31 January 2016

Polish goodies - Zlate & Halva (by @NLi10)

I recently went on holiday to Wales.  All the goodies I brought back were savoury and non sharing items, so consequently I went to my local Polish shop to pick up holiday goods.  They had lots of things I'd seen before and not picked up so I went for this Zlate range - then added a Halva as I needed to get to £5 to pay by card!

The little ones at the front centre are essentially tiny versions of Leibniz style biscuit and choc. They aren't that buttery and like all of this range are less dense than I'd expect.  A nice little snack but not something I'd actively crave.

The Koka at the back are small mixtures of choc and coconut in the rock cake style of biscuit.  These are very edible and light, and going own surprisingly well.  They clearly come in a box as in a bag they would just disintegrate in transit.  Worth exploring the range but not stellar.

The Venecky are the star. I'd expected these to be jam rings, but they are actually just a round biscuit version of a lemon drizzle cake.  These are the stand out star, but the aftertaste is a little similar to the Jiff lemon thing you pop on pancakes and is a touch odd.  Nevertheless I'll pick up more of these, which is a surprise as if i'd have seen they were just biscuit I wouldn't have bothered.

Here is the Halva, it's one giant eurowafer. I'm not sure if i expected to have to decide on what a portion was with this, but it's pretty fun. Maybe I'll buy one just for me and eat it as a biscuit in public.  I think two of these Rich sized portions was the correct amount.

It's much more chocolaty than the Princessa I usually get, and the filling is more layered than the Knoppers bars I also usually get (but couldn't find in the time available to make my purchase up to £5). There were lots of flavours of this and it was certainly a deluxe option (two whole pounds) but I think i'll just get them sometimes.  The ring biscuits are the reason to go back to the shop, and this is just something to get if you are already there.

And yes - as usual, I got served in Polish until I looked confused - even though all I seem to buy is comfort food these days.  I'll have to get more deli delights.

30 January 2016

Pimm's Cider Cup (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

Okay so this sounds like the poshest drink I've ever blogged about or possibly ever tasted! Not used to such posh sounding beverages and worried I'll get swept away by delusions of grandeur, I decided to drink this Pimm's Cider Cup out of my not so posh beer mug. This beverage was produced by the Pimm's Company, in London. The bottle's label informed me that this English cider is flavoured with Pimm's, and a hint of strawberry and cucumber. If anyone is longing for Spring and Summer to roll on from this dull, damp and chilly Winter, then this maybe the drink for you. Probably add a little ice and use it to wash down your very English cucumber sandwiches, followed by some tea and Victoria Sponge cake taken on the lawn on a quiet Summer's afternoon. However, I couldn't resist trying this now after freezing half to death from a half hour swim in the outside pool at the gym. I didn't think it would warm me up, but the promise of alcohol won me over and this was in the fridge. On opening the bottle there was a decent strawberry and cider smell from the lightly carbonated drink. The beverage was a deep strawberry red and taste wise was quite strong in strawberry over Pimm's over cider, and someone may have walked past the manufacturers with a cucumber in their shopping! This dashingly delicious drink did taste like a traditional English Summer, okay not the rainy kind, but those days of delighting in the sun with a cool breeze, and a good book in the garden. Besides, if you're looking for the must have fuel for watching Wimbledon with your strawberries and cream, then this drink is most likely for you!
By Spectre

29 January 2016

Pizza Dog (@FrankieNBennys ‪#‎FrankiesFav‬) [By @cinabar]

After a very nice day off work, we stopped for lunch at Frankie and Benny’s. The place was quite quiet on lunch time a weekday lunch time. As there isn't a branch of Frankie and Benny's near where we live, I'm not that familiar with their lunch menu. Trips to Frankie and Benny's are a bit of a treat, although I do keep hoping they will open one closer to home.
Anyway one quick browse of the lunch menu and I spotted the option of "Pizza Dog". I had sort of been planning to have a pizza when I went in, but suddenly this sounded too intriguing to miss, I am a food blogger after all. To be honest we hadn't gone in with the intention of blogging about the place, we had gone in just for lunch, but when the friendly waitress came over and said it was a new item on the menu, the camera came out. Spectre had fancied a burger and fries, and couldn't be shifted on this!

My Pizza Dog arrived, complete with coleslaw and fries (salad was an option, but it wasn't really if you see what I mean). The hot dog looked quite chunky and was wrapped in pizza dough and tomato sauce. I did attempt to pick it up but it was a little hot on the fingers, so I decided to munch some fries while they were hot too instead.
I went back to the Pizza Dog and gave it a try after it cooled a little, wow it worked. Now it seems obvious that a hot dog sausage would go really well with tomato ketchup, but if you up that to a proper rich Italian tomato sauce, mozzarella, and lashings of basil you are still onto a winner. The Italian / American combination was spot on. I loved the herby flavour and stronger tomato. The pizza dough base was like a doughy wrap which worked well, and had a good flavour. It added to the satisfying feeling as it made the hot dog quite substantial especially for a lunch time.
So in conclusion the fusion food that is the Pizza Dog, as done by Frankie and Benny's, is a complete success. Perfect for those that can't decide between hot dogs and pizza, and for those that like to try something a little different. I always think that is the point of going out, but Spectre pointed out that his burger was fantastic and felt like it had been “made with love”, so I guess they've got their bases covered too.
By Cinabar

28 January 2016

UP & GO - breakfast drink (@NLi10)

On wandering through Birmingham town centre the other evening I came across an inflatable igloo...

And a queue of people - and those leaving the queue had product samples!

Naturally I joined in and revived three flavours of something I'd spotted on bus stop adverts but not picked up - An Australian Breakfast alternative called Up & Go.

The halo of people surrounding the igloo were mostly lamenting the fact the straws fell off easily the only audible review I heard was "ew!!".

I however, quite like this sort of thing!

It looks fairly normal - like a heavy milkshake.

It is essentially just that - lots of vitamins in a milky drink with a nice flavour. The extra fibre makes the drink thicker, but in a nice way.

The oats and the flavours work very well together and I particularly liked the red flavour even though mixed berries is a little vague.

A short while after I wandered back through town to find it all deflated. Maybe it will show up in your town soon.

27 January 2016

Haribo Rhubarb and Custard Splats (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

Rhubarb and Custard was a favourite cartoon of mine when I was a small boy. Those that know me would find it difficult to believe that I was ever either small or a boy. However they would readily agree that I have the mentality of one. Rhubarb and Custard however had a bizarre surrealistic nature that bestowed on me some of my rather odd present day sense of humour. I did buy a DVD a while ago of all the Rhubarb and Custards ever made and tried to watch them. I sat down thinking; this is going to be great! After a few short episodes back to back I have to say that it certainly was bizarre to the point of madness. A few more episodes and I started to hallucinate. I'm still haunted by the funky theme tune... Nat-ne-na, Nat-ne-na...

Anyway, these Rhubarb and Custard Haribo Splats didn't profess to being good for you, as they are gummy sweets, they didn't even state that they were sour, but they did state "no artificial colours" on the front and a whole heap of fruity ingredients on the back of the packet. These included; aronia, elderberry, grape, blackcurrant, lemon, mango, orange and passion fruit. Bizarrely no rhubarb and yet more bizarrely no custard. The theme tune cracked and stopped in my head (fortunately) whilst I opened the packet. There was a heavy smell of rhubarb from the open packet. I checked the ingredients again. Still no rhubarb. There was a very sugary taste on the first gummy sweet, this sugar turned sour pretty quickly with a slight citrus tang, followed by a full on rhubarb flavour and a creaminess from the custard. I couldn't be bothered to check the ingredients again passed this point. I was just too busy eating them!

Information on the bag:
215g with 346 calories per 100g, having less than 0.5g of fat and 50g of sugar. For the ingredients see photograph.
By Spectre

26 January 2016

Walkers Melty Crackers in Sweet Chilli (Tesco) [By @cinabar]

We have reviewed a lot of Walkers crisps on this blog, with an amazing array of flavours that have been on offer over the years, from Walkers Cajun Squirrel through to Lime With Thai Spices. They have usually been potato based snacks, so it was interesting to find something a bit different from Walkers aimed at the snacking market.
These Melty Crackers sounded very intriguing indeed. Perhaps I was having a moment when I picked them up in the shop but the word Melty seemed to have a different meaning to me than what it turned out to be. I thought they were going to have soft centres, ie melting in the middle, but they don't. They are just soft crackers with a light crunch with a consistent texture all the way through. They don't seem melty to me. They are thick wheaty and pleasant. Spectre thought they were going to have their topping melted on top, but there is just the red/orange seasoning powder.

Flavour wise they are perfectly fine, the seasoning is sweet but with a gently spice. They didn't blow my mind they just sat in the nice category, but something I probably won't pick up again. For me the texture of crackers is such that it needs something to contrast them. Cheese and biscuits work, but these aren't those sort of crackers. They are small and seasoned and these just wouldn't work like that, nor is it what they are intended for. On their own I felt they were a little dry after I had a few, I didn't need a large portion. Think I will be buying a sharing bag of Walker Sensations crisps next time.
By Cinabar

25 January 2016

Pots of Joy Creme Egg (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

The latest Easter themed addition to the Pots of Joy dessert range comes in the form of a Cadburys Creme Egg limited edition. I have tried and written about quite a few of the Pots of Joy varieties in the past. I guess this Creme Egg version makes sense as they are probably one of Cadburys best sellers at this time of year. Of course the thing that makes them special is the neat filling. That lovely looking yellow yoke on the white fondant makes them.

I unpacked the dessert twin pot, and peeled back the foil lid. The chocolate topping covered the top but underneath was the full Creme Egg experience, there was a white base with the bright yellow yolk. It's an eye catching pudding as the three colours does look really nice. I was impressed with the flavour too, it was sweet and creamy and had the distinct taste of Creme Egg fondant, although it was much lighter and fluffier in texture. I thought they may have made it a simple vanilla, but it had the proper fondant taste.
Yes okay these Cadbury Creme Egg Pots of Joy desserts are a bit of an Easter novelty, but I still really enjoyed them. I often pick up Pot of Joys as a quick pudding, so it is a variation i'll be buying again. I thought they did an eggcellent (sorry) job of converting the chocolate into a dessert pot.
By Cinabar

24 January 2016

Holland And Barrett - Holiday Supplies! (by @Nli10) @holland_barrett @HBFreeFrom

Recently we went on holiday to Bluestone Park in Wales and took a bag of goodies from Holland & Barrett Birmingham to help us along the way.  Here is how we got on.

First up we ate the Hummus Chips.  We've had similar to these before but not this brand.  The bags were big...

but 45g only gets you so far.
And that's OK - two people sharing this was a nice light snack.  If you'd eaten them solo it'd be a decent sized bag.  They really were not that salty (and I never add salt) but they were really nice and the texture was fantastic.

The lentil version had a lot more flavour going on, and a much firmer snap to it.  I think I'd prefer the first bag, but as my partner preferred the second I'm certainly going to have to go back and get more of the whole range.  These are realistically much better for me to eat than your typical fried crisps for so many reasons - less fat, gluten free, almost certainly less processed than my usual French Fries & Squares.

And I also have to go back for these.

All three of us have waxed lyrical about how good chocolate covered pretzels are - and usually they are an import snack.  Here they are just on the shelf - in multiple flavours and waiting to be devoured.  It took will power to make these reach a 2nd sitting. I had to check the ingredients for addictive substances.

They look a little rough, but the mixture of things going on here is spot on. I could eat more now.  I have to have all the flavours next time.  I may require a loyalty card (or an intervention). 

These however - a little flat.  They are perfectly serviceable if you are vegan and want something to drop in cakes or hot chocolate, but these are not for snacking on. Bag should have been a give away - oh well.

We haven't eaten the chocolate raisins yet - so I'll tag those on to the other exciting purchase we got at the same time next week!

23 January 2016

Battersea Rye (Marks and Spencer's) [By @SpectreUK]

Although famous for its dogs and cats home, 200 acre park and huge decommissioned power station, which was featured fairly recently in a Doctor Who episode, I have never been to Battersea. This beer has, of course, as it was brewed in Battersea, hence the name, at Sambrook's Brewery. Just off topic; I joked with my boss about two days ago that I hadn't used the word 'hence' for years, and now rather weirdly I can't stop! It's like an affliction! Anyway, this 5.6% beer was brewed with malted rye, hence (I know, sorry) the other part of the beer's name. On opening the 330ml bottle (always a bit of a small bottle in my mind, I prefer the 500ml bottles as I'm greedy and you just get more beer!) there was a lightly spiced full bodied fruity malty aroma. On pouring the deep copper coloured beer there was a decent head and the aroma filled the immediate vicinity making me want to dive immediately into my beer glass with both lips. The malted rye really adds bundles to the flavour, not taking it over, just bunking up cosily with the malted barley, whilst the hops tries its hardest to part the two with a tricksy banter of bitterness mixed with the lightly spicy and yet strong fruity flavour. This is a complex beer to be satisfyingly supped and enjoyed on its own, without food, and probably late at night in front of a spooky Doctor Who episode set outside a power station. So kick the cat out of the house and send the other half out to walk the dog in the park, and put the television on!
By Spectre

22 January 2016

Kinder Joy Egg #Unboxing (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

It turns out I'm not completely up to date with the Kinder Egg variants in the UK at the minute, I picked up a Kinder Joy Egg thinking it was a Kinder Surprise Egg which ironically turned out to be a bit of a surprise. Sure I noticed the packaging had changed but I hadn't quite quite realised what a significantly different contents there were going to be.

The first issue was to unpack the Kinder Joy Egg, there were a couple of tabs at the side which I pulled at a bit. It was difficult to open because I still thought I was unwrapping a whole egg, so I was pulling at it wrong. When I worked out the egg was going to split into to halves, the packet came apart easier.

I was then left with a dark side and a light side, and what looked like a plastic spoon / scoop. Curious and curiouser. I peeled off the wrapper from one of the halves and was rewarded with some very interesting contents.

Inside the egg were two chocolate looking balls on what looked like a bed of white chocolate spread.
I used the scoop to investigate further and underneath the white chocolate spread was a chocolate and hazelnut spread.

The chocolate balls were crispy with wafer and also nutty. This section of the egg was very tasty and fun to eat. There were such sweet, chocolatey and nutty flavours it felt like a proper treat. Once I had finished off every bit of chocolate nut spread I could I went onto the next section.

I felt I was on more familiar territory here as it was a Kinder Egg toy to build. Initiate inner child. My toy turned out to be a trainer, complete with stickers, to hang on a zip pull. It wasn't too taxing to assemble, but it was still fun and took me back to my childhood. In conclusion I really liked the concept of the Kinder Joy Egg they are a little bit of fun at Easter.
By Cinabar

21 January 2016

Las iguanas - new menu choices (by @NLi10)

We are on a mini break in deepest darkest Wales (Pembrookshire) at the moment so have been eating out a few times. On the way down in Cribbs Causeway near Bristol were stopped off at a Las Iguanas for a change and spotted that the menu was very different to the last time we ate in our home one in Birmingham.

There are a couple of notable new steaks

And this fantastic sounding Bahian (it's a region of Brazil) curry - which I will certainly go back and try.  Today however I had the Picanha Steak.

This wasn't quite what I had pictured, but it was certainly very appetising. The plate was mostly sweet potato fries (a fashionable trend I can get behind) and the sauces were separate as if they may scare the more reserved diner. Despite all the wonderful descriptive text on the menu I'd ordered the safe choice - darn!

The green sauce was basically minty pesto, and the chopped tomato was a simple enough garnish. The steak was nicely done but had none of the regional flair I'd hoped for. It tasted pretty English! When mixed together the flavours came alive and I did really enjoy the meal. It was certainly filling enough and well put together but with someone whose tastes are a little more conservative in mind. This does mean I could take my Granddad to Las Iguanas and he could have this while I go for something that sizzles and pops with flavour.  Just means I definitely have to go back for the curry now!

20 January 2016

Wasabi & Horseradish Roasted Peas (@DillyandWolf) [By @SpectreUK]

I haven’t eaten any wasabi flavoured snacks for quite some time and then Cinabar showed me lots of snack pots that had recently been sent to us from Dilly & Wolf, in Norwich. Of all the little snack pots these Wasabi & Horseradish Roasted Peas struck me as a 'first to try'. There was a roasted pea smell with a nose tingling wasabi after aroma on peeling back the top of the plastic pot. The little inoffensive almost innocent looking peas looked like butter wouldn’t melt on first opening. Grabbing a finger or two full I proceeded to dump them fairly casually into my mouth. The little dried roasted peas had a decent crunch to begin with, then the wasabi flavour struck like an instant hot hammer from a forge on the anvil of my tongue and instantly made my nose hairs stand on end. I managed not to sneeze. I did have to wipe my nose a couple of times! The additional horseradish flavour gave my tastebuds an extra kick at the end of the flavour too. These roasted wasabi and horseradish peas were certainly an afternoon pick me up and kick me around treat. They were very moreish and dangerously nose tingly. Try them as they were great for a couple or more days’ worth accompaniment with my lunchtime sandwich.

Information on the tub;
100g has 378 calories, with 12.3g of fat, 1.5g of salt, and 1.8g of sugar. They are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Ingredients included; Hodmedod’s British-grown green peas, rapeseed oil, wasabi and horseradish flavour seasoning, natural mustard flavouring, natural chilli flavouring, chickpea flour, sea salt and colour chlorophylls.
Other flavours available are: Fava Beans, Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar; Thai Chilli & Coconut Roasters; Soy & Ginger Roasters; and Sweet & Salty Roasters.
By Spectre

19 January 2016

Coconut Milk Latte (Starbucks) [By @cinabar]

This month Starbucks in the UK launched Coconut Milk as an alternative to cow's milk, and this means Coconut Milk Lattes are on the menu. I downloaded the app for Starbucks and as it is January and "extras" are free, I thought I'd see what it was like.
I had also seen quite a bit of controversy on Twitter about the drink, it seems to have a bit of a Marmite effect. There is some serious love and hate for the drink.
My Coconut Milk Latte arrived looking much like my favourite milk based product. I gave it a sip and have to admit to being impressed. If you were a expecting a rich creamy coconut flavour you would be disappointed, the drink is very much closer to tasting like regular milk. This is not a coconut latte, it is a latte made with a milk alternative. The flavour is impressively similar to a regular latte, so I think this is something Starbucks should be proud of, there is a slight hint of sweetness, and a very slight bitter aftertaste, but it is still good. It's a nice milky coffee, and it does the job well. If I was dairy intolerant I would be very happy with the drink, the coffee was good and strong and the coconut milk worked well with it. As I'm okay with regular dairy I will stick to that, it does have the upper hand.
For those that don't like this drink please remember it is just an alternative, meant really for those who have problems with regular milk. If it isn't your thing soy milk and dairy are still firmly on the menu if that is your preference.
By Cinabar

18 January 2016

Straight from the Heart and Competition (Hotel Chocolat) [By @cinabar]

Valentines day isn’t far away, and Hotel Chocolat have brought out the most stunning selection of chocolates I have ever seen. This is a box designed to impress. The chocolates are presented in a huge heart shaped box, and it is filled with a wonderful selection of chocolates, many keeping the romance theme and are heart shaped.
When I opened the box I found myself saying “Wow” repeatedly. The chocolates look beautiful. The colours on the fruit creams look stunning as do the chocolate hearts. There are also plenty of pralines, caramels and some with a boozy kick for good measure.

At the base of the heart are two Praline Oysters. They are coated with a fabulous mix of dark and milk chocolate, which encases the rich praline centre. The chocolate shell is thick, but the praline is silky underneath. This is perfect for the nut fans.

On a theme of oysters and champagne another romantic chocolate in the box are the beautiful Pink Champagne truffles. They have a dusty pink colour, and are made with thick milk chocolate. The spark of champagne in the truffle is offset by a hint of strawberry, giving this a warming but sweeter kick.

The heart shaped chocolates have a variety of fillings, from Amaretto Almond Kiss to the Blood Orange fruit cream. The orange fruit cream was a favourite of mine, I do like fruity chocolates. The orange taste was zesty and strong and balanced perfectly by the milk chocolate.
For white chocolate fans I thoroughly recommend the Blueberry chocolate. Underneath the high cocoa white shell is a wonderful burst of berry flavour, again so perfectly balanced.

Fancy trying some Hotel Chocolat chocolates for yourself? For your chance to win do enter our competition using the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One winners will be chosen at random and win Hotel Chocolat Valentine’s Chocolates
• UK residents only
Entry is by Rafflecopter
• If we can’t get in touch with the winner in a reasonable amount of time to obtain an address another winner will be selected. If the winner comes forward when the Valentines chocolates are no longer available an equivalent substitution will be made.
If you have any questions about this competition, please send me an email or leave a comment below.

17 January 2016

Devonvale - Rhubarb Crumble bar (@NLi10)

Our hospital has a lot of little charity shops that sell snacks - some more hidden than others.  One of my favourites has a tendency to grab a few unusual things that I can pick up. It's here that the Burts Lentil waves came from. 

This time they had a range of Devonvale fruit crumble bars which I hadn't seen before so I decided to try. I went for rhubarb as it would be my first choice of a real crumble. I don't think it made a massive difference to the flavour - maybe a hint of ginger in the sweetness - as the crumble itself was the main flavour.

And boy did the top crumble. It went everywhere! Not great for eating at your desk, and the local pigeons will love you if you eat this outside. The base was a little more stable and helped but every bite was a shower of crumbs.

That said - for 55p it did the job and I'll probably try more in the range. My Friday lunchtime Pepsi and a chat routine usually involves a luscious dark choc bounty, but while these are about I may have a few.

16 January 2016

Guinness Foreign Extra (Sainsbury's) [By @SpectreUK]

Dubbed as the "most full-flavoured of all" this 7.5% volume Guinness Foreign Extra seemed like a treat for a cold day. It certainly has been cold here over the last couple of days to the extent of being snowed in and having to work at home due to this country's complete inability to deal with the Cold White Menace. Brewed with extra hops and roasted barley for a more weathered bite, this thick black stout threatened to warm my frozen inner boiler right through, even if I did have the heating on at the time of drinking! On opening there was a heavy hoppy aroma mixed in with hearty roasted barley in the after-smell, there was also that heavy alcoholic smell right at the end letting the hairs in my nose know that this is a strong brew indeed. It took my lips a while to break through the thick creamy head. When they had the sheer flavour lashed at my tastebuds spinning them around into a full-bodied stout heaven. The hoppy bitterness almost knocked me for six, which merged quickly with the gravy-like roasted barley. "Mmm..." Was all I could thick of with each glorious sip. I don't see why this is called "Foreign Extra", why should they have all the fun? "Special Home Brew" could be a better name and not for beginners!
By Spectre

15 January 2016

Salted Caramel & Pretzel Bites (Tesco) [By @Cinabar]

Being healthy in January isn’t any fun, consequentially we have succumbed to some chocolate snacks already, but we have being going to gym… honest.
Our latest naughty snacking find are these Salted Caramel and Pretzel Bites. I like the flavours from the mix of pretzel and chocolate, so these appealed to me, and the addition of salted caramel seemed appropriate given it has been an “on trend” for so long I’m starting to think its permanent. Still salt and chocolate does work remarkably well.

There are 14 bites in the bag, all square shaped, looking like a Rocky Road bar topped with milk chocolate. I took one and bit in. The texture initially felt firm, but the flavours were very mild. The salt was vague, and definitely not salty enough for me either from the pretzel or caramel. The chocolate was okay, but not special, not soothing and creamy and rich, just okay. As regular readers of this blog will know I like texture and mixed up textures, if done right, are my thing. I have to say the texture was interesting with these but it didn’t work for me. The firm feeling and slight crunch disappeared very quickly and melted into almost nothing. This meant they didn’t feel satisfying, just light I guess.
I think my expectations of these Salted Caramel and Pretzel Bites was a firm but varied and solid texture, filled with rich flavours, both of milk chocolate and the promise of strong salt. What I had was a toned down version of this, mild tastes and a slightly weird light texture. The bag is handily resealable, so I will come back to them. They aren't so bad that I won't finish the pack, but they are not one I’d buy again. Have you tried them? What did you think?
By Cinabar