Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thai Society of Ontario Saturday Market

We again went to the Thai Society of Ontario's Saturday Market, and picked up a few items.

These are Gleeb Lum Duan, which are made of cake flour. We think these are too brightly coloured, and would not be like this in Thailand.

These are Kha Nom Pia, Thai pastries filled with taro and green bean.

This is an Isaan-style sausage. There is pork and rice with herbs. There is also vinegar mixed in, which gives it a sharp and interesting taste, though I would prefer the Northern Thailand style sausages, which are mostly meat.

Hofgenuss Bio-fruchtige WeinGummis

While I was in Germany, I got as an arrival gift, this small bag of gummis from my Aunt (who regularly gifts me with gummis). Not only do these have fruit juices as flavouring (orange, apple, lemon, black currant, raspberry and pineapple), but are also coloured with natural ingredients from plants (orange, passionfruit, mango, chinese gooseberries, elderberry, spinach, stinging nettle and turmeric); and they also contain wine.

They tasted quite fresh and soft, and flavourful. I enjoyed them very much.

Lindt Oster Tradition Himbeer-Quark

The second of the two Easter Holiday seasonal chocolate bars that I found and bought in Germany, the other being Erdbeer-Rhabarber-Buttermilch, has two of my favourite foods, quark and raspberries (Himbeer). Quark is a fresh cheese similar to fromage frais and ricotta (though ricotta is made from scalded whey while quark is not) that is found in Europe more than it is in North America, and enjoyed mostly in dessert form, such as cheesecake or mixed with fruits. This bar is very similar to the Strawberry-Rhubarb-Buttermilk one; it is a milk chocolate with a sweet filling. There is no indication of the cacao content.

How does it taste? I enjoyed this one as much as the Strawberry-Rhubarb one, and it tasted very similar, very sweet with an underlying tart flavour (from the quark). I don't think I would buy this again, and don't really have a source for them. Again, let's get a dark chocolate version of this. Raspberries and dark chocolate are a good combination.

Lindt Oster Tradition Erdbeer-Rhabarber-ButterMilch

Lindt seems to bring out more interesting seasonal items in Europe than they do in Canada. I found this one in Germany. The idea of the tasty combination of strawberries (Erdbeer) and rhubarb (Rhabarber) (which I like in jam and pies) appealed to me certainly. This is a milk chocolate bar, filled with layers of buttermilk-creme filling, on top of which is a sugary layer flavoured with strawberry and rhubarb juice concentrates.

How does it taste? Quite good, despite the sugariness of the filling. The buttermilk creme was tasty and tangy, and the strawberry/rhubarb layer flavour was not so predominant. I don't think I could eat this on a regular basis (and don't have a good source for these seasonal items), and wonder, like always, how it would taste with a dark chocolate version. Strawberries and dark chocolate, anyone?

Homemade Gewürztraminer Wine

A big shout-out to my friend, who gifted me with two bottles of wine, one red and one white. It puts me in mind to make my own wine; I have fond memories of a plum wine I used to make. The white one, which I used mostly in a Jamie Oliver chicken stew recipe, is made with Gewürztraminer grapes (a dark skinned grape that makes white wine, and is a European varietal); he and his father together made these wines. The rest of it I drank with meals. I can tell that it is a home-made wine, there is a "flavour" to it, that does not exist in commercial wines (and existed in my own homemade wines). But, still, thanks!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lindt Special Edition Egg - China

I found this for sale in Germany at Easter, there were also ones for India and Mexico (that I could find). I like the Chinese Dragon!

Within were several chocolate eggs, two milk chocolate Lindor, one Cresta (with rice crisps), one Truffel a la Vanilla, one Truffel Marc de Champagne (with alcohol) and one Nougat with hazelnuts (my favourite).

Katalyst Kombucha Ginger Devotion

The second of the kombucha I sampled from Massachusetts-based Katalyst Kombucha has one of my favourite flavours - Ginger. The ginger that is within is Hawaiian Yellow Ginger.

From the 'Net, I found out that Hawaiian Yellow Ginger is a rare cultivar (less than 1/10 of a percent), that is know for its superior pungency (like Thai ginger is more pungent than Chinese ginger) and depth of flavour. The root is also denser and less fibrous, and very yellow when you slice it open.

This is the kombucha that I tried that had the rather thick scoby on it; I found it a little disconcerting, but there was no real flavour to it, and it went down rather easily, not at all slimy, as I thought it might be. The ginger flavour is strong and shines through the kombucha flavour (which I find weaker in comparison); this is definitely the Hawaiian Yellow Ginger flavour. I would definitely get this kombucha again, of the two that I have tried from Katalyst Kombucha.

Katalyst Kombucha Schizandra Berry

What I though was a new flavour offering from Fairy's Tonic turned out to be kombucha from an American company called Katalyst Kombucha, based in Massachusetts. Kombucha has lately really intrigued me, and I was glad of the opportunity to try a new source of this mysterious elixir. The flavour was Schizandra Berry, and I first thought it was a fantasy flavour, but the schizandra berries are apparently grown right in Massachusetts, they add berry puree to their kombucha. This is also fully Organic.

From the 'Net, I found out that Schizandra Berry is a berry native to China and Japan, the fruit has sweet, salty, bitter, hot and sour taste (and is called wu wei zi, meaning five taste, fruit in China). The berries contain phytochemicals that have been shown to be anti-bacterial, a cardiac tonic, antioxidant and anti-depressant. Besides phytochemicals, Schizandra is also rich in minerals, vitamins and essential oils.

First thing I noticed was the layer of scoby (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) on the bottom of the bottle, and another I bought had a thick strand of scoby floating on the top. The bottle fizzed upon opening the cap, a good indication of fermentation. I found this to be an interesting flavour, kind of subtle, and I don't get the five tastes (but perhaps that's the fruit itself rather than as part of a more dominant flavour. I don't know that I would buy this particular flavour again, and don't really have a good source for it (I bought this at Essence of Life in Kensington Market).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Melitta World Harvest Costa Rican Tarrazu

As you might know, I like and prefer coffee from Costa Rica, and am always on the lookout for new sources. I see that Melitta has brought out more recently their World Harvest line, featuring Organic coffee and coffees from Columbia, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Tarrazu is a County in the high mountain central valley of Costa Rica, and features rich volcanic soil for growing coffee. These are most likely Arabica beans, originally native to Ethiopia and Saudia Arabia.

I find this to be a good Costa Rican coffee, not as good as some I've drunk, but still with the Costa Rican flavour I like. The 1 lb. bag was about $11 and can be found in most supermarkets.

Interestingly enough, while looking up some info on the 'Net, I read that local coffee in Costa Rica is reduced in price, and it has been a very quiet dream of mine to go to Costa Rica to sample the coffee there freshly roasted, the local coffee is also tinted, to prevent it from being exported. I guess I'll have to watch out for that and perhaps drink at the tourist coffee plantation areas.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Spring Flowers in Germany

These flowers were blooming in Germany in middle March when I visited my relatives for a couple of days.

These pink flowers are called SchneeHeide or WinterHeide and appear at the end of Winter.

Kiju Pomegranate Cherry

Another of the flavours from Kiju we decided to try has two juices I like, pomegranate and cherry. I say I like them, but not really together. This takes more like cherry than pomegranate, and there is the underlying apple juice flavour. This is not nearly my favourite of the Kiju products.

Lindt Petit Desserts Sorbetto

This large ice-cream-cone shaped package is filled with little chocolates with sorbet inspired fillings; Fragalo or strawberry, Arancia or orange, and Limone or lemon. You're supposed to eat them chilled (for 2 hours), and, honestly, they sat in the back of my fridge for a long while (days and days) until I recently discovered them again. These appear to be more than milk chocolate in terms of cacao content; I'm guessing, as there is no indication on the packaging. The filling seems to be made from some good ingredients, orange, strawberry juice and lemon juices, and natural orange oil, but the ingredients are leaning towards mostly sugar.

How do they taste? The limone one was by far the best, sour like lemons should be (though this might be from citric acid than lemon juice). They are kind of sweet, and I don't think they really achieve the whole sorbet experience. I don't think I would buy these again, and really, I haven't seen them again in the stores.


I was recently working a couple of weeks in the Netherlands, it was very close to the Belgian border, and for my second week, I stayed in a Belgian hotel. Most of the hotels there have breakfast buffets, and I noticed this small package next to the jams and butter. Ah, something like Nutella. A happy face on its cover, it must be yummy.

Kwatta at one time, they've been around since 1883, was a Belgian-Dutch company; in 1972 it became a sole Belgian company; in 2010 it was sold to the American company Heinz. The name Kwatta comes from Suriname, the country where they first obtained their cacao, and means "one fourth" in the native language, which refers to that one-fourth of the chocolate spread is made out of real cacao.

How did it taste? Well, I enjoyed it every morning for breakfast, and on two slices of bread, and even "stole" some from the buffet to take home to Canada. There is definitely a sweetness to it, though the chocolate part of it looks darker than Nutella. I was disappointed that the hazelnut part of it was lacking somewhat, I find Nutella more hazelnut-y. I didn't have a chance to get to a store in Belgium, to see if I could purchase a jar of it, but I definitely would, and think it makes a nice change to Nutella.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Carob-Quinoa Chews

I got this recipe out of a new chocolate cookbook, called "Health by Chocolate" by Victoria Laine, a take on Death by Chocolate, which implies that these recipes are good for you, rather than "Death". There is lots of evidence to indicate that Chocolate is good for you, has ingredients within that are healthy and healthful, I don't need another reason to eat it. The Death by Chocolate is not really Eat this and Die, but perhaps it might be "I love this so much I can die happy" or "this dessert is to die for". The recipes in this cookbook choose more healthy ingredients, substitutions for those high-fat, high-caloric ingredients, things like dates, nut butters, avocado and whole grains. This particular recipe turned out great, though I would say that the next time I make it, I would only add 1-1/2 cups of the puffed cereal, there was lots left over after fashioning the balls; no problem, I enjoyed the nutty-sweet puffed cereal as part of my breakfast. You can use cocoa powder for the chocolate, I used carob powder. Carob powder is similar to cocoa, though it has a milder taste. My daughter likes them too, she first tried them at my Sister's, she made them for a party.

Carob-Quinoa Chews
adapted from a recipe from Health by Chocolate by Victoria Laine
1 cup cashew butter (almond or other nut butter)
1 cup honey (pure maple syrup or brown rice syrup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup carob powder (cocoa powder)
2-1/2 to 3 cups puffed quinoa cereal (millet)

Heat cashew butter and honey on medium heat or double boiler, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to bubble (about 2-3 minutes).

Take off heat and stir in vanilla.

Mix in sifted carob powder and puffed cereal. Cool several minutes.

Mold into balls. Cool on counter or in refrigerator until firm.