31 August 2019

Running With Sceptres (Discover Brew) By @SpectreUK

No, it's not a spelling mistake. Although I must admit I did have an initial misread thinking it said "Running With Spectres"! If it did you'd have been reading about this India Pale Ale during Halloween.

Anyway, Running With Sceptres is a 5.2% volume IPA produced by Lost And Grounded Brewers, in Bristol. The back of the can rather helpfully told me that Pils, Vienna and Crystal malts were used in the brewing, as well as a combination of Magnum, Chinook, Mosaic, and Ella hops.

I don't know why seven fairly random animals are running up a hill carrying sceptres, or six animals chasing a particularly fast tortoise, depending on how you look at it. However, the Lost And Grounded website states that sceptres are usually reserved for royalty, so owning one must make these animals pretty special. Of course, all animals are special. Even the ones that scare us or irritate us with some sort of bizarre smell or noise.

This beer must be pretty special too, so I had to crack the can open. It was pretty excitable and blew up all over me. By quickly shoving the can opening in my mouth I managed to save most of it, accept for one or two drops on my hand and the floor.

Once the massive head had calmed down a little in my beer glass, this deep golden IPA had a strong hoppy aroma to it. I could smell the herbal strength of the strong Chinook hops poking its nose through the other hops and sweet malts. On taste Running With Sceptres has a strong bitter herbal smokiness to it. There must be a dominance of Chinook hops in the brewing. The other hops add to the herbal bitter flavours, just as the sweet malts soothed my tastebuds into the aftertaste.

This is a lovely beer, and unusually flavoured with its smokiness. I heartily recommend it. :-)

30 August 2019

4 Mer-Mazing Cones (Co-Op) By @Cinabar

4 Mer-Mazing Cones (Co-Op)

If it isn’t unicorns or llamas it is mermaids. These current in themes kind of work for decorated items, think mermaids and unicorns on back to school pencil cases, I’d be okay if they left it there. I know these are the “in” things at the minute. I get confused how this translates to food though and to be honest food manufacturers seem to have the same problem. When I was in the Co-Op this box of Mer-Mazing Cones caught my eye, it is vey pretty packaging and is pretty much advertising mermaid flavoured ice creams which was weird enough to make me pick them up. In Co-Op terms though this flavour translates to bubblegum, I have no idea how but I’m thinking I don’t think I could have come up with anything better or less random.

Out of the wrappers the cones are prettier still, the ice cream colours are of the sea and look very smart and marbled. There are sugar decorations that look like little pearls and the dark cone is very dramatic. The taste is as you could guess very sweet, the flavour of bubblegum is quite in your face but you get used to it as you munch. The sugar decorations feel more like wafers and they have a very light texture, and the cone itself adds an unexpected hit of chocolate, which I liked. The bubblegum sauce is where the strength of the flavour is, but it grew on me. I’m actually looking forward to the rest of the ice creams.
If I stop and try to work out how mermaids and bubblegum are related then these Mer-Mazing Cones annoy me, when I can let that go I think these are well decorated tasty treats.

29 August 2019

The best Spar in the World? Mozart's Spar - Salzburg (@NLi10)

Sometimes tourist hot-spots have been owned and protected by their founders since the beginning.  Motzart's Birthplace has essentially been a museum since the family moved to a nicer place on the other side of the river during his childhood - and yet...

Downstairs is a Spar! Now - ordinarily this would be a bit of a tacky cash in, but they have used the space well, sell lots of very welcome cold drinks and snacks and lots of themed things.  They even put Mozart on the receipt!

I suspect it's a franchised one that is actually owned and run by the museum and saves them having a cafe (although there is a cafe connected to it due to the way these historic buildings flow.

From the museum itself you get a lovely view of people taking selfies in front of the museum.  I did the same too but my hair was very bad that day :D

This was very early in the morning before I escaped for the train.

This selfie in the reflection of Wolfgang's dad's poster is the best you'll get today.  I also went to that museum on the same day (in the place they moved to, which is a lot bigger and quieter) but they did not have a Spar.

28 August 2019

Wild West Original Beef Jerky (Ocado) By @SpectreUK

This Wild West Original Beef Jerky has a "New Recipe". It says so on the packet. I'm probably reading too much into this, but I'm now not sure about the definition of "Original" in the title of this product. How can an "Original" flavour have a "New Recipe"? Also in my humble opinion; "Original" should mean "Original" flavour from way… way back in the Wild West when John Wayne was getting off his horse to drink his milk and shoot bad guys. So how can you have a "New Recipe" for an "Original" recipe and also "Legendary flavour" from the Wild West? Alternatively if it's the "Original" beef jerky from back in the Wild West and it had a "New Recipe" then, how come it's still in date? Pretty good shelf life…

It confused me even more when I flipped over the packet to find these "Wild West" Silverside steaks were marinated, smoked and cooked in the Scottish Highlands! Anyway… on opening the packet I have to say that these crisp sized flattened pieces of steak smelt divine. There was a juicy sweet and smoky barbecue smell from the open bag. I couldn't stop taking a whiff of them at first, and then I realised that I had to taste them. They are a little chewy to start with, but that should probably be expected from beef jerky. They have a strong smoky flavour to start with, and then the sweet barbecue marinade kicks in during the mouthwatering chewing of these beef jerky. I was certainly happy to have been to the gym in order to finish off these Original Beef Jerky with a New Recipe from the Wild West way over yonder in the Scottish Highlands!

Information on the packet;
This 70g packet contains 315 calories per 100g, 3.5g of fat, 20.6g of sugar, 3.6g of salt, and 37.8g of protein for those who are trying to fix their muscles after a workout at the gym (like me). Please see photograph for the ingredients.

27 August 2019

Mini Pop - Toffee (Popcorn Shed) By @Cinabar

I was very kindly gifted some of these new Mini Pop popcorn bags to try by Popcorn Shed. The idea is that these are made with a smaller “ancient grain” of white corn which creates a popcorn that is half the size of a regular piece. Apart from being cute and a novelty, these smaller pieces are easier to digest and (according to the text on the bag) they also don’t get stuck in your teeth.
I poured out the popcorn for sharing, although the whole bag only has 138 calories, so wouldn’t be too guilty if you were having it all to yourself. The popcorn is notably smaller, and the aroma of toffee was lovely. I gave one of the pieces a try and liked the flavour, the toffee was sweet but had a nice hint of salt to which enhanced the sugary flavour. These aren’t the toffee covered kind of popcorn, they are seasoned with toffee flavour instead. I found them tasty, but not too sweet. These are worth buying as a lower calorie treat.

The popcorn felt much the same as regular popcorn in terms of texture, both crispy and soft in places. This made them interesting to eat. I enjoyed munching on them and felt it was easy to eat and moreish. At the end of my bag I also found the packaging was correct, there were no bits stuck in my teeth which almost never happens with popcorn. This might well have nudged them into my first choice for popcorn. I can’t wait to try the other flavours.

26 August 2019

Ahoj Broase Himbeer Brause-Pulver (Germany) By @Cinabar

Ahoj Broase Himbeer Brause-Pulver

One of the lovely ladies at work brought me this strange sachet and told me that it made an instant fruit flavour drink. The text on the packet is german, and I could work out that it was powder (pulver) and raspberry (himbeer) flavoured. Apparently it was part of a twin pack, and that the other side had been green and I think her son had tried that one. She said it fizzed, so the only logical next step was to add it to water and see what happened, and of course drink it!

I opened up the sachet and could see pale crystals inside. I poured myself a glass of water and added the contents and the drink did indeed fizz as the powder was added, a little like sodium bicarbonate might. The top of the drink was bubbling away quite happily.

The drink also went a shade of pink darker that the crystals themselves were in the sachet. I gave it a try and the fizziness was very mild, there isn’t enough to make it feel like a regular glass of fizzy pop, but it is still there. The flavour was actually rather nice, it wasn’t as sweet as I imagined, the raspberry was quite zingy and refreshing. I actually liked it a lot, but I’m not sure where I would find any more? I think I had something similar once in Scotland, and a sachet of something similar in a ‘candy swap’ with someone from The States, I just can’t remember what either of those products were called. I might have to get searching.

25 August 2019

Austrian food & Beer in Salzburg (@NLi10)

I decided that the very Austrian place near my hotel would be a good place to have my last evening meal.  It always looked quiet but on going in the beer garden was rammed to capacity and only the inside bits were quiet. I was happy to sit inside and found myself a table in the Industrial Zone (they brew the beer here!)

And here is the beer - in a reusable bottle.  Well I did ask for the big one!

Already shaking clearly the bottle tells you a bit about the beer.  We don't care so much about that in the UK.

Drinking a beer that was made in the room you are in is quite cool though.

But what to eat!

I had the Schnitzel of course - as I wasn't getting off the train in Vienna it only seemed fair to have it here.

Look at that amazing veggie sauce!

And the flat pig was very good indeed.  I could have eaten here every night I suspect and had other regional delicacies.  Yum!!

The beer was pretty good too, it did taste quite crisp and fresh, but I'm really no expert there.

24 August 2019

Queen Bee English Ale (Aldi) By @SpectreUK

I am worried about my sweet tooth! I was searching in the cupboard for some marmalade earlier, as I wanted marmalade on toast and boiled eggs for a late breakfast. Instead I spied an unopened tin of treacle at the back of the breakfast cupboard and thought; "why not? I've been to the gym. I should have burned off and still be burning off enough calories for two pieces of toast covered in butter and treacle." So I did. I used to love treacle on toast when I was a lad. It was my favourite breakfast, now it's a Full English with all the trimmings, including black pudding and fried bread. However, today once I'd toasted, spread the butter and taken great joy in winding quite a few spoonfuls of treacle onto my toast, I took one bite and just wasn't that bothered. Cinabar has promised me some homemade flapjacks to further test my tastebuds, which I'm now rather looking forward too…

After all that rambling, I'm hoping I do like this Queen Bee Honeyed English Ale, from the Hogs Back Brewery. I've always loved honey brewed with beer, so I'm not too worried about my sweet tooth here. Having said that, I'd always loved treacle on toast too. On opening the bottle there was a sweet malted barley aroma, mixed with a hint of honey followed by herbal hops to finish. Mmm… my tastebuds were salivating, but they were for my treacle on toast earlier. This 4.2% volume deep golden almost brown ale oozes smooth sweet malty flavours to start with. The honey is well mixed in but clearly adds to the sweetness, whereas the hops have a light yet bitter flavour to finish into the aftertaste that left a little buzz on my tongue. Maybe the bee wants his honey back?

23 August 2019

Jammie Dodgers – Jam & Yoghurt Snacks (Tesco) By @Cinabar

It think it is fair to say I expected to dislike these Jammie Dodgers – Jam & Yoghurt Snacks. They struck me as a new product that wasn’t particularly related to the original. Yes they have jam, but the biscuit has changed format and shape and they have also added yoghurt to the filling. I guess they just seemed quite distanced from the original product, and frankly nobody should mess with the formula that makes a Jammie Dodger, it is a British icon after all. These aren’t replacing the traditional product they are just an extra product. The thing I do like about them is that they are packed in pairs, which means good portion control, an ability to put them in lunch boxes and the others stay fresh even after the box is open.

I was disappointed when I opened the box as the packets are quite small, I know you don’t get much for 96 calories. Inside the wrapper were were two thin biscuits with a pattern decorated on the top, and filling of jam and you could see some yoghurt hiding between the sides. I gave one a try and immediately loved them. The biscuit is thin and crispy, but did taste like Jammie Dodger biscuits. The jam really made the flavour too, the yoghurt was a bit more lost but these were such tasty treats that I just really loved them. I wouldn’t want to replace my regular biscuits with these but as a lighter alternative I’m more than happy with these.

22 August 2019

Austrian Pastries (@NLi10)

One of the great thing about mainland Europe is the pastries.  Instead of everywhere being a Greggs (sorry Gregg) you get lots of little places making exciting things that you can try - like all these!

So much crazy variety and necessary sugar.  There are sweet and savoury, bread and pastry and so many cakes that I didn't even dare look.

I chose this fruity thing.

Thats basically a turnover, but light and crispy with vanilla custard and actual raspberry fruit inside.  And it was amazing!  Refrigerating the pastries in the shop too means that you get a cool sensation from the filling which is most welcome in the 34 degree heat.  I miss all our little independent bakeries & patisseries we used to have in the UK. 

Actually tourist places like Lichfield and Stratford do have a better range of options. Maybe it's the tourism that keeps these places alive.

21 August 2019

Galaxy White Chocolate Chunk Cookies (By @SpectreUK)

I do enjoy a white hot chocolate drink every night after dinner. I used to have a black coffee, but found for some reason the caffeine at that time can give me nightmares. I like to eat some sort of chocolate bar or biscuits for desert, rather than a cake or something fairly healthy. I save the fruit for the daytime, pudding is supposed to be a treat. Having said that, I am quite partial to melons for breakfast, but enough said about that!

These Galaxy White Chocolate Chunk Cookies have recently been brought out by Mars Wrigley Confectionery. I've never seen Galaxy white chocolate before, so I'm intrigued as to what it will taste like, especially in cookies, which are usually a favourite biscuit of mine… well most biscuits are favourites of mine to be honest.

On opening the packet the smell of baked cookies and white chocolate filled my nostrils with a tantalising aroma. As you can see from the photograph, I was kind of hoping that for 114 calories these Galaxy White Chocolate Chunk Cookies would be a little bigger. There are eight cookies in the packet and I realised that as I'm trying to keep weight off my slowly decreasing tummy I'd have to share these. I don't want them to go soft, but I was hoping for maybe four so I could have two each day. Call me "selfish" (because I am, oh, and greedy… which doesn't help with the weight loss!), but I don't like sharing good food!

On taste these Galaxy White Chocolate Chunk Cookies are sublime. It's going to be very difficult to let some of these go to Cinabar and her mom. I am going to the gym tomorrow, so I can at least have more of them for pudding tomorrow night. These cookies have a decent crunch, melt in the mouth texture and the creamy white chocolate is just begging to be made into a chocolate bar. Go on Mars Wrigley, you know you want to make me one!

Information on the packet;
The 180g packet contains 114 calories per 22.5g cookie, with 5.9g of fat, 7.3g of sugar and 0.1g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.

20 August 2019

Habanero Hot Wings Ridge Cut Crisps (Marks and Spencer) By @Cinabar

My favourite flavour of crisps is chicken, but I like spicy crisps too so I couldn’t resist adding this bag of Habanero Hot Wings Ridge Cut Crisps to my basket as I was wandering around Marks and Spencer food hall, it seemed to be a good combination of flavours. Although I say I like spicy crisps my tolerance for chilli is average, I’m not one of these people who want the spice to set fire to my tastebuds. This meant that after I got home | found myself googling Habanero and discovering it is a “very hot” variety, and then trying to work out if I made the right decision about these crisps.
Being brave, and in the name of Foodstuff Finds, I found myself sharing some Habanero Hot Wings Ridge Cut Crisps out with lunch. The aroma from the bag was lovely, lots of nice spice. There is also some sushi in the photo, I picked that up too in Marks, I just couldn’t resist.

The crisps seem to vary in colour with some being very strongly seasoned with and other with less built up in the ridges. I went for the darkest crisp I could find and gave it the taste test. I found that the chilli isn’t strong, I think it would be pushing it to say it was a medium heat but for me that worked out well. The taste is a nice meaty chicken flavour, and lots of warmth from spices like paprika, a nice hit of tomato and a gentle bit of chilli. I loved them, they combined my favourite flavours into one variety and were a total hit for me. I imagine some people might want more chilli heat, but I’d argue that these work perfectly as they are, and you don’t need a killer burn to enjoy spiced chicken. Habanero maybe, but not that much of it.

19 August 2019

Munchies Chocolate Fudge Brownie (Poundland) By @Cinabar

I love exploring the grab bags in Poundland for new chocolate and sweets. Even though I go as often as every couple of weeks there always seems to be something new and interesting to try. This weeks I spotted Munchies Chocolate Fudge Brownie, which is a variation on the regular ones which contain caramel, these instead are filled with brownie. The packaging is very similar to the regular Munchies, and I nearly missed them as a new product, lucky I’m eagle eyed.
The packaging of the Munchies shows a picture of the centre with two layers, with two different but similarly coloured dark brown centres.

When I split one of the Munchies I realised that they had two layers but the centre bit was much lighter that the packaging picture. The centre is biscuit and crunchy, which is what makes these munchie! The coating around the biscuit is soft and chocolate flavoured, there is a hint of fudge but it isn’t that much of a flavour. I’m pleased that they have brought a new variety but as far these Munchies Chocolate Fudge Brownie they are basically crunchy chocolates with nothing to exciting to the flavour. Think generic chocolate truffle with a bit of biscuit. They didn’t really remind me of chocolate fudge brownies, but they were sweet and enjoyable. The texture was thick and a little heavy like a brownie can be. I think I like the caramel original ones more. Having said that Google suggests they have brought out Cookie Dough as a variety too, so I shall do my best to hunt those out too.

18 August 2019

Salzburg - Nuii ice cream and holiday snaps (@NLi10)

One of my ideas for my two week holiday in Europe was to film loads and put up mini reviews on YouTube.  Most places that would have really been quite boring for both of us - but Salzburg would have been fine.

Here are some lovely Brezen/Pretzels for you to eat if you don't mind that there are wasps on almost all of them.  Yum!

As it was stupidly hot (for an Englisher - for the locals it was almost 10 degrees hotter the previous week!) I went for an icecream instead.

This one is basically and almond Magnum.  I shall procede to hold it up in front of tourist hot-spots.

This is the castle from the last review but a lot closer.

This is the entrance to the funicular that takes you up to the castle without effort.  If you buy a Salzburg pass then go right as you get inside the door you can skip the ticket queue and get right on up!

I'm saving that for tomorrow (although this review is going up almost a month to the day afterwards!) so here is a nice view of the cobbled streets that lead you up the back - free - way.  No one is daft enough to wander up in this heat though right?

Up we go! Every angle in Salzburg is very pretty.

And for those of you who have seen The Sound OF Music - this is the exact gate that Maria comes out of at a key part with her suitcase.  Apparently - I've not seen it properly yet... They had to cut a hole in the bars in the gate to get the shot - it's in the final edit but you don't notice it.  Eavesdropping on the American tour groups is great!

17 August 2019

Hanalei Island IPA (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

There was a barbecue smoking away and a DJ outside at the gym today. I was swimming in the outside pool right next to where the DJ decided to set up. After a while I realised I've turned into my dad. All I wanted to do was to ask him to turn it down! However, the sun was out and there were plenty of people enjoying the weather and the entertainment. There was a (scary) clown too, but I have no idea why. After my pool exercises and I had been in the sauna a few times, I did finally manage to enjoy some of the music from the other side of the pool area, so not to get deafened.

Hanalei is a town on the north shore of Kauai, in Hawaii. The label of this 4.5% volume Hanalei IPA from the Kona Brewing Company, in Hawaii, reminds me a little of that fairly sunny and cheerful scene today. Although instead of kayaking, I'd probably be more at home swimming near the beach of that seaside. This IPA has been flavoured with passionfruit, orange and guava. I like orange and guava in beer, but I have had an unsavoury experience in the past with an extremely bitter passionfruit beer. I'm hoping the orange and guava may calm the passionfruit down a little here.

On opening the 355ml bottle I was surprised to smell more of a herbal hoppy aroma. I could also smell a fairly heavy hit from the orange. Things were looking up. I have a tuna sandwich and sushi for dinner, which should go well with this beer. Fortunately on taste the mixed fruits in this beer are finely balanced. From the start the herbal hops add the bitterness, and not the added fruits. There is sweetness from the pale and sweeter malts at the back of the flavour and into the aftertaste. This is definitely a India Pale Ale to be enjoyed on a sunny day on a beach, in the garden, or by an outdoor pool even if there is a noisy DJ!

16 August 2019

Green Tea Kit Kat (Tesco) By @Cinabar

I have to say I am impressed by Kit Kat for bringing out such an adventurous flavour in the UK, the minute I spotted this Green Tea Kit Kat I couldn’t wait to try it. This particular Kit Kat has launched in similar style of packaging to the Ruby Kit Kat and it too looks rather posh. I like the Japanese art work and characters on the packaging.
Once the wrapper is off there is one thing that needs to be said about the contents, this Green Tea Kit Kat is green! Very green!!! This upped my interest levels further, I’m loving that this adventurous Japan inspired Kit Kat is available as a proper UK release.

One thing that did worry me was the aroma was quite strong, it was of Green Tea but the scent is quite grassy and herby and I did worry the matcha in the Kit Kat might be a little to strong. Green tea can be a little bitter if over brewed, and I hoped that wasn’t the case here or indeed the flavour they were aiming for.
I tried some of the Kit Kat and the taste was thankfully spot on, matcha yes but creamy and sweet enough to to bring balance and enhance the tea taste. This does taste distinctively of green tea, but the flavours of white chocolate with it are magic, different yet tasty. Obviously this bar of chocolate contains all the usual crunchy goodness of a regular Kit Kat in terms of texture too. Thumbs up for this Green Tea Kit Kat and I hope it finds a nice niche market here in the UK that leads to some more exotic flavours being released.

15 August 2019

Austrian Kombucha & Pancakes overlooking Salzburg (@NLi10) @carpediemtea

Salzburg was one of the workhorse locations on my trip.  I'd always fancied seeing some Mozart inspired places and didn't want a train trip to go over 8 hours.  I'd have had to change in Salzburg anyway so I stayed for 2 nights, and it was easily my favourite part of the trip.

I'd never been to Austria and my guess of 'Germany but with breathable air' wasn't far off.

I accidentally went quite a bit off course, dodged all the nice parts and went into the homes and shops part. Then to get back I had to climb up the back of another giant hill, but one that promised to have art and things at the top.

Most importantly it had a cafe.

If you see somewhere that not only has a great view of a Schloss but also puts your soft drink into the wine glass then you know you are paying for the experience but I really didn't mind.  This was my first proper look at Austria and I saw it at its best!

And they stocked the Austrian Kombucha that I'd wanted to try in Luxembourg but had the Green Tea by the same people instead.  Result.

The ingredients are in French too so hopefully this little Carpe Diem company can send some of their stuff to the UK so that I can reminisce at home about how wonderfully perfect this moment was.  Maybe Ocado or Waitrose have it.

The 'cheap for the tourists' option on the menu was apricot filled pancakes, but I needed hydration and sugar and this was spot on.  I decided to eat the botanicals. No clue whether that was the right call.

And that view!!

(shame the museum underneath was the worst on the trip - but the sound of music museum at the bottom of the hill was hilarious and really interesting so made up for it).

14 August 2019

Pork Crackling Low & Slow BBQ (Ocado) By @SpectreUK

I'm still working out like a crazy person trying to get the remainder of the muscles in my thigh and around my knee to grow enough to walk and drive for a longer amount of time. Specialist operations on anything can be tough to recover from, but recover we must. As I do weights at the gym three or four times a week and cardio for three days I'm big on protein at the moment. My stomach has gone down quite a lot, so after my weights on Sunday I struggled to fit in my Mixed Grill during a family pub meal.

Asides the big tuna sandwiches I usually eat after weight lifting, I also eat lots of boiled eggs and the odd packet of pork crackling now and then. Although this Pork Crackling Low & Slow BBQ flavour, produced by The Snaffling Pig Co., has a lot of fat in it (which is still good for our diet), it has 21.95g of protein in a 50g bag. This in my opinion is ideal for mending tired muscles, if not so much for my slowly decreasing waist size. That's what the crazy burnouts of cardio the next day are for, as they help burn calories for hours after exercise. My surgeon said that there is research that proves weights one day and then cardio the next is good for you, just as long as you have at least one day of rest a week. The results prove it as I've lost over a stone safely in the last two or so months, and gained a lot of muscle mass at the same time, which is also pretty heavy in itself.

On opening the packet of these Pork Crackling Low & Slow BBQ flavour there was the expected salty whiff of pork crackling and a spicy slightly smokiness at the back of the aroma. These slightly orange paprika coloured nuggets of pork crackling have a decent crunch. They're not too hard to break my teeth, which will please my dentist. Pork Crackling Low & Slow BBQ flavour have a salty pork taste to begin with, followed by a mild chilli spice from the cayenne and paprika, as well as a hint of smokiness into the aftertaste. I certainly enjoyed the packet and dipped the odd pork crackling nugget into some apple sauce on the side, which also went well with the slightly spicy smoky BBQ flavour too.

Information on the packet;
The 50g bag contains 47.5g of fat per 100g, with 0.3g of sugar, 1.24g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.