle-cooked; this bag was made by Christine. It's a good tasting salt and vinegar chip, quite salty and vinegary (though it uses vinegar powder, however that works); otherwise, the ingredients look pretty good. These were $2 per bag, but I have seen them costing $3.

Spry Fresh Fruit Xylitol Gum 100 Pack

I found a pack of 100 pieces of Spry xylitol gum at Essence of Life in Kensington Market. They also had Spry's Green Tea and Spearmint flavours. A far better deal than buying individual packs of 10 pieces, at $10 (I've seen the individual packs from $1.29 to about $2). Less convenient for carrying around, but for stashing in your desk drawer, it's great.

Pink and Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

We picked these up from a fellow at the north end of the Sunday Square One Farmer's Market (he might only come on Sundays). He grows them organically in a place five minutes from Shelburne, Ontario, east of Toronto. He also had blue and regular oyster mushrooms, these looked the most interesting. They tasted good later, in a vegetable-mushroom-spaghetti sauce.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Quatro

I find the name of these mini egg chocolates from the Belgian chocolatier Guylian very odd. Given that quatro is Latin for four, there are only three flavours of mini eggs (White Chocolate Rice Crisp; Milk Chocolate Orange; and Dark Chocolate Truffle). Perhaps it's meant to mean something else, or they just like the name. Or, maybe there is a missing fourth flavour!!

The cacao content of these mini eggs are as follows: white chocolate 27%; milk chocolate 34% and dark chocolate 53%. The ingredient listing is long, mostly sugar and vegetable fat, with cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, rice flour, wheat gluten, malt, natural flavouring, maltodextrin, concentrated lemon and orange juice, soya lecithin as an emulsifier, vanillin, salt and citric acid.

I liked the dark chocolate truffle the best, though I found the chocolate to taste a little plastic-y, like it was American. The milk chocolate orange was okay, though the orange was different than other chocolate-orange combinations I had tasted before, perhaps because of the lemon concentrate. The white chocolate rice crisp was my least favourite, the crisps were too crunchy, rather than crispy. I know Guylian from their good-tastng seashell chocolates you can find in most stores at Christmastime, I don't think that this is a good alternative to those.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Hardbite Potato Chips - Wild Onion and Yogurt

Hardbite is a new line of artisan potato chips from a Canadian company, from British Columbia, Naturally Homegrown Foods Ltd.. They are artisan as they are handmade, kettle cooked in small batches, this bag was created by Christina. The other interesting feature, is that they use Himalayan crystal salt; I have a Himalayan crystal salt lamp, but have never really seen salt products for eating. This one is wild onion and yogurt flavour, there is natural yogurt powder and sour cream powder among the ingredients; the onion comes in the form of onion powder. I also noticed there is a fair bit of cane sugar, but the chips do taste very salty. This is a premium product, we got it for $2 for the 150 g bag, but it could easily sell for $3 or even more in places. They were tasty chips, with good flavour, and I like the kettle cooked chip, but I think I would only buy these again on sale.

Guiltless Gourmet Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

I can't really recommend these, other than that they are interesting, in that they use blue corn (rather than yellow corn, or the sometimes white corn), organic, no less. They are also baked, not fried, so have less fat. They taste okay, and go good with any dip. Try them if you want something different at a party.

Mo Tod Gatheam Prik Thai - Fried Garlic Pepper Pork

This is a simple recipe, with only a few ingredients. This also isn't strictly a Thai recipe, it is more a Chinese-influenced Thai recipe, as they don't normally use cooking wine in recipes, rather they would use oyster sauce and fish sauce. Regardless, this comes out very tasty, albeit I found it a little salty; you could use the more expensive less salt version of soya sauce instead. It is important to slice the pork thinly, it cooks fairly fast then. We used a butterflied pork chop for this, but you could use any cut of good pork for this. To find cilantro roots, you have to buy cilantro at an Asian store, where they don't cut them off already. This might also seem like a lot of garlic, but, one, I like garlic, and two, it doesn't make the pork taste only like garlic.

Mo Tod Gatheam Prik Thai
500 g pork, sliced very thinly
2 whole heads garlic
8 coriander roots
1-1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/8 cup light soya sauce
1/8 cup Chinese cooking wine
cilantro, chopped
cucumber chunks

Remove the skin from the garlic cloves. Clean and scrape the cilantro roots. Slice the pork very thinly and place in a medium bowl.

Add one of the whole garlic heads with the cilantro roots and the pepper to a mortar and pestle. Pound the garlic and cilantro roots until they are a coarse paste.

Add the garlic-cilantro root-pepper paste to the pork. Pour the soya sauce and the cooking wine over the pork. Stir the pork slices to cover well with the marinade. Allow pork to marinate for at least one hour and up to three hours covered in the refrigerator.

Add the other whole garlic head to the mortar and pound the cloves until very coarse.

Fry pork slices in a frying pan heated to medium heat, until well cooked, about 7-8 minutes. Add the smashed garlic in the last minute of frying, stirring to coat with the oil and cook.

Serve with chopped cilantro, chunks of cucumber and brown rice.

Fuze Orange Mango

This product from Fuze is a fruit juice (with orange juice concentrate, mango puree and passion fruit juice) with the addition of Vitamin A, C and E, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium. Similar to the Blackberry Grape flavour in terms of its vitamin compliment, I actually liked this one much better; it didn't taste chalky and had a pleasant orange flavour. There would be no way that I would drink this on a regular basis, it's expensive vitamin juice, but not bad occasionally.

Nestle Noir Mini Eggs

Sometimes, you get things in a bunch, and this chocolate mini egg from Nestle, like the Lu Noir Extreme Cocoa Beans, has cocoa beans in its filling. This is a dark chocolate mini egg, with 51% cacao content (as such, it just meets the requirements of being "dark"). There are also hazelnuts and almonds in the filling.

The mini egg was still sweet despite being dark chocolate, though much better tasting than a milk chocolate version, and the caramelized cocoa beans and hazelnuts and almonds give it a little crunch as you eat them. I don't think that I would buy these again, though I am glad that Nestle is moving towards dark chocolate.

Kombucha Wonder Drink - Red Tea & Peach

This kombucha drink from Wonder Drink doesn't have a name like the others, though perhaps it should be Africa, as that is where the rooibos, or red tea, normally comes from. Rooibos, or redbush, is native to South Africa, and is produced in a similar fermentative manner as black tea (though there is a more expensive "green" version available). The taste is slightly sweet and slightly nutty, and has a reddish-brown colour when steeped. Rooibos tea has a high level of antioxidants, no caffeine (unlike black or green teas) and low tannin levels as compared to black or green tea. The other ingredient in this kombucha drink is peach, in juice concentrate and in essence form. This one is different too from the other three kombucha drinks that I have tried, Himilayan, Asian Pear Ginger and Orient, the others all use green oolong tea as the base.

Like kombucha, I think rooibos is an acquired taste, or a taste that suits some palates and not others. I would be more interested in a sour version, with roselle/hisbiscus, maybe, that would be red also. I didn't really taste much of the peach, it was a very underlying flavour. I like the kombucha flavour of this drink, but still far prefer the Himalayan.

Tentation Apple

This apple, also from New Zealand, is more like a Golden Delicious, and is actually a French cross between a Golden Delicious and an apple called Grifer. This cost almost $2/lb (essentially $1 per apple) and tastes very similar to a Golden Delicious, but has an orange blush to it. I think it's an okay apple (I don't really care for Golden Delicious, either), and too expensive to eat on a regular basis.

Lu Noir Extreme Cocoa Beans

I've tried other cookies from the French baker LU, but this one I like the most so far. This is one of their Premium products, and is thus, one, expensive; two, has small cookies; and three, has a small number of cookies. You look at the packaging when you open the box, and you could easily fit another pocket of cookies, or make them bigger. So, saying, I like the dark chocolate 70% coating, and the interesting creme and cocoa nibs filling. I just wish, maybe, that they were a little bigger, so I could enjoy more than one bite each.

Festive Yellow Rice

We were watching this program about the food prepared for an Indonesian wedding, and one of the dishes was a symbol of the successful union, fragrant yellow rice. My beautiful Bride found this recipe in the Asian cookbook we have, though for some reason, it was labeled a Thai dish (and the opposite page, which had a recipe that looked Thai, was labeled Indonesian). Thai or Indonesian, it still made a tasty and bright dish. Make it at least Thai, by using Thai Jasmine rice, the best. We don't know why it has the cover for 15 minutes step, really, it tasted good without doing so. Perhaps it makes the rice a little softer. This can accompany any dish, to make your meal a successful union of flavour and colour.

Festive Yellow Rice
from Thai & South-East Asian Cooking & Far Eastern Classics
450 g/2-2/3 cups Jasmine rice
4 Tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
3 cups water
400 mL/14 fl. oz can coconut milk
1-2 lemon grass stalks, bruised
To accompany:
omelette strips
2 fresh red chilies, seeded and shredded
cucumber chunks
tomato wedges
deep-fried onions
prawn crackers

Rinse the Jasmine rice thoroughly under cold water in a strainer, then drain well.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan on low heat. Cook the garlic, onions and turmeric for 2-3 minutes, until the onions are soft. Add the rice and stir well to coat in oil.

Either cook in a rice cooker, or continue in the frying pan. Pour in the water and coconut milk and add the lemon grass stalks. If using the frying pan, bring to a boil, stirring, then cover and cook gently for 12 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.

Uncover the pan or rice cooker bowl, then cover with a clean dish towel, replace the lid and stand in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Remove the lemon grass stalks. Mound the rice in a cone on a serving platter and garnish with the desired accompaniments.

Saphara Costa Roasta

I had no idea that Saphara Coffee and Tea comes from Celestial Seasonings, I've seen it in various health food stores, and never associated the two. When I had the opportunity to buy their Costa Rican coffee, Costa Roasta (I keep on wanting to write Coasta Roasta, but it's Costa - makes more sense!), at half the price I've seen it at health food stores (why do health food stores insist on selling things at high prices? - just a rant), I jumped at the chance. I like coffee from Costa Rica, certainly more than the more universally loved Columbian coffee. This is a dark roast of the beans, which are ground a little coarser than other Costa Rican coffees I've tried. I like that the beans are roasted in Canada. This is a Fair Trade product, too.

The coffee, once made, is tasty, with good rich flavour. It's not the best Costa Rican coffee I've tasted, but better than some.

Wonder Drink Kombucha - Orient

This, the third of the Kombucha flavours that I tried from Wonder Drink, is essentially their Original flavour, that is, it is kombucha made with Oolong green tea. Oolong is known to be an excellent green tea, with lots of the health benefits that come from green tea in general, so a good choice. The other two that I tried Himilayan and Asian Pear Ginger both also contain oolong tea, but, for whatever reason, the oolong plays second fiddle in those drinks, and is the predominant flavour in this kombucha drink. Oolong can be bitter, and this drink occasionally has a bitter taste to it. The kombucha part of it is still excellent, and I am still enjoying the experience of drinking it (though I would now really like to try some that hasn't been pasteurized, kombucha that is still a raw living food, much like raw milk), but I would say that I liked this the least of the three that I tried.

Still wonderful, though.

This drink I found at Whole Foods, which had it on sale for $2.50 per bottle (regularly $3).

Hachez Cocoa D'Arriba Erdbeer mit Pfeffer

This bar from the German chocolatier Hachez features cocoa beans from Ecuador, and has a cacao content of 77%. The flavour profile, apart from the chocolate, comes from dried strawberries and green pepper; an odd combination, to say the least. The ingredient listing looks otherwise good, cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, strawberries (1.5%), natural flavourings, green pepper and Bourbon vanilla. Going to their website, they have an interesting and informative section on Wild Cocoa (in German), on their search for excellent cacao in the Amazon.

How does it taste? The smell of strawberries came out first when I opened the package, a good smell. The chocolate snapped well and looked good and dark. The taste of the chocolate was not so good, I found it a little chalky, and the green pepper at times was more dominant than the strawberries, almost overwhelming the taste of the fruit (unless you're used to spice, in which case you may find the strawberry more dominant and the bar sweet). I don't know that I would like to eat this one again, but it was not that bad, that I would not try any of their other offerings.

Feodora Grand'Or Chili-Limone

The German chocolatier Feodora Chocolade, making chocolate since 1910, gets its name from the sister of the last German Empress, Princess Feodora, an afficianado with a selective taste, who allowed her name and signature to be used to market this chocolate. This is a dark chocolate bar with flavourings added, and has a cocoa content of 75%. The ingredient listing looks good, cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, natural chili flavouring, citric acid, natural lime flavouring and Bourbon vanilla.

How does it taste? The first thing that hit me, was how it smelled lemony, and not the lemony of cleaners, a good lemon. The bar snaps well and looks very dark. It melts well in the mouth, and tastes like lemon, though some of it likely comes from the citric acid (as a lot of "sour" candies use). The chili flavour was not strong, though still there; the lemon flavour was stronger. But, then, it's only chili flavouring, not actual chili spice (or maybe it is, it's not clear). I found this in a German delicatessen, and, if I could get back to it, I think that I would buy another.