31 January 2013

Look What We Found! Norfolk Chicken Korma (Sainsbury's) [by @NLi10}

I'm a big fan of the Look What We Found range as it represents two things I like, convenience & quality.  As I've mentioned before it's fast & easy to make (basically heat the pouch), requires no refrigeration and is of a quality that you can serve to friends without looking like you gave them pot noodles for dinner.  They also have a nice local farmer ethos and videos of them on their site.  They also appear to do direct sales, if they aren't in stock locally and as the shelf life is long you can afford to go a little crazy.

Today I have their Norfolk chicken Korma.  I love a good Korma, and understand that while this is one of the mildest of the curries it should have a chilli kick that goes with the creamy and cocoanut flavoured sauce.  This does pretty much all of this and is a decent (but not massive) portion for one.  I could have happily had some Tilda instant rice with it but I'd run out.

It's not much to look at but the chicken was tender and it was all good meat.  I think the flavour was missing a little something in the middle, maybe I'd add a few herbs to go between the heat and the sweet, or maybe a bit of spinach on the side.  As far as food that takes 2 min in the microwave goes this is spot on, and while it isn't as amazing as the meatballs flavourwise it is certainly very nice.  I'd buy this again, but I'd remember to stock up on microwave rice too so I could have a proper big lunch.

30 January 2013

Black Soybean Drink (Day In Supermarket, Birmingham) [By @SpectreUK]

This Black Soybean Drink was presented in a jet black 340ml can and produced by the Famous House Food Industrial Corporation, in Taiwan. The text on the can stated that black soybean had been used in the orient as a health food and herb for hundreds of years. At roughly 184 calories, with nearly 3g of fat and of 20g sugar and having ingredients listed as only water, cane sugar and black soybean, I fully expected this drink to be black on opening the can. When I poured the contents into a tall glass I found this drink to be a milky white. This confused me greatly. I kept saying to Cinabar that the drink was supposed to be black as it was made with black soybeans. Apparently black soybeans are green inside (or yellow) and produce a white milk. Once I’d gotten over the initial drink colour shock, which admittedly didn’t go away for some time, I dared a sip. I was surprised at how nutty the initial taste was, which was mixed with a sweet milky beany taste that was rather pleasant. Having said that, more than one can at a time could prove quite sickly, but I did enjoy this healthy feeling drink, and would have this again. I’m not sure using this as an alternative to milk in tea or coffee, but it could work with cereals. Maybe next time I’ll give it a try…
By Spectre

29 January 2013

ChocoLove – Pretzel In Milk Chocolate (CyberCandy) [By @Cinabar]

As bars of chocolate go, this has to have had one of the smartest looking wrappers I’ve seen. The bar is from a company called ChocoLove and it is clear that it is designed to be given as a love token. The wrapper makes the bar look like a love letter, with its mock stamp and is sealed with a heart too. On the inside of the wrapper there is a lovely extra touch with a poem by John Keats printed inside it. Each piece of the chocolate bar also has a heart moulded onto it, just so there is no doubt about this being a fully loved up bar.
Once turned over I could see the chocolate had loads of pretzel sticks packed into it too, and you could just tell it was going to be full of flavour. I love the sound of mixing pretzel and chocolate because I think the saltiness should work well with the sweeter taste. I broke a piece of the chocolate off but it didn’t break as neatly as I’d hoped. Although there are lines to break the pieces correctly but the pretzel sticks means the bar comes apart in a more approximate way, not that it really matters, it just made it a bit more awkward to share.
The chocolate felt quite soft, and gave more than snapped when I did break it up.
The chocolate has a nice flavour though, which is the key thing. It had a thick melt and was sweet, creamy and had a nice base cocoa tone through and through. The pretzel bits did add a bit of magic. They gave the bar a lovely mixed texture, and a nice crunch too. The salt added magic, mixing just a bit of salt with the chocolate contrasted well and the two tastes enhance each other. This is proper easy eating chocolate, it’s a soothing bar with a lovely unique flavour.
If you are looking to give a Valentines card to that special someone this year, I think it would go down extra well if you popped one of these bars inside the envelope as an extra touch. The recipient will be smiling from the second they see the wrapper. A big shout out is required to CyberCandy for stocking such a cool bar!
By Cinabar

28 January 2013

Muller Yogurt – Turkish Delight [Light Fat Free – Limited Edition] (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

I used to love Muller yogurts but have to confess I haven’t bought them for a while. I was having a look at low fat yogurts in Waitrose, when I noted the lady putting out a tray of these new limited edition ones. Spectre pulled a face, he’s not a Turkish Delight fan, but I couldn’t resist popping some into the trolley for me. Spectre opted for the strawberry!
I had these as a healthier alternative to a pudding after dinner. I do always fancy something sweet after a meal, but felt one of these yoghurts would be a healthier treat.
One opened I could see a very pale pink thick yoghurt, speckled with dark chocolate. There wasn’t much aroma, but the flavour was full on once tasted. The Turkish Delight came through beautifully, sweet and floral and really tasty. I love the rose tones of Turkish Delight but have to say I didn’t expect it to work quite so well as a yoghurt flavour. The chocolate seemed plentiful to look at, there was clearly a fair amount of it mixed in but the Turkish Delight flavour did overpower it somewhat when it came to the taste test, leaving it more as a background hint of chocolate.
Despite the mild chocolate taste I still found that I thoroughly enjoyed the yoghurt and was even scraping out the last bits from the pot. This did its job perfectly, acting as an enjoyable alterative to a full fat pudding. I’m not sure why I haven’t bought Muller for so long, but I’m sure to pop some into my trolley on my next grocery shop.
By Cinabar

27 January 2013

Jack Link's Chicken Snack Bits (Good Food Show, Birmingham) [By @NLi10]

Often we come across things that look and sound edible but that we just don't fancy that much. At the Good Food Show in Birmingham a stall was doing bags of import foods - 12 for £5 - so I grabbed a load of fun American stuff. Pretty much the last to be tried are these spicy Buffalo style chicken bits.

They are one of those space foods that is designed to survive an atomic blast (in fact I suspect that's how they kill all the bugs to make them last so long)! The package was small and unobtrusive so I took them out with me to a card event (Gatecrash Prerelease for those in the know) and had them between rounds.

They are a bit odd. The first flavour is spiciness, and then there is a series of odd aftertastes. Others tried them too, and some hated them and others were quite keen to have more. Alas the bag is quite tiny and is more of a morsel than a portion, which prevented further shares, but the flavour is certainly potent enough to provide hours of wonderment at what on earth the flavours were.

I can only describe the texture as not-chicken-like as it was both rubbery and flakey due to the drying process - I guess like beef jerky, but for chicken. If you were a cowboy out in the middle of nowhere and needed a tiny snack to keep you going then this would be fine (provided you had sufficient water - as they kind of suck moisture out of you) but as a normal person snack it's not great.

I also got the curry flavour which should be very similarly indescribable in it's curryness. We shall see.
By NLi10

26 January 2013

Bahlsen - Hobbit’s Biscuits [By @SpectreUK]

These biscuits have been themed for the movie The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey and were made by Bahlsen, who have been baking since 1889. I finally got to see this epic movie on Cinabar’s birthday as we both had the day off work. It had snowed heavily most of the weekend so we were happy not to have to dodge snowy traffic and snowball fights to struggle to work that day. We first trudged to the local KFC for a quick lunch after seeing that even though 5000 schools were closed across the country, the cinema was blessed with peace and tranquillity. I managed to convince Cinabar to watch the Hobbit on her birthday, even though she didn’t enjoy any of the Lord of the Rings films, so it was more like an early birthday present for me instead. Crazily enough when we arrived at the counter in the KFC at 12.45pm, they stated that even though it was in fact lunchtime we would have to wait for ten minutes for chicken. This produced an incredulous rant from me considering that the word “chicken” is in the title of the “fast food” restaurant. Cinabar had to literally push me out of the Kentucky Fried non-Chicken restaurant and we settled for a MacDonald’s instead. After woofing down several burgers and fries we sat down in the almost empty cinema to watch the movie. After waiting several years for the Hobbit to come out I was surprised by the level of emotion just the beginning of the movie brought out in me. I was glued all the way through the film and I declared it as one of the best films I had ever seen. Even Cinabar enjoyed it! I can’t wait for the next two movies.

Hobbit’s Oatmeal Biscuits

Anyway, back to the biscuits. The 250g cylindrical packet was packed tightly full of rounded flat rich golden brown biscuits. Each three biscuits contained 161 calories, with 6.8g of fat and 8.8g of sugar. The biscuits ingredients included; oat flakes (31%), wholemeal wheat flour (30%), sugar, vegetable fat, inverted sugar syrup, wheat germ, salt, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate and disodium diphosphate), citric acid, whole egg powder, skimmed milk powder, and spices. On opening the packet there was a very wheaty oaty smell to the biscuits. The biscuits tasted great having a decent crunch with a wholesome natural oat and wheat initial flavour with a light spice, closely followed by the egg and milk in the aftertaste. I’m certain any Hobbit would fight the biggest Troll over these biscuits for any of their meals whether it be first breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses...

Hobbits Chocolate Oatmeal Biscuits

These Hobbit’s Chocolate Oatmeal Biscuits were presented in a 265g cylindrical packet. Two biscuits were 158 calories, with 7.9g of fat and 8.6g of sugar. The ingredients included milk chocolate (21%)(as listed below), sugar, oat flakes (25%), vegetable fat, wheat flour (10%), wholemeal wheat flour (10%), cocoa butter, cocoa mass, glucose-fructose syrup, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, clarified butter (although that makes me wonder how they clarified it was butter, did they simply ask “are you really sure you’re butter” and they gained a positive answer?), the usual raising agents, as well as lactose, salt, lecithin, whole egg powder, and flavouring. These biscuits are loaded full of flavour with a light crunch that melts slowly in the mouth. The milk chocolate works together with the oats and wheat rather than overshadowing their flavours. Cinabar mentioned that these biscuits have a golden flavour, I guess meaning that they have a succulent sweetness bordering on treacle, which complements the fresh oats and wheat flavour mixed with the milk chocolate goodness. If the Hobbits had to fight a Troll for the Oatmeal biscuits, then I’m absolutely sure they’d fight off Smaug himself for these Chocolate Oatmeal biscuits.
By Spectre

25 January 2013

Easter Speckled Egg Whip (Marks & Spencer) [By @Cinabar]

I am a big fan of Walnut Whips and the shop with very best selection of whips has always been Marks & Spencer. They have never limited themselves to just walnut whips and have always had a good selection of other flavours from pecan through to double chocolate!
As it is almost Easter (lol) they have brought out this new variety for the change of season. Technically it is just like a regular Walnut Whip only with a mini egg on top instead of a nut, but I didn’t need much encouraging! They certainly look pretty and the box is bright and fresh.
Once opened, I started by plucking the mini egg off the top off the first whip and eating that - which was a lovely chocolaty treat. The next stage is to bite in and the milk chocolate is pleasingly thick and chunky. The chocolate is actually always a nice quality on M&S Whips and is sweet and creamy with a surprisingly good cocoa hit. The chocolate shell gives way to the lightest vanilla whip inside. Its creamy has loads of vanilla flavour and is so fluffy it’s actually impressive. I love walnut whips so I was sold before I even opened the box!
I accept this a novelty version of the regular whips, but if you know a fan of walnut whips this might just be the perfect Easter stocking filler for them. I know I loved them. :-)
By Cinabar

24 January 2013

Mighty Miso instant organic soup (Red Kite Foods) [by @NLi10]

It's cold again (although I do love the snow), so out come the boxes of soup!

I bought these some time ago from Red Kite in Bromsgrove, but I never actually reviewed them.  To be honest I was quite surprised to find them in my desk draws (I'd been having a clear-out and they were right at the back) as I enjoyed them first time around too - but obviously not enough to drink all 12.

The red miso one on the left has little tofu floating in it which give it a more exciting chewiness, the white miso one on the right has a mistier appearance.  I really couldn't tell you more about the flavour as they both taste very similar to me - I guess if I had them one after the other then I could.  They are a bit salty for that (especially if you don't stir enough - the curse of the packet soup) but otherwise an enjoyable experience.

Also this particular Miso is made with aspergillus oryzae  - a fermenting mould which is commonly found in Japanese cooking which is pretty cool.  While the health benefits are dubious the taste benefits are proven beyond doubt.  A nice change from the minestrone packet soups.

23 January 2013

Go! Noodles – Spicy Curry Flavour (ASDA)[By @SpectreUK]

I do like a good hot and spicy noodle soup, so this Go! Noodles Spicy Curry Flavour, produced by Symington Limited, in Leeds, caught my eye in the local supermarket. Suitable for vegetarians, the 93g pot was apparently 261g with water added. This noodle soup had 384 calories, with 4.7g of sugar and 13.1g of fat. The ingredients included wheat and barley gluten, and contained; 50% noodles, 6.5% soya mince, as well as wheat flour, mustard, and curry powder, which consisted of coriander, turmeric, allspice, ginger, fenugreek, garlic, black pepper, cumin and red pepper. Colouring included capsanthin and carotene, hence the muddy light brown colour of the soup once boiling water had been added. The sachet of dark brown curry sauce contained spirit vinegar, maize starch, tomato, malt extract, salt, sugar and more curry powder. Inside the pot there was a hard block of stringy noodles covered with curry mix powder, with pieces of diced carrot and peas, and also the sachet of curry sauce. While I ate my lunch I decided to put a documentary on the box about the World’s Most Dangerous Roads that I’d previously recorded. I wasn’t sure which would be more dangerous, Sue Perkins and Liza Tarbuck driving down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, or the Spicy Curry Flavour noodle soup. I cut open the sachet and squeezed its gloopy brown contents out into the pot once I’d poured in the freshly boiled water. After a quick stir and leaving the noodle soup to cool a little, I dared a taste. It had a fresh nutty curry flavour with a good hot spice that left a decent burn on my tongue and in my mouth. The soup didn’t have an uncomfortable nose runny, tongue burning, sweat inducing taste, so I quickly realised that the Ho Chi Minh Trail was certainly more dangerous with its multitude of unexploded bombs, and I’d have to admire anyone with guts to drive down it. Having said that, I did really enjoy this Go! Noodles Spicy Curry Flavour noodle soup and would definitely have it again.
By Spectre

22 January 2013

Snickers - More Caramel (WH Smiths) [By @Cinabar]

I bought this bar in the newsagent where I worked and was excited to see a new product on the UK shelves. That was until Jim at Chocolate Mission blogged about the same bar, and pointed out that we had already seen it back in 2011 under the name Snickers Maximus. I’ve even blogged about it back then, but the name change meant I didn’t quite realise it. Disappointing. This bar has also been released with another called “More Nuts” which I did remember writing about in 2010 and I made the choice not re-buy it while I was in the shop.
Well seeing as I bought the bar (albeit again) I thought I may as well give it a bit of blog space, if only to use it as a plea to Snickers to let us have some proper new Limited Editions to try. Other countries get things like Hazelnut editions and all sorts of new combinations. If you’ve never tried Snickers Pods you are really missing out! Here in the UK we get the same bar we had two years ago re-released with one from three years ago... I wouldn’t mind but they weren’t that adventurous or exciting back then.
Anyway – the bar itself is a mainly caramel affair with plenty of peanuts and the usually Snickers milk chocolate covering. I love nuts and chocolate so I’m not going to lie I thoroughly enjoyed the bar. The caramel gave it a sticky feel, and it got a bit more stuck in my teeth than a regular Snickers, but it was still good. I would however happily trade it for a more interesting new Snickers edition, as it didn’t have enough to differentiate itself from a regular Snickers to be honest. The fact that Snickers is already a good bar shouldn’t mean that the best you can offer is a bar with a different ratio of the same ingredients. Ironically that is pretty much what I said when I wrote about it back in 2011 too!
By Cinabar

Recipe Corner - Queen of Puddings [By @Cinabar]

I actually quite like cooking, particularly sweet goodies. So as an occasional bonus post I thought I’d write up some of my favourites as I make them.

Queen of Puddings Recipe – Serves 6

For those not in the know, it’s a traditional British pudding consisting of a layer of baked custard thickened with breadcrumbs, covered with jam and layer of soft meringue.

500 ml milk (full fat is ideal, but semi is fine)
70 ml cream
10g butter (plus some for greasing)
2 egg yolks
110g breadcrumbs
25g Golden caster sugar
Lemon zest (make sure you buy unwaxed!)
Couple drops of natural vanilla essence (optional)

Jam of your choice (raspberry or strawberry is classic, but plum also works like magic). You can use as much or as little as you like, but around 5 tablespoons works well.

3 egg whites
65g Caster sugar (plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling before baking)

You will also need a large oven proof dish, which needs to be greased.

Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees

Start by heating the milk and cream in a pan and bring it to the boil.
Turn the heat off and add in the butter, 110g breadcrumbs, vanilla (if required), 25g of sugar and the zest of the lemon. Stir well, the leave the mixture to cool (around 15 minutes). The breadcrumbs will absorb the moisture and the contents of the pan should thicken significantly.

Beat the two egg yolks in a separate bowl, and then add them to the pan (which should be just warm when you do this). Add the yolks slowly and stir well while adding.

Pour your mixture into your oven proof dish and bake for 30 minutes. Although it won’t go golden it should set and pull away from the edges slightly.

Once it is cooked, take it out of the oven. Turn to oven down to 150 degrees.

Melt the jam in a pan, and pour this onto of the base and gently even it out without disturbing the base.

In a separate bowl whisk three egg whites, using an electric whisk on full power. The eggs whites should fluff up and turn stiff. Very gradually add the 65g of sugar, while whisking. When the mixture looks very stiff and a little shiny it is complete.

Add the mixture on top of the jam. You can pipe it and make it look very tidy, or spoon it on and go with a more rustic look.

Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over the mixture to help it go golden when it cooks.

Pop it in the oven at 150 degrees for 25 minutes, it will look golden when it’s ready. If it browns too quickly turn the oven temperature down to 100 degrees and keep an eye on it.

Serve hot, with a splash of cream if desired.
By Cinabar

21 January 2013

Kit Kat Mint (Choose A Chunky Champion) [By @Cinabar]

So this is the final bar I am trying in relation to the new Kit Kat Choose A Chunky Champion. The other flavours tried so far were Choc Fudge, Coconut and Hazelnut, with Coconut being a surprise favourite so far. I always think there is a lack of mint on British newsagent shelves, so though that this could be a good addition to the range.
I opened up the bar and the minty aroma was immediately present. I love the combination of peppermint and milk chocolate and the smell was very appetising. I broke the first piece off and noticed that there wasn’t a thick layer of mint paste inside, but there was clearly plenty of flavouring which you could tell from the scent.
I bit in and the bar didn’t disappoint. The mint was a reasonable strength and didn’t over power the chocolate. The freshness of the mint shone though, as did the sweet cocoa tones. The chocolate was the usually thickness on a Kit Kat and the wafer added the signature crunch. I munched quite happily through the bar.
It was certainly nice and enjoyable, and I even rate it over the hazelnut (shockingly enough). It did however lack something I just couldn’t quite put my finger on. You see as much as I enjoyed it, I didn’t think “wow, this is the one”. No my two clear favourites were the coconut as it added a little of the exotic and the choc fudge which sounds quite plain but is remarkably well put together and tasted fantastic. Besides this Mint Kit Kat Chunky was refreshing and cool, and perhaps cool isn’t what we need for a British Winter?
By Cinabar

20 January 2013

Cal-in+ Vitamin D yoghurt (Sainsburys) [by @NLi10]

Food science is great.  It can be pharmaceutical companies like Proctor & Gamble making things like  Pringles that are just far enough under the threshold for addiction that they are legal to sell as food, or Norman Baulag who genetically modified wheat so that it was more resistant and had higher yields saving an estimated billion lives in the process.  Science is fun, controversial and essential to us.

PR companies know this so occasionally a food stuff crops up that teeters on the border between science and fantasy.  My favourite example of this is Yakult and other friendly bacteria drinks that now can only claim to contain the bacteria and not that it will magically do things to you.  Having been involved in Public Health departments when this change happened was very interesting.  Hospitals still purchase friendly bacteria drinks though - it's incredibly useful for repopulating the gut after a bad case of 'the runs', or if you've been on long term antibiotics - but it seems this market wasn't enough for them and a lot of the less robust brands have vanished.

Now the pseudo-science has moved on to preventing 'bloating', a mythical condition which is hard to define or prove and that only women suffer which can be magically cured by expensive yogurts.  As this is also an odd area it seems that Yoplait have decided to help by creating a different brand of super yogurt that build on the need for calcium by adding Vitamin D.

The voucher to pick these up came with a lot of science style literature that was a little poorly put together!  It kind of has a scientific style, but misuses references (and these are hard to follow up but not impossible) and gives one or two too many dodgy statements for my liking.

Fact is that this is probably written by PR people and advertisers and wasn't supposed to be read by someone who spent a year combing through health journals for their Masters.  And surprisingly the science is sound - if you increase your intake of calcium and Vitamin D then you will be less likely to suffer fractures and broken bones that result from trauma (and in this icy weather that's no bad thing).  They even did a double blind clinical trial (although it seems they didn't publish which rings alarm bells) where the stated aims of the product were met.

Trouble is this is a bit of a luxury product, it's more expensive than most of the people who would benefit from this kind of intervention (lower income families, the elderly) would ordinarily pay for yogurts.  I guess this is part of the problem, and why it took me so long to find my review pots.

The yogurt itself is nice.  It's a smooth vanilla and has those little black dots that you find when a product actually uses vanilla and not just flavourings.  The pots are about the right size, and have a decent shelf life so you can get through your pack.  I'm just not sure it's an exciting enough product.  Sure enough - osteo problems are a big issue in Women's health and if you are aware that you have an existing problem then frankly you should hunt these out, but you may already be able to get the supplementary vitamins elsewhere in a more convenient (but less tasty) form.  

If you are worried about developing the issues these solve, or have a broken bone on the mend then again I'm not qualified to suggest the best course of action.  I guess these yogurts would help, at least from a psychological point of view.  As our bodies convert sunlight into vitamin D then during the summer just spend an hour in the garden each day, but when it's a bit cold for that maybe these could help.  maybe it's like Yakult - when the hospitals can prescribe it to the people that will benefit from it then it will be a good use of food science.

There is a wealth of information on http://www.calinplus.com, so you can make your own mind up.  A very tasty product, that feels like it should be very beneficial to the right people, but I'm not convinced that they will be the people who end up eating it.

Ben & Jerry's Contest Day 6

Here is day 6 of the Ben & Jerry's Instagram #CaptureEuphoria contest.


This is Mabel forcing me to sit on the floor while she captures euphoria by sleeping where I should be sitting watching TV.  How dare she!

You can see all the details on the Day one story page, or visit http://captureeuphoria.benjerry.com/
https://www.facebook.com/benjerryuk for more details.

Good luck - only one more day to enter!

19 January 2013

Frank’s Alcoholic Ginger and Root Beers [By @SpectreUK]

After recently sampling the fruity ginger and liquor like qualities of Jeremiah Weed’s Sour Mash Brew and Root Brew, I had pledged to try other ginger and root beers on the market to see if my liking for Jeremiah Weed’s drinks was a one off or if I really did have a fresh perspective on this type of beverage. I stumbled across these two Swedish beverages from the Kopparberg’s Brewery, which was established in 1882. So no Southern country gents here, but let’s see how they fair against Jeremiah Weed’s two new classics.

Frank’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer

This 4% volume alcoholic ginger beer was served in a 500ml bottle. The label stated that it had been blended with ginger, and contained barley malt. Almost clear in colour, this drink had a strong ginger aroma. It had a strong ginger bite to it in the initial taste, with a cooling quality that gave this drink a healthy refreshing feel. This beverage was mainly bitter ginger in taste with a malted barley finish. As this was a pure alcoholic ginger beer, I was not expecting the complexity of flavours that I was now familier with from Jeremiah Weed’s drinks, since there was no anticipated liquor or fruitiness, but that’s okay, this drink had a place of its own and could not be compared to such a multifaceted brew. A comparison with other pure alcoholic ginger beers would be more appropriate. I would certainly have this again, and I could understand why there was a recommendation on the label to serve over ice, but the cooling properties of this ginger beer didn’t really require it. This ginger beer would be well drunk under a basking hot sun in either a pub garden or in your own garden, preferably with a good book, and another bottle or two as companions. It is still snowing outside? :-/

Frank’s Alcoholic Root Beer

Jeremiah Weed’s Root Brew had not a single drop of the dreaded wintergreen ingredient in it. The ingredients listed for Frank’s Alcoholic Root Beer included wintergreen oil (Gah! Help!), barley malt, hops, yeast, liquorish root, aniseed and vanilla. This root beer was mid brown in colour, and at 4% volume and with the promise of wintergreen, the 500ml bottle seemed awfully large. On opening this root beer there was a worryingly hardy wintergreen smell mixed with aniseed and a hint of liquorish. I really do hate the taste of wintergreen, as previously mentioned more than a few times and in the Jeremiah Weed blog. We British identify wintergreen as the flavour used in mouthwash, so it has a medicinal feel to it that makes us want to gargle and spit it out rather quickly. There was a definite wintergreen initial taste to this root beer, which was unsurprising considering the strong smell. The wintergreen kick was mercilessly quick and replaced by a swift barley malt flavour that disappeared in an instant to an almost harsh aniseed tang which in turn smoothed out to liquorish, yet still leaving a strong medicinal wintergreen aftertaste that made me want to wash my mouth out… but not with dentist’s mouthwash! Although not as unpleasant as I thought it would be and this root beer did have a much more complex array of flavours to it than the Alcoholic Ginger Beer, yet sadly with its wintergreen qualities I couldn’t possibly pick another off the shelf, especially if it had a bottle of Jeremiah Weed’s Root Brew, Sour Mash Brew or Frank’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer next to it… or indeed anything else vaguely alcoholic or nonalcoholic… tap water, even…
By Spectre

18 January 2013

Ben & Jerry's Contest Day 5

At the end of a busy week you can #captureEuphoria quite easily by taking a detour on the way home through a park with pristine untouched snow - 10cm deep in places.


Hoisin Duck Flavour Crisps (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

I picked up this new bag as crisps from Sainsburys and found them as part of their Taste The Difference range. I did a bit of a check when I came back and soon realised that although this sounds like a bit of a quirky flavour, it is actually the third time I will have written about Hoison Duck crisps since we started this blog. Walkers did a competition in 2009 to find a new flavour, and it was one of their test varieties (which didn’t win) and Tesco released some a year ago.
I poured the crisps into a bowl for sharing, and took in the sweet aroma. There seemed to be a lot of sweetness mixed in, and they smelt really nice. I tried one and discovered that the crisps were quite firm, giving them a very hard crunch. It was nice, but perhaps a tad firm for my palette. What I did like was the taste. These were seriously meaty, and had loads of rich duck flavour. It worked really well and you could immediately pick up on what meat you were trying. The Hoisin flavour wasn’t too far behind and added an aromatic sweetness with loads of clove, onion and garlic all mixed in. The flavour was fantastic and I soon forgave the sharp crunch.
I was impressed; the crisps manage to put together a complex flavour perfectly. They are well worth a try, as they are posh crisps that add something a bit different to the standard choices available.
By Cinabar

17 January 2013

Ben and Jerry's contest day 4


Here is today's entry. Good luck in the contest!

Details on the Day 1 post.

Play and Freeze Ice Cream Ball [by @NLi10]

So - my kind and generous little sister got me two packs of Saxa Rock Salt for Christmas for me to review...

...as the fuel for my new Play and Freeze Ice-Cream maker!! (YAY WOO!!)

And here we see the link to the Ben & Jerry's sub-theme for all the little stories I've been posting this week.  I got their recipe book to enable me to whip up all kinds of amazing things, but unfortunately it's all designed around making a quart of ice-cream.  In the UK this is a fictional measurement, and my new Play and Freeze Ice-cream maker only makes one pint.  This means I'd have to halve/down convert such wonderfully inaccurate measurements as 3/4 of a cup and 1-1/2 teaspoons.  Pro-tip guys, ml are much easier...

Fortunately inside the steel cylinder that comprises the freezing chamber was a small recipe book that resembled the most basic version but with easier to figure amounts.  I planned to make half a pint of vanilla ice-cream.

Here is the science bit.  You open the bottom and fill it with as much ice as you can ram in, then you add a load of rock salt.  This melts the ice, and adsorbs heat from the surroundings.  As the only thing surrounding it is a metal cylendar this gets cold fast.  You then pour in your cream and sugar (and in this case vanilla essence) and then tightly screw it shut.  Then you throw the ball around for 10 mins!

You can just about see the ice cream on the top window.  After 10 mins the freeze action is so strong that you get this.

It's mostly ice-cream with a bit of slop in the middle.  So you tip out some water, add more salt and play again!

Cats are very suspicious of the large ball, but as the ice crystals form on the outside you may need to put it down a bit to warm your hands up.  And then you open it and use a spatula and a spoon to get at the ice-cream.  Hooray!

It made about three generous portions, you could possibly have got a fourth if you were really scraping away hard.

Those last bits really freeze to the sides and take a bit of effort to get off, but it's worth it.  Fantastic ice-cream and all made at home with basic ingredients.  Look at the frost around the top on that last one. Chilly fingers...

We have a big bag full of alternative things like sweets and marshmallows and other Ben & Jerry's style things that go into their recipes, and we have these flavoured squirts to make instant variety.  I do really like vanilla though so had to start with that.

The most important thing about any gadget - the one thing that dictates whether it gets used or mothballed is this. How easy is it to clean? The answer - hot tap water goes in both sides and then pours out and it's clean.  Done. Storing a large red ball is harder, but I really thought it'd be a long term mess - one of those things that is never truly clean ever again.  You could probably rebox it when it's dry and no-one would ever know.

It does use a large amount of ice, so I've actually set up some trays in the garden to try and freeze some overnight outside (Eco friendliness and all that).  Buying bags of ice when it's this cold does seem crazy.

I'd link you to get one, but they seem to be out of stock after Stephen Fry featured them (little sister had to order from the USA) so you are better off typing Play and Freeze into Google or exploring local cook shops.  Summer parties will be very fun this year (although the experience is a very loud one with all that ice rattling...)

Ben & Jerry's contest day 3

A quick one today to continue the theme - see day 1 for contest info.


I guess a cup of tea is more restoring normality than #CaptureEuphoria but it still has the same effect.

16 January 2013

Burger Bites (Spar) [By @spectreUK]

These Burger Bites were burger and tomato flavoured corn puffs from the SPAR, produced in Middlesex. The 40g bag had a suggested two 20g servings (but I ate the whole bag... LOL), which were 105 calories, having 5.9g of fat and 1.4g of sugar. On opening the bag there was a good beefy smell with a decent aroma of tomato. These corn puff balls were vegetarian friendly, and had beetroot red and paprika extract for colour. They were made from maize, baked with sunflower oil and flavoured with burger flavour, onion powder, citric acid and beetroot powder amongst other things, but none of the ingredients listed on the back of the packet contained tomato, which confused me a little. The corn puff balls had a strong tomato flavour, with a beefy tang leaving a gentle onion aftertaste. I found these Burger Bites reminiscent of Beef Burger flavour, with a good strong tomato and mild onion flavour. I could almost imagine munching a burger with tomato and onion relish. The only problem was that when I think of burgers, I fancy a few rashers of bacon added and a couple of slices of cheese! I’d definitely have these Burger Bites again. Give me a few packets, a big bowl, several beers and a good long film and I’d be well away! ;-)
By Spectre

15 January 2013

Ben & Jerry's Contest - Day 2

Here is today's quick Instagram for Ben & Jerry's free camera stuff/ Ice-cream contest.


Today I captured euphoria ( #CaptureEuphoria ) by going to see the IMAX version of Les Mis!

If you want to join in then see these links:



and you can win ‘…a huge photography set, including a photography book and two sets of film!’ which isn't snack related, but enables you to take many stylish pictures of snacks.

And if I can find enough Ice then Thursday's review will make sense of this whole contest...

New Cadbury Egg ‘N’ Spoon (WH Smiths @CadburyUK) [By @cinabar]

As per tradition the second that January appears so do all the Easter goodies. The shops have a magical turnover, its out with the chocolate reindeer and in with the Cadbury Creme Eggs! New from Cadbury this year is their Egg ‘N’ Spoon set. There are four milk chocolate eggs neatly packed into a four-man egg case, with two plastic spoons for added cuteness. The first thing that caught my eye was that there were only two spoons for four eggs, which is a bit of a shame if you are sharing them between four, but to be honest I was the only one to attempt using the spoon, everyone else just bit in! The instruction on the pack clearly stated, “Peel, Bite, Spoon” so I was going to do it properly.

The eggs felt very soft under their foil and so I was careful when unwrapping them, but instruction number 1, “Peel” was complete. I didn’t think they’d survive too long if they were sold loose as they are so delicate that they need the egg case to protect them. The top of the egg is prettily laid out with crack marks over it so that when you follow instruction number two and “Bite” it will break perfectly in the right place.
The chocolate was really nice, soft and super sweet, but very enjoyable. I don’t think it can have been proper dairy milk as it the texture is just so very different and the taste is even sweeter than usual.

The final instruction was to “Spoon” and I positioned the egg back in its egg tray for support – did I mention just how soft these are? The mousse was intense and chocolaty and I actually enjoyed using the spoon to attack it! The bubbles made it feel light and silky and the sweet milk chocolate tones added a certain richness. At the end I was left with a now even more delicate softened chocolate shell in the egg box that I carefully removed with sticky fingers and finished it off, in a not particularly lady-like manner. It was a bit of a heavy chocolate and sugar kick at the end, but my sweet tooth wasn’t complaining.
I think this set is really smart. I liked idea of adding plastic spoons what with that and putting the eggs in the card case it does add a fab novelty value. It an excellent alternative to buying a full size Easter egg and would make a neat seasonal but different style of Easter gift.
By Cinabar

14 January 2013

Ben & Jerry's Contest - mini updates - day 1

Each day this week I shall endeavour to #CaptureEuphoria as part of Ben & Jerry's week of happy ice-cream pics on Instagram.

Here is day 1

This is what I get every day when I get home and allow the cats on the bed.

If you have Instagram it may be worth taking part as there are free things to be given away to entrants - including great Ice-Cream related things!  Just tag similar acts of Euphoria with the #CaptureEuphoria hash tag (which I didn't know people used outside of Twitter) and you are away!


Why am I so interested in Ice-Cream in the middle of winter you may ask?  

Well one of my Christmas presents is getting reviewed on Thursday and it's a doozy!!

4 Scottish Snowballs (Marks & Specncer) [By @cinabar]

Over Christmas Nli10 did ask if anyone knew of any other snowball named snacking treats, and I have been keeping my eye out since then. I noticed in Marks that these Scottish Snowballs were new on the shelf, and decided to give them a try. The minute I picked up the pack I knew these were something a bit different as they felt quite heavy, and I realised at once they couldn’t have a simple light mallow filling. On closer inspection I discovered that they were actually made with a Victoria sponge base (vanilla sponge and raspberry jam) coated in a coconut fondant with desiccated coconut sprinkled on top of that. The pack also states that they were indeed made in Scotland too, just in case anyone was wondering if the it was just the recipe that was from there.
There are four in the pack, all neatly wrapped up looking like four snowballs. I picked one up and noticed the desiccated coconut sprinkle everywhere and knew at once these were going to be messy! I carried on and bit in. It has to be said the flavours worked well together. Although quite heavy the sponge isn’t at all stodgy, and actually felt about right. There is lots of creamy coconut and the raspberry jam just adds a nice bit of contrast with its sharper taste. It complements the coconut flavours and the whole thing made a super sweet treat.
If the weather forecast is to be believed and the snow comes this week, this might be a nicely themed treat to tuck into while staying indoors. ;-)

13 January 2013

Heinz Five Beanz (Asda) [by @NLi10]

Ah - 5-a-day, that public health campaign that most of the UK are aware of and some actually stick to.  As beans count as one of your five a day and are actually enjoyed by all ages is it possible to go wrong?  Well the traditional Heinz beans variety (tomatoes + sugar) could have a little more going for it if you are doing a proper meal - and that's where these come in!

I could have sworn I'd had these before, but apparently they are new so who am I to argue.  It must have been a lesser variety of bean, probably stores own so this is a good opportunity to try the Heinz variety.  I had them with curly fries, spinach and Jamie's magical lemon dust.

The taste is very similar to the traditional baked beans, but they seem less sweet.  Also the different beans have noticably different textures which makes it a little more interesting on the tongue.  And what are these beans?

Red Kidney, Haricot, Pinto, Borlotti (which look like the regular ones I guess) and Cannelloni.  While I did try them individually to see if there was much difference I didn't really find one.  As someone who eats non-baked beans too I guess I've just had them all before.  

These were so good that we actively hunted out these on our last supermarket visit instead of the regular variety, but they have also started doing Heniz beans with curry, and with garlic and herb so we picked up the latter instead (special offer :D ) so there may be more beans in the future...