Thursday, December 09, 2010

Return of the Ritter Sport ratings

Ah, it's a great excuse to go to Germany at least twice a year. Ritter religiously bring out summer and winter varieties; so here they are, in all their glory. (The summer varieties, along with another three new ones, were evaluated while I was on my way back from Romania, and I transcribe here from my travel journal; the three winter varieties were sampled when I was in Berlin giving a talk.)

Raisin & Cashew: 6/10
Given my current cashew-nut obsession, it pains me to give this one a low-ish mark. The problem's not that there's anything wrong with it - just that it pales in comparison to what it could have been. Ritter have gone for a fairly traditional fruit & nut combo, which goes down easily enough; too easily, really. Cashews aren't the crunchiest of nut, and here they're chopped extremely finely, with the risk that they are overwhelmed entirely by the fairly rich Ritter milk chocolate and raisins in some mouthfuls. I'd have preferred larger chunks and, for that mater, a more adventurous recipe: cashews and caramel, for example, or cashews and some sort of liqueur/liquor. Still, this one was a pleasant enough eating experience and left a fine taste in the back of my mouth. Never going to be a favourite, but this was definitely worth a try.

Caramel & Nut: 9/10
My goodness, Ritter, you really can pull it off. This one was magnificent - the flavours and textures of the standard milk chocolate, the dry caramel and the crispy nuts all blend together like magic upon contact with your tongue. It's a long time since I did the bulk of the ratings, but I'd be hard pressed to say that this isn't the best variety I've ever tasted. Then again, I have been subsisting on dried bread and cashew nuts for the last few days. Whatever the case, this is a top-class variety that I couldn't bring myself to take my time over. Not too sweet - a bit salty.

Milk & White Chocolate: 6.5/10
I expected this one to taste like a Kinder egg, and for once with a Ritter Sport I got exactly what I was expecting. Very sweet and cloying; dark mixed with white would have produced a more interesting contrast, even visually, and the look of this one from above is its biggest selling point. Problem is, I'm just not that much of a fan of white chocolate given the choice. Oh well - at least it doesn't kill me like it does David. Overall, not terrible, but nor is it a real pleasure to eat like so many other varieties.

Stracciatella: 7/10
As a massive stracciatella ice cream fan I couldn't turn this one down - it's one of their three summer varieties for 2010. They've done a good job of recreating the refreshing taste, but it didn't quite have the bite of the ice cream version, of course. The contrast between dark and light, between the freezing, melting cream and the rich, unyielding shards of chocolate, just can't be translated. The vanilla cream eventually becomes tiresome, too. Yet for all that, it's worth it just to get the initial shock of recognition. A success, even if not destined to take off as a chocolate variety.

Fruits of the Forest & Yoghurt: 7.5/10
Ate this one while wandering around the grounds of Osborne House, Queen Victoria's favourite house. Very acidic, flavoursome fruit filling, and the yoghurt is well done, although I've long since forgiven Ritter for having a yoghurt filling that doesn't taste like yoghurt, since it's basically impossible. The fruit goes well with the chocolate; dark chocolate may have made this one even better, though, just for the contrast factor. That thought prevents me from giving this a top rating, but it scores highly nonetheless.

Peach & Passionfruit: 7.5/10
Coated in white chocolate and with a crunch that presumably has nothing to do with peach or passionfruit, this was a surprisingly enjoyable eat. The fruity flavours were sharp enough to offset the more mellow sweetness of the white chocolate, and the passionfruit was very genuine and dominant (called 'Maracuja' in German). Not really a complaint to be made against this variety; it's not my favourite of flavours, but the execution of the concept is perfect.

Orange & Marzipan: 8/10
Not 'delicious', but close enough to warrant an 8. Certainly there's not much to criticise in this intriguing balance of flavours: the sharp, insubstantial orange flavour contrasts deliciously with the weightier taste (and texture) of the marzipan. Oops, did I say 'deliciously'? I meant 'almost-deliciously'. In this battle of the big hitters it's the chocolate that loses out, if anything, but its creamy texture still provides the frame for the whole experience.

Nut in Nougat Cream: 5.5/10
Boring. I feel like I've eaten this one before. Not bad, just boring.

Vanilla Cookie: 7/10
Tasty. Crunchy bits of cookie with a vanilla flavour in milk chocolate. Went down a treat - the pieces of cookie were large enough to give one pause for thought, so texturally a success as well as in terms of taste. Perhaps not a particularly adventurous variety, but it beats all those variants with different types of nut in them, and I certainly wasn't expecting it. Bring back the legendary Baileys flavour or the Smarties, though - the possibilities are endless!