Saturday, June 28, 2008

Scandinavian Treats

When we travel, we often seek out the best local treats. We visit bakeries and chocolate shops in search of a taste of the local flavors. Sometimes you have to ask what items are local and which are imported. We stopped in one candy store in Reykjavik and the kind storekeeper explained that all the chocolates in the display were Belgian chocolates:

She probably thought we were strange when we asked what local items she had. Probably most shoppers are looking for the famous imported Belgian chocolates, but we thought, you can get those most anywhere, we’re only in Iceland this one day, so we better taste something from here. Anyway, she kindly directed us to one small shelf in the back where the local items were. Most of the local stuff was Licorice and just one brand of chocolate bars called Sirius. Strange as it may sound, one of the Sirius chocolate bars included licorice bits. We were fascinated by the combination and had to try it. It turned out to be great, but now I can’t find it anywhere on the web where I can order more.

The local licorice was also excellent and we had some great black-licorice ropes with a coconut cream center – yum! As we went on to Denmark and Sweden, we continued to see more varieties of licorice. Licorice mints, licorice candy, and licorice ropes sold by street vendors in Stockholm.
Licorice Vendor

We did try a variety of local chocolate bars too. Some from Iceland, Denmark and Russia seemed to have the best, but even so, it really didn’t compare to Swiss or Belgian chocolate.

When we were on our own in Sweden, we visited many bakeries and frequently saw some of the same wonderful looking confections. There seemed to be several staples of the Swedish bakeries, one was the chokoladball, which was a small chocolate confection usually with coconut shavings on the outside.

One day we let the kids pick out a treat for after dinner and they chose a package of these chocolate balls. To their great surprise they were filled with some kind of rum or cognac based marzipan filling. The boys turned up their noses and were quite disappointed.

The very next night, they decided to try the chocolate logs. Again they found a marzipan filling with some rum flavoring. They asked: “What is it with this marzipan stuff!” and gave up on the Swedish bakery treats.

Finally, I must document the most wonderful form of licorice candy I've every tasted. On our way back through Copenhagen airport, we visited one of the airport duty-free shops and found this Anthon Berg Licorice Fudge, made in Denmark. There is nothing else like this in the world. It has the rich creamy texture of fudge, with the delicate taste of real licorice. This stuff is so good you may be tempted to each too much at once. Be aware that licorice has many health benefits, but one side effect is that it can act as a laxative. It should also be avoided by people with high-blood pressure or diabetes, otherwise enjoy!

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