31 October 2017

Count Colin The Caterpillar Mini Rolls (M&S) By @Cinabar

Could the humble chocolate roll have a more Halloween themed makeover if it tried? These are the ultimate. Marks and Spencer have take the cross of Halloween and Colin the Caterpillar brand very seriously indeed.
These Count Colin The Caterpillar chocolate rolls have amazing attention to detail in the decoration. There is a white chocolate face showing off a Colin the Caterpillar but with blood red fangs. There are bats adorning the back of the chocolate roll, in mixed colours of purple and black, and just for good measure some streaks of red icing looking very ghoulish. I can’t praise them enough for the appearance of these mini rolls, they are absolutely perfect to look at. Flavour wise they are just chocolate though, there is a layer of chocolate coating the roll, a soft chocolate sponge and a layer of chocolate buttercream tucked inside. They are very easy to easy and have a good milk chocolate flavour. The best thing about though is the design, they are just so wonderfully themed. If you are having a party Marks and Spencer do a large version of this cake which also looks stunning, and would surely be enough to keep the Trick or Treaters at bay.
Happy Halloween!!!!

30 October 2017

Cadbury Ghooost Egg (Waitrose) By @Cinabar

As I am somebody who really enjoys Cadbury Creme Eggs, I like the new tradition that has started each year that means we get them early. Basically they bring out a Halloween edition with the same flavour, and keep that available for the winter months, until the proper Cadbury Creme Eggs launch on New Year’s Day.
Although they are usually called Cadbury Screme Eggs this year they have gone with Cadbury Ghooost Egg. This time the yolk isn’t yellow, or indeed green like in a Screme Egg, this time it is a plain white all the way through. The yolk has had a ghostly mysterious disappearance. Insert evil laugh here….
This doesn’t actually change the flavour though, in fact it tastes just like a regular Cadbury Creme Egg. Thick chocolate, sweet fondant, all the ingredients to a delicious chocolatey treat. I like the theming and will be stocking up on these till the Easter ones launch. To be honest I’ve not seen much new launching in the Halloween confectionary from the big companies like Cadbury, but I’m still very happy they are keeping this tradition up. What has been your best Halloween themed chocolate? Hope you all get some nice goodies in your Trick or Treat bags.
Happy Halloween everyone!!!

29 October 2017

KFC - Double Down (UK Halal version) @NLi10

FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out.  It's a really big thing at the moment in the marketing world, especially for fast food where they are desperate to create a habit of return visits through time limited events (why do you think there is a different Happy Meal toy each week?).

KFC have had a series of fun recipes recently that are essentially twists on the basic formula.  The Double Down is essentially the ultimate version of this - they replace the horrible nutrition free bread with lovely chicken!  And it's only for a limited time! How limited they didn't say, so I better go fast before I miss out on this special treat.

It comes in a special gold bag so all the people at the neighbouring tables know to watch you to see how you manage to eat it.  But if the bread is chicken - then what is the chicken?

Well in the UK Halal version (apparently 100 of the KFCs here are Halal only) they replace it with nothing at all!  In the original it was lovely bacon, which makes sense.  Here you appear to pay the same and just get no bacon.  Maybe you get an extra slice of the insulting yellow plastic that they call Monterey jack cheese.

Either way, holding it like a wrap and gradually eating down the length of it is a fun experience - that is over very quickly.  I'm sure it contains very similar amounts of calories, but it's the bread and chips that trick the brain into feeling full and so I could have easily eaten a second.  I didn't though and was full enough for the evening on just this and a large Pepsi that I won on the charity scratch cards on the last visit (more chaining of visits!).

My complaint really goes back to the FOMO argument at the start - why didn't they just replace the bacon with a  similar halal ingredient?  I replace bacon in veggie things with sun-dried tomatoes (carbona like this is amazing), or even just a turkey rasher here where it just has to be halal and not vegan.  Heck - anything with a salty contrasting flavour would have done enough to create a second opportunity for people to try the Double Down without having to worry.  I've never been that keen on my local KFC (maybe there is a variation in the 11 herbs and spices to make that halal, maybe it's just a drive-thru and not quite up to scratch) and this kind of encourages me to save my cravings for when I'm in Birmingham town centre?

I've no real objection to Halal only (or Vegan only) restaurants and frequent them regularly, my only issue was finding out a couple of hours after eating that the reason it didn't taste that special was because the main ingredient was missing.  Never-mind KFC, just gives you an excuse to roll out the apology Double Down with a turkey rasher in for Xmas exclusively in the Halal branches.

28 October 2017

Glug M’Glug Beer (Morrisons) By @SpectreUK

Watch out! There is a monster about in the hills and valleys of the deep dark countryside. Farmers say that Glug M'Glug devours their sheep. Though never seen, the monster is thought to blend into its surroundings almost chameleon like in complexion. Some say the monster is a myth that thirsty old men use to scare the youngsters for a quicker evening walk to the local country pub. Whatever Glug M'Glug may be and if it does really exist; whatever it may look like, this dark ale has been produced to celebrate it. Perhaps for its dark mood or the dark places it sleeps in during the day, only to follow the unwary as they stroll down country lanes in search of a evenings beverage.

Produced by the Black Sheep Brewery, this ale is a 6.2% volume amalgamation of Cascade hops and dark malts. On opening there was a herbal hoppish smell mixed with the dark malts in the background. This deep brown ale poured with an excitable head, like the fuzzy white fur of the beast on the front of the can. On first taste the herbal cascade hops bite at the tongue, followed by dark chocolate malt, a little sweetness from a touch of crystal malt and then malted barley to finish. This is a warming, lip smacking craft ale thats full of flavour to ward away the chill breeze of the night's air, and make you forget for a while whatever might be waiting for you outside as you leave the sanctuary of the public house!

Have a happy Halloween! ;-)

27 October 2017

Toffee Pecan Whips (M&S) By @Cinabar

Recently I have written about the new flavour of Whips from Nestle, as they launched both a mint and a caramel edition. On of the best places to buy flavoured Whips has always been Marks and Spencer so I thought I’d take a look and see how their new autumnal products compare. I was really pleased to pick up a box of these Toffee Pecan Whips.
These may not be “Walnut” Whips, but they have added a nice touch with a pecan nut on the top which means they look much better than being plain. As I like nuts I was pleased with the addition, Nestle’s flavoured versions look a little naked. The chocolate on the Whip is good and thick and deliciously sweet and creamy. I was impressed that inside there was actually a nice layer of gooey liquid toffee that was sweet and really made these chocolate feel special. The whip inside was light and fluffy and I loved the mix of textures.
These Marks and Spencer Toffee Pecan Whips felt very luxurious and I loved the added detail with there being both toffee and whip in the filling, and a nicely chosen pecan nut adorning it. If I had to guess it might well be that Nestle that makes these for Marks and Spencer, but either way the Marks and Spencer version of the Whips have the edge, both on variety and appearance.

26 October 2017

Barfi - Diwali sweet treats (@NLi10)

Happy Diwali! As Birmingham is a wonderfully multicultural city we celebrate everything, and usually with foods of the people who came up with the original holiday.

This weekend saw Diwali celebrations explode over the skies of our city resulting in a shower of sweet treats. Here we have one deluxe box of Barfia.

Essentially this is Indian version of fudge where it’s mostly sugar and a few flavours thrown in, but the person providing these went the extra mile and we have ones that appear to have been flavoured by their specific ingredients. Let us start from the bright blue one and work clockwise.

Blue is for Bubblegum And boy does this taste like the penny bubbly you got as a child at the bottom of a Screwball icecream. This is a massive problem for my brain which has been trained not to swallow things that taste like bubblegum. I manage to cope but I don’t think I could eat massive amounts of this. It would be perfect as an icing on a child’s cake but is in the ‘too sweet’ side of the flavours.

Next we have he first One I tried and quite probably my favourite. This is elderflower And it even has flowers on top. I’m a big fan of botanicals and this hits all the right notes, the subtle floral base flavours playing nicely with the sweet sensations. I could eat more of this quite happily.

The purple one is Vimto. This was probably the least interesting of the lot, being just sweet and a little like the drink. More just purple and too sweet. One for those with the sweet teeth.

The light brown one with the sprinkles is millionaires - and depending on who you asked this tasted of shortbread or cheese cake.  For me this was the best of the chocolate/real flavours and with the extra textures and flavours of the topping is almost a mini desert in itself. Very good.

The Erin Mess however was just another version of the sweet Barfia and didn’t really excite. It was probably the nicest out of the three though so worth a try.

Green was minty chocolate and was a little bit of a let down. Others really liked this but it just didn’t do much for me. It was sweet and minty.

Top left was birthday cake. A ludicrous idea, this was probably a close third to the millionaires. It tasted like the buttercream filling and I think there was maybe a hint of vanilla too. I’d love more of this one too - but again it was so sweet a little goes a long way.

The chocolate one was last and very much a disappointment. Chocolate fudge is a lot more of a hybrid of the two, this is just sweet Barfia with cocoa added. Not a fan.

And so there we have it. I’d love more elderflower, millionaires and birthday cake. I wouldn’t say no to the Erin mess and maybe a tiny bit of bubble gum. The rest is skip.

25 October 2017

Oozy Eyes (Hotel Chocolat) By @SpectreUK

Cinabar was a little apprehensive about buying me these Oozy Eyes from Hotel Chocolat after my visible heaving incident one Halloween, when I tried to eat something like blood filled bug sweets. They tasted great, but it was the concept that stopped me from eating anymore of them. I've even eaten the same thing since, but not in a bug format and been absolutely fine! So… Oozy Eyes! no chance of barfing here then!?

These Oozy Eyes are Molten (or runny) salted caramel in white chocolate spherical eyes. The packet mentions; "we only use the finest eyeballs, gently gouged from organically farmed, free-range zombies." I tried to weakly laugh when Cinabar mentioned that when passing me the packet, but my stomach overturned a little and I had to put the packet away for a while. I know… I'm a wuss!

On opening the packet there was the unmistakable favourite white chocolate smell of Hotel Chocolat white chocolate. Yum… I tipped the packet out on a tissue and was faced with ten white eyeballs decorated with dark and naturally coloured chocolate to look like a freshly gouged out zombie eyeballs (see photograph). Hmmm…

I tried not to think of the scene in Indianna Jones and the Temple of Doom when the leading lady is served sheep's eyeball soup. In fact just desperately trying not to concentrate on the concept and rather the taste, I popped an eyeball into my mouth. There was a hint of dark chocolate from the decoration on the front of the sealed white chocolate shell, then in one crunchy bite and following creamy chewing I was blasted with an oozing salted caramel flavour mixed with the favoured Hotel Chocolat white chocolate. Yum… So, if you like freaky concepts and aren't too squeamish, or just like white chocolate filled with runny salted caramel these creepy Oozy Eyes are definitely for you!

Information on the packet;
The 105g packet has approximately 56 calories per chocolate eyeball, with roughly 15g of fat, 20g of sugar, and 0.31g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.

24 October 2017

Cadbury Pumpkin Patch Cakes (@Morrisons) By @Cinabar

So these new Cadbury Pumpkin Patch Cakes certainly stood out in the shop and I couldn’t resist picking them up for Halloween treats. They consist of a slice of chocolate roll, covered in chocolate and served as individual portions.
I tucked in. After I bit in I realised that I couldn’t taste any orange. I went back and had another look at the packaging and I realised it said that these cakes were filled with “an orange colour creme”. I had misread this and assumed that it would be orange flavoured, but it is actually just coloured. I hadn’t noticed the colour inside to be honest.
These are nice chocolate cakes, with a sweet pumpkin decoration. The box is probably the most well themed part of the product, as the cakes simply have one pumpkin decoration on each one. Sadly you tend to serve cakes on a plate so guests wouldn’t see the fun box. I was disappointed that there wasn’t any more theming on the actual cake, they didn’t even have a different flavour, just chocolate with a plain creme. They are nice because Cadbury chocolate cake is nice, but they score low for Halloween magic once the box is open.

23 October 2017

Limited Edition Percy Pumpkin Sweets (M&S) By @Cinabar

It should be no surprise that Percy Pig is celebrating Halloween this year, and the Marks and Spencer range of sweets is following suit. They have released these Limited Edition Percy Pumpkin sweets (amongst other things). Inside the bag are three varieties of sweets.

Percy Pig
These are the traditional sweets that are famous for the brand. There is no Halloween make over on these ones which is a bit of a shame. Having said that the nice mix of grape and raspberry give these a sweet berry taste and they are very easy to eat.

Frightfully Green Pumpkin Percy
These green coloured Percy’s do have a grizzly grin and look perfect for Halloween. These green sweets left me guessing for a while, after I ate the first one I couldn’t decided if I thought the flavour was lime or apple. Eventually I looked at the bag and it pointed out that it was both a mix of lime and apple, which explained everything. It is a lovely refreshing flavour, and not too zingy at all.

Petrifying Orange Pumpkin Percy
The orange coloured Percy’s had a monstrous pumpkin smile. The flavour of these orange sweets was a lot easier to work out; orange. It was a delicate citrus flavour though, sweet but mild and more reminiscent of tangerine. I think these ones were my favourite as they had the edge on juiciness.

These sweets were really lovely too munch on, and I liked the Halloween theming. Unfortunately I managed to eat them all before the big day so didn’t get to share any with Trick or Treaters, oops! Still I have plenty of Halloween goodies to work my way through.

22 October 2017

Gummy Bears (but without all the crap) Free From Fellows @NLi10

Holland And Barrett sell all kinds of lovely things to eat, and their healthy sweets have been very successful for me.  It seemed that they had run out of the Hello Kitty ones that I wanted for Halloween which is a major issue I have one week to rectify - but they did have these.

Same principle as the HK, you take out all the rubbish that makes children crazy and you just give them something fun to chew.  How these are as sweet as they taste when they are sugar free is some baffling science indeed.

I didn't get the best pictures of these unfortunately - we were out - but they seem to be full of the lovely sweetener that my sugar free polo's use so I'm a fan.

The texture though is just too sticky! these little bears will attempt to steal your fillings with every bite so I ended up using them as a soft boiled sweet.  If you like your sweets sticky then these are one to go for, for me - the flavours and ideology was great but the texture wasn't something I enjoyed.  A lot less morish than I expected with people turning down a second helping!

I'm sure these will be a pleasure to finish at work but only a mild success for me.

21 October 2017

Alechemy Bring Out The Imp Beer (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

There's a storm brewing outside. It's called Storm Brian, which to me doesn't sound all that scary… It sounds like a homely neighbour who you have the odd glass of sherry with and talk about old times, or borrow the odd cup of sugar from. In the summertime you can't help but cadge his petrol driven lawn mower because, yet again, you've driven over the cable of your electric lawn mower. Anyway… the wind is picking up outside, there's already been quite a bit of rain, and there's more to come. Storm Brian could be quite scary after all. Maybe not as scary as the recent hurricane that remorselessly battered the Irish coast, but still enough to uproot some trees and damage some roofs.

This Alechemy Bring Out The Imp Imperial Stout sounds like a decent first Halloween beer. Not to be mistaken with "Bring out the Gimp", which is something entirely different from the excellent Quentin Tarantino film; Pulp Fiction. This stout's label suggests a dark and stormy night with tree branches curled in high winds and unfriendly eyes watching you as you hurry home in the dark. Brewed with molasses, liquorish, and oatmeal, this Alechemy Bring Out The Imp was fermented with a Belgian yeast and aged in a favourite red wine cask of mine, CĂ´tes Du Rhone. This sounds like a mouthwatering stout to me…

On opening the 330ml bottle there was a dark chocolate malt smell from the bottle, mixed with sweet molasses and a heady smell of liquorish. On pouring this almost jet black stout there was a decent creamy head. On taste there was an initial hint of red wine bringing out the sweetness from the molasses, which tickled my tastebuds first like little Imps dancing a merry innocent tune on my tongue. As the flavour washed around my mouth the dance became more intense with flavours of chocolate malt and then a more troublesome liquorish bite bringing out the prickly bitterness from the hops. The sheer alcohol content of 10.5% volume hit at the end of the flavour whereas the cheeky Imps delivered their mischievous trickery. Mmm… taken in fully by their devious subterfuge I couldn't help but take another sip, and another, warming me from the cold, damp, windy night outside. At this rate I'll be too sozzled to listen to the howling wind…

20 October 2017

Ambrosia Deluxe Custard (@Morrisons) By @Cinabar

We don’t have custard very often, so I thought we might try out what looked like the poshest canned variety and therefore we went for; Ambrosia Deluxe Custard. Its deluxe nature comes from the recipe containing West Country Cream, and clotted cream at that.
The can got poured into a pan and heated on the hob. While it was cooking I could see that the custard was thick, and we poured it over some steamed syrup puddings. Spectre had enough to completely cover his, he is a bit of a custard fan.
I found the custard to be of a very good flavour. The taste was richer than regular custard and the vanilla seemed to be more developed. Reading the ingredients I was pleased to see that it is a proper vanilla extract rather than an artificial flavour and I think this really helps. The custard was extra creamy too, and the West Country Cream shone through making this seem like a proper treat.
I was impressed that I could tell the difference between this and regular custard and I have to admit I did like the thicker texture and more indulgent taste. As I said we don’t have custard very often, so I think I will be buying this again. If you are going to do it, you may as well do it properly.

19 October 2017

Las Iguanas - Beetroot, Avocado & Cranberry Ensalada (@NLi10)

We are big fans of Las Iguanas - from the cocktails through to the puddings - but I’d not had a reason to visit the new Birmingham branch on Temple Street until we were looking for somewhere diverse enough to take a group of work people before the theatre.

On the new winter menu there are a few choice selections - including an epic salad with Beetroot, Avocado, Cranberry sprinkled with candied spiced almonds, and if you pay extra some grilled chicken!

Look at that - it’s fantastic! It has a whole head of nutrients and is certainly filling with the avocado and chicken. This is also on the fast lunch menu so I could happily eat this everyday if there was a Las Iguanas at work.

And to follow this we got given a small Basil quiche on our way into the highly amusing play we all went To see.

18 October 2017

New Marmite Biscuits (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

Marmite is one of those products people either love or hate. I should probably start this blog with a disclaimer; I don't like Marmite. Although I know that sounds a little off to be blogging about something flavoured with a product I don't like. I also haven't liked all of the Marmite flavoured products that have recently came out, such as; Marmite Cereal Bars, Marmite Truffles, and Marmite Chocolate. However, for some reason I absolutely love Marmite Crisps. I just can't have enough of them. So, I keep trying with other new Marmite products… Marmite Biscuits can't be all that bad, can they? I do like oaty biscuits, and these are oaty biscuits that are flavoured with Marmite. So…

There was a smell of Marmite when I opened the first mini packet of four Marmite jar shaped biscuits. I popped the first biscuit into my mouth and found that it had a decent oaty crunch. There was an oatiness to the flavour to start with, and as the biscuit bits washed around my mouth the saltiness from the Marmite flavouring came through, and then the full Marmite taste kicked in - and kicked pretty hard too! I'd certainly recommend trying these Marmite Biscuits with a slice of cheese and maybe some butter. The oatiness and saltiness should compliment the cheese. It probably doesn't matter what cheese you have, but I reckon the stronger the better if you don't want to be too distracted by the after Marmite kick. I don't mean that in a bad way… it's just that people either love it or hate it!

Information on the packet;
The 120g packet contains 5 x 4 packets of biscuits, with 122 calories per 24g packet, having 4.4g of fat, 1.3g of sugar, and 0.5g of salt. See photograph for ingredients.

17 October 2017

Nestle Whip - Delicious Caramel (Poundland) By @cinabar

Following on from the Delightful Mint Whip review last week, I am now trying out the other new flavour in Nestle’s Whips range (AKA the new but Walnut-less Whips). I think the thing that surprised me most with the Mint Whip was there was nothing on top, I wasn’t expecting a walnut, but some kind of decoration. This Delicious Caramel Whip too is naked, and looks like something is missing.

Now as this is a caramel flavour I did wonder whether it would contain an actual layer of caramel inside the whip, but it turns out it is purely a caramel flavoured whipped filling. I opened up the wrapper, these are individually packed inside the box, and bit into the chocolate and found the light brown colour whip inside. The flavour of the filling isn’t too strong, but the caramel aspect was very tasty. It had a rich burnt sugar taste, and reminded me of honeycomb pieces. It was a very tasty and sweet Whip, and went perfectly with the thick chocolate casing. It made a lovely treat to snack on and is perfect for caramel fans, despite there technically not being any liquid caramel inside. There are only 136 calories per Whip, so there is no need to feel too guilty either.

16 October 2017

Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & Champagne Crisps (Marks and Spencer) By @cinabar

Oh Marks and Spencer how I love your posh crisps, and the range that comes out for Christmas always makes me smile. Last year they brought us Bucks Fizz flavour but this year they have surpassed themselves; they have chosen the perfect starter to a Christmas dinner; Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Champagne and turned them into crisps. Incase you thought that didn’t quite sound posh enough for you, these crisps come with added glitter too! These are clearly intended to be poured into a bowl to be shown off at a Christmas gathering, but I’m still eating them with my sandwiches, and just having a posh lunch!
I opened up the bag and was impressed by the aroma, it really did smell like smoked salmon. I poured some out and spotted that the crisps didn’t have as much edible glitter sparkle as I would have liked, you really had to know it was there and look for it, just the odd speck. Taste wise the salmon was a little more muted and it was the cream cheese that came to the forefront. The smoked salmon taste hit as the aftertaste, and was delicate but still with the very specific smokey fish flavour. There was also a lovely acidic shot at the end from the champagne keeping them fresh flavoured and giving them a gentle bubbly buzz. They manage to carry a very complex flavour very well, and yet remain easy to eat. I have always had a weakness for fish flavoured crisps so I was in heaven with these, I will be buying more before the season is out!

15 October 2017

Birmingham Marathon Food (@NLi10)

After a long day of spectating (and a lot of walking) as part of Birmingham’s first marathon I popped into the MAC cafe for a break.

In the cafe they have a large selection of cakes and teas - I chose the TeaPigs Mao Feng green tea and apple turnover. Both were perfectly lovely, but the main event was on its way.

Fish finger sandwich! 

This was made with great quality fingers and proper flakey fish this was a real mid day treat. 

And just enough to sustain me to see my friends finish the marathon - hooray!

14 October 2017

Orchard Thieves Cider (Sainsburys) By @SpectreUK

This Orchard Thieves Cider by Bulmer's in Herefordshire is named after the foxes that apparently hunt the finest apples off the cider maker's trees. I had no idea foxes like apples, I thought they just eat meat. Apparently urban foxes have a varied diet of vegetables and bugs!

We live in the fairly leafy suburbs of a city's urban sprawl in the middle of England over fifty miles north of Hereford. Here I have a different relationship with the fox that lives in the dense undergrowth at the back of the garden. I saw how thin he or she looked some months ago when I spotted it wandering around in the dim light of an early evening. Since then I've been leaving left over scraps out from our dinners. The fox eats especially well if we've been to the chip shop and I leave it the bones from Cinabar and her mom's chicken and chips, and the odd leftover sausage. We also have an apple tree, so if they do like them, he won't go too hungry!

On opening this 4.5% volume Orchard Thieves Cider there was a light and cheerful carbonated fizz. There was a tart apple smell from the top of the can. This cider definitely has a crispness to it. Full of flavour from start to aftertaste. It packs a punch on first biting sip and smoothes to a lovely cider apple finish. This craft cider is very refreshing and would go well washing down a roast pork meal, or with my favourite pork scratching snack, or just on its own kicking back with a good book.

13 October 2017

McVities Digestives Coffee Caramel (@Morrisons) By @Cinabar

I'm keep seeing new biscuits to try, it must the autumn and comfort food coming more into season. These new ones from McVities are in their Digestives range and are chocolate coated but with a layer of coffee caramel in between.
Once open the biscuits have a light coffee cream aroma, sweet, chocolatey and with a nice rich coffee smell. The flavour is similar to this, with the coffee well defined. As someone who loves a mix of textures I have to say the gooey caramel layer mixed with the crunchy biscuit worked really well for me. I don’t actually eat a lot of biscuits, but I still really rated these on the snacking front. They provided a lovely hit of chocolate and the added coffee taste was just at the right level. The wholesome oaty flavour of the Digestive biscuit was complimented rather than overpowered, and the balance of flavours was spot on.
The added coffee taste meant these McVities Digestives Coffee Caramel are perfect with a cuppa too, and make a lovely afternoon treat.

12 October 2017

Bounce Energy Balls - coconut & lemon; almond & kale (@NLi10)

Holland & Barrett are a great store for little healthy snacks - and I always meant to pick up more of this Bounce Energy Ball range - so while they had a 2 for one deal on I picked a few up.

I’m using my Guatemalan snack people for scale.

First up we have coconut and lemon protein crush.  As long as we understand that energy and calories are essentially the same thing and that most seeds and nuts are protein then we can ignore the blurb and dig right in!

Here we see that its quite a pale flat ball, but its covered in the coconut and it goes pretty deep too.  The lemon flavour is certainly present but it’s not as ‘lemon drizzle cake’ as I expected. It’s not quite bitty enough for me and has quite a flat texture, but it’s really nice and fills the ‘7pm and still at work’ gap nicely.

From another evening we have the newer V-life packaging of the Bounce range.  I think this is more a rebranding than a separate range as it’s the same kind of thing. 

The Guatemalan snack people are worshiping the kale here - although you can’t really taste it.  This is more of a ‘bird feeder’ ball than the other having a lot of different textures and tastes and it’s a lot more fun to chew because of it.  The flavour isn’t quite as sharp as the previous one though so both have their pluses.

Both are good purchases - especially at the discount rate - and I’ll keep a supply on hand.  They are all quite samey so it’s not worth reviewing every single variety, but I’m bound to get through them all eventually!

11 October 2017

Tom Yum Noodle Pot (Marks and Spencer’s) By @SpectreUK

I first found out I love Tom Yum noodle soup from a Thai restaurant in town. They made the best Tom Yum soup I've ever eaten, and it's sadly never been surpassed. As far as I could tell it was made with coconut milk. It had small pieces of chicken, diced Spanish Onion, a chopped tomato, button mushrooms, baby sweetcorn, a few noodles and a couple of pieces of hot red chilli. I tried to emulate this with these ingredients myself. I used to make Tom Yum soup from paste I found at a Chinese market, but without the coconut milk. I used to use all the paste and a huge amount of ingredients filling a large saucepan with Tom Yum soup, which would take ages to eat and appealed to my Scooby Snack greediness. The pot noodles flavoured with Tom Yum paste since have been a welcome gap, but non-the-less, not to the restaurant's standard and no coconut milk in sight.

This Tom Yum Noodle Pot was produced for Marks and Spencer's. I opened the cardboard pot and peeled back the plastic lid to find a solid block of egg noodles and a sachet full of dark brown goop, which I presumed was the Tum Yum paste. The instructions on the label stated to add the dark brown goop (paste) and then freshly boiled water. It stated for a more 'intense flavour' to add the water to the 'lower fill line', but I couldn't see that for the solid egg noodles. I did, however, add the water to the top of the noodles instead of the line at the top of the cardboard pot. I poured the freshly boiled water over the brown goop (paste) to make sure it dissolved into the noodles instead of sitting on top of them. I replaced the plastic lid for a few minutes, a little longer than the suggested two minutes, but I had to make a sandwich…

The noodles had softened and soaked up much of the brown liquid soup. The egg noodles and added sweetcorn had mixed well with the Tom Yum paste and hot water. It certainly was tasty and had a Tom Yum ring to it, but I couldn't help wishing I'd added more water for a wetter soup, rather than liquid that had all been soaked up by the noodles. Having said that, there was more liquid at the bottom when I ate most of the noodles. I also found that much of the brown goop (paste) had accumulated there with all the diced cabbage. This made for a very 'intense' end to this Tom Yum noodle soup!

I may have to go back to that restaurant some time, either that or find some Tom Yum paste from a Chinese market, and this time some coconut milk, and have a bash again myself…

Information on the pot;
The 99g pot had 322 calories, with 8.2g of sugar, 5.6g of fat and 3.43g of salt. Please see photographs for the ingredients.

10 October 2017

Overnight Oats - Red Apple - Quaker Oats (@Morrisons) By @Cinabar

I love porridge, and have switched to having this for breakfast, call it the call of Autumn. I like to take the pots where you just add water and stir, simple for me to take to work and eat while browsing my email. I noticed that in the same section were some pots of Overnight Oats, which are very on trend at the minute so I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about.

It turns out that I don’t plan breakfast too well, and it took me a few days to remember I needed to prep these in the evening. The pack suggests that the oats should have milk added to them for between 2 and 12 hours and be refrigerated, you then eat it cold in the morning. I added the milk to the dry mix and left it to soak. The next morning I took it out, and sat down to give it a try with my morning coffee. The first thing to note is that this does need to be eaten at home as the soaking overnight can’t really be achieved at a work office, neither can the transportation of it after its been soaked.
I was a little wary of how this was going to work, but was pleased to see it had a least become moist and wasn’t solidified! The texture was much better than expected, and although it wasn’t a smooth as porridge, it was still much closer than I thought it would be. I could still pick up on a powdery edge to the texture, but it was mild. I liked the flavour, the Overnight Oats had been flavoured with Red Apple, and this gave it just enough natural sweetness to make it enjoyable. I have to admit though this was far tastier than I imagined, and it is a major trend, I’m not really a convert. Give me a hot bowl of hot porridge any day over this.

9 October 2017

Nestle Whip - Delightful Mint (PoundLand) By @Cinabar

I am a big of fan of Nestle’s Walnut Whips, they are a lovely combination of chocolate, nut and soft mallow. I love to pick them up as a treat and keep an eye out for their blue boxes, particularly at Christmas. What caught my eye this time was a green box, and a Delightful Mint edition. There is no “new” label apparent on the box, but I haven’t seen it before so I’m pretty sure it is.

The name of these chocolates is usually “Walnut Whip” but it has been shortened to just Whip as there are no nuts on top. I get that mint might not go well with walnut but I couldn’t help thinking the Whips looked a little bit naked, and could have done with some kind of decoration on top.
The chocolate is also dark chocolate, and not the usual milk I would expect from its nutty brother. Dark chocolate and mint though is a classic combination, think After Eights and those of us who are a little bit older the epic Pyramint.

The chocolate on the Whip is good and thick and still sweet despite the darker nature of the chocolate. The filling is lovely and fluffy, as you would expect from a product called Whip. The flavour is minty, and the tones of peppermint work well with the chocolate. Sweet and refreshing, and it made a really tasty treat. I really enjoyed this, I felt for my tastes the mint flavour could have been upped a notch, but ultimately this was a minty delight. Also the closest thing to a Pyramint I have seen in years, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about google it!
I have also picked up a box of the (new) Caramel version of Nestle Whips, and I’ll be writing about those very soon.

8 October 2017

Hello Kitty, Candy Kittens & Spooky Plates @CANDYKITTENS_UK (@NLi10)

I know it's not Halloween yet, but sometimes you see something that's really perfect for trick or treaters and you have to share ahead of time.

Holland & Barrett have lots of really healthy treats with which you can disappoint Trick Or Treaters on the night (mmm Carob) but here I found something that I'd actually be happy to finish if no one came round, tucked on the bottom shelf in my local H&B store.

I think this bag was about £3 (I really must take more pictures of things on store shelves!) which seemed a little steep but as my sister likes Hello Kitty and we were visiting that evening I decided it was too good to pass up.

These are also Vegan, veggie and gluten free so you aren't going to have any parents complaining that little Johnny swelled up like a balloon after you gave him mysterious sweets.

They are also all natural flavours and colours (which is what you'd hope from something that is mostly sugar). I always hope for things that say 'all supernatural flavours/colours' but I've yet to see this.

It's official Sanrio licensed stuff which explains the slightly higher price.

Spooky Plate Ghost approves!  As you can see they are nice little cat head shapes (!) with CK for Candy Kittens on them which is a nice touch, but I'd expected more HK branding inside.  Not really disappointed though because these tasted great! The texture is much more to my liking than 'normal' jelly sweets and are similar to gummy things I had in my childhood (I'm sure that my parents avoided the gelatine back then too), and the flavour is strong but not overpowering.  

These are something I'm hoping to buy again (I got the last bag!) before Halloween but as I ate these in September I've got a few weeks yet before I need to pick them up.  I'm not sure how easy it is to hand these out at the door, but a bag on the table with four of us eating them lasted all night with a few left over so it's a decent sized portion.

Well worth hunting for, especially if you have vegan/gluten free ghouls to feed or just like the Hello Kitty style.