28 February 2011

Tyrrell’s Sweet & Salty Proper Popcorn (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

When I go to the cinema I am very much in the sweet popcorn camp. I have tried salty popcorn, but never really seen the fascination with the stuff. I have also tried sweet and salty (i.e. both together) once before, when I tried Pret’s last year. Their attempt at the flavour wasn’t particularly special, and if anything I found it a little bit bland.
When I saw Tyrrells had ventured into the popcorn market I bought a bag for Foodstuff Finds purposes but wasn’t exactly excited about the same mixed concept of flavour. We were having a movie night in (watching The Men Who Stare at Goats) and it seemed appropriate to crack open the popcorn. We were all set up yummy George Clooney, yummy Ewan McGregor, yummy Spectre (he made me type that!) and hopefully yummy popcorn!
And it really was yummy popcorn too. I just can’t get over how totally clever the flavour was, it totally wowed me. Some pieces were saltier than sweet, and some were more sweet than salty, but the best bits were the ones lashings of both flavours! One thing is for sure, every piece was tasty and made you want to eat another.
The popcorn pieces were perfectly light and fluffy with a gentle crunch. In the entire bag there was only one unpopped kernel, and this looked like a minor oversight. The flavour is just about the most moreish and perfectly made stuff I have tried. It needed a warning on the front of the pack saying the clever flavour combination WILL make you eat more than you intended! I am totally converted to this, it’s absolutely fab stuff, and I will be buying more.
By Cinabar

27 February 2011

Cherries & Chocolate - Green & Blacks / Hotel Chocolat [By @Nli10]

Over Christmas I had the opportunity to try a few odd combinations of dark chocolate (my favourite) and cherries (something I've never really seen the appeal in).

These Hotel Chocolate Mulled Wine Cherries were a gift to my partner from my sister for Christmas. They are a strange proposition as they are actual cherries, soaked in mulled wine and then coated in lush dark chocolate. They are perfect sharing snack items as they smell fantastic, have a powerful and lasting impression and you really don't need more than a couple.

Essentially they have a very alcoholic taste and (while the aftertaste is very much cherry and chocolate) this is the lasting memory I have of these. We still have some left - the taste is nice and not off-putting, but the strength of it means that I couldn't just sit there and munch away. As a casual everyday snack they just don't work, but pass these out after Xmas dinner or at a new years party and you'd have a hit on your hands.

There are a series of five minibars in the current Green & Blacks gift set, but due to the curse of FoodStuff Finds I ignored my favourite (the very dark bar) and went for the unknown - dark choc with cherries. I needn't have worried though, small and powerful as this bar is the flavours are actually quite nice. The sweetness of the cherries offset the bitterness of the chocolate and enables you to polish the bar off in double time. While working away this little snack didn't stand a chance and left a nice taste in my mouth to boot.

I'd happily buy more of these - probably not as a full size bar, but these minis work well. And as other people seemed to leave the cherry bar till last you may be able to sneak in a couple of them from the box before someone else figures out they are quite a good match.

Overall I was surprised at how well these two flavours work, and while I'm more enamoured by the Green & Black's bar I think it's the mulled wine not the cherries that makes the Hotel Chocolate cherries a one-bite-is-enough experience.
By @Nli10

26 February 2011

Skittles – Fizzl’d Fruits (Amazon.co.uk) [By SpectreUK]

Completing my season of five Skittles packets that aren’t widely available unless you buy them from Amazon or Cyber Candy, Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits states on the packet that they are “fizzling fun for your mouth”. I was expecting popping candy from that statement, but how would popping candy work in Skittles? I had no idea but there are still 200 calories per 51g pack, and 35g of which is sugar. I ripped open this final bag and separated out the flavours, whilst taking note that these were covered in some sort of sugar like the Skittles Sours. No popping candy then...?


Pink coloured. There was a mild strawberry flavour to these skittles, but it was barely sweet and definitely not sour. No, no popping candy. I was glad there weren’t many in the packet.

Wild Cherry

Red coloured. I felt there was a sharp unpleasant bubblegum cherry flavour to these Skittles that was overpowering and strangely over exaggerated. As a cherry flavouring hater I thought these were the worst cherry flavoured sweets I have ever tasted in my whole life! No really!


Blue coloured. Again the sugar coating seemed to dull the sweetness of these Skittles making me want to taste the raspberry underneath and scrape off the coating. There was a brief taste of raspberry which was snatched away after a moment during eating. I was left feeling a little robbed.

Melon Berry

Green coloured. I thought here was a sharp almost chemical taste to these Skittles that was remarkably unpleasant. I disliked the cherry ones, but believe me I disliked these more!

Berry Punch

Purple coloured. Okay, so the blackcurrant flavour of these Skittles actually married well with the unpleasant coating to produce the only decent sweet in this strange and oddly flavoured bag of Skittles.
By Spectre

25 February 2011

Cadbury’s The Big Race (New UK Chocolate Bar) [By @Cinabar]

Hey everybody, Cadbury have announced that it is Race Season! They are launching another of the Spots Vs Stripes bars that promote playing, this one is called “The Big Race”. This new bar is indeed all about racing, and inside the wrapper are mini speed challenges. You can also play online at http://www.spotsvstripes.com/raceseason/ and try racing at typing, mouse scrolling or even clicking. They are quite simple but sweet games, which amused me. They also allowed me to support the worthy Stripes. Long live the Stripes!
Okay, back to the chocolate bar! This is a bit different for Cadbury, in that it is basically a wafer bar. Wafer is also something I associate with Europe, you don’t have to go far in Germany to find hazelnut wafer bars, and there seems to be a healthy supply of European chocolate wafers spread round the Italian style coffee shops in this country too. It doesn’t look as neat or a polished as many of the Cadbury’s bars, not just that the bar is knobbly, but that the coating doesn’t seem to be as thick or have regularity.
The bar consists of a milk chocolate coating, layers of wafer filled with cocoa crème and round biscuit pieces set in the top rather sporadically. I liked the bar as it was light and easy to eat, with the moist cocoa crème balancing the dryer wafer. The biscuit pieces didn’t add much to the flavour, but they did leave an enjoyable crunch. The chocolate is sweet and creamy, and the whole bar seems substantial but is very easy to eat. I actually enjoyed this bar a lot, and was really pleased that Cadbury are trying something a bit different. If they went the extra step and launched a hazelnut cocoa crème edition (which is the proper European style) I think I would be in heaven.
By Cinabar

24 February 2011

Fresh Ricotta & Tender Spinach - Giovanni Rana (Asda) [By @NLi10]

While doing regular shopping and not particularly looking out for review stocks I spotted that the Giovanni Rana range has now been added to Asda's shelves, and at £1.60 a packet it's cheaper than I remembered from other supermarkets. Maybe this is a special offer, but I took it as a sign that I should try out the vegetarian version of Spinach and Ricotta.

While I'm happy to eat this cheesy combo I'd much rather have the meat option, but I was hoping to be able to detect the spinach overpowering the cheese. While these are not as saucy as the meat variety they are definitely much softer in texture than the other brands and were really quite nice. With the strong flavours of the rocket salad and balsamic vinegar I'd added these went very well and left room for desert.

I think that as a 1 min snack (once you've boiled the water) then these are again a great example of quality convenience foods that outdo traditional British efforts like Pot Noodle and Cup-A-Soup in terms of their nutritional value and won't get you teased by your partner for eating bachelor chow. In fact Ms. NLi10 shared the packet with me and thought they were quite nice; not bad for a meal you can make in the advert breaks.

I'll stop going on about this brand now, I'm pretty sure I found the fresh, filled pasta Gold Standard and unless they bring more varieties over I think there are just two kinds in the UK. And hey - if Mr. Rana wants me to pop over to Italy to try anything else out I'd be happy to go over and then talk about it some more on here.
By NLi10

23 February 2011

Seabrook [Crisps] Jacket Potato With Creamy Butter (Waitrose)

One of my favourite crisp flavours of all time were the Jacket Potato & Butter ones sold at Marks & Spencers. They had a rich full potato flavour and lovely creamy buttery aftertaste. They just tasted quite luxurious and I have mourned them since they were discontinued a few years ago. As a Seabrook’s fan I was rather pleased to see that amongst their new range with “90% less salt” they had included some jacket potato flavour crisps one of which were these “Jacket Potato with Creamy Butter” variety.
I hurriedly opened the packet and dived in. I couldn’t believe what I was eating. These have to be the strangest concoction of a flavouring that I have ever had the misfortune to try. I eat a lot of weird crisps, but these really do take the biscuit. My mouth was filled with a shocking sugary sweetness and vague after taste of savoury butter. It is not often I can’t eat a whole bag of crisps but I really had to force myself to try a couple more for the sake of writing this review. They were just so sweet and sickly. I checked the contents label and sugar was indeed the third largest listed on the ingredients following potato and sunflower oil.
I do know that jacket potatoes have a slight sweetness but they don’t taste FULL of sugar. Also dearest Seabrook just because you are removing the salt I don’t feel it is necessarily a good idea to look for some other white granular condiment to replace it with even if it does look similar. Taste wise sugar and salt are worlds apart.
I like nearly all Seabrook crisp varieties, and as a fan of the brand I do I feel sad not to like these. I just can’t work out what happened. I tested them out at work (as I clearly wasn’t going to be able to eat any more of the pack) and not one person liked them. That is a sample of eight other people who all agreed they were overly sweet, sickly and one of them even had to reach for a drink to wash their mouth out. One further sampler refused to try one as they had bought a multipack themselves and thought they were so bad they were planning to try and give the contents away as they couldn’t not face eating any more. How did these get past the Seabrook taste testers?
Not only is the flavour sugared beyond reason, I have to add a final note about the packaging. It took me a while to work it out, but by all means have a go yourself. BOTH of the following two tables appear on the back of the pack, which is a bit confusing if you are trying to work out your calorie intake…

This pack of crisp is from a multipack, there are also two further flavours of Jacket Potato With Caramelised Onions and Jacket Potato With Tomato and Garlic which I have yet to try. I will test them, but after this effort I’m not really looking forward to them.

Ryvita: Cracked Black Pepper (Waitrose) [By Cinabar’s Mum]

And now for a guest post from my mum!

My favourite Ryvita are the pumpkin and sunflower seed variety. I keep a pack of these in the cupboard and often have them with cheese and fruit for a light lunch. Yesterday I went to Waitrose with Cinabar and Spectre, we needed a few items. However Cinabar found plenty of new and interesting products for Foodstuff Finds. Spectre found all the tempting goodies just too much for him, the trolley got fuller and fuller until we look as if we were preparing for a very long siege! While we were there, I spotted this new Black Pepper variety and decided to try a packet. I tried two with some Havarti cheese, the Ryvita was lovely and crisp, there is a pleasant tang of black pepper that left a tingle and warmth in the mouth.
These are a good addition to the Ryvita family, and are lovely with cheese. They would also compliment salmon pate with a squeeze of lemon, and are very enjoyable for a quick, light lunch.
By Cinabar’s Mum

22 February 2011

Sugar Free Traditional Sweets (SweetJunkie.com) [By @Cinabar]

The nice people at Sweet Junkie very kindly sent me this selection of sweets to review. They may look like a very traditional selection, but they are all actually sugar free. Their flavours still filled me with nostalgia and that lovely feeling of spending pocket money on sweets, I just couldn’t wait to tuck in.

Sour Apples
These had a lovely zingy flavour which developed into a decent hit of sour. The sweetness of the apple balanced them so that they were tasty, but thankfully not sour enough to make you contort your face when consuming them.

Chocolate Lime
These had a sweet lime taste, the chocolaty flavour slowly seeped though and mixed gently with its citrus counterpart. A good combination of flavours and a pleasant but gently flavoured sweet.

Striped Mint
This was one of those sweets that just didn’t work for me. The mint flavour wasn’t as strong as it could be and there was this strange chalky, almost soapy, aftertaste. I like my mint quite strong, so would have turned the peppermint volume up on this one.

Aniseed Twist
This was my favourite sweet to look at, the picture doesn’t quite do the lovely pattern on them justice. The flavour is wonderful and spicy, the warmth reminiscent of herbal sweets I used to have as a kid. Such a lovely full flavour, these are absolutely yum and perfect for the current cold weather.

Rhubarb & Custard
What a classic sweet, and a childhood favourite of mine. The rhubarb taste is zingy but sweet with a lovely fruity full flavour. There is a soft vanilla taste for the custard part, and it complements the fruit flavour perfectly.

Would I have known they were sugar free? With the exception of the mint, not at all. If you want to see what the fuss is about, the Sweet Junkie website can be found here: www.sweetjunkie.com

By Cinabar

21 February 2011

[New] Aero Orange (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]

This is one of those products that fits into the “Its back” category. Things that were available years ago, that the great British public have enough nostalgia for that eventually the company decide to bring it back. Think Wispa, Arctic Roll etc.
This Aero Orange smells lovely and sweet when you open the wrapper, and there is a lovely fresh zesty scent from the orange. Breaking the bar in half I was pleased to see the bright orange bubbles within, there is something nice about the bright colour, particularly as the packaging proudly states “no artificial colours of flavours”.
I know that the Aero texture isn’t to everyone’s taste, but its soft bubbles just gives when bitten and are rather pleasant to me. Admittedly I’m not sure how the chocolate would hold out as a solid bar, but as an aerated one it works really well.
The bar is very sweet but full of a wonderfully strong and fruity orange flavour that just works. It is such a lovely zesty treat, and all that flavour is lovely and natural. The orange does over power the chocolate a little, but the tangy taste melts in the mouth and the lesser chocolate kick seems well balanced if you are after a fruity hit. It’s a simple but fab bar, and I would officially like to welcome it back to its deserved place on shop shelves.
By Cinabar

20 February 2011

The Co-operative own brand fresh filled pasta [By @Nli10] (Co-op)

A while back I waxed lyrical about discovering that not all store bought pasta parcels were dry, solid husks as I discovered Giovanni Rana and added it to the 'things I am evangelical about' list. Turns out it's a big brand in Italy (thanks to an Italian User's comment on the post) and even has restaurants.

As I'd not tried them previously I decided when in my most favourite of supermarkets (I'm a member and everything) to try the Co-op fresh pastas. On test we have Italian Sausage & Ham Tortelloni & cheese and sun-dried tomato Ravioli. I shall lump them together unceremoniously as the overall experience was similar except for the meaty vs veggie version of them.

Essentially while these are a step above the Aldi versions (having a decent flavour and more texture) they are still fairly dry inside. The different shapes are good, and these are certainly not budget in terms of the pasta (2 for £3 is a bargain too) but overall I'd rather have one packet of the Giovanni Rana than two of these. They were certainly nice, but not amazing.
This was also from the co-op, and is mini versions of the pasta parcel idea. Nice enough (and spicy too) and very cheap for the quality as it's a new brand, but still not saucy with actual bits of ingredients. Looks like I'm going out hunting for more Giovanni Rana stuff then - & whenever I go on deluxe missions that usually means Waitrose. If you know of any other fresh pasta with liquid contents then please comment!

By Nli10

19 February 2011

Tyrrell’s Sweet Chilli and Red Pepper (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

Tyrrell’s have been around for a while now and I’ve always admired their innovative flavours of crisps. It’s rare I find a flavour I’m not impressed by or dislike. These Sweet Chilli and Red Pepper crisps come in a red packet with an old black and white photograph of two men in a fire truck on the front. These crisps smack of heat. Hot enough to burn. Hot enough for a fire truck? There’s only one way to find out… On opening the packet I couldn’t smell anything particularly hot. You know when you smell some food or other and it springs out at you as particularly hot and spicy? Me neither, at least not right now anyway. Having said that, I knew I should still be cautious as these crisps could still ambush my taste buds with hidden chilli heat. On eating I noticed these crisps have a lovely sweet tomato flavour mixed with Thai spice to start with, followed by a very mild chilli heat. After every crisp chomp the red pepper flavour dances on the tip of your tongue. There is a gentle hint of garlic, onion and perhaps parsley in every bite, leaving a pleasurable aftertaste with a tender heat. No fire engine required whilst eating these crisps, but several bags, a good kick arse Jackie Chan movie and a few beers would go down a treat.
By Spectre

18 February 2011

Penguin Caramel Wafer (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]

The wafer variety of Penguin has obviously been selling well because McVities is expanding the range with a caramel variant (insert moan here about caramel being a bit of a safe option for companies).
As ever the Penguins are individually packed, each with a joke on the wrapper in order to bring a smile with your sugar fix. I like the fact they are individually wrapped as it means I can tuck one away in my lunch box quite easily and save it for an afternoon treat at work.
I unpacked the Penguin bar taking it out of its wrapper, and deliberately breaking it in half. I was a little disappointed to discover that there wasn’t any notable runny caramel oozing out of the bar.

All that could be seen was a smidgen of caramel between the wafers, and you had to look rather closely to find that! I bit in and the caramel flavour was clear enough to the taste buds, even if it hadn’t been visible. It was a pleasant buttery sweet flavour that worked well with the wafers and milky chocolate. The caramel was also present in the texture, adding a slight chewiness to the bar that made it feel just a little bit more substantial as you tucked into its crisp layers.
Although not an adventurous flavour this Penguin Caramel Wafer does do what it says on the pack, and make and enjoyable treat, especially with an afternoon coffee.
By Cinabar

17 February 2011

Doves Farm Organic Gluten Free Pasta (Sainsbury's) [by @NLi10]

I do love tricolore pasta, as it adds a variety to the flavour and makes dinner a bit more special. I spotted this in the gluten-free aisle (which gets larger every week) and being a die hard pastafarian and a gluten for punishment (ha) I decided to give it a whirl.

This isn't really pasta - it says it is but it isn't. This is made with rice and has a texture more akin to that of the wholemeal varieties of pasta that no-one buys a second time because it just crumbles. The texture of this isn't actually bad though, and while it lacks the 'bite' of pasta it's grainy feel didn't put me off. It's kind of odd that this doesn't have the texture of rice noodles which are a little slimy but nice, it's a well made product really.

The bag is small. 250g of Pasta is three portions. If you are sharing that means you get to have this twice before you need to buy more and it's not that cheap. That said as a treat or for a dinner party it's a nice unexpected surprise to have a pasta that is much lighter than typically found. I found it filling, but not that heavy on the stomach - heck I could probably eat 125g of this as a nice lunch with a sauce.

The fact that this is a 'special diet' product and quite enjoyable is another pleasant surprise - I think the supermarkets (Sainsbury's especially) are figuring out that actually if they only stock good varieties of the special diet foods then your potential customer base is much higher. This can only be a good thing.

In short - if you like pasta and don't like wheat, or just fancy a lighter alternative then go for this - it's actually quite nice.
by NLi10

16 February 2011

Yan Yan - Vanilla (Day In, Birmingham) [By @SpectreUK]

Manufactured by Meiji, which means bright or brilliant in Japanese, Yan Yan appears to be named after a brave and loyal Chinese general of the Kingdom of Shu, who lived between AD 153 and AD 220. I’m not sure how he’d feel about a snack food being named after him, but being remembered nearly two thousand years after you lived would be pretty special at least.

Tearing off the lid of the tall tube I noticed that there were sixteen biscuit sticks that were brown, thin and around ten centimetres in length. Each stick had English words printed onto them, such as “Golden Egg”, “Elephant Jumbo” and “Sheep Wool Sweaters”. The crispy cracker sticks were weak, brittle and easily snap, so dunking deeply into the tub of thick white vanilla provided can break the stick. The biscuit is crunchy and tastes slightly salty on its own, but the combination of the gloopy vanilla creates a moreish taste sensation in your mouth that automatically changes you into a dipping munching machine. Before I knew it, I’d forgotten to read the words on each stick and was rapidly running out of sticks. I’m pretty greedy, so wouldn’t have minded more sticks and more vanilla, although I found the amount of sticks provided was just right to finish off all of the vanilla, without having to stick my finger into the tub to finish off. Besides licking my fingers in a busy office may have raised some eyebrows!
By Spectre

15 February 2011

Mr Kipling – Spotted Dick Slices (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]

Spotted Dick is a classic British pudding, usually consisting of a vanilla sponge, packed with currants and served with hot custard. What we have here is a convenient slice of cake, made with the dried fruit and topped with custard flavoured icing, attempting to give the feel of the usual dessert.
As with all the Mr Kipling cake slices I have tried, the sponge was lovely and moist. It was sweet too and had a nice hint of spice, brown sugar and toffee like taste. I liked the currants within it as they added texture and extra sweetness, as well as delivering a nice bit of extra moisture.
My favourite part was the custard flavoured icing, this was simply genius and I have literally no idea why I haven’t seen it before! My K should really use this new icing flavour on other cake slices, the possibilities are endless and the substance is divine.
It might not fully replace a hot dessert after a roast dinner, but these cakes certainly deliver a lovely Spotted Dick flavour, and are a bit more suitable for an afternoon coffee. A really nice innovative product, it’s nice to see something a bit different on the shelves and that icing really is the bee’s knees.
By Cinabar

14 February 2011

Love Potion No. 9 Hot Chocolate (Marks & Spencer) [By @Cinabar]

Happy Valentines everyone!

If you are sitting down to a romantic Valentines evening in, I wonder if you too are brewing up a mug of Marks & Spencer seasonal hot chocolate? I decide to make a nice warm mug, and pulled out the tactile glass stopper from the jar. I was more than a little surprised to find that in order to make one (large) mugs worth the amount of product required was nearly a quarter of the jar!
It smelt wonderfully aromatic as the chocolate flakes dissolved into the hot milk, and it came together nicely, melting easily. I had whiffs of dark chocolate and a fresh herby smell that seemed quite appealing.
I took my first sip and my initial reaction wasn’t great, it was a strong flavour and I immediately thought that it needed sugar. The jar does state that you can add sugar to taste, but I decide to leave off this and try and get a feel for the depth of flavours. It is a strange exotic taste, with a good kick of basil mixed in for good measure. There was a hint of rose, and as a Turkish delight fan, I should have liked it, but with the mix of other flavours including the over powering spicy clove it was all just a bit much. I really didn’t think I could finish my mug at all, my taste buds were having problems coming to terms with the complex nature of the taste. To be honest, the more I drank the more the flavour grew on me. Not to the extent where I actually liked it and would buy another jar, but to the stage where I was at least able to finish my mug. It was all a bit much for me, and not the wonderfully romantic soothing drink I had hoped for at all. I know it is supposed to be a ‘potion’, but it shouldn’t really taste medicinal!
By Cinabar

Kinky: Spiced Up Quickie (Artisan Du Chocolat, Selfridges) [By @Cinabar]

Anyone who just googled “Kinky Quickie” and arrived at this webpage, I’m suspecting you may not have been looking for a food site!
I know its Valentines, but I assure you this blog hasn’t taken a strange turn, despite the name, what follows is a review for a hot chocolate! Well I say hot chocolate, but it isn’t in the powdered form. This is a one serving stick with a solid lump of hot chocolate that you dissolve in hot milk to make an indulgent drink.
The name may sound a bit curious, but the ‘Spiced Up’ part relates to cardamom and the quickie because it is quick to make and any other puns I’m sure are intentional too. ;-)
So I made myself a mug of hot milk and allowed the chunk of hot chocolate to dissolve as I stirred. It was quite nice watching it melt, even if I did have to resist having a sneaky lick.
To be honest though, it took its time to dissolve, and even at the end there were still a few bits floating and stuck on the inside of the mug.
The drink was full of flavour though, with a good strong initial dark chocolate taste. The aftertaste was lovely and warming too, with a nice clean hit of spice from the cardamom. The drink is rich and soothing, the two flavours of chocolate and spice work perfectly together.
It was enjoyable to make this drink, and perfect and warming for a Winter’s night in. I’m dying to try a Quickie with Lolita (which, for the record, is the name of their strawberry and black pepper flavoured hot chocolate)!
By Cinabar

13 February 2011

Puffed Rice - 'rude health' (Sainsbury's) [by @NLi10]

While inspecting the gluten free section I came across this in the same rude health range as the banana porridge that I reviewed previously. As that was of a very high quality I thought I'd brave this particular package.

The concept of puffed rice isn't a new one, these are pretty much sugar puffs without the sugar. This caused my brain a small amount of confusion - it's decidedly grown up to have a breakfast cereal with no added sugar, fruit or anything like that. Fortunately there are flavours to be found, and while these are quite earthy they are also interesting and worth a try. I guess it tastes like rice! As there is no protective outer layer of sugar to keep the rice safe the milk attacks quite early on and makes them less crunchy than the competitors, but as the centres are still crisp it's not a mushy breakfast.
I've used these as a mixer with other cereals and they go quite well with some of the sweeter ones like Weetos, but I think I prefer them solo. It's not a fancy cereal, and it's not going to win many awards from people looking for excitement, but it's a darn solid cereal and one you could give to your parents without them looking at you as if you are still 8 and buying whichever box has the best toy or promises the most sugar.
As far as it's 'gluten free' status goes I happy to report that this is a completely normal cereal that happens to not contain gluten. I'm sure that a lot of rice based cereals are also gluten free, but the fact that they are proud to display this fact and still have a flavour to match the popular brands is definitely a selling point in my book.
by NLi10

12 February 2011

Skittles: Sour (amazon.co.uk) [By @SpectreUK]

Continuing my season of five Skittles packets that aren’t widely available unless you buy them from Amazon or Cyber Candy, Skittles Sour makes me hope for face twisting fun on a dull rainy Thursday afternoon at work. Having said that, there are still 200 calories per 51g pack, and 37g of which is sugar. I ripped open this latest bag and separated out the flavours. Whoohoo, no cherry flavour…!


Red coloured. On opening the packet I was surprised to see that all the Skittles have sour sugar stuck to their outsides. This made them pretty sticky and lots of the flavours had left colours on each other in the packet. Presentation aside these strawberry Skittles tasted very nice, with a hint of sour drowning amongst the sweetness.


Orange coloured (no surprises there). Slightly sourer than the strawberry flavour, the Orange Skittles had a minor medicinal flavour that made me think of some sort of orange flavoured tablets for sick children.


Yellow coloured. These Skittles tasted just like the lemon flavour of Starburst Sour Chews! Very tasty, but….


Green coloured. The most sour flavoured Skittles of the packet so far. They have a good lime taste and a face twisting punch at the end of each mouthful. Nice! :-p


Purple coloured. Although not face twistingly sour these Skittles are almost as sour as the lime flavour. They have that weird flavouring taste feeling like its straight from the lab, where the guy in the white coat, who has never tasted a real grape before, made up the taste to what he imagined it would taste like. Blah!
By Spectre

11 February 2011

Jimmy Con Carrne [Crisps] (Walkers) [By @cinabar]

Working our way through the new Comic Relief Walkers flavours, we now have Jimmy Carrs’s contribution of a Chilli Con Carne variety. I was quite excited about these because their flavour is a little more unique than the others. Although I have tried quite a few chilli crisps, these are the first chilli con carne ones.
Opening the pack, the aroma was very pleasant and appealing, with a good hint of spice and Mexican flavours. These crisp were indeed very different to regular chilli crisps, and had a much bigger depth of flavour. In fact the flavour is surprisingly different, tasting rather like a vegetarian chilli con carne. The was definitely a good hint of chilli, which left the mouth with a decent warmth, but the other flavours of beans, vegetables, tomato and paprika complemented it really well. Sadly there wasn’t much of a beef or meat taste mixed in, but the other flavours made for a very nice packet of crisps. These are my favourite so far out of all the new varities, as they are just so munchable and tasty. I still have Stephen Fry’s Full English left to try, but these Jimmy Con Carrne crisps have set the standard very high.

The Big Chopper: Chopping Board and Competition

It’s not often we review items that you can’t actually eat, but it has to be said this product seriously caught our attention. By our attention what I mean is Spectre got the giggles!
Thankfully this is a food related item, consisting of two chopping boards in one, so it is perfect for chopping both your meat and two veg and yes, it come is one large package. ;-)
Although this is a humorous product, it is still impressively functional. I have to confess that I have only used one chopping board before now, giving it a quick rinse between meat and vegetables. The two board system is far more hygienic, and frankly if you still use a wooden chopping board for meat, you simply need to order yourself one of these immediately!
I really enjoyed using the board for the first time to cook a fab (if hot) chicken Red Thai Curry, which will also be reviewed here at Foodstuff Finds very soon. I found the boards a decent size, even for four chicken breasts, and they are light weight enough to easily slide the contents into a nice hot wok. It was good clean fun.
The Big Chopper’s humours nature makes it an ideal gift too, it lets you enjoy cooking and inadvertently practise good kitchen hygiene. It stacks away neatly; you can either hang it in all its glory, or simply keep the two pieces separate and neatly pack them away. Did I mention the boards are dishwasher safer – which is an added bonus too.

Competition - NOW CLOSED
If you fancy having a Big Chopper, and want to win one:
Simply: Email: admin@foodstufffinds.co.uk with the subject: Comp
Either like Big Chopper on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebigchopper OR follow them on Twitter: @thebigchopper
It would be helpful if you told me which you did in the email! ;-)

Discount Code
The guys at The Big Chopper have also kindly offered a very special deal for all our readers. If you go to their website www.thebigchopper.co.uk and buy a Big Chopper you’ll get a bread or fish board worth £9.99 absolutely free! Simply add a Big Chopper and your choice of board to your shopping cart, then use the promotional code: CHOPPERDQ9BWDFE during the checkout process to receive your chosen board for free!

Their website: www.thebigchopper.co.uk
Twitter: @thebigchopper
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebigchopper

• Any personal data will only be used for processing of this competition.
• One winners will be chosen at random from email entries who have also followed Big Chopper either on Facebook or Twitter.
• Competition closes 8pm on 24th February 2011.
• If I can’t get in touch with the winner in a reasonable amount of time to obtain an address another winner will be selected.
• If you have any questions about this competition, please send me an email or leave a comment below.

10 February 2011

73% Cocoa Dark Drinking Chocolate [The Chocolate Alchemist] [by @NLi10]

As it's a bit chilly at the moment I thought I'd catch up on a few things that I've been snacking on in the colder months. This hot chocolate was bought for me as a gift a while back and I saved it for the winter. It's similar to the Hotel Chocolat style hot chocolates in that this is shavings of real, dark chocolate instead of a powder. The packaging also unusually encourages you to make the drink up 'short' (1 part choc to 2 parts milk) as shots of very strong dark chocolate.

I've drunk it like this and it really does satisfy the chocolate cravings and warm you up quite quickly. I would advise sipping though, as like an espresso it's better to savour the intense flavours. I tend to make this up with double the milk and drink it 'long' like a standard hot chocolate, making it up on the hob for maximum creamy effect. This means that while the flavour isn't as intense the packet goes a lot further, and the flavour is still much stronger than your typical hot chocolate. You do have to heat the milk up quite high to get all the flakes to melt as some of them will stubbornly hide at the bottom unless heated and stirred vigorously.

Where as the Gingerbread hot choc I reviewed last by Hotel Chocolat was more about the spice and the smell this is all about the dark chocolaty hit which makes this my favourite hot chocolate at the moment. There are also recipe suggestions on the box such as using the flakes in other puddings & drinks, but they are too nice to blend in with other flavours and I think I'll keep them for when I really need heating up with a hot chocolate from my earthenware Hamburg Christmas market mug.
by NLi10

9 February 2011

Opies Pickled Walnuts in Malt Vinegar (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

Opies have been around since 1880. That should be enough time to perfect the recipe for these pickled walnuts. Having said that, 130 years should be enough time to perfect anything to be honest! The walnuts Opies use are harvested before they form their shells. The walnuts are cooked and then marinated in malt vinegar. The rather smart jar that these pickled walnuts are wedged into states proudly how pickled walnuts can go with anything from cheeses, cold meats, and salads, as well as diced in pasta, meat and game dishes. Black in colour, these explosive walnuts are soft and tender. I say "explosive" as I picked up the first one with a fork and tried to bite it black vinegar spurted in all directions. I managed to save my shirt, but not my chin or my pride. It’s best to cut these soft fat wet walnuts on a plate. They have a good sweet nutty spice, followed by a sour acidic taste from the malt vinegar. This is one of the best healthy pickled snack foods I have tried to date and will go well on every cheese, meat and pickles spread I have from now on.
By Spectre

8 February 2011

Rice Krispies [Limited Edition] Squares Red Nose Day (Boots) [By @cinabar]

When I first saw these in Boots, they were at the checkout and I was just about to finalise my payment. I was just doing one final visual scout round of the chocolate stacked up under the till, and the bright Comic Relief packaging caught my eye. I only scanned the packaging for a few seconds, but I thought that this was a limited edition bar with some sort of red Smarties style sweet making up the topping. When I came to open the pack, I soon realised that the red dots were just crispy corn coloured red. The bars do look very pretty, and are perfect for Red Nose day – but it doesn’t differ in flavour (or texture) from the ordinary milk chocolate Rice Krispies Squares. Having said that it still delivered a nice chewy, sweet chocolaty hit and it is nice to feel that I was supporting Comic Relief.
Snackers are also reminded that the lovely new Walkers varieties, named after comedians, are also made for Comic Relief. It’s nice to see big companies supporting charitable events, and I’ll certainly be buying myself a discreet Red Nose Day pin badge too. I’m not sure I’d get away with one of the new red monster noses at work! ;-)
By Cinabar

7 February 2011

Snickers Maximus [UK Limited Edition] (WH Smiths) [By @Cinabar]

I’m always excited to find a new chocolate bar out in the UK, and a Limited Edition is always going to get my purchase. This particular Snickers bar has done away with the usual nougat layer in order to leave room for an extra helping of caramel and peanuts. As someone who is a fan of such flavours, I have to say this bar really worked for me. I realise that the nougat adds a variation to the texture, with its firm base, but I thought the bar managed without. The caramel easily replaces any sweetness the nougat may have produced, and actually ups its game for those with a sweet tooth. I love all the extra peanuts mingling their salty nutty taste with the rich caramel and chocolate coating. It is a wholesome feeling bar, that tastes wonderfully substantial. I like the mix of textures, the caramel is soft, but not runny or oozing, it is solid enough to hold the bar together.
Spectre tried one of these bars, but he is one of ‘those’ people who aren’t that keen on nuts in chocolate. I asked him if he liked it, he said it would be better without the peanuts... I said you mean you want a MilkyWay Caramel – “yeah” he replied... I’m just not sure he gets Snickers!
For the rest of you, if you like nuts, chocolate and caramel, this new bar is going to be a total win. My only slight disappointment is the safe nature of this bar. In terms of a new release, it seems it is essentially a case of market research saying “The Brits like caramel, lets add more of that”. Yes it is a lovely bar, but I would love to see something a little more interesting in the new product lines. In other countries they have had Snickers Almond, Snickers Fudge and Snickers The Lot (with crispies in it), I’m a little bit jealous.
By Cinabar

Traditional Chocolate Lollies (vanillastick.com) [By @Cinabar]

I just wanted to do a shout out about these fabulous chocolate lollipops from Vanilla Stick http://www.vanillastick.com/ They are beautifully decorated and come in a wonderful selection of designs, do check out their website.
My first thought when I got these was do I bite in, and rush or take my time, eat it slowly and lick? The chocolate that they are made with is of a wonderful quality. It has a thick rich melt that coats the tongue nicely as you tuck in. The lollies have a good cocoa flavour offset by a smooth creaminess. If you are looking for a novel gift that really stands out, do have a look at their website. Vanilla Stick have taken chocolate art to another level, and with Valentines just around the corner, you really can’t go wrong.
By Cinabar

6 February 2011

Meiji Choco Beanshoots: Green Tea (CyberCandy) [By @NLi10]]

Hooray, More Green Tea!

These were a Christmas gift from my little sister (cool wrapping via Paperchase) and as there are not that many to the box I have been saving them up.

I'm not sure why but these are cones of biscuit covered in green-tea flavoured chocolate in the shape of an acorn. They are made in Japan though which possibly accounts for some of this madness. I love the little snack boxes they do - the individually wrapped items and the printing on the inside and outside of the box just adds to the special feeling you get from items like this. We really don't go the whole hog with luxury snacks in the UK and I think that people like Nestle are missing a trick or two by offering us bulk snacks but few grown up treats.

The little packets are tough to open but once inside the little sweets actually look pretty much identical to the pictures on the box. The chocolate is a little fondanty for most UK tastes, but it's similar to Pocky and has a taste like I would expect Green Tea Pocky to have. I did have to double check the flavour as it's not all that identifiable, but the aftertaste is certainly that of tea and really quite pleasant.

The biscuity centre is just there for texture and shape and doesn't intrude into the flavour. I got 7 in the box which is great as it's a lucky number (n_n) but bad as it doesn't leave much room for sharing (u_u). I always feel I'm missing out on part of the experience by not being able to read all the box but the CyberCandy import sticker helpfully translates the ingredients - maybe they could move on to translating the blurb so we can see if it's a health benefit snack, or just some fun facts.
By NLi10

5 February 2011

James White: Beet It – Organic Beetroot Juice (Westmoreland Service Station) [By @SpectreUK]

I have no idea what masochistic tendency drove me to pick this bottle up at the service station farm shop near Penrith. James White has been farm pressing fruit juices in Ipswich since 1993, with products such as Big Tom (the Queen’s favourite tomato juice), apple juice and ginger beer. This organic beetroot juice sounds like a nightmare to the tastebuds. Apparently 10% apple juice is added to this drink to dull down the earthy beetroot flavour. I know that Cinabar hates beetroot. The bottle proudly states that beetroot juice is a natural source of dietary nitrate. I noticed Cinabar heave a little at the earthy beetroot smell that filled the room when I opened the bottle. I realised pretty quickly from the overpowering smell that there was no way I could drink this slowly to savour the taste. Just imagine the purpled blood red liquid lapping at the sides staining the inside of the bottle, the thick gloopy air surrounding the plastic bottle rank with beetroot. I have to admit, I heaved a little myself. Taking a deep breath I downed the small bottle in one foul swoop. I managed to control my stomach as the beetroot juice poured into my throat. There was no trace of apple juice that I could identify, only the hard earthy taste of beetroot. I have no idea what it would taste like without the edge taken off it by apple juice, and I dread to think. On the upside each bottle sold donates 1p to the William Harvey Research Institute, which is a centre for blood pressure and cardio-vascular research. On the downside Cinabar refused to kiss me for the rest of the evening, the inside of my mouth was stained a reddish purple and I couldn’t get the taste of beetroot out of my mouth for over an hour (milk helps, orange juice was useless…). The things I do for Foodstuff Finds!!
By Spectre

4 February 2011

Original Smoked Back Bacon Butty [Feasters] [By @Cinabar]

Bacon is one of the world’s greatest flavours, its smoky meatiness makes it such a simple pleasure. Feasters have created this microwavable bacon butty, so it’s easy to have a bacon sarnie while on the go.
Inside the pack is a bread bun filled with two generous rashers of bacon and a sachet of tomato sauce. You have to take the bacon butty out of the pack to microwave it, so I placed it on a plate, and zapped it for the required minute. Once it was hot, I opened up the butty, spread the ketchup on one side of the bread, and reassembled it. The bacon was lovely and meaty and fresh, the ketchup added a required sweet tang, and the whole sandwich made for a lovely tasty lunch. The only negative point I found was that the bread became slightly heavier than regular bread when it was cooked, giving it a slightly chewier texture. It is to be expected though, that texture is common on bread that has been in the microwave.
I love bacon, and really enjoyed this bacon butty. It was quick and easy to prepare, and is perfect for when I’m at work – where the only cooking equipment is just a microwave. Now if they could just pack the smell of frying bacon in that box too, that would be perfect!

Competition and Newsletter Reminder

I just wanted to remind everyone that there is a fab Foodstuff Finds Weekly Email Newsletter! Everyone who is subscribed to it as at 8pm 10th Feb will be entered into the competition to win this really sweet money box robot, which also has some liquorice sweets hiding within. If you are already a subscriber, there is no need to do anything – you have already entered. If you wish to subscribe:

Click above or email:
with "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line

• Any personal data will only be used for processing of this competition.
• One winners will be chosen at random from newsletter subscribers as at
8pm on 10th February 2011
• Competition closes 8pm on 10th February 2011.
• If I can’t get in touch with the winner in a reasonable amount of time to obtain an address another winner will be selected.
• If you have any questions about this competition, please send me an email or leave a comment below.

3 February 2011

Organic Cha Soba Green Tea Noodles [by @NLi10]

I like products that combine two different things that I like. These things do not have to be logical, or naturally sit together on the food system. For example did you know that tuna and chocolate toasties are really nice? It's milk chocolate obviously - white chocolate goes better with ham! Also peanut butter & chocolate spread go well together on a sandwich or toastie, this combination also freaks people out until you remind them of the existence of Snickers and then they seem to understand. Sometimes crazy flavours can become the norm.

Here we have noodles that contain green tea. They are strong enough in flavour so that when you boil them it smells like you have made tea. As I had visitors when I made them the first time I have not yet drunk the water to see how strong the flavour is, but it certainly felt like I was pouring tea away when I drained them.

Flavour wise these are great. The tea taste is authentic and not overpowering and adds a fantastic base note to whatever delights you stir fry to go with them. You only get 3 portions in a pack so I'm going to have to remember which of my many little oriental shops I found these in and go back for more.

I wouldn't eat these every day, they are fairly pricy compared to other dry noodles, but as a special treat or to pep up an otherwise ordinary meal these are perfect.
by NLi10

2 February 2011

Tic Tac Cherry Passion (WH Smith) [By @SpectreUK]

First produced in 1969, Tic Tacs have been available in their flip top transparent plastic boxes ever since. Each box usually weighs around 18g and has roughly 36 Tic Tacs inside. In the past flavours have ranged from peppermint to chocolate, and cinnamon to raspberry. My favourite flavour has always been orange flavour. Boring maybe, but I like to thinks it’s traditional, as the orange flavour was always the most available when I was a youngster. These Cherry Passion Tic Tacs have been brought out recently. They have red coloured Tic Tacs for the cherry flavour and bright yellow Tic Tacs for the passionfruit flavour. The cherry Tic Tacs have a fresh cherry flavour to them that’s not overpowering or distasteful, which as a cherry flavouring hater I was pleasantly surprised by. The passionfruit has a good fruity flavouring that’s also not too strong. When added together both the Tic Tac flavours complement each other very well and I soon found myself dumping both flavours into my mouth quite happily. I was also reminded that two Tic Tacs can still wedge each other in tight when they get side by side in the transparent box. There was no way I could get my finger in the top flap, so I had to use a biro top to release them like I used to when I was a lad. Ah! The good old days…
By Spectre