31 December 2014

Mince Pie Dairy Ice Cream (@Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

After dinner we were trying to decide what to have for dessert, the subject of mince pies was brought up briefly, but frankly we’ve eaten quite a lot of those over the last few days! There are still two boxes in the cupboard, but it was decided that we fancied something a little different this evening. I thought that there must be ice cream in the freezer and went to have a rummage to see what I could find. I couldn’t help but smile to myself when I spotted this tub. It was purchased well in advance of Christmas and had been forgotten about, I’m ashamed to say. Mince Pie flavoured ice cream was the obvious choice on what to try next.
The Ice Cream is from the posh goodies at Sainsbury’s as it part of the “Taste The Difference” range, all the more reason to feel bad about having not tried it out sooner. The ice cream wasn’t too difficult to serve, it was firm, but scooped easily enough with a bit of encouragement into bowls. The base colour was a pale cream, but there was plenty of goodies packed in. The flavour was absolutely spot on. There was plenty of mince pie flavour, from juicy currants to orange and lemon peel, giving it a good mix of texture too. The pastry bits were lovely buttery and soft, and there was a generous helping of seasonal spices for good measure. The base flavour was that of cream, and added a bit of festive luxury which was a nice pick me up after the blues of going back to work. With its sweet and spicy filling it was just like eating a mince pie soaked in a good tipple of cream, heaven.
By Cinabar

30 December 2014

Vintage Cheddar and Real Ale Crisps (Aldi) [By @SpectreUK]

I've tried a few ale flavoured crisps before, but not one with cheese as an added flavour. I like cheese and I like ale. So I figured; what could go wrong? Described on the bag as a "deliciously tangy combination" of vintage Cheddar and authentic real ale, I could hardly wait to try them. The large thickly cut golden crisps inside the bag had a heavy Cheddar Cheese smell to them with a hint of barley at the end of the odour. Wow! These crunchy crisps definitely had a really cheesy punch to them. If you like cheese on your crisps without too much onion combined this flavour is for you. Mind you, there was a mild hint of onion and an ale-like barley flavour just poking out behind the cheese. The cheese and cheeky ale flavour moved into the aftertaste to leave a sumptuous cheesy beery glow to my tastebuds. It was difficult to share this big bag of crisps out with the others at the lunchtime table, but I was assured there were other bags in the store and that they would pick up some more next time! But bear in mind, they are unfortunately a limited addition.

Information on the bag;
150g bag, at 100g there are 519 calories, with 29g of fat and 2.4g of sugar. Ingredients included; potatoes, sunflower oil, cheese powder, rice flour, onion powder, yeast extract, natural Norfolk Ale flavouring, West Country Vintage Cheddar Cheese powder, and paprika extract. Suitable for vegetarians. Contains cereals, gluten, barley and milk.
By Spectre

29 December 2014

Specially Selected Wensleydale Cheese with Chocolate and Orange (@AldiUK) [By @Cinabar]

This year I have had my first Christmas shop at Aldi. Over the course of 2014 I have become more and more of a regular shopper there, and am always intrigued by the new and limited edition items. Yes folks, I even downloaded the app. They out did themselves this Christmas, with all sorts of intriguing goodies, from interesting flavours of crisps to posh nosh such as caviar. One main area that really caught my attention was the cheese selection, and I know I over did it on my purchases but to someone who writes at Foodstuff Finds the selection of goodies has been a complete Aladdin's cave, and the fridge is jam packed with an impressive selection. I didn’t even buy the Christmas Pudding cheese as I missed the boat with it, discovering it too late but fear not I already have four more blocks in my basket!
Anyway I have already tried the Mature Cheddar with French Champagne, but the next on my list to open was this weird sounding Wensleydale with Chocolate and Orange. The other interesting cheeses all have sell by dates well into mid January, thankfully, but I’ll get there.
For a lot of people Christmas is synonymous with receiving a chocolate orange and eating a cheese board at some point during the season. Aldi thought they would combine these two events into one and created a cheese flavoured with chocolate orange.

When I took the cheese out of the packet I admit it, I was genuinely alarmed by the amount of chocolate running through this cheese. We are not talking about the occasional chocolate chip, it is everywhere, tons of it in quite surprising proportions. There was also a lot of orange peel there too, it looked like it was going to be packed with flavour. Surprisingly though the cheese wasn’t that bizarre. The chocolate sections were very mild, and weren’t too strong, just a nice cocoa hint. The heaviest flavour was the orange peel, which added a good citrus zest throughout and nice bit of texture. Wensleydale is a creamy crumbly cheese and can carry sweet fruit really well, it is often paired with apricots on the deli counters. It carried the chocolate and orange surprisingly well, and made an interesting and well balanced flavour. I have to admit I was impressed, I just thought the chocolate would overpower everything, but no it worked remarkably well. This would be perfect as a dessert cheese after a meal, cleverly mixing a twist of sweet and savoury.
By Cinabar

28 December 2014

Bear Alpha bites Cocoa Cereal [by @NLi10]

It's Christmas morning and as I'd been to Waitrose a few days before I'd got a new special cereal that I hadn't tried yet. I decided that it would be a nice treat to have my first bowl on Christmas morning.

As you can see Bear are masters of the interesting packaging. The box has lots of fun graphics and games to do while eating. 

I asume these change over time so as to make breakfast continue to be exciting.

The letters are similarly fun - I started to spell Bear Christmas but got hungry so gave up and ate them. The problem with letter based foods like soup is that once you are eating them they are too sloppy to spell with.  The texture is as you'd expect, and the flavour is only lightly chocolaty so you wouldn't feel bad having these every day.

While I like a little less homogeneity to my cereal and these mixed with something may tickle my taste buds more I certainly will enjoy the rest of the box.

27 December 2014

Hardknott Code Black (Westmorland @Hardknott @TebayServices) [By @SpectreUK]

Traditionally this is the season for Bond films and what could be better to watch one with than a secret themed beer? I leafed through the Freeview Box and picked the Spy Who Loved Me. The label mentioned a "citrus lemon aroma" and a "toasty bitter chocolate orange flavour with a final assertive bitter finish." It sounded pretty intriguing, but the only way to find out was to open the bottle. This beer is certainly as lively and full of action as a Bond movie. When I opened the bottle I almost ended up wearing the beer. I poured the bubbling frothing beer into my worried beer glass and had to drink off a fair lump of the froth to stop it from escaping. Cheeks bulging and sporting a fluffy new white moustache. I quickly realised the suave sophisticated side of Bond had disappeared every time I tried to fill my beer glass with this deep almost black pressure-cooker of a beer. If the Tasmanian Devil was a Bond villain, I'm sure he'd be less lively than this beer. I realised I was more like Elmer Fudd whilst trying to pour it.

Once I'd finally managed to pour all the beer from the bottle into the glass and cleared up all the froth from my top lip and up my nose, I decided to have a sniff from a relatively safe distance. I can agree that there was a hoppy lemony type citrus smell from the foamy blackish beer. There was a smoothness to the taste to start with, which was very quickly replaced by a heavy toastiness. There was bitterness here in spades. Like the early alternative end to a Bond film where the bad guy had got bored and finally shot Bond, instead of devising some daft way to kill the secret agent with some crazy weapon that the Bond would escape from and blow up the Baddy's base. I could say that there was a citrus zest and orange undertones, but amongst all that toastiness I could only pick up mild hints. There was definitely chocolate malt as the flavour moved from smooth to burnt toast to a dark malted chocolate flavour. I enjoyed this beer, as like most Bond films, it was dark, mysterious and full (REALLY full) of action. There was also a stab of bitterness at the end of the flavour, like a naughty Bond girl kneeing the hero in the nuts at the end of the film as he decides to go off with the other slightly hotter girl instead. Of course, just before the bad guy shoots him!

Information of the bottle;
5.6% volume in a 330ml bottle. Brewed by the Hardknott Brewery in Cumbria.
By Spectre

26 December 2014

Specially Selected Caviar (Aldi) [By @Cinabar]

I’ve never tried Caviar before but when an advert came through the door a few months back stating that our local Aldi would be selling some type of Beluga caviar I added a reminder to my calendar. Now there has been a lot of controversy since then about this Caviar on the internet, including the labelling of the type and the cut down price. I’m not knowledgable enough in the intricacies of Caviar to comment, but I knew it was something I still fancied trying so picked up a small jar for just £9.99. The pack states that this roe originates from QianDao Lake, China and is from a cross bread of Sturgeon.

I knew this Specially Selected Caviar need a special occasion and what better than the big day served with blinis, cream cheese, smoked salmon and prawns. The packaging is eggstremely well put together, all neatly packed with a posh card outer case, with a little Caviar spoon to help serves it. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened up the jar, and have to admit I was expecting something more liquid, but the roe are quite dry and easily spooned out. I tried three little eggs on their own and was impressed by their flavour. They weren’t too strong, and had a good fishy flavour, and a hint of saltiness. Texture wise they were fairly firm, but burst nicely delivering the taste.
Sprinkled on our blini concoction they looked fab, and made them look super posh. I liked the hint roe taste mixed with the salmon, it enhanced the flavour and the appearance. I don’t eat blinis and salmon that often, but if I’m after something a bit special this is something I’d buy again as a luxurious treat to top it.
By Cinabar

25 December 2014

Space Food - Freeze Dried Neapolitan Ice-cream @astro_foods [by @NLi10]

Merry Christmas!  Although I don't suppose many of you are reading this on Christmas Day itself that is when this will upload itself.

For me writing this it's Christmas Eve (or Boxing Day Eve Eve if you are comedically inclined) and I'm trying out something I've been saving for a special occasion.  When we were at the Leicester Space Centre Steam-Punk weekend we picked up three things.  The first (strawberry Chocolate) was a little disappointing, the second (Freeze Dried Space Apples) was a tiny portion but fantastic.  Here we have the astronauts dessert - freeze dried neapolitan ice cream.  I chose this as it'd have three flavours instead of the just one that the ice-cream sandwich option promised.

The first thing to note that it's all very well packed.  While it's crumbled with me carrying it from place to place the inner bag has kept the chunks in the right places.  It looks like those alphabet sweets that I love (powdery hard candy) but also like a block of ice cream.  Maybe it has an air of fudge or nougat to the appearance too.  Only it's hard, dry and room temperature.

It's hard to describe just how odd room temperature solid ice cream is.  It's a whole new confectionary.  It's sweet, but not too sweet, and it's very crumbly but becomes almost chewy once you bite it.  I guess it's re-absorbing the moisture as you chew.

The first flavour is the red, which is a strawberry milkshake kind of affair.  It tastes authentic and once you get over the lack of cold sensation is pretty nice.  It's almost a honeycomb texture with the flavour of ice cream instead of sugar.

The middle white stripe is a strong vanilla and as you can eat bits of just one colour (harder with real ice-cream) it's more noticeable in the mix.  It's the least potent of the three but still rather moreish.

The chocolate is also pretty good, while it's not freeze dried Ben & Jerry's it's certainly a good quality ice cream to start with before the science happened.  I think that I expected it to be a stronger chocolate, but the creaminess works in its favour.

When choosing desserts I'd always choose apple over ice-cream (heck - or both together) and here is no exception, but the portion size here makes it easier to recommend.  I know that the UK prices of these are more than the company sells them for in the USA but even then the 'experience value' for this is much higher.

If this was available as a small bag of cubes of the three flavours it would be very popular (this actually exists - see the end).  The portion you get here is almost too much - for one person in one sitting anyway.  It's perfect for sharing though so I'll pack up any that survive and take it with me to my family Christmas dinner which I'll probably be having as the post uploads.

Hope you have had a merry christmas too - and if you got any odd food related presents you want to mention to us then feel free to mention them in the comments or find us on Facebook to say.

Find more by this company at www.astronautfoods.com - including the ice cream drops that I just described above - must be a common idea!  In a big resealable tube these are more of a sharing size thing or for watching space films or wandering around a museum.

24 December 2014

Hardy & Hansons Rocking Rudolph (TEsco) [By @SpectreUK]

I've often wondered why Rudolph has a red nose, it could be from drinking too much ale or playing guitar out in the snow like he is on the front of this Rocking Rudolph bottle, by Hardy & Hansons. Brewed by Greene King, in Bury St. Edmonds and served in a 500ml bottle at 4.2% volume, it should be enough to give anyone a red nose after a few of these ales. Described as a "full bodied, malty and fruity Christmas ale with a refreshing bitter finish", I could hardly wait to pour this ale into my ever ready beer mug. Of course when Cinabar bought me this Christmas Ale it wasn't quite Christmas at the time, so I had to wait until Christmas Eve to drink it. This amber ale definitely had a fruity smell to it and a good creamy head. I'd have to agree with their description. This ale has a heavy malted barley initial taste to it, there was a hoppy fruitiness that followed and a bitter kick at the end which moved into the aftertaste. There was nothing creamy about this hearty ale asides the head. If you like your ale strong and bitter without pulling any punches, then this warming brewer's treat is for you. Well, this pint is mine... So gerroff! Er... And Merry Christmas one and all!
By Spectre

23 December 2014

Hot Chocolate Bombs (@ThorntonsChocs) [By @Cinabar]

I was in Thorntons primarily looking for stocking fillers for Christmas when I spotted this interesting looking box of hot chocolates, which I picked up just as a bit of a treat. The packaging is quite different for Thorntons, it is an interesting shape as it is elongated and it is black and very modern looking. Generally Thorntons markets itself using its classical designs, so these looked something a bit different.
When I got home and opened the box I was again impressed as the so called bombs looked like dark gem stones made of chocolate lined up in pairs. I followed the instructions on the box and zapped a mug of milk in the microwave until it was hot, but not boiled. I then added two of the chocolates to the milk and stirred. Initially it felt like they would struggle to dissolve, but with a bit of an encouraging stir they melted down quite nicely.
The drink looked surprisingly dark, although there did seem to be a concentrate of chocolate on the surface. I was very impressed by the flavour, there was quite a lot for a start, I do hate overly milky and dull got chocolates. This one was rich, had lots of cocoa and lovely soft sweetness from a hint caramel. It wasn’t' too sweet, in fact it was aimed at a more mature palette, but had just enough to ensure the drink hit the right soothing notes.
I'm definitely going back to Thorntons for more of these. They would make a lovely stocking filler if you can bear to give them away, but mostly I'm going for some more just for me. ;-)
By Cinabar

22 December 2014

Mature Cheddar with French Champagne (@Aldi) [By @Cinabar]

I couldn’t resist having a look around Aldi and seeing what goodies they had out for Christmas time, and I ending up picking up a few luxury items. One item I picked up was caviar, I don’t think I’ve ever tried it before, but thought I’d give it a shot as the offer price just under £10. I also found up some luxury chocolates, german biscuits and this cheese flavoured with champagne, so not a usual grocery shop.
We decided to try out this cheese, with a selection of cold meats, some bread and some Hula Hoops, bringing us back down to earth. The cheese is a fairly strong cheddar, and the nuttiness of that flavour seemed to intermingle with the champagne really well. The champagne is fairly strong in taste, but it worked well with the tanginess of the cheese, giving it a soft creamy element. I have to admit I thought this cheese would be essentially a novelty, but they managed to balance the flavours very cleverly and made a lovely rich cheese.
It is perfect for snacking on with a selection of meats and cheese biscuits, but it would also be perfect on a posh cheese board after dinner. It is a lovley combination of flavours, with enough champagne to enhance and become a talking point.
by Cinabar

21 December 2014

Space Food - Cinnamon Apple Wedges [by @NLi10]

In the cafe of the Leicester Space Centre I had some disappointing chocolate (review) but in the gift shop I found some fun things.  I've seen these in Gadget Shops over the years but it's hard to justify the price.  When the profits are going to a lovely museum you can happily buy two bags (one for a future review) and snack away.

Our first one is a bag of cinnamon apple wedges.

As the bag says these are freeze dried and exactly like the astronauts would have (with one probable difference which I'll get to). 

The bag mentions the ice-cream that I got too - but I thought I'd save that.

So here is the apple!

All 8 pieces of it.  That really isn't much apple. Probably less than half an apple - which is a little bit of a let down.  I bet the CSA and it's lesser southern cousin NASA wouldn't dare present the astronauts with such a small portion.  I'd just eat two and claim that they clearly forgot to pack the right amount. I probably wouldn't get to go to space.

The chunks themselves are really satisfying.  The flavour is there and they are lovely and crunchy. I could have eaten a whole bag easily but I shared 4 of the chunks out so that others could try them.  I think that everyone agreed that while they were nice they were terrible value at what probably works out at £10 an apple.  I'm guessing the manufacturing process does cost a lot too but it's not something I'm going to be having again.

But buying things like this does subsidise things like this Soyez capsule that has been to space.

And here is me in a replica of the ISS pretending to have not just eaten a months worth of freeze dried apples in my first day on the space station. Jettison the wrappers and they'll never know!

It does make me wonder how successful the freeze dried ice-cream will be - it's supposed to be cold and wet but dried fruit is quite acceptable.  I'm sure i'll find a reason to open it eventually.  It's not like it's going to go off!

20 December 2014

Hot Pickled Onions - FIGHT! (Aldi & Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

I know it's the season to be jolly, but it's also the season of pickles and what better way to celebrate than two hot pickles fighting against each other amongst a snowy backdrop? Well, I know there's no snow in the Midlands just yet and to be honest it's actually fairly warm for this time of year. Damp of course, but enough about the weather... Pickles... Hot Pickled Onions in fact. Bramwells Hot & Spicy Pickled Onions against Waitrose rather posh sounding Hot and Tangy Spiced Pickled Silverskin Onions. So how hot are they both? Well let's find out... Get in the ring! FIGHT!!

Waitrose Hot and Tangy Spiced Pickled Silverskin Onions

There's no doubt that Waitrose is a posh shop, so why not make their pickles sound posh? In the pickle jar dancing around with the Silverskin onions were mustard seeds, green peppercorns, crushed red pepper, red chillies and a dash of salt. Sounds pretty hot to me. And wow to the delightful pickled sweet and sour smell on opening. The jar was brimming with pickled onions and almost overflowing with peppercorns, bits of chilli and loads of chilli seeds. The smell made my mouth water. The presentation made me salivate and also slightly fearful. On tasting the first Silverskin pickled onion there was a sweetness to start with and then a light peppery flavour to the onion which merged very quickly with a red chilli burn. I couldn't help but try another one. The sourness and chilli heat made my nose itch. The warming chilli spices gave my insides a good afternoon glow. I could feel my nose starting to run a little with the chilli heat. I can't emphasise enough how tasty these Hot and Tangy Spiced Pickled Silverskin Onion were. I also couldn't help wishing for a big block of cheese, Cheddar or Red Leicester, to sit down and enjoy with this pickled onion treat. Forget the "on the side with a good sandwich accompaniment". I just wanted these pickled onions and cheese and a little time to polish off the jar. Okay, maybe some crackers too...

Information on the jar;
295g with a net drained weight of 170g. Per 100g has 96 calories. Ingredients included; Silverskin onions, sugar syrup (water and sugar), spirit vinegar, water, salt, mustard seeds, green peppercorns, crushed red pepper, crushed red chillies, and preservative sodium metabisulphite. Allergens; mustard and sulphites.

Bramwells Hot & Spicy Pickled Onions

Bramwells always sounds like something a kindly Granny makes in a homely kitchen, but what if that Gran was pretty evil and wanted to teach a rotten teenager a lesson? This is where she brings her Hot & Spicy Pickled Onions into play. "Sit down, Dear, and have a nice pickled onion." She says with an evil glint in her eye. Silverskin pickled onions (but they don't bang on about it like that posh lot above), this time black peppercorns, mustard seeds and Birdseye chillies! Crickey from what I know about Birdseye Chillies is that once you've tried one you can hit a bird in the eye a hundred feet up when the seeds shoot out of your nose!

On opening the jar I could see these Silverskin onions were slightly bigger than those in the Waitrose jar. There wasn't so much sweetness in the odour also. The jar didn't seem so busy without the multitude of chilli seeds too. There was a blob of red chilli on top of one of the onions which stared at me rather menacingly though. I decided to avoid the red chilli pickled onion just incase and went for the one next to it. It didn't matter anyway. The pickled onion almost blew my head off. Hotter than Barry Norman's Hot and Spicy Pickled Onions, which I didn't think was possible, these Bramwells Hot & Spicy Pickled Onions were clearly born in the fires of the hottest furnace. My eyes were still watering five minutes after eating one. I could feel nose running too. So I blew it half expecting to see my brains. Seriously if you're stuck in a snow drift a jar of these Bramwells Hot & Spicy Pickled Onions will keep you alive and warm for a week. If you can't eat them you can probably start a fire with them or feed them to the person next to you and put them in the middle where the fire should be, as their glow will keep you all warm anyway! There was little sweetness to these pickled onions and some cheese would have been good with it, although if you put a pickled onion next to cheese on a plate it would probably melt the cheese, the sandwich next to it, melt through the plate and the table underneath it! Very tasty, but the chilli burn comes almost straight away merging with the mild sour pickled onion flavour, slightly taking over from the taste and then burning mouth, tongue fire... Help! Help! Eat with caution or you may die! Although I did have a second one about ten minutes later after I'd recovered a little and the burn just mixed with my already ruined senses. Pretty enjoyable actually, in a mad tasty heat fueled masochistic sort of way... Nasty Granny should be proud!

Information on the jar;
340g with a drained net weight of 215g. Per 100g has 20 calories with 0.5g of fat and 1.7g of sugar. Ingredients included; Silverskin onions, water, spirit vinegar, acetic acid, lactic acid, black peppercorns, salt, yellow mustard seeds, malt barley extract, dried Birdseye Chillies, and preservative sodium metabisulphite. Allergens; Mustard, gluten, barley and sulphites.

19 December 2014

Xmas Pud Yoghurt - The Collective Dairy (Ocado) [By @Cinabar]

I have tried quite a few of The Collective Dairy gourmet yoghurts, and enjoyed all of them, they always have really interesting flavours. I was quite surprised to see they had released a limited edition christmas variety, mainly because most yoghurt companies tend not too! This one is Xmas Pud flavour too, which sounded rather lovely.
When I took the lid off I found the usual plastic spoon, making them perfect to take to work. You can never find cutlery in our work kitchen, so this is rather handy.
I peeled back the lid and there was a thin syrupy topping which was brown and smelt like cinnamon and spices. This appeared to be on the surface and underneath the generous layer of thick creamy yoghurt. The flavoured layers were quite thin, which meant when you took a spoon of yoghurt they mixed in quite easily and ran.
The flavour was lovely, there was bits of raisin and fruit, and the warmth of mixed spices too, it tasted very seasonal. I liked the hint of orange peel, and it did taste like christmas pudding albeit with any hit of rum! There was enough citrus bite to contrast the creamy flavour of the yoghurt, and they complemented each other well. It was naughty but nice treat, and the sort of thing that packs into my work lunch box rather well, bringing a smile to my lunch times this time of year.
By Cinabar

18 December 2014

Of Gingerbread & Jelly @hartleysjelly #JollyJelly [by @NLi10]

Hartley's Jelly have a festive promotion going on at the moment.  They want people to make jelly and then put things in it - both ordinary objects for comedy purposes (like stationary in TV sitcom The Office) and edible things to make Christmas tables more exciting.

I was up for the challenge and ordered the kit. Duchess was more than happy to investigate the contents (there was also a large bag of raisins which I gave to my partner as soon as they arrived).

The jelly itself also looks seasonal.

and comes both in the wobbly blocks from my childhood and the newer sugar-free sachets which are a bit easier to make.

As I wanted my jelly to be completely edible I decided to forgo the ingredients provided (except for the jelly - that wouldn't make much sense) and make my own items.

Our work Christmas competition is to make and decorate gingerbread items, so I decided to do my best to combine the two.  It went a bit wrong in places, but overall I was happy.

Here we see the two halves of the mixture.  After I'd mixed the sugar into the flour I realised that the recipe was badly written and I was supposed to have melted it in the pan. oops!  It still tasted alright, but the bottoms were a bit caramel heavy.

I made a second batch afterwards with the new version and got these little fellows.  Again, a bit crispy but close enough to my original ideas that I went with these.  As you can probably tell they are all hand cut as I needed them to be quite small and rough around the edges.

As I work in a laboratory I decided to lay the gingerbread men out on the jelly as if we'd just grown them from a sample.

These are the best pictures due to the lighting, but as they'd been in/on the jelly overnight at this point and taken on a bus to work they had been shook about a bit.

I like the way that they are floating on the surface and didn't sink in - I used the old ice cube in the jelly trick to make it set a bit faster for this.

But for the Jelly contest I used a knife to slice down the partially set jelly and put one of the 'hands up' gingerbread men down into the hole.  It set invisibly and looks pretty good!

I think if you wanted to do this for a party you'd be best coating the gingerbread with some kind of varnish-like sugar coating so that they keep better and don't suck all the moisture out of the jelly.  The effect is pretty cool and I even took a video of a full rotation of the cup.

The social media campaign is running all over the festive period so dig that jelly out of the cupboard (or go buy the lovely festive packs) and have a go.  It's a good way to freak out guests who are expecting a boring packet of mince pies!

17 December 2014

Twinings Salted Caramel Green Tea (Ocado) [By @SpectreUK]

Now I've tried quite a few green teas, Jasmine being my favourite, this Salted Caramel Green Tea from Twinings sounded both interesting and also a possible recipe for disaster. For starters I prefer sweet caramel in chocolates, rather than the salted variety. Salted caramel is okay in an Eddie Izzard "Cake or Death?" sense, but I wouldn't rush out and buy any or choose to eat (or drink in this case) salted caramel unless the boss (Cinabar) expressly wanted a blog about it. Don't get me wrong; I like Twinings, and that's certainly the good side of this review. I've never had a bad cup of Twinings, but then again I've never tried all their flavours either. I've drank quite a few of their flavours mind, from Assam to Yunnan, Darjeeling to Keemun and so on... I've enjoyed cups of their original Green Tea and their Jasmine Green Tea, but have a tendency to stir clear of their fruity flavours as they don't agree with my palete.

The box recommends brewing this Twinings Salted Caramel Green Tea for no more than two minutes as "any longer and you'll lose the delicate taste." Does that mean three or four minutes brewing time produces something akin to sweet brine? I have a bad habit of brewing tea to within an inch of the tea bags life. On occasion I've left the tea bag in by mistake and ended up wearing it on my nose. Most embarressing on one previous occasion in a rather serious meeting where a very high profile project was failing miserably, but then again it did lighten the mood! On opening the box there was a strong smell of salted caramel even through the sealed envelopes surrounding the tea bags. For a change I followed the suggestion on the box and let this tea brew for a couple of minutes or so. There was a strong aroma of caramel from the tea with a dash of saltiness at the end of the smell. Once cooled this drink had a light caramel sweetness to start with moving to a surprisingly smooth almost creaminess, their was a mild bite from the salt and then an aftertaste of caramel. Don't get me wrong as the saltiness lingers a little too, but somehow complements the smooth sweet caramel giving it a bit of an edge. The caramel flavour didn't have a hint of syrup as some added caramel flavours can have in drinks, and even if it did, the saltiness would kick it's backside right out of the mug!

Information on the box;
20 tea bags at net weight 40g. Per 100ml at 1 calorie with traces of fat, salt and sugar. Ingredients included; green tea, natural flavouring (7%). Also available in this range; Ginger Bread Green Tea, which sounds rather Christmassy!
By Spectre

16 December 2014

Walkers Sensations Cinnamon and Salt Popcorn (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

This flavour of popcorn intrigued me. As a rule I buy weird flavours of popcorn, and although I have enjoyed a lot of them, I always end up thinking that sweet and salty is my favourite. It is just a bit hard to beat as a flavour combination. On a side note, my favourite spice, or flavouring for that matter, is cinnamon, so anything with a good hint of cinnamon also gets my vote. This popcorn seemed to be tailor made for me, combining all my favourite ingredients into one popcorn variety.
The popcorn smelt wonderfully warming when I opened up the bag, and I could see plenty of seasoning sprinkled over the popcorn. The popcorn pieces were quite large and had a nice mix of textures from fluffy to fairly crunchy.
The flavour itself was ever so moreish. The cinnamon was the most prominent, and it was lovely and sweet and gently spicy, the salt was like a magic ingredient and just enhanced it perfectly. I think it was the saltiness that made it so moresih. Basically every piece had a slightly different flavour combination on it, ranging from rather salty through to very sweet and of course different levels of cinnamon mixed in to for good measure. This made it really interesting to eat and kept my hand going back for more. Essentially it is a christmas flavoured popcorn, what better to watch with a christmas movie!
By Cinabar

15 December 2014

Cadbury Dairy Milk Mousse Snowman [by @NLi10] @CadburyUK

I was a bit ill yesterday and didn't have a review saved up so Cinabar filled in my usual Sunday slot - thanks to her!

As it's getting to be almost time to start thinking about Christmas I thought I'd join in with the festivities.  I've had these two for ages, possibly even since September.

The Co-Op had them on special offer and so I picked them up with the intention of saving them until it was at least December. With Christmas 10 days away it's safe to say that we can eat these now.  

Cadbury do a few chilled chocolate deserts that I've eaten over the years, including some nice chocolate mousse. What it appears to me is that someone figured you could fill creme egg style things with them, and now seasonal shapes. The choice of a snowman is a good one, but his odd hat does make him look a bit phalic.

His carrot nose is a bit Picasso too. And he is filled with white chocolate mousse.

The only noticeable difference between the two is the sweetness of the filling. As you'd expect the darker one is more typically Cadbury. They aren't really distinct enough to review separately though.

They are fairly expensive - I got both for a pound, but I think they are 70p each - which to me makes them a luxury choc and not an impulse buy. I could get a King Size Twix for that! The target market must be children excited by being finally allowed to put their tree up on Christmas Eve and people you forgot to buy presents for. As a yummy stocking filler it hits the spot, but I see no reason to find a way to keep these around all year.

Unlike the creme egg these will. It define the season they are released in, but are a welcome addition.

Note: Autocorrect prefers chocolate mouse, and chocolate moose so maybe this is where they went wrong!

14 December 2014

Aberdeen Angus Beef and Red Wine Crisps (Aldi) [By @Cinabar]

Christmas is a great time of year for posh flavours of crisps, and Aldi haven’t disappointed us with their new range. As a fan of meaty crisps I was quick to pick up these new Aberdeen Angus Beef and Red Wine ones. The packaging is very posh and the black packet makes these look rather upmarket.
We decided to share them one lunch time, as they are in a nice big bag. I liked the texture of the crisps, they were crunchy but not sharp and hard. A lot of “posh” crisps seem to be very hard and still quite thick actually making them a bit uncomfortable to eat. They were crunchy, but the thickness wasn’t too much meaning they were nice to eat and munch on.
The flavour was lovely too, they were very meaty, and the lovely tones of beef came through perfectly. There was just a hint of red wine sauce, giving a nice slight contrasting flavour. There were some herbs too adding to the depth.
These are really nice crisps for munching, and would work well shared in a bowl with friends. A good meaty flavour, with just a hint of posh for the christmas season.
By Cinabar

13 December 2014

Jennings Red Breast (Aldi) [By @SpectreUK]

I guess it's officially winter time once you see your first Robin Redbreast, however I only saw my first one a couple of days ago when I was feeding the birds. Either I have been hiding inside from the cold or the Robins have been hiding from me. There is an image of a jolly looking Robin Red Breast on the front of the bottle of this Redbreast beer from Jennings Brewery. He looks pretty warm dressed in his hat and scarf. I suspect he's had a drink or two to fight off the chill too. On the back of the bottle it states that Robins have always been associated with Christmas cards because postmen used to wear red jackets and were nicknamed Robin Redbreasts.

Described as a "A dark chestnut winter beer", this beer was brewed with pale ale malt and hopped with Fuggles and Goldings. On opening the bottle there was a heavy malty fruity smell to this dark lightly fizzed beer. I could well understand why they mentioned fruit cake in the aroma on the label. This was a bitter beer from start to finish. If you like your beer tasty and strong without pulling its punches, then this dark beer is perfect for you. The sheer bitterness warmed me from the winter chills remeniscent of stamping feet on my tastebuds like so many people stood on a cold winter's train station platform waiting to return home from their Christmas shopping. The fruitiness adds body and flavour without soothing, mind you, but adding to the bite just reminding me that this is not just a cold snap; it's winter, it's Christmas, so drink merry and have a good weekend!

Information on the bottle;
500ml bottle at 4.5% volume. Brewed by Jennings Brewery, in Cumbria, which was established in 1828.
By Spectre

12 December 2014

Market Deli Tortilla Chips - Roasted Red Chilli with Mediterranean Sundried Tomato (Walkers) [By @Cinabar]

As Christmas is just around the corner the chances are that there are going to be a few snacking moments over the season when you want a big bowl of tortilla chips and a dip and to watch a film. These new ones are from the makers of Walkers, and have some interesting varieties, we decided to start off with the Roasted Red Chilli with Mediterranean Sundried Tomato.

The tortilla chips are large triangular shapes, although some are curled over these are still the perfect size for scooping up a dip. My favourite is a supermarket own Tzatziki, now I know being Greek you wouldn’t think it would match up with tortilla chips, but personally I’d favour it higher than Guacamole any day.
Anyway the flavour of these tortilla chips was tasty but subtle. I liked how the base flavour came through well, the corn taste was wholesome and satisfying and they had a good crunch. The seasoning wasn’t as strong as I’d have liked. I think they pictured the scene of people sharing these with friends and didn’t want them hot enough to put anyone off, but I thought they were a little too mild for a product labelled as chilli. It was just a gentle tang. The tomato hint was nice though and did make them easy eating.

Of course these also work really well served as a side with chilli con carne, and used to mop up some sour cream dip to cool the heat of the chilli.
We have also reviewed:

Market Deli Pita Chips - Roasted Garlic with Mediterranean herbs
Market Deli Crisps – Flame Grilled Spanish Chorizo with Roasted Onion

Many thanks to Walkers for sending over the crisps in return for an honest review.
By Cinabar