20 February 2018
Nestle Les Recettes De L’Atelier - Cranberries, Almonds & Hazelnuts Chocolate (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar
I find it is difficult to not be excited when I find a new chocolate bar in the supermarket. That is probably where this blog comes from. When I spotted this new chocolate bar in Morrisons I did think for a minute that it was an imported bar, as the title of the bar is in French; Les Recettes De L’Atelier. Having using google translate, because my French GCSE was more than a few years ago, I discovered that this meant “Recipes from the Workshop”, which does make it sound like a selection of fun experimental flavours. Indeed this particular mix is of Cranberries, Almonds and Hazelnuts in milk chocolate and it sounded very appealing. As for the foreign connection, the address on the back of the bar is for York, but perhaps the concept still came from abroad.
The chocolate is shaped into long pieces all packed with fruit and nuts, so much so they deliberately peep through on the centre of each piece.As someone who loves a mix of textures, this bar worked very well for me. The almonds and hazelnuts are firm and crunchy, and the cranberries sticky and soft. The milk chocolate that surrounds them is very lush, it is very creamy, and the chocolate has a lovely thick melt. The taste is sweet and it is very rich. The cranberries add a little tartness to the taste, and nuts add their woody goodness. I loved this chocolate, it was like a very posh fruit and nut, but it was the sumptuously sweet chocolate that held it all together. I can’t wait to see what other bars get released under Nestle’s new Les Recettes De L’Atelier range.
19 February 2018
February has been a cold month, the kind where you get home and put the fire on to warm up. When I was out shopping I was looking for somewhere to warm up there too and thought I’d see if there was anything new in Starbucks. I was excited to see they had a new drink, Molten Hot Chocolate, and knew that would be perfect to warm me up.
The drink came topped not with regular cream, but with mocha infused whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. It looked like just what I needed. I gave a the drip a sip and found the hot chocolate was remarkably soothing. The flavour tasted like a proper hot chocolate, full of flavour and very rich. The cream added an nice mocha taste, which contrasted well with the drink. To be honest the hot chocolate had so much flavour it felt like dessert in a mug. Despite this when I finished my Molten Hot Chocolate I found loads of chocolate sludge at the bottom of my cup. Now if this had been mixed in I suspect the drink would have been even more intense if that is possible. I’ll have to go back for a second cup, just so I can test the theory of the completely stirred version!
18 February 2018
Tenerife has sweet shops because tourists like eating sweets, and tourists like taking sweets home as presents. All of these shops were really quite dull and with the hotel buffet being the source of 2/3 of all my meals I was worried that I'd have nothing to review.
Then we spotted this unassuming place. We almost didn't bother going in!
The only clue that it's a bit out of the ordinary was a sign outside that had American and English oddities on it.
Inside the shelves are sparcely stocked but with some of the best and most exciting things from around the world. I ignored the wide selection of English stuff and got just over 5 Euro of wonderful things to try.
Milky Way Midnight Dark - USA
This is a fascinating little idea. In Britain Milky Way is marketed as a treat for 4-8 year olds that won't stop them eating their dinner too. This is a MilkyWay for the Dads.
The chocolate on the outside is devilishly dark, and is closer to a Green & Blacks than any American chocolate should dare. The inner is fluffy and white and far too sweet for my English taste-buds, but with the dark choc surrounding it - it gets away with it. The caramel, which could easily have been a throw away layer, is luxurious and slightly burnt.
One of the nicest American bars I've ever had the pleasure to try and even at around 2 Euros for the import version actually worth the money. If I'd not waited til we got back to try these I'd have picked up a spare for you. As it is, you'll have to find your own.
Alpella Wafer Hills - Turkey
Looking to make the most out of my Euros and to grab as many things that I'd never see again I went for this bar, which appears to be in the same family as the Kinder Bueno. It's twice as long as the Milky Way, but at 42g about the same weight. I think it was about a Euro.
Pleasingly it's stolen the Cadbury's metallic purple colour scheme - I always said someone should paint a F1 car in those colours.
Interestingly it has the import details printed on the wrapper which suggests these are designed for the Spanish.
The wafer is a bit cheap and doesn't snap as nicely as I'd like, and the Nutella style paste in the lumps isn't flavoured quite as I'd expected but it's still quite a compelling snack. The many different ways to eat a bump at a time means it dissapears quite fast, and unlike the Milky Way is a very light bite. More like a wafer bar in the shape of a Bueno then, and tasting more like the cheaper cremes of those I can understand why it's much better value. Enjoyable, but not that memorable.
17 February 2018
It's no secret that I make a beeline for the soft centres in any box of chocolates. Cinabar and her mom have given up losing so many soft centred chocolates that they now buy me boxes of chocolates solely made up of soft centres. That's a great idea, but I still steal their's as well!
Here is a novel idea from the Black Sheep Brewery which is to make a soft centred stout, so to speak. This is a chocolate and orange stout. Chocolate orange is one of my all time favourite soft centres, next to strawberry of course. I've tried orange peel beers before and many many chocolate stouts and porters in my time, but I don't think I've tried a chocolate orange stout before.
This stout was brewed with real dark chocolate and orange peel, as well as roasted dark malts and Cascade Hops for added citrus zest. It sounds like a pudding beer to me, one that could be served after dinner all year round, rather than a spiced chocolate and orange stout which could be considered a winter warmer.
On opening, this 6.1% volume jet black stout certainly packed a fulsome aroma of dark chocolate and roasted malts, with a little orange suggestion at the back of the smell. On taste the roasted dark malts sprang to the fore merging after a time with velvety dark chocolate and then a touch of citrus bitterness from the hops, and a little orange zest into the aftertaste. I must admit with the heavy flavours of dark malts and some dark chocolate and then the kick of alcohol at the end of the flavours, the orange peel was a little lost on me. The flavours from the roasted dark malts dominated this stout, which was no bad thing. Mixed with the dark chocolate and a little suggestion of citrus hop and orange peel at the back of the flavour made this an ideal pudding beer for those that love their stouts flavoursome and warming, for this is a winter warmer with a cheeky soft centred end.
16 February 2018
There is a Marks and Spencer food hall in Birmingham New Street station that I pass through on my commute. I only popped in there for a loaf of bread, but while I was in the queue a “new label” caught my eye, and more than that a mention of peanut butter. I soon found myself with two items at the checkout, bread and Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Caramel Chunkies.
The bag is a bright orange in colour and metallic, which does make it stand out. There is a sticker for re-sealing, but once I opened up the bag I realised there was only nine chocolates, and as I was sharing soon realised there wouldn’t be anything to reseal in there. The chocolates certainly look chunky and though they do need two bites to eat, they are quite light and fluffy in texture. There is some crunch from nutty bits, but ultimately they are soft and easy to eat. This means there is another reason there won’t be anything to reseal, you eat one and you immediately want another. I did love the flavour though, there is lots of nut taste, a hint of salt and loads of creamy milk chocolate. The added layer of caramel gives these a nice gooey feel, dded sweetness, and a layer of luxury. These are a bit too moreish, have a nice mix of textures and combine some of my favourite flavours. I really should have picked up two bags!
15 February 2018
Whilst on holiday we went up the volcano known as Mt. Teide in Tenerife. The reason there are no clouds is because we are at 3,500 meters and above them! As this is technically a Spanish colony the mountain is the highest point in Spain.
Which makes this vending machine in the 'service building' the highest vending machine in Spain!
Now - I'll often do vending machine round ups on holiday, but those in Tenerife were mostly in the hotel and very bland (which was missing a trick really as Germany loves a good vending machine and there were lots of German couples in North Tenerife).
This one is frankly worse. I suspect that my people (the English) have been here and colonised the vending machine as it's all standard high-street fare. Some Cadbury's, some Kinder, and some Mars - it's like the greatest hits of WH Smiths. I feel they are missing out here - in the low oxygen atmosphere I'd have loved to have tried some trek food, or something a little volcano themed.
And don't get me started on the prices! Sure you have to bring these up in the Cable Car (which was about 50 Euro for two!) but 3 Euro for a 50p Twix is a little shameful.
I resorted to the food and drink I'd naturally bought with me. They should have a few good Euro brands in here to balance it out so that the holiday makers are forced out of their comfort zone for a little while.
(but that's non of my business...)
14 February 2018
We had snow yesterday and now buckets of freezing rain. "Nothing unusual there" I'm sure you are thinking, however, I do need something to warm me up. I was supposed to go swimming yesterday, but couldn't be bothered because of the snow. Not because I'm worried about driving, as now we live much closer to the gym. It's just when you look outside first thing in the morning and think "nah!" I had the same feeling this morning looking at the freezing rain and stayed in bed all morning again. It's good to have a few days off work and laze around, but I need some exercise, mainly so I can have guilt free beer, pork scratchings and a box of biscuits later.
This Fusian Sticky Hoisin Duck Noodles is supposed to take a few minutes to prepare and microwave in a bowl. As you can see from the photograph, there were three sachets. They needed to be mixed into freshly boiled water first, heated for a quick thirty seconds (as we have a 1000 watt microwave) and then the noodles broke into the bowl for reheating for another two and a half minutes. I found the heating times on the packet a little confusing, as they were for a 850 watt microwave, so tried to cut them down a little to suit. Even checking after two minutes the soup had boiled over in the microwave, so my quick lunch was turning into a longer one for having to clean the microwave afterwards.
After a quick stir this noodle soup did look pretty sticky. In fact, it would probably stick to the ceiling if I could get away with chucking it up there… It smelt of Hoisin Duck, even if the ingredients didn't have any in them. sadly I couldn't even get near the soup for a good while. The heating instructions seemed grossly inaccurate, as even after two minutes of heating this soup it had not only boiled over (still miffed I have to clean the microwave), but was also furnace hot. I found some bread for dipping instead before the noodles soaked up all the soup. That didn't work, as by the time I'd taken to type these sentences I'd lost the edge for dipping the bread. What taste I could get out of my now slow Fusian Sticky Hoisin Duck Noodles soup meal, was lost as it didn't stick to the bread. Whilst I waited I ate the bread, which was fluffy, but not very interesting without butter, but hey, when you've got nothing else to write about…
… Seriously, it seems like half an hour has passed and these noodles just won't cool. I just burnt my tongue on them. Asides the impossible heat they do taste good, just like Hoisin Duck sauce with a dominance of onion, ginger and coriander, and with all the other spices and herbs mixed in with the noodles. I'd advise not going any where near this meal for a good long while as it seems quite dangerous to delicate mouths! Short work lunches are a no no. It sure is sticky now… In fact this meal puts the 'sticky' back into Fusian Sticky Hoisin Duck Noodles. Bang goes my quick meal before swimming though. I kept waiting five minutes at a time, stirring to let some heat out and burning my tongue some more. It probably took a good hour or more to eat it safely and I didn't have time to go swimming.
Information on the packet;
The 1/2 packet contains 273 calories, with 11.6g of fat, 4.4g of sugar, and 1.2g of salt. For ingredients please see photograph.
13 February 2018
As I bought this Limited Edition Haagen Dazs Cherry Blossom ice cream online I didn’t fully appreciate just how pretty the tub was until it arrived. The tub has been decorated in a pretty pink and floral pattern, making it a shame to have to store it away in the freezer. The design was most appreciated during the 15 minutes it had to warm up before serving; it recommends taking the ice cream out of the freezer for that long prior to serving to let it soften up.
Once open I could see that the ice cream was rippled, and I had a look on the tub to see that it was a cherry blossom flavour ice cream with a cherry ripple. I gave the ice cream a taste test and couldn’t make my mind up about. What I tasted was a very delicate flavour. It was mostly creamy, with a lightly flavoured cherry sauce, if I really concentrated on the flavours I could pick up the gentlest hint of a floral flavour, making up the cherry blossom element. I liked the delicate flavour with the cream but felt this ice cream was very mild and ended up being more a hint of cherry than even a hint of cherry blossom. So a nice refreshing mild ice cream, but I thought it doesn’t do quite was promised on the very pretty tub.
12 February 2018
I think my favourite flavours of crisps are the meaty ones, and in that category chicken tops my list. Obviously I’m well acquainted with Walkers Roast Chicken crisps, but these new ones sounded like they could be a real winner. I adore hot chicken wings and the idea of this flavour on crisps really excited me. Now these are in a new range for Walkers called Max Strong so I was expecting a kick, but the hotness level from the chilli on the back is labelled as medium so I assumed an intense flavour, but reasonable heat.
We shared out the bag of crisps one lunchtime with sandwiches, and some cheese and pickle, which is a favourite lunch to be honest.
The crisps are thick cut and have deep ridges so there is plenty of seasoning and you can see it has gathered in the gaps. I gave one a try, and was impressed by the solid crunch. The flavour of these is really stunning, the chicken taste is almost juicy, the flavour is spot on and wonderfully meaty. The seasoning is quite epic, and the paprika is subtle but the chilli provides a hefty wallop to the tastebuds. My mouth had quite a hit from the flames and I found myself reaching for the cheese and a drink to help dull the burn. I still loved them though, hot spicy chicken, these really were fab crisps. What scares me though is that I bought one other flavour in the range, Jalapeño and Cheese, and those ones are labelled hot, so heaven help me! The medium heat Max Strong Hot Chicken Wings Crisps were quite close to my tolerance levels!
11 February 2018
We went to Tenerife recently, and went for a wander along one of the many black inhospitable beaches.
We found a nice little cafe that served overpriced bottles of Pepsi with ice and lemon.
I got good value though because the tiny glass made me look like a giant!
One thing I did notice though was that the Pepsi tasted different, and i just put this down to the ice and lemon. My partner however noticed the nice little logo on the bottle - this is local Pepsi!
Now I'm sure the Pepsi concentrate is made in a top secret factory in America somewhere, but I'd not appreciated that a small set of islands like the Canaries would have their own regional variation too.
We can prove that it's not exact by looking at the calories.
It's more fattening than English Pepsi? No wonder I put on weight while we were away! (well maybe it was the all you can eat buffets in the hotel).
I wonder if these are just due to the necessities of local production (availability of sugars?) or tuning to local flavours? When I'm in Spanish countries I live on Aguarius anyway (which is bade by the bad guys - Coke) so don't tend to see the bottles. Maybe the Tenerife one is purely designed to be used as a mixer?
Something to add to the list of human geography tourism things to look out for in local supermarkets while away.
10 February 2018
… Anyway, on opening the bottle there was a pleasant fizz from the cider, with a cool smell of cider apples and mixed fruit berries. From the front of the bottle it looked like a mix of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. This cider had a deep red colour on pouring, and a rather cheerful fizz. On taste the flavour explosion of Pimm's mixed with an amalgamation of berries almost completely overshadowed the apple cider. This was strange as cider was quite prominent in the smell. If you're looking for a cider drink mixed with Pimm's and summer fruits, you may be mistaken. This is Pimm's mixed with summer fruits with cider as an afterthought. It's no bad thing, I suppose, but I prefer a little cider with my fruit rather than the other way around!
9 February 2018
If you are buying a Cadbury Freddo product, I’m guessing it is because of the cuteness of Freddo the frog. The brand Freddo has quite a few edible chocolate goodies, but I’m not really sure where the frog originated, was there are a cartoon at some point I missed? Anyway for me it was the obvious “new” label that encouraged me to purchase them, from there they jumped into my basket.
To be honest these Cadbury Freddo Biscuits are quite plain in terms of newness, they consist of a neutral biscuit coated in chocolate. The flavour is fine, the biscuit has a nice creamy edge, but with a hint of wheat flavour. The chocolate if fine, as you would expect from Cadbury, and adds a lovely cocoa sweetness. The texture was good too, they are fairly firm and have a nice crispy crunch. They hold together well for dunking. The biscuits are difficult not to like, but I was struggling to love them, because they didn’t add anything new for me. If I’m honest I wasn’t particularly keen on the Freddo element either, I didn’t think this particular version of him embedded into the biscuit showed his best side, the picture on the back looked like a cross between Freddo and Jabba the Hut. Oh well, tasty enough biscuits all the same.
8 February 2018
Thai food is amazing, in fact I’m going out for some tonight!
At home it’s fairly simple but getting the specific tastes is sometimes a bit awkward. So here we have a kit to take care of all that.
It promises restaurant quality pad Thai
And all you need is the sauce sachet, the noodles and the recipe card!
The noodles are of fine quality, and perfectly pan-sized.
And it looks pleasing enough when made with quorum (Quorn - gah Auto-correct) and a few veggies. The taste was a little spicier than I’d expect for Pad Thai but I really enjoyed it and it was very quick and easy. And most importantly being in full control made this a veggie meal (not vegan due to egg).
7 February 2018
You may think just before bed is a funny time to try a “Dairy Protein Smoothie” energy drink, but I’ve had a busy day. I also didn’t sleep well the night before so a pick-me-up before bed to help me write a blog about what I’m writing about seemed an ideal idea. This blueberry and raspberry flavoured Upbeat Smoothie has 20g of high quality protein. Good for building muscles after a workout, if not for a nightcap. I don’t usually drink or eat blueberries, as I’ve never been much of a fan. However I do like raspberries and figured the flavours would mix well together with the milk. Plus there was the added bonus, or not added in this case, of no bananas! Some smoothies have added banana which instantly distracts from any other ingredients in the flavour of a smoothie ruining every smoothie it’s added to in my opinion. Here no added banana is fine by me… In taste this drink is undoubtably smooth, with the milk taking most of the tartness from the blueberries and raspberries reminiscent of a cool creamy raspberry and blueberry ripple. I reckon these mixed together would also make a great ice-cream too.
Information on the bottle:
The 330ml bottle has 152 calories with 1.6g of fat, 12.5g of sugar, and 0.34g of salt. For ingredients please see photograph.
6 February 2018
Although I couldn’t see a “new” label on this bar of Lindt Creation Macaron chocolate, I also couldn’t recall ever seeing it before, and I certainly haven’t tried the bar before. This is why it went into my basket while I was shopping, it turns out that although some new items cling to their new labels for longer than they should, other items just appear subtly on the shelves.
Anyway this bar is a milk chocolate bar, with a filling of macaroon. I like macaron biscuits but wasn’t quite sure how that was going to be represented in chocolate. Macarons are shiny round biscuits that seem to be quite on trend in recent years. Reading the packaging I realised that the filling was essentially a vanilla cream, like you might find sandwiched between two macaroon pieces, and some of the biscuit bits in the centre.
I opened up the bar and found the Lindt pieces to be quite big and neatly printed in chocolate with the brand and imagery. I gave the chocolate a bite and the sweet creamy flavours overwhelmed my tastebuds. The centre is very creamy, sweet and and overflowing with rich vanilla tones. The chocolate is sweet too, and again very creamy. Vanilla and the rich milk chocolate worked well together, but this was a rich bar, indulgent, but also a bit full on. I liked the texture from the macaroon bits, it gave the bar a light crunch and hint of crispiness. The bar was all about the vanilla though, and after two squares I found myself defeated, putting the rest of the bar away for another day. Even for my sweet tooth I found this was a bar that was best indulged in small doses with a coffee on the side for contrast.
5 February 2018
Although Daim bars are fairly easy to get hold of in the UK, the Limited Edition flavours rarely make it onto UK shelves. You can sometimes find them in Ikea, but they can be quite pricey in there. This Foodstuff Find came from the wonderfully well priced £1 in Poundland for a multipack of three, awesome!
The bars are in a bright orange pack, and do state Limited Edition, without giving much of a clue as to how long they are available, hence I bought two multipacks! Inside each pack are three individually wrapped bars. The chocolate bar is fairly flat and consists of a crunchy almond cracknel coated in a fairly thick milk chocolate, flavoured with orange. The minute I opened up the wrapper I could smell the sweet orange essence and new this was going to be a good version of the chocolate bar. I had forgotten how lovely the texture is on a Daim bar, the centre is brittle, crunchy and the it turns slightly chewy as you eat it, and all of this is wrapped in creamy milk chocolate. The flavour is a lovely mix of chocolate and orange, it is sweet and full of citrus. You can still taste the almond and caramel cracknel and the flavours mingle together perfectly. I loved the playful textures too and am rather pleased with myself that I’d stocked up.
4 February 2018
In my Ice-Cream round up from Sunday I mentioned that I'd saved the star attraction for another day - and here it is - Toblerone Ice-Cream!
I've not seen this in the UK, but frankly where better to try it than a cafe on the side of a volcano in Tenerife.
It's a bit smushed but they had to hunt for one as there were none in the main fridge and I was worried they'd run out. It's just authentic volcanic action. As you can see the outside has all the nuts and stuff that you'd expect from the chocolate bar.
The choc inside was great and had the flavour of nougat if not the chewy bits (there may have been some on the outside I suppose).
As it was so hot it started to fall to pieces an I had to finish the pits that fell off with a spoon! Definitely something that should come to the UK (if the stealth import stores of B&M and Iceland don't already have some) so that we can enjoy it if we get a summer this year.
3 February 2018
In Greek Mythology a Chimera was a fire-breathing monster with a lion's head, goat's body and serpent's tail. This monster was typically female, which matches with the front of the can of this Chimera India Pale Lager from the Drygate Brewing Company. Chimera also means an illusion or fantasy, which could also go some way to explain the craziness on the front of the can. At 5.9% volume this lager has been described using words such as "clean", "crisp" and "bright". The brewer used American hops for tropical fruitiness and orange citrus flavours, which should go nicely with my fishy dinner. I only hope it doesn't blow me up like some of the regular pub lagers that are drunk and burped by the dozen.
Fortunately there was no crazy fizzy bubbled over the rim lager lost when I opened the can. There was indeed a tropical fruity citrus smell. This lager smells like summer in a far off land, which makes a change from looking out into the dark dreary weather here. On taste this India Pale Lager is overflowing with tropical fruitiness from the get-go. The citrus blast from the American hops practically leaped into my mouth with enthusiasm. This is a very excitable beer to be around, not too fizzy to blow me up like a balloon, but in flavour it's a lager that begs for sunshine and fishy meals next to a hot sandy beach with a sparkling Caribbean sea as your backdrop. This is a cheerful lager that brought the illusion of Summer into my living room with it's tropical fruity start, undertones of orange citrus flavour, and a touch of sweet malted barley to finish off with. So kick back, find a deck chair and never mind the icy rain.
2 February 2018
I saw these new Nestle Butterfinger Cups at the end of an aisle in Morrisons, and noticed that there were two flavours available, peanut butter and coconut. I picked up both packets, and thought I’d start with the peanut butter version. I’m such a big fan of peanut butter. If truth be told I was absolutely convinced these were biscuits when they entered my basket, and it was only when I took a closer look at home I realised there was nothing biscuity about them.
Inside the packet are four peanut butter “cups” an American term for a shallow chocolate case I think. The chocolate is filled with peanut butter, but also some crunchy toffee pieces. I gave one a try and found the texture to be soft, but firm enough to hold together. The chocolate is thick enough to do the job. The milk chocolate is sweet, and the cocoa works wonderfully well with the peanut butter, but this is a favourite combination of mine. I was pleased with the generosity of the filling too. I liked the extra sweetness from the crispy toffee pieces inside, and there was a hint of salt all of which made this a gorgeous moreish mix of sweet and savoury. There may not be anything biscuity about these Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups, but with all that lovely mix of flavours, they are spot on as they are.