Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ritz Cracker Sandwich, Camembert and Black Pepper

Continuing along with my NapaJapan order reviews, we've got the first example of my cheese-based snacks. I loved Ritz Bits as a kid growing up in the USA, they were a snack time staple. Best of all, I was the only person in my family who loved them, so I had them all to myself. My personal favorite was the classic cheese. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure you can't find the Ritz sandwiches here in the UK, and there is no artificial cheese spread that has the same consistency as whatever the hell is in Ritz Bits...
So these crackers came from Japan, and the flavor is 'Black Pepper and Camembert'. There are only nine in a box, which would be a suitable snack for one person...but I split this, so I was still feeling peckish afterward. Again the illustrations on the box are so charming, there is just something about the color combinations and composite art that kind of lends the box a retro, 70s vibe.
The Ritz cracker looks exactly like every other Ritz cracker ever created, and the cheese is the same consistency as always--sort of disconcertingly similar to Oreo cream. It smells oddly spicy--not hot, more aromatic spices--and not so oddly cheesy. When I had a sandwich as they are intended to be eaten, cheesy innards crunched alongside the cracker, it tasted mostly like nutmeg and cream cheese. Very odd! When I split the two halves and ate them in the manner of an Oreo I got to the bottom of the nutmeg taste. For some reason these Ritz tasted like sweet nutmeg crackers, they don't have the same buttery and salty taste that traditional Ritz have. The cream by itself tastes strongly of black pepper and a milky, kind of delicate cheese. Confession... I totally thought camembert was a strong, stinky cheese. My husband is much more familiar with these sorts of things, and according to him it did taste like camembert with black pepper. I'll take his word for it and slink back to my Kraft singles.

These are definitely better eaten cleaved apart, and I think it would be an amazing snack if I could extract the peppery, mildly cheesy filling and put it into a classic Ritz...but as it stands, that cracker just isn't to my taste. I think a lot of it has to do with memory and nostalgia, the fact that it is a Ritz cracker sandwich, but not as I knew it, makes me dislike it rather than just think 'Huh, nice cracker!' I think if it was just a matter of a different filling, it wouldn't be an issue at all--probably because there are already lots of varieties of filling for Ritz, anyway.

Taking my emotional response out of it, the nutmeg actually goes kind of nicely with the cheese, reminds me a lot of cheese balls at parties, probably because of the subtle sweetness from the toasted nuts. When I was describing them to my husband he just looked more and more grossed out. Basically, it is a ball composed of real cheeses, fake cheeses, cream cheeses, rolled in nuts and served with crackers. To me it is a classic trashy American food, but it seems like it hasn't made the same jump that stuff like cheeseburgers, casseroles, pulled pork and chili cheese fries has.

Funny enough, the cracker most often paired with cheese balls? Ritz.


  1. Great review.. this is one of the things I was considering ordering from NapaJapan! And yes, cheese balls are fantastic despite how they sound :P

    1. Thank you! Glad you agree about cheese balls...I take the idea of a composite cheese product rolled in nuts for granted, but the look of horror on my husband's face told me that it had not made the Atlantic jump. I ought to make one sometime!