23 January 2019

The Bees Knees Alcohol Free Wine (@DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

The Bees Knees Alcohol Free Wine

I've been told by Cinabar that this month is "Dry January" for some. Don't worry, you may have noticed this hasn't affected my usual boozy Saturday blogs, but I thought I'd write about this non-alcoholic sparkling wine called 'The Bees Knees' to help those that are looking for the taste of wine, but without the dizziness that can come with it. I'm not much of a white wine drinker per se, but I have the odd glass with a white meat roast now and then.

The Bees Knees is produced by North South Wines and bottled in Germany, using non-alcoholic fermented grape juice and infused with green tea. It's marketed with floral aromas and a refreshing acidity. It is lower in sugar at about half the calories of a regular bubbly white wine. It is gluten free and vegan friendly. It sounds a bit too good to be true if you like your white wine sparkling. The trouble is, I don't… However, I'm always willing to try something different in some strange hope that the alcohol in sparkling white wine ruins the taste for me somehow and not the fizz itself!

After being nicely chilled in the fridge for a good long while, the 200ml bottle gave a dangerous fizz as I popped the lid. So much so that I lost a little of the liquid inside before I could shove the open bottle in my mouth, as I didn't have an empty glass close by enough. Certainly more grape than floral in aroma, at 26 calories and only 6.4g of sugar per 100ml, there is quite a lot of acid in the flavour of The Bees Knees. In fact, although not so vegan friendly; a little honey might have softened the face twisting acid bitterness that came with the first mouthful. I checked the date on the side of the bottle, just to make sure it hadn't gone passed its best. I couldn't tell if there was any green tea in the flavour, as I was too busy trying to coax my tastebuds back off the ceiling. If you like a (seriously) bitter non-alcoholic wine with your white meat, then this maybe for you, but not for me, I'm afraid!

22 January 2019

Cadbury Double Decker Chocolate Spread (Asda) By @Cinabar

Cadbury Double Decker Chocolate Spread

One of my favourite winter comfort foods is chocolate spread. Effectively chocolate thickly spread on toast is a treat, and what I like to refer to as a weekend breakfast, as it isn’t the most vitamin rich start to they day. This new Cadbury Double Decker Chocolate Spread is based on the chocolate bar of the same name, and consists of two sections in the jar, a chocolate part with crispies and a nougat flavoured section. Double Decker is one of those bars of chocolate I don’t have very often but when I do I’m always impressed by how nice the soft nougat flavour is.

This Cadbury Double Decker Chocolate Spread was spread on toast and the sections meant it marbled nicely, but the crispies seemed to more evenly distribute themselves. The flavour of the spread was deliciously chocolatey and rich. The nougat taste added a lovely creamy sweetness that made it a bit different from the normal chocolate spreads. The nougat was very similar to the actual bar, so I really liked it. The cocoa section was sweet, and added a good chocolate flavour too. The crispies pieces looked nice and are a nice idea but when spread on bread the texture is a little lost. It is a good attempt at recreating the Double Decker chocolate bar in spread form though, quite accurate on the flavour. I realise that chocolate bar on toast isn’t to everyone’s taste, but for me it was a lovely treat, back to porridge again until next weekend.

21 January 2019

Limited Edition Blueberry Cheesecake Hot Chocolate (Whittard) By @Cinabar

Limited Edition Blueberry Cheesecake Hot Chocolate Whittard

Well it is January, it is Blue Monday, but it is also my birthday. I am having a treat then and having a few luxuries today. One of the things I’m enjoying is this new Whittard Limited Edition Blueberry Cheesecake Hot Chocolate, this is the other new flavour from Whittard and NLi10 wrote about the Raspberry Ripple yesterday. The front of the tub on this one states as blue as a berry, so I was expecting something quite fun in colour!
I added some teaspoons of powder to my mug, and some hot milk and microwaved. Although it isn’t how they advised on the pack I find adding an inch of milk and microwaving for a few seconds works really well. I mix that up with the powder, top up the mug with cold milk and re-microwave until hot. The drink is very lilac, perhaps not blue as promised but still a very interesting looking drink.
The taste is spot on, the blueberry shines through and is sweet. The base flavour is creamy but there is a nice vanilla hint of cheesecake too. This is the drink you should have to cheer up in cold January, sweet, fruity, creamy and soothing. It is a proper yummy drink, forget Blue Monday I’d rather have Blueberry Cheesecake Hot Chocolate.

20 January 2019

Whittard Raspberry Ripple Hot Chocolate (@NLi10)

I got lots of exciting things for Christmas, including this Whittard Raspberry Ripple white chocolate hot chocolate.  I've been drinking it over the colder days, and occasionally adding a bit of fluff 

Whittard Raspberry Ripple Hot Chocolate

Here I'm using almond milk, it doesn't taste quite as rich as the dairy, but it works well enough.

And here we are adding the fluff to the mixture.  Without it the flavours are surprisingly deep and sophisticated, and just the right amount of fruity.

With the fluff it becomes a lot sweeter, and the artificial flavours from the raspberry marshmallow overpower the hot chocolate a little, but it does add a fun extra dimension.

These limited edition Wittard Hot Chocolates are a great idea, especially for people like me who like a bit of variety.  I wonder what other flavours they have in store! 

19 January 2019

Twisted Tree Hopped Cider (Aldi) By @SpectreUK

Twisted Tree Hopped Cider

This Hopped Cider rings a bell. I thought I'd written about this cider before. Cinabar informed me that was a different hopped cider. I know I write a lot of beer blogs, and a few cider blogs, but hopped cider seems quite rare to me. Hops added to cider is more of a taste thing, perhaps, rather than a necessary preservative. However, saying that if hops were just a preservative for beer and not a taste thing, I guess there would only be one type of hops used in beer… Anyway, cider lasts quite a long time without hops, so I guess it's a taste thing here.

I'd like to say I know a lot about this Hopped Cider, produced by Twisted Tree, but the writing on the back of the can was a kind of massed together white typeface on a light blue background. So I couldn't read it very well. Although Cinabar could read it, so maybe my old eyes are going? Anyway better to taste the cider instead, I guess…

At 4% volume this Hopped Cider smells like the innards of a sweet apple pie. It really does, I'm not pulling your leg. It seemed a shame to start drinking it, this Hopped Cider smelt so good. It made me think of a good hot pudding after a Sunday Roast. Strange though because on taste the sweetness is quickly replaced by the herbal hops, which spring to the fore and then in turn bring out the slightly sour cider apple flavours into the aftertaste. From first smell I thought I'd be recommending this Hopped Cider as a sweet pudding cider, but it'll probably go well with any white meat or spicy meal, or enjoyed clinking glasses together after a good day out with friends.

18 January 2019

Cadbury Darkmilk - Roasted Almond (WH Smiths) By @Cinabar

Cadbury Darkmilk - Roasted Almond

Cadbury Darkmilk chocolate has been out for a few weeks but seems to have alluded me, and I have tried many shops looking for it in the West Midlands. Please note although similar in name to Dairly Milk, Darkmilk is a whole new product. I was popping into WH Smiths after a lovely day off work and a shopping trip to have a final browse at books when I spotted this new bar, Cadbury Darkmilk - Roasted Almond, on the counter. Obviously Darkmilk is doing well if they have already released a new flavour variant in the range.
So the idea of Darkmilk is a new chocolate from Cadbury that is a half way into being a dark chocolate (like Bournville) and half way to being a milk chocolate (like Dairy Milk). As a big fan of nuts and chocolate I felt this bar of Cadbury Darkmilk Roasted Almond was an ideal place to try out this new bar chocolate.
The bar itself does look quite dark, and the almonds are quite hidden on the front but are visible on the back. I gave it a taste and have to say I was impressed with the flavour. The bar is richer than Cadbury Dairy Milk, there is plenty of cocoa flavour and that enhancement I did really enjoy. The bar is silky too, and lovely and smooth. The nuts have a good strong roasted flavour and are crunchy and add lovely layers of texture. It is still sweet though, there was no bitterness from the chocolate. I thoroughly enjoyed this bar, it isn’t as soothing a Dairy Milk but the extra cocoa and richness is a lovely treat. I guess it is not better or worse than Dairy Milk, just different and perfect when you are in the mood for something a bit stronger.

17 January 2019

Flipz Unicornz Pretz Pinkz Sparklz Nomz (@NLi10)

When we were little we'd pick up sweets and treats in the supermarket - rush them to our mother and she'd say no because they were silly indulgences.  Dejectedly we'd dump them on the row end by the tills.  And there they would presumably be put back by the assistants, or so I thought.  As an adult who has no reason to go down those bits, I spotted this dumped with the batteries at the end of an aisle and snapped it up.  A new flavour of Flipz based around unicornz? Sweet! 

Flipz Unicornz Pretz Pinkz Sparklz Nomz

Look at these colourz, can you imagine the joy on the childz face when they spot this and take it to their bill payer. 

The bag even tells you that they are MAGICAL which is great.  I mean the kidz will probably be disappointed with the salty goodness of the Flipz but for me these are amazing.

As usual the helicopter view looks a little disappointing because of packing space, but the smell is amazing even if the colourz are not quite as vivid as the art.

But here it is in all it's glory, a bit battered from going backwards and forwards to work in the bag, but still recognisable and whole!

How do they taste?

Like white covered pretzels and magic and a little hint of fudge on top!  I could have eaten the whole bag but I needed to share these at games tonight so I resisted.  They totally should make sharing size bagz of these for partiez.

And now they need to do Blue(berry) ones based around Narwalz. plz.

16 January 2019

Golden Wonder Sausage & Tomato Crisps (Poundland) By @SpectreUK

Golden Wonder Sausage & Tomato Crisps

These Golden Wonder fully flavoured Sausage & Tomato crips remind me of a favourite sandwich of mine. Who doesn't like Tomato Ketchup on a sausage sandwich? Okay, so it's not for everyone… Looking back when I first started work in a factory after college, I treated myself to a sausage sandwich every Friday morning from the greasy van that was parked up nearby on the trading estate. Not so healthy though, as I put on a few stone and had to work it all off at the gym!

Okay, so these Golden Wonder Sausage & Tomato may not be new crisps, but we haven't seen them in years. They must have been hiding somewhere. Strangely though I do find many Golden Wonder crisps aren't readily available, which is a shame as they're generally really tasty. On opening the packet there is a good smell of tomato mixed with the less dominant smell of sausage meat.

On taste these crisps really do explode with flavour. It's hard to say which comes first, as the sausage flavouring merges perfectly with the tomato like someone has gone mad with the Ketchup on their sausage sandwich (which I always do, of course)! Unless I'm mad, these crisps really do taste of sausage and tomato. I checked the back of the packet for a double take on the vegetarian friendly aspect of the crisps. Not that it applies to me, but I didn't want to type "Suitable for vegetarians" if it wasn't true!

The reason why I'm more than a little surprised that these crisps taste of sausage is that so many 'sausage' flavoured crisps out there seem to substitute 'sage' for the vegetarian tastebuds, rather than try to emulate the flavour of sausage. I can't be bonkers though, as it says Sausage & Tomato on the packet!

Information on the packet;
The 25g bag contains 132 calories, with 7.9g of fat, 0.9g of sugar, and 0.35g of salt. Suitable for vegetarians. Please see photograph for ingredients.

15 January 2019

Curiously Cinnamon Cereal Bars (Poundland) By @Cinabar

Curiously Cinnamon Cereal Bars

I don’t eat a lot of breakfast cereal, but if I did my preferred choice would be Curiously Cinnamon. Cinnamon is my favourite spice, I love its warming goodness. One of the good things about the current season is the fact that cinnamon starts to appear in lots of things, it really is a winter spice. I always get excited when I find something new or that I haven’t tried before but especially so if it contains cinnamon.
Although I don’t buy many cereals I do buy quite a few cereal bars, they are much more easy to eat either on the train or at my desk at work. I found these in Poundland and I haven’t found them before in my usual supermarkets, but I can say the box didn’t have a “new” label on it, which is confusing.

Inside the box there are individually packaged bars all in the bright orange Curiously Cinnamon wrapper. Once open I can see the milk flavour base coat on the bottom half of the bar, and the square pieces of the Curiously Cinnamon cereal. The flavour was good but milder than I remember the cereal being. There was a decent amount of spice, and the sweetness and milk taste did work well together. I found this a treat to have, and I love the idea of a portable version as to what would otherwise be my favourite cereal. It was missing the fabulous cinnamon milk you get left with after the real stuff, but this certainly works for convenience. I do hope this isn’t a winter only limited edition, as I’m going to be after some more boxes of these.

14 January 2019

New M&Ms Cake Bars (@Morrisons) By @Cinabar

New M&Ms Cake Bars

We might not be getting any exciting new M&Ms flavours in the UK but we do at least have another new product from the brand. This time we have these New M&Ms Cake Bars, which were found in Morrisons. They packet consists of 5 individually wrapped cake bars. I loved the designs on the wrappers of the cake bars, the M&Ms characters are very bright and cheery.

The bars are coated in milk chocolate, have a thick soft layer of sponge and creamy fondant topping inside of which are spotted with coloured sugar crystals. The coloured bits in the filling are not mini M&Ms, they are just coloured sugar crystals which is such an opportunity lost. It means that there aren’t any actual M&Ms in the specifically M&Ms themed cake bars at all. I’ve been lucky enough to eat in a few posh restaurants and they tend to use the term deconstructed, when the take the idea of something and then reconfigure it, and that is as polite as I can be about this and its connection to actual M&Ms. Having said all that the cake bars are tasty, I like a mix of texture so the crunch was welcome in contrast to the soft fluffy sponge. They are a nice chocolate treat, which are smartly packaged, they are just lacking that key ingredient, M&Ms.

13 January 2019

RITZ - Chickpea Flour Thins - Sour Cream & Chives (@NLi10)

Ritz make crackers - they have done for 85 years according to the logo - but recently they have tried to modernise to keep up with the times.  Here we have a sharing bag (ha!) of chickpea flour thins, which are a slight tweak on the traditional recipe to add some nutrition.

RITZ - Chickpea Flour Thins - Sour Cream & Chives

The bag is three servings, which seems unlikely - I ate half a bag without thinking - but the nutrition values suggest that half a bag is still as good for you as a bag or regular crisps.

As we can see this is another product from the Mondelez brand that owns Cadbury's now, along with a lot of other favourites.  

Are these thin and crispy crackers likely to become a favourite?

Well, despite initial reservations they are pretty good.  I think that you'd be better off sticking these into hummus and having them with other toppings.  I ate them while binge watching American Office, so not quite a dinner party.  Still - they are tangy and satisfying here too.  I think the chickpea is more of a fun change to the recipe than something I'd notice without being told, and sour cream has never been my go-to flavour.  I'd actively seek out other flavours (at 99p a bag at the moment too on Ocado which seems fair for effectively two decent snacks).

Pop these in a bowl at a party, or just sit and eat them as if they were Mini Cheddars - I think they work well eitherway.  And if this is a 'better for you' recipe that doesn't hit the flavour or texture then I'm all for it.

12 January 2019

First World Problems Beer (Sainsburys) By @SpectreUK

First World Problems Beer

As you can see from the photographs of this 'First World Problems' beer that this lady is having car trouble. No Taxis available followed by the awkward silence and meaningless conversation that can arise from cadging a lift from a work colleague. I'm experiencing something of the same problem too. Well, car trouble rather than having to beg for a lift from a workmate. My seventeen year old car seems to have naturally come to the end of its life. I say 'naturally', because whilst I've not been driving it due to being on crutches for so long after an operation on my knee, the Autumn and Winter dampness has got into the electrics. My car is in the garage at the moment awaiting a verdict from a specialist car electrician, but the outlook right now does not look good…

Why am I telling you this? Well, I'm going to miss the old guy and its playing on mind. There's been good times and bad times over the years and my faithful reliable car has always taken us to them and brought us back again. If you're a regular reader or someone just stopping by, I appreciate your company at this time and any other time of course.

So, First World Problems is a Belgian India Pale Ale (IPA), produced by Stewart Brewing. At 6.2% volume it may help to drown some sorrows a little. I noted that the ingredients state that this IPA contains Barley, wheat, oats and rye. So is this a predominately malted barley beer; a red spicy rye beer; or a traditional Belgian wheat beer? There's only one way to find out, I guess… On opening the bottle there was a jumble of aromas. The malted barley comes first falling over a stack of spicy rye and then the wheat merges with some herbal hops. The one thing I couldn't really detect from these aromas was the pale malt. I'm sure it's there otherwise how could it be an IPA?

On taste the pale malt is much more in your face, which is good, because that's what I was hoping for. The rye has turned this ale a darker brownish tone and with no small amount of spice once my palate has got used to the pale malt. There is wheat and perhaps a little oats just before and merging with the light bitterness from the herbal hops and then into the aftertaste. This is a really tasty craft IPA, and a little warming with the spice from the rye, which is ideal for this time of year for chasing away some of that dampness, which… and I'll try not to swear… has messed up my poor old car!

11 January 2019

Lion Breakfast Cereal Bar (Poundland) by @Cinabar

Lion Breakfast Cereal Bar

First there was the Lion Chocolate Bar, then there was the Lion Breakfast Cereal and now we have the obvious natural progression the Lion Breakfast Cereal Bar. From Lion Bar straight to cereal bar would be a bit weird but since the breakfast cereal got released this seems quite normal. I found these in Poundland by the way, which is always home to some interesting new items and this wasn’t the only new breakfast cereal bars I purchased. More on that next week.
So these Lion Breakfast Cereal Bars look like they have compressed the Lion breakfast cereal together and semi coat the bar in a milk coating. I gave it a try and was impressed by the caramel flavour, this is the taste that stood out and it was sweet and creamy all at once. The chocolate flavour was milder, but added enough to the bar to give it a rich feeling. The texture was neither crisp and crunchy or too soft, but it didn’t quite feel as satisfying as I had hoped. The Lion chocolate bar is such a substantial thing I think I had hoped some of that would have come through in this version, but this was just simply easy to eat. I did like the flavour though, it was pleasingly sweet.
I’m not sure I can really tell you that if you like Lion Chocolate Bars that you will love these, they have an interpretation of the flavour but are quite a different product really. I think if you like the Lion breakfast cereal you should find these a good portable version. I find them handy to take to work and have with a morning coffee.

10 January 2019

Vegan sausages are the new rock & roll - even in sandwiches (@NLi10)

Well seeing as our review of the Greggs vegan sausage roll was so popular (it's good - you should read it) I decided to do something I'd not been brave enough to try yet - review the vegan version of the sausage sandwich that the hospital I work at sells.

Vegan sausages are the new rock & roll - even in sandwiches

I have the non vegan version (All Day Breakfast) quite often - mainly because I like egg and bacon sandwiches - but I'd never quite made it to this one.  Note I also had a nice wafer chocolate thing and a Pepsi too (shh... sugar is contraband).

It's not just sausage and bread though, this new manafacturer of hospital food is actually pretty good.  This one has some kind of red sauce and some leaves in it too.  Along with the healthier (and more ethically pleasing) vegan sausage this lettuce and onion chutney mix produces a very good flavour combo.  Frankly the quality of vegan sausages in general these days is probably higher than that of the meat ones.  The ones here are so 'sausagy' that I'll have to check my next all day breakfast sandwich to make sure they didn't just switch those over to vegan too.  And frankly I'd be ok with that - as long as they leave the bacon as is...

So another victory for the vegans, this is cheaper than the meat sandwiches and probably a little more exciting.  I know that this range has some very veggie sandwiches in it that I've only had once or twice so maybe this summer I'll branch out and try them again.

9 January 2019

Simmons Pork Crackling (Asda) By @SpectreUK

Simmons Pork Crackling

I have heard said that the best pork crackling is produced in the West Midlands. As I've lived in the West Midlands all my life I've found it a rare occurrence not to like a bag of pork crackling with my beer in a pub, or a large bag or two small bags poured out into a bowl and eaten with my lunch after a good turn at the gym. I also like to dip pork crackling into apple sauce, as apple sauce and pork go very well together. I'm not sure how G. Simmons & Sons' Pork Crackling, from Walsall, has eluded me until now, but these little 20g blue bags contain some of the best pork crackling I have had the pleasure to eat.

Pork Crackling are seasoned fried pork rinds. It states on the packet that they are "only suitable for people with strong healthy teeth." I wouldn't like to tempt fate here, as a few months ago a broke a tooth on a rather hard pork scratching, but these Pork Crackling are some of the easiest pork rinds I've eaten. Yes, they have a good crunch to them, but they almost immediately melt in my mouth. It must have something to do with the frying. They are lusciously salty and super porky tasty. I probably should have written about them a few weeks back, as they have now taken over as my regular brand of pork crackling in the house. So no more broken teeth… well, fingers crossed anyway!

Information on the packet;
There are 6 x 20g packets in a pack. Per 100g there are 701 calories, with 62.9g of fat, less than 0.1g of sugar, and 0.815g of salt. Ingredients included; pork rinds, salt, flavour enhancer E621, and hydrolysed vegetable protein.

8 January 2019

Raspberry Coca Cola Zero Sugar (Asda) By @Cinabar

Raspberry Coca Cola Zero Sugar UK

There was a time, and I only mean a couple of years ago, when the only way to get a new flavour of Coca Cola was to go into Five Guys and play with their drinks machine. If you haven’t tried it, it basically has a huge mix of drinks and then an array of extra flavours you can add in and experiment with. The burgers are pretty good too!
See: https://www.foodstufffinds.co.uk/2015/04/burger-fries-and-diet-orange-coke.html
Coca Cola have been good to us though in more recent times, we even had a seasonal Cinnamon Coke for Christmas which was a first. The new year has seen the launch of this new Raspberry Coca Cola Zero which is sugar free. The vast majority of the new flavours of Coke have been in the Diet or Zero format presumably down to the sugar tax.
This drink did not disappoint, the flavour was remarkably well balanced with the cola taste. Raspberry is zingy and fresh and combined with Cola both enhanced each other. I loved the fruity twist. I found myself enjoying this drink more than a previous favourite of Cherry Coke, which is my go to flavour. The slightly sharper berry taste was magic, and I absolutely loved tit. I know it is new for the New Year but frankly I hope Raspberry Coca Cola Zero Sugar stays around for some time, its fresh and tangy and my favourite Coke to date.

7 January 2019

Limited Edition Viennetta Chocolate and Orange (Asda) By @Cinabar

Limited Edition Viennetta Chocolate and Orange

We bought this Limited Edition Viennetta Chocolate and Orange ice cream cake before Christmas and popped it into the freezer and then pretty much forgot about it. It was a pleasant surprise to stumble across it after a conversation about whether or not there were Yorkshire Puddings in the freezer (there were) but it meant we rediscovered this ice cream cake at the bottom of a drawer.
I totally accept that this was meant as a treat for Christmas, but frankly January has already been a tough month and finding a Limited Edition Viennetta Chocolate and Orange ice cream cake was an excuse to cheer ourselves up. The ice cream cake is made up of waves of chocolate and orange ice cream over layers of thin dark chocolate. We plated some up, and began to reminisce about the 1980s when Viennetta was the dessert of choice, second only to butterscotch Angel Delight.
I really enjoyed my slice of this ice cream cake, there was plenty of chocolate flavour but I felt the orange taste was rather subdued. It was present, but they had stayed on the side of safe, and not gone too zingy with the flavour. I still enjoyed my slice very much, and even tipped it on the side to that I could eat it along the breaks of the chocolate slithers, like I used to when I was a kid. If you see this Limited Edition Viennetta Chocolate and Orange ice cream in the freezer cabinets I’d pick one up, it is a nice twist on a classic dessert, and I suspect it won’t be around for long.

6 January 2019

Yes, but are the Greggs Vegan sausage rolls actually any good? (@GreggsOfficial) by @NLi10 (not @piersmorgan )

At the start of the year everyone releases diet based food so that people who want to atone for the festive excesses can feel like they at least tried.  This year 'Veganuary' is the big theme, and people who think that flexitarian is a real thing have declared that they will eat slightly more vegan things than they do in a typical January.  None of these people ever mention that chips are vegan.

I have my own live-in vegetarian, and I tend to cook a decent amount of the meals so at home we use a lot of the meat substitutes like Quorn.  When Greggs announced that they were doing a vegan sausage roll my main surprise was that there wasn't already one, and that it had taken this long to get there.  I don't think it really blew up on Twitter until one of the British versions of the Kardashians (a gent called Piers Morgan) said he didn't approve. Then everyone had to jump on the bandwagon and join in with the taking of sides, so inevitably I'm having to review it.  It's the post-Christmas lull though so frankly I'm ok with that.


This is a Greggs.  For those that don't know the UK too well it's basically the HMV of the bakery sector, reducing choice and helping to push little independent chains off the high streets of bigger cities.  I miss being able to get lots of different options from each bakery, but at least they do the best Egg Custards in Britain and you can usually get a steak bake.  Heck - at least it's not a Tesco Metro.

And here is the view of the rolls themselves (Cinabar took this - thanks!).  On the top shelf we have a nicely shaped golden vegan sausage roll.  Below we have a slightly overcooked meat version - but it is 5p less! (20p if you eat in - for that luxury Greggs dining experience).

Greggs Vegan sausage rolls - Veganuary

As someone who has reviewed a lot of vegan food (most of the things I cook at home are vegan until my partner adds cheese on hers) I think I am uniquely positioned to judge where this particular snack falls in relation to other items.  But lets get this out of the way first - I'm not a fan of the normal Greggs sausage rolls.  I used to be when I was little and didn't like to explore the whole hot cabinet.  Now I look down upon the humble sausage rolls and gravitate towards the steak bakes and other square delights.  Even though these will almost certainly burn you with their gravy, the actual meaty bits and occasional veg actually feel like a meal.  The sausage rolls are not, being purely for people looking for an inbetween meals snack.

The vegan sausage rolls then really don't have much to beat.  And as predicted they sail onwards into the more difficult to beat snacks.

Greggs Vegan sausage roll - Veganuary

If vegan food was safe, why would they put injury and hazard warnings on the bag? 

The latice work is great, I know that means you get less pastry but it means it's not as sweaty and has cooled quite evenly.  This means each bit is crisp, with a (very) soft centre.  The vegetarian had a bite too (she doesn't like things that try to taste like meat) and seemed to enjoy it but refused further bites.

The inside is Quorn based, but is Greggs own recipe that they say has taken years to perfect.  It's basically soft, salty Quorn.

And don't get me wrong, this is what I expected and it tastes good, but I'd expected them to find a little more firmness or finesse along the way.  Maybe they will do luxury sausage rolls if this takes off (as the It Boy Piers pointed out, most people are still on their first roll - will they buy a second?).

There are lots of terrible vegan sausages out there, and this is not one of them.  Linda McCartney's efforts are always dry and lifeless.  Heck, some of Quorns own offerings are not to be repeated.  This though is pretty decent, worth the £1 asking price, and to be repeated for sure.

But unfortunately for Greggs there is a little company called Fry's and they also make Vegan sausage rolls - and they easily outperform this.  You can get them from the frozen section of Holland & Barrett or Ocado and you instantly can boast that your cafe/bakery has better vegan rolls.  It won't take long before one of the other bakery chains on the high-street figures this out and... oh - Greggs pushed them all out - well played Greggs.  This does mean that you can take some decent vegan food home with you from town (their vegan chicken nuggets are frankly amazing) and impress people who bring up the Greggs rolls in conversation with your diverse food stocks.

Thing is though.  January is a bit cold, and if I was going to Greggs for my lunch I'd still probably get a steak bake (and the three pack of Egg Custards).  Now though, I have the option to get a nice vegan sausage roll as a snack (or a starter) which can only be a good thing. And if they use this newfound recipe to make a vegan bake then I'll possibly get those too.

I may be flippant about it, but showing people that vegan options aren't scary (or even a lot of times different enough to be interesting) is great.  It saves our planet a little bit (I mean - we are already doomed, but it's nice to try) and reduces some of the burden on the NHS by getting us to eat nutrients.  Pizza Hut have also launched more vegan options, middle class people like Pizza Express and Pieminister have had ace vegan options for years (see Kevin for example).  Even Cornetto have a vegan option!!  And like I said - chips are vegan, and they aren't scary either.

There is also an alcohol free version of Veganuary called Dryanuary, so next week I'll be eating an alcohol free sausage roll instead.

5 January 2019

Citrus Wave Lager (Aldi) By @SpectreUK

Citrus Wave Lager

It's been a dim, cold damp and dreary start to the year, so I thought I'd try to cheer things up a bit by choosing a bright and colourful beer. Citrus Wave is a dry-hopped lager from The Great British Brewing Company's guest brewer Sadler's Brewery. On the label there is a palm tree on a sandy beach and a giant (albeit friendly) looking wave just about to wash ashore. The label states that there is intensely bitter aromas of grapefruit, tangerine and Mediterranean lemon for a fruity and then malty finish. Mmm… sounds good, especially with my usual tuna sandwich on a Saturday!

Okay, so on opening this 4.5% volume lager there wasn't much of the traditional fizz, but there certainly was some fruity zesty citrus aromas. On pouring this light bubbly lager the citrus aromas more merged than battled each other for a kind of pseudo grapefruit, tangerine and lemon drink you might find in a Mocktail bar, but with the smell of a sweet barley malt right behind it.

On taste this golden lager is every bit the classic hoppy fruity spring summer chilling in a hot garden with a good book beer (or on a sandy beach, I guess) that you may expect it to be from its name. Citrus wave it certainly is. The citrus bitterness from the hops hit my tastebuds first with a refreshing slap of predominately grapefruit, then a dash of bitter lemon, and a little tangerine. The sweet malted barley almost pounces on this fruity concoction to remind me almost instantaneously that this is a beer, and a good one at that, not one of those Mocktail jobbies for those who don't like the golden good life! Cheers, and bring on some sunshine!

4 January 2019

M&Ms Chocolate Eggs (Waitrose) By @Cinabar

M&Ms Chocolate Eggs

I have written here a lot about my frustration with M&Ms in the UK. Knowing that across Europe and America there is a variety of flavoured and seasonal versions of these chocolates I have become very annoyed with the complete lack of interest in developing this any further in the UK. I’ve seen from import shops Birthday Cake flavour, Coconut, Pretzel and even Strawberry With Peanut Butter, in the UK, if we are lucky, we get a new nut, or mainly just specific coloured ones in a bag. However browsing the, dare I say it, Easter section in Waitrose I saw a new M&Ms product and here we have: M&Ms Chocolate Eggs. Okay, so no new flavour, these are just milk chocolate, but there is a new shape. I know, I had to calm myself down with a cup of tea in the Waitrose cafe.

M&Ms Chocolate Eggs

The eggs are at least pretty, they are neatly speckled and imprinted with the trademark “M” on each one. The shell is pleasingly crunchy and the chocolate is the standard one you’d find in the normal chocolates. It isn’t quite as creamy as Cadbury Mini Eggs, but it is still rather nice. These are fun for Easter, I just wish they had gone all out and given us something with a bit more of a wow factor. Any chance of Hot Cross Bun flavour M&Ms next year? Should I start a petition?

3 January 2019

Ragu - creamy Tomato & Vodka (by @NLi10)

Today we look at another quick sauce for effective mealtimes. It’s a creamy tomato and vodka sauce!

While it says it’s a microwave sauce I’m going to throw it in with the Quorn and see how it goes.

Apparently the vodka brings out the flavour in the tomatoes. Like a Bloody Mary then!

Can you tell I accidentally dropped the packet in the pan? It smells very good though - even though it does look very pale!

And here is the finished product. I think I’d rather have had it with tagliatelle in hind sight, and maybe chicken for a more authentic NY Italian experience, but it was good. I did want to add a dash of tobasco like in the drink, but really the alcohol itself had vanished and just the flavours were left.  I’d eat this again!