30 September 2012

Tesco Juice Bar - Breakfast in a bottle ( by @nli10)

Breakfast used to be all about the cereal or the cooked Full English. Apparently cereal isn't quick enough for modern lifestyles so we have breakfast biscuits and breakfast drinks. Most drinks are essentially smoothies, but this one actually has physical fibre in it too.

While this initially messes with your head as its kind of like a fruit porridge it actually tastes ok. I'm not a nutritionist but I'm guessing they fortified this with the same vitamins and minerals as a cereal. Heck this could be a small portion of muesli pit through the blender! I was surprised by how thick it was and not too put off to not finish the lot. Would I buy one again for elevenses as part of a meal deal? Certainly! Could this replace a good bowl of Kellogg's in the morning? Never!

29 September 2012

Marty’s Cracklin’ Salt and Vinegar flavour (Pinoy Foods) [By @SpectreUK]

Marty’s Cracklin’ Salt and Vinegar flavour were produced by Oishi, in the Philippines. The text on the front of the 90g bag said that these Cracklin’s crisps were made from vegetarian chicharon. The serving suggestion size was 30g which had 160 calories, 8g of fat with 0g trans fat and 1g of sugar. The ingredients included green peas, vegetable oil, tapioca starch, potatoes, salt, sugar, citric acid, hydrolysed soy protein, spices, garlic, monosodium glutamate, sodium citrate, sodium diacetate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, lactic acid, and TBHQ. Admittedly from the secret laboratory sounding ingredients I wished I hadn’t read the list on the back of the bag at all. Slightly worried I’d grow a better looking, more reasonable and charismatic second head after eating these crisps, I left them on the Foodstufffinds’ shelf for a while before daring to try them. One mad and crazy lunchtime I decided to eat them with a banana sandwich. Naughtily I drizzled some of Cinabar’s Dad’s superb homemade runny honey inside the banana sandwich and had a little piece of cheese on the side. Dumping the large square Cracklin’ crisps into a bowl I decided to have them without the aid of a dipping sauce for their full flavour. I was not to be disappointed. These Cracklin’ crisps had a lovely crunch to them with a moreish salty mix of potato and a mild corn flavour, they had a more citrusy taste rather than malt vinegar, but malt vinegar hadn’t been listed in the ingredients, which was a little odd considering the flavour’s title. They also had a mild spicy heat to them that at first went completely unnoticed, but the tingle on my tongue slowly built up as I polished off the entire bag (serving suggestion size ignored as usual) and I had a very pleasant burn on my tongue by the end of the packet. Flavours also available from Marty’s Cracklin’ are Plain Salted and Spicy Vinegar. I reckon these Cracklin’ Salt and Vinegar flavour were more Spicy Salt flavour, so I look forward to hunting down the Spicy Vinegar flavour, although it does make me wonder if malt vinegar is listed in their ingredients?!
By Spectre

28 September 2012

Masala Chai Milk Chocolate (Selfridges) [By @SpectreUK]

My local Indian Restaurant, called Diva, serves Masala Chai tea, which I always enjoy after my curry and chips. This Masala Chai Milk Chocolate Tbar was produced in Great Britain by Artisan Du Chocolat. The 45g bar contained 40% cocoa and 24% milk, with ingredients containing cow’s milk, soya lecithin, and possibly traces of nuts, gluten and sesame, and included; cane sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, cocoa beans, and Masala Chai tea, which was a mixture of Assam black tea, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, and natural flavours. The Masala Chai recipe originally came from the coastal state of Gujarat and was a concoction of Assam tea and Indian herbs and spices. The recipe was first obtained from ancient Ayurvedic medical texts, and was used as herbal medicine. This Tbar had a rich melt-in-the-mouth milk chocolate with a spicy Masala Chai tea aroma. The main flavours within the milk chocolate that stood out were cinnamon, cardamom and ginger in that order on my tastebuds, leaving a silky yet slightly bitter aftertaste of ginger and milk chocolate. These flavours screamed of the finishing stages of summer and of the coming of the cold wet autumn, with the warming effects of the spices and the added luxury of the delicious milk chocolate. This chocolate bar would be a perfect after dinner treat, and I’d recommend washing it down with a cup of Spiced Masala Tea.
By Spectre

27 September 2012

Morrison's Tomato & Herb Pasta Bowl by @NLi10

Morrison's Tomato & Herb Pasta Bowl by @NLi10

I bought this to use at lunch one day to try and save a bit of money and add variety to the sandwich bar that I live on at work (£2 for a wrap or £2.25 for a hot Panini isn't too bad though).  I failed to appreciate that 65g of pasta is very much a snack and not a full meal, but I'll mainly talk about the actual stuff and not that it was a mini portion.  In fairness it does say snack on the packet too. Grumble grumble.

Compared to the mighty Pot Noodle (market leader I presume), and the various noodle pots from Oriental Grocery stores this is a slightly different take.  With actual pasta, and actual tomato sauces this isn't too far from one of those Bachelor packets of pasta I used to eat at Uni.  It is however able to be made from the water heater at work, which is the perfect temperature for coffee but too cold for good tea.  This means that this is a very quick to 'make' lunch and leaves maximum time for playing cards, talking toot and staring at smart-phones.

As far as the quality goes, the sauce is oddly powdery but mixes in well to become thicker than a typical pot snack.  The flavour isn't special but it is certainly tomato and herb.  The pasta is fairly slight to make sure it goes soft in time to eat, but still retains enough texture to eat happily.

I may pick this up again, but with a bag of crisps or something to go with it if it is to become a meal.

26 September 2012

Masham Glory (Tesco) [By @spectreUK]

Masham Glory was produced by Theakston Brewery, in Masham, North Yorkshire, which was established in 1827. I have every respect for the Theakston Brewery as they brew one of my favourite all time ales, which is Old Peculier. Masham Glory was 4.7% in volume and served in a 500ml bottle. This beer’s ingredients contained wheat and included; British barley, English hops, raisin, yeast, cinnamon and water from the Yorkshire Dales. On opening this beer there was an aroma of barley mixed with a strong fruity raisin almost liquor like smell and a suggestion of cinnamon. The fruitiness disappeared almost immediately on first taste and was replaced by a heavy bitter citrus pale ale flavour with a hint of cinnamon to finish. There was a bitter malt and hoppy aftertaste with further citrus undertones. Although this auburn coloured beer was very fresh and fruity smelling, Masham Glory had a citrus dryness to its bitter hoppy taste that had a late summer harvest feel to it with an expectancy of the chills of autumn. I’d certainly enjoy this beer again anytime, on its own or with a fishy meal to compliment its hoppy citrus qualities or, if I’m lucky with its nod to pale ale; bangers and mash with gravy.
By Spectre

25 September 2012

New Quality Street – Golden Penny [Delicious Toffee Dessert] (Tesco) [By @cinabar]

I was first alerted to this new dessert by avid reader David H. He saw the desserts in his local supermarket and chose not to buy tem because they looked to sweet. That might be true for him – but when he told me about them, I couldn’t have been more excited! I have a very sweet tooth.
I have to say that basing a dessert on a sweet from Quality Street is a bit of a new idea. If I have a tin of Quality Streets I tend to leave the Golden Pennys to last, as there isn’t any chocolate on them! However I’m quite into caramel puddings, so can see how this could work in pudding format.
The packaging is covered in the Quality Street purple, and under the card there are two pots. I pulled back the lid of one of them, and found inside a golden colour dessert. It looked rather like a thick caramel sauce, fluffy but certainly not enough to be a mousse. I gave it a try, and the texture was light, cool and just slightly thick. It was super smooth and felt very soothing. The flavour was awesome! It had the perfect golden taste of buttery sweet caramel. It is amazing stuff! If you have tried the Rolo desserts then this is like an intense version of the caramel from there. It is certainly one for the sweet toothed, and by the end of it was reminding me more and more of Caramac. It was rich, but the little pot was the perfect portion size, as the flavour never felt like it was too much. By the end of it my sweet tooth was fully satisfied, and I was left looking forward to the remaining pudding.
By Cinabar

24 September 2012

FoodStuffFights! Chocolate Creme Oreo Vs Choccie Dodgers

FoodStuffFights! Chocolate Creme Oreo Vs Choccie Dodgers

Two and a half years ago I came up with a great idea for snack articles - FoodStuffFights.  In a nutshell you take one existing product and one new product in the same range (or budget in store versions) and test them together to see if the king has been dethroned.  It was so successful that I decided to try to do it on a larger scale and ended up with 8 different types of custard cremes that I couldn't tell the difference between.  It took months to eat them all - I didn't have the heart to write it up.  I spotted both of these chocolatey chocolate biscuit sandwich snacks both on special offer at the same time and decided now was the time to rekindle the original idea:


I decided that the Oreos had to be the reigning champ - they even have their own review.  Choccie Dodgers are the 'new' to market product that I suspect doesn't copy the Oreo but has a common biscuity ancestor (like us & chimps) - the humble bourbon biscuit.  While both of these are much more complex affairs the similarities of the biscuit and creme with multiple flavours of chocolate is quite definite evidence.

The Oreos have the most interesting texture - they crumble quickly and have a pattern on them which is pleasing to the tongue.  You can easily separate the halves and the biscuit portion tastes identically to the original flavour vanilla creme Oreos. The strong cocoa flavour of the biscuit overpowers the creme inside which is a shame - the vanilla sticks out due to its difference but this just melts into the chocolaty flavour in general.  I do enjoy these, I'd have picked them up from the special offer section without any prompts, but maybe I'd say that the vanilla version is better overall.  These are a good American style bourbon and something I will eat again.

The Choccie Dodgers are a different proposition entirely.  The biscuit is a hard, crunchy kind and really quite morish, its not as strongly flavoured as the Oreo.  I'd say that it's even crisper than the normal Jammie Dodger variety which has a tendency to crumble when eaten.  The jam centre in most versions of this biscuit is just a different flavour, but here it really is a chocolate creme.  This feels like it's cheated the Dodger's brand a little until you bite into the middle and the softness of the creme gives it the same crispy and squidgy feeling of the original.  This is a good hit.  The creme itself is maybe slightly stronger or darker than the biscuit and works better because of it.

It's clear then - the Choccie Dodgers are the new Champions and the title comes back to the UK (if that's where these things are made - I lose track these days)!  These really could become a whole new legitimate brand in the Dodger's range which suffered in the past a bit from continued special editions.  As proof of this I offered around the biscuits at work after talking about them at lunch and the remaining 5 in the packet were vanished by colleagues.  I still have Oreos left - but I think that if I had offered similarly based soley on their mighty reputation these would have gone too.  At the moment I still have half a packet on my desk, for another break-time...

23 September 2012

Apple Jacks (Tesco Extra) [By @Cinabar]

I live in one of the very few cities that doesn’t have a major branch of Tesco. We have a Tesco Express, but that is about it. In a nearby town (30minute drive) there is what I can only say is a huge branch of Tesco and it is probably the biggest supermarket I have ever been in. As you can imagine this shop fascinates me, and we do go every so often (so Spectre can stock up on beer) and I can re-fill the Foodstuff Finds To Do cupboard.
One of the isles that captures my imagination is the foreign section. Although supermarkets near me have some Polish goodies, this shop takes it to a new extreme. They even have an American import section where you can buy Chocolate Lucky Charms, crazy flavoured poptarts, all the American chocolates you can imagine, tinned pumpkin, cake mixes – the list just goes on. Its also not just American goodies, they have all sorts of things from all over the world. I even managed to pick up bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin, which was imported from Ireland and not usually found in English shops. In summary, the shop is heaven. There will be a number of reviews in the coming weeks as I work my way through my purchases, but first up are these Apple Jacks.
I bought this an individual serving so I could take them to work without having to wash up a bowl afterwards. Yes, I'm that lazy. The pot does get recycled if that makes it any better? The cereal consists of orange and green rings not dissimilar in shape to Cheerios. The colours are bright though, and the orange ones are even speckled with deep red. Although I couldn’t distinguish the flavour between the orange and green, the overall flavour is sweet with a good hint of cinnamon and a subtle apple aftertaste. The flavours were quite warming and the spices mingled well with the apple. My favourite part though was the milk. After I finished the cereal I drank it down and it was fantastic, the cinnamon was a lot stronger and made the milk taste like a wonderful milkshake. I think cinnamon is one of the most undervalued spices in the UK with it only seemingly making an appearance at Christmas. I loved the flavour of these Apple Jacks, and I’ll certainly be back for a proper box. If you are cinnamon fan I can’t recommend these enough.
By cinabar

22 September 2012

Angry Birds Space Fruit Gummies [By @SpectreUK]

I’m a big fan of Angry Birds by Rovio Entertainment. I’ve played most of the games so far and have recently been working my way through Angry Birds Space. So I was pretty enthused when I saw this 99g box of Angry Birds Space Fruit Gummies placed in my Foodstufffinds in-tray. These gummies were distributed by Commack, New York and manufactured in Mexico. Each serving was suggested at 40g, which was 13 pieces, having 120 calories, and 15mg of sugar. Made with real fruit juice, the ingredients were nut free, gluten free, and fat free, and included; white grape juice, corn syrup, gelatin, citric acid, natural and artificial flavour, FD&C, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Red 3 and carnauba wax. The colours and numbers in the ingredients confused me a little and didn’t sound “real” at all. I’m also a big fan of being able to name the actual ingredients in the things I eat, rather than “E” numbers, or weird code words spoken in corridors of sweet laboratories in hushed conversations.

There were six flavours, with six shapes, one shape per flavour. The shapes weren’t exactly great as many of them were a little mangled, but mostly recognisable from the Angry Birds game, having said that the shapes weren’t themed to the space game specifically. Red colour was cherry flavour, which tasted a little bit like a cherry jelly bean. Yellow colour was lemon flavour, which was the best shaped bird and had the most realistic flavour with a zesty lemon sour tang. Raspberry flavour was blue in colour and tasted more like a raspberry concocted in the same laboratory deep underneath the sweet factory that the lab rats had concocted the weird sounding codes for some of the ingredients. Purple colour was supposed to be grape flavour, but followed suit after the raspberry spooky secret lab flavour. Green colour was my favourite green pig character and tasted a little like an apple and wasn’t unpleasant. The other red colour (yes, two reds, pot luck on the flavour until I got used to the shape of the Angry Bird) was supposed to be strawberry, but I had to imagine really hard that it could be strawberry whilst I was eating it. As I mentioned before, some of these Angry Bird gummies looked a little like they’d already been catapulted towards green pigs behind barriers, but they were fun shapes to play with whilst I ate them. They made me feel young, which is the whole reason to eat sweets in the first place, especially when you start to get a little old and long in the tooth! That’s the same reason I play the game on the phone, I guess. Fortunately I was in the office on my own when I started chucking these gummy Angry Birds around before gobbling them down; otherwise I could have had someone’s eye out, or at least knocked off a few green pigs if I had been a decent shot!
By Spectre

21 September 2012

Dairy Milk Golden Biscuit Crunch (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

On a recent visit to Tesco I came across two new Dairy Milk bars, this is the first of the two and a review for the other will be put shortly! This one has a biscuit base, and from the picture looks like it has more biscuit content than a number of actual biscuits on the market (I’m looking at you Rolo Biscuits). On top of the base is a crème layer followed by a coating of smooth Dairy Milk.
I really like the combination of textures in this bar, the biscuit was firm and crunchy, but the chocolate in combination with the crème layer added a soft contrast. The flavour was quite sweet, and the biscuit section added a good baked flavour. The crème layer was surprisingly pale in colour, and like a soft fondant in texture. It added a sweet creamy vanilla taste to the bar which worked well with the other ingredients. The chocolate was good old Dairy Milk and added that rich combination of cream and cocoa that only Cadbury can. Together they made one indulgent bar!
It’s a close call to decide whether or not this is more of a biscuit or a chocolate bar. As I said there are certainly biscuits on the market with less biscuit content in them, but I don’t think this is going to go well dunked in a cup of coffee. To be fair it’s not really trying to do that. It’s trying to mix the biscuit layer and make a munching chocolate not a dunking biscuit!
Either way the flavour works. I loved the sweet tastes of the biscuit, fondant and chocolate and found it a well balanced flavour. It’s not too rich, but does provide a wonderful sweet chocolate hit.
By Cinabar

20 September 2012

Jamie Oliver Keep It Simple - Lemon Herb Crust (Sainsbury's) by @NLi10

Jamie Oliver Keep It Simple - Lemon Herb Crust (Sainsbury's) by @NLi10

Continuing the trend of reviewing Jamie Oliver things because they are surprisingly good quality we find ourselves buying a pot of breadcrumbs.  This pot of breadcrumbs says that it can be added to pasta bake to make it more exotic.  I like both pasta bakes and exotic things so despite not using either chicken or fish we decided to add a zesty crunch to some pasta.  We used a Homepride sauce because we are old enough to remember the adverts with the little man on them, and he reminds us of our childhood.

I only realised that this would be probably worth a review after I'd tipped out the lovely presented dish into the Ikea pasta bowls - this isn't as pretty as I'd normally hope for.  The grilled top of the crumbs looks good and the texture does look different to a normal pasta bake.

The lemon taste is a little bit overpowering.  Maybe I was supposed to let it mix into the pasta a bit more, maybe I was only supposed to do a light sprinkle.  The lemon was very, very overpowering in places (but it actually tasted like lemon instead of artificial lemon so that's a plus).  The texture was great and did add a little pizzaz to the dish, but I don't think I'd want to do this every time.  Sometimes you just want to enjoy the lovely tomato pasta sauce.

I have about a third of a tub left so will no doubt use this again on some other unsuspecting meal.

19 September 2012

Krispy Kreme’s Autumn/Winter Doughnuts [@krispykremeUK] [By @Cinabar]

Oh my - Krispy Kreme have three new doughnuts out for the change of season!! I absolutely love Krispy Kreme. I remember the first time I saw them, it was a few years back in Selfridges in Birmingham. They had a queue coming out of the door, and I remember being fascinated by what was causing such a stir. My curiosity got to me and I joined the back of the queue. It was a fast moving queue as it happened, and half way through a bell rang and one of the workers came out and gave out free sample doughnuts to those waiting. It was absolute doughnut perfection, hot, sweet and fluffy. I bought a dozen when I got to the front, and have never looked back.
I have to say I have a lot of love for their basic doughnut, it does what it does really well. However once you’ve seen the selection of creative doughnuts on offer its hard to make a choice as to what to have. Me being me, anything with a new label always takes my fancy. ;-) There are three new doughnuts for the Autumn/Winter season, and they are calling them the Kreme de la Kreme.

Pistachio and White Chocolate Nougat
This doughnut look absolutely beautiful. It has a white chocolate and pistachio icing drizzled over it, and there are all sorts of goodies piled on top of that too. The raspberry, nuts and honey flakes just made this one pretty looking doughnut! The raspberry bits added a fruity flavour throughout that worked well with the nuts and white chocolate. The highlight was the filling. It was a pale green filling that looked light whipped as it was rather fluffy. From the green colour I could tell it was pistachio, but the taste reminded me of sweetened nuts and it had a nice hint of marzipan about it. The doughnut looks fantastic, and it has to be said flavour wise it lived up to my expectations. Indulgent heaven.

Milk Chocolate Praline Fudge Cake
Next up was a ring doughnut, made with a chocolate cake base. The chocolate fudge icing looked a little sticky, but nuts round the edge made it easier to pick up without too many sticky fingers. The flavour was full-on, merging rich chocolate with plenty of nuts and successfully recreating a fab praline taste. I liked the the mix of textures from the soft doughnut, gooey topping and crunchy coating.As the combination of chocolate and nuts its one of my favourite things, this doughnut was spot on for me. It was rich, indulgent and a proper chocolate lover’s treat.

Salted Caramel
Out of the three doughnuts pictured, this one wins the award for elegance. The dark chocolate icing is finished with a very smart caramel swirl sitting neatly round one edge, giving it a refined look. Under the fab dark icing lays a soft white base filled with a huge dollop of salted caramel. I can tell you from my hands on experience and an overzealous bite that the filling isn’t too sticky, but it is quite runny and a little dangerous! :-D The flavour from the filling had a good rich taste, it was rather sweet, but the warm tones were buttery and finished with a delicate hint of salt. The chocolate and the caramel complemented each other rather well, with the sugary nature of the filling being balanced by the darker edged topping. This is definitely the posh one in the box, but its mix of classic flavours means it will be a hit with anyone.

18 September 2012

Wilshire Rum Beer (Marks & Spencer) [By @SpectreUK]

"Avast, ye landlubbers, and shiver me timbers!” This Rum Beer was brewed especially for Marks and Spencer’s, which doesn’t sound like a den of cutthroat piracy to me. That’s probably a good reason why this beer was called “Rum Beer” rather than “Grog”. Back in 1740 rum rations were introduced to sailors, but added to beer in an attempt to stop the sailors from getting too drunk. Although how adding rum to more alcohol can stop someone from getting even more drunk, I don’t know. I can see sailors queuing for their rum rations on the ship’s deck saying; “Today I’d like to split my rum ration over fifteen pints of beer, just to make I really don’t get drunk whilst on duty!” It makes me wonder if this is where the phrase “sea legs” originated from also. Was it a case of; three sips of Grog, two steps forwards, one step back, hiccup, restart… Three sips of…?

Brewed by Wadworth Brewery, in Devizes, Wiltshire, this 5% volume brown beer was served in a 500ml bottle and reported on the label to be a; “full bodied malty ale with a soft, rich Caribbean rum”. Originally Wadworth 6X, and containing gluten, this beer’s ingredients included; water, malted barley (Crystal), sugar, Fuggle and Golding hops, yeast and the additional Caribbean rum. On opening this beer, there was an initial malty hoppy smell with an edge of rum in the aroma. My pottery beer mug seemed delighted at the brief chance to hold real classic Grog. There was an early hoppy bitter taste as the Fuggles shone through followed by caramel malt sweetness, with a dominance of rum throughout the flavours that moved into the aftertaste once a short sharp rum kick had taken place. There was a smooth yet frisky quality to this Rum Beer that made me bask in its complexity. From the initial Fuggle bitterness followed by the rich sweet malt and then the rum liquor punch, all of which made me smack my lips with every sip, leaving a luscious beery rum taste in my mouth. Instant memories of my favourite book, Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, sprang to my mind. What better beer to celebrate September 19th International Talk like a Pirate Day? So it’s; “Avast, me Hearties!” and a “Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of Rum Beer!”
By Spectre

17 September 2012

Chocolate Tea (Tesco Finest) [By @Cinabar]

Chocolate tea sounds at first like a bit of strange concept, like a mix between hot drinks that shouldn’t happen. Oddly enough though the flavours work surprisingly well together. This tea from Tesco is essentially a mix of standard black tea, vanilla and cocoa. The tea bags smells quite sweet from the vanilla, but I still added my customary spoon of sugar before adding the boiling water. Once brewed it was a dark fragrant liquid, so I added a splash of milk to help smooth it.
Despite the name of this tea it was really vanilla flavoured not chocolate. The gentle golden tones of vanilla shone through more than anything else, followed by a blast of refreshing sweet black tea and then the gentle after taste of chocolate. It is a proper soothing sweet milky drink. I don’t think the chocolate is rich enough to warrant he name on the packet, but I still loved the flavour combination that the tea creates. I felt that the sugar enhanced the vanilla, as I am used to the flavour being sweet. I thought this made a fab cup of tea. It has enough black tea in it so that it doesn’t lose it refreshing nature, but the vanilla gave the cup a lovely comforting edge. It doesn’t have enough cocoa in to make it an alternative to hot chocolate, but it is still worth giving a try as the combination it does have creates a lovely smooth sweet comforting taste.
By Cinabar

16 September 2012

OKF Aloe Vera King - Natural Strawberry & Natural Pomegranate (K K MART- Bromsgrove)

OKF Aloe Vera King - Natural Strawberry & Natural Pomegranate (K K MART - Bromsgrove) by NLi10

I'm out at Silverstone today, at a Ferrari race day. This is an odd thing to occur as although Formula 1 is my favourite sport Ferrari is my least favourite team. Free tickets and days out with friends are always good things though so I thought it a good opportunity to try a few of the things I picked up yesterday at KK Mart.

First up we have a twist on the normal Aloe Vera drink. This one is the Korean Aloe Vera king variety and is flavoured with natural strawberries. It's a lot sweeter than I expected and still has a nice fresh base flavour underneath and those little slithers of flesh floating in the drink. I enjoyed this a lot and it certainly refreshed even though a hot drink would have been nice in the overcast windy conditions.

Next up was the Pomegranate flavour of the same drink. This was less sweet, but not identifiably pomegranate flavour, maybe grape ish? I think I've been spoilt by the powerful flavours of other drinks and this was merely nice compared to the lovely strawberry.

I'd then put the Strawberry variety on pole position, although it may not be ideal for podium celebrations...

15 September 2012

Ghirardelli Dark & Raspberry Chocolate [Germany] (By @cinabar)

This is one of those bars that my dad picked up for me while in Germany. It’s a dark chocolate bar, with a raspberry filling. When I opened up the bar and had a look at the chocolate, I realised that it was one of the few items that looked better unwrapped than it is pictured on the packaging. The bar look very smart, the very dark colour chocolate looked appealing, and the beautifully moulded chunks all showed the detail of the logo on them perfectly. The filling inside was thick, gooey and a vibrant pink colour that contrasted with the dark chocolate flawlessly. In short, it’s a well made good looking bar.
Obviously though “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, as my mum always says. I broke myself a chunk off and the chocolate snapped really well with a nice firm click sound. The taste was different to what I was expecting, I thought it would be quite an intense bar, but it was actually quite mellow. The chocolate was full flavoured, but not overly sweet or bitter, just a good mix of dark cocoa and a light sweet aftertaste. The centre was a fragrant raspberry, but again it wasn’t sharp or overpowering. The fruit and dark chocolate mixed together in a delicate way, that made you appreciate all the ingredients fully. The chocolate was firm but the filling soft and so the textures contrasted one another too. The bar has definitely been designed with the mature palate in mind, and its tantalising flavours just interacting with each other perfectly. I loved this bar, it makes you savour every mouthful.
By cinabar

14 September 2012

Profanity Stout [By @SpectreUK]

Profanity Stout was micro-brewed by Williams Brothers Brewing Company in Alloa, Scotland. The recipe for this beer first came from two students, Peter and Craig, on a brewing course at Heriot Watt University, in Edinburgh. Williams Brothers decided to brew the beer for their “Chapeau” series (meaning “mark of dignity”, rather than “hat”) to celebrate amateur brewers. Served in a 330ml bottle at 7% volume, its ingredients included malted barley, wheat, oats, hops, yeast, and contained gluten. The label had stated that this beer had an “intensely fruity hoppy aroma”, and I definitely agreed with that statement on opening this beer. I could understand where the name “Profanity Stout” came from; almost black in colour, this beer had a bitey fruitiness that snapped at, rather than tickled the tastebuds. The fruity hops merged perfectly with the malted barley and bitterness from the rich coffee. I could certainly feel the strength of this feisty beer, giving my reckless tastebuds a punch with every brutish moreish mouthful. If you want an aggressive beer with attitude, I swear (pun intended) this beer is for you. It certainly woke me up after a long day at the office!
By Spectre

13 September 2012

CIRIO - Passata Rustica crushed tomatoes [By @NLi10]

I'll admit. This is a strange one to be reviewing. Occasionally we get companies ask if they can send us things and if one of us likes the sound of it then we say yes. I heard the phrase Italian Food and couldn't say yes fast enough and got sent this.

On the left we have pizza base topping which I had to leave for another day due to a lack of pizza bases to put it on. On the right we have passata which I have now found out is just crushed tomatoes. This surprised me - I'd figured that it would be more complex than just taking good quality tomatoes and skinning and crushing them, but I'm sure it is as this is very good quality stuff.

So good infact that I decided to break out some of the deluxe pasta that I had (OK - it's not the nice bronze extruded stuff in the yellow packs, but it's good for supermarket own brand!). And then I found out a touch of herbs to add to the mix.

And some of the best sun-dried tomatoes that I've found over the years (they keep for ages too!). I heated up the passata...

and added the pasta and cheese for the veggie option and chopped herta frankfurters for the carnivore option (no Italian deli meats left in the fridge).

It looks pretty good in the Ikea pasta bowls. It tasted a bit different to how I'd thought. The tomato flavour was naturally sweet, and I could have added a few more shakes of the oregano/Schwarz Italian herb mix in and still not overpowered it. It had a lot fresher flavour than I expected for something out of a jar, and I can see why this stuff has a reputation for being a good quality ingredient.

I think I probably didn't do it justice as I couldn't find a recipe that didn't presume I was making the passata too (I know - Google harder) but I do like kitchen experimentation and think that I'll find out the dried chillies and Italian sausage and make a good Arrabbiata next. Yum.
By NLi10

12 September 2012

Freshers Hellishly Hot Pork Crunch (ASDA) [By @SpectreUK]

This seasoned fried pork rind by Freshers, in Wigan was packaged in a flaming hot 30g bag, which initially caught my eye in the local supermarket. Each 100g has 502 calories, with 26g fat, and a “trace” of sugar. Ingredients included pork rind (of course…), curry powder, spices, red pepper, garlic, dextrose, and sunflower oil, also containing soya and traces of gluten. There was a spicy pork smell on opening the packet. There was a good hearty crunch to the light fluffy Pork Crunches, with a pork curry type taste. There was a bit of a disappointing medium to hot chilli heat to start with, which tingled pleasurably on my tongue, but this heat rapidly built up as I munched and crunched my way through the bag. After about half the bag the chilli heat became pretty uncomfortable, but the good thing about these Pork Crunches was that they kept their full delicious pork and chilli flavour rather than just an uncomfortable red raw burn on the tongue. I really enjoyed these Pork Crunches and would have them again. I don’t know about “Hellishly Hot”, but I certainly had a little devil on my shoulder once I’d finished the bag telling me I should eat some more!
By Spectre

11 September 2012

Oishi Pillows -Chocolate Filled (Day In Supermarket, Birmingham) [By @cinabar]

When Spectre first bought his bag of ‘pillows’ back I have to say I did think this was in fact some sort of breakfast cereal. It took me a minute to realise that it was actually an imported snack for munching, without milk. The bag claims to be party sized, so is meant to be poured into a bowl and shared.
I opened up the bag, and visually these still looked like breakfast cereal to me. They are a wheat based pillow shape filled with a gooey chocolate centre. If I was having a party I am sure that people would look oddly at these, and assume I ran out of proper snack and resorted to breakfast cereal in a bowl to share. Or they may just add milk and take the bowl! It’s just such an obvious association to make when you look at them.
Having said that, I have been known to munch cereal without milk, so perhaps they are on to something? Opening the bag and having a look at the contents, made me even more convinced that these are some sort of breakfast cereal. I bit in, and discovered that the wheat coating crunched and melted pleasantly away, and then the rich chocolaty centre took over the flavour. It was light but sweet and delivered a very pleasant chocolate hit. I found myself immediately reaching for another, and another. They may look like cereal, and they may even taste a lot like cereal but they seem to have successfully hit moreish on the head.
Although these may look a bit odd in a bowl at a party, one thing is for sure once people try them, they really won’t last very long at all!
By Cinabar

10 September 2012

Cadbury – A Bag Full of Pretzels (WH Smiths) [By @Cinabar]

Oh my word. There are just so many lovely new chocolate products on the shelves at the minute it is hard to know where to start! How could anyone resist the wonders of chocolate coated pretzels. Way back in the 1990s there used to be a fab product called Flipz, which were pretzels dipped in a variety of chocolate coatings. They had a bit of a cult following over here in the UK but were sadly discontinued. The only place they could be found was the import shop, as they are still made in the USA.
At the minute the UK chocolate and salt is proving to be the in thing so these should be a sure hit. I opened up the grab bag, and had a look at the pretzels they are fairly small knots of pretzel biscuit, all neatly coated in Cadbury’s milk chocolate. I gave one a taste and was very impressed. The distinct taste of the pretzel base shone through, and delivered a satisfying crispy crunch. The chocolate was sweet and milky, and the salt from the pretzel just made the whole thing sing. It was fab. I have to say when it comes to salt and chocolate, a lot of the posher chocolate bars are for savouring not scoffing and the moreishness of the salt is lost. That is not the case with these pretzels, the combination is spot on. The salt adds a magic ingredient to the flavour, and it varies as you munch from salty to plain and I just loved that. They totally tantalise the taste buds, the flavour is just so playful. I think these are going to be a total hit for Cadbury, and it’s nice to see something a bit different on UK shelves.
By Cinabar

9 September 2012

Coco Orange Shreddies (Asda) by @NLi10

Ah - good old Limited Edition.  Adding Orange sure is a popular thing to do these days, and it tweaks the ordinary product just enough to make it special.  Normal Shreddies could be considered quite boring by non-cereal enthusiasts and I remember in my youth discovering the chocolate Shreddie and being overjoyed at how nice they were.  This is a little different - it's a special version of a special version.

I'm sure that a glass of orange juice in the morning is a very good idea.  You start the day refreshed and full of vitamin C and can bounce out of the house to work.  Similarly Shreddies are full of malt, whole grain & fibre and all the other things the TV says are good for you, but also in this case chocolate so that you actually get around to eating it.  I'm not sure the two mix.  I like chocolate orange, and I like chocolate shreddies but orange flavoured cereal is a bit odd.  I think that it's the milk & the citrus that kind of clashes, or maybe the hint of malt, or maybe just that oranges shouldn't have this texture!

I'll finish the box of these because they certainly aren't bad, but they are a big box of confusion for me.  I spend most of the time while I'm eating them trying to decide what it is that is so wrong.  I guess that Orange Shreddies with no chocolate wouldn't work either which is where the whole triangle of tastes falls over.  It has reminded me how much I love chocolate shreddies so I may have to get those on the next shop...

8 September 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding Flavoured Milk (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

I’m certainly one for liquid puddings such as chocolate milk shakes, chocolate flavoured milk and of course chocolate beer. Therefore this Sticky Toffee Pudding flavoured milk sounded right up my street. In a 200ml serving there was 155 calories, with 26.4g of sugar and 2g of fat. There were no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives in the ingredients, which included; milk, sugar, buttermilk, glucose syrup, and cane molasses. The milk had been high temperature pasteurized to kill off any germs for longer lasting freshness. For entertainment there was a maze and a word search puzzle on the side of the carton, which I had fun with. There were also some fun facts about cows in bullet points. Apparently on average cows sit down and stand up fourteen times a day, can drink a bathtub of water and eat 25kg of food a day, and also have 32 teeth! So there you go, sharing the knowledge… There was a glorious creamy toffee smell on opening the 1 litre carton. The thick beige liquid poured most agreeably into a tall glass. The Sticky Toffee Pudding flavoured milk tasted like liquid sticky toffee pudding but with lashings of additional overindulgent cream. Drinking this flavoured milk was like drinking liquid heaven, and that’s not an exaggeration! The pleasure alarm in my head broke, fell off and drown whilst I savoured each lip smacking mouthful. The carton didn’t last long, and I shall have to buy another as soon as possible. I recommend you do the same, but not from my local store, as I need all I can find!
By Spectre

7 September 2012

NEW Kit Kat Cookies and Cream UK Edition (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

There is a new UK Kit Kat flavour!! It’s not often we are treated to new British Kit Kats, so I was naturally quite excited! Now just to clarify this shouldn’t be mixed up with the import Chunkie Cookies and Cream, as this is quite a different bar from that.
This new Kit Kat comes in a multiple pack of eight bars, each with two fingers. If you are calorie counting you will be pleased to hear that each serving has just 107 calories, which make it a very acceptable treat.
The Kit Kat fingers in this bar are very pretty. The lower half of them is milk chocolate, but the top of the bar is white, and adds the cookies and cream flavour. I’m afraid if you were expecting a cookie base in the Kit Kat, you’ll be disappointed. The Kit Kat contains the usual wafer within it, and the cookies aspect comes purely from the flavour of the coating.
These new Kit Kat bars are sweet, very sweet in fact. The cookies and cream flavour add an extra buttery, biscuit and sweetness to the Kit Kat fingers, which are already packing the usually sweet milk chocolate and wafer. I like the baked taste of biscuits that was incorporated into the bar, but the richness of the flavour meant that the two stick serving was just enough. I had mine with a cup of coffee which helped to contrast the taste. I liked these Kit Kats as they were something a bit different. The flavour is good as it mixes a biscuit taste with a wafer finish. I love the look of them too, the two tone bar looks rather impressive. They also managed to perfectly fend off an afternoon chocolate craving, without being too high in calories. So all in all these get a thumbs up from me. I should say as a disclaimer though that I do have a remarkably sweet tooth! ;-)
By Cinabar

6 September 2012

Bahlsen Choco Sticks (Sainsbury's)

As mentioned we are at the Paralympics at the moment with our little friend Mandeville. To prevent money loss due to overpriced food (which has all been very nice, but still steep) we took snack food in with us.

I decided that I liked Bahlsen stuff enough to try these biscuits out. They are essentially half chocolate biscuits enabling warm weather choc snacking. They do melt together in the pack, which is inconvenient but not a deal-breaker.

On eating they feel like a biscuit variant of Pocky's bread sticks, two distinct experiences combined. The choc is nice, not dark and not quite milky. The biscuit is superb and packs of 6 don't stay open long.

While their fragile, melts nature doesn't suit them to most summer trips I did enjoy them and will recommend them for a variety. More exciting flavours to match their other biscuits would be fun too.

5 September 2012

Itsu – Wasabi Peas (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

Made by Metcalfe’s Food Company, in London, these Itsu Wasabi Peas have a nice medium wasabi burn to start with that increased into a very nose runny and tongue tingling heat after every consecutive mouthful of peas. Whereas generally when I have a dollop of wasabi on sushi I get used to the burn pretty quickly after a few mouthfuls, it took ages for me to get used to the wasabi burn of these dried green peas. The 35g serving size suggestion at 122 calories, with 2.3g sugar and 2.3g of fat was about right, as the peas started off nice and mouth-watering, but after about 60g seemed to dry my mouth out a bit. So I’d recommend you eat half the pack at a time or share with friends to torture them with the shear wasabi heat of these peas. Also in the Itsu range there is Chocolate Edamame (er... or chocolate beans), Popcorn, Rice Cakes, Rice Pipes, Seaweed Thins and Vitamin Waters. Cinabar has the Chocolate Edamame, so I’m sure there’ll be a review on those soon!
By Spectre

4 September 2012

Angel Delight Ice Cream – Butterscotch Edition (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

I love Angel Delight. On the off chance you haven’t heard of it, it’s an instant whip dessert, you add milk, whisk and pop it in the fridge and then you have mousse. I remember the stuff from my childhood, and still have it as a treat now as a quick pudding. It fills me with nostalgia. Although they have created limited edition whips in the past (anyone remember popcorn flavour or even blackcurrant?) this new product is a whole new market for them.
This is almost instant ice cream. I’m not going to say it is ‘instant’ because you do need to leave it in the freezer for at least four hours, but it is certainly a heck of a lot easier than other methodologies. There is no need for an ice cream maker, no need to remove the ice cream from the freezer at regular intervals to re-mix, just a simple set of instructions. Add milk to a bowl, add the Angel Delight ice cream powder and whisk (with an electric whisk) for five minutes. It emphasises the need to use an electric whisk to make sure you get the right texture at the end. The mixture doubles in size in the bowl as you whip it up so that helps to tell you when it’s ready too. At this point you stir in any extra ingredients or flavourings or sauces you fancy. I had a packet of ice cream sprinkles in the cupboard, which had two ingredients I thought would mix in nicely, mini fudge pieces and cinder toffee pieces. I emptied both of these sprinkles into the bowl and gave it a good stir to make sure they were evenly distributed. I choose not to add any sauce as the base flavour of this ice cream is butterscotch, and I wanted to experience that without any other distractions. Then that’s it, all you do is pour the mixture into a suitable freezer safe container and wait four hours for it to become ice cream. Then all that’s left to do is to eat it.

The final ice cream wasn’t a soft scoop, so I left it a few minutes before scooping it out of the container. It was a rich caramel in colour, and the extra bits I’ve added looked quite smart scattered inside the dessert.
I have to say I was totally impressed by the taste of the ice cream. The butterscotch base flavour was lovely and rich, and full of brown sugary goodness. If you like the regular Angel Delight in butterscotch you won’t be disappointed! Most impressive though was the texture of the ice cream. It was absolutely perfect. It was thick, but soft and creamy and it melted wonderfully on the tongue. I have to say the texture and flavour tasted like proper shop bought ice cream. With the addition of some creative toppings this could easily be up there with Ben and Jerry’s, but it’s even more fun to do it yourself. Think crumbled Oreos in or caramel sauce drizzled throughout, or crushed up Crunchie bar pieces. The possibilities are endless! Wow!
The Angel Delight reviewed was for the Butterscotch version, but I have also purchased a sachet of their other flavour Vanilla. My dad is a keen beekeeper, and as such I do have plenty of honey to hand. I think I will mix the next Angel Delight Vanilla Ice Cream up rippled through with runny honey! I just love that making ice cream has become so simple, and am looking forward to experimenting with some different flavours. This could be product of the year for me!
By Cinabar

3 September 2012

[Limited Edition] Mars Caramel (Boots) [By @Cinabar]

So you are probably thinking that Mars bars already have caramel in them, so why would they make a limited edition caramel version? Before I answer that, I need to tell you about the American bar Milkyway Caramel.

In the USA, Mars and Milkyway are the opposite way round, so what we call a Mars they call a Milkyway. Their Milkyway Caramel has no nougat, but does have double the amount of caramel, hence the name. I know this bar well as it is Spectre’s favourite chocolate bar and if I tell him I’m going to the import store, this is what he asks for. Double thick caramel coated in chocolate, a proper treat.
Obviously then, when I heard about the new UK Limited Edition Mars Caramel, I thought I knew what was coming. So to answer my original question, I thought they were making a ‘caramel version’ because it would have double the caramel and no nougat. As it turns out I was wrong. This bar is just the thin topping of caramel, with a chocolate coat. There is no extra caramel, it’s just a slim looking disappointing bar. I guess they either named it Limited Edition Mars Caramel or they called it Limited Edition Mars No Nougat, and the first option sounded more catchy!
Oh well, onto the more positive side, the Mars chocolate and caramel are indeed very tasty. The caramel consistency is thick and gooey, and it oozes flavour. It’s sticky in the mouth but delivers a flavour with hints of toffee and Demerara sugar. The Mars chocolate is the same that you would expect in the normal bar, even to the point that it is thicker on the top. It adds a nice chocolate goodness to the overall bar, with lots of nice sweet creamy cocoa flavour. I honestly can’t say I didn’t enjoy the bar, but I did feel a bit short changed. This bar was selling for the same price as the normal Mars in my branch of Boots. For the money all I could think was; seriously, where is the rest of my bar?
By Cinabar

2 September 2012

Godis Gula Snoren (toffee flavour laces) (IKEA FOOD) by @NLi10

Mandeville and I are at the Paralympics today and how better to survive the crowds and prices than to bring your own snack food. Before we go in to see the GoalBall (a sport that is played blindfolded so requires crowd silence) I thought I'd share a few words on one of them.

My partner gave me a couple of things from Ikea's food section after a recent visit. I tend to avoid Ikea due to the crowds and the perfectly valid online store, but miss out on little treats like this. Candy laces are usually fruit flavoured but this version is toffee flavour.

The packet is an effort to get into and doing so unleashes a powerful toffee smell which put off a few people and was much stronger and sweeter than I'd expected. The laces are not as chewy as I'd expected and are nicely dry. The flavour is pretty much toffee apple toffee and not as sweet (or as chewy) as my brain expected. There seem a lot in the package and I think I'll need a drink to make it to the end in one siting and will so have to keep them for more days.

As a pick me up they are a nice addition to the bag, they will be smelly for a few people but sure I can offer them a lace to share in the Paralympic spirit.

1 September 2012

Soursop Juice [By SpectreUK]

This still Soursop Juice drink was manufactured by Pokka, in Malaysia. In my ignorance I’ve never heard of Soursop, so I checked on the taste of it before opening the can, as just by the name it sounded sour! My usual information source (Wikipedia) told me that Soursop tasted like; “strawberry, pineapple, with sour citrus flavour and an underlying creamy flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana”. There was an image of a green furry fruit on the front of the 300ml can, and the nutritional information on the back stated that there was 148 calories, 36g of sugar, and 44mg Vitamin C. The juice drink’s ingredients included; water, sucrose, soursop juice, citric acid and ascorbic acid. On opening the can, the smell reminded me of flat Lilt. The juice drink also tasted sweet and tropical. I picked up hints of pineapple and the creaminess of a flavour something like coconut and fortunately not like banana (as regular readers will know that I hate the flavour of banana in drinks). The print on the front of the can stated; “Good and refreshing” and it definitely was, but health research warns against over consumption of this fruit, as it could cause Parkinson’s Disease – tests continue on that one! Cinabar wouldn’t drink any stating that it was a “toxic fruit drink”, so I drank the lot and it was very nice indeed, but I don’t think I’ll go back for more as I’ll stick to the less risky Lilt!
By Spectre