13 December 2017

Cheestrings Snack Mix (@Morrisons) By @SpectreUK

I’ve never eaten Cheestrings before, so this was a new experience. That’s partly what this blog is all about. Trying new experiences and sharing them with others who may wish to do the same. First of all I’d like to point out that’s not how “cheese strings” should really be spelt. That aside these aren’t cheese strings anyway. On opening the packet they were small blocks of dark and light yellow cheese rather than strings. These I supposed may be akin to Red Leicester and Cheddar Cheese. In the packet there were also varying shapes of salted crackers, mini blobs of digestive biscuits, chocolate coated raisins and dried sweetened cherry strings.

The cherry strings really were strings as opposed to the cheese blocks which were as previously mentioned: blocks! I mean really, if you’re going to call a product Cheestrings (however badly spelt) I would have thought the manufacturer would have felt obligated to put ‘cheese strings’ within the product. Anyway, I thought Cinabar was joking about the cherry strings when I “liberated” this packet of Cheestrings (Cheesblocks) Snack Mix off her, but there they were. I do hate cherries, so I suppose that’s my fault for jumping over the hedge before looking at what’s on the other side. The cardboard sleeve covering the snack seemed to imply a suggested way to eat the Cheestrings Snack Mix would be to mix them up stacked on each salted cracker. Phah! What madness is that…? I’d prefer to try all components separately if you don’t mind!
On taste the darker yellow cheese tasted just like Red Leicester to the point that I figured it probably was Red Leicester. That’s a boon, because I do love Red Leicester Cheese, and as an aside I strongly believe it’s the best cheese for ‘cheese on toast’ (you can leave comments below if you disagree)! The lighter yellow cheese tasted just like Cheddar Cheese so I suspect it probably was. I do also love Cheddar Cheese, but Red Leicester is still better on cheese on toast in my opinion. The salted crackers tasted just like salted crackers, mainly with the salt towards the aftertaste. They complemented the cheeses very well and were obviously edible with or without, but I tried them with the blocks of cheese until I ran out of crackers. That’s the type of rock ‘n roll lifestyle I lead! Part of me wanted to try the cherry strings, blobs of digestives and chocolate coated raisins whilst eating the cheese and crackers, but that would be just as insane as eating them before. I suppose there are two types of people; those that like jelly and ice cream in one bowl, and those that prefer them in separate bowls. I’m one of those rare individuals who like them in separate bowls. Obviously in my half-crazed mind these extra Snack Mix morsels were still meant as pudding, even with the quite frankly ‘out there’ serving suggestion on the cardboard sleeve.
The digestive blobs were crunchy and sweet and there were plenty of them. In my strange mood I ate all of those next. I then started on the sweet cherry strings. There were far too many of these little red strings in the packet for my liking, however eaten piecemeal and straight after the sweet biscuit blobs they actually tasted okay(ish). Last but not least were the four milk chocolate coated raisins. They were easy to count because I’d eaten everything else. Perfect pudding material if you like that sort of thing. Personally I prefer chocolate coated fudge, but these chocolate coated raisins were actually very nice instead.
I’d certainly recommend Cheestrings (Cheesblocks) Snack Mix. They’re like a lunchbox on its own for kids that would fit in a larger greedier person’s lunchbox (like me) who may wish to complement a sandwich and (crisps, tomato, apple, banana, yoghurt and chocolate bar) whatever else they may have for lunch.
Information on the cardboard sleeve;
The 50g packet contained 189 calories, with 8.3g of fat, 8.4g of sugar and 0.7g of sugar. There were 42% cheese pieces, 16% of salted crackers, and 42% of sweet mix with varying portions of digestive pieces (blobs), dried sweetened cherry strings (devil’s fingers), and milk chocolate coated raisins (that looked a little like a rabbit had been caught short whilst walking over an open packet). Please see photograph for extensive ingredients.

12 December 2017

White Chocolate Oreos (@Morrisons) By @Cinabar

I’m following on slightly accidentally from yesterday with another black and white looking product. Yesterday it was the Limited Edition Black and White Lion bar, this time it is in the form of dark Oreos coated in white chocolate. Now I’ll be honest I’ve had dipped Oreos before but it was more than five years ago, and so I think this still counts as a Foodstuff Find, particularly as I’ve been looking for another box for all that time! Spoiler alert, I’ve already added another two boxes of these bad boys to next weeks grocery order.
So these White Chocolate Oreos appeared under the new products listing on the Morrisons website, and the snowman on the pack leads me to believe these are just a Christmas special. There wasn't a milk chocolate version available, just the white chocolate. They are in sealed packs of two, which make them perfect for lunch boxes and it keeps the others fresh if you are having a couple of them for treats.

The white chocolate on the Oreo was nice and thick and the mix of texture from chocolate to biscuit to filling stuff was a joy to munch on. I do like Oreos but the addition of the sweet creamy white chocolate just makes these biscuit perfection. I have a sweet tooth and loved the extra sweetness, and the mix of flavours and textures. Sure they are quite rich, but balance them out with a cup of coffee and just let those sweet flavours sweep over the palette. Did I mention I was stocking up? I really wish these were a permanent edition to the Oreo range, they are by far my favourite Oreo edition.

11 December 2017

Black & White Lion Bar (Newsagent) By @Cinabar

I was recently on a trip to Cardiff, and on a search for some Welsh beer for Spectre we ended up looking in a large newsagent. Finding Welsh beer in Wales was not as easy as you might have thought, a branch of Tesco didn’t have any for example. We did finally find Cardiff beer in a large newsagent, and obviously I had a look at the chocolate available there too. Bars of chocolate for me I mean, for the train journey home. Anyway I found these Limited Edition Black and White Lion bars, and then forgot about them until today. Pretty shocking I know, but I was super excited when I rediscovered them again in the cupboard!
So White Lion bars are fairly easy to find, usually in bargain shops or import shops, but this is the first time I’ve seen a Black and White Lion bar. The Lion bar had dark chocolate wafers, dark chocolate and a coating of white chocolate on top, as well as all the usual crispie pieces and caramel.

Firstly I chopped a bit off to have a look at the promised black and white colour scheme, I wasn’t disappointed, I thought the filling looked very dramatic. I bit in and found I loved the flavour of the bar. This chocolate wasn’t as sweet as the white chocolate version, and although the white chocolate added contrast the dark chocolate added a balance to the cocoa and made this very enjoyable. The caramel seemed more predominant too and had a deeper flavour, which I also really loved. I’d forgotten just how nice Lion bars are, and how satisfying all those wonderful mix of textures were to munch on. I now have to find a local stockist of this limited edition bar, which I’m sure will be easier than trying to find Welsh beer in Wales!

10 December 2017

Twin Peaks (@Poundland) by @NLi10 #TwinPeaks

Nope - it's too snowy to go to work today, even for bloggers.  Here is a snow owl instead.  Merry Christmas.

Yup - that's in my kitchen.  It's far too cold to go outside! The carrot was too big to use as a nose, the pasta looked like a beak. The artisan bespoke organic peppercorns for eyes compliment it well.  It's in a jus of melted snow owl because the heating is on - I'm not crazy!  

What do you mean that isn't sufficient for a lazy Sunday submission? Look at his cute scarf!!


Good job I went to Poundland on Friday before I got snowed in.  They had packs of Knoppers for a pound - you don't know how happy that made me.

And these:

Apparently there was a little controversy with these the first time these were announced.  They agreed to use a different colour packaging and to still sell Toblerones in store (in fact the originals were much easier to find in store than these were) and apparently they only made 500,000 - and I bought three.  After all - chocolate that there has been a legal row over must be good!  I only found out it existed because regular folks were talking about it on FaceBook.  I felt behind the snack curve and had to rectify it immediately.

So what's the deal?  Toblerone announced it'd change its shape to make it more convenient to eat, people who rarely buy a Toblerone went mad because you'd technically get a bit less chocolate, Poundland announced a version similar to the original size in similar packaging - and chaos ensued.  But! Now we have a frankly brilliant colour scheme (looks like a 70s F1 team) and two peaks and a back-story.

It looks very pretty.  You can tell why the originals come in a cardboard box - all the bars had snapped half way so I was convinced that it came in two bits.

It's still an absolute pain to eat though.  I like Toblerone most in the individually wrapped chunks or tiny bars.  Even this Fauxblerone is an awkward beast to deal with unless you snap it into the smallest bits you can.  It is a more natural 4 bite experience though as the dip between the hills allows you to bite after the first snap.

It contains all the similar alpine bitty bits that you'd expect (maybe a bit smaller) and the chocolate is a little less milky than the normal one I think, which is nice.  Everyone knows black Toblerone with it's Dark chocolate is the best one in the selection box.  When Poundland do that I'll be stocking up again.

As for this - it's a success.  It got me to do some Christmas shopping in PoundLand and find a few things that I'd not expected to see there.  The bar is not disappointing - it's chunky, chocolatey and very good value at a pound.  The packaging is funky enough that you could give this for Christmas as a stocking filler (especially if the recipient knows the back-story) and the person opening it would be happy.  Although they would know it cost a pound the limited nature adds to the appeal.

If you like the big brand version you should certainly make a trip in to find them - they are by the tills - but do have a wonder round while you are there as you'll probably find some hidden gems like I did too.

9 December 2017

Old Ford Export Stout (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

It's unusual to be snowed in for a few days here in middle England in winter time. Of course it snows in Scotland and often on the peaks of Wales, but I don't recall seeing any snow last year and not much for a few years before that. Yet here we are snowed in for a weekend and mostly everything has ground to a halt. There's traffic chaos with the odd folk here and there trying to struggle through the meagre amount of snow we've already had, and I'm sure they will be pleased to hear that there is more snow on the way over the next few days. Searching through my beer shelf I found this rather fetching Old Ford Export Stout, which was produced by the Redchurch Brewery down in Harlow. I do like a good stout this time of year. They can be quite filling and warming on their own, and at 7.5% volume I could tell this stout should be able to warm up chilled fingers and heart from the icy cold outside.

On opening this Old Ford Export Stout I could smell a decent aroma of herbal hops backed up by the malted barley, followed by a sweetness and touch of coffee to finish from the roasted chocolate malt. That was a gloriously deep smell from a jet black stout that promised to be full of flavour to coat my thoroughly chilled old bones. On pouring there was a cheerful muddy grey head. On taste the herbal hops sprang to the fore, only to be quickly enveloped by a heavy soaking black wave of roasted chocolate malt that released a coffee taste, followed again by a slightly sweet and rich dark chocolate malt. As this second soaking of dark chocolate flavour receded back into the muddy grey topped black sea of my glass beer mug, the aftertaste brought back the roasted coffee which smoothed out slowly on the beach of my tongue. Old Ford Export Stout was gloriously flavoursome and warming to my cockles. I'm glad they kept a few of these back, as it would have been a crime to export them all!

8 December 2017

Degusta Box November 2017 (@DegustaboxUK) By @Cinabar

We had another fabulous package delivered from the lovley folks at Degusta. Basically they send a lovely selection of new goodies each month, which are a mix of sweet and savoury, and a great place to find new items. As you can see from the picture above the box is jam packed with goodies, and I always look forward to digging in and seeing what has been sent.
First up we had some snacks, always a favourite section for the team here at Foodstuff Finds. There is some popcorn from Proper Corn, which is the sweet flavour, and will be perfect for a movie night in. The Planters fruit, chocolate and peanut mix will come in very handy for Christmas time nibbles.

In the savoury section we have some Kallo stock pots, perfect for winter stews. Rio tuna and Filippo Berio pesto, which will work well together and make a nice salad. There is also a jar of English Provender Red Onion chutney, which will be debuting on our Christmas cheese board this year.

Also in the Filippo Berio range are some Crostini, they would be nice in a salad too, but are more likely to be used as croutons in a hearty soup. The Ryvita Rye Cakes are a new product and are lovely smothered in cream cheese.

My other favourite section is the sweet tooth goodies. Picnic Bites and the Jelly Beans will be fab to share while watching the TV and catching up on some box sets.

There are always some drinks included in the Degusta boxes, and there is a bottle of apple fizz from Dalstons which I'm looking forward to trying. I love cucumber in drinks, and so can't wait to taste the latest drink from Alo, which has it added.

Finally is the breakfast section. The new Weetabix edition contains Apple and Raisin, and will be a good start to the day. I can couple it with a mug of this divine sounding Taylors of Harrogate coffee, Cacao Superior which promises rich sweet tones to get the day started.

7 December 2017

Deluxe Christmas Crisps - Gin? Goats Cheese? (Lidl) by @NLi10

As Cinnabar has shown, Marks & Spencer are the kings of odd Chrismas Crisps, but it seems that the Euro supermarkets are keen to catch up. Today we look at the offerings that Lidl have brought to the table.  The vegetarian friendly Goats Cheese & Apple Chutney, and the carnivore friendly Gin & Juniper Roast Pork.

Disclaimer time - I'm not going to eat the goats cheese crisps.  Originally I was tempted to try one for the review purposes but the smell of the goats cheese was just overpowering.  That said the two people who have tried them that love goats cheese were fairly protective of them anyway and happy to eat a bag per sitting if allowed.  They were not particularly christmassy (they have stars on the bag?) but I don't think anyone would care - and I don't think non cheese fans would accidentally pick some of these up of the buffet table - they have an aura!

The Gin & Juniper Roast Pork were far more my style, but the gin really wasn't a prominent flavour and these are essentially a large bag of roast pork crisps.  That said they are of a good quality (a notch below Kettle maybe) and the flavour is an interesting one that keeps you dipping into the bag.  Most people's 'ooh gin' response resulted in a slight air of disappointment around them though and the bag didn't get demolished in the break room in a single lunch time as I'd anticipated.  This was good for me as I'm happy to finish the bag.  Maybe not as big a hit as the goat & apple, but if you left the bag next to them you can guarantee every one who liked meat & gin at your party would try them.  And question where the gin was.

There are a few more flavours in the range too, and as they are all quite reasonably priced we may try more (that said I already have instructions to pick up more of the goats...).

6 December 2017

Cacao Superior Columbia Coffee (@DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

I used to think that coffee was coffee, right? Wrong… There are so many ways to make a cup of coffee. Where I can’t stand instant coffee, I do love cafetiere coffee. I have a couple now and again at work in the afternoon to wake myself up a bit. This is mainly because my cafetiere holds two mugs, and there are some pretty boring meetings in my office. After my big packed lunch I often need all the help I can get to stay awake. This Cacao Superior Columbia by Taylors of Harrogate should help. Highly accredited by HRH the Prince of Wales; Taylors have the rainforest Alliance Certification, which helps to protect the local farming landscape and the environment in general, whilst ensuring sustainable livelihoods, as well as supporting local communities.
This Cacao Superior Columbia is sported on the packet as tasting of “rich gooey chocolate, deep cocoa and roasted brown sugar, with floral high notes, and a burst of blackcurrant and apple”, “Surely not?” I hear you ask… Well, there’s only one way to find out… Measuring spoon in one hand and ‘two-mug’ cafetiere in the other, I headed towards the trusty work kitchen kettle.
On measuring out a decent wodge of ground coffee into my cafetiere I was pretty taken aback by how strong the coffee smelt. Yes there were hints of dark chocolate and also a little dark fruitiness in the aroma. I was more than a little apprehensive though, whereas I like my ales bitter I prefer my coffee smooth. This ground coffee smelt like you could remove paint with it. Having said that, when poured over milk in my work mug this coffee smelt like a dark brown sea of tranquillity. I couldn’t tell you that it smelt like chocolate or fruit once brewed and sitting on my desk next to me. It just smelt like a really good mug of coffee.
On taste there was sweetness to start with (no, I didn’t add sugar), but there was depth to this flavoursome coffee. The subtle sweet taste moulded into something akin to dark chocolate and coffee. As my tastebuds plunged deeper into the depths of my coffee session, there was a fruitiness similar to dark fruits such as blackcurrant mixed with the chocolate and mainly coffee and perhaps comparable to a little toffee apple into the aftertaste, all with a heavy dose of coffee on top of course, but hey… I’m no coffee connoisseur, but I did enjoy both mugs. I’m just a guy trying to stay awake at work!
Information on the packet;
227g of ground coffee. Ingredients include; 100% Arabica coffee.

5 December 2017

Gu Mango Mousse Fusions (Waitrose) By @Cinabar

I’m not sure if I have mentioned it on here, I probably have somewhere, but my favourite fruit is mango. I cheat and buy the pre-diced stuff, because despite several youtube clips of people “hedgehog” cutting them, I have failed. I got covered in juice, it was beyond my skillset.
Anyway there is a new dessert from Gu, and it contains mango, so yep, I bought them. The pack has two pots stacked together and wrapped in cardboard, for uber poshness. I had to pull a strip ton the back to rip it opened and release the two pots.

The pots are very inviting, and even have cute slogans written on the lids. There are two layers inside and the top one hadn’t travelled well. The fruity topping wasn’t evenly spread despite sitting in the fridge the right way up for a few days. I put this down to their journey in the back of the car not being kind to them.
The topping is predominantly passion fruit flavour and is quite a sharp and tangy taste. It was countered by a rather thick a luxurious mango mouse. The flavour was smooth and creamy, and the two tastes went perfectly well together. I loved these pots of tropical fruity goodness, and will be buying some more.

4 December 2017

Tetley Super Squash - Boost with Vitamin B6 (Waitrose) By @Cinabar

I’m in two minds about added vitamins to products. I’m aware that if you eat a healthy enough diet you don’t need additional added vitamins. However it is difficult to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every single day, and really I think that is supposed to be the minimum, so part of me is happy to take a little extra in any form.
Leaving the vitamin part aside I will focus on the squash side. This drink is made up on a 1 to 5 ratio with water, which meant I had to add more than usual to the glass before topping it up with water. I guess I have got used to the more concentrated drinks. The liquid in the glass went a pleasing pale pink and I gave it the taste test. I loved the berry flavour, it tasted very summery and there were good hints of all the seasonal berries. It was sweet and easy to drink. I found myself having a couple of glasses per day, and although I couldn’t swear that there has been the promised reduction in tiredness, I can say I’ve enjoyed drinking it so much I want to buy another bottle. Any vitamin boost can only be a bonus.

3 December 2017

Expensive Imported American Cereals (Sainsbury's) by @NLi10

On a recent trip to Sainsbury's I decided to 'treat' myself and get two boxes of import American cereal totalling nearly £8.  This feels like a rip-off, but for the nostalgia and the reminder of just how good British versions of cereals are it's worth a go.

First up we have Lucky Charms - we've reviewed these loads of times, but from the original £10 boxes in Selfridges to the £5 boxes on the high street in Sainsbury's it's actually becoming more reasonable. Especially as your decent size Kelloggs box can cost £3.  If you are old enough to remember the fact that (like that Mariah Carey Christmas song) the cereal was really overlooked when it was actually available in the UK originally, and it's mythical status has only developed since then you'll probably still think it's a little overpriced.

The main item for the review really is s'mores crunch which is based around marshmallow again, but with some crunchy bits added in.

It's clearly a cereal for lumberjacks.

And if you enjoy the always cheap to produce maze (spoiler - right, right, left, left, right) then Buddy has you covered.  The art does suggest the you should be setting the cereal on fire to toast the tiny marshmallows (serving suggestion) 

With almond milk this is pleasant enough, as you'd expect its a little sweeter than the typical UK cereal and it doesn't seem to fill you up as much as you'd expect.  Not one that is likely to take off then... except...

This is the shelf in an import sweets and general snacks shop and they have Lucky Charms and S'Mores Crunch - and Fluff! And all of them are a couple of pounds more than in the Supermarkets or in Mr Simms family sweet shop chain.  I don't know whether to be impressed at the arbitrage opportunities of picking up things from the cash and carry and selling them as a premium Xmas gift instead of with the weekly shop.  They also had a few of the odder Pop Tarts (but being less than 100m from the Cereal Killers Cafe I'm not sure these will fly off the shelves).

That said - £7 for a box of Lucky Charms is still cheaper than when Selfridges started stocking them many (marshmallow) moons ago.

2 December 2017

Mojo Pale Ale - Beer (Sainsbury’s) By @SpectreUK

I've recently lost my mojo at work. I was working really hard, got on with everyone and really enjoyed what I was doing. I've lost it before a few years back after a particularly harrowing experience healthwise and that time I ended up with a midlife crisis and another stint at university. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed that too, but when your hair is the greyist by far and all the other students are more or less half your age, the jibes about being the oldest student wear a little thin after a while.

My work is another matter, I recently had an operation on my knee which was a two year old injury from a leg press (of all things… trying to stay young and fit!). My boss fell out with me as he didn't want me to be off sick, and the guy I had been trying to mentor for the last two years had become obsessed over a bullying case. I tried to help him out with the best advice I had, but it wasn't enough and now he's ignoring me too! So, I've lost my mojo. Mojo meaning magic power or influence. Time to look for a new change after Christmas, not another one trying to roll back the years, just a new challenge. The reason I'm telling you this, not to complain I guess, as we all have our own problems, just the name of the beer I've got in my hand right now and my own frame of mind.

There's a colourful explosion of a magical power on the front of the bottle. On opening, this 5.5% volume pale ale has fruity citrus undertones in its aroma. There's the smell of peach and perhaps a little pear from the hops added in the brewing. There is a refreshing golden colour to the ale on pouring. Tastewise the fruity almost peach flavoured hops spring to the fore mixed with the malted barley, followed by a sweetness, probably from crystal malt and the pale malt combined moving into the aftertaste. Very nice indeed. If you've recently lost your mojo, I'd recommend clearing your head and perhaps starting the New Year with a change of your own. I hope it's for the better. Cheers! ;-)

1 December 2017

Lobster & Prawn Thermidor Sandwich (M&S) By @Cinabar

I have to admit that Marks and Spencer did have the traditional turkey sandwiches available and my hand did hover over one of them, but then I spotted this Lobster and Prawn Thermidor Sandwich. Firstly I could’t get over just how posh the sandwich sounded and secondly, as a seafood lover, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.
The sandwich isn’t too big, but it is packed with plenty of filling. I could see lots of creamy sauce and salad stacked up within it. The bread is a brioche bun which gives it a firm but satisfying texture. The lettuce has  a lovely sharp acidic taste, that counters the seafood perfectly. There is lots of texture from the prawns and the lobster, and the seafood tastes wonderfully fresh too. I really enjoyed the sauce it was creamy, but the brandy within it added a good warming element that held all the elements together. This is far from being a traditional Christmas sandwich but I still loved it, and it is the sandwich I will miss the most when they are reducing the menu in the new year, for the dieters.
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