Monday, October 1, 2012

Tirol Summer Assortment

I'm fully cognizant of the fact that it is no longer summer, and that this bag showing sun, seagulls, and palm trees is incongruous with the cool breezes, dying leaves, and chilly air of autumn. Actually, with climate change, I'm not sure that we actually experience fall in that fashion anymore, but for the sake of argument, I will admit that I'm reviewing this seasonal variety pack rather late in the game. To be fair, I bought it recently at Nijiya market in San Jose, CA (it could not be had at the Mountain View branch) and this selection only recently vanished from Tirol's web site. I can't recall what I paid for it, but I think it was somewhere in the $3 (234 yen) range.

This was the sort of thing that I would not buy when I was living in Japan because it includes a very common flavor (nuts crunch), a reissue (mango) with one flavor of interest to me (coconut). Under those circumstances, I would not pop for a bag on non-premium Tirol chocolates. For those who don't know or remember, the Tirol brand is offered in two different sizes. One is a smaller square sold in 9 packs and the other is a larger (about 1 inch/2.54 cm.) size which is sold individually. The premium candies larger size means they are generally more sophisticated in construction with multiple layers of fillings. The non-premium ones, such as these, tend to be simpler as it's hard to layer in much in such a tiny presentation. In general, the variety packs lack the flavor depth and potential of the premium candies. 

The strange thing is though that I thought I'd already sampled two out of three of these chocolates, but reviewing my backlog, I see that I had never tried any of them. I guess that's all for the better then. 

One has to wonder why peanuts wear bow ties around the world. Is this level of formality a genetic inclination?

Nuts Crunch:
I should note that I balk at writing "nuts" crunch instead of "nut crunch". The Japanese generally don't accept or follow the conventions in English in which you do not use a plural when a noun modifies another noun. That's why they say "peanuts butter" instead of "peanut butter". However, the words are written on the package in such a way that I can hardly deny them, so don't come around telling me that I've adapted crappy English as a result of my time in Japan. My English may be crappy, but it's all on my shoddy editing skills, not absorbing Japanese-English. 

Now that we've got that straight, let me say that this is a very tasty peanut and chocolate combination. It is crunchy, but I think the reason it tastes better than some others is that the peanuts were fried prior to having their fragments embedded in milk chocolate. There's a rich roasted quality to the nuts which makes the flavor profile better even with an extremely small portion in the candy. Incidentally, I intentionally photographed this chocolate upside-down so that the uneven distribution is easy to see. I loved this, and if I could buy a big bag of these alone, I certainly would.

This smelled nicely fruity with a slightly perfume-like edge. The outer white chocolate is very, very sweet and quite soft. The jelly inside is also soft and has a zesty edge to it which helps cut through the sweet outer coating to some extent. The flavor is like a really rich mango puree mixed with a bit of powdered sugar. As a small bite, it's really enjoyable, but I think that one small candy would definitely be the limit. Any more than that at once and it's just going to overwhelm one with sweetness.

The coconut scent on this is quite intoxicating and I was encouraged by the fact that it had a dark chocolate coating. I can't think of any reason why dark chocolate should pair better, but it's possible that years of seeing "Mounds" bars made me believe this was the proper presentation. Unlike the aforementioned bar, the coconut filling in this is not too sweet and the bittersweet chocolate cuts through what sweetness there is for two complimentary flavors. That being said, I ate this in two bites and it seemed rather intensely bittersweet by the end of the second bite. I liked this, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat a lot of them.

I like the Tirol concept of mixing flavors in small portions and the fact that the flavors are often pronounced with balanced sweetness. I don't like the fact that the chocolate is often quite soft and that was the case with these. I prefer chocolate with a greater snap to it. That being said, as small bites of chocolate to satisfy a craving, I don't think one can go wrong with these. The flavors are strong without being overbearing and you really do feel that one chocolate is "enough."

1 comment:

Sherry said...

I think the "nuts crunch and "peanuts butter" is caused by the fact these are English words that were put into the Japanese language through katakana then when they write them in romaji they add the "s" because of ツ (tsu).