30 April 2011

TeaPigs [English Breakfast / Chilli Tea / Chocolate Flake Tea) (Harvey Nichols) [By @SpectreUK]

Although beer is my favourite drink, tea is definitely my favourite non-alcoholic drink. Tea has its advantages over beer. You can drink as much as you like and still drive, and also you don’t get yelled at by the missus as you can’t get plastered on tea. Teapigs started out in 2006. They have a range of teas in every colour you can think of from black, green, white, red (Rooibos), blue (Oolong) and Herbal tea. They also sell teapots, mugs and a range of gadgets and accessories, such as the Loose Leaf Infuser and the Infusing Wheel (which sounds a bit like a Chinese tea torture device).

I was impressed by the professional look of the packaging for these three tea blends. Though there are three tea temples in each tin, which means there is an awful lot of packaging for just nine bags of tea. However, it does say on the bottom of the plastic box to reuse the tins or recycle them, which is a comfort. Teapigs’ website also states that they use environmentally friendly packaging, so the plastic will end up in the recycling bag later…

English Breakfast - Morning Glory

There is a cockerel on the front of the tin to help you get in the waking up mood. This tea is made from a blend of Rwandan, Assam and Ceylon tea. After infusing for around three minutes and adding a spot of milk, I let the drink cool for a few more minutes. On drinking I could easily taste the hardened edge of Assam, followed by a sharp kick that was a taste I was unfamiliar with. I suspect that this taste was the blended Rwandan. These two flavours brushing together in the mouth really enliven the senses with each mouthful, this wake up taste then gently smoothes out with Ceylon. It’s an ingenious blend of tea that is a real treat to wake up to. It’s just a shame I only have two temples left now…

Chilli Tea – Drink it Raw

The fire extinguisher on the front of the tin raised some alarm bells for this tea. I’ve tried chilli chocolate and chilli beer, but not chilli tea. Without tasting I can’t tell whether it’s a good idea, but it is innovative, as I’ve never seen chilli flavoured tea before. This innovativeness could either be considered as brave or foolish. Sometimes you just shouldn’t do something, even if it hasn’t been done before. It suggests on the tin that you can drink this with or without milk. I decided to try it with milk to start with and perhaps drink one without milk later. Ceylon tea has been blended with orange peel, chilli pieces and natural orange flavouring. The tin suggests you try it with a slice of orange also, but I thought that there was enough orange in the ingredients without adding any more.

There is a strong orange smell to this beverage that worryingly screams of Beechams. Fortunately the drink itself actually tastes like tea that’s been flavoured with orange, rather than an orange flavoured remedy for a bad cold. Unlike the smoothness at the end of each mouthful of the English Breakfast blend, there is a light bite of chilli at the back of the mouth. Still the orange flavour threatens to overpower when breathing in the aroma before every taste. Just before my tastebuds differentiated between the tea and the orange flavour and a sinking feeling took over, the chilli bite snapped me out of it. Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea mixed with chilli may help to alleviate the smell and strong taste of orange, whilst still giving the chilli bite I actually started to look forward to at the end of every mouthful.

Chocolate Flake Tea - Melt Away

Chocolate mixed with coffee works for some, for me only in coffee flavoured chocolates. Coffee mixed with tea doesn’t work at all – come on, we’ve all tried it once and it’s revolting! Chocolate mixed with tea? A few months ago I’d have said that was a silly idea, yet a few months ago I said that chocolate beer was a silly idea, and look where that got me! However, I’m just not at all keen on the idea of chocolate mixed with tea. The tea bag smells quite strongly of chocolate, which is small wonder considering the tin claims that there are cocoa beans and chocolate flakes mixed in with the tea. In the absence of cream I had to opt for milk, having just finished my lunch I couldn’t help thinking that this drink could go down very well indeed or alternatively be a complete disaster. As with all these blends the tin recommended 3 minutes infusion, so I gave it roughly three minutes to infuse.

This beverage does smell of chocolate and you could be mistaken for drinking a hot chocolate if you close your eyes and just whiff, yet the liquid looks like a regular cup of tea. There is no froth, no brown glop to mix in, you just remove the tea temple and let it cool. On tasting I was pleased to find out that I was wrong again; you can mix chocolate with tea and get away with it. If you hate those rotten powdered chocolate drinks or the ones you have to mess around with boiling milk and then adding a blob of chocolate that never properly mixes in, then this is the drink for you. This drink is perfect for a late night hot drink before bed or a hot drink for pudding after a good hearty meal. There is a decent hit of tea with every mouthful wrapped lovingly around by a cocoa flavour that never overpowers the tea. The cocoa flavour respects the tea, pulling out the tea flavour without being sickly sweet, yet the cocoa still dances on the tastebuds as if it was always meant to be there. I don’t usually like a pudding, but I do like a hot drink of tea after a meal and this is absolutely perfect for a required chocolate hit, without the guilt of added fat on my belly. This Chocolate Flake Tea should be in every restaurant. I’ve found my perfect hot pudding drink and simply have to get more of this chocolate tea! And if I drink loads of it; I won’t put weight on, I can still drive and I won’t get yelled at for slurring or falling asleep in strange places!
By Spectre

29 April 2011

Royal Wedding Special

Today is a bit special for the British monarchy with the marriage of Wills and Kate, and the excitement has filtered down to the food industry too. Most goodies seemed to be the regular items repackaged with a special Limited Edition wrapper, and most of those seem to be aimed at people having street parties, such as things like cocktail sausages and lemonade (blue writing on silver, not the easiest thing to photograph)!

I popped into Marks and Spencer’s just before Easter and surprisingly couldn’t find much in the nature of Royal Wedding merchandise, but on the bank holiday after Easter there was a very different story! I found bunting, and flags, biscuits tins and all manner of edible wonders.
Here is my haul:

I couldn’t resist the lovely patriotic milk chocolate lollipops to eat while watching the wedding, you can wave them too as they work as mini flags. ;-)

I also found these white chocolate ‘Jazzies’ decorated in red, white and blue. I must have eaten these sweets a hundred times, but today is the first time I’ve learnt their name. It has always been ‘can I have a quarter of them’ and then me pointing at the jar in the sweet shop, but from now on I shall know what to ask for. The white chocolate base in these Jazzies is of a much better quality to any I had as a kid, so they do feel quite posh and acceptable to share with friends.

Finally come the most imaginative offering from M&S in these ‘New Royals’. They play on looking like a miniature bag of Jersey Royal New Potatoes, but do have a sneaky “not what it seems” quote on the front. In fact they are strawberries dipped in white chocolate, and made to look like potatoes. Quite a clever idea, and they really did make me smile.

Chopping one in half I found that the strawberry had the slight crunch of a freeze dried fruit, but it isn’t possible to make this product on mass with fresh fruit. The strawberry tasted lovely and sweet and the creamy marbled white chocolate set it off well. It’s a novelty, but a really lovely one.

Hope everyone enjoys this remarkably patriotic day – and everyone here at Foodstuff Finds sends the happy couple all the best. Have a great day everyone! :-)
By Cinabar

28 April 2011

Spanish Round-up [Sweets/Chocolate] [by @NLi10]

I thought it was worth rounding up the last few finds from Spain. These were actually the first bunch of snacks I bought from a small sweet shop in Granada that must have thought I was a bit crazy (about half of the haul is pictured).

First we have a bottle of Aquarius, but I covered that in detail in a past review.

Then we have the Filipinos. These are little dark chocolate rings with biscuit inside. The covering is nice and the hole adds to the experience but they aren't anything too special. They come in 3 flavours so are possibly quite popular. The remains of the packet made it home demonstrating that while enjoyable I just didn't click with these.

I remember Lila Pause from previous visits to the continent and TV adverts from Sky TV international stations of years gone by. I should have bought a few more of these as the softer-than-Aero fruity centre is really a treat. I'd happily buy these in the UK.

Tokke is a Euro style wafer bar, surprisingly without caramel but it is all the better for it. I think it should have slotted in with the Leo and Kit-Kat reviews but it's probably more substantial than either of those. While it was filling and enjoyable I'd rather have biscuit than wafer I think so I'm unlikely to have it again.

The Fresquito looks fun but I still haven't tried it. It seemed a good idea in the store but wandering around towns with a lolly & sherbet is probably not typical tourist fare.

As an addition here is an example of the packed lunches we got on the Super-Economy busses between towns. In the UK you'd pay far more for the ticket and get a cramped bus that smelt like the on-board toilets. In Spain the bus has aircon, movie, free WiFi, headphones, 3 to a row reclining leather seats & enough leg-room for a 6'4" person like me.

The peanuts were nice, the biscuits were a bit dry and the water wasn't Aquarius, but included in the low price it was a great addition to the service and I'd recommend using the Super-Economy intercity bus services if you happen to be out that way.
by NLi10

27 April 2011

Choccie Dodgers & Toffee Dodgers [Biscuits] (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

Jammie Dodgers are a remarkably popular biscuit in the UK, known for the rich red sticky jam filling. The biscuits have a bit of an iconic status, particularly as the new Doctor Who seems to rather like them too. Last season he tried to convince the Daleks that a Jammie Dodger was the self destruct button on the Tardis, and just last week, during a crisis, he stated that he needed "a SWAT team ready to mobilize, street level maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 Jammy Dodgers and a fez." as his itinerary.
Although I digress the point is they are a well loved biscuit over here, and are famed for their jammie content. These are the first Dodger editions that I have seen that don’t actually contain any jam! It’s quite exciting, new editions of Jammie Dodgers don’t come out that often anyway and I found two on the supermarket shelves.

Choccie Dodgers - Double Chocolate
The double chocolate in the title, refers to the fact that not only is there chocolate in the centre of these biscuits, there is also cocoa in the biscuit base. Having said all that, the chocolate flavour wasn’t really very strong at all. The biscuit was pleasant, but the cocoa was a little mild for my tastes and expectations from a chocolate biscuit. The filling in the centre was smooth, creamy and really quite soft – there was none of that classic stickiness that you associate with Jammie Dodgers. If I had one of these biscuits in a mixed tin, I’d think it was a nice chocolaty biscuit, but I wouldn’t associate it with the beloved brand.

Toffee Dodges – Sticky Toffee
When I opened the packet I immediately had more hope for this new version as there was a lovely toffee smell emancipating from the wrapper. The biscuits were made with the usual shortcake base and had a fresh baked flavour. The toffee filling was gorgeous, rich with hints of caramel, brown sugar, and butter. The texture was spot on too, it was soft but sticky and needed pulling away when you took a bite - perfect.

I honestly thought I would prefer the chocolate version of these biscuits, as I am quite a chocolate fiend. However the rich flavours of the toffee blended so well with the creamy biscuit base that it was hard not to love them. Toffee Dodgers are a new variety of the biscuit but they still kept to the Jammie Dodger ethos, where as I felt the chocolate ones stepped away from this and became more of a generic biscuit.
By Cinabar

26 April 2011

Chai Spices: Spiced Indian Tea (Setonaikai.co.uk) [By @Cinabar]

I am a big fan of spiced teas as I am sure I have mentioned many times on the blog before. I usually buy spiced tea bags, and Twinings Chai is one of my favourites. I am aware that the correct way to make Indian tea involves hot milk and spices, but I always resort to the tea bag for simplicity’s sake.
Although the packet states “Spiced Indian Tea” a more clear description would be “Spices for Indian Tea”. The product doesn’t actually contain any tea, it is a mix of spices, predominantly ginger. The idea is that you add a half a teaspoon to a pot of regular tea, or a pinch to each mug.
I went for the pinch per mug to start with and rather over estimated what a pinch is – the tea was so strong I had to start again! This time I opted for a non scientific measurement of a “tiny pinch”, and got a much better result. To be fair the pack states that it contains 150 servings per pouch, so that should have given me a clue that I only needed a very small amount.
The spices added a lovely warmth to the drink, with the ginger working remarkably well with the black tea. There was also a bite from the black pepper, but the cloves helped direct the flavours to a warmth rather than heat. This was except for the very last mouthful of tea, which is where all the spices had accumulated and gave a bit of a kick for the last sip! Other than that, I felt the spices really enhanced the tea, and made a lovely warming drink. I know some people may associate it as a winter drink, but I think this Spiced Indian Tea is a pleasure that can be enjoyed any time of the year.
By cinabar

25 April 2011

Kelly’s Of Cornwall: Clotted Cream and Blackcurrants [Ice cream] (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

This fine ice cream caught my eye, as it is a bit of a strange concept. Everyone knows that you can easily buy strawberry or raspberry ripple ice cream, but blackcurrant is only found in the freezer cabinet in the form of sorbet. I just assumed that the sharpness of the fruit might make the milk curdle or something, in the same way you don’t get lemon ice cream?
These flavours were impossible as far as I was concerned up until last week when I saw this for sale! I was also rather excited as Kelly’s ice cream is something a bit special, their Clotted Cream variety is just ridiculously luxurious.
According to the title of the product the focus is very much on the clotted cream then the blackcurrants, and this is true of the flavour too. The blackcurrants are very much present, and do add a bite and plenty of natural flavour – but it isn’t as sharp as some blackcurrant products. The ice cream is not too sweet, and there is plenty of creamy taste, but I’d expect no less from Kelly’s! There are a decent amount of blackcurrant bits in the ice cream that add an extra bit of zing and break up the flavour nicely.
I thought that this was a really different treat, and totally enjoyed it. The strength of the blackcurrant is very much soothed by the cream, but it is still a lovely Summer treat. Spectre commented that he still preferred blackcurrant sorbet because it has a much stronger blackcurrant hit, but I felt it made a lovely refreshing change to the usual selection of ice creams.
By Cinabar

24 April 2011

Easter Round-up - Thorntons, Cadbury, Maltesers/Caramel [by @NLi10]

Easter in the snack world means one thing - chocolate! As I'm not a massive fan of chocolate I still have Easter products left from previous years, I enjoy it but only when I'm in the right mood. Here are the most Eastery chocolate things I have consumed recently.

Thorntons Praline Melt Egg

This tiny thing, about the size of a Cadbury Creme Egg (pens included for scale, but focusing wasn't really working) is a very edible little treat. Usually these eggs are full of something heavy like caramel or the Creme Egg itself and while a pleasure to eat one is more than enough. This however is a feather-light treat, and as the runny centre is best consumed quickly to avoid spillage one that is over all too quickly. The combination of the quality chocolate & praline is a taste explosion I could have happily eaten two or maybe three of these in one sitting. As it was a gift I'm not sure how expensive these are, but I think I'll be checking for post Easter sales on these.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Clinkers

I enjoy Cadbury's chocolate but I'd never just buy a bar of Dairy Milk to eat. I have a few cubes here and there of other peoples, and the little Celebrations size versions are more the correct portion size for biscuit loving me. This however is something I'd be tempted to pick up. I think this was a gift (it's chocolate so it's likely) probably from Cyber Candy or similar as this isn't a high-street brand and I've not heard of 'clinkers' before. The multicoloured candy within this bar is fruit flavoured but not sour like the equivalent UK candy of Nerds which is at first underwhelming, but actually works as a nice edge to the chocolate. This combination of fruit and soft, melty Cadbury's chocolate caused me to eat the bar in two sittings - and I have over 10 choc bars in various stages of consumption that I've had for much longer. If this was available in newsagents I'd love a 40-50g bar for a single portion of out and about chomping.

Amazingly Inventive Cake featuring Maltesers Bunny & Caramel Bunny

I can take no credit for this one - it's made by my cousin (@xCuteKrazyKayx on Twitter) for her niece's first birthday party. While I didn't actually get chance to eat any of this I thought the use of the stylish Maltesers Bunny and (I'm only 90% sure this is) the Cadbury Caramel Bunny as a simple but effective Easter style cake was too good to not mention. White mice are always a nice touch too. Anyone looking for an Easter cake could probably find all the bits for this long after the pre-made Easter cakes are gone from the supermarket and for a more reasonable price.

Anyway - have a fantastically fab Easter and now I have to try and eat all the chocolate before the next one rolls around!
By @Nli10

23 April 2011

Haribo Eggstras & Tangfast Chicks – What came first, the chicken or the egg? (Tesco) [By Spectre]

Easter is here again. Store shelves are covered from bottom to top with a multitude of brightly coloured chocolate eggs from every variety. I decided to break with the norm and try something different. Besides, I’ve recently changed job and it now takes me longer to travel back and forth. I’ve fallen into the trap of eating sweets on the train as a sugar energy interim before dinner. It’s difficult to eat a huge chocolate egg on a packed commuter train and small packets of sweets such as these Haribo’s fit in my pocket easily. Consequentially, Not only have I rediscovered my sweet tooth, but my waist size is increasing again. Ho hum…

Haribo Eggstras
These are Fried Eggs from the Haribo Starmix. They are sweet gums in the quaint shape of miniature fried eggs. They have a healthy hint of orange and mango and have no artificial colours. There’s lemon and passion fruit in the ingredients too. Although these two flavours seem to take a backseat to the stronger orange and mango flavours. I found these to be very pleasant and surprisingly healthy tasting gums.

Haribo Tangfast Chicks
These are described as “sour mix” and “fizzy fruit flavoured foam gums”. They are Chicken shaped. Hence the Tangfast Chicks name given to them. On opening the packet I noticed that they had not been counted equally, and I only had two green to taste test. Glancing at the back of the packet I noticed the ingredients included apple, aronia, blackcurrant, elderberry, mango, grape, kiwi, lemon, nettle, orange, passion fruit, and spinach. Funny mix there, especially the spinach and nettle! There were four colours of sour sugar coated gums. On remembering just how sour Haribo gums can be, my fingers dove excitedly into the packet.
The white colour gum is clearly supposed to be lemon flavour. It tastes like lemon, but surprisingly not too sour, rather sweeter and sugary, certainly not unpleasant, just not sour enough. Usually lemon flavour is the sourest in any sour pack of sweets, so I began to worry a little. The red colour is predominantly blackcurrant flavour with a decent portion of elderberry. The red colour was sweet, with a distinctive pleasant taste, but also not really sour. The green colour followed suite as an obvious apple flavour, just not very sour. The orange colour was unsurprisingly orange flavour, but there was little sourness there also. All the gums became slightly sourer the more I ate, but definitely a tame version of sour sweets that didn’t make me twisty faced at any point.

To the question, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” I have to answer the Tangfast Chicks, but only by a narrow margin. If they’d made my tongue twist with a stronger sourness, they’d have been clear winners.

Happy Easter everyone!!
By Spectre

22 April 2011

Caramel Chocolate Double Crunch Bunny (Marks & Spencers) [By @Cinabar]

Easter is nearly on its way, and if you are looking for a last minute stocking filling I think you should take a peak in M&S. There were quite a few lovely goodies in there, but it was these chocolate bunnies by the till that caught my eye. I had only popped in to purchase a couple of boring groceries, but I guess that is why they put the temptations next to the queue!
At first I thought they were just caramel filled, but then I realised that they had an extra bonus and contained chocolate truffle and crispy pieces too. I opened up the bright yellow wrapper, and found a very sweet looking chocolate bunny. I liked the detail on the moulding; even the whiskers were neatly present. Obviously the next thing I did was bit his head off... well you sort of have too!
The chocolate was sweet and creamy and left a thick rich melt in the mouth. The caramel was really good, it was buttery with a hint of salt and managed to add a lovely toffee tone to the overall flavour. The other half of the rabbit contained a rich dark chocolate truffle that was full of cocoa taste, and has what seemed to be specks of rice crispy pieces to give texture.
I have to say it was an impressively posh and enjoyable Easter treat, well worth checking out. :-)
By Cinabar

21 April 2011

Spanish Kinder Chocolate [Kinder Sorpresa and Délice] [by @NLi10]

When on holiday in a warm country the last thing on my mind is getting hold of some squishy, melty chocolate. When in a supermarket near the end of our stay I spotted that the Kinder Surprise were called Kinder Sorpresa - which I am guessing translates the same but in my head says 'Children Suppressor'. As this is essentially what the product is (10 mins peace and quiet for a Euro) I thought it'd be fun to get one and see if the toys are similar to the UK.

I remember in the good old days I visited Germany and as it was near Easter you could buy an egg-box with a dozen of these in for what seemed like really cheap compared to the UK where Kinder always seems at the high end of the impulse snack market. These days though as this confirms it's pretty much the same all over with international toys and pricing to go with it.

We got a fun flying top toy which amazingly didn't get lost in the hotel room and made it home. I had the chocolate for breakfast one day and it was simple & creamy the same as always. Nice, but always seems to catch the back of your throat for some reason. Anyway, it kept me occupied for a good while (until I found the Spanish commentary version of the wresting on the TV anyway).

Tacked on at the end here is another Spanish but German choc item. This is a Kinder product so I'd expected it to be quite durable, but it's essentially a really soft cake bar. I took the pics and put it in my bag and it got a bit destroyed by all the cameras and gadgets. It was still edible and actually quite nice and soft and moist, but it's not really one to take around town. I suggest that this is one to have at home with a cup of tea instead of a slice of homemade cake. As I say, very enjoyable but didn't travel well.

Also if they released it in the UK they'd have to change the name I guess. I didn't see any people with lice, but I suspect that a bar that essentially says 'children de-lice' may not be a marketing departments dream. Probably depends on the children in question.
By Nli10

20 April 2011

Aero Biscuits (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

Aero seem to be expanding their range; we’ve seen everything from Aero Lambs through to the re-launch of Aero Orange in recent months. The idea of an Aero biscuit is something altogether new though, and could be seen as them branching out. That is until you open the pack and break one in half. Although the packet clearly labels these as biscuits, the product seems to be an individually wrapped mini bar of Aero containing mainly chocolate.
The bars are half Aero bubbly chocolate, and half solid chocolate with a few sporadic pieces of biscuit within. There is enough for the biscuit to add a crunch to the texture, but not enough in my mind for them to be labelled as actual biscuits.
The chocolate is what you would expect, the usual milky sweet but standard Aero flavour, and the biscuit does add a pleasant shortbread taste. I liked the crunch, and these mini bars were pleasant enough, if you are a fan of Aero I think you will like the new concept. If you are looking for a new biscuit, you may well be disappointed. My only niggle is the size of the bar, and I know if I’m not careful this will end up sounding like yesterdays McVities post, but it still has to be said. The bars are mini bars, they really are quite small. There is quite a lot of packaging to individually wrap small chunks of chocolate, and although they are just 99 calories I found myself fancying two!
Anyone else tried these? What did you think? Philosophical thought: When is a biscuit a bar of chocolate, and when does a chocolate bar contain enough biscuit to be considered an actual biscuit?
By Cinabar

19 April 2011

McVities Temptations (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

I saw these new biscuits in Tesco, and thought they might be a nice lunch box treat, as they are packaged in pairs. They are a new range of luxury biscuits, for indulgence and proudly state they are made with Belgian chocolate.
The pack and even the name point you towards a lavish treat, which made me slightly disappointed when I opened the box. They are clearly designed to be eaten in pairs as there are two in each packet, but that doesn't consist of much of a portion. The biscuits are mini biscuits, and are more akin in size to a taster or sampler than an indulgence. They may be called Temptations but if you were feeling tempted into eating something naughty, I wonder if you’d stop at just one sachet?

Milk Chocolate and Praline
I am a big fan of praline, so was keen to try these biscuits. Despite the size I have to say the biscuits were very nice. They had a good rich chocolate flavour, a lovely crunchy biscuit base and loads of hazelnut taste too. I liked the mix of textures and felt that the praline shone through really well. Despite being small, the biscuits packed in a lot of taste and were really quite nice.

White Chocolate and Truffle
These too were nice biscuits, although the white chocolate coating was mild in flavour, the darker truffle flavour added a fair cocoa hit. Again I liked the mix of textures, and it was an enjoyable treat. I think I might be biased but the praline version had the edge for me as the flavours were more defined, and yes, I do like the nuttiness.

These new Temptations are nice biscuits, and if you are looking for portion control, you do sort of feel obliged to only eat two. Each biscuit had 50 calories, so the pair are just 100 which is a very acceptable treat. The greedy part of me on the other hand thinks that if I’m going to buy luxury biscuits, I would really like them to be full size and feel a bit more substantial.
By Cinabar

18 April 2011

Yeo Valley Organic Ice cream (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]

Yeo Valley is a big brand in British yoghurt, and they have numerous flavours available, but this is the first time I’ve seen them in the ice cream cabinet at the supermarket. To be fair the vanilla is indeed an ice cream, but the tub of strawberry is a lower fat frozen yoghurt which I guess makes sense. I am a big fan of frozen yoghurt, as it has lots of flavour but a lot less fat, but the availability of it is always a bit low in the UK.
I pulled back the lid of the two pots and was surprised at the paleness of the colours of the contents. Vanilla is always quite light, but the strawberry was one very pale shade of pink. At least it wasn’t filled with colourings, and I guess frozen yoghurt is aimed at the adult market so doesn’t need the child pleasing colours.

Strawberry Frozen Creamy Yogurt
Not only is the colour natural, but the flavour is too. The strawberry is sweet, fresh and expresses the flavour of the berries perfectly. There is a wonderful creaminess mixed in, and Spectre commented that it reminded him of posh theatre ice cream. When I let some melt in my mouth fully it had quite a thin finish, but still managed to taste rather creamy. I think people would be hard pushed to spot that this is a lower fat product as it is luxury in taste, and rather like eating strawberries and cream.

Madagascan Vanilla
This ice cream really made me smile. So often I eat a product that is vanilla flavoured but it has one of two problems, firstly some use artificial vanilla and secondly some have no vanilla taste as vanilla is some company’s code for ‘plain’. Yeo Valley did not let me down in this way, their vanilla extract is organic and the flavour is good and strong. Strong vanilla is fabulous, it’s like caramel, cream and brown sugar with an aromatic hit – it is a taste that should not be underestimated and Yeo Valley understands that. If you are a lover of vanilla, this ice cream won’t fail to please you, it shows you how vanilla can shine as a flavour in its own right. The ice cream base is thicker than the strawberry and the creamy texture just shouts luxury. Truly a pleasing tub if ice cream.

I love these new Yeo Valley ice desserts, and I think they are going to be strong competition to the other brands on the shelf. With a bit of luck they will bring out some more of the lower fat frozen yogurts too as these have a full calorie taste without the full calorie hit. It is something that the UK market is really lacking, and there is an excellent opportunity for a brand like Yeo Valley to really take off.
By Cinabar

17 April 2011

Frigo Pie & Cornetto Enigma [Spain] [by @NLi10]

Sometimes it's just too darn hot and a drink won't cut it so like all good tourists I resorted to ice-creams.

This one is a bit of an indulgence on my part - I know we have these in the UK. I used to eat them all the time as a kid. Essentially it's ice-cream on a stick - a choc ice without the choc. Frigo Pie translates as Frozen Foot, but I think they are called Funny Feet in the UK. All the foot-print including individual toes are represented and the strawberry ice-cream is as unpretentious and refreshing as I remember. This is only one step up from a mini-milk in terms of price but it's a little luxury and a great one for kids and grown-ups alike. I ate mine while queuing to go into La Alhambra in Granada. This is one of the only days where my pictures feature clouds.

Back in Seville I spotted a kind of Cornetto I'd never seen - Cornetto Enigma. This particular one was Vanilla, Chocolate and Raspberry I think. Not only did it have the usual Cornetto features of choc on the wafer and decent ice-cream, but it had a thread of red running down the centre and lots of hard choc and mini red bits floating around in it. This is much more akin to the Magnum super deluxe range in the UK which come in their own special box. Hot countries have much better store-bought ices in the soft scoop ranges so to compete the brands have upped their game and produced things that are superior to the UK versions. While I enjoyed this it wasn't really an ideal choice for wandering around and was much more about the experience and filling up rather than cooling down. I'd happily try the rest of the range though should they decide to brave the icy, icy summers of Britain.
By NLi10

16 April 2011

Brussels Red Fruit Beer (Waitrose) [inc List of Flavoured Beers] [By @SpectreUK]

Brewed by Belgian Beer Tradition this appears to be another fruit flavoured beer from Cinabar to torture me with. It came with a promise of several other less dangerous sounding beers as compensation, so who am I to complain? Just a lowly unpaid blog writer trying to make his way in life… Don’t believe me? Neither do I! Apparently the Belgians have been brewing this Barley Malt beer since 1905. That seems enough time to perfect anything, but I’ll find out on tasting. The label on the bottle has a summer theme to it, with old stone buildings surrounding a city centre (Brussels, I presume) market place, and in the midst of this glorious scene is an image of mixed strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants. Underneath this fruity image it states “red fruit”, which confused me a little on seeing the blueberries and blackcurrants, but nevermind… I know… I know… I’m stalling… on opening the beer and pouring it into an apprehensive glass I took note of the cloudy pinkish beverage. Taking a big sniff before drinking I could smell the fruitiness of the beer. Great, I thought, another overpowering alchopop friendly fruit beer that Cinabar will love and I will hate. Wrong! For the first time since trying fruit beers like raspberry, cherry and Timmerman’s, I could actually taste more beer than fruit, rather than a hint of beer behind the fruit or no beer taste at all. I could identify raspberry and strawberry with a hint of cherry in the flavour, but the fruitiness of this beer didn’t overpower me. This is one of the best fruit beers I have tasted and it would go well with a healthy fruit pudding or on it’s own for an after dinner treat. Although I’m unsure if I’d actively hunt this beer down again, it’ll go down in my invisible book of dodgy sounding beers that Cinabar has made me try that I liked; see Orange Peel, Thistle, Meantime chocolate, Raisin, Pumpkin, Chestnut, and Whiskey. Hah! That should take Cinabar an age to sort out all those links! Now who’s torturing who?
By Spectre

15 April 2011

Aquarius Natural and Naranja (feat. Hello Kitty Loops) [Spain] [by @NLi10]

Hot countries mean that I end up drinking a lot more than in the UK. I'm rarely without a bottle of water or similar, but when you are pottering around in heat breaking the record for steps in one day on your pedometer, it pays to think ahead and get something with a bit of sugar in it. On my recent trip to Spain the drink of choice was Aquarius.

This is made by the Coca Cola people but is actually not fizzy and pretty refreshing. I'm sure there is a UK equivalent but I'm not sure I've found it yet. It's nowhere near as sweet as Powerade and doesn't taste like a 'diet' drink so it's more like the isotonics such as IsoEnergy (which is hard to get outside of sports shops) but with a milder taste. I was convinced that the above can was some kind of feint lemon flavour, but the man in the park referred to it as 'natural' so I guess that is its official name. Once I'd learned not to say aquarius and to say agwarius it became a lot easier to ask for in shops.

This is the Naranja (or Orange) version of the drink and the flavour is stronger, but the effect is still the same. It's a nice mild yet sweet drink which is perfect for stashing away in man-bags and hotel minibar fridges for moments when you just need to drink copious amounts of water. I'd be interested in finding the UK version of this, mainly because the Pepsi & Coke in Spain is a slightly different mix and it'd be interesting to see if they sweeten this to match the British tastes.

In one of the many supermarkets I went SnackDiving in we found these:

As budget airways charge you £31 per bag I decided not to go overboard on the snacks and this was just too large to justify so we didn't buy it. Just the box itself is intriguing enough - not only is it official Kitty, but it's official Kellog's AND Limited Edition. Collectors will go crazy for stuff like this in years to come. As for me, the last think I need at breakfast time is for everything to be pink and full of sugar. If anyone sees this in the UK please let us know and I'll get my Kitty-Worshipping sister a box and see what she thinks.
By NLi10

14 April 2011

Super Sours and Cinnamon Fireball Jawbreakers (Traditional Sweets) [By @cinabar]

It seems that I have turned bringing in weird tasting items into work into a bit of a theme. I have taken is Seabrook’s Jacket Potato crisps (which are oddly sweet), I’ve let everyone experience the odd flavours of Hersheys and in the past even given my colleagues Haggis crisps to try. It seems that I’m not the only one bringing in goodies for the team.

My boss brought in some cinnamon sweets to try, and I absolutely love cinnamon so was keen to taste them. Don’t get me wrong, I was suspicious, so let one of the lads try one first. He confirmed that it was fine, so I had one too. It did have a lovely sweet warm taste, spicy and pleasant – but it was then that I noticed that the person who had tried one first seemed to now be suffering, and lo and behold, my mouth set on fire. It was just as well nobody rang the office during this little experiment as I think none of us would have been in a fit state to speak on the phone! I like cinnamon, but this was hot! So hot it was uncomfortable and came with a burn. Cinnamon was never meant to be this hot. After suffering on bravely for a few minutes, the flavour subsided into a more easy going palatable taste, and then turned into a small chunk of bubblegum as a reward for getting that far!

A few days later another of the lads brought in this innocent looking bag of sweets from a traditional sweet shop that had opened up near him. He had gone in asked for the sourest sweets they had, the ones which are only available on ‘special request’ and if you know the magic handshake. I picked out a red one, and was told that out of the two flavours red was the strongest. Yippee. I have tried War Heads and Toxic Waste before, so thought I knew what to expect with crazy sour flavours but nothing had quite prepared me for these! I think this is well and truly the sourest sweet I’ve tried, and wow it was bad. When I put it in my mouth it screamed sour at my taste buds, and I just didn’t want it to move in my mouth in case that meant the flavour would increase in some way. Obviously a stationary sweet doesn’t dissolve very fast so I felt obliged to move it a little with my tongue but it sent a shudder each time. My eyes were watering and I had hoped that the taste would subside but it really wasn’t. I moved the sweet some more, noticed that my tongue and roof of my mouth now hurt and involuntarily waved my hand in a hope of washing away the taste. Eventually the sour flavour gave way, but it took far longer than expected. Underneath was an acceptable berry taste, that was slightly sweet but seemed like a god send as it tried to bring back my taste buds from the brink of death. I’m sorry dear readers I didn’t try a lemon sweet. I did judge the reaction of my colleagues who did, they seemed to suffer in a similar way, with similar amounts of eye watering and expletives – so I think you get the idea! My mouth was sore for quite some time after eating one – so I’m quite glad I didn’t venture out for a second sweet!
Thanks to everyone at work for trying all the crazy goodies that we do – I wonder what will be next? ;-)
By Cinabar

13 April 2011

Smint 2 in 1 Raspberry and Lemon (Sainsbury’s) [By @cinabar]

These new flavour Smints come in a bright pink box, which proudly supports a very good charity. For every pack bought they are donating 5p to Breast Cancer Care, which means we are off to a good start with the product before even trying the sweets.
Smints are ‘tooth friendly’ as they are sugar free, and are, according to that back of the box “breath freshening micro sweets”. I give them the micro sweets part as they are indeed small, but I always think that mint is the most efficient breath freshener. I like fruit flavours though, and thought these would be nice to take to work to keep in my desk drawer. The sweets are in the usual Smint box, which I think is quite cute, you press the top down to dispense the contents out of the bottom. The sweets are two tone, half yellow and half pink, representing the mixed flavour of raspberry and lemon and are the usual triangular shape.
The flavour is surprisingly strong, with a very zingy fruit taste. The first flavour is like an intense raspberry that is sweet but full of flavour. It has a strong berry taste with a slightly floral hint. This develops into a zest lemon, which is strong and sharp. Impressively they are remarkably refreshing, and although not mint, really do pep the taste buds.
They make a cool summer treat, and the charity aspect gives them a feel good factor too. A nice addition to the Smint’s range.
By Cinabar

12 April 2011

Cadbury Dairy Milk Krushems (KFC) [By @Cinabar]

It has really been too long since my last visit to Kentucky Fried Chicken. I enjoy an occasional KFC, but I’m not sure why our last visit was such awhile ago. After a trip to the supermarket, we decided to pop in and make up for the delay. I was pleased to see the Tower burger was still on the menu, one of my favourite meals. Another poster caught my eye too, one for a Dairy Milk Krushem, well I thought it would be rude not too give their new drink a try too.
I could tell from the poster that there was an awful lot of chocolate packed into this milkshake style drink, but even so I hadn’t been expecting the straw to be so wide. I was curious about the straw but when I took a sip it made perfect sense, the ‘drink’ really is packed with chocolate, to the extent that my tongue was covered in chocolate drops with every mouthful. There is so much more chocolate than I was expecting, and yet the flavour was mostly creamy with a chocolate hit when you munched on the drops afterwards. I guess the explanation for the flavour is that the Dairy Milk is chilled so doesn’t emit all of its taste until it warmed up in the mouth. The drink felt wrong, no drink should contain that much chocolate, but heck it felt right too. It was thick and rich and sweet and creamy, and had oodles of Dairy Milk goodness. As an addition to the Tower meal it felt naughty, but in a good way. I would appreciate it if nobody tells me just how many calories I consumed over the course of my dinner, but as I said, it has been awhile and it was a fab treat!
By Cinabar

11 April 2011

Skittles Fruits: Blue Is Here [Limited Edition] (Sainsbury’s) [By @cinabar]

The Skittles slogan has been “Taste The Rainbow” for quite some years, but the blue part of the rainbow has always been left behind – that is until now. The new Skittles bag contains a mystery blue flavour to complete the colour spectrum. There seemed to be a generous number of blue skittles in the bag and I wondered whether they had thrown in some extra to help feed peoples curiosity.
The colour was a lighter blue than I was expecting, almost a turquoise in shade. As the aroma of skittles gives away no clues the only thing I could do was tuck in. The flavour is very sweet and very fruity and very much like a strong berry. I was quite sure the taste was that of cherries, as there was the distinctive almost almondy flavour of morello, but there seemed to be a bit of something else there to – perhaps ‘summer fruits’ but I thought I could pick up a hint of lemon as well.
Curiously the packaging had some clues on it – so if you want a mystery and to guess yourself - stop reading now. Consider this a SPOILER ALERT!
The ingredients list on the back of the packet was quite interesting. Along with the strawberry, lemon, lime flavours etc there was one other flavouring listed, and strangely it wasn’t even a fruit. Let’s remember the front of the bag still says “Skittles Fruits”. However the flavour listed on the bag was for cherry cola! Now going back to them with this in mind and I felt I could get that from the blue ones, so there you go. Bit of a strange flavour to include in a bag of fruit Skittles, it’s nice but it doesn’t seem to fit in. Was blueberry just too obvious a choice that they decided to go with something a bit different? Let me know what you think of them if you give the new blue ones a try.
By Cinabar

10 April 2011

Spanish Milka Bars [M-Joy and Leo] [by @NLi10]

I've been on holiday to Spain and picked up a few local snacks to try out.

After trying the Oreos I thought I'd have a look at the local Milka efforts:

The first thing I did after getting off the plane was to buy vending machine lunch of this Milka M-Joy. Before I bought it I presumed it was hazelnuts, but on receiving the ice-cold bar it was almonds.

As it turns out this is really quite nice, and as I was fairly hungry it didn't last that long. I liked the mix of flavours as the nuts and slightly bland (sorry cinabar!) milky chocolate blended together and worked. As I like my chocolate weaponised and overpowering it wouldn't be my usual choice, but it was a great change to the Cadbury's whole nut equivalent we'd get in a UK machine.

Next up was LEO - which is blatantly Milka KitKat:

Again, this was from a vending machine (at the Alhambra in Granada no less) and was an impulse hunger based buy. There was a lot more wafer in there than I'd expected and this even went along the bottom of the bar too so the snap wasn't quite as definitive as the real feline-based wafer bar. I did enjoy this though as the wafer actually had flavour and was pretty crispy.

Spanish KitKat is very similar to the UK one but the chocolate itself seems a bit creamier and toned down. The packaging said something along these lines but my Spanish isn't great so I'm not sure whether it's a new feature to appeal to the Euro market or just clarifying that it won't scare off those not used to proper chocolate.

Overall I'd buy the M-Joy almond again, but probably revert to KitKat for the wafer snack (but LEO was a good 2nd choice).
by @NLi10

9 April 2011

Wasabi Peanuts (Gardenlands, Wolverhampton) [By @SpectreUK]

Cottage Delight is a food manufacturers set in Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands. The company started 36 years ago to sell a unique recipe of fudge. They have developed since then with products such as biscuits, cakes, sauces, pickles, pâté, pasta and nibbles. These peanuts have a green covering, as they have been coloured with Chlorophyll. After a good crunch there is a tongue tingling heat to start with, which melts away within a few seconds. The dissipating heat lets you enjoy the actual taste of Wasabi mixed with Horseradish. With the tingly heat there is also a pleasurable salty sweetness that adds a moreishness to these peanuts. There is an oily aftertaste to every peanut as well which cools the mouth ready for the next green peanut. Rapeseed Oil is mentioned on the back of the packet amongst the other ingredients. This concoction of ingredients is pure genius. On eating every peanut I felt my taste buds say; “Oh…! yum…. need another… Oh…! yum… need ano…” It’s not surprising that Cottage Delight have been recognised to date with 111 Great Taste Awards. Having said that, I advise you to eat these peanuts in small portions, as I sat and ate the whole packet in one go and I ended up feeling as if my insides had been well and truly oiled.
By Spectre

8 April 2011

Hershey's Chocolate and Kisses [UK Editions] (Asda) [By @Cinabar]

A couple of weeks back I mentioned that Asda had introduced a lot of Hershey goodies on to their shelves. I read about that in a press release, but hadn’t been to the shop until now. My local Sainsbury’s has chosen to solely stock the Herhsey’s Cookie and Cream Kisses, which I’ve reviewed and quite liked. So I went on a mission to Asda and stocked up on loads of the Hershey’s goodies I hadn’t sampled, to give the new range a proper try.

Hershey’s Original Bar
This chocolate has a very distinctive flavour. There is sugar, and cocoa, but the strangest after taste. It’s not a nice taste, it is sour and acidic and really weird. I had to check the bar wasn’t off, which is never a good sign. Being the lovely caring employee that I am, I took some into work to share with my boss and colleagues, after all its good to share. I’m afraid to say “it didn’t go down well” would be an understatement. Some of the descriptive words were “stale”, “like vomit” and “with an aftertaste of cheesy Wotsits”, but others were unpublishable. On the other hand one person liked it and gave it six out of ten. Also this chocolate is ridiculously popular in The States, so I think it is just one of those flavours that works for some and not for others. I think its problem is just that it is so different to anything available in the UK that it doesn’t meet what my perception of chocolate should be. It’s worth trying some if only to experience the flavour and make your own mind up about it.

Hershey’s Kisses Dark Chocolate
Unlike the Cookie and Cream Kisses I tried from Sainsbury’s, the Kisses from Asda are in a good sized sharing bag. These dark chocolate ones are prettily packaged in a purple foil, and look rich and dark when unwrapped. The chocolate has a strong flavour, with a good sweet aftertaste. The chocolate isn’t very strong but it is perfectly nice. It’s nearer Bournville than Lindt, but it is sweet and easy to snack on, and has absolutely no weird aftertaste.

Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolate With Almonds
These Kisses are wrapped in a gold foil, printed with a repeat pattern of almonds and again looked rather appealing. I like chocolate and nuts, I really do, but the milk chocolate covering these Kisses is the same as in the Hershey’s Original Bar, and marred the taste for me. The almond was crunchy and added a nice texture, but that flavour was still there. If you like the Hershey’s taste you will be fine with these, but they weren’t my cup of tea at all.

Hershey’s Kisses Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate
These Kisses are also in gold foil, but it is patterned with a cream swirl. Now here is an interesting concept; this chocolate is ‘Extra Creamy’ and has been released in the UK because its flavour is more like we would expect from a milk chocolate. By that I mean that this chocolate is very sweet, and has a seriously thick melt. There is a creamy taste too, and it is really quite nice. Again, there is no weird aftertaste. I can’t imagine anyone disliking the contents of this bag, and I think it makes a nice addition to the numerous sharing bags of goodies currently available.

In summary, try a Hershey’s Original bar. Think of it as Marmite, and make your own mind up on it, just don’t tuck in expecting something similar to Dairy Milk. If you want something more familiar remember Hershey’s white, dark and extra creamy milk chocolate are all nice. I look forward to seeing how the brand works for Asda, and what other goodies we will get in the future. I was a little surprised to see that they didn’t have any Hershey’s Easter Eggs out, but it is early days I guess.
By Cinabar