24 February 2018

Oliver’s Island Golden Ale (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

Oliver's Island is situated two miles up the Thames in the London Borough of Hounslow. It's a 0.9 acre lump of trees that has an urban myth that Oliver Cromwell took refuge on it from a brief spell during the The English Civil War (between 1642 and 1651). A wooden toll building and barge was added in 1777 to charge boaters passing by on the river. A smithy and barge builders was added shortly afterwards, only to be knocked down through lack of use many years later. Anyway, enough history from Wikipedia…

Brewed by Fuller's this 4.5% volume golden ale was made with floral and citrus hops, golden malt, and orange peel was added during the brewing. This beer has me rather excited. I have a big tuna baguette and some sushi on the side for my dinner and I know from experience that orange peel beer, whether it's a wheat ale or golden ale goes very well with fishy meals. I reckon it's the citrus hops and orange peel that brings out the flavour in the fish. They usually go well with spicy dishes too for the same reason.

On opening there was a mixture of sweet golden malt, citrus hops, a little orange and then floral hops at the back of the smell. This is a shiny golden ale that reminds me of summer sun. I was a bit taken aback by the first taste. From the smell I was expecting big citrus flavours, however the sweet golden malt bashed into my tastebuds with those stronger floral hops like a barge crashing into a flowery island. Then come the citrus bitter kick and a little orange towards the aftertaste. This is a step away from the traditional orange peel beers I've tried in the past, and I'm not sure it'll go well with my fishy meal. Ah, well… I'll save it to savour later and pour myself an orange squash!

23 February 2018

Robins and Sons - Peppermint Bark (Mint Cracknel @RobinsandSons) By @cinabar

I had an email from the lovely folk at Robins and Sons asking if I wanted to try their Peppermint Bark chocolate. I have to admit that I have watched many American TV shows and films which have in passing mentioned Peppermint Bark, but I have actually never tried the stuff. I wasn’t even completely sure what it was. Peppermint is one of my favourite choices for a chocolate flavour too, so I know this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It turns out that this chocolatier started making Peppermint Bark because they too couldn’t find any, even via import.
My parcel arrived and I have to say just how impressed I was with the packaging, it was beautifully presented in a box with ribbons! The box was well packaged in an outer box with plenty of packing materials, but the Peppermint Bark was broken when it arrived, however after a bit of googling it turns out it is supposed to be broken into pieces for eating, so I think that was okay. All the pictures on google images show broken slabs. Did I mention I wasn’t sure what Peppermint Bark was. Well to confirm, it is a thin slab of milk chocolate, topped with white chocolate and sprinkled with broken up peppermint sweets or candy cane. I took one of the pieces and gave it a try. The chocolate was a fabulous treat, the milk chocolate is very sumptuous and the white chocolate layering adds a lovely level of creaminess to the bar. The peppermint sweets do fuel a refreshing peppermint flavour which works perfectly with the base chocolate. They look pretty too nestled on the layers.
This would make a fab gift for any American over here missing home, or anyone who has a love of peppermint and chocolate. I for one think I may well be hooked.
If you want to try some for yourself it is available at: https://www.robinsandsons.com

22 February 2018

Earl Grey Crepe Cake - Happy Lemon, Birmingham @NLi10

Happy Lemon have all kinds of wonderful deserts to sample, mostly based around ingredients they already have like tea powder and cheese.  I've always doubted that a real cheese cake would make it home safely, but a crepe stack?  That we can risk!

We decided to go with the Earl Grey cake stack - which appears to babe made with a powdered Earl Grey as it doesn't have a massive smell/flavour of the usual bergamot.

It does look stunning though, and survived a trip to my sister's house on the bus.  Here we see a sneak peak of her Easter dresser.

Surprisingly it cut into two really nicely, and the layers actually stayed intact.  

The texture was fiendishly good, it hadn't gone soggy at all.  The flavours were slight and more cheese cake than Earl Grey, but still really enjoyable.  £4.80 for the big bit seemed expensive, but when shared is just a reasonable price.  I don't think you'd want this every day, but as a treat I'm sure i could work my way through the range.

21 February 2018

Godiva Caramel Lion with Belgian Milk Chocolate (Sainsburys) By @SpectreUK

Cinabar rather excitedly said to me a few days ago that the famous Belgium chocolatier, Godiva, have started to mass produce chocolate. There are lots and lots of caramel bars on the mass produced market, so I wondered how this compares. Whilst she wasn't looking I stole this chocolate bar from under Cinabar's nose. Some people are easily distracted with pretty colours or an alternative snack she hasn't seen before!

Unwrapping the bar I was impressed by the overall presentation. A Lion's head crest on each of the twelve square pieces of milk chocolate. The first thing I noted on biting into a chocolate crested square was how creamy the succulent milk chocolate was. However, the base is solid milk chocolate. Certainly very luxurious milk chocolate, but not filled with a caramel centre. This wasn't exactly true to the image on the front of the cardboard packet. In fact each lion's head crest on top of each base was filled with thick gooey brown sweet caramel. Okay, so not true to the image, but these chocolate pieces were certainly very tasty and felt like a step up from some of the mass produced brands. However, it's all about the milk chocolate here, as mass produced brands generally have more caramel in them and certainly have excellent quality milk chocolate, if not as amazeballs as Godiva's Belgian milk chocolate. I can't comment on price, because generally I get mass produced brands blended with the weekly shop and I nicked this Godiva Caramel Lion with Belgian Milk Chocolate bar for nothing from Cinabar's usually tight chocolate loving fingers!

Information on the packet:

The 83g bar had 555 calories per 100g, with 32g of fat, 55g of sugar, and 0.21g of salt. For ingredients please see photograph.

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