30 April 2016

Traditional Alcoholic Cloudy Ginger Beer (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

This Traditional Cloudy Alcoholic Ginger Beer was brewed and bottled for Waitrose. It was made from dried Chinese Ginger Root and a serving suggestion on the 330ml bottle stated that this ginger beer goes well with a slice of lemon. I had no lemon to hand and was not too fussed about trying it over ice as the weather seems to go from cold windy rain, to sleet, to snow, to thunder, to hail, a slice of hot sun and then back to freezing rain again at the moment. Yes, winter is still here, but a crazy pseudo-winter throwing everything at us. A spell for this 3.8% volume ginger beer in Cinabar’s super cold fridge was enough for me to drink it, and to be refreshed whilst the central heating pumped and gurgled away in the background. There was a pleasing fizz on opening the bottle followed by a nose hair tickling smell of ginger. The lightly carbonated cloudy ginger beer had an initial fiery burn that just kept giving throughout each mouthful. Who needs central heating or ice? This drink was enough to keep me warm for a while with its fierce ginger taste and slight alcoholic buzz at the end of the flavour. All I need now is another bottle to warm me up before bed tonight!
By Spectre

29 April 2016

Dark Snickers Rockin Nut Road (@GobstoppersUK) [By @Cinabar]

I already wrote about the fantastic Birthday Cake Flipz that we picked up from Gobstoppers in the Birmingham Bullring, but while we were there we also purchased a couple of imported Rockin Nut Road Dark Snickers.
This bar appealed to me because of its promise of textures, and it delivered. I love a mix of textures, soft and crunchy mixed together it just something that works for me, and this bar had it all. The bar is like a Snickers except for three changes; there is dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, the bar contains almonds in the caramel and the major change is the soft nougat is actually a firm dense marshmallow! Such fun! I know the picture doesn’t show any almonds but there were plenty, I just managed to catch the photograph at an odd point.
The bar was perfect for me, I immediately loved the changes in texture with every bite. The almonds were crunchy, like they’d been toasted and the caramel wonderfully gooey. The marshmallow was full of vanilla flavour, and the soft but firm nature of it really added to the bar. I liked the darker chocolate with the lighter flavour of the marshmallow, the contrast worked well. It was a very tasty bar and I think one that would go down really well here in the UK if it got released. For the minute though I’m reliant on import shops, but a trip to Gobstoppers is never a bad thing!
By Cinabar

28 April 2016

Norwegian Air Plane Food - In Flight Review! (@NLi10)

For the first time I'm on a flight with WiFi and time to take advantage of it. This means I can watch a metal tube full of people staring at buffer screens and tending their city/farm.

I however chose this to do an in flight review of the sandwiches. 

The sandwiches had run out so I risked the tapas instead.

This came neatly portioned out - which was great because I didn't want the cheese but my travelling companion (of ten years today x!) did.

Due to the nature of air plane food it tends to be a bit dry and tasteless so it pays to go for stronger flavours. This paid off.  The olives were still a little crunchy and had a sharp flavour, the bread was a little hard but in a nice way. The ham's flavour was more delicate than the little sausages but I think given the space and non plastic cutlery I'd have been able to separate off the layers and eat it in a more civilised way.

I am assured that the cheese was also nice and strong - and "tasted of farm, but in a good way".

This, a can of iced tea, a regular tea and a muffin came to 13 Euro which for a hungry captive audience is pretty good. I do think that good in flight comforts are something I'd look out for - we are returning on a budget airline so are unlikely to get free wifi and reasonable food then...

27 April 2016

Deloba Bahlsen Biscuits (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

Bahlsen, in Germany, made these jammy puff pastry biscuits. The jammy centre is a mixture of redcurrant juice and cherry juice. I was slightly worried; as I don’t recall ever tasting redcurrant before and I don’t really like cherry in anything. On tasting the first puff pastry it melted in my mouth as I chewed leaving a sweet jammy filling that was altogether very moreish indeed. Clearly these two fruit in the jam filling were meant for each other, and also intended to match my tastebuds. The sharpness of the cherry and been blunted somewhat by the redcurrant, working together to complement and make a perfect filling rather than battle against each other to produce a weird taste instead. This left a sweet succulent jam twist at the end of each puff pastry biscuit. Each biscuit was like a little puff pastry jam pie. The serving suggestion of five biscuits just wasn’t enough for my greedy nature, so I was rather relieved I’d been to the gym before polishing off the fifteen in the box for pudding with a hot white chocolate drink to wash them down with.
By Spectre

26 April 2016

Flipz Birthday Cake Covered Pretzels (@GobstoppersUK) [By @Cinabar]

We went for a shopping trip in Birmingham and spotted in the new Grand Central centre a new import shop called Gob Stoppers, it was stacked with interesting candy and goodies. We couldn't resist exploring and thought we'd pick up some chocolate coated pretzels. I love the combination of chocolat and salty pretzel but they aren’t easy to find in the UK sadly. More shops stock them at Christmas, but this time of year they disappear again.
When we saw that Gob Stoppers stocked Flipz Pretzels in birthday cake flavour coating, my head almost exploded in excitement. Remember chocolate pretzels are exotic here in the UK market, so consider my mind blown. :-D

Once home we opened them to give them a try, and they looked pretty too. The pretzels are covered in a white coating speckled with colour, rather like cupcake sprinkles. The sprinkles on ours were predominately red and blue.
The flavour worked like magic. They have a strong sweet vanilla taste, just like a proper cupcake frosting. When this combined with the salty crunchy pretzel underneath it created a taste sensation, stand aside sweet and salty popcorn we have a new player in the field. This is one of the nicest sweet and savoury combinations I’ve tried, lush vanilla and salt, who'd have though that would work so well. These Birthday Cake Flipz Pretzels may be hard to track down in the UK but they are worth hunting out. I know I'm going back for another pack!
By Cinabar

25 April 2016

Lotus Billionaire Doughnut (@KrispyKremeUK) [By @Cinabar]

For me a trip to Birmingham usually includes a trip to Krispy Kreme in Selfridges. There is something very theatrical about the Krispy Kreme stand, you can watch the doughnuts coming through the machine and being decorated by the staff, it would be rude not to buy. I only went for a small box, but managed to convince myself that I was doing it for you guys when I saw there was a new flavour to review. It's a hard life being a food review blogger…
So the new doughnut is called Lotus Billionaire, and refers to Lotus spiced biscuits. The doughnut is filled with caramel (salted of course), decorated with Lotus biscuit spread, biscuit crumble and topped with dark chocolate curls. I mustn’t forget there are also edible gold glitter sprinkles that made them look pretty, and fit for a Billionaire.
The doughnut was a little messy, more so than any other Krispy Kreme doughnut I’ve tried. It had even leaked a little of its caramel filling in the box, which is unusual. When I bit in though I realised there was still plenty of caramel to go round! The filling was sweet and pleasant and only had the mildest hint of salt thankfully. The biscuit flavour was spot on and worked well with it. I liked the mix of textures, with biscuit spread and biscuit crumble adding to it. The biscuits are spiced, and their hit of cinnamon shone though, complementing the caramel filling. It was an absolutely gorgeous doughnut, filled with fab warm golden flavours. Thankfully you don’t have to be a billionaire to shop at Krispy Kreme, but it still would have been nice to have won some money from the competition on the box. I didn’t, so I guess I’ll have to buy another box next time I’m there just to get another entry…
By Cinabar

24 April 2016

YumCha iced tea - but with a twist! (By @NLi10)

Following on from last Sunday's Iced Tea review we have another today - but where as that tea was in bags this is in bottles!

This isn't that unusual - we have lots of Lipton and tea drinks on the British shelves now so we can't be too accused of being behind the times. Except that we so totally are.  You see most of those are made with powdered tea - like the instant tea you get in the pound shop. If you ordered tea from a cafe or bar and they used instant then you'd get upset - even when making tea at festivals you get to take the teabag out yourself!  Why then do we put up with inferior iced teas?

I don't - I drink Mr. Kang, the fab import that seems to come in larger and larger bottles that get cheaper every time I get some.  There are other similar versions that say 'made from brewed tea' on the back and I can really taste the difference.

YumCha appealed to me as it's like a pop version of making the tea hot then cooling like we did last week.  Turns out it's possibly even better than that.

First up we have the Jasmine.  In it's imported tea-bag form this is my go-to afternoon work tea.  I have it most days and pick up around 60 bags per trip to Day-In supermarket in Birmingham.  This is essentially a green tea but in a cordial form, and it is magnificent!

Maybe it's because I drink more decaf at home, but having this when I get in from work has fast become a ritual.  It's like I'm getting cravings! I'm not sure why - there is very little added to the tea but it's a really pleasing drink.  I'm thinking of getting a bag of ice for work and taking this in.  I haven't had chance to try any of these as a hot drink yet, but as we already have teabags for that I think that trying them over ice is much better for this review.

The other two bottles are of similar quality but have different flavours.

The Lemon Ceylon is fruitier (no surprise) and lighter than the Jasmine - as it's made with Ceylon Tea, but as you are making your own portions up it may just be that i was not heavy handed enough.  These drinks do reward you for stirring them - the thick syrup like contents have a habit of settling if not mixed well.  I'm not going to have a problem finishing this and may keep this one at home to let guests try.

The drink pictured is the Moroccan Mint.  I think this is the one I like least out of the three - and the only I'd be tempted to let someone else have custody of, but I think it's possibly the one that will work the best warm.

Again it's a dark tea base  (this time gunpowder - which I've never been a fan of from loose tea as I tend to over-brew) but with a nice minty aftertaste.  Unfortunately it's just not what I'm looking for in an iced tea.  This flavour was a total revelation to me in Morocco and I've been loving the odd cup of it ever since, maybe I need to drink it like they do and add more syrup and a touch of sugar.  Don't get me wrong - if you were given any of these by a cafe then you'd be happy to pay.  

This is about £4 from "delis, farm shops & Amazon" which works out at around 12p a cup and is comparable to decent teabags.  It shouldn't be too hard for me to find more of these to write about once I've finished the ones I have - across three bottles that's 100 portions of tea!  There are Earl Grey (my winter evening tea of choice) and sour plum which I'm yet to experience.

The tea-bag idea was nice for at home and a great way to make cheap complex tasting drinks by the pitcher.  I think these are perfect for the solo drinker, and would be amazing in a cocktail bar.  If I had to choose between all the iced drinks from both weeks then I'd take the Jasmine over the others, but that's no big surprise.  Strong tea with a hint of sweetness and a botanical overtone is pretty much my perfect cup of tea - hot or cold!

23 April 2016

Low Alcohol Apple Cider (Sainsbury’s) [By @SpectreUK]

Produced by Weston & Sons for Sainsbury’s this Low Alcohol Apple Cider was made with fresh pressed apples and matured in oak vats to enhance its fruity flavour. At 0.9% volume this is definitely the least alcohol content cider I’ve ever tasted. On opening there was a mild pleasant apple cider smell. On taste this still medium dry cider had a lip-smacking freshness about it. It would be perfect on a hot sunny afternoon in the garden, especially if you want plenty of cider without the increasing dizzy effects of alcohol that usually comes with a binge of it, and particularly if you’re using some sort of machinery like a hedge trimmer. I hear lawnmowers; flip-flops and booze don’t go well together. The cider was mild in flavour with a refreshing scrumpy apple zest combined with the undertones from the oak aged barrels giving it colour and body. One for the cider drinking designated drivers I’m sure.
By Spectre

22 April 2016

Mac and Cheese Pot Noodle (Morrisons) [By @Cinabar]

I have a place in my heart for macaroni and cheese. There is nothing better that scooping soft macaroni cheese thought a golden crust and onto a place. I’d happily eat it as a main meal, or as a side to some bacon chops. Spectre hates Mac and Cheese, but he likes Pot Noodles. I added one of these new Mac n Cheese Pot Noodles to our grocery order with the assumption that he’d review it, but he suggested I take it work with me and have it at lunch.
I have had few Pot Noodles in my lifetime, mostly as a student, but not for a long while. This meant I focussed more on the instructions than Spectre or a regular consumer would have.

I opened the lid, removed the tomato sauce sachet and filled to the fill line. I didn’t think the fill line was that clear, but I went for the lower one that I could see. Then I stirred, added the content of the tomato sauce packet and stirred again.

First things first, I’d assumed the pasta shapes would be macaroni, isn’t that the point? I’m assuming these are the regular pot noodle noodles though. Long, thin and flat.
The noodles softened easily with the hot water in the preparation and the sauce thickened up nicely too. I liked the flavour, the cheese sauce was creamy, but had a nice depth of flavour. There was a hint of mustard and from the sauce a hint of tomato. The chives and red pepper bits mixed up the flavour enough to make each mouthful interesting, and I was enjoying my Pot Noodle experience. IT was surprisingly pleasant.
As I was at work, one of the ladies spotted me having my Mac and Cheese Pot Noodle and came to take a look, she immediately noticed the calories. There are 450 Kcal in the pot, which is quite a large amount for a smallish portion of noodles.
As I much as I liked them, I didn’t think they were quite close enough to being Mac N Cheese to justify the variety title. I was naively expecting actual macaroni. This new Pot Noodle Mac and Cheese is probably something I’ll only have occasionally, when I know I’m going to be short for time at lunch.
By Cinabar

21 April 2016

BootyO's Cereal (by @NLi10) #WWE #NewDay

We visited London recently and you can pick up all kinds of unusual import goodies. I got this box of cereal from our latest visit - BootyO's - they make sure you ain't booty!

the box advertised this as an American Cheerios style cereal, with the sugary marsh mallow goodness that drives the children wild and makes teachers sad.

It has a cut out cardboard unicorn mask - and sunglasses for the unicorn too

The nutritional information is somewhat suspect - gluteus free?!

And upon closer inspection there is a cool unicorn in the box too!

This is of course a promotional T-Shirt for the greatest WWE tag team since Demolition - New Day. I'm not too sour, I expected this going in - especially as I bought it from the Monday Night RAW concession stand.  It's a great idea though, the box is decent enough quality and came flat for easy transport. I had an eBay search set up from the very moment they unveiled the cereal, but luckily the boxes came on tour too.

I did have to but my own Connor's Cure charity wristband to use as the prize in the box though.

Here is the real guys doing some promotional work. It's not easy being the champs!

And here we see the box in its natural home, slotted in between English staple cereals. Its probably better for you than most American cereals, and it gives me chance to wear clothing that is both Wrestling and Snacking related.  They are almost certain to release the actual cereal at some point too...

20 April 2016

Upbeat – Mango & Passion Fruit (Waitrose) [By @SpectreUK]

I’d like to say I’m feeling ‘Upbeat’ about this Mango & Passion Fruit Diary Protein Drink, but my latest venture with passion fruit, i.e. passion fruit beer, was a complete disaster. In fact I’m not sure why I picked up this diary drink now been as though I don’t even like mango as a flavour (asides mango chutney). Perhaps I thought that if orange goes well with passion fruit, then perhaps mango will? I have no idea now. All I know is I’m on a big downer on passion fruit since I threw away that beer (I know, first beer I think I’ve ever thrown away).

Having said that on opening the plastic bottle the yellowish milky liquid inside smelt almost evenly of passion fruit and mango, which wasn’t a bad smell at all. Flavour-wise I was quite surprised whilst my tastebuds bathed in the creamy silkiness of the diary drink the passion fruit and mango seemed to get on rather well together. The passion fruit working like it should; though not to dull the strong mango flavour, but to complement it like a good friend on a sunny afternoon in the garden. I found this drink to be refreshing, milky, energising goodness. My faith in passion fruit has been rekindled and my dread of mango diminished. One could say I’ve been left feeling ‘Upbeat’!

Information on the bottle;

250ml with 20g of protein, 149 calories, low in fat at 2g, 0.38g salt, and 11.8g of sugar. See ingredients in photograph.

19 April 2016

Smokey Tennesse Rib Flavour Crisps (Marks and Spencers) [By @cinabar]

So Mark and Spencer have launched a new range of goodies for summer. They are brightly packaged, and it makes me look forward to sun drenched days and barbecues. You know last Saturday we had snow, April snow… oh well, I can still eat summer food, and put the heating on. This is Britain after all.
The crisps are Smokey Tennessee Rib flavoured, which I liked the sound of as I like both smokey and meaty flavours. We opened up the bag and decided to share them out wth sandwiches. The crisps are fairly well seasoned, and have a generous orangey coating. They smelt pleasingly smokey too.

The crisps are a decent thickness, crunchy, but not overly so. Some companies make crisps too thick, in an effort to be posh, and they seem to go passed the mark, thankfully these were spot on. I enjoyed the complexities of their taste too. There is a sweetness, and a barbecue sauce flavour with lovely warm spices, but the best part of the crisp is the finish. A wonderful rich smokiness that just ends the flavour so very well. This makes them ever so moreish and tasty, and made us all go back to the bag to see if there were any more to share out.
These are crisps I will certainly be buying again.If the weather was up for it, these could be perfect with a barbecue. With the weather the way it is, they are a fab indoor lunchtime treat too. ;-)
By Cinabar

18 April 2016

Birds Eye Pancake Chocolate Chip (Morrisons) [By @Cinabar]

Birds Eye’s new product launch this month are pancakes! I don’t mean a ready-mix for them, these are already made pancakes, and they go from the freezer to the plate in 3 minutes (via a visit to the toaster). They have plain or chocolate chip, and it won’t take much to guess which one I picked up! These are the American style fluffy pancakes, rather than the thin British ones you might have with lemon and sugar.

I love the idea of instant pancakes, they are vey convenient and are ready for a fun breakfast. I say breakfast, they are clearly designed with breakfast in mind as they have “Hello Morning” on the box, but I decided to try them out for dessert. I know, I’m a rebel right?
Inside the box are six pancakes, wrapped in stacks of three. I popped a couple in the toaster for 3 minutes, grabbed a bowl, some ice cream, some maple syrup and a sliced banana. Once the toaster popped dessert took about a minute to construct.

To be honest if you skipped the ice cream it would be the perfect breakfast treat too. The pancakes were throughly defrosted and actually quite hot all the way through after their brief toasting. The flavour of the pancakes was nice, they were sweet and very chocolatey. Each pancake packed a fair amount of chocolate chips, and the flavour was surprisingly dark and rich. The pancake flavour tasted almost cake like, with its wheat flavour and vanilla base. The added additions went perfectly with the pancakes and made a gorgeous pudding, and it was so very quick to put together.
I thoroughly enjoyed these new pancakes from Birds Eye. They are a must for the freezer, for a quick pancake treat.

17 April 2016

Belleveue Tea - Green Tea and Earl Grey Mocktails (by @NLi10)

PR companies like to send tea. It's easy to post, and it's light. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to review without resorting to wine-taster cliches and directly comparing it to the tea you already love. This presents a problem which Bellevue Tea have neatly sidestepped by inviting us to make tea based mock-tails.

Non alcoholic cocktails are great. Their muddled flavours and often fruity base means you get all the best bits of drinking cocktails without the watered down spirits - you think the price is due to the alcohol, but it's really due to the queues at the bar using the blender makes.

We were sent three varieties. Decaf tea tasted great and will be going to work for use as my afternoon tea once the decaf PG runs low. The green isn't quite to my taste (I drink a Jasmine green import tea) but it's a good one, and I'll be sharing this with colleagues who like their green without the floral notes. The earl grey is probably my favourite, the flavour is a shade different to the Wittards that is in my caddy at the moment. Without having two cups side by side I'd struggle to tell them apart - which is a kind of complement. Told you tea bags are hard to review!

Here we have a dodgy screen grab of the cocktails menu (sorry - mocktails) that we shall be working on. You may have noticed the fruit purchases earlier.

First up we go green. Our lovely Blend Active comes out of the cupboard as the weather gets warmer, and the Edge of Belgravia knives make chopping and selecting the best bits to go in a breeze. Sometimes I think my whole kitchen came in little brown boxes through the post...

And boom - we have our cucumber juice (with bits because that's where the nutrition hides) to strain into the tea.

One tidy slice of cucumber and a few drops of lemon...

... Mix in the cucumber juice and we have a surprisingly professional looking drink.

That tastes like cucumber water. I added more lemon and the flavour perked up a bit, but it still didn't taste right. It was then I spotted that the teabags on the poster were lemon and ginger, and ours were plain green. Oops. I added even more lemon and a dash of ginger.

Much to my surprise this did actually fill in the flavour curve nicely and it became a (weakly flavoured) refreshingly light drink. Regular readers will know I like my flavours large and strong and for me I think I should have brewed the tea a lot more before mixing it in - as I made it in a glass I let the water cool a little first. So for the second one I brewed my Earl Grey properly.

We have a substitution here, the agave syrup that I have on my Weetabix is basically honey so I went for that. Lemons were chopped and peeled with one whole slice going in the blender for texture.  Note the hot earl grey brewing away nicely.

Also makes it look like lemon and honey in the picture too.

I got carried away and sliced the lemon so thinly it didn't stand up very well...

I put the tea into the blender with the lemons and agave and produced a drink that I'd have happily paid money for in a cafe. Sure - it was probably a bit too lemony (!) but it's certainly a spohisticated little number.  I'd have never thought of just grabbing a lemon, a tea bag and my blender to make a summer drink. I'm not sure why - I have a Happy Lemon loyalty card now - but I always assumed it would be more effort.

I'm sure I'll be cracking this out for those inevitable summer nights where my house is filled with my partners girly friends before they head out and I'm sure I could make a lovely Lady Grey pitcher for them to sample with these ideas.

Once I manage to get the strengths right anyway! 🍋🍋🍋☕️

16 April 2016

Pic Tor Passion Fruit Pale Ale (Brown and Greens, Trentham) [By @SpectreUK]

Passion Fruit goes well with other fruity flavours, such as orange, which makes a refreshing tropical drink. In fact that’s where I figured this beer was from when I picked it up on a recent day out. And why not? This is a tropical sounding beer, which could easily be from tropical climes. Well, how wrong was I? This beer was brewed at the Buxton Brewery, in England. I couldn’t decide whether this 5.9% Pic Tor Passion Fruit Pale Ale sounded a good idea or not. I know that orange pale ale tastes good and goes great with fishy and spicy meals. I know that orange goes well with passion fruit, so maybe there’s a bridge there and I can enjoy this beer with my tuna sandwich for dinner tonight?

On opening there was an initial fruity smell to the beer that didn’t particularly smell strongly of passion fruit. In fact the fruitiness in the aroma mixed well with the hoppy beer. I was expecting an explosion of sweet passion fruit when I first sipped the cloudy golden beer. I was certainly to be surprised. This has to be the sourest bitterest beer I’ve ever had the misfortune to try. I’ve tried plenty of beers for this blog and many many more besides, but this is a very rare occurrence, asides banana beer, which I also didn’t like at all. I’ve eaten a passion fruit in the past and they taste quite sweet, so what happened here I have no idea. I even checked the date on the 330ml bottle, as I presumed it had gone out of date several years ago! Cinabar laughed each time I took a sip and my face curled and twisted to the point of trying desperately to hide behind my hands. Bluuurgh… Sorry Buxton Brewery, this just wasn’t for me!
By Spectre

15 April 2016

Muller American Classics Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie Yoghurt (Morrisons) [By @Cinabar]

When Muller decided they wanted their latest limited edition corner yoghurt to be American themed one, they must have a bit of a decision to make. “Shall we go for cheesecake or brownies?” The obvious conclusion was both, along with; “lets chuck some raspberries in there too for good measure”. Behold the American Classics Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie Yoghurt was born. Phew.
If I was being picky I’d point out that if somebody says to me New York style cheesecake, I’d assume it would be baked, this yoghurt has a very British feeling Digestive biscuit bits to represent the base. It’s okay though, they put the Statue of Liberty of the packet to help confirm the American theming. Hang on wasn’t the Brownie the base?

So before I tried this yoghurt I had already decided that it was a bit confused. I pulled back the lid, and was impressed by the amount of brownie and biscuit bits I had to pour in. There seemed a lot, which is always nice.
I dipped the spoon in getting some of the cheesecake yoghurt, the raspberry sauce, the biscuit bits and the brownie and the flavour sensation struck, I take it all back, this works. The ingredients felt like they were meant to be. The rich chocolate, the smooth creamy flavour from the yoghurt and biscuit and the zingy raspberry cutting through it all, it was just heaven. I know I’ve mentioned before about my love of textures, so crunchy biscuits and soft brownie meant that this was a win on that front too. This is a new favourite Muller Corner for me, and I hope it stays a while, despite having that “Limited Edition” label top right.