30 April 2013

Cadbury Dairy Milk: Marvellous Creation – Cookie Nut Crunch (Boots @CadburyUK) [By @cinabar]

Wow – there are new exciting bars from the lovely Cadbury on the shelves. I couldn’t resist picking up this rather lovely looking Cookie Nut Crunch combo, the packaging is bright and the ingredients all look wonderfully intriguing. When I opened up the wrapper I liked the look of the chocolate pieces. All have a marked texture on their surface by way of design, and do look very smart. There are also pieces of cookie quite visible in the chocolate, particularly bulging appetisingly on the underside of the bar.
The chocolate itself is also rather, well, marvellous. There are plenty of ingredients to give it lots of texture, and both the biscuit taste and hint of nuts shine through really well. The nut is actually a mix of caramelised almond and hazelnut pieces, and both just give a sweet nutty hint throughout. This is a fun bar, but it’s also reminds me of chocolate filled with nut biscuits. With each mouthful you get a different mix of goodies, sometimes focussing on the biscuit, sometimes on the almond, sometimes the hazelnut but each mouthful is lovely.
It’s nice to see such a fun bar available here, reminding us that chocolate doesn’t have to be too serious, just tasty and enjoyable. This gets a total thumbs up from me, and I am looking forward to any other combinations that the lovely folks at Joyville can come up with to mix with their Dairy Milk.
Talking of which there is another bar that came out when this one did, it’s another Marvellous Creation called Jelly Popping Candy Shells but I had a very sneak preview back in November 2012, when I imported a bar via CyberCandy from Australia (yep they had the news bars before us)! If you wish to see my write up click: Dairy Milk – Marvellous Creations: Jelly, Popping Candy.
By Cinabar

29 April 2013

Tic Tac – Festival Edition (Local Newsagent) [By @cinabar]

Over the years we have reviewed quite a few limited edition Tic Tac flavours. The new ones tend to come out at late spring and usually have a summery feel to them. These particular ones came out in time for Festival season, with an appropriately themed name too.
Once I got them home and had a look at them properly I realised that they felt quite familiar. The flavours in the pack include orange, lime, cherry and passion fruit. The most commonly available Tic Tac flavour (in the UK at least) after the Mint one is their Orange and Lime edition. They have been around since I was very small and it is clear that the Orange and Lime sweets in this pack are the same as those ones. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just they aren’t very new and they are easily available elsewhere. I then gave the two other flavours in the pack a taste, and again I was filled with déjà vu. The pale orange coloured ones and the red ones are passion fruit flavour and cherry flavour, are exactly the same as the same as 2011’s Cherry Passion mix. Don’t get me wrong, they are lovely, but they have been around before. I actually think passion fruit Tic Tics are one of the most refreshing flavours available, as they do have a lovely tropical taste, so in many respects it is nice to see them back. The cherry variety are very strong and fruity and full of rich zingy morello taste, so again I liked them.
It’s just that I look forward to the new season’s Tic Tac varieties, and this year it seems to be lacking some of the innovation we have had in previous years. Last year’s Tic Tac –Strawberry Fields were perfect for summer, and before that we had flavours like Grape and Lychee Twist, and in the UK it is really hard to find good grape flavour sweets so they really were quite something.
The Tic Tacs are nice, they are summery and they do work as a combination. I just have my fingers crossed that perhaps a little later in the year they will reveal another new special flavour, with all new sweets in the pack.
By Cinabar

28 April 2013

Teapigs - Silver Tips White Tea [by @NLi10] (@Teapigs)

Here at FSF we all quite like tea so when TeaPigs posted a thing on Twitter saying random people would get free tea for a retweet I was happy to roll the dice - after-all someone must be winning these things.  Lo and behold my ID was picked and I got sent some free tea!  I was expecting a little box of them, so two teabags in an envelope was a shock, but one that was presumably much easier to post and so more likely to result in future give aways.

I've had TeaPigs before - Cinabar raves about them and I often spot it in cafe's and pubs (!) and choose that over more traditional alternatives.  To me this is a fine alternative and not a compromise.  It's just not a brand I ever considered taking home - even though one Bromsgrove cafe seems to have pretty much all the range (21 flavours apparently)!

The type I received was silver tips white tea, which I'd not had before but a friend is a very keen drinker due to a recommendation by her beauty therapist who says it is good for healthy skin!  I decided that like them I should drink it without milk and like green tea just leave the bag in.  The teabag itself (or to use their parlance - Tea Temple) is a kind of odd plastic-like (yet biodegradable) gauze which seems to both be very solid and almost not there.  It's an interesting little thing.  The leaves are noticeably leafy and will easily confuse children that hadn't actually thought about what tea is made from, even the tea dust in the bag is green and recognisably leafy - AND stays in the bag!

The tea is quite full bodied and only slightly aromatic.  It's not floral like the earl grey and Jasmines that I tend to drink without milk.  It does almost feel like a very posh version of PG Tips, but there is maybe less of a green tea and more of an earthiness to the blend.  More importantly there is a substance here - it tastes strong without tasting stewed and there are still subtle notes to the flavour even towards the bottom of the mug.  It makes me want to experience more of the alternative varieties that are out there.

At first with the luxury soft drinks from Fentimans I was reluctant to take them home and to buy them in larger quantities as I felt it may spoil the magic of drinking them out and having something special to hunt for in pubs that would never be a disappointment.  As is probably obvious to long time readers I soon got over this and now fill a basket at Waitrose or Ocado with these every so often so I can treat myself at home.

Why am I bringing this up?  TeaPigs is a luxury brand that is made by a small, local company costing pounds in a crowded marketplace where the basic product (a store brand teabag or cola) can be had for pence.  This is justified by the fact that these are products that are made with both the consumer and the tea-picker in mind - all the flavour with non of the compromises, just like Fentimans.  In these austere times it's pretty hard to justify that step up to something like this for the 4 or 5 normal cups of tea I have in a day, but I don't think I would want to - this is supposed to be special and savoured.  I can see myself seeking out a couple of boxes of these to stash away in a tea caddy for a speedy special occasion drink (one for home and one for work).

In short I think that TeaPigs is slowly becoming my Fentimans of tea, and I can't think of any higher compliment than that.

27 April 2013

Coffee Milk Tea (Day In Supermarket, Birmingham) [By @SpectreUK]

Now we all experimented when we were children and I don’t think any child didn’t offer to make their parent a “special” hot drink at some point or other. This would probably consist of coffee, tea, hot chocolate and anything else they could lay their hands on. This experimentation has spawned coffee mixed with chocolate drinks worldwide, but little did I know that you could buy coffee mixed with tea as a drink in some parts of the world too. As an avid tea drinker the idea horrifies me that someone would mix both of these hot drinks together. This Coffee Milk Tea was produced by Shih Chen Foods in Taiwan. Dubbed as “3:15pm Milk Tea anytime anywhere”, I thought that there was a contradiction in the title, because if you can drink it anytime then it shouldn’t state 3:15pm. In protest at this statement I decided to have a cup of this coffee tea at 5:25pm. The instructions stated that the teabag should be put in a 7oz. cup (well my mug is a lot bigger), then to fill it half way with boiled water, leave the drink for three to five minutes before removing the tea coffee bag and then filling the cup with ice. Being in England in mid April it was raining and not exactly warm outside. I really didn’t feel like an iced coffee tea drink. So I filled my mug with freshly boiled water and squeezed the living daylights out of the tea coffee bag to make the hot drink as strong as possible. As the coffee tea bag already had non-dairy creamer inside I decided not to add any milk. I must admit that I felt a little guilty at completely ignoring the serving suggestion, but also fairly rebellious at the same time. I waited a while for the concoction to cool and was surprised that this drink actually really worked. There was a creamy coffee smell with a hint of black tea in the background in the aroma of the drink. On first taste there was a creamy sweet flavour from the non-dairy creamer and refined sugar in the bag, followed almost immediately by the coffee. I thought the taste would stop right there as coffee can have such a strong flavour that it can block out anything else, but no, the black tea said; “hey, I’m here too, and I mix well and taste great!” This drink goes to show that you don’t have to do what you’re told when preparing a drink, especially if it’s something new. It also goes to show that coffee and tea really can work together to make a great hot drink. Maybe I’ll try one of the other five bags in the box as an iced drink... but with this weather, I doubt it!
By Spectre

26 April 2013

Lea and Perrins & Heinz Tomato Ketchup Cheese Slices (Waitrose) [By @cinabar]

Although I eat plenty of chocolate when it comes to savoury food, one of my favourite snacks is cheese on toast. Being a bit of an expert in the field I can tell you that Red Leicester is the best for grilling, although I have experimented with various different types.
Something new and exciting caught my eye in the cheese section of Waitrose, and I found myself looking curiously at a couple of new variants. Both Lea and Perrins and Heinz Tomato Ketchup have launched their own flavoured cheese slices. With cheese on toast in mind, I added both to my basket.

First we decided to try the wonders of Heinz Tomato Ketchup Cheese. The cheese is VERY delicate. I’m not sure I can express just how fiddly it was to remove the slices of cheese, even with the grease proof paper to guide it, it became a delicate procedure. I popped it on my toast, and set it off for grilling. The cheese was surprisingly mild in flavour, like a very gentle creamy cheese taste in the background. More like Wensleydale than anything else. The ketchup was the more dominant flavour and it added a nice sweet tomato taste throughout. Although I was trying in on toast, I have to say it would be ideal for topping a barbequed burger on a hot summer’s day.

Next up was the Lea and Perrins, and I have to confess to being a bit of a Lea and Perrins addict when it comes to cheese on toast, I don’t think you can ever add enough! I gently manoeuvred the cheese slice on top of my bread, and found it to be equally as delicate as the previous version. I was impressed to find that this slice had a much stronger cheese taste, like a good strong cheddar, and to be honest I preferred that. The Lea and Perrins was rich and generous too, it tasted like it had been doused in the sauce, which is much more up my street. This cheese slice was rich strong and tangy and it is definitely one I will be buying again.

I think both new flavours are very innovative and it’s nice to see something new like this on the shelves. When it comes to cheese on toast the Lea and Perrins with its zingier taste gets my vote. I will however pick up a pack of the Ketchup variety next time I’m doing burgers. The lady at the till said to me that she there was a Tobasco version on the way too, so I’ll keep my eye out for that as well!
By Cinabar

25 April 2013

Ribena - Mango & Lime, Pineapple & Passionfruit [by @NLi10]

It's summer time again! Well - the snow has cleared and Easter has gone anyway - which means the stores are now selling their summer ranges. One of the first of these I spotted was these two Ribena summer drinks - Lime & Mango and Pinapple & Passionfruit.

I dutifully took them home and set them up for a nice summery picture - even being persuaded to use my lovely Thai tablecloth. The new Gin glasses were brought out to set it all up as a perfect summers picture.

I'm a fan of Ribena - I like the cordials (even the dubious science immunity range is nice enough to rebuy) and I frequently buy the pre-made juice as a non-fizzy refreshing drink. They are just the right strength too.

These are a little disappointing however. In the lime one you can get a hint of the lime, otherwise it's just a mishmash of orange flavoured fruit. I think the pineapple one was slightly sweeter. I like things like Rubicon where even though they are from concentrate you can really tell the actual fruits were involved. The lychee and pomegranate varieties are just that. Sure there are grapes and other stuff to bulk it out but the flavours are clear and bright. This is just like a slightly weaker Um-Bongo with none of the jungle fever.

Unlike the strawberry and other Ribena variants that I've rebought after reviews this one stays firmly on the shelf. Maybe their process only works well with berries!

24 April 2013

Fantasy Bar – Strawberry White Chocolate (The Chocolate Factory, Thornton-le-Dale) [By @SpectreUK]

We up picked this bar whilst stopping off in Thornton-le-Dale, in North Yorkshire, on a holiday for a few days away. It’s a lovely picturesque village with a few shops, a duck pond and lots of streams running in all sorts of directions. If you’re passing through I’d definitely recommend you stop off and park in the large car park behind the duck pond and have a nice wonder around. Here we found the Chocolate Factory, which is a family run shop with all manners of shapes and sizes of luxury chocolate. This Fantasy Bar: Strawberry White Chocolate bar caught my eye whilst we were wondering around the shop. The white chocolate had a crisscross strawberry design on top. This was a creamy succulent white chocolate with a luxurious edge of strawberry to every mouth watering mouthful. I was rather selfishly glad that I saved this chocolate bar to myself and munched it down whilst I was at work in the afternoon, as it would have been very difficult to share out with anyone else. This chocolate bar was pure unbridled pleasure to eat with a touch of strawberry spring in its step. This chocolate bar would be perfect to eat any time of the year, but especially when the sun finally comes out for spring and the flowers start to bloom in the garden, or a more luxurious start to the tennis season than a punnet of strawberries and a dollop or two of cream!
By Spectre

23 April 2013

Kettle Chips – Mozzarella & Pesto (Waitrose) [By @cinabar]

You’d think Pesto would be an unusual flavour for crisps, but we have actually reviewed it before, and on more than one occasion. Phileas Fogg recently launched a Pesto & Roasted Peppers variety and last year we tried Burts Pesto Crisps too. These are the first to team up Pesto with Mozzarella, so they are still bringing something new to the table.
Once open, the crisps gave off a lovely herby aroma, with that lovely hint of Basil that you can’t help but associate with Italian cooking. The crisps are quite nicely cut, thick, but not too crunchy. The flavour start with a refreshing creamy taste, that is very reminiscent of Mozzarella, and then the wonderful array of herbs kicks in. The Basil is still the most prominent taste, but its mixed with parsley, garlic, lemon and even a hint of olive oil. It all tastes so fresh and natural, but then it should as it flavoured with real ingredients, and has nothing artificial in the bag.
I associate these crisps with summer, as they are fresh and herby. I think they would be an ideal accompaniment to a barbeque on a hot day. Just pour them in a bowl and let the sunshine do its work... it actually felt quite warm last weekend so maybe, just maybe, barbeque season isn’t too far off!
By Cinabar

22 April 2013

Oreo Ice Cream (Waitrose) [By @cinabar]

As you know from the blog if I see any new foodie goodies I tend to snap them up for review. I did hesitate with this ice cream though. I love Oreo biscuits to bits, but the £4.99 price for a smallish tub did make me pause for a second, and to be honest if it wasn’t for the blog I may have left it. I love the expensive ice creams like Ben and Jerrys etc, but I do tend to only pick them up if they are on offer (or new). Oh well, this Oreo ice cream found its way into the trolley, and when I got to try it turns out I made the right decision!
I opened up the pack and was met with a white look ice cream base, filled with loads of almost black Oreo biscuit crumbs. The ice cream was thankfully an easy scoop, and I shared some out into bowls with no problem at all. It’s a pretty looking ice cream with its contrasting colours, and I was impressed at the generous helping of Oreo bits mixed in.
Once I tucked in, I understood the magic, the base flavour was fab. It was incredibly creamy, rich and indulgent, but sweet too so that it had the unmistakable flavour of Oreo “stuff”. The biscuit bits were lovely and soft, they added texture, but not a crunch. More like a cake feel than a biscuit feel, but the Oreo flavour was all there. It had the rich dark cocoa flavour that is unique to Oreos and when it mixed with the creamy base flavour I was in ice cream heaven. The word sumptuous doesn’t come close. If you have even a tiny place in your heart for Oreos, then this my friends is the ultimate ice cream. Even at its hefty £4.99 price tag it is still worth every single penny! Genuinely the perfect biscuit ice cream experience.
By Cinabar

21 April 2013

New York Bakery Co - Red Onion & Chive Bagels [by @Nli10]

I do like bagels.  I think I had sandwiches for school lunch for too long, burnt out and didn't want to touch bread for years.  I remember I had jam croissants for school lunches in infants for a time for this very reason!  Had we the variety of bagels and pastries that we have now I'm sure I'd have opted for packed lunches well into my teens.  This one however is a little more adult in it's taste sensation - red onion & chive.

This is a flavour range that is much more suited to crisps ordinarily, but those are nice (and also popular - although not my first choice) and in theory this should work too.  I took these to work to share.

The postman had been particularly aggressive with our sample bag so they were mostly bagel fragments.  This lent itself to sharing quite well, although complicated the extraction from the toaster.  My colleague had hers with light Philadelphia which happened to also be chive flavour, but she loved both parts and said that it wasn't overly chivey.

I felt that the red onion did come through, but that the chive taste was most noticeable - especially after finishing.  I didn't add any strong meats or spreads to mine (I've made the mistake of burying the original flavours before!) and think that it probably would be more suited to eating with something than solo.  I did enjoy this, but mostly as they were high-quality bagels.

4 bagels did not last long with a hungry table of workers at lunch time, and I think these are certainly interesting enough to serve as the weather gets warmer for outdoor parties.  I'm not sure chive is a lunch-time flavour, but my colleague strongly disagreed! I think that fans of strong cheeses will also find a good use for this - we may end up with more of these in our house for that very reason.

I think I may hunt out the Blueberry variety that is a Sainsbury's exclusive as I am fond of sweet toasted things.

Also there is a contest to become part of a bagel recipe book on their facebook page where you can get some other cool prizes.  Worth a look.

Feel free to vote for my entry - Peanut Butter & Choc Flakes - while you are there! 
(I want the bagel carrier that is given to 500 runners up so I can prevent repeats of my toasting fragments experience)

20 April 2013

Rowntree’s Randoms - Squidgy Speak (WH Smiths) [By @SpectreUK]

I have always been a firm believer that sweets should be able to make you feel young at whatever age you eat them. Being able to play with sweets as you gobble them, such as jelly soldiers, can be a real boon if you’re a little bored in the office late one afternoon. These Rowntree’s Randoms Squidgy Speak sweets were fruit flavoured foam jellies with different words on each sweet. Each 12 sweet suggested serving contained 63 calories, with 12.7g sugar and less than 1% of fat. There were no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives in the ingredients which included; apple juice, pepper, carrot, hibiscus, black carrot, orange, blackcurrant, and strawberry. There were four flavours with lots of random word foam jellies in the 150g bag. Orange had a pleasant orange flavour, whereas pink a fruity strawberry taste. White had a mild apple flavour and purple a tangy blackcurrant flavour. I had a lot of fun playing with the cheerful words making up lots of William Burroughs type sentences (see photograph). These Squidgy Speak Rowntree’s Randoms could certainly bring the inner child out of anyone. They were very moreish tasting sweets and went down well with all my colleagues in the office. I'd certainly buy these again as they were fun to share out and watch the seriousness of the office fall into random bouts of giggling!
By Spectre

19 April 2013

Kit Kat – 5 Finger [Limited Edition] (Boots) [By @cinabar]

It was actually on April Fool’s Day that I first heard about Kit Kat releasing a 5 finger edition bar. The idea made me smile, and given the date I dismissed the concept as Nestle just teasing us. Then I saw a campaign on Facebook where they were giving away 1000 packs, so I thought the bar had maybe had a very limited run in order to back up the novelty. So when I saw the bar in Boots I did take a bit of a double glance, and eagerly snapped a few up!
It’s funny but being brought up on two or four finger Kit Kats means that the five finger version looks huge! It’s totally the wrong shape, its looks wrong, but it looks right too. There is nothing new about the chocolate finger underneath, it has the same wafer, the same tasty coating, just an extra stick in the pack. To be fair after three or four bites the Kit Kat looks disappointingly normal again, and after a few bites more it looks rather like a two finger Kit Kat too! :-D
Oh well, its novelty, but as far as Kit Kat attempting to bring out a ‘king’ sized product goes, this really is the perfect solution to the problem. It doesn’t mess with the chocolate biscuit proportions and the novelty means it looks really cute! Perfect for those in need of an extra long chocolate break.
By Cinabar

18 April 2013

Jordans Super Fruity Granola

I reviewed the Dorset cereal Red version previously, and this is the review of the Jordan's equivalent. This comes in the eco-friendly 'just a bag' packaging which I approve of, and it makes it a lot easier to store.

While fundamentally the two cereals are doing the same thing this one appears to be more traditional granola and less about the seeds. It also appears to have more of the stronger flavoured red berries which I like. The mix is raspberries, redcurrants and pomegranate (yay! although its just apple pure flavoured with pomegranate) which is quite a variety, and although we've debated about the existence of super fruits in the past it's certainly better for you than Frosties (sorry Tony). They never specifically say that the contents are superfruits, just super fruity, so the dodgy science is avoided and everyone has a good time!

The oaty mix is really quite nice, and I think of the two cereals I prefer this one. The bags are again premium priced, but not to the extent that I'm worried about it - it's more of a weekend cereal anyway.

I'm always happy to try raisin free, fruity cereals and this is one of the best I've had recently.

17 April 2013

Lindt Creation – Heavenly Creme Brulle [By @cinabar]

This new bar from Lindt is in their Creation range, and is based on the sweet creamy dessert, Creme Brulle. The bar has a milk chocolate base and shell, and within each chunk is a fluffy cream caramel flavour mousse, with bits of burnt sugar and wafer dotted within.
The minute the wrapper came of this bar the sweet smell of caramel became very apparent. The chocolate pieces are quite thick, and each one of them is filled with a generous helping of the delicate sweet mousse. The filling is lovely and light and fluffy, and has sweet brown sugar tones of caramel, with a rich creamy aftertaste. The burnt sugar bits add a nice depth to the flavour, giving the bar a darker edge and a bit of a light runch from the wafer and sugar. It also does remind me of the lovely burn sugar topping on a real Creme Brulle that you have to crack your way through to start. I know that a proper Creme Brulle doesn’t have any wafer in it, but it has been used well in this bar not so much adding flavour but just to tidy up the texture.
The sweet caramel tones worked wonderfully with the creamy rich Lindt milk chocolate encasing it. Each chunk felt like a proper treat, and was very indulgent. This bar was well on the way to recreating the Creme Brulle dessert experience, and did a perfect job just with lovely added chocolate twist.
If you have a sweet tooth like me, this bar is well worth hunting out as it ticks all the boxes for caramel lovers.
By Cinabar

16 April 2013

New Muller De Luxe Corner – Marc De Champagne (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

I do like Muller Corner Yoghurts. I think they put together a fab range of flavours and textures, and I always pick up a multipack on my weekly shop. This week in Sainsburys there was something that looked a bit different in the yoghurt section, and it has to be what can only be described as the poshest looking Muller Corner Yoghurts I’ve ever seen! They are packaged in smart dark cardboard, and there are two yoghurts within that on introductory offer of just £1.
This new yoghurt is called ‘Marc De Champagne’ but the ingredients are even a bit more special than that. The yoghurt is flavoured with champagne, and underneath is a strawberry compote, and to the side are white chocolate biscuits, dipped in cocoa powder. Oh my.
This is the most indulgent coroner yoghurt I have ever tried, and the flavour was out of this world. The yoghurt has a lovely twist of champagne, it’s not too strong and doesn’t overpower the lovely creamy flavour in the yoghurt, it just works perfectly with it. The strawberry layer is sweet and super fruity. The strawberries taste fresh and natural and go perfectly with the flavoured yoghurt. This would have been just about perfect even without the chocolate biscuits, but their addition just upped the league on these yoghurts. Each white chocolate biscuit is wonderfully light, but adds a lovely gentle crunch and mix to the overall texture. The chocolate flavour from them and cocoa dusting works so well with the strawberry and champagne, creating the most indulgent well balanced mix of flavours you could ever hope for in a corner yoghurt!
I can’t recommend them enough. I’m popping back down to Sainsburys tomorrow to stock up while they are still on offer; it really is the nicest yoghurt I’ve ever eaten!
By Cinabar

15 April 2013

Walkers Baked Hoops And Crosses – Prawn Cocktail (@walkers_crisps Sainsburys) [By @cinabar]

As I tend to have crisps most days with my lunch at work, I am always on the lookout for lower calorie products. I’m happy to indulge at the weekend, but I like to try and make five out of the seven days a lighter choice. This does mean you have to lose any taste, or even look for low fat, some just are under 100 calories per bag. I’m pleased to say this new pack from Walkers comes in at a very low 85 calories, so I picked up a multipack.
The new crisps are very cute in that they are in the shapes of hoops and crosses, so if they are in a school packed lunch, there is practically all the kit required for an impromptu game of noughts and crosses in the lunch hall! Being a grownup – I just munched my way through the pack - honest. ;-)
The crisps are lower calorie as they have been baked not fried, but you’d never tell they were better for you from the taste. There is plenty of seasoning, and the sweet tangy flavour of prawn cocktail sauce is lovely and strong. The texture is lovely too. These are fairly chunky looking crisps, and they crunch when you first bite in, then this slowly turns into a nicely melty fluffy feel on the palate.
I did notice they were also selling the new Hoops And Crosses in beef flavour and salt and vinegar, and I’m certainly looking forward to trying those too. It just goes to show that some snacks just happen to be healthy, without losing any of the yum.
By Cinabar

14 April 2013

Home Made Scotch Egg (Old Joint Stock, Birmingham) [by @NLi10]

To celebrate the changing of the seasons we go out after work and have a few drinks and a bite to eat.  As usual we ended up starting in The Old Joint Stock which is a Theatre/Bar in the heart of Birmingham.  As one of the round of drinks was being bought I decided to have one of the posh bar snacks instead of another drink as I was still tackling my first (Bottle Green Cox's apple - nice enough, but not as good as the elderflower).

I opted for the Scotch Eggs that they had on the bar - I think the sign suggested they were hand made or home made or similar.  Either way they looked a lot more interesting than your typical supermarket version.

It's quite large! For those that are unfamiliar (is this an international dish?!) it's a whole egg wrapped in pork/beef sausage-meat with a crumb to hold it all together.  It's cooked but eaten cold with salad, or in this case a drink.  And here is what it looks like on the inside.

And the scale fork is actually quite a large one! I cut it up into smaller pieces so that other people could share in this unusual pre-Thai meal starter.  The egg is well cooked and of a good quality so the focus here is on the additional bits.  We decided that the meat seemed to be pork, which was well seasoned but lightly so, and the crumb itself was also light and less obtrusive than a supermarket version.

This was very enjoyable and would be quite filling if it were not shared.  I think the size means that it's just a bit too big to eat like an apple, but it's something I'd certainly rank higher than expensive crisps and nuts and something I'll happily sample on future visits.

13 April 2013

Snake’s Bite (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

There was a hungry scary looking snake on the label of this bottle of cider apple and beer concoction, and I had no doubt as to why. This famous Snakebite drink was the infamous tough guy drink of the 90’s when I was a lad. The barman seemed to mix the half a cider and half a beer with tongs and protective gloves, with a shield over his face to protect from the bubbling brew. Only the bravest or craziest of drinkers would dare to drink it. Although, I must admit at 4.2% in volume this 500ml bottle didn’t seem all that scary, asides the label and its past reputation. I was shocked to look back and realise that even though I’d drunk many inebriating substances from a young age to present day and that I’d known at least one crazy fool who used to finish off his evening with one solitary Snakebite, I’d never actually tried one! Well this was the time to finally man up and try one. Brewed in Witney, Oxfordshire by the Wychwood Brewery, I scoffed at the scary “silly” snake on the bottle and popped off the cap with a muted “huzzah” to pour the satanic brew into my already shaking beer mug. Unsurprisingly on opening the bottle there was an initial smell of cider and beer. Certainly there was a bitter bite to this drink, like a rather evil snake slithering down my neck and biting my jollies. In fact there was lots and lots of bitter bite to this drink. The beer flavour was slightly lost with hints of malts and hops underneath the sourness of the cider apple. This drink made me check my tongue was still talking to me after every sip. Still, I enjoyed the bitter bite after a few mouthfuls, but will stick to beer, rather than mixing my brews. I guess I’m just not tough enough to mix and take on that scary snake yet! Are you?
By Spectre

12 April 2013

Montezuma – Treacle Tart (Waitrose) [By @cinabar]

I can’t resist a ‘new’ label, and thought the new Treacle Tart chocolate from Montezuma sounded wonderfully soothing so popped one in my basket while wondering around Waitrose. When I got home I opened up the bar and thought that it had a lovely sweet sugary aroma with a good cocoa fragrance too.
I broke myself off a piece of chocolate to give it a try. It had a surprisingly decent sharp snap, and felt quite firm. The flavour was nice. The chocolate is a milk chocolate base and obviously has a good high cocoa percentage (43% as it turns out).
I couldn’t make my mind up on the added ingredients. All that has been added to the chocolate is hazelnut and natural toffee flavouring. On one hand the nuts and toffee made a lovely sweet rich soothing bar. The kind of chocolate that just feels sugary and comforting and yes, I did enjoy it. The cocoa offers a good strong taste, and the base chocolate is of excellent quality. The nut flavour was mild and in the background but the hazelnut nibs gave the bar a pleasant crunch. On the other hand this was supposed to be representing Treacle Tart, and on that front it was a miss. There was no treacle flavour, just toffee – it’s similar but not the same. There was no buttery pastry taste either, just a hint of nut which isn’t even close to be honest.
It’s nice chocolate with a good flavour, but if you buy a bar called Treacle Tart because you want a Treacle Tart flavoured chocolate bar, I suspect when you discover you’ve bought a toffee and nut bar you are going to be a little disappointed.
By Cinabar

11 April 2013

Strawberry & Redcurrant Dorset Cereals Granola (Asda) [by @NLi10]

Today we continue my trek through the raisin free mueslis and granolas and return to the Dorset Cereals section to check out their Strawberry & redcurrant variety.

While I avoid raisins due to flavour concerns others actual have this problems due to heath reasons and some have to cut out citric acid entirely! While I'm fairly sure this isn't on the safe list due to the varieties of red fruits it is suitable for me so lets see what it's like.

The granola itself has the usual dorset mix of seeds and grain and has the distinct sunflower taste behind all the red-bits.  These are strawberries, raspberries and red currants so all quite potent and great for that morning shot of vitamins.

The box says it provides 12 glorious portions, which I find a little optimistic given that each time I have these style of cereal I seem to get a larger portion.  They are very filling though so I'm sure that sticking to the correct portion size is acceptable.  I just like a large breakfast!

I have a couple of other red cereals that I bought at the same time to work through, but this is a good solid start.  Not overly crunchy, rich in flavour and filling enough to get me through a spring morning walk to work.

10 April 2013

Squashies – Double Lollies (WH Smiths) [By @SpectreUK]

These Squashies Double Lollies were produced by Swizzels Matlow, in Derbyshire. They contain no artificial colours, have gelatine in them as well as apple pulp, citric acid, glucose syrup and a few diverse laboratory type sounding ingredients, but don’t let that put you off, as these are sweets and they are made by one of the most famous and experienced brands in Britain. The 160g bag had 343 calories per 100g, with 79.4g of sugar and 0g of fat. These rounded ten pence piece sized blobs came in three different colours with a sprinkling of sugar on top. Yellow and white blobs were lemon in flavour. Pink and white blobs were strawberry flavour, and green and purple blobs apple flavour. All of these rounded blobs definitely lived up to the bag’s promise of Squashieness; being fun to eat, very tasty and sweet and very moreish indeed. I certainly embraced Swizzels Matlow’s Squashie World whilst I was there and recommend you take a visit. Also available are Squashies Love Hearts, Squashies Drumsticks and Squashies Refreshers. So dive into a bag and enjoy the Squashieness! :-)

9 April 2013

Weetabix Breakfast Biscuits – Apple With A Hint Of Cinnamon (Boots) [By @cinabar]

I have been getting into these breakfast bars, as they are a quick an easy start to the day with a cup of coffee at my desk. While having a nosey at the foodie section in boots I spotted this new flavour from Weetabix, and as a big fan of cinnamon thought I’d give them a go.
These are the same format as the other Weetabix biscuits, there are four in the tray, and they look like elongated digestives. All four are meant as one 50g serving and contain just 220 calories they are also fortified with added vitamins and minerals to give you a good start to the day. The flavour has a hint of Weetabix about it, but still has a digestive taste. Mixed in are pieces of apple, which add a sharp apple taste, that isn’t too sweet. The fruity bits are sticky, but not unpleasant in textures. The cinnamon is gentle and adds a nice hint of warmth to the biscuit. I personally would have been a bit more heavy handed when adding the spice, but that just my personal preference.
In terms of convenience then it doesn’t get much easy than these as a breakfast food, and the mix of apple and cinnamon makes a nice change from a lot of the plainer flavours on the market. They are something I’d buy again, but the cinnamon granola from Kellogg’s still remains my favourite cinnamon breakfast treat.
By Cinabar

8 April 2013

McCoys – New Jacket Potato Crisps – Chilli Con Carne (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

McCoys new range of crisps all incorporate a new base jacket potato flavour. Fans of Foodstuff Finds will know I have a soft spot for jacket potato flavour crisps, and think that a plain potato flavour is a good a basic flavour as ready salted. I was a little disappointed to find that the new McCoys range doesn’t include a plain flavour, it focuses on interesting jacket potato toppings. The stronger sounding tastes still appealed, all new flavours are interesting and McCoys rarely go wrong. I decided to try the chilli con carne and jacket potato flavour first, if it’s going to be a strong taste, I may as well go for the hottest sounding ones!
The crisps had a good aromatic spice that was released once the bag was opened. The crisps are thick cut and ridged, with a good sprinkling of seasoning. The ridges mean that the added flavour really clings to the crisps, and the taste was lovely and full on. Impressively the background flavour of jacket potato worked well and added good buttery taste. Mostly though the chilli con carne shone through with meat and spices. The heat from the chilli was flavoursome, but not too hot, just a nice tingle. The spice may have been at an easy going level but the paprika and warm spices added a lovely seasoned flavour. There was a hint of saltiness too that mixed with the chilli flavour and made these crisps remarkably moreish and tasty.
I am really looking forward to trying the other flavours that have come out in the range, and the particularly have my eye on the sour cream and jalapeno ones!
By Cinabar

7 April 2013

Snow-made ice-cream & LorAnn's Flavour Fountain (chocolate fudge) [by @NLi10]

Snow-made ice-cream & LorAnn's Flavour Fountain (chocolate fudge) [by @NLi10]

Regular readers will be familiar with my cool home-made Ice-cream via this review right here.  We didn't try out all the flavours at the same time, as that would be very indulgent (and we had a freezer full of Ben & Jerry's Core so - you know...).

Eventually the time was right - after weeks of just normal weather the UK had some Easter snow.  So being the scientifically minded SnackHead that I am I wondered what would happen if we used that as fuel instead of hard ice.

For a start it looks a lot prettier, but it's a pain to shove in.  I used slightly less salt - reasoning that there is less frozen water in snow than ice - and we shook away.

In the Ingredients slot we used these:

The flavour fountain stuff is basically industrial quality ice-cream flavouring and the stuff that most ice-cream parlours must buy.  Ours came with the Play & Freeze as part of the gift.  It turns out you only need half a teaspoon to one of these cream pots so it's going to last a while!  Luckily you can make lush milkshakes with them too so they won't go stale - phew!

We violently shook the ball for a bit, gave it a stir with the plastic spatula and then added more snow & salt.

It wasn't as frozen as it was last time, so we just presumed the snow hadn't been as powerful in its freezing effect and ate away.  I even added mini marshmallows to the top!

It turns out that this brand of marshmallows is the really sugary course textured ones that I don't actually like - so I bravely ate the ones I'd added and took the rest of the bag to work for other people. :(

I didn't let this spoil the enjoyment of the actual ice-cream though.  The flavour was surprisingly strong and more like the artifical choc you get in deserts than any choc chip flavour, but very nice.  The only decent photo of the ice-cream shown above was a bit melty, but it came out more solid than this originally!

Also when we went to have our 2nd portion the freeze action had carried on and this was much more similar to traditional ice-cream texture.  Yum!

I can't wait to start making proper ice-creams and sorbets with this if we ever get warm weather (I still have a Snowman outside!) but I'm sure I'll find a way to talk about it!

6 April 2013

Beef Burger Handcooked Potato Crisps (Marks & Spencer) [By @SpectreUK]

Produced for Marks & Spencer these Beef Burger Handcooked Potato Crisps sounded like the perfect snack to enjoy indoors. The “Great British Summer” was emblazoned on the front of the 150g bag with an image of a moustachioed guy wearing an interesting apron cooking burgers on a barbecue. Even though there’s still snow on the ground in parts outside whilst I’m writing this blog and we all know that a “Great British Summer” usually consists of sprinting into the back garden between the multitude of showers to set up the barbecue and by the time you’ve got the fire going the next rain shower douses it out! Perhaps I’m being too negative or am I just talking from experience? More likely the later, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying a decent bag of crisps, and I do really like the apron that guy is wearing on the bag. Each 100g of these Beef Burger crisps has 505 calories, with 1g of sugar and 29g of fat. These crisps were vegetarian friendly. There were no artificial colours or flavourings in the ingredients, and they included; beef burger flavour seasoning (which must be a secret ingredient), barley, wheat, sugar, onions, vinegar, salt, citric acid, paprika, dill and sunflower oil. There was a beef, onion and dill smell to these crisps on opening the bag. There was a definite chargrilled beef burger flavour from the crisps, which goes with the smoked salt and paprika in the ingredients, also with a mild onion and dill flavour. These crisps had a lovely taste to them, which I’m sure would be enjoyed all year round. So don’t wait for it to be sunny (as you’ll most likely be waiting forever!), and pop open a bag of these Beef Burger crisps, get some dip ready (I'd recommend mayonnaise and mustard), a good film, probably a blanket, oh... and put the fire on!
By Spectre

5 April 2013

Wispa Hot Chocolate (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

There is part of me that feels that I shouldn’t review instant hot chocolates. I’m like a glutton for punishment, in that if I see a new make I’ll pick it up, but I am inevitably disappointed. I always think they should taste like they are made with hot milk and cream even though I’ve only added water. I like the flavoured hot chocolates as they do bring something different with them and have a fuller taste. Galaxy Orange was lovely, and the Maltesers hot choc have a good malty taste. It was with some nervousness that I saw this Wispa hot chocolate in Tesco as I love Cadburys to bits, but was wary of the product I was about the try.
I poured the contents of the sachet into my mug and added the boiling water. It crackled, it’s only the second hot chocolate I’ve ever tried that does this, the other being Galaxy. The hot chocolate mixed up really simply, and a thick layer of bubbles appeared prettily on the surface.
After it cooled a little I took my fist sip. I was impressed that it did actually taste like Dairy Milk in flavour, and not just a generic chocolate taste. Sadly though it was still too mild a taste for me. It was pleasant yes, but not soothing, or indulgent like a cup of hot chocolate should be. I know this is more down to my taste buds as others who tried the drink liked it. What can I say, I tried it, it was fine. I’ll stick to my Tassimo machine hot chocolate though, as the Cadbury Tassimo knocks the socks off this.
By Cinabar

4 April 2013

Jezyki Kokos (Polish Grocers) [By @NLi10]

Just a quick review of one of my Polish chocolate bar finds.  This is not something I'd probably have bought in English as it contains caramel, but I figured I'd had so much luck with the Polish import snacks and I love coconut so what could go wrong!

Essentially this is like a fat twix, with less caramel in height but more in width.  The caramel that is here is much more viscous and has a snap to it, and this is topped off with biscuit and coconut.  The proportions are a little off for me, I'd have more coconut and probably make the whole thing a bit thicker, but it's actually quite nice.

The flavour is very understated and is essentially just a biscuity caramely thing, with hints of coconut floating on the top.  I have another flavour of these to try. but I suspect it's just the same as this but without the coconut!

This isn't one I will rush out for, but I'm sure that if I require something more substantial than the wafer biscuits and I'm in the Polish grocers then I can continue to raid this range.

3 April 2013

Starburst – Flavour Morphs (WH Smiths) [By @SpectreUK]

These Starburst Flavour Morphs were made by the Wrigley Company, in Plymouth, UK. There were no artificial flavours or colours in the ingredients and for every 45g there were 181 calories, 3.2g of fat and a whopping 37.1g of sugar (I know... I know, I always appear surprised when I read the sugar content of sweets, and after all, they are called “sweets”, so the clue is in the name, but by all the Gods these are like sugar cubes dressed up in different colours!). There were three morphing flavours in the 152g sharing bag; Strawberry, which morphs to strawberry and pear, but I got pear straight away with a hint of strawberry, but still they were very tasty and moreish. Raspberry which morphs to raspberry and pear, here I definitely got raspberry first taste that pleasantly morphed to raspberry and pear to finish with. These were very nice indeed. The last flavour was cherry (not a favourite flavour of mine as regular readers may know) which morphs to cherry and lime. These were a very strong cherry flavour with not a hint of lime, which is a problem with tackling a strong flavour like cherry. As I’m not a fan of cherry flavoured sweets anyway, these were not my favourites, but I must point out that they tasted very fruity and natural indeed and I’m sure cherry fans would like them, but I didn’t get a lime flavour from these sweets at all. There was thankfully no banana flavour with these sweets, but two flavours morphing to pear was a little limiting in the creativity stakes. Still these flavours had the usual moreish taste (except the cherry), that can be expected from Starburst, and I enjoyed sharing them around the office to see my colleague’s reactions to the morphing flavours. The strawberry and raspberry flavours were the favourites, but there was one cherry fan in the office that scoffed the lot!
By Spectre