18 September 2017
I think we are quite lucky in the UK when it comes to new crisps flavours. Whenever I browse the crisps aisle in the supermarket I’m always excited about some new flavour, which is impressive considering how many crisps we've written about in the past. These sounded particularly fun and like quite a complex flavour. Trying to pack in all of the ingredients of New York Deli with Pastrami, Dill Pickle and Mustard onto a single crisp sounded like it was going to be rather impressive.
We were sharing the bag so I poured some out onto plates to have with our mix of sandwiches. The crisps are fairly thickly cut, and a good size. The aroma from them was mild and just a little herby.
One of our food testers didn't know what the actual flavour was and so blind tested them, barbecue she guessed. That sounded a bit odd so I tried one too and had to admit there was a deep smokiness to these crisps. They had a tang of gherkin from the dill pickle, and a nice herby flavour, but what I couldn't pick up on was the pastrami. This was a shame as I love meaty crisps and felt that element was lacking or just too mild. Don't get me wrong these are not bad crisps. The mix of herbs, pickle and smokiness made them very enjoyable. For me though I didn't think there was enough pastrami or meatiness to the flavour.
17 September 2017
The twin farm-shop services of Gloucester and West-Morland (Tebay) feature heavily in our holiday plans as you can guarantee that you'll find some wonderful food to review. These presents were brought back when dropping off our friend for his 9 day Land's End to John O'Groats cycle ride.
While cycling at all is out of the question for me, I think I can cope with some hand-made chocolate truffles. So lets have a good look - in what will hopefully be order of strength so they don't overpower each other.
Raspberry and coconut
This is what you expect to find in fresh, hand made chocolates. The centre is almost a fruit sponge its so fresh. The very fruity, almost liquid centre is molten before you even come near it and the flavours just pop out of it. The white chocolate then hits with the coconut texture and flavour to finish. A definite hit.
This was very similar to the Ferrero Rocher and Kinder Bueno of the bunch, albeit with a slightly richer flavour. As you'd expect everything was just that little bit fresher and crisper so the textures were more pleasing. The praline in the centre was perhaps the least noticeable here, with the smooth slightly nutty flavour being dominated by the outer. I'd happily eat more of these to see how the flavour changes with each hand-rolled bite.
Sea salt caramel
The caramel in this really is the clincher - if you aren't a fan then you won't be a fan of the whole thing - and for me it's a little too salty. As you can see in the pic (this is the front one) the caramel is very runny and the chocolate case very thick so it's as good a quality as the others, but neither myself or my partner were fans of the flavour of the caramel so this was the least enjoyed of the bunch.
Dark Chocolate & Orange
Covered in white dust (and at the back of the picture above) this one had the most solid oaf all the centres. After the caramel I feared that this too would be slightly too 'flavoursome' as sometimes the orange can be a bit acidic, but it wasn't too powerful. I'd have maybe preferred a little more texture to it (orange peel or similar maybe) to make it linger, but as it is this was a nice melty orange sensation.
Overall I think that we started with the best, I could eat a packet of the raspberry ones! That said I think if you were sharing these as a group that each one would find a favourite and that none would go to waste. They aren't the cheapest things going though so it's probably best just to have a set as an occasional mid-journey treat.
16 September 2017
I apologise to regular readers who may be expecting some form of a beer blog today. This is "some form of a beer blog", but not the bottled variety. Normal services will resume next week, but unfortunately I am laid up today after an operation on my knee yesterday. I was told by the clinicians that I am not to have alcohol for twenty-fours after surgery, because the anaesthetic is still in my system, so trying to be sensible (of rather being policed by Cinabar and her mom), I've had to abstain for the day.
These Craft Beer Chocolates are set in three flavours of twelve cute chocolate beer pint glasses (see photograph). There are two flavours in milk chocolate and one in dark chocolate. before tasting I imagined the London Porter beer would be the dark chocolate, as porters are generally darker in colour and are often brewed with chocolate malt, whereas the Cornish Pale Ale and Maritime Salted Caramel beer have been added to the milk chocolates.
From top to bottom I decided to try the milk chocolate with the light brown head, which on popping into my mouth was just about the best chocolatey thing I've eaten for ages. I could tell there was barley in there amongst the succulent milk chocolate, but no saltiness, so figured the top pint glass chocolate was Cornish Pale Ale. The next milk chocolate beer glass was with a white top. There was a subtle hint here on biting when this chocolate pint glass was filled with gooey salted caramel. There was also a hint of barley in amongst the flavour. Really very gooey and tasty. The last of the chocolate beer glasses was the dark chocolate. The London Porter beer. This was very definitely flavoured with porter. There were heavier undertones of chocolate malt here, and with a soft centre to bite into. Mmmm…
These chocolate pint glasses are not just a novelty. They are a really good M&S novelty. They'd be a classic after dinner treat to those that want a chocolatey snack before moving to the real pints of whatever your pleasure is. If you're off beer for a day, this is clearly the way to go. I couldn't help but save the rest for tomorrow though, as I'm back on the beer and I'm sure I can find a perfect match from the bottles in my collection that will go very well with them. I shall first look for a fitting porter!
15 September 2017
You can’t miss Tab x Tab as you’re walking down Westbourne Grove, as I saw as more and more passers-by came to look around. The coffee shop has a beautiful outdoor area and the inside is interior design at it’s best. The space is open with lots of greenery and every aspect has been meticulously chosen - from the designers of the crockery and the trays to the preference of clear milk jugs vs metal. Customers can browse over School of Life books and cards as well as beauty and grooming products.
I was greeted by Lucas, who’s knowledge of the art of coffee making is extraordinary. This passion and the willingness to share with each customer is what creates the unique experience at Tab xTab.
First I was given an Ethiopian filter coffee. Whilst many coffee houses may show a preference for this in espresso form, I learnt that a filtered coffee retains it’s caffeine for longer as it has more time to mix with the water. It allows for a delicate taste with still a burst of energy. It was truly easy to drink, and I can imagine how this would be a great kick start for the day.
To balance things out, I then tried a matcha tea. This was in it’s purest form, unlike the latte’s that are commonly sold. Milk actually diminishes the antioxidants of the matcha. I had mine with just water and ice for a naturally refreshing drink. The richer the colour, the richer the taste and the benefits. This drink is perfect for a sustained, natural wave of energy.
Next, it was time for an espresso made from Brazilian coffee beans. This had an incredibly intense and nutty flavour. Paired with an Amaretto biscuit, this had the richest flavour, without being overbearing.
To finish, I was given the same coffee with milk, in a latte form. This was incredibly easy to drink and the milk really brought out the nutty flavour - especially when drunk alongside the a brownie bite. I was also able to see where the magic happens, thanks to the state of the art machine - one of the very few in London.
All the bevarages I tried at Tab x Tab complimented each other really well. I left feeling relaxed and ready for the day, thanks to both the kick of the caffeine and the kind and friendly staff. I’d definitely recommend a visit and soaking up the atmosphere.