31 July 2016

Old Lion, Harborough Magna (@NLi10)

As part of a family meal we visited a 'local to them' pub called The Old Lion in Harborough Magna for a spot of food at a Sunday Lunch time. 

For starter I had a soft boiled Scotch Egg, which came with some grilled toast strips to dunk in it. It was actually really nice, and made a great change from the cold, rock hard Scotch Eggs of a picnic. Badgers.

For my main I had a thick cut of gammon, crisply grilled on a bed of chips with two fried eggs on top.

I decided to complement the happy occasion by modifying my leaves.

This is nice and smiley and matches my thoughts about the meal.  The meat was crispy on the outside and soft in the centre, the chips had a good flavour and also had a satisfying texture.  I'd been tempted by the traditional Sunday lunch but as it was quite large I got to steal little bits of Yorkshire Pudding from my neighbours plate to complement my speedily polished off meal.

We didn't stay for pudding, but this came in at under £20 per head including starters and a drink which was pleasantly surprising considering this was not just reheated or carvery style.

I'd happily visit again and try some of the other things on offer.

30 July 2016

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

I’ve tried a few ginger beers by John Crabbie & Company, from Edinburgh, Scotland, but none with the difference of having no alcohol in it. The smart label on the 700ml bottle described the adventurer John Crabbie as being the ‘Ginger Master’ since 1801, which sounded a little like an ancient orange haired Kung Fu expert. The label states that this non-alcoholic ginger beer was made by combining fruit and ginger in a secret recipe to make a cloudy traditional ginger beer. It recommends using ice, as well as a slice of lime or lemon.
I decided to drink this straight and from a good stint in Cinabar’s super cold fridge, as so not to faff around with little blocks of the cold stuff. There was a strong smell of ginger on opening the bottle, which was expected of course. On first taste the bubbles and spicy smell of ginger overpowered my nose hairs and I had to stifle a sneeze. This is definitely not a ginger beer for wussies. In my mind it’s a spicy hot flavoursome ginger beer that packs a mean Highland punch, and doesn’t need any additional flavours such as lime, lemon and added ice would probably run away screaming. Any additional alcohol would be burnt off in a whizz! Once my nose hairs had calmed down and let me take a sip it felt like my entire mouth filled with spicy hot ginger beer, I could feel it clearing my nose and burning down my throat all the way into my waiting worried belly. Of course ginger is very good for the tummy too. This is a refreshing kickass ginger beer and no mistake! Wallop, here comes another dram!

29 July 2016

Kaspsa's Desserts (Wolverhampton @kaspasdesserts) [By @Cinabar]

Wolverhampton is currently going through quite a lot of rejuvenation, and although there are a fair bit of development works on-going there are also some new shops opening already. One of the new shops is a new dessert and ice cream bar, Kaspas. It bright pink and shiny exterior brought me in, as did the promise of a huge selection of ice creams!
The place is very smart inside, with booths to sit in. Think 1960s diner meets a modern touch of glitter and sparkle. I loved the look of the place and we were welcomed to our table and given menus. I found the menu quite overwhelming, all sorts of sundaes, waffles and pancakes with a huge selection of toppings. I was here for the ice cream though and chose a two scoop bowl of strawberry cheese cake flavour and dolce latte ice cream. The drinks menu was also a difficult choice, from slushies, milkshakes through to hot drinks. To give you some idea, I went for a Mojito flavour Bubble Tea Slushie with Lemon and Lime balls (bubbles)!

When the items arrived they looked fab. I don't normally go for slushies (I'm afraid of the ice cream headaches) but as the weather has been so hot, I thought it safe to make an exception.
The drink was very refreshing, the mojito flavour was quite light but had a nice minty lemon taste, no alcohol of course, this is an ice cream bar. I also had an extra wide straw, necessary for the bubble element of the drink. The balls are quite a bright green colour and do travel up the straw easily. Once in the mouth they burst pleasingly delivering a lovely refreshing citrus pop to the taste buds. It's a fun drink and so very refreshing on a hot muggy day.
The ice cream was spot on too. The Dolce Latte was essentially a sugary caramel flavour. It was quite a rich dark taste, but balanced by the creamy content which gave it a smooth finish.
The strawberry cheese cake variety was a more fun ice cream with a creamy hint of vanilla and juicy strawberry bits too. There were some lovely soft biscuity flavours and textures to replicate the cheesecake base. These worked well, and were fun to find in the ice cream. Both ice creams were well flavoured and creamy, and I look forward to trying out more from their huge selection.
I can see this shop being very successful in Wolverhampton. The choice of goodies is quite mind blowing, everything you could ever need for a sweet tooth. I’m really looking forward going back and trying the waffles and pancakes.
By Cinabar

28 July 2016

9Bar - good energy twice (@NLi10)

I missed out on doing a 5K run with my work colleagues a while back, but did get to sample one of the bars out of their goodie bag. It was the brown carob topped one on the left, and frankly was a great tasting treat. I spotted these recently and figured I'd try the whole range.

The peanut one pictured below is very typical of the composition - it's packed with nuts and seeds (which is where the twice energy comes from). There is very little holding it together but it doesn't crumble too badly - and frankly the birds will love you for dropping bits of this.

It feels like it's as close to a Fuhrman compliant snack bar as you can get without just having a bag of seeds.

The Carob one is essentially the same, but with the chocolate substitute added on top.  Again I was shocked by how well this worked - having had some horribly dehydrating mouthfuls of carob before. They have the proportions right and if you are looking for a sweeter less nutty version then this may be the one.

I carried these to both festivals without eating and they survived well enough that  they were intact at home so would work well as trail food. Something I'll look to pick up now and again as a filling tasty way to have some seeds on the go.

27 July 2016

Candy Kittens Sour Watermelon (@CandyKittens_UK) [By @SpectreUK]

I do like healthy(ish) gummy sweets made with fruit juice. These new Candy Kittens Sour Watermelon were made with ‘real fruit juice’, however bizarrely in the ingredients listed below there was no watermelon! The back of the rather smart packet states that it wants to whisk me away to the tropics with these sweets. Seems like a good plan rather than being stuck at work in a stuffy office. Although knowing me I’d probably complain endlessly about the heat if I were in the tropics.

On opening the packet there was a decent smell of watermelon. These cathead shaped red and green watermelon coloured gummy sweets certainly had a watermelon taste about them. They were also sugary sweet and mouth-wateringly fruity, but the maker went a little easy for my liking on the sourness. They are sour, don’t get me wrong, but they are dastardly moreish, whereas super heavy sour gummy sweets that contort my face in bizarre directions when eating have a longer packet life rather than me begging Cinabar to police my greedy childish intake…

Information on the packet;

115g packet, with 23 calories per 6.5g sweet, having 0g of fat, 3.8g of sugar, and 0.01g of salt. Ingredients included; sugar, glucose syrup, corn starch, beef gelatine, acids; citric acid, malic acid; fruit and vegetable concentrates; safflower, spirulina, radish, pumpkin, apple, tomato, blackcurrant, carrot; natural flavouring, and colours; cochineal.

26 July 2016

Secret Raspberry Selector - Hotel Chocolat - Summer Collection [By @Cinabar]

On a sunny day what more could you want than chocolates from the fridge to soothe and chill the palate. Yes I decided to break into a fantastic box of goodies that make up the Hotel Chocolat gift, The Summer Collection.

There are various goodies in the box, and such a fabulous choice. Many of the summer items are fruit flavoured which works wonderfully for me. First up I decided to try the Secret Raspberry Selector chocolates. The reason they are called “secret” is because of the passion fruit that is mixed in, that gives them a bit more of a complex flavour.

The chocolates are neatly decorated with a pink and yellow topping, and the filling is a bright and summery yellow. The centre is a thick silky ganache. The chocolate these are made with is a lovely thick rich dark chocolate. The cocoa content is a high 70% and the flavour dark and smooth.
The first flavour to hit is the fruit passion fruit, that give a neat tropical edge, followed my the tangy flavour of raspberries. The fruit is zingy and full of flavour, and the dark chocolate complements it perfectly. These are fabulous summer flavours, that work even on a hot day. The only problem with these chocolates is that the journey of flavours that one chocolate gives, leaves you immediately wanting another. Oh well, there are quite a few in the pack…

25 July 2016

Aperol Spritz Event - The Bird of Smithfield / Forza Win [By Fey]

To celebrate the summertime favourite drink- Aperol Spritz, they hosted an event at Farringdon's Bird of Smithfield, in collaboration with the restaurant Forza Win.

They welcomed us up to the Aperol Terrace to enjoy a drink in the sunshine. Everything was aptly themed in orange, which added to the summertime feel.

Once all the guests were back inside, they taught us to make the perfect Aperol - lots of ice, prosecco, Aperol, soda water and a dash of orange for flavour! However, as our Venetian host reminded us, the Italians love this drink with some great food. Luckily, one of the wonderful chefs from Forza Win was on hand to show us some quick and easy Italian recipes to impress.

First was the panzanella- a dish made of bread, tomatoes (this recipe featured 3 kinds) basil and delicious onions (which had been prepared in salt and vinegar). The chef made ensured some of the guests got their hands dirty- and the dish was served. It was light but still had amazing flavour, which really did complement the drink.

Next was a Italian take on beans on toast- sourdough bread and cannellini beans (which had been flavoured with some garlic and herbs)! Such an easy recipe with a twist- they also tasted great with the onions we'd tried in the panzanella.

The last course was a beautifully cooked steak with a dash of salsa verde. The homemade sauce was delicious, and we were lucky enough to take our own little tubs home with us.

After enjoying the amazing food, we were able to enjoy the terrace once again.

The team put together a wonderful event- which highlighted just how easy it is to enjoy such a summertime drink with good company and great food and I will certainly be making a trip to Forza Win to try more of their amazing food.

Forza Win- 4.1, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Rd, London SE15 3SN

The Bird of Smithfield - 26 Smithfield St, London EC1A 9LB
By Fey

24 July 2016

Tesco - Pulled Pork & Chorizo Stonebacked Flatbread (@NLi10)

Sometimes you find a food that epitomises a specific era. Tesco has provided us a perfect example for now.

First up we have pulled pork. This is now everywhere. I don't think you can buy non pulled pork anymore. Piglets are born pre pulled.

Next up we have chorizo. Sausage is so last decade. We need specific strong spicy sausage, even if you slice it so thinly that you may as well just have pepperoni as is the case here.

Then we have a Stonebaked flatbread - nobody wants a pitta - this is softer and more baked on stone than any of the other options.

And overall (with a few greens) you have a cliched lunch of the times that couldn't be more now unless it had a large beard and a confusing coffee to go with it.

It was nice enough, but it really wasn't as special as you'd have hoped from any of the individual parts. Edible but disappointing. 

23 July 2016

Sunny Dayz Ale (Aldi @HogsBackBrewery) [By @SpectreUK]

We’ve had quite a few sunny days now, so I thought I’d pick a beer that sounded right for the weather, whilst trying not to tempt fate. Brewed by the Hogs Back Brewery for the Great British Brewing Company, this 3.8% volume golden ale was brewed with Cascade, Centennial, and their local Surrey hops, whilst using Munich and Pale Ale malts. Served in a 330ml bottle, the name Sunny Dayz sounds to me a like a retirement home for 90’s rappers. I’m a bit of an old fuddy-duddy and am missing the more traditional ‘s’ from ‘Dayz’. The label states that this golden ale has a hoppy bitterness of mandarin citrus and floral notes. On opening the bottle there was more of a floral hoppy smell, with citrus in the background. On taste there was a floral bitterness to start with, followed by a light citrus hoppiness that merged well with the Pale and Munich malts. From the funky label I was expecting more of an explosion of hoppy flavours, however this was a subtle flavoursome hoppy golden ale for relaxing summer Sunny Dayz in the garden, rather than rushing around in the blinding heat. Right up my street after a morning bashing away at myself at the gym.
By Spectre

22 July 2016

Limited Edition UK Dairy Milk Tiffin (Poundland) [By @Cinabar]

Many years ago the Tiffin chocoalte bar used to be available in the UK, but at some point in the past its production got limited to Ireland. I’ve had the Irish bar, it was foiled and paper wrapped and the chocolate tasted different to the UK bar. Only subtly different, but it had a stronger cocoa flavour. I was curious to see if this new UK edition was made with the same rich chocolate.

I unwrapped the bar and from the front it didn’t look much different to a regular bar of Dairy Milk, just a hint of some of the fruit peeping through.

From the back you can see there are lots of tasty ingredients packed into the bar. Now I said “fruit” earlier, this is because the back of the pack confused me slightly, the official ingredients of this bar are: “milk chocolate with dried grapes and biscuits”. I thought the popular name in the UK for “dried grapes” was “raisins”, it is an odd phrasing to use on the packet.

So the taste test, and I have to give this the thumbs up. The base chocolate flavour doesn’t taste dissimilar to the normal UK Dairy Milk, its sweet and creamy, and I don’t think it is the Irish recipe. There are plenty of biscuit bits and raisins (ahem “dried grapes”) and they add lovely combinations of texture and sweetness when you munch. The varied texture makes this a fun bar to eat, and one that I think should get a permanent release in the UK. It is a simple idea, combining biscuits, raisins and chocolate and it works perfectly. No wonder people import Irish Dairy Milk Tiffin bars from Ireland.
By Cinabar

21 July 2016

Cornetto - Peanut Butter Love (@NLi10)

After the success of the peanut butter magnums I thought this was worth a go. The name sounds like a Yorkshire man asking his wife if she wants this flavour (peanut butter, love?) but it's the standard Walls Cornetto brand so you know roughly what to expect.

It's a multipack so the cones feel tiny.

Yet they look decent enough in the hand, and have stayed together pretty well.

On top we have a lovely chunk of the same chocolate they use for the centre of the Feast bar, with similar nuts on top. The Icecream tastes nutty too, with maybe a hint of coffee, but is soft and lovely as you'd expect. Inside this is a spike of presumably peanutty goo, but with the other flavours going on this just tasted sweet. Naturally the bottom is full of chocolate too which means the cone doesn't go squishy.

As we've discussed before, the fall of the Cornetto from the premier icecream brand to mid-table obscurity is probably due to people wanting more choc and less ice, but with varieties like this which is a lot closer to a Ben and Jerries style mix of experiences they could be in for a good summer. Especially if you can buy larger ones while out and about.

20 July 2016

Frijj Mango & Passion Fruit (Morrisons) [By @SpectreUK]

This new Frijj Mango & Passion Fruit milkshake has been produced with 40% less sugar. However at over 220 calories per bottle this could still be used as a refreshing pick-me-up after a trip to the gym, especially at the moment with all this unseasonal hot weather. I say ‘unseasonal’, as although it is summer, we kind of expect our summers to be overcast and rainy. We have had plenty of that over the last few weeks, so I guess we’re having a break.

There was a smell of mango and passion fruit on opening the bottle. On tasting the yellowish milky drink there was a mild hint of mango mixed cunningly with a mild hint of passion fruit. In fact this drink was probably the mildest Frijj milkshake I’ve ever tasted. That made sense when I noticed that this drink was 98% fat milk in the ingredients. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing though, as mango and passion fruit can both be quite strong flavours apart, so I had been expecting a sour battle from this milkshake rather than the refreshing light flavours of mango and passion fruit combined in the mildest dances across my tastebuds!

Information on the bottle;

471ml bottle, with 47 calories per 100ml, with 5.5g of sugar, 0.12g of salt, and 1.1g of fat. Ingredients included; 1% fat milk (98%), buttermilk powder, fructose, stabalisers; carrageenan, cellulose gum, colour; carotenes, and flavourings sweeteners; acesulfame K, and sucralose.
By Spectre

19 July 2016

Teavana Iced Shaken Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade (Starbucks) [By @cinabar]

So the new drink from Starbucks this summer has quite a long and complicated name!
Teavana Iced Shaken Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade, there are an awful lot of flavours packed into that, and some specifics of how to make make it. As the weather has been so lovely, I decided to cool off with the new drink. I ordered the medium version of the drink, well two actually, and watched the lady make them. Notably something was missing, the shake. The ingredients were put straight into the flimsy plastic take out cup, and I thought as she was doing this that she have to be careful shaking it, but it turns out she didn't at all, she added in the ingredients and that was that. I picked up a straw and gave it a quick stir, but neither drinks were shaken which was disappointing as they kind of made it a thing, it was even mentioned on the door.

All this aside the drink was really good. It wasn't as cold as it could have been, but we have been having some seriously hot weather and there was plenty of ice added. The flavour is predominantly herby, with the mint and green tea base shining through. The black currants add a slight sharpness and the lemonade a citrus hint of sweet. Don't go expecting a sugary treat, this drink is much more on the side of a refreshing tea base. However the background herby flavour and sharp berries with lemon do make it wonderfully refreshing, and the perfect drink on a hot day. It is one I'll be having again, next time I'm hoping for it be shaken properly too.
By Cinabar

18 July 2016

Flamingo Fling J2O White Grape and Lychee (House of Fraser) [By @Cinabar]

In a step away from the ordinary the new summer edition J2O juice drink is named Flamingo Fling. The name doesn't give much of a clue to the flavour, but it does give a sense of the fun and fruity taste. As does the fantastically decorated bottle! The bottle is amazing, its colourful and very pretty. Flamingos seem very in at the minute, I’ve seen them on everything from novelty sun glasses to t-shirts.
The actual flavour of the new J2O drink is White Grape and Lychee. You don’t often see Lychee flavour drinks so I was pleased to see something a bit different. I took a sip. The flavour of the drink is sweet and very fresh. The lychee offers a new cooling but creamy sweet hint to the flavour and the white grape gives it a fruity burst, but makes it feel quite grown up. There is almost a hint of something floral about the taste, I assume this is from the whit grape, but it felt almost like it had a splash of rose to the taste.
Its quite a complex flavour, but the unusual combination of fruits works remarkably well. It manages to be very refreshing but also very distinctive. This will be the perfect choice for summer barbecues, now that the sun is shining. Excuse me while I don my flip-flops and flamingo sunglasses.
By Cinabar

17 July 2016

Festival Finds - Latitude 2016 (by @NLi10)

This week we have been at the ludicrously sunny Latitude festival. No mud, just grass and pink sheep!

First up we have some of the festival foods. This years big thing is wood fired pizza. Why? Because it cooks in two minutes and kills all the germs!

It's also pretty deluxe and at £10 a pizza must make a decent crust.

I'll forgive them for not using proscutio as advertised because it was nice and welcome. No brand loyalty needed here - every third stall is selling these!

Night time snacks are available too, here we have pofferjes - mini pancakes. At 10 for £5 they aren't cheep.

The guys running this stall were really chatty and nice and while the end result doesn't look like much in the twilight they are actually a really welcome snack.

I had the lemon and sugar but the butter version is apparently the traditional option. I'll have these again!

I got these Mike & Ike lemonade blends for my birthday. Just perky enough to make the shift for Oxfam speedier and they survive the hot weather well.

Breakfast has again been protein based milkshakes and these help give me the energy to get to the site to buy something more solid. 

And lastly some diet advice proving that Latitude is the height of middle class festival excellence.

16 July 2016

Budweiser Budvar: B-Original, B-Free & B-Dark (By @SpectreUK)

I do rather like writing beer blogs (and other alcoholic beverages) on Saturdays. When Cinabar told me that Budweiser Budvar had sent me a lager, I was immediately looking forward to writing about it. What I didn’t realise until opening the box was that there were three lagers from the Czech Republic. You may think that getting sozzled writing a beer blog on a Saturday afternoon is fun, but even us bloggers have deadlines. Besides, then I noticed one of the lagers was non-alcoholic…


I have enjoyed B-Original before, but I thought I’d write a few words about it. On opening the 5% volume lager I took in a deep breath of the Saaz Aroma hops. That initial bite of hops quickly merges with the Moravian Malt leaving a crisp fresh taste of quality lager in my mouth. The soft water is drawn from wells 300 metres below the ground. So no wonder there is an earthy freshness to this lager. Checking out the 330ml bottle label further I found that Budweiser Budvar have been brewing their beer for 700 years in this way. Steeped in tradition, crisp bitterness, malty goodness… I have a new respect for this lager. Especially as someone else had bought it for me!


This non-alcoholic offering is also served in a 330ml bottle. The label mentions the wells, so the soft water is the same, but doesn’t mention the Saaz Hops or the Moravian Malt. However, a good non-alcoholic beer in my mind should simply taste exactly like an alcoholic beer. Now you may say that’s unlikely, but I have recently drank a few non-alcoholic beers and been blown away by their taste sensation. So much so that I just couldn’t tell there was no alcohol in them.
After savouring the B-Original and still having that crisp fresh bitterness and malty goodness in my tastebuds, I reached for the B-Free. On opening this B-Free there was less of a fizz, which is odd, because that’s surely just carbonation? It also didn’t smell anything like the B-Original. It didn’t smell particularly hoppy, in fact it smelt more of barley malt. Of course it didn’t have to, as it didn’t promise anywhere on the label that it would taste or smell anything like the B-Original, so I shook off my foolish notions and poured the beer.
The B-Free poured with a decent head and looked much the same as the B-Original. On taste it was a completely different kettle of fish. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted such a malty beer. This was definitely not a lager in any sense. Checking the label it never promised to be, so I figured I’d probably drunk the B-Original a bit too quickly… B-Free is a heavily malted beer with hardly any of the bitterness you’d expect from additional hops. Here the hops sit underneath the malted barley flavour and are used simply as a preservative. And why not, why should it taste anything like it’s older brother? This B-Free sits on the opposite side of the table. If someone gave it to me in a bar, I doubt I’d be able to tell that it didn’t have any alcohol in it. If someone said that was a Budweiser Budvar I may laugh and say, “it doesn’t taste anything like Budweiser!” but why should it? Why should one product made by a company taste anything like another? Diversification is the key here… and I’m glad of the spell checker, because that B-Original went straight to my head!


It’s rare I have two beers in a row these days. I only really have more than one beer when I’m off on my holidays somewhere. So three beers in a row was an even rarer treat indeed. After being told off by Cinabar during a prolonged bout of uproarious belching and manic giggling I opened the B-Dark lager.
Produced in a 500ml bottle this B-Dark lager has a combination of Pale, Munich, Caramel, and Roasted malts pitted against the Budweiser Budvar traditional Saaz hops. On opening this B-Dark there was a roasted malt smell mixed with the sweetness from the Caramel malt. The beer was almost jet black in colour and I immediately understood the comment on the label about this beer being “straight from the heart of darkness”. This seems like the type of beer I’d drink on a dark stormy night with the fire on and the lights down low. And wow on taste this is another world apart from the B-Original and B-Free. This is a strong hearty beer with notes of coffee in the roasted malt, and an edge of sweetness towards the aftertaste. In between this roasted malty flavour and sweetness come hints of the other malts and an indication of bitterness from the Saaz hops, but this beer is really about the roast and no mistake. Full of flavour this beer has its own original black magic and is really something quite special indeed!
By Spectre

15 July 2016

Cadbury Desserts with Toffee Clusters (Morrisons) [By @Cinabar]

These new desserts are from Cadbury, and I spotted them listed online when I was doing my online grocery shop. When they arrived I popped them in the fridge to chill and I noticed their best before date... It was in 2017! I realised these must be long life in some way, but still put them in the fridge because I knew I'd want to eat them cold.
After dinner one night I opened up one of them and again was a bit confused. These had been stored flat in our fridge for a few days. However the filling on the chocolate side was only filling the bottom  half of the tub. It was like they had been kept on their side, but they really weren't, these desserts justdefy gravity. All of them were like it, and I'd bough four pots. It meant there was a neat place for the toffee clusters to fall into.

The chocolate substance was thick, and slightly gelatinous in its texture. I like the flavour, but it didn't seem as indulgent or as creamy as the usual Cadbury desserts. Mainly it was the texture, it was just a bit to thick. The crunchy bits had a nice toffee flavour and added a bit of a crunch, but even these seemed lacklustre. The desserts are fine, but not something I'd pick up again, every other Cadbury dessert I've tried has knocked these ones out of the water.
By Cinabar