09 June 2008

Review: Hermitage Big Sur Fruitcake

I ordered a 3 pound (!) loaf from the Hermitage Big Sur Bakery, associated with the New Camaldoli Hermitage, for the total cost of $38.91 with shipping. The packaging is quite eco-friendly looking and no tins are available:

And here’s a look at the loaf itself—unassuming and hefty, though not very elegant:

I believe they do a final dip into brandy before they ship it to you—it was very moist when it arrived, but has been getting less so as I’ve had it in my fridge. Let me tell you, three pounds is a lot to get through—I’ve had a few pieces but the rest are in the freezer.

This is a very good fruitcake, but there’s something in it that’s not my favorite. I may have identified the two culprits—raisins and walnuts. I’m not a big fan of raisins—I don’t like the sweet, grapey flavor that they add to, well, frankly, any dish they’re put into. Walnuts are a fine nut for eating, but they are a little bitter and although I don’t mind them in a cookie, I prefer pecans in my fruitcake.

That being said, if you don’t mind either of these, you’ll like this fruitcake. Ingredients include the standard “fruit mix,” as defined in the ingredients as cherries, pineapple, and citrus peels. There are margarine and vegetable gums but nothing else too bad in the ingredients, and on the good side, there are two alcohols listed—wine and brandy.

There are dates in this cake, which I normally like, but I think they are overpowered by the raisin flavor. The fruit was in pretty large chunks, and there was (yay!) a pronounced alcohol flavor to the cake. As mentioned earlier, it was very moist when I first received it, which was nice.

Let’s talk about a flavor in this cake that I call “burnt.” I think what I might be tasting is carmelization of the raisins in the batter. I checked the last two posts where I mention this burnt element, and both cakes contain raisins. It’s not my favorite flavor in a fruitcake, but apparently it’s not so off-putting that I’ve stopped eating the cake.

So in conclusion, this is not the most elegant cake I’ve purchased—it doesn’t come in a tin, and it’s a loaf, not round, shape. But it’s a nice, large, moist loaf with a very good flavor--if you don’t mind raisins--and I’d say it’s a good value.

08 June 2008

Coming soon -- Swiss fruitcake!!

No, the last fruitcake didn't kill me--I've just been pretty busy preparing for a trip. I'm posting from the Zurich airport right now, and I have two cute little fruitcake type things I bought here in Switzerland nestled in my luggage right now. When I get back and get settled I have the previous fruitcake to review, then will talk a bit about these two. Fruitcakes aren't hard to find in Switzerland, evidently--certainly not in the Germanic part. It's part of their heritage, you know. I certainly wasn't seeking them out, I just happened upon them. At any rate, will post again soon. Tschuss!!