31 August 2016
Looking for a refreshing drink after a stint at the gym I found this Mello Cantaloupe Melon drink. Apparently it’s good for your skin, so the bottle states, and at my age every little helps! It has 100% natural ingredients, with no added sugar, preservatives, sweeteners or water. It’s just pure cold pressed cantaloupe melon juice (80%) and pineapple juice (20%), you could say it’s like a Pareto’s mixed fruit juice punch. And at 31 calories I’d burnt that off in less than 5 minutes on a bike ride to nowhere.
On taste the orange liquid tasted mainly of cantaloupe melon… probably about 80% I should imagine, with about 20% of pineapple juice calming the shear melon flavour down in the background. This is a very refreshing and flavoursome drink indeed, and had a thickness almost akin to a smoothie. I’d have this again as it felt very healthy and different from just having a bottle of regular juice drink.
30 August 2016
Here we are continuing on the taste testing of the New Walkers flavour crisps inspired by Heinz. These crisps represent a cheese, cucumber and salad cream sandwich. It is an interesting idea for a combination of flavours, and I was keen to get the pack open.
The first taste I got was a distinctly vinegary hit, this developed very quickly into the very specific taste of salad cream. Who’d have thought salad cream and crisps would work? Well if I’m honest Spectre has dipped crisps in salad cream for years, but I’d just assumed he was a bit weird…
Anyway, there is also plenty of cheese and cucumber in the aftertaste. The cheese presents a slightly musty flavour that I liked and the cucumber was very distinctive and fresh. I couldn’t pick up on any bread, and I wonder with these sandwich flavours if they even bother to attempt to add it in as a taste?
The mix of salad cream, cheese and cucumber worked very well, sort of like a cheese salad flavour crisps. It shouldn’t work but it does. I think it is the tangy vinegar flavour from the salad cream that makes these crisps a winner. These are different to any I’ve tried before, but that hint of vinegar brings with it a certain familiarly, a flavour that works but with a very nice twist. I found these very moreish crisps I would look forward to having them again.
29 August 2016
Looking around the foodie section in Boots I spotted this new drink from Evian. It came in a cute almost tear drop shaped bottle, with a pink liquid inside. The flavour sounded quite posh, with it being a mix of Grape Juice and Rose.
As this drink is made by a company that makes mineral water I thought it might be in the realms of the “water with a hint of” style drinks. I wasn’t wrong, the flavour from the drink was very mild. It isn’t a sweet drink, but it does have a very delicate flavour. There is gentle hint of rose, but it is a very mild floral background taste, and a slight hint of grape sourness. It is easy to drink, because the flavour is so light. I can imagine that even if you weren't a fan of rose this would be okay for you, as there isn’t a strong Turkish Delight flavour, just a subtle easy going taste.
All in all this drink was very refreshing on a warm day, and hit the spot well. I’d pick it up again quite happily. The only negative thing I have about it is the serving size and calorie content. It just seemed a bit confusing. Sorry it isn’t the best quality picture, it was white writing on a clear bottle, but you can see the issue below. If you are a packaging designer and you find yourself writing on a small bottle “1.5 serving of 250ml” just stop. It's a small bottle, it's going to drunk in one, not in 1.5 portions, stop being so confusing. I found ti very hard to work out how many calories are in the bottle.
28 August 2016
Hawker Yard on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/HawkerYard/
I'm not a fan of trendy things, street food is another one of those warning signs that something is trying too hard. On the way back from playing cards at ManaLeak's new industrial location in Digbeth a security guard suggested I might like to eat at the place they were guarding, and that I was free to wander in and look around - so I did.
That place was Hawker Yard, a ruin-bar inspired collection of mini stalls. This could be a worry if it's just burger vans, but both the set-up of a two tier eating area and the choice of foods was certainly well curated. There was Dim Sum, Greek and confusing array of vegan burgers at one end and a large, well stocked bar at the other.
Naturally I gravitated towards the most alien place - called Vegan Grindhouse. While I do like to think of myself as an 'unethical vegan' in spirt (more on that another day) I do eat meat regularly simply because I have a tendency to hang out in areas where nutritious vegan food just isn't viable (such as the pub I'm writing this in).
Here however the options are bountiful!
I didn't fancy a burger (people's obsession with bread still confuses me) so I opted for the tempting salad at the bottom.
Here it is - sitting on an oil drum, on the second storey of a scaffold structure from which you can watch all of Digbeth go by.
In theory there isn't much here, just some salad leaves and some vegan-chicken and vegan-mayo, but my goodness it was tasty. There is a little bit of wizardry here, making something that is close to raw fresh ingredients so appealing. For one, the mayo both cools the jalapeños and livens up the crisp lettuce. The vegan-chicken is the real star. Presumably this is just their burgers sliced up and popped on the salad but with a soft but firm texture and an almost nutty flavour I think I'd rather have this than the real thing. It's almost certainly more nutritious too, with far more flavour than your standard festival chicken.
This is a new venture - this was a preview weekend that I just happened to stumble on. I think there were three or four separate stalls for food then the long bar. The plan seems to be to extend this to 8 food outlets and to have it as a regular weekend thing over Friday and Saturdays, and I'm all for it.
If all the food is as good as the Vegan Grindhouse offerings then it's going to be a magnet for hungry Brummies within a matter of weeks, as news about cool places to hang out travels fast. Definitely somewhere worth popping into town to explore.
27 August 2016
Honest Brew very kindly sent me six intriguing sounding beers and a glass to drink them out of. There were beers such as Beavertown Neck Oil, Wild Boar, and Railway Porter, as well as this Wild Goose Chase. There was a smart booklet with the bottles and cans of beer to describe each one, and some further information about flavour categories. This seems like the perfect present for someone who doesn’t get to the shops much and likes their unusual sounding beers.
Produced by the Wild Beer Co. Brewery in Westcombe, Somerset, this Wild Goose Chase is served in a 330ml bottle at 4.5% volume. The description on the bottle made my mouth water. Gooseberries are added during the brewing, as well as locally grown wild yeast, some harmonising hops as well as dry hops to bring out the fruitiness and extenuate the bitterness. On opening there was a tart gooseberry smell and a decent helping of hops to back it up. There was also a slight green tint to the ultra pale ale as I poured it into my beer glass. I was starting to get a little concerned about how bitter this drink may be.
On first taste I could certainly see what they meant about the complementary hops. The gooseberry flavour hit my tastebuds first with a fruity nose hair tickling bitterness, which the hops then coax the fruity bitter flavour and yet don’t let it overpower the senses. The pale malt is drawn out at the back of the flavour once the bitterness has run its course. I can see why they called this beer Wild Goose Chase, as they must have worked very hard indeed to balance these flavours just right, in order to produce a truly different taste experience!
26 August 2016
When I saw this bar of milk chocolate in Marks and Spencers I thought it sounded rather luxurious. Chocolate made with Jersey milk, if ever there was a bar that sounded soothing, this felt like it would be it. I wouldn't normally review a plain sounding bar like this, but after a busy day some Jersey milk infused chocolate sounded like a perfect treat.
Now when it comes to comfort eating, I'd normally go for a bigger bar, but this one is quite thin and light. I guess that is healthier though. I broke a piece off and gave it the taste test. I was surprised to find that the chocolate didn't do much for me. I know it contains Jersey milk, I checked the ingredients label to make sure, but it is far from being what I would describe as creamy. I think I misinterpreted milk as cream. The melt on it isn't thick and lush, its quite a clean feeling bar, which isn't what I'd hoped for. Flavour wise it is sweet, but the cocoa has a woody complex edge, its pleasant, but not the rich flavour I was after. I liked the chocolate, it was perfectly okay, a nice quality milk chocolate with a nice cocoa. The problem was that it didn't meet the expectation. I wanted a thick heavy melt chocolate that coated the palette in a sweet and super creamy mix. I wanted a cocoa that worked with the sweetness, and was smooth and easy to eat. Mostly I wanted a bigger bar too, something too soothe away the work day blues but errr... maybe that part is just a bit of greed too! Oh well, at least it is a Bank Holiday weekend!
25 August 2016
Ocado shopping is great. You finish all the regular groceries really quickly then get to spend 10 mins running the gauntlet of special offers and new products as you check out. You usually forget about these items and when the delivery man comes then you get mini Christmas Day moments.
Here we have lemon masala burgers and sweet potato chips. Vegetarian and certainly quite healthy, but are they any good?
Well, we know the sweet potato chips are great, we may have even reviewed those before. If you want to make your own then this is much cheaper, but sometimes we fancy oven chips and these are legitimately that bit better for you - a little bag of frozen compromises.
The burgers surprised me by needing a sticker to tell you about them in English, there are many other Euro languages here, and by needing to be fried!
Using ceramic cookware and as little oil as possible I gave them a good frying. Possibly for a little longer than needed as they'd defrosted a little while the chips cooked.
And here we have a meal! Well - again I should have buried it in veggies and salad, but this is supposed to be burger and chips comfort food.
The flavours of the burgers are amazing - fragrant and light - with lots of amazing textures to delight the senses. Adding ketchup on these is not required! The chips too have all the flavour you'd expect and went really well.
The only thing I'd change is I'd have two burgers per sitting instead of one, but if I'd done that we wouldn't be able to have them tonight too!
24 August 2016
Walkers have teamed up with Heinz to produce a range of Heinz Sauce inspired flavoured crisps. This Sausage & HP Brown Sauce crisps was the first I picked up. On opening the packet there was a strong smell of HP Brown Sauce merged with the smell of sausages, this was reminiscent of some sausages on a plate with a heavy helping of brown sauce on top. In taste the sausage flavour is more pronounced with sweetness to the sauce to start with, a decent hit from the molasses, and the sausages herbs and spices, with a little onion and sage to finish. These crisps definitely feel like a break from the norm, and were very welcome indeed.
Other Heinz Sauce inspired flavours are; Roast Chicken and Mayonnaise, Bacon and Tomato Ketchup, Ham and Mustard, Toasted Cheese and Worcester Sauce, and Cheese, Cucumber and Salad Cream. Cinabar tells me that the Cheese, Cucumber and Salad Cream are particularly good… More reviews to follow!
Information on the packet;
40g bag with 209 calories, 13g of fat, 1.2g of sugar, and 0.52g of salt. These crisps are suitable for Vegetarians. Please see photograph for ingredients.
23 August 2016
Brixton Beach Boulevard is bringing the summer to the city dwellers looking for a summer escape.
The space in south London has been filled with sand, benches and -a wonderfully retro vibe. With the sound of 70's disco playing, you'd almost think you'd been transported to a Miami beach party.
A great range of food offerings are available. There's Lucha Burrito who is bringing the taste of Mexico with a variety of burritos and rice pots, with all the trimmings.
Then there's Mac to the Future who is taking on the classic dish by adding little twists of originality- especially with their side dishes of tator tots!
Lucky Pierre is a French pop up with great quality food with ease. The Steak Frites is a great dish with incredibly tender meat, and the béarnaise sauce gives it an extra kick. The Cheese Frites were also especially enticing- with a whole Camembert with garlic and rosemary.
Lamjam specialises in Turkish Street food and their lamb wrap certainly did not disappoint - with strong flavours and the perfect amount of spice !
All the food vendors offer something unique and there truly is something for everyone! Make sure to try one of the slush cocktails at the bar to complement your food- the passion fruit was a particular favourite! Check out the menus at http://www.brixtonbeachboulevard.com/food/- don't miss out on the last of the summer!
22 August 2016
Having tried the very tasty Doritos B - Ultimate Cheeseburger edition, I was very much looking forward to this bag of Doritos A Spicy Salsa. Basically Doritos have brought out two new flavours, labelled them as A and B and let the public make their mind up about which will be their favourite. The public can "destroy" one, to use their terminology. I have already tried the cheeseburger variety and loved them, so these have high competition indeed.
As per the Doritos B, Doritos A Spicy Salsa has limited design on the packaging. Just the basic black and white design, I'm guessing they are not investing on the design until they know which one they are bringing out properly.
The aroma was mild with a hint of tomato, but the flavour was very well detailed. They had a kick of warmth, which was nice but they weren't too hot. What I liked was the detailed representation of the salsa flavour. It tasted fresh and slightly tart and sour, with a good hit of tomato. The flavour was quite detailed and it worked very well, there was even a level of herbs and spices.
These were good. The flavour was very close to representing its intended variety. If I hadn't tried the cheeseburger ones I'd be raving about these. As it is, as you literally have to pick one over the other the Doritos B - Ultimate Cheeseburger wins hands down. It is a more exciting flavour, and the flame grilled beef within it was superb. Get both Doritos while you can, because these Spicy Salas ones are still fab, even though I'm pretty confident the Ultimate Cheeseburger ones will win this.
21 August 2016
Papa Johns has let us sample their new flavours before, but what they had on offer this time was a little different. I agreed to give it a try and they hooked us up with a meal for two.
Here we have one pizza and two mysterious white bags.
The pizza is as requested - a veggie pizza (I think a Garden Party) but with no mushrooms - and most importantly for the review - low fat cheese. Now I'm a little sceptical when it comes to the low fat varieties of things, I'm a much bigger fan of eating less of the thing and having the real deal, but I was willing to give this a try.
Here are my first two slices. As you can see, even though the cheese is only 1/3 lower in fat it still doesn't look as prevalent on top of the pizza. The taste too was quite mild, but it still tasted like a pizza with cheese on it. This is good for me, I'm not a fan of strong cheese, preferring it in the background holding the pizza together.
On the online menu you can choose the lower fat cheese at no cost, and presumably it's mentioned at the til when you order in person. And yeah - I'm pretty likely to do this in future - for anyone who doesn't see the cheese as the main event on the pizza then you are likely to feel the same way.
My veggie partner was disappointed that they haven't used a lower fat, but strong cheese as shed much prefer that!
The little white bags were the also new to the menu chargrilled corn bits. These were nice enough and did come apart much easier than regular corn on the cob, but it's just not something I'd get excited about. We received two portions of four, and didn't need the second bag. We'd be much more likely to add a garlic bread or order the next size up of pizza to complete our meal - but then that would likely negate the lower fat cheese option and reduce the nutrition in the corn. As the corn wasn't that buttery at all I'm guessing that it was pretty healthy compared to the rest of the package.
Pizza is not the most healthy of meals, but in moderation and with the lower fat cheese I guess you could have it just that little more often.
20 August 2016
Okay, so Elvis Juice is grapefruit infused IPA. I like beer. I like grapefruit. Not sure about the both together though! It’s sounds to me that this beer by Brewdog could be overpoweringly bitter. I tried passion fruit beer a while ago by another brewery; thinking it would be quite sweet, due to many sweet passion fruit drink experiences. How wrong was I? Oh, my… Anyway, I know from fruity experience that grapefruit is very bitter. In fact I only ever drink grapefruit juice when I stay in hotels, and rarely at that. I make a beeline for it at breakfast time. It’s always a good pick-me-up. So after a long gym session this morning and an old man nap this afternoon, I decided to pop open the 330ml bottle. I noticed on the label that this beer had grapefruit peel and also orange peel add during the brewing. I do like orange beer, so I’m feeling a little better…
On opening this 6.5% volume beer smells like a slap round the face from half a grapefruit, a tickle from some cheeky hops and then someone stuck a segment of orange up my nose! I half expected this Elvis Juice to be hot pink as I poured it, however it’s a rich golden colour. There was an immediate hit of grapefruit even from the head. Oh, my… all I can ask is why hasn’t anyone thought of adding grapefruit to beer before? Or have they, if someone did before they were geniuses. The grapefruit runs straight through the flavour dwarfing any hopes of orange, but really, who cares? Maybe the orange works in the background to calm the grapefruit down? This is nothing like the passion fruit beer experience, which was revolting; this grapefruit infused beer is revolutionary. The grapefruit brings out the bitter flavours from the hops like a Sergeant Major lining up the troops and marching them across my senses to join forces with the malts for a sumptuous aftertaste which is difficult not to put beer glass to mouth immediately afterwards. Unlike orange infused beer that goes well with fish, I’m not sure I’d want to drink this beer with any food accompaniment. I would prefer only the accompaniment of a good book, some peace and quiet, and at least another three 330ml friends to enjoy it with.
19 August 2016
I feel obliged when doing an online order from Morrisons to browse the new items, they have a special button for it on their website, so it would be rude not take a look. This week I spotted some new own brand crisps, the most interesting sounding of which were these mozzarella and pesto variety.
The crisps are fairly thinly cooked for "posh" crisps, which I actually prefer. There is correlation between thickness of crisps and the price paid. This is a bit weird, there is a lot to be said for crisps that aren't too hard and sharp. Some makes go passed ideal. These ones had a pleasing firm texture, and nice sprinkle of herby green seasoning.
The flavour of these were also really good. Mozzarella and Pesto works, I've had mozzarella cheese balls coated in pesto from various supermarket deli counters, and it is a flavour combination I really love. The pesto on these crisps means that these have a really herby taste, and it made them very fragrant. The secondary taste is the mozzarella cheese, which give the crisps a fab creamy finish. It wasn't the standard musty cheese you get with some crisps, this was delicate creamy taste. The contrast of the mozzarella and pesto flavours makes them very moreish, as the balances changes with each bite. I love the taste of basil on crisps, it gives them a lovely Italian edge.
The flavour is so fresh and summery, that I think these would be perfect in a big bowl at a barbecue. I must remember not to eat the whole packet to myself! :-D
18 August 2016
The hospital shop has had some odd snacks show up over the years. This is a particularly angular choice, Austrian wafer biscuits.
While I admit that the best Eurowafers come from the continent, most of the success is due to the sheer variety of toppings and fillings. The best English wafers are the Pink & White ones that are - essentially - vanilla wafers like these.
At a pound for a pack of 6 they aren't that cheap, so let's see if they are worth the trip.
Upon inspection these are a slightly less crumbly version of the Pink & Whites but with essentially the same flavour. A quick glance of the ingredients reveals that they are essentially sugar and oil too. Hardly diet compliant! And as with all of these kinds of biscuits that lack a topping they just aren't filling. They don't flip the nutritional off switch, and conversely act rather well as an incentive for me to cook and eat something decent!
The also have a chocolate version, which may be worth a look. As they aren't really filling or that great for you its a pretty hard sell, but as I do enjoy Eurowafers (for all their flaws) it's almost certain to happen.
17 August 2016
One of my favourite beef flavoured crisps flavours is Hula Hoops BBQ Beef flavour (quite a mouthful there!). So I was rather excited when Cinabar told me about this new Hula Hoops Puft Beef. These are wheat and potato rings, which are “light and crispy puffed hoops”. There is a good beef smell on opening the packet with a hint of wheat.
The hoops are definitely light and are certainly crispy. On taste they have a strong beef flavour, but with the difference of not having any barbeque flavour present, and I of course was not expecting any. So don’t expect any either, these are beef flavoured Puft Hula Hoops. And they taste fantastic, just like the Barbeque Beef, but not the same. Completely different… apart from the beef!
16 August 2016
There is something about chilli and chocolate that sounds very exotic and makes us think of the Incas. It's a romantic combination in theory but so often in reality doesn't quite work for me. Even on the occasions where I've had good bars of chilli chocolate, there still hasn't been a bar where I've thought; "this is it" and switched from chocolate without. Consequently when I saw these new biscuits in Marks and Spencers I was a little wary at first. Had it not been for this blog I wouldn't have popped them into my basket. Foodstuff Finds has a way of making you pick up foodie products you'd otherwise turn your back on!
So with some apprehension I opened up the pack. First thing to note is just how much chocolate there is in these cookies. They are packed with chunks of dark chocolate. The biscuits are quite big, but the texture is a light crunch. They sort of melt in the mouth when you bite it, rather than being heavy and stodgy. The flavour at first is purely that of chocolate and biscuit. The chocolate is of a very impressive quality, very dark with some lovely distinct tones of cocoa. The sweetness balance, once combined with the biscuit, is spot on. So what of the chilli, well as first I thought there wasn't any, but the chilli appears in the aftertaste. It's very mild at first, but does develop and give a bit of a kick to the back of the throat and a bit of a buzz on the tongue. If I'm honest I've had ginger biscuits that are stronger, but I still wouldn't want any more chilli. In its light dose its fine, it does its job adds a dash of heat but isn't too intrusive. I liked these biscuits, I liked them far more than I thought I would, but I can imagine chilli aficionados being very unimpressed.
My only negative point is that these are in the "Spirit of Summer" range, and these are dark rich and warming biscuits. Do Marks do a "Spirit of Winter"? If they did these would be better in that range instead.
15 August 2016
So Doritos are putting two flavours up against each other in a bid to find a new winner. There are instructions on the bag of how to vote, and a hefty prize up for grabs. They clearly don’t want to invest too much in packaging design until they have their winner, these bags look surprisingly basic.
The new flavours are A - Spicy Salsa and B - Ultimate Cheeseburger. I have both bags, and despite some desire to follow the logical A before B taste testing, the Ultimate Cheeseburger flavour sounded too good not to open first.
I opened up the pack and inhaled the aroma. Initially they smelt a little bit meaty, but nothing wow.
I poured a few onto the plate, sat down and tucked in. They were amazing. They pretty much nailed the flavour on the head. The cheeseburger taste is very meaty, and has the most moreish flame-grilled flavour. There is a lovely hint of cheese, and you can almost picture the burger in the bap. The taste is complex, and all the elements make these very moreish and a pleasure to munch through. The star of the show is that wonderfully beefy taste, just like it came straight off the barbecue. I’m not sure that Doritos could have made a cheeseburger flavour any better than this, and I had no idea it would work so well as a seasoning. I’ll be buying another bag.
I will of course be trying A - Spicy Salsa very soon, and only then will I make a final decision on my favourite. I have to say though, these are going to be seriously difficult to beat.
14 August 2016
What the fox this?!
We take a break from our healthy eating and find ourselves with a TV dinner to pop in the microwave and consume. I know I'm a fan of bachelor chow, but even the guy in the corner shop that sold me this suggested it'd be like eating the box. But let's give it a fair trial...
We have three frozen portions. Meat, beans and chips. Like the three misunderstood food groups on our broken plate.
Nutritionally we get a wodge of calories, and half the days salt. Not ideal, but I was very tired and needed something where someone else had done all the work.
From experience i know that the microwave option is only for the desperate and leave it for 30 lonely minutes in our oven.
This gives me plenty of time to read the box and discover it's a family company that is in its 70th year. Maybe they know what they are doing then, and maybe they do care!
The portions are a little small - but it was only £1.59 - so I could have had two. The beans are misshapen, the steak is a decent burger, and the chips are fine.
It's all a bit beige so I added some red sugar sauce (or tomato ketchup) on the side.
And it was perfectly fine. The flavours were muted as you'd expect, but the textures were fine and everything was cooked but not dried out like I'd feared. I'm surprising myself by saying this but is have this again.
If I'd been a bit better prepared I could have added a portion of veg to bring it up to size and to help myself in the nutrition too. As far as frozen meals go this was pretty good value for money and it's no surprise that they are still in business.
And in fairness to them they do have options where the beans are replaced by some frozen veg but I figured that id go full comfort food.
13 August 2016
We visited the Cosford Air Museum’s food show recently and there was a lady selling glasses of different cordials she’d made for her company. It was a sunny day and by the time we’d wandered around the food show we were rather thirsty. We all had a glass of this Fresh Pink Lemonade Cordial, which is made by Alison’s Fruity Cordial Company, in Cheshire. One taste and we were hooked, and the lady knew it because she then guided us to the bottles of cordial she was selling… which was rather a neat selling trick!
The cordial itself tastes of lemons with a hint of raspberries, which gives it its colour. It has a lovely sour flavour just with water added, and made my face twist when I tried it with lemonade added instead. Very nice, very moreish, very refreshing, and I’d recommend you hunt down these bottles, as they are priceless!
Information on the glass bottle;
Ingredients included; water, sugar, freshly squeezed lemons and raspberries, and citric acid.