26 May 2018

Little Willie Beer (Bovington @TankMuseum @PiddleBrewery ) By @SpectreUK

We've been holidaying in Wiltshire this week. We've visited Stonehenge and its burial Barrows, Longleat Safari Park and one of my favourite places; The Tank Museum in Bovington. I've been there a few times now. It's in the middle of no-where, so spies wouldn't find it in the First World War, I suppose. The last few times we've visited it took so long to get there from various places whilst holidaying we hardly managed a quick walk around. I did get more of a walk around this time and even saw some tanks that hadn't been there the last few visits. I shan't bore you too much with the details, but this Little Willie Golden IPA is commemorate the first ever tank in 1915. It didn't work very well, but the designers persevered and came up with Mother and her various Male and Female Marks that entered battle in the First World War in 1916. I'd heartily recommend a visit, especially if you're interested in history and its metal monsters.

On opening this Little Willie IPA from the Piddle Brewery (I'm not kidding…) there was the familiar pale malt smell. There was a complementary herbal hop bitterness than ran through this 4.3% volume ale from first taste right through to the aftertaste. It was as if I was driving a tracked vehicle. One track of pale malt, the other of herbal hops. I've driven a tank before, not one of these new fangled joystick jobs, a more traditional left stick for the left track and right stick for the right track. You have to push both to go forwards, and whichever you want to turn the tank with. This IPA was a quick turn of herbal hop followed by a good straight Roman Road and another quick turn into the aftertaste. very nice and refreshing, just like squeezing out of a tank driver's seat and into the fresh air at the end of the road. Best drive I ever had!

25 May 2018

Green & Black’s Velvet Fruit Raspberry Chocolate (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

These new chocolates from Green and Black’s come in a sharing bag and are flavoured with raspberry. As some who likes fruit creams I thought that these might just hit the mark. The bag is re-sealable and I poured a few out as a portion.
The chocolates are very dark in colour, showing the strength of the cocoa, but I couldn’t seem to find the percentage of this on the bag. The chocolates are glossy, and I gave one a try. I think these might have been the first Green and Black’s chocolate I wasn’t fussed by. The filling is a hard raspberry jelly, it is a little chewy and not particularly a texture I enjoyed. The flavour was very confused the chocolate was very strong and the filling was very zingy, and the two together to me seemed to be in fight with each one trying to take the lead and nobody was winning.
I actually ate one slowly and found that much better, I sucked the chocolate off and ate what turned out to be a cube of jelly after. From this I could pick up on the rich smooth chocolate, and I had a better sense of how zingy the jelly was, and what a nice raspberry flavour it had. Together though, it was just a bit much for my tastebuds. I also picked up a bag of the orange version of these chocolates, I’m hoping they are a bit more mellow.

24 May 2018

Take It (@LidlUK) by @NLli10

Sondey make a lot of biscuits for Lidl that are very similar to existing biscuits, but a little more affordable.  Here we have the milk and regular versions of Take It, and while I’m not sure what they are aping (suggestions welcome in the comments) there must be something like a Take A Break that is well loved enough to copy. So let’s take it and try it!

 The biscuit itself looks fairly good, not quite Bahlsen quality, but a decent Euro biscuit. The patterns and holes help.

The filling looks solid in the solid versions, and has a milky core in the milk versions.

Almost like a sandwich, but not quite. Overall I was surprised by the quality for the price and only slightly regret sharing the multipacks with the office.  As Lidl is on the way to work though it’s fairly easy to pick up more!

23 May 2018

Cocio One Chocolate Milk (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

In the spirit of trying things that have less fat and sugar content, this Cocio One Chocolate Milk has 1% fat and 1% added sugar. Produced by Cocio Chokolademaelk, in Denmark, this Cocio One is said to have all the flavour of the Classic drink, but a little healthier for those that still like the chocolate hit, but not the hit to their waist. Of course being a seasoned blogger I had to buy both bottles, first downing the Classic to know just what that chocolate milk drink tastes like before braving this new One.

On popping open the top of the Cocio One I couldn't tell much difference from the chocolate milk smell compared to the Classic chocolate milk drink. On taste this drink does taste slightly more chocolatey than the Classic somehow. Only slightly, but when you've just immediately drank the Classic compared to this One, there is the slightest of difference. It actually tastes slightly nicer. Both taste great of course and perfect for a cool refreshing liquid pudding. Both are made with UTZ certified cocoa and therefore support sustainable cocoa farming. I'd go with either or, but prefer this One slightly more for the tiny amount more of a chocolate hit. Only tiny though. Great stuff!

Information on the bottle;
The 270ml (281g) bottle contains 48calories per 100g, with 1g of fat, 5.7g of sugar, and 0.11g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.

22 May 2018

Ruby Cocoa Hot Chocolate (Fortnum and Mason) By @cinabar

We are adding to our selection of reviews on this new Ruby Cocoa chocolate that it quickly becoming the trend for 2018. It is billed as being a whole new type of chocolate, and is being used by expensive chocolatiers like Fortnum and Mason to more readily available brands like Kit Kat.
As a bit of a change I thought I would try my first ever Ruby Cocoa Hot Chocolate. I found this while googling Ruby Cocoa and bought myself a bag from Fortnum and Mason, it was quite pricey, but I couldn't resist.
When it arrived I found the bag looking very pretty and tied with ribbon. The hot chocolate granules inside this bag are very pink, but didn't have much aroma. I heated up some milk and added the recommended three heaped teaspoons and stirred them in. They dissolved very quickly and easily and the milky drink was very pale in colour. The instructions suggest that the ruby hot chocolate should go a pale shade of lilac, mine hadn’t so I added another heaped teaspoon and the colour improved.

I gave the drink a sip and the flavour was still very mild, it is a milky slightly sweet drink with a hint of berry like tangy hint. It was a pleasant drink but didn't have the wow factor I was hoping for. I like the flavour of the Ruby Cocoa but Im not sure this hot chocolate showed it off to me to its full extent. Heating the chocolate seemed to mellow it out. I’ll happy drink up the rest of the bag, but It isn't something I would rush to buy again. I also bough Ruby Cocoa Salted Caramels on the same Fortnum and Mason order, but Spectre managed to make those disappear....

21 May 2018

Hostess Chocolate Peanut Butter Flavour Twinkies (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

Twinkies are difficult to find in the UK, and always remind me of my love for American films and TV. They do occasional turn up in import shops, but I found these “new” Hostess Chocolate Peanut Butter Flavour Twinkies in a regular supermarket, which seemed a bit strange. I quickly put the box in my trolley, and tried to remind myself I had only popped in for milk and bread. Oh well.
Although these say “new” on them I have to admit I’m not sure how new they are. In terms of newness to the British market they totally hit the mark, but I’m guessing these could have been out in the States for some time before making it to the shelves here.

I’m going to try and ignore the fact that I failed the intelligence test on how to open the box. I ripped where it said to rip and then the box just didn’t open properly. I did mange to get an untidy way in though. Inside the box were 10 individually packed dark brown Twinkies. I broke one in half and noticed there didn’t seem to be as much peanut butter filling as the picture suggests, but once I had bitten in properly I realise it was just unevenly distributed and that there were some large blobs.

I liked the chocolate sponge flavour, it was sweet and pleasant, and the texture was light and moist. The peanut butter filling, even where it where it was generously heaped within was very mild in flavour. It added a gentle nuttiness, and it worked well with the rest of the cake. There are light and easy to eat, and deliver a nice chocolate hit, with a hint of peanut too. These made a lovely sweet treat, especially to nibble on while catching up on favourite American TV like The Big Bang Theory.

20 May 2018

Vegan things for outdoor eating. Heck, Fry and Vivera (@nli10)

It’s easy for vegans and veggies to get neglected at this time of year. There are so many BBQ and food parties goi g on with buffets but it’s always bread cheese salad and quiche.

Here we have a few more interesting alternatives from Fry’s, Heck and 

I made a lovely meal out of this polony style sausage with the Heck balls but forgot to take a picture. Gah!

We have had this sausage in the freezer for ages, but it really needs to live in the fridge and to be eaten alongside various other things. Very sustaining, and definitely a solid thing, but not the most exciting. Works well with chutneys and such.

The Heck balls are amazing, little squidgy masses of fun and have so many textures and flavours they really are their own thing. I blame their exciting smell for the fact that I didn’t get a good shot. Oh well - guess I’ll have to do a full review later on.

These Vivera things were another Ocadomspecial. Two fairly plain looking pumpkin and sweet potato burgers. I suppose they will do...

The ingredients don’t seem that exciting, but they held together really well in the pan (I broke one in the box) and smelt amazing. 

And here we have a proper meal. The burgers had a really hard texture and a lovely flavour and could probably be heated on a BBQ or similar. Unlike meats though I think these would be perfectly edible once cooled too. It’s really like a potato cake mixed with a burger. Another instant hit. 

19 May 2018

Shepherd Neame & Co India Pale Ale (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

It's been a hot day today. I've been told the latest Royal Wedding went very well, so best wishes to the happy couple. Personally I was at the gym, which is my usual Saturday morning jaunt. They were having a Royal Wedding party there too, but I stuck to my guns and did my usual weights routine with added cycling, cross trainer, boxing, followed by a long swim and a good hour or two in the spa area. I do enjoy my huge lunch and a beer to blog about on the evening. And it's a hot evening that's begging for a refreshing pint of India Pale Ale.

This 6.1% volume India Pale Ale was brewed by Shepherd Neame & Co at the Faversham Brewery. They've been brewing beer since 1698, so they must know what they're doing by now. As with many people who watched and visited the Royal Wedding from far away lands, this IPA was generously hopped with Kentish Fuggles hops in the past to survive long journeys to distant countries. On opening this IPA there was a strong fruity hoppy aroma with a touch of spice and malt in the background. Deep golden in colour this beer has a warming quality to its taste. Less of the usual punchy pale malt flavour that begs for sausages on a barbecue, more the bitter rich fruity flavours from the Fuggles hops, followed by that hint of spice and sweetness from the malts to finish. This is a flavoursome IPA, well travelled through the years and continents of the world. And a perfectly splendid surprise on a hot sticky night. Maybe not as refreshing as I assumed it would be, but I'll definitely store another bottle for a dark stormy night.

18 May 2018

The Ivy Birmingham (Restaurant Review @IvyBirmingham) by @Cinabar

If you have walked passed the cathedral in Birmingham recently you may well have noticed the new restaurant, The Ivy, being fitted out. This restaurant is a sister restaurant of the rather famous celebrity hang out The Ivy in London. I decided to try it out and find out what all the fuss was about. I managed to book a table online, but had to give two weeks’ notice, apparently I’m not the only one curious about this new restaurant. We arrived ten minutes early, but were warmly welcomed and shown to our table straight away. The d├ęcor of the place was completely stunning, the beautiful wall paper of birds, trees and nature scenes combined with modern art prints, made the place look rather impressive.

A bottle of table water appeared, and we were asked if we wanted any drinks. I chose one of the soft drink options, Strawberry Cream Soda, and I was pleasantly surprised when a very grown up drink appeared, it was in two tones of red and clear, and even dressed with an environmentally friendly paper straw. The flavour wasn’t too sweet at all, the fruit was pleasingly sharp and the drink very refreshing.

The menu although quite pricey did actually cover a wider range of budgets than I had expected, from Eggs Benedict and chips at £11.50 through to a whole lobster for £34! The waiter told us about the daily specials and I decided to opt for the Veal Escalope. Being of German heritage to me this is a schnitzel, and the restaurant would now be competing with my mum and grandmothers traditional cooking.
I asked what came with the Veal Escalope and the waiter said that there was just some watercress, and a garlic sauce. I added broccoli and mashed potato to make it more of a meal. To be honest this is one of my pet hates of restaurants, where the main course needs accompaniments which push the whole price up. Oh well, it is posh I suppose.

The meal arrived and it did look like a fair portion, the sauce turned out to be a small jug of garlic oil, which was a little weird to me. I have eaten many a schnitzel, sorry Veal Escalope, in my life and I can’t remember one that has had a sauce with it. I poured a little on to get the full experience. The meat was thin and very tender and soft, and the crispy breadcrumb coating added a lovely layer to the texture. The meat was well seasoned, and really didn’t need the sauce. The mashed potato was a complete wonder, light fluffy and beautifully buttery. It was clearly whipped within an inch of its life and completely melted in the mouth. The broccoli was cooked well, but admittedly not the most exciting accompaniment.
Despite being quite full after a wonderful plate of food, I really couldn’t resist opting to see the dessert menu. As you may have noticed from this blog I do like my chocolate so chose the Chocolate Bombe. I wasn’t sure complete what to expect, but it turned out to be quite a theatrical dessert. A bowl arrived with a bed of ice cream and a chocolate globe on top, the waiter then poured hot caramel sauce on top and the chocolate melted, the whole thing was really quite stunning.

The flavour from the hot caramel sauce was absolutely divine, sweet and with a hint of salt. When this mixed with the ice cream and the chocolate it created a perfect mix of flavours, rich chocolate, mellow vanilla, strong caramel and every mouthful was different depending on the main ingredient on the spoon. This made it a delight to eat, and the mix in temperature was a fun treat too. Seriously had the place not been so posh, I would have licked the bowl!
So all in all the food at The Ivy in Birmingham certainly lived up to the reputation, it was a proper experience being there. The waiter couldn’t have been more attentive, checking on us and despite being busy, we didn’t wait long for any course. The dessert was out of this world, and made the whole meal for me. It is a pricey place, but I think it will end up being my first choice for a luxury treat.

17 May 2018

Vegan Pizza from White Rabbit Pizza Co (@Ocadouk) by @NLi10

As smart, educated humans we know we should eat pizza every single day,  but part of me would really like that. Here we have a possible solution, vegan pizza - that is also gluten free.

White Rabbit has appeared on Ocado and is seemingly quite a small venture.


We have the smoking pizza

And we’d have the regular pizza - well - regular if you don’t look at the ingredients. The cheese is rice based!

See how rustic the gluten free base looks!

Even better when cooked. I like the style. This one didn’t have much going on - the pesto and sun dried tomatoes were great but it needed rocket or something adding. We can do that ourselves next time.

The smokey one did have leafy greens and olives but was very similar.

I liked the cheese, I liked the base, and the toppings had some good choices on them, it just all felt a little sparse compared to your typical fresh store pizza. 

I guess if you want a bulkier topping you have to add it yourself. Really enjoyable and pretty healthy so I’ll be choosing them again.

16 May 2018

Ruby Salted Caramel Truffles (Fortnum & Mason) By @SpectreUK

I had to prize these Ruby Salted Caramel Truffles, by Fortnum & Mason, out of Cinabar's cold dead fingers! Not really, but be assured that she wasn't looking when I nabbed the packet. She'd already vaunted how luxurious they were and how they melted in her mouth and blah, blah… serves her right for getting distracted for a few minutes I say. Though we all have to go to loo at some point, it just becomes a battle of attrition. That and feeding her endless cups of tea…

The 155g bag of pink chocolate balls were tied up with a fetching gold Fortum & Mason bow, with the smart printed cardboard label tied on. Posh or what? And what's this; Ruby Chocolate? I thought it was food colouring, but it's a new found naturally occurring cocoa, which is supposed to be a fruity mixture of milk, white and dark chocolate. No wonder these pink truffles were so well guarded. And they really are lush. On first bite these sweet slightly fruity tasting pink chocolate balls burst runny salted caramel into my mouth overloading it with flavours. The salted sweet caramel mixing with the sweet fruitiness of the Ruby chocolate and then a touch of sourness washing around my tastebuds into the aftertaste. Absolutely luxurious pink salty chocolate balls and they're all mine (hang on… that didn't sound right)! I've locked the door from prying fingers… Time to gorge!

15 May 2018

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate Black Fig bar (Marks and Spencer) by @Cinabar

This Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate Black Fig bar has been in the Foodstuff Finds cupboard for a little while, so I’d like to start by saying that I think I purchased it in Marks and Spencer. I can’t find any trace of it on their website, and the wrapper doesn’t seem to mention the brand but that is still where I’m pretty sure I got it from.
The chocolate is packaged in a card sleeve ornately decorated with a ship on the front. The back of the pack reveals that this is a bar from North America, imported to the UK.

I opened it up and the Black Fig chocolate is also very impressive, it is quite dark in colour and neatly patterned. It didn’t break very well for sharing, but I realised this was because on the back of the bar there was a good covering of sticky fig pieces. The cocoa in the bar is 72% so it provides quite rich dark but clean flavour, it is surprisingly sharp, but still manages to feel quite silky. The fig is an interesting paring as it adds a nice addition of sweetness, an almost treacle like addition to the taste. The fig also adds a fun level of texture, with its uneven pieces and stickiness, but this did seem at odds with what seems a much more serious bar. The flavour of this chocolate is very grown up, and more for savouring than anything else with is rich dark tones. An enjoyable bar, ideal to have a piece this with an afternoon coffee. I’d love to buy another but as certain as I was this was from Marks, the more I look at it the more I think it looks less likely every time. Has anyone else seen this bar for sale in the UK?

14 May 2018

Kit Kat Senses - Sharing Box (Ocado) By @Cinabar

As much as I love Kit Kat it is not something that seems like it would be ideal to share, even with a four stick Kit Kat, I tend to eat the lot. This new Senses box those has made sharing Kit Kat easy as they have put them into mini bite size pieces and mixed in three flavours. We had these to snack on while watching Eurovision, and they were the perfect treat shared in front of the TV.
The thing that impressed me the most was the box, it may look squarish and uninteresting but once you removed the lid, it opens up into a lovely card sharing bowl, perfect for placing on the coffee table. Inside which was a selection of three different varieties of miniature Kit Kat Senses.

We had:

Double chocolate -This had a dark layer inside the mini Kit Kat, and a very rich chocolate flavour. There were crunchy cocoa nibs too, which added a lovely texture.

Hazelnut - I love nuts and chocolate so this very quickly became my favourite, the praline inside had pieces of nuts too, and the flavour was heavy on the hazelnut that worked perfectly with the chocolate.

Salted Caramel - Well I suppose we had to expect a salted caramel flavour, it has been the on trend, and now very safe, flavour for many a new product. Having said that it did actually taste remarkable good, the salt was pleasingly tangy, and the crunchy caramel bits really made this.

I liked that all the varieties of these mini Kit Kat Senses had an extra nice crunch in the texture. They were very easy to eat, and were wonderful to munch on during an evening of cheesy pop on Eurovision. The very best thing about them though was the way the box opened, and turned itself into that funky sharing bowl. Definitely one to buy for munching on if there are a group of you.

13 May 2018

Lets Eat Pet Food! Doggy Cake from Barking Bakery - by @NLi10 #Doggo #cute

My family quite like animals.  We have 4 cats - we are considered odd because we have zero dogs.  My parents have a lot of dogs - and my sister has a couple of the pedigree pups that they bred.

Here we see Rocket on his 3rd Birthday with a new toy - isn't he a good boy!

Because my sister is just as crazy as I am Rocket is having a birthday cake.

It comes as this pretty sweet kit - with little bones and some safe writing icing for the top.

My family chose a pun based on the fact that all the dogs are Papillon and added butterflies because that's what it's french for.

Rocket knows the birthday song means that he either gets to destroy some paper with food inside or he gets cake.  My sister gets to blow out the candles.

The items attached to the cake are clearly just luxury dog treats.  We shan't try those.  The cake itself is marked as not for humans, but we shall try that because snack reviewers sometimes have to eat horrible things.  Like the cat easter eggs...

As Rocket and his little sister Ponyo are well trained it's possible to put the cake on the floor next to them and tell them not to eat it yet.  I know some humans who would struggle with this.

They even pose nicely for pictures before too!

OK! (gobble gobble)

Inside it's a fairly standard looking cake - no cream and no jam as you'd expect.  Based on the cat treats we've eaten so far I expected there to be no sweetness and just the basics.

I only took a small slice - afterall we don't want to deprive the birthday dog.  

And it's actually nice.  I mean if you gave it to someone as regular cake they would know something was up - but it's sweet and has similarities to a cake.  It's a bit more like a yeastless bread, and quite dry, but it's edible.  My sister had some too and agreed - you could eat this if you were desperate.

This was however a family BBQ that just happened to coincide with Rocket's birthday so there were plenty of other sweet treats for the humans to snack on instead.  And for once - the weather was pretty good!

12 May 2018

Earl Grey Pale Ale (Marks & Spencer) By @SpectreUK

This Earl Grey Pale Ale was brewed by Adnams Brewery in Suffolk exclusively for M&S. M&S Earl Grey tea was added during fermentation, as well as surplus M&S bread in the brewing. Any bread we don't eat I put on the bird table, not on the grass though as we have an army of hungry cats prowling the neighbourhood at any one time. The bergamot within the Earl Grey tea is supposed to give this 5% volume pale ale a citrus flavour. I'm sure the surplus bread will add to the malted flavour on the beer too.

On opening the can there was a heady citrus smell where the hops seemed to bash into the bergamot from the Earl Grey tea in some sort of noiseless revelry. This is such a strong smell that on pouring, this golden beer didn't immediately have the feel of a pale ale. On taste the sweetness from the pale malt and added bread didn't completely break through the surface of the strong citrus hoppy and bergamot battle at the height of the flavour. The citrus bitterness hit my tastebuds straight away and wouldn't stop giving all the way to a slightly malty aftertaste. I'd say this is a beer for washing down spicy dishes and fishy meals. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad beer, as it would definitely bring out the flavours in those meals a treat.

11 May 2018

Chocca Mocca Drinking Chocolate (British Hamper Company) By @cinabar

This fine tin of hot chocolate came in my hamper that I received in the post from the British Hamper Company. It was a special chocolate edition hamper, and this is one of the many interesting treats I found inside it. I thought I would try out this hot chocolate, and have a soothing drink while working from home.
The tin looks very posh as it is modern thin and narrow, but if truth be told this does make it a little awkward to actually use. Think fiddly teaspoon, narrow container and hot chocolate drops in a bag within that. I did manage to pour some out onto the spoon and get it measured out that way. For ease I microwaved my milk and then added four teaspoons to my mug and stirred it in, letting it melt. The chocolate is in the form of Belgian chocolate drops and I thought might be difficult to mix up, but with a little stirring it soon dissolved in. From the darkness of the drink I thought the amount added looked about right.
I was right too, the flavour is very rich and this made a very indulgent hot chocolate. The taste was sweet and creamy, and it had bags of cocoa flavour. To me this is how a hot chocolate should be, essentially melted Belgian chocolate in mug, as strong or as week as you want it. Pure yum, no messing.