Monday, November 30, 2015

This Week In Candy

Our friends at Fla-Ver sent us a whole bunch of candies, but I can't decide which ones I want to review.  Today I posted the first review (popcorn flavoured), but I think I'm going to do at least one more. Instead of me choosing which "Fla-Ver" to review, I'm going to leave it up to you guys. At least you guys on Periscope.  Over the next few days I'm going to go onto Periscope (at random times) and ask you guys which candy I should review.  You can vote by leaving me a comment on Periscope, and the "Fla-Ver" with the most comments will be the one I review.  This is going to be technically our first installments of our new Periscope series called "VS".

With the new Star Wars movie coming out later in December, it got me thinking about Star Wars candy.  With the inspiration of a few friends, I've come up with a few Star Wars treats that I'd like to see.  We'll be posting more about that later this week, along with a couple of doodles.  Candy makers take note.

This week I'm also going to record a few episodes of our new podcast Junk Fud, coming out in January.  I've learned that having a few under your belt is a good idea. I'm still trying to work out all of the details, so if you have any suggestions for a podcast topic, let me know.  I'm also looking for guests for the podcast as well, if you think you'd make a good guest, send me an e-mail.

This week on Snack Facts, our Instagram feed, we're looking at a classic holiday treat, the Terry's Chocolate Orange.  Every day this week we'll post a fun fact about this spherical chocolate treat.  As a bonus fact for you, Terry's Chocolate Orange is going to be our official Christmas candy review this year on  Make sure to check our Instagram feed every day, if you don't use Instagram, that's OK too, you can follow Snack Facts on our Twitter feed and Facebook page as well.

As you've read above, we picked one of the 5 flavours of Fla-Ver candies to review.  Today we're posting the popcorn flavoured candy review.  It was pretty fascinating, and it made me think a bit about other popcorn flavoured treats I've tried in the past as well.  Click here to read this first Fla-Ver candy review.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Candy In The Media

Can you say "red lorry, yellow lorry" several times with a lollipop in your mouth.  The folks at Harry Bow decided to find out if anybody could pull it off.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

This Week In Candy

This week's, This Week In Candy, is a little late.  I got caught up working on a few projects and suddenly it was much later in the day and I realized that I had yet to update Candy Critic. So I am here to tell you all of the reasons I was so busy.  First of all I'm still working on that menu for a restaurant that I started a few weeks back.  It's been really fun, and I've learned so much about how restaurant kitchens work.  Hopefully the folks running this place see my vision and everything works out.  I've also been researching the first new solo show for our podcast, Junk Fud.  I hope to have a few different types of shows on the podcast, which I hope to have going at full steam in the new year.

I'm also working on a few blog articles that will be going online over the next few weeks.  If you've been keeping up with us on Twitter and Facebook, you'll see that I recently posted some photos from our next dessert club recipe, Apple Pie Pizza.  That post will be going up in December.  I'm also working on a post that looks at Star Wars themed candy that I'd like to see, which will be going online next week.

This week on Snack Facts, our Instagram feed, we're looking at Fanta.  Probably one of the most popular fizzy fruit drinks in the world, Fanta is truly a global beverage.  Make sure to check out our Instagram feed every day this week to learn a little something.  If you don't use Instagram, don't worry, you can also follow Snack Facts on our Twitter feed and Facebook page as well.

Our new review this week is one of the best cone shaped treats that I've ever reviewed. Sometimes the shape of a treat can really make a difference, it can be for the better or the worse.  So click here to check out our latest review.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tips for Food and Travel

A few weeks ago I did a talk about the food and travel writing I’ve done all over the world. During this speech I presented a list of travel and food writing tips. Unfortunately the talk wasn't recorded, but I thought I would share the written version here. I also think that this is something I'll probably ad to on a regular basis.

Tips for travel and food

It's very difficult to find a true local restaurant, local food is often something served at home, and when locals go out they often want something exotic.
The best local restaurants don't advertise authenticity, they just are.

Street food is the biggest food gamble, you either get the greatest meal ever or food poisoning.

Always visit food markets and grocery stores where you travel, this is truly where the locals eat.

With that in mind, try and cook for yourself when you travel, take the ingredients you find at the markets and make something.
Talk to people that sell food, waiters, cooks, and store owners.

Looking at other people's plates is a great way to decide what to eat at a restaurant, don't be afraid to ask questions. With that in mind, make sure to help others if they ask you about what you're eating.

Don't always go for the most expensive food items on a menu, it's a trap. Onions and potatoes fried together in oil are extremely cheap and it tastes fantastic.

Don't ignore subtle differences. Kit Kat bars taste remarkably different all over the world.

Just because it's pre-packaged doesn't mean it's not worth trying.
Salty and sweet work very well together

Don't judge foods till you’ve tasted them, but it's still OK not to like it.

Don't mess with oils. Leave them alone.

Keep a food journal.
Common foods for some are brand new for others. Just ask any British person about peanut butter, or anyone from the UAE about Almond Joy.

Culture and food are tied together and are guided by the environment. Look around you when you travel, you'll often find food everywhere, and look on your plate when you're eating, you'll often find clues about the environment you're in.

Art and food are the same thing.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Potter Candy Thing

I'm re-reading the Harry Potter series right now, and this would this would be the perfect accompanying snack.


Monday, November 16, 2015

This Week In Candy

Well the first of the three big holidays have past, and the second (at least for Americans) is on it's way, Thanksgiving.  I'm actually a big fan of Thanksgiving, and I'm glad that Americans and Canadians celebrate it at different times.  Mostly because this gives me the opportunity to celebrate it twice, my excuse being that my father lives in the US.  I really love turkey, and I also love the many desserts that come with Thanksgiving, pies, cakes, and such.  So this week, and next, we're going to be celebrating this most festive of holidays whose sole purpose is to lead up to a meal that will likely just make you regret having eaten it in the first place.

We're also continuing to work on the new projects here at  Last week we released the first installment of our dessert club, featuring my world famous banana bread.  Next we're looking at some holiday treats including gingerbread, and a turduckin version of a cake.  We're also looking at various was to make ice cream without an ice cream maker.  Make sure to keep up with our social media sites to see what we're making next, and play along if you'd like.

On a side note, but food related, I've been asked to do some graphic design/consulting work on a menu for a restaurant.  They want me to re-think the format as well as some of the food on a menu, something I've never done before, but always had an opinion.  I'll be posting about my progress on our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr), and I'll probably write a blog about the process when it's done.  So far it hasn't been an easy task, but it has been really fun.  Unfortunately the restaurant wants to remain anonymous, so the name will be blanked out.

This week on Snack Facts, our Instagram feed, we're going to post some early Thanksgiving facts for all of our American friends.  We're going to look at the history of this great holiday, and more particularly why we eat what we do on this day.  Make sure to check our Instagram feed daily this week, but if you don't use Instagram don't worry, we'll also post Snack facts on our Twitter feed and Facebook page as well.

This week's new review is a pretty interesting bar.  In the candy world this bar is fairly politically charged, as it's taking aim at what some consider unhealthy candy.  My opinions on the matter are simple, I love all candy, so I love the idea of stirring the pot a bit when it comes to new ideas.  Click here to read about this "trend" in candy bars.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Candy In The Media

Can you say that you love Nutella so much that you've written and produced and hip hop song with video all about it?


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Candy Critic Dessert Club – The First Recipe - Banana Bread

Welcome to the first of what we hope to be many installments of the Candy Critic Dessert Club. We hope to regularly post our experiences making various desserts from around the world. In some cases we may be making something we're familiar with, other times we'll make something brand new to us. Often we'll get creative with our desserts either out of necessity or because we're being "creative".  The rules for us are simple; we won't edit out our mistakes. Sometimes desserts won't work, and you'll hear all about it.
For our first recipe we’re going to be making banana bread.  I chose this banana bread recipe because it’s the one I’m known for right now.  When I get invite to a party, people often ask me to make this banana bread.  I’ve made it a million times before, so I’m pretty sure I’ll get it right.  I know that I’m going to mess up a lot of recipes in the future, so I figured that I should try and make Dessert Club entry right.

Here’s the ingredient list:

2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled
76 grams cup melted butter
1 cup of maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of walnuts
½ cup of chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter, and mash the bananas. Once the butter is melted, ad it to the mashed bananas.  Then ad the maple syrup/honey/brown sugar, if you want to be creative you can ad a mix of any one, two, or three of these three sugars.  After everything is all mixed up, ad the egg, vanilla and baking soda. Ad the pinch of salt I always have a problem when a recipe says pinch of salt, how much is that exactly?), and gradually mix in the flour.  Once it’s all mixed together, stir in the chocolate chips and the walnuts.
Put everything into a greased and floured baking pan, and bake for about an hour.  Check on it after about 45 minutes by sticking a toothpick in, if the toothpick comes out clean it’s ready.  If it’s not yet baked, return to the oven for 10 minutes and check again.  Once the toothpick comes out clean, let it cool for about 15 minutes, remove from pan slice and slather it with butter.

This is a seriously tasty and simple recipe.  The biggest difficulty is judging when it’s done.  I’ve often under and over cooked my banana bread but fortunately you have some wiggle room both directions. Slightly under-cooked bread is OK, and slightly over cooked banana bread has a slightly nutty flavour. This time I over cooked the bread a little, but it still worked out pretty well.
I have to admit; this was a pretty boring first attempt at a dessert club.  I’m sure my friends are going to love it because they now have my famous banana bread recipe, but risk wise I didn’t really do much at all.  I think next time I’m going to try something a little more daring.  I’ve never made ice cream before, and I don’t own an ice cream maker, that sounds like an idea.

Do you have a family recipe you'd like to share? Maybe an Internet dessert creation you've discovered. Even if you've heard of some kind of exotic dessert you think we should attempt. Send us a note, link, or scan, because we'd love to try it.

Whenever we try a new dessert recipe we'll post about it on our social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr), just in case you want to try it with us.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Monday, November 09, 2015

This Week In Candy

This past weekend our sister site had an art show opening.  The show had two themes, food and travel.  When it comes to food you had to know that candy was well represented.  An entire wall of the show was dedicated to gummy bears.  The show ends tonight, the reviews of the show have been very positive, and everybody is happy with the turn out.

This week we're starting off one of our many new projects, it's a dessert club.  Every so often we're going to post a blog with a recipe of one of our favorite desserts that we love to cook.  This week we're baking our famous banana bread.  We'll document the day of baking, even if it doesn't work out (as baking can sometimes).  We're hoping that you might have some recipe ideas we can try as well.  We're looking for fairly simple, but very tasty ideas.

This week on Snack Facts, our Instagram feed, we're going to have a bit of a mix of facts. No theme this week, just some random snack facts about all kinds of treats.  So check our Instagram feed every day this week and learn something new about the food you snack on. Don't use Instagram, don't worry, we'll also post Snack Facts on our Facebook page and Twitter feed as well.

Last week we posted a review-a-thon all about the snacks we found on our African adventure. This week's new review is a treat we picked up on our way home from the adventure, at the airport.  One of the interesting facts about this Toblerone bar is that you can only get it at the airport (and I mean it's available at almost every airport I've ever stepped foot into).  So next time you fly, you might want to pick one up. Click here to read the review.


Thursday, November 05, 2015

African Food Adventure

On this African adventure we visited primarily two countries South Africa and Botswana. We also made a quick stop in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and a fictional collaboration of these two countries known as ZimZam.  The basic plan of action was to quickly drive from Johannesburg to Botswana, and after a few days make our way to Victoria Falls at the Zimbabwe and Zambia border (ZimZam). Then take a few weeks to meander down to Cape Town and the Southern most point of Africa.

Food wise the plan was to figure out what kind of candy we could get, sample the local snacks, and in Allison's case taste as many wild games as possible.

I did what I always do when I visit someplace new, I instantly panicked, and within the first few days I visited as many stores as I could to try and get a vibe for the candy scene in Africa. The one thing that really struck me was the amount of chocolate bars available all over Southern Africa. It was surprising because this is a pretty hot place and a pretty hot season when we were visiting. Many warm countries don't sell many chocolate bars because they melt easily in their warm weather. Some countries even formulate special chocolate bars that don't melt as easily, but not Botswana or South Africa. They have a huge range of bars, often not kept in refrigerators, and made with high quality chocolate.  This did lead to a few messy chocolate bars disasters, in particular with the Tex bar that I had to re-buy because mine had melted beyond recognition.  Even the new one I purchased melted in the few seconds I set it down on the table to take out my camera and shoot a few photos.
After a day or two of panic shopping for African candy, I started to calm down and looked around much more casually. I discovered a few treats that were all over the place and I also came across a few really unique treats too, most notably the Monkey Gland Sauce Flavoured Potato Chips (you can read the review here). I also noticed that similar to other European colonized countries, brands like Cadbury and Nestle were in abundance and this included many of their standards. Fortunately there were also many original Cadbury and Nestle products as well. I also found a lot of licorice, which I imagine is due to the Dutch influence, but could also have something to do with the fact that licorice doesn’t melt.

The most surprising food that everyone seemed to go nuts over in all of the countries we visited was baked goods. All of the grocery stores had exceptional baked sections with a vast array of cakes and pastries. The most popular baked item seemed to be sliced bread, and there was an obsession with slicing it immediately.  Each and every store had at least one bread slicer, some as many as 5 or 6. My favourite baked product in Africa had to be the rusks. If you've only ever sampled European or North American rusks in your life, then you just don't know how good a rusk can be. The variety is fantastic as well, Sweet rusks, savoury rusks, all kinds of grains and fruits as well. In my mind however the buttermilk rusks can't be beat.

Allison's adventure on this journey was a little more meat focused, but maybe I'll let her explain:
"Canada is known for great game meat, and I enjoy some of the standards, like deer and moose, but have also sampled some more northern specialties like caribou, elk, and muskox.  In Botswana, some opportunities arose to enjoy some African game meat!  The first time, I had a choice between a few meats.  Impala is known as the "McDonald's of the savanna", as they are plentiful and many animals hunt them (and they also have a marking on their behinds that looks like an "M").  So I chose the impala, thinking, "If everything else eats them, why shouldn't I?"  In the following days, I also sampled kudu and eland.  I missed a chance to try giraffe stew - I was too late and it was all gone - but I was secretly happy to miss it, because with their long necks, interesting fur patterns, and slow graceful strides, they just seem too ... *nice*... to eat."

This was a great adventure both food and travel wise. Southern Africa is truly a beautiful place, and the food is fantastic. I'm sure I'll be back, if at the very least to pick up more rusks.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Monday, November 02, 2015

This Week In Candy

It generally takes about a week for me to get home, and get sorted after a trip.  This trip to Southern Africa was particularly epic, but I still managed to get everything sorted out and it's all ready to go.  What does that mean for you?  Well to start, we're having a review-a-thon, and as you might have guessed, it's going to be all African treats we picked up on this adventure.  You can read more about the first entry into this week's review-a-thon below.  We'll also be posting a special article looking back at our adventure, and some of the cool foods we sampled going up on Thursday.

So what else has happened on our epic trip, well I got to thinking. More importantly I got to thinking about some of the projects I've been promising but not executing.  I've decided to use the month of November as the launching/testing for new projects here at Candy Critic, to see what's going to work and what won't.  On our African adventure I decided that I'm going to start producing more material, in more mediums.  On deck are the following projects:

The podcast is coming back!  Junk Fud will start again in November with a few different formats.  We'll see what works and play it by ear from there.  We'll make sure to let you all know about the new episodes on our social media, as well as on this blog.

The Periscope  show is going to be going up later this month.  The show will be called VS, and will let you vote on your favorite candy.  It'll be the ultimate contest of snack vs snack, like WWE meets Food Network.

More blog articles.  I've been writing some long format blogs about travel, food, and candy, and I'm going to start sharing them on this blog.  Some will be looks back at past food travel adventures, others will be food travel tips, some still will look at snack history and news.

Candy in the Media, and Cool Candy Things will continue, but they'll be a lot less of me yammering about them and more room for you to just enjoy the strange things we find on the internet.  Every Wednesday we'll pick out a Cool Candy Thing for you to check out and every Friday we'll randomly post a candy video, or a link to a cool candy game or website.

Finally, there has been some thought about updating the format of  I'd love to do this, but frankly I don't have time to learn any new coding.  If anybody has any suggestions for upgrading the site, without me having to learn a brand new code, that would be great.

This week Snack Facts is back!!! We'll be coming to you with a new fact about a classic snack every day this week.  This week we're looking at one of the strangest candies every, cotton candy.  Sure it's a classic candy now, but cotton candy might be one of the first modern cuisine foods ever.  Every day this week we'll look at this strange treat and post a new fact on our Instagram feed.  Don't use Instagram, don't worry, we'll also post Snack Facts on our Facebook page and Twitter feed as well.

This week's new review was probably the most talked about snack that I picked up on my African adventure, Monkey Gland Sauce flavoured potato chips.  I can only assure you that no monkey was harmed in the making of these chips.  Click here to read the review of these very odd chips.