30 September 2011

Raspberry Jam Doughnut & Honeycomb Choc Swirl [@Frijj Milkshake] (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]

I do have a bit of a weakness for Frijj milkshakes, so was really pleased to see not just one new flavour on the shelf but two. I like the new designs on the bottle featuring old fashioned circus style acts, and a dressed up cat and dog. I’m not sure I get exactly how it relates to the new varieties, but the characters looks rather smart! :-D

Raspberry Jam Doughnut [Featuring Pablo Pooch]
This is a thick pink drink, that pours with a gloop into your glass. It has a lovely fruity fragrance, and smells very appealing. The taste is manly sweetness with a raspberry base. I guess the extra sugar hit was mimicking the raspberry jam element in the name. The berry flavour was good, but I really couldn’t pick up on the slightest hint of doughnut, which was a bit disappointing. Effectively it is a really good sweet raspberry milkshake, but the doughnut element was far too subtle.

Honeycomb Choc Swirl [Featuring Hugo Meeow]
This shake looks remarkably like a chocolate milkshake, and after the raspberry variety I feared there would be no depth to the flavour, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This milkshake is remarkably similar to how I imagine melting down a Crunchie bar with a load of cream would be – i.e. it’s so good it’s out of this world. The flavour is full of chocolate, and the honeycomb taste comes through perfectly, followed by a rich creamy finish. I couldn’t stop drinking the stuff, it’s gorgeous. The Honeycomb Choc Swirl is definitely the stronger of the two flavours, and is now my favourite chocolate milkshake drink. If you like Crunchie bars, it’s a must!

In other news – Frijj have announced that Vanilla is coming back as a Limited Edition too, so that’s also worth keeping your eye open for. I do like my Frijj. ;-)
By Cinabar

29 September 2011

Berry Granola - Rude Health (Waitrose) [By @NLi10]

Red flavour is my favourite of all the fruits. Red flavours of juice drinks, yogurts and cereals will always get tried first - over chocolate and the other options and in particular Raspberry is my very favourite. There aren't all that many cereals that match up to this profile - especially when you consider that I don't like Sultanas & Raisins as they overpower everything else.

Rude Health has a history of making compulsive cereals that take me a while to get through the box. Everything they do seems to be more filling than its counterparts and making me struggle to finish my usual heaped cereal bowls. This is no exception - it was a battle to get to the end of my first bowl and I wasn't entirely sure that I enjoyed it. My second day I put in 2/3 of the usual amount (still probably well over the 'portion size' that boxes recommend) and was much happier with it.

It's a fruity concoction, but you can still taste the grains and identify flavours. It happily turns the milk pink and doesn't get overly soggy. Being a granola the roasted cereals have a lovely, lasting flavour which I think I will try with warm milk at some point for maximum hug in a bowl effect.

The boxes always look small, but the Rude Health cereals seem to last just as long as others in similar ranges. I think that I'll be adding this to the list of things to return to once I've caught up with the backlog of review cereals in the cupboards.
By NLi10

28 September 2011

Curry Lime Pickle Crisps (Pret A Manger @Pret_uk) [By @cinabar]

As we here having a shopping day on Saturday, and as per tradition we decide to have a treat and have lunch out at Pret. Sitting on the shelf next to the sandwiches I spotted this new flavour of crisps. It isn’t a flavour I have seen before, so I was rather excited at the prospect of trying something properly new. I don’t actually eat that much lime pickle when having a curry, I’m more of a mango chutney fan, but I do know what it is supposed to taste like.
These crisps are very moreish and flavoursome. They taste predominantly of curry powder, but there is a tangy citrus hit which appears as an aftertaste. The curry flavour was fuelled by coriander seed and tones of turmeric. There isn’t much chilli in the mix. Although the heat is mild the range of spices is nice and they are very aromatic, and there is a nice gentle tingle. I liked how the lime shone through and added a crisp zingy finish to each one, it was zesty but not fruity.
They may not be an exact match for lime pickle taste, as they are missing a lot of the fruitiness, but the combination of flavours they provide works really well and they are a very tasty bag of crisps. We happily munched happily our way through the bag with our lunch, and I’d definitely but them again.
By Cinabar

27 September 2011

Cuppa Cake (Sainsbury’s) [By @cinabar] [@SainsburysPR]

Cup cakes are seemingly big business at the minute, with even Selfridges now selling ‘designer’ cup cakes in their food hall. Apparently (i.e. according to Wikipedia) the name of cup cakes originate from 1796 where they were first described as “a cake to be baked in small cups”, so this could be seen as going back to their roots... as this cookery kit allows you to cook the cake in a mug. Who am I kidding – it’s a microwave cup cake for goodness sake not gourmet baking. :-D
I think the target market for this box set must be students. It’s cheap and easy to prepare, and all you need is a cup, some water, an egg and a fork, basics even a student should have. I actually love the simplicity of the kit though. Inside the box are two sachets of powder, you put one in a mug add an egg and a drop of water, whisk and when it looks smooth-ish its time to cook it. By ‘smooth-ish’ mine never went that smooth, mostly because there are chocolate chunks in the contents but I did my best. Anyway after you have completed the minute or so of preparation you then stick it in the microwave and huzzah one freshly baked cake! It raised a fair amount during cooking, but didn’t quite look as fantastic as the one on the box. There were however optimistic fresh baking smells coming out of the microwave.

The next stage was the eating part. I have to say I was a little confused to see that each mug is supposed to serve two, and that half a serving has 250 calories. I don’t want to shock you guys but I had a whole one to myself, because I’m a rebel like that. That’s 500 calories all to me, which if it had been combined with ice cream or custard makes for a very high calorie dessert...
Texture wise it was a little firmer than most sponges, but not rubbery at all. The top half of the cake was sweet and lightly chocolaty, but the flavour was mainly toward the bottom of the pudding. All those chocolate pieces in the mix hadn’t risen during cooking and had stayed toward the base, making it get progressively more chocolaty the further you ate downwards.
I said it at the start, and I’ll say it again this isn’t gourmet cookery, but it is a lot of fun. It is really easy to prepare and nice tasting too. In fact it’s really good considering the minimal effort!
To be honest if I was having it again I would add some (microwavable) custard just to moisten the sponge, but that will get me feeling guilty for eating a double portion again and thinking about calories. If you were making this – would you share your Cuppa Cake, or do you think it should be a single serving too?
By Cinabar

26 September 2011

KP Nutty Nibbles [Cherry & Cranberry Mix] (WH Smiths) [By @Cinabar]

Following on from the KP Nutty Nibbles with Hobnobs and Chocolate, it seems there is another new flavour on the shelves. I saw these sitting next to the other ones in WH Smiths, as a late addition in my local branch.
Like the previous variety this bag mixes both chocolate, salt and sweet. The chocolate on this occasion isn’t from chocolate drops, but chocolate coated raisins are mixed in the bag too. There is plenty of fruit in this pack, as you’d suspect from the name. The cherries and the cranberries are both fairly sweet but do have a sharp aftertaste, as they are both quite strongly flavoured fruits. The nuts are lightly sweet from the honey, have a good strong roasted peanut flavour and a nice dose of salt. The raisins are the actual sweet element in the bag with both the fruit being sugary and the milk chocolate coating adding a smooth cocoa flavour.
I love the mix of sweet and savoury, and it worked really well these ingredients. Every handful brings a slightly different combination and the emphasis is on a different taste with every mouthful. I think that’s what works so well with these bags, and makes them so moreish. If I had never tried the Nutty Nibbles with Hobnobs and Chocolate these would have been my favourite new peanut snack. The Cherry & Cranberry Mix is a very close second, with the fact that it has slightly less chocolate meaning it didn’t quite have the edge for me. It’s a personal preference, but chocolate always swings it for my taste buds! They are still well worth trying though, and to be honest if you are planning sharing them during a night in with friends, buy one of each variety and they will all soon disappear!
By Cinabar

25 September 2011

Oreo Cakesters, Nabisco (from America) [by @NLi10]

As part of a package of snack-foods I received from the USA from a colleague returning from holiday I got this packet of two Oreo Cakesters. I do love the Oreo brand, as essentially it's just larger Bourbon biscuits with higher grade ingredients. Once the UK got over the fact that they were not the shape they were used to then the brand was easy enough to find over here in most places. This however is a bit different to the standard fare.

It's not like a Jaffa Cake which occupies the middle ground of snacks (although if you leave one out unprotected it becomes hard so it's a cake - biscuits go soft), this is a full on mini cake experience that is designed to look and feel like an Oreo. It's a bit of a branding exercise really I guess - convincing people who like Oreos to try these particular treats.

Overall I wasn't keen - the flavour is very artificial (like some American supermarket Cookies I tried but never reviewed) and almost has a hint of plastic to it. The creme filling was very artificial and soft and not as nice as the regular Oreo centre. The chocolate taste and the texture seemed designed to not become stale and wasn't focused on taste at all. Maybe this is fine-tuned to the American palate but I can't say I'd be that excited if these became a regular feature.

I missed the strong tastes and crunch of the real biscuits. I think it's great when a Brand I like is big enough to branch out into other areas, but I feel the quality control slipped on this one.
by @NLi10

24 September 2011

Wonka Sweetarts (American Import) [By @SpectreUK]

On the front of this sturdy colourful cardboard box it mentions “tangy candy”, some where on the back it warns “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. This warning made my colleague sitting at the desk next to me laugh, as he knew after I’d tasted a few of these sweets that his five year old daughter would be finishing them off. Not that I expected to dislike the sweets, but I’m trying to stay a bit healthier these days. Weight lifting, the odd swimming session once a blue moon and less snack food doesn’t seem to be taking as much fat off my belly as I’d like. 170g of “tangy candy” just makes me think that after eating I’ll blow up like a balloon, and not one of those light floating ones, more like a gas tower.

After struggling to open the top of the box with my fingernails for a while, I advanced to using my penknife. This worried my colleagues no end, and they proceeded in instructing a 35 year old man on how to use a knife! The box was pretty much half full of solid thick tablets with the texture of Refreshers, rather like the Bottlecaps. There are five colours of sweets; Orange – orange flavour, blue – blueberry flavour, green – apple flavour, pink – cherry flavour, brown – rootbeer flavour (which was pretty nasty). You have to suck these for a short while before biting or you’re likely to break your teeth. With their respective flavourings they taste pretty much as they’re coloured, asides the medicinal like rootbeer flavour. On sucking them they have a good sweet taste to start with, but sucking for too long the sweet taste becomes sourer in a mild twisty faced sort of way. I shared a few around my colleagues and they seemed to like them, and then passed the box to the man with the soon to be super hyperactive child. By now he’d stopped laughing and was starting to look more than a little apprehensive. I wished him luck!
By Spectre

23 September 2011

New Toblerone Snow Top (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]

This is a new bar coming out from a favourite company of mine for the winter, which is fitting as I associate Toblerone and Christmas. I’m not trying to wish bad weather on us, but this new Toblerone has a patch of snow sitting on top of its chocolate mountains. By that I mean the usual milk chocolate chunks of Toblerone are now part white chocolate and looks very smart.
Toblerone has always been a bit of an awkward shape, there really is no denying it. The design is very much based on visual effect and not ease of use. Breaking pieces off a Toblerone can be troublesome, particularly the large bars, but the shape always makes me smile so I always forgive them.
As per regular Toblerone this bar has lovely sticky pieces of almond and honey nougat mixed in with the chocolate, which do add a wonderful sweetness to the flavour. I love the combination of both honey and nut with chocolate, but I do have a rather sweet tooth. The milk chocolate is also quite sweet, however the extra section of white chocolate mellows the sugar adding a rich creamy taste to the bar. The white chocolate really comes through as an aftertaste, but it is a well placed smoothness at the end of each bite.
The bar hasn’t deviated much from the original recipe, and there is nothing in the flavour that changes the formula to any major extent. I can’t imagine anyone who likes regular Toblerone disliking this bar as there isn’t that much of a difference. I guess Toblerone played it safe, but I still can’t resist it as a seasonal treat even if it is just a regular Toblerone topped with a Christmas snow shower of white chocolate.
By Cinabar

22 September 2011

McVities Quirks - Chocolate (Asda) [by @NLi10]

This weekend I was invited to the park to partake in the fledgling event of the Bearwood Shuffle which is a few local bands, a few stalls and enough space for a picnic blanket. This to me was a great opportunity to break out the sharing snacks and I brought along a pack of McVities Quirks. I hadn't realised at the time but Cinabar had reviewed the double chocolate variety of these back in July - I'm so behind the curve!
That's the bandstand you can see in the background. I cleverly placed the biscuits to obscure faces without dropping them. Unfortunately for McVities the bands were better than the biscuits.

In the olden-days, when I bought snack-foods based on the cartoon characters on the packets instead of the taste there used to be little bags of rusk like biscuits with a chocolate centre that was usually liquidy. If you bought them from Kwik Save the choc centres tended to be a bit more solid, but still - the combination of flavours was nice enough to return to. Also they had a picture printed on them. Now-a-days you can buy the little happy panda snacks from Import stores to get the same joyous effect (few of these are still runny though). Quirks are like a giant version of these. Like Cinabar said, the packaging makes you think these would be larger than they are, but I thought that it was a reasonable size for a nice two bites. The runniness is good and the crunch is good too - they clearly focus tested these!

Unfortunately they aren't that exciting. They are a very eddible biscuit and as the comments on the previous review attest they are pretty morish to the right people, but I just wasn't enthused. I passed them on happily to my companions who tellingly liked them but didn't finish the packet while there. I let them take them back with the other foods. They would not be missed.

I'm not quite sure what it was about them that made them less compulsive than other biscuits. I'm sure it'll come to me in time.

Bonus mini review! Blackcurrant Flavour Still Spring Water (Asda)

The flavour was OK I guess, but didn't taste of much other than sweeteners. Tap water and a drop of cordial would have pretty much been the same. I heartily approve of not adding colours to the mix though - I wish more drinks would do this.
By Nli10

21 September 2011

Galaxy Silky Smooth Frothy Top [Hot Chocolate] (Sainsbury’s) [By @cinabar]

There are quite a few instant cappuccino drinks on the market, all with a nice frothy finish for a cafe style drink. Galaxy has released this new product which combines the bubbly finish with a hot chocolate, and I couldn’t resist giving it a purchase. The summer seems to be coming to an end, so I guess the official hot chocolate season begins (although I drink the stuff all year). ;-)
As per the instructions I added four teaspoons to my mug, and waited for the kettle to boil. It does say that you can make this hot chocolate with either hot water or hot milk, which is really useful. I was interested to see how it worked with water as good instants are hard to find, and I was in a bit of a rush.
When I poured the water on the powder it already started to froth a little, which looked really good. The contents mixed up very easily, and by the time I had finished there was a serious amount of bubbles appearing. Ace!
I have to say I was rather impressed by the aroma of this drink as just from the smell I could tell it was Galaxy, as it actually had the same tones as the bar. There was that sweet brown sugar scent and creamy chocolate too, and it was very appealing. In taste (despite not using a large mug) I felt it was a really good drink, but a tad mild. It had a nice flavour, and it was very much like Galaxy, but it was just a little watered done. The next time I made it I used a fifth tea spoon of powder, and found the drink to be absolutely spot on, so that’s my tip if you have a sweet tooth. It also tasted much more creamy with the additional powder, and was lovely and rich. If you are making it with hot milk, four teaspoons seems to work a lot better, but the hot water method needs that little extra.
I was impressed by the definition of the flavour, and that it wasn’t just a generic chocolate taste. Galaxy fans will love this drink as the flavour of the chocolate really shines through. The bubbles are a nice touch giving a lovely froth and ensuring the drink mixes well. This is one I’ll be buying again, but as I said I found the best results are with an extra spoon of powder in the cup.
By Cinabar

20 September 2011

Quality Street – My Purple Bar (Sainsbury’s) [By @cinabar]

It has to be said I am a big fan of the purple ones in Quality Street. They come in a smart purple wrapper and consist of chocolate, caramel and nut. When Christmas rears its head, I also get excited about the GIANT Purple Ones that appear in the shops. I love all the ingredients and the novelty of a giant looking sweet. Perhaps that’s why I was disappointed by this new bar, as I fear it is its replacement.
This year Quality Street is launching this strange bar with four regular purple ones stuck together. Essentially it is just that, four of the chocolates in a line with a bit chocolate pipeline in between.
As Purple Ones are in my favourite Quality Street chocolates it won’t surprise you that I thoroughly enjoyed the bar. I broke one of the chocolates off and it was exactly the same sweet you’d find in the box. The chocolate was thick, the caramel sweet and gooey and one singular hazelnut inside added the nutty goodness. It was all very enjoyable flavour wise but I felt something was missing. The shape is quite different to other bars on the market, and it does look interesting, but I think I have a soft spot for the original Christmassy giant one. You can’t go wrong with big chocolate, all that oozing caramel and the multiple nuts hidden inside made a wonderful treat. If I’d never had a Giant Purple One I would be giving this bar
a much more positive report, but the fear that it has replaced one of my favourite seasonal treats does make me a little sad. It does have all my favourite ingredients in one bar – so I really ought to be loving it.
One thing that stood out was the calories were per half bar... I do hope Quality Street weren’t expecting me to share, or to eat it in two servings? I don’t mean to be greedy but the bar really isn’t that big! And did I mention it’s made of my favourite chocolates!
If anyone does sees a giant purple one back in the shops this year – would you please let me know below? I’ll report back if I find one too! *fingers crossed*
By Cinabar

19 September 2011

[New] Traditional Windfall Chutney (Marks & Spencer) [By @cinabar]

I bought this fine jar of chutney just to have at home, with no real intentions of reviewing it. When I tried the contents I immediately changed my mind and realised that some sort of write up would be necessary as the contents are so fabulous.
Windfall Chutney is so called as it contains the common fruits that could potentially fall from trees by the wind (eg apples and pears). Back in the day the fruit that landed on the ground as a victim of the wind might have been bruised, but because waste wasn’t an option it was used up for chutney.
I made some cheese on toast, and placed a small dollop of the chutney on the plate to accompany it. This chutney may not appeal to everyone, but it had something that was absolutely perfect for me – it was wonderfully sweet. The lovely rich tones of apple and pear were juicy and absolutely perfect with the cheese. There was a slightly sour aftertaste giving the pickle a bit of a tang, but ultimately its amazing fruity flavours just won me over. The chunks within the chutney are smooth and its light brown colour may not look that inspiring, but I assure the flavour packed within it is something else. I actually went back and got myself another huge spoonful as I seemed to have eaten up my portion just with half a slice of cheese on toast.
I think this may well be the nicest pickle I have ever eaten and as such I am going back for another jar (or two)! What can I say, if you have a sweet tooth and like chutney you really must try it. My cupboard will never be without this little jar of magic again!
By Cinabar

18 September 2011

LSV Energy Drink (Local Newsagents) [by @NLi10]

Crossover is important. It's when two worlds collide and interests momentarily line up in a way that enables me to bore the snackfood community with tales of gaming or my holiday snaps. In this case I managed to find a cheap (35p) energy drink (think RedBull) with the initials used to indicate one of the most famous Magic The Gathering Players ever LSV - Luis Scott-Vargas. I'm guessing it was named as such as V is a bit similar to D and they could hint at narcotic connotations without being banned. As I tend to take a drink with me to our local Friday Night Magic (an evening of games where you play for fun and tiny prizes) I figured I'd take it along and see what happened. For the one MTG player reading I played a Tempered Steel Myr deck (using my Ascension deck protectors :D ).
I remembered to drink the drink as play was underway in my first match - as with all this was a best of three. The flavour was slightly weaker than a typical RedBull, but it was surprisingly smooth & nice. Having been addicted to RedBull back in the days of 199X where you had to take your own into a bar if you wanted to use it as a mixer it was surprising to find a budget drink that was so close to the real thing. I presumed it'd have only minor invigoration effects, but didn't immediately become hyperactive. I lost this game 2-0.
I finished the drink through the next round (another 2-0 loss) and could have happily started on my 2nd can - I'm not sure where that ended up though. Maybe it's for the best that it's missing. I had no aftertaste, no jitters and was concentrating quite well but suffering due to bad match-ups. The third round was closer, but I made a few wrong plays and lost 2-0 again. Due to an uneven number of players I got a bye in the last round and technically got a 'win' for that putting me 12th out of 13.
As I began to play some side games with friends I'd gotten more used to the deck and won four fairly easy games with the same deck. Such is magic. Maybe the drink was kicking in though as while I was tired I was alert. I returned home at 11 to find the cat had made a mess. I tidied this up with some grumbles and thought I'd pop onto the Xbox for a bit. I chatted to fellow snack reviewer HiImRy for a bit and then he went to bed. I carried on playing for a while and then the TV told me that it was thinking of turning itself off after 3 hours of no buttons being pressed. It was 4am. It hadn't been my intention to stay up this late so I finished the section of Deus Ex I was on (4:30) went upstairs and checked my e-mail (5) and then went to bed (5:30). I could have happily stayed up longer, but I knew I had things to do the following day.
Chatting to people at work it seems that LSV is becoming a popular alternative to RedBull. I tend to drink neither these days but do support the F1 team (Go Mark!) but still feel that this 35p alternative to the real thing is just as effective. In the interests of sanity I'm not willing to do a comparison with a genuine Red Bull next week. Besides - I have something far more devilish to take to FNM next week...
By NLi10

17 September 2011

Innocent – Pomegranates, Blueberries and Acai flavour [By @SpectreUK]

Pomegranates and blueberries have never particularly been favourite fruits of mine, but this Innocent smoothie caught my eye in the local supermarket. My various information sources (Wikipedia) tell me that acai berries have natural antioxidants to keep the drink fresh. This drink also has banana, orange and lemon in the ingredients. I’ve always thought that banana is too strong a flavour to add to smoothies and usually when added (which is far too often) spoils their overall taste. On buying this drink I had a somewhat naïve belief that this would not be the case with this drink, as the strength of the two main flavours of pomegranate and blueberries would win over against the menace of banana.

There was a hint of banana in the heavy berry smell on opening the bottle, which gave my naïve confidence a knock before tasting. The main ingredients shone through to start with, as the mix of pomegranate and blueberries wrapped around my tastebuds, but there was a substantial hit from the banana in the overall flavour. The banana was not overpowering, yet still spoiled the nuance of flavours. I found this smoothie to have a refreshing and very healthy taste and feel to it. With healthiness, comes peace of mind and this drink could have done without the addition of banana in the ingredients. The banana seems to fight against the other elements, rather than work with them. Whoever designs smoothies should realize; banana is an enemy, not a friend.
By Spectre

16 September 2011

Mexican Discovery – A Mexican Night In [By @Cinabar]

It just so happens that I rather like Mexican food, so when I was asked if I wanted to try out the Mexican Discovery kit, I could resist saying yes. The lovely people from Mexican Discovery sent me a fabulous array of goodies to try! Today is Mexican Independence day so it seems apt that this write up should appear now. :-)
Fajitas are a bit of a fun meal, and are really easy to prepare. I bought some mushrooms, a green pepper, some onions and some chicken to go with all the Mexican Discovery goodies. I fried all of this with the Fajita Seasoning Mix and it smelt absolutely wonderful and aromatic. Hints of paprika and other warm spices shone through,
Once this was cooked the next part is really up to the person eating it. Everyone gets some tortillas and can fill them as they wish. I opted for a wrap with plenty of the chicken mix and a squeeze of all the sauce. Spectre on the other hand stuck with the sour cream, but went for a brave addition of jalapenos from the jar! I think that’s the great part that you can make them exactly as you want them, and you can experiment a bit with different ingredients.
I thought the base chicken mix was absolutely spot on, not too hot, but full of wonderful Mexican spices. The tortillas were a good texture, they had plenty of bread flavour, but they weren’t too thick sothey didn’t distract from the contents. The sour cream was cool and helped calm things down if you are not keen on the heat, as did the avocado based guacamole. The salsa added a bit of sweet tomato zing, which went perfectly with everything.
As I said the best part is mixing and matching, and trying different combinations. You should try a bit of chopped up cucumber as a last minute addition, if you want a cool crunchy effect, although I’m not sure that’s authentic Mexican! ;-) I think I’d try adding some cheese next time too. The range of textures you can create is very diverse, and very enjoyable. When Spectre finished his first Fajita, the he immediately said “can I have another” so I know they went down well! I really enjoyed making the Mexican selection, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it – so it certainly gets the Foodstuff Finds thumbs up!
By Cinabar

15 September 2011

Strawberry proViact (Lidl) [by @NLi10]

Living in a multicultural area isn't all up-side. The lack of Tesco Metros and other mini western supermarkets mean that sometimes mundane things that a middle-class white guy takes for granted are harder to find. Take pro-biotic drinks for example. While I'm pretty sure these started off in Japan, the need for things that seem to be healthy but backed by a little science here is immense. You only have to look at all the fake science on shampoo adverts to understand what I mean.

The adverts and packaging for pro-biotic drinks and supplements have undergone a change in the past 12 months as to advertise using these in the UK the manufacturers had to scientifically prove and publish their proof for the health claims. They could not. The two big players (Yakult & Actimel) did get an extension for further trials but for everyday healthy people taking these drinks is no more beneficial than not doing so. There is however evidence to suggest that if your 'gut flora' has been disrupted by something such as food poisoning or antibiotics that these little boosts do help you return to your previous health quicker. So, as I'd been ill recently I took this as a perfect opportunity to try these out.

While I couldn't find the big brands with their specific patented subspecies of 'friendly bacteria' this Lidl variant has L. Casei in it (but doesn't state the bacterial load on the bottles) and will suffice. The packaging recommended that one a day could be beneficial, so throughout the day I drank a total of three. In the interests of scientific full disclosure I also went for a curry that evening.

The flavour was as usual somewhere between strawberry milkshake and yoghurt. Not at all unpleasant but lacking that signature Yakult taste (which I quite like). Effects wise there was nothing particularly bad or good. I do feel less nauseous today than I have on previous days but that could just be the gradual process of getting better. At 89p for four little bottles I don't think it's going to hurt to give something like this a try after a stomach related illness, but I don't think that it's anything more than a helping hand (and a nice little shot of strawberry milkshake)!
By NLi10

14 September 2011

Penn State [Limited Edition] Gammon & Mustard Flavour Pretzels [By @Cinabar]

I was really excited to discover that Penn State has launched a new Limited Edition flavour, and it’s not one I’ve tried combined with Pretzels before. Gammon and Mustard flavour Pretzels does seem like an odd combination, but the plain base flavour of the pretzel means it is a lot more open to a variety of seasonings. Obviously salted is the most common type, but Penn State are showing us there are more options than that.
The pretzels look like golden brown knots, and the texture is similar to that of a dry firm biscuit. They are easy to eat, and as they aren’t too hard they are very pleasant to munch on giving a good crunch. The meat flavour is the most obvious one that shines through, and it has a slight sweetness to it, rather like the gammon they were aiming for. The mustard taste is present, but it is a mild background tang, and not hot and spicy like a packet of good old Brannigans. I picked up on a hint of bacon too with these pretzels as there was a nice smoky aftertaste.
I enjoyed the pretzels, and felt they worked well sharing them with friends. It’s unusual to find pretzels flavoured with gammon, but they were really good and it has certainly opened me up to the idea of different varieties.
This is a great new product from Penn State, and a little birdie tell me that they are launching another new product in the upcoming months. Let’s just say if you miss Flipz, then this is certainly a brand to keep an eye on! I’ll be writing about the new flavour as soon as I find out more.
By Cinabar

13 September 2011

Aero: Christmas Tree [Mint Chocolate] (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]

I feel like I should be almost apologetic bringing you the second Christmas write up in September in two days. I actually purchased this at the same time as the Galaxy Gift, and if it’s any consolation there aren’t any more seasonal products planned this week. I can’t promise about next week. ;-)
This choccie is just a simple novelty brought out by Aero for the stocking filler market. I have to say that there is a lot to be said for these smaller chocolate novelties, as they are nice looking but don’t commit you to eating a whole bar.
This particular Aero is shaped like a Christmas tree and then filled with light green mint bubbles. Flavour wise it is exactly like a regular mint Aero, sweet chocolate but with cool mint tones that are surprisingly refreshing. The bubbles in the chocolate mean that it gives easily when you bite, but still manages to feel substantial, which is the magic of aerated chocolate (that and it means the company get to sell you air)!
Having said that, I do like a mint Aero and I do like novelty, so this was actually right up my street. The moulding of the Christmas tree wasn’t quite as sharp as I’d like, but I guess moulding bubbles into place isn’t the easiest thing! The tree does look quite sweet though, so I can’t really complain but it reminded me of something that you’d find in a giant advent calendar. It might not make Christmas any more “enjoyabubble” in September but it certainly works as quick fun treat, and when the season does come in to play it will make an excellent stocking filler too.
By Cinabar

12 September 2011

[New] Galaxy: A Gift For You (Sainsbury’s) [By @Cinabar]

I have bitten the bullet and added a new Foodstuff Finds category below... “Christmas 2011”. This is the first of the Christmas reviews for this year, I’m aware it’s early – but if a product is new and seasonal, it’s not my fault :-)
This is a smaller bar of Galaxy designed to be a Christmas stocking filler. It is moulded prettily into the shape of a Christmas present. There is a fair bit of detail, with a lovely big bow as the centre piece. The detailed image makes the bar and it works well.
Although not exactly square, the bar breaks easily on the grooves for the parcel, so that there are four cubes of chocolate. Two of these chocolate chunks are solid and two of them are filled with thick Galaxy caramel. The chocolate is the classical Galaxy flavour, silky and smooth and rather sweet. Galaxy is an indulgent taste, and always feel very luxurious, so for me it is ideally suited to this small bar. The caramel has a good taste too and isn’t overly rich, delivering a golden sugar that’s not too sweet.
I liked that they had made the bar half solid chocolate and half caramel, as it added nicely to the novelty and gives you a taster of both full size bars. Galaxy fans will love this themed version of their chocolate, and you really can’t go wrong picking one up as a mini gift. It’s so nicely moulded that it’s hard not to smile when you open the pack, and it is the perfect stocking filler.
By Cinabar

11 September 2011

Levi Roots – Caribbean Crush [By @NLi10]

Levi Roots of Dragon's Den Reggae Reggae fame has put his name on a lot of foods since his initial investment. Most of these are spicy, not too spicy but certainly full of heat. When I spotted this Caribbean Crush drink I thought it may have been the perfect thirst quencher.
On a very hot Saturday morning driving through town I needed something to cool down fast. This is probably too fizzy for that, but is still nice. It tastes a lot more fruity than Lilt and other mainstream brands. I liked it, but it's not special enough to actively hunt out like the Reggae Reggae Ketchup that I love so dearly is.
By NLi10

10 September 2011

Meringato Venchi Cuba – Chocolate Cigar (Amazon) [By @SpectreUK]

I used to be a smoker and always treated myself to a Cuban cigar every Birthday and Christmas Eve. I gave up smoking thirteen years ago (just after I met Cinabar) and much to my chagrin the tradition came to a grinding halt. Every Birthday and Christmas there after I’d moan about how much I missed my Cuban cigar. One Birthday I was highly amused and delighted to unwrap a Cuban shaped chocolate cigar, which I found amongst my presents. Ever since then I have been treated to a chocolate cigar on my Birthdays and at Christmas instead of the smokier variety to keep up with the previous tradition.

This Meringato Venchi Cuba chocolate cigar is made with a double layer of milk and dark chocolate and is filled with granulated meringue. The chocolate cigar’s ingredients include whole milk powder, 56% dark chocolate, 33.3% milk chocolate, hazelnuts, and natural vanilla flavour. The chocolate has a lovely nutty taste to it and from the 100g size of the cigar, it certainly takes some eating. The taste is pure luxury, and believe me it is pure nutty chocolate indulgence at 551 calories. This chocolate cigar is perfect for an after dinner treat, especially if you have a nice chocolate beer to go with it. Quoting Hannibal Smith from the A Team; “I love it when a plan comes together.
By Spectre

9 September 2011

Lindt Eiscafe Pralines [Coffee Chocolates] [Spain] (By @Cinabar)

It’s a funny thing about Lindt and coffee chocolate. They discontinued their wonderful Lindt Excellence Coffee Intense bar, but have these coffee chocolates (in Spain at least) thus acknowledging there is a market for coffee chocolate. I’m not sure if this is a sign that Lindt Excellence Coffee Intense bar will return – but I have my fingers crossed. These chocolates were a gift from dad who bought them back from his holidays in Spain – so big thanks to him.
I assumed that these chocolates would be some kind of soft centred coffee cream affair, but it turns out they were really quite solid. They are presented as a wrapped cone of chocolate. The texture was that of a firm milk chocolate, and there was no soft part just the same consistency through and through. They had a white chocolate base, but at least two thirds was milk chocolate with coffee granules running throughout. The coffee flavour was very strong, and it mixed well with the chocolate base. The flavours were intense, sweet but the chocolate was smooth and flavoursome which worked well. I was surprised that they went for such a strong coffee taste, but when I have tried other European coffee chocolates they have had a similar powerful taste too (see Pocket Coffee).
As they were these chocolates were really lovely, and felt special. I loved the strong flavours with the chocolate. I just couldn’t help thinking that if Lindt had taken an extra step towards strength of flavour and made the base chocolate 70% cocoa, then these would have been perfect. Okay that would technically make them a boxed version of the Lindt Excellence Coffee Intense bar... but really, that’s not a bad thing! ;-)
By Cinabar

8 September 2011

Kinder Pingui Choco (Polish Grocers) [By @NLi10]

As I returned from my self-enforced sabbatical (the kind that all good cartoonists go on occasionally to wind up their editors) and trudged through the accompanying virus that I seemed to pick up as a finale I wondered what kind of product I should review upon my return. Should it be one of the fabulous exotic gifts that I've been given over the past few weeks? Should it be one of the many new regular products I've picked up and integrated into my eating habits over the past month or so? Or should it just be a regular review of something that I just happened to eat on the right day?

I decided to plump for the latter and grabbed the Kinder Pingui off the top shelf of the fridge where it's been patiently awaiting its demise for the past few weeks.

After eating the Kinder Milk Slice on a stupidly hot day in Spain and then finding out that you can actually get them here (just not as plentifully) I decided to track down similar snacks. My usual Polish Grocery store (that I'll have to take a picture of or at least write the name down of one day) had a bunch of these in their fridge hiding next to the sausages I dare not try.

The Pingui itself was much lighter and fluffier than expected. I'm not sure whether the cream inside required refrigeration, but it certainly benefited from it. Essentially it’s a white chocolate creme sandwich covered in a very thin layer of Kinder chocolate. It tastes quite delicate and isn't over sweet. My stomach looked for the second one straight afterwards, but alas these are solo affairs. This range of snacks are much less heavy than typical Kinder things which tend to be solid chocolate with the occasional toy thrown in to add vitamins.

If you like an odd mix of cream & white chocolate in your cake bars then seek these out. They taste differently to most of the UK ranges so may be what you are looking for.
By NLi10

7 September 2011

KP Nutty Nibbles [Hobnobs and Chocolate Mix] (WH Smiths) [By @Cinabar]

KP Nuts have obviously spotted the grab bag trend, and have decided to give it a go. Personally I’d be okay with a huge bag of their peanuts, but they have added some creativity to their recipe, and come up with a bit of a medley.
Inside the bag are three key ingredients; firstly there are peanuts and they need these for the KP branding. It can’t really claim to be nutty without them! The nuts are sweetened slightly as they are honey roasted, and have a good full flavour. They are firm, but not overly hard. Next up we have chocolate, these are small round chunks of soft milky chocolate that add a lovely sweet cocoa flavour to the mix. Finally there are wonderfully mini McVities Hobnob biscuits that are full of oaty flavour, and add a really decent crunch. Each of the three items has a very different texture, making it a pleasure to combine them.
The Nutty Nibbles are mixed in such a way that you never quite get an even distribution of ingredients, and this works really well for them. Sometimes there is a focus on biscuit, other times on salty peanut and sweetness of the chocolate is in there too. The tastes work together; they complement each other surprisingly well. The nuts, despite being sweet, have a salty edge to them and I love that combination with the chocolate.
The bag is moreish and clever, and in my opinion a total success. It’s perfect for nibbling and would be ideal poured into a communal sharing bowl when you have friends round. Dare I say it – it would be ideal for Christmas time too... ;-)
By Cinabar

6 September 2011

NDulge Yourself: Terrific Chocolate Tiffin Bites (WH Smiths) [By @Cinabar]

This tub of goodies caught me a little by surprise. Spectre and I were on our way back from a friend’s wedding and had stopped at services for supplies (i.e. a cup of tea and some sweets for the way home). As I was queuing in WH Smiths I noticed these stacked by the till, and reached over for a tub.
I have to say it’s the first ‘NDulge’ product I’ve seen, but after googling it seems they make a few different items in tubs which I’ll have to keep an eye out for. I pulled back the lid and found some quite chunky pieces of tiffin inside. Tiffin is a chocolate treat which can have various fillings, but almost always some biscuit pieces and some fruit. This particular variety is no exception and has biscuit, juicy glacier cherries and raisins all mixed in. What surprised me was how soft the whole affair was. The chocolate felt very soft, but I supposed that is acceptable but what was strange was the fact that the biscuit was lacking crunch. It had a nice buttery flavour, but not of the resistance when bitten. The cherries and the raisins mixed well with the rich chocolate flavours and made these a very tasty treat. I just would have preferred a crunchier biscuit, as its softness left the whole tiffin with a very samey feel in the mouth texture wise. Other than that the flavours were good, and the tiffin was very enjoyable.
By Cinabar

5 September 2011

Gu After Dark Blueberry Cheesecakes (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

I though Gu and Fru were products from the same company. I thought the distinction was that Fru were the fruity desserts, and Gu were the chocolaty ones and this is what I have believed until today. This pudding is clearly more fruity i.e. Fru than chocolaty Gu, but it is still Gu branded... so perhaps they just toss a coin to chose a brand? To be fair their goodies are good with whichever packaging, so I’ll stop worrying about it! The box is neatly designed with a very tempting cover image.
The last cheesecake style dessert I had from Fru was the Key Lime Pie, which I thought was absolutely fantastic, so I was really pleased to see this blueberry version albeit from Gu. Inside the glass dish is a sweet biscuit base, made up of crushed and compacted crumbs. The next layer up was the creamy cheese. It had a gentle flavour, velvety but with a nice subtle hint of sweet to balance it. I have to say as much as I liked it, I did just prefer the lighter whipped version in the Key Lime Pie. The next section was the blueberry compote, which was a rich deep purple in colour. It had a nice mix of textures from the berries, and the flavour was sweet, fruity and very fragrant from the blueberries. It was a lovely layer and really made the dessert. There was some crumble decorating the top too, but it was mostly for visual effect but did add a nice edge to the texture.
All in all this is a lovely blueberry pudding, the layers all worked really well together bringing a clever balance between creamy and fruity. As always with Gu and Fru it’s another fabulous luxury dessert that is definitely worth checking out.
By Cinabar

4 September 2011

New Milka: Milka Rice Vanilla / Milka Cream & Almond Splitter [Pound Shop][By @Cinabar]

I have to start with a big thank you to David H for locating these two new bars of Milka for me. They are both quite interesting flavours, one of which is with a rice dessert taste which is something I’ve not seen before. I’m a big Milka fan, so as usual apologies for any bias that may have sneaked subtly in to the following write ups...

Milka Cream & Almond Splitter
This bar is enrobed in the finest milk chocolate known to man. ;-) Inside its filling is a thick creamy layer of light almond paste, with small pieces of almond mixed in for good measure. The filling is lovely and creamy, and the nutty flavour is strong without being too floral as almond sometimes can be. I liked the gentle crunch from the nut pieces, as it gave the bar a good mix of textures. The flavour was smooth and I really adored the nut and Milka combo, so this made a fabulous bar for me.

Milk Rice Vanilla
Well this is an unusual combination of flavours for a chocolate bar, and I think it is trying to represent some sort of rice pudding dessert. The Milka chocolate is obviously perfection as an outer shell as Milka always is. ;-) The filling is a little bit different. It is creamy, but has a slight crunch to it from what seems to be puffed rice. As these puffed rice bits are in a paste, they are also kind of lightly chewy. The texture is a bit odd, but the flavour of the filling is nice, it’s sweet almost honey like and does have a hint of rice pudding about it. So the tastes are really positive, but the texture lets it down a little. Out of the two new bars, the almond one is the clear winner, but I’ve always had a weakness for nuts and chocolate. This rice bar does get bonus points for creativity though. :-)
By Cinabar

3 September 2011

Pot Noodle – Chinese Chow Mein (Sainsburys) [By @SpectreUK]

I picked up this Pot Noodle with a second in the local supermarket. The second Pot Noodle was Southern Fried Chicken flavour. I put the SFC flavour on a cupboard shelf and have been quietly dreading eating it ever since. On opening the Chinese Chow Mein flavour I noticed this pot consisted of the usual type of noodles with dried bits. There was also the usual sachet, this time full of Soy Sauce. I added freshly boiled water, left it to stand for a while and then stirred in the Soy Sauce. This produced a lovely smell of Chow Mein. I noticed there were bits of carrots and chives in with the brownish liquid and noodles. The ingredients also included; tomato, ginger, cinnamon and garlic. All the flavours subtlety blended into one to provide a delicate Chow Mein taste that belied the stronger smell. This was a good quality moreish Chinese noodle soup. Actually, “good” doesn’t give this Pot Noodle justice. I reckon it’s one of the best Pot Noodles I’ve tasted to date. It wasn’t over spicy, as some are, and didn’t taste a bit weird as some do. I’m sure it’s perfect for a late night snack in front of the television, especially after too much booze and something light is required for a dickey tummy. I enjoyed John Wayne’s Horse Soldiers whilst I ate this Pot Noodle, dipping in bits of bread to soak up the sauce, and had a couple of packets of Salt ‘n’ Vinegar flavoured Chipsticks on the side to dip in Salad Cream. I’d definitely buy this Chinese Chow Mein Pot Noodle again, but it hasn’t stopped me from dreading the Southern Fried Chicken flavour... not one bit!
By Spectre

2 September 2011

Really Fruity Mango Spaghetti (Marks & Spencer) [By @Cinabar]

Before anyone gets too excited about the craziness of this product, it isn’t a new strange variety of pasta, just a bag of sweets. A novelty one though, that claims to be ‘newfangled’ no less. I used to eat strawberry laces all the time as kid, and these look like a modern version of those with a tropical fruit base. I can’t tell you how much I loved strawberry laces, and kola kubes, and white candy sticks... and you get the idea. ;-)
I took one of the long thin orange strands out of the brightly coloured pack, and was surprised by the lack of fruity smell. The only aroma was sweet but neutral and not that fruity at all. I took my first bite, and have to say I was disappointed. I thought the taste was a bit odd, mainly because there wasn’t much flavour at all. The pack says that it contains “10% fruit juice” but I can’t imagine where that flavour went. That should have provided a fantastic hit of natural juiciness, but the only taste I had was so weak, it was unidentifiable, and certainly not strong mango. I also noticed that that my fingers were covered in a layer of an oily substance despite the fact that I had been holding just one strand. I found this profoundly confusing because as a brand Marks & Spencer consistently brings out excellent quality products and it is very unusual for them to miss like this.
I gave Spectre one of these strands to check it wasn’t just me and he said; “shall I bin the rest of the bag?” I am starting to think I may have been unlucky and bought a packet that just didn’t meet the normal quality standards, and perhaps had some of the flavourings missed out? The trouble is I don’t fancy buying another bag to find out. Has anyone else tried them? What did you think?
By Cinabar

1 September 2011

Mr Simms Chocolate Bars: Cocoa Cola / Rhubarb & Custard / Mint With Dark Chocolate Chips [By @cinabar]

If we all think back to our first experience of chocolate we put aside thoughts of cocoa percentages and origins of bars and just enjoyed the sweet melt in the mouth treat in front of us. Chocolate used to be simple and fun, not serious and Mr Simms seems to be trying to recreate that. Aficionados will declare the substances in the bars here confectionary not chocolate, and they may well have a point - but no one can argue that the tastes and flavours really are quite something.

Mint With Dark Chocolate Chips
This is the green bar. I haven’t eaten a lot of green chocolate, but I wouldn’t worry about eating peppermint green ice cream so I’m not going to let this bother me! The mint base has dark chocolate chips in it which is a fun idea. The bar is sweet and has lovely tones of both refreshing mint and chocolate. The green part seems to be a minty sweet white choc, as there is a creaminess about it too. The bar has a lovely texture, fairly firm to break but gives easily when bitten and melts pleasingly in the mouth. It’s very easy eating and if you like peppermint choc chip ice cream you'll live this, I did!

Cocoa Cola
I love the name! I don’t know if they named it after they made it or whether they made it because someone thought of the name, but either way it is genius and made me laugh. There are giant jelly cola bottles decorating this one which makes it difficult to break up and share, but they do look the part. The flavour is quite something. There is lots of cola taste, but also the smooth flavours of both white and milk chocolate. It’s very different and a curious combination but it worked. I have a sweet tooth and I think you'd need one for this bar. Cola is sugary but the cola’s citrus and warm flavours shone through too. It’s hard to describe the taste as I’ve never had anything like it before, but the closest thing I can think of is Caramac and that doesn’t do it justice, but probably gives you a sweetness guide. I loved this bar, but I would like it without the jellies as although they looked pretty they were a tad chewy and broke up the texture.

Rhubarb & Custard
This bar is a bright pink and yellow in colour, and reminds me of the classical sweets. It is very vibrant to look at. There are sweets decorating it too, but thankfully they are lovely and soft and not at all chewy. The base flavour is gorgeous, there are wonderfully creamy tones of custard, and a fabulous zingy flavour from the rhubarb. The flavours changes with each bite, and brings a different ratio of custard and rhubarb flavours. It worked surprisingly well as a bar and the white chocolate tones helped the smoothness of the custard too. I loved the unique nature of the concept, and the strength of flavours was very impressive.

In short these bars are fun, creative and tasty and really do tick all the boxes. Enjoy them for what they, different and flavoursome and when you eat them let them take you back to being a kid when chocolate was just a fun treat.
By Cinabar