Look what wonders were sent to me by the very nice folk at The Chocolate Cafe for me to try. It was a lovely looking parcel, and I was very keen to tuck in. Inside were two chocolate bars, and a selection of chocolate discs known as mendiants. It was hard to know where to start, everything looking so pretty, and tempting, but I felt that the plain dark chocolate would be the idea place.
70% Premium Dark Chocolate Bar Inside the wrapper was a lovely dark looking chocolate, with just a tiny hint of shine on its coating. The chocolate was quite firm to snap, and seemed to be fairly hard. I found this chocolate surprisingly sweet, in fact I would say that it is one of the sweetest 70% chocolates that I have tried. This is not a bad thing, I am not a fan of very bitter flavours, it was just a bit of surprise. The cocoa was rich and still very much present, with some nice woody tones. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it is nice to see a sweeter dark chocolate available.
Strawberry Chocolate (With A Hint Of Black Pepper) Bar This was a very pretty looking pink bar of chocolate that smelt wonderfully appealing. The strawberry flavour was natural and strong, and again the white chocolate base was very sweet. There is a gentle hint of black pepper which is a clever addition to the recipe as it breaks up the sweetness a little. This was a nice chocolate, but one for people with a sweet tooth.
Salted Cocoa Nibs Mendiant Sadly I couldn’t pick up on much of the ‘salted’ nature of the cocoa nib on top of this dark chocolate disc, and I would have preferred a more distinct flavour from the topping. The chocolate discs are also quite thick, which would be nice if the chocolate was softer, but made the disc a little difficult to break and bite into. The flavour of the chocolate was nice though, but I think a thinner disc with more topping would have been better.
Chilli Mendiant This was made with the same dark chocolate as the previous disc, so again was a quite thick and tough. The chilli added a decent kick though and the overall flavours worked together well. The chilli flavour was nice and strong without be an impossible burn. I liked the mix of tastes on this one, and the Aztec feel of the chocolate. Sadly some of the chilli seeds were rather hard and didn’t do much for the texture.
Ginger Mendiant Again this was made with the tough dark chocolate. The sweet ginger flavour was good though, with lots of taste and a gentle spice. There is a plentiful amount of crystallized ginger on this chocolate and the flavour with the strong cocoa worked rather well. Despite the firm base, this was one of my favourites of the mendiants.
Hazelnut Mendiant The milk chocolate base is a much betting setting for the mendiants as they are much softer and easier to break and eat. The milk chocolate is sweet and creamy and makes for a really decent platform but sadly the amount of hazelnut wasn’t enough for the flavour to come significantly through. I know these were sent to me in the post, so some of the topping was lost, but having the base chocolate infused with a nutty taste would have perfected this.
Coconut Mendiant Rather like the hazelnut mendiant, the base chocolate is rich but softer and smooth in flavour. Sadly the coconut doesn’t add enough taste, it is pretty enough in decoration, but there needs to be more of it for a decent hit. The very last bite of this one came with an unexpected chilli surge due to a rogue chilli seed that had fallen of a different chocolate. This is calling out for a richer coconut taste.
Pomegranate Mendiant I liked the white chocolate base of this, it was very sweet and creamy, and is a good setting with a lot of potential. I also like the concept of a pomegranate flavour mixed with white chocolate, but this particular disc just did not work for me. If you want to eat pomegranate, you want the juicy sweet flavour, the crunchy seed part is not the highlight it is just something that comes along for the ride. The seeds on top of this were without their fruity taste, they had dried out and all they left was that uncomfortable crunch, and none of the pomegranate magic. This was the most disappointing of the discs, and I’m not even sure how it can be fixed, but it does need a stronger fresh fruit flavour to make it work.
Strawberry and Cream Mendiant I left this pink chocolate to last as it was the prettiest. It was also one of the nicest, it was sweet creamy, and packed with a rich sweet taste of strawberries. It was a lovely looking chocolate packed with natural flavour. The base chocolate was also the right texture, as it was thick but not to brittle. This was an excellent chocolate and I’m glad I left the best to last.
In general the Mendiants were pleasant enough, but the dark chocolate variety suffered from a thick brittle chocolate. Some of the toppings didn’t have enough flavour, and it would have been nice to have the base chocolate infused with the taste, in the way that the strawberry one was. Sadly the packaging (and frankly they had been sent in the post) meant that some of the toppings had jumped shipped onto other flavours, which mixed them up a little too. I did try and clean this up before taking the photos and testing but still managed to find chilli on the coconut one, so my suggestion would be a simple cardboard divider in the lovely posh box. The bars were of a good quality, and I liked the sweetness but strong cocoa hit from the plain dark chocolate. The strawberry chocolate bar was really tasty, and one of my sweet toothed tasters declared it fantastic and that it should never be changed.
I would like to start with a big thank you to Jim at Chocolate Mission for very kindly sending me this bar, and his review can be found here.
The new Twix is biscuit free. This is not controversial as some of the papers would have you think, they are not ditching biscuit in Twix bars. This new Twix Fino has no intentions of replacing the regular Twix it is just an addition to the range made with wafers instead.
I ripped open the wrapper, and immediately broke one of the Twix sticks in half to have a look at the new, biscuit free Twix Fino. I have to say I was a little disappointed by the profile of the chocolate, the wafer rolls space things out so that there is a substantial amount of air within the bar.
Still nothing ventured so I bit in. The chocolate is still plentiful and full of flavour, and the caramel adds the usual wonderful sweetness. Both ingredients melt pleasingly in the mouth and combine with the wafer well. The wafer is surprisingly nice, it adds a lovely crisp, crunchy texture and I thought it worked. It is a light easy to eat bar which I enjoyed, and I feel it is a nice addition to the range. People who like their wafers, for example MilkyWay Crisp Rolls or Kinder Bueno bars, will like this as a tasty alternative to the ones already available.
However there is something that bugs me about this bar. If you do any digging on the internet into Mars UK's reasons for releasing this bar you will find it is to have a lower calorie chocolate available. I have problems understanding this, the packaging proudly states 94 kcal, but this is per stick. Obviously there are two sticks within the pack so that makes a total of 188 kcal per pack. I don’t think 188 kcal is particularly low, for example you can eat a packet of Quavers crisps AND a bar of Blue Riband chocolate for less calories (186 kcal).
Neither Quavers or Blue Riband market themselves particularly as being low fat! Remember also that KitKat has 107 kcal per TWIN pack, which is substantially less also.
In conclusion it is a nice bar and does have less calories than a regular Twix, but isn’t what I would call a guilt free treat especially if you intend to eat both sticks – and let’s be honest who has enough self control to only eat one!?!
It's time once more for the fortnightly visit to the Pieminister draw of the freezer.
This time I've enlisted the help of my fiancé to eat the vegetarian pie known as Heidi. This isn't as I have a general distrust of vegetarian food - if anything I'm more experimental than she is - but because it contains a large amount of cheese which I am not keen on. Her view at the time was that this was a fantastic pie - her text review reads: "Good balance of pie case and filling. I like a good strong smelly goat's cheese, much to my cheese-hating fiancé’s horror, this was relatively mild but still tasty. Looking forward to the next one". This is a good job, as I accidentally ordered a second one of these instead of one of the other vegetarian options for future pie based review action.
Meanwhile I was having the Chicken of Aragon pie. Having tried Mr. Porky and the Thai Chook pie I knew what to expect by this point. The pastry is the same multi layer thick crust and the contents are chunky and full of flavour. Even when freezing and defrosting for use later the pie is still crisp and tastes fresh which is testament to the quality of ingredients.
I don't tend to add alcohol to cooking. I'm practically tee-total at the moment, but am not adverse to the use of spirits as an ingredient. It's more of a traditional chicken pie than the Thai offering, but the vermouth in this pie is a completely unexpected flavour and adds jazz to the bacon and garlic that are present. Another fantastic pie, but I don't think I have a favourite yet, but I haven't even touched their beef range yet...
KA has been around since the sixties and is produced by Barr Soft Drinks, famous for Iron-Bru and Tizer. I was first attracted to the colourful cans as these two cans practically jumped out at me from the fridge shelf in the supermarket. Secondly the flavours intrigued me. Black grape flavour sounded to me like it could be a slightly sour, fizzy, almost wine type flavour. I was not prepared for the sweetness of this drink. Looking at the ingredients, there is blackcurrant and carrot in there, but the grape flavouring that has been added to the mix overpowers everything else. The liquid tastes of a child's grape flavoured sweet, so you need a sweet tooth to appreciate this drink fully. The taste lingered in my mouth for ages afterwards and I had to have something else to drink to wash it down. On the back of the can it says "Drink Kool", but the sweetness of the drink negates any coolness. In contrast the Karibbean Kola had more of an aniseed taste to it. Cinabar mentioned that it tasted more of Cola Cubes than Cola Bottles, but still the child's sweet reference is there. It doesn't taste like a normal Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola though, more of a traditional type of cola. From the Caribbean design on the cans, I thought these may be more of a healthy tasting soft drink, such as Lilt, rather than something sweet for the kids. I'm all for kid's sweets, and still like to partake in the odd taste session, but these drinks are just too sweet for me. Blah! I guess I'm already sweet enough... ;-)
It sort of seems appropriate that one of the new flavours of Doritos is Fajita, as both the corn snack and the food substance are two things I regularly enjoy in Mexican restaurants like Chiquitos. For those that don’t know Doritos are a triangular corn based snack, seasoned with a variety of flavours. I always eat them straight out the pack, but with a sour cream dip. The bag suggests warming them up with an array of salsa, sour cream and melting cheese which sounds more than nice too. The Fajita taste is surprisingly tasty, and manages to get through a complicated but meaty and spicy element. There is a definite hit of spice, paprika, tomato and garlic, with an aftertaste of something meaty like chicken and then cheese. I know it sounds like there are too many ingredients, but it just kind of works, and is really nice. Trouble is with Doritos is that the crunchy corn base is rather a strong flavour, and does over power some of the seasoning. These have a good taste, and nice spice that hits afterwards, but I do wonder what the seasoning would taste like on a regular crisp, strong but darn fine I imagine!
I have a bit of a thing for pomegranate juice. If there is an option to choose it I will. Smoothies, juices, puddings - all of these I will bias any choices over price for a hint of a taste of this fruit. And a hint is usually what you get, 5% or so from concentrate hiding at the bottom of a smoothie or in a bottle of grape juice just to make the colour a little more exciting. This bottle promised to be 100% juice but on the online Ocado ordering page it wasn't easy to see the proportions of that juice, although the website of POM assures me that it's only pomegranate and cherry and not other lesser fruits. The bottle I ordered in my head was about twice the size of the one that arrived, but as the 236ml is sold as a portion it’s OK. It's priced as a 'health' drink rather than a 'thirsty' drink but to me it's just tasty. The cherry's sweetness takes the bitter edge off the pomegranate in a way that even Spectre and his distrust of the cherry would enjoy, but again this is all real fruit and not artificial flavours so there is a real richness of fruit. The bottle makes that lovely glugging sound that the curved mana potions bottles make too, which adds to the medicinal qualities. From the site there are POMx and POM tea and many other flavours available. While I feel I can get more pomegranate for my money in terms of actual volume of liquid from other brands in the supermarket I'm not sure that they pack quite as many fruit into a bottle. Making it from concentrate looses a few points in my book, but I think I enjoyed it enough for the premium price and will explore their range some more.
First released in 1980 and developed by Namco, Pac-Man quickly became one of the most popular video games of all time. Google even released an anniversary Pac-Man title page a few weeks back to commemorate its 30th year. To all those who are unfamiliar with gaming; Pac-Man is guided around a maze. Pac-Man is a big yellow round head with a big mouth for eating Pac-Dots. Pac-Man is chased around the maze by three ghosts; Blinky (red), Pinky (er... pink), Inky (blue) and Clyde (orange).
These sweets have been produced by Boston America Corp, famous for its Simpson's Duff Energy Drink. The company has a few Pac-Man related products including energy drinks and bandages. Being Red, Blinky is cherry flavoured and the sweets come in a red ghost shaped tin. Regular readers may remember my distaste for anything cherry flavoured after the Cherry Catastrophe beer post some moons ago. The tin is filled with small pink ghost shaped sweets. They remind me of Barratt's cherry flavoured refreshers, so they need a bit of a suck before you bite them if you don't want to break your teeth. Whilst there's nothing wrong with the taste of these sweets (asides my dislike of cherries) they couldn't really be classed as sour. Guzzling the whole tin may make you slightly hyperactive and try to keep them away from Coca Cola - unless you want an exploding fizzy drink.
Inky or the "ghost turned blue" is raspberry flavoured (though you'd think he'd be blueberry flavoured to go with the colour). Unlike cherries, I love raspberries. We have a raspberry bush in the garden that is just spewing out raspberries at the moment like there's no tomorrow. Unsurprisingly blue ghost shaped sweets fill the blue ghost tin. Although they have the same hard Refresher type texture of the Red Ghost "sours" (pah!), these sweets have a nice mild sour raspberry taste and are quite moreish once you tuck in.
Now I've finished the sweets I'm left with two rather cool looking empty tins that I'll have to find something to use them for. Boston America also make Pac-Man sweets in a yellow Pac-Man shaped tin, which are orange flavoured. We'll have to keep our eyes open for these, but I would have thought that this would have been an ideal opportunity for sour lemon sweets to match the Pac colour, rather than orange. Boston America could make Clyde the orange flavour. Pinky could be pink grapefruit, passionfruit or melon flavoured. Perhaps they could bring out a new ghost called Stinky (brown) and he could be chocolate flavoured? Though it's not in keeping with the sour theme of these sweets and I haven't heard of sour chocolate sweets. Besides, sour chocolate sweets sounds like a terribly bad idea, and if anything like that exists I'm sure Cinabar would have already tortured me with it...
My local branch of Boots knows me well, they always place the crisps by the till, and inevitably I succumb to the odd impulse purchase. As impulse purchases go at least Snack a Jacks are relatively healthy which reduces the guilt. I liked the idea of a ‘Hot Tomato’ flavour, I felt it had a lot of potential, but not that different sounding to the ‘Sweet Chilli’ variety released earlier in the year. I actually preferred these though, the tomato taste is sweet and tangy, and there is also a subtle hint of salt mixed in too. I have to question the ‘hot’ nature of these crisps mind. To me hot means that it contains a fair amount of heat, these have a gentle spice, but no burn. I know “Lightly Spiced Tomato” isn’t as catchy in terms of a name, but it would be more appropriate. Having said that I will forgive Snack a Jacks as the tomato base is rather lovely and moreish and does work rather well. I had them as an afternoon snack at work, and they kept me feeling full until dinner time. I’ll keep my eye out in the queue at Boots for any other new flavours that might come my way and report back.
The new Walkers Crunchy range seems to be available exclusively in large sharing bags. I’m fine with this, we quite often get a large bag and share it watching some TV or a film. It is an odd idea though to make crisps designed for munching, potentially during a tense film, which create ‘extra’ noise when eaten. To be fair, they aren’t that bad in terms of crunch. They are definitely crispier than regular Walkers, but nothing extreme. Consider them more like Kettle Chips or Tyrrells, crunchy but in a good way. I managed to find two flavours of these crisps:
Sweet Chilli Chicken These crisps had a gentle spice, which was sweet, had good flavour, but was not as hot as it could have been. They also seemed to be missing a strong chicken flavour which was disappointing. I liked the taste, but the lack of heat and underlying meatiness meant they sat in the pleasant category rather than the wow one.
Flame Grilled Steak These crisps had all the meatiness you could ever wish for. The beef flavour was rich and strong and they were wonderfully tasty with a lovely barbecue tang. They felt quite similar to the T-Bone Steak Roysters crisps, which means they get a resounding thumbs up. I do like meaty flavours for crisps, and these more than ticked all the boxes.
The new Extra Crunchy range of crisps have a lovely texture, and I’m looking forward to tracking down any other flavours that are available.
Let’s face it - we don't use our microwaves as often as we used to.
Sure they are great for defrosting things, and occasionally melting chocolate for recipes but the dream of using them as a main cooker that we had in the 90s is long gone. One thing they are useful for is quick lunches. Baked Beans & cans of odd pasta shapes tend to be the favourite, but also appearing more and more are instant rice packs. Sharwood's has decided to go one better and bring a range of instant noodles out.
I'm unfairly sceptical about these kind of things, and that’s from the perspective of someone who ate microwave rice for lunch for around a year when money was tight. These are the same deal - tear a notch in the pack, bung in the microwave for 2 mins, and try not to scald yourself on the pack or the hot water vapours escaping from the top when they are done. Unlike the rice though the noodles seem to be much moister and don't dry out when cooking. The flavour of the Soy & Sesame was actually really good, and while there was a hint of unfamiliarity about the textures compared to wok cooked noodles the lack of washing up and the speed of delivery more than made up for this. For the plain version I added a lot of Kikoman Soy Sauce to the mix and this made a good substitute, but for speed and simplicity I think i'll stick to the flavoured variety.
Even Mr. Tickle was pleased with the results! These will go on the shopping list for that same snack slot that Pot Noodle & Super Noodle fill, only I think these are a more efficient and sophisticated solution to the quick lazy bachelor chow problem.
I mentioned my liking for Barrat's Sherbet Dip Dab in the Wham XTRM post. Another old favourite of mine is the orange flavour in Swizzels Matlow's Orange and Cherry Double Dip with Swizzelstick. I never particularly liked the cherry flavour and always ate that first to get it out of the way. Let's face it cherry flavoured things don't go down well with me - cherry sweets, cherry beers, cherry in cakes, whatever... I just don't like cherry flavouring in food. Weirdly, Cinabar made me eat a real black cherry the other day and I actually liked it! Both types of dips had the worrying moment when you either ran out of dip before finishing the Swizzelstick / lolly or visa versa, or the moment when your furious licking and munching punched a hole in the paper packaging. And let's face it, you do not want to sneeze when this stuff is around and devastation for a child is a broken Swizzelstick!
Owned by Nestle, the Wonka brand has a wide variety of products. Fun Dip started off life in 1942 under the name of Lik-m-aid, which is still subtitled on the packaging. Lik-m-aid was first produced by Sunline Inc., which was bought by Nestle in 1989. This Fun Dip has three flavours of dip with 2 candy stix in the usual paper packaging. The flavours are RazzApple Magic Dip, Grape-Yumpilous Dip and Cherry-Yum-Diddly Dip. Gah! What's the fascination with cherry flavour all the time? Three dips and two candy stix seems like Wonka is trying to trounce Swizzels Matlow with the more, more, more theory. Most people know what a Double Dip is though, and as far as I know the phrase hasn't turned into a euphemism yet.
Cherry flavour was first up, for reasons previously mentioned. I ripped open the top of the first stick, which is a white vanilla flavoured icelolly shaped stick with Lik-a-Stix embossed on both sides. With some trepidation I opened the cherry flavour compartment. Having said that, I had a shiver of excitement that reminded me of my school days on ripping open packets of these type of sweets on an almost daily basis. The usual sweet cherry flavouring complimented the vanilla stick very well and in no time I found myself hungrily dipping and licking away like a small child. In an office environment you can imagine this received some odd looks from my colleagues. One mentioned it reminded her of when she was a child eating Double Dips. "This is Triple Dip" I replied greedily. As with Double Dips I was still faced with the same problem, the stick is rounded at the ends so can't get all the sherbet out of the packet. The more you try, the more you lick, the more the paper packet starts to rip under the constant pressure from the wet stick.
Still on my first Lik-a-Stix I ripped open the raspberry apple flavour. The raspberry apple sherbet is blue in colour, which threw me a little to start with. The sherbet goes green when wet, so when the wet stick hit sherbet my initial confusion was ended. There's a subtle raspberry mixed with apple flavour to this sherbet that becomes very moreish very quickly. I found myself gorging on this flavour and wanting more and more. A thin film of raspberry apple flavoured sherbet started to cover my keyboard, monitor and desk. At one point I caught myself rocking back and forth whilst dipping and licking with a little too much excitement. During the cherry flavour I'd found myself missing the orange flavour from Double Dip. The raspberry apple flavour made up for the disappointment. At the end of the raspberry apple sherbet the wet packaging started to buckle and I dumped the Lik-a-Stix into my mouth realising I had one whole flavour left and one whole Lik-a-Stix...
Ripping open the second Lik-a-Stix compartment I noticed my heart was pounding faster in my chest and I was having a massive sugar rush. Watch out if you feed this to an already over active kid, it'd probably be like adding a Refresher to a bottle of Coca-Cola. In quick succession the grape flavour compartment was torn asunder. The sherbet is a violet / purple colour. Mistaken in my greedy rush I dipped the stick in and was slightly confused by the taste. I thought this flavour would be the greatest of all. Not really tasting of an actual real life purple grape, this sherbet has more of a medicinal flavour that would come in some child's grape / blackcurrent medicine tablet. What was first conceived as the best flavour of the three immediately became the worst. I must admit I couldn't finish the compartment and crashed out of my sugar high with a resounding wheeze. I ate the Lik-a-Stix though.
So "Triple" Fun Dip could easily become Double Dip by dropping the revolting grape flavour. The over rated cherry flavour could easily be taken over by an orange flavour, that with the raspberry apple flavour could therefore create the greatest Double Dip of all time. One Lik-a-Stick is quite enough though, and for crying out loud; make it a bit more pointy to reach the corners of each paper compartment! Not too pointy though, for obvious reasons...
I spotted this pudding in M&S, picked it up and stared at it for a long while. I like liquorice, but not quite enough for this pot to appeal. The black layers of jelly put me off, and I thought to myself that I am not enough of a liquorice fan to give it a fair review. I put it back. After I picked up my other items I went back to the shelf and popped it into my basket and thought to myself that as my mum is the biggest liquorice fan I know, I would get her to try it! What follows is my mum thoughts on the dessert:
“It’s a very pretty dessert, with its wobbly stripes of black and cream, and I liked the layout of the pudding. Opening the lid there is a pleasant smell of fruit and liquorice, which is rather appetising. A layer of passion fruit jelly lies on top of an orange fruit juice mousse. The jelly has a good flavour, with a gentle tang, and the mousse has a fresh orange taste, and is thick and creamy. Below this is a layer of black jelly, it has a gentle but good flavour and is really surprisingly pleasant. The taste is similar to those discs in Liquorice Allsorts covered in hundreds and thousands, but without that tough texture, and they are really lovely. Underneath there is another layer of orange mousse and a final layer of more liquorice jelly. It is an unusual dessert, but it works and is delicious. All the flavour of Liquorice Allsorts but with a velvety creamy texture!”
A while ago I reviewed what I called at the time 'Superhero' Iced tea. A commenter by the name of jcafarley translated it to say it was 'Master Kang Black Iced Tea'
While in London I found what appears to be the complementary green tea, only in a different (older?) packaging and attributed to Mr. Kon (which is close enough with the language style differences and rebranding). At first I was shocked by the bitterness of this - I picked it up towards the end of the day with a few other snacks and wasn't immediately impressed by its drinkability.
I popped it into my bag and forgot about it. The following day I was thirsty and willing to give it another shot and actually found it to be much more enjoyable. I'm not sure whether it was that the liquid was now room temperature instead of chilled, or that it was a hot day and I was just more thirsty but I enjoyed it a lot more. I could really taste the tea and the fact that it was brewed and not made from tea extracts, and it had a lovely delicate balance of herbal flavours with very little sweetness.
Since returning to Birmingham I have had this in the New Sum Ye restaurant with a lovely Chicken & Honey dish and it proved to be a really nice counterpoint to the strong flavours of the dish. Green tea isn't to everyone's taste and I'd definitely say that the lemon version is a nicer drink by itself, but with a meal this green tea can't be beaten for refreshing and cleansing the palate.
I have to say I am feeling quite excited about getting my hands on this new chocolate bar from Cadbury. This new bar has ‘Challenge’ in its title, and it really all is about competing. There is a cute advertising campaign supporting it too, it has the usual elaborate Cadbury type of thing and shows fish with spots and fish with stripes all competing against each other. Think gorilla playing the drums, you sort of get it, but sort of don’t, but it doesn’t really matter! The bar is split into three sections, each piece consists of a chunk of milk chocolate with a chunk of white chocolate on top. The two end pieces of white chocolate are decorated one with spots and one with stripes, hence the name of the bar. The middle piece is also decorated, but with the word ‘winner’. The idea is that this bar is shared between two, and each person chooses either stripes or spots and has the piece of chocolate with their pattern. There is then a competition to see who wins the final piece, the wrapper outlines how to compete for the chocolate. The ideas in the wrapper are all quite fun, with such things as ‘staring competitions’ or ‘thumb war’ etc, all involve little extra equipment and no mess . The chocolate itself consists of a Dairy Milk base, and the white chocolate that tops it is sweet and creamy too. When the two types of chocolate are consumed together is does make a lovely sweet treat, it is quite rich, but my sweet tooth had no objections! I like the idea of this bar, it brings some fun back into chocolate, and not just for the children too. ;-) Spectre is yet to beat me at a thumb war! If you like your Dairy Milk chocolate, and have a sense of fun, you will love this bar and on this occasion remember it is okay to play with your food!
I have written about a fair few of the Cadbury desserts in the past from this range, all with lovely ingredients like Wispa, Mini Eggs and Fudge and I have enjoyed all of them. This particular Limited Edition version has a corner of the pot filled Cadbury Clusters, which are one of Cadbury’s new sharing bag products. When I peeled back the lid, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed by what I saw. The Cluster corner was not packed to the rim, in fact it looked quite spacey in there, and sadly the pieces looked quite small. I realise that the dessert would work best with some smaller chunks, but some big meatier pieces mixed in would have been nice too. Flavour wise I have no complaints. The ‘yoghurt’ part (ie chocolate sauce, liquid chocolate – I don’t really know what to call it) is lovely. It is sweet, creamy and with a lovely milk chocolate flavour, quite thick but in a good way. If you have tried the other desserts, you know what to expect! The Clusters add a nice mix of textures, and the raisin and crunch worked rather well with the ‘yoghurt’. I particularly enjoyed the sweet juicy raisins, and the only improvement I would make is a few more Clusters with some of them being a little bigger too – that would be yum!
Fox’s have launched these new Oat flavoured biscuit bars, which I added to my lunch box for an afternoon treat. The bars come in a multipack, and have just 104 calories, so they don’t make you feel too guilty! The internal packaging is a little basic, with plain orange print, and the biscuit bars seemed a little smaller than I was expecting. Inside the wrapper though is a pleasing looking biscuit coated in chocolate. The chocolate is quite thick, creamy and sweet and makes a good contrast to the biscuit underneath. The bar is quite chunky, and the wonderful flavour of oats shines through and works nicely with the smooth chocolate. Not the most innovative biscuit bar I’ve ever tried, but I certainly don’t have any complaints, the rich chocolate and the golden flavour made it a very enjoyable treat.
Pieminister via Ocado number 2, Mr Porky Pie is as you'd suspect a pig based affair. I decided to go halves this time after I was almost beaten by the Thai Chook Pie on the last review. As you can see not only is the pie full of filling, but the filling is in large, recognisable chunks.
Hot pork pies are not really that common, beef and chicken seem to be the popular choices where as the pork pie is eaten cold with salad. There is no logical reason for this, it's probably a tradition or an old charter or something but I think that Pieminister aim to change this. After sampling the wonderfully thick pastry on top and having a few pasta wheels the pie had cooled to the point where I could tuck into the filling.
I think the greatest complement that I can make about Pieminister pies is that you can taste all the ingredients. If it's written on the front of the box then you will get subtle or strong hits of it as you eat. The larger chunks of ingredient mean that the flavour is different with each mouthful and you may get more pork or more apple and cider depending on where you bite.
Half a pie with a mountain of pasta really is a good meal, proving that Pieminister pies really are twice as good as your typical store bought pie.
After my initial confusion as to why the veteran film critic would bring out a brand of pickled onions, I was quite taken by the clapperboard label; "Hot and Spicy", and "Crunchy" the label proclaims. These pickled onions came out a couple of years ago and have since been declared the strongest pickled onions available in the UK. They are from a 19th Century recipe passed down from Barry Norman's grandmother to mother and finally to Barry. After years of eating regular pickled onions and recently discovering Morrison's "The Best" pickled onions in balsamic vinegar, I was looking forward to trying something different. On opening the jar I immediately noticed the mustard seeds bobbing around in the vinegar. The mustard seeds had a nice heat to them and popped in my mouth as I bit into them. On smelling the pickled onions I suddenly had plenty of offers to try them from prospective tasters in the room and practically had to fight them off to get a small pile of onions to myself. The pickled onions are zingy with a good crunch (as stated on the clapperboard label). They have a lovely heat and strong tang to them that makes these pickled onions one of the most flavoursome and moreish snack foods I've ever had the pleasure of trying. For an alternative to crisps or popcorn, I reckon a good film snack would comprise of some pitted olives, pickled gherkins, regular pickled onions, and balsamic pickled onions, all topped with Barry Norman's Hot and Spicy. On the other hand the balsamic pickled onions and Barry Norman's would do nicely with perhaps some strong cheese on the side. I can almost hear Barry say "and why not?" at the suggestion. I'm sure it would make a healthier movie munch, just don't expect to be kissed much when the credits roll...
In order to celebrate Tyrrells first potato harvest, they have produced a crisp with a very delicate but intriguing flavour. Choosing the two best accompaniments for a bowl of new potatoes, many people would naturally pick butter and fresh garden mint, but in terms of a flavouring for crisps they do make a refreshing change. One of my favourite crisps of days gone by was a packet produced by Marks & Spencers that was simply Jacket Potato with Butter flavour; I just loved the creaminess of them. I really don’t know how they got discontinued, and often still check for them on the shelves of M&S, just in case of a relaunch! These Tyrrells crisps do remind me of them, but with bells on. The mint with the butter adds a lovely fresh flavour, and the ingredients work beautifully together. The tang of herbs and creaminess are just such a clever taste, and I absolutely loved them. Interestingly I haven’t even got to the best part, the potato base of the crisps are just wonderfully flavoursome too, with a lovely light crisp crunch. This is an excellent example of how a collection of simple flavours can work so perfectly together and hands down beat a lot overly strange or complicated varieties for crisps.
Recently I visited London to see the mighty Penn & Teller on their first UK tour since the 90s and happened to be thirsty and in a newsagent. I spotted the full range of these BLISS drinks that I have seen advertised on the Metro in the Midlands but never seen in stores. As they are £1.99 for a single bottle compared to £1.20 for a typical drink I decided to only buy one kind.
I chose Neuro Bliss which claims "Feel good... with modern science's greatest blend of mood enhancers" and due to the stresses of wandering around London and the crowds I decided it was the perfect choice. In the morning we toured the science museum and then as it happened I'd planned to meet up with music loving friends for lunch so headed for Honest John's record shop and began to drink away.
Despite looking like what can only be described as very watery milk the taste was not terrible. It tastes like an attempt at lemonade, it is lightly carbonated and has a slight tang to it. It was drinkable and fairly refreshing. As I ended up on Portobello road, near the famous market I could already hear the Reggae music and feel myself relaxing. This was most likely due to the atmosphere and only partially due to the drink. I had falafel and home made lemonade (which tasted much nicer than this) and then while walking around finished off the drink.
While I did certainly get stressed that day (but not as stressed as on the final day where my fiancée and I ended up on different tube trains while running late for the train home...) I'm not sure whether the drink helped reduce it or not. I was certainly in a generally good mood that day, but to spend £2 on an amusingly shaped bottle of something that looks like breast milk I think you have to be in a pretty good mood to start with.
The pleasingly shaped bottle has not yet been recycled and is now on my desk.
A little while ago I was railroaded into trying the Donner Kebab Pot Noodle. Although I was dubious at first, I rather enjoyed the Pot Noodle and visited the website to see what other flavours Unilever had on offer. The Bombay Bad Boy sprang out at me from the web page promising to be even hotter than the Donner Kebab, so I decided to hunt one down. I picked one up from a local supermarket and decided to have it with a Kamikaze BLT one night whilst watching The Fellowship of the Ring. My Kamikaze BLTs involve several finely chopped chilli's (these were grown by my own fair hand in our greenhouse), a thickly cut tomato, a huge amount of iceberg lettuce and six just cooked rashers of bacon. This sandwich looks like and tastes like the perfect hot Scooby Snack.
Whilst grilling the bacon (trying to be healthy) I opened the pot and boiled the kettle. I followed the usual instructions of add boiling water, leave two minutes, stir, leave two minutes, add sachet of Hot Fire Chilli Sauce and stir again. After a few minutes I decided to have a taste. I was suddenly reminded of the messiness of Pot Noodles as noodles and sauce went in all directions, some of which went in my mouth after a rather uncouth slurp. I noticed the peas and sweet corn bobbing around between the noodles in the pot and felt a good heat from the sauce. Despite the "incredibly hot curry flavour" warning on the outside of the Pot Noodle, I was slightly disappointed. My Kamikaze BLT was hotter than this Pot Noodle. I felt that the chopped red chilli's that were in the Donner Kebab Pot Noodle made me sweat a little and set my mouth aflame. Compared to the Donner Kebab (and my sandwich), the Bombay Bad Boy appears a bit lame, although very tasty with a medium hot curry flavour. I did actually like the taste of this Pot Noodle more than the Donner Kebab flavour. Having said that, the last time Cinabar went to the store she asked me if I wanted a Pot Noodle and I immediately asked for the Donner Kebab, I guess I prefer the heat after all.
Fox’s have decided to have a rolling ‘Limited Edition’ in their sweets range that changes seasonally. This is the current Limited Edition, and it does indeed seem rather summery to my taste buds as it includes some of the sweeter juicer fruits. When I opened the bag I think I was expecting there to be three varieties of sweets inside, and it took me a minute to realise that the flavour was actually just one mixed fruit flavour. This is because the ‘regular’ Glacier Fruits have a mix of six flavours in the bag, so I just assumed when I saw several fruit names on the pack that these would be a mix too. Having said that the chosen fruits do make a good combination of flavours, they are all golden sweet fruits that are wonderfully juicy and complement each other well. It is nice to see such a well put together mix of tastes. The peach is the dominant flavour, and the mango and passion fruit shine through beautifully in the background. I loved these sweets, I love how they captured the juicy flavours, and how the taste is lovely, rich and sweet. They have a decent percentage of natural fruit juices in their ingredients and this really adds to their quality. They managed to take me away from the dreary wet August we are having in the UK, to a Tropical place for a few minutes!
How exciting to find a new brand of crisps on the market, and from two cool biker chefs too! The packaging is really sweet, with a drawing of the two of them top right, and lots of nice little messages in text form all over the bag, for example “There is passion in a potato”. By the time I came to open the bag, I was already convinced they would taste fantastic, thanks to the on bag motivational comments! The aroma was quite mild, with just a hint of meatiness to it. The crisps had a good flavour though, there was a slightly sweet meatiness about them, and a salty cheese after taste. The cheese had but only the vaguest blue cheese tang, but did have a nice aftertaste. It was the Prosciutto that shone through as the dominant flavour, and gave these crisps there Italian feel. The crunch of the potato was lovely, light, not too thick but wonderfully crisp, and with the most lovely underlying rich potato taste was present too. I have managed to find some other flavours in this range, and literally can’t wait to try, taste, and write about those very soon! They have such interesting flavours, nice to see a change from the usual Salt and Vinegar!
Again these were things picked up from the Ocado home delivery service for a weekend away in London. I though they highlighted the differences between your typical store branded food and Waitrose things.
The strawberry laces were one of my favourite as a child/teenager and the favourite brand were always hollow which meant you could use them as a straw. This was great and playing with your food never had so many options. These however are a more luxurious solid tube, with a more distinct strawberry taste. Like all pre-packaged sweets they cling to themselves and the bag refusing to come out without stretching and snapping but that is half of the fun. I ate most of these on the train on the way back.
The pretzels were unexpected really. I've had salt & Pepper Real crisps a few times and love them, but I'd never had pepper on pretzels until now. The taste change is quite profound, taking them from being a background snack for with drinks into being something that demands attention and has a mix of flavours with each bite. The fun of pretzels is that the mix of salt grains means that no two bites are the same, but add pepper into the mix and you just have to keep eating to find out which you like best. We ate these sitting watching the crowds around the tower of London, which was probably a bad idea as they make you quite thirsty. Better to save these for summer parties along with the Tomato Pretz I think.
We also took Smarties (in their funny flat sided tubes) but I'm going to go ahead and presume that they are not that unusual and most people have tried them. Even with the new 'no artificial' colours & flavours they are still the same old sweet we love, but without the fun collectable coloured lids.
Cinabar recently returned from a few days break away in Bristol and excitedly shoved these two bottles of beer under my nose. Chalky is Rick Stein's dog and the beers are named after him. Chalky’s Bark is noted on the label as a “classic aged beer naturally flavoured with fresh ginger”. This made me shrink a little, as even though I’m happy to eat ginger in most forms (mainly biscuits and cake) I’ve never liked ginger beer. Yet this beer doesn’t claim at all to be ginger beer, more like beer ginger. On opening the bottle I received a light whiff of ginger as I poured the brew into a tall glass. The beer itself is pale ale with an initial hit of lemon followed by an aftertaste of ginger. On first taste I noticed my error, and that I hadn’t learnt from my recent Raisin’ Hell experience, of beer needing to be drank with food. This beer clearly begs to be drunk with a good seafood meal. As with the Orange Peel beer; salmon, bass, prawns, shellfish and most other seafood would go magic with this beer. Drank alone, Chalky’s Bark, with its pale ale mixed with ginger and lemon give a faintly copper taste in the mouth that leaves you with the memory of when you may have “accidentally” licked a coin as a child to see what it tasted like. Chalky’s Bite was released two years before Chalky’s bark. This darker beer is flavoured with wild Cornish fennel. On reading the label there is a recommendation for drinking this beer whilst eating mussels. I hate mussels. On a recent trip to Wales I stupidly ordered a starter of mussels in a creamy sauce which filled a bread trough. Cinabar had mentioned her seriously toned brother swore by mussels for a healthy meal, and I was secretly hoping that they’d prove a good aphrodisiac for later on that evening. Quite the opposite happened when I was given the starter as I muscled into the mussel filled pale sauced bread trough to find the fishy flavoured Tick shaped creatures. I just couldn’t cope with the way they looked (at me and cried “don’t eat me!”) or the texture as they burst in my mouth when I bit into them. Suffice to say, Cinabar swapped starters with me and I was left feeling a little queasy for the rest of the meal. However, I digress. Chalky’s Bite has a herby smell and flavour to it. It’s a slightly darker stronger flavoured beer than the Bark, but has a medicinal taste to it that makes you imagine a nurse tipped an old drunk’s medicine into his beer to trick him into taking it. In conclusion Chalky’s Bite is worse than Chalky’s Bark, though I prefer to drink the Orange Peel beer with seafood. As far as I’m aware, seafood is good for dogs, but beer is bad – very bad. So no wonder Chalky keeps biting people!
I've had Chorizo in various forms before; generally on Pizza or in casseroles where the flavour mixes with all the other components, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this new crisp flavour offering from M&S. Chorizo is a spicy sausage and depending on where you're from, may be cooked with varying ingredients. Spanish and Portuguese Chorizo have a smoky flavour and a deep red colour from dried smoked red peppers and paprika. Mexican Chorizo is made with chilli peppers, due to the expense of smoked paprika. I was taken aback by the dark red colour of the crinkle cut crisps and the spicy smoked sausage and heavy paprika bite. Looks to me like these crisps are the Spanish / Portuguese kind of Chorizo. The crisps have a thick wholesome crunch to them and a hint of cheese that nudges through the paprika. There is a good chilli heat in each crisp, though not burning your lips and tongue or giving you an unhealthy sweat, make you feel alive whilst eating them. My only disappointment with these crisps is that I only bought the one pack. Having said that, Marks & Spencer stores are almost everywhere nowadays... I'll get my coat.
We seem to have a distinct lack of cinnamon sweets here in the UK, so when David H drew my attention to the American Hot Tamales, I was delighted to discover they were available on the UK Amazon. They come in a rather ominous bright red bag, and each sweet is similarly bright red in colour, about the size of a large jelly bean. When I ate the first sweet, I discovered why they have ‘Hot’ in the title, these sweets burn of cinnamon! Thankfully they only burn for a few seconds, and then they settle into a rather lovely sweet warm spicy taste. They become chewy, and the flavour subsides further to a rather wonderful gentle cinnamon tingle! I suspect they would still keep you warm on a cold day! I am big cinnamon fan, and think these sweets are absolutely fab. Having said that if you are not a fan, be warned the first few seconds of heat might be enough to put you right off!
It gives you a mini weather forecast, and based on that tells you the best way to enjoy your Maltesers ice cream.
To celebrate this app, Maltesers have very kindly sent some goodies to give away. If you want to be in with a chance of winning a prize simply send me an email with the answer to the following question?
What does the Maltesers facebook app help you do?
Just send an email, with the subject line 'Comp' and your answer to: NOW CLOSED WINNERS TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY
Competition closes: 8pm 14/08/2010
Terms/Conditions • Any personal data will only be used for processing of this competition. • The winner will be chosen at random from the correct answers. • UK residents only. • Competition closes 8pm on 14th Aug 2010. • If I can’t get in touch with the winner in a reasonable amount of time to obtain an address another winner will be selected. • If you have any questions about this competition, please send me an email or leave a comment below.
I get the munchies during films or those travel TV programmes where someone goes off on a big adventure somewhere far off where I've never visited or would probably never do so. I generally turn to crisps and chocolate first, but regular readers may remember my quest to find a healthy snack food. I love olives, pickled eggs and my latest favourite are pickled onions from Morrison's called; "The Best", and I assure you they are. A while back I had Pickled Makok, an almost inedible hard as nails fruit that hardly melted in my mouth.
I took my self down to the same Chinese supermarket to see if I could find anything softer than makok. The first jar I picked up was Pickled Eggplant. Wikipedia told me these are classed as berries and native to India (although some citations were needed in places....!). Eggplants are also richer in nicotine than any other edible plant, though smokers don't get too excited, as it would take 9kg of eggplant to match the nicotine level of one cigarette. I could see why they call them eggplants from the little cream egg shaped berries in the jar. Eggplants come in all shapes and sizes, in cream and in black. The eggplants in the jar where about half the size of an actual chicken's egg. Popping one in my mouth I found the berry itself almost as hard as Pickled Makok, but just as bitter and as I tried to mash it with my teeth it became a solid inedible blob in my mouth that I just had to spit out. Not an experience I'd like to repeat, unless stuck in the wilderness in some Asian country and faced with eggplant or death.
Pickled Galanga or Blue Ginger is a Rhizome or root of plants of the genus Alpinia originating from Indonesia (good old Wikipedia...). After eating I learnt that this root is mainly used for cooking, and is used in Tom Yum soup, which is one of my favourite soups of all time. As the root has been cut into small slices they look like small cream coloured hard rounded slabs. On eating the Galanga I found it was even harder than eggplant and makok. There is a bitter, but not as bitter as ginger, and slightly soupy taste to Galanga. Once chewed a few times it turns into the same hard inedible type of mush similar to the eggplant. It's much like eating oddly flavoured carpet. I had to spit this out also, and decided that I'd stick to olives, pickled eggs and pickled onions for healthy snacks from now on. I'm not sure my teeth or my poor tummy could take any more pickled oriental weirdness...
When I wrote about the Hog Roast flavour of Wicked Pig last month, I did say I would hunt down the other flavours too. I’m pleased to say that I have since found the Firecracker Chilli and the Sweet and Sour edition. Both of these consist of soft cooked pork flavour bites ready to snack on.
Sweet and Sour Oh my, when you open the bag you really know about it. There is an amazing aroma of garlic and spices that emerge and fill the room. Sadly it was more overpowering than appetising to my taste buds and actually put me off a little. Once you are passed the smell though, the flavour is not as bad as you might expect. Each pork bite is slightly sweet and tangy with a strong but acceptable amount of herbs and a decent meatiness. Quite tasty, but I wouldn’t recommend opening them if you have a hangover or feel unwell!
Firecracker Chilli Again there was quite a strong smell when I opened the bag, but it has to be said it was not as bad as the Sweet and Sour edition. There is a good pork flavour, with a decent amount of spices, and then a burn. This chilli burn builds up the more you eat, and as I ate more and more I found myself gasping for water! These are not for the feint hearted!!! Oh how they burn! But if you love a proper chilli kick – do give them a go, as they won’t disappoint.
In conclusion the Sweet and Sour smell put me off them, although the taste was absolutely fine. The Firecracker Chilli were too hot for me, so I wouldn’t buy them again – but I do realise chilli lovers will adore them! Out of the three flavours I’ve tried, the Hog Roast is my winner.
Innocent are supporting the National Trust and helping to increase the dwindling numbers of bees in the UK. They are doing this by releasing this very special flavour of smoothie which will help to contribute. Naturally the smoothie flavour comes packed with a well themed honey burst, but what I wasn’t expecting was the (barely mentioned) banana flavour running through it too. I like banana, but I do realise that it is a controversial taste, so I thought I would give those that dislike it a bit of a heads up. Also mixed in with the flavours is a lovely hint of lemon, zingy but still sweet and it works rather well with honey flavour, bringing it balance. The after taste is that of a mild spice from a gentle kick of ginger, which does add a nice tang at the end. The drink is very refreshing, although the flavours of lemon and honey do seem to be more wintery to my taste buds. This may be due to their association with colds / cough medicine flavouring! Did I mention there is also a free packet of mystery seeds, for flowers that encourage bees. This is such a nice idea, and good for the bees too. I will plant them and update you on the progress!
Like most UK homeowners I get a lot of junk mail. Most of it is addressed to previous occupants and as this is a Victorian house you get quite a variety of names. One of the pieces of junk was for home food delivery service Ocado - the mail order arm of the high class supermarket Waitrose. As the voucher promised £30 off your first order and free delivery I gave it a shot and have been very pleased with the results.
While the prices of brand name food is similar to other hyper-global-mega-market Tesco where Waitrose gets its reputation is by having an own brand product that costs more than the average brand due to being high quality. Also they stock a few smaller brands like the Fentimans colas & Lizi cereals. Also in stock are the range of Pieminister pies.
I know of Pieminister for the same reason I know about Brothers cider - Glastonbury. Over by the former Jazz stage these both have stands selling the perfect mix of laid back fuels - cider & pies. Brothers have successfully launched their brand to the high-street and it's looking like the Pieminister boys are doing the same.
Each pie is a little bit more unusual than your typical pie - no kidneys here! Thai chook pie is Thai green curry in their famous thick pastry case and really quite a satisfying eat. The chunks of chicken are large enough to attract the attention of our cat, although the curry meant that he only ate the one bit before looking a bit confused and going back to sleep. For the rest of us this pie is large enough to be a meal in itself, most of the chips I added as a side were left uneaten. The flavour is spicy, but not overbearing and you can still taste the pastry.
Best of all there was no mud involved and I can now slowly work my way through their range from home. More oddities from the home pie delivery service to come.