31 January 2015

Chicharon Pork Crunch Hot & Spicy (Day In Supermarket) [By @SpectreUK]

I find both pork scratchings and pork crunch great pub snacks. It's the saltiness mixed in with the porky flavour that brings out the flavour of the beer. Unfortunately I didn't have a beer handy, only a sandwich, when I came to sample these Chicharon Hot & Spicy Pork Crunch. Then again I try to avoid beer when I have something very flavoursome or chilli hot, because the intense flavours and burn can detract away from the beer.

There was a heavy pork rind smell on opening the big bag. The pork crunch inside was covered liberally with red flecks of chilli. The pork crunches were a mixture of sizes with most being very big and fluffy with an excellent crunch. They had a salty flavour to start with which was quickly replaced by a fiery peppery chilli burn that lingered in my mouth, making me want another both for its moreish qualities and to ward off the shear burning sensation left in the aftertaste. After a few crunches my nose started to sweat a little. I started the bag with the heating on and wearing a jacket whilst eating my lunch watching the TV. Half the bag through I had to take my jacket off and turn the heating off as the pork crunches warmed me from inside to out. These pork crunches would warm up an Eskimo! I could really appreciate the flavoursome burst with every pork crunch. These crunchy treats melted in the mouth after a few seconds of crunching and saltiness to produce an explosion of hot chilli. Really tasty, really hot, really good.

Information on the bag;
80g bag made by Pinoy's Choice, produced in the UK. 472 calories per 100g, with 20.9g of fat. Ingredients included; pork rind, sugar, dextrose, potato starch, salt, spices, tomato powder, red bell peppers, garlic powder, yeast extract, onion powder, parsley, natural colours, and spice extract. Not for vegetarians!
By Spectre

30 January 2015

Kit Kat Toffee Treat Version 2(!) Four Fingers Edition [By @Cinabar]

Yesterday I learned that the Kit Kat Toffee Treat four finger bar was significantly different to the Kit Kat multiple pack Toffee Treat two finger bars. It's a strange concept and I had a thought that I should go and pick one up to investigate the difference between the different sized chocolates. By a slightly strange coincidence at work today one of the lads went out to get his lunch and ended up buying several of the Kit Kat Toffee Treat (four finger) bars in order to get his lunch above the prerequisite £10 to pay by card. He actually hadn’t realised he’d picked up a limited edition and was a bit disappointed that he had. I was a benefit of this, and greedily snapped one up.
The four finger bar is different to the multipack two finger version in that the toffee coating covers the entire bar, there is no chocolate on this version, just pure toffee coating. This made it remarkably similar to the Caramac Kit Kat of old, previously available as a multipack bar two finger. The Caramac Kit Kat was a much loved bar, but one for those with a sweet tooth, as is this.
This four finger Toffee Treat is a very sugary tasting bar, and I felt this would have actually worked better as two finger multipack edition as the sweetness overload from two fingers was plenty. Likewise the toffee chocolate edition that was a two finger bar would work better as a four finger bar as the chocolate taste made it more tolerable. Geez this is all getting a bit confusing, and it is bizarre that there are differences between the two bars when they are both officially called the same thing.
Anyway I wonder how many more version of caramel / toffee etc Kit Kat have up their sleeves for us?
The review of the other Toffee Treat two finger multipack edition can be found: here.
By Cinabar

Warburtons’ 'Big Red Breakfast Kit’ [By @Cinabar]

Warburtons have teamed up with the British Heart Foundation and their new packs are giving 5p from the sale of every loaf to the BHF. It is part of their pledge to raise £1million to help keep British families heart’s healthy.
They are currently promoting the benefits of a healthy breakfast at the start of the day. They sent us the lovely Big Red Breakfast Kit to inspire us to have a balanced tasty breakfast. We sat down to boiled eggs, toast with our homemade jam; one of the benefits of having several berry plants in the garden. We have blackcurrant, raspberries, gooseberries, rhubarb and various other goodies that get presevred each summer.
I also had a favourite treat of mine, a toasted banana sandwich with a good drizzle of honey. My dad is a beekeeper, so we always eat plenty of honey. It is mostly healthy though, one of your five a day, some starchy carbohydrates from the bread and a little natural sweetness.
If you want to win your own Big Red Breakfast kit, do head over tot the Warburtons Facebook page as they are running a competition. https://www.facebook.com/Warburtons
By Cinabar

29 January 2015

KAKOR APPLE biscuits - IKEA [by @NLi10]

While we were at Ikea I picked up a few food items - including this simple packet of biscuits.

I'm not sure what KAKOR is but I understand Apple and wondered what these variation on our own Jammy Dodgers would be like.

They are far less crumbly than the British style ones and the jam is almost set and snappy.  It makes a much different style biscuit and then we have vanilla creme around the edge too.  There are many fun ways to eat this too, nibble the edges - take it apart - dunk it - etc. but the apple flavour really isn't that noticeable.  

I can eat three or four of these without really noticing and would happily add more of these to the shop when I'm next forced to require flat-pack furniture.

28 January 2015

Honey and Red Ginseng (Vanguard Store, Birmingham) [By @SpectreUK]

This Honey and Red Ginseng drink intrigued me in the shop. I like honey, but have no idea what Red Ginsing tastes like on its own. I may have had it mixed with other ingredients in drinks before, but not so prominent. Here it's mixed with honey although there isn't much of a percentage of it next to the amount of apple concentrate, so I was expecting this drink to taste more of apple and honey. Mmm... Apple and honey! On opening the golden coloured liquid's bottle I had a sharp smell of what could only be described as hotel showergel. Granted probably a pretty swanky hotel with all the trimmings. The type of place you'd want to steal (liberate) the showergel from, and anything else that wasn't nailed down on checking out! Nevertheless showergel is what this Honey and Red Ginsing drink smelt like. Its only saving grace is that it didn't smell like Dr Pepper! Blurrgh! It actually tasted like those chemically enhanced blueberry Skittles mixed with honey and soap. I need something to wash down the flavour. Pass me the Dr Pepper... :-s

Information on the bottle;
Produced by Woongjin, in Korea. 180ml at 115 calories with 15g of sugar. Ingredients included; Red Ginsing concentrate (0.08%), apple concentrate (0.22%), white sugar, honey, cyclodextrin, dextrin, carrageenan, citric acid, caramel colour, honey flavour, and Red Ginsing flavour.
By Spectre

27 January 2015

New Mars Xtra Choc (Local Newsagent) [By @Cinabar]

Following on from the uncreative new release from Kit Kat Toffee Treat, I have to say my heart slumped a little when I heard about the latest new edition to Mars, “Xtra Choc”. I can’t help but feel so disappointed in these large confectionary companies; their development team has a library of flavours available and then they go and pick some uber safe choices for the British market. As a country I can’t decided if we are just remarkably unadventurous or it is that we are a small country so they can’t be bothered with the product development, probably a combination of both to be honest. I think the economy doesn’t help, it puts these large companies off investing in anything that might be a little risky, everybody likes the simple options so that is where they stick. They still want to release new products so we end up with these strange limited editions that aren’t very different at all. This new Mars Xtra Choc is described as having “an extra chocolatey Mars Taste”. I guess Mars thought that they knew the British public likes chocolate so lets chuck more at the bar.
For me the best thing about Mars is that slight malty flavour that is packed in the nougat layer. This particular version had extra chocolate in that layer, which did work nicely with it. I can’t lie, I like Mars chocolate and more of it was nice. Would I go desperately hunting this bar out, or panic buy them when it comes to the end of the limited edition period absolutely not. Its fine, it is what it is, but it is far from exciting the person who set up Foodstuff Finds with the intention of reviewing all the crazy products out there.
Here is hoping some of the big brands have some more exciting goodies planned for release throughout 2015, January has seen a slow start from the high street chocolate companies.
By Cinabar

26 January 2015

New Kit Kat Toffee Treat (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

Caramel is very much the go to flavour of the British public. It is an easy win, sugary with nothing offensive about it. I think Kit Kat have, over the years, cashed in on this idea, with caramel flavoured flat Kit Kats available in multi packs, caramel flavour Kit Kit Chunkies, Caramel Kit Kat Senses, Caramac Kit Kat and most recently a Kit Kat with two different types of Caramel within it.
I can imagine clearly then the recent meeting that must have taken place at Kit Kat UK head quarters where they must have spent several hours trying to think of a new format for another caramel bar, and realised they really had done caramel to death. I suspect someone at the back shouted “how about toffee, its like caramel but very slightly different” and he or she was probably lifted on the their colleagues shoulders during the applause and got a promotion. I jest but if you’ve seen the bucket loads of flavoured Kit Kats available across the world, (Japan in particular) you’d understand my frustration.
Anyway back to the latest new UK Kit Kat, Toffee Treat. It is the traditional twin sized Kit Kat available in fingers in multi packs. I like unwrapping these Kit Kats as they feel very retro with their paper wrapper covering the tin foil. I was quite pleased to see the chocolate was at least properly different and the coating was three quarters covered in a paler chocolate toffee concoction. It smelt lovely when the wrapper was off. The flavour was all in the coating, the Kit Kat looked normal inside. I have to admit I enjoyed it, the toffee flavour was nice, not too strong and had a soothing brown sugary taste. The chocolate was still prominent and the Kit Kat was an easy to like bar, not exciting you understand but undeniably tasty. I’m not sure we are going to see the crazy flavours that are available abroad, so I guess I’m stuck with import shops for them.
As an attempt to help out the product development team at Kit Kat HQ I had an idea, email me if you want to sort out royalties Nestle but how about… Kit Kat Butterscotch edition, that sounds right up your street.
By Cinabar

25 January 2015

Pieminister Pie Pots - 4 flavours [by @NLi10] @pieminister

I spotted a tweet by someone who had received a box of some new Pieminister goodies and contacted them to see if we could have a box too - they said yes!

It turns out that the new products are not so much pies as the bits inside a pie in a pot - Pie Pots!  Realistically they have a few tweaks that i'll get to, but as a concept it should work quite well. Even better than this it only takes 4 mins in the microwave to cook - which means I can eat these at work!  I took the first one on the very day I received them in the post.  We've recently suffered from a massive downsizing of the available catering at our hospital so decent hot filling lunches require planning and a trek to find. Bringing your own in is becoming an increasingly appealing idea.

I ate the first half during a presentation (in the dark!) but after we escaped I still had some of the Matador pot left.  The most noticeable difference is that there is potato in here instead of pastry around the outside - a LOT of potato.  Luckily they soak up the sauce and have a lovely flavour. Also they cook really well in the microwave unlike pastry.  In typical Pieminister fashion everything is large and distinct from the potatoes and meat down to the beans.  This was a spot on lunch, spicy enough to be interesting but easily eatable, and with a variety of textures and tastes floating around.  I'd rather have the equivalent pie but I can't do that at work.

The following day I varied things up by going for the Chicken version.  Essentially this is cock-a-leekie but with potatoes and again huge chunks of ingredient.  The flavour was much milder than the Spanish themed pie, but still nice.  There was probably more chicken in here than steak and chorizo in the other pie, but it was still mostly potato.

I'm not sure whether I preferred this to the first one or not.  They are very different takes on the same idea.  Again - I'd rather have the pie, but that's not going to happen.

My third pot was the Moo & Brew which is the steak and ale version of the pots. 

Kind of somewhere between the two above pies as it's sauce based but not spicy - more of a gravy and similar to the Moo pie (that again I'd have rather had).  There was more steak here than the first one.  And again the mix and ingredients were lovely.  This was my least favourite of the three, but still a great lunch and when I reordered these from Ocado for this week I still added one of each.

The final pot was eaten by my partner.  She is a vegetarian - and the Meany Bean was suitable for vegetarians so I thought it only fair that she had a quality lunch too.  In all pots the potato still has the skins on too which I'm not usually that keen on, but here it works.  My partner prefers potato this way so she was happy with this too.  She suggested it was very tasty, and filling enough to reduce snacking in the afternoon and to want more.  I ordered three of these so I could try one and she could have a couple.

And we even used the strong refrigerated box to build a fort for our new kitten!

While pies are not suitable for kittens the padded box they came in was perfect for hiding from the bigger cats after she's spent a while terrorising them.

My main problem with the pie pots (apart from the fact that they are really stew pots and not pie related) was that I thought they may be too costly for lunch every day - but Ocado has them on two for £6 at the moment and £3 a day is very comparable to buying food at work and cheaper than the meal deals in the shop.

While I won't have them every day, in the winter it's certainly a nice surprise of a range and something that I plan on having often.

24 January 2015

Win a Hotel Chocolat Valentines Goody Bag

If you read the review for the Hotel Chocolat Valentines Goody Bag you will have seen a what gorgeous gift set it is, and how the chocolates inside are just divine. The lovely folks from Hotel Chocolat are offering up a Valentines Goody Bag to one of our lucky readers as a competition prize.

If you want the chance to get your hands on the chocolates from Hotel Chocolat, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!!

• A winner will be chosen at random
• UK residents only
• If we can’t get in touch with a winner in a reasonable amount of time to obtain an address another winner will be selected
• If you have any questions about this competition, please send me an email or leave a comment below

Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale (Ocado) [By @SpectreUK]

Brewed by Wells and Youngs in Bedford this Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale reminded me of a time we were travelling back from a holiday and had stopped at a service station for dinner. There was a French couple sat at a table nearby and the woman said "Sticky toffee pudding" quite loudly. It was a fairly bizarre moment as such a heavy French accent stating the name of a very British pudding was rather arresting! I do rather like sticky toffee pudding, especially with custard, but that's beside the point. And if you're a regular reader you'll know I rather like my ale too. I do rather like French women as well, but that's also beside the point. There was a time when I was young, and that does seem unlikely looking in the mirror these days, when my parents took me and my sister on holiday to France. We were ordering in a restaurant one lunchtime and a rather attractive woman in a French Maid's type outfit came up to me and pinched my rather chubby cheeks stating in a French accent "What a cute little boy!" Hence I've been rather taken by French women's ascents (and French maids outfits) ever since.

I digress Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale... The label promised this ale would be "full of rich sticky toffee-ness", which sounded good to me after a huge steak lunch down town. On opening the bottle there was definitely a toffee sweetness to the bitter hoppy odour of this dark amber ale. It poured thickly into my beer mug with a good frothy creamy head. On taste there was a strong hoppy bitter kick mixed with a light toffee sweetness to start with. The toffeeness intensified, not over poweringly mind you, to then almost apologetically bump into a heavy malted flavour. The toffee mixed with the malt to follow through into the aftertaste. I wouldn't say this was the sweetest ale I've ever tasted as some of the chocolate ales and porters have been quite sweet and perfect for pudding, but I certainly wouldn't eat anything savoury whilst drinking it. This makes a perfect late night ale, it's bitter and strong flavoured enough to make your tastebuds sit up, but with an added sweet and mild creaminess to send you off to bed feeling rather content with yourself. I'll certainly have another one or two or more at some point. So don't be put off if you don't like sweet pudding ales, as this is a hammerer. It slaps you with strong bitterness to start with, then gives you a sweet cheeky pinch and makes you feel on top of the world. A sensation I doubt you'll forget in a hurry!

Information on the bottle;
500ml bottle at 5% volume. Ingredients included; natural mineral water, barley malt, sugar, hops, yeast, caramel, and natural toffee flavouring.
By Spectre

23 January 2015

The Valentines Goody Bag (@HotelChocolat) [By @Cinabar]

This lovely selection of goodies from Hotel Chocolat is reminder that it isn't long to Valentines Day! The lovely folks from Hotel Chocolat asked if I wanted to review their Valentines Goodie Bag, and how could I resist. The smart gift bag comes sealed with a ribbon and looks like it is packed with contents. I really enjoyed diving into all the goodies and seeing what was there.

The first thing I noticed was the lovely bag of champagne truffles. The dusted milk chocolates have a thick milk chocolate case, and a silky smooth truffle inside with a nice twist of champagne. They taste very luxurious and the flavour balance is spot on. The champagne is strong enough to be noticed, but it works with the chocolate rather than against it. There was a duo of chocolates too, with an Eton Mess and a praline heart to bring some tastes of the selection boxes available.

There are two milk chocolate bars in the bag, one of which is ornately decorated with a solid heart on the front, the other is undecorated, but just as nice. Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate is in a league of its own, it is one of the few chocolates where you can really pick up on impressive cocoa taste, and appreciate all its tones. It isn’t the creamiest milk chocolate but it is pleasantly sweet and moreishly smooth. There are beautifully decorated milk chocolate hearts hidden the Nudge Nudge box too for good measure, each with doves and flowers embossed on them, so romantic.

My favourite item in the box were the Passion Fruit Truffles. They are heart shaped and decorated with bright Valentine’s pink. I love fruit creams and these were so much more than that. The thick white chocolate shell was mellow and creamy and helped tone down the strong zingy passion fruit truffle inside. The combination was perfect the soothing chocolate bringing out the best of the sharp fruity taste.

There is a good variety of chocolates in the bag, something for every taste. This the sort of gift that would be perfect to share on Valentines, but try not to judge your loved one if they don't split the bag with you. These chocolates are a bit too nice. ;-)
By Cinabar

22 January 2015

Pressels - Not just a pretzel! [by @NLi10]

Some PR companies send you a few vouchers, and then you struggle to find the product. Others package things badly so you don't get the brand new quality. Others, at the opposite end of the scale, try to wow you with experience design and flair. This is one of those times.

I'm not a fan of over packaging, but getting this in the post is a little bit special! Plus it protected the little crispy circles really well so works on both fronts. It all went in the recycling too so there is no pretzel related guilt.

What we have here is essentially a hybrid between pretzels and bagels called Pressels. They are hard and crisp with either original (salt), sesame (and salt), or everything (salt and pepper and two kinds of seeds). 

They are all rather tasty as the base circles have been cooked really well and give a rich doughy flavour that contrasts nicely with the tangy toppings. They remind me of the edges of home baked pizza, which everyone knows is the best bit. They snap and crunch delightfully and the clear and crisp flavours are a delight.

Apparently they were created "as a reaction to the lack of innovation in the snacking category" which I take issue with. Firstly - Bacon Jam exists, and secondly these are just differently shaped pretzels - not that different at all! The themes and the toppings (inspired by bagels - like the shape) are a good idea and mean they are interesting enough to tempt in first time buyers.

I'd agree that these are healthier than regular fried crisps with a quarter of the fat content per 100g but they do have almost double the salt. Also - they are very very nice so the bags 7 portions is very very optimistic. They stress that they can go in the good for you section of the supermarket, and while I agree I think that these are only a positive step until you eat most of a whole bag for lunch.

Usually I'd try and pick out a favourite flavour but they all exist quite distinctly, with the plain one being best for with other food, the everything one being the best all round snack and the sesame one having a lightness that would suit drinks or a dinner party. 

The office test went very well with people taking handfuls for later and expressing an interest in visiting Waitrose to hunt them down.  I'm sure I'll pick these up again for socialising, I don't tend to buy big bag snacks unless I'm expecting guests, but when I do Waitrose is where I head.

While not the great innovation their creator claims I think these are different enough to stand out, and I hope that more bagel inspired flavours find their way to the UK. I'll certainly be happy to pick those up too.

21 January 2015

Nissin Teriyaki Soba (Chinese Market, Birmingham) [By @SpectreUK]

On the front of the pot it stated; "Noodles with Yakisoba sauce", and on the back it stated; "Instant wheat noodles with Teriyaki sauce", which as far as I know are slightly different sauces, so that confused me a little. The instructions stated to remove the lid and sachet, add boiling water and replace lid leaving it stand for three minutes, then drain off the excess water, add the sachet, stir and Bob's your uncle! Well it didn't mention Bob, but you get the idea. I've never seen a pot noodle type product that asks you to drain the water before and if I knew someone called Bob, I'd ask them if they had heard of one too. So unlike my usual sculduggery I followed the instructions to the tee. After leaving it to stand and draining off a small amount of water I added the squishy almost black contents of the sachet to the mixture of wet noodles and mixed diced vegetables. I stirred vigorously and left the pot to cool for a while. I noticed that the mixture in the pot had turned a very pleasing golden brown colour. The smell of the sauce made my mouth water. On first taste my chin took a bit of a bash from the wet noodles, but you always have to be armed with a tissue when eating a cup of hot noodles. They definitely hadn't scrimped on the diced vegetables either (see the ingredients for the full list). The sauce itself didn't taste as sweet as some Teriyaki sauces I've eaten in restaurants, but that was okay, because it was tasty in its own right and lip-smackingly so. Besides I'm not absolutely sure it was supposed to be Teriyaki sauce. However I really enjoyed this cup of noodles whatever sauce it claimed to be or not to be, and I would certainly have it again.

Information on the pot;
90g recyclable plastic pot. At 100g there are 214 calories with 9.4g of fat and 4.5g of sugar. Produced by Nissin Foods in Frankfurt. Ingredients included; noodles (72%), which included; wheat flour, palm oil, and salt amongst a few E numbers; and seasoning sauce (21.7%), which included; soy sauce, sugar, rapeseed oil, dextrose, hydrolysed vegetable protein, salt, spices, celery, plain caramel, chicken meat powder (not for vegetarians then), plus diced cabbage, carrot, shiitake mushroom, and green onion. May also contain traces of crustacean, fish, milk, molluscs, mustard and sesame.
By Spectre

20 January 2015

DairyFine Gooey Eggjoyables Eggs (Aldi) [By @Cinabar]

Given all the recent controversy over Cadbury Creme Eggs, my loyalty to the brand has reduced a little. Basically Cadbury changed the recipe (now with less cocoa) for the chocolate and reduced the usual punnets of six eggs to five, with retailers seemingly maintaining last years prices per box. There is a full blog about that here: link
When I was shopping in Aldi I noticed they had DairyFine Eggs and I thought I would give them a try and seem how they compare. There are three in a box, but strangely they aren't wrapped in silver foil, I had assumed they would be, probably from all the years of eating Cadbury ones. They look and feel about the same size and weight as a Cadbury egg, but on closer inspection do come in at a few grams less.
I bit in and was pleased by the chocolate, it was nice and thick but obviously being a different brand the recipe was noticeably different. It was nice though, sweet and creamy and a surprisingly rich taste from the cocoa. The fondant was gooey, and sweet too, giving these eggs a lovely sugary hit. There was one issue though, and I'm not yoking about this,the fondant was all white!
All in all though I liked these eggs, they are packaged very sweetly and would make a nice Easter stocking filler gift.
By Cinabar

19 January 2015

New Limited Edition Aero Hazelnut & Choc Mousse (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

Although not advertised particularly as being a low calorie dessert, Aero mousse still meet the criteria for the those having a healthy January. We buy them fairly often anyway as they are a nice light sweet treat after dinner and these have just 85 calories. However my mum spotted that there was a new flavour available in Waitrose, this new Aero Hazelnut variety. It is packed a bright orange-red box and stood out on the shelf nicely.
The mousse is a brown in colour and does show off a dominance of chocolate, but you’d expect that from Aero. There is a darker layer of chocolate sauce mixed into the dessert giving it a pretty marbled effect. The flavour is actually a nice balance of chocolate and nut. There is plenty of both flavours and both work together well, reminding me of chocolate hazelnut spreads you have on toast. I was impressed by the richness of the hazelnut taste and thought it would be perfect for nut fans. As they are two of my favourite flavours I found myself scraping out the reminiscence of the tub to get every last bit out. The mousse if very fluffy in texture, and melts in the mouth, so sadly the pot doesn’t last long, but the sweetness hit was just enough.
I think this is a lovely addition to the range of Aero mousse desserts and certainly one I'll buy again. Here is hoping that Aero have plans to release a hazelnut Aero bar, that would really make my day!
By Cinabar

18 January 2015

KANELBULLAR (Cinnamon Buns) - IKEA [by @NLi10]

We had a trip to IKEA today.  We went really early and utilised the 'browsing time' before the tills open on a Sunday so that we didn't have to face the hordes that arrive at lunch time and look confused that it's busy.  This meant I had time to have a poke around in their food section. 

I bought a lot of savoury things for later on, but also a bag of cinnamon buns (KANELBULLAR) to cook in the oven.

When it's threatening to snow a lunch that is both hot and freshly baked seemed a good idea so they went straight in when we got home.  They started like this:

And went to this.  We decided not to over-bake them so they are a lot paler than the original picture suggested.  If I'd let the oven heat up more then I'd have been tempted, but we were hungry and soft bread is always lovely.

We had a couple each.  The bread itself is nicely flavoured but not sweet.  All that comes from the dusting of sugar crystals and the cinnamon spread in the spiral.  There were no hidden surprises like raisins or extra odd things, and they actually taste like the Scandinavian pastries we had in Norway.

While I'd not make a special trip to IKEA just to get them (it's a little crowded even when it's quiet) I may be tempted to pick up another bag for the freezer when I'm there next.  It's like your reward for following the shuffling line of people with trollies with only a lint-roller in them...

17 January 2015

Southwold Hibiscus Wheat Beer (Marks and Spencer) [By @SpectreUK]

I do love a good wheat beer and it states on the neck of the bottle; "An infusion of Southwold wheat beer and hibiscus flowers", it reminds of a joke punchline in Fawlty Towers by Sybil, Basil Fawlty's wife; "pretentious moi!". In fact there is an illustration of a woman (well, mermaid) checking herself in the mirror with some hibiscus in her hair, that reminded me a bit of Sybil too. She did have something about her, in a way... Even if most of it was scary! And don't get me wrong, I do love Marks and Spencer, but sometimes... "Southwold Hibiscus Wheat Beer", come on... Call it "Mermaids Elbow" if you like! Although that sounds a bit like a swimming injury. However, I did notice fairly quickly that this particular wheat beer was brewed by a favourite brewery called Adnams. On opening the beer I noticed a strong sharpish flowery smell to this energetic bubbly dark amber beer. On first taste I was pretty taken back by the sourness that pile drived straight through any malted or hoppy flavours. There was definitely a flowery taste too, as my nose hairs plaited themselves with every swig. This was probably the most sour beer I've ever tasted, and the gooseberry one was pretty sour as far as I recall. I experienced a certain masocistic fervour when drinking this beer, and strangely enjoyed every nose tingling sip. I'd recommend you give it go, especially if you want to self harm for some reason but don't want to leave any marks! After all this is not just any old Hibiscus Wheat Beer, this is Southwold Hibiscus Wheat Beer brewed by Adnams for Marks and Spencer Hibiscus Wheat Beer!

Information on the bottle;
330ml bottle at 4.3% volume. From Adnams Brewery, Southwold, in Suffolk. Ingredients included; water, malted barley (contains gluten), malted wheat, hibiscus, yeast, hops, carbon dioxide.
By Spectre

16 January 2015

New 2015 Recipe - Cadbury Creme Eggs (Aldi) [By @cinabar]

The humble Creme Egg is quite a big thing in Britain. When I purchased this box of eggs in Aldi the lady serving me said that she was excited to see them back on the shelves and that she looked forward to them every year. Me too.
This year they have been surrounded by controversy, hence my decision to give them a review. They have had a recipe change, the chocolate is no longer Dairy Milk and it is pretty shocking that they would mess with such a classic recipe in this way. I noticed too that although the eggs look the same size as last year they have 177 calories and last year they had 185 calories so there are changes afoot.
I unwrapped one of the eggs and it looked and smelt pretty much like every Cadbury Creme Egg I’ve seen previously. I bit in and the chocolate felt slightly harder than usual, I don't think the egg shell was any thicker it just seemed a little firmer. Now I'm going to be honest the chocolate wasn't that dissimilar. It was, if you were looking for it, sweeter and less creamy, and not Diary Milk. It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't the nostalgic taste you recognise as being distinctly Cadbury. The fondant seemed samey to me, overly sweet, but as a whole the creamy soothing edge of the egg wasn't quite there. Cadbury have been quoted on saying they have improved the recipe for the public. I suspect a lot of the public wouldn't notice the difference, but I can't see how it is an improvement. Coincidentally the cocoa content has been reduced in the eggs and the price of cocoa has risen.
More upsetting than all of that though is this box of eggs. You would be hard pushed to find real eggs in any numeration that isn't divisable by six in the shops. Last year a box of six Cadbury Creme eggs was £2 this year a box of five eggs is also £2, that's the part I find the worst. I'd rather have had a price increase and had six proper Dairy Milk eggs in a box.
By Cinabar

15 January 2015

Breckland Orchard Posh Pops - Rhubarb & Ginger/Dandelion & Burdock [@NLi10]

As a big soft drinks fan there is nothing better than discovering new ranges that are good enough to keep coming back to.  This is one I first discovered Christmas Day 2012 and have received a few times since but not really written about.  I've only seen these a few times in the wild, but my partner's mother has a local shop that sells a mighty range of them, so I keep getting them as presents. Very, very welcome presents!

I've had a variety of lemonades and other 'boutique soft drinks' and happened to remember to take pictures and notes for the latest batch.

First up and the most intriguing of this batch is the Rhubarb and Ginger.

While I'm not a great fan of ginger in spicy food (where I find it amplifies the flavours too much for me) in drinks and snacks I find it quite exciting. My recent gingerbread experiment used fresh ginger and I really liked the explosions from the strips I'd used.  Similarly this has a Rhubarb background flavour with for me the ginger overtaking this and adding a refreshing layer on top.  My partner isn't a fan of rhubarb and found that taste to be too powerfully present for her.  I used to chew on fresh sticks of the stuff as a child so maybe could have had even more!

I'll happily have this in the future, preferably in the summer.

Finally for today we have this Dandelion & Burdock.  As I've mentioned before I hated this as a child (i probably tried it once and refused afterwards) but discovered that I love it as an adult.  With a lighter flavour than the Fentimans version that I usually end up drinking while out in bars this is much more suitable to enjoy with a meal.  Again this is non artificial and made in the UK and has a very natural flavour.

While I don't think this will become my D&B of choice it's certainly very enjoyable and something I will undoubtably pick up again.  Theres something very alluring about the flavours here, and while they just aren't as strong as I may be used to the awards it has won are very deserved.

You can find out more about the people behind this here and the site contains some very exciting flavours I shall have to try and locate.  Maybe I'll have to visit the garden centre these all have been coming from myself!

14 January 2015

Young Coconut Water (Day In Supermarket) [By @SpectreUK]

This Young Coconut Water by Wonderfarm in Malaysia sounded suitably weird when I bought it. I've had some strange drinks before and I couldn't help wondering what the difference between young and old coconut juice was like. I've tasted chocolate and coconut milk, and also flavoured coconut juice before. Coconut juice straight with some pulp sounded like an odd, but refreshing change. On pouring from the can this was a clear almost transparent still juice drink with shredded pieces of young white coconut pulp floating around inside the glass. There was a light coconut smell to the drink, but nothing overpowering. It also had a light coconut taste to start with, no particular sweetness either, but the coconut flavour intensified moving into the aftertaste as I munched on the small pieces of white pulp. I wanted to be refreshed by this drink and I wasn't to be disappointed. I also wanted something different and was surprised at how subtle the drink was. It disappeared pretty quickly from the glass too, which is always a good sign, and then I almost lovingly chomped down the last few pieces of shredded young coconut pulp.

Information on the can;
330ml can, per 100ml at 38 calories, with 0.1g of fat. Ingredients included; young coconut water, young coconut pulp, sugar, and potassium meta bisulphide 0.003%, preservative; Sulphur Dioxide.

13 January 2015

Muller Light After Dinner Mint (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

As I’m having my “eating a little healthier” phase, which is not to be mistaken as a proper January Detox, I have been looking round the shops at a few lighter alternatives. It is quite funny to see several shops have reduced all the luxury treats and now they are seemingly lighter versions of things on the shelves. The offers keep drawing me in and I have to remind myself not to put cut price luxury chocolates in the basket. :-D
I have always been a fan of Muller yoghurts, and they are my go to low fat treat for a sweet kick. I had a look at the new flavours and this After Dinner Mint seemed the most interesting. When I peeled back the lid the yoghurt was a light creamy green colour. Only very slightly green, but even when something is mint it is still not the best colour for a foodstuff.
I enjoyed the yoghurt though, it was sweet and had a nice taste of peppermint, which was well balanced. The chocolate taste came through as there were bits of dark chocolate throughout the yoghurt, these were quite strong and added just enough dark chocolate flavour.
Muller yoghurts are always quite filling as they are in a generous large pot and this left me feeling satisfied, even if it was a fat free treat.
By Cinabar

12 January 2015

Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

I know it is a bit early but I couldn't resist taking a glance at the Easter goodies in Tesco. At the minute the section is quite small, and I know it will grow over the coming weeks and the full size eggs will appear too, but there are still quite a few novelties already. I've seen many of the items before, Creme Eggs, Lindt bunnies etc, but the Reese's Egg looked new, and not even from an import store.
Now an egg to me is something that is properly three dimensional egg shaped, like the Creme Eggs; this on the other hand is more of a flat oval. Sadly it was a little bit damaged too. Although the pack does have some cardboard to protect it, it wasn’t enough and the top chocolate was cracked in several places. It wasn’t a one off, the other one I purchased (at the same time) was exactly the same. I can see why they didn’t attempt a genuine full egg shape, it would just end up being a squishy mess!
It tasted good though, there was lots of peanut butter. The ratio to chocolate was high and the egg was quite thick in shape. The peanut butter was fairly smooth, and had that lovely slightly salty flavour that Reese’s always does. The chocolate added a nice sweetness to it, and I was licking my fingers by the end. In some respects anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter is a good thing. I love the flavour combination and as such thought this was a lovely novelty. It is just a shame they were cracked the way they were, if it is a novelty gift for someone you really want it to look nice.
If you need me to go back and buy another next week, to complete the random sampling, and check to see if they are broken in any way that is just the kind of sacrifice I’m willing to make for Foodstuff Finds. ;-)
By Cinabar

11 January 2015

Nintendo New 3DS - European Ambassador Edition [by @NLi10]

Nintendo New 3DS - Ambassador Edition & other Christmas surprises

Christmas is a time for unexpected acquisitions, both as presents and opportunities arise.  For example just before we introduced a new kitten to the review team!

Cons: Other 3 cats not so keen initially, piddles on things
Pros: Rescuing animals in need is good, kittens are adorable

A few days into the new year Nintendo offered a few lucky people by e-mail the chance to be one of the first to purchase the European version of the new & updated 3DS.  I decided to go for it.

Saturday morning a box arrived with the goods.

I got an Ambassador Edition New 3DS, charging cradle and two sets of face plates for £180.  The machine will be £160 ish when released in the UK (we think around Easter) and will not come with the charger or the second set of face plates which I think will be about £10 each.  The plates on display here are also exclusive to this edition.  You don't get a charger but I already had two so that saved everyone some money.  The symbols on the top are explained below.

Kitten is helping already - she loves the large cardboard box that it came in too!  And here is the actual machine in all it's glory.

It was a faff to set up the copying from my old 3DS to the new one.  I had a lovely fast 16GB card in my old one that doesn't fit in the new MicroSD slot, but the new one came with a slower 4GB card so I've had to use a computer to trim the data down.  You don't loose any of your steps or street passes though which is nice, but the extra £3 or so for a class 10 8GB would have made everything so much smoother for me. At least I can manage the files on the new one using my PC.

While doing the tedious set up you can of course munch through the sweets you got for Christmas.  I got lots of fruity liquorice which is great as I love the stuff.  It really doesn't warrant a whole review though - it's really very similar whatever brand you get.

The Tesco strawberry at the top left was coated in that sour sugar stuff so was the favourite.  The Tesco ones also had no artificial flavours and colours yet actually tasted superior and had a preferable texture to the two larger pound shop bags.  As the pound shop ones are almost three times the size for only a small price increase though I think the differences are forgivable.  Neither are as luxurious as the Mr. Simms liquorice which almost tastes home made, but for high-street sweets these are both acceptable.  We got them out at games night and people had a lot of fun.  I suspect that the blue is very artificial and full of hyperactivity chemicals which may push parents towards the other brand.

The main reason for the new 3DS is the 'improved 3D' which means it knows where your head is and adjusts accordingly.  This can flicker a bit if you are on the bus, but you can adjust it to suit.  There is also a little stick like the ones laptops have which makes controlling some games a touch easier. I prefer these to trackpads so this is a plus.  It also looks a lot like some of Nintendo's best ever handhelds - the white GBA and the DSi.  This is important as the original 3DS did look a little too space age and not business like.  The coloured buttons are cool too.

The screen is improved a bit but the same resolution even though they are a touch larger. The cameras also seem better.  4 years is a long time in technology so it's unsurprising that there are improvements.  There are also technological improvements with faster processors and NFC so it can talk to the Amiibo plastic toys (I have Luigi) when the games allow.

Cons: Rebuying a system you probably already have, pain to copy everything over due to odd memory card size choice
Pros: Better all round, 3D easier to use and more life friendly, going to cause me to actually finish some 3DS games saving money indirectly, grown up appearance?

Whether you upgrade when Easter rolls around to this (or the non-pocket sized XL version) is really going to depend on how much use you got out of the last one.  If you had been thinking about getting one then this is the perfect model.  It's likely the last major revision of the system before time marches on to the next system.