24 September 2018

Limited Edition Bonfire Spice Latte (@CostaCoffee) By @Cinabar

So the autumn items are arriving the shops, and Costa have a new range of drinks for the season referred to as the Bonfire Spice family. I’m trying out the Bonfire Spice Latte to start and am sitting with a warm cardigan on and a pair of sheep’s wool boots. It doesn’t seem too long ago I was moaning about it being too hot and buying a fan. Oh well, hopefully this drink will help me warm up to the colder weather.
Now the first thing I thought was weird about this drink was that I ordered a Medio (Medium sized drink for those that don’t speak Costa) and was told that the new drinks are only available in Primo (aka Small). I’ve googled a bit to find out why and didn’t hit any results, so my assumption is going to be calories, hot drinks like these are often in the press for their loaded calories that people forget to count as they are “just a drink”. Weird though as they are happy to sell Millionaire’s Shortbread at 515 calories a pop, but I can’t have this drink in large (aka Massimo in case you were wondering). The drink according to the calories list had just 65 calories, so I am a little confused. If anyone can shed any light on the limitation to small drinks only please leave a comment below. Apparently I can order 20 small Bonfire Spice Lattes (for the office), but not one single large drink.
Anyway I am definitely digressing from the flavour, which is more to the point for this blog. The flavour of the drink actually worked really well. It was topped with some sprinkles with there predominant flavour being burnt sugar, but the spices in the drink itself were lovely. There was plenty of cinnamon (and I love cinnamon) as well as lots of other warming spices, my guess is Allspice. There was a subtle hint of smokiness and and some sweetness from honey and cinder toffee. The drink wasn’t too sweet though, just nicely spiced and pleasingly warming on a cold blustery day.

Calorie list for the curious: https://www.costa.co.uk/nutrition/Costa-ANI-data-September-2018.pdf

23 September 2018

Keralan Curry Dhal Chips (@Marksandspencer) by @NLi10

All the first curries I had were by M&S.  My parents have never been big curry fans, and my grandparents who -were- shopped at M&S.  This meant that all international and exotic food I ate as a child was the white, middle-class M&S version.

I think this explains a lot about why i find the real thing so appealing.  It is then with trepidation that I return to try M&S curry chips.

And make no mistake - these are good.  You can tell because the picture is of only half a bag!

Here is the ingredients.  Feels as healthy as this kind of thing is going to get.

And here are the lovely little hexagons themselves.  They have a simple curry flavour, with maybe a katsu level strength and more flavour than heat.  The texture and the general feel of them is the real star, and I can imagine adding all kinds of toppings to these.  I'd recommend picking up a couple of bags to wow people with for the Christmas buffet - with some of the fab chutneys that are around at the moment this could be a festive winner!

22 September 2018

Felinfoel Dragon’s Heart Beer (Home Bargains) By @SpectreUK

I was reminded yesterday that it was 81 years since the J R R Tolkien's Hobbit was first published. Cinabar found her brother's illustrated Hobbit in one of the many moving boxes we've been laboriously sorting through the day before. He was very excited, as he'd been searching for it for many years since he'd moved away. I first read the Hobbit when I left secondary school almost thirty years ago. I'd received a commendation for Design and Technology and had been asked to choose a book to be presented to me during the big awards ceremony. Whereas all the other pupils who were receiving awards that day chose text books for learning, I chose the Hobbit, much to other's consternation. I remember one lad in the audience nearby saying "you can do that?" I read the Lord of the Rings soon afterwards and love all the fairly recent movies.

There is a Red Dragon in the Hobbit called Smaug who invaded the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which is the end of the thirteen Dwarf's quest, who were aided by the wizard, Gandalf, and the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. The dragon is red in the movie, like the Welsh Dragon on the front of this Dragon's Heart craft ale. Of course the aim (literally) is to shoot a huge arrow into the dragon's heart in the Hobbit, so you can see why I picked this beer to blog about today.

Dragon's Heart was brewed by the oldest brewery in Wales called Felinfoel, which was established in 1878. At 4.2% in volume this deep red almost brown ale has a rich malty smell with a fruity hint from the hops. The initial brown malt gives that almost burnt toast flavour that then mixes with the sweetness from the crystal malt. This full-flavour of malts almost trips over the fruitiness from the bitter hops that took my palate on a journey of flavours into the aftertaste. Mmm… definitely a autumn and winter warmer to heat up the old bones on the mountain tops and in those deep Welsh Valleys!

21 September 2018

Kiwi Berries (Ocado) By @Cinabar

As much as it might come as a surprise, I was browsing fruit on the Ocado website. I normally thoroughly check crisps, chocolate and biscuits, but this time I focused on fruit. I spotted these interesting sounding Kiwi Berries and thought I would give them a try. They are from a plant known as the Hardy Kiwi and although similar are not just baby kiwis.
I took some out the tub and of course after I washed them I had to cut one in half to see what they look like, and they really do look like mini kiwi fruit.

So the next question is should you top and tail the bits on the end? I know you can eat the skin, but I ended up pinching the top and bottom off as they looked a little unappetising. Flavour wise these were very much like a kiwi fruit, subtle sweetness with hint of melon and citrus. They varied in sweetness, but each one had the same problem, a bitter skin. It isn’t textured, so the consistency isn’t an issue. The whole point of the Kiwi Berries is that you can eat the skin, but to be honest this was the least tasty part, but I’m not peeling them. In conclusion it is nice to try a new fruit, but it isn’t one I’ll be buying again.

20 September 2018

M&S Tumeric & Cayenne Shot (@Marksandspencer) by @NLi10

A while back I reviewed a little Marks & Spencer shot drink that was nice but expensive and here is another of the same.

Instead of Kale this one is Turmeric and Cayenne which is supposed to help with inflammation and tastes nice and burny.  Although the bottle front doesn't say this its actually mostly pineapple juice!

91% in fact! Note that there isn't much water in here and it's basically pure juice - which is decent - but you'd expect that for the premium price.

There are a few amazing flavours going on here, and the effect of the little red bits floating in the drink is pretty cool (note to M&S execs - add glitter to a red one of these shots for Christmas and send us some to review).

The flavour is unexpectedly good - the heat from the pepper is just right and the juice actually works - you could use this synergy with gammon and pineapple I'm sure. Again - i'm not sure that I'd buy this myself as I'm usually after a big drink and not a flavour hit, but this is a lot better for you than a lot of the nonsense on the market so it's a reasonable choice.

19 September 2018

LioBites Smoothie Bites (@DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

I recently had two packets of these LioBites Smoothie Bites in the post from Degustabox. It's always good to receive diverse snacks in the post, because often when we're barging through the scrummage of a local supermarket we can sometimes miss interesting products. These LioBites Smoothie Bites sound just the ticket to feed my obsession for finding alternative snacks to crisps and nuts. I don't have a problem with crisps at all, in fact I can't get enough of them, but for dietary reasons, I have to avoid nuts! This is of course a shame, as I miss the little fellas, but hey-ho!

Now I might get a little mixed up here with different Smoothie Bites. There are two packets you will see in the photographs; Mango, Banana & Passion Fruit Smoothie Bites; and also, Mango & Coconut Smoothie Bites. I'm sure you'll see why I'd rather mix up the packets, as there's the dreaded mango in both. I say 'dreaded mango', as I really don't like mango! "Why are you trying a packet of mango crisps?" I hear you say; "Does Cinabar have a weird sense of humour?" A little… However, the thing about food and snacking is you never know in which form you may like it. Therefore I endeavour to persevere! An example of this is that I don't like cooked banana, such as Banoffee Pie (and definitely not banana beer…. Blaargh!), but I do usually like banana crisps! Having said that, I'm hoping that the coconut crisps are made from the inside of the coconut, rather than the outside!

The front of the packets sounded pretty healthy with bullet points of; " 1 of 5 a day (presumably this means 'fruit' rather than double whiskies?), no added sugar, vegan (…friendly, rather than diced vegan in the packet), and gluten free. It also states that these Smoothie Bites are simply "100% natural fruit crisps". On opening the packets and looking at the contents (please see the photographs), these LioBites were certainly not what I was expecting. They were squarish orange coloured crisps with the texture of freeze dried space-food with big crosses on the one side of them, rather than the usual slices of individual fruits, etc…

The big crosses didn't encourage me to eat them, however, I tried the Mango & Coconut Smoothie Bites first. They were very crunchy to start with and then melted in my mouth, but stuck to my teeth a bit. To me they just tasted of mango, but Cinabar said that they tasted of coconut. There's that weird sense of humour I was talking about. I tried the Mango, Banana & Passion Fruit Smoothie Bites next. They tasted of mango to start with, moving to banana and passionfruit into the aftertaste. Sucking on the sticky pieces in my teeth in desperation to get rid of them produced a banana, passion fruit mixed with mango type flavour, which wasn't wasn't all that pleasant after a while. There was even a bit of coconut flavour stuck to my teeth from trying the other crisps beforehand.

I'd like to say I liked these LioBites Smoothie Bites, but I just didn't get on with them. There texture is a bit weird. If I was in space or on a long haul flight somewhere maybe, but here on terra firma I prefer real crisps, fruit or not, rather than freeze dried puree from concentrate which is a little bit like a Crunchie bar without the Cadbury's Milk Chocolate and also the Honeycomb. They stuck to my teeth for ages. So much so that I had to clean my teeth before drinking my cup of tea and also whatever I ate next. I just couldn't get rid of the fruity tastes seeping from every crevasse in my mouth. Hey-ho… so much for mango crisps. Back to the drawing board…

Information on the 18g packets;

Mango, Banana & Passion Fruit Smoothie Bites; 49.5 calories, with 0.22g of fat, 14.67g of sugar, and 0g of salt. Ingredients included; banana puree, mango puree concentrate, apply juice concentrate, passion fruit juice concentrate.

Mango, and Coconut Smoothie Bites; 102.8 calories, with 6.4g of fat, 9.97g of sugar, and 0.05g of salt. Ingredients included; mango puree concentrate, coconut milk, apply juice concentrate, peach puree concentrate, carrot juice concentrate.