Thursday, 31 March 2011

Chinese Strawberry Sandwich Cookies [By @NLi10]



These are another one of the items I was gifted that I put off eating, and similar to the pineapple Jammie Dodger style biscuits are actually quite nice (but not as moreish).

I'd delayed opening them thinking that it was one big tray of cookies and I'd never make it through all of them. As it turns out these are perfect lunchbox fodder as they are individually packed and sealed.

The product itself is a little strange - it's mid way between cake and biscuit which if I remember my Home Ec (sorry - Food Technology) GCSE is shortening. Inside this is a little strawberry jam, but it's not that exciting. It's a nice little snack and fairly filling so I only required one at a time. They were pretty popular in the office too as initial scepticism fell away and everyone wanted to try one (or have one for later).

I think that my fear of odd oriental snack food is beginning to subside, which is usually followed by me eating some kind of sweet that actually contains shellfish or something else I don't like. As it stands though I'm doing quite well.
By NLi10

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Snack A Jacks: Crunchy Curls - Sweet Chilli Kick (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]


These are rather different from regular Snack A Jacks, as they are expanding the range to include a new lighter product. The actual contents look surprisingly similar to the contents of a packet of Quavers, but the contents of this bag are a mix of tapioca, rice and corn. Spectre will be pleased though as these snacks aren’t drying, they do just feel light and crunch and have a very pleasant texture, and despite the ingredients the base flavour isn’t that dissimilar to mild potato.
The seasoning is very much the central flavour and it feels like it has a lovely mix of tomato and Worcestershire sauce. Although initially quite tangy, I was disappointed by the lack of heat from a snack with the word ‘chilli’ in the title. Having said that, the more I ate, the more a gentle warmth developed in my mouth. By the time I finished the pack, there was a gentle spicy flavour from the chilli, which provided a mild but noticeable heat, but not by any means would it be strong enough to be offensive. Personally I would have liked a bit more of a kick, but I do sometimes think snack manufacturers play the ultra safe card with chilli. Do they not think that people who buy something with a chilli flavour actually want a chilli taste?
The entire bag seemed quite substantial to eat, was tasty and moreish to munch during my afternoon at work. It really did make for a decent snack, even without a chilli burn. I was pleasantly surprised that the whole bag only contained 88 calories, which was far less than I would have guessed. Any snack that is healthier, but still has lots of taste and texture is a total bonus in my book!
By Cinabar

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Schell: Essig-Schleckerle [Vinegar Chocolates] (Germany) [By @Cinabar]


My dad travels a fair bit, and the bonus from my point of view is that he has an eye for interesting products from far afield. This particular set of chocolates comes from Germany, and each one is made with a different type of vinegar. It may not seem like a natural pairing, but I was still looking forward to giving them a try. There are four chocolate in the set, all looking professionally made and are neatly packaged in this taster set with a bow.



Muller Thurgau White Wine Vinegar
This chocolate consists of a dark chocolate with a white chocolate stripe. In retrospect I wouldn’t have attempted to cut it in half had I known the centre was liquid! The dark chocolate was of a very good quality and the contents displayed no crystallization. The liquid centre was a little sour, but the sweetness from the chocolate balanced it out. It was a surprisingly pleasant mix of tastes. Both sweet and sour, which tantalized the taste buds, and made me look forward to sampling the other chocs.



Riesling Wine Vinegar
This is a milk chocolate looking truffle with a sprinkling of hazelnut on the top, and a portion of nuts at the bottom. The truffle within this chocolate was firm and a little gritty from the hazelnut, which even added a crunch from the base. The flavour was quite intense from the vinegar and it added quite a zingy flavour. The milk chocolate is creamy and sweet and the extra sweetness from the coating balances the stronger vinegar rather nicely.



Balsamic Vinegar
This is the second dark chocolate in the set, and I prised it open rather carefully. I discovered that there was a truffle filling within, and not a liquid centre. The texture of the truffle was of one that was quite wet, but rather silky. The chocolate was again of a good quality and added deep cocoa tones and sweetness that blended with the tangy Balsamic. We all know Balsamic Vinegar goes well on sweet tomatoes, and I can add, it goes strangely well on chocolate! The mix of sugar and cocoa almost make it taste like a good quality sherry.



Limberger Wine Vinegar
Finally in the set we have the Limberger chocolate. It has a white chocolate roof, and a dark chocolate casing. As well as the Limberger Wine Vinegar mousse within the case there is also a layer of marzipan. This particular centre was quite acidic, but the marzipan and chocolate seemed to pull it together in such a way that it felt rather like a lemon truffle. Zesty, strong, but still sweet and refreshing. The marzipan was a little overpowered, but its contribution to the overall taste is far from lost. This chocolate is just a very clever combination that almost tricks you into thinking it is something slightly different to what it is. It’s like Schell were told to make a lemon truffle, but were also told they weren’t allowed to use any lemons! It is quite hard to describe really, so probably the easiest summary is; I think I saved the best chocolate to last. :-)

These Schell chocolates have a lovely way of playing with flavours, and shows that unusual ingredients can be paired successfully. They have a lovely tang, and worked remarkably well. If you happen to find them abroad, or in a boutique chocolate shop, I’d give them a try as they have a lovely mischievous mix of tastes, and those with a spirit of adventure will absolutely love them.
By Cinabar

Monday, 28 March 2011

Kit Kat Pop Chocs (Sainsbury’s) [By @cinabar]




Kit Kat Pop Chocs maybe a new product for us in the UK but they have been readily available across the rest of Europe for quite some time. In fact they quite often appeared in pound shops and were also sometimes available in import shops too. I have actually written about them before, but I felt it was worth giving them another mention as they are now quite accessible, and even have TV advertising supporting their launch! Funnily enough since last Summer Kit Kat Pop Choc yogurts have been on the shelves in Britain, even though the chocolates weren’t available on their own! Perhaps Nestle were testing the water?
First thing is first; the bag opened easily revealing a re-sealable strip underneath. The reason I mention this is because back in June when I wrote about the import version, I had a bit of a fight to open the bag – the ‘tear here’ mark was actually above the part that sealed it closed. Thankfully the UK version didn’t have this problem.
The chocolate chunks are mostly in the form of smoothed cubes, with rather rounded edges. I found this a bit disappointing as the anal part of me actually really likes the geometric sharp edges on the regular KitKat bar. Notably there were a high percentage of double pieces in the bag, where two chunks had been made together and formed a rectangle. These pieces were particularly satisfying to munch and part of me wished for a bag just of these!
The flavour and texture of the Pop Chocs is much in keeping with that of a regular milk chocolate Kit Kat, nice and easy going. The chocolate is pleasant, milky and sweet and the wafer gives way nicely as you bite in. There isn’t much new in the way of flavours, but don’t be deceived by this, the contents are well and truly moreish.
These chocs are buying into the current popularity of share bags, and if you are going round a friends to watch a film, these will indeed go down a treat. Finger crossed the Lion Pop Chocs (mentioned in the European Kit Kat Pop Choc write up) also get a specific UK release.
By Cinabar

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Apple Yogurt & Real Blueberry Pocky (Day-In Supermarket, Birmingham) [by @NLi10]


Apple Yogurt

Glico have a habit of choosing flavours that both intrigue and repulse at the same time. I don't think I've ever considered apple flavoured yogurt before, it's just not one of the fruits I associate with that kind of pudding. I'd be much happier having it in a pie or crumble.

These are the Japanese style Pocky with 4 individual packets in the main box which is side opening and suggests that you are supposed to take one out and put the rest back. I took these into work to share and the general opinion was that they are good. You can really taste the apple, and it actually feels like it contains dried fruit (like the Strawberry Deluxe version does). These are on the standard thickness sticks and the mix of flavours is good as you'd expect - although the apple really is dominant here.

I think that the yogurt is mostly there as apple doesn't really go with chocolate, and while it works I think a more English version with apple and custard would be much nicer. I don't think that the special varieties of Pocky would go down too well in our supermarkets though, and I don't think the chocolate stick market over here is large enough to start a range based on UK deserts like spotted dick and strawberry jelly.

As a one off curio these are nice, but one packet at a time is certainly enough. Although I'm not sure that counts towards your 5 fruit & veg a day.




Blueberry

I'm not a fan of artificial blueberry, but as this is Pocky AND promised that it had Real blueberries in it I thought it was worth the risk. Turns out that like the apple this tastes just like the real deal. It has the zing of the deluxe strawberry version and is similar in that the fruit is dried and still really tasty. We really don't get much fruit based 'bad for you' confectionary in the UK as it's all confined to healthy bars and muesli. This is a welcome break, and I guess as it's not chocolate it's not all that bad for you anyway.

I had two boxes of these and ate both before getting around to the review so Cinabar had to provide the picture, which is testament to their place in the Pocky hall of fame. Unfortunately Day-In Supermarket had sold out before I could get back for more so I had to console myself with the Korean version of Wagon Wheels (for another day).

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Clipper – Nettle Tea [By@SpectreUK]


One lazy Sunday afternoon I was laid up with a stinking cough and cold, wrapped in a blanket with a hot water bottle. The weather was cold and dreary outside, and the only thing cheerful on the TV was Country File. It was an old repeat and the presenter was taking part in a stinging nettle eating competition somewhere deep in the countryside. I commented that you’d have to be mad to eat nettles and Cinabar’s Mom mentioned that there is Nettle Tea and Nettle Beer available in the shops. Cinabar’s ears perked up at this point and I just knew that I’d end up trying one or the other or both tea and beer at some point in the near future!

Clipper must be fairy confident that their customers will like this tea as they offer you your money back on the box if you don’t like it. At their instruction I infused a teabag in a mug for about five minutes. The tea is naturally caffeine free and Clipper states that it uses only the highest quality sources. That said, stinging nettles can be found anywhere, so it made me wonder if Clipper have a cultivated farm with fields of stinging nettles and pickers dressed up like Michelin Men for protection or if the nettles that are picked are only sourced from the bridle paths and alleyways in the richest of areas?

After infusing I noticed that this is a light green coloured tea with a strong herbal grassy smell to it. There was a slight apprehension that my mouth would get stung somehow from drinking this tea. The box states that the tea has “subtle grassy notes”. I can only guess that whoever wrote that review infused the tea for the minimum of two minutes. This tea really does taste like grass. The thick long grass you smelt on a walk through a field on a sunny summer’s day. The fresh green grass you picked up and threw at each other when your Dad mowed the lawn in your youth. The tasty looking grass you used to chew as a naïve child at play which grew between the cat pee and the dog turd! This tea tastes like GRASS! Not subtle, but strong. Strong enough for any person in the whole world (asides those in deserts) to say, “Yes, that tea tastes like GRASS!” Despite the taste, it was drinkable and wet. So where’s that form for my money back….?
By SpectreUK

Friday, 25 March 2011

New Walkers Crinkles Cheddar and Onion [Crinkle Cut Crisps] (By @Cinabar)



I have to start with a thank you to lovely Walkers for sending me a sample of their new Crinkles. They sent them in a plain white packet, so also very kindly sent me the image above to illustrate the proper final packaging.
Crinkles are Walker’s new crinkle cut crisps (that’s a tongue twister) and will be available in Sweet Chilli, Simply Sea Salted, Salt & Malt Vinegar and Cheddar & Onion. I’m lucky to have received a bag of the Cheddar & Onion variety to test. I hurriedly opened the bag, keen to see what was inside.
The first thing I noticed was the aroma, it had a wonderfully strong cheese flavour to it, and reminded me of a rather mature cheddar. There was also a good hint of onion, like the regular cheese & onion, but these were definitely more CHEESE & onion. ;-)
Pouring them out of the bag I soon spotted the new crinkles, and that these crisps have a sprinkling of some parsley on them too. The crinkles are quite wide and looked nice enough, so I tucked in.
Wow these crisps are cheesy (but in a good way). They have such a wonderful strong flavour, first the mature cheddar hits then there is a sweet lightly spicy after taste from the onion. I think all this extra taste comes from the coating gathering in the ridge of the crisps, and the tag line on the front of the bag would certainly support this; “more flavour in every groove”. I also love the texture as the ridges make them extra crunchy.
The flavours of these new crisps may not be that different from flavours already available but I do recommend giving them a try. The ridges really do add to the flavour and the texture, and are a lovely addition to the range. I just can’t work out why Walkers haven’t done this before.
By Cinabar

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Disneyland Paris - Micky & Minnie Cameo Chocolates [by @NLi10]




My sister recently went on a trip to Disneyland Paris and generously brought back this large tin of cameo style character chocolates.

They came in a lovely matt black presentation tin, but it seems a bit thin to store anything of much practical use in. The design is a fantastic one showing the castle and the fireworks in silver and it's clearly designed to be a perfect gift for looking after the pets, or not being taken with the rest of the family.

The chocolates are a similarly well thought out affair - they are milk, dark and white in three layers and are very impressive to look at. Flavourwise they aren't amazing. They aren't quite as bad as advent calendar chocolates, but they are very European in flavour. With Belgium and its wonderful chocolatiers behind this selection you'd have hoped that they wanted to create a product that people came to Disney just to obtain (like the Tigger backpacks in the 90s) but this is just an average chocolate, fantastically designed in a really nice tin.
by NLi10

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Rococo Chocolates: Quails Eggs (Waitrose) [By@Cinabar]




Looking through all the lovely Easter goodies on the shelves this year, these cute little Quails Eggs caught my eye. I love how Rococo have decorated them to look like the real thing, and neatly packaged them so they appear to be sitting on straw. When I read the back the back of the small box, and I spotted the word ‘praline’ I immediately added these to my basket!
When I got home, I decided these would make the perfect after work treat, and decided to open them up. Wow – the ribbon is annoying. It looks nice enough, but it is very firmly knotted, and the label forms a sticker over the back of it helping to seal it to the box. I was determined to open it without resorting to scissors, I managed it, but I really should have just given in and cut it as it was a bit of a struggle!
There are five eggs in the box, each had brown speckles on a light blue background, and each one seems to be differently decorated to the others. This is a nice touch as it makes them look a little more handmade and like a natural egg. The shell is made from sugar, and is quite thin when you bite in. It gives away easily, and reveals the wonderfully silk praline within it. The shell does add a slight sweetness, but it is mostly for the decoration rather than the taste. The flavours of the filling are rich, chocolaty and the hazelnut adds a lovely nuttiness. I admit I love praline, but these eggs don’t contain just any praline, it is of a particularly excellent quality. It is silky and flavoursome and turns something from a novelty into something special. If you are looking for a seasonal treat in ever such a sweet looking packaging, and you happen to like praline then these are a must!
By Cinabar

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Viennetta Selection: Red Berries [Special Edition] (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]



Well the Spring equinox is upon us, and there is very clearly a change in season. This too is bringing with it new ice creams, and other fresh and fruity sounding delights. Viennetta have brought out this Red Berries edition for the season, although the Christmassy sounding Choco Nut still seems to be available, if only for now!
The first thing that struck me when I took this out of the box was the colour. It is pinker than a pink thing. A quick scan of the box shows that it proudly states that it doesn’t contain artificial flavours, but there is no such obvious label for colourings. I had a read of the small print and it seems that the pink colour if from carmine and beetroot. Normal Viennetta can quite easily be served up at any meal time without a worry, but this particular pink version does seem to be heading its way toward the feminine market, and frankly pushing “girl’s birthday party” in design.
I am female though, and Spectre likes fruity ice cream – so what the heck. The flavour is lovely. The pink parts of the ice cream adds a lovely mixed berry flavour, with a good hint of both strawberry and raspberry. The white ice cream added that lovely creamy vanilla flavour, that balanced out the taste. The best thing about Viennetta though is the texture, and this doesn’t disappoint. The layers of (pink coloured) white chocolate flavoured crack wonderfully when you dig the spoon in, and add a nice texture to the mix. There is a layer of red sauce that’s flavour is more raspberry than anything else, but it has a slightly zingy note to it, natural and not over sweet, that works well with the main bulk of the ice cream. The final layer is a sugary sweet biscuit on the base, which is quite thin. It added the most lovely buttery crunch, and I do really wish there was more of this in the cake as it was just so flavoursome! All in all the new Vienetta works remarkably well.
I was pleased to discover that this was not as sickly as I feared it might be from the vivid colour. It was actually a really well balanced ice cream cake, having a natural fruit taste, with a good hint of white chocolate and vanilla. I hope the appearance doesn’t put many people off, because underneath that is a clever and tasty addition to the Viennetta range.
By Cinabar

Monday, 21 March 2011

Hershey’s Kisses – Cookies and Cream (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]



Hershey’s chocolate is not something that I really have a soft spot for. I have tried a few bars, and to be fair most are okay, but the regular milk chocolate has an after taste that always makes me wary of the brand.
We also don’t get much Hershey’s chocolate here in the UK anyway. Reeses seems to have improved its visibility over recent months, but this is the first time I have seen Hershey’s chocolate in a UK supermarket, and it is also the first time I have tried Hershey’s Kisses. I did spot an article saying that Hershey’s Kisses were headed toward British shores, but it implied they would be an Asda exclusive, and these ones were on the shelves of Sainsbury’s.


They are in quite a distinctive pouch, shaped like one of the Hershey’s Kisses chocolates, and so were quite easy to spot on the shelf. The pouch tears open across the top and inside were eight blue foil wrapped chocolates. They are quite sweet as each ones has a paper tag which says ‘kisses’ flying like a flag from the top of each cone. The pouch also has a Hershey banner in a similar manner too. When you peel back the foil on the chocolates, this turns out to be the top of a paper ribbon with the words ‘Hershey’s Kisses’ repeated and wrapped round the chocolate inside.
I have to say before even eating one of these the packaging has already made me smile which is a good sign! I understand that Hershey’s Kisses are available in a mix of flavours in The States, but these ‘Cookies and Cream’ variety were the only flavour available in my local supermarket.


Each chocolate looks quite smart too, mainly white chocolate but with visible dark biscuit crumbs clearly hiding within. Each one looks smooth and shiny and is in that distinctive Hershey Kisses shape.
Biting into one provide a sweet and creamy treat. The white chocolate is full of flavour, and has a hint of vanilla about it too. The biscuit pieces are dark and tasty, more like Oreo or Bourbon biscuit rather than a creamy flavour. I liked the contrast in the two flavours and felt that the biscuit pieces added a lovely crunch. I enjoyed these far more than I imagined I would, and actually felt that these were quite moreish. It was a shame that there were so few in the pack and that I was sharing them with other tasters.
The only question I have is, who are these aimed at? They are a bit too substantial for a treat that you would buy just for yourself, but they are also not quite worthy of being a gift. Traditional share bag always have more content and there aren’t quite enough to share, particularly if you normally buy a large bag of M&Ms for a film night with friends or some such. Having said that, if you have an American friend who has been missing their Hershey’s Kisses – I think they would very much love to receive a pouch of these!
Have you seen any Hershey’s chocolates in shops local to you? Were there any other flavours available?
By Cinabar

Competition for Newsletter Subscribers: Hotel Chocolate Goodies Up For Grabs!!!


I just wanted to let everyone that there is a fab Foodstuff Finds Weekly Email Newsletter! Everyone who is subscribed to it as at 8pm 26th March will be entered into the competition to win some fab Hotel Chocolat goodies. If you are already a subscriber, there is no need to do anything – you have already entered.
If you wish to subscribe:

Photobucket

Click above or email:
admin@foodstufffinds.co.uk
with "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line


Terms/Conditions
• Any personal data will only be used for processing of this competition.
• One winners will be chosen at random from newsletter subscribers as at 8pm on 26th March 2011
• Competition closes 8pm on 26th March 2011.
• 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.

For more comps please see: ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Coconut Pocky & Pocky Thin [by @NLi10]


These came in one of my review parcels from Cinabar and had been dutifully sitting and waiting for a reasonable excuse to be eaten. It turns out that the reason was to be 'have taken all the biscuits to work' and so I decided to crack these open and see what they were like. I'd expected both to just be fairly typical Pocky but with bits on and thinner.

Coconut Pocky is one of those deluxe arrangements where the stick is thicker and there are two packs of 8 inside. The coating is pretty large and quite satisfying. The coconut itself is desiccated and still full of flavour and you are eating it for a good hour or so afterwards as you discover bits in your teeth. The whole ensemble is a nice twist on the traditional Pocky as the chocolate is present but the three flavours are quite balanced. The closest western equivalent is a Bounty bar with the biscuit from a Twix inside - and I'd buy those if they existed! I'd happily pick these up again, but I have a feeling this may be my only box as I've not seen them in regular oriental grocers.

Pocky Thin is a very Japanese product. Styled and packed like Pocky Mens these have a similar thickness to the lovely apple cinnamon Pretz I got from Cyber Candy Birmingham once. The snap on these is incredibly satisfying so I have put the rest of the pack in the fridge to enhance this. They are certainly top range Pocky, and while the flavours are similar to the regular red box sticks the texture changes really make this worth trying out too.

The usual disclaimer applies that I'm a Pocky addict and your experience with these products will depend on how much you adore chocolate on a stick. As I have all 4 varieties of the UK branded Glico product Mikado in my desk draw at work expect a round up of those soon.
by NLi10

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Riceworks: Salsa Mexicana and Sweet Chilli (Waitrose) [By @spectreuk]


On reading the title “Riceworks”, I at first couldn’t tell if the manufacturer of these rice snacks either had a factory solely producing rice snacks or they were trying to convince me that rice really does work for a snack food. Regular readers will know that I am always on the look out for new healthier snacks. The packet boasts that they are a third less fat, with no cholesterol, are gluten and wheat free, and they are made from natural whole grain brown rice with no preservatives. I have to admit my fat tummy felt smaller just reading the packet, but would the flavour and crunch match up to the usual Dorritos brand we dip in chilli con carne?

Salsa Mexicana flavour

After quite a struggle to open the tough packet and some funny looks from my colleagues, I was a bit disappointed at how many rice snacks were in the bag. However, how many rice snacks can you expect to see in a 35g bag? This aside, it was initially hard to stop putting these crunchy tasty snacks in my mouth to actually type up the review. They really are crunchy and big on Mexican Salsa taste from the first bite. There was a slight worrying moment in my mind during eating each snack that my mouth may go dry, but that passes as my mouth began to water with the mixed tomato, pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, and parsley (amongst other ingredients). These rice snacks easily match any Mexican flavoured crisps I’ve eaten in the past and they’re so good for you. Dorritos watch out…. They just need a bigger bag for sharing.

Sweet Chilli flavour

Instead of struggling to open this bag, I attacked it vigorously with my penknife. After the pleasant surprise from the Salsa Mexicana flavour, I was fully expecting the crunch. Although these rice snacks are supposed to be sweet chilli, there is a powerful garlic punch to start with that never leaves your palette during eating. I was glad I didn’t have any meetings in the afternoon, but I doubted I’d receive a kiss from Cinabar when returning home. However there was a sweet chilli taste in the background to these snacks, once I’d waded through the fields of garlic, but more like spicy tomato. I certainly didn’t dislike these snacks, but I do like a warning before I eat that much garlic. Perhaps calling them “Garlic Tomato” flavour would be better?

I enjoyed both of these rice snacks and was impressed by their healthy feel and crunchy big flavours. I am intrigued by the sound of their Sea Salt flavour and Sesame Soy flavour rice snacks and may hunt them down. So as far as I’m concerned, rice really does work!
By Spectre

Friday, 18 March 2011

Montezuma – Spice It up (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]



When I bought the Montezuma Bean Machine bar in Waitrose I couldn’t resist picking up this one which was next to it too. When I first saw the bar, and its name ‘Spice It Up’ my immediate assumption was that this would be a chilli bar, but to my pleasant surprise this is flavoured with ginger.
Taking a look at the bar I was a bit surprised to see the uneven spread of ginger chunks within it. I broke the chocolate into strips for taste testers, and was a little embarrassed to be handing out some strips with no ginger in it whatsoever. We had to do a bit of chocolate chunk swapping to ensure that everyone got to try some, but that really isn’t a good start to a taste test.
My first square was one of the ones consisting of just pure dark chocolate. The chocolate itself had a good, strong rich flavour. There was a slight bitter note, but it had a decent nutty aftertaste that showed off its quality. Notably though I am reviewing a bar called ‘Spice It Up’ and there was no ginger flavour. None. Not even a hint of the stuff picked up from proximity to the other pieces with ginger.
For my second piece I deliberately chose a piece with some visible ginger. The rich flavour of the chocolate worked really well with the tangy, sweet and spicy ginger. The ginger was soft, not chewy and added a lovely warmth to the flavours. This cube of chocolate was absolutely divine, and I desperately wished every piece was like this. The chocolate has all the ingredients to be a superb ginger bar – they just needed to give it an even mix.
Has anyone else tried this bar? Can you confirm if your bar had poorly, but albeit artily, distributed ginger?
By Cinabar

Red Nose Day Cakes


If there are people dressed up strangely or oddly today wearing bright red noses, that would be because today is Comic Relief. If you get the chance, and enjoy watching the evening of related TV on the BBC, do try and do something to help the cause. We at Foodstuff Finds have bought a round of Red Nose Day cakes, which Tim from my mum’s work very kindly made for the charity. They are beautifully iced, each supporting its very own cherry red nose and face. The sponge is a sweet and fluffy vanilla, and the cake is as every bit yummy as it looks! It’s tough, but someone’s got to eat these cakes for charity, if it comes to cake eating – you can rely on us!
Thanks Tim :-)
For more Comic Relief edible goodies see here:
ComicRelief 2011

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Lucozade Energy – Cherry [by @NLi10]


When I was younger I was convinced that Lucozade was the best drink going. I used to buy the little bottles all the time (45p each) and ignored all the colas and lemonades. As I grew up and went to university the number of energy drinks exploded and I drank most of them, admittedly now as mixers - we used to take our own Red Bull to the bars in 1997 before they started to sell it there. With all the taurine and crazy stuff that gets put into energy drinks these days (yes Mana Potion - I'm looking at you) it's kind of refreshing to go back to where it all started.

Lucozade is essentially fizzy glucose water instead of the fizzy sugar water of the colas. The fact that you have to put more glucose in instead of regular sugar (sucrose?) means that it was marketed towards the health market and got bought for both sick people and athletes. These days the athletes have non-carbonated Lucozade Sport so that they don't have to burp their way to victory, so I guess that making good old Lucozade more exciting with new flavours is a good move.

I remember the horrible barley versions and an odd orange based version but I don't think I've seen big bottles of cherry before and after my adventures into cherry dark chocolate I thought it was worth a shot. Oddly the first thing I noticed was that it's not really an energy drink flavour. It's sweet, but it's also quite smooth, the cherry tastes like cherry sweets but not in a sickening way. As you can see from the (Mosely Folk Festival) pint glass the bubbles are present but it's not over fizzy like the original version. I often used to shake the bottle a bit on that just to lessen the gaseousness.

I'm actually surprised by how drinkable this is and as it's presumably lower in caffeine than colas it's probably less likely to keep you awake at night, provided you have some way to burn off the extra calories. I'd be happy to buy this again, and I think it's actually quite presentable in it's black & red bottle and if they redid the logo in those colours too it may even be acceptable to have out with the other soft drinks at a party.
By Nli10

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Warheads – Sour Chewy Cubes (amazon.co.uk) [By @SpectreUK]


Any sweet called Warheads in my mind should be shaped like some sort of rocket or tank shell. These are shaped like cubes covered in sugar. It sports on the front of the packet that these are a new bigger size. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean double the pain. The last sour sweets I taste tested (Sweet Cred Red Hot Toxic) actually caused a sore in the top of my mouth. Like the Sweet Cred these sours come in different flavours, but unlike the Sweet Cred these sours are supposed to be chewy. Ripping open the packet with some trepidation, I picked out the first colour. The sweets are just less than a centimetre cubed and have a good squidge when you squeeze one between your fingers.

Green Apple

There is a definite apple flavouring taste to these sweets that is not unpleasant, but this flavour is definitely no face twister in the sour department.

Blue Raspberry

The raspberry flavouring tastes a bit more like blueberry, but still has a good taste to it. Like the apple there’s nothing unpleasant about this sweet, but I was left wondering where the sour was hiding.

Strawberry

The strawberry flavour is a bright red colour. These are my favourite flavour so far. Although not very sour at all, they have a good strawberry taste to them and made me want to eat more and more.

Watermelon

Light pink in colour, this is the first watermelon flavoured sweet I’ve tasted in a long while that I didn’t like. There was a hint of watermelon there, but also an almost plastic and slightly medicinal taste that made them the most unpleasant flavour so far.

Orange

Not that you can have much of a taste test with just the one cube, this was a very pleasant orange sweet, but again no sourness.

Black Cherry

Purple in colour these sweets definitely have a black cherry taste to them. Regular readers will know my distaste for cherry flavoured sweets, but these black cherry ones were actually quite good. They are strong in flavour and there was even some sourness that popped up on first bite. My face never twisted, but I can at least rejoice that my sour taste buds are coming back to life after being murdered by the Sweet Cred.
By Spectre

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Alpen Bars: Coconut and Milk Chocolate (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]


I do like to have a cereal bar as a quick breakfast when I’m out and about, and (obviously) favour the chocolate varieties. I quite often buy Alpen bars, so it was nice to see a new flavour on the shelf.
I opened up the wrapper and the bar looked almost identical to the milk chocolate Alpen bars. On appearance I don’t think I would be able to tell them apart, there is very little visible coconut in the base. The texture too is identical to what you would expect if you tried any of the other varieties. Alpen bars have a firm base, packed with wheat, nuts and other ingredients. The bars aren’t very moist, but they feel dryer than they are because of the way the bars are tightly compacted.
I enjoyed the flavour of this bar. The coconut isn’t as strong as in a Bounty bar, but it does add a creamy sweet smoothness to the flavour. This mixes well with the chocolate drizzle and wholesome taste from the cereal. It is a good addition to the range, and worth checking out if you are a fan of Alpen bars. But – my favourite cereal bars are still the Kellogg’s dark chocolate, which are soft and have a richer chocolate taste, and actually feel like a treat.
By Cinabar

Monday, 14 March 2011

Crème De La Crème Eggs (Artisan Du Chocolat, Selfridges) [By @Cinabar]



Easter is becoming more and more predominant in terms of stock in shops, eggs are everywhere and other themed goodies are appearing too. Wondering around Selfridge's food hall you feel like you have been transported to some type of Easter Land, as there are just some many impressive seasonal goodies, from giant eggs to almost life size chocolate chickens. In my favourite corner of Selfridges sits the Artisan Du Chocolate stand, with its refreshing range of intriguing fresh chocolates. I was on a mission last Saturday looking for these Crème De La Crème Eggs, but I couldn’t see them and had to ask. I was actually standing right next to them, but I hadn’t spotted them as I was looking for something egg shaped and in their layers of wrappers had dismissed these as being giant chocolate sweets (like the giant Quality Street chocolates available at Christmas time).
Inside the pretty bag, are two varieties of Crème De La Crème Eggs, with three dark and three milk chocolate ones. The eggs themselves aren’t a perfect egg shape once they have been opened. Each egg has a patch of flat surface on its base which stops it rolling and directly above this there is a slight dimple in the chocolate on the top. I cut both types of the egg in half to have a sneaky peak at the contents. Both eggs had a lovely thick chocolate shell, the egg white in each consisted of a vanilla fondant and the yolk was a fruity one.


I decided to try the dark egg first, and bit in. The chocolate released a rich cocoa flavour, balanced by the smooth, but wet creamy filling. The flavour was predominantly vanilla, with a hint of fruitiness from the yolk. The yolk did have an orange taste, but it wasn’t very strong. As a whole, the mix of textures from the smooth shell cracking, and its wet truffle made for a pleasant mix of contrasts and the sweet filling made it an enjoyable egg.
The milk chocolate egg had a similar appearance, as the dark, with a similar ratio of yolk and white fondant within. What was amazing though was the flavour sensation within this egg. The yolk had a wonderful golden mango taste, sweet, and fresh and it added a lovely tropical twist. The creaminess from the vanilla shone too, and with the sweet milk chocolate it was just the kind of treat that made you wish you had another one (lucky for me I bought a bag). ;-) It is so nice to see mango getting centre stage in such a lovely chocolate egg, and proving that it can shine perfectly with the traditional flavours.
The milk chocolate egg was truly the crème de la crème, with its flavour balance it is absolutely perfect. All the ingredients work together and the chocolate and fruit tastes just melt in the mouth. If you are looking for a different Easter gift, make sure you check out Artisan Du Chocolat for something a bit special too.
By Cinabar

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Tymbark - Pomegranate & Cactus (Asda) [by @NLi10]


Two separate juices. One sleepy cat that refused to move out of the sunbeam for the photo shoot. Introducing Duchess - Review Cat the 2nd. She's not really interested in human food like our old cat Symba was (he was the one eating the Pieminister with me) so can only help in a photographic capacity. She likes the little pretend mice you can buy.

I like the Polish drinks in the 'world foods' aisle at Asda, I drink a lot of a green one that has kiwi in it. It's great and you can't really get anything that tastes similar in the typical English range. As they hadn't got that this week I decided to branch out.

First up was the Pomegranate. As this is a mixed juice from concentrate I wasn't expecting to be blown away, but it was a nicely refreshing drink. There are certainly a good few flavours in there, and the acid tang of euro vitamin drinks is hiding in the back too. I'd happily drink this when out and about, but I think there are better options.

Spectre may not like to read this next one as some cacti may have been harmed in the production of this product.

The Cactus I was expecting to be like the Aloe style drinks which are made from succulents and have little bits of pulp floating in them. This appears to be just cactus juice, but flavour wise it's mostly overpowered by the limes. I do like limes, but was hoping for a smoother and less acidy drink. Maybe they think people want cactus juice to taste spiky? I finished it off easily enough, but again I'm not rushing out for more.

I think that these are interesting variations on what you typically get in the Tropicana & stores own juices in the UK and were fairly priced for their size. If you've not tried the eastern European drinks yet then you are in for a whole new style of flavour, but I think I'm less of a sweet juice guy these days.
by NLi10

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Sunlee - Tom Yum Shrimp Instant Vermicelli [By @SpectreUK]



Reading the cover of this plastic bowl I couldn’t help thinking this could be a slightly different experience to the other pot noodles I’ve tried in the past few months. The directions sounded easy enough: Put soup base and oil into noodle bowl, pour in boiling water, cover for three minutes, open lid, stir then serve. Tearing off the lid made me think again on the ease of this soup (see photograph). This is definitely the laziest manufactured pot noodle I’ve tried, or is it? Asides the free fork, there is a soup base (which is powdered flavouring) and oil (which is Tom Yum soup paste), which must of taken some making. The noodles are a shiny dried bunch in the bowl. I must admit on first glance I didn’t think that this would all mix together well. There was also a few seconds where lazyitous almost kicked in and I thought about throwing the whole thing away and eating a Pot Noodle.

I followed the instructions; left the bowl covered for a few minutes, stirred and was quite surprised how easy the noodle soup was to mix up. The thick Tom Yum paste and powdered soup seasoning quickly turned to liquid once the hot water was added. The shiny pile of noodles filled the bowl once wet and the fork helped to mix everything together. I left the soup to cool a while before tasting. There were small bits of herbs floating amongst the noodles, but no meat or vegetables. Although this is a very spicy peppery tasting soup, I had the distinctive feeling that it was missing substance. There was certainly no hint of shrimp in the taste. The noodles helped to give me something to chew on and the soup made a good starter, but for a main meal or lunch I would have had to dip a large amount of bread in to help fill me up and to mop up all the excess liquid. When I began to eat to start with I ended up like the Chinese guys leaning over their soup bowls on the TV, slurping up bunches of hot noodles, but after a time the soup cooled, and I could pick up the bowl stopping stooping and slurping. As I reached the bottom of the bowl the peppery taste became stronger, almost overpowering and I had the feeling that I could have done with mixing this soup up with a spoon rather than a fork to start with. Although this isn’t the best or most filling pot noodle style product I’ve tried, I did enjoy making and eating it. I’d recommend it as a very tasty experience, but not if you’re in a rush for a quick filling lunch.
By SpectreUK

Friday, 11 March 2011

Fox’s Ambers Praline Biscuits (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]



Before I began I just need to point out a technicality on the praline front. All too often we associate praline with the soft, chocolate nutty paste filling found in Belgian chocolates, but that is actually Belgian Praliné. It is confusing because many companies refer to it just as praline. There is no Belgian Praliné in these biscuits, this is traditional praline, consisting of crushed caramelised nuts. Although the praline is the headline act, the biscuits also contains baked ‘golden honeycomb’ which is present in all of the new biscuits in Fox’s Amber range. I suspected that the ‘golden’ nature of the honeycomb and the name Amber were interrelated.
Opening up the pack the first thing I noticed was indeed the lovely warm colour of the baked biscuit and there was then no doubt as to why these biscuits are called Ambers. The chocolate coating on the biscuits looked rich and thick, and on an appearance front they were already winning me over.
Tucking in I found the biscuits to be wonderfully crunchy in texture, and after a couple of munches the biscuit cleverly melted away. The flavours too were of the finest quality, the sweet golden baked flavour of the base biscuit was nice and rich, but balanced by the milky chocolate coating and the after hit of nuttiness. These new biscuits from Fox’s are very much an indulgence and are clearly more than just a little bit special. It is a shame that they don’t come in a box as this would make them easier to give as a gift, and the quality of the biscuits themselves is altogether luxury and would be perfect for this.
This new range of biscuits also include Fox’s Ambers Milk Chocolate and Fox’s Ambers Caramel (but of course)!
Anyone else tried these yet? What did you think?
By Cinabar

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Chinese Pineapple Biscuits (KK Mart Thai & Oriental, Bromsgrove) [by @NLi10]


I got these in a goody bag from Ms. NLi10 a good while ago and they have been sitting on the snack shelf ever since. As a result of the sugary blood pack leaking onto said shelf I've had to tidy up a bit and took a load of things to work. One of those that I thought would see more action in a group environment was this pack.

From it we know two things - it's Pineapple and it's Biscuits. I'm not keen on artificial fruit flavours, they mostly go wrong, and China isn't well known for getting the authentic western biscuit flavour right. These even sat around at work for a bit before someone pointed out that they looked like yellow Jammie Dodgers. As I really like Jammie Dodgers the pack was opened in seconds. Inside I found two trays and that the biscuits were much smaller than pictured.


On first bite there is much sweetness, and the taste of the biscuit is a strange one. It's almost like a crispy savoury biscuit, with sesame seeds on the outside. Balanced by the nice sweet flavour (that only tastes like Pineapple because you were already thinking about them) these are quite moreish and demand to be consumed in 2s or 3s. Perfect for sharing, the first tray was gone within the day!

As a repeat proposition these are nice to share and sample, but they aren't really one that you'd buy to eat through entire packets like the normal Jammie Dodgers. It was certainly a nice surprise to find out that these were not only edible but rather exciting too.
By NLi10

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

100% Purist [Hacienda Iara] Chocolate (Hotel Chocolate) [By @cinabar]


Cocoa is a funny thing, it is an ingredient in some of the world’s most indulgent confectionary, and its unique chocolate flavour is second to none. But if you ever try cocoa from a tub (i.e. meant as a cooking ingredient) it is ironically inedible. Having this knowledge, did mean that I wasn’t exactly looking forward to trying this bar, but I can appreciate an 85% cocoa chocolate so perhaps I was worrying over nothing.
The bar is very smartly presented, with its dark envelope style packaging. It is a neat way of wrapping up a bar, and immediately makes it gift worthy. The chocolate itself it a very dark colour, and has a surprisingly sweet but rich aroma. It not a thick bar, but it broke easily with a satisfying snap. I went for a fairly large corner of the chocolate and allowed it to melt on my palette. It wasn’t easy to let the chocolate melt in this way, the strength of flavour was really very overpowering. The taste was bitter, sharp, zingy and almost electric. The more is remained in my mouth, the more other flavours appeared, such as a nuttiness, but all were far too strong for my taste buds. The flavour remained in my mouth for sometime after the chocolate had been eaten, and sadly it wasn’t a great taste. I did try a second piece, for researches sake, and the results were much the same.
If you do purchase a bar of this chocolate, I think it poignant to remind you that less is more, start with a smaller piece! If like me you find it all a bit much, may I suggest grating a chunk into a mug of hot milk and mixing with a spoon full of sugar, for a rather luxurious hot chocolate instead!
By Cinabar

Ichoc Bar - Electric Licorice (Setonaikai.co.uk)



It was Saturday morning, and the weather was dry and pleasant. Cinabar and I decided to go to Shrewsbury for the day, decided or were pressed into that decision by Spectre. We were certainly encouraged! Spectre has so many old cowboy/war movies on the V+ box that only a few hours of space remain. He decided that Saturday was the day to relax and enjoy some of these without interference. Off we went to the station and got the train – on time – to Shrewsbury. It is actually quite a pleasant 40minute journey through lovely countryside. We have not been to Shrewsbury for several months but always enjoy a day there. Some of our favourite shops had closed down, and a few others looked on the brink of closing. At the Prince Rupert Hotel we enjoyed a delightful lunch and then meandered around the shopping centre. In the Parade shopping centre we came across a most interesting and fascinating new emporium, called Setonaikai it specialises in food, cookware and gifts from Japan and the Far East. It is lovely and worth a visit.
Cinabar spotted an Ichoc bar with white chocolate liquorice, as I love liquorice I was very pleased to taste this. On opening the bright pink packet there was creamy grey bar that looked interesting! This is a creamy sweet melt in the mouth bar as it slowly melts there is a lovely mix of white chocolate and gentle tang of liquorice. It is tantalising different and very moreish! It is like a liquorice version of Caramac. Have one bite and you want another! I thoroughly enjoyed it and will certainly buy more next time we go to Shrewsbury and visit Setonaikai. We returned home and found Spectre waiting at the station he had enjoyed his day of films.
By Cinabar’s Mum

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Stephen Fry Up (Stephen Fry’s Full English Fry Up) [Crisps] (Walkers) [By @cinabar]


This is the final pack of crisps left for me to write about in the new series of Walkers Limited Editions. As with the other flavours these crisps are inspired and supported by comedians in order to raise money for Comic Relief. I really like Stephen Fry, am a fan of QI and I follow him on Twitter – so I had my fingers crossed for him!
I opened up the bag of crisps, inhaled and noted the pleasant smoky aroma. I tucked in and the crisp I tried was distinctively reminiscent of bacon, as I munched further on my crisp, an aftertaste developed which tasted of egg. The second crisp I tried was much heavier on the egg, but still had the strong smoky bacon flavour. Although the egg is very much there, these are still a massive improvement on the almost sulphur flavour I associated with Walkers Builder’s Breakfast that came out a couple of years back.
I quite happily finished the bag, as the meaty flavour from the bacon gave them a moreish edge. Unfortunately the egg part was strong enough not to make these my favourite. If you have been missing the previously mentioned Builder’s Breakfast crisps, I think you’ll find that these do the job nicely and that you really should stock up while you can. For me Jimmy Carr’s Chilli Con Carne are the winners in the range, with a lovely meaty, spicy and even a complex hint of vegetables in the mix – yummy stuff!
By Cinabar

The rest of the range:
Frank Roast Dinner (Frank Skinner’s Roast Chicken Dinner)
Steak & Al Pie (Al Murray’s Steak & Ale Pie)
Jimmy Con Carne (Jimmy Carr’s Chilli Con Carne)

Monday, 7 March 2011

Montezuma’s Bean Machine Coffee Chocolate (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]


Just before Christmas I went to the shops to pick up some bars of Lindt Coffee Intense as a stocking filler for my brother. He has always declared it to be the best coffee chocolate ever, bar none. I was a little bit surprised not to be able to find any available, and with a little research I soon discovered that it had been discontinued – shocking stuff. What was even more surprising was that I was having trouble finding ANY coffee and chocolate bars as a replacement. I tried quite a few shops, and couldn’t find anything. I have been keeping my eyes open ever since and have failed to find a readily available bar of dark chocolate with coffee. I suspect this has something to do with the current ‘caramel thinking’ that we are presently putting up with. It’s the first time I’ve used the phrase ‘caramel thinking’ on the site, and it is one I made up, so let me explain the concept. The country is in a bit of a recession, none of the companies want to be adventurous or produce any products that are risky, so they go with what has always worked, i.e. caramel. Caramel is great, practically everybody likes the stuff, and it is an easy win. I too like caramel, but I feel that the current trend is unfortunately putting a strain on creativity. Examples of ‘caramel thinking’ include: Penguin Caramel, Aero Caramel and Kit Kat Senses Caramel. Also my definition of ‘caramel thinking’ includes relaunching seasonal products that were identical to last years, i.e. something that requires little research because it has already worked at least once before. Examples of this include Kit Kat Bunny Bars and, ironically, Caramel Bunnies.
I realise I have gone off on a bit of a tangent, so let me get back to this chocolate bar. The point I was trying to make was that I finally found a coffee and chocolate bar, although even this isn’t made entirely with dark chocolate. The wrapper states that it is made with both dark and white chocolate, and I naively assumed that the chocolate would be layered, I opened up the wrapper and found that the chocolate was actually marbled.


I say marbled, but perhaps 'mixed' is a better description. The chocolates are blurred together so much, that it would be hard to taste them independently and it makes me wonder why they didn’t just use milk chocolate? I suppose it does look attractive, but more segregated chocolate swirls would have looked just as nice and added the flavour. The chocolate smelt fragrant, with sweet tones and a nice aroma of coffee.
I broke a square of chocolate off and let it melt in my mouth. The chocolate was sweet, creamy, had a lovely soft chocolate flavour, with an aromatic twist of coffee that is mellow but still very much present. The chocolate is thick and sumptuous in its melt and the bar feels very luxurious to eat. It is a sweet rich, creamy bar, and it feels like it has been blended with a mild cappuccino. The flavours work remarkably well together, and it is an absolute pleasure to eat. Please don’t get me wrong, although sweet, it isn’t overly sweet like the coffee creams you used to find in Roses / Quality Street. The chocolate is creamy enough to bring a clever balance to the flavours. I can’t help but feel that this bar isn’t meant for scoffing, it feels far too indulgent for that, it is the sort of thing you would buy as a special treat, or to share among friends.
As much as I loved this chocolate I’m not sure the flavours would be intense enough for my brother’s tastes. It seems rather far away from replacing his Intense Lindt bar, but as a milky sweet treat, it is practically perfection!
If anyone does know of a high street (or even supermarket) dark chocolate and coffee bar please do get in touch, my brothers birthday isn’t that far away...
By Cinabar