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May 2009
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May
08



Starburst Sour Sweet Package

This twist of the Starburst was complete news to me when I saw it on the shelf in the store. A Sour & Sweet mix? Where did this come from? Poking around on the Starburst website, I noticed that they’re now listed under the “Sour” tab. It looks like these are the new replacement of the pre-existing Sour variety. I can’t see a reason for this, but then again I’m not a product developer or am analyzing sales figures. It just seems like it’s a change that’s more of a gimmick than anything.

The package is attractive with a nice red/green color scheme going on. The flavors are listed with nice illustrations on the side showing each of the fruits. I always chuckle at the image of the blue raspberry. The whole idea of this mix is that half of the flavors are sweet and the other sour. I found myself checking the flavors again because they don’t specify which are the sour ones and which are the sweet ones. Each flavor could be either in my opinion, and I’m not sure how I feel about not knowing which is which before actually eating them.

 

Starburst Sour Sweet II

Sweet Strawberry (maroon): The chew itself is light pink, like cotton candy. It smells fruity, plastic and medicinal. It’s comes across as very odd to me. The flavor is fruity, jammy and red strawberry. It’s a little floral and has a subtle tart edge to it.

Sweet Blue Raspberry: This chew is bright neon blue. Kinda scary! It smells sour and not much else, it’s very odd. Isn’t this supposed to be sweet flavor? The flavor is immediately zesty and not berry-like at all, at least not at first. It tastes like a zesty lemonade at the start, then the flavor mellows and becomes more berry. I’m reminded of pink lemonade.

Sour Apple (green): The color is light celedon green. This one smells very faintly of fake apple. Taking a bite, and whoo! This baby is really tart! My saliva glads really kicked into gear with this one. It’s tastes intensely of that artificial green apple. Jolly Rancher’s look out.

Sour Watermelon (pink): Light pink in color, practically identical to the strawberry flavor. It smells of that standard fake watermelon flavor with notes of raspberries, cantaloupe, and some flowers. Again, the taste is really juicy and sour. The flavor has a little sweetness to it, but I do taste more sour. Maybe that’s what the name is getting at? Each flavor is a bit of both?

So it’s hard to say what I think of these. I’m a big fan of the traditional Starburst, and sometimes I’ll opt for the Baja California and Tropical flavors. I never really went for the Sour ones though, so as much as I’d like to say I’d miss them, I really don’t. This roll is tasty, but not tasty enough to get me to stray from my favorites.


Rating: Might Eat Again

 

Might Eat Again

Links Starburst Website


May
07



Mast Brothers Chocolate Bars

My sister over in Queens is always telling me of these cool fellows she sees when she visits one of the many flea markets in Brooklyn. When she mentioned that one of them was Mast Brothers, my interest was immediately piqued and did my best to accompany her on one of her trips as soon as I could. I’ve heard of Mast Brothers before, and to be fair I had acquired these bars and had tasted them this past November. At the time there was only whispers about Mast Brothers on the internet, as they sold exclusively in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the time. As of now they’re found in select shops in the Five Boroughs with no online sales yet.

In recent months they’ve gotten lots of attention, one of the most notable was a write up in the New York Times. The Mast Brothers started from humble beginnings that they remind faithful to. They’re New York City’s only bean to bar chocolate maker, with each bar hand crafted by Rick and Michael using cacao beans acquired from small family coops. Needless to say, their ideas and processes are certainly heartfelt and full of quality.

When I was at their table at the flea market. I was immediately torn between the selections. Firstly, they have a lot to offer, and it was difficult deciding on which to try to get a good idea of their range and flavors. The other factor is the packaging. It’s simply gorgeous. I felt the pull to try a bar that I wasn’t as interested in, tasting wise, because the paper that it was wrapped in was just too beautiful. That’s a good problem to pose to your customers.

I finally narrowed it down to three bars:

70% Dominican: Dark in color with a nice gloss and red undertones. The snap is hard and the break is clean with only intermittent air bubbles. I can tell there’s lots of cocoa butter here, as it melts easily under my fingers as I hold up a piece to examine. The bar smells very fruity: berries, tart cherries, cranberries, coffee, cocoa, vanilla, coconut. It breaks nicely when bitten into. The flavor starts off cool and dry with light cocoa notes, then blooms with a tartness of red berries and coffee. Those tastes linger and fade away to leave a somewhat tannic flavor of cocoa powder and cream. The aftertaste is extremely clean. Love it.

80% Fleur De Sel:  This bar’s color is deep, dark brown with blue/gray undertones and a subtle sheen. The snap is hard with a nice solid break. The bar smells strongly of cocoa, coffee, caramel, and strawberries and coconut. The flavor is dry at first, but quickly opens to light flavors of cocoa, red fruits, coconut, and green coffee. I’m pleased as this chocolate is quite mild, especially for an 80%. There are only a few slight dry/tannic notes at the finish. Thankfully it’s not sour at all. The salt is barely noticeable, as I taste them more as grit in the bar. If I really pay attention, I do notice a little saltiness, but it’s not terribly noteworthy. A great bar.

60% Salt and Pepper: A nice medium brown color with only a very light gloss. There’s flecks of pepper and salt easily visible in the bar’s backside, and it’s really beautiful. The chocolate smells lightly of chocolate (of course!) with notes of berries and coffee. The bite is soft and the chocolate is very creamy and smooth. You notice the light saltiness right away, and it really compliments the milky, caramel flavors of the chocolate. The pepper shows later, about halfway through the flavor. It tastes sharp and floral, but not overly so, it makes a great, spicy addition to the chocolate. Again, I love this, as it’s unique and very tasty.

Needless to say. I’m impressed. I’m floored. This is some unique and tasty chocolate and I can’t wait to get my hands on more.

Rating: Hoard

Links Mast Brother’s Website


May
06



Wazoo Bars

I found the Wazoo bars totally by accident. I was in the dreaded Wal-Mart, a place I try to be in as infrequently as possible, and was giving the candy shelves by the checkouts a quick once-over. My eyes immediately landed on this freakishly bright packaging on the very bottom shelf. I almost passed over it, as it read as a toy or novelty of some sort at first. I could help but laugh once I had the bars in hand, as they’re so colorful and punchy, but in a way that’s more scary than attractive. Still, they appealed to me somehow, and I took a few home. I could help but wonder what wonderful chemicals I was going to ingest when trying these new flamboyant bars out. Sometimes I gotta take one for the team.

Literally the day after I made my purchase, Cybele reviewed the Blue Razz bar, so I was pleased to know I wasn’t the only one stumbling across these crazy new candy bars. I’ve held back on giving this review in hopes of more information hitting the internet about these bars. Recently a website and commercials started to appear on YouTube.

Ok, on with the description. Wazoo bars are the standard rectangular shape, and aren’t as heavy and they appear. They have, from the illustration on the package, two colored layers of nougat on the inside, covered in a colorful mockolate coating and topped with sprinkles. The website calls the insides “taffy” and the sprinkles “nuggets”, but it seems to be the case of different semantics.

 

Wazoo Blue Razz

Blue Razz: This is the bright blue one, and it looks alien to me. The sprinkles/nuggets on top are like Nerds, but round and not all bumpy. Their colors are pink, yellow and blue and match the coating nicely (what can I say, I’m an artist, I appreciate these thing!). The bar smells so strongly of raspberries, berries, perfume and cotton candy. It’s quite overpowering.

Taking a bite, the bright blue bar has inside that’s bright pink on top and bright deep blue on the bottom. It’s breathtaking, but not in the way I’d consider a food.

The flavor is immediately fruity with flavors of blue raspberry with a taste zest to it. It has a yogurt-like quality to it. The nougat/taffy interior is smooth with a bit of grain. The taste is a nice mix of sweet and tart with a creamy note. If creamsicles came in a raspberry version, it’d taste like this I’d imagine.

The sprinkles have a sharp burst of flavor to them which I was surprised by, since usually sprinkles are usually flavorless.

As awful as it may be to say, I…like it.

 

Wazoo Wild Berriez

Wild Berriez: light purple outside, red, pink, blue yellow sprinkles. I thought the other one smelled strong, this one is so much more pungent. Wow! It smells of grape soda, cotton candy and kool aid. It’s a tasty, 100% artificial smell, like I’d image some icky popular celebrities might smell.

The inside has two layers like the Blue Razz, with a yellow bottom and pink top. Again, the sprinkles are flavored, some tasted of grape and other were just sweet.

The flavor is milder than expected, especially since the smell was so strong. This bar is more sweet and less tart than the Blue Rass. It actually tastes, more…authentic. Can I even use that word describing something with this color?  The first taste is of sweet strawberries, then blueberries (real ones!) and blackberries. Sweet, juicy and floral. The texture is that nice chewy smooth nougat, and even after trying this bar, I’m unsure if I’d call this taffy. 

Ok, so aside from all the visual warnings that these bars give with their fake, garish colors. The flavors are actually pretty fun. I don’t think it’s something I’d buy with any regularity out of fear of turning my insides strange colors. If you’re the kind of person who always enjoyed those oddly-colored yogurts, or Green Eggs and Ham, well, these bars are worth a shot.


Rating: Will Eat Again

 

Will Eat Again

Links Wazoo Website


May
05



Mercado Chocolate Loco

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

I have to admit that Mexican candy isn’t something I’m terribly familiar with, so I’ve always been very curious about them. I was given the opportunity to try some back last July when I went to Mercado Chocolate Loco with Cybele at Universal City Walk in Los Angeles. Inside the store was filled to the brim with candy and souvenirs, a majority of them from Mexico. There were large barrels filled with loose pieces that I paws through, looking for as many different kinds to try. I found many standard varieties: tamarind hard candy, chili powder, sour watermelon candy, and dulce de la lech lollipops just to name a few.

What ended up being the treasure of my time in the Mercado was what was sitting in a beautiful glass display case in the back of the store. In there was the real authentic stuff. Blocks of solid dulce de la leche, balls of tamarind pulp, candied root vegetables and citrus fruits. I wish I could remember everything in the display, but it’s sadly been so long. I do remember being quite transfixed with all the options and just stood there drooling at all the delicious possibilities.

I ended up limiting myself to four pieces:

 

Tamarind & Dulce de la leche

Ducle De La Leche: It came in a rectangular log, with a nice light creamy brown color. The flavor is very rich ad sweet: notes of caramel, cream and sugar and a yogurty tang. The texture is so smooth, dense and rich with no hint of grain at all. I’m reminded of a really good penuche fudge.

Tamarind Ball: Just a ball of tamarind paste with granulated sugar. At a quick glance, it looks like a large doughnut ball. The texture is moist, dense and chewy with a grain from the sugar. It’s like eating cookie dough that isn’t finished yet. The flavor is awesome: it tastes of tart raisins and develops this steady sourness that I can only relate to Sour Patch Kids. It’s a sharp sourness, but it’s not to strong so it’s easily handled, and has notes of lemons and tart cherries. It’s lovely, I really like it.

 

Candied Sweet Potato & Pumpkin

Sweet Potato: Texture is soft with bits of crunch on the edges where the sugar has crystallized. It tastes of Thanksgiving: sweet potato with that roasted starchy flavor with a lot of sweetness to it.

Candied Pumpkin: Yellower in color than the sweet potato. I looked forward to this one the most as I am a pumpkin fiend! The texture of this is much softer and more wet, and has the same crunchy sugar edges which are a little harder. The flavor doesn’t remind me of pumpkin at all, but more of dried papaya with strong fruity notes and slight juiciness.

I was impressed. It just goes to show that unusual and simple are a tasty combination. I only wish I had a place around me here in New Jersey where I could continue to sample more Mexican confectionery. If you are just as interested as I am, I recommend reading this post on Mexican candy from Malena at the Candy From Strangers blog. Drool!

Rating: Will Buy Again

 

Will Buy Again

 


May
04



See's Awesome Walnut Square Bar Package

Since I had the amazing luck to find myself in a See’s store, I couldn’t help but buy as many of their items as I could. I knew they carried bars along with their lollipops and boxes, but I had never laid my eyes upon the Awesome Walnut Square Bar until then. Pleased to know there was more single-serve bars for me to purchase (I already had it out for the Awesome Nut & Chew and the Awesome Peanut Brittle bars), I tossed a few into my shopping cart. I didn’t know when I’d see them in a store again, and I didn’t want to take any chances.

The bar itself is a square, unlike most standard candy bars that are usually rectangular. I think Walnut Square and Chunky should go out on a date.

Unwrapped the bar is beautiful, with the glossy chocolate coating slightly rippled like wind-blown sand. I tried to break off a piece for a photo only to find that’s it’s very pliable and dense. Smells very sweet and of the chocolate coating.

The texture is very thick and dense, like a slab of ultra chewy caramel, which is mainly what this is made up of. You taste the caramel right away: mild and buttery with a touch of salt.  It’s so good that you hardly notice the chocolate at all. Then there’s the walnuts which are really the star of this bar (hence the name!). The chucks are a good size, and you taste their nutty and sweet flavors immediately. The chewy caramel paired with the soft but slightly crunchy nuts gives an incredible textural sensation and chew in the mouth.

Even though this is a combination I don’t really crave or specifically look for, I really enjoyed it. It’s a nice quality unique piece of candy. If you’re a walnut lover, you need to get your hands on this.

Rating: Will Eat Again

 

Will Eat Again

Links Sees Website


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