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CHOCOLATE RESURRECTION
One of the things I really miss about the time we spent in Belgium when I was a teenager was the food. Not everything, of course, but it was our first experience with European cuisine and I'm sure any Belgian and Dutch friends of mine will be horrified to hear how much I miss frikandels. It's a taste I can still conjure up in my head. Mmmmmmmm! I still eat mayo with my french fries pommes frites whenever I can. Ketchup is for you vulgar Americans who don't know any better.

I missed Napoleon lemon balls too, for years, until I moved to Sweden and a few years ago, they started appearing in some of the specialty candy stores. Yay! They were the best lemon balls in the world. Just the right amount of sour and a special kick of soury lemon powder goodness once you reached the center. And they even come in other flavors now!

But what I missed most was Callebaut candy bars. My mom discovered these, and oh how we loved them. I am surprised now, actually, because they were dark chocolate, and I didn't care for dark chocolate until well into adulthood, but I have very fond memories of the filled candy bars, filled with various delicious flavors. The pistachio was divine, and the strawberry not far behind. We didn't get them that often, but o! the joy when we did.

Then we moved back to the States and Callebaut candy bars became but a memory. You COULD find Callebaut in the US, but it was only the bars of baking chocolate, not the yummy yummy filled candy bars. Sigh.

I've found them twice in the 18 years since I moved to Sweden...both times in the Amsterdam airport.

Imagine my horror when I heard last year that Callebaut (now Barry Callebaut) had stopped making the candy bars some time ago. They apparently decided to concentrate on their core business: industrial chocolate for companies like Nestlé. That explained why I never found them in any chocolate shop among the imports or in the Amsterdam airport anymore.

For Christmas, Anders is in charge of filling my stocking. I take care of his and both the kids, but I think it's only fair that he has to make the effort. :) He always does a good job, too, and in the past couple of years has employed Karin's shopping instincts to help him find the perfect items. This year, he outdid himself.

One of the first gifts I unwrapped from my stocking on Christmas morning was a banana chocolate bar...in exactly the same kind of packaging that Callebaut bars used to come in, though the name on it was new to me: Jacques. And a little later on, a pistachio bar (!) and then 6 small vanilla raisin bars! O JOY!

He has a Belgian colleague and at some point, mentioned my love of the Callebaut candy bars and sadness that they were no longer available. His coworker told him that they were! The business had been bought by a different Belgian chocolate company and they were now manufactured under a new name. He brought a pile back from a trip home for Anders to give to me!

And if I hadn't been leaving THAT day for the States, he would have brought back frikandels for us, too! (they couldn't be refrozen, so Anders opted not to have him bring them) Here's hoping he'll manage to get those to Sweden at some point in the near future and maybe some more of the candy bars, since my pistachio bar is a quarter half gone. Mmmmmmmmm
 happy
mood: happy
music: Sia—Chandelier


Comments

Oh I do love a story like that.

Two things...

First off, that you don't have to fill your own stocking!
I got fed up with that when the kids all got of a certain age. I would pass out stocking stuffer money and everybody was to buy for every body.
I only found out this past year that the tiny stuffed teddy bear (I call her Fuzzy) that was in my stocking about 10 or 15 years ago was put there by Autumn. Fuzzy lives on my bed and travels with me. Fuzzy has been tear soaked and cuddled by many family members.

Ok, back to second thing, HURRAY for the candy bars. What a wonderful moral lifter among other delights, it is to find an old "love" still exists, and even more delightful to have some.
That said, Brieana and I used to love a spicy cocoa mix that was discontinued, so this year I made my own spicy cocoa mix (lots of taste testing involved) to give as Christmas gifts.

I like your stocking solution!

Liz, I LOVE frikandels, which is something I fondly remember from childhood (along with the carb and fat bomb that is oliebollen every NYE). I hadn't thought about them in years and I don't think I've seen them here in Sweden. I remember searching in vain for my beloved rookworst as well to no avail. But I'll be happy to help you out with the frikandels if you get stuck with too many to handle. Nom, nom!

I'm afraid that I've been infected by the Australians as far as pommes frites go and have them liberally doused in salt and malt vinegar, much to the amusement of the ketchup loving Swedes :-) I once asked for vinegar at a restaurant here and they only had white vinegar and only in huge 5 litre containers in the kitchen. I asked them to pour out a bit into a glass for me. They brought it in a shot glass and you should have seen the look of shock on the faces of the couple at the next table as I took my glass of what I guess looked like vodka and poured it over my chips :-)

Someone should nominate Anders for sainthood! Is there any way he could be more perfect? What a loving thought to search high and low for something extra special for your Christmas stocking. You must be feeling extra loved. ♥ ♥

We had oliebollen last time we were in the Netherlands: YUM. Rookworst is a new one to me, though.

I first had vinegar on french fries in the US at Cedar Point amusement park when I was in college. They served it with vinegar and celery salt and it was SO good.

Rookworst is a lovely smoked, spicy sausage, which I've never seen in Sweden. I'd have thought the Swedes would love it (surely anything is better than falukorv!) My favourite way of having it was when my oma would make zuurkool (a kind of sauerkraut), boiled potatoes and a thick gravy made with chopped bacon pieces. The rookwurst is added to the potatoes as they cook (it only needs re-heating for about 10 minutes), then you slice it and have it on top of the zuurkool, with potatoes and smothered in rich gravy. It's pure comfort food for me.

I'm glad to hear that you also like salt and vinegar on your fries chips. Usually when I mention it, most Americans screw up their nose.

Last year I made my 16-year old daughter come stocking-shopping with me and apparently I destroyed all the magic for her. Huh! Well I know we have always insisted that Santa really does visit on Christmas night, but I feel she should be ready and prepared to propagate that story for years to come! :-)
Glad you found your lovely chocolate treats. What a nice surprise!

The kids wouldn't go to bed at a reasonable hour this year, so Anders and I gave up and went in and wrapped stocking stuffers and then put the stockings under the tree while they were still awake and in the living room. "Hey!" yelled Karin, "You're RUINING Christmas!"

Ha! Serves you right for not going to bed on time so Santa could get his work done without getting caught!

Exactly!!

(Anonymous)
From Megsie

You are so lucky! You are lucky that Anders knows those little things about you that can be the BIGGEST presents. AND you are so lucky that something that you thought was lost was still around! YAY!

I tried baking oatmeal raisin cookies for Jeff for Christmas. He has been searching for his mom's recipe for years, and since she is pretty much non-verbal because of Alzheimer's we can't ask her. He did ask her several years ago, but at that point she was too far gone to find the recipe.

When I was searching through my recipe box I found a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies written in her handwriting, and was hopeful that they were the right ones. Turns out they weren't. :( I was bummed.

And french fries were made for ketchup. AND seasoned sour cream. Yum.

Re: From Megsie

What a bummer that the recipe you found (in her writing!) wasn't the right one. That would have bummed me out, too. But sometimes, you know, memory can be a tricky thing.

Seasoned sour cream? Homemade? Do tell!

(Anonymous)

SO wonderful that you found those candy bars again. I was in London, Canada several + years ago with Grandma (we went to a concert and spent the night there) - so before we left I drove through the downtown area- and spotted a small house (store) with the sign "Callebaut" on top of it -of course, I did a u-turn. It was a delight of a candy store - memories of Belgium - and I bought as much as I could afford. Sadly, haven't been back to see if it is still there, but they told me there were similar stores in NY,Chicago and California. Recently, a friend who bakes told me that chocolate is only good for about 2 weeks -so maybe that's why I thought the Belgium's had the best -since it was always freshly made. Love, Lizardmom

Well, now you know you can search for Jacques when you go through Canada and maybe find them, even in the US! I was thrilled. :) And the pistachio bar tasted JUST as good as I remembered.

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