31 August 2012

Elizabeth Shaw – Crisp Collection [By @Cinabar]

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Shaw chocolates, but I have to say I do tend to associate the brand with mints. I do like mint, and they seem to make the perfect after dinner choice, but that really was as far as I had got with the Elizabeth Shaw brand.
I was excited to hear that the brand had got a new box of choccies out, with four, non mint, flavours. The chocolate are still in the disc format and foiled covered. The box is rather pretty, with its teaser window showing off the contents and inside all the chocolate are stacked ready to try.

Cocoa Crunch
This fantastic rich dark chocolate oozes flavour, but the texture is something else. It is full of cocoa nibs, which somehow make it both crunchy and smooth at the same time. It is like magic, I love this chocolate for the texture, its weirdly satisfying to munch on. The chocolate is dark and flavoursome and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Milk Butterscotch Crisp
This creamy sweet milk chocolate has multiple pieces of slightly hard caramel within. It’s a sweet treat, but I liked the flavours. The texture isn’t too sticky, but the golden caramel does melt a little in the mouth. It’s not quite a sweetness overload, but the creamy milk chocolate delivers a treat for the sweet toothed.

Milk Honeycomb Crisp
Oh my, this is very similar to the Milk Butterscotch Crisp. The honeycomb in this one is a bit more like brown sugar, and the texture starts crispy but does go a little more soft than the other. It’s a good chocolate, but it isn’t significantly different to the other chocolate disc.

Caramel Crisp
There is a lovely rich dark chocolate taste, sweetened by crispy but sticky sweet caramel. It’s a rich chocolate experience but it’s very enjoyable. It almost has a hint of honey about the flavour, and the sweetness is balanced nicely by the darker tone of rich cocoa.

I was impressed by the four chocolate inside the box, and all are lovely. The two milk chocolate ones are quite similar, but still both tasty. I found myself favouring the dark chocolate and I was absolutely fascinated by the texture of the Cocoa Crunch. If you buy these as an after dinner treat nobody will be disappointed, but my advice would be to try and keep the Cocoa Crunch ones to yourself! Seriously yum!
By Cinabar

30 August 2012

Walkers Stars - Salt and Vinegar flavour (Co-op)

I'm not a massive crisp eater. My snack food of choice is firmly biscuits and pastries, and as such I'm very much a casual outsider when crisp related things are released.

Kettle chips and similar are consumed at parties and when purchased for the house but it takes a special offer to tempt me to pick up little bags. I did quite fancy these when I saw them in the co-op - a pound for six bags.

The bags are seemingly a normal size, but you don't feel like you get many at all. I put this down to the portion size guidelines and a futile attempt to lower the calories and fat. I say futile as it just means I get to eat two consecutive bags of crisps. This feels naughty and decadent in a 'fifty flavours of crisps' kind of way, which probably wasn't the intention. These are baked crisps which is probably why they leapt into my basket - the closer to biscuits the better - and again this is a health consideration.

No sacrifices have been made on the flavour - its the usual salt and vinegar and is slightly less sharp than Discos are but still titillating to the taste bids. The size of the crisps themselves is enormous compared to most of the things you get. They would be a great thing for a toddler to behold. There were few broken ones in the bag too, a surprise considering the size, but a testament to the solid, crispiness of the individual stars.

I won't buy a massive amount of these but then I don't buy many crisps at all. If I do fancy a little crunchy snack though these will be a good option - if the world is out of biscuits.

29 August 2012

Old Engine Oil (Westmorland Service Station) [By @SpectreUK]

The thought of drinking real old engine oil made me wonder if Cinabar really was trying to kill me this time as she passed me this beer bottle to review. This black porter from the Harviestoun Brewery in Alva, Scotland, reminded the original brewer so much of the oil he used whilst working for Ford that he named the beer after it. Described on the label under the smart vintage car image as “viscous, bittersweet and smooth”, this porter certainly reminded me of old engine oil as I poured the thick black beer into my mug. There was a harsh bitterness mixed with a dark chocolate odour on opening the 330ml bottle. I’d have to agree with the description on the back of the bottle, as the flavours of this 6% volume porter were certainly “complex”. There was a tough malted barley bitterness merging almost brutishly with strong coffee to start with. The sheer bitterness was then replaced by bittersweet dark chocolate that smoothed the flavour out on the palate. This left such a luscious bitter chocolate aftertaste that this became a very moreish beer indeed. No wonder it won Gold Medal at the International Beer Challenge 2009. The label recommended drinking this black porter whilst enjoyed strong cheese (unless the brewery’s mischievous mouse logo steals it from you first), black pudding or roast lamb. I savoured this beer on its own late one evening as an after dinner treat. I shall definitely have to hunt some more of this beer down, and keep it well away from my car, as it’s all for me!
By Spectre

28 August 2012

OhSo – Good For You Chocolate [@Ohso_Chocolate] [By @Cinabar]

Every so often you hear the odd story on the news about how chocolate is actually good for you, and you let yourself believe it because it is what we all want to hear. This particular bar of chocolate has it written on the wrapper, so it’s pretty determined to prove a point. It’s actually a daily (mini) bar of chocolate which delivers a dose of two different probiotics.
I’ll be honest and confess I am not the most qualified person when it comes to probiotics, but I took the time to google the contents, and was quite impressed at the potential health benefits for teh digestive system. My only experience of probiotics prior to this was trying one several years back in the form of an unflavoured drink, which tasted nasty, and I left it at that. That was until I heard about OhSo making these chocolate bars with probiotics in. Delivering the probiotic via a chocolate bar means that it lasts 3x longer than a yoghurt drink, which is impressive in itself. It also gives you an excuse to have a daily chocolate bar, which isn’t a bad thing!
The chocolate itself is quite small, but it does only contain 72 calories per bar. The flavour was seriously good. It is a dark chocolate, and is moulded into tiny chocolate cubed pieces on top of the bar which look seriously cute. The bar has a sharp snap and is quite a firm hard chocolate. I was really impressed by the taste, its sweet and rich and clearly of good quality. There is no hint of anything else, no yoghurt taste, nothing other than a good dark Belgian chocolate. You would never know that there were probiotics hidden within.
It is the kind of chocolate that would be a pleasure to have as a daily treat, and I think it makes a wonderful alternative to the yoghurt drinks and says it is more efficient at delivering the probiotics too. I’m not sure what I was expecting, perhaps some weird background flavour in the chocolate, but they have managed to produce a very healthy and excellent tasting bar.
By Cinabar

27 August 2012

Baker Days Personalised Cake: Foodstuff Finds 4th Birthday [By @cinabar]

Wow – August has been a bit of an amazing month here at Foodstuff Finds. Firstly August marks the month that we hit one million pageviews! I have to say the hits are still coming in nicely, and we are really pleased that you guys like what we are doing. :-)
August is also exciting because it marks our 4th birthday. Yes it’s been four whole years since I mentioned the idea of Foodstuff Finds to friends and family, and the day the first post went live. We have been writing a daily foodie updated since 2008! I’m pleased to say we still have just as much enthusiasm for finding interesting goodies to taste and try and tell you about! We hope the blog goes on for many more years to come too!
Baker Days very kindly sent us a Personalised Cake to celebrate. One of the things the company offers is really quite innovative, and that it the idea of letterbox cakes. These letterbox cakes are small cakes that feed 3-4 people but post easily and as the name implies, fit through the letterbox no problem at all. Baker Days do offer all different sizes of cakes on their site, but if you are sending the cake to someone who works and probably won’t be in when the delivery man arrives, then this letterbox cake does offer piece of mind.
We had a beautifully iced chocolate cake sent to us for our celebration, with a rich chocolaty sponge. Inside the box there was a little card, some balloons, candles and the cake was very safely packaged even in its own tin.
I loved the look of this cake, although I have to admit it was quite small. It was just right for three of us, but that is fair as that is the same as the guidance on the site. The icing was beautifully decorated, showing slices of other cakes and having our birthday greeting on the front. It was soft icing and gave pleasingly when the cake was cut. The sponge inside was fluffy and light and had a lovely rich chocolate flavour. They do a range of other cake types from carrot to fruit cake and even gluten free! Ours was the “Double Chocolate Chip Cake” and was packed full of chocolaty goodness. There was sweet cocoa based butter cream too which helped keep the cake light and moist. It went perfectly with the icing and made a very naughty feeling treat. I am thoroughly impressed at the quality of this product, and the clever packaging to ensure it arrived safely. It is such a good idea and the cake was baked to perfection.
I wanted to say a big thank you to Baker Days for sending us our beautiful prezzie, and letting us sample there gorgeous cakes. Also a big thank you to all the readers for helping to make Foodstuff Finds what it is. Here is to the future and many more happy years. :-)
By Cinabar

26 August 2012

Jordans Luxury Absolute Nut [by @NLi10]

Jordans Luxury Absolute Nut

I turned up to work one day to find this cereal bar on my desk, donated to the cause by a kind colleague.  She tends to try to find the healthier snacks (but also the more luxurious ones) so this simple bar was particularly suited to her.  I took an angled picture as throughout the days where I had it waiting to be consumed that large nut in the centre kept enticing me.  I decided to add this as an almost mini review as it was interesting enough for comment, but there really isn't a massive amount to say.

Throughout the bar there are actually a large number of other nuts that are paler in colour, as well as the usual crisp brown cereal. This was an unexpected boon, as here the cereal is basically just to hold the nuts together which gives a different texture and taste than usual.  It was less sweet than I expected and much more akin to eating a handful of nuts.  I liked it, and would choose to eat it again.  You don't really see single cereal bars on sale of this size so I think I'd have to pick up a box to share out myself.

I think that there are more luxurious cereal bars on the market for those willing to hunt for them, but for a mainstream company like Jordans to do something that little bit more interesting is nice, and was well worth writing up.

25 August 2012

Scampi Supper – Scampi and Lemon Flavour Corn Snacks (ASDA) [By @spectreuk]

I’ve always loved scampi flavoured crisps ever since I first saw them in the pub at a young age, when the pint I was holding was almost as tall as me. Leaving the times when I used to dress up as a Hobbit consigned to the past, I still had to give these Scampi and Lemon flavoured corn snacks from the Pub Original brand, by Freshers Foods in Wigan, a try, and with at least one pint of beer. While my eyes could still focus I had a quick look at the back of the 55g bag for the nutritional values. The values were per 100g servings, which even before I opened the can of beer I couldn’t work out in my head to the exact gramme of what 55g of 100g of 18.1g of fat, or 444 calories or 8.5g of sugar was… ‘bout half, Lad!” my beerless brain exclaimed. Happy at that notion I took a quick read of the ingredients, which included; corn flour, rapeseed oil, wheat flour, sunflower oil, yeast powder, citric acid, salt, and sugar, amongst other things. The allergy warning stated that these scampi corn shells contained lactose, wheat, gluten and soya (at least half of which was probably already in the beer!), however, they were vegetarian friendly. I’m not sure I am though personally, as a big blood soaked piece of juicy red meat makes me salivate at the mouth. Having thought of meat and buckets of blood, and eating fishy crisps washed down with beer, I decided to re-watch Jaws (the first movie of course, as the others…. well, meh!) for the millionth time. There was a very strong fishy scampi smell when I opened the Scampi Supper bag. There was plenty of hollow corn shell shaped snacks inside the bag (see photo). The scampi shells were very light (hence the fact that the bag weighed in at 55g and there were loads of them), very crispy and crunchy, and they had a very tasty scampi, lemon, corn and rapeseed flavour mixed with the extra salty seaside taste. These Scampi Supper corn snacks went very well indeed with the gory fishy horror film with their seaside feel. They made me rather thirsty and I had to have more than a couple of beers whilst I watched the excellent movie. Pure classic, just like these corn snacks! ;-)
By Spectre

24 August 2012

New Nestle Vice Versas Chocolate Sweets [By @Cinabar]

When I was at school Vice Versas were available in small bags and were one of my best friends favourite chocolate snacks. I remember her declaring that they were better than Minstrels because of the white chocolate version mixed in the pack. I have to admit that although I remember liking them as a kid, this wasn’t one of the products which I joined the campaign to get back. I just don’t remember having strong feelings about them.
Having said that I do have a love for retro goodies so was more than a bit excited when a bag arrived from Choccieman who had some as a giveaway on ChocolateReview.
I immediately tipped out the contents of the bag and was a little surprised to see how few brown shelled chocolates there were compared to white. The brown chocolate shells are filled with white chocolate and the white shells are filled with milk chocolate, i.e. vice versa (you see what they did there).
I tried one of the white shelled sweets, and couldn’t believe the milk chocolate within. It was rather poor in flavour, it tasted overly sweet and I couldn’t pick up on much cocoa at all. I know the sugary shell will have contributed to the flavour, but the chocolate itself was still disappointing, and reminded me of ‘advent calendar’ chocolate. I’m by no means a pernickety chocolate reviewer, and my taste buds are quite happy with the high street offerings, but this did nothing for me. They were okay to snack on, but a long way from being anything to rave about.
I tried the dark shelled white chocolate ones, and was totally turned around. The sweet shell complimented the creamy smooth white chocolate within perfectly. The white chocolate here had tones of vanilla and was beautifully rich and tasty. I can’t believe the contrast in these two sweets, both in name and quality!
Then I had a moment when I looked back down and saw the proportion of dark shelled white chocolate filled heaven compared to the lesser white shelled ones, and felt a little short changed. Nine brown, thirty-four white! They need to make a bag of just the white chocolate (brown shelled) sweets... I could start a campaign for that... or perhaps I should just pick up a bag of Milkybar buttons?
By Cinabar

23 August 2012

Tymbark Peach & Orange, Zywiec Zdroj lemon water (Polish Grocer)

Tymbark Peach & Orange, Zywiec Zdroj lemon water (Polish Grocer)

I've featured various drinks from Polish grocers before, including a different Tymbark drink, but the constant voyage of discovery that is caused by my overly warm office must continue!

First up is Zywiec Zdroj Cytrynowym which I am going to simply shorten to Lemon Water.  This is a strange one for me to choose after complaining about the mild flavours of previous water based drinks, but as I needed something refreshing for the office I figured I'd give it a try.  This feels almost wrong in that it has no colour but a stronger flavour than the ones that do have colour.  Mind boggled.  The flavour is very lemony but also very artificial, i'm sure it's all calorie free mind-bending sweeteners and has no sugar in at all.  My friend drinks a lot more bottled water than I do (the fool) and pointed out that the logo was practically Volvic.  One hard Google later I found that this Lemon Water is made by Danone who also make Volvic, but that it's a variety made in Poland for the Polish (which is why they imported it). The shop also had about 10 other flavours of water to try, but I'm not convinced.  If they have bothered to ship water over from Poland it's probably at least slightly addictive so I'm not going to risk it.

This Tymbark Peach and Orange (I think) was actually quite nice. Again to suit the Polish tastes it's overly strong - like a partially diluted cordial - which I love.  I was having this as a breakfast drink at work which was a suitable pick me up with no caffeine to cause slumps in the afternoon.  The orange is more of a satsuma kind of flavour and the peach is this high-pitched sweetness screaming in the background.  I prefer the green flavoured Polish drinks if I'm honest, but this was a nice change and much more suited to the morning.

22 August 2012

Boxerchips Honey and English Mustard Potato Crisps (Selfridges) [By @SpectreUK]

I have previously tried Boxerchips’ Crackpot Pepper and Salty Salt flavour and thoroughly enjoyed them. I’ve also tried Seabrook’s Mustard flavoured crisps, and thoroughly enjoyed those too. So mustard flavoured Boxerchips with added honey sounded like an excellent idea. I figured there’d be mustard to tenderize my taste buds, but also sweetness to smooth the nose tingling burn. Made in Dublin, these limited edition Honey and English Mustard flavour crisps were boxed in the same elegant space saving manner (see photograph of inside of box) as the other Boxerchips I’ve tried. The 40g box had 190 calories, with 9.8g of fat and 1.9g of sugar. On opening, these crisps had a luscious sweet honey and spicy mustard smell to them. These crisps not only smelt great, but they tasted great as well. No first and last flavours here, as both flavours were balanced perfectly together, which surprised me greatly as both flavours were so different. There was the sweetness from the honey merged with a spicy medium heat from the mustard. They had a sweet yet slight nose burny texture to them that was altogether savoury and produced a sumptuous treat to my taste buds with every bite. I could have happily eaten a massive box of these crisps. Personally I think it’s an absolute crime if Boxerchips stop making these limited edition crisps. They should make them in bigger boxes instead… ;-)
By Spectre

21 August 2012

LOL – O RANJ [Apple & Orange Drink] [By @Cinabar]

I was doing some shopping in Birmingham the other week and my eyes caught sight of a promotional stand giving out soft drinks. The marketing staff were dressed in black, and looked quite ‘cool’ and authoritative. The stand looked quite trendy, and I felt the brand was aiming itself at the late teen market. The drink is called LOL, a favourite acronym of mine, it has a slightly aggressive looking smiley on the front of the can. The colours are quite dark, and the misspelled orange ‘O RANJ’. The drink is trying to look rebellious, naughty and a little unruly. Its name is almost a code that people over a certain age won’t get. It’s the kind of drink I suspect teens would think looked cool.
Interesting then that this slightly edgy looking drink, should contain no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no caffeine and no artificial colourings and not actually be anything that an adult would look down upon. It also contains one of your five a day, which is just a little bit good for you. This amused me, its packaging design seems quite distant from its ingredients list!
That aside, I gave the drink a try. The drink is lightly carbonated, and not too fizzy. The flavour tastes natural, and wasn’t that sweet, which makes sense when you put it into context as it has no added sugar. The flavour was fresh, the orange was sharp and reminded me of clementines and there was a gentle hint of apple to finish. A very pleasant combination. I totally enjoyed the drink, and was surprised by its different taste, its pop but it’s not too sweet. I’m honestly not sure how this will go down with the teen market, but for me it worked well, and I am usually famed for my sweet tooth. Refreshingly different.
By Cinabar

20 August 2012

Food Doctor - Easy Grains (Ocado)

Food Doctor - Easy Grains (Ocado)

I've mentioned before that I like trying convenience foods, and finding ones that actually qualify as healthy is a challenge.  Expecting those to also taste reasonable and have that mythical quality of texture is rarer still.  Uncle Bens do rice in a bag that you bung in the microwave for 2 minutes. I ate these for lunch at work for so long that I now have an aversion to them (but the Tilda versions that are a little more luxury are fine) mostly as my brain thinks I have to go back to work afterwards!  This is based on the same principle but with more exciting grains including the quinoa which is all spirally and great.  I added one bag to an online food shop and then when they arrived stashed them away for a lunchtime in the future.

That future was this weekend, and so following the instructions (tear sachet, nuke for 2 mins, wait until no-longer hazardous to move, pour into bowl) I made this:

It looks a little browner than it actually was - I blame the lighting.  I also splashed on a little balsamic vinegar and some Schwarz Lemon Pepper mix (a kitchen essential) to give it a fair chance.  The taste without the additions was a little bland, but in an earthy and realistic way.  The natural flavours of the grains had survived and were complemented well once I mixed in the seasonings.  I liked the texture, it wasn't mushy and felt that it was balanced well.  The portion was probably for two people as a side, so as a single person lunch it became a little drying.  I was also tempted to add more excitement to the 2nd half of the bowl as cereals beans and pulses are not known for their powerful tastes.

I think that this is good enough to use along side a main meal as a healthy alternative to potatoes (which I rarely cook personally) or pasta and it was certainly filling.  I'd suggest that a decent shake of seasoning mixed in would add some needed pizzaz to the flavours, maybe sun-dried tomatoes?  The pack suggests a soup or almost a sauce which would be quite good too.  Maybe I'll stick one into a Thai green curry.

If I spot these again I'll certainly re-buy.  Anything healthy, snacky & simple with a long shelf life is OK by me.

19 August 2012

Lindt Creation – Lindt Velvety Vanilla Almond (@LindtUK) [By @Cinabar]

I recently wrote about the new Dark Sumptuous Orange bar from Lindt, and I’m pleased to say that it wasn’t the only new flavour that they have out at the minute. I also have a bar of this new Lindt Vanilla & Almond variety, which is made with a milk chocolate base. The filling includes an almond mousse, complete with pieces of almond and a caramel layer too. As I have a rather sweet tooth, and a love of all things nuts and chocolate this looked like the perfect bar for me.
The chocolate pieces are quite chunky, but it has to be said don’t look quite as deep in real life as they do on the photograph. Having said that, they do seem to pack in a fair amount of filling.
The chocolate chunks really are quite sweet, even by my standards! The almond truffle is light, and creamy and had a nice gentle nutty taste with a hint of vanilla. The sweet milk chocolate and the rich brown sugar caramel does over power it somewhat though. I like nuts, but this wasn’t a proper nutty taste, and the almond wasn’t that distinct, not even a hint of marzipan about it, which was sort of what I was expecting. The milk chocolate coating is super silky and has loads of milky cocoa tones that really do take the main spot, the only hint form the almond is a bit in the texture. It is a very sweet treat, and not a bar I could scoff as it is very rich. It is nice with a cup of coffee to help contrast some of the sweetness, but it might be a bit much for the average nut lover.
By Cinabar

18 August 2012

Gladiator Spelt Beer (@TebayServices Westmorland Service Station) [By @SpectreUK]

Glebe Farm, in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, produces wheat, spelt, gluten free flours and breakfast cereals, and also beer. This 4.2% volume Gladiator beer was brewed with Spelt, which is a grain that was originally grown by the Romans to produce bread and beer. Although Spelt is rarely grown today, Glebe Farm still carries on the tradition as the Romans used to grow Spelt on their land during their occupation. Apparently Roman coins are still being dug up on Glebe Farm’s land today. Glebe Farm malts the Spelt and sends it to a local brewer for brewing in a natural and traditional way. This amber coloured beer had a strong wheaty grainy odour and taste to it. It had a full bodied “olde beer” feel to the flavour that made me feel like I was drinking something steeped in tradition, whilst the luscious bitterness jumped up and slapped my tongue pleasingly. The trouble was that I only had the one 330ml bottle, when I should have bought a whole crate of this beer! Also available from Glebe Farm is Emperor Spelt Lager, which I look forward to trying out at some point.
By Spectre

17 August 2012

New Deep Ridged – Flame Grilled Steak Crisps (@walkers_crisps) [By @Cinabar]

We have all tried ridged crisps before, but these are something a bit special. I have never seen anything quite like these new crisps from Walkers before. The word ridges doesn’t even do them justice, these are more mountains than ridges! When I first saw the illustration on the bag, I thought the picture might be exaggerating them, but no, these are seriously crinkled crisps!
The thing about ridges is that they add texture and flavour as the seasoning accumulates in the folds giving them a bit of something extra. I can assure you these are full flavour!
There are actually a couple of other new flavours, but it was the Flame Grilled Steak that was first to catch my eye. I popped one of the super ridged crisps in my mouth and munched away. The texture is awesome, they feel substantial, aren’t too thick, but really do feel satisfying to eat. I loved the crazy texture from the ridges, and they were an absolute pleasure to eat. Perfect munching material.
The taste was just as impressive, the rich beef flavour added a wonderful meatiness, and the smoky edge topped them off perfectly. The flavour was so full it almost tasted juicy, and you could really picture a huge steak on the barbecue, cooked to perfection. The after-taste delivered just a hint of onions that crept in, and made you want to have another crisp. 
As beef flavoured crinkle crisps go, these are just about the best thing ever! As for the new deep ridges, well they are pure genius! I can't wait to try the other flavours, I'm loving these new crisps.
By Cinabar

16 August 2012

The Berry Company Pomegranate & MUNE Healthy Water (Holland & Barrett)

The Berry Company Pomegranate & MUNE Healthy Water (Holland & Barrett)

After my reminiscence about Holland & Barrett style health food shops (the actual one in the story was an independant one in Walsall that is long gone) I decided to see what they had for the health conscious young man these days.  Turns out it's pretty much just protein supplements in massive plastic tubs (for people who haven't realised that without the massive exercise it just turns your waste products into play-doh)!  At the back they had the usual drinks like Purdey's but also had a section for Pomegranate drinks which I love.  They had two I didn't recognise.

Drunk first was The Berry Company Pomegranate juice.  This was far too small for my liking and felt overpriced, but as it was next to the other fortified Pomegranate drinks like PomGreat which 'add stuff' I figured it was like that.  Turns out it's just juice - but perfectly solid juice.  It's less sweet than Rubicon and less strong than POM wonderful style things but perfectly drinkable if not unexciting.

Second up (after a pause to allow for the tastebuds to realign) was the MUNE healthy water.  I have a less successful track record with weak flavoured drinks so wasn't expecting much.  This is similar to the others in that it's essentially water+ but does have enough of a flavour to be noticeable - presumably to cover up all the extra things from natural sources that are artificially added in.  

Unless your product actually grows in the bottles on a tree then at least part of it has been artificially added in - even if it's really good healthy things!  As a consumer we don't mind you sticking things in as long as there is a reason.  Artificially adding in natural things to make it taste nicer is a bonus!  This isn't strong enough in flavour for me and I'd have been just as happy with a weak cordial - guessing my body liked all the extras very hard to tell from such a small 'dose'.

Overall I think that I'd stick to my regular brands, but there did seem to be other things to try in H&B that I may go back for (although I did turn down the loyalty card on the basis that I hadn't been in in years!).

15 August 2012

Lindt Creation – Dark Sumptuous Orange (@LindtUK) [By @Cinabar]

Lindt chocolate always feels like a bit of a treat. It’s a posh chocolate, and one synonymous with being a bit special. I do like their creativity when it comes to bars, from covering the basics like caramel through to the weird Wasabi, they seem to have most bases covered (not coffee, but that’s another story).
They have brought a selection of new bars out for summer, and I obviously couldn’t resist giving them a try. First up is this Sumptuous Orange bar, made with dark chocolate.
The pieces of chocolate in the bar are filled with a rich chocolate orange and orange rind filling. The taste of the dark chocolate was impressive; it had lot of flavour, and a slightly bitter edge. This contrasted perfectly with the filling; the orange wasn’t overly sweet but had a certain zesty full flavour reminiscent of Saville oranges. In fact it would be fair to say that there was a rich hint of marmalade about it, and that combines beautifully with the dark chocolate. It made me want to try chocolate spread and marmalade on the same piece of toast…. but I digress. This isn’t just a plain chocolate and orange mix, its strong flavours blended to perfection.
I liked the texture of the bar too, with the dark chocolate being fairly soft, and the filling light, but giving a bit of texture through the pieces of orange rind within in.
This wasn’t the sickly sweet bar it could have been, it was a well put together and balanced bar, with a nice mature edge. I liked the zesty flavour of orange, and rich tones of chocolate and thought it made an excellent, grown-up, treat.
By Cinabar

14 August 2012

Ko Lee – Go Noodles – Thai Hot and Spicy Tom Yum flavour (ASDA) [By @SpectreUK]

The bright colourful cardboard carton of this Ko Lee: Go Noodles, Thai Hot and Spicy Tom Yum flavour jumped out at me from the shelf in the local supermarket. Manufactured by Kohlico, the print on the carton says; “An authentic product of China”, which aroused my curiosity, as well as Tom Yum being one of my favourite flavours of soup. Underneath the plastic lid there was a plastic fork, a sachet of flavour base mix (with added bits of red pepper, peas, sweet corn, chives and carrots) and a solid block of fine noodles. I decided to use a metal fork, as plastic forks never seem to last long before bending in freshly boiled water. I poured boiling water into the carton of solid noodles, mixed in the sachet’s flavour base contents, stirred and left to cool whilst I prepared that lunchtime’s movie, which was Centurion. The noodles softened and soaked up most of the water, and the flavour base mix blended in easily. I watched the film whilst eating the noodle soup, with some bread and Chipsticks on the side. I found the noodle soup very tasty, with a good heat from the hot and spicy flavour. There was a mild tom yum taste to the noodle soup, with tomato, ginger, lemongrass and garlic standing out in the flavour, leaving a pleasant aftertaste following every mouthful. Centurion was a great film, with some cool fight scenes, and was nice and gory in places. I would buy this Ko Lee Thai Hot and Spicy Tom Yum flavour again. It was a filling and healthy feeling lunch, with the bread and crisps and yoghurt to finish off with. Another bonus was the cheap price of the noodle soup. I reckon it’s perfect for hard up students and those of us (like me) who can’t cook to save their lives!
By Spectre

13 August 2012

Orchard Pig – Totally Minted (@Orchardpig House of Fraser) [By @cinabar]

Saturday was a bit too warm to be out shopping really. It was nice because the shops seemed quieter than usual, but I was aware I was missing some of the finals summer days of sunshine outside.
As it was a bit warm we stopped for a break and I fancied something super refreshing to cool me down. Scouring the shelves in the House of Fraser restaurant chiller cabinet, this fine drink caught my eye. Its name Totally Minted made think it might just be the most refreshing drink available there.
The ingredients include pink grapefruit juice, garden mint and lime, how could anything be more energizing than that? As the drink is made by Orchard Pig, I can also confirm it is sweetened with apple juice, their usual product.
As I poured the light yellow drink into glasses, the aroma of mint was quite something. The drink is fizzy, but it is only lightly carbonated and I would call it “gently sparkling”. The drink flavour is a true treat for the taste buds, and I have never tasted anything like it. It is quite zingy, and sharp and has tons of garden mint mixed in. The mint is the major flavour, and it does the herb proud. It has the grassy taste of the herb, but the cooling menthol is there en-masse. The grapefruit juice and lime add a sour twinge to every mouthful, and give each sip a lovely twist.
This is the perfect hot weather drink, its mix of sharp fruits, and fresh mint just hit the taste buds perfectly and cool you down. All we need now are a few more summery days to enjoy it during. Indian Summer anyone?
By Cinabar

12 August 2012

Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Special Edition Red (Asda)

Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Special Edition Red (Asda)

We love the new, and we love the special edition, and it seems that increasingly we see both collide to form the new product to market tests that we get in the slower seasons for food.

Here we have what appears to be a top end luxury cereal - but it's just Kellogg's Crunchy Nut in a red box!

The blurb at the bottom gives us a bit more insight:

honey and nut flakes

so far so normal

with yoghurty coated flakes 

wait - what? Ignoring that yoghurt as an adjective suggests that it seems like they are coated in yoghurt but aren't this is still a strange addition

juicy cranberries

so now Kellogg's Fruit & Nut? At least it's not raisins and is actually one of the better suited fruits

and sliced almonds

doubling the nuts makes sense actually, but I was worried that with this amount of tampering the cereal would come across as a flavour apocalypse.

Adding proper blue milk and trying a bowlful was an interesting experience.  The normal flakes are kind of closer to regular cornflakes and possibly toned down on the honey and usual nuts.  The yoghurty coated flakes are not that noticeable, but eaten individually are a nice taste.  The main texture change is from the cranberries that linger longer than the crunch does and add a chewy end-step to the mouthful.  The almonds change the flavour and lighten the experience in an entirely pleasurable way.

This isn't really Crunchy Nut as we know it, but it's certainly up to Kellogg's high standards.  Well worth a hunt for, and a nice hybrid between muesli and regular flakey breakfast cereals.

11 August 2012

Melville’s Raspberry Fruit Beer (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

I’ve never been wholly keen on fruit beers ever since Cinabar coxed me into writing for this blog and then started to torture me with them for her own sadistic amusement. They are usually far too sweet, with no reminiscence of beer, and more likely to taste like a fizzy fruit pop. Melville’s Raspberry Fruit Beer was produced in Edinburgh by Innis & Gunn, and was made with natural cold pressed Scottish fruit for freshness and fuller flavour than regular concentrates. The Glen Ample raspberry juice was then brewed with British malt, hops, yeast and water. The fruit beer was 4.1% volume and presented in a 275ml bottle with a smart 1920’s style design on the label that oozed class and sophistication. The label recommended to “serve over ice”, but I didn’t have any to hand, so I made sure the fruit beer was nice and cold from the fridge. The beer was deep red in colour and smelt of strong sweet raspberries, which sent my alarm bells ringing before tasting. Considering this fruit beer smelt so sweet and heavily of raspberries, the taste was surprisingly smooth, tasting very much like a refreshing raspberry shandy. Thankfully the Glen Ample raspberry juice had left me some beer taste to savour. There is also a Strawberry Fruit beer in the Melville’s range that I’m certain Cinabar will have to hunt out for me, but after tasting this fruit beer, I’m sure it won’t be all that bad... I may even be able to find some ice from somewhere. ;-)
By Spectre

10 August 2012

Chocolate By Genevie – Black Heart Selection Box [By @Cinabar]

Occasionally at Foodstuff Finds we are lucky enough to get things sent to us, and I recently received a fabulous box of chocolates to try out, from a company called Chocolate By Genevie. I was rather pleased when it arrived that the box and packaging was an ideal size to fit through the letter box hassle free. They are a family business, complete with an online shop selling hand-made chocolates.
The chocolates are beautifully presented in a smart black box, with a gold cord, and a heart shaped window. They arrived in perfect condition, despite a journey via Royal Mail. Inside the box is a mixed selection of chocolates from the company, including white, milk and dark. There is a good choice in the box, from coffee through to praline and truffles.
Each of the chocolates is made very well, and decorated with neat detail. The quality of the chocolates was excellent, and each one of them was a treat to try. The dark chocolate coffee praline had the most amazing light texture, and a delicate coffee flavour which was milky and reminiscent me of hot mochas. The truffles were the round chocolates, and they had a fabulous thick shell encasing a silky flavoursome filling. The dark chocolate one was divine, balancing an intense cocoa with a lovely sweet aftertaste. My favourite chocolate in the range was the white chocolate hazelnut praline, as it had just such an amazing flavour. The white chocolate was thick, full of vanilla and creamy tones and just as it melts away on the palate the sweet nutty praline shines through and mellow the taste. It is an outstanding chocolate, combing two rich complex flavours in perfect harmony. I’d be quite happy to eat a box of these one their own!!
It has been lovely to try a new make of chocolates, and find something a little bit special. It just goes to show that flavour wise a small family business really can compete with the big brands. If your are looking to buy a special gift for the chocoholic in your life and want something a bit more independent, I really would suggest giving Chocolate By Genevie a try.
By Cinabar

9 August 2012

Sainsbury's wholegrain Apple & Cinnamon Crisp (Sainsbury's)

Sainsbury's wholegrain Apple & Cinnamon Crisp (Sainsbury's)

Ah - dried fruit.  The very grown-up snack.  Both healthy and full of great flavour at the same time.

In the very-olden-days when I was at school my Grandmother was addicted to the health food shop (her very own FoodStuffFinds adventure) and would try pretty much anything. There was of course a 'children's section' with the same toxic concoctions but in brightly coloured packaging.  There were few safe options, but as I was given pick of the store (in a contrast to every sweetshop ever) I got to figure out what was edible very quickly.  Hedgehog crisps were great because you could pretend they were made out of either hedgehogs or things hedgehogs eat (slugs!) which was very Dahl and great fun. They were basically corn puff crisps with non artificial flavours like tomato, and were nice.  Much later on this odd brand of crisps that only ever had one flavour turned up called Kettle Chips and then went on to rule the world. Many happy evenings were spent as a child eating an entire big bag of those.  Even though they have gone all mainstream now I still love them.  The final safe section was the dried fruits, my favourite of which was a little bag of dried apple.

This little bag seemed to barely contain anything. It probably represented the concentrated remains of a couple of apples easily though and all the juice seemed to still be there.  I remember taking a bag into school once and people mocking my strange choice of snack, until they had tried some that is.  Apple is a universally loved flavour and is probably written into the DNA of the British at some fundamental level. This is seen no where more than in our love for cider.

Sainsbury's have wisely not opted to make a cider breakfast cereal (although if you ran out of milk...), instead taking the contents of that little bag of apple and chucking it into a wholegrain granola kind of affair.  As the box states it's a 'crisp' and so they have chosen softer bits of fruit which works well.  Apple and milk may not be to everyones taste, but it's nicely refreshing and the apple flavour lingers on nicely.

I like it when supermarkets but a bit of effort into their own brand stuff. It's like they feel the need to compete with Marks & Spencer's and Waitrose and produce something just different enough to make you go 'lets go to Sainsbury's this week so that we can get that apple cereal your dad likes' and in this case it's paid off.  While it's not a staple eat-every-day affair, on these decently warm summer mornings it hits the spot and future special trips are assured.
By NLi10

8 August 2012

Rowntrees Squidgers [By @SpectreUK]

These almost cube like shapes came in a very colourful 150g bag with four colours available, which were; pink, orange, white and purple. The ingredients had no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and included real fruit juice such as apple, strawberry, blackcurrent and orange, as well as pepper, carrot, hibiscus and black carrot. Per 100g there was 329 calories, with 0.2g of fat and 65.9g of sugar. These sweets were lovely and squidgy (hence the name) with a foam like texture. Pink had a sweet strawberry hit. White had a sugar sweet apple flavour. Whilst Orange had a strong bubblegum type orange flavour, and Purple a zingy blackcurrant flavour. All tasted fantastically fruity and very moreish indeed. I just had to keep squeezing them and dropping one after another into my mouth, savouring each flavour until all the foam sweets had gone. Their squidginess made me feel young and ever so slightly naughty for keeping them all to myself, but there was no one else in the office at the time, so all the more for me!
By Spectre

7 August 2012

Kellogg’s Special K – Biscuit Moments – Blueberry (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

I thought I would share with you another of the new products I have been trying as my alternative “breakfast at my desk”. To be fair to them though, these are meant as a snack rather than a breakfast replacement, despite being made by Kelloggs!
This new product from Special K comes in the form of biscuits, but aren’t as big as something like the Belvitas. In fact there are two of these biscuits in the pack, and both are fairly thin, but quite pretty as they are decorated in a vanilla drizzle.
The biscuit case seems very delicate, but has a nice wheaty taste; the star of the show is the blueberry jam in the centre. It may only be a thin layer, but it oozes berry flavour, and totally makes these biscuits. They are delicious. It reminded me of the blueberry filling from Nutrigrain bars, but a bit more intense. I love the floral fruity nature of blueberries, and this really shows off their taste.
The vanilla drizzle may look nice, but the flavour from this is a bit lost due to the strong sweet flavour from the filling. I loved the taste of these bars and would certainly buy them again. I am actually rather looking forward to trying the other new flavour which is strawberry. The only criticism I have is that they weren’t that filling, but for 99 calories they would make a lovely afternoon treat.
By Cinabar

6 August 2012

Caplico Stick - Chocolate Flavoured (@CyberCandyLTD) [By @NLi10]

Previously on FoodStuffFinds I reviewed Giant Caplico Stick Strawberry and concluded that it wasn't actually as ridiculously sweet as I'd expected. These are the original versions, smaller and less ornate, but still pretty exciting non-the-less. A pack contained 5 so upon purchase I distributed these amongst the junior reviewers and left the box on my desk.

Unlike the giant version I wasn't too intimidated to eat one of these as a summer evening snack post dinner (pie) and didn't really have to think much about making a mess with all the fragments as it was easy to bite in sections.

I was sure I'd prefer the strawberry flavour - after all this is Glico Pocky fondant we are considering and not actual chocolate - but the brown stuff is pretty satisfying. It has a plain chocolate kind of taste and the sweetness of the wafer cone offsets this nicely. It's not refreshing, which is disappointing due to its summertime shape, but it is quite a light snack.

I'd certainly consider these again just as an 'eat' and not as an experience. The other flavours will taste similar to their respective Pocky brethren and the gimmick isn't enough to full me with the desire to show everyone. A good solid novelty snack, and after hordes of terrible novelties that's not a bad mark to aim for.
By NLi10

5 August 2012

Carling Zest (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

This Carling Zest was brewed in the Carling Brewery, in Burton Upon Trent. At 2.8% volume this lager was marketed as a “Refreshing summer lager, with a hint of natural citrus” on the label on the 330ml bottle. When I was a barman (many many... many years ago) lager and lime was a very popular drink, especially amongst the ladies, and still is I’m sure. Although it wasn’t thought of as a summer drink then and was drunk all year round, so I don’t think this lager should be thought of as just a summer limited edition either.
There was a strong lime smell to the lager on opening the bottle. There was indeed a very refreshing lime citrus taste to the lager, stronger than the lime added to the top of a bottle of Corona (a keen favourite of mine, especially drunk whilst visiting the local Pizza Hut), but not as strong as a lager and lime in the local pub. There was also a strong aftertaste of lime. I must admit, I did rather enjoy this Carling Zest, and felt mildly in touch with what feminine side I could find whilst watching a particularly bendy episode of Nikita. I’m surprised brewers haven’t come up with this lager and lime idea and mass produced it before. What next; lager and black? Heaven forbid… although I am partial to the odd rum and black!
By Spectre

4 August 2012

Sun Exotic Tropical (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

I’m always on the lookout for a refreshing drink after I’ve had one of my meager workouts. This sparkling Sun Exotic Tropical drink was made with real fruit juice, by Rubicon, in London. There were approximately 164 calories in the 330ml can. I say; “approximately”, as the print on the can stated that there were 54 calories per 100ml. I found this a bit frustrating as they should just tell you straight how many calories are in the drink, rather than make you work it out to exact milliliter. Although I suppose it does keep the mind working whilst you drink, but I prefer to concentrate on drinking, just in case I choke! The ingredients included; orange, pineapple, apple, guava, passionfruit, mango, and banana (oh, no… many a fruit drink and smoothie has been ruined by banana… and beer!). The sparkling tropical drink contained 11% fruit juice, though I’m unsure of the exact breakdown of all the fruity ingredients previously mentioned within that 11%. The drink was also free from artificial sweeteners and suitable for vegetarians. On initial taste the mango flavour stood out, which made me wince a little as I don’t really like mango all that much, but this was replaced by passionfruit and guava, followed closely behind by pineapple and orange. This tropical fruit drink did what it said on the front of the can, as it was definitely “Tropical”. The sparkling drink was very sweet, having an exquisitely fruity taste, and was very refreshing to drink. I became used to the initial mango hit and all of the flavours seemed to line up in a beautiful party Conga treating my taste buds to a flourish of flavours. There is a banana aftertaste, but for a change the banana flavour didn’t spoil the drink in any way. I felt very refreshed after drinking, and I would absolutely have this drink again, and not just after a workout… it can at least remind me of hot weather, as I look at the rain through the window!
By Spectre

3 August 2012

White Chocolate Blueberries / Sweetheart Biscuits (China) [By @Cinabar]

My dad has been on a recent business trip to China, and very kindly picked up a couple of things for Foodstuff Finds for me. Thanks dad. ;-)

White Chocolate Blueberries

First up we have this very posh looking box of white chocolate coated blueberries. The packaging is very luxurious, has a fab purple design and is certainly meant for the gift market. Inside the box, the choccies are wrapped in a silver foil seal in pairs. This keeps them fresh, and makes a nice portion of two of one each if you are sharing.
I was rather impressed by the white chocolate coating, as there is loads of it! There is more chocolate than blueberry which is my kind of proportions! The blueberry was dried, but still had a good flavour, and the sharpness of the fruit was a nice contrast with the lashings of super creamy sweet white chocolate!
Although these are aimed at the luxury gift market, I have to confess to popping some in my lunch box for work and using them to cheer up my afternoon. They are perfectly packaged for this and it works rather well. Plus I get a fab chocolaty treat and to convince myself that I'm having one of my five a day! :-D

Sweetheart Biscuits

Next up we have these biscuity treats from China. The box again is rather posh, but there is a bit of a strange story on the back. To summarise it, a husband and wife had money problems, so the wife sold herself to pay the debts (it actually says that). The husband made these biscuits to sell to buy her back (errr?) and that’s why they are called Sweetheart biscuits. Not too much of a romantic fairy tale, and I can't help thinking something is lost in the translation there! I’ll try not to let that put me off these biscuits!
They are a very soft bisciut, and to be honest reminded me more of an Eccles cake than anything else. The filling is a milder taste, it is filled with something called winter melon, but tastes rather like a gooey mix of coconut paste and toffee flavours. A good combination to say the least!
The biscuits were rather tasty, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were sweet, soft and made a lovely afternoon treat with a cup of coffee. Whether or not they are tasty enough to buy back your wife after she sold herself into slavery, is anyone’s guess!
By Cinabar

2 August 2012

Nature Valley, Crunchy Granola Bars - Oats & Honey [By @NLi10]

A good while ago as part of their Olympics sponsorship promotions I got given this twin pack of bars on the street in Birmingham. Despite feeling a little bit sad that the people handing the bars out had to explain to every single person that they may contain nuts I took one and stored it away, forgetting about it.

Eventually, one day at work, I'd run out of my biscuits and decided to give them a go. They are a lot tougher and crunchier than I expected! Essentially it's a granola style bar but really compressed so it's almost like a rivita crisp style. The flavour is nice and oaty but really quite mild, and the experience is very dry so you'd not want to eat these out and about without having a nice flask of tea handy.

They do feel quite healthy and probably aren't full of too many poly-un-bad-things despite their fairly high calorie count (for a 'healthy' snack anyway), but if you are doing exercise up on the hills of Britain or just doing some running like the people on the telly then an extra 200 calories is nothing.

They gave me a voucher too and I haven't decided whether I'd make it through a multipack - although the oats and chocolate variety does sound appealing...
By NLi10

1 August 2012

Buttered Baked Potato Flavour Crisps (M&S) [By @Cinabar]

Oh my word. What sits in front of me is packet of crisps that I deem to be legendary. These may well sell ‘New’ on their label, but I assure you these are more of a re-launch than a new product. At one time these were my favourite flavour crisps bar none, and then they disappeared. Several companies tried to mimic the jacket potato flavour, but most didn’t quite hit the spot for me. Seabrooks version was an epic fail. I was left wishing for the bag of crisps I remembered from years ago.
Seeing these on the shelf in M&S on Saturday was, to finally find a situation where this word seems appropriate, amazballs. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I picked up several bags, and kept checking the packets to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. I also scoured the ingredients to ensure that they hadn’t had a sudden addition of ‘sugar’ (looking at you Seabrooks) and that they matched my memories of them.
They are a thinly cut crinkle crisp, and looked just as I remember them. I’m even fairly sure they used to be in the healthier range, so the lower fat message seemed familiar too. The taste was amazing. It is a surprisingly intense flavour, but the butter is super creamy and smooth, with a hint of salt and brings out the jacket potato taste too. It’s quite full on, and seems as if there should be plenty of butter smothered all over them, but all that is visible is a gentle golden dusting. One thing is for sure, they don’t taste low fat!
The light crunch of the crisps makes these very moreish, as they melt in your mouth after the first bite and you find yourself reaching for another. The crinkles in each crisp certainly mean that they come loaded with seasoning and that is probably what makes these taste like they have concentrated butter all over them. I like the flavour because they feel wrong, naughty even. A little bit like when you were a kid and you used to get a few sachets of butter in a cafe with a scone, and you’d use them all and layer it real thick and you were practically eating more butter than scone! I say “as a kid” but equally I could substitute “like Spectre does whenever he is having scones in a cafe”! :-D
I realise that these won’t be to everyone’s taste, as they are rich, but if you ever thought that you’d like a crisp that tastes like it’s been dipped in butter, then these are the crisps you’ve been looking for. They work for me, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see them back!
By Cinabar