27 May 2017
It's rare I drink a cider, as I'm more of a beer kind of guy. It's even rarer that I drink a dry cider, as I usually prefer sweeter ciders. This Caple Rd dry cider was produced by Weston & Sons, in Herfordshire, who were established in 1880. It was very kindly sent to us from the online supermarket Degusta within a box of treats. We've been very lucky to have three of these boxes so far and are still sifting through the Foodstufffinds' possibilities. It's been a fairly hot and damp day here, and after a long trip to the gym and whilst watching the rain drip down from the grey sky, a dry cider suddenly appealed.
There was a pleasant fizz on opening the can and that familiar fermented cider apples smell. This golden almost amber dry cider filled my waiting beer glass excitedly. I say "beer glass", but it doesn't always have beer in it, often soft drinks and this time cider. On first taste I was quickly reminded about the difference between dry and sweet ciders. Fresh pressed apples, double filtered and slowly fermented with the finest yeast over an eighteen month maturation period, this cider smacks the tastebuds with it's dry bitterness from the outset. There is complex flavours here however, as there isn't just bitterness, there's sweetness moving into the aftertaste and left to linger. Leaving me wanting to pick up the glass for another hearty swig!
26 May 2017
phew - it's a scorcher! Or at least it is in England, and relative to the rest of our weather. Before the inevitable rain of the bank holiday weekend let us quickly review icecreams again.
We return to the Hagen dazs range that imitates but surpasses the Magnums that we love so much but to try the fruitier version.
Freeze dried raspberries are one of my favourite things so sticking them on something automatically promotes it in my eyes. And these are good - they don't detract from the overall idea and remind me of the dipped Pocky.
And look at that marbeling! The raspberry is deep and luscious and like the caramel has a unique (patented) deep swirl that means the fruit flavour builds towards a crashing finale. A superb way to spend the summer - all two days of it!
25 May 2017
Ok I actually tried these for the first time last week, but someone pointed out to me that last week was National Vegetarian Week, so I thought I best leave the review until today. Not that I did anything special for National Vegetarian Week it is just that it didn’t seem the most appropriate time to review meaty based snacks.
These Crackling Crisps were found in the chiller cabinet at Marks and Spencer and seemed to be in with the place where you would find posh picnic snacks, olives etc. They are not in a bag like most pork scratchings instead they are in a plastic tray and were kept chilled. There were enough to share in the pack, and indeed the idea of eating the whole contents would have been a bit much for me! The “crisps” are meat based and look like they are pork scratchings rolled to create a flat spiral.
I tried one and absolutely loved the flavour and texture. Although these are unquestionably crunchy, they had a lightness to them too, sort of like there was enough air mixed into stop them being too hard and instead they were nicely crispy. Flavour wise these were very much pork scratchings, they tasted meaty and fatty, and so a bit naughty but very tasty. They were seasoned nicely, with slat and pepper and were fun to snack on. These would be a great accompaniment to a picnic, but they felt a bit posh just to munch on as a casual snack.
24 May 2017
Previously I have tried Snaffling Pig Salt and Vinegar Pork Crackling, and also tasted their super hot Pig of Doom chilli pork crackling. I must say I could happily eat the Salt and Vinegar flavour every day. The Pig of Doom were so hot I almost blew a gasket biting into them! These new Snaffling Pig Colman’s Pork Crackling seemed like a decent compromise. I have Colman’s English Mustard on my sandwiches almost everyday. I’ve never found a mustard I like more. So my favourite pork crackling laced with Colman’s English Mustard sounded like a gift from heaven - literally a gift as Snaffling Pig very kindly sent me these to try.
After a lengthy session at the gym I popped open a bottle of lager and then popped open the huge 300g jar. There was a decent porkish smell form the yellowish pork crackling jammed into the huge jar. On first taste these double cooked pork crackling melted in my mouth after a little encouragement from my old gnashers. Biting into the salted pork crackling there is an unmistakable mustard burn from the Colman’s, which is light and not overpowering, but definitely there. As I ate more and more the mustard burn built tickling my nose hairs. Yet don’t be put off if you don’t normally like mustard, as the flavour never distracts from the salty pork crackling. Only enhancing it, nibbling and tickling the senses as I munched more and more. Mmmm… Yum!
Information on the jar;
The 300g jar has 667 calories per 100g, having 55.9g of fat, 1g of sugar and 2.3g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.
23 May 2017
The weather is heating up (albeit only a little), and so my focus is falling on the joys of summer ice-creams. I may well be eating this in doors, having had the heating on briefly earlier in the day to take away the chill, but it is technically May, so I’m running wth it.
This new Cornetto is honeycomb in flavour and goes the extra mile with chocolate topped with honeycomb pieces, honeycomb liquid filling, and honeycomb flavour ice cream. Aces. I took one out of the pack and unwrapped it found that the chocolate on the top was in a solid disk with crunchie honeycomb bits embedded in it. I ate this first and was impressed with the rich sweet flavours. Next stop was the ice cream which had a stunning taste to it, now I have to mention that I have a high tolerance for all things sweet, but this was sugary and divine. The creaminess of the ice-cream helped balance out the sugar rush a little, but I loved the rich sweet flavour. Inside the ice-cream was a honeycomb flavour sauce that just added to the magic, the taste was rich and just like liquid cinder toffee. The cornetto cone was lined with chocolate, which helps stops ice-cream dripping through, but also adds a nice touch of milk chocolate flavour. The cone was still firm and crisp when I came to eat it, and it was a nice finishing touch.
I loved these cornettos they were filled with all the rich sweet flavours of cinder toffee and caramel, and the ice cream was so nice I’d love a tub of it. Perfect for those with a sweet-tooth.
22 May 2017
So this is the new ice cream in a tub from Magnum. Magnum Ice lollies are always coated in a chocolate, and this ice ice-cream is no different. I know that sounds a bit weird, but inside the tub the ice-cream has a coat of chocolate all around it. The suggestion on the pack is to squeeze the tub and crack the chocolate which I did.
I could hear the foil under the lid making a noise when I cracked the chocolate, but it was still sealed when I opened it. In fact I found a sealed layer of thick chocolate under that too, which I had to break wth a spoon. There is certain layer of novelty to the Press To Crack nature of this ice cream tub, but I have to say all that broken chocolate made it difficult to serve, and some chocolate was lost onto the kitchen surface. I found this a bit annoying to be honest, and thought it would have been fine for them to have pre-mixed all the chocolate shards in, they actually had already done that with some of the chocolate.
Anyway I managed to share some out into pots, and gave it the taste test. I immediately forgave the difficulty in neatly serving the ice cream as the flavours were gorgeous. The base vanilla ice-cream was very creamy and very sweet, it had a lovely soothing feel and hit the spot. There was plenty of chocolate and the slivers of chocolate added a good mix of texture, which was satisfying to bite into. The chocolate added a lovely taste too, vanilla and chocolate do work rather well together (think Stracciatella) and its addition gave this a very luxurious feel. In short the odd nature of the Press To Crack is easily forgiven when you taste how good the ice-cream is, and this has put itself firmly on the buy it again list.
21 May 2017
I've been raiding the Polski Skleps again and found a few interesting treats.
They seem from the packaging to be variations on the Jaffa Cake theme. Take some sponge, slap on some sticky stuff, cover it in chocolate and decorate the box with pretty pictures.
|Blogger still doesn't like rotating pictures|
The one on the box looks like a monkey...
...the ones in the box look like the Dr. Who villain version of a monkey. I can picture these following you down a corridor in a dramatic fashion. So what are they made of?
Dark chocolate, banana foam and apple jam! And aftertaste - these are mostly aftertaste.
Short aside, when I was tiny my parents got me my own tiny sweetshop with lots of things to give out and play with and eat. The very last thing that got eaten from the whole thing was the foam bananas. I think that one foam banana at a time is enough for anyone.
These taste of foam banana with a strong dark chocolate on top and an aftertaste of synthetic apples and bring back memories of that time. Similarly I will be giving most of these away. They aren't bad - indeed the quality on these is much higher than I'd expected - but they aren't something I'm going to crave.
Next we have Krakuski fasolki (which seems to actually be made by Bahlzen) a small, elongated Jaffa cake - in keeping with the above jungle theme these look like the grubs that celebrities are forced to eat on television to revive their careers. The art on the bag centres around an odd green blob which I guess must be on the TV adverts or something but appears to have nothing to do with the flavour shape or size. Maybe he is what the larvae eventually hatch into.
While the above monkeys look immaculate but misshapen, these have been jiggled around in the bag and are worn down. They are very bite size, but what is in that bite?
Mostly cake with a tiny bit of very strong Jaffa! The flavour is OK but again there is a really acidic aftertaste which put me off eating more than a couple - and I can eat a pack of Tesco Value Jaffa Cakes in one sitting without any assistance. Nothing special, and something I'm sure I could much through the remainder of the bag eventually but these can go on the sharing pile and I'll move on to nicer things.
20 May 2017
This Milk Shake Stout was produced by Wiper and True, in Bristol. It's called a milk stout due to the fact that it was brewed using sugar from cow's milk to give it a sweet and creamy flavour. Brewing stout in this way has been undertaken for generations in Bristol. Wiper and True have added oodles of Chocolate malt laced with vanilla, as well as Pale, Crystal, Roasted Barley and Flaked Malted Oats, for their individual spin on this traditional stout. The hop utilised was Bramling Cross, with Surebrew yeast left fermenting in the bottom of the bottle. Leaving as late as I could to the 'best before' date for the fermentation to have the fullest effect, I couldn't wait to pop the bottle cap and dig right in…
I could see what they meant by "copious amounts of chocolate malt" as that was the first smell that accosted my nostrils on opening. I half expected this almost black stout to pour out milky white considering the name. This 4.9% volume Milk Shake stout has a unique creaminess to it, I suspect this is from the cow's sugar it was brewed with and also the added vanilla. Strong sweet Chocolate and Crystal malts hit my tastebuds first, followed by the Roasted Barley smoothed out by the milk vanilla creaminess, with a hint of bitter hops and Pale malt into the aftertaste. If this type of stout has been around for generations, then where has it been all my life?
19 May 2017
Sometimes you need to take a second look at something on the shelves in the shop to really get it. I had a second look at this and was still a bit bemused. It is a Chocolate Fruit and Nut Salami from the new Spirit of Summer range from Marks and Spencer. Problem one, is a chocolate salami particularly summery? I have no concept of how to categorise it. Secondly did I just say chocolate salami, yep it appears that I did…
Ok I’m just going to run with it, I will stop thinking about the why, and get down to the taste test. The Chocolate Fruit and Nut Salami is traditionally packaged (for a salami) and is wrapped in paper. I unpacked it and fund the salami to have a white coating, which looks like some salamis, but on this one is just icing sugar. It was quite firm and I wasn’t sure how to share it, it doesn’t break and I didn’t fancy just biting in! I actually looked at the packet for instructions, but couldn’t find any. I figured if this was an actual (meat based) salami I’d chop it on a chopping board, so that is what I went for. It was quite firm but I managed to get slices to share.
Weirdly when I tried a slice it wan’t too hard at all, the praline nature was actually fairly soft. The taste was absolutely fab, there was loads of texture from the nuts packed inside, and the flavours of praline. There was a hint of the promised fruit in the orange peel that was mixed in, this added a nice sweetness and mixed up the flavour. This is a very rich chocolate treat, and the novelty nature of it would make it an excellent gift. I’m sure it would be fun at the end of a dinner party too, but as much as I loved the flavours I would find it a bit awkward buying another one for myself for snacking on. It is worth it once, just for fun though.
18 May 2017
Mmm Tofu... Specifically Taifun Black Forest Tofu from the lovely vegan shop.
It's essentially meatloaf I guess, but it has a lovely soft texture with a tougher outer. So let's cook it!
Mmm. Looks good! And it smells fantastic. Just enough bite to hold it together, but still soft enough to feel like Tofu. The little bits inside really add to the experience too.
Proper restaurant grade stuff. And something I'll pick up again.
17 May 2017
I'm not much a cola drinker. In fact some years ago I went off it a bit. Not for any real reason, just that I prefer other soft drinks on the market, such as lemonade, limeade, ginger ale or shandy. So when I saw this Ubuntu Cola on the shelf in my local supermarket I thought maybe I should give it a go, especially as it has a Fairtrade mark for farmers and workers in developing countries.
On opening the smartly designed white can there was a decent smell of cola. I don't know what I was expecting, but it really does smell like regular cola. Having said that, it doesn't taste like regular cola and it's certainly not as painfully fizzy on the tongue as some soft drinks can be. Ubuntu Cola has a fine sweetness, a not altogether unpleasant fizz, and a slightly fruitier sweet aftertaste that isn't saccharin or syrupy sweet, but the mark of real sugar. Okay, so it's not 'Lite', but it certainly is Cola!
Information on the can;
The 330ml can contains 42 calories per 100ml, with 0g fat, 10.4g of sugar, and 0g of salt. Ingredients include; fruit and vegetable extracts, carbonated water, sugar, colour; caramel E1500, phosphoric acid, potassium sorbate, caffeine, and natural flavourings.
16 May 2017
When the lovely folks from Bushido got in touch and stated that their coffee was like liquid gold I have to admit I assumed they were using a metaphor. This coffee really does contain gold, there is 24karat gold leaf mixed in jar, and you can immediately see it glinting in the light. Bushido is an instant Japanese coffee and very obviously aimed at the premium market made with Arabica beans, and only the best 20% of the crop. I peeled back the lid and got a bit more of a close up of the gold, and couldn’t quite decide whether to add it to the cup or start sifting! I decided to experience the drink as it was intended.
I added a heaped teaspoon to my large mug and added boiling water, first things first – the gold floats! This makes the drink look wonderful, and really shows off the gold to the full. It is best if you don’t add milk though, as the black coffee and gold contrast each other and the drink glitters.
I’m not going to argue that there isn’t some novelty with this coffee, of course there is. It has shiny 24K gold dust mixed in with it! However once you are passed the novelty and have impressed the people you are making drinks for with the posh sparkles in their mug, at that heart of this is an excellent cup of coffee. The flavour is surprisingly smooth and easy to drink, with a lovely easy going taste. Its more of a relaxed afternoon treat, with it velvety flavour. I think people will buy this coffee for its gold element (in both sense of the word), but rest assured it makes a good cup of coffee too. What better way to impress after a dinner party than with 24Karat Gold coffee. If you fancy your own jar the Bushido Premium Coffee is available from Harrods (of course) and some select other stores: www.horsgroup.com
15 May 2017
It is that time again when a fabulous box of interesting foods arrived from Degusta. I love the mystery of these boxes and not knowing what you will find, as a food review blogger I can’t help getting excited by the prospect of new foods.
I was impressed with this months box, it had a good selection of items, my favourite of which was the new muesli from Dorset Cereals, Machu Pichu, which is flavoured with coffee. Yes, now I can have coffee in the cereal bowl and in the mug!
There were a good selection of snacks too, with some lovely salt and pepper lattice crisps from Seabrook and some Hot Chilli VIP Nuts, which I’m hoping aren't too hot!
There are some freeze dried snacks from Nothing But. The fruity version (strawberry and banana) I will take to work to munch on as a healthy snack. The other variety was a bit different and is freeze dried veg, namely peas and sweetcorn! Think that will end up as a review, so watch this space.
There was a nice big bag of whole wheat pasta from Garofalo, that is naturally high in vitamins and fibre. Think that will be tested out with a good old fashioned Bolognese sauce covering it.
For liquid refreshment there is a bottle of Fentimen’s Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water. Fentiments have always been a favourite brand here at Foodstuff Finds, so I’m sure this won’ disappoint. Spectre was quick to pick up the organic Czech lager Celia that was included, and he will be writing about that on one Saturday.
The other goodies included some sugar free Polo mints in a tub, a very curious chocolate bar from Doisy and Dam flavoured with quinoa and smoked tea, macaroons and hemp seed (which you can use as topping on breakfast cereal).
This was another fab box for us with loads of new products for us to try and plenty of interesting snacks for us to test out. Watch this space for further reviews.
14 May 2017
It's officially summer! Lets buy cold things on sticks, preferably luxury ones. The brand leader in this has recently always been Magnum, after the Cornettos got smaller and less exciting. Now there are a few more contenders to the throne.
Here we see the playful curves of a Haagen Dazs version of the Magnum almond, and the Magnum caramel all rolled into one. If the Magnum Infinity hadn't looked like this then this would be a cool move so that people in the street know what you are eating. I do put most of Magnum's success down to making sure that others know what you just bought from the ice-cream man. Pink and shiny ftw.
That said, Haagen Dazs do make some pretty good plain ice-cream and so as you'd expect all the bites that have no choc caramel or almond in are actually creamy and great.
At the top the caramel is not really in force, but as you eat down the swirls intensify changing the flavour as it goes - which is really smart. The almonds are decently large without making the bites too awkwardly hard, and the caramel is surprisingly gentle but with a lovely deeply sweet flavour.
So it's not that innovative and different I guess but as the caramel and almonds taste very real and not artificial the whole thing is quite a nice luxury ice-cream to hide away with. A top quality snack indeed.
13 May 2017
Brewdog in Scotland produced this Jack Hammer beer. I do like the odd Brewdog beer now and then. They are always big on flavour and not for the faint hearted. Jack Hammer certainly didn't sound timid to me. It's described as "Ruthless India Pale Ale" and at 7.2% volume I can well see why.
On cracking open the 330ml can I could smell a herbal hoppy ale with pale malt in the background. On first taste of this golden yet slightly murky pale ale, there was the sheer bitter bite of flavoursome herbal hops. This hoppy bitterness bashes about the tastebuds for a good while, before moving into pale malt and a slight bitter kick up the jacksie on its lipsmacking way into the aftertaste. This is definitely a very tasty craft ale indeed. One to be enjoyed on its own, I think, without washing down any food, although if pushed a spicy Thai or Chinese meal might go down well with it. Try it, I bet you won't be disappointed!
12 May 2017
I opened up the wrapper, which is resealable for portion control. The bar is huge, even sharing (yes I did actually share) we ate this over several nights. The chocolate pieces are bigger too, and each one is topped with a chocolate peanut design. The filling consist of peanut, rice crispies, a soft peanut paste like filling and caramel, which oozes slightly when you break a chunk off.
The flavours are a perfect mix of chocolate and nut, with a heavy dose of caramel for good measure. I love a mix of textures and this bar delivers that, with the peanuts being both crunchy and smooth. This bar works by having that mix of sweet and savoury, with the peanut adding that salty nutty goodness, and there being loads of sweet flavours from the creamy chocolate and the caramel. Each mouthful differs slightly in the ratios, but all have the distinct peanut flavour, that mixes well with the chocolate. The size of the chunks makes it a satisfying eat, filling and enjoyable. I say it with a little bias, as I love nuts, but I thought this bar was heaven.
One last thought, this bar categorically contains peanuts, it is all about the nuts. The back of the pack’s ingredients label lists peanuts in various places, but also states “May Contain Nuts”; I’m not sure I understand ingredients labels anymore.
11 May 2017
On FaceBook I've been seeing a lot of sponsored posts by Kellogg's talking about their new Crunchy Nut cereal, Peanut Butter Clusters. It was one of those 'limited edition' things where you just know if it takes off that it'll stick around, but that's the question - does this work?
It's not corn-flakes which is very disconcerting, and it's a lot closer to Nestle Clusters (which are fab because it's basically just sugar and nuts). Here we see I've also gone for the least appealing of all the almond milks, having no added sugar or roasting - and I love it! This is what people who have switched to skimmed milk wish they were brave enough to move to. It takes great with cereal, although I think it needs a bit more fat to bond with tea - maybe coconut is best for that (or the thicker stuff that the pro-coffee shops serve you).
The cereal itself smells very peanuty, and has a hit of crunchy nut about it, but just isn't as satisfying as that honey and peanut blend that I was raised on. The texture is good, it's more like a granola, although the bites are very samey so it's maybe not as good as a couple of things I have lined up to review in the summer cereal releases.
It's a nice enough weekend cereal, it's well worth getting one box - and it'll certainly get finished, but I think it will stay in the 'limited edition' slot and will only be missed by Americans and those who need just that little bit more peanut to be satisfied.
10 May 2017
To mix things up I’m always on the lookout for snacks that are an alternative to crisps and nuts, so Kettle Bites Maple Barbecue flavoured Wholegrain Waves seemed to fit the bill. They are baked not fried for half the fat content, which will hopefully help my waistline after my huge bag of pork scratchings last night. I had been for a swim earlier in the day, but the pint of mild, and also the chocolate bar and hot chocolate drink afterwards hadn’t helped either. So, healthy eating today…
On opening the packet there was a strong sweet syrupy barbecue smell to the Wholegrain Waves inside. The waves had a decent crunch and a sweet taste to start with mixing well with the barbecue flavour and this was then followed by a very smoky aftertaste. The smoky taste was so strong that it was almost like sitting by a smoking camp fire and the wind suddenly changed right at me. I thought these Maple Barbecue Wholegrain Waves were very tasty indeed. They also have a mild chilli kick in amongst all that smokiness… cough, cough! ;-)
Information on the packet;
The 22g packet had 95 calories, with 2.8g of fat, 2.4g of sugar and 0.3g of salt. For ingredients see photograph.
9 May 2017
We quite often by a full size Jamaica Ginger Cake to share as treat. I’m not the biggest fan of ginger but there is something about Jamaica Ginger Cake that works, possible that the ginger is so well balanced with a good dose of sweetness, and isn’t too sharp a flavour.
I was intrigued to see that McVities had introduced these new Individual Jamaica Ginger Cakes, which come in a four pack and are decorated with chocolate and a crunchy topping. The base part of the sponge is very similar to that of the proper cake; it is moist and sticky, with the heavy emphasis on a sweet ginger that isn’t too strong. The chocolate topping is a nice edition, it only has a mild sweet impact but it is nice. The crunchy topping isn’t very strongly flavoured, but it does add a nice mix to the texture too.
For me the difficult part of a Jamaica Ginger Cake is the problem of cutting it, it is a so very moist and soft that it is difficult to cut into neat pieces, and these individual cakes solve that problem, they also look pretty with their smart topping and are much smarter to share with friends. They also work well with portion control as each piece only has 118 calories, so they are not too guilt inducing, but are still big enough to be a treat with a cup of coffee. I’m pleased that McVities have introduced these Individual Jamaica Ginger Cakes, it gives the Jamaica Ginger Cake a modern twist, but still manages to stay true to the original flavour.
8 May 2017
So I’m back exploring the new range from Marks and Spencer, Spirit of Summer. I know, it is a little early for the season, but I spotted "new" labels so I'm going for it. In the crisps aisle they have introduced these new Lamb Kofta and Yogurt variety and I couldn’t wait to give them a try. I love meaty flavours of crisps, and usually find myself drawn to chicken crisps. You don’t see many lamb flavoured crisps on the market, so I was really keen to give these a try.
I opened up the bag and found the aroma to be very mild, and although slightly meaty there wasn’t much to help identify the flavour. I gave one a try and again found them to be very light in flavour. I had expected these crisps to pack a punch, to be a full on lamb flavour with loads of cumin and coriander, but they were more focused on the yogurt element. The crisps tasted creamy and cooling, with just a hint of lamb. The texture was easy going too, they weren’t too thickly cut, but had a nice light crunch to them. This made them easy to eat, and the taste was non offensive, but I think they missed an opportunity to be much stronger and something which would get anyone you share the bag with talking about them.
7 May 2017
I love these little, expensive bars of raw chocolate! I think this one was maybe £3 for 45g of chocolate which is probably a bit crazy - but within this stylish, present grade packaging you get six squares of unbridled joy.
Small enough to drop in a pocket or a handbag.
Wrapped up neatly in reflective paper
And with hearts and messages of joy! And the smell is just solid chocolate and orange oil from the second you crack the box.
You just need a single cube too - it's got all the richness and flavour you'd expect alongside that pre-melted chocolate texture that raw chocolates do so well. Can I tell the brands apart by taste and texture? Not even slightly - I think that's why the packaging is so important! That's not so important though - these are just heavenly and all about that intense taste and luxury feeling and are amazing after a meal.
Probably not for sharing then.
I picked this up from Birmingham's big new health food store/restaurant Natural Healthy Foods so expect more write ups as I justify the crazy amount of things i'm picking up...