Thursday, December 29, 2011

GT's Organic Raw Kombucha - Multi-Green

Before I tried the Gingerade, this kombucha from the California brewer of kombucha was one of my favourite flavours; my beautiful Bride likes this one too, for its health benefits and how it tastes. The Multi-Green comes from a combination of algae (Klamath mountainblue-green), spirulina and chlorella, all three of which are packed with vitamins and good protein, little powerhouses of nutritional benefits. The kombucha flavour is more subdued, while the green-ness of the three gives it a very pleasant underlying taste that complements the kombucha.

Synergy Maqui Berry Mint

I've tried maqui berry recently, in freeze-dried form; it's a powerful antioxidant and superfood, very red in colour, so I wondered how or if it would enhance the health benefits or flavour of Synergy's kombucha line. The redness of the maqui berry is there, and there is the flavour of the maqui berry too. I find this a subdued kombucha, in that there is not a strong kombucha flavour (which I find with all the Synergy line). There is also an underlying mint flavour which does not overpower any of the other flavours. Overall, this is a pleasant kombucha drink, but not one of my favourites.

Monday, December 26, 2011

GT's Organic Raw Kombucha - Gingerade

I've tried many different kombuchas from several different makers, but I would say that this particular kombucha is not only my very favourite, but also what I would think is the ultimate kombucha is; the main flavour, ginger, coming from ginger juice, is certainly one of my favourites, if not my favourite; it's also quite bubbly - I could drink this every day and any day, and be quite pleased and content. G.T. has been making kombucha since 1995, a homegrown business that has expanded without sacrificing quality and healthfulness since its humble beginnings. They've also released a line of enhanced kombuchas, with various healthy ingredients.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Local Ontario Hazelnuts

My beautiful Bride found these for sale at Square One Farmer's Market. A little expensive, but good for its curiosity factor (I would like to see if I can grow hazelnuts in Ontario myself, and I've read you can) and for freshness and taste. Tasting them, they have a strong hazelnut flavour. Excellent! Too bad they were there only one week, guess it's a short season, or maybe not a good year.

Aiello Ciocolady Liquirizia

Liquorice is a favourite flavour of mine; I was definitely most interested in this offering from the Italian chocolatier Aiello. The liquorice flavour comes from liquorice root (from the picture on the packaging), as opposed to anise-flavoured versions. The cacao content of this bar is at 53%, and the ingredient listing looks good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla and liquorice.

How does it taste? This has easily become my favourite of Aiello's bars. I like the chocolate taste, the liquorice flavouring and the crunchiness as you chew it. It reminds me of eating good liquorice candy. I definitely would eat this bar again, and have now several times. The bar cost about $3 on sale.

Aiello Ciocolady Assenzio

Absinthe is a forbidden flavour, as it has been banned in several countries because of supposed psychoactive ingredients, and potential addictive qualities. Because of this, it's not a well known or readily available flavour. Long vilified, it is a flavoured alcohol available in many places, flavoured with wormwood and green anise and florence fennel (though other herbs can be used). This is the first chocolate bar I've seen with this flavour, too. The cacao content of this bar is at 53%, and the ingredient listing looks good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla and absinthe oil.

How does it taste? The chocolate itself is pleasant, like most of Aiello's bars, a good eating chocolate. I was interested in trying this, having read about absinthe, but, to be honest, I was a little disappointed. Not that I didn't like the bar, absinthe has an anise flavour, which I like, it's just that it wasn't fantastic (and maybe it needs a little boosting of flavour). I think that I would eat this bar again given the chance. The bar cost about $3 on sale.

Aiello Ciocolady Fondente

I've tried several of the Italian chocolatier Aiello's offerings, this is one which showcases their chocolate, it has no added flavour. The cacao content of this bar is at 72% (most of their other bars are at 53%), and the ingredient listing looks good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin and vanilla.

How does it taste? The chocolate itself is pleasant, like most of Aiello's bars, a good eating chocolate. This is not a fantastic bar, though, and I don't think I would choose to buy this again. The bar cost about $3 on sale.

Aiello Ciocolady Zenzero

I have had, and enjoyed, many bars with chocolate combined with ginger, but most of them do not have ginger oil (rather, they mostly have candied ginger). The cacao content of this bar from the Italian chocolatier Aiello is at 53%, and the ingredient listing looks good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla and ginger oil.

How does it taste? The chocolate itself is pleasant, a good eating chocolate. The ginger flavour is interesting, it's throughout the chocolate, rather than in small pockets surrounded by chocolate, and the ginger is not overpowering or hot (something I like with most ginger dishes, but I would say it's not something that I would think would appear in a chocolate bar, it may have limited appeal). This is a bar I would choose again to eat. The bar cost about $3 on sale.

Aiello Ciocolady Bergamotto

The Italian chocolatier Aiello makes several interesting flavoured chocolates, this one features a flavour I've never tried before combined with chocolate, bergamot. Bergamot, as I've discovered, comes from the Bergamot orange, and is used in perfumery, but also in flavouring Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas. The cacao content of this bar is at 53%, and the ingredient listing looks good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla and citrus bergamotto.

How does it taste? The chocolate itself is pleasant, a good eating chocolate, and I must say I've never drunk either of the Grey teas (not liking black tea), so I don't know what bergamot tastes like really, but I find the flavour not citrusy like some of the orange-chocolate combinations, too citrusy even, but not that interesting a flavour to me. It's not a bar I would choose again to eat. The bar cost about $3 on sale.

PÜR Pomegranate Mint Gum

Having tried the eXcitemint version, I thought to try their Pomegranate Mint flavoured gum. This is a sugarfree, xylitol-sweetened gum. The mint in this one is much more mellow (which I prefer), and the pomegranate is interesting, though the flavour disappears quickly, leaving just the mint. I find this gum to be quite stiff compared to the Spry brand ones, not as chewable. Overall, I think the Spry ones are much superior.

Aiello Ciocolady Peperoncino

This chocolate comes from an Italian chocolatier, though I can't find much information about it; I found this bar and others of theirs on sale at Whole Foods. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin and chili pepper oil (2%). The cacao content is at 53%.

How does it taste? I've had other peperoncino bars, essentially chili pepper and chocolate, a good combination normally; this one is deceptive, in that when you first eat it, you don't get the heat, you get it in the aftertaste. Even so, it's not too hot. The chocolate itself is good but not great, overall a pleasant eating bar. This bar cost me $4; normally $5.

Pacari Raw Chocolate

The chocolatier Pacari makes chocolate bars from cacao beans sourced from Peru; they select small, independent growers who follow organic and equitable trade practices. The ingredient listing is short, cacao beans, evaporated cane juice and sunflower lecithin. The big thing about this particular bar, is that all the ingredients are minimally processed and kept at low temperatures, to make a Raw product.

How does it taste? This is a very good bar, and another fine example of their chocolate. The rawness, its minimal processing, did not make it end up tasting like eating ground raw cacao beans, the chocolate was very smooth and melted well. The only thing I don't like about this, is that it is such a small bar. I would definitely buy this bar again (and do, when I see them on sale).

Cachet Peru

The Belgian chocolatier Kim's Chocolates has a line of Limited Selection chocolates, featuring cacao beans from a particular country (this one features beans from Peru); these are of varietal criollo and trinitario. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla (natural flavour). The cacao content is at 64%.

How does it taste? I have enjoyed chocolate made from beans from Peru before, these are similar in taste, and quite good. I preferred the Costa Rica one much more, but I would definitely buy and eat this again.

Cachet Costa Rica

The Belgian chocolatier Kim's Chocolates has a line of Limited Origin Selection chocolates, featuring cacao beans from a particular country (this one features beans from Costa Rica). The beans are also certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which ensures that production and farming methods are balanced against the needs of the local ecosystem and that these protect its soil, rivers and wildlife; cocoa workers also have access to proper housing, education, medical and safe working conditions. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla (natural flavour). The cacao content is at 71%.

How does it taste? I enjoyed this bar very much, the chocolate was very smooth and melted very well, and had almost a mousse-like texture and taste. I have not been able to locate this again (I bought it in a Chinese Supermarket) but would definitely buy and eat this again.

PÜR eXcitemint Gum

I've enjoyed and use xylitol gum these days, xylitol is a natural sweetener that promotes dental health. I've seen this brand before, and thought to try it finally. This is the mint version (eXcitemint), a combination of Spearmint and Wintergreen, which are flavours I don't care for (they also have separate Spearmint and Peppermint versions, the only other one I might like is Pomegranate). The ingredients look good, a short list, xylitol, gum base, natural flavors, gum arabic, white tea extract, carnauba wax, tocopherols. Overall, this gum's flavour lasted longer than other xylitol (that would be good if I really liked the flavour), and it chewed well. My mouth felt fresh and clean, similar to other xylitol gums. Think I might try the Pomegranate.

Maison Fossier Charles VII Au Chocolat Noir Craquant

These biscuits come from the oldest biscuiterie in France, established in Reims in 1756. This features dark chocolate, and is made in the traditional method. The ingredient listing is good, for a cookie, wheat flour, dark chocolate (sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, soy lecithin), sugar, concentrated butter (milk), eggs, dextrose, salt, baking powder and flavour.

How do they taste? The biscuit is crispy, a good biscuit, the dark chocolate is fairly sweet but does work well with the biscuits. I think these are pretty good, not great biscuits. From the box, it looks like they might have some with more interesting ingredients, like rose, but I don't have a source for this kind, nor any other kind. The box of 8 biscuits was $6, so a little pricey.

Interesting website on Kombucha

If you are looking for more information on kombucha, its health properties and how to make it yourself, check out Günther W. Frank's website The Kombucha Journal. There's lots of information there, including a free recipe on how to make kombucha, where to get your kombucha starter culture, lots of other information. He sells a book (in several languages), and you can also get a kombucha starter culture -- buying directly from him is definitely cheaper.

German Prune Plums

I've been able to get some of these for a couple of years now at the Square One Farmer's Market. German prune plums are similar to the Italian variety, but are smaller and, in my opinion, have better flavour. Get them if you can.

Fentiman's Dandelion & Burdock

Fentiman's has been making fermented and botanically brewed drinks since 1905; this one features dandelion and burdock roots, both good nutritionally. It also has ginger and aniseed flavour. The sweetness of the "soda" comes from cane sugar, pear juice concentrate and glucose syrup. This tasted interesting, not quite like the burdock root that I've eaten, but similar, the licorice flavour of the aniseed came out strongest. While this is a better soda, I don't think I liked it enough to drink it on a regular basis, and it is more expensive than soda.

Rivi's Guilt Free Cookies - Chocolate

Another of Rivi's Guilt Free Cookies I tried was their chocolate one; the Granola with Dark Chocolate Chunks was fairly hard and difficult to eat — these ones were much softer and better tasting overall. The softness comes from prune puree and apple sauce, other ingredients include untreated flour, cane sugar, cocoa and egg whites. I thought these were much tastier than the Granola ones, they were quite soft yet chewy, and I would enjoy eating these or similar ones.

Rivi's Guilt Free Cookies - Granola with 70% Dark Chocolate Chunks

Rivi's makes cookies that are, well, guilt free, at least free of the "bad" things in cookies, such as butter, margarine and oil; they are low sodium, dairy and nut free; and have no preservatives nor artificial flavouring or colour. They are also made in Canada, in Toronto, and can be found in health food stores and some supermarkets. The granola is made of oats, barley and spelt; the sweetening, and binding, is from honey and brown rice syrup. Throw in 70% dark chocolate chunks, and you have an interesting cookie.

Ok, these might be good for you, and don't have any of the bad stuff, but they are hard — not crunchy, but hard, and a cookie I would not want to eat on a regular basis, and not be concerned about my teeth. Otherwise, they tasted good.

Feodora Grand'or Blutorange

The German chocolatier Feodora Chocolade makes good dark chocolate, at 75% cacao content, with various flavourings added. I was most interested in this one, because blood oranges are one of my favourite fruits. The ingredient listing looks good, cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, natural blood orange flavouring, citric acid and Bourbon vanilla

How does it taste? I was disappointed to see that there was no real blood orange in there, just natural flavouring, and combined with citric acid, there is a sourness and taste and smell of blood oranges, though not that strong. As a lover of blood oranges, this in no way satisfied that craving, thought the chocolate tasted and smelled good. I don't thing I would buy this bar again.

Feodora Grand'or Limette

The German chocolatier Feodora Chocolade, making chocolate since 1910; I've tried their chili-lime one. 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 lime flavouring and Bourbon vanilla.

How does it taste? This one smells of lime. The bar snaps well and looks very dark. It melts well in the mouth, and tastes like lime, thought not strong. I found this in a German delicatessen. I don't think I would buy another.

Kullanard Premium Durian Cookies

Kullanard makes several different baked goods featuring foods from Thailand, including mangosteen, and this one made from freeze-dried real durian. The goodness of the durian is offset by the other ingredients not found in health food stores (where we found it), including sugar and margarine. These cookies were crunchy, with the good taste and smell of durian. Not something I would eat on a regular basis, don't know that durian really works in a cookie.

Kullanard Premium Durian Wafers

These wafer bars, which can be found in health food stores in Thailand, are interesting because they contain a large amount of real durian (as it says in the ingredient listing, real durian). The rest of the ingredients are mostly sugar and flour, but there is a definite taste and smell of durian from the wafers. Not something I'd eat all the time, and not something I'd think to even find in a health food store, but maybe the standards are different in Thailand.

Flourless Chocolate Cashew Cookies

Having eaten the combination of chocolate and cashew before, and enjoyed the flavour combination, I thought to make this version of the Flourless Cashew Cookies recipe that I had made earlier. I'm still playing the ingredient combinations, but these turned out like puffy cookies that stick a little to the roof of your mouth. An interesting combination, and one that came with great taste. This is a definite make-again cookie.

Flourless Chocolate Cashew Cookies 1 cup cashew butter 100 g good dark chocolate (70%) 1/2 cup xylitol 1/4 cup soft tofu 1 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Heat chocolate over double boiler until just melted. Mix ingredients in medium bowl. Using two small spoons, form into ball using heaped 1 teaspoon of dough for each cookie. Arrange on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until puffed, golden on bottom and still soft to touch in center, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to racks; cool completely.

Shredded Pork & Burdock Root

We've recently been using burdock root, also called gobo, in various, mostly Asian, dishes, as burdock root is know for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Burdock root comes out crunchy with an earthy undertone, I've liked it in most dishes I've tried it in. I came across this recipe on the 'Net, and, liking pork, decided to try it. The first time I made it, I used some frozen Thai birds-eye chilis, it came out really tasty and good spicy as well - the gobo worked well with the pork; the second time I made it, I used Sichuan doubanjiang chili paste, it also came out tasty. The black vinegar works well with the pork as well.

Shredded Pork & Burdock Root 3 Tbsp rice bran oil 4 chilies (1 Tbsp doubanjiang) 1 medium-sized burdock root, finely julienned 1 large carrot, finely julienned 275 g pork, julienned or sliced thin 1-2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce 1 cm ginger, minced 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar white pepper

Over high heat, add oil and chilis to a large wok.  Once the chilis start to blister, add the burdock root.  Stir and keep the wok moving.  Cook the burdock for about four minutes until burdock starts to darken and gets softer.

Add carrots and continue cooking another minute or two until carrots soften.  Remove veggies from wok and reserve.

Add pork to hot wok, season well with white pepper.  Once pork starts to sear add soy sauce. Once pork is cooked rare, remove any excess fat and add garlic and ginger.  Cook another minute.  Add reserve vegetables and vinegar.

Continue cooking until pork starts to caramelize and you can really hear the wok sizzling. Remove the chilis and use as garnish.  Serve hot with rice.

GT's Organic Raw Kombucha - Original

Kombucha is one of my favourite drinks, raw, bubbly, healthy goodness, much better than any sugared pop. I've come across several new suppliers in the various health food stores I frequent here, this one is from California. G.T. Dave has been making kombucha since 1995; one of its main ingredients is "100% pure LOVE!!!". This is Original flavour, the ingredients are just, besides the LOVE, water, kombucha culture (yeast and bacteria) and tea. This is raw kombucha, there are strands of the culture floating at the bottom. GT's kombucha tasted pretty good; I'd like to investigate the other flavours in his line. The bottle cost me under $4.

Flourless Cashew Cookies

Having enjoyed Sweets from the Earth Flourless Cashew Cookies and looking round the 'Net for a recipe that would duplicate it, I managed to cobble together this recipe. Sweets from the Earth uses tofu to replace egg or oil (and don't call them Flourless Cashew Tofu Cookies, which I debated doing). Most of the original recipes also called for 1 cup of sugar; I decreased it by half as you can see, with little loss in flavour. I still have to work on this to make it more of a firm cookie, was thinking of removing some of the oil that comes with the cashew butter. Still, these were quite tasty and easy to make! Finally, like peanut butter, these stick a little to the roof of the mouth.

Flourless Cashew Cookies 1 cup cashew butter 1/2 cup golden brown cane sugar 1/4 cup soft tofu 1 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Mix ingredients in medium bowl. Using two small spoons, form into ball using heaped 1 teaspoon of dough for each cookie. Arrange on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until puffed, golden on bottom and still soft to touch in center, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to racks; cool completely.

Crudessence Kombucha Clarté

The last of the four different flavoured kombuchas from the Montreal, Quebec based company Crudessence features green tea and lemon (actually lemon tea). It also has ginger in it. If it had more ginger flavouring, it would be my favourite of the four, but it definitely came a close second to the Passion with rosehip and hibiscus. I would definitely drink this again.

Toblerone Fruit and Nut

i like chocolate bars with fruit and nuts (raisins or currants and almonds or hazelnuts). What the people at Toblerone have done with this bar, is to add raisins to their regular and very popular chocolate nougat triangle bar. The raisins I found to be very small, though it did make the toblerone a little tastier. Give it a try, if you like toblerone, and want something a little different.

Manamim Cubes

Many companies make crispy wafers with hazelnut filling, these were made in Israel. They came very cheap. I don't like that they are only hazelnut flavoured (I see why they are cheap), and I found them very sweet and will not ever eat them again.

Maitre Truffout Haselnuss

The Austrian chocolatier Gunz appears to make some of their products in Italy (a good place if you are wanting to make something with hazelnuts). This is a milk chocolate bar, and its ingredient listing is not that good, mostly sugar. The bar cost less than $2.

How does it taste? The hazelnuts were very small, the bar itself melted very easily and was not too sweet. I like the hazelnuts of this, but I don't think I would get this bar again.

Jamie Oliver - Green Pesto

Not everything Jamie Oliver touches is good in flavour. Jamie Oliver has recently gotten into prepared foods, this is one of several I saw in the supermarket. I would say this is a real disappointment, given Jamie Oliver's premise of fresh flavours and food, this tasted "old", with muted flavours and like it was made from dried basil leaves. I think I could have made it fresh far better.

Mars Planets

These came as a Christmas present from Germany. They are a mixture of three different chocolate-covered candies, one Crispy, one Creamy and one Caramel-y. They come in different sized balls. Interesting combination of crunchy and chewy.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Crudessence Passion

This is my favourite of the four kombuchas I recently discovered from the Montreal, Quebec company Crudessence.This one features rosehip and hibiscus, two flavours I really enjoy, also ginger. Some of their ingredients (cane sugar, black tea and ginger) are Fair Trade. This one I could drink again and again.

Enviro Mushrooms - Enoki Mushrooms

We've bought quite a few of these packs of enoki mushrooms (there's a recipe on that page, which I have lost count of how many times we have made it); I like them very much as mushrooms go. I like that they are very local, grown in Burlington, and that they are therefore very fresh. You can find these in most Chinese supermarkets here in Mississauga. Usually, they run about 2 containers for $2.50, or even less.

Toblerone Tobelle

This is the latest from Toblerone. Essentially, they've taken their normal long bar and sliced them very thin. There are 20 pieces within this box. Good, if you don't want to eat too much at one time.

President's Choice Chocolate Hazelnut

I like Nutella, have for a long while, so I thought to try this Nutella-like product from President's Choice. The ingredients of Nutella are basically hazelnuts, oil, cocoa and sugar; this one is very similar, using canola and palm oil, skim milk powder and low fat cocoa.

How did it taste? Quite good, similar in flavour to Nutella, but with its own unique flavour. I don't know if it would replace Nutella in my heart of hearts, but it's a good substitute.

New Zealand Spring Lamb - Thai Curry

I've eaten a couple of other of New Zealand Lamb's prepared lamb dishes, Lamb Korma and Moroccan Lamb, both of which I liked for a quick but not so fresh meal (I mean, it left me wanting to make my own freshly). I had seen this one before, a Thai curry, but avoided it, because I though to make my own. This is supposed to be a Massaman curry (with Green Curry mixed in), made in South Thailand by Muslims, a recipe I had heard of before, and one dish on a long list of dishes I would like to try in Thailand. Looking through the ingredient listing, I am pleased that the ingredients look to be fairly authentic, they use coconut milk, fish sauce, green curry paste, massaman paste, tamarind pulp, rice bran oil (something I'm getting in to) and kaffir lime leaves - all fairly traditional Thai ingredients. Lamb, though, is not really a traditional Thai ingredient, you'd only find it made by Muslims in the South. I would say that I enjoyed the flavour of this, equal in flavour to the Moroccan Lamb, but, again, it left me wanting to make my own.

I see now that their website has lots of lamb recipes, I think I'll check them out!

Gimbal's Fine Candies Scottie Dogs

Gimbal's Fine Candies has been crafting candies since 1898. The recipes have been handed down through 4 generations. They cook their candies in small kettles. I came across this what looked to be All Natural Licorice; I do like licorice. These, however, are different than Panda Licorice, in that they are mostly sugar (corn syrup and sugar are the first two ingredients). It does have a good licorice flavour, and the Scottie dogs are kind of cute, but they stick to your teeth awfully, something I don't like. They also have carnauba wax and caramel colour. I don't think that I will try these again anytime soon.

Sweets from the Earth Flourless Cashew Cookies

I liked these the first time I tried them, later I picked up this box at Whole Foods. Sweets from the Earth makes a number of healthier baked goods - the list is very long - all natural; gluten free; 100% vegan; dairy free; egg free; cholesterol free; lactose free; 0 trans fats; low in sodium; no refined sugars; low in saturated fat; GMO free; nothing artificial; no preservatives. These cookies are flourless, and eggless (they use tofu instead of an egg), and have only a few ingredients - cashew butter, evaporated cane juice, tofu, baking soda and salt (the evaporated cane juice and tofu are Organic).

But healthy doesn't necessarily mean not decadent or tasty, these certainly are quite tasty. They remind me very much like a peanut butter cookie, with a similar flavour, though different. Something I hope to enjoy often - I might even have found a recipe to make them myself.