31 May 2019

Cabdury Choc Shake for Milkshakes (Asda) By @Cinabar

Cabdury Choc Shake for Milkshakes

When I first bought this tub of Cabdury Choc Shake Spectre thought it was hot chocolate at first glance, which is an easy mistake to make as it is in a very similar tub. This is actually a tub of powdered chocolate milkshake mix. With a hot weekend ahead promised we decided to try it out.

So I took a glass and filled it with milk, after all the front of the tub said “swirl into cold milk”. This was my first mistake, believing that label on the tub. The only option I had next was to add the powder to my glass of milk and stir, and I was a little shocked at the mess that I managed to make. The more I stirred the powder which was sitting on top of the milk the more the powdered over flowed and scattered onto the kitchen table. I was trying to work out what I had done wrong, so I took a further look at the tub, this time on the back. Here it says the opposite, it says to put the powder in first and mix it with a small amount of milk and create a paste, then add the rest of the milk. Thanks packaging for you help and contradiction. How is that "swirl into cold milk"?

Given where I was with this all I could do was carry on stirring, I did so a lot, but the side of the glass and top never got passed moderately lumpy. I did get bored with it though, well I got to a point where I thought it was as good as it was going to get in terms of being mixed. Then I cleaned the kitchen table to remove the powder debris that had worked its way out of the glass. Then I washed the rather sticky spoon and put that to soak as it had attracted sticky lumps of powder. Then I made sure my hands where free of the chocolate mess that had somehow got under my nails. I then used kitchen paper to wipe the side of the glass, to try and reduce the chances of getting further chocolate all over my hands for a second time or worse on my my top. Then I could relax with my milkshake, after all the hassle.

So I gave it the taste test, but have to admit to not being in the mood by the time I tried it. The flavour, for the bits that weren’t lumpy, was nice. It was not especially Cadbury flavoured, but it was sweet chocolatey and pleasant, because it was made with a powder there was a residue at the bottom, where the last mouthful was thicker and a bit lumpy. Perhaps this wouldn’t have happened if I had made the paste, but I’m not sure I can be bothered to try it again. Milkshake syrups are available from other brands, put a small splash in a glass, add milk, quick stir and it is job done. I’ll be sticking to liquid milkshake syrups this summer, rather than literally sticking to this one.

30 May 2019

SKwishEE machine that appeared in our Nissa by @NLi10

We often pop into the Nissa that is the nearest to our hospital.  It got ram-raided once but has been rebuilt now.  Today we spotted this monstrosity.

It makes the normal drinks fridges and options look positively tame.  It has three flavours, two sizes and a choice of plastic or edible straws!

It's disappointingly sugar free but that's probably for the best given it's proximity.

£3 gets you the daddy size drink - which you serve yourself and follow the instructions.  If you are like me you also instinctively make a seal with the top hole and the nozzle causing a massive pressure buildup in the cup. oops.  I went for the blue raspberry and a topper of the pink strawberry.

I also paid 30p extra per straw for edible straws.  They may be made of sugar or just odd compressed plant, but they worked well.

They even absorbed the properties of my comrades drink and turned funny colours without going soft.  Unfortunately while it is possible to eat them they were not actually that nice.  I binned both of the second halves of mine - which while technically not as bad for the environment was still a bit wasteful.  Two was also excessive as the drink was not as thick as I'd expected.

The day wasn't all that hot really and it was basically just cold water at the end.  Nice though - the drink itself had good fruity flavours (as oddly did the straws, it was just crunching them that was unpleasantness)

My verdict is that we are likely to get the drinks again (maybe less sure on the mango) and just be sure to recycle the straw (I insisted on taking everyones cups back to recycle too).

A little expensive, but the machine is very fun to use so a nice treat item.

29 May 2019

Golden Pork Crunch (Poundland) By @SpectreUK

I'm still building up the muscles around my fairly recently operated on knee. I go to the gym six days a week. After some trials that saw me totally overdoing it and descending on what seemed to be a helter skelter of pain into hell's torture chamber, I seem to have now settled into a routine of muscle building weight lifting one day and then pure cardio the next. My NHS surgeon in Oswestry, who has been giving me excellent aftercare, agreed that some research shows this is the best way to gain muscle and also lose weight. Losing weight is something he's very keen on me doing, as he mentions it every time I have an outpatient appointment with him. Only trouble is, although I seem to have lost quite a bit of fat now, I have gained more muscle, which has made me several pounds heavier!!

Anyway, when you're building muscle, as most people will tell you, large amounts of protein is required to help mend the muscles after weight lifting. I bulk a little at the rather revolting looking protein shakes the proper weight lifters seem to drink at the gym. I prefer a tin of tuna on a sandwich when I get home, a protein heavy Icelandic yoghurt, and maybe some pork scratchings. We all need some fat in our diets as well, and a bit of a treat after doing a lot of weights is a bonus. The Real Pork Crackling Co. have brought out these Golden Pork Crunch, which are high in protein and not too tough on the teeth. They are served in roughly three centimetre flat crisp-like squares. They taste meatier somehow than other pork crunches I've had in the past. It must be something to do with the seasoning. It tastes more like salty pork crackling, which I'm sure some may agree, is one of the best flavours in the world!

Information on the packet;
The 35g packet contained 520 calories per 100g, with 26.2g of fat, less than 0.1g of sugar, 2.7g of salt and 69.7g of protein. Please see photograph for ingredients.

28 May 2019

Starburst Fruit Chews Minis Unwrapped (Poundland) By @Cinabar

So following on from yesterday’s post about Jameson’s Peppermint and Coconut Ruffles, this was the other Foodstuff Finds I made in Poundland, these Starburst Fruit Chews Minis Unwrapped. You say Starburst I will always hear Opal Fruits, because I’m old. :-D
Anyway this new product is in the popular grab bag format, so it is easy to share. When I realised that the sweets were unwrapped I did worry a little, who hasn’t struggled to get the paper wrappers off some of the full full size Starburst sweets, especially if they have been exposed to the warmer weather. I was half expecting the bag to have its contents stuck together in one big lump, but thankfully it did not.
There are four varieties in the pack and I decided to start with the pink one, strawberry. Now the flavour was very familiar sweet and strong in taste but the texture was tougher and chewier than normal Starbursts. The flavour was still zingy, but some of the “mouth watering” feeling was gone. It was the same with the other flavours. The blackcurrant variety was sharp, the orange sweet and very much full of citrus tang, as was the lemon and lime which was very refreshing. All the flavours were good and enjoyable, I just didn’t get on with the texture. They reminded me of the no shell Skittles which are also available in Poundland in grab bags, they too were chewy and a little hard. Think I’d rather be treating myself to a pack of the real things over these, the full size are pretty easy to share too.

27 May 2019

Jameson’s Peppermint & Coconut Ruffles (Poundland) By @Cinabar

Until I started working in my current organisation I had no idea people had such strong feelings about coconut. What is not to love, coconut is sweet, creamy and tropical tasting but where I currently work there are people who hate the stuff and can’t understand how anyone could every put a Bounty bar on the market. I think it is the texture they don’t like, but to be honest they don’t see to like the flavour either. Apparently it is the marmite of the select box. I however love coconut (in flavour and texture), but when I saw these Jameson’s Peppermint and Coconut Ruffles in Poundland my only thought was why would they mix coconut and peppermint it sounded like such an odd combination.
The brand looks like a very classical make, but I don’t recall seeing these particular sweets before. I opened up the bag and found smart green shiny wrappers containing individual chocolates. I gave one a try and found that peppermint was the flavour of the day. These chocolate had a lovely delicious peppermint taste, that was sweet and refreshing, followed by a nice hit from the dark chocolate coating them. Although the texture is very much that of a coconut fondant, with its almost crunchy tactile filling, the flavour of coconut only comes through at the very end in the aftertaste. Apart from structure I found the coconut seemed to be a bit lost, but as someone who enjoys peppermint creams I was more than happy to munch on these Jameson’s Peppermint and Coconut Ruffles. In the battle of peppermint versus coconut peppermint is very much the winner, and that really isn’t a bad thing.

26 May 2019

Almighty Foods Raw CBD vegan wholefood chocolate (@Holland_Barrett) by @NLi10

I'm often in town with a general panic that I don't have anything interesting to write about for this weeks review.  Luckily we have about 4 Holland & Barrett in Birmingham and they usually have quirky things to write about.

Take this Almighty Foods Raw CBD vegan wholefood chocolate - this product scores so highly on Hipster Bingo that organic got relegated to the flip-side.  99% organic, and everything is compostable and sustainable.  No guilt chocolate is always a win.

CBD is very much on the rise still, the store has gone from one little bottle on the counter to a whole section in maybe a year.  It's a big deal considering you can't officially say it has any health benefits!

Me? I like the stuff as it takes the edge off my arthritis - at least certain blends and compounds do, it's pretty bad science assuming that all the different parts of the CBD spectrum automatically do the same thing.  Here though they explicitly say it's full spectrum, so short of requesting the lab reports (which I've done for a few companies so far just to see what works for me) you know it's got a bit of everything.

10mg is the amount in the tablets I take most days, so stopping for a day to try this seems fair and fine.

And it's expensive (everything to do with CBD is) at £2 for 30g of chocolate, but it's at least packaged in a luxury way.  Importantly though they've managed to mask the sprout taste that CBD has so like the gummies that some people seem determined to give to their kids this is a very palatable and grown up way to try CBD.

And it's nice.  Thats the most important thing.  The chocolate has a fruityness that reminds me of raw cacao bars that I used to buy, and the texture is crumbly enough to keep me interested.  I ate all 30g to my self in one sitting and neither felt short-changed or over full.

I'm not sure I've given it long enough to see if it has the usual effect, but as a way to eat CBD while out without worrying about chasing it with food or popping pills this is a very welcome option.

I'll keep you posted on how it went.

25 May 2019

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA Beer (Discover Brew) By @SpectreUK

I just received a new box from Discover Brew that replaced the last one that was mostly full of out of date beer, after sitting on a shelf somewhere for too long waiting for the competition to close. Fortunately all the beers were in date this time, so I'll probably write about more of them in the weeks to come.

This 7% volume Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company, in California, promises a bitter sting like the fish on the back of the can. It's been hopped at five different stages during the brewing and the can promises citrus hoppy flavours of apricot, peach, mango, and lemon. Sculpin fish are both fresh water and salt water fish seemingly waiting in shallow water for someone to step on them. They are also known as sea scorpions because of the poisonous spines on their back.

On opening the can there was a strong sweet malty and almost fruity citrus smell from the contents. The deep golden India Pale Ale pours with a decent frothy head. On taste there's the unmistakable sweet pale malt to begin with, followed by a light painless sting from the citrus hops. I wouldn't say I could pick out all the fruits that were mentioned on the can, and thankfully no mango, but there is a definite flavour of apricot to the bitter hops that followed my tastebuds into the aftertaste. I'd wouldn't like to meet a sea scorpion in a shallow pool, but I would definitely like to sit on a sunny beach drinking a few of these Sculpin IPAs.

24 May 2019

Original Peperami Pasty Rolls (Asda) By @cinabar

Disclaimer alert, I haven’t eaten a Peperami in years. I remember liking them when I last had one, but not actually buying one for a long time. Well they have a new product out so I couldn’t resist. I spotted these Peperami Pasty Rolls on the Asda website and realised it was a packet of three of what looked like sausage rolls (from the preview). When they arrived the packaging didn’t give much away as each of the Peperami Pasty Rolls is sealed in a foiled pack. I decided to take one to work to have as a lunch with a side serving of soup.
My work colleagues will tell you that I can tell you when it is lunch time with looking at a clock, because I get hungry. Admittedly this sometimes happens at 11am, but it is rarely late. At midday I eagerly opened up the Peperami Pasty Roll packet and have to say I was disappointed. The roll was both thinner and shorter than expected. The image on the pack made the pastry look thick and fluffy, the reality wasn’t so appealing. I guess it had to be thin because it is made with a thin Peperami stick, but I just hadn’t thought this through. I decided to zap the Peperami Pasty Roll in the microwave, although heating was optional according to the instructions.

I gave the Peperami Pasty Roll a taste and wasn’t overly impressed. The small pasty roll had left grease on my fingers for a start. The Peperami part was nice, I liked the spicy meat flavours, if only because they reminded me of the real full sized thing. There was a little chilli heat and the familiar spiced sausage was nice. The whole point of this though was the pastry and it was a little flat and a little oily. The item was too small to be satisfying, and I found it a bit disappointing. I was glad of the thick bean soup I’d also taken for lunch. I’m aware I have another two in the fridge to eat up, but honestly I think I’d happily trade them for a proper Peperami stick.

23 May 2019

Iberian Eurovision 2 - Peri Peri crisps & Chocolate (@LidlUK) by @NLi10

Today we return to our Eurovision haul, on the day that Britain goes to the polls to send some politicians (and some clueless populists) to sit in the EU parliament.

This time - crisps!

Peri Peri is still very popular due to Nandos and these have a nice flavour to them but they are less spicy than Medium.

They are made in the UK which I'm fine with, the spices probably aren't.  They are also vegan friendly which is nice.

Decent second tier crisps too - not quite Kettle Chips, but not Walkers.  And mostly they were intact for maximum crunch.

This was also intact.

Look at those lovely sliced up tiffin-style fingers (in front of the Italian entry that came 2nd)

They didn't slice ours for us though - its one chonky block!!

Adding violence produces something similar to a rice-rispy cake and it's very easy to eat a lot in one sitting!  It's big enough to share though.

And that's Eurovision over for another year.  Neon shutter shades now have to be stored away, ready for next year's voting controversies in Amsterdam.

22 May 2019

Say Aloe (@DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

I have a confession. This Say Aloe, Aloe Vera drink with reduced sugar has sat in the fridge for the best part of a year or more. It's now on date. I meant to write about it some time ago. I really did… but it's never appealed to me. I was checking the dates on my beer cans and bottles within my cavernous beer fridge the other day with my administrative assistant (Cinabar) adding date labels on them for me. I had to literally dust off this bottle of Aloe Vera drink. I checked its date and it ends today. So here we are…

On opening the 500ml bottle this Aloe Vera drink smells slightly floral and with grape at the back of the aroma. On pouring the liquid is slightly yellow, which is discouraging to say the least, and has small pieces of diced Aloe Vera floating ominously within it. This drink does not look appetising. What with the off yellow colour and the little pieces that look like pond life floating around in it, I'm not sure why I'm about to taste it…

... Oh yes, I've already written quite a few words so it's just too late to go back…

Wow! On taste this drink tastes completely different to anything I expected! It actually tastes like a liquid form of children's grape sweet, mixed with Aloe Vera. Not the grape sweets that taste of weird chemicals though… but actual grape favour. The bits of Aloe Vera somehow add to the liquid children's sweet texture too. Say Aloe is also packed full of vitamin C, which battles tiredness and helps to keep you healthy from colds. I seriously don't know why I didn't drink this Say Aloe before now!

21 May 2019

Hot Dog Pizza (Papa Johns @PapaJohnsUK) By @Cinabar

We fancied a takeaway and following an email advert from Papa Johns we decided to settle on pizza. The email is advertising their new Papa Johns Hot Dog Pizza, and this sounded like the perfect excuse for a takeaway. Admittedly we don’t need much of an excuse. It did lead me to think though that this is a hot dog pizza and that there is nobody local to us who deliver hot dogs on their own as a takeaway. We have several pizza places, fish and chips, Chinese, fried chicken and even a Japanese (I say even as we live in the sticks), but nobody delivering hot dogs. Hopefully this pizza would be the next best thing. This is one of those ‘when snacks collide’ combos, and I love both pizza and hot dogs sp couldn’t wait to give it a try.
The Papa Johns Hot Dog Pizza consists of sliced hot dog pieces, onions and a topping of ketchup and a mustard drizzle. The minute the box was opened the aroma was very much that of a hot dog stand and I found myself smiling to myself. The pizza is very tasty, the onions and hots dogs do make a good topping, and thankfully the mustard isn’t too strong. The onions were almost crispy which was nice for the texture. The ketchup give a lovely sweet base flavour and we all enjoyed the pizza.
In conclusion this Papa Johns Hot Dog Pizza gets the thumbs up from me, not just as a substitute for hot dog deliveries in my area but as a mighty fine pizza in its own right. It has flavours that work together well, and I’ll be sad if this disappears off the menu.

20 May 2019

Strawberry Cold Brew Coffee (Costa) By @Cinabar

I have to admit it wasn’t really hot enough for an iced coffee but curiosity got the better of me. I decided to try this new Strawberry Cold Brew Coffee with my lunch in Costa. I love coffee and I love strawberry, but I wasn’t sure how the two would go together.
This Strawberry Cold Brew Coffee is made without milk, but had a lovely froth from the process on top and was served with ice. I gave the drink an initial sip and found myself confused. There was a strong coffee taste and a sweetness from strawberry, and the two flavours were a bit weird together. The strawberry wasn’t overly sweet, some syrups can be very sugary. There was however a mix of bitter and sweet and they weren’t natural friends. My first sip I was very negative about the drink, but by the end of the glass it sort of grew on me and I felt like I could appreciate the combination.
In conclusion I think I just couldn’t get my head around the combination of flavours. I certainly didn’t dislike it, but I’m not convinced I liked it enough to rush to have it again. For all the weird syrups I’ve had in coffee I think this might be the first I haven’t been excited by. I would say it is worth trying the drink as it is very different to other syrup coffees on the menu, and I suspect for some that more muted sweetness may be perfect. It is like trying sweet and salty popcorn for the first time, not what you expect but you might end up loving it.

19 May 2019

Iberian Eurovision part 1 - Spanish bread & olives (@LidlUK) by @NLi10

We love EuroVision.  Even with it's vote swapping jurys and our delegations insistence on sending media students instead of viable acts.  It's all about coming together with friends and celebrating diversity.

Lidl had a big range of Iberian snacks with lovely bright packaging and exotic names. 

So - with neon glasses on - we are ready for Eurovision 2019!

First up we tried the tomato and oregano toast.  It's like a pizza without the cheese, and much crunchier.

Just like the neon shades the bread isn't as exciting in person - but it does taste great.  The tomato is more like a soup flavour than the fruit so I suspect they have tweaked it a little, but it tastes fab!  

There are more of these left to eat and I'm looking forwards to them which shows that they are decently compelling snacks, if only bread and tomato.

We also had a mighty jar of olives!

This represents 22 servings of olives, but we got no where near this far as these are 'whole' with stones and not chopped and stuffed and marinated like the other olives on the table were!

One for further investigation in the future then, but largely untouched on the night.

18 May 2019

Mangoes on the Run - Beer (Aldi) By @SpectreUK

The name of this limited edition mango IPA amused Cinabar so much that she bought it and decided to torture me with it. I'm not a fan of mangos, unless they're in a chutney next to a decent spicy curry. Putting mango in beer seems sacrilege to me, but hey-ho! Innis & Gunn are a favourite brewery of mine, so this can't be all that bad, can it?

It states on the side of this 5.6% volume mango IPA that whilst drinking, you should listen to Son of a Gun by JX. My initial reaction to this was some impolite swear words, but it didn't take long to find it on YouTube. It's actually a classic and took me straight back to 1994, a favourite year of mine, a coming of age year so to speak. I finally reached manhood, as well as danced and drank most nights away. I certainly don't remember anything like mango IPAs in those days!

There was a fruity yet mild mango smell on opening the beer that struggled to win through against some pretty strong herbal hops, with a little sweetness from the barley malt at the back of the aroma. On taste is where it gets a bit whacky. You see everything seems to be trying to happen at the same time. There's mango. There's herbals hops. There's pale malt and sweet barley malt. It's a bit of a jumble. Mangoes on the Run is a beer like no other. It's like running at a crowded doorway and everyone or every flavour falls through it all at the same time. It certainly woke me up from a dozy afternoon resting after a morning at the gym!

17 May 2019

Cadbury Double Decker Ice Cream (Asda) By @Cinabar

I do like a Double Decker chocolate bar, I’d say they were one of my favourite Cadbury’s chocolate bars. I tend to buy whatever is new chocolate wise, but if I had to go back to a classic I think I’d happily pick this one. Although there hasn’t been a new or limited edition Double Decker bar the next best thing is this Cadbury Double Decker ice cream, especially as the weather seems to be brightening up. There may have been a spot of rain this week but there was sunshine too, so that is always a good time to buy some new ice cream.

I like bright colours and this tub of ice cream is certainly that. Even with some frost on the side that packaging was glowing. Inside the tub there were two distinct colours, a beige and chocolate, but once served three sections became more apparent, and a darker beige appeared.

The chocolate ice cream was decent and had a plentiful supply of chocolate pieces. There was a nougat core that was supposed to have a different texture, but to me was only a little bit thicker than normal and a nougat flavour ice cream complete with crispy cereal. I have to say I was totally impressed that the crispies remained crisp, usually those sorts of things goes soggy in an ice cream, but the crisp texture was a pleasure and was impressive. The taste of the nougat was spot on too, creamy and made this distinctively a Double Decker in taste. Definitely worth checking out this Cadbury Double Decker Ice Cream if you are a fan of the bar.

16 May 2019

Strawberry Dream - Roses Cake Bars (@NLi10)

When I was a small person Roses were the height of luxury. Short of getting a proper box of chocolates that Roses selection box was the pinnacle.  Sure you may see Thornton’s in a few more expensive places, but a tiny box of these or Quality Street was the top.

Now, like the Cornetto, the brand has fallen a long way and become commonplace. It does mean that we get a few interesting hybrids - where Cadbury’s will now use these brands and flavours on other products - like these cake bars.

They are standard Cadbury cake bars in new wrappers
Surely? Maybe that pink goo is special?

Nicely wrapped, but small for me.

The pink goo is indeed new and interesting, like a mouse version of the Roses chocolate. Interesting enough to try, but not world changing. Now - a cake bar selection pack with all the Roses flavours would get me excited...

15 May 2019

New Babybel Spirolls (Asda) By @SpectreUK

I've always been fond of Mini Babybels since I can remember. These Babybel Spirolls taste just like Mini Babybels, but are in a 'spiral' shape, hence the name… well sort of! There are five in a bag and they are roughly the same size as a Mini Babybel, so they should fit just as easily in any lunchbox. Having said that, they may not be as good for the environment as a normal Mini Babybel….

You see the Spiroll comes in a plastic container in a plastic packet, whereas a Mini Babybel is covered with wax, then wrapped in some plastic film, and sold in a plastic net bag. You may argue that the plastic net bag isn't good for wildlife, as well as the plastic bag for the Spirolls, but I guess we could argue what's good and bad for the environment all day, when I'm sure most people will agree that any form of non biodegradable plastic is bad for the environment. Most plastics decompose in landfill between 450 years to 1000 years. I know some plastics are supposed to be recycled, but lets face it, most of it seems to be dumped in our oceans and seas to choke our sea life and sea birds.

On taste I can say that Babybel Spirolls do taste just like a Mini Babybel. "So what's the point?" you may say. Or maybe I say, because I'm feeling grumpy about the whole plastic container side? Well, I guess it's supposed to be fun for kids to open yet more plastic that's probably going to end up choking a sea turtle, so they can unravel some cheese they might choke on themselves if their parents don't read the warning on the side of the bag to cut the Spirolls up into bite sized chunks? Perhaps the kid would like to grow up with sea turtles, and other sea life and sea birds still existing in their adulthood instead?

Information on the packet;

The 85g packet contains 5 Spirolls at 47 calories, with 3.1g of fat, traces of sugar, and 0.26g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.