Cactus Chocolate

Cactus Chocolate

Here’s another slightly bonkers souvenir from Korea, which is full of fascinatingly ‘different’ things just begging to be sampled.

The cactus in this chocolate is from Jeju Island, which with its volcanic scenery and reputation for pure, organic produce, is a major tourist destination. Here, the cactus fruit is apparently freeze dried and powdered to retain all its natural goodness before being made into the filling for individually wrapped chocolate pieces.

As a single cactus fruit is supposed to contain almost a quarter of your daily vitamin C requirement, this could be the healthiest chocolate treat I have eaten, although as the packet of 5 pieces weighs in at 232 calories, it is not what you’d call a diet aid.

I admit, I was originally attracted as much by the packaging as the ingredients, because the bright purple of the cactus fruit in the illustration really caught my eye. As it turned out, the colour of the filling was more pink than purple, and the whole thing had a very odd and slightly fibrous texture. The flavour was hard to distinguish, and did not really remind me of the cactus fruit I have eaten fresh.

Daughter #2 thought they were weird but not unpleasant, which summed it up fairly well. She added: “I thought they might taste like tequila, but apparently not…”

These do not appear to be available in Singapore, but even if they were, I think trying them once was enough.

Jeju Volcanic Steam Towel

This looked like fun, a microfiber 3D towel from Innisfree, designed to steam your face and open up the pores before you then apply a face mask. (Preferably a volcanic clay one…)

In case you were wondering what a ‘3D’ towel is, that simply means it has been shaped and sewn into a contoured mask which fits neatly over your nose then curves around your cheeks. Amusing embroidered lids and lashes try to make you look more appealing as you are wearing it. (This is Korean, of course, so all about the cuteness as well as the efficiency of the product.)

The instructions tell you to wet the towel and microwave it for 20 seconds before placing it on your face for 5 minutes. If you have ever been offered a steaming hot hand towel in a restaurant, you will know exactly what that means – you have to toss it swiftly from hand to hand and shake it out a bit before you can use it without scalding your fingers.

Not wanting to burn my face, I may have wafted this about a bit too long, because it then went cold well before the 5 minutes were up.  But it was very refreshing and made my face feel soft and moisturised. I tried this out first thing in the morning, and did not actually use a face mask afterwards, although I probably will do that next time.

As the mask is made of towelling, you can wash it out and re-use it multiple times. Of course you could also achieve the exact same thing with a simple wash cloth, but it would not look half so cute…

Sparkling Mineral Powder

jeju 1 jeju 3 jeju 4

One of the main selling points of products from Korean firm Innisfree is that they are made from the natural plants and minerals of ‘pure’ Jeju Island.

This facial wash, which you mix together yourself before using, is ‘enriched with sparkling, thermal  mineral water’ from Jeju, with carbonated bubbles that ‘deliver moisture and brighten the skin’.

This all sounded fascinating, and I was keen to try it out. The packet contained 2 smaller sachets of powder, with the instructions to dissolve the first in 1.5 litres of water before stirring in the second. Packet 1 held a fine powder, packet 2 was similar but with a coarser grain. When mixed together, the result was a wild fizz of bubbles, see above right, which erupted again every time I stirred up the water with my hands onto my face.

Fairly entertaining, until it started going up my nose and into my eyes and mouth, at which point it became clear that the main ingredient was bicarbonate of soda. Still, I gave it my best shot, although putting my face underwater as suggested was not a particularly amusing experience and was swiftly curtailed. I was glad to be rinsing it all off with fresh water afterwards, and could not wait to get moisturiser and especially lipsil onto my suddenly super dry skin.

I must say, though, that my skin did seem brighter afterwards, and felt very soft, so – despite the temporary discomfort – this product might actually do what it says. Not bad for S$3.50.