Food is an odd thing sometimes, snack food doubly so. I looked back over my list of reviews in 2015 and a lot of them are still things I have, or things that still seem new to me so choosing a favourite isn't easy or rational. Seasonal things I've not had chance to re-buy, and most places I've not had cause to re-visit. To that end I'm going to recap 2014 instead (see - it's not a typo!) as it's pretty easy to dig back and find the top 5 things that I picked up for the first time when I reviewed them and have purchased and loved again since.
5. PUKKA Supreme Matcha Green Tea (Sep 2014)
At the time I was interested in this, but claimed it was over stimulating for a typical work day (it is) but that I guessed it had a place. I spotted a box of this and picked it up for those afternoons where I just needed a bit more get-up-and-go. It's not a harsh tea, but due to the Matcha it's quite potent. Great for drinking just before you go out after work with colleagues, or to keep you awake during long days of meetings.
I'm still only on my first purchased box which is why it's at number 5 - it's not in my top 2 green teas, and it's a little pricey - but unlike the coconut green tea that I also wrote about in 2014 I am likely to finish this box and pick up another from the range when I do so.
4. Dorset Cereals Raspberry Porridge (Mar 2014)
Being reviewed in Spring as the weather picked up was always going to be tough for this semi-instant porridge, but out of all the ones I tried it was this one that I came back to (plus ones I still have from 2015...) I don't eat a massive amount of this kind of porridge - I'd rather use the raw oats and my own fruit at home in the morning as per 2015's Fuhrman fad - but at work this is spot on.
Lidl now sell these in the boxes of 10 and over the winter it's been a great companion - especially when I stay late. Granted it's still a bit of a pain having to walk downstairs to the microwave, but it's worth it. I have some at home too - so while it's not a frequent one it's worthy of the top 5.
3. Where Can I Buy... Ramune! (May 2014)
I like trying new style articles occasionally and this one came about due to the second most frequent question you get asked as a snack reviewer - "Where can I buy". The first question is "Have You Tried" and forms a lot of my odder reviews, but this one I'd never really turned into words. until now. It was also my most linked to review from 2014 and still gets hits to this day.
I spent two days walking around all my usual haunts and seeing exactly what they had that met my criteria, instead of just seeing what the best thing they had was. It was a long and arduous process which prevented me from doing lots of these - but mostly I stopped as I'd just be going back to the same shops!
The complexion of Birmingham has changed massively since mid 2014 and it's well worth a revisit - but I think that instead of looking for one product I'm better off doing write ups of more unusual places to pick things up - and answering the third question I get "Where is cheapest"!
There are lots of sweet shops cropping up now, and more geeky-lifestyle places that sell Ramune, and other kinds of things that can excite the tastebuds. I picked up a cheap Ramune the other day and it's still just as confusing as to why it commands the position it does in pop-culture, maybe I just haven't found the best brand.
2. Bahlsen Pick-Ups (Mar 2014)
I said at the time I'd buy these again and I certainly have. I've no idea how many packets I've got through, but I've just finished off another multi-bag from Lidl or Aldi so it's going to be a decent amount.
It's two biscuits and the hard, snappy chocolate and packaged in a way that they stay fresh for ages. It's never hard to put a Bahlsen product at number one but this time they lose out just because there are so many other fantastic options. Do I go for wafers, do I be 'good' and load up on Blueberries and Plums instead. Do i just settle for a few crisps? Rest assured the next time I spot these I'll pick some more up for the box behind my desk, but I won't be making a special trip to get more. Unlike...
1. Bacon Jam (Sep 2014)
This year I tried a bit of a health kick and am eating less meat than I ever have (excepting the 9 months I went full veggie as a teen) and am feeling better for it. One of the top tips they have in Eat To Live is to use the bad stuff (meat, unrefined grains) as the side dish to the fresh things and not the main. This means you essentially have loads of fruit and veg and salad and beans and grains and seeds - and then you need something to add a touch of variety that isn't a sugary, artificial sauce and where the flavour is strong enough to act like the 'cheese' would.
Sun-dried tomatoes or balsamic vinegar are one answer for vegans, but these pseudo jams are another. for those of us who aren't a fan of fully restricted diets I'm lumping Bacon Jam & Chorizo jam into the same number here as they fulfil the same function in my life. Just one little spoon on the side of the plate explodes into almost any collection of green and brown things and turns it into something magical. I'm actually out of these at the moment as only Waitrose/Occado and Sainsbury's around here sell them. Perfect for Christmas left overs and guaranteed to turn heads at any social occasion it's the clear winner from 2014s reviews that I did.
The only thing I didn't manage was to go to their restaurant as I'm rarely in East London. New Year, New Goals...
As we have lots of years stacked up where I've not looked back I may get around to jumping in the time machine again to see what else I rebought - or thought I would but didn't.