Mangosteen is considered by many to be the Queen of fruit, certainly it is good tasting and sweet. But, I don't think it should be dried, as it then becomes a chewy piece of leathery fruit, and is utterly rejected by my mangosteen-loving daughter! Enough said.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The American chocolatier Chocolove makes their bars from Belgian chocolate. This one features dark chocolate, and, as I've said before, is a showcase for their chocolate. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter and soy lecithin. The cacao content is at 70%.
How does it taste? Being a showcase for their chocolate, I think that this is a very tasty and enjoyable bar, bearing repeat samplings (similar to their Organic Dark Chocolate one at 73%). The chocolate snaps well and melts well in the mouth. The chocolate tastes fruity without the addition of vanilla. I would say that I would buy this bar again.
The Canadian chocolatier Camino uses mostly Fair Trade ingredients to make their chocolate bars; they . This one features coconut. The ingredient listing looks good, cacao mass, golden cane sugar, coconut flakes, cacao butter, whole cane sugar and ground vanilla beans (the coconut flakes are not Fair Trade). The cacao content is at 65%.
How does it taste? I like the flavour combination of coconut and dark chocolate certainly, and have enjoyed it in other bars. The chocolate itself is not the most flavourful and is not smooth, but it is a pleasant eating bar, especially if you like that combination. I don't think that I would buy this bar again.
The Canadian chocolatier Chocosol makes wonderful flavourful chocolate, sold in a variety of farmer's markets (to which they use pedal power to transport the chocolate). This one is a spicy one, featuring 5 kinds of chilis and spices. The ingredient listing, as always, looks good, cacao, raw sugar, cacao butter, 5 kinds of chilis, allspice, achiote (source of the natural colour annatto) and sea salt. There is no indication of the cacao content.
How does it taste? Like all the other bars I've tasted, this one is excellent chocolate, very flavourful, and the chili is not too powerful or overwhelming (my 5 year old niece has eaten it, and liked it). There are chili seeds on the bottom, but these are not hot. I would definitely buy this bar again, or any of their excellent offerings.
The American chocolatier Chocolove makes their bars from Belgian chocolate,. This one features Organic dark chocolate, and, as I've said before, is a showcase for their chocolate. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa liquor, sugar and cocoa butter. The cacao content is at 73%.
How does it taste? Being a showcase for their chocolate, I think that this is a very tasty and enjoyable bar, bearing repeat samplings. The chocolate snaps well and melts well in the mouth. The chocolate tastes fruity without the addition of vanilla. I would say that I would buy this bar again.
The American chocolatier Chocolove makes their bars from Belgian chocolate, and I've enjoyed a few of their offerings. This one features crystallized ginger with dark chocolate. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla and crystallized ginger. The cacao content is at 65%.
How does it taste? I find this one comparable to Green&Black's Ginger, the ginger in it is strong and, like the other, also sweet at the same time, not sharp like ginger can be (though, I like ginger when it is sharp). The chocolate is good and snaps well. I would say that I would buy this bar again.
The Canadian chocolatier Zazubean, whose chocolate is made in Switzerland, has many interesting combinations of flavour ingredients; this one features coconut and almond, as well as camu camu (a superfruit from Peru with a high Vitamin C content). The ingredient listing looks good, cocoa mass, cane sugar, coconut flakes, cocoa butter, almonds, Camu Camu and vanilla. The cacao content is at 70%.
How does it taste? I like the combination of coconut and dark chocolate, and this bar is no exception. The almonds are small pieces and not so forefront in flavour, and while you can rest assured that you will be getting a dose of Vitamin C from the Camu Camu, you won't be able to taste anything (Camu Camu on its own has a good flavour, sweet). This is a bar that I would buy again, but not my first choice.
I got these from my brother-in-law; he didn't even know what they were, he bought them in China in Beijing. Oddly enough, the picture on the package led me to believe that they were hazelnuts; well, very odd hazelnuts. Perhaps even cob nuts? Then it struck me that they looked like pine nuts, once I cracked the shell, anyways.
It turns out that they are Korean pine nuts, a popular nut grown in Northeastern China. They might even be the pine nuts you buy in the store here in North America. They are difficult to crack, takes a fair amount of work to extract the small seeds; I can see why they are expensive. They are tasty, though, my daughter even likes them.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Sometime's you're lucky; most of the time the fruit that gets shipped in from overseas is either under-ripe or over-ripe, better to get it in the country where it's grown. Occasionally, you get a perfect looking fresh fruit that tastes wonderful. Sometimes you're lucky.
Dragon Fruit, or more correctly Pitaya or Pitahaya, is an increasingly common fruit in Asia. Once cut open, the flesh inside of the most common is white with black seeds; the less common, and more tasty, is red on the outside with red flesh inside (there is also a much sweeter variety, yellow on the outside with white flesh — this one is the tastiest). I had been looking for the red-fleshed variety for a long while, and was pleased to find some in a local Chinese Supermarket (when we were in Thailand in February, we asked at the markets, and they, unfortunately, came out 2-3 months later). The red Pitaya looks very much like the yellow dragon fruit (Pitahaya) in shape, a little bigger and elongated, inside it's quite red in colour (I have seen pictures of even darker red ones). Eating it, it's sweet, thought not as sweet and flavourful as the yellow pitahaya. I'm pleased to finally try some of this interesting fruit.
The Swiss chocolatier Maestrani makes a number of different chocolate bars, this one features two things I like, dark chocolate (60% cacao content) and whole hazelnuts (20%). The ingredient listing is just okay, cocoa mass, sugar, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, butterfat (milk), soya lecithin and vanillin.
How does it taste? I'm always pleased when I find a bar combining hazelnuts and dark chocolate, most of the ones made are with milk chocolate. The chocolate is quite tasty, though the hazelnuts don't taste fantastic, and I quibble about the distribution of the whole hazelnuts - some pieces have none or one, some 3 hazelnuts - better care would make this a more enjoyable bar. I would buy this bar again.
The American chocolatier Taza Chocolate makes minimally processed chocolate using stone mills according to Mexican practices. This one is a showcase of their small batch, sundried cacao beans, these ones coming from Dominican Republic, as there are no additional flavours; the ingredient listing is good and short, cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter and whole vanilla beans. The cacao content is at 70%.
How does it taste? The chocolate is fairly good, a good showcase of their chocolate, though the bar is not great, and suffers from the crunchiness of the sugar and cacao beans, because of the relatively large size of the stone ground ingredients - smaller size means smoother product, as your tongue can not distinguish very small size, interpreting the chocolate as smooth. I would, though, eat this bar again, given the chance.
Zazubean is a Canadian chocolatier whose Organic bars are manufactured in Switzerland, they make bars out of interesting combinations. This one features mint and cacao nibs, along with maca. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, maca, vanilla and peppermint oil. The cacao content is at 73%.
How does it taste? Mint and chocolate goes well together, but, in this bar, there is an underlying bitterness that could be attributed to the maca or the cacao nibs. The crunchiness of the cacao nibs is a little disconcerting and off-putting. This is one of my least favourite of the Zazubean bars that I've tasted, and I doubt that I would buy it again.
Whole Foods Market sells a lot of products, both organic and whole food, and has their own line or brand for things like sugar and flour. I was intrigued to see that they have now come up with their own line of chocolate bars, this one features cocoa sourced exclusively from the Duacari region of Costa Rica. I enjoy coffee from Costa Rica, their beans are world renowned, but they also grow cacao. The bar itself is made in Belgium, a country known for making good chocolate. The ingredient listing is good, chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter and natural vanilla flavour; the cacao is Rainforest Alliance Certified. The cacao content is at 71%.
How does it taste? The chocolate at first reminds me of Costa Rican coffee, very flavourful but not with the bitterness associated with some cacao. There is a definite fruitiness to this cacao, what they describe as intense and rich and smoky (I would quibble about the intense part, like Costa Rican coffee, this chocolate is smooth and rich). This bar cost about $4-5. I would buy this bar again.
I love the smell of this tea - ripe peaches.
Osmanthus is an evergreen shrub native to Asia, with golden flowers that give off the scent of ripe peaches or apricots. In China, they infuse these flowers with water, green tea or black tea, the resulting golden coloured drink is called gui hua cha. Osmanthus also has health properties, with benefits for oral health and skin rashes, alleviating headaches and lowering blood pressure, among others. Lately, I've found that Chinese supermarkets around my area have come out with osmanthus-flavoured jellies, made from osmanthus flowers, an idea I'd like to try myself. Above all, this makes a great tasting, and wonderful smelling, cup of tea that you can enjoy while it's brewing, and as you drink it.
I've enjoyed Newman's Own Organic Coffee, and was intrigued by this offering from them (there are six different bars in their line). The ingredient listing looks good, chocolate liquor, evaporated cane juice, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and vanilla; all ingredients are Organic, the chocolate is Rainforest Alliance Certified cacao. The cacao content is at 70%.
How does it taste? I must say I'm pleased with this bar, tastes great and melts well in the mouth, smells good. It reminds me of the coffee that I enjoy; the chocolate has a "coffee" taste to it. I would definitely buy this bar again.
Tropical Valley Foods makes several healthy chocolate-coated snacks, basically organic dried fruit coated with chocolate; this one features coconut. The cacao content is at 70%.
How does it taste? I didn't care much for their banana one, this one tastes much better, but I am not tempted to buy this again.
Herbaria makes teas from wild-crafted herbs in Hungary, I've enjoyed their Linden Flowers, their Elder Flowers and their Fennel Seed. This is a tea made of one of my favourites, rosehips. Not only tasty, but good for you too, lots of Vitamin C in rosehips. Another tea to enjoy.
The Canadian chocolatier Zazubean makes interesting chocolate from cacao beans in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, with interesting combinations of ingredients; this one features chili and cinnamon and yerba mate (a South American herbal caffeine substitute). The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, cinnamon, yerba mate, vanilla and chili pepper. The cacao content is at 70%. The bar is actually manufactured in Switzerland for Zazubean. It's tagline is Get Fired Up.
How does it taste? Well, this one is definitely about the cinnamon, though you can also taste the chili pepper, the heat is definitely there, so think spicy cinnamon. The yerba mate was lost in the flavour, but perhaps it gave me the energizing effect without the herbal taste I normally associate with it. The chocolate snaps well and tastes good. Cinnamon is a flavour I don't really care for, so I don't think I would buy this bar again.
The Canadian chocolatier Zazubean makes interesting chocolate from cacao beans in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, with interesting combinations of ingredients; this one features raspberry and cherry and acai (a South American superfruit). The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, raspberries, acai, cherries and vanilla. The cacao content is at 70%. The bar is actually manufactured in Switzerland for Zazubean.
How does it taste? Well, this one is mostly about the raspberry, if you like them, then this bar is for you. I found them to be not so dry but still very crunchy. The chocolate is tasty, snaps well and smells good. I didn't get the cherries at all, the acai might have been there, just a little bit. I don't think that I would buy this bar again.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Canadian chocolatier Zazubean makes interesting dark chocolate bars with unique flavours; this one features banana, salted toffee and maca. The cacao content is at 70%, while the cacao beans come from Dominican Republic and Ecuador. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, cane sugar, toffee (cane sugar and whole milk powder), cocoa butter, bananas, sea salt, maca and vanilla. Most of the ingredients are Organic, while many of them are FairTrade. The bar is made in Switzerland. The tagline is "Be the Sassy Monkey".
How does it taste? The chocolate is good tasting, and melts well in the mouth. I don't get the banana at all, and the maca, if anything, has an underlying taste that might come from the chocolate, I can't tell. The salted toffee is very crunchy, I mean very crunchy, a little disconcerting. Overall, I would say that this is a good bar, not really that "Sassy", but not one I would buy again.
I've enjoyed most of the aspartame free gums sweetened with xylitol that I've tried. This one tastes pretty good; the citrus flavour is good. The gum is a little "chewy", ie. it takes more effort than others I've chewed. I've only seen it in one store.
Mum's Original has a whole line of raw superfoods. This one features bananas from Ecuador, grown and ripened in the full sun, then dehydrated at a low temperature. They are then finely milled to create a banana powder that you can add to desserts, shakes and breakfast dishes. This has a very banana-y flavour, very good if you love bananas. One 200 g package costs between 9 and 10 dollars.
We found these in a Middle-Eastern shop. They're at least interesting for their red colour, different than the orange of apricots I'm used to. I wouldn't say that they reminded me of velvet, the skin was smooth, but they are a good eating apricot, save for the higher price.
These two rices we found for sale in a Thai Supermarket. The one is a sticky rice, flavoured with a favourite of mine, roselle (hibiscus). The other is a Jasmine rice flavoured with pandan leaf, a favourite of Thais, which imparts a good flavour and green colour to many desserts. Both of these did not really have strong flavours from what they were infused with, and the rice was not of high quality. More of an interesting experience than one I would seek to repeat.
My colleague brought this back from Peru the other week, it's a favourite in Peru. It's essentially a chocolate bar with peanuts, and fairly good tasting if the chocolate is a little sweet, somewhat offset by the saltiness of the peanuts. Interesting, but not and no way my favourite.
Ananda Chocolate is a Dutch chocolatier; they make chocolate locally, in this case from Ecuadorean cacao beans. The cacao content of this bar is 70%. The ingredient listing is good, cacao beans, dried banana puree, cacao nibs and non-gmo lecithin. All ingredients save the lecithin are Organic.
How does it taste? Horrid. OK, perhaps not so harsh a word, I tried by eating the whole bar, but this bar does not taste good at all to me. I can't taste the banana puree, or at least it does not taste like banana and chocolate together tastes (it should taste great!), rather there is a bitterness to this that is off-putting, not good bitter, like dark chocolate should be. The chocolate doesn't melt well and tastes chalky. The cacao nibs are also lost or non-existent in flavour. I like that they use Organic and non-GMO ingredients, and that the bar is wrapped in a biodegradable package rather than the regular foil. I just can't see me wanting to ever buy let alone eat this bar again.
The Ecuadoran chocolatier Pacari Chocolate makes wonderfully tasting chocolate bars using cacao beans from Ecuador; I've come to see that these beans make for an excellent chocolate bar. This one features beans from the Los Rios region in central est Ecuador. Pacari is an artisanal chocolate maker, they craft their chocolate in small batches using the finest ingredients. The ingredient listing looks good, cacao beans, evaporated cane juice and sunflower lecithin. The cacao content is at 72%.
How does it taste? As with all the bars that I've tasted from Pacari, this one makes for an excellent chocolate experience; the chocolate is smooth and melts well in the mouth, smells good and snaps well. Despite the high price for this what I call half-size bar, I would definitely buy this bar again.