The World Choc-Cup Taste-Off!

Once every four years, an epic battle takes place between the nations of the world. Or at least six nations. In Queens.

International chocolate comparisons

From top left: Greece, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Russia, Croatia

Which country will earn the title for the best mass-produced milk chocolate bar with hazelnuts? Whose chocolate is the creamiest, whose nuts most plentiful? Ok, this is starting to sound weird.

What I’m trying to say is that last night, my husband and I tested out six different chocolate bars from six different countries. All brands were of the mid-range variety. All were milk chocolate, except for Russia, who misleadingly entered the competition under the duplicitous guise of “special chocolate.” (Apparently, “special” means “dark” in Russia.) All contained hazelnuts — some crushed, others whole.

But only one could win the honorable World Choc-Cup.  Continue reading

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Australian Tim Tams: A Primer

Tim Tams are cult-cookies made by the Australian brand Arnott’s. Although they boast an impressive line-up of chocolate cream, chocolate malted biscuits, and chocolate coating, Tim Tams are remarkably average when eaten as-is. The true magic happens when they are dipped into hot liquid.

This is called a Tim Tam Slam

Dark chocolate Tim Tams

T is for Tim Tam

How it works: Prepare yourself a hot beverage. Recommended: hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. Daintily bite off two opposite corners of the Tim Tam. You will be sucking the liquid through these corners like a straw. 

Tim Tam Slam

The world’s most ineffective straw

Next comes the delicate part. Dunk one end into the hot liquid and slowly suck through the exposed top corner. As soon as you feel the liquid reach your lips, remove the Tim Tam from the drink and slam it into your mouth-hole. Revel in the explosion of chocolatey goo that has been activated. 

Seriously, the porous malted biscuits and cream melt into a veritable chocolate Vesuvius.

Where to find: If you are lucky enough to live in the Oceania region or in Asia, you can find Tim Tams in a variety of flavors: white, alcoholic, dark, and even crack. 

In the U.S., Arnott’s has teamed up with Pepperidge Farm to sell Americanized Tim Tams at select Target and Cost Plus locations. However, true connoisseurs claim they are inferior to the Aussie version.

In NYC, you can buy original Tim Tams at the Israeli Holyland Market in the East Village (at rather unholy prices).

As a last resort, you may have more luck finding British McVities Penguin Biscuits, which are similar in form and function to Tim Tams. While less profound, they offer rookies a chance to perfect their slamming technique before stepping onto the pro’s court. 

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Miracle-Cure Mondays: Will Korean Rose Vinegar Make You Beautiful?

Welcome to Miracle-Cure Monday, a weekly column that explores the global phenomenon of edibles marketed for their supposed health benefits.

To begin, let’s start off with South Korea — a country home to some of the world’s healthiest and most image-conscious consumers. To say that South Korea is a nation obsessed with beautiful appearances would be an understatement. One in five women in South Korea has had plastic surgery, and even the men have been known to slather on BB cream.

But what if surgery and makeup aren’t your jam? Have no fear – Korean drinking vinegar is here!

KARA endorsement for pomegranate vinegar drink

The K-pop group KARA endorses pomegranate vinegar for glowing skin and a trim physique. Image source: Model Press,

Given that I am a fan of both vinegar and vanity, I was hopelessly romanced by this pouch of “rose vinegar” I spotted while shopping in Tokyo’s Koreatown. 

Korean rose drinking vinegar

Rose Vinegar: For Beautiful Women.

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Peruvian Toasted Fava Bean Flour: Two Ways

Toasted fava bean flour

Crema de Habas: toasted fava bean flour. I bought this intriguing product for around $2.75 from the Peruvian aisle because I like beans and powdery things that claim to be nutritious.

Outside of South America, fava bean flour is most commonly used as a component in gluten-free baking mixes, along with its beany brethren, garbanzo flour. Toasting the favas is said to reduce the flour’s legume-like smell and flavor, although it smelled pretty damn beany to me. Gringos can buy toasted fava bean flour from Bob’s Red Mill for the humble price of $9/lb.

But in the spirit of Peru, I decided to follow the two recipes on the back of the package: Cream of Fava Soup and the more beguiling Bean Punch – a boozy tangy of Pisco and… beans.

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