Saturday, 6 February 2016

Shepherd Neame Double Stout (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

Shepherd Neame in Faversham, Kent, is Britain's oldest brewery and was established in 1698. I felt like I was stepping into history when I picked up this bottle in the local supermarket. Even the design of the label looked steeped in tradition. The recipe for this Double Stout was found deep in the vaults and brought back to life through brewing the ingredients in Britain's last remaining wooden mash tuns. I can just imagine some young apprentice being sent down into the depths of the brewery's vaults to tidy, and sweeping through dust laden parchment the recipe for this Double Stout was found. It was then made with pale ale, roasted crystal, and chocolate malts, kilned roasted barley, and polished off for bitterness from the finest East Kent hops.

I was half expecting the distant sound of monks chanting when I opened the bottle. The chocolate and sweet crystal malts stood out in the aroma as I poured the jet black stout into my overexcited beer mug, there was also a hint of hops at the end of the smell. This stout is probably one of the strongest most flavoursome stouts I've ever tasted. The sweet chocolatey smell had lulled my tastebuds into a false sense of security. From first sip there was a blast of sheer bitterness akin to being run over by an 'espresso train', but more like a ristretto with three mischievous giggling malts in the background, whilst Winston Churchill blows smoke from a massive Cuban cigar up your nose. This is one of those stouts to be savoured by real hardy folk on dark cold stormy nights possibly with beards (possibly not, as I can't grow one and neither can Cinabar, although she wouldn't drink it anyway...), after a hard days scrapping and then cleaning the blood off their swords and shields. It should certainly not be guzzled to find new ways to get dizzy with its 5.2% volume. Steeped in tradition it might be old, but definitely not old hat, but I'd recommend a hard hat when drinking nonetheless!
By Spectre

Friday, 5 February 2016

Love Bug + Honey Bee Doughnuts (@KrispyKremeUK Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

Spectre spotted these new Krispy Kreme Valentines Love Bug and Honey Bee Doughnuts in a branch of Tesco we had stopped at on the way back from a spa break. They were so cute they caught our attention and we ended up buying some (well several because we "needed" to fill the large box).

Love Bug
The first one we tried was the cute looking ladybird style doughnut. The doughnut is heart shaped, and decorated in a raspberry icing. My first bite caught both the icing and the cream filling. I discovered that the filling was rather like strawberries and cream, as it was a milky strawberry mousse. It had a good fruity flavour, and the mix of berries and cream worked very well. A totally yummy doughnut.

Honey Bee
My first bite here only had the soft doughnut sponge and the icing, and I had a lovely hit of vanilla. I couldn't help thinking the icing should have been honey flavoured, if you are going to make a bee shape and call it a Honey Bee, you'd think it would be honey flavoured somewhere along the way. The filling was a beautiful rich thick chocolate, which overpowered the vanilla icing a fair bit, but still tasted good. Don't get me wrong it is a fab chocolate and vanilla flavour, and again was a very enjoyable tasty treat.

The Krispy Kreme Valentines Love Bug and Honey Bee Doughnuts are available until 21st February, so get them while you can. Certainly a sweet Valentines gift, just make sure whoever you are getting them for will share. ;-)
By Cinabar

Thursday, 4 February 2016

UAB Urban Apples Cider (by @NLi10) @TheLordClifden

It really looks innocent enough, cartoon copyright ignoring art depicting several things at once.  Although as they poured it I was reminded of the effects of the little red apple on Snow White and the sudden need for handsome Prince Charming and lots of little people.

It certainly looked like something that would be brought over by an innocent looking old lady while cackling (instead of the great, chatty bar staff at The Lord Clifden).

It has an aroma that seems to be a mix of apples and petrol. I'm sure you could use this as an eco-fuel.  As I barely drink these days (but do enjoy a good cider now and then) I went for a half, then followed that up with a huge Banksy burger.

The taste was more palatable. Not as apple based as I'd hoped, but a decent mix of scrumpy and cider so that you feel that it's acceptable to drink in a small glass, but also acceptable to drink in public.

I'm sure this will still be around come the summer so maybe then I'll drink enough to require rescuing, but tonight I am still standing.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Vegesentials: Beetroot, Pomegranate and Carrot (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

I can't claim on trying out a health food fad since the New Year, as although I've been to the gym today and done some weights and the usual cycle to no where, I have had a sizeable bar of chocolate for pudding after a burger and chips, and I fully intend to have a beer later this evening. Having said that, I thought I'd try and make myself feel better in the meantime with this Vegesentials Beetroot, Pomegranate and Carrot flavour juice drink. It sounded so weird in the store I just had to pick it up. Pomegranate sounds okay as an ingredient, so does carrot, I suppose, but I've never been keen on beetroot juice. I couldn't see how the overpowering earthy flavour of beetroot could be overshadowed by the other two flavours. The science behind the drink also confused me a little. I'm sure NLi10 would fill me in on the biological knowhow of this drink and whether it really does help with "blood pressure, immune system, skin, and muscular function" as it claims to on the label. I suspect the workout I did earlier probably helped more. It certainly helped to calm me down after a rather rotten day at work. It also states on the label that this drink is half fruit and half veg, but it has three outstanding ingredients and two of those are veg, so I'm not quite sure where to go from there...

Anyway, after a good shake and a deep apprehensive breath I opened the bottle. First smell yielded only beetroot, which I was quite surprised at been as though I'd noticed banana was also in the ingredients and that usually overshadows any other ingredient. There was an initial punch from the beetroot to start with which smoothed out very quickly with a mixture of pomegranate and sweet pear, there was also carrot in the flavour too, but fortunately no banana. The flavour went full circle ending in an aftertaste of fruity sweet earthy beetroot. A bizarre blend of flavours and actually not completely unpleasant. If I wanted to try a detox health food fad then I'm sure a drink like this would be something someone would mention to me in passing, possibly followed by a snigger. Having said that, I'll just go and get my beer...

Information on the label;
250ml bottle has 115 calories, 0.3g of fat, 75mg of salt, and 23g of sugar. Ingredients included; carrot, beetroot, banana (oh, no!), pear, Apple, parsnip, watermelon, pomegranate, and spinach... Try getting "half fruit and half veg" out of that lot!
By Spectre

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Muller Limited Edition Light Peanut & Caramel Flavour Yoghurt (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

One of my favourite things is peanut butter, specifically when coupled with something sweet, usually chocolate but I'm happy with jam too. When I heard that Muller were bringing out a Light Peanut and Caramel yoghurt I thought it had the potential to be my new favourite. Also as it is a light version I thought it might be a nice treat after a meal, in place of a naughtier pudding. Fat free and just 99 calories per pot.

I pulled back the lid and found a very pale brown/orange coloured thick yoghurt, which looked far more appetising than my description! I gave it a taste test and It was pleasant, but lacking something. There was a sort of peanut flavour, which went well with the caramel sweetness and the creamy finish, it was nice, but not inspirational. I took another spoonful and just couldn't work out why I wasn't loving it the way that I should. I decided it didn't have the right amount of peanut, it was sweet without that nutty kick I was expecting. I wanted the full on rich peanut butter topped with oozings of caramel sauce flavour, but the focus was more on the caramel. A quick nosey at the ingredients and I couldn't find any nuts in the pot. I'm not sure why they do this, it isn't the first no nuts nutty product I've tried. I can't decide if it is to make a safer environment for the other food products they sell for nut allergy suffers or simply because it is cheaper, I'd suspect it is a combination of the two factors. Sadly though it leaves this yoghurt missing the mark for me.
By Cinabar

Monday, 1 February 2016

Pistachio & Rose Mocha (@StarbucksUK) [By @Cinabar]

I like flavoured coffees, I have selection of syrups at home such as vanilla and caramel. We can usually find gingerbread lattes at christmas but Starbucks have gone an exciting step further forward with their new creation for Valentines.
The new drink is a Pistachio and Rose Mocha, which sounds like quite a complicated set of flavours. The drink isn’t openly available to all yet, you need to have downloaded the app, and be in the know, in order to try it early. I ordered my drink, and paid using the app, but when she called my drinks she said; “hot chocolate and… err… the other flavoured mocha” which made me smile, and made me feel like I was in a secret club. I’m easily amused. It launches properly on Valentine's Day.
The drink is a mocha which is half hot chocolate and half coffee, in this is mixed a Pistachio and Rose syrup, it is then served with a swirl of pale pink rose scented cream with chopped green pistachio nuts sprinkled on top.
The drink looked pretty, with its delicate pastel colours topping the flavoured mocha. I gave it a bit of a taste test and discovered that the mix of flavours came together nicely. I started by tasting the cream on top of the drink, and it had a slight hint of sweet rose, but a gentle flavour. The nuts on top were firm but not hard and the addition of the nutty taste was very pleasant.
The rose in the syrup, combined with the chocolate in the Mocha and gave the drink an air of Turkish Delight, the floral rose and sweet chocolate being the highlight of the drink. The aftertaste reminded me frangipane, which I think is because of the combination of sweetened nut in the syrup. I enjoyed the drink far more than I expected too, and I would happily have another. Somehow all of those ingredients have nice complex tastes that complement each other well.
The only negative element of the drink was that the pistachio bits from the topping. Some of them ended up in the drink as the cream melted, and that meant some sips ended up withs a bitty pistachio piece. My advice is to spoon these off and eat with the cream before you begin. If you want to try the new drink before its Valentine’s day launch, ask nicely in your local Starbucks. It is certainly worth it for Turkish Delight fans.
By Cinabar

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Polish goodies - Zlate & Halva (by @NLi10)

I recently went on holiday to Wales.  All the goodies I brought back were savoury and non sharing items, so consequently I went to my local Polish shop to pick up holiday goods.  They had lots of things I'd seen before and not picked up so I went for this Zlate range - then added a Halva as I needed to get to £5 to pay by card!

The little ones at the front centre are essentially tiny versions of Leibniz style biscuit and choc. They aren't that buttery and like all of this range are less dense than I'd expect.  A nice little snack but not something I'd actively crave.

The Koka at the back are small mixtures of choc and coconut in the rock cake style of biscuit.  These are very edible and light, and going own surprisingly well.  They clearly come in a box as in a bag they would just disintegrate in transit.  Worth exploring the range but not stellar.

The Venecky are the star. I'd expected these to be jam rings, but they are actually just a round biscuit version of a lemon drizzle cake.  These are the stand out star, but the aftertaste is a little similar to the Jiff lemon thing you pop on pancakes and is a touch odd.  Nevertheless I'll pick up more of these, which is a surprise as if i'd have seen they were just biscuit I wouldn't have bothered.

Here is the Halva, it's one giant eurowafer. I'm not sure if i expected to have to decide on what a portion was with this, but it's pretty fun. Maybe I'll buy one just for me and eat it as a biscuit in public.  I think two of these Rich sized portions was the correct amount.

It's much more chocolaty than the Princessa I usually get, and the filling is more layered than the Knoppers bars I also usually get (but couldn't find in the time available to make my purchase up to £5). There were lots of flavours of this and it was certainly a deluxe option (two whole pounds) but I think i'll just get them sometimes.  The ring biscuits are the reason to go back to the shop, and this is just something to get if you are already there.

And yes - as usual, I got served in Polish until I looked confused - even though all I seem to buy is comfort food these days.  I'll have to get more deli delights.

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