Coke orange

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If you follow my blog you’ll know that when it comes to drinking soda I’m a Coke guy all the way. They don’t often come out with new and exciting flavors though, at least not here in China. In Australia, however, I was lucky to find an orange flavored Coca Cola. As a kid I would often mix Cola with Fanta, so that was kind of what I thought I’d get. The taste was a little disappointing. Yes, you could taste some orange flavor in there, but it was a bit chemical, and I think the Coke and Fanta mix would beat this one any day.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

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Raspberry Pepsi Max

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I’ve only been in Australia for a couple of weeks, but I’m starting to believe that they must really love raspberries. I just wrote about raspberry Maltesers, their national pride the Lamington involves raspberry as well and now I found myself drinking Pepsi again as I found a raspberry flavored Pepsi Max.

I secretly don’t mind Pepsi Max. It tastes a lot better than regular Pepsi, that’s for sure. The raspberry variety however, not so much. The raspberry flavor was definitely there, but tasted really chemically induced like a can of Red Bull. That’s not a compliment by the way. The only drink worse than Pepsi is Red Bull.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 4

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

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

Sweetgale beer

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Myrica gale, also known as sweetgale, is a small flowering plant that you can find in Europa and North America. In Holland, however, it’s on the endangered plants list, and can’t be harvested freely. Once a year though, a very small number of breweries is allowed to take a limited amount of the leaves and catkins from the plants. These are then used, just like hop, to brew beer.

I ordered two bottles online to use in my multi course dinner of local produce. I used some of it to make a syrup for dessert, and I shared the rest with my father. I gave him a full bottle, and kept the opened bottle for myself as I’m not a big beer lover, but I almost wished I hadn’t. The sweetgale beer didn’t have that usual bitter flavor at all. It was a little sweet as well as a tad sour and reminded me of a Belgian gueuze beer. I’d be happy to have another one, even as a non-beer drinker.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 8

Asparagus liquor

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The other week I told you how white asparagus are a favorite of my the area I grew up in, Limburg. I had planned to dish up a big multi course dinner celebrating local produce and found an online shop with loads of ingredients that are locally sourced. Among those, I found a bottle of asparagus liquor. I had never heard of such a thing before, so naturally I bought it.

I served a glass of the asparagus liquor to all the dinner guests as an aperitif, and no one had heard of such a concoction before either. I was half expecting a savory drink, but actually it was quite sweet. I couldn’t really pick up on any asparagus, so my guess is this drink is not so much flavored with asparagus, but actually distilled from it like you distill vodka from potatoes. Then again I’m no scientist, perhaps they should have just put more in. It tasted quite good though no matter the process

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 7 .

Melted glacier water

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Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries I have visited. The landscape seems to change by the minute while driving. You’ll go from lava fields to ice fields within the hour. It’s difficult to pinpoint the most beautiful spot on Iceland, but a big contender has to be the glacier lagoon and the diamond beach. Here, big chunks of ice that fall off the nearby glacier slide off into the lagoon, onto the beach and end up in the ocean creating a spectacular sight.

I passed by some of these “rocks” and noticed they were melting in the sun. I decided there and then to have a try of some of nature’s purest waters. I did think a little about possible contamination, what with the blocks of ice sliding over the ground and all, but I figured I’m only here once. Besides I figured if the outer layer had already melted, the inner part couldn’t possibly be contaminated.

I held my empty soda bottle under a flowing stream and waited a couple of minutes for it to fill. I wasn’t expecting anything amazing, water if water after all, but it definitely was clear and refreshing. It pretty much tasted like water is supposed to taste, maybe even slightly better, without any additives we get in our tap water in Holland (I dare not drink tap water in China).

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 7

Starbucks beer

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On my recent visit to Shanghai, I happened to set foot in the biggest Starbucks in the world. It’s one of those so-called “reserve roaster” places where everything gets a fancy schmancy make-over. They roast their own coffee, have their own bakery and serve alcohol as well.

Now, I’m not a big beer lover, but curiosity got the better of me and so I ordered an “espresso cloud”. This was supposedly a pint of lager with citrus foam served with a citrus infused espresso shot. I poured the coffee into the beer and hey presto you have yourself a beer cocktail. I actually didn’t mind the taste of the beer so much in this one, but with the coffee in the mix it was all a bit too bitter for my liking. I also did not enjoy having large chunks of orange peel stuck in my teeth every other sip.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 6

 

Coca Cola clear

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It’s been a while since my last blog entry. I’m sorry about that, but I do have a good excuse. I was on holiday for the last two weeks. I visit my family in Holland, and went to Iceland where I got a lot of inspiration for my blog. Expect to see things such as whale steak, sheep’s head jelly and fermented shark in the coming weeks.

But first let me finish up on what I came across before my trip. At a FamilyMart in Shanghai, where they often sell Japanese products, I found a bottle of Coca Cola Clear. The name says it all. It’s Coca Cola that looks like normal water. Or at least that’s what I thought.

When I drank it I was expecting a regular cola flavor to wash over me, but instead I got a taste of lemonade. It reminded me much more of Sprite or 7-Up. Now I’m not sure if that’s really what it is, as I can’t read the label, or perhaps it’s my mind playing tricks on me. Either way it was a disappointment, that much IS clear.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 5