Saturday, August 19, 2017

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Several Goat Cheeses With Weird Things Stuck in Them

     I was wandering around the cheese section of my local Shop-Rite supermarket recently when I saw something strange:  small goat cheese "logs" which had dramatically odd colors, and, when I checked more closely, correspondingly odd flavors.  So I snapped up a selection of the weirdest ones I could find and gave them a try.  I ended up with one from Alouette Cheese, and two from Montchevre (Betin, Inc.).
    Just as a review, goat cheese has a few differences from the typical cheeses made from cow's milk.  For one thing, it doesn't melt in the same manner--instead it basically just softens when exposed to heat.  Also, due to the presence of more particular types of fatty acids, cheese made from goat's milk tends to have a more tart flavor.  Finally, while some goat cheeses are made with the usual rennet, it can also be made by adding lemon or vinegar to raw goat's milk, or by simply letting the milk naturally curdle, and then draining and pressing the resulting curds.  Goat cheese is popular around the world.  Some of the countries which particularly enjoy and produce it are Venezuela, the U.S., the U.K., Turkey, Australia, China, France, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, and of course, Greece.  For more info about goats in general, and their meat, consult my June 23, 2013 post.  And to read about a wonderfully bizarre Scandinavian goat cheese (one especially popular in Norway), gjetost, see the June 4, 2012 post.
    Alouette Cheese is an American brand of the French company Savencia Fromage & Dairy (nee Bongrain).  Jean-Noel Bongrain started Alouette in the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania in 1974, and then later expanded into Illinois as well.  The company proudly notes that almost all of their cheeses are kosher and gluten-free, and that they use no animal rennet.  They also are known for their soft spreadable cheeses, dips, brie, and crumbled cheeses.
     Montchevre (Betin) is also an American production started by French expats fairly recently.  Arnaud Solandt and Jean Rossard started it back in 1989. They make cheese only from goats, over 75 different kinds.  Alternate flavors of the 4 ounce (133 gram) "logs" I got are natural, garlic and herb, 4 peppers, honey, jalepeno, lemon zest, fig and olive, peppadew, pumpkin, truffle, and sundried tomato and basil.  The company's products are now non-GMO, too, if you care about this issue.
     Now I'll discuss the cheeses themselves.  All were the 4 ounce/133 gram "logs."

1) Alouette Chavrie mild goat cheese with sundried tomato, garlic, and parsley:  This looked whitish, with many red and green specks embedded in it, especially around the exterior.  I had it plain, sliced into pieces.  It was delicious.  Kind of tangy, and the tomatoes and garlic spice it up really well.  A superior flavor pairing.

2) Montchevre (Betin) goat cheese with blueberry and vanilla.  This one had a whitish center, with purplish/blue blueberries embedded around the edge.  It was sweet, obviously.  I easily detected the blueberries, but not the vanilla, really.  Kind of a strange taste, but still top notch.  In this case a sweet and savory taste is a winning combination.  I think this would make an excellent dessert cheese, if that's a thing.

3) Montchevre goat cheese with cranberry and cinnamon.  Once again, the center was a white color, while the outer edge was reddish from the cranberry chunks.  This time I could pick out both advertised flavors.  And again, the result was very good, and I loved it.  Some folks like to serve plates with cheese and fruit (grapes, etc.) on them, so I guess this and the blueberry kind just make this more efficient.  Another dessert cheese.

     So, yet again, I tried some new varieties of cheese and came away impressed.  Each of these logs were $3.99, meaning they weren't ridiculously expensive, or anything.  I will definitely buy these again, and wholeheartedly recommend them.  And hopefully I'll be able to locate some of the alternate flavors and products from both of these companies.  I'm particularly eager to pick up some "peppadew," because I'm not sure what flavor this is.  Peppers with honeydew melon?--I'll have to find out.




 






















Saturday, August 12, 2017

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Three Dutch Desserts, and an Aside About Monster Trucks, of All Things

     Today I'll be talking about two kinds of candy from Gustaf's, and a cookie made by Daelmans.  All of these came from Wegman's once more.
     Alas, I can't give even a brief background about Gustaf's, as I couldn't find anything online.  There were several sites which marketed their wares, but I didn't see an actual company website.  Therefore, all I can report is that aside from the Foamy Fruity Gummies and the Soft Licorice & Fruit that I ate, they also manufacture black and salted licorices, and candies in lace, sandwich, button, and filled straw shapes (I think these are probably licorice, too).
     Daelmans, fortunately, has a website and thus more info.  The company was begun in 1909 by Hermanus Daelmans, starting in the town of Vlijmen.  From this small beginning Daelmans has blossomed into a large, successful corporation which exports to at least 30 countries.  Aside from the Amsterdam short cake cookies I tried, their primary pastry categories are speculaas biscuits, coconut pastries, caramel waffles, puff pastries (turnovers and rolls), and filled pastries (with fruit, etc.).  Daelmans is quite the socially conscious company, too, as they are into various causes such as sustainable palm oil, sustainable agriculture (they're UTZ certified), and fair trade.
     On to the food itself. From Gustaf's, I had two Freeway-themed candies--the Monster Truck Foamy Fruity Gummies and the Double Decker Soft Licorice & Fruit.  The former were about 4 cm. by 2 cm. (about 1.5 inches by .75 inch) candies available in three flavors, shaped like monster trucks.  The latter were double decker bus-shaped, and about 2.5 cm. by 1 cm. (or about 1 inch by .5 inch), coming in six varieties.  I'll list each kind below.
      Monster Truck Foamy Fruit Gummies:
            1) Strawberry (pink truck body, with red tires): Okay, distinct strawberry flavor, just average.
            2) Banana and licorice (yellow body, with purple tires): Strange flavor pairing.  Didn't like, but then I'm not generally into banana flavors.
            3) Orange (orange body, with orange tires): Alright, orange-y in flavor, obviously.  Was the best of the bunch, but not great.
      For all of these the truck body parts were a taffy-like texture, and the tires were gummy-ish.

     Double Decker Duos Soft Licorice & Fruit:
           1) Raspberry (red color): Reminded me of Twizzlers in texture.  Strong raspberry flavor, very good.
           2) Orange (orange color): Also decent, but not as flavorful or good as the raspberry.
           3) Apple (green color): Green apple flavor.  Not very good, but I don't particularly enjoy this flavor usually.
           4) Lemon (yellow): Rather "meh."  Just okay, not very memorable.
           5) Pineapple (white): This one was pretty tasty.  Above average.
           6) Black Currant (purple): Tart, and again very nice.  Probably my second favorite.
     All of these had the flavor color at the first third of so of the bus, while the back two thirds were black.  In order I liked the raspberry best, then black currant, then pineapple, orange, lemon, and apple.
     The Daelmans cookies were about 3 inches by 1 inch (about 7.5 cm. by 2.5 cm.), yellowish-brown, and in the shape of little buildings.  They had a sweet odor, and were fairly crunchy.  They weren't overly sweet, but still were tasty.  I would characterize them as a solid cookie.  I learned later that they came in 8 different shapes.  The website didn't mention if these are based on 8 different real buildings (and if so, which ones), or just 8 different building styles.  All the different shapes tasted the same, though.
     I'll end with some brief info about monster trucks.  Monster trucks, for the uninitiated, are pickup trucks with modified, larger suspensions and tires.  I was curious that Gustaf's chose this shape for their candy, as I thought that these trucks were mostly an American phenomenon.  Although they evidently did start in the U.S., other countries, including The Netherlands, apparently, have interest in them as well.  Also, there's controversy over whose truck was the first to drive over and crush other cars.  Jeff Dane's "King Kong" (aka "Bigger Foot") claims to have done it in the late 1970's.  The Dykman Brothers also claim to have been first, using their "Cyclops." as did the owners (unnamed) of "High Roller" (aka "Thunder Beast").  But the earliest verified video shows that Bob Chandler's "Bigfoot" was the first, in April of 1981.  Let the argument begin, I suppose.  Finally, the longest monster truck ever was 32 feet (9.8 meters) long, owned by Brad and Jen Campbell.  And my favorite monster truck name is probably the one which is less obvious and cliche macho, and instead is more honest and mockingly self-aware: "Blown Income," owned by Jeff Champ and Jared Vogle.
   












































Saturday, August 5, 2017

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--French Soft Drinks

     Normally my local grocery at home (Shop-Rite) isn't a great place to find foreign foods or drinks.  But this time it came through.  I was able to get a couple of beverages from Geyer Freres, from their Lorina line.  Specifically, their sparkling coconut lime and sparkling pomegranate flavors.
     The Lorina website notes that the company was developed by Victor Geyer, starting back in 1895.  They have a short company video, too.  The site also mentions that they're a "well kept secret."  Hopefully for their sake this refers to the products' secret recipes, and not their overall sales.  Not sure if more than two people know the recipes, as is the case with the American Coca-Cola.  Additionally, Lorina makes various modern popular claims, such as their products lack gluten, artificial colors and flavors, and high fructose corn syrup.  (Their sweetener is "pure crystal" sugar derived from sugar beets.)  There's also an unusual item about their containers.  It's "more than a bottle, a decorative item."  It's suggested that consumers use the empties as vases, or as water carafes.  I think this refers to the glass, metal flip top-equipped ones that are evidently sold in France.  The two I bought were plastic, with twist off, plastic caps.  Clearly one could reuse these plastic bottles to hold your flowers or drinking water, but I don't think they'd have the same panache.  Finally, it appears that the local French Lorina flavors are slightly different from their export ones.  They list pink lemonade, blood orange, pomegranate blueberry, Authentic French lemonade, lemon, strawberry, and coconut lime.  Plus citrus lemonade and French berry in their "prestige" sub-line.
     But on to my impressions.  Both bottles were 1.15 liters (38.3 ounces).  The coconut lime one does not contain any actual fruit juice, but does boast its water is from Vosges sandstone.  The drink's color was a cloudy whitish.  It had a weird taste.  I could pick up on the coconut tinge, as well as a citrus-y one.  It was a little off-putting at first, but it kind of grew on me.  So my eventual opinion was that it was alright, but not great.
     The sparkling pomegranate cam in the same size bottle, and had a red color, of course.  This one did have a little juice--a whole 2%.  This drink was pretty good.  Nicely tart.  I liked this one better than the coconut lime.  It was a solid soft drink.
     Therefore, neither beverage was bad or anything.  I might get the pomegranate one again. To be fair, I'm more familiar with, and enjoy the pomegranate flavor more than coconut.