Mulberries

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I never had mulberries as a kid in Holland. In fact I’d never even heard of them. They’re abundant in China, and I buy them every once and a while to have along with some yogurt and muesli.

Mulberries look similar to blackberries, though they are more elongated. On their own they taste sweet and a little earthy. Mulberries definitely put the forest in forest fruit. They’re just a little too earthy for me to have on their own, but mixed with some yogurt really brings out the sweetness.

Unlike blackberries where the whole berry blends into one, each kernel of the mulberry pops in your mouth like caviar releasing its juice. This gives you a bit of an explosion in your mouth.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Pumpkin pudding KitKat

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Apparently, the Japanese are crazy about KitKat, as there are so many specialty flavors and limited editions. I tried a few of the special editions, and I will post them all here on my blog in the coming weeks. For Halloween they made a limited edition pumpkin pudding KitKat.

I was excited about this as pumpkin makes a great dessert, but it could also be a disaster if it was a more savory version of it. It turns out that it didn’t taste like sweet or savory pumpkin at all. The flavor that I got out of it was coconut. That and a big hit of sugar. Of course coconut and chocolate is a tried and tasted combination.

Once again I have to say that although I liked it, it was not what I expected, and therefore I can’t give it a high score.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 6

Dorayaki (red bean pancakes)

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Dorayaki is a Japanese pastry consisting of a sweetened red bean paste, sandwiched between two small American style pancakes. Red beans are often used in Asian countries as a dessert. I once accidentally ate some and was put off by the texture of beans in my dessert, but I’ll give everything a second chance.

I found these dorayaki in a supermarket here in China, as there are loads of Japanese items to be found here. The pancakes itself were rather dry and a little mealy, but the red bean paste was better than expected. Because they beans were mashed into a paste, there was nog big issue with texture. The only off-putting thing were the few leftover pieces of bean skin in the paste.

The whole thing was overly sweet, and I found it a tad too dry. Perhaps if the bean paste was more spread out, rather than concentrated in the center it would have been easier to get down. All in all it was not a bad experience, but it was also not something I would soon try again.

Fear Factor – 6 / Taste Test – 6

Escargots

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Living in Holland, I would never have imagined eating snails, even if it has a fancy name and is baked with loads of garlic. When you’re on holiday, however, you tend to be much braver when it comes to trying out certain foods. When I went to Paris on a city break I found myself stealing a few bites of my friend’s escargots.

Being hesitant to try out different foods is often a mental thing. I mean, why would someone be happy to eat the meat of a pig or a cow, but be grossed out by the idea of eating the meat of a donkey. Knowing full well I can’t honestly say I dislike something without ever having tried it, I went ahead and took a bite.

To my surprise the escargots were not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. In fact, I rather liked them. The taste of the snails is masked by the herbs, butter and garlic, which is a combination I’ve always been drawn to. Snails will never become my favorite meal though, as there is a slight semi-rubbery texture that just doesn’t match my palate.

Fear Factor – 6 / Taste Test – 7

Scotch bonnet chips

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I like spicy food, and I’m not afraid of chilies. The Scotch bonnet chili, however, is said to be one of the hottest chilies in the world, so it’s safe to say I was at least a little hesitant. I was expecting an explosion of fiery chili on my tongue.

Unfortunately, these chips were a major let down. There wasn’t really any clear chili flavor at all, though there was the slightest tingling on my tongue after having eaten a couple of chips. If you’re looking after a chip with a kick, keep looking because this isn’t it.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 5

Lemon white chocolate

P1120564Okay, so I wasn’t too scared of trying white chocolate bar with lemon I found at the supermarket. I happen to love lemon, and I consider myself I chocaholic. The combination of the two, however, is not something that is easily made. I’ve heard chefs say chocolate can mix with everything, except lemon.

The proof of the pudding is always in the eating. The chocolate definitely had a strong lemony smell, though much more of an artificial lemon smell as if I walked into a room that had just been cleaned.

Unlike most potato chips, the flavoring dominated the white chocolate. You could hardly taste the chocolate at all, it merely provide a creaminess and a sweetness. The combination of the white chocolate and lemon actually worked much better than I expected. Had the lemon been mixed with milk or dark chocolate, perhaps the results would have been quite different.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 8

Goat curry

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During my trip to Sri Lanka I wanted to try some local food, which in Sri Lanka often means rice and curry. I found a restaurant called “Kaema Sutra” by one of the best chefs in Sri Lanka, Dharshan Munidasa, whose two other restaurants rank among the 50 best in Asia.

On the menu were several curries that featured ingredients that I’m not used to having in curries back home. My travel companion and I decided on a fish curry and the goat curry. In Holland we never really eat goat, unless perhaps at some more ethnic restaurant. I’d always heard that goat can be very dry if cooked incorrectly, but I trusted the hands of the chef.

It turned out to be a great choice. The meat was mostly very tender, though a few pieces were still quite chewy. The curry itself was very fragrant and very spicy. The meat was served in one dish, with the bones served in another.

With the bones came some straws that could be used to suck out the marrow. That made for another thing I had never done before, and I’d wanted to do since seeing Anthony Bourdain doing just that in Singapore. The marrow was fatty and flavorful, as marrow should be, and it actually gave my taste buds a moment of relief from the spicy curry.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 8

Red wine & chocolate sticks

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Alright, so a mix of red wine and chocolate doesn’t sound so bad. I was actually looking forward to trying ‘because it’s a flavor combination I had never tried before, nor seen much. It falls more in the “unusual” category, rather than the weird or strange.

As soon as you open the box, the aroma of red wine drifts up, a good sign of things to come. On the first bite, you can definitely taste the red wine, and it mixes well with the chocolate. After one or two bites, however, the taste of wine dissolves, and you’re left eating chocolate sticks. I don’t mind eating chocolate cookies at all, but let’s face it, that’s not the reason you buy it.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Pig’s blood cake

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In almost every country in the world you will find some dishes that are made of blood. In my own country I’ve eaten blood sausage before, so I was not too afraid of this dish. However, on closer look I did get a bit squeamish.

Here in China you can go to a restaurant where you pick your own ingredients, and hand them over at the counter where the chefs will turn them into a dish for you. This is known as “malatang”, or spicy soup. I had done this many times before, always going for the plentiful vegetables and safer meat options, but I’d never ventured out into the unknown.

One thing that always struck me as odd was this brownish tofu-like cake, which on further inspection turned out to be made of pig’s blood. I thought it would have been cooked with spices to make it more interesting, but my friend assures me it’s simply congealed blood.

It would be safe to try one piece, as I still had my vegetables to fill my stomach in case I didn’t like the blood cake. Well, I sure was glad that I picked some other ingredients. On my first bite I was confronted with such a strange texture. It wasn’t exactly soft, yet it wasn’t exactly hard. The closest thing I could describe it with would be an overly set jello. With every bite I felt like my teeth were going to stick together.

The taste, however, was not that upsetting. There was a slight coppery flavor, like licking on a copper coin. It makes sense as blood contains a lot of iron. It reminds me most of liver. If not for the texture, I wouldn’t mind having another go.

Fear Factor – 7 / Taste Test – 4

Whisky & haggis chips

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As a lover of all things whisky, I was excited about trying out these chips. I was slightly hesitant due to the presence of haggis, but I decided to give it a go.

On opening the bag, there was a distinct smell of whisky, and an underlying musky smell I can only imagine was the haggis. The smells evaporated quickly though, leaving you with plain old potato chips.

The same can be said for the taste. In the beginning there was only the slightest hint of whisky, and an even slighter gamey flavor of the haggis. After a handful of chips, I was left eating plain old potato chips. Good quality potato chips, but plain all the same.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 5