18 October 2017
Marmite is one of those products people either love or hate. I should probably start this blog with a disclaimer; I don't like Marmite. Although I know that sounds a little off to be blogging about something flavoured with a product I don't like. I also haven't liked all of the Marmite flavoured products that have recently came out, such as; Marmite Cereal Bars, Marmite Truffles, and Marmite Chocolate. However, for some reason I absolutely love Marmite Crisps. I just can't have enough of them. So, I keep trying with other new Marmite products… Marmite Biscuits can't be all that bad, can they? I do like oaty biscuits, and these are oaty biscuits that are flavoured with Marmite. So…
There was a smell of Marmite when I opened the first mini packet of four Marmite jar shaped biscuits. I popped the first biscuit into my mouth and found that it had a decent oaty crunch. There was an oatiness to the flavour to start with, and as the biscuit bits washed around my mouth the saltiness from the Marmite flavouring came through, and then the full Marmite taste kicked in - and kicked pretty hard too! I'd certainly recommend trying these Marmite Biscuits with a slice of cheese and maybe some butter. The oatiness and saltiness should compliment the cheese. It probably doesn't matter what cheese you have, but I reckon the stronger the better if you don't want to be too distracted by the after Marmite kick. I don't mean that in a bad way… it's just that people either love it or hate it!
Information on the packet;
The 120g packet contains 5 x 4 packets of biscuits, with 122 calories per 24g packet, having 4.4g of fat, 1.3g of sugar, and 0.5g of salt. See photograph for ingredients.
17 October 2017
Following on from the Delightful Mint Whip review last week, I am now trying out the other new flavour in Nestle’s Whips range (AKA the new but Walnut-less Whips). I think the thing that surprised me most with the Mint Whip was there was nothing on top, I wasn’t expecting a walnut, but some kind of decoration. This Delicious Caramel Whip too is naked, and looks like something is missing.
Now as this is a caramel flavour I did wonder whether it would contain an actual layer of caramel inside the whip, but it turns out it is purely a caramel flavoured whipped filling. I opened up the wrapper, these are individually packed inside the box, and bit into the chocolate and found the light brown colour whip inside. The flavour of the filling isn’t too strong, but the caramel aspect was very tasty. It had a rich burnt sugar taste, and reminded me of honeycomb pieces. It was a very tasty and sweet Whip, and went perfectly with the thick chocolate casing. It made a lovely treat to snack on and is perfect for caramel fans, despite there technically not being any liquid caramel inside. There are only 136 calories per Whip, so there is no need to feel too guilty either.
16 October 2017
Oh Marks and Spencer how I love your posh crisps, and the range that comes out for Christmas always makes me smile. Last year they brought us Bucks Fizz flavour but this year they have surpassed themselves; they have chosen the perfect starter to a Christmas dinner; Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Champagne and turned them into crisps. Incase you thought that didn’t quite sound posh enough for you, these crisps come with added glitter too! These are clearly intended to be poured into a bowl to be shown off at a Christmas gathering, but I’m still eating them with my sandwiches, and just having a posh lunch!
I opened up the bag and was impressed by the aroma, it really did smell like smoked salmon. I poured some out and spotted that the crisps didn’t have as much edible glitter sparkle as I would have liked, you really had to know it was there and look for it, just the odd speck. Taste wise the salmon was a little more muted and it was the cream cheese that came to the forefront. The smoked salmon taste hit as the aftertaste, and was delicate but still with the very specific smokey fish flavour. There was also a lovely acidic shot at the end from the champagne keeping them fresh flavoured and giving them a gentle bubbly buzz. They manage to carry a very complex flavour very well, and yet remain easy to eat. I have always had a weakness for fish flavoured crisps so I was in heaven with these, I will be buying more before the season is out!
15 October 2017
After a long day of spectating (and a lot of walking) as part of Birmingham’s first marathon I popped into the MAC cafe for a break.
In the cafe they have a large selection of cakes and teas - I chose the TeaPigs Mao Feng green tea and apple turnover. Both were perfectly lovely, but the main event was on its way.
Fish finger sandwich!
This was made with great quality fingers and proper flakey fish this was a real mid day treat.
And just enough to sustain me to see my friends finish the marathon - hooray!
14 October 2017
This Orchard Thieves Cider by Bulmer's in Herefordshire is named after the foxes that apparently hunt the finest apples off the cider maker's trees. I had no idea foxes like apples, I thought they just eat meat. Apparently urban foxes have a varied diet of vegetables and bugs!
We live in the fairly leafy suburbs of a city's urban sprawl in the middle of England over fifty miles north of Hereford. Here I have a different relationship with the fox that lives in the dense undergrowth at the back of the garden. I saw how thin he or she looked some months ago when I spotted it wandering around in the dim light of an early evening. Since then I've been leaving left over scraps out from our dinners. The fox eats especially well if we've been to the chip shop and I leave it the bones from Cinabar and her mom's chicken and chips, and the odd leftover sausage. We also have an apple tree, so if they do like them, he won't go too hungry!
On opening this 4.5% volume Orchard Thieves Cider there was a light and cheerful carbonated fizz. There was a tart apple smell from the top of the can. This cider definitely has a crispness to it. Full of flavour from start to aftertaste. It packs a punch on first biting sip and smoothes to a lovely cider apple finish. This craft cider is very refreshing and would go well washing down a roast pork meal, or with my favourite pork scratching snack, or just on its own kicking back with a good book.
13 October 2017
I'm keep seeing new biscuits to try, it must the autumn and comfort food coming more into season. These new ones from McVities are in their Digestives range and are chocolate coated but with a layer of coffee caramel in between.
Once open the biscuits have a light coffee cream aroma, sweet, chocolatey and with a nice rich coffee smell. The flavour is similar to this, with the coffee well defined. As someone who loves a mix of textures I have to say the gooey caramel layer mixed with the crunchy biscuit worked really well for me. I don’t actually eat a lot of biscuits, but I still really rated these on the snacking front. They provided a lovely hit of chocolate and the added coffee taste was just at the right level. The wholesome oaty flavour of the Digestive biscuit was complimented rather than overpowered, and the balance of flavours was spot on.
The added coffee taste meant these McVities Digestives Coffee Caramel are perfect with a cuppa too, and make a lovely afternoon treat.
12 October 2017
Holland & Barrett are a great store for little healthy snacks - and I always meant to pick up more of this Bounce Energy Ball range - so while they had a 2 for one deal on I picked a few up.
I’m using my Guatemalan snack people for scale.
First up we have coconut and lemon protein crush. As long as we understand that energy and calories are essentially the same thing and that most seeds and nuts are protein then we can ignore the blurb and dig right in!
Here we see that its quite a pale flat ball, but its covered in the coconut and it goes pretty deep too. The lemon flavour is certainly present but it’s not as ‘lemon drizzle cake’ as I expected. It’s not quite bitty enough for me and has quite a flat texture, but it’s really nice and fills the ‘7pm and still at work’ gap nicely.
From another evening we have the newer V-life packaging of the Bounce range. I think this is more a rebranding than a separate range as it’s the same kind of thing.
The Guatemalan snack people are worshiping the kale here - although you can’t really taste it. This is more of a ‘bird feeder’ ball than the other having a lot of different textures and tastes and it’s a lot more fun to chew because of it. The flavour isn’t quite as sharp as the previous one though so both have their pluses.
Both are good purchases - especially at the discount rate - and I’ll keep a supply on hand. They are all quite samey so it’s not worth reviewing every single variety, but I’m bound to get through them all eventually!
11 October 2017
I first found out I love Tom Yum noodle soup from a Thai restaurant in town. They made the best Tom Yum soup I've ever eaten, and it's sadly never been surpassed. As far as I could tell it was made with coconut milk. It had small pieces of chicken, diced Spanish Onion, a chopped tomato, button mushrooms, baby sweetcorn, a few noodles and a couple of pieces of hot red chilli. I tried to emulate this with these ingredients myself. I used to make Tom Yum soup from paste I found at a Chinese market, but without the coconut milk. I used to use all the paste and a huge amount of ingredients filling a large saucepan with Tom Yum soup, which would take ages to eat and appealed to my Scooby Snack greediness. The pot noodles flavoured with Tom Yum paste since have been a welcome gap, but non-the-less, not to the restaurant's standard and no coconut milk in sight.
This Tom Yum Noodle Pot was produced for Marks and Spencer's. I opened the cardboard pot and peeled back the plastic lid to find a solid block of egg noodles and a sachet full of dark brown goop, which I presumed was the Tum Yum paste. The instructions on the label stated to add the dark brown goop (paste) and then freshly boiled water. It stated for a more 'intense flavour' to add the water to the 'lower fill line', but I couldn't see that for the solid egg noodles. I did, however, add the water to the top of the noodles instead of the line at the top of the cardboard pot. I poured the freshly boiled water over the brown goop (paste) to make sure it dissolved into the noodles instead of sitting on top of them. I replaced the plastic lid for a few minutes, a little longer than the suggested two minutes, but I had to make a sandwich…
The noodles had softened and soaked up much of the brown liquid soup. The egg noodles and added sweetcorn had mixed well with the Tom Yum paste and hot water. It certainly was tasty and had a Tom Yum ring to it, but I couldn't help wishing I'd added more water for a wetter soup, rather than liquid that had all been soaked up by the noodles. Having said that, there was more liquid at the bottom when I ate most of the noodles. I also found that much of the brown goop (paste) had accumulated there with all the diced cabbage. This made for a very 'intense' end to this Tom Yum noodle soup!
I may have to go back to that restaurant some time, either that or find some Tom Yum paste from a Chinese market, and this time some coconut milk, and have a bash again myself…
Information on the pot;
The 99g pot had 322 calories, with 8.2g of sugar, 5.6g of fat and 3.43g of salt. Please see photographs for the ingredients.
10 October 2017
I love porridge, and have switched to having this for breakfast, call it the call of Autumn. I like to take the pots where you just add water and stir, simple for me to take to work and eat while browsing my email. I noticed that in the same section were some pots of Overnight Oats, which are very on trend at the minute so I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about.
It turns out that I don’t plan breakfast too well, and it took me a few days to remember I needed to prep these in the evening. The pack suggests that the oats should have milk added to them for between 2 and 12 hours and be refrigerated, you then eat it cold in the morning. I added the milk to the dry mix and left it to soak. The next morning I took it out, and sat down to give it a try with my morning coffee. The first thing to note is that this does need to be eaten at home as the soaking overnight can’t really be achieved at a work office, neither can the transportation of it after its been soaked.
I was a little wary of how this was going to work, but was pleased to see it had a least become moist and wasn’t solidified! The texture was much better than expected, and although it wasn’t a smooth as porridge, it was still much closer than I thought it would be. I could still pick up on a powdery edge to the texture, but it was mild. I liked the flavour, the Overnight Oats had been flavoured with Red Apple, and this gave it just enough natural sweetness to make it enjoyable. I have to admit though this was far tastier than I imagined, and it is a major trend, I’m not really a convert. Give me a hot bowl of hot porridge any day over this.
9 October 2017
I am a big of fan of Nestle’s Walnut Whips, they are a lovely combination of chocolate, nut and soft mallow. I love to pick them up as a treat and keep an eye out for their blue boxes, particularly at Christmas. What caught my eye this time was a green box, and a Delightful Mint edition. There is no “new” label apparent on the box, but I haven’t seen it before so I’m pretty sure it is.
The name of these chocolates is usually “Walnut Whip” but it has been shortened to just Whip as there are no nuts on top. I get that mint might not go well with walnut but I couldn’t help thinking the Whips looked a little bit naked, and could have done with some kind of decoration on top.
The chocolate is also dark chocolate, and not the usual milk I would expect from its nutty brother. Dark chocolate and mint though is a classic combination, think After Eights and those of us who are a little bit older the epic Pyramint.
The chocolate on the Whip is good and thick and still sweet despite the darker nature of the chocolate. The filling is lovely and fluffy, as you would expect from a product called Whip. The flavour is minty, and the tones of peppermint work well with the chocolate. Sweet and refreshing, and it made a really tasty treat. I really enjoyed this, I felt for my tastes the mint flavour could have been upped a notch, but ultimately this was a minty delight. Also the closest thing to a Pyramint I have seen in years, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about google it!
I have also picked up a box of the (new) Caramel version of Nestle Whips, and I’ll be writing about those very soon.
8 October 2017
I know it's not Halloween yet, but sometimes you see something that's really perfect for trick or treaters and you have to share ahead of time.
Holland & Barrett have lots of really healthy treats with which you can disappoint Trick Or Treaters on the night (mmm Carob) but here I found something that I'd actually be happy to finish if no one came round, tucked on the bottom shelf in my local H&B store.
I think this bag was about £3 (I really must take more pictures of things on store shelves!) which seemed a little steep but as my sister likes Hello Kitty and we were visiting that evening I decided it was too good to pass up.
These are also Vegan, veggie and gluten free so you aren't going to have any parents complaining that little Johnny swelled up like a balloon after you gave him mysterious sweets.
They are also all natural flavours and colours (which is what you'd hope from something that is mostly sugar). I always hope for things that say 'all supernatural flavours/colours' but I've yet to see this.
It's official Sanrio licensed stuff which explains the slightly higher price.
Spooky Plate Ghost approves! As you can see they are nice little cat head shapes (!) with CK for Candy Kittens on them which is a nice touch, but I'd expected more HK branding inside. Not really disappointed though because these tasted great! The texture is much more to my liking than 'normal' jelly sweets and are similar to gummy things I had in my childhood (I'm sure that my parents avoided the gelatine back then too), and the flavour is strong but not overpowering.
These are something I'm hoping to buy again (I got the last bag!) before Halloween but as I ate these in September I've got a few weeks yet before I need to pick them up. I'm not sure how easy it is to hand these out at the door, but a bag on the table with four of us eating them lasted all night with a few left over so it's a decent sized portion.
Well worth hunting for, especially if you have vegan/gluten free ghouls to feed or just like the Hello Kitty style.
7 October 2017
I'm not sure why the Swedish brewed apple cider with wild strawberries is called 'Elk Warning'. It may be because the wild strawberries used in the brewing were guarded by a band of blood thirsty Elks, or because they nibble the odd batch of wild strawberries, or because the brewers never know which of the wild strawberries in the forest have been used for target practice during toilet breaks? I was a little confused at the drawing of the Elk with the top hat and tails in front of his country manor, and hot air balloons skimming the tree tops above him. In small text on the can it does describe him as the 'King of the Forest'. Deciding to risk it and figuring King Elk has a habit of shooting trespassers who ignored his 'Elk Warning' signs at the edges of his property, I popped open the fetching black and blood red can.
There was a pleasant fizz on opening this 4% volume cider with wild strawberries. There was a smell of freshly picked strawberries mixed with apple cider. Not that freshly picked from the supermarket shelf punnet smell. No. The aroma of real freshly picked strawberries straight from a little plant in the garden or an Elk King's forest. This is a very pink lightly fizzy drink. My beer glass was slightly embarrassed by its pinkness. Not a tough guy's drink for drinking down the local waterhole, unless you have a pottery beer tankard instead. The aroma of wild freshly picked strawberries assailed by nostrils on first taste. This cider is dominated by wild strawberries. No half measures here. There is apple cider of course, but sweet strawberries to start with right through to the end. This fruity pudding cider would go down well for an afternoon refresher in the dying embers of the sun before the big freeze, even over some icy rocks if it's not too chilly outside, or perhaps after a spicy dinner to cool down your tastebuds before a fruity sweet a creamy dessert.
6 October 2017
I do like Oreo biscuits, they are in the list of biscuits I like enough not to need to dunk. Most biscuits are improved by a splash of coffee I find, but there are a few rare examples that I’m happy to eat without and Oreo fits neatly in this category.
To be fair to Oreo they are quite good at limited edition flavours in the UK, and we have had mint, strawberry and peanut butter “flavour” all available recently as well as having “Choc” ones about before now. These Oreo Choc o Brownie looked mighty similar to the regular chocolate flavour with its brown filling, and on taste test I have to admit it tasted similar too. This is not a bad thing, extra chocolate in Oreos still provides a good flavour and an enjoyable biscuit. I couldn’t pick up on the brownie element, I guess the specifics of the cake are just very much like a chocolate biscuit at heart. For me the chocolate flavour was missing out on the contrast of the filling and base biscuit. Even the plain creamy filling this works so well with the dark biscuit.
So these are very enjoyable biscuits, similar to chocolate Oreos, and not quite as exciting as some of the other fun flavours, but still all together tasty as that Oreo base flavour still shines through. I did once try dipped Oreos in white chocolate, and to be honest they will remain my favourite variety even if they are near impossible to find in this country.
5 October 2017
No lads night out would be complete without a few beers and some takeaway food, even if the lads are all scientists and the take-away is actually eaten in a trendy street-food location. On a work night out it was decreed that we should trek over to the Indian Brewery Company to sample their fantastic sounding menu.
As is traditional the person whose leaving do it was completely over ordered getting us enough food for at least 6 people - to the extent that they had to bring it in shifts! I'd been a little more sensible choosing the one item I required and then sniping other parts of the meal as it appeared.
Above we see the first course of the Royal Rumble - which is basically one of everything on the menu except we had added an extra mixed grill (and my Fat Naan).
With my limited ability to tolerate large amounts of spicy food this was more than enough for me (you get two of the above for £7.50) and the flavour was simply divine. Hot enough to be interesting, but not so much that the herbs and subtlety is lost. I could eat one of these right now - easily. Good enough that I was messaging multiple friends and explaining that I'd take them soon.
Here is one of the mixed grills, I picked at this to help out, but the kebab was a spicy risk that I dodged and the rest was mostly demolished by my companions. I had more than enough pakora and masala chips to make the visit worth while.
Here is the full menu - considering that you could easily feed five on the Royal Rumble alone the prices are very fair. If I went 'alone' I'd have the Chicken Run fat naan again with Pakora Pops.
The drinks were very confusing - I had a Limca which seems to be a kind of Indian Banta style flat lemonade. It was decent enough, but maybe a bit too sherbet like for my tastes. I'll try the High5 cola style version next time.
Ordinarily at places like this the beer drinkers extol the virtues of their own distinct selections and then swap sips and make plans for round two. No-one liked their initial drink - and pints were even left at the end! This struck me as strange for a 'brewery' style location and maybe our taste buds are just not tuned in the same as the local crowd. The green can (Siera?) was bought as a replacement drink by one person and enjoyed, but the remainder was very much drunk under sufferance and a second round was not purchased.
Overall though the food was amazing, the portions more generous than anticipated and a return visit assured. There just aren't enough work trips out available to eat in all the great places that Birmingham has attracted recently!
4 October 2017
These new Maynards Bassetts Wine Gums Tangy are the usual fruit flavoured gums, but they have a sour sugar coating. There are five flavours to choose from in the packet with different gummy shapes. I started with orange, which was very fruity and had a decent sourness to it. Next came the yellow almost white coloured lemon flavour, which was a little sourer than the orange, but a little less fruity. I wasn't surprised at that, as orange can have a stronger flavour and lemon gummies usually have a sourness of their own, even without the sour sugar coating. The green coloured gummies were next, which had a juicy apple flavour with a light sourness to them. All three flavours had been great so far, but I already had a preference for the orange gummies, which was a pity as I couldn't see anymore in the packet. I do have a 'thing' where I like equal shares of coloured sweets in packets. I'm sure this is difficult on big production lines, but it can't be just my preference alone? The red coloured gummies were next, and they packed quite a sour punch. Raspberry flavour if I'm not mistaken, thankfully not cherry, and they were fruitier and sourer than the orange gummies. Having said that, the black coloured blackcurrant gummies were by far the fruitiest, but the reds were the most sour. The reds for me had the most balanced fruitiness and sourness in the packet. There were lots of reds and also black gummies, with fewer greens and yellows. Somewhere out there I'm sure there's a packet full of orange gummies…
Information on the packet;
The 165g packet contain suggested four gummy services which had 88 calories, 0.1g of fat, 16g of sugar, and 0.01g of salt. See photograph for ingredients.
3 October 2017
These new Gourmet Bites from the Yorkshire Crisps company are not potato based, instead these are flavoured biscuit “titbits” of flavour. Like the crisps they are presented in a posh drum, and also have luxury flavours. I was trying out Tomato, Cheddar, Basil and Oats.
The Titbits Gourmet Bites are small, round but still quite chunky. You can tell from the colour of them that they had plenty of tomato in the ingredients, as there is a very distinctive orange colour to them. We used them in place of crisps with a sandwich to nibble on while watching TV.
The flavour was mild, there was sweet tomato and herbs, and a pleasing hint of cheese. I loved the basil, and these had such a good Italian taste. They are very easy to munch on and the flavour is nice, and easy going. I was impressed that the oat taste came through as strongly as it did giving these a good wholesome flavour, and they had a buttery after taste. They are easy to munch on, but posh enough to save for when guests come over. It is worth having some of these in a cupboard for the start of the Christmas season and when visitors start appearing.
2 October 2017
These new Roses Cake Bars from Cadbury are newly listed on the Morrisons website, and mimic some of the chocolates from the Roses chocolates selection. I managed to pick up the Coffee Escape and Strawberry Dream varieties.
So this is based on the lovely strawberry cream from Roses chocolate. There is a layer of sponge, topped with a pink creme. The flavour is very full on and leaves no doubt about the fruity strawberry tastes. The berries pack an excellent punch, and go well with the milk chocolate flavours and the light and fluffy sponge.
This is a similar cake bar, with light sponge, only this time there is a coffee cream layer in the mix. The aroma of this bar was very rich from the second the wrapper was unpeeled, and I loved the rich tones of coffee cream. The coffee flavour was full on but it was sweet and flavoursome and very enjoyable.
These new Roses Cake Bars were very much full of flavour, and both the strawberry and coffee were rather vibrant. Both varieties were a good combination with the chocolate and very easy to eat. I was pleased that they were individually wrapped as this means they are just right to tuck into my lunch box for a chocolatey treat at work.
1 October 2017
When thinking of great Japanese food Sutton Coldfield is not the first place that springs to mind. At one of our many (many) games nights it was suggested that we'd all like Japanese food and there wasn't a reasonable option on the chosen food app. What to do! One of the group remembered that a restaurant that he'd always fancied when driving past had a big sign up saying 'we are now online for deliveries' or similar and a quick Google later we found them and ordered away!
They warned us that they could take an hour, but delivered in around 40 - a rarity that other local places could take note of! And not only that, the food was really well packaged and came with chopsticks and sauces ready to be mixed to eat.
Naturally I had the Katsu Chicken Curry to put them head to head with Birmingham favourites Yakinori (who win all kinds of awards with this, their signature dish). The quality was certainly close and I'd have to try the restaurant to get a perfect comparison but I think the Yakinori version edges it. The fact that I'm not able to dismiss the SUSHIDO version instantly speaks volumes to the quality though, and everything here was similarly good. And at £60 for 4 people including sides it was very reasonably priced.
It's a veritable banquet and the four of us had more than enough to go around.
The sushi had survived the trip well and I am told that the wasabi was particularly potent! As the location of the restaurant makes it hard for us to just pop in (which is a shame as I think they'd wow us in person). I know we will be certainly ordering from here again and probably even having extra games nights locally as an excuse to try more of the menu.
A victory for small businesses with easy to Google names and 'We Deliver' signs!
Bonus mini review: the host had some Kikkoman brand Plum Wine, which oddly I'd not had before. It was very warming and had a nice deep flavour - but I'll stick to soft drinks (and large quantities of their soy sauce!).