Red bean wafer rolls

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Red bean desserts have never been my favorite items on the menu, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it in wafer form. I figured it’s usually the texture of the beans that kind of grosses me out, and not so much the flavor. Well, it turns out I was wrong.

These crispy wafer rolls had none of the texture of beans. They were simply crunchy like any other wafer. All the best snacks are crunchy – think potato chips – and so I was perfectly fine with the texture. Still I didn’t really like these particular wafers. Usually red bean desserts are just sweet, you can’t really taste beans, but not these ones. You really tasted earthy, savory beans with only a hint of sugar. No more for me please.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 5

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Polish blood sausage

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As part of an appetizer platter at Starka restaurant in Krakow, we were offered some kaszanka, Polish blood sausage. Kaszanka is made my mixing blood with buckwheat, a staple in Poland, and uses marjoram as a spice. In this case it wasn’t technically a sausage as it didn’t come in a skin, but was served warm in a small bowl.

I scooped up some of the stuffing and spread it on some dark rye bread. The blood sausage was perfectly palatable. It didn’t have a big coppery taste and the rye gave it some added texture. Every once and a while I would get a hint of copper, but overall it was quite ok. I do think they could have used some more spices to give the dish a bit of a kick, as I found it a bit bland.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 6

Green tea Oreos

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After trying out several green tea dishes, I’ve started to grow accustomed to it. If the taste is not too strong, I can actually enjoy it. There was one green tea item that I’ve been meaning to try, and that’s the green tea Oreo. Oreo’s were my favorite cookies as a teenager, so I wanted to see how they would hold up with a green tea stuffing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I like matcha when used in moderation. I also found that it works quite well with chocolate, be it white or dark. The green tea oreo gave me both these things. Because it wasn’t just green tea, but also that delicious chocolate cookie, the matcha was indeed not overpowering. The chocolate and tea were perfectly balanced. I guess I’ve been converted.

Fear Factor – 1 – Taste Test – 8

Durian cookies

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One of the great aspects of working as a teacher, especially in China, is that kids occasionally give you a present or a snack. At one point in my class a student said he was hungry, to which I said “me too.” One of the other students then offered us both a little snack. At first I was going to say no, because I always feel students should keep their money, but then I noticed it was a durian cookie, and my blog writing instincts kicked in.

One of my first blog entries was on durian, and to this day I still regard it as the most horrible thing I’ve ever eaten. I found it to resemble putrefied onions, though I firmly believe I could actually enjoy it if I tried a better variety as suggested by one of my followers. I can tell you that experience left me hesitant, cautious and suspicious of any durian item that followed.

The first thing I did was sniff the cookie to check for any bad smells. They weren’t there, so I braved up and took a nibble. That strong sweet yet rotten taste was also absent, and so I went ahead and took a whole bite. I could taste the flavor of durian, a little like kimchi, but it had lost its power as if diluted in water. And so I continued and polished off the whole thing. Durian 2 – Me 2. Waiting for the tie breaker.

Fear Factor – 8 – Taste Test – 6

Tomato granita

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Every day I show pictures of unusual things I eat as a snack or at restaurants, but I actually do most of my eating in the confines of my own home as I love to cook. At one occasion I whipped up a 13-course Italian inspired dinner with wonderful things like truffle, balsamico and pine nuts.

Inspired by the colors of the Italian flag and the flavors of a Caprese salad, I set about creating a savory pre-dessert. I made a layered dish with the bottom layer being a tomato granita, the middle layer a home-made ricotta & parmesan mousse and the top layer a basil oil.

I didn’t know beforehand if this would work, as I never saw anyone making tomato ice. In order to balance out the sweetness, and not turn it into a dessert I mixed in some vinegar with the freshly juiced tomatoes. On its own it was nice, but I wouldn’t eat a whole bowlful. Mixing it with the cheese mousse and basil oil, however, worked like a charm. It was a wonderful combination, and the difference in temperature made for an interesting eating sensation.

Fear Factor 1 / Taste Test – 7

Waxberries

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Waxberries are a Chinese berry type that’s also known as yangmei or bayberry. It’s shaped like an orb with lots of pointy bumps all over its dark red skin. I can’t help but make a comparison with a golf ball, if golf balls were red. I mostly see these berries dried or soaked in alcohol, but a few months in a year you can find them fresh.

I picked up a bunch at the supermarket and as always mixed them in my yogurt. I didn’t realize they had a big pit inside. I always thought berries didn’t have a big pit. Perhaps it’s a stone fruit after all. The taste reminded me of blackberries, a little sweet, a little sour and a touch of earthiness. Personally I enjoyed them more with a sprinkle of sugar.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Cold smoked reindeer

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I was looking forward to trying some reindeer at the airport in Finland during my stopover, however, I didn’t have enough time to go to a restaurant as we were behind on schedule. In one of the shops they did sell packages of cold smoked reindeer, and I bought some to go.

They were slices of deli meat that you can put on a sandwich reminiscent of an Italian bresaola. It’s quite chewy when eaten in chunks, so it’s usually sliced paper thin. Then it pulls apart in strings if you tear it. In Holland we also have this made of beef or horse and it’s a nice thing to put on some bread, maybe with a bid of pesto or tapenade.

This version of smoked reindeer was in texture quite familiar, but not in flavor. The taste was very acidic, almost as if it was a little off. It actually was nice to just eat on its own without bread, but I don’t think I would have finished the package if I hadn’t been with friends and family to share it with.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Purple dragon fruit

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I’ve tried dragon fruit before, but always the white variety. There’s also a purple kind that I wanted to try out. I bought some purple dragon fruit and had it on its own as well as mixed in with some yogurt and muesli.

Besides the color there is no distinction between this one and the regular white variety. Both have a soft, yet firm texture, and are sweet and a little watery. If you like normal dragon fruit, then I’m sure you will like this one too. It did have the added bonus of turning my yogurt pink.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test 7

Purple potato wafer rolls

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Dutch people are raised on potatoes. It’s our staple food. Coming to China has opened me up to an even higher intake of potato. There are sweet potatoes, purple potatoes and many other tubers such as taro and yams.

I found a box of purple potato wafer rolls at the supermarket and wasn’t quite sure if it would be savory or sweet. It turns out to be a sweet crispy roll with a thing later of chocolate on the inside for an added creaminess. I couldn’t make out any potato in here. Instead it was just a regular wafer that looked a little purple. It tasted nice, but it could have been anything.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 7

Cold goose breast

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Looking for a place to have breakfast in Krakow, I ended up at chocolatier E. Wedel where you can buy everything chocolate. I had a breakfast set that included a really tasty cake with chocolate spread as well as some goose breast. That was great for me as I had never tried goose before.

The goose was served cold and sliced thickly with the rind still on. It looked a little like duck ham, though the meat itself was more like turkey in both texture and flavor. It had thick strands of meat just like chicken or turkey, and the flavor was quite mild. That would have been great with some herbs. I didn’t like the skin though, as the fat wasn’t rendered out.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7