30 November 2012

Lindt Advent Calendar 2012 [By @cinabar]

May I be the first to point out that advent calendars are not just for kids! For me they mark the beginning of Christmas, I for one grew up with an advent calendar and I’m not willing to give up the tradition now I’m a bit older. I still have my sweet tooth and my love of Christmas. Thankfully though there are a number of companies that have created some beautiful calendars which fit perfectly for a more grown up audience. This fine advent calendar is from Lindt and forms part of their Christmas chocolate range.
It is a lovely looking calendar, with its smart Christmas scene. I love how they’ve used the traditional Lindt characters to recreate the image of Father Christmas and his reindeer; it’s such a sweet idea! This imagery also hints at what is hidden behind each window. Contained within them are traditional favourites in a miniature form, from the milk chocolate reindeer, milk chocolate blocks to even the famous Lindt Lindor truffle balls, albeit a little bit smaller. It’s fair to say the chocolates are just a bit special. There is also a large milk chocolate Father Christmas set aside for the special day! Every day brings a good quality luxury little chocolate treat, and combats the myth that you can’t have quality in an advent calendar. This is guaranteed to make you smile every morning.
Advent calendar done, next job is putting up the Christmas tree! So tell me I’m not the only adult with an advent calendar? Which one have you got for the big countdown?
By Cinabar

29 November 2012

Christmas at Cadbury World [by @NLi10 and his elves]

It's not often you get invited to Cadbury World.  It's only up the road from me (I can get a direct bus there which takes about 25 mins) which is why it's probably quite shocking that the last time I went was about 22 years ago - on the day it officially opened.  We had to stoop under the big ribbon to get in, we got one spicy choc drink, and a single cube of chocolate upon entering the factory!!  How times of changed - there is now a ride, free chocolate in pretty much all sections, several themed areas and at the moment a pantomime and a Christmas Grotto!  I've focused here on the 'boring bits' and left the more exciting attraction sections to the two teenagers that I borrowed & dragged along with me on the promise of Chocolaty goodness.  Naturally like most teenagers these will be added later as I get them (grumble grumble homework grumble).

You'd never guess the wonderment inside from this brutalist exterior.  Personally I quite like it.  I think Dahl was probably inspired by the crazy juxtaposition of the functional exteriors that the factories had for all the wonderment and gadgetry inside.  Chocolate that is practically build by robots is pretty cool to me.

Handmade stuff is good too.

You can even write the name of your blog in chocolate! At least that's what I think they intended.  At the bottom is one of the many molten pots of chocolate that you get on the wander around the entertainments.  I do wish we still got the Aztec gold one though.  Ah well.

You also get an assortment of chocolate bars depending on what is being manufactured that day.  If you are lucky and not with teenagers you may get to keep them too...  Or you could just buy extras.

The sign says World's Largest Cadbury Shop and it really isn't kidding.  This is half of the Dairy Milk section.  I'm local and know the score so bought MisShapes (half the price per g of Dairy Milk and essentially all the bits off the production line that go wrong.  We got solid chocolate Cadbury Heroes which is the lottery win of MisShapes bags. Mmmm)

And yes - there is the Christmas theme throughout at the moment.  First up there is a pantomime! (oh no there isn't - oh yes there is etc...)

I'd presumed that it would be factory staff doing their best to entertain, but I think it must have been a small professional troupe of actors.  Yes - you'll know all the gags and lines, but it's more for the kids. We got sat at the front which made it even funnier as Ms. NLi10 and the two borrowed teenage minions did their best to pretend to not be with me as I joined in the chants, boos and cheers.  If you don't think your kids would sit through a 2 hour panto then this 30 min one is well worth it and should keep their attention.

But they will be far more excited by the Grotto...

Avoiding spoilers here, partially to preserve the magic of Christmas and partially as 16 year old boys really don't want to sit on Santa's knee (probably due to a naughty/nice imbalance...), I shall gloss over most of the details.  Suffice to say it's surprisingly authentic considering it's essentially in a big tent, and the queue was department store sized at all times due to it's magical attraction.  The present given out at the end had children of all ages with massive smiles - probably the most luxurious thing I've seen given out at one of these since the old Lewis's Grottos with their promise of the latest Disney Ladybird books when I was 7 (or so).  We just snuck in and took a few pictures.

Is Cadbury World worth a visit? If you are reading this blog then probably for the shop alone! Now I know that you can just walk into it and buy things without going into the attraction I may be stocking up.  Shame they don't do all the international varieties that CyberCandy etc. do - I feel they are missing a trick.  I did pick up some new things to review next week though. The attraction itself is an odd one.  There are things for all ages, but the bits between those may bore children too old and too young.  If you are cunning and select those bits you want the most then there will be less sulks - I guess save the chocolate for those bits!  The Christmas magic is really in effect at the moment, but it was sold out until late the day we got there so book online unless you want a car full of tears and a rush to find a replacement Santa.

Teenage review links when available.

28 November 2012

Ko-Lee Bombay Masala (ASDA) [By @SpectreUK]

I have tried the Ko-Lee Thai Hot and Spicy Tom Yum flavour before and enjoyed it. This Bombay Masala flavour was also manufactured by Kohlico, in China, and had the same packaging of a cardboard carton and plastic lid. There was a plastic fork in the pot on top of the stringy chunk of solid noodles and sachet of sauce mix, but I always plump for a metal fork with pot noodles, as the plastic forks always bend into amusing shapes in the hot soup. The 65g pot had 236 calories, with 11.37g fat, and 1.35g sugar. Ingredients in the soup mix included; chilli powder, tomato, garlic, chives, sweet corn, peas, and carrots. Allergy advice on the carton stated that there was soya, wheat, and gluten in this noodle pot. Once I’d added freshly boiled water, the solid noodles instantly softened and merged easily together with the soup mix after little stirring. I replaced the plastic top and left the pot to cool for a while. After a few minutes I dumped the top into recycling and took in the lovely masala curry smell from the noodle soup. On tasting there was a good medium to hot curry spice to this soup. The stringy noodles had filled the pot soaking up much of the liquid, with plenty of bits of carrots, chives, sweet corn and peas mixed in. I found this Bombay Masala flavour very tasty indeed and would have this again. It’s perfect for a late night snack or an accompaniment with a lunchtime sandwich.
By Spectre

27 November 2012

New: Horlicks Cappuccino [By @cinabar]

I have to say I was a little bit taken aback by the concept of this drink. I’ve had coffee flavoured hot chocolate many times and I like the odd mocha, but this still seemed such a strange concept. This drink combines coffee and Horlicks and creates a cappuccino made up of the two ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the coffee used was decaf, so this could easily be a bedtime cuppa, as per Horlicks tradition. Also each cup only has 77 calories, so there isn’t too much guilt there either.
Inside the box were six slim sachets, I added the first one to the mug. The mix of white powder, with dark coffee granules mixed up easily and dissolved really well under the boiling water. A nice bubbly froth appeared too on top of the drink, but it wasn’t as thick as some of the instant cappuccinos on the market.
I took a sip, and couldn’t quite make my mind up on the drink. There were nice dark coffee tones, and the smooth malty edge working its way in the background. The more I drank the more the drink grew on me, and by the end of the cup I was completely converted. Yes it is a bit of an odd combination, but it turns out the flavours complement one another. The coffee is dark, and the Horlicks flavour adds a creaminess to the whole drink and creates lovely wholesome taste.
I love that this drink is decaf, as it does make a tasty drink while watching the TV before bed. It is something just a bit different, but still soothing and relaxing while trying to claim the last hour of the evening on a work night.
By Cinabar

26 November 2012

Dairy Milk – Marvellous Creations: Jelly, Popping Candy and Beanies (@CyberCandyLTD) [By @Cinabar]

This amazing new bar caught my eye in Cybercandy, and is a new Australian creation. I wish I could tell you that it would be hitting UK shelves shortly but sadly this bar is only available down under at the minute.
This bar is trying to pack something a bit special into Dairy Milk, as mixed within the chocolate are colourful candy coated chocolate beans, jelly sweets and my favourite popping candy. I loved the look of the pieces too, they are nicely shaped and each has a different pretty moulding on the top. When you break off the first chunk you can soon see what lays inside with strawberry jellies and coloured candy shell pocking through, you can’t help but smile. I have discovered through writing this blog that one of the things I love is diverse texture, so as you can imagine this bar is perfect for me! There are crunchy bits, chewy bits and a tingling serving of popping candy to set it all off! The chocolate flavour was just like British Dairy Milk, creamy sweet and rather soothing, and all the extras just made it a little sweeter and I loved it.
The mix in textures, the popping candy and the fruit jellies just made this bar so enjoyable. It felt special, and took me back to my childhood. It’s such a fun bar, and its one I'm going to stock up on. If you are looking for some stocking fillers for Christmas, this bar would be the perfect treat too. Any recipients will be desperate to know where you got such a crazy bar of Dairy Milk!
By Cinabar

25 November 2012

Coldpress - Granny Smith apple (Waitrose) [by @NLi10]

There are a lot of apple juice drinks, but few specify the variety of apple. As this drink did and Granny Smith is by far my favourite (it's the green one with the strong flavour) I figured it was worth a shot.

The gimmick of this one is that it is uncooked, and only pressure is used to remove all the micro organisms that cause problems. This ties in to the raw food craze from a little while back, but also has resulted in a clear, crisp flavour. This is another example of foods that use an unusual method of preparation to give a slightly different effect.  While the bottle seems small this wasn't particularly expensive and is actually a very refreshing little juice drink.

It actually tastes of Granny Smith apples, and when we live in a world of Golden Delicious flavoured things is rather nice. This would be a pleasure to drink again and something I'd try to find in a larger size.

24 November 2012

Turkey Stuffing and Cranberry Crisps (Marks & Spencer) [By @cinabar]

Is it too early for this post? It is just that there is air of Christmas about the place. It’s almost time for Advent Calendars, I’ve seen the Coca-Cola advert, shopping centres have their decorations up… so I thought I’d tempt the water with a Christmas related blog!
This fine new seasonal flavour is from Marks & Spencer and clearly intends to attempt to recreate the traditional seasonal dinner. I was pleased to see that this new variety is made from 100% natural ingredients, and is aiming itself as a luxury snack.
I opened up the bag and the crisps smelt quite meaty, with some good hints of stuffing aroma like sage and onion. The texture of the crisps was decent and what I would call just about right, i.e. thick, but not sharp. Some of the posher crisps can make the mistake of slicing the potatoes too thickly and then they feel a bit awkward to eat.
The flavour was tasty, but not what I had hoped for. They were nice, but didn’t have the detail from the ingredients that I had been hoping for. They were meaty, but mainly salty and had a very pleasant herby aftertaste. I have to confess the sweetness of the cranberry was a bit lost to me. I think there was a tiny bit of fruitiness in the aftertaste but it was very mild, and didn’t quite feel like the “full on flavour” promised on the front of the packet.
Don’t get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed these crisps, and if you served them when guests are over they will all get eaten up no problem at all. It’s just they are lacking that little bit of extra special magic that I had hoped for.
Not to worry though, I don’t think these are going to be the only turkey dinner style crisps that appear on the shelves this year, and I’ll be keeping my eye out for some others to taste test.
By cinabar

23 November 2012

Alba Scots Pine Ale (@TebayServices Westmorland Service Station) [By @SpectreUK]

Pine and spruce ales were first introduced to Scotland by the Vikings, and have always been popular in the Scottish Highlands since then and right up until the late 19th Century. Spruce ale was used on sea voyages as it helped to prevent ill health in sailors, such as scurvy. Shetland spruce ale was said to have been used as an aphrodisiac and was believed to give you twins, so I’m not sure I’ll drink too much of this ale! Apparently, “Alba” is Gaelic for Scotland. Amber to brown in colour this 7.5% volume was served in a 330ml bottle and brewed by Williams Brothers Brewing Company, in Alloa, Scotland. The ale’s ingredients included; malted barley bree, Scots pine and spruce sprigs. Spruce and pine are picked between April and May every year. In the brewing stages, malted barley is first mixed with sprigs of pine and boiled for several hours. Then shoots of spruce are added for a short infusion before being left to ferment.

No wonder this ale won the World Gold Medal 1998. Alba was certainly strong, with a nearly liquor like sweet smell. There was a rich hardy hoppy bitter almost liquorish and spirit kick to start with that moved to a rich malt which then smoothed out to a floral woody sap like sweetness that travelled through to the aftertaste. This ale was very strong indeed, very pleasant to drink and very warming. No wonder it’s popular in the Highlands with its tough hardy landscape, strapping folk and cold damp weather. I reckon this ale is best enjoyed on its own, possibly on top of a frozen windswept mountain somewhere in Scotland surrounded by ice and snow. In fact mountaineers should have this ale in their beer-hats... Do mountaineers wear beer-hats? If they don’t, they should... and I certainly recommend they drag a barrel of this ale behind them as they climb!
By Spectre

22 November 2012

Cadbury Dairy Milk Snack (Australia!) [by @NLi10]

Cadbury Dairy Milk Snack (Australia!) [by @NLi10]

Occasionally I get a snack related present that is so nice that I struggle to justify eating it.  It gets squirrelled away and kept for when the bit of my brain that most likes that kind of thing is activated.  I think I got this for a Christmas, or maybe a birthday.  Eitherway I took it to work, hid it from the circling vultures and waited.

One cold evening this week I decided that I actually fancied chocolate and had a few cubes.  In fact I had all 6 flavours!

When you rip the little box open and expose the choc inside you find that there are pretty patterns on the cubes that identify the flavours.  They are Coconut Ice, Turkish Delight, Strawberry, Caramel, Orange & Pineapple!

I'm sure that a few of these are part of the Cadbury/Fry range, but these are a bit unusual.  It's like having a soft centred selection from Cadbury's Roses as a whole chocolate bar! It's absolutely amazing for sharing too and generates a lot of conversation.  The middles are quite gooey, but vary in texture with the Ice at the top being the most solid and the Pineapple at the bottom being the gooiest.

The Coconut ice is a disappointing Bounty, not as sweet and not as textured.  Nice enough.

The Turkish Delight was nice - I find the big bars overpowering but bravely tried this and quite liked it.

The strawberry was a bit solid, but tasted right and was eddible.

The Caramel was like a Cadbury's Caramel in miniature and I enjoyed this more than the big bars which again I find sickly.

The Orange was similar to the Strawberry in that it was firmer than I'd expected (maybe I should have got around to eating the bar faster!) but was generally nice too.

The Pineapple was gooey, and flavoursome and probably the most novel experience to be had here.  Again I think a full bar would be sickening, but as a bit size chunk I adored it.

If this was a UK release I'd happily grab them as Christmas presents.  It has novelty, variety and requires a good amount of discussion to figure out who wants what.  If you live in Australia (where this bar is from) then maybe you know whether this was a special edition or a regular thing.  Hope we get a UK version!


Edit: Ha - CyberCandy UK still have these in stock.  May have to pop in...

21 November 2012

Peeps- Caramel Chicks (USA via @CyberCandyLTD) [By @cinabar]

These cute looking Peeps are American in origin and are a brand of sweet that are incredibly popular over there, particularly at Easter. I have to confess though these are my first ever try at Peeps, and obviously I picked up the pack that said ‘new’ on them. I got these from that Aladdin’s cave of sweets known at CyberCandy in Birmingham. It’s one of my favourite places on the planet, full of import goodness. I also picked up a more Christmassy box of Peeps to try and to write about in a couple of week’s time. ;-)
Peeps are effectively shaped and sometimes flavoured marshmallows, sold in presentation boxes, they range from chocolate coated raspberry hearts at Valentines through to Peppermint flavour stars at Christmas.
When I picked up this pack I did actually think these were Thanksgiving turkeys, as the pack looked seasonal with the snowflakes, so I thought I could coincide this post with American Thanksgiving. As it happens I think ‘chicks’ might just be there staple shape, so now I’m not so sure! Either way I decided to tuck in.
The marshmallows are light brown in colour to reflect their caramel flavour (and to make them look even more turkey like). They have a light dusting of sugar on the surface, and the base and eyes are milk chocolate.
The marshmallow is soft and squishy and wonderfully butterscotch flavoured throughout. The caramel taste was definitely richer than expected and did remind me of butterscotch Angel Delight – which is full of brown sugary goodness. The milk chocolate base and features just add a nice bit of choccy taste and do make these look very presentable as a gift. I now can’t wait to try the Christmas edition’s I picked up, and am totally hooked on Peeps. I just don’t think we have a UK equivalent? In Britain marshmallows seem to come in very unimaginative shapes compared to these, but if you know otherwise do let me know.
And to finish up – we just wanted to wish all my American readers Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays! :-)
By Cinabar

20 November 2012

Moustache Elixir (@MovemberUK @CyberCandyLTD) [By @SpectreUK]

There was an old fashioned feel from the label on the 250ml can, harkening back to the old days when you could buy an elixir for any ailment or desire. Clearly the desire from this elixir would be to grow a fabulous moustache, and what better time to drink it but Movember? The time of year that harkens back to a time where men were men because they had strange furry growths under their noses. I’ve decided to partake in that particular growing festival this year by trying to grow the porn star moustache. I’m also growing my hair a little longer than usual to support the seventies/eighties look. I have already been likened to “the fat one out of Ashes to Ashes”, but hey what’s a little facial tickling and loss of kisses from Cinabar to the great cause of raising money for research against every man’s fears of testicular cancer and prostate cancer? Already two members from the group I joined have given up the fight! Shame, however I shall endeavour to grow my moustache to the end of the month, but certainly not beyond, as Cinabar has warned me that she won’t give me the sponsorship money unless I shave it off on December 1st.

There was a note on the side of the can that stated in no uncertain terms; “product not intended for children” asides big ones, like most men, I suppose? This Moustache Elixir was produced by Boston America Corporation, in Massachusetts. The elixir was 110 calories, with 0g of fat and 28g of sugar, with 70% vitamin B6 and 210% vitamin B12. I was at first concerned as to what affect this Elixir would have on me, as the ingredients sounded like they had been concocted by mad scientists in a laboratory deep underground somewhere out in a desert. I’ve probably seen too many horror films with weird brews changing people into half crazed monsters, especially the hairy variety of monster. Those crazy scientist’s beverages are usually blue or green in colour. The ingredients of this drink included carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium citrate, taurine, natural flavours, caffeine, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, inositol, guarana extract, ginseng extract, niacinamide, FD&C, blue number 1, d-calcium, pantothenate, red number 40, pyrodoxine HCL, and cyanocobalamin. This Moustache Elixir was a fizzy bright blue liquid. No scientist’s crazy steam drifted ominously from the opening in the top of the can, but there were quite a few blue bubbles. After a little hesitation and trying to ply it on Cinabar, who was far too concerned about growing facial hair to try it, I decided to take the plunge and have a sip. This fizzy blue drink had a decent full bodied raspberry flavour and was very tasty and not a bit laboratory flavoured. Whether this elixir has given my moustache revitalised energy to grow more, I don’t know if it’ll help, but as you can see from the photograph I could do with all the growing help I can muster. From the mad scientist’s laboratory sounding ingredients, it may just leave my furry friend glowing in the dark... and my moustache might glow in the dark too!
By Spectre

19 November 2012

ChokaBlok Big Dippers (Tesco @chokablokuk) [By @cinabar]

Well it’s finally happened, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Somehow we have found ourselves scrapping off ice from the car windscreen in a morning again, and are heading into Winter. I quite like Winter, I like the Christmas lights and I like the excuse to drink lashing of hot chocolate in an evening to warm up too. If you are going to have a hot chocolate you might as well make it a thoroughly indulgent one, which is why I thought I’d give this new product from ChokaBlok a try.
Inside each pack is a plastic spoon covered in a large block of ChokaBlok chocolate, designed for melting into a mug of milk, or as an extra to cocoa for an special treat!
The spoons look beautiful, all of them decorated fabulously and each one filled with nicely thought through ingredients. If you have friends over these do make the difference and transform a simple mug of hot chocolate into a very luxurious drink. They add so much taste, and flavour and my sweet tooth was lapping them up.

We had :

Extremist Big Dipper – This one had both milk and dark chocolate in the base, and fab bits of chocolate brownie that came to the surface of the drink. I loved the richness this one added.

Rocky Road – I have to confess this was my favourite of the bunch. The milk chocolate was biscuit flavoured, but there were mini marshmallows that surfaced and made the drink just perfect.

Gold Digga Dynamite – If you have a sweet tooth the added caramel from this one will just make you smile, as will the honeycomb pieces that decorate the top! It’s almost like adding caramel syrup, and it made me want to try this one with coffee.

Cookie Crumb Mon-Star – This is the white chocolate block, and it has cookies pieces and milk chocolate stars to mix in. It added a very creamy base to the drink, that was wonderful and soothing on a cold night.

I am definitely going to be stocking up on these for the Winter. I do often moan that I can’t get hot chocolate to taste strong or sweet enough for me, but these fab dippers totally nailed it.
By Cinabar

18 November 2012

Southern Comfort with Lime [by @NLi10]

A long time ago I was asked whether I'd prefer Sothern Comfort with Lime, or with Black Cherry.  After some deliberation (I'm practically tee total these days and really don't remember ever been that into whisky) I decided that I liked lime the most and remarked as such.  Then this appeared!

The reviewing of this had to wait a while, we had Halloween and fireworks (which I can still hear) to deal with.  Alcohol is more of a christmas thing anyway - one of the reasons I don't claim to be 100% teetotal is that I like to have the hot chocolate with spirits in at the Birmingham German market each year - so here we go. 

The bottle suggests that I try it with lemonade and on the rocks so this is what we shall do.  Also I'm going to try it with tonic, as frankly anything goes well with tonic.  I was advised that the traditional use of SoCo is with a cola, but I didn't have any and it wasn't mentioned on the bottle so I decided not to go out in the cold and fetch some.

First up I tried Fentimans Rose Lemonade with the Southern Comfort Lime.  This was amazing.  Any doubt that I had about the product vanished.  This was smooth, and fruity.  The flavours of the lemonade floated gently above the whisky and both complemented each other well.  While the bottle suggested I should be enjoying this with friends I was enjoying it while doing the washing up.  This felt slightly hedonistic and like I was rewarding myself for a hard day at work (in reality I read Jam in bed and played Dark Souls - it's Sunday after-all).  I could finish the bottle in this manner (at a party, the washing up is almost finished) with pleasure.

Next up was on the rocks.

As my fridge has an ice bit this was fairly straight-forwards but just wasn't that exciting.  The alcohol vapours were far to prominent in the flavour and by itself the Lime just didn't shine as much.  I drank it, but it was just a drink and surprisingly less exciting than the previous offering.  If someone had bought it for you then you wouldn't be upset, but you'd make a mental note to sneak the dash of lemonade on the top to wake it up.

Finally I went for the Fentimans tonic to see what happened.  This wasn't that great either.  All the flavour was in the base notes of the whisky and tonic so it came over as a little dull.  The flat taste meant that both the lime and the tonic were a bit masked and neither together were as nice as they were individually.  This was probably the worst of the three!  I think that the Schweps tonic is sweeter and fizzier that it may work better - we can try that in the future. If I tried all the options I'd be asleep, not typing...

I think that the fizz and the sweetness of cola would put it much closer to the lemonade and is something I intend to try (with friends).  Ice cold Rose Fentimans and this is frankly brilliant though, and my original plans to donate the rest to family Xmas parties may now not happen.  Maybe I do like whisky after-all!

17 November 2012

Maltesers Frothy Chocolate Flavour Milk [By @SpectreUK]

I’ve always loved Maltesers since I was a kid and tried to poach them from the box when they were shared out on special occasions like Christmas or Birthdays. This Maltesers Frothy Chocolate Flavour Milk was produced by Mars, in Ireland. It was served in a 215ml bottle; there were 166 calories per 100ml, with 1.6g of fat and 10.2g of sugar. This Maltesers chocolate milk drink was school friendly, which meant that it met government standards for England and Wales with 90% milk and no more than 5% of added sugar. Its ingredients included semi skimmed milk, wheat malt extract, sugar, barley malt extract, and cocoa powder amongst other things. The drink contained milk (obviously!) and gluten, and was suitable for vegetarians. The print on the label exclaimed “Shake me!” which produced a frothy creamy Maltesers flavour that definitely put the “malt” in Maltesers. I found this Maltesers Frothy Chocolate Flavour Milk very tasty indeed and refreshing after a hot bath before bed, and would certainly have it again.
By Spectre

16 November 2012

Cadbury Dairy Milk Toffee Popcorn [By @Cinabar]

We don’t get as many review samples as you might think here at Foodstuff Finds, so when we do get post we do all get rather excited! The other day, quite unannounced I received a parcel from Cadbury no less, containing two new bars of Dairy Milk. The box they came in is a bit special, and to be honest could only have come from Joyville. ;-) There are pictures at the bottom of the post, take a look and you will see what I mean!
As it happens I have already written about the Golden Biscuit Crunch bar, but the parcel did do a good job at reminding me that I am yet to write about this Toffee Popcorn version. To say that this bar contains popcorn would be a bit of an understatement. It is more a ton of popcorn shaped into a bar, and then sealed with lashings of Dairy Milk chocolate!!! It’s a seriously chunky bar. The bar still managed to break along the marked lines quite easily when I snapped a piece off.
The popcorn is light inside the chocolate, so it doesn’t feel too big, in fact its airy nature makes it very easy to munch on. The texture is a complete pleasure. I love how each piece feels different. You bite through the chocolate and it is soft but crunchy, then it just gives. It sort of melts away when you chew. Although there is tons of popcorn this doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of chocolate taste, because that is all there too. There is loads of creamy sweet tones, and plenty of cocoa – and it all blends perfectly with the popcorn and toffee flavour.
It is a seriously satisfying bar, and a total pleasure to eat. This is a great alternative to popcorn for a night in, ideal for munching on with a Friday night film.
By Cinabar

15 November 2012

Fortnum & Mason - Pink Macaron (by @NLi10)

I didn't go to Fortnum & Mason, but fortunately my partner did and brought back two spare pink Macaron!

Oh noe! The mice have eated them all!!

Well - actually I didn't think to take a picture before us humans nommed them but below is a picture of what the contents would have looked like.

The pink one at the bottom was what we both had.  Picture blatantly stolen from fellow food blog The Hungry Girl Chronicles who has also tried these.

I'm not sure whether a macaron (and that is the spelling they use!) is a cake or a biscuit really, but as it starts off soft I'm guessing it's a mini cake.  They are convenient and pretty little things though and as a quick google suggests there are many variations on the basic theme.

I wasn't expecting that much from such a small thing, and as my tastes are gravitating away from sweet things as I age I didn't know what to expect.  This was pleasantly surprising.  The mint of the creme was hinted at by my partner as she ate hers first, but still came as a shock.  Balanced with the softness of the outer and the coconut that lingered afterwards it all worked quite well.  I think a couple of these with a posh cup of tea would be 'delightful'.

At £1.25 each they are a little expensive, and the shelf life suggested to eat on day of purchase, but they were actually a nice little indulgence.  I'd have to at least try a few more of the colours to see if they tasted differently anyway.

14 November 2012

Gingerbread Cookies White Chocolate – Fusion Bar (@ArtisanChocolat @Selfridges) [By @cinabar]

I found this seasonal looking bar lying within the Artisan du Chocolat section of Selfridges. If you’ve not been, its really worth a wander as they always have some amazing treats on display. Although it isn’t quite Christmassy the flavouring in this bar is certainly seasonal for this time of year. The bar has a white chocolate base mixed with gingerbread cookie crumbs. The packet is decorated with gingerbread figures across the front and has a lovely bit of history about gingerbread on the back.
I opened up the pack and found a slightly darker than expected bar of white chocolate. There was clearly a lot of other ingredients mixed in giving the chocolate a nice looking golden colour. When I pealed back the inner packaging there wasn’t much aroma, which I found quite surprising, but it turns out this is quite a mild bar. Even after eating a cube, it definitely took a few seconds for any of the spicy flavour to shine through. When it did, the made its presence known by delivering a rich hint of cinnamon and good aftertaste of ginger. It worked really well with the white chocolate, the sweet creamy tones and the warming spices were a match made in heaven. I was rather pleased that this bar didn’t have a spice overload, and that the flavours were more equally teamed with the white chocolate.
What I mustn’t forget to mention is the texture. The bar has a white chocolate base, so is naturally softer than other chocolates, but this one still holds its own on the firmness. The gingerbread cookie crumbs are very small and well mixed in. There are so many of them they give the bar an amazing texture, you can feel them and they add the sensation of a tiny bit of crunch. The particles are small though, so this isn’t the same a crunch from a big biscuit piece, its subtle and I loved it.
The more I ate this bar the more it reminded me of a Caramac bar, it’s like it is the spiced version they never made. Its sweet, soothing and has plenty of gingerbread spices throughout without being overpowering. The texture is hard to describe, but spot on. I picked up this bar by chance, and to be honest I now can’t recommend it enough! I am a self confessed cinnamon fan with a sweet tooth though. ;-)
By Cinabar

13 November 2012

Stone's Ginger Joe (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

This alcoholic ginger beer from Stones was 4% volume. Stones have had their roots in ginger since the mid seventeen hundreds and were first established in London. This 330ml bottle of ginger beer was inspired by “Ginger” Joe Stone who was a moustacheod London greengrocer that was fanatical about the taste of ginger and was the originator of Stones. Apparently his first try at producing ginger beer literally singed his ginger moustache, hence the flaming ginger moustache image on the bottle.

There was a brawny smell of ginger on opening the bottle, which transcended with a hardened bitter edge of ginger to the overall taste of the beverage with indeterminate gumption. There was certainly a fire in this drink that would have easily melted the ice that I had been advised to add on the label. It almost set my Movember moustache ablaze. I drank this ginger beer straight on a cold night, without the aid of wussy ice, and was heartily glad of the spiced fire in my mouth, down my throat and in my belly by the end of it! No hot water bottle for me that night, I can tell you. Huzzah!
By Spectre

12 November 2012

Yorkie Limited Edition Honeycomb (Tesco) [By @cinabar]

I might be a bit late to the party with this bar, but I couldn’t resist blogging about it because I’ve been searching for it for so long! It’s one of those items I heard about and have been trying to track down for ages. We don’t actually have a Tesco very near us so I wonder if it’s a Tesco exclusive and that is what was hindering my search.
To be fair I don’t eat much Yorkie chocolate, in fact I haven’t eaten a bar since they introduced their "not for girls" campaign. I don’t honestly understand how in today’s society they can get away with such a strange slogan. If it said that it is not for a specific ethnicity minority, religion or sexuality it would have been banned, but apparently sexist chocolate is fine. Grrr. Anyway I’m pleased to say there is no trace of that silly slogan on this particular Yorkie.
This limited edition bar has five chunks of the usual rich Yorkie chocolate with small pieces of crunchie honeycomb packed in it. Curiously there weren’t as many of the honeycomb bits as I was expecting, they only added a slight bit of a crunch to the overall texture. However their added sweetness was unmistakable thoughout, and the golden sugary flavour added a nice extra dimension to the bar. It did feel special and like a treat. I think it went a good way to reminding me that I did actually used to quite like Yorkies. I just hope that they go down this route more often, more lovely new flavours and less of the irritating "not for girls" campaign and they'll see me back as a customer.
By Cinabar

11 November 2012

McVities Breakfast Porridge Oats with Red Berries (by @NLi10)

Just when I got used to breakfast biscuits they change the game - porridge biscuits!

While I know that porridge is made from oats, and nice biscuits are also made from oats (and oatcakes are made from oats) this still seems an odd choice of tactic.  Surely the heat of the porridge is a bigger deal than it's oats?

We see here the mysterious flavour of Red Berries - for when you want to sneak some other fruit in that is not raspberries.  I wonder when 'Fruits of the forest' went out of fashion - I'll bet it translates really awkwardly.

Again these are overpriced compared to normal biscuits, but with a slightly better quality of ingredient leading to my rusk comparisons previously.  I'm fine with this - most mornings I don't need these (and indeed had them for a month without touching a single pack) so they are a bonus energy boost and not a daily requirement for me.  Eating a whole pack feels like a portion, but is really like eating 8 regular biscuits guilt free.

Upon eating these don't really taste like porridge, but are a different flavour to the wheat ones.  Also the berries are not low quality and add a little pop to the bits where they appear in a bite.  The pattern is large enough to feel when eating, like all good sport/malted milk biscuits (which is fundamentally what breakfast biscuits are).  They snap with a satisfying sound and don't crumble too much so you could eat these on the go and over a keyboard with no problems.

Again - I don't think these replace cereal, but do slot in nicely to the elevenses slot.  I don't have a favorite variety or flavour of these yet either, and I've now tried and reviewed all the main brands.  I can get excited about biscuits easily, but nothing about any of them so far has caused me to become loyal to any of them.  I think that I will continue to go with the new & the cheap and refrain from reviewing more until I find one that Wows me.

10 November 2012

Kit Kat Ball (France) [By @cinabar]

My dad has been on a recent trip to France, and brought back these Kit Kat Balls for me, thanks dad. :-) At first I was totally convinced that these must just be the French version of Kit Kat Pop Chocs, but when I looked closely I realised that they were in fact a slightly different iteration. Although my French is a little rusty, I spotted that they were balls of Kit Kat wafer coated in Kit Kat milk chocolate. They writing on the front of the bag loosely translates to ‘happy crunching’, so clearly has a heavier wafer base.
When I bit the first one in half, and you can see this on the photo, I became aware that there was a white layer under the chocolate but before the wafer. It doesn’t appear on the picture on the packaging, and I’m not entirely sure what it is. It certainly tasted okay, but did strike me as being a little weird.
The flavour is surprisingly close to Kit Kat, and these were very easy to munch on. There was plenty of milk chocolate, similar to that on a Kit Kat and the wafer added that nice biscuit flavour to the taste. The texture was rather different to what I was expecting as these have a strong crunch, but the wafer biscuit inside soon melts away, leaving you wanting another. If you do manage to find these, and I’m afraid I haven’t seen any in the import shops yet, they are well worth picking up. They are a crunchier munchier version of Kit Kat Pop Chocs.
By Cinabar

9 November 2012

Air Dried Pear Crisps (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

I’m always on the lookout for crispy snacks, especially ones that are healthy that might stop my ever increasing tummy from filling the room. Granted it’s a good place to rest my beer mug, but that’s not the point. These Air Dried Pear Crisps were produced by Perry Court Farm in Kent. As part of the “5 a day”, they were vegetarian friendly and were made with 100% home grown pears, sourced locally to the farm. The 20g bag was 67 calories, with 11.3g sugar and 0.1g of fat. Opening the bag there was a mild smell of pear. I tipped the contents out to see lots of dried light brown slices of pear shaped crisps, each with a blackened brownish edge. These pear crisps looked very crunchy indeed, so I was rather surprised to find that they were more chewy than crispy. There was a mild sweet taste of pear which made my mouth water as I chewed these crisps. I thought these pear crisps were a very innovative, healthy feeling and tasty snack, and would have these again... especially as crisps are one of my favourite snacks and these could help decrease my ever growing waistline! Mission 5 a day; apple for breakfast; banana, tomato and pear crisps with my sandwiches and yoghurt at lunchtime, orange juice to wash it down... Oh, yeah! Then beer with my dinner... can’t be bad! ;-D
By Spectre

8 November 2012

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Tonic Water - Ocado (by @NLi10)

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Tonic Water - Ocado (by @NLi10)

I really like Fentimans, I really like Tonic Water, I really struggled to find this - despite knowing about it for probably a year or so now, but finally Ocado got it in (I may have tweeted them a couple of times to pester...).

It wasn't what I'd expected.  One of our local pubs has Fever Tree tonic water which is very strong and must have lots of quinine to produce the flavours.  This is something I enjoyed a lot and prefer to drink over the more generic tonic waters (although the Schweppes one is still decent enough).  I expected the Fentimans one to be similarly potent.

While the flavour is 'large' it isn't a massive kick to the senses like Fever Tree and is really quite deep.  The quinine is much less noticeable and the flavour is as natural tasting and authentic as the rest of the range.  I think that this would work very well with the expensive gins that have a more interesting flavour and may have to try it out on a connoisseur.

While I will buy this again I think that it won't preclude me from picking up the more explosive tonics too - I think I'd chew on the bark quinine is made from given the chance - and thus the difficulty in acquiring this without online shopping may not be so bad.

7 November 2012

New Kettle Tortilla Chips – Cool Sour Cream [By @cinabar]

I am a big fan of Kettle Chips and their hand-cooked crisps, but they have recently branched out and have some new Tortilla Chips on the market. They are four new flavours in total; Nacho Cheese, Sweet Chilli Salsa, Sea Salted and these Cool Sour Cream ones.
I decided to open my bag as an accompaniment to a chilli con carne night, and served them with a guacamole dip. I liked the idea of a milder flavour with a chilli as it helps to soothe the taste buds from the spices.
The tortillas were the usual triangle in shape and had a good golden colour to them. The flavour was very wholesome, and the base taste shone through delivering a tasty corn flavour. The crunch was spot on, and they felt fairly light which made them quite moreish. The sour cream taste added a cool clean flavour to them, but there was also a nice hint of herbs and garlic which gave them depth. Combined with the dip they went perfectly with our chilli dinner, breaking up the hot taste and helping our mouths to cool down a little.
I have a bag of the Sweet Chilli Salsa variety lined up for snacking on during a film night, and really looking forward to giving them a try. If these are anything to go by, they are going to be a delight to eat!
By Cinabar