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還未到25歲的那個12月,我一個人去了紐西蘭流浪。那一兩年不太順心,有些難關要渡過。 去紐西蘭之前,我在悉尼停留了幾日,住在朋友家(以請晚餐來換宿,哈哈!),朋友在QVB station 買了一包透明保鮮紙式簡單包裝焦糖腰果,我一試難忘——實在太好吃,一次過把整包吃掉了。然後再專程去買。又一個人吃完,再買。驚為天人的是:焦糖是真-bitter-sweet苦中帶甜的焦糖,食下去幸福感油然而生。 我繼續我的backpack旅程,每見有人賣candy nuts都會買些來試試,試了七八款都比不上悉尼的一剎驚艷。念念不忘。 In the December before I turned 25 years old, I backpacked to New Zealand alone. That year was challenging, nothing good happened to me. Before I went to New Zealand, I stayed in Sydney for a few days at my friend's place, she bought a bag of caramel cashew at the QVB station. It was Unforgettable - it's so delicious, I finished the whole package in one go. I went to buy another pack, and another pack was finished very quickly, too. I returned to the store again and again. I was very pleasantly surprised by how good the cashews were: the caramel coating is truely bitter sweet (unlike any artificial caramel) and the cashew was fresh and delicious. It was the pure joy of tasting something heavenly. I continued my NZ backpack journey and in my trip, I bought every kind of candy nuts encourtered. I tried seven or eight of them, and none of them were as amazing as the one in Sydney. 回港後,我以為焦糖果仁製作不難,總會有人賣。等了好幾年都是尋不著,於是索性萌起自己動手的念頭。 原來焦糖煮來的確不難,有糖和熱力就可以;加一點肉桂,悉尼一模一樣的味道就回來了。但一天過後,在香港又熱又濕的室溫下,焦糖果仁變成糖漿包果仁。 這樣如何是好?獨樂樂不如眾樂樂。幸福是要與別人分享的! 心有不甘,我開始睇書上網研究不同糖的特性,連海外大學食物科學系的焦化論文我都買回來看。我一不想加人工味濃的蜂蜜粉,二不想添加可可脂(朱古力味同油味蓋過了焦糖味)。不停左試右試,終於改良到一個比較耐濕抗熱,味道偏差較細的焦糖食譜。 要成立一門生意比自家制作送給朋友難。要迎合不同人的口味,請不同朋友做A/B test,要揀選包裝,設計logo,思考巿場定位、宣傳及以為如何走下去,成立公司、設公司銀行戶口等等。準備的過程漫長;有問過自己為甚麼。 要賺錢,香港地遍地黃金,有更快更易的途徑。但當我再把焦糖腰果放入口時,熟悉的味道會令我記起初衷,記起24歲的自己,和那種食得到的幸福感。一切都變得值得。 After returning to Hong Kong, I thought candy nuts were not hard to make. I searched the market and waited for several years but was in vain. So, I have to make them myself. Caramel is indeed not science fiction. Just melting sugar in heat will do the magic. Sydney ones have a bit of cinnamon, but I prefer not to add the spice of it. All set. But after just one day in Hong Kong which is hot and humid, the caramel nuts became syrup-coated nuts. If I only consume them myself, I may have accepted their quality just the way they are - syrup-coated nuts. But if I want to share that pure heavenly joy I had in Sydney while consuming them with others, the path was a long way to go. I started to study the characteristics of different sugars online, and I did my research from academic food research journals on caramelization characteristics. I did my experiments too, while insisting not adding artificial honey powder nor cocoa butter (chocolate taste and oily taste ruin the caramel). I did not improving my caramel recipe until my tasty caramel nuts have better resistance to moisture and heat. It would be easier to just share with friends. (They will tell you your food is great anyway.) Turning it into a business, is another story. To cater to the tastes of different people, I did several A/B blind test among friends and 100 volunteers, to find out the best version of these nuts. I also had to choose packaging, design the logo, think of market positioning, publicity making, company set ups, etc. The preparation process was long; and sometimes in frustration I have asked myself why bother the fuss? To make money, there is always faster and easier way in Hong Kong. But when I put the caramel cashews into my mouth again, that familiar taste reminds me of my original intention, my heart at the age of 24, and pure joy or blissfuliness one can feel when a good food is tasted. And they worth all the hard work. --- 食物製造廠牌照號碼:2951815618