30 April 2012

Galaxy Flutes (Boots) [By @Cinabar]

My local branch of Boots seems to always be surprisingly well stocked when it comes to new products. It may seem strange for a shop that it ultimately a pharmacy, but it just goes to show that a dose of chocolate is best medicine! ;-)
This new bar from Galaxy seems to be aiming itself at the lower calorie end of the treat market. It states on the packet quite prominently that it contains just 56 calories, but this is per stick and there are two in the pack. Although 112 calories is still impressively low, I would like to add that the bar itself is very light and looks quite small compared to the other bars that were next to it.
Inside the pack were two smallish sticks of chocolate. Each one consists of a wafer tube dipped in Galaxy milk chocolate, and filled with Galaxy crème. I can honestly say they tasted divine. I love the luxury taste of Galaxy, its rich full on creamy taste. The crème inside the tubes tastes fantastically lush, and the silky texture is a lovely contrast to the crisp wafer. They are a pleasure to munch on, as the wafer breaks away revealing the soft centre. These were full of smooth chocolate and were an absolute treat. The Galaxy coating added to the whole and made them feel a little more solid, but they were still gone rather too quickly. That is the problem, they just don’t feel at all substantial. They weren’t filling, they were more of a quick chocolate taster, albeit a lovely one. Don’t get me wrong if you are calorie counting this makes an excellent guilt free treat, and would get rid of a chocolate craving. However if you aren’t and you want a more filling snack, I can’t help thinking you’d be better off using them to decorate a bowl of ice cream! :-D
Nice, in fact they are a really nice chocolate treat, just a little small for my tastes.
By Cinabar

29 April 2012

Heinz Squeeze & Stir - Minestrone Soup [By @NLi10]

 Previously we discussed how soup was a generally mistreated snack, and found that the Tomato version of this seemingly odd soup was pretty nice and well worth hunting out. If you haven't seen that one, it's worth a click as this is essentially a part two.

It's not usually worth digging into a range unless the basic product is done well, and even then you kind of guess that the rest will be similar and carry on exploring the snack aisle. Today's review primarily exists as I'd no idea how Heinz would cram pasta into a tiny little sachet and still make it edible.

Squeezing the soup made the following unappetising splooge. Fortunately as with a lot of food prep the lovely smell overpowers the oddly wormy sight and most people will carry on to the next step.

This is of course the stir! Following the two stage preparation algorithm and taking into account that my work mug is a good chunky one by not over-filling it gave me a good strong soup that as mentioned is basically half a can of the Heinz varieties that they mimic.

The particle size in the minestrone soup is a little small, and the pasta is more like a lentil size but is no less nice for it. I seem to remember that Heinz Minestrone has little hoops in it which I'd have preferred but the texture of the real thing is similar to this. The flavour is spot on - this is basically a paste version of the tins of soup we've all been having for years.

I need to remember to hunt this out next time I shop. The people in the office I go in to nick the boiling water have already started buying these too (mostly the unadventurous tomato but it's a start!) so they must be out there. I can't imagine a leek & potato or similar Heinz 'BIG' soup in this, but I'm almost positive the range doesn't stop at two varieties so joined their facebook (one of those silly ones where you have to click like to get the info so feel compelled to unlike it again as you leave), and found there is a Tomato & Basil (Pizza flavour) and a Mediterranean vegetable which I can also try. I find their lack of Chicken disturbing, but maybe that will appear next winter.

I can't wait to see if they manage to do squeeze and stir Heinz baked beans...
By NLi10

28 April 2012

Jeremiah Weed – Sour Mash Brew and Root Brew [By @SpectreUK]

Jeremiah Weed – Sour Mash Brew

There was a quote on the bottom of the bottle stating that Mr Jeremiah Weed was an original southern gentleman from Kentucky, USA. This Sour Mash Brew was produced and bottled by the Jeremiah Weed Distilling Company in London, rather far from the Deep South of the USA. Its ingredients included; fruit alcohol (16.5%), Bourbon (4.9%) and flavourings, and was 4% volume.

On opening this brew definitely had a whisky type bourbon smell to it. The beverage had an initial fruity taste, followed by a bourbon or whisky flavour mixed with ginger. There was no beer taste to this beverage at all, this was proved by Cinabar when she tasted it, stating that she liked it and that it tasted like a “fruity fizzy whisky pop!”, although there had never been any promise of beer or ale on the bottle’s label. There was a distinct ginger ale aftertaste to this beer, with fruity undertones. The fruitiness in this beverage didn’t taste overly sweet like some fruit beers I have tasted in the past, as it had a grown up feel to it, with a mild sourness merged smoothly with the ginger. I found this beverage had a very pleasant flavour, it also had warming qualities that was most welcome during this cold and rainy April.

Jeremiah Weed – Root Brew

The name “Root Brew” suggested Root Beer to me. I’ve never been a fan of American Root Beer. It has that wintergreen flavour that we Brits usually identify with mouthwash. Not a good thing, not something that we’d want to swallow, rather something that dentists torture us with after they’ve already tortured us with a drill or some other nightmarish dentist’s torture equipment. I’m fortunate to have a fantastic dentist, but he has some serious torture equipment and an equally sadistic sense of humour! Anyway, I digress... the ingredients in this beverage contained fruit alcohol (19.4%), spirit (1.6%) and flavourings and was 4% volume.

On opening there was a seriously heavy ginger smell that almost made me sneeze. There was no discernable root beer in the smell, but there was a hint of unidentifiable liquor. There was such a heavy ginger smell that I began to worry that this beverage was a pure ginger beer / ale. Like Root Beer, I’ve never been a fan of ginger beer or ale either. I like ginger in biscuits and other foods, but not in drinks. I passed the brew to Cinabar who said it tasted like a fruity ginger ale, but was far too bitter for her tastes. This intrigued me, so I decided to take a swig. There was indeed a heavy ginger taste to this fizzy beverage, followed by a smooth fruitiness and a kick from the liquor. There was no discernable root beer flavour to this brew, of which I was most relieved. This beverage had a smooth fruity and yet heavy bitter ginger flavour that both tickled the taste buds and gave them a pleasurable kicking from the bitterness at the same time. I was so taken by this ginger brew, that I will definitely try other gingers ales / beers to see if my taste buds really have changed over the years and that I do actually like ginger drinks now.

I had at first been put off these drinks by their traditional style labels, as Jeremiah Weed sounds a little like a toothless mud covered gold panning Southern country gent who stinks of some unknown alcohol that was brewed in his oily shed, which would put hairs on your chest regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. How wrong was I? Both these Jeremiah Weed beverages had pleasurable fruitiness and ginger bitterness that smacked of pure unabashed liquor. I will definitely have these beverages in for regular consumption. If the Deep South of the USA tastes like this then I’ll certainly have to visit someday. “Yee...harh! Thar’s gold in them thar bottles!!”
By Spectre

27 April 2012

Willie’s Delectable Cacao: Dark Chocolate with Ginger & Lime [@WilliesCacao] (@Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

It’s been a long time since I last wrote about Willie’s Delectable Cacao bars. I guess this is down to my sense of adventure and flavour always wanting something a little bit more than a plain chocolate bar, which is what the brand does so well. As I was having a bit of a browse in the chocolate section in Waitrose I spotted this bar, and realised that this was a combination of the fine chocolate and an exotic twist. I was impressed to see that the ingredients were 100% natural, and contained no unexpected additives.
The bar is packaged in a simple, but smart, lime green box. The bars are square not oblong, but still seem to pack a fair amount of chocolate into the packet. Once unwrapped, the bar again sticks to a neat logo embossed into the dark chocolate, but there are no markings to break chunks off.
I snapped a corner of the chocolate off and found that it came away fairly easily for a dark chocolate, but still broke cleanly. It also began to release a gentle aroma of lime and ginger that smelt wonderfully fragrant and appealing.
The cocoa is 70% and from Sierra Leone. It had a wonderful rich dark woody taste that filled the senses. The lime breaks it up a little adding a sharp zingy taste, and a burst of tangy citrus. The last flavour to show through is the crystallised ginger. Impressively it manages to give a good warmth and spice, without being in any way over powering. A little bit of sweet heat works so well with chocolate, but a fire can ruin in, thankfully this bar had a good taste of ginger without the unsightly kick.
This a well balance bar, and the flavours just complement one another perfectly. It has exotic and aromatic flavours that I thoroughly enjoyed. I do hope that Willie’s Delectable Cacao brand intends to bring out a few more interesting flavours, because this bar really impressed me and I do want to try more!
By Cinabar

26 April 2012

Butterbeer & Chocolate Frogs (Warner Bros. Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter) [By @NLi10]

Yesterday a group of us went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour near Leavesdon. For normal Harry Potter fans there are lots of things to go for, for foodies there are two - Butterbeer & the sweets in the giftshop.

About 2/3rds of the way round there is an outside bit which is the 'back-lot' of the film studio and contains things that you wouldn't expect to see inside and are fairly rain proof. There is also a refreshments stand that sells Butterbeer! If you haven't heard of this then the tour porbably isn't for you - you need to appreciate a bit of the story to get the most out of it. The main characters look forwards to Butterbeer from Hogsmeade when they go on their school trip there. It's never said to be alcoholic in the books, and it certainly isn't here. We bought one to share amongst 4 (it was only £2.95 but I'd seen a few half drunk ones floating around and didn't want to risk it).

Here is me on the actual Knight bus with my Butterbeer! You can't tell this is a giant purple triple-decker bus from this pic, but it is.

And here is the best cropped close-up of the drink I have - it's essentially a 'float'. This is a fizzy drink with vanilla ice-cream on the top. I'm not really sure what the base drink is, it's almost like non-gingery ginger beer, or a less sweet lucozade. It is VERY sweet, and after all 4 people had a small taste I was the only one willing to finish it. In the interests of Science and like Spectre many times before me I finished the beer-like-beverage. I enjoyed it, but I certainly couldn't drink this by the pint! As a welcome drink while wandering around it was perfect, like the Aztec chocolate drink you got when Cadbury's World first opened round the corner from us.

Oh but what of the fabled giftshop! Much has been written about the small section by the door with £150 Snape coats & Dumbledore's Robes for £500 but frankly the rest of the shop is just like a normal London tourist attraction. T-shirts were around £25 but of a very nice quality, and I got a £22 Silk Tie (Slytherin, naturally). One of our 7 Wizards picked up a £7.99 chocolate frog from the shop which is a huge 150g monstrosity and is as close to film authentic as you can realistically expect to get.

It even has a 3D wizard at the bottom of the box - it's Slytherin again! That japester gets everywhere!

I can easily recommend a trip to Harry Potter World for anyone that loved all the books (or films), I avoided all spoilers beforehand and haven't put any here, but suffice to say there is a LOT to look at and as time progresses they are only going to expand this. It's like a little American tourist experience in the Hertfordshire countryside and is half a day well spent.
By Nli10

25 April 2012

Rowntrees’ Fruit Bottles [By @SpectreUK]

These Rowntrees’ Fruit Bottles were made with 25% fruit juice, of which included apple juice, lemon, lime, cherry, blackcurrant and orange, amongst the other ingredients, as well as having no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. The 45g bag had 149 calories, with 0.2g fat and 22.9g sugar. “Pretty high in sugar!” I hear your mind cogs clunking, but remember; these gummies are sweets and were made with 25% fruit (and fruit comes with its own supply of sugar). The bottles were the same size as regular Cola Bottles, but without the sour sugar coating.
There was a smiley face on each bottle, with four flavours to choose from, all of which had mild hints of apple juice. The dark red bottle had a tangy blackcurrant taste, whereas the light red bottle had a pleasant gentle cherry flavour. The green bottle had a sour lemon and lime flavour, and the orange bottle, which was my favourite flavour of the bag, had a good honest orange tang to it. I munched these squidgy Fruit Bottles on a sunny afternoon whilst stuck at work, and they were a refreshing boost against the heat in the office and the mountain of dull paperwork. For a short while they made me feel young again, so thank you Rowntrees. ;-)
By Spectre

24 April 2012

Ribena Plus – Apple & Peach (WH Smiths) (@RibenaUK) [By @Cinabar]

I know that breakfast cereals are practically always fortified with vitamins these days, but it seems to be becoming more common place in the drinks market. They add the vitamins to help top up your daily intake, but I’m never sure how useful it is to somebody who has a balanced diet anyway. Having said that, with the cold weather an extra dose of Vitamin C to fend off cold bugs might be useful, particularly as Spectre keeps sneezing! They have also added Vitamin A and Vitamin E for extra benefits.
As you can probably tell, I bought this drink because it is a new flavour, and not desperately because of the extra vitamins. I was pleased to see that it was low calorie, as my sugar intake is covered from the other treats I partake in – see the rest of the blog! ;-) I like to kid myself that having low calorie drinks somehow compensates in my diet.
I thoroughly enjoyed the flavour which was impressively fruity and refreshing. The apple taste appeared first, which was sharp and had a lot of bite, this then mellowed to a soft peach which was juicy and sweet. I liked the two tones to the flavour and they complemented each other really well. The vitamins may be useful for winter colds, but the flavour is all summer, let’s hope the weather starts to match!
By Cinabar

23 April 2012

PopChips Barbeque Crisps [@popchipsuk @waitrose] [By @Cinabar]

PopChips are a new brand here in the UK, but are more common place in the States. The word ‘chips’ in their title hints at their American background, but we know what they mean! ;-)
The idea behind these crisps is that they are a healthy alternative to regular crisps as they haven’t been fried. You may assume then that these crisps were baked, but actually they have been popped. It may sound strange, but apparently if you apply a little heat and pressure to a potato slice it pops, rather like popcorn.
I picked up theses barbeque flavour PopChips in Waitrose, in a single serving bag as I couldn’t see any multipacks. They had a ready salted and a sour cream flavour individually too, but this one sounded the most interesting. Each crisp looks rather thick, and does appear slightly bubbled in appearance. They were coated with a sprinkle of a red powder that seemed to be fairly evenly distributed.
I have to say the texture of these crisps really is something quite special. They are remarkably crunchy and satisfying to munch. There are lots of layers to bite through, but they are not overly hard. It’s a clever texture and I really liked it. The taste was impressive too, these crisps were good and strong. The flavour combined a nice mix of sweet tomato, a good smoky hit and a gentle warmth from some spice, and it was rather moreish. It reminded me of pork barbeque ribs, because of the tomato base flavour, and it worked well making them super tasty.
I also found the bag of crisps to be perfectly filling with a  sandwich at lunch time, and it didn’t taste at all low fat. The packaging of these PopChips doesn’t draw much attention to their healthy status, but it really should. There were less than 100 calories in the serving and they are very low fat, but you would never be able to tell from the taste! That's my kind of product!
I will definitely be going back to Waitrose to try the other varieties, healthy crisps just don’t usually taste this good!
By Cinabar

22 April 2012

Spicier Quorn and Bigger Pear Pies [by @NLi10]

I've reviewed a few things over the past year that have alternate versions now available so I thought I'd sandwich two of these together as mini reviews.

First up is Quorn Light Bites as the Spicy flavour instead of the original ‘Roast’ that I had previously eaten. These have a slight chilli taste to them which I quite liked, and the moist nature of the Quorn means that any burn is quenched really quickly so you can keep on munching. These had a much less chicken centred flavour than the previous Roast version, which I guess is kind of obvious when you think about it, so I'd recommend these more readily to vegetarians even though both are totally meat free.

As my sole celebratory effort for the Royal Wedding which must be about a year ago now I ate a Royal Pear Pie. I was a little underwealmed but it was enjoyable enough for me to risk buying the giant version that is now available.

This is just a pie top and doesn't have pastry sides which automatically looses it points in my pastryphile world, but it's a really great sharing pie. The filling seemed to disappear quite quickly so you have to be careful when serving it up but the pears had more crunch than I remembered and the Rum & Chocolate flavours worked well to make a nice sophisticated pudding. Well worth getting in when you have the parents round!
By NLi10

21 April 2012

Gooseberry Fool (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

This Gooseberry Fool was packaged in a 114g cardboard pot that weighed in at 225 calories! I say “weighed in”, as calories seem to head straight towards my already portly belly. I thought this calorie count was quite high until I noticed that the yogurt is made up of 26% whipping cream, as well as 22% gooseberries, 27% yogurt, and 25% of other stuff. I noticed on the pot it mentioned that the overall yogurt was not vegetarian friendly, having been made with pork gelatin. The allergy advice on the pot was quite contradictory by saying; “No nuts” and then, “but cannot guarantee no nuts”, which is pretty scary if you have a serious nut allergy and are in a rush and only read the first bit.

On peeling back the lid I immediately noticed that there were lots of bits of chopped gooseberry in amongst the creamy white yogurt. I’ve never been a fan of yogurt with bits in it, but I persevered for blogging sake. Honestly, the things I have to put up with for Foodstuff Finds… odd tasting beersPot Noodlessweetsbiscuits… whipping cream… Okay, so it’s not all bad! Anyway, the yogurt and whipping cream had predictably merged rather well together to produce a luxuriously creamy delight, but with nobly bits of gooseberry mixed in to break the concentration. The gooseberry pieces made the overall yogurt taste quite tart, which was almost balanced by the whipping cream and yogurt. I felt very indulgent and quite naughty eating this dessert, but I couldn’t eat it every day as I feel I’d grow too large to fit in the house. There are lots of healthier yogurts on the market without the added whipping cream, but if you fancy a sour but creamy treat then this yogurt may be for you.
By Spectre

20 April 2012

Nestle New Rolo Bar (WH Smith) [By @Cinabar]

This new bar from Rolo is flat. Rolo’s are round, it’s ‘their thing’. As such, I can’t help thinking this bar is a bit of a strange idea. Even the name Rolo sounds round, it’s an abbreviation of the word roll, with an extra ‘o’ to really emphasis the circular nature of the product! So what is going on here?
The chocolate in the bar is the same as the chocolate in regular Rolos, but the new shape means that there is more of it in ratio to the caramel. It turns out that this isn’t a good thing, the chocolate isn’t that impressive and you notice it a lot more when it is in bar format. There doesn’t seem to be enough cocoa flavour, and it’s not a very defined or clean taste. The caramel inside the bar, is still perfectly tasty and oozes sweetness, there just isn’t enough of it to bring it back.
Following on from a conversation at work, I recently put a poll on this website asking whether or not chocolate tasted better in egg format compared to being in a bar. The results were surprisingly mixed, with 45% of people agreeing that they thought that chocolate does taste better shaped like an egg. For me the reverse is true for Rolos, they changed the format, and it doesn’t taste as good. The explanation for this is more around the amount of chocolate compared to the caramel and how the percentage of this seems to have changed. I think it’s lost the balance it had before.
Rolos should be round, that’s my opinion, and it’s an association I am having problems ignoring. The bar was nice enough, but I think I’d rather have a tube of Rolos. Having said that, I wouldn’t pass up a packet of the essentially giant (but round) biscuit Rolos if anyone was offering!
By Cinabar

19 April 2012

Heinz Squeeze and stir Cream of Tomato Soup (Asda) [By @NLi10]

Of all the convenience foods that we see regularly soup is probably the one that is subjected to the most abuse. It’s most commonly canned for years at a time, powdered and put into mugs, and condensed into a variety of forms. Recently a few companies have tried to push for better soups where it’s refrigerated in a carton or see through plastic tub and has so many varieties and odd flavours you’d suspect that those Innocent people are behind it. Cup-a-soup and it’s variants used to be a great thing to grab for winters at work, but I’d not bought any for a good while when I spotted the Heinz Squeeze and Stir range. I’m sure these must have come out before Winter, but I missed them.

This is a small pouch that looks like it’s a cooking sauce or maybe art materials, but it claims to be a rich instant cup-a-soup and 1 of our 5 a day. From directions it makes up about half a can of soup so seems like a snack sized portion. To be fair to the brand I picked up an easy win Tomato soup, and a far more complex Minestrone (I’m not sure how all the pasta will be the same proportionally in a 70g pouch) and today it’s the turn of the tomato one.

Squirting the contents out of the plastic really is like spreading some acrylic paint – it’s good fun and you can smell the tomato as it fills up the bottom of the cup. Unfortunately I was in a rush and didn’t have my phone on me so no pics of this, but I’ll try to grab one of the Minestrone soon. I did the soup as instructed by the instruction and put the boiling water in over two stages, stirring in-between. I think I overfilled it at the 2nd stage as I have a pretty big mug so I think the final flavours may be stronger.

Flavour wise I didn’t expect much. Cream of Tomato is nice, but not my favourite. Turns out it tastes pretty much the same as the canned variety. There is a good chance that soups are usually made from concentrate anyway and this just brings that final process a lot closer to home. For some reason I also thought that it wouldn’t be as hot as a regular soup. It was certainly hot enough to scald my tongue! It was a nice afternoon snack (once it had cooled a bit) and I was left feeling like I could eat the other half of the can too. Maybe two pouches could fix this. The paste at the bottom of the cup was a little thicker than at the top meaning the flavour intensified throughout which was nice, but as I mentioned I think I overfilled.

Can’t wait to try the Minestrone, and I hope there is a Cream of Chicken one to try too.
By NLi10

18 April 2012

Heinz Big Soup - Steak and Potato with HP Sauce (Asda) [By @SpectreUK]

April showers are never much fun and with the added misery of Britain’s inability to shake off the winter chills, I found myself in search of a warming soup one wet and dreary afternoon. At 410g, 286 calories, with 7.6g fat, and 9g sugar and with no artificial colours, I figured this soup would probably fill me up on its own, but the greedy devil on my shoulder suggested I have a roast chicken sandwich with lashings of grainy mustard and a packet of Royster’s T-Bone Steak flavoured bubble crisps, all washed down with a lovely dark pint of Murphy’s Stout. The soup’s ingredients included; HP Brown Sauce (5%), potatoes (20%), beef (9%), vegetables (33%), of which included peas, carrots, and onions, as well as black pepper and vegetable oil, amongst other things. A warning on the outside of the bowl stated that this soup contained gluten, wheat, barley, rye and sulphites. I heated the bowl for two and a half minutes in the microwave. The soup had a beefy gravy texture with a good hit from the HP Brown Sauce. There were numerous potatoes with plenty of vegetables mixed liberally in with the small chunks of succulent beef, which was all perfectly cooked and just melted in the mouth, whilst lovingly wrapped by the gravy type soup. The sauce mixed in with the “gravy” was an excellent treat, and I would definitely add HP Sauce to future roast beef and potato gravy meals. This was easily one of the best microwave pot meals I’ve tasted in recent years; filling, warming and most welcome against the chill rain outside.
By Spectre

17 April 2012

J2O – [New] Papaya Punch (Cosmo) [By @Cinabar]

I have to confess to being a bit of a J2O fan. I like to have a soft drink when I’m out for a meal, as wine really does nothing for me. It won’t shock you to discover I have a bit of a sweet tooth. J2O have given me an extra option on the menu, and I love working my way through their mix of flavours. At Christmas time I couldn’t get enough of the Glitterberry drink, the edible glitter within it just made smile and feel bizarrely glamorous! :-D I knew that it was a seasonal special and supplies have been running out recently, so I have been keeping my eyes open to see what would be replacing it.
At a recent meal at Cosmo (an amazing chain buffet restaurant) I discovered that the new variety for the season is this Papaya Punch, and obviously that’s what I chose. The bottle is rather pretty, and even has a neat floral pattern all over it. It looks bright and it wouldn’t look out of place at a summer barbecue, if the weather ever turns. It makes me think that this new J2O will be with us for quite a while, because the flowers all over the label just scream hot weather. Sadly it doesn’t contain any edible glitter, but it does have a good mix of papaya, peach and orange instead!
The base flavour is actually more peach than papaya, but it still has a good tropical edge. The papaya does show through, but is more of the finish flavour and hits with a hint of orange at the end of each sip. This new J2O is very smooth, and easy to drink. I think the addition of the peach just adds a lovely mellow taste, and the juice is silky smooth but still quite sweet. If you are not careful you could easily find yourself supping the whole thing down rather quickly, and you have to remind yourself to savour it and enjoy the refreshing fruity taste.
I was sad to see Glitterberry disappear off the shelves, but I have to say I am loving the new Papaya Punch. It contains a good mix of fruits, and the use of papaya makes it a bit different and special. It’s another refreshing and well balanced fruity mix from J2O that won’t disappoint.
By Cinabar

16 April 2012

Jack N Jill – Pretzels Chocolate Sticks (Pinoy Foods, Birmingham) [By @Cinabar]

Spectre bought these chocolate sticks back for me after a wander around his favourite import shop in Birmingham. As we are fans of all things Pocky style I was looking forward to trying them, and according to the box they originated in the Philippines.
The packaging really caught my eye with this product. The characters on the front look quite sweet, but once you turn it over it becomes clear they are part of a game. The back panel of the box should be cut out and once you have collected the other 11(!) back panels – you are almost ready to play as this forms the main board game. Then all you have to do is collect the remaining 12(!) other back panes needed for the game – these include characters, a game compass and game cards – and at the end of it you will have eaten your way through 24 boxes and have a simple board game for your trouble. My oh my that’s quite a few boxes of Pretzels Chocolate Sticks!
Anyway as I only have one game card, I skipped this step, opened up the box and got straight to munching. Unlike Pocky these biscuit sticks don’t have the end of the biscuit left uncovered, which avoid sticky fingers. They are totally dipped in chocolate. The pretzel section of the biscuit is quite thick and delivers a good flavour, but the chocolate coating is quite thin. Sadly the quality of the chocolate is also a bit lacking, it’s not a bad taste, it’s just a bit like cheap chocolate and means the finished sticks are missing that bit of magic. They are pleasant enough to munch on, and I’ll happily finish the box but I shan’t be asking Spectre to rush out and get another pack. I think that chocolate has a regional taste, and clearly the Philippines variety just doesn’t match my British taste buds. I shouldn’t complain too much as they were just 75p, and they still provided a decent snack for me while watching the end of the Titanic series on Sunday night TV.
By Cinabar

15 April 2012

Oreo Ice-Cream (Japan?) [by @NLi10]

I do like Oreos. I was fairly sceptical at first that something American could beat the humble British bourbon, but over time I've realised that there is room in the biscuit ecosystem for both. Oreo also have an incredible love of disturbing flavours, which is odd as essentially the biscuit can’t change much else the product is unrecognisable.

This particular type is an import variety that I’ve been holding onto in the snack bag for a good while. At its most basic this is that synthetic blueberry flavour that is sweet American ice-cream or bubblegum flavour. It's not unpleasant. To make this more of an ice-cream experience there is a chemical which makes the cream feel like it is cold to the taste.

This is quite a novelty, you get a tingly sensation as you crunch away! Well, maybe you have felt this sensation before because it’s very similar to that produced by toothpaste! I've had some American chewing gum with a similar effect, and while it's not an unpleasant association it's not one that makes you rush back to the packet for more.

The actual blueberry flavour hides underneath this and the big chocolate taste of the biscuit and just adds a hint to the experience that is sweeter than the usual vanilla and different enough to want to share with friends (mostly to freak people out) but maybe not to get a second packet of.
By NLi10

14 April 2012

Mikado – Daim (Asda) [@Mikado_UK @asda] [By @Cinabar]

I made specific trips to two branches of Asda to find these biscuits as they are exclusive to that supermarket. The first visit was okay, but the shop didn’t stock them (that was Asda Telford). The experience in the second branch of Asda was so dreadful I almost left my entire trolley of purchases and walked out of the shop because of these biscuits. It was Asda Wolverhampton, and having picked up all our groceries we made our way to the ‘interesting’ stuff, i.e. the chocolate, crisps and biscuit aisles.
As it is a branch of Asda I’m not familiar with I couldn’t find the Mikado biscuits on the shelves. Lucky for me there was a lady stacking shelves in that section. I asked her if she could tell me where the Mikado biscuits were. She snapped at me and said “If they aren’t out we don’t have them in stock”. This was a surprisingly short and rude reply and it didn’t answer my question. I explained to her that I wasn’t telling her that there weren’t any out on the shelves, just that I didn’t know where to look. Again she snapped at me, and said “well neither do I”. Then she just ignored me and carried on stacking the shelves (in the biscuit section I might add).
It was late in the day on Good Friday and we had a full trolley but Spectre and I still discussed walking out, because no member of staff should speak to a customer in such a discourteous way. I was trying to spend money there after all. However the Mikado biscuits were the last thing on the list, and as we stood there steaming from our treatment the biscuits caught my eye tucked away fairly low on one of the shelves. The Mikado Daim edition was there too, so I picked up a couple of boxes and we left. Sadly unless one of the other supermarkets start stocking these it is going to be my only purchase, as I have no intentions to go back. Sorry for the rant, but it was related to the Mikado biscuits!
Anyway back to the goodies in hand. We are big Mikado/Pocky fans here at Foodstuff Finds, and I have loved this style of biscuits ever since NLi10 introduced me to them, a few years back. Mikado are still fairly new in the UK, but I am really pleased to see the range is expanding, and as I love Daim bars I was keen to give these ones a try. The biscuit sticks are all coated in milk chocolate, with a gap for fingers to pick them up, and these particular ones then had little pieces of Daim caramel also stuck to them. Visually there didn’t seem to be that much of the caramel, but there must have been more than I thought as the flavour shone through. The taste was really sweet and had such a rich brown sugar and caramel brittle taste it made them very moreish and tasty. You could certainly feel the crunchy bits when you ate, but they thankfully weren’t big enough to get stuck in your teeth. The chocolate was lovely and creamy too and helped to recreate the whole Daim bar feel and add that lovely hit of cocoa.
I thoroughly enjoyed these Daim biscuits and would totally recommend them. Here is hoping some of the other supermarkets start stocking them, because I certainly would buy them again, just not from that branch of Asda.
By Cinabar

13 April 2012

Tabasco Chipotle – New Smoky BBQ Flavour (@Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

We’ve written about Tabasco sauce flavours before with their Hot Tabasco Habanera Sauce, Mild Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce, Smoked Tabasco Sauce with Smoked Red Chipotle Jalapeños, even trying their Tabasco Pizza. This new Tabasco Chipotle Smoky BBQ flavour was packaged in the usual 60ml bottle. The ingredients included; Chipotle (smoked red jalapeno) pepper, distilled vinegar, onion, and garlic, amongst other things. The sauce box suggested using this sauce as a marinade, for basting or for adding an extra kick to baked beans. I decided to try this new Smoky BBQ flavour on my stalwart favourite for hot chilli sauces, which is cheese on toast! After Cinabar had prepared a few rounds for me I generously dobbed this sauce in a huge brown blob on my plate and tucked in. I immediately found that this sauce has a lovely smoky barbeque taste with a good chilli bite from the Tabasco. Cinabar wasn’t keen on the taste when she tried it on her cheese on toast, as she said the sauce was too sour from the vinegar. I personally revelled in the sour Smoky BBQ chilli heat. It wasn’t long before I’d noticed half the bottle had gone on just a few rounds of cheese on toast. I just couldn’t help but splash as much of this tasty hot smoky BBQ sauce on my plate as I could dare. I did notice I had quite a burning sensation on my tongue after a while, but it was a glorious heat, rather than an uncomfortable sweat inducing burn some hot sauces can produce. I’ll definitely have to get some more of this Smoky BBQ flavour sauce and try it with different foods other than just cheese on toast... Mmmm... I think I’ll have a fry up tonight! ;-)
By Spectre

12 April 2012

Lucozade REVIVE (Birmingham, New Street) [by @NLi10]

I've been pottering through the range of new Lucozade drinks for a while now and while waiting for friends at a station came across this new addition to the range. The REVIVE packaging manages to look both girly and sporty at the same time without being too off-putting. Only after I bought it did I notice that it contained Ginger which I am not a massive fan of.

The flavour of the drink is lighter than expected and is slightly tingly. There is really a strong lemon taste but it's not unpleasant, and it's not too fizzy unlike the original bright orange Lucozade.

The packaging attributes the energising and revitalising properties of the drink to various B vitamins that are contained within it. I suspect upon reading the ingredients that a lot of the reinvigoration is due to the Caffeine. This isn't unpleasant, and doesn't make you hyperactive, and is just a nice boost to start the day. I think this would probably work well in a tired office environment, and less well for sporting activities.

For a pound it's not a bad pick me up. I think if I was in a similar situation and out and about or feeling a little bit rundown, then I may pick it up again. I don't think it's something I would want to have every day.
By Nli10

11 April 2012

Vifon – Tomato and Chicken noodle soup (Birmingham Indoor Market) [By @SpectreUK]

This Tomato and Chicken noodle soup was produced by Vifon, in Poland. You’ll see in the photograph that there was a free plastic spoon, but I used a metal fork instead in order to curl up the noodles (and I’ve seen what boiling water can do to plastic spoons in the past), there was also a vegetable sachet, a soup base sachet and a tomato and chicken metal soup carton. There was 40% stewed chicken in the metal meat carton, and 35% canned tomato, amongst other things. Other ingredients in the noodle soup included; spring onion, pepper, paprika, garlic, celery, carrot, and leek. I decided to watch Ironclad, which is a siege film set just after the Magna Carta was signed by Bad King John, in 1215. The preparation instructions on the cardboard bowl were a little confusing for my tender hungry brain, so I dumped everything into the bowl with the noodles and poured in the required 300ml of boiling water, leaving to stand for a few minutes whilst I watched heads and arms and legs being hacked off in the gory movie. I then stirred the blood red noodle soup, mixing in all the noodles, vegetables, soup base and stewed chicken. The soup smelt very much of tomato with a subtle meaty spicy hint. There were lots of vegetable bits in with the pieces of stewed chicken and thin stringy noodles. The soup felt very healthy and had a heavy tomato flavour with a definite meaty spicy mention. It was a messy soup to eat so I had to lean, shovel noodles into my mouth and mop my chin with a tissue on the odd occasion, but it tasted absolutely great. I drank the rest of the soup off after eating all the noodles, vegetables and meat. I was impressed at how well all the ingredients from the sachets had mixed in together with no residue in the bottom of the cardboard bowl. This was a very thick tomato noodle soup, not watery like some pot noodles can lean to. I loved every minute of the stringy meaty spicy tomato noodle soup and would definitely have it again. If you like a good sword, armour, blood and gore yarn I’d definitely recommend the film too! It was my favourite movie so far this year! ;-)
By Spectre

10 April 2012

Prestat – Fine Chocolates and Truffles (@Selfridges @Prestat) [By @Cinabar]

I actually received this beautiful box of chocolates from Spectre as a treat. They are in stunning heart shaped box, and as they look so special I felt they deserved being blogged about. I also haven’t written about Prestat chocolates before so I felt it was about time. Prestsat are a rather prestigious chocolatiers established in 1902 and even have a royal warrant.
Inside the posh box are eight chocolates, all a selection from the larger collection and a mix of white, dark and milk chocolates.

The eight chocolates were:

Dark Chocolate Truffle: Top Left (marbled dark chocolate)
The truffle in this chocolate had a perfect satin silky filling with a good warmth of cocoa flavour. The flavour was rich and strong, but had no bitterness, and just a gentle hint of sugar to counter the dark tones. Rich and indulgent.

Dark Violet Cream: Top right (decorated with violet crystals)
This chocolate was coated in a rich dark chocolate, which was lovely and thick. The centre was soft and white in colour, with the delicate aromatic floral taste of violets. The dark chocolate worked well with the soft sweet filling and made a perfect match. I do not understand how chocolate violets have gone out of fashion when they can taste this good.

Milk Sea Salt Caramel Cup: Far left (patterned but flat)
This one was sweet but had a good balance of cocoa. The caramel within was runny, and oozed pleasingly while releasing a buttery, sugary salted caramel taste. Sweet but well balanced.

Dark Passion Fruit: Middle (with a letter P on top)
The thick chocolate on this was very dark in nature and had wonderful strong cocoa, this countered the amazing centre which was impressively fruity. The taste was strong and so natural that it was almost like eating the fruit itself. The chocolate and sweetness of the centre combined perfectly together and created a fabulous flavour sensation. Delicious.

Milk Hazelnut Cluster: Far right (milk choc with nuts)
Hazelnuts in chocolate just can’t go wrong, it is one of my favourite combinations. Prestat have added a bit of magic by caramelising the nuts, just to give them a slight crunch and an extra hint of sweetness. Heaven.

White Coffee Fudge: Bottom left (white square)
The centre of this chocolate is a fudge flavoured with coffee, then dipped in white chocolate. The flavours are very rich and very sweet, but the hint of coffee goes some way to bringing balance. Its super sweet, and very enjoyable as a one off, but I think it might be a bit rich to have too many of these!

Dark Cassis Babe: Bottom right (Dark square)
Essentially this is a blackcurrant jelly dipped slightly in dark chocolate. The jelly centre is zingy and strong, but delivers a natural hit of blackcurrant. The dark chocolate helps smooth out the sharpness of the taste and turns the whole chocolate into a very clever concoction. This chocolate really does have the wow factor and the chocolate and fruit pairing are perfect.

Milk Rice Crispy Nougat: Bottom (Circle design on a square base)
This was a crunchy chocolate with lots of rice crispy bits inside. It was far more brittle than the word ‘nougat’ had made me presume it would be, and had an interesting crunchy texture. The flavour was rather nutty and the milk chocolate that enrobed it gave it a good chocolate hit that was thoroughly divine.

This box from Prestat has certainly got me interested in the brand, and I can’t believe I haven’t written about them before on the blog. I will make an effort next time I’m in Selfridges to see what other goodies are on offer, and have a look at their range of bars too. It’s so exciting to discover a new brand, especially when it is one this good!
By Cinabar

9 April 2012

Heinz Tomato Ketchup – Indian Spices (Asda) [By @Cinabar]

Spectre is a big fan or weird and wonderful chilli sauces that he can dip his chip into. I am a little less adventurous and despite having tried many nice sauces, always come back to good old tomato ketchup. I do however have a tendency to pick up different bottles at the supermarket to try and this new addition to the Heinz range caught my eye. It is a tomato ketchup variant with a mix of Indian Spices. I poured a blob onto my plate, and the consistency was very similar to regular ketchup but the sauce was a lighter colour and looked more orangey.
Now I should tell you that Spectre’s reaction to the taste of the ketchup was very different to mine. He was immediately disappointed at the total lack of chilli heat and couldn’t seem to get past that. I on the other hand loved the stuff. I accept it didn’t have any burn, but the blend of spices where wonderful and distinct. I loved the sweetness from the tomato and all the other flavours that shone through. It was like a Tikka Masala curry sauce in taste, only sweeter and more vibrant.
I have tried this sauce with chips and it is heaven. I’ve put it on sausages and it works like magic, and has such a nice Indian twist. I think the bottle has an amazing potential. I have a burning desire to marinate chicken breasts in the sauce and see how that works out, and then perhaps barbecue the results if the weather ever brightens up. I can turn hot dogs into curry dogs and have even tried it successfully it in a ham sandwich!
I think if you are looking for a tomato ketchup with a wonderful new depth of flavour, and a good whack of curry taste you will love this. If you are expecting a hot kick you should be warned there is almost no heat in there, but the addition of the Indian spices really are out of this world.
By Cinabar

8 April 2012

Morrison's The Best, Sparkling Apple, Raspberry & Rose Juice drink [by @NLi10]

While at my parents for Easter Sunday lunch there was a bottle of non-alcoholic juice drink on offer which we all sampled.

Some of the Shloer style things are quite nice and popular now and I've reviewed a couple of them over the years. This one was a bit generic, the Rose flavour was hiding behind the standard apple and raspberry and the fizz was the highest and most noticeable flavour of all.

It was an enjoyable and refreshing drink and one I'd be happy to have as an accompaniment to a meal again, but to drink as a solo affair it's not quite special enough.
By NLi10

7 April 2012

Tamarind Juice (Pinoy Foods) [By @SpectreUK]

This still Tamarind Juice was made by By Foco, Thai Agri Foods, in Thailand. On the front of the 350ml can there was an image of two tamarinds the like of which didn’t bear thinking about. The nutritional information on the back of the can tried to let me down lightly by giving me serving portions of 100ml at 66.2 calories, which equated to 14.8g of sugar per 100ml. “That’s a lot of sugar!” you may exclaim, but I had been warned before drinking that tamarinds were extremely sour indeed. The juice drink’s ingredients included; water, 30% tamarind, sugar and high fructose syrup. I shook the can well before opening and poured the brown still liquid out into a glass. Apparently tamarind is great for all sorts of ailments including a dodgy stomach, which is good for me, as I frequently have a dodgy stomach (probably testimony to all the dodgy flavoured beers Cinabar makes me drink for this blog). The syrupy juice drink tasted like apple mixed with honey, but it wasn’t sickly sweet, and just had the right amount of sugar and syrup to obliterate any evidence of sourness from the tamarind, leaving me licking my lips and wanting more.
By Spectre

6 April 2012

Bear Yo Yo’s (Pineapple and Apple Variety) [By @Cinabar]

Bear are one of those companies that like to remind people that just because you have a sweet tooth, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthily. Impressively these fruit Yo Yo’s are 100% fruit, and don’t have any nasty additives. If you haven't seen one before a Bear Yo Yo isn’t an actual yoyo it is a strip of fruity goodness all wrapped up, and you can unwind and eat it. It’s fun too, and even comes with a fascinating fact card to collect – I shared my facts with those in the office, and they seemed impressed too!

There are two new flavours in the Yo Yo range, and Bear very kindly sent me a sample of each to try.

As there are no colourings in this fruit Yo Yo, it does look quite dark and brown, and not the usual artificial bright yellow you’d somehow associate with pineapple. I unwrapped the fruit and was pleased to discover that it wasn’t at all sticky and eased apart nicely. The flavour was very natural and had a strong zingy edge, which made it rather refreshing and juicy. I thoroughly enjoyed it, pineapple doesn’t get enough shelf space when it comes to these kind of treats and this just shows what an underestimated fruit it is.

The pineapple may have been brown, but the apple fruity strips are a fab dark green! This will undoubtedly make kids smile, because I loved the colour myself. Again these weren’t sticky and unwound without any hassle, ready for me to eat. The flavour was mild, but distinctively apple in nature, with its fresh edge as an aftertaste. It was more sweet than sharp, and as such very easy to like.

These are an excellent alternative to naughty treats in any lunchbox. As they are pure fruit they are a healthy treat for those with a sweet tooth, and the fun aspect of unwinding the fruit and the fascinating fact card means that you can’t fail to smile while enjoying them. These get a thumbs up from me.
By Cinabar

5 April 2012

Cadbury's Cream Egg Splats and assorted Easter bits (Asda)

Here Mr. Easter Smarties Hen (as yet uneaten) shows us the bag of Splats - as you can see they are small fried egg shaped chocolates with only the whites of the eggs in. Scale gecko wakes up and comes in for scale.

Scale Gecko steals a Splat and demonstrates the fact that they are pretty much just two cadbury's buttons with some sweet white goo in the middle. Goo! If you like a little more sweetness in your buttons they are great, if not then stick to the regular buttons which I suspect are better value per gram of choc than these. They do have a big "ooh" factor though so I like them, expect these to become a seasonal regular.

Here we see Scale Gecko basking in the contents of the right hand box - in which there were no lemon mini cupcakes! These were well received at work and eaten very quickly, but individually are a little unsatisfying. I think as party favours they are fab, but you'd get a little sad if this was a snack. Add party rings and they would make a nice plate at a buffet or birthday though.

Ah - and the Scale Gecko is asleep at last, against a lovely apple & raspberry juice by innocent. This and the tropical drink are both new and so on special offer. Both are twists on the existing Apple & Orange varieties, but this is fine to me as they are strong flavoured and full of typical Innocent goodness.

Bonus picture with feet!

Kipling seem to have a new packaging for slices - and the plastic taste from the other packs seems less evident. This may be my imagination though but the recipe has changed according to the package so less funny Kipling aftertaste - Hooray!

If you only eat the slices one at a time, or only give them to guests while hiding your preferred snacks, then this is perfect.
By NLi10

4 April 2012

Ryvita Minis - Sweet Chilli flavour (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

This Fire Engine red bag caught my eye in the local supermarket, but the big red chilli on the front made me slightly apprehensive. There was also the “new crispier texture” quote on the front that caught Cinabar’s eye, and as neither of us eats Ryvita, it fell to me to write a blog about them. “Aren’t these supposed to be drier than the Sahara Desert?” I exclaimed, “But it says ‘new’ on the bag!” Cinabar said, plying me with a bottle of actual beer for a change, rather than some weirdly flavoured bottled goop. I’ve already sampled the joy of Snack ‘O’ Jack’s Sweet Chilli flavour before, likening them to the sensation of having all the moisture sucked from my body and everyone else’s body within a thousand yards of the open bag. These Ryvita Minis Sweet Chilli flavour’s ingredients included; wholegrain rye flour, sweet chilli flavour, paprika, soy, milk, vegetable oil and salt. Allergy advice stated that these also contain gluten, as well as possibly containing sesame seeds, barley, and celery. So if you fancy playing Russian Roulette with your sesame seed allergy, here is the bag for you. The 30g bag had 113 calories of Ryvitas, with 2.26 fat, and 1.1g sugar, so this all sounds rather healthy, but what do they taste like?

I may have paled a little on first sight of these Ryvita Minis. From the photograph you’ll see they looked a little like small, thick, dry, red dusty rectangular pieces of cardboard. Fortunately I didn’t feel the moisture being sucked from my body on opening the bag or see anyone else pass out through dehydration in the canteen. There was a very mild chilli and paprika smell as I poured the chunky flat Ryvita pieces out into my lunchbox. Although the bright fiery red packet with its images of chillis had promised heat, none came to my lips or tongue or throat on first taste or any other, although these Ryvitas certainly had a pleasant sweet chilli and paprika flavour to them. Despite their texture each crunchy rectangular Ryvita worked extra hard to keep my mouth moist whilst I enjoyed my sandwiches and other bits and bobs in my lunchbox. I certainly felt healthier after eating these, and would recommend them to anyone who desires a snack alternative to crisps or nuts. Ryvita Minis are also available in Salt and Vinegar flavour and Cream Cheese and Chives flavour, which I shall hunt down and try. If they taste half as good as these, then I reckon I could see them in my lunchbox more often as a low calorie, low fat, and low sugar snack treat whilst I try to lose some valuable pounds off my sizable gut!
By Spectre

3 April 2012

Tango Chocolate [Demolition Bars] [By @Cinabar]

Well I never, Tango in a chocolate bar. Orange and chocolate works really well together, I just never associated the brand to develop its products in this way. To be honest I can’t claim to have found this bar myself that honour goes to the lovely DavidH who was kind enough to send me one to try too. I believe it was discovered in a pound shop, and it isn’t one I’ve seen on the high street.
The chocolate bar has a layer of milk chocolate bubbles which form the base, and on top of that is a tangy orange layer, complete with a hint of popping candy to really put the fizz in. Impressively you can smell the orange through the wrapper, but you’d expect no less from a company such as Tango. It’s not known for its subtle products!
The bar is surprisingly soft, and very fruity. The softness is partially put down to the bubbles, but also the milk chocolate seems heavy on the cream flavour and is rather milky too. The orange taste varies impressively with each bite, ranging from a fragrant warm orange to a super zingy hit. I like that, and felt it made the bar more interesting. The popping candy was quite mild, and added a pleasing gently tingle, rather than head explosive popping!
In short, it’s a fab bar. I love the way they have teamed chocolate and the popular drink together, incorporating both bubbles and fizz, it’s such a neat idea. The packaging and branding matches the designs on the drinks bottle, which is bright and stands out nicely. After their Tango Turbo nitro foam, and now this chocolate bar I think the company is really branching out. Tango is such a crazy brand, so it is certainly a company to keep an eye on. If you are lucky enough to see these bars for sale they are well worth picking up. I do hope they start getting sold in a few more mainstream shops too. They are so yummy it seems a shame that you have to hunt for them.
By Cinabar