30 April 2014

New Rowntree’s Randoms Tandems (WHSmiths) [By @SpectreUK]

I've always been a big fan of Rowntree's gummies. Cinabar found these New Rowntree’s Randoms Tandems in a shop near her work. Apparently Foodstufffinds has a fan there who saves Cinabar goodies for us to write about (so a quick "hello" and "thank you" from me). These are called "Tandems"because they are both jelly and foam. On opening the bag there was quite a strong strawberry smell. I noticed a lot of the gummy sweets had pink strawberry coloured bases, there were also a few with a white bases. When I tore the attached gummies apart from their bases with my teeth I found that the orange was orange flavoured, and the green gummy was apple flavoured. Whereas light red was strawberry flavoured, and the darker red was raspberry. Dark purple was black currant flavour. The pink foam bases tasted like strawberry, but I noticed that there was no strawberry juice in the ingredients. These gummies had the usual squidgy Rowntree’s texture with natural fruity flavours. The Random shapes were a mixture of hot air balloons, cute turtles, sweets, paint brushes, trees, tennis rackets, chess pieces, and a beat box. The turtles, hot air balloons and trees had the most fruit gum on them. I disturbed Cinabar at one point when I violently tore the head off a screaming Tandem turtle to leave it to "bleed" out on the side! These part gummy part foam Tandems were quite large sweets, and the Random shapes could easily bring the child out in anyone. I thought these Rowntree’s Randoms Tandems were really very tasty, fun to eat, and very moreish. I would certainly have these again.

Information on the bag;
Made by Nestle in York. 150g bag with each two sweet serving containing 50 calories (geez!), with 1% fat (trace) and 8.9g of sugar. The ingredients contained fruit juice, with no artificial colours or flavours. Not suitable for vegetarians as they contained gelatine. Please see photograph for ingredients.
By Spectre

29 April 2014

Tic Tac - Apple Burst (New UK Sweets, WH Smiths) [By @Cinabar]

As I was browsing in Smiths I spotted the new flavour of Tic Tacs on the shelf. They were in a four pack for the reasonable sum of £1. I do love the £1 offers in WH Smiths, firstly they are good value and secondly they seem to cover all the new products so are always up my street! :-)
This new flavour is called Apple Burst so is a fruity addition to the range. Inside the pack there are Tic Tacs in two new shades of green, light and dark. The light aren’t similar to the Lime ones in colour, they are aren’t quite as bright as that. There are two tones of flavours too, but to be fair they are quite similar. One of the flavours is a slightly sweet apple and the other is slightly sour version. Both are quite fresh tasting and full on, and start with a strong apple taste, one then mellows and the other leaves a slightly zingy hint.
I did quite enjoy this Tic Tacs, and will happily eat up the rest that were purchased. I say “I” but to be honest they are on my desk at work, so they will get a communal picking over from the team too! I do like Tic Tacs and it is nice to see a new flavour on the shelves, but apple doesn’t seem that different or special. Nice yes, but certainly not a flavour I’ll be panic buying if it becomes a Limited Edition. We have had some great flavours released in the past, but perhaps the British public don’t really go for them? I think the crazy days of Grape and Lychee are long gone sadly.
By Cinabar

28 April 2014

Cappuccino Whip [Chocolate] (@MarksAndSpencer) [By @Cinabar]

I’ve been saying for a while now that there should be more coffee and chocolate combos on the market. It was a sad day when Lindt discontinued their Coffee Intense bar and it left us coffee fans having to search elsewhere for our coffee fix. It seems to be becoming a bit more of a popular ingredient now and when I heard these Cappuccino Whips announced on Twitter, I knew I would have a stop off at Marks to pick some up!
They are a twist on the original Walnut Whip, which has always been available in an array of flavours in Marks, but it is the first time I have seen a coffee edition. The Whip is topped with a white chocolate bean flavoured with coffee and has a coffee-cream flavoured whippy filling inside. To begin I picked off the bean and found it to be a rather sweet candy like tasty bite. More decoration that quality, but it looked pretty enough. The filling of a Whip is always very fluffy and moist, and this one is no exception.

The Cappuccino Whip has lovely thick,fairly solid, milk chocolate that is sweet but melts sumptuously in the mouth. The coffee filling is sweet too but with a hint of bitter flavour and a creamy aftertaste. The chocolate works well with the coffee taste, and the whole thing effectively becomes a giant coffee cream. As a coffee lover I thought this was a lovely treat, and definitely a pack I’ll be picking up again and again.
My only gripe was that when I got the box home I noticed there was a sticker on the pack that said: “2 for £2.50”, if I’d only realised this I’d have picked up a second box. I don’t know how much a singular box is, but I wouldn’t have needed much encouragement to buy another pack! I’m annoyed with myself for not spotting it sooner!
By Cinabar

27 April 2014

Sweet Potato Snack (SoEasy - Birmingham) [Review by @NLi10]

Gamer snacks alert! 

While doing a double pre-release for Magic - a paper card game - I got hungry and didn't really have a time slot for an actual meal so I popped to the local Oriental Grocers.  SoEasy has a wide selection of drinks for me to keep me going (proper teas, Pocari Sweat, Aloe Vera drinks) but less that I could eat on the go.  

I looked at all the hard noodles that I could buy to take home, but settled on the things that could just be eaten straight out of the bag.  I settled on this Sweet Potato snack.  The guy on the bag seemed happy enough and they looked like the euro-crisps that I ate and liked in Norway.

These aren't actually as straight forwards as I expected - they seem to be sugar coated crisps snacks.  They have sunflower seeds sesame seeds - see comments, and the potato itself, a few other mystery flavours and the sugar coating.

I was worried that these would be a little crazy and a one off purchase.  Actually the combo really works and I enjoyed them so much I only shared them with a few people. Sometimes import snacks are a bit expensive - they have to be especially shipped over - but at 99p per bag they are something I could easily justify buying again.  

I'm still not sure who these were actually made by but I will try to find that out and then trawl the other flavours in the range.

26 April 2014

Shandy Carib Lime (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

I've always been partial to a sweet lemonade shandy, so when I saw this imported bottle of Shandy Carib Lime in a local supermarket, I couldn't help but pick it up and put it in my basket. I say "lemonade" shandy and mean only a smidgen of beer compared to the amount of lemonade added. In a pub if you ask for a shandy, you generally receive a pint of half and half.

There's something refreshing about a sweet lemonade shandy that reminds me of Summer. Sitting in the garden on a peaceful hot sunny day with a good book and a sweet shandy on the side. Ben Shaw's Shandy and Schweppes' Shandy are two of my favourite sweet shandys. I usually have a can or two if I have a break in the garden to read or when I'm doing some gardening. I do love to plant various vegetables and salady things in the Spring and then watch them grow until I have a good harvest or more likely they get eaten by slugs!

On popping open the Shandy Carib Lime bottle there was a strong lime smell followed by a good beer aroma. The lager shandy had a decent fizz and quite a strong lime flavour, which was mixed well with the lager shandy taste. There was a lovely caramel sweetness that finished off the overall flavour of this Shandy Carib Lime that not only left me refreshed, but left my lips smacking and tongue begging for more. Shame it was only a small bottle, as I could quite happily drink this Shandy Carib Lime until the cows come home. I'll have to pop back to the shop, buy some more of this sweet lime shandy and hope for a sunny Summer. Cheers!

Information on the label;
330ml glass bottle with 1.2% volume. Imported Shandy Lime brewed by Carib Brewery, in Trinidad, in the Caribbean. Lager beer with natural flavour and artificial colours. Ingredients included; water, beer, sugar, natural lime flavour, citric acid, caramel, and artificial colours.
By Spectre

25 April 2014

Fox’s Party Rings - Blueberry Muffin biscuits (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

The new Fox’s range of biscuits is all American in flavour. The packets are adorned with the Stars and Stripes and the flavours are from across the ocean, the range is called “Vinnie’s Taste of America”. There are few new goodies out, but the first to catch my eye was the Party Rings. I haven’t had Party Rings since I was a child, but I did used to love them. Naturally when I opened up the packet they looked smaller than I remembered, but isn’t that always the way? I guess I grew!
Each one was a very pretty lilac in colour, but the most significant thing was the aroma. It practically screamed blueberry! There was nothing subtle in the smell, and it worried me the flavour might be overpowering.
The biscuits are a firm crunchy thin biscuit and the hard icing add to this. As I ate the first one I remembered that I used to like sucking the icing off as a child, and then eating the biscuit underneath. I didn’t do that this time, I went for a simple crunchy bite and just enjoyed the flavours. The berry smell was much milder as a taste, thankfully. Although it was still distinctly blueberry it seemed balanced and fruity and fresh. Yes it was a little stronger than other fruity biscuits but it was on the side of fun and playful. The biscuit underneath was creamy and sweet and thoroughly enjoyable, and provided a rather enjoyable sugar hit.
I can’t wait to try the Key Lime Pie biscuits next!
By Cinabar

24 April 2014

Tiffany Eclairs - choc, hazelnut and milk [review by @NLi10]

At work sometimes there are sweets at the top of the stairs.  I am aware that I eat (far) too many sweets as it is so I resist almost all of them.  In this case I spotted something that I hadn't seen for a good while - Eclairs with different flavour centres.

Now I know Cadbury's have flirted with this over the years as I've had some, and I used to get a white choc centred one from a pick'n'mix place that was by my grandparents old house, but I haven't had these as an adult so I figured I'd have a try.

First up was the baseline - chocolate eclair.  Decent toffee, maybe a little sweet to cover up for the cheapness, but unsweet choc to balance it so pretty nice and edible.  We've been spoilt by Cadbury's Eclairs over the years, so anything that tastes off brand is very noticeable, but this was a decent alternative and boded well for the remaining flavours.

Next up I tried the milk flavour.  I had to double check the bag for this one as I'd presumed it was white chocolate, but it is indeed just a milky fondant substance.  It wasn't unpleasant but then it wasn't really strong enough to fight off the toffee. It was a nice sweet, but just a toffee with a squishy centre.

The Hazelnut one was last up and as I'd hoped the most interesting of the bunch.  It was again more toffee with a hint of, but the darker flavour of the Nutella-like substance helped tip it over the edge.  I'd have gone back for a second one of these, but they'd all been eaten or squirrelled away by that time.  It got me wondering whether there are official Nutella Eclairs and while there kind of are (in the pastry sense) I think the sweets would work too.

23 April 2014

Strongbow Cider Dark Fruit (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

I must admit I do like the odd cider now and again, and this Strongbow Cider Dark Fruit certainly sounded like an odd cider. On opening there was a very heavy smell of blackcurrant and blackberry, both together, with a hint of cider apple right at the end of the aroma. On pouring this cider into my slightly bemused beer mug this Dark Fruit cider was a purple colour and had a decent fizz to it. There was barely any cider taste to this drink, it was mainly blackcurrant in flavour to start with and then blackberry, but both fruits were mixed well together. This beverage was like a fizzy strong Ribena drink. The taste was very much like a Dark Fruit pop rather than cider. Though there was complexity to the flavour of this drink that went beyond the pub drink of adding a dash of blackcurrant to a pint of cider. This drink would be perfect for a person who doesn’t like cider or beer and doesn’t want to sample the traditional taste of alcohol. In fact I'm sure you could drink quite a few bottles of it and find yourself under the table, but you wouldn't know how or why you got there. This cider is not something I’d buy again, but I'm certain there's a decent market out there for it. Cider and Black anyone?

Information on the label:
500ml bottle at 4% volume. Produced by HP Bulmer Ltd, in Hereford. The label stated that this beverage is Strongbow Cider with a refreshing blend of dark fruit; blackcurrant and blackberry juices and flavours. Contains sugar, sweetener, and sulphites for freshness.
By Spectre

22 April 2014

Dare Devil Bites: Sweet Chilli (KFC, Penn, Wolverhampton) [By @Cinabar]

I don’t eat out at fast food places as much as I should. It is an odd statement, but I should write about their specials more here at Foodstuff Finds, but find myself rarely visiting them. In fact it takes a special occasion to get me into a fast food restaurant, Christmas holidays, birthday or this time an easter bank holiday.
I may not have been to a KFC for a while but I haven’t failed to see their adverts for their new Dare Devil bites. Not only that but several people had mentioned the adverts to me and asked me if I’d tried them yet, so I thought I’d give them a go. They are clearly the ‘hot’ item at the minute, pun intended!
So we wandered we into KFC and queued in the surprisingly slow queue for ‘fast food’ and I asked for all three new flavours of Dare Devils bites. I’ve seen the hype, I was ready to work my way through the flavours and test my taste buds, I wasn’t quite ready for the hair cut from the advert, but heck bring everything else on. “We’ve sold out” came the reply, “except for the Sweet Chilli” flavour. “Oh, I guess I’ll try that one then” I said disappointedly. Wow, that was poor going for a bank holiday from KFC. Not as bad a snow filled birthday of mine just over a year back when Spectre found that our local KFC had sold out of chicken entirely, as they hadn’t a delivery! Still it is poor stock management to not have all flavours of the item being pushed liked crazy on TV adverts.
Anyway I received a tub of Sweet Chilli Dare Devil Bites, which is essentially four small bits of chicken in a tub in a red sauce. Don’t worry I had a two piece variety meal to go with it, I was making the most of my rare trip to KFC!
The bites had to be carefully removed from the tub with fingers, so as not to cover yourself in the red sauce. Yes they do have plastic sporks somewhere, but where is the fun in that? The flavour didn’t require any dare devil at all, it was flavoursome and more like a sweet and sour sauce than a chilli sauce. There was a gentle mild hint of warmth from some chilli, but nothing that would offend anyone. It was pleasingly sweet and tangy. We all enjoyed them very much and felt a little sad at not being able to try all the other flavours. Still the variety meals were fab, and having them again was a proper treat.
After we finished our meals we thought we’d console ourselves with some ice cream. I noticed that since my last visit to a KFC they have added ‘Kreme Balls’ to the menu, they looked similar to the previous ice creams only this time with the sprinkles underneath. I queued again to order a round of Kreme Balls and when I finally got to the front the lady said “We’ve sold out, we don’t have any ice cream at all”. Wow KFC, way to go with your stock planning on a sunny bank holiday.
By Cinabar

21 April 2014

Nespresso Santander / Cauca Limited Edition Grand Crus [By Uxorious]

Up front, let me put my cards on the table: I love coffee. I’m constantly drinking the stuff. Even now as I type these very words I have a mug of, hold on whilst I take a sip, coffee within arm’s reach. At work we have an espresso machine and our secretary jokes that if this ever breaks down my work would come to a grinding halt. I blame my dad. Don’t we all? He’s German and he brought me up drinking coffee from well before the age of five. So I’m hooked!

We would all love to make the perfect coffee at home, to recreate the taste, smell and aroma (which as the technically minded might notice is very similar to smell, indeed some would go as far as saying that they are mere synonyms and indeed in my opinion they would be right) of an Italian cafe espresso.

The espresso is the fundamental building block of all coffee drinks. Over time I’ve tried practically every variety of coffee making device: cafetiere; espresso stovetop; filter coffee machine; French press; aeropress; and even bench press. 110 kg if you are wondering. And it should come as no surprise to you that I have an Nespresso machine! If it does come as a surprise, given the items that I’m reviewing here, may I politely suggest you stop reading this and go and make yourself a coffee and wake the fudge up!

I love my Nespresso machine. Ok, it doesn’t quite give you the rich feel and full body flavour of the perfect espresso, but my word it’s close. And the added bonus is that it takes no skill on the part of the user. No need to measure out the right amount of coffee, with the correct grind not too fine not too coarse, no need to think about pressures, or forming a cake with the right consistency. It’s quick, easy and mess-free. In no time you have a very pleasing espresso with a perfect crema. Indeed it’s the only coffee machine I’ve ever found that can consistently do this.

The first coffee I tried is the Santander capsule, a limited edition with intensity level 7 out of 10. The coffee comes from AAA sustainable farms from the Santander department of Columbia, to be found in the central northern part of the country, where the coffee is grown in the shade of tall trees surrounded by mountains.

The Santander capsule produces a perfect looking espresso with a sturdy, good sized crema. The aroma is warm and sweet and delivers the promise of a perfect shot of coffee to come. The texture of the drink is surprisingly good, there’s a real richness that my usual Nespresso capsules haven’t before achieved. The flavour is strong and long lasting with a surprising zesty bitterness at the end, which really gives a remarkable pleasing finish to each mouthful. The capsule may be orange, but you can colour me impressed.

The next one to test is the Cauca capsule, another limited edition AAA sustainable coffee, but with a lower intensity level of 6. This coffee comes from the Cauca department of Columbia, which is in the south-west part of the country, a lush, green, fertile equatorial region. The capsule delivers a good crema, not quite as firm as the Santander, but nevertheless very satisfactory, and the aroma, which has hints of chocolate, is somewhat muted in comparison too. I found the texture of this espresso to be watery and not as satisfying as the Santander one. The flavour is indeed milder as expected from the lower intensity rating, with a far simpler taste experience. What I did like in particular though was that it gives a very long lasting, some would say lingering, pleasant, gently toffee flavour after-taste.

Both of these coffees are very good and I’m actually going to swap over from my usual Nespresso Ristretto capsule to the Santander one, as I prefer its texture. Shame it’s a limited edition! I’d love to write more, but this mug isn’t going to refill itself!
By Uxorious

20 April 2014

Marvel Kinder Surprise [Review by @NLi10]

It's Easter time again and the shelves are filled with your usual traditional large hollow chocolate eggs.  Kinder have launched recently two ranges of fixed toy eggs - one with princesses in it and one with Marvel characters in it.  Appearing to have learnt that gender identity and colour are not fixed there is no mention of who these are aimed at, but as they look reasonable and are on a 2 for £1.20 offer in Somerfield (although my mom says they are cheaper in B&M) I bought 6.  

There is also a larger egg with Batman and the Batmobile in it, but I'm not that into DC and it's probably a lot more expensive.

I figured this haul would be enough to achieve my goal of getting an Iron Man one.   Turns out there are ten minifigs in the range and not 7 like I originally thought so the chances were looking about 50 50.  I gifted the eggs to their young and old recipients on the understanding that the egg I kept back was to be swapped with that of the first person that opened an Iron Man.

We opened, Green Goblin, Venom, IRON MAN, SpiderMan, Iron Man 2, and finally Thor.  I think this gave us all the best and most interesting figures in the series quite quickly.  I traded for the first Iron Man (Spidey was in my reserve egg) and happily attached him to my bag.

We found out from the paper inside that the figures can battle and have flip top heads and numbers inside to allow this.  Here we see Iron Man defeating Spiderman to win my affections.

This is a pretty cool bonus. On top of the well used license and the great idea of having separately decorated eggs this product is effective enough to encourage purchases but not so random that you end up with a pocket full of irrelevant toys.  I remember trying to collect something as a child and getting lots of toys not in the special range in multiples but few of the target figures and stopping.

The usual Kinder chocolate was well appreciated, but the true meaning of the pagan festival Easter is clearly finding Iron Man and beating all the other super heroes.

19 April 2014

Smiths Twisted Flamin’ Hot (Local Newsagent) [By @SpectreUK]

I've always been a big fan of Walkers Flamin' Hot Monster Munch. Cinabar bought me these Smiths' Twisted Flamin' Hot flavour to try. Smiths are now owned by Walkers, so I thought I'd try both flavours to see if they were exactly the same or slightly different. I liked the fun shape of these a twisted corn puffs and immediately thought of curly chips that I've bought in a few pubs previously, but these are corn puff snacks with Flamin' Hot as a flavour instead of tomato sauce or a dusting of peri-peri. On opening the packet I had a strong whiff of spicy tomato, which raised a few alarm bells. On first curly taste I found these Twisted corn puffs were very soft and melted in my mouth, but they only had a mild heat which was mainly spicy tomato. The heat didn't compare to the Walkers Flamin' Hot Monster Munch, although they were very tasty indeed and very moreish. I thought these Twisted were fun to eat and brought out my inner child, which is never a bad thing when you're having a rough day at work. If you want a milder heat and more of a spicy tomato flavour, then I'd recommend you give these Smiths Twisted Flamin' Hot flavour a try. In fact if they called them Spicy Tomato flavour instead, I don't think anyone would bat an eyelid. Now if you want the hot tomato tongue tingling nose sweaty heat, then don't forget the Walkers Monster Munch, as they really are Flamin' Hot!

Information on the packet;
30g packet with 160 calories, 1.2g of sugar and 9g of fat. Suitable for vegetarians. See photograph for ingredients.
By Spectre

18 April 2014

Elizabeth Shaw Easter Egg - Flute Selection [By @Cinabar]

If you are having a search round for Easter eggs to buy for friends / family on Saturday, can I heartily recommend this fine example from Elizabeth Shaw. I was lucky enough to receive a review sample, so felt no guilt in opening this one early! Although I usually associate Elizabeth Shaw with mint, this particular egg has Orange and Amaretto goodies within it,

Inside the box was a very large chocolate egg and two boxes of flutes, flavoured chocolate sticks. The egg itself was really quite thick and took quite a bit of tapping to crack open. That is definitely one of the fun things about Easter, the art part of tapping (or indeed whacking) the egg hard enough to break, but ideally not loose any chocolate!

We shared the egg out and all thoroughly enjoyed it. I was impressed by just how thick the shell was, it was of good generous proportions. And a small piece seemed to go a long way. The milk chocolate was sweet and smooth and nice to munch on. The flutes are lovely too if you haven’t tried them. They are flavoured chocolate sticks, but inside the box is a card serving pack which when opened flutes out beautifully displaying the chocolates rather neatly.

I favoured the orange ones over the Amaretto, but that is just personal preference. The Amaretto ones had a good balance of flavour, with a nutty hint of marzipan mixing with the chocolate. The orange where sweeter and I liked the fresh citrus zesty taste. I do have a soft spot for chocolate orange. These are the kind of chocolates designed for sharing, but make you want to be selfish and keep them all to yourselves!!
I do hope the weekend brings you all plenty of chocolate, and a nice few days off work too. Let me know what sort of eggs you get, and which your favourites were. :-)
Have a great Easter everyone!!!
By Cinabar

17 April 2014

Bannisters' Farm Ready Baked Potatoes and Littl'uns [review by @NLi10]

Spuds. Most of them aren't very interesting (although some of them are Rockstars) and they are a staple of the British diet. Being somewhat of a contrarian I'm not a fan of potatoes, they take ages to cook and really only have the flavour of whatever you added to them.

This is why I turned the review of these frozen, ready baked potatoes down initially. I mean - it's a box of spuds, how exciting can that be!

When the invitation came a second time I had a closer look at the PR and figured that the worst that could happen is I'd get a free meal and a very short review that essentially said - it's spuds.

The main reason I decided to go for it was that the cooking times are short and comparable to pasta and noodles (which I live off unless someone intervenes and goes shopping with or for me). This means you have a reasonable window in which to craft something to go with your potatoes.

The frozen spuds are prebuttered and pre baked and even have a neat little cross on them to prevent exploding potato incidents.  We went for the large ones initially - one each.

While these were reheating I threw some left over veg and Thai curry paste at the wok pan and added a chopped up veggie sausage or three.  I figured this would be interesting enough to complement the spuds but not enough to overpower.

I added more butter to the potato because it was an automatic thing to do and we ate away. Firstly the potatoes smelt nicely roasted - for 8 or so mins in the microwave this was pretty good, and when I squeezed the cross they opened easily and were very soft.  Previous microwave potatoes have been pretty hard so they have this part sorted!

The flavour was similarly impressive with the roastness definitely shining through. I did wonder whether some of this was due to my generous helping of extra butter and the zingy curry that complemented it really well. 

When we made the smaller little uns potatoes the following week I had mine without extras (just a side of baked beans) and found them solid enough but I preferred them with the extras. Not quite the full richness of oven roast potatoes but definitely nice enough to stash away in the freezer for a quick and filling treat.

I'm sure the mini baked potatoes were supposed to be eaten one at a time but we had two which was a large portion.  With a more substantial side of veg or meat as part of a healthier meal though I think I'd have been happy with just the one.

Overall a surprising win for the box of frozen spuds. Not so much one for the fortnightly shop, but something to keep with the frozen pizza for a simple effective meal good enough for guests.

16 April 2014

Cake Pops (@Cakecetera) [By @Cinabar]

Put the cupcake down, something new and exciting has entered the baking world, the Cake Pop. I am always quite excited about new things, or indeed novel ones, so when the lovely folks at Cake-Cetera asked if I wanted to try their Cake Pops, I couldn’t say no.
Firstly the cake delivery system, aka the plastic casing that makes the cake pops, does have a fun feel to them, but it also means that if you are ordering them online they come in a protective case so they travel well. Ours also came beautifully wrapped up in pink paper and ribbon.
Once they arrived all you do is pop the lid off, and then slowly push at the base to reveal the cake! There is still a technique to eating these, as they are delicate, but wow you can’t help but smile when you give one a go! None of the taste testers had any problem, they just felt like you had to be cautious and not push too much cake up at once.
We were given three flavours to try, vanilla, strawberry and lemon. The strawberry was decorated with sprinkles, and had a lovely sweet fruity taste. It was fairly strong, but not so much that you couldn’t pick up on the sponge flavour. You end up starting with the topping and working your way down through the layers in order to eat one. The icing was soft and creamy in texture and the sponge fresh and moist.
I was particularly impressed by the vanilla version. The flavour was really well defined, and this was very much a vanilla base and not just ‘plain’. It also had multicoloured birthday sprinkles on top, to make it look rather pretty.The lemon version was fresh and zingy. More on the side of sweet than sharp, but a delightfully fruity and zesty flavour.
As adults we loved these, and if they lit our faces up I can only imagine the love they’d get at a children’s birthday party!
Available at: http://www.cake-cetera.co.uk
By Cinabar

15 April 2014

Gran Luchito Mayo (@Luchito_Mexico) [By @SpectreUK]

Produced by The Heirloom Sauce Company this Gran Luchito Mayo was very kindly sent to us with some other goodies for me to try. The recipe is originally from Cocina Oaxaca City in Mexico. Please excuse my ignorance, but I'd never heard of Gran Luchito until I first saw this mayonnaise and quickly found out from the internet that it is a smoky Mexican chilli paste. I decided to give Gran Luchito Mayo a try on a big fat burger with chunky potato wedges on the side.

On opening the jar I found that this mayonnaise was a pinkish colour, with a few small dark bits mixed within it, which I figured were small pieces of chilli. I heaped a big pink dollop on my burger and another slightly larger pink blob next to my potato wedges. The Gran Luchito Mayo had a smoky fiery chilli taste mixed with a mild rapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar flavour. This mayonnaise had a good medium hot chilli heat to it. I thought this Gran Luchito Mayo was very tasty with its smoky chilli and slightly sour mayonnaise flavour. It went equally well with both the burger and the potato wedges dipped in it. I couldn't help slopping on as much of this mayonnaise as I could get onto each potato wedge. I went back to the jar for several more pink blobbed servings too. I had a sweaty nose and my tongue was tingling pleasurably with the chilli heat. The Gran Luchito added a smokiness and chilli burn to the burger, whilst the mild sour mayonnaise flavour completed its lettuce dressing. I look forward to eating the rest of this Gran Luchito Mayo on another burger with chips in the future. This smoky chilli mayonnaise definitely has a thumbs up from me!

Information on the label;
Made with rare smoked Mexican chillies and free range eggs. The label recommends you try this Gran Luchito Mayo spread on hot toast with chopped ripe avocado (not keen on avocado though!) and a poached egg (prefer fried eggs!). See photograph for ingredients.
For stockists see: http://gran.luchito.co.uk
By Spectre

14 April 2014

McCoys Ultimate Chargrilled Steak & Peri Peri Crisps (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

If you like crisps with flavour the new range from McCoys is really going to get your attention. The crisps have very deep ridges, to collect lots of flavour, and they have been seasoned twice to really add a special taste sensation! The new range is available in big sharing bags, perfect for a night in with a movie and to share with friends. I spotted these new crisps online on the Tesco site and also added the two other new flavours to our shop; Sea Salt + Black Pepper and Sizzling BBQ Chicken. It was Spectres choice to go for these steak ones first!
Once the bag was opened the initial aroma was very much that of steak, they smelt beefy with a hint of barbecue too. I couldn’t pick up on much peri peri in the aroma, so had to wait and see on that one. The ridges looked very thick and the seasoning on them looked dark with flavour, so I couldn't wait to tuck in.
The crunch was lovely, the thick ridges meant they were quite satisfying to munch on, without them being to tough or sharp. The best part was the flavour, they had this fab steak taste, with the almost smokey chargrilled flavour following next. Just when your tastebuds are full appreciating the meatiness of the seasoning, there is a gentle tingle of warmth that starts to develop. A few seconds later and the chilli flavour hits full power and the warmth has become full on peri peri goodness! Wow they had a good kick, which combined with the rich meatiness made them ever so moreish! They might be designed for sharing but they are the kind of crisps you’ll end up fighting over! I seriously can’t wait to try the Sizzling BBQ Chicken ones next!
By Cinabar

13 April 2014

Borgat Cotton Candy, Strawberry & Apple [review by @NLi10]

I got sent these odd little packages a while ago by a PR firm.  As I hadn't had candy floss in a very long time I jumped at the chance, but made sure that I took my time reviewing it so I could share it with it's target audience of young people.  While this was useful, their main contribution was that they would like more...

There are two flavours here, strawberry and apple.  I've never had apple candy floss before so I saved that one for second.  Turns out the strawberry here is a lot more strongly flavoured than anything I had in my childhood.  I guess the fun-fair isn't expecting you to make repeat purchases so scrimp on the flavours.  Not so here - opening the bag gives a massive hit of an enticing sweet smell and the contents are surprisingly fluffy and pull apart with much satisfaction.

It's not as light and airy as the stuff on a stick - in fact I suspect that one little bag is about the same as a stick load.  I'd always wondered why the bags at the fun fair were so big and airy, but I think that this is more the consistency of insulation, but a lot more edible.  For your 50p entry cost you get a genuinely fun bag that does take a bit of eating for a grown-up.

The apple flavour is similar, it has the strong smell, the sweet and tingly flavour and really doesn't seem to go down as fast as you'd expect.  I'd suggest that you try to eat it all in a day or so - I came back to a bag that had been opened and then carried around and it was more of a dusty sugar than a candy floss.  (or Cotton candy as the bag so Americanly calls it...)

I shared the bags out with teenagers, children and toddlers and while not all were forthcoming with feed back (mainly due to having to save the sweets til after dinner) they all quite liked it.  When pressed with which flavour our youngest reviewer preferred she didn't really say - but did choose to keep the strawberry bag and not the apple one when offered both.

Cheaper than a trip to the funfair, and almost perfect for children's birthday parties due to it's price, package and everlasting nature I can recommend this for the under 10s.  The teenagers seemed less enthralled, but did eat some. I liked it but didn't need a whole bag to myself.

Given the choice I'd take some of the apple one, but only because I've had that less - they are both equally nice.

12 April 2014

Goody Good Stuff (Degusta Box) [By @SpectreUK]

I'm a big fan of gummy sweets. I'm a big kid at heart, I know, but when I was an actual kid I didn't care how many E-numbers there were in the sweets or if they had real fruit in them. Now as a child-adult with a big tummy this concept means a lot to me. Gummy sweets with real fruit in them not only taste more natural, but are actually better for you. Just ask Rowntrees! So when Cinabar asked me to review these Goody Good Stuff gummies with real fruit in them I jumped at the chance. Being gelatine free vegetarian friendly, fat free tummy-size friendly, diary free for lactose intolerant friendly, gluten free for gluten intolerant friendliness, and with all natural colours and flavours, these gummy sweets were very friendly indeed!

Tropical Fruit

On tearing opening the packet I first noticed the shapes of the gummies of various fruits which were of relevant colours to those fruits. There were an uneven amount of shapes, but this isn't anything unusual where gummy sweets are concerned. There were certainly lots of red, but there were indeed two shapes of red. The gummies were quite sticky, but not stuck fast together and pulled apart quite easily. The first of the reds I tasted was raspberry shaped and flavoured, the second red being strawberry shaped and flavoured. The orange was the shape of a wedge of natural orange, and tasted almost as such, whereas the yellow was shaped like a banana, and had a sweet banana flavour. The green shape confused me at first because it was a palm tree shape, which ended up being a sweet kiwi flavour, whereas the white colour was a lovely pineapple flavour. These gummies certainly tasted like the fruits their shapes and colours were meant to be representing.They were very naturally tasty, but the taste was slightly over shadowed by the carnauba wax that covered them and asides the kiwi, they didn't scream "Tropical" at me at any point, which I guess would be more unusual and flavoursome fruits such as passionfruit and guava. My fingers were very sticky after eating these gummies. Still they felt very healthy and flavoursome, and I would have them again.

Information on the packet;
100g packet, with 8 gummies at 30g having 99 calories and 18g of sugar (they are sweets after all!). Ingredients in the photograph.

Sour Mix & Match

These gummies were bottle shaped half one colour half another and covered in sour sugar. They were available in three different mixed flavours. White and green were kiwi and apple flavours combined, giving a mainly sour tangy apple flavour. I found these greenies the least sour in the packet. White and light red were the second most sour, which was an amalgamation of elderberry and black currant flavour. Their sour taste was almost floral, but not in an unpleasant Turkish Delight sort of way. I know, I'm sure some else out there likes Turkish Delight as well as Cinabar and her mom. White and orange were lemon and orange, which ended up as a sort of sour apricot flavour. I found these orangey gummies the most sour in the packet. All these gummies were soft to eat, and were nice and sour. I found the white and orange flavour gummies a little face twisty, and the other flavours very nice and moreish. I would have these again, but Maynard's Sour gummies will give you a harder face twisty kick if you're looking for a wake-me-up!

Information on the packet;
100g packet, with 8 gummies at 30g having 99 calories and 19g of sugar. Ingredients in the photograph.

By Spectre

11 April 2014

Aldi Seal Bars - Chocolate Biscuits (@AldiUK FoodstuffFight) [By @Cinabar]

There is a branch of Aldi near where I work, consequently lots of us pop there quite regularly at a lunch time. There aren’t as many of the common branded goods compared to other supermarkets, but there are still plenty of goodies to be had. I picked up a pack of Seal bars to add to the work biscuit supply tin. These biscuits are individually wrapped and consist of two layers of chocolate biscuit, a chocolate fondant in the middle all coated in milk chocolate. Not dissimilar to Penguin bars, and as such the conversation arose at work about whether we could tell the difference. The next day one of the ladies brought in some actual Penguin bars, and we set up a taste test. My Foodstuff Finds ego, and history of Penguin bar consumption as kid made me confident I’d be able to tell. The challenge was set, the bars were broken up and offered as ‘Sample A’ and Sample B’. Secretly I hoped I couldn’t tell the difference, as I wanted the Aldi version to be as good, and for the underdog to win.
I tasted the two samples carefully and immediately realised that one sample did taste better than the other. One was more chocolatey and richer and tastier. I admitted to the team that I liked one better than the other. Another taste tester participating agreed, and we both thought ‘Sample B’ was the better quality product. The surprise here was that ‘Sample B’ turned out to be the Aldi Seal bars not the Penguin bars! Wow - we were totally surprised. We roped in some more taste testers and low and behold they too thought ‘Sample B’ was the Penguin bars when they were in fact the Seal ones! The results were unanimous.
I hadn’t really intended to write this little taste test experiment up, but the results were rather unexpected so I could resist! If you are looking for a chocolate biscuit fix I can heartily recommend Aldi’s Seal bars, and I think I’m going to have to explore their other ranges further too.
By Cinabar

10 April 2014

Kezie Foods: Partially Cooked Ostrich Fan Fillet [Review by @CaptainKindling]

Kezie Foods: Partially Cooked Ostrich Fan Fillet

This week my continued adventures with Kezie Foods took me back to Africa, with one of their partially cooked Ostrich Fan Fillets.  Ostrich is becoming more and more common as a meat option, and as far as exotic meats go may well be the most frequently tried.  I've personally had ostrich burgers in the past and thoroughly enjoyed them, but this was to be my first taste of an actual cut of meat.
The fan fillet is from the upper inner thigh of the ostrich, and is descirbed as the most tender cut from the bird by Kezie.  The partial-cooking before the freezing stage supposedly seals in the freshness, so I was looking forward to seeing how it tasted!
As with the kangeroo steak, I decided to fry this up lightly and to have it unseasoned so as not too interfere with the bird's natural flavour.  After leaving the fillet out for a few minutes to mosey on towards room temperature, I heated up some sunflower oil in a pan (again, I refer olive oil but wanted a more neutral flavour) and decided to give it three minutes on ech side.
The first thing I noticed before even dropping it into the pan was that it looked much more like a red meat than a bird, and if I didn't know it was ostrich I probably would have thought it came from a four-legged source!  I didn't stop to wonder at this for too long though, as I had a sizzling pan and a rumbling belly!
After three minutes on each side it seemed to be cooked well enough for my taste, so I served it up with a plate of curly fries - this may sound like sacriledge but I just wanted something quick and simple, and there was an abundance of them in my freezer!
My first impression of the ostrich was a very good one - Kezie's description of it as the most tender cut seemed to be accurate, and my steak knife slid through the fillet with ease even when cutting against the grain.  The three minutes on each side seemed to have cooked the fillet just right, with a nice red centre surrounded by a pinkish halo, so it was time for the all-important taste test!
And boy, what a taste!  The tenderness of the meat gave just enough resistance, and the flavour came bursting through instantly.  As the uncooked appearence indicated, ostrich is much more like red meat than a bird, and has a very strong, rich, meaty flavour to it, leaving an almost tangy aftertaste once finished.  I'm a big fan of steaks (Tuesday night is traditionally my steak night!), and I'd happily view this as an alternative to beef, ticking all of the same boxes but not feeling quite so heavy on the way down.  It certainly isn't shy with its flavour, and could certainly be seasoned without losing its identity.
Ostrich fan fillet is one of the pricier meats on Kezie's menu, with a single 200g portion costing £6.18, so it's better suited as an occasional treat rather than a regular choice, but I'd have to describe it as a must-try meat for any carnivore!

9 April 2014

Heinz Hot Sauce (Sainsbury’s) [By @SpectreUK]

Heinz were established in 1869, so they ought to know by now how to make a really good sauce. I must admit that I've never tasted a bad sauce by Heinz. This Hot Sauce was made with green jalapeños. Described as 'tangy and sharp' and given a two chilli hot rating out of a three chilli hotness range on the front of the bottle, I was rather looking forward to trying this sauce with some chips. I poured a big green blob out onto a plate next to my steak and chips meal and gave the green thick gooey liquid a good sniff. There was a sour vinegar and onion smell overshadowed by jalapeño and a hint of spinach. There was a medium hot jalapeño kick from the green sauce mixed with a strong sour vinegar, onion and finally spinach flavour. From the title on the bottle's label I could ascertain that the tang came from the onion and the spinach, and the sharpness from the sour spirit vinegar. There was a medium chilli heat from the jalapeño in the sauce. To mark it as a two chilli heat rating was not being over generous. My nose began to sweat a little after dipping a few of my chips into it. I found this sauce very tasty with a lovely medium chilli heat. I even tried it with some of my steak, and it went very well with the red meat. I'll certainly be adding this Hot Sauce to my favourite hot sauce range next to Grace's Hot Tomato Ketchup and Frank's Chilli and Lime in the sauce cupboard.

Information on the label;
150ml bottle. Ingredients include; spirit vinegar, jalapeño chilli (13%), chilli, sugar, peppers, onion, garlic, salt, herb and spice extracts, spinach extract, thickener; xanthan gum.
Recommends trying this sauce with; pizza, pasta, stir fries, chicken, and burgers.
By Spectre