Peaches & wine ice-cream

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At Fatamorgana, a chain of modernist gelato shops in Rome, one of the flavors on offer was a peach and wine combination. It sounded to me like these two would go together very well indeed, and so I didn’t hesitate to point out the beautifully salmon colored concoction to the vendor.

The gelato was so soft and smooth, it had an almost perfect texture. I could tell they had used fresh peaches to make this ice-cream. It was almost as if you were eating straight up peach puree. Harder to detect was the wine. In fact I couldn’t pick it out at all. Perhaps it had simply blended into the peach.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Fromage frais chips

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I think I’ve eaten my way through all the crazy flavors of potato chips in China, but there will always come a time to travel and therefore new opportunities for the potato chip aficionado. On a recent trip to Poland I bought a bag of fresh cheese flavored ones.

When I think of fromage frais or fresh cheese, I think of a creamy cheese that’s slightly acidic, perhaps with an additional touch of green herbs. Although I did find that these chips were different from their usual salted counterpart, I missed that tang and herbiness.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 5

Lemon cheesecake Oreo thins

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Besides different flavors of potato chips and pretzel sticks, we also have quite a few different Oreos here in China. One of the extra thin Oreos comes with a spread of lemon cheesecake filling. There was indeed a touch of creaminess that one associates with cheesecake, though that’s simply down to the filling being a cream. There was also a tartness that comes from the lemon. It did vaguely remind me of a lemon cheesecake, though it wasn’t exactly in your face.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Lion white

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As a fella who likes his chocolate, I certainly do like my candy bars. My favorites would be KitKat, Twix and Lion. Before I moved to China those three came only in their original form, besides the addition of KitKat Chunky. Coming back to Europe I found a Lion bar covered in white chocolate, which was something new to me.

The Lion bar was in texture exactly the same as the normal ones with a chewy caramel center and some crunchy puffed rice. The flavor was completely different though, as the white chocolate made the whole thing a little sweeter. I liked the flavors, and I think it worked well, though I still think regular chocolate is better.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 8

Cookie dough KitKat Chunky

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I’ve tried a couple of different KitKats from Japan before, but when I recently visited my home country of The Netherlands I found a special KitKat chunky with cookie dough. It seems to be bang on trend with cookie dough bars popping up all over the globe.

This KitKat had all the usual layers of crispy wafer and the chocolate coating, but the top part was a thick layer of some gooey substance that must be the cookie dough. The texture did remind me of cookie dough, be it slightly runny, but I didn’t get a big hit of cookie dough when it comes to taste. It was nice to eat, but not better than the original.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Black rice & rose ice-cream

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Italy is renowned for its gelato, a softer and smoother form of ice-cream. There are many old shops that have been making ice-cream for decades, but I decided to visit Fatamorgana, a modernist ice-cream parlor with some interesting flavors. The black rice & rose ice-cream definitely intrigued me, but on the picture it’s hidden beneath two other flavors.

The ice-cream was gray in color, due to the black rice, and had a lot of grains of rice running throughout it. The rice was cooked as the Italians love their pasta, al dente. It was therefore a bit tough and chewy, but that did give an interesting texture to the otherwise smooth gelato. I was worried that the rose flavor might be overpowering as is so often the case, but it was only there on the background. The black rice was the real star here.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 7

P.S. on the picture the ice-cream is covered by two different flavors of ice-cream which I will wrote about soon.

Schmaltz

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Schmaltz is the English term for a rendered animal fat that is used as a spread on bread. In Poland, where it’s called Smalec, it was offered to me as part of an appetizer platter at restaurant Starka in the old Jewish district of Kazimierz in Krakow.  I wasn’t that keen on trying as I usually cut the fat off all my meats, but when in Rome…

It was served on a slice of dark rye bread and topped with a slice of pickle. It had all the taste of fat that always makes any meat dish taste so delicious, but it didn’t have any of that chewy or fatty consistency that puts me off. The fat almost melted on your tongue as soon as it touched down. It also had some added seasonings to give it some extra flavor. I’m left contemplating whether or not to buy a jar of smalec to take back home.

Fear Factor – 8 / Taste Test – 9

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

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