21 January 2018

Sky tomatoes - does tomato juice taste nicer in flight? (@NLi10)

Recently I saw on a news program a tiny bit mentioning that the umami effect for food was stronger on airplanes, and that this made tomato juice taste stronger. So let’s try it out.

Jet 2 were happy (if not a little confused) to sell me a can of premixed tomato juice ready for a cocktail, but without the vodka.

It has a few things in that may make the taste a little more umami, but as someone who used to enjoy a Bloody Mary I’m used to the flavour - even if it has been some time.

It looks a bit mad on the plane - like I’ve forgotten my spaghetti - but it’s easy enough to try! 

And unsurprisingly it works. It just pops a little more, it’s like the sweetest and saltiest tomato juice ever. Now, science doesn’t really know whether it’s the altitude or the noise of the plane that weakens our other taste receptors but it’s quite a handy fact to have in your back pocket. If you can get Japanese food, or tomato based food on the plane it’ll probably surprise you with its flavour compared to the standard non flying food that you tend to order.

20 January 2018

Brewdog 5am Saint Beer (Sainsbury’s) By @SpectreUK

The name of this beer makes me think I should drink it at 5am, rather than just before I go to see a murder mystery at the theatre. It sounds like a pick-me-up after a long night on the tiles, maybe even a 'hair of the dog' to get rid of a hangover. However, I'm drinking it at dinnertime instead of eating dinner after a vast lunch straight from the gym. Produced by Brewdog this 5% volume beer was brewed with five malts and six hops. That's an awful lot of flavour to cram into a 330ml bottle. It's an American Red Ale sporting fruitiness, citrus bursts, caramel, chocolate, spiciness and biscuit malts. Wow! This beer sounds like chaos in a beer glass.

On opening the bottle there was a dominant herbal hop aroma with a touch of citrus and a little sweet malted barley at the end of the smell. 5am Saint is a deep red almost brown colour with an excitable head. On taste this beer is not for the faint hearted. All those who like their beer smooth, creamy and largely tasteless please leave the room. This is a craft beer drinker's drink and with no mistake. Bring out the tastebuds folks, 'cause you're going to need them! There is a blast of herbal hops on first taste which skips and jumps with citrus bitterness. There is sweetness from the crystal malt and hints of malted barley. There is a light touch of chocolate malt with a suggestion of roasted coffee that springs straight to warm spices, finishing on a biscuit cushion of malts that wash round the palate into the aftertaste. If weather was flavour then here is life. There is thunder in the dark, there is lightning, there is hot rain, there is warm Spring sunshine lying in the shade with a beer and a good book. Beautiful. And all first thing in the morning; at 5am precisely.

19 January 2018

Twinings Little India Chai Nespresso Tea (@Morrisons) By @Cinabar

Having just moved we have bought a few new gadgets for the house, one of which was a Nespresso maker. We just got a small one and I immediately popped down to the supermarket to see what capsules where available. The official ones only seem to be for sale online, but I was quite pleased with the choices in the shop. I picked up a couple of different coffees to try, and then this Twinings Tea caught my eye, Chai is probably my favourite flavour of tea and I couldn’t resist these Little India Chai Nespresso Tea pods. My first test of the Nespresso machine were the coffee, as that is the intended function, but for my third cup I went on to try this Chai tea.

I popped the pod in, pressed the lungo button and watched as water dripped through. I was confused by this, and took a closer look at the pods, turns out they have a protective cover on that needs removing first, d’oh, which the coffee ones didn’t have. In reality this confusion and annoyance lasted several minutes before the penny dropped. So I tried a second pod with the plastic peeled away, and managed to brew myself a nice tea, to which I added some milk and sugar. Shame to have lost a capsule though, but it wasn’t very obvious what you needed to do.
The flavour of the tea was actually impressive, it was a very warming drink with plenty of cinnamon which is my favourite spice. The black tea flavour was still present and the milk and sugar set it off perfectly. This was a good mug of Chai, but to be fair it wasn’t that dissimilar to the Chai teabags I can buy, so there was less to gain from these pods. The coffee from the Nespresso beats any instant coffee by miles, so I think that is the type of pod we will be buying in the future.

18 January 2018

Hospital Food - Real Wrap Co. Food Pots @NLi10

Lunchtime at the hospital has been increasingly less appealing.  First they closed the canteen so we no longer had a source of fresh wraps and a reason to bump into colleagues from other departments. Then the range of food we could get seemed to dwindle - in part due to a healthy eating policy that favoured beige sandwiches and chips as the only reliable options.  All sugary drinks were hidden, and all crisps were baked.  Naturally you could still get super calorific branded coffees and chocolate bars... We joked this did improve our health and fitness as anyone with time walked to the nearest Tesco and stocked up on the good crisps and drinks.

But - this week it all changed.  I joked with the guy in the main corridor shop about the newly expanded range still just being sandwiches (flour is one of the most obesogenic foods humans have invented - mainly because we spread stuff on it).  He smiled and pointed to the bottom shelf - which was filled with wonders and delights that would have had even Willy Wonka doing cartwheels.

Actual. Nutrients.

We've always had little fruit salads that are a little overpriced - but that's how convenience food works - they sell the real stuff for much cheaper.  We've never had seeds.  We've never had vegetable based salad pots.

Anyone who works within range of a Marks & Spencer's is probably laughing about now - they can pay £4 for two pots that outclass this in everyway (mixed grains!!) and we pay £2.20 each for the above but it's such an amazing shift that I'm still giddy with excitement.

And yes - the fruit isn't that high on the Nutrient Density Index, but it's a start.  They are slightly over-packaged too but if you wash and recycle that issue goes away.  The spinach and egg combo was great and the seeds were not dry and most importantly not contaminated with some salty flavour dust. 

The next day I went for a more 'bad' option from the same range - Southern Fried Chicken with a glass of contraband full fat Dr. Pepper. 

These were chunkier and more filling than I'd expected - and the BBQ sauce was good too.  This was 40p more and totally worth the upgrade.  Not one for the weight loss crowd, but combined with one of the healthier pots (in my case the fruit salad again) I can imagine that this ticks enough boxes to be balanced.  

My only worry about the range is that once I've progressed through everything that I'll either upgrade to having three pots (£6.60 a day adds up fast) or supplement with some of the wraps and sandwiches on offer (moderation is key).  By Tesco Club-Card points may never increase again.

The new range is one that totally took cynical old me by surprise, and that the Trust should be commended for.  Now we have choice again, the most important thing for any Public Health strategy to achieve meaningful long term behaviour change.  I'll keep an eye on how this range develops as seasons change, and see how it sells by chatting to the catering staff.

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