Thursday, 26 March 2015

Chicken & Chorizo Pie - @OldJointStock [by @NLi10]

I was meeting up with friends in town on a quiet Thursday and wondering where to eat.  I worried that they might already have beaten me to the pub of choice so I decided to risk eating there. I'm not usually a fan of "pub grub" fearing the ping of the microwaves and the stodgy chips, but I have vague memories of a wild boar burger I've eaten there before indicating an actual kitchen so decided to risk it.

The pub in question is The Old Joint Stock, and anyone who knows the centre of Birmingham is probably familiar with its lovely architecture and unique little theatre space. Typically I had arrived first and could have risked a trip to Chinatown, but I spotted something of interest on the door menu so was already set to order.

I went for the Chicken & Chorizo Pie (white bean & onion ragout, tomato cream sauce), which is hand crafted and comes with buttered greens, mash and gravy - and looks a little like this.

Naturally our benchmark here is the Pieminister range, but I'm willing to be a bit more forgiving when out and someone else is controlling the presentation.

Digging in we find a rich tomato sauce, and huge chunks of both meats. The chorizo is very recognisable and strong, but a little sparse for my initial liking. I can see what flavour they are going for here and it is something more delicate with the chorizo acting as an occasional pop of flavour. It works very well. The greens are well selected and seasoned enough to be inviting, but not so much to mask the flavour. The mash is light and fluffy and is complemented well by the thick, thick gravy.

Much to my surprise I really enjoyed the meal and wouldn't have swapped it for any of the usual places I walked past.  At £12.95 it's restaurant prices for restaurant food, but I did get to eat it at the giant stone octagonal table while waiting for the rest of my party so the value is there.  It is also a very filling portion - I certainly didn't feel short changed.

When we come for our usual drinks here we like to move on to more exotic foods when the urge takes us, but I may just have to suggest we eat here more often.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Walkers Sunbites Pitta Bakes (Ocado) [By @SpectreUK]

It often falls on my shoulders to blog about an alternative snack to crisps and nuts. Don't get me wrong, I love crisps but probably eat far too many packets for my own good. So every now and then I like to find a healthier option. One that doesn't effect my waist so much, especially if I'm sat infront of a film for a couple of hours and eat more than one packet with a high calorie larger than usual beer or two! These Walkers Sunbites Pitta Bakes Roasted Pepper and Chilli Flavour certainly seem to fit the bill. I love peppers and I also love chillis, so putting them in a packet with some healthy bread sounds like a good idea to me. It almost feels like not needing to go to the gym!

On opening the packet I could see what Walkers meant when they said that these multigrain Sunbites Crispy Crackers were baked until golden to give them that extra crunch. I was a bit taken aback though as these multigrain Pitta Chips didn't strike me with a peppery or chilli smell. In fact there wasn't much of a whiff coming from the inside of the packet. On first taste of a reddish slim squarish cracker and I realised all the flavour had been packed into each one rather than letting some ooze out in an odour. There was an initial delightful red pepper and tomato flavour for starters mixed with paprika and then a chilli burn to finish the taste. Packed full of flavour, super crunchy, medium hot and very healthy. What more could you want from an alternative snack? Oh yes, another packet...

Information on the packet;
24g packet with 111 calories, 4.1g of fat, 1.3g of sugar and 0.35g of salt. The ingredients included; multigrains (52%); (wheatflour; (contains; calcium, iron, thiamin, and niacin) wholemeal wheatflour, oat flour, wholemeal barley flour, and maize flour), yeast, salt, sunflower oil (contains antioxidant, Rosemary extract), Roasted Pepper and Chilli Seasoning contains; salt, sugar, natural flavourings (with milk), onion powder, paprika, tomato powder, citric acid, black pepper, garlic powder, red bell pepper powder, cayenne pepper powder, and colour paprika extract. Allergy advice contains; wheat, oat, barley, milk and was prepared in a factory that handles gluten, soya and mustard.
By Spectre

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Milk Free Milk Chocolate Goose Egg (Hotel Chocolat) [By @Cinabar]

In a fairly small office at work (20 people) there are two people who have an intolerance to milk. I’m not sure whether that number is higher than average, but the number of milk alternatives being advertised certainly leads me to think that a lot of people have an issue with milk. Hotel Chocolat has developed a milk chocolate that is milk free, i.e. it uses almond milk instead of dairy. I had the lovely opportunity of giving it a taste test in the form of this rather smart Goose Egg.

The egg is very smartly packaged, showing off the chocolate. Inside the box there is a lightly marbled egg and a very generous bag of buttons. The egg is quite thick and took a bit of effort to break. I started tapping it on the table but ended up firmly knocking it against a slate tile! :-D Better that way though.

The taste of the chocolate is very impressive. I found it quite dark for a milk chocolate, and it reminded me of the Super Milk that Hotel Chocolat has recently released. The flavour is very good, the rich tones of the cocoa were very tasty and the chocolate was just sweet enough. The buttons were a nice addition too, and I was enjoying allowing them to melt on the tongue.

The only tell I could spot that the chocolate was different was in the texture. The chocolate felt very slightly thicker in the melt and the texture wasn’t as silky as normal. It is a minor comment really, something you’d only notice if you were looking for the differences. To be fair, to say this chocolate is dairy free it is way ahead of any of the others I’ve tried, as it manages to maintain that luxury.
This the perfect Easter gift if you know someone who thinks they can’t eat dairy chocolate, it will make their day. If you have an intolerance yourself there are actually several goodies at Hotel Chocolat utilising this new recipe, so it is defiantly worth having a look.
By Cinabar

Monday, 23 March 2015

Walkers Mix Ups Cheese and Worcestershire Sauce [By @Cinabar]

Walkers have a new range of crisps out all called Mix Ups, the idea being that they have combined in one bag two different varieties of their other products. Some of the mixes are a bit more obvious to spot, in that the crisps have distinct shapes like Monster Munch and Doritos, all mixed together. This particular variety combines two very similar looking flavours or regular crisps, cheese and Worcestershire sauce. When I poured them out on the plate I could sort of tell which flavour was which from the depth of the seasoning on them, but they did pretty much look the same.

As fan of cheese on toast with a hefty splash of Worcestershire Sauce this sounded like a very sensible and interesting flavour combination to me. Did you know the flavour of Worcestershire Sauce is made from, amongst other ingredients, anchovies and vinegar. Fascinating fact.
anyway these crisps were had with lunch as a side, and shared out. The darker more orangey crisps tasted of Worcestershire Sauce, and had that slightly acidic but somehow meaty flavour which was very tasty. The cheese crisps seemed mild, but a pleasant not too strong cheese that went well with the Worcestershire Sauce. I liked the idea of the mix of flavours, it made the crisps interesting to eat and would be fun for sharing a bowl in a bowl too. Having one of each was nice and I tried not to deliberately pick a certain flavour, and just enjoyed the mix.
I think this is an idea that works and I'm keen on trying some of the ones with a mix of shaped crisps too. Plus they’ve also started doing a sweet and salty Mix Ups popcorn too, that I can’t wait to try! Many thanks to Walkers for sending these over for us to try.
By Cinabar