Posted in Products

Product Review: Hungarian Garlic in a Tube

hungarian garlic in a tube 1

There are several very good specialty food shops in Ottawa’s Byward Market, two of which specialize heavily in eastern European food products. While shopping in one of these during my most recent visit to the capital, I came across this garlic paste in a tube from Hungary. I was actually there to purchase tomato puree in a tube (which I found), but I saw this as well and grabbed some to bring home with me…

I am not entirely sure how the ‘Fokhagymakrem’ translates but it is pretty clear that the tube contains a garlic puree. The back of the tube uses the English words ‘Garlic Sauce’ but the ingredient list just indicates garlic, salt, oil, and some preservatives, so this is not a prepared ‘sauce’ in the usual sense of the word… that is to say, with other flavorings being added.

Anyway, when you open the tube, the pungent aroma of garlic is very apparent. When tasted by itself, it does having something of the sharp, sulfurous pungency of freshly minced garlic, but it also has a sweet, slightly cooked taste of roasted garlic at the same time. The other thing, which is immediately apparent, is that there is a LOT of salt added. This may be necessary for preservation purposes but it will really impact how the paste can be used and cooks must be alive to adjusting for the saltiness anywhere that it is added.

I actually like this, saltiness aside, as much as many jarred garlic purees. Jarred products will, of course, oxidize over time and I would say that buying it in the tube will allow you to keep it longer. It doesn’t appear that Amazon Canada carries it, but you can purchase it through Amazon in the US. Mind you, at $13.00 American, it will end up running you about 5 times what I paid for it in Ottawa…

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Product Review: Tube Mustards

Tube Mustards 1

While I was shopping in Ottawa on my last visit, I went to find some of the Tomato Puree that comes in a tube as we cannot get it up here in the frozen North. I found some (a couple of different brands, actually), but I also picked up the tubes of mustard you see pictured above.

I remember having these in the house when I was a kid. Indeed, even one of the brands was familiar, and, though I really didn’t have any pressing mustard ‘needs’, as it were, I decided to grab all the sorts I saw with a view to doing a bit of comparing and contrasting… Continue reading “Product Review: Tube Mustards”

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Product Review: Walker’s™ Wasabi Ginger Crisps

Wasabi Chips

A while ago, I was following a spirited exchange on one of the internet forums I follow in which Americans and Britons were hotly debating the merits of their respective gustatory traditions. One thing that came up many times, and which even got grudging agreement by the Americans, was that Britain has a far greater range of interesting of potato chip flavors than elsewhere. From my childhood days, way back in the mists of time, I really only recall ‘Salt and Vinegar’ chips (or ‘crisps’ as they are known in Britain) but things seem to have blossomed considerably since then…

Now, we can’t buy any English potato crisps where I live, but the package you see above was sent to a friend of mine by family living down in (I believe) Toronto. I knew it was an English Brand immediately (it says ‘crisps’ on the front of the package, after all) and the Walker’s™  brand name was even faintly familiar to me. I had a look online and was surprised to see some of the flavors they carry: They do a ‘Prawn Cocktail’, which sounds like it could be good; one in ‘Worcestershire Sauce’ flavor, which sounds interesting, at least; and then there is also one (and I swear this is true), which is flavored as ‘Brussels Sprout’. I’ll not comment on the last save to say that I probably won’t die unfulfilled if I never get to try them…

Anyway, I was a bit skeptical about the ‘Wasabi Ginger’ flavor but it turned out to be pretty good. Some other wasabi flavored snacks I have tried (Wasabi Nori, and Wasabi Peas) have been a bit heavy-handed with the wasabi and the result is… well, unsubtle, to say the least. Here, both the ginger and the wasabi are very light additions. Indeed, the ginger is so subtle that you probably would miss it if not watching for it … it only appears as a slightly sweet hint of the root when you first bit into a crisp, and fades as the wasabi taste rises. Even here, though, the wasabi is just an enhancement of the potato crisp flavor, and not a mouth searing mask for every other taste. It really was well done, in my opinion…

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Product Review: Aurora Brand™ Giardiniera

Aurora Giardiniera 1

Giardiniera is an Italian mixed pickle that I have been long been meaning to try making for myself, but which, alas, remains one of the many projects still on my to-do-someday list. The version you see here is a product of the United States made available in Canada by Aurora Importing and Distributing. This company lists quite a wide range of products on their Website, and I have often purchased their Anchovy Paste in a tube.

The basic Giardiniera consists of a melange of cut vegetables that are first brined and then pickled in a seasoned oil and vinegar mix. Sometimes the vegetables are cut quite large and the result is consumed as ‘bite-size’ pickles, and in other cases, as here, the pieces are quite fine and the product is more of a relish used as a condiment on things like sandwiches, or burgers, and so forth.

Olive tends to the olive oil of choice but, here, soybean oil is used. The mix contains sweet peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery and gherkins (which is a pretty common sort of blend), but hot peppers are included in many versions. The ingredients merely list ‘spices’ for the seasoning, but it does add (a bit ominously) ‘MAY CONTAIN: Mustard’.

This particular product is very well brined and the first impression of is a definite, but not unpleasant saltiness. The vinegar is used fairly lightly, and the original taste of the vegetables is still ‘somewhat’ apparent, but what I found curious is that there is actually a rather sharp bite here that suggests hot peppers were used, if only sparingly. Perhaps this is the mustard they warned as about…

Anyway, I quite liked this and, after the initial taste test, I used it as a jazzy condiment on a vegetarian pizza, and also on a series of sandwiches. The one sort of ‘failing’ here is that the colors are a bit muted and not as vibrant as would more likely be the case in a homemade, short pickle version. In less than two weeks from the date of writing this, I shall be in Ottawa and may well try a different brand or two from one of the excellent Italian food shops there…. I will report 😊