Monday, 25 May 2015

Review: Marabou Japp

Now, if you take some milk chocolate and, as an addition, put in pieces of a chocolate bar... what do you get? I'm pretty sure the answer is “a chocoholic's dream”. I mean, chocolate in chocolate... Still, does it work? What does it taste like? Those were questions that required some research, so I boldly set myself the task of investigating Marabou's latest invention.

The wrapping is the traditional, colorful yellow-and-red of Marabou. When you open it, you find a tablet, divided into squares, and you can see little lumps in the chocolate – these are the chocolate bar pieces.

The scent is very sweet, there's milk chocolate and... caramel! It is not entirely unexpected – the Japp bar contains chocolate, caramel and chocolate meringue (soft, not crispy). But, as a caramel lover, that gets me very excited!

I can actually remember the very first time I tasted a Japp bar – it must have been the early 80s, and my aunt brought us those bars from Sweden. It was delicious! Perhaps they weren't available in Finland at the time, since I don't recall ever having any before then – or for several years after. Even now, every time I tear open a Japp bar wrapping, I remember that first bite. That was another reason why I was very curious about the new Japp chocolate!

The milk chocolate is your standard Marabou milk chocolate – it's very sweet, but not among those almost intolerably sugary varieties. The Japp pieces are soft, chewy and they taste a lot like some sort of fudge, there's perhaps a hint of vanilla and certainly some caramel. They're yummy, but I wouldn't have recognised it as the Japp bar. The combination is very sweet indeed, but I'll have to admit that I like it. I like it a lot. What's more, the soft, chewy texture of the Japp pieces is a huge bonus – perhaps I've sampled too many chocolates lately where the additions come in hard, crispy pieces because the softness was a very welcome sensation.

If you're not really into the sweet stuff and prefer your chocolate in some sort of elegant form, stay away from this (more for me, hahahaha!). But if you like it sweet, go for it!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Costumes for the Girl King

Last weekend, we made a short trip to Turku, the former capital and the oldest city in Finland. While we visited many lovely places there, the main attraction was Turku Castle. The castle is enormous and it hosts many exhibitions – if you're planning to visit, make sure to schedule enough time for it. Although we've been to the castle a few times before, four hours wasn't quite enough to tour the entire place! (And no coffee breaks, either!) Our almost-seven-year-old, who didn't remember her earlier visits, insisted we had to see everything. We, of course, we happy to oblige.

Our main interest, however, was the exhibition detailing the life of Queen Christina (1626 – 1689). She is a very interesting figure, who still remains somewhat controversial and mysterious. As the queen of Sweden, she received an extensive education. She slept very little and studied so hard that people worried about her health – but her hobbies were hunting and swordplay. It is said that she "walked like a man, sat and rode like a man, and could eat and swear like the roughest soldiers". She never married, but was rumoured to have a bunch of lovers, male and female. Her reign may not have lasted long (she abdicated her throne) or been particularly beneficial to the kingdom, but her interest in arts and philosophy made the court an important cultural centre of the time.

The exhibition features some items from the collection of Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armory) in Stockholm, but also props and costumes etc. from the movie “The Girl King” by Mika Kaurismäki. The film was shot in Turku and is scheduled to premier later this year. My husband already touched on some of these subjects in his blog, but he asked me to take a look at one topic: the costumes. If you know me, you know I don't care about clothes/trends/fashion/any of that (I have no problem wearing a dress/skirt/pants/top I bought 20+ years ago - it fits, I like it, I'll wear it), but there's something about period costumes that speaks to my inner princess and makes me want to play dress-up.

The costumes for "The Girl King" were designed by Marjatta Nissinen. In this article, Nissinen mentioned the challenges of the project: there are naturally no photos from the 17th century, and the main source of information are paintings. They, however, are always an artist's interpretation: one of the paintings used as a reference for costume design had incorporated costumes from four different periods!

I'm not familiar enough with the fashion of the 17th century to make any remarks concerning the authenticity of the costumes. I can only say that they look absolutely stunning! If you're interested in period costumes and/or Queen Christina, I recommend the exhibition, and if you can't make it (or even if you can), I also recommend watching the documentary titled "Dressing the Girl King".

And, finally, some pictures from the exhibition (click, and they shall appear in a larger form):

Friday, 15 May 2015

Review: Marabou Premium 70 % Cocoa Salty Liquorice

Last week, I reviewed Fazer's new version of their Kismet bar, the licorice. And now I found a salty liquorice version of Marabou's Premium chocolate! Is this a new trend or something?

The wrapping boasts beautiful colours of dark brown and purple, a picture of chocolate and... licorice root? Licorice sticks? I'm not sure. The chocolate is divided into satisfyingly large squares. You can actually see tiny dark spots in it – the licorice!

With the cocoa content of 70 %, this is dark chocolate – I suspect it's the same as in the other Premium line products (I've reviewed mint and coffee before). It has a strong scent of cocoa and the taste is smooth yet has that intensity that I love about dark chocolate. The licorice is scattered in the chocolate in tiny, crisp, hard pieces. The first impression is ”salty” (as is stated in the package) but if you let the chocolate melt in your mouth, the licorice brittle also begins to melt and the flavour of licorice is released. It's quite lovely – I enjoy the sweet and salty combination, and the licorice gives it a little more complexity.

I bought this one simply because I was curious and wanted to try something new – but it will likely not be the last time!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

My life in book titles

Here's a game for all book lovers! I received this little challenge from a friend a while back, and while I posted my answers in Facebook then, I decided to share it here as well. When my friends joined the game, I enjoyed reading their answers - so, if you're up to it, you're very welcome to post your answers in the comments.

And this is how it works:

Answer the following questions using titles of books you have on your bookshelf (or your Kindle or whatever):

1. Are you a man or a woman? Sword woman

2. Describe yourself: Daughter of the forest

3. What does life mean to you? A thread of grace

4. How do you feel? A feast for crows :P

5. Where do you live? Far from the madding crowd

6. Where would you like to travel? Wuthering heights

7. Describe your best friend: Wolf of the plains

8. What's your favourite colour? The crimson petal and the white

9. What's the weather like? The mists of Avalon

10. Your favourite time of day? The last light of the sun

11. If your life was a TV show, what would it be called? Written in my own heart's blood

12. Describe your current relationship: The mirror of her dreams

13. What do you fear? Come Armageddon

14. Today's motto: Through the stones

15. Give some advice: Speak easy

16. How would you want to die? Swordspoint

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Just some pictures from this lovely day. :)

There was cake...

 ...and roses.

I received a bunch of gifts...

... instead of women's magazines, I got Viking magazines!!! :D

And my family took me to Mother's Day lunch at Viking Tavern Harald:

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Review: Fazer Kismet Lakritsi (licorice)

I've been trying to find this new variaton of the Kismet chocolate bar since Fazer launched it a while back, but it was only now that it had arrived in the grocery stores here.

To be honest, Kismet was never one of my favourite chocolate bars. It's not that I dislike it – I do enjoy a bit now and then – it's simply that there's too much wafer and not enough chocolate for my taste. However, Kismet was present during a very special moment in my life... over seven years ago now, I took a pregnancy test, it was positive – not exactly a huge surprise, but my DH and I were overjoyed. And terrified. And happy. And bewildered. It called for immeditate celebration. We just happened to have some Kismet bars, and it seemed fitting... you know. Kismet. Fate. Destiny.

Anyway. Kismet has been around for what seems like a long time. Several years passed without me buying any, but then Fazer came up with the brilliant idea of introducing new flavour variations. That, of course, caught my attention! Well, I like trying new things. I'm adventurous! (Okay, at least when it comes to chocolate and books.)

My favourite was raspberry cheesecake which, unfortunately, is no longer available... but hey, licorice and chocolate combination sounded interesting! After all, I do like licorice (not nearly as much as chocolate, though), but it must be the “proper” kind: soft, sticky, intensely licori-cy... like this:

And finally on to the chocolate! The wrapping is a modified version of the traditional Kismet wrapping. Different colours, same font – easily recognisable. The scent is tempting: mild milk chocolate and intense, darker licorice. Very promising! The wafer pieces are covered in milk chocolate. When you bite into one, you find wafer layers alternating with licorice filling. The wafer is cripsy, the chocolate is tasty, and the licorice gives the whole thing an interesting twist. It's slightly salty and adds a bit of character to the combination of mellow milk chocolate and fairly flavourless wafer. I expected a stronger presence from the licorice, but it remains a little weak. Then again, it is an intense flavour and might easily dominate the more delicate chocolate.

This is a very interesting addition to the Kismet family. So far, I've preferred the mint version called “Marianne”, but licorice might well become my new favourite.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Review: Cloetta Nougat Center and Cloetta Toffee Center

I saw these small (80 grams) chocolate tablets from Cloetta in the supermarket and let my DH persuade me to sample them (not that I needed much encouragement... ;)). One has a nougat filling, the other comes with caramel.

The wrappings are colourful and have simple designs. The impession is not that of a quality chocolate – which is clearly not the intention, either. The bars are divided into small, sort of puffy squares that have the text “Cloetta” on them.

Both bars have a very sweet, sugary but otherwise mild scent. The milk chocolate is, I assume, the same in both versions. It's very sweet, and, with the cocoa content of 25 %, it's very mild even for a milk chocolate. By itself, I wouldn't really care for it.

But it's the filling that makes all the difference here.

The nougat one is filled with pale, silky smooth nougat. The flavour of nuts or almonds isn't as strong as in most nougats – this is almost reminiscent of caramel, which is a little weird but not a bad thing. The flavours of both chocolate and nougat are rather mild and sugary, but even so quite tasty.

And the toffee version. I've said it before but I'll say it again: caramel is my favourite filling in chocolates, so I had high hopes for this one. And I wasn't disappointed! The toffee filling has a slightly grainy texture. It is sweet (well, obviously!) and has that delicious burnt sugar aroma... and is just a tiny bit salty, which makes it just about perfect.

These two don't try to give an impression of quality chocolate; they're the kind of stuff you munch on while watching a movie. And for that they're just right. The toffee version, especially, made me crave for more; I will definitely buy it again.