Saturday, May 28, 2005


Incredible, I know, but I'm taking a little break from scoffing salty liquorice right now. Back in a week or so...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Lakrisal: Compressed Bliss

My absolute favourite it has to be said, even after 40 years of liqs eating experience, is liquorice powder or zwartwit (as the Dutch would have it) zout. Zwartwit obviously means mischief.

The real thing, which is woody and salty with the sugar not tasting through, is not always easy to find. Dutchliquorice kindly sent me a few tubs on special request with my last order (they now list it online, but they usually sell wholesale, so you need to put in a large-ish order—not easy when you're the only liquorice eater around). Even in Holland I am often unlucky. It is perhaps miraculous that I came across this stuff at all, but it was ocassionally on sale by market traders and on fun fairs when I was a kid. Only ocassionally, mind. Liquorice powder was always an elusive speciality.

You'll encounter it more often pressed into drageés of various sizes, but these tend to be sugary and once you taste the sugar or worse, saccharine, it loses all of its appeal and becomes pointless at best, sickly at worst. I have been known to throw away bagfulls of the stuff deemed entirely inedible. So when I went on my last liquorice haunt, I bought just one roll of Lakritsal, another manifestation of these sweets. I wanted to give it a try but at 1£ a throw and after countless earlier disappointments, I wasn't prepared to take a chance.

Yet here it was. The real thing, or as close as I have ever tasted it, to zwartwit zout. I have to get my ass back to London pronto for more. The only reason that this does not score a perfect ten is that it is almost, but not quite ZZ.


Monday, May 16, 2005

Fazer's Salter Lakritsfigurer

The first Dutch word I learned was 'Katjes'—only I did not know that it was Dutch at the time. I associated it with Haribo and small, hard if not particulary salty liquorice kittens that had a tendency to stick between once teeth. Never a particular favourite when I was a kid (and only available in large, above pocket money-sized bags anyway) I did not give it much thought and it only recently occured to me that I have not seen it around for a long time.

What a nostalgic surprise then that Fazer's 'Salta Lakritsfigurer' look and taste almost exactly like them. They are a little bit cuter and rounder, possibly smaller, but by-and-large they are 'Katjes'. Something for fans of hard liquorice that do not want tongue-blistering levels of saltiness and enjoy the undertone of violets often found in Scandinavian liqs and (now that I have tasted them again) apparently also in one of Haribo's former bestsellers.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Treacle Stout

I noticed this in the pub last Friday:

Itchen Valley Brewery's Treacle Stout.

It tasted like burnt Pontefract cakes dissolved in vinegar, but then it had been on tap since March (and should have been replaced with the Brewery's current seasonal ale). Shame I did not spot it earlier!