Care Packages Part 2 – Candy

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Those of you who have read my blog for a while or know me personally, know that I have a thing for foreign snack food. As small as the world has gotten, snack food can still be very place-specific. Even at the 7-11 just over the Canadian border on the way to Whistler, you can find a plethora of snack food you can’t get in the US. Despite their mass-production, snack foods often still reflect local taste preferences. And, candidly, I think the foreign snack foods taste better. Some might argue that is because I don’t usually eat snack foods, and thus they taste better because they are a treat. But I stand by my claim. The foreign snack foods seem to be slightly higher quality and better-tasting, particularly when it comes to candy.

European chocolate is better. Period. From cheap candy aisle chocolate to the artisanal brands, I would choose European chocolate any day. Even Cadbury is substantially better outside the US. I recently tested this hypothesis again when I tried some American Cadbury chocolate and nearly spit it out because it has such a strong chemical taste. It just tasted artificial. Ah, but I tried it in Ireland, and while it was no Caillier, it was so milky and chocolaty. Yes, it still has a mass-produced sensibility, but for chocolate that isn’t $30, I’d still eat it and rather enjoy it, whereas I’d skip almost every US mass-produced chocolate product. (Peanut butter m&ms, Reeses’ eggs, and an occasional Twix bar being the only exceptions).

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So Michelle threw a few Cadbury treats into the care package she sent me – milk chocolate and caramello Easter eggs, a mini fruit and nut bar, and a mini chocolate bar. My favorite flavor that I discovered while in Ireland are the golden biscuit crunch – shortbread cookies in milk chocolate – and the golden crisp – honeycomb in milk chocolate. The shortbread cookies in milk chocolate is an English thing. This combination is found in tea biscuits and was also the basis for the “chocolate biscuit cake” that Michelle’s mother-in-law won when I was visiting. The honeycomb in the chocolate is a European thing, and one of my favorite Callier bars. It’s a cross between a crunch bar made with crisp rice and a chocolate bar made with toffee chunks – sweeter than but not as crunchy as the rice, but definitely not as sweet as toffee. I

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She also included another British favorite of mine…toffee. This made me smile because it has a history back to one of my first trips to London (gasp – over 20 years ago) where I found Thornton’s treacle toffee. Giant chunks of chewy, caramelly toffee with a rich molasses flavor from the treacle, I found Thornton’s at Piccadilly Circus, and fell in love immediately. Michelle sent me it as a treat and somehow remembered how much I loved it. This time she sent me Butler’s Toffee. Butlers Chocolates is an Irish institution. Neither she nor I are huge fans of it, because it’s a little waxy. I think they were one of those places that may have gotten too big too fast such that the artisanal aspects gave way to more industrial production. Nonetheless, their toffee is pretty good, but made in individually wrapped pieces that are a little too big for as hard as it is. Definitely worth a try. And I’m cutting them up to enjoy them.

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