31 March 2015

Maryland Soft Bakes - Caramel and Choc Chunk Cookies (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

I love what we described in the UK as American style cookies. By that I mean ones that are soft in the middle and slightly doughy. Most biscuits sold in the UK are hard all the way through and give me a tendency to dunk them to soften them!
This new product from Maryland made perfect sense to me when I heard about it. They are called Soft Bakes so I made the assumption they were baked but left a little soft, hence the name. I was wrong as it turned out. I opened up the box and had that usual disappointment of how few biscuits there were compared to the pack size, and the large black tray they were sat in.

I broke one of these biscuits in half, and found the texture to be very different from what I was expecting. It was spongey, maybe not a soft fluffy sponge, but certainly more spongey than cookie dough. It felt very aerated, and like a heavy cake. I think it had the addition of some kind of cake raising agent rather than being baked soft, which is a heck of a shame. Let's think of them as biscuits for people who rally fancied something cake like?
I couldn't knock the flavour though. There was plenty of chocolate chips packed in, and the caramel was soft and flavoursome. The biscuits did have a lovely flavour and accompanied a coffee perfectly, even if I didn’t risk dunking them! They were too delicate for that. Tasty enough, just not what I’d hoped for when I heard about them.
By Cinabar

30 March 2015

Cadbury Marvellous Ice Cream Salted Caramel and Sour Cherry (Ocado) [By @Cinabar]

So here are again, another of the new Cadbury ice creams. This version is Salted Caramel and Sour Cherry which sounded like a fun mix.
Inside the tub is a caramel ice cream and a chocolate ice cream swirled together, with plenty of interesting goodies mixed in. I scooped some into bowls avoiding the difficult solid centre, which I left in the tub. More on that later.
I started out by taste testing the caramel side of the ice cream, and thought it was absolutely spot on. The salt in the caramel was a little more pronounced that I had been expecting, but there was plenty of sweet to balance it out and the combination was fun and playful. Also inside the ice cream were bits of biscuit, which stayed remarkably crunchy and almonds. I hadn’t been expecting the nuts, but as I like nuts I was pleased to have them.
The chocolate section of the ice cream was sweet and creamy. The chocolate flavour was lovely, and the sour cherries added a nice zingy taste. Their texture was soft and slightly chewy which again made this very enjoyable to eat. There weren’t that many cherries in our tub, we counted about 10 so when it was shared out that wasn’t very many per person, but this may have just been an unlucky tub.
If this had been all that was in the tub I would have had this as a regular ice cream treat for the up and coming summer months, but it wasn’t. As such I won’t be buying this or the other Cadbury Marvellous ice creams again.
In both of the two tubs of ice cream I’ve tried in this new Marvellous range, I’ve had an additional item that was far from being Marvellous.

Seriously Cadbury this ridiculous solid lump of chocolate is not a treat. It does not serve easily, it looks ugly (like an ailing giant mushroom) and makes scooping the ice cream very awkward. This time I ended up whacking the lump with the spoon, but again the ice cream had ensured it was so cold it was very solid and as such wouldn’t give. I left it in the tub, having served the ice cream as best I could from around it, not sure what to with it. I ended up chucking it in the bin, it’s not very appetising as a hard, partly ice cream coated, sticky but solid lump. What a waste, what a silly thing to include in an ice cream carton. You can’t serve, it you can’t give it to anyone and the shape and hardness makes it very difficult to eat. This is the reason I won’t be buying the Cadbury Marvellous ice creams in a tub again. I assumed after finding one of these weird additions in the first ice cream I reviewed that I’d just been unlucky, but as it was in this variety too I can only assume it is a design feature. Come on Cadbury learn how to swirl chocolate, thinner sheets mixed in, or even chocolate drops would have made this ice cream perfect.
By Cinabar

29 March 2015

KORV - IKEA hotdogs. [by @NLi10]

We picked up some great stuff on our last IKEA trip, including some hotdogs. With the name on the bag I wondered if they were 100% KORV meat, think it's just regular animals really.  I know that they aren't exactly renowned for the quality of the hotdogs but I figured if they could get other meaty things right then these were worth grabbing for the freezer.

One half of a bag of KORV looks like this...

And if you overlook them Slightly this happens! 

Exploder dogs! This actually shows you that there isn't much bad stuff in there - just lots of lovely meaty bits.

The casings were a bit heavy for my liking but the flavour and the texture of the inners was pretty good. I enjoyed them and I think four may have been slightly too many. I have the other half of the bag to eat and I'm quite happy to do that. Not a reason to rush back, but something to pick up if I see them.

28 March 2015

Caramel Egg Sandwich (@HotelChocolat) [By @SpectreUK]

When Cinabar asked me if I wanted a Caramel Egg Sandwich I thought she meant an egg sandwich with some caramel spread of some kind. Then I realised that I'd never had an actual egg sandwich. I'd always been put off as a child when another kid at lunchtime opened their lunchbox to a smell akin to the whiffs my cousin's dogs used to make in their sleep after a good run and something gravy and meaty in their bowl. Ah yes, that's why I've never had an egg sandwich. So I initially said "no". Cinabar convinced me by saying that it wasn't really an egg sandwich, but a caramel flavoured chocolate egg sandwich by Hotel Chocolat. My mind made up for me pretty instantly, especially before Cinabar changed her mind upon parting with it, I asked to see the eggy chocolatey sandwich. I was pretty taken aback. Rarely do I see a snack that I think is quite beautiful. It seemed a shame to open the rather smart sandwich box shaped container to get at the lovely eggy chocolate sandwich inside, but heck this is a blog and someone's got to do it!

I would recommend you open the packet quite carefully over a table, as it could be tricky if you don't slip one piece of Caramel Egg Sandwich out at a time and put the other one back in the box to keep it safe. I ate around the egg first munching on the caramel crisp chocolate 'bread'. The crunchy milk chocolate with caramel crisp like crystals made for a sweet and chocolatey treat, which was both very tasty and moreish. Lip smackingly so in fact. The milk chocolate half egg that had been stuck to the caramel chocolate bread was hollow and I couldn't help almost childishly trying to pick off all the caramel chocolate bread first before diving on the half egg. This was a bit of a messy process as the chocolate started to melt in my fingers, but I couldn't help smiling whilst I ate. I realised that if the egg was solid chocolate it would have been difficult to eat with my old nashers, and if the egg had been filled with some gooey caramel then I would have quickly ended up wearing most of it! I was eating chunks of both chocolate bread and egg, which made for not only a luxurious tasty treat but a joyful adventure of trying not to lose any chocolate on the floor or on my clothes. I popped the last bit of Caramel Egg Sandwich into my mouth and bathed in its tastiness before licking my fingers. If you want to try something quirky and fun to eat, but at the same time a new taste sensational luxury, then this is for you. Definitely in my book the new fun egg for Easter!
By Spectre

27 March 2015

Raspberry Jam and Toast Flavour Muffin (Greggs) [By @Cinabar]

At breakfast time you may have pondered the choice as to what to have. Do you fancy jam and toast or a breakfast muffin, decisions decisions. Well not any more. This new product from Greggs actually consists of both, it is a Jam and Toast flavoured Muffin the creativity of which really made me smile. The muffin is packaged in a bright red wrapper and has a crumble like topping. This topping turned out to taste like toast, it was oat like and bizarrely bread like. The flavour of the sponge was like this too, it wasn’t that sweet but did remind me of toast and butter. It was pleasant and fun, but also very tasty. Texture wise it was a lovely light sponge and not heavy like you might have thought from the suggestion of toast. When I got to the middle of the muffin there was a huge dollop of raspberry jam sitting in the middle. This was a little runny, but not messy.

It was packed with a lovely burst of berry flavours that sweetened up the overall taste of the toast like flavour. As you can imagine the jam and toast flavours worked very well together.  I found the muffin really satisfying, spot on for a fun quick breakfast with a nice hot coffee. Yes I know I’m easily sold on a novelty, but this actually works, wholesome toast flavours and a sweet jam centre all packaged in a fluffy sponge – heaven.
If you’re looking at something more filling I noticed Greggs have started doing egg as an addition to the breakfast range, so I’m looking forward to trying their bacon and egg sandwich next.
By Cinabar

26 March 2015

Chicken & Chorizo Pie - @OldJointStock [by @NLi10]

I was meeting up with friends in town on a quiet Thursday and wondering where to eat.  I worried that they might already have beaten me to the pub of choice so I decided to risk eating there. I'm not usually a fan of "pub grub" fearing the ping of the microwaves and the stodgy chips, but I have vague memories of a wild boar burger I've eaten there before indicating an actual kitchen so decided to risk it.

The pub in question is The Old Joint Stock, and anyone who knows the centre of Birmingham is probably familiar with its lovely architecture and unique little theatre space. Typically I had arrived first and could have risked a trip to Chinatown, but I spotted something of interest on the door menu so was already set to order.

I went for the Chicken & Chorizo Pie (white bean & onion ragout, tomato cream sauce), which is hand crafted and comes with buttered greens, mash and gravy - and looks a little like this.

Naturally our benchmark here is the Pieminister range, but I'm willing to be a bit more forgiving when out and someone else is controlling the presentation.

Digging in we find a rich tomato sauce, and huge chunks of both meats. The chorizo is very recognisable and strong, but a little sparse for my initial liking. I can see what flavour they are going for here and it is something more delicate with the chorizo acting as an occasional pop of flavour. It works very well. The greens are well selected and seasoned enough to be inviting, but not so much to mask the flavour. The mash is light and fluffy and is complemented well by the thick, thick gravy.

Much to my surprise I really enjoyed the meal and wouldn't have swapped it for any of the usual places I walked past.  At £12.95 it's restaurant prices for restaurant food, but I did get to eat it at the giant stone octagonal table while waiting for the rest of my party so the value is there.  It is also a very filling portion - I certainly didn't feel short changed.

When we come for our usual drinks here we like to move on to more exotic foods when the urge takes us, but I may just have to suggest we eat here more often.

25 March 2015

Walkers Sunbites Pitta Bakes (Ocado) [By @SpectreUK]

It often falls on my shoulders to blog about an alternative snack to crisps and nuts. Don't get me wrong, I love crisps but probably eat far too many packets for my own good. So every now and then I like to find a healthier option. One that doesn't effect my waist so much, especially if I'm sat infront of a film for a couple of hours and eat more than one packet with a high calorie larger than usual beer or two! These Walkers Sunbites Pitta Bakes Roasted Pepper and Chilli Flavour certainly seem to fit the bill. I love peppers and I also love chillis, so putting them in a packet with some healthy bread sounds like a good idea to me. It almost feels like not needing to go to the gym!

On opening the packet I could see what Walkers meant when they said that these multigrain Sunbites Crispy Crackers were baked until golden to give them that extra crunch. I was a bit taken aback though as these multigrain Pitta Chips didn't strike me with a peppery or chilli smell. In fact there wasn't much of a whiff coming from the inside of the packet. On first taste of a reddish slim squarish cracker and I realised all the flavour had been packed into each one rather than letting some ooze out in an odour. There was an initial delightful red pepper and tomato flavour for starters mixed with paprika and then a chilli burn to finish the taste. Packed full of flavour, super crunchy, medium hot and very healthy. What more could you want from an alternative snack? Oh yes, another packet...

Information on the packet;
24g packet with 111 calories, 4.1g of fat, 1.3g of sugar and 0.35g of salt. The ingredients included; multigrains (52%); (wheatflour; (contains; calcium, iron, thiamin, and niacin) wholemeal wheatflour, oat flour, wholemeal barley flour, and maize flour), yeast, salt, sunflower oil (contains antioxidant, Rosemary extract), Roasted Pepper and Chilli Seasoning contains; salt, sugar, natural flavourings (with milk), onion powder, paprika, tomato powder, citric acid, black pepper, garlic powder, red bell pepper powder, cayenne pepper powder, and colour paprika extract. Allergy advice contains; wheat, oat, barley, milk and was prepared in a factory that handles gluten, soya and mustard.
By Spectre

24 March 2015

Milk Free Milk Chocolate Goose Egg (Hotel Chocolat) [By @Cinabar]

In a fairly small office at work (20 people) there are two people who have an intolerance to milk. I’m not sure whether that number is higher than average, but the number of milk alternatives being advertised certainly leads me to think that a lot of people have an issue with milk. Hotel Chocolat has developed a milk chocolate that is milk free, i.e. it uses almond milk instead of dairy. I had the lovely opportunity of giving it a taste test in the form of this rather smart Goose Egg.

The egg is very smartly packaged, showing off the chocolate. Inside the box there is a lightly marbled egg and a very generous bag of buttons. The egg is quite thick and took a bit of effort to break. I started tapping it on the table but ended up firmly knocking it against a slate tile! :-D Better that way though.

The taste of the chocolate is very impressive. I found it quite dark for a milk chocolate, and it reminded me of the Super Milk that Hotel Chocolat has recently released. The flavour is very good, the rich tones of the cocoa were very tasty and the chocolate was just sweet enough. The buttons were a nice addition too, and I was enjoying allowing them to melt on the tongue.

The only tell I could spot that the chocolate was different was in the texture. The chocolate felt very slightly thicker in the melt and the texture wasn’t as silky as normal. It is a minor comment really, something you’d only notice if you were looking for the differences. To be fair, to say this chocolate is dairy free it is way ahead of any of the others I’ve tried, as it manages to maintain that luxury.
This the perfect Easter gift if you know someone who thinks they can’t eat dairy chocolate, it will make their day. If you have an intolerance yourself there are actually several goodies at Hotel Chocolat utilising this new recipe, so it is defiantly worth having a look.
By Cinabar

23 March 2015

Walkers Mix Ups Cheese and Worcestershire Sauce [By @Cinabar]

Walkers have a new range of crisps out all called Mix Ups, the idea being that they have combined in one bag two different varieties of their other products. Some of the mixes are a bit more obvious to spot, in that the crisps have distinct shapes like Monster Munch and Doritos, all mixed together. This particular variety combines two very similar looking flavours or regular crisps, cheese and Worcestershire sauce. When I poured them out on the plate I could sort of tell which flavour was which from the depth of the seasoning on them, but they did pretty much look the same.

As fan of cheese on toast with a hefty splash of Worcestershire Sauce this sounded like a very sensible and interesting flavour combination to me. Did you know the flavour of Worcestershire Sauce is made from, amongst other ingredients, anchovies and vinegar. Fascinating fact.
anyway these crisps were had with lunch as a side, and shared out. The darker more orangey crisps tasted of Worcestershire Sauce, and had that slightly acidic but somehow meaty flavour which was very tasty. The cheese crisps seemed mild, but a pleasant not too strong cheese that went well with the Worcestershire Sauce. I liked the idea of the mix of flavours, it made the crisps interesting to eat and would be fun for sharing a bowl in a bowl too. Having one of each was nice and I tried not to deliberately pick a certain flavour, and just enjoyed the mix.
I think this is an idea that works and I'm keen on trying some of the ones with a mix of shaped crisps too. Plus they’ve also started doing a sweet and salty Mix Ups popcorn too, that I can’t wait to try! Many thanks to Walkers for sending these over for us to try.
By Cinabar

22 March 2015

Smokey's Walsall [by @NLi10]

Last Thursday I headed to meet up with my family for the evening, but due to work and traffic I ended up arriving a lot later than planned. Being an Internet savvy person I jumped on Google and typed in 'Good Food Walsall' to chuckle at the options before heading to Burger King.

Much to my surprise there were a couple of fast food outlets that looked a little more exciting than usual and I chose Smokey's as an option. Cutting round the back of the train station past a lot of abandoned buildings heading back towards town I found the restaurant.  

I popped in and ordered a takeaway burger. When they said it'd be 15 minutes I decided to eat in and relax instead of rushing what sounded quite a nice burger. I grabbed a drink and sat down for a bit.

The burger I ordered was the signature beef burger (minus the cheese) which also has bacon and chips for a very reasonable £7.95. With £2 for a Pepsi this means you can eat for under a tenner which is pretty rare for a sit down quality meal.

Oh yes - it also came with beans! I should have taken a picture of the burger with the roof off - it was more of a hand shaped thing than the pathetic little discs you get at McDonalds and it did indeed have the signature smoked taste to it.  It was also incredibly filling and not something I'd have liked to have rushed.  I think that this is one of the nicest burgers I've had and is easily on par with the Gourmet Burger style chains, and way above pub food. The chips were good too, and the whole experience reminded me of the (now closed) Big Dog in Birmingham.

For those of a frankly staggering appetite they also do challenge meals. Only 4 or 5 people were on the monster burger challenge board when I visited so it must be a pretty hard one. As I struggled with the small burger I think I'll pass.

On a late Thursday evening the place was very quiet but they had to turn away a large group booking for the following day as they were already too busy so hopefully I was just an off peak visitor.

I'd encourage anyone who hasn't googled the restaurants in their own home town to have a go and see what they find. You might be pleasantly surprised like I was.

21 March 2015

Wu Gang Chops The Tree (Beer) [By @SpectreUK]

Brewed by the Pressure Drop Brewery in London with foraged herb hefeweisse, there was a lovely olde worlde Chinese pottery type image of a Chinaman chopping down a tree only to be shocked as it springs up again. I feel the same way about university coursework at the moment. Every time I think I've got somewhere with it, another piece of coursework springs up in front of me. Described as a "A pale and hazy wheat beer with pronounced herbal notes, this beer has hints of clove, citrus, and banana." Oh no, not banana again! The pale and wheat beer with herbal notes and hints of clove and citrus sounded great, but not banana! Anyone that knows me a little will know that I hate banana added to things like drinks, especially beer and smoothies. So with no small amount of reluctance I opened this bottle of beer. I must admit that I couldn't smell banana on opening the bottle. There was a wheaty beery smell, with a herby undertone and a little citrus. The banana was unfortunately in the taste. This lively beer once poured bubblingly into my beer glass tasted of wheat beer and a strange herby banana. As usual banana had dwarfed any other flavour in the drink. There was a herby taste just after the initial banananess (trying saying that too many times when you're drunk), under the bitterness of the citrusy hoppy flavour, and then the banana came back with a vengeance in the aftertaste. I must admit, this wasn't a bad beer, but the banana was an odd addition. I can't see how it would go well with the roast chicken as recommended below, but it would go well with a spicy Chinese takeaway. I'm sad to say though, you can takeaway this beer before I've finished it though. Not one for me... :-s

Information on the bottle;
330ml at 3.8% volume. Recommended as a perfect match to classic roast chicken and any spicy food.
By Spectre

20 March 2015

Cadbury Oat Crunch [By @Cinabar]

Cadbury previously released a couple of bars in this style, where there is a biscuit combined with chocolate. They even tried a savoury mix with Ritz biscuit which was a nice combination of sweet and slightly salty. The latest edition in the range is this Oat Crunch version. It is aimed at the elevenses market, with there being enough chocolate to be sweet and enough biscuit to make it acceptable.
As mine was very kindly posted to me by Cadbury (much appreciated) it did have a little bit of damage and some of the biscuit had fallen free. I therefore ended up trying the biscuit first, on its own. I have to admit it didn't seem to have that much flavour, it wasn't too sweet, and it wasn't very strong, there was just a pleasant mild oat taste. It wasn’t that exciting.
The bar itself has good proportions of both the chocolate and the biscuit layer, both are quite thick, and although this is very much a light snack it does seem quite substantial.
So I tried the bar with its chocolate and oat biscuit together, as it was supposed to be eaten. The chocolate and oat together transformed what had seemed like a plain biscuit layer. It made the bar feel wholesome and the two tastes just worked perfectly together. Oats and chocolate hand in hand, satisfying and tasty. Perfect with a morning cuppa to get you through to lunch.
By Cinabar

19 March 2015

American Moon Pie [by @NLi10]

In lots of USA movies and sitcoms they mention all kinds of wondrous American snacks that occasionally I will spot in the UK, try, and be incredibly disappointed by.  Here is one such baffling oddity.

A moon pie is like a double decker Wagon Wheel - biscuity stuff with marsh mallow in the middle - and because it's larger you can convince yourself this is how big Wagon Wheels were in your youth. Unfortunately they forgot the fun. Granted this is probably the original version of the snack - hailing from 1917 as the package says, but seriously it's not exactly food.

Maybe it's the zero trans fats (had we discovered those 100 years ago) that make this taste dull to my English palate, maybe they have just not put much sugar in.

I guess American things tend to use corn syrup, but I found the texture of this to be as baffling as the taste. It's really heavy going and not something that sits lightly. The ingredients blend together to become one texture, and that texture is insulation foam.

The chocolate coating is sparse and patchy in places but as it's cheap American chocolate this may be a blessing in disguise. It didn't really taste of much at all, maybe this particular one was made in the 1900s and stored badly?

Either way, I think I've been spoilt by decades of euro wafers, Wagon Wheels and Tunnock's Tea Cakes as this is another Twinkie like fail by the American snack industry. Soon I'll review one that shows that they can get it right...

18 March 2015

Burts Lentil Waves: Thai Sweet Chilli [By @SpectreUK]

Burts of Roborough in Devon must know that I like to find alternative snacks to crisps in order to diversify my munching. They must know because it says "alternative snack" on the packet and they sent me this one try, right? Described as "combining the sweet and spicy fusion of chillies, warm ginger and fragrant lemongrass for an irresistible Asian tang", put Cinabar off immediately. Cinabar hates lemongrass. I certainly don't mind the stuff, although having said that, too much of it can taste a little (or a lot) like 80's washing up liquid. I say 80's because I was a kid then and believe me when I say that kids try to taste everything!

On opening the packet there was a spicy chilli and ginger smell with only a touch of lemongrass, so Cinabar will be missing out on this packet. The small Lentil Waves had a good crunch to them with an initial taste of taste of ginger and mild chilli, followed by the light lemongrass flavour and a sweetness the dulled it's taste even further. These crisps had a mild spicy tang and were a healthy feeling alternative snack in a lunchbox sized bag for easy eating on the go. Thanks Burt. :-)

Information on the packet:
20g packet at 99 calories, fir every 100g there is 16.3g of fat, 1.5g of salt and 4.4g of sugar. Ingredients contain no artificial colours, MSG or flavourings; have 40% less fat with no hydrogenated fat, and are low on the glycemic index, including; Thai chilli flavour; sugar, rice flour, spices, natural flavouring, garlic powder, soy sauce powder, maltodextrin, herbs, salt, natural colour paprika extract; lentil waves contain; lentil flour, potato starch, pre-cooked potato starch, and salt. Suitable for vegetarians. Allergens; soy, and may contain wheat and gluten.
By Spectre

17 March 2015

Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Ice Cream Jelly Popping Candy (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

I have really enjoyed the creativity of the Marvellous range from Cadbury, and when I heard they had expanded into ice cream I was searching the supermarket freezer section to give it a try. Now this ice cream sounds like it is packing quite a lot of ingredients into one tub, and it is filled with lots of fun goodies. It is described as swirled with milk chocolate, having sugar coated jelly pieces, fat coated popping candy and candy coated chocolate pieces. All sounds good, apart from the fat coated popping candy; it doesn't sound sexy but I guess it is to ensure it pops in your mouth not the tub.
I struggled to scoop this ice cream, but I'm starting to think that perhaps after yesterday's struggle I'm just not very strong. Again I felt like I'd taken on a battle, Cinabar versus The Ice Cream and although I eventually won it was a lengthy fight and at one point it looked like it could have gone either way.

Once scooped I could see that there was both a chocolate and vanilla ice cream with all sorts of goodies mixed in. The popping candy was mild and wasn't in every mouthful, it was however in enough to be noticeable and make me smile, the chocolate candies added crunch, and the jellies were like magic adding fun bits of fruity flavour here and there. Now all that's left for me to mention is the milk chocolate, and let me quote the packaging "swirled with milk chocolate". There were some thin layers of chocolate in the ice cream that broke easily when serving and added a lovely chocolate goodness to the flavour. There was also one giant solid chocolate mushroom shaped object in the middle.

Now before you think that this looks like some amazing treat remember that is a large dessert spoon it is sitting on, and as such it was too big to fit in my mouth. I'm sure there is some joke there but let's focus on the problem. The ice cream has also made that epic lump of very thick chocolate very cold and as such very hard. Queue Spectre in the background saying; "have you finished that ice cream yet I want to wash up the bowl" and the time challenge began. I tried repeatedly chipping it with my spoon, I applied pressure but the thing wouldn’t break, I almost chucked it in the bin! It just wouldn't give. I toyed with microwaving it, but that felt a bit extreme, so I went for a hands on approach and bit it, the awkward shape resulted in a chocolate smear on my cheek, but at least I showed it who's boss, even if I did have to wash my face afterwards. My point is that the ugly lump of chocolate was not “swirled” very well, which is a shame as it would have been so much nicer if it had been in thinner crackable sheets. I'm not sure if all of the pots of Marvellous ice cream are like that, I'd hope not as it really didn't work. That aside, the ice cream would have been perfect, fun and playful and full of flavour.
By Cinabar

16 March 2015

Ben and Jerry’s Speculoos Specu-love Cookie Core (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

I think it fair to say that I love those little spiced caramelised biscuits you often get as complementary treat with a coffee when you are out. I have purchased Lotus biscuits many times for home too, just because I loved the rich taste. Obviously when I heard that the new ice cream flavour from Ben and Jerry was in honour of those fab Speculoos biscuits I knew I had to give them a try.
As with all Ben and Jerry's ice creams this one has a slightly weird name; Speculoos Specu-love Cookie Core. I'm not sure they would ever call a variety just "Vanilla" but I tell you something trying to convince autocorrect to not change Speculoos to Spectator is proving a challenge on my iPad! :-D
The ice cream is part of the Core range where there is a special centre in the tub. As always with Ben and Jerry's I left the tub out of the freezer for a little while before serving, they do not scoop easily as I've discovered previously. Picture attempting to use your entire body weight on a spoon to desperately wedge some ice cream out and somehow just being left with a bent spoon. You'd need King Arthur to encourage it, or indeed ten minutes at room temperature.

The caramel based ice cream is flavoured with caramelised cookie pieces and a similarly flavoured core. The caramel does end up being the dominant taste along with a lovely rich creamy edge. The core is both gooey but also with crunchy spiced biscuit mixed in, I loved the playfulness with the textures. The soft caramel was nice with very rich tones but the crunchy bits of spiced biscuit were absolute heaven. The creamy flavoure countered it perfectly.  I absolutely loved the ice cream and the caramel and biscuit flavours. Perhaps Speculoos could be the new trend for this year, please - if you are a brand developer and someone is pushing you toward caramel think Speculoos instead - it is something I can really get on board with.
By Cinabar

15 March 2015

Oreo Birthday Treats [@NLi10]

I picked up a couple of fun Oreo varieties from Day Inn supermarket and realised that they would both be suitable things to serve at a birthday party so I've grouped them both together here.

First up we have Ice Cream!

Well - paste inside Oreo biscuits that is representing Ice Cream

And the flavour? Green Tea...  

Not exactly top of most children's lists but two things I like quite a lot smushed into one product.  As with other ice-cream Oreo varieties there is a 'cold' taste to this, caused by whatever oils they put into mints (mint oil?) mixed into the usual ingredient.  With the green colour these taste like mint Oreos with a green tea aftertaste.  This is a little toothpastey for my tastes and not something I'd have again.

Next up we have Birthday Cake!

Both in real (cat cafe decorated) and Oreo form.  I missed out on the giant Oreo birthday cakes so this is the next best thing and at least it's not green paste, right?

Oh - it's not as jazzy as the box!

It's essentially a sweeter version of the usual Oreo centre and while it's nicer than the Green Tea Ice Cream it's not one that many people chose over the actual slice of cake.

While fun novelties I feel that these are things to talk about and marvel at the fun varieties and then only eat one of.  Great for passing around at a party, but I wouldn't choose to have these over the regular Oreo varieties which are much. much nicer!

14 March 2015

John West Steam Pot - Tuna Infusion [By @SpectreUK]

I recently saw the slightly piratesque fisherman advert for John West Steam Pots. I found it pretty enthusing so I dusted off this John West Steam Pot Tomato & Black Olive Couscous and new Infusions Tuna with Lemon & Thyme, which I had been sent by John West a while back for me to sample. Loving anything tuna flavoured I couldn't help thinking this Steam Pot didn't sound like the most interesting flavour. The cooking instructions seemed pretty simple though, instructing me to just add freshly boiled water to the couscous (approximately 135ml), stir, then pop the lid back on for five minutes before adding the Infusions Skipjack Tuna. After doing this I was happy to find that the Couscous on its own was very tasty, so if you fancy splitting them up and having the Tuna on a sandwich instead give it a go. I decided to mix them up for the full meal experience instead. The pot filled pretty quickly making it slightly hard to mix the two together.

Once this was done both flavours merged together in my mouth perfectly giving a burst of flavours with every mouthful. I could definitely taste the lemon mixed in with the tuna, and the thyme complemented both flavours. This meal had a Mediterranean feel to it with black olives slightly overshadowing the tomato and the couscous taste just nosing between the two, with the mixed in flavoured tuna rounding of the meal perfectly. I was glad to have misjudged the flavour combinations in this meal. This was a lovely meal with some bread on the side. Very tasty, very healthy and very filling.

Information on the cardboard sleeve;
See photograph.
By Spectre

13 March 2015

New Rowse Honey With A Hint of Cinnamon (Ocado) [By @Cinabar]

I'm probably not supposed to buy commercial honey, my dad being a bee keeper. My love of cinnamon kicked when I saw this and I made the rare decision to buy a tub of honey. Nobody tell my dad.
Flavoured honey is a bit of a curious idea, but this new edition from Rowse is all natural, which is good at least. There were no visible specks of cinnamon within the honey, it just looked clear. I think it is aimed at the breakfast market, so I thought I'd test it on a toasted waffle, albeit as an after dinner treat, not first thing in the morning. I popped the waffle in the toaster, and thirty-seconds later I was squeezing the runny honey all over it. I liked the squeezey bottle it made topping my waffle convenient and mess free, with no drips or sticky spoons to worry about. I could smell a hint of cinnamon as the honey hit the waffle, just lightly.
The waffle and honey worked nicely together and the hint of cinnamon adding a mild warmth to the flavour. The cinnamon was very gentle and subtle, but the spice worked nicely with the sweet flavour. I love spreading honey on toast then adding grated cinnamon on top so it stands to reason that I’d prefer to have a bigger hit of flavour than this, but cinnamon is by far my favourite spice. I did like this honey but I would have like the cinnamon to be stronger, but as an easy going breakfast flavour I guess it would be spot on for most.
Rowse also make a Honey with a Hint of Raspberry, it was out of stock when I did my online order, but I will pick that up next, as that also sounds like a nice edition. I have to admit I do wish I'd discovered these honeys before pancake day, they would have ben perfect for that. Oh well it is an excuse to buy more waffles, all for research purposes you know. ;-)
By Cinabar

12 March 2015

Burt's Lentil Waves [by @NLi10]

   Sometimes the little shops in the hospital surprise me. After the dissolution of the snack foods where the powers that be decided that we shouldn't have fried crisps (but can have cholocate and flapjacks) we have gained some fringe oddities from smaller brands. This is especially true in the non main shops where they are less swayed by the whims of the management.

On one trip I spotted these lentil waves from Burt's that tickled my fancy. At 50p a bag they were more expensive than I'd usually go for, but as they counted as a review I could justify it.

Turns out these are pretty nice.  The waves themselves are essentially O shaped and would be flat but they have warped in the cooking process. They are kind of like poppadoms and feel a lot more 'bad for you' than the bag suggests.

We had a snack time with these one weekend and discovered that they are well worth a look if you do like the large Indian crisps that you get as starters.  The flavour of the crisps themselves is really rich and deep but there wasn't much of a flavouring added. Lightly salted is right - I think these could do with a lot more!  There are other flavours so I will continue to buy these.

11 March 2015

Milkis (Vanguard Supermarket, Birmingham) [By @SpectreUK]

Produced by Lotte Chilsung this 250ml can with 130 calories doesn't give much more information to an ignorant English speaking person such as myself, as the rest of the can was in Korean. Fortunately I found out through Wikipedia that this part milk part fizzy soda drink was launched in 1989 with Chow Yun-fat in it's commercials stating; "I love you, Milkis!" The drink combines corn syrup, sugar, milk and carbonated water, and comes in different flavours such as orange, banana, melon and strawberry, and is popular in South Korea. I found this original milk flavour in one of my import food haunts, and it was very fizzy and sweet in flavour with a creamy milky taste throughout and moving into the aftertaste. If you see a can of Milkis I'd recommend you give it a try. I would say it's a fairly healthy liquid pudding for anyone with a creamy sweet tooth, or something to give you a sugary boost if you're trying to be healthier whilst working out in the gym.
By Spectre

10 March 2015

Win a set of Hotel Chocolat - Chocolate Egg Sandwiches!

I was lucky enough to go to a bloggers event at Hotel Chocolat and have a preview of all the wonderful Easter goodies coming out. One of the novelty items that caught my eye were these Egg Sandwiches, I just love the idea and the packaging is super cool. Something a bit different, but still perfectly themed for Easter. The lovely folks from Hotel Chocolat said they would offer up a full set to one lucky reader of Foodstuff Finds as a competition prize!

Yes one lucky winner will receive all four egg sandwiches as pictured above there is a Milk, Dark, White and Caramel!

The full selection of Easter goodies from Hotel Chocolat can be found on their website: http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/shop/easter-eggs

If you want the chance to get your hands on the Egg Sandwiches 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

This and more great competition are available at: http://www.theprizefinder.com and www.competitionhunter.com

New Hula Hoops Puft - Cheese Flavour (Ocado) [By @Cinabar]

Hula Hoops new product has given those lovely crunchy hoops a bit of a makeover. They are no longer just round they are now round and puffy, hence the new name Puft. This does make me think back to a Biology teacher from school complaining about Aero bars. He was saying it was just a clever way to make you buy air and think you were getting more for less. As it happens I like bubbly chocolate and think it adds to the texture no end, so I never agreed with him, but do we need air in our Hula Hoops? I guess it was time to find out.
First thing to note is the bag feels tiny and very light, and a glance at the calories shows them as being just 71 calories, which if memory serves me correctly is quite a reduction to regular Hula Hoops which are over 100 calories.

I poured out the bag on to plate and was quite impressed by the number of hoops, despite its lightness it did look like a decent portion. Each hoop is still round, but you can see the potato is clearly bubbly and aerated. The texture is very enjoyable to munch on. They feel very light, but the layers make them crunchy and easy to eat. I liked the cheesy flavour too, I thought it would be strong and musty (like Wotsits) but it was milder than that and much more palatable. They had a lovely cheese taste.
Despite the lightness of the bag they felt like a proper portion so the reduced calories just ended up being a bonus. I think they are a good addition to the range and one I’ll be buying again. These new Hula Hoops Puft are sold in multipacks and are also available in Salt and Vinegar and Cheese and Onion. Sadly as yet I haven’t seen a mixed multipack sadly.
By Cinabar

9 March 2015

Magnum Mini - Black Espresso (Sainsburys) [By @Cinabar]

The weather seems to be slowly improving and hints of a pleasant Spring are on their way. As such the supermarket freezer section seems to have taken on several new products in anticipation, but don’t worry I’ve stocked up.
Coffee and chocolate is one of my favourite combinations so obviously these new Magnums were the first to be cracked open. The box is actually a duo, Magnum Mini Pink Raspberry and Magnum Mini Black Espresso. There are three of each of the two flavours, and they are a smaller size to the regular ones, so perfect for a little treat. The pink ones and black ones are distinguishable from their colour coordinated wrappers.

Under the black wrapper was a very dark looking lolly, the coating was near black. It cracked easily when I bit in, and revealed a vanilla ice cream marbled with a rich coffee sauce. I loved the flavour of the chocolate coating, it was strong and with a really good strong cocoa flavour. The intensity of the strong flavours, was spot on, the coffee sauce provided a rich kick of arabica coffee that enhanced the chocolate, and the creamy vanilla ice cream softened the Magnum’s overall flavour. I think the creamy ice cream made this Magnum a bit more of Latte, well Mocha actually with the chocolate, rather than an Espresso, but I still enjoyed every mouthful. This could well be my ice-cream of choice for a while, I wish there were more products with coffee and chocolate combinations available,this dark flavours work so well together.
I’ll be reviewing the Pink Raspberry Mini Magnum very soon, not forgetting the other new exciting ice creams I picked up, so watch this space.
By Cinabar