30 June 2013

Raw Chocolate, Rose & Pistachio by Ailey Mae (@notonthehighst) [by @NLi10]

The proverbial person who has everything must have all these things because everyone is buying them gifts.  But what if it's your turn? What do you buy for this mythical person who has everything?  We got an e-mail from Not On The High Street inviting us to sample a few of their answers.

Next on my list was this 45g bar of Raw Chocolate.  I've never knowingly had raw chocolate and wondered what it would be like. I love rose scented foods (having been given rose-hip syrup as a child and mentally linking the two) and pistachios are one of the all time best nuts so this seemed to be ideal.

The bar seemed larger than I expected for the weight.

It was neatly packed in foil and inside was some really dark choc with things in it - my favourite kind of chocolate!  I took a bite and...

...it was really soft. This confused me.  This has a texture that is far more like the centre of a chocolate from a box, or almost that of the best chocolate brownies.  It wasn't molten (in fact it was quite cold) but it was light without being full of air, and it was very unusual.  In fact I'd say I liked the sensation quite a lot!

It certainly has a non-factory taste to it too.  It's very, very fragrant and the rose sits nicely on top of the pistachio base flavour and the two are hugged together by a strong dark cocoa flavour.  And it's light enough that I could keep eating more!

There are a variety of flavours on the website and the chocolate artisan (their words not mine) has an Etsy too so you can pester them about your favourite flavour ideas. 

Is it expensive? Of course! Less so now I know that it's not just a small bar of chocolate, but a larger bar of something a little more truffle like.  Where as the Chocolate Pizza from last Sunday was a gift for someone who likes to eat a lot of chocolate or to share it, this is a deeply personal gift for someone who deserves a few quiet moments of indulgence. I think Cinabar would very much enjoy this!

If you have to post your gift to the person who has everything then this is small and would probably survive a trip via royal mail (mine did!) and is something that upon tasting shows that a lot of thought went into both the making and choosing of the product. Top notch!

29 June 2013

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Flavour Vegetable Crackers (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

I have always been a fan of hot snacks. These Scotch Bonnet Pepper Flavour Vegetable Crackers caught my eye in the local supermarket. They had a very Caribbean looking packet with the palm trees and the setting sun on the bright red packet. Made by NCS Snacks in Gosport and served in a 60g bag, there were 297 calories of crackers, with 7.14g of sugar and 15.42g of fat. Suitable for vegetarians, and made in a factory that uses peanuts, sesame seeds and shellfish, the ingredients of the crackers included; cassava, tapioca starch, sugar, leek, red chilli, salt, white pepper, galangal, paprika, tomato, wheat flour, herbs, and chilli powder. From the infamous Scotch Bonnet Pepper name and the red hot images on the packet, I was expecting these crackers to literally burn my head off!

You can see from the photograph that these crackers were a scorching red in colour and had a chilli and white pepper smell to them as I opened the packet. They were so hot that they made my nose run and by mouth burn with a strange sort of pleasurable fire. These crackers were very hot, very tasty indeed and were moreish in a masochistic type of way. They had an initial red chilli burn mixed with a strong tangy tomato flavour, with an aftertaste of white pepper and chilli. They had the heat quality that some snack foods have that once I had started eating them, I worried about stopping eating them considering the shear heat stopping eating would produce. These were a great, hot and healthy feeling snack that did exactly what I had anticipated. I would definitely have these again.
By Spectre

28 June 2013

New Cadbury Crunchums (WH Smiths @CadburyUK) [By @Cinabar]

There seems to be quite a few new goodies coming out Cadbury at the minute, which can only be a good thing! I recently reviewed the new Dairy Milk bar Strawberries and Creme, and now this grab bag has appeared on the shelves too.
Like the strawberry bar that was made with yoghurt, this too has a slightly European feel to it. Launched at the same time in France was a new product from Milka called Snax Cranchito which looks remarkably similar and shows the influence form Kraft I think.
I opened up the Cadbury bag, and found envelope shaped pieces of cereal dipped in chocolate. I don’t think these would work with milk, for those going down the cereal thought process! ;-) Once I bit in, I realised that the pieces were hollow, and very crunchy and crispy in texture. The flavour wasn’t what I was expecting at all. The cereal taste is almost like a tortilla chip in texture and flavour. Yes, it is even a little bit salty and wholesome, which worked perfectly with the sweet Cadbury chocolate coating them. I love that mix of sweet and savoury, my senses just can’t get enough of it.
These were very moreish and as you bite in you find your hand reaching for another, the bag did not last long. They really do tickle the taste buds.
I think if you are a fan of pretzels and chocolate, then you really aught to give these a try. They deliver the same sweet chocolate and salty tones that are just so moreish to munch on.
By Cinabar

27 June 2013

Kellog's All-Bran Breakfast Biscuits (Asda) [by @NLi10]

It's breakfast time again and that means biscuits!  Not the fun and fruity biscuits that we are now used to with milk and raspberries though - it's time for some roughage!

All joking aside if you want to eat a large amount of fibre then all-bran (or bran flakes) are the most tasty way to do it.  They have the recipe down pat and add the right amount of B vitamins to make it taste a little tangy and still be good for you.  And now they've made biscuits.

These are quite a heavy affair as you'd guess, but not as chocolatey as I'd expected.  They remind me of chocolate Shreddies (more fibre) which I did used to eat without milk sometimes due to their snacky nature.  This is similar in that it's quite tough and hard, but still quite nice.  I think these have less sweetness to them than most chocolate biscuits, but the flavour is still nice.

You get two in a pack in theory, but they are stuck together as one big biscuit which doesn't crumble too much so you could eat it on the bus or at your desk without making your keyboard too crunchy.

And that's all you can say really - it's more filling and a little more chocolatey than a typical breakfast biscuit but as you'd expect from the sensible part of the cereal aisle it just does it's job in a very unexciting way.  If you like normal All Bran then you'll probably like this.

26 June 2013

Bryson’s Coconut Crunch (@TebayServices) [By @SpectreUK]

Bryson’s of Keswick, in Cumbria were established in 1947, they have been craft bakers in the Lake District since then. These Coconut Crunch biscuits caught my eye when we visited our favourite service station on the way back from our holiday in Northumberland. The ingredients included; wheat flour, sugar, coconut, oats, water, inverted sugar syrup, butter, cane molasses, milk, ginger and cinnamon. First try of these rounded golden brown slabs of biscuit convinced me immediately that these biscuits were baked for dunking. These were hard biscuits for hardy Northern folk that probably have hardy Northern teeth to match. Not much of a dunker I chanced my old teeth on the first few biscuits. There were small pieces of coconut and oats in the biscuits. They had an oat and ginger flavour with coconut mixed in, finishing with a ginger and cinnamon aftertaste, and a hint of molasses. Slightly worried that the cracking sound was the enamel of my teeth and not the biscuits whilst I was eating them, I dunked the third biscuit into the only drink I had to hand at the time of blogging, which happened to be a pint of John Smith’s Extra Smooth bitter. The flavours in the biscuit mixed surprisingly well with the bitter ale, and the biscuit was then soft enough to eat with my old teeth quite comfortably. Other biscuits produced by Bryson’s are Almond Biscuits, Butter Ginger Biscuits, Ginger Parkin Biscuits and Chocolate Chip Biscuits, each a must try I’m certain of that, but don’t forget a hot coffee, chocolate drink or cup of tea if you’re in a dunking mood, or even a pint of bitter!
By Spectre

25 June 2013

Pom-Bear: Zoo Friends – Really Cheesy (Tesco) [By @cinabar]

I have discovered Pom-Bear crisps a little bit late in life, but I hold no shame in taking a pack regularly with my lunch to work. I am the kind of person that is swayed by novelty, and yes I do like the cute looking bear shaped crisps. They are also low in calories, so I can munch away with no guilt on my snack.
In fact this new edition comes in at less than 100 calories, so it is all good. Pom-Bears are traditionally bear crisps, but for the Zoo Friends variety we have lots of other new animals in the pack. There all sorts of creatures to identify, and I was quite enjoying plucking out lions, hippos and even tortoises form the bag! It was fine – nobody noticed my amusement of them while I was at work... I think. ;-)
The crisps had the usually Pom-Bears texture, which is light and crunchy, but which melts quickly on the tongue, making you want another. Oh yes, they are moreish! The flavour is quite gentle, it’s not too strong more like a gentle mellow cheese than being exactly “Really Cheesy” but it still worked perfectly on the crisps. Some cheese flavoured crisps can be very mature and musty, and this goes at the expense of good flavour. I’m pleased to see that Pom-Bear haven’t fallen into this trap. I liked the taste, as it was better balanced, and even allowed some of the potato taste to shine through too.
Again these will be a repeat purchase, as they are perfect for lunch times at work. I’ll try not to sort the animals next time though, just in case I get spotted! :-D
By Cinabar

24 June 2013

Masala Chai (Tea India) [By @cinabar]

To a lot of people tea means a regular cup with English Breakfast style leaves. But I have developed a taste for some more exotic teas, and now my ultimate favourite teas are the spiced ones. I have an unrivalled love for cinnamon and any tea that has similar notes, gets my vote. I even have a bottle of cinnamon syrup for coffees and hot chocolate!
Last November I tried out Tea India’s Cardamom Chai and thoroughly enjoyed it, so when they asked recently if I’d like to try their Masala Chai, I couldn’t resist giving it a go. This Masala Chai is heavier on the cinnamon than the cardamom variety, so I knew it would go down well.
The box is beautifully decorated, with an ornate tea pot design on the outside, and bright red box on the in. The tea if foil packed for extra freshness too.
I put the tea bag in my mug, added a little sugar and poured on the boiling water. This released the flavour, and the spicy aroma of cinnamon filled the kitchen. I let it brew for a few minutes before adding the milk.
This is a lovely warming drink; there is a decent amount of ginger and cinnamon that shines through, with the black tea just underneath. Its feels soothing and warming, the flavours are rich and strong, and the sugar enhances the taste of the spices perfectly. The fragrant flavour has a little kick of a peppery aftertaste, which does make this just a little bit unique. For me this is an everyday drink, just the perfect cuppa to sit down with at the end of the day, when you don’t want the stronger caffeine hit from coffee. If you haven’t tried Chai, and you want to know what the fuss is all about, this is where you should start.
By Cinabar

Blogger Competition: Cupcake Creative http://bit.ly/14lJpHx (@rangecookers)

I think you’ll find it no surprise that we love cupcakes at Foodstuff Finds. They are fun to bake, and even more fun to decorate! It’s one of those things were even a simple design can look stunning, providing all the toppings are put together well.
The lovely folk at Range Cookers are running a competition for bloggers to show off their cupcake baking and decorating skills and win a new oven. All you need to do is bake some cupcakes, decorate them, take photos of them and write a blog post about them which mentions Rangecookers.co.uk. Then let Range Cookers know by either posting a link on their facebook page or tweeting/emailing it to them. I’ve paraphrased a bit, but the full details are on the website: http://www.rangecookers.co.uk/cupcakecreative/ The other exciting news is that I’m helping to judge the entries!! This does however mean I can’t enter myself, but here is my post just for fun, and as an example. Good luck everybody!!! :-)

Cupcake – Basic sponge – (makes 24 small cupcakes)

250g butter
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (or whichever flavour takes your fancy)
185g self-raising flour
60g plain flour
185ml milk

Cupcake – Basic Icing (for 24 small cupcakes)

250g butter
500g icing sugar
A dash of milk
A tsp of vanilla extract. (or other flavouring and additional colouring of choice)

Cupcake cases
Selection of sweeties, premade icing shapes or other goodies for decoration


  • Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6
  • Place cupcake case on the baking tray.
  • Cream the butter and sugar
  • Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl with a fork.
  • Add the egg to the butter/sugar gradually and stir. If the mixture looks like its splitting add a tsp of plain flour.
  • Add in your flavouring of choice, I tend to go with a tsp of vanilla extract.
  • Gradually fold in the flour, adding the milk in gradually at the same time too.

  • Put the mixture into the cupcake case and bake for twenty mins. Keep an eye on them; they will look golden when cooked.
  • Allow them to cool in the tin for a few minutes, before transferring them to a cooling rack.

  • Once cool you can start on the icing.

  • Mix the butter and sugar, also mix in thoroughly any colourings of flavourings, and add a little milk to keep the mixture wet.
  • Add this to a piping bag, and decorate.
  • Then add whatever decoration you fancy.

See below for some of the ones I created.... You don’t have to come up with multiple designs to enter the competition; I was just having a bit of fun!

Romantic Rose
Made with vanilla icing, a premade iced red rose and red sugar sprinkles.

Bumble Bee
Made with chocolate icing (I didn’t have black), vanilla icing and yellow and bronze sugar decorations.

Birthday Style
Strawberry pink and vanilla icing, coloured sugar sprinkles and a chocolate button

Chocolate icing, sugar sprinkles, chocolate buttons and fudges pieces! Yum!

Coffee Deluxe
Coffee flavoured icing, dark chocolate coffee beans and bronze sugar sprinkles

Tutti- Frutti
Strawberry icing, tutti frutti sweets and bronze sugar decorations

Don’t forget to get you entries in for the competition!!!

23 June 2013

the Gourmet Chocolate Pizza Company - Yummy Scrummy Chocolate Pizza (by @NLi10)

The proverbial person who has everything must have all these things because everyone is buying them gifts. But what if it's your turn? What do you buy for this mythical person who has everything?  We got an e-mail from Not On The High Street inviting us to sample a few of their answers.

The first of which is this.  A chocolate pizza.

Most people's first reaction to this product is that it's a regular dough pizza with chocolate on it.  It isn't.  It certainly is about the size of a small pizza (a non sharing one) as you can see by the scale biscuits above. What it actually is though is a little bit cooler!

Dressed up like a pizza with all the toppings (notsmarties, marshmallows and white choc shavings) it's actually a really, REALLY large chocolate button!  And this is pretty cool.  It always gets the wow factor and is a joy to unwrap and reveal.

I unveiled this at poker night and while it had the wow factor the taste test wasn't that successful. The base chocolate is Galaxy like, the notsmarties are fine, the marshmallows are of an excellent quality though. While people enjoyed their slices there was no clamouring for extras and the pizza survived for another day as we moved onto other snacks, drinks and takeaways.

This day was a family birthday party for a three year old.  Here the pizza went down much better as everyone was already in the mood for iced rings, jelly and cake. People were naturally eating half slices so maybe it could be cut into 16ths if you are sharing it like this, but as a post pudding sweet treat it was demolished and enjoyed.  Again, those who like milder chocolates had more glowing reports, but I think the general reaction was more positive.

There are a variety of these on the Not On The High Street website and I probably went for one of the least adventurous. In terms of the actual 350g ish of chocolate they are very expensive, but I think that you are more buying a conversation starter and something that people will remember the party for than something that you merely snack on.

I think that the person who thought they had everything will be confused and entertained by this. It's much better for chocoholics, or people who enjoy letting other people eat their presents.

22 June 2013

Walkers Tiger Nuts – Sweet Chilli flavour (@walkers_crisps Tesco) [By @spectreUK]

I’ve always been a fan of coated peanuts, especially either salt and vinegar or chilli flavoured. They’re perfect for snacking either when I’m sitting down to watch a movie and fancy savoury or a gaming evening sitting with friends and sharing bowls of nuts and crisps. Walkers Tiger Nuts Sweet Chilli flavoured coated peanuts came in a 130g bag. Per 30g serving size there was 163 calories, with 10g of fat and 2.1g of sugar. The ingredients contained, gluten, wheat and barley, no artificial colours or preservatives and included; peanuts (obviously), rice flour, starch, salt, sugar, onion, red chilli pepper, black pepper, garlic, tomato, yeast, and citric acid, with beetroot and paprika for colour. On opening the packet these coated peanuts exuded heat with their fiery red chilli colour. I found their coating light and crispy, and their flavour had decent warmth to start with that increased as I ate more of them to a fiery burn. These coated peanuts didn’t have the usual sweet chilli flavour I’ve found on Walker’s crisps before; these chilli coated nuts had more of a chilli burn to them with a mild peppery aftertaste that caught the back of my mouth occasionally. They were very flavoursome and moreish, and I would certainly have them again. Other flavours of Tiger Nuts available are; Purrrfect Smoky Bacon, Fearless Salt and Vinegar, Exotic Sweet Chilli and Mighty Masala Curry. I’ll definitely have to hunt these other flavours down, as the Sweet Chilli flavour were “Grrreat!” Sorry to nick Tony the Tiger’s catchphrase! ;-)
By Spectre

21 June 2013

Eton Mess Dessert (@MarksandSpencer) [By @cinabar]

When it comes to luxury desserts, I think M&S is probably one of the best places to buy them from. They always have such a good selection of flavours and varieties, they have lots of imagination and the desserts change every season. There is so much there to keep a Foodstuff Finds blogger on her toes! My last visit resulted in me picking these up, and spotting a whole host of other goodies for later blog posts too.
These fine desserts are inspired by Eton Mess and look stunning with their striped meringues sitting on top! Underneath the meringues is layer of raspberry compote and vanilla mousse which is topped with white chocolate! Oh my! I wasn’t sure where to start with all that to be honest, so I decided to munch on the three meringues separately. Each one is striped with raspberry sauce, which just adds a nice fruity hint to the meringue. They have excellent texture, each meringue being crunchy to start with, but have a lovely soft fluffiness in the centre. There sugary goodness shone through. Next up I tackled the layered dessert in the pot. The white chocolate topping was thin, but sweet and gave way easily to the vanilla mousse. The mousse was super creamy and gently sweet, which balanced out the sharp zingy raspberry compote underneath. I loved the mix of flavours and the strong raspberry tasted was mellowed perfectly by the creamy topping.
What can I say; this is summer in a pot. It’s all there, sharp fruit berry flavours, soothing vanilla mousse and absolutely beautiful meringues topping it all off. The perfect match of contrasting tastes.
By Cinabar

20 June 2013

Seed Stacked - Sprinkle Some Goodness & Organic Wholemeal CousCous [by @NLi10]

Veggie/vegan food is as exciting as you want it to be. Here we have some odd seeds that I found in the fruit and veg section of Asda.  The usual bits - herbs spices and (sunflower/pumpkin/sesame/flax) seeds with the tiniest bits of sun dried tomato. Boil the kettle pour on the couscous and then mix this in and you have a great vegetarian dinner...

that is ready to be contaminated with some lovely ham!

The seed mix really does add to the couscous in the same way that adding your own herbs and spices does. The main difference is that it not only adds to the texture but the flavours are less homogenous.  I think this is a good alternative to buying the pre-flavoured couscous (which I stopped doing ages ago now) but they aren't that cheap (£1 per sachet) so you'd maybe be better off rationing them over 3 portions so that the flavours and the contents go further.  A family of four portion I guess! (they suggest its two servings per pack)

I like the good, strong flavours and the idea that you can simplify making healthy food more exciting is certainly one we approve of.  Not to difficult to mix something like this up yourself though I guess!

19 June 2013

Skittles Riddles (@Yankee_pop) [By @SpectreUK]

Skittles have always been a big favourite of mine for such small juicy “bite size” sweets. Made by Wrigley in Chicago, Skittles Riddles’s selling point is that their colours don’t match their flavours. There were five colours in the 56.7g packet, which had 220 calories, with 2.5g of fat, 40g of sugar, and were gluten and gelatin free. The pink colour was watermelon, which had a strong and juicy watermelon flavour. Green was cherry or Punch flavour, which was not too bad on the cherry front. I never have liked cherry flavoured sweets though, so they were not my favourite of the five flavours. Turquoise was raspberry flavour. There weren’t many of these in the packet, and they tasted of a light raspberry flavour. Dark blue was apple flavour, which had a good clean natural apple taste after a good suck. Dark red was strawberry flavour, which had a strong tang, but not exactly of strawberry. Still all these Skittles were enjoyable to munch on and made my mouth water. I really enjoyed sucking all the flavour out of them. These sweets were very tasty and moreish, asides the Punch for obvious reasons! These Skittles reminded me that I should buy Skittles more often, instead of chocolate or the usual gummy favourites.
By Spectre
These Skittles Riddles were kindly provided by the lovely folks at Yankee Pop for review.

18 June 2013

New Maryland Gooeys – Triple Choc [By @cinabar]

We took these new biscuits from Maryland on a picnic us with for afternoon snacking at an air show. This was significant in that it meant I couldn’t test them with my usual biscuit eating methodology, dunking. Our picnic was fuelled simply with lemonade and fruit juice and there was no thermos of tea or coffee to dunk them in. Having said that, I knew they had a soft centre, so I thought they just might be okay.
I also couldn’t have been more right. I am a huge chocolate fan, and the idea of a triple chocolate biscuit couldn’t be more up my street. The biscuits have a gooey chocolaty centre, a chocolate biscuit and white chocolate chips too! I was impressed by the mix of textures. I’d originally thought that these biscuits would be like American style cookies, were the whole thing is quite soft, but that’s not what these are like at all. The biscuit itself is just as firm as a regular Maryland biscuit; it just has a filling of a rich chocolate paste in the middle. I loved the feel of these biscuits, and the fact that they are bursting with chocolate and lovely and moist in the middle, but still maintaining a decent crunch.
The chocolaty flavour was rich and plentiful, but there was still a lovely background taste of wholesome fresh biscuit. These were the perfect picnic treat! I also didn’t miss dunking them in a coffee, they were perfect exactly as they are. There are other flavours available too namely (regular) chocolate and hazelnut, which I’m going to have to try out very soon!
By Cinabar

17 June 2013

Dairy Milk Strawberries And Creme [Summer Limited Edition] (WH Smiths) [By @cinabar]

What says summer in Britain better than the combination of strawberries and cream? Just the thought of them and we also picture Wimbledon, barbecues and, with a bit of luck, a bit of sunshine too. Sadly the sun may not always be willing but that gives us fuel for our other national tradition, moaning about the weather!
Cadbury has cottoned on to our summer associations and created their new Limited Edition bar, comprising of a fruity sounding Strawberries And Creme. Yes that last word is ‘Creme’ not ‘Cream’ strangely enough.
I unwrapped the bar, and the sweet smell of fruit and chocolate filled the air. It smelt divine. I broke a piece off and could see the firm pink filling nestled under the Dairy Milk. I tried a first piece and really enjoyed it. The strawberry centre was sweet and fruity, but had a hint of sourness, not from the strawberries but like a yoghurt taste. Confused by this I had a closer inspection of the wrapper and low and behold on the back of the pack this chocolate is described as “with a yoghurt and strawberry flavour filling”. Well, that’s not a particularly British taste anymore, it is much more European, and something you’d expect filling a Milka bar, not a Cadbury one.
Having put that aside, I can’t tell you I didn’t love the new bar. The strawberry is strong and has bite, it is balanced by the thick coating of Dairy Milk and that slight hint of sour from the yoghurt gives it a lovely grown up feel. Its fruity and vibrant, and I will certainly be buying it again. If you are the kind of person who favours the soft fruit centres in tins of chocolates, this bar is effectively a giant strawberry cream. Whatever the influence it is lovely to see something new and innovative for Cadbury. I’d be in heaven if they released an orange creme edition too!
By Cinabar

16 June 2013

Moo Free Organic Dairy Free Choc + Montezuma's Sea Dog - One Earth [by @NLi10]

Moo Free Organic Dairy Free Choc + Montezuma's Sea Dog Dark Chocolate With Lime & Sea Salt - from One Earth, Digbeth Birmingham

On one of my far too infrequent visits to One Earth in my home town I came across a couple of odd chocolates.

The first of these is vegan milk chocolate! Like most products this was not something I'd ever thought about.  Vegans don't want to consume milk, chocolate is typically made with milk, sadness occurs.  Replacing this with rice milk allows everyone to join in which is great. This has cute hamsters and proclaims itself to be scrummy so is certainly worth a try.

Turns out its not as odd as you'd expect.  It doesn't taste like high-end milk chocolate, but it's much more similar to the cheaper end of the spectrum than I'd expected.  This isn't to say that it's not nice - it is - but there isn't the creaminess that I've come to expect, which is totally understandable. Instead there is a kind of unusual taste floating around, but it's 100% chocolate.

It has none of the terrible texture problems of carob based snacks, and instead is a suitable chocolate for those that don't like their cocoa products weaponised (like I do - see below). My partner (vegetarian) quite liked it and said that you couldn't really tell that it was not dairy.

Our next product goes down the more traditional route of replacing the dairy with more sugar and cocoa solids to form a product that is 70% cocoa solids and 99% dark choc.

But what is that remaining 1%?

Salt and Lime

I'm not that fussed about chocolates that don't have lots of coconut or biscuit in them (Bounty or Twix > Dairy Milk) unless it's seriously potent dark chocolate. This has more than enough going for it to be very exciting.

The first hint of flavour is the lime - which instantly kicks me back to a Thornton's choc lolly from the olden days which was green and powerful and perfect for a growing lad.  I'm guessing it fell out of favour as I haven't seen that in years.  Next up the chocolate itself appears, all warm and earthy and lovely and dark. Then as you chew there are little, uneven pockets of salt that pop up and give you a nice surprise.

While the Moo Free is incredibly good at doing what it set out to do this is just incredible.  My buddy and I ate half a bar of this while playing board games which was not that unusual for him but more unusual for me.  I have resisted so far but did sneak a few cubes to help with the review. Unlike the Montezuma's Chilli (which was nice but so hot I struggled to enjoy it) I can happily grab a bar of this occasionally.  

15 June 2013

Phileas Fogg Mexican Taco Rolls – Nacho Cheese & Jalapeno (Sainsburys) [By @SpectreUK]

These new Nacho Cheese & Jalapeno flavour Mexican Taco Rolls by Phileas Fogg came in a 190g bag. Each 30g serving contained 157 calories, with 0.9g of sugar and 8.8g of fat. The ingredients contained no artificial colours or flavours and the Taco Rolls were made with 100% sunflower oil. The ingredients included maize, dried processed cheese, paprika, turmeric, salt, sugar, yeast extract, dried onion, jalapeno pepper, cumin, red chilli pepper, dried garlic, citric acid, chilli powder, dried parsley and oregano. The rolls had impressive curled shapes and were about four centimetres long. I’m sure Phileas Fogg used some new fangled equipment or machine to make the Taco Rolls, but probably could have done the job just as well winding them around an old pencil (seeing as though not many people seem to use pencils for writing or drawing anymore...). Their flavour started with a strong cheesy taste followed by a mild jalapeno spice, which in no way tingled the tongue or left me gasping for air or cold water. However the front of the packet never promised nose tingling burning heat from these Taco Rolls, so I wasn’t disappointed by the lack of burn in the flavour. There was also a heavy paprika and garlic aftertaste mixed in with the cheese and jalapenos. As you can see from the photograph, I enjoyed dipping my Taco Rolls into mayonnaise, but you could try dipping them into a hot chilli, tomato salsa or even guacamole (if you can find a Gremlin to put in a blender).
By Spectre

14 June 2013

Costa Giant Chocolate Tea Cake (@CostaCoffee) [By @cinabar]

Last month I had a lovely shopping day with my mum and stopped off for an Eton Mess Muffin in Costa to finish the afternoon off. While we were there we were very much aware that there were quite a few other new goodies appearing on the shelves for summer and made a note to sample some more next time we were in town.
Obviously when we went back some kind of chocolaty treat was in order and the Giant Tea Cakes caught our eye. If you’ve ever bought own brand chocolate tea cakes, unwrapped the packet and been disappointed at the size of the cakes, then the new ones from Costa were made for you! You certainly can’t complain about the dimensions of these tea cakes, they are fab!
The coating on the outside is a really good quality milk chocolate too, and it isn’t too flimsy, but it does give way nicely to the fluffy mallow inside. The base is like a firm chocolate sponge, and does hold the item together well. The only negative comment I have is that the jam in centre of both mine and my mum’s was almost nonexistent. There was a poster advertising these in the shop and that showed a generous dollop of jam but in reality ours had the jam almost missing. There was just a little bit of stickiness under the mallow in the centre. I wonder if they both just came from a dodgy batch? If it means I have to go back and have another one to investigate then so be it, I will take up that challenge for you. :-)
I don’t want to be to negative though because we thoroughly enjoyed our giant tea cakes, and ice lattes, they made the perfect sunny afternoon treat.
By Cinabar

13 June 2013

Esquires - Chicken & Spanish Chorizo Melt with Spicy Salso Mayo [by @NLi10] @PeekayPenguin

Ah - the boring old British sandwich. Most places these days seem to know that once you've entered their establishment you will just choose your favourite from the selection on offer and lump it.  Not so for this penguin!

It's a bit of an odd one though - I was given this by a relative whose neighbours had some left over.  I'm not sure whether it was just from where they work, or they make them, but who am I to turn down a free lunch? I popped it in the oven for a bit to give it a fighting chance.

The bread is a little more interesting than usual, being more in line with the quality of bread you'd buy rather than the hard stuff you usually find on lunch bars.  What really caught my eye was the variety of things that were inside.  They easily could have added all these words to make us excited and to purchase it knowing full well that we probably wouldn't ever come across the brand again, but inside of this there is quality.

I often make a fuss about being able to taste all of the things on the package - and this certainly passes the test (excluding the penguin naturally). The chicken and sausage play off each other like in a nice spanish tapas dish. The pepper and spinach are proportional to the rest of the ingredients and the salsa mayo is good enough to want to buy - it's similar to Nando's perinaise in some respects.  I'm no fan of cheese but that held it together nicely and didn't overpower the other flavours.

I'd happy walk a bit further and pay a bit more to be able to have these at work for lunch rather than the sad, pre-packaged sandwiches we have on offer (luckily due to the sandwich bar making things for us fresh I go for wraps and panini instead).

Turns out Esquires is a UK coffee chain, just not near me! The website had other tasty choices too - maybe a day out in one of their locations is in order (maybe even my old Uni town of Durham!).

12 June 2013

Master Rice Thins - Sweet Chilli Flavour Rice Snacks (Home Bargains) [By @SpectreUK]

I’m not a big fan of rice snacks as even passing a packet of Snack-a-Jacks in a shop can easily suck all the moisture from my body. So I was more than a little apprehensive when Cinabar’s colleague recommended these Master Rice Thins as his favourite snack. Apparently his wife had bought them as a low fat treat one day and he has been hooked on them ever since. With this über positive review I just had to try them, and maybe even I would become irrevocably hooked on them too! There was a garlic, paprika and chilli smell on opening the packet, but no garlic and paprika were listed in the ingredients. The ingredients were gluten free, vegetarian friendly and contained rice flour, rice bean oil, sugar, salt, chilli powder, and a few ‘e’ numbers as flavour enhancers, antioxidants and anticaking agents. The 100g packet of rice thins sported “less than 10% fat” as they were baked and not fried. There were 404 calories in the packet with 3.2g of sugar and 4.2g of fat. So these rice thins are really good for you. There was sweetness in the initial flavour followed by a succulent chilli burn. On first bite I found the rice thins ludicrously tasty and moreish to the extreme. No wonder Cinabar’s colleague is hooked on them. I ate the whole packet in one sitting and found them difficult to share. They burn the tongue after a while leaving the whole mouth tingly, yet moist and begging for more. If you don’t buy anything else in Home Bargains, buy these Master Rice Thins, but please leave me a few packets on the shelf!
By Spectre

11 June 2013

Walnut Whip Mini Cup Cakes (Marks & Spencer) [By @cinabar]

If you are a fan of the humble Walnut Whip you will also probably know that the very best place to find them is Marks & Spencer. They always have the classic style ones, and usually some limited edition whips, such as Easter ones or whatever is seasonal. Marks & Spencer is actually celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the walnut whip, so they have gone to town a bit with the goodies available. The range now has all sorts of thing in, ranging from giant whips to these Mini Cupcakes. I couldn’t resist picking up a box to try out.
After getting them home I soon realised that the clear plastic on top of the box was incredibly flimsy and despite the card lightly supporting the sides, the top had touched the whips within the box, even though I hadn’t carried anything else in the bag. Oh well. Once the packaging was off they still looked quite pretty! There are nine mini walnut whip cupcakes in the pack, laid out in three rows of three. Each one consists of a chocolate sponge, soft chocolate icing, a small dollop of vanilla whip and a few sprinklings of walnut pieces. This review sits in the category of the item was tasty, but didn’t quite do what it said on the tin. There wasn’t much nut flavour from the walnut, the pieces were too small and got lost in the overall product. The white whip was lovely, and would have been a purer experience if this had been the only topping on the cupcake, ie instead of the chocolate icing. The key ingredients to a walnut whip are the nut and the fluffy white filling both of which were underrepresented in theses mini cupcakes. Having said that I’d be lying to you if I tried to claim that these didn’t go down well and taste good. They were taken with us on a picnic and their chocolaty goodness meant that they didn’t last long. The sponge was soft and rich with plenty of chocolate flavour. The icing added a lovely chocolate hit and the fact that looked so cute meant we were on to a winner. I liked the dollop of vanilla whip, it was the same as proper whip’s filling I just found myself wishing there was more of it! Ditto the walnuts, they could easily put a bigger piece of nut on top. Come to think of it, these mini cupcakes should have been filled with whip, that would have been perfect.
If you are wanting a purer novelty walnut whip experience I’m thinking you’d be better off pick up one the giant ones currently for sale in M&S, (I’m trying to resist the urge)! If you just want to get some different but mainly chocolate mini cupcakes, there won’t be any complaints from these because they are still all super tasty.
By Cinabar

10 June 2013

Mount Dew Sugar Free (WH Smiths) [By @cinabar]

As excited as I was when Mount Dew made it to British shores, I was also a little disappointed about the lack of a Diet or Sugar Free version. I know I have a sweet tooth and I might not strike you as the kind of person who is constantly worrying about calories, but I do tend to buy sugar free soft drinks. Call it compensation for all the other goodies! :-D
Anyway on a recent road trip Spectre and I found ourselves at Holy Island, looking forward to the walk up to the very beautiful Lindisfarne castle. Amongst our supplies we included a couple of bottles of Mount Dew Sugar Free to help fuel us. Yes I’m aware walking up the hill we probably could have been excused a full sugar drink, but the caffeine would have to be enough!
We cracked open the bottle and found a lovely refreshing citrus drink. It was impressively fizzy, but the orange, lemon and lime tones were fruity and zingy on a hot day. I enjoyed the drink and think the caffeine boost probably helped us along the way. Spectre’s more of a traditionalist and although he finished his off with no complaints, when pushed he did admit he’d choose Sprite over it next time.
The drink got the thumbs up from me, and I enjoyed the refreshing citrus taste. I’m also really pleased to see the sugar free version, and it is something I’ll buy again. Particularly as these came from the branch of WH Smiths near where I work, and sometimes I do need a bit of a caffeine boost to get through Monday morning blues!
By Cinabar

9 June 2013

Um Bongo Original & Orang-utan (Asda & Tesco) [by @NLi10]

A while back, while reviewing some Ribena I happened to mention that it reminded me of Um Bongo. Well the people at Um Bongo saw this and soon enough I had a couple of cartons to try out!

I wasn't overjoyed however, as Cinabar had tried some modern Um Bongo back in 2009 and it didn't live up to the hype.

A quick glance at the packaging told me that this wasn't that imitation - this was the real deal!

It even has silly rhymes and messages from the animals on the carton

And more importantly no bananas, just the ingredients from the original song!

This truly is the original 1983 mix of flavours that is jumbled up but somehow unique.  It's very refreshing and worth a trip down memory lane as it goes on general supermarket release for the summer. I'm no Um Bongo expert (Umbongologist?) but my little sister is so after I had a few drinks and it tasted authentic (but maybe a little weaker) to me I took half a carton for her to try.

She agreed that this tasted a lot more similar to the original recipe, but that it was perhaps less strong.  Maybe there is less artificial things in it these days.  It's certainly still very nice!

The Orange variety is a different idea - essentially this is like the vitamin enhanced Orange drinks of my youth.  This I am more familiar with and while it doesn't taste like normal Orange juice (carton or squeezed) it's a familiar taste that I do quite like.  I think the overeall sweetness of it would appeal more to kids, but it's certainly not as orangey as Innocent's modern versions (and dare I mention - it reminds me of Kia-ora?)

8 June 2013

Palanquin – Spiced Tea (Tesco)[By @SpectreUK]

This traditional Masala Chai Spiced Tea from Palanquin is a blend of tea, cinnamon, ginger, clove, black pepper and cardamom. The 125g box had 40 square teabags in it that smelt of rich spices. Once made and with a dash of milk the tea exuded warmth and spice that tingled the senses. Ginger, clove, cinnamon and cardamom mixed together dreamily in the smell. Where clove and cardamom were the leading initial flavours in the taste, the other spices mixed perfectly with a touch of black pepper to finish. The back of the box stated that whilst the tea provides the antioxidants for the freshness of the tea, the cinnamon provides the warm spice to the tea helping with aching joints. The ginger adds further warmth with its spice whilst boosting circulation, relaxing blood vessels and helping to detox the body. The clove has antiseptic qualities, fighting against colds and flu revitalizing and re-establishing body heat. The black pepper eases aches and pains and adding further warmth to this drink and your body upon drinking. Finally the cardamom is used to fuel the mind and helps with bloating, fluid retention and digestion. This was a very refreshing and healthy feeling drink. With its warming qualities and healing affects it’s difficult to put any fault at its door. The mix of spices in this brew merged together perfectly for a comforting after meal drink to help with the digestion and a relaxing end of day drink to sooth me off to sleep. Palanquin also produces Red Bush, Kenya Tea, Cardamom Tea, Ginger Herbal Tea, Spearmint Herbal Tea, Red Bush Spiced and Red Bush Cardamom. With the excellent quality of this Spiced Tea, I’ll have to hunt them out!
By Spectre

7 June 2013

Moorland Pudding aka Bramley Apple & Winberry Pie (@TebayServices)

This is another of the treasures I picked up at our favourite Tebay Services. All the fruit pies were laid out on a big stand and I fancied getting a nice dessert to help with post holiday blues. I was trying to decide which flavour pie to buy, when the winberry pie caught my eye. Spectre asked what winberries were and I explained I had no idea and that I'd never tasted them before. This sealed the deal, winberries were go!
On closer inspection it turns out the winberry pie also contains apple for sweetness, has a crumble top and a pastry base. Google informs me that winberries are a relative of blueberries, but that they grow better in cooler climates. I wish we'd known this before buying the blueberry bush in our garden which never seems to get enough sun for a decent crop!
The pie just needed heating in the oven before serving to warm it through and we had it with hot custard despite the pack recommending ice cream.
The berries inside the pie were a lovely dark purple colour and looked really nice. The flavour was quite soft, not bitey and sharp like blackcurrants. The taste was syrupy and mellow with a nice sweetness shining through from the apple. The crumble and the pastry gave the pie substance, and worked well with the custard. I was so impressed with the smooth sweet berry taste I really want to get a winberry bush for the garden! We have blackcurrants and raspberries and these would be perfect for my jam making!
Thanks again to the lovely Tebay for introducing me to a new fruit, and a fabulous pie. ;-)
By Cinabar