Friday, 18 April 2014

Elizabeth Shaw Easter Egg - Flute Selection [By @Cinabar]

If you are having a search round for Easter eggs to buy for friends / family on Saturday, can I heartily recommend this fine example from Elizabeth Shaw. I was lucky enough to receive a review sample, so felt no guilt in opening this one early! Although I usually associate Elizabeth Shaw with mint, this particular egg has Orange and Amaretto goodies within it,

Inside the box was a very large chocolate egg and two boxes of flutes, flavoured chocolate sticks. The egg itself was really quite thick and took quite a bit of tapping to crack open. That is definitely one of the fun things about Easter, the art part of tapping (or indeed whacking) the egg hard enough to break, but ideally not loose any chocolate!

We shared the egg out and all thoroughly enjoyed it. I was impressed by just how thick the shell was, it was of good generous proportions. And a small piece seemed to go a long way. The milk chocolate was sweet and smooth and nice to munch on. The flutes are lovely too if you haven’t tried them. They are flavoured chocolate sticks, but inside the box is a card serving pack which when opened flutes out beautifully displaying the chocolates rather neatly.

I favoured the orange ones over the Amaretto, but that is just personal preference. The Amaretto ones had a good balance of flavour, with a nutty hint of marzipan mixing with the chocolate. The orange where sweeter and I liked the fresh citrus zesty taste. I do have a soft spot for chocolate orange. These are the kind of chocolates designed for sharing, but make you want to be selfish and keep them all to yourselves!!
I do hope the weekend brings you all plenty of chocolate, and a nice few days off work too. Let me know what sort of eggs you get, and which your favourites were. :-)
Have a great Easter everyone!!!
By Cinabar

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Bannisters' Farm Ready Baked Potatoes and Littl'uns [review by @NLi10]

Spuds. Most of them aren't very interesting (although some of them are Rockstars) and they are a staple of the British diet. Being somewhat of a contrarian I'm not a fan of potatoes, they take ages to cook and really only have the flavour of whatever you added to them.

This is why I turned the review of these frozen, ready baked potatoes down initially. I mean - it's a box of spuds, how exciting can that be!

When the invitation came a second time I had a closer look at the PR and figured that the worst that could happen is I'd get a free meal and a very short review that essentially said - it's spuds.

The main reason I decided to go for it was that the cooking times are short and comparable to pasta and noodles (which I live off unless someone intervenes and goes shopping with or for me). This means you have a reasonable window in which to craft something to go with your potatoes.

The frozen spuds are prebuttered and pre baked and even have a neat little cross on them to prevent exploding potato incidents.  We went for the large ones initially - one each.

While these were reheating I threw some left over veg and Thai curry paste at the wok pan and added a chopped up veggie sausage or three.  I figured this would be interesting enough to complement the spuds but not enough to overpower.

I added more butter to the potato because it was an automatic thing to do and we ate away. Firstly the potatoes smelt nicely roasted - for 8 or so mins in the microwave this was pretty good, and when I squeezed the cross they opened easily and were very soft.  Previous microwave potatoes have been pretty hard so they have this part sorted!

The flavour was similarly impressive with the roastness definitely shining through. I did wonder whether some of this was due to my generous helping of extra butter and the zingy curry that complemented it really well. 

When we made the smaller little uns potatoes the following week I had mine without extras (just a side of baked beans) and found them solid enough but I preferred them with the extras. Not quite the full richness of oven roast potatoes but definitely nice enough to stash away in the freezer for a quick and filling treat.

I'm sure the mini baked potatoes were supposed to be eaten one at a time but we had two which was a large portion.  With a more substantial side of veg or meat as part of a healthier meal though I think I'd have been happy with just the one.

Overall a surprising win for the box of frozen spuds. Not so much one for the fortnightly shop, but something to keep with the frozen pizza for a simple effective meal good enough for guests.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Cake Pops (@Cakecetera) [By @Cinabar]

Put the cupcake down, something new and exciting has entered the baking world, the Cake Pop. I am always quite excited about new things, or indeed novel ones, so when the lovely folks at Cake-Cetera asked if I wanted to try their Cake Pops, I couldn’t say no.
Firstly the cake delivery system, aka the plastic casing that makes the cake pops, does have a fun feel to them, but it also means that if you are ordering them online they come in a protective case so they travel well. Ours also came beautifully wrapped up in pink paper and ribbon.
Once they arrived all you do is pop the lid off, and then slowly push at the base to reveal the cake! There is still a technique to eating these, as they are delicate, but wow you can’t help but smile when you give one a go! None of the taste testers had any problem, they just felt like you had to be cautious and not push too much cake up at once.
We were given three flavours to try, vanilla, strawberry and lemon. The strawberry was decorated with sprinkles, and had a lovely sweet fruity taste. It was fairly strong, but not so much that you couldn’t pick up on the sponge flavour. You end up starting with the topping and working your way down through the layers in order to eat one. The icing was soft and creamy in texture and the sponge fresh and moist.
I was particularly impressed by the vanilla version. The flavour was really well defined, and this was very much a vanilla base and not just ‘plain’. It also had multicoloured birthday sprinkles on top, to make it look rather pretty.The lemon version was fresh and zingy. More on the side of sweet than sharp, but a delightfully fruity and zesty flavour.
As adults we loved these, and if they lit our faces up I can only imagine the love they’d get at a children’s birthday party!
Available at:
By Cinabar

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Gran Luchito Mayo (@Luchito_Mexico) [By @SpectreUK]

Produced by The Heirloom Sauce Company this Gran Luchito Mayo was very kindly sent to us with some other goodies for me to try. The recipe is originally from Cocina Oaxaca City in Mexico. Please excuse my ignorance, but I'd never heard of Gran Luchito until I first saw this mayonnaise and quickly found out from the internet that it is a smoky Mexican chilli paste. I decided to give Gran Luchito Mayo a try on a big fat burger with chunky potato wedges on the side.

On opening the jar I found that this mayonnaise was a pinkish colour, with a few small dark bits mixed within it, which I figured were small pieces of chilli. I heaped a big pink dollop on my burger and another slightly larger pink blob next to my potato wedges. The Gran Luchito Mayo had a smoky fiery chilli taste mixed with a mild rapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar flavour. This mayonnaise had a good medium hot chilli heat to it. I thought this Gran Luchito Mayo was very tasty with its smoky chilli and slightly sour mayonnaise flavour. It went equally well with both the burger and the potato wedges dipped in it. I couldn't help slopping on as much of this mayonnaise as I could get onto each potato wedge. I went back to the jar for several more pink blobbed servings too. I had a sweaty nose and my tongue was tingling pleasurably with the chilli heat. The Gran Luchito added a smokiness and chilli burn to the burger, whilst the mild sour mayonnaise flavour completed its lettuce dressing. I look forward to eating the rest of this Gran Luchito Mayo on another burger with chips in the future. This smoky chilli mayonnaise definitely has a thumbs up from me!

Information on the label;
Made with rare smoked Mexican chillies and free range eggs. The label recommends you try this Gran Luchito Mayo spread on hot toast with chopped ripe avocado (not keen on avocado though!) and a poached egg (prefer fried eggs!). See photograph for ingredients.
For stockists see:
By Spectre

Monday, 14 April 2014

McCoys Ultimate Chargrilled Steak & Peri Peri Crisps (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

If you like crisps with flavour the new range from McCoys is really going to get your attention. The crisps have very deep ridges, to collect lots of flavour, and they have been seasoned twice to really add a special taste sensation! The new range is available in big sharing bags, perfect for a night in with a movie and to share with friends. I spotted these new crisps online on the Tesco site and also added the two other new flavours to our shop; Sea Salt + Black Pepper and Sizzling BBQ Chicken. It was Spectres choice to go for these steak ones first!
Once the bag was opened the initial aroma was very much that of steak, they smelt beefy with a hint of barbecue too. I couldn’t pick up on much peri peri in the aroma, so had to wait and see on that one. The ridges looked very thick and the seasoning on them looked dark with flavour, so I couldn't wait to tuck in.
The crunch was lovely, the thick ridges meant they were quite satisfying to munch on, without them being to tough or sharp. The best part was the flavour, they had this fab steak taste, with the almost smokey chargrilled flavour following next. Just when your tastebuds are full appreciating the meatiness of the seasoning, there is a gentle tingle of warmth that starts to develop. A few seconds later and the chilli flavour hits full power and the warmth has become full on peri peri goodness! Wow they had a good kick, which combined with the rich meatiness made them ever so moreish! They might be designed for sharing but they are the kind of crisps you’ll end up fighting over! I seriously can’t wait to try the Sizzling BBQ Chicken ones next!
By Cinabar

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Borgat Cotton Candy, Strawberry & Apple [review by @NLi10]

I got sent these odd little packages a while ago by a PR firm.  As I hadn't had candy floss in a very long time I jumped at the chance, but made sure that I took my time reviewing it so I could share it with it's target audience of young people.  While this was useful, their main contribution was that they would like more...

There are two flavours here, strawberry and apple.  I've never had apple candy floss before so I saved that one for second.  Turns out the strawberry here is a lot more strongly flavoured than anything I had in my childhood.  I guess the fun-fair isn't expecting you to make repeat purchases so scrimp on the flavours.  Not so here - opening the bag gives a massive hit of an enticing sweet smell and the contents are surprisingly fluffy and pull apart with much satisfaction.

It's not as light and airy as the stuff on a stick - in fact I suspect that one little bag is about the same as a stick load.  I'd always wondered why the bags at the fun fair were so big and airy, but I think that this is more the consistency of insulation, but a lot more edible.  For your 50p entry cost you get a genuinely fun bag that does take a bit of eating for a grown-up.

The apple flavour is similar, it has the strong smell, the sweet and tingly flavour and really doesn't seem to go down as fast as you'd expect.  I'd suggest that you try to eat it all in a day or so - I came back to a bag that had been opened and then carried around and it was more of a dusty sugar than a candy floss.  (or Cotton candy as the bag so Americanly calls it...)

I shared the bags out with teenagers, children and toddlers and while not all were forthcoming with feed back (mainly due to having to save the sweets til after dinner) they all quite liked it.  When pressed with which flavour our youngest reviewer preferred she didn't really say - but did choose to keep the strawberry bag and not the apple one when offered both.

Cheaper than a trip to the funfair, and almost perfect for children's birthday parties due to it's price, package and everlasting nature I can recommend this for the under 10s.  The teenagers seemed less enthralled, but did eat some. I liked it but didn't need a whole bag to myself.

Given the choice I'd take some of the apple one, but only because I've had that less - they are both equally nice.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Goody Good Stuff (Degusta Box) [By @SpectreUK]

I'm a big fan of gummy sweets. I'm a big kid at heart, I know, but when I was an actual kid I didn't care how many E-numbers there were in the sweets or if they had real fruit in them. Now as a child-adult with a big tummy this concept means a lot to me. Gummy sweets with real fruit in them not only taste more natural, but are actually better for you. Just ask Rowntrees! So when Cinabar asked me to review these Goody Good Stuff gummies with real fruit in them I jumped at the chance. Being gelatine free vegetarian friendly, fat free tummy-size friendly, diary free for lactose intolerant friendly, gluten free for gluten intolerant friendliness, and with all natural colours and flavours, these gummy sweets were very friendly indeed!

Tropical Fruit

On tearing opening the packet I first noticed the shapes of the gummies of various fruits which were of relevant colours to those fruits. There were an uneven amount of shapes, but this isn't anything unusual where gummy sweets are concerned. There were certainly lots of red, but there were indeed two shapes of red. The gummies were quite sticky, but not stuck fast together and pulled apart quite easily. The first of the reds I tasted was raspberry shaped and flavoured, the second red being strawberry shaped and flavoured. The orange was the shape of a wedge of natural orange, and tasted almost as such, whereas the yellow was shaped like a banana, and had a sweet banana flavour. The green shape confused me at first because it was a palm tree shape, which ended up being a sweet kiwi flavour, whereas the white colour was a lovely pineapple flavour. These gummies certainly tasted like the fruits their shapes and colours were meant to be representing.They were very naturally tasty, but the taste was slightly over shadowed by the carnauba wax that covered them and asides the kiwi, they didn't scream "Tropical" at me at any point, which I guess would be more unusual and flavoursome fruits such as passionfruit and guava. My fingers were very sticky after eating these gummies. Still they felt very healthy and flavoursome, and I would have them again.

Information on the packet;
100g packet, with 8 gummies at 30g having 99 calories and 18g of sugar (they are sweets after all!). Ingredients in the photograph.

Sour Mix & Match

These gummies were bottle shaped half one colour half another and covered in sour sugar. They were available in three different mixed flavours. White and green were kiwi and apple flavours combined, giving a mainly sour tangy apple flavour. I found these greenies the least sour in the packet. White and light red were the second most sour, which was an amalgamation of elderberry and black currant flavour. Their sour taste was almost floral, but not in an unpleasant Turkish Delight sort of way. I know, I'm sure some else out there likes Turkish Delight as well as Cinabar and her mom. White and orange were lemon and orange, which ended up as a sort of sour apricot flavour. I found these orangey gummies the most sour in the packet. All these gummies were soft to eat, and were nice and sour. I found the white and orange flavour gummies a little face twisty, and the other flavours very nice and moreish. I would have these again, but Maynard's Sour gummies will give you a harder face twisty kick if you're looking for a wake-me-up!

Information on the packet;
100g packet, with 8 gummies at 30g having 99 calories and 19g of sugar. Ingredients in the photograph.

By Spectre