Published on December 16th, 2010 | by Greg0
Exotic Popcorns and Chocolate You Don’t Eat
We’ll start with popcorn- despite great progress in the popped corn industry, most folks still snack on this ostensibly healthy food drizzled in either butter or caramel. And we have nothing against those flavors! It’s just that, despite a gazillion types of soda and chips and crackers, popcorn is pretty much a binary choice in most grocery stores. This shall not stand! Foodies can do better. And that’s where 479° Popcorn comes in, with 8 interesting flavors of certified organic popcorns.
The name, of course, stems from the ‘optimal’ temperature for popping corn. And it’s local too- San Francisco based, with most ingredients coming from California, and a mission page that discusses their dislike of styrofoam, love of trees, and composting practices. They’ve made Oprah’s list too, and though her tastes aren’t our own, we at least agree that 479° makes some pretty great popcorn. We tried the Globetrotter Sampler- five flavors, four ounces of each, nicely packaged. A sampler like this runs $35, which should give pause to those who are used to buying a giant bucket of movie theater popcorn and downing it within two hours. This popcorn is meant to be savored, and it shows.
The Ginger Sesame Caramel corn was a nice balance of sweet and spicy, and slightly nutty, and as with all of the flavors the texture was excellent. This is high-quality popcorn, clearly fresh. The Chipotle Caramel and Almonds was similar, though not quite as great. Black Truffle + White Cheddar got rave reviews from some folks for it’s rich flavor- even if it could have been a bit stronger. Pimentòn de La Vera was bright and garden-y, paprika and tomato, smoky and quite an odd sensation- it didn’t taste like any other popcorn. The only real disappointment was the Madras Curry Coconut with Cashews- too few cashews, and slightly bland, the coconut offering a nice smell but little else. Overall, everyone was impressed by the variety of flavors, and the classy style- a great gift, or treat for yourself. Our advice: sneak it into the movie theater and sneer at the folks eating the always-unsatisfying greasy stuff.
And if actually eating is what lets you down- knowing full well that the taste won’t live up to the scent, the texture to the flavor- we have you covered. Or, rather, Le Whif does. When we first heard about this, we were sure that it was a joke product- an April Fool’s day prank, or artist’s statement about society. And it does have a touch of the latter, since there is a Manga-illustrated book telling the (true) story of Le Laboratoire, the company behind the product, and the commercialization of aerosol-based foods. So, this is eating taking to the extreme of inhaling instead, enjoying the pure flavors, via a dark arts combination of art and science.
So, what is it? Basically, a plastic cylinder, about the size of a lipstick tube. Each tube has a chocolate colored section, and another section representing the flavor. You pull the sections apart (it can be difficult and non-obvious at first), then put the tube into your mouth and slowly breathe in through your mouth. The tube has a couple of holes, and a fine chocolate powder inside, and with each breath you inhale a bit of chocolate.
But not enough to give you any calories, apparently. Also, not enough to really satisfy- each tube lasts four breaths (according to them), or two breaths (according to us). The first time, you’re going to end up coughing, and it’s an odd sensation- a touch illicit, like you’re doing some high-end designer drugs. Trying this in public definitely gets attention, and trying to explain the idea can be difficult. Nonetheless, it’s fun- not pleasurable like the real thing, but kind of a zen version.
Le Whif is available in several flavors: mint chocolate, raspberry chocolate, mango chocolate, and plain chocolate, and the mint was particular well-suited to the task, serving as a nice wake-up breath of air. At about $2 a tube, and available in packs of 6, 12 or 24, it’s not going to replace Hershey’s, or better yet, Chuao. But it might just change the way you think about chocolate, and serve as an instant conversation starter or pickup line. Available online.