23 July 2017

Five Italian Carbonara (@NLi10)

When I went to Italy my goal was to try as many things as possible - but also to eat a whole lot of Carbonara!  This dish is really hard to find in the UK - that is it's really hard to find a Carbonara which isn't spaghetti in cheese sauce with some ham called a Carbonara.  Carbonara doesn't have cheese in the sauce (some people put a little in for thickening, but it's mostly cream, the salty taste is from the meat) - you add the cheese to the top when you are finished to the taste of the diner.  In my case you just don't add the cheese and life is good.  The 'Carbon' part is the black pepper - and that should be in the sauce already.  Us Brits really seem to struggle with this concept and just treat it as a kids dish and give out macaroni cheese and have done with it.

A visit to Italy was the perfect time to see it done properly.

And I struck gold on the first attempt.

Around the corner from Santa Croche (where Stendhal's Syndrome was first described) tucked down an unassuming side street (Borgo Allegri?) we spotted a nice little place we could sit outside in the shade and I ordered the above Carbonara - and it's perfect. The meat is luxurious and not too thick, the spaghetti was al dente and coated in the creamy black pepper sauce and it was probably the best Carbonara I've ever had. The deep bowl masks the generous portion too.  I wrongly assumed this was how all the carbonara would be over in Italy so I decided to vary things a bit.

The next evening I thought I'd order something I'd not really heard of - and it ended up being Carbonara without the meat - but with much thicker pasta. This was a lovely restaurant in Florence and as usual was stocked with the wines and smells that Italy provides so well.  At first I was a little disappointed that I'd ordered something so basic, but the pepper and pasta flavour was just so rich and good. I really should start taking pictures of the menus and restaurants so that I can go into more detail!

Back at the camp-site one evening the girls just had 'light bites' so I grabbed a Carbonara! This was like a good version of what I'd do at home, the sauce was cream and a whole egg (so it was a little eggy) and had chunkier meat in and not quite enough pepper (but there was plenty on the sides and table to suit).  This wasn't by any stretch an expensive meal and fitted the hole in my stomach perfectly.  If I'd been served this in the Uk I'd have been pleased, basic and effective.

The next offering on the other hand was not quite what I'd planned.

I'd wandered around a bit of Florence looking for something exciting to eat - I'd thought I could have a luxury meal for one then pop back to the campsite.  Instead I decided to see what the tourist trap places served for Carbonara - buoyed on by the incredible pizzas we had in view of the tower of Pisa.  Everyone at the tables seemed to be enjoying the food, it wasn't massively expensive and it had nice views of the square.

Not only did they only have Sprite instead of the Italian soft drinks, but I got easily the worst Carbonara of the visit - and possibly the worst one in my Adult memory.  It was basically a plate of warm spaghetti that they had stirred cream and ham into and then coated in cheese.  No quality bacon, no pepper at all, and the meat tasted awful in places with a fatty aftertaste!  Maybe they thought they were doing the tourists a favour by matching their low expectations - maybe they thought people would give this to their kids.  This will teach me to try out the hot spots without using trip advisor!  There was no name on the outside of the restaurant presumably so you find it harder to give them bad feedback. I ate most of it, but left zero tip.

I couldn't leave Italy with that being the last Carbonara, but wanted some more variety.  I spotted this on one of the last days of the trip.

It's essentially a hybrid of ravioli and carbonara which suited me fine.  Each little pasta parcel is packed with meaty creamy goodness and it's clear that a good amount of thought went into the composition of this - making 'just pasta' a more exciting meal than a plate of peppery worms.  This was my second favourite Carbonara experience.

Overall I think that I'd happily order the four non disappointing ones again.  Campsite carbonara has very different criteria to the restaurant grade variety, and I'd happily go back to Florence just to try the first one again.  Although I'm sure I could find that somewhere new, or closer to home.

22 July 2017

The Leveller Beer (@CenterParcsUK Shopping Mall) By @SpectreUK

We bought this beer from the shopping mall in Centre Parcs, in Sherwood Forest. We've just spent a week there after many years of Cinabar trying to coax me to go. Earlier this year a new spa opened there and knowing I'm a lover of saunas and steam rooms, Cinabar gave the final push. What a spa it is, with four steam rooms; one of which has a tropical shower in it, and three saunas; one of which is high up in the trees so you can admire the view whilst slowly cooking. It is a really good spa with lots of relaxation rooms too, like the Scandinavian Snug room with furry blankets and funky Viking music.

Before the week away Cinabar had shown me a grand list of activities that we could book, so I plumbed for Scuba Diving and also Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting. I wanted to go actual Clay Pigeon Shooting some years ago with Cinabar's brother and father on a stag do, but had shoulder problems from a car accident, and couldn't take the kick from the gun. No recoil here and I was pleasantly surprised to come third out of ten in the competition. The Scuba Diving next day was a really intuitive beginner's course and hour's fun swim underwater. I'd recommend both activities to anyone. Great fun. Not to mention the Crazy Golf and the Parc's fun pool with its slides, deadly rapids and wave pool. The lodge we stayed in the woods was lovely too, surrounded by trees, squirrels, all manner of birds and bread hungry ducks in a large pond nearby.

Anyway, back to The Leveller, which was brewed by the Springhead Brewery in Retford, Nottinghamshire. Brewed since 1990, this 4.8% volume beer was produced with English ingredients in the manner of Belgian Trappist beers. This dark brown beer has a crisp sweet burnt toffee smell to it on opening. In taste dark chocolate malt springs to the fore shoving aside the bitter hops that try to push through before the aftertaste. There the sweet caramel malt lies coating the tongue with that almost burnt toffee flavour as it mixes with the chocolate malt. Mmm… quite the pudding beer, if I do say so… Like the sweet surprise of a good holiday away, though dashed when the bottle is empty and it's time to go back to the humdrum!

21 July 2017

Iced Tea Pomegranate and Hibiscus Drink (Marks and spencer) By @Cinabar

I was in Marks and Spencer food hall with my mum, and I was after a drink to take out. I was browsing the shelf and my mum suggested an orange and passion fruit drink. As nice as it sounded I said I was after something a bit more unusual. A voice piped up and said the weirdest sounding drink is the Iced Tea Pomegranate and Hibiscus Drink. It was another shopper, I asked him if he had tried it, and he said he was thinking of buying it, and that he had read all the flavours of the other drinks and that this was the most interesting. Clearly a fan of interesting foodie items, and who can resist M and S for that.
This Iced Tea Pomegranate and Hibiscus Drink is a new drink, in the Spirit of Summer range. With the drink selection made I gave my bottle a sip. Mostly the flavour was of pomegranate and this gave it similarities to pure juice, it was fruity but not too sweet. It reminded me a little of red berries, and was very tasty. The tea came through as a slightly leafy bitter aftertaste, and the Hibiscus added some light floral tones. The drink was very pleasant and refreshing, and made a nice change to the usual flavours, perfect on a warm day. I hope the other shopper enjoyed his bottle as much as I did.

20 July 2017

Monty Bojangles - Popcorn Carousel (@NLi10)

I love the Monty Bojangles range - it's like the Fentiman's of chocolates and it's still just about unknown enough that you can surprise people with them as presents and still wow them.

And I found a whole stack of a new to me flavour in Home Bargains for £2 a box (half price). Joy.


the idea behind Popcorn Carousel is initially a bit odd sounding, but essentially you take their standard rich chocolate truffle, and then add some buttery salted popcorn to the mix in the centre to cause a texture clash and to add some saltiness.

And it's amazing!


As usual taking one out of the box  leaves you with cocoa everywhere and those that dare to try to eat it in multiple bites will end up with even more so.  They are small enough to justify pipping in with a single bite and enjoying the melt, and then the flavour hit all in one.  And the main thing that you get is the rich butter that comes alongside the chocolate and bowls you over. There is a hint of the saltiness, and the texture of the popcorn is possibly more welcome than the surprise of the popping candy. Athe whole combination is amazing and has resulted in a trip back to the store. 

We now have a further two boxes at home waiting to be sprung on guests, and then finished by ourselves. Top marks.

19 July 2017

Ace Tea: Earl Grey and Lady Rose (@AceTeaLondon) By @SpectreUK

Ace Tea very kindly sent us some of their teas to blog about. Ace Tea have blended their teas to add an original twist to traditional blends. They state that the teas can be drunk hot, iced or blended in a cocktail. I personally like my tea hot and quite strong, so leave the teabag in quite a long time and squeeze it to death before removing. Never one for cocktails, virgin or otherwise, and the only time I drink cold tea is if I've forgotten about it at work! Anyway…

Earl Grey

Ace Tea have blended their Sri Lankan black tea with Oil of Bergamot to create the traditional tea flavour Earl Grey, with added Lemon Essence, and they've also put in orange and lemon peel, and cornflowers. I have to say that this is a very smooth combination of flavours. Of course the Bergamot springs to the fore on first taste, but there are floral undertones mixed with a spritely citrus zest. This is a very tasty and refreshing Earl Grey, especially after a time of digging around in the garden followed by drinking it down whilst watching the Mixed Doubles at Wimbledon.

Lady Rose

This is a big worry for me. I always hate anything flavoured with roses. From Turkish Delight to chocolate rose creams, rose water to rose lemonade; I can't stand any of them! This Lady Rose is their usual Sri Lankan black tea blended with Rose Petals and Rose Essence. Worst nightmare. At least I really enjoyed the Earl Grey!

… Anyway, opening the box of 15 tea stockings I tentatively smelt the first teabag. Yep, roses with a hint of black tea! Oh, boy… On taste it doesn't taste all that bad actually! If you like rose flavoured things, you'll be well in here, but also if you like floral drinks too. I do like floral beers, as some hops can be quite floral in flavour. So, this actually made me wonder what rose beer might taste like. Madness, I know!

Anyway… there is a stronger flavour of black tea to this Lady Rose, but the rose flavouring is by no means secondary in strength as it is springs to the fore after a split second of black tea and then it bashed at my tastebuds right through to the aftertaste. Having said that, and this is the weird masochistic part, I actually weirdly enjoyed it, and from that strange fact I will finish the box of this Lady Rose.

18 July 2017

Mini Cheddars - Stilton Edition (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

I don't regularly buy Mini Cheddars. It is not that I dislike them, I’ve enjoyed them in the past, but they aren’t something I pick up very often. I guess they go into the category of being nice, but not regular purchases. Having said that there was a lot of advertising for these new flavoured Mini Cheddars around Saisnburys, so much so that I thought I had to pick up a bag. They had adverts for them on the trolleys, on the security tag machines by the doors, and in the aisle themselves, this was not a subtle quiet product launch.
Mini Cheddars are going for some new varieties which have gone from a generic cheese to more specific types. I decided to pick up a bag of the Stilton edition, as it is a cheese I love. The packet is blue, as the cheese should be, and it came in a multipack with six bags. I opened my bag up and had them with my lunch.
I have to admit the flavour was spot on, the cheese had the very distinctive flavour of Stilton, it was tangy and strong and worked remarkably well with the little biscuits. The biscuit flavour wasn’t overwhelmed either, it came across in a tasty creamy after flavour. The texture was the usual light crunch, which were nice and easy to eat. I was very impressed with these Mini Cheddars Stilton Edition, they reminded me how good Mini Cheddars are, and now I’m keen to try all the new limited edition cheese flavours they have brought out. I can't imagine them beating these yummy Stilton ones though.

17 July 2017

New Galaxy Swirlers - Shortbread Crunch (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

This bar of Galaxy is designed to be swirled in a hot drink. When I saw that it was Shortbread Crunch I assumed that the main part of the chocolate was biscuit, and that this was ultimately for dunking.

What I actually had was a fairly regular bar of Galaxy, with a few shortbread bits mixed in, all in a new layout. The design inside shows that that each piece is meant to broken off and swirled in coffee or hot chocolate, hence the name Swirlers. I went to break one Swirler off, and two came away, I tried to break these in half and they split, but into several parts. I tried to break one off the other side, and it came away neatly. Not the best start though. I made myself a nice big mug of coffee.

Next I swirled it in my drink, but it made the chocolate melt and slippery. I ended up with a finger imprint on the end I was holding and sticky fingers. There wasn’t enough biscuit to soften like a proper biscuit, which is the best part of dunking. The drink gained nothing from the traces of added chocolate, and the chocolate gained nothing from the hot liquid.
Conclusion, I just ate the rest of the bar like regular chocolate, and it was divine. I’d forgotten how good Galaxy can be.

16 July 2017

Croatian Paste Chocolates - ChocOlive & ChocOrange (@NLi10)

Picked up at an airport by a colleague, today we have odd long bars of hand-made chocolate filled with paste matching the flavours on the box.  I was purely intrigued by the fact that it has Olive filling inside one of the varieties.

So first lets talk basics. These are nice, slabs of chocolate and are very fragile on top and strong underneath. The boxes are designed so that travellers can protect their investment and the tops don't cave in until you want them to.  The Dark choc is the Orange, and the Milk is the Olive.  I'm not sure this matters.

We tried to break them off in orderly lines - but it just didn't work - so we popped them in the fridge and tried again.  They basically shattered and there were no perfect chunks - but this created a pleasing effect where no two pieces were the same and we probably ended up eating more than planned at each sitting.

The goo was very much a solid paste and not like a caramel or liquid centre - which was good because that would not have worked with the shards of chocolate we had.

The orange wasn't that exciting, it tastes of orange, but less so than the typical UK roses and quality street options.  Enjoyable, but not that memorable.

The olive paste it turns out is mostly olive oil flavoured. This is even weirder than the salty olives I was expecting and am now craving.  Again - it was pleasurable to eat and not something I'd really ever hunt down again.

The chocolate however was great quality and probably the actual star.  Both versions were nice, and I guess you could have swapped the contents and not had any noticeable effect (although the weaker flavour was the Olive so they probably balanced it out for us).  Often things brought back from holidays are all packaging and no substance, but these are cool enough and interesting enough that I'd be tempted to grab some more if I wanted to dump currency at the airport and surprise my friends. Not a classic, but a good solid regional variation.

15 July 2017

Sheppy’s Vintage Reserve Cider (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

Not one for drinking cider, you may know, but I've recently found out that it's one of the best drinks to wash down a good packet of pork scratchings. Sheppy's Vintage Reserve seemed a little posh sounding to wash down one of my favourite snacks. However, the drink sounded very traditional as the Sheppy family has been a farmer cider makers since the early 1800s, and we can't get much more of a traditional snack here that isn't pork scratchings! This 7.4% volume cider was made using traditional methods dating back to those times. Using cider apples from their own orchards in a single year, this one being from 2016, they are then aged in oak vats.

So chilled and ready my cider sat proud next to my bag of pork scratchings, but of course, I thought I'd try the cider first on my clean palate. There was the distinguishable smell of cider apples on opening the bottle, a touch of bitterness to start with followed by sweet apply goodness. Lightly sparkling, there was a jolly fizz on pouring this cider into my waiting glass. On taste the balance of the aroma transcended to the flavour. There was an almost nose twisting bitterness to start with, but well before it overpowered my senses the sweetness kicked in smoothing out the drink and making it a moreish treat. It almost seemed a shame to open the packet of pork scratching, but c'est la vie!

14 July 2017

Mr Kipling Eton Mess Bakewell Tarts (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

These new Eton Mess Bakewell Tarts from Mr Kipling are part of the summer range. They are a twist on a regular Bakewell Tart and have the addition of pink icing, fruit jam and meringue, to give the feel of the summer dessert. There are six pink pies in the pack, and they look very pretty and tempting.
They are in metal foil cases, and were difficult to get out of these as the pastry kept crumbling around the edges, I could tell the pastry was very soft. They were a little difficult to serve.

I gave one a try and found that these Eton Mess Bakewell Tarts were all about the pastry, and for my tastes there was too much of it. The distinctive flavour of Bakewell Tart was muted by the flour and pastry flavour and the Eton Mess addition.
There was a hint of raspberry jam, but any fruit flavour was difficult to pick up on. I liked the crunchy meringue on the top, this added a good mix of textures. These Bakewell Tarts look lovely, and would be fab packed on a picnic. They are sweet and pleasant, but I couldn’t help thinking I preferred the more distinctive flavour of regular Bakewell Tarts. I’ve never been a big pastry fan, but can normally cope if the filling is strong or plentiful, these weren’t particularly. I guess this is why deep filled mince pies are my favourite.

13 July 2017

Meat free Prawn Katsu with Tricolour gnocchi (@NLi10) #Vegan

We've already established that Fry's are the reigning kings of frozen vegan things - so lets dive in to the deep end and see how they make Vegan scampi!

Naturally it's a bit like their chicken nuggets, but they have involved a chef and really gone to town.

I'm presuming he's off Masterchef based on the text. And he recommends a spicy tomato chutney - which sounds amazing - but I didn't have one so I made a little Katsu sauce.  We picked this up from Webbs Garden Centre's expensive gift section.  It's pretty potent!

I just mixed it with some water and reduced it down as I didn't have any coconut milk to hand, and didn't think to use almond milk.  It worked pretty well.

I served with gnocchi because I really fancied some and it's quicker than doing a stir fry.  

The vegan scampi were interesting, there was a definite herby flavour and they almost seemed to be harder on the outside and softer in the middle giving them a bite similar to a prawn. The veggie taster wasn't as put off by these as the chicken style nuggets we had and ate them all no problem.  More please!

The Katsu was a little strongly made, but was a welcome kick to the meal and also vegan which was good.

Naturally you could make a less childish looking meal by adding veggies and a proper stir fry with noodles - maybe on a night when I have more fresh ingredients and time!

12 July 2017

Haagen-Dazs Salted Caramel Ice Cream Bar (Morrisons) By @SpectreUK

Not one for writing about ice cream, Cinabar implored me to write about this Haagen-Dazs Salted Caramel Ice Cream Bar. Personally I prefer to have a milk chocolate bar of some description and a black coffee after dinner, or a white chocolate bar and white hot chocolate drink. However I needed to cool down after a hot day at work, followed by a hot cramped train journey and then over heating a little watching the Wimbledon Women's Tennis during my evening meal.

Before I knew it, Cinabar had thrust a Haagen-Dazs Salted Caramel Ice Cream Bar in my hand. After unwrapping, on first crunchy milk chocolate coated bite I could see that there were small pieces of soft salted caramel in amongst the vanilla ice cream. There was a sweet saltiness to the ice cream as a whole that seemed to increase in flavour the more I ate. This was indeed a totally delicious chocolatey sweet and salty caramel ice cream treat, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Information on the packet;
Three ice cream bars in the box, at 70g each, having 257 calories, 18.3g of fat, 17.6g of sugar, and 0.34g of salt. Please see photograph.

11 July 2017

Cadbury Caramel Roundies Biscuits (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

This packet of Caramel Roundies are the new biscuits from Cadburys. They are wafer based, which is unusual for Cadburys, but this sort of biscuit is very popular on the continent so it is nice to wafers getting a try over here with a big brand.
When I looked at the packet I was a bit surprised to see that there were only five biscuits inside. I’m used to the biscuits being in stacks, so the idea of the number of biscuits being a prime number seemed odd (pun intended). However once the pack was opened it made more sense as the biscuits were neatly presented in a row, and although there were only five I have to be fair and say they were very large biscuits.

Each one is neatly wrapped in foil and has a smart swirl pattern on top. There is plenty of wafer inside, and there is caramel between the layers too. I gave one a bite and found that the balance of ingredients was spot on. There is a lot of chocolate, particularly around the edges of the biscuits, and this ensure that every bite has that lovely Cadbury chocolate taste. The wafers have a good light crispy crunch, and are crumbly but firm. I love a mix of textures, so wafer biscuits are up my street. The caramel adds a nice sweet rich taste to the biscuit, and all together the flavours are just spot on.
I’ve already ordered more for my next online order, and when things usually have to have a “new” label to get into the snacking portion of my virtual trolley this means high praise indeed.

10 July 2017

New Lindt Lindor Orange Bar (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

This was in the “impulse buy” section of the supermarket, on the end of an aisle very near the tills. I don’t need much encouragement to impulse buy anything, they had me at “New”. I am big fan of the Lindt Lindor chocolates, and love having them at Christmas. The orange bar looked like a fab treat, without the need to buy a box full of chocolates.
Being a long thin bar it felt a little fragile, and by the time it had made its journey home (via shopping bags in the back of the car) it had unsurprisingly broken in two. There wasn’t any card under the bar to protect it, but it was still in a very edible format so I guess it doesn’t matter. The first thing I did was broke a chunk off anyway.
I don’t know if it was my imagination but the filling in the bar felt much more runny than what you would expect in the Lindor balls. It was wasn’t oozing all over the place by any means but it felt softer and a step nearer to being liquid. I don’t think this is just because the weather is warmer, as the outside chocolate was still firm.
The taste was lovely, the milk chocolate was rich and full of flavour and the balance of the orange was spot on. Sweet and smooth and fruity, citrus and chocolate do work well together. The best part though was that the bar still had that wonderful silkiness I associate with Lindor. this made it feel luxurious and special, and a proper treat with my afternoon coffee. Definitely a bar I’ll be picking up again.

9 July 2017

Pumpkin Spiced Late Muller Fruit Corner (by @NLi10)

Occasionally we find things for review that don't really conform with what is expected of a product in that category.  After a race that a friend participated in they gave out the usual freebies, and for some reason a bunch of these yougurts.  Considering it was probably around April (I've had these pictures for a while) a Pumpkin Spiced Late Muller Fruit Corner was not what the participants were expecting, and a tray of them made it to work.  So I took a couple to try.

They look standard enough - its a Muller fruit corner after all and these things are now an institution. You get a yougurt, sometimes with two layers, and then you get some jam, and you mix them.

Here we see that the yougurt is a funny colour, and the pumpkin is a little more ominous than your typical raspberry jam.  Also - it smells like a Halloween style treat, but thats probably the psychology of anything that contains pumpkin.

Essentially this is coffee, spices and pumpkin - none of which should be going anywhere near yougurt and possibly only one at a time in the pudding section of a meal.  The whole combination is odd, it's both too strongly flavoured but they all seem to cancel out making the resulting sticky paste very sweet and non-descript. I wasn't a fan. 

THe second yougurt was eaten by a colleague who seeemed to get through it OK but admitted that he'd rather have had a normal one.

The main reason for bothering to review this though is the interesting possibility it throws up.  Coffee yougurts exist, but are for crazy people.  Pumpkin yougurts are probably fine but not in this form.  Spicy yougurt though is an interesting thing.  You see I live in a very Asian area (and love it) and smart people use the yogurt to cool the spices - and this got me thinking.

We have two potential options here - both using fairly plain yougurt - but with the corner being the excitement.
 The first idea is very straight forwards - you try and emulate the classic Asian starter of the poppadom and dips, only we get a huge yougurt and a little spicy mango or the red stuff dip too.  Not sure how theye'd give us popadom too. 
The other idea is that we stick a spicy Bombay mix in the corner  - and its this one I love. There used to be a lot of more childish corners with little chocolate balls next to them and I think that this would go well with that style.

Muller Spice Starter corners, where you get to eat your yougurt before your sandwiches and not feel guilty about it. Call me Muller, lets do business. Maybe I'll have to mock one up.

8 July 2017

Vital IPA Beer (Honestbrew) By @SpectreUK

I've been watching Wimbledon Women's Tennis all afternoon after a good session at the gym this morning, and there's nothing like a cold beer to watch it with. This Vital IPA was brewed by the Victory Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. It was very kindly sent to us by Honestbrew. This 6.5% volume IPA is a concoction of American hops and german malts. I did watch the end of a match between an American lady and a German lady, which was very well fought.

I have to agree with the label, as the aroma from the open 330ml can was fresh and crisp, with fruity hop notes. This glowing blonde beer has an invigorating bitterness to start with cutting away at the tastebuds with a flourish of fruitiness following, with sweetness from the malts to finish. This is certainly a perfect refreshing cold beer for hot summer afternoons in front of the television watching a favourite sport.

7 July 2017

Degusta Box June 2017 (@DegustaboxUK) By @Cinabar

We had been away for a few days and came back to our Degusta delivery for June. This is our monthly food subscription box, where you get a delivery of new and interesting food/snacks and drinks for a set monthly price. This Degusta box was an edition with summer in mind, and came with summer themed sweets and barbecue seasonings, all ready to use in the sunshine.

In terms of sauces we received a Chilli and Coconut Sauce, which is Brazilian. It suggests cooking this with chicken, and I can’t wait to experiment. I don’t know much about Brazilian cooking flavours, so I’m interested to investigate. We also had the seasonings to make pulled chicken and spicy buffalo wings. Both of these sound like they would be fun to cook, and of course fun to eat.

Now that I’m getting used to Degusta boxes I’m spotting themes, like they always seem to have some interesting sweets. They have the new ones from Haribo which are the Summer Frenzy editions, the ice cream flavours in the sours look particularly good! On a healthier note there are some mango pieces in yoghurt which I will take to work to snack on.

Biscuit wise we have one box of savoury and one of sweet. I’ve had Walkers shortbread before, but the dog shape biscuits look super cute. I’m intrigued by the Original O’s and I’m looking forward to trying those out. Cumin and Sesame sounds like an interesting combination.

One thing is for sure I don’t need to buy muesli or granola any more, Degusta have provided a box each month. I’m looking forward to trying out this apple and peanut variety, and it will be the first experience of the make Spoon which as it is new to me.

Finally there was an excellent selection of drinks in this box, all perfect for handing out around a barbecue. There was cider from Rosie’s Pig flavoured with Damson or Rhubarb. These are creative combinations with cider, and Spectre has tried the rhubarb before and is looking forward to taste testing the damson variety. There are too “energy’ drinks too, but these are mainly fruit based with the energy coming from coffee beans. That is kind of the more mature and much nicer version of those cans of overly sugared caffeine kicks. Finally there is a bottle of alcohol free Sauvignon Blanc from Eisburg. Perfect for the designated driver attending that barbecue!

Many thanks to Degusta for sending us our review edition of the June Degusta box, it was another great box. They were also kind enough to include in it all options for items where normally only one is selected at random.

6 July 2017

Yushoi Sna-pea rice sticks (@NLi10)

My partner found these in the Holland & Barrett reduced section - they are made out of peas which is pretty interesting.

The back shows thaT they aren't bad for you, but aren't particularly good for you either.  The texture is similar to that of chipsticks which is cool, in a retro way, and they leave a similar feeling in the mouth.

They also look a little bit green which is fun - and natural too.

They just don't really excite in the same way that most other crisps do. I'd much rather have a normal bag of Chipsticks - or this crisp but with the flavour added. They feel a bit like one step too far, not quit3 unique enough to be their own category and too similar to the much less healthy but nicer version to exist happily.

They call them rice sticks when they are only 8% rice, presumably because pea sticks sounds like a pregnancy test.

The kind of crisp you'd eat half a bag of then forget about, edible but not compulsive.

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