30 June 2012

Hoegarrden Rosée (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

Cinabar bought me this huge bright red coloured 750ml bottle of Hoegarrden Rosée to torture me with. I did try to hide it, but unfortunately the bottle was so big that I couldn’t find anywhere large and dark enough to shove it (and it’s too late for any suggestions… thank you). I’ve always liked Hoegaarden beer, but this was described on the (far too large) bottle as; “A spiced white beer with natural raspberry flavouring”, which made it sound like one big red bottled nightmare. I’ve tried plenty of fruit beers in the past for this blog. There have been good beer tasting ones, such as Brussels Red Fruit Beer and fruit pop tasting ones such as Liefman's Fruitesse. This Hoegarrden Rosée was made with a minimum 10% fruits of which 6% was raspberry. Prepared in Belgium (where most fruit beers seem to come from), it contained wheat and malted barley, and was brewed with sugar and sweetener. Hoegarrden Rosée was also low in alcohol at 3% volume! Gah! Where was the beer…?

On popping the cork there was quite a strong raspberry smell, which started some alarm bells. There was a pinkish red colour to the beer on pouring. Cinabar had first taste (who likes children’s fruit pop and hates the taste of beer) and liked it, and so the alarm bells became louder in my mind! This beer definitely smelt more of raspberry than of beer, rather than smelling more of beer than of raspberry. One tasting though, I was surprised to find that there was definitely more beer flavour than raspberry, which made a refreshing change and confused me where Cinabar’s taste buds were concerned. The taste was noticeably Hoegaarden beer, and flavoured lightly with fruits, mainly raspberry, rather than like a kid’s raspberry pop drink. This Rosée beer tasted good and refreshing, and would be a perfect summer drink on a sunny day on the beach, in a park or just relaxing in the sun in your own garden, maybe even after a barbecue if you’re lucky with the weather!
By Spectre

29 June 2012

Mr Happy Ice Cream (Tesco) [By @cinabar]

I am a bit of a sucker for all things novelty and for ice cream, so when I saw this in Tesco it was a given that I would pick it up! I used to love the Mr Men / Little Miss when I was younger, and I even gained the nickname of Little Miss Giggles for quite a while! So Mr Happy Ice Cream seemed like the perfect treat.
Once opened I was impressed that the Mr Happy shape was quite clear within the ice cream, and had kept his form well, although not as clear as on the box! Sprinkled on the top of the ice cream log are white chocolate flowers which add a nice touch and a little bit of texture. Other than that the dessert is very smooth, and creamy. The brown section is chocolate flavoured ice cream and has surprisingly good flavour. I was worried that as it is aimed at younger market it might be very sweet, but it is actually well balanced and the cocoa is impressively rich. Mr Happy himself is vanilla, and the ice cream is sweet and creamy and tastes really good.
I was impressed with the quality of the ice cream in this novelty dessert, as it makes it much more of an item to repurchase. I think on a hot summer’s day this would make the perfect post barbecue pudding, whatever the ages of your guests. Seriously how can eating this not make you smile!
By Cinabar

28 June 2012

Llamas BBQ/Sweet Chilli/Cheese Whole Wheat Bites (Tesco) [By @NLi10]

Silly sells.

These are essentially the baked tuck-shop crisps that I used to eat in reception class (when they were called Fish n Chips) but remade for the healthier age. They are whole wheat and baked which adds to the flavour and reduces all the bad things, and they come in big cinema size sharing bags. We took them to see the NFT version of Frankenstein (a play as a film) and the Giant Screen version of Metropolis at Millennium point Birmingham.

The three flavours are all similar in that the base is identical and all varieties are vegetarian which means that no-one feels left out. The biscuits themselves are indeed llama shaped, but during transit some of these become a bit snapped so you do end up with a load of llama heads at the bottom of the pack.

The Sweet Chilli was probably my favourite and these are very mild really, but just exciting enough to be able to keep eating. The BBQ ones are probably the most ordinary of the flavours, but putting them on the baked biscuit still makes it a very compulsive option. I'm not that keen on cheese flavours, but these are more similar to a Wotsit or McVitties Cheddars edible but not my favourite (although the cheese lovers really liked them).

I'd certainly buy these again (at the moment they are £1 a bag which is very reasonable) but the dusty nature of the coating means they would be excluded from most games nights and reserved for things like the cinema or a nice picnic. I'd probably eat these if they were not shaped like Llamas, but I probably wouldn't have noticed them to start with then. Silly only really sells the first time, but quality keeps you coming back for more.
By NLi10

27 June 2012

Roasted Peanut Puffs (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

These Roasted Peanut Puffs were produced by Ellert, in Hertfordshire. Made with farm grown corn and peanuts this crunchy corn snack was blended with sunflower oil, cooked and then coated with ground roasted peanuts. They have the same consistency as cheese balls or puffs, but have a decent flavour of roasted peanuts, rather than cheese. Per 100g serving (but I ate the lot in one go...) they were 500 calories, with 24g of fat and 2.3g of sugar. Suitable for vegetarians and made with no artificial colours, the ingredients included; corn grits, peanut kernels, sunflower oil and tomato. These would go rather well with a few beers and a very long movie, considering the size of the 140g bag. I was dubious at first, thinking these corn snacks would be dry and dull in flavour, but once I’d poured them into a large bowl and started popping them into my watering mouth I quickly realised I just couldn’t stop. Next time I’ll put a longer movie on and grab me a few more cans of beer. Happy munching!
By Spectre

26 June 2012

Smoky Bacon Pom-Bear [Crisps] [By @cinabar]

Recently I have been discovering Pom-Bear crisps, even though I am a little bit late to the party! They have been releasing a fab selection of new varieties which has really caught my attention. If I am choosing crisps flavours for myself I do have a preference for the meaty ones, I love roast chicken crisps and smoky bacon flavour is up there in my top choices too.
Pom-Bear make the cutest of crisps. Each one is in the shape of a teddy bear, and they look so sweet. They have a light crunchy texture, and they dissolve rather easily after a couple of munches.
The flavour of these was impressive. It was quite strong, and had the perfect mix of meatiness and salt, which recreated the bacon flavour rather nicely. The aftertaste was a hint of smokiness than just added nicely to the overall combination.
I think the other thing that adds to my love of these Pom-Bear crisps is the calorie content. At 98 calories per pack, they are super low for crisps, yet have a good full flavour. There also seems to be loads of the little bears in the bag, so you feel like you are getting a decent serving size too.
I have a couple of the multi-packs of these bacon flavour ones, and am very much looking forward to munching my way through them. These are definitely my favourite of the Pom-Bear crisps I have tried, and they are well worth hunting out.
By Cinabar

25 June 2012

Pickled Lettuce in Soy Sauce (Day In supermarket) [By @SpectreUK]

I’m always on the lookout for pickled snacks to have with my Sunday lunchtime sandwich and crisps. I recently picked up a small jar of Pickled Cucumber in Soy Sauce at the Day In Chinese supermarket in the Arcadian, in Birmingham city centre. On my latest jaunt to that favoured FoodstuffFinds haunt I found an equally small sized jar of Pickled Lettuce in Soy Sauce. AGV Products Corporation in Taiwan produced both the Pickled Cucumber and Pickled Lettuce in Soy Sauce. I absolutely loved the Pickled Cucumber in Soy Sauce and was sure that this Pickled Lettuce in Soy Sauce would be super tasty. The only question in my mind was which would I prefer? The Pickled Lettuce in Soy Sauce’s ingredients included; lettuce, soy sauce, mushroom extract, and citric acid, and the allergy advice on the cute little pot stated that it contained soy bean and wheat. On opening the jar I found that the Pickled Lettuce was round and roughly penny sized, like chopped up carrot, but green in colour. The Pickled Lettuce were soft to bite and very juicy with soy sauce. I was surprised to find that I liked them more than the harder Pickled Cucumber, mainly for their malleable and squidgy nature. I could have easily gorged on them all day, if the cute small pot had been a little larger and I hadn’t of had to share them with Cinabar and her mom. This Pickled Lettuce in Soy Sauce just tasted absolutely divine, and I shall definitely be hunting some more out soon.
By Spectre

24 June 2012

Nestle Curiously Strawberry (Tesco) [By @NLi10]

Based on the Nestle Curiously Cinnamon which is a nice crispy, but unusual, taste sensation this takes the same formula and just adds strawberry. It's certainly designed to be light hearted and childish, but doesn't have any activities to do on the box. It does have lots of vague health info to make sure that the parents are convinced that they are not giving their kids bowls of sugar every morning, and fuelling a hyperactive day at school.

As a cereal experience they hit the spot. They are crunchy and have a great flavour which is just the right side of sweet and fruity and doesn't get too overwhelming by the bottom of the bowl. I see them more of a treat cereal than an everyday breakfast and probably would only add a box to the stack in the trolley occasionally.

For people who like a light breakfast and want something a little more exciting than their normal fare then this is a good option.
By NLi10

23 June 2012

Football Fever Swizzels Mix [By @SpectreUK]

This Football Fever Swizzels Mix was produced by Swizzels Matlow. There was two of each sweet type in the mixed bag. Fun Gums were flat penny sized sugared fruit flavoured jelly foam gums. The gums were red one side and white foam the other, with a very tasty and moreish Strawberry flavour. Drumstick Lollies had a vertical split down their centre with one side white and the other pink, and had a succulent raspberry ripple ice cream flavour to them. Double Lollies were a mixture of cherry and orange flavour tasting exactly like the famed Swizzels Matlow’s Double Dip, and I just couldn’t help scoffing these at double speed (sorry!). The new Candy Floss flavoured whistle had a sharp cherry flavour; Cinabar blew the whistle on the train on the way back from a trip to London and gained some funny looks from the other passengers! The last, but not least of the Swizzels Mix was the Fruity Pop boiled sweet lolly. Mine was pineapple flavoured and tasted great, lasting for ages. Cinabar had the blackcurrant Fruity Pop lolly, which she stated had a wonderful blackcurrant zing to it.

I really enjoyed sharing these sweets with Cinabar on the train back from our trip to London. They made us feel young, which is extremely important when eating sweets as an adult. These sweets should be enjoyed by anyone at any age, whether supporting your team in the Euro 2012, or just sharing amongst friends. Also available in the Football Fever range are bags of Swizzels Lollies and bags of Drumsticks.
By Spectre

22 June 2012

Tic Tac –Strawberry Fields (Newsagents, Birmingham Snow Hill) [By @Cinabar]

As the official flavour of summer, it seems reasonable that the new variety of Tic Tacs for the season would be strawberry related. The actually flavour is Strawberry Fields, and inside the pack are two different coloured pink sweets both with a different depth of strawberry flavour, one sweet and one sour.
The pale pink drop is the sweeter of the two tastes, and tastes of sweet strawberries, it’s a very fragrant taste, and has a strong berry base. It’s almost like there are other fruits mixed in as the flavour seems quite a full taste, almost like there is a hint of raspberry too.
The darker Tic Tac has a stronger sharper taste. It is strawberry and starts quite sweet, and develops into a slightly sour flavour, a bit like strawberry with a shot of lemon mixed in to zing it up. It’s a good taste, and I felt it was a bit more refreshing that the lighter coloured one.
The key thing is that both sweets are really nice, and work even better together. The mix of flavours is really pleasant, combining the sweet with the sour.
Although strawberry may seem like an obvious choice of variety the two tones of flavour give these sweets a nice twist. These do make a nice addition to the Tic Tac range, sweet and fruity but still managing to have the nice refreshing touch which is synonymous with Tic Tacs. Definitely something I’ll be keeping to hand for a quick sweet treat over the coming months.
By Cinabar

21 June 2012

James White, Apple & Elderflower Juice (New Street Station)

James White, Apple & Elderflower Juice (New Street Station)

A lot of my reviews recently seem to be things I've picked up while out and about.  I don't snack that much at home and as people have noticed a good novelty drink is much more my style than a handful of chocolate bars. This is less novelty and more farm shop - I spotted this 'small local produce' entry in the newsagents at New Street Station and thought it looked like something out of the Tesco Wine aisle.  The bottle itself too is like one of those single glass of wine things that you see nowadays.  As I was a bit thirsty and looking for something to start the day nicely I eschewed the typical energy drinks and went for the juice instead.  Spectre has also tried something by James White with slight regrets afterwards, but this seemed a safer option than Beet It.

As you can see it didn't last long.  Maybe it was the nice balance of the apples with the hint of the base-notes from what could only be the elderflowers?  Maybe it was because it looked like I was swanning around the station at 9 in the morning swigging from a mini wine bottle (they have an M&S on the platform that sells these things) that encouraged me to finish it off.  It wasn't a massive portion, but it was enjoyable and refreshing and worth a hunt for.  I forget the name of the chain of mini newsagents that is at the station now (it's the one that sells fruit and things so looks like a postage stamp sized supermarket) but I've seen them nationally - maybe each have different UK home grown products.

Eitherway this James White juice would not be out of place at a farmers market or on the shelves of Waitrose and is a welcome find from the Station platforms.

20 June 2012

Aspall – 100% Pressed English Apple Juice (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

I’ve only fairly recently become a huge fan of apple juice, what with tasting Copella, Coldpress and Innocent Apple Juice. This Aspall English Apple Juice was produced by the Cyder House, in Suffolk. The ingredients were plainly pointed out in the title; 100% apple juice for plenty of antioxidant vitamin C, which was a mix of sweet English Cox Apples and sour English Bramley Apples. In a 100ml serving there was 49 calories, 11.5g of sugar and 0g of fat. On opening the 1 litre bottle there was a heavy sweet apple smell. On first taste I was taken aback by the sumptuous fresh apple tang of this juice. There was a definite sour bite from the Bramley Apples, which was finely balanced with the sweet undertones from the English Cox. This was not a smooth velvety apple taste like Copella, but a “Wake up! It’s apple juice time!” I found this juice very refreshing indeed. It’s no wonder that this juice won a Quality Food Award in 2010. I usually have a big bottle of Copella Apple Juice in the fridge, or of Innocent Apple Juice... and now I just have too many decisions to make! ;-)
By Spectre

19 June 2012

Aunt Bessie’s Toffee apple Ice Cream Crumble (Nisa) [By @Cinabar]

The Aunt Bessie’s brand is usually associated with quick and easy to cook readymade savoury goodies. I love their Yorkshire puddings, dumplings and their crinkle cut chips, but I wasn’t aware that they had tapped into the dessert market until I saw this.
I couldn’t resist picking up these ice creams, and although ice cream is clearly a summery product, the flavour is a bit more autumnal. The idea of toffee apple immediately brings thoughts of bonfire night and Halloween, but still sounds rather tasty. Inside the pot is an individual serving of vanilla ice cream, layered with toffee apple sauce and a biscuit crumble. The ice cream itself if super creamy, and really tasty. The sauce is mainly rich toffee, and has loads of brown sugar flavour and depth, it has a nice aftertaste of apple which adds a fruity hit. The biscuit crumble was a bit more disappointing, as it just wasn’t that crumbly, if anything mine was a little soft. In fact the biscuit on mine looked pale and nothing like the one shown on the pack. The flavour was good, it had nice biscuity tones, but didn’t have much of a crunch.
Having said that I enjoyed the dessert and found that the toffee apple flavours took surprisingly well to the ice cream format. I just wished the crumble had been a bit more impressive – you’d think that would be what Aunt Bessie would do best!
By Cinabar

18 June 2012

Sensations Chinese Szechuan Pepper Coated Nuts [@walkers_crisps] [By @Cinabar]

Walkers make crisps, this is what they do. They have some crisps branded as Sensations – which are a bit posher, and have some interesting flavours. Recently though Sensations have also started making flavoured peanuts! I can’t quite imagine how that conversation went down at the marketing department.
“I’ve got a great new idea for a product – peanuts”
“Peanut flavour crisps? Love it”
“No, flavoured peanuts”
“But we are a crisp company....”
*awkward silence*
Anyway, somehow or other the product went ahead, and here we are. There are a few different flavours available, but I thought I’d start by trying the Chinese Szechuan Pepper.
Each peanut is coated with a thick wheat/rice coating that is pleasantly crunchy and full of flavour. They have a good texture, crisp, but not too hard that they are difficult to eat! The taste is quite herby, with a good hit of cumin and curry power and a pleasant warmth. They are by no means ultra hot, but the chilli adds a decent tingle. It works well with the rich nut taste from the peanut and makes an incredibly moreish snack. These nuts were far too easy to munch our way through, and the re-sealable sticker on the back of the pack was a little optimistic to say the least.
This may be a different step for Walkers, but it is a really great product. The spicy flavour and hint of Chinese herbs with the citrus zing all just worked so well. I’m looking forward to trying all the other varieties too, and of course I will report back. In the mean time, if anyone knows where I can pick up some peanut flavour crisps, do get in touch ;-)
By Cinabar

17 June 2012

OKF Aloe Vera King & V Fresh Lychee Drink (Yum Yum Oriental Foods - Worcester) [By @NLi10]

While browsing for reviews in Worcester Y'day I realised that I'd bought three drinks there a good while ago and never got around to trying them. This is because not only did they look odd the lady who owned the store said that non Thai people didn't tend to like them so she made sure whenever people did that they understood what they were trying. This at the time seemed exciting, but not exciting enough to dig them out of the cupboard - until now.

This week to ease myself in I'm going for a new drink I picked up which has bits of Aloe vera floating in it (not too shocking - I like these drinks) and a Lychee drink from the same range as the oddities.

Front left we see the Aloe Vera King, which is a Korean brand succulent drink. Those little white bits floating in the drink are shredded Aloe Vera (which is a cactus like plant, and pictured on the bottle). These are smooth tasting refreshing drinks, that function a little like orange juice in that we psychologically think that they are more natural and better for us than they usually are. The ingredients show that it's mostly powdered and reconstituted plant, and contains honey and grapes to add the sweetness. I'm not sure how it compares to the other brands I've tried as it's one of those almost forgettable sensations, but it really is refreshing and easy to drink so something that I routinely purchase.

Next up we have the Lychee drink from the range of doom. This is incredibly white for Lychee juice - and yet the ingredients are essentially just lychee juice and water. It's a little thicker than I'm used to, but not that sweet. The flavour is strong and authentic though, and the little red/white fruit taste is certainly nice. This is made in Thailand and certainly has a similar flavour range to a lot of the local food, it has more of a fragrance than a full on fruit juice does, but the taste lingers.

While I do like the Rubicon Lychee I think that is more of an everyday drink and this is a little more deluxe. I'm not sure I've seen the V Fresh range outside of Yum Yum's shelves, but I think it’s very likely to show up in other import stores. Eventually I'll be brave enough to try the Longan variety that is just about in picture, and the disturbing looking Green Tea with Basil seed that I was cautioned about.

By Nli10

16 June 2012

New York Deli – Bollywood Barbeque VIP (Very Important Peanuts) [By @SpectreUK]

I had previously blogged about VIP Hot Chilli peanuts and VIP Chilli Lemon peanuts by New York Deli. I was definitely impressed by both flavours and was pretty excited when Cinabar passed me these VIP Bollywood Barbecue peanuts to try. New York Deli has outlets in the United Kingdom, Europe, United States of America, Canada and the Far East, and also make Wasabi VIP (Very Important Peas) and Dark Chocolate Americanos, both of which I’m sure I’ll get to try in the future.

This silver 60g bag’s ingredients contained no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, with 96% peanuts, as well as vegetable oil, soy sauce, garlic, spices, onion, paprika, caramelised sugar, tomato, and mango. Considering the percentage of peanuts listed in the ingredients, there was still a warning on the back of the silvery packet stating; “warning, may contain nuts!” Crazy! There was a sweet and salty hit from these peanuts, but the main flavour was dominated by paprika, with undertones of garlic and onion, polished off with a hint of mango. I found these peanuts to be a very tasty treat in my lunch box and a good alternative to the usual crisps. They were very moreish and I would definitely have these again.
By Spectre

15 June 2012

Wild Trail – Popcorn Bar [Fruit and Double Nut / Double Cut Cranberry] [By @Cinabar]

I do like popcorn. It is such a tasty and healthy snack (unless you buy the toffee coated kind)! It is a much underused product, so when I heard that Wild Trail was making popcorn cereal bars, I was really keen to give them a try.
I have to say that I was a little disappointed to find that the Fruit and Double Nut bar contained just 6% popcorn, so I couldn’t help thinking that Wild Trail were very much playing it safe. The bar itself was lovely and sweet, and had a fabulous complex mix of textures. The nuts and fruit shone through, but the popcorn flavour was a little bit lost. The yogurt had a slight bitter edge but it was sweetened with honey which balanced it nicely. The cranberry version had lots of sweet berry tastes, and was also thoroughly enjoyable, but was still lacking the popcorn edge.
So as far as cereal bars go, the flavours were really good. I loved all the seeds and goodies contained within them, and the taste was impressive. As far as representing a popcorn flavour, it was a little lost within the heaps of other ingredients packed into the bar. Personally I’d favour a higher percentage of popcorn in the bars, to allow the flavour of it to fully shine through as this is what these bars are supposed to be about. The bars do taste good as they are, there is just so much in there it is hard to decipher the popcorn.
By Cinabar

14 June 2012

Pink's Organics - Oak Smoked Tomatoes [By NLi10]

We've had these for ages! They arrived in a food parcel from Cinabar and were a bit leaky so had oil all over them. I wasn't sure about smoked AND sun dried tomatoes thinking that this might just be too overpowering so popped them in the pantry.

Time passed and continued sun-dried tomato eating persuaded me that these could actually be a good idea (or at least worth a punt) so we popped them with pasta and had a go. Turns out that they aren't as strong as I'd expected. The smokiness is very pervasive and certainly clings to the food and in the oil but not in an unpleasant way. If you like smokey bacon or a good barbecue then this is a nice little hint of that.

More freaky to me was the small size of the tomatoes, I'm not used to cherry tomatoes in this manner. The bigger tomatoes seem to have more texture and take a bit of cutting up and these small ones are much more bite size and fragile. This difference isn't a negative one as I think these would work very well in recipes and I intend to try these out in veggie Bolognese with Quorn to add an extra dimension to the flavour.

No sun-dried tomatoes look appetising, and leaky smokey ones are doubly repulsive, but in the flavour department these win out impressively.
By NLi10

13 June 2012

Frank’s Red Hot Chile ‘n’ Lime Hot Sauce (@Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

The label on the 354ml glass bottle promised a “Savoury heat with a tangy twist”. Made by Reckitt Benckiser Incorporated, in New Jersey, USA, the ingredients of this Chile ‘n’ Lime Hot Sauce included; aged cayenne red peppers (35%), vinegar, spices, natural lime and garlic. There was also a recipe suggestion for South Western Grilled Chicken Wraps on the label, and other recipes were available for anything from steak to nachos, and fajitas to drinks on the website www.franksredhot.com, although I didn’t try the site, as I thought it would raise alarm bells at work! ;-)

I decided to try this sauce on the more traditional cheese on toast. On opening the bottle there was a strong hot chilli smell to this fire red sauce and an added citrus zing. I dumped a huge and rather scary amount of this sauce on my plate and dipped some cheese on toast into it. I found this to be a lovely and very tasty hot chilli sauce with the promised lime twist. My red pile of sauce disappeared extremely quickly and I couldn’t help dumping more and more onto my plate and mopping it up with more and more cheese on toast until my belly was full and my nose was more than a little sweaty. There was a mild aftertaste of garlic to this chilli and lime sauce, and although it didn’t have a painfully uncomfortable burn, there was certainly a nose hair tingling and tongue burning heat to it. I can see this sauce will be a regular in my hot sauce cupboard from now on. I’d certainly recommend you give it a try, “’cause it sure is real hot ‘n’ tasty!”
By Spectre

12 June 2012

Heston’s Syrup & Stout Streaky Bacon (@Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

Recently I wrote about Heston’s Vanilla Back Bacon, a product which seems to have had quite a mention in several magazines too. Waitrose also released this Heston’s Syrup & Stout Streaky Bacon, which despite winning an award seems to have launched much more quietly.
As I don’t need much of an excuse for a naughty but nice fried bacon butty, I bought up a pack! The smell of bacon cooking is always fantastic, but I could pick up on an extra depth of sweetness from this bacon while it was in the pan. It was a gorgeous aroma, and was probably the only time I understood the idea of adding syrup to bacon, American style. Having said that this bacon is dressed with golden syrup not maple syrup, so there is a bit more British in there than you may have first thought. The slices were thin, and this meant that they cooked quickly and developed a lot of flavour, going slightly crispy in places.
I placed them in a white bread bun, which didn’t have my usual dollop of ketchup on as I wanted to taste the flavour of the bacon in its purest format. The flavour was impressive, the bacon had loads of meaty tastes from the fat, especially as it was streaky. The sweet syrup flavours were a nice addition, not overpowering but very much present. The final taste was the stout, adding a rich malty hint to the overall taste that worked like a dreamy with the salty bacon. It’s a complex mix of tastes, and very satisfying as it works so well.
When I bought this pack I wasn’t sure I was going to blog about it, but once I tasted the clever combination of flavours I knew it needed sharing. This is my new favourite bacon, I just loved the sweet and salty tastes. Perfect for a naughty treat!
By Cinabar

11 June 2012

Jumbo Animal Biscuits (Asda) [By @SpectreUK]

Cinabar has written about Christmas shaped Animal Biscuits and Spooky Halloween shaped Animal Biscuits in the past. She recently passed me these Jumbo Animal Biscuits and asked me to write a quick review to let all our readers know the good news. Yes, after all these years in miniature, Animal Biscuits just got bigger! Ever since I can remember anything at all, I have always loved Cadbury’s chocolate Animal Biscuits. I used to eat them at my grandparent’s house when I was a tiny lad visiting on Saturday afternoons. It was here I also found a close bond to Walker’s Ready Salted crisps, later in life finding the shear indulgence of a good pint of draft ale and a packet of Ready Salted on a Saturday afternoon in the pub, whilst reading my favourite Commando comics. Anyway, I digress; there was fifteen Jumbo Animal Biscuits in the 125g packet at 40 calories a biscuit. The biscuits came in a variety of cute shapes such as monkeys, lions and elephants. Allergy advice warned that these biscuits contained wheat, milk, soya and possibly nuts. I don’t know about that, but the animals certainly looked crazy (sorry…)! These Jumbo Animal Biscuits had the same superb chocolate and biscuit flavour of their smaller relatives, and certainly didn’t last long!
By Spectre

10 June 2012

Alibi Pretox - Sparkling Pomegranate (Birmingham New Street) [By @NLi10]

On my way out for the day via the work in progress that is Birmingham's New Street station I spotted these small cans of vitamin drink with the tag 'pretox' and as I'd been feeling under the weather I decided a little boost wouldn't hurt. Upon inspection they have no stimulants and are all about the health benefits which meshes in with some of the other modern drinks I've tried recently. Naturally I chose to start with pomegranate.

Flavour-wise it wasn't all that special, fizzy with a mix of pomegranate and that vitamin taste that a lot of things from the health food store have. It was certainly drinkable and I did start to feel a little less dehydrated afterwards. It was refreshing to not have the caffeine spike or any other 'wake up' chemicals involved, but I do have to question exactly what a pretox is.

The four categories that they list are mental performance, immune system, hydration and regular liver function - suggesting they are hedging their bets between the hectic lifestyle people and the out for a night of heavy drinking crowd. While I'm not the right person to test the effects of having this before a drinking session I feel my day was busy enough that I pushed it to its limits and seemed to come out OK.

I think I'd try this again, probably explore the range, but it wasn't exciting enough of an experience to rush back to the blog with more. It tastes of light pomegranate & vitamins, and it'll keep you hydrated while boosting those missing vitamins and minerals.
By NLi10

9 June 2012

Gummi Army Guys (CyberCandy) [By @SpectreUK]

These Gummi Army Guys were by Albanese, in the USA. It stated “World’s Best” on packet, but my I first thought was that they’d have to go a long way to beat Rowntree’s gummies. There were four fruit flavoured (apple) green soldier shapes (characters), which were; Bazooka Bob, Fighting Forster, GI Johnny, and Rifleman Rich. Allergy advice on the back of the 128g packet stated that these gummies were created in an environment that contained peanuts, tree nuts, soya, wheat and dairy products. In a 40g serving there were 120 calories, 19g of sugar and 0g of fat. I liked the label on the packet that gave nutritional values of vitamin A – 0%, vitamin C – 0%, Iron – 0%, and Calcium – 0%, just in case you may have been mistaken that these gummies should be eaten as part of a healthy diet. These gummies had lots of things in the ingredients that didn’t sound great for you, but on the upside they were gluten free!

On opening the packet I marvelled at the fun shapes of the lean green fighting machine that were the Gummi Army Guys. On taste these gummies immediately tripped over and fell into a shell hole. There was a strong taste of vegetable oil mixed with the anti sticking Carnuba Wax. I had to chew each gummy for ages to get to the apple flavour. On the upside, I loved playing with these Gummi Army Guys. Unfortunately with the absence of any enemies (some different flavoured gummy Nazis?), it turned into a bit of a civil war and a last gummy man standing. As soon as one Gummi Army Guy shot another I popped the “dead” Gummi Army Guy in my mouth. Cinabar loved the flavour of these sweets, but I just couldn’t get past the initial oily waxy taste. Still, I thought these were an excellent idea, I enjoyed playing with them, and so I’m sure most other people (and kids) would also. Albanese just need to hold off a bit on the oil and wax and get some bad guys – Ooh, they need some army vehicles too, such as tanks, jeeps and planes!
By Spectre
Cybercandy have an online shop available.

8 June 2012

Sardinas De Chocolate (Selfridges) [By @Cinabar]

I know I’m easily taken in by novelty, but these chocolate sardines really made me smile. Spectre very kindly spotted them in Selfridges and picked them up for me, knowing what my reaction would be! I love the packaging; I love the bright red box, which looks like a partly peeled back sardine tin. I think the sardines themselves look ace, long thin milk chocolates, wrapped in smart fish style silver foil.
Technically these are just three smallish pieces of milk chocolate in very neat packaging, but I still thought they were fantastic! The chocolate was okay, not as creamy as Dairy Milk, not as rich as some of the better quality chocolates. It had a decent snap when broken, and in taste was perfectly decent. The chocolate taste was almost secondary to the item as a whole.
I know there isn’t an obvious occasion where you would need chocolate sardines, and that I am easily swayed by the unusual, but these still get my vote. The chocolate may not be the highest quality, but the novelty won me over in the end!
By Cinabar

7 June 2012

Milka Popcorn (Germany) [By @Cinabar]

I have to say a bit thank you to my dad for bringing this bar of Milka back from Germany for me. He knows it’s my favourite chocolate, and so kept an eye out see what was new when he was last visiting. Germany always has a better selection of Milka then we get here in the UK, but its availability in the country is improving.
To say this bar is a Milka bar containing popcorn is an understatement. It would be fairer to say it is a mountain of popcorn jam packed together and held there using loads of Milka chocolate! It truly is packed with popcorn! The texture is amazing, soft, but crunchy and filled with flavour. Some chunks the nutty popcorn taste dominates, but with others it is the sweet Milka chocolate that takes centre stage. The diverse texture makes it so moreish, and despite the size of the bar, it really didn’t last very long! Popcorn and Milka chocolate are two of my favourite things, so I think I may have found a dream bar here. :-)
So the bar is somewhere between being chocolate coated popcorn and being a bar of chocolate – and the middle ground is pretty much heaven. I have my fingers and toes crossed that this will get a UK release, or at least become available in the import shops!
By Cinabar

6 June 2012

Tasty Little Numbers’ Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice [By @SpectreUK]

Tasty Little Numbers promotes healthier living with smaller portions and whole numbers of calories in all of their products, such as 100 calorie chocolate bars and crisps, and 200 calorie Heat and Eat Snack Pots. After recently sampling a few of the brand’s crisp flavours, I thought I’d try Tasty Little Numbers’ Microwavable Heat and Eat Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice. There was an endearing quote on the label on the top of the plastic pot; “Curry up, let’s do it” which supports the idea that ready meals are generally home cooked microwavable fast food for people who are either lazy (like me), or don’t have the time to prepare and cook a meal from scratch (which seems a bit of a dark art to me anyway). The ingredients of this Heat and Eat Chicken Tikka Masala included; 28% chicken breast, 6% brown basmati rice, and the remainder was tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, rapeseed oil, creamed coconut, and comflour amongst other things. There was a plastic fork and napkin provided, but I used a metal fork instead as I have seen what super heated meals can do to plastic forks. I first punched some holes into the plastic film on the top of the small looking flat bowl before heating the pot for a minute and a half. The bowl’s size made me wonder if this meal would go any way to filling my large(ish) tummy.

I broke open a bag of mini poppadom style crisps to dip into the Masala sauce. The meal inside the pot was at first too hot to peal the plastic film back with my bare fingers, so I cut the film off with a sharp knife. The Chicken Tikka Masala smelt good with a medium spice. From the delicious smell I couldn’t wait to tuck in, but gave the meal a quick stir first and left it to cool a little. The Chicken Tikka Masala tasted great with all the flavours from the ingredients merging perfectly together. There were chunky pieces of succulent chicken and not much rice (6% as mentioned above), but I prefer it that way as I’d rather have lots of scrumptious medium spiced sauce to dip my poppadoms in. My only problem with this meal was the same that had I found with Tasty Little Numbers’ crisps, which was that I just wanted more. The meal’s 200g equated to 200 calories, but I would have been happier with 300g (300 calories, I guess), as this would probably have been sufficient sustenance to keep me going for a while, without being over or under full, besides 300 calories is still less calories than many main ready meals on the market and would help the average person to lose a little weight. Perhaps 400 calories worth would be better in a range of bigger portions for greedier people (like me)?
By Spectre

Please Nominate Foodstuff Finds

Just a quick request, if you enjoy reading Foodstuff Finds we'd really appreciate it if your were to nominate us in the Cosmo Blog Awards. Just click below, its a very short form, and it would mean loads to us ;-)

5 June 2012

Heston’s Vanilla Back Bacon Rashers (@Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

Bacon is one of those foods that just works. Its simple form tastes wonderful on its own, in a sandwich, served with sausages and so many other excellent formats and nothing can beat the smell of it cooking.
When I saw that Heston had added his touch to the new range of bacon at Waitrose, I couldn’t resist picking up a packet. This new bacon has a hint of vanilla to help enhance the flavour. I decided to try it out in the format of a bacon sarnie, and see what it was like. I opened the pack and noticed the slices were quite thin. Once I started frying the bacon I discovered that the aroma was different but impressive. The vanilla shone through, and the cooking aromas had a sweet, salty and almost spicy fragrance. It was very appetising, more so than even regular bacon!
The flavour was different to what I was.expecting, The strong cooking smells had led me to believe that the bacon would have a sweet tone to it, but it didn’t. The vanilla taste was remarkably subtle, enhancing the meaty smoky flavours with just a touch of earthy seasoning. The vanilla is delicate, but it does enrich the taste. I suspect the addition of any ketchup to my sandwich would have lost the subtle hint of vanilla, which would be a huge shame. This is a food that just needs to be eaten as is and savoured. Don’t try to embellish the bacon with any extras, and don’t forget to enjoy the cooking aromas!
Heston also has Syrup & Stout Bacon out, so I’ll be on the look out to try some of that too!
By Cinabar

4 June 2012

Tyrrells: Red, White and Blue Crisps [@Tyrrells] [By @Cinabar]

As we are in the middle of a lovely long Jubilee weekend, I couldn’t resist giving these rather special crisps from Tyrrells a try. The flavour may be ready salted, but it is the potatoes that make this bag so special, have you ever seen anything so pretty? There are no artificial colours, but the potatoes are a rather British red, white and blue. I just love the idea, and they are so attractive that they need pouring out to be fully appreciated.
The crisps tasted amazing too. The white ones tasted and looked like regular ready salted crisps, with a very traditional rich potato flavour. The blue crisps are deep in colour almost navy blue. These blue ones have a nice woody, almost earthy tone. They are by no means as strong as beetroot, but they are certainly distinct and have a similar but mild taste. The red ones are the brightest in the bag and look amazing. Their flavour was actually a little sweet, which worked nicely with the salt.
These crisps have a fab British touch, but also let you appreciate the different varieties of potato that are available, but seem to be a bit forgotten. These are well worth a purchase as it was nice to be able to pick out the different tastes of the potatoes, and really appreciate a thoroughly British product!
By Cinabar

3 June 2012

Jubilee Delights & Penguin Musings [By @NLi10]

The above is pretty much what the UK's stores look like this week. Same products, new flag based packaging. Our Queen has been doing her job for 60 years, and shows no signs of wanting to stop - which is pretty impressive as your average person complains that the retirement age should be 60 - and she is 86. This does call for a nice party, but it's hard to combine traditional English values with new product launches so the bunting manufacturers and the box designers have been busier than the R&D people.

The above were very nice mini Victoria Sponges actually, not perfect as it's not fresh cream, but correctly using Raspberry and not over sugaring the mixture. Good call Mr. Kipling - I'm growing to like the direction you are taking with the new recipes.

I had a quick look around to see exactly what products have been floating around since the original coronation that I already wanted to talk about and realised that McVitties Penguin was born in 1932, predating even United Biscuits themselves by 14 years according to the Wikipedia (which was when the inventor of the Penguin and McVitties joined forces). I bought some Penguins a few months back to see if they had changed much since they were the only chocolate bar my Grandparents used to buy for us some 20 years ago. They have not - but I have.

(pic source)

Long gone are the days when I'd P-P-P-Pick up a penguin (the old advert slogans are still the best), and now I drift to Oreos and things with 'new' on the box. The interesting thing is - a Penguin is essentially a milk-chocolate Oreo covered in more milk-chocolate. Is my love for Oreos just a rekindling of my love for the classic Penguin, but in a darker biscuit? Heck - why haven't McVitties released a upgraded Gentoo Penguin with a higher cocoa content and maybe even dark chocolate? A quick google search reveals nothing similar to this.

In Australia they have the Tim-Tam which is essentially a Penguin for warmer climes, and it's possible they have gotten more experimental with that. In the 80 years of Penguin someone must have spotted the link to the Oreo and tried the switch - surely!

So a happy Jubilee to all Brits in the UK and beyond, enjoy the new snacks that we keep finding, but don't forget those that have been around for the 60 years that the Queen has.
By NLi10

Purina Challenge Update

As part of the Insiders free sample site (sign up here) I got some cat food & fed it to my cats for three weeks as instructed. I ran out half way through and had to go buy more so got the more suitable version for Seniors and the Natural Balance version too (it was on offer).

The Purina challenge basically says that after 3 weeks your cats will be improved. They do seem to be permanently hungry due to the small portions, but according to Wii Fit the two that I could catch at the time have both gained weight!

2 June 2012

Jubilee Stout (Westmorland Service Station) [By @SpectreUK]

The Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery was founded by four local ale drinkers in 2009. The name of this dark brown, almost black stout came from the Jubilee Field, which is next to Devil’s Bridge (pictured on the front of the bottle), in the Lake District. The field was given to the public to commemorate the Queen’s coronation in 1953, along with a couple of wrought iron gates made by a local blacksmith.

On opening the bottle there was a heavy malt and chocolate smell mixed with a hint of liquorice, all of which reminded me of black treacle. On tasting there was a deep bitter, yet surprisingly smooth malt flavour that was luxuriously balanced with chocolate, followed by mid-tones of roasted barley and finished by a bitter sweet liquorice flavour. The aftertaste consisted of dark chocolate mixed with bitter malt balanced by the hint of liquorice. The sheer lavishness of this muscular stout is perfect for toasting in the Jubilee, but don’t forget a good wedge of chocolate, some suitable bunting, good company and just a little flag waving. Happy Jubilee to everyone and especially to the Queen. ;-)
By Spectre

1 June 2012

Cadbury Popcorn (WH Smiths) [@CadburyUK] [By @Cinabar]

Not so long ago my dad went to Germany and bought back a fantastic bar of chocolate called Milka popcorn, and I will be blogging about it shortly. I did google Milka Popcorn, and although my dad bought me back a bar, the images that came back were all of Milka coated popcorn in a bag. I thought the bag of Milka popcorn looked excellent too and wondered if it would be available over here at any point. Shortly after that this Cadbury version appeared on the shelves, they must have read my mind!
I found this bag sitting in a confusing section of WH Smith marked as “Any two bags for £4”. Although there were M&Ms packs etc seemingly in the offer, I was told by the assistant that I could have any two Nestle products or any two Cadbury ones in the offer, but couldn’t cross the brands, despite the sign saying “any”. :-S
That aside I decided to just buy the popcorn, and tucked in once I got home. Inside the bag I was impressed buy how big the chunks of popcorn were, each with a healthy helping of Cadbury milk chocolate making them quite chunky looking. The popcorn within them is also toffee coated making them lovely and extra sweet. The popcorn is rather light and has a gentle crispy crunch. The chocolate is milky and sweet and the whole combination works wonderfully. I loved the mix of textures, and the sweet tastes, they are seriously moreish though. This is the ultimate film watching snack, but I warn you, you won’t want to share!
By Cinabar