Strawberry yogurt Oreo thins

 

Oreos come in all kinds of flavors and sizes these days. Some of my favorites are the extra thin ones. In my local supermarket they stock a few different flavored ones including strawberry yogurt ones. I do like strawberries and yogurt, so I assumed it was going to be good. The flavor, however, was very artificial and overly sweet. It didn’t taste of strawberries so much, but rather a children’s strawberry toothpaste. Still I do like my thin Oreos.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

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Truffle cheese

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Among the regular and the seemingly unusual types of cheese for sale at the various cheese shops in Amsterdam was a truffle flavored Gouda. I’m a sucker for anything truffle, so naturally I gravitated towards this one. Luckily I got to keep my money as there were a few pieces laid out to taste.

I honestly don’t think that any actual truffle was used in the making of this cheese. Perhaps it was flavored with truffle oil which doesn’t actually contain any truffle. It was still tasty though. You could definitely taste the truffle, which is always nice, but didn’t exactly blow me away either.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Chinese savory cakes

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I found these weird looking little boxes at the supermarket containing all kinds of strange candies. There were five flavors: green beans, osmanthus flower, chestnut, water chestnut and taro. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so I decided to select a sample of all five. I wanted to get the worst one out of the way first, and went with the green beans.

I was in for a surprise and in for a shock. What I put in my mouth was as strange as an everlasting gobstopper by Willy Wonka. Out of the package came a small block that turned to powder as soon as I bit into it. The powder then turned into a paste on contact with my saliva. From solid to powder to liquid in a manner of seconds. It was unusual to say the least.

I did not like the flavor of the green bean one at all, and just about spat it out. Most of the other ones were not as bad, because they had a sweet hint besides being savory. However, that savory note was still there, and the textures were simply not enjoyable for me.

Fear Factor 2 – Taste Test – 3

Pesto cheese

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The Dutch love their cheese. I said before in another review that if you cut me open I bleed Gouda. Though that might not be exactly accurate, us Dutchies sure do eat a lot of it, breakfast lunch and sometimes even dinner. Growing up most cheeses were plain, with a few exception such as cumin and chives flavored cheese. These days more and more gimmicky flavors have popped up. Some of them make it to the supermarket, but as us Dutch like our cheese fine the way they are, many of the more unusual kinds show up mainly in tourist shops.

That’s exactly where I went one summer day in Amsterdam to sample some of these cheeses. They often put out some cubes of cheese to sample a selection. Today’s offering included a green colored pesto cheese. Now there’s something nice for St. Patrick’s Day. I took a bite. Well, ok, I took a few bites, and found that there was definitely an added flavor, but not so much of a pesto one for me. I think it was mostly basil that was used in this cheese, as that was the predominant flavor. Not bad, but I still prefer my tradition aged Gouda.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Mooncakes

 

IMG_7730Mooncakes come around in China once a year to celebrate the coming of autumn. During the Mid Autumn Festival people go out of their way to pick up a box of these beautifully decorated pastries with either a sweet or a savory filling. Traditional fillings include red bean bean, salted egg yolk, pork, rose petal and nuts.

I received a box of mixed mooncakes from my employer and was a bit hesitant, as I haven’t eaten many mooncakes that I actually like. Somehow I always end up with the savory ones. This time, however, I asked a friend to translate the ingredients, and kept the ones I felt were safe to eat.

The pastry itself was rich and crumbly like any buttery pastry in a Parisian shop. I tried a number of different fillings and thoroughly enjoyed some of them. A highlight was the snow pear, lily and wolfberry centered cake, which was sweet with a hint of freshness. I also loved the more modern ones such as the mango and coconut mooncakes. Unfortunately I also bit into a white bean moon cake, which was less desirable, bringing the overall score down to a seven. Better luck next year.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 7

Bernie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans

 

IMG_7732Being a big Harry Potter fan I was thrilled to visit the Wizarding World area of Universal Studios in Osaka. While I was there I not only got to try some butter beer, but I also purchased a box of Bernie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans to take back home. In the books, the students eat these jellybeans for fun as they contain all kinds of unusual flavors.

There were plenty of jellybeans in the box, so I got to taste some blind without knowing what flavor it was, as well as trying some of which I knew the flavor already. There were mostly normal flavors such as green apple, blueberry and cinnamon, but it’s all about the weird ones. I was astounded at how much those unusual flavors actually tasted like what it said on the box. The soap flavored jellybean actually tasted like soap. The dirt flavored one did indeed taste like dirt.

I actually really enjoyed some of these wild flavors. I would say that the earthworm black pepper, and soap ones were my favorites by far. As for the rotten egg and vomit ones. Well, let’s just say they didn’t taste great, but luckily they didn’t exactly taste like the real deal either.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 10

Half and half Oreos

imageOreos are a staple of American cuisine. They were always my favorite cookie as a teenager, and impossible to buy in Holland as a kid. I grew up with only one version: black and white. Oreo in China takes black and white to a whole new level with a half chocolate half vanilla filling. If you eat this cookie as a whole, you will taste a mild chocolate flavor similar to chocolate milk. It’s only when you release your inner kid and start playing with your cookie that you can see the difference, though it’s almost impossible to actually taste the difference.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Green tea scone

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My very last bite to eat in Japan was going to be breakfast at the airport in Osaka. After going through customs it turned out that there were really next to no choices. There was one Starbucks, and that was about it. I was determined to get at least something local, so I opted for a green tea scone, something I haven’t seen served anywhere else.

The matcha powder had turned the whole scone green, so I was worried it would be too overpowering. Even though there was definitely a strong savory note the flavor was not too strong. I think it was also counterbalanced by the big chunks of white chocolate that give this scone that little bit of sweetness it was crying out for.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 7

Lavender ricotta cake

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Dominique Ansel, the inventor of the Cronut, was recently voted best pastry chef in the world. He has a shop in New York, and two in Tokyo which is where I found myself glaring at all the beautiful cakes and pastries. There were cronuts, cakes floating in balloons, watermelon shaped cakes and oh so many more options to choose from. I had my cake and ate it too, and then bought another one to take home. One of the more durable cakes was a lavender ricotta cake.

Lavender is one of those ingredients that you have to be so precise with. Use just a hair too much and your cake will taste like potpourri. That’s why you don’t see so many lavender desserts at all. When I got back home to China it was time to dig in. I half expected a dry baked cake, but it was so incredibly soft and moist. It turned out to be a cheesecake after all, what with the ricotta and all. This definitely counts as the best cheesecake I have ever had as it was light as a feather – a difficult thing to pull of in a cheesecake. The lavender was there giving it an interesting floral note, but it was not overpowering. I’m going to New York in January, so I better find myself on Dominique’s doorstep.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 9

Vegetable juice donuts

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Mixing vegetable juice with fruit juice is nothing new. Health conscience consumers have been mixing their own blends of juices for a good while now. A vegetable juice donut on the other hand is not something I have come across before. Mr. Donut in Japan recently sold a limited edition of three mini donuts flavored with vegetable and fruit juice.

These so-called “veggie pops” came in three colors, each with its own set of ingredients. The red donut contains carrot, tomato and strawberry with strawberry being the stand out flavor that I picked up on. The orange donut contains pumpkin, carrot and apple. Here I could mostly taste apple juice. Finally, the green donut contains spinach and pineapple, but this one didn’t make a big impression on me. Interestingly enough I really did pick up the flavor of juice, and not simply the flavor of fruit.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 8