21 September 2019

Sakura Beer (DiscoverBrew) By @SpectreUK

I may have misread the name of this beer. I thought it was named after a favourite singer of mine. Admittedly I'm not that fussed about her music, although always cheerful. However, I'll just say that her hips definitely don't lie! ;-)

The crazy looking woman on the front of this Sakura beer can, isn't Sakura, rather the Japanese ornamental cherry blossom tree behind her. Produced by Hopfully Brewing in Dublin, this 5.4% volume beer has been brewed with Sorachi Ace hops. Originating in Japan, I don't think I've ever tasted a beer with Sorachi Ace hops before, so I'm looking forward to this first experience.

On opening the can this Sakura beer was one of those cans that irritatingly explodes everywhere. I even got some on my laptop's monitor before I unceremoniously shoved the can opening in my mouth. As an ex-barman I pride myself on pouring beer well for a good head. Sakura had an impossible head which just wouldn't quit. It's been sat in my beer fridge for some time and unless Cinabar cheekily shook the can up before handing it me, I can't understand why it's so excitable.

This murky golden beer has an almost yeasty lager aroma to it behind the sweet barley malt. Sorachi Ace hops are supposed to have a buttery off flavour, and I could smell their presence. On taste, once it had calmed down, Sakura has a lovely and slightly obscure flavour. I don't think it would be an acquired taste, where some people like it and some people don't.

The initial sweet barley malt taste cover the usual expected beer flavours perfectly, and then that almost creamy slightly bitter buttery off flavour of the Sorachi Ace hops jumped excitedly all over my tastebuds making it difficult to put down. It makes me wonder why brewers don't use Sorachi Ace hops more regularly. This is a very moreish beer that I found unputdownable once poured. It made me want to reach for another excitable can!

20 September 2019

McVities Unicorn Rainbow Crystal Cake Bars (Asda) By @Cinabar

Okay, another product that is on the mythical creature band wagon. I don’t mind the association with unicorns and mermaids, they are all on trend and cool, but I do kind of hope that any product that goes down this route has something special about it too. These new McVities Unicorn Rainbow Crystal Cake Bars promise rainbow crystals, so that at least sounds a bit different.
The sponge inside though is vanilla, and the creme on top of the sponge is vanilla and nothing says exciting like vanilla does it. The coating is the regular milk chocolate one around it, so basically all hopes are pinned on the rainbow crystals.

I took the outer wrapper off and found nicely individually packaged cake bars, they are the kind of thing that would make a kid smile if they found it in their lunch box. The packaging is cute and pink and very much up to the theme.
I cut the cake bar in half ready to witness the rainbow crystals spectacular.

I looked hard, there was a pale orange crystal, and maybe a pale pink one just visible in the filling. It was not much of a rainbow, and it wasn’t very exciting. Further bites revealed the same, not much to see here. The crystals did add a crunch when you are eating them, but the flavours are all vanilla so that was nice enough but again not really what I’d expect from something which is supposed to be a magical unicorn like experience. Oh well, these McVities Unicorn Rainbow Crystal Cake Bars will get eaten but frankly I want more novelty in my novelty items.

19 September 2019

DOX - Prague, Art & VIGO Kombucha (@Nli10)

A short trip out of town on the underground, DOX is an absolutely lovely art place.  It took me three attempts to find the front door though, but I think that was the heat and my heady bag messing with me.

To say the Cafe is well stocked would be an understatement!

It's safe to say that had I been staying close I'd have tried all of these - heck if it wasn't for the fact I was going to the airport after this I'd have stocked up on glassware!

I'd never seen Vigo Kombucha before - so I chose the ACAI flavour and discovered that they have decided to go with the health angle.

Some of these claims are very vague guys!  As someone with an overactive immune system do I want to consult a doctor before I drink this? Of course not! It's water and fermented tea - while I don't doubt that it helps fuel my 'friendly bacteria' I think that the fact you put a load of vitamins in it is the main way it'd help someone (but only if they are deficient in those things already!)

Thing is - it tasted great and has the pleasant tingly sensation that I love.  I'd drink more of these given the chance - and luckily the flights to Prague are quite cheap (the tax was more than the flights) so maybe I'll be back one day.

18 September 2019

Pot Noodle: Asian Street Style Thai Red Curry (Alexa) By @SpectreUK

I get on very well with Alexa. She sits in the kitchen and plays Classical radio stations for me during my lunchtime, and asks us a "question of the day". I often find her voice quiet soothing. Cinabar doesn't get on with Alexa so well, but she did ask her to send me this Asian Street Style Thai Red Curry from Pot Noodle. I have tried many Pot Noodles in the past, my favourite being Beef and Tomato. So I'm quite looking forward to this, especially as I love Thai Red Curry. What could go wrong?

Opening the Asian Street Style Thai Red Curry Pot Noodle there was a ball of fine stringy noodles covered in reddish seasoning and some diced vegetables. I boiled the kettle and also a couple of boiled eggs, with some toast and butter on the side. After leaving the pot to stew and stirring, I pulled off the foil top from the pot and was at first struck by the sheer strength of a lemongrass type smell. I say "type" because I couldn't see any lemongrass in the ingredients, and believe me, the smell was so strong I read through them several times!

Once cooled a little the strength of the lemongrass type flavour was overwhelming. If you had told me in a blind taste test that this was a lemongrass noodle soup I'd have believed you. There was quite a hot chilli strength behind this overwhelming almost washing-up liquid type flavour, which made me sweat little also. Of course I don't eat washing-up liquid, but I'm sure you get the idea. It's fortunate I don't mind lemongrass that much, but those of you who don't like it (like Cinabar) are probably best to avoid this pot noodle. It unfortunately didn't taste like any Thai Red Curry I've ever tasted before, and I've enjoyed quite a few in my time…

Information on the Pot;
The 69g pot included 243 calories, 1.5g of fat, 4.9g of sugar, and 2.6g of salt. I was pretty surprised by the amount of salt. That seems pretty high. Please see photograph for ingredients.

17 September 2019

Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate (@whittarduk) By @Cinabar

Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate Whittard

We have been on a lovely trip ‘up north’ around the Liverpool and the Chester area. One of my favourite places to shop is Cheshire Oaks, and I always make sure we pop into Whittard to stock up on their beautiful hot chocolates. They have one of the best selections of flavours of hot chocolates around, and this Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate is top of their new and limited edition range. I think from the packaging that this must be meant as an autumn / halloween edition, as the tub is covered in colourful skulls and candles.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate Whittard

The powder inside is mostly white but speckled with a darker granule, which does look a bit like dark sugar. The contents are well mixed though so each teaspoon gives an even distribution. The drink is made with hot milk and as it has a white hot chocolate base the drink is a dark cream in colour once made. The smell is amazing while this is being made, wonderfully sweet. The drink itself is such a soothing substance. The flavour is like sweet rich toffee, creamy and with lovely tones of caramel and a hint of creme brûlée just on the edge of the flavour. This is a seriously luxurious and sumptuous drink, it is rich but on a cold autumn night it is the perfect drink to warm you up. It will be ideal to have in mugs watching the trick treaters visit and also for bonfire night fireworks too, it turns out autumn isn’t so bad after all.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate Whittard

16 September 2019

Marathon Bars Are Back!!! (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

Marathon Bars Retro Snickers

Younger readers might not know that the original name of Snickers in the UK was Marathon. They changed it in the early 1990s to match up with the American brand which confused us over here trying to work out why our confectionary was changing name. Don’t get me started on Opal Fruits. Although we have come to embrace Snickers, I grew up on the name Marathon and have a lot of nostalgia for it, so when I heard there was a limited edition run of Marathon bars at Morrisons I went off to find myself a pack. It has been thirty years! Gosh I’m old.

Marathon Bars Retro Snickers

For comparisons sake I also bought a multipack of Snickers so I could compare and contrast how the recipe and flavours had changed over the years. I thought maybe these bars would be bigger too, as Marathon bars always seemed bigger than Snickers bars, but I’m not sure if that is just my perception. I think they had a slogan about the size being something like ‘the biggest and the best’, long before the days of worrying about portion control. The Marathon and Snickers I bought were all the same size anyway. I got them home and immediately spotted the the calories per bar are identical on the Snickers and the Marathon bars which was suspicious, and then I read the ingredients on both packets and guess what, they are the same. These are a retro version in packaging only, they just wrote Marathon across the usual Snickers bars wrapper. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. Oh well technically you can now buy a pack of Marathon bars at Morrisons, just don’t go expecting a retro recipe or any changes to the chocolate. This is not a taste of the past.

Marathon Bars Retro Snickers

15 September 2019

Soup & Nuggets & Beer in Czechia (@NLi10)

Sticking to local drinks I had my customary large beer - after all it was a very hot day.

And then I ordered the very hot, local style soup which I think annoyed the kitchen as they took a while to come with it.  Guess that only tourists have the soup in almost 40 degree heat.

Good though, the meat is hiding here, and the veggies and flavours were all good.

And for main I had the schnitzel style thing although they looked a little more like chicken nuggets than I'd expected.  All good and very filling though.  Maybe I should stray from the bars into more traditional restaurants if I make it back.

14 September 2019

Birra Moretti Alla Siciliana Beer (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

This beer has been in my fridge for ages. Not that I've been avoiding it, just saving it for a special occasion. Birra Moretti Alla Siciliana looks and sounds so good. It had to count for something. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Cinabar's brother in fact, and I feel is also my older brother too, reminded me last night that one of his daughters (that I've known since birth) is going away to university at the end of next week. I see her and her sister as my nieces. I'm very proud of her. She's worked exceptionally hard both at college and also saving up money through employment to go there. I know she'll do exceptionally well and has a bright future ahead of her. Once poured I'll raise my pint glass of this Birra Moretti Alla Siciliana to her tonight, and her parents, and I'll wish them luck on their new chapter in life.

This Birra Moretti Alla Siciliana was produced by Heineken Italia and brewed with Zagara Blossom, which apparently is akin to orange in flavour. There is also orange extract in this beer. I wish I'd drunk this beer at lunchtime now, because that's when I had my tuna sandwich after the gym, and orange beer always goes well with fishy dishes. On opening the bottle of this shiny golden 5.8% volume beer has a rich floral aroma to it. On taste there is sweet Italian barley malt and a little maize to start with, and then the orange flavours kick in, with soft floral notes, and then a light bitterness from the hops to finish. Mmm… this beer is definitely a celebration beer. So cheers to friends and families, and also to everyone that's starting a new chapter in their book of life!

13 September 2019

Lotus Biscuit Muffin (Costa) By @Cinabar

Lotus Biscuit Muffin (Costa)

Well September has begun and Costa has launched its autumn menu, eek it will be Christmas decorations next. I might be in denial about the weather changing but I do still get excited about the flavours of the colder seasons. There is something about the spices and warming tastes that make me very happy, but then I do love cinnamon.
Talking of spices the new autumn muffin from Costa is this Lotus Biscuit flavoured one, topped with a biscuit. We practically always have Lotus Biscuits in the house, they are such a nice addition to a hot drink. When I had this muffin I also had it with a coffee, but this seemed a naughtier treat. I plucked the biscuit off the top and tried the fondant that had been holding it on, I was sure it would be Lotus Biscuit spread but my tastebuds were surprised to discover a sweet coffee flavour. It was nice, but I can only assume that the biscuit spread wouldn’t have been firm enough to hold the biscuit on.

Lotus Biscuit Muffin (Costa)

I peeled the muffin apart and found that the centre was filled with biscuit spread. The sponge was lightly spiced with a tasty hint of cinnamon, I liked the aromatic flavour and the warmth. The centre was pure Lotus Biscuit heaven with all its biscuit flavour goodness. Having eaten a large beautifully spiced muffin I realised I still had the biscuit from the top to finish, which was a bit much but I want you to know I battled on.
So yes this Costa Lotus Biscuit Muffin gets my vote, it is a substantial treat but well flavoured and a nice combo product.

12 September 2019

We made it to Prague! Lets try local food. (@NLi10)

I got into Prague by train from Graz very late so followed the locals to a cool indie restaurant where all of the hip people hung out.

Just kidding.  I had a KFC Twister meal.  I did get to hear the other British people there struggle to explain what they wanted to eat - then have a blazing row about it and storm out of the place.  This was especially confusing as any sober person could tell that all of the staff spoke perfect English and could have happily taken their correct order had they managed to ask...

The next day I went looking for more authentic things - these are made in Germany but would have come back for our cat if they hadn't been so darn expensive.

I eventually found small places where the drinks were cheaper.  This is actually Pepsi Max which was a cruel prank to play on someone who needed all the energy for walking.

Maybe I was supposed to get all my calories from these tourist traps that had all of the sugar in them.  These and the nibbly feet fish shops make up around 10% of the centre of Prague.

But I also found these!

Taking the place of the Belgian Waffle shops were these Trdelnik stores.  I grabbed the first one I spotted but there were loads!

I think I should have had one with something inside it as they were very very dry.  They were more bread like that I'd expected and I didn't really fancy a second one.  Maybe Czechia is a savoury place and not one for top sweet treats.

They do have a temple of capitalism next to the museum of communism so they at least appreciate Irony.

11 September 2019

Savoursmiths Truffle and Rosemary Crisps (@DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

When I'm trying to cultivate a six-pack the last thing I want to do is to eat a bag of crisps that are 201 calories. Although these Truffle and Rosemary Crisps from Savoursmiths sounded too pretentious not to blog about. So after a gruelling session at the gym I now have the packet in front of me. Fortunately with the amount of exercise I'm doing I have been able to drink and eat what I want from day one. I have now dropped down to four sessions a week at the gym instead of six, and I'm still slowly but surely losing weight.

I'm not counting calories, I'm just eating less on the non-gym days and I max out on protein on the the gym days. I look forward to my tuna sandwich afterwards, plus a piece of cheese, crisps, pickled onion, tomato, apple and a high protein yoghurt to finish. I believe in a balanced diet, and it's working… Okay, so I eat two packs of pork scratchings occasionally after the gym, and also a beer on the evening too. This is the life… I'm lighter in weight than I have been in twenty years (so nah-nah to my surgeon) and the muscles have finally almost come back around my knee. I have to be careful though, I don't want to damage my knee or anything else, and also my abs routine every morning is pretty tough.

Anyway, back to these Truffle and Rosemary Crisps. Apparently Black Italian Summer Truffles are a natural aphrodisiac. This coupled with the rosemary is said to arouse the tastebuds and "leave you pining for more." I'm now slightly worried about eating these Truffle and Rosemary Crisps. I'm supposed to be seeing my Physiotherapist this afternoon and the last thing she needs is a rusty old guy being flirty!

On opening the bag the smell of these crisps was exceptional. Okay, so the flavour is original (in my books), but I wasn't expecting a delightfully strong smell of rosemary, some saltiness and the slightly peppery smell of the truffles. The taste is like no crisp I've ever tasted… Oh, yes… Truffle and Rosemary Crisps! These crisps really do taste amazeballs! The flavours of the Black Truffle and the herby rosemary washed around my mouth with every crisps. Gosh, I'm glad I went to the gym for these! Don't worry, I'll try to calm down before I see my Physio!

Information on the packet;
The 40g bag contains 201 calories, 11g of fat, 1.2g of sugar, and 0.56g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

10 September 2019

New Kit Kat Doughnut (Krispy Kreme) By @Cinabar

New Kit Kat Doughnut (Krispy Kreme)

New Kit Kat Doughnut (Krispy Kreme)

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a snack dilemma where I couldn’t decide between a chocolate bar and a doughnut but if I had, this would solve that problem. Kit Kat and Krispy Kreme have linked up and invented the Kit Kat Doughnut, which sounds quite exciting. I picked up a box while I was at the shops, and got Spectre a strawberry doughnut too, because that one is his favourite.
Now the thing about Kit Kat is the wafer, and that is a bit of a hard thing to get across in a doughnut. A ring doughnut with a centre of wafer would be epic but I think difficult to make. They can’t add any inside easily so they sprinkled a little on top, but as someone who normally loves texture I almost missed it. It melts away and isn’t very noticeable. Essentially then, once you have pulled off the mini Kit Kat that was sitting proud on top, it is a chocolate coated doughnut. The chocolate flakes everywhere too once you bite it as the chocolate is solid and the doughnut soft, so it takes a bit of delicate eating. As a simple chocolate coated doughnut this makes it a little less exciting than I originally thought, but I do confess I wouldn’t have been able to think of a better way to tie the two items together. I can’t help thinking Spectre was right to hold out for a strawberry doughnut, this isn’t one I’d rush out to buy again. A chocolate doughnut with a mini Kit Kat stuck on top, with some token wafer crumble. Nice enough but not as interesting as I thought it was going to be. I think I'd rather have a Krispy Kreme doughnut flavoured Kit Kat bar.

9 September 2019

New Lindt Lindor Mint Bar (Sainsbury’s) By @Cinabar

Mint is one of my favourite flavours for chocolate, I accept I have quite a few favourites, but I assure you mint is right up there. This is a new bar from Lindt based on their mint flavour Lindt Lindor chocolate balls. The bar itself is elongated, and has a long thin form. This makes it look quite posh and different from other bars, except for Kit Kat Senses, which went down the same route! It does look smart though.
The new Lindt Lindor Mint Bar managed to make it home without breaking too with is impressive as it does look more fragile than its chunkier counterparts and it sat in the bottom of a re-usable carrier bag. The aroma is lovely once the wrapper is off, the chocolate pieces break into nice looking large rectangles which form a good sized chunk. The chocolate is quite thick, and has the signature silky smooth feel of Lindt Lindor. The mint is quite strong, but not as strong as an After Eight. The peppermint it still lovely and zingy, but the chocolate flavours here are strong too and add a more mellow aspect to the chocolate bar as a whole. I think it balances both flavours well, and I loved the taste. For me this is an easier way to get my Lindt Lindor fix in  the form of a simple bar. I seem to leave the Lindt Lindor Balls for celebrations as the are produced in gift boxes, so aren’t so reasonable to pick up as an after work treat. This new Lindt Lindor Mint Bar would be tempting to add to my basket when I’m doing a supermarket top-up shop mid week.

8 September 2019

Exploring the snacks of Graz, Austria (@NLi10)

One reliable constant when travelling is that if you can find a East Asian grocery shop you can eat cheaply - and get a decent tea.  This one wasn't amazing, but did quench the thirst nicely.

They even put out the red carpet when we are in town!  OK - so I got lost and walked through an outdoor theatre bit - but I don't think it was private.  The restaurant looked a little above my prices.

This is more like it - street art and bread products.

This was near the youth hotel complex - in a very dodgy part of town.  The bakery was very good but I suspect people came off the main road, parked up, and sped away fast!  The filling was chocolate.  Mmmmmm.

The station had surprisingly got a lot of high quality snacks - including this choc that I remember Cinabar giving me a decade or so ago! 

I already had too much to carry.

I'll settle for this - more of the lovely Austrian Kombucha and some apple tarte thing - both gorgeous!  All of this hiding in the modern art museums air-con which makes it both a worthy cause and a great snacking venue.

The place also looks like an alien space-craft just like the train station back home. 

7 September 2019

Rosie's Pig Raspberry Roller Cider (Morrisons) By @SpectreUK

I've written about "Rosie's Pig" flavoured ciders before. I've written about the damson flavoured cider and also the rhubarb flavoured cider. This Raspberry Roller is flavoured with not only raspberries, but cucumber too. This feels like a real summer cider, so I might be a bit late writing about it, but better late than never… I hope!

Fruit flavoured ciders and beers can often be overpowered by the fruit, and I've had a few in the past that have been completely drowned by the fruit and ended up tasting like a fizzy pop drink. Produced by Weston & Sons; Raspberry Roller is made with fresh pressed Herefordshire apples, which have been slowly matured and left unfiltered for a stronger flavour, so I'm not too worried here…

On opening the can there was a light fizz to this 4% volume pinkish red cider, and a well balanced smell of both cider apple and raspberry. This aroma was predominantly cider apple followed by raspberries. I'm expecting the cucumber flavour to be drowned out here in the flavour. On taste the cider apples have a strong kick and then the sweetness arrived on my tastebuds from the raspberries. There is cucumber here, though right at the back of the flavour. I probably wouldn't have been able to pick it out if I hadn't have seen it mentioned on the can.

This is a very flavoursome and tasty refreshing fruit cider, which I should have probably drank earlier when it was a bit hotter outside. However, I will enjoy it tonight instead.

6 September 2019

Cadbury Dairy Milk: Caramel Cake Slices (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

The box for these new Cadbury Dairy Milk: Caramel Cake Slices looks very bright and exciting, there is a lovely contrast of colour and I was quite keen to try them when I spotted them in Sainsburys, they looked very appealing. I think I had assumed that inside the box there would be individually wrapped cakes but they were actually packaged in pairs. My initial reaction too was that they didn’t look quite a pretty or interesting as the box had made them look. I guess it is on to the taste test to see if they redeem themselves.

The best part about these Cadbury Dairy Milk: Caramel Cake Slices is the big pieces of chocolate on top, they are generously sprinkled with Daily Milk, and the chocolate was a lovely addition. The selling point of these cakes though is the caramel and the flavour was present, but it was missing the luxury of oozing golden caramel. I found them a little on the dry side, the drizzle of caramel icing on the top just wasn’t enough. The sponge flavour was fine, I just wanted something a bit more interesting texture wise too. I think the problem is that these are nice cakes, ok but if you had them at a friend’s house, you’d like them but not rush to find out what they are. The box makes them look really stunning and for me they were just a standardish cake bar rebranded and repackaged.

5 September 2019

More Austrian Meals - and avoiding nasty surprises! (@NLi10)

I'm a big fan of eating out of my comfort zone, and I like to chose things from the specials menu.  Not only do they tend to arrive faster, but it's often the thing the restaurant is most known for.  So - In Graz, Austria I ordered my beer and had a look at the specials.  

Luckily for me - after a lot of confusion over what I was getting I translated the menu's title.

As someone who hates mushrooms this was a lucky escape.  I once had a sort of odd truffle thing that was made with mushrooms that I didn't hate - that's as close as it gets.  I had saved myself the embarrassment of picking out lots of horrible things.  

In fairness the picture should have been a clue but I hadn't even spotted that.

Beer fine, if not a little darker than usual.

What I finally went for was a kind of pumpkin-seed schnitzel with crinkle cut chips!

It was the kind of place that charges for the bread and sauces whether you asked for them or not, but I could cope with that as both of these were fantastic.

So explore the menu - but do google for allergies and general disgusting fungi...

4 September 2019

Mystery Crisps (DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

I'm not sure I should blog about these mystery crisps. They have no information on the packet asides the ingredients, so I can't give you a name or manufacturer or anything really. Therefore I apologise if this blog is a little short.

There's been no pressure on us to write about them either, just curiosity is slowly itching away at me. Like a Pandora's Box. I'm just staring at the packet and wondering. The ingredients don't even look that interesting. They sound pretty healthy, but no chilli heat or even pepper. Just corn, lentils, beans and peas. My curiosity may have got the better of me here, as I really don't like snacks that don't taste of anything. It's supposed to be tasty at least… that's why it's a snack!

I can see through the packet and these tortilla shaped crisps look a little sat on and crushed… On opening the packet the rather strong smell of corn oil hit my nostrils, there was a little pea and bean in the aroma also, but mostly oil. They aren't crunchy at all. Perhaps a little rubbery in texture. They taste mainly of corn with a heavy hint of oil… I have to admit that I ate one crisp and then threw the bag away. I'm not wasting (or waisting) the calories. Whoever made them and whatever they are supposed to be, these mystery crisps need a serious rethink!

Information on the packet;
Per 100g there are 424 calories, with 11.8g of fat, 0.4g of sugar, and 1g of salt. Ingredients include; corn, red lentils, green peas, yellow peas, black beans, corn oil, and salt.