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August 29, 2007

I Want Candy!

So I’m still doing the chocolate bar of the week thing at work and it’s working out well. Last week’s bar was an old friend - the Dagoba New Moon bar - and I'm not going to revisit my review other than to say that I still absolutely love the thing. It’s a great bar for getting a little dark chocolate fix. But just because I'm not talking about the Dagoba doesn't mean I've got nothing to talk about. No, last week I got into the candy.

I went to the grocery store at lunch last week to get some cilantro for the rabbit and to look for some Razzberry M&M's for myself and while I didn't find the Razzberry I did find loads of Dark Chocolate Peanut M&M's and was more than happy to grab a bag for testing. When they first came out as part of the Star Wars "Join the Dark Side" promotion I fell completely in love with them. I wouldn't quite go so far as to call it an addiction, but I could sit and eat them for hours. So I have fond memories of them from their first time around and was pretty eager to try them again. And when I did, well, somehow they didn't stand up to my memory of what they were. I doubt they changed anything between then and now so it really must be that my tastes have changed. They just didn't strike me as having a good dark chocolate kick. There didn't seem to be enough separating them from normal Peanut M&M's. I don't know. Don't get me wrong - they are good - they just didn't knock my socks off (probably a good thing - I don't want to be addicted to any one type of chocolate). So, in the end, I can only really offer a 6.5 out of 10 to them. I like them, but they didn't change my life quite so much as they did during the Star Wars promo.

While I was at the store I spotted something else that came as a bit of a surprise to me. They had a huge box of Chocolate Pop Rocks! I wouldn't have expected them at the grocery as I'd never seen even normal Pop Rocks there before, but they had really quite a lot of them. As I'm eternally curious and easily won over by gimmicks I figured I would give them a try. What they are is normal (in theory) unflavored Pop Rocks with a coating of milk chocolate (the real stuff, complete with cocoa butter instead of some lesser vegetable fat). Because of the coating they don't start popping as quickly as the normal pop rocks do, but once the chocolate starts to melt they start to fire up pretty vigorously. The chocolate itself is not bad stuff, but nothing exceptional either. And you could taste the candy underneath the chocolate as well, which was a little strange. The general opinion among those I shared them with at the office was that they weren't bad, but not as good as normal Pop Rocks. One person said they reminded him of Vernors and Milk. Not a combination I have any experience with, but after hearing that comparison I was convinced I could spot a little Vernors in the aroma. They really weren't my cup of tea and nobody I talked to would be willing to pay money for them but at the same time they weren't bad and have a nice gimmick going for them. I'll call it a 5 out of 10.

Coming up I have the 3 Musketeers Mint bar. Is it as good as the normal one? Here’s a hint: NO!

August 19, 2007

The Not-So-Chocolate Life

It's kind of hard to write about chocolate when I'm not eating much of it. But there are things worth discussing here and there. I'm currently taking a bar of chocolate to work with me and eating a little after lunch each day. It means I'm getting some chocolate in me, but not a whole lot. This past week it's been the E. Guittard Quevedo bar I've been munching on and while it isn't as deep an experience as some of their other bars it is a great bar for snacking on. It's simple and good and doesn't do anything wrong. I've also snuck a Edy's Slow Churned Nestle Crunch Ice Cream Bar in (it's summer - ice cream is a necessity). It's nice and tasty and not too big a serving.

What I really want to try this week is the new Limited Edition Razzberry M&Ms (I'm really interested in seeing if they use real raspberry flavor). What I find interesting about it is that I usually see raspberry paired with dark chocolate and these are the normal milk chocolate M&Ms with raspberry flavor.

And while on the subject of M&Ms.... I'm used to the cartoony Red, Yellow, and Green M&Ms from the commercials. I'm used to the fact that an M&M only has eyebrows, not actual hair. And now there's all these M&Ms with hair running around on the commercials and it don't sit well with me. It just doesn't seem right. Looks wrong. Unnatural. It's probably just me, but I don't like it. Nope.

Ok, enough M&M angst.

The big news of the past week or two is that Campbell's is possibly looking to unload Godiva. It's going to be interesting to see who goes after them. I've seen all sorts of speculation flow through my inbox about who might and might not be interested. There have been mentions of Lindt, Nestle, Wrigley, and (of course) Hershey (who are turning into the Microsoft of chocolate - they're buying everybody). I kind of think that if the hints I've found on the internet are right and Godiva gets their chocolate from Barry Callebaut then that might be a really good fit if they can afford the expected $1Billion pricetag. It could be seen as a problem, though, as they would suddenly be in direct competition with other chocolatiers that they supply. Anyway, it should be interesting to see who wants to pony up the cash if Campbell's actually goes through with it.

One of the great things about getting newsfeeds about chocolate in my inbox is the great sounding recipes that show up (amidst all of the stupid chocolate cellphone news - so glad it's dying off) all the time. One of them that caught my eye recently was Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts over at Epicurious. I love banana bread and the only way I know to make it better is to add nuts and/or chocolate. Mmmm....

That's about all I have for now. I'm not sure what bar I'm eating this week, but if it isn't something I've previously covered I'll try and write up a review. Good night all!

August 9, 2007

Review: Charles Chocolates x 2

A while back I mentioned my Charles Chocolates Hazelnut and Candied Orange Peel bar and the horrible mishap that removed it from its box and rendered it a mystery bar. At the time I said I was looking to get my hands on another bar of theirs (Milk Chocolate With Caramelized Rice Krispies) before reviewing the first and now I have both and have eaten a good bit of each as well.

Both Bars: Charles Chocolates come wrapped in foil and further encased in a nice snug-fitting box. I really like box packaging for chocolate and these are nice boxes. They’re simple and attractive and protect the chocolaty goodness lurking within (the box managed to save one of my bars from a horrible spill of shower gel). Once you get past the wrap you find a somewhat unusual bar waiting for you. Most of the added goodies are lurking right at the top of the bar. It looks like the stuff goes into the mold before they pour the chocolate so there are places where there are divots among the crunchy bits where the chocolate never got to the bottom of the mold (top of the bar). It gives it a neat look. Different.

Hazelnut and Candied Orange Peel: The nuts and orange peel are resting on top of a nice chunky layer of 65% dark chocolate. And it’s good chocolate too. It’s creamy and really smooth. A very laid back dark chocolate and a very nice complement to the orange peel. The bite starts off with nuts and chocolate and blooms into orange and it all comes together quite nicely. It’s an excellent bar for snacking on and as such gets a solid 9 out of 10. This is one I’ll be getting more of in the future.

Milk Chocolate Caramelized Rice Krispie Bar: As the name implies this bar is milk chocolate, though there is a dark chocolate version available as well. I figured with the rice krispie action I would go for the milk chocolate variety. It just felt right. And it tasted right, too. I’m not the biggest fan of milk chocolate – most of my milk chocolate experience has been with the cheaper candy bar kind of chocolate and not the good stuff. This is good milk chocolate. The chocolate is creamy and the caramelized krispies have a nice rich flavor and they fit really well together. It’s not quite as good as the Hazelnut and Orange Peel, but still earns an 8 out of 10.

Now that I’ve gotten a taste I’m looking forward to trying some more of their chocolate. At some point I want to get my hands on their Tea Collection and their Orange Twigs. Both sound good. And of course they have a couple more bars I want to try (Ginger – which I love – and Mocha Java – which I might love). Getting to try new things like this is one of my favorite things about chocolate. There are so many things to taste and new ideas all the time.

August 5, 2007

Still Here + 2 Mini-Reviews

Yeah, it’s been a while since I last updated. I feel guilty and stuff. Sorry. I got sidetracked when my new nephew hit the scene and did some family stuff and on the tail end of that I ended up with more health problems. And life has been somewhat less than wonderful for a couple of weeks.

But somewhere in there I ate some chocolate. Not a lot, but I did eat a couple of things of note.

Elvis Reese’s Cup: Finally found some Elvis action at the grocery store while picking up some lunch. And it was good. The banana wasn’t too sweet and actually tasted like banana and not the fake banana you get in some candy either. It was good. Somewhat related to my all time favorite sandwich – the peanut butter, banana, and chocolate chip sammich (I was going to fry one up in honor of The King, but I’m not frying things right now or eating large amounts of peanut butter so It’s kinda indefinitely on hold). Such the perfect combination of flavors. Anyway, I’ll give the Elvis Reese’s Cup an 8 out of 10. It’s not fine fine chocolate or anything, but it’s top-notch snacky stuff. And I would not be at all surprised to see it return as a non-limited-edition. It’s too good to go away permanently.

Nestlé 100 Grand with Coconut: For some reason this showed up in the vending machine at work and I really couldn’t help myself. And you know what? I’m glad I couldn’t help myself. I love the normal 100 Grand and I love coconut so I figured this would be something fun. And it was pretty good. Not sure I like what it does to the texture of the original, but I like the addition of coconut to the taste. And I can’t help but think about Samoa Girl Scout Cookies, which are about the greatest thing in the universe (at least as far as cookies are concerned). Good stuff. Lets say…. 6.5 out of 10. It’s yummy, but not a religious experience.

I’m actually going to try and start posting again, but there may be more of a shift back to the early days of the blog where it will be more about news and recipes and new products than reviews. There will still be reviews, but probably not a ton or anything. I’m cutting back on chocolate intake. Not that it was all that much to begin with, but I’m cutting even the little bit I was eating back to just a tiny bit a day.

So, next up will be a review of the pair of bars I have from Charles Chocolates. They’re some good stuff.