31 August 2017

Avocado and Tofu Salad @yakinoriuk (@NLi10)

Following restaurants on social media is a dangerous business because sometimes they post things that are just too good to pass up! Although this one can't match the carefully posed picture they used, right?


Yes - that's a salad. Granted it's a high fat and oil content salad, but it's highly nutritious and so worth a special trip into town to grab the final servings from Yakinori Grand Central before disappearing off to other places.

And this is what it looks like for real

A little less of a tower, but a much mightier portion! What we essentially have is a  whole avocado, with half a block of Tofu, and then leafy greens and seeds and garnish 
. And a whole lot of flavour!

I ate half as served, and half with a little Kikoman soy sauce and I enjoyed both variations 
It was certainly filling, and not a chore to finish staying crispy and fresh to the end. Maybe I'd swap half of the avocado for some of their katsu chicken on the side, but then that's just me.

Something I'll be trying again for sure.

30 August 2017

Walkers Lime & Black Pepper Crisps (WH Smiths) By @SpectreUK

These Lime & Black pepper flavoured crisps are part of the Walker’s ‘Choose me or lose me?’ range. Rather confusingly this new flavour of crisps is set against the ubiquitous Salt & Vinegar flavour, which doesn’t seem very fair to me. Okay, so life is not often fair and blah, blah, blah, but setting a new flavour against a flavour that all crisp manufacturers have in their range as a must, seems like Lime & Black pepper flavoured crisps are already set on a losing streak…

On opening the packet there was a salty smell mixed with lime, and with black pepper in the background. On taste there is a definite dominant lime flavour to these crisps. The saltiness is slightly subdued, whereas the black pepper came to the fore after a few seconds giving my tastebuds a bit of a buzz. Then the lime kicks in again running through the aftertaste with a good hint of spice from the black pepper. Cinabar and her mom agreed that these crunchy Walker’s crisps have a Mediterranean feel to them. I was thinking more Thai, with the spice from the black pepper and heaviness of the lime flavour throughout.
I would definitely give these Lime & Black pepper flavoured crisps the thumbs up and would buy them again and again. I reckon they would go well washed down with a decent lager, or Indian Pale Ale. However, a fair contest Walkers please, with another sported possible temporary flavour, rather than a stalwart flavour that’s never going to be replaced in a million years!
Information on the packet;
The 50g Grab Bag has 252 calories, with 14g of fat, 1.2g of sugar, and 0.65g of salt. These crisps are suitable for Vegetarians. Please see photograph for ingredients.

29 August 2017

Coffee Banoffee Frostino (Costa) By @Cinabar

On a surprisingly warm bank holiday I couldn’t resist having a nice cold drink whilst out. We popped into Costa and I decided I would have a Frostino, their ice blended drink. To be honest they are usually a bit too cold for me, but I’m happy to make an exception if the sun is shining. I had a look at the menu and thought one of the drinks was actually two drinks that should have been split with a comma; Coffee or Banoffee Frostino rather than Coffee Banoffee Frostino. When the staff confirmed it was one drink with all those flavours I knew I had to give it a try.
The drink came topped with cream, caramel sauce and fudge pieces, and looked like the prefect summer’s treat. It is banana blended with espresso, milk and ice, plus there was caramel sauce splashed up the sides of the cup and poured on top of the cream topping.
I gave the drink its first sip and found that it wasn’t anywhere near as sweet as I had imagined it would be. The dominant flavour was the banana that was very fresh, and it went surprisingly well with the rich coffee taste. Although the drink didn’t start of sweet the sugariness developed the more I drank. By the last sip it was a caramel overload as the sauce had sunk from the top and accumulated on the bottom with cream and fudge pieces. Dare I say it, the mix of coffee and banana didn’t need the added sweetness, it worked surprisingly well on tis own. It isn’t a combination that I thought would word work, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. To be honest the added caramel was always going to be okay wit my sweet tooth, but in conclusion Banana Coffee could be the new Banoffee.

28 August 2017

Cadbury Picnic Bites (Poundland) By @Cinabar

Who can resist a lovely grab bag of choccies on a Bank Holiday weekend. We all sat down together to watch a film at home and share out these new Cadbury Picnic Bites. I found them in Poundland, which is becoming more and more often one of the first places to stock new goodies in the city where I live.

I have eaten Cadbury Picnic bars in the past and enjoyed them, but they are not the first chocolate I turn too, but re-reading the ingredients I soon realised they should be right up my street. Inside the bag were small rectangular chocolate bites packed with a mix of goodies. There were caramel, peanut, cereal and raisins all mixed with Cadbury’s chocolate. I really enjoyed these chocolate Picnic Bites, as each one had a different texture, being both chewy and crunchy and the mix of flavours was spot on too. I liked the nuttiness and the sweetness, and the raisins gave a nice burst of flavour too. I think it is the diversity of the ingredients that made these so moreish, and we soon finished off the pack. I’ve always like mixed texture in my chocolates.
It might be back to work tomorrow, but I’ll be keen to pick up a full size Cadbury Picnic bar just because I seem to have forgotten how good they are. I’ve always loved chocolate and peanuts so I’m not sure hot I forgot about this magic combination.

27 August 2017

Califa Farms Unsweetened Almond (with Vanilla) (@NLi10)

I always investigate the not-milk section of the supermarket (on my rare visits) and stock up on the one true king of the almond milks (not roasted, not sweetened, just almonds) but spotted these luxury carafes of ALMOND in the fridge section.

As you may have spotted - one of these is not actually food - but the fresh stylish packaging meant they gravitated together in the packing.  I guess the goals of light airy health overlap somewhat.

These drinkable almonds are a little more luxurious than normal - in fact I was driven to treat them more like fresh dairy.  I put them straight in the fridge and have been using them alongside the more typically watery versions that I use daily.

It's got a few more calories than the ones in the round-up we did, but it's just that little bit thicker and heavier while still being 100% vegan.  Because of this it is much more drinkable and doesn't require something else to be added to it to make it usable in the same way as dairy.

The vanilla one is really quite special and I'd probably just gravitate towards that one in future.

Duchess the review cat can't quite believe that it isn't dairy either!

While it's not quite the same as the thick coconut milk for making Katsu sauce with paste it did work reasonably well (and better than my attempts with water or dairy milk) and once it was heated properly thickened up well.  As I used the vanilla variety here too the kitchen smelt heavenly - if you can use this in recipes successfully you will convert anyone!

I don't think it's a good everyday milk though - it's a bit too heavy on some of the wheat based cereals and I got rather full when having my usual double portion bowls.  I switched back to the lighter Alpro for mornings and kept this for drinks and for attempting to cook with.

It's a little too expensive to just fill the fridge with, but as a here-and-there option to add variety to the not-milk options it's pretty good.  And if you are looking to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly by dropping dairy every so often then this is probably a great way to start!

26 August 2017

Hobsons' Smooth Dark Stout (Cosford Food Fair) By @SpectreUK

I picked up this Hobsons' Smooth Dark Stout some time ago at the Cosford Food Fair. I do love going to food fairs to see what new and interesting beverages I can find. Just as long as the parking in good and the queues are short. My first thought when I saw this bottle amongst the other beers on the stand was; I bet that will go well with a good steak. I looked on the label and it mentioned molasses in the taste, which could be considered a staple ingredient in any good steak sauce.

So I waited and waited and one night Cinabar's mom cooked some mighty steaks, with thick chips and some salad on the side. Yummo! And what better time to crack open a stout? On opening the bottle there was a dark malt chocolate smell mixed with a little coffee at the back of the roasted malt aroma. This dark brown mahogany coloured 4.3% volume stout filled my beer glass leaving an uneven creamy head. There was a rich roasted malt flavour with a touch of chocolate on first taste, with a touch of fruitiness from the hops that could be mistaken for molasses, and then back to that thick roasted malt flavour to finish into the aftertaste. I took quite a few swigs of this fine stout during the meal and washed last last mouthful of steak down with the remnants of my pint. Great stuff!

25 August 2017

Quaker Oats Porridge To Go - Breakfast Squares (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

As someone who isn’t much of a morning person the idea of saving time when I’m running late and grabbing a breakfast on the go has great appeal. Consequently Quaker Oats Porridge To Go Breakfast Squares sounded like the perfect snack to try out on the train to work. There are two in the box individually wrapped. When I looked at the box it said that they could be heated in the microwave, but not having one on my journey I was pleased to see they could also be eaten straight from the pack.
They smelt sweet and oaty and I took a bite. Now I found that I wasn’t keen on the texture. It was not stodgy like flapjacks can be or indeed sticky, but it was quite solid, and it felt like it was an effort to eat.
I thought it was a little dry, but my issues were purely with the texture, as I really enjoyed the flavour. The taste was just right on the sweetness, with plenty of fruity tones, with hints of berries, and the base taste of golden oats worked well. I could imagine a bowl of porridge with a dollop of fruit jam all sort of condensed down. If only the texture of this Breakfast Square was a little lighter.
I think I will try the second one heated up (it takes just 10 seconds in the microwave) and see if that helps the texture, otherwise I think these might not be for me.

24 August 2017

Higgidy Special Guest - Pesto Chicken Pie with a Filo Crown (@NLi10)

I don't make it to the real life supermarket as often as I used to now I have the Occado SmartPass.  This cuts down on the amount of wow factor impulse buys so on a hungry trip to Sainsbury's I filled the trolly a little too full.

One of the culprits was this fab little Higgidy pie.  A lot of their range is veggie so it's rare that you'll see a truly good meat option.

And even rarer for it to have such a show-stopper Filo Pastry crown!

This really does look amazing (although there was a sad looking one in the whoops section who had been dethroned) and it's more textures to play with too which is great.

The filling too is actually of interest - it's not all window dressing.

Mmmm...  Creamy green pesto sauce with real chunks of chicken floating inside.  Possibly not as 'meal in a pie' as a PieMinister but my goodness this is just as spectacular.  I'd be amazed if this doesn't become part of the standard range - maybe the additional issues with transporting such a fragile topping mean that it's not quite as cost effective.  Hopefully I'll be able to buy one of these again before the special guest period finishes.

Seek out and enjoy while you can!

23 August 2017

Candy Kittens Eton Mess (@DegustaUK) By @SpectreUK

I do like naturally flavoured gummy sweets. These Gourmet Sweets from Candy Kittens have natural ingredients and colouring, and are gluten free. Each gummy sweet is a pink and blood red striped decapitated kitten's head. Maybe I should be writing about this around Halloween?

Anyway, on opening the packet there was a fantastic sweet and fruity Eton Mess smell of blackcurrant, strawberries and cream. On taste there was a brief flavour of the carnauba wax coating these gummies have to stop them sticking together in the packet, followed by a mixture of fruity flavours and creaminess that makes a good Eton Mess. These Candy Kittens Eton Mess were certainly bursting with natural fruity flavour, and I'd recommend them for a fruity gummy treat.

Information on the packet;
The 150g re-sealable packet has 8g sweets that have 27 calories, 0g of fat, 0.01g of salt and 4.4g of sugar. See photograph for ingredients.

22 August 2017

Cadbury Mini Rolls Limited Edition Marshmallow (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

I don’t often buy Cadbury Mini Rolls, but a new Limited Edition flavour was enough to sway me into making a purchase. The new flavour is marshmallow, and the packet shows a lovely swirl of pink within the vanilla sponge cake bar. As these are Cadbury Mini rolls, there is also a coating of chocolate for good measure.

Inside the pack were 5 individually wrapped Mini Rolls, and I opened up the first one to give them a try. Firstly I could clearly see the pink filling inside but flavour wise I wasn’t sure. One of the distinctive features of marshmallow is the texture, as this is filled with a marshmallow like paste this doesn’t come across at all and I had to stop and think about what marshmallow actually tastes of. It is sort of sweet, and well, sugary? Not much to go on, not much to pick it out.

Some of the pink mallows sometimes have a vaguely fruity taste, and I suppose that is where I would put these Mini Rolls. There is the vaguest hint of some kind of fruit element, but essentially this is just a plain chocolate coated Mini Roll, nice because Mini Rolls are nice. Not exciting though, and although the colour is pretty and they look fun, I think the concept is more interesting than the flavour.
Still I’ll eat these up either by popping one in my lunch box, or having them as a treat with a mug of hot chocolate. It feels like hot chocolate weather! I will keep an eye out for any other Limited Edition flavours as I had forgotten how nice Cadbury Mini Rolls are.

21 August 2017

Mini Cheddars - Red Leicester Edition (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

I have to admit to being a little sceptical about these Mini Cheddars. They seem to have a very specific flavour, one that perhaps sounded to difficult to recreate in the form of a seasoned mini biscuit. Don't get me wrong, I recently wrote about the new Mini Cheddars Stilton version and was very impressed. However Stilton is a very distinct flavour, it is strong and blue and worked really well. Red Leicester on the other hand is a fairly mild cheese not that different to Cheddar itself.

I opened up the bag, which was a bright shade of red, to give this new edition a try. The looked like Mini Cheddars and the smelt like regular Mini Cheddars. I poured them onto the plate to have with my sandwiches for lunch.
Now I have to admit I was yet again impressed. Somehow they have managed to pack the characteristics of Red Leicester cheese into these biscuits. The flavour was richer but still smooth and had a certain nuttiness that did make me think of the cheese they were trying to portray. They were very tasty too and I loved munching on them with my lunch.
The last remaining new flavour is Smoked Applewood, and given how well I’ve got on with these new ones so far, I can't wait to get my hands on them.

20 August 2017

More pea-stick snacks, Off The Eaten Path - Crunchy Pea and Pesto Balsamic Snacks (@NLi10)

When invited to a BBQ it's always wise to come prepared.  In most cases the food takes that little longer to prepare than you'd think so always take a long some sharing snacks!

Here we have a mini 'greatest hits' of the FoodStuffFinds snacks section - Pizza Pretz, Green Tea filled wafer tubes, the always welcome Monty Bojangles and the new item - Off The Eaten Path Crunchy Pea & Pinto Bean Sticks - Caramelised Onion & Balsamic Vinegar Flavour.  That's a lot of words to say crunchy tubes!  How do they stack up to the others?

Buying crisps in a box is odd, and only buying 100g of them for a party seems odd too, but these are a clear luxury item and a talking point as soon as they are passed around. No one hated them, which was a good sign and everyone seemed to o back for extras - and the bag kept giving! Being hollow tubes these went a lot further than I had suspected and there were certainly some left by the time the meat was sufficiently burned and the rain heavy enough to force us inside.

The flavours vary by the colour of the stick, but at no time is the onion and balsamic more than a delicate overtone.  This really works, and as I seem to keep saying these would be great with a salad at a BBQ.  We just had Pimms and burgers instead, but the thought was there.  So if you too are planning to have a summer BBQ under the umbrella then this could just save that awkward first portion of the night where the chicken looks a little too pink and the clouds a little to grey.

Certainly worth a look, but one thats more for sharing outdoors than eating alone in front of the TV.

19 August 2017

Sea Fury (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

This Sea Fury Special Ale was brewed by Sharp's Brewery in Cornwall. It was first brewed more than twenty years ago to warm up Cornish fishermen after long stints in the rough Atlantic during the dark cold Winters.

Now I'm no fisherman, but I do remember a very rough crossing on a ferry back from Calais when I was boy. As soon as we left the harbour I noticed the crew tying down the gambling machines. Deeper into the relatively short voyage the sea became incredibly rough as the car ferry struggled along through the Channel.

I remember everyone had little paper bags as we sat in front of a forbidding gallery of windows at the bow of the ship. Every time the ferry climbed a mountainous wave we would see the darkening cloud ridden sky. Only to plunge down the other side into the depths of each watery ridge as the sky became an almost vertical wall of greenish swirling sea. Weirdly I don't remember being afraid at the time, maybe I was too young, either that or just concentrating on trying to keep hold of my last meal!

Anyway, on opening this 5% volume Sea Fury Special Ale there was a strong traditional bitter smell of sweet roasted malt and fruity hops. On taste this deep amber almost brown ale splashed my tastebuds with full bodied sweet roasted malts followed by fruity berry hop flavour. These two flavours rippled around each other into the aftertaste. I could feel see why the fishermen would look forward to few hearty pints of this brew whenever they hit port. I'm sure I'll be back for more myself!

18 August 2017

Cloggs Coffee Shop, a visit to Dewsbury [By Uxorious]

It’s Saturday! And what could be more exciting than a day trip to Dewsbury? For those of you who don’t live in Yorkshire and are perhaps unfamiliar with this historic green county, Dewsbury is a small town south of the city of Leeds. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book, with the name meaning David’s Fort. Anyway, I want coffee!

Recently, well it depends on how you view time, I reviewed Cloggs House blend beans and quite liked them. Noticing that Cloggs coffee company was actually based not far from me, Dewsbury to be precise, I thought I’d visit them at the weekend. A short drive later and we are parked in Dewsbury. By “we” I mean my wife and daughter, they say hello by the way. Soon we have found Cloggs Coffee Shop. It is a little bit hidden, but worth finding.

It seems other people had also successfully found this shop; it was surprisingly busy. You can buy all sorts from here: Belgian waffles, infused teas, milk shakes, hot chocolates, cakes, and of course an extensive range of coffees. A chocolate orange cake for my daughter, decaf latte (my wife can’t cope with caffeine, she goes all hyper, have you seen that squirrel in the movie Over the Hedge???) and for me a flat white.

As you’d expect, the coffee was lovely. A flat white is sort of a latte but with a higher proportion of coffee to milk. (The flat white was either invented in Australia or New Zealand, people disagree on which, back in the mid 1980s. It could even have been the result of a failed cappuccino!) Next to a good espresso this has become my favourite way of consuming caffeine. Full of energy and recharged we then explored Dewsbury, which actually has a good town centre, market place, minster and town hall for you to explore. Parking was quite cheap too.

I shouldn’t fail to mention, that the staff were lovely! (I’m not even paid to say this. On a completely unrelated note, I do quite like their ROK Espresso maker.)

17 August 2017

Tropicana Morning Boost - Fruit and Cereal Smoothie (@NLi10)

As I mentioned, I chose a luxury drink as part of the meal deal in Tesco last week as it's all the same price.

Not only does this have fruit in it (5 a day yo) it also contains cereal - yum, I think?

Hmmm - may settle during transit...

It actually tastes like a decent berry smoothie, and the extra texture is quite interesting. It doesn't really add to the experience and feels like you liquidised a pudding instead of bought a drink. A brave entry into the market, but not one that I expect to last long...

16 August 2017

Coffee Shortbread (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

My first thought when I picked up these Coffee Shortbreads was that I could mess with you and wash them down with a good cup of tea instead of a coffee! However, when I came to eat them I decided to wash them down with a coffee latte. These shortbread biscuits were made with Italian style ground coffee. Some interesting facts on the side of the box stated that Italy was thought to be one of the first countries to drink coffee from the fifteenth century, with the first coffee house opening in Venice in the seventeenth century.

On opening the box, after Cinabar had made me a coffee latte in the Tassimo machine, there was a strong smell of coffee from the square shortbread inside. The shortbreads smelt of baked buttery biscuit and coffee goodness. On taste each shortbread had a soft crunch and a light coffee flavour mixed with the wheat and butter. There was also a coffee aftertaste which complemented the coffee latte as I munched on each biscuit I took a sip of coffee too. Very nice indeed. perfect for an after dinner treat.

Information on the box;

The 135g box contains 9 biscuits, per biscuit has 4.4g of fat, 3.1g of sugar, and 0.08g of salt. Ingredients included gluten, and; fortified wheat flour, butter, sugar, salt, and ground coffee beans.

15 August 2017

Hello Fresh Unboxing - Lamb Ragu Pappardelle @HelloFreshUK (By @Cinabar)

We were very kindly asked if we wanted to try out a Hello Fresh recipe box. We said we did and they sent us a huge box full of goodies. Inside were the recipes for three meals, including all the ingredients to make them. The delivery even came with all the chilled ingredients packed in heavy insulation and with ice packs. There was a note on the box saying it must be delivered that day, which wasn’t a problem as we were in.

We had a good look through the box and found that there were three bags, one for each recipe, they really are making it simple. I was impressed by the quality of the fresh ingredients, everything looked in good condition, and nothing worried me that it had to be eaten first. There was a nice range of meals too, with a prawn, chicken and lamb dish.

We decided to start off by trying out the Lamb Ragu Pappardelle. I gave the recipe a bit of a read and it all looked very straightforward. Prep the veggies, including chopping the onions, fry off the lamb, removing the excess fat. Add the onions and chopped tomatoes with basil and the stock. Give it all a taste test, so see if it needed salt and pepper, but it was spot on without. Cook the pasta, it was really big pasta, Pappardelle, not something I’ve bought before, but it did look posh in our pasta bowls. We finished the dish, and added herbs and cheese. I say cheese, but it was actually some pieces of parmesan that were included, and I grated it finely and topped the bowls. I can’t explain to you just how good the flavour of the cheese was, we regular buy the tubs of pre-grated hard Italian cheese, but this was so much nicer it was actually in a different league. One thing is for sure, I’m buying proper Parmesan from now on.
Apart from salt/pepper and oil, everything else was included in the bags. I liked that I didn’t have to go out and buy anything fresh. The recipe was delicious, and everyone commented on how good it was. It really wasn’t much more difficult that using a jar of sauce for pasta, but the results were tastier, fresher and without any preservatives, extra salt /sugar that might be added to a jar. It is a much nicer way to cook, and it was so simple to follow. This is a recipe I will be making again, as it made such a tastier evening meal. There is so much satisfaction of cooking something so tasty from scratch, and it was like cooking by numbers. I’m really looking forward to trying out the other two meals.

We have also set an exclusive promotional code available if you want to give Hello Fresh a try yourself:
Offer: 50% off your first and second HelloFresh box.

14 August 2017

Afternoon Brunch (Patisserie Valerie) By @Cinabar

Afternoon Tea is a big thing in the UK, something tourists want to experience and perfect for a treat for anyone. I was in Birmingham with my mum shopping and we thought we’d have the extra special experience and treat ourselves. We popped into Patisserie Valerie, and glanced at the menu. We were in a little early, it was round midday, and the item that was glowing at us was Afternoon Brunch. Oh yes, Patisserie Valerie have just upped their game on delicious treats.

We couldn’t resist so Afternoon Brunch for two was ordered, and we both chose an inclusive hot drink to accompany it. I went for a cappuccino and we were asked to pick a “starter” we both went for the smoked salmon bagel.

The coffees arrived promptly, followed quickly by a half bagel each, generously topped with salmon and scrambled egg. This was very tasty, and a posh breakfast, but just I was trying to work out if the tiered tray was going to arrive, they pushed another small table next to ours to make room for it! There were some seriously yummy treats laid out.
We finished up one the savoury by layering more bagels with cheese and ham, and enjoying the flavours of a continental breakfast.

We had a nice healthy fruit course next, there were slices of banana, blueberries and strawberries to share, plus a pot of yoghurt each to go with it.
Finally was the naughtier course, with two Danish pastries each. These were absolutely delicious and the perfect way to finish off our stunning Afternoon Brunch. I totally recommend this twist on a traditional Afternoon Tea, perfect for breakfast fans, but I’m sure NLi10 would be soon to point out there wasn’t a bowl of cereal in sight!

13 August 2017

Kettle Veg Chips - Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar (@NLi10)

We've written about the plain version of these, and the honey version of these before - and to save you a click, they were not that exciting.  Sure the veg crips are some of the highest quality out there, but the flavour was very underwhelming.

But here it's different, here we get the God Tier Kettle Chips flavour of sea salt & balsamic vinegar.  This combination is almost completely responsible for the revolution in crisp flavours over the recent years - with only Pringles refusing to create a variety that tows the line.  So how does it work?

Sure - they claim that nothing artificial is added (please point me to the balsamic vinegar well) and they are wrong, but the things they do add are quality and pretty good.

The crisps themselves are suitably mighty and the flavour they have added really works.  It's not so strong as the real deal though, and I'd never recommend them to hardcore vinegar addicts like my sister, but they complement the veggieness well and you can taste the realness of the crisps.  Stick these in a bowl next to the salad bar and you are on to a winner.  Another go-to product by the Kettle people then, even though I'd still rather just sit with the original white bag as a teenager in the 6 weeks school break watching old movies until all the bags are gone.