Monday, October 01, 2007
Recently, there was a special fair at a department store in Osaka that featured products from Spain. I love these events because you can usually get a "taste" of the area--they usually gather the most popular foods, beverages and culture items. Of course, I went especially for the chocolates. There was Oriol Balaguer. He has a shop in Tokyo, but since I didn't get a chance to check it out last year when I went on my foodie adventure, I figured it was a good chance to pick up some of his chocolates. This is the Collection No. 4 (from left to right)--apricot, orange, raspberry, passion fruit. These chocolates were nice and creamy, but I was a bit disappointed as the ganache flavors were quite light and hard to tell what flavor was what. I don't mean that I would want it to "scream" with flavor, but it would have been nice to be able to tell what was what.
There were traditional cookies called Polvoron. After buying these cookies, I was disappointed because I took a look at the box and found out that they were made by a company in Japan, and weren't from Spain. Apparently, similar cookies are found all around Andalusia and are given out at special occasions like weddings. They are supposed to help "call" or "invite" happiness. The texture of these cookies were quite dense, and stuck to the roof of my mouth--you could tell they were made with lard or shortening. The texture reminded me of the Okinawan chinsuko.
My favorite items from the fair were chocolates made by Cacao Sampaka. I read about them in a foodie magazine and they don't have a shop in Japan, so I was excited that they were appearing at this fair. I bought 3 of their samplers (actually they had 3 more, but I didn't have enough $$, so I picked out what I thought were the most interesting samples). The top right one, was their gastronomic innovations (clockwise)--black olive, balsamic vinegar (red splash), olive oil (green flecks) and parmesan cheese. Boy, was I surprised to find a hunk of cheese in the parmesan one and deliciously paired with a dark chocolate. These were all very different but I loved them!
Bottom right is the spice selection (clockwise)--Jamaican pepper, ginger and lemon, saffron with red flecks, and cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg. The ganaches were mixed with nuts, but were very tasty and paired nicely with the chocolates they used to coat them with. My favorite from this sampler was the pepper, the peppery taste hits you toward the end.
Bottom left is the herb selection (clockwise)--thyme, rosemary, peppermint, licorice. Each ganache was infused very nicely with the various herbs and paired nicely with the coating chocolates.
I'm so happy that I was able to try these different treats, although I can't wait to visit Spain some day...In a couple of days, another department store is having a U.K. fair....stay tuned.