Tuesday, 26 July 2016
On a sunny day what more could you want than chocolates from the fridge to soothe and chill the palate. Yes I decided to break into a fantastic box of goodies that make up the Hotel Chocolat gift, The Summer Collection.
There are various goodies in the box, and such a fabulous choice. Many of the summer items are fruit flavoured which works wonderfully for me. First up I decided to try the Secret Raspberry Selector chocolates. The reason they are called “secret” is because of the passion fruit that is mixed in, that gives them a bit more of a complex flavour.
The chocolates are neatly decorated with a pink and yellow topping, and the filling is a bright and summery yellow. The centre is a thick silky ganache. The chocolate these are made with is a lovely thick rich dark chocolate. The cocoa content is a high 70% and the flavour dark and smooth.
The first flavour to hit is the fruit passion fruit, that give a neat tropical edge, followed my the tangy flavour of raspberries. The fruit is zingy and full of flavour, and the dark chocolate complements it perfectly. These are fabulous summer flavours, that work even on a hot day. The only problem with these chocolates is that the journey of flavours that one chocolate gives, leaves you immediately wanting another. Oh well, there are quite a few in the pack…
Monday, 25 July 2016
To celebrate the summertime favourite drink- Aperol Spritz, they hosted an event at Farringdon's Bird of Smithfield, in collaboration with the restaurant Forza Win.
They welcomed us up to the Aperol Terrace to enjoy a drink in the sunshine. Everything was aptly themed in orange, which added to the summertime feel.
Once all the guests were back inside, they taught us to make the perfect Aperol - lots of ice, prosecco, Aperol, soda water and a dash of orange for flavour! However, as our Venetian host reminded us, the Italians love this drink with some great food. Luckily, one of the wonderful chefs from Forza Win was on hand to show us some quick and easy Italian recipes to impress.
First was the panzanella- a dish made of bread, tomatoes (this recipe featured 3 kinds) basil and delicious onions (which had been prepared in salt and vinegar). The chef made ensured some of the guests got their hands dirty- and the dish was served. It was light but still had amazing flavour, which really did complement the drink.
Next was a Italian take on beans on toast- sourdough bread and cannellini beans (which had been flavoured with some garlic and herbs)! Such an easy recipe with a twist- they also tasted great with the onions we'd tried in the panzanella.
The last course was a beautifully cooked steak with a dash of salsa verde. The homemade sauce was delicious, and we were lucky enough to take our own little tubs home with us.
After enjoying the amazing food, we were able to enjoy the terrace once again.
The team put together a wonderful event- which highlighted just how easy it is to enjoy such a summertime drink with good company and great food and I will certainly be making a trip to Forza Win to try more of their amazing food.
Forza Win- 4.1, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Rd, London SE15 3SN
The Bird of Smithfield - 26 Smithfield St, London EC1A 9LB
Sunday, 24 July 2016
Sometimes you find a food that epitomises a specific era. Tesco has provided us a perfect example for now.
First up we have pulled pork. This is now everywhere. I don't think you can buy non pulled pork anymore. Piglets are born pre pulled.
Next up we have chorizo. Sausage is so last decade. We need specific strong spicy sausage, even if you slice it so thinly that you may as well just have pepperoni as is the case here.
Then we have a Stonebaked flatbread - nobody wants a pitta - this is softer and more baked on stone than any of the other options.
And overall (with a few greens) you have a cliched lunch of the times that couldn't be more now unless it had a large beard and a confusing coffee to go with it.
It was nice enough, but it really wasn't as special as you'd have hoped from any of the individual parts. Edible but disappointing.
Saturday, 23 July 2016
We’ve had quite a few sunny days now, so I thought I’d pick a beer that sounded right for the weather, whilst trying not to tempt fate. Brewed by the Hogs Back Brewery for the Great British Brewing Company, this 3.8% volume golden ale was brewed with Cascade, Centennial, and their local Surrey hops, whilst using Munich and Pale Ale malts. Served in a 330ml bottle, the name Sunny Dayz sounds to me a like a retirement home for 90’s rappers. I’m a bit of an old fuddy-duddy and am missing the more traditional ‘s’ from ‘Dayz’. The label states that this golden ale has a hoppy bitterness of mandarin citrus and floral notes. On opening the bottle there was more of a floral hoppy smell, with citrus in the background. On taste there was a floral bitterness to start with, followed by a light citrus hoppiness that merged well with the Pale and Munich malts. From the funky label I was expecting more of an explosion of hoppy flavours, however this was a subtle flavoursome hoppy golden ale for relaxing summer Sunny Dayz in the garden, rather than rushing around in the blinding heat. Right up my street after a morning bashing away at myself at the gym.
Friday, 22 July 2016
Many years ago the Tiffin chocoalte bar used to be available in the UK, but at some point in the past its production got limited to Ireland. I’ve had the Irish bar, it was foiled and paper wrapped and the chocolate tasted different to the UK bar. Only subtly different, but it had a stronger cocoa flavour. I was curious to see if this new UK edition was made with the same rich chocolate.
I unwrapped the bar and from the front it didn’t look much different to a regular bar of Dairy Milk, just a hint of some of the fruit peeping through.
From the back you can see there are lots of tasty ingredients packed into the bar. Now I said “fruit” earlier, this is because the back of the pack confused me slightly, the official ingredients of this bar are: “milk chocolate with dried grapes and biscuits”. I thought the popular name in the UK for “dried grapes” was “raisins”, it is an odd phrasing to use on the packet.
So the taste test, and I have to give this the thumbs up. The base chocolate flavour doesn’t taste dissimilar to the normal UK Dairy Milk, its sweet and creamy, and I don’t think it is the Irish recipe. There are plenty of biscuit bits and raisins (ahem “dried grapes”) and they add lovely combinations of texture and sweetness when you munch. The varied texture makes this a fun bar to eat, and one that I think should get a permanent release in the UK. It is a simple idea, combining biscuits, raisins and chocolate and it works perfectly. No wonder people import Irish Dairy Milk Tiffin bars from Ireland.
Thursday, 21 July 2016
After the success of the peanut butter magnums I thought this was worth a go. The name sounds like a Yorkshire man asking his wife if she wants this flavour (peanut butter, love?) but it's the standard Walls Cornetto brand so you know roughly what to expect.
It's a multipack so the cones feel tiny.
Yet they look decent enough in the hand, and have stayed together pretty well.
On top we have a lovely chunk of the same chocolate they use for the centre of the Feast bar, with similar nuts on top. The Icecream tastes nutty too, with maybe a hint of coffee, but is soft and lovely as you'd expect. Inside this is a spike of presumably peanutty goo, but with the other flavours going on this just tasted sweet. Naturally the bottom is full of chocolate too which means the cone doesn't go squishy.
As we've discussed before, the fall of the Cornetto from the premier icecream brand to mid-table obscurity is probably due to people wanting more choc and less ice, but with varieties like this which is a lot closer to a Ben and Jerries style mix of experiences they could be in for a good summer. Especially if you can buy larger ones while out and about.
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
This new Frijj Mango & Passion Fruit milkshake has been produced with 40% less sugar. However at over 220 calories per bottle this could still be used as a refreshing pick-me-up after a trip to the gym, especially at the moment with all this unseasonal hot weather. I say ‘unseasonal’, as although it is summer, we kind of expect our summers to be overcast and rainy. We have had plenty of that over the last few weeks, so I guess we’re having a break.
There was a smell of mango and passion fruit on opening the bottle. On tasting the yellowish milky drink there was a mild hint of mango mixed cunningly with a mild hint of passion fruit. In fact this drink was probably the mildest Frijj milkshake I’ve ever tasted. That made sense when I noticed that this drink was 98% fat milk in the ingredients. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing though, as mango and passion fruit can both be quite strong flavours apart, so I had been expecting a sour battle from this milkshake rather than the refreshing light flavours of mango and passion fruit combined in the mildest dances across my tastebuds!
Information on the bottle;
471ml bottle, with 47 calories per 100ml, with 5.5g of sugar, 0.12g of salt, and 1.1g of fat. Ingredients included; 1% fat milk (98%), buttermilk powder, fructose, stabalisers; carrageenan, cellulose gum, colour; carotenes, and flavourings sweeteners; acesulfame K, and sucralose.