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Guinness steak sauce

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If you read my blog regularly you might know that I don’t like beer all that much. The worst beer I’ve ever had has to be Guinness. It’s just way too bitter for me. When an Irish friend of mine visited his homestead he brought back with him a bottle of Guinness steak sauce for me. This made me somewhat hesitant to use, but I’m always in for an adventure and I like cooking so nothing was going to stop me from using it.

Funnily enough I’m also not a fan of steak, but I had found a different use for it. I decided to mix it in with some baked beans to make a breakfast burrito. That actually worked quite well because of the slight smokiness of the steak sauce. Trying the sauce on its own though was a whole different experience. That bitterness I associate with Guinness was there with a vengeance. I won’t be putting it on any steaks, but I’ll still be able to use it in cooking.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 6

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Lamington M&M’s

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Growing up as a kid in the 80’s, and even as a teenager in the 90’s there were only two kinds of M&M’s. The regular brown ones and the peanut centered yellow ones. As I hate peanuts that left me with no choice but to eat the plain ones. Not that I minded, of course, they are pretty great. Then they came out with M&M crunchy which were great, but that was about it in Holland. In America I recently discovered a few new ones such as caramel centered ones, but in China it’s still just plain, peanuts and crunch.

In one of the import supermarkets I visited I discovered a bag of lamington flavored  M&M’s which were obviously imported from Australia. A lamington is Australia’s national cake, usually with a raspberry jam filling and covered in chocolate and coconut shavings. It makes sense then that these M&M’s were a mixed bag of three different flavors. You guessed it, raspberry, chocolate and coconut. I could definitely taste the berry, albeit quite an artificial flavoring, but the coconut went straight by. Take a handful and you get the flavor of plain M&M’s really. An interesting idea, but a lack of flavor.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Bitter melon

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There are lots of different fruits and vegetables around in China that would go very well on my blog, but none sounds as unappetizing as the so-called bitter melon. The bitter melon, in the same family as cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini, comes originally from India, but is now found all over Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. It is shaped like a cucumber, but with lots of bumps all over the skin almost as if it has some kind of disease. Now that sounds promising.

I had never tried it, because it just doesn’t sound appealing, but not so long ago it appeared on the buffet line of the teacher’s cafeteria at my school and I had no reason not to try. It was served cold as a salad and cut into strips. It appears only the skin was used, so I’m not sure if these guys are hollow or not. I’ve eaten some terrible things such as whale bacon and of course durian, but I never expected a vegetable to rank among the worst things I have eaten. Now, I know better. I took one bite and a massive wave of bitterness washed over me – hence the name of course. I spat it right out and didn’t even bother giving it a second chance, good for you or not.

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 1

Honeycomb Maltesers

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I have written a lot about KitKats, but that’s not actually my favorite chocolate candy. That honor goes to Maltesers. I just love the malty crunch with the chocolate coating. Though Maltesers nowadays has many other products such as chocolate spread, ice-cream and Easter bunnies they don’t generally change their flavors except for maybe using dark or white chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Maltesers are just that amazing that they can’t be improved on.

That’s why I was quite surprised to find a honeycomb Malteser on a recent trip to Hong Kong. Instead of the malt filling, these ones had a crunchy honeycomb filling. I’m talking about the sugar mixed with baking soda kind, not the honeycomb that’s made by bees. I tried a handful and thought they were really quite nice. It still has that crunch of regular Maltesers, but these ones have more of a caramel flavor. Yes, they were really good, but I still don’t think anything can beat the originals.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 8

Chunky choc fudge KitKat

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I keep saying I’ll only post one more KitKat, and then I keep finding new and unusual flavors. This time around it was a so-called choc fudge sundae flavored KitKat chunky. With that name you expect to taste chocolate, of course, as well as gooey fudge and maybe some vanilla or ice-cream. What I got was a KitKat chunky with some kind of indistinguishable sweet mush inside. It could have been labeled dulce de leche or vanilla milkshake for all I know. Not one for the books. These KitKats chunkies are starting to disappoint. The Japanese ones are so much better and interesting.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 5

Yam yogurt

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I often have a bit of fruit with some yogurt and muesli for lunch, though I’ve never had it mixed with vegetables before. Which is why I was a bit surprised to see a blueberry and yam yogurt in the shops. When I say yam, I am referring to Chinese yams, which are root vegetables that are similar in taste and texture to a potato. I couldn’t see how that would work in yogurt, but I was willing to give it a try.

I think the yam might have been grated in raw, or finely diced, as I would pick up a texture of raw apple every once and a while. There was no discerning flavor to it though, which made the whole experience rather normal. If it hadn’t been for the odd crunchy bit I would never have known there was any yam in it at all.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 7

Wasabi Chocolate

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I have a bit of a love hate relationship with wasabi, but I do have a love love relationship with chocolate, so when Dove recently released a range of chocolates with unusual fillings I was both looking forward to and dreading the wasabi chocolate at the same time. This time around Dove went for individual chocolates instead of a bar.

I’ve had a few instances where I took too much wasabi and it blew my head off, which is why I usually don’t bother putting any on my sushi, let alone my chocolates, but I threw caution in the wind and had a go anyway. It turns out bitter chocolate and sharp wasabi is a great combination, just like the chili chocolate from Mexico. You could taste the wasabi, and it did carry a punch, but not exactly a sharp right hook. Not only was the heat level bearable, I actually rather enjoyed this flavor combination.

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 8

Cucamelons

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mde

One thing I like writing about are fruits and vegetables that I had never tried before. Whenever I’m traveling I always swing by the supermarket to see if I can find something unusual. It was in Shanghai, at an import supermarket, that I found a whole array of fruits and vegetables including some tiny looking watermelons. It turns out that they weren’t watermelons at all, but cucamelons.

Cucamelons are much more like cucumbers than watermelons, even though they look like that. They are the size of grapes and inside you’ll find a greenish watery flesh with seeds much like a cucumber. It is no surprise then that they pretty much tasted like that as well, though they were juicier. Now I don’t like cucumbers, but I do like pickles so I decided to pickle some. I served them alongside some homemade gravadlax and cream cheese with some freshly grated wasabi, which all worked very well together.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 5

Peach Coke

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I am a Coke addict. I’ve said this a few times on my blog already and I’m not ashamed of it. Better than Pepsi that’s for sure. Unfortunately Coca Cola doesn’t create new flavors and different kinds of Cola nearly as often as their red, white and blue competitor does. Sometimes though, you’ll come across an interesting bottle and 9 out of 10 times that bottle is from Japan. This was also the case when I found a peach flavored Coke in the supermarket.

That may sound like a dream come true for a Coke addict, but usually those limited edition Coca Cola creations aren’t all that good. We can count Peach Coke among that list. It did taste of peach somewhat, but it didn’t really have much of a Coke flavor. This was more of a poorly crafted lemonade. Better luck next time.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 5

Iceland moss

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I had a lot of unusual food in Iceland, from sheep’s head jelly to fermented shark, but perhaps the most unusual was something I bought at the airport to take home as a souvenir – Iceland moss. It looks exactly as it sounds, like moss. However, the name is a bit of a misnomer, as this stuff is not actually moss. It is in fact a lichen, which belongs to the family of fungi.

In Iceland it is most often used to brew tea as people contribute medicinal properties to it. It is supposed to suppress coughing and help beat a cold, however this has never been proven. People have also used it in other forms of cooking such as in bread or porridge, but I simply used it to brew tea as I couldn’t find any recipes.

In many ways it definitely worked as a tea replacement as the water turned greenish brown and did take on a big flavor. Unfortunately said flavor was very bitter. You would need to add quite an amount of sugar to make it more palatable. I didn’t dislike it though. You could drink it without sugar, which is what I did. I had it on a day that I was running a cold and a fever, and I did feel a lot better the next day. That could just be a coincidence though. Or is it?

Fear Factor 4 – Taste Test – 6