25 September 2018

Merry Orange & Berry Preserve (Marks and Spencer) By @Cinabar


I have purchased a jar of Merry Orange and Berry Preserve from Marks and Spencer. I think this is the first Christmas review of the year. I love Christmas, I love the season, and I love all the limited edition items that come out for it. I have to admit though, September is a little early even for me. I like to get through Halloween before I really think about it. I’m letting it go though as I actually did need a new jar of preserve and this one was the only “new” one I could find in Marks, the Christmas hint on the label shall be ignored, the taste shall not.
So essentially this Merry Orange and Berry Preserve is a Marmalade with added berries, and that sounded perfect for my morning toast. When I spread this I could see the Marmalade strands but there was no missing the berry colour, and this was packed with fruit too.There were strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries all adding to the taste. There was a good base of orange marmalade but the berries were strong and fruity and soon took over the flavour, I liked this as I love a mixed berry jam. The tang of marmalade just added a nice twist. I think if you are looking for something predominantly marmalade in flavour you may find the berries too strong, for me though this cheered up my toast perfectly. In fact it made it very merry....

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.