Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Strongbow Cider Dark Fruit (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

I must admit I do like the odd cider now and again, and this Strongbow Cider Dark Fruit certainly sounded like an odd cider. On opening there was a very heavy smell of blackcurrant and blackberry, both together, with a hint of cider apple right at the end of the aroma. On pouring this cider into my slightly bemused beer mug this Dark Fruit cider was a purple colour and had a decent fizz to it. There was barely any cider taste to this drink, it was mainly blackcurrant in flavour to start with and then blackberry, but both fruits were mixed well together. This beverage was like a fizzy strong Ribena drink. The taste was very much like a Dark Fruit pop rather than cider. Though there was complexity to the flavour of this drink that went beyond the pub drink of adding a dash of blackcurrant to a pint of cider. This drink would be perfect for a person who doesn’t like cider or beer and doesn’t want to sample the traditional taste of alcohol. In fact I'm sure you could drink quite a few bottles of it and find yourself under the table, but you wouldn't know how or why you got there. This cider is not something I’d buy again, but I'm certain there's a decent market out there for it. Cider and Black anyone?

Information on the label:
500ml bottle at 4% volume. Produced by HP Bulmer Ltd, in Hereford. The label stated that this beverage is Strongbow Cider with a refreshing blend of dark fruit; blackcurrant and blackberry juices and flavours. Contains sugar, sweetener, and sulphites for freshness.
By Spectre

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Dare Devil Bites: Sweet Chilli (KFC, Penn, Wolverhampton) [By @Cinabar]

I don’t eat out at fast food places as much as I should. It is an odd statement, but I should write about their specials more here at Foodstuff Finds, but find myself rarely visiting them. In fact it takes a special occasion to get me into a fast food restaurant, Christmas holidays, birthday or this time an easter bank holiday.
I may not have been to a KFC for a while but I haven’t failed to see their adverts for their new Dare Devil bites. Not only that but several people had mentioned the adverts to me and asked me if I’d tried them yet, so I thought I’d give them a go. They are clearly the ‘hot’ item at the minute, pun intended!
So we wandered we into KFC and queued in the surprisingly slow queue for ‘fast food’ and I asked for all three new flavours of Dare Devils bites. I’ve seen the hype, I was ready to work my way through the flavours and test my taste buds, I wasn’t quite ready for the hair cut from the advert, but heck bring everything else on. “We’ve sold out” came the reply, “except for the Sweet Chilli” flavour. “Oh, I guess I’ll try that one then” I said disappointedly. Wow, that was poor going for a bank holiday from KFC. Not as bad a snow filled birthday of mine just over a year back when Spectre found that our local KFC had sold out of chicken entirely, as they hadn’t a delivery! Still it is poor stock management to not have all flavours of the item being pushed liked crazy on TV adverts.
Anyway I received a tub of Sweet Chilli Dare Devil Bites, which is essentially four small bits of chicken in a tub in a red sauce. Don’t worry I had a two piece variety meal to go with it, I was making the most of my rare trip to KFC!
The bites had to be carefully removed from the tub with fingers, so as not to cover yourself in the red sauce. Yes they do have plastic sporks somewhere, but where is the fun in that? The flavour didn’t require any dare devil at all, it was flavoursome and more like a sweet and sour sauce than a chilli sauce. There was a gentle mild hint of warmth from some chilli, but nothing that would offend anyone. It was pleasingly sweet and tangy. We all enjoyed them very much and felt a little sad at not being able to try all the other flavours. Still the variety meals were fab, and having them again was a proper treat.
After we finished our meals we thought we’d console ourselves with some ice cream. I noticed that since my last visit to a KFC they have added ‘Kreme Balls’ to the menu, they looked similar to the previous ice creams only this time with the sprinkles underneath. I queued again to order a round of Kreme Balls and when I finally got to the front the lady said “We’ve sold out, we don’t have any ice cream at all”. Wow KFC, way to go with your stock planning on a sunny bank holiday.
By Cinabar

Monday, 21 April 2014

Nespresso Santander / Cauca Limited Edition Grand Crus [By Uxorious]

Up front, let me put my cards on the table: I love coffee. I’m constantly drinking the stuff. Even now as I type these very words I have a mug of, hold on whilst I take a sip, coffee within arm’s reach. At work we have an espresso machine and our secretary jokes that if this ever breaks down my work would come to a grinding halt. I blame my dad. Don’t we all? He’s German and he brought me up drinking coffee from well before the age of five. So I’m hooked!

We would all love to make the perfect coffee at home, to recreate the taste, smell and aroma (which as the technically minded might notice is very similar to smell, indeed some would go as far as saying that they are mere synonyms and indeed in my opinion they would be right) of an Italian cafe espresso.

The espresso is the fundamental building block of all coffee drinks. Over time I’ve tried practically every variety of coffee making device: cafetiere; espresso stovetop; filter coffee machine; French press; aeropress; and even bench press. 110 kg if you are wondering. And it should come as no surprise to you that I have an Nespresso machine! If it does come as a surprise, given the items that I’m reviewing here, may I politely suggest you stop reading this and go and make yourself a coffee and wake the fudge up!

I love my Nespresso machine. Ok, it doesn’t quite give you the rich feel and full body flavour of the perfect espresso, but my word it’s close. And the added bonus is that it takes no skill on the part of the user. No need to measure out the right amount of coffee, with the correct grind not too fine not too coarse, no need to think about pressures, or forming a cake with the right consistency. It’s quick, easy and mess-free. In no time you have a very pleasing espresso with a perfect crema. Indeed it’s the only coffee machine I’ve ever found that can consistently do this.

The first coffee I tried is the Santander capsule, a limited edition with intensity level 7 out of 10. The coffee comes from AAA sustainable farms from the Santander department of Columbia, to be found in the central northern part of the country, where the coffee is grown in the shade of tall trees surrounded by mountains.

The Santander capsule produces a perfect looking espresso with a sturdy, good sized crema. The aroma is warm and sweet and delivers the promise of a perfect shot of coffee to come. The texture of the drink is surprisingly good, there’s a real richness that my usual Nespresso capsules haven’t before achieved. The flavour is strong and long lasting with a surprising zesty bitterness at the end, which really gives a remarkable pleasing finish to each mouthful. The capsule may be orange, but you can colour me impressed.

The next one to test is the Cauca capsule, another limited edition AAA sustainable coffee, but with a lower intensity level of 6. This coffee comes from the Cauca department of Columbia, which is in the south-west part of the country, a lush, green, fertile equatorial region. The capsule delivers a good crema, not quite as firm as the Santander, but nevertheless very satisfactory, and the aroma, which has hints of chocolate, is somewhat muted in comparison too. I found the texture of this espresso to be watery and not as satisfying as the Santander one. The flavour is indeed milder as expected from the lower intensity rating, with a far simpler taste experience. What I did like in particular though was that it gives a very long lasting, some would say lingering, pleasant, gently toffee flavour after-taste.

Both of these coffees are very good and I’m actually going to swap over from my usual Nespresso Ristretto capsule to the Santander one, as I prefer its texture. Shame it’s a limited edition! I’d love to write more, but this mug isn’t going to refill itself!
By Uxorious

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Marvel Kinder Surprise [Review by @NLi10]

It's Easter time again and the shelves are filled with your usual traditional large hollow chocolate eggs.  Kinder have launched recently two ranges of fixed toy eggs - one with princesses in it and one with Marvel characters in it.  Appearing to have learnt that gender identity and colour are not fixed there is no mention of who these are aimed at, but as they look reasonable and are on a 2 for £1.20 offer in Somerfield (although my mom says they are cheaper in B&M) I bought 6.  

There is also a larger egg with Batman and the Batmobile in it, but I'm not that into DC and it's probably a lot more expensive.

I figured this haul would be enough to achieve my goal of getting an Iron Man one.   Turns out there are ten minifigs in the range and not 7 like I originally thought so the chances were looking about 50 50.  I gifted the eggs to their young and old recipients on the understanding that the egg I kept back was to be swapped with that of the first person that opened an Iron Man.

We opened, Green Goblin, Venom, IRON MAN, SpiderMan, Iron Man 2, and finally Thor.  I think this gave us all the best and most interesting figures in the series quite quickly.  I traded for the first Iron Man (Spidey was in my reserve egg) and happily attached him to my bag.

We found out from the paper inside that the figures can battle and have flip top heads and numbers inside to allow this.  Here we see Iron Man defeating Spiderman to win my affections.

This is a pretty cool bonus. On top of the well used license and the great idea of having separately decorated eggs this product is effective enough to encourage purchases but not so random that you end up with a pocket full of irrelevant toys.  I remember trying to collect something as a child and getting lots of toys not in the special range in multiples but few of the target figures and stopping.

The usual Kinder chocolate was well appreciated, but the true meaning of the pagan festival Easter is clearly finding Iron Man and beating all the other super heroes.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Smiths Twisted Flamin’ Hot (Local Newsagent) [By @SpectreUK]

I've always been a big fan of Walkers Flamin' Hot Monster Munch. Cinabar bought me these Smiths' Twisted Flamin' Hot flavour to try. Smiths are now owned by Walkers, so I thought I'd try both flavours to see if they were exactly the same or slightly different. I liked the fun shape of these a twisted corn puffs and immediately thought of curly chips that I've bought in a few pubs previously, but these are corn puff snacks with Flamin' Hot as a flavour instead of tomato sauce or a dusting of peri-peri. On opening the packet I had a strong whiff of spicy tomato, which raised a few alarm bells. On first curly taste I found these Twisted corn puffs were very soft and melted in my mouth, but they only had a mild heat which was mainly spicy tomato. The heat didn't compare to the Walkers Flamin' Hot Monster Munch, although they were very tasty indeed and very moreish. I thought these Twisted were fun to eat and brought out my inner child, which is never a bad thing when you're having a rough day at work. If you want a milder heat and more of a spicy tomato flavour, then I'd recommend you give these Smiths Twisted Flamin' Hot flavour a try. In fact if they called them Spicy Tomato flavour instead, I don't think anyone would bat an eyelid. Now if you want the hot tomato tongue tingling nose sweaty heat, then don't forget the Walkers Monster Munch, as they really are Flamin' Hot!

Information on the packet;
30g packet with 160 calories, 1.2g of sugar and 9g of fat. Suitable for vegetarians. See photograph for ingredients.
By Spectre

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.