Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hida Natural Cheese Softly Bar

One of the things about food in Japan that keeps me interested, yet also ambivalent is the way in which they take a flavor that I associate with one sort of presentation and mix it up with one of a very different presentation. I guess I have an approach-avoidance conflict going on with such foods. I'm repelled, yet also curious.  I must say that I'm glad this is a situation in my life that mainly applies to food, and not other areas of my personal life. If you're going to be strangely repelled, yet curious, you don't want it to be about something which may land you with a social disease.

I should note that I did not buy these (so I can't offer a price), but rather that they were given to my husband by an acquaintance as a gift. You can see by the picture above that the box has a unique accordion file-style way of opening to allow display of the individually wrapped bars inside in a break room or on a coffee table. Clearly, this is one of those things designed as "omiyage" or souvenirs, often picked up by traveling businesspeople and given to coworkers who remain back in the office toiling away.

These "Natrual Cheese Softly Bars" are a curious menage a trois between a savory element (Gouda cheese), a cookie, and a cracker. The bars smell like a pungent slab of cheese, but the texture is dry, but not crumbly. It's soft and easy to bite into but dense. The taste is lightly sweet, fairly cheesy, but not in an intense Gorgonzola way.

The shining star of this is the texture, which is very pleasing because you can tell that there is a lot of fat layered into the flour. The first ingredient is margarine, followed by flour then sugar and cheese. If you took a cheese cracker and tried to change it into a bar cookie or shortbread, this is what it would be. Usually, this sort of sweet and savory mixture comes across as a very funky and unhappy marriage, but it works pretty well in these cookies. That being said, though I found these reasonably enjoyable, I wouldn't seek them out or buy them myself.

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