18 November 2017
I've drank a few gluten free beers before. They are generally made with corn maize, or other cereals, instead of malted barley, which do not trigger an autoimmune response in celiacs, although some brewers limit the amount of malted barley by using rye. Although tasting slightly different than full-on gluten beer, the gluten free beers I've tasted in the past have always been pleasant, but usually missing something (of course). Having said that I am rather partial to red rye beer with its spicy flavour.
This Green's Gluten Free Pilsner was produced in Belgium. At 4.5% volume this beer sports a hoppy and citrus aroma on the label with a hint of vanilla. Unlike many gluten free beers, this beer was made with malted barley, but with the gluten removed. On opening the 330ml bottle I was certainly greeted with a hoppy smell with undertones of citrus and a slight sweetness at the back of the smell. This joyously fizzy golden pilsner filled my waiting beer glass with welcome bubbles and a cheeky white head.
On taste bitter citrus hops bashed at my tastebuds first, closely followed by the malted barley and a hint of the bottom fermented yeast that makes it a lager, and differs it from top fermented yeast for making ales. This is a very tasty lager, not too bloatingly fizzy like some lagers can be. Its obviously taken a great deal of care and attention to make it, rather than some other mass produced big burping lagers that 'grace' the shelves of so many supermarkets. This is great stuff, I'd recommend it, and it certainly didn't taste like it was missing anything!
17 November 2017
This is a new bar of chocolate from Green and Black in their new Velvet Edition range. I am a big fan of mint chocolate so I thought this might be right up my street.
The bar itself is neatly packaged in card and then foil wrapped. The pieces of chocolate are very dark in colour and the aroma from the bar is outstanding, the tones of peppermint where very appetising.
I broke a piece of the chocolate off and was surprised by how firm the snap was. I do expect a firm snap on chocolate of good quality, but as this is a “velvet edition” bar I had thought it might be softer. The flavour is a wonder mix of rather strong dark chocolate tones, wrapping themselves around a fragrant and powerful peppermint. The chocolate isn’t too sweet, but the chocolate and mint work together oh so well. The texture is lovely too and as promised it does have a fairly thick melt that is very silky on the palette.
This is the perfect bar of chocolate for mint lovers, but its flavours are rather grown up. I like the rich tastes, and this is going to be a bar I pick up again and again.
16 November 2017
The Fry Family Vegan range is fantastic, and as long as we have an Ocado Smart Pass And they have these on special offer at 3for £6 then I’m going to keep working my way through them!
This time we have something a bit different, schnitzels are pretty meaty and very European - so how did they manage?
Well they certainly look authentic,
sometimes I do worry about feeding these things to my veggie partner - she’s very trusting!
We had the, with sweet potato fries, and a few left over falafels. The flavour isn’t a bit smokey, and a little meaty, but the texture is unmistakably that of the Fry vegan range. I really enjoyed the mix of the outside and inside and the breaded coating was a nice touch. I don’t think my partner was so keen, she doesn’t like things that try too hard to be meaty. This just means I ge to eat both of the remaining ones in the freezer. Hooray,
15 November 2017
I always have a tomato with my sandwich and crisps at work, so this makes for a change! And no it’s not a spelling mistake. Believe me I stared at the packet for quite a while. These “Oloves” natural green pitted olives are flavoured with chilli and oregano. Although it does sneakily mention garlic on the back of the packet, so people may regret sitting too close to me in meetings after lunch! They are naturally free of gluten and an all-round low calorie snack in a small packet that’s easy to fit into a lunchbox.
On opening there was quite a few green pitted olives filling the packet, which were covered in sunflower oil, and an oregano, garlic and chilli type flecked sauce. On taste there was the instant finely oiled green olive flavour mixed with the herby oregano taste followed by a subtle sweetness and the garlic. This mild garlic taste was quickly merged with a medium heat from the red flecks of chilli. The chilli left a pleasant medium tingle in my mouth during the aftertaste.
These Oloves made for a very tasty alternative to my regular tomato. Also being ‘pitted’ means they’re not too messy with having to spit out stones in front of your colleagues in the canteen, however if you don’t want to get your fingers oily, I’d recommend a small spoon, fork or cocktail stick..
Information on the packet;
The 30g packet contains 53 calories, 18.4g of fat, 0.3g of sugar, and 2.5g of salt. Ingredients included; pitted green olives (96%), sunflower oil, chilli (0.6%), oregano (0.3%), garlic powder, garlic aroma, salt, distilled vinegar, lactic acid, and citric acid.
14 November 2017
On some of these new crisps you can easily imagine the flavour appearing on the menu of a smart restaurant, rather than just being a new variety of snack flavouring. These Chargrilled Steak and Chimichurri flavour are Walkers crisps too, but admittedly in their posher Sensations range.
I opened up the bag to share and the blast of herbs was incredibly appetising. They have to be one of the nicest aromas from a bag of crisps I’ve tried in ages. We shared some out with sandwiches at lunch.
The crisps had a decent sprinkle of herbs visually and flavour wise that was also very true. The taste was impressive, there was so many flavoursome herbs mixed in, and a lovely tang of vinegar. The oregano was the star, and what followed in the taste was a nice smokiness that gradually developed into the beefy steak flavour. For me the herbs and mix of tastes that make up Chimichurri were a winner, and I loved every one of these crisps. The only negative is that the steak part is slightly sidelined, but I’d be loathed if they change the balance of flavours as they are so darned moreish as they are.
13 November 2017
I was actually looking for strawberry jam when I found this curious sounding spread. For a change we had an Ocado online grocery order, and their selection of jams included those by Hotel Chocolat. I got distracted and stumbled across this Chocolate Orange Marmalade which made its way into my virtual basket.
I tried this out for breakfast spread on toast. I popped open the jar and the contents looked a lot more like chocolate spread than marmalade, and for a minute or so I thought this might be a bit rich. I went to spread it and realised that the texture was much lighter then a chocolate spread and was it back in jam territory despite the colour.
The flavour was far more complex than I had been expecting. The taste is mostly orange marmalade, and it is a particularly sharp bitter orange flavour. The cocoa mixed with is it delivers a little sweetness, but mainly has darker tones giving this a very mature flavour. The more I ate the more I enjoyed the intricacies of all the tastes. I loved the lightly sweetened flavour mixed with the stronger bitter orange and deep cocoa. A very grown up taste, but one that left me craving another piece of toast with Chocolate Orange Marmalade.
12 November 2017
A while ago we were contacted about trying some of the Yutaka brand Ramen at home kits. As this was something I'd been talking about with friends (the total lack of kits for ramen that were not just a cardboard bowl with cheap noodles) we jumped at the chance, picked them up from the parcel depot and then stashed them in the cupboard for a cold lunchtime to try them on.
Now it's November, and we aren't out all the time those weekend lunchtimes are certainly here! The only difference in the kits is the paste you receive so we are only going to talk about one of them. Maybe if I pick up some Japanese greens to go on top (or tempura flakes like I always had at the Japan cultural centre in London 15 years ago).
I decided on the Ton Kotsu - but as mentioned the noodles are the same in both. You also get two bundles per person which is generous, and the quality is great.
They separate and boil really nicely
And when you turn the paste into the sauce you can choose your own level of soupiness.
I don't like it when it's mostly water and the noodles hide at the bottom, mainly because I struggle to eat it! The noodles were a fab quality, as you'd expect from Yutaka, and once you've boiled the kettle it essentially takes 5 mins to make. The paste is strong and tasty - very mouthwatering and has the same distinctive flavour that you'd get if you ordered this from a restaurant.
Quality and easy to make - I look forwards to working my way through the other portions!
11 November 2017
I always enjoyed watching mythology films like Clash of the Titans, and Jason and the Argonauts when I was younger. I've watched them both recently and still get a kick out them. I do like the various plastiscine looking monsters such as the Hydra and Medusa. Whereas Medusa was a high priestess of Athena and had been turned into a gorgon and cursed with asps for hair and golden wings and skin after a particularly unfortunate encounter with Poseidon, the sea-god, and was made famous in Clash of the Titans. Poseidon came across rather helpful instead in a scene in Jason and the Argonauts.
This Medusa ruby red ale from Harper's Brewery is sported on the label as having a mix of chocolate, roasted coffee and fruitless in its aroma, with a smoky coffee and toffee apple taste. On opening I'd certainly agree with the list of aromas, but with a dominance of dark chocolate. This leant to a weightier presence of chocolate malt in the brewing, which can bring out dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavours. On pouring this deep mahogany red almost brown ale, I must admit from its smell I was expecting a much darker colour, even though the label had described it as 'ruby red'.
In taste there was the chocolate malt that gave a quick blast of dark chocolate only to be replaced by a smoky roasted coffee as the malted barley began to overtake my tastebuds. There was then a mild fruity bitterness from the hops followed by a sweetness akin to toffee from the crystal malt. This is certainly a very tasty beer and I'd agree with the lamb or beef roast dinner recommendation on the bottle, but don't forget there is always place for roast pork (… in my belly), especially with the sweet apple fruitiness within the ale. With its references to chocolate and coffee it could also be considered a pudding beer, and could either complement a chocolate fudge cake or a strong cheese board, but don't forget the chaser of port on the side!
10 November 2017
This was a hard decision for me to make. One of my favourite drinks of all time is the Costa Black Forest Hot Chocolate. I wait for the Christmas drinks to come into season, and then I pounce. The Christmas drinks have now launched and as I queued knowing that I could now order my favourite I knew too that as there was a new drink on the menu that should be the one I choose. These are just some of the tough decisions faced daily by a food review blogger! :-D
So yes, I ordered the Billionaire's Hot Chocolate in Costa and a small chocolate teddy bear to have as an extra treat. The drink arrived topped with cream and a light crumb. The hot chocolate was made with caramel syrup, which was very visible on the bottom and not mixed in. It looked like it was meant to be stirred, or you would risk an over-sweet last mouthful. The picture on the Costa website looks the same though, with the syrup being photographed as stuck to the bottom of the mug. I still stirred my drink, they did give me a spoon after all.
I started with a taste of the biscuit crumb on the cream, and found it do be a very mild flavour. The cream was good though, and made the drink feel like a treat. The drink itself was pleasingly sweet and the caramel and chocolate made for a lovely rather indulgent flavour. I had this in the small option, and this felt right for such a rich drink. I liked it ever so much, it is essentially caramel and chocolate as its base flavours, so what is not to like. Next up I’m still going for the legendary Costa Black Forest Hot Chocolate, I’ll let you know how I get on.
9 November 2017
My favourite quick lunch is sushi. I discovered this at Uni and haven’t stopped the trend. Bromsgrove has a new Waitrose so I managed to pick up a selection to share for lunch. And here is one with quinoa instead of rice - super cool!
Well - until you open it and find out that they put mushrooms inside without putting that on the main label on the box. Disappointment city. Luckily I was able to trade these with my partner for some of her lunch otherwise they’d have gone in the bin!
The black rice rolls were nice, but didn’t overcome the disappointment of not getting to try the quinoa.
My partners basic veggie selection.
I also had a tiny box of Katsu bites which was a very welcome addition. The sauce is fantastic and basically a mayonnaise mix. Not healthy but very good. This felt worth the money for the box and went further than I expected.
All in all it was a nice mini meal, but I’ll have to flip the boxes in future to check for things I can’t eat - get.
8 November 2017
I don't usually like ginger in tea. Mainly because the only ginger tea I have drank in the past is Lemon and Ginger, which has a habit of tasting a little medicinal, such as a cold remedy. Teapigs Rhubarb & Ginger should taste different at least. I do love rhubarb juice (sugared, of course) from the odd bit of rhubarb I grow in the garden (if I'm lucky). Though I was a little taken aback by the fifty / fifty ingredients in this recipe, as there is no tea involved just rhubarb and ginger. Obviously I've never written a blog about Lemon and Ginger tea, because I never bothered to look at the ingredients. I'll check next time I try to avoid a cup.
The flavour described on the back of the Teapigs Rhubarb & Ginger box is; "zesty rhubarb with a sweet ginger kick". There was certainly a dominant sharp fiery sweet smell of ginger on opening the packet within the box, with a fruity hint from the rhubarb. I rarely follow instructions, so ignored the recommended 3-5 minutes brewing time and left the tea temple in my mug for ages. There was a slight pinkish tint to the liquid in the mug upon removing the tea temple. On taste this was a surprisingly calming drink. There is an initial fruity zing from the rhubarb and sweetness with subtle fire behind it from the ginger. It was actually very nice indeed. Not a bit medicinal in flavour due to the fruitiness from the rhubarb and that sweetness from the ginger. The box also recommends trying a tea temple in iced water, which could be refreshing in the summer months!
Information on the box;
The 30g box contains 15 biodegradable tea temples. Ingredients are naturally caffeine free and include 50% rhubarb and 50% ginger.
7 November 2017
Christmas season means that there are loads of new and interesting crisps hitting the shelves, all designed to be shared during seasonal gatherings. Marks and Spencer always goes the extra mile with crisps, and I’ve already written about their Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Champagne and edible glitter ones. Next up we are trying these Bloody Mary Hand Cooked Crisps. The crisps are flavoured with Worcester sauce, tomatoes and vodka, making up the ingredients of the cocktail. The vodka might sound like an odd addition in potato form, and I wasn’t sure how that would transfer to a crisp flavour, but something warming I would guess. That still isn’t the weird part about these crisps, they are made with heritage potatoes that are naturally red in colour and this means the crisps are also a deep red in colour. If you are looking for a statement in a bowl, these are them, they certainly stand out.
The tomato and the Worcestershire sauce set the main base for the flavour of these crisps. They had a good slightly spicy edge, and even a bit of a chilli buzz at the end of each bite. The flavour was quite complex, and I could pick up on different warming spices mixed in too, but that lovely tang of Worcestershire sauce made these. I think the specifics of the vodka were lost in the complexity of the taste. They are a good flavour though, not too strong, and very easy to enjoy. The dramatic colour makes them quite the party piece.
6 November 2017
It was actually NLi10 who drew my attention to this new smoothie from Marks and Spencer. Yes, pack away your Halloween and Bon Fire Night goodies, it is officially the Christmas count down! Already there are seasonal goodies, and that includes this rather weird sounding Christmas Pudding Smoothie. I usually associate smoothies with being healthy, and I wasn’t sure if this was going to fit into this remit but I bought one anyway. Besides nobody cares about calories now until January 1st when we all sign up to or renew gym memberships with determination.
Once I was home the ingredients didn’t actually look too bad or unhealthy, the drink was mainly made up of pureed raisins and low fat yoghurt, amongst other things.
I gave the drink a sip and was hit by how wonderful the cinnamon part of the drink was. It wasn’t actually anywhere near as sweet as I thought it would be, far from it a nice mix of acidic lemon and apple gave this drink a surprisingly refreshing edge. The texture wasn’t too thick, thanks to this drink avoiding banana, and the flavour was very Christmasy but well balanced and easy to drink. Cinnamon is the seasoning of Christmas and I welcome it opened handily as it comes into season. This is certainly a smoothie I’ll be going back for, the flavour is no novelty.
5 November 2017
What seems like an age ago Gu sent us some vouchers and said "go out and buy our new mousse range" and as it looked fabulous we tried. And tried. And tried... Whether Birmingham just wasn't a good market for them, or we missed the window they were in the trial stores I'm not sure - but we never found them.
This appears to be the next new Gu product, with perfect timing for Christmas so with the vouchers still in hand we picked up a box of these.
The idea is simple - sometimes a Gu pudding is a little too large - so here are six smaller ones!
There isn't as much fancy nonsense going on - no glass ramekins just a gloriously well designed box and six little plastic pots.
The blurb is pretty simple, you are getting chocolate pudding and paying about 66p a pot for it.
They don't look big enough to satisfy, but as anyone who has tried this brand before knows it's always going to be big on quality.
Look at that luxurious chocolate! It's pretty hard to capture on camera - no wonder they used pictures of it on the spoon! The choc is fab and reminiscent of their other puddings, and the caramel is all at the bottom and tastes like a Rolo only runnier. It's a great blend, and even for someone like me that chooses their fruity puddings every time this is a treat. The notion of sharing these is easily laughed off as they are individually sealed and will keep fresh for another day.
One couple, six pots, three wonderful mini puddings to enjoy with the TV dinner. Tip out of the pots and add edible sparkle and you could easily serve these to guests too. Fab.
Will still continue to hunt for those elusive mousse though.
4 November 2017
Well it's November or Movember (https://ex.movember.com) again and time for me to reminisce about the time I tried in vain to grow a moustache for charity. I remember a work colleague at the end of the month asked me if I'd shaved it off the day before I actually shaved it off! However I did raise some money for Prostate and Testicular Cancer, as well as mental health and suicide prevention. Anyway, I still can't decide whether it's better to have a relatively hairless babyface (i.e. chubby-face) or to be able to grow a full beard everyday like some people I know! Although I do hate shaving and only have to do it once a week…
This Beardo Indian Pale Ale from Robinson's Brewery in Stockport was the closest thing to a moustache beer I could find at short notice. However it is celebrating facial hair and so does Movember. On opening this 6% volume pale ale there was a citrus hoppy smell followed by sweet malt. On taste the initial intense citrus hop bitterness would make anyones beard hair curl if they have any at the time (unlike me). There follows a fruity bitterness which travelled nicely into sweet crystal malt and with malted barley into the aftertaste. Mmm… very nice. Perfect for cultivating your new 'tache! Or donating without facial hair, like I have done! happy Movember!
3 November 2017
These Tic Tac Mixers in Coconut Pineapple are the latest new flavour from Tic Tac available in the UK. Recently we have been quite lucky with the newly released flavours, and these too sounded like a fantastic classic combination. They are part of the flavour change range, where the sweet is supposed to melt from one taste to another. I tried my first Tic Tac and was pleased with the initial coconut taste. They were sweet and creamy, and the coconut worked rather well. I continued to suck the sweet and a strange acidic almost menthol like flavour appeared, and it dawned on me that this was supposed to be the pineapple element. This element of the flavour didn’t work for me and I thought it tasted a bit chemical and not very fruity. To give a fair review I tried a few more, at once, and this time when the creamy coconut flavour started to change I chewed instead. This did give off a slightly more pineapple flavour, but there was still that acidic bite locked in.
In principal these Tic Tac Mixers in Coconut Pineapple should be a winner for me, as I do like those flavours. As much as the coconut was a success I was left thinking the pineapple needed more work.
2 November 2017
I was desperate for a non bread lunch time snack at Milton Keynes station and spotted these on the till end. As it contains many of my favourite things I suspected I was on to a winner - blueberries, almonds and dark choc is a great start!
As we waited for the train I fiddled with the packet and realised that the insides were being well protected by a card tray and it wasn’t as big as I’d hoped. And then I opened it to find four bites!
This was pretty disappointing, yet oddly photogenic. At 25p per square this better be pretty good.
And shockingly it was! It’s just nutty enough, just fruity enough, and the dip of dark chocolate was great. All the flavours were present and it was actually filling enough to satisfy that 11 o clock craving.
From my initial doubts at the size to price ratio and luxury of the whole thing to the eating experience it went from’this will do’ to ‘ I need more’ in a very short time span. There are multiple other flavours, and hopefully a few special offers and multipacks to have. as a way to get a snack that isn’t just chocolate and fruit and nuts this is a great bridge between real whole foods and brand name bars.
An unexpected delight.
1 November 2017
I've eaten plenty of biscuits in my time, as some may agree looking at the size of my tummy, but I don't think I've ever had lemon drizzle biscuits! Sure, I've had plenty of lemon drizzle cakes with my afternoon tea in my time (yes… size of tummy), but not a biscuit variety. It sounded pretty innovative when I saw them on the shelf in the local supermarket.
These Lemon Drizzle Melts biscuits were produced by Borders, the "Family Biscuitiers" since 1984. There were ten finely crafted well rounded biscuits on show in the posh transparent box. The top of each biscuit was covered in a candied lemon peel drizzle. These biscuits sounded perfect to eat with my cup of tea in the afternoon.
Each biscuit had an instant melt in the mouth lightly crunchy texture, with a buttery, wheaty, sweet flavour followed by a zesty zing from the candied lemon peel drizzle on the top. These biscuits are heaven in a box. Forget the lemon drizzle cake with your afternoon tea, these are certainly a lip smacking sensation. Very tasty, very moreish, and not at all easy to share.
Information on the packet;
The 150g packet has 75 calories per biscuit, with 4.8g of fat, 3.2g of sugar, and 0.1g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.