With a new month comes a new Universal Yums box filled with snacks and candies to try from a different country around the world. For the month of January we will be embarking on a journey to the sunny destination of Greece, where olives, white buildings, and ocean views are a plenty. Ancient Greece is a country that has had plenty of influence on the Western world and not just for the creation of the Olympic games but for an abundance of other things as well such as theater, alarm clocks, cranes, and watermills but more importantly we can thank the Greek for their delicious snacks that we’ll be taste testing this month. As always I’ll be including a little snippet about each goody that we’ll be trying as well as my opinion on each snack.
Onion Bread Chips
Resembling croutons, these crunchy bread chips are seasoned with just the right amount of onion flavoring. This traditional crusty bread often accompanies Greek dinner plates and has been eaten for centuries, more specifically since 400 BC. The process to make this snack involves putting the bread into the oven after it has been used to cook a dish and letting the bread sit in there overnight while the oven cools down. This sucks all the moisture out of the bread to make it as crispy and crunchy as possible without burning it.
When it comes to anything onion flavored, I’m a huge fan and so not surprisingly these chips were a huge hit with me. Though I found that the onion flavoring wasn’t as strong as I expected it to be, they were still a hit and definitely something that I would eat over and over again.
Green Olives with Fennel and Coriander
When it comes to Greece, olives play a huge part in the country’s history and are one of the first foods that comes to mind when you think of Greek snacks so of course this month’s Universal Yums box wouldn’t be complete without them. Though they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they certainly are popular throughout Greece and have been around for thousands of years. It is believed that the Greek goddess Athena struck the ground with her spear and an olive tree sprouted and from that moment on olives basically ruled Greek life. In Ancient Greece, olive oil was used for many different things including to treat patients that were sick, to cleanse their hair and bodies, and it was even used as fuel for lamps.
Though I used to hate olives, I’ve come to love them within the past few years and I’ve got to say that even though these olives were voted the worst snack in this month’s box, they were in my top three favorite snacks this time around. I found that they tasted almost sweeter and less bitter than regular olives and the fennel and coriander was a nice touch.
Serenata Dark Chocolate Wafer
Dark chocolate was first brought to Greece in the year 1861 by an entrepreneur and it was a huge hit. Over the years there have been many more chocolate companies that have set up shop in Greece and who have started selling dark chocolate. One of these companies known as Tottis, which is the company that made most of the treats included in this month’s box, is 100% Greek-owned and the producers of one of the most popular wafers in the country which have been sold and loved by many since 1970.
Normally I’m not a fan of chocolate and even less a fan of dark chocolate but this wafer was surprisingly pretty good. Though I personally would’ve liked it more if it was milk chocolate, it was still enjoyable nonetheless with the wafer not being too dry and the cocoa cream in the middle was really good.
Olympos Peanut Halva
In Greece religion is a huge part of life and with 98% of the population belonging to the Greek Orthodox church, that makes for a lot of people who observe Lent during the forty days leading up to Easter. During this time there are certain things that can and can’t be eaten, but one of those things that can still be enjoyed during this time is something known as halva. Made using all natural ingredients and ground up sesame seeds, this flaky yet smooth treat is a big hit throughout the country.
When it comes to trying new things, for me a huge part of whether I like something or not is based on texture over taste and while the taste of this treat wasn’t terrible, the texture threw me off. It tasted very much like peanut butter but the flakiness was too much for me so it wasn’t something that I would eat again. The texture also reminded me of the Soan Papdi that I tried back in the Pakistan box which I also didn’t like.
Croissant with Cocoa and Vanilla
Since they are so convenient and can be grabbed and eaten in a rush or while on the go, croissants are widely popular throughout Greece and are one of the go to breakfast options for many. Though you would expect to find croissants in a country such as France, these croissants are much different than those and actually come stuffed with not one but two different fillings, cocoa and vanilla cream, to make them that much more unique and yummy.
Coming from Quebec, croissants can be found virtually everywhere here and are widely popular so they’re nothing new to me but this one was completely different than any of the ones that can be found around here. This one is much less flaky than the ones I’m used to and is much more like a pastry but regardless was still really good. The croissant itself was nice and moist and the filling was creamy and just sweet enough.
Fourel Honey Candy
Back in Ancient Greece honey was considered to be the ‘nectar of the gods’ and many believed that the Greek gods drank an elixir made with honey that would guarantee them eternal life. While Greece is one of the few countries in the world that has a concentration of people who live up to 100 years old, these candies can’t guarantee you eternal life but they’re still a yummy treat regardless.
Normally I’m not really a fan of anything that tastes too floral-like and though I found that these candies did have floral hints, they were still decent. I didn’t find them to be overly flavorful however until you get to the honey filled middle but overall it’s something that I would eat again.
Tottis Oregano Chips
Potatoes in Greece have a long history and though they are loved by many nowadays and made into many different dishes such as these oregano flavored potato chips, they weren’t always so popular. One of the main things that the Greek prime minister wanted to do back in 1829 was to focus on promoting the cultivation of potatoes in order to sustain Greece’s food supply and to export them to other countries around the world. The population however didn’t see the appeal and so the prime minister came up with a plan to convince people that potatoes were valuable and so hired some guards to protect a shipment of potatoes which long story short, made people think that the vegetable was valuable and worth planting. The prime minister’s plan ended up working wonders and from then on the potato crops starting popping up everywhere and spread like wildfire.
When I first saw these in the box, I wasn’t too sure how to feel but I was sure that I would most likely enjoy these chips. While they are definitely very different from anything that I’ve ever tasted before or anything that can be found in stores around here, I wasn’t as big a fan of these as I originally thought that I would be. The flavoring was much stronger than I thought that it would be and they tasted almost like pizza or spaghetti sauce but while they weren’t the worst thing out there, they aren’t something that I would gravitate towards.
Tsanos Moustokouloura Cookies
Resembling mini donuts, these cookies are a must have for anyone visiting Greece and are loved by many throughout the country but it’s not only the taste of them but also one of the main ingredients found in this snack that makes it so unique. A required step in the wine-making process is to create something called ‘must’ which is what the grapes used to create the wine are made into beforehand. This thick mixture is made using the freshly squeezed juices of a grape as well as the skin, seeds, and stems of the fruit. The winemaker then extracts the juice from the must to start fermenting into wine except in the case of these cookies, where the must and a dash of cinnamon are used to create these cookies’ distinct flavor.
One of the many things that I don’t like is things that are flavored with an artificial grape flavoring and so while I didn’t think that I would like these cookies, they actually turned out to be one of my favorite items in this month’s box. The grape flavoring is virtually non-existent and though they are made with the must from the grapes, they tasted almost more like sugar cookies to me with subtle hints of gingerbread flavoring.
Serenata Triplo Wafer
Wafers can be found virtually everywhere around the world and though the flavors range from country to country, the concept stays the same. Though the Triplo wafer from Greece may seem like any old wafer, it is unique and different in it’s own way. Not only does it have two layers of crunchy wafer to enjoy, it is also smothered in a thick, creamy layer of milk chocolate and filled with a rich filling of hazelnut.
As mentioned above, wafers can be found pretty much anywhere so while this wasn’t a unique treat or something that we can’t get here in Canada, it was still amazing regardless. I’m not normally a fan of chocolate as I’ve said a million times before, but this wafer would be enough to convince me otherwise. The chocolate was really good and the hazelnut filling was even better with just the right amount of crunchiness from the wafers underneath. It’s no surprise that this sweet treat was voted number 1 snack from this month’s box.
Sesame Pasteli with Almonds
Known as pasteli for short, this sweet treat is widely popular throughout the country and was even eaten during the Ancient Greece times. Though the recipe has been tweaked and revised dozens of times with chefs adding things to the recipe, the original ingredients for pasteli was sesame and honey. To keep things authentic and to experience this treat how it was enjoyed thousands of years ago in Greece, that is the flavor that we will be trying this time around.
While pasteli may be loved by many in Greece, it wasn’t my cup of tea and definitely not something I would go out of my way to eat again. It was really sticky and kept getting stuck to my teeth and essentially just tastes like eating a handful of sesame seeds off of a bagel and adding a bit honey to sweeten them up. My fiance on the other hand seemed to really love this treat so it wasn’t a total flop.
Bergamot Jelly Candies
From being zested into cakes and mixed into yogurt, bergamot is a large part of Greek cuisine. The potent flavoring is most known for being what flavors Earl Grey tea but for this month we’ll be trying bergamot jelly candies.
Though these candies were definitely unique and different in their own way, I really didn’t like them. The texture was really chewy and sticky at the same time and the flavoring was just way too overpowering for my taste. It tasted like a mix between Earl Grey tea and a lime, which are both flavors that I don’t enjoy.
Ion Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Orange, and Lemon Pieces
Founded in 1930, the Ion chocolate company is one of the most popular chocolate companies in all of Greece so it was a no brainer to have one of their products included in this month’s box. For 17 years the company worked day in and day out to perfect their milk chocolate recipe to make it into what it is today and once that recipe was created, they then made a chocolate bar with almonds in it which has become one of the most popular chocolate bars in Greece. Milk chocolate with almonds isn’t something that’s very unique however, but the lemon and orange pieces that is mixed in with it does give it that fresh and exotic feel.
For one chocolate bar, this one really does have a lot going on but it wasn’t my favorite thing this time around. I’m not normally a fan of fruit/citrus mixed with chocolate and I found that the citrus in this one was quite overpowering and just too much for me. So while it may be loved by the Greek and it is different and unique, it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Bliss Cocoa Toffee
In the 1700’s there was a Swedish botanist who gave the tree in which cocoa grows from the name ‘theobroma cacao’ which in Greek roughly translates to ‘food of the gods’. Though chocolate wasn’t considered to actually be the food of the gods in Greek mythology, they might have changed their minds after trying one of these toffees with its indulgent milky base and intense chocolate flavor.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about this treat at first because I wasn’t too sure exactly what it was but it ended up being one of my favorite things. It was really chewy and very chocolaty and while that normally wouldn’t be something that I would like, it was really good and my fiance loved it also.
Derby Chocolate Bar
Chocolate bars typically consist of the chocolate base with some sort of filling or topping to accompany it such as caramel, peanuts, or almonds. The derby bar has much more than just that going on and for that reason, has become a staple in Greece and its no wonder why. This chocolate bar comes with coconut flakes, crisped rice, and a bunch of creamy milk chocolate to top it all off.
Again another one of my favorite treats from this month’s box was this chocolate bar. The cream center was really good and the coconut was also a nice touch and almost made it taste like Bounty chocolate bars that we have here in Canada but overall it was really good.
So there you have it, another month of trying yummy snacks from Universal Yums in the bag. Stay tuned for February’s box where we will be embarking on a trip to France to indulge in the likes of macaroons and truffle chips. Until then, feel free to check out the other Universal Yums blog posts that I’ve done so far and discover the countries that we’ve previously visited.
Be sure to also check out the Universal Yums website for more information or to order your own box filled with goodies.