21 Oct 2009, 11:39pm
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Ginger & Hibiscus Cider

ginger hibiscus

One of the best things about grocery shopping is of course, nibbling on free samples. XD A few weeks ago, on my almost-weekly trip out to the local Whole Foods, I happened upon a drink stand, where they were giving out cider. Five Star Foodies, as they call themselves, had two different ciders to sample that day: hibiscus and ginger.

The ginger is definitely not for the faint of heart, as it has a spicy flavor that might not be to everyone’ liking. I of course, love ginger, so this was my kind of drink! Though I think even I could only take a small portion at a time. Made from just the basic ingredients of apple, ginger and lime juice, it tastes simple and lovely.

Their hibiscus “cider with a twist” includes apples, hibiscus, water, herbs, and orange extract. It actually tasted like a mild non-alcoholic fruit punch, not too sweet.

Loved them both, but alas, I couldn’t find them again when I went back to the store the following week. (;___;)

19 Oct 2009, 6:43am
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Almond Pocky

almond pocky

Almond is one of my favorite flavorings in the dessert world, so imagine my surprise when I spotted this almond pocky at the shop this weekend! I’ve only seen almond encrusted Pocky before, never one where the icing itself was made from almond paste.

According to the box, almond Pocky was first introduced in 1971, the second flavor that came right after chocolate. How surprising! I had always figured that chocolate and strawberry were the two original flavors. It turns out that many fans of the original almond begged for them to make it once more, so they’ve revived it in this “limited edition” version. Ah…nostalgia in a box. ♥ (Er, not that I was around in ’71 during the first wave of almond Pocky…)

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18 Oct 2009, 11:02am
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Milk Coffee Pocky

milk coffee pocky

Like the “Milk” Pocky, this Milk Coffee Pocky also features the same anthropomorphic cartoon cow and similarly claims to have “calcium”! Might as well protect your bones while snacking on good eats, I guess?

I was a little wary to try coffee flavored sticks after my disastrous encounter with the cappuccino Lucky Stick, but I had great faith that Pocky could get it right.

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Horn Chocolate

horn chocolate

Underneath the flap of this box is a quirky little command (in English): “Enjoy milk-flavored chocolate & cookies.” I wonder what “milk-flavored” chocolate is supposed to taste like. It’s not something I can discover in this box, despite these puzzling words, because obviously they meant to say milk chocolate, not milk-flavored. X)

This chocolate flavored “langue de chat” cookie is wrapped around a whipped white chocolate filling, creating an interesting shaped thing that resembles a slim lighter. The box describes this cookie as combining both bitter and sweet for a very “mature” flavor. It’s a strange idea that milk chocolate can be bitter, as I’ve never really heard it described as such. However, it did have a much more subtle sweetness compared to American chocolate, which contrasted nicely with the sweeter white chocolate.

Upclose:

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13 Oct 2009, 6:48am
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Green Tea Marshmallows

ocha hime

This cute little package is actually called “Ocha Hime”, which translates to “Princess Tea.” Lol. These are green tea flavored marshmallows filled with sweet bean paste. Matcha green tea and sweet bean is of course, the classic ‘wagashi‘ combination (usually done with rice cake), but I’ve never seen it come together like this before. Genius! It’s like East meets West in the confectionery world. The package claims that they use green tea from Kyoto and red beans from Hokkaido for a lovely harmony of flavor.

A close up view:

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Chocoliere

chocoliere

Mmm…more Bourbon cookies. I’ve already covered my top two favorites from this brand, and here is the third. There’s actually nothing particularly remarkable about these “Chocoliere” cookies, aside from their fun dippable shape (though I’ve never actually dunked it in coffee before). I find the cookie part a bit dry, and I’m always hoping that the chocolate part would be a little creamier. The flavor is pretty good though, not too sweet and not too bland.

I’d post a close-up picture of the cookie, but it came out a little fuzzy… m(_ _)m

12 Oct 2009, 8:05pm
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The Next Iron Chef

Yikes, my last post was in September, and here we are almost mid-way through October! Sorry for the lack of updates! Looks like I hit a bit of a dry spell. Hopefully things will pick up a little bit as the days get cooler. Not that that has anything in particular to do with food, but it does give one the feeling of the holidays, and as we all well know, holidays and food go hand-in-hand.

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending this chilly weekend indoors, and I actually caught a few episodes of the new Food Network show, The Next Iron Chef. It’s another Top Chef knockoff, but unlike Chopped, I’m actually interested this time. The set-up is quite similar to Top Chef, with two rounds in each show and one person being eliminated at the end of the second. What’s interesting about this competition is that they don’t show you footage of the cheftestants outside of the kitchen. No shots of them living together or interacting in any way outside of the cooking arena. In some ways, that makes it more intriguing because you don’t get any unnecessary drama. (That’s not to say that there isn’t any scheming and strategizing in the kitchen! There’s plenty of shenanigans going on in that front).

I like that they show a lot more of the cooking, which I have to say is not Top Chef’s forte.

The judging is pretty intense, and they take the time to critique each dish and talk to every contestant about them, so it gives the viewer a good idea of how the food is really like.

In the end though, I’m not quite sure if anyone is really up to Iron Chef level cooking. All of them seem to struggle quite a bit to finish just one plate within an hour (or 45 minutes). How are they going to conceptualize and execute FIVE dishes that would be required of them in the hour allotted for each Iron Chef episode? Though I do wonder how much of that process really is done within an hour. The chefs always start right away on the dishes without even consulting with their sous chefs. (Do they really only find out the secret ingredient moments before the cooking begins? How much are they allowed to prep beforehand?) I definitely think the final challenge should be a test run of a “real” Iron Chef battle.

…I’m also hoping Iron Chef Morimoto will make a guest appearance somewhere along the way. ♥

Alton’s doing a pretty decent job as the commentator, though I think he’s a little out of his element. His commentating on Iron Chef America is much more robust and engaged, I think. The Chairman is over the top and hilarious, as expected. XD

 
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