12 December 2018

Indie BaySpelt Pretzel Bites Smokin' BBQ (@DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

Always on the lookout for alternatives to nuts and crisps, these Spelt Pretzel Bites Smokin' BBQ from Indie Bay seemed to fit the bill. There was a lot of information on the little packet. For instance these spelt and wheat pretzel bites are an all natural source of fibre and protein, being GMO (genetically modified) free, they have no trans fats (so good for your heart) and are vegan friendly. Vegans are pretty strict, I'm slowly learning, so it should mean that definitely no animals were even slightly put out of sorts during the production of these pretzel bites!

On opening these Spelt Pretzel Bites Smokin' BBQ had a pretty smoky sweet barbecue smell to them. As you can see from the photograph, they were spherical balls around one centimetre in diameter. The bag was a good shape for tipping as many pretzel balls into my mouth as possible, so these would be good for a gaming snack between death-matches or Battle Royale or races or whatever you may like to play. They do taste of a smoky salty sweet barbecue sauce to start with, until you bite in and then they taste of pretzels, with a touch of onion, garlic and paprika in the aftertaste. They can be a little dry whilst eating, so I would recommend some sort of beverage be close at hand, or alternatively one of those beer hats if you have one! I just filled my beer mug with a dark ruby ale to wash them down with. They went very well together!

Information on the packet:
The 26g bag contains 99 calories, with 1.2g of fat, 1.2g of sugar, and 0.6g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.

Advent Calendars Day 12 - with story (@NLi10)

Today I remembered to read out the story from the book that came with the new advent calendar.  There is a lot less of it than I expected!

11 December 2018

Advent Calendars Day 11, feat Baby Jesus (@NLi10)

Behold - a new calendar approaches!  I found a more religious advent calendar on sale for 50p instead of £7 and added it to the burden.

Extra Special Mince Pie Cookies (Asda) By @Cinabar

We have had a few mince pies as treats already this year, and always have a box in the cupboard for seasonal emergencies; ie the idea of something christmassy on the telly and a need for something to snack on whilst watching it. Asda have taken all the wonderful flavours of the mince pie and turned them into a cookie combination. These Extra Special Mince Pie Cookies are technically dunk-able mince pies, or as close as you would want to get before it gets messy.
There are eight cookies in the pack and each one has a generous helping of fruit embedded within it. They are also pleasingly thick, and one os a generous portion. I gave one a try and was impressed with the strong seasonal flavours, there were all my favourite Christmas spices like cinnamon and nutmeg adding a warming touch. There was fruit which added a lovely texture and even a juiciness to the biscuit. The mince pie taste was rich, but still balanced enough to allow the buttery goodness of the main biscuit shine through. I think if you were given a brief to make the best Mince Pie flavour Cookie, I’m not sure you could do much better than this. If you are into dunking your biscuits, my pairing would be a spicy cup of Chai tea, just to keep the wintery flavours coming together. Add a Christmas movie on the tv to complete the experience. ;-)

10 December 2018

Festive Feast Pizza (Papa Johns) By @Cinabar

Christmas is all about the pizza. Well I think I meant that the other way around, this pizza is all about Christmas. It might not be the most obvious pairing, but top a pizza with turkey, bacon, some stuffing and a drizzle of cranberry sauce and how can you not be on to a winner.
I am a big fan of cheese in general but I wasn’t sure how that would go with turkey, but putting this aside I ordered the pizza as a stuffed crust too! I have to admit it did work rather well, the stuffing flavour was mainly sage and added a good herby taste, similar to that of a heavily seasoned sausage. The turkey pieces were meaty and flavoursome and there was plenty of topping. The cranberry sauce was a nice different touch too, the flavour was sweet but also sharp, and this brought the whole pizza together, as it worked well with the cheese and the meaty tastes. I enjoyed dipping the stuffed crust into the pot of garlic sauce that came with it too, there aren’t any calories at Christmas right?
One thing is for sure though this pizza won’t be on the menu for long, so I need to work in another order into my schedule before it has gone and Christmas has arrived. Turkey, cheese and cranberry turns out to be a winning combination!

Advent Calendars Day 10 !! (by @NLi10)

Another Monday, another set of doors to be unlocked.  What will we find!

9 December 2018

BCPS Garlic Challenge - with added coffee! (@BCPathology) by @NLi10

A short while ago, the lab I work for rebranded and sent out three cloves of garlic to everyone that wanted them to try their hand in the Garlic Challenge.  For your typical non gardener the challenge is actually putting the garlic into the ground - and in this aspect I have succeeded!  Granted, I've just missed out on a lot of the unseasonal warmness, and light showers, but there's plenty more to come (It's Only Four Degrees etc...)!

As interesting as it would be to fill this with pictures of my garden I figured that it would make a nice three part video as the garlic grows (or more likely my cats dig up and desecrate the pots) and take us neatly into spring - so here is part one!

For those less inclined towards YouTube, here is a rough summary of what I've done.  As there were three cloves of garlic I decided to randomly allocate these (via the method of tipping them out) to the following growth mediums:

  • Starbucks waste coffee grounds (mixed with soil after Siri basically said pure coffee would be pointless)
  • Mulch from our compost heap that is basically all avocado skins and left over leafy greens.
  • Regular cat infested soil from under one of the shadier bushes

Three pots, three cloves, 6 months to grow.  Lets see what happens!

Advent Calendars Day 9! (by @NLi10)

We got our first comment - truly I am an influencer now and will soon be on Strictly Come Dancing (at least the Para-version).

Actually decent stuff today too - things you might actually buy!

8 December 2018

Brains Brewery Dark Matters Beer (Aldi) By @SpectreUK

So… er… Dark Matter then. I looked it up on Google (of course) and it came up with a form of hypothetical subatomic particles that is thought to account for roughly 85% of the universe… I stopped reading about there scratching my head. "But it's right in front of me!?" I thought… It's good that Brains Brewery, in Cardiff, found it before the scientists did, because I bet it would be stuck in a test tube in some laboratory deep underground about now, rather than just about to be poured into my waiting beer glass.

This 4.4% volume coffee porter certainly has something about the night's sky about it, though it's literally pitch black in colour with not one shiny star in it. It has a deep roasted dark chocolate malt smell to it. There is an initial dark chocolate malt taste, followed by sweetness from the caramel malt, and a bitter touch of liquorice and raisins from the additional herbal hops. It then has a creamy smooth chocolate finish with the barest hint of roasted coffee in the aftertaste, mixed in well with the chocolate malt. I'm glad Cinabar finally found me a bottle of this Dark Matter in our local Aldi, as when she was on holiday last year in Cardiff she couldn't find one bottle of Brains beers in the shops! A bit like Dark Matter for the scientists then, I suppose?

Advent Calendars Day 8! (by @NLi10)

I can understand why people review the non-food ones now.  With no pictures it feels like i'm stuck in a loop.  At least Haribo and Tea are exciting still!

7 December 2018

Breakfast To Go Shreddies/Shredded Wheat (@DegustaboxUK) By @Cinabar

I received this pack of Breakfast To Go Shredded Wheat in one of the wonderful boxes from Degusta. A subscription service where they send you a monthly box of interesting products. I decided to have this for my breakfast at my desk, while catching up on work emails. The pack comes with a pot with Shredded Wheat, a carton of milk and a plastic spoon, everything you need for breakfast. The first thing I did was to try and pour the milk, and this was a struggle. The carton said tear here, but the carton wouldn’t tear by hand. Admittedly I’m not the strongest person in the world, but I’d put myself down as average and I could rip the carton. I’m in an office but I couldn’t find any scissors about (we are paperless, so don’t really have the need for that much stationery). I found a butter knife in the kitchen which I used to create a bit of weakness by sawing at the top and eventually I got it open, with some pulling, enough to get the milk out. It probably is reasonable to assume if you are in an office there are scissors about normally, but these on the go products are designed to be picked up and eaten anywhere, on a train for example, where I assume people will struggle too.

My next issue was my pack was labelled Shredded Wheat and the contents were clearly Shreddies. Not an issue for me as I’d be happy with either, but it is still nice to know what you are going to get.
The milk is long life and when poured over the cereal you can taste the difference from fresh in the flavour. I do from time to time use long life milk in tea or coffee and I can’t tell the difference, but that is for a small splash in a strong drink, on these cereals it stood out a lot more. The Shreddies were nice, but they regular Shreddies. I’m not sure this is something I’d buy to be honest, it is a good idea, but the milk carton was driving me mad!

Advent Calendars - Day 7!

I've made it to the end of the first week - should I keep going?!

6 December 2018

Nurses Cottage - Sparkling Blackcurrant & Elderflower Presse (@NLi10)

The farm-shop service stations are great as they stock lots of things I've not seen before. 

I spotted a little bottle of luxury soft drink, dressed up like a tiny wine and thought I'd give it a go.

It's fairly unassuming, but you don't see many blackcurrant flavoured adult drinks these days, and with an elderflower mix in this had to be the flavour of choice.

Sounds like a little local family started business, and although it's mostly water the flavour is rich and mighty!  This is possibly as close to red wine as I'll ever get while still enjoying the drink - this was two nights servings too so I got decent value out of the bottle.  It's certainly not a 'soft' drink and is perfect for socialising with other adults.  This is something that needs to appear in pubs and ideally be served in a wine glass for maximum effect.


Advent Calendars - Day 6 (@NLi10)

Today's update in the advent calendar opening bonanza!

5 December 2018

Supermalt Ginger Beer (@DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

It's amazing how much time I have on my hands whilst I'm laid up after an operation on my knee… I recently found out a fascinating fact that ginger beer and ginger ale are two separate things. I always thought the 'ale' and 'beer' where ginger is concerned were interchangeable. I've talked to a few people since and they thought the same thing. Apparently ginger ale is carbonated water flavoured with ginger, whereas ginger beer is fermented and that's why it generally has a much more fiery taste than its counterpart. So you can imagine my surprise when this Ginger Beer, presented by Supermalt in Denmark, stated on the back of the label that this is "330ml carbonated soft drink with taste of ginger" Is the entirety of Google wrong or is the description on the back of the bottle wrong? Hmm… only one way to find out…

On opening the bottle the ginger smell from the off-transparent slightly yellowish beverage wasn't hugely nose tingling like I'd expect from an actual ginger beer. There was plenty of fizz on pouring though. There followed the mild sweet taste of ginger 'ale', rather than the fermented 'beer' variety. It's a pity in a way that I did the experiment and found out the difference between the two, but we live and learn, and it should be a good thing to expand our knowledge on all things. Perhaps Supermalt need to do some searching on Google too, before they produce anything else that's not what it seems? One thing I did notice from this drink was that the ginger was a pretty much overshadowed by the sheer amount of sugar. 16g of sugar per 100ml of liquid is quite a lot, especially as it was mostly all I could taste, asides a heavy touch of caramel syrup to add even more sweetness… wouldn't want any of that fiery ginger flavour to worry anyone now, would we?

Advent Calendars 2018 - Day 5 (@NLi10)

Two new calendars to explore - can anyone eat this much jelly?

4 December 2018

Winter Spice Hot Chocolate (Caffe Nero) By @Cinabar

I am still working my way through the interesting seasonal drinks at high street cafes. Today I opted not for a Christmas coffee but a Christmas hot chocolate, and I found Ione that sounded appealing in Caffe Nero. Their seasonal drink is called Winter Spice Hot Chocolate, and promises a taste of all my favourite warming flavours. I love cinnamon and the flavours of Christmas. The drink also comes topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon which was where I started, it was also the best part of the drink!
The hot chocolate itself is sweet, and yes I know it is a hot chocolate with an additional syrup, but it was overly sweet. I have a sweet tooth too. The chocolate was present, but the main flavour was that of simply sugar. I could pick up on the Winter Spice syrup, there was some cinnamon and some cloves, and the flavour was warming, but it was under the umbrella of an overall sweetness. I like syrups in coffee, but I’m not sure hot chocolate needs anything additional. It might just be that the person who made this was heavy on the syrup and it changed the balance of the flavours, but I’m not sure I’d want to try another. I think I will try a Caffe Nero Christmas latte next, I think coffee is better at holding a sweet syrup.

Advent Calendars - Day 4 (@NLi10)

It's all change today as new calendars replace the most disappointing one!

Advent Calendar Day 3 (@NLi10)

The festivity continues!

3 December 2018

Smash Salty Corn Coated In Chocolate (Norwegian Import) By @Cinabar

I was on the train back from a meeting in London with some colleagues, and the subject of this blog came up. It is bizarre really, it isn’t something I usually talk about at work, two separate worlds if you like, despite us writing it (daily) for more than 10 years. Anyway the point is I would have put us down as snack experts, so when I was asked; “but why haven’t you written about Smash”, my first thought was the instant potato. I really couldn’t believe there is a chocolate based snack that hasn’t crossed my path… but I was to be enlightened on this train journey. It came highly recommended. After a bit of a search it turns out you can import Smash via Amazon, or it is available on Ocado.
Smash is a Norwegian product that mixes sweet and savoury. It consists of a hollow cone of salted corn snack dipped in chocolate. I love sweet and salty popcorn, and this looks like it will be similar in concept for the taste. The Smash pieces are very light and crispy. The corn taste is unmissable, with this and the salt and thick sweet milk chocolate my tastebuds were over moon with the combination. The texture is very light and crispy and each one of these Smash nuggets sort of disappears and leaves you wanting another. It is very easy to munch through an entire bag. The salt and sugar combination worked, teasing the taste buds with what might come next. I am hooked, and have already ordered another bag of Smash. The only thing that doesn’t make sense is how and why the Norwegians are keeping this Smash chocolate to themselves? This deserves to be far more readily available and known about in the UK.

2 December 2018

Continued Adventures in Advent (by @NLi10)

So as many of you will have seen, our advent calendar videos have gone up and are slowly getting better as I figure out how to actually use all those media apps on my phone.

At the moment the most disappointing calendar is the £4 Holland & Barrett Vegan Chocolate one, seen here on the right.  

I think I'd be OK with the terrible aftertaste if there were pictures or sayings inside the doors, and the picture on the chocolate was ever sharp enough to see.  It's become the epitome of a ration box, it's just a portion of not quite chocolate every day, which is exactly what I was hoping to avoid.  I'm giving it one more day to redeem itself and may open it in the background to check it doesn't get better.

Dark choc which was more naturally dairy free would have avoided this.

I'm actually enjoying the childishness of the £1 elf calendar, and the McVitties biscuit bars are a nice benchmark for the other calendars to aim for.  The cats calendar is exciting to them and not to me.  The Pukka teabags are leading the way with their style and variety.

This is a majestic festive decoration, and even if you don't care about following the days or Christmas at all then it's a pretty fun thing to have available.  It's going to take a lot of bad teas for this not to just walk away with the whole thing - even at 42p a cup!

At the good farm-shop services I found some much more competitive advent calendars, ones where the contents would be a joy every day and thus probably very boring to film.  Above we have the Montezuma calendar, which had a variety of chocolates, simple designs on the doors and generally looks like the kind of thing I'd be happy to open.  I forgot to note the price but I'm seeing it online for £8.99 which is pretty fair.

I'm not really familiar with Holdsworth chocolates, but at £20 this looked like a luxury assortment of hand-made truffle style things that I'd love to have included.  You can't have all the advent calendars though - right?

Well - lets see what the early Dec sales bring.  Maybe the Ocado man can be persuaded to drop something extra off this week too!

1 December 2018

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider (DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

This could be one of those moments in life when I try something I didn't like many years before, and suddenly find out that my tastebuds have changed and I like it now. The last time was with Earl Grey Tea, which was quite a long while ago. Degusta kindly sent me this Jack Daniel's Tennessee Cider to try. Little do they know that when I used to drink "chasers" when I was a young lad (late teens, I guess) to try to get drunk as quickly as possible… I know… probably stupid, but you're only young once… It didn't take many chasers though and usually involved me being ill before the night was through, so I stopped doing it pretty early on. Besides, it was really expensive! Anyway, I tried all manners of spirits after each beer and liked Jack Daniel's the very least. I always thought it smelt like the liquid my dad used to clean paint brushes in…

Anyway, this Jack Daniel's Tennessee Cider is described as a "crisp apple cider blended with Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whisky." A description that made me hope that "crisp" meant really strong! I was hoping this cider would scream "apples!" at me on opening the bottle and on first taste. The aroma after the fizz didn't disappointment me. There was definitely a crisp cider apple smell, and only the merest hint of Jack Daniel's. In fact if it didn't have Jack Daniel's on the front of the bottle I probably wouldn't have noticed. "What's the point?" I may hear you say… "I don't know, someone sent it to me, I didn't buy it, I just figured I'd blog about it though…"

On taste the Jack Daniel's was much more prominent. There's Jack Daniel's on first taste and biting away at the back of the cider apples all the way through the flavour. There is also that Jack Daniel's fairly heavy whisky flavour right into the aftertaste. However, the cider apples bite the Jack Daniel's right back all the way through each mouthful, so there's a battle of flavours here no-one seems to win, asides the drinker maybe. On a cold, damp and dreary day like this, it's certainly warming and doesn't taste that bad at all. I don't think I'll switch back to spirits anytime soon, but I wouldn't mind another one of these on a dark stormy night to blast the chills away!

Advent Day One (by @NLi10) #NaughtyElf #Pukka

It's December the first, so that means it's advent calendars day!

30 November 2018

Waitrose Fruit Coffee Warmer (Waitrose Cafe) By @Cinabar

I was picking up a few groceries in Waitrose and spotted some interesting sounding drinks on their cafe menu. I decided to try out the weirdest sounding one; Waitrose Fruit Coffee Warmer. I love a flavoured latte as much as the next person but there is something odd about the description of coffee and apple and plum cordial mixed together. The drink comes black because adding milk to this mix would be even more bizarre. I gave it an order and the man behind the counter chopped an orange and put a slice in a mug, added a shot of cordial to the cup, and a star anise. If only had stopped at this point and simply added hot water, but no he added what was essentially a black coffee americano to the mug and passed it over to me.
I starred at it for a while at the table before daring to sip. I managed to convince myself that it must be okay, otherwise it wouldn’t have made it on the menu of a large supermarket. I gave it a sip, I have no idea how this passed any customer testing, it was weird and I found it unpleasant. The acidic orange and plum fruits and coffee just do not mix. I finished the mug to give it the full test and because apparently I hate myself, the flavour did not grow on me. They mixed flavours I love and combined them into something I found myself detesting. There are conclusion here, firstly there is no place for sliced orange in coffee. Secondly hot fruit cordial on its own works, lets not mix it with coffee either. Finally if you are in Waitrose cafe choose the Orange Hot Chocolate if you want something with citrus in your drink!

29 November 2018

Starbucks, but in the CineWorld, Christmas snacks (@NLi10)

We often go to the cinema, we often eat snacks. Sometimes we do both together. 

These are festive pastries.

They seem a little tenuous - it’s a pointy Danish really. I mean they look nice though, chocolate and raspberry seems a rich combo, chocolate and nut sounds nice too. Not really Christmas specific though.

Now these seem more festive. They are clearly Christmas Trees and not just convenient triangles.

I decided on the left one - as it was sparkliest and someone bought the right one first. And it was pretty nice - even though it was essentially just a brownie with some other bits thrown in.

I also had my traditional green tea latte with almond milk and we enjoyed Fantastic Beasts too.

28 November 2018

Christmas Mince Pie Fudge (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

I don't think I've ever met anyone who doesn't like mince pies. It's true that they are seasonal and only come out in the Autumn and Winter months, but I'm sure they'd sell throughout the year. I usually wash them down with a cup of Chai tea, but have recently found that spiced meed wine goes especially well with them. There's such a wide variety of mince pies that come out during these months that it's difficult to pick which are the tastiest, but I do have an affinity for iced mince pies, however, the deeper the mince pie the better in my view, as I like the filling so much.

These mince pie fudge pieces produced for Waitrose are made in small batches in copper pans using their recipe for brandy mincemeat. We still say "mincemeat" these days, but the savoury mincemeat, traditionally made with either beef or lamb, and suet, has fallen out of favour for the sweeter Vegetarian variety of raisins, currants and brandy. I've never tasted a traditional mince pie, but I reckon it would go well with gravy and some root vegetables, with a beer to wash it down, and sweet mince pies (and spiced meed wine) for afters.

Inside the box there was a bag full of fudge blocks. On opening the bag there was a lovely sweet and fruity smell from the blocks of fudge. As you can see from the photograph, they were uneven pieces with mincemeat mixed in with the fudge mixture. On taste there was the sweet taste of treacle mixed in with the fruity flavours of raisins, currants, sultanas and citrus traveling into the aftertaste with a hint of condensed milk and a quick kick of brandy to finish off with. Mmm… these are good. I think I'll go and make a nice mug of Chai tea to wash them down with, as I've already drank all the spiced meed wine!

Information on the box;
The 130g box has 443 calories per 100g, with 14.3g of fat, 73.9g of sugar and 0.26g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.

27 November 2018

Walkers Pigs in Blanket Crisps (Asda) By @Cinabar

Walkers Christmas crisps selection bags this year contains three flavours firstly there is the expected Turkey and Stuffing, which I will undoubtedly be writing about shortly. This is the most obvious seasonal flavour. Secondly there is Brussels Sprouts flavour (oh yes and they are tinged green) Spectre wrote about these, and did not get on with them. I liked them if that counts, but they do taste of sprouts! Finally we have these new Walkers Pigs in Blanket flavour crisps, which everyone knows is the best part of Christmas dinner.
I opened up the seasonal bag and the crisps smelt very much of bacon, in fact just like Walkers regular smokey bacon crisps. I gave them a try and the predominant flavour was indeed bacon, with a good hit of smoke, but there was also a nice flavour of herbs and spices, I think I picked up on sage, which represents the seasoned sausage element of pigs in blankets. These crisps defiantly focus on the bacon flavour, but the addition of the herbs is a nice touch, and it does work well. I thoroughly enjoyed these crisps, and look forward to eating more of them. They are certainly more easy going the the Walkers Brussel Sprouts edition, but full marks to Walkers for an excellent selection bag this year.

26 November 2018

Christmas Iberico Ham and Fig Crisps (Waitrose) By @Cinabar

Iberico ham is apparently a cured ham from Spain, I had to google that, but it looks similar to parma ham. I had no idea exactly what it was when I bought these Christmas Iberico Ham and Fig Crisps from Waitrose, and frankly it may be too much to hope that they can narrow done the ham flavour in a packet of crisps to that extent anyway. They do sound posh though, but what else would expect from Waitrose.
We had these in a sharing bowl one lunch time, to accompany some sandwiches and to catch up on the Little Drummer Girl on BBC1 (I still don’t get the drama, but that isn’t the crisps fault).
The crisps are fairly thickly cut and have a decent amount of seasoning on them. The smell is lightly meaty, and as a fan of meat flavoured crisps they were very appealing. I gave one a try and found them to have a surprisingly mild flavour. There is a delicate pork taste from the ham, and sweetness from the fig and these two tastes go very well together. Essentially they are a little bit meaty with a nice contrast flavour like a fig pickle.They are easier to eat as none of the tastes are too strong, and will be good for sharing with friends this Christmas. For me the Christmas Iberico Ham and Fig crisps had more promise of stronger and more complex and interesting flavours. They are easy to like, just not so easy to rave about.

25 November 2018

Divine Christmas Chocolate - Cranberry/Gingerbread (@Oxfam) by @NLi10

Divine are a great little brand for indulgent chocolate bars - I seem to always have a few floating around at any given time.  They unleashed a couple of Christmas varieties on the market in early November and I've been nibbling away on them.

First up is Smooth Milk With Gingerbread Crisp.  Not sure why the smooth is important - maybe there are harder grain chocolates that people didn't like as much.

Doesn't look too special, but there is a hint of a smell.  The flavour is 100% Christmas though, it's gingerbread men and chocolates off the tree.  The chocolate is very melty leaving behind the crumbs of the gingerbread (cinnamon crisp on the ingredients) and the spicy hints of aftertaste.  I couldn't eat this all year round, but this is certainly one for the nostalgia fans.

Similarly this one starts off with a lovely medium dark hit (think Bournville) and has a couple of mysterious flavours.  Almost behaving like a dark chocolate brownie with hints of the fruit and the nuts left at the end.  Its an interesting bar, but doesn't have that instant Christmas magic of the first one.  This I could eat at any point in the year, but I just don't think it's special enough for repeat purchases with so many other options out there.  That said, I know people that will love this (my dad for one) so maybe you will too.

A little pricier than I'd have liked at £2.19, but certainly giftable quality chocolate in a nicely pocket sized bar.

24 November 2018

Borough Market Earl Grey Saison (#LoveBorough @Boroughmarket) By @SpectreUK

I'm always very grateful when a company sends me a beer to review. It doesn't happen very often at all (hint, hint…), so it would be difficult to get drunk on hope alone! However, this limited seasonal Earl Grey Saison was sent to me by the Borough Market. So a big shout out to all the people there. Thank you! You sent me a lot to read though. Three and a half pages of information about one beer. I could copy a lot of it here, but I don't think you want to read it again. I could photograph it, so anybody else reading this could also read it, but I'm not sure want me to do that either. So I'm just going to talk about the beer…

I've had a few Saison's in the past and never had a bad one. Brewed in the colder months of the year, Saison's are traditional low alcohol fruity spicy pale ales generally brewed in Belgium. This 5.2% volume Earl Grey Saison blasts this beer into the twenty-first century, and why not? Cold brewed in collaboration between by The Beak Brewery and Partizan Brewery, with loose leaf Earl Grey Tea from Organic Life (they even sent me packet in the post), and English Fuggles Hops grown within the Market Hall all added during its production, this Earl Grey Saison promises to be a creation from a cooperative of hearts and minds.

On opening the beer there was a keen smell of Bergamot from the Earl Grey Tea, and a spicy citrus aroma from the Fuggles Hops. This was a murky fizzy pale golden ale, with a particularly excitable head. There was a particularly excitable blogger pouring it at the time also! I do love Earl Grey Tea, so the delightful smell of this beer made me wait a little to drink it. I just couldn't help having a few more whiffs. There's something quintessentially Belgium about a Saison, it's probably the grain and yeast, but the flavour just dances around my tastebuds. Once I was done with sniffing this Earl Grey Saison, I just couldn't stop tasting it. Why do people just send me the one bottle? That's my greedy side coming out there… The Bergamot tickled my tastebuds first, followed by the citrus spicy bitterness from the hops, and then the grain and yeastiness so finish off this Saison into the aftertaste. Pure bliss, especially with a tuna sandwich for lunch!

23 November 2018

Godiva Chocolate Domes (Sainsburys) By @cinabar

I know these Godiva Chocolate Domes are on sale with the intention that they are to be given as Christmas gifts. I knew it when I picked up the box and popped it in my trolley and thought; I’ll have some of those myself tonight. ;-)

I love the combination of chocolate and nuts and these Godiva Chocolate Domes looked too good to pass up on. The box is very posh looking and the cardboard on the lid unfolds neatly (and refolds closed). The chocolate wrappers also look stunning, they ate bright shiny metallic blue and smartly packaged. Underneath each one is a pull tab to open them, which is handy and if you tug it the wrapper splits and the chocolates unwrap. I know I have gone on about the packaging longer than usual but it is very smart and is quite the statement.

Inside the packaging the Godiva Chocolate Domes are made with milk chocolate and covered in nuts. Inside there is wafer too offering crispy layers and a whole nut inside for a good crunch. The chocolate is sweet and creamy, and very indulgent. It feels thick and sumptuous. The ganache inside melts in the mouth and the rich cocoa level is spot on. These consist of perfect chocolate combined with nuts and a fabulous mix of crispy and crunchy textures, and eating them I was in chocolate nut heaven.
These chocolates are an absolute delight, right from the packaging through to the contents they are a nut lovers dream. I hope I get some more of Christmas.

22 November 2018

Green Tea Milkshakes? SINGWIN Matcha Milk Tea sachets (by @NLi10)

One of my bosses feels that she should drink more green tea for health benefits, but prefers milky tea.  This gave me the perfect excuse to buy a sack of 18 Matcha Milk tea sachets!

It's 3 in 1 - Matcha, Milk & I assume a vast amount of sugar based on the taste.

OK -  so based on the ingredients the order is Sugar, Fake Milk, then Matcha (5%) which is fair enough. We've all made this at home with too much Matcha and regretted it.

The little sachets are pleasing enough, and English enough that I've been giving them away to people to try.

And it produces a lovely cup of bright green tea! I've been adding my own real milk too for texture, but even without that it's basically fine.  It's a little too sweet for my tastes, but as a 'tea milkshake'  it's essentially what it's supposed to be.  I was unconvinced by the price (18 for £3.60 is only 20p a go I suppose) but it's actually really good. If you have a source of decently hot water then you can make a nice drink.  

A decent change to hot chocolate and a nice one to share with friends.  I think I may even go back and try the 40p a sachet version to see if it suites my more experienced tastebuds or is just the same for more money.

21 November 2018

Walkers Brussels Sprout Crisps (Asda) By @SpectreUK

It's official; I've done something to upset Cinabar! I must have as I don't even like Brussels Sprouts. I have them once a year, as some people seem to think they go well with Turkey, of which I also don't like that much either. These new Brussels Sprout crisps have recently been brought out by Walkers to punish me for some indiscretion or other. Brussels Sprouts also give me terrible wind, but most people who know me would probably say "what food doesn't?"

On opening the packet the greenish crisps (yes, they have a greenish tint a little bit like someone put a Gremlin in a blender nearby), smell like Brussels Sprouts and I guess look a little like Brussels Sprouts from really (really…) far away. I decided to use Cinabar's Mom as a Guinea Pig. She really didn't like the smell of them, even though she likes Brussels Sprouts and equally likes to torture me with them on Christmas Day. Cinabar was next to try them and said they were okay, saying that she liked their savoury nature, but she is way (way…) looking forward to Christmas too much. I'm a bit more of a Scrooge personally.

I had to starve myself for much of the day and be really (really…) hungry to try them. On taste the overpowering smell of Brussels Sprouts really does make these crisps taste like Brussels Sprouts. There's no getting away from the flavour, so I'd recommend you know you like Brussels Sprouts before you buy these crisps. If they're the last crisps in your house I'd recommend I spicy salsa dip to try to mask the flavour. They don't taste all that bad, but they do taste of Brussels Sprouts. It does say it on the packet!

As well as these Brussels Sprout Crisps there are five limited edition Christmas crisps flavours to choose from; Turkey & Stuffing, Pigs in Blankets (the one I'm looking forward to trying most, as they are my favourite things on the Christmas meal), Cheese & Cranberry, and also Glazed Ham (and this is my favourite thing on Boxing Day!).

Information on the packet;
The 25g bag has 126 calories, with 6.7g of fat, 0.6g of sugar and 0.3g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.