Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Look At Finland - Part 2 Of Our European Adventure

 Finland is a place that has a strange connection with me. I actually have a lot of people in Finland that I consider friends. These aren't just friends I've made on the internet, these are people that I've met in the real world. I've always wondered why I have such a connection with Finnish people, but after visiting recently it's started to make sense.

I've never traveled anywhere in the world where I didn't enjoy at least one food item that they're well known for. Finland on the other hand gave me so much great food that I don't even know where to start. In fact I've written this introduction 5 times already because I just didn't know what to begin with.  I guess I'll  start with my introduction to Finnish treats, and it's a good one.
Fazer is a company that makes a lot of different food items. They make baked goods, candies, but they're most famous in my mind for their chocolate. The good news is that they're famous for their chocolate for good reason. I'd tasted Fazer chocolate before this trip, so when we decided to go to Finland, getting some Fazer chocolate was top on my list. What we discovered on this trip is that Fazer has so much to offer, and I could write a whole website dedicated to reviewing just Fazer products. It can vary from breads and candies, but it also includes some amazing baked goods and hand made chocolates sold at their cafes. Yes, Fazer has cafes in Finland.

Best of all, in Helsinki is "the” Fazer Cafe, the flagship store. It's also the  place where Karl Fazer started making his chocolates in Finland in 1891. The cafe does not disappoint, and if you're a fan of Fazer (and you should be) this is a place worth visiting.
While Fazer is a great thing to try in Finland, it's not the only thing. Allison being the carnivore that she is managed to try reindeer in many forms, including something called a reindeer snowball that's basically cheese and reindeer, two of her favourite things. Allison also fell in love with the breads in Finland (and the bread used in the reindeer snowball is the perfect example why). Bread is an interesting thing, many cultures have bread as being an important part of their food. Bread however isn't simple, so many cultures have their own take on bread, and Finland is no different. The "average" bread in Finland is a dense bread often filled with whole grains. These breads are generously slathered in butter and often eaten with cheese and meats.
The bread that blew me away though is something from the north, something called Karelian pasty. The best way to describe it is to say it looks like a squashed baked potato, but has the consistency of a very soft flat bread. They're often filled with a porridge (rice being my favourite), but it's what you put on top that blew my mind. Finnish egg salad may look typical, but the minute you bite into it you know it's a game changer. Rather than using mayonnaise as the bonding agent, people of Finland use butter. If you're keeping score, that's a lot of butter, but it works so well. It's super rich, but isn't as greasy as you'd think it would be. This is likely because of the properties of the Karelian pasty. They seem to work so perfectly together, and just thinking about it makes me crave just one more bite.

The final things I want to talk about when it comes to Finnish food is berries. This country is obsessed with berries, and they're very specific about what kind of berries they love. The obsession is all about wild berries, and there's a huge variety of berries to choose from. Growing in the forests of Finland are everything from wild raspberries, to the elusive cloudberry. The later is a treasure that when mixed with a special baked cheese can change the way you feel about berries all together. Apparently the location of cloudberries in the wild is such a closely guarded secret that it's only passed down from one generation to another. So if you want to pick your own cloudberries, you're going to need to marry a Finn.

While I say this about many of the places I visit, Finland is truly a great place for any foodie to visit. There is a huge variety of food to choose from, but best of all it makes you feel good. Everything they love to eat comes from home. Even when you buy it in the store, it feels like it was made at someone’s house. If you get the chance that I did, to eat at someone's home, you'll understand why this works. Finnish food is casual, but most importantly it's comfortable.


Monday, July 30, 2018

We Got S'more Candy To Review And A New Show

We'll start today off with our new review. It's for a packaged s'mores treat, and I spend most of the review wondering if it's at all possible to make a treat that actually matches the pure joy of real s'mores. It's a tough thing to re-create, but candy companies keep trying.

Click here to read how this candy stacks up to real s'mores.

Also this week we're premiering our new YouTube show called Chris's Monday Morning Breakfast Thoughts. A show were we take a look at what's happening this week on candycritic.org and within the candy world in general. Let us know what you think of the new show, and we also welcome suggestions for what we should eat for breakfast.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to find out what we're doing every day.

You can also follow us on Patreon to get early previews and exclusive videos, and why not follow us on Instagram as well, you won't regret it.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Candy In The Media - It Shouldn't Be Hard, But It Is

Most people look at cheesies (or Cheetos)as a simple snack, but actually they're very complicated, and almost impossible to make at home.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Look At Estonia - Part 1 Of Our European Adventure

Estonia was a bit of a surprise food wise. I wasn't expecting to not enjoy the food in Estonia, but I also wasn't expecting  to enjoy it so much either. I didn't expect to find a theme restaurant that worked so well, and I wasn't expecting to find one of the most creative chocolate shops either. I also wasn't expecting to learn so much about the areas food history.

The food history in Estonia (Tallinn in particular) is right on display. There are two areas of history that seem to be front and center in this town in general and with food. The oldest is the medieval period, and this is ever present when you're walking through the old town part of Tallinn. There are all kinds of restaurants and snacks available that help you get a sense of what it might have been like a long time ago in Tallinn. Most obvious are the many people selling nuts and snacks on the street in small carts, they really give you an old timey feel. There are also several restaurants around town that show off traditional cooking, however none pull it off as well as the Olde Hansa.
The Old Hansa appears at first to be more of a gimmick than a real restaurant, but it really does both so very well. While you can't deny that it's a little gimmick like to have all the staff pretend that it's the medieval period, there are so many other reasons why this restaurant's theme works. First of all the minimal lighting really sets the mood. Most of the light from the restaurant is candle light, and most of the visible decorations are traditional, even the utensils are traditional. The really unique thing about this restaurant though is the food, it's not modern food dressed up to look old. Apparently the restaurant's chefs spent time researching what would have been the traditional food at the time. They serve this food the way it may have been served, and really spent a lot of time perfecting these details. While I'm sure the hygiene is much better than it would have been, there was something about the flavour of the food that really put us in the mood.

After the medieval period, the most noted time in Estonia is the period when the country was occupied by the USSR. There are many areas of life that were greatly affected by the occupation of Estonia, and the food was no exception. One of the interesting stops to check out is the Hotel Viru. This functioning hotel used to house one of the most important spying areas of the KGB. It was one of the only hotels in the USSR to allow foreign guests, and not wanting to appear poor, it was one of the hubs of fine food in the area back then. The restaurants and bars were some of the finest in the entire USSR empire. There are stories of the cakes that were sold at this hotel being used as currency, and that three cakes could get you a sofa. Today, the grocery store in the mall at the base of the hotel still sells the same cakes.
Another place that really tells a story about the USSR period in Tallinn is the Chocolate Museum in Chocolala (a great candy store with a museum attached to it). This museum is a great place to learn all about the history of sweets in Estonia, and tells the story of this country before, during and after the occupation. There are great collections of old packages and lots of information about how this country's candy evolved and changed. Best of all this museum is housed in a great modern chocolate shop that has some pretty unique sweets to try. They're liberal with the samples, and if you can I recommend trying the chocolate covered reindeer moss (it's not that great, but it's really unique).
Estonia was a very surprising place for us.

When we were planning our trip, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find enough content to write about the food in this place. After the first day I knew that this wasn’t going to be a problem at all. You don’t often come across a city where the food history is so well preserved and presented.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

It's Time For A New Episode Of Junk Fud On The Road - Estonia

One of my favourite things is when we get to record an episode of Junk Fud On The Road, on the road. This episode was recorded on our last night in Tallinn, Estonia while we were sitting watching the sun at 11pm. It was a great trip and I think we found  some great food places while we were there.

Make sure to follow us on YouTube or SoundCloud to keep up with every episode of Junk Fud On The Road.

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Finally check out our Patreon page for a whole bunch of extra content every week.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I Don't Want A Natchosaurus...

...I need a Natchosaurus. I need it because it combines one of my favorite salty snacks with my favourite period in time in the earth's history.


Monday, July 23, 2018

It's A New Candy Review with a Bonus Announcement - Pocky "Grape Squeeze"

I'll start off with the new review, it's Pocky. It's actually my 13th Pocky review, which I think is pretty good. It's also not going to be my last Pocky review (I hope). As far as Pocky goes, this one was OK. It certainly wasn't the best Pocky I've ever tried, but it wasn't the worst either. It also wasn't an average Pocky either.

Click here to read our latest Pocky review.

As a bonus, this week we're previewing the opening for an upcoming video project we're working on. It'll be a weekly video show called "Chris's Monday Morning Breakfast Thoughts". In this show I'll give you guys the rundown of what we're going to be posting in the upcoming week, and maybe cover any interesting news stories that have been going around lately.  We're hoping to post it every Monday on our YouTube channel (but we'll probably post it here too).

If you want to keep up with all our new stuff, make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

You can also follow us on Patreon to get previews of all our new content before it goes online, as well as our new Friday exclusive Patreon show.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

We've Got A New Episode of Chris, Why Would You Eat That?!! - The Durian

In this episode Chris (and his two friends) taste what many consider to be the worst tasting fruit in the world, the durian. The surprise comes with the fact that not everybody hated it at all.

Click here to check out old episodes of Chris, Why Would You Eat That?!!

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all our cool video content.

Also, if you follow us on Patreon you can help us create new content too.


Monday, July 16, 2018

It's The Start Of A Review-A-Thon - Kiss

Over the last few months we've been trying a new format for Candy Critic, and frankly it's not really working out. So we're going back to our old format. That means each week you get two reviews, one on Monday and one on Thursday. This week however is an exception, this week we're giving you a whole bunch of reviews every day. These are reviews of treats we picked up on our last epic adventure through 5 European countries. Today we start with a treat from the country where we spent the most time, Finland. Shockingly it's not a Fazer product either.

Click here to find out about this mysterious candy that isn't a chocolate bar.

We're posting a bunch of reviews this week, so make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with them.

Also, we're going to be adding some new  video content to our YouTube channel, so make sure you're subscribed.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Candy In The Media - Whipped Cream In A Vacum

Sweet treats do amazing things when they're put into a vacuum, reason's I think we should put more snacks in space.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

I Want This - Mr Tea Cup

The amount that I want this cup can only be equal to the amount that Allison doesn't want me to have it. She's not being mean or anything, she just can't take my horrible Mr T impressions every time we have tea.


Monday, July 09, 2018

We're Back From Our Trip

It took a lot longer to get ourselves back on track, but here we are. This weekend we posted the first review from our trip, one that we're really excited about, the Ruby Cocoa Kit Kat bar. When I first read about this bar I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get my hands on one, but while we were in Europe I did, and I'm glad. I like innovations in the candy world, and this one is really unique.  I'm also  really happy that the first appearance of this chocolate for the mainstream candy audience is in one of my favourite bars.

Click here to find out what we thought about Ruby Cocoa.

Also, check out our Facebook and Twitter feeds to see what we were up to over our trip.

You can also follow us on Instagram to keep up with new reviews and our semi-regular snack facts.