The lure of the Choco Pie
So, I have returned from the land of the cantaloupe-flavoured Kit Kat (yes, really!), and I had a blast. Anyone who may be dissuaded from visiting Japan during the New Years Festivities and/or in mid-winter should be convinced otherwise. It's an excellent time to visit a wonderful country. Yes, a little chilly, but nothing 7 layers and your brother's borrowed snow-boarding jacket can't fix... :-) There's nothing like a bright red jacket on a tall, red-headed westerner to stand out on the Osaka streets! I felt like a member of a touring Ice Hockey team...
More Japan-related posts to come, but after only returning a few days ago I'm taking off this afternoon for a weekend in the country. Ok, so a holiday to Ballarat doesn't feel quite as exciting as 2 weeks in the Land of the Vending Machine Hot-Caffe Latte-In-A-Can (mmmmm!) but it will still be fun. We're performing in a festival there this weekend and staying in the same beautiful Victorian house as last year.
But in the meantime, I give you the what I believe to be one of the Great Wonders of Japanese food. Yes, you have your sushi and sashimi and sukiyaki and shabu-shabu...yes, yes, they're all good. But they pale into insignificance when compared with.....the Choco Pie.
Oooh, these are so good. For weeks before we left I spoke about them with a gleam in my eye. I discovered these at a convenience store in Tokyo a few years ago and have missed them ever since. If I could have fit more than 1 box in my luggage I would have brought back 100, but I'll just have to ration myself.
Made by the Lotte confectionary company, who are also responsible for the brilliantly named "Crunky" chocolate bar, these are deceptively simple little cakes. Description-wise, they are nothing special: a "chocolate-coated vanilla cream sandwich". Yeah, hmmm. Meh. But a Choco Pie is a text-book example of the whole being greater than its parts. The chocolate coating is a perfect balance between crisp shell and melty-to-the-finger goodness, the cake part is light and slightly crumbly, which acts as the perfect foil for the thick vanilla "cream". To bite through that crispy chocolate shell and get a mouthful of cake, cream and chocolate was a life-defining moment. Ok, so not really, but they are pretty damn good and I know I converted at least one of my friends.
This photo was taken at Lucas's house. There was a spare Choco-pie on the table and I decided to take a photo for you all...and of course I couldn't just take a photo of the wrapper, so I had to open it, and of course I needed to show you readers the filling, so of course I had to take a bite. And then suddenly it was all gone and the only evidence was the crumbs on my top lip. Mmmmmm....